Pages from Hunter Region in the Great War

SteveWilko

November 8: I witnessed a very sad scene this morning and the first of its kind up to date - a burial at sea

- a young chap named Kendall, Third Battalion, died on Saturday night from pneumonia. It was a most

impressive scene, the vessel steered off course and slowed down, several of the other boats passed us.

The service was read and the body slid into the ocean. It was very sad so I will not dwell on it. In 20 minutes

we were steaming ahead again past the other vessels to take up our place in front.

On Monday 9th November we had a little excitement at about 7 o’clock. The cruiser Sydney, which was on

our left, steamed out of sight shortly after the Melbourne, which was in front at the time, steamed around

and took the Sydney’s place. We began to think there was something doing, especially as we were expecting

to meet the Emden. Then, the Japanese boat Ibuki, on our right, steamed across with all her guns out and

the smoke belching from her three funnels. She looked a picture. It was grand.

We heard then that the Sydney was engaged with the Emden. We saw nothing of it but got word by wireless

about 9 o’clock.

On Monday afternoon we buried another poor fellow at sea. It is not unusual to see a boat steer a little out

of her course in the line and slow down - we know what that means.

On Monday night as a precaution we had to sleep at our posts on deck, all hands. No lights were allowed

and all watertight doors and portholes closed. We were packed like sardines. If you lay on one side it was

almost impossible to turn over.

At present we are pleasing ourselves and arguing the point with others about where we sleep. It is a case of

getting in early. Most of us sleep on deck at night so as soon as tea is over we get our hammocks on deck

and swing them, if possible, and then we watch that no-one jumps our claim. You cannot walk about the deck

once it gets dark as the men are lying about all over the place.

They’ll shake everything here; some chap took a pair of my pants yesterday. I wasn’t wearing them at the

time. But I’ll have a pair by this time tomorrow, sure enough.

A Sydney Mail illustration showing typical scenes aboard an Australian troop transport leaving Sydney.

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