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Learning to live with a hammock

by CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford

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Archive List > British Army

Contributed by 
CSV Actiondesk at BBC Oxford
People in story: 
Bill Harvey
Location of story: 
The Empress of Canada
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
25 August 2005

‘We boarded The Empress of Canada quickly as no one knew if the bombers would return to blitz the Glasgow docks for another night. We were billeted in what had been the steward’s card room. Hammocks were provided but there were no instructors to demonstrate the correct way to rig or use this aerial trampoline. Everyone tried but most failed to master their hammock. It provided some entertainment as bodies were deposited on the ground and loaded hammocks sagged to suffocate those below.’

‘We divided into the ‘hammock’ and the ‘deck’ dwellers. I abandoned my attempts at nest building sooner than most and took over one of the tables which would serve me as a bed for the voyage. The stowed hammock served me as a pillow. We were still sorting out our living space when the gentle vibration that would accompany us for the coming months began. We were moving.’

‘Rations at sea were meagre. Their portion of bread and jam was made less appetising when they discovered that the cooks had an endless supply of tomato jam.’

This story was submitted to the people’s War site by a volunteer from CSV Oxford on behalf of the late Bill Harvey. It is a transcript of his own diary and several interviews. He gave written permission for the material to be edited and published.

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