Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Brown diary, 1916-1917 / Allan Dunn Brown
Pte A. Brown
D Coy 3rd Batt
Pte A. Brown
D. Coy 3rd Batt
My travels with the 12th Rfets of the 3rd Batt.
47 Albion St
Kept a diary until after the battle of Pozieres, when this was written up. Whilst resting at Hermines the old diary was rewritten in this form & then the narrative continued from time to time.
Inlisted 23rd August 1915
My travels with the 12th rfets of the 3rd Battalion.
We left Liverpool Camp at 2 pm on the 6th January 1916, for a march through the Sydney Streets, and thence to the Domain where we were inspected prior to leaving for the front. After the inspection was over we were marched out to the Sydney Show Ground, where our people were given a chance to see us up till ten o’clock that night, and I can say there was a lot of tears shed before the crowd abated. That night none of us got to much sleep as there was too much row being made in the building. We were woke up at about 4 o’clock in the morning so as to be ready to move off at 5 am, as
they though we would all be suffering from thick head’s and a few other things, but we were all there when the wistle blew. We moved off from the ground at about 5 am, and from the gate down to the wharfe there were friends waiting to see their beloved ones. As I have said we left the show ground, and we were all in good spirits, and with our friends besides us,
we you would never have thought we were going to war. We marched down Flinders St. through Oxford Square and then down Burke St which led us down to the wharfe, I can tell you there was some good sights to be seen, if you had have had time, as it was
early and people did not care as long as they got on their balconies and saw us marching by, and perhaps give us a clap or a hurra. Anyway when we got to within about fifty yards of the wharfe where the transport was laying, there were two big iron gates
where which were closed after we had gone through, that meant all the people were barred till we got on board the transport. Before we went through the gates there was a sudden change in the boys as their smiles changed to tears, and instead of being a merry lot they were down hearted that was for a while. When we got on the wharf we were lined up and after having
our names called and a few other little items gone through we were got on to the boat. When we went on board we were told off to our messes, which took a little time to do and then when one deck was full up they closed the hatchway’s down on us. I suppose we were locked down for about ½ to ¾ of an hour, and then the boys started to get restless and the fun began as we thought we were going to be
left kept down there till the boat moved off, but we were only being kept there so as not to get mixed with the others coming on board, but we did not know that, and both hands and feet were got to work on the two
doors that held us down, and it was not long before they gave way, and then there was a rush on deck, so as to get as near to the people as they could. Just a few minutes before the boat was set loose, the people who had been waiting outside for close on two hours (and would probably have waited two days if it had been wanted) were let in, it was like an early door rush at a theatre. It was not long before the streamers began to fly about, and also a few tears. After leaving the wharfe we headed down or rather we were towed down the harbour to Rose Bay where we remained till five
that afternoon. We left Sydney at 5 pm on the 7th Jan 1916 on H.M.A.T. Transport A7 otherwise the Medic. After clearing Sydney Heads we headed down the coast, and after four days sail we put into Port Adelaide where we remained only half a day as there was only a few troops to be taken aboard. Although we only remained here half a day, it did us a lot of good, as we had not seen any thing for a few day, and besides the tucker was not much good, and when in port we could buy some, and we took advantage.
as Although we did not get ashore, we sent one of the ship boy’s out. After leaving Adelaide we headed across the Australia Bight
which as I always thought was a very rough place, but our luck must have been in, as we never had a rough day. After getting across the Bight we headed for Fremantle which is W. Australia chief port, which we reached after five days sail. We stayed there three days, and out of that we were allowed a day ashore which we enjoyed very much, as we were getting tired of staying on the boat. We got ashore about 8 oclock one morning and that gave us a chance to have a look around Fremantle, before proceeding to Perth which is the capital of the W. Australia and is situated 12 miles away from Fremantle by rail.
I think we boarded the train at about 11 o’clock and it did not take long to get to where we wanted to go. The trains in W. Aust are very small compared with the N.S.W. that is what I saw of them. When we arrived there it was near enough dinner time for us to look for a place to have a good soldiers feed, which we found before going very far, and then there was something doing as we eat everything that was on the table, in fact we would have eaten the salt cellars if our teeth would have stood it. Perth itself is a very pretty little place, or what part I saw of it. After spending a real
good day at Perth, we returned to Fremantle where we had tea before going back to the boat, but in the meantime we had bought a big box of groceries and we had that to take back
with with us. There were three of us my two friends Bart Beni and George Fisher, and I think the people must have thought we were taken W. Aust away with us, as we were taken it in turns to carry it, and we were bending under the weight. We got our box on board alright, and I can tell you, we had plenty to eat for the next fortnight. After getting away from this place, which was the last of the Australian coast, some
of us would perhaps see for a long time and perhaps never see, we headed across the Indian Ocean for Colombo. Before getting out of sight of the coast we were all on deck
havin having a last look at Australia’s sunny shores. As I have said we headed across the Indian Ocean for Colombo which we reached on the 29th Jan after a good trip. Before coming to Colombo we had to cross the equater which we did on the 27th Jan, and as on nealy every ship crossing the equaker they have a cermony of Father Neptune emerging from the depth’s, which provided sport for all, and with this bit of sport which was kept up till late
that night, by buckets of water being thrown over anybody that ventured to put his nose on deck, anyhow I think nealy everyone was wet through as they were all out for sport. After arriving at Colombo we had to wait outside the harbour till day break, and when we did get inside it was very foggy, and all the lights around were lit up, and when I put my head out of the port hole I thought I was back in Sydney Harbour once again. Hard luck. We stayed here about 2 day’s, and out of that we were taken ashore for a rout march through Colombo, which I will relate later on. As I have said it was dark when we got in. As soon
as it was light enough to see you could make out the dark form’s of the niggers pulling big coal barges backwards and forwards across the harbour. What took my eye the most was the niggers coaling the boat which we were on, the way they chatter and the row they make when chattering would nealy send you mad. They were also around the boat like flies, wanting us to throw a silver coin into the water for them to dive for, and I may say there was a few halfpennys covered with silver paper thrown in too. While at this place we went ashore for a rout march through the city, which are all planted with
palm trees. We did not see much of this place as it was a very short stay on shore, but what I saw of it, it was a very pretty place. They have also got a fine little harbour, and there is plenty of shipping goes on there. The niggers are hard workers when they once start but it is hard to start them. When we left Colombo we steered for the Red Sea, and between Colombo and Port Suez which was our next port of call, we had a few very rough day, and that was the time (Europe) was in the mouth of nealy everyone on board. We had been out about 10 day’s with out seeing land, and we were beginning to get drowsy, as we were
on deck every day looking out for land. Then one day, there hove into sight land, and all hands were on deck to see it, that was just before we got into the Red Sea. We got through the Red Sea alright, which is a very hot place. Our next port of call was Port Suez, which we reached on the 12th Feb. It has a fine harbour, and it is full of shipping of all sorts. Just before reaching this place, we were told to have all out things ready to go ashore, but after remaining there a day or so, we got orders to proceed further on, and that meant going through the Suez Canal. At the entrance to the canal there are five or six big British cruisers guarding it. The canal itself
is just like a river, in fact in some places you can stand in the middle of the deck, and throw a stone on to either bank. Near the mouth of the canal there is a big Indian Camp in fact all along the canal there are Indians. When about half way through the canal we came across big camps of our boys and I can tell you there was some shouting going on. There was one funny incident I think I will always remember, one of the boys on the boat sang out
to, are we down hearted and weall the voices on board rang out together NO, then there was silence for a moment, and a chap on shore sang out, but you soon will be, and as I went to this very place a few week’s after I found out he was
Wen When we got through or nealy through the canal, we came to our next port of call and that was Port Said, where we stayed for about 2 days out of which we took coal and stores on board. We were not allowed ashore at this place. The port itself is a much bigger shipping port than Sydney, at this time it was full of shipping of all sorts, including hospital Ship’s which are very pretty when lit up at night. I did not see much of the town itself, but what I did see, it seemed a fairly big place. After getting away from Port Said we had to go into the Mediterranean Sea which at that time was swarming with submarines, so we had to wear our life belts every where we went.
We left Port Said about 8 o’clock one night and the next morning we were at our destination, Port Alexandria. We stayed on the boat until 10 o’clock that night, when we disinbarked. When we got off the boat we had not to go very far for the train, as it ran alongside the wharfe. We were kept standing about for about an hour before getting on the train, and I can tell you it was very cold, and we felt it very much as we had just come out of a warm climate. We entrained after a little fooling about, but we did not move off till a few hour’s afterwards. It was 2 o’clock in the morning when we got a move on, and as it was very dark we could see none of the sights, so we dropped off to sleep for an hour or two. When day
light broke all hands were looking out of the windows at the old Arabia and his little donk going to their daily duties. All along the line on both sides are acres of irrigated land in fact as far as you can see, there is nothing else excepting a few palms trees, and a village built of clay houses, or what would be the right name, a lot of stables as they are so old and dirty. After about six hours journey we came to our detination that was Aerodrome which is situated about four miles this side of Cairo. I was very glad to get out of the train as we had been so crouched up that we could not move, and besides we were in carriages which the niggers used, and as you know they are not to clean and we felt a bit off side. Anyway after getting our things together
we got the order to get out, and I say it did not want repeating twice. We got formed up and then the order was given. We started off on a journey which was only supposed to be a few hundred yards but it turned out to be about a mile at the least, and I may say we were dead beat, as we had full pack up, and as we had been on the water six week’s we felt it very much. When we got to the part of the camp where we had to go we were given a lecture on the what’s and what’s not’s of the camp and town, which went in one ear and out of the other, as I have said we were very tired. After the lecture we were taken away and told off to our huts which are build especially for the hot climate, they are built with rushes.
When we got into our huts we layed down and went straight to sleep, but that was only for a few hours, as most of us were very hungry and hunger will keep you from doing almost anything. After having some dinner we felt much better, but "oh" how sore our poor bones were from being cramped up in the train, but we soon got over that, as we sent into Cairo that same night. As I have said I went into Cairo that same night, but what I saw is not worth mentioning, as it was dark and you could not see much. The Aerodrome Camp is situated about four miles this side of Cairo and on the edge of a sandy plain, in fact it is a desert. I did not stay to long at this camp, but while I was there I saw pretty well all that had to be seen. I had
a few trips into Cairo on a Saturday and Sundays, and while in there I visited the Pyramids and the Zoological Gardens which are both of interest to look at. The Pyramids are about three miles outside Cairo, which are reached after a good ride in the tram. I went inside the biggest of the
Pyremiads Pyramids. Before going inside you have to take your boots off as it is so slippery when going in. It is also very hot inside, and in one of the chambers there are two tombs of some ancient king and queen. I can tell you I was glad to get out into the fresh air, as the place was very stuffy and smelly. I also visited the zoo which is a very fine place and well laid out. They have got a fine collection of
animals, but what took my eye the most in there, were the paths which we were walking on, they were made with red and white pebbles and made into different patten’s which looked very pretty. There is also a place called the Grotto, which is like a big cave cut out of solid rock, but it is only made of clay and cement.
Whe With its little streams and all sorts of vines and flowers growing over it, made it look very pretty, you could also go inside it. In the same square there are two Turkish pontoons which were captured when the Turk tried to cross the Suez Canal, they were riddled with shrapnel. After having a look through the zoo we went back and had a look at Cairo which is a very big city,
and also a very old place. The building’s there are nothing to write home about. I also had a good look around
Heliop Heliopolis which is a very fine place. Before I go any further this is the town our camp was nearest. Heliopolis can boast of having some very fine buildings. The Palace Hotel which was turned into a hospital is absolutely the prettiest building I have ever seen or at least up till that time. It was first built for a Monte Carlo, other wise a gambling house, but I think it fell through, and was then turned into a hotel, from that into a hospital. As I said before, I did not stop long at this camp before being sent down to a place called Serapeum which is
on the Suez Canal. This place is about five hours journey in the train from Aerodrome, and we made the journey in open trucks, which I can say were not to nice at all. We were also packed like sardines, and with that and nothing to eat or drink, also the boiling hot sun shining on us made us feel very uncomfortable. We reached Serapeum about four o’clock in the afternoon, we were then marched about two miles in the sand which I will never forget, there was also a strong wind blowing and the sand that was flying about nealy blinded us. Anyhow when we got to the place where we had to join up our battalion, and I was very glad as I was dog tired.
We were given something to eat as we had had nothing to eat since we left Aerodrome that morning, and that was very little. The meal we got when we arrived consisted of bully beef and buscuits, and although it was hard and salty, it was enjoyed by everyone as they were so hungry. After that meal we were taken to our tents, and I may say it was not long before we were fast asleep. As all the Australians were getting ready to go to France my stay at this place was very short, and I may say I was glad, as there was nothing but sand everywhere you looked, and the worst part of all there was very little water to be got. I think
this place was the last God made as he forgot to plant any trees. As I have said before, I did not stay here long, before getting a move on to France. We left Serapheum at about half past ten at night in open railway trucks, bound for Alexandria from which place we set sail. The journey down took about 10 hours, and it was very cold, and as we were packed so close together we could not get in a comfortable position for to have a wink of sleep. One thing
u I forgot, while at Serapheum we were given a visit by the Prince of Wales. He is just like a little girl. I believe he wanted to see the Australians before they went to France, and he did see them in their rough and ready stile.
We were all lined up for the inspection, and we were told to look to what ever flank he rode past and give three cheers, but that was no good we wanted to see him properly, and so there was a shout and a charge & all broke loose. I do not know what he thought of the boys, but I will bet he told his father plenty of tales about the Horsetralians. Anyway we got down to Alexandria in good time for dinner, and as we had to wait on the wharfe for a few hours before the transport came in, we had to make the best of bully beef and biscuits. The transport pulled in to the wharfe some time in the afternoon, and after a little fooling about
which is generally the case, we went on board. We were then all given a ticket with the number of our bunk and mess table, which was run better than the first boat I came from Australia in. We left Alexandria a few minutes before six one night in March, bound for Marseille. Coming across the Mediterranean Sea we had to wear our life belts every where we went even to the mess table, this was on account of so much submarine activity. I must say we had a real rough time coming across this sea. We only stopped once, and that was for a signal from the island of Malta. We had been on the water four days before we pulled into our next port, which was a place on the French coast by the
name of Toulon which is also used for a coaling base, besides as I learned after, a fashonable seaside resort. We remained here only one day, as we had to get our order’s where to proceed to. As I said we only stayed there a little while before getting a move on, which we did the next morning very early. We headed for our destination, but this only took about four hour’s, but I must say, we got a very rough time while doing it. I besides others were very glad when we reached port as we were just about done, and as I was mess orderly, I don’t think they would have got any dinner if it had gone on much longer. We reached Marseilles in the afternoon, and at night about half past eight we disinbarked.
After getting off the boat we did not have to go far for the train, which was waiting for us a few hundred yard’s away.
When we marched onto the platform, we were told off to our carrage’s and luck was with me as I had a first class seat all the way, and as I had the corner seat I was pretty comfortable as we had arm rests, of course every one did not get these. We had a long wait before getting a move on, we started about 1 o’clock in the morning.
When we did move off I besides a lot more was fast asleep, but as soon as day light started to break I think everybody’s head was out of the window, and as the train was a fairly big one there were a few Australian faces looking
beatiful beautiful scenery, and also singing out to anybody especially the French maidens, who were the first sight of white people we had seen since we left Australia, and I may tell you they are as pretty as you could wish to see, that is the country maiden’s we saw from out of the train.
As the boy’s did not know how to speak French, they had to use Egyptian word’s, which the French could not understand, but what did it matter as long as the boys eased their throats.
We went up inclines and around the sides of mountains, which were all cultavated, and as every thing was green as you could wish to see it it made it look very pretty.
France in this part does nothing
else but farming and that is the
plaplace to see both young girl’s and old men on the plough and harrow, it is not a very nice sight to see at all.
I think that this train journey is absolutely the longest, I have done straight off with a break,
Iand I can say it has as good a scenery every bit as Australia.
We were all in good spirits, and I can say long before we came to a station the people knew we were coming by the row we were making when shouting, and at the big stations there were plenty there to cheer us and also ask us for souvenirs which they got plenty of.
After three days and nights travelling we came to the place where we had to disintrain, and I can tell you we were very tired and stiff when
it came to getting out as we had been crouched up in the train, and also just coming off the boat made us feel a lot worse.
We got out at a place called Canaples and I was very glad, because I was full up of the train.
When the train pulled on to the siding we had to rush and get our gear together, as it was laying all over the place.
After getting out we were fooled about for a while, and then served out with bully beef and buscuits and some tea to flavour the beef and buscuits. After this meal we had to shoulder our packs and that was a very hard job as I have said we were very tired and sore, but it was a case of have to. Anyway we got a move on towards the village where we had to be billited which was about ten miles away, it
seemed like a hundred miles before we were finished.
To get to the village we had to march along miles and miles of cobbles stones and it was very hard on our feet. We had full pack’s and we were also carrying our blankets so we were pretty heavily ladened, and as I am in the last section of the company we struck rear guard, and it is a good job left alone.
It is like following a woman when she goes to town and buy’s more than she can carry, and tries to take them home on her own, and somebody has to keep picking them up every few yards, that was the sort of job I ran into.
We had not gone more than a mile before one poor chap dropped out, and we had to take his gear between us, and it was pretty heavy as we
had our own.
Well I must admit I was done before we had reached the three mile mark but I stuck to my gun’s.
It was now dark and we nealy lost our way a few times, and we had to put our ear’s down on the cobbles to hear which way they had gone, we were fully two hundred yard’s behind the main body, so we done well to keep in touch as much as we did.
To make a long story short we came to the village where we were to be billited, that was after the rear guard had experianced some hardships, and given all their water away.
We were taken to a few places where some of the boy’s were put, and the rest of us were marched over a railway line which was running through the village.
We halted when we got over the line
and just near by was a railway station, as soon as the boy’s saw it they all thought it was on the same line as we had come by, and then there was some prayers said, as we had marched ten miles and we could have came straight to the place in the train. Hard luck.
After a little fooling about we were taken to our billets in a big barn amongst the straw, and I don’t think one man waited to take off his things as we were all dead tired in fact we were useless.
The next morning we were feeling pretty well after having a good sleep, but oh our poor feet, they were very sore.
After having a little breakfast we went for a stroll around the village, and I must say it was absolutely the cleanest place I had
been in, in all my travels in France as I found out after.
The people themselves were a picture
themself to look at, as they were very clean, and also pretty.
Nealy everybody kept an estaminer that is a place where you can get beer lollies and buscuits in fact you can get anything you want. This village was a place called Eblingham which we stayed at for about three week’s, we got a move on one morning in April just as we were beginning to know the place. Our next place of call was a place called Meteren which was about 14 miles away, and which we knew was every inch of it as we had to march there, on the cobbles, and as it was a very hot day we feelt it very much as we have to carry our full pack’s and blanket’s.
When we arrived there we were very tired, as is generally the case after a rout march, and we had to have have a lay down to ease our feet, as I have said the cobbles are very hard on the feet.
We were in the best of nick after tea, so we went up to the town which is a fairly big place and which was not very far away from our billits.
All around this town were rows of graves sometimes you would run across a whole trench full of Tommy’s.
Also at this place there is a big tower of a church, which as I learned had been used by the German’s as a machine gun position.
All around this tower is marked with shrapnel pellets.
We only stayed at this place a short time before getting a move on to our next pace
Our every day work consists of rout marches, bayonet fighting and plenty of drill.
Ever since we got out of the train we could hear the big gun’s booming but as we marched further on we could hear them getting louder. This place is a very busy place in the motor traffic line, as there are strings reaching for miles along the sides of the roads. We got a move on to our next billet which was about 10 to 12 miles away, and, as it was showery weather it was not to nice to be marching about in.
We reached our next billit in the middle of the day, which was just outside a place by the name of Sailley.
When we got to this place we were within easy range of gun fire, so we could not go roaming about, doing rout marches, or even do bayonet drill in the open, as the German’s aeroplanes were after taking trips over, and woe betide you and the billit if they got on to you.
We remained in this place for 16 day’s as we were in reserve for another battalion which was in the firing line.
Every night we were on fatigue that meant we had to go down and work in the firing line or take provisions up on a small railway, which was a very dangerous job as the machine gun’s and snipers used to get on to you. As I have said we remained in support for 16 days, and then
came our turn to go into the firing line, which we did some time in the middle of April.
If I am not mistaken we went in on a Friday night, and after the first night we were getting used to it, it was very funny the first night, I will bet the Germans knew there was some new crowd in, as the boy’s were firing as fast as they could load, and firing at nothing at all.
The first Sunday we were in the German’s bombarded our front line, of course as we had not had a bombardment before we naturally thought the world was coming to an end, I think they sent over about 74 shells, but after we got hardened to it that bombardment was only a flea bite. Ever after this or
at least as long as we remained in this place it was very quiet. Our work in the day was to fill sand bag’s and do other useful work about the trench.
At night there were parties told off to build up the parapet, others to go out and put barbed wire entanglement’s out and numerous other jobs were found for us.
While at this place I saw plenty of Aeroel fights and some real good ones at that.
Of course all this line along this part is only barrackades made of sand-bags.
After our term in the trenches had expired we were relieved and we went back behind the firing line a few miles to the other side of a place called
Sailly, for a rest for a few week’s. The rest we got was rout marching and plenty of drill and not to much tucker.
We stayed in this place for a few week’s, and while here a few of the new hands had to go out to have some musketry, well I was included although I was not a new hand.
This will seem hard to believe, we walked 20 miles in one day the next day we were taken to a minature range and most of the boys only fired 10 shot’s at the very most, the next day we were marched back, but they cut 4 miles off the return journey. After our spell, or our so called spell we got on the go to a place called Fleubeaux where we were in support for another battalion which was in the line.
This village was a fairly big place before the Germans started to shoot their iron factories about. Here are some very fine buildings in this town, but they have been ruined by shell fire.
Also in this place are loop holes all over the buildings, the windows and doors are all loopeholes the cellars were used for machine guns positions, but poor fritz got chased out of them.
We had to do our share of fatigue every day and night in the line, in the way of building communication trenches and building dugout’s. One day we were on fatigue building a dugout a few hundred yards behind the line, and a very exciting air dual took place, so all hands downed tool’s to watch the operations.
The fight was between 4 British and 4 German planes, it lasted for half an hour before any of them showed any sign’s of wanting to get away, and all of a sudden, that is after a lot of good manouvering one German machine fell and a cheer went up from the boys, not long after the second German plane went tumbling to the ground so the other two fled for their lives. It was a splendid fight.
While in these billits we had a good few shells land around us, but as long as they never hit, it was all right.
While one of our companies was in billits near the mouth of a communication trench, they had the misfortune to have their billit shelled and burned to the ground, as luck favoured them
in one way they only had one casuality.
After this occured we had to go down and relieve them, and as we only had two days to go, before going into the front line, so we made the best of it by putting up in some old reserve trenches.
As I have said we only remained here only a short time before going into the front line, any way we went into the front line, only to stay there 12 day’s, which were not to cheerfully spent, as we had plenty of shells shot at us. While at this part of the line I saw my first trench mortar fired and they are as good a trench gun as you could wish for, and as the missel they fire weighs 60lbs it does a lot of damage to Fritz’s trench.
There was one funny incident while there, and that
cons was connected with the trench mortar. The chap’s that fire these guns wear a different colour to the infantry and if any of them were noticed about the trench, there would be some funny remark’s such as Here comes the apples on sticks, I bet our parapet gets knocket down tonight and a few other remark’s. Every time these chap’s fired the missels we were bombarded by Fritz’s artillery, so that was why so many remark’s were passed. I saw my first German prisoner at this place he was sniping when one of our boy’s caught him. The German’s around this part have a lot of observation baloons, they are held by steel ropes from the ground, and are the shape
of a sausage, well I besides other’s watched a squadron of British planes go over and set 3 of them alight. This was the first time ever the British downed so many at one time. It appears it was a new invention the British had for destroying these balloons and while they kept
the them down Fritz could not get any observation which is one of the main factors in war-fare.
We remained 12 days as I have told you, after coming out we marched to a place by the name of Sailly where we remained for a few day’s.
It was not long before we got a move on to our next billet which was at a small place called Merris which is about 12 miles away from Saillly.
We only remained here about 2 days before getting a move on to Balloul a big railway station, where we entrained for the Somme. We were bundled into trucks in fact there was that many in the trucks that we could not move, thank goodness we only had to do about 8 hours travelling and that was quiet enough, as luck would have it, it was night time and so we did not notice it so much as if we were travelling in the daytime. We disintrained at a place by the name of Candas, and after a short march we sat down on the roadway to have breakfast, after breakfast we began our march, which I may say took three week’s to do, because we were a bit too soon, and we were not wanted for a certain time.
Anyway our first billit in this part
of France was St Omer which is a fairly big town in fact I think it was as big a town as I had seen since landing.
We only remained here one night & then up early in the morning for another march, well as I said before we kept going for a long time before reaching our destination, anyway I did not take the names of a lot of villages as we were that knocked up all we thought of was a good sleep, so I will have to leave a few villages out.
After about a fortnight’s marching we came to a place by the name of
Vignacourt Allenville, from this place we could see the big town of Amiens, which is a big one of the biggest towns in northern France. We only remained here for a few day’s, we were billeted in a big
shed and in the same yard there were a lot of motor workshops, they are realy as good as you could wish to see as they turn the stuff out as good as any stationary workshop. We only remained here a few day’s and then on to the next place of billeting, which was at a place named Nalli which I may say was where we had to hand in our pack’s, as you do not take them in a charge with you, at this same place we were given our pink patches to sew on our back’s and that meant we were going over the top of the parapet in a charge. These patches I may say are to distinguish one another in the dark. If you see a patch you do not stick the bayonet in but if you see a man without a patch you go right through him, any way I never had the pleasure of doing that. We remained here a few days and that was quiet enough as
we could not get water. We left this place en-route for Albert where the big push started from, before getting to Albert we had to pass a village by the name of Ballon which is full of Tommies. When Albert was in sight we could see the big bronze monument on the top of the big Catheridal which is entirely destroyed by the Germans. I may say this bronze statue was pulled over by the French engineers, because the German’s used to use it as a land mark for artillery and it is now leaning over the road-way, and all the old French people of this part believes when this monument falls peace will be declared soon afterwards but I think their hopes are doomed as it has been braced up so as it wont fall.
After marching through this doomed town which is a mass
of destroyed buildings we came
on into an open field where there were thousands upon thousands of troops of all sort’s, we stayed there a little while I suppose a few hour’s during which time we had tea, then when all were ready we started on our journey before going any further you could see the trenches where the advance started from, that was from where we had our tea.
Anyway all along the road we saw the Tommies and Scotchies coming home from the trenches covered in mud and also in souvenirs which made every one of us feel like as if we wanted to be up there as soon as we could so as to get a German helmet before they were all gone.
We were within the danger
zone now and from here onward’s we had to go about in single file and a few yard’s separating each man so as if a shell burst in the midst of us it would only get a few, otherwise it may get the lot. Well we got into a place called Sausage Gully and in this place it was simply lined with gun’s anybody who had never been there would never realise what it is like. The gun’s were that close together that they were wheel to wheel and the barking of them would nealy send you mad no wonder poor fritz cannot stand up to it.
We marched straight into the support lines and there we stayed for a few day’s
On the night of the 22nd July 1916 we went down and dug a trench a few yard’s behind the front line so as we would be able to get into it while our artillery bombarded poor old fritz, well every thing was all right for the 23rd July the following night the night the Australian’s took the village of Poziers.
On the evening of the 23 July we were marched down to the front trench and at something like 10.30 pm or there abouts we were to go over the top, every thing was ready and all at once our artillery opened on fritz, meanwhile the 1st Batt who were a few yards in front of us, got over the top of the trench and was laying out in No Man’s Land.
The artillery only played on the German trench for 3 minutes, but if you had seen it you would have thought it had been playing for a week or so. Well as soon as the 1st Batt got news the artillery had lifted on to the second line of german trenches they were up and at the Germans who were left in the front line, then the news came back to us that they had captured the first line and that was all we got the order to get over the top and at them well we had to cover 5 hundred yards to get to their front line and it was no easy job in the dark I also had a pick on my shoulder which we used for digging our selves in with.
Well we went over the first trench and on to the second and that was not enough we took a third and by that time we were in the middle of what remained of the village of Pozier’s.
Before getting to our third line a very funny sight presented itself a bit to the left of where I was runing and that was a batch of prisoners which the first Batt had captured, our boys from every where flocked to see these German prisoners as they were the first some of the boys had seen, anyway before long the boy’s got that thick around the fritz’s after souvenirs off their uniforms, that if a small shell had burst anywhere near by it would have wiped them all out, as it was there were thousands of shells bursting around.
When I left where they were standing which was only a few minutes, there was a big ring and anybody would have thought they were playing two up or something like that.
When we reached the line where we had to halt we started to dig in for our lives as we never new when fritz would take it in his head and counter attack on us, but he never and next morning we could not see one of them, I suppose if we had liked to have keept up the chase we would have been going yet. Next day Monday 24th July we had a very quiet day excepting different orders that used to come along such as stand (to which meant man the trench) the germans are attacking on the right or on the left, and
all these sort of orders were given but nothing came of them. We had one lively moment some germans were seen I suppose about 200 and we thought they we going to counter attack, but they were only a few isolated from the main body who had probably been down a dugout, anyway all the boys stood on top of the trench and blazed like anything at them, they were falling over like nine pins anyway the 4th Batt scout’s
whent went out and got nealy every one so it was pretty clear of them.
The boys had a good day among the dugout’s, such as souvenir hunting went.
Next day Tuesday the day which I never will forget as long as I live, they brought their guns
into play from every side and how did we cop it, the boys were being buried alive and as fast as they were dug out they were buried again. They cut gaps in our lines as big as you would want to see them.
I believe they brought up an armoured train, well to tell the truth I thought they had brought Krupp’s from Germany.
The Tommies who were watching us from a long way behind the lines said after they did not expect to see any of us out at all, in fact they were surprised when about a 150 turned out, of course that was all that was there at the time out of a thousand men. Well after being in for about 3 or 4 days which I cannot remember
we were relieved and oh how pleased we were, as we had not had anything to eat for most of the time.
We met in a wood about 2 or 3 miles behind the firing line and it was dusk when we were relieved, so all our cookers were stationed in this wood
oh and oh what a bonza feed we had that night the cooks who stayed out of the line could not do enough for us,there was everything you wished for. Well although we had all lost mates there were a lot of smiling faces about and every body you met would shake hands with you and congratulate you on getting of such a corner. We remained in this wood only a day or so and then we moved on to a big paddock where all
the motors and horses and also the men assembled before going in and coming out.
We put up at this place for a day and then on we went to our billets which meant a fair march, it was also called a rest, but I never got any rest.
Anyway we got going and after a few hours marching we came to a little village where we put up for the night.
Next morning we were off again (no rest for the wicked) and this time we marched a few more mile than the day before anyway we put up at another billet where we stayed for a few day’s.
After leaving this village we came to our destination where we remained for 3 weeks training.
After remaining here three week’s we again made a move back towards the front line, the first billet we came to was Herusart a fine big village also a big supply depot. We stayed for a week or so during which time old Capt McKenzie of the 4th Batt gave some very good concert’s, both with the tommy motor driver who always carries a instrument of some sort on the motor, made thing brisk. Then came the road to Albert, and in the distance we could see the bronze monument on the shattered catheridal. We remained in the big paddock where we had stopped when we came out of Poziers the first time, but not for long, as the next day we were trudging on towards the front line again anyway we
did not go far beyond Albert before we halted and made shift in some old trenches which were there, of course it was only for a few hours as we had to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning so as to go down and relieve another Battalion in the trenches before daylight. We were all got ready and the word was given and off we went well we must have only gone about a mile when the Lieutenant in charge of our platoon fell and broke his ankel, well if you had heard the saying’s flying around of course he was done, but there were some of the sayings I wonder if it is bad enough to be sent to Blighty otherwise England oh how lucky he is, and all these sorts of remarks.
Anyway I may say it was raining very hard and you can guess what the ground was like especially when all the war matieral was brought over it.
We trugged on through mud up to our ankles and in a very short while we were at the mouth of the communication trench and then the fun began.
All the way up to the front line the questions that were asked would nearly send you mad, first of all how far is the front line, perhaps the answer would be oh only about a mile on we would trudge and perhaps a bit further say about a 100 yards the same question would be asked and the answer would be perhaps a mile and a half, well I will swear the communication
Trench was fully ten miles long before we got to the front line, of course that is by going by asking every hundred yards, of course it was stretched further every time it was asked, really the trench was only about 2 miles.
Another question is it very warm up there some would answer yes some would say no, so the best thing to do was to take no notice.
The part that plays on your mind when you are changing is being held up for an hour or so in the communication trench as you never know when fritz is going to open up and bombard the trench and if so you may as well count your doomed as there is no room to move about and besides it is also packed with men coming and
Any way after a bit of trouble we got up to the front line as usual as puzzled as anything to know our way about.
We got settled down the first day was very quiet but the night brought a bit of a bombardment with it which did no damage, next day there was a fatigue party put on to dig a communication trench so as to
lik link our part of the line up with the others, the boys started diging and although it was dull weather fritz must have saw them, he did not attempt to harm them as there was only about six but he landed a shell here and there finding the range, as he knew as well as we did that there would be a big party on the job at night time, so he thought he
would wait, anyway in the meantime the boy’s were cutting open the dead fritz’s pockets so as to get souvenirs, and I may say some of them got a few nice watches. At about 9 o’clock at night a big party went out to dig including eight first battalion chap’s and about five of our’s well things went alright for about an hour and the shells began to fall a bit to close so we were expecting to get a few and all of a sudden one landed in amongst the 1st Batt. chap’s but never touched one of them then came my turn one came about five yard’s from where another chap and myself were digging and then all was up I remember being pulled out from under the earth, and also telling the other chap to
go for his life as I thought I was done, but no he came back and was pulling me down the trench to the dressing station, anyway that happened about half past ten, I layed in the trench till the early hours of the morning and then off I went to the dressing station and from there on to the ambulance waggon which was waiting just behind the line.
I soon got a move on through a few dressing stations and on to what is know as No 3 clearing station where you get the train for Etaples, which I did after about a day’s rest at this station.
I went to the Canadian hospital at Etaples which is mostly Marques, I was in x ward and the second afternoon we were there
our marque caught fire, and how I do not know, anyway every case was a walking one so we all got out without any injury.
I remained at this place for about a week and then I was marked for Blighty.
We left the hospital about one pm and we were off in the train for
CalaCalais where we embarked for Blighty, it was not long before we got a move on, but the boat I do not remember the name as I was too sick to look.
It only took about an
1 hou hour & a half to run across the channel but I will never forget it as it was very choppy.
I was never sick all the way from Australia to Egypt, but by Jove I was sick coming across the channel this time.
We landed at Dover and just near the wharf was the station where a train was waiting for to convey us to Leicester, which was the first English hospital I went too.
We started at half past twelve noon and as it was in the month of August all the harvest was stacked up in the fields ready to be taken into be stored away.
We steamed on through Kent which I may say is a very pretty place, and just at the time we came through the hops were green and looked very pretty.
After a few hours
hrtravelling we came on the outskirts of London as I was told by some of the boys, we did not stop but sped on through all stations except just before we got to our destination we had a halt at a small place for
a little water and then on we went again, and before long we were at Leicester, we reached there about half past six.
On the station there was a lot of nice things ready for us to eat, but I may say we were not given any time to eat anything. We were bunged in to the motors and off we went, at the gates there were about a thousand people to greet us and oh what a cheer, such a one I had not heard since I had left Sydney football ground 18 months previous, anyway all the way up to the hospital which is about a mile and a half from the station we were cheered and one old chap
through threw 2 packets of cigarettes into the motor.
We were soon at the hospital
and after a bit of fooling about we were taken to our wards.
That night was about the best I had had since I had left home as I had a nice bed to sleep on and no shell’s buzzing about
me to wake me.
Next morning I was not allowed to get out of bed, in fact for 3 days after we were not out of bed, but it got very tiresome especially seeing all the people coming in to visit their friends and girls coming to see their boys, I can tell you it made one feel off side, although I had a mate and he was the same way.
Anyway when we were able to get about we had a few trips out to wounded soldiers sports which were held every Saturday although we were only supposed
to go to the ones we were told off for, but we Aussy’s always’s seemed to get somehow.
We remained in this hospital for 4 week’s and I may say I enjoyed myself, but the only thing we boys got a bad name as we would not allow the head sisters sit on us. There was a park next door to the hospital and nealy every night a few of the boy’s were missing, they made a big mistake by putting the Australians next to a park, it ended up anyway by all of them being sent back to their own hospitals.
After leaving Leicester we went down to Southall one of our own hospitals which had just opened, and is only nine miles out of London.
I remained at this hospital
about 7 week’s in which time I moved into about 3 different wards. At this place I had an operation which I soon got over.
I may say at this hospital we had a lot more leave than we did at Leicester, and besides the sisters being Australian understood our way’s.
I had a real good time at Southall during my stay, besides making a few friend’s and any way I was real sorry to leave it.
From Southall I went on my furlough, which I had being praying for.
I went to Bonnie Scotland to Glasgow first after spending about a week there I made tracks back to Edinburgh which I may say I like much better than Glasgow, as Glasgow is a commercial city and Edinburgh
is more open and plenty of sights to be seen.
While I was at Edinburgh I visited the Castle, Forth Bridge, Hollyrood palace, Portobello, a seaside resort which I may say was a very pretty pace although I was not there at the right time to see the sights, I was quite satisfied with my tour and by jove if ever I had another chance I would go there before any other place outside Aussy. After my furlough I reported back to Peraham Downs which is on Salisbury Plains, I landed down there on the 29th November and I may say it is absolutely one of the worst paces I have ever seen in the wet weather, mud up to your ankles.
I remained at this place two days which was quite long enough
for me, from there I had a trip down to Wareham which is a big training camp now.
After being there a few days we were classified that is put in to our classes according to the nature of our wound or sickness, I was marked class B1B. which means further treatment or under observation, I was ten week in this class before being sent down to Waymouth. Wareham I may mention is a very ancient place in fact the old Roman walls which these people had built around their village, so as to keep out anybody who may try to invade their stronghold. There are also other marks
of that date back for years, for instance there is an old church which I believe dates back 700 year’s so you can see it is a very old, of
course it is never used now, as it is so small, if you were to try to swing a cat around you would find it very difficult to do so.
There is nothing to see around Wareham, so we had to go out a few miles to amuse ourselves. About 3½ miles from Wareham there is a very ancient castle which we read about in the history book’s at school, and that was Corfe Castle, the castle the Roman soldiers could never take.
This castle dates back many and many years, but to day it is laying in ruins, being destroyed by act of parliment somewhere in the 17th century, for what reason I do not know.
I visited this place a few times, as I fell in love with the old fashioned
little village, while there on the second visit a mate and myself though instead of running back to camp we would buy our tea out there and go back to camp a bit later than usual.
We went into a shop and the lady recomended us to a friend of hers who lived a few doors away. We were taken down and as soon as we went inside we feelt like as if we were at home again, as it was Winter there was a fairly big fire burning and
we the room was well heated.
After a bit of talking tea was got ready, which I may say I enjoyed very much, we had every thing we wished for, then after tea was the time, there was a couple of old armchairs in the room, so the old lady told us to sit in them and get near the fire
which we did, and we got our pipes out and layed back as if we owned the place, and also the two big cats that layed at our feet made the place like as if we were at home, it was really the first home away from home I have had so far.
We remained till 8 o’clock that night and I am sure if we had not been due back to camp we could have stayed there all night. As I was shifted from Wareham the next week I could not visit the old lady any more, and I was real sorry as she was a good old lady.
I only remained at Wareham for 10 week’s, and here we were stationed in big huts and they were a big improvement on the old tents, of course there are as
many as 30 can get in one tent at once, as it was winter it was alright.
For eight week’s out of ten I did mess orderly and I may say it was pretty cold getting out of bed at 7 in the morning.
After leaving Wareham I was sent to Weymouth which is a fashionable seaside resort on the south coast of England.
Weymouth I may mention is only 14 miles away from Wareham, and it is a place where all the boys who are going home are sent.
I went to a place called Monte Video Camp which is 2 miles out of the town, I was classified at this place and put under the doctor for about six week’s that meant you had to eat drink and sleep to fill in your time, after six week I was
sent before a medical board which consists of two majors and a captain they are to decide if you are fit or not any way I was marked C1 which means unfit for active service fit for home service so I was in my glee at not being sent back to France.
I was transfered to another company and while in this company applications were called for a few jobs in London and I took the chance and put in and as luck would have it I was one of the lucky ones.
I was sent off from Weymouth somewhere in March and that meant I was missing see the English people enjoying their dip in the briny, anyway I was glad to get out of the mud and slosh of the camp, at this place too I may mention we were in huts and this
time I had besides others two mess orderlies to wait on us.
I left Weymouth for London about 7 o’clock one morning in March and as we were just begining to get some lovely weather, there were some nice sights to be seen all the way up, besides get a glimpse at the famous Brooklands motor track and a few other things of importance. We had anything from four to 7 hours ride before pulling into Waterloo Station, London which was our destination, as there was about 14 of us, with all our kit bag’s we decided to hire a motor to take us to where we wanted to go, after collecting a few shillings from the boys we moved off to our place where we had to report and that did not take long as it was not far away. We reported to our
Headquarters in London and after a bit of fooling about as is generally the case we were marched of to our place where we had to work, which was just oppisite the offices.
We were taken in a room where we were told the whats and whats nots of the place and after we had to stand bye for a while as we had to have a pass to go on the street. We were told off to our duties which did not start till the next day.
Our next problem was to go and look for a room to stay in and as I had not been in London to much it was very hard to know which way to start, any way while in London your best friend is a policeman so I went up and asked him and he directed me to a place
in about ten minutes
walk from the Club where I was to work. While in London I had a real good look around seeing some of the principle sight that had to be seen, and also enjoying myself very much. I remained in London about 9 weeks, and then my head came against me I had to leave the work and go in hospital.
The work in London consisted of serving meals out and doing odd job’s it was at the War Chest Club, Horseferry Rd, London.
This place I may mention is a big hostel for soldiers, and they can accommandate 600 in the two bit hall’s for sleeping. This place is also run by funds provided by the people of Sydney, and it provides a lot for the Tommies as well as our boys.
As I said I took sick and had to go to Harefield Hospital which is 30 miles away from London, and while there I had a good time. Harefield is a very pretty place but has no town of any sort, it is a very healthy place.
I remained there for a week, and from there down to Weymouth again this time I went to Weymouth everything was different in the camp. I was sent to Monte Video Camp, and here I met a few of my old friends that I was with before. After spending a few weeks at Monte Video in which I did plenty of guard and fatigues I was sent to Verne Citadel which was a new place opened for our boys.
This place I may mention is on a very big hill in fact
you could really call it a mountain.
This place in its time was a big fort but owing to the modern guns, it was transferred into an observation post and a few other post’s of value. I had a good time here, but there was no
place town of any interest attached to it, I may mention the name of the place is Portland where the famous stone comes from, and where also there is a prison where most of the convicts were sent to do long sentences and from what I could gather some of the first convicts that were sent out to Australia were from this place.
Here also is the famous Chesil Beach which is formed of nice
wh washed up one night when a storm was raging, some hundred’s of years ago, as far as your eye can see you cannot see the end of this beach.
I remained at Portland for a fortnight, and then came what I had been waiting for, for quiet a long time, and that was my name came out on a boat roll to go to Australia, and I may say that was the best news I had heard for a long time. We got a move on from Verne at eight o’clock one Sunday morning in July and from the camp down to the railway station we marched it was no distance, but what did we care how far it was, we were on our way home.
From the camp down to the station we had the band with us and the sound of it brought every body around on to the main street, and then there was some good bye’s said, and a few other things passed which I will not mention.
Of course we had a few to see us off at the station, it was like leaving Sydney only on a smaller scale.
When the whistle blew, the band struck up Home Sweet Home, and also Keep the Home fires burning, and they were minutes of suspence as our minds drifted back to our dear ones and the sunny land we had left behind us. Anyway we were off perhaps never to see Portland again, on we went through Weymouth, and then on
we went to the main line.
we We traveled the most of the day before reaching the port of embarkation.
I may say about half way to this
po port we were treated to a bun and also a lovely cup of tea provided by the Lord and Lady Mayoress of Exeter, and it was well appreciated by all as we were fairly hungry. After leaving Exeter we saw some of the nicest scenery, I have seen since landing in England. We would run along the coast and then run into a tunnel, and when you come out you are looking at the fresh green trees and the country houses. We arrived at our destination about half past three in the afternoon of a bright Sunday
in July, and I may say it opened my eyes to see all the big troopships both laden and empty, laying about the warfe’s, also hospital ships to say nothing of the torpedo and other ships belonging to the navy.
I may mention this port was Mill Bay Dock, Plymouth, we embarked the same day as we distintrained and the same afternoon we down stream, and as it was Sunday afternoon all the people lined the bank’s and gave us a fair well cheer, perhaps the last we may hear off the shores of England, anyway it was returned with cheer’s and (Coo’ee) or something like it. We did not go out as we expected, and to our amazement they dropped anchor, and a lot of
hearts dropped too, as we wanted to get away as soon as we could, so as to get home to our dear ones as fast as we could be taken.
We layed down the stream for three day’s, and then on a nice evening we started to pull out past the other transports.
I may mention there were nine other big ships besides our’s. There were two Australian and all the rest were Tommy’s going on garrison duty abroad.
Well when our transport started to move past the Tommy’s boat there were all sorts of shouting going on, and all of a sudden some on our boat started, to play a few old tunes on his cornet, such as Should Auld Acquantace Be Forgotten and a few others, and when he
finished there came three hearty cheer’s from the Tommy transport, which was returned in good humor. I may mention our boat’s name was the Nestor and up to the time of writing this, which is at sea I will always be satisfied to travel anywhere on her.
After leaving port we had to wear our lifebelts everywhere we went, and also go to our boats stations every morning which was for in case we were torpedoed or mined.
This place just out side is just where submarines wait for the British ships, and anything to a radious of a 1,000 miles. Our first port of call was a port on the west coast of Africa, which I believe is called the white man’s grave, as it is so hot and fever
After about ten days sail from England we pulled into this little port which is known as Sierra Leaon and its population consists of mostly black’s.
We stayed here just long enough to take in water and coal, which I think was about two day’s and then off again.
We headed out to sea, and it was not long before we were out of sight of the land.
Before going any furthur I may say Sierra Leaon is one of the prettiest places I seen, of course it is like all other topical places plenty of green palms and nice red tiled houses.
say said we headed out to sea, and although we cannot see any land or have not
up to the present, which is 12 day’s, we still have a few things to break the strain such as concert’s now and again, and of a night when weather permit’s all the boys used to have a sing song between themselves, and that is what is wanted, as it takes your mind off a lot of things.
As I am writing this which is on the mess deck there are little group’s every where amusing themselves with cards and draughts, and within a few days we expect to reach Cape Town, South Africa, and I hope so too, as it is getting very monotonous.
We reached Cape Town, 25th August, and we went straight into the dock’s alongside the wharves and it was only a matter of a few hour’s before we were
allowed ashore, and I may say it was a great relief as we had been on the boat a little too long with out any exercise.
As soon as we got on shore we made straight for the town, which is a fairly large place and has some nice buildings.
As we had been on the ships food for a while, we thought we would like a change onto something fresh, and I may tell you nealy all the cook shop’s were filled with hungry Anzac’s.
We remained in port for a few day’s and while we were in port we were allowed ashore.
One of the best tram rides I have ever been on, was the one I had while at this place, it runs from the middle of the town out to a place
called Camp’s Bay, you go over hills and down dales, round the sides of the mountains before getting to your destination.
The trip back was a different direction and was not quite as mountainious but was just as pretty as far as scenery went. The population of this place, to me seemed mostly dark, of course you could not class them as black as their skin just showed the streak, but never the less they were good to the boy’s.
This place I may say is a pretty place as they have a range of mountains runing just behind the town, and with the red tiled houses showing against the black background made it show out a lot.
We left Cape Town about half past five on the 28th August and headed straight out to sea.
I may say we had about nine ships with us till we reached Cape Town of course including a man o’war but after leaving the port we were alone, and in one way I was glad as we could make our own pace, where when we had the rest we had
the to go to suit the others which were very slow.
The next morning we woke up we were well out to sea and as there was a heavy swell on, the boat was being tossed about like a shell, and it did not agree with a few who had attacked the beer and wine and had forgotten to leave it off before it had them well in hand, and then
the worst part of it had to be contested.
After leaving Cape Toun we headed for Fremantle, which took about 15 days to get there, and I besides others thought it was going to take a year as our eyes were aching to get a glimpse of our sunny shores, anyway in due time we arrived there.
I may mention we had the misfortune to have to bury a chap just after leaving the Cape, but I suppose it had to be.
There was another occurance that happened, and which it is not often witnessed at sea anyway and that was a snow storm.
We were out about a week
when this happened and I may say it was very cold, in fact I really thought we were heading back to England, but instead we had gone a long way off our course and at the time we were down South.
Anyway after a trip which we could not complain about we pulled into Fremantle on the 13th Sep, and the same day we were allowed ashore.
We no sooner hit shore than the women who had provided a real good tea, told us to go to the train which was waiting to convey us to Perth.
We had the special train soon packed and off we went and it did not take long before we reached our destination, and from the station we were taken
over the road to Boan Bros big stores and on the top floor our tea was waiting for us, and what a lovely turn out, you could not wish for any better, and while in this place we had a ribbon pined on our breast
whit with a few welcome words printed on them, well for the after noon I had a good time. After having a good look around Perth (in fact we stayed at Perth till 10 pm that night) we made back for the boat, well as everyone had enjoyed themselves so much they were that tired that they forgot to talk all night light like they usualy do.
Next day was Saturday and we were expected up at Perth to be given a welcome home feast by the residents of W.A. but owing
to the dirty mongrels being on strike we who had been away fighting for them could not get ashore owing to our ship having to pull out in mid stream to get coaled by free labor.
It would have been a sorry day for the dirty lot of scunks if the boy’s could have got at them, at that time they were all waiting outside the Wharfe to deal it out to some free labourer, but if the Boys had got them they would have been mince meat now.
We pulled out from there after 2 days stay, and headed across the Bight for Adelaide which we reached after a few days sail of good weather.
At the Wharfe where we pulled in at Port Adelaide there was a big
spread and I can tell you we did wine in and after that meal was over we went up in a special train to Adelaide which lays a few mile from the port, anyway we had a good day at the capital with of course plenty to eat free of charge, and after getting all we could we went back to the ship. Like all soldiers get all you can for nothing.
We did not get away till next afternoon but our dinner was provided by the V.A.Ds on the wharfe so we were in luck’s way. We got away from this port alright and after a few days we came to our destination or rather the boat did that was port Melbourne.
We were taken off the boat and put into motor cars and
driven off, and oh what a hurrah and cheer’s we got when we got outside the gates in fact for miles along the streets.
had had flowers fruit cigars and everything thrown in at us, it made ones heart jumpy to think that these people had not forgot us although we had been away some for a few months some for a few years, and yet I may add we did not belong to this state, but as we had been away and done what we could we were all treated as one of there own boys. Bravo. Melbourne. We were taken into a big closed in place where we were supplied with as nice a dinner as I had had for many a nice day.
After dinner we were put into
motors and driven to one of the big stations, I think it was Flinders St, we were put into our carraige about 4 in each and when it was full up off we went with a huge cheer from right along the train.
We had a fine journey up to Aulbury which is the border station, and I may say the place all along was under flood.
When we got to Albury we had to change trains, but before doing so we had some tea provided for us on the station.
We were put in sleeping berth’s oh so lovely and all along the line we had visits from people who loaded us up with coffee and all sorts of refreshments in fact we got that much we could not eat it all.
This sort of thing was kept going till 12 o’clock that night so we were well done for, anyway we got to sleep after twelve as we were not stopping at many stations.
About 7 o’clock next morning we were woce up to have breakfast at Moss Vale bacon and egg’s fancy in old N.S.W. again. Anyway away we got again after being supplied with cigarettes & a few other things from the good old Red Cross and also a cheer.
When we came doun past old Liverpool all heads were out of the windows looking at the old camp which ninty per cent of them had been trained at.
At Granville which is the
junction of lines we were treated to a good bit of cock-a doodle do and very nice too, in fact all the way down there was plenty of flag waving & shouting.
When we got to Sydney Station cheering was at its height but as the weather was very sultry out reception was not as we expected it, but never the less
wll it was fair.
We were told off in motor cars and away we went but no flowers or fruit were thrown at us like Melbourne, but we were home.
At the bottom of the station there was a chap in our car who sang out to his mother and she flew in the car the car never opened the door and as she had never
seen him for a few years she nealy chewed him up but I got my share of her affection as I said the streets were very sloppy. Well she was that taken up with son she forgot to keep her feet to herself so I looked like a door mat when I got out, what odds she was satisfied.
We were taken down to the domain to the Anzac Buffet and served with tea and a little pay, before being allowed to go home.
Anyway my mother was there to meet me, and that was the end of a long dream I had had of home and which I may say came true after a little waiting.
After a little leave I was put
into Randwick hospital for six weeks, from which place I received my discharge. While at Randwick I had a good time, the sisters there were very good to us.
I received my discharge on the 3rd November 1917 and it was the little piece of paper I had been looking forward too for a long while.
Of course I have had an exceptionally good time throughout my travels & I hope I have the luck to be able to repeat my lot again minus the war part.
4014A. Pte A. Brown 3rd Batt
Mahfeesh = Finish
On the 4 September 1917 snow storm on sea
Egyptian – Answer
Impshee – Clear out
Heggory – Hurry up
Saheeda – Greeting
Quaiso – Good
Quaiso Rita – Very Good
Mush Quaiso – No Good
Bookara – Tomorrow
Ismah – Hey
Buck Sheesh – Tip
Feloosh – Money
Mahfeesh – There is none. Finished.
Mensh – Keep to the right.
10 millims = 1 Piastre
100 Piastres = 1 Pound
1/4 s = 1 millime
2½ s – 1 piastre
1/- = 4 piastres
2/- = 9 piastres
2/6 = 12 piastres
10/- = 48 piastres
20/- = 97½ Piastres
[Refer to image for symbols]
Greetings From Over The Sea
Only a word of greeting –
over the miles apart
Good health and truest pleasure
I wish you from my heart
Your hand I would be clasping
Your face I long to see
And wish that you were nearer
To the old home and me
p. 40 ‘Eblingham’ – means Ebblinghem
p. 42 ‘Sailley’ – means Sailly
p. 46 ‘Fleubeaux’ – means Fleurbaix
p. 53 ‘St Ouen’ – means Saint-Ouen
p. 58 ‘Poziers’ – means Pozieres
p. 66 ‘Herusart’ – possibly means Herissart
p. 79 ‘Perham Downs’ – means Perham Down
p. 80 ‘Waymouth’ – means Weymouth
p. 88 ‘Horseferay Rd’ – means Horseferry Road
p. 94 ‘Mill Bay Dock’ – means Millbay Dock
p. 97 ‘Sierra Leaon’ – means Sierra Leone
p. 106 ‘V.A.D.’ – probably means Voluntary Aid Detachment
[Transcribed by Alison O'Sullivan and Judy Macfarlan for the State Library of New South Wales]