Sunday, 12 June 2016

7th June 1916

Lord Kitchener boards H.M.S. Iron Duke from H.M.S. Oak at 12.25pm on 5
June 1916, prior to lunching with Admiral Lord Jellicoe at Scapa Flow - 6 hours
later, aboard the H.M.S. Hampshire, Lord Kitchener would be lost at sea after
the vessel struck a mine. 
[Courtesy of Wikipedia]

7th June

Marseille is nearing and I am just longing to see a little of France.

Wednesday 7th June

Early this morning we came abreast the South West corner of Sardinia, our course now lying to the westward of Sardinia and Corsica to Toulon, thence Marseilles.

French Patrol boats (3) seen this morning. Sardinia very rugged. Received wireless stating that H.M.S. Hampshire with Lord Kitchener and staff on board, had been sunk near the Orkney Islands, and apparently all on board lost. Lord Kitchener was on his way to Russia at the invitation of the Czar, to discuss military and financial problems. RUSSIA reported to have captured 13,000 Austrians.

Troops on board have now discarded their Khaki drill and have taken on their woollen clothing.
We expect to reach Marseilles tomorrow morning early.

6th June 1916

The journey passed Malta to Cape Bon in Tunisia, described by Gen. Rosenthal (below).
[Courtesy of Times of Malta]

It took us days before we came in sight of Marseillaise. A most enjoyable trip in every way - calm cool and without much excitement. I should think the Meditteranean was never in a better mood or its waters were never a deeper blue. As I sat on deck late on an afternoon and looked out through that pale opalescence of soft light there seemed Peace and Beauty on every side. One would never dream that the fearful war tragedy was rendering the world. I managed to read several books on the trip - almost the first I have had time to finish for the last 18 months.

No accident or unusual occurrence marred the trip and there did not appear to be that same restriction placed on the men as on other Transports I have travelled on. It speaks highly for Col F. A. Hughes who was the O.C in charge.

I met young Craig of our Dress Dept on board. He was with a small detachment of the 15th Battln. Lieut Butcher who knows Willy McKeon was also on board.

[Will Sparkes' diary entry under the 31st May runs into a couple of
days - for clarity, it has been divided up over the coming entries]

Tuesday 6th June

Passed to the southward of Malta about breakfast time. Now making towards the coast of Africa beyond the Island of Pantellaria, thence northwards to Marseilles.

No further news of Naval Battle. Allies have taken over Customs, Telegraph Offices and Police duties at Salonika. Martial law has been proclaimed. African coast (Cape Bon) showed up at sunset.

Glorious evening.

5th June 1916

The Allied Battlecruiser Fleet in action at the Battle of Jutland,
mentioned by Gen. Rosenthal below.

Monday 5th June

Very pleasant day. Received wireless re Battle in North Sea. Our losses, Queen Mary, Invincible, Indefatigable, Defence, Warrior and Black Prince also 8 Destroyers, while Germans appear to have lost 7 ships, 9 Destroyers, 1 submarine and two Zeppelins. Expect we shall not get full details till we arrive at Marseilles. Being convoyed all day by a Mine Layer. Plenty of merchant ships in all directions.

4th June 1916

The crew of a German UC-1 minelaying submarine - a never-ending threat
to shipping traffic, especially those vessels carrying troops to Europe.
[Courtesy of Imperial War Museum]

We did not expect to have such a long trip but owing to Subs having been sighted we had to change our route and go up near Greece then zigzag down to off the coast of N. Africa and up again past Corsica and other Islands.

[Will Sparkes' diary entry under the 31st May runs into a couple of
days - for clarity, it has been divided up over the coming entries]

Sunday 4th June

Lay in till 7.30. Breakfast at 8.30. Church Parade at 11. No band allowed. Our route is well patrolled, quite a number of destroyers and other Naval craft, also trawlers being met with along the route. Passed to the north of Crete and expect to clear the Western end of the island about 11 o’clock tonight. We then are to head south of Malta. Informed by wireless that one submarine had been heard of on our route. "Caledonian" now running with us under Destroyer escort.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

3rd June 1916

The H.M.T. Caledonia, on which Gen. Rosenthal traveled (below).
[Courtesy of Great War Forum]

It was arranged that owing to my hard work at Serapium I was to be relieved of any duty on board and I made the most of the opportunity afforded to me for a rest.

[Will Sparkes' diary entry under the 31st May runs into a couple of
days - for clarity, it has been divided up over the coming entries]

Saturday 3rd June

"Caledonian" moved out about 9 AM. We moved out at eleven, and very glad we are to be in motion and get the breeze for it is an infernally hot day. Our course lay to the north of Crete. Ship very comfortable and sea very smooth. Owing to risk of submarines all ports closed at night to obscure lights and everyone wearing life belts.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

2nd June 1916

Overlooking the shipping traffic in Alexandria Harbour.

How delightful it was to once more be on the moving over the dancing waves. The most pleasant thought was to be leaving the heat - the flies - the Deserts of that mysterious land of Egypt with its tiresome children. After leaving behind the shores of Egypt Submarines became the burning question and every precaution had to be taken as to lights at night &c. Lifebelts were issued to all hands and various other formulas as to signals &c sent to the Units on board.

[Will Sparkes' diary entry under the 31st May runs into a couple of
days - for clarity, it has been divided up over the coming entries]

June 2nd.

Sailed from Alexandria 7 a.m.

Friday 2nd June

Arrived at the Ship "Kinfauns Castle" about 9.30 AM having first of all arranged with Thos. Cook and Sons re baggage. The 12th Brigade arrived in due course at the wharves. Some bungle over loading of guns, the M.L.O. stating they were not to go, but matters were later straightened out. Also trouble about 1 officer and some 5 men with 12th Bde. That also overcome.

Moved out from berth at 5.15 PM, the "Caledonian" carrying 12th Brigade having previously left her berth at 4.30 PM.

We moved out into the stream and anchored. Very comfortable ship. Gen. Cox, Gen. Glasfurd and Divisional Staff also on board. We three Generals have roomy single cabins. Expect to make the run to Marseilles in 5 days if a call is not made at Malta.

1st June 1916

The H.M.T. Haverford, during her previous life with the American Line - the men of
the 4th Division Artillery, & more importantly those of the 11th Field Artillery Brigade,
boarded her in Alexandria (below).
[Courtesy of First World War Journal]

We reached Alex at about 6am and did not take long to remove all our gear on to the transport Haverford. The train ran right on to the wharf where she was berthed. A scanty breakfast and then it was a wait. The only other Units on board the transport besides our 11th Brigade - were a small section of the A.M.C, A.S.C and the 15th Battalion I was fortunate in getting a cabin between with our own Sergeant Major in the 1st saloon and as you can imagine it tended to make the trip which was to follow very comfortable. We did not leave the wharf that night but next morning at 7.30am the engines throbbed and it was not long before we steamed off.

[Will Sparkes' diary entry under the 31st May runs into a couple of
days - for clarity, it has been divided up over the coming entries]

June 1st.

Embarked on H.M.T. "Haverford"

Thursday 1st June

Completed packing up. Handed over maps, camp etc. to Lord Exeter. Capt. Richards now to be Brigade Major. He accompanied me by midday train. Reached Alexandria in the evening the stayed the night at the Majestic Hotel.