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December 1941

Daniel Ralph Brown ACII RAF 605 Squadron

4th December

A cold, wet morning, not yet daylight. Breakfast, roll-call, all before dawn. Leave West Kirby for Liverpool docks. Embarkation. H.M.T. 'Andes', an almost new ship. Shown to a cabin with five other lads. Wash and change, make our way to the Mess-deck for dinner. A very good meal. It continues to rain as it has been doing since early morn. Back to the cabin, where we introduce ourselves and settle down in the cabin. Six bunks and a latrine, wash basin and shower adjoining. After tea write my first letter after taking my feet off British soil.

5th December

Weather still bad. Take walk around decks and get bearings below, canteen etc.

6th December

Weather clearing up, but sky still overcast. Make several purchases at canteen, much surprised at the low price of goods which are all Canadian. More troops embark today all army personnel.

7th December

Weather fair. Sky clear. Remainder of troops embark.

8th December

Convoy outside Liverpool Dock

The weather has cleared up and the sun has at last managed to shine although there is little warmth in it. This morn' we leave the dock and wait out in the Mersey for the rest of the convoy to collect. About midday we steam out to sea and meet the rest of the convoy which has left Greenock. The shores of old 'Blighty' are soon lost to our sight. How long for? I think this question is in every man's mind as his native country disappears below the horizon. The conversation is very scarce tonight and nearly all retire to quarters early.

9th December

Far out to sea. Weather cold and sky black. After breakfast our steward introduces himself and makes a few suggestions to help our comfort during the voyage.

10th December

Wakened by the steward with tea and biscuits. We learn that this will be a routine for the small sum of sixpence per week. We take him on at this arrangement.

There is little else to mention until -

21st December

Trading bananas and flying boat taking off at Free Town, Sierra Leone: by Fred Goodwin

Arrive at Freetown, drop anchor in the river. The weather by now is hot and clammy, the sun is boiling, and we take a cold shower almost every hour of the day. Are thankful for the tropical kit which we changed into a few days ago. While laying in Freetown we learn that after leaving Blighty we almost crossed the Atlantic and were within a few hours sail of the American coast. The next few days are almost killing, the heat is terrific and the breeze is nil . At night the mosquitoes are numerous and every precaution has to be taken against them .

24th December

Christmas Eve. My thoughts are at home more than ever today. We learn we are to sail tomorrow so make the most of the time in buying fruit from the natives who are alongside the ships all day long. Whole branches of bananas are purchased in their unripe state and stowed away in cabins for future. The same with oranges and limes.

25th December

Christmas day. We are wakened by the steward in the usual manner, and decide it is too hot to go down for breakfast. The steward volunteers to bring up sandwiches and coffee latter in the morning which we are very thankful for. Midday we go down to the mess deck for dinner which is a marvellous spread served up by the officers. Soup. Roast chicken - ham - veg. Christmas pudding. Beer - minerals and fruit. More cigarettes than we can smoke are handed around. I even managed a cigar.

While all this is going on we have weighed anchor and made out to sea. We get on deck just in time to see the coast of Africa before it slips below the horizon. We have an air escort of flying boats from the base at Freetown for the remainder of the day. A light tea-supper is served late in the evening to finish off the day.

31st December

We turn in tonight thinking we have seen the last of the old year but much to our surprise we are wakened just before midnight by the sound of bagpipes. Yes the Scotsmen are having their celebrations. This so-called music and dancing carries on into the early hours of the morning. Goodbye 1941. Pleasant memories.