“The sea was not in bad temper, but choppy enough to keep a good number sticking to their bunks, suspected of swinging the lead by sceptical Sergeant Majors (provided they were not sick themselves).” (2) This description suggests that Bertie Cox’s description of the Atlantic as a “pond” throughout most of the voyage was for his mother’s peace of mind.
Archie Willis had been to sea on the West Coast many times, in much smaller vessels, “in search of local colour” for his newspaper. (3) Obviously he was not affected by the Cameronia’s pitch.
There was a ‘Reveille’ this morning and there was a ‘Cookhouse’ but both were ignored. This was one time when discipline amounted to naught.
Many of the boys ventured up on deck. There was a heavy sea running and we were poking our noise into it in fine style. The boys all look pretty seedy. (4)
The sergeant on the far left of this photograph wears a life jacket of a different and more familiar design, helpfully labelled as to FRONT and (visible in another photo) BACK. (5)
(1) HMS Drake, Logbook September 16, 1916
(2) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. Toronto, 1919. 4
(3) “Mr. Archie Wills Joins 5th Regiment.” Undated (but end of January 1916) clipping possibly from the Victoria Daily Times. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(4) Wills, Archie. Diary. 3: 24.September 16, 1916.
(5) The photographs, of men aboard SS Metagama, are from Percy’s small album.
Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”