Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Cicognani diary, 1 November 1914-September 1915
Private Harry Claude Cicognani (originally from Gulgong) enlisted in the 1st Field Ambulance at the age of 26 and embarked from Australia on 19 October 1914. His diary commences from Sunday 25 April 1915 when he landed on Gallipoli. Most of the diary covers his experiences in Gallipoli and gives quite graphic descriptions of caring for the wounded in the midst of the fighting. On Page 62 he notes, "Afterwards as a Prisoner of War" and from September 1915 he recounts the remainder of his time in Gallipoli and after Christmas 1915 he details his time in camp in Cairo, which he found most interesting, and some brief notes of being on Lemnos Island. He proceeded to France in June 1916 and was captured by the Germans at Mouquet Farm in August 1916 and interned at Dulmen in Germany. However, he was reported as transferred to Holland in February 1918 and arrived in England later that month. He rejoined the 13th field Ambulance and remained in England until he returned to Australia, disembarking at Melbourne for Sydney on 26 November 1918 and was discharged on 16 May 1920]
75 Carabella St.
1st Field Amb.
From Sunday 25th April (1st day at Gallip.).
Landed Gallipoli on Sunday 25th April 1915 under heavy fire from rifle & shrapnel per one of HMS destroyers. Almost immediate destruction to all concerned. Landing under a mountain (5.00) an immediate bayonet charge drove the Turks to opposite ridge, where shrapnel, machine guns and rifles dropped our boys like flies. The German officer commanding Turks urged them on to make noises & utter shouts of derision at us. Their favourite was suggestive of Jack Johnson & his ringside traddle & started "Come on Kangaroo" & ended in a series of "Allahs". The losses on our side were enormous and it was feared our advance would be nil owing to insufficient forces, & on Monday 26.4.1915 in the early hours of morning when we were lined up to go aboard ship our hopes were a good deal dashed. We dragged on until daylight & with the sun our hopes rose again & we once more got moving. This day was heavy, too, the wounded from previous days having to be found & brought in the day as ever memorable, & the person who sits quietly at home imagining the Red Cross doing his work miles behind the firing lines is a sadly mistaken person. Our poor lads left their bodies mingled with the dead & dying on the first line of fire. Where our boys suffered mostly was in exposed parts, hill tops, etc., where wounded mostly lay & had to be gathered from. Turks hidden in secluded spots found our stretcher parties easy marks & with shrapnel overhead our work was far from bright. My own personal feelings are still vivid & my first wild rush in company with comrades among
fallen comrades, attending wounds at the double, whilst hail & lead fell almost incessantly, will ever remain imprinted on my memory. I was horribly disturbed the first day while undergoing my baptism of fire & was hourly expecting my call, but thank the Heavens it wasnt my turn. (Reference Majors Irvine & Bridges). Place yourself a young, healthy person, full of life, thrust among carnage & ruin Picture your thoughts Our guns gave me fearful frights each explosion Big Lizzie especially, with her 15 inch guns cause a terrific recoil & explosion I thought, as I sat crouched on a hilltop dodging shrapnel, & her shells flying low over our heads. Deaths Gully was awful on Sunday & we greatly feared land mines above all things. The carnage here was terrific & here our 3rd lost practically a whole section. Other regiments were greatly cut up here and one hillside trench containing two regiments originally were reduced to six & five respectively. Here, also all that remained of one company was Lieut. A--. Also here Surgeon Capt. Bean was wounded & higher again all my C.T.A. friends. Today at 1 a.m. (3rd day) we were hurriedly called to scour for wounded about the third ridge over, occupied by the 4th Battalion. "What a night" tramping through mud up & over your knees, every nerve strung to concert pitch on the watch for snipers. Probably a good deal of our nerves were due to want of sleep which had been denied us for three nights. I managed today a good stretch of sleep (4th day) & already feel a good deal better, also some quinine & a dope of
whiskey (looted). No mistake it makes a big difference & helps one along to a large extent. The enemy got one of our trawlers today, owing to unexploded shrapnel, but no lives. The vessel was beached & is no danger. Today is very quiet (5 day) & things generally are on the recede. We removed into another set of dugouts to make room for reinforcements. All news is good too: French on one wing & Tommy on the other. We occupy the centre position for which the Turks are struggling hard to regain (more notes, general position & why it was vacated) (trenches & barbed entanglements on beach front). Had a swim today & changed over sox (first 3 weeks), the old Mediterranean is the same here as elsewhere shingle beach, etc., which we found very hard to walk on.
Dugouts & daily menus occupy a good amount of attention. The chief form & most enjoyable food is a stew prepared of "Bully" (tinned meat) hard biscuits, & oxo, a kind of beef tea extract. Splendid result. Fried bully & cheese & the old favourite jam. Today is May 1st 1915 & the seventh day of conflict. I woke to glorious sound of gun fire & cannon roar which showed the day was going to be a fast one, nor were we mistaken, for it proved a strenuous one indeed. Old Lizzie steamed up opposite a dismantled fort & after plomping a couple of shells (1 ton each) across to the narrows from her 15 inch guns dropped quietly down stream & away. I think the Goebin [Goeben] is supposed to be sheltering behind Fort Maidos, & our guns are trying to do her some damage there. I must add her guns are very distracting to us on the beach as they
almost invariably wait until we commence our cooking before showering in the shrapnel. The naval marines relieved our boys in the trenches on the right wing but did not do
any so very good although no doubt we were glad of their help. A very large number were wounded in the head, probably due to curiosity. A humorous thing here today is the disregard shown by our men for Turk shells. You see them in constant use for cooking as they provide excellent fire brands. Also when 18 lb. shells burst in vicinity of camp area & bury in the ground an immediate scramble is made by our boys to get them out with pick & shovels. Snipers are the one thing we mostly dread just now as they are safely ensconsed away in almost impossible places on the lookout for defenceless & wounded soldiers our boys organize search parties & prod & search every bush & they have met with great success. The bag for today was fifteen & among the number were two Turkish women in our Australian uniform. Lucky it was for them that we discovered their sex in time as a rule short shift is usually made of this type. One fiend we caught in ambush with 3000 rounds of ammunition and a fortnights rations. It isnt as if they confine themselves to the fighting forces alone because on several occasions they have been observed shooting our wounded through the brains as they lay helpless on the field. The Red Cross bearers lose a large number of their members likewise.
Continue from Xmas Card enclosed, 2/5/1915.
Sunday again (8th day of fight.)
Big gun fight has been in progress since early morn & in the distance can be heard the large guns of the British squadron some miles down the peninsula south of observation station Kabe Tepe.
The roar of guns is terrific & the contrast from our position of a few days ago is pronounced.
Today our Naval Corp sent across to the north end of peninsula small body of men to destroy an observation post which was doing a deal of good to the enemy gunners. The raid was successful as I noted a large number of prisoners at the H.Q. & also a number were killed.
The big 11 inch guns of the Goebin are still active & throw great projectiles right across the peninsula at our transports all to no purpose our life appears to be charmed & our luck everlasting. In the field out beyond the 7th battalion I came on an awful looking trench caused through one of these shells falling short & exploding under ground. It easily would bury three men comfortably Here also a number of graves show the last resting place of a company of infantry.
Yesterday the 3rd May 1915 broke fast & furious. We awoke with the din of battle in our ears & after our frugal meal the work of day commenced in earnest. My path that day took me in to "Deaths Valley" (so named on account of the number of dead lying therein) & I might add I didnt feel too comfy considering a sniper was taking various shots. The weather was hot & the stench from dead animals & probably humans was terrific. I had recourse to Sal volatile throughout the day as my nerves were a little erratic & the continual bang of the mountain guns four in number at close quarters did not improve a very bad head I was suffering from. Our boys suffered rather roughly throughout the morning, one being killed outright & four others being wounded. The lad killed was bending over a wounded comrade at the time he was shot down. The shrapnel fire was heavy too, & numerous 6 inch shells found their way there also. I think the enemy have the range of this particular gully to a nicety & probably they are aware that the road is largely used for transport.
Kabe Tepe was assulted by a landing party but above hearing
we had lost six men & a number wounded the ultimate result is unknown to me. Our three destroyers continued to keep up the fire on the fort for quite a long while & the earth in the immediate vicinity was not visible for quite a period. Possibly the enemy here have subterranean
change passages into which to get during the onslaught of our guns as we dont appear to lessen their numbers.
We advanced during the night & captured the lagoon which is part of our way towards 981 but at a great loss. The Naval Corp dont appear to be up to our standard as far as physique & stamina is concerned & possibly they are in reality raw recruits with broken hearts from heavy training undergone in Egypt.
We have had rather a set back on the left wing through the finding of a spy in our midst. He occupied the rank of Corporal in the battalion & was found with incriminating evidence & a secret code book in his possession. Needless to say his exit was rather hurried.
Tonight as I lay on the crest of a rugged hill top & gaze out
to sea I wonder how it was our boys ever got a landing here at all. The place needs no fortifying & how myriads of Turks ever allowed our paltry few to rush at them & effect what they did will always remain a mystery. The charge was magnificient & will always stir the hearts of a few who were compulsory onlookers. One very humorous incident is worth recalling. One huge bush man hopped into his middle in water & without waiting to fire at the foe made a dash at a fat Turk with his bayonet. The Turk who looked an easy capture, wheeled and made off over a steep hill towards his comrades. Our big fellow, now thoroughly aroused went after him but without avail. The ponderous Turk managed to keep a good two inches between himself & the knife notwithstanding the efforts of our boy to string him on the end. The relative positions were kept until they both dropped out of sight over the crest into the enemies lines.
One Naval officer in expressing an opinion remarked that he had seen Irishmen, Indian, Scots & Ghurkas charge, but for him
7/5/1915 (12th day)
the Australians They go mad. (12th day) Things generally have been very quiet except at odd moments when an exchange of shells serve as a reminder that the war is still in progress. Today whilst preparing midday meal a battery of the enemy got our range splendidly. For a quarter of an hour it was duck all the time as the shrapnel came across like hail. A few of our men were wounded slightly but my sorrow was for the poor horses 14 of which had to be destroyed owing to injuries. I counted 18 shots fired at a landing stage, where pontoons were berthed, & only three succeeded in touching the vessels. The funny thing in connection with this bombardment was, a number of men were inside the pontoon employed in various ways when the first shot struck & the various methods of coming ashore were indeed comical notwithstanding the gravity of the situation. I invited a fellow comrade to share my dug out with me, & in jocular tone was discussing the plomping of the shells out yonder. He remarked that he preferred to being alive, a coward, than dead, a hero that was why he sought my hospitality. It was obvious that he was going to get a whack because a splinter off a bursting shell, over in the
valley came in through our only entrance & caught him on the fleshy portion of the leg. I might add he occupied the central position which was the least conspicuous. The 2nd Brigade of Infantry moved off last night to Port Helles with the object of driving the Turks foward, also to give the French a helping hand. I do not know if the information is strictly correct, as information regarding movement of troops is more or less subject to alteration at any moment. The common rumour current is that the old brigade is after Kabe Tepe which is a very active observation station of the enemy. I hardly think this correct because yesterday morn a number of men attempted a landing &
whe were given a rough handling by a number of invisible machine guns planted in them on the headland somewhere. Seven were killed outright & a good number wounded. Our hydro plane has endeavoured to locate the position at various times but without success. Great excitement prevailed along this particular beach this morning when a horseman was observed advancing towards our camp with a very large handkerchief in the air; the token of surrender. It proved to be a Turkish officer who showed evidence of a very rough time & his own statement proved that such was the case.
Through an interpreter he gave us news of the enemies guns & observation posts, which probably will be investigated by the proper authorities. The man himself was almost distracted through water supplies being short in his particular Corp, & his horse was so famished for drink that immediately he came on the sand & within range of the ocean he ran foward & drank immense quantities of the briny fluid. During my brief stretch of writing this portion of my diary I
was am compelled to seek hurried shelter from shrapnel fire which has been raking this beach throughout the day with dire results to a number of our lads. Just as present moment a great rush is being made with trenching tools at renovating worn out dugouts. A few casaulities casualties almost always awakes a few of the slumberers & makes quite active members of them for a few hours. I am afraid my memory is a little deficient at present moment, probably the memory of shell fire has not quite gone out. Once more peace & quietness reigns, but for how long? I have an alnight job in the trenches tonight which I am looking foward to, as I consider the trenches more sheltered than our own particular camp. The night was quiet, especially on our wing, & the trenches were given over entirely to the Sappers who had a busy night of it.
The Artillery had a night too limbering guns practically the whole night & preparing gun pits. One poor fellow lost his life early in the morning through a fall of earth in one of the pits, & an officer was shot through the forearm. The night was awfully cold & to me trying to get warm doing nothing the morning was a positive relief. The weather remains perfect hot days with cool nights & no pest in the shape of mosquitoes. We are more or less bothered with other vermin though, which causes a good deal of unnecessary words, also a large amount of scratching. Grovelling in the dirt, & mud stains also go unheeded, & as regards shaving, well most of the boys in our Corp are cultivating both beard & moustache. My own experience at shaving was very painful & is not likely to be repeated often. With a fortnights growth of stubble to practice on, an old safety razor with blades used several dozen times & a mirror an inch in dimensions I started in to make facial improvements with dire results to the face. The process demands too many precious minutes to be a pleasure & it would hardly be fair to classify it a duty. We have just received news through of a very grand victory by Russia over
the Turks at the other end of the Dardenelles. I hope it is true because many weeks hanging on as we are compelled to do makes life rather drab & uninteresting. One thing I must comment on which rather astonishes me & also everyone else who happens to be observant The amount & quality of the food supplies in comparion with the same supplied us, both at Sydney & Cairo. Here we get an allowance of bacon, onions, & potatoes for brekker each morning, an unheard of proceeding at either of the camps mentioned. Such things as rum, lime juice, & PURE unadulterated tea are luxuries after the concoctions served out in peace camps. If I was vindicative I should say that the Army quartermasters must do an amount of tampering, if not they, then it must occur down at the contracting stores. I have just received word through of the death of Captain Bage [Edward Frederick Robert (Bob) Bage] of the Engrs. He was with Doctor Mawson of Antartic fame, before coming away with us & a favourite with most of his company. With our officers we are a good deal unfortunate, most of the Head Quarter staff have met a soldiers grave & it certainly looks black for the remaining numbers.
Salonica Tobacco Co.
Opera Sq., Cairo
The day is Sunday once again & the commencement of our third week, 9/5/1915, in arms against the Turks. Things are not as bright as of yore owing to our camp having been located by a Turkish battery on the right flank and at a distance less than a mile. As they are able to observe the result of their fire & their observation station being under our nose the damage they do is immense. After each successive battering our chaps dig for their lives, & as it is really necessary it doesnt cause as much merriment as in former days. One of my dug out friends took occasion this morning to thoroughly renovate his person & removed all his clothes & placed them in a position above his head.
(Continued on back page.)
(Continued from front page.)
Almost simultaneously a shrapnel burst above his place of abode, completely wrecking the entire wardrobe. Shirt, trousers, leggings, etc., were entirely ruined & his neighbours below suffered almost as heavy as he did. Higher along a complete shell entered the apartment occupied by four boys without hurting any of them, but needless to say their exit into fresh quarters were hurried.
Daily we have a list of killed & wounded, the result of this one battery & what makes us more savage is that the elevation is such that our naval guns cannot reach it: their shells reach above & below, but not right on the spot. The 9th battalion who occupy this extreme wing suffered rather heavily yesterday as a result of a prolonged attack from this handful of danger. What made it doubly bad was the position of the dressing station it appeared to be entirely on the way of bursting shells.
out of bounds
officer eating of tureen.
To prove such was the case three stretcher bearers remained intact out of seventeen & a wounded man awaiting treatment there was shattered to fragments. I saw the case as it awaited removal for burial. Arms, legs, fingers, etc., were absolutely shapeless, & ten minutes previously this was a man one of my own comrades. I concluded on joining this Corp that my nerves were sufficient to stand any strain but this here kind of work reduces even the iron nerves of the respective heads. Even as I lay writing these few words my humble abode is shaken by repeated concussions above & all sort of reptile life seek the seclusion of its depths whether for safety or my company I cannot say.
We have been experiencing a new form of danger from within the lines of our own men too mysterious explosions of ammunition have occurred at various times during the night. Several deaths have occurred from this new weapon of destruction.
We have a remarkable person in our company who perpetually does the wrong thing in times when the right is absolutely necessary. One of his latest escapades is very humorous, & rich in mirth. Exploring the hills at the back of our camp he came across an unexploded shell from a 4.7 gun.
Continued at Back of book.
(Continued from front of book)
He carried it into camp in his arms and immediately became the cynosure of all eyes. Finally becoming possessed of a grand idea what must he do but lump it to Generals H tent, probably while that worthy was enjoying a cup of tea. He began by explaining his errand but the General & his staff, with forcible language drove him away from their domincile. He approached the region of the Artillery C.O. but that gentleman hearing a gentle ticking sound coming from the region of the shell did not wait for the parson to sketch his idea, but promptly sank the shell in many feet of water before any damage resulted. Probably the idea trying to be so vainly urged on the heads was in some way connected with the reports current that Headquarters required shells & heads of shells to enable them detect how far away the guns were by the time indictated. It is merciful that the shell did not explode whilst undergoing the handling otherwise a good many of us would have laughed our last. Shrapnel fire still continues to play the chief part of our days outing & its deadliness is almost monotony. Our boys seem to be unfortunate in picking up the strong ammunition but on the
whole we are extremely lucky. Our poor old camp suffers the indignities of shell fire every morning & all the resistance we can offer is to whirl our camp chattels in defiance & shout "Sieder". Our camp is being removed today to make room for a battery of four guns whose object is to destroy the opposing guns our tomentors - & the sooner such is done the more comfortable our digs will be. The new ones (quarters) which we are occuping are far from being pleasant as we are bombarded on two sides instead of one. Today 13/5/1915 is the eighteenth day of campaign & the same old story to relate once again. Artillery fire is our chief menance & supplies the largest proportion of our wounded. We cannot help but report two or three daily killed by shrapnel fire & the daily monotony is well nigh heart breaking. Yesterday sheltering with General B- in a disused dug out I gathered from stray pars that headquarters were going to get busy & do some wholesale damage. I only hope it is soon. Tis remarkable how all ranks assemble close in to mother earth during shell fire Generals, Colonels, Privates, all the same, & such things as parade grounds & social destinations are all forgotten in the new game of war. In conversation with the gunners at No. 8 Battery where I was stationed yesterday they do some
remarkable feats with their guns. One lot hooked on to a couple of guns & ran it a matter of forty yards in front of our trenches & "Bang" "Bang" before the startled enemy had any notion of anything being wrong an enfilading fire into their trenches at point blank range filled their trenches with dead & dying. The scene I believe was horrible, arms, leg, & mutilated pieces of human form were flying at ease for quite a number of seconds.
I believe word must have reached the base because in the evening we received a visit from General B- who evidently discredited the performance. One man in giving details to the Heads, using his own phrases, describing the act as revolver practice, reacted the event substituting a different position for the guns. Immediately the detonation subsided a fusillade of machine gun & rifle fire poured into the spot occupied by our guns on the initial tryout showing that the Turks evidently thought that we would repeat operations from the one spot always. Equally well planned & acts of heroism daily occur without even a thought to the danger. Another form of warfare practiced by both sides & with equal results is the throwing of hand grenades. These murderous missiles do an immense amount of damage in the trenches, especially if they alight
in the midst of a number of men. Our locally made grenades are very dangerous, especially to the opposition. They are usually made of the enemies ammunition, spliced into squares, pieces of old shells, shrapnel pellets which probably have shot many of our comrades, in fact anything at all likely to be useful for disabling. The whole are placed in an ordinary jam tin with a certain amount of gelagnite & then lighted by a time fuse & thrown foward. We have evidence of the damage done by these missiles daily & during the past days our lads have organized raids on the enemies trenches with good results. This morning I was at work behind No. 8 Battery when I heard the familiar "Cuckoo" "Cuckoo" of a couple of birds who were hopping from branch to branch in the trees behind the entrenchment. It reminded very forcible of my old bed-sitting apartment back in the sunny south & my first greeting on awaking from the old dutch clocks on the opposite wall. It is beautiful spring now & everything is so nice & bright that it is awfully hard to believe we are at war & in danger at every possible step. The birds twitter & fly about as of old & the different coloured shrubs are beginning to peep through in various parts; all in conjunction
with the golden sunshine make life one grand long day we awaken from our dreams & realize our position when a heap of soldiers are suddenly thrust up from the trenches & descend on us for medical aid & comfort. The badly wounded are hurried off to the clearance hospital & from there on to the hospital ship probably from there to Alexandria or Lemnos. The poor men who sacrifice their lives go to form part of the great burial grounds which greet one at every turn. Friday the 15th May 1915 & the 21st of our flare up We are extraordinarily cheerful & happy & full of life that one would imagine us all assembled for a school treat instead of our original assembly. I have taken a new mate into my dug out & right royal we live together. He is possessed of a very genial disposition which was just the reverse of my last collegue. As a forrager for edibles he certainly takes a place up on top. Our larder will never remain empty long if he can manage to keep alive to fill it. Probably at this very moment he is out on a tour of inspection with a definite view later. Our old friend shrapnel is giving us pepper once again but where as before we cowered & crouched for shelter nowadays we sit & count the number of shots fired & comment on the accuracy of the shooting. Today we were given a rather grand exhibition of gun fire
with our punts for the targets. We had the satisfaction of seeing two disappear below the water line but on the whole we were extremely lucky considering the number of shots fired. Our luck was dead out some few days ago when a whole shell went through our reserve water boat & completely sank the whole outfit. We do not often lose our water in this way but stores on the beach are more or less damaged by the shell fire. Things in the ordinary way are quiet though & few casualties have occured in the trenches. I spent a very happy half hour in the Sea of Marmora Agean this afternoon & contemplate doing likewise each evening while the spasm of quietness reigns. The people who grouch & complain at the various watering places would do well to visit our out of season hamlet. With one eye on the distant hilltop awaiting the smoke from the gun & our ear strained for the report we have our fun & the records created when our water is bespattered with pellets would beat any previous existing one if we only could find a timekeeper. On the whole it is much more comfy than dodging sharks on the east coast of Australia or alligators in Northern Queensland. I awoke this morning feeling rather uncomfortable & not without cause. I found a bullet had passed
through our water tin, then on a downward course through a sheet we had keeping the dew off our august persons & finally brought up in the opposite wall. Luckily our water tank was at a low ebb otherwise our sleep would have been rather the reverse to comfortable. I notice on looking out to sea all our transports have moved on towards Lemnos probably to shelter behind the mines there. A rumour is afloat that the Turks have succeeded in getting a number of submarines overland to our side of the ocean. No doubt this is the real reason of the departure of our fleet of transports. Our hydro is also missing during the past few days & over yonder is a strange black balloon which is reported to belonging Captain Penfold, the well known aeronaut from Clontarf, Sydney. We are all in great glee tonight owing to an issue of everything clean in the clothes line. Everything from hats to socks are being issued so we shall all be clean & sweet again presently. We have been reinforced by the Light Horse (unmounted) & I can assure you they do cut comical figures as Infantry men but on the actual field of battle their efforts at keeping the enemy back are just as superior as our own. Things still continue to go the pace in our
new home & notwithstanding it is our 23rd day 18/5/1915 in the trenches we all continue to remain cheerful. Our daily duel is still in progress & a few poor fellows pay the penalty each day so it is with great hope that the addition of two howitzers to our flanks are looked foward to. The boys in the various trenches as they pass to & from their respective posts stop to pat the muzzles of these instruments of destruction. They evidently look on the guns to give them relief from the rigors of shrapnel & well they might. General Bridges had the bad luck to receive a thigh wound from a wandering bullet up in Shrapnel Valley on Sunday & it is rumoured that amputation is to follow; also a Major from Headquarters was shot dead yesterday on the beach. Also the same gun played havoc on a party of swimmers who were sporting in the briny. Two boys who came out of the trenches for a wash & a salt water bath were so horribly mutilated that it was a wonder they were so distinguishable. A very pathetic incident occured during the afternoon which impressed me very much indeed. Two little donkeys who probably had never so much feed in their lives were gambolling & browsing on the side of the valley adjoining our camp they were very docile & quite
pets & expected a good deal of patting from the lads. Without any warning a shell burst overhead & our two dumb pets had fallen victims to the scourge. We all felt more or less sorry but what is the use of sorrow here when with each gun flash
you might all might be hurried into eternity.
I was in conversation today with an engineer who does a good deal of solitary scouting over Kabe Tepe direction. His talk was very descriptive & full of interest throughout. He informed me of a good deal of the methods employed by the Turks over yonder, also of their substitute for sentries; Approaching a low shrub hilltop through an open field he was suddenly arrested by the baying of dogs close at hand. Getting on hands & knees he investigated & found a number of dogs chained & at intervals apart. Almost immediate three or more machine guns played into the low shrub beyond the clearing & death was handy for anyone who ventured to get upright. Luckily no one else being present the casualty list was nil. The idea is very fair as it saves the man from the cold, also allowing a larger scope for sleep which is absolutely essential on this life. The gullies & water courses higher along reek with the smell of gasoline & the
water on being boiled throw to the surface a very thick oily scum. Probably this particular peninsula abounds in mineral wealth; if it were worked thoroughly, possibly another oil field of large dimensions would be open to the public. The 2nd Brigade arrived home yesterday & were met on arrival by a volley from both of the enemy batteries right & left For a matter of half an hour or more volley after volley poured down on the destroyer containing the troops and it was considered a wise proceeding to go beyond range & temporarily abandon the landing. Eventually a landing was effected & then we discovered the thinned ranks & absent faces. I believe in the short time they were absent their casualty list ran to 1100. The point on which they landed was open to fire from the guns of the Turks & in addition they were handicapped by barbed entanglement which ran in the water to the depth of ten feet. On landing a charge was ordered & their advance was increased one & a half miles. Here further progress was stayed by the hill side trenches of the enemy & a formidable array of machine guns one officer estimated 200 or more - & as our men were alone the Terriers occupied the rear, our losses were severe. Nevertheless they continued to hold on to the possy but were unable
to make further progress owing to insufficient numbers. I think the object of their visit here was to endeavour to force an opening per medium of the bayonet. This point was the centre of a large fort which has long since been demolished by our naval guns; also a village is situated hereabouts but the last view I had of this particular hamlet was when it was in flames from "Big Lizzies" sudden stops; but the chief point at present is the dislodging of the Turk from this stronghold as it entails the commanding of the entire peninsula once we get our guns on this hilltop the possibilities are that we shall be in Constantinople within a fortnight. Considerable excitement prevails today owing to the sudden cessation of the Turkish guns (18.5.15). It certainly feels strange to have absolute silence from this quarter, & various suggestions are offered by the various officers & men at this strange act. Probably it may be a rush, or exhaustion of ammunition; then again the observation may have received intelligence of our late arrivals the howitzers - & probably are changing over into safer quarters - The latter is the more feasible. During the morning a flock of storks flew over the trenches & the silence was broken by the crack, crack, of numerous rifles which were turned for the moment
from the Turk onto the flying birds. Only two managed to fall in our lines & were immediately picked up & laid by for use. My comrade over the way was a lucky number & he & his staff have been busy during the afternoon plucking & otherwise preparing the bird for the pot. I am in hopes of being a guest for dinner at his dugout tonight, provided the Turkey is produced. Another & more animated scene prevails near the canteen. The home mail has arrived & during the sorting period a crowd always assembles in hopes of news. The soldier is always busy with his news bag on this event full day & must on no occasion be disturbed in his lair. After a day it might be wise to approach & request the loan of various reading material & thus the various contributions go the rounds. It is a generous feeling & provides good comradeship as many a poor chap gets neither letter or paper & to them mail day is neither a pleasure or otherwise. Our good luck appears phenomenal today as we also have an issue of cigarettes, matches, and tobacco. As these are absolute essential & luxury, you can imagine our feeling at receiving such a collection of godsends all in the one day.
Today I have been wondering at the silence shown by the enemy, notwithstanding most stinging fire from our various guns & I think I remarked a few pages back at the various guessing by our corp as to the ultimate result. It came tonight & rather briskly. A note was thrust into one of the trenches presumedly by their aeroplane & it called us some unwholesome names & said we were going to be pushed over into the sea.
It transpires that their reserves (2 divisions) were rushed across & thrown at our trenches "en masse". Their artillery had been silent throughout the whole day & for a good cause. Everyone of their guns had been changed & planted afresh. Whilst awaiting orders for our usual night round we received a most awful surprise a concussion shell broke through our excellent shelter & took a dive, as we all did, into the earth. From then, a little before 7 p.m. until 8 p.m. they went at it like hell let loose, & it must not be supposed our guns were idle; they were doing their part only we couldnt see the result of their fire. All throughout the night (19/5/15) the Turks kept coming up & were mown down, again & again, & considering all, we lost comparatively few men from their rifle fire. At times it was necessary to leave the trenches & rush them back otherwise they would have been too close to be healthy but our men worked without orders with the bayonet & it soon told on these mass rushes. At daybreak
our Squards which had occupied the post all night commenced the removal of wounded to the beach for treatment.
I had a man with particles of his own brain bespattering his own coat to get away. We endeavoured a rush but unfortunately their artillery came into life again, it being fairly light & our troubles soon commenced. My own case occupied a good part of the morning & at times I did not dare hope for the patient or myself. Taking cover from a salvo of shells I found things very terse & to make things more difficult my patient had become delirous. He attempted rising & had a tendency to stand upright just when shrapnel was thickest. This caused renewed bleeding & whilst endeavouring to hold him on the stretcher & bandage his head afresh, four shells burst through the earth above & landed in an adjacent bank of earth. The explosion was awful & both our bodies were freely covered with torn earth. I believe one of my comrades, beneath whose dugout I was reposing was completely covered with dirt in addition to having the top of his lair removed. It is awful to realise what would have been the fate of the unfortunate youth had this shell gone two feet below. I saw a donkey in two halves, torn thus by a shell & it is hard to imagine we two likewise. During a lull we attempted
a move & got into the Army Service supply depot, where we took refuge for a long period from shell & shrapnel. It was indeed horrible sitting behind a few paltry bags of bran & sudden death. We were liberally covered from time to time with torn up turf & rebounding pellets from the shrapnel & at times the entire shell itself whizzed at our feet. At this juncture a good many of the serious cases had died & had to be left until such time as a burial could be arranged. A good deal of wounded men were dressed en route to the hospital & even there it was quite the reverse from safety. A sad thing occured in Death Gully during this sharp scrap a bearer who had been doing immense work since our initial landing, & who I believe was recommended for the D.S.M. medal was bringing in wounded per medium of a donkey when he came into range of a hostile machine gun & in one minute all his good work was at an end. Numerous courageous deeds were enacted throughout the day & the attack lasted until early evening when our boys sallied forth once more in search of wounded. This morning (20/5/15) we were up on the right wing where things were fairly quiet. A large number of wounded Turks were treated & dispatched to the Beach hospital. Many were ill clad & in
dire straits, & the scene forward of the trenches were not very pleasant. Dead men were everywhere & some who had been dead & unburied some time were beginning to smell beyond relating. The Turks again attempted a charge, this time on the left, but our own lads by now were quite tired of the "Allah" cry & gave them all they wanted in lead & steel. I believe the slaughter was immense our guns throughout the night firing shrapnel & star shells with good result, the latter shell illuminating the sky & providing better light for the rifle fire. Today (21st May 1915) our scouts reported a white flag in motion over beyond Kabe Tepe but no attention beyond closer observation was paid, as we dont altogether trust the opposition with the production of this emblem. As it still continued to fly an interpreter & headquarter staff officer proceeded along towards the observation station & met the envoy who proved to be an officer of high rank. Personal survey of this particular officer surprised me. The men for the most part look rather ragged & ill cared for, but this head was rather the reverse. Sleek looking & well clad even though in action a month even the boots had been well cleaned that day & special attention had been paid the head & face. While the conference proceeded I took advantage of the
calm to have a good swim out to sea. Eventually the two reps. proceeded to H.Qs. to talk it over & later per destroyer to one of the Admirals ships & when I left at 6 p.m. for duty behind No. 8 battery the conference was still unfinished. The night proved quiet & nothing sensational occurred. This morning the white flag incident again occupied the morning session & quiet reigns supreme. I wonder if it means submission. The result is eagerly awaited. Meanwhile we are engaged watching the manouvres of the various sea craft which certainly are varied, also interesting. The destroyers are steaming left in a series of circles & moving at a great speed; the battleships are slowly steaming right & the various transports & similar craft are going right out away from land. Whether submarines are in the vicinity I cannot tell but it certainly breeds suspicion. Another of our little dangers which provoke terror & mirth at the one time, comes from the air. My first experience of this type of death happened whilst sheltering from shrapnel behind the supplies. Hearing two awful explosions quite close by & not hearing the usual warning hiss a good many heads turned skyward to observe a "Taube" aeroplane poised above. A mild panic ensued but
I, not knowing whether our aerial friend was really the danger his work seemed to convey calmly remained behind the shelter provided by a huge stack of bran. Occasionally a shell bursting in the vicinity would scatter a whole bag over our heads, but that was considered nothing compared to ourselves. I am afraid a good number imagined themselves in various portions doing the aerial trip, but luckily none became actual fact.
Meanwhile our friend, the taube, still circled over our heads but I preferred to be comparatively safe where I was than seeking a fresh cover under shrapnel. You see I knew the dangers of the latter & had yet to learn the respective claims of the former. I had an opportunity the next day of witnessing a bomb from the clouds & the amount of damage it could do provided it falls correctly. It was from the heights of the right wing that I saw the actuality & right glad I was that the distance separating us was some miles. The general report current this morning is to the effect that General Bridges is dead, whether from the effects of a wound received some days back, or otherwise I cant say. Have since ascertained his death was due to shock following amputation. We are all greatly distressed at the loss of so remarkable
a chief. I see the white flag incident is being revived this morning 24/5/15 & the Turkish officer who was responsible for the past two days white flag manouvres is once more in the fray.
I believe the terms for surrender are "The removal of troops from Gallipoli & the free passage for merchant ships through the Dardanelles. This hardly suited us considering the number of casualties our side received in effecting a landing. Our reply was "unconditional surrender" but to a request asking for an armistice to bury their dead, a time was agreed on which enabled that gruesome work being carried out. Monday the (25th of May 1915) from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m. we were at peace with all & sundry; it rained throughout the morning but we were all cheerful & got out in front of the trenches in search of possible wounded, while the camp pioneers buried the dead in & around our trenches. It was a sight the mingling of the "Cross" & the Crescent. Huge crowds of Turks were engaged in the horrible task of burying their dead & how horrible a task it was can be gleaned when hundreds of these bodies had been lying a month or more where they had fallen. I went for a tour whilst things were quiet in & around the various trenches. Stepping
abruptly from the entrenchment of the 2nd Battalion I almost immediately walked on a body, blackened & unrecognisable. The set expression of horror which remained where the face should have been & the various mutilations probably due to shell fire during our various engagements will always remain a fixture on my memory. Nearby lay a Sergeant who evidently was shot whilst taking cover as portion of his head was missing, & then one encountered two, three, & even dozens laying in heaps, all decomposed & falling into bits.
It was quite impossible to think of removing the remains so a grave or trench was hastily constructed at the side of each body & then same was shoveled in. I noted each man had a great liking for smoke whilst engaged in this unpleasant task & personally I smoked over a dozen cigarettes which had the effect of lessening the odour which surrounded us that day. Towards midday several of our lads made friendly overtures towards the Turks who reciprocated when they discovered we werent cannibals as they had been led to suppose. Quite friendly groups were formed & exchanges were numerous one of our lads today is exhibiting curious numerals &
war like gear which he had given in exchange for some Australian curios. The Turkish cigarettes were smoked by a good number & possibly a good number of "Flags" were given to the members of the "Crescent". Meanwhile the work of burying the dead still progressed & the number of Turkish dead who had to be interred still remained very large. I left the group to whom I had attached myself & thought it hard that in a few hours all friendly bouts would cease & shot & shrapnel would once more be predominant, but such is the fate, or I should say, the situation. Most of our lads took advantage of the lull & put the day in the ocean bathing. Towards 2 p.m. the sandy stretch of beach reminded one of Cronulla or Maroubra so numerous were the bathers & as the day advanced it became so thick I had grave fears of the trenches in case of treachery. Towards four word was passed around & on the stroke of four excepting for those on duty, the men were all back at their respective posts, awaiting Mr. Turk as a foe. During the day a few Turks hopped across to our side & promptly surrendered having had sufficient of the war.
Tuesday the 26th inst. (26.5.1915) broke calm & peaceful & we who were resting kicked off our clothes & turned in for some slumber. About 12.30 p.m. our attention was directed seaward & there a most pitiful sight rewarded us for our look. Our own ship "H.M.S. Triumph" was in difficulties having been torpedoed by a German submarine. All eyes were directed toward the rare sight & our hearts were full of sorrow for the souls aboard. For a few minutes she lay over on her starboard then completed a full tilt & remained thus bottom upwards for quite a while. Then with a swirl & a rush all that we observed of a once mighty ship was a few bubbles where the final plunge had been taken. Even as I write I cannot believe that I actually witnessed the sinking of a battleship; it was so unreal & not like one is expected to see either pictured or described. The actual sinking occupied only ten & half minutes so I dont know how the men fared who were aboard. Rumour said over a hundred lost their lives but as no offical roll call has been listed it is impossible to attest any number. The scene in & around the spot today is alive with small craft &
destroyers are circling with the hopes of capturing this scourge in our midst. The Triumph before sinking let her bow guns at some object close by & unoffically it is believed accounted for her assasin. We have reason to believe that in the first instance there were two Austrian & one German submarine so at present two of these terrors are at large in our midst. All shipping is being transferred across to the island west of the peninsula, which has the protection of a sand bank across its frontage & where the presence of submarines would be easily detected. It was feared tonight that an attack would be made on our right flank as suspicious movements on the part of the enemy pointed to such occurring. As this flank is flanked by the sea it was thought that the easy cover of the sea shore would attract the opposition now the main defender was missing.
We wheeled one of our 18 pounders to the beach & prepared for fun, but nothing excepting bombs & rifle fire disturbed the peace of the
island peninsula. Today was much the same, shrapnel taking the leading part: the hunt still continues for the missing submarines
but so far have heard nothing of their capture. The destroyers are busily engaged bringing troops ashore, who are singing Tipperary notwithstanding shrapnel is falling all around them.
A rather sharp attack was made early last night (28.5.15) to penertrate our lines on the left flank & with temporary success. A portion of the trenches were sapped by the Turks & charged with gun cotton an explosion occurred & our men had to retreat into the rear trenches, the enemy in close pursuit. When they got nicely settled & were swarming our firing lines the order was reversed & the retreat was transformed into a charge with fixed bayonets - & Australians pushing them foward. A wild melee ensued in which the enemy were forced to evacuate the ground already gained by them & scamper back to their own trenches post haste. I believe great slaughter prevailed & a number of Turks were captured. Meanwhile operations on the right wing were brisk & up to a late hour the destroyer there, in lieu of battleship barked fiercely throughout the night. The enemy manouvered with the beach as their objective but the 4.7 in. guns manned by the tars completely overwhelmed them causing them to fly in all directions. A move was made towards Kabe Tepe & its environments but was spotted by the destroyer who backed out with all lights extinguished & as
promptly rushed inshore under cover of darkness & gave the fleeing Turks an absolute salvo of shrapnel completely demoralizing them. During the lull a party consisting of eighty volunteers hopped across into the trench where the remaining Turks were in shelter & drove them to join their comrades. In the early hours of morning a big artillery duel progressed & during this bombardment another of our Red Cross members was shot dead with shrapnel shell. It is horrible to lose your comrades so sudden but in war it must be born silently. I had the opportunity of witnessing a pathetic side of the Hindoo life during the morning & it made me almost as bad as the sufferer. One of these brave men was completely shattered by shrapnel while serving the guns on the hilltop & when his brother viewed the remains prior to being led away by his comrades the grief & sorrow exhibited by all was indeed terrible. To see the two sides of these warriors what a contrast. Today Sunday (30/5/15) & the fifth week of "Trench town" we experienced another rush on the left & a murderous fire from the opposition guns but I have not heard of the extent of damage done.
We had a novelty in the way of bread for dinner today & it tasted mighty good after five weeks spell. One of our boys gave a sailor a
few shells he had found laying in & out of our camp & received a great surprise when the Tar handed him out bread. I wont describe the taste. Today is Friday & the fortieth of our occupation here. Down south the big guns from the various war craft are bombarding the hills on which the enemy are entrenched & the rumbling reminds one of distant thunder. I believe they are going to endeavour to mine this particular hill because it is the key to Constantinople as far as the land troops are concerned & with its fall depends our hopes of going further north. Our own particular position is almost still this day but as this generally denotes fierce fighting & night attacks our reserves are all placed for the occasion. I took the opportunity of looking over the various burial grounds this afternoon & was visibly impressed with the increased number of graves. A good many by now have head boards & the various men undertake to carve the necessary formula & also add verse, etc., some of which are indeed queer & also tend towards giving the reader fits of queerness. I quote one as an example:
"Remember me as you pass near
As you are now, was I,
As I am now so may you be
Prepare yourself to follow me.
A very ugly accident happened on this wing (right) last night and in view of the ugly rumours afloat re traitors, etc., it gives one a certain uneasiness when our huge guns belch forth fire & steel towards the enemy over our heads. The gun was fired & almost simultaneously lodged behind our right flank killing two outright & maiming fourteen. For the moment it caused a stir but gradually filed down when it was observed how the accident occurred. An inquiry is to be held but of course as in all army & navy mishaps results will not be known for months. We were provided a little novelty by our aero during the present week. Every time he ascends, eager eyes watch his progress through space & when the pyschological (??) moment arrives (the dropping of bombs) glasses & telescopes follow its supposed course until the explosion tells of more death & disaster to the unfortunates who happened to be in the way at the time. The machine hovered over our heads & then began the usual circle which precedes the bomb dropping. (The circling is identical with the habitual round & round method which the North American Indians employ when attacking) & then to our
amazement instead of one, there were three or more bombs descending. Judge our surprise too, when after the usual elapse, no bang, bang, rewarded our listening. It transpired later that our bombs were bundles of pamphlets (in Turkish) telling the Turks that the stories told them of us mostly were fictitious & our being fancy butchers & cannibals were "all my eye". The German officers had them nicely tutored re us we are supposed to be savages of the worst type: We drink the salt sea waves without any trouble & at a pinch eat the dead. Now we know why the prisoners had the terrified look about their features especially when we clustered around his person. Another said he & his comrades had read the aerial dodgers but were afraid to approach our lines if they came unarmed their comrades shot them down & if they brought their arms we did likewise. Our soldiers have been informed to use great discretion when a number of the enemy approach with the evident intention of surrendering.
I note that the stretcher bearers of the various Red Cross Corps were mentioned in despatches for their good work during the early stages of occupation. It is very nice to know your work is observed by the
various C.O. but a great number unfortunately, will never know of their achievements having many weeks back gone to a soldiers grave.
A good number of days have gone since last I wrote but as a repetition of many days havoc would be constantly on the screen I have given myself a short rest with the hopes of better results. I made a sojourn through the various trench villages & was much impressed with the various improvements, especially on the R.U.W. Here after clambering through yards & yards of sun baked chambers I finally found myself in a disused sap which soon led me into an underground apartment, bomb, shell, & bullet proof it also had the great advantage of being cool & airy. The same style of trenches I believe were used by the Japanese in their war with Russia. Proceeding leisurely foward you meet alternatively steps which enable you to peer over into the enemies quarters also man, or air-holes. The boys on duty here were as happy as the proverbial "Larry" & as the Engrs. were still engaged continuing the work foward of original lines we shall have soon something quite important to guard on this wing. Today the fifty second of our life in Eden & the 15/6/15 ordinarily finds us in a peaceful mood & wondering how things will go on this anniversary
of Waterloo & the answer came in a rather startling manner. Towards evening a large cask was observed floating towards our portion of the beach & eyes innumerable were glued on it for Ill chance hours - On its arrival a few attempted a roll in but its weight was too much for the few, so willing helpers were reinforced from a camp of Engrs. on the spot. It evidently was wreakage from the French Battleship Bouvert which was sank in the Dnelles in early April. On smashing in the top a delightful aroma floated upwards & the yells of joy or excitement, were too loud for words. I never saw such enthusiasm manifested by the army Meds. for weeks & it was shared alike by all concerned. The contents of our huge hogshead was wine claret - & our water bags & bottles kept a jingling for a whole hour & the event closed down sharp when soldiers from other valleys came at the double for a wee drop of the red fluid. It got too dense to be comfy & as more kegs kept arriving & the crowd on the beach kept massing it was deemed prudent to smash the kegs & allow the contents to surfeit the ground. You could never forget the expressions of disgust which sprang into every face
when the broaching was fully realized & to a commercial world person it seemed an act of extravagance to allow gallon after gallon of good wine to run to waste when a little tact & common sense would have served to convert the
goods waste into useful comforts for the men who probably would have appreciated that tact in months to come. Things continue to still remain in a quiet mood, & the only thing of importance is the large gun duels which shake & quiver my poor old dugout almost to bits salvoes & tons of shells are weekly expended from the various batteries on land & sea. We had a quiver of excitement during the present week when a party of infantry met & advanced across the intervening space into the next gully in front of the right wing & about on a level with a knoll facing Kabe Tepe & straight direct from Hellie Point. I witnessed the departure of the various companies who in addition to arms bore picks & shovels for trench digging. It promised to be a sharp attack but it enventuated into nothing more than an ordinary midnight sap & by morning sufficient earth had been removed to make things fairly comfortable. The following night the same event happened so we have now in our possession more trench & closer contact
with brother Turk. An occasional picket fight is enacted in this region during night sessions but no serious damage has resulted. We have during the past few days been reinforced by a battery of Glasgow howitzers which are to be used against the Turks on the lucky day which is now close & ere the week has elapsed another attack equally as sharp as the initial one may be recorded. I hear the men are having an issue of iron rations which usually precedes an advance & the amount issued on this occasion is for three days so a sharp time is expected. The howitzers are being placed in the gully below the right wing so things soon will be dead ripe. A Turkish battery amost faces us & the fire from its guns are very vivid especially towards dusk. Further on towards Achi Babe a battery of six guns raise hell & as these batteries all concentrate their fire on the one point, i.e., the beach, you can imagine the damage done after a quarter hours quick fire. A good many of us still find the time for swimming in the surf & as the days now are very hot & the flies almost plague you to distraction the water is the only real haven of peace we know of. Our old
friend shrapnel worries us occasionally & oft times wings or kills a number of our unit but still in comparison it is very mild. We have another worry which tends towards irritation these hot days our regular C.O. is superseded by a bright young member of the medical fraternity whose one fault is spontaneous out bursts of energy. A shrapnel swept patch of countryside almost square & flat, has suggested to his energetic mind an ideal parade ground & here daily some of we poor unfortunates are dragged to master the intricacies of form fours etc. No doubt we should welcome this diversion but generally we dont & possibly when some unfortunate man is sacrificed the administeration will give orders for the closing of this particular playground.
Today is Wednesday, nothing much doing excepting a rather heavy ocean swell from the west & a very wild accompanying wind which appears to be doing great damage on the beach. Barges, punts, & small craft are being flung on the pebbles & among the stores of the Army Service. At intervals men are observed mooching along with pieces of boat & punt which comes in handy for fuel. I am taking the opportunity of having a real surf no sham
whilst the swell continues to roll in. We have now arrived to the centre of 1915 (July 1) & still remain in our subterranean home, without much chance of changing. It makes an ideal prehistoric picture but when you do it for three months without a break it gets a trifle slow. We had a little break from trench warfare on the 28th ult. Word came, as also did action, that the corp down south were trying a foward move & asked for our co-operation. That morning I was attached behind the 10th battalion & was interested in the actions of the Scottish Battery who were having a try out with their howitzers at short range. Their elevation was rather low & it was rather dangerous to show on the sky line owing to the shells just skimming over the top. Things were going very well when we were all littered with shrapnel owing to a premature burst from one of our field guns on the hill opposite & just as we were nicely settled again, the fourth shot from the howitzer buried itself in the hilltop under the Q.M. Store. Just imagine a five inch shell containing lyddite smashing into a house & doing no damage you have an example - here, the only bad result was a soldier
shooting himself through fright & another chap getting buried owing to the heaped up dirt from the shell. In the afternoon two companies went out to the hillside occupied by the enemy & gave them rather a bad scare. That morning the Turks sent proclamations across into our trenchs offering us good times provided we came across & joined them they knew we were only hired soldiers & also that the British had deserted us & they had cut off our provisions & water & we had no
more hope of getting more. We were offered nice things in Constantinople & I was sorely tempted to go, but as no provision was made concerning a harem I was relutantly compelled to remain & live with my comrades on ham & baked beans with wine. The navy guns & land batteries belched forth flame & shell & a good old time was going on down Achi Babi way. A number of Turkish reinforcements attempted to go below to the assistance of Achi Babi but were cut up by the score & our own men hopped out & made things buzz temporarily. We had work galore & were kept going till near on midnight when we were glad to fall down & sleep even as we were Casualties on
our side reach 250 & further down they amounted to 2000. Things are much the same as ever & today is the (70) seventieth day of our occupation. I havent been half as energetic as of old partly due to the severe heat & also to a feeling of lassitude due to patient swatting in a confined area. The Turks appear to be awfully busy in the region of Achi Babe & probably before long our eyes &
eg ears will be alive to moving forms & gun roars. A Turks gun managed to hit a French ammunition magazine which disappeared in smoke some two hundred feet in the air. It caused a very spectacular scene & was admired by a wondering crowd who never doubted for one moment it was John Turks effects going in the air instead of our Allies. Luckily no one was hurt & no more premature bursts occured to mar the day. The conditions for fighting during the day are awfully rotten the heat is so intense & in consquence the scrapping is left entirely to the big guns. They roar & appear to be doing great works but as we dont see results, we are inclined to think poorly of them. The Turkish guns
especially "Beachy Bill" make a great impression on us & causes profound respect from all classes. I witnessed a very sad spectacle yesterday (8/7/15) which is quite a common incident in the daily routine here. The enemy, per medium of their eighteen pound guns, situated in the olive grove behind Kabe Tepe, opened fire & after raking the beach, transferred their shooting on to a camp of Engrs. near Shrapnel Gully. The shots, which tore over our heads, lobbed with great force & precision among the men & it wasnt long ere a good number were wounded. It was sickening to watch percussion shells tear great holes in the earth & catch some helpless unfortunate in his dugout & lift him out bodily. The last shot burst close in to earth & lifted one man fully five feet in the air & foward. He fell, probably mangled, as a frog would into water & apparently quite dead.
The war is still in progress here altho the calendar is getting on to August. Our men are forever bringing guns & ammunition to our portion of the beach the right
was must be a fortress ere now in addition to field guns & mountain
is are to my knowledge a dozen or more howitzers, five & six inch calibre, also a large 4.7 in. gun (a Long Tom from Ladysmith) occupies a prominent position near Burgesses battery. We should be able to do anything at all soon. The turk aeroplane made an early morning visit on Friday (16/7/15) & I guess received quite a scare when he observed our Long Tom looking up towards him. The Taube dropped four bombs in the vicinity without any damage being done, owing to non-explosion. The same afternoon was rather a gloomy one in our midst owing to the death of our Sergeant from shrapnel fire. Poor chap, he was due for a commission & was looking foward to a good opening when his call came. The same afternoon saw Major C. of the 11th go out to shrapnel. I still manage to get a swim before breakfast, altho at times it gets one into difficulties. Yesterday, whilst doing my duck alone, a single shell burst overhead & treading water to observe the better, I got a momentary scare to hear the shell case fall in the water nearby my clothes. A solitary man standing on the shore got hit on the foot. The night previous, the lads
swimming from Watsons Pier, in Anzac Cove were not so fortunate; as a shell fell among them, killing & maiming some half dozen. A young medico from Dunaedoo [Dunedoo?] had both his legs blown off & another was similarly placed, only higher up.
Fishing is one of the chief items indulged by the troops. Owing to snipers getting busy among the beach dawdlers, lines & nets have been discarded & in lieu of them hand grenades are used. You watch a shoal of fish approach & when they get in fairly close to shore, "whiz" "bang", & when the water gets quiet you swim out & pick up your fish. Fish-ball, pancake, & rice for breakker is fairly decent, even if a little out of ordinary.
Tis a long time since last I entered in my memoirs & to a sunbaked youth sitting in a square hole month after month even writing becomes distasteful. It is now 115 days since I landed on this lump of land & about five months since we left civilization behind. Swimming & bed are the only joys of life we taste & they are at times dangerous owing to heavy guns & the constant danger of gases. We all have respirators, both mask & hood, so we are well provided
against this rotten stuff. The days are still hot & sultry & bad smells from the dead almost take ones breath away. Our old donkey has given birth to a lovely little baby donkey & its antics are watched by all with great glee. It is marvellous how it survives the shot & shell which daily goes across the plain on which these animals graze. We are at last on to something definite & we hope it may mean finish to this campaign here. Everything is astir & general bustle is the order of the day. Iron rations are being taken up behind the trenches & rest houses for the wounded are springing up everywhere. A general attack is being launched all along our lines & our boys are all alive to a good amount of killing, etc. August 6th, Friday & a day prior to our own gentle surprise, the Turks on our right wing attempted a bomb charge on a trench we had captured a week previously at a loss of a hundred men they gained their objective temporarily but the Turks who gained the trenches never got back to their lines again. I saw three go along as prisoners & a whole heap more piled dead in a corner nearby. Their own field guns killed them in our trenches & altho the scrapping continued throughout the day the casualties were not too numerous considering all things.
our work was very heavy & we were glad of an hours respite to get cool. Our work during this attack was right on the new firing line & it was all the more heavy owing to heavy shrapnel fire & piles of dead which had to be trampled over before we gained cover. A kindly sergeant seeing our plight dragged a heap of dead Turks & piled them on the parapet. In the afternoon we were placed up Shrapnel Gully, so called because it rains death & disaster each bombardment. Twas here the Greeks lost 70000 of their men during their war against Achi Babi & we also have a lot of our men buried here. At 5.30 p.m. our field & navy guns commenced the action & the Turks replied with howitzer shells & bombs. Our position was a long way from comfortable & when the football species of bombs came over & tore great holes in the earth & covered us completely with wet earth we felt far from content. Even when death is hurled at you with great velocity humorous incidents creep in & make life happy for one, even if the next moment is death. A young chap during this Artillery duel was laboring up the roadway with a biscuit tin filled with water. Almost opposite us he got talking with some of
his comrades when without warning a football came in the roadway in front of the four & tore the roadway right across. Altho the men were enveloped in dust & remained so for several seconds the only damage sustained was the loss of the water & tin which were blown beyond recall.
We lost our first man at 9.30 p.m. through shrapnel & a section of Red Cross workers below us were less fortunate their losses amounting to a squad. The firing line was very thick with wounded & dead & as we continued to advance the wounded simply swarmed in on us. We worked 24 hours without a spell & then had a short rest & worked again till nightfall. During the night huge transports discharged thousands of men on our left & as these kept a running fire on the Turks retiring our section were able to capture over four miles of extra fronting. Hill 961. our objective, was taken by the Australians & N.Zs. but owing to the supports being unsatisfactory were unable to hold on. Our casualties still continue to pour in & I believe number something like 8000 This does not include the dead who lie in the valleys & on the side of hills. The captured trenches are
very deep & no shrapnel could possibly reach the men there. I suppose the depth of these gullies are at least 15 feet, possibly 20 feet, & are screened from aerial observation by top covering. The men firing are above the bottom of the trench & rest on little niches attached to the wall. At present the trenches are almost impossible owing to stench & lime is freely sprinkled with a view to lessening the smell without effect though.
The Gallipoli during the present weeks has sprung from a mountain hamlet into a very large city. I think at present we must have over a hundred thousand men in & around the hillsides, so the Turk over distant brow aught to be severely alarmed. I dont know what quality of fighter the newcomer is certainly, according to report, he is going to give such a stir up the Turks will sue for peace almost immediate. The weather conditions remain ideal & we have nothing worse than a camp full of sick men to worry us. God knows, its time our chaps had a mouthful of relief this is our nineteenth week of constant under fire" & when the men south go out for fortnightly spells & we hear of our comrades in France going home for weekends, well it
makes one sit up & think. Things generally on the left are very brisk & each day sees a fresh skirmish in the region of 971 or the "chess board". News though is very hard to glean & altho we are to & fro, our men rarely pick up any first hand news of importance.
Afterwards as a Prisoner of War this is written.
September, & ensuing months have passed & sickness & disease have most of us waylaid snow & ice greet us now & in such mountaineous country no shelter is offered us.
Fighting, eternal fighting still occupy those who are able to carry on mostly everyone is frost bitten & unfit, & in addition the sea is against any decent landing which means supplies are below par.
The guns are hoary with frost & a number of men were drowned in the trenches
during the wintry conditions. K of K has visited us he says
get, & we are getting soon. The evacuation is a reality & after Xmas 1915, Gallipoli will be no more, excepting the dead, who will continue to mount guard on the various hilltops
Meanwhile sunny Egypt awaits us with its delights & I meet you there under more charming surroundings.
Mote it Be [In ancient times this meant, "The Will of God be done", as a replacement for Amen.]
[This page presumably Arabic writing - has not been transcribed.]
orr sit down
Kili come in
shee get up
hemshee) go away
di la we ya come with me
ad nacoee give eat
Kob by it myer give water
Sab a ruper 7.15
Lla dut na sider? good night
arak side? Good morning
Fe nus e til plenty people
mus Ieyes go
Ri fin were go
Ke tap book
Kili Isrup Come drink
Kilas Khilas finis
Rhu go on
Zi ak enter How do you do
dory go street
dour dohr noon
sugal sughl trees
tily a bint come on girl
tily ya bugy beugy come on carriage
shi malik? you left
Educ il e min you go right
ge ribe geral nearer
is muc a ak name
be at too far
Ad wa et give me one
k a deur too much
Bor nota hat
a Sirr stick
Zhak eta Jacket
man ta loon trouser
Gise mar Boots
ma et house
La dut sider Good night
ah fronte miss
[Arabic writing not transcribed.]
moosh Ruices no good
Quas a tel Very good
Zhar rubick B.S.
mifish Feloose no got money
Daher Street No. 36
Camos Island. Buller the regimental R.M.C. mess. Fruit each meal
bag sugar mystery
"City of Benares", Nuts & Fig, Beans, Forecastle
Fall off propeller in shaft well.
Lemous Isle 17th April. Landed.
Cognac natives Flowers & colour, all hues flowers meet myriads Greeks. Soil granite ridges granite outcrop Field geometrical order In distance Snow clad Quaint & numerous windmills Remind Don Quix natives Common greed Harbor trips Queen Elizabeth Askol Russia
5 funnel aircraft submarines
Toulon bunch eat green threw white away -
1st Circle of Irrigation
Public Works Ministry
Ely Cyrops [?] Ullyses isle near.
Eggs a cook Egyptian mail up to S.
Australia very good, very nice N.Z. misquis
Cake, Cairo, Cake Nestlet chocolate oranges three for half.
Reference March 1st Life
April 24th 15 eve of attack on Turks at Dardanels everything & everyone full of life & joyful at turn of events Wonders what the morrow is bringing forth.
21 Barakat St
handkerchief mush war
good morning Bon jour
Good Evening Bon Syer (swar)
Good night Bon noee
How do you do Kommon savah
Thanks very good mersi beann
Breakfast (Dase shar ee) (Dajsshurnee)
today O shour duee
tomorrow der mah
after tomorrow aprθs du man
Suit of clothes Abbe
Vest zhee lay
Collar four coll
herne urn 2 dur
3 toorwar 4 cutr
5 sank 6 seis
7 set 8 weit
9 nuff 10 deiss
11 onz 12 dous
13 triez 14 cut oarz
15 canz 16 sez
18) deiss weit
19) deiss nuff
50 sam cont
Extract Dairy on route
Cairo, Egypt mostly.
Since last month have completely changed our surroundings. From a sea of water we have been transferred to a sea of sand. We are now camping on the desert under the shade of the great pyramid "Knut or Gizeh" near the village of Mena.
We arrived at Alexandria on Dec. 3rd & were put on a train at 9 a.m. reached Cairo 2 p.m., had a piece of bread & cheese & half a cup of cocoa supplied to each man: loaded our baggage on to trolley cars & left at 5 p.m. for Mena which is 10 miles away. By the time we had our baggage into camp it was 8 p.m.
We rolled up in our blankets & slept in the open on the sand. A heavy dew fell, which made our blankets quite wet. They never get rain here; the dews which fall wet the ground as though a heavy fall of rain had taken place. At Alexandria we were not allowed leave (We had it though) but on some of the other boats leave was given to a number of men. There was quite a number of German boats in habour; they had been captured since the war commenced.
The approach to Alexandria by sea is very pretty. The land is low & sandy. The city stretches for about 9 miles along the sea front. There is a fine light house
many large buildings & minarets, also a fine breakwater. The entrance is only large enough for one large steamer to pass in at a time. The harbor was full of shipping. A tug boat took up to one of the piers. Immediately a crowd of small girls (beads) & boys (wallet) also a number of men of all shades of blackness, gathered. There
are were coal black Soudanese, nut brown Arabians, & light brown Egyptians. The Australian children are usually about when there is anything to see, but they are not in it with the kiddies here. The black policeman would stand & rave at them till he was white in the face, then he would chase them, & with his cane whack a few dozen, but they were at the side of the boat again before he had turned his back. They had small baskets, & were selling oranges, matches, cigarettes, etc., & collecting old clothes, shoes, or anything that was thrown to them. Everyone smokes cigarettes here.
On the road to Mena is a beautiful white building, with green shrubs, & iron railing fence. One would take it for a wealthy gentlemans residence, but it is a cigarette factory.
Oranges, very thin-skinned & delightful flavour may be purchased at four or two for a ½ piastre (1Όd.) according to the knowledge of purchaser. Right facing the entrance is the summer palace of the
(Part 3) Gallipoli incidents
Khedive; it is a beautiful residence, of all white stone.
We left Alexandria at 9 a.m. The country we passed through was so novel, so utterly different from anything Australian. There are groves of date palms & cultivated fields both sides of the line from Alexandria right up to Cairo. The waters of the Nile have been taken by irrigation channels all through this district, with the result that the desert has been made to blossom like the rose in actual fact. They grow sugar, rice, clover, maize, & all kinds of vegetables in great quantities. We saw the people returning to their homes, as it was evidently a market day. In many instances they would have a camel, a couple of donkeys (homas) two or three oxen with two humps, a few sheep & goats, all in one herd with the whole family mixed up between.
Children are very plentiful in this country. Some little nigs are black as soot: real water-melon eaters, grinning from ear to ear. I saw two camels with
a family on board. There was a man on the first, a goat in a pannier on front of him, & he was nursing a kid. On the second camel his mother & wife, with three children were seated. They were all making their breaker off a large cabbage & feeding the goats off it too.
Alexandria is a large city, but Cairo is much larger. The population of Cairo at the present time is considered to be about 700,000. There are some magnificient buildings, beautifully ornamented. Altho not so substantially built as most Australian houses, in most cases they are much more artistic. There are also many places in the old quarters of the city in a condition of rack & ruin.
I have only had one night off so far (offically). A French gentleman whom we met on a tram kindly offered to show us through part of old Cairo & took us through some streets about 10 feet wide, the houses built closely together on either side, & the charahs (streets) dirty & muddy. The front rooms of most of the houses open on the street, & are stalls, where sweets & eatables of all sorts (most tempting) are exposed for sale. In most of the stores orchestras play music of the bag pipe style, & in many of them negresses & Assyrians dance to the music. The houses have overhanging
balconies & here & there when you look up you notice the dome & spire of a mosque wedged in between, & so dirty is the entrance & surroundings of these places of worship that until you look up they cannot be recognised from the dwelling houses around. There are indications on every hand that in these quarters the morality of the people is of the lowest order.
In the better parts of the city there are some fine shops, beautifully fitted up. The Grand Continental Hotel, also Shepherds Hotel & the Savoy are magnificient structures. The French gentleman, who was staying at Shepherds said they seated 750 to dinner each day during the last tourist season. In front is a wide terrace about five feet above the street. Carpets are laid down the broad flight of steps & the terrace is tiled all over. Persian carpets & rugs are laid about between seats, & small tables where refreshments may be had. Palms & large fancy coloured umbrellas form shade from the sun. The entrance door is composed of four large plate glass panels, formed like a turnstile & revolves to let one pass inside. The vestibule & staircases are very fine work.
There are a great number of French people here & a good number
of English. Melbourne is a fine model city & from the point of situation, etc., is, no doubt, a long way ahead of Cairo, but for novelty, grandeur, & variety Cairo is incomparable with anything in Australia & our French friend who was travelling for his health, told us the same applies to Europe & Great Britain.
The Museum is a very large building. I intend going there, as there are some most interesting exhibits to be seen. The zoo is also a very fine one. There are botanical gardens which I hope to visit. I saw a church in my rambles with a large notice, stating that it was the Free Church of Scotland. "I wonder if I shall visit it". Last Tuesday I was working at the railway yards at Cairo with a fatigue party fixing up our horses & moving them on to Mena. The tram system is very up to date. We come in from Mena to Cairo, a distance of ten miles for 1 piastre (2½) which is half price. The journey takes 45 minutes.
Altho there is nothing but sand where we are camped & for miles on one side as far as the eye can reach, it does not fly like Bondi sand & is quite comfy to
live on. The nights are quite cold & this morning there was a heavy fog; but the days "Phew".
The Pyramids & the Sphinx are about fifteen minutes walk from where we are camped. There is a native village about a mile to the north of us & a grove of date palms; to to east are the Pyramids, with the Sphinx a few hundred yards beyond; further on is Mena village, & about six miles from where we are still further east is the ancient city of Memphis now only mud villages. The villages of mud huts are queer looking. The natives seem to have started with a great idea, & to have left off half way; the houses are finished off square at the top, & are thatched over with reeds.
The Nile is a broad river, about 4000 miles long; but it is not a very clean one. They have just completed a new iron bridge over at Cairo costing £ 40000. The Boulac
Next Monday the Turkish flag is to be hauled down & the British flag hoisted. Egypt will then be done with Turkey & under British protection. Some think there might be trouble but I dont think so by the way the people view it when you speak to them of it. Every hour of the day there are quaint things to be seen here to amuze one, the people are so funny.
Yesterday having a few hours to spare I took the opportunity of visiting a native village quite close to camp. The little children scampered away at first sight of us but quickly recovered sufficiently to come & request from us cigarettes, or piastres & to offer for sale or-an-gers (oranges). They are very dirty but at a short distance very picturesque in their print dresses of red, yellow, blue, & various other colours. They wear fringed fascinator affairs over their heads, which lends a finish to their dress. The walls of the houses are made of mud & sun dried bricks. On Friday a couple of us ascended the Pyramid of Cheops. We were surprised to find a boy waiting for us on top with cups of coffee (1 Pt.) & a couple of Arabs with oranges. We visited the excavations at a burial place at the foot of the Pyramid. The view from the top was excellent. The height is 451 ft. It took twenty years to collect the stone & thirty years to build it. In the distance we saw the six other Pyramids, smaller though including one where Rameses was buried. We saw some natives casting seed on the ground & hoeing them in with a rude hoe in a most primative fashion. They make a ridge every few yards
so that when the water covers the ground it does not wash the seed away. We had a Kodak day at the zoo on Saturday at Gizeh. It is a beautiful place. Hippos, Rhinos, giraffes, lions, elephants, gamels, a great variety of deer, goat, cats, leopards, monkeys, birds, & plenty of snakes. The collection is typical African. Also to be seen a fine collection of trees, nice green lawns, an island tea room, & everything beautifully sweet & clean. I have never seen animals look better. The cages were all as clean as it was possible for them to be kept. In the grounds were fancy walks, grottoes, lakes & bridges. One could go every day for a week & not tire of it. I have seen some beautiful horses here; their coats are like satin. We have plenty of music in camp. There is a bugle band, a Scotch bag pipe, & 12 brass bands. There is a great noise when the bugles sound the last post at night. About 500 of them in about five minutes representing the bugles of the different companies.
Our stay here is to be for two months & I believe by all accounts our time
will be a good one. Numerous outfits of natives await our pleasure with queer sayings & goods for sale. "Egyptian mail" up to S. "good waster". Another will chime in with "Eggs a cook" "good ones" & three for half", hes good" from the orange vendor. Cake, Cairo, Cake, & Nesterlers from the pastry man & then a whispering sly voice will chime "Biere" "Pyramid" good. One could relate for hours these sayings but I find I should want to carry a complete office outfit.
I have visited a good number of the outlaying suburbs & find it very hard to outclass Zeatoun. It has a charm of its own & viewing the surrounding districts from my friends balcony was certainly a treat. Right across was the palatial & modern suburb of Helioplis (City of the sun) & on the right the plantation & residence of the Khedive & the left side showed Maadi & its adjacent environments. Most of the places mentioned are indeed beautiful & at present the white tents of the soldiers contrasting with the different hues make it rather picturesque.
On the river Nile going towards the Pyramids we have Ghizeh a very charming riverside residential the home of mostly Europeans - & in towards Cairo
we have Ghezireh which is indeed a very nice place & full of colour. When I saw it last, it indeed was a picture & certainly merited me remaining a whole afternoon.
It was a race day & a vastly different course from either Randwick or Flemington. Nevertheless I managed to back two winners, which wasnt too bad considering everything.
A very pretty place & one of interest to engineering people is the Delta or Barage ½ an hour in the train from Cairo. It has a very pretty park & garden & the works are worth a look over. Described roughly the irrigation of the lower border is the main idea of the lock being constructed.
Sakhara is the place of places from the Egyptian point of view, & it certainly is wonderful from the antique side. The usual Sphinx, Pyramids, Sarcophages, etc., meet the wanderer here & also the ancient city of Memphis has its ruins near by. Personally I was a good deal interested in a wandering band of Bedouins who had their village near by.
Nearer the city of Cairo we have a very fine panorama view of the district from the heights of the Cidatel [Citadel?]. Here you gaze down on the Dead City & through portions
of old Cairo & you also see the Nile in all its glory. Nearby the dragoman will show the identical bush under which Moses floated & mostly you are rewarded with a sprig which you are supposed to gratefully accept. One little village, devoted to students & their parents I liked very much. This was Choubrah, over the railway section. It is rather the Latin portion of Cairo & provides many a little adventure worth recalling. I almost invariably wandered along there during bankruptcy periods with either French or native Copts where we indulged in Floury cakes & a glass of water at ½ a piastre.
During the latter portion of my stay in Cairo I developed a mania for automobiles & a good deal of my money went in this direction. The road to Cairo from Mena House Hotel is perfect for motoring & the scenery en route is very varied. I have described a portion elsewhere but it is worth recording the beauty of Avenue at present. Sheets of quiet water, over which rustic bridges are placed & the verdant green is everywhere to be seen. Oxen drawing rude implements of agriculture
drawn lazily up & down the rice fields & every few minutes
the car flashes you through some small village from which scamper small children, dogs, goats, & old men. Women as a rule are seldom observed as they do all the labor. The Avenue is raised above the level of the fields & is about sixty feet wide. Both sides are planted with trees which form a very fine shade from the hot sun, & the distance complete is about nine miles. My car used to cover the distance in seventeen minutes, but it oft times brought us under the eye of the traffic police. The tram runs on one side to town but it
took takes the best part of an hour to travere [traverse] altho the time table says 45 minutes.
We tried to create a record for climbing Cheops but could never get up under the five minutes a Hindoo eventually lowered that to three minutes. A report is current that four Australian soldiers fell over the sides of Cheops & were killed. Whether it really occured I couldnt say not actually being present, or seeing the paper report. The interior of the great pyramid is immense & for me to attempt to describe would be too [indecipherable]. You approach through a door
way on the north side & immediately begin a series of slides until you bring up against a rocky stairway. Then it is climb until you are actually half way up the Pyramid on the inside, & you suddenly find yourself in an oblong chamber built of solid rock. This is the Kings Chamber but the mummy of the dead king is gone only the sarcophagus remaining. Immediately beneath this chamber is another almost similiar this is the Kings Daughters chamber. Several other chambers are contained in this huge stack of masonry but the best place for general information is the guide book where everything is complete.
The second Pyramid "Chrebren" is much similiar to Cheops, only it is much more dangerous to climb. Not many of our lads attempted the ascent, but a few managed to show their records on the top platform. A few of my comrades made the ascent one day, so I will give their version.
This huge pile, 50 feet less in height than Cheops, is much more difficult to ascend owing to its greater degree of steepness. Unlike the Cheops, alas, the Chrebren has a huge cap of
limestone solid blocks roughly hewn & cemented together. At one time this outer shell of limestone extended to the apex, but with the exception of what remains on top and extending about 100 feet down the sides, all the mighty blocks were removed for the purpose of building the Sultan Hassans mosque and tomb a vast building in Cairo. Built about 3666 years B.C. it is little wonder that in some places the stonework has commenced to crumble, though, on the whole the masonry is in a wonderful state of preservation.
Owing to the number of fatal accidents that have happened to would be scalers of the dizzy heights this Pyramid was placed out of bounds by the military.
My comrades essayed the ascent about the beginning of the new year and with two others succeeded in reaching the 12 feet of platform on its summit. "Says he "We started on the eastern corner. Our difficulties soon commenced. The blocks of masonry are about four feet high & are piled one on the other in such a manner as to form steps, varying in width from about 6 inch to 12 inches. Each successive row has to be climbed and on account of the narrow
toeholds the ascent is very dangerous. By the time 300 feet has been climbed one needs a rest naturally, so we sat down on one the ledges & gazed down on the great desert below. Five minutes blow [indecipherable] & then we faced the sky again. From this point we had to branch on diagonally towards the southern corner so as to take advantage of a particular wide ledge. However this was not making much headway & the limestone cap had still to be scaled; this is, alas, too smooth & unbroken for rapid progress. Here the toe holds were few mere cracks between the stones & four feet apart. Progress was dangerous, also slow. Pains in the chest through the necessity of keeping close to the masonry & continually throwing the body foward were slowly suffocating us. We could not descend so had to stick to it & advance. The last 50 feet was hell but we succeeded in doing it. Lying on top almost exhausted, with sore feet, & throats full of mummy dust, we looked in vain for Pyramid coffee which is dispensed by Egyptians on Cheops. Nothing was on top, however, so we had to remain thirsty. We gazed around at our leisure. The view obtained, from this pyramid, is, I consider, superior from that
obtained from Cheops which is magnificient enough for anyone. Due east the old Sphinx sits facing his master, the sun. Further east, & hovering like a dream city over the foliage of the date palm plantations with only an occasional smoking chimney to prove its reality, lies Cairo. Beyond again, the great quarries from which this very stone was taken thousands of years ago. All around are excavations marking the resting places of dead generations now entirely destroyed by scientists. North lies the Australian camp & the long stretch of road Canberra. The main attraction, however, is the Nile Valley, a continuous stretch of green with the old Nile, verily the Egyptians god, crawling like a huge silver snake through the centre. The fertile valley is well watered by the most wonderful irrigation scheme in the world deep channels cut on a system calculated to ensure the flooding of the pastures at the periodical rising of the river. After an hour we commenced the descent. This was even more nerve racking than the ascent. We knew a slip would just give us time to say "Allah be praised" & then oblivion. Continually extending the feet downward & feeling for the grips whilst hanging on the ledge
above with the fingers, we at last got off that awful limestone on to the broader ledges. Here we had a rest & voted the game up to putty. We tore what remained of sox off our sore & tired feet, put on our boots & finished the descent. We were glad to hang on below & gaze up at the four hundred feet odd of masonry & again admit ourselves fools. Like my comrades I dont think our foot steps will grace Chrebren Pyramid in the near future.
One cannot remain long in Egypt without visiting the mosques of which there are 500 or more. The larger ones claim the visitor at once & it is a very hard matter if he is not pleased straight off. The first one I called at was situated up town nearby the ceremonial base & I arrived on the afternoon of Friday (the day of worship). It was indeed a huge sight with its huge dome & mineret [minaret]. The decorations were of many hues & in a way artistic but foreign to my imagination. I believe the cost of designing the various walls was enormous because the main thing used goldis rather high priced. The doors are covered with Arabic writings in both gold & bronze. In the main part of the mosque are myriads of chains hanging from the
roof & I must confess straightaway that they completely mystified me. I imagined they were in some way connected with burnt offerings not being familiar with the Koran, but was greatly relieved when I was told they were for lamp hanging only. Really I thought I was on the borderland of mystery. Nearby is another mosque, the new one, built by the late Khedive. It is similiar in design only more gorgeous. With an Arabian friend I visited the private mosque of the Sultan on Xmas day 14. It is much smaller but lacks none of the grandeur of the other ones I had visited. The real big thing in mosques though is the one situated near the Citadel. Here you see enormous slabs of alabaster in the making & beauty combined with grandeur goes towards making this one of the sights really worth visiting in this city of sights. The fittings are similiar as in other mosques but on entry here you are provided with over shoes which must be worn before you can cross the threshold. Earlier days you were compelled to remove your boots before entering. A very nice sample of mosques is now being erected on the road to Ghizeh. It will be on completion very grand & should attract many visitors from town.
I had the opportunity at Easter of repeating an old Roman tradition; the returning from church through the streets with long lighted candles. We commenced our pilgrimage from the Esbekieh district and went along through Kamel Street over the bridge to Chroubah. Our party consisted of eight & as several hundred other parties were simultaneously engaged the whole proceeding was indeed grotesque. I enjoyed my part of the adventure & if I get the opportunity again I shall be only to pleased to take part in a like engagement. I left early on Easter morning for Alexandria, as did thousands of other Australians as we were under orders to embark at any moment for the Island of Lemnos. We eventually left Alexandria after a very enjoyable time, on the S.S. City of Benares, which after a half & half voyage brought up at the Island of Lemnos.
A thing which cannot go without mention is the theatres of Cairo. One walks into the Kursaal just off Boulac Sharia & is immediately in the midst of jollity. The auditorium is comfortable & unlike the southern theatres where the main feature is packing. One sits down in a comfortable wide seat & proceeds to enjoy the proceedings. At intervals he can call for refreshments or light lunch which is quickly served. Smoking is also allowed & does not become a
nuisance owing to the numerous air shafts & the redeeming feature of this theatre is the freshness of the air, & on Saturday afternoon matinees it was a pleasure to wander into its cool depths from the hot street.
Up town, a little higher, is the Opera House, situated in the classy region of Opera Square. This is devoted to opera mainly but owing to war scares the usual season was cancelled during 14. Towards the latter end of my stay the Arabic management took over this theatre for a short season. Their own theatre over in square, near Esbekieh Gardens is rather a gem. It is a very modern structure & quite as theatres should be. I had one of the artistes to explain & show me over this building & I was also a guest of the management to witness a production of "Hamlet" by Bill Shakespeare" in Arabic.
The translation was remarkable & altho I could not understand the speeches & speaking parts, I could follow the entire piece through on the business of the play, which was quite familiar to me having seen it previously. The curtain is raised at 9.30 p.m. & the usual ending is close on midnight. As life, after dark, generally awakens there it is not unusual for starting seventy five minutes after our time.
There cannot be any special time for the closing of saloons in Cairo as I have left there as late as 3 a.m., the brightness & gaiety had not decreased one iota. In fact passing the Egyptian Cafι in Camel St., the girls were fiddling even stronger than at the commencement, & the activity of the streets were the same as midday. A place
I didnt get in touch with was the Casino at Ghezieh. Whether this palace of amusement still kept going or whether lack of tourists kept it in the back ground I cannot say.
Picture palaces were numerous & well patronised. At Pathe Freres in the Sharia Boulac it was rather nice to drop in & enjoy the movies for an hour
of or so & then have supper in an adjoining chamber to the strain of music, song & dance. We obtained both French & English song & dance Artistes, so could not complain of lack of civility. The Prattania is a spacious concern just below the Kursaal but as most of the performances were Greek I did not frequent this house often. At weekend matinees this house oft times has Signor Bonoi & his orchestra of 75 performers. It was then worth attending twice over because the never dying strain of opera would
revive the bored brain with more alacrity than even the humble bellodrama.
Achi Baba sometimes spelt Achi Babe, Achi Babi
Choubrah sometimes spelt Shubra, Shoubra
Dardanelles misspelt Dardanels
Esbekieh sometimes spelt Ezbekiya
Gaba Tepe sometimes spelt Kabe Tepe
Heliopolis misspelt as Helioplis
Hellie Point possibly Cape Helles
Lemous Isle possibly Lemnos
Zietoun misspelt as Zeatoun
K of K Kitchener of Khartoum]
[Transcribed by Judy Gimbert and John Stephenson for the State Library of New South Wales]