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[Page 43]

I think that many of these old reservists who formed the majority of the crew had forgotten how to swim or else had lost all faith in their own powers. A few yards from me I saw a boat towards which everyone in the water seemed to be making. She was already packed with men whilst others were hanging on to her gunwall. I swam towards her mixed up with a struggling crowd and managed to get both hands firmly on the gunwall but found it quite impossible to drag myself on board. I looked round at the Majestic which was lying only a few yards away at an acute angle and I remembr thinking that if she turned right over our boat would probably be dragged under with her.

It is very tiring work hanging on by both hands with your feet trailing in the water and I was beginning to wonder whether I would not be wiser to let go and swim away when my right foot caught in what is known as a mangrip on the bilge keel. This a small slit in the keel which enables you to hang on in the vent of the boat being overturned. This gave me a lot of additional support and I felt much more comfortable.
A minute later or even less a sailor lent over the side seized me by the shoulders and dragged me inside scraping the little remainging skin I had saved from the fall on the netshelf off my legs and arms. However at the time I was too delighted to find myself on board to notice such minor trials. I then had time to look round. The boat was absolutely packed with men. She was a small cutter intended to carry at ths most thirty and evenually ninety four were taken off her. We were sitting on one another, others were standing up and many were still clinging onto the gunwall begging to be taken on board which

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