Bowler war diary, 21 May-July 1917 / William (Bill) Gordon Bowler - Page 30

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[Page 30]

white men, and has every disease under the sun. yellow jack, malaria, and Typhoid are rampant. The few white men we saw looked as if they had been boiled. On the 5th the Aux'y Cruiser "Mantua" arrived and anchored a 10.a,m. The natives came pout to us in canoes, selling monkeys, bananas, pine apples, mangoes, cocoa nuts, and other fruits.
Fish appeared to be plentiful, and dozens of crabs were seen swimming in the water. H.M.S. "King Alfred" was at anchor near the town. She is a four funnel Cruiser, of the "Drake "type, but more modern. Coal barges were towed alongside, and we started to coal with Welsh steaming coal. The natives did all the coaling, and made a tremendous row. The boys had some fun with them, throwing pennies on to the barge and watching the scramble. Several natives, in canoes, were diving for money, and they were very clever. They would not dive for less than 3d, and we had to hold it up first for them to see it. We covered a penny with silver paper, and a coon thought it was two shillings. We threw it over and he dived for it. When he came up, he used some language in the native lingo, that would no doubt, have shocked us, if we could understand it. On the 5th the "Orama" put to sea, and she looked very fine as she passed us. In the evening a Concert party came aboard from the Garrison. Major A'Beckett, commanding the 50th (white Company ) Royal Garrison Artillery, stationed at Sierra Leone, came aboard with a number of Bombadiers and gunners. We took up a collection for the Freetown Military Hospital afterwards, and realised quite a large sum. Major A'Beckett, (who is a very fine fellow) told us that they received sick men from nearly every Convoy that passed through.

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