Gradually the soldiers recovered their colour and some enthusiasm for life. A gramophone played in the lounge, as it was Sunday, and the piano found players. (2) It was hard to satisfy their recovering appetites, however. The breakfast mush was the only good thing they got, said Wills, and the best he could say of the eggs they were served is that they were “well matured.” (3)
For lunch today we were given some meat, which had a terrible kick to it. We refused to eat it. We all refused to eat it and kicked. The bread is mouldy and we kicked about that.
For supper tonight we had what looked like the same meat we had for lunch.(3)
Now that they were feeling better, they began to speculate about their chances of reaching England safely through the war zone patrolled by German submarines. (4)
Sailing in convoy was one of the ways the troopships were protected: the four troop carriers, the Cameronia, Metagama, Northland, and Scandinavian were escorted by HMS Drake. Drake was an armoured cruiser, one of the fastest ships at sea in her day, capable of up to 23 knots. Her day was almost past, however: built at the turn of the century, she had been brought back from semi-retirement to escort convoys during the war. (5)
According to Bertie, Drake led the way, 200 yards ahead of the Scandinavian, followed by the Northland, the Cameronia, and the Metagama at 100 yard intervals. Drake’s logbook records the Northland as leading the others. (6)
A little over a year later, HMS Drake had a fatal encounter with a submarine, and sank off the coast of Northern Ireland.(5)
(1) HMS Drake, Logbook, September 17, 1916
(2) Wills, Archie. Diary. 3: 24. September 17, 1916. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(3) Wills. Diary. 3:25. September 17, 1916.
(4) Wills. Diary. 3:26. September 17, 1916.
(5) Information about HMS Drake can be found here. The image can be found here.
(6) HMS Drake, Logbook, September 13, 1916(7) Wills, Archie. All in a Lifetime [photograph album]. Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”