17 December 1916 – Sails back to Milford Haven; last letter before Christmas; running out of food at sea.

DIARY: Returned to Milford


17 December 1916 Sunday

At Sea, near Milford

Dear Mother & Father

You will be wondering where I am as it is so long since you received any letter from me. We have been jaunting around since last Monday on several jobs without a break & without touching land at all save a few hours stay in Falmouth.  No doubt you have received my letters posted in Falmouth.  It was written last Monday ready to be posted on Tuesday morning but we were ordered to sea last Monday Evening at 10PM.

We proceeded to Lands End to pick up a salvage vessel. She was delayed somewhere so they immediately ordered us into Falmouth where my letter was posted.  We arrived there Tuesday evening in the dark but we could not see anything.  I did not go ashore but my letters was posted by one of the deckhands who took the Lieut ashore.  I turned in to my bunk & when I awoke next morning we were off Lands End again.

We had received fresh orders & with them a fresh job.

This was to escort an Oil tank to Bardsey Island.  We picked her up & delivered her over to the Holyhead patrol on Thursday about noon.

We got orders again to proceed to Kingstown (Dublin) at once & escort a Grain Elevator with a Tugboat to Lands End.  There was a good deal of grumbling but that did not count.  We arrived at Kingstown about 6 PM Thursday evening & immediately proceeded again to sea with the Grain Elevator.  Talk about a crawl.  I have never been in such a worm race before.  It took us 54 hours to go from Kingstown to Lands End & our speed was only about 4 knots an hour.  The Tug could not get along any faster & if the weather had not been good we should not have been back by this time next week.  The Grain Elevator was a flat bottomed square arrangement & it is used to suck grain out of the holds of Grain Ships.

To make matters worse grub was running out. We had enough in our mess but that is practically all gone now & crusts were preserved as if they were gold.  Your oxo cubes have come to the rescue & we are to have some soup made from them for dinner today.  We expect to be back in Milford then, when we shall be able to get what grub we require.  The other mess has had nothing to speak about for 2 days & we have had to give them what we could spare from our mess.

I gave them what I could spare and all my cake, biscuits, chocolates & indeed everything has been wolfed. They have come in mighty handy.

We have got through very nicely though they sprung the Kingstown job onto us when we calculated being back to re victual.

My name has gone in for leave with the rest & now it only rests with the officials at the Base.

If they say Yes it will be alright but if they refuse I shall have to make the best of a bad job.  However I expect it will be alright & I will wire you immediately I know anything definitely.  It is a lovely morning now & we  might get ashore for the rest of the day.

However I have got this note ready & it will be posted immediately the first boat goes ashore.

Hoping all are well at home & we will have a jolly time together at Xmas all being well.

Love to all


Leave starts next Thursday or Friday. Friday probably for me.


James stayed at Milford Haven, in dock, until the start of his leave on 23rd December 1916.


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