COMEX coaches outside US airbase gym, Frankfurt

COMEX - the journey of a lifetime

COMEX 2 (the Commonwealth Overland Expedition to Pakistan and India) was an expedition that saw university students across the country jump on buses and drive across Europe and the Middle East and beyond, for a two and a half month overland expedition to India, and back. There were several COMEX expeditions over the years, with the first ever one setting off in 1965.

The expeditions, 14 in all, were run by retired Gurka Regiment Lieutenant Colonel Lionel Gregory, OBE, commonly known as ‘Greg’ and Anne, who was later to become his wife. Greg set up COMEX, because he wanted young people from the sixties to experience the world and interact with their peers in other countries through cultural and intellectual activities as well as common adventure. He referred to the participants as his ‘army for peace’.

Each coach on a COMEX expedition was allocated to a British university. The total travelling distance for the Exeter coach (including back to the UK via very much the same route) was approximately 15,000 miles. This is a route that seems astonishing and would be almost impossible, today, travelling through countries such as Iran and Afghanistan, as well as the former Yugoslavia.

Exeter Alumni Norman Leigh (Latin, 1969) and David Hayward (Chemistry, 1968) took part in COMEX 2 in 1967, while Barbara Schudel née Simpson (French and German, 1968) joined Comex 3 in 1969. The three were part of a recent reunion, held at Reed Hall, on the University campus.

Fifty years on from COMEX 2 we talked to them about their journey of a lifetime ...

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Date: 30 October 2017

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