Diary Transcription

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Diary Transcription - 16 October 1914 - 2 December 1914. Author unknown


This transcript is part of a diary held by the Clougher family. Jack Clougher embarked in Lyttleton then left with the Main Body of NZEF troops who departed from Wellington on 16 October 1914. This diary however appears to be written by one of the merchant seamen; possibly the radio operator; on board one of the troopships as part of that convoy. It traces the voyage from New Zealand via Australia to Suez. This was during the period of time when the German cruiser ‘Emden’ was causing havoc in the shipping lanes and the battle that saw her beached and destroyed seems very close to the troopships in transit.

Diary Entries:

Port Said was reached about 2a.m. The place is absolutely packed with ships (Mostly troopships) It is now stated that we are going to Alexandria to land our little lot then proceed home. (Later) We left at 2.30p.m. this afternoon. On our way out of the docks we had to pass a double line of transports and French battleships. Our band was playing the “Marseillaise. All the French sailors were lined up in their respective foredecks and when the band finished they cheered us ferociously! One of their ships was a Waterplane ship, especially built for the purpose of carrying the aeroplanes; and as we passed they were lowering a flying machine into the water.

We arrived at Suez this morning and after a brief stay made for the Canal. I think we are going through without stopping so the run through will be approx. 12hrs. we are continually passing camps of British and Indian soldiers on the banks guarding the Canal against the Turks, Whom they suspect are marching towards it. We can see the searchlights on the other ships for miles behind us. The land for miles each side of the canal is very flat and all sand, and in the distance are mountains. Not a tree to be seen on the Arabian side but there are a few on the Egyptian side. We arrived at Suez this morning and after a brief stay made for the Canal. I think we are going through without stopping so the run through will be approx. 12hrs. we are continually passing camps of British and Indian soldiers on the banks guarding the Canal against the Turks, Whom they suspect are marching towards it. We can see the searchlights on the other ships for miles behind us. The land for miles each side of the canal is very flat and all sand, and in the distance are mountains. Not a tree to be seen on the Arabian side but there are a few on the Egyptian side.

Anchor dropped in Aden this morning. The run from Colombo was uneventful…..this morning I went across to S.S. Arawa for some spare parts. They have a number of the German prisoners on board, the ones I saw were busy peeling potatoes while the officers were playing cards.

We are proceeding towards Aden and the Red Sea. Today was the final of one of the Company’s boxing tournaments. I don’t think I’ll take up boxing for a past-time. These 2 fellows seemed to go at it as if they wanted to knock as much off one another as they could, and you should see the results of the friendly spars! Oh dear! [Handwriting: John Laird Clougher of Canterbury Nelson Mtd Rifle was a contestant.] This evening there has been a good concert below my cabin. But after this lot I am not going far out of my way to listen to a brass band……you can get too much of a good thing! I got brass band morning, noon and night! They practise just outside my cabin in the morning and all the afternoon, and in the evening play in the Library for the officer’s mess.

We arrived at Colombo yesterday and proceeded inside the breakwater. There no Wharves there to take big ships, so we had to tie up to buoys. Lots of the soldiers went ashore and came back laden with things. I went ashore for a run around with 2 of the engineers and had a very decent time. we went for a rickshaw ride out to the Museum which about 4 miles out of town; made several purchases and arrived back at the ship about 3p.m. and got into a fearful row for going ashore when all leave had been cancelled! Colombo is not such a bad place, extremely quaint in the native quarters and very hot. Electric trams and motor cars were a surprise to some of the troops! They expected it to be completely uncivilised!

In spite a very wet day Father Neptune came and gave some of the trespassers a very rough passage, especially the colonel who is not very well liked! It was great fun seeing the victims being lathered with a whitewash brush, shaved with a wooden razor, about 3ft. long, and washed off with a hose! Then greased with all sorts of filthy oil and soot then ducked in a big canvas full of water, just as they stood! Father Neptune himself had never crossed the line before and insisted on being done first. Some of them struggled and fought so they got all the more for their money. My assistant was ducked, much to his annoyance! He was very cross about it as he didn’t have a clean vest and trousers to change into afterwards!

Two armed merchant cruisers have passed today. The R.M.S. “Empress of Russia” Passed at about 8p.m. She is going to take the German wounded and prisoners from the “Sydney” There was a very fine concert this evening on the hatch during which an announcement was made that certain persons was trespassed in Father Neptunes domains and he would have them before him tomorrow for trail and sentence! So we ought to see some good fun!

Have some very exciting movements to record today. We have had a naval battle, or at least one of our escorts H.M.S. Sydney has! I will explain same from the first as far as I can…….. Just after 6 O’clock on Monday morning I awoke and my junior said he could hear German signals, so I turned out and listened for a bit. They were German signals alright! I could not read them owing to other stations working. I gave the phones back to the junior & started to have a shave, was halfway through when he said “There goes the S.O.S.” I wiped off the soap and grabbed the phones…. Cocos Is. was sending a distress call saying “Strange warship at entrance.” No sooner had he started calling than the German came in and tried to drown the signals, but I could hear the island signal through him. The first German signals were apparently warning the island station not to transmit. After they (the islands) sent the S.O.S. he was not heard again, so concluded he had been blown up Within a few minutes of hearing the S.O.S. the “Sydney” could be seen going for all she was worth in the directions of the Islands! Every time the Battleship called the Germans came in and tried to break up the signals, until approx. 9.45a.m. when the “Sydney” called up without interference. About 11.20a.m. the following message was sent from the “Sydney” to the “Melbourne”….Enemy (“Emden” has managed to save herself from sinking. We are chasing her merchant collier. At 11.40a.m. the following was received: “Emden” beached and done for”. [handwriting Capt. Glassops daughter lived at 42 Flinders Esp Hobart ??) The casualties on H.M.S. “Sydney” were 3 killed & 15 wounded. No details are yet to hand re the “Emden” only to the effect that as soon as the “Sydney” had taken off the wounded and prisoners she will proceed and catch us up. It was thought that there was another German cruiser around but the following day a message was received saying that the “Konigsberg” was not so near, so all minds are much more at ease.

After war was declared with Turkey our course was altered to via South Africa, then about four days ago it was altered to via Suez. Every morning at 10.30. we pull out of line of transports for ball firing practice. A target is towed astern and the men are lined up on the poop to fire at it. Some hit is but the majority miss for the thing is bobbing up and down all over the place. It is a wonderful sight to see all the ships in their columns as they are now. The Australians are ahead of us in three columns & we are in two columns behind them. I have tried to get a photo of them but have not yet succeeded.

I am absolutely fed up with everything and everyone! With all these horses and men everywhere is so filthy dirty one can hardly move! In ducksuits too! Before you can get out of your cabin your suit is dirty! I have got my other junior….a fellow called Bond. A fairly decent fellow, but it’s not like having a cabin of your own. I cannot get the place to myself and everything is upside down.

About 5 o’clock this morning the leading battleship H.M.S. Minotaur came steaming out of the inner harbour, the Australian transports following her in turn, and at 7.30 a.m. we left. At present there are 25 Aust. Transports with us, 3 others + the Jap. Cruiser “Ibuki” from Perth, joined us on Tuesday morning. I went to the church service on the boat deck this morning. Poor old Lagden is in a rare fix, he cannot get any sleep in the afternoon! If the band isn’t band isn’t practising in the 2nd. salon, the horses are being exercised over his head! Sometimes he gets a double event!

There have been quite a number of lifeboats out today for practice, some of them went to shore. one party thought they were on to a clue when they came across a footpath leading up to a campsite where they discovered a morse flashing light. Later they came across a house but the inhabitants were a Norwegian whaling crew who could hardly speak a word of English. They took the flashing lamp to the battleship where it was later claimed by an Australian scout patrol! Our people thought that perhaps some-one had been using the lamp to signal the movements of the transports to a hostile ship!

Arrived Albany about 10.30a.m. As at Hobart, all leave was stopped. The Manganui was alongside, so we went and saw Slat, and went for a ramble along the wharf; in the evening we went to town and did some shopping ( despite orders). Slat knew some people there so we visited them and had a very decent time. We eventually arrived back aboard by taxi at 10.45p.m. During the morning a message was received that no photographs were to be taken on the ships without special permission. The O.N. asked me if I was taking and selling photos, and when I said “Yes”, he went up in the air and said that I was not to take or sell anymore; adding that when we got nearer home (England” it would be a different matter; inferring that I could sell them then, but he would not give me permission. Isn’t he a good old sort. Albany is a one horse place, two streets and a few straggling houses. The town is some little distance from the wharf. It is wonderful to hear the croaking frogs all along the road; some have proper croaks while others have a sound as they are tuning a banjo. The wild flowers too are gorgeous and are now at their best. Upon arrival alongside the troops went for a short march of about 3 miles. There are about 25 of the Australian Transports in the harbour, they are in their usual colours and look well; but their appearance is not so businesslike as the N.Z. ships which are all dark grey.

At Hobart we left one of our escort, H.M.S. “Psyche” & picked up H.M.S. “Pyramus”. Photographs are going very strong. Up to today the barber has been selling them at a commission but he apparently has not been pushing them for I have sold nearly as many today as he has sold during the last three weeks. I have lost track of what happened between Hobart and Albany, however there was not much of particular interest.

The troops all went for a route march this morning. All leave was stopped for members of the crew….however that made little or no difference for “yours truly”. I wandered off the ship onto the wharf, yarning for a bit then sauntered along until I got behind a warehouse, then off up town I went & did quite a lot of shopping, including an electric toaster to make hot toast for supper occasionally for the boys. When I returned, I waited until all the troops were back on the wharf then walked on board with them & wasn’t noticed. It was about 11.45. The ship left at 12.10pm and proceeded to sea in the same order as at Wellington….We had a pleasant stay of 30hrs. in Hobart. I have got several excellent photographs today.

We arrived at Hobart about midday. The First Division went straight alongside, while the second remained in the stream until 6.p.m. when the First Division having taken water left for the stream, and we proceeded alongside. On our way we passed close to the battleships. The wharf was crowded. While in the stream several of the lifeboats went out with the soldiers for boat drill; it was a glorious afternoon.

I haven’t see anything of my junior since midnight on Friday so take it that he is seasick, suppose he will turn up when he is well again; in the meantime I have to do long watches. However a continuous watch is not necessary as a signal is hoisted whenever the flagship wishes to communicate by wireless. The sea has been fairly rough since Friday night and has made quite a number of fellows sick.

This morning about 5am the H.M.S. Minotaur left her anchorage & proceeded to sea followed by H.M.S. “Psyche” then by the fleet ----Division of the New Zealand Transport Fleet i.e. steamers Maunganui, Hawke Bay, Star of India, Limerick, Tahiti, then by the 2nd. Division steamers Arawa, Athenic, Orari, Ruapehu, Waimana; headed by H.M.S. “Philomel” & last of all the Japanese cruiser “Ibuki”. When we got out of Cook Strait the ships were formed up into two columns fo transports with a battleship ahead, one astern and one on each side. A course was made to the west; later it leaked out that we were going to Hobart. It was a glorious morning & as the boats steamed out of the heads the Days bay ferry boat “Duchess” with a crowd on board came close up alongside & wished us a last goodbye. I have got a junior operator, not a bad sort of fellow, but nevertheless a nuisance for now a continuous watch should be kept (sometimes).