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Posts Tagged ‘HMT Andes’

Friday 29th May 1942

At last I am on board ship, after months of waiting and wondering it hardly seems credible that I should be here waiting for the ship to move off. I have long expected it, but not till now have I fully realised what it means to be leaving dear old England. We left Wakefield yesterday morning and arrived here in port at dinner time and we are now waiting to set sail, though when that will be I can’t say. My first impressions of the ship aren’t too good and this proved to be right all through yesterday. The ship itself HMT Andes is a fair size of about 15,000 tons, and in peacetime was a luxury liner, though all that has been changed now. The living space is very small and we on the first deck are packed in every sense of the word just like sardines. Ventilation is also poor and I can foresee that when the ship moves off 90% of the men will be seasick. We are sleeping in hammocks and this is even worse during the day. They are packed so close that I dread to think what will happen when they all start being seasick during the night. What really ‘beats the band’ is the meal times. I am sure they think we are a lot of pigs instead of human beings. The dining hall itself is very nice but it becomes so packed that we can’t even eat in comfort. So far we are only getting three meals a day and no chance to get anything else because the two canteens have not been opened yet. The washing up facilities after meals are deplorable and if something isn’t done about it soon I shan’t be surprised if a few of the men turn very poorly.

RMT Andes

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Well we set sail on the greatest adventure of our lives last Sunday morning and tonight as I write this on ‘A’ deck on board HMT Andes I am roughly about 1000 miles from dear old England. During the first day (Sunday) the sea was very calm but on Monday and yesterday it was very choppy and many of the men were very seasick. Fortunately I have not been too bad though I have had slight spasms of headache. Today the sea is calm again and all day we have been running in and out of mist which just now has reduced visibility to about 100 yards.

The convoy is fairly large about 20 ships in all including an aircraft carrier, battleship and about a dozen destroyers it is a very impressive sight indeed. The Atlantic is very awe-inspiring and the green patches of salt which can be seen as each wave breaks is a very interesting sight. It is quite easy to tell that we are getting further and further away from England because the BBC programme get fainter as each day passes.

Now that I have settled down a bit the situation isn’t quite as bad as it first appeared though it is still pretty bad. The food is very good indeed. I have seldom tasted better in the army except perhaps at Brighton, and there are two big canteens where there is an unlimited supply of things to eat such as chocolate (milk) biscuits, toffee and large tins of fruit. The living conditions are still poor. For example at least 180 men have to wash in 5 wash basins. There is plenty of ventilation however and we are on the decks nearly all day doing nothing except a bit of PT (2). and the rest of the time sitting down resting. The weather is still dull and as we are now going south it’s about time we ran into some real sunshine. So far we have done about 1100 miles.

I am not worrying about Evelyn. and home very much because everybody is so cheerful and it really is very catching. Nevertheless I am constantly thinking of my darling wife, and as we get further and further from England I love her more and more. I wonder what she is doing at the moment (7.35 PM). There is a rumour that we shall be anchoring off Sierra Leone in about a week’s time so I might get a letter from her then and perhaps I shall be able to post some to her. I wonder if she is getting my allowance yet.

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