The following notes were made by Cyclist F. Severwright No 2828 of 1 /
25th County of London Cyclist Battalion on his voyage to India in H. M. A.
T. "Ulysses" which sailed from Devonport at 6 o'clock pm on July 31st
July 31st 1916. The ship started out of dock at 5 o'clock pm and
set sail at 6 o'clock pm escorted by 2 destroyers which left her at 5
o'clock am the next morning.
August 1st 1916. Sea very calm until the
outskirts of the Bay of Biscay were reached where it turned somewhat rough
August 2nd 1916. Weather fine, sea choppy.
1916. Weather fine, sea calm again. The sailor in charge of the gun at the
rear of the ship tested the gun, the target being a box thrown overboard;
shots went very close indeed although box was out of sight with naked eye.
Inoculated against Cholera, felt no pain.
August 4th 1916. Arrived at
Gibraltar at 9 o'clock am. The rock is a magnificent sight and is a pretty
view when the lights are all lit at night. We were allowed ashore only to
use the latrines. People on Quay threw tobacco, cigarettes and cigars onto
the ship to the troops on board.
August 5th 1916. Went on guard at
night. Concert on board this evening, not a great success.
1916. Ship sailed from Gib at 7 o'clock am escorted by a gunboat. Came off
guard at 6 o'clock pm.
August 7th 1916. Sea calm, in sight of Moroccan
coast, escort still with us. Now passing through danger zone, not allowed
to smoke, talk or sing after lights out at 7 o'clock pm. We must also
carry our lifebelts about with us and when sleeping have them near by. We
are now slinging our hammocks on deck in convenient places as it is too
hot to sleep below. In the dinner time a French destroyer came up with us
and left later in the day.
August 8th 1916. Sea still calm, almost like
a billiard table. Algerian coast in sight.
August 9th 1916. Arrived at
Malta about 11 o'clock am dropped anchor in Valetta. Maltese came off from
shore in boats with tobacco and several other things to sell but we were
kept off by the harbour police, but a little business was done on the sly.
If one bought 100 Cigs in a box when it was opened it contained about 60.
Here there were numbers of boys in small boats who dive into the water
after pennies thrown into the sea by those on board. A troopship left as
we arrived laden with ???? we were told for France. There was not much of
a view from where we were anchored but I should say the scenery was pretty
and interesting. We were not allowed on shore. Fortifications are all over
the place, the gunners were at target practice as we entered the harbour,
we could see the shots hitting the water near the targets. I was told the
gunners were not allowed to hit the targets but to fire to right or left
of them as directed. Inoculation against Cholera again this afternoon. Got
our first war news, since leaving England, this afternoon, cost me 2d.
August 10th 1916. Weather still hot. Still in Malta.
August 11th 1916.
Nothing of importance to note.
August 12th 1916. Shipped a Brigadier
General today he's bound for Salonica. First thing he did was to inspect
us. Had a concert on board at 8 o'clock pm. Went off a treat.
13th 1916. Weather still fine & hot. Divine Service at 10.45 am on top
deck. Nothing to do as usual but doze all day.
August 14th 1916. Left
Malta at 5 0'clock pm escorted by a destroyer, a nice fast one this time.
Sea beautiful & calm.
August 15th 1916. Weather still glorious. We are
now in a faropen(?) danger zone, viz the Aegean sea, but so far have not
seen anything suspicious.
August 16th 1916. Are now passing the coast
of Greece. Our escort left us at 6 am and another vessel took its place.
There are a good many islands in these waters, which must be inhabited as
I saw the smoke of several fires rising. We learn we are on our way to
Salonica. The new escort left us at 3 pm and its place was taken by a
August 17th 1916. Another fine day. In this region I
notice that at nights there is always a damp and rather cold mist and a
stiff breeze blowing. The troops on board which are bound for Salonica are
ready for going ashore, there are about 1800 in all, all different
regiments. Early this morning we saw a seaplane. Arrived at Salonica at
7.30 am. There was a good many hospital ships in harbour one a very large
ship named "La France" had four funnels there were also a few battleships
and we saw 2 submarines. Small steamers took the troops off in the
afternoon. The scenery from the boat is lovely and the place seems to be
larger than I should have thought it to be. There are now only about 600
left on board.
August 18th 1916. Another fine hot day. The firing line
is only 15 miles away and guns could be heard last night. Before breakfast
two Italian transports came into port loaded with troops. We have now
shifted our quarters from the after part of ship to amidships where it is
much more comfortable. For the last two nights we have had neither
blankets ot hammocks, so I have slept below. Went on guard tonight at 6
pm. We left Salonica at 6.30 pm after shipping 6 Bulgarian prisoners of
August 19th 1916. Beautiful day but very windy. Came off guard at
August 20th 1916. Divine Service at 9.30 am. Sermon
interesting. Boat is nearing Port Said now and as we can't make port
tonight are proceeding slowly.
August 21st 1916. Arrived Port Said at
9.30 am anchored just off entrance to Suez Canal. Can't say I care for
place much it is very hot. There are seaplanes on the shore near us. A
draft of RFC men disembarked for Eygpt. They took our Gun off in the
morning. The ship commenced coaling early in the afternoon and the
operation is performed by natives in this manner. The lighters come
alongside and two planks are placed against the sided of the ship and the
natives run up and down these with baskets full of coal on their heads and
tip the contents into the chute at the ship's side. Whilst running along
the planks they keep up a continuous chant which it is really funny to
hear at first but which gets somewhat nerve-racking after a while in fact
the row gets hideous. The natives are very cunning you have to watch them
all over the ship.
August 22nd 1916. Left Port Said at 3.30 pm the
weather being very hot indeed. We entered the Suez Canal at a very slow
speed, should say 6 knots, which was continued all along the Canal. On one
side of the canal there is all sand and on the other a railway runs
alongside which are planted avenues of trees and the contrast between the
two banks is striking. We passed an Armenian Refugee Camp on the desert
side near the entrance to the Canal and further down on both sides we
passed encampments of British Troops. I shouldn't like to be stationed
here, too damned hot for my liking, and nothing to see but sand. Only one
boat can pass along the Canal, in one direction, at a time, and on the
front of each ship is fitted a searchlight which is kept alight all night
if travelling after dark. When the ship reaches the first of the Bitter
Lakes she finds several ships waiting to proceed to Port Said.
23rd 1916. Physical Drill at 6 o'clock for first time since we have been
on board. Arrived at Port Suez at 1 o'clock. We went for a short route
march and on coming back I went on guard. Troops not allowed to swim on
account of sharks. Beautiful sunset here.
August 24th 1916. Chaps had
physical drill on Quay at 5.30 o'clock am but I missed it as I was on
guard, also I missed a sortie march in the evening. Our chaps gave a
concert this evening which proved a great success, best on board so far.
August 25th 1916. More physical drill at 5.30 am. Took on board this
morning a number of drafts of British & Indian troops. The Britishers had
been convalescent in Alexandria for some time & were going back to
Mesopotamia. We moved off from Quay into the roads at 12.00 noon and
anchored there till 3.30 pm then continued our voyage.
1916. Are now in Red Sea & it's growing hotter & hotter each day . passed
what is known as "Hell's Gate" plenty of sharks in this region.
27th 1916. Weather unchanged still damned hot. Divine Service at 10 am.
Sermon on the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Well if it were as hot then
as it is now they must have had a time.
August 28th 1916. Still hot.
Letters handed in for posting them at Aden. Passed 12 small islands known
as "The Twelve Apostles" not far from Aden. Thunder storm at night, sea
rough, heavy rain & lightning. Very vivid splendid sight. First rain since
we left Richmond.
August 29th 1916. Weather cloudy not so hot. Just as
we were nearing Aden about 12.15 pm one of the stewards (I believe bedroom
steward) shot himself in the head and threw himself overboard. The ship
put off a boat to search for him but came back unsuccessful. The steward
had a row with the chief steward I am told & had been degraded. Leaves a
wife & children damned fool. At 1.30 pm we anchored off Aden, can't say I
like the place at all. Bought 50 Cigars here for 1s/-, good too. Left Aden
at 8 o'clock pm, the storm of yesterday still knocking about.
30th 1916. Weather fine now in Indian Ocean. Went on guard at 6 pm. Sea is
now getting rough & ship is rolling. Several chaps sick, I wasn't.
August 31st 1916. Weather hot, sea rough. Came off guard at 6 o'clock pm.
September 1st 1916. Sports on board today, boxing, running, tug-of-war
etc. one of our chaps won the featherweight boxing match. Another concert
September 2nd 1916. Fine day, sea calm. Washing our
clothes now as we are nearing Bombay. Another concert tonight.
September 3rd 1916. Sea like a mill board, hardly a movement. Divine
Service at 10 am. Handed in hammock this morning. Sighted Bombay @ 5 pm
anchored outside at 8 pm. Sunset was very beautiful, best I have ever
September 4th 1916. Docked in Alexandra Dock at 6 am this morning
and had to be ready to disembark at 8 am, was however put on guard on Dock
Gate at 9 am whilst on guard took a chance to have a look round, but don't
think much of the part of Bombay round the Docks. When on guard in the
afternoon the Custom House Officers gave Arthur and I a cup of tea and
chatted with us for a few minutes. We had a tea in refreshment place in
the Dock and at 5 pm started for Victoria Station Bombay and caught the
9.30 (railway time 21.30) train Madras Mail Express for Bangalore on G. I.
P. (Great Indian Peninsular Rly.) Before leaving Bombay we were give a
towel, cigarettes & soap a present from the people of Bombay. We had 4 in
a compartment sleeping in racks 2 on each side they issued us with a
blanket, and I slept well right through the night. I believe I could sleep
September 6th 1916. I awoke at 5.30 am got up at 6.15 am
and had a wash. The scenery is not so bad. We stopped at Kulti for
breakfast, 2 eggs, 2 slices bread & butter & 2 mugs tea. Stopped at Wadi
at 12.30 pm for dinner, nice dish of stew, went down lovely. Scenery is
getting more beautiful; ran into a thunderstorm just before reaching
Guntakal Junction where we had tea and changed into another train on the
M. S. M. Ry (Madras and Southern Mahratta Rly.) Travelling on this line is
very different from the G. I. P. The track is narrow gauge and carriages
much smaller. Still I slept, but in jerks, and awoke at 5 am. We arrived
in Bangalore at 6.45 am on the 6th September 1916, and were met by the
Band of the First Battalion and marched to the camp. We are placed in
Quarantine for a fortnight, perhaps longer, I hope not.
So ends my
journey to Bangalore, which has taken exactly 6 weeks from the time I left
Richmond Park Camp till I arrived in Bangalore, even to the hour, and I am
now looking forward to the time when I shall go over the same ground again
on the homeward trip, hoping it will not take so long.
Acknowledgements to Charlotte Hubbard, granddaughter.