Royal Engineers en route to Gallipoli


Letters have now commenced to arrive from members of the three companies of the East Anglian Royal Engineers who set sail three days after the 1/5th Bedfordshires embarked. The E.A.R.E.s left the docks on the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday [August 2nd, 1915], and with the 1/2nd and 2/1st Field Companies, there were also on board the Signal Company and the North Irish Horse.

One member of the 2/1st Field Company, writing from "somewhere at sea," says: "When we entered the ------ the weather and sea were lovely, but now it is just the opposite. We do not know where we are landing yet.

"It is about the roughest living I have encountered so far. One has to be very careful in getting into one's hammock or it's a case of getting a nasty bump. Today high seas are running and it is pouring with rain. We are getting nearer land as the birds have started to follow us."

Later on he says: "We passed ----- during Monday, and only saw the lights. We have had grand weather up to now, and the sailors say we have been very lucky in that line."

At the end of the letter is recorded the fact that the boat was then in harbour for about 24 hours and was then leaving for another four or five days voyage.

Watching for submarines is one of the duties that has fallen to the lot of Sapper A. P. Brown, 1393, No. 3 Section, 1/2nd Field Coy, E.A.R.E., while on board ship. He is the son of Mr and Mrs A. Brown, of 43 Park Street West, Luton, and two letters, both severely blue pencilled, were received from him last week.

In the first, written on July 31st, he says: "We have had a decent trip so far. The bay was quite smooth for a wonder and I wasn't sick, for which I am duly grateful. I am one of a party detailed to watch for submarines - a nice job isn't it? I expect we shall be in GIB ON Sunday night or thereabouts."

Writing again three days later, he says: "We are well in the Mediterranean now, having passed Gibraltar in the night. We did not go straight in, but hung about till dark. It was a lovely sunset with the dark hills of Spain on one side and the mountainous coast of ------- on the other and the blue water and blue sky, with streaks of red across the lower part, which was a pale lemon colour.

"When we got in the Straits at dark a torpedo boat dashed up with her searchlights on us, and after signalling for some time she wished us goodnight and went off. I never saw a boat move so quickly before.

"We passed ------- in the night and also -------, which must be a big place by the lights, Just before we got by the straits I looked through a fellow's glasses and saw a beautiful white castle, and a village further on. Afterwards we passed where Nelson fought."

In a further letter on the 8th, Sapper Brown says: "We arrived in port on Sunday morning. It was a lovely sight - all stone buildings of red, white, pink, green etc, all along the front. When we got in out 'barge' was surrounded by boats of natives, selling different stuff - cigarettes, fruit, silk etc. It is a big place.

"We sailed along the coast for some hours before we got the harbour. We left in the evening for a three days run. I don't know what port we go to, but we shall probably be off the boat tomorrow."

[Luton Reporter: Monday, August 23rd, 1915]