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Commonwealth expeditions

‘In 1965, five major universities in Britain, trained by the Royal Air Force, took up the challenge and swept through the Middle East – via Jerusalem, Jericho, the Red Sea, Damascus, Baghdad and the Sand Deserts beyond – in what was then the largest and longest single overland expedition to cross the Asian Highway’ (Gregory, 1979, p13-14). Christened Comex - short for the Commonwealth Expedition – this trip was the first of nine such journeys which took place over the following 15 years. These expeditions aimed to allow young people to understand Commonwealth ideals through travelling by road to India. The party travelled in specially adapted coaches overland departing from Dover, reaching Delhi weeks later and putting on concerts and cultural performances along the way. These tours illustrate another vision for the ‘modern’ Commonwealth extant during the 1960s when the celebration of difference and different artistic and popular cultures began to become more central to the debate.

British, Pakistani and Indian navigators study a map

British, Pakistani and Indian navigators study a map prior to the start of Comex on 31st July 1965

Comex 6 coaches halt east of Turkey

Comex 6 coaches halt east of Turkey, March 1974
RCS MC / C26

Buses on the Comex trip

Buses on the Comex trip, by Ken Fixter, a participant on Comex 3
Courtesy of Paul Fixter

Members of Comex 3, camping on the Asian Highway, 1969 Members of Comex 3, camping on the Asian Highway, 1969. The image was taken to send to the company that supplied the green jerseys   (MB BO20) Courtesy of Martin Bennett


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