by Jack W. Mills
We took the Northern Route across the North Atlantic and it was rough as a cob but I guess they thought it was the safest way to go as them German U-Boats were really taking our ships down in the Merchant Fleet. The boat ride across the North Atlantic was pretty uneventful I guess, except it was cold and wet and we were supposed to have had a pack of subs following us but we were in a convoy of about 32 ships and way out on the outshirts of the convoy, destroyers were constantly patrolling back and forth, any way we were never bothered that I knew of.
All the way over we had to travel under blackout conditions and we were told not to throw anything overboard, not even a cigarette butt or empty cigarette pack that a sub could track. They dumped the garbage over board after midnight so we would be away from it by daylight. They said we were on a zigzag course and changed course every 15 minutes. I never knew whether we were or not, there ain't nothing out there to tell which way you are going, so I just took their word for it. We didn't know where we were going no how.
We were told to wear our life jackets at all times and that if anyone fell overboard that there would be no time wasted picking us up. A buddy of mine (I don't remember his name now), and I were standing on topside leaning on the rail watching the water go by and some boy so seasick he was about to puke made a run for the side and he came between us and would have went over if we had not caught him. He said he didn't give a dam any way, he was so sick he didn't care if he did go over. I guess that the seasickness makes one that way. I was lucky I guess that I never got it. I seen guys green and puking all the way over there and they can't eat or keep it down if they did. They get weak as a cat and dark circles under their eyes and look bad. I guess that they really didn't care if they died or not. It was awfully rough water but after what seemed like a month or more we finally reached Northern Scotland on November 16, l943 and disembarked at Grennock on November 17, l943 and we left by train for Wales, it took a day to get to our estate in Swansea, Wales and it wasn't all that far arriving November 18, l943. They got some puny little old trains over there.
The winter months over there was long days and short nights. You could still read a newspaper at 11:00 PM and the sun come up around 04:00 AM. It sure seemed strange and took a lot of getting used to, it wasn't real bright but daylight anyhow. Bedtime in the camp was 10:00 PM and it is hard to go to bed when it stayed light for so long.
We had Amphibious training all winter, riding those "Ducks" out in the Ocean and climbing those rope nets. I took Pneumonia for the second time and pulled a stint in the hospital. I seen a 6x6 truck one night follow a "Duck" out in the ocean and the Duck just kept going and pretty soon the 6x6 drowned out and was stuck, and there it sat the next morning, just the top sticking out of the water, after the tide came in. We were only allowed to use "cat eyes" on the vehicles and this 6x6 didn't know where he was going and he was just following the tail lights on that "Duck".
The British Isles is a place that is not to big and I was glad when we got out of it, I never did figure out why Hitler wanted it. It leaves a lot to be desired, and it just barely beats being out of the water. At one time we had more troops on it than they had.
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Document Last Modified: Saturday, 01-Nov-1997 18:27:48 UTC