Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Colley-Priest diary, 9 November 1915-11 June 1919
MLMSS 2439/1

[Note : This diary was transcribed from the typescript copy at MLMSS 2439/Item 2. Where it does not appear in the original, text from the typescript copy has been added in square brackets]

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[Inside front cover]

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Part I
9th November, 1915 to 11th December, 1915.
Embarkation: Life on Troopship: Arrival at Egypt.

Part II
16th December, 1915, to 2nd. April, 1916.
Work & training in Egypt.

Part III
2nd April, 1916, to 12th October 1916. Work & training in Egypt; Move to Marseilles: First impressions of France: Life in billets: Battle of Fromelles

Part IV
13th. October, 1916, to 9th November, 1916 . On the Somme.

Part V
10th November, 1916, to 1st January, 1917. On the Somme & rest periods.

Part VI
1st January, 1917, to 25th April, 1917. On the Somme

Part VII
25th April, 1917, to 9th August, 1917. In the Line: Rest period: Military tournament of 4th July.

Part VIII 9th August, 1917, to 22nd August, 1917. Leave to England.

Part IX
23rd August, 1917, to 8th November, 1917. Return to France: In the Line: Awarded Military Medal.

Part X
9th November, 1917, to 24th February, 1918. Orderly Room Clerk: Leave to Paris

Part X.A
Orderly Room Clerk: Presentation of Military Medal Ribbon By General Birdwood.

Part XI
17th February, 1918, to August, 1918. Left Unit for second, leave to England: Recalled: German attack: In the Line & rest period.

Part XI.A.
8th & 9th August, 1918. Brief account of experiences in the advance.

Part XII
13th August to 3rd September 1918. Second Leave to Blighty: List of Dates & Places.

Part XII.A
3rd September to 13th September 1918. In the Line

4th September, 1918 to 11th November, 1918. In the Line: Bullicourt Stunt: Rest at Biencourt Chateau: Armistice signed.

Part XIV
17th November, 1918 to 9th January, 1919. Review of Division: Left Biencourt Chateau for Sar Poteries: Christmas pleasures, dances etc.: Leave to Brussels &
Antwerp. Copies of programmes & Menu’s.

Part XV
6th January 1919, to 26th April 1919. Last permanent Billets in France: Dances & Dinners to drafts leaving for Australia: Dance to French inhabitants: Departure from Unit: Arrival in England: Embarkation leave: Camp life in Sutton Veny.

Part XVI
Embarkation: Life on Troopship coming home: Ports of call: Arrival in Australia & Sydney.


Base Records Office Victoria Barracks.
Melbourne 13th June, 1918.

Dear Sir,
I have much pleasure in forwarding hereunder copy of extract from Four Supplement, No. 30476, to the "London Gazette," dated 11th January 1918, relating to the conspicuous services rendered by the undermentioned member of the Australian Imperial Force.

"HIS MAJESTY THE KING has been graciously pleased to approve of the award of the Military Medal for bravery in the field to the undermentioned:-
The above has been promulgated in "Commonwealth of Australia Gazette" No. 76 dated 23rd May, 1918.

Yours faithfully,
W. Mackintosh.
Capt. for Major,
Officer 1/c Base Records

Mr G.W. Colley-Priest.
Sutherland Street,
Neutral Bay, N..S.W.]

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Part I
9th November, 1915 to 11th December, 1915. Embarkation: Life on Troopship: Arrival at Egypt.

31st December 1915

Dear Mother & Father

As it now appears that we are settled here for a good while I will endeavour with the best of my ability to give you a brief account of my trip from Sydney to Suez.
The voyage lasted 31 days, that accounts for our letters being so late in delivery. I am sure that I have a very swelled head as all the time spent on the boat I was not at all sea sick, was in good health all the way, never missed a meal, in fact I lost my appetite & found a horses.

9th November 1915.
Embarked on Beltana, a glorious sight on the wharf, the different coloured ribbons looked very pretty. Both Eric & I broke down as the boat was leaving the wharf, but we soon got over that. Sailed through the heads at 4 p.m. accompanied by a great number of launches etc, the people on board then gave us a good cheer which we returned in the usual Australian manner.

Sea very calm, Captain North’s men slept in the hospital, very comfortable, it is really first class, met a great number of friends on board who are in the 30th Battalion.

10th November.
Reveille 6 a.m. It is always the custom if any special work is to be carried out, to work in

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alphabetical order, so your humble was chosen for mess orderly. No system for drawing rations had to fight for the food. The tucker was absolutely rotten, porridge like sawdust & milk, would very much like some of the Officers to tackle it. More praise to the humble private who takes all the hardships like men & never grumble. 9.30 oclock inspection of ship. Having a lazy time playing cards, reading & sleeping. Sick parade falls in twice a day, already we have over 30 patients in the hospital, so will have to start Ward Orderlies again, it will remind us of Liverpool. Half a dozen cases of mumps on board. Band concert in the evening which was a great success. A storm brewing, would like to see one, would break the monotony & make the journey a little bit exciting.

11th November.
Early morning physical drill very invigorating in the cold sea air. Food absolutely rotten, enough to make one sick at the sight of it. Arranged with the officer’s cook for three good meals a day, I am to give him 5/- a week & it is well worth the money. A great number of men missing at 9.30 parade, sea sickness the cause. So far feel O.K. Captain North down with the sea sickness. More Mumps cases in the hospital. Band concert in the evening.

12 November.
We are now in the Great Australian Bight, a big sea running & a terrible number of men sick, they

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are lying all over the deck in a pitiable condition. Being in such comfortable quarters is one of the reasons why I am not sick. We have already nine out of our eighteen men very sick, & this is only after two days on board. Went on ward duty from 2 p.m. till 10 a.m. most of the patients are already cured, the Matron keep them full of mirth, & & they say that laughing is a splendid cure for any sickness. I am called the Matron.

13th November.
Woke up with a splitting headache it lasted all the morning thought I was in for sea sickness but luckily by dinner time I felt quite well again. Voyage is getting very monotonous, I believe there will be no ports of call until we reach Suez.
When one thinks of this, it is really a wonderful achievement, here are 1400 odd men on board who will probably be travelling for 30 days, everything goes off smoothly & we receive our three meals a day, there must be an enormous lot of stores etc– on board. Nothing startling happened to day.

14th November.
Rise at 6 a.m. to find that Roberts & I are Ward Orderlies in the hospital on the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift for a week. I am very glad it will break the monotony. Plenty of work to do, we have 20 patients in our ward. I started my work well by going round

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to each bed & giving each patient a pill. Very rough weather, ship tossing about like a cork, am thoroughly enjoying it, but alas for the poor fellows who are sick. A very impressive church parade held at 11 a.m. The Chaplain is a jolly good sport, he has already written home to you concerning the Matron’s behaviour. There were many wet eyes amongst the men during the service.

The Chaplain gave a good prayer for our Mothers & Sweethearts.

15th November.
Ward duty for a week nothing startling has occurred.

19th November.
Nothing of note has happened during the week. Last day of ward duty. I am very popular in the ward, in fact I am known all over the ship. Pleuricy & slight attack of Typhoid in hospital. Trip becoming very monotonous. Band concert in the evening. Choir formed, Eric & Bob have joined.

20th November.
Nearing the equator, weather becoming very hot, going about in Chidley style attired in short britches & singlet. An excellent concert given in the evening on the aft deck, over a thousand troops attended. The band contributed to the programme. Eric’s contribution was Alfred Hills Maroi Poi Song,

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which was much appreciated. Beautiful moonlight night, sea like a sheet of glass, slept out on the deck.

21st November.
Church parade at 10.30. Very impressive service. Slept nearly all day, weather like hell. Church again at night. Had our own orchestra, a piano & two violins, I presided at the piano.

22nd November.
Getting near the equator weather like hell, all drilling etc- is cut out, as the weather is to severe. Swimming baths erected up on the aft deck, they are well attended. Taking up signalling while off ward duty, it is very interesting work.

23rd November.
Weather still very hot, the crew are erecting awnings all over the ship, so we are in for some hot weather. The air is stiflying & down the hold where the Infantry are quartered, well, you can guess what it is like there, we are exceptionally lucky being so well off. Now in the Indian Ocean. Band performance in the evening.

24th November.
Nothing startling, same routine as yesterday.

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Thursday 25th November.
Spring cleaning in the ward, all hands working hard. We are now 4432 miles from Sydney & have 3774 miles to go before we land, what a God send it will be when we do place foot on mother earth again. Two sweeps were held guessing the milage that we had gone per day on Wednesday & Thursday. I obtained first & second prize, £1-5-0 in all. Those mascots which I received from the B.S.B. are certainly bringing me luck.

Friday 26th November.
The day of days. Crossed the Line at 4 p.m. & in keeping with the time honoured event with all due pomp & ceremony the usual custom was held where one Reginald Hancock was charged & found guilty of the heinous offence of not before crossing the Line. Two further indictments were added that of daring to trespass on another man’s bed, & of insulting our genial hospital matron (Matron Colley). The sentence of the said Court was that the prisoner should be stripped, floured, buttered, shaved with a wooden razor, & finally doused, was duly carried out. A recommendation for mercy was squashed by His Honour Judge Burden & a jury of four. The troubled matron gave evidence in the witness box. The prisoner took his

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sentence in good part (he damned well had to). In the afternoon a tropical storm overtook us, I have never seen rain like it before. Weather very muggy. Measles broken out on board, the number of cases are increasing daily. A serious accident occurred, a soldier who fell down the hatchway was brought in our ward, he has been moaning all day. The Doctors have not examined him yet. The patient is in such a state of collapse that it is dangerous to move him. Sincerely hope the poor chap recovers.

27th November.
Passed the five thousand mile mark at midday. A boxing championship was held this afternoon but the exhibition was very poor, the towel being thrown in by the loser in the fourth round. The A.M.C. upheld their reputation, one of our members being the winner. The second of our ship concerts was held in the evening on the aft deck. A splendid programme was contributed by the artists with the band in attendance. Eric’s item was much appreciated. The weather is perfect.

28th November.
Still another glorious Sunday with a splendid church service in the morning the Chaplain did not beat about the bush but spoke very straight to the men. I enjoyed the service (d- these mistakes)

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I enjoyed the service immensely one of the best if have heard. Have never in all my life seen such glorious sunsets, words cannot describe the grandeur of this scene. We have sailed 276 miles to day, which is not too good when compared with our best days run of 308 miles. In the evening a short service was held in the Hospital I presided at the piano with our famous orchestra again.

29th November.
Discovered this morning that we had played our joke on Hancock too early, we were told on parade that we would cross the line at 2.30 in the afternoon. Father Neptune came on board at the appointed time & the usual ceremony was gone trough on the aft deck. I had a good view of the proceedings from the promenade deck. Every one was given a half holiday to see the fun. Officers Non-coms & privates were all brought before the Court & ducked in a big canvas bath, it was a great afternoon. It was one continual laugh all the time.

30th November.
Nothing startling occurred today, on ward duty again. Weather perfect. Sister Bob Roberts looked perfect in his short white britches & silk shirt.

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Eric & I had a friendly spar this morning, & did we not perspire, have never sweated so much in all my life before. Had a good body massage this morning it will help to keep me fit when we arrive in Egypt, where an enormous amount of training will have to be done. Just finished my washing & it looks far worse than it looked before being put into the tub. We have now gone 6422 miles, & have 2054 miles to go, so our journeys end is approaching.

1st December.
Amongst my friends on board are Jack Martin & Harry Croudace both from Mosman, we often meet on deck on glorious moonlight nights with the band below playing a delightful waltz, & talk about the good old times in Sydney, our gipsy teas & dances at Balmoral. We are all optimists & hope to come back safely to renew our old life in Sydney. Still on ward duty. When men are sick they are the biggest cowards & the most miserable beings anyone could come in contact with. Thank God I am not in the Tent or Nursing division. I am sure if I had been put into the above sections that I should have contracted brain fever or something of the kind in Egypt or elsewhere, as I already lose my patience with the men. Just imagine a man asking for eggs junket & jelly. Told him that he was on Active Service, that if

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he expected luxuries like that, he should be at home. Every man when he enlists should leave home prepared to meet all hardships & bear them like a man. Am getting quite an expert in applying plasters, massaging & bandaging in the hospital. We have now travelled 6856 miles & have 1440 miles still to go.

2nd December.
Same routine again, ward duty. Sea beautifully calm but still no land; in sight. Beautiful cool evening made my way to the bow after tea & watched the glorious sunset, words cannot describe the grandeur of the scene. Later on as the darkness approaches the phosphorous looked very pretty sparking in the water.

3rd December.
Beautiful day, sea like a sheet of glass. On Gulf of Aden at present. Sighted Aden lighthouse 10 p.m. also what appeared to be a large steamer it caused a great deal of excitement, this being the first sight of anything of interest since leaving Australian shores. Many reports going round as to where we are landing, I believe it will be Suez.

4th December.
10.a.m. Just entering the Red Sea. The entrance is known as Hell’s Gate, & the appearance of the land on each side fully justifies the name. The distance across is only 1 ½ miles, on the

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right is a peculiar island covered in what looks to be ashes & great scarred rocks, as though at one time there must have been a great volcanic upheaval. A lighthouse stands on the summit like a lonely sentinel guarding the entrance & giving warning to the mariners of the deep. It must be a fearfully lonely life here with nothing to see but barren land ships seagulls & eternal water, most probably the only inhabitant would be the lighthouse keeper. Had a good look at the land on both sides of the entrance through a pair of powerful field glasses & could not see any sign of habitation.

We are constantly passing numerous ships of all sizes sometimes near enough to send a cheer up. The heat is intense & every one adopts a Chidley Costume namely short pants & singlet. Just before entering Hell’s Gate we could disern with the naked eye what appeared to be a small city many miles away on the right of us, but on looking through the field glasses we discovered it to be a large city, the towers & minerettes could be seen quite plainly, I was informed afterwards that the town was Moccha, a large city in Arabia. In the afternoon a boxing match was held on the aft deck, I became greatly excited during the bout & pulled at least six fellows down off a small box on which we were standing, the air was blue with the Australian language -

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After tea our usual Saturday nights concert was held on the aft deck, it proved as successful as the previous ones. Both Eric & Bob contributed an item.

So far this has been the most interesting day since our departure on Australian shores.

5th December.
Weather intensely hot. On account of the heat church as been postponed till the cool of the evening, the service should be an impressive one as this will be our last Sunday on board. The Chaplain is a real decent chap, I believe he has written home, I hope he gives a good account of the Matrons behaviour. Passed a fair size steamer this morning it was only about ¼ mile away. We actually saw a female on board the only one we have set eyes upon since our departure from Sydney. They signalled good luck to us from the bridge, & we all cheered him in return. A tropic storm overtook us the rain came down in torrents. These tropical storms are very peculiar they only last a few minutes, & then the weather is fine & hot again. In the evening an impressive church service was held.

Monday December 6th.
Another big boxing match was fought on the aft deck, our A.M.C. man again coming out on top. In quite a lavish manner we entertained Captain North & Captain Moralli at night,

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to show our appreciation of these worthy gentlemen. Our promenade deck was gaily decorated for the occasion & every member of the 8th had to contribute an item, musical or otherwise. Some of the former inflicted on us were to funny for words. I acted as accompanist as usual, altogether we had an extremely amusing & a most enjoyable evening. My item was a hit, arrayed as a Matron, my entrance was the signal for an outburst of laughing. I also carried Fushia (our Mascot) in my arms, I then gave my experiences in Liverpool & then I sang (now don’t laugh). The Little Grey Home in the West. Broke my G string in the attempt.

At midnight I think the 8th suddenly went mad there was a terrific fusillade of loaves of bread, books, & hammocks flying in all directions, it was an exciting half hour, eventually we settled down to sleep, but alas, to wake in the morning tired out & with sore heads.

Tuesday 7th December.
Orders have come out that every man must have both kit bags ready, so that there will be no delay in disembarkation. Great excitement prevails as every one knows that we are approaching our landing place. We have now only to travel 220 miles.

Wednesday December 8th.

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Wednesday December 8th.

7 a.m. Anchored at last in Suez Harbour. Our first stop since leaving Sydney. The coast line is very rugged & has a peculiar yellow colour, looks as if at one time there had been a volcanic upheaval. Great excitement prevails almost every man was fully dressed long before reveille had sounded all anxious to disembark. The Orsova has just been sighted, it also has troops on board. Suez looks to be a very large city, two warships are anchored quite close to us & round the boat are quite a number of small craft. Discovered that Roy Ingram was signalling to us from the Orsova, Eric & I had quite a long chat with him on the flags. The harbour looked very pretty at night with all the boats lit up.

9th December.
Another very monotonous day, at anchor waiting until the Orsova has disembarked her troops. Eric went ashore with the Measles & Mumphs patients & saw that they were admitted to the Suez Hospital, he was not very much impressed with the port. Have been very busy all day packing the medical equipment. The band gave a splendid performance in the evening.

10th December.
All on board are terribly disappointed on receiving the news that it would be impossible to disembark to day, we are just like a lot of prisoners, anchored about ½ mile

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from the shore & no one is allowed to leave the boat.

Saturday 11th December.
After four days at anchor we are at least tied up to the wharf Suez does not impress me very much it is a filthy hole of a place We had great fun with the natives had them diving for coins in the harbour. They are really wonderful in the water, All the sick have been landed, we had a detachment of Indian Stretcher Bearers helping us. 12 a.m. The first train load has just left with A & B companies of the 30th Batt. We entrain at 4 p.m. The carriages are like cattle trucks, of course the officers travel 1st class. Poor humble privates 3rd class. We travel 3rd because there is no 4th. The train journey was very interesting we passed right through Suez. Here the train was rushed by crowds of natives etc- who try to take every one down, I always offer them half the amount they ask for then you are sure of getting your moneys worth. They seem to be a filthy race very few of them have been known to touch water, the smell of them is enough to knock one over. The Canal could be seen quite close to the train, never imagined that it was so narrow. All through the night at every station we were rushed by the natives, sleep was impossible, the row they kicked up was terrific. Some of our chaps bought cigarettes off them but you can imagine their wrath on discovering that they consisted of tobacco at both ends & saw dust & any other rubbish in the middle. Of course any fruit we buy off them, has to be thoroughly

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cleaned & peeled before eating. Eventually we arrived at Zeitauen. We then marched for about a mile carrying our white kit bags with us. My tent bag became very heavy before I had proceeded far. We were all completely done up on reaching our camp which is not far from Heliopolis.

This completes the account of the sea trip etc., hope you are satisfied with it. I could tell you a lot more of what has occurred, & where we are, since arriving at Heliopolis, but the Censors would not allow it. Am sure this will pass through, as our sea voyage is a thing of the past, & really taking it all through I do not think that there is any information that would be of any value to the enemy, if by any chance they obtained this letter. Eric sent his diary home the day we landed, so I suppose you have read it already. It is a splendid one, this one is like a little school kiddies letter, but am glad to say that I have seen many worse than this in camp. Will you be so kind to pass this rotten epistle to the Bondi Girls,Dolly Levy etc. & E. Herford, they asked me to give them an account of the voyage. A great number of Australian troops from the Dardanelles are camped at ---- 6 miles from us. On Christmas night they suddenly ran amok, visited ---- which is rather a big town Almost every window was smashed,

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the streets were strewn with bottles, furniture, stores & goods from the shops. Things were so bad I believe that now every shop is closed & if more than four Australian Soldiers are seen approaching the natives etc. flee for their lifes & lock the doors of the shops etc. We read about the terrible Germans, Australians, the Australians are now following in their footsteps. The other day the 31st Battalion from Melbourne were marching along, when a little native about 10 years old approached one of the men, asking him to buy cigarettes. The hoodleum (he cannot be called any thing else) grabbed a big tin of cigarettes from the kid, the native naturally thrust his arm out for the tin, when he received a big gash in his hand from a pen knife & told to go to --- hell. The hand was afterwards treated by one of our A.M.C. Doctors. This is only one of the numerous cases that has occurred since my arrival in Egypt. There is no need to treat the natives like dogs. would not be at all surprised to see a native rising any day, but The English & Indian troops tell us that the Australian soldiers are excellent fighters, but no discipline. Eric arrived back to day he looks A.1. I think 17 pages is quite enough so must close with much love
From your only son
xxxx Langford Colley-Priest
& your mountain son Eric.

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Part II
16th December, 1915, to 2nd. April, 1916.
Work & training in Egypt.
(Started to write this) April 29th 1916
Wednesday May 3rd 1916
Continuation of diary

As far as I remember I ended my last brief account of my experiences since leaving Australia’s sunny shores, on Tuesday 14th December last. It will be a hard matter this time to write this in a successful manner, as the heat is very oppressive, & I am surrounded by millions of flies. Nevertheless I shall do my best. I think you will find in my last diary that we had just arrived at our second camp Serapeum.

Wednesday 15th December 1915.
Serapeum is situated on the banks of the canal about half way between Suez & Port Said. I am not very much struck with the place all one can see for miles & miles is sand. Drilling will be very severs in this kind of country, it will take us some time to get used to it. Woke very much refreshed (after our very strenuous days work) ready to get at it again. And solid work it was too, carrying stores & gear etc. off a steamer to the camp. Very hard trudging through the sand with a heavy load on your back. Tucker not very much improved, beautiful moonlight night. The 18 men off the Beltana had a little sing song on the banks of the canal, the songs sounded very pretty & sweet in the still air.

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Thursday 16th December 1915.
After shifting all the gear from the steamer we find to day that nearly half of it has to be put on the boat again, as C. Section has been ordered to Ishmalia which is situated about 5 miles down the Canal towards Port of Suez Said. If all these stores etc. had been sortered up on the steamer all this shifting would be been avoided. But of course this is the military system of doing things. After giving C. Section a hand to move, we had a short route march of 7 miles. A fair average for soldiers marching through sand is 2 miles an hour, but we did slightly over this. In the evening ten men of our tent went along to the English camp, who are our neighbours. A very enjoyable evening was spent, & we all enjoyed a nice cup of cocoa which was a great treat & luxury, after the tucker which we have had the misfortune to eat during the last couple of days. The evenings are beautifully cool, and night time is eagerly waited for, as the heat during the day is very oppressive.

Friday 17th December 1915.
The orders for the day are, Revielle 6 a.m. Physical drill 6.45. First Parade 9.30.a.m. to 12.30 p.m. Second Parade 2 p.m. to 4.45.p.m. On the first parade we formed up in full marching order & started off on a long route march. We passed a great number of trenches also a couple of graves of some soldiers who were killed during the last fight on the Canal, which

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took place last February 1915. At 4.30 pm had the misfortune to strike guard duty. On piquet all through the night, bitterly cold at 2 a.m.

Saturday 18th December 1915
Finished guard duty at 4.30 a.m. Half holiday. Spent the afternoon in writing letters, also had a good swim in the canal.

Sunday 19th December 1915.
Church parade - quite a treat to hear some music.

Monday 20th December 1915 to Friday 24th inst. (Christmas Eve)
Ordinary camp life. Route marches & stretcher drill, becoming terribly monotonous.

Saturday 25th December (Christmas Day)
Great preparations for Xmas. Camp decorated with flags, & tables placed under some trees. So we are evidently going to have things in great style. The day started off well with a good breakfast, porridge, bacon & eggs. The dinner was a great success, 7 courses including Plum puddings from Australia. A big bag of tucker arrived from Ishmalia for our tent including 4 ducks. We also had an excellent tea, preserved fruits, fish & cakes etc. Eric missed all this, as he is on outpost duty with 12 others, about 10 miles out in the desert.

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Sunday 26th December
Another easy day for us, did a lot of washing, made a much better job of it than the previous one, the clothes turned out a dirty yellow instead of black. My first big mail arrived 13 letters in all, including a letter from home, with which I was extremely delighted. We are having perfect weather.

Monday 27th December
Shifting camp to a more suitable position, every-one working hard, kept at it till a late hour at night

Tuesday 28th December to Friday 31st December.
Monotonous camp life Stretcher drill & route marches etc. every one is sick of it. They are singing out in Sydney for men & still more men, & here we are wasting our time & still likely to, for a long time to come.

January 1st 1916.
New Years Day. Holiday in camp. Had a trip to Ein Goschen, in the ambulance waggon with a patient. Weather very cold. Sheepskin vests issued, needed in the early morning very much.

Sunday 2nd to Saturday 8th January
Same routine drilling all day.

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Sunday 9th January.
Impressive Church service. I believe the Dardanelles are evacuated & all the Australian troops which are withdrawn are camped about 16 miles from us, I may meet some of my friends.

Monday 10th Jan.
Visited the engineers who have just arrived from Sydney. Met a number of my friends including a few of my pals from Neutral Bay, Jack Reid, from Oaks Avenue, Bob MacDonald from Grosvenor St. & Jack Kernigan. The engineers brought a piano with them all the way from Australia, it is a real treat to hear some music again, the long evenings will be far more enjoyable now.

Tuesday 11th Jan.
Monotony broken a little to day, had our first training in digging trenches & dugouts, very good exercise as a matter of fact the officers do not really know hat to do with the men.

Wednesday 12th Jan to Monday 17th Jan.
Same routine drill & digging trenches etc.

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Tuesday 18th.
In the afternoon Eric, Bob, & I went across the canal & took a walk to the battle ground of the last scrap the Turks had here. The ground was covered with Turkish graves (over a thousand or more) in some cases the bodies were not property covered, & one could see an arm or a leg sticking out of the ground, & in some cases the bodies were not covered at all. Hundreds of boots were lying about with the soles worn right away, if the Turks mean to attack the Canal they will have to be equipped in a much better manner. Needless to say we did not stay long in this deadly place, managed to obtain a few shrapnel bullets.

19th to 22nd January 1916.
Monotonous drill every day etc.

23rd January 1916.
Mail day. Received a fair mixed mail from Sydney. On guard. Beautiful weather. Colonel Shepherd, Officer Commanding 8th Field Ambulance arrived.

24th January.
Colonel Shepherd is showing his authority & shaking things along. Discipline very good in the Ambulance.

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24th Jan. Cont.
The men are beginning to take a pride in themselves. Our tents are inspected by the Colonel every morning, & in nine cases out of ten our abode is always mentioned for its neatness. I should say from all accounts that we have the neatest camp along the canal. Hard training all the week (all day route marches etc.) Week ending Sunday 31st January.

February 1916

Monday 1st February.
Had a very pleasant surprise this morning, was lucky enough to be chosen to go to Ishmalia with some patients. Mr Addison accompanied me, he is a splendid fellow, a real white man, a credit to the Ambulance, & the most popular man in the Unit. Ishmalia is a pretty little town on the banks of the canal, about ten miles from Serapeum. The trip in the launch was most enjoyable. The town resembles Cronulla & the inhabitants are mostly French & Egyptians. It was quite a change from the monotonous camp life for a few hours. Arrived at Ismalia at 5 oclock A beautiful avenue of trees leads from the jetty to the hospital magnificent gardens etc., on both sides of the road. Seeing so much green was restful for the eyes, after being amongst the blaring sand for so many weeks. Lance & I made arrangements to sleep at the hospital for the night. We then started off to inspect

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this pretty little town, & to do some shopping for the boys in the desert. Had about £3/-/- worth of eatables to purchase for the boys. Quite enjoyed walking in & out of the shops. Addison treated me my dinner at the biggest hotel that we could find in our travels, & "by jove" we did eat. Quite a treat to have a good 7 course dinner in comfort. A walk along the native quarters was very interesting, and very dirty, it is really an experience to visit the Arabic quarters you cannot realise the filthy state of the dwelling etc.. On walking down the streets one can almost with arms stretched out tough the ramshackle buildings on each side of you. In some places the streets are so narrow that I hardly think that the sun’s rays ever penetrate along the footpath. The stench in some places along these alleys is very unpleasant, sanitary arrangements well, there are none. It is no wonder that disease lurks here, I can’t imagine how the natives live under these conditions. Of course this is the lower class of Arab, the refined Egyptian are really a very nice class of people, in some cases it is hard to tell whether they are French or Egyptians. They live in fine dwellings. Slept in one of the wards of the hospital.

Tuesday 2nd Feb.
Took a walk through the Ismailia Gardens on the way to the launch, they are almost as good as the Botanical Gardens. Launch left at 8 a.m., beautiful

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trip on the Canal, we both enjoyed it. Passed a French & to British Cruiser’s. Arrived back at camp at 2 p.m. very much refreshed & ready for more drill.

Wednesday 3rd February to Sunday 7th February
Same routine, training hard all day. Impressive church parade on the 7th inst. 29th & 31st Battalions also attended.

Monday 8th February
Received a letter & two magazines from Mrs Wearing, Siam. Great activity & excitement abounds our camp, thousands of troops from the Peninsula have arrived here. They all look well after their trying experiences. Same routine all the week, the discipline of the unit lately is excellent, numbers of troops camped near by have mentioned the fact.

Friday February
Route march to Bitter Lakes, a great fishing place, & a very pretty spot too. The march was about 12 miles altogether, not bad going before dinner. To my great delight I met two of my pals from Mosman, they attended the old "Braemar Dances." Roy Pinnock

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& Arthur Lang, who has spent the last three or four months in Gallipoli. What a great experience I do envy them. Our camp is struck & all medical stores etc., are at the railway station. We are sleeping in some old buildings which I can assure you are not too clean. Some of my mates found bugs crawling on their blankets during the night, but I managed to evade this luxury as I had a few tins of insecticide with me. We are ready to move off at a minute’s notice. It will be quite a change to get away from Serapeum. I believe our destination will be Tel-el-Kebir which is situated about forty miles from the canal.

Saturday 12th February to Thursday 24th February
Same monotonous routine, squad, drill (don’t you think I have seen enough of this) stretcher drill, & lectures etc. This life is becoming very monotonous every one sick to death of the whole affair, even the officers themselves (who live in comfort) under the conditions).

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Friday 25th February.
All rush & excitement this morning, we are actually moving off at last. After a great amount of muddling (which is common to the military) we are in the train ready to move off to Tel-el-Kebir at 4 p.m. Needless to say every body is very pleased to leave Serapeum, which was indeed a dead & alive hole. Two days rations issued, bully beef & biscuits. Very interesting train trip, the natives rushed the train, trying to sell their wares at every station, it is very funny to watch them. Arrived at Tel-el-Kebir at 8.p.m. This is the biggest camp we have been in yet, troops everywhere, I believe there are 25000 quartered here. Now have to start unloading train, working till long after midnight. On arriving at our camping ground, I was unfortunate to strike guard duty, & instead of having a good sleep after our strenuous day, I was obliged to walk up & down my beat until daylight, if I had sat down I would have fallen asleep, & there is a severe penalty for those who fall asleep while on their beat, as you know. It is all in the game, so there is no use grumbling.

Saturday 26th February
As usual the officers discovered that we were not camped on the right spot, so everything has to be shifted again, about a distance of two hundred yards. When I return

[Page 31]
I must start a furniture removers business, it should turn out a success after all this experience. Received a big mail 16 letters, was greatly delighted. Who should spring a surprise on us (Eric & I) in the afternoon but Carl Gow. Do you remember him. He came to some of our evenings. He enlisted a fortnight after me & had been in Gallipoli four months, a great experience for him, he is a lucky fellow. In the evening we took a stroll over to the Y.M.C.A. hut, where a big concert was being held, arranged by the 30th Battalion. Met a great number of friends who were on board the Beltana with me, some of my old patients greeted me by "Hello Matron"" I had almost forgotten this name, as the Tent Division look after the sick, & I have been drilling all the time amongst the stretcher bearers. Who should I meet at the concert but Eric Conolly, Will Anderson, Ren Rabbidge, & Capt. Ward. The latter I have not seen since we disembarked.

Sunday 27th February
Impressive service, Captain Ward in charge, spent most of the afternoon with him. He took my photo which you have received. He is a great sport & well liked amongst the men.

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Monday 28th February to Sunday 5th March
(Monday) Startling orders read out on parade by the Colonel, we are to start our training all over again, right from the beginning again, from A to Z. this was very disheartening news for the men. So we started with squad drill by numbers in the scorching sun, saluting, & right & left turns by numbers, kept at this all the week. It was God send when the week end arrived, so as to have a day & a half spell from this very monotonous training.

Monday 6th March.
71 horses & 8 ambulance wagons arrived to day, we certainly looks like an Ambulance Corp now, & it is about time to. Weather gradually becoming very hot.

Tuesday 7th March to Wednesday 15th March.
Monotonous training changed a little by wagon drill every day. The first drill of this kind since leaving Melbourne. You cannot imagine how sick & tired everyone is of the whole affair. Quite a number of our men have been transferred to different hospitals at Cairo with sickness, three of the men had typhoid fever. Since leaving Sydney I have

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been O.K. It is a great wonder to me that more sickness is not thriving in our Unit, as the heat is very severe & the flies a great pest.

16th March 1916.
The day has actually arrived when Eric & I were granted our first leave of absence from camp since landing in Egypt. Have been looking forward to this day for weeks. Of course we went to that historic city of Cairo, it was a very interesting trip & we both enjoyed it immensely. Boarded the train at Tel-el-Kebir at 7.15 a.m. The country we passed through was very interesting, that is one thing that we must give the Egyptians credit for, & that is the marvellous way in which their land is irrigated. Arrived at Zag-a-zig at 8 a.m. a native village, no troops are allowed here as the place is the essence of filth. 8.30 a.m. arrived at Benka, a very oriental looking village. 9.30 arrived at Cairo. The station is every bit as big as our Central Railway Station. (Sent you a full description of all the places we visited, a few weeks back, so will not go into details.) Visited the Pyramids & Sphinx, Tomb of Gazal, Ezerbekiah Gardens, Egyptian Bazaar, Blue Mosque, Citadel, Tomb of the Mamelouks, Sultan Hassan Mosque, Raphai Mosque, Old Cairo, & the 3rd General Hospital Abassiah. I visited the latter

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to see the Hedger boys. We were all very glad to meet again. The beauty & splendour of some of the Tombs & Mosques it is an impossibility to state in writing, they must be seen before one can form any idea of their magnificence. We drove through Old Cairo in a garry, in some places there was just enough room to pass along without the carriage bumping each side of the streets. The filth & dirt in this part of Cairo is unmentionable, I swear that most of the natives we passed have never had a wash in their lives. Hundreds of kiddies we passed, it made one almost sick to see them grovelling in the dirt, & with swarms of flies all over them. No sanitary arrangements at all, the stink of the dwellings is terrible; they contain very little furniture but plenty of vermin. It was a great eye-opener, no one who has never seen these native quarters can form any idea of the filth of these places. It is not advisable for an Australian soldier to visit these native slums alone, as you cannot trust the inhabitants, they would stick a knife into you, if they got half a chance. Sydney slums are palaces when compared with Old Cairo. I have been told that Cairo, since the war began is the most immoral city in the world, I firmly believe it. It has been a great eye opener to all us boys. We had a glorious dinner at "Saults" one of the best restaurants in Cairo, fully enjoyed it. Caught

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the 7 oclock train back to Tel-el-Kebir, after having spent a very interesting & enjoyable day.

17th March 1916.
Every one in the Unit was inoculated to day against typhoid & enteric, this disease is prevailing greatly in Egypt at present, extra dose injected into our arms. A few hours afterwards nearly every man was "crook".

18th March to 24th March 11916.
Very easy week very little drill or training owing to the inoculation. Inoculated again on Sunday 19th instant I should be immune against this malady now, as I have been inoculated nine times.

25th March 1916.
We are not attached to the 5th Division, which will be moving off to another part of Egypt during the next few days. Our advance party has left for our new camping ground which is about 40 miles away, situated on the Canal about 45 miles from Port Said.

26th March 1916.
Plenty of work striking camp & shifting stores. Bivouac at night.

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27th March.
(The first day of a great experience for the 8th F. A.)

Revielle at 4.30 a.m. an ungodly hour to be disturbed whilst enjoying a good sleep. We moved off with a fair portion of the Division at 7.a.m. It is intended to take three days to do the journey. 15 miles first day, 16 miles second, day, & 10 miles the third day. We had a glorious breakfast to start the day off with. Dry biscuits & tea without mile or sugar. Our Ambulance looked well when formed up on the road with the stretcher bearers leading, the Ambulance wagons, then the Ten Division men (who look after the sick) in rear of the Red Cross Waggons, & then wagons carrying our blankets etc. & water carts. The whole line must have been half a mile long. All marched well up till midday, very glad to state that we have hard ground to march on. Eleven oclock lunch. Dry biscuits & bully beef. My idea is that salty beef is very unsuitable when attempting a long march, as it makes one very thirsty. Heat very severe in the middle of the day, no shelter at all from the scorching sun. Moved off again at 3 p.m. This is where the trouble begins. Great numbers of the infantry men were falling out, all the way along the route completely done up. We carry enough with rolled overcoats, water proof sheets, haversacks & waterbottles but these poor beggars carry a pack, trenching tools, ammunition

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& rifle, weighing in all about 91 lbs. It is no wonder that those who were no quite O.K. gave under the strain. The wagons picked these men up & sent them back to the hospital, or else to come on by train. Arrived at Matsama where we bivouaced for the night. Felt very refreshed after a bath, with a mug of water & that sponge I brought from Sydney. A sponge is one of the most useful articles a soldier can have in his possession. Had the misfortune to strike piquet again, but luckily drew first shift & was able to go to bed at nine p.m. Evening delightfully cool.

28th March 1916.
Revielle 4.30 Feel A.1. Ready for another days march. Breakfast, bacon, bully beef & tea, no too bad under the circumstances. But the salty bacon & beef here again will make us very thirsty. Troops looked very well formed up ready to move off, but how different they looked at 5.p.m. which you see later on. Nothing startling occurred up till eleven a.m. when a halt was made for lunch. Nine miles was covered up to this hour. Started off again a little after 1.p.m. in the hottest part of the day, why I cannot say, neither can a great number of other people. The temperature must have

[Page 38]
been over 100 in the shade but there is no shade We all could see sand in the distance which we all dreaded, as it is very strenuous work trudging through the sands. All along the line of march the stretcher bearers were about ¾ of a mile in rear of the infantry, we could see them breaking up, not long after striking the sand. What a sight we gazed on when we reached the sand. A great number of men were lying about completely done up, we could do little for them, as all the wagons & transports etc. had gone on another route, as the country was too severe for the horses. We (stretcher bearers) roamed about doing our best for the fallen, giving them a sip from our water bottles etc, My water bottle was emptied soon after starting, after lunch. The men were falling out of the ranks in hundreds, it was a pitable sight to see them, it looked all the world like a great retreat. As far as the eye could reach, we could discern men lying about. Passed a lake on the way, where we all enjoyed a dip, the water was green & slimy, but I can assure you it was very refreshing. I did not feel refreshed for long, as soon after staring again I was in a bath of perspiration & very thirsty. A number of men we passed were suffering from sunstroke, others were too weak to even

[Page 39]
open their lips to take a sip of water. Our Colonel was very much annoyed at the way the Brigadier (who had charge of the march) was treating the men. They call this getting men fit, why men from Gallipoli said that they would rather face Turkish shells & bullets, than to even attempt a march like this again. Every few yards we passed kits & packs & rifles etc. that the men had thrown away, They will be sure to get into trouble for this poor devils. Reached our second camping ground at about 5.p.m. very tired & needless to say very thirsty. Two or three Brigades of New Zealanders were camped here, who were expecting us, & put their tea aside for the men. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, stew & a good cup of tea. All turned in directly after team, so as to get a well earned rest. Only about 160 men (infantry) arrived to time, out of about 4500 men. So you can imagine how severe a test it was. The New Zealanders proved to be good fellows, they marched out & helped to bring in the stragglers, a great number were brought it, in wagons, The Zealanders were working till the early hours of the morning. A great number had to be put in the hospital. Our Colonel was pleased with the way the stretcher bearers came through the march. Only four fell out.

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Wednesday 29th March.
Reveille 6.a.m. Moved off at 9 oclock a bit too late I think, as we will again strike the hottest part of the day. About 9 miles to go, it will be much easier work as we have a hard road to march on all the say. Troops looked very well marching along with their different bands playing a good hearty tune. The Prince of Wales took the salute as we marched past, we gave him a good hearty cheer. The march through Ismailia was much more enjoyable than the previous days struggle. It was quite a treat to have a little shade whilst moving along the beautiful avenues, in the picturesque little village. Great crowds of natives, Egyptians & French lined the streets on either side, it was quite a unique experience. About 200 men fell out of the infantry in the last stage of this march. The heat was too severe for them, we were only allowed three spells in the nine miles, which is not very liberal. Crossed the Canal by means of a pontoon bridge built by the Engineers. The water looked very tempting for a good swim, but of course no halt was made here. Reached our new camp at 12.30 p.m. The great memorable march is completed. It was a great experience, one that can never be forgotten. In the afternoon we all enjoyed a swim. Advance party left us again to a place called Railhead 8 miles further on. The heat all day has been very oppressive.

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Thursday 30th March.
Making preparations to receive 160 patients who fell out during the last stage of the march. All attended swimming parade & allowed to be about all day & have a well earned rest. But the infantry, poor chaps, were given squad drill etc. A rumour going round that the Brigadier is very dissatisfied with his men. I consider that the men who came right through the march (up to time) with their 90 to 100 lbs pack etc. deserve much praise.

31st March 1916.
Just before we left Tel-el-Kiber we had the misfortune to lose two of our best officers. The Adjutant, Capt. Donald & Capt. North. The former was the man who really ran the Ambulance, he will be greatly missed. Our section all very sorry to lose Capt. North, he was a great sport amongst the men & very popular. To day a new Officer has been given charge of A. Section. Captain Mollison from Neutral Bay The moment I saw him I told the fellows that we were in for a bad time, & as I predicted it turned out so. He uses very little tact.

Saturday April 1st to Sunday April 2nd
All allowed to have a rest, still very stiff after the march. Colonel very good to his men, he complimented his unit on the

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splendid work they had been doing.

Monday April 3rd.
All hands at work packing up again, we move off to Railhead in the cool of the evening. There will be no swimming parades there, very little water, so we are in for an enjoyable time, as the weather is becoming hotter every day. Moved off at 4 p.m. covered the eight miles in good time. Bivouac for the night.

4th April 1916.
Everyone hard at work in the early hours of the morning shifting gear & stores etc. You must certainly buy a furniture removers business for me, as after so much experience in the moving line, I should make a good hand at the game. The Sections are being split up. A Section going three miles in one direction, & B about 4 miles in another direction. The Transport are staying at Railhead. A Section move off for their new home, myself & four fellows were chosen to remain behind to act as a rear guard, will follow on to A Section in a couple of days.

Wednesday 5th April.
Sorting up stores etc. Only sending out to the Outposts the gear they will require, the remainder is being kept by the transport.

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Thursday April 6th.
Move off again with 5 camels loaded with medical stores etc. for A Section, a distance about 4 miles away. (See photo). By some bad arrangements we were ordered to move off at 11 a.m. just in the hottest part of the day again. The sweat poured out of us. The camp is situated about 1 ½ miles from the end of the road, so naturally more of this cursed sand to trudge through. Arrived at our destination at 2.30 p.m. when we enjoyed some good hot stew. A nice quiet camp but unfortunately very little water.

Friday 7th April.
Eric is now temporarily attached to the Orderly Room, he is a lucky chap to escape fatigue & drill, we are still to have plenty of this, & it does get damn monotonous He made a success of his job on the Beltana, so naturally they kept an eye on him & picked him out as soon as a vacancy occurred.

Sunday 9th April.
Had a trip into Ismailia, enjoyed a couple of good meals, & spent the afternoon in the beautiful gardens. A very pleasant day.

Monday 10th April. to Monday 17th April.
The weather all the week has been terrible,

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heat has been most severe & the flies a great pest. The glare of the sand is very trying at times for the eyes. Send all the men over here (in this delightful spot) who went on strike, it would do them good. Last Wednesday & Thursday we were greeted with a sand storm (forget the Egyptian name for it) it was absolutely rotten. Drill etc. was out of the question, sand over everything, all the utensils in the cook house were filled with it. Cooking, sand being in the food is the cause of dysentery throughout Egypt. The sand was piled up two feet high round the tent, so you can just imagine what a glorious time we are having. On Thursday evening when the storm subsided, the appearance of the country around us was changed a little.

18th April 1916.
Had another rip to Ismailia, enjoyed a good shower at one of the hotels there.

19th April to 24th April 1916.
Cannot keep mentioning the fact again, that this life on this desert is very monotonous, it is no wonder we lose all interest in it at times. Same old game all the week, stretcher & squad drill, & route marches. Am now quite an expert in filling sand-bags & then before many days have passed, suddenly find out that it has to be shifted &

[Page 45]
(Very sorry to state that one of our tent mates, Private Coxan, injured his knee & is now in a hospital, he has been with us since leaving Sydney) then we have great practice in emptying them. I can assure you it requires a great amount of brain work to do this job.

Tuesday 25th Anzac Day
As I have sent you a full account of the celebration held here on this great day, I will not go into details. The Committee deserves much praise for the splendid way they arrangements were carried out. The day started off with a combined Divine Service. Noticed a great number of infantry with their Anzac colours up. I do envy these chaps, it makes me feel almost ashamed when we know what little we have done.

At 3 p.m. we started our sports, which were very good, & came off without a hitch. The next item was dinner in the mess hut (which we built ourselves) it was excellent as you will see by the Menu (enclosed). We finished up with a first class concert, enclosing a programme. Eric did these programmes etc. He deserves much praise for his work. I believe every man in the section has one.

26th April to 2nd May 1916.
Now as the monotony was broken by a very enjoyable day yesterday, we started our day fatigues in a much more joyful spirit. Same old thing all the week. Yesterday a few of us were watching a company of infantry drilling, some of

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the men have been to Gallipoli. They were doing Slope & Order Arms by numbers, stood by & watched them for fully 15 minutes. How monotonous it must be for them, we have no room to growl after seeing this. Some girls writing from Sydney to me, say, I suppose you are having a good time in Cairo, or some other big city, going to theatres & social evenings etc., it makes one laugh to read such words as these. A soldiers life is not a bed of roses, but we all say this "this is the life". I have seen in a great number of papers from Australia, letters from soldiers of the 8th Brigade, & other Units who arrived here after us. Their account of their doings in this land of "sand sin & sore eyes" is most romantic, quite a number have stated that they are writing their letters in the trenches, with shells flying around them. Don’t you believe all this rot, the only shells we have seen are egg shells when a native canteen is raided.

This ends the second edition of my diary, kept from our departure from sunny N.S.W What numerous changes have occurred since sailing out of Sydney Harbour six months ago. We little thought then that we should still be stagnating in the dreary solitudes of this inhospitable land, far from madding crowds, & where flies are our close companions.

Still rumours flying round that we will soon be out of this ancient land, but as we hear so many reports like this, not much notice is taken of them.

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Don’t forget to show Gladys Herford this

[The following programme is not in the manuscript diary]
25th April 1916

A Concert to celebrate the above held In the local Town Hall & given by leading Artistes of A SECTION 8TH FIELD AMBULANCE. Outpost 25/4/16.


1 Opening Chorus. – Personal.
2 Comic Song. – Pte. Smale.
3 Song. – L’ Cpl. Grover.
4 Song. – Pte. Burden.
5 Scena. – Ptes. Blanton & Poulton.
6 Song. – Pte. Prust.
7 Recitation. – Pte. Kenna.
8 Song – Pt. Herford.
9 Chorus. – Keystone Club.
10 Duet – Ptes. Roberts & Crome.
11 Recitation. – Corpl. Brady.
12 Mandolin Selection. – Pte. Burdon.
13 Song. – Pte. Hancock.
14 Comic Song. – Pte. Ross.
15 Recitation. – Pte. Palmer
16 Song. – Pte. Smith E.M.
17 Spasum No 2. – Ptes. Blanton & Poulton.
18 Recitation. – Pte Burdon.
19 Song. – Pte. Roberts.
20 Comic Song. – Pte. Colley-Priest.


-Outpost- 25/4/16.

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October 13th 1916
Part III -26th. April, 1916, to 12th October 1916.
Work & training in Egypt; Move to Marseilles: First impressions of France: Life in billets: Battle of Fromelles

3rd Edition of Diary
Anzac day 25th April 1916 to October 12th 1916

L. Colley Priest

[Page 49]
3rd Edition of Diary

If I remember rightly my 2nd edition ended on Tuesday 25th April, Anzac Day, so will continue on from that date.

Thursday 4th May 19916.
Very exciting news to hand, a large body of Turks under German & Turkish Officers were seen advancing toward the Canal. They are only about 40 miles away from our outpost. Set to work to dig a dug-out about 2 miles from our camp for a Dressing Station. Working hard all day, a very difficult task as the sand falls in as soon as a decent hole is dug.

Friday 5th May.
All the bearers hard at work on the dug-out again during the night a strong wind, was blowing & of course our famous dug-out was no more, had to start & dig a fresh one. At 10 a.m. we received orders to report back at camp at once. On arriving there we were very much surprised to hear that we were to shift camp at once & proceed to Headquarters. Railhead (That body of marching on the Canal turned out to be a Mahommed Market, an annual event I believe). I was in the advance party which moved off at 1 p.m. marching very difficult through the sand in the severe heat. Arrived at Railhead at 3 p.m. where we had to set to & pitch tents working till close on 9 p.m.

Saturday 6th May.
Revielle 5 a.m. We start work at 6 a.m. & finished at 9 p.m., everyone dog tired. Pitching big hospital tents all day, the heat was intense. A new officer attached to the Ambulance. He uses very little tact & is very

[Page 50]
Saturday 6th May (continued)
unpopular. He comes from Neutral Bay, [indecipherable] plenty of bounce etc. I knew him at School, it is far better not to mention any names.

Sunday 7th May.

Same routine WORK all day. Heat is most oppressive & the glare of the sand is also very severe. Hard at it late at night. Everybody work out, a number of our men sick & I don’t wonder at it.

Monday 8th May to Saturday 13th May.
Plenty of work all the week completing the Hospital which we handed over to another Ambulance on the 13th inst. Ambulance march off at 10 a.m. for another camp at Ferry Post. A distance of 6 miles, very hot marching & the flies – enough said.

Sunday 14th May.
Plenty of work arranging our new camp. Another section formed ¾ Section containing 60 reinforcements the majority new arrivals in Egypt. Now have 10 officers in the Unit. The Officer in charge of A Section was on Gallipoli for many months. As the heat is so intense the orders for each day now are – Revielle 4 a.m., breakfast 4.30 a.m., first parade 5:15 a.m.- 8.30 a.m. The 2nd parade takes place at 5 p.m. Any one on reading these hours of parades can guess that the heat must be very oppressive. I can assure you that such was the case. During the day lately the temperature has been varying from 115 – 125 in the shade. On our 1st Parade this morning the Unit was inspected by our Section Officer & the Colonel, & any man who is not property dressed & with all his accoutrements cleaned is punished generally by pack drill at night.

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Monday 15th May.
A big surprise sprung on us today, we were given squad drill for a few hours. The heat today is terrible.

Tuesday 16th May.
Inspection held of the camp today by the Deputy Director of Medical Stores & A.D.M.S. Great preparations are being made for a big move somewhere, sincerely hope is out of Egypt. Weather most sever, it must be close on 120 in the shade. The dust & the flies are also very unpleasant.

Thursday 18th May.
On account of this severe & most oppressive heat the Division were granted a holiday. It was even too hot to go for a dip in the Canal.

Friday 19th May.
Instruction & training in carrying wounded to & from some abandoned trenches. Very interesting work, quirte a change from that monotonous stretcher drill.

Sunday 21st May.
General inspection of 8th F. Amb. by General Mackay & the A.D.M.S. All formed up in review order, with all our transport in the rear. Stood like a rook for about 15 minutes, all marched out in column of route, the General noting our marching etc. he sent in a very satisfactory report on the inspection.

Monday 22nd May.
It has been decided to hold big Divisional Manoeuvres today. reveille at 2 a,m, Marched out of camp at 2:45 a.m. returning again about 9 o’clock. The attack etc. was very unsatisfactory.

Tuesday 23rd & Wednesday 24th May.
More inspections etc. All this must surely mean that we will soon be making a move out of this hellish country.

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Thursday 25th May.
Big review of the whole of the – Division by Generals Godling, Murray & Mackay. A grand sight bigger than any review that I have seen in Centennial Park. Ambulance praised for the manner in which we marched passed the saluting base.

Friday 26th May.
General Godling has expressed his extreme satisfaction with the review & wished the troops God speed & a safe return.

Sunday 28th May.
Shifting camp again. Reveille 3:45 a.m. Breakfast 4 o’clock. Fall in all ready to move off at 4:15 a.m. Note the time we all had to be brisk, & also that that terrible route march from Tel-el-kibir on the 28th March last, has taught the heads a lesson, we now always shift camp in the early morning, not during the hottest part of the day. Our packs got very heavy, before we proceeded very far it is no wonder those poor fellows fell out during that terrible march mentioned above. Arrived at Moassca at 8:30 a,m, where we had to start immediately & pitch our camp. When I looked over the desert I thought of the last time I was here, our 2nd bivouacking ground on the 29th March. The 30th Battalion is camped close by, so in the evening I visited a few of my pals. Eric Leask & Frank Martin who I have mentioned in previous editions are both looking tip top.

Monday 29th May. to Monday 5th June.
Preparations for our departure all the week. We are only allowed to carry our Australian uniform in our kit bag the remainder of our few clothes we carry in our pack. Before landing at our new destination we will don our Australian uniform & our drill khaki will be sent back to Egypt with our kit bags. It was a farce carrying so much clothes about with us for many weary months.

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Tuesday 6th June.
Orders today that all extra clothes or comforts etc. such as socks balaclava caps, mufflers, waistcoats etc. etc. were to be returned. Hundreds of these articles were burnt, I think it was a great sin to [indecipherable] such an action, the poor Belgians or Servians or even the people living in the slums of Sydney would have been greatly pleased with these fine comforts. It was a great shame to see all the good work of our mothers & sisters etc. treated as a heap of rubbish. One item was noticed, none of the officers comforts were to be found when this order was given out.

By some unforeseen reason our departure from Egypt has been postponed. The Brigade was supposed to entrain tonight. We may not go for a fortnight or a month. It is very disheartening to think that we will still have to endure this stifling heat for a considerable length of time. Especially as almost every afternoon about the same time we have been greeted with horrible & discomforting sandstorms. The heads are disgusted also. From now till we get orders to leave the Division will be given a well earned rest.

Wednesday 7th June.
Our well earned rest starts off with a route march in full marching order, packs also carried.
It has been decided to hold Divisional Sports on the following Tuesday. Our Brigade sports held on Saturday 10th inst. Ambulance well represented the competitors keeping the good name of the A.M.C. to the fore. Our Transport Section obtaining first prize for the best turned out limber.

Sunday 11th June.
Memorial Services in honour of Lord Kitchener. Capt. Ward conducted the ceremony. Jack Jordan just arrived with reinforcements for the 30th Battalion. We looked very well but is extremely lucky to miss nearly 7 months training in the desert.

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Friday 16th June 1916. The greatest day of all.
The day has actually arrived when the Division will start & make a move out of Egypt. The A Section Tent Division formed the advance party for the Ambulance & left on Thursday the 15th. Eric is one of the party. The remainder of our Unit boarded the train at 11 p.m. travelling on open cattle trucks, it was very cold I can assure you. "Comfortable I don’t think". At each big station we stopped at, the train was rushed by filthy natives selling cigarettes etc. Thank God that I will soon see the last of the "Gipoes". Arrived at Alexandria about 7 a.m. on the 17th inst.

Saturday 17th June.
At 11 a.m. the Ambulance was on board a huge troopship all ready to visit a new country. It all seems too good to be true that we are actually leaving this land of "Sand & Sore Eyes" Our sleeping quarters are absolutely filthy, it is situated down in the hold of the ship, dark & stinking & many feet from fresh air. The mattresses in our bunks were very filthy. It was told that this same boat took a big batch of troops from Egypt a little while back & these beautiful quarters were not even cleaned out. It is without a doubt in an absolutely filthy state, the place reeks. The Officer Commanding our Unit condemned our sleeping quarters, & we were all allowed to sleep on deck, but of course we practically live in these very enticing diggings. Met a great number of old pals on board, including Alf. Skinner on old Neutral Bay school boy & Stg. Holthouse from Ben Boyd Road.

Sunday June 18th.
Sail from Alexandria at 6 a.m. & this boat can travel. The glorious sea breeze was delightful after being amongst sandstorms & heat for close on 7 months. Watched the shores of Egypt fade away as we steamed into the Mediterrean, & I thought of the great

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experience it had been whilst living amidst the land of sand & filth. It is indeed a land of "Mystery". Menu for meals on Sunday 18th inst. Breakfast. About 4 tablespoons of porridge containing hard lumps like suet but with no milk or sugar. Thick black coffee also without milk. A piece of bread about as big as a cricket ball & butter as much as would cover a florin. Of course art mid-day most of the fellows were just about famished. Dinner. A couple of potatoes (in their jackets) & a piece of meat about 4 in. square. ¼ cup of soup, the latter was very good, but not nearly enough. Of course no bread or tea issued for this meal. Tea. Bread, a piece of butter about the same amount as issued for breakfast, & a dessertspoonful of jam. The three meals put together would just about make a decent meal. Saw some of the Officers tucker being cooked, roast chicken etc. Every man has been issued with a life belt, these must be worn or must be always at hand, any one found without one will be severely crimed. The sun-set this evening was very beautiful. Bob & I stood on the bow & gazed at the beautiful sight, the splendour of it cannot be described in words. The glorious sea breeze was delightful after the heat that all had experienced last 6 months.

Monday 19th June.
6 a.m. Bob Roberts, Esbert Smith & I are all sitting in the bow enjoying the beautiful sea air, ship just beginning to roll. All feel very hungry & another two hours to wait for breakfast. An impressive Church parade was conducted by our friend Captain Ward on the Aft Deck. He & I seem to be following each other about. I intend taking him down to our cosy bed rooms where sun never penetrates & very little fresh air is found, it will be an eye opener for him.

Land sighted, turned out to be the Island of Crete (can be easily found on the map).

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Wednesday 21st June 1916.
Perfect weather sea like a sheet of glass. Malta passed today. Food good, but very little of it.

Thursday 22nd June.
Sardinia sighted today. Parade held at 3:30 p.m. in our Australian uniforms, our drill khaki put in kit bags & placed in the hold of the ship. I believe there will be sent back to Egypt or most probably dumped overboard. Air very fresh today, everyone feeling the cold immensely after living in the heat of Egypt.

Friday 23rd June.
7 a.m. Entering port of Marseilles, civilisation at last. Quite a treat to see no dirty niggers about. Band playing on top deck, great excitement on board, the cheers
were deafening. (just read in newspaper that enemy Aeroplanes flew over Serapeum & attempted to drop bombs on the camp & boats proceeding up the Canal. We spent 3 months there). 4 p.m. Disembarked & proceeded to railway station to start off on our journey from the South to the4 North of France. Crowds of womenfolk thronged the streets & gave the troops a great reception. Started off at 6 p.m. It is without a doubt the most beautiful country that I ever set foot on. You cannot imagine the splendour of the scenery, especially after the sandy desert. The cultivation of the land is really wonderful even enormous hills are under cultivation. Everything looks beautifully fresh & green, this evidently the best time of the year to travel in this country, the land is looking at its best. At every big station we passed the inhabitants gave us a good cheer & of course we returned the compliment. French soldiers are to be seen everywhere. One thing I could not help noticing that the majority of men working on the farms etc. etc. were elderly men, too old for soldiers & nearly every woman seen, was dressed in mourning. There is a solemn quietness about the country we passed through, everyone

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noticed this fact. Hot tea served out at Valence, we received a great reception here.

Saturday 24th June.
8 a.m. breakfast at Lyons, an enormous city & a great manufacturing town, the cheering here was deafening, stopped here 18 minutes. A very apetising, breakfast, biscuits & bully beef. Tonnerre a fine town at 10 a.m. scenery round here absolutely magnificent. Lunch at Macon, bully feel & biscuits again. 4 p.m. arrived at Dijon V.A. girls served out tea (See map).

Sunday 25th June. Arrive at Juvisy at 6 a.m. biscuits & bully beef served out for breakfast (How I enjoy this meal) All looking forward for the arrival at Paris but unfortunately we proceeded along a branch line. At Fourveaux the Eiffel Tower of Paris could be seen in the distance. The country we are passing through is indeed very beautiful. Amiens at 5 p.m. have now been 47 hours in train. 7 p.m. Abbevielle stopped here 15 minutes for tea. Forgot to mention about the twilight it is indeed very pleasant. It is day light right up till 10 p.m. Shortly after leaving Abbevielle we sighted a big Australian Camp, we all got very downhearted here, as we though this may be our destination, the country was very sandy but we still travelled on. At 4 a.m. on the 26th inst. We were rudely awakened from our slumbers, & left the train & marched to our billet, which was situated in a pretty little French village, about 1 ½ miles from the station. The train tip was wonderful & a great experience 56 hours in the train. Bob & I enjoyed a good breakfast at a farm house, eggs, toast & plenty of milk. Bob shouted me this luxury as I arrived in France with only a penny. (So I was not absolutely penniless).

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Monday 26th June 1916.
From now on I will be unable to state the names of the towns & villages in which we were billeted or visited. Eric arrived this morning. Although the advance party left first we beat them easily. Leave granted to all to visit the small village, it is indeed a very pretty place. A great treat living here after living in the sand. The inhabitants are a very homely & kind folk. Met Capt. Ward, he is still a good sport & very popular with the men. During the afternoon a small party of us visited the Cathedral. Inside was a tomb of the Duke of Morbecque 1263, 700 years ago. The statues in the Cathedral are magnificent & splendour of the Altars is indescribable. The drapings are exquisite Some of the oil paintings on the wall are hundreds of years old & are worth thousands of pounds. Outside the church we cam across a vault many hundreds of years old, the coffins were all smashed open rather a gruesome sight. I believe the vault was smashed on during the French Pruissian War.

Tuesday 28th June.
Raining all through the night, looks like if it is set in for the week. Mud & slush everywhere. Met some charming French girls who do their best to make our short stay in the village a pleasant one.

29th June.
Pleasant route march this morning, very pretty country we marched through resembles the Moss Vale to Nowra trip. What a contrast to those marches in Egypt.

30th June.
Gas Helmet practice, a most important part of a training as a great number of casualties have occurred during Gas attacks etc.

- to July 5th .
Plenty of rain. Preparations for moving off to a new destination. Goggles & two Gas Helmets issued to each man.

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July 6th 1916
Holiday granted today as we will soon be leaving for a more active scene & will have some very stiff marches before us. Big mail arrived, two months reaching its destination.

8th July 1916.
Move off at 9 a.m. in full marching order, carrying waterproof sheets, blanket & steel helmet as well as our packs. Marched 7 ½ miles when a halt was made for lunch. We were informed by one of our officers that over 1000 of the infantry dropped out along the road. The heavy load that the poor fellows in the infantry carry is too severe. March on again at 2:30 p.m. & reach [blank] at about 4 p.m. This is a fair size town & we are billeted in the town hall. All very tired, the hard roads very severe on the feet after marching in the sand for so long. Thousands of troops in the town. Watched an enemy aeroplane being bombarded from anti air craft guns, an imposing sight.

July 9th 1916.
Start off again at 11 a.m. An impressive sight seeing so many troops marching through the town. Some of the Battalions wore their steel helmets, it looked very peculiar. All along the march we could see aeroplanes being bombarded thousands of feet in the air. At 4 p.m. a halt is made & we are billeted in an old farm house a number or buildings close by in ruins, destroyed by the enemy at the beginning of the war. Guns can be heard quite plainly. As soon as darkness et in the roar of the guns was terrific, sounded like thunder.

July 11th 1916.
Portion of B & C. Sections go out to the trenches whilst A section march back about a mile along the road to a big building, & form a Dressing Station. The idea is this, B. & C. Sections established advanced dressing stations about 2 miles from the trenches. The stretcher bearers carry the wounded to the advanced D.S., the wounded are

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here examined by our doctors. Motor Ambulances then convey the men to our Dressing Station. Any urgent operations are performed here & the patients are then sent to a stationery Hospital, as soon as possible so as to make room for fresh cases.

July 12, 13, & 14th.
Three very quiet days, very few casualties but plenty of fatigue duty for us. Big mail arrived, received 12 letters.

July 15th 1916.
In the evening a great number of patients arrived. Poor fellows, some of them are crippled for life. We are only just beginning to realise how serious & dreadful this war is.

July 16th 1916.
B Section returned but are sent back again for duty in the trenches at night. All A Section are anxious for their turn in the trenches. Had a trip to a big town in Northern France on duty. It is just a mass of ruins, huge buildings are just a heap of debris, it is a cruel sight. The Germans often shell this town.

July 17th 1916.
Took a number of patients in the Motor Ambulance to a rest Station about 5 miles from our dressing station. These little trips each day are very enjoyable.

July 18th 1916.
A great number of aeroplanes flying round today towards evening, they were frequently bombarded. It is very exciting to watch the shells burst all round them. The last couple of days have been very quiet.

July 19th 1916 . The charge of the Australians.
July 20th July 21st July 22nd.

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July 19th to July 22nd
10 a.m. Four men were wanted to proceed immediately to one of our Advanced Dressing Stations about 2 miles away, towards the Trenches. I volunteered & was accepted. At mid-day arrived at our new quarters. I can safely say without contradiction that I have been under shell fire. At 4 p.m. a number of shells burst not far from us, a distance from two to three hundred yards, too close to be pleasant. There are number of guns concealed around us & the Germans are evidently trying to hit them, it is hard to catch them napping, the guns were only placed here a few days ago & almost immediately the enemy knew of it. A chap has just been brought in is sitting by my side, poor devil, his whole body is shaking, one would think he was shivering with the cold. His nerves must be shattered.

10 p.m. News just came through that the Australians have taken two lines of trenches & captured a number of prisoners. A small batch of German prisoners just been marched by. About a dozen were brought in to our dressing station to have their wounds dressed. Their clothes I noticed were in good conditions. Number of Australian wounded keep coming in. 2 a.m. Orders to move off to the trenches to do our bit, all very anxious to be in the "Straffe" (If we only knew) The Sergeant in charge of the party took the wrong road, & we did not arrive at the other dressing station till about 3:30 a.m. Was very tired, no sleep. The sky looked beautiful, one mass of light & star-shells etc. & the booming of guns etc. was deafening. We had to start stretcher bearing immediately. I was working all that day, 36 hours altogether. The sight at the Dressing Station was terrible, hundreds of wounded men were lying about, some of them not recognisable, they were so shattered & covered in blood. The bearers carried these men after being looked at by the doctor, to the Motor Ambulances, about ¾ mile away. The noise of the guns

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grenades & machine guns was terrific. No one can realise what the noise is like unless they are close by. The beginning of the Trenches is called the Sap, this was about ½ a mile from the dressing station. One being informed that there were hundreds of wounded men in the trenches a great number of us proceeded down the Sap. I went down with a chap who knew the run of the trenches. He gave me a warning when we were approaching any dangerous spot, Here we had to crouch down & run like blazes, the bullets from machine guns were whistling over our heads. About half way down the Sap, we passed a dead chap who was hanging half way over the parapet. A number of dangerous points were passed before we reached the firing Line. The sight that I looked upon here I shall never forget. Good God it was terrible. Dead Australians lying about, had to pick our way over them, to reach our wounded men who signalled to us. In some placed the dead were piled up four & five deep. The trench was almost battered down by shrapnel. The trip back to Dressing Station was very severe, the saps were much narrower than I expected them to be, in some places there was scarcely room for a stretcher to pass. The ground was also uneven. It took us fully two hours to carry the poor chap to the Air Post. It was a terrible experience, in one part of this terrible journey I tripped & fell over the stretcher, I was very nervous in case I should hurt the poor fellow gain who had a very serious wound. My whole body was trembling, was forced to sit down & rest for about 15 minutes. I could not possibly go on, I must have kept about 20 stretcher cases behind me waiting, but they all knew what was wrong. Of course on going down the 2nd time I was much more at ease, although very tired. Three times to the firing Line & rest of the time I carried wounded from the dressing station to the motors. Towards evening my legs were all trembling, the strain had been very severe. Every one of our men looked worn out. It must have been Hell in the trenches

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during the night. The casualties were terrible, you cannot imagine & I dare not mention the total. All these men lost in one night. We were informed that a great number of men went mad before the first charge. It is too terrible to write about, this was is not human, & is a disgrace to Christianity. The sights I saw will never be forgotten. The Australians took three lines of trenches & then the Germans hacked them to pieces with their machine guns & schrapnel. The last time I was down in the trenches they were almost deserted. One of the Battalions in this raid (as the papers call it) had a roll call in the paddock not far from the Dressing Station only 29 answered their names. At 10 p.m. we were relieved thank God & we made our way back to our billet a good 4 miles. Passed crowds of reinforcements making their way to the trenches. Dropped into bed about 12 p.m. slept like a log. In the morning was up again & giving a hand lifting the wounded out of the motors & carrying them to the operating & reception rooms. The yard was crowded with wounded, it must have been terrible slaughter again during the night. More bearers were required to proceed to that terrible portion of the trenches, in which we lost so heavily. Formed one of the party. Glad to say when we arrived there to find that all the wounded had been brought up. Proceeded back to headquarters & gave a hand carrying the wounded from the cars to the operating room. The yard was still crowded with wounded. Some of the poor fellows had been lying in "No Mans Land" for 36 hours without food or drink. What heroes they are. At mid-day the rush was over & the wounded all attended to & sent to a clearing Hospital, from there they are taken to trains & proceed to General Hospital Ruon of Calais. I think one of the most sad sights are the poor chaps whose nerves are shattered. There whole body is shaking & at every sound go a gun they nearly jump out of the stretchers. The whole affair is cruel, an experience that will never by forgotten. A couple of our men during the night jumped over the parapet & brought

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in a couple of wounded I believe they are to be mentioned for their bravery. Every man who was in Gallipoli said that it was only a picnic when compared with this fighting. In the afternoon we all enjoyed a well earned res, but unfortunately at 4 p.m. we had to shift from our billets & make for bomb proof dug-outs. The enemy started looking for our battery, a few shells landed in the garden surrounding our billet. We look upon it as a great joke when Fritz starts sending a few souvenirs over. A soldier walking along the street was caught by a piece of shrapnel, & brought into us to be attended to. At 8 o’clock 8 men were called up to proceed to the trenches. I was included in this party, we were taken to our destination in a motor ambulance. A different direction to where we had been previous. Buildings passed all the way along the road were a mass of ruins. We had a walk of two miles along a sap which was a great improvement to the ones we had been in yesterday, they were much wider & had a good strong floor. Spent the night in a dug-out, very comfortable & plenty of blankets. The latter we found next day, very chatty. Just before turning in I had to go with two others & obtain some stretchers & place them at the mouth of the Sap on the main road. The distance was about 2 miles, snipers were at work & we had to move pretty brisk. On arriving back at our dug-out I was taking off my putties at the door when something dropped just in front of me. On being informed that it was a bullet it did not take me long to get inside the dug-out, I believe that this is the 5th time that an attack has been made by the Allies but the Germans are too strongly entrenched. Our companies in the dug-out are New Zealanders & British Tommies & they are very decent chaps. The former happened to be in camp at Moassea (Egypt) when we arrived there after that terrible route march. But of course that march is nothing when compared with the last couple of days. A good drink of rum soon puts a fellow right as I found out. I have been most anxious to be in action for the last six months but never again. Good God I hope I do not

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strike any more days like the 19th & 20th of July. It is embedded in my mind. Of course, this was an exception, it may be quiet now for some weeks. We make our own fire & cook our meals. It is our home, of course, we have to keep our eyes open when shells are flying round. During the afternoon I went down to the front line with two New Zealanders. The trenches are well built here, looked through a Periscope & saw the German trenches, they were about 300 yds. away.

Snipers played hell during the night, we could hear the bullets whizzing past our dug-out, no casualties in the night. It is very hard to realize that some of my pals in the 30th Battalion have been killed. I was speaking to Eric Leask a few days ago at [blank] now he is in his grave. Roy Woller, a friend of Mrs. Bolten buried him. Still living in our dug-out & all at work making it very comfortable. Our breakfast lately has been porridge & bacon. Dinner roast beef & potatoes & a good cup of tea. It is about time the cooks of our Unit learnt the way to make a decent cup of tea. Tea. Stewed Prunes, boiled rice for tea. It is like a picnic but of course we never knew when a rush of patients will occur. We were all scared during the night as bullets were whizzing round our dug-out, Luckily there were no casualties during the night. Two men killed on the 24th inst. 2 a.m. Just taken 3 patients along the Sap to the main road where motors are stationed. In the portion that we are looking after there has only6 been 7 casualties in 4 days, thank God that this has been so. Shells are flying over our dug-out & although they are bursting a long way off, none of us feel very brave. At the present time I am not on speaking terms with my underclothes. My blanket is almost alive with them, so I am evidently in for a rough time tonight. Its all in the game so its no use growling. Nic Coxan who hurt his leg in Egypt is one of our merry party. He wrote to you whilst living in the dug-out.

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July 26th 1916.
A very quiet day, slept nearly all morning. A number of men killed during the night in the different battalions. No casualties in the battalion that our party is attached to.

July 27th.
A terrible roar of guns all through the night, but luckily no casualties. My fourth parcel arrived from home. It came just at the right moment. All the boys in the dug-out appreciated the contents. The towel, soap & handkerchiefs I wanted badly as I have been out here for 5 days without a decent wash. We had 1 towel amongst 3 men & it was almost as black as the ace of spades.

July 28th.
A beautiful day it is cruel to think that men are trying to kill each other amidst all natures beauty. The blue sky & all the country looking at its best. For the last two hours I have been sitting at the door of our dug-out watching our British Aeroplanes dodging about. Some of the Airman are very daring & fly right over the German lines. They are being continually bombarded from enemies guns & many of them have very narrow escapes. It is very exciting to watch these planes manouvreing amidst shot & shell but it would be terrible sight to see one brought down. This is our 8th day in the Angels Dug-out, & our packs have not arrived yet, no chance for a change of under-clothes. At 2 a.m. this morning we were awakened by the guard for a gas alarm. But thank God it did not prove to be true. We all wore our Gas Helmets for about 15 minutes. I am told that a few sniffs of this poisonous gas will kill & man. 7 p.m. 8 British Aeroplanes have just flow over the German lines, it was a wonderful sight. They were being continually bombarded, but they managed to escape disaster, as far as we could see.

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July 29th 1916.
Both the British & German Artillery have been exchanging compliments all day. Shells have been flying over our home by the score. Of course they are bursting a good distance from us & everything is O.K. The village in the rear of us is in flames, it is probably a mass of ruins now. The German Artillery have been shelling the country around us all day. At midnight another chap Tom Ross & I were called out to take a wounded man to the road where a motor ambulance will convey him to our Hospital. The distance we carried was about a mile & a half, it was very exciting at times proceeding along the Sap, with bullets whizzing over our heads, very often we had to crouch down & run like hares, when we came across a portion of the Sap which was broken down. Very glad when we arrived back at our dug-out.

July 30th.
7 p.m. A couple of shells have just burst about 20 yards from our dug-out too close to be pleasant. We all made a rush for our little home like rabbits into a burrow.
8 p.m. Our first serious case just been brought in from the firing line. The doctor attended to the patient & Tom Ross & I carried the poor chap to the road. I received a great surprise, I met an old school mate of mine, named Marsden. On our way back I came across Carl Gow, wonders will never cease.

July 31st & August 1st.
Nothing startling, two very quiet days, called out at midnight to carry a patient to the road. Very tedious job, as bullets were often whizzing over our heads.

August 2nd.
A competition held today on ourselves game hunting, unfortunately I came out on top had a good catch. Australian Artillery bombarding the vicinity of the Germans all the afternoon. The noise is deafening. A great number of British Aeroplanes manoeuvreing round all day. A grand sight watching some of the airmen, who are very daring, looping the loop

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right over the German lines. Probably giving signals to our Artillery. The airmen were often given a warm reception, shells burst all round them. A few shell caps from these shells fell near our dug-out, so it is best to keep under cover when these exciting events take place. Some of the chaps collected a few shell caps & are keeping them as souvenirs, they are rather too heavy for me to carry about, the pack is quite enough.

3rd August 1916. A very quiet day 5 p.m. The Germans have been continually shelling a house which is about ½ mile from us. The place must be an observation post. It is now a mass of ruins. It was a grand sight to see the shells hurl portion of the house, scores of feet into the air, counted 35 explosions altogether. Met an old school mate of mine today – Harold Biden. All through the night our Artillery kept up a continual bombardment at the German lines. Just a small gift for Fritz, on the anniversary of the second year since England declared war on Germany. The roar of the guns was terrific & sleep was out of the question. Gas alarm during the night.

4th August
A busy day, we had 9 cases to carry to the road, A very strenuous job, a wounded man on a stretcher soon gets very heavy. Another terrific bombardment during the night sleep out of the question.

5th August.
From all accounts the Ambulance is all split up. One section is at a rest station, & another section is miles away on another direction. Whilst A Section is working in the trenches etc. 11 a.m. Took another walk down to the front line & saw a great number of my friends who were on board the "Beltana", including Lieut. Zanders (from Neutral Bay Rifle Club). It was very quiet in the Front Line of Trenches, not one shot was fired by either side whilst I was there. Saw the German Trenches through a periscope. 7 p.m. A British Aeroplane has just been brought down, it landed about a mile from us. The dirty swines

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immediately started shelling the ground where the machine would likely fall. Hitting a man when he is down a good sportaman like action. They have been shelling for the last 30 minutes. Called twice during the night. One man was dying whilst on the way to the motor. A cruel sight but of course a common one. There are a very few men who do not feel frightened or very excited when being under fire for the first time. It is of course the object of military authorities to see that the men are kept as safe as possible, but in these days of snipers, stray bullets shell fragments & what not, we must share to some extent however carefully guarded the dangers of the day. I have had a number of narrow escapes, every soldier has had. I did not like it. I do not believe that one does, cannot conceive that anybody likes to be in village that is being shelled, or in an open space that is being shelled or in a motor car going along a road that is being shelled. I have noticed that the older & more experienced the soldier, the less he takes chances. There are chances even in looking through periscopes, at a considerable distance from the enemy. All looking forward to being relieved.

August 6th & 7th.
Very quiet days nothing doing but plenty of live stock.

August 8th. Instead of being relieved as we expected, myself & a pal Tom Ross, have been sent closer to the firing line for duty. Our new dug-out is very small, hardly enough room for two to squeeze in. Plenty of rats & chats in our new home. Cooked our own meals today, very enjoyable, fried bread & chops.

August 9th.
Terrific bombardment proceeding all through the night, Ross & I found it an impossibility to go to sleep. Luckily we were not called out. Left our stuffy quarters at 7 a.m. & proceeded to a farm house where our motors

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are stationed. It was a beautiful morning & the two mile walk through the Saps was very pleasant. We enjoyed a good breakfast at the farm. On our way back the Germans were trying to find one of our Batteries & the country around us was being shelled. We soon made our selves scarce from this warm spot. Four trips with patients up till midday. 5 p.m. Relief party have made its appearance at last. We have all had a fair innings of this job, we were 20 days living in a dug-out. A pleasant task before us a 6 mile march before we reach our rest camp. Arrived there at 11 p.m. very tired & dirty. No change of underclothing for three weeks.

10th August 1916. Left the camp at 9 p.m. for a fair sized town, about 3 miles away where hot baths are available. This town we passed through on the 9th July on our way to the front. But alas, thousands of fellows who marched through on this date (9th July) will never see the town again. At the baths our uniforms were fumigated & clean clothes given to each man. Spent the day in the town, a very enjoyable change.

12th August
Met Sid Smith today, he was in that never to be forgotten route march in Egypt. 12 months today since our unit formed at Liverpool. A special parade was called & the Colonel made a short speech. Bricky Howard, the chap who took me down to the front Line on that terrible day the 20th July has been awarded the Military Medal for distinguished conduct & bravery. He brought some sounded in from "No Mans Land". He deserved this honour & it is also an honour to our Unit.

14th August
Shifting again, march off at 7 a.m. & are billeted at a school in that town which I visited on the 10th inst.

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August 15th to August 22nd.
Training again Squad & Stretcher Drill.

August 24th.
Thursday half-holiday. Eric, Bob & myself went for a walk to [blank] a fair sized town much bigger than the one that we are at present living. The distance was about 9 miles altogether. We spent a very enjoyable afternoon. Visited the Church. The carvings statues & drapings inside the Cathedral were magnificent. It is the finest church we have been in since landing in France.

Sunday 27th August.
Visited the Aerodrome, which is situated about two miles from our billet. It was a very interesting afternoon walking round & inspecting the Aeroplanes.

Monday 28th August.
Spent the day working in the fields harvesting, a very interesting & healthy occupation. In the evening a splendid concert was given ty the Unit at the School. It was great success. All the officers were present.

Tuesday 29th August.
A Section Tent Division have moved off to a village situated in a wood to form a small Hospital for troops. The distance must be close on 12 miles, a long & stiff march with packs on. Eric left with this party. During the afternoon I came across Roy Watkins & Hector Dargin, old school mates of mine. They were both 18 months in Egypt, both looked very well. The Unit is split up a great deal now. Men distributed in different places doing useful work.

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September 10th.
Now on a new job. Traffic Policeman in one of the main thoroughfares of the town. Rather a good job only work 4 hours a day, a good rest after working in the trenches. Met another old school mate of mine, Jack Graham, have not seen him for about 9 years.

September 11th. to Thursday 21st September.
On the Traffic job & giving all the nice mademoiselles the glad eye (I don’t think) Plenty of rain, mud & slush, everywhere.

Friday 22nd September.
After being here for six weeks we had unexpected orders to move to a new spot but is close to the firing line again , we will only be there for a fortnight from all accounts. Revielle 4 a.m. march off at 6 a.m. The distance was about 9 miles. very pleasant marching in the early morning, the fields looked beautifully green. As we approached the town the Artillery could be heard quite plainly. Billeted in a fine building, was once a school. We are relieving the Scotch & a fine body of men they are too. When I heard the bag-pipes & saw the jocks, marching along, I thought of the good old days when I was in the Scottish Rifles in Sydney. The town is one mass of ruins, it is a cruel sight, I believe Fritz often sends a few souvenirs over. Our B. Section proceeded to the trenches. A number of wounded in Hospital.

Monday 25th September.
A Section bad luck again, 25 men are required to form a Sanitary Section. Most of the male population of this town are fighting for their country & it is left to us to keep the city clean. We clean the streets of this town & collect dirt boxes from the houses. Some job I guess. Fritz sent a few shells over this

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afternoon as souvenirs A couple burst in the next street to our fillet. Two soldiers & four civilians brought into our Hospital.

Tuesday 28th September.
One good point in favour of this Sanitary job. Going our rounds we can obtain a good inspect of the town. It is really a cruel sight. Street after street is one mass of ruins & debris & quite deserted. The main square is in a pitiable condition. Fine buildings such as churches etc. are no more, they are battered out of recognition. Fritz still sending a few souvenirs into the town.

Thursday 28th September
About 4 p.m. the Germans started shelling the town again. About [blank] civilians were brought into our dressing station by our town stretcher bearers. Hideous sights, it gives me the creeps when I think of it. One shell landed in a workshop killing 8 workmen & wounding several others. One of my old pals in A Section Alf. Polten was hit by a piece of shell but fortunately he is only very slightly wounded. Our unit has been exceptionally lucky we have only suffered two casualties. The other one occurred on that terrible day July 22nd. this fortunately was also a slight would. Sincerely hope our good luck continues (We all had charmed lives on July 19th & 20th)

29th September
Ambulance ordered to take shelter in the cellars of a brewery. The British Artillery are going to give the Huns a severe bombardment & of course they expect Fritz to reply. In the cellars for about 2 hours. but very little bombardment owing to so much mist hanging about. Watched a German War Balloon being bombarded, it was brought to the ground in flames.

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October 1st 1916.
Sanitary job still going strong. Met an old pal of mine today. Joe Punch (once a member of the Cammeray Cricket Club) He left Sydney 8 years ago & enlisted in Queensland. Received the sad news today of the death o Eric Conolly I can hardly realise it.

Sunday 8th October. 12 months today since we left Sydney for Melbourne.

Thursday 12th October.
Shifting again on Saturday 14th. have no idea where our destination well be. It may probably be to our winter quarters. For the last week Fritz has been very quiet I believe our guns found his battery, & blew it to pieces. A bright prospect in front of us (I don’t think). When we leave on Saturday we will carry as well as our packs, two gas helmets, one steel helmet & a blanket., some weight. One cannot realise how heavy these articles are unless they have been through the ordeal.

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Duck – here comes another.
Hows Fritz this afternoon? – very quiet so far you are told. But you soon realise that this quietness is not to continue. A hiss like air escaping from a motor tyre which rapidly increases in an awful crescendo till a din resembling a train tearing through a cutting is reached – a thundering explosion & the made career of a German six inch shell has ended.

What are you doing while all this is going on. At the first hiss you realise that a shell is coming over. Without delay you rush to put some object between your valuable self & the spot where you anticipate the landing of the shell. Even with a fence as the object you feel a certain amount of safety.

You are the result of the explosion what was 5 minutes ago a house is now a heap of ruins with clouds of dust still rising.

It is only a matter of seconds & you decide that the brewery cellar is a much safer position than this battered street.

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Somewhere in France
12th November 1916
PART IV 13th October, 1916, to 9th November, 1916. On the Somme

Dear Mother & Father,

It is about a month today, since I wrote a letter home, this is very unusual for me, as you know, but it has been impossible as we have either been travelling, or else in the
Trenches. I have sent quite a number of Field Service Cards to Australia as they do not need censoring, as long as you hear that I am O.K. you will be satisfied I think. On the 9th inst we came out of the Trenches for a short rest, so immediately sent a cable (Woollen Sydney. All Well. Love Langford), hope you received it safely. I thank God for keeping me safe so far, ever since leaving Australia I have said my prayers every day & also prayed for you. I have been in some very warm corners & had some marvellous escapes lately, but of course I had better start from the beginning & tell you of my experiences during the last month. (Please excuse all the I’s).

Hearing that we would be leaving our very comfortable billet for a more active scene I decided to copy out the fourth edition of my diary. It took a week to complete it, as you will remember I was working in the sanitary squad & did not have much time to spare. Luckily I finished on the 13th October, the day before our departure. Captain Beverage, a brother Chaplain with Capt. Ward, kindly consented to censor it, met him yesterday he told me it was all right, & by now it should be well on its way, that is if the censor at the base approved of it. On the 14th October all was

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excitement & bustle & we wee about to start on our travels. For the first time in the history of the ambulance we did not march but were conveyed in motor lorries to our next billet. It was a very pleasant trip. The distance must have been close on 18 miles, & the country was looking very fine. Met Lieut. Zanders, he is looking very well & wished to be remembered to you. Our Orderly Room is a very fine building, it was Von Kluck’s headquarters in 1914. We were all greatly surprised next day on being told to fall in, & we went for a long route march carrying heavy packs. In the evening

I attended church at the Y.M.C.A., conducted by our old friend Captain Ward. The following evening a splendid concert was arranged by Captain Ward & held at the Y.M.C.A. It was a great success & the good old 30th Battalion band from the "Beltana" was in attendance. I thought of the splendid concerts we had on the "Beltana" & in Egypt, but alas, almost all new faces now, the others have passed away. On the 17th October we marched away from this small village & entrained at 5.p.m., travelling in cattle trucks, 40 men to a truck, very comfortable I can assure you. We could not sit down comfortably & it was also very cold. Disentrained at 9 a.m. on the 18th & start on a vert strenuous march. The roads were in a disgusting state & it was raining at the time. The packs soon became heavy & we had numerous hills to climb, before our next billet came in sight. The distance must have been close on 10 miles, all weary & tired out on arriving at our billet, a small party of us stopped at a farm house, plenty of straw to make a comfortable bed. Those packs are named correctly when called the "Soldiers Curse". One soon gets tired carrying

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these packs, two gas helmets, a steel helmet & webbing equipment. When a halt is made for a rest we flop down anywhere into the mud etc. we get so weary that we do not care what happens. The next day we enjoyed a well earned rest, it was heaven lying on a soft bed of straw all day. The weather is almost at freezing point, & those comforts which I received from you & Aunt Ada have come in very useful. On the 20th Oct.

October we again enjoyed an excellent trip in motor busses. The whole Brigade were shifted in this manner, the busses must have stretched a good two miles along the road. The trip took all day, the distance travelled was about 25 miles, & we passed through Some very fine country, spent the night in a small village & slept in bunks, which were built by the Germans at the beginning of the war. You cannot realise how cold it was. I have never experienced anything like it before, & one blanket is not over much for this weather. At 9 a.m. on the 21st inst. we start off for the vicinity of the trenches, it was a most severe march. Felt like falling out before we had gone half the distance, trudged through mud inches thick, after travelling about 7 miles we halted & had lunch, biscuits & bully beef. (You have no idea how I enjoyed the latter). The country we are walking through is one mass of shell holes & dug-outs, it is really a great sight, as we are now on the greatest battle field that the world has ever seen. Passing over country that was occupied by the Germans up till July 1st this year, it is really wonderful the advance that has been made here by the Allies. The dugouts we passed were wonderfully built, they were many feet deep, some of them between 50 & 60 feet deep, it is no wonder that the Huns were here for so long. Of course as far as the eye can see is just a mass of bare country, not t building remains standing everything is in ruins. We passed numerous cemeteries on the way. The roar of the Artillery was deafening. (Kindly excuse writing, we are under canvas again & I am using the ground for a table).

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Whilst in the Trenches I received the following letters, ask my friends to read this & accept it an answer. We can safely call this the 4th Edition of my Diary. Kindly type it.

Mother & Father Sept 3rd, 34th, 10th 18th August 13th Date of letter. 28th

Vera – Sept 4th & 12th & pr socks.
Dolly Levy – Sept. 4th & August 29th.
Dorothy Loder – Sept. 3rd
Rose Cohen – August 30th
Glady Herford – August 31st
Berla Gall& – Sept. 3rd & 11th.
Bene – Sept. 3rd & 11th.
My two cousins. Daisy G. Colley-Priest
Lily B. Colley-Priest
Fathers sister (Mrs Beaus)

I suppose a good mail & parcels for me have gone down in the Arabia.
Fondest Love Hard Luck from your only son Langford

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Thousands of troops everywhere, coming out & going into the trenches, Australians, English & Scottish soldiers, the latter I consider are the finest set of men that we have come in contact with. We read a lot about the brilliant Anzacs, but the Scots will do for me, we look squibs besides them. We pass motor lorries by the thousand, we are certainly in for a big stunt by the look of things. At 4.p.m. another halt is made & fortunately we do not move on till to-morrow, hot stew served out for tea, it was delicious, slept in wooden huts, & before morning it was terribly cold. In the morning small pools of water were frozen, so you can form some idea of what the autumn is like here. Camped near a wood, a few sticks now, where some terrible fighting took place some months ago, it must have been hell there. The roar of the guns during the nights was terrific & the sky was one mass of light. The Germans must be getting hell just now, having a little of their own back. Early next morning the Ambulance moved off again, very hard task walking through mud inches thick, carrying our heavy packs. Frost covered the ground. An exciting duel took place in the air, but the German plane escaped. In some places it was a difficult matter to find a decent track to walk along, the ground is one mass of shell holes, trenches & barb wire etc. Arrived at our Headquarters about 11.p.m., it will be our Advanced Dressing Station,
it consists of a number of dug-outs. The stretcher bearers march on about a mile & settle down in some dug-outs. Some of them are as big as marquee tents, myself & two chaps, Fred Trust & Knowles, found a cosy little dug-out, collected a great number of sand bags & made it very comfortable. We will work with two other Ambulances. At 2.p.m. we parade again, & start away to do our bit. I believe we will work in relays, & carry our patients to a

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certain point, & then another squad will carry on, eight posts altogether from the front line to the Advanced Dressing Station, a distance of about 2 ½ - miles. Luckily I was included in the party who were stationed at the first post, which was only about ¾ mile from Headquarters. We are living in an abandoned trench, mud & slush everywhere & very cold. A very nice prospect sitting here till midnight, especially as one of our batteries are close by, & the noise, well, you cannot realise what it is like, it is absolutely deafening. Only one patient arrived at our post during the night, Fritz is evidently wasting a lot of ammunition. At 12 p.m. we were relieved by another Ambulance, & returned to our dug-outs, which were about 2 miles away. Being new comers we found it a tedious task finding our way back. We were continually falling into shell holes & mud. Eventually arrived at our diggings were we found hot stew & tea waiting for us. This was appreciated by all, slept till 11.30 a.m. At 3 p.m. the next day all the parties make for their different posts. At 6 p.m. Tom Ross & I carried our first patient to our Dressing Station, it was a great strain, as we were slipping & sliding in the mud all the way, very often we stumbled & the patient would yet out with pain, we were very glad when the carry was over. Had to report at No—Post for rations. It was indeed a very good dug-out, about 30 feet deep, a man would be quite safe there. It is no wonder it took the British so long to push the Huns back. We had some terrible carries during the night, mud & slush everywhere, & raining in torrents. It was impossible to walk 10 yds without falling over. The mud was over our

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knees in places. What with the rain & the roar of the guns, it was an experience that I shall never forget. At 12 oclock we were relieved, & we started on our eventful walk to our dug-outs. The night was as dark as pitch, our party got lost, wandered about in a helpless fashion for about two hours. Everyone of us were covered in mud from head to foot. It was a God send when we eventually arrived at our home.

24th October.
Start off again at 2.p.m. raining heavily, & sinking in mud up to the knees. Plenty of work. A great number of patients coming from the front line, it must be hell down there. Four of our men have been sent to the hospital sick, & no wonder, we have been wet through for the last couple of days. Staff Van Houtleman offered me a soft job at Headquarters, he was rather annoyed when I refused it. I will keep on stretcher bearing till I drop with Exhaustion, our comrades lives must be saved, many a man would die if it was not for us. On the 25th October our party proceeded to the R.A.P. at the 8th Post, which was about 300 yards from our front line. It was a terrible journey getting there, walking through mud & slush up to the knees in some places. It was a terrible experience. The roar of the guns was deafening, & we often shivered in our boots when a few of Fritz shells were flying round. On arriving at the R.A.P. we were informed that ten minutes before we arrived a couple of shells landed on top of our dug-out, but of course made no impression, the Germans built it too strongly. The

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dug-out was over 50 feet deep & contained 4 rooms. We found about 20 runners & a squad of signallers there, so of course there was very little room for 26 bearers. We scrambled in somehow, & were there for 36 hours. Our rations consisted of two loaves of bread, two tins of butter, two tins of jam, & two tins of army rations, not a quarter enough for 26 men. The carry from the R.A.P. to the next relay post, was close on a mile, & a terrible road, mud & water feet deep, the poor patient had a bad time of it, as we often slipped in the mud & almost pitched the patient out of the stretcher. Judging from the roar of the guns & the illumination of the sky, it must be hell in the front line. I believe our men are wet through, rifles & machine guns choked with mud, & very little food is available. It is too terrible to write about. It is really wonderful the advance the British have made here, the place must have been a second Gibraltar. The wastage lying about is enormous, rifles, clothing, ammunition, barb wire etc. When one remembers that some of these shells cost £300/./. each, we cannot realise the vast sum of money that is wasted. At 7 p.m. the following day we were relieved, & we started on our long trip back to our home or dug-outs. Unfortunately we got lost again & walked about for hours in a hopeless fashion, a number of us kept falling down in the mud & shell holes, mud up to the knees, an awful experience, especially as an artillery duel was taking place. It was also pitch dark & raining heavily. Arrived at our dug-outs at 1 a.m. all dog tired & weary. Found to our disgust that the cook had gone to bed, & the stew was cold. An enormous amount of sickness in the Ambulance, & I don’t wonder at it. Received a big mail 13 letters, but had to leave the reading of them till the next day,

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I was even too tired to read them. Of course our underclothes are one mass of chats.
27th October, Friday. A new idea to day, we will work 48 hours stretcher bearing & have 24 hours off, rather to long for me. Fortunately our party did not proceed far, but stopped at the first post for 24 hours, plenty of work, we were nearly frozen during the night. The next 24 hours we worked at another R.A.P. which was about half a mile from our front line. I was the runner for the night, that is when a patient is brought to the R.A.P. I go & inform our men who are in dug-outs about 200 yards away. I did not relish walking about on my own during the night especially as Fritz was very angry & sending shells at the time, almost fell over a dead German which was lying on the track. I was greatly relieved when daylight appeared. Weather terribly cold. Have never felt so cold before. A number of our men have returned to headquarters sick, I think that I shall soon follow them. On the 28th October we had a great rush of patients, it was very fatiguing work. Met Capt. Ward who kindly gave me some comforts for the boys. Feel absolutely done up, a Blistered heel & a heavy cold. If those brave men of the infantry in the front line are suffering it is up to us to do our best. Watched some exciting air duels, an imposing sight. We are all just one mass of mud from head to foot, almost unrecognisable, no wash or shave for eight days. Relieved at 6 p.m. & made for the 7th Post. A wet cold & miserable night, walking through mud feet thick. Trembling with cold during the night. It is a horrible sensation in the dark with shells flying around. I thank God for keeping me safe so far. Very few cases next day. Fritz is evidently wasting an enormous amount of ammunition. Slept in an old German dug-out nearly all day, it contained straw bunks & of course they were alive with vermin. At 5 p.m. we were relieved & we started on that dreadful walk back again, luckily we arrived at

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the Advanced Dressing Station before dark & enjoyed a good hot meal. Enjoyed some excellent cocoa, our first hot drink for 48 hours.

30th October.
Woke up feeling very crook, & I don’t wonder at it. Reported to my esteemed friend & asked for a days rest. He was very sarcastic, but I managed to have two days rest & feel every so much better. A great number of our men have been sent away sick, it is no wonder as we have all been wet through on numerous occasions. On Thursday 2nd November I felt a great deal better & proceeded once again to the strafe. Raining heavily all day, my pal in my dug-out had a narrow escape, a piece of shrapnel dented in his steel helmet. Twelve months to day since I left Melbourne for Sydney. I little thought then that a year later I would be stretcher bearing on the greatest battlefield in the world. The mud was worse than ever, we felt done up before we reached our posts. Twelve days without a wash or shave, or change of clothes. "What a life". The poor beggars in the infantry I do pity them, before they reach the front line they are done up, it is very severe trudging through the mud. I was speaking to a young fellow who had done 24 hours in the firing line, on a biscuit & a half & only a little water. How can men fight on an empty stomach. 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. 120 walking patients passed through our hands to the Advanced Dressing Station, it is getting worse every day. Very cold at our post during the night, I was prepared & collared a few blankets. Rumours about, that we will shortly be relieved, it will be a God send, we are all sick of this mud & rain. About midnight our squad was called out to carry a patient to the Dressing Station,

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the moon had entirely disappeared & a thick mist was hanging round, it was impossible to 10 yards ahead. We were afraid of losing our way so kept to the road where the mud was feet deep. At every step we sank up to our knees in mud & I can assure you that it was a very hard task carrying under such conditions, on arriving at the A.D.S. the perspiration poured out of me, I was completely done up. An officer told me that I looked about 55 years of age. The remainder of the night was a miserable one, we were all nearly frozen before morning, our feet were like blocks of ice. 3rd November. Five men of another Ambulance working in conjunction with us were wounded to day, also one of our men were wounded seriously in the head. A great number of bearers have been sent away to the hospital, some of them very ill. At 4 p.m. our party 26 men, made for the 7th Post, to do the remainder of our 48 hours. About two miles to walk & a terrible walk it was too. Fritz sending shells all round us & we had some marvellous escapes. All will want a new outfit when we are out of this hellish place. I can see our Quarter Master having a fit. At 6 p.m. we were in a snug German dug-out, waiting for patients. We have over a mile to carry to the next Post, do not feel equal to the job, but I will do my best. At 8 p.m. two walking patients came along & I thought it would be better for me to take them along to the next relay post, as I did not feel strong enough to carry a stretcher. I shall never forget this night as long as I live. Not being on this post before

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I was not sure of the track, & very soon was lost. We wandered about for hours, falling into shell holes on numerous occasions, & stumbling into barb wire. It was awful, to make matters worse it started to rain heavily, & my patients were in a bad way. At one time I found myself near the support trenches, which Fritz was shelling heavily, soon made ourselves scarce from here. Met an officer who kindly consented to show us the way, after going about 2 miles he also found he was lost. Came across a Battalion which was being relieved from the trenches, followed them through mud & water feet deep. Felt absolutely done up. I could have cried it was so tired. The officer commanding the Battalion soon got bogged, & hundreds of fellows were lying about in the mud, it was no good stoping my patients were in a bad way. The only guide I had was the flashes of some of our guns, which are not far from the A.D.S. I had actually passed the 8th relay post, we had done the whole trip. The poor patients I did pity them. On inquiring for the time at the reception room or receiving station, I was told it was 2.15 a.m., we had been wandering about for 6 hours. Naturally I did not venture to return to the 7th Post, but slept at H.Q. Two of our officers complimented me on sticking to the job & bringing the patients in safely. This is not exaggeration but the whole truth. Hurrah, the 4th November, half of our Ambulance has moved away from the strafe, so it should be a matter of hours only & we will follow them. It is now a fortnight since I had shave or wash. 6th November. The Ambulance which is expected to relieve us, has not yet turned up, so of course we had to proceed to the trenches once more. All disgusted, our Q.M. gone with the remainder of our Amb. & left us with no

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rations, all we had was biscuits & bully beef. Mud & slush everywhere. Took up our position at the 6th Post. (Of course I cannot give you the names of these Posts). We had a very busy night the Australians took two lines of Fritz trenches, & the rush of patients was awful. We had to apply for assistance, & a Battalion of infantry came & gave us a hand. The whole four companies wee stretcher bearers for the night, the carry was over a mile, we had six men to a stretcher, & they were needed too. Good old Bob Roberts was in my squad. To the next relay post it was about a mile & a quarter distant, up till 12 oclock next day our squad had done 8 carries, so we had practically walked 16 miles. At each carry we could feel ourselves getting weaker & weaker. Very often we were walking through the cursed mud feet deep. At mid-day our relief actually appears in sight, & we proceeded back to our home. But our troubles did not end here, it was a clear day, & Fritz seeing so many soldiers moving about, started shelling us. I ran like blazes for the dug-out. At one time I was covered with mud which was blown up by a shell. Two men were killed & four wounded of our party, the luck of the 8th still remains, & I sincerely hop it remains so. On arriving at H.Q. rum was issued out, so soon felt O.K. 7th November.
A wet miserable & cold day, hove off at 8 a.m. to rejoin our Unit, which are not miles back from the danger zone. After walking about 7 miles we halted at a Clearing Station

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& enjoyed a good hot meal. All the bearers about 104 all told, were completely done du, this almost past human endurance, & I am surprised at myself sticking it out. My feet have been wet almost the time were in the trenches. It simply poured in torrents on our way out of the trenches, all wet through. Good news to hand, that we ill rest here for the night. Came across Les. Hall from Cremorne, Tiny O’Brien & Ern. Snashall. They were very kind to me, gave me some dry underclothes, & a good tea. I appreciated their kindness extremely.

8th November. We are to remain here at least a fortnight, this is very unfortunate at the mud about here is almost as bad as that we experienced in the trenches, & we are still in range of the German guns. 9th November. 12 months to day since I left dear old Sydney, I often think of good old "Braemar" & the great kindness you both gave to me. It is only when a fellow is away from home like this that he realises what his parents are to him God Bless you both. A great number of men who were on board the "Beltana" are now alas missing, it is cruel to think that we ill never see them again. Good old Captain Ward is in this hospital, so I visited him on the anniversary of our departure from Australia. He is one of the most popular Chaplains we have, he has had rather a miserable time for the last fortnight, conducting burial services. A great surprise sprung on us to day, we are given some work to do making roads. This is a bit too hot, we deserve a rest, but of course it is a way they have in the Army. L.W.C. 10th November still working no rest for the weary. In the evening I jumped on a Red Cross Car & travelled

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about 10 miles to the Casualty Clearing Station, where I enjoyed a lovely hot bath, & a complete change of underclothes. I felt a new man, had an excellent dinner, roast mutton, baked potatoes & baked rice. Returned to camp by car about mid night, of course no one is supposed to leave the camp, but I thought it was about time that I took things into my own hands. We are all disgusted with a treatment. Our good luck again news to hand that a couple of German shells landed in the A.D.S. & killed 2 men & wounded several others. During the night a German Aeroplane flew over a couple of A.M.C. Clearing Stations, about 10 miles from here, & dropped bombs. Many men were injured, a contemptible trip, bombing hospitals. What military achievement is this, it is absolutely cold blooded murder. Sunday 12th November. Attended Communion Service conducted by Capt. Ward. I have attended a great number of these Services since landing in France. I like them extremely. In the afternoon I made up my mind to write a number of letters, but unfortunately we had to work again, all this accounts for my neglect in my correspondences. This completes my experiences since I last wrote to you. Please excuse this terrible writing but this is written in great haste. For the next fortnight it may again be impossible to write, but I will do my best as you know. A Glorious & Happy New Year

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Part V – 10th. November, 1916, to 1st. January 1917. On the Somme.

I believe the 4th Edition ended about the 9th November so I will continue.

10th November 1916. All the Bearers were very disheartened today on receiving the news that we will not proceed on & rejoin our Unit but will remain in [blank] & do all the dirty work for the other two Ambulances. Hard to work all day building roads. In the evening I was determined to have a hot bath & a change of clothes, so left the camp on my own accord, & travelled to [blank] in an Ambulance Car, a distance of about 12 miles. Spent a very pleasant evening, a hot dinner & a hot bath, soon makes a fellow O.K. Returned to camp at about 2 a.m. loaded up with plenty of good things for the boys in my tent.

11th November 1916. News to hand that a couple of shells landed in the A.D.S. (which was our headquarters while in the trenches) killing two men & wounding several others of the relieving Ambulance. The famous 8th are lucky again. During the night Fritz shelled the vicinity of our camp, fortunately no one was hurt. A dirty trick shelling a hospital. A German Taube flew over the Casualty Rest Station which is about 5 miles away from here & dropped bombs, killing two men & wounding 13 men. I believe they were all in the Orderly Room at the time. Fritz is too fond of shelling the Red Cross, but

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the day will come & the Huns will get their deserts. What Military achievement is gained by these dastardly actions, it is cold blooded murder.

Sunday 12th November 1916.
No rest for the weary 8th Field Ambulance. Bearers paraded 9 o’clock, more fatigues. Communion Service conducted by Chaplain Ward & Beverage. I have attended quite a number of these services since landing in France. I like them extremely. Prayers are always given for our loves ones at home. I naturally thought that we would have the rest of the day off, but it was not the case more work after church & another parade at 1:30 p.m. This is called a rest after having a very strenuous time in the trenches. Believe we will shortly be back there again a few days time.

Monday 13th November 16.
On Ward duty, 12 months since I was on nursing duties, the last time was on board the Beltana. 42 patients in ward, the rush of wounded so heavy that a great number of the sick fellows are neglected. However I put all my patients in a good humour.

Wednesday 15th November 16.
Startling news today, the weary 8th Bearers proceeded in the direction of the Straffe again. It was a bitterly cold day & we all felt rather miserable. At 5 p.m. we arrive at our destination, & start work immediately & unload the Red Cross Cars, & put the patients into the train. A good job better

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than Stretcher Bearing. We are still unattached to the 8th who are miles away in a comfortable billet. Two of our Officers who have been with us from the start have been promoted to Lieut. Colonels & moved to another Ambulance. This is very unfortunate, we have lost two very good men. A German Plane flew over today & dropped a bomb into our camp. One Officer was killed & to men wounded. Another narrow escape for the 8th.

Thursday 16th November 1916.
A bitterly cold morning, the ice was about an inch thick in the shell holes & frost covered the ground. I have never experienced weather like this before. Working all day unloading wounded from the cars, & different odd jobs. We all miss our Unit & wish we were with them once again. Another Taube flew over today, a bomb was dropped & 6 horses were killed, about 300 yards from our tent. A great rush of patients, during the night, some of the poor chaps have been lying wounded in the open for over two days. A great number of men die from exposure, the Stretcher Bearers cannot get to them.

Friday 17th November 16.
The weather this morning was even worse than that of yesterday. It was bitterly cold & my feet were like blocks of ice. What a miserable climate this is, & only the beginning of the winter too. A great rush of patients all day. All kept busy.

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Saturday 18th November 1916.
A great scene this morning, the ground was covered with snow, it must be cruel in the front line in weather like this. A wet, miserable & cold day. Very few patients so we spent the day sitting round a big fire & talked about Sydney etc.

Sunday 19th November 1916.
Raining in torrents all day, & the mud was awful. Hundreds of patients arriving from the trenches. The poor chaps look terrible, one mass of mud from head to foot. 147 walking patients sent down by train to the rest station. I went with them (Ronnie McManus was one of the sick).

Monday 20th November 1916.
Great organisation? waited over 24 hours for a train back. A big pile of blankets & stretches to go back for the boys in the front line & no means to convey them. In some cases the wounded man on a stretcher has been only one blanket over him, you can just imagine how cold it must be for the poor fellows when it takes hours to get them through the different relay posts to the train. Met Les. Hall from Cremorne, Tiny O’Brien & Ern. Snashall. At last at 7 p.m. the train actually arrived, reached our quarters at the Railway siding at 9 p.m. & find all rush & excitement as we are off to the trenches in the morning. Would rather be going the other way believe me!

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Tuesday 21st November 1916.
Revielle 6 a.m. & freezing wether too. Make a move with those heavy packs on our backs & cam at [blank] Wood where some very heavy fighting took place in July last. The camp was a home when compared with our last home whilst working in the trenches. The arrangements are more suitable this time, although the tree Ambulances are working together only one Amb. Will go out to the trenches at a time. This proves that we are on a quiet portion of the Straffe. We ill work 48 hours in the trenches & 4 days doing fatigues in camp. Watched an exciting air duel today. Fritz’s plane was brought down. We are well off here, a Y.M.C.A. & an Australian Coffee Stall are close by. A mail arrived at last after waiting 3 weeks for news from Sydney.

Wednesday 22nd November 1916.
Fritz rather angry sending shells round our camp & dressing station all day fortunately no one was hurt. Met Capt Ward again, he is doing good work here & has arranged a Coffee Stall at the beginning of the Sap. He is well liked here. This weather is too cold to be living in tents so two other chaps & I fished round for timber etc. & built a comfortable shanty. It contained a fire place, & we possessed 7 blankets between us. It was very cosy, we also had a primus stove which I pinched. Peter Kemp & Frank Woodwood are my pals in the "Braemar" Shanty.

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Friday 24th November 1916.
At midday the 8th Bearers proceed to the trenches, unfortunately we brought bad wether with us. The front we are working on is a palace when compared with that we wee working on a fortnight ago. Only four Relay Posts & good dug outs at each post. The arrangements regarding ration was also good. Especially the rum issue. Am working in the same squad as Bob Roberts. Fortunately our squad was not called during the night. The night was pitch black & the track not too good for night bearing. In the daytime it is O.K. duck-boards all the way.

Saturday 25th November 1916.
Kept fairly busy all day, a good number of patients coming through our Relay Posts. I was at No. 3 Post which is about 1 ½ miles from our front line. Shells flying round our dug outs all day, no very pleasant, one burst about 10 yards from our dug-out, dirt & mud fell on the roof, it gave us a bit of a shock. Pouring with rain all day very often we had to bale our home out. About midnight a patient came along for our squad. It was a dreadful carry, it was impossible to see 10 yards ahead & I often fell over tipping patient & stretcher into the mud. The duck boards are only about 2 feet wide & if we miss a step it is 10 to [need to check original] that over we go into the mud. In some places the mud on each side of the boards was waist deep, we had to go very slowly on account of this. Arrived at the next post at 2 a.m. in the day-

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time, we manage the carry in less than an hour. The roar of the Artillery was deafening, this night bearing is a great strain on ones nerves.

Sunday 26th November.
Still raining heavily & plenty of work, dug-out almost flooded out. Fritz very angry again, a great number of shells coming over in our direction. One burst in one of our dug-outs but fortunately it was not occupied. The lucky 8th again. Nick Coxan & Tom Ross had a narrow escape, the shell burst about 2 yards from their dug-out. We should all thank the Almighty that we are still safe. Enjoyed some good tucker in our dug-out today. cocoa, & Milk, fried bacon & fried bread. Our Tent Division & the remainder of our Ambulance are about 30 miles from the Straffe living in a comfortable billet, an old Chateau I believe. Lucky beggars would not mind changing our wet & chatty home in the Trench

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with theirs. These ---- chats nearly drive me mad, my clothes are full of them. We are all absolutely unrecognisable, mud from heat to foot. Relieved at 3 p.m. & make a start for home. Fritz’s balloon was up so of course shells burst al round the track, it makes one shiver in his boots when these cursed shells are bursting near by. There are a very few men who are not a little frightened when Fritz is angry & I am sure that the majority of men say a little prayer to themselves. At the last Relay post (No. 1 Post) I met Captain Ward who was working hard in his soup kitchen. A hot drink is O.K. when coming out of the trenches. Every one of us were wet through when we arrived at Camp.

Monday 27th November.
Had the day off to dry our clothes & have a little rest, a miserable day, pouring in torrents.

Tuesday 28th November. Working at Dressing Station which is only about ¼ of a mile from the Camp. Crowds of patients, 300

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for the day, most of them were suffering with trench feet. If this disease is not caught in time the feet are generally amputated. Weather bitterly cold.

Thursday 30th November.
10:30 a.m. In the Trenches again. Bob & I occupy a good –dug-out, a great improvement on those we lived in a fortnight ago. Fritz very quiet this morning. One poor fellow in the dug-out was suffering terrible agony with Trench feet & Hands. We carried him along to our 4th Relay Post. Working for the next 24 hours at the R.A.P. which is about ¾ of a mile from the Front Line. My first second carry was rather a severe one, carried a man on my back to the 4th Post from the R.A.P. He soon got very heavy, only had one spell as it was a work of art to lift him up again, without hurting his feet. I almost collapsed when I arrived at the Post, but a hot drink soon put me right again. Our next Stretcher Case

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happened to be a wounded Fritz. I believe he crawled into our trenches after being hit. He caused quite a sensation at the A.D.S. He was well clothed & had a good pair of rubber boats [Following struck out but in typewritten version the word "censored" has been noted] which we should all [indecipherable] only the sergeants away from the trenches are issued with these. I managed to pinch a pair, they are excellent, keep the feet perfectly dry. All through the night we were kept hard at it, plenty of patients & plenty of mud. The night was very dark & it was impossible to see the duck board track. Towards morning the rush ceased & we had a little sleep.

Friday 1st December 1916.
The ground for miles round us was all white covered with frost & it was bitterly cold. Our squad was relieved & we spent the next 24 hours at the 4th Post. At 5:30 p.m. the rush started again. It was very

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strenuous all through the bitterly cold night we were kept hard at it. To the next relay post (No. 3) the distance was close on a mile. Five squads working as hard as they could manage, each squad had about 7 carries each. When my squad returned after each carry we found another case ready for us, it was heart-breaking. No rest for the weary. About 14 miles altogether we must have walked during the night. At each carry I could feel myself getting weaker & weaker. It was a great relief when day light appeared & the rush of patients stopped. Relieved at midday Saturday 2nd inst. No calls during the night.

December 4th 1916.
This cold weather is getting very severe, it is almost unbearable. A great number of our Bearers have been sent to the Hospital, if this weather gets much worse we will have

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very few left. An excellent mail arrived for me today. Three parcels & 26 letters. A record & all the fellows envied me. The eatables in the packets were most enjoyable, especially after living for the last 7 weeks on Bully Beef, biscuits & stew. Parcels were from "Braemar", Vera, & Hooper & Harrison Ltd. The Balaclava cap was needed greatly. The next two days were spent at the Dressing Station doing fatigues.

Thursday 7th December.
Owing to a great number of Bearers being sent to Hospital from the three Ambulances we will have to work three days in the trenches instead of two, it is a very nice prospect, I don’t think. At mid-day the 8th with reinforcements from the other two Ambs. proceed to the trenches to do our 3 days stretcher bearing. Fortunately I was only at No. 2 Post, which is a good way from the Firing Line, very easy carry, but the weather was freezing. One of the reinforcements

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of another Ambulance was killed at No. 4 Post. He had only just arrived in France.

Sunday 10th December.
Relieved at 2 p.m. the walk back to camp was frightful, mud feet deep. The camp was like a lake, just a mass of water & mud. The stew was delicious, our first hot meal for 72 hours.

Tuesday 12 December.
On looking out of my shanty this morning a wonderful spectacle I saw. It was snowing heavily & as far as the eye could see everything was white. The weather was perishing also. As soon as the snow melted the mud & slush was terrible, the track to the cook house was awful, it was almost up to our knees in mud. Any man who could carry his tucker from the cookhouse to his sleeping quarters without spilling it, or else getting bogged himself,

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or without swearing deserves much praise & should be mentioned in despatches. The manner in which the Military are clothing us for this climate is shameful. It is a case of every man for himself. God Helps those who help themselves. If it was not for the comforts which are sent to me from Australia I would be very badly off. A fair number of Bearers went away to Hospital today.

Wednesday 13th December.
At mid-day we proceed once again to the trenches, to the furthest post. I believe this will be our last time in, as we are supposed to be relieved on Monday 18th inst.
A very quiet night thank God, but at 10 a.m. the following day Fritz started shelling heavily. We were kept busy all day. Bob Roberts & Esbert Smith had rather a trying experience picking up wounded men out of an old trench, whilst Fritz was shelling heavily. Six men were killed near by. Engineers I believe. Raining

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heavily all day which made the conditions more miserable. The mud & slush is terrible. I am very tired of living in this mud. For the last 8 weeks we have been working in it, our clothes are thick with it. We are miles away from any village or canteen practically cut off from civilisation. I can feel myself getting weaker every day, how I will enjoy a rest. Luckily our squad had only one call during the night, it was very dark & it took us a good two hours to reach the next Post. The duck, boards were blown to pieces in places where Fritz’s shells had lobbed during the day. The weather is charming, cold, snow, ice, frost & plenty of rain.

Friday 15th December 1916.
Do our last 24 hours at the air post, which is about a mile & a half away. The dug-out was built by the Germans & was about 50 feet deep, dark cold & stuffy. This is where we will live for the next 24 hours. Unfortunately no one possessed a

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candle, & to light a fire for long, was out of the question as we would be suffocated with smoke. The stench of the place was frightful & chats I could feel them crawling over me. It was a long & dreary 24 hours, living in the dark. Fortunately we were not called during the night, nevertheless it is impossible to sleep properly. I often wake up thinking I can hear that dreaded call "Stretcher Bearers".

Saturday 16th December.
Relieved at 2 p.m. & I start on my way back to my cost little shanty at camp. It was a long & weary walk snowing all the while & Fritz sending his souvenirs over. Was dead beat pm reaching my abode, but found two parcels there for me, the contents soon put me in a good humour.

Tuesday 19th December.
Instead of going out to the trenches again, all the 8th are kept at Camp as we are moving off tomorrow. It seems to good to be true

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that we are at last leaving the Straffe & this terrible mud. Another miserable day, cold & snowing heavily.

Wednesday 20th December.
More disappointments, no sign of any relief. The weather today was most severe, have never experienced anything like it before. The mud was frozen hard, a treat to walk on hard ground. Fritz’s shells flying round all day. Saw a couple of huts blown up. Pieces of iron & wood sailing many feet tup in the air. A number of men killed & wounded. This is cruel sport. Heavy snow storm during the day.

Thursday 21 December.
Startling orders today instead of being relieved we are sent to the trenches again. First in & last out as usual. It was very disheartening & all were disappointed. It is now close on 9 weeks since we first landed in this cursed mud, a fair innings. I was at No. 3 Post this time & luckily happened to

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be in number 1 squad, so had first carry before dark. Fortunately it was very quiet during the night & our turn did not come round again till daylight. Our Artillery was giving Fritz hell, the noise was deafening.

Friday 22nd December.
Very sad news this morning, two of our Bearers were killed near No. 4 Post. I have spent 24 hours in the same dug-out as these poor chaps were in. it is really very said, more especially as this is our first serious casualty it was a great shock to all. The said event only took place half an hour before we were relieved, & on our last day in the trenches too. Proceed back to camp all are anxious to get well away from the Straffe. The Colonel of one of the other Ambulances spoke to us on Parade, congratulated the 8th Bearers on their good work & that tomorrow we would leave the Straffe & rejoin our Unit. (Met Arthur Holmes from H. & H. He enlisted a few days after me).

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Saturday 23rd December 1916.
8 a.m. At last we start & make a move from the ghastly & barren scene. Marched to the train which was only about ¾ of a mile away. We passed our friend Capt. Millison, who has been transferred to another Ambulance. Travelled in open trucks for about 7 miles. raining & terribly cold. We do the last part of the journey in Motor Buses, a distance of over 30 miles to travel. Arrived at the -- Chateau where the rest of our Unit is billeted at 5 p.m. We received a great reception, plenty of hand shaking. It was a real treat to be home once again, far away from the roar of Artillery & being amongst the green fields again. It is an ideal spot for a rest. It seemed quite strange to see a good number of new

faces, reinforcements & three new officers. We are to be the Units guests for three days, some swank believe me. Slept like a top during the night, it was a god send not hearing that dreaded cry "Stretcher Bearers".

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Sunday 24th December.
Christmas Eve. Attended Communion Service & Church Parade, a treat to hear some music again. Enjoyed a hot bath, the first for a month, & new clothes. Feel a new man again, went to a fair sized village with Eric, spent rather a pleasant time there. Another big mail arrived for me. Three parcels & 22 letters. This makes 75 letters in three weeks that I have received. At mid-night a great crowd of us, sang Christmas Carols outside the Officers Quarters, a great joke half the crowd having had a drop too much.

Monday 25th December.
Christmas Day. What a difference to that of last year at Serapeum. It was over a hundred degrees in the shade, today it must be close on Freezing Point. Porridge for breakfast, a great luxury. The mess tent was beautifully decorated with holly & flags etc. & a big notice was pinned to the door –

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"Welcome to Bearers". Christmas Dinner was a huge success, 5 courses, Soup, Rissoles, Vegetables, Plum Pudding & Custard, Fruit & nuts. We all made beasts of ourselves. The Colonel made a fine speech & welcomes the Bearers home again. The tea was also good, jelly, custard & preserved fruits. In the evening a splendid concert was given in the mess tent. All our Officers were present. Some of the skits, mentioning different fellows & Officers in the Unit, wee very clever & funny. A very pleasant day.

Tuesday 26th December 1916.
Boxing Day. No parades or fatigues today. All enjoying a rest. Attended a Vaudiville Concert at the village in the evening. A splendid show, our silvery tenor Bob Roberts is one of the artists. He has been transferred to the Company for a few days. I think he will find it a better job than Stretcher Bearing.

29th December 1916. Had leave to one of the biggest towns in France. The car leaves every morning & returns to the Chateau

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about 8 p.m. The distance is about 12 miles, enjoyed the trip in the car, the country was looking very fine. It seemed quite strange to be in a big city again, crowds of French soldiers about. Had rather an expensive dinner, plenty of swank, but it was most enjoyable. Visited the Cathedral which is one of the finest structures in the World. The carvings draping & paintings etc. were exquisite.

Monday 1st January 1916.
New Years Day. We all sincerely hope that before this year is ended that this cursed war will be over & that we will all be home once more with our loved ones in Australia. A splendid Concert was given in the evening by members of the 8th, it was greatly enjoyed by all. Supper was served at the interval. You will see by the programme that it was some concert. The Officers all enjoyed the fun. Eric & Bob sang well & some of the skits, mentioning several members of the Ambulance were very

[Page 113]
5th Edition of Diary
Ending January 1st 1917

[Page 114]
funny. Thus ends the 5th Edition. I hope the next account will tell of my long wished for trip to England.

What will possibly be the most eventful year of my life has passed. The 12 long weary months of 1916 all spent on Active Service have been crowded with incidents & experiences. Some of the latter naturally far from pleasant. Much travelling was done by this Unit during the year, the early months of which were spent in Egypt, the move to France eventuating in June.

1917 opens very promisingly for the 8th. The boys are all together in a comfortable billet, & all trust that their turn of soldiering will have ended before this date next year.

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France 25 April 1917
PART VI – 1st. January, 1917, to 25th. April, 1917
On the Somme & rest periods.

Dear Father
Tomorrow being Anzac Day, I thought that it would be a good idea & most appropriate to copy out the 6th Edition of the Diary, as the 2nd copy also dated from the 1st January to Anzac Day. It scarcely seems 12 months since we had that Sports Meeting at Duntroon Plateau, & what an eventful year it has been. It all seems like a dream & hard to realize the trying ordeals that we have experienced since the 25th April 1916. This Edition will be much shorter than the others, as for about 9 weeks I was at our Rest Station, & of course there was nothing startling to report from this quarter. Just the same old routine day after day.

Beautiful Spring Weather has greeted us for the last 5 days the Sun has been shining with all its splendour. It is very pleasant to have such beautiful days, after the miserable & cold weather that we have experienced for the last 6 months. The weather at present, makes a fellow think that after all, lifes worth while.
Love From Langford.

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6th Edition
1st January 1917.
New Years Day, & a bitterly cold one too, a great difference to that of last year, which we spent in the oppressive heat of Egypt. Of course a holiday was granted to all. Eric, Bob & I went for a long walk it was enjoyable in spite of the severe cold, the country was looking very fine, the fields looking beautifully fresh & green.

A number of members of the unit have been very busy during the past week arranging a Concert for New Years Night. They call themselves the "Night Birds Pierrot Concert Party". Naturally every one expected something good & I can assure you that the show turned out a great success, & considering the short time that the concert was arranged the artists deserve much praise. Eric & Bob were amongst the performers.

For the next fortnight the same old routine took place each day, fatigues, drill etc – & the weather was a perisher too.

14th January.

After having a well earned rest the Bearers again were off, to do some work in the Trenches.

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The colonel made a very fine speech & wished us God Speed & Safe Return. The cheers for the Bearers was deafening as we made off. The cursed packs soon got heavy & to make matters worse before we had proceeded far it started to snow very heavily. All were glad when we arrived at the Railway Station. The distance was about 3 miles. (As usual I will be unable to state any names of places or units etc. etc.)

Arrived at -------- at 4 p.m. & marched about 3 miles & are billeted in an old factory at R------. After spending two days here we moved off on the 16th & arrived at the Clearing Station at B------. The same spot where we were stationed last November, after having experienced that awful 3 weeks in the mud. It was still the same miserable hold, plenty of mud. The march was rather severe as it was snowing heavily all day. The country looked beautifully while a grant sight, the snow was 5 inches thick on the ground & at different spells along the road a considerable amount of snowballing took place. The weather was perishing. Stretcher Bearing in this weather will be very nice "I don’t think".

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17th January 1917.
Revielle 5-3- a.m. & a bitterly cold morning I can assure you. It was still snowing heavily. At 9.30 a.m. we started on a 7 mile march to ------ Wood, where our headquarters was the last time we were in the Trenches. Arrived at our destination at 2. p.m. fortunately this time we are to live in huts which were very cosy & warm. The mud was frightful far worse than what it was before. In the Transport lines I noticed a horse standing in the mud, the poor brute could not move, only its head & back could be seen, the top of the wagon was just distinguishable. Judging by this you can just imagine what a terrible state this country is in. Continually working
in the mud is very disheartening. The three Ambulances are working together as usual.

18th January 1917.
Plenty of work again at the Rest Station. I believe each Ambulance will work seven days in the Line, rather too long I think in this climate. This means that our Bearers will do seven days fatigues at the Dressing Station before our turn comes round for Stretcher Bearing again. The weather during these seven days was very cold, almost unbearable.

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January 20th 1917.
The weather this morning was exceptionally cold it was impossible to keep warm. My boots were frozen hard, & it was a painful task trying to walk. The water in our bottles was also frozen. This climate is cruel, for the last 5 days snow has been lying on the ground. As the day was a clear one a great number of Taubes flew over our way & many exciting duels took place. At 9 a.m. I left with a small party to build a new Dressing Station near the firing line. It was very difficult walking along the slippery duck boards, a frost had set in & the track of course was frozen & very slippery. We arrived at our destination about mid-day & commenced to work. Fritz did not allow us peace & quietness for long he soon sent a few souvenirs over just to greet us. A few burst near, dugouts & timber were sent many feet up in the air. I can assure you that when these d--- things are bursting exceptionally near it makes a cold feeling creep down ones back.

The cry for Stretcher Bearers went up one poor fellow in the Artillery was hit. Sergent Jeffries who was in charge lf our party bandaged the chap up. He was very cool & collected & deserves much praise as a could of shells burst near, whilst he was attending to the chap.

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Naturally we did not stay much longer here we soon made ourselves scarce from this hot corner, arriving at headquarters about 5 oclock.

January 21st, 22nd , & 23rd.
I was unfortunate enough to be included in a fatigue party that was preparing the horse lines. The mud here was frightful, in many places we sank to our knees in it, but its all in the game & it is not a bit of good growling.

January 24th 1917.
The 7 days fatigue duties are now ended, & about mid-day the 8th Bearers proceed once more to the Trenches to do our seven days shift. I was included in the party that had to report to No 4 Post. (This Aid Post I have mentioned before on numerous occasions). On approaching No 3 Relay Post Fritz was making things rather warm again, shells bursting all around us, I was shivering with fright, all had to take cover until Fritz had quietened down. Our Officer who was leading the way was a briton & proved himself to be a good soldier. Of course we all had great confidence in him, these are the kind of men we want over here for leaders. He had a very narrow escape. I am glad to state that

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no casualties occurred. We all thank God that this was so. Reached No 4 Post about
5 p.m. & immediately started to make the dug-outs comfortable as this will be our home for at least 5 days. We had ten squads (stretcher squad 4 men) altogether & of course my usual luck if any drawing is to be done, I drew No 1 squad. This means that we ill be the first squad out. Tom Ross, Will Macdonald, George Simister, & myself made up the first squad. About 1 a.m. the first stretcher case came along & of course we had to turn out "My word it was cold", & it was very hard carrying along the slippery duck boards, we fell over numerous times.

January 25th.

The Kaiser’s birthday, our batteries kept up a continual bombardment just a small birthday present for old Bill. A very quiet day not one squad being called out. But the cold weather it was severe. It is stated in the paper I believe, that the temperature is 13" of frost. The severest frost they have had in France for the last 20 years.

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January 26th 1917.
A great number of patients passed through our hands so we were kept busy. It was "no bon" turning out at night in the severe cold to carry stretchers. But of course we are much better off tan the fellows in the front line, there they are out in the open all the time no shelter, it must be terribly cold for the poor chaps. A great number of shells kept coming over our way all day but our good luck continues & all were safe. Of course we have one consolation our batteries always gives Fritz about ten times as much as he gives us. It is a good thing that we all keep so merry & bright, the humour of about 20 men lying cuddled up in a filthy dug-out trying to keep warm, well, it is a funny sight. Those pictures of Bairnsfather in Fragments of France are really very good & quite true. If we were allowed to have cameras we could take some funny snaps at times.

You can form an idea of how cold it is here, as this morning a number of us had to hold our boots over a fire before we could attempt to put them on they were frozen hard.

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January 27th – & 28th 1917

Two very quiet days very few casualties. The rations are getting scarcer each day. As there is not a scrap of fuel about we have little chance of heating our tucker. I can assure you that we are still looking forward to next Wednesday the day we shall be relieved. Then for a good hot meal at the Dressing Station.

January 29th 1917.

This is our 5th day at No 4 Post, it seems weeks to me. No hot meals available yet. We certainly get better rations when working with our unit. A small raid was made during the night, Fritz lost a few men, but our boys suffered no casualties. As it is too cold to wash, you can just imagine how dirty we all look. The Bearers who went on leave to Blighty a few days ago are certainly very lucky to miss this delightful seven days that we are experiencing. At 2 p.m. Peter Moore, Will Macdonald, George Simister & myself leave the post & proceed to an R.A.P. which is only about ½ a mile from the front line. The dug-out, here was fine when compared with the one that we have just spent 5 days in. we had no sooner arrived there when a stretcher case came along. It was rather an awkward carry, as we had to cross over two

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old trenches & of course as they day was clear Fitz kept sending his coal boxes over. The A.M.C. details at the dug-out were good chaps, on our return we found a glorious cop of tea, & a hot meal prepared for us. I don’ think that I ever enjoyed a meal as this one before, our first decent meal for 5 days. I noticed without one word of a lie that the ice in the numerous shell holes was over a foot thick." I guess shes some climate, believe me. We were not called out during the night our good luck still continues. All slept like a top, not even the roar of guns disturbed us.

January 30th 1917

We all slept so soundly that one of us were awake until 9.30 a.m. Breakfast was soon prepared & was much enjoyed, bacon, cold meat, bread & butter, & a good cup of tea. At eleven oclock a rush of patients took place, our squad was kept going till darkness set in. A couple of times we were obliged to carry right through to No 4 Post as the men stationed at the Relay Post between the latter & our R.A.P. were working like britons, they also had a rush of patients. The distance to No 4 was about 2 miles, a long carry.

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Of course we could not cope with the rush ourselves, three squads of Infantry who
were doing fatigue duties close by, gave us a hand. It was funny sight watching them struggling along with a stretcher they not being used to this work, of course they is a knack in this work. I suppose we would look just as funny, perhaps more so, carrying a rifle on our shoulders. Not being in the dug-out since 11 a.m. we were all looking forward to another good hot meal, at about 5.30 p.m. when we were at last clear of all the patients, but our luck was out this time everything had gone wrong in our home, some one had knocked over a tin of water & the floor was like a swamp. The primus stove refused to act & one of the details was trying to light a fire with wet wood, & the smoke was suffocating. It was a great disappointment on seeing all this & it did not improve our tempters. We were all more or less dog tired & irritable & the air was blue with language for a few minuted. "enough said". If Bairnsfather had only been at hand he would have certainly made a fine sketch of the scene. Of course it was not very long before we had everything in tip top order again.

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January 31st1917
Another quiet night, the Medical Officers do their best to keep any patients until day-light as they know that carrying stretchers in the dark in this severe cold climate is no pleasant task, of course if any cases are serious they must go on immediately. We were certainly very lucky as snow was falling heavily all through the night. At 3 a.m. we were awakened, all made sure that a stretcher case had come along but fortunately, it was a chap who was sick, we soon put him between the blankets & kept him in our dug-out till morning. The poor fellow was delirious all night, I think he is in for an attack of pneumania. In the morning another rush occurred, as it was a clear day Fritz observers must have easily seen our troops moving about, shells were bursting all over the place. It is about the worst shell fire I have yet experience. It was absolutely marvellous the escapes our Bearers had. We all thank God that we were kept safe. (I could write about six pages of this terrible day, but I think it better to wait until I return & will then tell you all about it). At 5 p.m. the relief arrived as this was our seventh day. The walk back to camp was a long & weary one, I was dead beat & very often I fell off the slippery duck boards. Arrived at camp at 7 p.m. & enjoyed a good hot dinner not forgetting the rum.

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February 1st 1917
Who should I meet to day but Lieut. Grieves an old school mate of mine. He is in charge of the baths which were close at hand,. He kindly gave me a new set of underclothes. It was a great relief to be free from chats once again.

February 2nd 1917

Great news to hand this morning. A. Section Bearers are to report at a Rest Station which our Unit has taken over. All were pleased with this order as we are going well away from the Straffe. It was rather a pleasant walk our packs & blankets were carried for us/ arrived at our destination about 1 p.m. The Rest Station is a big one, over a thousand patients living there. I suppose we will all be doing nursing duties, I can see plenty of work ahead, but is a home, no stretcher bearing etc-, during the night bombs were dropped from an aeroplane near the camp, no damage was done.

February 3rd 1917 to March 16th 1917.

It will be quite unnecessary for me to write up each day for the past six weeks, as the same old routine

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goes on each day. Although we are well away from the Straffe it soon became very monotonous & the cold & miserable weather did not help to improve matters. Quite a number of our Unit are in the hospital, this is not to be wondered at as the weather is most severe. The Anzac Concert Party give a performance each night in a town close at hand, I have seen the same show three or four times in one week. It is quite a treat to hear some music, & many a pleasant evening I spent in this manner. Bob Roberts secured his transfer at last & at the beginning of March he was made a member of the Company. He is doing rather well & always receives a good reception from the audience. On Sunday evenings a splendid service are held in the same hall, so you can see that just now I am having a fairly good time. A Section Bearers were certainly very lucky being brought in, the other two sections are having a very busy long innings of trench life. We are still in range of Fritz’s guns, very often shells fall into the town which is only about ¼ mile away from the camp. Each day good reports come

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February 3rd to March 16th 1917. (Continued)

through from the front Fritz is being worried a great deal & the British have gained many successes. I have at last secured a good job, issuing clean clothes to the patients at the baths. Berry is in charge of the baths. (This job will do me). March is noted for its biting cold winds, & so we found it out, the winds were miserable & cold.

About March the 12th the Unit received the sad news of the death of Colonel Williams. He was killed whilst inspecting the Aid Posts. He has been with our Unit right from the very start (at Queens Park) & only left us last December. He was a Major in our Ambulance, promoted to Colonel a few months ago & put in charge of another Ambulance. He was most popular amongst the men here, a thorough sport, & a white man all through. In cricket, football, or any other sports he was always to the fore & joined in all our games, I was really very sorry when I heard the sad news.
The Dargin Boys from Mosman are camped close at hand. They are old Neutral Bay

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school boys. I spent many a pleasant evening with them & of course our conversation was Neutral Bay. I also met Max Allworth who had just returned from Blighty. He had special leave. "Lucky Beggar".

At 9 p.m. on the 16th March orders came to hand, twenty bearers were to be ready to move off at 7 in the morning. A nice prospect full marching order again, blankets to be carried as well.

March 17th 1917.

The 20 Bearers leave the camp at 7 a.m. & march about a mile & a half to …… Railway Station & board the train. Arrived at the old headquarters where we were last January at 11 o’clock. But what a difference we found there the place was almost deserted as Fritz had retired at last. At 1 o’clock we received orders to move on & report to the nearest R.A.P. What a difference in the landscape we found since our last visit here in January. The country for miles was almost deserted, all the different Relay Ports were demolished which proves that a great

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advance has been made here. In the 4th edition you will notice an R.A.P. mentioned where we were working on the 28th October last. Well about 4 p.m. today we passed it & I noticed that what was our front line then, last October, was only about a mile & a half further on. I believe that we have about 6 miles to go, fortunately the ground was hard, if the weather had been wet it would have been a terrible walk. In the distance a mass of smoke could be seen, looks to be a village or two burning. At about 5.30 o’clock we had tea at a Relay post & were told here that we only had another mile to go, which was good new for us all, as we were a trifle tired. It seemed quite strange the place was so quiet, no one German shell came over our way. The enemy must be a long way off. About 6 p.m. we (three squads) arrived at the R.A.P. which was on the outskirts of a village, which the Germans occupied scarcely two days ago. The dug-out we stopped the night in was very comfortable, it contained straw bunks. It is very kind of Fritz to build these for us. All round here, an enormous amount of war material

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March 17th 1917 (Continued)

material was lying about which was left behind by Fritz, it looks as though he is in a bad way. We were all cautioned about picking up souvenirs, the enemy has set all kinds of traps. I have been told of a German helmet that was found with a couple of bombs under it, luckily they did not go off when the helmet was removed. What was Fritz front line two days ago was only about 500 yards from our dug-out & not hearing any straffing. The advance made here by the Australians is glorious. The infantry etc., after having a very trying time in this severe winter, at last were too good for Fritz. On our way this afternoon I came across Lieut. Mountford, he was a school teacher of mine at Neutral Bay. It must be about 12 years since I saw him last.

March 18th 1917

Received orders to move on again passed through a village, which was just a mass of ruins, it is no wonder the Germans had to evacuate here, it must have been perfect hell

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when our batteries were bombarding the enemy. After passing through the village we could see a big town in the distance. It was just a mass of smoke. At different points along the road were deep mine craters & heaps of rubbish such as fallen trees etc., so as to check the transport. Of course this must be expected when an enemy is retreating. We passed working parties fixing up the roads. It is wonderful how quickly a track was made. About mid-day we arrived at an Aid Post on the outskirts of the famous town. We were all glad to be in this famous town not three hours after its capture. It must be a great set back to Fritz to have to give it up. I have read in the paper at different times that the German leaders thought the place impregnable. The town was a mass of ruins & burning in many places. It was a cruel sight. In a great number of houses were piles of rubbish covered in tar, ready for burning but evidently Fritz had to quit in a hurry & did not finish his job. I strolled through a couple of streets & collected a few souvenirs, which I sent home to you last mail. It is very

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pleasing to notice how this glorious advance has cheered the AUSTRALIANS up. Even the poor fellows in the Infantry have lost that discontented look & seem merry & bright. These fellows deserve all the honour & praise we can give them in this terrible struggle. They have at last got Fritz with his tail down, & are still pushing him back. At 2 p.m. we received orders that we would move on again next morning, we have come a good distance already, it must be close on twelve miles. The country surrounding the town was looking very fine. The barbed wire entanglements scattered about the fields stretched over ¾ of a mile in places & between 30 & 40 feet wide, but this did not hinder our advancing troops. All wells, & food stuffs lying about must not be toucher, in case of it being poisoned. Our squad consisting of Corpl Marlow, E. Calfe, Pat Eagan & myself, spent another quiet night, discovered another comfortable dug-out & all slept like a log.

March 19th.
A beautiful spring morning. Arose at 7 a.m. & took a walk through the town.

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It was just a mass of ruins, some of the buildings were burning, the wreckage is far worse than any I have seen in France. Those towns in northern France are palaces when compared with this town. I noticed the roads leading up to the town were crowded with transport, it did not take them long to get a move on. When once considers that it is scarcely two days since Fritz left this town it is smart work. One little point I noticed that there were very few graves about, I wonder what Fritz does with his dead. At 9 a.m. we proceeded to another Post situated in one of the main streets, our diggings are in a ruined house, all hands set to work & we soon made quite a comfortable home in the cellars. Secured beds, tables & chairs etc – some style. Came across a great crowd of the 8th Bearers, who left the Post Station the day after us, & came by motor lorries to this town. Our work here will be to form a Main Dressing Station, from here any casualties will be conveyed by car to the different clearing hospitals etc. Tom Ross has been sent to another Section, this will be the first time that we have not been bearingtogether bearing together. A couple of big shells landed in the town just a little warning from old Fritz, he is evidently a long way

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off, judging by the size of the shells. You will notice in the first edition of my diary, that it is mentioned about a young fellow falling down the hold of the boat & hurting his back. Well, to day I saw the poor fellows grave, on the outskirts of this town. Met Lieut. Zanders to day, he looks well. It is very pleasant to see the cheery mode of the troops, now they have Fritz on the move.

March 20th.

Ever since leaving the Rest Station it has been rather an interesting trip. There has been absolutely no danger at all, it has been just as safe as if walking down George Street. To day we had plenty of work clearing up the rubbish in the building & making the Dressing Station a little respectable. You cannot imagine what a fearful condition the houses are in, every house resembles a rubbish tip & Fritz was evidently fond of booze judging by the thousands of bottles lying about. A number of wounded passed through the Dressing Station to day, all brought good news from the front, the enemy is still retiring. Great news from the French Front also.

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March 21st.

This morning I had to go to the first Post we stopped at on the 17th inst. for stores. The distance was about 3 miles, as the weather has been wet for the last couple of days, the mud was frightful, I sank up to my knees init in some places. On returning to the Dressing Station we received orders to move further on. Three squads left at 2 p.m. & we marched about 3 miles to the next village, where another Dressing Station is situated. From here the wounded are taken on by car the roads being in a fair condition. The country between the town an this village was looking very fine, it must be a great set back to Fritz to have to give this all up. I noticed plenty of barbed wire entanglements scattered about. The village was also a mass of ruins, Fritz played havoc with the place, it is a cruel sight. Of course this is all in the game of war fare, we read in History that when an Army has been retreating they destroy everything so as to check the advancing army. The noise of the Straffing could be heard, but it is a long way off. We will have a nice soft job here, preparing the roads which the enemy had destroyed, so as to enable the Ambulance cars to proceed further along. At almost every cross-road

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is a deep mine crater, so as to prevent transport & Artillery advancing. Our job will be to make a decent track round each crater.

March 22nd 1917.

A peculiar kind of day, one minute it is snowing heavily & another time the sun is shining. The enemy is shelling a village which is about a mile ahead of us. A number of us were working with a Company of Infantry preparing the roads. I do pity these fellows, all these days that we have been having an easy time, they have been doing the fighting. The Infantry deserve all the praise & glory in this struggle. Can you imagine what taking a village means, the village in flames & & the fearful fighting going on etc., it is really too terrible to write about. It looks very nice in the papers another village being captured etc. but do we think what this really means. The loss of life & the terrible hardships endured etc. The men who do the fighting are the real heroes in this war.

March 23rd 1917
Orders to move again. I thought this job too good to last. After walking about 3 miles & passing through two villages we arrived at an R.A.P.

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Six stretcher cases were lying in the hard, some were horrible sights, but of course I am used to seeing such sights now, it does not effect me but very little. We had to turn to immediately & carry the wounded to the cars a distance of fully 3 miles, a long carry but of course this time no trenches or duck boards, & no mud to struggle through, but open country. For miles the land was in god condition the grass just beginning to look fresh. On my way back to the Aid Post, I met Lieut. Zanders again, he is always close up to this men. Passed one of our batteries which Fritz was greeting with "coal boxes", horses & men cleared for their lives, until the shelling quietened down. The trouble is this, the enemy knows every inch of the ground & of course has the range etc. On arriving at the R.A.P. we were all dismayed to find 6 more cases waiting for us to carry them away. On returning again to the Post we found that the casualties for the present had finished. Found comfortable diggings in an old stable, secured a spring mattress bed so did not far to badly. The Straffing is too close of my liking, but we were very fortunate not being called up as the night was exceptionally dark & cold. At 4 a.m. we were

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rudely awakened, Fritz started shelling the village & things were only middling, every minute I expected the building to come crashing down on top of us, the d--- things were bursting all over the place, & the noise was deafening. Our good luck still remained, & we all thank God with all our hearts for our safety. The only sensible thing we could do was to put our heads under the blankets. The bombardment only lasted about half an hour. Just think what I must be like when the British bombard the enemy for days at a time, it is no wonder that he has to retreat. One of our cases yesterday was a wounded Fritz he was some weight, being a long way over 6 feet high. Our carries will not be so long in future, a horse Ambulance is stationed about a mile from us. This just shows how quickly the roads are being repa prepared.Of course prepared. Of course there is no trench fighting just now, open country & village fighting. Fritz cannot be compared with our fellows in this style of fighting. I often wonder how the other Bearers are faring, B, & C, Sections, we left them over 6 weeks ago, to work at the Rest Station, they have been in the Straffe all this time. The Infantry are marvellous how they still keep going.

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All railway lines have disappeared around this village, & at every cross roads are deep mine craters, but it only checks & traffic for a very short time.

Saturday 24th March 1917.
Fairly busy during the morning, but at mid-day the Australians were giving Fritz hell in the next village.
It is estimated that the enemy left 200 dead, the scrap only lasted about half an hour. We had a big rush of wounded to look after, it was a strenuous day, each time each squad returned we found more wounded waiting. Of course we had to apply for more Bearers. By some mishap the horse Ambulance was stationed at the wrong road, & the distance to carry was about 2 miles. Believe me, it was tired. About 1 a.m. we finished getting the wounded the away. It was heaven lying on the spring mattress.

March 25th 1917
At 9 a.m. my squad had another carry. It was a pleasant spring morning & very quiet, no shells landing over our way. I saw some exciting aeroplanes fights, four machines were brought down, three were ours & one a Fritz. An imposing but

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ghastly sight. I saw two Airmen fall out of this machine & come crashing down to the earth. A quick but terrible death for a man. It is hard to realize that we have been living in a village with Fritz only about a mile off, they must certainly be in a bad way, or they would shell this place like fury. At one time I used to blame their leaders for their dirty tricks etc but now, after what I have been told & seen, lately, they are a cruel lot. I was told yesterday that a German Machine Gunner was hiding in a village & was knocking our fellows down like ninepins, when the Australians were only about 10 yards off him he put up his hands & cried for mercy. Of course he was shown plenty of mercy, "I dont think". He was killed on the spot.
If his idea was to surrender, he should have stopped firing long before he did.
This killing of men day after day, when ever is it going to end, & what is the use of it all. I often think how lucky I am not being in the Infantry. We enjoyed a good breakfast to day, the rations have greatly improved. At 4 p.m. unexpected orders to hand, it is, that our three squads are to report at the Dressing Station, where we were a couple

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of days ago. All were glad to be further away from Fritz.

March 26th 1917. & March 27th 1917
Road making all day, raining heavily & plenty of mud. At about 9 p.m. our squad was called out to report to another R.A.P. about a mile away. We had a very strenuous night a company being cut up badly by the enemy. We had eleven carries altogether, finishing about 8 oclock next morning, so you can guess we were very tired. Had a good rest all that day. About 8 p.m. called out again to report to report to the same Post. A large number of casualties were expected, but luckily they did not make their appearance. I believe Fritz lost heavily & is still retreating. I must state again, that the terrible sights I have seen lately are getting on my nerves. (I could write page after page of to days happening, but of course the Censor would not allow it, you must wait until I return.)

March 28th 1917
Twelve months to day since that great route march in Egypt. I little thought then that 12 months later, I would be close on the

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heels of advancing troops in France. (I am enclosing a photo taken on the first day of that severe march in 1916). A wet miserable cold day, but luckily no casualties, had a good sleep & felt O.K. I met my old & esteemed friend Captain Ward he is starting a soup kitchen in the village. The different Battalions when coming away from the Front Line all patronize this kitchen, & the soup is much enjoyed. He is still the same old sport. During the night Fritz put about 10 shells into the village, but no damage was the result.

March 29th 1917.
At 2 p.m. our squad received orders to move again, to that village we stopped at on the 21st inst, which was about a mile & a half further back. A good move for us, as we are getting further back & away from Fritz. Raining in torrents all the afternoon & following night. God help the lads who are fighting in such weather.

March 30th 1917.
Our work at this village is to load the cars, but as very few cases came along

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during the morning, we had an easy time. The enemy is still going back. In the afternoon I walked into that famous town I mentioned before which is about 2 miles away. It is marvellous the work that has been done since we were there on the 17th. The roads were in a fairly good condition, in a few weeks time the town should be looking respectable. Captain Ward has a soup kitchen in the town, which was crowded with troops when I arrived here. I met Bert Berry, who is on duty at the Main Dressing Station.

31st March 1917.
On the move again, all the 8th bearers were to report to …… on the right of the position on which we have been working. This is to enable the bearers to be altogether, when relieved. We were lucky enough to get a lift on a lorry, the distance was about 4 miles.

April 1st 1917.
I received orders to report at a Relay Post, about 3 miles away, as a stretcher squad there only had three men. On the way I passed through another village, which of course was like the

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others, a mass of ruins. The mud here was also very bad, I think this mud is disheartening. In all my letters for the last six months you will see mud mentioned, it will be a treat when the dry weather really does set in. I had almost arrived at my destination when I noticed a German taube flying exceptionally low. He attacked an observation balloon & sent it to mother early in flames. The two observers I am glad to state came down safely by means of their parachutes. I went over & spoke to them both, to see if they were wanting anything, but they were O.K., of course they were a little scared, it was rather an awkward experience for them. One of them dropped about 30 feet before is parachute opened. We must admire the German airmen for their bravery & daring, although they are our enemies. This is not the first time we have seen their daring feats. My home for the next few days will be in a German Dug-out, it is fairly comfortable & we have plenty of blankets. Who should I meet to-day but Towser Reid an old schoolmate of mine, he is in the Infantry.

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April 4th 1917
The last three days have been miserable cold & wet & that cursed mud is everywhere. Only a few walking patients have we helped along. I believe the wounded are being conveyed in cars along another road. Another German Aeroplane brought down two of our Observation Balloons, but luckily the Taube was brought down also. At 9 p.m. we received the splendid news that the Division was to be relieved tomorrow. The last three weeks except on a couple of occasions have been an easy time for us bearers, it has been rather interesting being in so many ruined villages that the Germans have held for two years. The conditions were not to be compared with those we experienced last October & the beginning of November, so do not get the idea that we have been having a trying time. It is the infantry who deserves the praise. Why look at the last three days I have been living in a dug-out, whilst different companies of the infantry have been fighting, & the weather no too good either. As I have stated on numerous occasions these men are the real heroes in the war. Tom Ross is stationed at the next Post further on, he is well & hearty as usual.

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April 5th 1917.

At 9 a.m. our relieving squad turned up, so our squad reported at Headquarters where we were on the 31st March. At 1 oclock all the Bearers started on the long march back to the old Dressing Station where we all lived when not Stretcher bearing last January. We proceeded along a different route, then what I cam along on the seventeenth of march. Past our old Posts where I was on the 29th to the 31st of January last. It is no wonder that the shells flew around there thick & fast, as from Fritz old trenches we could see the trench in which we were living. The ground around Fritz old trenches was just a mass of shell holes, it is no wonder he had to retire, it must have been hell for the enemy here. Without one word of a like there was hardly a foot space between the shell holes. Pass a number of dead Germans, the next post passed was the old number 4 (which I have mentioned on numerous occasions). The place was quite deserved, it seemed very strange. Arrived at our destination at 5 p.m. & enjoyed a good tea. The place was much quieter than it was three weeks ago, it is hard to realise that barely a month ago this place as a scene of great activity alive with troops etc.

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April 6th. 1917. Good Friday.
What pleasant memories this day brings back to me of that glorious time I spent with you at Katoomba two long years ago. At 10 a.m. the bearers left the old Dressing Station for the Rest Station, (where I was three weeks ago). The distance must have been about seven miles, rather a long march as we were carrying our packs & blankets etc., but it was done in good time, & we arrived at our destination just in time for dinner. The bearers received a great reception from the remainder of the Unit. In the evening I attended an impressive Church service in a town close by. An Australian band was in attendance. One of the items given by the latter was the Dead March in Saul. I don’t think that I have ever heard it played so beautifully before.

April 7th 1917 Easter Saturday.

At 4.30 p.m. a grand dinner was given by the Colonel to the Bearers, just a little welcome for us. It was delicious, about eight courses, & was appreciated by all. The fellows in the Tent Division worked very hard & waited on us (menu of dinner sent home previously). At 7 p.m. a splendid concert

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was given by the Night Birds for the Bearers benefit. It was a good show. Colonel Shepherd made a speech welcoming the bearers back again. There is no doubt about it there is no place like home. The cheering was deafening when he finished his pleasant speech. A very enjoyable day.

April 8th 1917 Easter Sunday.
A beautiful Spring day, sincerely hope this weather continues. The twilight has started again & is very pleasant. Took a stroll through the town, which is not half a mile away from the camp, & noticed that it had increased in its population, the advance is the cause of this. In the evening I attended an impressive church service. On the following day we had another holiday. Inoculated to day. It is over twelve months since I was done previously. In the evening I paid a visit to the Anzac Concert Party, enjoyed the show very much. Bob Roberts acted & sang splendidly. What a difference in the climate this Easter to that of last year, when we were camped in the desert.

I think you will agree with me when I say that we had an enjoyable Easter.

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April 10th 1917.
Ten or us were granted leave to -------- to day, one of the biggest towns in France. Left the camp at 6 a.m. & walked to M-------, the place where we stayed for two days when on our way to the trenches from the Chateau last January. It was snowing heavily all the morning, so we could not call it a pleasant five mile walk. Arrived at M----- in plenty of time to catch the train. Arrived at our destination at 9 a.m. Spent a very pleasant day & brought a number of souvenirs etc. which I sent home. We were lucky enough to have a lift on a motor lorry all the way back, arriving home again at 8 a.m.

April 24th 1917.
After a fortnight of rainy & miserable weather we were greeted today by the glorious Sun. It is really a beautiful day, it resembles the climate we experienced when we first arrived in this country. I am now back on my old job again at the Baths. Very often I have been to the Anzac Show, it passes the evenings off very nicely. I came across three friends of mine at the Rest Station, Arthur Brown, Guy Tedder, & Roy Haymet, you know them all. We were all

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surprised & pleased at meeting each other. During the week the Night Birds gave another performance which was a success as usual.

We have now been out of the Line for a fortnight, enjoying a short period of fitful rest. That is to say we are just beginning to settle down to peace & quiet, after one of thos trying intervals when shells come flying through the air, Wild rumours circulating round in regards to our movements, that one hardly knows what to believe. The war news during the past fortnight have been glorious, great victories have been gained by the British & French on the Western Front. Every day we hear of thousands of Fritz prisoners being captured, also a large amount of war material, such as heavy guns etc. etc.. Mile by mile each day the Germans are retreating, sometimes leaving many dead & wounded. It is useless me stating any more on the subject, as the news will be in all the newspapers. The weather to day Tuesday 24th is really beautiful, the route march we have before breakfast each morning in such weather is very pleasant. The last five days have been fine.

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April 25th 1917. Anzac Day.
To day we hope to celebrate in a small way the day which has already made Australia famous "Anzac Day". & I fancy it is somewhat appropriate to conclude the sixth edition of my diary to date as the second portion was written from January 1st to Anzac Day of last year.

One can hardly realise how swiftly Father Time has travelled during the past twelve months. Looking backwards it reminds one of a great moving picture, with remarkable scenery transformations & effects passing on. The hot dreary waterless wastes of Egypt, with its peculiar inhabitants, & they, with their still more peculiar habits, manners & customs. Next passes the bright blue sparkling waters of the Mediteranean with its numerous clusters of little islands on either side, & each with a tragic & sacred history of its own.

Now we see the glorious garden of France unfolded in all its beauty & luxuriant growths, spoiled only towards the end by the hand of the wrecker, Tyrant Hun.

The picture indeed is a wonderful one, though one fact of having personally experienced the

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scenes depicted therein, is much more wonderful still.

We have had many ups & downs, dark days & stiring days. But the long cold cheerless winter has passed, & beautiful spring is upon us. We see its smiles & feel its radiant glow, it fills us with hope & confidence for the future. It reminds us of our dear sunny land, & awakens fresh thoughts within us of those whom we love. It is still in its infancy & we may hope for much ere its decline, by then dear Mother & Father, God grant that all the obstacles & barriers which separate us from home will be swept away completely, that justice will have crushed once & for all the Demon wrecker of humanity, already the cause of terrible misery, bloodshed, & unhappiness throughout the world.

I was just going through this copy & correcting mistakes, when I was told that the mail for Australia closes in 5 minutes time. Will you please correct any mistakes. A small packet has just arrived

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from you. I will have to post this before I open it.

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Part VII
25th. April, 1917, to 9th August, 1917. In the Line: Rest period: Military tournament of 4th July.
7th Edition.

The last copy ended on Anzac Day, from then till the 9th May nothing of any startling nature occurred. This day we all received a rude surprise, orders to move to the Line again, the whole Ambulance moving this time. We leave the Rest Station at 12 o’clock in motor buses. I believe we are going to a pretty hot corner & especially as we will only be in the Line for a fortnight there must be something doing.
Arrived at our destination at 5 p.m. which was fully between 8 or 9 miles ahead of that famous town which was captured last March. The surrounding country was looking magnificent, the fields looking beautifully green. A great number of Ambulances are working together so you can guess that there’s

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something big on. A couple of days ago a big battle was fought, the Germans losing heavily, so of course our poor chaps wanted a rest hence the reason for our division being here. Who should I come across but Reynolds from Neutral Bay, an old school pal of mine. . [indecipherable] Just before we arrived a couple of officers (Doctors) had a narrow escape, a shell landed right through the roof of the Dressing Tent, but luckily did not explode. The roar of the Artillery was deafening, plenty of Fritz’ shells were bursting about the country & all around us. After relieving another Ambulance the bearers settled down for the night as tomorrow we are off to the fray. However at midnight we were rudely awakened & quickly too, shells were bursting rather close to the Main

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Dressing Station. I think the best thing to do in a case like this is to lie still, put your head under the blanket & try & imagine that everything is O.K. It is absolutely useless rushing about & getting excited, when I see chaps behaving like this I get the "wind up". The excitement only lasted about 445 minutes so soon went to sleep again but alas we were not to be left alone in peace, during the early hours of the morning the gas alarm was given, all had to don our Box Resperators but fortunately the cursed stuff did not travel as far back as the main dressing station.

10th May 1917.
All hands hard at work this morning arranging the M.D.S. At 7 p.m. the bearers leave for the fray. The ambulance we relieved lost a considerable number of men, so I do

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not relish the job. I can assure you all through the day the enemy kept dropping shells around the camp. Shelling a Dressing Station is not a sportman-like action. I noticed two of Fritz’ observation balloons up & of course with their powerful glasses the observers can easily see what the camp is. The cars & red cross flags must easily be seen. Very often we all had to run like blazes out in the open fields when shells were coming a trifle too near to be pleasant. One must laugh at the comical scene, officers & men running for their lives. It is marvellous spirit of the men the majority were laughing & treating the affair as a joke. One shell blew a red cross car to pieces killing the motor transport sergeant instantly. He belonged to another ambulance. One member of our unit had to be sent away with shell shock, the poor chap is only 19, too

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young for this life, about 8 or 9 casualties occurred around the camp. The 8th have their usual good luck, escaping injury. At 7 p.m. the bearers move off. A Section again having to go to the further post which was about 5 miles away, five squads altogether were to report themselves at this post, only 3 turned up eventually, two squads got lost & reported back to a rear post the following day. It was’nt much good us working short handed. Our three squads did not arrive at their destination till 1.30 a.m. the next morning, a pretty rotten experience. Flares going up all round us & the whistling of shells overhead trying to find a place in the dark, luckily we were not called up so obtained a little sleep. Our home is a small hole dug in the side of a sunken road with a stretcher for a roof. At 9 p.m. Wiggins & I took two walking

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patients to the next Post, all the way along, Fritz was putting all kinds of stuff all around us, but of course we are in the lucky 8th. The day was beautifully fine & this time NO MUD it was quite a relief. News to hand of two of our bearers being wounded, Lind Palmer (who photo you have) & Dick Sholer but not serious I believe.
About 11 a.m. a rush of patients occurred, it was hard & strenuous wok especially as we were short handed. The bombardment that Fritz gave our Lines was terrible, whilst proceeding along with the stretcher cases shells were bursting all around us. It is absolutely marvellous that none of the bearers were hit & we all thank God for our safety. The perspiration poured out of me, it was a trying ordeal. Almost every time each squad returned from a carry we found more patients

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waiting for us. No rest for the weary. The track was clear when our first stretcher case occurred but before night time there were about 10 dead men lying in the vicinity of it. Of course I am sued to seeing this now, it is not a bit of good worrying, it must be very hard on our new reinforcements, their first experience of the ghastly business. This is the most severest bombardment that our bearers have ever experienced. About 6 p.m. over 3 squads were absolutely done up but luckily when we all returned from about our 8th carry we found that the casualties had ceased for a while. My cobber Jim Powel & myself decided to have tea, we had just prepared our tucker when we received a rude shock. A shell burst near blowing in a dugout. My first thought was that I was going to be buried alive, the next, hows Jim, but luckily

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our good luck continued & we only got covered with dirt & bits of wood. Of course all our tucker was spoilt & I lost a little of my gear. We soon shifted into another dug-out but it took me some time about half an hour to get over this little experience. I was a little scared I can assure you. At 8 o’clock a terrible roar of guns etc. was going on, we were warned that Fritz was counter-attacking & to keep well under cover. Different coloured flares went up all over the place a signal for our Artillery to give Fritz hell & they did give him hell too. I have often read & heard about these terrible bombardments which we often give Fritz but this is the first time that I have been in the Line whilst a bombardment like this is taking place. The enemy never reached our

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Front Line, he was absolutely cut to pieces (this was the report that came through). About 11 p.m. we were relieved & started on our way back, shells were falling all around us for the first mile. Two men received slight wounds. One being Will Macdonald, an old cobber of mine. (I met him in London last Sunday), he is not quite right yet).
Arrived at the A.D.S. about midnight & slept there till morning. Reported at the Main dressing station at 9 a.m. on the 12 inst. This station had been shifted back out of the danger zone.

13th May 1917.
A portion of the bearers leave the M.D.S. at 10 a.m. for the Line again, this time our position will e in another direction. It was indeed a much quieter place, very few shells flying about. I am in Tom Ross’s party at the

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the Aid Post. We were not called up during the night. A great difference to the last place we were in, why we were here three days & we were not over worked by any means. My squad only had half a dozen carries.

16th May 1917
Two years ago today, since I enlisted. At 9 a.m. we were relived by another ambulance & told to report at the warm spot again. After walking about 5 miles we found that we were not required until tomorrow so had to walk right back to the main dressing station. Fritz observers spotted us & things were fairly warm for a time, but luckily no one was hurt. You should have seen us run for our lives when Fritz started sending his coal boxes over. The distance back must have been fully 6 miles so all were a little tired I can assure you. Arrived at the dressing station at 5 p.m. our small party were walking about since 9 a.m. All

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through the night, the rain came down in torrents I could not help thinking of the troops in the trenches on such a night.

17th May 1917
At 8 a.m. the same squad moved off again but this time only about 3 miles of to another dressing station. Stayed here all day building dugouts. The straffing for the last couple of days has been exceptionally quiet, only a few gas patients passing through the dressing station at night.

18th May 1917. Our squad consisting of Jim Powel, Clarry Sullings, Fred Wiggins & myself were told to report o a Battery for duty. So until we receive further orders we are temporarily attached to the Artillery. Arrived at our destination about 11 a.m. Our home for the next few days will be in a deep dug-out. We were here 5 days, altogether, it

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became very monotonous living under the ground, as it was not safe to walk about in the open much as Fritz always had a couple of Baloons up which were facing straight down the road where our battery was situated. Very often the enemy tried to find the battery & put shells all down the road, the whole ground shook at times, fortunately not one man was injured, & we did not have one carry all the time – we were there. I saw a very brave action once, the gunners rushed out of their dugouts to put a fire out round one of the guns whilst a terrific fuscilade of shells were bursting in all directions. The Artillery fellows looked after us very well, gave us comforts & good tucker. Only one thing wrong & that was the chats.

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23rd May 1917.
Relieved at 9 a.m. reported back to M.D.S. & find the Ambulance all ready to move off. Which was very nice to know, believe me. Unit move all at 2 p.m. for that famous town again, arrived there about 4 p.m. & pitch our camp etc. We will be there for some time. For the next week we had a fairly easy time, gardening & a little drill. The bearers deserve a spell as the first 3 or 4 days was the severest we have experienced. Cricket in full swing again. On the 27th inst. Eric & I visited A------ & had a pleasant day. On the 1st June, the training was a little more severe rout march with packs etc. Eight military medals awarded to the Unit, 7 being to B. Section, hard luck for A. & C. Sections who did equally as good work as the formers. Rumours about that very shortly the Unit will make another move & have a long trip before us.

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2nd June 1917. to the 15th June 1917.
Training a little more severe, 2 route marches a week in full marching orders. On the 12th inst. we must have done 11 miles before dinner & rather a hot day too. The weather had been delightful, the evening very pleasant, now & again a thunder storm has sprung up & cleared the air etc. At last rumours have proved true & tomorrow we move off for --- not far from here. Everyone is pleased at the idea, this camp became very monotonous. Lately we have had a number of cricket matches against different Units, now & again we have a win. It is worth while mentioning that on that last route march we passed through the villages that I was in last March during the advance. Eric evacuated today to Casualty clearing station with suspected Appendicitis.

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16th June 1917.
Ambulance move off at 10 a.m. board the train & arrive at ---- at 2 p.m. The trip was delightful the country we passed through was delightful. March to
a distance of 3 miles or more, rather severe in the heat of the day carrying packs etc. The surrounding country is magnificent, words cannot describe the splendour of it. The cultivation of the land is wonderful too. Met Albert Whipp, he is now a Lieut. in one of the Battalions, also came across Harry Crowdice, he was a constant visitor at the Balmoral Dances. We will now have a certain amount of training to do here & indulge in plenty of sport.

On Monday the 18th inst. I walked to another little French village to see Bob Roberts, the Anzac [indecipherable] are showing there. The performance was a success.

June 19th, 20th & 21st. The same old routine, each day, a little drill in the morning & the afternoon we have to ourselves. Cricket, Baseball &

[Page 171]
football etc. passes away the afternoon very nicely. Capt. Irving bid us farewell on the 21st inst., he has got a good job in blighty. He was with us right from the start when the Ambulance was formed at Liverpool on the 13th August 1915.

June 22nd 1917.
Leave again to a fair sized city, spent an enjoyable day.

June 23rd 1917.
The Anniversary of our landing in France. To celebrate the occasion a big mail arrived which was welcomed by all specially as we have been waiting over a month for news from home. Looking backward one can’t help thinking of what an eventful year it has been, probably the most eventful 12 months in our lives. Our first glimpse of France unfolded in all its beauty & luxuriant growths our pleasure in being amongst a civilised

[Page 172]
country again after living in the hot dreary waterless wastes of Egypt & dirty Arabs. That wonderful & splendid train trip from the South to the North of France. Our first taste of this ghastly struggle on the 19th July last. Next arrives another long & interesting trip down to another sector of the Line, not forgetting the long marches. Then the cruel cold & cheerless winter overtook us & our home practically in the vicinity of the fighting all the while. Next follows our experiences in the Advance & last but not least our very trying experience at [blank]. It resembles a great moving picture. Our luck during these awful times has been good, when compared with the other ambulances, very few casualties have occurred, our earnest wish is that the following 12 months will see the end of this struggle & that the good luck of the Unit still continues. A great number of new faces can now be seen in the Ambulance, during the winter, a good number of the old hands were sent away sick & especially during this last stunt, a number of slight casualties

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June 27th. 1917.
Myself & two other chaps received unexpected orders to report at the Medical Stores in A for duty. Arrived there at 10 a.m. a very nice job packing
drugs & medical stores etc. living in a comfortable billet & having good meals. This job will do me. Unfortunately on Sunday the 1st July & Permanent Base men arrived so of course we had to return to our Unit again. On arriving at the Amb. I found near by a big Church parade being held by the Brigade. General Birdwood, the G.O.C. of the Division were present, also Mr. Holman.

A great number of decorations were presented. Or course plenty of bouquets were hurled at us by Mr. Holman. For the last two weeks a portion of the Amb. section has been training for a competition & an Assault at Arms

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to be held, on 4th July, American Indep. Day. Our Unit was beaten by a very small margin & came second. I have a very soft job in the display being a patient. The events were great success.
[The following appears in brackets & has then been crossed through. At the side of this section in brackets there is a note in the margin "Copy from letter".]
The next part is an account of the days events, I copied it out & sent it to you word for word, from my diary a few weeks back, if you will kindly attach it here I will be obliged.)
(It starts like this – It has often been stated that the Australian is a poor Soldier, but a great fighter etc. etc.)

[The following is from the typed transcript :
It has often been stated that the Australian is a poor soldier but a great fighter. It is evident that the originator of this quotation has never privileged to view a spectacle such as was witnessed yesterday (the 4th July American Independence Day) by members of our Division. Spend an afternoon with me & I shall show you the Australian as a trained soldier is second to none.
We shall journey to the scene of a military tournament held by our Division as competitors in a section from our Ambulance. If you had chanced to pass the site chose during the week proceeding the event a party of busy pioneers would have attracted your attention. They are engaged making the necessary preparations for the coming tournament. The arena is fenced off, trenches are dug, obstacles erected, bayonet targets constructed, & other structures all coming under the heading of preparations from the work of these pioneers. Every other detail of necessary preparation has been closely attended to competing units advised as to the times of their respective events, bands have been notified that their services will be required & numerous other arrangements all handled by a speciality selected staff, are complete. We learn that our particular event is last on the programme which means that we are free to review without interruptions, the displays of our comrades in other branches of the service appearing earlier on the list. The historic day dawns & a dull cheerless morning results but the skies brighten as the hours pass until when the time for the first event arrives a more perfect day could not be desire. Having carefully dressed our little band is ready to move off to the scene of action, here to be free until the time of our event. The arena is pitched on the outskirts of a small picturesque village rich in foliage & France is shown to us in all bits beauty. The surrounding country is a picture of grandeur. The wonderful cultivation & agricultural properties of the land are illustrated by magnificent crops in all directions. We leave these glorious exhibition of natural beauty & take up a position to view a more stirring scene, for the picked infantry of the Division is about to give the first display of the programme. The movement is to be done separately by companies, a march round the ground & then forming up in the centre, a series of rifle exercises is to be gone through. A few sharp & commanding orders are given & the band striking up a popular march play the first competing company into the ring. With a swinging step they present a picture of glorious movement an effect which is acquired in marching by tireless training only. The whole company move round in faultless time with the music & draw rounds of applause from the admirers. Wheeling in perfect unison they now approach the saluting base where the judges with critical eyes anxiously wait to not the minutest of faults. The General taking the salute also stands at the base & admires the work done by the men serving under him. This machine like motion is continued whilst covering the remaining half of the ring & circling round in perfect order the company halt as one man in the centre of the enclosure. Here various rifle exercises are done with fixed bayonets & the effect gained from accurate timing is wonderful to watch. Present arms & other movements are all performed in a manner which would be impossible to improve on. Other companies enter in their turn & carry out the same manoeuvers in what appears to the casual onlooker in equally faultless style. But the able judges every ready to pick out minor errors & faults have managed to separate them & the winning company is marched round the ground & treated to hearty applause which they will deserve. No dull moments are allowed to accumulate & smartly the bayonet fighters are brought in. they all succeed in getting through their work in a most business-like manner. The exhibition has been of a very high order all round & the judges must have experienced a great difficulty in arriving at a decision. Finally the winners are picked out & they retire justly full of pride. Closely following this highly interesting event a company take the field in shirt sleeves to give a display of physical drill. In a most perfect manner they go through their movements & retire to make room for a number of platoons, who are to give an exhibition of overcoming obstacles. Each in their turn go round the course & mount walls, cross ditches, scale embankments etc. s it it had been part of their daily routine for months. They are all dressed in full marching order. The next to attract attention were the A.S.C. who gave a brilliant piece of work in which t6hey dismantled their wagons & reconstructed them in what appeared to be in record time. The next to attract attention were the signallers & Field Ambulances, each gave an exhibition of their very useful & interesting work. The latter in a mimic battle collecting wounded in a very smart manner. Also an exhibition of stretcher drill. With these events ended a display of absolutely the highest order given solely by Australians. As will be learned from the above description of the work of the various units that there was little fault to find. The afternoon’s programme conclusively proves that the Australian is a soldier on the parade ground as well as in the trenches.]

July 6th 1917.
7 miles route march before mid-day, in full marching order, just to keep us fit.

July 9th 1917. Leave to A --- spent a very pleasant day who should I meet but Jack Ellis. He is looking very well.

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He is lucky missing that training in Egypt & not being in France during the Winter.

July 12th 1917.
The Military Tournament held last Wednesday was such a success, that the display was given again today, on the occasion of the Inspection by His Majesty King George.

July 15th 1917.
A great sports afternoon, three cricket matches & a soccer match. I was playing with the 2nd Team against another Field Amb. They prepared tea for us & gave us a good feed. We had a win for a wonder.

July 17th 1917.
Brigade route march to C --- a distance of about 12 miles. Stopped the night in the town, & returned on the 18th. Met Stan. Purse

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from Mosman Bay here, also Capt. Wilkinson. (Physical Drill Instructor)

July 19th. 1917.
What awful memories does this day bring back to us. That terrible battle on the 19th July last one of the never forgotten days in my experience.

July 29th 1917.
Preparation all the week for a big move somewhere. I believe we have a long trip before us. It will be a change to move to distant scenes.

July 30th 1917.
Ambulance move off today & board the train at A ---. Train left at midnight. At 9 a.m. we passed through a large Port of France, at 11 a.m. arrive at St. Omah or Omer, a pretty French town. Probably Leave will be granted to this city. We then marched

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Please excuse scribble, it is now 12.30 a.m. & the boat leaves at 6.30 am, for France. Please excuse mistakes no time to read it over.

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about 7 miles rather severe with heavy packs, arrived at our destination about 4 p.m. A section are billeted in an old barn, very comfortable sleeping on the straw. Unfortunately for the next 3 days it rained heavily, making things very unpleasant. The country we passed through in the train was delightful to look upon. Sometimes high wide-spreading trees lined the way & picturesque villages dotted the land. At places the path ran through meadows with thousands of poppies on either side.

7th August 1917.
Eight mile route march in full marching order.

9th August 1917.
Actually start on leave to Blighty, full details later.

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7 Edition ending 9th August

[From typed transcript:

On the occasion of the inspection by HIS MAJESTY KING GEORGE V. on Thursday July 12th 1917.

Henecourt Wood.


Time Event
11.30.a.m. "Royal Salute" by Companies which competed in the finals at the Assault at Arms.
11.35.a.m. Display by 5th Aust. Div. Train, in dismantling & assembling G.S. Waggons.
11.40.a.m. Physical Training display by detachments from all Battalions under S.S.M. Bingham A.G.S.
11.45.a.m. Display by (a) 5th Aust. Div. A.M.C. (b) 5th Aust. Div. Sig. Co.
11.50.a.m. Display by 5th Aust. Div. Artillery. Display by (a) Platoons over Obstacle course. (b) Teams over Bayonet Fighting Course.
12 noon. Parade of vehicles in prize competition.
Class 1. Best turn out G.S. Waggon & pair horses. Entries unlimited.
Class 2. Best turn out G.S. limbered Waggon & pair mules. Entries unlimited.
Class 3. Best turn out Field Cooker (with 4 cocks in marching order. Entries unlimited.
Class 4. Best turn out Field ambulance. Entries unlimited.
Class 5. Best turn out Cable Detachment of Cable Section. Consisting of, One Cable Waggon, 1 G.S. limbered Waggon Commander & 13 personal. Open to 1 Anzac Corps. Entries unlimited.
Class 6. Best turn out Transport of Brigade Machine Gun Company, to consist of (1) cooks cart, (i) water cart, 12 G.S. Waggons & 22 drivers.
1.30.p.m. Mounted Tug of War.
Teams of 8 from any unit in the Division. Horses bareback, men without boots or shoes.
2.00.p.m. Wrestling on horseback.
Teams of 8 from any unit in the Division. Horses bareback, men without boots or shoes.
2.45.p.m. Best Officers Charger. To be ridden by an Officer.
3.30 p.m. Parade of Prize Winners.]

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Somewhere in France
23rd August 1917.
Part VIII – 9th. August, 1917, to 22nd. August, 1917. Leave to England.

Dear Mother & Father,

Now that I am back in France & have plenty of time at hand, I will endeavour to give you a short description of my glorious holiday in Blighty.
On the 8th of this month I received the glorious news that on the following day I would proceed to England on leave. You can imagine my feelings, after waiting so long for this trip. I reported at the Ordinance Stores & obtained a new uniform, & at 10 a.m. on the 9th, I proceeded by car to ----- & boarded the train for Boulogne. It was absolutely a miserable trip, a very slow journey, six hours to get to Boulogne. The journey should have only taken about two hours. At the station I full expected to march straight to the boat, but also it was not to be, the train load of leave men had to march to the rest Camp fully two miles away, & being up hill at the way & carrying heavy packs, it was some march believe me. Next day reveille at 2 a.m. & we marched down to the wharf & left Boulogne for Folkstone at 8 a.m. The trip across took about two hours, the channel being rather choppy, & quite a number of the troops were sea sick. Arrived at Folkstone about 10.15 a.m.

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& immediately boarded the train for London. These trains can travell, we must have travelled fully thirty miles an hour. Arrived at Waterloo Station at 12.30 p.m. & there was all buz & excitement round this quarter, all the Australians fell in, & marched to Horseferry Road (A.I.F.) Hdqrtes), & you should have seen the way we marched, Shoulders back, head up etc- to make a good impression you know. I was from 1 oclock till 6 before I was at least free from this military business, & what a relief it was to be once again a free man. I immediately made a dive for the nearest shop & obtained new underclothing, then on to a bus & eventually arrived at the Shaftsbury Hotel near Trafalgar Square at 6.30. Here I obtained a hot bath & had every comfort once again. I felt a new man. I then swanked down the Strand, & Picadilly you would have thought I owned the dam place. In the evening I went to the Lyceum Theatre, "seven days leave was the play", it was a very good & worth seeing, there were plenty of nasty digs for those not in kharki. Enjoyed a good supper at the hotel, & then arrives something worth going to England for a good clean comfortable bed, I slept like a top till 10.a.m. the following

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morning. On the 11th August I walked about London, it is a most marvelleous city, I had no idea it was so beautiful. The streets are beautifully clean & of course no trams to spoil the look of the place, plenty of motor buses, a ride on top of these buses is very enjoyable. It was quite a treat to be amongst an English speaking people again. Who should I meet in Trafalgar Square but Syd. Sparkes, the poor fellow has had a lot of trouble as you know. I also cam across Will MacDonald who was wounded whilst in the Line with me last May, we had a good old yarn, he is looking quite well again. In the afternoon I joined a party from the War Chest Club to tour about London. We travelled in motor buses, had a guide with us, & of course he explained everything to us as we went along. Visited Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, the Guildhall, Hyde Park, Rotton Row, The Serpentine Lakes, & the famous Dogs Cemetery. The Abbey & House of Parliament was most interesting, as you know these historic old buildings are hundreds of years old. This London is some city I can assure you. In the evening I went with a party to the Coliseum. The biggest theatre in London, & the largest I have been in, the stage alone is almost as big as Her Majesty’s Theatre, Sydney. On the way

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to the theatre the guide took us through the underground & Tube Railways, & revolving staircase. I had not the least idea where I was. On Sunday morning I enjoyed a beautiful sleep in, no early morning parades or drill etc, "this life will do me". About 11 a.m. I visited Petticoat Lane the famous Jewish market, I believe these markets have been handed down for generations, it was a sight worth seeing. I travelled there by the underground & tube railways. I am tickled to death with the latter. On the way back to the hotel I visited that very historic & famous building the Tower of London. It was a very interesting morning. Shortly after dinner I visited Wembly about 5 miles out of London & called on Mrs Cruickshank a sister of Mrs Underwood. She was a great sport like all her sisters, spent a very pleasant afternoon & evening there. The file miles journey back to London on top of a motor bus was very enjoyable. One would not think that there was this fearful struggle going on only a few miles across the channel. Of course at times it is brought home to us when we see the poor fellows who are crippled for like around London. On Monday the 13th inst I spent a very pleasant morning purchasing gifts,to send to Australia. Called on

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Mr Hooper who was very pleased to see me, he said I looked very well, it was over two years since I bid him farewell in Sydney. It is marvelleous how the time ,flew passes by. In the afternoon I visited Albert Colley-Priest, the paters brother at East Sheen. He is the image of you father. We had a good old yarn of course, then I bade him farewell & boarded the train for Worthing on the south coast near Brighton. It was a most enjoyable trip, the country was looking very fine, & the scenery was magnificent. It was dark when I eventually arrived at my destination. I found my cousin Daisy Colley-Priest waiting for me, I knew her before she even spoke to me, she’s a Colley-Priest all right. We are a fine looking lot you know. Stopped the night at Aunt Rose’s home. In the morning I went for a walk before breakfast along the sea beach. It was indeed a very pretty sight. The promenade & sea beach resembles that of St Kilda very much. Worthing is indeed a fine seaside resort, it possesses fine streets & numerous fine buildings. Returned to London by the 9.15 train in the morning. Left London for Fairford by the 3.15 train in the afternoon. A very pleasant trip, the country looking at its best. Changed at Oxford & having an hour to wait for the train, I took a stroll

[Page 185]
round the city. It is a picturesque spot. Some of the streets are very pretty, with tall trees & gardens. Oxford is noted for its colleges. Arrived at Fairford about 7 p.m. I noticed a motor, outside the station so asked the owner the way to Mrs Brindle at Haterop. He kindly gave me a lift. The distance was about four miles so of course I enjoyed the spin. The time being twilight & the country was looking beautiful. The owner of the car turned out to be the owner of the public house in Bibury. I forget his name, when he knew who I was, he told me that he knew the pater very well, & remembered him as a boy also. Arrived at Aunt Kate’s home at about 7.30. She was most kind to me. The moment I put my foot over the doorstep I felt quite at home. She has three very bright little kiddies, I like them extremely. Dinner was ready waiting for me & it was some dinner too. When they knew that I could only stop a day with them they decided to hire a trap for the following day & take me to Bibury, where you lived as a boy father. The place where the trap was hired from was fully two miles away, & Uncle walked all that way for me. I accompanied him. That is kindness for you. I cannot thank them enough. I was up, rather early next morning, & it was rather pleasant,

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there was just a little freshness about the air to make things very delightful. Shortly after breakfast we started on the trip to Bibury, Aunt Kate & the three kiddies being the guides. The distance was about three & a half miles, a pleasant little drive. Arrived at Bibury at 10 a.m. & I can state that without one word of a lie that it is the prettiest little village I have ever seen, of course I was seeing the country at the best time of the year. The owner of the car must have conveyed the news round the village that young Colley-Priest would be over this morning. Quite a number of people expected me, & they all asked after George. I visited the house where you lived, father, when a boy, the same house you visited in 1901. I was taken round to see all your old friends. I only remembered the names of one family, Mr Thorne who lives at the Court. All the people I visited had a little refreshment ready for me, that is what they call it, I call it a feed. They could not understand me refusing to eat. Visited the old churchyard & & church & returned to Haterop for dinner. Returned to London on the 2.25 train. It was a most enjoyable & interesting trip, & I can assure you that I appreciate all the kindness shown to me. I could not thank Aunt Kate enough. If ever I go to

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England again Fairford will be the place for me. Caught the Glasgow Express at 9.15 a.m. the following morning. These trains can travel over here, beat anything in Australia. The third class is like our First class. The scenery from the train when day broke was magnificent. Went to the Y.M.C.A. for breakfast & made inquiries about Glasgow. I was advised to take a trip down the Clyde to one of the Locks. I did so, & I shall never regret it, it was the most beautiful trip I have ever had. The steamer left Jamacia Bridge wharf at 10.30 a.m,. Met a very nice fellow on board who was wounded in that stunt last May, so was not on my own for the day. We managed to secure a couple of good seats on the top deck, & met some very nice people there. A couple of girls with there mother were seated quite close to me, so of course I soon made myself known. They were most interesting to talk to, they spend most of their time travelling, they have visited certain parts of America, Germany, France, & Switzerland. The first two miles was an interesting trip, ship building yards on either side, & a busy scene it was. All kinds of craft were being constructed,

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cruisers, destroyers, submarines, merchant ships, & even aeroplanes & tanks. The scenery for the next 5 miles was really beautiful & the further we steamed down the Lock-Lockgoilhead was a must glorious sight. Words cannot express the beauty & grandeur of the scene. It resembles Middle Harbour in some places, only of course the hills on either side were more massive, in fact they were mountains, & the peculiar blue colour of these mountains through the haze is indeed pleasant to look upon. Dunoon was passed about half way, another fine spot. (See post cards & books). At Lockgoilhead we roamed about the sores for about an hour, returned to Glasgow at 7.30 P.M. This trip has been a most beautiful one, Lockgoilhead is one of the sights of the world. The far in the steamer was 7/6 return, including meals, & I can assure you this was cheap. I spent the evening at the Theatre. Stayed the night at the Grand Central Hotel. (Some swank.) Next day Friday the 17th inst I took the train to Uddington, about five miles out of Glasgow to see Mrs McFadgen, her son is in A section, & was anxious for me to call on her. It was a very pretty trip on top of the tram. Mrs McFadgen was a homely old soul I could scarcely understand her she spoke so

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broad. Left for Edinburgh at 2 p.m. Arrived there at four p.m. I was amazed at the beauty of the city, it is almost surrounded by high mountains. It would be an ideal spot for a decent long holiday. I am stopping at the Royal Hotel, almost opposite Sir Walter Scott’s monument (see postcards & books) in Prince’s Street. Said to be the finest street in Europe. I can quite believe this. It is beautifully laid out. All one side stretching for over a mile or more are beautiful gardens, monuments, & avenues of trees. Visited Edinburgh Castle. Here a magnificent view of the town is obtained. Spent the evening at the King’s Theatre which is a very good show. Harry Lauder was exceptionally good, I liked him very much. Next day unfortunately it was raining early in the morning. That of course put all long trips aside. However the sun came out again in all its glory at about ten a.m. so boarded a motor bus & went to the Forth Bridge.
The most wonderful bridge in the world, it is a mile & three quarters long, & seven hundred men are employed annually to keep it in repair. The view from the bridge was really worth seeing. It was a wonderful sight, scores of Battleships, Cruisers, & Destroyers could

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be seen. It made me think of Sydney Harbour straight away. I intended going on board the Australia, but unfortunately she was in the docks. In the afternoon I took the tram to Portobello a pretty seaside resort about three miles from Edinburgh, an exceptionally fine trip. Left this beautiful city for London at seven p.m. (Look out for gifts etc – from Bonnie Scotland). Arrived at London at six a.m. on the 19th instant. On arriving at the Shaftesbury Hotel who should I see there but four fellows from the eighth They were evidently shaking the leave up. Bert Berry was amongst the party. I arranged to meet my cousin Lily Colley-Priest at Trafalgar Square at 11 a.m. From her style of letters to me I expected to meet a fair damsel about the age of twenty years, but ye gods, Lily was about thirty or forty. It was rather a disappointment. I had no sooner met her than my old cobber came along & patted me on the back, Sergt. Hefferman, who photo you have, taken whilst in northern France last year. This made things worse still, I could see the broad grin on his face. However we had dinner, then I bade her farewell & caught the train for Great Marlow, in Buckinghamshire, to see Aunt Ada. She was also very kind to me, prepared a great spread, in fact she did not know whether she was on

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her heels or not. Her husband is very clever, he paints well, carving & fancy work is his hobby also, people all round Buckinghamshire come to inspect his work. After tea I was taken down to Marlow Bridge, from here the scenery was magnificent. A portion of the Thames runs through this two, boating & fishing is indulged in here. The river at Marlow resembles that of Narrabeen Lakes, so you can imagine what a delightful spot it is. Arrived in London close on midnight. Two nice Scotch lassies were in the carriage, so of course butted my frame in & everything in the garden was lovely. The following day & also my last day of leave, I had a wild tour of London, & came across a good number of our Unit. Spent the day with them. Called on Mr Hooper & gave him 5£ to keep for me, it is no use taking it to France, it would be wasted. Visited Madame Tussards wax works, & the Zig Zag, in the afternoon, & Oscar Ashe & Lily Brayton in the evening n Chu Chin Chow, & who ever do you I met there, I gave him the shock of his life, Eric & Clarry Sullings. We had a good old yarn. I am glad I met Eric in London.
On the 21st August I reported to the R.T.O. at Waterloo Station & caught the 7.25 train for Folkstone, en-route

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for France. We arrived at Folkstone at 10 a.m. & had to wait about till 3.30 p.m. before the boat started off. Packed like sardines on board, & naturally every one is in a bad humour, we all know this country of France now. We eventually arrived at Boulogne at 8 p.m., experienced another long march to the Rest Camp. Marched back again to the station at 10 p.m. train left about midnight, arrived back again with my Unit at 10 oclock the following morning.

So after nearly two years active service I have had my leave trip at last. It was the most enjoyable & glorious trip that I have ever had in my life. I always had an ambition to see England, now of course I am satisfied. London is really a wonderful city, it exceeded all my expectations. During my travels I saw some of the sights of the world, & I often stopped at the very best places I could find in the different cities I visited, except when with relations. I met kindness where ever I went, especially the latter. The Australian Soldier is some swank in England "believe me". The trip cost £18 & I don’t grudge a penny of it, after living like a pig for nearly 2 years you can imagine what it was like to have every comfort again. I must have spent about £5 in gifts which I sent to my numerous friends in Australia.

Father don’t forget & write to your sisters & thank them for their great kindness to me.
Fond love, from Langford

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If you would kindly pass this letter round, it would save me a lot of trouble.
Call it the 8th edition, & attach it to the others.

[Programme from typescript version:

General Manager, Warrant Officer E. Kitson. ---


1 Overture Orchestra
2 Opening Chorus "N.B.S."
3 Alabama May
4 When you come home Herford
5 Wellerisms Gamble & Payne
6 Haiwaiian Butterfly Douch
7 The laddies who fought & won. Orr
8 Another little drink "N.B.S."
9 When Paderewski plays Fayne
10 Dawn Skies Overett
11 The 5.15 Atherton & May
12 Advertisements "N.B.S."


1 Overture Orchestra
2 Tulip time in Holland Douch
3 Yakka Hula Kitson
4 Youth Overett
5 I rang my little bell & ran away. Smith
6 She is my Daisy Orr
7 Sympathy Herford
8 Come & Cuddle me Gamble & May
9 Intern them all "N.B.S.".


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Part IX
23rd. August, 1917, 8th. November, 1917.
Return to France: In the Line: Awarded Military Medal.

I think it would be most appropriate to continue on with my Diary & end the report on the above date, as today is the second anniversary of our departure from sunny N.S.W. That eventful & somewhat sad morning, when we bid farewell on board the Beltana, is ever fresh n my memory. Little did I think then, of what lay before us, the past 24 months seem like a dream at times, & they are indeed very memorable months. Our experiences have been of a very varied character, pleasant & unpleasant (dark days & stirring days) exciting & unexciting. We have travelled many thousands of miles, & my views of the outside world have been considerably broadened & combined with the knowledge gained of conditions prevailing in the countries visited during the past two years has been the best education I have had. Five countries we have visited, Egypt, France, Belgium, England & Scotland, & from all appearances we should visit a few more before returning to Australia. Honestly speaking, I am not keen on travelling to other foreign lands, what we all want is to return to Australia, absolutely the best spot on this earth. In our travels quite a number of nationalities, we have come across, English, Irish, & Scotch troops, Egyptians, Arabs, French, Belgiums, Portusese, Indians West Africans, Americans, Chinese & Germans. A fair collection some of the habits & customs of the above are very peculiar & interesting – especially the Egyptians & Chinese. We must certainly admit that German is a wonderful nation, she is practically fighting the world.

This part is sure to upset you but why worry, I cam through alright & am O.K. at present. I think it best to tell of our experience, it is no use "beating about the bush". Now please do not think that I send these different parts

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home, just for bravado & skite & self praise; nothing of the sort, the reason is – that I thought it a good idea to keep an account of my experiences etc. so that when I return I will be able to explain things more fully & also in years to come it will be interesting to look back & read the account. It is not only myself who has been through the experiences recorded here but the majority of the Bearers of our Unit. Although the latter have suffered during this time in the straffing, we still remain the "Lucky 8th" when compared with other Australian Ambulances.

The previous account of my doings ended on the 22nd August the day that I returned to the Unit from leave to England.

August 23rd to 28th.
The same old routine as before, a little drill & fatigues each day, but naturally after just coming back from England I cold not settle down to this military life for a couple of days. But of course it does not take long to get in the same old groove again. Very frequently I went for a stroll in the evenings, the twilight was very pleasant, & the country was looking at its best.

August 29th 17.
Review held by our Division, Sir Douglas Hair taking the salute. It was indeed a grand sight, it brought back memories of that Review held by General Mackay at Ferry Post, Egypt on the 25th May 1916. But alas, how man men I wonder attended the 2nd review who were with the Division in Egypt.

August 31st.
A nine mile route march before dinner full pack up, just to keep us fit.

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Sunday, 2nd September to 15th September 17.
Visited a fair sized town, about 8 miles away from our billet, spent a pleasant day there. Band performance in the gardens, met a number of old pals, including Holmes from Hooper & Harrison, Dickinson & Redmond from Neutral Bay. (The latter was killed in the recent operations, a jolly fine fellow he was too). Spent the evening at a Picture Show which was most enjoyable. A day spent in the above fashion helps to break the monotony of this life greatly. Just after returning to my billet Fritz made an air raid on the town so its just as well I left the place early. Quite a number of civilians were injured I believe. All the week, the same routine so will not comment on it. On the following Sunday the 9th inst. I visited the town again & once more came across a number of old friends including Roy O’Keefe’s brother. He is only 17 years old & is a Stretcher bearer. 27 years old today, it the war lasts much longer I will be too old to settle down & get married.
Received parcels from relations in England.

16th September 1917.
Moving orders to hand again, this time I believe it will be towards the straffing. Plenty of work, striking camp etc. a portion of the Ambulance leave early in the morning.

17th September 1917.
Reveille 5:30 a.m. it was rather unfortunate the Ambulance being at the end of the column, the whole Brigade marching. It was a long & tedious march, about 18 miles altogether. (Of course as usual I will not b e able to mention any names of places etc.) At mid-day we marched through C [blank] a fine little township situated on a hill from which a grand view of the surrounding country was obtained. Arrived at ---- about 7 o’clock, every one dog

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tired. I could scarcely drag one foot after the other. Billeted in a barn for the night, it was "Tres bon" lying on the straw.

Tuesday 18th September 1917.
On the march again, leave the barn at 9 o’clock & arrive at our destination which turned out to be a big Rest Station at 2 p.m. Whilst on the march we crossed the border of France & Belgium. Plenty of work in hand for the Ambulance as the Rest Station was full of patients. I managed to procure my old job again – on night duty in the baths. The guns could be heard quite plainly during the night as we are much nearer the Line at present.

Wednesday 19th September 17.
Spent a few hours in --- a large town about as big as Albert. The place was a busy scene the streets were alive with traffic, so there is evidently going to be "something doing" around this vicinity. From different reports I expected to see the town in a battered state, but I was rather surprised on seeing the place it is not near as bad as Albert. I could not help noticing how much cleaner the Belgium people are to the French. During the night the booming of guns was exceptionally loud. Fritz is evidently getting a hot time. On arriving back at my diggings, I found that the Bearers were standing by, unexpected orders had been received that the bearers were to be ready to move off at a moments notice.

Thursday 20th September 1917.
Before staring on our experiences in the Line I must let you understand – that I must be very very careful what I say as Censorship Rules are exceptionally strict at present. Its hard lines I know, no one is more anxious than myself to write a full account but I dare not.
At 3 p.m. the Bearers move off by Motor Lorries towards the Straffing & arrive at the Dressing Station about 5 p.m. Troops to be seen in all directions,

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hundreds of motor lorries & transport wagons, also – a busy scene. Tea was partaken of here. A few hours before we arrived on the scene the O.C. – the Field Ambulance was killed. We stopped the night in a big dugout as we will not be required before morning. The row during he night was terrific but the majority slept like a log as we are used to this game now. I went on gas picquet from 12 till 1 a.m. but everything was O.K.

21st September 1917. Another start is made for the Straffing at 5 a.m. in motor lorries, we travelled through one of the biggest towns in Belgium to the Dressing Station. The town was even in a worse condition than Bapaume – just a mess of ruins & debris. You people cannot realize or even picture what the place is like – it is a cruel sight. It must have been a fine place in peace time. I wonder how long the latter will be, what a shout of joy will go round the world when peace is declared. A section again proceed to the furthest posts, the same old horrible scenery, rack & ruin everywhere. We had to start work immediately our 5 squads were kept pretty busy till 4 p.m. Most of our stretcher cases were Fritz’s & jolly heavy they were too. The majority of them were over 6 ft high. I cannot comment much on the matter, the affair is too ghastly & horrible to write about. This struggle is a great blow to civilisation

Who should I meet at the Post but Fred Cole, Tame & Broughton, all from Neutral Bay, we were school boys together. About 7 p.m. the enemy were evidently preparing for a counter attack & our Artillery gave Fritz a 3 hour bombardment. It must have been perfect hell in the enemies lines, we stood on the top of the trench & watched our shells bursting there. We were most fortunate during the night, our squad only had two carries. Fred Wiggins (you have his photo) & I are in the same squad, he & I were carrying together on the Somme.

22nd September 1917.
At 8 a.m. a rush of patients occurred bur fortunately our relief turned up so you can bet that it did not take us long to clear out. Sad news to hand of one of the 8th bearers is missing named Bradley. I am afraid that the poor fellow has gone, his pay

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book & mirror were the only articles found. Roy Wooller & Bert Berry were wounded but not serious. I am sorry that I did not see Bert before he went away. Boarded the lorries at the Dressing Station & conveyed back to our Unit where we all enjoyed a good hot bath & a hot meal. Slept like a log during the night.

23rd September 1917.
The next morning one of the Bearers, who was at our Post, collapsed in the Tent, delayed action gas, he is now in Blighty. I consider Alf. Pitt is a lucky chap, you will see him in that last photo. The bearers fall in again & all conveyed by lorries to some big dugouts in that town I mentioned before, we are billeted here till we are wanted in the Line. I see by the paper that the British have had a great victory & that the Australians did well. Our bearers were evidently in one of the greatest advances on the Front. Several times I believe an advance has been attempted here but Fritz always secured the ground again. I have never seen so many aeroplanes about before, a marvellous sight. The dugout was a fine one, it could easily hold 200 men & was lit up with electric light. Unfortunately we had no sooner settled down when A Section were ordered to move on. Arrived at the Dressing Station at 5 p.m. met O’Keefe (showed him Roy’s letter which I received from him yesterday). We move on again & are posted at a Relay Post about a mile from the Front Line. The noise of the Artillery was deafening, guns all round the dugout. Our home was a long narrow passage, the place was damp, stuffy & filthy. The odour was not too pleasant either. Other Bearers as infantry men were all camped up like sardines in the place. This is where we will stop for 24 hours, a pleasant prospect "I don’t think".

Here again I must mention about the good work of the Y.M.C.A., not far from our dugout they have a free coffee stall & of course it is continually under shell fire. The Ambulance we relieved had a few casualties this morning. We will certainly not be lonely tonight, the dugout is alive.

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My squad was again fortunate during the night, having so many Bearers we were not required very many times, but the heat & smell of the place was awful.

24th September 1917.
A fairly quiet morning, news to hand of 3 wounded & one killed in C. section. Pte. McGoldrick, Mole & Rayner & the latter was Phil Murray. It is when our own men are killed that we feel it most. At night the rush was rather severe, scores of wounded passed through our hands: we had English Ambulance Bearers helping us also. The following day, the 25th was one of the worst days that our Bearers have ever experienced. The shelling of our lines was hellish, never will I forget it. It was so bad that 300 yds below our post we were obliged to place the wounded in a big crater for shelter. The dugouts were all full of men, of course very little shelter. The road we usually carried down was in flames so we thought discretion was the better part of valour & that’s the reason why we kept the wounded back. Naturally the smoke etc. drew Fritz’s fire & it was hell. Only those who go in the line can realize what it is like. I saw quite a number of men killed, our 3 squads did what we could, bandaging some of the wounded chaps, horrible news to hand in regard to our bearers, three killed in one squad, Henry Mercer, Mat Doil & Lue Ballard, but we must not worry, it is the work of war & if we intend to carryon with our work, we must keep a stout heart. The fourth man, Bill Hippersley, had a miraculous escape, he was knocked spinning yards & received a slight wound in the foot. Of course he was suffering from shock, I saw him shortly afterwards & he was deaf. From all appearances he will get along all right. (We have since heard that he is in Blighty).

Really I do not know how to write an account of today’s doings, it is too awful to think about. After a few hours the shelling quietened down slightly so of course the bearers got to work to get the wounded away. There was terrible congestion at first but gradually the conditions became better. On the way back to the crater our squad consisting of Fred Wiggins – Wally Miller – Hue Reid & myself came across a chap suffering from shell shock, it took 6 of us to hold him, everytime he heard the sound of a gun he struggled & kicked like mad.

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It was a hard tussle getting him to the cars, I can assure you. On returning to the Crater things were all anyhow, one side of the crater had been blown in & a great number of wounded were lying about, also along the track were a number of dead. Only 4 squad were stationed at the crater & I found to my dismay that Les Townsend of B section had been slightly wounded leaving one man short in that squad. Another squad had not returned so you can imagine what an awful state things were in. However we carried on the best we could but of course we soon became dead beat so I reported back to the officer at the next post & explained things to him. A great number of stretcher squads were sent down to the crater to carry on. Our squad was brought back to the tunnel dugout for a rest & although the place was stinking etc. it was a treat to have a little est. the squad that I mentioned as missing happily turned up, they had carried a patient right through to the Dressing Station fully 3 miles away so of course you can guess how tired they were. The squad consisted of Tom Ross, Sullings Nesbit & Calf. Peter Moore was slightly wounded during the night. I have mentioned him previously. These men who received slight wounds are exceptionally lucky to get away from this awful business. Our squad did gas picquet for the night in 2 ½ hour shifts. Whilst on my shift 4 tanks passed by towards the Line. If Fritz gave us hell during the day our Artillery gave him 10 times hell during the night. The bombardment of his lines was terrific, I cannot make you form any idea of what is it like. Our troops made a successful advance & hundreds of prisoners passed by our post. Crowds of wounded passed by our post. Crowds of wounded passed through our hands & other Ambulance bearers were sent for to copy with the rush. Saw quite a number of amusing sights. One Australian soldier with a rifle & bayonet over one shoulder, a revolver in one hand & a short bayonet in the other was swanking down in front of a batch of German Prisoners. A good picture for Bairnsfather. Another chap was guarding a German officer. I think he was a Colonel, he sang out to us that it was "Peter – meaning Peter Hindenburg. About 4 p.m. the pleasant news was passed down the dugout that A Section squads were relieved.

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Just about time too, three days under such conditions was rather long. You should have seen the way we moved when we knew we were going back. It amuses me these pictures in the Sydney mail etc. – note the eager look in the faces of the men as they go towards the Line to deal with the enemy, but you should have seen us when we knew were were relieved. We were lucky enough to have a lift to the Dressing Station & here we received orders to proceed to some big dugouts in on arriving there we enjoyed a good hot meal & turned in straight away. It was heaven to be away from the straffing for a time. We would have all liked to have gone back to our Unit & have a hot bath etc. but our luck was out. The remaining squads of A Section soon made their appearance & we were all very glad indeed to see each other again. They also had a terrible & ghastly 3 days. We all look awful wrecks, unable to wash, as all our gear is back with the Unit.

26th September 1917.
The remaining sections made their appearance this morning ans we were all advised to turn in & rest as any time we may be wanted in the Line again. I must mention that Sgt. Maheison, in charge of A Section, deserves great praise & he certainly deserves recognition for the work he did. He has never missed a turn in the Line & although wounded slightly at the crater, he carried on & would not leave until the whole Ambulance was relieved. Who should I meet in my travels but Reynolds from Neutral Bay & Stoddard from Hooper & Harrisons. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for coming out of the ordeal quite safe. I thank God with all my heart for my safety.
Unfortunately we were not be left alone in quietness for long at 11 p.m. on the 17th inst. A Section were rudely awakened & told to report to the Line again. Arrived at the Relay Post about midnight – a beautiful moonlight night & it was exceptionally quiet. On the way in I passed Esbert Smith driving one of our Ambulance cars.

28th September 1917.
At 9 a.m. we were on the move again & reported to the next Relay Post, it

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was situated only about ½ a mile a head, a nice little carry. As usual the place was stinking & filthy like our previous homes. The ambulance bearers we relieved had real rotten luck, just before leaving a shell landed right in the door of the tunnel killing two men & wounding three. It was partly their own fault, instead of clearing out when relieved they would hang about the place yarning etc. & of course drew fire. We were kept fairly busy all day but living in the stuffy dugout was about the limit. Judging by the row during the night, Fritz must have attempted a counter attack.

29th Sept. 1917.
No sign of any relief, it will be a "god send" when it does arrive e, it is rotten living in this dugout Two extra squads arrived from our headquarters, the majority of them had just returned from leave to blight. Eric was with them, they went on to a further post. Kept fairly busy during the night & a few gas shells burst in the vicinity so had to don our gas helmets, had to carry a patient with one on which was a little awkward. Hugh Reid sprained his ankle so my squad was unable to proceed with 5 other squads of A. Sect. to the furthest posts at 9 a.m. the following morning. A very quiet morning, in the afternoon word came through that one of the chaps who went out to the furthest posts was completely done up.

I believe it is a very long carry. I went out to take his place, called at the next relay Post on the way which was about ¾ of a mile away, passed Eric with a stretcher case. Arrived at my d3stination about 8 p.m. it was a beautiful moonlight night & exceptionally quiet. I did not like the quietness "calm before a storm" as was proved later on. The Aid Post was a "Pill Box" or one of Fritz’s concrete dugouts in ---- which Fritz held only the day before. An English Regiment took over the section which our boys held & we were all looking forward to being relieved about midnight but unfortunately this was not to be. We bearers experienced hell (I cannot call it anything else) for the next 12 hours. Shortly after midnight Fritz made a counter attack, the noise was deafening & Fritz barrage – well words cannot describe what it was like. Shells were bursting in all direction all though the night, in fact till 12 o’clock the following day, this awful shelling went on. Fritz has got the range of every "Pill Box" & I state without one word of a lie, that some of these shells landed on the dugout, The place often shook & trembled, I expected every

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moment, to see it come tumbling down. The strain on our nerves was severe, we were all sure that we would neve leave the place alive. The front Line was about 700 yards from our home & I believe that Fritz gained 120 yards back, but shortly after he was driven back again. Our infantry must have had a a hellish time. I thought at first that we would all be captured. The shelling was so heavy that it was an impossibility to get at the wounded. About 4:30 a.m. on the 1st Oct. a big explosion occurred just outside the "Pill Box" & thick vapour or smoke or gas came pouring in the dugout, it was exceptionally strong & we all donned our gas helmets, I had mine on for two hours, jolly nearly stifled when I took it off. Still the shelling continued & unfortunately the relief could not reach us. It was a terrible suspense waiting to be relieved: about 8 o’clock one of the squads took a stretcher case to the next Relay Post & I can assure you that my prayers went with them. If any man prayed earnestly to the Almighty God we did on this awful day. I not only prayed for myself but for all those in the place & for my loves ones at home. About 12 o’clock (mid-day) word came through that the relief was at hand & I can assure you that it did not take us long to get a move out of the devilish place. We had to find the track the best way we could as it was blown to pieces, we ran like mad, machine bullets were whistling past us & shells enough said, eventually we arrived at the tunnel again took shelter & rested for a while, I was completely done up. After a rest we were much better so we pushed on & managed to obtain a lift to the dressing station & obtained a good hot drink. George Simister, Jim Powel, E. Dodson, Charles Whittaker & Sgt. Morris went on by motor ambulance to our headquarters, they were all crook with the gas. Fred Wiggins & I jumped into a lorry & eventually arrived at our headquarters at 3:20 p.m. I looked a terrible wreck, no wash or shave for 10 days. The majority of the other squads of the 3 sections were relieved the night before, we were certainly must unfortunate being the last to be relieved. It was a most trying ordeal, worse than any other that I have experienced since being in France. Only the fellows who were present can realize what it was like. We all thank God with all our hearts that we came through the ordeal safely. (We are also very much obliged to Fritz for his "Pill Box" for shelter.)

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It was not very long before I was into a hot bath, a clean change of clothes & then into bed & it was a relief I can assure you. A big mail awaited me (25 letters) but to tell you the truth I was too tired to read it.

2nd October 1917.
Rested all day but I find it an impossibility to answer my mail, cannot put my mind on writing letters, I do not wonder at it either. Eric was at the same post as myself but unfortunately he was at another post when the severe shelling began. The two Dargins from Mosman called to see me today, the following two days, the bearers did a few fatigues around the rest camp.

4th October 1917.
The bearers move off again towards the Line, we travel by means of a light railway, raining heavily all the while. Arrive at a dressing station about 7 p.m. & slept in huts for the night.

5th October 17.
Reveille 5 a.m. & a bitterly cold morning it was too, the winter has started again in earnest. We are conveyed to the Line in lorries & then over on to relieve another ambulance at the different posts. Since we were last in the trenches a great advance had been made, the furthest Post that I was at when first arriving in the straffing last month was not right in the rear. After walking about 2 miles we found that we were not wanted so had to trudge off in another direction. A section were eventually stationed at a Relay Post, the other sections proceeding further on. Our post was an enormous concrete Pill Box, it contained about 9 compartments. Of course there was very little room for the bearers, just had to squat down where we could. The carry to the next post was not of the best that cursed mud again, but it was not nearly as severe as thos carried down in the Somme last November. All through the night we were kept fairly busy, sleep was out of the question. The place3 was a home when compared with out last post, very little shelling. General Birdwood visited here this morning & of course plenty of bouquets were chucked at us. One wounded Fritz we carried was only 20 years old. He could speak English

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fairly well, he told us that he was only 6 days a soldier, 3 days in the Firing Line & the other three in "no man’s land" lying wounded until our regimental bearers picked him up. He was greatly surprised that we were carrying him over country which was in Fritz’s hands not two days ago.

6th October 17.
Our squad consisting of Corporal Cosier, Joe Bonnel, Fred Wiggins & myself had to report to -- with 5 stretchers. A guide came with us, it was a long & dreary walk, full 2 ½ miles before we eventually arrived at our destination which happened to be about 600 yds from our front Line. The track was dreadful, all mud & shell holes. I do pity the regimental bearers, the fellows who pick the wounded men up in "no mans land" etc. & carry them to the Ambulance bearers. These men certainly deserve recognition. The country was every bit as bad as it was down the Somme last October 1916. scores of Germans were lying about, I could have collected plenty of souvenirs but I am too disgusted with the whole business to bother about souvenirs now. Am just about fed up with it all. It was rather a trifle warm to be loitering about this vicinity so we soon made our way back, it was absolutely a miserable day, pouring rain & a bitterly cold wind blowing. Oh, what a life. Arrived back at the post about mid-day. The journey took all the morning. No sign of any relief yet so we give up all of its arrival till tomorrow. Another miserable night but fortunately very few carries.

7th October 17.
Relief actually arrived & it did not take me long to clear out. Arrived back at our Unit about mid-day & have a few days spell.

10th October 17.
All the bearers receive word to be ready to move off at a minutes notice. At 1 p.m. we fall in ready for the fray again. Colonel Shepherd was present on the parade, he made a long speech & bade us farewell as he is leaving the Unit. We were all very sorry to lose him, he has treated us well. We then board the lorries & conveyed to those big dugouts again & settle down for the night.

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11th October 17 to 17th October.
Moved off towards the Line at 6:30 a.m. passed right through the ruined city, words cannot describe the rack & ruin of the place, it is jst one mass of debris. Fortunately our squad is posted at the loading post. We ill be here for 24 hours & will do our job in shifts, 4 hours on & 8 off, a spell from bearing, all we do is to load the cars. On the following day we moved further on to another relay post about 2 miles away. All the way was the ghastly scene of the greatest battlefield in the world. Only those who have been here can form any idea of what the scene is like, not even the best writers in the world can explain or make a picture of the landscape as it appears in reality. It was a most miserable day & it was rather difficult bearing in the mud, at times we sank almost to our knees, 48 hours we did at the latter post & we are relieved & I soon make a move to the rear of our lines. All the bearers were very disappointed on receiving the report that we would not report back to our Unit for our 48 hours spell (where we could obtain a hot bath & change of clothes & comfortable bed for the night) but would stop at some big dug-
outs in ---- The place was stinking, filthy & damp. However we must make the best of a bad job & keep smiling. I heard that another ambulance, of another Division, was not far off our diggings so of course proceeded there immediately to to know that only half an hour before I arrived there Ralph Davidson passed through the Dressing Station, fortunately he was only slightly wounded. It was unfortunate that I missed him. In the evening I attended a service field in a ruined building, it was one of the most impressive services that I have ever attended.

18th October 17.
A nice little surprise sprung on us this morning, gifts from the Australian Red Cross Comforts arrived including gloves & socks etc. I also received a parcel from the Neutral Bay Rifle Club. About 10 o’clock I disappeared from our uncomfortable quarters & obtained a glorious hot bath & a clean change at a village about 2 miles away, I felt a anew man again. Turned in early as we will breakfast

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at 5 a.m. in the morning & proceed towards the straffing again. I arrived at the Post, which we are attached to, about 8 a.m. on the 16th inst. & things were fairly busy for a while, a great number of our stretcher cases were gas patients, Fritz put plenty of gas shells over during the night & the ambulance we relieved had to send quite a number of their bearers to the Hospital. In fact a few gas shells landed in the vicinity where we were working. On the way to the Post I met Max Allworth, he told me that he saw Oscar Hann only 2 days ago. Also met Capt. Wilkinson from the Rifle Club. Plenty of mud about but unfortunately the weather is clearing up & the track should be soon O.K.

17th October 17.
A quiet night, only a couple of casualties occurring in our vicinity. In the morning the ground was dry & we were able to put our patients on trucks & push them along the rails to the next Relay Station, a great assistance. Lieut. Gillies from Neutral Bay called at the dugout to see me. I was naturally very much surprised to see him.

18th October 17.
Shelling rather severe for a couple of hours during the night, we were obliged to take shelter in a "Pill Box" A number of troops were hit in our vicinity to naturally plenty of work. Some of the incidents that occurred fairly shook us up, fancy calling this a civilised world & this ghastly business going on. The next 48 hours we did at the furthest post but we were indeed very fortunate, only having 5 carries amongst 4 squads, but even when we have very few carries it is a great strain on a chap living amongst the desolate scene & continual shelling. Just received the news that Lieut. Gillies was killed this morning.

20th October 17.
Hurrah, our relief arrived at 8 a.m. so we soon made ourselves scarce I can assure you. It was a long & dreary walk back to the Dressing Station, fully 4 miles away. Arriving at the Station about 10 o’clock, all the bearers were dismayed on receiving the news that we would

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stop for our two days spell at those rotten dugouts again. It was rather disappointing news as we were al looking forward to returning to our Unit. I jumped on a lorry & went to the Unit on my own accord & enjoyed a splendid hot dinner, a hot bath & a complete change. Certainly a great relief as the clothes I threw away, well I was not on speaking terms with them. I was greatly surprised to see Stan. Hedger at our camp, he called in to see me & he nearly had convulsions when he caught sight of me. I was mud from head to foot & had quite a beard on my chin, unfortunately I just missed Oscar Hann, he called this morning to see Eric & I.

Returned to the dugouts the following day & even here Fritz could not leave us alone in quietness, his airmen must have caught sight of the relieving troops in the town (will be unable to state who they were) & a few big shells came over killing a considerable number. Sgt. Mathieson, Sgt. Morris & Pte. Hall attended to the wounded & deserve much praise for their work. I should have been giving them a hand but I felt queer at the time, one can have too much at this game. I am not the only one who is not up to the mark, all the other bearers are beginning to break up. Why the nations can’t live in peace is a mystery, the whole terrible affair is a disgrace to civilisation but I honestly think that it will be a better world when the struggle is over, there is a great deal that I would like to state here but I can’t – enough said.

Some of the items I read in the papers are most amusing. Here are a couple – The Australians after resisting several counter attacks on Tuesday took all their objectives in their stride yesterday. They had hard fighting at ------ where one of them said – We had great fun & they thoroughly enjoyed flushing the enemy from the "Pill Boxes".

No doubt it was a great victory for the Australians, but as for saying

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it was great fun, & they thoroughly enjoyed the stunt - well I fail to see where the fun came in. No sane man would call this fun or enjoyable.
Just another paragraph –
The Australians today are the theme of universal praise throughout our Army, & it seems among the Germans as well. At any rate one young German officer said "What are we to do, we are only boys against these big brave Australians". Only boys! Why the first time in the Line, here last month, the squad I was in carried 7 Fritz wounded troops & I guarantee without a word of a lie that everyone of them were over 6 feet high & rather heavy to carry. One would think that we were the only soldiers over here. You very seldom hear the English Tommies mentioned. Who was it, at the beginning of the War, stopped the German Hordes from reaching Calais etc. that "Retreat from Mons" - remember only a handful – The Tommy troops - & they are still fighting well.
I forgot to mention that on arriving back at the Unit yesterday I was surprised to see Dug Bryant & Will Macdonald who had both rejoined the Unit from Blighty.
WillMacdonald was you remember wounded at B - whilst coming out of the trenches with me. They are both looking O.K. These dugouts are really a filthy place to live in, it is a wonder to me that we are not sick, even resting here its a strain on the nerves, a Fritz often sends a few of his souvenirs over, just a little greeting as it were. Sgt. Mathieson was slightly wounded & returned to the Rest Camp. Fortunately the atmosphere quietened down & a small party of us went to Church & Holy Communion, it was a most impressive service, especially after seeing numbers of men killed , scarcely 2 hours before the service commence. In the morning I attended the service again, enjoyed the meeting immensely, a few more of our bearers were sent away to hospital suffering from gas, Sgt. Roberts, Ptes Whitaker, Powell, Perry, Donovan, Briggs & Deed. I believe Powell, Whitaker Briggs & Roberts are in Blighty now, the remainder got attended to at the Unit Rest Camp.

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22nd October 17.
Reveille 4:30 a.m. The bearers proceed once more towards the Lines to do over 4 days, I sincerely hope that this will be our last time in, the strain on the nerves is too severe. I was very fortunate again, was again posted at the Loading Post, two squads were stationed here so we worked the first 48 hours in 8 hour shifts, loading cars is an easier job than bearing – believe me. The two squads were the following – Charles Hall, Fred Wiggins, Ern. Musman & myself, - George Simister, Frank Woodward, Roy Loveday & Eric Finch, the majority of these fellows are all in that group I sent you last May so I thought it would interest you if I mentioned them. We were kept fairly busy for the two days, plenty of local cases as Fritz was often shelling in our vicinity, Pte. Shearer, Royal & Tickle passed through wounded.

24th October 17.
Our turn to shift to one of the far posts so we get a move on at 7 a.m. & reported at our destination about half an hour later, another pil ox this time. The mud was frightful, there has been plenty of rain lately, the conditions in the front Line must be awful, it is bad enough in the back area where roads are constructed & generally shelter can be found from the weather, but in the front line there can be found from the weather, but in the front line there is no shelter, the infantry deserve all the praise & honour, including the regimental bearers, in this struggle, they certainly have the worst cop. We spent a most uncomfortable night, the eight of us cramped up in this small Pill Box, we could not even lie down, but its no use growling, there are scores of chaps who have no shelter at all so we should consider ourselves lucky. I believe a welcome back for the bearers is being arranged at headquarters so surely this must be our last time in the line. Another casualty amongst the 8th, Pte. Eldon, but fortunately not serious. A beautiful moonlight night which means of course plenty of Fritz’s planes about, getting ranges & causing trouble etc etc. Shelling rather severe & we were kept fairly busy during the night, towards morning we were able to snatch a little sleep. The next post to which we carried was having a very lively time, in fact is was two lively for me, every time I arrived there with a stretcher case I did not loiter about, but did a gay for our Pill Box. An infantry squad helping at this Post, had suffered, one

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killed & two wounded. At 8 o’clock we were relieved but unfortunately a stretcher case came along, & as my squad was next for duty we were obliged to carry the case along to the next post. On arriving there we found that another man of the 8th had been seriously wounded, Joe Connell (you have his photo). A rush of cases were passing through his post so that meant to carry our patient to the next post. & even here we had to continue on with our patient, so you can imagine what a long carry it was & plenty of gifts from Fritz were dropping about also. On arriving at the Dressing Station we were all dismayed to know that Major Mackenzie & Pte. Tydsley had been wounded & that Joe Connell was dying. Joe was an old cobber of mine, we were in the same tent together at Queens Park, it made me feel a little queer for a while. The bearers made their way to those famous dugouts which I have mentioned so often, here we will stop till the morrow & then "home sweet home again". We would have all liked to have cleared out today but our luck was out. About 1 o’clock, I had a lift in a lorry to a fair sized town, here I obtained a shave, haircut, shampoo & a hot bath, so you can guess how I felt – a new man. After enjoying a glorious meal – fried steak, eggs & green peas I returned to the dungeon (a really good name for our diggings) In the morning another sad event occurred, a few of our bearers went for a bath situated about ¾ of a mile from our quarters, an unlucky shell landed there, Frank Moore was killed, Ptes Roberts & Pither were wounded. The latter have joined the Unit, fortunately they were only slightly wounded. Oh, if we had only returned to our Unit yesterday this would not have happened. At 1 o’clock the glorious news came through that the lorries were at hand to take the men back to the Unit so it did not take us long to clear out. Arrived back home again at 2 o’clock just in time for Joe’s funeral. I received a great surprise on being told that I had been awarded the Military Medal, my name was included in a list of 13, I am indeed very lucky. Whatever I was recommended for is more than I can say. The following are the Military Medal awards – Sgt. Matheson, L.Corpl. McCallum, L Cpl. Berry, L.Cpl. Hunt, L.Cpl. Powell, Ptes. Miller, Ridgway, Wiggins, Hippesley, Watts, Calf, Atherton & myself. Why I was awarded, is more than I can say.

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In the evening I attended a Pierrot show which was most enjoyable, all the artists were professional, it was a treat to hear some music.

29th October 17. 30th October 17.
Winter has started again in earnest, cold & bleak, a great country I don’t think. In the evening I attended Church, the following day another 18 letters arrived, the answering job was a contract but I eventually got it done, over 30 letters to answer, surely you sympathise with me. Visited a small town in the afternoon to see Stan. Hedger, spent the afternoon with him & a good old yarn we had too. He looks the picture of health, he told me that I looked likewise. In the evening a small party of bearers attended the show & spent a very pleasant evening. I was surprised to see Bub Brown in our Rest Camp, he certainly looks as if he wants a rest. On returning to our billet I was informed that I was attached to the Orderly Room, a fine job, it will do me.

31st October 17.
Dinner given to the bearers, very enjoyable believe me. In the evening the Night Birds gave a concert which was well appreciated. My worthy cobber’s voice was in good trim as usual. The O.C. made a pleasant speech to the bearers. You will not find many Units who have pleasant times like these.
Les Hall & Broadbent (Arthur Broadbent’s cousin) called to see me today, I am continually meeting fellows from Mosman I know, the world is a small place after all. The former has just returned from Blighty, his second leave. Our second leave should start very shortly. I have now to report that the job of answering 30 letters is completed. Five times I attended that Pierrot show during the week, it helps to break the monotony. I forgot to mention that I noticed Bob Bull’s grave whilst attending the funeral the other day. He was an old school chum of mine. Mr Cousins knows him well. (you might tell him please.)

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9th November 1917.
Our second anniversary of our leaving Australia.
[Then follows a whole section on this page which has been deleted]
L.W. Colley-Priest

[The following menu is from the typed transcript:
31st October 1917.



(De legs in the air)
Roast Mutton
Roast Potatoes
Green Peas
(By Kitston & Daunt late of Sergeants)
Custard & Fruit
(By the navie, Brick Mason)
Blanc Mange & Jelly
(By the Black Hand Gang)
Pears, smokes, beer & matches if you are lucky.
Best blend of tea as usual.]
[There is no text between pgs. 214 and 218]

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Part X – 9th. November, 1917 to 24th. February, 1918. Orderly Room Clerk: Leave to Paris:

Dear Mother & Father,
Now that you had received my cable to the effect that I had been on leave to Paris, you are probably on the look out, for the account of the trip. Yesterday we arrived back to our Unit, after having spent a most interesting & enjoyable 4 days. It was very fine living in comfort once again, & believe me it is hard to return to this military life again. Paris is really a wonderful city, it contains a mass of magnificent buildings, well, words fail to describe the splendour of it. The tram service is good, also the underground railways. The latter I consider superior to those of London.
The streets are well planned out, very clean, & the majority are very wide. The Boulevard is indeed a most beautiful sight. It is far more wonderful than Princes Street Edinburgh. Fine rows of trees line each side of the street, which gives a pretty effect to the busy scene. Unfortunately at this time of the year, the trees are not in full bloom, the scene must be very picturesque during the summer months. It is hard to realize in this city, that not many miles away, the Frenchmen are fighting for their beloved country. The streets are thronged with people, & the cafes are a scene of gaiety. I believe that the majority of the people dine at the cafes regularly, very few have their meals at this own home. I like the French way of eating, our lunch & dinner generally consisted of about 9 courses, & the different dishes are very daily served up. After living on Army rations for so long, we enjoyed to the full these new luxuries. Of course we must sample snails, & they were to

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our satisfaction, in fact we were often disappointed when we found that they were not included in the menu. The French people after indulging in two good solid meals a day, does not require much breakfast. At the hotel where we put up, a cup of cocoa & a small roll of bread was sent up to our room each day at 7 a.m. I rather like the idea. We naturally did not waste much time over our breakfast, so always got an early move on, to tour the sights of Gay Paree. Naturally we could not spare too much time at the number of famous places we visited as 4 days soon pass, however we did very well, as you will see later on. I am gproceeding too far ahead with this account, so will start from the day the three of us left our Unit for our short holiday.

Our happy little party left the Main Dressing Station at 6 a.m. by motor ambulance for ------ catching a train there at 8.10 p.m. for Calais. The weather was exceptionally cold, it was the coldest morning we have experienced this winder. Boarded the Paris Express at Calais at noon. The scenery from the train was very fine. At Boulogne we had dinner in the dining car, after living on army rations for so long, you can bet that we enjoyed the meal. At Estaples we returned to our car. Arrived at Gar du Nord (railway station) Paris at 9 p.m. The journey took 12 hours a very tiring journey. Our passes were examined & checked at A.P.M. office, St Honore. A good meal was then partaken of at the Y.M.C .A. which was run by Canadians. Canadian girls waited on us, the tucker was very cheap, only 2 francs, Put up at an hotel for the night close by the Y.M.C.A. & believe me, it was very comfortable sleeping in a clean white bed again.

On the following morning we changed our diggings & put up at the Hotel Nouvel, Rue La Fayette. Our rooms were very comfortable & beautifully furnished. Getting an early start on we began our tour of the city. Visited

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the Coiffeur (Barbers) then strolled down Les Grand Boulevard. The most beautiful street in Paris. It is said to be finest street in Europe. One would not think that the country was at war, the place was thronged with people & alive with taxies, the latter go along at "break neck speed" it was a wonder to me that accidents did not occur. The finest jewel of the Boulevard is the Opera Place, through which it goes. The Opera House is a magnificent building, & after the Louvre is the finest city monument in Paris. The architecture of the place is marvellous, the carvings & statues are very fine. We booked seats here for the Saturday’s night performance Samson & Delilia. This Opera House is the most famous in the World. We then visited a number of café’s, just for a little appetiser, passing La Madeleine on the way, till we arrived at the Place de la Concorda. The former is a famous church, the foundation stone of which was laid by Louis XV. in 1764, the building was eventually opened in 1842. It is entirely surrounded by pillars 45 feet high. On looking at these old & beautiful buildings one cannot help thinking how well Art was advanced during those days. The Place de la Concorde is the most beautiful public place in Paris (& I believe in the whole world). In the middle stands a huge monument named Luksor Obelish two gigantic fountains & eight statues representing the chief cities of France, this complete the structure of this unique place, the sight of which leaves a great impression. The statue representing Lille & Strassburg are draped in black. The latter was captured in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. We then took a taxi & span along the Champs Elysses to Arch de Triomphe & returned via Petit Palais, & the Grand Palais. The Avenue des Champs Elysses, resembles Rotton Row in Hyde Park, it runs through the Garden’s of the Tuileries. The end of which is the Triumphal Arch. It was begun in 1806 it is 135 feet high & 132 feet in breadth. The carvings & sculptures are wonderful to behold.

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The Petit Palais or Little Palace is also another wonderful piece of architecture. On the right & left side of the frontal are two statues symbolising the Ocean & the Mediterranean. The grant Palace of Fine Arts is a fine structure also. On either side stretches a colonnade with 14 columns, making a long gallery, the carvings in the roof, well, words cannot describe the wonderful work. We visited the Chamber of Deputies & the famous Louvre Palace. A tremendous building is this Palace, it is 220 yards long, along the interior front runs a long set of arcades surmounted with terraces on which figures are carved. It is no wonder the people revolted at the time of the French revolution when the Kings & Princes lived in places like these. We left the taxi at Place de la Opera, & visited the Photographers & lunched at the café de la Negre. The latter was recommended by some other chaps who have been on leave, & a very good restaurant it was to, also a reasonable price. We were indeed very fortunate as we met an Englishman there a Mr Williams, who helped us considerable with the menu (you will find his autograph on the men which I have sent you). The meal was most enjoyable, we did as the French do made a sort of functions of the delightful repast, & went right through the menu. We certainly took our time an hour & three quarters at dinner. Returned to the hotel shortly after dinner then on to the Hotel Des Invalides. Another wonderful place teeming with war trophies of many varieties. It is really a Museum, we was a great number of German Guns & war material captured during this War, also the Zeplin L.49, that was brought down on the outskirts of Paris in 1914. One of Guynemars planes which was draped in black, & covered with wreaths was on view. Guynemars was a famous French Airman, who I believe brought down over 50 German Planes. Other trophies were seen, but they are too numerous to mention. The hour we spent here was rather an interesting one. In another part of the building is situated the tomb of Napoleon, a really marvellous

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piece of structure. It lies under a dome in an open crypt, a rather bewildering spectacle. The windows in the dome are of pale blue, & the shaded light gives rather an inspiring effect. Whilst Napoleon was in his place of exile, St Helena, he write the following – I wish that my mortal remains may rest on the banks of the Seine, in the middle of the nation that I loved so much. Hence on December 15th 1840, the coffin of Napoleon was brought from St Helena & laid in the chapel under the dome of the Invalides. The Tomb of Napoleon is made of red granite, brought from Finland, all around the Tomb are statues of angels. The chapel is a very old building built during the time of Louis XIV. , 1671-1674. From here we had a pleasant walk to the famous Effil Tower, the wonderful steel structure, & an outstanding feature of Paris. It is the highest monument in the World. The work was begun on January 28th 1887 & required a little more than two years to complete. The weight of this huge structure is 15 million lbs. Just a little distance away was the Trocadero, so we paid a visit here. This building is an imposing sight, the feast hall can hold 5000 people. We then caught the tram back to town & dine at the Café Negre. These French dinners are very tasty & very nicely served up. In the evening we went to the Follies Berghere, perhaps the best known of Paris music halls. The gay Parisian was there in full force. The promenading during the show, seemed strange to us, the actual show was good, one or two turns being in English, returned to the hotel about 11 p.m. It was indeed a most interesting day, & we had seen some of the most famous sights of the World.

The next day, we made another early start on our sight seeing tour, & proceed by Underground Railway to Palais Royal & then by tram to Versailles to view the famous Palace there. The trip in the tram took nearly two hours, but it was really worth the trip, as the Palace of

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Versailles is a wonderful place. We walked round a portion of the place & admired the buildings & its environments. On entering the court yard we could not help admiring the fine statues that surround the grounds. In the middle of the court yard stands the statue of King Louis XIV, from here we obtained a fine view of the whole Palace. At time was short we did not venture indoors, but strolled round the marvellous place admiring the fine sculpturing that adorn the walls. On approaching the front of the building we were amazed at the beautiful scenery. A beautiful garden with fountains & fine statues dotted here & there, I am sure it must have been a mile in length, here once again, words fail me to describe the scene. Strolling round another portion we looked through the fine arched windows of the Palace, & almost every room we saw contained beautiful painting, & the furniture was grand.
Louis XIV was evidently in love with himself, as we saw a great number of paintings of this famous King. Just before entering the court yard again, we came across a portion of the building which was badly battered about. It was here that the infuriated mob attacked the Palace in 1774, at the time of the French Revolution, it was from here that Marie-Antoinette was taken to the Bastille to her death. One could spend a whole day here exploring this old historic place, but four days holiday soon pass, & we reluctantly left the place for the tram, arriving at our Café about 1.30 p.m. All the writing & books in the world cannot describe the beauty & splendour of Versailles Palace even a hurried visit like we had is not enough to obtain an idea of it. We only say a very minute-portion of the building. Why the grounds alone are much bigger than the Botanical Gardens, Sydney, even bigger than Hyde Park London.

The dinner at the Café was must enjoyable, included in our Menu, were Snails, Mussels, & Brussels Sprouts, dainty dishes, I can assure you. In the afternoon, Eric & I set forth to find Ruelle, we travelled from one side

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of Paris to the other by Taxi, & found that our esteemed driver had taken us to Ruiel, so of course as the time was getting on, we were obliged to give up the search. However we obtained a good view of the city in our little spin, passing Notre Dame, Hotel de Ville, & Place Vendome en route. The former is the famous Cathedral of Paris, the first foundation was laid in 1163 & the wonderful histories structure was completed in the year 1235. It is said to be one of the most beautiful & largest Cathedrals in the world. Napoleon was crowned here in 1804. I believe that in 1690, it was entirely covered in flags taken at the battle of Fleurus. You can imagine by the above little quotations that I have copied out, that I must be a very interesting exploring these famous historic buildings. The Hotel de Ville or City Hall, is another marvellous piece of architecture. A great number of statues adorn the different fronts of the building, giving a pleasing effect. The Palace Vendome is another of Paris’s fine squares, in the centre of which stands a huge monument, the statue of Napoleon crowns it. On looking round at these beautiful structures one must admire the French for their love of Art. The city of Paris shows it to perfection, it almost makes one feel that we are slightly backwards in the present century in regards Art etc.

We then strolled round the city & purchased a few souvenirs, walking in & out of the different shops & cafes, is really a very pleasant way to spend a jolly hour or so. The French are great people for their café’s, every one that I visited was thronged, a merry sight, after coming from the war zone it was must enjoyable "believe me". One would not think that not very many miles away a terrific struggle is proceeding. Perhaps in a way, it is good to see the city in such a state of jollity, it certainly take your mind off the war. At 4 o’clock the city is a mass of light. It is well named when called "Gay Parie". It is some place - believe me. For tea we tried the

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famous snails again, the evening was spent at the Alhambra Music Hall, an English show, & fine theatre also, containing 5 galleries.

On the 8th inst I did things in style, had breakfast in bed, you can imagine what a luxury this was, after the Military Life. During the morning we visited the Bastille, where once stood the famous prison & execution place, during the French Revolution. Only a monument stands there now, with all the names of those who were guillotined there, when this country was up in revolt. From here we travelled by underground railway to the La Bourse – the Stock Exchange, which we entered, but no business was being done. It is a wonderful building entirely surrounded by pillars. Four statues symbolising Justice, Trade, Agriculture & Manufactures, stand at each corner of the base. We strolled slowly about the main thoroughfares enjoying to the full the busy scene & gaiety of the place. Visited the Café Universal for dinner, our English friend accompanied us. It was a splendid meal, about 9 courses, including snails. (I have sent you the menu enclosed, with the views of Paris). The afternoon was well advanced before we left the Café, then we strolled along the beautiful Boulevards to Place de la Republic & the magnificent Statue of Liberty, passed the Arch of St Denis, streets simply thronged with people. Had an early tea at our Hotel & then to the Opera – Samson & Delilia. Since booking the seats, I have been looking forward to this performance, I was certainly not disappointed, in fact, it exceeded all expectations, I was almost carried away with the glorious music. The Orchestra 150 all told, was the finest I have heard & also was the Chorus. The Leading Artists voices – well, I cannot describe how wonderful they were, it was absolutely divine. Mme. Courso who takes the part of Delila, possessed a fine contralto voice, her rendering of that famous song – Softly awakes my heart – (In French of course) during the 2nd Act to

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Samson, was absolutely superb. M. Darmel, who takes the part of Samson, possessed a fine Tenor Voice. At the end of the opera Mlle. Aida Boni one of Frances most famous dancers gave her wonderful ballet scene, & a wonderful performance it was too. The Opera House is the most famous in the World, there are five galleries, & all except the top one contains boxes or lodges, holding six seats. we had very good seats & once again we were lucky, an Englishman was in the same lodge as ourselves so of course he helped us along & explained different items. The dome of the theatre was gorgeous, one mass of lights. Between the acts, the people stroll along the beautiful foyer or promenade one would think that he was in a palace, not a theatre. The show ended about 11.30, starting at 7.30, so we had a most enjoyable evening. The performance will always remain in my memory.

On Sunday the 9th December our last day of leave, we stayed at the hotel all the morning, & enjoyed living in comfort. At it was raining slightly, I made my way to the writing room & stayed there, till it was time to visit our old haunt Café de la Negre & enjoyed another sumptuous meal. In the afternoon we went for another stroll along the banks of the Seine. This river runs through the city, whose green waters flow between the wharves & beneath the arches of seven bridges. Le Pont Alexandre or Alexander Bridge, is said to be the most beautiful bridge in Paris. Four magnificent statues adorn each corner mounted in bronze. From here we took a taxi to Luna Park, pleasure grounds, & skating rink. A huge crowd was present, & a great number of Australians & American soldiers I noticed in the skating rink. Then back to our Café at 6 oclock, to have our last meal there, & we enjoyed it, I can assure you. After tea we strolled into a number of Cafes, & had the time of our lives "believe me". Return to Hotel, at an early hour, & made our way to the Drawing Room, as some very nice French People were there

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who were very musical, & a pleasant evening was spent. Rise early the following morning & leave the Hotel at 8 a.m. by taxi to Gare-du-Nord, leaving by 9.10 a.m. Calais Express. We were very downhearted having to bid Paris Good Bye - but, all good things come to an end. In fact we were exceptionally lucky, as on returning to the Unit, I found that Paris Leave had been cut out, & for an indefinite period. At Etaples to Boulogne we dined in the dining car, arriving at Calais at 5 p.m. We then had a good tea at a restaurant near station & leave at 6.40 p.m. train for --------, arriving there at 9 p.m. Stopped at Hotel for the night, & left by lorry at 9 a.m. the following morning, arriving with our Unit again at 2 oclock in the afternoon. It was certainly a most interesting & enjoyable trip - I enjoyed every hour of it - but it was hard, returning to camp once again. However our hearts were gladdened by the news, that in a few days time, we will be leaving the Line, for a long rest, & some good times are in store for us. P.T.O.

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I think it would be rather a good plan to call this the 10th Part of my Diary, so will just give a brief account of my doings, since the 8th November last, the date on which the 9th Edition, ended, if I remember rightly.

9th November 1917
Our 2nd Anniversary of our leaving Australia. That ever eventful morning in Sydney Harbour, is always fresh in my memory. It was intended to hold a celebration, on this day, but owing to unexpected morning orders, it will have to be postponed. There are not very many of the original men in the Unit now. The next two days, every body was busily packing up, & on the 11th inst., B Section make their departure, for our new destination, acting as an Advance Party.

14th November 1917. etc etc.
The remainder of the Unit leave the Rest Station at 10 a.m., & march to the new [indecipherable] to which we are ordered. Arrive there about 2.30 p.m., it was rather a delightful march, as our packs & blankets were carried for us. Our new qrtrs are very comfortable, in fact its a home, it would do me for duration. As we marched away from the Rest Station, I could not help thinking of the fellows, who we left behind, never to be seen again on the earth, they had made the supreme sacrifice. Our Bearers are already in the Line, & for the first time since being in the Unit, I did not accompany them, - am on duty in the Orderly Room.

The Bearers are having a very quiet time, we have now been

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here for a week, & scarcely over a dozen patients have passed through our Main Dressing Station. It is certainly a great relief, after our trying times on the last Front. I have sent out, to a number of my pals in the Bearers, reading & writing material, so that just proves to you, how quiet it must be here. It reminds me of the three weeks I spent in Foray House Dugout, in July & August of last year. All the week our guns have been going their hardest, in fact its one continuous roar I would not care to be on Fritz’s side of the Line, it must be hellish. The War news lately is very encouraging indeed – The German Press is warning the Public not to be alarmed if their gallant troops retire, to near the Rhine which means evacuate Belgium, to still have faith in their Leaders etc. Belgium Factories are being pulled down, & furnaces are being destroyed.

The Italians have at last made a stand & captured a considerable number of prisoners. The Flanders fighting is still in our favour & the Allied Troops are having great victories in Palestine.

The weather lately, has been very mild, quite pleasant in fact, why this time last year the weather was very severe, plenty of snow & ice. The outlook certainly, looks promising - it is to be hoped, that this wretched war will soon be over. I believe that we will be here for 4 weeks & then we go right back away from the Straffing, till after Christmas. On the 27th November, great war news came to hand, the British Troops, have made a big advance near Cambrai, many thousand German Prisoners were captured, also a great quantity of War material, including 100 guns. The impregnable Hindenburg

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Line was broken. The news certainly cheered me up. The Bearers are all doing well, & having a quiet time.

Each member of our Unit, has been given a circular re – the Referendum Question. The arguments for & against are very good, I was inclining towards voting no, but just before Polling Day, I was convinced that I was wrong & voted in the affirmative. On the 28th inst. I went for a spin in Esbert’s Smith car, to a small village, & enjoyed a fine meal there. These little trips are very enjoyable & helps to break the monotony. We travelled down the road, that I walked along 15 months ago.

On the 29th November, Eric & I were surprised to see our worthy cobber, Oscar, walk into the Orderly Room. I was naturally very pleased to see him, as it was over two years since I saw him last. He is looking remarkably well, military life agrees with him evidently. Today I applied for special Leave to Paris, & on the 4th December, to my great surprise & pleasure, the application returned, recommended & with the pass attached. Eric & Esbert are accompanying me, to the gay city. Naturally we are in an ecstacy of delight as on the morrow we start on our journey. (The follow on with the letter).

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Diary 10th Part.

9th November 1917 to 24th Febry. 1918.

I believe the 9th Part ended about the 8th November as the Ambulance had received unexpected moving orders, so naturally there was very little time for writing so will continue on from that date.

9th November 1917. Our 2nd Anniversary of our leaving Australia. That eventful morning when we embarked on board the "Beltana" & sailed through Sydney Heads, is ever fresh in my memory. When I see the "old" Port Jackson again I will not be responsible for my actions, I can assure you. It was intended to hold a celebration on this day, but owing to unexpected moving orders it will have to be postponed. What a great change has come over the Unit during the last two years: a great number of the old faces are not to be seen. It seems hard to realize that it is two years since our departure from home, but all we can do is to hope & pray that in the near future that once again we will return to that wonderful & of "sunshine & wattle". In the evening a small party of us attended a concert given at a Casualty Clearing Station nearby. The show was a good one. The Maple Leaves they called themselves & the chap who took the part of a

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girl was splendid In fact I have never seen a better take off before. On the 11th of November we actually started to shift. B. Section moving off in the early morning & act as an advance party. The following day the bearers start off at an early hour for this new destination. This will be the first time since being in the Unit that I have missed being in the Bearers.

14th November 1917.
The remainder of the Unit leave this Divisional Rest Station at 10 a.m. & march to our new destination. The march was not at all bad as our packs were carried for us. Arrived at our destination about 2:30 p.m. The Main Dressing Station in which we will take over for the next month is a home: it will do me for duration. My billet is very comfortable & my job in the Orderly Room will certainly do me.

The bearers are having an exceptionally quiet time inn the line & after being in the line a week they kept continually asking for writing paper & reading matter, so you can guess that it is exceptionally quiet where we are at present. For the last week our guns have been going their hardest, in fact it has been one

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continuous roar – it must be very unhealthy on Fritz’s side of line.

The War news lately is very encouraging indeed. The German Press, is warning the public not to be alarmed if their gallant troops retire nearer the Rhine, which really means evacuate Belgium, to still have faith in their leaders etc. etc. Belgium Factories are being pulled down & furnaces are being destroyed.

The Italians have at last made a stand & captured a considerable number of prisoners. The Flanders fighting is still in progress & the British troops are having great victories in Palestine.

The weather lately has been very mild, quite pleasant - why, this time last year the weather was most severe, plenty of snow & ice. The news certainly looks promising, it is to be hoped, that this kind of news continues & that the near future will see the end of this terrible war. Rumours about that our Unit will be here for a month or more & then we go right out till after Christmas. Our hearts are gladdened by this prospect.

More encouraging news to hand on the 27th inst., the British troops have made a big advance near Cambrai,

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many thousand prisoners & a great quantity of war gear was captured. The impregnable Hineburg line was broken, the news cheered everybody up considerably. Still the good weather continues, it has been quite mild lately, a great difference to this time last year when we were in the line amidst the snow & ice. The Unit is still on this quiet front, the place is a home & very comfortable. Al the bearers are doing well & in good health. I have been sending out to them all the reading matter & cigarettes that I can lay hands on lately & believe me it was appreciated. Quite a big mail has arrived for me from the trenches thanking me for the articles etc. & as no Australia mail had arrived lately, it was pleasant to receive letters of some description.

Each member of our Unit has been given a circular re - the Referendum Question. The arguments for & against are very good. I will vote in the negative as I did before. This statement will probably surprise you all but I have my own ideas on the question & every man is allowed to have his own opinion. It would be impossible to state my reasons here, it would not be allowed. You will be

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convinced when I return why I intend to vote this way. But of course I don’t agree with such scoundrels as the I.W.W. & their dirty & underhand actions.

On the 25th November I had a trip to S ---- in Esbert Smith’s car, & we spun along the road that I walked along 15 months ago, just before the Unit moved down to the Somme district. A good tea was obtained at S ----, grilled steak, eggs & chips, quite a change from Army tucker.

29th November 1918. [This should be "1917"]
Today I received a great surprise to see Oscar walk into the Orderly Room. He looked in tip-top health & is till a great character as ever. I was naturally very glad to see him, as it was over two years since I saw him last. You can bet we had a good old yarn & our conversation kept continually turning to you, he was also much amused at ours truly smoking a pipe.

The same routine goes on each day so will not comment on them. On the 4th December I received another pleasant surprise, my leave pass for Paris came to hand. About a week ago I applied for special leave to that wonderful city, just on spec. & I never thought that it would be granted so easily. The Orderly Room staff, thought that I had gone mad, as I was dancing about for about half an hour, when,

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the glorious new came to hand. Eric & Esbert Smith are accompanying me & we will leave our Unit on the 5th inst. A couple of hours after the pass arriving, my money arrived from Mr. Hooper – "so everything in the garden is lovely". Who would have thought whilst in camp at Liverpool, that one day I should visit Paris.

It will be unnecessary for me to give of the Paris trip, as you already have it. (If not ask my people for a copy) Needless to say we had a glorious & wonderful time & we visited some of the most famous places in the World.. Unfortunately the time went too quickly & we returned to our Unit on the 10th inst. Back to this military life again & we found it very hard to settle down again to the old routine.

News to hand of the fall of Jerusalem, the British are doing well in Palestine, the news cheered the boys up. Rumours flying about, that very shortly the Unit would be make a move.

On the 15th December portion of the relieving Ambulance were billeted at our Dressing Station. Met an old friend of mine from Hooper & Harrison, who is in the other Ambulance - Harry White. Every one in our Unit is glad, that we are to make a move at last, it was becoming very monotonous here, & especially for the

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Bearers who have been in the line all the while. Once again we leave the line without one casualty.

December 17th 1917.
Unit move off at 9:30 a.m. & march about a mile to the railway siding. As usual the train was late & we were obliged to wait over three hours before we entrained. Even then it was close on an hour before the train actually started to move. It was a most miserable trip, the train simply crawled along & everybody jolly near perished with the cold. Of course travelling 3rd class is delightful during such weather. At 2 a.m. the following day we arrived at ----- & after waiting on the station for about an hour (which was very pleasing this weather) we started off for our Village which I believe was about 3 ½ miles away. It was most difficult walking along the frozen road, every now & again some one would topple over: I came a cropper on several occasions. Our first glimpse of our village did not give us a good impression of our home, a hot drink was available on arriving at our destination, then all turned in, dog tired & cold.

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December 18th 1918 to December 23rd 1918. [Again this should be "1917"]
The village is certainly a "dead & alive" place – contains a Church & can boast of a couple of Estaminets. We were all disappointed at coming to a place, like this, & the Unit is distributed all over the village. The Orderly Room is very comfortable, is in a two roomed cottage & contains, a big open fire place, in which we had some roaring fires at times.

After being here a few days we liked the place much better & the French inhabitants are a most obliging folk. In fact we have never been treated so well before by the French, quite a different class of people to those of the Somme district.

The weather has been exceptionally cold lately, frosty weather has set in, the snow has been lying on the ground, for over a week. Now & again a little snow balling took place, which is great sport.

Christmas Eve. 1917.
It is hard to realize, that my third Christmas away from Australia is at hand. The village was "scoured" & scores of ducks, geese, & fowls, were purchased for Christmas Dinner. Three marquees have been erected so some good times are in store for the Unit.

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Christmas Day 1917.
Christmas Service, held in marque, rather enjoyable & impressive, I played the piano for the service. The dinner was a great success, plenty of poultry, vegetables & plum pudding etc. The Sergeants acted as waiters & plenty of good hearted chaff took place. Still I could not help noticing the slight depression of all, the fact is only too true – everybody is sick & tired of the war & we have been altogether too, long away from our homes. However we must look we must look on the bright side of things & "keep smiling". In the evening a concert was held which was much appreciated by all present but it was jolly cold sitting in a tent this weather.

For the third time, since leaving Australia our cheery Christmas season is with us, & though the world is in great trouble & sorrow we shall forget our troubles & celebrate the occasion with all the old cheerfulness & as many of the old rites as our circumstances permitted, in this small village, in which we are billeted. We drank to success in the New Year, and a speedy return to our friends & fair ones in that wonderful land of sunshine & wattle. For a while we forget, the grim duty which called us away from home & enjoyed ourselves. Of course our thoughts turned to our loved ones, during the festive season.

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If an Australian mail, had arrived the spirits of the troops would have been much better, as it is over 5 weeks since we were greeted with a mail.

Between Christmas & New Year we practically had a holiday. On New Year’s Day the weather was exceptionally cold but the night birds gave a performance in the evening which helped to cheer the boys up considerably. This was their anniversary performance.

During the last week I have been for quite a number of walks, rather a pleasant past time & it’s the only thing to do as the weather is so cold. It is rather peculiar to visit a village were by few Australians have been before, the inhabitants are very obliging.

Nothing of any startling nature occurred till Sunday January 6th. As you know this day was set apart for a special prayer for peace. A special service was held this morning which was most impressive. In the evening another service was held, I was highly honoured as I played for these services. It is hard to realize that six days of the new year has gone already, may the year in which we have entered see the end of this fearful struggle & peaceful & prosperous days come once again. My our loved ones in dear old "Ausy" have the joy of giving us ere this year has run out a welcome home.

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Most of us had hoped that the year just ended would have seen the war ended, but alas that hope has not been realized. We hope & pray that before the next winter has come round the guns shall have fired their last volley & the din of war shall have given away to an ever lasting peace.

On the 7th of January a combined football team picked from the three Ambulances of our Division played against the Engineers. It was a splendid game, the A.M.C., won easily, 7 of our Unit, are in the team, we are some Unit you know. A few days later, the A.M.C. played against the Pioneers, & won easily again. It looks as if our team will win the cup. After the match I went along to S---- to a smoke concert, & very enjoyable it was too. Eric’s contributions, as usual were well received.
A Literary & Debating Society has been formed in the Unit & many a pleasant night I have spent at these meetings. I think it is a splendid idea, it certainly occupies our minds & helps to break the monotony of this life. As we have a great number of learned men in our Unit the Society should be a success. I find myself looked forward to these meeting at really this is a most monotonous life. On the 15th inst. a couple of our Sergeants gave us a lecture on Ireland, & the railways of Australia & very interesting subjects there were too.

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Monday 21st January 1918.
Today was chosen for the Presentation of ribbons & medals etc. The Military Medalists of our Unit were conveyed to the Parade ground in an Ambulance wagon, the site chosen for the event was about 4 miles distant from our village. On arriving there we found our Brigade formed up in a hollow square. Our small party joined up with another lost of recipients numbering about 25 altogether & we were formed up in the centre of the square. Rather a conspicuous position I was not much taken with the idea. Shortly after taking up our position General Birdwood, the G.O.C. the Divison, & the Brigadier arrived, the General Salute was given, the present arms of the Infantry was a picture to watch. An inspection was then made of the Brigade, the band playing meanwhile.

Now arrives the moment that I dreaded the Presentation of Ribbons etc. Five officers were called for first to receive their D.S.O. or Military Crosses, or what ever it may be. I was quick to note how the Officers approached General Birdwood as very shortly my turn arrived. However I managed to scrape through the Ordeal in a satisfactory manner. The General spoke to each recipient & gave each one a hearty handshake. After the presentation he made a good speech, telling of the good work of the Australians etc. etc. Our hearts were gladdened when he told us that when the Division moved, it

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would be to a quiet portion of the line. On completion of his speech the parade were dismissed & a big football match was held between our Brigade & the Artillery. The match was very exciting at times. Fortunately I did not have to walk back to our village, managed to obtain a lift in an ambulance car.

Nothing of any startling nature to report during the week, just the same routine each day, a short route march every morning, just for a little exercise. On Friday evening the 25th inst. a lecture was given by Captain Robinson on the Present position of the War. It was indeed a brilliant & most interesting lecture & I obtained a far deeper knowledge of this World wide calamity.

This day was also chosen for the Final of the football competition. I walked thirteen kilos to see this game & well worth the walk it was too. It was a great battle, the A.M.C. won the match, so of course won the cup. The cheering at the end of the match was deafening, it may interest you to know the Bilgie May is a member of our team.

Before I go any further I must state a few lines about the weather. For the last fortnight it has been absolutely perfect, & one of us can growl at it. It has resembled the climate of our "sunny homeland", this will probably be hard for you to believe, but is the gospel truth.

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Why, this time last year the weather was almost unbearable. I quite agree with the French when they say that last winter was the worst for 40 years. If this present season is their usual winter well its not so bad after all. Of course being in the line for so long last year we would feel the cold weather much more than when resting.

Yesterday evening Fritz was evidently on a bombing raid as a great booming of guns was heart. It was a great night for an air raid, beautifully clear & moonlight. I could not help thinking of the helpless women & children that may have been killed during the raid. Luckily the raid was miles away from our village. On the 27th inst. I had leave for the day so visited a fair sized town which is only about 5 miles away from our billet & had an enjoyable time. (Purchased a few souvenirs, which I have sent home)

28th January 1918.
Moving orders to hand again, our Transport moved off at 7 a.m. they will be about 3 days on the road. Since the inhabitants of the small village knew that the Amb. would shortly be moving they could not do enough for us. We have never been greeted with such kindness in France before. On the 30th inst. the day we left the village, some of the

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inhabitants, were exceptionally good to the men. One billet containing over 30 men were each given a cup of hot milk or coffee by the old madam of the house just before leaving. Considering the early hour which we left the place, 3 a.m. it was really a kind action. In fact it was a common occurrence all over the village, some of the old dames had a weep as we bid them Au revoir.

30th January 1918.
Reveille at the early hour of 2 a.m. breakfast 2:30 a.m., fall in at 3:15 & move off at 3:30 a.m. for --------- Railway station about 5 miles away. As it was moonlight the march was rather pleasant. Arrived at the station about 4:45 a.m. & we were obliged to wait till 11 o’clock before we entrained. Along the road our kettledrumer was going his hardest, it brought back recollections of those marches at Queens Park 29 long months ago. The trip in the train was rather pleasant as the weather has been very fine lately & the country was beginning to look well. About 5 p.m. we passed through a fair sized town which I noticed was considerably knocked about since I saw it last, 15 months ago. Dis-entrained about 6 o’clock & marched to ----, our destination which turned out to be a big divisional Rest Station. It did not take the chaps long to turn in, as all were fairly tired after the long day.

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31st January 1918. The Rest Station which our Unit has taken over is very comfortable, contains a dining hall, concert hall & hot baths, so this place will certainly do me for duration. We are billetted in a convent, so naturally our quarters are fairly comfortable. Heard that in Australian Pierrott Troops was showing not far away so of course paid a visit in the evening. The concert was a splendid one, I enjoyed it so much that I attended four shows this last week. George Castles (amy Castles brother) is one of the Artists, he possesses a rich tenor voice, his rendering of such songs as ----Absent, Mary & "I hear you calling me" were perfect. Julius Knight’s under-study is also a member of the troupe.

Lately I have been for quite a number of long walks & its not a bad time to pass the time away either.

On the 5th February I attended a concert given by New Zealanders, & a jolly fine show it was too. On the way to the concert I came across Toby Young & McVeigh, both old school mates of mine. We had a good old yarn & we were very much surprised a t meeting each other. On the 6th inst. 7 of us, had a little dinner prepared in one of the rooms of the convent to celebrate the occasion of Bilgie May’s distinction. As you know, he has been awarded the Belgium Croix de Guerre.

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The dinner was a great success, consisting of 7 courses, & very daintily dished up. We obtained a phonograph & had some music whilst we dined. The following were present. Bilgie May, Sid Royal, Tom Ross, Clarry Sullings, W. Bowden, Eric & myself. A select little party!!

The weather lately has been exceptionally fine & pleasant, just like our spring weather in Australia. I forgot to mention that just before leaving for the Rest Station a big Australian mail came to hand. It was very welcome I can assure you, but unfortunately I received bad news --- the passing away of poor little Bene Struck, & our cobber Bill Anderson was a great shock to Eric & myself. The World is absolutely full of sorrow & trouble at present, so we must look upon these sad happenings with a stout heart.

Quite a number of concerts have been given at the rest Station by different parties & very enjoyable they were too. Our Brigade Band is expected here shortly & as it is considered to be one of the very best bands in France.

14th February 1918. A stroke of luck today, happened to meet one of the 9th Fld. Ambulance chaps & to my

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extreme delight discovered that this Ambulance was near by, so of course that evening Eric & I took a stroll over there to see some of our pals. Spent the evening with Roy O’Keefe, Alan Murray & Frank Haines. I was exceptionally pleased to see Roy, it is nearly 2 ½ years since I saw him last. He is still the same "old character" & still a dabster on the piano. Of course one of the first tunes that Rix & I asked him to play was that famous mountain song "Rose of my Heart". Needless to say, my thoughts went back to those good old days we spent at Katoomba. Alan Murray was also looking very well. Just before leaving we partook of a little supper which Frank kindly prepared for us. The walk back to our Rest Station was rather pleasant, the night being fine & moonlight. The distance there & back was over 15 kilos so naturally we slept well that night.

16th February 1918.
Who should call in today but Oscar & Clif James, it is indeed very excellent seeing so many of my old pals again. Both were looking in tip top health, & of course our conversation often turned to you. We were all of the same mind, full up of this Military & longing to return to Australia. No sooner had Oscar left us when another visitor put in an appearance – Harry Block from Melbourne. This was the chap, that

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gave Eric & I such a good time whilst we were camped at Albert Park, Melbourne. This week has been full of surprises. The following day, Arthur Butler, our worthy postman proceeded on leave to England, & I have taken his job on whilst he is away. It is interesting work – every morning I go by motor ambulance to ----- for the mail. My first day on this job was a busy one for me. I brought back a fair sized mail from N.S.W. About 25 letters, greeted me & I got sick & tired of reading about the M.M. Too much fuss was made over the event, you can just put it down to good luck. Tis better to be born lucky than rich. As I have told you all on numerous occasions that its the Infantry who deserve all the praise & honour in this terrible struggle. "I raise my hat to these men every time". The Blighty Leave has suddenly got a spurt on lately & a good number have gone on Leave from our Unit. So don’t be surprised if you hear of me visiting the old country again. Don’t think for one moment, that I am undergoing any hardships lately, for the last three months I have lived fairly comfortable & had an easy time of it. Its the monotony of this life that gets a chap down. Do you wonder at it?.

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24th February 1918.
Well, here we are up to the time of writing, & I am afraid that there is very little more to talk about, so of course will have to bring this edition to a close. Before doing so I would like to comment on a little subject that seems to be worrying a number of my friends in Sydney. During the last six months I have received quite a number of letters stating the writer would very much like to hear of me being promoted in rank etc. etc. I have stated on numerous occasions that I have absolutely no ambition to be promoted in the Army, if I just do my duty & do what I am told to do is enough for me. Censorship rules are very strict lately so will have to leave the rest to your own imagination.

Of course you might say - why don’t you study some subject etc so that when I return I shall be able to continue on, in some occupation". Well, to tell you the truth, I have tried to do this but had to give it up. This life gets a chap down, why, I can’t put my mind on reading a book lately, so studying is out of the question.

The news in the papers lately, is not too bright but we must live in hopes, & pray for Victory for the Allies, & an every lasting Peace. May this year see you all, give me a welcome Home.

[The following is from the typed transcript.


Concert given by members of the 8th Australian Field Ambulance.


1 Overture - The Orchestra
2 When Paderewski Plays - E. Payne
3 Youth - H. Overett
4 Duet - Cosier & Nathers
5 Comic Song - Smale
6 Hawaiian Butterfly - H. Douch
7 Flute Solo - Capt. Earnshaw
8 Laddies who fought & won - W. Orr
9 When you come home - E. Herford
10 Toora Lady - Trousdale
11 Where the Blackeyed Soosans Grow - Lieut. McFadyen
12 Duet (Wellerisms) - Payne & Gamble
13 Song - F Williams
14 Violin Solo - C.A. Bender
15 You’ve go to do it - W. May
16 Down the Vale - N. Coxon
17 Yakka Hula - J.J. Kitson
18 Song - Patterson
19 Sing Sing - W. Gamble
20 Duet - Atherton & May
21 Song - F. Williams
22 Finale - The Orchestra


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Part XI -17th February, 1918, to August, 1918.
Left Unit for second leave to England: Recalled: German Attack: In the Line and rest period.

11th Part.
Over 5 five months has passed since the last Edition of my Diary was completed, & despatched, so once again, I will continue on with this brief account of my doings. This time I will have to be exceptionally careful in what I state as the enemy had started his Offensive early in the year, & the Censors are on the alert. The names of important places, that were visited, during our travels will naturally have to be left out. Some day I hope to be able to tell you all personally, the names of these places of interest. Except for a couple of days my good health stuck to me was all that could be desired so I am indeed very lucky.

The 17th Feb. to the 20th March 1918.
The last account ended I think when I was on the Postmans Job. This was some job, "believe me", being the P.M.G. of the Unit for seventeen days, from the 17th of February to the 4th of March. Each morning I travelled by car to D-----, for the mail, and a short spin in the early morning was very enjoyable & certainly helped to break the monotony of this "military life".

On the 4th March back to the Orderly Room again, & really during the next three weeks there is nothing of any startling nature to report. It is useless writing up each day, the same old routine continues, now & again I attend some show in the vicinity. The "Sentimental Blokes" who are showing at B----, have an exceptionally good turn-out, very often I strolled along to the town have tea there, & visit the show in the evening. Whilst there the over evening I came across Stoddard who used to be employed at Hooper & Harrisons. Lately quite a

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number of old pals have called to see me, amongst whom was Harry Block. I met this chap whilst our Unit was camped in Albert Park Melbourne, & he was largely responsible for me having a good time there. Naturally I was very pleased to see him.

The monotony of this life lately is beyond your conception & it is only the thought that very shortly I will go on leave, that is cheering me up. You can bet that I am looking forward to the trip. The weather during the last month has been delightful so naturally there has been plenty of "stouch". The whistling through the air, & the bursting of German shells in the different villages & towns in our vicinity can be heard quite plainly.

Thursday 21st March 1918.

Hurrah, my Leave pass through at last, I will proceed on my journey on Saturday next the 23rd inst.

A most unusual occurrence to-day, three high explosive shells burst right over the Convent & Rest Station. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but all were a little scared. A piece of one of the shells was picked up in the ground, it measured one yard in length & about 6 inches in thickness. A nice souvenir, "I dont think". At the time I could not understand what Fritz’s intention was --- shelling a Convent & Rest Station, but now I honestly think that it was a warning to get the "Rest" station shifted & all the pupils etc. in the Convent, away to a place of safety.

23rd March 1918.

The small Leave party of five make their departure from the Unit at 1.30 p.m. for the journey to England. This time we will have fourteen days holiday, which is certainly a little

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better than ten. Naturally we were all in ecstasy of delight. On arriving in the vicinity of B----, we found that Fritz was shelling the town rather severely & we were told to report to C---- for the leave train. We then walked about two miles on the outskirts of the town, & then managed to obtained a lift in a lorry to C---- On arriving there we found to our dismay that leave had been cancelled for all troops as Fritz had started his offensive. You can just imagine what disappointing news this was to all. However, we still had the leave passes in our possession & were not going to give in without a "fight". We obtained another lift in a lorry to H---- the next town, & here we found the same unfortunate state of affairs, so of course there was only one thing to do, return to our Unit. We were certainly very unfortunate but not nearly as bad as those chaps who were on board the boat en route for "Blighty" who were brought back to France, & told to report to their Units. Oscar Hann was one of these "unfortunate beggars".

Thursday the 26th March 1918. - 27th & 28th March.

All kinds of wild rumours "flying" around in regards this great attack of Fritz that one hardly knows what to believe. I must admit that I feel very depressed with the news, but it would never do to get in the dumps over it. This life is bad enough without that.

We expected moving orders every since Saturday & to-day they arrived, & at 11.45 a.m. the unit marched to G---- & are billeted in barns for the night. At 12.30 p.m. the following night we entrain (in cattle trucks, & detrain at D----- about 3.30 p.m. of the following day.

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The journey was cold & a miserable one. There were about thirty men to a truck so you can imagine the enormous amount of room we had to move about. Every one was more than pleased when the train journey ended. The place where we detrained was a fair size city & troops could be seen in all directions. Here our packs are placed in a lorry to be carried as we have a long march in front of us. The march was rather a severe one, the distance was 12 ½ kilos., & it absolutely poured in torrents all the time we were on the road. It was close on 6 p.m. when we arrived at our destination which turned out to be a fine chateau. Our cooks had gone on ahead & prepared a hot meal for the Unit, & you can bet that we all did good justice to it. Shortly after tea every one turned in, all were very tired as we had had a fairly heavy day.

Thursday 29th. March, 1918.

I thoroughly enjoyed the sleep & awoke in the morning very much refreshed. Nothing doing during the day, every one having a rest, as any moment we were receiving orders, & probably we will have some stiff marches in front of us.
Who should I meet to-day but Roy Watkins, he was looking very well.

Friday March 30th 1918 - 7th of April.

Moving orders again – fall in at 8 o’clock & march to ---- the next village, only two kilos away. It was certainly a miserable kind of village. The Unit are distributed all over the place, the majority living in barns. The Orderly Room is in an old stable. The mud & slush about the place is awful, so the sooner we leave the "enticing" place, the better I will like it.

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On Easter Sunday a service was held in an old barn by Chaplain Dent. This time of the year always brings back pleasant recollections of those good days I spent at Katoomba with my people, in April, 1915. Why, it seems almost a lifetime. However, we must hope for the best, & God grant that I will spend the next Easter season in Australia. The unit was in this unexciting, monotonous & filthy village until the 4th inst, & on this day at 5.30 p.m. orders came to hand that every one was to be ready to move off at 6 p.m, All were glad that we were leaving the place at last & it was rather a rush only having half an hour to have tea & pack our kits. Punctually at 6 p.m. we start on the march back to that village, which we arrived at on the 28th instant. It was most "enjoyable" march, the rain came down in torrents all the way. Here we boarded motor lorries, & enjoyed a delightful little trip of about 30 miles. Twenty four men to a lorry, so you can guess that we were rather a little cramped. At 4 o’clock the following morning we leave the lorries & march to a village about two kilos. away, & all turn in. Not in bed 5 minutes when an unexpected order came to hand to move on again. The air was blue with Australian language at this latest order, but, of course, "orders is orders you know", & off we started on the road again. It was a most miserable march, & I can safely say without contradiction, that it equals that march in Northern France in July 1916 from Morbecque to Estaires. It rained continually all the while, & the mud - "enough said."

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The country being new to us, & the day being a misty one, we very often took the wrong road. One village we passed through was being shelled, & you can bet that the marching soon broke into a double. In this village we passed a battalion of tommies & they were the finest body of English troops that I have seen for a long while. The majority of them were close on 6 feet high. Arrived at our destination at midday after being continually on the go since three o‘clock the previous night. The unit is billeted in stables, & in the grounds of a very fine chateau. The Orderly Room this time is in the dining room of the chateau & is beautifully furnished. It is possible for you to picture the scene? Here is a body of troops nearly 300 strong, quartered in a beautifully furnished residence, the owners have gone leaving everything behind them. There were nine bedrooms in the building all of which, contained very fine furniture, the dining, breakfast, & smoke, rooms, were likewise. The owners of this place must have been well educated people as the study contained a magnificent library. Perhaps any day, this fine residence will be dashed to pieces with shells, it is really cruel to think of such a thing. Thank God that this gigantic struggle is not being fought on English or Australian soil. On reading some of the Australian papers, which very seldom come my way, it is disheartening & disgusting to see half the news being about amusements, especially race meetings & boxing bouts. It makes me think if the people out there realise that there is a war on. Of course I don’t believe in cutting out amusements altogether what I would really like to see is moderation. An American soldier told me not long ago that the race-course & the stadium had been closed down in America for the duration of the war.

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On the 7th. inst, I was told to report to V----- (the village we stopped at on the 28th of last month) for stores. Enjoyed a fine long spin of about 30 kilos. in an Ambulance car. It was a most interesting trip, & I considered myself very lucky indeed, being chosen for the job. Passed through one of the leading cities of France, but alas it was in a sorry plight. The place was dead & absolutely deserted. My erand was a successful one, & I returned to the Chateau in the evening, after having spent an enjoyable day.

9th. April 1918. – 11th. April 1918.

Moving orders to hand again at midday we fall in & march to G----, which was only about three kilos. away. Once more we are billeted in barns, & the village was a "dead and alive" one. A great contrast to our last home. The following day B section Bearers moved off towards the Line, the remainder of the ambulance run a sort of a collecting station. Living in such miserable villages, is indeed making the life very monotonous, why! the village we are in at present cannot even boast of a shop. On the night of the 11th inst. our friend Fritz paid the place a visit, a couple of bombs fell in our vicinity, & I can assure you that I "got the wind up". Fortunately only a couple of Tommies were slightly wounded.

12th April 1918. – 20th April 1918.
B. Section Bearers return, luckily they were not required. At 1.30 p.m. the Ambulance start on the road again, & march to D----. As the day was a fine one, & one blanket

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was carried for us, the march was not too bad. Just prior to leaving the village we witnessed interesting spectacle of an air duel, & the German Plane was brought down. An imposing sight, & also a gruesome one, because an Airman’s death in such a case as this, is a terrible one.

Our destination was a big Woollen Factory, which had been evacuated by the French, probably when Fritz first started his offensive. The place will make an ideal spot for a Rest Station or hospital. Shortly after arriving here I enjoyed a swim in the river which runs right by the factory. The Orderly room is some class, it is in the office of the factory which naturally is well fitted up. The river which flows by our quarters proved b boon to the men. Plenty of bathing is indulged in, & a couple of swimming carnivals were held. Boating was the craze for a few days, so you can see that we are having an easy time. Lately the war news has not been too bright, the village that we lived in during the months of February & March had fallen in the hands of the enemy. But of course there is an old saying "keep smiling" our day will come never fear. For ten days the unit had a good time here, sports were held during each afternoon & quite a number of concerts & boxing bouts were held in the evenings.

21st. April 1918.
Of course these good times could not go on for ever, & to-day, the unit will relieve another Ambulance in the Line. During the last two months I have been very

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unsettled, & now that my mates were going into the Line, I was determined to go with them, so obtained a transfer back to the Bearers again. B & C sections move off towards the Line, run a Dressing Station etc., but both proceed in different directions. The arrangement is a good one as in a week’s time A Section Bearers will go out & relieve one section of Bearers, so that each Bearer Section will have a few days spell in at the factory.

24th April 1918.
Startling news to hand to-day, the village in which C section, under Major Clayton, were running an Advanced Dressing Station was heavily bombarded for a few hours with gas shells. Fortunately all the personnel got away to a place of safety. I was told that a couple of our chaps had a narrow escape, two gas shells landed in the dressing room. Four of C section evacuated, suffering from gas poisoning. Sgt. Aspinall, Cpl. Stitson, J.J., Pte. Morrison, & Pte. Trevethen W.G. From all accounts Major Clayton did excellent work, & is worthy of recognition. The following day we had another Station erected on the outskirts of the village. The roar of the guns during the night was terrible. I would not care to be on Fritz’s side of the Line.

26th. April, 1918.
News to hand this morning that the Australians gave Fritz a severe set back, & have him on the run. This was rather cheering for all, "believe me". At 4 p.m. I proceed to the Line to take the place of a chap who was ill. Arrived at the Loading Post

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about 6 p.m. & join my squad. Pts. Short, Sheer, & my old pal Fred Wiggins were in the squad. All round the Loading Post were crowds of German prisoners & German wounded. I saw very few of our own wounded. Our squad had to report to the R.A.P. arrived there at 7 p.m. We had a few carries during the night, but of course the conditions are excellent, when compared with those, during the months of August, September, & October of last year. No shell strewn ground to carry over, but beautiful country, & good roads. The Infantry etc. in our division drove Fritz back, & grabbed a big haul of Prisoners.

26th. April 1918. – 1st. May 1918.
Twenty four hours at the R.A.P. & they were relieved & reported back to the loading post. The idea is a good one – every third day our squad proceeds to the Regimental Aid Post, which means that two days are spent at the Loading Post, placing the wounded in the Ambulance cars. We do our own cooking at this post & some good meals we have had "believe me". Some of the items on the menu were, pancakes, custard & rice-puddings. The cooking utensils & food were obtained from a village nearby. It is far better to collar these stores than to allow them to lie in the village to be destroyed by shells. I look after my comfort also, found a mattress in good order in a deserted cottage & carried, or rather struggled with it for about half a mile back to our Post. The sweat poured out of me, and you should have heard the roar of laughter,

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when I eventually arrived at my dug-out. It was worth all the trouble I can assure you. Not far from our diggings was a fair sized village, or correctly speaking a small town. Very frequently I used to stroll along there & enjoyed walking in & out of the deserted or ruined houses. Some of them were beautifully furnished. Now & again I would come across a piano & have a tune. The reason why I am stating the above is to give you an idea of what this war means to the French inhabitants, who are anywhere near the straffing zone. Probably some of the homes I visited belonged to a Frenchman who had worked hard all his life to obtain a comfortably furnished home for his wife & children. It must be heart-breaking for him to see (or hear) that his home has been smashed to pieces.

Three trips the squad had to the R.A.P., but there was nothing doing, the place was a home. The Aid Post was about 700 yards from that famous little village, which our troops captured on the 25th of last month, Eric sent a paper along with my mail, & it was full of praises for the Australians for the taking of the village. So this is evidently looked upon as a great event.

4th May 1918.
Out to the R.A.P. again, this will probably be our last day here, as our 7 days is up, & we could all do with a bath. The latter will be appreciated.

All kinds of rumours "flying around" where they originate from is a mystery. The best one of the bunch was – that the Kaiser will shortly submit Peace terms, to the Allies. If this is true, my earnest wish is

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that a satisfactory decision will come of it. What is the use of this slaughter & destroying of the country which goes on day after day? It is all very well for the people safe at home, to talk to the Soldier of "King & Country" and "Honour" & Death for Liberty, & all the rest of the glories of War. All these may, perhaps, satisfy the people at home, & the Warriors in the War office, & some soldiers issue orders at the base, but the man who has seen his mates killed, & has seen the ghastly scene of a battlefield etc., combined with the awful suffering of men – he requires something more real or definite, than long winded sentences & promises of Glory etc., After being nearly three years on Active Service, I have come to the conclusion that there is no Glory in War.

I hope you will all excuse the above "out burst" but, it is the mood I am in to day. Sad news to hand two members of the 8th were killed to-day. Dvr. Saunders, W. & Pte Howarth. The former was an original member of the Unit.

5th May 1918.
"Hurrah!" Our relief turned up at 6 p.m. another squad from C. Section came out to take our place. It did not take me long to reach our Headquarters at the factory, where I enjoyed a refreshing hot bath. The next few days I had rather an easy time, enjoyed a good rest. Very frequently Fritz’s planes flew over our home but luckily for us, no damage was done in our vicinity. On the night of the 7th inst. a concert was held in the factory by one of the Battalions in our Division, those men of the Ambulance who were at Hd. Qtrs. were invited. The show was a splendid one, the roar of the Artillery, from mid-night to the early hours of the morning was terrific, & the news in the morning was good.

The enemy attempted to counter attack, but failed in his efforts. Judging from the roar of the bombardment I guessed that something of the kind was on.

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8th May 1918.
At 11 p.m. I was ordered to report at the Dressing Station on the other sector that B Station was looking after. Luckily I did not walk, but was taken there in an Ambulance car, arriving there about 11.45 p.m. I go on night duty in the Dressing Room, & give a hand to unload & reload the car, & attend to the wounded. About 16 cases passed through our station during the night, three of whom were wounded Germans. The latter were in a deplorable condition by their appearance they had not enjoyed the luxury of a wash for about three weeks. One chap was so bad that his boots were stuck to his feet, & it was a tedious job removing his boots. Although they are our enemies they are simply human beings like ourselves, & we must pity them, on seeing them suffering. The Dressing Station is in an old school & it is very comfortable indeed. The majority of the staff live in bedrooms & have comfortable spring beds to sleep on. These sort of conditions in the Line "will do me".

Unfortunately I did not stop here long, as on the following day one of my mates took ill, so went out to a Bearer Relay Post to take his place. Arrived at the Post at 7 p.m. & found the three squads there very comfortably off. They were living in a small cottage, which of course had been deserted by the French, furniture had been "collared" from different houses, & the place was well fitted up. Two squads there, consisted of all old bearers whom I have mentioned on numerous occasions, - Ptes. Ross, Sullings, Calf, Wall, Simister, Woodward & Loveday. I was carrying with George Simister. Two chaps of another Ambulance do the cooking, & some choice meals have been prepared for us. On the 12th inst., we enjoyed a

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good meal, - fried steak, mashed potatoes, onions & rice pudding. Luckily there is a cow on the premises & we always have a good supply of milk.

13th May 1918.
A very sad incident occurred to day, one that I shall never forget. My old pal Jim Powel (who is mentioned on numerous occasions) in my diary was accidently killed. How it happened is really a mystery to me. At 12.15 a.m, Jim & Will Macdonald called at our Post to get some water tested. Whilst Macdonald was in the cellar talking to us we all heard a rifle shot, & on rushing out of the cellar we found to our dismay Jim Powel lying on the ground. On carrying him to the house we found that a bullet had gone clean through his head, of course he was unconscious & he died in a few minutes. The rifle he carried over from the other Relay Post for the purpose of salvaging had accidentally gone off. You can just imagine the shock the sad occurrence gave to us all especially the fellows who were with him from the very start in Liverpool & Queens Park. Needless to say it was a terrible shock to me, Jim & I had been pals for a long time, we came over on the boat together & we have often been in the same stretcher squad. Tom Ross & Clarry Sullings carried poor Jim down to the Loading Post. Of course sleep was out of the question after this, and all were very glad when some more squads arrived from B Section at 10 a.m. the following day to relive us.

On arriving back at Hd. Qrtrs. about 3 p.m. I had to turn in to bed, as I had a bad attack of influenza. Fortunately I was only laid up for three days, & was soon O.K. again. Rather unusual for me to be sick.

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The same day as I was relieved from the Line a Military Funeral was held for Jim Powel. As I was down with Influenza I could not attend, & I was rather glad that this was so as I did not with to be at the sad ceremony.

16th May – 28th May 1918.
During the next ten days I had rather a good time at Hd Qrtrs, not much work to do, & plenty of time to do it in. The weather lately has been improving, & the days are getting hot. Plenty of swimming has been indulged in, which was most enjoyable. To be relieved from the Line during this hot weather & being able to have plenty of bathing is very refreshing. A couple of good concerts were held during the week & the Stadium was well patronised. The country surrounding the Factory is now beginning to look very fine, fields are in good condition. It seems a pity that amid such beautiful surroundings & seeing nature in all its beauty that not very far away a terrible struggle is proceeding & the country is being destroyed in a barbarians manner. On the 23rd inst., it was twelve months since the Ambulance was relieved at Bullecourt, & were billetted at Bapaume. Fritz by the way is now in these places.

On the 26th inst. my pal Eric Herford left the Unit, he obtained a job at the A.D.M.S.’ Office, Divisional Hd. Qrtrs. Gradually the old hands are disappearing from the Unit & I do not like to see it I can assure you.

27th May 1918.
Another one of my pals sent away to hospital to-day. Will Macdonald, was badly burnt with gas & was evacuated immediately. I went out to take his place, this time on the C Section sector.

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Arrived at the Dressing Station about 5 p.m. & found that someone had gone out to the Relay Post to take Macdonald’s place. I was rather disappointed as most of my pals were out there. Just before leaving Hd. Qrtrs. I bid farewell to Fred Wiggins & Sergt. Price, who were leaving the Unit that same day for the Officers Training College, England. Two more of the old hands gone, there has been one long string of them lately leaving the old Unit. Although we all growl a good deal I am sure that all the Queens Park men think a lot of the Unit. Why? it has been our home now for nearly three years. The following day I was told to report to the same Post that I was at on the 25th of last month, two of the chaps in my squad were practically strangers to me. At 9 a.m. we started off for our destination & believe me I was jolly glad to get out of the village, as Fritz had been dropping a few coal boxes into it, some of which landed not very far from the Dressing Station. Just before starting out, news came to hand that on the first 1st June the whole Ambulance would be relieved from the Line, our hearts were gladdened with this prospect. The first two days we were on duty at the R.A.P. and the place was quite a home. One would not think that there was a war on, no cases passed through the Aid Post whilst we were there. I was very much surprised to see Arthur Browne, a school mate of mine, at this post. I had not seen him for a considerable time. We had a long chat & he informed me where I could find another old school mate of mine, Alex. Macdonald. He was stationed in our vicinity & only about 700 yards away. Took a stroll over to the support trenches & found him in a dug-out, & gave him the surprise of his life. It was

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close on three years since I saw him last, so you can imagine the long yarn we had. On the way back to the Aid Post I passed some "Anzacs" dressed up in top hats, going up to the Front Line. We have some "doers" in the Australian Army.
At 3 p.m. on the 31st inst., we report back to the Loading Post to do our last 24 hours, & then we go well away from the Line.

1st June 1918
In many instances in this report of my doings in France, you will notice that almost every time that the Ambulance has been relieved from the Line "Mr Fritz has always made things rather warm just as a farewell gift. Well to-day was well in the running as at 2 a.m. Fritz started his tricks again. He sent a few gas shells over our vicinity. All at our Post, had gas masks on for one hour & 20 minutes. Quite long enough too as these masks are not comfortable to wear. Later on the atmosphere became rather warm in our vicinity, quite a number of shells landed close to our diggings. Seven men were wounded, & my squad was busily at work bandaging the men up, & placing them in the Ambulance cars. All the morning we were busily engaged attending to the gas patients, so you can imagine we were all pleased when our relief turned up. Even on the way out Fritz could not leave us alone, & I often got a move on. However, we all arrived safely at Hd. Qrtrs. & I guess the distance as done in record time. All was rush & excitement there, the relieving Ambulance was taking over & as all the Personnel of our unit had been relieved from the Line there were a considerable number of troops about. Came across

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a number of old friends, but they are too numerous to mention. I enjoyed a good swim in the river, which was appreciated as it was the first decent wash for 5 days.

2nd June, 1918.
Reveille at 4 a.m. Unit parade 6 a.m. & start on the march to R----. Fortunately the latter was not very far, the distance was about 7 miles. Quite far enough for me carrying a heavy pack, & marching during the hot weather. Our destination was a small wood, we arrived there at 11.30 a.m. It was a delightful spot, & will make an ideal camp. Tents are pitched & shanties are erected in the shade of the trees.

Jim Eldridge, Charlie Hall & myself built a little home for ourselves, and we lived very comfortably for the next ten days. Our sojourn here was very delightful, we were not worried with drill, & plenty of sports was indulged in. A cricket pitch was made near by, & plenty of cricket matches were played between the various Sections, & against other Units. Football & Baseball, was indulged in, there is nothing like sports to keep men in good spirits. On the 5th. inst. I was inoculated, had a few more million germs injected into my arm, the fourth time since being in the A.I.F. This is certainly a great life!! A Sports Meeting was held on the 8th. inst, & the events went off without a hitch, & judging from the number of entries & the results, the Unit contains a great number of good athletes. "Hurdle & Obstacle races" "High & Broad Jump" & "Tug of War" were some of the items in the programme. In the evening I strolled along to P----, a fair sized village, & visited an Aerodrome, which

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was near by. I was really surprised to see Bob Roberts of the Anzac Coves there. Since I saw him last the Pierrott Troupe have been to England & showed nightly for six weeks in London. He took me all round the Aerodrome, & it was an interesting sight, especially watching the planes landing etc. Later on in the evening I went to the Anzac Coves the show as a good one. On the afternoon of the 11th. inst, the finals of the sports meeting was held, & like the previous meeting, the events passed off successfully. The following afternoon I attended our Brigade Swimming Carnival, invited to tea with a certain Battalion, & in the evening I went to see the "Cooees". As usual the show was tip top. On arriving back at camp I found our old O.C. Colonel Sheperd, talking & shaking hands with the original members of the Unit. He is a jolly fine chap. Our present o.c. is Lt. Col. Clayton I mentioned before, that I believe he had been recognised for good work on the 24th. April, well, to day, the news came through that he had been awarded the D.S.O. The ten days spent in this camp was indeed a pleasant holiday & everything was done for our benefit, but never-the-less this life is a monotonous one. The monotony of it lately is appalling, one must be here to realise what it is like. During our stay here the weather was delightful, resembling the spring weather in Australia.

14th. June, 1918.

Unfortunately we bid farewell to our pleasant camp to-day, & start off on the road again. After marching about 3 miles, we arrive at our destination. The Ambulance had taken over a Collecting Station. The Bearers are

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camped in another delightful wood apart from the Collecting Station. Every one soon got to work building shanties, & it was not very long before I had another comfortable home built. My companions this time are Ptes. Whittaker & Steer. The former only joined the unit up again a few days ago. You will notice in the 9th. edition where he was sent away last October suffering from gas poisoning.

A new scheme on this time, we will help some tunnelling section to build some dugouts. When we return, we will all certainly be "jack of all trades".

17th. June, 1918. – 20th. June.
A. section’s turn to give a hand at the digging game. We ill work in 8 hour shifts & the squad I was in were very fortunate in drawing first shift. We go on duty at 4 p.m. & finish at 12 p.m. The work was a little strenuous while it lasted. On the 20th. instant, we proceeded to the job again, this time on the second shift 12 p.m. to 8 a.m. Fortunately the job was finished in 48 hours so we were not obliged to go out again.

Our long stay at this place was a delightful one, practically all the time we had good weather. Our camp is in a pretty little wood, which resembles some nook at Katoomba. The country surrounding our camp is looking at its best. As far as the eye can see are magnificent fields, & the different coloring caused by patches of poppies & buttercups dotted here & there, add a pleasant effect to the scene. Another advantage in regards to our present qrtrs, is that we are living out in the open

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and you can imagine how delightful that is during hot weather.

23rd. June 1918. – 28th. June 1918.
The second anniversary of our landing in France. How the time has flown by. It is hard to realise that I have been in this country for two years. The changes that I have seen in the Unit has been enormous. One can scarcely recognise the old Unit now. Almost every second man I meet is a new hand. Quite a number of the old members have returned to Australia. "Lucky beggars". Alas! a few have made the supreme sacrifice, & a fair number have been wounded. Still I am going strong & in good health so I have a lot to be thankful for. Splendid news to hand to day of the Enemy’s offensive in Italy being a failure. The Austro-Germans have suffered sever casualties, & many prisoners have been captured. A little more news like this from the different fronts would be very acceptable at present, & would certainly cheer the troops up.

I have attended quite a number Pierrott shows lately, which were held by different Units in our vicinity. They were all enjoyable & helped to break the monotony of this Military existence. A few of the "Heads" inspected the ambulance on Friday the 26th. inst.

June 29th 1918
Baseball match arranged for the afternoon between the "Yanks" & our Ambulance. The match was most amusing & exciting. You probably know that this is the national game in America. An American Band gave items during the match.

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Naturally the Yanks put it all over us & won easily. At the Bearer Camp the Yanks had tea & in the evening we got them singing & talking around the piano. The majority of these chaps I have met have been decent fellows & are good company. I have come to the conclusion that this skiting & boasting that they are often accused of is simply their manner & is done unconsciously. It is gratifying to see these fellows arriving over here in their thousands, all fresh & eager, the war weary soldiers welcome them. I am sure they will prove good soldiers. The papers state that they are arriving in this country at the rate of 200,000 a month. "Let them all come" we will want them all before this game is finished.

June 30th 1918.– 1st July 1918.
A pleasant ceremony was enacted on parade this morning. L,Cpl. Murphy of C Section was presented with the D.C.M. ribbon. His was a most popular recognition, he has done splendid work in the Line. I mentioned in my last report that the Combined Football team of our Brigade chosen from the Ambulances, Pioneers, & Engineers, had won the final football match. Our Ambulance was highly honoured, as seven of the team were in our Unit. After the above presentation, prizes were presented to these 7 men. The authorities were certainly longwinded in sending the prizes along, but of course the old saying still holds good "better late than never". Inspection of the Unit held the following day by the G.O.C. of the Division. He seemed highly satisfied with the turn out, & in delivering in speech he expressed himself as being extremely gratified.

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4th July 1918. – 15th July.
American Independence Day, & from all accounts the enemy got "hell" all along the Line. The Yanks were well in the straffing also. Batches of prisoners were passing our camp all day. I believe they numbered 800 all told.

On the 5th inst. a debate was held, the subject was – "which had the most influence on Public opinion, the Press or the Platform". Three men were chosen from our Unit, to represent the Press, & three from another Ambulance for the other side. I enjoyed listening to the arguments put forth, it was something out of the ordinary.

On Tuesday the 9th inst. I received work that a certain Unit was close by our camp, so I took a stroll along there, & came across two old friends of mine from Neutral Bay – Stan Solomons, & Don Eaton. I forgot to mention that a couple of days ago I also came across two more mates – Allen Murray & Frank Haines.

The 108th. U.S.A. Engineers Concert Party gave a concert to our Unit, on the 12th. inst. A platform had been erected out in the open close by our camp, & the entertainment went off without a hitch. The programme was a splendid one & some of the items "took" with the "Aussies". The following day our Brigade Band gave a recital at our camp. Fifteen members of this band were on board the Beltana in November 1915, so they are evidently going strong. The band master Sgt. Wellings, was in that famous Manly band, before the war.

Who should I meet to day but Pte. Daley, another old friend of mine, whom I have not seen for about ten years.

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15th July 1918.
At last the authorities have realised, that this life is very monotonous for the soldier, & an Education Scheme has been started in the Unit. The idea is a good one, & if properly carried out, will prove beneficial to all concerned.

Teachers have been chosen from the Unit for the following subjects, - English (English speaking reading & letter-writing etc, Mathematics, Shorthand, Book-keeping & French.

This is only just a feeler to see how the idea will carry on, as shortly this education scheme is to be carried out on a much larger scale in the A.I.F. The idea of this scheme is to help soldiers for the return to civil life. When one thinks of the future, it is indeed a serious matter, to go back to our old occupations, the majority of the soldiers would be backward, so if we give this scheme a little attention we will surely have a little more confidence in ourselves when that great day arrives the return to the "Homeland."
For instance, take the Trade I was connected with before the War, I guess that I know next to nothing about the Woollen Trade now. On turning to civil life again, I will find chaps who did not enlist, probably Heads of departments in the firm in which I was employed, whilst I would have to start at the bottom of the tree again. The more I think of the future, the more complex the question becomes to me. I believe that the Woollen Trade is to be one of the subjects in this education scheme later on. I have often tried to study some subject over here, but it has often happened

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that we have gone into the Line, & then – the ghastly business has sickened me of attempting to study again. However, now that we are to have competent teachers, it will be easier to put our minds on a little study. Of course my mind has been considerably broadened since leaving Australia, but not until I return will I appreciate that this is so. I have given my name in for the first class on the list – English, it is always useful to be able to address oneself correctly, & to read & write correctly. I will not tackle any more subjects at present, as I am sure that this Monotonous military life has made me rather dull. We must be prepared for a period when we might have to be kept in Europe for a considerable time after the war has ceased. In what better manner could this period be spent than by study – preparing ourselves for our future welfare. The idea is only in its infancy at present, but if the subject is given careful attention, good results will follow.

To-day I attended my first class on English, there was a big roll up & Pte Kelsey, the teacher, gave an interesting lecture. The English classes are to be held three times a week, Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays.

Thursday the 18th July.
My two best mates & myself obtained Leave to visit the 3rd Australian General Hospital, to-day. I arranged with a English motor driver, to take the three of us down to our destination. The driver proceeds to a fair sized town, which is quite close to the General Hospital, every morning. At 6.30 a.m.

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we board the car, & enjoyed a delightful spin for about two hours. The distance was about 40 miles, so you can imagine that on our arrival at the town we were feeling rather hungry. There is nothing like a motor trip in the early morning to give one an appetite. Breakfast at some flash hotel, & then we strolled around the city, enjoyed walking in to different shops making little purchases, visited the photographers & the Y.M.C.A. At the latter I had a good game of billiards, the first game I have had since I left Australia. After dinner we strolled along to the third A.G.H. & arrived there just as a cricket match between the Hospital Staff & the team from our Unit was to begin. Our team was beaten by 15 runs, not a great victory when one considers that the hospital team are continually playing & have a good wicket. I met quite a crowd of friends at the hospital, a fair number of our Unit had obtained transfers down there, & it was like old times seeing them again. Invited to tea with the cricketers, & not being bashful I accepted the invitation. The match was continued after tea, & at times it was rather exciting. Supper was provided for the visitors, so once again I butted my frame in. Luckily the three of us obtained a seat in the lorry which had been ordered to convey the cricketers back to our Headquarters. The crowd in the lorry had a good time going home, singing choruses, & yelling out to anyone we passed. It was close on midnight before we arrived home again. I thoroughly enjoyed the day’s outing, it was the best day I have had since my Paris Leave.

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19th July 1918.
The 2nd Anniversary of the Battle of Fromelles. What awful memories does this day bring back to me, one of the never forgotten days in my miliary experience.

20th July to the 5th August.
After attending two classes in English, I find myself in a much more amiable mood, so I took on the French class as well. These classes are held on the same day as the English class is held. Since I have started studying, I find that the days are passing very quickly, the monotony is being broken a little. The next fortnight passed by very quickly the attending of the above classes is the cause of this. I can appreciate the difference already, having something apart from the Military to occupy my mind. During the last fortnight splendid news has been coming in from the French Front, the Franco-American troops started to advance about ten days ago, & to date they are still pushing the enemy back. A couple of days ago, the papers stated that 20,000 prisoners & 800 guns had been captured. The great battle that is now proceeding is now only in its infancy, & great may come of it, but, we must not be to jubilant, we must have patience & wait for the result. It is gratifying to me to write about the above victory just as I am about to end this report, as at the beginning the account is full of the enemy’s advance. Even now that we have reached the fourth Anniversary of the bloodiest war in history, it is more gratifying still to behold the future with the fullest confidence & hope in the realisation of

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5th August 1918
our just desires. Four years ago everything looked black, & much doubt may have been in the minds of the people as to the outcome of such a gigantic undertaking, as the crushing of the Huns. The Allies have received some very hard knocks during these awful four years. The British have been sorely taxed. Russia was absolutely crushed, Roumania, Belgium, & Servia are broken, & poor old France is indeed suffering. Yes, the Allies have received some very hard physical knocks but the Spirit has not been injured. The same old spirit of the Allies is still to the fore, & though we have lost a lost, especially in men, I honestly believe that we are stronger now than ever. The entry of America into the War has altered the whole outlook of affairs. The "Yanks" are here in their thousands, we have talked & dined with them. What fine chaps they are too, it is a pleasure to see them here. Already they have given Fritz a taste of their determination & what they can do in the art of "Stouch". Fritz may still be strong, but he cannot be growing stronger as we are.

On the whole I think the Allies have much more genuine reason to be hopeful on the 4th Anniversary than at any time during the past four years. I fancy ere another year has passed the Allies will succeed in making the enemy listen to reason.

As for myself, I have every reason to be happy, with the above news in my mind. To-day the 5th Aug completes a thousand days Active Service for all the original men of the Unit, & I consider it an honour to be able to claim as one of these men. I am also cheered by the prospects of an early trip to Blighty, on 14 days Leave.

L.W. Colley-Priest.

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Special report XIA -
8th & 9th August, 1918. Brief account of experiences in the advance.

A brief account of my experiences as an Ambulance Bearer, in that advance of the 8th & 9th August 1918.

5th August.
Startling orders given out on parade this morning – the Bearers will fall in at 2 p.m. & proceed towards the line again. We were told that our experiences would be of a different nature than they have been in the past, as an exceptionally big stunt was coming off.

Punctually at 2 p.m. the Bearers parade, carrying a few necessary articles that will be required, together with ambulance gear such as stretchers, wheel stretchers, bandages, & splints etc. "some load" "believe me."

About 4 p.m. we start off, but the march was an unpleasant one, as it rained continually all the while we were on the road. Arrived at the village where our Ambulance ran an Advanced Dressing Station last April & May – the place was more knocked about than ever. Our Stretcher Squad managed to find a cellar, & we were fairly comfortable for the night. Slept like a top, & woke in the morning feeling very much refreshed, & found that the weather had cleared up.

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6th August.
The cellar we slept in, was underneath a ruined cottage, we cleared out one of the rooms, secured a few articles of furniture, & lived fairly comfortable for a few hours. We also enjoyed some good tucker – fried bacon, steak, & potato chips.

At 7 p.m. another move is made for the reserve trenches, which were situated about a mile from that famous village which the Australians drove Fritz out of on the 24th. April last. The Bearers slept in the trenches for the night, fortunately the weather had cleared up the previous night, so our conditions could have been much worse.

7th. August.
We live in the reserve trenches all the day, & at 11.15 p.m. we receive our last orders, & move off towards the support trenches in rear of our Brigade. Several times the support trenches in rear of our Brigade. Several times we got lost & wandered about for a considerable time. This sort of caper, carrying gear & stretchers on a dark night on the Battlefield, is not the game its cracked up to be. Passed a number of tanks in our travels. Eventually arrived at the support trenches at 3.30 a.m. Two miles in four hours rather quick walking "I don’t think". Of course every one was very near

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fagged out on arriving at these trenches. Here we waited in suspense, as it were, till the hour for the great attack.

8th. August.
At 4.20 a.m. our artillery opened up, & never in all my military experience have I heard or seen such a barrage before. The noise was absolutely deafening, words can never describe what it was like. About an hour later we received the order to go forward, & to our great surprise, we did not experience any shell fire in return from Fritz – very fortunate for us, I can assure you. The enemy had evidently been caught unawares & had to go for his life. A thick must hung over the ground, & mixing with the smoke from the guns & shells, it was impossible to see 10 yards ahead. Shortly after getting a move on, we passed an Anzac bringing in a small batch of prisoners. This was a good sign ass it told that the Aussies were doing well. We were continually in & out of trenches, & the mud was ‘delightful’, but we forgot all our troubles & discomforts, as our ‘diggers’ had

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Fritz on the run. Through the mist we could see batches of prisoners coming in, & they seemed very pleased to get off so lightly. In the vicinity of our trench we passed a considerable number o dead Germans. I believe that it was here that they put up a stubborn fight, but evidently they came of second best.

Our duty was to bandage or pick up any wounded, but I am glad to relate that we never passed any. This proves what a wonderful victory this stunt was. Fritz must have gone for his life when the attack op0ened, as very few dead Germans were noticed. When the mist lifted a splendid sight met our gaze. We were walking over beautiful country & here & there big batches of prisoners could be seen. It was a common sight to see the prisoners carrying their own wounded & Australian wounded. The number of the latter was exceptionally small.

About 6.30 a.m. we reached a small village (the name I cannot mention) which was about four miles from the old Front Line of the trenches. On the outskirts of this village

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a collecting station is formed. Cars convey the wounded from this point to the rear. Here we await orders before moving on, so the majority of us obtained a good rest, & ‘believe me’ we appreciated it. Now & again Fritz became a little angry, & kept everyone on the alert. Enjoyed a couple of hours snooze in a shell hole, but was rudely awakened by the noise of machine-guns. An air duel was taking place, an imposing sight. The taube, however, manage to get away. About 11 a.m. five squads of A section receive orders to move on. After walking about half a mile we crossed a gully in which were nine German guns. The ground here was just one mass of shell holes, our shell fire in this vicinity must have been terrific. Continuing on through another village we passed an A.D.S. & from all appearances the work seemed to be going along smoothly here. Along the side of the road I noticed a considerable amount of ammunition that Fritz had left behind. Not far from the village some more guns, & a couple of lorries were passed.

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Already the main road, was just a mass of traffic, our guns were even going into their forward positions. Rather quick & wonderful work. Large batches of prisoners kept continually passing us, & it was very gratifying to see them. After walking about 3 miles we had a spell near some German dug-outs, & discovered a good supply of soft drinks in one of them. Needless to say the drinks did no take long to disappear. I also found a bag of Fritz biscuits which were acceptable, as rations were "very young" . [In Transcript this is noted as being very "scarce"] We still go forward, & about 4 p.m. we arrived at the R.A.P. During our travels plenty of Fritzs war material of very description was passed. These squads are posted at the R.A.P. & two squads including L Cpl. Hall, Ptes. Kusman, Thompson, [indecipherable] Sheer, Higginson, Whittaker & myself are posted about a mile to the rear of the Aid Post. The other three squads carrying wounded to our post, & we carry them onto the cars. Which unfortunately was two miles away, rather a long carry.

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We were kept fairly busy till about 10 p.m. & to make matters worse no sign of any rations arriving. The last carry my squad had was an exceptionally long one. On arriving at the loading post no cars could be seen &, as the case was a serious one, we decided to take the stretcher case to the A.D.S. which was fully a mile further on. You can guess that we were a little tired, but we had the satisfaction of knowing that the wounded chap was in safe hands. Just before starting on this carry we obtained a beautiful hot drink from some infantry chaps. (As you know a travelling kitchen follows up the Infantry). If ever a hot cup of tea was enjoyed it was this one. We were all up early the following morning & decided to build a new home, as we did not feel too safe in our present domicile. All through the night Fritz kept continually getting angry, but luckily nothing fell very close to our dug-out. We had no sooner finished our new diggings, when some more startling orders came to hand. The two squads together with two squads from B Section, were to follow in the rear of a certain battalion who were to advance, & capture a piece of ground, where evidently Fritz was making a stand. This is the first time, that I have seen our men

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go into action, so close to the enemy. We were close on the heels of the battalion & the atmosphere was rather warm. Machine gun bullets were whizzing past & we were all glad when we reached a sunken road & obtained shelter. This was as far as we went, as an R.A.P. was formed here. At the end of the road, only half a mile away, two cars were stationed so the carry was only a short one. Unfortunately a shell landed in one of the cars, severely wounding Capt. Wilson of another Ambulance & slightly wounding the driver. It was then though advisable to shift the cars further back, this was done & all through the day we were kept continually on the go. The Battalion had rather a warm reception, struck a nest of machine guns, which did a lot of damage amongst our chaps. Quite a number of officers were wounded. About 10 o’clock I went with L-Cpl. Hall to the bearers camp to report the shelling of the car, & asked for another one to be sent along. The camp was about a mile away. Half an hour after we had returned to our posts the news came through L-Cpl Hills had been killed & three others wounded – Ptes Onley, Collis, & Sgt. Binger. We had evidently, just left the place in time. Shortly after

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resuming our work L.Cpl. Hall was slightly wounded in the arm, so we collared a Fritz & made him work in our squad. He was a middle aged man & worked well & he enjoyed sharing rations with us. All through the day we had Fritz prisoners carrying the wounded to the cars. If we had not done this our four squads would have never coped with the rush. It was close to 7 p.m. before the work eased down a little. It was told by an officer that the Fritzes who were using the machine guns so deadly were surrounded, they immediately yelled out "mercy Comrades" but needless to say they received no mercy. Darkness had set in before all the wounded were got away. An exciting incident occurred about 6 oclock, one of our Balloons was brought down in flames, & fell in the sunken road. Luckily for us it just missed falling on some ammunition. We had a fine job putting the fire out as it would never do to let the balloon burn, and draw the enemy’s fire. Half a mile from the road was a train that was captured with 600 German soldiers in it, during the early morning. Attached to the train was a tremendous gun which had been firing on one of the biggest towns in France. At 10 p.m.

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an Artillery man was wounded not far from the road & we carried him to the cars. This was the last stretcher case so managed to obtain a little sleep. But of course very few of us slept well during the night as Fritz was on bombing raids. Splendid news to hand next morning that Fritz was 7 kilos away from our Post. Yesterday he was only 500 yds away. At 9.30 a.m. the Battalion we were attached to received orders to leave the Line & of course we followed them. We had not walked very far before we received orders to report at a Chateau in that village which Fritz was driven out of on April the 24th last. I managed to obtain a lift, part of the way in a lorry, & arrived at the chateau about midday. I looked very disreputable, no wash or shave for a week. The whole Ambulance was in the Chateau including the Tent Division & transport sections. All were working hard, the rush of patients was very great, the doctors were busily attending to the wounded & in some cases operations were performed. 400 wounded Germans passed through the dressing station for the day. The tent division of another ambulance were

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giving a hand also. The number of prisoners I estimated that I passed in the Line was about 2000 & judging by the paper I was not very far out. The above number is only what I saw myself 7000 prisoners were captured the first day of the Advance.

It was not very long before I turned in & slept like a top log, after tea I enjoyed a good wash & a shave, & felt a new man again. The two following days I had good rest & soon felt myself again. Great news in the paper – over 24,000 prisoners & 400 guns had been captured, but, it is unnecessary for me to state anything further on the "stunt" you have probably read the news in the paper.

This is just a brief outline of my experiences as a bearer in one of the most successful stunts ever held in this struggle. I say successful because our casualties, when compared with the magnitude of the affair, were very small. The greatest surprise to all was on the morning of the 8th. inst. when we followed close on the heels of our Brigade, & did not experience any shellfire from Fritz.

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Beautiful weather prevailed all through the week which helped the Allies along considerably. Many an air duel was witnessed on the 8th & 9th. inst, rather imposing sights.

Once again the Ambulance Bearers came through another Stunt with very few casualties, may God Grant that this state of affairs will continue.

Dear Mother & Father,

It is now over a month since I started on my leave, & I presume you are anxious to know all about my Furlough, you will wonder why it is why I am so late in writing this brief account of my holiday, well, I have two good excuses – on returning from leave I went direct into the Line, & naturally there is no chance to write letters there, & the other reason is – that six lots of mail arrived for me during the last fortnight, & these had to be answered first.

On the 13th of August - the Third Anniversary of the Units formation, I received word that my Leave Pass was at Divisional Hd. Qrtes. I was in an ecstasy of delight with the thought that I would be getting away from this "Military Life" for a while. The two following days was about the longest that I have experienced since being in the A.I.F., the suspense was tiring – waiting for my Pass to come to hand. However my luck was in as at 4.30 p.m. on the 15th inst, it was presented to me. I mentioned that I was lucky because the Unit were moving towards the Line again in the evening. This was the first move that I have missed since being with the Ambulance. At 4.45. p.m. I started off for ------ Wood,

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This was the place you will remember where the Ambulance was billeted before the big Advance. Our packs were stored there, & I had a few necessary articles in mine that I required. I had a good many miles to walk, & the souvenirs that I was carrying with me (three German Gas Helmets, two water bottles & a Fritz Haversack) soon became heavy, but, the thought of what was in front of me - fourteen days of cleanliness & comfort, kept me in good spirits & I did not notice the long walk. Now & again I obtained a lift in a lorry or ambulance car, part of the journey was done in a staff car. Eventually I arrived at the Wood at 11 p.m., looking very disreputable after the long dusty trip, & after living in dugouts for the last 10 days. Slept in a lorry for the night, & naturally I slept very little, excitement I suppose was the cause of this. Very shortly after daybreak I secured my pack etc., & then looked round for some breakfast. An American aerodrome was situated nearby & at 6 a.m. I butted my frame in there & obtained some breakfast. Felt much better after a good hot drink etc. then I started off on the road again. This time for the Leave train, in & out of lorries again, & luckily I arrived at the station five minutes before the train started. It was relief to be in the train & to know, that I was well on my way at last.

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After being in the train for about an hour a change is made into the main leave train at L---- (It was at this place on the 18th. October 1916, that our Ambulance detrained, on the way to the Somme. The train was punctual in getting off to time, but, of all the miserable train journeys I have ever experienced, this was the worst. Instead of taking four hours to get to Boulogne, the journey took twelve hours, & of course travelling in cattle trucks was very comfortable. Very often the train stopped an hour outside different stations. The long march up that glorious hill at Boulogne came next, but, experience teaches, I had very little gear with me this time. At 10 p.m. the leave men, numbering about a thousand arrived at the Rest Camp. Here we enjoyed a good hot meal & "believe me", it was appreciated. Two blankets issued to each man and it was not long after tea, before I turned in and enjoyed a good sleep.

The 17th August (the day that my Leave is supposed to start from) was another miserable day. A boisterous windy one, & no one were allowed out of camp all the morning. Every-one was relieved when the fall in was sounded at 2.15 p.m., & we march down to the wharf. Our patience was sorely tried here again, & more waiting about took place. At last at 4 p.m. we embark & start on the trip across the Channel. Still more trouble, the trip was a rough one, and

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I have never seen so many men sea-sick before. Fortunately I was not one of these, but, to tell you the truth, I was not feeling too brisk & if I had moved about, or, if the trip had been a little longer, I would have fallen a victim to the malady. Disembark at Folkstone at 6 p.m. in the good old country again, it does one good to see the place again. I could not help thinking what a wonderful organisation this Leave business is. Here is England at War, & still thousands of men are proceeding, or returning from Leave, per week without mishaps. A really wonderful feat, this proves that England is not in the background yet, & that our Navy is still very wide awake.
At 7 p.m. we entrain, & start for the journey to London. What a difference to those military trains in France travelling along on the average of 40 miles an hour & in fine comfortable carriages. Arrived at Victoria Station at 10 p.m., & find the place one mass of people & excitement. The Australians numbering about 400, fall in & we march to our Hd. Qrtrs. at Horseferry Road. This is where the luxuries of Leave begin – here I obtain a hot bath, and a brand new outfit from head to foot. You can guess that I felt a new man again, after this performance was gone through. Passes are then stamped, & then at 12 p.m., I was through all the rigmarole, & I was then a free man.

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It was rather a little late to go looking for a hotel, especially as the bus strike was on, so I decided to stop at the War Chest for the night, which is next door to the Hd. Qrtrs. The War Chest is really a wonderful institution, it is open day & night a good bed, & meals can be obtained there, & the guides are always on hand if the soldier wants information, or a pleasant place to spend his Furlough etc. etc. I enjoy another hot meal, & I turn in between the sheets, (what a luxury). Arriving at Hd. Qrtrs. so late I was given an extra day’s Leave, so I am up early in the following morning with the pleasant prospect, that I have 14 clear days holiday ahead of me. Of course the first item after breakfast was to visit the hairdressers, & enjoy a good shampoo etc., Being Sunday morning not many barbers were opened so naturally had a long wait, & it was close on midday before I was fixed up. Decided to go to East Sheen, which I did, & had dinner with cousin Lily. My visit was unexpected so you can imagine her surprise. In the afternoon, she gave me a hand to parcel up all the souvenirs that I had brought over from France, & we got them all dispatched. Back again to London, to the Golden Cross Hotel, where I am staying for tea. In the evening I attended an American Concert at the Palace Theatre, a big crowd of the leading Actors & Actresses of the London Theatres, give a free concert here, every Sunday evening to Soldiers & Sailors.

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The show as a splendid one & the theatre was packed. My room at the hotel was a very comfortable one, nothing like having the very best after living under the ground over in France.

Monday the 19th. inst was a very busy day for me, I did a number of important commissions for some of my pals over yonder, purchased a number of gifts which I sent home, & called on Mr Hooper, of Hooper & Harrison. I spent an hour at his office, & we had a good old yarn. In the afternoon I do some more shopping, as the bus strike was on, I often travelled by the Tube Railway. This unfortunately was bad for me, as I got lost travelling about in this manner so had to have a taxi. During the afternoon I called on a friend of one of the chaps in the Ambulance, & we had tea together, & then went to Chu Chin Chow in the evening. I liked this wonderful play, better than last year, the music in it is beautiful, & the staging magnificent. This play has had a wonderful run, over two years. Oscar Asche & Lilly Brayton, take the leading roles in it. The score of Chu Chin Chow was sent home, that famous Cobblers Song is included in it.

One would never think, on seeing London, that there was a War on, the whole place is one wild rush & excitement. Jolly good thing to see the place like this, a sure sign that we are winning.

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On Tuesday I rose early & caught the train for Oxford (at Paddington Station at 7.30 a.m. The trip in the train was enjoyable, the country we travelled through was looking at its best. I am certainly very lucky striking such good weather, it was all that could be desired. Arrived at Oxford at 11 a.m. strolled around the town, & made a few purchases, (including presents for my little nephews & nieces, whom I visited a little later on, during the day.) I called at Wadham College, to see three pals of mine, from the Ambulance, Sgt. Price, Pte Wiggins & Tovey, who are training there for a commission. I found the three of them looking tip top, the drilling etc, has certainly done them a lot of good. Of course they were surprised to see me. You will notice in my Diary that during the end of May, Price & Wiggings left the Unit for the Officers school. I watched the cadets drilling for a while - a wonderful display, just like clock work. In the train again at 4.30 p.m. and arrive at Fairford at 5.30, & drove to Aunt Kates home in a buggy. The country in Fairford was looking splendid, I could not help noticing the wonderful harvest. Found all at Hatherop looking cheery & bright, and as before I felt quite at home there. Aunt Kate was very kind to me, & the following morning I had breakfast in bed, & enjoyed a good lie in till 11 oclock. I needed it, travelling about is very tiring.

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I had rather an enjoyable time here, & I was sorry to have to leave so early. After a good old English dinner I bade farewell to Fairford & caught the train for London at 2.25 p.m.

After arriving in London, I had a tedious job trying to get to Waterloo Station to catch the Electric Train for Mortlake, to see some more relations. The bus strike was still on, & after getting a number of directions from people who thought they knew, I eventually arrived at Uncle Alberts home at 8 oclock, rather late for tea, but in good time for supper. Found all well at Palmers Road. Spent a pleasant evening, & stayed there the night. I rose early again on Thursday morning, caught an early train back to London, enjoyed a good breakfast & then to Euston Station, catching the train for Blackpool at 8.30 a.m. Very fine trip, carriages very comfortable, third class like our second class in Australia. Changed at Preston, & arrived at Blackpool at 3.30 p.m.

This is the place where my holiday really starts from. When I landed at this famous Blackpool, I decided that there would be no more travelling, this place "will do me". I had some difficulty in finding diggings, the place was crowded, holiday time, luckily after two hours wonder about, I obtain a room in a very comfortable Boarding House - Trafalgar Hydro, right on the promenade facing the beach.

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The owner was a very homely person, & the place suited me down to the ground, not flash neither was it expensive, but was very comfortable & clean. After having tea here I set forth to inspect this famous Blackpool, which I have heard so much about. I can assure you that I was very satisfied with my inspection. The place was an eye opener to me. I had no idea the town was so big. I pictured in my mind a seaside resort like Manly, but the latter is not in it, there is no comparison between the two places. Blackpool is about ten times bigger than Manly & at times a million people have been staying here o I am led to believe. Judging from the crowd I saw, there must be nearly this number here now. Everyone is out for pleasure & enjoyment, & girls, well, they’re everywhere. I dont think I have seen so many of the fair sex before, & coming from those ruined villages of France, it was a pleasure to see them all. A big surprise was in store for me. I visited the Tower Ball Room, & was amazed when I first saw it. The place was more massive & gorgeous than the Salon de Luxe, Sydney. Dancing had not started when I first arrived on the scene, but, on the first glance at the huge Ball Room, I knew I was set, & decided to stay at Blackpool for the remainder of my Leave. Dancing started at 7 p.m. all the latest dances were on the programme,

[Page 300]
and it did not take me long to learn the new ones. As you will imagine I was in my element, being such a keen dancer in civil life. The orchestra was very fine, consisting of 30 performers. During the interval which lasts about 45 minutes, a very fine performance was given by a number of children. Besides the Ball Room there are numerous other attractions in this enormous building - Aquarium, Menagerie, & Roof Gardens etc. On account of the War all places of amusement close down at 10.30, so I was home again at a respectable hour. Found a musical evening was in progress, so of course joined the party. Friday turned out hot & fine & I spent the morning on the North Pier. There are three piers on the beach, the North Pier is the most fashionable of the three. The place was crowded, two band performances were given, and during the morning. A good view of the beach could be obtained from these Piers, & a merry sight it is too. The beach thronged with people, many in bathing, & scores of side shows along the beach. Every one you meet is in a happy mood, all out for pleasure & enjoyment. I met a Tommie on the North Pier who turned out to be a jolly fine chap, his hame was Spalton. He introduced me to his Mother & I was invited down to his home at Burton-on-Trent, for my next leave. If I happen to get to England again

[Page 301]
I will probably look them up. I arranged to have tea with him in the evening Back to the Boarding House for dinner, which by the way was a good one, poultry included in the Menu. The afternoon saw me having a good time at the South Shore Pleasure Grounds. I joined a merry party, & had the best time I have had for many a long day. The place resembled Wonderland City, Bondi, & I patronised the Scenic Railway, the Figure 8th, the Water [indecipherable] the Nonsense Room, & many other side shows too numerous to mention. I don’t think I have ever laughed so much as I did this afternoon.. In the evening I visit the Palace Ball Room (resembling the Paddington Town Hall) & spend a pleasant few hours dancing. The Fox Trot, Anzac Waltz, & the Tank Crawl, were the new dances here. The music was delightful. There are three Ball Rooms in Blackpool & they are crowded nightly. In fact the place is just a mass of gaiety & pleasure. Nine days I stay at this great pleasure resort & never dull moment did I have all the time I was there. Along the Promenade, sideshows etc. can be seen in great numbers, very often I used to obtain a couple of deck chairs, & sit on the beach & enjoy watching the crowd. I took things easy, & the rest did me a lot of good as when I arrived in England, I felt very run down.

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I visited the Tower Ballroom, 7 nights out of the nine, so you can see that the theatres did not worry me much. On Saturday evening another Australian from France landed at the Boarding House, & he turned out to be a friend of mine from Cremorne-Austen Phillips. I had the pleasure of showing him round this gay place. Unfortunately he could not dance, so he did not accompany me in the evenings. On the Piers, Pierrott Shows are given each afternoon & evening, & they were worth going to. One of the performers on the Central Pier, was staying at the Trafalgar Hydro, & each evening she used to entertain us at the piano. She possessed a fine voice, & was very good on rag time singing.

On Sunday evening I had a musical treat, had booked a seats at the Palace Theatre to hear Mark Hambourg, the great pianist. He was absolutely wonderful on the piano, was worth going [Blank] miles to hear. The other Artists on the programme were good also especially Madame ---- who sang my old favourite "Softly awakes my Heart" from ‘Samson & Delilah’.

The Winder Gardens, another wild place of amusement was also visited, - resembling the South Shore Pleasure Grounds, but on a much smaller scale. The enormous wheel (which you will notice in the post cards) is one of the attractions here, a magnificent view of the surrounding country can be obtained whilst on a trip in the wheel.

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I also had two trips to the top of the Tower, & from here a most wonderful birds eye view of the surrounding country can be obtained. On Wednesday evening I had a change from the Tower, & went to see the Boy at the Grand Theatre. A most amusing comic opera & the music was very pretty. The following evening I was at the old haunt again & bade Au Revoir to my numerous friends. Alas on Friday the 30th inst. I bade farewell to Blackpool & boarded the train for London at 7.45 a.m. arriving there at 2.30 p.m. I then caught the train to Mortlake, & had tea with Uncle Albert, & called for my diary, which had been typewritten. Returned to the Golden Cross Hotel at 8 p.m. & spent the evening writing letters.

Saturday the 31st August, my last day of Leave was an exceptionally a busy & enjoyable one for me. Had an early breakfast & then called at the jewellers & found that the gift to my people had been dispatched in good order. It is to be hoped that it has the same luck as the previous gifts that I bought in Blighty last year. Called at Hooper & Harrison, but unfortunately found Mr Hooper away for the week end, visited the photographers & our Australian Hd Qtrs. At the latter place I obtained my old pay book that I had right through Egypt, and sent it home. I met a friend from the Unit,

[Page 304]
Arthur Trevethen, we both paid a visit to the Base Post Office, Church Street, London, and made numerous inquiries about our mail. We then dined together at Lyons Restaurant, Piccadilly. Not having anything special to do for the afternoon, I went down to the War Chest to see what was doing there. I found a Garden Party advertised, 12 Australians invited, and as the day was a fine one I thought it would be a good idea to go to this function. Which I did, ten of us went altogether a guide accompanying us. At 2.30 we travell by bus & tram to Wood Green a suburb of London, & arrive at our destination about 3.15. to find everything going off in great style. Some "big pot" I forget his name, was giving holding a Garden Party at his residence, & I spent rather a pleasant afternoon there. A great number of wounded soldiers were present (Yanks, New Zealanders, & Tommies) and also were the ladies were in great numbers. We received a reception, and of course being guests we did not pay for anything. The tea was great surprise to me, in fact all the soldiers sat down to a banquet. Talk about the English people being short of rations, there was an abundance here right enough. A better table could not have been seen at a Wedding Breakfast. The afternoon was rather

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an appreciable one, being the last one of my holiday. At 6 oclock I returned to London, & obtained a ticket for Shanghai at the Drury Lane Theatre. The play was splendid one, the best I have seen for a long time. The music was devine, especially a song called oHome, which one of the Leading Artists sang – 7 encores altogether. Old Australian favourites took the leading roles – Dorothy Brunton & Ivy Shilling. They received a great reception from the Australians, who gave them the "Coo-ee" in the old Aussie style. After the theatre I made my way to the War Chest & had supper. I stop here the night, so as to be handy for the train in the morning.

At 7 a.m. the following day, I report at Victoria Station & catch the train for Folkstone, arriving there about 10 oclock At 3 p.m. we embark & have a much more pleasant trip across the Channel that the previous one, arriving at Boulogne about 6 oclock. The next item, if that march up that cursed hill to the Rest Camp. Here we obtain tea - bread & jam, rather a contrast to my tea the previous night. Reveille next morning at the delightful hour of 4.30, breakfast at 5, and obtain our rations for the train journey - sardines, cheese, bully-beef & bread. Most appetising tucker "I don’t think". March down to the Railway Station, & board the train and eventually start off about 8 a.m. Of course in cattle trucks, you can guess that it was hard

[Page 306]
coming back to this. Another long miserable trip in the train, all day till 9.p.m., detrain at ------ and marched away to a camp. A most comfortable bed - one blanket on the ground, but why growl, "its a great life". I was in lucks way the following morning as I was allowed to join a small party of men, who were returning to their Units. Once a fellows leave is finished the sooner he gets back to his Unit the better - theres no place like home, (your own Unit I mean). After walking about a mile we managed to obtain a lift in a lorry for about 7 miles to -----. All the country we passed through was in Fritz’s hands before I started on Leave, so a wonderful Advance has taken place. German war material of every description could be seen in all directions. At 10 a.m. we arrived at another camp, & receive instructions as to the where-abouts of our Units. Luckily for me, our Ambulance was only about 3 miles further on, & I arrived there in time for dinner. On the road I called at our Div. Hd. Qrtrs. and called on Eric, he was looking as robust as ever. Every one remarked how well I was looking, evidently the holiday did me a lot of good. A big mail welcomed me on my return, all my May Mail (which I had been waiting for so long) came to hand.

Cheers & Good Luck. Heaps of Love from Langford

[Page 307]
8th Field Ambulance

Places occupied by all Bearers since the Unit left Australia

Left Sydney for Melbourne – 8th October 1915
Arr. Melbourne – 9th October 1915
Left Sydney & Melbourne – 9th, 10th & 11th November 1915
Suez – 6th to the 12th December 1915
Heliopolis – 13th December
C in Goschen – 14th December
Serapeum – 15th December
Tel-el-kebir – 25th March February 1916
Merksamah – 27th March 1916 – 40 mile route march.
Moassu – 28th March 1916 – 40 mile route march.
Ferry Post – 29th March 1916 – 40 mile route march.
Railhead – 3rd April 1916
Hogg’s Back (B section) – 4th April 1916
Durham Plateau (A Sect) – 4th April 1916
Railhead – 5th May 1916
Ferry Post (C Sect. formed – 13th May 1916 – C Section Formed
Moassu – 28th May 1916
Alexandria – 17th June 1916 Departure from Egypt.
Marseilles – 23rd June.
Morbecque - [indecipherable] June to 8 July.
Estaires – 8th July
[indecipherable] – 9th July
Bris Guerre (B Section – 10th July
Croix Muchel (C Section) – 10th July

[Page 308]
Port [indecipherable] (C Section) – 10th July 1916
Fort Rompu – 11th July 1916
Fromelles – 19th July 1916 – The Battle of Fromelles
(A. B. & C. Sections - 20th July 1916 – The Battle of Fromelles
21st July 1916 – The Battle of Fromelles
Fort Rompu – 22nd July 1916
(Erquingham Baths (B Sect) – 23rd July 1916.
( Fray House (A Sect ) – 23rd July 1916
(Y Farm (C Sect & A Sect) – 23rd July 1916
Doulieu – 2nd August 1916
Convent Avenue – 8th August 1916
Estaires – 14th August 19916
(Laveste (C Sect. Reg. B) – September 1916
([indecipherable] (A. B & C. – 22nd September 1916
(Houplines & Clive Sullings (B Sec) – 23rd September 1916
Shazelle – 14th October 1916
(Bailleul – 17th October 1916
(Longpre – 18th October 1916
(Ergnies – 18th October 1916
(Dummonet – 20th October 1916
Mametz Wood – 22nd October 1916
Thistle & Green Dump
Flus (R.A.P. Goose Ally & Factory Corner)
Becordle – 7th November 1916
Quarry Dump – 15th November 1916
Bernafay Wood) – 21st November 1916
Delville Wood) – 21st November 1916
Needle Dump – 21st November 1916

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Olincourt Chateau – 23rd December 1916
Flesselles – 14th January 1917
Ribemont – 14th January 1917
Becordel – 16th January 1917
Bunefay – 17th January 1917
Battery Post & No. 4 Post – 24th January 1917
Thistle Trench & Rose Trench
(Bellview Farm (A Sect.) – 2nd February 1917
(Millus Son & Needle Dump (B & C Sect – February 1917
Beaulencourt (B & C Sections) – 17th March
Ligny Thilloy (A Sect) – 17th March
Bapume – 18th March
(Fremiouet – 21st March
(Villers au Flos – 21st March
(Haplincourt – 21st March
Beugny – 22nd March
(Riencouet – 23rd March
(Schouffus Wood & Doignes – 23rd March
Beugny – 25th March
Fremicourt – 29th March
Beaulencourt – 31st March 1917
Bernafay Wood – 5th April 1917
Bellview Farm – 6th April 1917
Vaulx – 9th May 1917
(Bullecourt – 10th May 1917
(Noriel, Lagmicouet)

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Favriel – 11th May 1917
Bapaume – 23rd May 1917
Serlis & Warloy – 18th June 1917
Aveloy Wood – 30th July 1917
St. Omer & Racquinghem - 1st August 1917
Stenwoorde – 15th September 1917
Remy Siding – 17th September 1917
(near Poperinjhe)
Ypres – 20th September
Memin Road )
Westhoek )
Bellevaade )
[indecipherable] )
Hooge Tunnel )
Ideal House )
Clapham Junction )
Zonnebeke )
Helles & Glencoise Wood )
Molenwarhock )
Polygon Wood )
The Mound )
Yong St. Kemmel – 14th November 1917
Messines ) – to
Wyachete )
Kandahar Farm ) – December 16th 1917
Deccaville Siding – December 17th 1917

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Wirwignes – 16th December 1917
Locre – 30th January 1918
Godewaersvelde – 26th March 1918
Vauchelles (Doullens) – 28th March 1918
Arqueves – 20th March 1918
Bussy – 4th April 1918
Boves - 5th April 1918
Gentilles Wood – 6th April 1918
Glisy – 9th April 1918
[indecipherable] – 12th April 1918
Aubigny -
La Neuville ) -
Vaux ) -
Sailly le sec ) – 12th April 1918
Voire ) -
Hamelet –
Villers Bretonneux ) – to the - Villers Bretouneux Stunt – 25th April 1918
(Chalk Pits) )
Smiths Farm )
Foulloy & Corbie ) – 1st June
Rivery & Wood ) -
Petit Camon
La Houseye & Querieux
(Dug outs)
Flesseles (C Sect)
Allonvill Wood

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Aubigny – 6th August 1918
Villers Bretonneux – 8th August 1918 )
La Mothe – 8th August 1918 )
Warfusse – 8th August 1918 )
Bayonvillers 8th August 1918 )
Harbonnieres – 8th August 1918 )
Frameiville – 9th August 1918 ) – 8th August Stunt
Vau villers )
Abey Wood – 10th August 1918 )
(White Chateau) )
Cayeux Wood – 13th August 1918
Bayonvillers & Morcourt – 16th August 1918 ) – Proceeded on my second leave to England
Aubigny – 23rd August 1918
Morcourt – 26th August 1918 - Unit
Fontain Le Cappy, Habacourt – 31st August 1918
Puonne & Halley – 3rd & 6th September 1918
Mons & Mont St . Quintin – 6th Sepbember 1918
(neu) Doignt
St Gren & Mons – 10th September 1918
Hesbcourt – 27th September 1918
Bellicourt – 29th September 1918
Nau Rog ) -
Ricquwal ) – 29th September 1918
Bellicourt Tunnel ) – to the - Bellicourt Stunt
Eticpiet )
Joncouet ) - 2nd October 1918

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Hargicourt – 2nd October 1918
Villers Faucon – 3rd October 1918
Peronne – 7th October 1918
Bienncourt (Oesemot – 8th October 1918

L.W. Colley-Priest

[Page 314]
Part XIIa. 3rd September 1918, to 13th September 1918.
In the Line.
20th Sept. 1918

It would be a good idea to call this brief account the 12th Edition of my Diary, so as to keep it up to date.
The same day as I received word that my pass was at Divisional Hd. Qrtrs, our Unit moved from the Chateau, & after marching about 3 miles we arrived at a small wood, in which we were camped for a couple of days. Only a couple of days before this wood was in Fritz’s hands, and the ground was littered with German War material of every description. The majority of the Unit were living in old German dugouts, so you can imagine that on the 15th inst, when I started off for England, the feeling I had that I was going to leave all this for a while. On the evening of the day I left, the Unit moved towards the Line, to take over an A.D.S. While I was away the Unit, and especially the Bearers had a considerable amount of shifting about, - following up the Hun. I was really surprised when I returned to my Unit from leave on the 3rd September, to see what a wonderful Advance had been made during the last three weeks.

Unfortunately I was not allowed to remain in quietness for long, as at 1 oclock on the following day I went into

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the Line. I was included in a party of 12, but, you can realize how hard it was to go into the Line, after comfort & cleanliness in Blighty. Reached our destination about 5 p.m. - a Loading Post, - fortunately, did not have much work to do. Obtained a good sleep in a German Dugout. What a contrast last Wednesday night, in a clean white bed, in a comfortable furnished room, to night, under the ground like a rabbit.

5th September 1918.
At 10 oclock two squads moved further, & we were posted at Relay Post, from here we carry to another Loading Post. Fortunate once again, practically no work to do, the enemy is evidently still retreating. He has received some knocks lately, since the 15th July to the 31st August, the allies have captured 128,000 prisoners, 2000 guns & 15000 machine guns. A big haul, & still we are advancing, the weather is good, & the American Troops are probably in reserve. The vicinity was exceptionally quiet, so we passed the time away building a decent shanty for ourselves. No sooner had it finished when we received orders to shift again. It was close on midnight before we stopped wandering about, & settled down for the night.

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Luckily the squad I was in, found a comfortable dugout, and it did not take us long to turn in. Over 40 Bearers were in our party, so we were indeed fortunate in finding a home for the night. This retreating each day of Fritz is all very well, but, wandering round the cursed country following him up, is not he best of jobs. At 6 a.m. the following day we moved on again. After marching about 2 hours 3 miles, we passed through a famous town which was captured off Fritz by the Australians, whilst I was away. The place was littered with ammunition & war gear of every description, that had been left behind by Fritz. About mid-day arrived at a village, which Frtiz only occupied only scarcely 24 hours before we reached there. On the way we crossed over a bridge which the enemy had blown up in 6 places. He is very thorough in his retreats at times. To our surprise we found our Ambulance running an A.D.S., so obtained a bath, a good feed, & rest. At 6.45 p.m. the bearers fall in again, & are conveyed in a motor bus to the different Battalions of our Brigade. Two squads go to each Battalion, of course I cant give you the name of the Battalion that I was sent to, but on arriving there, I found, two squads of old Bearers there, who

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have been attached to the Batt. for the last three weeks. We slept amongst some trees for the night.

On the 7th September 1918.
The Batt. moved off at 6 a.m. towards the enemy & the bearers follow closely on behind. The Medical Officer with us, hails from Brisbane, & he knows W.R.O. Hill well. After walking about 8 miles, we got settled down, and have a fairly easy time for a few days. On the 8th inst. very sad news came to hand, my two pals, Jim Eldridge & Charlie Whittaker were killed. They were attached to another Batt. which were situated about ½ a mile from us. Really it was a terrible shock to us all, - to think that these chaps went through those strenuous days, at Ypres last September & October, to go under in a quiet place like this. The least said about the sad event the better, you know exactly how I feel about it. They are both mentioned in my diary, on numerous occasions, wonderful & daring work they have done in the Line at times, and they surely both needed recognition.

Absolutely no work to do until the 10th inst when the Batt.

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was relieved. Rather a good job we had here, three good meals a day, and a good sleep at night. Only one stretcher case came our way during the last three days. We followed on behind the Battalion and reached a certain village about 9 p.m., at night and here we dossed for the night, after enjoying a splendid hot meal. On the following day we received orders to report back to our Ambulance, and we landed about 3 p.m. They were situated in a wood & living in shanties & dugouts, this will probably be the place, where we will have our rest. The next couple of days all hands were hard at work making the camp respectable & comfortable. You have no idea the state that Fritz leaves his old camps in, when he retreats, and its some job cleaning it up. The 13th inst. a big mail arrived for me including three parcels. The contents of the latter were enjoyed at tea, a small spread amongst a few pals to celebrate my 28th Birthday, the proper date really being the 9th of September - but, "better late than never".

The evening of the 13th inst. was rather an exciting one, Fritz’s planes paid the vicinity a visit. He got a very warm reception, & three enemy planes were

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brought down.

Good new to hand from the French Front, the Yanks & French troops joined hands across an old salient & captured 10,000 prisoners.

To day the 20th September the news is good also, another big advance has been made in our vicinity, the Australians doing well, capturing 2000 odd prisoners, and much War gear. The majority of the prisoners passed close by our camp.

To day I received a great surprise, Willie Paul called to see me, he is only camped about 50 yds away, and has been there for the last 5 days, & neither of us knew we were so close to each other. Of course we had a grand old yarn, & we strolled along to a certain Engineers Camp, to see one of the dummy tanks, that were used in this latest stunt. The one I saw went the furthest in the Advance, & was brought back as a souvenir.

This brings the news right up to date, when I start the next Edition it will probably begin on the 13th August, omitting the Blighty Trip, and continue on. These few notes are only to bring the news up to date, and in case the next report goes astray, it will come in handy. The latest rumour is that very shortly our Division will be going right away from the straffing for a dinkum rest.


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Part XIII 4th. September, 1918, to 11th. November, 1918
In the line: Bullicourt Stunt: Rest at Biencourt Chateau: Armistice signed.

The 13th Part of Diary
From the 4th September to the 11th November 1918.
L.W. Colley-Priest

Thirteen is supposed to be an unlucky number, but this Edition proves quite the opposite, as it contains news of victory after victory of the Allied Forces, until such times as we have forced Germany to acknowledge defeat. In the 11th report I stated that I had every hope for the future, & surely my wishes were gratified, & today all the Allied Nations of the World, are celebrating our overwhelming defeat of the German High Command, who tried to over run Europe. I am getting a little ahead of myself so will continue on from the 4th September, the day after my return from Leave.

4th September 1918. Received orders to be ready to proceed to the Line, & at 1 p.m. I left the Unit Hd Qrtrs with a small party of twelve bearers, for the trenches. You can bet that it was hard coming back to this right on top of Blighty Leave, after fourteen days of comfort & cleanliness. Arrived at our destination at 5 p.m. which turned out to be a Loading Post. Fortunately we did not have very much work to do, so obtained a fairly good sleep. Slept in a filthy German Dugout, what a contrast to last Wednesday night, where I was living in a fine hotel in Blackpool, – to night under the ground like a rabbit.

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The country is just a mass of war material left behind by the Retreating Germans the enemy is surely on the run. I passed a sign board in my travels today & on it was the following notice – 45 kilometres to Amiens. This will just give you an idea of what a wonderful Advance has been made since the 8th August.

5th September 1918. - 6th September 1918.
At 10 o’clock two squads moved further on & we are posted at a Bearer Relay Post, from here we will carry to another Loading Post. Our battalions are advancing so fast lately, that it is a hard job to keep in touch with them; however it must be done somehow. No stretcher cases came our way during the day so the time was spent in building a shanty to live in, no sooner had it finished, when orders came to hand to move on again. Evidently the "Diggers" are doing well they are continually on the move forward. The Australian Infantryman, is indeed a wonderful fighter. I don’t wonder at poor old Fritz getting the "Wind up" when the "Diggers" come on the scene. Till close on midnight we were walking about often lost our way & kept continually falling into shell holes & stumbling over barbed wire. Oh, it’s a great life, "I don’t think". I often think of these days now, & see the humorous side of it. We (I mean a party of forty bearers) eventually reached another Loading Post, about 12.30 a.m., & manage to obtain a few

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hours sleep. Near by was a Y.M.C.A. Canteen where delicious hot drink was obtained. Good old Y.M.C.A., always to the fore. At 6 a.m. the following day we started on the road again. After marching for bout two hours we pass through the famous town of Peronne, of course it was just a mass of ruins. Some terrible fighting took place in this town, whilst I was in England. Shortly after leaving Peronne we were in country that Fritz occupied only the day before. You can see by this that we were close on his heels. About mid-day we arrived at the village of Mons en Cheausee & to our surprise found our Unit running an Advanced Dressing Station there. At one time it has been a German Hospital, so of course it was just the thing for a Dressing Station. Here we obtained a bath & a good hot meal & at 6:45 p.m. the Bearers fall in again & are conveyed in motor buses to the different Infantry Battalions of our Brigade. Arrived at the Battalion that my squad was appointed to at 7:30 & sleep amongst some trees for the night.

7th September 1918 - 8th & 9th September 1918.
Battalion moved off at 6 a.m. & we followed close on behind, to pick up any wounded. After walking about 8 miles we get settled down & lived in some old German dugouts for a few days. We had a very easy time, all I did was to eat, sleep & write letters for three days. What do you think of our meals, given to the troops, whilst in the Line?

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Porridge & bacon for Breakfast, a hot dinner for midday & generally rice for tea. I state the above because you probably think that when I mention that we are doing Line work that it means hard times etc. Not always is this so, sometimes whilst in the Line, times have been good & our diggings a home. Very sad news came to hand on the 8th inst. that my two old pals, Charlie Whitaker & Jim Eldridge were killed. They were working at another R.A.P. only about a mile away from our Battalion. You can guess that it was a terrible shock to me as we were such great chums. Oh what a terrible & ghastly business this is, two more white men gone. They are both mentioned in different portions of this diary & you will see in the report of the Ypres "Stunts" last October (1817), that I have mentioned their names for their gallant & most daring work. It is hard to realise that we will not see them again. May God comfort their people in their homes of trouble & sorrow. A small Military funeral was held at the Advanced Dressing Station but I was unable to attend as I was on duty with the Battalion. My birthday the 9th September, was therefore a sad one.

10th September 1918.
The Battalion was relieved at mid-day & my squad & the A.M.C. Details marched in rear of the Infantry to a small village called La Mesnil,

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about 8 miles away, near Peronne. Every one was delighted at the thought that we were going to leave Fritz along for a while & have a few days spell. We were taken to a comfortable shanty & had good diggings for the night. We were indeed most fortunate as the poor chaps in the Infantry had to build their own sleeping quarters. A hot meal was obtained about 7 p.m. & "believe me" it was enjoyed. The atmosphere was rather warm during the evening, at Mr Fritz welcomed the village with a few bombs, luckily no damage was executed in our village.

11th September 1918 - 21st September 1918.
All the bearers, at the different Battalions received orders today, to return to the Ambulances. Naturally this order was appreciated as there is no place like your own Unit – our Home. After enjoying the luxury of a hot bath & a good hot mea,l our squad started on the road again, & eventually arrived at our Unit at 4 p.m. They were situated in a small wood about 4 kilos away from Les Mesnil, & living in shanties & dugouts. It was rather a pretty little spot, & a few days rest here will be much appreciated by all the members of the Unit. The next couple of days all hands are hard at work, making the camp respectable & comfortable. You have no idea the state that the enemy leaves the country in, when he retreats &

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I can assure you that it was "some job", cleaning the camp up. On the night of the 13th inst. Fritz’ planes came over in our vicinity, & they received a very warm reception. I have never seen our air defences so good before. The search lights kept continually finding the enemies planes, & the shooting was excellent. No less than three planes were brought down in flames in our Sector. A jolly fine nights work. We learnt next day that an Australian Flying Squadron was responsible for this excellent piece of work.
During our short stay here of sixteen days, great news kept coming to hand of our great victories. On the 14th inst. we were informed that a big Advance had been made on the French Front, the Yanks Advanced & captured 10,000 prisoners & also Mr. Lloyd George’s quotation – "That the worse days are over". Since the 15th of July to the 31st August, the Allies have captured 128,000 prisoners, 2000 guns & 15,000 machine guns. A big haul & still we are advancing. "The day of reckoning for the Hun will come never fear". The news in regards the Australians on the 20th inst. was splendid. The "Diggers" made an Advance in our vicinity capturing 2000 odd prisoners, & about 20 guns. The majority of the prisoners passed by our camp. On this same day I received a great surprise

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Willie Paul called in to see me, and you can bet that we had a good old yarn, as it was over three years since I saw him last. We were camped within fifty yards of each other for over a week & neither of us knew it. Nothing startling to report in regards our stay here, a little drill was done in the mornings, & the rest of the days we had to ourselves. I spent the time away by writing out the account of my Blighty Trip & attending a few Educational Classes.

Sunday 22nd September 1918.
Memorial Service held in honour of L/Cpl Powell, L/Cpl. Hills, Charlie Whittaker & Jim Eldridge, by Corporal Cosier. It was indeed a most impressive Service, one that I shall never forget. I have never seen men break down as they did this night.

Monday 23 September 1918 – Friday the 26th September.
Brigade Sports held today at Le Mesnil, as usual the 8th Field Ambulance was well represented, & we won a number of events. The famous 8th Brigade Band, which was on board the "Beltana" was in attendance & rendered excellent music. Came across Shenning & MacKenzie from Neutral Bay, they were both well. In evening I went to the Coo-ees Pierrot Show, which was very good. Wild rumours afloat that very shortly we would be going into the Line again, & have a go at the Hindenburg Line, & then out we would go for our long promised rest.

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From all accounts this latest rumour seems true, as on Wednesday the 25th of September the Bearers fall in & a number of Squads are chosen to join the different Battalions, so as to be ready when going into the Line again. My luck was certainly in today, as we had to draw for this job, & I drew a blank, which meant that I would stay behind with the Reserve Bearers. No movement towards the Line on Thursday the 26th inst, but a route march was held instead. The Ambulance is standing by expecting to move at any time.

More glorious news to hand this week, a wonderful Advance took place in Palestine, & over 40,000 prisoners were captured.

27th September 1918.
Our Division move towards the Line & at 5:30 p.m. the Ambulance started off along the road, in rear of our Brigade. We experienced rather stiff march, about 8 miles, at mid-night we arrived at a ruined village, & we sleep anywhere we can amongst the debris till morning. The following day we were able to look round, & inspect our home & make it a little more respectable. Startling news to hand today – Bulgaria asked for 24 hours Armistice to consider Peace Terms. Here we have the beginning of the end, the first of our enemies to climb down.

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29th September 1918. (The Bellicourt Stunt, Hindenburg Line) to the 5th October 1918.
At 7 p.m. the Bearers fall in & started on the road again, towards the Line closely following our Brigade. It was some march, I can assure you, at times the hostile shelling was very severe. Very often we advanced through our smoke [indecipherable], & our experiences were most trying at times. The net work of defences, such as barbed wire, trenches, concrete dugouts & strong points were to no avail, the Yanks got through these all right, & then the "Diggers" took a hand with the "box on" at Fritz. Crowds of German prisoners could be seen coming our way from all directions, towards the rear of our Line. A jolly fine sight, a sure sign that we are advancing still - About 3 p.m. we formed a Relay Post in a Trench, but a Loading Post could not be formed on the road, as the road was receiving hell from Fritz & it meant certain death for our Ambulance Waggons to attempt to come through. Naturally a great congestion of stretcher cases was the result, and to make matters worse it began to rain heavily. Just before dark a Loading Post was formed, & we started off to carry the patients away. The carry was a long one, about two miles and only five squads available, so the task of getting away about 30 cases to the Waggons was a very hard one. The carry was a most delightful one – into trenches & over barbed wire, & very often in mud up to the knees.

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More than half the way was through a sap, & you can guess what a job it was getting round corners. Of course after about an hours rain, it was impossible to keep a footing & our poor wounded patients often got a very rough ride. L/Cpl. Gray, Ptes Dodson, Knowles & myself managed six carries during the night & by day light we were absolutely done up. Some terrible fighting must have taken place in our vicinity, judging by the appearance of the country & the poor beggars lying about. No rest for the weary, the following day our squad was told to report to an R.A.P. of a certain Battalion, & give some of our lads a hand to get some wounded away. "Ye Gods", I thought that we would never reach our destination. The Regimental Aid Post was about 3 ½ kilo away. I would not like very many carries over this distance to pass away a day. However after the first case, we managed to obtain a couple of wheeler stretchers, & our work was much easier. You have read in that paper about that wonderful tunnel that was captured off Fritz near Bellicourt & about the discussions that were held, about the boiling down works in it. Well I cannot give an opinion on the latter, as I did not go down the tunnel. Two squads of the Ambulance were posted at this Tunnel, as it was being used as a R.A.P. They consider that it was a cook-house, that had been blown up. I cannot imagine the Germans, bad as they are, boiling down their comrades bodies to make fat. Near this tunnel was a

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wonderful canal which was fully 300 yds across; well, even this could not stop our Advancing Troops. Much praise must be given to the work of the Tanks, in many a tight corner, they saved the situation. During the day I counted 16 Tanks in operation. Another Relay Post was situated between the Tunnel & our R.A.P. which was very acceptable, as it made our work ever so much easier. An ideal spot for a Relay or Dressing Station, as it was all under the ground, just a maze of rooms & tunnels. No shell made could make the slightest impression on the place. A rush of patients occurred & we were obliged to ask some Yanks to give a hand & they did so without a murmur & worked well. As the hostile shelling was most severe we kept all the cases down in the rooms etc. till the next day. It was just as well we did, as the next day the appearance of our surroundings told of a severe bombardment.

The following day the 29th inst, was an eye opener to all, Mr Fritz, the sly dog, had gone back another few miles & the atmosphere was very peaceful. Why our cars were able to come right along to the Relay Post & in fact when we arrived about mid-day, at the Post with another case, we found to our surprise that an Advanced Dressing Station had been formed there. This will prove to you, what a wonderful Advance our Allied Troops are making, they cant go wrong.

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The country in our vicinity was in good condition, as they enemy was going back & our troops were following closely on his heels & very little fighting took place on the 1st October. The impregnable Hindinburg Line had been broken & I reckon if troops can get through such defences as I saw around Bellicourt, nothing can stop them. On the 2nd October at 2 a.m. the Brigade was relieved, & we marched out with our Battalion. The weather was most severe, the cold was intense, however all managed to get along without mishap & at 5 a.m. a halt was made at some old trenches, about 8 miles back. They were situated about two kilos from Bellicourt & when reading that this village was only captured from Fritz two days ago, you can see for yourself what a wonderful advance had been made. A great number of Germans were strewn about, in the vicinity of these trenches, in fact I have never seen so many dead Fritz’ before. Our barrage must have just caught them on the morning of the 29th September. Two days we lived in these trenches, & at times the atmosphere became rather warm, but luckily no casualties occurred in our vicinity. The German Batteries were shooting badly, their gunners must have the "wind up".

Friday 6th October.
Hurrah, the Battalion moved off at 9 a.m. & I can assure you that every one was glad to be leaving the unpleasant place. We must have marched about 8 miles & the

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before we arrived at our destination, & the further we marched back the more cheering our surroundings became. The "Diggers" are billeted in some old brick works near Rossel & it was not very long before all had turned in for a little sleep. At 5 p.m. the 8th Bearers received orders to report back to our Unit which we did arriving there in time for a hot meal. The Unit was living in a gully, in dug-outs & shanties about a mile away from the brick works. Of course we were glad to be home again. Great news to hand that Bulgaria had surrendered unconditionally. I am sure that this is the beginning of the end. Once more I came through another Stunt & my good luck & continual good health again greeted me. The following day news came to hand that the Division that relieved us had a very successful stunt, the prisoners they captured were estimated at 3000, they passed by our camp, to the prisoners cage, which was close at hand. Many guns were also captured an advance of 8 miles. This kind of news, is cheering everybody up. Rumours flying round that very shortly we will be moving right away from the straffing. I sincerely hope it is true, as it will be a great relief to get away from this ruined country & be near some civilised town. Visited the Engineers & had a yarn to Willie Paul, he also had some trying experiences in the Line. We drank your health with cocoa, & hoped for our speedy return to our sunny Homeland.

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Our casualties in this Bellicourt "Stunt" were very light, unfortunately one man made the supreme sacrifice - Pte. J. Williams of A. Section was killed, & the following were wounded, L.Cpl. Hunt, M.M., Ptes. Stanton A. Watts E.R. (The M.M.) McGregor, W,. Griffiths W.A. Pte. Brown, Ridgway W. & Hanning. The latest report of these chaps that they are on the way to recovery. Hunt & Watts rejoined the Unit shortly afterwards. Our old friend Tom Ross was sent away to hospital, he accidently hurt his knee, on the night of the stunt. The old hands are certainly disappearing from the ranks of the Unit, it is not nice to see this.

7th October 1918.
At last we started on the road to go right back for our "Dinkum Rest". The Unit paraded at 2 p.m. & marched to Peronne, a fairly long march, the distance was about 9 miles & to make matters worse, a heavy thunder storm greeted us. At 6 p.m. arrived at the Le Mesnil & took shelter in old wooden huts, till mid night. A Y.M.C.A. was close handy, so I spent the time there.

8th October 1918 – 9th October 1919.
At 12:30 a.m. we started on the road again for Peronne & entrained in cattle trucks. The weather was rather "nippy", "believe me". The train actually got a move on at 5 a.m. & disentrained at Oisement about mid-day. The first two hours of the journey was through country that Fritz held before the start of the big advance,

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on August the 8th last, such villages as La Motte & Villers Bretnaux, (mentioned a lot in the papers at the beginning of the Stunt) were passed. From Oisement we marched to a dead & alive village called Biencourt, arrived there at 5 p.m. & enjoy a good hot meal. Our cooks had gone on ahead in one of our Ambulance cars, & had everything ready for the troops. A fine chateau we are billeted in, an ideal spot for troops, it will make a fine home for the Winter. The country surrounding the Chateau was looking beautiful, after living amongst ruined villages etc. for so long, you can bet that we all appreciate to the full the fine scenery. After living here a few days we had the place very comfortable & a fine Recreation Room was established. The village that we are in cannot even boast of a shop, so you can guess how exciting it must be. To-day is the 3rd Anniversary of my leaving Sydney for Melbourne. That stirring night, at the Central Railway Station, I shall never forget.

10th October 1918 – 3rd November 1918.
Our quarters are now looking splendid & today the Recreation Room was opened with a Bridge Tournament. In the afternoon I visited the small town of Oisement & made a few purchases. Splendid War news to hand that Cambrai had at last fallen, & that the enemy was retreating in disorder, in the vicinity of that town. Came across Albert Whipp today, he was looking very well. During the next ten days nothing of a startling nature occurred at the Chateau.

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Visited the 3rd Australian General Hospital at Abbeville to-day, and spent a pleasant time there. Came across a number of old pals. Bought a number of souvenirs to send to Australia for Christmas, but I could not buy much, as the price of different articles, is beyond a privates pay. A couple of dances were held during the week in the Recreation Room, & everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. It was funny to see the fellows dancing together. Splendid War news to hand on the 20th October – the whole of the Flanders coast has been evacuated, by the enemy. It is great to read of this after the Hun having these places for four years. Lille had also been captured. An impressive service was held in the Recreation Room on Sunday evening. Corporal Cosier in charge, there was a good attendance. The following evening another dance was held & every one present enjoyed themselves. The Unit Orchestra (consisting of a piano, three violins, a flute & a cornet) rendered good music. On Wednesday the 23rd inst. the Unit were invited to a picture show, the programme was appreciated by all, as it has been a considerable time, since any of us were present at a cinema show. Another invitation came to hand for Friday evening to Lena Ashley’s Concert Party from Paris. The show as a good one. On Sunday evening another service was held in the Mess Room, Pardre Hareward, taking charge.

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A Bucks Dance (Plain & Fancy Dress) & a sing song was held in the Recreation Room on Monday the 28th October at 7 p.m. The affair was a great success the room was crowded & every one present enjoyed themselves. The first item on the programme was a Grand March in Fancy Dress, six couples participating. The Unit Orchestra under the baton of Staff Sgt. Bender, rendered excellent music right through the evening. Vocal items were contributed to the programme by a number of chaps from other Units. Eric Herford’s item was much appreciated.

Two lectures were given during the week on Tuesday & Friday evenings by Private Kelsey. The subject was an interesting one - The Australian Constitution. There was a good attendance at both meetings.
One hundred & fifty tickets were issued to the Unit for the pictures at Rambruelles on Wednesday evening. The programme was good one & was much enjoyed. Driver Saunders of our Unit was the pianist. The personnel conveyed their thanks to Mr Kitson, who was responsible for the evening’s amusement.

Something out of the ordinary was attempted for Thursday evening – a Progressive Euchre Party. The Recreation Committee were rather dubious, as to how the Tournament would turn out; but it exceeded all expectations, & the competition passed off without a hitch. Shortly after the commencement of the game

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word came through one of the most popular men of the Unit – Cpl. Cosier was leaving the Ambulance for good, to take up the position as Chaplain in England. The opportunity was then taken of giving him a little farewell. This took place during the interval. Light refreshments were served out & L/Cpl. Murphy D.C.M. made a small short speech on behalf of the Unit & bade Corporal Cosier all sorts of good luck etc. & a speedy & safe return to Australia. Cpl. Cosier responded. At 9:30 the tournament ended – Pte. Roberts J. winning the first prize, Pte. MacGoldrick gained the 2nd prize & last but not least – Sgt. Curta, who was honoured with winning the "booby prize". A vote of thanks was passed to L/Cpl. Murphy, Ptes Peake & Colley-Priest for the successful & enjoyable evening. No definite programme was arranged for Saturday evening but, fortunately we were in lucks way, as a "Digger" arrived from a certain Battalion who could play the piano very well. A small dance & sing song was therefore held & a pleasant evening was spent.

"The Recreation Committee, conveyed their thanks to Pte. Peake, for his many kind acts in procuring comforts & material for the Recreation Room. Quite a number of football matches were held during the week, & as usual we came out on top. Rugby League, Australian Rules, & Soccer were indulged in, we have a good team in each

On the 31st October 1918 word came through from Divisional H. Qrtrs that Turkey had surrendered unconditionally. Evidently this is the beginning of the end.

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On the 4th November, the news came through in regard the great Advance of the Italians & the signing of the Armistice terms. Austria had also surrendered unconditionally. Now we have Germany on her own.

A few more recommendations were included in to days routine orders, the following names were read out in orders for distinction etc.:- Pte. E. Calf, Bar to Military Medal, & Military Medals to Sgt. Eggington, L.Cpl. Ross, L.Cpl. Carr, Dvr. Smith, H., Ptes Skiller F., Mac Goldrick, J. Parker, J. Wroth, A Wall & W. Miller.

Last Friday 1st November an Inspection was held of the Ambulance by the G.O.C. of the Division – General Hobbs. He seemed well satisfied with the turn out. Pardre Gant from Le Havre held a meeting in the Cinema Tent on Sunday evening & a very fine crowd were present. The 4th inst. I took over the Post man’s job, as our worthy Postman had gone on leave. A comfortable job. I have an office to myself. More great victories came to hand during the week, & naturally the troops are in a good humour.
A Euchre Party, Whist Drive, Two Lectures & a Dance, are held during the week, so you can see that we are having a good time here. Unfortunately the weather has been rotten lately, the Winter has started in earnest continuous rain for four days.

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9th November – 10th November 1918.
On Saturday the 9th inst. the third Anniversary of my leaving Australia, news came through that Delegates from Berlin, came through our lines under the cover of the White Flag & went to General Foch for the Armistice Terms. The German Government were given till Monday morning to decide the question. The news next day was good also – that the Kaiser & the Crown Prince had abdicated & had fled to Holland.

On Monday morning the 11th inst. at 5 a.m. the Armistice Terms were accepted by Germany & at 11 a.m. hostilities ceased for the first time in four years on the western front. Germany’s acceptance of the Armistice Terms, really means unconditional surrender. The end of this awful slaughter & bloodshed is at hand, it seems too good to be true. What a great joy this latest news will bring back to the World. I can just imagine the people in Australia, nearly going crazy, with joy, when they heard of the news.

The above dates the 3rd Anniversary of our departure from Australia, anxious then were our hearts, as to what the out come of it all would be, though little did we think the War was going to last so long, or that we were going to have the experiences we have had.
Many great changes indeed have taken place, since the 11th November 1915, & varied indeed have been our adventures. We have lost a lot when we come to consider the work of our pals who have fallen, although on the

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other hand we have gained considerably, when we realize that they have not fallen in vain, since what they gave up their lives for is WON. The 11th inst. saw the end of hostilities, & the close of the bloodiest, most cruel & most uncalled for War in history. The Kaiser & his gang have fled to Holland & Europe is left to repair the handiwork of these monsters. We have great consolation, however, in knowing that those who caused the damage will have to pay in hard cash for the repairs.
On this great day 11-11-18, we had the remarkable experiences of celebrating not only the 3rd Anniversary of our departure from Australia, which we did in right royal fashion with a banquet & musical evening; but, also the end of the War. Few of us at present can realize that such is the case. We have sang, cheered, waved flags & so forth and watched the French people do the same, but still we cannot fully realize the situation and what it means. I am very doubtful if we will, until we set foot once more upon the sunny shores of our own dear land, & there greet our long "lost friends & dear ones". Then I am sure we will appreciate all to the full & more. No doubt the return of the troops will bring extra sorrow, to many an already stricken heart, there will be no "Son’, "Father", "Brother", "Cousin" or "Sweetheart" returning to them. Their grief must naturally be increased in proportion to the joys of others

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more fortunate, though less honoured, perhaps than they. They also will have consolation in the knowledge that they have not given their all in vain & that the smiles of their loved ones will soon look down upon the Nations of the World at Peace. Those chaps of the Unit, who were on Leave in Paris of the United Kingdom, when the Armistice was signed, were certainly very fortunate, as judging by the papers, great celebrations were held there. All through the week we made merry at the Chateau, the thought of no more Line work & no more horrors of the Battlefield put us all in good spirits. The following Sunday 16th November the Brigade held a Thanksgiving Service, it was an impressive one. General Hobbs, the G.O.C. the Division, gave an address & stated that very shortly we would probably be moving to Germany, that Censorship Rules, would not near be so strict, all names of places could be mentioned, & that cameras could be carried. Everyone was satisfied with the latter, but the move towards Germany is unpopular. Get us all home to Australia, as soon as possible, is the main item. Amidst all the merry making & celebrating of our great victory, we must not forget, to Thank Almighty God, for the overwhelming defeat of our enemies. As a move is shortly about to take place, this will compete the 13th Edition of the Diary. I sincerely hope that the next Edition, will tell of my usual good health, of my third leave to Blighty, & of my long looked for return.

Langford W. Colley-Priest.

[The following programmes are from the typed transcript:

8th Australian Field Ambulance.

Concert & Dance

Friday 8th November 1918


1 -Overture -Selected -Pte. Wilkinson (31st Bat)
2 -Dance -Waltz -
3 -Song -Nirvana -L/Cpl. Perrin
4 -Dance -Schottische-
5 -Musical Monologue - -Pte. Wilkinson
6 -Dance -Anzac Waltz-
7 -Song -Heroes of the Dardanelles-
8 -Dance -Lancers-
9 -Cornet Solo - -Pte. McKee
10 -Dance -Jolly Miller Waltz
11 -Song -Roses of Picardy -Pte. Avery (31st Bat)
13 -Song -Songs of Araby -L/Cpl. Perrie
14 - Dance -Barn Dance
15 -Song - -Pte. Douch
16 -Dance -Schottische, Two Step, Waltz.
17 - -Medley.

Pianist for Dancing -Pte. Wilkinson.

In the Field 11.11.1918


Potage Vermicell - The King
Sole Frite - Col. A.E. Shepherd. D.S.O.
Filet de Boeuf Braise -
Celeri Rave au jus - Commonwealth of Australia
Poulet Roti - S/Sgt. Christie
Pommes a Anglaise - THE 8TH FIELD AMBULANCE
Fruits - Major H.S. McLell&
Vins Bordeaux. Cigarettes. - COMRADES

W. O. Kitson.]

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17th November 1918 to 9 Jan. 1919.
The 13th Edition ended on the day that a Thanksgiving Service was held, for our great & overwhelming defeat of our enemies. The G.O.C. of the Division – General Hobbs gave an address & said that in a very short time we would be on our way to Germany, that Censorship rules would be much lighter - all names of places could be mentioned, & that cameras could be carried. Naturally this was good news to all. More dances were held during the following week & every one in the Unit made merry to celebrate the ending of the War.

On Saturday the 23rd November a Review was held of the Division by General Hobbs. A number of Heads from different branches of the Army, including French Officers, were also at the saluting base. The display was a fine one & the Ambulance, marched by very well.

Tuesday 25th November.
The Unit bid farewell to Biencourt Chateau & start on our journey towards Belgium. We marched to Brencourt which was about 9 kilometres away, & were billeted in barns. It was one of the

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worst villages that we have ever been billeted in, the mud was inches thick on the roads. After dinner I took a stroll to Abbeville, a small French town about 8 kilos away, & spent a pleasant afternoon & evening there. Visited the Cooees Pierrott show & enjoyed the performance immensely. Luckily I did not walk home but, obtained a lift in one of our Ambulance cars. At mid-night on the 27th inst. we started on the road again & marched to Pont Remy, the entraining point. We arrived there at 3:30 a.m. & found to our dismay & of course as usual, that our military express had been delayed. Even other Units of our Brigade who were supposed to entrain hours before us were waiting also. You can guess that it was very cold at this hour of the morning; but the "Diggers" soon had big fires going, along the street and the Frenchies fences & timber suffered. It was a long & miserable wait, the cold was intense & to make matters worse, it rained continuously. At 12 a.m. we actually boarded the train, in cattle trucks naturally; but we were fairly warm, as thirty men were put in each truck. Once again we helped ourselves & collared straw for the floor of the truck. Needless to say - it was not very long before all were asleep and a very good sleep we had,

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as after travelling for two hours, the train stopped for 12 hours at Chaulnes. The train "crawled" through the old Battlefield of the Somme & the usual desolate, & dreary scene, met our gaze. As we passed the ruins, my thoughts flew back to those stirring days at Thistle Dump, on the Somme in November 1916. Little did we think then, of the great victory that was to be ours, two years later. The next important place passed was Murcoing, it was here that some hard fighting took place.

Cambrai was passed about 10 o’clock on the 28th inst. I was rather surprised at the size of the place, it is a fairly large city. It had always been recognised by the Military authorities that this town was a very important place to occupy. I should certainly say that it was judging by the net work of railway lines encircling the town. The country in the vicinity was a mass of shell holes, which told of severe fighting, the town itself was badly knocked about, but not nearly as bad as Bapaume. All who looked on this town possessed a feeling of awe as we thought of the awful loss of life that occurred in the recent fighting there.

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About 2 o’clock another big place was passed Caudry. It was hardly damaged, only the railway station was knocked about. This also, was an important place judging by the number of large factories about. A great number of civilians could be seen also. It was close on mid-day when we arrived at Bertry, here we disentrained & the Y.M.C.A. greeted us with hot tea & biscuits. You can bet that it was appreciated. Another march took place of about 8 miles and all were glad when we arrived at Busigny - our destination for the time being. We are billetted in barns & are fairly comfortable. Attended a picture show in the evening, it was most enjoyable. The following day I travelled to Manzheim about 13 kilos from our quarters for mail. There was hardly a shell hole to be seen all the way, it was round here that the Germans put up a feeble fight & retreated very quickly. He was evidently in a bad way as an enormous quantity of war material was left behind including heavy guns. We were in lucks way in the evening as permission was given to hold a dance & sing song in a big chateau, which was close by. The place was well furnished & contained

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many fine rooms, some of which had magnificent paintings on the walls. The French care-taker informed us that German officers lived in this chateau & almost every evening had drunken brawls there. I believe that the Kaiser & the Crown Prince, visited the place also. I noticed that telephone wires were fixed to all the big rooms & we were led to believe that the wires were connected to German Hd. Qrtrs at Potsdam. All through the week I had a busy time on this Postman’s job, every night it was after 10 o’clock before I had finished my work. Naturally writing was out of the question, hence the reason for the neglect with my correspondence. The Christmas parcels keep coming in with a rush. On the way to the Post Office I pass through the villages of Vaux Andigny, Malain, St. Martin & St. Souplet. On the 7th inst. another move is made & we marched with full packs up to Manzhein. A great number of German notices were seen in the different villages even the streets had German names. Evidently the Germans thought that they were here for good. From all accounts they treated the inhabitants shamefully. Of course our one conversation lately is – when are the "Aussies" going home, marching

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about in this mud & slush is very unpleasant at this time of the War. Naturally the troops are very discontented, & the sooner we are all sent home the better. Pte. Joe Wroth, who left Australia in February 1915 bade farewell to the Unit today to return to Australia. So I must have patience my turn should arrive in the near future. Came across some old pals to day, Zanders, Paul Daley & Rabbidge.

8th December 1918.
The Unit moved on at 9 a.m. & we marched to Favriel, a fairly long march, & the mud was delightful. I was very fortunate to obtain a comfortable little room, for a Post Office, so in spite of the Wintery conditions, I am not badly off. The Brigade Post Office was in the same village so had a little more time for myself. The village was a dead & alive one; but the inhabitants were very kind to us so this made up for our miserable surroundings. They evidently were treated very badly by the Germans as they could not understand us wanting to pay for everything. They were sorry when we bade them Au Revoir on the 17th inst. On the road again at 9 a.m. & march to Avesnes, a big town near the Belgium border. The distance was 22 kilometres

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some march believe me. However I managed the walk alright, luckily our packs were carried. Avesnes is a fairly decent place, but the price wanted for such articles as postcards, & writing pads etc. was absurd. I had tea with Bob Roberts of the Anzac Concert Party & attended the show afterwards. The performance was a good one. The following day saw the last of our moving about, & we marched to Sar Poteries, arriving there about mid-day. It is a fine place to be billeted in, the buildings were modern & the streets were clean. It was a great relief to be away from the mud. Our billets are very comfortable without contradiction, the best the Unit have had since being in France & the inhabitants, words cannot express our gratitude to them for their kindness to us. The Unit Post Office was in a comfortable little room, containing a stove & a bunk, so I am set up for the Winter. The Madame who owns the place is very good to me supplies the fuel for the fire, gives me coffee in the early morning & does all my washing. The most peculiar part of all this is that when I attempt to pay her for these kind acts, there is a row; but of course I insist. There is no reason because the Germans forced these people to work

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for nothing, that we should do the same. The Brigade Post Office is at Solie le Chateau, another big village about 6 miles away, divisional Hd. Qrtrs are here so naturally it would be a fine place. Educational & Recreation Rooms have been established for the Unit in Sar Poteries.

Christmas Eve 1918.
On Christmas Eve, a very successful Dance & Sing Song, was held in the school. Chaps from other Units contributed musical items to the programme. As usual Sgt. Herford’s item "Waitoi Poi" was much appreciated. The Unit Orchestra rendered excellent music, & the evening went off very well. Invitations were sent to the fair sex of the village & there were a few present. All the Ambulance Officers including Brigadier Davies V.C. also attended.

Christmas Day turned out a bright & clear one and the dinner placed before us was indeed the very best we have had in the Unit since leaving Australia. The tables were laid in the school & the Sergeants acted as waiters. A vote of thanks was passed by S/Sgt. Bender seconded by Cpl. Murphy D.C.M. to the cooks for their hard work in dishing up such a splendid dinner.

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Christmas Services were held in the morning & evening. Pardre Dewhurst conducted these services. Another Dance & sing song was held at 7 p.m. Dances & musical evenings were held every evening till the New Year. As the weather is so cold lately, these dances are well patronised. During the week each man in the Unit received a parcel from the Comforts Fund, also a wallet from the Y.M.C.A. I was in lucks way this year, as I received seven parcels, three came from Blighty., On the 28th inst. I was presented with the Military Medal by the Prince of Wales.

On New Year’s Eve the 30th Battalion held a dance in the Glass Factory at Bulgnes. The 8th Field Ambulance Orchestra again supplied the music. The hall was crowded & every Battalion in the Brigade was represented. There was a fair number of Madamoiselles present, also, probably this was the first piece of excitement & amusement, they have had since the beginning of the War. Supper was provided by the Y.M.C.A.

Brigade Sports held on New Year’s Day, the Ambulance as usual was well represented. The day turned out clear & fine, this was quite a relief as lately it has rained continuously. C. & D. Company (late 29th Battn.

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and the Ambulance held a dance in the Sar Poteries Hall in the evening. The hall was crowded & the affair was a great success. On the 2nd of January 1919 I received the pleasant news that Eric Herford & I had been granted a few days leave to Brussels.

Leave to Brussels & Antwerp.
The night of the 2nd inst. I spent in Sabe le Chateau, so as to be handy for the leave lorry which leaves there every morning for Charleroi. At 9 a.m. on the 3rd inst. Eric & I boarded the lorry & arrived at Charleroi about 1 o’clock in the afternoon. It was a long trip over 50 kilos so you can guess that we were ready for a good meal. A good dinner was obtained, but the price was absurd. Charleroi is about as big as Amiens & is well worth a visit. At 2:30 p.m. we caught the train for Brussels, arrived there at the Gare du Midi about 5 p.m. The place was just a maze of light & of course we appreciated to the full this dazzling sight as this was the first time that we have seen a city lit up for over three years. Our first job was to find diggings so immediately boarded a tram & travelled to the

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principal portion of the city. We managed to obtain a comfortable room, in a small hotel, for the small sum of 7 francs. I consider that our luck was in, obtaining such cheap lodgings. The next item was tea and a very good dinner was partaken of in a large restaurant situated in the principal Boulevard. Brussels is indeed a gay place, it is a second Paris & naturally now that the Germans have gone the place is one mass of enjoyment. Bunting & flags adorn all the principal buildings inside & out. Little did I think when reading of the capture of Brussels by the German hordes in 1914, that four years later I would be in the city itself. The prices charged in the different restaurants & cafes for food & drink is enormous. Fourteen francs for a three course dinner, two francs for a glass of beer, & a cup of coffee, 1 franc 75 centimes. On knowing that a franc is equal to 10d. in English money you can see for yourself what an expensive place it is to stop in. Every-thing seems to be double the price of what it is in Paris. It is just as well that our stay here will only be a short one.

After tea, we strolled round the

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principal Boulevards, and appreciated to the full the gay sight. Almost every café has an orchestra playing, and to stroll into these various places and spend about half an hour in each, is rather a pleasant way to pass away an evening. In the majority of the cafes dancing is held, so of course I was in my element. At an early hour we returned to the hotel, as we had had plenty of travelling during the day. Breakfast was partaken of at an early hour the following day all we had was two cups of cocoa & a roll of bread each, the price charged was four francs each, not forgetting the tip for the waiter. As you know the latter does not receive payment from his employer but gains his living by tips. The city was really very fine and possessed many fine buildings, it resembles Paris very much. The principal Boulevards are magnificent, and the tram service is a good one; but, of course is not a patch on the tram service in Sydney. Our first item was to visit the Y.M.CA. which is the finest that I have ever seen. The building was bigger than the Paddington Hall. Here we obtained a guide book so as to help us in the tour of the city. On being told that La Tosca was being played at the Opera House we immediately set forth to the Theatre Royal de la Monnaie. Seats were booked for

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the night’s performance. The building is a massive structure and the theatre will accommodate 2000 persons. Opposite the Opera House is situated the Hotel des Postes or Post Office. It is rather a modern building erected in the year 1885. On the Northern side of the Post Office we saw the fine Fontaine Anspach (Anspach Fountain), it is a wonderful piece of sculpture and stands in the centre of the Place de Brouckere. I believe that it was erected in memory of the famous architect Anspach who constructed the principal Boulevards in the city. At 11 a.m. the streets were thronged with people, and every one seemed to be in a jolly mood. Not far from the Place de Broucker,e stands the magnificent building – the Stock Exchange or the Bourse du Commerce. It was practically covered with Allied flags & presented an inspiring effect. The next place of interest that we visited was the Cathedral of St. Michael & St. Gudule. I have seen finer cathedrals, in France; but this church was famous as it was built in the year 1273. A few minutes walk and we came upon the Colonne du Congres (Congress Column). Statues representing the nine provinces of the country were at the foot of the Column. A pleasant half hour was spent at the Art Exhibitions in the Rue du Musee. It contained pictures painted

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by the Worlds most famous painter - Ruben. From there we went to the charming gardens in front of the Royal Palace. This was indeed a place worth visiting. I noticed that the Palace was being used, as a hospital for soldiers. From the Palace we noticed a fine building standing out alone amidst the city, so of course set out to make an inspection. It turned out to be the Palais de Justice, or Law Courts. Really it was a most magnificent piece of architecture. Said to be the largest law courts in Europe. The structure contains numberless passages 8 court yards, 27 large sessions halls, and about 200 rooms. You can guess from this what a fine building it must be. There are nearly 700 steps to be climbed to reach the tower; but, after walking round Brussels all day we did not feel much inclined for climbing steps. However we obtained a fine view of the town from the terrace. Words cannot describe the scene, the panorama was magnificent. Quite close to the Law Courts is the Grande Place, a large market place, and also the famous square of Brussels. On one side stands the Hotel de Ville or Town Hall. It is a quaint & inspiring building & dates right back from the 15th Century. Right opposite on the North side of the Grande Place, stands another very old building called La Maison du Roi.

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History tells us that the building was commenced in the year 1131. You can imagine yourself how interesting it must be to inspect such old & historic places as these. The market place was all decorated, in honour of our great victory, it must have been a wonderful sight here, a few weeks ago when the King of Belgium made his entry into the city. The Grand Place has played many an important part in the history of Belgium and even in this War it has become noted. Before I enlisted, I read of the Gemans entry into Brussels and it was in this place where they treated the high officials etc. of the town in a shameful manner. They also held a great number of ceremonial parades here. At night time, the entire market place is illuminated and is a pretty sight. At the back of the Town Hall we come across the Manneken Fountain. This is also a very old piece of structure. The Guide Book informed us that we had visited practically all the most important & historic places in our stroll so we made our way to a Café, & partook of another sumptuous meal. The price of which was enormous. I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner, one finds it very hard to beat these French meals. Another short stroll after tea, & then to the Opera House. Although the Opera La Tosca was all in French, I enjoyed it thoroughly. The music, well words fail me to describe how beautiful it was. I have never heard such voices before. Madame Edvina, who take the part

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of Tosca is said to be the best soprano in the World. The acting was very good & the staging & effects were magnificent. The theatre was packed & there was a fair sprinkling of Australians amongst the audience. After the performance we visited a number of cafes, & returned to our hotel about mid-night. The day had been an interesting one, as we had seen all the most important sights in the city so decided to visit the famous & historic city of Antwerp the following day.

7 a.m. found us at the Gare du Nord (North Station) and at 7.15 a.m. we boarded the train for Antwerp. It is worth while mentioning, that a small sandwich was procured on the station, the price was 1 franc 7 ½, equal to 1/5 1/2. This will give you an idea of the price of food over here. The distance from Brussels to Antwerp is 27 ½ miles, but, the journey took 2 hours 45 minutes. Rather quick travelling. About halfway we passed through the town of Malines. It was a busy place, full of factories & railway workshops. It has a population of 50000 inhabitants. The country we travelled through from here was looking very fine, considering the Wintry conditions. At 10 a.m. we arrived at the Gare Centrale (Central Station) Antwerp. The station was a massive piece of construction & much bigger than the Central Station Sydney.

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On leaving the Station we entered the wide & beautiful Avenue de Keyzer. It is a fine street & contains many fine buildings & places of amusement. Antwerp is a large & commercial town & is said to be the most important of the sea ports. A restaurant was soon found and a light breakfast was obtained; but, the same as in Brussels, the price was very high. A few minutes walk from the Avenue, found us standing in front of the famous Cathedral. The church is famous, because of its age, over 500 years old. Being Sunday morning the church was crowded so we entered the place, & stayed for a few minutes listening to the singing. At the far end of the building we came across two famous paintings – the "Elevation of the Cross" and the "Descent from the Cross". They were painted by Ruben the famous Belgium painter. The pictures are priceless & are wonderful to behold. Standing opposite the door of the Cathedral, is an old well, it is many hundred years old, and said to have been built by the famous artist Quentin Matsys, who was once a blacksmith. We saw quite a number of his pictures later on & they were equally as good as Rubens. From the Cathedral we went to the Grand Place (large market) which was close by. Here we met a guide, who accompanied us, in our inspection of the city & he was an interesting chap to talk to.

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In the centre of the market stands a huge statue, one of the finest that I have seen in my travels. On one side of the square stands the Hotel de Ville or Town Hall, so of course, we made a visit here, and a very interesting half-hour we spent in this old & historic building. On entering these places & seeing the wonderful works of art contained in them one can’t help thinking how clever the people were in the olden days, when all latest inventions were unknown. One room contained most beautiful paintings by Ruben, even on the ceiling fine pictures were painted. On leaving the town hall we passed through the Old Fish Market to the Church of St. Paul. It is without a doubt, the finest Cathedral that I have ever been in. All round the walls, are statutes standing 6 ft. high entirely carved out of oak. Really a most wonderful piece of work. Our guide informed us, that these were all completed in the 14th Century by Monks. On entering the aisle, we see at the far end of it, an exquisite painting called the Seven Works of Mercy. In another portion of the church we came upon a row of 15 pictures, of the "Life of Christ". Fine paintings adorn the walls; but those of Ruben stand out alone. Outside the cathedral is a small garden & in it are some wonderful carvings in oak of the twelve Disciples,

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of Peter denying Christ & Hell. Words cannot describe the marvellous piece of work, that is in these carvings. All cut out of solid oak, and were completed in the 14th Century. All round here the buildings were in a dilapidated condition, we were told that this was old Antwerp, dating from the 2nd Century. The next place of interest visited was the Musee Plantin – Moretus (Plantin Museum). It contained old printing machines & documents & books, that were written before printing was invented. I saw a copy of the bible entirely written in Latin. Who ever did it certainly had a tedious job. Not far off was another church - St. Andrew Cathedral, built in 1529. From outside the place is nothing to rave about; but on entering one is thrilled by the marvellous sculpturing & magnificent paintings, that adorn the building.

A short walk through the beautiful Park brought us to the Harbour or river front. Unfortunately the day was a dull one and we did not view the scenery at its best. The harbour extends for over three miles along the Scheldt, and must have been a very important place for Fritz to hold for four years. We obtained a fine view of the river & the busy scenes on the wharves from the Promenade, that runs along a portion of the bank.

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An old fort or castle dating back into the 10th Century stands on the Promenade and we made a visit there. By the time we had made all the above inspections the time was getting on & as the return train to Brussels left at 2 o’clock, we immediately made for the nearest restaurant. The menu was a good one; but as in Brussels the price was high. Boarded the train, again shortly after dinner & arrived at our room about 5 p.m. Although the visit to Antwerp was a hurried one it was none the less interesting & I am glad that I saw the place. Variety shows & numerous cafes were visited after tea & we had "some night" "believe me". At 6.20 a.m. the following day, we were in the train en route for Charleroi. After a stroll round the town, we managed to obtain a lift in a lorry and arrived back at our respective Units at 5 p.m. The trip had been an interesting & enjoyable one, it was just as well that only a hurried visit was obtained, as everything was so expensive.

On the morning of the 8th inst. the glorious news came to hand that 25 men of the Ambulance were to leave for England, the following day, en route for Australia. All married men, or those who had very special reasons, were chosen to go first, and in the evening the Unit gave them a send-off. All these

[Page 362]men left Australia not later than the 9th of November 1915. Just think of it, November men, I will surely be in the next draft, as there are not a very great number left in the Unit now. Rumour says that the next batch will leave about the 27th of the month. You can just imagine how I feel about it, it is hard to realize that very shortly I will start on the journey for H.O.M.E. What pleasant recollections does the latter bring back to the majority of us. I can picture the old "Braemar", with its fine rose garden, and those who are dear to me, waiting there to welcome me. In the near future this will all be in reality, and what a great day that will be. I can smell the surf already, and when I see Sydney Heads again, and the red tiled roofs in the distance I am sure that I will be overjoyed. Eric & I will probably return on the same boat.

This completes another Edition of my Diary, it is very brief & cannot be called a good one, as news is scarce at these times, & my only thought is Australia & Home, and nothing else interests me.

L.W. Colley-Priest

[From typescript version:

8th Australian Field Ambulance.

1st February 1919.
Plain & Fancy Dress Ball. "C" & "D" Coys. 29th battalion, & 8th Field Australian Field ambulance.

A most successful Plain & Fancy Dress Ball, organised by a combined committee from "C" & "D" Coys. 29th Battalion, & 8th Field Ambulance, was held in the hall at Sars Potieries on Saturday evening 1st February.

The building was gaily decorated with flags & bunting, & the huge quantities of greenery adorned the walls. The audience was a very large one, & they appreciated the programme provided.

The evening opened with an overture by the Orchestra under the leadership of Driver Saunders. During the Grand March which took place immediately after, the judges must have experienced great difficulty in picking out the Prize Winners, as there were a great number of cleverly thought out costumes present. Fully 200 were in fancy dress, & the effect caused by the different colouring etc. in the March was exquisite.

Two Diggers dressed as "Gippo’s" gained the first prize, & a special prize was awarded to a soldier dressed as a "Ballet Girl". Some of the costumes were indeed clever including an Egyptian & his lady, the latter riding a donkey. A great number of the Mademoiselles were also in fancy costume, the majority of them were dressed as "Anzacs".

The Orchestra were all dressed as French Marines & looked very smart. Musical items were contributed to the programme, & were all appreciated.

Supper was provided during the interval. Immediately after the supper, two very fine Tableaux were displayed, & were really splendid. The first represented Australia sending her Sons to the war. Between the tableaux, Sergeant Herford sang the Hero’s of the Dardanelles" & the audience singing the chorus very heartily.

Major General Tivey congratulated the committee for the splendid turn out, & especially Private Roberts who organised the Tableaux. Private Coxon was warmly congratulated on his appearance as Australia in the display. Col. McArthur C.O. of the 29th Battalion also made a few congratulatory remarks.

The ball went on to the early hours of the morning, & one of the finest evenings was spent since the boys left Australia.

L.W. Colley-Priest M.M.
8th Australian Field Ambulance.]

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15th Edition of Diary.
6-1-19. to 16th-4-19.
To the Pater
The last Edition, ended on the day that the first draft left the Unit to return to Australia (the 6th January 1919.) Naturally after these fellows left a "gloom" seemed to hover over the Ambulance, for the next couple of days, and the days dragged by very slowly indeed. The date of the next drafts departure was postponed indefinitely, on account of the big strikes that were occurring in England, & of course this did not help to improve matters, amongst the Personnel. I omitted to mention the New Years Day sports in the 14th Edition, so will briefly comment on the sports here.

There was a large attendance of Officers and men at Sar Poteries to witness the 8th Brigade sports. The weather was mild, and the air rather chilly. It had rained the previous day and the ground was heavy, which slightly handicapped the competing athletes. During the day several horse & mule races were run, and many bookmakers were present on the course. There was plenty of betting & keen interest taken in each event. Each Unit in the Brigade had previously been called upon to contribute money for drinks, & a good quantity of light beer, was at the disposal of the troops. Many had more than their share; but this was for-seen, and Units provided limbers for the occasion, & these were used for carrying off the "helpless."

The 8th Brigade Band in charge of W.O. Wellings rendered delightful music during the afternoon. The Ambulance was successful in the mile, which was won easily by Pte. Maggs. A.D. & L/Cpl. Egan S.B. ran second in the 220 yards handicap. It was a very enjoyable day, and an excellent opening for the New Year.

Plenty of dances were held in the evenings, to pass away the weary hours, & on the 1st February 1919, a most successful Plain & Fancy Dress Ball, organized by a combined committee from C. & D. Coy’s 29th Battalion & 8th Field Ambulance, was held in the hall at Sar Poteries. The building was gaily decorated with

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flags & bunting, and huge quantities of greenery, adorned the walls. The audience was a large one, & they thoroughly enjoyed the programme provided. The evening opened with an overturn by the Orchestra, under the leadership of Dvr. Saunders. During the Grand March, which took place immediately after, the judges must have experienced great difficulty in picking out, the Prize winners, as there were a great number of cleverly thought out costumes present. Fully 200 people were in fancy dress,& the effect caused by the different colouring etc. in the March was equisite. Two "Diggers" dressed "Gippos" gained the 1st Prize, & a special prize awarded to a soldier dressed as a "Ballet Girl". Some of the costumes were indeed very clever, including an Egyptian and his lady, the latter riding a donkey. A great number of the Mademoiselles were dressed as "Aussies". (Eric & I were in Pierrot costume). The Orchestra were all dressed as French Marines, and looked very smart. Supper was provided during the interval, and it was great to see the civilians having a good "tuck in," as they have had a rough spin, during the last four years. Immediately after supper two very fine Tableaus, were displayed, and were really splendid. The first represented Australia sending her sons to the War in 1914, & the second Australia welcoming her sons back from the war. Between the Tableaus Eric Herford sang the "Heroes of the Dardenelles", the audience singing the chorus heartily. Major General Tivey said a few words, congratulating the committee for the splendid turn out, and especially Private Roberts, who organized the Tableaus. Pte. Coxan was warmly congratulated on his appearance as Australia in the display. Col. McArthur Commanding Officer 29th Battalion, also made a few congratulatory remarks. The Ball went on to the early hours of the morning, and one of the finest evenings was spent since the boys left Australia.
A dinner was held on the 8th February to bid Au Revoir to the men in the Ambulance, who are leaving in the next draft. The Dinner was laid in one of the rooms, of the village school, and the tables were artistically decorated with pot plants. The meal was a

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good one, consisting of five courses. L./Col. Clayton D.S.O. acted as Chairman. Some fine speeches were made, and an enjoyable hour or two was spent. Another Fancy Dress Ball was held in the evening, and was as successful as the previous one. The two tableaus staged by Pte. Roberts were much appreciated.

"Billie Hughes" visited the Division on Sunday the 18th February, a parade was held of all Units in the vicinity, at the Square at Solre le Chateau. The 8th Brigade Band were present, and also a number of French Soldiers. "Billie" spoke for three-quarters of an hour, and received a good hearing. He is certainly very popular amongst the Australians.

The village of Sar Poteries in which the Ambulance is billeted, is rather an important little town, and our stay here was a delightful one. It is situated about 10 miles from the Belgium border. The population at the present time is 2300. Electric light is installed through out the town, the power being generated at Beumont, which is about 18 kilos away. The place is full of estaminets, a hall was fixed up by the "Diggers" & dances were held there almost every evening. The Railway Station was a total wreck, and the Railway yard, was a just a mass of ammunition; evidently the place was used by the enemy, as an ammunition distributing centre. I still carried on with the Postmans job, and my duties helped to pass away the weary & monotonous days.

The glorious news came to hand, on the 1st March that the next draft for Australia will leave the Unit on the 6th inst. & naturally the excitement of the troops was great. On the 4th inst. I attended a farewell dinner given by the Education Department, of the Unit, to the members of this Institution, who were on the next draft. On arriving there if found my name on the lists of "Toasts", & of course had to struggle through a speech. Some very fine addresses were given by the members, well up in the art of speech making. The 5th of March saw the amalgamation of the 8th Field Ambulance, and the 15th Field Ambulance, so this is practically the end of the old unit. It was rather fitting to the occasion that I should be leaving the Unit, the following day, after being with it, since the formation in August 1915

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till the above date. It is hard to realize that after an absence of 3 ½ years from Australia, that a last a start is to be made for Home. With a feeling of joy intermingled with a feeling of regret, I am leaving the Unit tomorrow, as it has been my home for so long, and I have made numerous friends, or I should say close "Pals", amongst its members, & perhaps I will never see them again.

The move of the Draft for England (en route for Australia) from the 8th Field Ambulance on the 6th March 1919.

The party of 40 all told, consisting of 8th, 14th, 15th Field Ambulance, & 5th Sanitary Section, paraded at 7.30 a.m. on the 6th inst. After bidding farewell to our "cobbers" we are leaving behind, we march to Solre le Chateau. Here we board lorries and arrive at Beaumont about 11 a.m. Instead of staying the night at the military camp, we obtained permission from our worthy W.O. to have rooms in the town, so all had a comfortable bed for the night. Meals were fairly cheap at Beaumont, the price charged for a plate of chips & cup of coffee was only 1 ½ francs. A vast contrast to the prices charges in Brussels. The following day at 11 a.m. the A.M.C. paraded in the square, & marched to the Railway Station, where they entrained. Charleroi was reached at 4.30 p.m. rather quick travelling - 30 kilos in 5 hours. At Charleroi we experienced a rotten march, to the concentration camp – about 4 kilos distant, on arriving there we found that the place was full, so had to march to another camp. We were in lucks way however, as it was right next to the station, where we entrained the following morning. I managed to obtain a wooden bunk in the billet & was fairly comfortable for the night. Permission was granted to those who desired to have rooms in Charleroi; but not being "flush" with money, I stopped in the camp. Breakfast at 7 a.m. on the 8th inst. & at 9.30 a.m. we entrained. Travelled in cattle trucks, & without a doubt, they very best was done for the troops. Twenty five men to a truck, clean straw provided to sleep on, - and a bag of coal for the brazier. The rations were plentiful & included plum puddings, coffee & milk, & tins of mixed biscuits. Tommie heaters were also on issue. Mons was the first stopping place, & hot tea & stew was partaken of here. There was goodly issue of rum in the evening. Another meal was obtained at

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at mid-night. Arras was passed about 3 a.m. Three hot meals were provided the following day & at 8.30 p.m. we arrived at our detraining point. The march to Harfleure Camp was a severe one, & the road was inches thick with mud. Luckily we did not carry our blankets, as they were all collected before leaving the train. By the time the camp was reached every one was in a bad humour, and the long wait for a cup of tea (without milk or sugar) did not help to improve matters. All turned in at 1 a.m. and the following morning another wild rush took place for breakfast. After this "sumptuous meal" all web equipment was handed in, & I was not sorry to see the last of my pack. At 1 oclock the draft passed through the baths, & it was the finest military baths, that I have seen. A new change of clothes & kit bag was given to each man. Every-one felt very refreshed after this performance, as travelling in the train was not very pleasant. At 6 p.m. our quota shifted to another camp, & here we remain till the day of our departure for England. The last camp we were in is called the "cleansing camp" - a suitable name. Our prospects of getting away, are not very bright, as No 13 Quota is still here, & naturally they will move to England first. On the 12th inst. all were issued with new uniforms. Leave granted to Le Havre in the afternoon. Eric & I spent a pleasant afternoon & evening in the town. At last I am going to bid farewell to France, as at 5 p.m. on the 14th March the A.M.C. Party, together with the Div. Engineers board lorries, & are conveyed to the wharf at Le Havre. On leaving the lorries we embarked immediately & at 7 p.m. we started on the journey across the Channel. The weather was calm, but never-the-less there were a great number sea-sick on board. As before I was a good sailor. At 5 a.m. the following day, we were anchored in the harbour at Weymouth. A couple of hours later the 14th Quota were sitted in a buffet, enjoying a cup of "Dinkum" tea. English ladies waited on the men. The railway station was only about a mile away, and very soon all were in the train, not cattle trucks this time, but, comfortable clean carriages. The journey to Warminister took about two & a half hours, & from here we

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were obliged to march to the camp at Sutton Veny, three miles away, arriving there in time for dinner. Our party (that is the A.M.C.) are billeted in one big hut & we soon had it fitted up & comfortable. Five blankets & a mattress were issued to each man. The tucker was very good, very much to my surprise, as I had heard bad reports from these Base Camps. Two parades are held a day, & it pays to be present on these roll calls. All were inoculated against Influenza, on the 15th inst., & black kits & overalls for the boat were issued. Friday the 21st inst. was the day chosen for the Quota to go on Leave, & the next few days was spent in waiting in long queues for pay, clothing, & railway tickets. It certainly will be a treat to get away from this Military existence for fourteen days. Reveille at the early hour of 5 a.m. on the 21st inst. & at 7 a.m. the Quota march off for Warminster to catch the special Leave train, which departed at 8.15, arriving at Paddington, London, at 10.30 a.m. I was great to be feeling a free man again. I put up at the Y.M.C.A. Alwich Hut, in the Strand. The place is very comfortable, & clean, meals & bed were remarkably cheap. My first job was to visit the Base Post Office, & you can imagine my feeling on being told on arriving there, that there was no mail for me.
Dinner at the Hut, & a very cheap meal it was too, three courses for 1/. In the afternoon I visited Hooper & Harrison Regent Street, & they kindly forwarded a cable home for me. As I wanted it to go immediately, I had to pay 3/- a word, & of course the code words that the firm used made the cable much cheaper, than if I had sent it from elsewhere. The next important job accomplished was the calling on the War Records Section Horseferry Road, with that History of the Unit, which I wrote out. Capt MacLean the Official Representative for the Medical Services, was extremely delighted with the epistle, & could not thank me enough. He promised to have the account typewritten, on condition that he could keep one copy for the War Records; of course I fell in with this idea, & a few days afterwards, I called again, & the job was completed.

In the evening I went to a Dance, held in the Ladbroke Hall at Notting Hill. The function was advertised at the Eagle Hut, Y.M.C.A. and the admission was free. Next morning I strolled round

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the main streets of London, & came across numerous friends, some of whom I had not seen for years, in fact I did not know that they had enlisted. The Guards Procession was held in the afternoon, & near Hyde Park Corner, a place as reserved for the Australian Troops, so I went along there & joined in the fun. The crowds at this particular spot were immense, & the "Aussies" got covered with confetti. I have never seen such crowds of people before, in London & suburbs, are more people than there are in the whole of Australia. Who should I meet amongst the crowd but Mr & Mrs Fothringham, from Mosman, they certainly were surprised to see me. In the evening I attended a Dance at the Irish Club in Trafalgar Square, and met some very nice people there. Eric & I visited Wembly, & called on Mrs. Cruickshank, had dinner there, & in the afternoon, we attended the Sunday concert at the Albert Hall. We were amazed at the size of the hall, I believe it will seat ten thousand people. The programme was a good one, all Classical music, the Orchestra consisted of 50 violins, so you can imagine how beautiful the music must have been. We attended a Smoke Concert at Australia House in the evening. The programme was an excellent one, only Australians were admitted, & naturally I met a number of old Pals, including a number from Hooper & Harrison Sydney. There were also a number of Australian ladies present. At 11.45 p.m. the train for Blackpool was boarded at Euston Station. The journey was a slow one, as we did not arrive at our destination till 10.30 a.m. the following day. I was surely disappointed with Blackpool on this occasion, the place was very quiet, nearly all the places of amusement were closed & the weather was exceptionally cold. I spent a miserable day there, & decided to return to London the following day. Visited the Tower in the evening, & came across a number of friends whom I met there last August. Arrived at the Alwich Hut, London, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, and afterwards I enjoyed my-self at an American Dance, at Bishops Gate Institute. As I went along with a party from the Eagle Hut, the admission was only 1/6. It was a fine dance, & the Jazz Band was splendid. At Australia

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House on Wednesday evening, a dance was given by the "Diggers" to the girls of the Anzac Buffet. These ladies have worked very hard for the last four years at the Buffet, from 7 oclock in the morning till 8 oclock at night. Most of the workers came from Australia. I received an invitation to this function, so of course went along, & had an enjoyable time. A presentation was made to each worker, of a souvenir handkerchief, and the following inscription was worked on them – "To the Ladies of the Anzac Buffet", "Thank you from the Australian Digger", At an early hour on the 26th March, I was once again at Fairford, staying at Aunt Kates home in Hatherop. I found them all well there, & they naturally made numerous enquires after the Pater. In the afternoon in strolled along to Bibury, & called on a number of people who new the Pater when a boy. In fact I visited the house in which he lived. Bibury is indeed a pretty spot, it is situated in a valley & is entirely surrounded by hills. A pretty little stream runs through the village. A fine place to spend a quiet holiday in good weather. Unfortunately I was greeted with a snow storm on arriving there. As before I was greeted with great kindness by Aunt Kate, & felt at home at her place. Back to London at 6 p.m. the following day & was present at another dance in the evening. The Function was arranged by some ladies from The Y.M.C.A. – was free to all overseas troops. A Ladies Jazz Band was in attendance. The following day was full of surprises for me, as I was continually coming across old Pals. I joined a party of chaps from the Unit, & went to a music hall, unfortunately the show was not a good one. Caught an early train on Sunday morning to East Sheen, Mort Lake, & spent the day at my Uncles Home. I enjoyed the day here immensely, after tea I visited Hock Douch’s home at Chadwell Heath, Essex. Hock was married some time ago to a Miss Pearl, and I stopped the night at Mrs. Pearls home. I gave them a great surprise, as I did not write, & advise them that I was coming along. On arriving there I found the house full of girls, probably on the look out for some more "Aussie" husbands; but I did not "catch on". The next day at 12 oclock I was dining with Aunt Ada, at her home in Great Marlow. Of course she was full of enquiries

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regarding the Pater. Who should I meet in London, the same day; but brother Oscar, we had tea together, & off to a dance in the evening. He is still the same old character. Spent the day at Mort Lake again on Tuesday, & then bid farewell to all at Palmers Road, as probably I will never see them again. If I do happen to come over to this side of the World again, I hope that it won’t be in a troop-ship. Strolled round London on Wednesday, & met Eric who had just arrived from Fairlie in Scotland, and in the evening I attended another dance at the Irish Club. On Thursday evening I went to the Palladium, purchased a ticket at the Y.M.C.A. at a reduced price. It is just aw well I did as I could scarcely sit the show out, nearly all the items were comic songs, or ridiculous sketches. At the Eagle Hut on Friday morning, I was informed that a Memorial Service for American Soldiers & Sailors, who had lost their lives in the War, was being held at Westminster Abbey. I immediately jumped on a bus, & arrived at the Abbey, just before the service commenced. It was a most impressive service, and the music was beautiful. The Organist rendered some fine selections, and the singing of the Choristers was fine.

Return to Sutton Veny Camp by the 2.15 train & very soon am again settled down to monotonous camp life – "I don’t think". On the Parade the next morning the Quota was informed that they would probably be in camp for a month, before embarking for Australia. By that time all will be "insane", as the time will drag terribly My Leave I enjoyed immensely, especially as I did it so cheaply, & the meeting of so many old friends was very pleasant indeed. Nothing startling occurred in camp till the 8th of April, on that day I attended a Lecture at the Y.M.C.A., on the Growing German Revolution. Professor Spicer who delivered the Lecture, was a captive in Germany for four years. On Wednesday the 9th of April the A.M.C. party are moved to Fovant, which is about 7 miles from Salisbury. Inoculation against the "Flu" (for the second time took place the following day. Two days afterwards I was down with the Flu, & sent to the hospital at Hurdcott. Here I had a rough spin, my temperature was continually hovering round

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the 102 degrees. The worst part however was that a number of fellows in my Quota, who enlisted in 1915, were put on a boat roll & I believe they sail on the Runic next Sunday. Only for "Mr Flu" I would have been going also. Heres hoping that I will be ready for the next boat. The 3rd of March mail from Aussie came to hand whilst I was in hospital, & of course I got much better when some home letters came to hand. This completes this report, the next one I will hand to you personally, immediately I arrive in Sydney in the very near future.

L. W. Colley-Priest.
To the Pater

(France) 6 January 1919 to (England) 26thApril 1919

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Part XVI Embarkation: Life on Troopship coming home: Ports of call: Arrival in Australia and Sydney.

The 16th Edition of my Diary.
The last report of my doings on Active Service.
The journey to Australia.

On Easter Saturday, I was discharged from hospital at Hurdcott, and returned to the A.M.C. camp at Fovant. Naturally I was feeling a little weak, but, this feeling soon wore off. Various boat rolls were compiled during the following week, and I was lucky enough to be on the roll of H.M.A.T. "China". Only three of the 8th Field Ambulance were on the list, this was unfortunate, as I would have liked to travel home with a few of my mates. Eric unfortunately will not be with me, as only a certain number of Sergeants are allotted to each boat. The camp is over-run with Sergeants, & it will be about three weeks before Eric will get away. I seriously thought of getting my name crossed off the boat roll, & waiting for him, but, Home, was not far distant, so I decided to stop on the list. On the afternoon of the 27th April I bid farewell to a great number of Pals, & then marched to Dinton with the "Medical Details for the China". The train for Waterloo was boarded here at 5.15 p.m., arriving in London at 9.30 p.m.. Just a "little farewell", a heavy snow storm greeted us in the "big smoke", "some climate", snow in April. Our party stopped at the "War Chest" for the night, & a good supper & breakfast were obtained there. Shortly after breakfast the following morning we travelled (by means of the Underground Railway), to Fenchurch St Station, & caught the train for the Royal Albert Docks, arriving on board the "China" at 10 a.m. All were amazed, at the cleanliness & comfort of the ship, not one of us expected any-thing like it. An Advance Party from the 4th Divisional Artillery were on board also. Our work was to get the boat prepared for the "main body" who will embark at Devonport on the 1st May. The majority of the troops will sleep in bunks containing a new mattress, pillow, & three new blankets. All the messing utensils were brand new also. After dinner which was an exceptionally good one, leave was granted till 10 p.m. I took the opportunity of visiting London, & had a last look round the old & historic city. I met quite a number of Pals who had just arrived from the Ambulance in France. Naturally they envied me very much when I

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informed them that I was sailing for "Aussie" in two days time.

At 9 a.m. on the 29th inst. the "China" slowly glided away from the wharf, and at 12 a.m. the following day we arrived at the Docks at Devonport. Whilst passing Folkstone I could just see the cliffs of France on the horizon, & I thought of the vast number of Australians who lie buried, within its shores. The short trip was an uneventful one, although steaming down Plymouth Harbour was rather interesting, as numerous battleships of all sizes & descriptions were on either side of us. Our luck was in again, as leave was granted to go ashore, from 5 till midnight, of course I took the opportunity of visiting Plymouth. The latter is a fine city, and an enjoyable few hours were spent there.

At an early hour on the 1st May, the troops began to arrive, & shortly after dinner all were aboard. The total number of Officers & other ranks on board is 1077. Just before dusk the China slowly steamed away from the docks, and anchored near the entrance to Plymouth Harbour. The trip to the harbour was an interesting one, on each man of war or destroyer, or if only a training ship, the crew would stand to attention for a couple of seconds, and then give us three hearty cheers. The "Aussies" returned the compliment. What with the cheering, the boats sirens making a screeching noise, & the band playing on board the troopship, the trip was one that will never be forgotten.

At last at an early hour on the 2nd May, we started on our journey to Sydney, a distance of 12,473 miles. Soon after leaving Plymouth, Eddystone Lighthouse was passed, & then the "fun" commenced. We were greeted with a heavy sea, and very shortly the majority of the troops on board were "down & out to it". It was an unpleasant sight to see, so many men sea sick. Fortunately I attended all meals, although I did not feel "too clever". I kept moving about most of the day, on the top deck & wore the feeling off. At 5 p.m. the Bay of Biscay was entered & here the weather was not at all pleasant, & very few came along to tea. These conditions continued till about 3 p.m. the following day, & then the sun came out "in all its glory", & every one soon got well again. It was pleasant to sit on the top deck, & enjoy the sea breeze, & knowing that every day brings us

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nearer to home, & those whom we love. Apart from the A.M.C. there was only one chap on board I knew. Roy McVey from Neutral Bay, we left Sydney together on board the "Beltana" in November 1915. The coast of Spain could be seen at 6 p.m.
During the next seven days the weather was beautiful, it was a treat to see the sun for so long. The Y.M.C.A. & the Red Cross were again to the fore, – books, magazines, cigarettes, cards & drafts were available for the troops. A canteen was also opened. The A.M.C. had an easy time, a week out, at sea, & only a dozen patients in the hospital. It is to be hoped that the number will decrease. Most of us sleep in the hospital, which is equally as good as the 1st Class Saloon accommodation. A parade & inspection of the ship is held each day at 11 a.m.. A wireless message was received on Sunday the 4th of May, from General Birdwood - wishing all the troops on board, a pleasant & speedy journey home. That same evening a Divine Service was held on the main deck.

On Monday the 5th of May, I rose early & enjoyed the scenery as we approached the "Strait of Gibraltar". The coast of Spain on our left, & Africa on the right. Being early morning, the cliffs on either side, appeared to be of a greenish colour, producing rather an inspiring effect. The famous "Rock of Gibraltar" was approached at 7.30 a.m.. I noticed that it was very steep & barren looking, & I would not care to live in the place. The inhabitants of which are chiefly fisherman. Of course during the War, the British had the place strongly garrisoned. What a prize this place would have been to Germany – the entrance to the Mediterranean. The weather was beautiful, & to sit on the top deck, with an interesting book, well! what else could a fellow wish for.

A Sports Committee was formed, & they certainly did well, as all kinds of sporting requisites were issued to the troops. It was proposed to hold an Aquatic Carnival, on arriving at Port Said. A cricket match was held each afternoon, on the main deck, & dances held in the evenings in the same place. As there were only five Nurses on board, you can imagine that they did not have any trouble in securing partners. Educational Classes were also established, and every possible thing, is being done, to make the voyage a pleasant and interesting one.

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At 11 a.m. on the 7th inst. we entered a mine field, & every one had their life belts handy. "Stand by Boats", was carried just to see if every-one knew what to do in case of necessity. Land was sighted shortly after dinner, and afterwards we passed quite close to the Island of "Pantekeria". It was only a small place; but, I noticed that the land was under cultivation. Good news in to-days orders to the effect that we were ahead of time, & that we would reach Australia, before a number of troopships that had left England eight days before us.

Port Said was reached at 2.30 p.m. on Saturday the 10th of May, as soon as the "China" anchored near the entrance of the Suez Canal, the scene was a busy one. Boats of all descriptions containing Egyptians, who had goods to sell, surrounded the boat. We saw the usual sight of the native diver, who is well known through-out the world. Quite a number of Light-horsemen visited the ship. The coaling of the boat at night, presented a remarkably weird picture. The heat is making itself felt, after the cold of France & England, & a great number of men on board were suffering from headaches. Of course I must be in the fashion as I had a splitting headache all day. Innoculation against influenza (for the third time) the day before, did not help to improve matters.

Early the next morning the natives were busily coaling the boat, & they are without a doubt, the very essence of filth. A great number of the troops were swimming round the ship through out the day. The Swimming Carnival was held in the afternoon, the following events took place:- Hundred yds. Championship, Fifty yds Championship, Swimming under the water, & Plunge dive. Time would not permit any more events being held as at 5 p.m. we started on our journey again. Another Australian Troopship was anchored near the entrance of the Canal, & the cheers were deafening as we passed her. Of course immediately on entering the Canal, my thoughts wandered back to my six months experience in Egypt. The sunset viewed across the desert from the boat, was of great splendor, a sight that can never be forgotten. I secured a good position on the top deck, and as the night was bright & moonlight, the

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scene of the desert on either side, was inspiring. At 11 oclock the cheering again burst forth as we were passing two "Aussie" Camps, 10th Lighthorse on the left & the 4th Lighthorse on our right. I rose at 5 a.m. on the 12th and the scenery along the banks of the Canal, was magnificent. Picturesque bungalows, or Oriental houses, surrounded by huge palm trees, could be seen. Words cannot describe the different colouring of the desert, as the dawn was breaking. There is without a doubt, a certain fascination about Egypt, and it rightly named, when called the fascinating East. About 6 a.m. we anchored at Port Suez, & more stores were put on board. The Karagola went by, & we gave her a cheer. On again shortly after breakfast, and words fail me to describe the view that met the eye. The Arabian Desert on the right, & Sinai Peninsular on our left, the shores of which were very barren & precipitous; but, the peculiar yellow or golden colouring of the land, was the outstanding feature. Much excitement prevailed on board at 8 oclock in the evening, the Karagola was passed. We had beaten her easily, and the Bank struck up – Good Byee-. Rather adding insult to injury. Some of the old members of the 8th Field Ambulance, were on board her. Gradually the heat is getting severe, & naturally the troops are feeling it, after the cold of England. Our first taste of severe Tropical weather greeted us on the 14th inst. & really the heat was almost unbearable. On either side of the Red Sea are Sandy Deserts, & you can imagine yourself, what the scorching hot winds would be like, blowing from such places. Aden was passed on the 4th day after leaving Suez, & then the weather improved slightly, soon after passing through the Gulf of Aden. It was a great relief to be more in the open – the Indian Ocean, away from the desert winds. Hells Gate near the Island of Perim, was passed about 5 a.m. on the 15th inst. Barren looking places with a lighthouse dotted here & there – the name is rather appropriate. It is rather interesting to mention here, that the "China" ran ashore at Hells Gate 1898, and it was many months, before she was refloated. About mid-night in the Light house at Aden could been seen. That same evening I saw

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the Southern Cross, & welcomed the appearance, as it told, of the near approach to home. The evening of the 16th inst. was a delightfully cool one, and boxing contests were held. A stop of two hours was made in the afternoon, as the boilers needed repairing. I thought there was something wrong, as we had only travelled 358 miles the last 24 hours. All waste foodstuffs were kept after dinner & dumped over board as soon as the boat stopped, & a rifle party were ready to shoot any sharks that came hovering round. Unfortunately, only one was seen, but owing to the excitement of the Rifle party firing too soon, the shark escaped without injury. From the 17th to the 21st, the heat was very great, & only those who have been through the tropics can form any idea of what it is like. The Island of Sokotra was passed on the 17th inst., in fact we were hugging its shores for three parts of the day. Very barren looking country, I would not care to live there. Quite a number of patients were admitted to the hospital, suffering from the heat, & naturally the work of looking after them could not be called a pleasant one. It was really an effort to do any-thing at all. Sports were held on the 18th & 19th of the month, beginning at 2 p.m. each afternoon. The following events took place:- Cigarette race, sack race, three legged race, Egg & spoon race, obstacle race, tub fishing, pillow fight & tug of war. Naturally there was not much room on deck for this kind of enjoyment & a great number of the competitors visited the hospital during the evenings. The chaps on duty in the Dressing Room, were kept hard at it, bandaging up sprains etc. etc..

Each evening the band has given a delightful concert on the Aft Deck, & they deserve great praise, as giving performances during such oppressive weather is rather an unpleasant job.

At 4 a.m. on the 22nd inst. we entered Colombo Harbour, the lights of the boats scattered about, produced a pretty sight, & as day broke, the scenery was magnificent. The coaling of the boat started about 7 a.m. & I noticed that the niggers were a much cleaner race than the Egyptian natives. He seemed to command more respect, & none of the skylarking which took place at Port Said was repeated. The heat became more severe as the boat stopped moving, & it was a great relief to all when leave was granted from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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to all who desired to go ashore. ,At 9 a.m. I visited Colombo with four pals, we engaged a car for two hours, & had a glorious trip around this famous Eastern City. The price charged was "6/- a head", this cannot be called too much, as we saw some of the famous sighs of the World. The first part of the trip was indeed an interesting one a pleasant one, and was full of interest all the way. We drove to Mount Lavinia, a pleasant resort by the sea seven miles out of Colombo. At every turning of the road, something of special note met our gaze - first the busy scene of the main streets of Colombo, then our entry into the Native Quarters, which always has a certain amount of charm about it, through groves of cocoa-nut plantations, & then our arrival at Mount Lavinia, where we had some light refreshments at a typical Oriental Hotel. The view of the sea with the breakers, dashing against the rocks below, was a fine one, & worth going miles to see. The driver of the car could speak good English, so we informed him that we wanted to see all he could take us to, during the two hours. He did his best for us, as on the return journey to the City, we visited various places. I have forgotten most of the names; but, the most important were the Buddist Temple, Victoria Park, & the Cinnamon Gardens. We made a hurried inspection of the former place, & wrote our names in the visitors book. The Eastern Street scene, staged by Oscar Asche in Kismet, & Chu Chin Chow, were not at all exaggerated, but are true in every detail. One would think on seeing the above on the stage, that the numerous bright colouring was carried a little too far. Nothing of the kind - during one portion of the trip, I could not help noticing the great contrast in colours. The road was made of a kind of red gravel, on either side was a wall, stretching for nearly a mile, painted a deep orange colour shade . Then the beautiful palm & cocoa-nut trees all out in green foliage, and last but not least, the pretty residences or bungalows, which were dotted here & there, containing numerous descriptions of lattice work, all painted in different colours. All were pleasant to the eye, & for over a mile we travelled through country like this.

We left the car at 12.30 & dined at a small hotel, the price of the meal was very reasonable. Rickshaws were engaged for

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half an hour after dinner, & a race was held in one of the main streets. These Rickshaws are to be seen everywhere, big perambulators pulled from the front, by natives, who will run with you from one end of the city to the other, for a few pence. Numerous shops were visited during the afternoon, and a few souvenirs of Colombo were purchased. There is certainly a charm walking in and out of the different shops, argueing with the shopkeepers, and being almost surrounded at times in the streets by native children begging for money. An hour was spent at the Y.M.C.A. & at 4 p.m. we made our way, down to the jetty. A pulling boat was hired, & on our way to the China we paid a visit to a Submarine, which was manned by Australian Sailors. It was certainly an interesting inspection; but I don’t envy the life of a sailor who works on a submarine, there is scarcely room to move about. We saw our boat quite plainly from under the water, through a periscope. Arrived on board in time for tea, and we were all satisfied with our days outing. No time was lost in getting away, as at 8 p.m. we started on the last part of our journey:- Next port of call – Australia.

From Thursday the 22nd to Saturday the 31st the trip was an uneventful & monotonous one. Two days travelling from Colombo brought us into cooler weather, and of course this was very acceptable. As we approached Australia, the days seemed to drag slowly by, & every-one was "more or less" tired of the trip. Especially those fellows who were down with sea sickness again. A heavy sea greeted us 72 hours out of Colombo, and lasted for four days. The 25th of the month holds the record in regards travelling, on that day the "China" covered 388 miles. The band still continued to give recitals in the evenings, and their efforts were appreciated. We are expected to arrive at Fremantle on Sunday the 1st June, and I believe that leave is to be granted to go ashore, after the West Australians have disembarked.

1st June 1919. The arrival in Australia.

The above date will be an ever memorable one to me, the day I arrived at Australian shores. As dawn was breaking, the shores of the "Land of Sunshine & Wattle" (to us the only place worth living in) was sighted. Shortly after breakfast the health authorities

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came on board, and an inspection made of the ship. Every man on the boat had his temperature taken, and the result was an excellent one, as the boat was declared "Clean".

Shortly after dinner the "China" steamed along the canal, & anchored about a hundred yards from the wharf. Launches crowded with women & girls, were continually approaching the steamer, and the excitement amongst the troops was great, especially the West Australians who were continually seeing some one they knew aboard the launches. I was a little excited myself, & from all appearances I will not be responsible for my actions when Sydney is reached. As soon as the West Australians (120 all told) disembarked, the troops were allowed ashore. I managed to get in the first launch load, & about 2.30 p.m. I was seated in a Y.M.C.A. on the wharf enjoying a cup of dinkum Aussie tea. The men from the "China" received a good welcome here. Special trains were available to convey us to Perth, and I took the opportunity of visiting the Capital of the West. Although the train trip was only a short one, the scenery at times was pretty. A typical Australian scene, bushy country, with weather board houses dotted here & there. At the buffett in the Botanical Gardens, the men from the China, were welcomed & refreshments would be obtained free of charge.

7 a.m. the following day we started on the journey to Adelaide, and the first days going was good, 378 miles was covered. The days seemed to drag terribly, as practically every-one was counting the days as we got nearer home. Beautiful weather greeted us in the Bight, the sea was like a sheet of glass. The band still came to the fore, & entertained the troops at night.

Four days travelling brought us to Port Adelaide. We arrived at the latter before daylight on Friday the 6th inst. The view of the land was rather pretty, as dawn was breaking. Two more troopships were close by - the S.S. Sardinia & the S.S. Commonwealth. Both these boats left the Mother country before we did. The Health Authorities came aboard, and the same routine was gone through as at Fremantle. The inspection was again a successful one, & at 1.30 the South Australians disembarked

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numbering 132 all told, disembarked. As the tug moved off, the cheers of "Au Revoir" were boisterous, yet genuine. Meanwhile the band was playing Auld Lang Syne. No time was lost, & two minutes after bidding the departing troops farewell, the "good old China", had started on the journey to Melbourne. Rumours told us that we were to be at Port Melbourne at 5 p.m. to-morrow. Evidently the Captain of the ship is determined to over-take the two troopships ahead of us. Whilst anchored at the Port, a mail arrived on board, & I was delighted to receive a telegram from Melbourne. The trip from Port Adelaide to Kangaroo Island was an enjoyable one, the weather was beautiful, and the coast line was looking very fine. It was a typical Australian day, one that makes life worth living. About 3 oclock Cape Jervis was passed on our left, and on the right, a good view of Kangaroo Island was obtained.

Great cheering & whistling occurred amongst our troops, at 9 oclock in the evening, we were passing the Commonwealth at a great rate, and the news that the Sardinia would be passed about mid night, certainly helped to increase the excitement. Our boat "plogged" along, at a great pace, and at 6 p.m. on Saturday the 7th inst. Port Phillips Heads were entered. The distance from Adelaide to Melbourne is 500 miles, so you can judge for yourself, how this "good old steamer of ours" can travel. All through the day we hugged the shores & at 3 p.m. Cape Otway was sighted, and the country in the vicinity was looking very barren. About an hours run from here, signs of habitation were seen, here & there the land was under cultivation.

Entering the Hds. the lights of the town of Queenscliff could be seen on our left, & Point Nepean was seen on the right. Just inside the entrance, we anchored, & at 7 a.m. the following morning, a start was made for Port Melbourne. The 42 miles run was accomplished in good time, & about 10 a.m. we were tied up to the a pier. Admiral Jellico’s Flag Ship was at the opposite side of the jetty. The Naval Reserve Band was in attendance, & rendered some bright music, as the Victorians

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& Tasmanian troops disembarked. There were 229 of the former & 67 of the latter.

The troopship soon filled up again, as Queensland & N.S.W. men off the "Boonah" came on board. Leave was granted for the remainder of the troops on board, from 2 oclock to mid-night. Naturally I was delighted, and immediately went ashore. The crowd outside the wharf was immense, & scores of cars were in the vicinity, all gaily decked with flags. I boarded a train & very shortly found my-self in the heart of the city. Melbourne is a fine old place, & naturally my thoughts "flew" back to the time when the 8th Field Ambulance was camped there. The old fashioned cable tram took me to the Cliffedon Mansions, where I found Vera Ramaciotti on the look out for me from the balcony. Words cannot describe, the joy of our meeting, we were both too excited to speak. I stoped with Clive & Vera till 8 oclock, and I was sorry to leave them so soon; but I had other friends to see. The Neustadt "folk" were greatly surprised when I called at their home at 9 oclock at night. I received a great welcome there, & I was conveyed back to the boat at mid-night by car. It was hard to realize that it was close on 4 years since I saw them last. I enjoyed my few hours leave immensely, and the next day when a start is made for my Home town, I could scarcely control my-self. Only 577 miles to go & then "Home sweet Home".

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The day that I have longed for -, my arrival in Sydney arrived at last. The cherished hope, so often conjured up in my mind, at last reveals itself in glorious reality. How often have I seen visions of Sydney Hds, and tried to imagine what my feelings would be like when the time came to see those Great Hd. Lands, which meant "Home Sweet Home, & those dear to me. At 7 a.m. on Wednesday the 11th June, the entrance to Port Jackson loomed in sight, and words are not needed to describe my excitement as the "S.S. China" steamed into Sydney Harbour. All old familiar spots, such as Bradleys Hd, Mosman, Cremorne etc, I immediately picked out, and on seeing Neutral Bay my home suburb – that put the finishing touch on my feelings. Numerous launches crowded with women folk, approached the boat, & the look of joy on their faces when they described some-one dear to them on board the troopship, was great to see.

After the health authorities had inspected the ship, the most important part of the days doings took place – The landing of the troops at Wooloomooloo Bay, where cars conveyed them to the Anzac Buffett, there to be greeted by friends & relatives. My Parents quickly found me out, & as to the great joy of the "noted" Colley-Priest trio, when this momentous meeting took place – well: it can be left to your own imagination.

This ends the account of my experiences on Active Service, from the 9th November 1915 to the 11th June 1919.

Langford W. Colley-Priest.
8th Australian Field Ambulance,

Sutherland St.
Neutral Bay

[Transcribed by Rosemary Cox for the State Library of New South Wales]