D +14 Tuesday 20.6.44
Amazed to learn at reveille that we haven’t moved during the night. What is the hitch this time? Went on deck before breakfast: can still see England to N. quite clearly…& I. o W. to W. very close. Convoy still here too. Wind fairly high & ship rolling, but still anchored. Rumour that sailing prevented by rough weather out in Channel. Very much doubt this.
Good breakfast: no sickness yet, but one or two felt a bit queer at breakfast. Bright sunshine up on deck, but wind is quite strong & cold. Naval barge came alongside just now with another balloon for us. Our “forrard” balloon broke away yesterday, but we still had one flying from stern. Two must be necessary. A bit of a job transferring the balloon, with barge rising & falling in swell, – managed OK eventually. Seemed a hell of a lot of trouble just for a balloon. Don’t think the crew have much faith in them. They must limit angle of fire of ships A.A. guns.
Later 3.0pm. No move yet: am told that 1 o’clock BBC news referred to heavy seas & difficult landing conditions on beaches. So weather may be the trouble after all. For the past hour or so, a small convoy of 9 landing craft have been approaching from S. They are now close enough for us to see that they are fully laden with army vehicles etc. Have they been turned back by weather? May be so. Lunch another good meal; asparagus for veg. this time.
Later. Many more landing craft, fully laden, have appeared from the S: counted at least 30: some seem to have joined in with our group. Surely they haven’t all returned without unloading their vehicles. Perhaps they are assembling here, from another port, awaiting escort.
This ship seems to be full of fumes. In the hold, petrol fumes from tanks: an hour at a stretch down there on guard is enough – feel half asphyxiated afterwards. On upper deck – diesel fumes. A diesel driven dynamo is always working, & the exhaust fumes emerge from ships side, about centre. That heavy poisonous smell seems to be everywhere. It is much worse when the main engines (Diesel) start. Here again, the exhaust is at the side. This seems bad designing to me. The exhaust fumes are comparatively dangerous, & would be better & more effectively swept clear of the ship via a funnel. Our sleeping quarters too are badly ventilated. There are no port holes for one thing. “Feet-fumes” are almost unbearable at times. The air is always “thick”. Normally, neither fumes nor ventilation would matter much, because we would only spend about 12 hours on board. We have now been here almost 48 hours!
Later. A queer mixture for tea, – sausage? – beans, sauerkraut, tomato ketchup, tomato chutney, mixed veg, piles of other seasoning: pineapple rice pudding, bread & butter – coffee – the latter too sweet! It is all excellent food (from tins) but I don’t like these highly flavoured mixtures.
Half a dozen nurses from a near-by hospital ship were brought aboard at tea time by our small motor launch. Seemed a risky job for women transferring from tiny launch in this heavy swell. I think this was their only way of enjoying an evening out. They joined in some singing on deck later in evening. But the jokes!…. Nurses left about 11.0pm.
D +15 Wednesday 21.6.44
Still at anchor: sea still fairly high, but weather quite fine. No sign of moving. Mass of ships still with us. Half hour P.T. on deck this morning under troops. Good lunch…ham, spinach, potatoes, gravy, lemon cheese tart – coffee: again too sweet!
Evening. Still here…but now rumoured that we may sail about 2.0am. Sea a little calmer this evening. Convoy seems to have grown: ships all around us & as far as horizon. Two cruisers arrived this afternoon: destroyers also chasing around. Is there another beachhead on the way? Have now been aboard three days – & travelled about 4 or 5 miles. Cigarettes are running low. Sleeping quarters becoming hard to bear: no ventilation at night: air foul & “thick”: partly oil & fume laden too. Rumoured this afternoon that we would move tonight, irrespective of weather: Tanks have been shackled down by crew.
Haven’t seen newspapers since Sunday…& no wireless news. Hear vague rumours about war from crew, but nothing definite.
No mails: no word from Jess. Are her letters already over there? Presume they must be. Thank goodness there is something to look forward to. There must be at least half a dozen letters for me somewhere.
Good tea meal: steak, pots. mixed veg: tinned peaches – tea – bread & butter. Tea too sweet! I like sweet tea & coffee, but the Americans must like it sickly sweet. There is no shortage of sugar on this ship. Bowls full on tables for all meals. Later. Sailing midnight?