Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Wednesday, June 16th 1915

We arrive at Port Said 1.30 am, and we go on shore before breakfast and have a better opinion of the place than the last time we were there five years ago.  It looked cleaner and the shops improved.

There is a splendid beach and bathing houses are quite numerous and a long stone pier runs about one mile out; in the centre is a monument of the Engineer that cut the Suez Canal.  We leave again at 12 midday and see sharks just outside the harbour.

P.S.:  While we are in harbour the arab boys dive under our ship for money and several boats come alongside playing banjos, violins, guitars and mandolins and the passengers throw them money.  We also have a conjurer come on board and do some wonderful tricks.  I took out a chicken from my inside breast coat pocket!

After leaving this port the weather becomes much cooler and drops from 95 degrees to 80 degrees in very few hours.  The following day dropping to 75 degrees and many becoming sick with fever myself included.  Freddie and Marian also very unwell owing to the sudden change of temperature.

Tuesday, June 15th 1915

Arrive at Suez about 500 troops, officers and nurses disembark for Cairo, which is about 6 hours train ride through the desert.  We arrive at 6.30 am and leave again at 12 noon and enter the Suez Canal and see all the British and Indian troops on the banks both sides of us.  See their trenches and wire entanglements which run down to the water's edge.  We shouted to the troops and they to us telling us the different regiments to which they belong and they enquired the name of our ship and we cheered and cheered again as we passed our gallant troops.  We saw the spot where the Turks and Germans tried to cross the Suez and were so utterly defeated.

The heat is most terrible, much worse than the Red Sea.  We felt as though we were being baked or roasted alive.  The heat from the sandy desert and the glaring white sand, how sorry we felt for our troops who had to endure this terrible heat for an indefinite period.  They shouted to us that they had no money and no fags, but money is of no use in a desert and so we left them with only our sympathy.

Monday, June 14th 1915

Two acrobats, man & wife, Mr & Mrs Riskett, give a performance and the programmes sold and takings given to the widow Mrs Norton - about £10-0-0.  The passengers subscribed £150.  The troops give a farewell concert as most of them are disembarking at Suez in the morning.  I form one of a quartette and very successful.  Good sea running, ship steady.  Run 360 miles, temp 92 degrees.

Saturday, June 12th 1915

One of the passengers, Quartermaster Sergt Norton was found dead in his bunk in the morning.  His wife and 4 little children were on board.  He was buried at sea about 10.30 am.  This cast a gloom over the ship.  Strong wind blowing, sea smooth, run 333 miles, temp 94 degrees.

Friday, June 11th 1915

Arrive at Aden 6.00 am.  Only myself, Sergt Maj. Clark go on shore and we met two sergeants of his Corps (Royal Engineers) and had a walk around with them.  Only 2 or 3 general stores in the place, no other shops it is in fact a most terrible place, desolate, barren and all rock, not a blade of grass to be seen anywhere.  The heat is intense, it is in fact the hottest place I have ever been in as a dry heat.  It is only the camels that seen to be at home.  What is now turned into reservoirs having been cemented is said to have been made by the Queen of Sheba and is one of the seven wonders of the earth and the only place of interest to see in Aden.  It comes under the Indian Government.  Aden is a terrible place in every respect, it has not one redeeming feature.  Left again at 2 o'clock the same day and enter the Red Sea the same evening.

Thursday, June 10th 1915

Sea smooth run 362 miles since yesterday.  Temperature 95 degrees.

Australian troops hold their sports on board followed in the evening by a concert.  Saw 2 whales.

Sunday, June 6th 1915

We leave Bombay 4.15 pm.  Temp in Cabin  102 degrees.

Saturday, June 5th 1915

Arrive at Bombay 10.00 am.  We go on shore and take a garrie and drive around the town.  It is a very dusty place and the natives are constantly employed with hose pipes which are connected in the middle of the roads.  The main roads and streets are very wide in the European part of the town.  Most of the natives only wear a loin cloth, the heat is intense just now, as the monsoon is now likely to break any day,  but we are hoping to reach Aden before it breaks.

There are some most magnificent buildings in Bombay.  Victoria Station struck me most as the best and I should say it is the best and grandest Railway Station in the world.  Nothing I have seen in London can approach it.  The municipal buildings are also very grand.

The Mohammaden mosque situated in the native quarter is also a magnificent building and covers much ground.  The large bath or pool where the Mohammadens wash their hands and feet before they enter the mosque to to worship removing their shoes in the first place.

We employed a guide to show us around the native quarter and explain things to us in general.  We returned to our ship dead beat and tired out.  Some of the Australian troops were knocked over by the sun and had to be carried on board.  Our ship had been coaling all day and things were very uncomfortable when we returned.  All the portholes were closed and cabin doors locked and you could scarcely keep your hand on the ship's side.  Inside the cabin the temp was 102 degrees, so Hedley and Fred slept on deck and myself upon the cabin floor right underneath the electric fan and nude.  We are longing for the ship to leave port to cool our cabin down and get a breath of air.

There is also a splendid fruit market here, but what surprised me was the size of the town and its magnificent buildings.

Tuesday, May 31st 1915

Arrive Columbo via Penang and find that riots have broken out amongst the natives.  Singalese between the Mohammadeans and the Buddists.  Houses are being burnt down and many people killed.  Some horrible sights were witnessed by the passengers from our ship the Mooltan .  We have now transferred from the Nubia to the Mooltan and we are packed full and have some five hundred Australian Red Cross Volunteer Soldiers on board.  We went on shore and soldiers with fixed bayonets were everywhere and rushing through the streets in motor cars.  The riots just started at Kandy a little way up Ceylon.

Tuesday, May 25th 1915

Arrive at Singapore 6.00 pm and leave 8.30 am next morning standard dollar sharp.  Settlement $2/£1.  We arrive at Kepple Harbour and take tram to Johnsone Pier and go to Europe Hotel for refreshments.  Singapore is a very expensive place.  Saw the Malay village on the water.  Matchwood huts supported upon poles and just above the water.  Seems to be more Hindoos & Malays than Chinese in Singapore and they seem to own all the shops.