“The bomb passed through the bows, exploding on the other side”

Three of the Sisters of the Community of St John Baptist, whose base was at Clewer, were shipwrecked on their way home from India thanks to enemy action.

April, 1918
My dear Associates

You will all be interested to hear that we have just welcomed home from Calcutta Sister Alexandrina, Sister Marion Edith and Sister Edith Helen after a really perilous voyage. The only route available was via Colombo, which they reached by train from Calcutta. The first part of the voyage through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea was very enjoyable, smooth and lovely weather.

Good Friday was spent in the harbour of Suez, and Port Said was reached on Sunday morning. Along the banks of the Suez Canal they saw many races of the recent fighting in Egypt – deserted trenches and dug-outs, and in one place a camp of a considerable size, but their own course was perfectly uneventful.

After waiting four days at Port Said, their steamer joined a large convoy of vessels bound for England, protected by several destroyers and sloops. All went well during the first six days, and then, at 7 a.m. on a date I am not allowed to mention, the ship was struck by a torpedo. Mercifully no one was seriously injured, the bomb having passed through the bows, exploding on the other side.

Fearing another attack, the Captain immediately transferred all the passengers to the boats, and after rowing about on a rough sea for two hours, a sloop picked them up, and conveyed them to Bizerta, a French town on the coast of North Africa, the actual site of ancient Carthage, about four hours by rail from Tunis. At once everything was done on a most generous scale for their comfort and protection, and four days later a mail boat from Tunis conveyed all the passengers to Marseilles, and from there the homeward journey was continued via Paris, Havre and Southampton….

Letters to Associates of the Community of St John Baptist (D/EX1675/1/24/6)

“Awful bad luck”

Two of Ralph Glyn’s friends wrote to him.

HMS Caroline
C/o GPO
London

27th Feb 1916

My dear Ralph

Being a d-d nuisance Sir told Drummond to send you out some papers to sign, sorry to worry you with them, but it’s in a good cause, as they are all about the transference of Foreign Bonds (mostly Americans) to War Loan, and every little helps. We are all very cheery just at present, as we’ve just had 5 days leave, the first we’ve had for 8 months, and it’s made a lot of difference and bucked us up no-end. Evelyn is most flourishing, & so are the children, though the latter I’ve not seen for some time, as went to London for my leave. I hear you are very busy, didn’t see any of your relations, but Lady George [Sybil] & Joan, & they told us about you. It was sad for her Ivar having been killed, awful bad luck. This is written under difficulties, as we are rowing about, & have had to wedge myself in, but I’ve so little time just at present for writing; after leave & a refit there is always a lot to do.

Good luck to you.

Yours ever
Rupert Drummond

Did you hear the Germans published that they had sunk us by Zeps: can’t imagine why we were selected.

18, Queen’s Gate Place
SW

Feb. 27, 1916

My dear Glyn

Very many thanks for your kind congratulations.

I see that you are on the GHQ of the Mediterranean Force, & perhaps we shall see you at Ismailia when we pass through. Our plans are to go to Cairo from Port Said, then by special train to Ismailia, & so by motor boat to rejoin our ship at Suez.

It will be a fleeting visit – but sometimes one is able to have a view of friends when they know one is coming. Do look out for us.

Sincerely yours
Chelmsford

Letters to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C32/12-13)