Thursday, May 13, 2010

Red Sea, Sunday, 23/5/15

Dear Mother,

Here we are halfway through the Red Sea passing the Something or other Archipellago and having a fairly enjoyable time of it, notwithstanding the heat. We left Aden on Friday afternoon, we did not actually enter the port but stood off about three miles from the town which is built on a spur of land that juts out into the sea and appears to consist largely of red roofed barracks. Behind the town the hills rise up precipitously to a great height just like they do in the gorge below Alexandra except that the hills are more rugged, higher, and if possible more barren looking than those you have there. Thre rock formation looks to be similar. The sailors tell us that at Aden they condesnse their water from the sea and one can quite believe it as what level country there is, is white sand.
The number of ships we have passed since leaving Aden has been an eye opener to most of us. About nine tenths of them are British and carry no name just a number but yesterday a Dutch boat passed with its name painted in big letters right along the side.
Yesterday we passed the Twelve Apostles, a group of small islands absolutely devoid of vegetation but with three big lighthouses on them. Long before we sighted land when we were approaching Africa from the Indian Ocean we noticed dead locusts floating on the water, later on a fair number flew aboard, big yellow fellows as long as one's finger. Here in the Red Sea the water was for a couple of days covered with a thin coating of dust even when we were out of sight of land, the result of a dust storm the sailors say. As far as the heat goes it is not anything alarming, one is in a constant state of perspiration and its not wise to stop in the sun but we have had some sort of a breeze with us all the time and at night it is cool eough to sleep comfortably. My advice to anyone coming out is bring their woollen underclothing and to bring pyjamas. The thick singlets and shirts are no good here. I had one thin singlet and have been able to buy one on board. We wear nothing but a thick shirt or undershirt and our denim trousers and more often than not we discard one or other of them when not on parade. Orders are out that boots are to be worn between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily and that all buttons are to be kept clean so that it is highly likely that we will disembark at Suez and go by rail to Cairo. We have been picking up scraps of war news and are rather anxious to know what losses there are amongst our main body, that is, if they were in the fighting the other day. One message we got said that there were 10,000 casualties amongst colonials at the Dardenelles.
The oustsanding feature of our voyage so far has been the been the weather except for about two days we have had absolutely perfect weather and today the sea is as calm as it could well be and there is just enough breeze to counteract the effects of the sun which is pretty hot if one stands out in it.

Monday. Land on both sides tonight, expect to reach Suez tonight and will probably disembark tomorrow and proceed straight to Cairo by train. Nothing definite is known yet and we would just as soon go through the canal to Alexandria while we are about it. The land on both sides is very mountainous and on the African side at any rate is quite bare and very rough.

(To be continued)

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