January 1st 1916. New Years Day. It rained all day, Had the blues properly so stopped in and played cards.
January 2nd 1916. Church parade was held just after a heavy shower of rain. In the afternoon Harold and I went for a walk across to one or two of the near by villages. These were quaint places built in the valley between two hills. A lot of the houses have only three walls, the fourth being the rocky face of the hill. They are like the old biblical pictures. At one village, Kontos by name, there was an old cemetery. It has it's mass house and bone house dating from 1762. The mass house is very quaint and as rustic as can be. The alter is hung with beautiful lace worked by the women.
The bone house contains the bones of some hundreds or so human beings. They are buried in a grave the same as us and in time dug up and their bones (Wrapped in some article of their apparel ) are put into this house. On each grave is placed a lantern. On the other side is the village garden. There they grow all their vegetables.
On the other side of town is a row of their windmills. These are round stone structures of two storeys. The windmill is a series of sticks (6) all strapped together like a wheel and each is attached to a sail. This connects with a pinion wheel which turns an immense stone on top of another thus crushing the grain. Beside this the village drinking well. The water of which is periodically blessed. All this is surrounded by very fertile fields.
January 3rd 1916. We had an 18 mile route march today. I will try and give you an idea of this little piece of earth. The hills are gradually sloped out of flat plains. Out of these hill rise others very high, steep, rocky and rugged.
In places the plains are under sea level. The main harbour is called Mudros .
On the other side to us (west side) are situated Kastown (Capital), Mudros, and Lemnos villages. These are reached by ferry. In the bay are some 50 or so large ships. Today the sister ship (Britannic) arrived. There are many very rich fields about the island. Ploughing is done by a single furrow if it can be so called.
Sowing is done in the following manner. The men do the ploughing. then come the women with their aprons filled with seed and scatter it broadcast by hand. Weaving is done by the women folk. They are very interesting to watch. The old "Southland" is again in Harbour and is leaking badly. At 6.30pm we received orders to pack, destination unknown.
January 4th 1916. We had a 6 mile march to the boat today, arriving at the pier at noon and were taken out by the tug H.M.S. "WATERWITCH" to a big Australian transport, "The ASCANIUS" of the same line as the "ULYSSES". The "CALADONIA" and the "HORARATA" are lying on either side of us. The "ASCANIUS" it a beautiful boat just the same as the "ULYSSES" (One Class) Our mess is in the saloon, some dog eh? About 9pm we dragged anchor and nearly smashed into a big battle ship. A little while after the "HORARATA" smashed into our stern and broke a couple of lifeboats to atoms.
January 5th 1916. It was very rough today. The boat rolled at every angle. Lifebelts had to be continually worn in case of another submarine, as we are going across without escort. We have taken on a job in the kitchen helping to wash up the silverware. For this we get the same food as the Officers. We still know a thing or two eh?
January 6th 1916. At sea and very rough.
January 7th 1916. My birthday. I was ill all day. At 10am we arrived at Alexandria. 7.15pm we disembarked and boarded the train for TEL_EL_KEBIR. It is raining heavily
January 8th 1916. At 4am we arrived at TEL_EL_KEBIR and it is still raining. All our reinforcements were here to meet us. This is the scene of the great battle of 1882. The trenches are still in a state of existence about a mile from here.
A canal runs along in front of our camp. All our side is barren desert, no habitation whatever. Our mail which has been accumulating arrived today. I received 55 letters, 20 odd papers and your three parcels. They were just simply great.
January 9th 1916. We had a rest today. Church Parade at 10am
January 10th 1916. The signallers got orders to pack up again to proceed to the Zietoun school of instruction at Heliopolis. It was just like going home again.
January 11th 1916. We were today initiated into the rules of the school
January 12th 1916. Half holiday today. We went into Cairo and had a fly round all day in the Taxi.
January 13th 1916. Received a big pay of 7 pounds.
January 14th 1916. There is nothing doing today.
January 15th 1916. We spent today in Cairo looking round all the old spots.
January 16th 1916. Sunday. We spent the day in Cairo.
January 17th,18th,19th,20th,21st 1916. Nothing to report, only we were completely equipped with new clothes. Feel quite a clean boy now.
January 22nd 1916. This afternoon at 4.30pm we started out to climb the big Pyramid of Cheops. After a lot of struggling we reached the top at 5.05 pm. I have taken some photos but do not know how they will turn out. From here we saw the sunset, it was a glorious sight.
January 23rd 1916. I went to Cairo today, and during the afternoon met a friend, (An Officer) so dined at Shepherd's Hotel at night. Privates are not allowed here at all so did feel someone important. This the leading Hotel in Egypt.
January 24th. 1916. It rained heavily today. My word it does seem funny to see rain here.
January 25th 1916. Exams started today. In today's subjects were:-
Morse and Semaphore, signalling with flags. I got 98 and 100 respectively.
January 26th 1916. Half holiday today. In the evening we went to the Kursaal, a Music Hall like the Tivoli in Melbourne. They have two shows nightly, 6pm to 8.30pm and 9pm to 12pm. It is a very pretty hall. In the middle of the roof is a very fine chandelier lit up by an electric light. During the performance you are allowed to smoke (Ladies included). Dotted along each row of seats are round topped white marble tables and waiters are in attendance. During the different acts, one can get a drink of anything from a glass of water to the most costly Champagne. I can just imagine the cry that would go around Melbourne if such a thing was done in the Theatre Royal for instance.
January 27th 1916. Continuation of the exams. Subject was the Vibrator on which I scored 97 points. In the evening we went into Heliopolis for a stroll.
January 28th 1916. The finish of our exams today. Subjects :- Lamp reading and theory in which I scored 97 and 86 respectively. In the afternoon, which we had off, owing to the school ending, we were paid. Afterwards we strolled into Cairo, had dinner and went to the pictures. Here also one is allowed to smoke and get a drink when desired.
January 29th 1916. At Reveille this morning, we packed up ready to return to our units at TEL-EL-KABIR. We left the school at 10am and at 10.30am caught the train at Helmieh, arriving at TEL-EL-KEBIR at 1.30pm where we were greatly astonished to find that our Battalion had left for the Canal, so we had to doss with the details.
In the afternoon I went across to see Les Hall who was very pleased to see me. Later on I saw Bazil Benaim.
January 30th 1916. We went to church and afterwards strolled across the desert to the scene of the battle of TEL-EL-KEBIR in 1884. Here one can still see the old trenches which are, of course, nothing so elaborate as present day warfare. I took a couple of snaps of them.
January 31st 1916. Did a lot of clerking work for the C.O. Details. There was a big Military funeral of a Capt. of one of the other Brigades. I believe he shot himself whilst cleaning his revolver. In the evening we visited the camp picture shows. It was very good indeed.
February 1st 1916. It is marvellous to see the immense amount of guns and material going in great train loads to the Suez. It is one constant stream of long heavy laden trains containing mixtures of troops and material. In the evening I walked across to the field artillery and saw Stan, Scrivenor and Alex Lilly, They were surprised to see me. Whilst speaking to them a big fire broke out in Ordinance. A stack of chaff and straw caught alight and made great old blaze.
February 2nd 1916. At Reveille we had orders to pack up once more. At 10am we went on to the parade ground and there were fooled about as per usual till 7.30pm when we marched to the train. During the afternoon who should I run up against but Douglas Soundy. At 11.30pm we arrived at Moasca and from here marched through Ismalia to the Canal, a distance of 4 1/2 miles.
The march through was very nice. It was a bright moonlight night so we could see what the place was like. The avenues are glorious. They are lined with beautiful scented tropical trees which meet and intermingle over head. The whole air is scented with them. The march extended well into the morning.
February 3rd 1916. At 2.30am we arrived at the Canal and had to wait till 4.14am to cross by Pontoon Bridge. On arriving on the other side, we still continued for a couple of miles to the staging camp and at 5am we finally got a rest and were able to go to sleep till well into the morning.
At 2pm all fell in once more and started to march inland. At 6pm we landed for the night. Today's march was 6 1/2 miles along an army made road and with packs up all the time. We are now at the end of the road. Tea was supplied and my mate and I dug a hole in the ground, wrapped ourselves in our blankets and got into it. Here we slept till Reveille next morning.
February 4th 1916. Reveille at 6am. After having breakfast we packed up and started out on the most awful 4 1/2 miles I have ever walked in my life. It was across the desert , the sand being all over the tops of our boots. Hot, well I would not say how hot it was. Eventually at 1pm we arrived at the camp tired and weary.
February 5th 1916. We got some mail to cheer us up. Here there is not a living soul bar those of the Battalion and every direction one looks there is absolutely nothing but sand. It is sand to sleep on, walk on and also to eat.
February 6th 1916. Nothing to report today only in this morning's orders my name came out as Lance Corporal, some dog eh?
February 7th 1916. It was terribly windy all day. One could hardly bear the sand beating against his skin. In front of our camp is an immense sand hill some few hundred feet high. We watched this blowing away in tons. By evening the hill was completely a different shape.
February 8th 1916. It turned very cold and rained nearly all day.
February 9th 1916. An enemy patrol was reported quite close to us. In the afternoon we had sports just to keep up our spirits.
February 10th 1916. An enemy aeroplane passed over us this morning. After parade in the afternoon the companies were matched against each other for a series of games of football. A pretty tiring game in the desert.
February 11th 1916. We heard some shots from one of the battle ships in the canal today. Otherwise nothing to report.
February 12th 1916. The rumour is around again we are going to shift. I hope to heavens it is not true.
February 13th 1916. Sunday. Church parade in the morning and in the evening we had an impromptu song service. Another mail today.
February 14th 1916. A big observation balloon was up over us all the day. In the evening my friend and I went for a stroll in the desert. We can see the lights of Ismalia from here. The desert at night is very weird. Tonight was bright moonlight so we lay down for a while. The breeze going across the sand sounded like waves, it took me back to the good time we had at Sorrento that Christmas.
February 15th 1916. It rained all day.
February 16th 1916. Half holiday. In the afternoon we arranged a sports programme but as usual it rained again.
February 17th 1916. A small enemy patrol was sighted today.
February 18th 1916. Another and larger patrol was sighted today so causing some alarm.
February 19th 1916. It was blowing terrible today and quite enough to blind a man. At 5am we had to stand to arms for 3/4 of an hour. The alarm was only a poor old stray Camel. Another mail arrived today.
February 20th 1916. Sunday. Church Parade as usual. In the afternoon the General Officer Commanding troops inspected our Battalion. Had a very nice song service in the evening.
February 21st 1916. This afternoon Generals Birdwood and Legge inspected our Battalions. It was a surprise visit so did not catch it in too fine a state.
February 22nd 1916. It has been very warm all day, otherwise nothing else doing.
February 23rd 1916. This morning I had to help run out a new cable. By the time it was finished I was terribly tired. The afternoon was the weekly 1/2 day holiday. There was no sports as it was to hot.
February 24th 1916. Nothing to report today.
February 25th 1916. It is warming up considerably now. I am afraid in a few weeks time we shall never be able to exist here. Heliopolis was bad enough but this is cruel.
February 26th 1916. It was very clear today. From the camp on such a day, we can see the canal and Ismalia. This morning I just happened to look in this direction as a boat was passing through. It looked lovely, just as if it was sailing in the air.
February 27th 1916. Sunday once more. Church parade at 9am. In the afternoon we received some mail which was very acceptable.
February 28th 1916. Nothing at all out of the ordinary to report today.
February 29th 1916. My friend and I applied for leave to Cairo today. Poor me I was in charge of the 21st battalion Party. Well at 4pm we marched across to the railroad about 2 1/2 miles from our camp. Here we met the Brigade Officer and proceeded by train to the staging camp which is now about a mile from the Canal. We were put into tents for the night.
March 1st 1916. Reveille was at 4am. We marched to the canal, cross by ferry, where we landed about 5.45pm. The fare was 9 piastres single, 3rd class to Cairo. We arrived in Cairo at 9.30am. From here we proceeded to have breakfast and then wash and clean up. During the day we had a lot of shopping to do. Lunch was at the new Obelisk. At 6.15pm we got a garry and went down to the station, the train left at 7.15pm. All the way to Ismalia I slept soundly. After arriving here safely, we marched the four miles once more to the Canal. Here boarded the ferry and had to wait for some big boats to pass by.
March 2nd 1916. After waiting for half an hour for these boats to pass we at last got across. By the way all the boats going through the Canal carry a very powerful search light at their head. One of the boats that went through was a large mail boat from Australia.
Well , on arriving at the other side we marched to the staging camp and slept for the remainder of the night, and at 8.30am we started off and marched the 11 miles to our camp. This was terrible as there was a terrible storm. At 11am we reached the railhead, where the different Battalions parted company and we started off to cover the 2 1/2 miles between us and camp. The sand was that bad that we could not see more than a couple of hundred yards ahead of us.
About half way across we came across an old gun pit. We sat in here and slept for about half an hour or more. When we woke up we were covered with at least, from 2 to 3 " of sand. So you can imagine the sort of day. At 1.15 we at last arrived back at camp. I was just absolutely dog tired, so we laid down and slept for the rest of the afternoon
March 3rd 1916. After all I am afraid that Cairo leave is no good. Here I am at 1.30am trying to keep awake on my shift, yesterday's wind completely buried the railway, so this morning we are sending out two hundred odd men to dig it out. The wind has not yet gone down. Sand is blowing everywhere. What were cuttings are now embankments with the line buried in places to a depth of 20 feet and what were embankments are now valleys with the line hanging across like a suspended bridge.
March 4th 1916. The terrible wind kept up till about noon when at last it settled. All the sand hills have completely changed shape, size and position. Where our telephone wire used to span a gully, it is now buried under a hill some 200 feet high and where it used to cross the hill by posts, it is now suspended in mid air across a deep gully.
March 5th 1916. Sunday once more. The rumour today is that we are going to France. In the evening we had the usual little sing song service.
March 6th 1916. Seemed like being back at old Gallipoli today. We were out doing our Musketry Course and a little further over, the Artillery were also practising. Sounded just like the old demonstrations. When we arrived home we found a most scandalous thing had happened. Someone was passing the Incinerator where he saw a lot of letters burning. On investigation, we found these to be our last week's "out going" and part of the "incoming mail". There is to be an inquiry into the matter. The latest orders once more are that we move to where I know not.
March 7th 1916. Reveille was at 5.30am. Tents were struck at 6.30am and the Battalion moved off on their march to Ismalia ( 10 miles ) at 8.30am. I had to stay and keep up communications till the last of the guard left. After all the camels were loaded there were a couple left without any load, so we put our packs on them to go right into Ismalia. We then started out to walk in.
The first two miles were over the sand to the place known as Railhead. Just as I arrived here there was a train bound for Ismalia. Needless to say I got in it and rode in arriving there about midday. The Battalion arrived about 3pm and we bivouacked for the night. In the afternoon we had a swim in the Suez Canal.
March 8th 1916. The dew last night was very heavy. When we woke up this morning our blankets and clothes were wringing wet. At 8.30am the whole of the Brigade formed up and moved off on the way to Moascar where the Division was massing. We had to go about a mile before we got to the canal which was crossed by an army pontoon bridge.
On reaching Ferry Post about a mile this side of the Canal we formed up and exchanged our Australian low velocity rifles for British high velocity B.S.A. and started off en route for Moascar. We had to pass through Ismalia. Here the avenues are something glorious.
The big beautiful tropical trees are along each side of the road and meet over head. Along one side is a Canal, on the banks of which is the most glorious Conglomeration of scarlet, yellow and purple. On the other side are beautiful shady parks with lawns. A little further along on this side are the private dwellings ( now nearly all hospitals ) with their glorious many coloured flower gardens. The beautiful purple Bouganvillea in and out and on top of the trees, along the fences and all over the houses. Such a sight I never in all my life saw. In fact it is to glorious to explain. You can have no idea. It is like a scene in one of the pantomimes. I could never imagine there could be such a glorious and magnificent sight.
Next we came to the native parts of Ismalia. Here it is very different. Instead of the fine buildings and flowers there are the tumble down dirty smelling places belonging to the natives
It is altogether a mighty contrast to the other parts. We turned off from here now and crossed the Canal by an army pontoon bridge and find ourselves in the better class native quarters. Although not as good as the first, this is better than the parts we have just left. The houses are more regular, tidier and cleaner.
We continue along this road for about 3/4 of a mile ( we are now four miles from the Suez ) and find ourselves facing the sand once more, but his time it is just literally covered with Tents everywhere you look. We continue for about 1/2 mile over this and finally halted at the spot for our camp. This place is called MOASCAR-ISMALIA. ( Here we met a lot of our old men who had gone away sick and were rejoining the unit )
A Canal runs along the bottom of the camp but we cannot wash, drink or bath in it because of the presence of a small insect which enters into the human skin and gets into the liver and internal organs and greatly multiplies thus in time rotting them away.
March 9th 1916. We were once more inoculated. Strikes me, we shall be germ proof shortly.
March 10th 1916. Nothing to report today.
March 11th 1916. We had to take everything we possess down to be fumigated. Every vestige of clothing was done. They were put into a big iron truck, the doors of which were then closed and the steam turned on from an old railway engine. Nothing could possibly live through it.
March 12th 1916. Sunday, Church Parade as usual. Mail arrived today.
March 13th 1916. Reveille was at 6am as usual. At 7.30 am we fell in with packs up and started to march to Ismalia. It was a great march, some 4 miles there and back. Arriving at camp at 12.45 pm ,we had the afternoon off.
March 14th 1916. I met Alf. Le Roy today. He looks well too. At 6.30pm we marched out into the desert and had a night attack. While it lasted it was very interesting. Arrived back at 10.30pm
March 15th 1916. Nothing doing today.
March 16th 1916. This morning we marched out into the desert and had an attack by day. This time our party acted as the enemy. In the afternoon we all went down to Lake Timsah for a swim. It was A1.
March 17th 1916. At 8.30am this morning we went for another roam in the desert. It was a sham attack on a hill and the railway. Arrived home at about 12.45pm. After lunch we all went down to the lake for a swim.
March 18th 1916. This morning we received orders to pack up once more. The wind was something Terrible. It tore our big tent to pieces. Orders were issued that at 5pm we were to be reviewed by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and General Birdwood. After waiting about all day, we fell in at 4.50pm for the big parade. At 4.45 it started to rain heaven hard. This settled the dust nicely but it cleared up by 5pm.
The four Battalions formed up the three sides of a square and Brigade Head-quarters and Details formed the other half side. At 5pm H.R.H. and the General arrived with a body guard of Indian Lancers, General Birdwood addressed us and presented us to the Prince. Three cheers were given for him. The staff then took post. The whole four bands were massed and started off. The Brigade then marched past in a column of four. We have to sleep out tonight.
March 19th 1916. 1am Reveille. At 1.45am we fell in and moved out to the parade ground. At 2am it started to rain heavens hard again, so we had to go back to the tents. 3.15am. We marched to the Moascar Station ( about a mile ) arriving there about 4am when we entrained in open cattle trucks. 5am we started off.
All this time it had been pouring so we are wet through. 1.15pm we arrived at Quai Abois, Alexandria. Shortly after we arrived, who should I see but poor old Billy. He is looking well again. I had a good yarn to him until about 4pm when we embarked on board ship once more. It was a very nice boat of 14,700 tons and called the "MINNIEWASKA". We have the Artillery on board with us. There are troopships laden with troops everywhere. Poor unlucky me, fell to Mess orderly the first night. We made our beds on the Promenade decks.
March 20th 1916. Reveille at 6am and breakfast at 7.30am. So far meals are just the thing. 9.45am we started to move and at 10.20am we were clean out of sight of Alexandria. It is fairly rough now. So far we have no escort, so feel a bit on the nervous side in regard to torpedoes. I am as bad, if not worse, than the rest. Our destination is not certain, but we were told we would have four days at least on the water. This looks very much like Marseilles. I was very sick all day.
Lights must all be out half an hour before sunset.
March 21st 1916. It is a beautiful calm and fine day. 2pm and we were once more inoculated ( a double dose this time ). During this there was a very funny incident. The Doctor lost his needle just after doing one of our men. As soon as he said he had lost it, the chap took of his coat in a terrible hurry to have a look if it was still in his arm.
March 22nd 1916. My arm is terribly sore today, cannot move it more than a couple of inches. At sunrise we passed two ships and a little while after a troopship. 9am we passed another troopship laden with troops. This one left Alexandria 36 hours before us; so you can imagine how fast we are travelling. 11am There were at least 16 ships in sight. It seemed quiet nice to see someone else. 4.30pm our boat started with a lurch forward and started forward at top speed. The ship os just throbbing with the engines. Afterwards I found out that we were being chased by another submarine. The tail of our boat is practically out of the water with the speed. This lasted until well into the night.
7pm. We can see the lights of the Valetta, the Capital of Malta.
March 23rd. 1916. 6.30am we passed some very large islands. We had boat drill today. This bought back some very sorry memories to a lot of us. 8.30am We passed some more very large islands. Marseilles is to be our destination and at which place we expect to arrive at 7am tomorrow.
About 11am we passed a large hospital ship. It made a very pretty picture. During the afternoon we got news from the wireless room that the sister ship to this one ( "MINNIOPOLIS" ) was torpedoed about half an hour ahead of us. There were no troops on board. It seems that it was meant for us, as we had all the details and Head Quarters on board. Just after sunset it came up very rough.
March 24th 1916. We had a very cold and rough night last night and in the morning's orders we were ready to pack up for disembarkation to day. I braved going below for breakfast, but I did not altogether enjoy it. 12.30pm We sighted some land. This turned out to be the coast of France, thus our first glimpse through the thick fog. Land continued to be the view.
We are now getting close into Marseilles. I was unable, owing to a thick haze, to take any photos so will try to give you a pen picture of our entry into this Port. At 2pm a fairy large island appeared on our right. As we approached this it loomed up like a beautiful Cathedral with the main land for a background.
A little further on is another, it was barely visible on account of the haze. As we approached this one it presents the appearance of the enormous pipes of an organ. Shortly after passing this ( though a valley between two
cliffs ) we catch sight of a couple of houses with red tiled roofs and as we proceed the view between these hills turns to a large hill covered with buildings and surmounted by a lovely Church.
Just here on our opposite side has appeared a tiny island on which is perched a big light house. Will now return to the other side of the boat where we see a small steamer being escorted by two French Torpedo boat Destroyers. To return to the scenery, we have now turned round the corner of this last island. Here a fine sight is laid before us.
The City of Marseilles lays stretched on both sides as far as we can see. On our left is an island on which huge forts and guns are mounted. In front of this is another small island completely covered with a fort. Next come long strings of beautiful white houses with red tiled roofs. Then stretch hills and valleys in front of other higher mountains.
As far as the eye can see to the right and left these valleys are all spanned by huge viaducts.
In some cases the standards of these are an enormous height. Now come pile after pile of houses ( white and green ) up the hill sides and in the centre of which are two signs to greet poor soldiers from the desert, one a blue one with "DEWARS WHISKY" and the other "REGINA HOTEL" 250 beds and 100 hot baths.
From on front of here to a distance of about two thirds along the picture to the right extends a stone wall from out of the sea. This eventually turns out to be a break water. Behind this from left to right you see some very pretty and large white buildings, some right on the waters edge and some perched up in the hills. Then one sees a dense mass or groups of shipping to about two thirds along the wall.
From here to about three quarters the way across the picture extends a glorious grey building some thing like the Flinder's St Railway Building in architecture but very much larger and more beautiful. Surmounting this and perched on the top of a hill is a most beautiful Church ( white ) of world wide fame. The tower of this is adorned on top with a life size guilt statue of the Virgin and her child. This gives such a majestic appearance to the whole place.
Then comes the large coal-humper like one span of a suspension bridge. From here to the right and when we look behind the stern of our boat are the hills and valleys in front of larger mountains which are nearly covered with trees. In every little nook and crevice are crammed large and small buildings.
While we have been looking at this our boat has slowed down. On looking over the side you can see the Pilot just boarding. We start off again and steam straight for the left end of the wall. It is now about 3.30pm We slow down again and turn up between the sea wall and coast.
The first thing to greet our eyes is a camp set out on a fine green grassy paddock. We can also see the electric trams. On the right is the sea wall, and on the left are big stone quays
After passing 5 or 6 of these, we at last stop. We are being greeted on all sides by the inhabitants.
We turn up between this Quay on which, standing on guard, are a couple of Australians, about 6 French soldiers, two Hindus, another whom I have not before seen. At the end of here the hill has been cut away and built back by a brick wall some two hundred feet high. On top of this are perched some quaint houses. To the left of these and in the valley are seven large chimney stacks. At a glimpse these remind one of Northcote. We have now passed in our light belts. It seems nice to be able to walk about in comfort.
As it is getting dark I will close for today. I think we will disembark early tomorrow morning.
March 25th 1916. Reveille was at 6am , but army like we were up at 5am , at 7.30am we left the boat. Our men had to help unload some motors. while we were doing this the remainder of the Battalion were getting into the train, but when we came to entrain they found there was no room for us, so we were left behind. After they had gone we went done to another station. On our way we passed some large docks. One thing we noticed was the women old and young were doing all the work. I don't think we saw one eligible man out of uniform. At noon we went for a walk up the town.
The first street we got into was very narrow and dirty and with two tram lines, leaving practically no room for traffic. From here the streets got even narrower. The class of people here are similar to the Port Melbourne inhabitants, all the working and labouring classes. This very narrow street opened out into a big square lined on all sides with trees and in the centre of which is a large arch with beautiful statues. This is in honour of the Republic. The street gets as narrow again; But here the buildings and class of people are much better.
All the women get about without hats. They wear shawls. All through the City are large numbers of large Restraints. The streets here open out into a large place with three roads, a line of trees dividing the roads. The shops are very classy in these quarters. The streets get narrow once more. In the distance we can see a very tall column which is another of the many monuments of the Republic.
The streets on either side seem to cut up the hill at an angle of nearly 40 degrees. All the buildings have a sort of balcony around each window. This gives the building a very unusual appearance. The streets are all flags and their are soldiers everywhere. In these parts is the City's Fashion Parade. Mourning is well to the front here. We now turn up a side street which runs up a hill at an angle of 35 degrees to the celebrated Church Marseilles "THE BASILIQUE DE NOTRE DAME DE LA GARDE". This is some thousand feet above sea level.
After climbing this street you have to climb some few steps. This Church is usually reached by a large electric lift. Arriving back at the station at 3pm and at 3.30pm entrained. There were eight to a second class compartment. Almost as soon as we started we passed through a series of tunnels and over viaducts. One tunnel took over 20 minutes to go through. The scenery is something beautiful. Our course was mostly along the sea, over the viaducts which were seen when we first landed.
March 26th 1916. We are still going strong. When we woke up we could not see more than few yards out of the train for the heavy fog. When the fog lifted we found we were following the course of the river Rhone. The scenery is lovely with all the quaint villages and orchids. 10.5 am we stopped at Lyons. By what we could see from the train it is a very pretty city built on the banks of the Rhone with fine houses all over the hills, dipping right down to the waters edge.
It is getting much colder now as we are going north. As we pass though the different villages the people are giving us a great reception and throw flowers to us.
March 27th 1916. When we woke up in the morning we found that we had stopped for an hour. During this time seven expresses passed en route for Paris at the rate of over 60 miles an hour and all in a space of 40 minutes. They did go some too. Most of today we followed up the river Seine; the scenery is still very fine. In place of the orchards it is now vineyards. The bush scenery is poplars and birch.
All these trees are just covered with mistletoe and the trunks of the trees are covered with ivy. One cannot give any idea of the scenery. We passed many Chateaus and villages. The whole country is much closer populated. The wild flowers are lovely; they are yellow primroses and red and white daisies.
3,30pm We passed within 12 miles of Paris and saw the electric trains. These do not have the usual overhead wires but a third rail that conveys the current. We could also see the great Eiffel Tower. After passing here we followed for some distance the course of the river Oise. Here nearly all the bridges have been blown up but are now being repaired.
March 28th 1916. 6am. We got out of the trains and marched to where we were billeted for the morning. 10am We started off once more on the eight mile march, passing Aire at 2pm, 2.45pm we arrived at Clominghem but found they had no billets for us so we have to march back a mile to the next village ( Rincq ) here we were billeted for the night in a barn. It was very cold.
March 29th 1916. 7.30am We marched back to Glominghem where we got a further billet. All the houses here have the cross above the door and there are some very fine crucifixes along the road side. Every village has it's own Church. The yard of which is full of graves. There are some very fine Churches too.
March 30th 1916. It is very cold and plenty of water. In fact it is water everywhere. It snowed today but not much settled. We are only 26 miles from the firing line, and can hear the booming of the guns all the time. At night we can see the flashes.
March 31st 1916. I was very crook. Lord Kitchner reviewed the Battalion today.
April 1st 1916. Nothing doing today. I am still feeling crook.
April 2nd 1916. The Battalion had a mimic Gas attack to get them used to using Helmets.
April 3rd. 1916. Nothing doing.
April 4th 1916. We got orders to pack up once more this morning. 1pm we started on a march of 11 1/2 miles and passed some lovely villages en route. 5.30pm we arrived very tired at Haversque where we were billeted for the night.
April 5th 1916. 8am We had a very cold night last night. The barn I was in was pested with rats. We have started off on the remainder of our march. 11am we stopped near Merville for dinner. 3.30pm we landed at Saille-sur-la-lys. Everywhere there were signs of bombardment of the town. One big Church has been gutted by fire. In the distance we can see a ruined Church tower doing a great balancing feat.
April 6th 1916. I am still pretty crook again. It is terribly cold. All last night we could hear a heavy artillery duel. In fact it is going on all day more or less. We are very near the trenches now.
April 7th 1916. 5am. we got orders to pack up once more and at 6.30am we moved off with two days rations marching about 5 miles to the trenches. En route we could see signs of bombardment every where, what with broken windows, holes in the roof and walls, some places are in a fine state. Where we are the snipers are very busy; so have to lie low. On our left is a big village, Bois Grener. In this place there is hardly a whole house and all that is left of the beautiful Church is one wall of the tower. That is absolutely riddled. The remainder is reduced to one mass of ruins.
April 8th 1916. I went through the front line today. Owing to the great amount of water in the ground, the trenches are about 3 feet deep and then built up with breastworks. What little is dug is full of water. Duckboards are placed all along the trenches. In places there are about 6 inches of water. All the houses are in ruin.
We are in a ruined house which is not to bad but we have to keep out of the way of bullets. There has been fairly constant artillery fire all day. We are in "Y" farm near Smiths Villa and past Barrier and Elbow Farms and Tinned and Dead Dog Saps.
April 9th 1916. There were many aeroplanes up today. During the afternoon the enemy shot another piece off that poor tower in Bois Grener. Between 10 and Midnight, there was a violent bombardment.
April 10th 1916. We were constantly shelled all day today. I saw some houses blown up and burnt. 6pm we could hear the bombardment on our left again.
April 11th 1916. It was terribly cold today and has been raining all day. They are still bombarding on our left.
April 12th 1916. It is still raining and cold today. The big guns are going some on our back areas.
April 13th 1916. 2pm we were relieved from the trenches and at 5.15 we started off arriving at Fleur-Baix at about 6pm. Here we shall be billeted as to the line for 4 days. It is bitterly cold today.
April 14th 1916. It is terribly cold and bleak today. About 2pm a large fall of snow. Later I went round town for a walk and did not find one wholly intact house. I think every pane of glass is shattered and some of the houses well, it is a marvel how they stand.
The big Churches are one mass of holes, while the magnificent and costly windows are shattered beyond repair. In the graveyard the tombstones are shattered beyond recognition. The havoc wrought by the shells is awful. It is here that one of the famous British Regiments were wiped out. As they turned the corner of the street ( Main Road ) , they were caught by enemy machine guns.
The place, although in ruins is still to be seen. One thing I noticed in France along the roadside at short intervals are shrines and crucifixes. In 9 cases out of ten these are practically not destroyed although houses in the vicinity are blown sky high.
About 6pm there was another artillery duel very near on our right.
April 15th 1916. All last night the roar of the guns was terrific. There is still a big duel on. It was a bitterly cold night too. One of the billets in our village was shelled and burnt today.
April 16th 1916. There was another slight fall of snow today. In the afternoon they shelled another farm and destroyed it by fire. It did make a blaze.
April 17th 1916. Once more it is cold and raining. I do not think this place is capable of anything better.
April 18th 1916. We all marched to a place called Erquinghem near Armentiers, ( a distance of about 3 miles ) Here they have an immense disused Dye works, the vats of which are filled with hot water in which we were able to have a hot bath. Clean clothes were given to us for our dirty ones. My word I can tell you we thought we were in clover. In the afternoon we got leave into Sailley ( about 4 miles from here ). After having a good wander around and having tea we went to a concert given by the British Division. It was in the form of pictures and a Pierrot Troupe. The artists were Officers and are all professionals. I can tell you we enjoyed it too.
We walked home, during which time it rained heavily. We were wet through.
April 19th 1916. At 7pm we packed up and went out to the trenches, it rained all day. At 10pm we were pulled out of bed to go and get a lot of Officers kits. My word, didn't we go crook.
April 20th 1916 It is very cold and has rained all day.
April 21st 1916. Some very large shells came out our way today, but no damage done.
April 22nd 1916. Still raining and a heavy fog. Things are exceptionally quiet. A little different to last Easter. Eh?
April 23rd 1916. Raining again. Poor old Fritz started shelling today. He set fire to two more billets. The aeroplanes were very active. We were greatly amused by one of ours who would persist in flying at about 200 or 300 feet off the ground. This annoyed Fritz considerably because he was too low to shell, yet too high to hit with the rifles so they had to let him look at what he wanted. In the evenings our guns opened on the enemy and set fire to a couple of his billets.
April 24th 1916. Things were exceedingly brisk today. Shelling was heavy on both sides. In the evening I had to go with a party to draw rations. Just as I was going along the road a snipper picked us up by the light of one of his flares and had a shot at me. The bullets whizzed right in front of me and wounded the man with whom I was walking.
Shortly after there was very brisk rifle fire and the message came through that our patrol had been shot, one being killed. About an hour after this we turned our machine guns on to one of Fritz's and shot the lot of his patrol; this time I think, seriously.
April 25th 1916. It is a most glorious day. Real spring weather. There is a fair bit of artillery fire on both sides. Fritz put another shot into the remains of the Church Tower and knocked down another column, now leaving one pillar standing. A little later he put incendiary shells into a farm. It was a pretty sight to see the flames burst everywhere. Aircraft has been very active all day. 10pm We were relieved from the trenches and arrived back at the billets in FLEUR-BAIX at 11 pm.
April 26th 1916. Today was even better than yesterday. Again the enemy planes are exceedingly active. The condition of things makes one feel like going home at times. All the fruit trees are in full bloom and the flowers are out everywhere. The place is becoming one mass of colour, and the air is full of the song of birds. Some more mail arrived today. Notice was also given that leave will be granted to Anzac men at the rate of six men every four days for eight days leave in England. I am just dying for my turn to come round as London is the place I have always wished to see.
At about 8.30pm there was a most terrific bombardment on our right and left, in front and behind us. The roar was awful. At 10.30pm they were still going strong. We were all watching them and could hear for miles around the gas alarms. At once we all set to and got dressed and put on our gas helmets. The attack, however, was not very strong. At 11.30pm all was normal again.
April 27th 1916. It is a bonza Day. Last night the gas attack did no damage. About 11am there was a big bomb accident. An officer was explaining it when it exploded, killing himself and a private and wounding ten others.
April 28th 1916. I was on duty at 4 to 6 this morning. At 3.30am it was light here so I went for a walk round the house where our headquarters are. The garden is lovely. I have pressed some of the flowers to send to you. In the afternoon we went for a walk.
April 29th 1916. We once more went to Armentiers for a bath. I managed to get a look at the out skirts of the town which is very beautiful, but every available hole was blocked up with sand bags. While we were there Fritz put some very large shells in destroying about four houses.
April 30th 1916. 2.30am. The gas alarm was sent through the phone. We had to sleep with our helmets by our side. The alarm was given to the people on our left by two German deserters. A large mail arrived at 8.30pm. We have packed up and are waiting to go out to Divisional Supports. At 10.30pm we started out on a night march to Jesus Farm ( About 1 mile the other side of Erquinghem ). On the road there the Officer in charge took us along the wrong road, making the march four miles longer than it should have been. We arrived at 1am.
May 1st 1916. We are feeling stiff after last night. The billeting officer did not have room for our section so had to sleep where we could.
May 2nd 1916. I have a terribly bad ear today. Think it is an abscess and I am nearly driven mad with it. At 3pm the Germans sent over some enormous Howitzer Shell and set fire to a large farm nearby. Whilst the fire was at it's fiercest, another shell landed right in the middle and burning timber went everywhere.
May 3rd 1916. My ear is still very bad, and have had to have it fomented all day. Since 12 o'clock today some big Howitzer shells have come over. They seem to be after one of our guns. One shell landed in the middle of the road and made a hole 12 ft deep so you can imagine the damage they do. 10.30pm. These big shells are still coming over, making 80 or more today.
May 4th 1916. 3.30pm. An aeroplane caught fire in mid air and dashed to earth all ablaze.
May 5th 1916. Things were quiet today until about 6pm when a few shells begun to fly over. About 7pm some coloured flares went up and immediately an artillery dual took place. Everywhere was lit up with a flash of the guns and the bursting of shells. The row was terrific. This continued until about 10pm when we had to 'stand to' until 11pm.
May 6th 1916. The result of last night was, at about 9.45pm the Germans stormed our trenches with gas etc. Inflicting heavy casualties on our men and succeeded in penetrating into our lines. However, they were unable to hold it. About 5,000 of our shells and 7,000 of the Germans were used during the scrap. Some more of their heavy shells came near us today.
May 7th 1916. Church Parade as usual. It rained nearly all day.
May 8th 1916. 7.30am. Once more went to baths. The remainder of the day it rained heavily and was very cold.
May 9th 1916. It is still raining and as cold as charity.
May 10th 1916. There was some activity both in the air and with the artillery today.
May 11th 1916. Very quiet today.
May 12th 1916. Quiet again.
May 13th 1916. Went to the baths for a wash. Still raining heavily.
May 14th 1916. Church Parade as usual at 9.30am. I was just thinking in what funny places we have had Church of late. Today it was in the farm yard with the fowls, horses and cows all around us. In the afternoon we had to go out on parade as usual. I can tell you we did not half like it so all got into the barn out of the way and read all the afternoon. At 5.30pm I went for a walk to Nieppe.
It was about three miles from here and is a very pretty little place although like all the other towns up this way has suffered considerably through shell fire. It is a suburb of Armentieres to which it is connected by electric tram, now not working.
May 15th 1916. It was very cold and wet today. In the afternoon I walked into Armentiers, about 2 1/2 or 3 miles from here. My word there are some really beautiful buildings and Churches here, also some very fine bridges over the river Lys.
The gratings in the footpath and all such like holes are blocked up with sand bags. On our way back we stopped and had a good look at Erquinghem. Both here and Armentiers the signs of bombardment are well to the fore.
May 16th 1916. It was a glorious day today. There was considerable aerial activity. Saw Basil Benaim today.
May 17th 1916. Went to the baths again this morning.
May 18th 1916. Nothing doing today.
May 19th 1916. I went to Nieppe this morning. Just as I arrived I saw an armoured train in action. It was a great sight.
May 20th 1916. During parade today we saw an aeroplane catch fire in mid air and dash to the earth ablaze. All day they have been heavily shelling Erquinghem.
May 21st 1916. Church Parade as usual at 9.30am. During which there was considerable aerial activity. 3.30pm. they started shelling Erquinghem again.
8.30pm there is a big fire raging on our right and lighting all the surrounding country.
May 22nd 1916. They kept up the shelling of Erquinghem all day. At 7.30pm they started on our Brigade Headquarters and blew them up. This was the work of spies. They are like rabbits here., In every nook and cranny.
We have some rare sport at times in chasing them and their methods are unique. Some use the hands of clock towers, others by different movements and attire in the fields in view of the enemy, of by lights and movements of window blinds at night. Another method was to give code letters to aeroplanes by placing the washing ( which is always put on the ground in these parts, no lines being used 0 to form letters or morse code signs.
Belgium, the frontier of which is only For instance two sheets side by side and some article of ladies wear ( white ) so -- look harmless but represent from the air DASH, DASH, DOT
(--- ---- - ) the morse sign for "G". Today's work was through a spy in English Staff Officer's Uniform.
May 23rd 1916. They are still dropping a few shells over our way.
May 24th 1916. It is very cold today. There was considerable aerial activity. At one time we saw five big battle planes overheard.
May 25th 1916. Rained all day. Nothing else to report.
May 26th 1916. Went for a bath in the afternoon. The remainder of the day it rained.
May 27th 1916. Had a little sports meeting this afternoon to keep our spirits up. 4pm we went for a stroll along the river bank. While so doing so one of our chaps dived in and cut his leg very severely on a snag so I had to act in the capacity of stretcher bearer.
May28th 1916. Nothing doing.
May 29th 1916. Packed up once more and shifted to a place called Chappelle d'Armentiers. We arrived to find our billet was a bonza house which we had all to ourselves.
May 30th 1916. We had a look at the Church today. My word it was simply beautiful. The statues are astounding, but like all the others it had shell holes in it. We are about a 1/4 of a mile from the main street of Armentiers.
May 31st 1916. There was considerable aerial activity today. They put some very large shells about 500 yards from us in the afternoon. Five times today I had to go out mending lines which had been broken.
June 1st 1916. Today was of unusual interest. 11.15am half the Battalion marched to Croix-du-Bac to be reviewed by Mr. Andrew Fisher and Mr. Billy Hughes who arrived at 4.15pm. During the time we were waiting for him there was considerable aerial activity resulting in an aerial duel right above us. It was a great sight. Shrapnel was falling all around us so we had to take cover. On our road home we passed through Armentiers in a part which was in utter ruin.
It was terrible to see after seeing all the other good parts with it's fine houses and streets. About 7.15pm one of our observation balloons broke away and the men had to come down in parachutes. One fellow landed in the German lines. Immediately the men were clear our guns started shelling it but it drifted off into Belgium , the frontier of which is only about 1/2 mile from here.
June 2nd 1916. Nothing doing today.
June 3rd 1916. Very quiet.
June 4th 1916. Harold went on leave today so I am acting in his place. Some simply tremendous shells are landing quiet close to us today. 6pm We started a very violent cannoning to which the Germans replied forcibly.
June 5th 1916. About midnight last night there was some very considerable activity. It rained all day.
June 6th 1916. It is terribly cold and raining. I was told today that I would be going on English leave on the 6th. Not bad news eh? At 11pm tonight we started a terrific bombardment of the German trenches on which The Australians made a raid. It was very successful. They kicked up a terrible row.
June 7th 1916. Bad news today, all leave is stopped until further orders.
June 8th 1916. Nothing doing.
June 9th 1916. Nothing much doing. It has been raining like mad all day.
June 10th 1916. I went for a walk this morning to one of the neighbouring villages, or at least, the ruins of it. It was terrible. Not a single place was complete and the railway is bent in all shapes.
June 11th 1916. We are moving to the trenches tonight. At 7.15pm we moved off. En route we pass through the town or the remains of Chapelle d'Armentieres.
This has been a pretty place in it's time. Now it is an absolute ruin. The Church is about levelled to the ground bar one small wall of the tower. We eventually arrived at the trench Head Quarters which were in the remains of a farm.
Out of about 20 rooms of the house there is only one intact. Here we sleep on a real spring mattress but one has to stay on guard all night with a broken aeroplane propeller to keep off the rats. Another great game with the rats was to fix your bayonet on your rifle and on the end of which was placed a piece of cheese which had been previously heated. This was held at the entrance of the rat hole until he came out, that bought him in the line of fire. Then we pulled the trigger and blew the rat to ------ the next chapter.
June 12th 1916. Rained heavily all day.
June 13th 1916. Still raining and very cold. Went for a tour round the trenches today. There is a village the other side of the German trenches. One part of our line goes through a Cherry Orchid in which there is an abundance of good ripe Cherries. From here we can get a good view from behind Fritz's line. The village is an absolute ruin, also the Church. We can also see one of the Forts of Lille. Running through part of our lines are some of Fritz's old trenches which we took from him some time ago. They are solid concrete.
Just outside the remains of the farm ( FERME DE BIEZ ) in which are our Head Quarters, are the remains of what has been a beautiful rose garden and a few fruit trees laden with fruit.
June 14th 1916. I found two dear little kittens in among some old rubbish today so bought them in and made a pet of same. It is still raining heavens hard.
June 15th 1916. There was considerable aerial activity today.
June 16th 1916. All quiet up till noon when both sides started to put some enormous stuff over. 6pm Both the guns and trench mortars started up a terrible din for about half an hour. 9pm. I had to go out and man a lamp station. This is known as Suicide Station as it was so dangerous. 11pm. Every available gun opened fire on the German trenches. It was veritable hell. We had a great view of it all from our station. 11.45 pm. The Germans are now replying with some very heavy stuff. 12 midnight. Still going strong.
June 17th 1916. 12.30 am. the bombardment has stopped. It turn out that the New Zealanders on our right made a raid on the German trenches. 1 am We were just having a bit of something to eat when the gas alarm was given. 1.30 am. The "All Clear " was given and we went to bed. 2.14 am. Another gas alarm. 3 am. "All Clear" given once more. This is getting over the fence, what sat you?
The remainder of the day there was heavy shelling by Fritz and also a fair bit of aerial activity. When we came here this was considered a very quite sector but we have made it a very hot shop now. In fact the remaining inhabitants are beginning to think so too and are starting to pack up and clear out.
June 18th 1916. There was some terrible activity against the artillery. At 11pm our artillery opened up on our immediate front so as to cover a raiding party. This was a great sight but caused a terrible row and havoc. 11.45pm Fritz answered back very heavily. The raid was not too successful.
June 19th 1916. The shelling by Fritz was terrible today, and caused some considerable damage. I saw Alex Lilley and Stan Scrivenor today. The day light saving scheme came in force today. All clocks have to be put on an hour. 11.15pm. We gave Fritz a bit more of our artillery just for luck.
June 20th 1916. 4 am. The enemy are shelling our trenches terribly. I had to get up and repair our lines which had been broken. 9.15 am. They started to deliberately shell one of the most beautiful Churches in Armentiers. At 11 am. The Spire broke out into flame. Just then ten shells landed on the burning place and blew it sky high. It is something awful to think they cannot leave an innocent Church alone.
The spire looked like a big blast furnace. I viewed the surrounding country from the look out which is at the top of the only remaining chimney of the Ferme de Biez. We could look right down on all of Fritz's territory and see the outer Forts of Lille. Another interesting thing is, we are using the old Armentiers-Lille telegraph cable for our phones. This saves a terrible lot of work. For eight months after the Hun occupied Lille, Armentiers had, through the medium of this cable, a full supply of electric light and telephone communication with Lille from the big power station there. It was one of our nightly jobs to creep out each night with a telephone into No- man's Land and attach it on to the end of the cable which had been cut just outside Fritz's trench and see if we could intercept any of his messages.
There was a fair aerial duel today resulting in one of our planes landing in German territory and the loss of one enemy plane. It was a thrilling sight.
June 21st 1916. All this morning we well peppered all of Fritz's positions in front of us. In the afternoon he returned it for us and blew our trenches to pieces. It was something awful. Some 15 inch shells landed about 400 yards from us.
June 22nd 1916. We once again gave him a heavy bombardment and once more he blew up our trenches . It is very nerve racking. Shells flying in all conceivable directions. In the evening we put some very large shells and mortars over to him and he returned shell for shell, it was a perfect hell all day long.
In the afternoon I took our party to our billets as we were being relieved but we had to return. Just before midnight the enemy turned the gas on us. This is the third alarm we have had now.
June 23rd 1916. All today the enemy has been shelling us heavily. At about 10pm we were relieved for our short spell.
June 24th 1916. The Sergeant and myself were detailed to attend the school of instruction today. At 12.15pm we started to walk. On reaching Erquinghem we met a motor transport which took us down to Criox-du-bac. Here we were met by two motors from the Flying Corps. They took us to the aerodrome near Merville. We travelled off at about the rate of 40 miles an hour, one could hardly sit on the seat. In the afternoon and evening we spent in looking over La Gorgue and Estaires. These are really pretty places.
June 25th 1916. At 9am we had our first parade and then a look over all the aeroplanes. In the afternoon the whole squadron left on a bombing raid. It was an impressive sight. Just as the last plane left one of the bombs fell out and burst. It set fire to everything within the vicinity.
After this we went into Merville. Here we spent a grand afternoon. At 9.30pm the men started a concert. I can tell you it was some class too. They had a proper orchestra and scenery. I really enjoyed it. All night there was a violent bombardment. It was at Neuve Chappelle, we are only a few miles from it. Our instruction needed a lot of moving about today, so a car was placed at out disposal. We went to Merville, Haversque, Estaires and several other places. It is more like a joy ride than work.
June 27th 1916. It rained heavily all this morning and right up till 4pm when the Major in charge gave orders that we were to have a fly. My word it was just simply marvellous. My pilot was a real sport. He did a tail slide, a spiral, a nose dive and a couple of other performances. We passed over Merville, Haveraque, Estaires, La Gorgue, Nieppe, Stienwerk, Armentiers and the outskirts of Lolle ( From which we could see the entire city ). Here we could see the trenches which we had been holding and those all around Ploegstert to Messines, and also a part of the Ypres salient.
Ypres it self could hardly be distinguished. While we were up the old Hun tried one or two shots at us but these went very wide. Once owing to rain, we had to go up above the clouds. This was a weird experience. Could I have used a Machine gun we would have gone further, altogether we were up over 40 minutes. This was the second longest for the afternoon. Oh! You cannot imagine what the place looked like. In the evening we had a great time with a bonza gramophone.
June 28th 1916. We have to go home today. At midday, we left in the car for Croix-de-Bac. Here we caught a motor transport right into the heart of Armentiers. 11pm we had to go to Armentiers for a piano.
June 29th 1916. From midnight until this morning, there has been a big bombardment. At 8.15pm we started a violent bombardment which is the preparation for our Brigade raid. It is the biggest yet attempted. The bombardment of the enemies lines continued until midnight.
June 30th 1916. Last nights raid was most successful. There has been a slight artillery duel all this afternoon.
July 1st 1916. It was quiet all today. At 10am the enemy most violently bombarded our positions at Armentiers and set about 6 fires going in the town.
July 2nd 1916. 9 am Fritz started bombarding the beautiful Armentiers Cathedral which is about a 1/4 of a mile from here. His first shot blew part of the spire off. After about two hours shooting he gave it up leaving the Cathedral in a terrible state. He broke the backs of the roofs of each wing of the Cathedral and so scarred the main entrance that one would not know it from a scrap heap.
July 3rd 1916. An aeroplane shell which did not explode in the air, fell in front of our headquarters at 6 am wounding two of our men and cutting all our wires. Orders to move were once more issued. 10.30 am we started on a 8 mile march to La Creche. The mud was something awful.
July 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th 1916. All these days were quiet and spent at La Creche.
July 8th 1916. On the move once more. Today we proceeded to Merris, a distance of 9 miles in the south westerly direction. Here we spent the night.
July 9th 1916. At 8 am we started off again to Ebblinghem, a distance of 8 miles and still in a westerly direction. Here we were billeted in a beautiful Chateau, the grounds of which were simply lovely.
July 10th 1916. We started off once more to Canpagne, 5 1/2 miles west. Here we once more put up in a Chateau. ( in the stable this time ).
July 11th 1916. At 7 am we started again. This time to St. Omer via Arques which is a big place. St Omet is a tremendous place about 5 miles away. The glorious Cathedrals make one so that he will never forget them. There is one very fine old Cathedral ( Which is in ruin ) of most majestic appearance. Here we entrained in cattle trucks.
After an hour and a half ride we landed at Calais, a very pretty place. The smell of the sea was lovely once again. From here we went to Bolougne, also a very fine place on the sea coast. Next we arrived at Etaples. This the base and great training centre and as cold as charity. All this time the scenery has been very pretty.
We now turn inland via Abbyville, for Amiens arriving there at about 7 pm. This is a very fine city indeed with the most beautiful Cathedral. From here we marched through the main streets of the town to St. Sauvier, a distance of 9 miles or more arriving there at about 11.30 pm. We were dog tired.
July 12th 1916. No Entry.
July 13th 1916. In this town is a pretty old Church founded over 570 years ago but re-built about 200 years ago.
July 14th 1916. I was acting chief Chef today. Do not know if the boys will survive. In the afternoon we had a sham attack on a wood. Most of the woods in France are artificially planted and make the most beautiful scenery.
July 15th 1916. We had another attack today. This one was on a Valley. My word, words cannot explain the scenery here. The fields are red and blue with poppies and corn flowers, making a very pretty sight.
July 16th 1916. Once more we made a move, a distance of 6 miles to Villers - Bocage and passed some more very pretty places.
July 17th 1916. Today we had a look over the old Church. It dates from 1200 AD but was re-built about 1540 AD. Some age ,Eh ?. It rained the whole of the day.
July 18th 1916. Today we moved on to Puchevillers, a distance of 7 miles. This is a terrible slow hole.
July 19th 1916. We had a rest today. Tomorrow we are off once more.
July 20th 1916. Today our march was 7 miles to Varrennes. Here we can see the firing line quite plainly. It is very cold.
July 21st 1916. We are awaiting orders for an immediate move.
July 22nd 1916. We watched the bombardment up forward tonight. It was such as I have never in all my life thought possible.
July 23rd 1916. The bombardment kept up all night and got even more intense at 3 am. I believe we have obtained another success through this little lot. Sunday today. Church Parade as usual. This may be the last we have before we get into the thick of it.
July 24th 1916. The bombardment is still going on incessantly.
July 25th 1916. The bombardment is still as severe. One could never imagine or explain it.
July 26th 1916. Reveille at 3 am. We marched to Albert, a distance of 6 miles, arriving about 8 am. This lovely town is practically in ruins. There is not one straight chimney stack in place. The glorious Cathedral is in absolute ruins.
The tower, was, at one time surmounted by an enormous statue of the Virgin Mary and her Child. Through some freak hit by a shell,
It is marvellous how it remains the way it is. At 8 pm we marched up to the front line supports ( Some few miles ) One would not credit the damage our side must have inflicted on the enemy. We are now some miles behind the enemy's old front line. During the night we had several gas alarms. The number of guns are absolutely beyond explanation. It is a perfect little hell let loose, for us with our own guns , so you can imagine what it must be like for the enemy.
July 27th 1916. This morning we had a bit of a look round. La Boisselle or what remains of it, a few broken bricks and what remains of the neighbouring hills, a crater, two or three hundred feet by 2,500 feet in diameter. Every square inch is dug up by shells. This mine was a signal for a great advance.
July 28th 1916. We are the Battalion in supports. 11 pm After a fairly solid bombardment all day by both sides, our Brigade ( in fact the whole Division ) made a charge for the great Pozieres Ridge. You never in all your life imagine the bombardment. It was a perfect hell on earth.
July 29th 1916. As far as our Brigade was concerned the charge last night was a success, but the next Brigade made a horrible mess of it. The casualties are terrific. Our wounded have all been coming down all day in the hundreds. In the evening I was up at the Red Cross Dressing Station making coffee for the wounded. This an all night job so good-bye another night's sleep.
July 30th 1916. After being up all night, at 5 am we went back and tried to get a little sleep but our luck was out. We had to pack up to go into the trenches. The trip up there I shall never forget.
There is, on the road up, the remains of Contalmaison and woods, now a few scattered bricks and splintered logs and stumps. There is not one spot where one can find one square foot of earth not dug up by shells. Next we come to the remains of Pozieres. Here it is something awful. There is not the slightest trace of a house or woods left. In most places even the bricks and tree stumps are missing, having been pounded to dust.
The ground is just honeycombed with shell holes and the whole aspect and contour of the ground is changed. All the old German dug-outs which have been some fine places, are now all practically destroyed and are full of corpses in all stages of decomposition. Some of these are 40 feet below the ground.
The saps, or the remains of same and the ground is just covered with corpses, some terribly mangled and all in an advanced state of decomposition, the stench is something awful.
These are bodies of the Huns, Tommies and Australians killed in the last advance. This is the most awful sight I have ever seen. The shells that pass from side to side are enormous and many. One cannot bear the row at times. During the afternoon I was hit on the back of the head with a log of wood, but luckily, my steel helmet saved me, so now have a fine old lump and a headache.
I never in all my life thought things could be in such a state of desolation and ruin. Even from pictures you cannot imagine the time we are having.
My word it has made a different man of me. There are hundreds of dead and decaying dead lying everywhere. There are arms legs, pieces of bodies, armless, legless, and headless. They are the most gruesome sights I have ever seen in all my life.
Even after they are dead they could not rest in peace as the shells would land on top of them and blow them to pieces. The casualties are very heavy and we cannot keep pace with the wounded who are lying everywhere and who are being wounded over and over again and being killed in dozens. I think I had better shut up or you will be getting the blues.
July 31st 1916. The bombardment by both sides today was terrific. One big 6 inch shell burst about 10 feet from me and knocked me flat.
August 1st 1916. Our head quarters and trenches were bombarded without ceasing today. It was terrible. The number of shells in the air at one time is simply outstanding. We are out all day mending the telephone wires which are broken as fast as we lay or mend them.
August 2nd 1916. Our headquarters was once more the centre of the Huns fury. He shelled us all day very heavily. I never thought it possible for such a bombardment. It was with 4.5, 6 , and 9.2 shells.
The dugout which was solid concrete just simply danced and trembled all day. We could not keep a light for the concussion. This was kept up till midnight. During the bombardment all our wires were broken. We tried to keep them mended but were ordered to abandon the attempt. I tried to get communication by lamp. All the boys said "Goodbye" when they heard what we had to do. Anyhow the enemy must have seen us and put a 5.9 over at us. It blew me and my lamp sky high and hurled the chap who was helping me right down the steps of the dugout.
August 3rd 1916. They are still bombarding as heavy as ever. The casualties are fearful. This continued till 2.30 am. At 12.30 I had to go with a dispatch. The shelling was so heavy on the track we usually took that we had to take to another and longer track. This took us two hours to do which is usually a 15 minutes trip. The particular little bit of the road I am referring to is where the main sap leading up to the front line and is called the Centreway Sap, crosses the sight of the Bapaume - Albert Road where it used to enter Pozieres, then a little hundred or so yards between here and our Headquarters. On this spot there are more dead than any other spot around.
It is literally covered with at least three hundred or more dead. In the dark one is walking on dead everywhere. In fact he sleeps with them. The bottoms of the saps are absolutely covered with them and the tracks are quite soft where they have been trodden into the earth.
To come back to our message, we eventually arrived there safe and then made a run across country for it. As we were nearing our destination we were knocked over three times in succession by shells exploding about 3 or 4 feet from us. You have no idea of the marvellous escapes one has. They started bombarding us again at 3.30 pm with the same violence as last night. He spots a man going along a trench ( which we do at record speed ) and starts sniping us with 5.9 shells.
He is enabled to do this as he is in full view of us, he on the hills and we lower down. The best event of the day was at 6pm when we were relieved by one of the other Battalions. We were so weakened by casualties and the strain of the past few days that the Doctor ordered that he would not be responsible for the unit. Coming out we had to race for dear life with the shells.
August 4th 1916. Things have been very busy all day preparing for tonight's big charge. All day long there was a constant bombardment of his lines and back areas to which he replied with extra ordinary vigour. At 8.30pm every available gun was opened on him and at 9.45 our boys went over the top.
All night the bombardment continued with great violence.
August 5th 1916. The charge last night was most successful. We have taken the last two lines of trenches and are now on top of a hill, or ridge, I should say. Our Casualties are very heavy and the prisoners numbered about 1000. We do not know what to do with them. Many were killed by their own shells whilst being bought out. One batch turned on their escort, seized their rifles and shot them, so we sent the whole batch to Kingdom come.
The road down is just covered with dead from today's scrap. Dozens of stretcher bearers are lying dead with their once wounded burdens along this road ( know as the Chalkpit Road ). Although our Battalion did not actually go over in the charge ( they were carrying the food and munitions up ) we suffered very severe casualties. Up to 10 am three counter attacks have been launched at our new positions but were all beaten off successfully.
At 4 .30pm the whole Battalion moved up into supports. Part of the Division is being relieved by a new Division. 7 pm I was detailed to go right back to Brigade Headquarters. This in now a little better than before.
August 6th 1916. The stream of wounded from last night's and the previous night is still going through. The enemy is also surrendering in one and twos from out of isolated shell holes. At 4.40pm we were completely relieved and proceeded to a place called Tara Hill near the Becourt Wood, not far from Albert. During the night the enemy shelled us and caused a few casualties.
August 7th 1916. At 8 am we packed up and started to march ( a sorely depleted and war torn Battalion ) vie Millencourt to just out side Warloy-Baillon, a distance of about 5 or six miles. Here we camped for the night in a field.
August 8th 1916. At 10 am moved into Warloy where we were billeted.
August 9th 1916. We had the day to ourselves for a rest,. This is a fairly large place and there are some very pretty French girls here.
August 10th 1916. 11 am we had once more to pack up and march, the road, a distance of three miles, where we were reviewed by the King and Prince of Wales, their Staff and General Birdwood. After this we continued our march 10 miles further on to just the other side of Talmas where we were camped in an apple orchard, Bois-Monsier near La Vicogne for the night.
August 11th 1916. 9 am once more on the track. Today we did eight miles to Berteaucourt where we are to rest. The scenery is very pretty, it is all hills and vales.
August 12th 1916. Today we had to drill as in peace camp. Where we drill we have a fine view of the surrounding country which is most beautiful.
August 13th 1916. Sunday. The usual Church Parade was held. In the afternoon we went for a walk round the town, which is quite a large and pretty place. It is nestled down in a valley between three big hills which rise in terraces just outside town.
August 14th 1916. Drill as usual. In the afternoon we were caught in a terrible thunderstorm and drenched to the skin.
August 15th 1916. Went for an unofficial visit to Leger-les-Domart and St. Quen.
August 16th 1916. Drill as usual.
August 17th 1916. Drill as usual.
August 18th 1916. We marched out to the old apple orchard Talmas and camped for the night.
August 19th 1916. All last night it rained heavens hard, but had to sleep out in it; consequently at 8.30 am we had to start out in the rain and drenched to the skin through mud and slush to march 6 miles to Rubempre.
August 20th 1916. This morning we marched 5 miles to Vadencourt, where we camped in the open for the night. In the afternoon there was a Brigade Church Parade, after which our General ( Birdie ) inspected us and distributed some medals to the Brigade.
August 21st 1916. Today we marched 7 miles to Albert where we camped in the open for the night and once more it started to rain, so were wet through, the second time this week.
August 22nd 1916. It was terribly foggy this morning. The Battalion moved up to support trenches at 4.45 am. Here we stayed all day and at 6 pm we moved up to the front line.
On the way up the guide lost us so we were wandering all over the place for about two hours.
August 23rd 1916. The shelling was very heavy all day. During the morning I had to take a suspected chap down to Brigade Headquarters. Coming back a big shell burst on the side of the trench and completely buried two other chaps and myself. We were buried for some time, I felt very funny when I saw daylight again. There was one funny thing I must relate to you.
In the Centreway Sap, is, protruding from the side, the hand of a corpse and which has turned black. It is held out like someone begging. I do not know whose it is as there is only the hand showing, but someone, with a sense of humour has placed a piece of paper in it on which is written "Gibbit Backsheese". It has evidently reminded him of the beggars in Egypt. Anyhow to whoever it belongs is useful even after he is dead, as we use it to tie the telephone wires too.
August 24th 1916. It was fairly hot tonight and the shelling was pretty lively. In the afternoon, we changed our positions on the extreme right ( in front or near the old Pozieres windmill ) to the left ( in front of Mouquet Farm ). During this process our Battalion suffered very severely.
August 25th 1916. Today has been awful, the shelling is terrific. At 10 am both Reg and I were buried by a shell, and a little later I was knocked done by another. I can tell you it shook me up a bit. 6.30 pm We started to shift our head quarters up to the front line. Half way up, the enemy started up a great shelling match so we had to turn back.
This was the famous Kay Sap. The floor of which is as soft as butter with the dead that have been buried. The whole surrounding country is littered with corpses that have been thrown out of the trench when it was the front line. The amount of abandoned material here is terrible. Just as we turned round to go back, a piece of shell hit me on the helmet and made a dint in it 3" long and about half wide. It stunned me for the time being. Eventually, we arrived at our destination. At 4 am tomorrow morning our Battalion is to go over in this position. The shelling here is cruel.
August 26th 1916. After sitting awake all last night our Battalion went over at 4.45 am. The shelling on both sides is terrific. 5 am The wounded are starting to come back. They say we are nearly to our objective. 6 am The men are still holding on, casualties are very heavy. Reg and I tried to get a message across the open country just taken, to the new front line.
The wounded and dead are lying everywhere. We could not find our Officer ( afterwards I found out he had been captured along with his platoon. ) During this trip I was sniped in the arm with a machine gun bullet. Owing to loss of blood I could not go any further, so had to get into a shell hole while Reg went on, on his own. Just as he left me a shell burst in the hole in which I was sheltering and I got a piece of this in the back. At the same time as this another shell landed into the hole in which Reg was. I thought he was a gone coon.
To my surprise when I was coming in with the stretcher bearers who should pop out of a shell hole but Reg. I was pleased to see him too. Whilst I was in this shell hole I was buried for about 15 minutes by a shell which burst on the side and blew it in. Any how I soon managed to get out again and returned to the old place.
Here we sat along with about 200 or 300 wounded in the quarry just waiting to be wounded again and again as many were and to watch our mates getting blown to bits. The shells are just pouring into this place. We have hardly any Officers left and precious few men. The stream of wounded is constant.
9 am The shelling has eased off slightly. There are very few of our Battalion left now. They have been caught in some sort of trap. This is something awful. Taking advantage of this lull in the shelling all those who could walk or even crawl made for the dressing station about half to 3/4 of a mile away.
All the way back along the Kay Sap are the fresh dead. These are those who tried to get back during the heavy shelling but were killed.
Just before we left, we could see the Hun massing for a big Counter attack so we turned the stokers mortars on him and inflicted terrible severe casualties. One could see the Hun sailing through the air every time a mortar exploded.
When about half way down the Sap on our way to the dressing station a shell burst in front of us. It blew the head of the man in front of me right over my shoulder, but the two leading ones were never seen again. Of this lot I received a piece in the left shin. So now I am lame and cannot walk.
From this Station we were passed on to another about a mile further on ( Casualty Corner , as it was known ) where they gave us hot coffee and sent us on by ambulance to Becourt Wood Dressing Station. Here our wounds were properly dressed and we were sent per motor ambulance to Vadencourt Hospital. This is where we marched through on our way up. Little did I think I would return to here in this state. Here our wounds were examined once more and we were inoculated against lock-jaw. We were then sent to the casualty Clearing Hospital at Contay to await clearance to the Base. We spent the night there.
August 27th 1916. Sunday today. I did not have much sleep last night as I was very crook. 7 pm We were all put on a hospital train on which we travelled all night. I was pretty crook all the way down about half way I went out to it, through weakness and loss of blood, I suppose. During the time I was thus some one took all my souvenirs, I was so wild too.
August 28th 1916. 2 pm Arrived at Rouen. By what I could see of it was a very fine place. here we were taken in hospital ambulance to No 1 Australian General Hospital' when the Doctor saw me, he marked me as "Cot case" England. Billy came in to see me today. Just shortly after he left I took another bad turn.
August 29th 1916. We had a terrible thunderstorm today. Billy came to see me again today. The Sisters are very good to us here. They are all Australian.
August 30th 1916. 10 am We were put into a French Hospital Train which I can tell you is not a patch on ours, and sent to Le Havre. Here we were put into an emergency Hospital until the Hospital Ship arrived. This we boarded at 9 pm. It is a bonza boat called the "Panama" Once more I took a bad turn and knew practically no more for the rest of the voyage.
August 31st 1916. After a good passage over we arrived at South Hampton and were put on a Cardiff bound Hospital Train. The scenery was just glorious and the people gave us a great welcome on landing.
The excitement was too much for me so did the overbalancing trick again. From the station we were sent on to No3 Western General Hospital where they operated on me almost immediately.
September 1st 1916. We had a very nice concert here today. All the beds were wheeled into the big hall where the whole of the company from the Revue at the Cardiff Empire Theatre gave their turns as at night. I can tell you it was fine too.
September 2nd 1916. This afternoon a few of us were allowed to be packed very carefully in blankets and pillows galore in a motor and go for a trip to Penarth. This is a very pretty place. They gave us a very fine tea but poor me, I was not allowed to eat anything as I am on poet wine and Champagne and a very few light things.
My the way the Doctor told me that my lung had been damaged and that there was a piece still in my chest and which was impossible to move. So I shall have to abide by his orders. What say you ? I was not sorry to get back to bed.
September 3rd 1916. One of my mates braved a walk around Cardiff today. I was packed in a chair and he pushed. We sneaked out of the Hospital and had a good look around. I never thought I could get so weak in so short a time.
September 4th 1916. Much stronger. Allowed to eat all soft things now, A special tram car was waiting for us to take us to Victoria Park where the ladies gave us a grand concert and tea. It was very enjoyable.
September 5th 1916. We once more went up to Victoria Park today and had a good time. Coming home we took the wrong tram and landed down into the city proper of Cardiff. It is a lovely sight. Right in the middle of the city is an old castle some 500 to 600 years old. It is a glorious piece of work. I am going to try and walk tomorrow.
September 6th 1916. Today we walked to Victoria Park, it took a long time but never the less we got there. We are just beginning to enjoy this life now we can get around. I am getting on fine now, although I cannot yet use my arm, or walk without a limp. These will all right themselves again.
September 7th 1916. Feeling much better today. Went to some sports at Victoria Park and had a good time.
September 8th 1916. My back was very bad today so had to stay in bed.
September 9th 1916. At Ninian Park the ladies gave us a sports meeting and tea. It was a great turn out.
September 10th 1916. My friend and I went to Roath Park today where we had a great time. In the evening the choir from the Church came round and conducted the service. The singing was a real treat.
September 11th 1916. We went for a stroll round Cardiff. We had a good look at the exterior of the castle. The architecture and statues are very fine. The government buildings next door are a very fine example of modern architecture. In the evening we had a fine concert at the Hospital.
September 12th 1916. We were today transferred to Harefield Hospital. Things are very different to Cardiff.
September 13th 1916. My mate and I went for a walk round the village today. It is a pretty place although very slow.
September 14th 1916. My mate was transferred to Salisbury Plains so am now on my own.
September 15th 1916. It was very cold and wet today so could not go out at all.
September 16th, 17th, 18th and 19th 1916. Nothing to report these days other than that I was not to good.
September 20th 1916. This afternoon four of us went to Admiral Dawson's for tea. His home is in this village. We had a very fine time.
September 21st 1916. It is bitterly cold. My arm is still bad, cannot make out what is the matter with it.
September 22nd 1916. I got some letters from Australia today. No doubt they do put new life into one.
September 23rd 1916. Went for a motor drive to Mrs. Thornton of Beaconsfield ( Middlesex ) where we were entertained at tea. In the afternoon there was croquet, tennis, bowls etc. I had my first game of tennis ( one armed of course ) and got on fine.
September 24th 1916. Sunday. was not feeling too good today so stayed at home. There was a Zeppelin raid tonight.
September 25th 1916. We had a most beautiful concert tonight. It was given by Mrs. Munday and party ( all Australians ) and was really high class. Another Zeppelin raid tonight. These are quite exciting. Two of last night's Zeppelins were bought down.
September 26th, 27th, 28th and 29th 1916. All these days are spent with the Dentist. Quiet a nice time too, swollen face, no sleep, etc. Had a most enjoyable concert tonight by Australian artists.
September 30th 1916. It was very cold and rained all day.
October 1st 1916. It was a quiet day today. At 7.30 pm we had the warning to extinguish all lights and about 11.30 pm they arrived, I saw one Zeppelin pass right overhead. Later it dashed to earth in flames. It was a marvellous sight.
October 2nd 1916. Cold and raining all day. Had a good concert in the evening.
October 3rd 1916. Rained all day.
October 4th 1916. This afternoon, I was one of a party entertained by Miss Aikman of Melbourne, we went by car to Northwood then train and underground tube to the Apollo Theatre. Here we saw the play " Hobson's Choice ". It was lovely. After we were entertained at tea at the Victoria Club.
It was just lovely but it is nothing but lift to the tube here, ramp and lift there, in fact lift, tube, tube, lift etc, everywhere.
October 5th 1916. Rained all day again.
October 6th 1916. Still raining. There is an Australian mail in today.
October 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th 1916. There has not been anything doing all these days. Have not been too good so stayed home.
October 13th 1916. It is now to be clearly seen that Autumn is here. The leaves are turning all the beautiful shades of crimson and yellow, while some trees are now leafless.
October 14th 1916. Very Cold and wet.
October 15th 1916. Very cold and wet.
October 16th 1916. A big batch of wounded left here today for Australia. The ones who were left gave them a great send off. How I wish I was one of them.
October 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st 1916. It has rained incessantly so have been unable to go anywhere.
October 22nd 1916. I spent the afternoon at Admiral Dawson's and quite enjoyed myself.
October 23rd 1916. Today I was marked for convalescent camp. Do not know where I shall be sent.
October 24th 1916. My mate was sent to Weymouth today. We were very disappointed as we had made all our arrangements to go on leave together.
October 25th 1916. We had a very good concert tonight by a celebrated French Singer, supported by her English artists. It was very nice indeed.
October 26th and 27th 1916. Cold and raining again.
October 28th 1916. A concert party by the name of "Chocolates " gave us a very fine concert this evening.
October 29th and 30th 1916. Again it is raining. If this keeps up I am afraid they will have to issue us with lifebelts to enable us to float.
October 31st 1916. 7.15 am Had to draw my kit and at 10.15 am left by train for Weymouth, arrived there about 6.30 pm.
November 1st 1916. Today we were graded and grafted into our respective grades. I am B.1.A.C.2. Last night we had a terrible thunderstorm, put me in mind of Gallipoli. This camp is something awful, mud every where. It is quite near the beach. About 200 or 300 yards from the beach lies a big sandbank, 3 feet above high tide and about 8 miles long. This is the work of a tidal wave which came some years ago and lasted a quarter of an hour. We have to sleep on hard boards. It is an awful come down after hospital.
November 2nd 1916.. A good start, on fatigue today.
November 3rd 1916. Very wet, at 10.30 am we left for "4 Depot" at Wareham, 17 miles away. Just before leaving I had a bit of a look round the town of Weymouth. It is very pretty and put me in mind of St. Kilda.
November 4th to 24th and a part 25th 1916. This part was evidently removed by the Censor, for some reason or another. It contained about a very large air raid and other interesting things, including my visit to Poole and Corfe Castle.
Continuation of November 25th 1916. In the morning I went to the bank and drew the money you sent me. After this I went for a walk round and had a look at the Mansion House, the Bank of England and Royal Exchange. In the afternoon an Officer friend of mine booked two orchestra stalls at His Majesty's Theatre, where Oscar Asche and Lily Brayton are playing "Chu Chin Chow", after the style of "Kismet ", but far much more gorgeous. At 7.30 pm we dined at the Savoy, the most fashionable in London and patronised by Royalty.
November 26th 1916. Went to Harefield Hospital this afternoon, but found the Sister I liked the best had gone to Hospital. I went to a Picture show in the evening.
November 27th 1916. I came into the Union Jack Club to live today. This is a really lovely Club and quite as good as any of the big hotels. The entrance hall is in blue tiles, with the dining hall on the left in green tiles and the writing, reading and smoking rooms on the right in red. After booking my bed, I went for a real tour round to Westminster Abbey and Cathedral and Houses of Parliament. The architecture of these is something beautiful. I also saw the law Courts, Somerset House, War Office, Trafalgar Square and Monument, Piccadilly Circus and St. Martin's "in the field" Church.
In the evening I booked seats at Drury Lane Theatre for "The Best of Luck" the scenery of which is something beautiful. This is the oldest Theatre in London and it is of enormous size.
November 28th 1916. While strolling down Victoria Street, who should I see, but Den. He is on furlough from France. We went for a walk round Piccadilly Circus. While we were down here at 11.30 am an enemy plane dropped several bombs on London. The reports were terrific. In the afternoon we went all over St. Pauls. This isn't what one could term beautiful in every sense of the word but very old and quaint.
Dates in the Crypts go back as far as 800 A.D. We booked seats at the London Pavilion in Piccadilly Circus for the evening. The revue "Pick-A -Dilly" was being played.
November 29th 1916. Just as I got off the Piccadilly Tube this morning I met an Australian Girl who used to come out to visit our boys at Harefield. We took a walk over to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the Guard.
It is a great sight and the Palace is rather pretty. The Queen Victoria Memorial, which stands bin front is a marvellous piece of work. Next we walked to Hyde Park and along the Rotten Row to the Marble Arch, also a beautiful piece of work made entirely of marble. We booked two stalls, second from the front, at the "Lyceum" Theatre for the play "Monte Cristo". After Alexander Dumas' work. It was something beautiful.
November 30th 1916. This morning I went along and saw the Guard change over at the Horse Guards. It was a great sight, even better than that at the Palace. Then I walked on along past the War Office, and the officers of the Admiralty, all of which are very pretty places. In the afternoon I took ill, so had to go to bed for the remainder of the day.
December 1st 1916. In bed all the morning. During the afternoon I walked down the embankment to the London Bridge, West minster and Blackfriars Bridges. These are fine structures. On the embankment is a very old Obelisk, known as "Cleopatra's Needle ". This was in 1500 B.C. erected in the City of "On " which is the sight of the present Heloipolis ( Egypt ). In 12 B.C. it was removed to Alexandria and lay there until some years ago. It was eventually brought to England on the steel cylinder but abandoned in the Bay of Biscay where it was left to drift for some time until rescued and erected here.
We again booked seats at the Vaudeville Theatre for the Revue "Some". It was lovely and we quite enjoyed it.
December 2nd 1916. I took a Taxi to the Tower Bridge this morning. It is a marvellous structure. Afterwards I went over the famous Tower of London. It is also really marvellous and beyond words. I sent a descriptive book home last mail.
In the afternoon, I went with my friend the Officer for a motor boat trip up the Thames. It was A.1. Had a lovely time. We booked a box at the Alhambra Theatre for the " Bing Bong Boys are here". We had a box right up against the stage and had a bonza box of sweets on the rail.
When the Comedian, George Robey, came out we were answering him back so he spotted the box and calmly walked over, took our box of chocolates and offered it all round the artists on the stage. This bought the house down. We took it all in good part so he walked over to the opposite box and did likewise, to an old dame over there. Oh ! and she did go off too. Next scene he bought in two new boxes of chocolates and gave us the large one which would cost about 5/- and gave the old girl the one costing about 9 pence. This settled things completely. My word we did enjoy this evening. We afterwards had supper at the Savoy.
December 3rd 1916. This morning we took a car for the day and went into the country. The scenery was glorious, I quite enjoyed it. We passed some lovely old ruins on our way.
December 4th 1916. We went for another walk down the embankment this morning. The seagulls down here are quite tame and will feed out of ones hand. I went to Wandsworth this afternoon to see Nurse Morrison ( George's cousin ) but they told me she had left, so I was disappointed. I spent the evening and had dinner at the Savoy.
December 5th 1916. Took the electric train to Southgate today to see Georgie's people out there, but I am doomed to disappointment, they were out. At 11.15 pm I caught the express to Scotland. This is the fastest train in England. It does 400 miles in 8 hours, counting all stops. At one place she does 90 miles per hour, so she travels some.
December 6th 1916. Arrived at Waverley Station, Edinburgh at 7.15 am. I crowded a lot into today. After having a wash I went all over Edinburgh Castle, which is a grand old place standing on a rock 230 feet above street level. Then I went over the Scott's Memorial and Calton hill on which are some very fine pieces of ancient architecture.
After dinner I took a car out to the Forth Bridge. This is a truly marvellous piece of engineering work. In the evening I went to the theatre ( wasn't much ) and caught the 10.15 pm train to London.
December 7th 1916. We arrived at 6.30 am. After having a bit of a sleep I started on another big day by going over the Westminster Abbey. This is a glorious sight and beyond all words. The original building dates back 1,000 years. The tombs and statues are lovely. round the outside are flocks of pigeons. They are as tame as can be. There are similar to these at St. Pauls. From here I went up the Great Shopping Centre, Oxford circus, Oxford Street, Fleet Street and Regent Streets.
It is wonderful here. All the Melbourne drapers would be swallowed up in a couple of these shops, which seem to have no ending. I went from here down to the Strand and home.
After Dinner I went over Madam Toussards Waxworks. They are very good indeed. Here I shall try and give you a slight idea of London.
Well the traffic is wonderful. There are hundreds and hundreds of taxis. The motor buses run about 25 yards or less between each other and the trams even less. One can go to any part by Tube. These are all underground and built in four layers and reached by lifts or escalators ( moving stairways ) Then there are underground electric trains and steam trains level and overhead, so you can imagine the size and quantity of the traffic.
At night everything is almost totally dark because of the air raids. Restaurants are shown by tiny red lights and theatres by blue. Hundreds of motors, taxis and buses with their two dimmed headlights turn the roads into fairyland. The sky is all streaked with search lights. Altogether it is a wonderful sight.
December 8th 1916. I caught the 10 am train to Wareham and thus finished my furlough. We arrived here about 2 pm.
December 9th 1916. I was shifted to a new hut today and am now in with a terrible lot of chaps.
December 10th 1916. It is very cold. At 10 am during the Church Parade we had a terrible hail storm. In the afternoon this cleared up and turned to a frost. The ground is getting as hard as iron.
December 11th 1916. An Australian mail is going out today so must close this epistle of a Diary and post same.
From December 12th 1916 to December 31st 1916. Diary for this period was lost in the mud in the trenches and could not be found.
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