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Warmer and smooth sea, all very quiet aboard ship – very few attended Divine Service – Governor of Malta very ill.

Called at Plymouth where a good many more passengers left and then to Woolwich. Arrived safely at 6am on February 14th.

Arrived Newcastle on Monday, the 17th Feb and on Tuesday and Wednesday attended the office and cleared off some of the work that had accumulated in my absence. On Wednesday night I did not feel well so went to bed and called in the doctor – I had a high temperature and lay in bed for a month suffering from an attack of “Flu” and Congestion of the Lungs – am thankful to say I am now well and about again.

In conclusion I must say the trip was a wonderful experience – very interesting and highly educational but very strenuous for a man of my age. We must have travelled 24 thousand miles in 3 and a half months in various temperatures and altitudes by boat, rail, motor car, rickshaw, camel and elephant. We were treated with the greatest kindness by all we met and we hope to meet many of them again when they are home on leave.

During the past nine years I have visited many countries – Spain, North and West Africa, Italy, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, France, Canary Islands, West Indies, Venezuela, Switzerland, through the Panama Canal to Panama, Canada, and the United States – have seen the best and poorest parts of some of their principal cities and have stayed in their best hotels but have always had a feeling of thankfulness that England was my home on landing in England after each trip. It is in my opinion the best, cleanest and most wonderful country in the world.

 

Sam Smith

 

Left ship on tug off Suez. Motor cars awaited us. A drive of 80 miles through Suez and the desert to Cairo. Coffee at Shepheards and then to the museum where the treasures of King Tutankhamen are stored. The usual visit to the Bazaars where the Dragomen keep a sharp eye on what tourists spend. They no doubt call for their commission later on. Then to Shepheards for lunch after which we motored to the Pyramids where camels, horses and two-seater conveyances awaited us to take us over the rough roads. We did the ride on a camel. The largest Pyramid is 451 feet high. They seemed to have had a mania for building them as you see Pyramids dotted here and there on the landscape. The first impression one gets is of disappointment – the stones are not so large as one had imagined and are very rough and irregular. Different to the wonderful Taj, Jain temples at Mount Abu, and such places. The Sphinx was also disappointing although excavations have been carried out and show it to better advantage. The Sphinx Temple is worth seeing for its huge blocks of granite it contains. One immense block formed part of two sides of the wall and one lady of the party asked the guides how they managed to bend the block to that shape1 A slight flicker of her eyelid but the guide was at a loss for an answer. Boarded the ship at Port Said at 9:30pm and sailed at 11pm. A very rough passage to Malta which kept many in their cabins – called at Malta for about 2 hours, went ashore and revived my memories of Valetta of 9 years ago. Many have decided to leave the ship at Marseilles rather than facet he Bay of Biscay. The Governor of Malta was brought aboard ill and on sailing a salute of 17 guns was given by the garrison. Arrived Marseilles and visited the interior of Notre Dame Cathedral, which we had not been able to do on the outward journey. A great number of passengers left by train, it saves the best part of a week, but we had booked from the Thames and back and kept to the itinerary, and were lucky to have a very smooth passage home. The ship was delayed 6 hours at Marseilles owing to Dock Workers’ strike and we left at noon – cool breeze. Called at Gibraltar – a few hours ashore, visiting the shopping centre, a motor run up the Rock, a walk through St Catherine’s Galleries and back to the ship. Later we stopped off at Tangiers for a short time – not allowed to land, then sailed for Plymouth.

A largely attended Memorial service for the late King George. Held in the 2nd Class dining hall. There must have been four hundred people present. A most impressive ceremony. At 4:50pm all ex-servicemen assembled on deck wearing their medals and at 5pm (or 1 o’clock English time) everybody stood to attention, for a two-minutes’ silence. The ceremony ended with the sounding of the Last Post.

Packed and luggage all away by nine o’clock. Left for ship s.s “Carthage”, at 11:30am and in our cabin “Lala”, our bearer, performs a touching little ceremony when he presents Mac and I with a red rose each and places a rope of beautiful flowers round our necks, the custom of Indian in welcoming or bidding goodbye to their friends. Edward Rose – Beriff and Lala left a quarter of an hour before the ship sailed. In the opinion of Englishmen in Bombay the finest sight in the world is to view the city from the stern of a homeward bound ship. On our return from Elephanta Island I drew the attention of our guide to a fresh bite on my wrist – he said “You have had your arm on the side of the boat” – these men (4) sleep and feed on the boat and it swarms with bugs – “that is a bug bite”.

On the Saturday morning my left eye felt queer and before night it was practically closed – my arm also was very much swollen – Mac brought the ship’s doctor to me and the following day I spent in bed with pink lint fomentations on my eye. Eye and arm much better on Monday – able to get on deck and enjoy the breeze.

Left by launch at 9am for Elephanta Island, seven miles across the bay. Got news that there was little hope for the King and our return saw the flags flying at half mast. This was at 12:30pm, or 7am English time, and on landing we saw placards with the words “The King Emperor Dead”. It gave one a queer sensation. All business came to a standstill and even the barber’s shop in the hotel was closed. There are caves on Elephanta Island after the style of those at Ajanta but cannot be compared for workmanship and the state of preservation with Ajanta. Thirteen hundred years old, they stand on the top of a hill and it is a very good walk up the steps to them. There were several natives with chairs on long poles waiting for a job and I allowed four of them to carry me up for two rupees. The other walked. The natives earned the money. Bombay is a fine city with a population of 1 and a quarter million. Good wide streets and fine buildings and appears to be well provided with sports and recreation grounds. One wonders what the result would be if Britain lifted her control, withdrew her troops and gave India what Congress is clamouring for – Home Rule. There are so many states – religions and castes. Four hundred million people – many of whom are ready to fly at one another’s throats. A few immensely rich and the great majority intensely poor. Some of the public men say that India, like the rest of the world, is suffering from over-education. From what I have seen in India – let the millions of the lower castes get a bit of that education and able to think and reason for themselves and these agitators will soon be squealing for British protection. Great improvements have been brought about under British Rule but a lot more has to be done in the way of sanitation – teaching the natives cleanliness and improving their mode of living – housing – clothing and footwear and stopping the filthy habit of chewing betel nut. Also stopping the practice of sipping water out of what are supposed to be holy rivers or tanks in which the natives bathe – wash their dirty clothes – throw dead babies and the remains of the fires on which dead bodies are burned. The conserving of water, judging by the wide river beds, almost dry when we saw them, a lot must run to waste and water is required in quantity for sanitation and irrigation.

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