Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
John H. Wheat narrative, ca. 1914-1918
MLMSS 3054/Item 3
John Wheat was a torpedoman on the Australian submarine A.E.2. This diary covers the early days of the submarine and its arrival in Turkish waters to attempt to break through the Dardanelles and gain entry to the Sea of Marmora. Their eventual capture and life as prisoners of war in Turkey is little known. Wheatís two failed escape attempts are also documented here. The original is a mixture of typescript and handwritten pages
Narrative of his war experiences, compiled c.1920
This book is dedicated to the memory of:-
Chief-Petty Officer C. Varcoe.
Petty-Officer J. Gilbert.
Able seaman W. Knaggs.
Stoker W. Williams.
yse were four of the crew of the AE2, Australiaís first Submarine to "go under" fighting, and my fellow prisoners of war, who died of fever and ill-usage whilst in Turkey.
To the memory of our sister ship AE1, and her crew, Lost September 14th, 1914 in St. Georges Channel, between German New Guinea and New Island.
We took the first patrol on the 13th, they took the second next day. We came back, they didínt. The path of duty became the high-way of mystery for they never came back. They lie coffined in the deep, keeping their silent watch at
the Australiaís North Passage, hereos all.
It was during the first five months of my captivity that the idea of writing a diary, or perhaps, more correctly, a history of submarine AE2 from the time of her construction until she was sunk 300 feet deep in the Sea Marmora. She had been my home for nearly eighteen months and I missed her.
I kept an accurate, a minute account, of my prison life in Turkey up to the end of January 1916 when we began working on the Taurus mountain section of the Bagdad railway.
This section has been the subject of much speculation, and I believe that in the diary of a German officer killed in Palestine and which was found by an Australian Light-Horse-man, this narrow gauge section was mentioned & an incomplete account given therein.
Having served a sentence of "three years hard labour" in this locality, and "doing time" on the construction of these twelve tunnels, I think I am in good position to give first-hand data on this subject.
one good side of our work there helped to make it possible for the traveller to get aboard the train at Calais, and go by rail to the Upper Nile, with one break only in the journey, and that at the Bosphorus to Scuta tri Ferry. This completion extension of the Jewish Bagdad Railway is one of the few good results to the Allies of the work of the allied our prisoners in the East, and- like the convict roads in
Tasmania and parts of Australia- the future generations will reap the advantage of our forced labour.
The distance by this narrow gauge railway between (vis from-to) the
se two broad gauge s is about twelve miles. In the twelve miles there are twelve tunnels the longest being nearly three miles, (about twice the length of the Hawkesbury tunnel). The time usually taken for the journey is about two hours. (Most of the journey would naturally be underground through these tunnels.) At small For short intervals between them tunnels a traveller can see the line clinging precariously to the sides of the towering Taurus mountains. Through These intervals one gets disclose glimpses of majestic, inaccessible peaks, and frowning gauges gorges. Very little timber is seen and the peaks are almost as bare as Mount Owen on the west coast of Tasmania, whilst the scenery being is just as wild. The trees have been cut down and used for timbering up the tunnels and for fuel for the engines.
pictures photo gives some idea of the rough country in which I slaved for over three years and from which I tried to escape twice, but unsuccessfully.
A more detailed account of the work will be found in the following pages of this little book.
(Whilst working on this railway we had very little time for writing. Moreover when fever broke out in our camps and I became a constant subject, I had a good excuse
for neglecting a task I naturally detested and, which I am finding Nature never fitted me for.) The result was my writing "Marked Time." However, with the help of two note-books which I was fortunate enough to keep with me undiscovered, and in which I jotted down the important events of my sojourn there, I can truthfully say,
and that aided by "memoryís diary" where the writing is not blurred but very distinct, I am able to fill in the gaps and give a connected and accurate account.
When I came back home and showed these records to my friends they strongly advised me to complete them whilst the "happenings" were fresh in my recollection.
The harsh conditions imposed upon us by our German task masters (who wished to complete this narrow gauge connecting railway for the purpose of carrying
ammunition etc., supplies to the Mesopotamian and Palestin ian e fronts (with the Bagdad railway), and the many spells of sickness in the hospitals, and the time taken in my two attempts to escape, took up quite a large part of my time there; and formed surroundings which were not conducive to a written record of things one wishes to forget.
However, when I returned, my friends, and even strangers, repeatedly (and quite naturally) asked the same sort of questions such as "where was the AE2 lost;" "Did you get through the Narrows?" "Did the Turks treat you well?" Where were you kept prisoner?" Did you ever try to
get away?" etc., etc. I was forced to give the same sort of answer so often, that I
often many times wished I had a small record in book form to hand them. Hence this book.
Anyway, the sa
ili aent points of the history of Australian Submarine A.E.2, and my three and a half years prison life in Turkey, are contained in these pages, and my hope is that this brief record may be as interesting to the readers as it is unforgettable by me.
(Signed) J. Wheat. Woy Woy.
I suggest that the Preface be cut down to about this length & some parts omitted might be embodied in the work proper.
During the first few months of my captivity the idea suggested itself of writing an account of the submarine A E 2. from the time of her construction until the day when she settled down to the bottom of the Sea of Marmora,
300 feet in 50 fathoms of water. She had been my home & I missed her.
I also kept an accurate, a minute account of my prison life in Turkey up to the end of January 1916, when I was transferred to the Taurus Mountains section of the Bagdad Railway.
Having served a sentence of "Three years Hard" in that locality, "doing time" on the construction of twelve tunnels, I am in a good position to give first hand information on this section of the Baghdad line, which has been the subject of much speculation. Our work there helped to make possible that highway on which the traveller who boards the "Rapide" at Calais can travel through by rail to Luxor, only leaving the train to cross from Constantinople to Scutari by ferry.
The harsh conditions imposed upon us by our German taskmasters in their haste to forge this link in the chain of communication between the Mesopotamia & Palestine fighting-fronts & their bases of supply, the time taken in the preparation & execution of my two attempts to escape & my many visits to Hospital, due to attacks of the Fever which was ever-present in Turkish prisoner-of-war camps; all these things hampered me in my attempt to keep a diary.
However I managed to keep two notebooks, in which I jotted down the most important details of my sojourn in Anatolia, & with the aid of "Memoryís Diary" where the writing is not blurred but very distinct, I am able to fill in the gaps.
The interest evinced, by friends & strangers alike, since my return, & the constantly recurring questions, suggested to me that this narrative might have a wider interest. Hence this book.
Record of A.E.11 from time of building at Barrow till time of being sunk in Sea of Mormora
Dimensions of A.E.11
Beam- 25 feet
Speed on surface-17 knots
Submerged- 9 knots
(Put this under photograph of A.E.II.)
Kangaroo on A.E.1
Emu on A.E.2
Cast in brass 9 inches.
The construction of AE1 and AE11 was commenced in the middle of the year 1912 at Vickers Ltd., Construction Yards, Barrow-in-Furness. AE11 was launched in the beginning of 1913 and was completed February 1914. The first part of her crew left Portsmouth for Barrow to stand by the boat sometime in November 1913, the remainder of the crew joining them in December of the same year.
The crew were allowed lodging allowance and lived in the town going into the yard every day to work on the boat.
leave left Barrow for Portsmouth escorted by submarine parent ship Adamant on February 10th. On entering the Irish Sea we struck a heavy S.W. gale and were forced to take refuge in Holyhead Harbour for two days. The weather moderating we make another start on our journey, but the wind soon freshened up and was blowing as strong a S.W. gale as ever, so we were forced into Fishguard Harbour where we remained 3 days.
During this time the weather had moderated and we (proceeded on our journey) arriving at Portsmouth 18th February. On arrival we proceeded to the dockyard to have a gyro-compass and wireless fitted. We were the first submarines to have wireless transmitting gear fitted.
AE1 and 11 left Portsmouth escorted by the cruiser Eclipse on 2nd March 1914, to commence
our the journey to Australia. While crossing the Bay of Biscay we lost a propeller blade and had to be taken in tow by the Eclipse. We arrive at Gibraltar on 6th and go into dock to have a new propellar blade in. We leave Gibraltar on 9th March for Malta, where we arrive on 14th March having steamed all the way.
AE 1 broke down on the trip and had to be towed. The Captain of the Eclipse recommended us on the splendid steaming we had done. We leave Malta 17th March for Port Said during this trip we encounter some heavy weather which caused the two to part several times. Arrived Port Said 21st March, and leave again on 24th March. We enter the Canal at daylight and go through on our own
power at about 11 knots which is much over the speed allowed in the canal. We have to stop for about 2 hours in the Bitter Lakes, so we have a swim, but it is not very enjoyable owing to the water being so very salt; We reach Suez about 2 p.m., the same day and wait for the Eclipse to come through that we might proceed on our journey. However she did not come through till the following day, when we immediately got under way for Aden 25th. Arrived Aden 29th March
Just before we got into Aden we had the misfortune to lose another propeller blade. This of course was a serious matter as there was not a dock
sufficiently large enough to take us, so it was decided to attempt the task with divers and was successfully accomplished in two days. We got under way for Colombo on the afternoon of 1st April. We arrived at Colombo on 9th April after a most beautiful trip across the Indian Ocean. Left Colombo for Singapore on 14th April arriving Singapore on 22nd April. We left Singapore for Batavia on 25th arriving there 27th April. We remained there one day. Some of the crew had a trip up to the town of Batavia while the officers were entertained by the Dutch Admiral. We left again on the evening of 28th for Port Darwin arriving there on May 6th after a beautiful trip through the Dutch Islands. There we were entertained by the residents to Sports and a concert in the evening. We left Port Darwin for Cairns on May 9th arriving Cairns May 13th. Here we were entertained to a trip to the Barron Falls. Left Cairns May 18th for Sydney.
On this trip we encounter heavy seas, and are forced to take refuge in Moreton Bay. Proceeding the following day, still a heavy sea running. We arrive in Sydney on 24th May, our long and tedious trip having come to an end. The boat then went into dock at Cockatoo Island, and when she came out, proceeded alongside Garden Island to undergo an extensive refit and overhaul of engines.
During the month of June, most of the crew are on leave. On August 4th War in declared. The boat is not ready to proceed to sea, so it is necessary to put in a lot of overtime to finish the engines and to get the torpedoes tested and afterwards get them in position in the boat. Everything is ready on August 9th.
During this time the S.S. Upolu was taken over by the Admiralty to act as a parent ship to submarines to carry oil fuel provisions, spare fittings etc. S.S. Upolu was built in 1892 for the U.S.S. Company, after which she changed hands several times.
Previous to the Admiralty taking her over she was laid up at Rose Bay. She turned out to be very unservicable for the work for she was of 750 tons and a speed of about 8 knots. We remained in Sydney till 28th August when we received orders to proceed North not knowing our exact destination. We arrived at Palm Islands of the Coast of Queensland on 2nd September. Here we met the Sydney, Encounter, troopship Berrima, and the storeship Aurangi. We receive orders that we are to leave for Port Moresby (New Guinea) the same afternoon. We all moved off about 4.30 in the afternoon arriving Port Moresby on September 5th. After taking in oil and provisions we leave for
Rabaul on the 7th September, arriving there 12th September. Rabaul is the principal port of German New Guinea. It is situated on the Island of New Britain and a fine deep harbour. We commenced patrol duties the day after our arrival, the patrol was to see that no ship passed through St. Georges Strait between New Britain and New Ireland. It fell to us to take the first patrol accompanied by a destroyer.
The following day 14th, A.E1 went out on the same duties, but never returned. Her loss cannot be accounted for. We soon found that she must have sunk with all hands as searching did not reveal the slightest trace of anything. This cast a great gloom over us as we all had friends who had gone and we were the only two submarines in Southern Waters. After the loss of AE 1, we did not go out on patrol duties again, but lay in harbour in readiness to proceed at a moments notice. (The reason for us being needed in Rabaul was an anticipated attack by the German Cruisers, Scharnhorst and Gneisenau)
On hearing that these ships had bombarded the French possession of Tahiti; We had orders to proceed to Suva on 14th October. We reached Suva on 24th October. This trip was terribly tedious as our parent ship Upolu had a lot of trouble with her engines, so we only averaged about 6 knots all the way. We also had the misfortune to lose another blade from our propeller just before reaching Suva.
We had rather a good time at Suva, plenty of bathing etc., We also had abundance of bananas. On hearing that the German Cruisers were off the West coast of America, we had orders to return to Sydney, via Noumea. We left Suva on 18th November for Noumea in company with the two destroyers Parramatta and Warrego. Arrived Noumea 21st November. We left Noumea 22nd for Sydney, arriving there 25th November. We went into Dock, after which we lay alongside Garden Island.
We hear that the German Cruisers have been sunk off the Falkland Islands, so we commence to settle down for a long stay in Sydney, but this is not to be for long, for we hear a rumour that we are to go to European waters. This turns out to be the case for we receive orders to this effect on 16th December to be ready to leave on 19th December to escort the 2nd contingent of Australian Troops to Egypt. We leave Sydney 19th December in company with the troopship Berrima for Melbourne, where we arrive December 21st. Leave Melbourne 24th for Albany in company with several troopships. Arrive Albany 28th December after a beautiful trip across the Great Australian Bight. At Albany we find several other troop ships waiting to leave. The day following we are joined by two New Zealand transports.
We leave Albany for Colombo on 31st December, the ships steaming in three lines 19 in number. Six days out from Albany we were alarmed one morning early by sighting a large merchant ship
steaming towards us thinking that it may be an armed German liner the submarine immediately prepared to attack but the ship turned out to be the Emperor of Japan on patrol duties. Arrive Colombo 14th January. Four of the big transports go straight on to Aden not calling at Colombo. Leave Colombo 16th January for Aden arriving latter port 18th January. At this port the Berrima was delayed 2 days by getting a wire hawser round her screw. The remainder of the fleet with submarine leave for Suez the evening of 23rd. Arriving at Suez 27th. All the fleet came to an anchorage.
The following morning AE11 proceeded through the canal at about 11 knots, after which came the troopships. The battleship, Ocean, lay at the Suez entrance of the canal and the Swiftsure at the Port Said entrance. Between these ships at intervals were the cruisers Minerva, Clio, a French cruiser and the armed liner Himalaya. The reason for these ships being stationed there was an anticipated attack on the canal by the Turks. All alone the canal on both sides trenches were dug, these trenches were occupied by Indian, Territorial and Australian troops.
While passing through the canal we had to have our bridge barricaded to protect the officers from Turkish Snipers on the desert for we learn that the Turkish forces are only a few hundred yards over the desert. We arrive Port Said 18th January. Here we receive orders to proceed to Ten
redos at the mouth of the Dardanelles to take up patrol duties. On this trip we strike a heavy head sea all the way. Arrive Tenedos February 5th 1915. The following day we commence patrol duties at the mouth of the Dardanelles to prevent an attack on our ships by the Turks. AE11 takes patrol every other day, working with the B class of submarines which are also stationed there.
Our depot ship at this port is the Hindu Kush formerly the merchant ship Hindustan. About the middle of February we shift our base from Tenedos to Lemnos, a small Greek Island 40 miles west of
Tenedos the mouth of the Dardanelles. After this the submarines on patrol used to remain away for four days and then remain alongside the depot ship for four days.
AE11 made four of these trips when returning after the fourth patrol entering Lemnos Harbour she ran on a rock at 9.45 p.m. March 17th, 1915. This accident was caused by the light going out at the entrance and another light ashore being taken for it. However AE11 was towed off by the destroyer H.M.S. Chelmer, the same night at 2.30 a.m. and came alongside the depot ship.
The bottom of the boat was rather badly damaged as there was a
rather heavy sea running at the time. The following day divers examined the bottom of the boat and it was soon found necessary decided that the boat should go to Malta for repairs. Provisions were taken in and we left for Malta that evening 18th March.
During the day our fleet carry out a great bombardment on the forts of the Dardanelles. The battleships Irresistible, Ocean and the French battleship, Bouvet were sunk by floating mines. The Inflexible was struck by a mine but she managed to reach port and afterwards Malta where she was docked.
See photos from German/Turkish p. cards A.246, A.128, A.440
We arrived Malta 21st March. 23rd March we go into Dock and it was found necessary to put 13 new plates on the bottom. April 9th the submarine depot ship Adamant arrived with submarines E 11, 14 and 15.
The following day they left for the Dardanelles. We came out of dock April 16th. April 18th we go outside the harbour for a trial run everything is satisfactory. We leave for Lemnos the same evening. After a fairly good trip we arrive Lemnos April 22nd and go alongside the Adamant. The following day we
were fall in on the upper deck of the Adamant while the Captain of the Adamant read out a recommendation from the Admiralty on AE 11ís good work, both for record steaming and for escorting the second contingent from Australia, only spending a few days in harbour during the 12 months she had been in commission. In the 12 months we had steamed nearly 40,000 miles. He finished up by saying that we were recommended for 7 days leave at the first opportunity.
After this we were ordered to get in one monthís provisions and be ready to proceed by 2 p.m. the same day. By this order we had a good idea where we were going (Dardanelles). After taking in provisions we cast off from the Adamant at 2 p.m., and lay off from the battleship Queen Elizabeth while a wireless officer came off to inspect our wireless to see that it was correct: then we proceeded to Tenedos arriving there 6.30 a.m. 23rd April.
After a short trial dive we went alongside the Swiftsure and made fast, we took in some more provisions which we could not get from the Adamant. We then had sufficient food to last us
from for a month to or 6 weeks. We then knew that we were leaving that night at 1.30 a.m. to make a passage through the Dardanelles. An honour for the small young Aust. Fleet. We were all greatly excited and I think the majority of us had very little sleep that night: no boat had up till this time been through the Dardanelles and we did not know what dangers awaited us in the way of mines and nets etc.
A French submarine had been sunk in attempting a passage in January 1915 and one of our submarines on April 17th 1915, so we were the third to make an attempt and the first to succeed. We got through- another case of "Aust will be there" but didnít get back. We cast off from the Swiftsure at 1.30 and proceed to the entrance of the Dardanelles, it being our object to get as far as we could on the surface, without being seen by the searchlights and before daylight. On entering the Dardanelles, between Cape Helles and Kum Kale there was a small gasoline searchlight on our starboard hand. However we got by this without being noticed. We got about six miles inside the entrance. The searchlights on the forts of Chanak were very bright, but they seemed to be very careless as if not expecting to see anything. Owing to the searchlights we were forced to dive at 4.5 a.m. At this stage a very unlucky accident happened. our foremost hydroplane coupling broke. This was
very serious, as it meant that we could not dive. Our only chance was to come to the surface and go back full speed on our engines as day was breaking and we were liable to be seen and fired on from shore. However our luck was in. We arrived at Tenedos 8 a.m. 24th April 1915.
We immediately had another coupling fitted after which we had a trial dive to see that all was well after which we anchored and waited patiently for the night. At 1.30 a.m. 25th April, we got under way to attempt the Dardanelles again. We passed the patrol destroyers at the entrance and proceeded about 5 to 6 miles inside the entrance but we were fired on from the European shore, a shell passing just over. The searchlights were very active both from the forts of Chanak and Dardanus, so we dived immediately. All went well this time, and nothing was heard till we came to the first mine fields. Here we were alarmed to hear the moorings of the mines scraping along the outside of the boat. This was very unpleasant but still we knew we must be quite safe at a depth of 90 feet. Shortly after we passed the minefield we came to the surface and showed our periscope to take observations before entering the narrows. This was about 5.15 a.m. and the water was like a sheet of glass. We found we were about 150 yards off the European shore and under the main forts of Kilidbar they soon noticed the wash from our periscope and commenced to fire on us. We soon got down to 90 feet again and, on a slightly different course, we
soon passed through the second minefield just below Chanak. All went well and when we came to the surface at 6 a.m. we were right in the Bay opposite Chanak. Here there was a battleship laying at anchor and a gunboat under way, we we immediately prepared to attack but owing to the forts lower down having reported a submarine approaching there were a number of small craft torpedo boats launches, etc., dashing about to try and ram our periscope whenever we showed it and it being very calm made attack very difficult, not being able to show the periscope for any length of time.
However the foremost torpedo was brought to the ready and all preparations were made to have a shot at the battleship, but at the critical moment the gunboat was crossing in front of the battleship as there could be no time lost we had to fire at the gunboat. We immediately went down to 60 feet. All was silence for a few seconds and then a heavy
report concussion shook the submarine and we knew that we had secured a hit. At this moment we were alarmed to hear a grating noise forward and we soon knew that we were aground. We went ahead and were soon off. This happened on the Asiatic Shore. We then proceeded slowly, thinking all was well but not so. We had only been off 10 minutes when we grounded heavily forward. The depth gauge showed that we were rising fast. When we were nearly off, the boat stuck fast aft. The boat was lying at an angle, down by the bows and there was only 8 feet of water showing
on the diving gauge. This meant that the after part of the boat and the top of the bridge were showing above water. This was indeed alarming as we were surrounded by forts. We could hear the shells striking the water and buroting outside. At this stage the Captain Stoker told us to remain cool and all would go well. He then looked through the periscope and saw that we were being fired on from all sides (it was only a miracle that we were not hit). After the Captain had a quick look around, he gave the order to go full speed ahead. We were soon delighted to see by the depth gauge that we were moving off into deep water and we were soon down to 80 feet, as if nothing had happened. (During all this the Captain remained extremely cool, for all depended on him at this stage. It is due to his coolness that I am now writing this account. Nobody knows what a terrible strain it is on the nerves to undergo anything like this, especially the Captain, as all depends on him.
When we showed our periscope again we were off Point Nagara the Captain looking astern saw that we were being followed and ahead of us were two tugs coming which evidently had a sweep out to try and catch us, but we immediately went down to 90 feet and altered course to starboard to keep well clear of the tugs. We kept on this course and ran into a big bay on the Asiatic side just above Point Nagara, the Captain looking through the periscope, saw that we had misled our enemies, not having sufficient electricity left in our batteries to take us into the sea of Marmora the only thing we could do was to lay on the bottom and wait till nightfall when we could come onto the surface and charge our batteries. After the Captain was certain that we had not been seen, we went into the bottom at 8.30 a.m (25.4.15?) and lay there at a depth of 95 feet. After this we fell in for reading of prayers, it being Sunday. When ships do not carry a Chaplain the Captain does the duty. After this a watchkeeper was told off to watch the diving gauge and report any noises on the outside of the boat (for when a submarine is submerged every sound can be heard from the outside, a ship can be heard passing over-head the screw and the throbbing of the engines. The remainder of us were told we could sleep as we were all dead tired, having been up nearly all the previous night. At 2 p.m. the hands were called and put to diving stations and preparations were made to rise to the surface to see what was going on.
When we moved our screws(we must have been lying on the edge of a bank) the boat sank down to a great depth. This was very dangerous as the thin skin [of] a submarine is only built to stand a certain pressure of water, the diving gauges are only made to register to 100 feet and on this occasion our gauge was hard over and the needle of the gauge bending so we did not know what depth we went down to but it was a very close thing. However we got sufficient air pressure into our main ballast banks to
[Note at side of page "Perhaps this is what happened to AE2 but think he means AE1.]
[Handwritten page of notes relevant to AE1ís disappearance]
She disappeared in St Georgeís Channel between Islands of New Britain and New Ireland between 2 & 4 pm Some theories as to her fate:-
1. Motor trouble. One of her main electric motors being out of repair she dived & slightly overtrimmed- that is had not buoyancy enough with her one remaining motor to give complete control & finally she became unmanageable & sank.
11. An old enemy Tug boat was found beached, having been set on fire by her crew who had decamped. This tugboat had on board a Nordenfell gun 5 barrel which may have been used unexpectedly by some one in hiding as the AE1 lay on the surface nearby.
111. Enemy Mines This theory is hardly probable because there were no harbours which had not been thoroughly swept & searched.
The cause of her disappearance is still a mystery. She was out in company with the "Destroyer Parramatta" & this boat left her to go down the chanel for another 25 miles. When the "Parramatta" had returned no trace of AE1 . They thought she had returned to harbour. However as no trace of her cld. be found a full search was made by all the available boats but without success.
Diligent & stringent cross examination of the natives nearby by the Commander of H.M.S. "Encounter" reached no satisfaction.
[AE 11 story continues]
expel the water in them against the pressure on the outside (at 100 feet there is a pressure of 45 lbs. to the square inch). We did not rise to the surface but shifted a little nearer shore thinking it best to remain on the bottom till night. We all settled down to try and sleep again. About an hour after this we heard a steamer passing over us. Everybody sat up and listened but the sound of her
engines and screw slowly died away in the distance and we settled down again. In about 20 minutes we were awakened to the same noise again, but this time she seemed to circle round us twice. This was alarming as we thought it was probably a launch sweeping for us with an explosive sweep (an explosive sweep is a grapnel with a guncotton charge attached and connected to a battery in the boat, when the grapnel catches in anything and it is thought to be what they are sweeping for, the key is pressed making a circuit from the battery through the lead to the detonator in the guncotton charge, exploding same. This of course will blow up whatever the grapnel has caught in). We did not move and regularly every twenty minutes this launch passed over us sometimes circling round us. Once something struck the outside of the boat making a loud report in the stillness, but nothing happened. tho we didínt need smelling salts to keep us awake.
At 10 p.m. we got underway to rise to the surface, After going ahead a few revolutions we stopped. A second [later] a loud swishing noise was heard outside the boat and then all was quiet again. At first we thought that a net or wires had been laid round us during the afternoon by the launch we had heard. We got under way again and stopping again as before exactly the same noise was heard again. We came to the conclusion that the noise was made by the wash on the shingle on the bottom. We then rose to the surface and found that nothing was wrong with us. It was quite dark and raining a little and as luck would have it, nothing was in sight. Previous to the Captain opening the conning tower hatch he warned us that we would feel a pressure on our ears, but not to take any notice of it. Immediately the conning tower lid was opened, a thick white mist rose off everything, owing to the bad air, for we had then been submerged 18 hours. As luck would have it nothing was in sight, so we immediately started our engines to charge our batteries. It was delightful to breathe some fresh air again and have a smoke. We were not allowed to smoke on the bridge as the smallest light would give us away to the enemy, so we had to smoke inside the boat at the bottom of the conning tower. It was not too bad as the Diesel engines were drawing fresh air down and aft to where they were situated in the boat, but slightly forward of the conning tower the air was so bad that a match would not burn for a fraction of a second.
During this time we are lying close to the Asiatic shore, so that anything passing would go well clear of us. About an hour after we started to charge our batteries a ship was seen coming towards us from the direction of Chanak. She was showing all lights. At first we thought it advisable to stop our engines as a thick heavy smoke was lying all along the water. However the ship was passing well clear of us and we did not stop our engines.
Soon after this three small launches were seen approaching us from Gallipoli. They were probably small torpedo boats. This time we stopped engines and they passed without seeing us. At 3.30 we stopped our engines having had a fairly good charge. We then prepared to dive to enter the Sea of Mormora. (During the time we had been lying on the surface a light rain was falling. We could plainly hear the reports from the big guns lower down.
N.B. This was the day of the landing on the Peninsula.
We managed to get a wireless message through to the fleet to say that we had succeeded so far). We submerged at 3.40 At 4 a.m. we sighted two ships coming down. One was a gunboat leading the way, and the other was a battleship of the Turco Reis class. We fired a torpedo but missed. We were seen and the gunboat came in chase. We went down to 70 feet and turned back on our course completely throwing them off. We then turned back on to our proper course and proceeded. We passed the town of Gallipoli at 9 a.m. There was nothing there worth torpedoing so we proceeded into the sea of Marmora entering same 9.40 a.m.
Just as we were coming to the surface some forts outside Gallipoli opened fire on our periscope. Lucky for us that they did, for if they had waited five minutes they would have had a good shot at us lying on the surface. So we proceeded out of range. We soon saw two ships coming towards us, evidently making for Gallipoli. Thinking they may be troopships we prepared to attack. The first ship we came up with there was a certain amount of doubt as to whether she was a troopship or a cargo ship as we had orders to sink only ships of war and troopships. However while we were dodging round to see if she had troops on her they noticed our periscope and fired on us with some small gun. By this time she had got too far past us to get a shot in so we went down out of sight.
The second ship was a gunboat. We fired a torpedo at her and missed probably through her shallow draught. There was also another steamer. She seemed to be in great difficulties steaming round in circles etc., to try and prevent us getting a shot at her, but we did not want to fire a torpedo at her. As each of these ships came along they were warned that there was a submarine about by a small
motor boat which came off from shore and went to each ship. After these ships passed we came to the surface and commenced to steam round and at the same time, charge our batteries.
We steamed by very close to a pilot boat, with our ensign flying to show them what we were. The occupants seemed greatly alarmed holding up their hands, and crossing themselves. They were probably Greeks. That night we lay on the bottom so that everybody could have a good sleep after what we had gone through. All went well that night.
We got under way at daylight and came to the surface. It was not long before we sighted a big transport coming towards Gallipoli. We immediately prepared to attack. The foremost torpedo was got ready and fired, but luck seemed to be against us and the torpedo did not "run." The transport was escorted by two destroyers. Everybody was getting very disheartened having so many failures with the torpedoes. After this we came to the surface and spent the day steaming slowly round close to Marmora Island. In the afternoon we sighted three lighters being towed by a tug. We proceeded to within about 1000 yards of them and saw that they were full of soldiers. We could do nothing but watch them. How we were longing to have a three pounder gun mounted. We should have had some good sport.
That evening we "steamedí towards the Gallipoli Peninsula to send a wireless message to a ship in the Gulf of Saros waiting to receive a message from us. After that we "steamed" over to the Asiatic shore and lay about a mile from the shore. It was a moonlight night but was rather cloudy and misty making it very hard to see anything approaching us. All went well till about 11.30 p.m. when a destroyer was seen approaching us at full speed. All hands were immediately called and the wireless mast had to be got down before we could dive. However we got down in good time and remained down for about have an hour. When we thought all was safe we came to the surface and found nothing in sight, so we all settled down again excepting two men on watch. We were not allowed to rest long for a gunboat painted white had sneaked up in the mist and got to within about 200 yards of us. She immediately opened fire on us with three pounder guns. Needless to say we got under the surface in record time and without being hit. This was marvellous considering the short range the gunboat was firing at. This shows what sort of marksmen the Turks are. We came to the surface again but were not troubled again. The next day we spent slowly steaming round awaiting for any ships that might be coming from Constantinople to Gallipoli but nothing was sighted all day.
In the evening it came on to blow fresh and at dusk as we were proceeding towards Gallipoli we sighted a ship coming towards us. We dived and prepared to attack when the ship came up. She was seen to be one of the old type of cruiser
s. We fired a torpedo, but missed, it being rather too dusk for a good shot. The same evening 29.4.15 some ship was seen to be making our number in the morse code to try and get us to answer or else come up close to them, but we were not to be caught like that as we knew there were no more English ships in the Sea of Marmora. This shows that the Turks had good spies. Probably E 14. This night we lay on the bottom as we did not want anymore experiences like we had on the previous night, so we selected a nice little bay on the European shore which we knew had a good sandy bottom, and there we lay in peace.
The next morning the Captain decided to go down to Gallipoli to see if there were any transports there which may have passed us during the night. This meant a very long dive, so we charged our batteries up to all it would carry. During the time we were charging the battery we were all the time steaming towards Gallipoli. When we were just out of range of the forts we dived and proceeded towards the harbour. There was nothing there except a gunboat and a number of small craft. We spent an hour in trying to get a shot at the gunboat but without success. It was a beautifully fine day and not a ripple on the water, and of course every time we showed our periscope we were seen and the gunboat had time to alter course before we could get a shot in. After putting in an hour we decided to go back to the Sea of Marmora, but just as we were leaving the harbour a transport was coming in escorted by destroyers. We fired our starboard torpedo but missed. We immediately turned a little and fired our stern torpedo. On firing this torpedo we had to immediately go down out of sight, as the destroyers were attempting to ram us. We showed our periscope 5 minutes later but there was no transport to be seen only the destroyers. We had to dive a long way on this occasion, as we were followed by destroyers who were trying to locate us. However we got well clear of them and came to the surface (at this stage our battery was getting very low), and commenced to steam on the surface with our gas engine, at the same time charging our batteries. We had been under way about half an hour when we sighted four or five different jets of smoke on the horizon. At first it was not certain whether these ships were going away from us or coming towards us but it was not long before we saw that they were coming towards us from Constantinople. These were six destroyers escorting two or three small transports. At this stage we had only one torpedo left and as these were only small transports the Captain decided to keep our only torpedo for something larger, but just show ourselves as much as possible so as to frighten them. When they were about 2000 yards
from us we were all put to our diving stations so as to be ready to get under at a moments notice, but they refused to fire on us till they were within about 800 yards of us. One shot fell about 100 yards off our starboard bow and one passed just over us. We immediately dived and when we were down to a depth of 40 feet one destroyer rushed over us at full speed thinking that perhaps we had not got down far enough and that she might be able to ram us. After remaining down about twenty minutes we came to the surface the destroyers were well clear of us so we started our engines and steamed towards Marmora Island. We had not been under way 10 minutes before we sighted E 14. She like ourselves had just come to the surface. This was indeed a delightful sight for us as it meant company. We ran up close to her and exchanged greeting. She had come through two days after us, 27th April. It was then getting late so after making a rendez-vous for the following day we parted. We proceed to a small bay on the European shore to lay on the bottom for the night. *
[Hand written insert at this place]
Lieut. Commander E.C. Boyle R.N. came into Sea of Marmora on 27th April 1915, two days after AE.2 & did not return to his base until 3 weeks later. During that time she did good work sank a gunboat, 2 Transports one with 6000 troops aboard, & with E 11 generally played havoc with the morale of the enemy, shelling the troop trains carrying Turkish reinforcements to Gallipoli. These soldiers preferred the long march of nearly 70 miles by the one solitary road used for such purposes rather than face the unexpected terrors of the deep.
I believe the Official record of the E. 14 in the 3 trips to the Sea of Marmora was a bag of 50 enemy boats. In view of her splendid services here Boyle receives the V.C. & his officers D.S.C & all other ratings D.S.M.
After the Dardanelles effort was given up, E.14 went on patrol duty in the Adriatic. When the "Goeben" ran aground in Dardanelles Jan. 1918, the E 14 was sent to torpedo her. They found the "Goeben" had got off during the night. The E 14 was seen & chased bu Patrol Boats which dropped depth charges close to her. She got the full result of this "sea" quake not unlike an earth quake
[page 2 of insert]
& began to leak badly. Coming to the surface she was shelled consistently & had to dive again. However her many leaks caused her to break surface in trying to reach outer harbour of Dardanelles but finally when the forts & gun boats & destroyers found her range & kept it until she became a total wreck. Only 9 of the crew of 31 were saved.
One of these 9 was Able Bodied Seaman Mitchell of Creswick Road Ballarat the only Aust. on board & he acted most gallantly.
When He was on the conning tower with the 3 officers passing orders below to the helmsman. The all the officers were swept off the bridge by shell fire & he was left alone & took charge. Although the enemy had the exact range & he was the only man visible he remained at his post & took charge of the sinking doomed boat & carried on as well as he cl until she sank.
When in the water he rescued the wireless operator who had been wounded in the face & was unconscious. There was no senior officer to recommend him for distinction & his only reward for gallant conduct was in the self evident fact that he did his duty: BRAVO Australia!
[Continuing page 21]
We got under way and rose to the surface about 8 a.m. Nothing was in sight so we proceeded on our way to meet E.14. On our way we sighted smoke on the horizon. This was soon seen to be a torpedo boat and a gunboat coming from Gallipoli. When they were about 2 miles off we stopped engines and stood by to dive at a moments notice. The torpedo boat soon sighted us and came full speed towards us. We immediately dived but it was soon seen that something was wrong with the boat.
[Insert at side of page]
She appeared to be heavy by the bows and when the captain looked round the boat A main ballast tank was found to be full of water the valves on this tank had not been touched how it became full is a mystery the only thing we could put this accident down to was that the water had leaked into this tank during the time we were lying on the bottom for we had had a hurried refit in Malta.
In trying to rectify this we broke surface and the torpedo boat (which was up to within a hundred yards of us) immediately fired on us, putting two shots through into the engine
s room. This made it impossible for us to dive again as the water was pouring in, so we had to surrender. We had no means of putting up a fight as we had no gun and we could not fire our remaining torpedo. During the time we were laying on the surface before we surrendered the torpedo boat fired two torpedoes at us and the gunboat one. All these torpedoes missed. If we had been struck by one of these torpedoes we should have been blown out of the water. When we came on deck to surrender the gunboat and torpedo boat were still firing on us, but immediately we surrendered the torpedo boat stopped firing and commenced steaming around at full speed blowing her siren to try and make the gunboat stop firing. As she was a greater distance away we were quite safe as all her shots were falling short. After about five minutes she stopped firing and came up close to us. The submarine was lying at an angle down by the bows and sinking very slowly. Everybody had plenty of time to get on deck. The torpedo boat ran up close to us and threw out life belts and lowered a small dingey. Our coxswain called out and told all those who could swim to jump in and go towards the torpedo boat and
those who could not swim so well, were told to get into the dingey. Just as everybody was clear, submarine A.E. 11 sank beneath the surface at 12.15 p.m. on 30th April, 1915. She sank in about 250 feet of water so that would make it impossible to raise her again.
A Rough Account Of Our Prison Life In Turkey
We were soon helped aboard the torpedo boat and after we had been mustered it was found that none of us were missing. We immediately took off our wet clothes and hung them up to dry. There were three German sailors and one German Officer on this boat. The Germans treated us very well, giving us their clothing to wear while ours was drying. They also gave us plenty of tobacco and cigarette papers which
was very appreciable were much appreciated. Anything left in the pockets of our clothing was stolen.
After we got our wet clothing off we were all put down in the forecastle of the baot and we went full speed to Gallipoli 1.15 p.mp we went alongside a small hospital ship which was full of wounded soldiers. A few minutes after we fell in for inspection and the great German General Limen Von Sanders and staff came off to inspect us. He only remained a few minutes, after which we proceeded alongside a small steamer to take in coal to carry us to Constantinople.
During the afternoon we began to get very hungry, as we had had nothing to eat since early in the morning. One of the German Sailors could speak English very well, having put in twelve years in the British merchant service so we told him we would like some food. He said they had no food aboard but he would do his best to get us some. He gave us some raw eggs and afterwards brought down some hard mouldy biscuits and black olives, We managed to eat some, but with great difficulty.
About 7 p.m. they brought us off a good meal from shore or at least we found out afterwards that it was a good meal for Turkey. This meal consisted of two small loaves of bread each, two big dishes of stew having a very strong taste of garlic, two dishes of a kind of salad, & some sort of green stuff with oil. This had a horrible greasy bitter taste. After this we had two dishes of a kind of sweet
bran mash. This did not taste too bad but as we did not know what it consisted of we did not relish it. This meal was eaten on the deck of the torpedo boat and after it was finished we had to go down below again.
During the afternoon we were joined by two soldiers one English and one French, also two Turkish soldiers came off to keep guard over us. We got under way for Constantinople. About 7.45 p.m. we all lay down to sleep cramped up in a space not fit to accomodate 15 men not alone 32. We were eaten with fleas and lice. We arrived at Constantinople at daybreak the following morning May 1st., and went alongside. The sun was just rising and the city looked beautiful the sun shining on the domes of the great mosques.
About 7 a.m. they brought us some food aboard This consisted of some brown bread and a dish of stew. We had to sit down around this and all eat from the same dish with wooden spoons. I think it was only because we were so hungry that we ate any. After this meal we had to go below again.
At 8.30 they brought us a Turkish soldiers suit, an overcoat, pair of light shoes and a fez. They told us we had to shift into these clothes immediately. There was great laughter and joking amongst us while we were shifting into these clothes. When we were ready we
were all fell in on the jetty (During the morning a great crowd had collected to see us land as the news of our capture must have spread all over the city). The crowd kept very quiet showing no hostility towards us. The only thing one could notice was a few smiling faces. No wonder for I expect we were enough to make anybody laugh.
Shortly after we were fell in our officers came off they were wearing the grey military overcoats but were allowed to retain their caps. They were immediately put in a cab with a Turkish officer as guard. We were then marched off with a strong guard over us, not having the slightest idea of our destination
would be. This city which had looked so beautiful from the harbour was soon seen to be otherwise. The streets were narrow and very badly paved and the shops were very poor. They evidently intended taking us the shortest rout for we were suddenly halted and and after a short consultation we turned back on our march a few hundred yards and took a short cut passing through the Central Railway Station and passed through into the main street, the railway station was decorated with German, Austrian and Turkish flags. We then commenced to march up a steep rise. We felt it terrible hot having a heavy suit of clothes and overcoat on. Very little notice was taken of us by the populace. A few people running to each street corner to see us pass, nothing was shouted at us, a few children were following but if they came too near the
Sentries would bang them and they would give up the chase.
After a little more than half an hours march we
entered reached the big military barracks of Constantinople. We entered marched in through the main entrance, a fine big archway with a clock on either side, one giving English time and one Turkish time. We passed through into the fine big parade ground, with big buildings all round, We marched to the far side of the parade ground and entered what appeared to be the prison of the barrakcs. We were all put into one room, there just being enough room for all of us to lay down to sleep. There were grass mats spread on the floor and we were motioned to sit down. Shortly after this some officers brought us in a big pile of cigarette tobacco and papers that we might make our own cigaretts and after this a man was sent in with small glasses of tea for us without milk and very sweet. This was very appreciable acceptable after our march, as we were unused to that exercise.
We learnt from our Sentries that the Turkish name for tea was "chay." This was the first Turkish word we learnt. Needless to say we were always calling out for "chay." In the evening we were served with tea again and later with our evening meal which consisted of a kind of pea not unlike Indian corn boiled
and a horrible tasting with a nauseous grease floating on the top of the water, which we learnt afterwards is always put with these meals. There were three dishes brought into us and placed on the floor and we were given a wooden spoon each and told to divide ourselves equally round the dishes. Just imagine Englishmen with a dirty wooden spoon squatting down on the floor all eating from the same dish, food not fit for a pig. Needless to say we scarcely touched this meal, although we were so hungry. We very soon lay down to sleep or I should say to be eaten with bugs, lice and fleas. They gave us no blankets or beds, so we just lay down on the boards and covered ourselves with our overcoats.
During this day we had been visited by several Turkish officers who came into the room, looked at us, held a short consultation and went away. None of these officers could speak English, worse luck, so it was useless trying to make complaints. When we awoke in the morning we were served out with a loaf of brown bread each and afterwards the morning meal which consisted of roughly crushed wheat and water with the same horrible grease floating on the top. Needless to say we sent this away scarcely touched and contented ourselves with dry bread. This was May 2nd 1915 On May 1st, the day of our arrival nine of us were questioned before a board of Turkish Officers, one being taken out at a time after they were questioned they were sent into another room and not allowed near the remainder. After getting different and absurd answers from each one they gave it up as a bad job, but still they wouldnít let us
mix. We could not understand this at all. They did not threaten us if we did not answer the questions correctly.
They were particularly anxious to know how many torpedoes we carried and where we used to go at night time while in the sea of Marmora.
In the afternoon of the 2nd May we were served out with a Turkish sailors uniform each, a red fezz and towel and pair of sox. The soldiers uniforms had to be returned but we were allowed to keep the overcoats. In the evening a Turkish officer and two N.C.Oís came in with a French interpreter who had been captured on the Peninsula
r the day before. He could speak English and Turkish fairly well, we were indeed pleased to see him as we could not ask for anything before this. They took our names in full, also our Fatherís name in full, whether dead or alive. What for remained a mystery.
The Frenchman gave us the Turkish words for bread, cheese, tea and water. We wrote these words on the wall so that we should not forget them. This was
our first insight great progress in to the Turkish language. After this we were served with the evening meal, the same as the day before. We were since told that we were getting the same food as the Turkish soldiers, if so I am sorry for them. One meal at 6 in the morning and nothing till 6 in the evening and then not fit food for a human being.
Since we arrived we had been asking for a little exercise on the parade ground, but could get no satisfaction. On the morning of the 3rd we had our usual meal and during the forenoon our friend the interpreter was allowed in to see us, and he said they would allow him out in the city with a sentry, and he would get us anything we were in immediate need of:
for as some of us had a few shillings, we had saved from the boat wreck, we we ordered some toothbrushes, soap, cheese, lettuces etc. & any other eatables he might be able to procure.
About 11 a.m. we were allowed out in the garden overlooking the harbour for an hours exercise.
This It was a treat to be out in the sun after being cooped up in a badly lighted room. In the evening we were shaved and had our hair practically shaved off after which we had the usual evening meal and lay down to sleep.
On the morning of the 4th we were taken out into the large parade ground and lined up against one of the big buildings to have our photograph taken. Our officers were also brought out to be photographed with us. We were taken with our fezzes off and a Turkish sentry either side of us, we looked proper criminals with our hair cut so short.
During this operation a great crowd of Turkish
Officers and soldiers stood in front of us gazing at us as if we were a crowd of wild animals. After this we returned to our room and shortly after we were allowed out for an hours exercise, the same as the previous day. In the evening we were informed that we were going into the country
i on the morrow next day where we would have all we required and we would see our friends who had been captured a week or so before. On the morning of 5th we were roused out early and after eating what we could of the wretched meal we were fell in outside our room. Here we were joined by 8 or 10 French Soldiers and two Australian Soldiers. We had not seen these before as we had been kept separate. After much counting we marched off together passing out of the main entrance. After passing through several narrow streets we came out on the harbour front. Here there was a large motor boat waiting for us. We all got on board and crossed over the Bosphorus to Scutari. This is really partly the city of Constantinople but situated on the opposite side of the Bosphorus. On arrival there we marched to the railway station Haidar Pasha close by. As we came alongside the wharf there was a big hospital ship coming alongside full up with wounded Turkish soldiers. After waiting an hour for the train we were put in 3rd class carriages. We moved out of the station about 8.30 a.m. After travelling along the Gulf of Ismid for about 50 miles we came to the town of Ismid, pop. 25,000 head of a sandjak large trade in ag. products, a large town, situated at the head of the gulf by of that name. The train remained here about 15 minutes. After leaving Ismid we commence to climb a range of mountains. It soon got very pretty & the scenery was really beautiful. There is a large creek running rapidly towards the sea of Mormora. We cross and recross this creek several times before reaching the top of the range of mountains. This is a fine bit of engineering. After travelling all day we reach our highest altitude about 6 p.m. About 7 p.m. we arrive at El Kichener Eskishehir pop. 40,000 chief town of a Kaza, a principal town and junction for Angora on the Bagdad line. Here we notice a vast change in the climate. We were wearing our overcoats but still felt cold having risen to an altitude of 2500 feet in the 10 hours that we had been travelling. We had orders to get off the train and after falling in on the platform we were marched off to a building only a few hundred yards from the station. We were all crowded into one room, there just being room for the 50 of us to sleep. It did not look like as if we were going to get any food but in about half an hour we were portioned off into four groups and four dishes were brought in and placed on the floor. The food was crushed wheat cooked dry with some sort of terrible tasting oil mixed with it. This was the meal that 50 hungry English and French prisoners had to eat after travelling all day and cold weather at that. After this we lay down and slept fairly well, all crowding together to keep warm. We were awakened at daylight and after having a wretched meal practically slung at us thrown to us we marched off to the Station and caught a train at about 6 a.m. We were surprised to see that we were travelling back on the same line but after travelling half an hour we branched off in a
westerly direction, across a big level plain. After travelling for about 5 hours we notice our guards putting their packs on and generally preparing to leave the train. This told us that it would not be long before we would be at our destination. Shortly after this the train stopped at a station called Afionkara Hissar junction for Smyrna, chief town of sandjak pop. 40,000 opium [?]. They made us understand that this would be our destination up till this we did not have the slightest idea where we were going. We were met on the station by Naval officers and guard this told us that there were other naval prisoners here for submarine E 15 had been sunk and the crew taken prisoners 14 days before us. [See note on E 15 on page 40.]
The Naval guard took us over and we marched off after going along the road for about half a mile we were taken in to an old broken down place. It was evident that this place
d belonged to the military for there were rifle racks all round the room and places to stow equipment. This was a frightfully cold place- wind blowing in through the cracks in all directions. We christened this place the bird cage. In the evening an officer came in and we complained of the cold and asked if we might have something to cover ourselves with at night., but he said they had nothing to give us. This was 6th May, and that night we shall never forget. First of all we stowed ourselves together to try and keep warm but it was no good, so most of us spent the night marching up and down the room singing to try and keep life in us for the cold made it impossible to sleep. The following day we were visited by a doctor and another officer, so we all complained of being ill through the cold thinking that this might induce them to give us some covering at night or be shifted to another building but the only reply we got was "did England send all invalids to fight for her" We told them that we were prisoners of war, not dogs, and that we had been used to being treated as human beings in England. The officer went away without saying another word. Our own officers were confined in a building close to us but a little better than ours. We put in another agonising night in this building. The forenoon of the following day we were told that we were to be removed to another building and that we should be with our own friends. At 12 noon we were marched off further into the town. After ten minutes walk we halted near a big mosque and in the same grounds there were some fairly decent buildings (they had been a school) this was our destination. There were about 200 Russian s sailors from the merchant ships captured in Constantinople and a few French sailors from the submarine Saphire. We marched into the first building and here we saw the first of E 15 crew. They were pleased to see us both for company and for what news we had. We occupied a room opposite them. Six of us going into their room as they had less in a room of the same size. Our room was on the corner of the building with two windows on two sides. This made the room nice and light but we were far too crushed This room was 22 x 15 feet and 27 of us had to sleep and eat there. The room E 15 crew occupied was about the same size but very dark, and situated only about six yards from the closets- always a horrible smell coming in through the
windows as the sanitary arrangements in Turkey are of the very worst. I forgot to mention that these rooms were absolutely bare, no tables or stools. We had to sit, sleep and eat on the floor. On arrival at this place a very strict guard was kept over us not being allowed out of our rooms except for an hours exercise every day and then we were kept at one end of the yard and not allowed to mix with the Russians or French.
We spent our hours exercise walking up and down or playing rounders etc. This routine was carried on every day the same. Still getting two meals a day never seeing meat or vegetables, but we did not lose heart as we thought it would only be for a short time. There was a canteen where we could buy a few eatables. We have since found out that they were making 2 and 300 % on every article they sold. The canteen was run by the Commandants brother in law. Of course there was a great swindle being worked, the Commandant and Officers taking a good percentage of the profits. All they sold in the canteen was sugar coffee, some while sour tasting cheese, ulver, a sweet mixture which can be cut like cheese and eaten with bread, and a few onions. The canteen was a small room in the Russians building. We were not allowed near it so a Turkish boy came round with a basket each day. He in turn tried to make his little bit of profit from the prisoners. On 15th May we were joined by two Australian soldiers who had just come from the Dardanelles. They gave us very little news as our troops had not been fighting long enough to make any decided progress. There was a Turkish bath in the same grounds as our building, so once a week we were allowed the privilege of going for a bath provided we could pay the 2 piastres which they charged. The correct price should have been half a piastre. This was another case where we were robbed. After a lot of trouble our Captain was allowed to send us £ 6:0:0. With this we bought tea, sugar, and charcoal to boil the water. After this we had tea twice a day. For some time this was a great luxury. We had a Turkish Naval Lieutenant Commander in charge of us and under him four lieutenants. The Commander was a stout man with a most awful temper. On two or three occasions we had reason to know that he had such a bad temper. He was an officer rescued from the battleship
Masudah "Massudiyah," sunk in the Dardanelles by submarine B 11 so he had reason to love submarine ratings. on Nov. 13th when the Powers that be told the Turks to "get ready" for the April landing.
This was a very old battleship of 10,000 tons guarding the mine fields below the "Narrows" Ė where the current runs all 4 Ĺ knots- She was lying at anchor under the supposed security of 5 lines of live mines but the skipper of the B 11 "got home" with his 18 in. torpedo & the Turks reported she sank as the "result of a leak" I believe she sprang the leak so quickly that only about 30 of her crew of 600 got free. It was rough luck to have one of the few as our Commandant but no doubt he had reason to vent his spite on submarine ratings.
Afion-kara-hissar being a military recruiting town there was a military commandant of the town. This officer paid us a visit usually once a week but it was not the slightest bit of good complaining. Things went on the same till the 1st June. On this day we were informed that we had to go and work on the roads of the town. After having our wretched meal of practically nothing but hot water, we
were fell in at 6.30 a.m., mustered and marched off in charge of
sentries and returning home about 6.30 in the evening when we had our second meal. At midday we had from 1 hour to an hour and a half off, but we were not supplied with any midday meal with exception what we bought ourselves. To those who did not have money, it meant that they had to exist on dry bread and the meals we got before going to work and after returnign were not fit for any human being to work on especially having such long hours (12). The work consisted of stone breaking and forming a road, some of us digging with picks and shovels while others wheeled the dirt away in barrows. The work was not over hard, but we had to keep on the move. They respected our Sunday giving us the day off. About the middle of June we received some clothing and 100 piastres from the American Ambassador. 100 piastres in English money was equal to 16/8. The Commandant gave us a weekly allowance of 20 piastres till this money was finished. The money indeed was a God-Send, but it did not go as far as it should have owing to the exhorbant prices charged in the canteen. Things go on the same till 6th July, when work is stopped on the roads of Afionkara-hissar. We are told that we are going out into the country to work. At first we thought we were going to work on a farm as it was the harvesting season. They also called for six volunteers to put some reapers and binders together. (
these reapers and binders were supplied by Massey Harris Co.)
During the next two or three days two parties of Russians were despatched with all their belongings to the Country. On July all the English were fell in with their belongings excepting those who had volunteered for the reapers and binders. When we were fell in we were counted & recounted about twenty times. Our commandant came round and told us we were going to work in the country and also that we would be paid for all work done, but he did not state what the work would be or how far we had to go or how we were to travel. Eventually we marched off about 10 a.m. and got as far as the Council buildings where we went inside and had our names taken again. This took another two hours. Anything taking 10 minutes to do in England takes two hours in Turkey. However at noon we
were again fell in out in the street. Two carts came along and we put most of our gear on them and then we marched off, little thinking we had so far to go. At 2 p.m. we crossed the range of hills. They were very steep and when we reached the top we were all just about done in. They gave us a short spell and then we continued our downward march. This was nearly as hard as the climb and it was so steep. At the bottom of the hill we passed through a small village. Here we had another rest the sentries not quite knowing what road to take. After half an hour we moved off again and crossed over a level plain. There was a range of hills on the other side and our hearts dropped when we were told that we had to go as far as the hills, if not further, for we had very bad footwear boots. We had had nothing to eat since early morning excepting the dry bread which we carried with us. There was a good water supply, there being Springs or wells every two or three
miles. At 5.30 p.m. we came to another small village and after we filled our water bottles and the
sentries guards made certain of the way, we moved on.
About 7.p.m. we came to the hills again and at 7.45 we halted on a clear patch of ground at the foot of a hill. Here we found the carts with the gear. We were all dead tired so we got our mats out of the carts and la
ye them out on the grass and immediately went to sleep. Some time through the night the other carts arrived with tents. When we awoke in the morning we found we were in a small valley surrounded by the hills and a small creek running close by. We had a good wash in the creek which refreshed us up considerably. We had our breakfast of dry bread after which we proceeded to erect our tents. After we had finished the Municipal engineer arrived. He told us we would not start work till Monday, so during the afternoon we made some tea and cooked some eggs which we bought from people passing along the road. The following day being Sunday we did not work and much to our surprise the sentries allowed us to roam round the hills gathering wood. There was We found some good water-cress to be had which made a welcome change.
On Monday 12th July at 6 a.m. we started work. This consisted of breaking stones on the road. We worked till 6 in the evening. We were able to have a bath in the creek whenever we liked. During our stay here the sentries were very good to us allowing us to go where we liked. Everything went on the same for the week nothing happening with ecsxeption of killing a few snakes. During our stay we were continually running out of provisions, not even getting our proper bread supply. Needless to say we were continually complaining about the shortage of food. At 4.a.m. 19th July, a man on a horse came galloping into the camp and informed the sentries that we were to return to Afionkarahissar at once, so everything was hurry and bustle. We started on our journey back about 6 a/m. We thought that perhaps the war was drawing to a close and that we were going back to be released. These hopes were soon dashed to the ground for when we got back Afionkarahissar we found everything in a bustle, not because we were going to be released but because some officials had come from Headquarters at Constantinople to enquire into our treatment generally. When we arrived back we found that we had been joined by some new prisoners, Sergeant Delpratt, Pte. Allen, a Gurkah and two Frenchmen. They had arrived on the 18th. The train they came on was bombarded by
a submarines near Ismit. Probably E 14 or E 11.
[From side of page:]
The E 11 under Lieut Comm Nasmith went right in & up to Constantinople Ėon the way up he destroyed Transports, storeships, a large gunboat & ammunition ships besides shelling troop trains with reinforcements for Suvla Bay. His return trip was exciting. He ran foul of a cable & towed a large mine for nearly 10 miles
It would have been "good night" to the E 11 if one of the horns of this mine had touched anything as she skilfully dodged depth charges, mine fields, batteries, T.B.4s en route
Fortune favours the brave Nasmith came out alright & got a V.C. his officers D.S.O. & crew D.S.M.
They had a most exciting time, English French and Russians, each had a representative to go before this official from Constantinople. They gave him a list of all complaints needless to say he had a large list. The principal complaints were against the food, never getting meat etc., against the prices charged in the canteen and against the sentries. On July 20th there was a great change The canteen was closed,
one of us from each room being allowed out in the town to buy for the others. We soon saw we were getting double the quantity of everything for our money. They also killed a bullock and we actually had meat twice this day. What a change. After this a bullock was killed every other day. The cost of a bath was reduced from 2 piastres to Ĺ piastre, and generally all round there was a vast improvement. We were allowed out in the parade grounds all day instead of a limited time. All this made our life much happier. There were also 3 carpenters employed making tables and stools for the rooms. On July 26th we
got heard a rumour that there would be no more work for us, but on the morrow next day this was soon put out of the question, for we went out on the roads as usual, but there was very little work done, the sentries not troubling whether we worked or not. That evening (27th) our officers sent us a box of foodstuff, a few tins of jam, sardines and some medicine. Although the quantity being was small for so many it was extremely acceptable. A clergyman at Constantinople sent this to the officers.
On July 29th while at work two of the Russians employed blasting were badly injured through a charge of powder going off while they were ramming it in. The following day nobody went to work, our officers sent us up 10 piastres per man. We were all just about broke. August 1st a great number of Turkish recruits arrive. They camped outside the mosque close to us. They were all about middle aged. One thing we were surprised at was when ever we were going or returning from work the populace never showed any signs of hate against us, only the children who made signs of cutting our throats, we did not take any notice of that as they were only children. On August 2nd we received a big batch of letters; some of us getting as many as 18. All old letters, some written long before we were captured. August 3rd we again have rumours that there is to be no more work. In the afternoon we watch some strange dancing by the Turkish Recruits. Our beds arrive but are not served out. The following day they give us our beds, a small mattress filled with grass. We feel the benefit after lying on the hard floor. The night of August 5th was very exciting. We had all turned in and most of us asleep when we heard the music of a band approaching and at intervals great cheering. They came close until they had surrounded our buildings. The guard were all turned out and fully armed. Things did not look at all good for us but after half an hour all the mob cleared away and all was quiet again. We never knew the cause of this but it was supposed to be a demonstration over the fall of Warsaw. August 6th we get a new suit of clothes. It is of very poor quality, but still acceptable as we had practically no clothing.
August 7th Everybody was got on the move early. We could see by the preparations that some big official was coming to visit the establishment. About 10 a.m. two carts arrived full
with provisions. After the provisions were unloaded we were told that the American Ambassador was coming to pay us a visit in an hours time. After 11.30 Mr. Phillips, attachť to the American Embassy at Constantinople, arrived with his guard and servants. He sat down at a table in the shade of the building with the Turkish officers. We the English, were all fell in close by. He called upon the senior British prisoners to give an account of our treatment and complaints etc. He then asked how mahy of us there were and after finding out gave us each a Turkish pound (18/-). He then told us that the provisions were for us alone. He did not have the opportunity to say very much to us, we asked him if he thought we would be here for Christmas. He said he could not say, but if we were he would not forget the plum puddings. He also said he would not forget us when he got back to Constantinople. After this he inspected our quarters after which he gave the French a Turkish pound each and £36:0:0: amongst the Russians. This was a pity the Russians did not get more. Mr. Phillips explained that their interests were not in his hands and the money he gave them was on his own account. The food stuffs included tea, sugar, milk, jam cocoa, honey, biscuits, butter, a variety of tinned fish, and meats etc. All this was of the best brands. The following day the Ambassador Mr Phillips visited us again for a short time. He said that some arrangements would be made so that we would get a regular supply of provisions and money every month. After this instead of living on practically dry bread we commenced living on bacon and eggs, sausages etc. We very soon began to feel the benefit of this good living. August 15th we are visited by another Turkish Officer from Headquarters. He asked for complaints and expressed his pleasure whenever we told him that things had improved vastly. He also said that he wished us to be happy.
The following day he came to the barracks again. We
were all fell in with our new suits on and those who had none were given one. He then saluted us and went away. Aug.17th we start work again, on the roads, but when we get there we practically refuse to work until we get payment for same. The engineer comes along and promises that we will get money for the work we do, but still we refuse to work till we see the money as we have had experience of the Turkish promises. The sentries do not try to make us work. Aug.18th All the Armenians are driven from the town. The principle cause of it is the Armenians are Christians and all the business of the town is carried on by them. There is a very strong feeling against the Christians in this Country. At this time thousands of Armenians were turned out of these big towns to starve and thousands were massacred. This day we also get news of a big Russian Victory in the Caucaus capturing 2500 Turks. Also news of big reinforcements landed on Dardanelles Aug.19th Turkish paper says we have landed 5 divisions of troops on Dardanelles. August 20th while going to work we were
marching very slowly the sentry tried to hurry us but it was no use. He made a rush at one of us threatening to use the butt of his rifle. This happened in the heart of the town just as we were opposite a hospital where there was a lot of wounded soldiers. There were also a number of soldiers standing on the side of the road. Had the sentry struck this man it may have been the means of a number of us losing our lives as it would take very little to turn these people against us. When we returned in the evening he was reported to the Officer who said he would not be sent in charge of us again, but needless to say he was. Afterwards this affair was the cause of a considerable amount of trouble for the man who was threatened wrote away about the affair and of course the letter was stopped by the Censor and reported to Head-quarters and of course enquiries were made into the affair.
August 22nd our officers sent us up 100 piastres to buy a football so after this we played football every day August 25th a case of fever broke out in the Russian quarters. The result is we are put in quarantine for fourteen days. We get provisions from the town by the officers servants. They pass the stuff over the fence to us. Two fumigators are brought into the yard and we put our clothes through. The rooms are fumigated by burning sulphur. After this we whitewash all the walls.
August 28th. The Turkish papers give
s their account of General Hamiltonís report on the Dardanelles. Of course a pack of lies. They give our casualties as 7000 killed and 28000 wounded and 10000 missing. September 1st been prisoner four months and still no signs of peace. The report in the Turkish papers today says the English papers say the English will be through the Dardanelles
by 15th October, but the Germans would be there to help the Turks before that date. Our money is running short and still nothing forthcoming from the Ambassadors promise. We receive a letter from our Captain saying that we could expect a speedy release as Bulgaria would be joining in on our side within a few days. We see by the papers that things are bad for Europeans in the Capital no one being allowed out after sunset without a guard. We receive news from our officers telling us that we need not expect any more money as the Turks are putting obstacles in our way. Sept. 7th we are not allowed to write or receive more than four lines. New Commandant takes over
September 14. Twelve months today AE 1 was lost. Our captain with Russian Captain pays us a visit. We have the first chance to speak to him. He is allowed to taste our morning meal. He is disgusted with it and tells the Turkish officers that we are all looking thin and not getting sufficient food. Our coxwain showed him the plate
of cheese which we were allowed for 64 men. He turned round to the Turkish Commandant and told him it was not sufficient for 64 mice. Of course this caused trouble and shortly after our officers were taken away. September 16th large numbers of recruits come into town today. They are living in the mosque opposite us. September 20th number of recruits leave here today. A number of them are Greeks. September 21st a lot of Turkish troops come into the town on their way to the Dardanelles. They come up to have a look at us. September 25th we see the officers while out shopping. They tell us we can expect money about the middle of the week. September 26th we receive 5 piastres per man from our officers. At this time we are all just about on the rocks for money. We are waiting patiently for the American Ambassador to put in an appearance as he has promised. September 28th good news in the papers re bombardment of German lines by our artillery. The Germans are forced to retire 3 miles. September 29th we are visited by a German officer with two Turkish Officers. October 2nd our Captain with one officer from E 15 have to go to Constantinople. We do not know the reason why. October 5th. The crew of AE 11 are fell in and mustered and also the soldiers. They are very careful to pick out all the R.Cís.
[Note from side of page:]
These were sent to Constantinople & had a much easier time than the rest of the prisoners. I donít know if the same inducements were held out to these prisoners as that renegrade Casement officer to the Irish Prisoners in Germany but no doubt the R.C. Archbishop put in a good word for them.
Afterwards we are told that all the Non protestants from AE 11 and the Soldiers are going to be moved from Afionkara-Hissar for a long time. We did not know where we were going, or the reason why we were separated from the RCís.
[Note from the side of page:]
We learnt afterwards that they were put in prison for 15 days
for alleg as apprisal reprisal for alleged bad treatment of Turkish officers in Egypt.
We were ordered to be ready to leave by 12.30 and that we would not take our beds, spoons or mugs.
About 11.30 one of our A.Bís acting as officers servant came up with a message from the officers saying that they heard we were leaving for Angora where the other Dardanelles prisoners were. They also sent us £2:0:0: to buy food with on the journey and a message to take to the Captain should we meet him. About 12 noon we
were fell in again and had our bundles searched. They took all our mugs, the Commandant declaring that they had been given to us when we arrived in Kar hissar but we had bought them with our own m money. It was not a bit of good arguing the point. We were then served out with two loaves of bread and a few black olives, to last us on the journey. We then marched down to the station and put in a closed in horse truck 39 of us in all and the doors were locked. There were 4 small windows in this truck about a foot square and of course the place soon became very stuffy. We were put in the truck, about 1.30 but did not move out of the station till 6.15. We arrived at Eskichehir about 2 a.m. about 160 miles from Kara-hissar. Sept 30th Eskichehir is a main junction on the Bagdad line. We remained here locked in all the time till 11a.m. the following day, when we renewed our journey over very desolate looking country quite flat, not a blade of green grass to be
be seen for miles The country is just broken here & there by small rocky hills.
We had great difficulty in getting drinking water because the sentries would not let us out at the different stations. However we did get out at one station & we got in conversation with a Russian civilian who spoke English. He told us we were going to the Angora , chief town of vilayet pop.40000 celebrated for mohair where there were other English prisoners
We arrived at Angora at 11 pm & after a short time a strong guard of Turkish soldiers came down to the station to march us away. We were marched about 3 miles to a large buildings on a hill. This proves to be the American Agricultural College. During this short march we were badly treated being pushed & knocked with the butts of rifles. We got to the building at midnight & were put into 2 small rooms. There were a few spare mattresses but not half enough to go round.
On the morning we found that the crew of Submarine E 7 had arrived a few days before also a few soldiers from different regiments recently captured at the Dardanelles.
It was very interesting to get all the latest news as we had been in the dark for quite 5 months. This building was quite O.K. plenty of room for a1000 odd, quite new, some way from Angora.
We allowed out twice daily 1 hour. Food not good. Officers with us.
Found out that 150 other prisoners near to us in old Greek monastry.
Oct 8th. On this date a prisoner died & a burial party was chosen from amongst us. The Burial Service was read by a Greek Priest.
Early on Oct 13th. We were told we had to go to a town 85 miles away.
"Kingrie" Kanghrie 85 m. (N.N.E) of Angora by name. The journey had to be done in 4 days. In the evening we held a farewell concert & our officers were present for the 1st time. They gave us 2 accordians which they had received from the American Ambassador at C-pole.
Next day at 9 AM a guard 25 strong came with 8 or 10 carts for our gear. At 9.30 AM joined up with other prisoners from the Monastry.
Halted for Ĺ hr. In part of Angora Military Barracks & were counted several times.
Two Turkish officers & Sergts. with us one cld.
[speak] English the other French. On this journey we were allowed short spells & had done 20 miles by 8 pm. Naturally very tired & in spite of being packed into small rooms infested with vermin we soon slept.
Oct 15th. We moved off at daylight after having received the usual ration for 24 hours on the march viz- One loaf of Black Bread & 24 Olives.
The travelling was v. Hot & after the usual 20 miles we came to a small village Kaledjik. Here to our delight we had a hot meal of crushed wheat cooked with olive oil & a piece of bread each, This was provided by a kind Armenian.
We also divided into groups of 12 & showed our best table manners as we dipped into the one common dish. The result of this meal was A.1. & it saved us going to bed hungry. Before turning in we were separated from each other but each man had plenty of company nevertheless- little things who never pay rent but give one a personal welcome
Oct 16th Roused on daylight & did the usual 20 miles. Toward end of day the Turks said
Yarrin Sahat "Yarri saíat." which means "1/2 hour" but actually means 2 or 3 hrs more walking
The stress of the journey & short food
Began to tell its tale on a number of the sick prisoners who had just come out of Hospital at C-pole. There had been badly wounded at the Dardanelles & beloged to the A.I.F. & Immortal British 29th Division so well spoken of in "Masefieldís Book "Gallipoli"
Constantly the sick were carried by the less sick as long as possible to spare them the brutal treatment from the Turkish Guards who struck those who collapsed with the butt of rifle & put the boot in to force them to get up & keep up.
At night fall we were a pathetic lot & even suffered this scandalous treatment in dumb fashion. They keep us going until 9 pm when we reached a small building not large enough to hold us all so the rest slept in the open. This had been a gruelling day. 15 hrs stiff march on small rations for sick, wounded, barefoot men.
Oct 17th. length and condition of journey ditto but at end of 20 miles we found our destination Big Military Barracks made of wood- & out of use- with square in centre.
For the 1st time in 3 Ĺ yrs we
had a soft bed & woollen quilt.
Oct 18th Not much doing & the guard had been reduced because of the apparent impossibility of escape from the Barrack Yard 90 square yards in area.
Our own folks were allowed to cook & do for us. The food was much the same tho allowed a little extra flour. No tobacco & no money to buy extras, so the authorities allowed
us forage parties of 30 at a time out to do shopping
Things were very cheap vegetables plenty for small sum chicken 4d. Turkeys 2/- each (One chap said he knew a Turkey that wasnít worth a damn let alone 2/- he was prepared to give it up any old time.)
Weather was fine but v. cold.
On Nov. 8th we were visited by There two German officers who had Iron Crosses. They swaggered about with a true German Strut and spoke to one French prisoner only, of great German Victories everywhere. We know this was bluff and that these victories were "made in Germany".
Thirty three (33) new prisoners came just out of hospital. They gave us a letter from Lieut. Commander Cochrane of the Submarine E 7 from Angora, which contained the glad tidings that a large amount of under clothings- very needful- and £200:0:0 even more needful, had been allotted for distribution amongst us prisoners. The clothing came on 16th but was not given out till the 25th. Snow fell on that date and the clothing, as issued, was found to be quite insufficient in quantity and quality. However it was a case of Ĺ a suit being better than nothing at a time when the smaller mercies were most thankfully received. (See note on official British issue of clothing to Turks and contrast the same; put in same as foot note. 2 blankets- 2 white cotton shirts- 2 towels (also one bath towel 2 pair boots- 2 flanel vests- 2 handkerchiefs one fez- 2 jackets- trousers repaired or replaced free also Suttringes to lie on)
Side note: Contrast bet. Turkish & British treatment of prisoners.
When I sat shivering and cold I often thought of my warm comfy clothes left at Malta awaiting my return. Up to now we had been without tobacco for a long while, when quite unexpectedly the Turkish sentries offered us Baccy on tick. This action led us to believe that the £200 must be near at hand, otherwise they wouldnít have allowed us to run up accounts. We were very wet, cold and miserable and the smoke was "O.K." Surely enough the Turk took little risk, but big profits because to say the A.E 2 crew received £5:10:0 each from the Australian O.C. on London. Up to this time there was no Red Cross to "mother" us, but the O.C. proved a good step-father to the AE 2 lads. We made this small amount stretch out as far as we could amongst our immediate pals, because it was not till December 8th that the promised £200 was divided between the 150 prisoners. The prisoners were chiefly sailors from the British submarines E 15, E 7, Aust AE 2. French submarines Turquoise: Marriott, Sapphire, and soldiers from Gallipoli, Australian and British. (The French name their submarines, and do not number them as we do ours.
Also see notes on the fates of Concerning these submarines I may mention that
see written a/cs of AE1, AE 2, E 14
E. 15. After running aground the Captain Lieut. Commander Brodie finding it impossible to get her off was about to open the conning tower hatch and look out. He stopped to light a cigarette in the conning tower and just at this moment about 6" shell came through cutting his body in two, the lower portion falling back into the boat. This was the British Submarine which ran aground near the Forts of
Dardanus in the Dardanelles. As she lay quite helpless the forts opened a heavy fire on her, completing her destruction. If there had been any chance of saving her this would not have been done. Five of her crew were killed and many wounded with shell fire. Even when the enemy saw what a total wreck the E 15 was they still continued firing from the forts. Quite a number of riflemen on the beach had good practice at the ship wrecked men and joined in with the forts in trying to wound and kill them as they were swimming about and clinging to wreckage.
There was an officer on board, Lt Palmer who had before the war, been the British Vice Consul at the Turkish town of Chanak. He held the rank of Lieutenant on E 15 as an additional Intelligence Officer and spoke Turkish very well. When the prisoners were marching through this town he was recognised by Turkish officials and was immediately seized and threatened with death as a spy. However the sentence wasnít carried out, because he held a commission in the Royal Navy.
E 7 Trying to enter the Dardanelles one morning, she got caught about 7 a.m. in one of the many nets which made a successful entrance nigh impossible. All day long the crew tried to get free but she had too many wires around her propellers and unfortunately ran out of power. Her plight was made known to the many patrol boats by the violent moving of the floats attached to the nets. When night was drawing on the enemy dropped two heavy gun cotton depth charges (These depth charges or bombs were a British invention and were first used in the North Sea against German Submarines. Depth charges were not in use by the enemy at this time, but it was probably some small explosive charge which they dropped. Had it been depth charges it would have sunk the boat.) close to the entangled boat battling for her life. This was quite sufficient warning to the officers of E 7 to know they hadnít a fighting chance: and not wishing to waste human life they came to the surface, after having planned for the immediate destruction of their ship, which became a total wreck soon after they were taken prisoners.
The first boat to try and force a passage through the Narrows on January 15th 1915 was the French submarine Sapphire. She was unsuccessful being sunk Ĺ way through, opposite the town of Chanak right in the Narrows.
Marriott met her fate just below Chanak- just after the AE 2 had been lost- crew prisoners.
Turquoise which was working in conjunction with British Submarine E 20 ran aground in Sea of Marmora. Everything was captured- ships papers, log, instruments etc. The information gained by the enemy showed the rendezvous selected for this boat and E 20. The E 20 came to the spot unsus-
pectingly. She was lying on the surface waiting for the Turquois when they were surprised to see a torpedo coming toward them before they could move the torpedo struck them amidships practically cutting her in two she sank immediately only 9 being saved. Rumour says the Torquoise was sent to Constantinople fitted out throughly and a German crew put on board but afterwards she was lost. (Note on Torquoise- it was not destroyers that sank E 20 but a German Submarine)
(Continuing my narrative)
The AE 2 crew received £4:10:0 more. This bucked us up greatly because Xmas was nigh at hand. This sum with the £1:0:0 per week which Turks now allowed us permitted us to purchase necessities.
December 12. Twenty nine other prisoners entered this abode of the desolate. Four of these were part of E 20 crew. These told of their experiences when torpedoed by the German submarine
s. By this time the weather was so extremely cold and wet that more clothing had to be issued to us.
I donít know how the Reader spent Xmas Day of 1915 but it was the first Xmas Iíd ever spent in prison. Our heathen captors allowed us out to do some shopping and even went so far as to recognise "The Day" by giving us more wood to do extra cooking but strangely enough we had no ovens to cook in. However we did the best we could under the circumstances.
It was a day of Remembrance and many a prisoner had an unaccustomed lump in his throat when he drank to the toast of "Absent Friends". After this Xmas Dinner, it was noteworthy to see how the different nationalities sat in groups and quietly talked of old times and old pals and their thoughts turned to their own vacant chair in the home land.
In the afternoon a football match was played between Army and Navy. A Turkish Band, save the name, of three instruments, string fiddle, cello and tamborine came to liven proceedings. The effect upon the football players was instantaneious. It seemed to make them play harder to drown the row. Any way if the band got as much fun out of their efforts as the spectators did they were well repaid. We thanked them for their honest intentions and good will towards us. In the
enemy evening we had a dinkum European Concert.
December 30th. Was a red letter day, for I amonst others received my first mail for over 8 months, since I left Malta. The general verdict of the lucky recipients was that it was a good finish to a hard luck year, 1915.
January 7th. This was a day of great rejoicing by the enemy. Flags flying, bands playing, processions in galore The explanation given was "The English have been driven off the Dardanelles." They no doubt had heard of the evacuation on the cold winter morning of Dec. 20th when the last of our men was taken off in boats from Suvla Bay & Anzac.
We soon found out it was not more bluff made in Turkey this time. (This was the first time the populace
showed any marked hostility towards us and if the guards had not been alert and their numbers strengthened we should have had a rough time. In Angora some 80 miles away the people dragged the English, French and other flags in the mud. They threatened the English officers and displayed great hatred. This peculiar Turkish temperament or fanaticism always made them more dangerous to prisoners when they were victorious than after defeat. & cannot be admired, thought it is common to the Asiatic
Rumour now came that some of us were to be moved back to Angora to work for a German Civil Engineering Firm who had the construction of Bagdad Railway through the Taurus Mts. Just previous to this we had been questioned as to our occupation before the war and this enquiry gave colour to the rumour.
Put in here Escape & capture of Lieut. Com. Stoker see over leaf: [here inserted]
Escape of Lieut. Commander Stoker
It was about this time early in 1916 that 3 Naval officers escaped. One was my O.C. Lieut. Commander Stoker late of AE 2. They left in disguise from Affion-karrhissar & were away 7 days.
They had almost reached the coast when unfortunately they fell in with a Turkish Police Guard.
They were arrested sent back to Constantinople & imprisoned with other
Military Officers in Military Prison. Here the conditions were almost unbearably vile Many times they were asked for their Parole & were told they could have liberty & comfort if they gave their word not to try & escape.
They "stuck out" against such inducements for many months & it was only when they were in serious danger of losing their reason through weakness, vermin, poisoning & other refined methods of cruelty that they at last agreed.
From my own experience I can readily understand how weak & starving, emasculated prisoners, confined in a loathsome Turkish prison easily losing their mental balance.
The want of sleep on account of vermin; no exercise; no facilities for washing & purifying himself In fact the wonder is that many more didnít crack up.
[Back to page 43 continued]
January 15th. Told that we would leave for Angora on 17th and would have to carry all our gear, clothing, pots and essentials; also that our official rations per man per day would be 1 small loaf of coarse bread. The roads were simply awful feet deep in mud, slush and snow. We knew we were in for a hard rough time and had to do about 20 miles per day under our heavy pack and our 1 loaf of bad bread so we killed our few chickens, saved what we couldnít eat and went to bed very depressed. We started at daybreak and by noon the next day many of the week wounded man were in a bad way. The mud clung closer than a brother to our boots and clothing. I must say here that Petty Officer Sims of E 7 and Sergeant Babister of Berkshire Yeomanry gave valuable assistance to the individuals in helping them along and generally cheering them up, both on this trip and the previous one. The public fountain water was frozen hard, and we had to eat snow. There was no timber and no fires. When we finished the 20 miles and arrived at our destination it was quite dark with a howling bitterly cold wind and we were very hungry, cold and set to the skin. Some of us found a shelter from the boisterous weather in cow sheds and stables which would have made the most casual European Sanitary inspector vomit
to disgust. However we scraped away as much of the manure and
slimy mud as we could and soon slept from utter weariness in spite of all. There wasnít sufficient room for all of us in this first stopping place. I was amongst a number who were ordered to march another two miles further on to a small village- Tunai. The miseries of that awful night will never be forgotten. Forty (40) of us started off, dead tired, wet and nearly frozen. We were too ill to hurry to try and get warm. Moreover it was pitch dark and we were constantly falling into pools of water and mud. We were forced to "go slow". When we reached the village some were allowed to sleep in a shed. A few myself included, were taken to a small Turkish Mosque and in spite of the grain which covered the floor we immediately fell in to a sleep of exhaustion, too weary to take off our wet clothes and just able to appreciate
[See page 44 insertion on page 43]
the fact that the rain and wind had ceased to sting our faces for we had a covering to rest under.
Next morning at daybreak after receiving our 1 coarse loaf, we set off again. Stiff, cold and disheartened we plugged along for another 20 miles as best we could, the stronger helping the weaker. The travelling was a degree better, not quite so much mud but more snow which made it cleaner travelling and the rain kept off. Camped that night at a large village, Kaledjik. When we camped for the night we had one
way of consolation only to cheer us, namely, we had finished another 20 miles.
When we were about to start next morning it was discovered that the Turkish Officers horses were too knocked up through the bad roads and severe conditions of travelling that they couldnít proceed so out of consideration for the horses the prisoners were allowed a dayís rest. It was still well below freezing point all day, and we tried to keep each other as warm and dry as possible and went to bed early. Next day the "going" was much better, everything being frozen hard, except the pangs of hunger, and after another dayís journey we reached our destination "Angora" at 4 a.m. on 21st, journey finished, but destination and future unknown.
Description of Angora. This is a very poor town in every way The Civilians living in hovels, with narrow cobble streets. The only building worthy of the name are the Government Buildings. The town has a population of between 30 and 40,000 and is a big military centre.
After arriving some of us were divided into three sections and put into different buildings. The living space was very cramped and inadequate. From 15 to 20 men some sick, being herded into a room 9 x 9. The ventilation was one small window door kept locked and in this space; we had to eat and sleep for nearly a week. The only liberty we had was one hour per 24 for those well enough to take it.
Through our repeated complaints for more humane treatment, towards the end of the week when things were almost insufferable and we were goaded to desperation, two Turkish Officers visited us. One was a Doctor (we didnít offer them hospitality because they didnít seem inclined to stay and share it) and the result of their inspection was to reduce the number of lodgers to about one Ĺ viz. 8 men to each room. Iíve often been in cramped spaces (in submarines) where you could cut the air with a knife, but never did I experience the nausea I suffered in that putrid hole but what must the poor sick and weak have endured. Evidently the
This is to follow Description of Angora & treatment of prisoners there. to follow word Armenian ahead of page 31 "endured"
How different was this treatment from the official & customary British treatment of Turkish prisoners say in Shwedo in Burma. There every 100 Turks took "in toto" the quarter rations etc. of 100 British Soldiers who walked out to let the prisoners walk in.
Captain H T Parry in his memoirs of the British Camp for Turkish Prisoners at Shwedo in Burma mentions the "menu" provided by the British for prisoners.
Officers Beef, mutton, ox tongue, ox brains, chicken
Beans, potatoes, brinjals [eggplant], spinach tomatoes onions, cabbage
Bread butter, cream milk (last 3 provided by regt. diary)
Also plenty of fruits oranges bananas mangoes.
Rank & File Bread 1lb Tea 1/8 oz. Coffee ľ oz Cinnamon Pepper. Mustard, Cumin seed 1/30 oz Atta. Rice 5 oz Fresh Beef 6 oz. Salt ĺ oz. Firewood 3 lb. Ghee 1 oz. Dhal 3 oz. Sugar 1 oz. Onions 2 oz Vegt. 3 oz. Cigarettes 40 per wk, matches 2 boxes Soap1 lb per man.
Officers Quarters Room 20 x 18 ft 2 officers a Table, 2 chairs, locker, wash stand, clothes rack, meat safe forms, mattresses, pillows, lamps, cook house wash house bath,
Rank & File quartered in British Barracks under exactly same conditions. 100 men in same space as 100 British
Turkish Medical Officer Fine Bungalow Ĺ mile outside Camp Fine Verandah & Bath Room
Clothing Rank & File 2 Blankets, suttringees, [indecipherable] on Boots, Jackets, trousers, 2 white collar shirts, one bath towel 2 small towels, 2 flannel vests 2 handkerchiefs, one fez. When needed all these replaced or repaired free.
Military weekly Band Concerts by Turks, "Coffee Stalls in Camp"
Officers sketched, painted, learnt English French, played games.
General Report by Swiss Red + Delegates highly "favourable!
The Turkish guards were disappointed that some of us didnít die and thereby allow them a few pickings from our belongings. At any rate their threatenings were many and comprehensive as to our future, after the German Company had finished with us. They often reviled us and gloated at the thought of the Christian dogs becoming slaves to the Faithful i.e. themselves. Iím sure they would have liked us to suffer as they made the Armenians but were afraid to put it to the test for we werenít Armenians.
X add written a/c of difference of Treatment here found on page 31A [see previous page 46]
On 27th 180 of us prisoners left Angora at 7 p.m. We travelled in 3rd class dog boxes full of vermin. Even though we were 3 days and nights in these carriages packed like sardines with no room to lie down and sleep yet we had plenty of fresh air and it was much better than our last experience walking to Angora. They gave us a meal of Ĺ cooked bad wheat at a town called Eski-
che-hia shehir, which means old city, but very little of this was eaten. It was too bad even for hungry prisoners and most of us were feeling pretty sick and depressed at this journey.
After 3 days we came to one of the oldest Turkish towns in Asia Minor called "Konia."
Pop. 55,000 a function of the Anatolian & Bagdad Rlys. There we were offered another Karra-wanna. This word means meal or dish in Turkey, of boiled wheat. We were allowed on to the station to eat is and were told off 10 men to a dish.
We arrived at the village or town of Belemedik (see photo) on 1st day of February. This was our first introduction to the renowned Bagdad Railway which proved to be our destination. Here I had better give a brief note on the importance of the Bagdad Railway to the enemy, especially of the narrow gage part with which I was more immediately concerned. It had a broad gage down to the town of Gelebek (Gulek Basar?) on the Bagdad side of the Taurus Mts. Then began 12 miles of narrow gage over and through the mountains and it passed the 12 tunnels
and these until it reached Belemedik on the south side of the Mountains. All the munitions, produce etc. had to be unloaded and reloaded at these 2 stopping places changing from the broad to narrow gage lines.
The A German Civil Engineering Company had been working on the Taurus Mt., part of the River 5 years previous to the outbreak of war, when the work here ceased. However early in 1916 when the enemy saw the extent of fighting on the Palestine Suez Canal and Mesopatamia fronts, this section became of vital importance for the conveyance of war munitions expeditiously. The only other route was by means of a motor transport on the rough mt. Roads from Bozardi Bazardjik to tarsus a town of Biblical fame. This was the only Pass through Taurus Mts. and it was upalong this tedious track that the Old crusaders journeyed of old. The Germans immediately increased the number of prisoners workers to 30, 000 made up of chiefly prisoners Greek, Armenians, Turks, unfit for military duty. The
Work was pushed through so quickly than in the 12 months between February 1916-17 more progress had been made than in the previous 5 years. Early in 1917 the average traffic was 8 trains per day carrying munitions to the different fighting fronts. This 12 miles of narrow gage in the mts. has been changed to the broad gauge about six weeks before the Armistice was signed.
Gerneally speaking for the 1st six months Feb.-July of this work say up to time of my first attempted escape Augt. 1916 the German Company treated the prisoners fairly well, because food was cheap and the supply adequate. But when the number of prisoners increased, food became scarce and the sick became more numerous. Then conditions altered, and we suffered accordingly, being animals of burden only. The works on the narrow gage were very self-contained and complete cement works; a power station with four machines; large air drills etc. When Bulgaria came in against us vast quantities of material were easily obtained from Germany through Bulgaria.
As the different batches of Prisoners came to Belededik they were given jobs according to their previous occupation as far as possible, wood-getting, loading the wagons, navvying, wheeling heavy loads of stone, tunnelling etc. The work was very hard; the hours long. 10 per day: pay 1/4 to 2/-, huts only were supplied. Food had to be purchased out of the pay received.
When things got going properly the prisoners were
shifted divided into 3 shifts so that the work never stopped. Their chief duties being making the light gauge, handling munitions etc., during the day time and during the night making preparations to alter the Railway to the broad gage. Many prisoners especially the weak and wounded preferred the night shift in the tunnels because there were no fleas and they escaped the intense heat
[Side note says: leave this in.]
During my first stay here some British prisoners refused to work in the tunnels. They were sent to Bazanti (Bazardjik?) 5 miles away to "hard labour" on the military road there. It was a punishment camp where the work was extremely hard and hours alarming. They had very little sleep and were forced to live with Turks who made life so wretched that quite a number died. One of my ship-mates "Williams" a stoker on AE 2 succumbed to this
I omitted to mention that at Belemadjik the Commandant was a Turkish Naval officer transferred from Apion Kauisshira. He had received his naval training under British Admirals and we no doubt profit
ted by this, for he treated us much better than many others. whilst we were hewers of wood and drawers of water in a foreign land.
Note at top of page: Donít take notice of these numbers.
Account Of Attempted 1st Escape On 12th Aug.1916.
away 3 weeks.
On the 4th May 1916 a party of us were sent to work at a place called Hadjikiri about 12 miles from Belemedek.
[Note: see photos of Hadjikiri foot of page]
This place was at the mouth of the last tunnel through the Taurus Mountains. The conditions here were extremely bad both food and accommodation. After working on Sundry odd jobs for a month my friend and I were put with a gang unloading waggons of stone which came from the tunnel. After we had been on this job for some time we found out by conversation with Turks and Greeks that we were only about 45 miles from the coast. My friend Nichols [see photo in AE 2 Group] suggested that we might try and escape if we could gain a little information about the Country. So on every occasion we could get in conversation with a Turk or Greek we tried for the necessary information without throwing any suspicion on ourselves. Shortly after this we were shifted into another job forming a road. There was an English speaking Greek put with us as interpreter. My friend and I made it our business to become very friendly with this Greek, which we succeeded in doing. At last we told him we intended trying an escape and would he give us a map of the country and all the information he could. He did not like doing this for he said if he was found out he would be hung without trial. However when we assured him that we could be trusted he gave us the necessary information and a good map of that part of the country, amrking all water and military camps and his fathers farm outside Mersina where he said we could hide and get food if unable to get away immediately. After this we got as much food together as possible principally biscuits which our friends gave us from their parcels, oxo cubes et.c
Then we set to to steal the necessary tools which we thought we would need. After a week we managed to get a small saw an axe, nails rope, and string and several other odds and ends. By this time we had about 5 lbs of biscuits and 10 lbs of bread, so we thought that this would last us about 2 weeks with economy. It was just about full moon so we decided to wait till two nights after full moon so that it would be dark when leaving the camp. The hut we were living in was on the side of a hill surrounded by low bushes. There was a Turkish sentry posted on each side, so we decided for two or three of our friends to keep the sentry engaged in conversation while we got clear of the camp. We decided to make a move on the night of the 12th August, 1916. The day before we bought a chicken so we made a good stew and a few hours before we were ready to leave my friend received a parcel with a fine cake (in good condition) and several other little odds and ends. So we made an excellent meal of stewed chicken and afterwards finished off the 2 lb cake. We thought it might be our last good meal for a long time. After we finished our meal we went and said good bye to our friends who were in the know. They wishes us all sorts of good luck and then we got our packs on and while the old sentry was kept occupied we moved off at 8 p.m. We got away clear and had to go very cautiously as we
to cross a road just behind the camp. However we got over without being seen and after climbing a steep rocky hill we sat down and had a good rest, wet through with perspiration After half an hours rest we moved off again and after going a mile I discovered that I had left an acyteline lamp behind where we had rested. We had this lamp made so that we would be able to signal from the coast it was useless going back to look for it as the country was so rough so after much swearing we moved off again. The country here was very rough so we had to keep resting about. midnight we came to a deep gully. We were climbing down to cross my friend was leading the way, about three yards ahead of me, when I set a large stone rolling down on top of him. I struck him on the foot and of course the result
much more bad language. However we managed to climb down without further mishaps but we had the worst to come for when we started to climb we had practically a sheer precipice in front of us. However after hanging on by our toes and finger tips we managed to reach t the top without mishap: then we had half an hours rest. Then we moved off and had another hours travelling. We were feeling so absolutely done up, that we lay down to sleep with the jackals howling all around us, but this did not keep us awake. This It was 3 a.m. When we woke in the morning we found ourselves on a high mountain. There was a small village not far away and in the distance we could see a hill with an old Arab castle on the top. After having a good look round we got in the shade of some rocks and lay down to sleep the day away. About sunset we got under way again and made our way to the other side of the mountain which we were on this overlooked a flat piece of ground but there were shepherds there with a herd of cattle. They had started to light fires so we could not get down that way so we made our way further round and commenced to climb down. Here we soon got into difficulties for it was terribly steep and we did not have a drop of water. When we got half way down we came to a small tree growing up the side so we decided to climb down this. All went well till my friend slipped and fell about fifteen feet. I got down as qickly as possible expecting to find some bones broken but he was none the worse excepting that he had broken his pack open and lost a loaf of bread and some tobacco. There was a snake hissing at us so we decided to get away without delay, minus the bread.
After many difficulties we got to the bottom to find ourselves in the rocky bed of a creek so of course the first thing we looked for was water. We followed the dry water course for some distance when to our great delight we came to an old well. on examination we found there was just a little water in the bottom. Before we had time to get any water we heard somebody coming in the distance singing. The
Turks do not travel very often at night but when they do they always sing as it is supposed to keep away evil spirits). So we decided to hide in the bushes until this person passed. We did not have long to wait for a Turk rode by on a horse. When he had got well clear we came out to the well and lowered our water bottles down on a string. The water was quite good and we had a good fill up. We had been without water since the morning and it was terribly hot. After half an hours rest we moved off again. The travelling was terribly difficult. When we got to the top of the next hill about 2 a.m. we felt so absolutely done up, we lay down to sleep. When day broke we found ourselves on the top of a hill very much like the one of the previous day and we could still see the old castle so we could see that we had really made very little progress in a direct line. We spent the day in the shade sleeping as best we could. About sunset we moved off again. It is not such bad travelling as the previous night Before we got to the bottom of the hill we passed very close to an old Turk Farmer. He did not take the slightest notice of us. After about two miles travel we came to an old well a welcome sight on examination we could see just a little water in the bottom. We lowered our water bottle down. On examining the water it was found to be very dirty and full of white maggots, so we decided to fill our bottles up and keep it in case we should not find any more. After we left the well we came on to a track. We decided to follow this track and chance meeting anybody. After we had travelled a mile or two the track turned off our course so we had to leave it. After this we had some very rough travelling through thick prickly bush. After midnight we came onto a clear patch of ground just up from a valley. Just as we got out of the bush two dogs rushed at us making a great noise and about 100 yards away we could see a black tent. We knew this to be a shepherds tent so we got back into the bushes as soon as poissible. We lay there very quiet for about half an hour. During this time we heard cattle making a noise down in the valley just below us so we knew there must be water somewhere near. After picking our way very cautiously we got down into the valley and there we found a small spring. We immediately threw away the bad water we got from the well. After half an hourís rest we moved off again, following a narrow track. Shortly after this we came out on to more open country. At one place we came onto a small patch of clear ground. Two jackals jumped up just in front of us and ran away and just on our right we were alarmed to hear a fierve growling. On looking in the direction we could make out a large black object about 50 yards away and close to the bushes making its way slowly along in one opposite
tion direction to which we were going (it was about a half moon but very cloudy) we were carrying a large stick each so we kept our eyes on this animal till we got well clear and then made off as fast as we could. Judging by its size we said
it was a lion, but we knew that it was not likely for a lion to be in that part of the country so we did not know what to think about it. (Two years afterwards while I was working at Gelebek not many miles from that place one of the German engineers shot a large wolf so we came to the conclusion that it must have been a wolf which we came across on that night. About 3 a.m. we got off the mountains into some fairly clear country we could see a fairly high hill in the distance so we decided to make for this and spend the following in the top of this hill about 4 a.m. we started to climb reaching the top about 4.30. We were surprised to find remains of a building here so we approached very carefully. On examination it was found to be the ruins of an old Arab castle bushes having grown up amongst the stone ruins. We found it quite a good hiding place. When day broke we were surprised to see several small villages round this hill, so we lay down and slept on till well on in the afternoon. Then we began to think about getting water. In the distance we could make out cattle and horses going to a certain spot remaining a while, and then going away. We came to the conclusion that there must be water there so we marked the position. At dusk we made our way off the hill in the direction we expected to find the water. After half an hours walk we came to well. There was a house about three hundred yards away, a dog barking we decided to run the risk and get water from the well. It turned out to be good water and nobody had seen us. Shortly after this we were crossing a field and came on a patch of water melons. They were not quite ripe but that did not matter. We sat down and ate one a piece and carried a couple with us. We soon got into rough country again. About midnight we came to a sheer precipice. We could not see any means of climbing down as it was a sheer cliff about 300 feet. We sat down and listened, away down below we could hear the faint sound of running water. We soon came on the conclusion that this must be the Tarsus river which we had to cross so we decided to follow the course of the river down until we came to a place where we could climb down to cross. So we set off it was not long before we came to a clear piece of ground so we made our way towards this. We intended asking for water as we had run out. When we got close to the building we called out "su" in Turkish for water but got no reply, so we called out again. This time an old man stood up on the roof. He had been sleeping there as it was very warm weather, so we called out again but he would not answer us, so we thought he may take us for robbers and give us a bullet, so we decided to get away while we were safe. We got up in amongst the bushes and rocks and after travelling a little way we decided to lay down and sleep till daylight. At daylight we got under way again. We had not gone far before we sighted a small village right ahead of us so we made our way towards the river. Again our luck was in for there was a water-way leading down to the river. On examination we found that by careful manouvering we would be able to get down.
The first part of the climb was the most dangerous so we lowered our gear down on a rope and then we got down ourselves. After the first hundred feet it was not so bad There were two wild goats which scampered away at our approach. They must have wondered what we were for I am sure no man had ever approached the Tarsus River that difficult and dangerous way before. However we got down to the waters edge without serious mishap. We found it to be a very fast flowing stream about 30 yards wide and looked to be about 4[to?] 6 deep. We were doubtful whether we could cross it as it was flowing so swift. Directly opposite where we were the rocks inclined slightly from the bed of the creek to the top we reckoned on being able to climb up. Directly above and below this crossing place the stream ran between sheer walls of rock 2 to 300 feet high. If we missed our footing crossing, we would be washed down with little chance of ever getting out. However we decided to spend the day here and cross in the evening. We were well concealed so we lit a small fire, boiled a little water and made oxo. This was indeed grand after having nothing but biscuits for the last 3 days and little of that. After we finished our meal we went in for a bath to freshen ourselves up, for we had not had a wash since we left. Afterwards we lay down in the shade and had a good sleep. About 4 p.m. we prepared to cross one of us just managed to pick our way across. Then we threw a rope over and hauled our gear across without getting it wet. Then the other one got over. Had it been another 3 inches deeper we should not have been able to cross. It would have been impossible to swim as the current would have swept us too far down so it was a great relief to find ourselves on the other side. Just before dusk we started on our perilous climb
in up the opposite side which we managed without accident. We started off on our course & after travelling about two miles over rough country we came to another precipice with the river flowing far below. This was very disheartening. We came to the conclusion that this must be the same stream that we had crossed but turned back in a bend through the mountains, so we turned off to the right to avoid it. Here the travelling became very difficult, thick prickly bushes, and huge rocks. To make things worse we came on to a village and all the dogs in the place started barking so we had to pick our way carefully round this village. After we had gone another mile still terribly rough we were just about deciding to lay down and sleep till daylight when we came on to a narrow track running in the direction we wanted to go so we decided to follow this. We had gone about 5 miles when we came on to a small stream. There was an old broken down stone bridge so we crossed over and before leaving refilled our water bottles. Just as we started off we could hear a Turk coming in the distance, singing, as they always do at night, so we had to hide till he passed. After we had gone another two miles we came out to fairly clear country and
and in the distance we could see a number of tents. We knew this to be one of the Arab camps which our Greek friend had warned us of, so we gave this a good-bye. When we had gone a little further we came to a dry bed of a small creek with thick bushes growing up all along. We decided to go in hiding here till the following evening. It was about 3 a.m. and we were dead tired. It was not long before we were fast asleep. In the evening just before sunset, the water question began to trouble us again, so we started to follow the bed of this creek along in the chance of finding water. When we had gone a few hundred yards two Arab soldiers passed us not 50 yards away. We immediately fell down behind a bush and they passed on without seeing us so we decided to go no further till dark. When we did move off again it was not long before we struck good water and then we knew we were right for the night. This night the travelling was good and we did not meet anybody so we made excellent progress Towards morning we made our way towards a small hill which was our custom as we could take a bearing during the day of the surrounding country. When we got to the top of this hill there was very little cover. Just a few small stunted pine trees, we could not go to the next hill as it would be daylight before we got there so we had to stop where we were and chance it. We cut come of the branches off the pine trees to afford a shelter from the sun. Then we waited for day to break. When it did we were delighted to see the sea in the distance and the town of Mersina. Our Greek friend had directed us to go to a small creek about seven miles to the west of Mersine very near to the ruins of an old Greek City. So we judged that we had about 25 miles to do. That night after dusk we moved off again to find the travelling good and plenty of water. Towards morning as usual we made towards a hill. This hill proved to be much the same as the one we were on the previous day, the cover being bad so we made a shelter of pine tree branches as before. When day broke we found ourselves about nine miles in from Messine with a small village either side of us. We slept that day about 4 in the afternoon we heard voices approaching and soon we could see some Turkish children. They appeared to be gathering wood. However we lay low and did not whisper. They passed within five yards of us and did not see us. If they did they did not show any signs of having seen us. That night we moved off again. It was not long before we crossed a small stream of good water. The travelling was fairly good but a lot of villages about whenever we came near these villages all the dogs commenced barking. This was rather an advantage as it was a good warning. Towards morning we crossed another creek. We knew we could not reach the coast that night, so we went in hiding in a large clump of bushes. When day broke we found we were dangerously near a village and about five miles from the sea. However all went well during the day. That night we reached the beach about 11 p.m. (after crossing the main road from Mersini to
Selifkeh which runs very close to the beach) After a good rest on the sand enjoying the cool sea breeze we decided to find this creek near the old ruins which our Greek friend had recommended us to find, as there was good hiding. So we started to walk along just in from the beach so that we would leave no marks. We had to go very cautiously as we had been warned that the beach was patrolled by Turkish soldiers so often. However about nidnight we came on the old ruins a few stone pillars standing about 30 feet high the remainder being just a mass of broken stone. We then knew we could not be far off the creek where we intended making our headquarters. About 1 p.m. we came to the creek. About 300 yards from the beach there was plenty of underground for hiding and half a dozen saplings which we thought would come in to make a raft, it being our intention, if unable to sight a ship to make a raft, put to sea at night in the hopes of being picked up. We were only 60 [120 m.] from the island of Cyprus and we heard that our patrol ships frequently came in close to that part of the coast. However we were not satisfied to stop where we were. We wanted to see if there was anything better on the other side of the creek. We were making our way out towards the beach when two armed sentries passed just in front of us. We fell down behind a bush, and were not seen. We kept our eyes on these sentries and saw them cross over the entrance of this creek on what appeared to be a bridge, but next day we could see that the entrance of this creek was blocked across with stones. The water from the creek filtered through these stones into the sea, so farming a path across.
After seeing these two sentries we decided to go back to where we first struck the creek. We soon found a good hiding place right on the edge of the creek. From here we looked out through the reeds down the creek and out to sea. When daylight came we were looking out when we saw two Turkish Soldiers. One was having a bath and the other was praying (the Mahommedens are very strict on their prayers night and morning) Their rifles were lying on the ground. We knew then that this part of the beach must be strictly guarded. We spent the day resting. About 8 p.m. we started to cut the small trees down to make a raft. After about an hours hard work with a saw about 1 foot long, we managed to cut one of the trees through and lower it down without making much noise. The second one was larger and took about two hours. As we were carefully lowering it down it took charge of us and fell into the water making a great splash. We remained very quiet for some time. Nobody seemed to be about, so we hauled it under cover. We thought we had done a fair nights work so lay down to sleep. In the morning we cut the branches off the two trees it being our intention to make bundles of the branches to tie under the raft to make it more buoyant. That night we cut down three small trees in the same manner as the night before. The following day we cut the branches off
and made them into bundles and slept that night. The next day we completed the raft all ready for launching, that night. In the afternoon we christened the raft naming it "Success". We read the service from a prayer book which we carried in a very solemn earnest way, sprinkling water on as we named it. I am afraid had we had anything better than water it should not have been wasted on the christening.
About 8.30 p.m. we launched the raft on to the creek It was very heavy and we had great difficulty in getting it down into the water, However we got it out into about three feet of water. It certainly looked a success. One of us got on it and stood the strain but when the two of us got on it barely floated. Certainly not good enough to put to sea in. It was a huge disappointment. After a short consultation we decided to pull the raft back to the same place so that it would not be discovered, the following day, and a search made. We did this and then moved about three miles further along the beach. There was a well close by and we found an excellent hiding place right on the beach where we could see ships by day and if they came in close enough we could make a signal without being seen by anybody on shore. We decided to stop there. The following day we could see a large village about two miles away. We were just about run out of food so my mate suggested that he should go over to this village and try and buy some bread and chance being caught, for we would have to give ourselves up in a couple of days in any case from want of food. About 9 a.m. he set off in the direction of this village. He had not gone far before he met an old man and woman riding on donkeys, and he asked them if they had anything to sell. They said they had not but directed him to the village just outside there were two old men pruning grape vines. He asked them where he could buy certain articles. They told him to ask for a certain name, this man being the head man or Mahommedin priest of the village and that he would attend his wants. My mate went on to the village and seeing a small boy asked for this certain man. The boy knew who he wanted and directed him. It turned out that this was his son. However when they met the old man wanted to know who he was. My mate said he was a German telegraph Mechanic working on the line between Mersina and Selefka. The old man clapped him on the back and said how pleased he was to meet one of his German brothers. Then he asked what he could do for him. My mate replied that he wanted bread and eggs as we had run out of provisions and would not be able to go into headquarters to get more till this job was finished. The old man replied that it was very difficult to get anything there as there was such a shortage of bread. He said he would see what he could do. After bringing my mate a cool glass of water from the well and a plate of fresh figs the old man went out into the village to see what he could get. Shortly after he returned
with half a dozen jappaties (chupatties) and ten eggs and said he was sorry but that was all he could get. My mate thanked him and then they got into conversation. My mate asked him if English ships ever came around her. The old man replied that they had been there just eight days ago and how bad the English were. My mate agreed with him, said goodbye to him and came back to me, When he told me his experiences we had a good laugh and then settled down to eat some raw eggs and bread, thinking that we had at least deceived one Turk.
After this we ate 2 raw eggs each and a little of the bread and three of four figs each, after which we slept as much as possible till the evening when we were going to make a move. At sunset we shifted out on to the terrace of the beach and found a splendid hiding place in a clump of bushes where we could obtain a good view of the sea. After a short consultation we decided that we would stop here till our food ran out in the hope that a ship would come in sight and we would have a chance of signalling her as we had been told that patrolling ships came in very close on this part of the coast. We hung on for two days and not a sign of smoke or even said. Just after dark on the second day here, we decided to go in for a swim as it might freshen us up a bit, after which we would continue our walk round the coast in the hope of finding a small fishing boat and being able to buy a little food from the villages without being detected. But after our swim we felt so dead tired and downhearted that we decided to go out on to the main road and walk back and give ourselves up if we were not caught before we got back. We knew that if we could get back to the Camp we would be punished lighter than if we were caught away. In the morning we got out on to the road and walked along as if we were natives. We walked for about two miles passing several people who took practically no notice of us, except passing the time of day. We sat down in the shade of a tree close to the road. It was a very hot day and we were not over strong so had to keep resting. We had not been sat down very long when we noticed an old gendarme (police) officer coming down towards us. We immediately thought that all was up but deceided to carry on the game of bluff till the last. He came over to us and after bidding us the time of day sat down. The first thing he did was to offer us his cigarette box to make a cigarette which is always the custom in Turkey like in Australia. The usual thing is to have a drink. Of course this was a great luxury to us not having had a smoke for about ten days. After this he wanted to know who we were. We replied that we were German Telegraph mechanics repairing this line. Then he wanted to know where our passports were. We replied that we had none with us but we had left them at the German Headquarters at Bozanti. After this he was silent for some time. Then he wanted to know if we knew how many Russians and English prisoners there were at work on the Railway. We told him we knew there were prisoners of war there but we did
not know how many. After this he said nothing. No doubt he was on the look out for us, but due to his ignorance of German he was not certain. We said good-bye to him and moved off along the road, but he followed us keeping about 100 yards behind. After going another mile or two we sat down again, and he came and spoke to us again, asking questions about prisoners of war but we always had an answer for him. We were almost sure that he knew who we were and were almost on the point of throwing ourselves on his mercy. We moved off again and after going a few hundred yards we saw that he was not following us so we quickened our pace. Here another strange thing happened. We met the old man who Nichols had bought the food off in the village only three days before. He was with a gendarme (police) with slung rifle. At first we thought that he had afterwards had suspicions on us and had been into Mersini to bring the police out to look for us but they passed us. The old man just nodded and smiled, and we breathed freely once more. We were getting very close to Mersina and there was a lot of traffic on the road so we decided to leave it. All round the outskirts of Mersina there are vegetable and fruit garden of about 2 acres each.
Note from side: Mersina very important town large port pop. 20,000 about Ĺ Greek.
They are not fenced off but just separated by narrow lanes and surrounded by poplar trees which look very nice. All these gardens are irrigated from a small river or rather a creek, which flows through Mersine. They are mostly owned by Christian Arabs. (Greeks?) After leaving the road we made our way towards these gardens as we thought we would be able to buy some food and by going through them we would miss going through the town of Mersine. The first people we met were three Arab women. Two of them were washing clothes, the third was cooking Arab bread. I think it is just flour and water flattened out till it is about 2 ft. square and not much thicker than a sheet of brown paper. We immediately asked them to sell us some, but they said they had none to spare so we asked for some fruit. We could see the grapes growing and knew they were ripe. One of the women called a boy out who climbed up one of the trees with a basket and got us about 3 lbs. of grapes. There the grape vines grow up the trees and I donít think I have ever seen such large bunches of grapes any where else. Just as were walking away one of the old women ran after us with one of these sheets of bread I will call them. We offered to pay but she would not take the money. We thanked her very much and went on our way. We went into another house and there we found a woman and two or three children. We asked for bread but without luck. We asked her to sell us some figs. She sent a little girl out with a basket with us to pick them. When we thought we had about 1 oke (2 1/5 lbs) we came back to the house for the woman to weigh them. The weight was just under the oke so she made us take an onion to make up the weight, although we said it was near enough (this 2 1/5 lbs of beautiful fresh figs only cost us 2 piastres (4d)). Just as we were about to leave a man arrived; evidently this womanís husband. He looked very suspiciously at us but said nothing.
Shortly after this as we were walking down one of the lanes separating the garden, we
thought we saw a Gendarme, so we thought it best to give him a miss if possible, so we started off across one of the gardens. We had not gone far when we heard somebody shouting after us to stop. A man come running after us and wanted to know what we were doing. We told him we were Germans and wanted to get out on to the main road for B Bozanti. This did not seem to satisfy him but he said we would have to follow him. We protested on the ground that we were Germans, but the bluff didnít come off here. He commenced calling out something in the direction we had seen the gendarme so we thought it would be best to go with him, which we did. He took us before a big fat Arab, sat on a mat smoking one of their favourite pipes. Judging by his appearance he was somebody of importance probably the landlord of several of the gardens. He eyed us off very suspiciously and then enquired tho we were. We told him the usual tale, he said if we were Germans we should be on the road leading into Messini, which of course was correct, but we told him we had lost our way and were looking for the main road, leading to Bozanti (The German Headquarters). He said no more but sent for the Gendarme to escort us into the main road leading to Mersina which he did. We followed the road for a short distance and when we were out of sight turned off again through the gardens for we did not want to go into a big town like Mersina as there were a number of German soldiers there and we should not have been able to bluff them. We must have been watched for the Gendarme came running after us. We immediately stopped and when we came up to us he immediately accused us of being English, which we immediately denied. I think it was only the prompt way we replied that we were Germans that saved us, However he said no more but showed us on to the road again. We followed the road for some distance this time, and then just as we were on the outskirts of the town and it was drawing into dusk which was in our favour we turned off the road again and got well clear of the town without being questioned again. We were dead tired and hungry after our exciting day, so we selected a spot to spend the night. We ate most of the fruit we had bought, just leaving sufficient for the morning and then we lay down to sleep. We had not been there long when my mate was stung with something, probably a spider or a small scorpion. However it caused him a good deal of pain. We decided we would shift a few hundred yards further on which we did, and passed the night without further mishap. We were awake at daylight and found we were on a flat stretch of country with just a farm house here and there and a small range of hills to our left about 8 miles from the sea. We knew this was somewhere about where the Greek had marked his Fatherís farm on our map, but we had destroyed the map when we reached the coast so that in the event of us being caught they would not know who gave us the information.
After walking a mile or two we sighted a house which answered his description, but on going over to it we found it was occupied by Arab farmers. We spoke to them in Turkish but evidently they did not speak Turkish for they spoke to us in Arabic, which we scarcely knew a word of. We thought we had best get away while we were safe. After walking another 2 miles we came to a small village just half a dozen houses. My mate decided he would try his luck again at buying some eggs and bread. I remained just outside the village and waited till he returned. After half an hours wait he returned with four eggs and two
juchupatties. We immediately set to work on them for we were ravenously by hungry. We still kept the onion in reserve. We moved off again and had not gone far when just as we were crossing a small ridge we found ourselves right on top of a military camp. Our Greek friend had warned us of these camps. We could see the sentries posted out we thought if we turned and went back they would have suspicions on us and come after us, so we decided to go straight forward into the dry bed of a small creek which we could see just to the left of the camp. We passed within 150 yards of one of the sentries but they took no notice. When we got to the creek we took shelter in the shade of the bank. We were pretty well concealed so we talked the situation over. Just after our arrival an Arab soldier walked along the bank. We saw him plainly but I donít think he saw us. After remaining there for about 20 minutes we decided that the best thing we could do was to walk back almost the same way we had come and then turn off leaving the camp well on our left. We did this and met nobody. When we got well clear of the camp we sat down in the shade of a tree. We were not there long when we saw an Arab soldier driving about a dozen sheep coming towards us. He came over to us, sat down, and commenced a conversation in arabic. We did not understand a word but he still kept on talking for fully 10 minutes. When the sheep had strayed away for some distance he went away. After another hours walk without meeting anybody we sighted what we knew to be the town of Tarsus. (16 miles from Mersina) We could see the chimneys of the two cotten factories which we knew were there. It was about 3 p.m. we were going to have a hard try to reach Tarsus by dark and attempt to buy some food. Just before dark we came to a small orchard and we could see some fig trees and made our way over to them to see if there were any but just as we were nearing them two men in a cart called out to us. We went over to them. I could see by their appearance they were Greeks. They wanted to know what we wanted trespassing on their ground. I replied that I wanted to know where the road leading to Tarsus was just for a blind, and they directed us. No doubt if we had told them who we were they would have given us some food, but we were not quite certain as to their nationality. We arrived outside Tarsus about 8.30 p.m. We made our way to several houses but in each case we were met by savage barking dogs and in our weak state we
werenít game to face them although we were so hungry. So we went well clear of the town and selected a spot to spend the night after eating half the raw onion between us we lay down to sleep. the weary night away, footsore, ravenously hungry and dead tired. I donít think either of us will ever forget the night we spent just outside the old city of Tarsus when we shared half a raw onion, the remainder we kept for breakfast. At daylight we were awake and ate the remaining half onion. Very few people in Australia know what it is to be properly hungry. I know I did not until that occasion and I never
do want to again. We had not gone far when we sighted the Tarsus river, (The Seihun R.) a small rapid running stream. The next thing that troubled us was how to cross it. However we found a place where we thought we would be able to cross. It was the widest part and for this reason we thought it would be the shallowest We shipped off and waded into the stream. The water was bitterly cold. We were just able to wade over without being swept off our feet. A little higher up the river we could see soldiers with pack horses drawing water from the river so we knew there was a camp close. We passed well clear of them. We knew that we would soon have to cross the main Bozanti to Tarsus Road. There was a tremendous amount of traffic on this road as all the war munitions for the Mesopotamian and Palistine fronts had to pass along this road as the railway was not yet completed.
About 10.a.m. we came to the road and crossed it without any trouble. We knew now that we would not have far to go to the railway where we would meet some of our own people for we had heard news of Townsends surrender at Kut-el-amara and we heard later that his men were working on the Bagdad railway just below us. The Turks were very particular that none of us should meet for what reason we could not find out. It was a party of these men that we wanted to find for we knew that we would get food of some kind. We made off in the direction which we thought the railway was. We had not gone far when we came to a small creek and we noticed three men sat down. They were drying some clothing on the bushes. Immediately they saw us one of them came towards us. He asked us who we were. On this occasion I donít know why, we replied that we were Austrians. He said he was a Greek and his two friends were Austrians. Naturalised Turks having lived in Turkey all their lives. We thought that at last we had made a blunder, we decided to tell the Greeks who we were, which we did. He was greatly surprised and so were we when he commenced speaking to us in fairly good English. He said he would not tell the others who we were. He said they were great friends of his. They had been working on the railway for sometime together. They had just been on a visit to Tarsus. The first thing we did was to ask the Greek for some food. He said he had plenty just having left Tarsus that morning. He gave us a big piece of bread each and a good portion of cheese. I will
never forget how we enjoyed that meal although the bread was black and full of straw, it was absolutely delicious. The Greek said they were going tothe Railway and we could accompany them if we wished and they would show us where the English lived. We gladly accepted the invitation. After about 2 Ĺ hours walk along a very rough track we came to the first village on the railway. They were stopping there, but they said if we went another mile and a half on we would come to another village and there we would find some English working. We said goodbye to our friend the Greek and thanked him for his kindness in helping us along. We walked along by ourselves without meeting anybody and just before dusk we came to the village of Boudjak (Dorak?) and in the distance we saw a row of tents, and guessed them to be where our people were camped. On nearing them we saw a number of Indians but no English. We spoke to one man who turned out to be an English speaking Armenian in charge of a gang of Indians. We asked him where the English were camped and he pointed to a small hut on a hill about Ĺ a mile distant and told us that there were 6 English sergeants camped there, so we set off for the hut, arriving there just at dusk. The Sergeants would hardly believe that we were English in our disguise, red fezzes etc. However they made us very welcome. The first thing they did was give us a loaf of bread each and a plate of stew. (They were just having their tea we did not speak till we had eaten all this and then we told them what we had been doing. What a glorious meal that was. There were no sentries over these prisoners as the German Engineers trusted them not to attempt to escape, as they were just captured and being in a very weak state just after coming out of a siege and knowing nothing about the lay of the country. After we spent a couple of hours talking during which time they told us all about the terrible siege of Kut-el-amara (these were the first prisoners from that front that any of us had met). We lay down to sleep the frist time for 19 days with a full stomach and a contented mind. In the morning we turned out and went down to a creek and had a good bath, after which we felt much refreshed. We had a good breakfast and dinner and in the afternoon we decided that in the evening we would push on to our own camp about seven miles distant and give ourselves up. About 6 p.m. we said goodbye to our friends and started off. All went well till within half a mile from the camp when we had to pass a sentry on the road. We were challenged and did not evidently satisfy the sentry. He took us into the village where our camp was and took us before the Commandant . He was sitting on the verandah talking to the officer of police. He immediately recognised us and flew into such a temper that he could hardly speak. Both he and the Police Officer were cursing us which we had to stand without saying a word. Then he asked us where we had been. I replied that we had been with our friends a little further down the line. I said that he would not give us permission to go so we went without. He enquired how long had we been away.
I replied about five days, thinking that perhaps they had not found out we had been missing so long. The Commandant went into his office and returned with a paper. He then told us that we had been away for over 19 days. We knew then that they must have found out just after we left camp, so we thought it best to tell them everything which we did. They did nothing but curse us. Then the Commandant stepped up to me and was going to smack me in the face which is their usual custom but he did not. He then sent for two sentries and made them bind our arms behind our backs with rope, which they did with a will. We thought that we were in for a severe flogging. We were marched off the verandah before we had gone far we were called back and after the Commandant and police officer held a short consultation the ropes were taken off us and we were locked in a spare room next to the commandantís office. The room was infested with mice. There was a hole in the wall close to my head and I amused myself trying to catch the mice as they went in and out of this hole. Eventually I caught one by the tail just as his body disappeared. I could not pull her out but kept letting her go as far as I could in the hole and then pulling it out with a jerk. When I thought I had punished it sufficiently I let go. It does not take much to amuse one under such conditions.
In the morning we were brought out of the room. Two sentries were put in charge of us and instructed to march us to Belemedik, the headquarters about 10 miles distant. Of course we were given no food. We were rather glad of this as the Commandant there was a Lieutenant Commander from the Turkish Navy and we knew that he had kindly feeling towards the English having served under English Admirals. On arrival there we went before this Commandant. He said he could do nothing but wait instructions from Constantinople. In the meantime we would have to go into prison on half ration of bread and water. We were in prison for a week when the Commandant sent for us. He had just received a wire from Constantinople. They seemed particularly anxious to know which one of us had suggested making this escape, but we would give them no satisfaction. They also wanted to know who gave us the information and supplied with red fezzes etc., but we had an answer ready for each question. We did not throw any suspicion on the Greek. During the day Nichols had been ompaling of a terrible headache and showed signs of a bad attack of Malaria coming on. While we were being questioned he fell down in a faint but soon came round. The Commandant seemed very much upset and postponed the examination till he was well. During the afternoon a Turkish Colonel was visiting the Camp and in his round of inspection with the Commandant he came into the prison. My mate was lying down sick with Malaria. The Commandant had an interpreter with him. Of course the Colonel wanted to know who we were. I told him that we had been attempting an escape, as it was our duty as Britishers to escape from our enemies country
If possible. The Colonel said nothing but walked away (During our stay at Angora previous to this I had seen the international laws regarding Prisoners of War. In it it said that prisoners attempting an escape should be confined on the ration of a Turkish soldier). I called the interpreter back and told him that I would like to speak to the Colonel which he did. I told him about the regulations which I had seen and also that we were now on half ration of bread and water. After this he held a short conversation with the Commandant. Then he told the interpreter to tell us that we would be immediately released and not to attempt an escape again. We were to go and work for the German Company on the morrow. We were delighted to get out of it so easily, yet we were not sorry that we had attempted it for we had learnt a lot about the country and we decided that in a few months we would attempt it again, having a better knowledge of the country next time. And here ended a most exciting three weeks.
On what page do you continue the narrative? Is it 32A before Incident of Sept 1916 and a sick party [indecipherable].
About the middle of June 1916 an alarming outbreak of Malaria fever swept
the Belemedik. This outbreak was quite unexpected in view of the height above sea level and pure atmosphere. Nearly every person became sick and a great number died through the want of proper medical attention and poor food. It was at such a crisis that the Germans plus the Turks showed their true spirit for they increased the labours of those who could manage to work and only allowed them to make coffins for their dead mates and give them Christian burial in their spare time. Moreover when a prisoner became sick and couldnít work his pay immediately ceased and he had no money to buy food, therefore he starved He was not allowed to stop work without a Doctorís certificate and the German Doctor in charge of the prisoners was a callous inhumane blighter who only gave his sanction when the patient was nearly done. Not a few even when in dying cursed him. He was known as "The Swine".
It was during this outbreak that I lost three of my boatmates, Chief Stoker Varcoe, Petty Officer Gilbert and Able Seaman Knaggs.
Truly our condition was bad, but when we saw the heartbreaking deplorable plight of General Townsendís men marching as prisoners from Kutelamarah to Belemedik even the sick rose up to pity them. Many a poor wretch spoke with a shudder of that awful journey forced to travel when eaten with fever and dysentery. On the march they were driven to walk twenty miles per day. Very often at the end of dayís march they did not get anything but just a handful of flour or raw grain. What means did they have of cooking anything, suffering from the extremes of climate, scorching sun by day and bitter cold by night. When they reached us they were mere skeletons and looked eloquent examples of c combined Turkish and German "Kultur". Truly one touch of nature makes us all akin. We did what we could to relieve and cheer them with gifts of clothing, food and medicine. On the short
anamanus amanus section of the Bagdad Railway over 1000 answered the last Roll call.
[Side note: Anamanus? or "Taurus"
Dated NB Place for 1st escape Aug]
About September 1916 a sick party of 140 who couldnít work were sent from Belemedik to Angora, but soon after their arrival instead of being allowed to rest they were put to work again on a light Railway between Angora and Ezeroum. Typhus Fever broke out among these invalids. The worst cases were put into tents in spite of the bitter cold and wet. There was snow on the ground 2 and 3 feet deep. No wood for fires or cooking. In about six weeks 75 out of the 140 of these prisoners died or rather were killed because when they became delirious and a nuisance to the orderlies and guards they were murdered by an injection of some poison by means of a needle.
It was truly pathetic to see brave chaps, in this and other places, where typhus raged, hand over their keepsakes to pals when they felt themselves "going off a bit", before they were left to the tender mercies of their guards whom they knew had no
bonds bowels of compassion for helpless men. In no case did any prisoner hear of any Court of Enquiry or investigations being made by the medical authorities as to the fate of those who thus became separated from the protection of their fellow prisoners. They simply "passed out". In ordinary cases of typhus injections was customary but when the patient became delirious he naturally was quite helpless and didnít know what was being done to him.
The health and safety of the British- and in fact all prisoners- became more secure about the end of 1916, with the advent of a few British Doctors from general Townsendís force. They were stationed along the line where ever the English prisoners were and in spite of much opposition from the authorities, scarcity of material, medicines etc., they saved many lives and restored the courage and hope of the prisoners.
At Afion-Kara-hissar about 300 of General Townsends men were quartered in this area in an Armenian Church and School. Their officers had houses to live in. The owners of these houses had been taken away "somewhere", murdered, driven into the desert, and were numbered amongst the victims of the Armenian Atrocities, which have made the Turks infamously famous. These officers had to provide themselves with everything they needed except the houses to live in and it was a wonder they were not charged rent for these.
The men received two meals per diem of crushed wheat, mixed with olive oil, and one small loaf of bread.
The American ambassador gave the Officers all £12:0:0 per month and the men £2:0:0. This was very helpful but didnít go very far because the cost of living was as high as the Turks could make it, viz. butter £2:0:0 a lb., sugar 25/- eggs 6d each, scraggy meat 3/6 per lb. Tea couldnít be purchased, vegetables rather cheap except in Winter. However the allowance allowed the men to have one fair meal a day.
About this time some of the men were the thankful recipients of a few Red Cross parcels. This was the 1st occasion we had received any such articles
about since the end of 1916 (nearly 2 years). No doubt many other parcels were sent regularly but the "infidels" profited thereby. The Turkish Commandant was the chief offender and gainer. I believe, had it not
been for the good work of the American Ambassador, none would have reached us. The few they were forced to disgorge made us very suspicious as to the fate of others we didnít get. When we were allowed into the town to buy a few things we naturally kept our eyes opned and one of our chaps saw a packet of smokes sent from his Mother, up for sale in a shop. It was little use reporting the matter to the Turkish Commandant. It only initiated him and he "got one back on us" by enforcing the strictest discipline.
Conditions became very bad. Floggings for the most trivial offences were daily happenings and many men suffered even to unconscieuosness to satisfy his
his revenge for our complaints. He and other senior Turkish officers would send for the youngest prisoners to have secret and private interviews with him on the excuse of cross questioning them for some trivial cause and when alone and quite at his mercy his conduct and morality was so bestial and unnatural that at length a revolt throughout the camp seemed imminent. The evils of Sodom and Gomorrah found very apt pupils amongst these Turkish officers and especially the O.C. The English Officers tried to get complaints to the American Ambassador at Constantinople but for a long while this rotter was successful in defeating all such efforts. The climax was reached when he had suspicions, only; no actual proof that three of our officers were planning to escape. Lieut. Haggard of the AE 2 was one he suspected. He never questioned the officers themselves to give them a chance of proving his suspicions true or false but without trial he sentenced them to nine months close confinement in a building which was very strictly guarded and cut them off from all outside communication. During this harsh treatment they were allowed 1 hours exercise per 24 hours under guard, also their one English orderly. Finally news of his conduct did leak out and a Board of Enquiry consisting of only Turkish Officers took place and he was quietly removed from this area but whether he was punished or not we could not find out. The new Commandant was more humane and British in his treatment of us. I have since heard that he was hanged at Constantinople.
e On the 21st March 1917 the 1st batch of 100 prisoners- Russians, French, English, was dispatched to "haven of rest". This camp was 3 9 miles from Nigdeh which is the nearest big town and the military centre of that district. Bore is on the main military Road to Sivas (on the Russian Front). This Road was built by Germans for conveyance of munitions v. the Russians. Position on plain- 2000feet up. Population, 7,800 chiefly Greeks & Armenians Industry (see photo) - farming, and also a lot of wine made, fruit growing etc. The conditions here were very good whilst there for six months I was quartered in a Greek College quite free from vermin and we enjoyed the luxury of plenty of baths, and had good water from a creek near by for washing
our clothes. Greeks and Armenians were forced to do all the hard work. The Turkish Commandant who had been thrown from a horse on the Gallipoli peninsular was fair and just and did what he could to help us treating us as honourable men and worthy foes.
Mails and Red Cross parcels very frequent and another concession granted was to allow us to organise shopping parties every day to the Bazaar, also went for walks two days a week under guard. Money came regularly through the Dutch Ambassador. But I think, speaking personally at [blank space here] the chief factor in our quick recovery to health was due to a fellow prisoner, Captain Murphy: I.M.S. (Indian Medial Service) whose attention and care of us was unremitting Many hours of rest and recreation he willingly gave up. He was an ornament to a noble profession.
When I was nearly convalescent a new batch of English prisoners coming from a typhus infected area, brought this dread scourge into our clean rest camp. Within a few days of their arrival 15 of us were stricken down. When I went before Captain Murphy he was very sympathetic but when he saw the tell-tale black and red spots showing on my body he ordered me away with the first batch of typhus victims. We were sent to the nearest military Hospital at Nigdeh, 3 nine miles away,
[Side note: is it 9 or 39 see previous page]
under guard of two Turkish soldiers. We were placed on donkeys without saddles or bridles, which might have been to stop us trying to escape, and these donkeys often strayed from the road in search of fodder. This was the main military road which we speak of as running to the Russian front at Livas. [Sivas]
The two sentries, feeling aggrieved at the possibility of contact no doubt, gave the donkeys and riders a rough time. One soldier has just received news of his brotherís death on the Bagdad front and he was especially bitter towards us. He cursed and struck us in a most impartial and brutal fashion. Those of us, sick though we were, who knew a little Turkish language, cursed him back again and threatened to report him when we reached Nigdeh. Two Russian prisoners who were alright and not sick, walked and talked with the two guards and incited them in their hatred against the British. Upon arrival we were much too done up to report the Guards and let the matter lapse.
The method of the Armenian Doctor in charge was in striking contrast to Captain Murphy. We were immediately bathed in warm water. No towels provided and then forced us into rough hospital garments whilst we were wet and shivering. We were kept waiting about until we passed through the hands of a barber who gave us a very close shave and hair cut, and then we were put to bed. Blodd tests were taken and injections given every few hours. The hospital orderlies didnít
try any low down tricks here like they were guilty of at Angora by trying to poison the delirious and generally speaking the Turkish Authorities did their best for us. These injections were given by the hospital orderlies in a very dirty manner just pulling the needle from one manís arm into the next without sterilising. Their fingers usualy covered in blood. The method of feeding typhus patients was very strange. The chief diet in the early stages of the plague considted of about 1 quart of milk given once a day at 3 p.m. which was followed in about Ĺ hour with more milk thickened with Turkish concoction called "Yoat". If the patient didnít. If the patient didnít feel up to this double dosw of milk diet and finish it in about an hour, what was left over was taken away. This was all the food we got in the 24 hours and it usually proved far too much at one time. Other batches of typhus prisoners came in and a great number died having little or no stamina to fight it with. The plague became so dangerous to the Rest Camp at Bore, that the O.C. there did his best to stamp it out by fumigation and implicitely followed the directions of the English Doctors there.
After being in bed for three weeks
for & five days I was delirious, and before I had properly recovered I with others, was ordered back to Bor e. We were not even allowed a short period to convalesce but within 24 hours of leaving the sick bed, we were on the road. That nine miles walk seemed unending. We staggered along like drunken men through sheer weakness. This action certainly jeopardised our ultimate recovery but I often noticed how the Turks would do one good act and spoil the effect by some inhumane treatment immediately afterwards.
My next change of locality was Gelebek. About the end of September, 1917,
A working party of 25 prisoners was picked out and sent to work for the German Military Company at
Geblek Gelebek. Here we found 25 other prisoners, chiefly Indians and English from General Townsends army. The Commandant was a German Lieutenant who had previously been a Tea Planter in India. He spoke English very well and proved a good sort. Gablek Gelebek
[Side note: Is this Gebel
down off the Bagdad side of Tarsus Mts., and the end of the narrow gauge line. Here all munitions had to be unloaded and loaded. The climate very hot and full of malaria.
population: 1000 Always changing just sprung up as head of railway construction works.
All the prisoners were put to work in moving heavy stores to and from the trains. We were kept at high pressure all the time and had no time off or smoko. Evidently the stuff was badly needed at the front and we often thought of our chaps somewhere in Mesopatamia or Palestine as we handled the shells and ammunition meant for their destruction. Here the rations were very scanty and poor, the daily menu being
a small loaf of bread, no meat, not enough for a growing boy, much less men doing hard manual work (9 Ĺ hours a day). We turned to at six in the morning, had from 8.30 till 9 for breakfast, but we were issued with nothing, we may have a piece of dry bread left from previous night.
Side note: our rations here consisted of a hard sort of brown pea- not unlike Indian corn- boiled with Olive oil. Sometimes we got a little rice & lot of water For 3 months at midday & evening we had a larger kind of black horse bran full of small grubs & v. hard. These too were boiled with oil & water. NB The only meat we ever got was the lights, no liver, & they sometimes crawling which we wouldnít give to a dog in Aust. Many times we all longed for scraps we had thrown away before in the good old times.
When we found ourselves getting weak and run down we began to make complaints about the harsh treatment but it fell on deaf ears. Moreover the Germans wouldnít allow the Dutch Ambassador to give us money to buy food. They said if we had money from other sources we would not work for our food. This was foolish because of the high cost of living at Gelebek it cost £1:0:0 per day.
Many, many nights we went to our dug outs- no huts or tents were given- hungry and done up. Very soon 15 out of our 25 had to be carried to the hospital nearby, too ill and weak to slave any longer. Note:- There were no shopping parties here as we were working right in the village and could buy whenever we wanted, but money was the difficulty.
A large number of Russians were driven into Camp soon after and they immediately began to increase their own food allowance by stealing very considerably and successfully. They didnít waste time complaining but very soon the Germans did at the loss of their stuff. The pilfering soon reached such a pitch that the whole lot of us were shifted and Turkish soldiers put in our places.
Two of my pals were sent to the Electric Department My friend and I went to the
River Railway Repair Shops. This change gave us more liberty of action, so much so, did we appreciate the change that it made us wish for more and we decided to try and escape again.
In passing I might say that the 6 shops in Gelebek were kept so well stocked with all sorts of things, stolen by the Turks who took a our place that at last the Germans made a very successful raid on these shops one day and much loot was recovred. It would have been too much like the devil rebuking sin for the Germans to punish the Turks for this for the whole was seething with corruption. Any sick prisoner returning out of hospital, always spoke in the highest favour of the English Doctor there. Captain Clifford I.M.S. Though he was working under German restrictions and supervision he- being an expert in Malaria, forced the Authorities to give better treatment and more food to the patients. His was a fine example of bulldog tenacity and British pluck for he kept on fighting against the powers that were., until he either shamed or worried them into giving the sick a fighting chance. His unremitting care and constant self sacrifice was a noble rebuke to the callousness of the Germans and many a poor wretch rose up & called him "Blessed". The 2 german nurses working with him were so influenced by his splendid example that they soon favoured the English to the Turks on whose side they were supposed to be
This can be added to what I have already said about Gelebek. Nearly every morning a train load of Kurdish refugees came in, this was due to the Russian advance in that part of the country. These people came through in a terrible starving condition and it was a frequent sight to see dead dragged from the train. One morning in particular I can remember, myself and another Englishman were working with a German soldier putting a small steam crane together close to the station we were standing watching these people get off the train, a man jumped out of a truck dragging a dead child about 12 yrs of age out after him he did not carry the body but just had hold of the arm dragging it along the ground when he thought nobody was looking he threw the body in amongst a heap of iron rails, the German immediately ran after him catching him a blow on the back of the head and made him take the body away and bury it.
[This paragraph crossed out:
I think this Incident [indecipherable] be placed elsewhere & not 38 p.
Again and called him "Blessed". The two German nurses working with him were so influenced by his splendid example that they soon favoured the English to the Turks on whose side they were supposed to be.]
"The German Xmas Box"
I would relate at this stage an incident which happened to my friend Private Beatty, a Queensland Soldier of the
9th and 15th Batt. A.I.F. During Xmas of 1917, we two received two days leave of absence to visit our old companions and friends at Belemedik. A sentry went with us. After spending Xmas Day there we started for hom? save the word again. A heavy fall of stone in one of the tunnels delayed us a day over our time. We had no desire to climb the precipitous mountains (see photo) even if the sentry had allowed us to try. When we returned we reported at once to the German Sergeant Major in charge of the Repair Shops and gave our explanation. He refused to give us the usual one small loaf issued the night before as the only rations for the day following. We were tired and soon forgot our hunger in sleep. Before we went to work again we asked for food but were refused and cursed for our impudence. During the day we made an opportunity and interviewed the Commandant. He was quite satisfied that our story was right and phoned a message to the Sergeant Major to give us bread. We hurried back thinking we had reached the end of our starvation diet at last and on the way, exchanging hopes that we might even get the other little loaf for yesterday. However the big German bully. He stood 6 feet 4 in. and weighed 16 stone, had worked himself up into an awful passion upon receiving the Commandants message that when we went expecting bread he behaved like a maniac, raving, stamping, and cursing in a way for which the German Sergeant Majors are so well known and dreaded by the privates under them. We tried to pacify him and explained why we had gone to the Commandant. Much as it riled us to stand patiently by, cap in hand fashion, pleading for food; the sight of the other 6 German soldiers near by, and taunting us, we kept our tempers At last I grew too disgusted and desperate to beseech this rotter any more and walked away. Immediately I was far enough away they smashed Beatty on the head. One Australian to 7 German Soldiers in the pink of condition. It was a chance too good to be missed. Beatty was struck on the head with a stick cutting his head badly. When he came out to me the blood was running down his face. I enquired what had happened and then took him before the German Doctor. He reported the case and attended to his woundes. The Doctor referred the matter to the Commandant, but in the meantime the Sergeant Major had laid a complaint against us for threatening him with violence. When we were called up to the O.C. he never allowed us to say a word but sentenced my pal to 5 days solitary and I got three, although I was away from the place where the murderous assault took place. Anyway we got bread and water regularly without having to work for it, though it was
a very poor finish to our Xmas holiday.
This episode strengthened our resolve to escape. Our temper was often at the breaking point, through the constant jibes and refined cruelty they subjected us to. They tried in every way possible to break our spirits. It was only the hope of escaping that kept us up at all during that wretched persecution which lasted nearly five months from Oct 17 to April 18 whilst we were collecting material for our collapsible boat. No doubt the German task-masters thought their slave driving each day would leave us little strength or inclination when we were locked up for the night to do anything else but sleep. But we worked on past midnight very often and before sleeping we hid the stuff in a cave we dug to avoid detection.
Our feelings can be better imagined than described when everything was ready. The suspense of the boat being discovered and the knowledge of which awaited us if we failed was nerve wracking. But at last the long prayed for chance came on 29th April, and we resolved to put the result of our five month secret, midnight toil to the test. The failure of my first attempt and the consequent punishment only made me more desperate and I secretly determined that if I were caught again and brought back, death in any shape was better than a continuance of the slavery and degradation of the last six months. There seemed to be no end to the war. In fact it seemed to be getting further away. It was as well to attempt an escape as die of fever if we remained in the Camp.
Note:- on Gelebek.:- Of all the different camps I have been in Gelebek was by far the worst both for work food and fever. All these camps became worse as time went on, because of the shortage of food and the great increase of prices of local grown stuff owning to the Turkish notes, depreciating in value. Early in 1918 it was possible to sell a Turkish sovereign for £6:10:0 in notes. Of course we were always paid in notes and money coming from England was always paid to us in notes. At the end of 1916 silver went completely out of circulation. The Turkish government printed notes as low as 2d which I suppose is a record. The Turkish livre i.c.£ is worth 16/8 [18/2] in normal times.
[see photo notes of Turkish money for photos.]
Note at top of page crossed out: Is this narrative to film on page 36?
Account Of Second Escape From Gelebek On 29th April-1918
Ever since my return from the first attempted escape, I had made up my mind that I would try again, only that I would go about it differently next time., i.e. I would construct a portable boat which we would be able to put to sea in and reach the coast of Cyprus 60 miles distant. After my return from previous attempt I have said that I started work again at Belemedik. Not long after I had a bad attack of Malaria and had to be shifted inland as I was in such a bad state of health that I was unable to work. I was shifted to Bore where we soon recovered. During the latter part of my stay there Corporal Sloss of the Australian Flying Corps suggested that we might escape from the camp and walk to the Russian Front at Sivas, 300 miles distant, but my previous experiences told me that this would be a terrible difficult undertaking owing to the shortage of food everywhere, so we cast this idea aside. We thought the best thing we could do would be to volunteer for a working party on the railway where we would be able to steal the required material to construct a canvas boat and we would not be far from the sea. We did not have to wait long for in about 3 weeks from the time we had decided on this plan a Doctor came to the camp and picked out a working party for Gelebek. I was picked but my friend was not accepted although he tried hard to get away with me. I was delighted to hear that it was Gelebek we were going to, as I knew that it was only 35 miles from the coast and we would not have very rough country to travel over. About September 20, 1917 a party of about 30 left for Gelebek arriving there about September 22. After we had been there a short time and got to make friends with a few Greeks and Armenians, I commenced to get all the information I could . There were now three of us in the party, James Cullen (stoker) AE11., Private S. Samson A.I.F., and myself. The three of us vowed that we would exert all our energies in the next 7 months in procuring the material for the boat; At the end of that time we reckoned that the weather would have cleared up and the Summer set in. However we went very carefully about our business and through some of our agents we procured all the material we needed in about three months. The next difficulty was the construction. This we used to work on during the night generally putting in about two hours in the evening. In about three months from the time we had procured the material we had constructed a fine little canvas boat, 12 feet long 4 ft 6" wide, 2 feet 3" deep. We reckoned this would hold us easily. All the frame work we made in sections. The canvas would be the heaviest part making one manís load. The only thing we were in need of was some tar to put on the outside of the canvas, and sure enough a few days before we
were ready to leave we managed to get some stockholm tar. This was easy to put on when we were finished we buried all the parts of the boat so that we could not be found out at the last minute and dash our hopes to the ground. We had procured a small German pocket compass with illuminated dial. We had been studying strict economy all this time, and had managed to save up some biscuits and money. The biscuits came from occasional parcels we received, our friends giving us their biscuits when they knew we were going to attempt this escape. We decided to leave on the 29th April 1918.
[Side note: to be underlined]
The Turkish soldiers sentries on the works lived in a big tent close to us and in leaving we had to pass close by this tent. We did not have any sentries actually guarding us but they were stationed on the outskirts of the village to block anybody- Turks or us from leaving the works-. However we waited till there appeared to be nobody about and then we set off with our swags as quick as we could walk. We were afraid to look either side of us for fear we would see anybody watching us. We got well clear of the camp and sneaking along very low to the ground we got into some low bushes Just at this time we heard some men running towards us. Our hearts came into our mouths for we thought that somebody had seen us leave and reported us and we were being followed. We lay down on the ground and kept very quiet. Two men rushed past us followed by two other men, evidently sentries. Then three of 4 rifle shots broke the stillness. We then knew that they were not after us. When all had quietened down again, we moved off. We were now passing through low scrub about 5 feet high. This afforded good cover for us. The next thing in our way was the crossing of the railway line, which we knew was guarded and the road was also close to the railway. We wanted to cross these obstacles before the moon rose. About 9.30 p.m. we got to within a couple of hundred yards of the road and were approaching very cautiously along the bank of a little water course we had just crossed a small patch of wheat about 2 feet high when we heard somebody running. We immediately dropped to the ground. This man came from off the road and just before he got to us he stopped and seemed to be looking at us; then went on. Whether he did see us or not I donít know but he did not take any notice of us. We were afraid to move for a long time, and during this wait the moon rose and we knew we would have to spend the night close by. We could not risk crossing the railway in moonlight. However we selected a small clump of bushes close to the road. We decided to spend the following day in hiding and then move off early in the evening. When daylight broke we found we were not in such a good hiding place as we thought, for anybody coming close would have seen us quite easily. One man driving some cattle passed very close to us, but he did not look in our direction. Towards the evening three men rode by very close to us. One of them looking our direction. Evidently he did not see us for they went on their way. Just after dark we started off very cautiously to cross the road and railway which we succeeded in doing.
without any trouble. The country we had to cross was almost clear, patches of wheat here and there and a few rocky hills. After about three hours walk we came on a good well. We refilled our water bottles, and had a good drink. After a short rest we started off again. Shortly after this we had a very steep hill to climb. We were a good half hour in reaching the top feeling very done up with our heavy load. After this we found the travelling very rough, small hills and rocks. About 3 a.m. we decided that we would camp and wait till the following evening. We were close to the top of a hill in some very low bushes scarcely affording cover for us. The top of the hill had no cover whatsoever. When day broke we could see a small village in the distance and when we crawled very cautiously to the top of the hill to investigate we could see that right ahead of us to the East of Tarsus there was a large stretch of flat country. We judged that we would only have about five miles of hilly country to travel over. We got back into our place of hiding and lay down to sleep. the day away. During the afternoon a heavy thunderstorm broke over us and it was not long before we were drenched through, our biscuits also got wet. The rain kept on all the evening and did not seem like clearing up. We started off wet and miserable. It set in a pitch black night. We were constantly slipping and falling over stones and had to stop occasionally and take a course by the compass which we found of valuable assistance. Often when we did so we found ourselves going in another direction we plodded on determined to reach the coast all all costs. About 3 p.m. we camped on the side of a small hill amongst some rocks. When daylight broke we could see we were on the edge of the flat country but during the night we had really made very little progress, perhaps not more than five miles. It did not rain much during the day so we got a good bit of sleep. Towards the evening it came on to rain heavy again and it seemed
like as if it had come to stop this time. We started off again and it was not long before we were on the flat country, but it was not going to be easy going like we had expected. Most of the ground had been newly ploughed, for cotton planting, and this, with the heavy rains, had become one continuous bog. We had to keep resting frequently we were carting a great load of sticky mud on our boots. This made progress very difficult having to keep stopping to clear the great cakes of mud off our boots. Towards midnight we became so done up that we decided to camp and wait till the next evening. There were odd patches of wheat about 2 feet high, so we selected one of these for hiding in. We spread the canvas out on the ground so that we would not be lying on the mud but it rained nearly all day, but still we slept most of the time, being so completely done up. In the evening we set off again feeling very little better for our rest. Scarcely a word was spoken. We were just beginning to feel the strain of the trip, being a continually wet. Our food was decreasing alarmingly, the biscuits had been soaked with the rain and had gone into a mash. This was the only food we had to
depend on. We tramped on as best we could expecting that if we struck good hard travelling we could reach the coast the following night. About midnight we struck a fairly good road but it was not leading in the exact direction to suit us so we had to leave it and strike off across the boggy fields again. We did not make much further progress owing to a terrible rain storm coming on, so we took refuge in one of our usual places of concealment. There was absolutely no timber in this part of the country. The following day it was still raining. We began to see the terrible possibility of failure. Nearly all day we discussed the situation and came to the conclusion that if the rain did not stop it would be impossible to reach the coast at our present rate of travelling In the afternoon the rain cleared up and we had hopes of being able to continue the trip with success. We could see Tarsus in the distance and knew by our position that we would still have about 13 miles to do. We had gone about 2 miles when another terrible rain storm broke and it was not long before we were like drowned rats. We stopped for about 1 hour in the hopes of it clearing off, but no such luck. It seemed as if it was going to last. We knew that with the small amount of wet biscuit we had, we could not possibly do the trip. After reaching the coast we had a 4 to 5 days trip. At sea we could not possibly stand the strain of this without food. We ate the remaining biscuit and decided that we would start back to camp before any of us became sick to walk. Cullen had a slight attack of malaria and we did not know the minute we might all be stricken down with the same complaint. We had been wet through practically all the time for the past four days. I think the only thing that went a long way to keep off a sickness was a bottle of Dr. Collis Brownís chloradyne which one of our friends had given us before leaving in case of dysentry. He had received it in a parcel. We took 20 to 30 drops of this every night after we finished the nights march and we found it warmed us up wonderfully. We left all our gear in a wheat field where we were, to be found by who ever should reap the harvest. I have often wondered since what the man who found it thought it was, if it was a Turk, I am sure that the mystery is still unsolved for the Turk is very ignotant outside his own little bit of farm work. We set off back relieved of our heavy burden but how we felt it having to leave our boat behind which we had spent months of work on and had depended on it getting us out of that terrible country. I still fell sure today that had the rain kept off we would have reached the coast and got safely across to Cyprus, an English possession. There was nowhere where we could leave the boat and come back in a month or two and find it for the country was all the same and the nights were pitch black. We would not have found the same place again especially a wheat field.
We made good progress that night despite the heavy rain and darkness. This is where our little compass came in again. We took a direct course to where we knew the old raod from Tarsus to Gelebek ran. I had had previous experiences on this track during "my last escape". Just after daylight we reached the first of the hills and the rain had stopped and it looked like clearing up for good. About 9 a.m. sun came out so we took our clothing off and hung it on bushes to dry. That sun was glorious but what we needed now was food, we were ravenous. Then we started off towards where we knew the track was. We reached this about 1 p.m. We then had about 15 miles to do to Gelebek. We started off along the road passing a few Turks who took very little notice of us. We eventually reached Gelebek about 6 p.m. Cullen who had been working under the English Doctor at the Hospital went direct to the Hospital and reported to Captain Clifford who said that he had not yet been reported as being away. Samson and my self who were working for the German Military had been missed the day after we had gone. Of course we were taken before the German Commandant who wanted to know where we had been and why. I told him straight that I was tired of working under such conditions and that we had gone away in the hopes of a shift. All he said was. "It is impossible for you to get away, and turned us over to the Turkish Commandant for punishment for we were Turkish prisoners of war, although we were working under the Germans. We were immediately put into prison and were not told for any definite time. I will now give a brief description of that terrible Black Hole of Gelebek
(not Calcutta). It was a room about 20 x 15 feet, not more. It was filled with bales of cotton woool. There was not a breath of ventilation, except what came through the cracks in the door. It was quite dark. This is the room we were put into the first day we were by ourselves, then two Turks were put in and a day or two after 7 Kurds were put in. There were now 11 of us in this awful place swarming with lice and fleas and the smell was terrible. We were allowed a little under half a pound of bread per day, and unless we had a bottle to hold water, we would have to go without a drink for 8 or 9 hours. We were allowed out for 5 minutes in the morning and 5 minutes at night. It did not matter what happened we could not get out at any other time. The room was sweltering hot and that combined with the awful smell from these filthy Kurds was unbearable. At night time we used to strip off to the waist to enable us better to keep off attacks from the vermin. It was only from utter exhaustion that we were able to get to sleep at all which would most times be early morning. Can anybody realise the horrors of this place? Sometimes I think it was only a horrible dream but when I think it over, I know it actually happened. We had endured this for 14 days when one morning during our five minutes outside I saw one of our chaps in the distance. I took a
risk and shouted to him to see Captain Clifford to see if he could use his influence to get us out for I knew what the Turks thought of Captain Clifford. I was immediately hurried back into the room. The following day during the afternoon we were sent for. We were conducted into the Commandantís Office. He and Captain Clifford were together. Captain Clifford pleaded for us saying if we remained there we would surely die. He said he would stand bail for us telling the Commandant that we would not go away again. The Commandant blamed me for being the originator of the scheme and said he would have me sent away into the interior as soon as a party was leaving. Then Captain Clifford took us with him to the hospital where we had a good bath and change of clothing and after that a good meal, Many a time since I have thanked him for that act of kindness, probably he was the means of saving our lives. I remained at the hospital for about 3 days. Then I had a bad attack of Malaria but it did not last long. The following day I was sent for and despatched to Afin-Kara-hissar with a few wounded and sick who had come through from the Palastine front. I have previously given a description of Afion under the new Commandant.
Note: Kurds were the refugees from Kurdestan. All the men were kept to work on the railway, the women and children being sent to the interior to work on the land
This portion of the manuscript was om
mitted by the typist. After my attempt at escaping from Gelebek I was sent to Afion-kara-hissar at the end of May 1918.
Afion-kara-hissar at this time was a fairly good rest camp under the new Commandant we received money regular through the Dutch Ambassador at Constantinople parcels came along every month or 6 weeks We were allowed out on a field once a week to play football etc under sentries charge We also had some good concerts to brake the minotony usually the officers had a concert once a month and we gave one in return, the Commandant always allowed parties from either camp to visit on these occasions. The food supplied by the Turks was as per usual but the money we were receiving and a few Red + parcels enabled us to have a least one good meal a day We used to receive a Turkish paper every day printed in French this gave us a fair idea of the doings in the outside world, it was this paper that gave us the news of Bulgariaís fall and from then on it seemed to take a decided turn against
the Germans and their doings we then knew that Turkey must be in a state of collapse.
When their alliy Bulgaria caved the Turks became very downcast because amongst many other drawbacks this caused it cut off all communication & help from Germany. After the fall of Damascus the Turks knew they were doomed and immediately our treatment and conditions improved the Turk treated us
my more like brother than foe and showed great hostility to the Germans. They no longer jeered at us or repeated that we would be slaves to Allah for all time.
Many train loads of Turkish Austrian & German soldiers retreating from the
p Palestine front tried to sell their arms but when they couldnít they threw them away declaring they couldnít fight any longer for a lost cause. This greatly rejoiced us prisoners working on the railway to see this we knew the enemy had got beyond the bluffing stage about winning the war when they failed to sell their ammunition and found no purchaser for their trophies
Towards the end of October news came through that 1000 men were to be exchanged for enemy prisoners. After medical inspection the men most unfit were selected I was amongst the lucky number. Those who were put on the list for exchange were told to be in readiness to leave on the morrow. Immagine the excitement amongst the lucky ones, even those who were to be left behind were not altogether downhearted for they knew that it was on only a matter of a few days before they would follow. The sentries did a great trade buying up all our old clothing and then taking it into the town and selling it
th at a huge profit. None of us kept much clothing when we knew we were going to move for the last time, just what we stood up in was sufficient. I sold an Australian military overcoat for £14 and a good pair of bood would bring £12. I wonder how long the war would have had to last before things came to the same state in this country. Only Since I have been back I have heard certain persons remark referring to the price of
things it would have been better if Germany had won the war. At 4 p.m. on October 20th 1918 we were told to fall in and be ready to march to the station to catch the train to Smyrna. After roll call which was a farce for anybody could have joined in with us and got away we started off in small parties and made our way to the station not being troubled with sentries the first time this had happened in Afion-Kara-hissar (marching through the streets without sentries). On reaching the station we were given 3 loaves of bread each to last us the trip. We left the station that night 11 p.m. travelling in covered in cattle trucks about 25 to 30 men in a truck. Everybody was in good spirits laughing & singing, even the sentries sent with us more for our protection than anything else were firing their rifles into space. About 5 a.m. we arrive at a large station and are told that we remain here for a bath & fumigation which we get through in the
cause course of the day.
The same evening we start off again, we have been travelling down hill all
the time but this night in particular there seems to be a terrible down hill grade for the train at times seemed as if it had taken charge I am sure we were travelling at over 60 miles per hour and to make things worse the line was full of bends.
[Side note: From Gurrackoi to Kimlik, less than 18 miles the line drops over 2000 feet.]
When looking out of the doors one could see down for hundreds of feet, at times we seemed to be running along the brink of a precipice This joy ride lasted for 1 Ĺ hours. We could smell something burning and thought our truck was on fire but when we stopped the wheels were smoking and almost red hot from the friction of the brakes. In the morning we were passing through some very fertile country mostly vineyards and orchards of fig trees & olives we arrived at Smyrna about 11 a.m. here we notice real signs of civilisation. Smyrna is really pretty place situated at the head of the Gulf
by of that name which forms a really very fine harbour. The town is fairly well laid out with plenty of trees planted mostly poplars, the houses and shops are far superiour to those of the inland towns & there are several
factories to be seen which always gives a place a civilised appearance. The population comprises chiefly Greeks Armenians & Turks and a mixture of other nationalities very few English The Turkish part of the town is easily picked out by the appearance of the buildings and the towering minarets of the mosques. On arrival at the central station we are transferred to
another the Otterman (Aidin) railway which we learn is a line owned by an English Co. it only runs a few miles out of Smyrna We notice by the name plates on the carriages & engines that they were built in England. After a run of about 3 miles we arrive at our destination "Paradise" a place that has earnít itself that name. From here there is only a single track to Egherdir about 200 miles. We soon learn that we are to be quartered in the American college near by a magnificent building completed not long before the war Close to the main building in the same grounds was a large church & concert room fitted out in the most up to date way also a fine gymnasium with all lates appliances, they generated all their own electricity for lighting.
There were two good football & hockey grounds. Mr. MacLachlan was the principal and he threw this beautiful building open to Prisoners of war while they were in Smyrna. Imagine our joy at living in a place like this after the hovels we had been in for 3 Ĺ years previously. We were allowed out in the town daily without sentries, but were advised to go in parties for our own safety, this was a real treat for we all had a fair am
mount of money after selling our clothing; also the Dutch Ambassador had just paid out £10 per man. We soon found that money did not go very far, for a decent meal cost £1. A small bottle of German lagar beer cost 4/-. I never heard a prisoner refuse a drink even though it was made in Germany, and cost a high price. There was not much chance of getting intoxicated on this beer. This went on for about 10 days, when one evening the joyful news came that we were to be ready to leave first thing in the morning. Previous to this we had rumours that a hospital ship was waiting outside the harbour for us. We got very little sleep that night
with the prospect of leaving in the morning. Just before daybreak we were fell in by our own officers and marched to the train that was waiting for us; this train ran us down to the jetty, and it was not long before we were all aboard, 3 Turkish tugs steaming merrily through the mine fields out of Smyrna harbour. About 3 pm we sighted a hospital ship in the distance. Can anybody realise our joy at this sight and especially the Australians, when this ship proved to be the Australian hospital ship- "Kanowna." (A very good account of this release appeared in the Sydney mail of 9th April 1919.) The treatment we got aboard the "Kanowna" was excellent how it cheered us up to see the bright smiling faces of the sisters on board & see an English woman, practically the first for 3 Ĺ years. The same night we left for Alexandria. On arrival there we were put into a large military camp, to await a ship for England. We were delayed 3 weeks, then
we crossed over to Toranto on the troopship "Bermudian", and thence by rail ac
cross Italy & France to Calais and then to Dover.
This is the end of the manuscript. On the reverse of the last page there is a note as follows:
I went to Col. Farr today & got this M.S.
He & his expert literary man think v. highly of the substance & say thereís plenty of good stuff in it.
Get the sanction of the Ny. Board & then hand it over to Farr again.
Heíll see the matter thr.
6.15 pm. Monday 21st Nov. 19.
Transcriberís note: Parts of this diary were typed up shortly after WW1 and there are a number of typing errors throughout the document. They have been left as they appeared
[Transcribed by Lynne Palmer for the State Library of New South Wales]