Thursday, 20 March 2014

How to make tea, in mid-Atlantic 1916.

As the night neared its end and dawn broke, two of us volunteered to brew some tea, as a refresher.  It took two men.  With the daylight, we left our mess, went on deck, and dodged the seas that were coming inboard.  Some of the waves seemed thirty feet above our bows as Jessie plunged and lifted her nose high and then, with an almighty “swish”, the sea would surge along her main deck.  Out of breath, we arrived in the galley and brewed up.  Then, lashing the teapot lid on tight, we now had to return to the lads, whilst hoping the salt water did not get in and mix with the tea.  We arrived back at the hatchway, soaked but safe.  While I held the teapot, the second man held me as we descended the companion ladder, which was quite a feat.  We hung the teapot from a swinging hook and poured our tea into basins.  You need an acquired skill to drink from a basin in these conditions without upsetting it down your chest.  But the tea helped to relieve our tension.  I was on watch at eight bells, or 8.00 a.m., so I had some biscuits and corned beef, and went on duty.

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