I met Lowson and Lean at Victoria on January 3, 1916, and between us we smuggled “Tuppence” into the boat train without anyone seeing him; likewise through the customs at Folkestone. Arrived there we found that mines were loose owing to the recent storms, and the boat was not sailing till the next day. Then followed a hunt for rooms, which we duly found but in doing so lost “Tuppence.” The rest of the time was spent looking for him; and when we finally arrived breathless at the police station, there was the intelligent dog sitting on the steps! I must here confess this was one of the few occasions he ever exhibited his talents in that direction, and as such it must be recorded. He was so well bred that sometimes he was positively stupid, however, he was beautiful to look at, and one can’t have everything in this world.
The next morning the sea was still fairly rough; and I went in to the adjoining room to find that the gallant Lowson was already up and stirring, and had gone forth into the town in search of “Mother-sill.” I looked out at the sea and hoped fervently she would find some.
We went on board at nine, after a good breakfast, and decided to stay on deck. A sailor went round with a megaphone, shouting, “All lifebelts on,” and we were under way.
I confided “Tuppence” to the care of the ship’s carpenter and begged him to find a spare lifebelt for him, so that if the worst came to the worst he could use it as a little raft!
We watched the two destroyers pitching black against the dashing spray as they sped along on either side convoying us across.
We arrived at Boulogne in time for lunch, and then set off for our convoy camp thirty kilometres away, in a British Red Cross touring car borrowed from the “Christol Hotel.”
We arrived there amid a deluge of rain, and the camp looked indeed a sorry spectacle with the tents all awry in the hurricane that was blowing.
Bell tents flanked one side of the large open space where the ambulances stood. A big store tent occupied another and the cook-house was in a shed at the extreme corner, with the Mess tent placed about as far from it as possible! I fully appreciated this piece of staff work later. There were also a lot of bathing machines, which made me vaguely wonder if a Snark had once inhabited the place.
“The fourth (viz. sign
of a Snark) is its fondness for bathing machines
Which it constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes—
A sentiment open to doubt.”
My surmises were brought to an abrupt end.
“Pat, dear old Pat. I say, old bird, you won’t mind going into the cook-house for a bit, will you, till the real cook comes? You’re so good-natured (?) I know you will, old thing.”
Before I could reply, someone else said:
“That’s settled then; it’s perfectly ripping of you.”