Saturday, February 13, 1915

On Board H.M. Transport “Australind,” (Captain Sidney Angell)

The Battalion War Diarist wrote for this day: “Weather still very bad. One man of battery killed by being thrown against iron stanchion.” [1]

THIS DAY IN RMR HISTORY: The wind which had sprung up the night before, increased “to a gale by the morning of the 13th, whipped up by a wild cross-sea which pitched and rolled the boat to such an extent that few on board escaped severe sea-sickness.  To add to the resulting discomfort, cold waves broke over the deck and poured onto the miserable men in the holds, while one of the horses, breaking loose from its stall, stumbled down an open hatch and crashed to its death on the deck below.  No one was injured by the fall of this animal, but later a great wave broke over the ship, caught an artilleryman off guard on the upper deck, swept him along like a piece of matchwood and killed him by dashing his head against an iron stanchion.   Warned by this misfortune, all men who had occasion during the remainder of the day to move about on deck did so with extreme caution.”   [2]

“Half a century later Maj.-Gen. C. Basil Price, then a C.S.M. in the 14th Battalion, recalled that turbulent journey:  “The weather was appalling.  We had to have a submarine guard on deck, and everybody down in the hold. They were so sick that you had to search to find enough men to form a submarine guard.”     E. Seaman (3rd Battalion.) recalled that the “stern of the boat was going up and down, and I’m watching the waves to see if I can see a periscope bob up, but all I can see is the roast pork we had for dinner.”  To add to the unpleasantness, cold waves broke over the deck and drenched men huddled in the holds.  But, as J.W. Ross pointed out, the soldiers were not the only ones affected by the deluge of water sweeping across the deck:  “The waves were so terrific that they came right over and knocked the horses down on the steel deck and I went round trying to raise them up with the help of some of the men from the 16th battalion.  And when they were too exhausted we’d just shoot them and throw them overboard.” ”    [3]

[1]   War Diary, 14th Canadian Battalion, The Royal Montreal Regiment, Feb 13, 1915.  Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, http://data2.collectionscanada.ca/e/e044/e001089693.jpg
[2]    R.C. Featherstonhaugh, The Royal Montreal Regiment 14th Battalion C.E.F. 1914-1925, Montreal, The Gazette, Printing Co., Ltd., 1927, pg. 25.
[3]    George H. Cassar, “Hell in Flanders – Canadians at the Second Battle of Ypres, Toronto, Dundurn Press, 2010, pg. 44.


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