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Albert's Diary - July 1917


Monday 2nd

Drafted to Bulford. Entrained 3pm. Band accompanied us to station as we left the band played Auld Lang Syne. Changed trains at Sailsbury and arrived at Bulford Camp at 9am. Bed at 11pm. Reveille 5am. Breakfast 6am. Parade 7am.

Tuesday 10th

5am boarded SS South Western Millar en route for Egypt. Had tea, sailed 6.30. &.30 passing down the Solent A water plane is circling the skip and the boys are singing Crown Him Lord Of All . . . . I am enjoying the voyage. Missed the tide and stood off Le Harve all morning. Entered Le Harve 3.30. Large town almost denuded of French men. Passed the great boom, picked up our escort 8.20. Went below at 9 and rose at 4am.

Tuesday night

Le Harve goods shed on guard 24 hours.

Wednesday 11th

Came off guard at 4am to get to train by lorry.

Saturday 14th

Arrived Marceilles. Carried full kits, blankets and ground sheets. Very hot work. 2 miles to rest camp.

Sunday 15th

Blazing hot sun. Went to docks to unload baggage and stores from train to stores on the quayside.

Monday 16th

Sea bathing and then a route march!

Tuesday 17th

Landslip near camp. Was detailed to clear away debris. 20 French civilians were buried. I believe 3 escaped alive. Very hot working, another swim in the sea later.

Wednesday 18th

Usual routine jobs. Sunbathing later.

Friday 20th

Working on a sheep and goat farm putting up fencing round pens. Sun very hot, dinner in estaminet . Very good beer and wine.

Saturday 21st

Re-embarked aboard Australian ship SS Koerber 1904. HMS Huntsbill for last stage of journey.

Sunday 22nd

Left harbor, stood out to sea. 11.30 sailed. Sea fairly calm, passed a good night.

Monday 23rd

Very fair weather, sea lively but not too rough. Our escort is HMS Destroyers Camelon and Nemesis. I am enjoying the journey very much and know that I have much to be thankful for.

Tuesday 24th

Rose at 5am, It is a lovely morning. We have passed a good night. Praise to the Holiest in the height, and in the depths be praise! The sun is high already, it is a glorious sight. The only thing lacking is that those I love best, cannot share this experience with me . . . The other side of the picture: Vessel should carry about 1000 men, but we have 1700 aboard - this is scarcely sanitary, and very uncomfortable when below. We are also ordered to keep all portholes closed - even in the daytime, it is very stuffy and hot. A mere 30-40 officers have as much room as 1000 men and the have numerous ventilation fans to assist ventilation. We have no ventilation except for the hatches and we are very fortunate in having very fair weather - nature is good for us and only man's arrangements are vile.

Complaints Continued. . . .

(700 miles) Journey by train from Le Harve to Marceilles - 3 days and 3 nights - 32 men, 3 large packing cases jammed into one luggage van with no convenience of any kind - nowhere to lay our heads at night. Officers of course, traveled First Class with compartments having every modern convenience and comfort. We had ships biscuits and Bully Beef & bread with cheese or jam. Are we downhearted? NO.

Wednesday 25th

Advanced our watches by 1 hour so as to get the proper time by the sun. We changed our course last night as a result of a wireless message to effect that 'U' Boats were in the way - being chased by our destroyers. We sighted land in the dim distance at noon today. It looked but a little more substantial than the clouds that surrounded it. At 4pm we sighted an Island about 4 miles or more in length. It is a very rocky, barren place. It is however inhabited. I can see a few huts or houses and what appears to be a church. We cast anchor in St Paul's Bay at about 9pm. There is a fine monument with a figure of St Paul high up on the hillside. 'Paul landed in this place' (Acts 28).

Thursday 26th

Steamed into the Grand Harbor, Malta 10am and have been 'standing off' all day.

Friday 27th
Saturday 28th

Still standing in the arbor, not allowed to leave ship. We are very much overcrowded and cases of sickness are breaking out. I am on guard tonight over prisoner's cells. 3 prisoners in our care - the charge 'Sleeping whilst on guard'.

Sunday 29th

Left harbor at Malta, 9.30am. Fair weather and some breeze which is welcome. Today does not seem much like Sunday. A few men are in the officers smoke-room singing hymns, others are gambling - most men however are just sitting about the ship. Evening service aft at 5.30. Good hymns and very fair address.

Monday 30th

Usual routine, medical inspection. We expect to reach port in the morning.

Monday 31st

Usual parades and rifle inspection - weather rather rough, a few men sick.

June - 1917 - August

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