Monday (14th April 1919)

Though a steady sea boat, the “Pakeha”, being empty, is pitching a good deal, and many are seasick.  Enormous green waves go rushing past, lifting the big boat on their backs, and then letting it sink down, down in the trough between.  My hammock is right in a whistling doorway beyond the end of the table, so that I can neither put it up during the day, make my bed in it when it is up, nor get up into it except by gymnastic performance of clinging to a girder in the ceiling and slinging myself into a helpless jumble of twisted blankets and canvas.  Moreover, I am then bumped from below by everyone passing in and out of the door all night.

Have been varying attempts to pace the deck with O. Henry stories – “Options”:  excellent as usual, and I am frequently compelled to turn my face to the wall and quake with laughter.

The Y.M.C.A. have a good stock of books which they are lending out free.  They have also dished out lemons to the low spirited, so that the decks are not littered with peel, in addition to other disasters.

What a humbler of the proud is mal de mer!

Sunday (13 April 1919)

England is not such an easy place to escape from – it has kept within sight of us all day, and now at 5 p.m. the extreme western point is still faintly visible astern.  After breakfast we stopped in a large bay to drop the pilot at the little town of Brixham.  Looking around me I realised with amazement that I was in Torbay, looking at Torquay, Paignton, etc. from the sea – could recognise buildings and landmarks, and even see the tors of Dartmoor in the back-ground.  With a telescope I might even have distinguished the “Blue Bird”!

Saturday, 12th April 1919

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.

Pakeha ANMM 00037849

[Image: ‘Pakeha’, Postcard by Alfred William Dufty, Australian National Maritime Museum, Object No. 00037849]

SS Pakeha & Sydney Harbour Bridge 25-12-1930

[Image: SS PAKEHA and Sydney Harbour Bridge, 25 December 1930, ANMM Collection Gift from HM Hignett, Australian National Maritime Museum, Object No. 00028210]

Thursday (10th April, 1919)

The lady of the Y.M.C.A. insisted on presenting me with an interesting book.  I am to write and tell her how I like it.  (Mais, “Shakespeare to O’Hentry”).

The new book deals in an original way with certain aspects of Shakespeare, in particular with his limitations, which he certainly had; through our hero-worship we are apt to overlook them.  I wonder if Shakespeare ever waited five months for a homeward-bound troopship?