Monday, 12th Oct. 1914.
My dear Mabel,
After 27 days at Levis Camp we embarked on 27 September sleeping on board and training on shore during the day. By the 30th we sailed from Quebec arriving at Gaspe basin on the 1st October, joining the waiting fleet of 20 ships and on the 3rd, the fleet having grown to 31 transports filled with troops or horses we started off in three lines of 10 ships each with Eclipse, Diana, Charybdis, Glory and Talbot convoying us. These have been added to until now we have six more including the Lion, the largest battle Cruiser afloat. Owing to some of the ships being slow, we have not been able to make nine knots an hour, our best day being 216 miles. Each day we go off seven miles to port and seven miles port of us is one of the Cruisers, in the evening we fall in the rear of the column. The Megantic does the same on the other flank. Everything we passed, we made turn about and join us, except ships flying the American flag. Some Canadian bound passengers must have been annoyed. It is really a wonderful sight to see the fleet, we have no news of any kind and no communications between ships is allowed, except orders from the flag ship. All port holes are darkened during the night. If we do not break away tomorrow and increase our speed we are not due in any port till Thursday which will just make the trip 18 days. One ship with 2,000 troops owing to their running short of food made a dash for England last night. We too are pretty short of certain stores.
We have had a most wonderful voyage. It has never been half rough, the only real sufferer being Lady Evelyn, it has been quite warm and had one been able to find time, could have sat on deck any day without an overcoat. I have written Anthony a letter which may interest. Will you kindly consider my communications strictly as of a domestic confidential nature as I was much annoyed during the South African war by certain letters of mine appearing in the daily papers and could not have been of any interest to any one not interested in the writer and I object very much to the bright-eyed Canadian idea of wishing for limelight. We have just received a signal from the flag ship to destroy all confidential papers on board. What is behind the order is hard to understand. Two ships full of horses belonging to Canadian troops were ordered last night by the flagship to proceed to France at once. Our Signallers picked this up last night as it was being flashed to these two ships. This looks as if the army wanted horses. It will be very interesting to hear some news when we arrive, as we have been without any for 12 days. It will also be interesting to know where they are going to put us up. The C.O. is certainly trying to get us fit and we never seem to let up, I find he is only 40 years old, quite a child compared to one of his overworked officers. This is really a very nice ship, good public rooms and a wonderful smoking room. It never had a deck taken off, only a Palm Room. I have this from a man who crossed in her before the C.N.R. bought her. Tell Bertie, Captain Ward of ours met him at the Jackam’s house in Hampshire. He is a nice chap who ruined his health in India in the Rifle Brigade and now grows fruit in B.C. Mrs. Gault seems to be a lifelong friend of Mrs. Nesbitt.....