Finally the convoy of 23, with the British cruiser “Berwick,” started for Europe. The convoy was faster than the Berwick and several times had to wait for it to catch up. One day we had a submarine scare and the Berwick left (us) to chase the Sub and we never saw the Berwick again.
One of the unpopular aspects was the necessity of a daily shower. The shower room opened on the deck at both ends (no doors). A cold salt water shower in mid-Atlantic with a stiff wind blowing on you is not the most comfortable thing in the world, and it is also hard to dry off from a salt water shower.
Two days (although we didn’t know that) from the other side, two U.S.A. 4-stack destroyers appeared and how the boys cheered to see them, the Stars and Stripes. They were fast too, and kept circling the whole convoy, and once included a submarine scare and I thought sure we were hit. However, it was our guns. We had one in the stern. When our guns were fired the old cattle boat just shivered with the recoil.
The night before we landed those who could find a place were allowed to sleep outside. I found a place on one of the forward hatches and with overcoast under me and poncho over me went to sleep. About 3 a.m. came a driving rain. With the first few drops I wakened and retired to the Orlop deck and the poncho kept off most of the rain, but some of the boys were soaked to the skin.
LAND and were we glad to see it. We separated from the rest of the convoy and sailed up the Govars Estuary, docking at Cardiff, Wales on July 31st. I understand it was the only American Ship to land there during the War.
Solid ground again! What a welcome we got from the inhabitants!! It must have seemed miraculous to the war weary people, who had been at war for nearly 4 years, to see a shipload of soldiers appear from over the horizon, to be on their side.
Cardiff reminded me a lot of Boston – narrow crooked streets and buildings of 7 or 8 stories (the limit in Boston at that time). We marched, full pack, up the main street to the Welch [sic] Capitol building. It was extremely hot and carrying full pack and coming from weeks of relative inactivity many fell out and sat on the curb. As soon as a soldier did this a native would rush to him with a drink from a nearby Pub, and seeing this more and more feel out. When we got to the Capitol Plaza they played the Star Spangled Banner and while standing at attention several passed out.