Diary of Lieutenant X (Aime Ernest Motsch)

Thursday, 28 April, 1898

Saigon. On board the Bruix.

In Washington, war has been declared by Congress. France and England have expressed their neutrality. The commandant’s final orders state that we are to leave Monday for Manila.

What are we supposed to do? How long will this mission take? Are we merely going ashore? In the mess hall, varied opinions are heard all around.

Meanwhile, the daily naval drills continue as I keep watch to make sure nothing escapes me. I just pray that we see some action soon.

There is a rush to consult the orders: in Manila, between May and June, the maximum temperature is 41, the minimum is 27. And what raging fevers! “We will be prohibited from going ashore even during the day, will have to survive on canned food, and miss inspection tours!” notes someone who has no desire to leave Saigon. There are those who are looking forward to something new, and others for whom the notion of war seems vastly exciting. Personally, I detest departures, but all voyages delight me. I find that each experience, each situation corresponds to a special spirit that gratifies the soul.

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