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274   DAYS OF PREPARATION

of the line. Now, too, appeared swift torpedo-boat destroyers; the Admiralty was taking no chances. The fleet which left Gaspe Bay apparently under the convoy of four weak warships was in reality shepherded across the Atlantic by five cruisers and four battleships.

On the 11th, the Aluania steamed out of the line and speeded away with the Charybdis. A wireless message telling that Antwerp had fallen had just been received. The men of the Contingent had so little realization of the magnitude of the task the Empire had before it, or of the gigantic character and efficiency of the war-machine the Allies were fighting that it was rumoured throughout the fleet that the departure of the Admiral had to do with the sending of the Canadians to recover Antwerp.'

On the 12th Lizard Point was sighted, and early on the 14th the fleet was off Eddystone Lighthouse. Here the Channel pilots were taken on board. It was now learned that the destination of the transports had been changed. Southampton had been the port originally selected, but the submarine menace caused the Admiralty to alter this to Plymouth. Toward evening on the 14th the fleet began to enter this historic harbour—a place made illustrious by memories of such men as Hawkins, Raleigh, and Drake. Cautiously the vessels were piloted through mine-fields, past warships, torpedo-boats, destroyers, submarines, and seemingly numberless transports. Plymouth was a centre of war work, and the arsenal, the shipyards, the factories, the docks were all astir with activities intended to win the war, while on every vacant stretch of land men were drilling.

The arrival of the Canadians was unheralded; but news such as this quickly spreads, and soon the shores of the harbour were lined with an enthusiastic cheering crowd. But the men on the fleet had to enjoy their reception from a distance; shore-leave could not be

'Currie, Col. J. A.: The Red Watch, p. 56.


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