On board H.M.T. "Scotian"
Wed. Aug. 16
I've seen books entitled "Life on a British Troopship" but I don't think I'll publish a history of my life aboard this particular vessel for the simple reason that there wouldn't be much "life" in it. I'm keeping a diary of the trip and it reads something like this.
Tuesday Aug. 8 Came on board. Allan liner "Scotian". Had dinner at 1 P.M & supper at 6.
Wed. Aug. 9. Weighed anchor & sailed out into the pond at 8 a.m. Had dinner at 1 p.m. & supper at 6.
Thurs. Aug. 10. Saw half a dozen fishing vessels and a big liner & also a whale which didn't spout.
Fri. Aug. 11. On guard for 24 hrs.
Sat. Aug. 12. Sea is getting rather rough & boat is rolling nicely. Feel rather weak at the knees. Lawrence says he feels O.K. but I think he feels rather pale just the same. He looks the part any way. I know this much - he had four meals today - 2 down & 2 up - but I didn't see him at the supper table. Think I'll be feeding the fishes before long but haven't missed a meal yet.
Sunday Aug. 13. Sea is getting calm again and we are really feeling find. Church service on saloon deck this a.m. Saw a schooner & went to bed early.
Monday Aug. 14. Saw 3 whales. They were spouting nicely. Supper at 6 p.m.
Isn't that interesting? Of course it's lightly condensed. I intend sending the original home as soon as we land.
We left Borden on Saturday the 5th and were on the train till Tuesday morning. Got into Halifax at 1 a.m. and went down to the boat at 9. I gave a kid a card to post while we were on the way. Did you get it? We went for a short march through the streets of Moncton and were given a hearty welcome by the people. Guess it's the first time they've seen a kiltie battalion.
But really Cath I'm afraid I'll be as lazy as a yellow dog by the time we reach Liverpool for all I've done outside an hour's physical drill a day is eat, sleep, and read Scott's poems. I don't mean to say I haven't enjoyed the trip for I certainly have but there are times when I hardly know what to do with myself.
There are 5 ships in this convoy - one cruiser and 4 transports. We expected to come over on the Olympia but I believe she and the Emp. of Britain are coming over later. We are in the danger zone now and will likely need an escort of torpedo boats & destroyers tonight. Our speed has been reduced and every man has to wear his lifebelt all the time.
10 min: intermission for "supper."
The boat we're on is a small Allan liner 525 feet long. She has 7 decks - 3 above & 4 below - and was originally used for carrying passengers & freight. The 1st and 2nd class state rooms are all above the main deck and the lower decks were used for storing freight. But at the outbreak of war she was fitted out as a troopship and has been used as such ever since. The hold has been partitioned off into "staterooms" exactly 7 ft. square and 7ft. high and each "stateroom" contains 4 berths.
My particular nest is on the lowest deck, below the water line, and right up in the bow of the boat and it feels rather funny to cuddle up here for the night with the pleasant realization that we may run across a drifting mine or torpedo before morning. I'm afraid we'll all get wet if we do but of course that's part of the game. Two more nights will likely see us in England.
The water has been very calm except for one day (Saturday I think it was) when it got a little rough and tossed us about somewhat, and the weather has been ideal. Lawrence and I were both a little sick that particular day but I managed to eat three meals just the same.
There has been a bright moonlight every night and it's just great to stand up on deck after supper and listen to the bands - both bands give a concert every night.
We had a burial at sea last Friday. One of the 123rd (they're on the boat behind us) died of meningitis and the boats all stopped a few minutes while a short service was read and the body dropped over the side. The troops were all lined up on deck and our pipes played a lament.
Say, what do you know about it - I hear we are to get 5 or 6 days furlough as soon as we get settled down in camp, so by the time you get this letter I may be in Scotland. I certainly hope so for I'm awfully anxious to see Loch Katrine & the Trosachs and all those other places we used to hear so much about at school during our lit. periods.
I don't think we're going to Shorncliffe; everyone seems to think we are going to Lord Derby's camp near Liverpool. So I can't give you my address yet. I put an address on that card I sent you though so my mail addressed that will get me in time although it will take longer for it to reach me.
And by the way, if you do any snap-shooting these fine days, don't forget to send me a few now and then.
Regards to all the folks.
D Coy.134th O.S. Bn.
(48th Highlanders) C.E.F.