Letter from Capt. Tom Magladery
New Liskeard Speaker published Friday, December 31, 1915
Monday, November 29, 1915
Transcribed by: Dion Loach
Note: any spelling errors, etc. are as they appear in the original article.
. . .The following interesting letters from Capt. Tom Magladery, now at Bramshott Camp, England, and Signaller Faught, will be followed by other letters from Capt. Magladery and other well known local boys in our next and subsequent issues. The general public is anxious to hear from the boys at the front, and The Speaker will be pleased to receive any letters which may come from the Overseas forces. Capt. Magladery’s first letter deals with the trip of the 37th Battalion across the water, and in extracts from his following letters will be given his impressions of Old England, and what it means to be a “Soldier of the King.”
From a Letter from Capt. Tom Magladery
S.S. Lapland, Nov. 29
. . .You will see by the heading that we are travelling, as we expected, on the Lapland, and it is really a fine boat. Large, well-heated, well-furnished and very good service. We shall all be rather spoiled I imagine by the time we get across In the morning I get up at reveille same as usual, attend roll call, have a bit of a walk, then a cold bath, which is attached to our cabin, then hot tea and toast which is brought to our cabin.
Our exercise is to walk about the deck, round after roundi and have been doing it by the hour. So far my health has been fine and not the least sign of sea-sickness. Of course, the sea has not been rough, but at that a great many of the boys have had to beat it. Last night it was a bit rough and quite a number left their places at dinner, and so when I was ready to leave I religiously kept my eyes on the ceiling, as I felt that would be about the only place where the casualties would not have strength enough to leave their mark. One amusing feature of it was that Dr. Thompson was about the first to fall by the wayside.
Tuesday-- A bit rough this morning, but still not at all bad, none of those majestic mountain-high waves the poets rave about, but of course they may arrive at any time. Sunday [missing] Monday [missing] we did 361 miles, so you see we are ploughing right along. So far I have held myself down to four meals a day, and although I am hungry all the time, I hope not to increase that number. We are only two days out and time hangs heavily although we read smoke, play euchre, whist, bridge, walk, run, etc.
Wednesday -- Yesterday afternoon and last night were very rough and in consequence the dinner table had a great many empty seats. To-day is Col. Bick’s birthday and we are going to celebrate it in some way, but just how has not been decided. Time hangs a bit heavily, although games are indulged in. One of the most popular is pitching small weights about the size of a silver dollar, through a board with holes in it. Each hole has a different value. This seems sort of foolish but the boys play by the hour, and every minute you can hear loud yells as one does badly or perhaps well. Last night I played euchre with the Colonel and a couple of others until eleven and then turned in, and although it was rolling and ploughing around in great shape, still I went right to sleep and slept until the usual hour. The salt water baths are very refreshing although they seem much colder than fresh water.
Thursday-- To-day is such a wonderfully bright day that all troops were mustered on deck, and it speaks well for the health of the units when I say that out of this large number of soldiers, only five were unable to appear. It seems remarkable that with the long tiresome journey such as they have had, there should be such a lack of sickness of any kind.
The dinner last night went off very nicely. The Colonel was presented with beautiful birthday cake, his [missing] speeches were [missing] James [missing] played and [missing] of the [missing] pleasant evening [missing] greatly pleased as The Zealot Cananaean [missing] The [missing] games [missing]
[missing] an orchestra entertained us [missing] 10.30 p. m. Then lights out [missing] all to bed. The bar on the [missing] is under the control of Col. Bick and he has forbidden the sale of everything except beer. In consequence there is practically no drinking and certainly not a man indulged too much. It seems extraordinary that when men are to get all the drink they want they do not seem to abuse the privilege, whereas when they are forbidden its use entirely, they resort to all manner of schemes to smuggle it into their quarters.
No doubt the weather in Temiskaming is snowy, cold and stormy, and here it is just a beautiful sunny evening. I have been up on top for an hour, just simply drinking in the sunshine and fresh air. How great it all is and how selfish I am to enjoy it alone! Last night in the dark we sighted a boat a long way off, but still her lights were visible. Then this morning we got a good look at another quite close, perhaps not over five miles away. It gives one a fine feeling to know that there are others out on this huge expanse of water and that we are not absolutely by ourselves. We are now in the danger zone, which means that submarines could come out this far from land to get us. Of course they don’t, and only for one reason. That reason is a good one, and is that we are flying the Union Jack, that Great Britain is Mistress of the Seas; that no one comes or goes on this great Ocean unless by courtesy of the Empire for which we are fighting to the finish, and whom we love with the enthusiasm which can only be engendered by a lifetime under the old rag. When I look at the horizon, and see the wonderful expanse of water and that we have travelled it for days, and then have only seen a small part of it, I have some conception of what a mighty thing it means, and what organization, and work and thought are required to control the ocean. We are apt and quick to criticize but we do it without giving enough thought to the stupendous problem it is.
Do pon remember Rawlett who used to be in the bank in Liskeard? He is on board with the University Co., going back to reinforce the Princess Pats. What a dandy-looking soldier he is. We are delighted to meet each other, and had quite a talk over old times.
Saturday.--This is supposed to be the last day of our voyage, as to-morrow morning we arrive in port. Immediately on arrival I I shall cable you. To-day is a nervous day for the Captain, as he has received orders that no escort will be provided, and that he must pick his way through alone. We have a guard of 200 armed men on deck all the time, as well as a machine gun section with two guns. These preparations will not be, of course, much good if were attacked by a sub-marine other than that a chance shot might get their periscope, and the splashing of bullets in the water might prevent them getting good aim, and might, also, to some extent, disconcert them.
The voyage has been a pleasant one, as the weather has been good, still, it has been monotonous and tiresome.
This morning I had my hair cut by the ship’s barber. He is an old Belgian, and was in Antwerp until one day before the arrival of the Germans. When the King of Belgium crossed the Atlantic a few years ago, this barber shaved him, and he considers it a great honor.