Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
J. E. Morrison diary, 13 October 1917-29 October 1918
MLMSS 2889/Item 1
Detailed account by a merchant marine officer on the Australian troop ship Indarra carrying troops and supplies between Alexandria, Taranto and Marseilles, with vivid descriptions of attacks on the convoys by enemy submarines. From mid September 1918 they left the Mediterranean and sailed in less dangerous waters between Port Said, Basra and Aden. See pages 181 to 184 for index. The Indarra was an Australasia United Steam Navigation Co. passenger vessel of 9735 tonnage, launched in 1912.
See end of transcript for selected spelling corrections]
Dairy of the Late War by J E Morrison
The Diary of the C 810
H.M.A. Transport Indarra
From Oct. 13. 1917 to Oct. 29 1918
P.S. In writing these notes I am perfectly aware of the fact that if it should fall into the enemy’s hands it would be usefull. Well should anything happen it will always be kept in such a position that in the event of capture it will be destroyed. JEM
Laying at N 3 wharf A.U.S.N. Co at Sydney on Sunday morning fire was seen coming out of the ventilators of No. 3 hold. fire hoses connected. Sydney fire brigade sent 3 engins. Goat Island sent 2 fire floats No. 3 hold was flooded with salt water. The hold being pracically full of cargo, general merchantise. The best part was destroyed by the fire
Comm [commenced] – discharging the debris & cargo. All the insolated chambers of freezer under the deck burnt out. Tons of charcoal fell on top of cargo. The whole discharged. The ships side badly burnt it being white hot also The bulkhead between the hold & engin room. Thousands of pounds worth of cargo & also thousands of pounds of damage to the fittings of hold.
4. of the Criminal Investigation Dept. & Lloyd’s surveyors Insurance & A.U.S.N. officials investigating the cause of the fire. No trace of any & cause unknown.
Cargo all discharged. Repair to hold commenced by loyalist. The majority of tradesmen being out on strike.
The strike being caused by the I.W.W. push which effected the whole of Australia.
17 Found thousands of newspapers in bundles in the firemens forecastle. The (Direct Action) the organ of the I.W.W intended to be distributed at Melbourne, Adelaide, Albany, Fremantle & Perth. But the ship was prevented from going on her usual run through the strike. The newspapers proved that the liner had several I.W.W. members on board.
The remains of the cargo at No. 3 was sold on the wharf & realizing about 20% its value.
The liner was commandeered by the Australian government for a transport. The whole of the cargo on board about 5000 tons discharged which was on board three months owing to the strike. In the meantime every hold was throughly examined every day for & in the event of any I.W.W. members having eccess to same.
The liner was towed to Woolich dock for painting & scrubbing the troopship’s bottom. The work having been done by loyalists.
Towed from Woolwich dock to Garden Island. The Federal Government workshop.
During her stay there for 4 weeks, the upper holds were fixed into troopdecks. Extra deck houses fitted, laterines, cooking houses etc. Gun platform fixed & a 4 inch Gun mounted (on of the H.M.S. Phy guns & 100 rounds of 26 lbs shells also practice shots. Two competent gunners Naval put on board in charge of same. A living house built on the poop near the gun for their use. The 3rd class rooms lavatories etc completely abolished also a 3rd of the 2nd class accomadation turned into troop decks. Hundreds of work men employed at different trades.
Wed. Nov. 14
The steamer having been converted into a troop ship left Garden Island (no expense being saved re. the troop’s comfort) for Circular Quay wharf & there loaded 1000 tons of base lead for London.
Sat Nov. 17
At 7am Departed from Sydney for Melbourne. Hundreds of relatives & friends down to see the troopship off. Tears & Kisses flag waving. The Crew consisted of 168 all told (being a reduced number) her normal compliment being 195 on the Australian passengers service.
As we steamed out the ferry boats in Sydney harbor & tugs were blowing their whistles. Merchant ships dipping their flags. When passing through the Heads & leaving behind one of the best harbors in the world, we sighted a good many wives, relatives, sweethearts on the cliffs near the forts waving & wishing us God’s speed.
All on board feeling the parting & also dismal. All going to do our bit to Run the guantlet amongst Fritz ‘s submarines. All brave Britishers otherwise true Australians wondering how long we would be away from our God’s own country. (During our travells found & proved to be the finest white man’s country)
Mon. Nov. 19
At 7am we arrived & made fast at Victoria Dock Melbourne. Whilst there we loaded thousands of bales of wool & cases of preserves also took in 9 months stores for the troops at the front. Every hook & corner filled also. Thousands of bags of mails for the Australian & English Tommies.
It was a sad sight to see the amount of wool & foodstuffs laying at Australia for the want of ships to carry same & yet in Europe the people are in want.
Millions of bags of grain at different ports [?] stacked & rottening.
Whilst here a military Guard placed on board & also on the wharf. The restrictions far greater than at Egypt or Italy. In fact far too much red tape. (Inserted later at Egypt)
The officers of the ship having no authority re anyone coming on board. In fact themselves having to be searched the same as the rest of the crew or outsider. No tacked used whatsoever by the military Although in uniform the guards know each officer by sight yet each time the officer goes on the wharf on buisness, each time he has to show his pass coming & going (exceeding their authority)
Shifted from Victoria dock to Port Melbourne pier – ready for to embark troops. The lot of us crew having had a very enjoyable time of it during our stay at Melbourne of 8 days.
Mon. Nov. 26.
The Troopship inspected by the Naval autouties & Military. They passed the remark that she was the cleaniest & best equipped that left Australia. No doubt as the fittings of the Indarra excels anything that ever visited Australia in the passenger point of view & similar regards officers & troops.
At 10 am We commenced taking in troops 1100 all told including (Sisters 57) officers & men. The were lined on the pier for an hour. Bands playing, flags waving & about 3000 relatives & friends to see them off.
The troops were on board in an hour. Then the relatives & friends were allowed alongside the steamer. The ships side lined with hundreds of paper tape of all colors. The bands played The patrotic music. A sight one should & never would forget. hundreds of the troops singing all aus & Hoorah etc. Their relatives probably fathers, mothers & sisters shedding tears. A good many even fainting as the Indarra hauled away from the wharf. The colored tapes held until a hundred feet or so off the wharf & severed the connection between the troopship & Dear old Australia.
These particular men were without a doubt & without an exception the pick of Australia of mostly the Australian Imperial Royal Artillery from all the states N.S.W. S.A. W.A.. Queensland & Tasmania.
As we steamed away We could see the crowd on the pier still waving until all became dim. Night came on (having passed through the Melbourne heads at 3pm). The 1st night at sea & bound away with no idea where our destination would be or how long we should be away from those
dear relatives & friends. Crossing the bight known as the Great Bight of Australia every one setteled down. Each one served with a life belt & told off to their respective boats. The trip across to Albany proved to be lovely. fine weather prevailed & arrived in Albany in due time.
Fri. Nov. 30
11pm Arrived at Albany & dropped anchor in King George’s Sound West Australia. Here we took in coal & sent our mail away. A few of the W.A. troops were allowed away to see their relatives (as regulation prevented this they were sent ashore on mail patrol)
2pm We lifted up anchor & departed from the last port of call in Australia with no escort & bound for Colombo Ceylon. We had fair weather all the way over & had some very gay times. Troops drilling during the day, all deck occupied for same. In between on boat deck all kinds of games cricket, deck billiards, boxing contests & tugs of war, jumping & running. Every night until 9pm concerts on deck. Splendid singing & choures. The sisters proved them selves very agreeable & every one enjoyed themselves immensely.
We crossed the equator, great preparations having been made re Neptune (Father).
In fact had it been arranged by a Theatrical Company it could not have been staged any better. Having a large tank made of canvas on the after deck, Father Neptune & his wife dressed up as such came from the forcastle head with much ceremony his followers dressed up as Indians with large wigs & whiskers. A matter of 20 Non Coms & men took part.
They marched to the Tank, names were called out . Majors, Captains, Lieut & privates were all treated alike all given some colored medicine & large pills made of a (mystery ) Lathered with a mixture of flour & water & shaved with a razor measuring 4 ft.
Then thrown bodily into the canvas water tank & submerged. few doctors & parsons were treated similar. In the event of those whose names were called out not turning up Father Neptune’s followers went sent out & searched the ship for them. These men so disguised & face & legs blackened some having ladies clothing on. It was very amusing & the whole farce lasted 3 hours to the satisfaction & amusement of every one.
Dec. 13 1917
11am Arrived at Colombo. The troops were given shore leave in batches of hundreds sight-seeing etc. & the troopship commenced coaling & took in water.
The sisters 50 left & were sent on to another BI Duneria steamer bound to Bombay.
7 Sisters only remaining. Transport section those attached to the troopship. Well the Sisters left after much hand shaking & waving of flags. Some even shed tears. The steamer they were transferred on being comfortable yet far inferior to the Indarra. The troops waved until the British India Duniera was out of sight.
The coaling finished having taken on board 1500 tons of coal & 800 tons of water. We departed on another trip after completing 6000 miles or more to Colombo as the distance & tracks are longer than in Peace time. Well we found out after we are bound for The Suez Canal Egypt. The trip being much the same as from Albany to Colombo.
Boat drill occasionally every one appearing with life belts on. Army drill & marches. Marching songs sung. Those troops could sing splendid. Games concerts every night. The Y.M.C.A. found a piano. Yet the Indarra boasts of 6 of her own. This society proved itself very good to the troops. Helping them in every way possible.
Sundays Church Services having a R.C. priest aboard. Church of Eng. minister, Non-conformist & Y.M.C.A. Each one held services in different parts of the ship & each had a good audience & very well patronized. Singing splendid. The meals arranged. All officers & Sisters dinned in the 1st Saloon. Sisters together at one end of the Saloon.
Military & ships officers at the other end. The pomp kept up during war time which is no doubt rediculous viz. Saloon dinner 6.30 pm. Nurses line up one side of entrance of 1st Saloon. Officers on the other awaiting the Captain & O.C. to come down. often late, 10’ or so to wait then in they go. All follow. Standing up prayers & then meal. All has to wait for the O.C. to finish he gets up, all get up as if a bomb struck the ship.
Well considering it is war time & going through the submarine zone. Everyone should spend the least time possible for meals & spend all their spare time in a handy spot for the boats in case of emergency.
Personally I have a captain R.C. priest & two Lieut at my table being one of the officers the waiters & refered to them re this pomp which is unnecessary. Those mentioned are very agreeable persons & having sat with them for 6 weeks I found them to be splendid Britishers & Australians & all agree with me re the fallacy.
Well sailing at night all lights out. Not a sign of a light anywhere otherwise than at the Binocle compass for the Steerman. The lookout’s posted gunners taken on in watches. Shells & charges in the 4 inch all but the cap. All ready for emergesy. Gun crews drill 24 charges & shells in racks near same.
Through the darkness of the night eyes straining for the smallest visible object. Wireless room manned by three wireless operators. Every precaution taken. All boats swung out & lowered down as near the water as possible with safty. 15 lifeboats & 1 dingy. All provisioned with 1 cwt of hard buiscuits, 10 galls of water, bully beaf, tins of milk oil & lamps etc. All ready for the fray.
The dismal night wears out & daylight appears again for with 1100 troops & 168 of a crew would be a good prize for a Fritz sub or raider.
The meals are equal to our best hotels in Australia 1st Saloon 15 courses. 2nd Saloon Non. Com. officers 10 courses. The troops plenty of wholesome food in fact no complaints.
At 6pm smoke was sighted on the horizon two points on our port bow. A matter of 10 miles off. at 6/30 pm we could make out the masts & funnels. The stranger heading direct for us. So we altered our course five points to starboard. The stranger did the same viz. altered his course direct for us. We again altered our course another 4 points then going at right angles to our proper course viz. 90°. Speed about 13 Knots 14 miles an hour. 72 Revolutions (on both propellors
After altering our courses the stranger was now nearly astern & gaining on us. darkness came & he was about 4 miles off. We increased our speed & called the firemen who were off duty & put a double lot at the furnesses. Our speed in a matter of 15 minutes increased to 17 Knots & then to 18 Knots about 20 miles an hour. Revolutions on both engins 92. The troopship vibrating & going for all she was worth. We soon lost sight of him & continued at that speed during the night. All troops on deck with probably 500 glasses straining there eyes to see if they could see anything.
After at daybreak not a thing visable. We sent a wireless out & sent word of this stranger’s movements. We found out after as we had suspected that she was a raider. She was sighted & sunk by gunfire by one of the English auxilary cruisers. We all thanked God for the speed we had otherwise we would have been a easy prey for him. We proved the above statement re the raider from the Naval Authorities at Port Said.
Nothing of importance happened until we got of the Island of Perim . We were chalanged by a British Patrol cruiser Sent an officer on board satisfied we were all right & steamed again up the Red Sea towards Suez. We had a splendid trip up the Red Sea
passed Aden. there was trouble there the natives up in arms. Some British men of war & aeroplane ships some settled their differences. In which one of the British Pilots was shot in his machine dead. The observer who was with him we invited him on board for dinner. Well as King told us when he returned (King was a hydroplane pilot of N.Z. & directed the firing from the seaplane) & notified the flag ship. a few 6 inch shells told, a few hundred suffered the death penalty, besides the destruction of the main part of the village not far from Aden.
Thurs. Dec 21st
At 7 am this day we arrived at Suez & sent to the wharf & discharged all the Egypt mail & all the Australian troops. We were sorry to lose them. They proved such fine chaps.
10 am disembarked bid them good bye. From Melbourne to Suez we had 6 in hospital which is a record & no trouble with any in fact the ajutant told me no cases of misdemeanour throughout the trip, which is a credit to our Australia. A better behaved lot could not be expected of the Salvation Army. The same day at 5pm we left for Port Said with the Suez Cannal pilot in charge. We steamed through at regulation speed & whilst on the bridge on watch the pilot pointed out where 7000 Turks were killed & buried also the wooden crosses over the graves of the German officers. We passed the place within a few yards
where the Turks
tried to cross the cannal in pontoons which they brought over the desert. Supposed to be 20,000 of an army. The spot where the English soldiers were hiding on the opposite bank & Indians. How they let the Turks man their pontoons hundreds of them then, destroyers came along at high speed shelled same all those in the punts perished the Battleships opened fire with their 14 inch guns & killed thousands leaving behind all their camels & guns & ammunation. The Cannal is lined with barbed wire practically the whole length of it on the North side.
We arrived at Ismailia at 1 am & changed pilots.
9.30 am we arrived at Port Said discharged our Egypt cargo & also all London & Italian cargo there. We moored opposite the Hydroplane headquarters & had the pleasure of seeing those birds fly & desend all day long. Whilst here we met the chief officer of an British Hydroplane steamer. A Kangaroo Island chap & went on board & had a good look at the Hydroplanes. They had some stowed on deck formally having been on the Palestine front (sea side) also through the Dardanelles. We invited him on board for dinner & some of the Hydroplane pilots one being Australian & the other New Zealand. They having about 12 Planes Lieut. on board & heard facts re the Dardanelles campaign & also re the Gaza bombardment.
The Melbourne pilot flew over the gun that fired at the French Cruiser & killed 36 men & put her out of commission. She is laying here at Port Said at present. We hear of a British monotor & a torpedo destroyer having moored for the night inside of submarine proof nets. The both were torpedoed whilst at anchor.
A French oil steamer passed within a few feet of us & when about 400 ft. away a terrible explosion occured on board. The oiler caught fire & she burnt close to the shipping for 2 days. Several explosions occured. The magazine blew up & a piece of iron was blown from her on top of the Exchange Hotel a matter of 500 yards away. All the windows within a radius of ¼ of a mile were all shattered.
My self & other officers being at the Navy house having a lecture on gunnery & on submarines when we heard a terrible explosion the windows of the building fell out & the Lieut. Commander in Charge remarked that the Huns were at it again. Meaning enemy airoplanes.
Well we all rushed out & found it to be a French oil tank steamer on fire. Several of the crew was burnt to death & several injured. The captain & pilot jumped overboard were burnt badly but saved. Whilst on fire some of us officers passed her within a few yards in a boat & saw one of the crew with his head & arm out of one of the forcastle ports. Burnt to death. A horrible sight.
The monotors & destroyers laying near let go their moorings & cleared. The navy men & cannal tugs done their best but water was of no use to prevent her burning as there were about 5000 tons of oil on board in cases.
Sun Jan 20
2pm The Navy authorities came alongside & ordered us to get steam up as soon as possible & proceed inland through the cannal to Ismailia as the German cruisers Goeben & Breslau were out of the Dardanelles & possibly on their way to bombard Port Said. We got up steam & at 6pm news came through that the Breslau was sunk & that the Goeben had struck a mine & the Germans ran her ashore off the Narrows in the Dardanelles. So that all the danger being over we remained at our moorings. Then we heard the sad news of the Monotor Raglan & M. Class [M28] having been sunk & hundreds of lives lost by the Goeben German cruiser.
Sun Jan 27
We were ordered to proceed to Ismalia a harbor midway in the cannal for safty. So left at 6am & proceeded passing the Cantaira headquarters in fact the base for all Palastine operations. Whilst steaming through the cannal we saw thousands of high explosive shells stowed on the banks of the cannal ready for sending up by rail to Palastine, the English having built a railway to Jerusalum during the operations.
We passed hundreds of Turkish prisoners on the banks well guarded & seemed to be well contented with their lot. We arrived at Ismailia at 5pm & dropped anchor. A military guard was sent aboard with instructions that no one was allowed to leave the ship for the shore, letters or otherwise no communication whatsoever. We wondered if they took our Australian troopship for foreign or was it because conscription failed at Australia.
Our Captain wrote a letter on behalf of himself & the crew of the Canberra to the General in charge of the district & protested against such a drastic regulation. It meant we could not receive our home letters nor send any. Next day a Military officer came off & apoligised & said all of us were at liberty to go to Ismalia & that there had been a misunderstanding. Well we did go ashore. Some went to the Australian soldiers camp & rode on camels, others up the town. As per usual everything was dear & all looked up the Australian as if he had more money than brains. The Jippos are out to make money, does not care who wins & not trustworthy hence the twenty’s of thousands of troops kept here otherwise they would no doubt cause trouble.
This is a country of cheap colored labor the result everything 250% dearer than Australia.
A large [indecipherable] ocean grayhound one of the Trans Atlantic Transport Co. Minitonka 16,500 left the same day for the Mediterean & sent without an escort much to the Transport Naval’s discredit. She was sunk by Fritz’s submarine & all the officers taken prisoners. Another blunder on the Naval Authorities part. What a shame to send a ship of her class with troops across the Med - knowing the place is swarmed with submarines. Again another blunder. The Aragon one of the Royal Mail line of Southhampton with our 2000 troops on board escorted with a destroyer called the Attack were on their way into Alexandria from Taranto after going into the channal 6 miles off the Port. Red tape ordered them out again & to come in through another channel. Well after going seawards again & proceeding about 8 miles out she was torpedoed, sunk with over 2000 troops aboard. The Attack the destroyer was also sunk by the same submarine whilst saving those off the Aragon struggling in the water. About 600 lives were lost some say 850.
The Aragon Captain on the bridge so the 2nd officer of her told our Captain. Shouted to the Commander of the destroyer as the Aragon was sinking that he would demand a enquiry re. ordering him out after reaching a place of safty. With that the Captain jumped overboard from the
bridge & was never seen again. The losses consisted of crew, troops & nurses. The Chief Engineer of the Destroyer Attack was sent over by us from Alexandria to Taranto. He said he was floating in the water for an hour & saved by a patrol trawler & very bitter re. the management of the sad affair.
Again within 24 hours a troopship Osmania was either mined or torpedoed a few miles from the Aragon. About 400 lives were lost & about 48 sisters. Another very sad affair. We passed within a few yards of them & could see the mast & yard of the Osmania quite plain. Since bodies have been picked up on the beach by the dozens daily. A frequent occurance to see torpedoed ship’s crew return to port, some having been out only a few hours & several of our fine & large ships sunk in fact too numerous to mention.
We went ashore & were shown around by the Military probably the largest bakery in the world. Daily output 240,000 loaves per day. The base for the Palastine troops truck loads of bread sent up to the firing line daily. The bakery covered a space of ½ a square mile. Saw Pompey’s Pillar a marble monument 160 ft high the largest solid stone of its kind in the world erected 2000 years ago. Also the catacombs, tombs & mummies at the Museum of the old Egyptian relecks of 2 to 3000 years old.
The town of Alexandria like Port Said. Some streets clean but narrow, but on the whole narrow, dirty & filty & great poverty. Native cafes similar. Least said the better.
Left Ismalia (on Sunday) & per usual for (very peculear each shift happens on Sunday) Port Said through the Suez Cannel. Passed some Australians camped on the bank. As soon as they saw we were an Australian ship they sang out Wish you were going the other way. How is Sydney.
5pm moored at Port Said.
Left Port Said 10am for Alexandria & steamed out to end of swept channel so as to form the convey. We were the 1st ship out & proceeded 12 miles from Port out of the swept channel. Signals by Hellograph to return to port as soon as possible. Full speed turned around & back for all we were worth with 2 destroyers following. Everyone asking one another what is the reason etc. No one seemed to know. A party asked me. I said “Fritz”. In we went for all we were worth after being away 4 hours & remoored for the night. Found out afterwards a nest of submarines were awaiting for us within a few miles.
Sun Feb 5
Left Port Said again under coney we being the guide & leading ship. Indarra, Canberra, Omrah & Hamm. Conveyed by 2 Greek destroyers & one British sloop.
Convey was formed outside at 2pm & then we proceeded. Zig zag during the day & straight course during the night. Covering twice the usual distance from Port to Port. The destroyers who were in command of British Commander & the sloop did splendid.
Arrived at Alexandria 2.30pm. Everyone on the elert when we passed the remains of the Aragon, Osmania & Attack.
Moored with anchors & shore. crew granted shore leave. The Jippo boatman was one of Lord Kitchener’s soldiers formally & posessed 2 medals from the Soudaneese Campaign. A very interesting person who could speak splendid English for a Egyptian. He told his he had 3 wifes & 16 children according to the custom of the country. We told him he was a brave man for a Britisher could only manage one (wives in Egypt are little better off than slaves)
Boat drill all boats lowered & pulled around the harbor.
Shifted from our moorings to the wharf to embark English officers & troops.
Left wharf for anchorage with 2000 troops.
Orders to proceed to see 2 Japanese destroyers escorting us.
Noon. orders cancelled. Orders to remain in port until furter notice.
2pm. Took aboard from a lighter 68 troops going to England on compassionate leave.
Feb 22 1918
Left Alexandria for Taranto escorted by a British destroyer Bassilan. The Jap escort cancelled. It appears the Light Cruiser Liverpool armed speed 30 knots was leaving the same day with the Duke of Connought & staff aboard after being at Egypt decorating the soldiers with medals. She had about 40 guns of all calabre. Well the 2 Jap destroyers were taken from us & sent to convey the Cruiser. The English officers on board our ship were very bitter considering we were full of troops & having sent over with a small destroyer instead 0.8. with all due respects to this destroyer.
We zig zag day & night as the moon was full. The 2nd & 3rd day out it blew a heavy gale of wind. We had to ease down as the destroyer was sometimes completely under water our speed reduced to 9 knots. The 3rd night out whilst on the bridge on watch at 9pm we shipped some sea forehead & stove in all the ventilators on the forecastle head. So eased down to 5 knots so as to allowed the sailors to repair the damage & shift the wreckage. It took 2 hours. The destroyer was awful. Sea all over her. rouling & pitching. In fact they must have been exceptionally good sailors to stand it. So we eased down again so as to give him a chance.
Although going slow through the night, at 6 am we sighted 2 points on our bow. What appeared to be a conning tower. So altered our course & steered for same with the idea of ramming it when we steamed within 100 yards or so. The sea were mountains high. We found it was a dummy periscope on a floating mine set by the submarines. Another method of murdering by the huns. So put our helm hard over & cleared same by a few yards. Had we touched we would all have no doubt perished for our boats could not be lowered in such a sea.
The destroyer could not be seen anywhere so at 8am the Captain decided to go back & see if we could find the destroyer for it might have met with an accident as the Med- is full of mines & submarines. At 9am we saw the destroyer steaming for all she was worth & appeared O.K. So signal & turned around again & proceeded towards Taranto. Everyone rejoicing to find our escort safe. Then the 0.8. signaled proceed 14 knots as we were steaming towards the entrance of the Gulf of Taranto & wind & sea decreasing to mod. breeze. The Destroyer signaled utmost speed & sharp lookout for submarines
& dummy periscopes. We gradually increased our revolutions from 78 to 90 on both propellors. Averaging 16 ½ knots about 18 miles per hour & yet plenty of steam. Blowing off steam (surplus) throughout. Again our escort signalled ½ knot faster if possible. Still zig zagging 30 ° each side of our mean course. We were going along the maximum speed of 17 knots. The steamers sides being foul, 6 months out of dock & laying so long in Port caused the weed to grow very fast. We sighted Taranto at 3pm & passed through the mine field off the entrance. The destroyer piloting also guided by a Italian destroyer who met us 15 miles outside. We anchored at 5pm at & off Taranto much to our satisfaction & every one contented with his lot. This was a great risk to cross with one destroyer as the Med- at this time was full of subs.
The day before arrival we received a S.O.S. a steamer having been blown up 62 miles ahead of us. Several warnings by wireless re. submarines on our track. Another cargo boat 6 miles on our port side which we passed & escorted by a destroyer the same day was sunk by Fritz. So far we have heard no details re. lives lost. We met a Cruiser & 2 distroyers. Italians making
for them. Otherwise we soon lost sight of all. On arrival we decided to signal our escort destroyer the 0.8. & invit the Commander & officers & engineers aboard for dinner. An hour after at 6.30pm they came aboard & dinned with us & the Military officers. They were the Heroes of the day. All our Military officers & ourselves were highly pleased to see them & much fuss were made of them. For as we expected they did not have a meal for 3 days otherwise than buscuits & Bully beef. All their drinking water spoilt by salt water during the gale. The Chief engineer of her I had up in my cabin along with our own officers. He said the reason we lost sight of them it appears one of their forhead scuttles was washed away. 20 tons of water got down the chain locker. The water being 6 feet above the valve they could not possible pump it out. Their condenser for the main turbines temporary broke down. It was opened, they found some of the tubes were burst. It meant stopping the engins & repair commenced. They plugged some of the tubes with wood & as he said it was nearly a matter of being towed into port by the Indarra it being terrible weather throughout.
Being a vessel with three turbines capable of doing 25 knots in fair weather after the repairs it took her all her time to do 18 knots. With all due respect to those on board she was useless re being of any help to us. We could have reached our destination 8 hours earlier had we been on our own.
They suffered heavily at Taranto during the gale. Lighters full of cargo & tug & water boats sunk. Thousands of pounds of property lost.
Arrived at Taranto.
Discharged all the troops into lighters & mail & they left the following day by rail to England via Cherbourg, the British government having built a line from here through Italy & France since the war commenced.
We shifted from the outer harbor into the inner harbor which is well protected by mines. The inner harbor of Taranto being a fine harbor & there we passed 8 dreadnoughts Italian. Splendid ships with 13. 14 inch guns. Also passed one of their latest dreadnoughts Julues Ceasar capsized bottom up. The pilot told us she capsized through her ports having been left open.
We also heard a rumour that she blew up. Anyhow, they were salvaging her yet it happened a few years ago. The mystery (censured)
They have a fleet of British fleet in here light cruisers. Also a few French cruisers. They use their old cruisers as troopships. A very good idea as then they have several guns to protect themselves against submarines & also a speed of over 20 knots. Here we seen a novel type of British submarines as decoy ships, a body of a steamer built above the submarine. But from all accounts they have not proved successful, three of them are laying within a few yards of us.
Com. loading airoplane machines tents & stores for Egypt for Palastine.
Embarked 60 airoplane cadets & 65 sisters & 40 military officers just arrived last night by rail from England. Had lunch in the 1st saloon along with them. Several of the sisters smoking cigarettes at the tables to the disgust of the ships officers. As mentioned before we had 58 Australian sisters on board for 5 weeks. Without an exception I did not see one of them smoke not even on deck. Before dinner the same day large placards No Smoking hung in the 1st saloon dinning room.
The Social Hall & Music room 1st saloon which is very elaborate & always whilst on the passenger service reserved for ladies & non smokers having a splendid & well ventilated smoke room. In fact few steamers afloat are so well fitted out as the Indarra. Yet this day ladies & military officers were smoking in the Music room & consequently stopped.
They say the Australian troops are lack of discipline. Well having the experience with both British & Australians I should certainly say that the Australians could show them an example, for it is pactically an insult to have to placard in Dinning rooms & Music rooms with No Smoking. It reminds one of the Gods at a Theatre. Three of these ladies are Medical doctors. Instead of being on war service really one would think you were in Gay Paree or West End of London.
The British Authorities are running this Taranto re. the troops cargo etc. they having their own lighters motor launches & tugboats & West Indian negroes. British dockers doing the labourg work & from what I have heard the British Government are paying the Italians £1000000 per year for the use of a portion
of the harbor besides Pilot, harbor dues etc. so that the Italian Government are making money out of it. The Naval officers here are all Merchant men in the Navy for the duration of the war as they have proved themselves superior in the handling of cargo & handling of troopships in Port & labour. In fact they are holding themselves responsible for all work, the ships officers telling them the run of the ship.
This day took in 3000 bags of mail for Egypt. So that it will be a treat for the troops over there when we arrive & praying that Fritz will miss this prize.
Sunday. Day spent playing deck billiards & quiots along with the sisters. They appear to be or at least the majority very agreeable & quite pleased with the bill of fare having just come out from England.
Embarked all the troops 1600 all told. 3pm Life belt drill & boat drill. All troops praded with belts on also the 6 lady doctors & sisters. Also shipped 200 blue jackets.
Left Taranto at 7am for Alexandria. Escorted by aux. cruiser Snafell & two Japanese distroyers. Everything gay & splendid until the next day.
Blowing a mod. gale. Escort signals to 10 knots. The aux cruiser could not steam above 5 miles an hour against the gale so dropped astern of us about 8 miles. Consequently we had to reduce our speed. This particular boat was built for 22 knots with 3 geared turbines.
Still blowing a gale. The Seefell shipped a heavy sea. burst up her forward hatches. No. 1 hold flooded. So she was practically stopped & we had to ease down.
Gale abating. Made good progress averaged 16 knots. Zig zagging during the day & straight courses during the night.
When leaving Taranto & entering the narrow entrance a Italian Dreadnought followed us & signalled us to stop so that he would go out first into the outer harbor. Going out on a joy ride for gun practise. We having 2000 troops aboard & our escort leading we took it as an insult, as had it been a British man of war he would have given a troopship the preference in narrow waters. Our Captain was
Throughout the trip 2 armed Naval Blue jackets for each boat told off night & day standing by the life boats in case of a rush & panic.
3pm off Alexandria 20 miles out we were met by a hydroplane, a baloon towed by a monotor, 5 trawlers besides 3 British Cruisers which surrounded us & escorted us into the harbor through the swept channels & mine fields. Passed a large oil tank steamer which had been on fire & flooded yet afloat. It happened 3 days ago. We anchored at 6pm outer harbor.
Shifted to the disembarkation wharf & landed all our troops into railway carriages. Some bound for India Palastine Egypt & German East Africa. All sorry that they are leaving the Indarra.
At night met a few officers they said they had bully beef, buscuits & tea after leaving the ship in Camp. Said they would like very much to have some more meals on the Indarra.
Sunday. As per usual discharging cargo troop stores, airoplanes & munitions. This day drove all over Alexandria with our engineer officers & some sisters had a splendid time.
Had orders to be ready for sea on 12th.
Embarked all the troops & at 3pm left the wharf. Met the Escort ouside. Sloop Wallflower, Collier torpedoed near the breakwater. Managed to get into habor afloat. 200 bluejackets amongst the troops. Total 2000 troops
Naval signal men on navigation bridge the one assisting me was on the Cruiser Sydney when she sunk the Cruiser Emden having been 4 years on her & having been to Australia from the North Sea on 6 weeks leave. Others off the Encounter & were on board the German raider Sealander when she grounded on one of the Pacific Islands. They told me she had 4.1 guns & well supplied with ammunation. One of the guns were sent on the American liner Sonoma to San Francisco. Also news received that the crew of the Burns Phillip Mutunga were brought back to Sydney having been captured by the Sealander & that the Japs Cruiser & Encounter recaptured same when the Germans were trying to convert her into a raider.
Whilst on watch this day sighted broken water & foam. Then a huge object just awash astern. We trained a 4.1 inch gun on same but could not fire as the Sloop of War was in the way. So we signalled & the H.M.S. Wallflower made for it & rammed it. It proved to be a whale.
Lovely trip. Calm not a ripple on the water so far. A bad day for us re submarines. Zig Zag day & night as the nights being as bright. It mean 10% loss off the total distance travelled yet a splendid way of fooling a submarine. Our Sloop of War is camilflaged yet from experience it does not prove to be of much value. We are steaming at 15 knots as these sloops are not capable of steaming faster.
Met some chaps off the Howard Smith’s line Cycle & the Wiltshire just out from Australia. So we were pleased to hear of the latest local news. The Wiltshire having brought troops & nurses & escorted as far as Colombo by the Encounter & to Suez by 2 Japanese destroyers. When on the boat deck this day I had a long yarn with General Freeman who is going to Europe after doing service in India & Mesopotamia with his staff.
On the bridge this day on my watch I had 2 Australian naval signalmen. Quite a treat to have a yarn with same
re the Australian Navy. Also some of them being on the Sydney when the Emden was sunk.
Arrived at Taranto. Met by a Italian destroyer & trawlers 6 miles out at
10 am Anchored at outer harbor.
3 pm hove up & proceeded through the narrow entrance to the Inner Harbor opposite the British Military base & moored to a bouy.
5 pm Troops all disembarked into lighters.
7 pm All troops & baggage away. Whilst on the way into inner harbor we passed our Escort Sloop Wallflower. Semephored that she had engine trouble & wish us to report same to H.M.S. Queen, the flagship battleship, that she could not come inside this day. Conveyed signals to H.M.S. Queen re same.
All European mails discharged into lighters 2000 bags. Received a letter this day from a officer which we brought over with us from Australia, they having been sent from Suez via Alexandria & Taranto to Salisbury Plain England. During this trip we Zig Zag all the way night & day. On arrival we passed the Camberra at [sketch of anchor]. Also the Lismore Castle Tagus & Kaiser I Hind troopships. The latter having 6 inch gun & 2 Howtizers capable of firing a depth charge 2000 yards & exceedingly effective against submarines.
We also heard the sad news re the White Stag line Adriatic 25,000 & the Glencore Castle hospital ship having been sunk. The Lismore Castle had her keel blown off by a Torpedoe on the way across from Alexandria & also a cargo steamer. Both managed to reach port for repairs. The Italian dreadnoughts when passing their bands played & hundreds of sailors lined up on the Quarter decks. Probably in honour of the 200 blue jackets we had aboard from Alexandria in transit to England from Monotors on the Euphratus at Mesopotamia of which good work as been done by same.
The harbor of Taranto is full of ships of war Italian Brittish & French from dreadnoughts to small submarine motor chasers. Hydroplanes flying over the harbor in all directions.
As writing these lines there is a air raid. Guns firing from battleships cruisers & destroyers, as well as land batteries. Shells bursting over head in all directions. Quite a lively time for 15 min. Italian Hydroplanes flying in all directions like birds. Instead of being under cover everyone out exposed anxious to see the results (an Austrian Raid)
Comm. loading airoplane engins & propellors, transport waggons, field stoves & tents & all requirements for the battlefields at Palastine & Mesepotamia.
Sunday. Still working cargo field requirements
Still taking in battle field requirements.
Great distlay of Hydroplanes (Italian) flying low & around & over the transports. Engins making a fearful noise. The electrician sent to the hospital having been formally 12 months at the front & discharged with Nerveous breakdown. The old complaint came on again when steaming through the Submarine Zone. A fireman fell down the bunkers a distance of 25 ft & badly fractured his legs. Also a soldier fell down the hold about the same time. Both sent ashore to the hospital.
Our chief gunner Wells left today on transfer to H.M.A.S. Melbourne. Sent by rail from Taranto to Cherbourg France & across Channel to England.
Finished loading cargo. Every available space filled & 3000 bags of mail for Eastern Front. Troop decks being cleaned out by West India Soldiers ready for embarkation of troops. These soldiers with white corporals & sargeants are used for all cargo & labor work. Motto. They do lots of work in a very long time.
Embarked 200 officers 800 troops & three sisters. Awaiting for some more tomorrow. A third of these officers are for India the rest for Egypt.
News this day of 14 steamers being sunk by submarines in the Adriatic. The H.M.S.
light cruisers Bristol & Dartmouth chased the submarines. The Dartmouth managed to get in a matter of 100 mls north of Taranto. The transport Rose arrived to day with bow stove in having collided with the transport name unknown the latter sunk. A dog on board our ship one of the survivors of the sunk ship. In our compliment this trip we have 100 bluejackets. At luncheon this day the troops from England says it is the 1st good meal they have had for many a week. Yet our bill of fare is cut down 100% Being surrounded by ships having been torpedoed & sunk it makes a man think & hardens one’s heart. We all feel on board like killing all Germans in cold blood.
News through that the Brittish have advanced at the Western front by using some new kind of gas. Also of the Yanks having built very large & extensive factories in Scotland for building airoplanes.
New gun layers told off today & naval stokers for our furnaces & signalmen for the navigation bridge. Also bluejackets with loaded rifles & fixed bayonets told off for each boat & raft to prevent the rushing of boats in the event of being torpedoed.
We are now four months away from Sydney. Honestly it appears like 2 years with the strain & responsibility. How we all wish that some perfect means could be invented to locate & destroy these submarines. It gets on ones nerves. Dozens of Hydroplanes flying over us every day making a thundering noise. Battleships cruisers destroyers sloops submarines & troopships. The huge cost to be paid by the public after the war. Life in Europe after the war will be a burden. The sensiable working man will emigrate to the Colonies later as the taxation will be enormous.
Four months away from Australia 97% of the crew have received no letters & all are very disappointed. May be through ships being torpedoed as all our Sydney mail come via London G.P.O.
The remaining troops embarked this day. General boat muster & all ready for sea. 1700 troops of all ratings. Orders to weigh [sketch of anchor] tomorrow morning & proceed to Alexandria with escort. Lifebets boat & raft sations inspected by ship’s Captain officers & Lieut. Iscoe of the D.N.T.O. Staff (shore)
9 am Departure Troopship Indarra & Tagus Renaid. Brittish destroyers. Nanagi & Hinoke
Japanese destroyers escorting. Speed 12 knots Zig Zag on account of the Royal Mail steamer Tagus being slow consequently Indarra steaming ½ speed throughout. Dirigible flying & leading the way for 10 miles with the assistance of 2 trawlers towing mine sweepers & 2 Italian destroyers.
10 miles off Taranto in the Gulf submarine reported near & as per usual floating mines & dummy pericopes. Troops all on deck with their life belts on. 2 Navy signalmen on duty on navigation bridge. A submarine sighted 30 miles out. Brittish destroyer Renard steamed full speed at same. 26 knots, 30 miles an hour.
Fired 30 rounds from 4 inch guns. Hit same then dropped 3 depth charges of T.N.T. Sunk submarine picked up 4 survivors which proved to be a Italian submarine which left under escort of trawlers & lost sight of same being on his own. He had no right to be in that locality so consequently the Brittish destroyer ran no risk & was justified in sinking same yet sad.
Noon. 300 miles from Taranto. 10 am this morning 280 miles direct from Taranto S.O.S. Steamer War ___ sunk, cargo boat, by a submarine distance 55 miles from position of Indarra. Message picked up by wireless.
Several messages re. submarines seen within 60 miles. Fine weather sea moderate & splendid escort of 3 destroyers. Troops mustered again for boat raft & lifebelt drill. Met aboard this day a Naval relief crew for the auxilary cruiser Suva (one of this company’s steamers) now at Port Said. Also news by wireless re the Germans push at the Western front & of thousands of them mowed down by machine guns.
Fine weather. Still on the Zig Zag. Submarine warnings as usual. Had to ease down again this day as the H.M.T. Tagus could not keep up with us. This Tagus cannot steam more than 13 knots.
9 am off the swept channel Alexandria. Met by airoplanes ballons towed by monotors. All hands ordered to wear life belts. Capt. on bridge with his on & all officers & crew.
0.30 pm Pilot aboard & proceeded to Military wharf & made fast & com. [commenced] disembarking troops.
All the troops disembarked this day & at 2 pm comm.. discharging cargo & mails.
8 pm one of the Ordinance soldiers fell overboard & sunk as a stone. Shifted cargo punts & slung a life raft overboard & manned same. Searched all around no trace of him to be seen. In the meantime phoned up the Water Police.
8/30 Another Sargeant fell overboard. I happened to be within 5 feet of him so fished him out & found him to be senseless & having broken his arm. Sent him to the hospital in a ambulance. Having about a 100 Egyptians workman which proved useless & had to save this man on my own myself being the night officer in charge of the Transport. Then the police arrived at 9.15 pm with dragging irons & dragged until 10/30 pm & finally hooked on the private & fished him out from the bottom, depth being about 33 ft. We laid him on the wharf & kept working him for ½ an hour. Life was found extinct so sent him away in a ambulance in charge of the Military.
The Australian Hospital Ship Wandalla arrived to day full of Australian wounded. Made fast at the wharf next to us discharging her soldiers & transhipping same to the Transport Kanawa bound for Sydney. Called aboard & found several chaps we knew amongst the officers. They having been away for years Capt Sunter & officers were delighted to hear news of Australia.
Working cargo. Sunday shifted ship to make room for hospital ship at embarkation wharf.
Mon. 1st [April]
French troopship one of M. Maritimes. 2 funnel Australian passenger boat torpedoed 12 miles from us. 450 soldiers jumped overboard & picked up & sent scantily clothed to the British Camp dozens to No. 19 General Hospital. This steamer was escorted by 2 Japanese destroyers which sank the submarine. Tugs & trawlers came to the assistance & towed same ashore having been hit by a torpedoe opposite No. 1 hold. If fine weather prevails she will be towed off & into Alexandria into dock.
Tues. April 2
Left wharf for dry dock. Ship’s bottom scraped & painted by Egyptians which made a very poor job in fact (shameful). Least said the better (as war is on). Bearings of shaft Port propeller badly worn & surveyed. Several steamers awaiting their turn for docking purposes so the shaft could not possibly be repaired.
Left the dry dock for the coal wharf.
Coaling ship this day. This day a party came over & boarded the ship, in RN Lieut Comm.-uniform our Quarter Master being in charge of gangway with a soldier armed with rifle & fixed bayonet. This officer ignored the Q.M. & guard & was stopped by our Q.M. who asked him his buisness. He refused to devulge same. He asked the Q.M. if that was the way the Merchant Service approached Naval officers. The Q.M. told him his instructions were to stop anyone from coming aboard without a pass. So the Naval officer asked for the Ship’s officer. The Q.M. told the Naval officer to wait at the head of the gangway whilst he found a ship’s officer & also advised the soldier to see that the officer did not come aboard until such time as he would come back.
The 4th officer came along. The Naval officer complained bitterly to the 4th re being barred from coming aboard & said I shall report same to the Battleship Hannibal he being an officer off her. The 4th told him he could do just as he thought fit but that the Q.M. was doing his duty & no one was allowed aboard whether in uniform or not unless he could prove his identity. The matter ended to the disgust of this party. By his attitude one would think he was Lord Jellicoe or Beatty.
Alongside wharf at Alexandria loading ammunation waggons & took in 66 troops of the advance guard.
We had news today that we take in 2000 troops for Marseilles France & leaving in the course of a few days on account of the Brittish & French set back & the German offensive at the Western Front in France. The most amount of troops that ever left overseas in one mass & together viz. 30,000 troops. The Convey will compose of Indarra, Malwa, Kaisar I. Hind, Camberra, Caladonia Liso Castle & Omrah all fast ships of speed 16 knots & over with a strong escort. Will sail as one escort.
The whole of the Transports are alongside the wharves taking in troops. This convoy will be possible written later in the history of the war. The Liso Castle 14,500 tons register was built for the King of Greece (his yacht) but commandeered when completed for a troopship by the Brittish Government. This convoy is said to carry the most troops since war began at any one time viz 30.000 troops & guns & carriages.
6 Greek firemen shipped in place of 6 firemen left behind at the hospital at Taranto. The Australian fire men protested against same & consulted the Captain. They maintained that Britishers were
in Alexandria out of employment through their ships being torpedoed. The Captain informed them that these Greeks would be dismissed & British firemen shipped in their place. H.M.T. Omrah & Caladonia arrived from Taranto full of Indian troops to relieve the Europeans at Palastine & Mesopotamia.
Embarked 600 troops advanced guards & awaiting the rest to come. This morning 7 miles from us the large four master troopship Minomini torpedoed & sunk. In the afternoon the Minitau another troopship torpedoed & sunk. Crews & troops landed here at Alexandria & a submarine reported sunk by British destroyers.
2 more ships sunk. 1 Brittish & 1 Italian 10 miles off the entrance this day. Crews & troops landed here. This totals up 6 steamers in 7 days.
4 sunk 2 run ashore. No news in the dailies re the sinkings (as per usual)
All of our troops embarked this day 2000. Gen. (Brigade) Hamilton Moore & staff on board the troops mostly Royal Scots & Strafordshire.
2 bands. 1 brass & 1 bagpipes. They played alternative marching around the boat deck & the music splendid.
Left wharf at 5 pm for outer harbor & anchored. All troops supplied with life belts & boat drill & raft drill having been supplied with 20 more rafts. These troops are all sunburnt having been at Palastine 3 years & appear in the pink of health & strong. In fact splendid chaps & (Broad Scootch)
7 am Left wharf full of troops. All convoy at [sketch of anchor] ready for departure with a whole devision. Kaisar I Hind Lislow Castle, Omrah, Caladonia Indarra Canberra Malwa.
4 Military signal men told off for bridge semephore signals.
2 pm Orders to proceed to sea with escort Japanese destroyers (Kashi, Momo, Kinoki Yanagi Kusumoki Ume). Omrah, Malwa Indarra Lisowe Castle Canberra Kaisar I Hind Caladonia.
2 miles from harbour convoy formed. Another 2 British sloops sent as special escorts. M.L. motor boat & a hydroplane. 6 miles out at 3 pm submarine sighted in Channel. Destroyers dropped depth charges. 50 miles out at 6 pm another periscope sighted of a submarine
½ a mile off. (all convoy zig zagging) on Indarra’s star side 4 points from bow. Two Japanese distroyers sighted same & made for it. Circled around & dropped some depth charges. The wake of a torpedoe seen to pass a hundred yards from troopships Indarra’s stern. Troops mustered to stations. No panic. Every body quiet & stood by their boats & rafts.
10 pm Lost sight of one of the British sloops probably machiney defects. Left behind (found out after had engine trouble)
Fine & clear weather. Convoy proceeding at 14 knots. Destroyers steaming around us the whole time. Scotch bag pipe band of the Black watch parading the boat deck both side playing all Scotch airs. Royal Scots Brass band playing alternative on saloon deck. Splendid band & music.
Formation of Convoy
[sketch of convoy formation]
Sunday. 40 miles south of Malta at 3 pm 6 Japanese destroyers met us & relieved the other 6. The former made for Malta for re oiling & stores.
6 am Another submarine periscope sighted. Jap distroyer made for same & dropped a depth charge, disappeared. The British sloop having remained behind circling around. The transports proceeding as usual.
8 am Sloop returned & joined convoy.
6 pm Omrah sighted a periscope & blew her syreen. Jap distroyer steamed at full speed periscope disappeared. Continually blowing of whistles for 15 minutes.
At night heavy mist convoy 200 yards apart & barely visible. Early hours of the morning Indarra lost sight of covoy. 2 Jap. distroyers hugging close. At daylight sighted the Guide ship Omrah 5 miles away abeam & made for same. The whole of the ships kept close together passing a very dangerous part going through the Islands south of Sicily Italy. It being Sunday the troops at boat & raft stations & then church parade. The strict order being all troops to wear lifebelts night & day & strictly enforced.
The responsibility & strain keen being keener on those on the navigation bridge. Every eye strained & every ripple of the sea investigated. Troops lined on boat deck both sides fore & aft on the lookout with loaded rifles in the event of periscopes being sighted. The troops conducting themselves splendid & very few seasick.
Refering to the officers of the Brigade this day they are of the opinion that this war will not end this side of another 2 years neither will guns end it. Probably a patch up peace.
During the night passed the Islands of Linosa & St. Antioco. Lighthouses alight also the Island of Pantellarra south of Sicilly Italy during the early morning. This being a dangerous part, 2 of the destroyers scouting about 3’ ahead throughout. Passed a fast Italian sub-motor chasers. A huge convoy of cargo boats going the opposite way probably bound for Suez and a decoy ship prowling about aimlessly.
To noon today we have covered 1300 miles from Alexandria yet another 450 to go. The total distance in peace time being only 1500 miles from Alexandria to Marsailles. The route during war time being totally different on account of mines & subs reported.
The wind having increased to a moderate gale hundreds of the soldiers laying about helpless, seasick. Sea rough & the vessel pitching. The distroyers appear like antisubmarines shipping heavy water fore & aft in fact sprays at times completely covering them.
Fresh breeze sea rough. Sighted abeam off South Sardinia leading distroyer signalled to alter course. The Malwa evedently mistook the signal it being 500 yards on our left. Port his helm & came across our bow instead of (starboard) his helm Indarra having starboard according to signal orders. The two ships were within a distance of 50 yards & to avoid collision the Indarra went full astern on both engines & missed hitting the Malwa by about 50 feet. This happened at 3.40 am. No panic amongst the troops as the whole with a few exception were asleep. The speed at the time was 15 knots.
Arrived off Marseilles at 7 am & took a pilot. Escort signalled form in line. Hydroplanes dirigible trawlers & French patrol boats met us. The line formed Omrah, Malwa, Indarra, Kaisar I Hind, Camberra
Leasowe Castle, Caladonia. Destroyers ahead each side & stern.
10 am Made fast at transport wharf.
Noon. Comm.- discharging the troops & cargo. Found the correct number of troops in the convoy from the General to be 18,000. Called up Marseilles at night the town well laid out. Splendid street & boullivards. All street lamps extinguished yet the buisness places in full swing. Met hundreds of the Scotch troops – merry. Some creating huge disturbances. The city of Marseilles being of a very merry disposition full of French troops up the city. Practically all the lady folk in deep mourning.
Our two bands gave a concert at the Town Hall & also whilst steaming up the harbor played splendid airs alternative. On arrival we heard that two of the convey that left 3 days before us for Marseilles from Alexandria two of the ships were torpedoed off south of Sardinia & being 50 miles off the land the 2 ships were run ashore. All the artillery of the division we brought across in our convoy was aboard those ships & consequently lost. This happened on the 14th. The ships being the Warickshire & Kingstonian.
Being one of the shire boats & one of Leylands of Liverpool. Both ships being over 12000 tons register. NB Thousands of bags of mails lost & a few saved.
A matter of only 20 lives lost between the two ships out of 4000 troops the rest saved by the Destroyer escort & landed at Marseilles. Here at Marseilles we had 100 of the Fiji boys working our cargo under Capt. Williams our Suva stevedore. They having been at the front until a few days ago for 12 months & have proved themselves far superior to the West India negroes. They were delighted to meet a Australian ship & found out several of them were formally on the SS Levuka & myself & several others knew them personal. These chaps are maintained by Mr Henry Marks a wealthy merchant at Suva who maintains their wives & gave £10.000 towards their expenses.
The docks here like Taranto Italy are patrolled by British troops as well as French troops. As far as we can gather Italy & France depends wholly on Britain. Dozens of French ships are tied up here, several large trans Atlantic steamers that has been out of commission for 18 months. Yet the papers talk of short of shipping. Up the city last night the soldiers were having a gay time.
The City being very gay & very unmoral in all respects. The café & bars full of well dressed ladies partaking of coffee & wines & brandy. The majority in deep mourning probably after some near relative killed at the front. The lower part of the city not safe to frequent at night. Several murders having been done lately, the motive robbery. Tram fares cheap whilst cab fares & taxis very dear.
Embarked Jewish troops & officers & artillery for Palastine (English born)
2 pm Troopships Malwa Indarra & Kaisar I Hind left the wharf for the Outer Harbor & anchored off the Railway that leads to Paris. A splendid piece of engineering feat along the shore which is made of viaducts & bridges along the hills. Great Harbor extensions carried on & the wittenessed a good many German soldier prisnors of war working under a armed guard at the habor & jetty works.
American convoy of cargo steamers arrived & anchored off the jettys next Indarra. All painted in queer color of camouflage. Guns mounted fore & aft on each. This last 10 days 14 large transports sunk in the Mediterean. It is rumoured today the the Tagus a two funnel boat of the Royal Mail line was sunk a few days ago. She was with us having
left along with us 14 days ago from Taranto to Alexandria.
At 1 pm left Marsaelles for Malta & Alexandria. A few thousand Jewish troops on the convoy for Palastine & 50 blue jackets for relief crews for Port Said. The convoy consists of Indarra, Omrah, Kaisar I Hind, Caladonia, Malwa, Canberra Leasowe Castle. Escort English distroyers Renaid, Colne, Phoenex. Japs Kashuwa Kansan Sendon. 6 total, the Kashuwa being the Commodore escort. Written orders sent aboard each ship signed by the British Admiral of Petrols of the Medeterian that if a light at night is exposed on any of the transport ports scuttles or openings the distroyers have had orders to fire at same without warning with rifle shot & the offending transport to take the consequences. This notice have been posted up all over the transports on account of ports being opened at night last trip on the Kaisar I Hind by some soldiers & exposing lights. Two of the troops were shot at Marsailles by order of a Court Martial held there yesterday.
6 of our firemen failed to be aboard at the appointed time after shore leave. Were fined by the British Consul £3 & each & similar on the other ships. The stokers have on board caused serious trouble on board during the last 3 months whilst in other departments every thing has gone on smoothly.
Dozens of (Allo) submarine warnings by wireless some within a few miles whilst others a long distance off. Also 5 wrecks reported floating about derelicts.
Mod. Gale & rain squalls. Distroyers well ahead both sides & astern.
[sketch of convoy formation]
Zig Zag day & night. The zig zag generally 10° more angle day & 10° less at night viz. 20 & 30, 30 & 40 etc.
5% lose viz. for every 100 mls. traversed = 95 good.
[sketch of zig zag sailing pattern]
The zig zag is altered each trip.
[sketch of zig zag sailing pattern]
Orders if submarine sighted within 45° of course & within ¼ mile the transport to ring up utmost speed & ram same. If sighted on starboard bow 6 short blasts on syren. If on port bow 12 short blasts. Rockets in cannons to be fired & flags hoisted according to secret code. At night morse. transports fitted with wireless at mast head electric current from main dynamos. Receiving radius 2500 miles. Sending 1000 miles. Auxilary two from main in the event of main airal blown or shot away. Again auxilary from stored batteries. In the event of engine room shelled radius 150 miles.
At 7 am transport Kaisar I Hind sighted a torpedoe passing a few yards astern. Just missed. She hoisted signals distroyer went full speed to direction & dropped depth charges. Then Canberra & Liscoe Castle sighted a periscope & hoisted signals distroyers off to the bearing & dropped depth charges. All transports at maximum speed.
8 am. In line again at 14 ½ knot speed.
11 am Cape Bon Tunis north of Africa sighted a very dangerous spot. Having eased down to 10 knots last night so that we would pass Cape Bon & the narrows
at daylight. It being highly dangerous to pass nightime as the moon being near full & very clear nights.
At 3 pm April 22 passed Pantellaria Is. where the Italians have some of the latest motor submarine chasers on patrol.
South of Sicily 8 pm passed the islands of Linosa & Lampedusa having a lighthouse on each of these small islands which are lit at night & unmolested probably on account of them being of as much use to the enemy submarines as position marks as to the Allied transports.
1 am off Malta & zigzagging all night for there is no arrangements for transports to go into Valletta Harbor at night. Well steam off the island until 8 am then 3 miles off the harbor. Kept outside steaming slow in shallow water until 1 pm surrounded by destroyers & hydroplanes. This harbor being small & conjested with shipping one transport only could go in at one time & therefore had to wait our turn until each ship was moored so as to have the use of tugs. The Indarra being the last ship to go in was kept outside from 8 am to 1 pm. A splendid target for any Fritz’s submarines.
1 pm proceeded in & aided by two tugs the harbor being small & conjested by battleships cruisers & destroyers.
2 pm Moored to bouys fore & aft. The Naval people came off & examined the crew of 195 all told. 3 Greek stewards we shipped at Alexandria Egypt last trip on examination here were found to be Turkish subjects with unauthorised passports. These were taken ashore under escort & interned yet these three were shipped through the British Consul at Alexandria, so therefore the British authorities there are to be blamed.
The harbor & town is a very picturesque place. Very strongly fortified the old forts being still intact. We are moored 100 yards from the entrance & 50 yards of the mine field that protects same so that we are within a few yards of dozens of submerged mines & booms. In a very dangerous position should we by any chance break away from our moorings.
The town contains nice & lovely buildings. Clean & well laid out water fronts & streets but like the French & Italian towns very gay. We are taking in here 400 tons of Welsh coal & have had orders to leave tomorrow for Alexandria.
The same six destroyers also taken in oil & coal & will escort us to Egypt.
9 am Destroyers proceeded out of harbor. 3 trawlers & 1 hydroplane. Orders for transports to follow. All steamed out one after the other in line like a line of battleships. Hydroplane flying around & escorted same 50 miles off the coast. The trawlers returned after steaming out 10 miles through the swept channel. These trawlers sweep the channel in front of the transports.
11 am Transport column formed five in front row & two behind each. 400 yards apart speed as per Admiralty orders 15 knots 16 mls. per hour to Alexandria. Course set zig zag all the way. Each ship altering courses per zig zag together the line kept perfect speed distance apart etc.
A splendid sight surrounded by destroyers. Probably the largest convoy & the fastest line of transports that has sailed across the Mediterean & may be the last after this great war. A sight that may not be seen again during the present century. The Kaisar I Hind being the leading convoy transport this trip (the Guide) she having a Naval Captain aboard in charge
of all the transports & destroyers.
The Each ship having naval signalmen aboard practically continuously signaling. Flags, morse & semephore. If one of the transports should be out of line or break any of the orders laid down up goes that ships secret number & up signals to remind those on board. The officers on the bridge continuously at it. No time to think of anything but duty.
It may be a honor to be in such a convoy & also great deal of worry. Thank God when this war is over. News received today by wireless that the Goeben is out, the German cruiser from the Dardenelles & probably making for Alexandria. Well she will have a lively time as this place is well guarded & satisfied if she ever turns up off Alexandria she will never return to Turkey.
Steaming at such high speed through unknown mine fields submarines & now the rumour is that the Goeben is out so that it is not very pleasant. Yet as already mentioned one gets hardened to it & it is a case of Come Day Go Day & the Lord send Sunday.
Fine weather prevails so far & making a splendid headway.
N.B. Re the Malwa it is a frequent occurance of cargo boats colliding in convoys with bad results in troop transports it would be awful.
Naval Commodore on Kaisar I Hind continually at signals from daylight to dark.
10 pm Malwa altered her course the wrong way per zig zag & narrow escape of ramming the Indarra (the 2nd time this ship has made a mistake & near collision).
Similar occurance at 6 am & 11 am this day. Malwa within 400 yards abreast altered his course 20° to port instead of starboard. To avoid collision Indarra turned sharp around Malwa. Censured by Commodore by signals.
Noon All transport 8 miles off Alexandria formed in single line 400 yards apart destroyers ahead side & astern. Hydroplane 50 miles out to meet us. 15 miles out trawlers monotors as extra escort whilst in single file steaming through swept channel.
2 pm Dropped [anchor] in harbor
4.30 pm Moored to transport wharf.
The convoy brought from Marsailles 600 officers, 3000 Jewish troops, 4000 Indians from the West battlefield & 60 sisters & nurses for Mesepotamia & Palastine.
[sketch of convoy formation]
Single file as per orders
[sketch of convoy formation]
pm. Continued discharging guns, carriages & ammunation for (Palastine)
Coaling ship & loading guns, carriages & ammunition.
Air Lieut. Worrell flew today over here from Port Said so called on Indarra & told us that he was in a hydroplane bombing the Goeben at the Dardenelles & had several direct hits. She was badly knocked about on the upper structure. On her side she had a large hole where the mine struck her whilst steaming back to the Dardenelles after the raid. Rough weather prevailed & prevented our airmachines from bombing for several days. So in the meantime she got off & was seen by Worrell whilst flying over Constantinople in dock from one of the British machines
one of the British machines was hit. So Walsh another friend of some on the Indarra he having dined on board just 7 days previous. He was forced to land in the Sea of Marmara & taken prisnor himself & the observer. They wrote a letter to Worrall & explained that they were well treated & gave the lists of the survivors of the English submarine E. which was sunk at the Narrows during the bombing of the Goeben. This letter was dropped by a German Airman over Mudros 250 miles from Constantinople & since Walsh wished to know the names of the survivors of the Breslau the other German Cruiser which struck a mine & sunk (for the German authorities). Well Worrall found out the names & wrote a letter to Walsh & dropped same whilst flying over Constantinople.
We all heard today that the submarine that fired the torpedoe at the Kaisar I Hind & us last trip was blown up & distroyed.
The Hydroplane one of the fast type which escorted us off the Coast 100 from Alexandria had engine trouble & was forced to land 30 miles at sea from the nearest point of land & 6 miles astern of the convoy. None of the convoy saw her come down
so proceeded on. It appears he was 15 hours in the water before being rescued viz. 8 hrs on the machine which was kept up on its floats then sank. So seeing the position hopeless he cut his patrol tank adrift & plugged all the connections & made it air tight so floated on this for 7 hours. Another convoy passed & one of the steamers ½ a mile off took him to be a German submarine & fired 6 rounds of shells from their 6 inch gun. So the airman exhausted after being in the water 15 hours & soaking wet took off his shirt & waved it. Finally a distroyer came over & saved him. Now at the hospital & doing well.
It appears this distroyer took him to be a sub & rushed over with the intention of dropping a depth charge.
Commenced taking in troops at 2am having come direct from Palastine in trains & shipped on arrival.
11 am all the troops embarked. 2000 74th Division with Gen. Hoare the general commanding going over on the Indarra. The Omrah & Canberra were filled up with troops yesterday & left for anchorage in the bay at 5 pm left night the other troopships still being alongside the wharf. This division consists of 18000 of which 3000 are Scotch & the rest English & Welsh regiments.
These men are a splendid body of men. Well preserved & robust & the 18000 will be all together in 7 ships by tomorrow & will leave for the Western front. We heard today that the 2nd Australian light horse was badly cut up in Palastine on April the 10th & that another big bombardment commenced today taking a munition town strongly fortified north of Jaffa. (We also took in 3000 bags of mail for Great Britain)
Brigadier General Hoare on board the General in charge of the 72 [74?] Division going to the Western front. All troops mustered for their respective boats & rafts. Number of rafts 250 average capacity of each 8 men.
Two convoys of cargo boats arrived, one of 20 steamers one steamer torpedoed & foundered. Another convoy of 15 steamers one lost. These boats were slow average speed of 9 knots & were escorted by trawlers & armed yachts.
The Brigadier General Hoar came up on the navigation bridge with his official maps of Palastine & the Western Front & showed us the position of the various armies, the progress made & the that part where they had been driven back during the last offensive.
He also informed us that the Germans will not be able to break through the Western front. Also most interesting work done at Palastine & Mesepotamia. Also brought up his gas helmet & put it on explaining how it was used. Also had our photos taken on the bridge with the General, some having his gas helmet on. He is very interesting & deplomatic person. We hear a rumour today that we are likely to be kept until tomorrow if 60 or 70 sisters can be in Alexandria in time to join the convoy & in transit for the Western front.
A large obervation ballon towed out to sea by a monotor for seeking submarines burst, the 4 men in its cage were killed having dropped 1000 yards. Also killed 20 men on the monotor probably the bombs in the cage burst on the monotor’s deck. Three large hospital ships are moored here out of commission on account of the Germans sinking same.
2 pm May 1st orders to proceed to Marseilles. Convoy left port as per order. 4 Jap. destroyers Kaisar I Hind, troopships Indarra, Malwa, Caladonia Camberra, Lesowe Castle, Omrah, 2 Jap. destroyers 2 monotors 1 towing a observation ballon.
Hydroplane flying around the convoy & also Motre submarine chasers.
The Japanese destroyers being the escort Kusonake, Umo, Mastu, Sugi, Karian, Serdan, Proceeded for the 1st 10 miles in battle line & then formed up convoy positions as per diagram & comm. to zig zag 20° until 8 pm. It being dark straight course steered until the moon rose at 12 pm & com zig zag again. Submarine reported 20 miles north of the convoy at 10 pm but not sighted by us. Fine weather prevailed.
Copy of letter posted up in saloon from General Allanby (in high command of the Palastine forces) to this division 74th stating that they have done splendid work at Palastine during their 3 years there & that the General in Charge of all the Palastine forces is very sorry to lose such fine noble division. But since they are called to fight in the most important part viz. the Western front he wishes them every success & that have proved themselves to be true Britions, gallant & brave.
[sketch of convoy formation]
Fine weather prevails. At 4 pm troops stationed at boat drill & life belt drill. Submarine guards stationed all around the ship & all armed night & day. At 4 pm H.M.T. Omrah sighted a periscope. Hoisted the signals & compass bearing of same fired 5 shells from his 6 inch gun. Also dozens of rifle shot. Great excitement prevailed on the Indarra. All troops rushed to boat stations & rafts. Fine sight to see the shells strike the water. The sea rising fully 100 feet like a hugh fountain. Two Japs. rushed to the spot & dropped depth charges result unknown. Again proceeded on peacefully.
Passed 2 turtles floating on the water within 20 yards. Appeared like periscopes their head bobbing out of the water & their bodies afloat & partly submerged.
Sighted a hugh mast rigging & blocks attached ahead covered with weed. Had to change ship’s course so as to save the propellors as per usual. Submarines reported by wireless (numerous). Two 50 miles ahead in our track. Course altered so as to pass 20 miles north of the
2 pm off Malta 40 miles south of the island. 8 Japanese destroyers sent out to relieve the 6 Jap. escort the 1st lot having to call in & obtain oil fuel, whilst the convoy still proceeds without delay. Passed a Swedish steamer painted pre-war colors with their country’s colors painted on her side.
5 pm Passed a large convoy of 14 cargo ships escorted by sloops of war distance 5 miles off. Bound for the Suez Cannal.
72nd [74th] Scotch pipes band played various airs for 2 hours, continually marching around the boat deck.
8 pm Scotch concert held in 2nd class saloon. Sung & played splendid. 1000 troops ordered to sleep on the various decks tonight as we are passing through a very dangerous passage south of Sicicly Italy having been warned regards submarines.
Passed south of Scicly during the night 12 miles of C. No lighthouses lit on the land & it being a clear night & very low mist no land was sighted. Zig Zagging whilst the moon was up & straight courses whilst the (after moon set.
At 7 am miles NW of C. Scicily 3 torpedoe destroyers being ahead scouting. The one nearest 300 yards ahead of the Indarra
Sighted 2 submarines at a distance of 100 yards. Sireen sounded & signals for convoy to alter course urgent 8 points to starboard & increase speed to utmost capacity. Two distroyers encircled around & dropped depth charges it being then within 100 yards of the Transport Indarra. The water rose fully 100 feet. The concussion caused the coal in our bunkers to fall & making a very queer noise. Troops rushed to their respective stations. Result of charges unknown probably good results.
Proceeded for 2 hours at 17 knots & decreased again to 15 knots having covered 1500 miles from Alexandria. The two extra destroyers sent from Malta proved very serviceable other wise these submarines might have been successful. Had an hours conversation with Gen. Hoare. He was highly delighted to find the Japanese destroyers so active & so smart in dealing with the several submarines we encountered on the trip. Also had some splendid news re. his work at Palastine. He is as hard as nails & quite of a different type of a British Military officer. Commonly known as a (Hard Case)
I may state here we all on board have had potatoes served out once a day for the last 2 days for the 1st time for the past 3 months (These were highly appreached after such a long spell)
Eased down to 12 ½ knots per hour so as to be at the Marseilles swept channel at daylight tomorrow being foggy & misty during the night.
5 am off swept channel met with extra French escort Hydroplanes & observation ballons. The convoy formed in a line & steam in through a narrow passage in the mine field. When inside the outer harbor pilot boarded & stopped awaiting our turn to get in the inner harbor as each ship found her respective berth.
4 am Fast at transport wharf & commenced discharging cargo gun carriages & ammunation.
8 pm Disembarked all troops they having sent direct to the trains for the front line Western front. Said to take 4 days on the journey.
All the Japaneese distroyers moored up town near the heart of the city. Saw the two Japaneese distroyers amongst the eight moored which ran into one another during the fog of the night of the 6th.
One of the Japaneese distroyers bows badly stowed in & bent over the water line & the other badly bulged in above the water line starboard quarter. Both under temporary repairs.
Also up the city this afternoon & night met hundreds of the Japs. Without a exception conducting themselves splendid. Neat & tidy & a credid to there country. Call all around the town & saw all the sights & also probably one of the largest monuments the Emblems of France presented by a Italian marble sculptor who made his millions at this city. The city being full of French troops on leave & British troops on transit conducting themselves fairly well this trip.
Discharged all guncarriages & ammunation & loading hundreds of deisell engins made in Switzerland for Japan. transhipments probably at Alexandria. Taking in large quantity of bunker coal. Some talk of us going on a long trip. Also embarked 200 officers for India & Egypt & a few troops. The bulk of the Tommies going over on the Kaisar I Hind.
Miserable weather here raining throughout & coaling ship with Indians
Fiji labor working cargo & officers kit.
All officers this trip. The other ships embarked troops.
Noon. Fin coaling 1 pm. Left transport wharf for anchorage at outer harbor.
11 pm Hove up & proceeded out of harbor. Very dark. No lights exposed. Formed single line & followed close behind one another through the narrow entrance guarding the mine field going slow.
1 am Clear of mine field formed the regulation columns & commenced zig zag courses. Through the mine field we were guided by a searchlight from a dirigable which flew 1000 feet above & flashed his light in front of convoy but not exposing same sea ward. Also special motor submarine chasers & consequently passed on & escorted by 5 Japaneese distroyers. The same 7 transports & 5 Japs viz. Matsu, Suge, Kusunoki, Kasde,Kusonoki, Kaisar I Hind, Indarra, Canberra, Malwa, Leasowe Castle, Caladonia, Omrah. News by wireless that the H.M.T. Prancas a horse transport 15,000 submarine torpedoe 100 miles ahead on our track. Passed a mass of wreckage. Masts spars & painted pieces of wood. Also apparently full casks of oil which may have been floating mines
Sent aboard a British Navy signalman who was torpedoed on board a Portugeese steamer. She sank in 7 minutes. She was escorted with 5 others by trawlers & 2 steam yachts. Passed a trans-Atlantic mail steamer French Leuitania a 3 funnel steamer on the run. Trooping from U.S.A. to Marseilles having several 6 inch guns mounted on her. Also several Yankie cargo boats.
11 pm Canberra steering gear jambed & caused her to stop. Fell astern & righted same. Convoy slowed down for 1 hour. Great excitement & morse signals. Midnight engine fixed & proceeded at 14 knots.
News by wireless that a fleet of subs. were awaiting us between the narrow passage of Tunis Nth Africa & Sardinia & Scicly. At 7 am Malwa on our port beam sighted submarines perescopes. Signals & fired her 4.7 gun. Distroyers came racing up. Signals alter course together & immediately 8 points to port again. Periscopes sighted on starboard bow. guns fired probably a fleet of subs. At 7.2 am a torpedoe was sighted passing the Malwa 100 yards astern & coming towards the Indarra.
May 12 1918
Indarra’s port engine stopped. Hard starboard helm came around fast & missed the torpedoe by 30 yards. Several on board saw same & made out plain one white band & one red on torpedoe it travelling nearly on surface at the rate of 30 miles an hour.
Then passed 100 yards ahead of the Leasowe Castle & struck the Omrah at about No. 2 hatch under water. Volumes of water & smoke & debris 100 feet high. She then stopped & sunk slowly by the head up right. Two destroyers chased the subs. & 2 other went to the rescue of the Omrah. Her boats were lowered into the water full of troops within 15 minutes.
Those destroyers that chased the submarine dropped several depth charges. In the meantime the convoy was signalled to proceed at utmost speed. The Indarra & Canberra took the lead & left the other transports a long way behind probably 2 miles. Averaging 18 knots.
At 8 am signal to form column again. 3 distroyers came to the transport & 2 remain behind with the Omrah. The Omrah was soon lost sight astern & sinking very slowly.
7.45 am she was out of sight.
At 7.45 am the Indarra & the rest of the troopships zig zagging at the rate of 17 to 18 knots. The last of the Omrah was seen with her boats full of troops around the ship.
At 10 am sighted a large Deregible at a distance coming towards us from Malta travelling about 60 miles an hour. It rounded & lowered within 100 feet of overhead of the destroyer next to us & semephore & asked the position of the Omrah. Then disappeared in that direction it having a large cage under with 2 guns mounted & 2 propellers distance about ½ mile .
At 10.30 am 2 Jap. distroyers came up to us as if from nowhere tearing along at 30 knots to replace the two that remained behind for the Omrah. S.O.S. & position of Omrah received by our wireless & also secret code messages from the Jap. distroyers there.
At noon when relieved on the navigation bridge I asked our wireless if any messages came through re. Omrah (none). At 0.15 pm two destroyers & the dirigible was seen astern coming towards us & making towards Malta. So by apperaiances
we take it that the Omrah has sunk. I found out the Omrah had 3 Brigadere Generals on board. I remember them having seen them on the wharf at Marseilles. About 200 military officers French military officers & troops also Indian troops. The exact amount I shall insert later.
It was a sad plight to see such cowardly deed done without any warning & to see such a fine vessel although up in years sink & destroyed with all the English mail on board & probably our Australian mail also. 5000 bags altogether.
2 pm We sent a semepore message to one of our escort distroyers Jap. He sent back word that Omrah sunk. All hands saved, yet no doubt if all safe. we cannot understand how the explosion did not kill some. The Captain of her was on board of us for lunch 2 days ago & sat with our Captain at the next table to me. He appealed to me as a very capable man.
The two distroyers with the survivors are steaming alongside of us. We are going at utmost speed & expect to be at Malta at daylight tomorrow. The position of the
convoy at the time of the explosion as Lat.38.16N Long.8.30E 43 miles south of Cape Roccio Sardinia & 63 miles north of Tunis Nth Africa in the Mediterean G.M.T. 5.30 am 12.5.19.
I may state it has made a great impression on all hands on board the Indarra.
9.5 pm Passed Marittino Lt. 10.36 pm C. Granitola Light south of Scicily & through the narrows north of Tunis. Passed lots of wreckage lifeboats. bales of cotton & wood work. The remains of other ships torpedoed.
10 am Arrived off Vallattia Harbor Malta came from south of islands & steamed up through the two large islands & entered harbor & moored to the bouys at noon. The Japaneese distroyers passed us on the way in with the survivors of the Omrah. The decks were full stacked like sheep hardly sitting room.
Landed then at the Naval wharf & sent to various hospitals & hotels. On the way through the swept channel 3 miles from the harbor entrance we sighted a cargo boat 4 miles away sinking by the stern. Torpedoed
& some destroyers & trawlers. mine sweepers rushing at high speed to the rescue. Coaling operations commenced as soon as we came alongside the bouys. Our troops had leave to go up town.
8 pm Two ship’s officers came on board formally off the Omrah & told us that one of their crew was sitting on No.2 hatch & was blown 30 feet high into the water badly injured & one killed whilst asleep in his bunk. They abondoned ship the troops 15 minutes after the explosion the ship having been struck on the port side badly holed. All the glass ports broken fore & aft. The starboard side badly buckled & one of the cylinders of her engins cracked. The fore end of the ship afire. They the crew put the fire out & tried to save the ship.
At 9 am she took a dangerous list to starboard 70 degrees & finally sunk. Went down by the bows. They were all saved by the Jap. distroyers. The majority of the officers & troops & crew had only their underclothing & pajamas on. No boots & socks, the troops having left before the majority of the crew
& were seen in that attire at 6 pm the next day at Malta.
Departure from Malta at 1.30 pm escorted by 6 Jap. distroyers & passed the Australian T.B.T. Torrens going in. We found out for certain that one at least of the submarines was sunk by depth charges shortly after the Omrah was sunk. The Japaneese commander said he also thought the 2nd one was blown up also.
4 pm 14 May convoy formation formed the Canberra taking the place of the Omrah. All the mail lost 5000 bags of Egypt India & Australian.
Left Malta escorted by 6 Jap. distroyers for Alexandria. Fine weather prevailed & usual wireless news every hour re. submarines on our track.
10 am off Alexandria formed single line. Hydroplane observation ballon towed by a monotor & trawlers sent out to escort us in through the swept channel. A submarine sunk 15 miles out side Alexandria by one of the Jap. distroyers spotted by the hydroplane.
5 pm moored to the transport wharf.
Desembarked troops the majority in transit for India of the officers. The Indian troops for Palastine. News through that the British have had bad reverses since the former divisions have been sent from there to France. At present the British are holding their own & took 600 German prisnors in one batch north of Jerusulem. News through this day re. super submarines with 7.5 inch guns. 2 in the Medeterean fighting the destroyers which are armed only with 4 to 6 inch guns.
Sunday. Taking in 200 tons more sand ballast at No. 2. Each hold contains sand. 1000 tons a good precaution in the event of being torpedoed eases the shock & causes less fire. Also coaling ship. The Lord’s day in Egypt being a thing of the past or of the future as practically all are Momomadans. 8 days a week Thou shalt labor. No proper system re. meal hours etc. The laborers pay being
3/- per day of 8 hours & 4/- per night of 10 hours.
Filthy dirty in thier habits a touch above the average domesticated animal.
Commenced loading gun carriages from Palastine for the Western front of Europe. The 10th Devision going to be sent over in the course of a few days. Out of 5 cargo steamers in a convoy from Port Said to Marseilles 4 were sunk by subs off Port Said escorted by trawlers. The 5th had engine trouble so returned to port & saved. The submarine menence becoming worse instead of better amongst cargo boats of 8 to 10 knots speed. It is so serious that something definate will have to be done otherwise all the shipping will suffer heavily in the Mediterean as there is not sufficient destroyer escort for the whole just now.
Heard this day of 60 extra Yankee destroyers & Brezialeains come to the Mediterean this week for patrol work. The hospital ships which were moored here are all gone to sea. The Burmudean one of the Pacific Steam Navigation Transports a fine double funnel steamer of 10,000 which
was sunk in the harbor 4 months ago. Lifted & salvaged none the worse of her experience yet several of her crew were drowned. Several more been on fire & sunk during the last few months & several transports under repair having been torpedoed outside & managed to make port.
The place is full of spies. Several caught recently signals with morse to submarines & dealt with the extreme penalty of the law. All rowing boats stopped now from pulling around the harbor after sunset.
Formation of convoy when the H.M.T. Omrah was torpedoed May 12th 1918 43 south of Sardinia. The escort having formally 8 Jap destroyers 2 of these ran into one another & had to be left behind at Marseilles & also a 3rd. So that five only were sent with the convoy up until the disaster.
[sketch of convoy formation]
Wed. Finished loading gun carriages field kitchens etc. & awaiting the arrival of troops for embarking.
The 1st wooden standard ship arrived here at Alexandria from the U.S.A. Very poor specimen of a steamer. The K.I.Hind, Malwa & Leasowe Castle embarking troops. Rumour of the new Orient 14,500 ton steamer the Orland going to replace the Omrah in this convoy. News through this day another 2 German subs sunk by French distroyers yesterday.
This day embarked 2000 troops from Palastine & 30 sisters for the Western front of France. Fine hardy chaps. Sunburnt & the majority been away here for the last 3 years & over.
5 pm left the wharf & all leave stopped for anchorage.
Still at anchor. All the troopships full. 20,000 awaiting the escort to arrive. All troops told off to boat stations & raft & lifebelt drill. As per usual the deck swarmed with troops.
Sunday. 10 am boat drill
11 am religious services of different denominations
at various parts of the transport. Still at anchor awaiting orders.
Sunday 3 pm Orders to proceed to sea escorted out for 15 miles by 6 Jap destroyers. 1 Australian the Torrens, 2 submarine chasers, Hydroplane, 2 monotors towing a observation ballon & trawlers.
At 4 pm 3 miles off the harbor passed a dead body of a soldier floating in the water & a red lifebouy within 20 feet. A most gastly sight exposed to all the troops of the convoy.
Signal to motor chaser which went back & picked the body up. Probably the remains of some poor unfortunate troopship torpedoed.
5 pm Line of formation formed. All but the 6 Jap destroyers left. Orders that the Ormond the latest Orient liner from Australia would join us during the early hours of the morning from Port Said with 2 extra destroyers full of troops to replace the lost Omrah.
At night it being bright moonlight light airs & cloudless everything went splendid during my hours of duty on the navigation bridge. Submarine guard of 50 troops stationed at various parts of the ship.
Mon. May 27
The convoy composed of the 10th Division of 20,000 troops. Keasar I. Hind, Malwa, Indarra, Canberra, Leasowe Castle, Caladonia. At 12 pm after being relieved off duty & at 0.15 am whilst getting ready for retiring I heard a terrible explosion as if the Indarra was torpedoed. Rushed out & found that the Leasowe Castle which was the next ship to us 400 yards apart was torpedoed & stopped & sending out S.O.S. & submarine signals. Two Jap. destroyers rushed to her aid. Signals were sent by the Commodore destroyers for all transports to proceed at utmost speed. The Indarra lead & Malwa. We could see the Leasowe Castle’s boats lowered into the water & still afloat. In fact going down bodily very slowly at 0.30 am.
1.30 am Could make her out through night glasses. Stopped & seamed to float easily then we proceeded on at full speed & lost sight of her. We saw the tracks of torpedoes pass our bow distinctly & pass over towards
the direction of the inner ships. No news so far re. the survivors.
7 am The Ormond joined us with 3 extra Japaneese destroyers. Fine weather prevailed.
One of the Jap destroyers returned & sent a message that all troops were saved on Leasowe Castle. Zig zag continued night & day. Now the escort composes of 8 Jap. destroyers.
Since we found that when the roll was called 5 of the crew 92 troops were missing.
0.15 am Position of convoy when Leasowe Castle was torpedoed.
[sketch of convoy formation]
Sighted at sub. conning tower above water at 11 pm. Sent word through phone to gunlayers & morsed the destroyers. It appeared on surface for 2 minutes & disappeared. It appeared as if we had ran over it & rammed same. Officially reported
so that we had no chance of firing at it. This happened at 11 pm S.T. 10 pm G.M.T. May 28th
At 7 am 3 submarine chasers & 1 hydroplane flying the Yankie flag joined the escort. At noon Malta abeam.
Sat. Having slowed down the night before & turned around & steamed back in opposite direction on account of being ahead of time at 3 am Sat morning. Speed increased to 14 ½ knots. A torpedoe was fired at the Ormande & missed her by 20 feet. The Kaisar I. Hind with 4000 troops aboard was hit by a torpedoe about that time the contact heard plainly but as luck happened it did no explode so caused no damage.
At 7 am more periscopes sighted. Some French destroyers having joined us. They & 2 Japs. chased the submarines result unknown.
At 10 am arrived at Marseilles & moored at noon.
6 pm Disembarked all our troops & commenced discharging our cargo gun carriages & ammunation.
June 2nd 1918
Sunday. Embarked 200 naval blue jackets for Egypt. Heard from the officers of the P. Jap. destroyers who rescued those of the Leasowe Castle that the Captain, 2 wireless operators 3 crew & about 94 troops drowned including 17 officers & that she sunk in two hours. Total lost 97 out of about 2400 crew & troops.
(Mon) (Kings Birthday) 6 am Shifted from No. 3 wharf to No. 2. bouy & comm. loading cargo of ammunation & war requirements for the French troops at Egypt.
Embarked some more British naval officers & blue jackets. French military officers & troops. Motor lorries field kitchens & Red Cross vans. Terrible explosion here at Marseilles. Some unknown objects struck some of the mines. Windows of dwelling houses & ships broken. The Indarra shook fore & aft. Hydroplanes & observation baloons sent out to the entrance.
Since the above written it appears that a large munition factory 35 miles from Marseilles blew up & everything within a radius of 2000 yards was destroyed.
A good many of the large windows of the shops in the City of Marseilles were broken so that the concussion was very severe.
NB. Since we heard officially hundreds of lives were lost.
4 pm Shipped 1000 French troops & blue jackets. 500 Brittish officers & blue jackets for Malta & Egypt. Also a few hundred English troops for Egypt & left the inner harbor for anchorage in the roads. Two ships formally torpedoed & sunk at anchor where we are at present & several reported sunk out side the mine field of the entrance 2 miles away.
Whilst at Marseilles this trip several officers invited us out to the veteenery hospital. Saw about a thousand sick horses. The hospital laid out beautiful. Every appliance operating rooms & surgeries etc. In fact as well laid out as any ordinary hospital for troops. Situated 8 miles from Marseilles & travelled 2 miles through a tunnel & through the country. Well cultivated & beautiful scenery. Had dinner there & everyone enjoyed the trip by motor splendidly.
The Ormonde the latest of the Orient SS. Co. being sent home to London. She could not maintain the required speed 15 knots causing the convoy to reduce & delayed whilst at sea.
Some trouble with her turbines. 15,000 tons register & formally built for 18 knots.
Still at anchor in outer roads awaiting orders. Crew & troops exercised at boat drill. All sore leaving Marseilles after spending a rare old time there. One of the pleasure resorts of Europe. Very dangerous at night on account of the lamps being shaded the lights dim & robberies under arms the result. Yet the French & Brittish have soldiers & police parading night & day. The population consists of such a cosmopolitian races.
Spoke to one of the naval officers at my table who was until a few months ago 3 ½ years a prisnor of war in Germany. Berlin. He said some of the prisnors were very badly treated. (He being interned from one of the British ships & in a seperate camp to the war-prisnors were fairly well treated.)
Our firemen causing trouble therefore the Indarra & Canberra could not keep up the regulation speed of 14 ½ speed so that the speed had to be reduced to 14. Later during the day speed increased to 15 knots.
At 7 am the transport Kaisar I Hind 400 yards abreast of us hoisted signals a man over-board. The Jap distroyer astern 1 mile stopped & signalled that they picked him up & was doing well. A splendid bit of work.
At Marseilles we saw some splendid formally German steamers captured by the country of Brazil full of foodstuffs from that country & flying their flag. Also numerous food steamers & oil tank steamers flying the U.S.A. flag.
Narrow escape at night of collision between Kaisar I Hind & Indarra when altering courses 70° 2 extra Jap distroyers joined off Tunis steaming 20 miles along the African coast & Cape Bon. Very thick at night discontinued zig zagging.
Heavy gale of wind & heavy seas. Speed reduced 13 knots. The distroyers making very heavy weather. 5 pm sighted Malta
7 pm off Valetta harbor
7.30 pm entered harbor
8 pm inside harbor & mine field. Caladonia fouled moorings well inside. Indarra ordered out of harbor again & turn around. Strong gale. No tugs available. Very little room. Capt. protested & signal the Chief officer of staff that he would anchor where he were or make fast to nearest bouy inside harbor & take all responsibility. Signals reply approved. Now after coming in the authorities ordered us out
again with 2500 troops aboard & probably wait outside stopped & be a fine target for submarines. The Malwa was stopped from proceeding to harbor & waited outside for one hour & finally ordered to St Paul Bay 2 miles down the coast to anchor for the night & proceeded to Valetta harbor at 8 am next morning.
A few days ago a convoy consisted of two large steamers 1 auxilary cruiser the Snewfell & one sloop proceeded out similar at night. A submarine appeared & torpedoed the cruiser then a cargo boat & came to the surface exibited his starboard green light & torpedoed the remaining steamer of the convoy within a few hundred yards of the sloop & disappeared. A very daring deed. Off Alexandria 4 ships which consisted of all the convoy were sunk & 14 large steamers this week.
Coaling ship & orders cancelled for sailing this day. Orders to sail tomorrow. Whilst mooring at Malta the 10 Jap. distroyers formed a barrage across the entrance whilst the ships were awating their turn to proceed in & finally came in after the Malwa proceeded to St Paul Bay.
When mooring at Malta blowing a gale of wind. The Indarra in difficulties turning around & mooring with a cable to a bouy. A Jap 3 funnel cruiser sent a steam launch & a large cutter manned by Japs to stand by in the event of accident. At the same time the pilot with men from the British Navy yard attending to the cable & wire hawsers from ashore. 200 blue jackets disembarked here & some more embarked.
1.30 pm Left Malta for Alexandria with 2000 troops of which 1000 are French. 7 Jap. distroyers escorting & one hydroplane. Fine & splendid weather prevails.
6 am submarine sighted on our port quarter. Jap. distroyer R. sighted same put on full speed & made for it & dropped two depth charges & signalled all convoy to proceed at utmost speed. Both charges exploded result unknown. Convoy proceeded at usual speed & zig zag courses throughout. Misty showery light breeze fine weather prevails.
8 am 20 miles off Alexandria & sighted 3 submarines astern
distance 500 yards 2 perecopes & 1 conning tower above the surface. Jap. destroyer rushed over firing depth charges from her 7.5 Howtizer. Having been met with a extra escort of 1 British destroyer 2 sloops 2 motor chasers 3 hydroplane 2 monotors one towing a observation ballon & 5 trawlers. Another Jap. being a few hundred yards away put on 30 knot speed. Two British sloops & submarine chasers rushed towards the German submarines & dropped dozens of depth charges also firing heavy shells. The explosion was terrible. All ships of the convoy put on utmost speed & steamed away with 15,000 troops. The Indarra being fully a mile away when the heavy depth charges were rolled over from the Jap distroyers & British sloops shook like a leaf in fact as if they had struck her.
Through the glasses we wittnessed one submarine blown completely out of the water flames smoke & water arising fully 100 feet high & blown to pieces. Continuous firing of depth charge systemetically for 30 minutes. A splendid sight. One that would never be forgotten.
The destroyers steaming in circles at the rate of 30 to 35 knots & the monotors & sloops about 18 knots in battle form. The convoy steaming away at 18 knots all in a line of about 200 yards apart. Lucky none were torpedoed & arrived in Alexandria at 9.30 am after taking a pilot aboard. Made fast to the troopship wharf at 1 pm & commenced to discharge cargo & disembark troops.
5 pm News came through of 3 submarines having been sunk & still after the fourth & that one of the large sloops which sunk the 2nd submarine had been torpedoed by the 3rd submarine & sunk. All the crew of the sloop were saved by some submarine motor chasers otherwise known as M.L. boats.
The narrowest escape the transports have had yet having ran into a nest of submarines. Thanks to the Japs smartness otherwise there would have been a great disaster & a great loss of life. Where the Aragon & Osmania were sunk 5 months ago with the loss of 1400 lives.
The convoy consisted of
[sketch of convoy formation]
& 3 hydroplanes which swept down & did some splendid work dropping depth bombs on the submarines.
Having lost the Leasowe Castle 2800 troops & 280 crew & Omrah 1800 troops & 180 crew during the last 14 days & the total missing of both ships were crew 6 troops 89
All troops disembarked & com. discharging field stores & ambulance waggons.
Embarked 2000 British troops from Palastine. These men have all been out here for 2 years & over. News confirmed re. the sinking of 3 submarines the day we arrived. Also 3 more 10 miles off port the next day 17 June.
3 pm Left wharf for anchorage in harbor inside the mine field already for departure. The weather here at Egypt being exceedingly warm at present.
Took in meat , flour & stores the 1st time since we departed from Australia.
2 pm Left Alexandria for Toronto escorted for the 1st 20 miles by hydroplanes 2 sloops 2 monotors 2 submarine motor chasers & observation ballon. The Jap. distroyers along with us as a permanent escort. The 2 sloops British told off to escort us until tomorrow. At night similar to last trip. Moonlight nights & very clear & dangerous. At 12 pm. We passed the spot where the Leasowe Castle was torpedoed last trip. Practically all officers & troops sleeping on deck at night as all ports are strictly to be kept closed
for by doing so it may be the means of the vessel remaining afloat longer or perhaps saving her in the event of being torpedoed or mined. For it has come to that stage at present that no one need be surprised at being torpedoed or mined. Yet consider it a unecessary risk for the authorities to send these transports full of troops out to sea on clear moonlight nights, they being visible for miles whilst on the other hand a submarine conning tower or submarine awash could not be seen at night even moonlight more than a few hundred yards. They could do their gastly work & dive before they were discovered.
Wed. June 19
Two British sloops left at 6 am & returned to Alexandria after escorting us 200 miles. The 7 Jap. distroyers carrying on the work on their own to the Gulf of Taranto.
They are as per plan
[sketch of convoy formation]
Alexandria to Taranto
June 19. Wed.
Fine weather prevailed & fresh head wind. Speed maintained 14 knots. Nothing so far sighted of any consequence. Each ship having hoisted up signals re. troop boat drill & some having gun & howitzer practice whilst steaming. A amusing incident happened on the Indarra this morning. The troops at 10 am were signalled boat & raft drill. The non commissioned officers & tommies lined up in their respective places. The military officers did not but lounging on the boat promanade deck as if nothing had happened or as if it did apply to them. The Captain saw them he being on the bridge at the time & ordered another boat & raft drill at 11 am & complained bitterly to the officer commanding the troops re. same. Latterly they all mustered with their respective companies at their proper places.
7 am sighted C. the southern part of the heel of Italy & entered the Gulf of Taranto. Fine weather clear. sea moderate.
11 am sighted periscopes on our port bow dist 1000 yards. Jap. distroyer Q. sounded warning on his syreen. Wheeled around & fired depth charges. Put on full speed & made for the spot rolled over some heavy depth charges of 3 cwt of T.N.T. Terrible explosions. Our transport shook fore & aft.
Jap. destroyer R. rushed over to the Q. & the pair of them encircled around dropping & firing depth charges symtemically. Result unknown. Volums of water arose fully 100 feet. In the meantime the transports ordered to cease zig zag course & proceed at utmost speed keeping the submarines astern. 18 knot speed maintained. The P & O Malwa leading the
Indarra following at her heels & the rests coming up close behind.
At 11 am we were then 25 miles from the Harbor Taranto.
At 11.15 am sighted the oily track of a submarine very visible the sub. being submerged. The Indarra ran over same. Also two torpedoes fired towards the transports the two passing distinctly 150 yards ahead of the Malwa & Indarra & none hit.
0.30 pm Eased down a mile off the mine field & proceed in single file through the mine field entrance. No a single Italian ship of war sent out. After entering the mine field some very obsolite Italian destroyer came out. 2 & a tug boat with orders re. entering port. Otherwise no extra escort. The Japs remained outside until all the transports were safely
inside the mines. Now had this port been a British or French their would have been a special escort sent out & trawlers.
1.30 pm dropped anchor at outer harbour & orders to remain so until next morning.
At 3 pm a Austrian Zepellian air ship appeared over the city quite visible from the ship. Height probable 10,000 feet. The shore batteries opened fire with shrapnel & drove same away it disappeared behind the clouds.
June 22 Sat.
Speaking to the officers of the transport Canberra re the Leasowe Castle the night she was torpedoed. The Leasowe being in the front line of formation the Canberra in the 2nd 800 yards behind her. After the Leasowe was hit she stopped. The Canberra came up & heard voices shouting in the water & found several soldiers hanging on to a raft in fact they passed them within a few feet. But the Canberra could not stop as it was against all orders. So signalled the nearest destroyer. They saw the raft before they realized that the Leasowe had been torpedoed. So it proves that some of the troops were either blown over the side when the torpedoe hit or they must have jumped overboard immediately.
One of the two naval signalmen in my watch a young man of 20 years of age which was sent on board at Alexandria. It appears he was signalman on the cargo transport. 6 steamers formed the convoy from England to Alexandria. The escort being a sloop & 2 trawlers. When 60 miles off Alexandria June 9th Sunday at 10 pm one of their ships was torpedoed it being dark at the time. The Clan ______. The sloop remained behind to pick up survivors. The subs followed & at 10.30 pm the 2nd ship _____ was torpedoed. He being in the _____ she was torpedoed at 11 pm. 3 cargo transports sunk out of 6. He & another signal man were 4 hours floating in the water with their belts on no other means of support as there boats were smashed. About a 100 lives were lost from the 3 ships. He was eventually picked up by the sloop in a very exausted condition & sent to the hospital & at present none the worse of his experience although sad.
We here on board maintain that trawlers are useless as escorts as they are too slow to deal with subs. But off course splendid for saving life as is a case after a transport is torpedoed & sinking.
One of these particular subs was sunk the next day by a British destroyer. A diver was sent down & found her laying on the bottom badly damaged by a depth charge & several others were sunk the same day. Similar.
9 am Hove up anchor & proceeded into the inner harbour of Taranto. Orders to remain at anchor until 3 pm. At 5 pm hove up & proceeded to inner harbour & moored at 6,30 pm. Troops remaining on board for the night. The harbor full of Italian dreadnoughts. cruisers. French cruisers. torpedoe boats & also British destroyers.
June 23 Sun.
As per usual cargo discharged & loaded this day. The last batch of officers & troops who were on home leave disembarked. News from the Italian front that the Italians British & French had stopped the Austrian advance. 20,000 Austrian prisnors taken.
Loading gun carriages, travelling kitchens & hydroplanes & aeroplanes for Palastine & Mesepotamia. Cleaning up the troop decks for another 2000 troops for Egypt. Splendid weather prevails throughout.
Noon. Left inner harbor & dropped [anchor] at the outer harbor awaiting orders for departure. All transports at anchor with 8 Jap. distroyers.
Two Italian dreadnoughts out at outer harbor at 14 inch gun practice also Italian distroyers & submarines. Their shooting fairly good at 3 mile range.
1 pm Hove up anchor & proceeded out of harbor escorted by 8 Jap destroyers & 3 Italian small torpedoe boats which piloted us out 2 miles from the entrance with some trawlers. Near the barrage mine field the Italian had a large & powerful portable crane & on passing at the entrance we saw within 50 feet a fair size submarine hove up & slung by wires. The N.5. Conning tower above water & decks awash fore & aft with a 4 inch gun mounted in the fore part. The crane & sub. were towed into a shallow part of the harbor. She was a Austrian sub sunk by trying to pass under the mine field & all on board drowned.
She appeared to be a boat of 200 feet long & of a new type with two periscopes.
2 pm passed out side the harbor & at 4 pm after steaming through the swept channel we formed the usual line of formation & Jap. distroyers took up positions all around the fleet. The transport fleet known as The Flying Fleet consisted of the same ships. Kaisar I Hind. Indarra. Canberra. Malwa. Caladonia. Fine & splendid weather prevailed throughout.
9.30 pm British submarine passed between the lines of transports with signal lights flying. It being a clear moonlight night & passed within a few yards of one of the destroyers with signals displayed & 400 yards of the Indarra & passed astern out of sight.
Fine weather prevails 7 am the Orient liner & latest of their fleet Ormond joined the convoy with 2 extra Jap. distroyers from Marseilles with troops. She having been left behind on account of engine trouble.
7 am off Alexandria 30 miles. Met by two hydroplane. 2 monotors
towing observation ballons. 2 sloops of war & submarine chasers & trawlers. At 8.10 a sub. periscope was sighted 1000 yards for a few seconds. One of the hydroplanes encircled around & a Jap. distroyer but disappeared in deep water.
At 10.00 am anchored in the inner harbor & moored in the afternoon at the transport wharf. Since our departure from Alexandria last trip we find that miles of nets & mines have been laid two miles from the entrance. One of the latest methods of catching submarines.
29 & 30
Sunday discharging our cargo of gun carriages & travelling kitchens & ammunation.
Shifted to the bouys & had orders for a general overhaul & docking our stern shaft port propellor having been badly worn on the bush. So have had orders to drop out of the convoy & miss a trip. The Orient Ormond turbine 3 propellors 15,000 & the Union Castle Norman 10,000 having replaced the former torpedoed ships.
July 2 & 3
Cleaning & painting ship inside & outside & overhauling machinery. Crew & shore labor employed. The vessel at anchor & moored to bouys awaiting for the use of the graving dock.
4th to 8th July
Under a overhaul. Engin room requirements overhauled. Transport chipping outside & painted & awaiting our turn for the dock. At present a torpedoed transport in dock under repair & 3 other torpedoed ships awaiting plates to come out from Britian. The was torpedoed twice. The 1st time she managed to come into port & was repaired & was again torpedoed the 2nd time & struck in exactly the same place as she were formally repaired at No. 2 hold. Cotton seed cargo saved her & eased the explosion. They managed to run her into Alexandria harbor & beach it. During our stay here we saw all the sights of Alexandria. Bathing beaches. Pompey’s pillar. Catacombs & several ancient buildings said to be hundreds & some thousands of years old. Everything is very expensive. 100% dearer than Australia at present.
Clothes & foodstuffs similar & all of very inferior quality. No white bread to be seen anywhere but very dark color bread & local butter of very poor quality. The city being full of troops probably on leave either from the hospitals or Palastine. We also visited several hospitals hundreds of soldiers laid up with different complaints. In fact taking the lot of hospitals of which there are many, thousands are in them of different complaints.
3.30 pm All shore labor finished work. It being the Mahometam (Christmas) guns were fired a salute of 21 guns. All the Egyptian state ships decorated with flags. Also the Sultan’s yacht. The British battleships & guardship Hallibal destroyers sloops & monitors hoisted up special ensigns. Guns fired at 7 pm until 3/30 pm. More guns fired & all the Jippos fasting during these hours. A custom of there religion. Witnessed the Sultan & his legal Italian wife parading the streets & followed by ladies of the Harem of which he has 200 of the pick of the Egyptian ladies.
Considered to be of a great honor to be in that position. Our transport being a matter of 400 yards moored from the palace. We are delayed from docking as 4 cargo transports are here after having been torpedoed & awaiting their turn for repairs. No steel plates available in the country. Several consignments sent out from England & the vessels sunk with their cargo.
All the streets decorated with arches & flags. The Egyptian natives dressed neat in their native dress. The streets crowded & all in very good order. All leave stopped for troops at the camps for fear of riots. So that the City of Alexandria is minus soldiers on leave. A very exceptional occurance & by what the shop people say very little business done.
The average damage done to these ships (which are being repaired here) by torpedoes. Their side have holes about 30 ft X 20 ft. Their divisional bulksheads saved them from sinking.
Arrived today large type of patrol ships like trawlers with
sterns & bows similar. Funnel & mast in the middle & bridges each end with 6 inch guns. The idea being at a distance it is hard to say which way these particular ships are going.
All troopdecks painted out white A.B.C.D.E & also 1000 rifle racks made & fitted in addition to those made in Australia. 1st & 2nd saloon staircase steps the rubberoid becoming spoilt on account of the hobnail field boots of the troops & officers. covering same with oak planks. Liferafts & lifebelts overhauled & those worn replaced by new.
Admiralty carpenters & joiners working on board. New type of sloops arrived built in small air tight sections to be used as escorts & for the carriage of mail. So much mail having been lost recently. French destroyers arrived today escorting a French food stuff convoy.
Still under a extensive overhaul. Main engines, boilers, auxiliary engines, pumps, tanks, caulking decks, boats, rafts, all troop decks painted out throughly. Crew quarters ready for survey & still awaiting the use of the dry dock for the port aft shaft of propeller.
Several large French destroyers & Italian arrived, also French large trawlers carrying cargo. A very good idea on account of submarines & they being a small target compared with the average cargo steamer. Also several British mystery steamers which have high speed & heavily armed & fitted out as merchant cargo slow steamers to deceive the Hun’s submarine. The work of destroying the enemy submarines is going on wonderfully.
Great stir at Alexandria. The Greek citizens called out by the Greek government. 700 Greeks sent across to Greece as the 1st detachment face rally to the colors. The hundreds of French, Italians & Greeks seen in the city of young men it is high time that a move should have been made in this direction.
Last night at 11 pm the survivors of a French Messageries Martimes transport 400 landed in a sloop. Out of 850 450 lives missing. She was bound with troops, civilian men, women & children from Madegasgar to Port Said & was torpedoed 50 miles off Alexandria.
There were 4 cargo ships in the convoy with her, escorted by a sloop & 4 trawlers. Two of the cargo boats were also sunk viz. 3 ships out of five torpedoed & sunk. One of the cargo ships was the Shire.
A large Italian oil tank came in having been in collision in a convoy off Alexandria, bows bulged & badly stowed in opposite No. 1 hatch.
At 11 am this day the flying convoy composed of Kiasar I Hind, Malwa, Canberra, Ormond & Norman arrived with a few hundred white troops & the rest a matter of 18,000 colored troops from France via Taronto for Palastine & Mesepotamia. We are still awaiting our turn for docking. So many ships being torpedoed that the dock is kept exceedingly busy not with standing the fact that only up to the water line is repaired whilst in dock & the rest done outside so as to cause as less delay as possible.
Finished our Australian stores & now on local foodstuffs. The 20 tons of flour we received a few days ago was so bad that it was sent ashore today & returned & replaced by another lot. The butter so they call it is worse than ordinary white lard. Tasteless & by all accounts it is local
butter made from Egyptian goat’s milk. The butter is used at present in all the leading restaurants & hotels in the city. Yet we live very well indeed considering the amount of foodstuffs lost through submarines.
Sat. July 20
H.M.A. Hospital ship Wandilla arrived here from England with 540 invalid Australian soldiers. Some very sad & bad cases on board. A day’s sail from Gibralter a German submarine appeared on the horizon & fired 3 shots from a 4.7 gun. 1st a few hundred yards ahead, 2nd a few yards astern & the third similar. A signal to stop a distance of 3 miles. The Wandilla stopped. the sub. signalled them to send a boat off. The Chief officer took charge of the boat & went over & brought over the 2nd in command. He came on board & consulted the Spanish naval officer who is carried on all hospital ships in the Mediterean accordingly to the new agreement between Germany & the Allies. So he inspected the ship throughly & was satisfied the sub on the serface within a few yards of the Wandilla. Photos of her were taken & developed the same we saw
by some of the officers on arrival at Alexandria. She has disembarked all her cases & sent by rail to Suez transshipment per Kanowra H.M.A.H.S. to Australia.
A cargo convoy left today in charge of the American yacht North Star formally Vanderbilt’s yacht & trawlers they were attacked by subs a few hours out. The North Star fought same & the convoy returned to Alexandria escorted by trawlers & none the worse for their experience.
July 21st Sunday
9 am Left our moorings & went to dry dock for cleaning ship’s bottom & painting. Also both aft shafts drawn out, also propellors taken off for repacking. The ship’s bottom examined & found distinct dents in plates for a matter of a hundred feet from port side to starboard where we had struck a submarine & sunk one a few month ago off the coast of Sardinia. The impression on the plates under the ship’s bottom as plain as if the marks had been chiseled out by man. The marks of the rail of the conning tower very visible & plain.
Naval experts & engineers & Lloyd’s surveyors down to examine same & came to the conclusion that the marks are doubtless those made whilst ramming & having collided with a submarine.
News today the Kossair a mail boat of the Kedival S.S. Co. torpedoed & sunk off Alexandria. This particular steamer ran during the whole of the war between Alexandria, Port Said, Create & Greece. Well armed of 2000 & always steamed unescorted. The amount of survivors & missing so far unknown. She carried passengers only & no troops. The official report is that only out of a compliment of 68, 33 were saved after being in the water for 15 hours & saved by a patrol trawler who by chance came that way. The Kossair traversed the Mediterean without a escort & by reports it appears a submarine was reported on his tract. So the captain protected re. leaving that afternoon at 3 pm on account of a convoy that left that same morning were attacked & returned to Alex. The authorities it appears said it was very necessary for the Kossair to leave that afternoon.
So at 3 pm she departed & was torpedoed having a few passengers aboard. At 10/30 pm that same night the Captain & chief engineer who had been 35 years in the company & 2nd officer were drowned. The crew whilst amongst the wreckage was spotted by a hydroplane & thence reported the matter ashore. She sunk in 2 minutes. A cargo steamer was also torpedoed & sunk the same day.
Another patrol trawler encountered a enemy sub on the surface & opened fire. The sub’s gun outranged the trawler. The crew therefore sent for assistance by wireless & in the meantime abandoned ship. A distroyer rushed to her assistance. The sub on sighting it on the horizon dived & disappeared. The abandoned trawler was manned & towed into Alex.
H.M.T. Indarra in dock having the stern shafts of both propellors drawn & repacked. At 4 pm whilst we officers were bathing at Mex. beach, a great bathing resort ½ a mile from the ship a British hydroplane had engine trouble & was forced to land. He came down within a 100 yards of hundreds on the beach. Men, women & children & smashed up the machine. The floats, wings & engine
were badly damaged. The observer & pilot 2 men were badly shaken but otherwise none the worse. They were on their way out from the hydrodome to seek Hun submarines & had 4 56 lbs bombs suspending & as luck happened the bombs stuck to the machine & did not explode otherwise they would have been blown up & hundreds of us killed & injured that were on the beach bathing at the time. The remains was taken to pieces & placed on motor lorries & taken back to the base.
Ship’s bottom painted antifouling paint. Also both propellors were taken off & after stern tubes repacked. The propellors each weigh 9 tons 14 cwt. & at 8 am towed out of dock & made fast at the coal wharf, took in 1000 tons of coal bunkers.
A barge full of case petrol oil towed from Alexandria to Port Said by a armed trawler. 2 submarines appeared when half way. The subs got the barge & fired on the trawler. The crew abandoned ship the sub took them prisnors & emptied some of the cases of oil into the subs. A British sloop heard the wireless calls & went to the trawlers assistance
& commenced firing on the subs. They dived & disappeared. The barge of oil sunk shortly after having been pierced with gun shot from the submarine. That same night at No. 6 dock gate they discovered a wireless plant in one of the native houses & captured some Turks & Germans. They had no doubt formally been communicating with the enemy subs.
Shifted to the bouys & made fast awaiting orders. The whole of the fast convoy tied up awaiting orders. Brittish, French, Japs & Italian destroyers & warships in & out every day.
Reported today in a large cargo convoy there were 2 standard Government cargo ships of 8500 tons burden, the War Vulture & the War ___. A sub appeared & commenced shelling sunk the trawler escort & struck the War ___ several times. Killing 30 of the crew of 60 the rest took to the boats the survivors were badly wounded. The sub steamed up to the boats & found the survivors in such a bad condition. Left them without food or water eventually picked up by a destroyer 24 hours later & brought into Alexandria.
Kaisar I Hind, Ormonde & Norman left today for Marseilles. The Indarra, Malwa & Canberra left behind broke up the main convoy in the Mediterean. No more troops (white) to be transfered from Mesepotamia & Palastine just yet. Another large convoy of cargo boats left for England escorted by a sloop & some mystery ships. These particular ships are fast & by appearance appear like a cargo tramp & are heavily armed with 6’ & 4’7 high velocity guns, also 7.5 howiziters.
News received today of a sloop 100 mls from Alexandria having sighted a periscope. Chased same & with depth charges blew the bows off the enemy submarine & consequently sunk.
We are moored to bouys next to the Sultan of Egypt’s yacht & a few hundred yards from his seaside palace. The Sultan entertained 500 guests this night composed of princes of Egypt & nobles. A splendid band played on the terrace of the palace & some splendid airs of music to midnight, the palace being well illumated. Fine weather prevails & we all wonder where our next trips will be. Still awaiting
orders. I may add the guests could be seen plainly on the terrace from our ship. The Egyptian ladies not allowed to join in with the gentlemen but simply allowed to see the entertainment through screened windows it being the strict custom & religion of the country Mohomedam. Every lady when out or in company with friends must be heavily veiled so that their features are not recognized. This law is strictly enforced so really, ladies in Egypt are of a 2nd consideration & little better off than slaves.
This day reported 4 cargo transports bound for Alexandria full of cargo in escort by a sloop & trawlers. The whole were torpedoed a few miles off the port. 3 sunk & one ran ashore in a very damaged condition. A good many lives lost & the survivors brought in to Alexandria. Notwithstanding that a fair patrol with sub. chasers, hydroplanes & monotors towing observation ballons & mine sweepers, the ships are still sunk in a alarming rate.
Boat drill all boats lowered & sails set, pulled with oars & swimming for two hours. Crew handled the lifeboats in a very fair manner.
The below torpedoed transport was the mentioned Clan McKay.
4 pm a trawler passed close this day with about 80 survivors of a cargo transport that was sunk outside this day by a submarine. The survivors were all dressed in dungarees, a pitifull sight, these survivors were mostly Indians.
News this day re. the torpedoing & sinking of the ambulance transport Australian Warillda in the English Channel with the loss of about 123 lives. It appears she was struck in the enginroom & one of the engins could not be stopped so consequently with the way on the ship it became awkward to save life & man the life boats.
At 5 pm the Ladybird monotor & the monotor Aspex towing a balloon went out with the idea of bagging the submarine that sunk the former steamer.
At 8 pm a convoy of 5 ships arrived well escorted by sloops of war, monotors hydroplanes & armed trawlers.
News today that Capt. Sims of the Warillda was drowned by boarding his ship after leaving her to save the ship’s papers.
H.M. cargo oil engin. steamer Glemmoy in dry dock having been torpedoed out side a few miles off Alexandria a few weeks ago. A large amount of her side blown away, 40 x 20 ft of her starboard side & managed to be towed in under a powerful escort. The hospital transport Glenmore Castle departed this day full of invaladed English soldiers from Palastine for England.
A convoy of 9 large cargo steamers left for England at 9 am. When 3 miles from the entrance a submarine was sighted. A sloop & the North Star, a auxiliary cruiser formally Mr Vanderbilt’s yacht (the American millionaire) dropped some heavy depth charges, which could be felt very distinct on our ship moored inside the harbor. (Result unknown).
The column of water & black smoke arose fully a hundred feet high. The mine sweepers whilst sweeping for mines found two in the channel & brought same to the surface & fired on them causing them to explode with a terrible force about 2 miles off the port entrance. Laid by some submarines during the night.
Took the crew of 2 of our lifeboats for boat & sail drill & also swimming sport. A very pleasant afternoon sailing amongst the shipping & ships of war.
At Alexandria, hospital ship Assaye in harbor full of wounded English soldiers.
1918 Aug. 13 Tues.
Sad news received today that a oiltank transport full of benzine was torpedoed a few miles out side yesterday. After the torpedoe struck her, she caught fire. The benzine spread all around her for hundreds of feet & blazed on the water. The crew comprising of 65 hands all told jumped overboard & were either drowned or burnt. The destroyers & their boats could not possibly get any where near her. Consequently a fire fore & aft & all her crew perished.
After 8 weeks as a standing by ship we have had orders to go to the wharf & relieve the Kaisar I Hind H.M.T. on the run from Taranto to Alexandria.
Aug. 14 Wednesday
Yesterday the H.M.T. Kaisar I Hind came in from Taranto escorted by 3 distroyers full of officers & troops from leave in England.
Still at the wharf awaiting the arrival of troops. The oil tank H.M.T. is still afloat & burning out side. After she burns out completely they intend towing her inside for the use of the steel plates only as plates are hard to obtain just now for repairing
torpedoed ships. Official news today re the French troopship Australien that sunk out side here Alexandria a few weeks ago. 460 lives perished, another 19 & 1200 saved.
Embarking 2300 troops 300 of them being officers the rest non. comm. men & privates. Also 1000 bags of mail for England. The Caladonia & Norman troop ships arrived here this day from Marseilles full of English troops. Also the hospital ship Wandilla full of Australian wounded.
The H.M.T. Indarra’s troops consists of English, Welsh, Scotch, Irish & New Zealand & Australian troops details. The majority of these troops have been up in Palastine & Mesepotamia for 3 & 3 ½ years & now bound for France via Taranto Italy. The N. Zealand hospital ship Maheno
still alongside the wharf awaiting the arrival of wounded soldiers.
Embarked 300 troops & left wharf for anchorage.
9 am Boat drill & raft stations, served out lifebelts for all troops.
2 pm Departure for Italy escorted out from Alexandria by monotors towing ballons, motor chasers, trawlers sweeping for mines & Jap destroyers.
Being sent over to Taranto singly our escort composes of the Jap. destroyers Katsura, Kaede & Ume. 14 hours out submarine reported on our track, 80 miles south of the island of Create.
Fine weather prevails & strong head wind. Zig zaging course night & day the moon being up throughout the night. Averaging in speed 15 knots
Fine weather prevails & so far have seen nor encountered any submarines. Passed a cargo convoy at 3 am going the same way. It consisted of 5 cargo boats escorted by trawlers & one sloop. During the night some of the military officers were caught smoking cigarettes & striking matches on deck. Court martialed next morning & placed under arrest & detention.
The Tommies have conducted themselves splendid, a matter of 1700. The officers the majority are from India are of a very poor class & always full of complaints. In fact often asked a few if
they realize war is on. The most discontented lot of officers that we have had on board so far. They being from the Indian frontier accounts for this, for had they come from Palastine or Mesepotomia on the Western front they would have been experienced men & would have different tack. Instead one would think they were out on a yachting cruise. The Captain & Commanding officer of troops, also two Brigadeier generals were very much disappointed with them, considering that the meals were 150% more allowance than as per orders from the Admiralty.
Arrived at Taranto at 1 pm having encountered a mod. gale for the last 16 hours and anchored at the outer harbor Mar Piccolo. At 4 pm proceeded into the inner harbor & passed 6 Italian dreadnoughts, several Brittish & French ships of war.
Moored at 6 pm & disembarked 2300 troops by 8.30 pm into transport barges. This is the 1st trip that we made successfully with having
been attacked by submarines. As per usual we arrived off the harbor & came in without a special escort of any description. The Italians never seem to take any interest in that respect off Taranto beyond the port being well mined at the entrance & also with nets.
In the harbor is moored the cargo transport Imba [?] having her bows blown off a few days ago by a torpedoe. It appears she was full of ammunition. The torpedoe struck her forward at the extreme end at the fore peak. She steamed in on her own steam without a bow, her water tight bulkshead kept her afloat. A wonderful deed considering she was full of ammunition. The ammunition about 2000 tons was discharged & sent on to Salonika by another steamer.
Comm. loading foodstuffs for the Palastine forces also ammunation & barbed wire & entaglement. A large quantity of bacon in cases. Italian conscripts labor corps employed, supervised by Naval Reserve officers & N.C.O. & bluejackets in each hold to prevent smoking & pilifering.
A great display of Italian airoplanes flying overhead & low throughout the day, it being one of the Italian
hydroplanes & airoplane bases. Also torpedoe firing practice & heavy guns. Taranto being full of dreadnoughts, cruisers & torpedoe boats, it being one of the strongholds of the Italian Navy. Here we met the H.M.T. Ormonde one of our former convoy which is loading troops & foodstuffs for Egypt & due to leave on the 24 or 25 inst. Also several French obsolete cruisers used as troopships conveying troops to & from Salonika & Corfu & Greece.
The British naval officer informs us that up to the present during this war they have had 700,000 troops through Taranto not including Italians & have had not a single accident in the embarking & disembarking. Considering the work is all done by lighters as there is not sufficient water for the transports to go alongside the wharves. This work of Allied troops & cargo (war material is all done by the British naval authorities (which is a credit).
We are expected to leave here in the course of 10 days full of cargo & troops for Kantara, Suez Cannel, the main base for Palastine. Working cargo night & day so expect to fill up. So many ships have been torpedoed amongst the cargo
transports that they have been forced to use the troopships for cargo as well as troops.
Arrived this day a hulk full of can oil towed from Alexandria 1000 miles by a tug & now loading food stuffs for Egypt. This is a new move on account of so many steamers being sunk. Had it been done pre war time it would have been considered most ridiculous.
Sunday. Troop & war material shipped & cargo worked as per usual including 300 tons of case Bass bottle ale. Having a few hundred of cases of beer down No. 1 & No. 6 naval bluejackets under a warrant officer guarding the cases of beer night & day, the cargo being worked in by Italian labor. Early in the morning at daybreak some empty cases of beer were seen floating around the ship evidently broached cargo & 3 of our sailors drunk. Probably been down the hold during the night & the naval guard no doubt in coe. with them. Men’s quarters searched, no trace of beer found but plenty of empty bottles floating around the ship.
The H.M.T. Ormonde 15,000 tons reg. left this day for Alexandria with 3000 troops.
Great display of Italian hydroplanes looping the loop & dropping bombs on dummy periscopes. Miniture convoys formed & zigging as they would in reallity, guarded by trawlers & distroyers & hydroplanes & attacked by real torpedoes without explosives. A fine display of manouvers.
We have this day Count [blank] a very important Italian nobleman on board for luncheon with 3 ladies of the Italian society & the head British naval officers. The two generals that we brought over from Egypt this trip were Brig. General [blank[ & [blank].
The Italian labor that are used for the cargo loading are a very poor specimen of white workmen, in fact as slow & tackless as raw colored labor. The amount of work done by each gang is about the third of the amount that would be done by the Australian lumpers under the same conditions.
This day a French troopship of Messageries Maritimes came in from Salonika full of French & British troops. It appears 50 miles off here she was attacked by a sub & the torpedoe missed her by a few feet. The sub then was bombed by a distroyer.
The weather here it being August is very warm & oppressive. We are having some very good news daily in regards of our progress in the Western front & we all sincerely hope that it will be the means of a crushing defeat to the Huns & sincerely hope peace will be declared in the near future.
News now that submarine telephones & wires are laid across the bed of the Meditterean & with these they can detect the presence of Hun subs & also the direction they are going hence destroyers follow same & drop depth charges. Also that the latest British submarines have one 12 inch gun fitted on them which is almost uncreditable, yet a fact.
Four of our sailors this day found under the influence of drink. Probably the cause of brooching beer from the ship’s hold of which we have 300 tons, 6000 cases. Naval blue jackets guarding same, but yet they manage to get it & no chance of any clue so far re. how they manage it.
Several French cruisers full of troops from Salonika & British troopships all for the Western front.
Shipped a large quantity of bacon in cases for Egypt for the Allied troops. Same sent off in lighters cases partly submerged in salt water. A shameful method of spoiling good food. Reported same to the authorities, Government Property, & as per usual no one seems to care. A private firm would not tolerate such poor management. The amount of waiste is awful in foodstuffs & hard material.
Two naval signalmen on board & all officers having a good & through practice at Semephore & Morse, the same being very necessary whilst in a troopship. Good news received daily re the Western front, the best news & advance since the commencement of the war.
This morning whilst some hydroplanes were up flying one broke down & fell into the harbor a few feet from our ship & capsized. Motor boats & a tug went to the rescue & managed to save the pilot & observer without much injury beyond a wetting.
Wittnessed some torpedoing practise 1½ mile targets. The tracks were not very visible & very fair shots.
Sailed all around the harbor amongst the dreadnoughts, cruisers, torpedoe boats & all classes of ships of war.
Went up to old Taranto the streets being only the majority about 20 feet wide. Old fashonable houses & flats. The Italian inhabitants swarmed like bees in the narrow streets. In the poorer working class part of the town the filth & poverty was awful. The sanitary system exceedingly bad consequently filth & smell everywhere. They have cases of small pox, plague & no wonder, by far more dirty & filth about than Alexandria. Personally a disgrace to the Italian government. The slums of Melbourne & Sydney would do credit compared with the main streets of Taranto.
No doubt the working classes are suffering badly on account of the present war. Pracically no money in the town & the Italians being of a filthy race by nature. The town is under martial law, armed guard of Italian soldiers & sailors parading the streets. They are to their credit neatly & clean dressed.
Finished loading full up with cargo for military field use & 5000 bags of mail for Egypt, India & Australia & news that we shall take in 2400 troops for Egypt on
the 7th & depart for Egypt under escort of Japaneese destroyers on Sunday Sept. 8. Good & glorious news daily from the French & Italian fronts.
H.M.T. Malwa & Norman arrived here this day with long service soldiers for leave from Egypt en route to the old country. Also a few thousands of Indians for the Western front of France. Also their escort arrived viz. 6 Jap. distroyers. We are due to leave full of troops together for Egypt on Sept 8th.
Some more torpedoe practice today on a 2500 yards target. Their track not very visible outside of 500 yards. Aeroplanes & hydroplanes on practice & doing some great stunts in the air & flying & floating around our transport. West India coloured soldiers used on board for cleaning up the soldiers’ mess decks. We are awaiting the arrival of troops from England who have been on leave.
A small German oil tank captured now alongside of us converted into a temperory water boat. It holds 1000 tons. She was formally the oil steamer that brought oil from Roumania to Taranto.
The Ch. Engineer of the H.M.T. Vigilant came on board to dinner. This tug is used to tow a 500 tug hulk full of general cargo from Alexandria to Taranto. The hulk is manned by Egyptians. The tug has a colored crew with a European Captain & Ch. Engineer & two gunners & armed only with a 12 pounder. On the way over without a escort a distance of 1000 mls she ran short of coal & had to make for the Greek Island under reduced speed burning all her wood work fittings. The Captain being up practically all the way on arrival here was sent to the hospital & sent to England. As the Chief Engineer stated it was a very risky undertaking under the conditions. The Captain & himself complained bitterly & reported the matter to the H.M.S. Queen, she being the battleship guard at Taranto. A simple prey to the enemy submarines.
News received this day of the death of the Captain of the H.M.T. Caladonia he died of heart desease. She was one of our troop convoy ships & one of the P & O Company.
Embarked 2000 troops & 20 sisters
3.30 pm Left Taranto inner harbor for the outer harbor. [anchor] & orders to proceed to sea under escort at 7 pm tonight with four Japaneese distroyers & H.M.T. Norman bound for Port Said. We have now on board 3 generals.
Light breeze fine & clear speed 15 knots. Zig zag course during the day & straight courses during the night. 100 miles from Taranto at 10.30 pm steering gear broke down. It being a telemeter gear & worked by hydrolic, the breakdown was caused by air bubbles in the pipes. Continued the best way we could by steering with the engins which meant a great loss of speed. Lost the convoy in the dark & 2 of the distroyers remained behind. The transport was practically helpless with over 2000 souls on board & being then in a very dangerous position for submarines. The air was forced out by hydrolic pressure & fixed by midnight. So proceeded at 16 ½ knots & caught up the convoy
at 2 am.
Fine weather prevailed the weather being extreemly hot & muggy. Reports by wireless of submarines about but none sighted. At 10 pm we were 2 miles behind the convoy. The guide morsed & complained bitterly so put up extra speed & took up our proper position.
Our speed reduced this day to 13 knots, zig zagging throughout. Signals from the guide complaining of our transport being not in stations the reason I shall not mention here & exposing ourselves in the event of a submarine attack.
Two military captains volunteered to trim coal during the night in the bunkers. The went down & worked hard & I spoke to them next morning. They had a great experience but owing to the work being hard & unacustomed to it were completely knocked out & hands blistered.
Concert held this night which proved a great success
among the nurses. We have Lady Minto’s sisters, they are going to India for 5 years. Also Queen Alexandria sisters with a very pretty uniform of red shashes red cuffs & white blouses & dresses.
The whole of the troops which compose of men over 40 years of age are those who did garrison work in England for the past 18 months during the air raids. Some are going to India & the rest to Mesepotamia & Palastine. Speed reduced to 12 knots so as to be in Port Said Thursday morning 12th of Sept. 1918.
At 8 am 20 miles off Port Said we were met by a French distroyer a hydroplane flew & all around until our arrival. At 9.30 am we entered the harbor of Port Said & moored there for 2 hours taking in water & then proceeded with the Norman to Kantara a military town of troops the base of the Palastine operations 25 miles up the Suez Cannel.
We steamed down the cannel & passed our 4 Jap.escort destroyers. Our troops cheered each one as we passed them. They were fast & taking in oil fuel alongside a oil tank wharf. At 6 pm we made fast at Kantara wharf & disembarked all our troops & commenced discharging our cargo.
Cleaning ship & troop decks Egyptian labor discharging our cargo. Here we could see the Turkish prisnors come in from the Palastine front the compound being only a 100 yards off. Also thousands of them employed working making roads etc. They have 10,000 Turkish prisnors of war under a strong escort.
Trainloads of Turkish prisnors came in this morning, all clean & clad by the British. All happy & cheering the British troops in camp. No doubt these chaps are of a very ignorant disposition.
Orders this day of proceeded to Suez & thence to Basrah up the Persian Gulf & India for troops for Suez & thence Palastine.
The officers & engineers asked to day whether they would volunteer to do another 12 months on account of our term being up on Oct 29, 1918. The Capt. is going, said he had enough of it being a old man of 64 & the purser, who is 63. These are exceptions. With the exception of the officers. Ch. engineer 2nd 3rd & 4th engineers & electrictian & Ch. steward & Ch. coook all hands are going back to Australia & the transport will be manned by Indian sailors, stokers & steward & cook & will be probably altered for their convenience on account of religious chaste meals etc. at Bombay before the term is up.
We all rejoice at leaving the Mediterean for some time to come & going to run in the Indian Ocean. So after having 10 months in the worst submarine zone, we are going now to a part where we shall be safe as far as submarines are concerned.
Fin discharging our cargo of Govt stores. This is a town of 80,000 troops composed of all tents & huts & thousands of tons of war matereal. Here we met hundreds of Australians
& British soldiers. At 8 am we left for the town of Suez for coal & water through the Suez Cannel. The weather being exceedingly hot.
Along the banks are the remains of the barbed wire fences, dugouts & trenches, observation posts etc used by the British troops 3 years ago when the Turks came & fought & were badly beaten with a loss of about 7000 dead. As we steam through this Sunday we sighted the camel troops on patrol in batches of 100 men & sentries posted every few miles. Thousands of pounds of light railways tanks etc rotting & of no use just now after the former defence in 1915. Also the crosses on the banks were 8000 Turks were buried.
5 pm We arrived & dropped anchor at Suez. Quite a treat to be away from the submarine zone & safe as far as they are concerned, after 9 continous months running across the Mediterean with troops both ways.
The Canberra arrived here from Alexandria. This transport is also going on the same run as us.
They are making a big move by bringing a large number of troops from Mesepotamia Persian Gulf to Egypt & thence to Palastine. These are at present ready for bringing Indians over. The transport Indarra, Canberra, Kaskar Royal George, Norman French 20,000 liner.
The carpenters & joiners sent aboard from ashore dismantling all the tables from the troop decks, by this we will be able to carry 600 more Indians than white troops. We shall call also at Bombay for coal & water on the way back.
The Australian transport Canberra’s white crew are also going to be sent back shortly & she is going to be manned by a Indian crew. The captain is going to be relieved his nerves done. The officers remaining.
Work of dismantling tables & seats from all the troop decks as the Indian soldiers according to custom have their meals seated on mats. Again it makes more room for to carry more troops.
The Port Sydney & the Devon arrived at Suez from Australia the later brought our new captain & he joined us this day. Capt. Newbury.
Capt. Osborne being at Alexandria on buisness he is unaware of the arrival of the Devon, but is due here tomorrow. Troop deck finished & cleaned out all ready for troops. The Canberra sailed today for the Persian Gulf (Basra) to bring Indians over to Palastine.
The harbor of Suez is full of ships, cargo, oil, troopships & two hospital ships, the Egypt & Dongala which are running from here to India with wounded Indian soldiers. Several steamers in from Australia.
Our Capt. Osborne returned this day from Alexandria & is now preparing to leave for Australia, being relieved by Capt. Newbury. Took in stores for the Indian troops, extra cookhouses fixed on deck for their use as they prepare & cook all foodstuffs with their own cooks according to their religion.
We are now at anchor a mile off the entrance of the Suez Cannel. Our crew have had a day off. The agents, P. & O. Company, finding the launch the means of transit from
the troopship to Suez. This town being small & of no interest otherwise it breaks the monotony.
Invited on board the Casses, one of the Shell Co. of London oiltank, which brings oil to Egypt from the Persian Gulf.
Commenced to coal ship taking in 2000 tons of coal in bunkers which makes 2300 tons total. Two more hospital ships arrived from Basra, Mesepotamia and troopships arriving everyday with troops from India. Also, foodstuff ships a dozen or so daily & similar amount from various places with guns & material of war coming & going through the Suez Cannel.
We are due to leave for the Persian Gulf in the course of a few days for Mesepotamia now specially fitted out for Indian native troops & white officers. We hear today that the cost of those of the crew that are going home to Australia after completing their 12 months including wages to arrival at Sydney will be approximate £7000 not including the cost of those sent to relieve same & that the Australian
Government are paying £400 per day for the use of the ship. The government finding & paying for all coal consumed, which averages 2000 tons per month & 125 tons per 24 hours when steaming full. Also, all work & moneys expended on troopdecks fittings cleaning etc. & the fitting & repairs of the transport after the war will be paid by the Australian government.
Coal being for the last 12 months £16 per ton which is almost uncreditable but considering we burn no other but Welsh & North of England coal & the risk also the amount of coal ships torpedoed & mined on the way out. As no transports use any other kind of coal in the Mediterean but the superior quality, as Indian coal is of no avail for high steaming. I may say that the government pays for all foodstuffs consumed by the troops & officers or otherwise than that consumed by the crew only.
So that £15,000 per month would hardly pay the total expenses of this transport.
Completed coaling after much delay yesterday. A sand storm & heavy gusts of wind blew hard, for a while sea rose. All the lighters broke adrift, 6 in all & after much trouble they were picked up by tugs & towed into the harbor.
We have 2 civil service 1st saloon passengers & 1 Indian colored sargeant on board, the former going to Aden a matter of 2 ½ days run the passage money each being £58, a very high amount.
Capt. Osborne left the ship for good at 1 pm. The officers gave him a send off. He was downhearted having resigned after being 6 years master of the transport. He requested the officers to give him all their addresses & he & Mrs Osborne will call & see our wives & relatives on his return to Sydney. He may be able to go back to Sydney in the Devon she is due to leave Suez in about a fortnights time for Australia full up with 1914 leave soldiers.
At 2 pm we hove up anchor & proceeded to Basra up the Persian Gulf via Aden for coal bunkers.
Before departure the transport was supplied with a extra set of awnings fore & aft so as to have 2 sets of awnings set & each officer was supplied by the government free a white regulation helmet, as this place Basra is said to be about the hottest place on this earth.
Fine weather prevailed & smooth sea, the regulation speed being 12 knots as per Admiralty orders. Also 3 Naval signalmen supplied by the government one for each watch. We steamed down the straits of [blank] passing many vessels & transports on the way, they all making for the Suez Cannel. As this is a very busy spot the [indecipherable] world’s through fare, at night all mast head & side lights lit, deck lights & port cabin lights for the 1st time for 12 months. Quite a treat reminds us of pre war times. Steaming on our own for the 1st time for the past 10 months without destroyers & steering straight courses. Every one seems to be lost & cannot
quite grasp the change free from raiders & submarine attack. Yet we still retain the Naval gunners & the guns manned as usual night & day.
At noon we passed the Brothers Light house, a dismal rock in the Red Sea & at a distance we see Mount Sinai where Moses found the slaps of stone & commandments (so they say). It is very close & warm, the wind following us & consequently no draft.
We passed several old passenger boats full of Arab plimgrins going to worship Mohomat tomb at Mecca. All steerage passengers huddled up like sheep. Keeping up the old customs that originated thousands of years ago, going to worship Mahomad their God & Savior.
We passed this day the Port of Jedda where all the pilgrims land on their way to Mecca where Mahomet was buried. Hundreds of thousands of them, Egyptians, Arabs, Turks, Indians pass through here every year. The majority of the pilgrims are so poor that they cannot afford to pay for carriage from
the Port of Jedda where they are brought by steamers & then they have to walk back & from a distance of 12.4 miles. [124 miles] On the way hundreds perish & also killed & robbed on their way through the mountain passes. When they get to Mecca & Mohomad’s tomb there they leave money & valuables on his tomb as Peter’s pence. No one seems to know where this money & valuables go to, the pilgrims being so illiterate & so simple. Yet the old custom goes on year after year until such time as these class of creed are properly educated. A matter of time. Probably there will be a great change after this war & the evolution of this world.
The weather is exceedingly hot & oppressive, in fact the hottest we have experienced during our stay in Egypt. That is sailing down the Red Sea, on the land probably it is far worse. The heat so intense that a European could not live with any comfort in such a country, so that the British troops have to put up with great hardship being out in these parts.
Breeze sprung up today cooler in the morning & very hot during the afternoon. Several of the crew laid up through the heat wave. Temp. 96 & very damp heat.
Temperature decreased this day to 91° still warm & damp steaming down the Red Sea. Crew allowed rum as a stumulent & greatly apprechiated. At 7 pm we were off Permin in the Straits of Bakel Mandeb the entrance of the Red Sea & stopped by the forts & a man of war. Examoned, passed & proceeded. The temp. dropped to 85° when out of the Red Sea, Every one rejoicing.
At 6 am off Aden, at 8 am moored & took in 600 tons of coal all in bags from lighters & worked by Arabs. In this port we met 3 warships, the Topas, Doris & Venus. It is a small town built under high hills & not a blade of vegetation or trees to be seen anywhere.
At 4.30 pm we finished coaling & departed for Basra Mesepotamia at 5 pm. Nice breeze & cool. Temp. 85°. Whilst at Aden 6 of the crew attended by the doctor suffering from excessive heat.
Good news received this day by wireless previous to arrival of Bulgaria surrendering unconditionally. On arrival we heard that Bulgaria had given up all her railway stores to the Allies.
5 pm finished coaling ship & weighed anchor in charge of a pilot & departed for Basra Persian Gulf.
6 pm the pilot left, so proceeded at regulation speed for our distenation.
Fine weather prevailed the temperature have gone down to 82°. We passed one solitary patrol man of war & steamed at night without our regulation lights. But otherwise dim lights allowed to be used in the different accomodations, the idea being so as to evade raiders & prevent same from seeing us for any distance at night, as our regulation mast head lights are visible about 12 miles.
We are steaming about parerall with the land & about 60 miles off so that the land is out of sight & the idea being to keep well out so as to be always in a depth of water above 600 feet deep at least.
Inside the 600 feet line probably there are still mines laid near the coast by raiders who frequented these shores during the early stages of the war.
Splendid weather prevails & we are receiving very encouraging news daily by our wireless re. the Allies advancing on all fronts & today news re. the capture of nearly ¼ of a million prisnors at the Western front during the month of September. Passed a few transports coming from Basra.
Sighted land this day at noon. 30 miles inside of us a point projecting out by the name of Ras Al Hard. We having hauled in purposely to verify our astronomical position as found by the sun & stars. Having checked our chronometers we hauled out again to keep outside of the 100 fathoms depth. Rigged up today two large canvas baths for the use of the native soldiers Indians. One on the saloon deck & the other on the foreward well deck, each capable of holding 10,000 gallons of water & 4 feet depth.
This coast of Arabia is very desolute & dismal. Not a light or marks to be seen for over a thousand miles on its coast. The tribes there being semecivilized & hostile by nature, yet as luck happens they bear the Turk such animosity that now thousands of them are fighting against the Turks & therefore helping the Allies. King Hessian a Arab King is doing good work with his thousands of troops, carrying out a raiding fight & helping the Allies immensely.
This country was formally ruled by the Suntan of Turkey, the method of government barbarous. Now these Arab troops have advanced from Mesepotamia to the North of Palastine.
Practically all the potatoes we took aboard as stores at Suez for the Indian troops have gone bad in the course of the 1st 4 days out. The excessive heat during the 1st few days. These potatoes cost £65 per ton at Suez, potatoes there being exceedingly scarce & dear.
Having to carry sufficient water to last us from Suez until our return a matter of 26 days for our engins & crew & 3000 troops, as the river water of the Tigris Basra is not fit to drink on account of fever prevailing. Water is served out daily very spareingly & every precaution taken so that there is no waste. Our engin condensers & evaporaters are going for all they are worth & our tanks hold 1400 tons 280,000 gallons of shore fresh water for domestic & drinking purposes. When at Aden coaling no water could be procured there. The well water of Arabia being very brackish & consequently in the towns they depend solely on condensed water. Machines & tanks fixed for that purpose.
Gentle breeze in the Persian Gulf. Temperature 95° very hot. Impossible to remain in our cabins all hands sleeping on deck. Passed several Arab & Persian sailing craft rigged up as they were in the old Testement time. No lights exibited from these at night.
Consequently a good many nearly run down at night. Should any of these be sunk under this circumstance it would be there own fault.
Still steaming up the Persian Gulf, passing the mainland within a few miles & islands close. Very poorly lit up & practically no fixed land marks. Still very hot this being winter time in the Northern hemisphere it must be unbearable summer time.
9 am Sighted several troopships & oiltanks at [anchor] & a lightship, Shaubb al Arab. No land visible & anchored at the anchorage of Basra a distance of 6 miles from the town as there is not sufficient water for to proceede up the river for vessels of the Indarra class.
Received news from Basra by wireless that we shall be filled with troops at our present position. Still hot & muggy with no wind. Therometer 96° in a shade. There is a solitary guard ship at the entrance, a small sloop of war at anchor.
H.M.T. Aranda came alongside & made fast, full of troops water & stores from Basra & embarked troops Indians with British officers from Mesepotamia. These troops have been out 3 ½ years at the Dardanelles, Western front, Salonika & Mesepotamia & now down from 50 miles north of Bagdad & going to Suez & Alexandria thence to Salonika to relieve the white troops there.
They are a fine specimen of Indian troops composed of all castes & creeds. They have their own noncommissioned officers, Lieut. Captains & under the supervision of British officers. They all do their own cooking, special fire old fashioned grates fixed on deck for their convenience & live on curry & rice pancakes & water. 2 meals a day. Rum issued out to them twice a day in very small quantities. They are very clean in their habits & have very peculiar ways re. cooking as a white man must not handle their food.
This is strictly enforced according to their religion of the 3000 Indian troops fully equipped. Hundreds of them had a piece of wood for cooking. The British officers inform us that they brought same down 500 miles along with them, yet were informed that there would be plenty of coal on the transport for cooking purposes. Some have long hair & other cut theirs short according to their religion. Whilst none of them are allowed to cut their whiskers, so consequently being young men of 25 years old or so they appear at least 20 years older with beards.
Very active & smart. Whilst washing with their long hair down their back at a distance they appear like women especially the younger men with no moustache & beard.
10 am All troops & stores water etc aboard, we left for Suez. Whilst at the mouth of the Euphriates River the H.M.T.
Manitau a large 12,000 ton liner of the Atlantic Transport Co. of London arrived. The crew’s agreement having expired, they refused to take the ship from here to England. So consequently concription covered them as per law of the British Isles. They were replaced by Indians & the white crew dealt by the naval authorities & put on one of the B.I transports to Bombay under arrest & will be tried there by Court Marshal & probably lose a great deal of their money in expenses & also imprissoned there.
They were on the steamer which brought off our troops & appeared a very low class of British sailors & especially firemen. Yet to refuse to proceed in a troopship in such a out of way place as Basra they deserve severe punishment, which no doubt they will have later. Some of the firemen we have on our ship would do the same & are just a poor type. In fact I.W.W. to the core, if they had the opportunity, but are well kept under & in hand throughout.
[I.W.W. = International Workers of the World]
This trip going back 8 of our stokers sick & laid up, so consequently steaming under 5 boilers only, 2 fires down. So that our speed should be only 11 ½ knots per hour. No immediate danger from submarines or raiders in the Persian Gulf.
News received this day a rumour that the Kaisar has abdecated. We all sincerly hope it is true & worse. Also, great victories on the Western front & also Palastine.
13 Oct. Sunday
Beautiful day, clear & fine the therometer highest 89°.
At 7 am the troops were drilling on all decks, rife drill machine gun section & phisique drill. At noon we passed the island of within a few miles & at 4 pm we passed the lightship fine & clear throughout & passed dozens of Persian & Arab dhows bound from one Persian port to a Arab village across the Gulf. These old fashoned sailing ships sail & drift across today precisely the same as they did a thousand years ago.
The Indian troops seem quite happy & contented & throughly enjoying the change viz. the sea trip.
Good news received daily re. the war by wireless & we are all expecting the unconditional surrender of Turkey daily. As a big move is being made now on the Palastine front 10’s of thousands of Indian troops on the way over to give them the final knock out blow.
6 am we passed [blank] & [blank] & steamed out of the Persian Gulf into the Gulf of Oman. Still warm & very oppressive. Temperature 91° during the day & 90° at night. No wind, calm & the sea like glass. The troops drilled physicial & rife & machine gun drill each battalion has 16 Lewis machine guns. They are capable of firing 140 rounds a minute manned by 6 Indians & proved very effective.
A robbery being committed on board during last night. One of our ships quartermasters lost £29 in notes from his room & a able seaman £8. No trace of the culprit. Inquiries fruitless having so many thousands on board. Another boiler lit & the speed increased to 12 ½ knots on account of being 12 days steaming
& not being able to obtain water before we get to Suez. The fresh water is only on during certain hours day & night to prevent wastage.
Still fine weather sea like glass, very light breeze & the temperature having gone down to 83°. Half the troops are ordered to sleep on deck, the other half below. The whole of the troops are drilled in turns every day & have a very queer war cry when charging this is taught them. It sounds like a dog barking, the idea being it makes a moral effect on the enemy soldiers. These Indian soldiers are no doubt very smart soldiers when under the British officers & when fully armed & equipped.
Similar weather, nice & cool both day & night. News by wireless today re. the torpedoeing of the cross channel boat in the Irish Sea. 400 lives lost & also of a auxiliary cruiser, the Otranto, having collided with the Kashawar & over 400 lives lost.
News every day re. the war & joyful news today re. the riots in Berlin & the news confirming the abdication of the Kiasar. Also of the rioters breaking up the statues of the old monach at Berlin, of Germany sueing for peace & of them eccepting Presendent Wilson’s terms & of Wilson refering to them that it must be unconditional surrender.
The Colonel of the Indian troops, officers & the Indian troops are highly pleased at the result. They all say to the man, fight & no surrender until unconditional surrender, with the entire downfall of the German Empire & her allies.
Land sighted 400 miles east of Aden for the 1st time for 4 days & we expect to reach Aden on Saturday 19th at noon if all goes well for coal & water. We have seen no steamers or patrol ships since we left the Persian Gulf. Since all the crew are leaving this trip at Suez in the course of a few days, having done their turn
viz. 12 months. They will by what we can gather be replaced by a Indian crew, stokers, sailors & stewards etc.
The British officers inform us that Mesepotamia around & north of Bagdad where they are from, that the natives & Turks are devoid of food in fact on the verge of starvation. The country being temperary ruined by the Turks when retreating & the fighting at that part having come to a standstill. This part being one of the richest oilfield in the world, so therefore the British have done well in fighting for it. It has kept the Mediterean fleet in fuel during the whole of this war. Otherwise it would have been very gloomy, considering the means of suppling same otherwise would have been through the most dangerous submarine zone.
This day before arrival we had news by wireless contradicting the news re. Germany’s eccepting Wilson peace terms. Every one was disappointed.
At 10 am we arrived off Aden & stopped by the examination steamer & examined & passed. Took a pilot on board & made fast at 10.30 am. comm. [commenced] coaling ship & taking in water. The harbor contains another troopship full of Indians from India, a French troopship, also several ships of war & cargo boats coaling. By 4 pm we took in 600 tons of coal & at 4.30 pm departed for Suez.
Whilst at Aden we heard the good news of the Germans having been driven away from the Belgiun coast & also the capture of Lille & the taking of Zubergge of which we were all pleased.
Whilst coaling the natives Arabs swarmed alongside with tobacco ciggerettes & matches & did a splendid trade during the few hours stay there.
At 2 am we entered the Straits of Babel Man Deb. & opposite the Island of Perim the key of the Red Sea. Strongly fortified narrow entrance & mined. We were chalenged by the guard warship & signaled the secret code pass word obtained at Aden a few hours previous.
They signalled for us to pass, so without stopping or delay for examination we passed on. There we met & passed the HMT Norman full of troops from Basra direct did not call at Aden, so consequently did not know the pass word & had to stop boarded & examined by the warship passed & proceeded. The weather in the Red Sea being glorious, cool & mod breeze, quite the reverse to what it was 16 days ago when we came through. Passed Owen [?] Is. lighthouse within a mile at 10 am. On the beach could be seen on of the Duke line of steamers having run ashore there 40 years ago. Intact as far as the hull is concerned.
4 pm passed the lighthouse of Centre Peak Island.
Well up the Red Sea & passed [blank] at 7 pm last night. The temperate has gone up considerably 95° in a shade, so it is very warm & muggy. Pracically all the troops sleeping on deck. Troops drilling daily on all decks from 6 am to 6 pm & well exercised at phyicial & rife & machine
gun drill. Since we left Basra 8 days ago we have had only 10 of the troops in the hospital during the whole time & these are suffering from minor complaints, so that the health of the troops are splendid.
Living on curry & rice & pancakes 2 meals a day & no variation in this respect. They are very peculiar as regards their religion & habits, for instance whilst they are cooking a white man’s shaddow must not fall on their food & the same thing applies whilst they carry the food along the deck. They always keep the sun side to avoid the shaddows. Some of the castes (yet of the same rating) would not cook, clean up or do any work in the respect of a servant.
Steaming up the Red Sea, temperature 96° very warm & muggy. No war news on account of atmospheric disturbances, lightening, showery & muggy. All troops doing well but very trying & impossible to sleep or keep below decks for the temperature is too high. Troops drilled throughout the day. Canvas water swimming baths
kept full & water renewed frequently. Condition of troops phyicially splendid. Passed several cargo & troopships this day. Our supplies of onions giving out, supplies per man reduced from 9 oz. per day to 7 oz. which means a lot to the Indians as they live practically on curry & rice & onions.
Change in the weather, rain & strong breeze, temperature down to 85° in the shade.
2 am passed the lighthouse of Daelius & at 9 am the Brothers a few rocks with a lighthouse in them in the middle of the Red Sea.
5 pm passed Shadwan Is. lighthouse the entrance to the Gulf of Suez in the Strait of Jubal. Several water-spouts visible.
Very little war news as the atmosphere is too full of electricity. Several steamers passed. The Port Sydney also bound for Australia. We are due at Suez at 8 am tomorrow morning. Our water supply have turned out splendid having 500 tons of water left when we arrive at Suez.
7 pm passed a town in the Gulf of Suez called Tor inhabited by Christian Arabs. At the back of it 36 miles
lies Mount Sinai where Moses found the slabs with the parables written on them. It is plainly visible & has a monastery built on it. The highest part of it stands 7450 feet above sea level. The pilgrims go there from different parts of Egypt & Arabia via the town of Tor by the means of camels & it takes 2 ½ days the road being very bad & hilly like all the roads in these outlandish countries where the inhabitants are so illiterate & lawlessness abound.
At 7 am we arrived & dropped anchor at Suez roads & was boarded by the naval & military authorities. At 11 am pilot sent aboard & we shifted & moored to bouys at the entrance of the Suez Cannel. We are under 6 hours notice to proceed & are to keep all troops aboard. The Camberra is moored ahead of us full of troops also awaiting orders. She arrived two days ago from Basra, Mesepotamia. We hear today that the Captain of the H.M.A.S. Camberra committed suicide. Shot himself on the 19 of Oct. & buried on the
20th of Oct. in the Red Sea, 3 days previous to arrival at Suez. Whilst in the Mediterean formally amongst the submarines he had lost his nerves. It preyed heavily on his mind & was no doubt temperory insane during the time whilst crossing the dangerous zone & especially since we saw the Omrah & Leasowe Castle torpedoed & sunk. At that time we were all in the same convoy. Capt. Douton was often aboard of us for dinner & lunch & appeared in the best of health whilst in port. He was well respected by his officers & was the Commodore Captain of the Australian S.S. Co. a man of 65 years of age.
We are moored on the banks of the cannel & all the troops are going ashore tomorrow for a long march. All hands on board after a long spell of 3 weeks have had their mail from their friends & relatives. So it eases the monotony having news from home, no matter how old.
Heavy showers & cool. Temp. 78° the 1st rains we have seen for months. The troops route march having been posponed.
The H.M.A.T. Camberra & H.M.T. Norman still here moored with us at the entrance of the cannel full of troops. At noon we had orders to proceed to Port Said, so at 4 pm we let go & proceeded in charge of a pilot steaming through the cannel. A bow search light put on board for the purpose of steaming through at night. We expect to be at P. Said at 9 am to morrow morning unless we have to make fast for ships to pass.
Whilst steaming through the cannel at 5.30 pm one of the Lieut.’s of the flying corps which we brought over from Basra this trip flew low & circled around us 4 times quite a treat. He kept a distance of 200 feet away & finally flew back to the hydroplane depot.
At 12 pm we reached Ismalia & change of pilots. Here we heard of the hospital ship Kanowra having struck the bank yesterday & aground in the cannel for 5 hours & having lost 2 blades of her propellors. She was bound from Australia to Port Said for wounded soldiers.
At 2 am we passed Kantara the new Palastine base & here saw the H.M.T. Malwa. It appears that several troop ships are loading troops for Beeroot the seaport recently captured in Palastine.
8.30 am arrived at Port Said where we shall take in coal & water for another long journey. The officers of the Kanowra came on board. She is bound to some Greek islands with the intention of bringing back
Turkish British prisnors in exchange of Turkish prisnors. The Katoomba is also here from New York. She is full of Turkish prisnors going to take same to Syria in exchange for British prisnors Salonika for labor work.
The Ormond H.M.T. left today full of Turkish prisnors for Salonika. All shore leave stopped from our troopship & no one but the naval & military authorities allowed on board. Having so many thousands of Turkish prisnors in Egypt, the authorities cannot very well cope with them.
Coaling ship. The captain asked the 4 engineers that are going home if they would remain for a trip across the Mediterean & back. They consented for he cannot obtain engineers to relieve them. Neither have any been sent out so far. The troops are still on board. The naval commodore came on board & we are going to be the guide ship & he is in charge of all the convoy. All the officers are going to remain on under better conditions, & clauses to that effect will be inserted in the Articles. One of the engineers off the Camberra will join us as a extra engineer.
This day being Sunday, coaling & general work has started as usual as it always happens in Egypt. We find today that we are going to form a convoy. The Katoomba, Camberra, Indarra, Caladonia & will be escorted across to Salonika by 7 Japaneese distroyers. The former ships having been detained & their sailing orders cancelled awaiting our transport on account of the change of crew.
The officers of the H.M.T. Malwa came on board today & told us that they had sighted 2 periscopes 18 hours out from Taranto bound to Port Said full of troops. A torpedoe struck the Malwa & failed to explode. She was dock at Taranto the following trip & the plates were dented badly. They fired 3 shots from their howitzer & they claim to have caused the distruction of one . The depth charge at 500 yards range exploded below the serface a few feet away from the periscope. The Jap distroyers 2 made for them & claim to have sunk another with their hugh depth charges. The Malwa’s last shot fired took a long time to explode & consequently one of Jap. distroyers steaming at high speed got so near that part of the bomb actually landed on their forecastle head. After wards they lowered a boat from the distroyers & actually picked up a torpedoe that had hit the Malwa & failed to go off
& found that its head was missing. Whilst at Alexandria a German submarine surrendered off the entrance having hoisted a white flag, they having run short of fuel & provisions. Which goes to prove that the submarine warfare is not so successful as it was formally & since the British have taken Bayroot, north of Palastine the Germans have lost one of their best submarine bases. Now in the hands of the British troops & navy. Several hospital ships have left here Port Said for Bayroot for invalided soldiers.
This day at 5 pm being the 28 of October our white crew having terminated their 12 months agreement are going to be discharged & sent home to Australia & at noon tomorrow we expect the Indian sailors, firemen & stewards aboard to take their places which means 1 whites to 3 Indians. Carpenters & tradesmen aboard altering the accomodation & cooking places
for their conveniences. Of 198 white crew, 5 officers, 4 engineers, chief steward & carpenter only remain, also 2 of the 3 wireless operators. So we expect a great change & especially going to the dangerous submarine zone in the course of a few days with a strange Indian crew. With 3000 Indian troops on board & without a exception not one of the officers or engineers know a word of Hundostani & trust that we may pick up a few words shortly or else some of the Sarangs will be able to speak & understand a few words of English.
I now conclude my twelve months of diary & am sending it home to Australia by one of the crew, and sincerely hope that the next term whether 12 months or less may be as successful to our selves & to the Imperial Government & Australian government as the past 12 months & may this cruel war end as we expect within the next few months & that peace will reign for an
indefinate period, for those that has been in & near the war zone alone can realize the misery it has caused. Misery & unhappiness that cannot be rectified or forgotten during the existence of those poor persons that have suffered, lost their dear relatives, their homes, even their personal belongings. May the curse of the Almighty be on those that caused the war to commence & also on those in enemy submarines that caused the death & misery to those invalided soldiers in hospital ships, also to the men women & children that travelled peacefully on defence less merchant ships & may the public realize the deeds & hardships endured by our navy, troops & not forgetting the risks ran by our merchant ship sailors in troopship, for huddled up in a small space as a troopship with thousands of troops aboard running though the submarine zone, dogging submarines & mines.
Risks, seamanship & anxiety which has caused thousands of nervous breakdowns. Money nor medals can repay such work & may we never during our time again have cause to sail in troopships under similar condition. Yet the British seaman has done this work fearlessly & heedless of the dangers one gets, to that extent that he knows no fear.
I here conclude trusting that whosoever may read these passages in this book may excuse any mistakes. I am J E Morrison, officer H.M.A.T. Indarra
C 810 Port Said Egypt
[Page numbers as they appear on image pages]
5. Melbourne. Grain wool etc. for the want of ships
6. Restrections & fittings
8. Albany W.A.
10. Sisters left at Colombo
12. Raider sighted
14. Suez & discharged troops bound for Port Said. behaivior of troops
15. Port Said arrival
16. Oiltank afire at Port Said
17. Ismailia, Gobean & Breslaui stunt
18. Cost of living
19. Minitonkian & Osmania & attack. approx. 1100 lives lost
21 & 22. Left Port Said for Alexandria & thence Taranto
23 & 24. Cruiser Liverpool & trip to Taranto. destroyer 08.
25. Some ships sunk on our track
26. Arrival in Taranto & mishap to the 08.
28. Re English sisters smoking
30. Left Taranto 1st trip Grafell aux. cruiser
31. Re. a Italian dreadnought going to gun practice
32. 1st trip arrival at Alexandria
33. 2nd trip to Taranto. Australian blue jackets & Gen. Freeman
35. Met Canberra arrived at Taranto
36. Re. Lessowe Castle 1st time torpedoed
37. Ship’s gunner Wells left us for the H.M.A.S. Melbourne
38. Departure for Alexandria 2nd trip
40. In company with R.M.S. Tagus to Alexandria sinking of Italian submarine
41. Arrived at Alexandria
42. Saved a soldier from drowning & met Wandilla at Alexandria
43. French M.M. torpedoed & docked Indarra at Alexandria
44. Re. R.N. officer of H.M.S. Halliball & Indarra’s Q.M.
46. Menomimi torpedoed & Menitou & submarine
47. Formed the fast convoy. 1st trip to Marsailles splendid bands
49. Encountered subs off Malta. Lost convoy in mist
51. Arrive at Marseilles
52. Warickshire & Kingstonian torpedoed
53. Fiji boys at Marseilles & French ships laid up
54. Morals of “ “ Jewish troops & American convoy
55. Lights exposed on troopships. 2 soldiers pay the death penalty
56. Firemen fined absent without leave. subs reports & wrecks
57. Secret signals. Attack by submarines & Left Marseilles
58. Off Malta kept outside awaiting
59. Turkish subjects found aboard at Malta
61. Position of ships in convoy & signals
62. Arrived at Alexandria
64. Sub distroyed
64. Sad disaster to one of our planes whilst escorting us
65. General Hoaro 74 Division
66. Subs & ships torpedoed
67. Gen. Hoare explaining the use of the gas mask. Dep for Marseilles
68. Letter from Gen Allanbey to the 74th devision
69. Submarine attack
70. off Sicilly Italy
71. Submarine attack
72. Arrived at Marseilles & saw the two Japs. that had collision
74. Dep. from “ “ at night with the aid of airships & news of more ships torpedoed on our track
75. Canberra accident to steering gear & submarine attack
76. Loss of the Omrah
77. Airship came to the rescue & 2 extra Jap. distroyers
79. Passed wreckage. Arrived at Malta. Survivors of the Omrah (& another cargo boat sunk) passed
81. Passed the Australian distroyer Torrens. The sinking of the sub. that torpedoed the Omrah & rep. from Malta another sub. sunk by the Japs
82. Arrived at Alexandria
83. Re. Egypt labor & more ships torpedoed
84. Ships under repair at Alex. & spies morsing
85. More subs sunk off Alex.
86. Dep from Alex. & passed dead bodies
87. Loss of the Leasowe Castle
88. H.M.T. Ormonde joined convoy. Ran over a sub. at 11 pm May 29 1918
89. Submarine attack. The K.I.H. hit by a dead torpedoe arrived at Marseilles
90. Re. the Leasowe Castle. Re. ammunation factory explosion at Marseilles
91. “ “ visited horse hospital
92. Man overboard & picked up by a Jap. destroyer
93. Dep. from Marseilles & at Malta ordered out again
94. Ships torpedoed off Malta
95. Dep. from Malta. Sub. attack. The sinking of several subs.
97. Arrival at Alexandria
99. Dep. “ “ for Taranto
101. Arrived at Taranto. Sub. attack
103. Austrian air raid at Taranto. Report by H.M.T. Canberra re the sinking of the Leasowe Castle
104. Report by signalmen re. their ships having been sunk
105. Subs. sunk
106. The raising of a sub with the aid of a crane at Taranto
107. Dep from Taranto. Passed a British sub.
108. Arrive at Alexandria
109. Re a ship in dock torpedoed twice & sights of Alexandria
110. The Sultan of Egypt
111. New type of submarine chasers
112. Indarra under a overhaul
113. Greeks called up & French ship torpedoed
114. Re. ships colliding
115. Re. butter at Alexandria & re. sub & Wandilla H.M.H.S.
116. In dry dock
117. Torpedoing of the Kaisair
118. Both shafts drawn
119. Re. hydroplane came down on beach whilst bathing & trawler & sub.
120. Re. torpedoed ships
121. Re. Sultans entertainment
122. 4 cargo ships torpedoed off Alex.
123. boat drill. Torpedoing of the Clan McNey & survivors. Also reports of the torpedoing of the Warillda
124. Diessal engin. cargo transport Glenbray in dock. departure of the Glenmore Castle
125. Assaye hospital ship in harbor. The torpedoeding of the (& fire) oiltransport all hands perished. News re. relieving the H.M.T. Kiasar I Hind. Taranto to Alexandria
126. Arrival of Maheno, Wandilla, Caladonia & Norman. Embarking troops for Taranto H.M.T. Indarra. Depart from Alex. for Taranto
127 & 128. Arrived off & at Taranto. Torpedoed ship Imba
131. Hulk towed from Alexandria
133. Re. Taranto & loading of beer for the troops
134. Wet bacon shipped
135. The town of Taranto
136. Norman & Malwa & the Roumanian oil steamer
137. Tag Vigilant & Caladonia Capt. died
138. Steering gear break down. Taranto to P. Said
139. Military officers as stokers
140. Arrival at Port Said
141. At Kantara officers refered as to volunteeing for another 12 mths
143. Re. Kantara
144. Suez. Dismantling troop deck & preparing for Indians
145. Capt. Newbury arrived from Australia
146. at Suez
149. Re. expenses of crew going back to Australia
150. Departure from Suez
151. Red Sea (steaming)
153. do do
154. Perim & Aden
156. Arrived Aden & departure
157. Steaming along the Arabian coast
159. Arrived at Basra anchorage
160 & 161. Taking in troops from the Aranda
162. Dep. from Basra & the trouble on the Monitor
163. Steaming down the Persian Gulf
164. Gulf of Oman & the loss of money aboard
165 to 167. from Basra to Aden
169. Steaming up the Red Sea
170 & 171. “ “ “ “ “
173. Arrival Suez & death of Capt. Douton
174. Departure from Suez. Grounding of the Kanowra
175. Port Said arrival. Re. Katoomba
The sinking of a defenceless merchantman by gunfire from a Hun Submarine before troopships & merchantmen were armed
[sketch of German submarine attacking allied merchant ship]
A modern pirate (The Hun)
[sketch of submarine]
Soldier inside after 5’ struggle
Its no good Alf. I don’t bilieve we shall ever get it inside
The man outside
Git it in be Damme I am trying to get it out
[sketch of Quarter Master’s store]
[Page not transcribed]
[Selected spelling corrections]
[Allenby (General) - misspelt as Allanby
British - misspelt as Brittish
Caledonia (ship) - misspelt as Caladonia
Canal - misspelt as Cannal
Canberra – misspelt as Camberra
Dardanelles – misspelt as Dardenelles
Dirigble – misspelt as Deregible
Destroyers - misspelt as Distroyers
Gibraltar - misspelt as Gibralter
Ismailia - misspelt as Ismalia
Japanese - misspelt as Japaneese
Jerusalem - misspelt as Jerusalum
Madagascar - misspelt as Madegasgar
Marseilles – misspelt as Marsailes, Marsailles
Mediterranean - misspelt as Mediterean
Mesopotamia - misspelt as Mesepotamia
Monitors (ships) - misspelt as Monotors
Palestine - misspelt as Palastine
Pantelleria - misspelt as Pantellarra
Phoenix (ship) - misspelt as Phoenex
Renard (ship) – misspelt as Redaid
Sicily - misspelt as Scicily
Sudanese - misspelt as Soudaneese
Torpedo – misspelt as torpedoe
Valletta - misspelt as Vallattia
Wandilla (ship) - misspelt as Wandalla]
[Transcribed by Lyn Williams and Peter Mayo for the State Library of New South Wales]