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308   DAYS OF PREPARATION

decks had a terrifying effect. Those on board the ships who were acquainted with Hugo's Ninety-Three recalled the heroic fight between the French master-gunner and the iron monster that had broken loose in the hold of the ship. If such a catastrophe occurred now, they thought, would the iron walls of their vessel offer as vigorous a resistance to a big gun run amuck as did the wooden walls of the warship of the days of the French Revolution. But fortunately the strength of none of the ships carrying the Canadians was to be put to such a test; although the wagons and smaller freight kept up a merry dance as the vessels rose and fell on the giant seas, more care seems to have been taken in stowing the guns and none escaped from their fastenings.

All the following day and night the storm continued unabated, and in some instances the boats were blown far out of their course. There was no sign of the accompanying destroyers, but few gave heed to the possibility of submarine attack in such a sea. The whistling of the wind through the masts and rigging, the creaking of the decks and partitions, and the violent rolling and pitching of the ships engaged what little interested attention the men retained. The following day dawned without any apparent reduction in the fury of the storm, but towards the afternoon the wind had much abated, the sun was shining brightly, and the temperature became very mild.

The coast of France was a welcome sight, although it was far into the day following before the transports docked. St. Nazaire had been the objective port, and, with a few exceptions of boats which were forced by the storm to make what port they could in the emergency, all docked safely and with very few serious casualties, despite the terrible experiences of the voyage. There was no enthusiastic reception at the French ports. With businesslike precision arrangements were made for the disembarkation. Battalion and battery commanders renewed touch with Brigade Headquarters and


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