Transcription of letter ST 041186:

Hand-written on lined YMCA stationary: ‘S.S. YPIRANGA / 8.30p.m. Thursday / 22nd Mary 1919 / My dearest Freda / We have spent a / most interesting day in Las / Palmas – the boat pulled in / about 5am this morning / and left about 2pm – we / do not see land again for / another fortnight. I hope the / mail we sent ashore turns up / alright. Every blessed native of / the island appeared to be / notified of our arrival as the / bum boats with all the rubbish . in the world were at the entrance / of the harbour waiting for us / & as soon as we anchored we were / besieged by the blighters /

[SECOND PAGE] & the bargaining began at once. / Cigars bearing the name of a / very good brand “Henry Clay” / were offered for £2.10 a hundred / the [illeg.] were beaten down / to infinitely small prices / some bought them at the / start for 25/- & then the lowest / the niggers would take was / 15/- in exceptional cases boxes / were bought for 10/- of course / I did not for one moment believe / they were genuine & many / others were of the same opinion / as the price for the same cigar / in London is not about £5. / the blessed things were an  / awful swindle as a few of us / were talking to an Englishman / who lives in the town & who / came aboard he said the Cabel / and bores were made by Germany /

[THIRD PAGE] and the cigars manufactured by / filthy natives in the port & / could be bought ashore for 8/-, / I very nearly bought a box / for that amount but the old / nig would not see it does / not matter at what price they / sell, they make a nice little / profit. Any brand of cigars / it is immaterial how bad they / are, are worth 10/- a hundred / each – the cheapest cigar one  / can buy in Australia is about / 3d or 2d. The fruit was horribly / disappointing & very expensive / bananas 1d each oranges 1d each / that was all they had. /

[FOURTH PAGE] I was trying to pick up a  / little ivory elephant merely as / a souvenir of the place by the / beggars wanted 4/- for it & an / officer next to me had only a / few minutes before bought the / same thing for 2/-. Bedspreads / were in great demand and they / were offered at £5.10 & upwards / heaps were eventually bought / for £1 of the sisters on board / say they were very good / bargain at that price. The / nig. Would display one / and some on would buy it after / bartering for 1/2 an hour & / if the purchaser was not very / careful the one he asked for / would be replaced by another / worth a few shillings. All the / boats have little back ? attached /

[FIFTH PAGE] & a chord attached to it in which / you put the money & then up come / the goods. Silk pyjamas were / sold for about 15/- the price / asked was £2.10 but the silk / is awfully trashy  stuff and / I doubt if it will stand being / washed – I am sure a person / could not do a quick bend / in them. We have a boat load / of canaries on board – I think / nearly every digger on the / ship has one & they can be / bought much cheaper in / Australia. 5/- was about the / lowest price for them. After the / men had bought the bird they / began to wonder how they were /

[SIXTH PAGE] going to sell them & of course there / the dago had them – for 1/- / they got enough canary seed to / fill a hollow tooth. There were / heaps of puppies that could just / crawl offered at about 10 at 1/-, / none were bought chiefly because / they are not allowed on board. / No one was allowed off the boat. / Bargaining is the greatest / fun in the world – as you can / see there are no fixed prices / & every body gets as much as / possible for his rubbish one / nigger offered me a cigarette / case for £5.10 & another the/ same thing for 35/- I bargained / for about 1/2 and hour through a / port hold over the blessed thing / & offered 10/- - the nig I think / was cursing inwardly he /

[SEVENTH PAGE] swung his arms about & danced / like a heathen – but he would / not let that case go – he was at / one time just about to say “ put / the money in the basket” when his / co-conspirator thief stopped / him. I might have got it if I / had given another a few shillings. / It is really the funniest thing / going and highly amusing / in every way. / Of course we also had boys / diving for money. I have / never seen such a cut throat / looking lot before [crossed out] in / colour they ranges from jet / black to white. / 10p.m. 23rd Several casualties to /

[EIGHTH PAGE] this evening. Four canaries / were committed to a watery / grave this morning and I / imagine the remainder will be / there before we reach Australia. / Could not do any boxing this / morning as the deck was too / slippery having been / washed with caustic soda – so / had to content myself with a / skifs? This afternoon I had / chipped a bit off an old / stopping, trying to crack / nuts. I always expected to  / do something like that – in / future I will be more careful. / This evening I played bridge / & came out winning the / huge sum of 1/6d – the weather / has been much cooler today / & by all the rules of the game it / should be getting hotter. /

[NINTH PAGE] 10.20p.m. 14/5/19  A most unexciting day / except that I managed to pick up / a very interesting book that kept / me occupied the whole day. / This afternoon after [crossed out] / lunch 6 of us congregated in . our cabin & told of our / various experiences during / the last 4 years. We were all / sprawled out on the floor as it / is the coolest position. Have just / been doing a little bit of/ doctoring turning a young / fellow’s eye lid inside out and / painting it with some / rubbish – every time I got the / blessed thing ready for work the / blighter would wince and /

[TENTH PAGE] we had to commence again. / I got quite a lot of fun out of it / although the patient suffered /somewhat. / It has been remarkably / cool today and tonight for / the first time for years we saw / the Southern Cross. / We learned tonight that as / far as Lad Palmas the old boat / was going rottenly. One / engine broke down. The steering / gear went wrong & she was / leaking badly & the maximum / speed was about 11 knots / everything if going well now / & we average about 12 1/2 knots / & for 2 hours last night we did / 17 – I wish we could do 117 - / although it is pleasant enough / on board. /

[ELEVENTH PAGE] 10p.m 25/5/19 – Today has been the / hottest since we left – but it is / great – I picture you having / such a day in [illeg.] and / playing tennis while we were / playing quoits. Went to church / parade this morning & was / awfully pleased I did as the / Padre was most interesting - / I could have listened to him / for hours as his views on / Christianity etc. are coincident / with my own. He is a reformist / to a large extent the diggers / flock to hear him talk & he / has got them worrying over / religious questions to an / unexpected degree. /

[TWELFTH PAGE] This afternoon – Dawson & I / took a rug & pillow & lay on / the boat deck in the breeze & / read ourselves to sleep – even / the band playing did not / wake me up. Am going to / sleep in a bathing costume / tonight as the ordinary / sleeping suit is too warm / & we have a door & 2 port holes wide open / & an electric fan going the / whole night. It is rather a treat / to be able to sleep on the top of all / the bed clothes instead of / underneath them. I have / just come down from the / boat deck where a few of us / have been talking &  / smoking it is too hot to / play bridge. /

[THIRTEENTH PAGE] It looks very much like a / storm this evening otherwise / I would sleep on deck as I / have a collapsible camp / stretcher. / 10.30p.m. 26/5/19 The monotony of the / day was somewhat relieved / as this afternoon there was a / boxing contest and this / evening our concert party gave / their initial performance. / I took an active part in the / fight by acting as time keeper / & had only to take the time and / sound the gong – after the show / one of the fighters came up to / me & said he came from / Ganoah – how he knew me /

[FOURTEENTH PAGE] I don’t know – I do not know / him from a bar of soap & have / never heard his name but it / appears my pater offended / some of his illustrious ancestors / so of course he knows me. / The concert was quite a success / one of the outfit gave a couple / of pieces from the Sentimental / Bloke – including [crossed out] “Romeo / & Juliet” he was awfully good / What is Nell’s favourite line / something about “Romeo gets / luck as ‘ell.” / I decided to risk getting / wet last night & slept on deck / it was even hot there – this / morning I had to extricate / myself from a pile of / cinders I slept on the wrong / side of the boat and the wind /

[FIFTEENTH PAGE] carried the wretched stuff over / my way – perspiration and / cinders are a dirty mix here./ I will have to give up / boxing for a few days as / my partner for hit on / the nose this morning & / is incapacitated. It is / frightfully hot & as I write / this I have a hankerchief [sic] in / my left hand & am mopping / my face the whole time – this / in spite of the fact that the / fan is only a few feet / behind me but I do not / feel at all uncomfortable. Am / just going to cart my bed / upstairs. Bon soir. /

[SIXTEENTH PAGE] 10. 15p.m. 27/5/19 The concert party gave / another show tonight but I / thought it wiser to have a / stretch on the boat deck as / it is frightfully hot. About 10.30am / this morning we struck a / miniature hurricane – it / blew like mad and rained / cats and dogs for about half / an hour the breeze has kept up / all day but even then one / perspires sitting down – we / are only about 100 miles from / the Equator. Today we / were again punctured / for influenza. The authorities / are apparently taking no / risks. Here is a little story. / One man was remonstrating / with another regarding his / manners in a restaurant as he /

[SEVENTEENTH PAGE] had tried to eat his soup / with a fork & when asked the / reason why said “Well a fellow / must have something  to / spear them peas with.” / One man (a) was asking another / man (B) what animals he liked / best at the Zoo & ‘B’ said the / Dangeroos A said “You mean / Kangeroos B said no Dangaroos / they looked like lions. A said / B was silly. B then said “I / ought to know as the cage was / marked “Do not touch these animals / are dangerous.” Am now / going to fix my bed / on deck. / 9.15am 29/5/19 It was too late to write /

[EIGHTEENTH PAGE]  last night as I was plating / bridge with the Col. & 2 others / until after 11p.m. and it was / midnight before I finally / turned in. Managed to / lose a whole shilling. We / crossed the line about 7pm - / Yesterday was quite cool / where as it should have been / extremely hot – it should / get cooler and cooler as we / get south – I prefer the heat / Did nothing exciting at all yesterday – except be / inoculated about 2pm - / it has not at all affect [sic] me / as this morning I was up / on deck doing a little / strenuous exercise. Dawson / just told me that my / hair is sprouting very well /

[NINETEENTH PAGE] I have not shaved it for the / last 3 days – the steward has / just come in to tidy up the / cabin & believe me it takes / some tidying I have to / get away on parade. / 10.30p.m 29/5/19 Nothing exciting today / we witnessed an eclipse of the / sun at midday & received / the news that Germany could / not sight the peace treaty / I played a few games of / quoits this morning & read / all this afternoon, sitting / in a deck chair in the sun / The concert party has given a / show the last four nights. The / same programme every time /

[TWENTIETH PAGE] as there are nearly 1000 / on board & only 250 can / get in at once. Our dining / saloon is used as the / theatre. Next week the / programme is completely / changed. I managed / to kick of a can of very / hot water in this cabin / today & we are all pattering / about with wet feet the / water squelching every time / one steps on the carpet. / 10p.m. 20/5/19 It is getting much cooler / & I will soon have to sleep in the / cabin although I want to stick up / on deck as long as possible. / Played bridge with the Colonel / tonight & won the huge sum of six- / pence. Today we were deprived of / out electric fan as some of the / cabins on a deck lower than this / are without them. /

[TWENTY-FIRST PAGE] Make another stay there. / I was orderly officer today / I had to go round about 32 / mess tables asking what compaints / they had. The soup was too thin, / the peas were like marbles – not / cooked enough – meat too / salty – tea too weak & soon / such grievances are not / universal  - one table says the / food is “tip top” another “it is / good enough” another “it is rotten / but will soon be home so / a man can put up with / crook tucker for a few weeks” / & so on but that are all / pretty well satisfied and / seem to be enjoying the trip / personally I am jumping /

[TWENTY-SECOND PAGE] out of my skin with energy. / 11.15p.m. 1/6/19 Have just finished / playing bridge with the Colonel / I managed to love 1/- - a / very cheap evenings amuse- / ment. This morning I went / to church parade and / although it was voluntary a / huge number of officers and / men turned up. Spent the / afternoon in a deck chair / roasting in the sun but it / has not the same hear in it as / a few days ago. Found / an awfully nice book “Missing” / Mr Humphrey Ward & read [crossed out] / straight through without a / stop. It is horribly sad but / quite realistic & I liked it / immensely. It is getting much / cooler – I wish we could cruise /

[TWENTY-THIRD PAGE] about in the tropics for another / week so that one could then / get well baked & come out the / colour of mahogany. / This morning our cabin / steward came along & asks  us for some fruit – he said / he would get some more / later on. We gave him / about half a dozen apples / & half a dozen oranges the / dining saloons stewards / get us that. This evening / he came in with a dozen / apples & a dozen oranges all / straight off the ice – were they / good? No!!! how he gets / them I don’t know & I don’t /

[TWENTY-FOURTH PAGE] want to know as long as / the supply keeps up. / 9.45p.m 2/6/19 It is exactly 3 years / ago today that I got my / Commission at Tel-el-Kebir / in Egypt. I remember the day / quite distinctly as I had / weekend leave to Cairo & / had no sooner arrived there / than I was wired for & told / when I got back to Camp to / put a star up & be ready to / proceed to France in a few / days. / Have just finished / a couple of rubbers at bridge / & went down about 1/6 Held / absolutely rotten cards / There was a practice life / boat parade this morning / & this afternoon the men’s /

[TWENTY-FIFTH PAGE] hammocks & blankets / were checked & all ranks / were paid / I have just read / “Scandal” by Cosmo / Hamilton – it is rather / good & I regret to a certain / extent that I did not see / the play as I understand / from officers on the shop who / saw it, that the pl [sic] follows the / book closely – I should / imagine thought it would be / very much like the naughty / wife & as I saw that I don’t / suppose I missed much by not / seeing the other one. / A book a day is rather / good going but the stock /

[TWENTY-SIXTH PAGE] of good books at such a rate / runs out too quickly the / supply I am afraid is not / equal to the demand. / 3/6/19 10pm Have been quite / occupied all day after / parade this morning I / came down to the cabin / and did some darning / quite a success. This / afternoon out troop deck / beat no. 5 troop deck in / the tug of war – it was awfully / exciting. We son the 1st pull and they won the 2nd pull / excitement was then / naturally as a high / pitch but we managed / to win the 3rd pull [crossed out] / tomorrow afternoon we / have a bye. /

[TWENTY-SEVENTH PAGE] The concert party again / commenced their weeks run / tonight & the show was a / huge success much / better than last week / I heard 2 or 3 good jokes / Id a negro was run over / by a motor car & lost his / knee where would he go. / To Africa were the negroes. / If I negress had the same / accident where would she / go. Naturally to Africa / No to Jerusalem where / the “Sheknees,” If a / young negro boy had the / same accident where / would he go – to Africe, no. /

[TWENTY-EIGHTH PAGE] No to the butcher where / there are kidneys – They /are really quite good / don’t you think do. / The old boat did the record / rung for 24 hours up to 12 noon / today – 2999 miles – we / generally for 270 – I should / imagine the cooler / weather would account / for the difference. / I must write to Mr. Loardlaw? / before we reach Cape Town / 10.20pm 4/6/19 Have passed a  / very uninteresting day – I / have only slept or read / Have just finished a / rubber & came out 1/- to the / good. The old boat is pitching / and rolling like mad / but I am glad to say it / doesn’t affect me now. /

[TWENTY-NINTH PAGE] It is getting quite chilly / after we leave Cape town / is should be very cold / as we go nearly due / south for some distance / before making for Australia / to get the / advantage of winds / and currents I understand / We expect to reach / Cape town Friday [crossed out] / evening or early Saturday / morning / the mail closes / on the ship at 4pm on / Friday / Great cleaning of / boots & belts & pressing of / uniforms is going on /

[THIRTIETH PAGE] I am going to try and / get off in mufti – much / better than uniform / I think. / 5/6/19 10.30pm Managed to lose / a couple of shillings at / bridge tonight / This afternoon out / tug o war team lost against / another troop deck – of / course I had a little / bet with another officer / apparently it was my day / off. / This evening we / received the distressing / news that a certain number / of civilian passengers / are coming on board at / Cape town & we will be / ? from this bonny /

[THIRTY-FIRST PAGE] cabin as there is a bath / room adjoining and it / is reckoned one of the / best cabins  - rotten luck - / the air is still slightly / coloured on account / of this news. / The “Nestor” passes us / tonight several of the / officers have sent wireless / messages to us most sarcastic / in tone about taking messages / to Australia & they left / after us…

[THIRTY-SECOND PAGE] Then another leant back / in a chair & bang went a / leg so we are just about / ? & absolutely / chairless but not quite / cheerless. / 10a.m 6/6/19 The mail closes at / 12 noon today – We expect / to reach Cape toward before / noon tomorrow / I hope everybody if very / ? & enjoying the holiday / Eastbourne will be referred / to as last month when we were / at Eastbourne ‘ere this reaches… ’

 

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