Quarantine Harbor

Posted: September 7, 2015 by tripmanic in 1915

Yesterday morning we arrived in Malta and went into Quarantine Harbor. Malta is just one mass of rock, barracks, forts and churches. It is all hills, and the town, in fact the place appears to be one big town, is built right on the side of the hills. The streets are so steep that they are cut out in steps. At sunset we were taken off in barges and placed in this hospital. It is a pretty big place, there are about 1400 beds in marquees – 14 men to a tent. We are being treated pretty right, but are paid two shillings only per week. I could have stayed on the boat and gone on to England if I had liked. The Sister asked me several times if I wouldn’t rather go on – she could easily have fixed it up with a Doctor. I weighed up my letters and friends, and having to stay on the boat perhaps for another fortnight, and I decided I would go off. Suppose I will be sorry later. Yesterday I had a look around a little, first I went to one of the Convalescent Hospitals at a place called Pembroke to see if I could find Stan Coffey, but didn’t succeed. After I walked down into a town or suburb of Valletta called Selima. Like the rest of the island, it is all hill – in some places the streets are cut in steps. Malta was at one time just a barren rock I believe, all the loose stones have been piled into walls, and the spaces in between, forming terraces have been filled with earth brought from Sicilly. At present the only vegetation about is a kind of dwarfed carib tree and some prickly pears. Barracks are everywhere, and the place is crowded with soldiers. The same clatter and noise goes on as in Cairo, although the place is far cleaner, and not half so crowded. Selima is built in the sea front, and all round the smaller of the two harbours – Quarantine Harbor. I had only a brief look round, but found I had quite enough when I got back to camp.

From what I can learn very few dysentery cases are being sent back to the Peninsular – quite a number are being sent to England. I saw one of the Maltese watering carts yesterday, it is a barrel on a frame work with wheels on it, drawn by a horse or donkey. A horse runs from the back of it with a big sprayer attached, a man walks behind the cart and swings the sprayer from side to side by means of a rope, it is a very primitive method.

When we entered the harbor, there were bumboats all round us selling all the usual articles, and small boys crying for pennies to be thrown in the water for them to dive for. Ever since I recovered that note book of mine on the Peninsular I have been keeping a diary in it, and as I have just about finished it I will continue writing my letters on the last few pages, and post the lot on to you.

Have been playing patience all day, to pass the time away – it takes some passing too, at times. The regular soldier can generally lie on his bed all day long – he doesn’t read, doesn’t walk about and see things, but just stagnates – I suppose it is barrack life that gets them into those habits. I’m afraid it would drive me mad.

Well I will finish this up and continue in the other book. Lot of love and best wishes (especially that you may never be sick in a Military Hospital)

Yours ever, Lance.

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