At sea, HMAT Bulla
Saturday 27 January 1917
It’s just after 7pm so I’m ‘on duty’ for my library hours are as follows: 8 to 9am, 11 to 12 noon, 2 to 4pm & 7 to 8pm. However, tonight there is a Grand Concert on deck with awnings and flags around & numerous lights to make it as brilliant a success as may be.
The concerts we have are not bad – considering: only a few of the chaps can recite, so the programme is comprised mainly of songs, some with & some without the little organ accompaniment. The Doctor generally plays & gets on moderately well: he told me that he was used to a piano (the Doc is named Holder – a son I believe of Lady Holder). I wish we had one on board. But we’re well off for sport and amusement all round. The nice stock of books & magazines in my ‘library’ is now well used, the boxing gloves (2 pairs) are regularly used before breakfast and after tea, deck quoits have recently become the rage – a punching ball has now been put up – so you can see that with our sports, which happen 3 afternoons a week, we have plenty to occupy our time (punching ball had since been punched overboard & a second one is still waiting to be set up).
In the mornings I have the place here to clean up – ready for inspection by the OC & Ship’s Captain who go their rounds at 11 o’clock daily except Sundays. Jack Taylor has now been transferred to the drill & fatigue squad but still sleeps here at night. This is only a one man job anyway.
I am going ahead strongly at reading: ‘The Silver Horde’ – Rex Beach, ‘Growing Toward the Light’ – Mrs HA Doudy & 3 by Ralph Connor – ‘Glengarry Days’, ‘The Settler’ which I started at home & ‘Gwen’ – I think Salome had the last named a while ago at home – & I read scraps of it then
You have read some of Myrtle Reed’s – haven’t you? I’m starting one of hers next – ‘At the Sign of Jack O’Lantern’ – it looks all right. ‘The way of the Eagle’ is here & doesn’t stay on the shelves for ½ an hour. I have a good mind to re-read it.
Today we had a practice alarm for ‘Lifebelts Boats & Rafts’. I am allocated to no 9 raft with 7 others & all swimmers in our lot – as with the other rafts. All the non-swimmers will have the privilege of ‘beating it off’ in one or other of the 4 large boats on the old Bus. Les W and Phil Prime are amongst my raft mates – so we will still have a good representation of old No 4 tent on any desert island we may shortly be inhabiting – that is if the tin fish [torpedoes] don’t put us out.
Since I wrote on Monday last we have come right away & are over 2000 miles from home. The weather has been tip top & all are now as fit as can be. The WA chaps were sick for a day or so but have quite recovered now.
I’ll just have a screw at my diary & see if anything worth noting has happened since Monday. By the way I gave Mr Gilmour a telegram to send you, also Lic’s letter to post, then after getting back on the boat I wrote some to Dorry which I handed to an old chap over the ship’s side to post – I hope you have received them – at least will do so cos they would leave Fremantle only today I s’pose. In case the 2nd didn’t go I’ll just repeat one or two things.
I told you about meeting Mr Gilmour & Mrs & Jean & Mr Lamb & Rex Thompson. Mrs Gilmour was not well but she jolly well would come out – & more she went & told Miss Ashton who came along too. So it was jolly a’right. I’d have liked very much to have gone up to Perth, but did very well in ringing up the special ones.
I was fairly loaded with stuff – at the wharf to bring on board with me. Miss Ashton bought some cakes – 3 bonzars & Gilmours some fruit – peaches & pears etc so my den has been & is still the ‘meeting house of the clan’ – for lunch – either morning or afternoon – or for supper at night! & we are supposed to be soldiers!! Of course our home stocks are the ones that keep us going. My biscuits are all gone – but not the cake. I guess we will just about cut that up tomorrow. Frank Jones brought good lot of stuff & Les Williams some beside other small packets & they have mostly been stored here – cos I have the ‘clinque’ & can guard the stuff well. One tin of cocoa is out but I got another at Fremantle – the jam is still keeping – but I guess we will eat it on the boat to save carrying later on. It will be quite a luxury to have some of Mother’s home made apricot jam when we are on t’other side o’ the line.
Plenty of writing paper on board as you see – provided by YM – with lots more stuff such as cards, draughts, dominoes, reading matter etc etc.
On Tuesday morning we were well out of sight of land – & have since seen nothing but water – but I believe we passed a boat going in one night. Tuesday afternoon we held sports. I was in for 100 yards & won my heat but was beaten in the semi-finals on Thursday by about 6 inches. I was lucky to get as close as I did. I also ran in the 440 yards on Thursday & after tough go was beaten by a WA chap – by a foot or two. That was not the final though. In the high jump I was blocked at about 4’8” or 10” & 3 or 4 went higher. George Potter won – I think he cleared 5 feet. He is about the best all round man in 20/3 at any sport going. He is about our best runner & can beat ‘the ship’ at any sort of jumping.
We 3 teams had a tug of war t’other day – the 9th & 10th in 2 straight pulls & we beat the 9th in two out of three so old 22/3 are still top.
Hoo roo the noo – think I’ll go and have a look at the concert before it finishes. Good night, sleep tight.