Major E.B. Sheppard’s Diary, 23rd - 30th November, 1915

23rd. November. Tuesday.

Wind still bitter but not so strong. London Brigade again went down to no purpose to embark! They will have to do as Australians did threaten to shoot the Staff Officer if it occurs again. We packed up as we were told we should probably move. Went on board the Alnwick Castle1 with 3 Officers. Tossed T. Pitt which should go with Regt. He won and goes with officers on Ismailia of the Khedivial Line. Knocked the Dr. at bridge.

24th. November. Wednesday.

Wind dropped. All offciers except Cecil B.2 and G. Barnett3 left at 8 a.m. for S.S. Ismailia. Hear a lot of Egyptian sick going on same boat. Servants were sent on S.S. Themistocles so may be lucky not to have won toss. Received news after had got to bed that we are to go on Hannibal4 (late H.M.S.) to-morrow. Had meeting of O.C’s5 mostly in pyjamas to discuss plans.

25th. November. Thursday.

Woke up to news Hannibal does not sail till Sat. so have to embark to-morrow. Dudley never appeared so am O.C. 6th. Regt! Walked over to see H. Daniell6 and others all very sick at not having gone on Aquitania7.

26th. November. Friday.

Our orders were altered at last minute and our baggage and servants had to leave at 7.30. Breakfast at 6.30 a.m. Paraded 11.45 and marched to North Pier 1052 odd. Found servants, baggage and sick still on lighter at 1.30 p.m. “Watercabinwitch” came to take us off in So. Gale. Tight fit on board. It took about 3 hours to get men off as had to climb up singly with all kit on. The baggage took nearly 6 hours to get off as there were no appliances on board. Am “in clover” myself as have on”quarter deck” being O.C. troops on board. Found I knew 2 brothers of Capt. Streatfield who was very kind and insisted on Col. Hughes of Berks and Col. of R.A.M.C. and self messing with him. Found Tom Drake8 on board. Wiggin of Worcesters acted as Ships Adjutant. Hannibal is 20 years old battleship hurriedly converted into troop ship, most inconvenient at that. Had severe thunder storm and heavy rain while getting baggage on board. Cecil B.2 and Geoffrey B. did great work.

27th. November. Saturday.

Got under weigh at day break. Everything got comfortably settled down by the time I went round ship at 9.30 a.m. Men all at posts wearing life belts. Wiggin a great success as Adjutant. Steered a zig zag course to make it harder for submarines to intercept us. We 3 had Capts. cabin to ourselves as he was on bridge the whole time. Lovely day.

28th. November. Sunday.

Servant sick (sea) so had to look after myself. Ship rolling a bit with a fair blow from S.W. Voluntary Church Pararde in confined space in starboard barbette. Very bad attendance as think many were feeling sick. Capt. quite happy as sea too rough for submarine to be dangerous. Passed W. of Rhodes about 5 a.m.

29th. November. Monday.

Very uncomfortable night as gale made ship roll. Arrived at Rosetta about 5 a.m. At first it looked as if we were to cruise off port till sea went down. However we got in at last about 10 a.m. alongside quay. Slept the night on board, dining in Alex. Met Hugh W.9 W. de Falbe10 &c. who were in camp with composite Regt. under Bilby.

30th. November. Tuesday.

Entrained for Cairo 8.15. Arrived 2.15. Trams to Mena. Transport never arrived so slept in great coat.

Notes:

  1. S.S. Alnwick Castle was built in 1901 by William Beardmore & Co Ltd, Glasgow for Union Castle Mail Steamship Co., London.  It was torpeoded on 19th March 1917 on its way from Plymouth to Cape Town with the loss of 40 lives.
  2. Cecil Oliver Haigh Bury (16th November – 26th September 1967.) Appointed 2nd Lieutenant, Hertfordshire Yeomanry 2nd October 1912; Lieutenant 28th November 1916, with seniority 1st June 1916; captain 17th December 1917; resigned retaining rank 14th August 1920. Served 1st/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry August 1914 – February 1919 in Egypt, Dardanelles, Western Desert & Mesopotamia.
  3. Lieutenant Ralph Francis Barnett (1882 – 1968) Barnett was appointed Lieutenant A Squadron, Hertfordshire Yeomanry, 1st February 1914. Served 1st/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry August 1914 – August 1918 (A Squadron – Egypt, Gallipoli, Temporary Captain 28th August 1915.)
  4. HMS Hannibal was commissioned in April 1898.  It was a Majestic Class battleship.  After being laid up in march/April 1915 at Scapa Flow, it was recommissioned on 9th September 1915 as a troop ship to serve in the Dardanelles. Later it became a depot ship in Alexandria for the troops in Egypt.   It was sold for scrap on 28th January, 1920.
  5. Officers Commanding
  6. Henry Charles Nugent Daniell (26th August 1869 – 13th July 1925.) Appointed 2nd Lieutenant, Hertfordshire Yeomanry 26th August 1914 after rpevious service with Hertfordshire Imperial Yeomanry. Served 1st/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry August 1914 – May 1916 (Egypt, Dardanelles); 3rd/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry May 1916 – February 1917; 6th Reserve Regiment of Cavalry February – November 1917.
  7. RMS Aquitania was a Cunard Liner built by John Brown & Company in Clydebank, Glasgow.  On 30th May 1914 she started  her maiden voyage to New York.  After the start fo the war she was transformed into an auxilliary cruiser and then a troop carrier and hosiptal ship.
  8. Tom Drake (17th May 1885 – January 1954) Appointed 2nd Lieutenant, Hertfordshire Yeomanry 10th September 1915 after service in the ranks of 14th London Regiment. Served 3rd/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry October 1915 – March 1917 (M.B.E.); and machine Gun Corps (Cavalry) March 1917 – January 1919.
  9. Hugh James Wylde (16th April 1880 – 1961) Appointed Major to command A Squadron 25th August 1913. Served 1st/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry August 1914 – May 1916 (commanding A Squadron – Egypt; Dardanelles; Western Desert)
  10. Christian Frederick George William de Falbe (17th February 1882 – 10th March 1924) Served 1st/1st Hertfordshire Yeomanry August 1914 – December 1915 (Egypt; B Squadron – Western Desert); 1st/5th Battalion The Norfolk Regiment December 1915 – Jun e1916 (Egypt. T/Lieutenant-Colonel while commanding battalion 1st January – 4th June 1916)
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