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OFF FOR FRANCE   307

machine-gun or light-caliber gun mounted forward and aft as protection against attack. The first day at sea was all that could have been desired. When morning broke the coast of Wales was plainly visible, the air was clear and bright, and the sea calm. Shipping was going on apparently undisturbed, but the guardian destroyers still darted about and criss-crossed the path the trans-ports were to follow. The day on board was uneventful, and exercise and life-boat drills took place morning and afternoon. Many of the men seized the opportunity of writing overdue letters to their relatives and friends, others indulged in games or paced the decks or slept encumbered by large, unwieldly life-belts strapped about their shoulders. Towards evening the ship's crew pre-pared for a change in the weather and word passed about that a storm was anticipated. To many, however, the coming of the storm was as sudden and unexpected as the crash which awakened them to the realization that the vessel was lurching violently to and fro, and that some heavy object had broken loose and was thrashing about on deck or in the hold.

Several were painfully injured in the few hours that followed, until the men realized that moving about unnecessarily was a dangerous and difficult thing to do. In the hold the plight of the animals was really pitiful. Some of the poor brutes, crazed with fear, broke loose and were killed by being tossed about between decks, or were kicked and trampled to death by their team-mates. In spite of the wretchedness of seasickness, and the difficulties and dangers in the holds of the pitching ships, the animals had to receive attention, the shifting cargo captured and lashed securely, and a constant watch kept lest the fastenings of the big guns should work loose and endanger the whole ship. On some of the vessels the Admiralty stevedores were either inexperienced or had not reckoned on stormy weather, and much of the cargo, particularly the wagons, had been carelessly loaded. The noise made by heavy vehicles tossing about between


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