WITH THE GREY FLEET
NAPIER OFFICER’S INTERESTING NARRATIVE.
FORTY-THREE VESSELS IN COMPANY.
Life on board tho troopships convoying the New Zealand troops to Egypt, while, no doubt, proving luonotououo to many, had its in tores ting .side Letters Horn members of the Expeditionary Force are new caning to hand in numbers, and the jjener.il expression of opinion of the m. n is that they all had ,t very good time. Lieutenant. Leslie M‘Lemon. writing in diary form to his parents in Napier, strikes a happy note, lie cummcnrcs by describing their departure from Albany. "About 6.15," ho sayt, "H.M.S. Minotanr steamed slowly down tho harbor, closely followed by H.M.S, Melbourne and H.M.S. Sydney, As the cruisers passed tho various troopships tho ‘attention’ was sounded, and ■everyone stood to attention along the decks, while the waishipus dipped their hags. Altogether it was a splendid sight, and one long to be remembered. Soon the Australians started moving, ami it teemed as tiwugli their lino would new r end. The, beautiful Orient H earner, the Or vie to (tho llagship), looked particularly fine as she headed the line, out of tho harbor. As soon as they got out to sea, the Australian ships gradually sorted themselves out into three lines, and the. Now Zealand ships formed two lines in the rear of them. Tho Australians had 28 troopships and tho New Zealanders 10, winch, with an wmrt of live, ships, made a total of 43 it: all " —Whither Bound.—
; “Quit-,? tho principal subject of discussion on board," writes Lieutenant M'Lcr--1 non. " is. as to our next port of call. We all thought, and still think, that wo aim , making for Colomlxy. but tho captain says , wc arc going via Cape Town. Various wagers have been made on the. point, . winch is a. most interesting and important one. It has always been tin? custom on IxKird to post up at, mid-day the ship’s run for the previous 24 hours (say 260 miles), and directly beneath the number of miles to the next port. Wo are getting the former all right, but. not. the latter, to veiy naturally wo are interested in tho subject.. However, wo shall no doubt, lie abb* to tel! at- the- end of a few days’ time from the course wo aro sailing. If we go to Colombo it. wiil take, tin 14 or 15 days, and if via Capo Town aI, least 21 or 22 days ” - French iwums.— Lieutenant M‘Lemon state's that they veto having lessons in French. Tho clots was divided into two divisions, A and B. ilo .states that tho officers have to lake it in turns to give lectures, and they all find them a very good thing, and that it had proved very interesting work. Every afternoon they It ad company sports, which were greatly enjoyed by the men. One of the most popular items was blindfold boxing. as in nine' cases out, of ten the spectators .and the referee received most of the. wild punches of tin- combatants, to the gieat aimii-cmcnt <.f all. Tim men held competitions in drill amongst themselves, and tho lieutenant’s colonel had challenged the other regiments in a competition to he held at (he iicx' port of call. Tho olliceis continued practising the men in bayonet lighting, and although it wan very hard work they enjoyed it immensely. They had to attend to the rifle and bayonets very regularly, owing to the effect.- of Hie. rea air. Flagship Pulls Out.— “'l’llis morning," continues th- writer, “flm Mnunganm, eiu llacidiip. was seen In pul! out. of liv- and drop behind steadily until .-he was a mere -peek on the h-'r;-zm. We found out. via. wireless, that she stopped while.an >.p/»r.ui.>n for appendicitis was pm form-d on one of the men. Wo al.-o had to leave ego man behind in Albany suffering f"int the Ktim* iv.nij hunt, i This makes about i lie eighth ei;-e a:n< ng the New Zi.ilam! troops eincs tho commencement • of lit'' war.” —Their Next Port. - "At last." Im says, w; .’ting on November 5. "we have ■discovered that! Colombo is to be one next port oi call, j it was posted no to-day. and we are ad j very pleased, as tin- Red Sea route is bv j far the more interesting. ’I he FngJt-b j mail steamer Osterley ia just abreast oi us now. having taken ail day to catch ns j nn. She looks very iieantiiol, and i. ’r decks are lined with inlevc.-led passengers, who are all waving iranti; ally to ns. i suppose she wiil rer.vn Colombo yniie a day before ns. as car speed of 10 kno;..is all the slowest troop,.-.hip .an do."
Lieutenant M’LornonV diary is noth eable for remarks on the increased temperature. “At the time of writing (Sunday)," he says, “ we tire in latitude .13 degrees S.. and longitude 90 degrees K., so yon can imagine how hot it must lie. A! times it is fairly stilling. Awnings have beta erected over till exposed places, and these afford ns considerable protection from the sun, but. even so, at times it is rather trying. Officers are going in for light, .suits. Today, as the weather was so beautifully line, the horses, or rattier it number of them, were exercised about the lower decks, and tho poor brutes seemed to appreciate it very much. Although the days are so fearfully hot, the | nights an? always nice and r• ■<> i on deck, and it is the part of the day v. bi' b ve all enjoy. The band is generally playing. and the fellows all join in and sing choruses. Owing to the hot ■weather the men arc permitted to sleep on deck, and it looks very strange and pm ttiresijiio at night to see the rows of sleeping figures with the moonlight shining down upon them.” —Arrival at Colombo.— Dealing with their arrival at, Colombo, Lieutenant M'Lernnn writes ; “ 1 have never in all my life seen such a wonderful scene as .the one before me at this very moment. The harbor is simply crowded with many large magnificent ships, and we, are packed so closely together that we can almost talk from one to the other. There arc beautiful F. and 0. ships, Orient liners, Russian cruisers, British cruisers, and thousands upon thousands almost of funny little native boats full of half-naked humanity. We New Zealanders had the honor of entering this amazing and beautiful harbor first. The Australians at the time of writing aro just looming up on the horizon, but it, is rpiitc impossible for us all to get in here. I suppose we. shall water ana cnnl, and then make room for others. None of the natives are allowed on board, but it is most interesting watching them.”
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WITH THE GREY FLEET, Evening Star, Issue 15687, 29 December 1914