143rd AAA Gun Battalion - Page 11
To do something different we could eat Hershey-bars and stare at the gray water.
Or we could see a movie years old, or we could descend into the hot, crowded ship hold and take a stab at sleeping.
Every day, the "Mah-ster" of the ship commented on the efficiency with which we clamored from the hold to the decks when the bell rang. Then he would say "Boat drill is now dismissed."
The ocean the food, the quarters the entertainment, made the 14 days a month of dull endless stagnation. "There's land!" But is was only a cloud on the horizon and we'd moan and return to our semi-conscious state.
Eventually England rose up bigger and bigger out of the ocean. We finally docked in the port city of Liverpool and naturally as a port city in war time, it was gray, dirty and ugly.
The English band that met us and played American tunes on the bomb-scarred wharf helped our feelings quite a bit.
On the 8th of August we disembarked and proceeded by rail to a camp at Blackshaw Moor ,Leek, Staffordshire, England.
For most of us, it was our first contact with European rail Coaches which seemed strange and so different from ours at home.
We enjoyed that ride through the country section of England with their neat little gardens, their beautiful old houses and the well mowed lawns, which came as such a relief after the industrial and bombed city of Liverpool.
At Blackshaw Moor, the Battalion received the combat equipment which was to complete its TE and allow us to perform our mission on the Continent.
We gathered equipment from American Depots, from Land's End in Southern England and Northern Scotland. But with it all, we had a chance to get passes to in the neighboring towns of Leek and Hanlev and to have several battalion dances with English girls from the nearby villages.
We were introduced to that amazing system, the pound, the shilling, and the pence, and to English drinks like bitters, ale, and stout.
Here was our first introduction to complete blackout and it seemed so strange after the lighted cities of America.
Here we all gained some appreciation of what five years of war had meant to the English people and to appreciate their friendly and comfortable pubs.