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SEVEN DAYS ON A TROOPSHIP, Issue 15691, 4 January 1915
SEVEN DAYS ON A TROOPSHIP
[By A Trooper.] . Daybreak en Friday, Itoeomber 12, saw Trenlham camp all abust.le, for the Second Boiirforcaments wore breaking camp *a route to Wellington and the troopships which havo been prepared for there. Breakfast over, tho mounted men and artillery stood to their houses in full marching kit—riite. bayonet, bandolier, overcoat", mesa-tin, foedbag, ai:<! cover for horse alt strapped ou in regulation, style, and at 7.15 a.m. the. artillery marched out and eaki " good-bye " to Trent-ham. Half an hour afterwards tho '* motniteds " fob lowed, and very soon a long lino of khaki men wound down tbt> dusty read. After goir.g about two miles a 'halt was called, jnd'a'l loose gear fixed up and made tight for the 18-mile ride into Wellington. Ihe artillery was overtaken befoiv Betone was reached, and after that it did p. hj ta-ko long to wend our way to the jetties, when- the three troopships were waiting, all fitted tor the accommodation of some 3,000 men and BCO horses. All arrangements had been made for shipping and stalling the. horses and stowing away tho saddles and baggage of the troopers, awl very quickly the long lines of horses were marched or: to the wharf and slung into the ship appointed to them. About 8 o'clock ww the last of tiw horses shipped, and then thetired troop-i-re. swarmed aboard the ship, which was to Ik* their home for the next six weeks. During tho afternoon a daring attempt was made by about 20 til' the Chinese iirem«i belonging to one of the- troopships to break away, and had it not been for the pluck and promptitude of a- well-known lnvercargill man, who is in charge of the ' Otago Mounteds." the attempt would have been successful. Taking the sentry on the gangway by surprise, the Chinese made a dash for the wharf, but Lieutenant 1" fdzed up tIiTS position at- <i glance. and jumping in promptly "downed" four of tho firemen with solid "lefts and rights." By this time the Chinamen were swarming all round Lieutenant P , and one pulling out. a. revolver took a. c<y>l pot at him. The shot missed its mark, but the shootist, petting closer in. put tho revolver against th<» officer's body and pulled the trigger. Luckily the revolver missed fire. arid before Mr Chinaman could net in another chot he- got. what was coming to him —a wholesome "hut" on. the jaw"—and the future proceedings interested him no more. It was all up now with tho Chinamen, as half a dozen troopeis joined in the melee, and the- sad and si- Try fkemen were driven down to their quarters and an armed guard placed over them. Tho plucky lieutenant was warmly congratulated on his narrow escape, as with tho ■•xccption of a blow on tho n<so from the butt of a revolver lie escaped without any injury whatever. His timely action was undoubtedly the means of preventing t lie population of the Dominion be inn increased by about 20 of the " Yellow Peril." Tho first night, on board was something of a mixture of men looking for bunks, others tor luggage, and. stray practical jokes played by one trooper on another. But everything comes to an end at last, and finally the troopers settled down to sleep the tired and healthy sleep of men who had been " \t\> arid doing" since daybreak. A scratch breakfast was served., and then all hands were busily engaged in polishing up tor the route march to Newtown Park, where the ctti/ens were going toi take a. formal farewell of <h« Dominion's soldiers. After lunch a start was made for Newtown Park. and > he- troops marched in r/ood style through tho main streets of the Empire City, which woie lined with men and women, who threw cigarettes and chocolates to the troopers, and did not neglect to heartily cheer their safe return. Newtown Bark was n-achrd in good time, and tho troops were farewelled. Military life on a troopship is run on th*» same lines as a- camp, and the various daily round of duties is performed by fatigue parties. One party looks after tho hoses—the horse picket : another after the fating department—the mess fatigue ; and yet another after tho sanitaiy arrangements of th-o ship—the sanitaiy squad. All these parties attend to their own little detail, and so the life of tho shin goes on «.raos\i hlv - Tl\<s v,-ritss~ l"\;vv>pev.esl i.s \>*> or. a "horse fatigue'' pa-rfy. and about 6 n'clcck on Monday morning, while on duty. was surprised to he,u- "'We're off." and going or. de'-k found that tho troopships had "un anchor," and were steaming down the harbor. and thus in the mist of a. Wellington morning Now Ze.i----.1 kit's Second Rein'on-omen's said good-bye. Steaming down through tho nairow entrance of Port Nicholson—--painted all grev and looking verv sombre ami drab—the small convey, tendered by H.M.S. Psych", put to sea on their vovage filled with men all longing to " do their bit" for King and country. .Monday was an uneventful day. as the sea was calm, and we went about our duties as if we hail 'icon at =ea- all our lives: but Tuesday told a different tale, as wo ran info a bit of a blow, and tho sea- made thing-, unpleasant, and very soon the landlubbers were stretched out all over the deck and paying their devotions to King Neptune. During the night it blew voi-y hard, and two of tho horses getting down.in their stalls, and it being found impossible to get them up again, "they had to be killed, and ne, :r morning the carcasses were hoisted up out of the hold and dropped overboard. Wedncsday broke dull, but the went her improved, and some of the more plucky seasick patients started to move about and take an interest in life again. Nothing out of tho ordinary transpired du.-ing tho ifay. and we are now steaming along in single file and making a good pace, and the troopers have begun to get their st-a, legs and straddle about the (leek like "old salts." and talk about starboard and port, and use other nautical terms. During the day we got a wireless message f rolll the Psyche giving us the news of the dav. both warlike and political. On. Thnrsdav tinPsyche steamed c-b-e. and signalled" that -he wa.- going to leave us, and reluctantly we watched her fade away into the grey distance. Friday and Saturday came anil went as days have a habit of'doing. and on Sunday morning nil the earlv worms were up at daybreak to get a lock at the land---any old land wil! do. We were all longing to see something firm after the endless wave, and waves and snor-" wav«s. What a shout went up when one keeneyed trooper picked out the loom of tho land. Very soon the rail; were lined with follows in all sorts of undress, nil in good spirits am] happy at the thought of seeing lu'iisfs -2nd shops and maybe "pubs'" again, for—T must confess it—-[ think we were all a little heart-sore dill at saving "good-bye" to dear old New Zealand. ' We steamed up the beautiful Jiarbor of a nort which shall be nameless, and verv soon were tied up at a- jettv and waiting for our sister ships to join us and do Jihewi-.<\ .Although, the hour was still earlv. our entry had been noticed, and we could p'aotJv see the people, on balconies of house.-, lining tho bay waving us a , welcome, and ou arrival at the wharf were met by a small crowd of patriotic enthusiasts, who made u- welcome to their little city, And thus ended tin first section of our oversea vovage. In order to accommodate the large number of men and horses on a troopship ad vantage must be taken of every foot of space. This has been done to a 'cienc, and it is not a question of how much room a man can get—it is rather a matter of how .small a space a man can be crowded into and yet be reasonably comfortable. And yet we do not growl much ; anyhow, if we do. it is a good-humored growl and does no harm. It is impossible to describe the life on a troopship, except to say that it is all horses—s 50 a.m.. feed and water horses: 7 a.m.. breakfast; 9 o'clock, iend and wi'er horses and clean up stable for daily inspection; 12 noon, lunch ; 2.50, clean up horses ; 4 o'clock, feed and water horses; 6 p.m.. dinner; 8 p.m., feed horses and fix up for the night. So you will see that we are merely part of the'horses—the feed part. TV»o meals' on board are good of a kind —Tjjain food, well cooked—and there is no stint 4o the healthiest appetite. The feeding of 630 men is a heavy task, but we luckily hare a good commissariat depart mer.t, and most of the fellows are putting en weight and looking very fit and happy We are, all looking forward to Christmas |
Day, wherever wo may spend it, and I take this opportunity of sending the. compliments of ,tho season from the Dominion's Second Reinforcements to all who may read this hasty description of " seven days on a troopship."
SEVEN DAYS ON A TROOPSHIP, Issue 15691, 4 January 1915
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