29th January, 1915
Sergeant Gray: 5th Royal West Kent Regiment
Written 1st December, 1914
Continuing my notes of last week, we did not get far during the night of 29th October, for the Corsican stuck in the mud for several hours, and at eight a.m. on the 30th October, the pilot was dropped of the Needles. The view of the Needles was particularly fine, for in the East the sun was shining through dark clouds and rain upon a long stretch of the coast, and the westward side of the Needles being in shadow the different stratas were much admired.
After leaving the Needles we sailed towards Plymouth, keeping the coast in sight at varying intervals. Breakfast was served at eight, dinner at 12, and tea at five. Whilst having tea a cruiser hove in sight and as she passed flying a signal the men sent up a rousing cheer. During the evening the men crowded near the barber’s shop, and a busy man for the remainder of the evening was the barber. By eight o’clock nearly everyone was in bed, for the cruiser having signalled all lights out there was nothing else to do.
At reveille (six a.m.) the next morning the remainder of our convoy had been picked up, and with the battleship proceeding as there were nine ships in all. The liners were in two lines of four, at least 1,000 yards apart, had almost the same distance in following each other. Naturally, the names of the liners were the subject of much speculation, but eventually they proved to be the Royal George, Deseado, Alaunia, Dongola, Somali, and Grantully Castle. In the afternoon a boxing competition was held, but the swell of the ocean made seasickness prevalent, and the competition proved less attractive in consequence. The movements of the cruiser escorting us in passing up and down the lines of ships signalling to each other were interesting to watch, and far beyond the outline of a French battleship, another member of our escort, could just be observed on our port side. In the night the swell increased, and hurried journeys had to be made to the ship’s side, whilst the rolling of the vessel added to the scene of misery.
Sunday, November 1st, was the most wretched of all the days on board, for the majority of the men were suffering from mal de mer, and if the author of “A life on the Ocean Wave,” had made his appearance on board his life would not have been worth a brass farthing. There was no parade or divine service, as nearly all the officers were down with the common complaint.
Monday, 2nd November, was hot, and during the morning greatcoats became unbearable, and they had to be discarded. In the afternoon a test alarm of fire passed throughout the ship, and in a very few minutes every man had paraded in his proper place. Towards the evening the men began to feel better, and singing became general. There was also another boxing competition. In the night, Cape St Vincent Lighthouse could be distinguished.
I see Bromley could not defeat Nunhead, but managed Tunbridge Wells Rangers; the next match ought to be a good one. We have an inter-company football league, and with Holder, Juniper, Currie and E. Mockford, all men who have helped Bromley’s first team, we fancy our chances a little. On Wednesday we played our first league match, and drew three each after leading 3 – 0 at one time. F Company were our opponents.