World War One.
19 15 TO 1919
As far as I can determine this document is a accumulation of various small Diaries sent home to his cousin Rita Gadd who typed them up to make this complete Diary.
of My Trip Abroad
538 Cpl. Ivor Alexander Williams
Australia Imperial Forces
The Original Dairy is now in the Canberra War Memorial.
This is a true copy with his wording untouched.
This has been a great epic retyping this marvellous document, I have enjoyed being with my father in his youth, it has been one of the greatest adventures of my life.
It is a pity that few of us really knew what that generation went through. Our present lifestyle and happiness is attributed to their efforts and sacrifices.
Retyped by His very Proud Son,
Alexander Hugh Williams
File at Canberra War Memorial Number PR 91/113
May 8th 1915. We rose at 5 am. It was rather cold but warmed up by 7 am., when we had breakfast. The remainder of the morning was spent in putting the final touches to the Brigade. 11.30am We fell in and moved off the station. Broadmeadows gave us a good send off by giving us a real good dust storm. It knew we would not get dust for many days to come, so sent us this present. 12.30 pm We moved off from the station and, after many good wishes en route, arrived at Port Melbourne Station at 3.15 pm. From here we marched to the pier, boarded the transport "ULYSSES" and moved off at 6.15 pm to say "Good bye" to dear old Melbourne. At the end of the Pier was somebody with a bike lamp which he signalled "Au Revoir" We turned in.
May 9th 1915 We rose at 7am. Unlucky me fell for the job of Mess Orderly. 10.00 am. We passed through the RIP and at 10.30am Church Service was held. For the rest of the day I was hanging over the side. Reg is also very ill.
May 10th 1915 Still very sick.
May 11th 1915 Still ill. Neither of us have been down below or had a bite to eat since Sunday.
May 12th 1915. Feeling a little, but not much better.
May 14th 1915. Had a very rough night last night so do not feel the brightest of bright today. I am quite convinced sleeping below does not agree with me. 11.00am Sighted the "EURIPIDES" for the first time since Melbourne.
May 15th 1915. Reveille 5.30 am. Washing day today. Felt well, but not to energetic, so gave our washing to the laundry. 10.30am. We had the painful necessity of falling in to bury one of our lads of our Battalion. He died of pneumonia. 12.00 noon. Something more cheerful, dinner. We spent the afternoon in sweet repose", but at 4.30pm were awakened for boat drill. This is done as a precautionary measure in case of a collision or fire. It is gradually warming up.
May 16th 1915. 6.00am Turned out for "physical jerks" and at 10.30am held church parade, but as the wind was blowing in the opposite direction we did not hear a word of it, bar a few hymns. Have not sighted a boat since we left Melbourne. Had Plum pudding for dinner.
May 17th 1915. Woke up felling rather tired. The weather is getting much hotter as we are now in the tropics. The day turned out very hot indeed. Up till now we have been lucky in getting a pretty calm sea. 7.30 pm. After supper we turned in on the boat deck as it is far to hot to sleep below.
May 18th 1915. 4.45am We were hunted out so as to enable the crew to scrub the decks , so we went down and had a salt water shower. It was terribly hot again. During the day we watched a tropical shower coming up and heading straight for us. There were dozens of flying fish about to day. In the evening we had a very nice little concert on the boat deck.
May 19th 1915. We rose in a terrible hurry this morning at 4.30am to find water running all around us. We had not heard them call the others to get out of the way. 7.45am Had another burial at sea. It was not too nice on top of breakfast. The chap was out of my company and used to sit at the same table as Ted. The sea, yesterday and today has been dead calm. You cannot imagine how calm it was. There were heaps of flying fish about today again. The sunset tonight was a beauty.
May 20th 1915 We witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen. Everything seems so different now, the sea seems a different colour and the sky is a beautiful sort of hazy blue. It is also terribly hot as we are now nearing the equator.
May 21st 1915 We woke up nearly roasted. It has been terrible all night and during the day it got even warmer. We still have the usual parades during the day. Our first mail closed today at 9 am.
May 22nd 1915 We rose to another very hot day and washing day. This time I did my own but came to grief as I did not hang them out securely enough and they are now at the bottom of the sea. We had sports in the afternoon. Reg and I suddenly became energetic and went in for the potato race and sack race. I was going well when some charitable person kicked me in the knee and there I ended. We both came to grief in the sack race. Whilst these sports were in progress the 22nd Battalion held the usual ceremony when crossing the equator which we cross this afternoon. One chap dressed up as Father Neptune and came up over the side while all the others ( Officers and all ) were severely ducked and shaved with paste and a piece of hoop iron. During the afternoon we saw some fair sized fish which we afterwards found out were Peritis, hopping in and out of the water for a distance of some feet. But Lo at 4.00pm our ceremonies and rejoicing had to cease as we had another pal to bury overboard. I retired early with a very bad throat.
May 23rd 1915. Up again early into another scorching day. Went to the Doctor for some thing for my throat. Church Service was held at 10.30 am. We expect to reach Colombo about Tuesday 2pm. Had a medical inspection.
May 24th 1915. Empire Day. The same scenery, water continues. Parades continue as usual. At 10.00am ( That's about 12.45 pm in Melbourne ) the ships whistle blew. This was the signal at which the whole boat stood to attention and sang the National Anthem. Then at a bugle call three cheers were called for the King. The remainder of the day we rolled on very uneventfully.
May 25th 1915. We rose at 4.30am
and to our surprise could see two lighthouses. By 5.00am we could see land quite
distinctly and by the time we had finished physical jerks at 6.00am we could see the City
of Colombo quite plainly. 7.00am We anchored in the Harbour and at 7.45am the
"Euripides" did the same as us. The harbour is a beautiful one. It is egg shaped
and artificially built, being surrounded by concrete sea walls on which the sea breaks in
huge volumes of spray and foam making a very beautiful sight. In side the harbour it is as
calm as a mill pond. Being no wharf frontages the ships do not go into land but anchor out
in the harbour from where all cargo etc. is brought to and taken away in barges which are
either propelled by tugs or manual labour of the natives. We had not anchored more than
ten minutes when the natives had the coal barges beside us and were at work. Here the fun
began. The natives are very sparsely clad, just wearing a cloth round their waste. They
seem absolutely untiring and their language puts one very much in mind of the yabbering of
the monkeys at the zoo. EVERYTHING is done by manual labour and it is wonderful to see
them propelling barges, laden with tons of coal and merchandise by the aid of an oar. They
practically invaded the ship wanting to sell things and dive off the side for money. I
will try and give you a brief description of the town as we see it from our boat.
You are standing facing the place looking around from the right to left. On the extreme right is the break water where it meets the land. By the way, it is wide enough to allow a horse and cart to be driven along it. Next comes the light house, square in shape, and with a clock under the light, then some beautiful three and four story buildings. In front of these, and nearly at the waters edge is another big beauty. In front of this again is the Jetty built of concrete pillars and two stories high. It is here that the passengers are landed from the rowing boats and motor boats which convey them from the liners. Next to this are some very long buildings like the railway buildings. These are used for the storage of cargo. This type of building extends for nearly half the remainder of the Harbour. Then there are beautiful private residences which rise in a gentle slope one behind the other. To the left of these are cloisters of mushroom shaped trees which are literally covered by beautiful scarlet and yellow flowers similar in shape to the large Oleander. Then comes a young forest of palms which rise about 20 or 30 feet high and then spread their leaves. Immediately beside these is a beautiful conglomeration of tropical vegetation showing all shades of green imaginable. This is intermingled with the red roofs of houses. Now comes the other arm of the sea wall and the last land to be seen is beautiful lawn surrounded by rocks over which the sea is breaking in spray.
At the rear of the whole scene the misty peak of a mountain rises up giving a beautiful finishing touch to the whole picture. 12.00pm We were put into barges and landed at the jetty where we were taken for a march around town. Whilst going around we could see the buildings of different architecture all intermingled with one another. In one place was a beautiful terra cotta coloured place. The there would be an American design along side one of old English and both boarded by something distinctly Oriental. The one thing most noticeable was, not one building had it's entrance on the foot path, but all were, more or less, like the GPO Melbourne. Right in the centre of town are gardens gorgeous with their tropical plants and colours. The natives all dress alike, namely, with an affair like a long night shirt with a coat or shawl and no boots or hats. They wore the most gorgeous colours or a spotless white and most of them carry umbrellas as a protection from the sun.
They are mostly of an intelligent and refined appearance. The mode of conveyance is the Rickshaw ( If this is spelt rightly ). These are drawn by natives and are exceedingly comfortable.
Next we came to the railway which is electric and of very narrow gauge. From here we went through some of the lower parts which are not so aristocratic as the first.
The buildings here are of one story, low rather dirty, small and built very close together. One place that tickled me rather considerably, was a group of shops ( that is if they may be so called ) which were 7 feet high, broad and deep, and once upon a time coloured a pale blue. The vendor sits in the middle of the floor with his articles of sale strewn round him. The people are much more dowdy in their dress and the smell is none too pleasing. Altogether the whole place has a wonderful appearance to the stranger. 3.00pm. We arrived back at the ship. About 6.00pm a lot took an unofficial visit to the shore. I went and had a beautiful drive all around the country surrounding and some of the big plantations. When we got back the heads were taking names for breaking ship so I had to get through a port hole.
May 26th 1915. We rose in a fine atmosphere of coal dust as we had been coaling all night. Shortly after we got up it started to rain and my word did it rain. A thunderstorms nothing to it. The day spent watching the natives .9.30pm Amidst another terrific storm we moved out and saw the last of Colombo, namely a few lights.
May 27th 1915. Once again we woke to find fine , but hot weather. About 9.00am we sighted some very high hills on the horizon but these soon ids appeared. During the after noon we saw something that had the appearance of muddy water in the sea and had the appearance of some ship having left a trail of mud. To my surprise this turned out to be a fish pawn. We had another burial today.
May 28th 1915. As our last vaccination did not take, Reg, Harold and I were re-done today. In the evening there were pretty bad disturbance on board and during which the lads threatened to throw the CO overboard. In the end they did succeed in getting rid of the detention cells and canteen.
May 29th 1915. Washing day. We had a lecture on Map reading this morning , and in the afternoon sports. At night we had a grand concert.
May 30th 1915. It was very hot today. We had another very enjoyable concert on the boat deck tonight.
May 31st 1915. Much better than yesterday, but nothing at all exciting.
June 1st 1915. Still hot and still no excitement, only the sea was fairly rough ( Not so bad as at first ). All the same it made Reg and I feed the fishes for a while.
June 2nd 1915. We should have passed Aden today, but were disappointed. Felt much better today.
June 3rd 1915. Today was the King's Birthday. We celebrated it by not having any physical jerks. At 3.00pm the ships whistle blew when every one stood to attention and sang the National Anthem, gave three cheers for the King. We were then dismissed for the day. In the evening we had a beautiful concert on deck, mainly given by the Officers. By the way we have nothing to complain about our officers. They are all good sports. Our Battalion song was sung for the first time tonight.
Today was rather an eventful day altogether as we passed into the Red Sea. When we rose at 4.30am we were just passing Aden. We did not lose sight of land all day. On the Arabian side the mountains are fearfully rugged. So much in fact that if I was to give you a sketch you would not believe me. On the other side is Africa. These mountains are as different as day and night. The big tablelands and plateaux stood out very well and the mountains had smooth and gracefully rounded tops and slopes. The sunset was glorious. The sun sank down behind a big mountain which was as black as ink, and the blood red, as also was the sea. We passed through the Straight with a peculiar name, meaning the "Gate of Tears". I should very much like to re name it the "Gate of perspiration or Hell" because it is hot enough for any thing.
June 4th 1915. We had lost sight of land but not ships , as they are passing us about every hour, some times two or three at a time. It is absolutely cruel now, the heat I mean, the perspiration simply pours off one. You put on a clean singlets in the morning and in about an hour's time it is wet through. This brings on prickly heat, which I as usual have rather badly. We had a few boxing bouts in the evening.
June 5th 1915. Still as hot as ever. I have decided to book my passage to "UP ABOVE" and not "DOWN BELOW". The sun is now directly over head and at mid day your shadow is about your feet. Had sport again today. Reg and I entered for the Siamese race and pillow fighting on the spar. We came to grief in the race as we got out of step. I got into the second round and Reg into the third of the pillow fight. In the evening we had a variety entertainment on the boat deck. There were some really good artists and all of whom were boys of our two Battalions.
June 6th 1915. Sunday once again and as hot as ever. We saw land again tonight and are nearing the Port of Suez.
June 7 th 1915. We arose to find land on both sides this morning, and as the day progressed it closed gradually in thus making the sea narrower. About 2.30pm we arrived at Port Tewfick, the Port of Suez. It is a very pretty place from the sea, and there were a great number of boats in port. Where the boats go in seems to be an artificial island, not very large, connected to the town by an artificial road. This island, Port Tewfick is very pretty. We did not get off here.
June 8th 1915. 6.30am We once more started on our way. This time up the Canal itself. We were in this all day. It is simply wonderful. In places we had to pull right into the shore to let another steamer pass. Practically the whole time we could throw a stone or any thing on to the shore on either side. But scenery, it was pretty at first, but I might tell you, you soon got tired of it. It was sand every where, and plenty of it. We were pointed out the places where the Turks made their attacks. We were in the Canal for nearly fourteen hours. 8.30pm We arrived in Port Said, which is very pretty by night. We anchored quite close to land, and this now makes our second night in Port.
June 9th 1915. We left at 1.30 am this morning, not knowing our destination. We soon lost sight of the lights and when we woke again we were right out of sight of land. 2.30 pm . We arrived at Alexandra in Egypt and anchored out in the Harbour. It is a very big shipping centre and a very large and pretty City. 4.30pm We pulled into the Quay and orders were issued that only Officers and Sergeants would be allowed ashore. This made the troops wild so at 7pm they swarmed down the ropes and gangways and went into town. Going in we had to pass through the native quarters. You cannot imagine how cramped the buildings are and the fearful smells. In the European quarters the buildings are beautiful. We arrived back at 10.30pm and turned in.
June 10th 1915. Reveille 4 am. We got everything packed up before breakfast at 5.15am. 7am We disembarked and entrained for CAIRO eventually arriving at Zietoun after about 6 1/2 hours train journey. Next came a good march to Heliopolis our new home, which is quite near the town. This is something glorious. In fact you cannot imagine the buildings and I cannot describe them.
However, I am trying to get some good views to send home. It does not seem so far from home as we have the "Broadmeadows Cafe" and "Luna Park". We went into town at night and had dinner of roast beef and vegetables. It was lovely and seemed a little better than the issued tea which was hard biscuits and bully. However, we shall be back on proper rations tomorrow.
Instead of living in tents we are in big huts built for the purpose with beautiful lawns ( of sand and plenty of it ) stretching as far as the eye can see on all sides.
June 11th 1915. 5am We rose at Reveille. There was sand in every direction. It did not look at all inviting. However it did not feel so bad after an hour or so's drill. In the evening I went into the City, Heliopolis (meaning, Helios,--sun, Polis--city, "CITY OF THE SUN") It is an exceptionally pretty place. All the buildings have the Eastern touch and are either white or yellow. You will gather more from the postcards and photos I am sending you. The people seem to go in for eating more than we do as everything is restaurants, all of which have their chairs and tables on the footpath and moving pictures while you eat.
June 12th 1915. Don arrived today. We again went into town tonight.
June 13th 1915. 6am We attended Church Parade out in the desert. The remainder of the day we spent in Heliopolis. In the afternoon we went through one of the Australian Hospitals for the wounded. They enjoy all the comforts possible.
June 14th. 1915. Nothing at all today It was terribly hot.
June 15th 1915. Still very hot. By the way it does not look like rain. I am afraid we shall not see any here as it only rains once in a while, and when it does it is registered in, not in points but in inches.
June 16th 1915. It was a little cooler today. In the evening we went into town.
June 17th 1915. It was much hotter by far, today. the thermometer registered 127 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. They had to postpone the parade in the afternoon till 5.30pm. By the way we do not drill between the hours of 9am and 5pm. Our hours are, Reveille at 4.30am-- Morning Tea at5.10am--Parade at 6am to 9am-- Breakfast at 9.15am--Lecture at 10am to 12 pm. Dinner 1pm-- Parade 5pm to 7 pm and tea at the fashionable hour of 8pm. Our first mail arrived today. The only letter I got was from Add dated May 9th.
June 18th 1915. It was the out going mail today. It kept me rather busy writing to all my Australian friends.
June 19th 1915. In the morning we marched down to Zietoun camp to the Signal School ( about 1 1/4 miles ) from here. This, by the way, came before breakfast. The afternoon was rather eventful. We paid a visit to the Pyramids. I will give you the details of the afternoon and evening. We started out at 3.30pm and caught the tram with a guide who charged 10 piastres each. Going out the avenues and roads you pass are very beautiful. En route there are some very beautiful and some very dilapidated buildings, also in the distance the Citadel, various Mosques, The pyramids, and a large hill behind the Citadel. This figures in the next part of the description. We had to cross the Nile on our way out, by a very large bridge. From here we came into parts where the natives cultivate their fields and crops. All is grown by irrigation. For any one who is interested in irrigation this is an excellent example of what it will do in the heart of the desert. They were the first civilised race in the world, but they have the oldest methods of raising water from the Nile: Doing so with a string of buckets on a wheel geared to another wheel on top turned by a bullock. Thus each bucket comes to the top it falls over and is emptied into the chute and then carried into the various channels. Other have a much simpler method of doing so. They arrange an upright stake in the ground. On top of this they fix another to work like a scale or sea-saw and on the water end of this is a kerosene tin tied on to the rope? On the other end is fixed a very heavy stone or rock, the weight of which pulls the tin out of the water. The natives then simply empty the tin into the channel and lower it again into the water. After a 40 minutes ride, we have landed a short distance from the Pyramids. From the road they present a magnificent spectacle. There are three main ones and six smaller ones. The first and largest is that of CHEOPS, it weighs 7,000,000 tons. It was built in the time of Herodotus and took 100.000 men 20 years to build. It is an immense structure of the following dimensions:- 450 Ft high and it's base covers over 3,600 sq. Ft..
It was built some where about 3753 B.C. The top does not exactly come to a peak but is flat. I suppose about 12-13 ft square and on which is a flagpole. The Australians are supposed to be the first to get to the top and plant a flag there. This Pyramid was built of stone carried ( by what means I know not ) from the hill I spoke of behind the Citadel, far beyond the river. The blocks of stone are an immense size. At one time, some500 years or more ago, the whole of the outer dressed stone were taken from the two largest Pyramids. back again to a place near the hill ( already spoken of ) and built into the Sultan Hassen Mosque, the Citadel, and Mosque of the Citadel.
This stone was marble and alabaster of the best quality. The entrance of the Pyramid of Cheops was discovered some 10 years ago. It is a terrible stiff climb up to this one and the view of Cairo in the distance is glorious. Next we walked round to the tomb of Francis. I might tell you before we got very far we were all puffing on account of the sand. The tomb is cut into an absolutely solid rock. A series of figures, meaning of which I forget, are cut out all round the walls. After walking a bit further, we came to the tomb of Zigazah. This also is cut out of a big piece of rock and the walls carved representing the following order:- The King and Queen of their day, a Cow, Fighting mule, a man carrying trees on his head, the men who built the Pyramids, and the daughters of the King and Queen.
By the way, they are not at all handsome. One poor thing has lost her head, and the other, well someone has got a mallet to work, and instead of chipping off the paint, as you could some of our modern girls, he has chipped off a piece of her cheek and her nose. Next is a statue let into the wall. It is representing the Mother of Francis. She also is in a very dilapidated condition and would be much better for a piece of putty for a nose and an ear and corsets. Right beside this is the name of CHEOPS written in Egyptian hieroglyphics ( is that spelt right ). We came out of there and went down to the foot of the hills. Here was the most weird and most smelly sight. It was the dwellings of the poorest of poor. They live in caves cut out of the rocks and in mud houses with their goats, fowls etc. All living under the same roof so to speak. The smell was something awful. Footscray was heaven to it.
From this we had a considerable walk around the foot of the hill to the SPHINX, or as the guide pronounced it "Mistress Sphinx" This was an absolutely marvellous sight. It is an immense thing carved from an immense piece of stone. You can gather the size of it from this :- It is 66ft high, from the present level of sand, and they have not yet discovered what is below it. It is the opinion of our guide that their are hands and body to be excavated yet. From ear to ear it measures 14ft. By heavens it must have some brains. Anyhow, it was built by the people of PHAROAH. They thought it was like their God, so built it facing the sun, namely east. The age of her is 6,000 years and she has not gone bald, neither does she paint. She is all genuine. But like all the others, she has suffered because of the jealousy os Napoleon who mounted cannons nearby and instead of offering her his sheets ( his handkerchief would have been to small ) to blow her nose, he, himself, took on the contract and blew her nose completely off by a cannon ball. Cruel, wasn't he? Had my fortune told at her feet for half a piastre. Then the whole seven of us had our photo taken in front of her and on camels.
My heavens when we were getting up, the camel rose stern first, not head as I thought he would, and nearly bumped us off. Getting off we nearly came to grief again. He went down head first and we nearly did the somersault trick over his head. Hang these this camels, they are not trustworthy. This over, we visited the temple of the Sphinx. This is situated in front of her and is built of beautiful granite and in place, pieces of alabaster. The pieces of granite etc are of immense size and date back to 4,066 BC. There are rows of immensely big pillars crossing it in two places. It contains six tombs, three alabaster and three stone. This temple is where they used to come and worship the Sphinx. After spending some more time looking at her beauty, we moved on around behind her. Here is situated Cornell Cambell's tomb. It is very deep and in an aperture in the side of the wall was shaped to the coffin .
It was all of black marble and one solid piece. The Excavators have taken the "MUMMY" out of the coffin.
We left this and after some considerable walk arrived at the entrance of the second or sister Pyramid of Kephron. He was, if you understand anything about the Dynasties of Egyptian Empire of the 4th Dynasty. We explored this Pyramid. At the entrance we had to take off our boots and pay 1/2 piastre for sandals. One enters this by a very low and long passage slanting down at about 30 degrees and made of granite. It was terribly slippery. Two or three times I nearly as Billy did, namely, sit down and shoot the chute. After we had about 100 feet of this, we had to get down a 6 foot ledge and then after a while another 4 feet. Then came the most exciting part of it all. We had to get down on our stomachs as flat as possible so as to enable us to get through the passage which is, in this place, no more than 18 inches high. After much struggling and grovelling in the dust we got through into the chamber. This was very cold. In this hole we had our fortunes told. He told me one or two very true things. But every one else was told the same.
All built of immense pieces of rock. In the centre is the coffin of Kephron. After all this excitement we wended our way back to Cairo and had dinner at 8pm. This cost over 100 piastres for the lot of us. ( a Piastre equals 2.5 pence here ) Lastly we arrived very tied at 10pm.
June 20th 1915. we attended Church again in the desert at 6am. About 11am we started out for Cairo and another eventful day. We were energetic enough to walk to Heliopolis ( a wonder for us ) and then took the electric railway for Cairo. These cars are very elaborately fitted, the walls and ceilings being of inlaid wood. They act as trams in Cairo and Heliopolis and trains between the two places. All the cuttings are lined with concrete so as to stop them from falling in. On our way, we passed Cairo Station, an immense building, and then made tracks for dinner at our favourite place, the "NEW OBELISK", a very fashionable place too. After dinner we wandered around the City and had a look at the Grand Continental and Shepherd's Hotel, two of the biggest in Egypt. After much arguing between ourselves, and a very heated one with a cabby, we started for the Mosques. En route, we saw the Opera House and Fire Brigade, both very fine places.
This was in the fashionable parts of Cairo, but poorer parts were yet to come. What with narrow dirty alleys and little filthy shops, it was something awful. Little Bourke Street is a Paradise to it. The smell was terrible. We have now arrived at the old gate of the "Old City Of Cairo". This is in the form of a big arch about 70 feet thick and surrounded by two big towers. In this arch were two immense iron doors about 100 feet high and 18 inches thick, swinging on big 4 ft pillars. We next came to the Mosque which was joined on to the wall, in fact, it really was part of the wall. The entrance to this is very beautiful, built of black and white marble and large granite blocks. Here we had to pay 1/2 piastre for a pair of slippers to put over our boots.
The first to see was an old Mahomaden tomb in a chamber on it's own. The windows of this room were simply glorious. I never in all my life saw anything to equal them in beauty. The roof was a huge dome. I do not know the height as it was dark up in those regions. We went down from here into the part in which they prayed.
You enter this by beautiful doors all inlaid with Mosaic, ivory and pearl. The chamber itself is something glorious, being decorated with the most glorious colours imaginable. Next we entered another big and dark room which contained two more old tombs. The whole place is lined and floored with white marble slabs. We next went up the minaret or tower as you would call them in Australia, by very dark spiral stairs. when we reached the landing this view stretched before us :- The Pyramids, Citadel, the "OLD CITY OF CAIRO" and a very magnificent view of Cairo of today. Coming out we had again to pass through the Praying Chamber. I forgot to tell you before of the glorious carved marble pillars, which are all pitted with holes with age. Leading into other parts are beautiful carved doors which are about falling away to dust with old age. The windows are of cast brass made into all beautiful designs imaginable. We again got into the carriages and passed through the bazaars. these places are simply the bed of disease and smell fearfully. The houses (If they may be so called ) practically meet overhead from each side of the street. The natives are not at all friendly in these parts and show their dislike by spitting at us. Anyhow, this did not damp our enthusiasm. We next passed up a fairly stiff hill and at last arrived at a part of the road with a Mosque on either side of the road, on the left "EL RAFAI MOSQUE" and on the right that of the "SULTAN HASSEN" and which is very old.
The town end of it is very old and in ruins but is gradually being restored as far as possible. The main part is still in fairly good condition, but very faded with age. The other end wall is pitted with 47 holes made by cannon balls directed on it by Napoleon at the time he so rudely blew off the nose of the Sphinx. In one of these holes a cannon ball remains embedded to this day. From here we passed on to the Citadel, the entrance of which is gained by a very stiff climb up a narrow and steep streets. Practically all the "Once upon a time" houses are in ruins. Finally we reached the Citadel which, as I have already mentioned, is situated at the bottom of a very large hill and quarries from which was taken the material for the building of the Pyramids. These were again brought back and built into the Citadel itself. On this hill is situated the Fort of Napoleon built by him when bombarding the City in days gone by.
Entrance to the Citadel is gained through large bronze gates each about 7 or 8 inches thick and of enormous weight. These lead into a sort of court opening by equally large gates into another and much larger court at the far end of which is the actual building. This presents a beautiful spectacle with it's long row of marble pillars or colonnade and it's moulded iron windows. From here one can see the clock towers. It was 3pm by our time but Egyptian time was 9am as they count their time from when the sun rises. At the entrance one had to pay one piastre (2 1/2 pence ) for a pair of slippers. This entrance leads into the court of the Citadel which is paved with beautiful white slabs of marble and boarded on the four sides with colonnades of white marble pillars all most exquisitely carved. In the centre of the court is the ablution place, a lovely carved fountain covered with a glorious carved canopy.
Besides this is a small basin like structure like a font, which is the covering to the well 320 feet deep and leading down to a part of the Nile. In the opposite corner to the entrance is the clock tower and the clock. This was given to Mahomad Ali, the first Khedive of Egypt by the King of France. The opposite corner of this is surmounted by a minaret 320 ft high and from which the Mullah's call the the people to prayer. This is done five times a day. The marble for this court was brought from Italy and the alabaster from a spot 55 miles distant. In the Eastern wall is the entrance to the Mosque of the Citadel of Mahomad Ali. On the right hand side and just inside this entrance is the tomb of Mahomad Ali Pasha. This is painted gold and most exquisitely carved costing 1400 pounds. In the centre of the Mosque is a chandelier of immense dimensions and containing 2000 lights. It is lit up five times a year . It was presented by Phillip XVI , King of France. The roof consists of one large dome and five half domes, the large one being 320 feet high, each of these are beautifully carved and painted with the richest and most gorgeous shades of black, red, gold, blue and white. The builder of the Citadel had the eyes put out of the designer of the roof of this Mosque so that there would not be another done on these lines.
The priest's chair is beautifully carved and painted to represent the rising sun. In place of our alter is a blind arch in the wall in the direction of Mecca. This is for the blind worshippers, who can find it by running their hands along the walls which are of alabaster. The floor is covered with lovely carpets, the pile of which is marvellous. The Mosque is 150 ft long. From here we passed out to an old Mosque ( still in the Citadel grounds ) over 900 years old. By the way, the Citadel is 1,156 years old. The 900 years old one was built by Saladin the Great. Near this is a tower over the well down which Joseph was placed by his brothers.
Walking round the yard we saw in the distance the ruins of the immense aqueduct which used to convey the water from the Nile to the Citadel nearly 2,000 years ago. On the wall is carved a horse shoe where the Boy jumped off the wall to 100 feet below. His horse was killed but he escaped uninjured. We could also see the dead City, said to have been buried in the Great flood and where Noah's Ark was originally built.
On our way back we passed the Museum, a very large and beautiful building of brown and white stone. All the mules used for different kinds of transport are decked with bell and rattles. We had tea in Cairo and afterwards went over to the gardens. That look very much like the old Fitzroy. The band was playing there. On the whole, the place seems to be nothing but amusements. In the evening we went down to some of the lower parts and my word it did open our eyes. On the way home we passed the Barracks specially designed by Kitchner and lastly arrived home very tired and sleepy.
June 21st 1915. We had a good day today. Spent most of it trench digging in the sand. Just as we would get the sides nicely levelled, down would come another avalanche of sand.
June 22nd 1915. to July 15th 1915. Owing to censorship regulations diary was discontinued.
July 16th 1915. We arrived home safely about 9.30am from our sham fight already described in my letter and had breakfast. We did not have any more drill today. In the evening we had a glorious concert in the YMCA.
July 17th 1915. Have just found out that we can send our diaries home by registered mail. As usual we went on parade at 6am. While we were out we were caught in a fine whirlwind and having our signalling gear with us, they got just simply covered in sand and would not work. At 11am parade I felt rather tired and did not land out till 10 minutes late. then only partially dressed. Well, the mean "dorg" that he is, put me on cleaning all the signal stores, such as lamps, helios, telescopes, etc. that had become clogged during the morning. This took me some time, and as I was anxious to get it done and get out, I did not hear "Cookhouse" blow for dinner. This hurt more than having to forfeit half an hours sleep. Well, after a piece of bread and jam ( we have not got sick of jam yet ) eh? what !!!!X??) Reg and I started off to Cairo where we proceeded to have dinner at one of the most fashionable Cafes. This consisted of eight courses and cost the large amount of 22 piastres ( 4/5d in our money )
After this we felt nice so bought a tin of the best ( Good on the best, eh? ) cigarettes in Cairo. These cost 10 piastres (2/-) for seventeen. Thus feeling content ( As far as our wants were concerned ) we decided to go and look over the Cairo Museum of Antiques. We started out in a tram and after going for about half an hour, we were informed that we were on the wrong track. Then we had to go back from where we started. At last we found the right tram and proceeded forth, this time to find to our horror we had at the end a ten minute walk, (we don't like walking as we get enough of it at the camp). Well the Museum is a beautiful building, a photo of which you will have received with this diary.
The charge for admission foe solders was a 1/2 piastre. We paid this and entered in to one of the most marvellous sights I have ever seen. the entrance hall is surrounded by enormous dome. In the passage are statues dating back thousands of years. Also the coffins ( stone and
wood ) of Kings and Queens long dead. Some of these statues are perfectly intact and others have either an arm, leg or even a head missing. They are all beautifully carved and finished off and stand from 15 to 20 feet in height. Also in this hall, are the stone coffins of the Kings and Queens. They are of beautifully carved and polished granite, weighing anything from 7 to 10 tons, according to size. The wooden ones are beautifully put together. The joins are a great side better than the present day work. On all the coffins are carved the two "Sacred Eyes" a religious symbol much respected by the natives even to this day. Completely filling up the end of this room is a statue of the king and Queen of Memphis. This is one solid piece of rock. I have taken a photo of this with Reg standing in front of it so it will give you a faint idea of the size. Memphis was the ancient capital of Egypt. It is situated further up the Nile. It is now in utter ruins. There is a passage in the Bible stating that there will not be one whole stone left standing, and my word there is not either. Next we come along the room of ancient masonry picked up in the ruins such as pillars of the temples, ancient friezes, the cupolas of ancient temples, pieces of broken statuary and some very valuable hieroglyphics. These are all of magnificent workmanship, equal to and better than the present day. We now proceed upstairs. The first room up here contains the Mummy Cases. These cases are made of bamboo covered with cloth and enamelled and decorated over with brass strapping ( some times gold or silver, and some times only painted. ) The faces of these are painted magnificently in oil on a sort of leather preparation.
These cases are exceptionally gaudy, and were to contain the Mummy proper.. The manner, I will explain when we reach the Mummy room. Next to the room of the ancient weapons. These are very interesting but hard to explain, so I shall not attempt to do so. Although such a conglomeration I have not seen before. Passing from this room, we enter the jewel room. Well, such a collection of wealth ; I do not know where there is anything to equal it. The jewels are made of gold into articles of as fine a texture as a spider's web, and by far excel our present day workmanship. The tierras and bracelets and charm are made like this, and inlaid with the most exquisite designs of enamel work. I have seen some beautiful jewellery but none of it is a patch on this.. It is thousands of years old too. From here we pass into a room full of stone jars of all sizes and shapes imaginable. These contain the cremated insides of the dead. We now pass into the most interesting of all, the Mummy Room. In here are all the Mummies in a glass cases. The best one of these is that of Rameses11. He is supposed to be identical with the Pharoahs" in the time of Christ. I tried to get his photo but the room was to dark.
If only he had breathed, you could not tell the difference from the present living native ( of the higher classes of course. ) I will now explain how they are prepared ( The Mummies I mean ) Well when they died, the first thing to do was to take out the inside of the corpse. These were cremated and put in the jars already spoken of. Then the body is embalmed and swathed in bandages like the medical gauze of the present day. Before this is done the wound in the body is covered with a gold plate
The bandaging is done till a thickness of 1 1/4 " is obtained. It is then put into the case as I have already explained
Then again these are contained in the large stone or wooden coffins, These are carved on the lid with the likeness of the person inside and hermetically sealed. These are placed in their tombs, such as the Pyramids and special Mosques built for the purpose. We got very tired by this time so sat down on a beautiful lounge on which we stayed until closing time when we were told to go. Next we had tea. This again was very substantial. In the evening we wandered down the Bazaars. Such a place, I hope to heaven's sake never to be in or see again in my life. The filth is beyond words. I would not dare go down on my own. As it was we did not feel safe then, although we both had walking sticks. This nearly made us sick so decided to return home, arriving there about 10.30pm very tired.
July 18th 1915. At 6am Reveille was blown. we had church parade at 7am.This was over we were free for the day. Today Den and I decided to visit the Sultan Hassan and El Rafai Mosques. These are situated opposite each other on either side of the road. The first we visited was the Sultan Hassan Mosque. This one is some 600 years old. The town end of it is in complete ruins and Kitchener is allowing so much to have it restored because of it's historical nature. Some of the stones for this place were also taken from the Pyramids. The wall at the other end has 42 cannon ball holes in it. One is still embedded in the wall even to this day. We now enter or proceed to do so. We enter by massive front doors, after paying a piastre to sign your name in the visitors book, into a honey comb of lofty and tunnel like passages and finally arrive in the roofless praying chamber. In the middle of this is an immense fountain, now dry, where they used to wash their hands, faces and feet before praying. Then there is the low priests balcony and in the direction of Mecca an alcove in the Eastern wall. Beside this is the high priests chair which is beautifully decorated with ivory and ebony. Then we come to four big doors made of gold, silver, bronze. ivory and ebony. One of these was stolen by Napoleon. Past these doors, the value of which I would not attempt to state, we enter the chamber in which different Royalty is buried, including the Sultan Hassan, also the copy of The Koran. We now leave this and go across the road to El Rafai Mosque which is, by far, the most beautiful and more valuable. This one is of more recent date.
The entrance to this one is a magnificent architecture. The floor is laid with the most beautiful and richest of crimson carpets. The walls and domes are inlaid into the most exquisite designs by the best inlaid marbles of all shades, alabaster, Ivory, ebony, pearl, gold, silver, bronze and torques. This is also beyond explanation. The remainder of the detail of it is like the Mosque of the Citadel already explained. We now leave the Mosque and go right round to the other side of the building and into a massive porch with two doors leading into, ( 1 ) The tomb of Solomon .
( 2 ) The tomb of Solomon's wife and daughters.
We went into the latter first. It is a chamber of 25 by 18 ft and the first tomb is that of Solomon's unmarried daughter. It is a very costly one indeed and like many of the other beautiful ones is of alabaster, ivory etc.
There are two pieces of alabaster about 2'6" by 9" standing upright and on end . At one end ( The Head ) it has two long plaits and a band of gold. This denotes she was un married. Next this, is her sister's tomb along side with her mother's. They are all much the same and cost 12,000 pounds. The carpet in here is magnificent. Placed around these tombs are silver candle sticks standing three feet high. At one end is a carved table holding a very large Bible written in Hebrew and bound in green satin. Now we cross to the other Tomb, that of Solomon. This chamber is glorious and equal to the other one in size, but is surmounted by a dome some 75 feet high. This tomb is 14 or 16 feet long by 10 feet. This is very high and is built on an elevated platform with steps all around it.
On these steps and also the floor are some silver candle sticks 6 feet high and beautifully polished and kept in linen covers. There are some beautiful carvings in alabaster, a beautiful table and stool and the carpet is very thick and dark green in colour . Hanging over the tomb is one of two lamps, the other one was bought and taken away by Pierpont Morgan for 17,000 pounds. So you can imagine it was a bonza. In the walls are marvellous windows made of agate. We had the doors shut so that the light would shine through them into the dark chamber. This tomb cost 45,000 pounds. Then we had the pleasure of parting up for our guide. After a light tea we visited the Cairo gardens where the band was playing. We stopped here until about 9pm and then went home.
July 19th 1915. I was not in an energetic mood today, nothing to report.
July 20th 1915. It was very hot today, about the hottest it has been since we came here, nearly 130 degrees F in the shade.
July 21st 1915. Not at all energetic today. We had an examination for our Signallers Badges today.
July 22nd 1915. The results of yesterdays exam were made known. I did not get through, missed by 9 marks. Rotten luck eh?
July 23rd 1915. I nearly got 10 days CB today. One of the Corporals got nasty so I told him he was no lady ??or gentleman either. So that is what he threatened me with.
July 24th 1915. Today I fell in for cleaning up as I told you in my letter. I did not go any where as I am "Ma feesh Falouse "( Arabic for "Money all finished ") Pay day next week. Spent a quiet day reading your letter dated 15 - 6 - 1915.
July 25th 1915. We did not go any where today. Had a quiet day at home.
July 26th 1915. Nothing interesting today.
July27th 1915. Had a big day with the heliograph.
July 28th 1915. We were issued with our Pith Helmets today , so spent the morning putting on the puggaree and ending up saying DASH??!! Any how I fixed it up all right by 3 o'clock. 4.30pm. We started on another all night march and camped on the roadside at 8pm, at about mid night I had to get up and follow a broken wire along for about a mile and a half to find the break. I was pleased.
July 29th 1915. Had some more field manoeuvres today. Arrived back at camp at 9.30 am. It was mail day again. All the others received five or six letters, I received none. Also it was pay day, nothing more of interest.
July 30th 1915. Today I spent in recapitulation ( Eh, What !?? ) ( Good horse this one, back him both ways ). I bought Capt. Beans book and filled in a little of my own say.
July 31st 1915. Reg and I went into Cairo today. We did not go anywhere particular. We caused great excitement in a draper's shop, greatly surprising the staff by wandering through all the departments containing ladies wearing apparel etc. ( All departments were visited ) Then to the silk counter where we had a terrible job to let them know what we wanted. We wanted some silk for a flag ( We can truly say this ) In the evening we had some great excitement in Cairo, there was a big fire and caused by the soldiers. There were some very funny incidents. One being a piano being hurled out of the third floor window and crashing on the pavement below with a terrible din.
The troops also cut the fire hoses so that they could not extinguish the fire. There were about five buildings ablaze.
August 1st 1915. Nothing today again "Ma Feish Falouse".
August 2nd 1915. Had a very busy day trench digging in the morning and the helois and lamps at night.
August 3rd 1915. Went for a night march and had a good time with the lamps. One of them exploded and caused a bit of excitement.
August 4th 1915. Nothing exciting today.
August 5th 1915. We went out on an all night stunt to the same place as last time. Going out we saw a desert rat. It's body is the same as an ordinary rat with a long tail with a brush on the end of it. It jumps like a kangaroo.
August 6th 1915. Last night had to stay on duty with our Signalling Station owing to the chap who was to relieve me being ill. 5am. Very tired. Went for another stunt out to the hills till 7.15am.
August 7th 1915. I did not go anywhere today, as I am "Ma Feish Falous" again. But we intended visiting the Obelisk which dates back to the time of Moses 1 ( I had better say the first as all the natives say their name is Moses. )
August 8th 1915. Stayed home all day.
August 9th 1915. Nothing important today.
August 10th 1915. Nothing again today.
August 11th 1915. Went for a ten mile route march today.
August 12th to August 26th 1915. During a few of these days a couple of us chaps took unofficial leave and visited some of the places further in land, such as Karnak, Phylae, Thebes all on the lower Nile. The ruins here are just simply gorgeous. You will gather some idea from the cards I am sending. I am unable to write a full diary of these as it would give the show away. I was supposed to be away at a school during this period.
August 27th 1915. We received our embarkation orders to day. At 9am we struck camp and will have to sleep out tonight. I am sending home some photos today.
August 28th 1915. We slept out last night and got wet through with the dew. Once again we were inoculated, this time for Cholera. I think we will be germ proof shortly. In the afternoon general leave was granted, so we strolled into St James cafe for a last Good Bye Dinner before we left. This operation took 2 1/2 hours and cost us 6/6 each. Sleeping out again tonight.
August 29th 1915. An immense mail arrived today. I received 24 letters and numerous newspapers. At 4.30pm we fell in and marched to Zietoun to entrain for Alexandria but did not leave this Station till 9pm. Up till about midnight we had a fine old sing-song and afterwards went to sleep on the floor of the train.
August 30th 1915. At 2.30am this morning we arrived at Alexandria and the boat that was to move us on a little further. During the afternoon the Military Band gave a selection.
August 31st 1915. At 7am this morning we started out once more on the briny or the deep blue sea.
September 1st 1915. At sea. Our boat is called the "Southland" At one time it was known as the "Vaterland" and belonged to the Hamburg American line.
September 2nd 1915. Today is the day that will be impressed on the minds of many of our Battalion. All who survive this war will never forget it as long as they live. At 9am I went below and had a shave and at the same time upset a bottle of Iodine over my razer case, thus making it look as if it was not worth picking out of the gutter. Shortly after I went up on deck and was sitting on a seat with Reg and a couple of others: after a while Reg asked me the time, I looked , it was 9.50am.. Just as I was fastening up my watch the boat gave a lurch, a wiggle, shook violently and then gave a sound of a terrible explosion. On the top of this came a deluge of water and spray. About a minute after this happened the "ABANDON SHIP' Signal was given. This meant every man for himself as we were torpedoed and it looked as if the ship would go under any minute. The boys took it quite calmly as they stopped and lowered all the boats. Every one went down below, got their lifebelt and stood their boat stations as if it was a drill move instead of being in earnest.
We should have been the third boat to leave, but owing to my good luck, I suppose, was filled before I could get down to it. Any how there were four of this party drowned. By about 1 o'clock we had lowered all the boats and they took some lowering too as they were simply painted and stuck on to all the fixed woodwork, a disgrace to the authorities.
During this operation a plank broke and gently tapped me on the head so putting me to sleep for a few seconds. Just as the last boat was lowered, the old ship gave three mighty lurches as if she was settling down or turning over. The decks were at a terrific angle and then began to settle nose first, fancy, we were only 2 1/2 hours off Lemnos.
The sight of all the Torpedo boats coming to our rescue was a sight I shall never forget. There were about five of these and two Hospital ships. After we were hit, all the other transports started off at full speed to get out of the way and just as we got on deck to our boat station another torpedo was fired at us. This missed the stern of our boat by inches. If this had hit us there would not have been anyone to tell the tale. With this the ships gun was fired, but the barrel split and there we were unarmed there and then. During the process of lowering the boats I had the misfortune to lose the silver pen that Add. gave me also to break the ring Rita gave me. When all the work was finished we were ordered to go to the gangway where a boat was waiting for us. On our way we saw two of the crew who had been shot for looting.
We were eventually picked up by the Hospital Ship "Neuralia". She is a beautiful boat and when I boarded her I was just done so collapsed on the deck at the top of the Gangway for about 1/4 hour. All I managed to save was my shirt and trousers; but others were not even so lucky as myself. At 2.45pm the "Neuralia" on which we had a good feed proceeded to Lemnos arriving there at 4pm. We shall have to sleep on the decks tonight.
September 3rd 1915. At 9pm last night one of the "Neuralia's" boats fell from the top deck with a terrible crash. We all thought we were torpedoed again; Our nerves were so upset. At 10am we were checked and transferred on to the S.S. "Transylvannia" a magnificent ship. It is very large ( much larger than any two coming out to Australia.). It was only 14 months old and had not been properly completed when she was turned into a troop ship, capable of carrying 5,000 troops. She has, I believe, been warned by the enemy that they intend to torpedo at their first chance. We were sorry to leave the "NEURALIA" as the food was lovely.
September 4th 1915. Nothing important today. In the harbour along side us are lying 2 of the worlds largest ships, the "AQUITANIA" and "MAURITANIA" ( both Hospital ships ) and each capable of carrying 9,000 and 10,500 troops respectively. Both these ships have been warned by enemy submarines.
September 5th 1915. Today all the gear was bought over from the "Southland" and reissued. A Memorial Service was held in honour of those who lost their lives on the scrap. We lost our Brigadier Colonel Linton who was drowned along with 32 others.
September 6th 1915. Orders to pack up again were issued today. We were issued with three days rations and ammunition. The troop ship "HAVERFORD" which bought over the 23rd Battalion caught fire in the forward hold and burnt until long after midnight. She is quite close to us. Food on board this boat ( The "Transylvannia" ) is rotten. Last night we got 18 sausages 2" long between 23 men.
September 7th 1915. At 11.30 this morning the 7th Brigade arrived in harbour and at 12.30 we were all transferred on to a small boat called the "ABBASIEH". As we were steaming out of the harbour the old "Southland" which was, by this time beached with a hole 23' by 34' in her bottom, sighted us and started to salute us with blasts on her siren. She kept this up until we were out of the heads. During the whole of this trip life belts have to be worn continually.
We had a great sing song. No one would have thought we were to land perhaps never to return again. We were more like a big bay excursion. At 11.30pm we landed safely and proceeded to a bivouac for the night.
September8th 1915. We woke at 3.30 to find we were in a very dangerous position. All were liable to be sniped by the enemy as we were in full view of his front line. We were soon moved on from here and rested till 5.30pm. During this time I saw Billy and Jim Baker and a number of other friends. At 5.30pm we proceeded to the trenches detailed for us to hold. About 9pm the Turks gave us some very heavy fire for some minutes but did no damage.
September 9th 1915. We took over all duties today. I am on the 9 to 12 shift day and night. There was a bit of heavy cannonading which nearly deafened our experienced ears.
September 10th 1915. Again there was a devil of a row with the artillery fire. I was nearly caught today. A shrapnel shell burst in front of me killing one chap and wounding two, I was well dusted.
September 11th 1915. It was very quiet today. The sunset was very beautiful.
September 12th 1915. Once more that plagued artillery kicked up a row today for a couple of hours. Also we actually saw rain and my word it did pour.
September 13th 1915. It was very quiet today.
September 14th 1915. Very quiet again. A little excitement was caused this afternoon by an enemy aeroplane dropping a large bomb near one of our big guns. There was no damage done.
September 15th 1915. We received a mail today. A German Taube Aeroplane which is identified from ours by a representation of an iron cross painted in black on the under part of it's wings, kept hanging around all day. When one of these come round every one has to get under cover in his dug-out. At night we had a big demonstration. Gave Mr. Turk such things as heavy fire, threw jam tins at him etc., all to frighten him. During this operation coloured lights flares, rockets, etc. are sent up Although serious it presented a beautiful sight.
September 16th 1915. Nothing doing today. All very quiet.
September 17th 1915. This afternoon Reg and I went down to the beach. On our way back Abdul (turko) gave us a pretty stiff little bombardment. Shell and pieces of steel were flying all round us as we passed for the lick of our lives up Shrapnel Gully. They did very little damage to our trenches. On top of this we had another lovely sunset.
September 18th 1915. Very quiet again today.
September 19th 1915. Sunday again today. Just after Church Parade I had a very narrow squeak. A piece of shell, which I still have, whizzed passed my ear just scratching it. Half an inch further and I would not be here to tell the tale.
September 20th 1915. Still quiet. We are now having some fine weather.
September 21st 1915. Quiet. Nothing to report.
September 22nd 1915. Still quiet. I was very crook today.
September 23rd 1915. Quiet. We had another glorious sunset.
September 24th 1915. During the day it was quiet but at night we gave the Turks another demonstration. Dummy figures were shown over the top of the trench. At the same time flares were sent up and there was violent artillery fire until 9pm.
September 25th 1915. A German aeroplane flew over today and dropped four bombs on one of our destroyers in the bay.
September 26th 1915. Church at 9am. About the middle of it a German aeroplane flew over. Just shortly after a shrapnel shell burst right in the middle of the Parade but did not hurt any one. I am still feeling off colour.
September 27th 1915. The enemy put 147 shells into one of our guns on Plugg's Plateau. They only succeeded in burying her as she had a go at them again in the afternoon. Around the left front the warships gave a terrific bombardment. It was a beautiful and inspiring sight to see. We still continue to have those lovely sunsets.
September 28th 1915. Today the enemy put 220 shells into a point from which one of our big 6" guns were firing about half an hour before. After they had blown all the parapet away from around the position and destroyed the gun and then stopped. But I am afraid he will be very disappointed when he hears the gun was unharmed, as it had been shifted as soon as the first shot was fired at it. All day we have been able to hear the rumble of the guns at Achi Baba. In the evening Abdul tried to scare us with a lot of rapid fire, but as soon as we answered he stopped short. By the way, an enemy aeroplane dropped a message into our lines today.
September 29th 1915. It was very hot today, about 100 degrees F.
October 1st 1915. A heavy fog settled last night. It made a beautiful sight to see from up on top of the hills where we are situated. We could see right across and down on top of the fog resting on the sea. The tops of the surrounding hills and islands peeped out through the fog. When the sun shone out the sight was gorgeous.
The top of the fog was tinted a pretty pink and where there were any shadows they were a beautiful grey. It all lifted of the valley by 6am and the sea by noon.
October 2nd 1915. Very quiet. I am now quite well again.
October 3rd 1915. The whole of our position was continually peppered with shrapnel today. No damage was done. We had another beautiful sunset.
October 4th 1915. Some gift stores were distributed. They were in the way of biscuits, dates, sardines etc.
October 5th 1915. We saw the actual hill of Achi Baba today. It is not at all an imposing affair. We also had a good view of an enemy territory. One point we noticed where a fort used to be. It was blown right off by one of the Queen Lizzie's big guns.
October 6th 1915. I am pretty crook again today. Had to stop in bed all day. My dug-out mate was today returned to Australia also ill.
October 7th 1915. I was very ill today. My temperature is 102.9. About 8.30pm our warships gave a terrible bombardment on our right and at 9.30pm a terrible storm came up. It blew an absolute hurricane, rained like mad and unroofed my dug-out. I eventually took my doss with our Sergeant, whose dug-out was the only dry one for miles.
October 8th 1915. Still very crook. all quiet once more.
October 9th 1915. Very quiet.
October 10th 1915. We were paid the very large sum or 10/- today. There is another of those storms, that we had last week, coming up.
October 11th 1915. Nothing doing. Very quiet.
October 12th 1915. Am feeling very much better. Things are terribly quiet.
October 13th, 14th, 15th 1915. All very quiet.
October 16th 1915. At 4am this morning we gave Abdul another demonstration, but some how he did not take any notice of us. During the day the artillery on both sides was quiet brisk. I had two very narrow escapes today. An Australian mail arrived.
October 17th 1915. It rained the whole of last night and all day. Just enough to give us the blues. I had them properly.
October 18th 1915. Quiet.
October 19th 1915. Again Abdul gave us a peppering with shrapnel, and had it not been for a sandbag hanging up and breaking the force of the pellets I would have been down. All my shoulder was bruised where it hit me, and I have not been able to move my arm since.
October 20th 1915. We are getting the cold weather now. It was bitterly cold today.
October 21st 1915. Rained all day and all very quiet.
October 22nd 1915. Still cold and raining.
October 23rd 1915. We had a terrible night last night. It rained and blew the whole time and was bitterly cold. It cleared up considerably during the day. It was exceptionally quiet.
October 24th 1915. Sunday, still bitterly cold, in fact it was cruel with a misty rain all day. Had another marvellous sunset.
October 25th 1915. Very cold and quiet.
October 26th 1915. We had some heavy southerly winds, or gales to be correct today. Thank goodness they have made it a bit warmer, Poor old Reg went to Hospital today.
October 27th 1915. About midday Abdul heavily shelled our position. Little or no damage was done. The sunset tonight was most gorgeous.
October 28th 1915. Warm today, but southerly gales are getting on my nerves. Everything else quiet.
October 29th 1915. Warmer and quieter.
October 30th 1915. Turko threw some more shells at us today, but again did no damage.
October 31st 1915. Quiet and cold.
November 1st 1915. Very cold today.
November 2nd 1915. Cup Day in Melbourne. The day here was a lovely Spring day. Abdul put some stick bombs near, in fact, too near to my dug-out. Am sending home a piece of one.
November 3rd 1915. Very quiet and cold again.
November 4th 1915. Received a small mail today. The weather is beginning to warm up now.
November 5th 1915. Last night at 9.05 pm Abdul gave a very fierce demonstration. We had to stand to until about 10pm. Poor me. just my luck, lost all my sleep through him, and had to go on shift from12 to 4am. It was a very quiet day which ended in a gorgeous sunset. Ranging from the horizon from the deepest scarlet to the palest pink, then to orange and green, tinting off to a deep blue sky.
November 6th 1915. All quiet again today.
November 7th 1915. Poor Abdul got excited again today and started shelling near my dug-out. He ripped my water proof to pieces.
November 8th 1915. Quiet again today.
November 9th 1915. There was great excitement in the bay. An enemy submarine was sighted. Immediately the alarm was given all boats were on the move and looking out for it. There were numerous aeroplanes up all day. By the way, we have got so used to them that we take no notice of them.
November 10th 1915. The most weird sunset I have ever seen was tonight, it was like a huge crimson ball behind a grey veil of jet black and grey clouds. The background was a pale pink and there were no other colours at all in the sky.
November 11th 1915. It rained and blew heavens hard all day.
November 12th and 13th 1915. Still raining and very quiet and cold.
November 14th 1915. Mail arrived today. Still raining. Abdul put some shrapnel into us. He killed two just by our office.
November 15th 1915. Abdul gave us more than his usual quantity of shells today. The gales still continue and the view of the sea from my dug-out is just one mass of waves lashed into foam. It is a beautiful sight and I often wonder when it will be my luck to cross it again for home.
November 16th 1915. We had a terrible thunderstorm last night. It rained hard all day.
November 17th 1915. Very quiet. This continual quietness is terrible. It is enough to give any one the blues.
November 18th 1915. Had another storm last night. It was such as I have never in all my life seen before, and hope never to see again. The wind was something terrible, it was quite impossible to stand up in it. I tried it and lost my hat. It did not simply rain, but came down in one gallon drops, or something there about's. In about 6 minutes all the valleys were filled with rushing volumes of water. and the hill sides looked just like immense waterfalls. Everyone was flooded out. I know I was. Today I had to dig everything out from 18" of slush. I was wet to the skin and had to stop so all day. The trenches are terrible and with all this it is bitterly cold and all the piers have been broken. We could see before the storm half a submerged trawler, but today it is no more. Abdul gave us some "hurry up"
November 19th 1915. It is immensely cold and still quiet.
November 20th 1915. We had a Naval bombardment of enemy camps in front of our position, the row was deafening and I believe it did great damage to the enemy.
November21st 1915. It was cruelly cold again. Also mail day. I got quite a few. All are busy on our winter quarters which are in big underground tunnels. I do not quite like the idea at all, but it is the only way to get out of the cold.
November 22nd and 23rd 1915. Both these days very quiet.
November 24th 1915. From today until further orders not a single shot is to be fired on any account.
November 25th 1915. Quiet and cold.
November 26th 1915. Abdul got excited today. I was eating my breakfast when a piece of bomb landed on my plate. At 6pm a fearful storm broke over us again. The privation during these storms are terrible.
November 27th 1915. Quite and cold again.
November 28th 1915. About 11 pm it started to snow and kept up till 3 am when the wind rose thus turning into a blizzard. It continued to snow all day and the cold is intense. I took pretty ill today.
November 29th 1915. It was a heavy frost last night. The bag at my door is like a piece of board.
November 30th 1915. I feel very bad today. We got a terrible bombardment by the turks. Casualties and damage are heavy.
December 1st to 5th 1915. Very quiet and bitterly cold.
December 6th 1915. A German Taube over today and dropped two bombs, one on our Gully and one in the next. She also dropped numbers of steel darts (Poisoned. I have one as a momento.
December 7th 1915. Abdul bombarded us today. No damage done.
December 8th and 9th 1915. Still quiet and cold.
December 10th 1915. Today a battleship, two cruisers, two monitors, three torpedo boats stood out opposite us and gave the extreme right flank a terrible doing with all the largest high explosive shells for about three quarters of an hour. They used about 800 founds. The latest rumour is we are to man the Lonesome Pine trenches. It was here that I had two very narrow squeaks, one from a shell which blew the whole of the earth work from behind me and the other from a bomb which burst in front of me.
December 11th 1915. We are busy packing up for a move tomorrow.
December 12th 1915. We made our shift today to a rest area. There are guns on all the surrounding hills. Just after we left our old position a couple of 8.2" shells landed. Some very important moves are being made lately.
December 13th 1915. We are preparing to evacuate this position.
December 14th 1915. Evacuation preparations are in full swing. No one knows where we are going.
December 15th 1915. Things quiet. The destruction of war materials and ammunition is enormous. Thousands of pounds of material is being destroyed by tearing up the clothing and blankets and smashing all other material.
December 16th 1915. Everything quiet along the front. An immense fire broke out on the beach last night. It lasted from midnight till6pm tonight. The flames were over 100 feet high.
December 17th 1915. We heard today that we were to be here till the last.
December 18th 1915. Received orders to pack up and be prepared to go tonight. All surplus has to be destroyed.
December 19th 1915. We rose at 2am and at 2.45 started for the pier. After passing through the deep saps which were carpeted with torn strips of blankets to deaden the sound arrived at the pier.( likewise covered ) at 3.45am. At 4.45am we boarded a lighter which took us to the H.M.S. "HEROIC" A bonza and very fast boat. Harold and I made friends with the stokers who shouted us a bonza breakfast. At 10.15 we arrived in Mudros Harbour, Lemos, where we were transferred to the H.M.S. "RUSSELL", a very large battle ship carrying all 6 and 12 inch guns. It is a marvellous boat and the sailors could not do enough for us. They supplied us with big tubs of water and plenty to eat. 1.15pm we were put ashore, our packs placed on a transport and taken to our new camp. We had a 3 1/2 mile march. Everyone is mixed up like chocolates in a box. We will have to be sorted and reorganised. The units are to have a rest here. Our party was the last to leave ANZAC on the second last night of the evacuation.
December 20th 1915. We are once again settled down to camp life. In the evening there was a pretty sight in the bay. 35 Hospital ships of ordinary size being lighted by the usual band of green lights and red crosses. Behind these were anchored the "BRITANNIC" and "MAURITINIA" (both Hospital ships) and also lit up.
December 21st 1915. It rained all day.
December 22nd 1915. In the afternoon we went to a native village inhabited by Greeks. It is a very quaint little place. All one could buy was chocolates, figs, tea and oranges. The people are most courteous to us.
December 23rd 1915. This afternoon, the biggest British boat afloat; the "AQUITANIA" (Now a hospital ship ) sailed into the harbour. She presents a glorious sight.
December 24th 1915. We received our billies today. Mine was from a Miss. Doris Dickson, "Gleisher" 68 Tooronga Road. East Malvern and contained all sorts of lovely things. We had a great sing song in the evening.
December 25th 1915. At midnight last night, to oblige our Padre, we all sang a Christmas Carol, which went very well. The day's Menu was :- Bacon for breakfast, stew for dinner and missed tea. Great Menu eh? I got a plum pudding from a Mrs. Kennison, 41 Domain Rd South Yarra. We went for a walk of about 12 miles along the beach
December 26th 1915. It rained all day and was bitterly cold. Church Parade today.
December 27th 1915. We drill again now. Rained as usual.
December 28th 1915. Received a small mail today.
December 29th and 30th 1915. Our advance guards left today.
December 31st 1915. New Years eve. Lights out was postponed till 12.15 am. About 11.55. the boats in the harbour blew their whistles and rang their bells. Our men beat kerosene tins and sent up rockets. For all this it was the worst I have ever spent.
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