Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Bowler war diary, 21 May-July 1917 / William (Bill) G. Bowler
MLDOC 1267

[Page 1]
Diary Of Voyage On H.M.A. Troopship Shropshire A9 from Australia to England 1917

Freemantle, W.A.
21st May,1917.

Dear Ma
The following is a brief account of our voyage on a Troopship, during the first part of our journey. On Friday, 11th may, we left the wharf at Port Melbourne, about 1.30 p,m, on board xxxx H.M.A.T. "Shropshire" "A.9". About 15 minutes later we were followed by the troopship "Ascanius", the latter having on board the Victorian A.M.C. Detail that had marched in from Seymour Camp with us. There were fully ten thousand people on both wharves, and they gave us a magnificent send off. We will always have a warm spot in our hearts for the good ladies of Melbourne, who had helped to make our stay in the southern Capital enjoyable. I have never seen so many women at one time before, and the way they kept smiling and cheerful, was a credit to the men they were farewelling, and the Nation to which they belong. One could not help picturing many a similar send-off during the past two and a half years of war, as the women said farewell to their men folk embarking on a voyage from which so many will never return.

[Page 2]
We steamed down Port Phillip and dropped anchor off Sorrento Point just inside the Heads. Just ahead of us we saw the Transports "Boorawa" and "Clan McGilvery". The wind at this time was blowing a gale and promised a lively time outside. We remained at anchor all night, and next day the transport "Benalla" arrived, and after going up the Bay, returned. About 4.30 p.m., a Destroyer steamed between Transports signalling orders, and `` one of our Signal Corps read the following Morse message --- "Convoy proceed to sea, line ahead, "Benalla" leading "Shropshire" "Ascanius " "Clan -McIlvery" "Boonara" following. As the destroyer passed close on our port side, the troops aboard gave her a tremendous cheer. She then put on full speed, turned sharply astern of us, and raced ahead to take up her station at the head of the line. Judging by the speed she put on, her crew certainly lead a very fast life at times. The wind by this time was blowing a gale, and even in the port the waves were going clean over the Destroyer's bows as she sped through them. As our ship was a bit slow weighing anchor, the destroyer winked back and wanted to know what the devil we were wasting time over. The Search-lights at the Heads looked very fine playing on the waves as they rolled in over the reef where the R.M.S. "Australia" came to grief some years ago. We had written our final letters and the Mail after being censored was to be sent ashore by the Pilot. We steamed well outside under the lee of the shore, and the Convoy stopped to drop

[Page 3]
drop the Pilot. The Pilot boat came to within three lengths of us and a small boat pulled alongside. The Pilot then lowered himself over the side, after having thrown the mail bag into the boat. The troops lined the side to give him a send off. Someone said "Have you got the mail Pilot" to which he replied "Yes boys, I've got it alright". Then someone called "Three cheers for the Pilot" which were given with a roar that must have been heard for miles. Eighteen hundred men can make quite a noise when they like. With a cheery "Goodbye and good luck, boys" the Pilot left us, and we steered for the open sea. The night was pitch dark, and when we the lee of the land we found a very nasty sea running with strong head wind. Once again I was at sea, with the spray filled wind whistling through the rigging , recalling to mind many a previous voyage, and the following lines: -
Below the skyline drops the shore,
The long grim grey backs lift and fall,
Against our bows they crash and roar,
The engines throb, the Sea Gulls call:
And salt again against my face,
Is flung the challenge bold and free
Of that world tramp who roams apace --
The wind -- the wind of the open sea.

[Page 4]
Here is no breeze of drowsy lands,
No breath of crowded towns and stale,
This is the wind that sweeps the mains
That leaps along the trackless trail:
And with its savor on my lips
The ancient joy comes back to me--
Of those who dared, in Viking ships
The Wind -- the wind of the open sea.

It blows from out the vasty skies,
Across the tumbling Deep's expanse,
It stings to deeds of high emprise,
It sings of glamour and romance;
Chill, clean it is -- my pulses leap--
Again to tread the decks and be
One with the rover of the Deep,
The Wind -- the wind of the open sea.

We shape a course south west, so as to take us out of the trade routes. About 9 -30 "lights out" sound, and we turn I feeling that at last we are on our way after many weary months of waiting and disappointment. Next day (Sunday 14th May) at sea. The wind is blowing a gale from the sou-west, and there is a lovely sea running. About three fourths of the troops are suffering very much from

[Page 5]
from sea-sickness. Words cannot describe the state of the troop decks below, with men laying about everywhere and vomiting over everything. Several of our detail are down to it, and one member, an Irishman, who is feeling very queer says "Fancy a feller bein after enlistin' twoice". Many of the others wonder why the devil they don't bring the war to Australia, instead of taking them to the war. Speaking of Irishmen reminds me of the following. The wife of a soldier had just died leaving a large family to mourn their loss. An Officer told the man he was very sorry to hear of his loss, when he replied "Yes, shure, it was a sad day for us Sor, the night the hand that rocks the cradle kicked the bucket". About noon we met H.M.S. Encounter, and six other transports waiting for us. The destroyer handed us over to the Cruiser, and after remaining xxx with us until about sunset left and returned to port. The crew of the destroyer would be very glad to get us back, as the little vessel had been having a very lively time in the big seas. The new comers consisted of the following vessels;- "Marathon" "Port Sydney" "Ulysses" "Turakina" "Tofua" and "Pakeha". The "Turakina" and "Tofua" have New Zealanders aboard. We headed down into the south-ern ocean all day, and the weather was very cold. Dick and I never felt the slightest sign of sea-sickness, and never felt better in our lives. Monday 14th May. Sea still rough. Many of the men are still sick. Those who are not spend the day watching the movements of the convoy. The vessels are stationed as follows:- Starboardline:-"Ascanius" "Pakeha" & "Turakina". Centre Line :- H.M.S. "Encounter"

[Page 6]
"Encounter", "Ulysses". "Shropshire", "Benalla" & "Port Sydney",
Port line "Marathon" "Boonara" "Clan McIlvery" & "Tofua".
Each line is about a mile apart, and each ship about six hundred yards. As we are the Flagship of the Convoy, we are stationed in the centre with a vessel between us and the escort. We are constantly signalling all day, and have seven members of the Signal Corps on the bridge. Tuesday 15th May. Sea moderating in the morning. Convoy closed in on escort about midday. Xxx Afternoon very cold, sea rising again. Convoy takes former stations. Salt water entered fresh water tanks and spoilt a good deal of the drinking water. Rumoured we are going to Freemantle for a fresh supply. Previously bound direct to Durban. At sunset blowing a gale again with heavy seas. (Wrote letter card)
Wednesday 16th May. Heavy sea running. Convoy shipping seas forward and at times rolling heavily.Judging by the other vessels our ship is easily the best sea boat. Weather clearing again toward sunset with sea going down. Less sea sickness aboard.
Thursday 17th May. Sea again getting rough with wind blowing very strong. Toward midday heavy sea running. Benalla close astern shipping green seas continually & rolling heavily. At times she ships three seas in succession and we can plainly see the water pouring off her decks. The "Port Sydney" is also making bad weather of it. Other ships playing up more or less. Received latest war news by wireless - from Perth. Friday

[Page 7]
Friday 18th May. Sea calmer. Heavy swell. Ship rolling heavily. "Banalla" going rails under. Towards evening the weather is finer. Today we were detailed tour lifeboats. I am detailed to No 7 boat situated on the starboard side near the bridge. Sent letter card home. No 3.
Saturday 19th May. Sea calmer. Day spent by convoy steaming in a zigzag course and then off straight ahead. The "Encounter" went off at right angles on the starboard tack, and convoy followed suit.
Escort then turned sharp to port, and we followed. We are evidently learning how to dodge tin fish. Toward sunset we sighted steamer hull down on the horizon. The stranger signalled escort and the latter replied. We are evidently getting near the steamer routes again.
Sunday 20th May. Sea calm. Church Service at 10a.m C.of E.Hymns Onward Christian Soldiers. Lead Kindly Light. Fight the Good Fight. Hymn for Those at Sea. God Save The King. Afternoon Service by Y.M.C.A. Rep, who is a very fine fellow. Rock of Ages, Lead Kindly Light. Oh God, our help in ages past, etc, sung by all hands.
At noon we changed our course and steamed north. At 3 p.m. the escort signalled, and all ships slowed down to about quarter speed.The "Pioneer" or "Payche"? is on our port side, and she is evidently the stranger who spoke to us last night. All hands are on deck at sunset looking for land. The convoy is just moving, and the sea is at last smooth. All troops are now feeling fit, and Paddy is game enough to enlist half a dozen times if necessary. On the 18th instant, Dick and I with others of the detail had our hair cropped

[Page 8]
cropped off. The result was fearful. Any judge would give us life without the option on any evidence whatever. Never has a more fearful lot of criminals been seen out of gaol anywhere. Hindenberg would look absolutely handsome beside us, and you do not wonder at the tales about the huns being afraid of the Australians? We even frighten ourselves if we look in a mirror too sudden.
Monday 21st May. At reveille (6am) we went outside and saw Rottnest Island Light on the starboard side. It was the first bit of Australia we had seen since the coastline of Victoria disappeared on the north-eastern horizon on the 12th instant. Convoy now took station line ahead, Encounter leading, with "Ulysses" and "Shropshire" following. We took a wide sweep round the Rottnest, and dropped anchor at the head of the line, about 9 a,m. The whole fleet then proceeded to anchor in the roads just outside the entrance to Freemantle Harbour. The "Encounter " had broken line and lay over on the port side while the Convoy steamed past and anchored. Then she entered the harbour and was followed soon after by the N.Zealand Transport "Tofua", who required coal etc. As the "Tofua" steamed by us, our troops lined the rails and rigging and gave the Maorilanders a rousing cheer. They returned the compliment with a war yell, and our boys, not to be outdone, sent back a rousing cooee that scared the sea gulls for miles around. Then the Cruiser that we had taken for the "Pioneer" or the "Psyche" but now proved to be H.M.S. "Doris" steamed past. We gave her a cheer also, and threw in

[Page 9]
in a few cooees to make weight. The Australian transports "Port Sydney" and "Marathon" and the N.Z.T. "Turakina" then passed in. They looked very fine as they steamed slowly by us, with the troops all over them. We sighted a Japanese Cruiser at anchor when we arrived, also the Australian Transport "Suffolk" awaiting our arrival. And so the February and March Reinforcements from Australia and N. Zealand came to anchor at the end of the first lap of their fifteen thousand miles voyage, to right a wrong and chastise a bully. The "Shropshire " is now anchored about three miles from the Port of Freemantle. The weather is quite warm, and the Indian Ocean as calm as a mill pond. Today we saw the first sunset since leaving Melbourne. The sun sets in the ocean here, and it was beautiful sight as we stood at the rails and watched "The sunset turn the ocean's blue to gold". As the sun dipped below the horizon the trumpeters sounded the "Retreat". All hands faced aft and remained at "attention" until the last note rang out. A silent tribute to the men of Australia who have paid the full price in upholding their country's honour. The boys are quite happy now, and are singing songs as "Monterey" "I Never Knew" "Coming Home" "The roses that made me remember", etc. They have a piano out on deck, and are all in high spirits. Seasickness and other unpleasant things are all forgotten. We may enter the harbour tomorrow, and if so, I will post this ashore in the Post Office. If we are not granted leave, I will keep it until

[Page 10]
until we reach Durban, and post it there.
Trusting all hands are quite well, with love and best wishes to all, I remain
Yours to a cinder

A.9. At Sea.
11th June, 1917.

Dear Ma
Herewith Part 2 (as the school books would say) of our voyage on a troopship. We remained outside Freemantle all day on 21st May. During the day several launches crowded with people came out to us to see their friends. We have some Westralians aboard, and it was the only way their relatives could see them to say Goodbye. We are sorry for the western men, as it must have been very hard to be anchored so near your Home port, and not have a chance of going ashore.
Tuesday 22nd May. At noon we received orders to proceed to sea at 4 p,m, and at that time the "Ulysses weighed anchor, followed closely by the "Ascanius" "Tofua" "Pakeha" "Turakina" "Marathon" H.M.S."Doris" "Suffolk" "Shropshire" Japanese Cruiser, "Port Sydney" "Boorara" "Benalla" and "Clan McIlvery". As the escort (H.M.S. "Doris") passed us, the trumpets sounded the "G", and all hands remained at attention until she had gone by. Later on, we came abreast of

[Page 11]
of the Jap Cruiser, the trumpeters sounded the "G", and we again stood at attention. The Jap crew were in whites, and were drawn up facing outwards round the bow of the ship. They made a fine show as they stood at attention while their ship left the Roads. The last ship left at 6 p,m, and the Convoy must have made a fine sight from the shore, as we steamed out into the heart of the sunset. The sun went down like a ball of gold, coloring the sky all the shades from bright gold to brilliant red, forming a fine contrast with the deep blue of the placid Indian Ocean. After tea most of the troops were on deck watching the lights of Freemantle twinkling on the eastern horizon. It was a beautiful starry night without a breath of wind, and not a ripple on the ocean. It was a wonderful contrast to the night we left Port Phillip. Slowly, one by one , the lights of Freemantle twinkled out, and at last disappeared. And so the Convoy left the Home land on the second stage of the voyage, and one could not help wondering how many of the men were saying Goodbye for the last time, and yet---
Can a man die better,
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his Fathers
And the Temples of his God.
(I did not post No 4 letter at Freemantle, as I did not go ashore so I supposed it will arrive with this one.)
Wednesday 23rd May. At Sea. Weather fine and warm, sea very calm. During the night we parted company with the Jap Cruiser and transports "Boorawa and "Port Sydney". The Convoy now consists of

[Page 12]
of H.M.S. "Doris" H.M.A.T.'s "Ullysses" "Shropshire" "Benalla" "Marathon" "Suffolk" "Ascanius" Clan McIlvery" and H.M.N.Z.T's "Turakina" "Pakeha" and "Tofua". All hands are now in tropical suits, and physical drill is the order of the day. We also have lectures in the afternoons, so that we will not forget all that we have been taught during the last few months. Speaking of lectures reminds me of the following:- An instructor once said "Give me the name of the bones in the human skull". To which the man replied " I've got them all in my head sir, but I can't recall their names". A sharp look out is now being kept on all vessels, and it was responsible for some fun today. One of the units was exercising with a medicine ball (a leather ball, larger than a football) wheb it went overboard. The "Benalla" was following us about a quarter of a mile astern. Those aboard her evidently thought it was a mine, as she turned sharp to starboard and circled round, giving it a wide berth.
Thursday 24th May. Fine warm day. Sea as smooth as glass. During the night one of the convoyn signalled that something was wrong with her steering gear. The Escort sent up a blue rocket, and the Convoy stopped until the repairs were completed. At 1.30 p,m, the convoy again stopped while the "Marathon" transferred some officers and men to the "Clan McIlvery","Benalla" "Suffolk" and "Shropshire". They had been left behind when we left Freemantle, and were brought out in a Tug, and, as the "Marathon" was the only member of the Convoy visible, they were all put on board her, to be all transferred to their ships at the first opportunity. Friday

[Page 13]
Friday, 25th May. Sea very calm. Beautiful warm day.
Saturday 26th May. Sea calm, with slow swell. Boat drill at 11 a,m heard that "Transylvania" has been torpedoed. Rumoured that a P& O and an Orient Liner also sunk near South Africa. Today various sports were held on the troop decks. Several bets being made as to whether we get smacked or not.

Sunday 27th May. Sea very calm. Beautiful weather. Church Parades were held morning, afternoon and evening. The convoy are now travelling very close together. The submarine guards are now stationed round the ship, on the lookout for enemy submarines or raiders. As one fellow said "Anyone would think there was a war on".
Monday, 28th May. To day the N.Z. Transport "Turakina" hoisted her ensign half-mast, and signalled a death aboard from heart disease.
Tuesday, 29th May. At 6 a,m, the "Turakina" broke station and went ahead of the convoy on the starboard side, to bury the unfortunate New Zealander who died the previous day. At 7.45 all ships of the Convoy hoisted their ensigns halfmast, and the "Turakina" stopped. At 8.15 she hoisted the flag to the top (denoting the end of the burial service) and the convoy hoisted theirs also. By this time we were almost abreast of her, so she steamed over to her station in the line. When she had arrived in her place all the ensigns were lowered. Everyone said twas real hard luck to go out so soon, after all the training, etc, without striking a blow. Kismet.
Wednesday, 30th may. Another beautiful fine day with calm sea.
Thursday, 31st May. Heavy swell during morning. Vessels of the

[Page 14]
Convoy rolling steadily. Weather fine. Full Brass inspection by the General, about 2 p, m. All hands found it hard to keep a footing on the decks. The hobnail issue boots feel like lead after light deck shoes. Wrote and posted No6 Post card.
Friday,June 1st. beautiful fine day, with calm sea. Cloudless moon light night. Vessels of the convoy would make splendid targets if any fish were about.
"Velvet sky and satin sea.
Jewelled points of mystery,
Stars, an opalescent moon -
This is my memory of June".
The boys are all busy writing letters, etc, tonight, as there is a mail closing tomorrow, that will go ashore at Mauritius. One chap is also writing a full history of the voyage. He asked me what would be a good title for it, and I told him that judging by his experience "Sic Transit" would be a good name. The others counted me out.

Saturday, June 2nd. Fine day, calm sea. Various sports held in the afternoon on the troop decks. Quoits, Tug-a-war, Boxing, Skipping, etc. Heard of the sinking of the "Dover Castle" also attack by Anglo-Italian Fleet on Austrian Ports.
Sunday, June 3rd. King's birthday cake to all Messes in honour of the day. All hands wishing the King had a birthday at least once a week.
Monday, 4th June. Fine and warm. Sea calm, with wind astern.

[Page 15]
Astern. great care is being taken to show no lights. If a man attempts to light a cigarette, the submarine guard nearest gives a roar that causes the smoker to extinguish the match. I think cigarettes should be barred on transports, and no smoking allowed after sunset. The average smoker is a very selfish animal, and should be put under restraint. Although smoking is allowed all day, one would think some of the fellows would drop dead if they did not have a cigarette.
Tuesday, June 5th. Land sighted early in the morning. A chap woke me up about 5.30 a,m, and told me " land was on the starboard bow". I told him to get a boat hook and push it off, and turned over and went to sleep until reveille, 6 a,m. I then turned out and saw the tops of several mountains ahead. There was great excitement among the troops at the sight. I don't think there was more fuss on the ships of Columbus when the new world was sighted. We steamed along the coast all the morning. One headline looked like an enormous head of Queen Victoria as she appeared on the coin after the Diamond Jubilee; I never saw a better likeness before. The island is very mountainous, and has beautiful green slopes near the sea, evidently sugar cane Plantations. We steamed round the head of Queen Victoria and sighted smoke on the horizon. Someone said it was a german submarine. Someone else said "submarines don't smoke" He was told they did here, as tobacco was so cheap. The stranger proved to be one of our new exscort, a three funnelled Cruiser, flying the Rising Sun of Japan. H.M.S.Doris handed us over to the newcomer

[Page 16]
Comer, and steamed over to another Cruiser (also Japanese) that was approaching. That was the last we saw of our plucky little escort that had brought us from Freemantle safely. After handing over reports and papers to the Jap Cruiser, she headed along the coast for Port St Louis. The first cruiser signalled to the convoy and headed south, steaming slowly, at about 3p,m. After completing business with the "Doris" the other Jap Cruiser (who was evidently the Flag-ship) put on full speed and caught up to us about 5.30 p,m. As she passed us we dipped our ensign, and "Gabriel" (the Trumpeter) sounded the "G", and all hands stood to attention. We then increased speed to ten knots, and the island of Mauritius soon disappeared below the northern horizon. And that was all we saw of this small outpost of the Empire. A range of rugged mountains, green plains, and yellow sandy beaches.

Wednesday, June 6th. At 3 a,m, we passed the Island of Re-Union,a possession of our gallant Allies the French, and about eighty miles sou-west of Mauritius. At 6a,m, it was showing on the north-western horizon, and appeared to be more regular in formation than the latter, The day was fine and warm, with a calm oily sea. It was a very beautiful sight watching the moon rise out of the ocean. It is just a day past full moon, and it rose a beautiful golden ball, and the ocean for miles looked like molten silver.

Thursday June 7th. Fine day. Calm sea. Full dress inspection of A.M.C. Everything O.K. and all movement were carried out in a smart soldier like manner. (Ahem) Friday

[Page 17]
Friday, June 8th. Wind growing strong at daylight, and increasing to a gale in the afternoon with a big head sea running. Just after sunset we had a very fine view of the "Pakeha" "Turakina" "Suffolk" and "Benalla " as they Came racing up through the big seas abreast of one another, to receive their orders for the night. Soon after they had fallen back to their proper stations a blinding rain squall came on and shut out everything within three yards of the ship. During the storm one of the N.S.W. Artillery Reinforcements slipped and fell down the Companion ladder, seriously injuring his head.

Saturday, June 9th. Weather finer again, with rain clearing off. The Artillery man who met with the accident last night, died at 2.45 p,m, today from a fracture of the base of the skull. All sports on the ship were at once postponed, and the ensign hoisted half mast.

Sunday, 10th June. Weather squally with a moderate sea. At 7.45 a,m all ships of the Convoy stopped and hoisted their ensigns halfmast Soon after, the Church of England Chaplain, with a purple and white surplice over his uniform, came slowly along the deck, followed by a Stretcher Party bearing the corpse. The armed Guard presented arms and everyone saluted. The general took up the position of Chief Mourner. During the Service the body was placed on a shute under the white ensign. At the words "we commit our brother to the deep", the chief Officer of the ship lowered the outer end, and the body slipped off into the sea, the Guard presented arms, everyone saluted

[Page 18]
Saluted, while the haunting notes of the Last Post rang out on the trumpets. The ensign was then hoisted to the top, and the other ships did the same. The convoy then proceeded on the voyage. Our late comrade lost a brother at Gallipoli, one in France, and his mother died a fortnight before leaving Melbourne. Some families have quite a lot of luck coming to them. We had some very heavy rain squalls during the afternoon, and we saw some sea-gulls so we are evidently nearing land again.

Monday, June 11th. Dull day moderate sea. At midday the centre ships of the convoy, viz; the Jap Cruiser, "Ulysses" "Shropshire" and "Benalla" steamed ahead full speed, and as soon as we were clear of the other ships, the second Jap Cruiser turned to port astern of the "Benalla" and took charge of the remaining ships, thus making two convoys. The other ships looked very fine strung out in two lines as we left them. It gave us an idea of what a fine sight the people of Freemantle must have had, as the whole convoy steamed out of the Roads. At sunset the second convoy was strung along the horizon showing plainly against the sky line in the following order:- second Jap Cruiser, "Ascanius" "Marathon" "Turakina" "ClanMcIlvery" "Suffolk" "Pakeha" "TOfua". It is rumoured that they are going to CapeTown, but whether it is true or not, time will tell. We expect to arrive at Durban early tomorrow morning, so I will close this letter tonight. We had some very severe rain squalls tonight, otherwise the weather is O.K. Our ship is not moving, but the Cruiser is rolling very heavily. Warships apparently, are

[Page 19]
are not the best of sea-boats. I will close the second chapter of the trip now, I have made it as brief and interesting as possible. Some things I have omitted that would not interest anyone. I have omitted the dull daily routine, not told of how we got sick of the slow speed (five or six knots) how as the days lengthened into weeks all hands got sick and tired of the monotony, until we were snapping and snarling at one another like caged tigers, how we became sick of always seeing the same ships on each side, or how we tired of the constant calmness of the Indian Ocean with its deep blue, which we all admired at first, but afterwards wished it would change to pink, red, yellow, or any old colour for a change. Or how at times we imagined hell as being full of N.C.O's giving physical drill to poor damned souls. Such things as those are only worries of the moment, and are at once forgotten when land is again sighted, and there id the prospect of stretching our legs for a few hours ashore. The healthy of the troops has been very good. We have two or three mumps and measles cases aboard, and several injuries. The infectious cases will go ashore tomorrow, also a couple who will go to the local Milson Island. In xxxxxx the whole convoy there has been only two deaths (one heart disease and one accident) a very good record when you consider that our ship alone has nearly 1800 men aboard.
Trusting you are all xx O.K, and wishing to be remembered to everyone, with love and best wishes I remain Yours to a cinder Bill.

[Page 20]
No 2 Parkhouse Camp, Salisbury
21st July, 1917.

Dear Ma, Now that we have arrived in England, I will give you a brief record of our third and last lap from Durham to davenport. On Tuesday 12th June, at 3 a, m, we sighted the Bluff Light at Durban. At 7 am the Pilot came aboard, and the Convoy proceeded to enter the harbour. The harbour is not very large and has a breakwater entrance, with the Town surrounding two sides of it, and the Suburbs at the back on the hill. No 2 Convoy now appeared on the horizon and looked very fine in the bright morning. A young lady (Miss Campbell) who is the daughter of a Durban Doctor, signalled to us from a stack of railway sleepers, "Cooees welcome to Durban" "Don’t forget to visit the Y.M.C.A. Huts". She is very smart with the flags, and sent the message faster than many of our Signallers could read it. She welcomes all Hospital and troopships that enter and leave the Port, and all the boys have a very warm spot in their hearts for her. At 9 a, m, we tied up in the stream to a buoy, and about 11.30 No 2 Convoy came in, and most of the ships went alongside the wharf. We had to wait, as our ship took up too much room. Some of the men (50%) went ashore at 4.30 p,m, for a route march. I sent a telegram to Mrs Harwin, informing her of our arrival. On Wednesday, 13th June, we went ashore at 10.30 a,m, for a route march along the sea beach. The weather was beautiful, and as we are known as the "Cooees" we received plenty of them from the

[Page 21]
Durbanites. The steam dredger took us ashore. Near the entrance to the harbour we saw a Whaling Station, and several large whales hauled up on shore. We marched to the sea beach, and most of the boys had a surf bathe. At 1 p, m, we formed up again and marched through the Town to the Town Hall, where we were dismissed till 10 p, m. The Durban Town Hall is the finest building of its kind in the southern hemisphere. The Rickshaw men made a harvest. There were more troops in Durban (from all parts of the Empire) than the white population of the Town. Regiments from nearly all the Counties of Great Britain were represented. Thousands of the Tommies are there bound for Mesopatamia and German East Africa. After a walk around the Town, Dick and I boarded an electric Tram and went out to Mrs. Harwin's, where we arrived at 4 p, m. They have a beautiful home on the Berea, overlooking the Town. We had a beautiful dinner splendidly served by Kaffir boys dressed in white clothes. After dinner, Mr Harwin (who is one of the finest) took us round to the native Quarters and got several of them to dance for us. I gave them a bit of a Maori Hakka and brought down the house. The Kaffirs were greatly impressed with my size, and told Mr Harwin (in Kaffir) that I was the biggest soldier they had ever seen. As they go in for quantity and not quality, I think I will go back to Africa when this stunt is over, and apply for a job of Kaffir King. We returned to the house, where Mr Harwin supplied us with cigars and cigarettes. Seated on the verandah after dinner, we had a lovely view of Durban , lying below in the dusk of a calm night, twinkling

[Page 22]
twinkling with a thousand lights. The great dark outline of the Bluff rose up on the right, and the long stretch of the Bay and the Point and the horizon was rather felt than seen in the darkness. The air was laden with strange warm scents mingling with our cigars. In such surroundings a feeling of contentment came over us, causing all thoughts of troopships and war to vanish like a bad dream. We cannot express our feelings of gratitude sufficiently for the splendid time this hospitable family gave us. All the gold of the Indies would never repay them for their kindness. Mrs Harwin's eldest daughter (Elsie) is a young lady of about 17 years, who is fond of outdoor exercise, and prefers swimming, riding and shooting, to anything else. The second one (Doris) is a refined young lady about 15 or 16 years, and a splendid pianist. She played the piano for us every evening, although she was suffering from a severe cold and should have been in bed. The others Doreen, Madge, and Jessie, are apparently between twelve and five years of age, and model children. It was a treat to see them go off to bed when told, without a murmur. While there we met Lieut. Fowler (N.Z,T."Dofua", and LT. Taylor, N.Z.T. Pakeha two very fine fellows. We marched down to the wharf and were taken aboard the ship in a Tug, arriving there about midnight. We went alongside the dock at 9 a, m, on the 14th June, and remained there until 2.30 p,m, Sunday, 17th. On the 14th, the "Suffolk" collided with the "Ullysses" and the latter had a hole knocked in her bow. At noon on the 15th one of the Japanese Cruisers put to sea with the "Marathon" "Ascanius" "Tofua" and "Turakina" bound for Cape Town. Each morning we

[Page 23]
we had drill or a route march ashore, and dismissed about 1 p,m, in front of the Town Hall. We visited the Harwin's every day , and on Saturday afternoon we had a game of Tennis, We had a Piccaniny on duty picking up the balls (Tennis de Luxe) At noon on Sunday, 17th, H.I.J.M. Cruiser "Fushima" proceeded to sea, followed by the "Pakeha" "Clan McGilvery" "Suffolk" "Ulysses" "Shropshire" and "Benalla". We got away about 2.30 p,m, and the Cruiser with the first three ships were well out on the horizon by then. A strong wind was blowing and the tow-line parted twice when we were being out from the wharf. Miss Campbell spent the morning throwing oranges and cigarettes up to the boys before leaving. She must have spent several pounds on fruit and smokes. As we were passing the breakwater she stood on a stack of sleepers and flagged a farewell to us. "Bravo Australia", "Keep up the glory of the Anzacs", "Good Luck, come back again". I am enclosing one of her pieces of poetry, and a reply to it written by one of our Artillery men. Everyone had a splendid time in Durban, and we all regretted leaving. The days spent in Durban will be remembered by everyone, as long as they live. Personally I spent one of the most pleasant times of my life. We hopped off at full speed and soon caught up with the first part of the Convoy. We passed them at 6p,m, and raced away for Cape Town at full speed, followed by the "Benalla".
Monday ,18th June. The sea was very rough off the African Coast. We passed a Steamer going north at 10 a,m. The convoy were not in x sight at daylight. We were steaming at full speed through the big seas

[Page 24]
Seas and shipping them continually. At times the waves were as high as the Boat deckX. We were abreast of East London at 9 p,m. The Town was brilliantly lit up, and could be plainly seen.
Tuesday, 19th. Sea very rough, and wind blowing a gale. We passed a Steamer going south at 9 a,m, one going north at 4 p,m, and two at 5.30 p,. The weather cleared towards evening.
Wednesday, 20th. Sea calm again. Sunrise at 7.45 a,m. The submarine Guards spent the day firing at floating bottles for practise. The bottles were thrown over forward, and only two bottles survived. We passed the Cape of Good Hope about 10 p,m. We had to wear lifebelts until the ship entered Port.
Thursday 21st. We sighted Table Mountain at daylight. The sun rose at 5 minutes to 8 oclock. We passed Lion head and entered Table Bay soon after. We went alongside the wharf at 10 a,m. The harbour is very small, and only one vessel can move in it at once. Table Mountain dominates everything. We had a route march through the Town at 1.30 p,m, and were dismissed near the Gardens at 2.30 p,m, and granted leave till 11 p,m. We strolled round the Town and purchased Books of Views. The Town is not too bad, but we liked Durban much better. They have a very fine Pier and some large Business places. We heard that the "Shropshire" had been mined, but denied the rumour. At 11 a.m, the "Ayrshire" pulled out for Australia, with a large number of Australian wounded aboard. We returned to the ship at 11p,m.
Friday, 22nd.Wex left the Docks at 7.30 a,m, and anchored in the Bay.

[Page 25]
Bay. At 11 a,m, the Auxilliary Cruiser "Orama" weighed anchor and instructed us to do likewise. During the morning the Jap. Cruiser with the Ullysses" "Clan McGilvery" and "Suffolk" arrived. They had left Durban about two hours ahead of us, and arrived a day later. This Convoy now consisted of H.M.A.C. "Orama" with H.M.A.T's "Ascanius" "Benalla" "Shropshire" "Marathon" and N.Z.T's "Turakina" and "Tofua". The other ships remained behind and formed ahat was called the 'slow convoy'. The weather was very cold and cloudy. During the night the ship rolled heavily and a stack of plates fell on deck making a L of a row. Someone sleepily asked "is it a torpedo, or only a mine?"
Saturday 23rd. The ships of the convoy are rolling heavily. At breakfast everything slipped off the tables, and the decks looked fine with a mixture of stew, porridge, jam, butter, sugar, etc. The 24th, 25th and 26th were fine with the sea smooth again.
Wednesday 27th. We sighted a strange Steamer on the horizon, port bow. The "Drama" turned and went full speed to investigate. At the same time the convoy turned a point to starboard. The Cruiser looked very fine as she raced through the calm sea, with all her teeth showing. She went out to the horizon and evidently the stranger was O.K. as we soon saw her turn and steam back to her station at the head of the line. The weather is getting much warmer again.
Thursday, 28th. The vessels of the convoy practised with their stern guns. One of our night Orderlies was sleeping aft, and when our 4 in. gun went off, he bounced clean out of his hammock, grabbed his life belt, and bolted for his boat station. He said he thought it was the

[Page 26]
the dinkum oil. On 29th and 30th the weather was very hot, with a calm sea. On the latter day those who were crossing the Line for the first time, were ducked, clothes and all. On Sunday,1st July, at noon. We crossed the Line. We saw a very large shark swallow half a bucket of slops. He came up, turned on his back, swallowed half of the refuse gave a swish of his tale and dived.
Monday, 2nd. We saw thousands of dolphins and flying fish. The "Ascanius" broke line to bury a man who had died the day previous.
Tuesday, 3rd.. The weather was very hot. We saw another large shark. At 7p,m, the convoy turned sharp to starboard, stopped for a few minutes, and then proceeded slowly. I posted No 9 Letter card in Lat. uncertain, and longitude 2 degrees more so.
Wednesday, 4th. We sighted Sierra Leone at 7.30 a,m. We arrived at Freetown, and anchored a mile from the town at 11 a,m. The shore looked beautiful, with the dark green tropical foliage and white houses. Just outside the lighthouse a steamer is on the reef. She is on an even keel, and looks as if she is at anchor. We were told that she had been there for three years, and that is was impossible to float her off. The town is built on a slope of a mountain, and looks pretty from the Bay. The hills are covered with cocoa-nut palms, wild cotton trees, mangoes, etc. The rest of the country is very flat, and full of wild animals. The general told us that a Puma with a cub had been prowling round the Governor's house all night. The only mans of conveyance, is a hammock slung between two poles, and carried on the shoulders of four niggers. The place is very unhealthy for whites

[Page 27]
white men, and has every disease under the sun. yellow jack, malaria, and Typhoid are rampant. The few white men we saw looked as if they had been boiled. On the 5th the Aux'y Cruiser "Mantua" arrived and anchored a 10.a,m. The natives came pout to us in canoes, selling monkeys, bananas, pine apples, mangoes, cocoa nuts, and other fruits.
Fish appeared to be plentiful, and dozens of crabs were seen swimming in the water. H.M.S. "King Alfred" was at anchor near the town. She is a four funnel Cruiser, of the "Drake "type, but more modern. Coal barges were towed alongside, and we started to coal with Welsh steaming coal. The natives did all the coaling, and made a tremendous row. The boys had some fun with them, throwing pennies on to the barge and watching the scramble. Several natives, in canoes, were diving for money, and they were very clever. They would not dive for less than 3d, and we had to hold it up first for them to see it. We covered a penny with silver paper, and a coon thought it was two shillings. We threw it over and he dived for it. When he came up, he used some language in the native lingo, that would no doubt, have shocked us, if we could understand it. On the 5th the "Orama" put to sea, and she looked very fine as she passed us. In the evening a Concert party came aboard from the Garrison. Major A'Beckett, commanding the 50th (white Company ) Royal Garrison Artillery, stationed at Sierra Leone, came aboard with a number of Bombadiers and gunners. We took up a collection for the Freetown Military Hospital afterwards, and realised quite a large sum. Major A'Beckett, (who is a very fine fellow) told us that they received sick men from nearly every Convoy that passed through.

[Page 28]
Through. Troops from Australia and New Zealand bound for England to German East Africa and Mesopatamia, are from time to time sent ashore to the Hospital, and when they are well enough, they are attached to the 50th Company until a Transport arrives to take them on to their unit. Our convoy sent ashore several meningitis cases. In thanking us for the collection, the Major said, "We are very pleased to see many white men, and look forward to the arrival of a convoy." We are not here because we like it, but because someone must look after this outpost of the Empire." "When you are at anchor in the Bay, you see the best of the Town, as it looks very pretty from the Bay; but it is really a rotten place, and is known as ' the white man's grave. They had not seen a potato for months, nor tasted green vegetables since they had been in the territory". "We will look after your sick, and send them forward to join you when they are well". On the 6th a thunder storm burst over the harbour at 7 p,m, and lasted for about an hour. The thunder and lightening was very severe, and the rain came down in sheets. The heat was just as bad five minutes afterwards. It is the rainy season here at present, so it must be rather warm when the summer arrives. We were told that people who peg out here, are supplied with blankets in Hades, because they feel the cold when they arrive there. In the afternoon, some of our men were foolish enough to dive over the stern for a swim. There is an eight knot current running in and out of the Bay, so they were soon being carried away from the ship. One man dived after them when he saw they were in difficulties and

[Page 29]
And the guard threw a life-buoy over board. Sixteen men in a Naval Cutter from H.M.S. " King Alfred" were out for their evening exercise. One of our Officers hailed the Cox' and told him some of our men were in difficulties. It was wonderful to see the way the Jack Tars put on a spurt, and sent the boat through the water, and brought them back to the ship, amidst the cheers of the troops aboard. On Saturday, 7th July, we sent ashore two bags of spuds, some bacon, and a quarter of beef, for the unfortunate X 50th Com'y R.G.A.x, and no doubt they greatly appreciated the donation. At 8 a,m we weighed anchor xxxxxx and left Freetown, after being at anchor xx for three days, during which time we had been stewed, baked, and fried in the (delightful?) climate. We were not sorry to leave the place, and get the sea breeze again. Our Y.M.C.A.rep who had been ashore, said it was just like entering a death stricken place,and that he was glad to get back aboard the ship again. The walls of the Churchs are covered with memorial Tablets to the memory of British Tommies who have died while on the Station. The Aux. Cruiser "Mantua" was now our escort. A week before we arrived, a cargo steamer fought a raider just off the coast, and both of them sank. We saw several large turtles swimming in the calm sea. They looked very peculiar, and swam with their heads under water: only lifting them now and then, to see who we were. All ships were now racing along at full speed. Life belts are now to be kept near us.
Sunday 8th July. At sea. Calm sea, fine hot day. An Order was issued that

[Page 30]
That all bugle Calls would be cancelled after sunset, for the rest of the voyage. We were also notified that if anyone fell overboard the ships would not stop to pick them up. The submarine Guards were ordered to be on duty day and night for the rest of the voyage. Some excitement was caused at 5 p,m. A steamer was sighted on the horizon on a course that would bring her across the bows of the convoy. When she came near us, those aboard evidently found they could not cross our bows, as we were going at 15 knots. She suddenly turned and appeared to be running away. The "Mantua" immediately increased her speed, and signalled her to stop. Those aboard, evidently did not understand the signal, as she kept going, so the "Mantua" raced after her, at about 23 knots, and fired three shots {two across the bow and one over the top of her) in quick succession. The stranger stopped at once, and hoisted the red ensign. The "Mantua" steamed round her, signalling, and evidently the newcomer was O.KX, as the Cruiser resumed her Station. The stranger remained where she was, with her stern pointing to us, until the convoy had passed, then she resumed her course, passing well astern of the "Benalla". The three shots fired by the "Mantua" will cost the stranger 700 pounds in fines (& 100 first shot, 700 pounds second shot, and 400 pounds for the third) No 2 Convoy arrived at Sierra Leone today, with the "Walmer Castle" and "Orontes". News received by wireless from Freetown. We heard that submarines were operating off the Cape de Verde Islands.
Monday,9th July. Steamer sighted at daylight, O.K. Fine hot day. A big school of dolphoins passed between convoy at 12.30 p,m. 10th

[Page 31]
10th and 11th July were fine days, weather getting cooler. One man started a betting book on whether the ships would get torpedoed or not. Betting 3 to I "Shropshire" , 4 to 1 "Tofua",6 to 1 "Benalla", "Ascanius", "Marathon", 10 to 1 "Turakina". Our ship was the favourite for the sinking stakes, she was the largest of the Convoy, and therefore the U boats would know that she would have the largest number of men aboard, and most cargo. The Bookmaker lost.
Thursday, 12th July. Abreast of the Canary Islands at 11 p.m. last night. Past last of groups about 4 a,m, today, about 20 miles away. Several of the guards sighted and reported a Sea-plane at 2 p, m, on south-eastern horizon. The convoy was zigzagging all day.
Friday 13th. Abreast of Azores. Fine day, calm sea. We received second prize for cleanest mess deck of the voyage. C.Deck winner, 99% points. F.Deck (Ours) 97.5%.Hayes and I received 15/- each, as a prize. We were told that owing to our deck being a small one, we were handicapped at the beginning of the voyage, otherwise we would have been first. The winning deck had 50 Mess orderlies (Hayes and I) and the prize worked out 15/- per man, so we did not squeak. About 2 p,m, we sighted a whale on the port side. When we altered our course in the zigzag, the "Benalla" saw it and thought it was a submarine. She immediately went full speed at it, blowing short blasts on the whistle, calling all hands to their boat stations. When she was almost on top if it, they found out their mistake, and returned to the convoy. She was known as The Whaler aboard our ship afterwards.

[Page 32]
Sunday.15th. Fine day. Smooth sea. Thick fog came on after midday. We were three days sail direct from New York. All day we kept a good lookout for sub's, as we were passing through the prohibited area. We sighted a large whale at 11 a,m.
Monday ,17th.Dull day. Thick fog, calm sea. We sighted a ship in full sail, at 9 a,m, she soon disappeared in the fog. About noon a school of whales cake between the convoy. They were quite close, and we could plainly hear the water being ejected from their blow-holes. Every one was asking for the "Benalla". At 20 minutes to 3 p,m, a Destroyer came out of the fog. Our Lookout at the mast head saw her at the same time as the submarine Guard. She must have seen us at the same time, as they had scarcely hailed the Bridge, when w got three flashes from her Morse. Our Escort placed herself between the Destroyer and the convoy in case of accidents, but she proved to be the Flotilla Leader sent out to escort us into port. We sighted five others in quick succession, tearing along through the sea. They were only seven minutes late at the appointed place, which was a smart piece of navigation, considering the fact that, for over two days, there had been a thick fog, and the sun had not been seen during that time. The navy lived up to its reputation for smartness, as they apparently found us as easily as if the appointment had been made at the corner

[Page 33]
Corner of George and King Streets. They raced up, turned smartly in their own length, and took up positions round the convoy. They are all numbered on the bow, and appear to be of the latest class. We could see 85, 56, 48, 62, and 27.
Wednesday, 18th. Dull foggy day with rough sea. All our boats that had been lowered to the level of the decks on leaving Sierra Leone, were now swung loose, and ropes lowered over the side, every foot, with a Jacob's Ladder every three or four feet. We had picked up an S.O.S. signal the night before, and the "Mantua" with two T.B.D's had gone ahead. At 3 p,m, a submarine bobbed up between us and the "Torua". The N. Zealander let fly with her stern gun, and T.P.D. No 56 turned in her own length, and raced straight at it, doing over 40 knots, and firing her Bow gun. The second shot knocked the top off the Conning tower, and the sub sank. The destroyer circled round the spot for a while, and then signalled to the Convoy to resume zigzagging. When the Sub was first sighted, the starboard convoy turned to Starboard and raced off at 17 knots, we turned to port and did likewise. We don’t wonder at the german fleet running away from the British Navy, because we only saw two units using their guns I anger and going at full speed, and if they had been coming at s like that, we would have hopped it and beaten all records aver any distance. Soon after we had resumed our stations, we passed floating hatches and wreckage of all kinds. We sighted a floating Lifeboat, and a Destroyer went over and had a look at it. The T.B.D.'s are wonderful little craft, and as handy as a Motor Boat. They are as inquisitive as a monkey, and run

[Page 34]
About like a dog let off the chain. One minute they will be doing 5 knots, and the next 25, or if they are in a hurry 46 knots. At 5 p,m, we passed a floating body dressed in dungaree shorts and flannel shirt. A short time later we passed the body of a Nurse on a raft. And at intervals three other men, all with life belts, but either drowned or dead from exposure. We heard from one of our Signallers that the Hospital Ship "Karoola" had been sank about 20 hours previously. Some say the submarine the Destroyer sank earlier in the day, was most likely the one that did the trick. If so, we hope they are now grilling on a red hot fire. Most of the men began to realise that there was really a war on, although it did no seem to worry them much. Some of them wanted to exchange their lifebelts for a box of matches, as they said, that after what they had seen, the former were only a nuisance, while they had been short of matches since leaving Sierra Leone. Any way I am sure if any of the "Shropshire" boys get near Fritz, here will be a new face in Hades almost immediately. In the evening we had a concert, as we expected to arrive in port the next say, (U.Boats and other circumstances permitting). Our O.C. (Major Clay) No 2 Sea Transport Section, paid us a visit, and presented prizes for chess, draughts, dominoes, euchre, and Relay races. We had held the competitions during the voyage, and the finals had taken place the day before. He said (after he had presented the prizes to the winners) "I wish to congratulate you on the work you have done on the voyage." "In my report to the O.C. at Parkhouse Camp, I have said, that every man has worked exceptionally

[Page 35]
Well under very trying circumstances………We have beds on board for 65 patients, but since leaving Cape Town mumps broke out, and we have averaged 98 Patients. … The Patients were slung in hammocks over the beds. …I have had nine trips since I first took command of the Second Sea Transport Section, and I have never had so many Patients, nor have the A.M.C. been worked as hard as you have, … We are facing dangers now, and you will no doubt face greater dangers in France, but if you give the same satisfaction in the future, as you have given on board this XXXX ship, you will have done more than will be expected of you, … I may have found fault with you at times, but not often, and no man would be worthy of the rank I hold , if he did not do so, …I wish you all God -speed and a safe return….I hope to have you all under my command when you are returning to Australia. …Goodbye". We had a very good concert, and found some really good talent among the members of the detail. We closed just before the Last Post with the National Anthem. We were ordered to sleep fully dressed, and in our lifebelts. All the patients in the hospital were also dressed and their lifebelts placed close handy, in case of emergencies. About 2 a,m, on the 19th July, we passed Lizard Light, and soon after the lights of Falmouth were seen. At 5 a,m, we were off Eddystone Lighthouse. I got up about then and went outside. The first thing I saw was the Lighthouse. I recognised by the pictures I had seen of it, with the stump of the old one alongside it. The whole ocean was alive with Destroyers and Steam Drifters. They seemed to be everywhere, and were buzzing about

[Page 36]
About like hornets. At 6.30 a,m we anchored in Plymouth Sound, and prepared to disembark almost immediately. The fog lifted just before we entered the harbour, and we had a fine view of the coast. There does not appear to be any rocks or cliffs like the Australian coast but the red clay covered with green grass runs right down to the water's edge. Just opposite the breakwater is Plymouth Hoe, where Drake played his famous game of Bowls He was not playing the day we arrived, so we did not see him. No doubt, Saturday afternoon would be the best day to catch him. We landed at Devonport (Gt Western Railway Docks) at 11 a,m, and entrained for Tidmouth, Salisburty Plains. As we passed through the railway stations and towns near Devonport, hundreds of women and girls waved flags and handkerchiefs to us. Very soon we were travelling through beautiful fields surrounded by green hedges. It was a beautiful fine day, and the country was looking its best. We crossed numbers of streams with quaint stone bridges spanning them here and there. In the country parts of Australia they talk in miles, here it is acres. After seeing the miles of wheat paddocks between Sydney and Melbourne, with their post and rail fences stretching away as far as the eye could reach, the small fields surrounded with hawthorne and honeysuckle hedges, looked strange. The country looked like a huge tiled verandah. We saw field after field of wheat and oats, with thousands of red poppies growing amongst the ripening grain. Everywhere women were working in the fields, and they all stopped to wave hoes, aprons, etc, and we yelled cooees until our voices refused to act. Men were only seen at rare intervals

[Page 37]
Intervals, and they were old Hayseeds. We began to realise the price Blighty was paying in this war. Along the railway line, in the property of the Railway CO'y, we saw miles of potatoes, worzels, and scarlet runners growing. Every available yard of soil appears to be under cultivation. Intense culture is the order of the day, And so we raced ob through Devon, the birthplace of men who have made England and her Navy what it is today. We gazed on country familiar to such men as Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Richard Grenville, Drake, Frobisher, etc., now the home of men and women the descendants of such men and their followers, who are true to type. We crossed to Somerset where we saw some very fine cattle and sheep, also similar green fields, thatched roofed houses, and running streams, that we had seen in Devon. We ran out along the sea coast for awhile, and saw hundreds of children paddling in the water. They all waved hats, spades, and buckets to us, as we went by. We turned again inland, and soon pulled up at Exeter, where the Mayoress supplied us with hot tea and long currant bun, brown in colour, that tasted very good. The boys had great fun with the girls and boys selling chocolates and cigarettes on the Station. The Zomerzet dialect amused them and our chaps pretended to be very dense, so that Billy-boy would have to make lengthy explanations about the price etc, of everything. All the boys and girls appeared to us to be brothers and sisters. They all had the same fat apple cheeks, and wore almost the same clothes. We entrained again, and travelled on through Somerset and entered the County of Wiltshire. It was now about 5 oclock and we saw dozens of women and girls in the fields seated on

[Page 38]
On stools milking cows. Some of our chaps said that when they did any milking in Australia, they had to put the darn cow in the bails and see that she was well legroped in. If they wandered pout into the paddock and tried to do any milking with the first cow they met, there would soon be a mixture of cow, bucket, stool and man, that would take some sorting out. We arrived at Tidmouth about 7 p,m and disentrained. We formedup and started on a five mile march to camp. The roads were well made, and were flanked by high hedges of hawthorn, with chestnut trees loaded with nuts, overhanging from each side. We soon realised what the famous "Green lanes of England" really were. There were no footpaths, but the sides of the roads at the foot of the hedges, were lined with red poppies, buttercups, daisies, and clover, that eclipsed anything we had seen previously. We marched into Parkhouse No 2 Training Camp about 8.30, very tired and hungry. After seeing the O.CX, we were allotted to tents, and given tea. The sun sets here about 9.30 p,m, and then we have several hours of twilight. One of the first men we met on arrival, was Bill Ransley, and he was very pleased to see us. Hillcoat and the others have gone over to France. They did not expect us to be here very long, as they are very short of A.M.C. men in France at present. They are not sending men who are over 40 years of age, so Bill R. has to stop in England. The boys under 19 years are also being kept on this side until they reach that age. There are about 300 of them in camp here, from all units, and a bigger set of young larrikins never lived. Some of them have done good work at the front

[Page 39]
Front, and had about two years active service, but the majority of them will be ruined for life, and will make very bad citizens. They are outlaws in every sence of the word.

This closes the account of the voyage from Port Melbourne to Parkhouse Camp. We had many very pleasant experiences and some unpleasant ones. We all consider that we are lucky to arrive here safely, and have a very great admiration for the British Navy. People in Australia do not realise its power and strength, nor the very great work it is daily doing. They do not know the admiration the South Africans have for Australia and Australians. In Durban we were told that Australia had done more than her share, and that her troops in France were marvels.

In Cape Town a young lady said "Goodness me,!!! Are there any men left in Australia". The "Shropshire" was one of the most comfortable ships I have ever been in, and on leaving her, we gave the ship, skipper, and the bos'n (a splendid type of fast disappearing British Sea-dog, and a favourite of all) three hearty cheers.

I hope you received the letters I posted in Africa, and if this one does not reach you, let me know.

Trusting all are quite well, with love to all
Yours etc
NO 17032
Pte W.G.Bowler,
1st Australian Field Ambulance
1st Australian Division
Australian Imperial Forces

[Transcribed by Betty Smith for the State Library of New South Wales]