4th December 1915 Saturday
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Douglas was to follow the next day the 4th December and had time to send a telegram home informing his parents that “My regiment Welsh Division left yesterday, am following”.
Douglas then set sail from Southampton docks at 5pm for Le Havre aboard SS. Huanchaco*. The cargo was 300 men 12 officers and 56 horses. They made their way slowly down Southampton Water in the darkened skies, daylight all but gone. It was wet and very blustery hardly ideal conditions for a crossing. Four hours later they lay at anchor in sight of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight. There the captain informed the ship’s company that they would remain at anchor until the storm subsided due to the horses on board. The Huanchaco remained there for almost a day before the weather had calmed enough to put to sea.
So began this sometimes light-hearted, sometimes horrifying story of four years of terror, strife and the horrors of war for this young man from Edinburgh.
* S.S.Huanchaco was built for the Pacific Steam Navigation Company by William Beardmore & Co. in Glasgow and launched in 1907. She took part in many troop shipments from Southern England to France, mainly Portsmouth – Le Havre. Purchased by F.A. Sutton in 1926 and renamed Frank Sutton, before being sold on later in the same year. Then she was bought by a Turkish Company she was renamed Bore VIII. On 24th Feb 1941 she foundered after running aground near the end of her voyage off the small island of Borkum when on passage from Lulea on the northeast coast of Sweden bound for Emden with a cargo of ore. http://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?193719
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