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306   DAYS OF PREPARATION

a day and a night. Movement orders were so careiuliy planned that no one unit on the march entered a load already occupied by another unit, arrived at a railway station where the Railway Transport Officer was not prepared at that particular moment to receive them, or found that accommodation on train or boat had not been accurately provided.

The handling of the baggage, the stowage and lashing of movable cargo, and the difficult task of the accommodation of the animals and making all ship-shape for the Channel crossing went on without hesitation or delay to its satisfactory completion, and, as the transports pulled away from the docks and lay to awaiting Admiralty instructions to proceed, the men, with happy sighs of relief after the excitement and labours of the previous few hours, fell to planning arrangements for their own comfort. The period of inactivity, however, was short-lived. Parties were detailed to the various duties attendant upon the voyage; life-boat parade and drill were held and all instructed as to their behaviour in case of accident or alarm. The detailing to quarters had been part of the arrangements upon embarkation.

Apart from the military stores, no cargo was being carried, and, as a result, most of the boats were travelling comparatively lightly ballasted. The guns and am-munition of the artillery comprised the major portion of the contents of the holds.

Very early in the morning of the day following embarkation, the boats pulled away from their moorings at the mouth of the River Severn and set out for the coast of France. The weather was bright and cold with only a light breeze rippling the surface of the sea. Destroyers criss-crossed back and forth in front of the vessels; keeping close watch for enemy submarines and floating mines, and occasionally signalling to one another as they steamed an irregular and apparently aimless course out to the open sea. None of the transports were capable of making any great speed, but each had a


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