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[Page 34]

10th and 11th July were fine days, weather getting cooler. One man started a betting book on whether the ships would get torpedoed or not. Betting 3 to I "Shropshire" , 4 to 1 "Tofua",6 to 1 "Benalla", "Ascanius", "Marathon", 10 to 1 "Turakina". Our ship was the favourite for the sinking stakes, she was the largest of the Convoy, and therefore the U boats would know that she would have the largest number of men aboard, and most cargo. The Bookmaker lost.
Thursday, 12th July. Abreast of the Canary Islands at 11 p.m. last night. Past last of groups about 4 a,m, today, about 20 miles away. Several of the guards sighted and reported a Sea-plane at 2 p, m, on south-eastern horizon. The convoy was zigzagging all day.
Friday 13th. Abreast of Azores. Fine day, calm sea. We received second prize for cleanest mess deck of the voyage. C.Deck winner, 99% points. F.Deck (Ours) 97.5%.Hayes and I received 15/- each, as a prize. We were told that owing to our deck being a small one, we were handicapped at the beginning of the voyage, otherwise we would have been first. The winning deck had 50 Mess orderlies (Hayes and I) and the prize worked out 15/- per man, so we did not squeak. About 2 p,m, we sighted a whale on the port side. When we altered our course in the zigzag, the "Benalla" saw it and thought it was a submarine. She immediately went full speed at it, blowing short blasts on the whistle, calling all hands to their boat stations. When she was almost on top if it, they found out their mistake, and returned to the convoy. She was known as The Whaler aboard our ship afterwards.

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