Richard William Mapp Diary 1917
Mapp Diary 1917
Soldier's Diary, covered in tan material with a pencil in the front. It is written in pencil and starts with general information, addresses, poetry and bits and pieces. Richard starts the diary using January, even although he is writing about happenings in November. He does name the month and day of writing in most cases.
He starts the diary proper on 20 November 1917 when leaving New Zealand on board the troop ship Maunganui and the last dated entry is January 10, 1918 when he is training in earnest at Sling Camp in Bulford on Salisbury Plain, England.
RICHARD WILLIAM MAPP 1897-1918
This book belongs to L/C R.W. Mapp. E Company 20 Platoon 32nd Rein.
Late Redwoodtown Blenheim Marlborough South Island New Zealand
1917 Left Blenheim on 20 Aug for Camp Went to Featherston first. Tauherenikau next
back to Featherston again and then to Trentham.
Was vacinated and annoccualated on 27 Aug.
Went on Final leave on 5 Oct.
Richard William Mapp is my name. Soldiering my occupation. At present Trentham is my home. Berlin my Destination.
It is not the foe we fear.
It isn't the bullets that whine.
It isn't the business career,
Of a shell or the burst of a mine.
It isn't the snipers who seek,
To nip our young hopes in the bud.
No, it isn't the guns,
And it isn't the Huns,
Its the Mud, Mud, Mud.
When the summer sun is sinking,
And your heart from care set free.
And of others you are thinking,
Just have one thought for me.
E.E. Soan 20/11/17
Nov 21 Wed.
Came on board the Maunganui. We came straight down from the train on to the boat. We did not get away from the whalf till 1 oclock. We stood out in the stream till 5 oclock and then made for the sea.
Woke up to find we were well out to sea. The sea is very choppy today and am beginning to feel a bit seedy. There are five of us in the one cabin. All mates J Gavin, N Bannatynne F Brown and Ruston.
Friday I have been pretty sea sick for the last couple of days but the doctor would not allow anyone to stay in bed. I believe this a good thing because you feel better when up on deck I did not miss any of the parades, but did not eat much for the first two days. They put the ship time back a day today so we are going to have two Thursdays in this week. Feeling tip top today going down and enjoying a real good meal. We had cold meat and pickles for tea last night and it put me on my feet.
All lights have to be out at 7.30 p.m. tonight so we must be getting in the line of ships. We have no idea where we are going yet.
Our first sunday at sea. The weather is still very cold & rough. I did not go down to breakfast but after an hour or two on deck felt decent.
We always have pea soup for dinner and bread & jam.
We were the platoon for duty today so had to scrub the decks and passages.
Routine for the day
Get up at 6 o clock .
Roll call and half an hours physical exercise at 6.15.
Breakfast at 7 a.m.
After that clean up cabin and get up on deck before 8 a.m.
We do not fall in again till 9 a.m.
Physical drill and lectures till a quarter to 12
We do not start drill again till 2 p.m. which lasts till 4 o clock.
We finish for the day then.
There are two sitting at our Mess. Two Companys going in at a time, about 400 men. The sittings are ¾ of a hour about. We are in the second sitting this week but will be first next week.
The ships master inspects the ship every day. Every thing has to be spotless or he has a roar for somebody.
Nobody is allowed down below while the inspection lasts which is from 9 oclock till 11. The cabin commander is held responsible if his cabin is not clean. I am our cabin commander so have to keep the chaps up to it.
Our cabin is on the first deck so we are jolly lucky. It must be rotten right down in the bottom deck.
We are not supposed to mix with the crew. There is always a guard on at their quarters to stop us going into their quater. Also a guard at nearly every staircase and one at the fresh water taps to see that it is only used for drinking only.
Nov 26th Monday
It is still dull but the sea is calm so we are hopping about the deck again. We had a very easy day. Saw two whales in the morning about 400 yards away. We did not see them for long.
All the Reinforecement was vaccinated this afternoon but I got out of that because I had been done at Featherston when in the Mounteds.
It is jolly hard to rite well because the (ship) goes from one side to the other all the time. We quite enjoy the motion now.
Nov 28th Wed
We have had two lovely days the first since being at sea. We had boat drill last night at 4.30p.m. As soon as the bugle sounded the warning, every man had to get his lifebelt and fall in on his pradade ground. The roll is then called and a corporal sent up to the bridge to tell the Captain how many is on prade. Every company is supposed to have word up to the Captain in 4 minutes. It took us 13. very slow.
We held a concert in the dining room last night. It was jolly good.
The less some people have to say the more they let you know about it.
I was orderley Corporal yesterday and today. It is the best job on the boat, bar the captains. All I have to do is collect the sick twice a day and parade them to the doctor and fill in the reports.
It was washing day for our Company this morning. Each man was allowed one bucket of cold fresh water. I suppose the soaping and wetting would not do them any harm.
We had gift bottles of sauce and jam for tea tonight. They were from the ChCh Lady Liverpool Branch. It was the best tea we have had yet. The food is improving now a bit.
Nov. 1 (Dec)
A lovely day the sea is as calm as a tub of water.
Sunday I am still orderly corporal. Church parade was the only parade today.
At dinner time today we saw big school of porpoises.
We are still having lovely weather, it is not getting much warmer yet. We have lime juice at dinner time now every day.
The ship carries a 4"7 howister on the stern. There are three pernament gunners to work it. One of them was on the Warner on her last fight. They had gun pratice yesterday.
The target was 5 fruit cases nailed together. They dropped it over board and waited till it got 1800 yds behind before firing the first shots. The first shot just missed it. The second smashed it up. We had lost sight of the cases long before they started firing.
Dec 6th Thursday
Our Company is waiting for duty for a week from today. It is the ninth day since everybody was vaccinated and there are a lot of them pretty bad.
We had been having good weather this last week. Two men threw bottles over board with messenges in stating where they came from. The C.O. heard of it and he has promised to deal pretty severly with the men.
We had a stump-speech night last night. About twelve entered. The subjects were Stew, Fatigues, Masseys Boots, Weekend leave on board, Vaccination. The canditates had to pick their subjects out of a hat. Quater M.Jordan won the prize. He drew Stew.
We passed over the line last night. I thought it would very hot but it is no hotter than a summer day in NZ. We are expecting to reach port tomorrow night.
Dec 11th Wed
We can see a light house to night. it is a 100 miles from port the sailors say. There are also ships passing us. The first we have seen since coming away.
We can see land this morning. We achored just outside a bay this morning about 10 oclock. After waiting about an hour a launch came off with a pilot, doctor, and custom Officer. as soon as they came aboard we made a start.
It is just like going up the sounds to Picton. The country is pretty rough but it has got a good growth of palms and trees. We got to the Canal at 1 o clock, and are going to go straight through. Panama city is at this end and bolbar. They say these places are well worth seeing. Lo Roca is also on the Pacific side. There are a string of islands running out from Panama and they are connected up with a railway we could see the trains going backwards and forwards. The first locks are just in side the canal. these locks raise the level of the water 85 ft. As soon as we got inside the lock the big iron doors swung shut and the water began to rise. The water rises 45 ft in 5 minutes. As soon as the water is up to the proper level the next locks gate open and we pass on.
There are three of these locks at this end. The banks are lined with niggers here. They can all talk English. They told us a ship had passed through five days before with NZ wounded on board.
Elrictic motors two on each bank pull the steamer through these locks.These motors run on rails and have a big rail with cogs on so as to get a grip.
The people gave us a big hearing all along the locks. They threw us fruit and books and we throw them coins, and ciggrates.
American soldiers were on guard here and they took off their buttons and badges and gave us. We went the next 30 miles under our own steam.
Culebra Cut the biggest job on the canal was well worth seeing. There are little settlements all along the banks.
Miraflores locks and Pedro-Miguel are on the Panama side. We got to the Gatun locks about 6 oclock. These lower us 85 ft into to Atlantic ocean and are five miles from Colon the Atlantic end of the canal.
The Gatun Dam is here, it is 7,200 ft long, 1900 ft thick, 115 ft deep. We got another big hearing here with the soldiers and people. The band played us through the locks. We soon got to Colon from here and started coaling that night. Colon is the fastest coaling station in the world. The coal is handled by over head motor -trucks, each holding 10 tonn, and elevators, if a boat will take it they can put on 2000 ton an hour.
Dec 13th Thursd
They had finished coaling when we got up this morning. We thought we would get ashore today but we did not. We pulled out into the harbour this morning about 10 oclock. While going out into the harbour an ereoplane came flying over us low down. it was the first we had seen.
We also saw two submarines cruising about the harbour and a torpedo boat. Two other transports have been waiting for us here. It is just six oclock and we are getting ready to go.
There is a battle cruiser in the lead. The Tihiti is next then us and the (space in line) at the back.
They have very fast motor launches to bring the pilots aboard. Two niggers work them. The negro and indians would grab any food we did not want and gorge themselves.
We have been two days at sea again.
They have a big breakwater at Colon harbour. In case of attack they can draw a big net across to stop boats getting into the harbor. We came out in a zigzag course so as to dodge sunken mines.
We are just passing a big island on the starboard side.
We had sports on board this afternoon. We only got half the events off. I was in the obstacle race and got second in our heat besides a good few bruises. We ran it off in heats of four.
The course was through a life belt, next through a long canvas tube full off flour & seeds. then life belt hanging up by a rope, then over a big pig net hung up by ropes about two yards from deck, and then under a net pegged down tight on deck. The course was right round the deck.
When we woke up this morning land was in sight.
The last two days have been the worst that we have yet so we are pleased to sight land. The propeller was racing a good bit.
This is a big bay we are anchored in by the look of it with towns scattered around it. We are going ashore tonight at a place called Newport News.
A tug came alongside about five oclock so we have leave till 10 oclock. Newport News had a population of 20 thousand before the war but has 60 now. This place is the biggest naval base in the World. (Virginia, USA)
There had just been a fall of 9 inches of snow so everything was sluchy. it was nearly impossible to cross the street for mud at some places. The trams was pushing it off the rails all the time.
It was the first time we have been ashore since leaving New Z. so most of us made a bee line to a cafe. We had a real good meal for 60 cents, half a crown.
Everything is very scarce here and all food dear.
The people treated us very well and were very pleased to see us.
We came on another 17 miles today to a place called Norfork (Virginia, further into the James R. estuary) to get coal and water. We docked at a big coaling peir were the coal was brought along an overhead railway worked by electricy. Each truck carrid 80 tons.
We went ashore again from five till 11 oclock and had a real good time.
This town is just the oppisite to Newport News, everything is spotless and there is some very good buildings some 14 storys high.
It was the sailors pay night so it was a busy night.
This is the place the American soldiers leaves from. there are very big camps just outside the town. American troops are sailing from here every night.
A ship left here yesterday with 17 thousand aboard. It was the Vanerland that was captured from the Germans, it is the biggest ship in the world.
There are also enormus dry docks here one of them employes 14 thousand men.
Four of us walked into a big Cafe to have tea. We had to wait nearly an hour to get it the place was so crowded with soldiers. When we were finished we could not get near the counter to pay so walked out without paying, our bill was 60 cents each.
We got our money changed at the YMCA. The exchange was 60 cents in the pound. 40c for a pound.
The trade people could not make out our money. One man gave over 5s. to pay for something and got 9 s back.
Had a big disapointment this morning. Two men disappeared last night so all leave is cancelled. Only the guard got leave. We lay at the peir till 4 oclock and then pulled out in the stream.
Another man did not get back so we might not get any more leave.
We are out in the harbour today standing by. There is about 400 big ships about the bay.
The Soft Answer
He sat at the dinner table with a discontented frown.
The potatoes and steak were both undone and the bread was baked to brown;
The pie was too sour, the pudding to sweet, and the meat much to fat;
The soup so greasy, too, and salt, T'was hardly fit for the cat.
"I wish I could eat the bread & pie I've seen my mother make
They are something like, and twould do you good Just to look at a slice of her cake."
Said the smiling wife, "I'll improve with age, Just now I'm but a beginner;
But your mother has come to visit us, And today She cooked the dinner."
We left Hampton Roads this morning for the sea. Gift parcels were give out today. My parcel was Tin coffee and milk Tin tobacco Tin NZ tinned butter Tin Salom 2 lollies wrapped up in a handkichief.
There was great excitement at breakfast this morning, a man fining a rats hind leg in the stewed saugases. It was a geninine leg it being on veiw all day by its lucky finder.
Dec 25th Christmas Day
It has been the quietest ever I have put in. This been a very cold day. We had church parade at 9.30 and were then off for the day.
We had an ordinary dinner but for roast pork. Had a very good tea. Gift cake fruit and jam was given out from Otago and Canterbury ladies, There were a few tins of golden syrup which I enjoyed the best of all.
The weather is getting pretty cold now the days being short.
It was the coldest day we have struck, below 32°. There was ice all about the deck and about 9 inches hanging to the ship all around the water line. We got into port about 12 oclock. Halifax. We came in past the place were the explosion had been in the river. It was terrible the amount of damage done and lives lost. We have not saw any papers so as to the account of it. There was debris floating all about the harbour. We are achored up the river now with other transports. (1917 a French munition ship blew up when it collided with a Norwegian vessel carrying supplies for Belgian relief 1,600 people were killed.) The Officers gave a concert on Christmas night which was very good. The Chaplain arranged a Mock Court last night. The case tried was for devorce. Rev Harrison was dressed up as the plaintif, the lady, and was a great success. We also had a 500 tournament last week that was very good.
There was ice all around the ship this morning. We are sailing today again & I am glad because it is cold here. It was 26 below freezing point this morning. We took up a collection this morning on our three ships in aid of the relief of Halifax. £124 was taken up on our ship, and sent ashore.
We saw the Belgian Releif ship which caused the explosion.
We sailed out at 12 oclock today. There are eight ships now. There are men stationed all around the ship now on the lookout for submarines.
Jan 1st 1918
We have been having fairly warm weather the last two days. We are in a branch of the Gulf Stream.
We carried on work today the same as usal, but the meals were different.
Gift parcels from the Otago branch of Lady Liverpool Fund were given out they are jolly good.
I was on submarine guard on the bridge. We had shifts of one hour on and two hours off. There are six men in a releif and each man has a whisle to give the alarm with.
Jan 3rd 1918
Pve Duncan of the 32nd Speliciacists (Specialists) died today of Spinnal Meningitis.
He was buried this morning. We all paraded on our parade decks and stood at attention while the service was held.
We picked up 8 torperdo destoryers this morning There are also 8 more ships on the sky line making 24 ships in all.
Jan 8th 1918
We steamed up the Mersey river past New Britton (Brighton) to Liverpool this morning. We were stuck on a mud band out at the bar for about two hours last night. It is still snowing.
We pulled into the whalf at 12 oclock and went straight onto a train which was waiting for us. We got away at 12 and did not stop till we got to Birmingham were we got a cup of coffee.
We got to Sling Camp at 12 that night and had a warm meal straight away. We are in the Auckland lines at present but are moving over to the 4th Canterbury Reserve Regiment.
We have started training in earnest now. We go out at 7.45 and go till half past 4. I like the training. We do an hour at Wireing, Bombing, drill, Baynot fighting, and Physical exericises.
All our old officers have gone into a training school to get special training.
180 out of 200 of us was on the Mat tonight for not putting boots out for inspection and not putting valisic (valise) straps on. We got a extra parade for it.
I have met a lot of Blenheim boys although we are isolated. J Nolan, J Gilmore, G Register and others.
I am only going to write down anything special now because we have very little time.
Neil Bannatyne's Brother went down on the Aperima which was submarined. He joined as a Cadet and it was only his first trip.
Deposited £4.10 at the YMCA for safe keeping on the 19th Jan.
Wrote to Home 5 Feb. 3
Ethel 19th (Morris cousin)
Dora (Morris cousin) 14
Patchett 14 (neighbour)
Dewar Hunter 27 Jan (cousin)
G Hille 19th (friend)
V Smith 19th (friend)
E Soan 29 Jan (friend)
Muriel Sparks Feb 3 (cousin)
Addresses in diary:
H Ellis 12 Nelson Regt 2nd Caterbury Battalion No 6/2606.
Gunner H Taylor c/o Mrs Taylor 2nd Market Place Bishop Castle Shropshire - cousin
R Morris 4th Otago Battalion 10/1 14 Infantry Regiment (NZ cousin)
Pte R Cowell 27th Specialist M G S
Mothers (Rosina Sparks m. Mapp) neice Mrs A James Fair-Veiw House Washbrook
Pte W S Smith No 11740 12th Canterbury m Rfls
Mrs Buchanan New Renwick Road (Blenheim NZ)
Bugler AA Hicking Camp 10 NZ command Depot Codford
Mrs P McGregor Barnnet road New Plymouth (aunt)
Dewar Hunter 3 Market St Musselburgh Dunedin (cousin)
Miss Amy Sparks Halswell PO near ChCh (aunt)
Mrs F Redman Tai Tapu P0 Halswell Chch (aunt, Sparks m. Redmond)
Mrs J Hunter near Green Park Tai Tapu Chch (aunt)
W E Sparks Gapes Valley Gerldine (William Earnest Sparks an uncle)
Jacquemin c/o Mr Rose Box.
When the New Zealand Boys come trooping home - and may they soon be back - There'll be many a hearty handshake for "good old Colonel Mac"
Alone the thousands he has led o'er the winding mountain track, Will salute him on the instant, for they love him, each man Jack'.
So here's to one was friend to all, 'e'en those who be "Out Back" - There's not a man in khaki, more liked than Colonel Mac.
In remenbrence D.Gallaher, the All Black footballer, Killed in Action.
They sleep Sound who die brave.
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