From: March, Cyril
To: His Mother
July 10, 1915 S. S. Northland, Approaching Devonport
A few lines to let you know we are about to land, safe and sound, after a very pleasant trip and with beautiful weather.
Submarines are numerous and are rather avaricious, so we did not take the usual route. A couple of days out, when we approached the danger zone, every precaution was taken in case of being torpedoed. The boats were lowered to the promenade deck, a special guard of 50 crack shots (supposed) were chosen from the 1750 men on board. Most of our Regina boys were in the party. I was one. Our work was, in case of being torpedoed, to prevent the small boats from being sunk by gun fire from the attacking submarine when she rose to the surface. Our boys were stationed right at the stern, up over our one big gun, on the highest deck. We kept the horizon continuously swept with powerful glasses, looking for periscopes, but none showed themselves.
Yesterday afternoon two tiny specks were seen on the horizon; they grew and grew and came fairly leaping over the water. They were two British destroyers, Black Devils, they are called. In the morning our ship had received word from England that an escort would protect us. When about 100 miles distant the “Black Devils” sent word that they would reach us at 3.30. They arrived at 3.40. When they came we were much relieved – although we were not exactly afraid of a cold plunge – then the British flag could float from its staff. Just imagine, mother, a time when the British flag floats only with grave danger to its ship on the ocean! I trust that Canada will have men to send until the flag that has stood for Liberty and Protection may safely float to any breeze that blows.
One of the most beautiful scenes I have ever witnessed greeted me when I first appeared on deck about 5.30 this morning. The coast with its fortifications very close on the left – the rich green foliage, and the Old Cornish Castle, about which Jack the Giant-killer legends hang in interesting lore, lifted its turrets over the hill and above the mist.
Back of all, on the sky line, were the hedge-fenced fields, and in the harbor, as we go along, numberless ships, transports, cruisers and just this minute, a submarine goes with its turret above water and its cheering crew. Everywhere we receive cheers ………..
[Phil Vogler: Cyril’s father was a Doctor and the family was originally from Lunenburg County. When his younger sister died (earlier than 1915) she was buried in Bridgewater. I don’t think he died since his name is not listed with the men from Western Kings that did die in that war.]
Berwick Register, August 4, 1915
Contributor: This letter is transcribed from, and courtesy of, the Berwick Register newspaper, Berwick NS, by Phil and Stephanie Vogler and reproduced here with Phil’s kind permission.