July 26, 1918 – Welcome to England, mates

American troops arriving in Liverpool, 1918

They had spied land, they’d made it safely through the Irish Sea but no one was resting easy.  Even in the Mersey, close to the port, danger existed in the form of mines and submarines.

“Dawn found the convoy at the mouth of the Mersey River and the ships in single file.  As the great transports entered the river, pilot ships drew alongside and the pilot swung himself up the rope ladder and aboard.  From then on, the file of steamers seemed to be following the leader in a snake file from bank to bank of the river.  All considered themselves lucky to have a pilot who knew his business, however, and none objected to this winding course when it became known that such a course was necessary in order to avoid mines and submarines yet.

“About noon the convoy was safely within the harbor and in the groups on deck could be heard the ‘brave’ ones wishing they had seen a submarine, while others shouted to the crowds on the passing ferry boats, or, better yet, scanned them minutely with field glasses and discussed the respective quality of the one with the red blazer and the one with the blue.  Then, too, much excitement was caused by a battered tug steaming alongside and discharging a crew of grimy stevedores, who, despite the grime, proved by their faces that old England was still ‘merrie.’  They soon had the hatches open and all gear in working order for a rapid discharge of cargo, and stood chaffing good-naturedly with the troops.  In the meantime the ship was persistently pushed into the dock by a large tug, the gangplank was hauled overboard, and all knew that the first stage of the journey was over.”

– The Three Hundred and First Engineers – A History 1917-1920


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