The troop train arrived at Southampton dock at about 5.45 p.m.. When guns and baggage were disentrained by our Gunners the Battery was fell in with baggage and marched on board the hired troopship Grantully Castle which was moored by the quay a stone’s throw from the train. The N.C.O.’s and men were shown their messing and sleeping quarters by the stewards, they all had a substantial meal.
By 6.45 p.m. the Guns, stores, etc. had been embarked aboard the ship by the crew and dock hands. The 3rd Kent Battery men by now were settling themselves for a long voyage in company with four companies of the 6th East Surreys and eight companies of the 4th Queens (Infantry). Number on board roughly estimated in round figures: Artillery 450. East Surreys 400. 4th Queens 800. Crew 30. 1,680 total.
The troopship was due to sail at 9 p.m., but owing to shortage in crew had to wait for further hands before proceeding. At 11 p.m. the moorings were cast and with the aid of two tugs, one attached to the bow, the other at the stern, they towed her broad side on out into the Channel clear of the quay. The hawser attached to the stern broke, causing no damage – being sufficiently away from the quay she was able to proceed under her own steam.
After proceeding a short way we passed two other ‘troopers’ laying in Southampton water, the sound that greeted us was one of lusty cheering. Just after 12 midnight retired to bunk after seeing a submarine pass by us which made the blood run cold.
Troopship Grantully Castle, image courtesy of Vincent O’Grady and maritimequest.com