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Remembering Earle R. Miller Return To Canada
Earle Russell Miller (Service No. 283361) enlisted at the age of 17 with the 219th Battalion at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, April 3, 1916. He was born July 4, 1898, in Yarmouth, the son of Avard Herbert and Hannah Sarah (Allen) Miller.  
Prologue On   numerous   occasions   I   have   promised   to   write   a   description   of   this   particular   trip   across   the Atlantic. I   intend   to   write   it   in   the   form   of   a   diary   and   see   it   through   a   soldier’s   eyes   as   a   soldier   for   I   am still a soldier although for not much longer. Thank God! Wednesday April 16th. 19 Reveille   this   morning   for   the   draft   was   at   5.45.      Breakfast   at   6.15.   Fall   in   on   the   parade   ground at   6.45.     The   roll   was   called   and   one   man   struck   off   the   draft   for   being   unsteady   (hadn’t   got   over   the effects   of   the   night   before).      A   heavy   wind   was   blowing   and   it   rained   all   the   morning.      It   certainly was   rotten   weather.      I   never   had   much   use   for   English   weather   and   this   my   last   day   in   England,   has just put the cap on it.  I am leaving England with a very poor opinion of the weather. We   stood   on   the   parade   ground   until   7.30   and   then   marched   to   the   station   (Kimmel   Park,   about a half mile). Before boarding the train we were given embarkation tickets. The train (special) left the station at 8.35 bound for Liverpool.  Chester 9.55. Warrington 10.40.  And reached Liverpool at 11.30.  But were not allowed to leave the train for some time.  There was quite a crowd of civilians to see us off, mostly men. We boarded the boat at 3,30 and were allotted our places. Now   as   an   N.C.O.   (as   I   am   still   in   the   army)   who   of   course   is   supposed   to   know   everything   and to be able to answer all manner of questions I set out to explore. So perhaps I had better tell a little about the ship. She   is   a   large   ship   nearly   as   large   as   the   Olympic   but   has   never   been   fitted   for   passengers.      She was   being   built   as   Belfast   at   the   time   that   was   was   declared   and   was   taken   over   by   the   government for the purpose of transporting troops. She   was   to   have   had   two   more   decks   and   one   more   funnel   (She   has   only   two   at   present)      There are   no   finishings   at   all   there   is    nothing   but   just   the   bare   steel   walls.     The   only   place   to   walk   around   is on   the   boat   deck   as   that   is   the   only   deck   open   to   the   air.      And   as   there   is   nearly   three   thousand aboard this ship it is rather crowded there. We   got   dinner   at   15.00   and   then   I   spent   a   while   watching   the   people   on   the   shore   with   my binoculars. Then as I had not much sleep last night I went below for a little snooze. Supper was at 19.00. Then I went on deck and watched the tugs manoeuvring the ship around the docks. The ship is inside the locks here and as the tide is low at present we can’t get out. It has cleared up now and is fairly fine but there is still a strong wind blowing. Well I am pretty sleepy now, it is only 20.30 o’clock but I think I will turn in in a few minutes.  We   sleep   in   Hammocks   slung   so   close   together   that   the   side   of   each   bump.   But   it   isn’t   bad,   I can stand it I guess.   Our   messing   tables   are   directly   underneath   our   hammocks   and   we   are   walking   all   over   them most   of   the   time   getting   in   and   out   of   the   hammocks.      The   [sic]   There   are   no   lights   near   my hammock so I will have to make a habit of going to bed early. I   will   turn   in   now.      I   have   been   feeling   fine   all   day   as   far   as   health   is   concerned,   but   of   course the fooling around rather gets on a fellow’s nerves and I haven’t been in the best of humor all day. Thursday April 17th 1919 I   woke   up   this   morning,   about   7   o’clock   by   English   time.      During   the   night   the   ship   had   left Liverpool   and   when   I   went   on   deck   England   had   just   passed   out   of   sight   and   we   were   in   the   Irish   Sea somewhere. Breakfast was at 7 or supposed to be. I didn’t get mine till about 5. After breakfast I went on deck and watched the ships etc. which passed us. The Irish coast has been in sight all day.  I spent a good deal of my time this morning watching the gulls, they have been following us all day. Dinner was at 12 noon. I   am   not   sure   about   the   time   as   the   ship’s   time   is   changed   about   3/4   hour   each   day   and   I   don’t known at what hour it is set back.  I set my watch back in the morning anyway. This   afternoon   and   evening   I   have   spent   on   deck   also.      It   is   regular   Monte   Carlo   up   there   with crap games, crown and anchor, etc. running full blast. Tea   as   served   at   17.00   o’clock.     And   we   get   butter   real   butter   my   but   it   tastes   good.     And   lots of sugar in our tea, oh! we are well away. There   was   a   heavy   wind   blowing   all   the   morning   but   it   has   gone   down   now.   I   had   my   last   look   at Ireland   at   about   19.30   o’clock   when   I   came   down   here   it   was   just   fading   in   the   list   and   darkness.      It seems strange to think that perhaps I have had my last look at the Old Country. The old  boat has acted fine all day  up till tea time I could  imagine I was  ashore  somewhere.  There  was  no  motion  midships  at all  and very  little fore or aft.  But  to-night we have struck the Atlantic swell and she is moving around a little. I   have   been   almost   praying   all   day   that   it   would   get   a   little   rougher   so   that   some   of   the   boys would   get   sick,   not   that   I   wish   anyone   and   harm   or   anything   like   that   but   there   would   be   more   room to   move   around   on   deck   and   more   to   eat   if   some   of   the   boys   stayed   in   their   hammocks   instead   of being up. I was talking to  one  of the stewards  to-day and he said we would make the  trip in six  days if the weather was fine.  Well here is hoping she makes an extra spurt somewhere on the way. My bunk is midships and on the second  deck so I am in a good place if it is anyways [sic] rough.  The only thing is that there is quite a vibration  from the engines as I am directly above them.  I have a slight headache to-night because of this and so I think I will turn in, in a few minutes. I   havn’t   [sic]   had   either   a   wash   or   a   shave   to-day   the   first   time   I   have   missed   for   a   good   many weeks, and I don’t seem to notice it much. I guess it must be the salt sea air. Well I guess I will have a smoke and then turn-in (21.00) Friday April 18th 1919 (Good Friday) Got up about 6.30. Eggs for breakfast. It   has   been   fairly   rough   all   day   and   my   selfish   wish   has   been   fulfilled.      It   was   hard   for   a   good many   of   the   fellows   but   the   deck   was   not   so   crowded   to-day.      Most   of   the   fellows   who   were   on   deck were either over the rails or lying down out of the way. I spent the whole morning just wandering around the ship. It   was   so   foggy   during   the   morning   that   it   was   impossible   to   see   more   that   a   few   hundred   yards away from the ship. The   Nova   Scotia   boys   were   paid   this   morning   at   9.30   {L1   and   a   slip   for   $5   (to   be   drawn    cashed as soon as we reach Halifax)} After   dinner   I   had   a   sleep   until   tea   time.      I   don’t   know   what   is   the   matter   with   me   but   if   I   go on   deck   for   awhile   I   get   very   sleepy   and   hungry   and   my   only   ambition   to-day   has   been   to   eat   and sleep. All   day,   outside   of   the   ship,   I   have   not   seen   a   single   object   of   any   kind.   After   tea   it   was   clear but   I   didn’t   see   as   much   as   the   smoke   of   a   steamer   not   even   a   bird   of   any   kind.      Nothing   but   a   stretch of   dark   blue,   white   capped   water   beneath   a   clouded   sky;   through   which   stray   rays   of   sunlight gleamed. The   Monte   Carlo   aft   has   been   going   full   speed   all   day,   there   are   enough   fools   who   are   not   sick to keep it going strong. To night I had supper at the canteen ( a few cakes and a bottle of pop). I   have   been   feeling   fine   all   day.      Havn’t   [sic]   been   in   the   least   sick,   although   I   spent   most   of   my time   to   day   either   in   the   bow   or   stern   of   the   ship   just   to   see   if   I   would   get   sick.      But   I   guess   I   am   as good a sailor as ever. I   am   not   enjoying   this   trip   in   the   least.      I   wish   I   could   sleep   through   the   whole   thing   and   wake up   the   day   we   enter   Halifax   Harbour.      I   have   met   a   few   fellows   I   know   on   board   but   no   one   that   I   can call   a   chum   or   even   a   friend.      I   am   struck   here   all   by   myself   and   just   keeping   wandering   around alone.      I   can   pick   up   acquaintances   fairly   quickly   but   am   very   slow   making   chums   or   friends   and   I   am getting   sick   of   this.      There   is   no   one   on   the   ship   (or   at   least   I   have   not   met   no   one,   that   I   knew   in pre-war days. I   wish   a   huge   aeroplane   would   take   us   in   tow   and   land   us   in   Halifax   tomorrow   morning,   instead of sometime next week when we expect to reach there. Well, it it [sic] getting along to 21.00 o’clock so I guess I will turn in for a little snooze. Saturday April 19th 1919 Rev for me was at 7.30 I   had   a   good   sleep   last   night,   am   just   getting   used   to   my   hammock.      A   fellow   can   only   lie   one way   in   a   hammock   of   course.      That   is   of   course   with   ones   head   and   feet   about   two   feet   above   the rest of the body. Breakfast (sausage & spuds) After   breakfast   I   went   on   deck   again   but   to   day   has   been   just   the   same   as   yesterday   not   an object of any kind in slight all day, nothing but the deep blue. The   ship   changed   her   course   last   night   to   a   more   westerdly   [sic]   direction   and   the   wind   is blowing across the port bow, this makes the ship roll quite a bit as well as pitch. At   11   o’clock   this   morning   there   was   a   fire   alarm,   and   we   all   had   to   fall   in   on   deck   and   were allotted our positions in case anything did happen. To-day   at   noon   has   been   the   first   day    time   that   the   sun   has   been   showing   clearly   and   I   watched the officer using the sextant and set my watch accordingly. Shortly   after   dinner   we   ran   into   a   rain   squall   but   it   only   lasted   about   fifteen   minutes   and   it came   out   fine   immediately   afterwards.      This   afternoon   has   been   the   first   time   it   has   been   anyways pleasant on deck. I spent most of the afternoon watching the gamblers. After   tea   I   went   on   deck   and   there   met   Sgt   Eldridge   (James)   who   I   havn’t   [sic]   seen   for   four years.   He   took   me   down   to   his   quarters.     They   have   fine   quarters   two   nice   bunks   and   a   fair   amount   of room   and   electric   fans   besides.      We   had   a   good   old   talk   together   about   old   Yarmouth   which   we   both hope   to   be   in   very   shortly.      But   more   than   anything   else   our   talk   rested   on   the   subject   of   English   girls and   how   they   were   going   to   compare   with   the   Canadian   girls   we   would   soon   be   amongst   again.      We both   agreed   that   the   Canadian   girls   would   have   to   look   out   or   all   the   young   fellows   would   be   coming back   to   England   for   their   wives.   And   that   they   would   certainly   have   to   be   at   their   best   to   use   the boys any better than the English girls have. I   stayed   with   Jimmie   until   20.00   o’clock   and   then   came   down   here   again   and   now   I   guess   I   will turn in. I   have   been   feeling   fine   all   day   and   to-night   I   don’’t   feel   quite   so   disheartened   as   I   did   last night. The ship is supposed to be about halfway across the Atlantic to-night. Sunday April 20th 1919 6.30 Rev. Had breakfast - no eggs this morning. After breakfast I went on deck until noon and spent the time walking around the gambling, etc. After   dinner   I   read   till   tea   time.      After   tea   played   45’s   till   20.00   o’clock   and   am   now   sitting down to write this. It   has   been   foggy   all   day   although   it   wasn’t   bad   this   morning.      But   this   afternoon   we   ran   into   a heavy   mist   just   about   as   bad   as   rain   and   the   wind   has   increased   in   strength   so   that   it   has   been   far from pleasant on deck so I have kept below. Today   has   been   just   the   same   as   yesterday   as   far   as   scenery   is   concerned.      Not   an   object   of   any kind in sight all day. Well   the   old   ship   is   drawing   close   to   land   now   instead   of   getting   father   away.      This   afternoon we   were   only   900   miles   from   Halifax   and   we   expect   to   dock   in   Halifax   the   day   after   tomorrow,      The sooner   the   better   is   all   I   can   say.      It   is   a   little   rougher   tonight   but   nothing   to   speak   of.      Nearly   as   the boys have got their sea legs now, I have only seen one fellow sick today. This   afternoon   |I   examined   the   log.      It   is   the   first   time   I   have   had   the   chance.      It   is   more   like   a speed meter on an automobile  than anything I know of. I   have   been   feeling   fine   all   day   in   health   as   usual   but   the   time   drags   and   it   gets   on   my   nerves seeing the same old thing day after day. Well I guess I will turn in (20.30 o’clock) Monday, April 21st 1919 Well   one   more   day   nearer   home.      I   was   up   this   morning   about   6   o’clock.      But   the   ships   whistle woke me quite a while before that. During   the   morning   we   were   in   the   vicinity   of   icebergs,   we   passed   numerous   small   ones.      The fog   was   so   thick   at   times   that   it   was   impossible   to   see   the   length   of   the   ship.      It   kept   this   way   all   the morning until 10 o’clock when the fog lifted and it began to get warmer. The ships engines were working all the morning at just enough pressure to give headway. From   10   till   11   o’clock   I   watched   a   few   boxing   bouts   that   were   taking   place   on   deck   under   the supervision of the Y.M.C.A. officer. At 11 o’clock there was a medical inspection for M. D. 6 and that took up the time until dinner. After   dinner   it   came   on   colder   but   not   quite   so   foggy   and   the   ship   did   not   slacken   speed   any.        She has been making an average of 18 knots this afternoon. During the afternoon I just wandered around on deck seeing the same old thing over again. After tea I stayed below and played cards. All   the   fog   has   disappeared   now   and   we   are   going   along   fine.      The   seas   has   been   almost   like   a mill   pond   to-day,   I   would   hardly   realize   that   I   was   on   a   ship   if   it   were   not   for   the   throb   of   the engines. I   saw   quite   a   number   of   young   sea   birds   this   morning   just   learning   to   fly   so   we   are   getting   close to land again. Two whales were seen from deck this morning before I was up so of course I missed that. Well   at   present   we   expect   to   be   in   Halifax   by   tomorrow   night   if   we   don’t   strike   heavy   fog again.      The   boat   is   scheduled   for   six   days   and   was   eight   hours   ahead   of   time   last   night   but   lost   all   of the gain this morning.  But we will strike Halifax Tuesday night or Wednesday morning for sure. The   boys   are   so   pleased   that   there   is   no   holding   them;   they   have   been   like   a   bunch   of   raving maniacs   all   day,   doing   everything   conceivable   to   make   a   racket.      I   have   been   feeling   rather   that   way myself. Well it is about time I turned in for a little sleep.  Have been feeling fine all day. Tuesday April 22nd 1919 Usual   routine   today.      It   has   been   foggy   all   day.      I   couldn’t   see   fifty   yards   any   time   during   the day. During   the   morning   I   watched   the   boxing   for   about   an   hour   and   the   remainder   of   the   morning   I spent below playing cards. During the afternoon I watched the boxing for awhile and then went below. It   has   been   warm   all   day   although   rather   damp.         The   ship   has   been   going   full   speed   all   day   in spite of the fog. The   whistle   has   been   blowing   all   day   at   intervals   of   two   minutes   and   is   still   at   it.      I   don’t   know whether I will get any sleep to-night or not as the old horn is enough to deafen a person. After   tea   I   spent   my   time   packing   up   and   sorting   out   my   kit;   and   did   a   little   shinning,   the   first   I have done during the trip. We   expect   to   reach   Halifax   before   daylight   and   [perhaps   I   will   be   a   civy   by   to-morrow   night.   I hope so. Well it is about time to turn in and see if I can forget that - whistle. Have been feeling in the best of health all day. Wednesday April 23nd 1919 (Halifax) Reveille   was   about   4.30,   anyway   I   got   up   about   that   time.      I   got   my   breakfast   and   then   went   on deck. The   coast   of   good   old   Nova   Scotia   could   be   seen   on   our   starboard   side   about   two   miles   away. Now you talk about an excited bunch of kids well we certainly were that. We   entered   the   mouth   of   the   harbour   about   7   o’clock   I   think   it   was   and   had   to   wait   there   for   a pilot.      Then   we   steamed   up   the   harbour.      When   we   came   in   sight   of   the   city   I   guess   they   blew   off   all the steam that they had in the place. All   the   fellows   were   on   deck   or   the   majority   of   them   were,   the   remainder   were   amongst   the riggings. We   docked   at   about   9.30   o’clock   and   I   clambered   off   at   9.45   o’clock.      And   maybe   I   wasn’t pleased although I knew nobody in Halifax. From   the   pier   we   were   marched   up   to   the   Armories   where   we   were   given   a   lecture   by   some Major and were then sent over to the barracks until we would be called for. I   had   my   dinner   and   a   change   of   clothes   and   then   hung   around   until   15.00   o’clock   and   then   had to collect my surplus kit and go to the Armories again. I   got   over   there   with   about   a   couple   of   hundred   other   fellows   and   had   to   hang   around   till   17.00 o’clock   before   we   got   started.     After   I   entered   the   first   department   I   was   discharged   in   about   twenty minutes. First   we   went   to   Q.   M.,   then   chaplains,   M.O.   Dentest,   pay   master,   badge   dept,   discharge   dept, (where   I   got   my   precious   slip   of   paper)   Railway   office.      Then   to   the   bank   to   get   my   check   cashed   and my English money changed. I   met   Ken   Vickery   in   the   bank   office   and   I   was   some   pleased   to   see   him   as   he   was   the   first   civy   I had met on this side I knew. Well my soldiering ended this afternoon at 17.30 o’clock and I am now a full fledged civy. After   getting   my   discharge   I   walked   down   town   to   a   “chop   suey”   joint   to   get   something   to   eat, and then I walked around till about 22.30 o’clock and then came back here to barracks. Well I guess I will turn in now.  23.00 o’clock. Feeling fit as a fiddle. Finis April 24th And I am back to the same old place I started from over three years ago. E.R. Miller  
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