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FIRST CANADIAN UNIT IN FRANCE 301

 

that they had with them an immense load of impedimenta. This it would be impossible to get to the transport in time, and there was nothing left for the Colonel to do but to take them and their baggage to France in another vessel.

In the darkness the liner crept out of Southampton and headed for France. The passage was a risky one. German submarines were in the Channel, and the Admiralty had not yet succeeded in inventing methods for satisfactorily fighting the menace on that vital high-way of war. But the India liner was well protected. As the men from Canada peered through the darkness they saw "a dull glow some distance ahead" and "a ghostly shape in their wake." At times the lights shifted; now to larboard, now to starboard, and again criss-crossing ahead and behind. When daylight came they saw that these swift-sailing guardians were two torpedo-boat destroyers, beating the water for submarines, anxiously scanning every yard of the channel for the death-heralding periscope. The morning had broken mistily, and as the day advanced a heavy fog shrouded the waters. The guardian destroyers became vague shapes in the whiteness, and then disappeared from view. For a time the speed of the ship was "dead slow," and finally the engines ceased pulsating. To advance in such a fog was perilous, and yet it seemed dangerous to remain still in this submarine-haunted highway. But if any enemy were near at hand they would have difficulty in locating the transport either by means of their periscopes or from their listening chambers. And all the while the destroyers were on guard; now and then the siren of the liner shrieked a blast, which was immediately answered by the sharp notes of their guardians' whistles. For a day and a night the fog continued, and it was not until the morning of the second day that they came within sight of the port of Le Havre, having taken two nights and a day to make a journey that is usually done in a few hours.


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