The ship passes the Port of Aden, and we learn more about food and drink aboard ship.

Port of Aden, 1890

The Diary Entry

27.2.89 Wednesday

Arose early, had a bath, & went to bed again. Poor Dove no better, did not eat any breakfast. I cooked some eggs, but she could not eat any. She went on deck. I made some beef tea & took to her which she drank.

9.30 a.m. just passed Aden on our left, did not call in but returned (signals). 11.30 A.M. went below. Pollie laid down & I got the (lime juice). We are served out with some of it every day now.Continue reading


It’s another hot day aboard ship, but the ocean is calm. Joseph reports seeing porpoises and flying fish.

The Diary Entry

25.2.89 (Monday)

Arose about 4.30. Went & had a bath. Sea like glass, never saw sea like it before. Heat is almost unbearable.

Pollie much better Thank God.

Saw a lot of fish called porpoises, & flying fish.

Had preserve mutton for dinner. Pollie had some fryed fish for dinner a Marine a friend of our gave her. We had tea in woman Quarters. Had some of our ham, enjoyed it much.

About 730 pm Sergt Major gave me a bottle of Armonack for Pollie, it had been packed in ice & was lovely & cold & was quite refreshing for her.Continue reading

JJ Rowe Diary: 20 Feb 1889


On day ten of Joseph’s voyage, the ship enters Port Said having covered a distance of 2,271 nautical miles since departing Gibraltar. This is a more interesting diary entry than the last few, as Joseph describes sights that are completely new to him.

Port Said, 1890

WARNING: This is a transcription of an historical document. Some of the diary entries contain offensive language and stereotypes that must be understood in the context of the times. Such language and stereotypes are not acceptable today and are not condoned by the author of this blog.

The Diary Entry


Fine morning.Continue reading

JJ Rowe Diary: 19 Feb 1889


After several days of heavy seas, Joseph tells us that there has been a break in the weather. There is entertainment on deck, and Joseph and Pollie spend a happy time together.

The Diary Entry

19.2.89 Tuesday

At 4 Am watch sounded, no-one there but myself. scarce{?} the remained asleep. Officer of the watch & warrant Officer of the Navy made a bother about it, another Sergt & myself had to go before the Colonel about it. Explained matter, all correct.

Had salt pork & pickles & pea soup for dinner. Made a very good dinner, so did Pollie.

Saw the Ship with all her Sails out this afternoon.Continue reading

JJ Rowe Diary: 18 Feb 1889


Joseph describes violent sea swells and panic among the women on the ship. There were injuries and damage to the troopship.

The Diary Entry

18.2.89 Monday

Fine morning. Slept late. Sea roll very heavy. No wind hardly. Had our breakfast on deck. Ship rocked about very much & going down so low as to touch the waters edge, so women frighten very much, some crying & some calling out Good Lord deliver us. I was not frightened nor was Pollie as there was no danger what ever.

Preserve mutton for dinner. Eat none of it. Marine gave us our dinner, fryed meat & potatoes (very nice).Continue reading

JJ Rowe Diary: 17 Feb 1889


Joseph chronicles his seventh day at sea, describing the effects of yet more rough weather, and his remedy for sea sickness.

The Diary Entry

17.2.89 Sunday

Arose about six. Got out of hammock. As soon as I was out, I was down & slid from one side of the place to the other & back again. Got up again & had to hang{?} at everything we could get hold of.

Went to see Pollie. Found them all frightened & excited. Had a raw dryed herring for breakfast because I was sick which stopped it. Pollie had her breakfast about 10 am.Continue reading

JJ Rowe Diary: 16 Feb 1889


Day 6 of Joseph’s voyage saw Pollie going ashore in Malta for groceries. The troopship pulled up anchor and continued on its journey, but it was lashed by a hurricane.

The Diary Entry

16.2.89 Saturday

Fine morning. Arose early. Took Pollie. got water, to wash baby. Had breakfast.

Pollie went on ashore & went to market. Brought back milk & cheese, which I am very fond of, some eggs, oranges, nuts, bacon & sausages, I was nevise [sic] time she went. Boy good, drank a whole bottle of milk while she was away & had fresh beef for dinner. Very good.Continue reading


By mid-day on 15 February, which was the fifth day of travel, Joseph’s troopship had reached Malta, and had travelled a distance of 1,145 nautical miles from Gibraltar. The ship took on supplies, including fuel and food.

The Diary Entry

15.2.89 Friday

Fine morning. Rose at 6 am. Went in to see Pollie. She was in the wash-house. Took her some hot water & She stiped him & gave him a nice comfortable wash.

Had a good breakfast of eggs which I boiled, & went on deck. It rain at little but, not for long. Sighted land, all the way.Continue reading


This is the fourth day of travel en route by ship from Gibraltar to India. Joseph paints a picture of life aboard the troopship with details of bathing, meals, safety drills, and entertainment.

The Diary Entry


A bright morning, not so rough. Slept till six thirty. Got up, roll up my hammock & cleaned my boots & had a wash, which is a very hard thing to get on a Trooper, especially in fresh water as I had this morning.

Went in to see Pollie, she was up, & in wash-house, washing baby.

Sickness gone, had a got breakfast which both of us enjoyed, off ham, as we where thoughtful enough to bring a whole ham with us, which I cooked in the cook-house, & a whole Dutch cheese & some braion thanks to Pollies economy in house keeping.Continue reading


The troopship carrying Joseph and his fellow soldiers continued to sail eastward through the Mediterranean Sea, with the north coast of Africa sighted. It was not a good day for Joseph, however. There was insubordination, snow, ongoing sea sickness, and to top it all off, a hammock mishap.

The Diary Entry


At 4 Am, a Petty Officers & called for the watch. Then I mustered them. There was about 40 of them out of the 100 which should have been there. I reported it to the Officer of the watch & he told me to tell the bugler to sound the watch call, but there was only a Sergt, a Corprl, & one or two turn out.Continue reading