“We all raced for England,” wrote Bertie Cox.(1) “Considerable excitement was worked up as to who would be the first to dock at Liverpool, but the Cameronia [who reached a speed of 18 knots overnight] proved to be an easy winner, with the Metagama second.” (2)
It was about four pm, but they didn’t have a great deal of time to appreciate the “great reception from hundreds of ships in harbour and factories on the shore,” (4) or to do much more than notice the curious rows of red-tiled houses and the lack of tall buildings. (2)
Troop trains were waiting for them, “whose little coaches and small engines — “funny little engines,” said another (4) — looked like toys to us then.”(2)
“We marched to them from the boats, loaded down, as we used to be in those days, with a heavy blanket roll, two kit bags, a haversack or two, and Heaven knows what else.”(2)
“We squeezed into the little compartments as best we could, and were soon whizzing through a pitch black England in pitch black coaches, for raid restrictions were in full force. (4)
They were happy to be ashore, even crammed eight to one of “those dinky compartments.”(5) “No one had much sleep, for there was too much howling and yelling going on to let the home of our forefathers know that their sons had returned to the fold.” (6)
Raymond Ives was more terse. “Disembarkation. Entraining within the hour. Joy of landing.” (4)
The image is from the collection of the Imperial War Museum, which holds the copyright.
(1) Cox Bertram Howard. Letter to his mother, September 23, 2916. Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project
(2) MacArthur, D.C. The History of the Fifty-Fifth Battery, CFA. Toronto, 1919. 4
(3) From Percy’s official record.
(4) Ives, Raymond Ellsworth. Memoir (manuscript). Available from the Canadian Letters and Images Project.
(5) Wills, Archie. Diary. 3: 22. September 22, 1916.Archie Wills Fonds, University of Victoria Archives. Copyright 2007, University of Victoria.
(6) MacArthur, 4-5.