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- 04 April 2005
Well. here we were:on the ship we always wanted to be on. It must have made quite an impression on the girls who never travelled much outside their country.They said the ship was huge: a matter of opinion I guess,but to most of them it must have been impressive.
Never having seen seen different seagoing ships.
I was called by our C.O: a female and an M.D, : " I have something for you."I went to her office and she handed me a cable from Genève -Switzerland.
It was a cable from my mam:"please, come home:all alive".
I was dumbfounded: how did she manage to send a cable via Genève???: connections?
Well, I could not go home:I had signed up for the duration of the war+6 months.
I wonder whether she received the box with all the things I bought for them at Woolworth. I wondered whether the Jesuit Priest who was in the RAF now would be able to tell her that he met me.
I decided to just wait and see. I could not send a cable anyway :I had just 6pence left when I boarded the ship.
And I was sure that Father S. would do his best to contact my mam.
The first days we had meetings: where to go, where the security Officer was: we were told to report to him anything that happened on the ship that appeared unusual!(Spies???)
When there was a lifeboat drill we had to drop what we were doing,get our life-vests and go to our assigned station. Very important as the German U- boats were still prowling the Atlantic. Some might not even know that GERMANY had capitulated.
We sailed in a convoy. In day light we could see different ships ; we had seen Pathé news of convoys and ships still being blown up.
Strict orders were given that not even a cigarette was allowed on the deck at night:strict black out!!.
We were shown where the dining room was.
And let me tell you; we were frequently lost: "Where to find it again?? " but there were always people ready to help us.
And we were spoilt!! :first class dining room, a headwaiter who helped some with the menu's (since they were printed in English some girls did not know what a certain dish meant. I wondered how he got across to them ,also in English, what was in it) but we often helped out!
Lots of food we even did not know still was available:pre war food!!
I think he was kind of tickled to take care of a bunch of girls chattering in a language he did not understand.
We told him we would teach him dutch and we would NOT teach him bad words like a lot of allied taught the girls in the freed countries:girls who did not even know rudimentary English.
We walked the deck for exercise and we needed that!
Our kit bags were stored under the berths. I always had problems finding things: usually settled on the bottom of my bag;the only thing to do was to turn the bag upside down and let everything fall out.That happened quite often and they said:"Josephine you look like JOB on the dung heap: everything all around you on the floor." I did not see the connection with JOB.
But I d DID find what I needed.
I never discovered how they found things in a kit bag : an impossible shape!!in my book.
The sailing was smooth:no rough weather But that changed in the Pacific; and girls getting seasick said that they rather would die than ever be seasick again.
It never bothered me. That is another story.
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