Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Basil Bruce Williamson war narrative, 13 August 1914-6 January 1915
MLMSS 7234/Item 1
Reg No 1050
No stamp available
B Williamson C Company
First Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force
Rabaul New Britain
[Ribbons attached to page]
Trip of Australian Expeditionary Force
Which I enlisted on the 13 day of August and camped 5 day in showgrounds. We left the showgrounds at 11.30 Tuesday the 18 and boarded the Berrima at 2 o’clock at Cockato Island and stop there till daylight and then move off up the stream. We anchored till 12.30 on Wednesday the 19th .for naval Officers and then steamed straight out the heads for a unknown place.
The pilot saw us out of the heads with a send off with a cock a doodle-do. While we were on our trip some of the lads run to the sides of the boat to look at the fish and all of a sudden they thought of their mothers and fathers by being seasick. We put in our time by drilling 2 hours in the morning and 2 in the afternoon. It was very tedious to do our drill with the motion of the boat.' Most of our time we put in by smoking playing cards, gambling, which games were crown and anckor and Banker. Some
of them had the luck to win and some had the luck to loose. You would be surprise to know where the money came from. The next Item is Boxing we put in every night for about 2 hours Boxing there were some cracks amongst us and they gave us a entertainment one receive a black eye with great pleasure the other few smash one or two nuckles his luck was out. Next a dry canteen open after we receive pay and things cost us for cigarettes per packet 1h and we were only allowed 2 packets per man a week and two small tins of tobacco at 4% and a man was only allowed the tobacoo or cigarettes one or the other. We had a very hard fight to get any as the officers were using it for their own use. Then we came on to calm weather and then we were beginning to pick up by eating. The food we receive was good and sometimes no good. The mess ordleys name us the wolfs as we had to fight for our food because the mess ordleys used to
take there share first. When men at the fare end of the table would receive what was left. We use to have porridge twice a week on Wednesdays and Sundays and it stucked to our insides like glue and plum-duff twice a week and it was that heavy that if we fell overboard we would have sunk.
As we were on the water for four days we suddenly woke up by hearing the bugle call at 5.30 we found ourself anchor at the mouth of Brisbane river. We saw one gun boat the proteeter and when we were leaving we got caught on a sand bank and had to wait for the tide to rise. When we got out again it begun to roll again and it upset them again. We were still travelling on the water and someone cried out land there's land boys and we all rush to the side and found it to be the beginning of the reef. When we were looking at the reef someone sang and from the other side and said a German ship was in sight and it was
found to be the battleship Sydney. When we..were in the reef we were going between Islands and it look beautiful sights. We were escorted on to Palm Island by the Sydney before we reach Palm Island the Sydney left us and went for coal at Townsvilles. We were on our own till we got to Palm Island and we found the Encounter waiting for us. Well we drop our anchor and stop at Palm Island a week. The Sydney returned again in two days.
While we were there we had boatracing and we had great concerts a nightime to fill in the time. We were sent ashore for a little shooting and the boat could not reach the shore and then we had to get out and puddle in all our
and kits. When we were on shore we receive 5 rounds of
bullets which I made 15 marks. Then when we were returning to the Berrima we sighted a boat coming in towards us and it stop till it got mails from us. In 2 days we receive a few mails and the store boat from Townsville with stores
of meat, potatoes, onions, and few case of apples. We tasted the applies (l don't think) the officer eat them all. We seen the Officers sitting down to a 3 course dinner and drinking and eating food that should have been supplied to the boys.
We left Palm Island with the Sydney, Encounter, and 2 submarines and bound straight for Port Morsby. Well we reach the opening of the reef and got in the rough water again. I -just happen to be on guard at the time when we left the reef and got shaken up a little bit. I was on the back portion of the boat at the time and had the motion of the propeller. Well some of the men could not stand the shock very much because it was to strong for them so they were nearly over the boat. About 5 O'clock someone shouter out land and we could see one of the torpedo boat destroyer (Warrego) searchlights
from a distance of 4 or 4 miles we became closer and closer and reach Port Morsby and sail up the river for about 3 and 4 miles. We stop there for 2 day and left there on the Sunday. While we were there backfellows came in canoes and sold coconut for all prices 6 1/- 2/- each so they did a good trade.
We left on the Sunday with 3 more destroyers the Parramatta, Yarra and Warrigo and anothe troopship from Queensland with cadets. But when we got a day sail out at sea the Queenslanders turn back and went home. We went straight on for another day and we see some smoke in the distance and it turn out to be the Australia it got up with no and we went on to a little island and drifted about for a day and night and then off the next day at noon and came across a number of small oil and coal
boats and a destroyer.
We started off again and we know that we were bound for the Germans Island. When we got out in the open. The Encounter and two destroyers the Yarra and Warrego left us at full speed and steamed straight for the German Island Rabaul and got there and swept for mines. When they found none they went down the harbour and found they did not surrender so they sent about 25 sailors and Dr Pockleys and went a short and found the roads and hills entrench.
That how so many got kill. Just then the Berrima and the Australia arrives and came to the rescue. Then we landed
2 companys and got out towards the firing line.
While they were away we seen Cap Dr Pockleys and a German soldier getting carried on the Berrima and another sailor names William was bought on the Berrima
to. There were other injurer men bought on board to. Well about half an hour Dr Pockley and Williams died within a minute of each other and were taken over and buried in the cemetery at Herbertshohe. Well the fighting went on and the troop became to come closer and closer and just reach the firing line at dark. They camp there till daylight. By that time the troops had them driven away and we captured 2 or 3 trenches. There were 3 sailors killed and buried them in the trenches where they fell. The Germans were doing pretty bad damage and the troops were call back to the boat.
Next day at daylight the Sydney shells the ground all round the wireless station and hunted all the Germans away. Then we had chance of getting there they had the roads and hills mine. There were a number
of Germans and Blacks shot and killed.
Soon after we were move on to Rabaul and landed about 2.30 in the afternoon every one of us landed and the way we came ashore if there were some machine guns there we would
have been cut down in dozens. We march up the street and
all the time the Germans and Niggers were running about and the sentrys were kept on singing out half who goes there. Well we came in front of a large store and stood for an hour and the officers went upstairs and found a German sleeping in one of the rooms. Two of the boys with fix banets search him and all the place and then left a guard over him.
Well we woke up the next morning and found that we were in the middle of the town. There were sentrys put out and it happen to be our Company C on a Sunday
and we were posted all over the place. Just about 2 O'clock the flag was flown. 3 cheers were given. Just at that time I.we guarding a quite number of blacks about 50 of them. They were lovely looking objects. They smelled and we not care for the job very much but soon after the company past us and gave eyes right to the Colonel Homes.
We were relieved by a number of black police and fell in behind our company. Well it was funny to hear all the shots getting fired through the night. They would fired at anything they thought was a enemy. Well the first night we had the risk of being shot. There was one nigger coming along the road and the sentry sang out halt and he kept on walking and running and the sentry turn around and shot him. They were shooting at pigs, fouls dogs and others that were straying about at night.
Well when C Company relieved
D Company on top of the hill we started out from the barrack at 5 o’clock in the morning and we relieve them at 6 o'clock. When 2 other and myself relieve 3 of them at the sport they told us that we have to keep a good watch and they told us that the three were up all night. There were 2 creeks each side and a path from the back of the house down to the beach about 2 miles. Well they took us and show us a post among some bushes that they took for a man and it was covered in bullets.
Well we had the day all right we had a case of mix fish sardines salom and different kinds of meats. Then we had bag of rice that we got out of a german house the other side. Well night time came on and we had a fair night of it.
There were few pig
getting about now and then we got a bit of shock.Well we all did our 2 hours each and didn1t fire a shot.
We were relieved by another company next morning and then had to march back to Rabaul. Well we were put on guard at Rabaul till further notice. Now we'come on to the food that was supplied to us while on garrison. The Officer got the pick of every thing. They got all the frist meat in the ice house and left us a couple of day of it and then had to live on bully meat and biscuits. There was a bake house built 3 week later and we were supplied with bread. We never got any vegetables, rice, fruit or anything but bully beef and biscuits (Hardmans). The coffee and tea was terrible. They never used to put much sugar in and no milk. Most of us used to buy things and make it a got meal. We had two and three marches One was
to Matupi Island. We started out at 6 o'clock and stop out for the day.
We had plenty of swimming and sports in the afternoon with the niggers. We were throwing small coins in the water from a wharf and had a diving and jumping match. It was fun to see the little ones about 3 years old swimming in about 12 feet of water.
Well about 5 o'clock we fell in and marched away home again and got back to the barrick about 6 o1 clock. We had low tea and sat on the log talking and thinking when we were leaving thus unearthly place but the time is passing for it won't belong.
We start out on another march for 2 day. We went through the tunnel and then to the beach at the north of the Island. We stop there till 3 o'clock and march 4 more miles further and camp for the night. It was a beautiful march
walking on the road marching through big coconuts plantation each side then we come to the big steam factory where they make cobre.
Well we left next morning and went into a different direction about 10 miles and return to the barrick about 5 o’clock just in time to receive our mail. Soon as we finish reading our letters it was time for tea of bully and biscuits.
There has been a sports club open and we have one of the German clubs turns into allsorts of games and reading rooms. We put in our time by going down and reading or playing all kings of games. Well as days pass we are put on to guard or lying about the barrick reading and sleeping.
Hark we are getting fresh meat and potatoes which is getting landed from the boat that just arrive. We only get
fresh meat when a boat arrive as it don't keep long here as for the hot weather. Of course we get pretty hot day here.
Well we are posted out on a new place and it is tiptop.
We posted at a large tunnel about 4 miles from Rabaul town and it right on the north of the Island. We camp on top of a hill and we get the fresh breeze from the sea. We have the two guards one at each end of the tunnel numbering 6 men and 1 n.o.c. and we do little bits now and then.
We run into town every second or third morning for food.
We have half an hour work in the morning and lie down for the rest of the day. About 2 o'clock we go for a swim in the beach and it is lovely. Sometimes it is like Coogee or Bondi and sometimes calm. Well we are living
up to everythink. We get plenty of fruits, and we have a good feed. Their was the sending off Col Holmes and receiving the new governer and he sails this day January 6th 1915 for Sydney and we sail later.
(Good bye Rabaul. New Britan)
By Del M.Coy
She faced no battle flame, she hear no German gun;
The ships without a name the luckless AEI
Yet were her sailors lives no less for empire lost,
And mother sweethearts, wives must pay, the bitter cost
Australia’s warships sweep the broad Pacific main
But one from out the deep will never rise again
Yet we shall not forget through all the years that run
The fate that she has met Goodby to AEI
But in their iron cell they sank beneath the waves
Untouched by shot or shell they drifted to the graves
untill their painful breath at last began to fail
Upon there way to death let pity draw the veil
They would not mind the blow but cut of sound & sight
Of comrades [indecipherable] fire they passed to endless night
Deep down on Oceans floor far from the wind & sun
They rest for ever more. Goodbye to AEI.
A harder fate was theirs than mens who fight & die
But still Australia care & will not pass them by.
When. Honors lists are read there names will surley be
Among the gallant dead who fought to keep us free
There winding sheet is that there Sepulchre is wide
The sea birds scream and wheel when silently they die
There is a monument of History began.
When down to death they went Goodbye AEI