Union Castle Line R.M.S Kenilworth Castle
at sea Oct 21st. 1914
My dear old Elsie
It is just sun rise – 5.15 am. a curious time to be writing letters you will say but I am Officer of the Watch tonight and have been keeping vigil. The sunset [sunrise] is priceless – I have been on the top deck watching it – it is right in front of our bows so we are going due east.
I think I told you in the letter I sent from Gibraltar that we are so lucky to be in this ship and have no duty except every five days we take our turn as officer on duty – it is my turn now – I am tired of reading so I am scribbling a few letters. Every two hours I have to do around of the ship and it takes nearly an hour so you can imagine what a big place we are living in.
We are somewhere between Malta and Port Said and our ships log tell suwe are 2,700 miles on our journey. I’m told that we shall be at Port Said in two days and I hope to get this posted then. I wrote you from Malta on Sunday last but eh sea was so rough that the little steamer that came out to collect our mail couldn’t get near enough to us to the mail bag – so it now lies in the ship post office and you will probably get two letters together – that is if the censor will allow it.
Since Gibraltar the journey have been full of interest – for some days we steamed along quite close to the African coast and we waited some hours outside Malta and all longed to land for a while to have a look at the place. Here our silent English warships left us, for the Adriatic they say, and now the Frenchmen have taken charge of us until we reach Aden – then we shall have an extra strong escort for the Indian Ocean in case the Emden* is waiting for us.
It has been a glorious trip so far – we had some rough days about Malta and several wonderful thunderstorms at night but through everything I have felt as fit as a fiddle and haven’t missed a meal – which is the best sign of all. We are not quite cut off from the world for wonder of wonders we are still in touch with the wireless station in Cornwall and get a Marconigram each day – the news is very short but it is better than nothing.
The days go by very quickly – we just get up at 6.30 and do an hours physical drill before breakfast and during hte morning we have military lectures and are all learning semaphore signalling. There are heaps of jolly deck games – cricket etc. but the sun is so strong now that one spends most of the afternoon in a deck chair in the shade. After dinner we play bridge or have a sing song. There is a fine library in this writing room so there is plenty to do.
With us on this boat are the 4th Wilts. with Lord Radnor in command – the 7th. Hants, the Hants R.F.A and the Divisional Staff, about 3,000 all told – in the 7th. Hants are 4 old boys of Taunton School, two of them are men of my time, so through them I have made a lot of new friends. I am looking forward very much to seeing the Suez Canal and I hope we shall be allowed to land at Port Said altho’ this is very doubtful. We are quite a big fleet and have to keep together for obvious reasons so we go along rather slowly and shall take some time going through the canal. I wonder when we shall get to our journeys end – Im told we have 3 days train journey when we reach Bombay. I will try to post you another letter as soon as we touch Indian soil. The sun is up above the sea now and the Mediterranean is a glorious blue – looking out of the writing room windows I can see the lines of transports and beyond the evil looking cruisers and destroyers. I must do another round fo the ship now and see the sentries are not sleeping at their posts. It is so difficult even yet to realize that we are steadily steaming towards the mysterious East but it is a great experience! Goodbye dear old girl I so look forward to your letters at Jhansi.
*On November 9th 1914 the German cruiser Emden was destroyed by HMAS Sydney on Keeling, one of the Cocos Islands. She had sunk two Allied warships off Penang and fifteen merchant ships in the Bay of Bengal and around the Maldives. HMAS Sydney was escorting Anzac troopships heading for Suez.
Next letter Oct 28th
These letters have been published as
Engaged in War – the Letters of Stanley Goodland 1914 – 1919
Twiga Books, ISBN 978 09528625 2 9 £9.50 + p&p
Available from http://twigabooks.co.uk/