March 9th 1916.
At last this very monotonous voyage is coming to an end. We are two days out of Bombay now, we ought to get there on the night of the 11th, and shall probably disembark on the 12th I should think. I believe the mail leaves on that day too, so it will be a fluke if we catch that mail. Anyhow we are going to have a try.
This is a beastly dirty little tub; all the officers’ accommodation is aft, so we get all the smuts & dirt all blown back on to us, & I don’t think any of us have felt really clean since we started. She is only a very small boat, & the men are rather like the proverbial sardine, but seem quite happy & contented, doubtless the prospect of getting near their own country again has something to do with it.
We have had splendid weather all the way, cool breezes & no rough days thank goodness as the ship would have got into an awful state if we had had any bad weather. We have’nt called anywhere en route, so shall have been 14 days at sea when we get in; not very long I know, but seeing that that is the usual length of the voyage from Bombay to Marseilles (we only came from Suez of course) in an ordinary P. & O. you can imagine how slowly we have travelled.
We have’nt the foggiest idea what’s going to happen to us on landing. Some think we shall go back to Lansdowne for a bit, but I very much doubt that, but beyond this I have’nt the vaguest idea as to what they will do with us. I certainly hope we stop in Bombay a day or two as I want to buy a few things. Also Dick left Suez in a hospital ship just ahead of us, but whether he went to Karachi or Bombay I don’t know, still there’s a good chance of seeing him so for this reason too I hope we put in a day or two there.
For the present I should stick to the India Office address, as I think it’s safer all round. It saves changing addresses if by any chance we are moved out of India again, though I don’t think that’s likely.
Tomorrow 10th March is the anniversary of Neuve Chappelle. What a lot of water has flowed under London Bridge since then, & what lots of things have happened. Having been all this time at sea & having no wireless on this rotten old tub we have of course had no news of any sort all this time, since 28th Feb! So we are all agog to get the latest news on landing. We left during a rather critical period on the Western Front, the big German offensive on Verdun, & we are of course fearfully keen to know how things have been going. And any fortnight during the war is bound to have something big happening in it. Just before we left we heard the bare fact of the P & O Maloja being mined off Dover but that’s all, we could get no details.
All well on board, & I personally am fit as a fiddle, but I feel I should like a leetle more exercise. There’s hardly room to swing a cat on our deck so we don’t get much chance of keeping our weight down!
Must wind up now.
Best love to all
from your loving son
I do hope old Topher’s all right.
The Eau de Cologne you sent in the parcel has been a perfect Godsend on board.
The Cake was much appreciated also the China tea.
SS Maloja, sunk 27th Feb