Arrived Halifax at 7 a.m. Had a good night. Weather here fine, but of course very cold. The Carnarvon and Laurentic (armed liner) are the only ships here besides our own ship. On arrival the gold was trasnferred to a special steamer. Coaling commenced later, 1300 tons being taken in.
I had to take 3 hospital cases ashore at 11-30 a.m. Took them into the Dockyard to meet the ambulance from the Military Hospital. The ambulance was an hour late in arriving. Eventually got the cases and their baggage – not without event – to the Hospital. Cases were taken to the wards allotted by the Sergt. Major R. A. M. C. On asking about the 3 cots being returned to the Dockyard to meet our boat, I was informed that the driver of the ambulance would take them there after his dinner hour. Wishing to see the cots safely aboard I elected to await events.
The Sergt. Major took me to the cook-house and asked the cook to get me a dinner. A roast chicken and two boiled potatoes (in their jackets) was quickly brought along. The cold had made me hungry so I was not particular, and made quite a good job of the repast. I had a yarn with the old cook and found him to be an Irishman, now living in Halifax, but previously working in the Allan Line boats. He, of course, had his grievances about pay and working hours – who hasn’t?
After dinner I strolled back into the Hospital and was rather surprised by the free-and-easy state of things. Men walked around in the corridors smoking and with their caps on, also in the wards. I thought the place more like a barracks.
I got in conversation with the head sister, an elderly lady with two war-medal ribbons and ranking as a captain. She seemed quite a nice old girl and asked about the cases I had brought in, about the ship, and also about my dinner. I also got in conversation with a A. M. C. corporal – an Englishman. He recently came across in the Olympic with wounded Canadians. He spoke about the system of the Hospital as compared to that of the Naval Hospitals at home. I agree with him in saying “It is disgraceful”. There are numbers of men attached to the Hospital, but they are untrained and not fitting to look after patients, the result being that the bulk of the nursing falls on the shoulders of those few who are competent. It seemed to me that it was rather hard work and little leisure for such men.
The Sisters were quite a young lot of women – with tons of “side” I should think from what I saw of them.
At 2-15 p.m. the cots having been placed in the ambulance, we took our departure and soon got back to the Dockyard. I was not sorry either, the ambulance driver and his kid-gloved, bespectacled assistant being anything but good company. On arriving back to the Yard, I made tracks for a telephone and finding one rang up the Niobe asking them to make a signal to the ship for a boat to be sent in for me and the cots.
Knowing this would be a good time in being carried out – it is always a long job waiting for a boat – I decided to go aboard the Carnarvon which was alongside the jetty coaling. I know two of the S. B. Staff in her and met with a warm reception. Of course they loaded me with their troubles and trials, and I must agree they have had anything but a happy time during their duties out here for the past couple of years. The ship arrived this morning from Montreal where she has been refitting. They had a good time there – their second visit by the way – and everything was free to them, trams, trains, theatres and all. The people were splendid.
Like myself the two fellows have done quite a long time in their ship, and again like myself they are rather “fed up” with such life. The S. B. S. has lately been rated Chief S. B. S. and so hopes to be relieved soon. The Fleet Surgeon is a Devonport man named Sawdy, and was saved from the Cressy or one of the three ships sunk in Nov. ’14.
I returned to the Flagstaff Steps (Halifax, not Devonport unfortunately) but the boat had not put in an appearance, nor did it do so until some time later. I eventually got aboard at 4 p.m. rather cold and generally “fed up”, because the afternoon had been wasted and I had been done out of my letter-writing intentions.
I received 3 letters from you, 3 from Ma, 1 from Jude, 1 from Eth, 1 from Cousin Net; also newspapers and Jude’s cake. Of course these were old mails which had accumulated during our trip across to England. Despite their age there were some interesting scraps of news, and there was also a touch of irony and amusement about them, as for instance when in one of your letters I read of your blackberrying with Ma and Eth at Mrs. Harvey’s. I had to smile at the comparison of the weather of that time and now. Jude’s letter was written a week after her wedding, so was rather old. I certainly am not in love with this sort of getting-them-all-at-once business, for it is rather bewildering and yet so out-of-date. Let’s return to the old system by all means.
I am sorry time did not permit of my writing to any of you, and I felt very tired at bed-time, having had a rather busy day.