Previous Index Next

 

272   DAYS OF PREPARATION

direction the ships were heading, the captain of the Bruce could hardly have supposed that they carried an invading army. However he ran for it, pursued by the Eclipse, but he soon saw that he was being chased by a British warship and disclosed the identity of his vessel. The Bruce then proceeded on her way to spread the tidings of this wonderful fleet among the people of Cape Breton.

Meanwhile the officers were kept busy. From the time of embarkation they had been fully occupied getting familiar with their unaccustomed surroundings and arranging for the training of their men while at sea. Lifeboat drill had to be practised, physical drill kept up, and lectures in map-reading, topography, etc., given to both officers and men. Morning and afternoon the soldiers had a twenty-minutes' run round the deck and then an hour of physical drill. As far as possible military drill was carried on, but the cramped, crowded quarters of a transport naturally did not lend themselves to instruction in manoeuvres. During the voyage excellent progress was made in signalling. The men in their spare hours amused themselves with dance and song, boxing and wrestling, playing shuffle-board or ring-toss or any other game suitable to the deck of a ship. Fortunately the weather continued fine; it was constantly threatening, but the fleet kept ahead of the storm and was almost in sight of England before it experienced anything like heavy weather.

The tediousness of the voyage was relieved by few incidents worthy of note. At the beginning of their journey the soldiers crowded the rigging to get a better view of passing ships or points of interest on land, but on the second day out one of them fell overboard and was rescued only after spending fifteen minutes in the chill waters of the Gulf. As a result of this misadventure, Admiral Wemyss issued orders that this rigging-climbing must stop. Two days later, on the 7th, a shadow fell over the fleet. A British veteran, returning to England


Previous Index Next