The Maori Officer Kokiri died early this morning and was buried in the forenoon. Everyone is depressed as he was the most popular man on the ship. The funeral was very impressive being an unusual combination – a Military funeral, a burial at sea and a Maori Service. The firing party was composed of Maoris and many of the poor chaps were blubbering openly; but no-one thought less of them for that. He was a father to them all. The ship was stopped during the service.
A cold southerly breeze has brought back the albatrosses – magnificent birds, usually with black wings let into white bodies, and big yellow beaks. Their stretch of wing is enormous. The way I prattle of birds will lead the censor to believe me to be a naturalist; but they are one of the few objects of interest.
Passed school of large porpoises and saw some plump black-and-white fish which took flying leaps clean out of the water. Further varieties of sea birds – some very small and almost black.
Got a chap, cook or something, to do some washing for me, and his charges were amazing – 3d. Each for handkys. Some seals or sea-lions have been seen. What must be a Cape Pidgeon flew around the boat. Several explanations were forthcoming, e.g. that it was the Dove come to tell us that land was in sight – that Peace was declared. We hear that we passed more than 200 miles south of the Horn. The Maori Officer is seriously ill having been operated on for appendicitis, and we are all very sorry to hear it. He had won all hearts.
The sea pure ultramarine and almost calm. The first night on which the stars have been clearly visible. The Southern Cross is almost directly overhead. Looking forward to seeing the unfamiliar constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. An albatross or bird of that genus was following the ship today, a fine fellow with black tipped wings – something like a giant gannet.
Now having the hob-nails drawn from our boots, as the wet decks keep our deck shoes wet through and colds are prevalent. Freezing cold salt shower this morning. It was refreshing, but you can’t get clean in it. Tonight or tomorrow we should reach the turning point of our voyage (Cape Horn). Great fun this afternoon learning a Haka from the Maoris.
Indications of a storm. Very cold and ports screwed down. Have now travelled about 4000 miles. The Ship’s magazine is to be called “Tiki Talk” (the infantry wear “tiki” badges).
[Note – an essay discussing Tiki Talk can be found here.]
Church parade, before which a short sprinkling first with hail then snow – Fine big rain clouds sailing about a bright blue sky. Some new birds are in the wake, very pretty with checkered black-and-white wings, black heads and white bodies. Had a yarn with a stuttering Scot, who has been fearfully sea-sick. The sea is a fine sight, deep green-blue broken by the white breakers. The cold makes us eat prodigiously. The meat is as a rule rather unattractive, but the other viands good. I am writing in the dining hall, after tea. A Church service is going on at one end through a haze of smoke, whilst at the other men are playing cards, writing etc., and fitfully joining in the hymns. A curious jumble! I envy some of the men their hardihood, old sailors probably and such like, who go about with perhaps only a shirt and tunic, open at the throat. Just heard a fine little sermon, passionate and personal by a man who has himself served as a private and as an N.C.O.