news is slow

Posted: March 16, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

Yesterday was another lovely day. We had a swim in the morning, it was very cold, but enjoyable all the same. The troops have been practising disembarking lately, and early this morning they tried one in the dark. I was roused out at about 4a.m., and we took the Brigadier off. We were the last crew to leave the ship, and the first to reach the shore, only three boats hit on the right spot to land on. We got back to the ship and went to bed again, but it started to rain and a lot of the boats got lost, so things were pretty well upset. Since then we have had only one pull of about four miles, and have been loafing the rest of the day, lying in our “stateroom” reading and writing etc.

There are quite a number of French troop-ships here now. One boat has about 4,000 of the famous Foreign Legion of France from Algeria. There are several English men among them I believe. One of our fellows was over there the other day and he said that one fellow was wearing the French Cap with the tricolour on it, and across the front he had a small Union Jack pinned. I believe a privates pay in this army is a half penny per day. Rather a contrast to our 6/-.

Things have been moving a little up in the Dardanelles. The other day a cruiser went too far – a howitzer battery opened up on her and killed 23 men and wounded 15, also a four funnelled cruiser had a boiler accident which killed 11 men.

News has come through that the fleet has broken up all the forts and is bombarding Constantinople. This news has not been confirmed but it is believed that good progress has been made up there. I have an idea that it will be a long time before we move from here. It is three weeks today since we got any letters from you. They are being kept in Egypt, no doubt not forwarding them on account of the publicity it gives to our position through the post office officials.

A rather amusing incident happened this morning. Every day we have one or two Greeks alongside, selling matches etc., and this morning a string of boats were going ashore, and this fellow was trying to sell things to the fellows in them. Somehow or other he got tangled up with a couple of boats, and his crazy little craft upset. His mate – the “hired man” as Crowie calls him – jumped aboard one of our boats, but the owner hung screeching to the bows of the boat –  his terror was much increased by the fact that he couldn’t swim.  The water was strewn with matches, cigarettes, “Oringas”, cakes, and all manner of stuff floating about. In a few seconds boats, crews, from all directions swooped down and scooped up all his stuff and cleared. After a little delay the poor beggar was hauled aboard a very sorry figure, he sat in the boat wringing his hands and tearing his hair, shivering and crying over the loss of all his money and goods. “The hired man” sat stolidly smoking a dirty pipe in the stern. It served the old beggar right too, he was charging high prices, and was arguing the point of overcharge at the time.

There is a boat here that was torpedoed in the Gulf of Smyrna. She is an English merchantman. Goodness knows how she managed to get here. She is leaning on another boat with a hole 14’ x 15’  gaping in her side, just above the water line. Wild excitement was caused at first because it was rumoured that she was a German boat.

We are getting a little war news now. Every day we pull over to the H.M.S.Hussar, and get the news which is posted up for the men to read. Measles seem to be breaking out again on board. There are five cases in A Coy. alone. It will be bad if an epidemic goes through the boat. Boils are becoming common. We are getting no vegetables except potatoes. The cooks have been cooking stuff and selling it at nights, and the result is that our food has been adulterated to make the quantity required. There have been great rows about it. Officers flying round with note-books, and enquiries of all descriptions.


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