Arrived in thee Sound at 6-30 a.m. I turned out about 5-30 a.m. as I was unable to sleep and felt quite fresh. I felt the ship vibrating pretty much and knew that we were moving along at a good speed. I could not see the land owing to fog when I first looked out the port, but suddenly the fog lifted and disclosed Penlee Point about 400 yards away. Speed was immediately reduced and we entered the Sound very slowly. The anchor was dropped but our tug appeared on the scene and up came our “mud hook” instanter.
The Sound was full of steamers – big and small – one of the former from all appearances being a “Q” boat. I noticed the large liner that passed us at sea yesterday morning. We proceeded up harbour and moored up to No. 8 buoy – the same place as last time. Preparations for coaling were made but orders from the Captain – who had gone to the C-in-C -were awaited. Fleet Surgeon informed us at 9 a.m. that a care and maintenance party was coming from the Barracks tomorrow.
About six of theconvoy came in to the Sound after our arrival, the rest proceeding to South and East Coast ports.
I dispatched a letter to Ma informing her of our arrival.
At dinnertime a great amount of curses and oaths were thrown at the Customs officer who came aboard and on the heads of any other person concerned, owing to the former stating that without permission from the Food Commissioners he could not allow anyone to land sugar even if it be duty paid. The officers and men vented their wrath over this you can bet and understand. It seems perfectly ridiculous that after men obtaining sugar from abroad and being willing to pay duty on it they are not allowed to take it home for the benefit of their folks – the Navy does not go on strike for war bonuses or extra money either.
Personally, I do not think the landing of sugar under such circumstances comes within the meaning of the Act, and a little elasticity could be allowed, and probably would be to meet such fair and square circumstances. I understand the Customs man is going to make application to his seniors for permission to let the sugar be landed. I can assure him or any other person concerned that if the sugar cannot be taken out by “fair” means it will be taken out otherwise. The men are quite desperate about the matter.
A diversion was caused after dinner by the appearance of an observation balloon in the air being towed by a destroyer. It struck us as being a fine method for spotting out U-boats. No doubt that is the idea.
Two vessels with American troops and nurses passed by cheering this afternoon – the troops and nurses cheered not the ships, understand.
The S. B. A. who took passage across left the ship today with the other fellows who joined us at Chesapeake Bay. This chap is a Socialist and agnostic (the two are incorporate) but a very decent fellow at heart. Needless to say our views did not agree, but we got along quite happily.
The Captain returned from Mount Wise at 3 p.m. Owing to the short time at our disposal for leave, one-third of the men after being paid and given liberty and railway tickets will go on leave until 9 a.m. on the 27th. The remainder are to coal ship this evening and tomorrow morning and proceed on leave p.m. tomorrow until the 28th, so giving 7 days leave to all.
I had previously decided in the event of leave being given to go with the second leave. Woods S. B. A. wished to go on first leave and so made ready to go tonight. On inquiry he was told that the S. B. S. had informed the Ship’s Police that he was going second leave. A mess-up was thus caused, and he other fellow (Munday) who was watch aboard found that he was down to go on leave tonight. After explaining matters to the Police a fresh ticket was made out for Woods so as to allow him to get away tonight.
I, all this time, had hopes of having a run home tonight until the morning. Judge my disappointment – more so because I remembered that it was Thursday and that I may have messed up Mother’s and Dad’s evening out y sending the letter this morning – when I found out that only men going on the first leave could go ashore. I accepted the situation with the best musterable grace, and then decided to get Munday away tonight as his liberty ticket had already been made out.
The men “fell in” at 6 p.m. and soon left the ship for their short respite, leaving the other fellows and myself to continue a rather unhappy existence midst the coal-duty atmosphere and surroundings now present. Never mind, tomorrow will soon come around and then I hope we shall go away from the boring old existence hereabouts – for seven days anyhow. After the rather melancholic journey of the past 17 days, to be in harbour is something of a pleasure although being so near home and yet so far jars on the nerves a wee bit.
Plymouth was not at all inviting this morning, but the weather was not a surprise since I remarked yesterday that as the wind was sou’-westerly and dirty the conditions Plymouth-way would probably be inclement. I know all about that rotten old wind at Plymouth.
9 p.m. The men have just finished coaling for today and are having their suppers. It seems rather rotten that coaling was not commenced before 3 p.m. when it really could have been started at 9 a.m. We do get some troubles to try us in this ship without doubt.