Just emerging from the estuary of the Thames, in fair cloudy weather, with a slight ripple on the sea. My feelings on leaving England are very different from those experienced on first sighting her shores. No thrill or enthusiasm about it this time, just a deep thankfulness.
The “diggers” make foolish comparisons between the old world and our own tiny settlement, oblivious to the fact that man must turn to that land, whatever and wherever it be, which is his home.
We marched out of Larkhill towards 4 a.m., in drizzling rain, but the band heroically played us down the long hill to the monster city, which we were something like an hour and a half traversing before reaching Tilbury Docks, where a Lighter carried us aboard the “Pakeha”. She is a fine vessel, though a cargo boat.
There is plenty of deck space, and everything seems well, except the sleeping accommodation – hammocks slung above the mess tables (mine is right in the doorway).
All I can now see of Old England is a thin blue strip.
8 p.m. We all have our hammocks slung, and you never saw such a jumble. Followed the white cliffs for many miles, getting a good view of Dover etc. – passed countless vessels, and the masts of sunken ones.
[Image: ‘Pakeha’, Postcard by Alfred William Dufty, Australian National Maritime Museum, Object No. 00037849]
[Image: SS PAKEHA and Sydney Harbour Bridge, 25 December 1930, ANMM Collection Gift from HM Hignett, Australian National Maritime Museum, Object No. 00028210]
3 thoughts on “Saturday, 12th April 1919”
Such a moment, surely.
It is such a moment, Denis. I had my own sense of “home stretch” putting the post out.
Lincoln’s comment the day before about having the “jumps” since the war ended is one of those relatively rare but revealing comments about his state of mind. I don’t have any good information on how long it took him to overcome the “jumps”.
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John, I missed that and I think you are right about the “jumps”. My initial interpretation mistakenly focussed on his irritation at having “waited five months for a homeward-bound troopship”. I also think you have earned some exhilaration with your own sense of the “home stretch”.
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