5th December 1915 Sunday
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The Huanchaco lay at anchor until late in the day when the captain decided it was safe enough to attempt the crossing. At around 4pm with the light rapidly fading, they finally weighed anchor and got under way. Having been told to view the crossing as a route march with no smoking or singing allowed, the mood would have been sombre. In a rough sea, in such a small boat, life would have been unpleasant. Sea sickness would have set in quickly and the smell of vomit would have permeated the atmosphere on board. Into the darkness they sailed, the faint flickering lights of Bembridge on the Isle of Wight began to fade as the ship pitched and rolled its way forward with periodic flashes from the lighthouses along the English coast.
The noise on deck would have been disconcerting at the least. The horses below making a terrible din, whinnying, as they kicked and banged against the makeshift stabling, feeling as sick as the men. The men probably didn’t feel like singing, but I’m sure many were longing to light up a cigarette or a pipe, under pain of punishment for disobeying an order.
It would have been slow progress, she wasn’t fast and the amount of traffic trying to squeeze its way through the port at Le Havre would have caused considerable queuing. The day before, the men aboard the Karnak had waited over six hours to disembark. The solitary crane unloading each ship was slow, unloading one wagon at a time.
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