Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Farrell war diary, 2 February-17 September 1915 / Herbert W. Farrell
Feb. 2, – Sep. 17, 1915
Diary of the only
Australian manned Transport
to take part in the landing
at Gallipoli at Anzac Cove
on April 25th 1915.
Herbert W. Farrell
H.M.A.T. a 45 (Hessen)
Left Melbourne 5.10 p.m. February 2nd 1915
Bound for Colombo direct.
H.W. Farrell. Purser
Feby 2nd 8 a.m.
Great excitement prevails everywhere this morning for wherever one looks one sees countless uniformed men whose object is to get aboard the vessel which is to convey them to – where ? – they know not – being satisfied with the fact that they are going to fight for their Country, & what could be more fitting than that they should be conveyed thither to fight against the common foe, in a vessel captured by Australia from the said foe.
Having placed their personal belonging’s aboard, a start is made to put the horses on, this being done by means of "races” (heavy wooden gangways), placed from the wharf against the Ships side & through which they are fed one by one, those that show any temerity in entering the "race”, being pushed in by two sturdy Soldiers, who hold hands across the horses hind-quarters & lift them in to it. By 2 p.m. every horse is aboard a total of 470 – , a very creditable performance in 5 hours.
Being sailing day it is necessary that everything ordered for the victualling & general comfort of the Troops should be aboard, so on making enquiries I discovered that various equipage etc, essential to a Troopship, had not arrived, so commandeering a Taxi I set
out at 10 a.m. to personally interview the various deliniquent suppliers & did not return until 3.15 p.m., however by 4 p.m. everything is ready to proceed to sea, but tis then discovered that the Chief Engineer who had set out on an errand to induce the authorities to give him an extra Engineer had not retuned. 5 p.m. As there is still no sign of the Chief it is decided that we cast off & make for Williamstown & there await his return. Being a very hot night I allowed the Canteen to be opened & the rush that was made by those boys in khaki, beggars description. However whilst the "beano” was in full progress, the Chief Engineer with a new sixth in tow arrived & the Ship was soon under way bound for London via Colombo & Egypt.
Feby 3rd (Wednesday) Ship rolling a good deal today, consequently a good many Soldiers who are not Sailors, are ill. Anyway they all appear pretty happy. The horses are a good deal affected too by the rolling, some of them imagining they are backing 2 tons up a hill each roll she takes. I got that information from a very reliable "hource”.
Feby 4th (Thursday)
Arose 7 a.m. & have discovered a fresh water bath in the Ship (the only one), in the Isolation Ward, so as long as no-one needs isolating I can have a fresh water bath each morning. (I put this paragraph here so as to make people beleive that I wash.)
Feby 4th (Continued)
10a 1 p.m. Spent below getting the Canteen straightened up.
2.30 p.m. Soldiers now assembled for instructions re their duties for the afternoon, & a few words of advice from Major O’Brien the Commanding Officer.
Feby 5th (Friday) One horse died early this morning & was buried 11 a.m., "some splash”. Doctor performed an operation this morning on a Soldier. Another horse died this evening, "cold feet” having set in at 8 p.m. Very unlucky to die on a Friday too.
Still crossing the Great Australian Bight, weather now excellent. Also passed two Steamers bound to Melbourne, but got no news. Have had no war news tuesday last, & I presume we will get none for another week. We are still with the "Chilca & Clan McGillivray two other Troopships going home with us & we pick up another Ship (Mashobra) off Rottnest Island.
Feby 6th (Saturday) Arose 6.30 a.m. & attended to one or two little matters.
11 p.m. Have been very busy all day & had a game of "Bridge” with Doctor, Chief & 2nd Engineer & have arranged to play again tomorrow evening. Another horse died during the day.
Feby 7th (Sunday) Now nearing Albany where we pass 8 a.m. tomorrow. Have had a quiet day & I would not recognise it as being a Sunday in fact the only way I can tell what date or day it is, is by making it a practice of scratching the previous day’s date off the calendar on
arising each morning.
Feby 8th (Monday)
Played "Bridge” from 2 to 4 p.m. & 9 to 11 p.m. with the Doctor, Veterinary Surgeon, & Chief Engineers. The Dr & Vet are real good sports too.
Rounded Cape Leeuwin at 9 p.m. weather glorious.
Feby 9th (Tuesday) Beautiful weather today especially so, as around the Leeuwin bad weather is experienced a good deal. I spent half an hour from 9 a.m. walking around the deck with a cobber of mine, – a very fine bay horse, – followed by a chestnut, also a very fine horse, who are allowed the run of the Ship & they then act as decoys to the others, who are now following them around the decks for exercise. However as they all pass by my room, I dont feel altogether "free from danger”, especially as they "carried” my window away during their peregrinations this morning. 1 p.m. arrived off Rottnest Island where we awaited until 3 p.m. for the arrival of the Mashobra (a46) another Troopship with 365 Troops & over 300 horses, the Western Australian Complement to the Reinforcements. On coming alongside of us the Boys gave three very hearty cheers real British ones & it sounded great out at sea. We lowered a boat to get from her 3 barrels of Epsom salts for the Horses. We also got some newspapers & got our first war news since leaving. At 5 p.m. the four Ships set out for Colombo.
Feby 10th (Wednesday)
Had a very quiet day, same old routine & game of Bridge at night.
Feby 11th (Thursday) Good weather, no land, just sea & work & play & eat.
Feby 12th (Friday)
Soldiers & horses everywhere & am thoroughly enjoying the trip
Feby 13th (Saturday)
Going to Races today, (I dont think,) – I was, but I got ill with prickly heat & called in the Veterinary Surgeon, the ordinary Ships Doctor is no good to me. "Some” joke started too over it.
Tonight the Vet & I played the Dr & Chief Crib.
Feby 14th (Sunday) Nice weather, smooth sea.
Had a concert in Chief Engineers room at night. The Chief plays the Mandolin.
Feby 15th (Monday)
Joke, previously referred to, still going good. Everybody on board seems to be kidding to everybody else & the Vet & I are now working together & he has sent me an a/c for £3-13-6, Professional attendance.
Feby 16th (Tuesday) sighted no land since yesterday week. At sea a fortnight today. At breakfast this morning I placed the amount of the Vets a/c, at his place at the table. The Vet came in & said, This your a/c? I said "yes” & he put it in his pocket & said "thank you”. Consequently the Chaps all think that I have taken the a/c seriously & am kidding that I do too. Begin to think that I
am "some” actor too, especially as the 2nd Officer just now came in to my room in a very confidential mood & said "dont say anything, but its only a joke & we are all in it”, but I wouldn’t listen to him, that is to say, I ridiculed the idea of it being a joke.
Feby 19th (Friday) Crossed the Equator today & had a grand Concert & initiation ceremony at night, the whole thing passing off very successfully. From a list I had prepared of those who had not previously crossed the "line”, a policeman announced the name & ordered them to be arrested & brought before Father Neptune & after hearing if they had any defence to make, as to why they should not be dipped & shaved, he ordered that they be given a bath. They were quickly handed over to the Barber & his assistants & seated on the end of plank overlapping a big Canvas bath full of salt water. After a generous lather of soft soft & soot mixed the Barber ran a large wooden razor over their faces & then the plank was tipped up & two policemen in the bath ducked them well under. Previously however, they were examined by His Marine Majesty’s Doctor, who always prescribed a pill, which was a small soap one, which he pressed well in among the teeth. Whilst the ceremony was going on I was standing near & presently Neptunes Wife said "I wont mention any names but I can smell a "fresh”, so I’ll just point”. He pointed at me & I
tried to make them beleive I was born in Belfast & had crossed the "line” on the way out, but was to no purpose, I was ordered a bath & they just did lather me with that soot & ducked me well too. I got more than anyone else I think. Suppose it was to be my just reward for having spent the whole day in arranging the affair.
We had electric lights all over the No. 3 hatch & round my room, where the ceremony was held. I thoroughly enjoyed being dipped & would have been disappointed had I not been. The following is the Programme.
Grand Concert & Initiation Ceremony.
Held on Board H.M.A.T. A 45 –
Crossing the Equator February 19th 1915 7.30 p.m.
Chairman - Accompanist
Capt T.F. Brown a.a.m.c. – Private Munn
Mandolin Solo – Selected – Private Munn
Song – " – Sergeant Rowe
Song – " – Driver Roach
Recitation – " – Corporal Hart
War Cry – Patriotic – Mr W King Witt & Ships Company.
Song – Selected – Capt. W.L. Johnson
Song – " – Purser H.W. Farrell
Song – " – Electrician A. Wilkinson
Mandolin Solo – " – Private Munn
Song – " – Private Stratfort
Song – " – 2nd Officer A.S. Johnson
Recitation – " Private Shoebridge
Song – " – Driver Taylor
Song – Selected – Private Hughes
Patriotic Airs – " – Ships Company & Soldiers
Visit of Father Neptune
Father Neptunes Initiation Ceremony
Neptune - Chief Steward Gibson
Neptunes Wife - Driver E. Scott
Barber - T. Hunter (Carpenter)
Barbers Assistants - Driver B. Golding, AB,J Peace, Q.M, Sergt Halliday.
Policemen - Bosun, W Hutchinson Sergt Major Rose, A.B.,A Swanson, Trooper H. Everest.
Doctor to His Marine Majesty, Father Neptune. - Driver Robertson.
-To be Initiated -
From Tasmania - South Australia - From N.S.W.
Barclay – Lieut Kelly – Lieut Walker
Bailey – Allan – Capt W.L. Johnston
Butler – Cameron – Roach
Dalton – Evans – Blackwell
Graham – Goodwin – Bartlett
Hunn – Gillis – McCully
Kearney – Garratt – Jones
Lord – Hustwell – Hodkins
Parsons – Huckvale
Reynolds – Hall
Smedley – Henick
Tilley – Lyons
Allen. H. – Lane
Ingram – Murray
Turner – McDonald A
McDermott – McDonald M.
– Potter H & C
From Victoria -- Ships Crew
Carew – N.T. Gilroy Asst W/T
Condingley – T.A. Abbott 5th Eng
Dunn – A. Wilkinson. Electrician
Vet. Surg. C Human
God Save the King
Copy of Certificate supplied
To all to whom it may concern.
This is to certify that the bearer . . . . . . has been initiated to the Brotherhood of the Sea, such ceremony having been performed by his Marine Majesty King Neptune on the nineteenth day of February in the Year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and fifteen in Latitude 0°-00’ Long 88°-27’ E.
Signed . . . . . . . . . Father Neptune
Signed . . . . . . . . . Doctor to his Marine Majesty
Feby 21st (Sunday)
Arrived Colombo 8 p.m. & anchored in the Breakwater, a very fine structure with a narrow entrance, but plenty of water & a Lighthouse built on one side of it. The Chief Engineer & I went ashore, or rather to the Lighthouse with the Pilot who piloted us in, & after looking over it we went on shore & up on to the Roof Garden of the Grand Oriental Hotel a very fine place about twice as big, almost, as the "Australia” in Sydney. Everything goes on the same in Colombo on Sundays as on other days & there were a lot of men & women in the Hotel, mostly in evening dress. They had just finished dinner which is on from 8 till 9.30 p.m. The people here have a "snack” (Chota Hassary) early in the morning, then breakfast at 9.30 & Tiffin (Lunch) at 3 p.m. There seems to be hundreds of Native servants in this Hotel, there being one or two stationed at every corner in the building & they all seem to find something to do for you, consequently a lot of "tipping” is necessary, but as amounts are small, it does not matter much. There’s 100 cents to a rupee (1/4) & that goes a good way, when you get used to the business. After having a "Ginger beer” we got in a Rickshaw & rode round to Empire Theatre or Picture Palace. You buy tickets & go in & take a seat in a garden where there is a bar, it being mostly considered as a meeting place of the Clan
and if you happen to think of it,
they step in at a door & have a look at the Combined Vaudeville & pictures. We stayed there awhile & then Rickshawed round to the Galle Face Hotel via the Esplanade. This runs right along for about ¾ of a mile of a very fine Beach. The Galle Face is a very fine place too facing the beach. All the Hotels keep open until midnight. On arrival at the wharf to get a boat to pull us across to the Ship we were surrounded by natives, who started "bidding” to take us over.
They started at 2/- & then got down to 4d in outbidding each other, so we picked a 4d guy. When we got near the Ship one of the Cingalese said "vera long way master” (they call every white male "master”), verra hard work. So the Chief said "Go on then you row hard I give you more”. Believe me they put in a sprint & we gave then 1.50, better known as 2/-.
Feb 22nd (Monday)
Went ashore early this morning to buy Provisions etc for the Ship. I met the Ship Chandler & we visited the Meat Cold Storage & ordered enough for 14 days to Port Said. Then went to the Vegetable & Fruit Market &
done did likewise. We had a Taxi do do this & they also have Electric Trams, but the White population don’t use them much. The Whites merely superintend all operations & collect the boodle.
After finishing business I went around
the Town & made a few private purchases & then went aboard.
Could not go out at night as I had to stay on board & pay accounts, which amounted to over £400.
Feby 23rd (Tuesday)
Sailed 11 a.m. for Aden
Good weather. Not too warm.
Feby 24th (Wednesday)
Started active Service today & some excitement was caused. Whilst I was having lunch at 1.30 p.m. I heard a burring sound above my head on deck & reckoned we had sure been struck by a Torpedo. On rushing up on top I found the Chief Officer with his head down bleeding copiously & Lieut Walker with his trouser leg pulled up & bleeding from the shin. After the excitement of 1st aid had finished I ascertained that Lieut Kelly was showing the Chief Officer an automatic revolver that he didn’t know was loaded & he pulled the safety catch back & it went off, firing almost instantaneously eight bullets. One passed right through the Chief Officers neck at the back just missing the jugular vein & the spine by a fraction. Another passed through Lieut Walkers Leg just missing the bone. Others embedded themselves in the deck & the Doctor had a very narrow escape, as he was sitting next to the Chief Officer on the same box & & 2 holes were found in the deck just above his head. The Veterinary Surgeon was sitting next to Lieut Walker & he just missed one.
If I had not been late for Lunch I would have been up there too, as we always congregate at the same spot for a yarn & a smoke.
Moral - "Always be late.”
Feby 27th Both patients progressing well. The Chief Officer is walking round with a stiff neck & Lieut Walker is going to get up today for awhile. The Doctor say’s that he never knew of two more lucky shots, to go through where they did & not have serious consequences.
Arrived off Aden today but did not go in there, we steamed slowly past & they signalled to "proceed to Port Said. Aden is rather a desolate looking place, what we could see of it anyway. It has a Wireless Station & a Pilot Station facing the sea with a Lighthouse on the Point. The mail ships call there for mails, but I understand theres nothing of much note to see.
Entered the Red sea today & blow me if it isn’t as green as that bit of ocean at Bondi. I made enquiries as to why I had been misled & was informed that the banks on shores of it are red sand. It is very narrow too for a sea, but as everyone knows tis usually very hot going through it, but so far it is just nice as regards weather. There is a fort at the entrance which commands the whole entrance. The "Empress of Russia” an armed Merchantman was also
cruising about just behind the fort but we didn’t interfere with her, as when our accident occurred the Lieutenant responsible threw his revolver overboard, so we are short of guns.
March 7th (Sunday)
Arrived off the Brothers Lighthouse today, they are so named because there are two shoals very close together & they certainly do look a bit like – two shoals. We get war news everyday now from some of the Battleships.
Heard on Friday about the British Men ‘o’ war shaking things up in the Dardanelles & we are now speculating as to whether they will use us to take troops from Egypt to there. I hope they do.
Monday March 8th
Entered Suez Canal 1.30 p.m. having arrived at Suez 11 a.m., where we had to be examined by a Doctor & various Officials, also had to have a searchlight rigged on the Forecastle head. Two Engineers came aboard with a small engine to work it & came right through the Canal with us. One time Vessels could not go through it at night time & now that they do they must have a Searchlight. Also have a Pilot from Suez to Ismalia & another on to Port Said. They have signal stations all along it, so that Ships do not pass each other, one having to pull into a wide cutting whilst the other passes. The banks were lined with Troops as we passed along, & nearly every batch wanted
to know, who we were & where from. There were a lot of Indian Troops too & they used to cheer wildly, as did also the European Troops.
At one place 4 Indians stood out on a little platform & played the bagpipes whilst the rest stood to attention. It was very interesting right along. As it is about a week only since the big fight between our Troops & the Turks took place here, we saw some relics of the fight including several of the aluminium barges which they carried across the desert & tried to cross the Canal in. Also saw at Port Said the armed Merchantman (an Indian Marine Service Ship) that got her funnel blown away during the fight. The Pilot on her being killed.
March 9th (Tuesday)
Arrived Port Said 2.30 a.m. today & started at 3.30 a.m. to take in 1200 tons of coal. I went back to bed at 3.15 & at 3.30 I heard a devilish row start & guess there was a big riot taking place, so I got up again. It was only the coaling started. The Egyptians yell all the time whilst working & its an awful din. They have two planks fixed from the coal fighter to the Ship & hundreds of them on the job. They each carry a small basket full on their shoulder & run up one plank, tip the basket out down the Bunker & down the other. There is just one continual stream
of coal from their baskets & a head S
herang stands at the top of the plank & as soon as a native leaves a gap between himself & the next one ahead, the Sherang belts into him with a big rope like a Cat ’o’ nine tails. In fact he gives them plenty of it, just to keep in good practice, when there are no spaces. This is the fastest coaling place in the world. Sometimes the natives tip their baskets of coal over the side, if they are not watched, & then the others "drag” for it & sell it. I went ashore at 7.30 a.m. to order stores etc & got to the Ship Chandlers at 8. Went into his Office & he ordered "coffee royal” & a native brought it in & then stood over us with a big fan to keep us cool & to keep the flies off. Went down to a Hotel & had breakfast & then the native took me around wherever I wanted to go. Port Said is very quiet, you see hardly anything but Egyptians, Donkeys & wheelbarrows. There are no gutters in the roads, the footpaths & roads being level, nearly in every street. There are no Rickshaws & the people seem much more independent than the Cingalese & etc at Colombo.
Saw two English ladies at the Hotel where I had breakfast & was very nearly going to say "Good Morning” to them to see what it sounded like to hear a lady’s voice again. Its over six weeks now. Left Pt Said 4 p.m. passing the Statue of DeLissa the Engineer who built the canal & who later committed
suicide, tis said through failing on the great Panama Canal.
Wednesday March 10th
Arrived Alexandria & berthed alongside the wharf, where we proceeded to discharge horses & some cargo for poor London. The Horses were very glad to get on shore too & the Soldiers could hardly hold them. They had been on Ship 37 days. It was wonderful how educated they became on the trip. When the bugle blew to "feed horses” every horse on the Ship started stamping his feet & neighing till they got their share. They made a terrible row.
One of them jumped off the wharf into the breakwater & they got a boat & he had to swim about half a mile to get out.
Went up Town at night & had a look around. There are Electric Trams here & some very fine buildings. The population is over 2,000,000. There is a very fine harbour here, or rather it is a series of breakwaters, but there is plenty of room. There are about 100 Ships here now including some sailing Ships. (Brigs). We took a guide to show us about. He got a cab (these are small carriages to hold two, the driver & guide sitting on the front) & we drove to the Post Office we then went to various other places, too numerous to mention. It is an odd place this, the shops nearly all open out on to the footpaths, where people sit around little tables and drink coffee & play dominoes. The side streets are
very narrow & they have to drive these long narrow carts with donkeys in so as to be able to pass each other. The streets however are kept fairly clean & they would need to be too. There are Egyptians of all kinds sitting down on the footpaths selling some thing or other, some only having about 2d worth of peanuts. They all appear to have a donkey too, they use them in carts, ride them & put baskets of goods on their backs. The better class Egyptians have very nice horses, which appear to be well looked after. There are hundreds of little sailing boats & the natives can handle them splendidly, even little kids not more than ten work on them.
We are now lying at an anchorage in the harbour & we go in by a sailing boat, the charge being from 6d to 2/- according to what sort you look. (I always got in on the 6d list). Went & had a look at the Catacombs yesterday. There are Roman Tombs cut out of solid rock right under the ground & contain the skeletons of some noted Romans of centuries ago. They are said to be 2,500 years old. Some of the Tombs now have a hole cut in the stone & you can look through when they turn an electric light on, which they have fitted in, & see the skeletons. The carving on the outside is rather antique & mostly represent some prehistoric old sons of the Roman age or something. Also went to the Museum but theres nothing of great interest there, unless one knew a great deal of
ancient Egyptian history etc. The River Nile runs through here & they get their water supply from it. Alexandria was bombarded by a British squadron many years ago & Sir Charles Beresford gained some distinction in that engagement. Aboukin Bay is also not far from here. That’s were Nelson saw "10 Frenchmen lay”.
March 14th (Sunday)
Visited Cairo today. Arose 5 a.m. & after partaking of a cup of tea, caught a train at seven, accompanied by two Wireless Operators & 4th Officer. We arrived there at 10.15 a.m. & got in a carriage & drove round to two Mosques one of which is the largest in Egypt. (Assan Pasha) There is some wonderful work in these Mosques & also very valuable. A guide showed us all through & explained the native customs etc. He also got us to all hold hands & walk through the Sacred wishing place where the natives receive their blessings. One big brass door which cost over £5000 is a grand bit of work. In one place it is all worn away where the Egyptians used to rub their hand for a blessing. In the Mosque of Assan Pasha we had to put big slippers on before going in. There are some beautiful big solid silver candlesticks which cost an enormous amount of money. Two of these were presented by Lord Kitchener & the Natives think the world of him. After getting some sacred scent put on our handkerchiefs (that’s what the guide said it was), we went
& had lunch at Shepheards Hotel, a very large place & supposed to be the best Hotel in Cairo, & its certainly "some” place too. After lunch we got a Taxi & drove out to the Pyramids, a 20 minutes drive. There are also trams run out there, but they take 1¼ hours. On arriving there we took a guide, or to be correct, he took us, & we went & gazed upon the Sphinx, which is the head of a woman on a lioness’ body carved out of rock, it being 170 ft long & 56 feet high. We were told that the head is 30 ft long, face 14 ft wide, ear 4½ ft, mouth 7 ft 7 inches & nose 5 ft 8 in. It is a wonderful work, but has been knocked about a trifle. We got on Camels & had our photograph taken in front of it. We then rode on donkeys round the pyramids & started to climb the highest & its "some” climb too, there is just uneven ledges of rock all the way up & they are too high to step from one to the other, so you pull yourself up by anything you can get hold of & you are pretty well "all out” by the time you do the 451 ft which is the height of this one (Cheops). We had our photo’s taken on top, the 4th Officer taking them with my camera, but as I only bought it in Cairo that morning, dont know what they will be like. There have been four Soldiers killed through falling from this Pyramid during the last few months. When you get to the top & wonder how they built these Pyramids, it becomes a bigger mystery than ever, some of the
stones being very large. There are eight pyramids altogether, three right together (these are the biggest) & five a few miles further away. You get a great view of the surrounding scenery from them & of the Mena Camp too. The Nile & the Desert look grand from there also. Leaving the pyramids we motored in to the Railway Station, arriving just in time to catch the 6.30 train for Alexandria. We went right to the dining car & proceeded to have dinner & it was
a well got up too, a very nice dining car & a meal of 8 courses, you buy whatever wines or ales you wish. Smoking & eating we spent 3½ hours to arrival in there. The scenery along the line was grand, being all irrigated from the Nile, Natives working in the fields & bullocks pulling the water from the river, this latter is also done by the Natives themselves, by dipping a goat skin bucket on the end of a pole into the water & swinging it round into a small dam from which it flows, through small channels over the land.
Visited Pompeys Pillar at Alexandria today. This is a huge spiral structure erected by Alexander the Great to commemorate his conquest of Egypt. Underneath there are tombs cut out of the rock & there used to be a tunnel running from it a distance of two miles under the River Nile, but part of it has now fallen in.
Met some Australian soldiers here in Alexandria today. One of them had travelled with me twice on the Coast & we recognised each other in the street. During the fortnight I have been here, have met quite a lot of the boys from the land of the Southern Cross & by jove they are pleased to meet anyone from over there too, & the more I see of them I begin to realise what a lot of bosh & exaggeration was contained in the published statements of Bean the Official press representative who was at Cairo with them. I went through the Camp at Mena & the men appeared to be in perfect condition, physically & morally & it struck you right away what perfect Soldiers they will make. The majority of them are disgusted that such statements were sent home to Australia & say that although the actions of a few of the boys, arriving as they did with a cheque of £20 or so each & being in a new country & in some instances never having been away from home before, they naturally became a bit exuberant, but Beans statements were partially contained of actions by Australian soldiers & by Native & other Troops. I have met quite a lot of business men & they speak in the highest terms of them & the natives themselves simply worship them, partly because anything that they do for an Australian they are always well paid for. Some of the boatmen related yarns of how they took an Australian soldier or soldiers ashore & of having been given 10/- & 15/- & so on
& told to keep the change. They think that anyone from Australia is practically a millionaire.
However in their endeavours to sell you some thing or other, or to do something for you, they frequently make themselves an awful nuisance & at times you have to take extreme measures to rid yourself of them. Personally, I frequently gave up all hope of getting rid of them & I used to have about four Egyptian guides & advisers at times. One day a guide followed me about a mile & all my threats were of no avail, so I rushed up to a native policeman & said "If you don’t get rid of this guide here” I’ll throw him over that fence,” & I waved my arms about a few times. He just looked at me & guessed I had gone mad, because he didn’t understand English, so I went before he arrested me for talking out of my turn or something. However the guide "salaamed” very humbly & disappeared. It was also a frequent occurrence to see me in the street with about six Egyptians around me trying to find out where I wanted to go to, eventually I came to the conclusion that it was best to always have a guide that could understand English as the Gurry wallers (Cabdrivers) cannot understand it as a rule. Sometimes you tell one of them to drive you to a certain place & they say "o yes I know”, & when you get there its not where you wanted to go & perhaps miles away. The trouble is the name you tell them in English
sounds in Arabic like some other place they know. How I kept my hands off them at times, the Lord only knows.
In trying to sell you anything they always ask ten times its value & then allow you to beat them down gradually. On the Ship I just asked them the price of an article & then I would mention a quarter or sometimes less of their quotation & they would say, "no Sahib, cost me more.” I’d then say "look, theres my room over there & soon as you are ready bring it over & I will give you what I just offered. Sure enough in about 5 minutes they would be over & give it me at my valuation. I asked an arab in the street how much a walking stick was, & he said 6/- I said no 2/- & he followed me along the street coming down 6d at a time until it was mine for
Notice by private reports that our boys & some Territorials wrecked a few places last night & burnt the furniture in the streets & cut the hoses when the Firemen tried to put it out. One Australian killed & four wounded by Native police. They also wrecked the Military Canteens because the price of beer was raised. The former business is no doubt the Authorities own fault, as they should have stepped in & prohibited these places of ill fame, which are undoubtedly a disgrace to a civilized country, & when one of their mates (the Soldiers) get robbed it is only natural that the rest want to have revenge.
Received orders today to shift alongside to take on Troops, horses etc.
Have loaded 575 Indians (Sihks) & 300 horses & mules, as well as ammunition, guns etc.
Received "sealed orders” & orders to go to sea. On opening the sealed orders at sea we find we are bound for an Island (Lemnos) 45 miles from the entrance to the Dardanelles.
We have six British Officers on board & 2 British Petty Officers. The Sihks are fine soldiers, being big strapping fellows & all well trained. They are very religious too & you see them put a blanket on the deck & get down & pray several times a day, now and again bending their foreheads to the deck & then standing right up & going down again. They will not eat anything unless they cook it themselves & we have four special native galleys rigged on the poop for them. They are very clean & wash their hands after everything they do.
Passed a small sailing vessel this morning with 3 Greeks in her. It was about the size of one of those Yachts in Sydney Harbour & was flying a "mainsail” & a "jib”. I wouldn’t care to get out in the Meditterranean in one that size. It is fine weather today, but was raining & a rough sea yesterday & a good few of
the Indians were sea sick, but this morning they are playing jokes on each other & then they all laugh heartily. They are great chaps & quite different to Ceylon natives & Egyptians whom I never saw laugh
[indecipherable], the whole time I was there.
Passed the Island of Nikaria at noon. This is in the Grecian Archipelago.
6 p.m. The 3rd Mate & I have just been entertaining Indians. We started by walking up & down the deck & a couple of Indians became interested, so I bet the 2nd Mate that I would have 350 around us in half an hour, so I produced the skipping rope & did a bit of skipping & tried to get some of them to do likewise, but only succeeded in getting one & he slightly amused the others. They are great chaps these Sihks & look, or at least their actions make them appear, like a lot of boys with beards & they nearly all are 6 ft in height too. Theres no doubt they have a sense of humour also, thoroughly enjoying a joke. The 4th Mate & Wirless operator are now talking to them & there are about 150 there, so I lose my bet, but as it was only a bet, no money on anything, it doesn’t matter.
Arrived Lemnos Island 6 a.m. & proceeded up Mudros bay & anchored. This is a very pretty Bay, belonging to Greece, or it did, but how things stand at present I don’t know, especially as Britain is concentrating a lot of Troops here & Greece is a neutral country. This Island
is very large, being shaped like a horseshoe & forms a natural harbour with deep water everywhere. Nearly all of the Island is cultivated, chiefly with Barley & there are a lot of sheep & goats bred on it. The population is 27,500 mostly Greeks. There are quite a number of Ships here, including the famous "Queen Elizabeth & several other battleships. There is also a Ship here (Aenne Rickmers) which was captured from the Germans on the outbreak of war & turned into a store ship, but got torpedoed by a German submarine off Smyrna & was beached in here to save it from sinking. A Turkish or German Aeroplane dropped 3 bombs here the other night, but they’ve done no damage. As we are only 45 miles from the Dardanelles we are getting closer to "the day”. All lights are "deaded” tonight & we are on 6 hours notice.
April 10th Have just been watching an aeroplane flying around the Bay. There are also some Submarines here & just awhile ago two Torpedo Boat Destroyers went outside full speed. The Battleship Lord Nelson arrived here yesterday. Put some letters aboard a Cruiser today, but, dont know if they will send them away or not, because this concentration is being done as secretly as possible. Life on board here waiting gets a bit dry. Inspection of the Troops takes place at 9 a.m. daily, all assembling in full service uniform. A Bugler goes on ahead of the Military Commandant
(Major Bruce) & his Officers & the Ships Captain, and as they approach each group of men he gives a blast on the bugle & the Non Com Officer in charge of the group says "Attention” & they are then inspected as to tidiness & completeness of kit etc & the Officers then pass on to the next. When finished a bugle call announces the fact & the men are dismissed & they then get into their working clothes & get busy on cleaning stables, brushing horses & exercising them around the deck. Everything is done on the sound of the bugle so we get plenty of music.
Went ashore on Lemnos Island today, & there are a few thousand of British & French Troops encamped there. There are three settlements on various parts of the Island & the Greeks, (since the arrival of Troops), have built small weatherboard shops for the sale of soft drinks, cigarettes, Turkish delight etc. The houses are built of rough stones, obtained on the Island & where cracks occur in the walls, small stones are jammed in, probably to prevent the rest of the inhabitants of the village from gazing in. They are rather airy, however, I should say. They get their water from wells, having windmills rigged on top. These are large wire & wooden affairs, to which are attached canvas sails, which they can adjust to suit any wind that blows. Also went on board the "Arcadian” which ship is the headquarters of the Transport Staff.
They have a large room on her, fitted as an Office, with men in uniform typewriting & working at desks, & plans & charts spread on tables around which were clustered groups of Officers, whilst launches were darting backwards & forwards to the various Ships with orders etc. Heard a rather good joke about the Queen Elizabeth & Inflexible at the Dardanelles.
Our warships, during the bombardment of the Forts there, appeared in force, but these two were elsewhere & to represent them a dummy Ship was rigged up, fitted with huge wooden guns, being an exact replica of each so as to mislead the enemy as to our strength. A similar demonstration was made at Smyrna. The Queen Elizabeth has gone today to the Dardanelles with all the Military Commandants, to show them around, so that they can get an idea of the Country they have to lead their men over shortly. They return tonight.
April 13th. Lemnos Is.
All Ships here (nearly 100) have been practising landing Troops today on this Island. This is being done in small boats, barges etc & will be done in the same way at the Dardanelles I took a photograph of the Indian Troops.
Went over on Lemnos Island today & took a photograph of the Troops that are encamped. The Civilian population of the Island is 27,500. & there are about 2000 Soldiers there preparing for the attack
on the Dardanelles. All Troops again practised landing from the Troopships today, (they do so everyday),. We put all their Gear into the barges, including Guns & Mules & some days they land on the Island & on others just get all the gear & themselves into the boats & then straight aboard again. It is splendid & necessary practice however. The first day it started it took our men seven to nine minutes to get down a Jacobs ladder & fill a boat holding 36 men, now they can do it in 2 mins 40 secs, so the practice is valuable, especially as they will have to disembark under rifle fire. There are about 130,000 men on Troopships here in the Bay & on the Island encamped.The French & British on the latter are building weatherboard houses & also making roads & culverts. May be its for practice, but I daresay they will use this Island for some time yet.
We have been in this Bay now for 11 days April 8th to 18th & still no sign
of departure. We get a piece of war news now & again signalled from the Queen Elizabeth at night. One of the Trawlers used in dragging for mines up in the Dardanelles was alongside of us today. She has got several holes in her above the water line where the Turkish batteries on the shore there shelled them. Most of the chaps on this one are volunteers from the Queen Elizabeth. The man who was at the wheel on one occasion up there, showed me where a bullet passed through the woodwork in the wheel he was steering with.
The Cook also put his head through a port to see what the noise was about & a bullet passed through his neck.
Moral – Never be inquisitive.
This bay is practically full of Destroyers, Submarines & Battleships & according to two Circulars issued to Troops, one by Sir Ian Hamilton & another by General Birdwood, it looks as if we will be on the move pretty shortly.
April 23rd The following are copies of the Force orders referred to above.
21st April 1915
Soldiers of France and of the King! Before us lies an adventure unpredecented in Modern war. Together with our Comrades of the Fleet we are about to force a landing upon an open beach in face of positions which have been vaunted by our enemies as impregnable. The landing will be made good by the help of God & the Navy: the positions will be stormed and the war brought one step nearer to a glorious close.
"Remember” said Lord Kitchener when bidding adieu to your Commander, "Remember” once you set foot upon the Gallipoli Peninsula, you must fight the thing through to a finish.”
The whole world will be watching our progress. Let us prove ourselves worthy of the great feat of arms entrusted to us.
Printing Section. Med Exped Force
OFFICERS AND MEN.
In conjunction with the Navy, we are about to undertake one of the most difficult tasks any soldier can be called on to perform, and a problem which has puzzled many soldiers for years past. That we will succeed I have no doubt, simply because I know your full determination to do so. Lord Kitchener has told us that he lays special stress on the role the Army has to play in this particular operation, the success of which will be a very severe blow to the enemy, – indeed, as severe as any she could receive in France. It will go down to history to the glory of the soldiers of Australia and New Zealand. Before we start, there are one or two points which I must impress on all, and I most earnestly beg every single man to listen attentively and take these to heart.
We are going to have a real hard and rough time of it until, at all events, we have turned the enemy out of our first objective. Hard rough times none of us mind, but to get through them successfully we must always keep before us the following facts. Every possible endeavour will be made to bring up transport as often as possible; but the country whither we are bound is very difficult, and we may not be able to get our wagons any where near us for days, so men must not think their wants have been neglected if they do not get all they want. On landing it will be necessary for every individual to carry with him all his requirements in food and clothing for three days, as we may not see our transport till then. Remember then that it is essential for everyone to take the very greatest care not only of his food, but of his ammunition, the replenishment of which will be very difficult. Men are liable to throw away their food the first day out and to finish their water bottles as soon as they start marching. If you do this now, we can hardly hope for success, as unfed men cannot fight and you must make an effort to try and refrain from starting on your water bottles until quite late in the day. Once you begin drinking you cannot stop and a water bottle is very soon emptied.
Also as regards ammunition – you must not waste it by firing away indiscriminately at no target. The time will come when we shall find the enemy in well entrenched positions from which we shall have to turn them out, when all our ammunition will be required; and remember,
Concealment whenever possible,
Covering fire always,
Control of fire and control of your men,
Communications never to be neglected.
Have been exceedingly busy these last two days in obtaining fresh provisions from the store Ships in the Bay. As nearly all Troopships are now beginning to run out of supplies etc, its hard work to obtain any & one is liable to get killed in the crush.
There is going to be some great work in this attack on the Dardanelles & I suppose everyone in Australia will know all
about it, before I return. It is being a hard job to hold these Australian Soldiers back as they are all just longing to get busy on those Germanised Turks & I guess it will be good bye Turkey when they do. The general opinion here appears to be, that it was a mistake for the Navy to take this job on at first, without Military aid, however they all feel confident that it will be successfully accomplished this time, although it is very probable that the job will be harder now, than it was three months ago. Even as I write our Military Commandant is explaining to the Indian Soubrador (he is the Indian Officer in charge & ranks as an Indian Captain), how, when we take the Peninsula our store Ship will proceed into a Bay where they will be able to pick up fresh supplies. All the Military Officers & men on all the Ships are now busy packing their guns & having gun carriages etc got ready for a quick landing on Gallipoli. One does not realise the extent of these operations until you get around among the various Ships & see what is going on, especially on the Headquarters Ships, (Military, "Minnewaska” and Navy "Arcadian”) acting under advice from the Rear Admiral on the Queen Elizabeth. There is bustle the whole time, night & day & it is no infrequent occurrence for a Launch or Tug boat to come alongside a Ship at 2 or 3 a.m. & wake the Captain or the Military Commandant & give them some new instructions.
All day yesterday a big 3 funnel Destroyer
was shifting Troops from the Transports on to the Queen Elizabeth & the other Battleships & Cruisers that are here, so I suppose we will be on the move shortly.
April 24th 8.30 a.m. Mudros Bay
I got a most pleasant surprise this a.m. at breakfast. The Captain handed me a letter from home & it is the first I have received since leaving Australia. As we have just got instructions to depart for the Dardanelles in 3 hours time, I am very pleased, especially as it contains good advice. Had a few Australian Soldiers aboard last night & we gave them a real good time.
11.40 a.m. Left Anchorage in the Bay & are now bound to the North West corner of Lemnos Island, where we will arrive at 4 p.m. & anchor till 11 p.m. when we proceed to the Dardanelles arriving at daylight & we then start the business of getting our Troops, Horses & Guns etc ashore on the open beach of the Gallipoli Peninsula, by means of Lighters barges etc.
Anchored at the N.W. end of Lemnos Island 4.30 p.m. There are twelve Troopships at this spot at present & 5 Men’ o’ War. At 11 p.m. tonight we are to put all lights out & proceed to an allotted anchorage off the Gallipoli Peninsula, where we have got to arrive at 5 a.m. on Sunday April 25th. Meanwhile, from 3 to 5 a.m., the Battleships are to land 1500 men, then 7 Destroyers (Beagle, Bulldog, Foxhound, Scourge, Colne, Cheliner & Ribble) rush in & land 400 men each & four Troopships, ourselves
being one, land a section each, & by 6 a.m. there are to be 6000 British Soldiers on Turkish soil. At 4 a.m. several Ships are to make "feint” attempts at landing, in various parts & then whilst the enemy are confused at which point the strength is to be & the landing to take place, we & 3 other Ships ship in & get our men on shore at a point already specified. I presume the bombardment of the Turkish Forts will also commence about day break by our Battleships. I guess it will be "some” sight tomorrow, I am going to arise at 4 a.m. & get busy, doing my little bit of this huge operation. What a surprise the Turks are going to get & by pretty authentic accounts there are also 40,000 Germans there too. The "Queen Elizabeth” is here just at present but I suppose she will get away with the other Battleships so as to arrive there before daylight. I have never felt so happy as I do just at present, since I’ve been away from Australia, at the thoughts of getting in amongst it. While we are landing, Battleships from behind us, will be bombarding the Turks, but the trouble is that the enemy have concealed guns everywhere. Tonight the 4th Officer & I made about 15 medals with those tags out of Capstan Cigarettes tied with ribbon & we got a lot of the Sihks lined up & we picked them out & presented them with one each, at the same time mentioning some act of bravery that they had (in our minds) done.
Then they saluted, shook hands with us & fell back into the ranks again. It created great amusement & the Indians were as proud of their decorations as it is possible to be.
11.30 p.m. April 24th
Heaved up anchor & with all lights out proceeded on our way to the Gallipoli Peninsula. It is a glorious night, calm & peaceful.
Presently we are joined by other Troopships and Men ’o ’War all gliding quietly, slowly, through the night. Now we open out into a clear stretch of ocean and immediately is revealed, stretching away as far as one can see through powerful night glasses, Ship upon Ship of living freight & what a magnificent sight it is. As the moon breaks through the clouds, one sees, streaming in two-deep, close in each others wake, 41 Transports, (Osmanieh, Ionian, Malda, Dvanah, Suffolk, Nizam, Pera, Haida Pasha, Lake Michigan, Hessen, City of Benares, Novian, Derfflinger, Minnewaska, Mashobra, Galeka, Clan McGillivray, Indian, Atlantian, Karoo, Cardiganshire, Itria, Armidale, Achaia, Itonus, Katuna, Lutzow, Goslar, Annaberg, Seang Bee, Australind, Seang Choon, Californian, Ascot, Surada, Sudmark, Anglo Egyptian, Hindoo, Clan McQuorcodale, Hymettus, Saldhanha) all bearing those happy sons of Australia & New Zealand on a mission which God has destined them to fulfil. On the outside, ever vigilant, we are guarded by His Majesty’s Ships, London, Majestic, Triumph, Prince of Wales, Queen, Bacchante, and
the Destroyers Beagle, Bulldog, Usk, Ribble, Foxhound, Scourge, & Colne.
As we draw closer to the foes territory, some of the Battleships & the 7 Destroyers increase their speed & forge ahead, the former to take up their allotted positions off the Peninsula & the latter to land the 400 Soldiers which they each carry, then we and three other Transports increase speed in order to take up our positions at the allotted time (each Ship has a specified time to take up their position & there must be no bungling). We have on board the 26th Indian Mountain Battery, which is the only Gun Regiment in this first landing & it is necessary that they be landed as quickly as possible, in order to consolidate the positions taken by the Infantry which the Destroyers land.
4.30 a.m. Arrived off the Peninsula & proceeded to our allotted berth. Just as we go up near the bows of the Battleship "Queen” someone on that ship yelled out "Go astern quick & get out of it”, they had hardly spoken when they let go two shots from two 12 inch guns, on to a Turkish Battery they had discovered on shore not a quarter of a mile from us. The battery replied & then other Warships joined in, firing right over us & that battery appeared to be silenced. The Queen Elizabeth has all her 15 inch guns trained on it too, but so far has not fired. It is just breaking dawn & shrapnel is bursting all along the beach where our boys
are landing. The two shots from the Queen were the first fired, but now the rifle & machine gun fire is incessant.
5.30 a.m. The sun is just rising behind Gaba Tepe where our men landed & with Shrapnel & warship shells bursting all along the ridges of the hills the sight is weirdly beautiful, yet hellish.
Two Aeroplanes are now flying around us & the baloon Ship is about to fly its captive baloon in order to get a knowledge of the Turks positions. There are also numerous Battleships, Destroyers & Submarines here, however "cold feet” has not yet set in. It is now nearly 6 oclock & we are returning to land our Mountain Battery.
8.40 a.m. Still landing our Troops & the other Ships are doing likewise. There is one continual stream of small craft now plying backwards & forwards from Troopship to beach, now & again shells explode in the water or above their heads, but no notice is taken. The Destroyers are also rushing in with men & tearing around at an enormous speed. It was a great sight to see the Indian Mountain Battery, that we landed, rush the hill in front of them. The barges with the guns & mules in had no sooner touched the beach, than they were hooked ashore, the mules made fast to the guns & with one fiendish yell they raced for the top, the Indians keeping yelling all the way up. Within 7 minutes of landing the guns were firing on the enemy. There is a Fort on a ridge which has been destroyed, but there is still one gun just to the left of it & well covered, which
is still firing along the beach where our boys are landing.
The "Bacchante” and the "Triumph” have just gone in close, one on each side of the ridge behind which this gun is sheltered & are pouring shells up the Valley on to it.
A mine sweeper just brought a horse barge alongside of us & one of the crew has a phonograph playing "My little grey home in the west”
Where we are now lying shells were falling thick an hour ago & that one gun is still firing, some of the shots falling a few hundred yards away. Our Warships are still endeavouring to silence it. I took a photograph of a Destroyer, with as a background the destroyed fort. Also took one of the fort with the Bacchante & Queen shelling it. The name of the point where the fort was is Gaba Tepe. They are still banging away so I must go & have another look.
8.50 a.m. The Ships are just firing an occasional shot now, but the rifle & machine gun fire on shore is just terrific & continuous.
9 a.m. The firing now seems to have ceased & the Major in Command (while I write the firing starts again in dead earnest), was just saying that the Australian 9th 10th 11th & 12th Battalions have taken an important hill.
Good old Australia – Jove just listen to that firing. Let us hope our casualties are few.
A shell just went right over our heads, over the midships part of the vessel & landed about 50 yards the other side of us. There were 10 of us watching proceedings etc just aft of my cabin when it tore over with a screeching sound & everybody ducked low, but it landed about 50 yards clear of us. Several of us have lumps on our foreheads from bumping the deck. They are landing shells right in amongst us now. Three have gone over the Cardiganshire, one just missed the H.M.S. Queen whilst another landed right against the bows of a destroyer, the sailors looking causally over the side to see if it had done any damage.
All of the other ships have got out of range now & we are the only one left where the shells are falling. We must finish landing our Mountain Battery before we move out. The Bacchante is still letting the enemy have a few 9.2 shells & there have been no shells fall near us for 10 minutes, but just listen to the terrible fire on the land.
Nothing of a real startling nature has happened during the last hour, except that the Warships keep up an incessant fire to the shore. We can see the shots land each time & they do cut up the ground too. Have been about the deck all the morning & gave a hand landing the Battery. The rifle fire seems to be getting further away, so that should denote that our boys are advancing. A good many
of them, got cut up early this morning & there are a lot of wounded from both sides on the beach. Unfortunately, the Officers of our men, had a terribly hard job to keep our fellows back & they fired early this morning, whilst still in the boats, without instructions.
The Ships here now include the London, Queen Elizabeth, Majestic, Prince of Wales, The Queen, Bacchante & a few Destroyers.
A report just came off that there are only one or two of our chaps killed but a goodly number of wounded. One of the horse punts were sunk just as it was leaving the beach after landing its load. No one was killed, but the few sailors in it got a ducking. Shrapnel shell caused it.
1.30 p.m. Have landed the balance of A Section of the Mountain Battery, & have been instructed to get out to an anchorage off Imbros Island which is a Greek possession 10 miles further away.
I have been wishing we would remain where we were, as it was a bonzer view although we were not altogether "free from danger”.
Latest reports state that our boys are doing grand & have captured several Turks & 2 German Officers, Our landing is one of four which took place simultaneously & I believe the idea is to converge on one point & endeavour at the same time to cut the enemy off. Besides these landings there were several "feint” attempts
in order to mislead the enemy.
Great amusement is being caused on board here by the various anecdotes of what each one did when the shell was whizzing over us. Everyone however appears to have ducked. It being a percussion shell it had to strike something
solid to explode, so had it got the funnel, near which we were standing, it may have inconvenienced us a trifle.
There is some doubt as to how this big gun was silenced. Some say that the Australian Infantry rushed the position & made the enemy retreat. While it was firing however, the Queen Elizabeth fired two 15 inch guns at them, so may be she was responsible. When one realises what is happening today, it becomes wonderful. I am sure that such a sight as this one was, early this morning, will not be seen again during my lifetime. With shrapnel bursting all over the mountains, the big warships pouring shells right up the valleys, the incessant fire of machine gun & rifle fire, & the rushing about of Soldiers as they shifted from ridge to ridge all the while heedless of comrades falling by their side, made it a weird & wonderful yet awful spectacle. One can never realise what warfare is, until you get amongst it like that. The sounds of those machine guns is hellish.
We timed the difference between the various happenings of a 12 inch gun fired from the Majestic. From the flash when the gun is fired to the time you
get the sound is 7 seconds & the shell hits at about 4 miles, 2 seconds after the sound reached us a quarter of a mile from the Ship. So the enemy gets the shell long before the sound. The Bacchante that went in close to Gaba Tepe Fort done very useful work this morning, perhaps, with the Triumph the most useful of all. They got in close & destroyed the remaining troublesome gun, sheltered behind this fort, but it took 5 hours to accomplish. Through the Telescope I could see that fort being lifted in the air & all that remained was a heaped mass of concrete, iron & Turks.
The wounds some of our chaps received this morning from shrapnel fire were terrible, but thank goodness, I understand there are not many killed.
8.30 p.m. Cannot hear any rifle firing now but the Warships keep banging at them.
April 26th 7.30 a.m.
The bombardment has been going on pretty solidly right throughout the night. Whilst lying in bed one can feel the vibration, & in the quietness you can hear ripple against Ships hull every time they pour in a broadside from the Men ’o ’War. We can see the Queen Elizabeth now pouring 15 inch shells on to the shore & the report is terrific, & it kicks up some dust too when it lands. There is a big bombardment going on further south at Cape Helies & probably there has been some severe fighting
there. Our wireless operator intercepted a wireless message from one of the Hospital Ships this morning & it stated that they had 32 dead bodies including two military & 1 Naval Officer & 400 wounded on board & were about to proceed to sea to bury the dead. As there are three other hospital ships here, of course there will be a lot on them too & there are probably 2 or 3 more at Cape Helies, so evidently our losses yesterday are pretty severe. The Lighthouse at Cape Helios was demolished last night. I daresay the enemy were using it as an observation tower.
1 p.m. Have spent all the morning on the tower of our bridge, watching the Warships fire. We can see them quite plainly from this Island, but cannot see the men on shore at all. We are awaiting instructions to go in & land the rest of our men.
6 p.m. Ten French Troopships have just arrived & by the look of them, they will have at least 2,000 men each on board so they will be a welcome addition to our men ashore. Firing is still going on solidly from the Men ‘o ’war & two of them seem to be firing right up the entrance to the Dardanelles. An Airship attached to a steamer has been with the Queen Elizabeth all day. It is flying about 200 ft in the air presumably taking observations of enemy positions. The Queen Elizabeth has just left where she has been all the afternoon north of Gaba Tepe & steamed down towards the Dardanelles. The Agamemnon then took up her place & continued to pour in shells to the shore.
8.30 p.m. All is fairly quiet now, so perhaps they are having a spell tonight.
Wireless news just came through to say that some Turkish prisoners & guns were taken & that the moral effect on our boys of the big gun fire was excellent. This was signalled from Gaba Tepe wireless station, which was erected by our Troops as soon as they landed. Just went & had a look outside & I can see Shrapnel bursting all along the hills, lighting up the sky in a wonderful manner.
April 27th (Tuesday)
The bombardment went on intermittently all last night, increasing in violence at daylight this morning. The French Troops that landed in Asia Minor, off Tenedos Island are forcing their way across the plain of Troy.
I can just imagine how the outside world must be watching with eagerness these operations. I daresay too, that they know more of it than we do here. Have been speculating how long we will be here. Perhaps they may send us away with a batch of Turkish prisoners, after we get the rest of our Troops landed. We also have the rations of our men still, as they had to carry enough with them to last three days. As today is the 3rd day no doubt they will be getting pretty hungry.
10 a.m. There are 9 Troop ships in charge of two Cruisers just making their way towards Lemnos, so perhaps they are going for more men.
The whole business has been going on very solidly all today. The Queen Elizabeth has been assisting at Gaba Tepe most of the day. Watching through a telescope
the scene is awful, you can see shells burst near a point & then see our guns reply. According to the positions we now estimate our men to be in, they are giving them back all they want & a little more. It has been raging for 3 days & nights now without a stop.
April 28th 7.50 a.m.
Have just received a heliograph signal to proceed at once to Mudros Bay. So we are now bound there. All sorts of conjectures are going on as to the reason of this sudden altering of arrangements & we are naturally a trifle worried as to what it all means, especially as we still have the rations for the men that we landed, besides having a lot of Troops still on board.
May be that other arrangements have been made for their food supply. Perhaps we are going for reinforcements as there are four other Ships & four mine sweepers off with us. Or it might be theres an enemy submarine got through. Even while we are leaving however, our Men ’o’War are bombarding them & were doing so all last night. It makes one feel as if you would like to get ashore & give a hand there.
Someone has blundered or else things have changed, most likely the former. At the above time whilst proceeding to Mudros as per instructions, the wireless operator heard a message go through to Gaba Tepe (thats where we landed our Troops) from the H.M.S. Majestic as follows, "Inform Hessen return at once to Gaba Tepe”, and Gaba Tepe replied "How shall I inform Hessen what is his call”. The Wireless
Operator then rushed up on the bridge to the Captain & told him, so he turned the ship around immediately & sent the following message to the Majestic, "Have intercepted message, returning Gaba Tepe Commander Hessen.
1.30 p.m. Arrived back at Gaba Tepe & are now anchored 120 yards astern of H.M.S. Queen. We are closest inshore of any of the Troopships, being now about half a mile from it. The Queen is firing continuously from her forward guns, whilst on the after part of her the Jack Tars are kicking a little football about – Pretty cool alright. I took a photograph of her firing. I had a look ashore through a Telescope & can plainly see our men on the mountain (thousands of them). They have big trenches dug with bomb & shrapnel proof covers over them, whilst further along the guns of the mountain battery can be seen well entrenched & every few seconds one of the guns are fired & a flash of flame bursts forth. Just ahead of them the enemy’s shrapnel keeps bursting & shells are coming right over the ridge & landing in the water near the H.M.S. Baccchante, about 500 yards ahead of us. It got too close for her & she has just shifted out. On the beach there is a mine-sweeper which the enemy sank, only the tops of her funnel & masts showing. But the most remarkable of all is the fact that a lot of Australians are in swimming. I suppose they are the night-shift for the trenches, but its pretty coolheaded
when shells are bursting on all sides of them & the Men ’o ’War are firing over their heads into the valleys. They nearly all seem to be just where we landed them so am wondering how the position is. Further south at the entrance of the Dardanelles we can see a lot of Battleships firing away & we counted 47 Transport Steamers there. There goes the Queen with another big gun, the shell makes a terrible row as it whizzes through space.
6 p.m. Just got some news regarding our doings ashore. A Staff Captain came off & had a bath & some tea with us. He told us that 1500 Australians were wounded during the first days fighting, mostly by shrapnel, & that there were not many killed. Two of the Officers (Captains Kirby & Chapman) that we landed, have been wounded, they however, previously put in some great work & their battery (26th Indian) were the means of saving the situation. He told us of some Turks who crept up on all fours in the darkness on the Sihks position (6, 10lb guns) & when they were within 15 yards the Sihks under Major Bruce, opened fire & annihilated them. They are having a lot of trouble with Turkish snipers who are entrenched in covered positions with a goodly supply of ammunition & stores. They then pick off our Officers. One sniper they captured had 2000 bullets & a fortnights rations & he used to pick off our scouts as they appeared. Our boys, however, are now well entrenched & are in a good position. Everyone speaks well of the Australians & say their bravery is remarkable. When this Staff Captain arrived he had two
Australian soldiers in the boat that brought him off, so when I heard this I got two large tins of cigarettes & went down the gangway to the boat & said, "Believe there are two Australians here” & they both stood up & I gave them a tin each. They were quite pleased believe me as cigarettes are at a premium here.
The Queen Elizabeth is doing some great shooting. A Turkish steamer full of troops was reported coming down the Dardanelles, so she got its position & firing 5 miles across the land sank it in four minutes. She also got the position of a big gun in the hills which was well entrenched & let go 3 broadsides at it & blew the ridge it was behind, away & then finished the gun. Some Germans signalled to the Men ’o ’War to cease firing the other day, but as they have been doing a good bit of that sort of thing, they didn’t mislead our men, who now have some secret signs. The second day of hostilities (Monday) was a very severe one & at one time it looked as if our boys would have to
reembark & get away, but they weathered it through & are now pretty right, but they have had no sleep for 48 hours & tonight they are being relieved by naval reserves. There is also at present landing some Territorials & shrapnel is bursting right amongst them. The Turks are evidently ignoring the entrenched men & are endeavouring to prevent more from landing, but its no use, we are going to do it. This afternoon the Warships allowed the enemy to get a gun almost mounted on a
ridge to the north of Gaba Tepe. Then the Prince of Wales shifted position, so as to get behind the ridge & then blew the whole lot to smithereens. We were watching this very intently through a telescope.
The shells that fell around us & the one that went over us on Sunday, have been found to have been from the German Warship, "Goeben”, which has 12 inch guns.
10 p.m. All had been quiet for an hour, no firing at all & I had just come down from the bridge when it started to rain. This must have been a signal for an attack. They started hammering away at a great bat, shrapnel bursting every where & a roar of rifles. However it only lasted about 10 minutes & everything has been quiet for half an hour. A message went through to the Hospital ship near us just as it finished to say "Prepare four berths”, so presume we have four wounded. I feel sorry for those poor chaps over there in the trenches as it is now raining & a strong wind is blowing making it deadly cold. The weather for the last four days has been beautiful though. One of the Warships has a searchlight each side of our position on the peninsula, so that it will be impossible for the enemy to sneak across & make a surprise attack.
April 29th 7 a.m.
Just got news that an attack by the Turks last night was repulsed with heavy loss to them.
Six big shells just burst near two of our Warships, one seemed to strike the bow of the Triumph & a great sheet of water spouted high in the air. Two others went right over her, but its remarkable the luck
they have had this last few days. We are only 150 yards from all this, but I suppose the Warships are better game. I wanted to get a photograph of one bursting too. I always was unlucky though.
1 p.m. Firing has continued steadily all the morning, both from the Warships & the land forces, but the Turks dont seem to be using any shrapnel. They are firing plenty of bullets & the Chief Officer & a Sailor of a Tug, that took some of our Provisions etc in during the morning were wounded whilst landing them. Bullets are falling like peas over there. We are sending in three more "lighters” full now & I was going ashore to get a photograph or two but "cold feet” has set in. Capt Kirby whom we landed with the 26th Mountain Battery, was wounded in the temple & the top of the head on the first day. They found him directing the operations of his battery in a dazed condition & at once took him to the hospital ship. They bandaged his head & whilst they were busy shortly afterwards he slipped in one of the boats that was returning & rejoined his men. He was aboard here today with his head bandaged, but did not mention anything of this, which had been told us by Major Bruce his Commandant. They are soldiers these Britishers.
The H.M.S. Prince of Wales is busy now keeping the Turks from becoming despondent.
5 p.m. Have just been witnessing a grand & stirring battle. Apparently at a signal five Battleships (Queen, Prince of Wales, London, Bacchante & Queen Elizabeth)
started firing broadsides ashore, whilst the Troops over there also became very active. Shrapnel is bursting all around the hills & the big shells from the ships are tearing up the ground at the same time, whilst the noise is just terrific. A Turkish village behind the hills is also burning & huge clouds of smoke are rising high in the air. I got a photograph of this with 3 Men ’o ’War firing & Gaba Tepe demolished fort just ahead of them. There is also an Aeroplane circling over. They are still going strong, so I must go & have another look.
5.30 p.m. A steam pinnace just went past us with 5 wounded soldiers in, on their way to the hospital ship. The Galeka, Lutzow, & Derfflinger are now auxillary hospital ships & there appears to be wounded going to them all day. Had a look through a telescope at our boys in the trenches this afternoon & could see them quite plainly lying down. There are two rows of our Trenches visible, whilst horses are tethered just behind them in a cleft in the hill. Could also see other soldiers, taking tea up to those in the trenches, up along a small road they have made from the base. I saw our artillery advance about 50 yards from their positions & open fire. It is a sight that has to be seen to be realised. The Turkish village of Maidos is still burning & shows out great in the darkness. Have been told that our men are going to make an attack tonight & expect to advance considerably.
10 p.m. Can now hear the rifles going for all they are worth & it sounds like a million
men chopping wood. There goes two Warships guns, so perhaps they are starting that attack now.
There is a Tug lying alongside of us & the Officer in charge of her told me that the Australian Submarine A.E.2. had got through to the Bosphorous & sunk a Turkish Battleship. Hope that it is correct.
Capt Kirby told us that the Australians got a bit out of hand for a start & rushed wildly up the hill & chased the Turks out of two lines of trenches with the bayonet, but owing to the Turkish batteries then opening fire on them with shrapnel, a lot were killed & wounded that may have been avoided. On another occasion they rushed the Turks with the bayonet & drove them out of a position, but followed too far & our Men ’O ’War thinking they were Turks, opened fire & killed & wounded a lot before they could be stopped.
10.50 p.m. The Bacchante just fired ten shots right where her searchlights are fixed each night, so evidently some Turks are prowling around. I scarcely like going to bed tonight, but I have left word with the Officer on watch to call me if this attack starts.
The village is still burning peacefully.
April 30th 9 a.m. The attack by our men did not take place last night & everything was fairly quiet till 5 oclock this morning when the Prince of Wales fired 5 shots from her 12 inch guns & rattled us considerably, as we are right alongside of
her. Just saw Amethyst (light Cruiser) pass. That is the one that brought the Germans out in the Heligoland fight.
Just had a look through a telescope at our men ashore. It is a wonderful scene on the hill that one gazes upon. Out of a barren beach & a rugged hill, they have built a pier with stones found there & some piles from a store ship. This is perfectly level on top & the small boats go alongside. The roads (all newly made) lead from it to our Trenches. Almost the whole time are scores of soldiers going backwards & forwards along them. Some are taking a billy of hot cocoa & food to the men in the trenches, some with ammunition whilst others are going to releive & some are returning to rest. It is one continual scene of animation. Around the base they have built wooden slabbed huts with iron roof’s & green bushes piled over them. They are practically buried in these, just having room to get in & out. When shrapnel starts bursting where the men are working they rush into these & when its clear again, out they come & start work again.
2 p.m. Major Bruce who landed in charge of the 26th Indian Mountain Battery, had lunch with us today & he tells quite a stirring tale of the first days landing. When our chaps first got ashore they gave a yell & charged wildly up the hill. The Turks apparently scared by the noise made off & the 1st & 2nd lines of Trenches were carried. The major says that had the Turks stayed in their trenches, they
would have taken a good deal of shifting as their trenches were 4 ft 6 inches deep & splendidly positioned. But I guess the sight of those bayonets was too much for them. As it was the Australians got pretty severely dealt with & there were 300 dead on the beach in the first attempt. It appears that when the shrapnel started to fly the Australians became a bit demoralised & in the afternoon they started to retreat without orders, having lost most of their Officers by sniping.
Later in the evening things got very bad as the Turks became reinforced, & General Bridges informed General Birdwood that it was impossible to hold on to the positions & unless he could reinforce him, would advise re-embarking. The latter replied that they must hold on at all cost. The Infantry were then informed that they must fight to the last & they then fought on grandly & held out, but at a pretty severe cost, until they got entrenched, & now they are as comfortable as it is possible to be under such circumstances.
The Major says they are splendid soldiers & are fighting beautifully, being excellent at picking off snipers & have captured many. There have been some awful atrocities too committed by the Turks. On the beach, drifted up in front of the Turks position, are two boats with dead Australians in & owing to being exposed to fire they cannot be got at.
Tomorrow the Australians are going to take another position. They are awaiting the arrival of the Gurkhas, an Indian Regiment that should
be here tonight. It may seem strange, but our front is only four hundred yards away from the Turks front line & sometimes the Germans (posing as Britishers, sing out to our chaps to cease firing as some of our men are arriving. Of course these Germans are dressed in Khaki the same as a British Officer, & show great daring in getting in our lines. Several have been caught & now every British Officer in the ranks is questioned now & again as to the name of his Regiment, Officer Commanding & so on, because these Germans are very smart & have a lot of information about the formation of our Regiments etc. Of course when one says "I vos English” it is all up & one was bayoneted the other day by some Australians, who found him in their ranks & questioned him on account of hearing him say "vos”. Our boys were right too & they didn’t waste much time on him. One German Officer even went so far as to address a note in person to the Commanding Officer of some of our Troops holding a position & instructing them to vacate it, but the ruse was discovered just in time. Major Bruce had a bullet pass over his finger & take a piece out of the top of it. He was showing it to us today & I said, "by jove that was a narrow escape”, he replied quite unconcernedly "Yes it might have broken my finger”.
Up to date we have had 3,500 casualties out of something over 30,000 men landed here at Gaba Tepe. That is considered to be most satisfactory, taken into consideration the open beach on which they had to land. Of course we have some each day & I
am not aware of the casualties further up at Cape Helles, but presume they were heavy. The landing up there was a hellish affair. The "River Clyde” a 3000 ton Steamer was run ashore with 2000 men in, in order to expedite their landing. It is said that she took the ground further north than was intended right under Seddul Bahr fort & not one man out of the first batch of about 200 reached the shore. It was then decided to abandon the attempt for the present & the remaining men stayed huddled up in the tween decks the whole day, whilst a rain of bullets swept her decks the whole time. It is said that wonderful & self sacrificing acts of valour were performed by our men throughout that trial. At night the landing was accomplished with small losses.
3 p.m. Another big shell just fell in the water about 200 yards astern of us, so I guess the Goeben must be having a go across from the Dardanelles.
11 p.m. It is now a beautiful night & everything is still, except the continuous rifle fire on the shore, the occasional bursting of shrapnel on the hills, showing up vividly in the darkness & now & again the long rolling sound of the Warships guns as they reverberate up the valleys. One can hear the long swish of the shell until it finds a bed in the turf, let us hope amongst some of the enemy. Even the little village of Maidos is still burning peacefully. Its not often you see one burn so peacefully.
May 1st (saturday)
Had to get up very early this morning on account of the noise. The Prince of Wales right against us started firing her 12 inch guns & anyone who sleeps through that is suspected of not being alive. I think the Turks must have made an attack, as a terrible lot of shrapnel burst over our positions. There was also 14 shells burst in the water just in front of the Prince of Wales & as they were pretty big ones they are evidently from the Goeben. This happens nearly every morning early & she (the Goeben) then gets back out of range. Almost as soon as these shells sink a Trawler goes & rakes them up, so as to find out whether they are from a field gun, fort or Warship & to get the range if possible. The boys on shore are rattling away merrily.
10 p.m. The battle is still going strong & seven Launches have been running backwards & forwards the whole day. They pass quite close to us & you can see the wounded quite plainly. Some are able to sit up having received scalp wounds & some have their arms in slings, whilst a lot are laying down on stretchers. The Malda has now been turned into a hospital ship for them too.
May 2nd (Sunday) The Lieut in charge of a Naval Tug has breakfast with us this morning & he told us that our men made a determined attack at two oclock this morning & occupied another ridge & also that the position is very satisfactory. There are heaps of dead Turks on the hills & they are piled up one on top of another & as they have been in the sun for a few days, it is rather unpleasant.
He said that he only got 2 hours sleep for the first four days, & also showed us where a bullet passed right through his coat at the shoulder. Our casualties on the whole Peninsula up to May 1st have been 7,000, but the majority are wounded & only slightly, mostly head wounds from shrapnel. This is much lower than had been expected. We are landing reinforcements from all the Troopships the whole time. Seven ships went away this morning to Alexandria & some that previously went, arrived back last night with more men.
We have quite a lot of visits from Military Officers, who come aboard & have a good hot salt bath & a square meal. We also always give them, tinned fruit, sandwiches & cigarettes etc to take away with them & we are getting quite popular as a recuperating rendezvous. There are twenty Australian gunners now taken into the 26th Indian Mountain Battey in place of wounded sihks. It is good to hear of the bravery being displayed by the Australians & they are also making a great showing as scouts, in getting through bushy & mountainous country & sniping.
8 p.m. It was arranged that another position was to be taken at 7.30 p.m. today so at 7.15 seven of our Battleships started a fusilade of the Turkish trenches, letting go broadside after broadside & tearing up the hill. It was the biggest attack on any one position, by Warships since we have been here.
At 7.30 they ceased fir & the guns & rifles ashore started more merrily & they are still going strongly. Probably our boys
are using the bayonet on them ere this.
A lot of Turkish wounded were taken to our Hospital ship this afternoon & they were very ill clad, but they were apparently well provided for as regards food, for in some of their trenches taken our men found quite a lot of good tinned meats & vegetables all made in Germany. Our boys say they were glad to get these too as their food for the past three weeks had consisted of bully beef & biscuits. Plenty of water can be got too by digging small wells where there are natural springs & no chance of it therefore being poisoned.
10.30 p.m. The fighting ashore now is terrific & by the sounds & appearances our fellows have advanced. The whole Turkish positions are lit up by our Warships on each side & therefore nearly all they do can be seen. The Majestic just near us is firing her 12 inch guns the whole time.
Our Troops advanced considerably during last night, inflicting heavy losses, whilst our own were slight.
11 a.m. Seven big shells just fell in amongst the Transport steamers, going very close to some of them. They all got their anchors up & shifted back a bit. We shifted at seven this morning alongside of a water ship to take in water. We were just behind the others but they are again behind us now.
3 p.m. Just had some excitement. I was sitting in my office writing when I heard suspicious sounds. On going outside I saw very high up a German Aeroplane. It dropped two bombs right near our balloon ship & the ship then moved away. Our anti aircraft guns
on the Warships then got busy & fired about ten shots at it. They burst all round it but could not stop its progress. That is the first enemy aeroplane we have seen, but our own two are always cruising around. The Queen Elizabeth is now firing her big guns at something on shore.
11.30 p.m. Have had several Australian Soldiers on board this evening. They mostly come for cigarettes & tobacco as none of the ships here except us have any. They told us some great tales of deeds done ashore. We suffered a bit of a reverse last night. Our men first of all took two rows of trenches & they tried to get some more, but mysteriously the Turks were reinforced & drove them back & they lost the two rows of Trenches they had taken & it is said that we had 2,000 casualties. Other reports say that our losses were not so heavy & that both the wings advanced whilst only the centre was driven back. It is agreed however that we lost fairly heavily. I believe they are not going to try & advance again until heavy reinforcements arrive. A big batch of Kitcheners new army is expected here within two or three days. Our men tell some stirring tales. One Irishman (Paddy Ryan) of the 3rd Aust Infantry Brigade, had a big sward, bent like a scythe & on board the ship he had been sharpening it up every day, the whole while swearing vengeance on the Turks. When they were landing on the first day in the first attack at dawn, they lost all their Officers, & this chap threw his rifle away & yelled to the rest "Come on boys,” at em.” & they charged the hill with fixed bayonets,
Ryan only having his sword. The first Turk he came to he was so excited that he forgot to use the sword, but grappled with the Turks throat & left him for dead. He then continued fighting for two days, when he was wounded & taken on board the hospital ship Dongala, where he is now getting on well. Some of the soldiers looking after supplies etc all day, get a rifle at night, without permission & go sniping & think its great fun.
One Division were in the trenches four days, having refused to be releived. They said we have been waiting for this for nearly nine months now, & we are going to have it while we have the chance. Several have been killed in daring attempts to rescue wounded.
Last night was practically quiet, but at daylight this morning big shells started to fall all around the Transports, & shrapnel burst over several. We had 5 or 6 fall very close to us, so we decided to back out a bit. All the Transports have been lying close inshore for over a week, now we have to shift further back, so I don’t like the signs. Perhaps that Aeroplane got our range yesterday. It is a hard job to keep at writing because every few minutes something is happening. Either a baloon is about to arise, an aeroplane is sighted, the Warships start banging away, or there is an artillery advance ashore or else shrapnel starts bursting among us, & someone calls out, "here she is”, "look at this one”, "theres Lizzie again” or some such similar terms & one just has to go & have a look. Already my work is a month behind, but I suppose one cannot watch a war & work too.
3 p.m. (May 4th) Our late 2nd Officer who was taken off this Ship in Mudros Bay, to take charge of a Tug for the Admiralty, doing work in the landing of Troops at Cape Helies was aboard here just now. He has had & seen some terrible experiences up there. In the landing on the 25th when the River Clyde was run ashore in order to make a landing stage, he witnessed the annihilation of the men who attempted with great heroism to get ashore, under the withering fire of a fort. Later on at this spot, from the Ship to the shore, he saw through the clear waters of the Meditteranean, the poor chaps who had been killed. The weight of their equipment on their backs held them down. Some of our wounded are coming off in a dreadful condition, as the enemy are using dum dum bullets which makes a large open wound.
One English soldier had his leg blown away at the knee & whilst he was being brought in by stretcher bearers they were shot, but he was rescued by others & was quite cheerful, his only worry being for the two poor chaps, with red crosses on their arms, who were shot whilst rescuing him.
Some of the atrocities the Turks are committing are dastardly & our chaps will not take prisoners now. 200 Turks dropped their arms & ran towards our Trenches hands up, but they were mowed down. This is a frequent occurrence & it is said that they are full up of fighting, but their German Masters make them stick on & have taught them that the Australians are cannibals.
The Turks losses at Cape Helies have been very heavy, exceeding ours it is said. They do not bury their dead & this has to be done by our men. The poor Marines, who were landed by the Navy, during their lone hand attempt were horribly tortured.
May 5th 7 a.m.
Our usual morning shells have just fallen. It is most remarkable this, because it only happens every morning early & then we get no more all day. The enemy must bring up a gun somewhere, during the night, fire a few shots & then get it away before they are discovered. So far they have only hit 2 Transports, the Arcadian & the Remembrance, two men being killed & 2 wounded on the latter, whilst one was wounded on the former. There have been a lot of narrow escapes amongst us though.
Noon. The Sudmark a German ship captured in Alexandria & belonging to the same Company as this one & now being used as a Transport is alongside of us getting water. She has Australian Army Service Corps on board. They were very glad to get alongside of us too as they have had nothing to smoke & very little to eat, except bully & biscuits, for a fortnight. We however are on that ourselves, so cant do much in the eating line for them, but can appease their nicotine famine. Suppose we will all muddle through somehow.
May 7th. The Novian came alongside of us today to get water. There are Australian Troops on there & they were very glad to get on board of us, as they have no Canteen on their Ship. It is of some interest to us to meet some of the boys from our way too. A Launch was alongside of us this morning on their way to the headquarters ship with a Turkish Officer taken prisoner. He was very well dressed, having putties, good boots uniform & overcoat. He did not appear to take much interest in the proceedings however. I offered to buy him as a curio but he wasn’t for sale. It appears that 12 of them rushed into our Trenches & surrendered. 11 of them accidently ? got shot this one may be useful to get some information out of. There is a big battle going on at Cape Helles & I understand that a lot depends on it, because the boys at that end are trying to join up with those here & if they do, it will be good bye Gallipoli
Had some excitement on board at 6.30 tonight. We were skipping on deck & there were about 15 of us assembled, when an Aeroplane was sighted at an enormous height. We could not make sure whether it was ours or the enemy’s & we were craning our necks to see. When it was right over us, they dropped two bombs & they fell into the water 20 ft astern of us & exploded, throwing water high in the air. Our Warships then opened fire on it & they turned around & made off, none of the shots reaching it on account of its height. Presume they saw us two ships together & reckoned we were a good target.
May 8th Received orders at noon to proceed close inshore & take on wounded horses & mules. Simultaneously a Veterinary Officer & 9 men boarded us. Whilst we were loading them a Captain from the H.M.S. Queen, the Flagship, came over in a launch & told us we were too close in & to move out a bit.
We started to move & when 300 yards away two big shells dropped right on the spot which we had just left. The enemy evidently saw us a bit close in & got our range. We are too lucky altogether.
Some of the animals we are getting are badly wounded, mostly caused by shrapnel. One has bullet right in the centre of his forehead but doesn’t seem to be terribly inconvenienced. A lot of these Mules (the majority it is said) were wounded yesterday & the day before. It is thought that the enemy still have a concealed gun behind Gaba Tepe point which controls the beach where our landings are made. A Warship has one side of this point well watched whilst our Troops keep an eye on the other. They will get starved our eventually. News has just come from Cape Helies that our boys there are advancing steadily. The Troops here have been very quiet today: Just waiting. The hill over there looks like a Township now & all Kaiser Bills army couldn’t make them let go.
May 9th (Sunday) Witnessed a Church Parade on H.M.S. Queen this morning. The band played something religious & then a couple of waltzes, whilst the boys in blue doubled along the deck. It looked fine & was quite a treat, the worst of it was that they fired a couple of guns whilst it was on just to let you know that its work first with the Navy.
May 10th (Monday) Very quiet day today, just the usual few shells from the Warships & a steady rifle fire on shore all day. Had some excitement at 4 pm though. The wireless operator rushed in to my room & said "come on theres going to be a fight in the air. Sure enough, just discernable was a German aeroplane coming towards us & one of our own making to it. When they got fairly close (I suppose it would be about half a mile), the German turned & made off, then our chap turned, but the German started to come back & ours then wheeled around & made for him. The enemy however then made off & disappeared. The Britisher then flew around there for awhile but there was no reappearance of the German. We were quite disappointed. Every ship one looked at, all hands were on deck craning to see what would happen.
We are now taking in water from the Water ship & presumably we will supply other ships. They also put 100 live sheep on us today, so evidently we are booked to stay. A very heavy & continuous bombardment by Warships has been raging all the afternoon & it is still going strongly at 8 p.m. The firing on shore is also terrific & it is rumoured that our men at Cape Helies have had a success & their joining up with the Australians here is imminent, so I guess the Turks are getting slightly battered about tonight.
May 12th Fourteen Transport steamers left here (Gaba Tepe) this morning & 6 tonight. Do not know where they are bound for. We are sending some letters down to Port Said with a water ship that is going there for supplies. We got word at 6 p.m. to be ready to proceed at any time tonight. It was a confidential report to the Master from the Admiralty as a precaution. We understand that there are German submarines around in the Midetteranean or Aegaen Seas, hence we may have to get somewhere more safe. The Queen Elizabeth just passed by & she looked fine. It was an amusing sight in some senses as she went by. She looked a huge, powerful monster & trailing about 200 yards astern of her was a small Destroyer which looked like a pup following its parent. Everywhere she goes this Destroyer follows.
There is a terrific bombardment going on at Cape Helies now & one can see shrapnel everywhere. The pictures hung in my room are shaking the whole time & we are six miles north of them.
Presume the Turks are getting driven down this way, so that our Troops can join up & cut them off. Got some English papers today dated April 18th & nearly everything in it was new to us. We were quite surprised to learn that the Heavy weight boxing Championship had returned to the white race. We got a wireless through today about the capture of the Australian submarine A.E.2 in the Sea of Marmona, & about a Turkish Army Corps that tried to advance under cover of a Warship & were completely annihilated. The audacity.
May 13th Firing went on pretty solidly all day today. We got news that the H.M.S. Goliath was sunk a Turkish Torpedo boat, at Cape Helies. It was also reported that the Turks sank her with our own A.E.2. that they captured.
8 p.m. A patrol boat just came alongside of us with some cheerful news. All the officer said was, "Admiral requests that you put all lights out, expect enemy submarine attack. Good night. Good luck to you.” The Captain then got our men busy preparing for it.
May 14th Still afloat anyhow. Our Destroyers were up & down all night, & the baloon is up high this morning, they can see a long way down in the water from a height, for a radius of several miles.
10 a.m. Got orders to proceed to Imbros Island and anchor there.
10 p.m. Nearly all vessels that are not immediately required are here in this Bay at Imbros. Besides Transports there are three Men ’o ’War, the baloon ship, & the Aeroplane ship. A seaplane that had been out flying returned just before dark & it looked fine as it alighted on the water, skimming along at a fast rate. There are two Destroyers patrolling the entrance here, so I reckon we are pretty safe. The report is that there are 5 German Submarines about. One of them got "had” in Mudros Bay. We have got an old barge done up like a Battleship with canvas funnels & wooden guns & other extras to look like the H.M.S. Tiger & a German Submarine put three Torpedoes into it & sank it. As torpedoes cost a lot of money, they lost
slightly on that. Even the old watchman got ashore safely. Suppose the Germans will publish "Another German victory big Battleship sunk”
May 15th One of our wounded mules died last night, so we put out to sea to bury him. On our return we got aground & just at present are endeavouring to get off. The Veterinary Officer here performs operations on the Mules daily & has got quite a number of shrapnel bullets, pieces of shell etc. One piece he extracted weighed 6ozs.
1 p.m. Have managed to get afloat again after two hours work.
May 16th (Sunday) Today has been a beautiful day, real N.S.W. spring weather. We went in for a swim this morning & enjoyed it very much. It gets a bit tiresome knocking around a ship & never touching land, & as it is now six weeks since we were last ashore, we all would like a change.
During the afternoon the headquarters ship (on board which is Sir Ian Hamilton) the S.S. Arcadian, played some music & they have a fine band too. It made me imagine I was watching a band recital in Wynyard Square.
May 18th. 8 p.m. We are now bound for Alexandria having said Au Revoir to the Gallipoli Peninsula at 2 p.m. We are all more pleased than words could convey. Having had no letters for over a month & as we are running short of provisions we look forward to having both wants, especially the former satisfied. If I don’t get a bundle of letters there will be an awful row. How our departure was arranged was thus: Our Captain & the Veterinary Officer
in charge of the mules etc, went over to the Arcadian, lying just near us & told them that we were nearly out of provisions & fodder & suggested that we should go to Alexandria for some. After consideration they decided to let us go & at the same time to put a mail on us which amounted to 66 bags. We wont care when we return if they keep us here 3 months, as we will be prepared. All lights are to be out tonight as there are supposed to be submarines about. We have on board Colonel Armstrong an Army Paymaster & he has been telling us about the awful experiences of our men on shore.
After an uneventful trip through the Grecian Archipelago & some beautiful Meditteranean scenery & Islands, included among which we passed Rhodes Island, one of the oldest known in history & belonging to Greece, we have arrived at Alexandria.
Have found out that all our letters are up at the Dardanelles, having been sent there some days ago, consequently there is great gnashing of teeth & things I wouldn’t like to mention here going on amongst all hands. I cabled home, but shortly after a late one arrived, so I cabled again.
June 14th Still here in Alexandria awaiting instructions. Have not visited many places of interest however, having been content with the City itself. On Sunday last we visited Nausa Gardens where the band played from 5 till 6 p.m. we then came to town & had dinner at 9 oclock at the Majestic Hotel. Today three of us got a motor car & went out to Aboukin Bay, which is about 14 miles from here. The drive was lovely, through some beautifully cultivated land, all irrigated from the river Nile. Our car got bogged in the sand going across some hills, but a million, or twenty anyhow, Arabs soon pushed & pulled us out, which cost the usual distribution of backsheesh.
It is very interesting there & there is a big fort & several fine buildings & a couple of refreshment rooms run by Greeks. A lot of Tourists go out there, probably to see where Nelson fought the battle of the Nile. It is getting very hot in Alexandria.
June 19th Sent cable home to say "leaving for England & mentioned that Wilfred was right. I got word from the authorities on the 17th to say he was admitted to hospital at Mudros on May 29th.
June 20th (Sunday)
7 a.m. Left Alexandria for Gibraltar where we are to get fresh orders before proceeding to England. It is quite a treat to get to sea again & get a breeze after being shut in Alexandria for a month.
June 23rd Having glorious weather through the Meditteranean. Have passed several ships bound for Egypt. At 9.30 last night whilst getting along in the darkness, without lights, a searchlight was suddenly flashed on us & we were asked our name & what our flag was. We replied & as they didn’t fire at us we took it for granted that it was one of the French Cruisers that are patrolling this part of the seas. We are not traversing the ordinary (peace time) trade route but are zig zagging in order to avoid enemy submarines, should there happen to be any about. 7.p.m. Passed Malta 8 miles off.
June 24th Nothing of note last night, except that a couple of French Destroyers put their searchlights on us & enquired our name & flag. 7.30 a.m. Passed Pantellaria Island about 5 miles off. This belongs to Italy.
Arrived Gibraltar 7 a.m. & went ashore 9.30 a.m. One cannot get on shore here without permission from the Admiralty. It is a wonderful place. From information I got I believe there are 360 big guns on Gibraltar Rock, ranging up to 12 inch.
It is a most peculiar rock, sloping on one side where all the barracks, offices etc are & being almost straight up on the other. On looking round it which the captain & I did in a cab, it is just a net work of holes drilled in the rock, out of which guns can be fired there being just enough room for the muzzles to get through. No outsiders are allowed inside, but I am told that it is a real hive in there where the guns can be shifted about & the garrison
work in safety. On the beaches around it there are built very strong trenches & barbed wire entanglements. It is reckoned to be the most strongly fortified place in the world & it certainly looks it. There are sentries everywhere & extreme caution is taken to see that no one gains any knowledge of the inside workings, except very responsible Officials. There is a neutral line drawn up between it & Spain & no British are allowed across that, or they would become liable to be interred whilst war is on. Nearly all of the workmen are Spaniards & everything is conducted by British Officers & Clerks. Nothing whatever can leave Gibraltar without an order from the Admiralty. The water supply is mostly obtained from Morocco, on the opposite coast, but concrete water catches have been built & these run the rainfall into large tanks. Everybody speaks English & English money is used. Destroyers & Cruisers are cruising about in the straits & on every peak a gun is mounted. So nobody has much chance of gaining an entrance to the Meditteranean. Having taken in coal we left at 4.30 p.m. for London.
July 1st 9.a.m. Got a message from a Japanese Maru boat by wireless to say that she came across a ship being sunk by a submarine & turned & made off & that the submarine chased them for an hour & then gave up as it could not catch them. The position given was Lat 49°N Long 6°W. that is 48 miles North West of Ushant. We will be there at 1 p.m. tomorrow.
3 p.m. The Captain has changed our course & insted of passing 25 miles off Ushant will go in to within 5 miles of it.
8 p.m. Got wireless news that the ship sank by the submarine this morning was the Armenian & that some of the crew were drowned.
We get press news every night from Eiffel Tower.
July 2nd 4.30 p.m. The "City of Edinburgh” just wirelessed "S.O.S. & gave the position she was in & said we are being chased by submarine. On working the position out we find that she is about 40 miles away from us & on the course we should have gone only for getting word about the sinking of the Armenian from the Japanese boat. A Warship replied to the City of Edinburgh & said "good luck” & has gone to their assistance.
4.40 p.m. The City of Edinburgh just signalled "Submarine now shelling us four men killed.”
4.45 p.m. The Zealandic just wirelessed "S.O.S.” & said, "being chased by submarine but our wireless man could not get her position owing to interruption. We passed Ushant at midday today & a code message received says submarines are operating from there right up the English Channel.
5 p.m. Got Zealandic’s position & it is 13 miles from the "City of Edinburgh”.
5.25 p.m. Zealandic signalled that she was firing at the submarine, but had now lost sight of it & could not say whether they had struck it or not.
5.27 p.m. City of Edinburgh wirelessed to Lands End to say that she was safe.
5.40 p.m. Bollington Grange steamer just wirelessed S.O.S. & said being chased by submarine.
5.50 p.m. She signalled that
Destroyers had arrived & that the submarine had submerged.
There is evidently three subs there. It’s a bit of a record to get three "S.O.S.” calls in less than hour from different ships.
Its pleasing to know however that the three ships escaped.
July 3rd 8.30 a.m. Lands End wireless station just sent a message to say that a steamer in Lat 49°N Long 6°W was being chased by a submarine & that the ship was now stationery & was being shelled, so suppose it will soon be sunk. Our press news last night gave the news of six steamers being sunk. On coming down to breakfast this morning Our Captain said "We are now safe thanks to the gallant Captain. We of course are also complimenting him on having altered our course.
We also went over close to a Tramp steamer that was making for the submarine area & told him what was going on, so he altered his course & came in with us. He had no wireless & the Skipper thanked us effusively.
Noon Passed Beachy Head (Eastbourne). The white cliffs of ye old England look good too.
4 p.m. Arrived at Folkstone & am now passing through the entrance left in the submarine net that is stretched across the channel from Dover to Calais 22 miles.
There are about 50 Trawlers & one or two Destroyers patrolling it, in order to drag up the subs as they get caught. There have been quite a lot too.
July 4th (Sunday)
July 4th (Sunday) Arrived & anchored at Greenhythe in the Thames at 7 a.m. Went ashore 11 a.m. & got a train to Cannon St Station, London, 16 miles further up the Thames. Beautiful green fields & hedges all the way along & they looked magnificent it being a nice spring day. Had lunch in the city & got in the Tube Railway & shifted to somewhere or other, then got on top of several buses & had a look about. Saw Bow Bells Church, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Commons & Lords & St Paul’s Cathedral where the pigeons feed out of your hand. Also saw the City of Londons only tree, Nelsons Monument in Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace & Cleopatras Needle all the way from Egypt. Of course also had to go & see Piccadilly & Leicester Square & the Tipperary bar.
July 5th Today being my birthday anniversary (I suppose it was on that account) I spent it busy with customs people. A man is very near pested to death with them in this Country. However I got ashore late in the afternoon & spent it there till midnight
Seem to be able to find my way abut easily & I certainly enjoy getting in amongst the busy traffic, – which those who have been to London before say is impossible almost to navigate yourself through – suppose it is human nature however. I think that a man would need to become suddenly paralysed to get run over here.
July 6th Went ashore 2 p.m. with the Captain. We got a Taxi & drove around the City, through Hyde park & Rotten Row & also saw the smallest house in London, and
various buildings which are famous etc, most of them so probably because they look as if they are liable to fall down at any time. Had dinner at Gattos & as the Captain didn’t feel well he went home. He has not been too well for some time. I then went & had a look about with myself & a walking stick & a cigar & as no one looked as if they would like to come to the Theatre with us, we went to the Gaiety, where Tonights the Night is being staged by George Edwardes. It is a musical comedy & I enjoyed it immensely.
July 24th Have had no time for diary since July 6th so I will just give a short account of my doings as we leave on the 26th (Monday). Stayed at the Imperial Hotel after a few days of arriving & had a nice time there. It is a fine Hotel in Russel Square & a lot of Australians stay there. Have visited the Tower of London & saw the Crown Jewells & the places where a lot of our old Kings & Queens & other Royalties of the good old days were beheaded.
Saw Madame Tussauds Waxworks which are indeed the last thing in that direction. Went to Daly’s Theatre, "Betty”, Globe, Peg, o’ My Heart”, Wyndhams, Gamblers all., Empire, Watch Your Step., Palladium, Vaudeville., Holborn Empire, Vaudeville., & the London Hippodrome a Revue. Also one or two smaller shows. Also had one or two Motor drives around London. Also visited Regents Park Gardens on a Sunday, having obtained a "Fellows” order. They are great too & are the best Zoological gardens to be seen anywhere I am told. Anyway I know they are bigger than ours in Sydney, so they are – well – Zoological gardens alright. On Sunday the 18th I visited Mrs Henderson
at Grove Park, Kent & they made me very welcome, taking me around the beautiful Parks shrubberies & a lot of nice sceneries. They asked me to stay all night & made me very comfortable. Young Mr Henderson & Miss Henderson then came one evening & had dinner with me at the Imperial & went to Daly’s Theatre, "Betty” afterwards with me. He had only been back from France a few days where he had been for 9 months & was wounded. He is to return there when better. The rest of my time I spent working.
July 26th (Monday) Leaving London today after 3 weeks stay & we are bound for Middlesbrough in the North sea up past Scarborough & Whitby where the German Naval raids were made. There was 7 ships sank yesterday off Lowestoft, which point we pass on the way, but as the submarines responsible will now get hunted out of that we ought to be pretty safe.
Arrived Middlesbrough after an uneventful trip. Passed a lot of our Fleet & Trawlers sweeping for mines & saw two of them rake one up right alongside of us.
Aug 15th (Sunday)
Left Middlesbrough for Australia via Durban at 5 a.m. with 4,500 tons of steel rails for the Victorian Railway Commissioners. Middlesbrough is chiefly an iron smelting & ship building place. They are at present building Monitors with shallow draught & big 9.2 guns, as big almost as the ship itself, one on each & an anti-aircraft gun on the poop. They build these at the rate of one a week
& we saw three of them commissioned & go out for their trials. Our navy is a lot more powerful now than 12 months ago.
Had a real good time here, as did all the Officers & I hear there were a lot of fond good-byes last night, but as I’m not interested in that sort of thing I cannot prove the assertion. Went to West Hartlepool one afternoon, but saw no traces of the German bombardment & also went to Saltburn by the sea through some very pretty moors.
Last weekend I visited Dr & Mrs Taylor at Birmingham 120 miles away. Had a glorious time there, probably through being about the only sailor (in uniform) up there at that time. The Dr took me about in his motor & I saw some beautiful buildings, residences, Art Gallery, the very fine markets, & Cadburys big factory at Bournville also a lot of other places of interest in this, the third biggest City in the United Kingdom, Glasgow being second. The Doctor has a beautiful residence with a fine billiard room attached & he & I & a friend of his had several games. Also had some music & singing on the Sunday night as they have a very fine Pianola. We also had a game of hockey. Mrs Taylor introduced me to a Jeweller & I bought some Jewellery. This is the biggest Jewellery manufacturing centre in the United Kingdom. I stayed from Saturday until tuesday & no doubt they are grand people. I have promised to visit them again on my return & I will certainly do so.
Aug 18th As we are now in the Bay of Biscay we reckon we have safely negotiated Kaiser Bills blockade. So we just laugh a merry ho’ ho’. . We can now get along with all
lights burning brightly, as a matter of fact we just put them out to see if the British Fleet were on the alert, & they certainly slept with one eye open right enough. We can now settle down to finish our 28 days run across the Atlantic, past the Canary Islands to Durban.
Have got a punching ball rigged up now, so can exercise to some advantage on the way out.
Sept 5th Still skimming across the atlantic in an uneventful manner. The only land we have sighted of late being the Canary Islands, & Cape Verde where the Kaiser Wilhelm Der Grosse was sunk by our "Highflier” at the beginning of the war. This armed merchantman of the Germans had been sinking a few defenceless merchant ships around there & Las Palmas During the early hours of this morning the Officer on watch sighted a derelict
Sept 9th Passed Cape Town, & saw Table Mountain & Green Point also the Slangkop wireless station & lighthouse.
Sept 11th Passed East London & am still passing within sight of the East coast of Africa.
Sept 12th (Sunday)
Arrived Durban noon today. Went ashore at 3 p.m. & had a look around & to an Organ Recital in the Town Hall at night. This a very fine building with a beautiful approach & a large hall & gallery inside. The concert was real good, there being five Artists & the organ appears to be a good one.
Sept 16th Left Durban 5 p.m. today bound for Melbourne. It is rather a nice place Durban & one could easily spend a couple of weeks pleasantly there. I went to the Empire Theatre, "Vaudeville” & to the Royal "The Marriage Market” produced by a J.C. Williamson Company with W. Tallicur Andrews & Margaret Kemp in the leading roles. Enjoyed this latter very much. Also had dinner at the Royal Hotel & twice at the Edward Hotel which is a very fine place facing the beach & where a lot of visitors from inland (Johannesburg etc) stay during their visits to Durban for the spring weather by the seaside in June & July & sometimes August. They have a fine beach here too with good breakers coming in & there’s a lot of mixed bathing there in the summer. The Ricksha boys with horns & feathers etc as a headgear look comical. They are mostly Zulu’s & Kaffirs. There is an English population of about 40,000, Electric Tramway service, good clean streets & mostly native & half caste policemen, & some very fine buildings. Went & saw a huge whale being sliced up to obtain the oil & the numerous other products of it, at a big factory on the beach. One can hardly realise the size of them until you see them ashore. We saw a lot in the Atlantic too, on the way here.
Sept 17th Having very heavy weather at present, but not as bad as last night. We shipped some big seas & lot of fittings were stove in & carried away
& the roof was lifted almost off the butchers cabin & lot of glass broken in other parts. We get a sea aboard now every few minutes & consequently it is very uncomfortable, however one will go to sea so its no use growling. "The Ships that pass in the night are a grand & wonderful sight, but the nights we pass in the ships – well – rotten.”
[Transcribed by Alison O’Sullivan and Patricia Ryan for the State Library of New South Wales]