SSadriaticThis is the day that James and the 11th Field Ambulance sailed from Halifax. James recorded in his diary;

(We left Halifax at 8am).

This morning we were on parade at 6.30 with life-belts on. While we were being inspected I felt faint and asked to be excused and went to my bunk where I remained until a little while before tea time. I was faint for want of food and the Captain (Doctor) said “fill him up.”

I am now in the Second Class Dining Room with Bro. Staines. We walked up and down the deck after tea and now we are here to write or read. Bro’s Noble and Pound have just joined us. There is such a medley here now that it makes quite a picture. The waiters are finishing their tea. Two of them just had a quarrel. They both looked so tired after the day’s work that one can understand how the trying things cause them to lose their equilibrium.1605-22ED

Some men are playing cards while others write or read. Amid the hubbub the strain of music can be heard.

We are now about 200 miles out from Halifax.

(Personal Diary)

The published Diary of the Eleventh gives a fuller picture of that morning and of the convoy leaving Halifax.

On the morning May 22nd shortly after breakfast, the big ship began to turn and head for the Sea

[Sic]. There was a rush of men to the deck, and as the fact was realized that the vessel was underway, feelings of excitement found vent in vigorous cheering and waving towards the shore. The day was superb, and the view of the cruiser “Drake” steaming ahead in the sun-drenched morning mist, piloting the convoy down the fairway, was a sight glorious and memorable.

With the “Adriatic” sailed her sister ship, the “Baltic” and the grimy-looking “Empress of Britain,” each vessel crammed with troops. The “Baltic” followed the “Drake” and the “Empress” ploughed her way in the wake of our own “Adriatic.” Life onboard the latter boat was far from unpleasant. The pond was never really rough and the weather permitted deck life throughout the voyage. P. T. [Physical Training] and life-boat drill constituted the routine duties and, in addition, the running of the hospital fell to the Field Ambulance.

The submarine danger was never quite forgotten and no lights were shown through the night. Each morning eyes were strained ahead for a sight of the onleading cruiser, whose presence was not a little comforting. The black outline of the “Baltic” ahead was never lost sight of, while in the rear one sought the “Empress,” and when she could not be seen, the more imaginative entertained apprehension for her safety. The life-boat signal was to be the sounding of five short whistle blasts, on hearing which, everyone had to secure his lifebelt and fall in by the allotted life-boat. This drill was frequently practiced but only once did the five blasts sound out, when the alarm fortunately was a false one.

(Diary of The Eleventh, 13-14)