Posted: November 26, 2014 by saraherhodes in 1914

Just before reveille yesterday we sighted a huge rock, or series of rocks.  It was a gigantic affair, rising hundreds of feet out of the sea.  A little later in a big bay we sighted Aden.  I hardly know how to describe it all to you.  It would take a poet to be able to give you any idea of what it is like.  The town was on our starboard bow.  On either side were piled up masses of rock all rugged and peaked.  It looked fine to see these peaks rising one above the other almost perpendicularly.  There is just a little bit of shore on which the town is built.  At the back of the town there are five peaks all in a row.  On two of these tops are signal stations.  As we proceeded to the anchorage we passed in succession the Signal Station, with wireless apparatus, light houses, a prison enclosed in high walls, a grim, long, low looking place.  Then a couple of very strong looking forts, barracks, houses and church.  The place is full of boats.

The town is much prettier than I expected, but it is very barren.  The natives are most interesting and amusing.  They came to the ship in boats.  They throw a line aboard and tie a basket to it, in the middle of the rope.  They keep one end and you the other.  The baskets and ropes are made of plaited grass.  They sell all sorts of things, they invariably ask exorbitant prices, you have to barter with them and put your money in the basket, and they will put the goods in the basket, and you haul your purchase up.  In the morning they were charging 2/6 for one hundred cigarettes, later in the afternoon they were going at 6d.

Some of the boys are quite handsome, but the men are absolutely hideous.  There are African Negroes, Arabs and Coolies, all working together.  The Negroes look the best, the Arabs all have their heads shaved, or else they can’t grow any hair.

We took in coal all day and in consequence everything is very dirty.  The method of coaling is to bring a barge alongside full of coal done up in little bags, and the natives pass them along from hand to hand until they are finally tipped into a big port-hole in the side of the boat.  As they work they are chattering and fighting like monkeys  – some chant songs.  The serangs look fine in their white burnises, yellow turbans, and sometimes red loin cloths.  I had a chance of seeing these fellows at close quarters as I was picked for a crew to row the Colonel about.  We visited the “Orvieto”, “Omrah” and “Argylshire”.  The “Orvieto” had the captain of the “Emden” and the Prince and about 45 German prisoners aboard, the “Omrah” has three officers and 40 men on her.  We were told that the prisoners had hundreds of English sovereigns on them, and were being treated as well as our own troops.

There was an argument between an old native and some boys as to whether he should pay 11/2 or 2d. to be rowed ashore, he seemed very cantankerous so we offered the boys 2/- to throw him overboard, they were very much inclined to accept it.  The old chap became very alarmed.

The harbor looked very fine at night, all the boats were brilliantly lit up, and the lights on shore were fairly plentiful, the war ships were playing their search lights all around.  Bands were playing on every boat, and the natives were singing at their coaling – all blended into an enchanting scene.


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