Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Frank Valentine Weir letter diary, 1 January-31 December 1917
MLMSS 1024/3/Item 3

[Transcriber’s note: This is the third diary of Captain Frank Valentine Weir and covers 1917. During the course of this year he is promoted to Major. The diary is a record of his experiences of war but also a means of communication with his mother and family and hence he sends home pages of the diary at different times. During the year he becomes ill and is sent to hospital in Cairo . Later in the year he obtains leave to go to England to see his English wife, whom his family have not met. He travels by boat to Marseilles and then by train through Italy and France, finally reaching England towards the end of October. He describes his time in England, attending the theatre many times in London and finally, with his wife, Dolly, who is going to work with the Red Cross in Cairo, he returns to Egypt. ]

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[This page not transcribed]

[Page 2]

Monday, 1 January 1917

Posted notes yesterday with Photos of Turkish Officers etc., - enclosed. Rough night & No. 1 Pier & a Steam Trawler are wrecked just like Anzac over again. Our efforts always seem so puny against the Sea – am Prosecutor on a Court Martial today.

Weather cleared up & we have a sunny New Years Day.

Evening, 3 planes bombed Al Arish while Court sat. Some men stand up & try & photo, but I’ll admit if I hear the bomb coming through the air I like to lie down – but in the sand bombs are more demoralizing than effective. DUST STORM blowing tonight everything sand, & the Horses move & are reformed.

[Page 3]

Tuesday, 2 January 1917

Big Khamsin last night & sand dunes are formed & others blown away.
Some Scotchmen I knew in the King’s own Scottish Borderers came over & gave me a bottle of Whiskey for New Year celebrations. We sat on the edge of our bunkers and drank it with sand. Sand better than mud tho’.

[This paragraph crossed through.] I note dear old Day is sending me new Bed Soks – I am still wearing the ones she made me last year, quite good. Big mail in – Letters from Mother, Joe & Day., redirected from England & also one to catch me here. Many people wrote, some sent Xmas cards!! a silly idea, to a man in the Desert in the Wet. I hope Mother you will go to Melbourne soon & get out of the heat, with Day.

[Page 4]

Wednesday, 3 January 1917

Still cold & wet. I have plenty of Kit if a man can carry it that is the trouble.
We are off again on another stunt in 12 hours – but hear the infantry are to be given a chance of some fighting this time.

Two A.S.C. men were killed by bombs yesterday. My house of Bags, oil sheet & blankets lets in the wet but I don’t take off any clothing you may be sure & we had a Rum issue last night.

[This paragraph crossed through.] Aunt Louise wrote, & so many others it is good of them but I can’t possibly answer all.

I get a lot of writing as Adjutant, apart from letters. Have just had a long yarn with Jim Ayre, he wishes to be remembered to you all.

[Page 5]

Thursday, 4 January 1917

[This paragraph crossed through.] Dorothy does not sing or play but she can SKATE, DANCE, & play HOCKEY, eat, never sick, & is as strong as a horse quite ready to come into the Bush with me, she is not too happy at home I am afraid Father & Mother don’t get on well together. Of course she will love you little Mother & it will be a great day when I come home!!! Just wrote some letters.

It is still cold wet & raining. 2 Scotchmen dug themselves a Bivy in the sand and last night it fell in & smothered one, the other is in Hospital. We expect to go on a stunt tonight again – it will be cold, but no mud & am very fit & well.

Jim is thin but well - & we talked HAY till late.

[Page 6]

Friday, 5 January 1917

El Arish

The Railway will be here today – wonderfully quick work considering the weather. Stunt postponed owing to RAIN – Rail made 1 & ½ KILO per day.

[This paragraph crossed through.] Health of men not too good. Barcoo Rot very prevalent owing to poor Tucker.

Very lousy camp this owing to Turks& Bedouins being here so long. Food is the great trouble here. 2 lbs per man of green stuff & often not that is allowed, so the men ride miles for a few Bushes etc. to cook with. This is a poor Country & the Bedouins are starving. They sift the horse manure for the few grains to be got out of it.

[Page 7]

Saturday, 6 January 1917

El Arish

Still raining one gets nearly dry by midday only to get wet at night. The country here is better than nearer the Canal, 1000s of acres of wheat have been planted in the Sand & Fig Trees are everywhere.

Well water can be got at about 12 feet & pretty good at that. No grass only edible bush that camels graze on. My notes are scribbled in all places & bear their gypsy begetting, but if they are of interest to you & afire others I am well repaid.

Had a wash in the sea – cold - 1000s of Gypsy Egyptians I suppose labourers are building the Railway & the Station is just being formed. 1st TRAIN tomorrow.

[Page 8]

Sunday, 7 January 1917

Fine & warm again. Mule watching an enemy plane flying over – a big mob of PELICANS came along in their usual PHALANX formation & as one wag says said "the Orderly Sergeant behind to see they keep their "dressing & don’t fall out". Very few game birds here except a few ducks & plover.

[This sentence crossed through.] Parcel from Selfridges sent by Lance - I have been very lucky of late in receiving letters & parcels.

Brigadier inspected lines always know Sunday by his visits.

Church Parade – Padres could tell us a lot of interesting stuff about this Country if they knew. Am sorry to see by Papers "Carbinder" is dead – I rode GUNSHOT at Romani a good horse.

[Page 9]

Monday, 8 January 1917

Real Riverina winter’s day.

Bombed during day – 22 Killed, 15 wounded out of Egyptian Labor Corps & a few horses – 2 L.H. At 9 o’clock last night 4 TAUBES came over in the moonlight & dropped 40 odd bombs & played their machine guns on us. I don’t know results yet but they rattled about our Bivouacs & yet we are told we have the supreme say in the air. Uncanny at night one Officer called out LIE down & inadvertently dropped into a Bucket of Water.

Going out tonight on our postponed Stunt, should be a good scrap.

A Bedouin Dog stole our Bacon, that is worse or as bad as a Taube. Bivouaced at Sheik Zowabin.

[Page 10]

Tuesday, 9 January 1917

On Frontier.

Divisional Hd. Qts. were quite surprised that no Funk Holes were made in their Brigade to get into when being Bombed. As John Thorpe has written our men turn round, & "call the Bomb a Bastard" and then go on with their work.

Left Sheik Zowabin at midnight & attacked Rafa 1st L.H. in advance, after riding all night we were not too fresh but our boys kept up their tradition & after a long day’s fighting we captured the position by 5 o’clock together with 4 guns 2 machine guns & all personnel & Slova.

The N.Z.M.R. we must admit did the ‘best’ job, getting the main redoubt.

[This sentence crossed through] Our Casualties 2 Officers wounded 4 men killed 28 wounded.

[Page 11]

Wednesday, 10 January 1917


My mate Major Irwin is shot through the arm – this time I escaped. Without doubt the ANZAC Mtd. Division are a fine lot of men – we bivouaced last night at Sheik Zowabin for 3 hours to rest & then got back to El Risa with PRISONERS. I & Major O’B & another had a bottle FIZZ on our return presented (& kept for the occasion) by our Merchant in Port Said. After tendering Returns to B.H.Q. I shall sleep tonight.

My cob did well on Bedouin wheat, but had no drink for 36 hours!!! Among Turkswe got several German Staff Officers but missed General VON - I took a Belt off a Turk & will get the BUCKLE silver plated for Dolly. All ranks feel well pleased with their work & themselves altho’ we’ve lost a few good men.

[Page 12]

Thursday, 11 January 1917

El Risa

"Pow Wow" at B.H.Q. re our action – General Chauvel rode alongside coming home & said "The boys did well" a little courteousness & thanks go a long way when all a mans nerves are on edge & he’s dog-tired.

We brought in a number of Bedouin & their Camels along with Turkish prisoners. Prisoners were fat & fit. What I have told you is only a part of proceedings. The 1, 2, 3 Regts. & N.Z.M.R. were all in it with Tommy Batteries of 8 guns. Will give you more particulars later, busy reorganising. 5th Mtd. Brigade of Yeomanry were on one flank & got badly cut up. Gloucesters Warwicks & Worcestershire brids. did well & many died gallantly.

[Page 13]

Friday, 12 January 1917

[This sentence crossed through] Posted an old Pay Book & some photos to you today.

A few wounded have died. I’ll give you more particulars later on. We had no time to get anything except Rifles as Turkish Reinforcements are all coming up & we were 20 miles from food & water & first dark, so we collected our Prisoners & guns & got [The following crossed through] 1470 Prisoners counted 120 Prisoners wounded 200 buried in field & left behind. [total] 1790. Bombed again today & the broken shells from our Anti Aircraft fell around us. Our BUS always arrives too late & we have not the supremacy of the air here YET.

[Page 14]

Saturday, 13 January 1917

Hear a mail is in. Still getting a few Turksby our Patrols. Had the Turksused Barb wire at Maghdabad Rafa we would not have done so well. [The following sentence crossed through.] We are not amused BOSH on my neck – fancy as soon as a man gets on the Desert these things start.

I have been given a good book found at Maghaba – Green Mantle by John Buchanan [Buchan]. You should try & get it.

Tried to sleep on a Turkish Officers Stretcher last night but found I did better on the sand. Some of the Turkshave Medals that were given them for their Desert March to Romani!!! in Aug. these things will sell for 20/-.

[Page 15]

Sunday, 14 January 1917

That is proved by the way our men behave when they get the Trenches they do not go on Killing. One German Officer kept firing after the White Flag was put up – he was Court Martialled today & shot.

[This paragraph crossed through] Scotties are now up with us & one chap said "This is El Arish! & alls ‘ell out this way." A good mail from England has been lost at sea so I’ll miss the wifes & Lauras.

Enemy planes over again.

[This paragraph crossed through] All mails between Dec. 18th & 23rd December from England are Lost. I received tonight 2 from Mother 1 JOE 1 Desborough 1 Strong 1 1 Mrs Page 11 arrived. All DEC. 10th.

[Page 16]

Monday, 15 January 1917

Turned out last night to chase some enemy Cavalry but did not do any good.

Padre previous night roused me saying enemy were coming over the hill he was very excited & made me run out. I saw only BUSHES!!! he had been saying his Rosary away by himself & fancied he saw things.

We now have Tents & I share one with R.C. Padre. You will have my letters acknowledging PARCELS long ere this & I am writing with your pen.

I was amused to see among some gifts from the Victorian Racing Club some bottles of Blue Ointment. All my love.

[Page 17]

Tuesday, 16 January 1917

I got the Goggles please thank JOE, posted notes yesterday. Papers Australasian Nov. 25 & Local Papers also came today many thanks. Got a Septic Gland in my neck now like a hungry jaw bullock but will soon be O.K.

[The following paragraph crossed through] The wife is making great preparations for Australia her Mother is giving her a lot of Home advice etc. I tell her don’t bring too much as I’m sure she will be happy, having many friends among all classes.

So many of our Ranks have Septic Sores like Barcoo Rot. I suppose it is the want of Vegetables. We had the same at times away in the Back country but not so bad as this.

[Page 18]

Wednesday, 17 January 1917

Weather getting warmer now, soon hot weather again. Another mine blown up on Beach. A little more peace from bombs last day or two. Our Airmen dropped a message in Beersheba to say for every Bomb the Turksdropped we would drop 5. My mind keeps thinking over the collection of worms at a spot on the Road at Rafa – so like a lot of Rabbits after you have cleaned a PIT out some jumping about others lying quite still. I’m quite used to such sights & they do not affect me now I am glad to say.

[Page 19]

Thursday, 18 January 1917

Men by Troops go to the Beach & are Deloused!!! by the Army Medical detail. PANTS turned inside out brushed with Horse brush & powdered. My Face is like the fat boy from Manly gone Septic but soon alright.

Surf here not too safe. A Doctor was drowned yesterday & several Tommies. Nearly 2 years since I landed in Egypt first.

[The following paragraph crossed through] Much GRAFT exists in the way of Promotions & Decorations & I am satisfied unless a man has someone behind him either wealthy or influential he sees not much chance altho’ the Army is supposed to be so very democratic now. The Democrat dearly loves a [indecipherable].

[Page 20]

Friday, 19 January 1917

[The following sentence crossed through] I send you with this a letter from Major Irwin written from Hos – gives an idea of what he did. Sorry love I tore it. Jim Ayre came & had a long yarn last night hope you can read this can hardly see for a septic gland swelling Face up but soon all right it is the continual TIN stuff & no vegetables I suppose. Old Camping areas, etc. etc. [The following sentence crossed through] Jim Ayre tells me Mrs. McFarland is an Anti conscriptionist & voted NO & some of her sons have volunteered.!!!

We have many Natives from Egypt building Barb wire & entrenching, but unless they can see one of our planes in the air they down tools & run away very afraid of bombs.

[Page 21]

Saturday 20 January 1917

Regiment gone on Reconnaissance, & stayed in the first time on record. I’ve missed a Stunt for sickness but gland not too good, making use of time to write some letters, have posted you a Gippy paper re Rafa. [The following sentence crossed through] I hope you & Day & Dot are now out of the heat for a bit, & change is very necessary & don’t worry about me, I’m alright & will soon be marching home again I hope. Did I tell you the simple way the gunners hide their guns from enemy aircraft – simply a nett like a Tennis net or what I had over the fruit trees at M. Any distance up quite a blank & so light & easy to carry.

[Page 22]

Sunday 21 January 1917

Regiment staying out at the Bivy & the rest may go out tonight. Just got letters from Mother l5/11/16 & Joe enclosing Diary 12/11/16 Diary – been to England & back, I don’t think we missed many.

Very sorry poor little Blackie is dead – I know what a dog’s affection is worth. Re Bulletin Pars re self – there won’t be any PRAM coming home with Dolly & I! Will post this as I never like risking losing or anyone finding my Diary on me.

28 Turksjust be sent in by Regiment. The Bedouins kill them if they get stragglers or deserters. I suppose they would us too.

[Page 23]

Monday 22 January 1917

I have about 160/-/- in Bank in England.
I have about 293/-/- Anglo Egyptian Bank Cairo
[Total] 453/-/-.
My deferred pay 100 about
[Total] £555/-/-

How much is in Savings Bank in Deniliquin please! Interest could be entered in Pass Bk. if you have it.

Khamsin blowing – odd Turkscome in they know we will treat them decently & not feed the vultures on them like they do the Armenians, some terrible stories are told of what they have been doing to these unfortunate people.

One Turk had 2 bullets in him, shot by the Bedouins who got a lot of Rifles etc. from Rafa & Magdaba.

[Page 24]

Tuesday 23 January 1917

Wet cold night again, my trouble better but face still like a Pie Melon.

Scotties have taken over our outpost line once more further out. We have always been in the front line. I could not help notice how clean the Turkscamps are, far better than ours – I suppose the discipline of the Germans do it – Even Al Arish when they cleared out was left perfectly clean.

General Chauvel our Divisional Commander has been Knighted. We are all pleased at sound recognition, & no doubt he deserves it. Col. Meredith got his D.S.O.

If Day sent me a Khaki Tie some time ago am afraid it never arrived, I can buy one in Cairo now, many thanks.

[Page 25]

Wednesday, 24 January 1917

Fine weather at last & we move on to El Burj, Col. Meredith has been given 4th Brigade & he wants me to go as Staff Captain - My chance of a majority here is possibly good but I’ll go if sent for but it means leaving the old 1st L.H. Near here the Syrians are starving & the Bedouins are out to robb & kill friend or foe, I mean Turk or English. Poor Armenians have been killed & starved to death in 1000s.

2 enemy planes bombed us but our Archies bombed them, one horse hit by empty shell from Archie. These fall all around us from above after missing the enemy.

[Page 26]

Thursday 25 January 1917

Moved out to El Burj & took over Command of B Squadron the old Squadron I had on the Peninsular as the late Major has been sent back for a mistake he made.

[The remainder of the page crossed through] I am in Order as a Tempy. MAJOR at last, so am not keen to go to Col. Meredith now.

However we will see, but I’ll wear a Crown while I’m here any way. Received letter from home – Wife & Mrs. Ferran also Papers.

Don’t put much in Papers about my majority till I tell you it is in Orders, it takes time to come back from the Base.

[Page 27]

Friday 26 January 1917

Just handled 2 Turkswho took gave themselves up – I lifted the Cap of one & found he was simply crawling, one man may be lousy, but not like those fellows. They say at Saliel about 25 miles on there are 3000 Turks, 4 Guns & 23 machine guns & no wire entanglements so its not a bad job ahead.

Jim Ayre is in my tent doing the Cash Books. Re LICE – The DELOUSING machines we have are German ones captured from the Turksat Magdaba, so they know the curse in spreading disease. Glad to hear Charlie Tyson has the Military Cross Medal. Must write him.

[Page 28]

Saturday 27 January 1917

This is the Squadron I had on the Peninsular the 2nd time I went over there, so many of the men are the same, but many have gone!

[The remainder of the page crossed through]
More mail sent out to us. Mother, Grace Galbraith 4/12/16, Joe 17/12/16, Note re Farm 400/-/-, Day Dec. 21 poor Blackie May 16/12/16.

Mrs. Galbraith please thank. The Parcel with Housewife Laura is redirecting & now en route to me. Sorry to hear of Jac’s & Mikie’s Pat death.

Very glad see that you all have had a change. I’m very fit & bucked at getting MAJORITY.

Will send Power of Attorney with this to JOE.

Tell May I got Glasses & Fly Kill useful when summer comes.

[Page 29]

Sunday 28 January 1917

Some Yeomanry relieve us today & we go back to El Arish for a bit of a spell. Fortunately a Camel died so we can offer them some fresh meat!!!

The seasons are reversed here you know this – mid winter now & cold at night but lovely days. Outposts are cold work but we like to think that the Light Horse are always in the front line & have been for 1 year & 9 months, beyond a months spell while I was away in England.

Bedouin implements are even more crude than Egyptians – Harrow – piece of wood with stone pegs – Wooden Plows etc. The well we are using is one of 7 between here & Palestine put down by ? don’t know how many years ago.

[Page 30]

Monday 29 January 1917

6 of our planes just flew over en route Bersheba & well laden with bombs, with the aid of Glasses, these can be seen tied on under the body of Car – poor Johnnie Turk 5 for 1 is our arrangement in bombing. [The following crossed through] Clive Norton drew out my Power of Attorney & I forward here. With love to you all.

[Page 31]

Tuesday 30 January 1917

Relieved yesterday by the Yeomanry but our men are happier away in front where there is the chance of a [indecipherable] or two & an occasional shot. I won a Rooster last night from A Squadron. We each had only 1 & as there are 4 officers in each Squadron we tossed Snakes or Pheasants on Gippy coins, not heads & tails. SNAKE won.

[The following crossed through]
More letters from England re-addressed by LAURA.
Mother Nov. 19th
Joe & Daisy Nov. 26th
Christmas Card of DOGGIES
Thank you for song. Very good – Dolly does not sing or play – I like Dorothy from other people, Dolly for myself & YOU.

[Page 32]

Wednesday 31 January 1917

El Risa
[The following paragraph crossed through]
Note what you say re Laura & Mardi – woman is always looking for slights etc. & its very tricky about many things. Hence I did not see as much of Mardi as I should have liked.

Another Khamsin sand blowing & altering the landscape, dunes come & go in this country of hummocks.

[The following paragraph crossed through]
Fancy keeping horses SHOD all this time?!! simply coz the Army says Cavalry are to be shod so work for men & misery for Bush horses & great big iron shoes at that are used.

Moonlight again & enemy planes over last night, they will come every night for a week now & BOMB us.

[Page 33]

Thursday 1 February 1917

Just took my Squadron to Rail-Head to be DELOUSED - !! "Modus operandi" – Engine supplies steam to closed in van into which each man’s clothes & Blankets are put he meanwhile going through a DIP –

[The following sentence crossed through]
It would do some of those sheep owners who won’t dip their LOUSY sheep to come here & be dipped themselves.

Khamsin still blowing.

Reported enemy with their machine guns from planes on Yeomanry at EL BURG last night – I found several copper bullets & shrapnel around our Bivies after last visit. Jim Ayre just read me a lot of HAY letters with much news of the River & Riverina.

Still Bandaged up like a sore finger – pampering my neck as BAINS FATHER would say

[Page 34]

Friday 2 February 1917

One gets very tired of the eternal sand, in face, ears tucker Bed etc. One continual dust storm for a week – We must eat lbs of it cooking in the open – but again MUD is worse.

Terrific sand storm. Think the worst we have had.

Enemy airships over again last night. Got pen going again.

Allanson is despatch rider now.

Did I explain a new nice sort of sandal the Infantry wear in about 4 sizes bigger than boots & strapped on like snow shoes the idea is to make marching easier.

[Page 35]

Saturday 3 February 1917

Another mine washed up on the Beach, it looks like a big 3 legged POT turned upside down – the legs are the percussion caps to be touched by boats & then exploded – A machine gun was played on this & up it went.

Nearly full moon & at 12.30 I turned out ranks just as a Plane flew over but no bombs were dropped – It gets on the nerves of some of the troops & they cannot sleep, personally I worry not KISMET.

[Page 36]

Sunday 4 February 1917

Church Parade
Can’t quote the Bible passage but we had something about "Building a road through the Desert". I reckon we know something about that. Bombed again today & the shrapnel from our Anti Aircraft guns fell around us but no damage done – My 1 subaltern got a photo of a large MINE which I mentioned yesterday was blown up on the Beach. Weather warmer & cold better but I’m still wrapped up like a SARACENS head with Bandages. Put a CROWN up today for MAJOR, if I don’t get sick or wounded it will be permanent – [the following crossed through] but you are correct in addressing me as MAJOR now.

[Page 37]

Monday 5 February 1917

Just heard that U.S.A. have joined us. This must help surely with SHIPS anyway – Was on outpost all last night a lovely moonlight & starlit night, but heavy dews & cold yet, by day the sand blows, till the jam is like grit & even the ZINC ointment in the Army Medical Tent is turned to KHAKI.

I always feel inclined to write down, when I get the chance to have a BATH, it is such a red letter day for a man out here.

Hear today that we leave the front line for a spell. 2nd Brigade to relieve us & we go back some 3 days march, all ranks are sorry as the country was improving & our boys like to be the PRIDE of the line.

[Page 38]

Tuesday 6 February 1917

[This page crossed through]
"Sitting" on a Board on a horse that was killed. After hearing the evidence & visiting the Body – The Board having viewed the Body found that the Horse was dead!! etc. etc. thro’ anti aircraft gun no blame being attached to anyone!!! etc. etc. Since my wedding has appeared in the Papers find I get much fewer letters & fewer PARCELS, still the wife makes up for all that. Re U.S.A. we had an order to recall all American [indecipherable] some time ago - the reason was that some Yankee bombs had been filled with sawdust, of course this may be a libel.

[Page 39]

Wednesday 7 February 1917

I see the Walgett Spectator offers me hearty congratulations on my wedding – it seems a long time since I left the Barwon.

Jim Ayre is in my Tent busy doing Pay Books, he is very popular in the Ranks & among all others. I wish he had a Commission – Turksdropped a message saying "Don’t Bomb us we will have peace in a few days" so the Yarn goes but as I did not see the message I take it "cum grana salis". El Arish is changing very quickly 1000s of the Egyptian Labor Corps are employed on Railways FORTS, PIERS etc.

[Page 40]

Thursday 8 February 1917

[The following crossed through]
Will post this all my love to you & hope before another Birthday comes around I am with you all again.

[Page 41]


Letters from Dolly, Laura, Davies, from England. All well. Laura will be sorry when the War is over if her husband has no occupation, he gets a little liberty now. I am told this place is the RHINOCOLURA where TITUS the Roman Emperor halted with his Troops en route to Jerusalem. The Wady which after rain becomes a bit of a stream is supposed to be the River of Egypt mentioned in Gen. 15 18 ? as forming the Western boundary of Abrahams possession. We are 50 miles from GAZA of the Philistines. Rafa is spelt Rhaphia in the Scripture.

The JOKE among the men is that the War will be over on FEB. 29!!!

[Page 42]

Saturday 10 February 1917

Packed & said Goodbye to El Arish, going back 4 days march for a spell on the Flank.

[The following paragraph crossed through]
Papers from England & magazines from the new wife. Weather warmer but still pampering my neck. And all the way from Bronte came my old African spurs & the lighter racing ones, thank you for posting both.

Also letter card from May saying how busy she is & forwarding her song. Please acknowledge if the Power of Attorney reaches Joe I posted 2 mails ago. A Parcel of Tucker from the wife also came along – We have a canteen here now & the Railway feed us.

[Page 43]

Sunday 11 February 1917

On our way back to "Beyond", the first time our Reg. has ever been behind. Now a new Hospital train runs along the road. We pioneered fresh water at different spots, but our men would sooner be going on to Palestine.

Wet last night & I was Field Officer, but NO enemy near us now. We are on a 60 mile Trek & find much work has been done behind, later on it would be a good spec: to open a first class Hotel & Casino at El Arish for those Cooks tourists who will go this way to Palestine. TIMMS came & spoke to me today, he’s doing well.

[Page 44]

Monday 12 February 1917


Still on the road & raining hard – but all hands are happy. Passed several Catipillar Tractions pulling loads of 10 tons over the sand. Country gets more Desert like & has edible bush as we go back. A man could make a do of 20,000 acres or less of Rafa country – all Bedouin Stock were fat there.

[The following crossed through]
Letters from Mother 7/1/17
Joe 7/1/17 & 1/1/17
Dolly 24/1/17
Laura 24/1/17
Papers "Australasian" & papers from Mrs. Callow & Punch from Mr. Ferrar. So far Mother’s Housewife has not turned up. I am very

[Page 45]

Tuesday, 13 February 1917


Arrived here. You will remember me speaking of BIR-el-ABD last July – now a big military Camp, Pumping Station, Hospitable etc. & a canteen both wet & dry.

[The following is crossed through]
2 Officers came along & offered 2 bottles of Beer (with patent costs) for some butter. After they had gone we found bottles refilled with Water - Assualt made & Bivouacs wrecked – am afraid there will be many sore heads tomorrow, so many of these chaps overdo it when they reach a Canteen.

[continued from the end of previous page]
sorry after all Mother’s work but am afraid it went "down" a boat.

[Page 46]

Wednesday 14 February 1917

39 today

Marched on to BAYOUD – do you remember me telling you of our first fight here early in June last year 8 months ago – The sand hummocks have blown a bit but I never expected to be here again. However the Yeomanry left their Tents standing & also some SCENT Candles, a bottle of Beer etc. We were very glad to have such good accommodation. I don’t feel much older but I know I look it. I only hope ere another year comes around I may be home in Australia with my new wife even if it is to fight Droughts, Fires, Floods etc.

TELL JOE I am sure Dolly would like a letter from him.

[Page 47]

Thursday 15 February 1917

On Duty last night but I don’t think there is a TURK within 100 miles of us. Raining slightly.

[The following paragraph crossed through]
Many were drunk from the Canteen on the Railway – Like South Africa greed is an awful curse to the young soldiers altho’ I am no wowser. (Clive Norton in trouble.)

Had a bath & put on a pair of "judpores", i.e. (Indian riding Pants), old Tommy Orford my Batman was greatly taken by the cut [The following crossed through]
& called a Tommy Officer – this is not a compliment out here. Hear a mail is coming along & our pay – neck nearly allright.

[Page 48]

Friday 16 February 1917

*The New Chums"

The Yeomanry left a few decent Papers among them. I found a ‘BULUWAYO’ Times, mentioned many places I camped in in RHODESIA, so when I leave the ‘Deniliquin Independent’ & Walgett Spectator the new comers from perhaps Canada, will find some news on Australian. Our men are always giving barracking *the New Chums about riding. As one fellow was leaving here with Saddlery badly put on, he was hailed with – "Put the Saddle further back, your reins are too long".

General - J.B. Meredith our old Colonel visited us – I am not changing I am too fond of the old Regiment.

[Page 49]

Saturday 17 February 1917


Been around on Patrol, saw *Brass Cartridge Cases & dead Camels on the ground of old fights.

I was glad to get all the Home News ere this you will all be in Melbourne.

Foster Rutledge is the C.O. of Flying Corps here but I’ve never met him.

[The following paragraph crossed through]
How strange that old Sir Sam should go to CANADA at his time of life.

Hard as it may seem I cannot possibly see poor JOE could leave you all, I know I have the best of it, still he knows he is doing his job. I note dear old Day is sending me some SOKS. Thanks for information re Bank quite RICH I am & get more pay as Major 30/- a day now.

[Page 50]

Sunday 18 February 1917

Just written the wife & now send this to you. I find with Laurie & many friends in England my correspondence is heavy but I don’t forget you little Mother, altho these notes are not very interesting now I try to keep a record going just to show you alls well each day.

Love to you all – it’s a long time since I had a letter from KATHLEEN, I know I don’t write but I like to hear, tell her please.

[Page 51]

Monday 19 February 1917

Still rumours of peace this year, I hope, as Kipling says "WAR should be made by men without wives, Bangles ring softly & sadly" & one cannot help feeling different when married.

[The following crossed through]
Thank you for paying my Insurance Premium, if I live 6 years I draw the Principal – Use the balance of Interest from W & A for anything wanted in the House – I pay nothing now, but often think of you all & the old Pater who has gone. Your letter of Dec. 31st was such a nice long one, it came last night, also May’s song, too much forcing conscription to sell & not enough about GIRLS to take on with the Soldiers.

[Page 52]

Tuesday 20 February 1917

I was warned last night to be ready to attend a Cavalry School at Zeitoun, a suburb of Cairo for 1 month – I am glad – it means a refresher, a course for Senior Officers – BATHS, clean clothes & Tucker & a chance to get rid of my infernal NILE BOILS etc:- I go in about 3 days time.

Yesterday a few HATS were being issued – 1 Soldier tried one & said QUATER (meaning Q.M.S.) this hat is too small, what one is it – the Quartermaster Sergeant replied 6 7/8. Well, give me a 9.10.11 replied the Wag (TRUE). Lovely warm day but cold nights still.

[The following sentence crossed through]
Nice letter from Mrs. Auntie MILLS.

[Page 53]

Wednesday 21 February 1917

Now being issued with HOTCHKISS Automatic Rifles, 1 per troop & busy building up Horses again by giving them a pick of the green CAMEL Bush etc. It is spring time here.

"It may be a case of the blunder we die & then we retrieve our blunders" but I hope to learn to save my man.

& many MOSQUITOES. Did Jackson send you a batch of Australasians which followed me from England.

Mrs. Ferrar has never ceased to send me the English Punch ever since I left. Jim Ayre tells me the Garden is looking very well at the old place.

[Page 54]

Thursday 22 February 1917

Khamsin again & to show what this means – some Palms are now covered up to their FRONDS [see image for drawing] with Sand – where before they were on the flat – as I said before it is like the hummocks of Warrnambool.

Expect to go to Cairo tomorrow, am quite excited about it.

[The following sentence crossed through]
In case my other notes miss you, will tell you again, you can address me as MAJOR from 2/2/17.

The WIND exposes many odd things on an old Battle field – this evening I picked up a Bayonet, some cartridges, 2 full TINS of Bully beef some Picket Ropes etc. etc. like finding Black fellows skin on the Sandhills after a dust storm.

[Page 55]

Friday 23 February 1917

Made out big list of promotions for N.C.O.s in my Squadron, the standard of the L.H. is so high that Officers & N.C.O.s have a great responsibility & need to be correspondingly good.

Getting warmer every week, tho’ nights are still cold.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
ENGLISH mail in – letters from Laura – the wife, Mrs. Ferrar & Pagan’s – am sorry the Housewife Mother made me has not yet arrived, but I’ve not given up hope as I’ve only just received Mothers hand painted Hanky was so pleased with it.

[Page 56]

Saturday 24 February 1917


Left at 5 a.m. BIR EL ABD for ZEITOUN, will be glad for the change after 3 months of Desert. I get 3 weeks then back to the CRUSADE again.

On arrival KANTARA, [the following crossed through] no arrangements had been made for 109 of us, no Transport or Trucks!

Fortunately a REST CAMP run by Mrs. W. CHISHOLM fed all ranks at a nominal cost – MISS McPHILLAM helps & Australians & N.Z.s all very thankful for the work these Ladies do, for the SOLDIERS & officers. It is indeed practical WAR work of the best kind. STONE Railway Stations are now being built & the old places we knew in their early desert life have much changed.

[Page 57]

Sunday 25 February 1917

Arrived at ZEITOUN, mixed crowd of English & other officers.

I took the shoes off my horses to give their feet a spell while I’m away. On the old Camel lines on the Desert a small quantity of grain, Barley & LENTILS have grown up from the waste feed & my man grazes the horses here, both are fat & doing well.

[Page 58]

Monday 26 February 1917

Cavalry School on Wesminster Dragoon Horses great collar maketed marks ½ draft animal, very suitable for Gunners or Poison Cart but awful brutes to ride. Only 3 2 paces are known WALK TROT anything over Trot is called galloping!! However these are side lines & a man can learn a lot.

[The following sentence is crossed through]
except if he is told to shorten his stirrup leathers, use both hands on them, put foot in now not ball of toe, etc:- rather amusing after all these years.

IN Cairo for dinner & to buy uniforms etc. I am going to lead a simple life & save my pennies.

Tommy Officers are united up with us.

[Page 59]

Tuesday 27 February 1917

More Cavalry drill trotting about, & what we should do if we had lances etc. – the old saying "if you want to learn how not to make money out of the Land go to an Agricultural College".

[The following sentence crossed through.]
Letter card from May & just heard of the evacuation of KUT by TURKS.

The S.S. "HUNTSEND" boat I came from England in has been torpedoed [indecipherable] in the Aegean Sea so I was lucky to arrive here safely – 2 LECTURES a day & much Military LAW, this is soldering!!! We’ve only been fighting.

[Page 60]

Wednesday 28 February 1917

Did an Out Post time for a change & spent an evening with an old Scotch family I know at Zeitoun, had a time on Piano etc. Quite civilized – Lectures 2 per diem keeps me writing steadily & a RECONNAISSANCE tomorrow on approved EUROPEAN lines. We are getting this training to put us alongside English Cavalry if necessary.

Went Cairo for Lunch at Continental. We get 3 hours 1 in middle of the day - & Saturday afternoon & Sundays off.

[Page 61]

Thursday 1 March 1917

Am posting you a "VIVE PARISIENNE" paper you will perhaps smile at some of the Broad Jokes but this is the paper the SOLDIERS all buy in France & here & is the best French lesson possible.

Did Patrols today & 2 Lectures on Dismounted Attacks such as through the scrub on Gallipoli – war news better – my notes will be useful for future reference.

Went to Remount Depot to see Col. McLeish but he was out. Heliopolis is very deserted now. Glorious weather and neck alright.

[Page 62]

Friday 2 March 1917

More lectures on how to win the war. Our instructors are men who have been through the MILL in France. It would cost a man about 100/-/- to go through a Cavalry School like this in Australia as a volunteer yet some Officers waste their time in a drunken stupor. If I could I should like to keep up soldiering "apres la guerre".. This School teaches one all the up to date schemes learnt from sad experience in France & elsewhere.

My weight 13 stone 7 lbs.

[Page 63]

Saturday 3 March 1917

I am writing this at Shepherds Hotel where I met my wife nearly 2 years ago now. Did an examination this morning & a Staff Ride. In addition to a Cavalry School, other ranks all at different courses.

One of our boys was being cursed for not saluting & the Instructor said "You are more Trouble than any other Unit operating in Egypt". Reply was "That is what the Turkssay".

TOM Austin is here one of Bertie’s sons I think he is, he got wounded at MAGDAHASA, but is alright now.

[Page 64]

Sunday 4 March 1917

Last night I watched the dancing at Shepherds & Continental Hotels. [The following sentence crossed through.] Many of my former partners knew me not but I did not care to dance.

Today I went out to the HOSPITAL & saw all our wounded men & had dinner with General Meredith our late Colonel but now commanding 4 L.H. Brigade.

Cairo makes me tired, much dust & windy. Khamsin blowing – I must tell you what happened at SHEPHEARDS HOTEL – A Foreign Princess who has been there a long time tucked her table napkin into her Bust dress & when she had finished forgot it & sailed out of the room with the table napkin. Some of us sent the Head waiter after her.

[Page 65]

Monday 5 March 1917

Got 75 out of possible 80 for Exam, very interesting lecture on methods in France. We get enough mounted work AT THE TROT to keep us healthy.

Had dinner last night with General MEREDITH D.S.O. now C.O. 4th Brigade once my C.O. 1st L.H. Reg. which is now commanded by Col. Granville.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Am sending by Hospital ship sailing Wednesday for Australia a Revolver I took from a TURK at El Arish with a Camel Hair cord attached, per a Lieut MILLS who had his arm shot when observing from aeroplane, a Sydney DENTIST.

[Page 66]

Tuesday 6 March 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Young ROSS son of KIM ROSS people who used to have Horse Teams in the old days is here as a Lieut. He goes into Cairo with a car every day, when I go I go by TRAM or TRAIN, plenty of L.S.D. Do not mention Revolver in notes as we are not allowed to keep any arms taken in war but I have saved so few Trophies though would like to keep this one. NECK alright now & am feeling A1.

Thank you for Australasian. I see a lot about DELATITE in the last.

[The following sentence crossed through.] Love to you from your son Frank.

[Page 67]

Wednesday 7 March 1917

The Sultan is camped close here in enormous marquee Tent with gold Balls along the Top – everything in great pomp.

We have comfortable quarters & I am learning quite a lot of useful stuff besides a good spell from the Desert. I shall cable as soon as my substantive or Permanent rank of MAJOR appears in Orders – it will date from February 2nd.

I hope Joe will use any of my clothes that are any good to him NECKTIES etc. etc:- as time goes on only get old fashioned. Cabled you – as follows, Promoted MAJOR Feb. 2nd.

[Page 68]

Thursday 8 March 1917

Letter from Mother & Joe 14/1/17, also letter from Mrs. Stronge [indecipherable] to say J.A.C. was dead.

Note all the news, glad all’s well.

Last night met old Marine Capt. PEARSE of Pastoralists Review at TURF CLUB, Cairo , he returns to Australia in a week or so, he may mention meeting me in his Paper.

Today I passed the Turksprisoners, in site of our old Aerodrome Camp Heliopolis – they are well clothed & fat & photos & Cinemas are sent for propaganda work back to Constantinople & to Syria.

[Page 69]

Friday, 9 March 1917

Called on Mrs. Cuth Fetherston Hough but did not seen Cuth – Mrs. Cuth is rather a foolish woman (talks too much).

Old Pearse has been running the Comforts Fund & I got 150 Billys for my Squadron out of him.

My address – MAJOR WEIR 1st L.H. now. Am feeling very fit & well again – this 3 weeks has done me so much good. Letters Mother, Daisy, WIFE, Jany. 20th. Glad alls well at home. Thanks for Parcel, no doubt following on.

[Page 70]

Saturday 10 March 1917

Examinations this morning – This School would cost me a lot of money in Peace time & I appreciate my luck in attending. If I could afford it I would keep up soldering after the War in Australia but am afraid I will have my daily bread to earn as usual.

Went Cairo Dinner & to CASINO etc.

Laura tells me Nowell Forth is on his way here again.

Am giving Pearse of PASTORALISTS REVIEW some photos to take to Australia, he will send you the Paper when printed.

[Page 71]

Sunday 11 March 1917

Went Cairo to Hospitals to see wounded & sick. Am sure the change will have done you & (MARTHA as Daisy is) good & JOE must find the monotony killing at times, he & you all are doing more in your way than we are who live an exciting life.

Met me know if you get the Turk’s revolver & the photos I send by Capt. PEARSE of Pastoralists Review. I ran into STANLEY BRAIM at Heliopolis Hotel last night, he is I think drinking more than is good for him, I am afraid. I will write Eleanor but don’t tell her this.

[Page 72]

Monday 12 March 1917

Went to Mr. DEVONSHIRE a Barrister for Afternoon Tea yesterday & in the morning went to No. 14 A.G. Hospital. Saw NORMAN ROBERTSON of [indecipherable] now a MAJOR in Army Medical Corps. He had been injured in a Railway accident on the Desert line. Engine Ran off the RAILS, pinned the driver down, NORMAN cut his arm off with a pocket knife, with steam escaping all around. Driver was Scotty soldier who held his own Artery & without anaesthetics of any sort. After he smoked a cigarette while Norman photographed him.

[Page 73]

Tuesday 13 March 1917

Robertson should get something for his coolness in the job we all think. Had a drink with A.B. Paterson & saw Col. McLeish of Yea at Remount Depot. "Banjo" has written another thing called WALK THAT HORSE. Have you heard the song.

"There’s a Trail that leads to home" a corollary to the "LONG, LONG TRAIL" which no doubt is in Australia ere this. Stanley Braim seemed really pleased to see me, he was going up for an exam in the flying Corps but told the usual YARNS.

[Page 74]

Wednesday 14 March 1917

Am doing well at the at the examinations & have had a good holiday, all over on Saturday.

Had dinner with Capt. Pearse & gave him 32 snapshots of the fighting at Rafa & Magdaba & El Arish to give to you on arrival in Sydney, also a MILLS BOMB with all the Powder taken out. Quite safe.

[Page 75]

Thursday 15 March 1917

Letter from Aunt Anna which is so interesting telling me all about old father’s relatives. Did more Field work today. School closes tomorrow with EXAM. I have done well so far & am getting 2 days leave after. Saw Cuth Fetherston Hough & his wife. He should be getting his majority very soon now.

I am writing his Father today.

[Page 76]

Friday, 16 March 1917

Final Exam. I have done well.

Last night we had all the Instructors & Imperial Cavalry Officers to dinner, it was one of the rowdiest RAGS I’ve been in – quite up to a Picnic Race Club night. I am very bruised & sore today, but have not laughed so much for a long time.

I go to Continental Hotel tonight & stay Cairo till Monday then return to Desert. Our Brigade has gone to the front line again but not much fighting here now.

[Page 77]

Saturday 17 March 1917

You remember me telling you last year about the way the Palms are utilized, this work is now being done among all the TREES. Weather glorious, & although there is no word in the Irish language for Gratitude, I am thankful I did not spend a Winter in France.

There is plenty of corn in Egypt still.

[Page 78]

Sunday 18 March 1917

The Minister of Defence cabled for Lieut. Menzies to go to Australia for 6 weeks. I don’t know how it is done, but if you see Old Sam Mc.C. you could tell him. I have been a long time over here now if a job could be found even in Australia for a bit, wouldn’t it be glorious to see you all again.

Mrs. Handbury Davies is taking this letter to post in Australia.

[Page 79]

Monday 19 March 1917

Went to Races on Saturday & met NOWEL FORTH there he is well, only arrived the night before from England. I sent you Race Book JOE may be interested – mostly Officers here & the youth & beauty of Cairo , with the rich Arabs & Bedouins rather fascinating to watch. I don’t like GIPPYS. Entrained for El Arish today to pick up Brigade. Posted you per Miss Handbury Davies another lot of photos same as I gave old Pearse of Pastoralists Review, to give you. We had a real live Russian Count here who is very upset at the Revolution a quaint old soul, who lives at SHEPHEARDS.

[Page 80]

Tuesday 20 March 1917

Dancing has been stopped at Shepheards & the Concerts so altho’ Cairo is now a blaze of light once more, (general Street lamps lit etc. no aeroplanes to raid) Officers outside have only the Casinos & Kellsaal to go to. Races & Pigeon Matches still flourish. In the latter TRAPS are not used but a "nigger" in a PIT throws the pigeon into the air & they take hitting 3 dead birds will nearly always win a sweep, with top notch pigeon shots from Monte Carlo among the shooters. Arrived El Arish once more, just in time to see the anti aircraft open fire on our old friend the TAUBE.

[Page 81]

Wednesday 21 March 1917

Brigade is camped close to the Beach so it is not a bad spot for bathing, you need not worry about the enemy he is a long way from here now. Mr. PEARSE will get McKinnon & Lavender to send along the B- he takes to Australia for me unloaded.

After the Troop Train had pulled up & commenced to unload – the R.T.O., i.e. Railway Transport Officer, rushed along calling out for the guard, saying "How do I know the train has arrived finally. The Guard reports to me." Of such is some of the Red Tape Brigade.

[Page 82]

Thursday 22 March 1917

Moved on closer to the water at El Arish, my Tent faces the sea & the Railway runs past the door – quite suburban. I found my horses FAT & well.

Such a surprise from the POST OFFICE. Many Papers from YOU & also the HOUSEWIFE at last, it is such a beauty, with everything a man wants, also DAYS sleeping SOKS – I just had the old ones washed. New ones I will keep. 4 PARCELS altogether 2 from DOLLY & another from YOU & DAY with PLUM PUDDINGS etc. chewing gum also have now arrived PAPERS from the wife.

[Page 83]

Friday 23 March 1917

Letter from ISHERWOOD my brother in law who is at SALONIKA. Good news on all fronts, I anticipate a resolution in Germany before it is all over.

ENEMY aeroplanes over again this morning, but they did not drop any bombs.

Yesterday the Races were held at Rafa.

Anzac mounted Division won 5 out of 7 Races. I did not go – the Races were sort of Public & a Totalisator was worked.

Also heard our Division enters GAZA tomorrow. Just had a bathe & am now Field Officer for the next 24 hours.

[Page 84]

Saturday 24 March 1917

Big Mail tonight from AUSTRALIA & England.


Thank you all so much. I was so glad the Housewife arrived safely.

Re putting names in, quite O.K. when you get my DIARY so long after, no harm can result. Dolly is well & cheerful. Am glad you are all away. Am getting my Desert LEGS again, walking in the sand is quite different to walking in Cairo one gets shin sore there.

[Page 85]

Sunday 25 March 1917

It is a treat to ride a decent horse again after the half drafts at the Cavalry School. Owing to the sand our horses have all learned to walk fast. I suppose its trying to keep up to the fast walkers & not trot, but no Wesminster is equal to the old horses for sale.

All day & night freight trains go bye loaded up with forage & Bully Beef & Biscuits & in the Bay or such as it is, are many boats unloading stores for the Army. You might think we talk a lot about the war, but I’m afraid Officers & man’s chief topic of conversation is Girls & their tucker. Read "A Wife out of EGYPT" by Douglas Siddern MISS LORIMER (it is good).

[Page 86]

Monday 26 March 1917

El Arish

Big guns can be heard firing at Gaza, the big attack takes place today. We are in Reserve standing bye – doing nothing & enjoying the bathing in the sea.

Last night, one poor trooper went silly or "MAGNOON" as the Arabs say. Walked away with his swag to the Flying Corps & asked for a PLANE to take him to England. They offered him a MARTINSIDE, but he would have nothing but a TAUBE, he said. Poor Beggar is now in the Hospital awaiting train for Cairo mental cases. I hope I don’t get it as bad as that!

[Page 87]

[This page crossed through.]

Tuesday 27 March 1917

Letters again Censored. Mother 17/2/17, Day 19/2/17 JOE 18/2/17, Clare Wheeler HAY. All so welcome. Yes little Mother your housewife came at last & such a useful one. I can see how you thought of everything little things I wanted & Days SOKS too. So many thanks.

I hope some day to go fishing with JOE on the Hopkins. I always love old Carrakoorte & the River. I cant see how JOE could volunteer – he is doing more than his share by carrying the load at home - & keeping us going. I see you are sending me another parcel & Barrini sends the Cakes & chocs – I’m afraid I’m getting terribly spoilt.

I would write Barrini but forget her address.

[Page 88]

Wednesday 28 March 1917

The fight is going well & Regiment + 16 Officers are told off to escort prisoners to Cairo . We lost an aeroplane & both men killed this morning. All is well & the weather lovely at present.

Every afternoon we have football matches RUGBY – a game I never played being at school in Victoria it is making the men very fit & well. Looking back at the Military School it did us all good & served to shake together the Australian & English Officers, who are always inclined to view each other from afar off & to criticize each other.

[Page 89]

Thursday 29 March 1917

Climate lovely now.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Just recd. your Cable of Congratulations. All’s well for which many thanks. I hope you get my letters even if later than in the post.

I am not saying much about the GAZA Battle it is still sub judice. Another Gun boat just passed full steam ahead. Several Monitors are helping & our Infantry are dug in. Reinforcements reached the Turks& they are holding out.

My troubles last night were caused by Field Mice burrowing near my face & covering my head with sand kicked up by their little hind legs. A light dazzles them & they stand quite still & stare.

[Page 90]

Friday 30 March 1917

Very Hot.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Letters from wife, Cousins & May Harrison up to Feb. 8th also Australasian from you - & other Papers. Please tell MAY I can not write so often as I would wish, you tell her my news but with the Wife & you & my work more is impossible. In case we move out quickly I’ll post this now.

The letters by Miss Hanbury Davies are hung up. No women allowed to leave Egypt at present. I do not know the Lady but Mrs. Cuth Fetherston Hough was good enough to hand them on. Love to all, Son

[Page 91]

Saturday 31 March 1917

Inoculated again for Cholera. I would like to look up Diary & see how many punctures that makes!

Last night some men got some of the B.W.I. (British West Indians) who are camped near to BOX in the Y.M.C.A. Tent, they looked like shining ebony ponies alongside our big fellows & they had no idea of boxing HIT, KICK, & wrestle – most amusing – Y.M.C.A. one of the best institutions out here – makes men write letters home by supplying all necessary stationery etc. & keeps them away from WET CANTEEN.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] 1200/-/- Pay for the Reg. has just been dumped in my Tent in a sandbag – all paper money these days.

[Page 92]

Sunday 1 April 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.] 4600 Casualties at Gaza so far 600 Killed – Tanks – Howitzers not yet in. Papers will tell you I can’t coz of Censor but it is a big fight at Gaza still. Another Parcel tonight from Mother – 2 cakes chocs. etc. & Punch – thank you all so much.

Went to Church & stayed for Communion. I’m not a hyprocrite, I hope, but our Padre GORDON is leaving us & he is a really good man & has done a lot for all ranks in our Brigade – just heard GAZA is evacuated & Turksretreating. We move up in a few days. This is now only a yarn 1st April about GAZA.

[Page 93]

Monday 2 April 1917

Field Officer today. Marching Orders for Friday to move on. We had arranged a Race Meeting for Thursday next, in the WADI, must keep the men interested & fit. Football is the great game at present, in the sand! They cannot trust themselves.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.] You might think we disparage the ENGLISH Officer sometimes, but heres the sort of thing we get. Speaking of the Rabbit Plague – 1 Cocksure young Cub, insisted if 2 or 3 of PA’s poachers or gamekeepers went out to AUS, they would teach you how to KILL RABBITS.

I enclose the entries for the 1st L.H. El Arish RACES.

[Page 94]

Tuesday 3 April 1917

I enclose a small snapshot of the month of the WADI El Arish. Here large numbers of "Pelicans" come & feed on the fish in the shallow pools. We have had a good camp here & will miss our Tents etc. when we move on to a Mobile Desert Column again. Photos are poor things to show you the beauty of the sunsets here.

The Fig Trees at El Arish are covered with leaves now & look very pretty, make the WADI look like a park.

[Page 95]

Wednesday 4 April 1917

1st L.H.B. Races today. Bales of Tibbin made the Handles, the Butchers Scales on the Shafts of the Medical cart for Weighing in, Cartridge Pouches for Lead Bags & Armlets of Bandages with No. in indelible INK in lieu of Saddle Cloths. The Trumpeter sounded the saddle up & Starters, Empty Biscuit TINS marked the Saddling Paddock & Track, & notwithstanding an enemy Plane flew over to have a look we had a really good days sport. I won 12/-/-- in a sweep, but did not start my own horses as they are not built to gallop.

[Page 96]

Thursday 5 April 1917

As the Mail closes tonight & we move tomorrow morning into the Cactus Country of Gaza I am posting this.

[The following crossed through.] Hoping we may all meet very soon. Love to all, your son, Frank.

[Page 97]

Good Friday 6 April 1917

7 A.M. At 0700 we moved out of El Arish once more for GAZA, past our old Camp, remember where I dug up 2 bottles of Kerosine I had buried after Magdabah fight as I could not carry them at the time. Men & Horses fit.

The 4 L.H. Brigade relieved us & I had a few words with Cuth Fetherston Hough. We are leaving – he is fit & well. We are marching light but the weather is warming up now altho’ heavy dew at night. Great improvements have been made in the defences of this El Arish. Camped at SHEIK ZOWAID or as the men call it 6 x 8. I have no blotting paper but SAND did the ancients & its good enough for me

[Page 98]

Saturday 7 April 1917


Clive Weston is my Quarter-master Sergeant it is hard to keep him sober & the day will come when he will be broken. I have wet-nursed him for his family’s sake. The old REG. arrived here. Enemy bombed our arrival.

Left the sand & the Desert. Country here good. Barley crops & wild RYE, CROWFOOT, OAT GRASS LAMBS TONGUE, MUSTARD, COUCH GRASS, & VETCHES, with QUAIL among it.

Enemy here. He occupied SHELLAL & we shall fight him 3 days or so, so it is rumoured. Flowers everywhere, fields of POPPIES, DAISYS, etc. it is springtime here. I reckon good sheep proposition or Meat country.

[Page 99]

Easter Day 8 April 1917

Re sheep when I have time I’ll write Minister of Agriculture re possibility of RAM Trade here with Australia. They are mongrel sheep but the country is good. I can see Turksshells bursting over our planes as I write.

Marching here we passed over the Rafa Battlefield & saw the graves of the men we lost there Jan. 9th. The Bedouins were gathering their Barley over the Battlefield, shells everywhere.

KHAN YUNUS is covered with prickly pears & scrubby Bushes, Old Ruins on every side, not too good to fight in, we got Hotchkiss guns issued today.

[Page 100]

Easter Monday 9 April 1917

Bombed again. "Australian" arrived & letter from the wife. We are still waiting for the big fight, Egyptian word BUCKRAH meaning tomorrow applies, but I think it will be tomorrow. Enemy planes over every day now. Will not post this for sometime as Censors are very strict out here. Good thing my writing so bad, can’t read it. Had a letter from Nowell Forth he is O.C. Camel Corps at ABBASSIA a suburb of Cairo .

Cut all my hair off & had a bath ready now for Constantinople if caught.

See Bible AMOS, Chap. 17 verses 6 & 7.

[Page 101]

Easter Tuesday 10 April 1917

We passed the Boundary Stones of Syria I mentioned in January & took some photos. Pen is bad. I am trying to write HOME. Our TRANSPORT went along the Beach, but we went direct & are now about 50 miles from the DEAD SEA. Murgha Mack has gone to Hospital with a growth on his tongue thought to be Cancer.

[The following paragraph is crossed through.] On my way to the troughs I met a L.H. man, by my beside his horse. I thought he was sick, but he replied "I’m alright" he was drunk. When I asked him where he wanted to go he replied "To the firing line Kura - "Crusader". No idea where he got the tanglefoot from.

It was just here that SAMSON was supposed to be Killed, the Old Testament speaks a lot about this part of the world.

[Page 102]

Wednesday 11 April 1917

Reconnaissance yesterday evening. I went 5 miles past the Outpost line & got shelled by enemy. Water very scarce saw plenty of Turks1 & their line of Tranches was plainly seen. Fun on sand, beautiful green feed but no natural water.

I rode 40 miles - & took a lot of Bearings by Compass.

Enemy plane flew low over us & fired his machine gun. No fountain pen ink so try & forgive pencil.

Found letters on my return – MAY 4/4/17, LAURA 20/4/17, FERRAR 20/4/17, DOLLY 20/4/17. Alls well.

[Page 103]

Thursday 12 April 1917

At Outpost tonight – enemy 6 planes bombed our Aerodrome. Our Machines flew out like a lot of scalded ants if you poured hot water into the nest. We have not got the best machines out here I’m afraid.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Got some silk soks from Col. now General Meredith’s daughter. General Cox is now our Brigadier. J.B. Meredith has the 4 L.H. Brigade.

Found a snake in our trench, scorpions are plentiful among the old Roman antiquities. Our Adjutant brought me a collection of wildflowers he had gathered. There are many different sorts.

[Page 104]

Friday 13 April 1917

Our horses are a bit shin sore coming off the Sandy Desert into this good country – they are all very good walkers now - & got good grazing on the crops of Bearded Wheat & Barley – but Water is still scarce. JOE 4/3/17. Letters from Mother & Daisy & May 27/2/17. Papers from Dolly & a Cake from Laura. All very acceptable. - on our arrival back into Camp after 24 hours on Outpost.

Every day we can watch our anti aircraft shells bursting among enemy planes – not much success tho’. Day’s letter had large cutting of D’quin Paper.

[Page 105]

Saturday 14 April 1917

Turksshelled our rail head with big guns this morning – but we are camped a little back. We can bathe but are warned that sharks & mines are on the beach!! Comforting.

Parcel of Plum Duff Lanoline Shaving Soap Sweets all arrived safely. Never send CHEESE. We get it issued like Oil in the heat – and Tinned Milk is not worth sending. All the above many thanks. I am being very well treated.

[The following crossed through.] Am glad JOE had some good fishing at King on Hopkins, some day I hope we may go there together.

[Page 106]

Sunday 15 April 1917

Enemy shelled Railhead yesterday & again today. Attended Service, but many heads were turned up to the Sky watching the effect of our Anti aircraft guns firing on Plane directly over our heads.

Murgha MACK is alright, no cancer.

Just posted 2 Field Post Cards as we move out to the big attack tomorrow night – I’m A1 & so are all the men.

Love to all from son

[Page 107]

Monday 16 April 1917

I wish you could see me in my GAS MASK like a Teddy bear will send you a photo if possible – all ranks are issued with them.

Night march on SHELLAL infantry attack GAZA at dawn.

Arrived SHELLAL 5 A.M. My Squadron left Flank Guard. Good country – large quantity of cultivation Barley & Wheat – Grasses including all I gave before plus BARLEY & TIMOTHY Umbrella & Couch. Just been over to the 6th L.H. to see some old friends. They tell me they will meet me in the Hospital Clearing Station tomorrow – Cheerful.

[Page 108]

Tuesday 17 April 1917

Very Hot. On OUTPOST tonight in the front line.

Enemy bombed us while watering & killed 5 of another Regiment.

Rode about most of the night keeping up inter-communication. Picquet fired on Turkish Patrol. INFANTRY took first position of GAZA. many prisoners We hope to finish the job tomorrow, the Cables will tell you all details, long ere this reaches you & besides I cannot break faith – but we are hopeful of doing great things with our TANKS etc.

[Page 109]

Wednesday 18 April 1917

Another hot day. Big guns firing all around & enemy planes bombing – got a headache but could always do 3 nights out of bed at the Picnic Races so can do it now. All is going well & the SKYLARKS singing many a brave man’s Requiem.

In advance tonight moving out at 11 p.m. & my Squadron took up a position before dawn in a deep donga. Turksshelled us all day could not even light a Fire to boil the quart. Can see great activity in Turksroads. Fought on hill near 470.

[Page 110]

Thursday 19 April 1917

Marched all night, in action at 0400 – shelled by enemy big fight on all around hope live through it. Two of my friends Killed MAJOR CHISHOLM & LIEUT CHAMBERS of 2 L.H. SINCLAIR (some PUCKAWIDGEE relative. We have many casualties 71 Horses. Bombed by enemy air craft again – cold blooded business. One of our planes shot down by enemy this afternoon.

Many Fleas – its harder to catch than LICE.

MAJOR CHAMBERS of 12 also killed today attack 2 of same day. I hope Cuth is alright.

[Page 111]

Friday 20 April 1917


On Outpost all last night again, night & day is so mixed up. I am not sure of the date. Our horses have not been unsaddled since MONDAY & of course none of us have even washed since then. We have not made a success of our attacks. I went into a Bedouin Hut. The consequences have been catching FLEAS ever since 1000’s of them. They do not bite so much as run about. Very dusty from Divisions moving about. Joe’s glasses are most useful & save my eyes a lot. This Agricultural Land is much dirtier & cuts up more than the pure Desert Sand.

[Page 112]

Saturday 21 April 1917


Still in the front line very tired but going strong – have not had a wash for a week. Still all in the game. Our men are always at their best when the pinch comes – but these pinches make a man old & reduce his Tummy some. Off again at dark on a counter march of 12 miles – like a game of Chess, interesting if not so damnable sleepy. The whole landscape rises & falls in front of a man, he sleeps on his horse odd moments. Still this is soldiering.

[Page 113]

Sunday 22 April 1917


Marched again all night & bombed again this morning. Approved to have 24 hours rest but being continually bombed gets on your nerves. Enemy shot down another of our planes last night, it burst into flames on reaching the ground.

Water is still the trouble but the country could easily be developed in this respect.

Suddenly we saddled up & moved again at 3 p.m. & camped at [indecipherable] again. This life is like chassing De Witt in Africa. MAIL from Dolly, Laura & Paper from Ferrar. The Field Post office follows us.

[Page 114]

Monday 23 April 1917

Move out to support again. This is a new line of Trenches. Casualities have been heavy. I hope Nowell Forth is alright. I believe he came out just before this fight began.

Bombed again today & more horses & men Killed. I must say I do not like bombs.

Our horses are SHIN SORE coming on to the hard ground after the Desert Sand. There are no trees in this part except on ground Orchards of Almond, Peach, Apricot, Vines Figs Pomegranates etc., not in season yet – tho’ 1000s of acres of Barley & Wheat are nearly ready for the stripper. NO FENCES in this country.

[Page 115]

Tuesday 24 April 1917


Had a shave & wash over in a quart of water hair cut close & a good flea hunt so am fresher. Very hot & crops ripening fast.

My Squadron doing pick & shovel work making road over WADI. Enemy plane over again but we have shot down 3. 3rd Brigade captured a Troop of Lancers yesterday, Horses & all. don’t think Turkish Cavalry have much GUTS.

[The following sentence crossed through.] They serve their GUNS well & are superior in the air coz of better machines (don’t repeat this).

[Page 116]

Wednesday 25 April 1917


Snakes, Scorpions etc. more plentiful here & much more insect life of every description, reason I suppose bigger population than the Desert.

Managed to get some tinned Fruit sent by Pack Horse from Canteen at Railhead this morning.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Australian NEWS SHEET cabled to the Troops consists of "Egg Laying Competition", "Plague of ‘Possums"!! "Dinner to Holman"!! etc. !!! What we would like to know is "Seasons" – Repatriation, and other items of interest.

Very Hot about 110°.

[Page 117]

Thursday 26 April 1917


Marched at 3 A.M. as enemy threatened our Flanks, did not require a Blanket last night & the dew is not so heavy. Water is still our trouble. I have not washed for 2 days & never had clothes off since this scrap started. Guns always firing from 60 Howitzers & 18 po. Field guns. Horses are still very fit I am glad to say.

[The following sentence crossed through.] Received letter from Laura April 2nd. All’s well, but England is really awakening to the fact that a war is on & I was disgusted with a lot I saw at home.

I have no INK for Fountain Pen so forgive pencil but don’t send any INK I could not carry & must wait.

[Page 118]

Friday 27 April 1917


On outpost again last night, it actually rained & after the heat turned quite cold. I washed & shaved this morning. Sullivan of Deniliquin, Bullock driver is my Batman now.

We are camped in a rugged water worn WADI but no water.

Hear that a mail is in Camp.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] My substantive Rank of MAJOR came through in Orders so am Temporary no longer & if go sick or wounded I do not revert. Don’t know when I’ll post this.

[Page 119]

Saturday 28 April 1917


Left Camp at 0530 i.e., 5.30 A.M. & patrolled NO-MANS-LAND got shelled but home without loss – by sundown – each man carrying a bit of Firewood from some HUTS & no doubt many Fleas.

Too cloudy to Helio.

I just overheard the following "If you want good Bully & milk look for an Australian brand it beats Argentine Yankee or any other, but the wrappers are not so gay.

[Page 120]

Sunday 29 April 1917


[The following paragraph crossed through.] 2 Letters from Mother 19/3/17, Day JOE Auntie, all very welcome & with me still, 19/3/17 Jim Ayre told me of GORDONS engagement also heard from Winnie MILLS. Into all home news & thank you for cutting of Paper also Vegetables to come – in Parcel.

Am posting this today as do not want it to fall into enemy hands.

[The following crossed through to end of page.] Love to all, your son, Frank.

I am wondering if this Diary will see the war out – better post me one about 1st August I think.

[Page 121]

Monday 30 April 1917

Posted notes yesterday acknowledging letters from home March 19. Quite cold for a change. We are still having a rough time.

[The following sentence crossed through.] I am glad JOE saw he is indispensable at home & doing more than his Bit.

I look forward to a reunion some day soon. Enemy plane with black + on wings is soaring above me as I write, & the little rings of bursting shells from our Anti aircraft now all around her but never hit – as far as we know. On Outpost last night & digging Trenches today with Stables, to do it gives little time for the men to cook, delouse themselves or sleep – but men & horses are fit & cheery. Wise not to discuss my DIARY if Military is hearing.

[Page 122]

Tuesday 1 May 1917

[This page crossed through.]

Bombed again. 1000s of acres of Crops are ready for the Strippers here & we are eating it down by grazing Camels & Horses, & the ground has only been scratched by a wooden Plow yet bearded Barley & Wheat are good. I have already told you of natural grasses but no Timber of any description – rolling open downs.

This is the great Revolution Day & I wonder if the Socialists in Germany will show up the real feelings of the MASS of the HUNS – one would think the world was getting tired of WAR. Moved Camp again.

[Page 123]

Wednesday 2 May 1917


The Turksare better diggers than we are at present. We occupy what was once their Field Hospital. Big Crescent made of White Stones like rather worn Funk holes & so suffer casualties.

[This sentence crossed through.] Turkswere reported in front early this morning but turned out to be PELICANS feeding on the plain when day light broke.

Your Parcel of Vegetables from Mutual Store arrived safely tonight, many thanks.

Jim Ayre is in my Brig. having a crack, he is pretty fit still & just had some news of Jean & Lucy. POLL DAY held in my Dug Out I.W.W. versus WIN THE WAR PARTY.

[Page 124]

Thursday 3 May 1917

Not much interest in the Election, it is overshadowed by the more immediate discomforts of soldiering & the War but I think the Ministerialists will have a big majority. The Railway is coming along slowly. [The following sentence crossed through.] We don’t want to repeat the "KUT" episode & get cut off though.

We growled at the Sand of the Desert but it was clean compared to this [indecipherable] Agricultural land. Our casualties have been many, but the cable will have published names ere this, many of my friends have gone – with luck I ought to see it through now.

[Page 125]

Friday, 4 May 1917


Cairo was rather upset on a recent morning – it woke up to find some (Australian of course) soldiers had climbed up the Statue of MOHAMET ALI & put a nosebag on the horse! This is erected in principal Square of the city.

My horses are doing well on good grazing. [The following sentence crossed through.] S’pose after the war they will fall into the hands of the Remount Depot & get their tails & manes chopped off – this is the first thing a Tommy does with a horse.

We are camped in a big water worn rugged Donga or WADI about ¼ wide down which the water has run for many centuries down to the sea.

[Page 126]

Saturday 5 May 1917

Looking over the A.I.F. Casualty Lists in Australian Papers one notices that the Lists are printed in small type – not much space wasted. Do you remember the promincence of the first lists from Gallipoli – I suppose a 9 days wonder to many – yet it’s the young men of a young nation going.

While digging our men unearthed an old Greek Temple with a MOSAIC floor of green Red Black green & white stones & figures of LIONS, TIGERS, BIRDS etc. with dado of "SWASTIKAS". The following inscription was just readable

[See images for lettering of inscription.]

[Page 127]

Sunday 6 May 1917

[See images for remainder of lettering of inscription.]

Bombed again – it’s just like a Hawk in a chicken yard the way we scatter when the HUN flies over us.

No Church today only digging Trenches. Hear Russia is getting full up, but we know little of the true state of affairs.

Letters from Laura & Dolly - MAIL has been regular of late. Had your vegetables for Tea tonight very good.

[Page 128]

Monday 7 May 1917

This morning we all went through GAS fumes with Helmets on a suffocating business. Enemy bombed Hospitals during night & Killed & wounded many. From the Outpost here today I could see the train leaving Beersheba. We will have a lot of hard fighting ere we enter Jerusalem. As a chance occurs I’ll post this. Love to all

[Page 129]

Tuesday 8 May 1917

The Turksbombed the Red + Hospitals at Railhead last night & used their Machine Guns. Of course the whole of the Hospitals were lit up & made an easy Target. Up to know now JACKO always played the game, it sounds like German influence. The Crops are now ripe & grass seeds falling (blankets full of them). SCORPIONS & SNAKES plentiful, about the old ruins & in the WADIS but climate cooler than Egypt.

I’ve not had my boots off at night for 3 weeks now.

Was given some INK last night so Pen goes again.

[Page 130]

Wednesday 9 May 1917


Our Y.M.C.A. have followed us up consequently Tinned Fruits & "Sausages" can be bought, also good old ENO’s fruit Salts. Jim Ayre is still fit & going strong. Usual bombardment going on. Made overtures to the Tommies & used a Kerosene Tin bath along with many of the great unwashed. I was rather ashamed of my own dirty singlet. My [indecipherable] Major Rank dates from 14/2/17.

Hear Cuth Fetherston Hough is alright – but ere this you will have seen the Casualty list. I will always cable if I get a crack, so don’t worry we can’t all be blown out.

The little wife is well.

[Page 131]

Thursday 10 May 1917

Hear a Mail is in but if I put down all the Rumours we hear the Censor would get a fit. Railway from Rafa Junction coming along slowly. Turksblew up the Pipe line last week but we have a fresh spring in this WADI or Donga as we called them in S. Africa.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.] One of our planes just flew over here every cylinder working, whereas the HUN machine is comparatively noiseless & twice as fast. Have not heard of NOWELL FORTH for some time. He is quite English now & like Laura & Charlie does not like to be mistaken for an Australian soldier but an English Regular. Dolly met the latter in London.

[Page 132]

Friday 11 May 1917

Time runs on & we are still facing the Turksbut well entrenched & Barb wire entanglements in front. Our daily bombs are dropped 1st by the Turkson us then our planes visit them & do likewise. Did I tell you of the GAS practice, we have had marching through our own GAS FUMES wearing our Helmets, a suffocating experience at first, & in appearance makes men look hideous. Some day I hope to be rid of it all & back among Rabbits, Fires, Burrs Blowflies & even Strikes. Saw 2 Curlews tonight which made me think of old shooting days with JOE.

[Page 133]

Saturday 12 May 1917

I have spoken before of the cleanliness of the TurksCamp all discipline. Here not a TIN or BOTTLE or Bag can to be seen on our arrival & the whole WADI absolutely clean. All Camel & Horse Manure burnt etc. – evidence of the fear of Disease & German discipline I suppose.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.] Also DIARY 15/1/17. Letter Mother JOE Day Mch. 25 & April 1st & also H.L.A. The latter asks me to bring my wife to Eli Elivah. I shall be glad to do so some day. Do you notice how badly Dolly speaks even after being at one of the best schools in England. Also Papers thank you. The old Home must be kept as well as ever. Am sorry TESS had to be shot.

[Page 134]

Sunday 13 May 1917

Thank you for returning CLARRIE DANIELS diaries they are very beautiful. Last night an exciting AIR FIGHT occurred just outside our Trenches. The HUNS chased 2 of our machines & brought one down. Then like a Hawk circled over us [the following crossed through to the end of the page] while I let loose 1400 rounds & never scratched him. An Aviator was burnt a bit but not killed. Oh the machine was presented by Commercial Travellers of N.S.W. but the HUN has too much speed & their flying men are certainly game. Letters from England the wife is enjoying herself in London rather a spoilt Child I am afraid. Am back into SHORTS again for the summer legs show very white for a start.

[Page 135]

Monday 14 May 1917

Shifted Camp behind another Squadron for 2 days spell, but we are still in the front line & see scrapping of various sorts each day. Air duels we do not shine in. What we would like to know is, RUSSIA’S intentions. The Papers say Starvation Conditions exist here, all I can say re Army rations is they are sufficient. We would like to know the correct & true position of the War, so much is cooked for our own digestion. Thanks for Local Paper – I get the HAY Grazier at times & am still interested in Saffron, Thistles, Rabbits, Shire Council & even who is Herdsman at CARRATHOOL.

[Page 136]

Tuesday 15 May 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.] The enclosed cutting by K was written by Officers Mess. Cook KEPPIE quite a good fellow. Our men had another go at enemy plane & altho’ firing a good 50 yards ahead at 700 yards range couldn’t hit a feather out of the HUN.

Rained last night, dust now MUD & as the crops are ripe must be harvested will do a lot of damage. The men are all fully fit. Septic Sores being chief trouble, but as one Trooper remarked "How can you expect anything different when LAZARUS was covered with sores, must be result of local conditions apart from Army."

[Page 137]

Wednesday 16 May 1917

Still on outpost. Small scraps occur every day t’wixt Turks& our PATROL & the railway crawls along towards us. I enclose cutting from bulletin. Trooper K is our cook Old Keppie, a splendid chap & a Bushie. I did not know he had literary talent. I don’t know what the C.O. thinks about his last statement.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] If old Sam comes thro’ D’quin he might be able to get me leave to come home but I’m doubtful. I see the old man went to America.

Jim Ayre has collected a lot of seeds & I’m enclosing some – hope no noxious weeds among ‘em. Just wild flowers from the Holy Land.

[Page 138]

Thursday 17 May 1917

Still outpost. We used to be called the "KIWI" LANCERS in HELIOPOLIS but I am afraid there is nothing of the "exquisite" about us now.

One of our "planes" down today, the pilot rode home on the Tail of his mates machine.

Will post this as we go on a raid tomorrow & I don’t like running the risk of being blown out or captured with any Diary on me.

Love to all, hoping ere long we may all be together again.

[Page 139]

Friday 18 May 1917

Posted notes yesterday – am afraid my easy writing is cussed hard reading but I try & put in a few lines to show you I never forget you all at home & to let you know "All’s Well. See Copy.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.] On Reconnaissance had 1 horse shot. Turkswatch us, we watch Turks. Every afternoon about noon the wind rises & clouds of dust blown from the North nearly as bad as a Riverina Dust storm. Shifted Camp last night back across the WADI. Our turn for the Trench having finished for a time.

Will let Joe know if I am into CHANTER.

[Page 140]

Saturday 19 May 1917

Some Gift stuff for the men given out. It would add value to every article if some one’s name was on it - as the idea that it is a personal gift appeals to all ranks as much as the value.

Heavy Dust storm last night – I must be getting nervy – Coz, a cricket walked over my face & I sprang 2 ft. out of my Blankets – thinking it was a SCORPION. At one HUT yesterday I found 20 Cisterns or SILOS about 12 ft. deep 6’ wide & a manhole to enter. These Holes are used to store the grain in, it seems to keep all right. I wonder how it would work in our country.

[Page 141]

Sunday 20 May 1917

Went to Church Parade, didn’t feel much better as ears were full of sand from Khamsin. Am now killing Flies by with some Tanglefoot on knee, 20 dead. A big Mail has been lost at sea so the letters from the wee wife are lost I expect. 52 Flies now dead. I do wish I could get a photo of the Squadron in their GAS HELMETS. You will see the same in Illustrated English Papers. Lost count of dead Flies!!! but Insecticide is good stuff to send. Fly Paper one is apt to sit on!!! But all these things can now be bought at the CANTEEN at Railhead. Getting to it is the trouble.

[Page 142]

Monday 21 May 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Went KHAN YUNUS to take summary of evidence in another GROG case. Beer does not do much harm, but the rotten whisky men get hold of causes a lot of trouble. Stayed the night & returned in morning. Had letters from Laura, the wife & Papers from Mrs. Cotton – Charlie had gone back to France.

Much of the Harvest is now being gathered by the inhabitants, in behind our lines. A broader Railway & Pipe line & many other improvements I noticed in my ride today.

[Page 143]

Tuesday 22 May 1917

Lunched at Division Head Quarters. Weather much warmer now but Khamsin has stopped Howling.

Off on the Raid this afternoon a 36 hour stunt to blow up the railway. I cannot go into details but it means fighting our way & 2 nights in the Saddle. I hope I am back to continue my Diary tomorrow or with a nice soft wound en route for Cairo . Allanson is here going strong on Galloper, he often brings me a message from the C.O.

[Page 144]

Wednesday 23 May 1917

Nothing doing no BLIGHT or wound.

I write this going on covering party for Royal Engineers who are using Gun Cotton & doing great destruction to Bridges culverts Railway Stations etc. 30 miles from our Camp. We rode all night my Squadron in the advance. The enemy had evacuated but many Bedouins here. Much Wheat burnt by us. Now 9 a.m. We leave in a few hours time for Camp again & expect some opposition from Beersheba.

The Power that rules these things gave us a cloudy day so enemy planes have not yet discovered us. Country stonier down here & better water. Germans had built a Mosque etc. etc. to gain Kudos here among Bedouins.

[Page 145]

Thursday 24 May 1917


We got home after a 70 mile ride at midnight last night – all ranks very tired but we did our job, blew up 2 large Stone Bridges & 5 miles of Railway & burnt many stacks of wheat. I could have got plenty of mutton & Fowls but TIME was the essence of the Contract so only got 2 Sheep & 10 Fowls.

As a consequence the enemy are bombing us today. We could have taken many Camels but had not the time, it was just a quick rush there & back. My Squadron was in the advance & we went 32 mile the other side of the Railway line & first cut the Telegraph line each side of Station. All well built German controlled.

[Page 146]

Friday 25 May 1917

We hear General S-ts is coming here – he will be popular.

Men & horses recovering from want of sleep. As long as a man or a horse is young, the power of recuperation is there. I am adding a wrinkle or two as each year of WAR goes bye.

KAISER’s grandmother’s birthday yesterday!! We did not celebrate it in the usual way – but had a RUM issue for the men on a/c of extra fatigue.

Dust very bad in this Camp & bombed again today.

Letters from Mother 8/4/17 & 161/4/17 with Cuttings, DAY 8/4/17, JOE 8/4/17 & Mrs. Stronge.

[Page 147]

Saturday 26 May 1917

A party out for WOOD, brought in 4 Turkish Cavalry. One was riding on a Light Horse Saddle which was made in Melbourne!! I think Joe very ill advised to try & come. Who would look after the Letting of the House & what would become of MOTHER, the Garden etc. etc. Besides surely one is enough. Joe’s responsibilities are more than mine & does he really think he would be doing the right thing coz I don’t. I doubt if JOE FIT any way – the war will be over in a month or so, I’m sorry as I know Joe’s feelings but he would be mad to come.

[Page 148]

Sunday 27 May 1917


In support at NAGILI, with the naked eye, 100s of Turkscan be seen grazing their horses & gathering in the Harvest. We have just sent a Squadron to set fire to it.

I told the wife she was wrong in going to LONDON for WAR work, plenty about Manchester. Laura only saw her twice in about 3 weeks. Rumoured we are going back a few miles soon for a spell. Some sea bathing would be good for Septic Sores. I am quite alright again now.

Will post this tonight. Thank you Mother dear for your long letters.

[Page 149]

Thursday 7 June 1917

From 27 May to 7 June missing.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Our H.Q’s were bombed yesterday & NOWELL FORTH’s horse died from wounds on previous day – demoralizing damn thing but a fog last night hid the moon. Still anxiously waiting our turn on the Beach.

Scorpions are very plentiful also snakes & the boys going on leave take them to Cairo to amuse!!! the CASINO girls. The Scorpions bite is no worse than a Bull dog ant except when the female is mating – then she eats the male if she gets a chance & will fight anything.

Last night I got a Centipede 8" long – Cairo is full of snake charmers & jugglers & our boys try to follow suit with sometimes disastrous results.

[Page 150]

Friday 8 June 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Laura writes that she has seen my Father in Law’s death in the Paper at home – I have had no Cable so am not worrying too much yet it may be another man – Dolly will feel it. Visited 3rd L.H. & took them down at Bridge last night.

Tomorrow a French Cavalry General is to witness the L.H. take a Redoubt – Nowell’s Camels will be on our left, a sort of Field Day showing L.H. doing dismounted duty like Rafa, MAGDHABA over again, but this time no real enemy.

Got some splendid shirts for the men from the L.H. Depot Sydney – most acceptable as the warm weather is here now.

[Page 151]

Saturday 9 June 1917

Well we’ve had our Field day & took the positions. Two of our Officers were decorated with Croix de GUERRE etc. & when the French General presented them, he kissed our hard faced officers who stonily stared in front of them.

After, we marched past in clouds of dust & returned to Camp very thirsty.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] No cable from Dolly think there must be some mistake – or I would have heard re Father’s death. I have written her, that some of the Officers have been Kissed by more than a French General in Egypt!!

[Page 152]

Sunday 10 June 1917

Going out to SHAM fight our Scouts put up a Jackal, I let a Troop go & we ran him down in great style – the same sort of animal we used to get in S. Africa. Coming home I noticed a Bedouin child cutting up young PRICKLY PEAR & feeding 2 Camels on it. The SPINES were soft but quite strong enough to stick in our mouths – yet the Camel was fat.

Took the Squadron to the Beach & paid them there, the swim did them all a world of good - altho’ I did not go to Church Parade I thought of you little Mother.

[Page 153]

Monday 11 June 1917

Here’s one – a subaltern of the 7 L.H. wanted to buy some fowls from Bedouin – unable to talk clapped his arms & crowed. MEN on return to Camp would flap arms & crow whenever he came into lines (not being too popular). Later a Patrol brought in a Rooster & kept him alive till next day. Rooster crowed at dawn, shout from dug-out "STOP that row". Again Cock crowed "STOP that row" from the 1 dug-out. Then one of the Stable Picket rushed at the rooster with Bayonet saying "I’ll cut your b- head off if you crow again" don’t you hear the Officers order!! The men are great wags & generally score.

[Page 154]

Tuesday 12 June 1917

Now that stirrups IRONS & BITS have to be brightened, it is no easy job after 3 years of rusting. However the boys rose to the occasion & found that the SODA Tablets issued to CHLORINATE the drinking water were excellent, the M.O. wonders at the demand!! so suddenly. As a rule the men drink the first water they find if dry & worry not about germs.

It is an exploded idea the deadliness of SCORPIONS, men get bitten almost daily & beyond a big swelling for the whole of the time & a sick feeling, they carry on – not pleasant I’ll admit but we thought at first would be more serious.

[Page 155]

Wednesday 13 June 1917

Last night a terrific bombardment went on on our left. The SKY was bright with Flares & SHELLS bursting – result an important forward position of Johnnie Turkstaken.

"Camels" had a day’s sports & Carnival & Concert in the evening. I went & saw Nowell, he’s a great man among the English Aristocracy now – LORDS & ragged EARLS, etc: One item a Musical Chairs by mounted Camels was screamingly funny – Camels are riden in a circle, bags on ground at intervals, on the Band stopping, Camels are made to sit on nearest bag.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] BEER night again & many have yet to learn "How much they can carry". Broken noses & more SKIN off the result.

[Page 156]

Thursday 14 June 1917

Getting warmer each week & the men are in SHORTS again, they were issued with Helmets last year but so many floated down the Canal we have been allowed to keep our HATS this year.

Just recd. word of Father-in-law’s death, enclose cutting he left everything in = Shares to Dolly & his son Capt. ISH. His wife NIL, nor does he mention me, but the Will was made in March 1916, I have a Copy – don’t I know total but he was a wealthy man so Dolly is well provided for.

Will post this at once. Love to all.

[Page 157]

Friday 15 June 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.] You may be surprised to hear that my old nickname of JERRY has never been allowed to die. Tommy Radford started it again & NOWELL uses it. I got it first at Mrs. BATEMANS. It is a relief to me to know that DOLLY is now provided for. I do not know how much but she has her own home, Furniture etc. & several hundreds a year at least – ISH gave 5000/-/- to relative, but entailed the rest for SON & daughter in equal shares. Have written you fully.

Near here is a SHEIKH’s Tomb, as in the present so in the past, notable men had large monuments – these are dome shaped [see drawing on image] & painted white by mashing up the PRICKLY PEAR Cactus leaves & mixing with water. Good landmarks to take compass bearings on.

[Page 158]

Saturday 16 June 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.] Lost a horse last night & found him in Camel Officers lines – one of our men had been promised a carton of whisky for a Horse. To such a state have morals sunk but Officers!! should not encourage such jobbery. Horses are much prized by Camel Officers – handier than Camels.

On the range again today getting men accustomed to the new High Velocity Rifles - & ammunition. Dust continuous & the Beach seems afar off.

[Page 159]

Sunday 17 June 1917

Visited General Meredith and old O/C & one time the Bushmen’s Medical Officer in S.A.

Re losing Horses one gets funny descriptions in Orders sometimes, such as "Bay Geld, an old steeple-chasers so should be easily recognized", another, "Brown Geld etc. a little wild" - this from the Tommies lines & Orders. Expect to move to Beach tomorrow at last. Did not go to Church as a howling Dust Storm blew all the afternoon & we have lost our good old Padre who is now a Major & at DivisionAL Hd. Qts.

[Page 160]

Monday 18 June 1917


I’ve had a swim & built a Bivy facing the Mediteranean just 60 yards from the waves – it is a treat to be clean again & the horses should improve here. They have been falling away for the last month. No grazing & too many Flies DUST & not enough water. My two are still fit & well & not a blemish on them altho’ they have some weight to carry. Old Colonel Granville left today sick – we have only ¼ of the evacuations the Tommies have among the men. Our men spend all their money on TUCKER.

[Page 161]

Tuesday 19 June 1917


RAMADAN, 1 month of fasting for the Turksby day & all MOSLEMS [indecipherable] tomorrow. They must not even drink water but they have a great spread at sundown & feed all night & if we let them will sleep by day. At the end of the month they are supposed to be most vicious & best time for them to attack. Let ‘em.

We had hopes of 1914 even getting leave to Australia but I see it can’t be did.

Forgive the Blot but fountain Pens are erratic at times – fortunately, we always have sand to blot with.

[Page 162]

Wednesday 20 June 1917


Tomorrow the G.O.C. inspects us, much cleaning of accoutrements etc.; moving Bivy I can see the Store ships landing stores by lighters this side of GAZA, the same as we did at ANZAC. I get 2 [indecipherable] a day & enjoying them. "Bombing" Classes are now popular as the sea coast swarms with fish & one bomb well thrown into a shoal returns many. Did you get a MILLS BOMB I sent by Pearse of the Comforts Fund. I told him to leave it at McKinson & Lavenders office, Sydney - nil load. Had dinner with the Gunners a SOMERSET BATTERY.

[Page 163]

Thursday 21 June 1917

Speaking of Comforts Fund reminds me that the Depot at KANTARA has been burnt down which is bad luck. The Y.M.C.A. are here on the beach "Ubiquitous" & the old PIANO too, but the treble notes have been rather damaged by a bomb. Those wearying music lessons were worth it all, to be able to strum now.

General Chauvel who has the Division & one time our BRIGADIER inspected us carefully this morning. He looks to older as we all do & shall do if the end does not come soon. Our Rest!!! will be up in a week then back to the front line again.

SODA TABLETS & the issued RAW LIME JUICE pushed us through by taking the rust off IRONS, BITS etc.

[Page 164]

Friday 22 June 1917

I hear an Australian mail is in but letters take longer of late & some say they leave Australia via America for Egypt, what a touch. I enclose you snapshots of my Horse the one HLA bought from Harrison. You see he looks well after all his work.

One days pay per Officer & other ranks is being collected for a memorial on Suez Canal in memory of our mates. A life size bronze horse with rider, has been suggested. BRONZE.

[The following paragraph crossed through.] My pen is bad, but better than pencil. As a mail is going out I send these notes with love to all.

[Page 165]

Saturday 23 June 1917

Please post me a well bound Pocket book like this for DIARY. This will last till end of September only. Not far from here is a flat piece of couch grassed land, a pretty spot surrounded by Fig Trees etc.:- at present an Aerodrome no doubt some day a Race Course or Polo ground – here are all sorts of planes DE HAVILANDS, Bristol Monoplanes, Vickers [indecipherable] Martinsides etc: an alarm was given & the way the machines came out was like upsetting a Beehive. At last the Tables were turning. Our machines chased the HUN home. Stanley Braim is back in Cairo trying again for his commission so I did not see him. KEITH URQUHART I think is there, Rutledge has gone to England.

[Page 166]

Sunday 24 June 1917

Sitting here on the Beach reminds one of years ago when we waited for the Julia PERCY with Father on board coming to Warrnambool.

I could give you interesting details of RAIDS etc., but one thing Censor would not permit & I think you are more interested in the little things of our daily life. We have now a PLAGUE OF CRICKETS – 100s of them in every Bivy, supposed to be good luck aren’t they? Lets hope so. Went to Church Parade but owing to the roar of the surf could hear nothing. I thought of you, bravely walking home from the old Church in D’quin.

[Page 167]

Monday 25 June 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.] The Bathing has done the men a lot of good. Septic Sores are healing fast. Managed to get 26 pairs of Boots but they want HATS & Riding Pants badly. Only a single railway line makes it difficult to deliver any stuff beyond bare necessities.

Beer at the rate of 2 per man for 5 P.T. the medical folk think this is good for the blood. Very easy to take anyway. I hope to go up in a plane tomorrow from our local Aerodrome.

[Page 168]

Tuesday 26 June 1917

I quote news cabled to Egyptian Papers for benefit !!! of Troops or better I cut it out & enclose herewith – this is cabled mind you!! I hope the Chinamans garden is now above Water EGYPTIAN MAIL 24 June 1917. This afternoon my ambition to Fly was achieved. I went up 2000 ft. & saw the Minarets & Domes of GAZA, then over the Sea & back around the Sand dunes & Camps. I felt no "Mal de Aeroplane" & enjoyed it muchly - only for a Cricket that was on the TOE of my top Boot, which started to visit about when sitting still, all sorts of animals from Scorpions to Centipedes flitted [indecipherable].

[Page 169]

Wednesday 27 June 1917

Our planes bombed some came down over Bedouin country among them the BUS I had a ride in. The Bedouins burnt them before they could be reclaimed but The Aviators rode home on the tails of the other planes.

Just got news we move on Friday. This has been Paradise & marks another milestone along the weary trail of war. Each move one & all look for the end. The sea has done us all much good & we have been CLEAN.

[Page 170]

Thursday 28 June 1917

Had no mail from AUSTRALIA for a month now & no further ENGLISH news but we must be patient. I enclose with these a collection of snaps not very good but they may interest you. Weather warmer & I’m reducing my KIT to 2 Blankets. Flies in 1000s & the Horses with docked tails & manes are suffering.

The first thing an Englishman does is to cut the tail & mane off.

Post this with love to all as tomorrow we will be further away.

[Page 171]

Friday 29 June 1917


Reveille 3 A.M. & reached Camp in time to see a good aerial fight, but the HUN got away. We have some new fast planes now. Back in the Dirt & dust & stand to arms etc., still we had a good spell of 10 days at the Sea. RABBITS were issued in lieu of meat tonight – I suppose trapped, but they’ve given me many a sleepless night, when the beggars would not take the poison, well our men don’t like em but we eat to live & after all it’s a change from BULLY, provided the weather is not too HOT – it is WAR. Posted notes yesterday & some snapshots. I hope you get them O.K.

[Page 172]

Saturday 30 June 1917

A specimen of a large DESERT snake was killed in a subalterns blankets this morning – they are shinier than the Australian snake & more stumpy tailed – some poisonous. Big guns going all this morning – we have a job on MONDAY.

Just heard that the S.S. Mongolia has been sunk near Bombay with our letters home so probably you will miss my notes for a few weeks.

I believe DR. NORMAN Robertson & his wife were on board, but have not heard the Casualties yet. I hope they may be safe.

[Page 173]

Sunday 1 July 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Mail in at last letters from Mother, Day, Joe 6/5/17 & 13/8/17, Percy Smith with photo of "Spot" – I can hear the men saying – "It would do me to be walking down that little path" etc. etc. Some are pretty home sick.

Flies very bad – just put "insecticide" on my head to keep them off while writing. On the Mediteranean the flies really bite, these don’t.

[The following sentence crossed through.]
Glad all well at home. English mail very late, fear some has gone down in the Mediteranean.

We are expecting General ALANBY who supersedes MURRAY.

[The following sentence crossed through.]
The latter did not like the Australians – but thought them good common fodder.

[Page 174]

Monday 2 July 1917


I noticed GUNNEDAH was on the case of Rabbits anyway they were very good. Just seen a photo of myself in Sydney Mail when I had a septic neck dated May 16 1917 entitled enjoying a Shave rather sarcastic.

I note mice are eating Motor Cars etc. I suppose if the war keeps up they will be frozen & sent to feed Tommy.

Our men & Horses are often hungry – Commissariate is wonderfully good – far better than Africa & all delivered by a single line of rails across 200 mile desert. All units get Cigarettes or Tobacco sufficient for the week plus 2 boxes of matches every Saturday free.

[Page 175]

Saturday 3 July 1917

Our new Commander in Chief is chief topic of conversation. Tommy officers say – "Really rough sort of fellah" – you men should get on well with him!! After we got home from last STUNT I asked Troop Leaders to give me a List of any deficiencies caused through crossing Barrage of Shell Fire, meaning such equipment as NOSEBAGS, SHOE CASES etc. likely to fall off saddle – one put in
4 pairs of PANTS!!!
1 pair of BOOTS!!!

Going Port Said tomorrow on continued business & pleasure for 3 days so will post this with some snap shots. My Table manners will be lacking I’m afraid & I’ll find the BED too soft.

[Page 176]

Sunday 8 July 1917

[Page 177]

Tuesday 3 July

Started off on a 2 days stunt expect some fighting & on return I hope to go Cairo on Regimental business – Turksare all around us here & we get the usual evening plane over us daily & see some good fights. We move again tonight at midnight & get in touch at 6 A.M. 40 miles there & back to blaze the track for our railway to B--?

We got 8 Turksby ambush yesterday. Their lances make good bivy poles. When I say WE I mean the 4th L.H. not my particular Regiment.

[Page 178]

Wednesday 4 July 1917

We lay all day in a WADI HANAFISH being shelled intermittently but at 5.30 when we withdrew, we got salvoes, it is wonderful what a man can ride through. They fired on our Ambulances capsizing 2. Our objective was a form and RECONNAISSANCE in strength to cover a Topographical survey party for MAP & Royal Engineer work. We are in virgin country & in addition to finding WATER & building railway we have to survey this within 2½ miles of Beersheba-Gaza railway & could see the Turkstrain.

Got back at midnight to camp another round of the clock done.

[Page 179]

Thursday 5 July 1917

Yesterday we were due south of GAZA & near the spot where tradition says SAMSON carried the gates of Gaza! to. In the Wadi was a great out-crop of LIMESTONE, all good sheep country. Received Australasian MAY 5 stock paper many thanks. Allanson did well yesterday he was despatch riding & had many shells around him but the little bird that sits up aloft to take care of poor Sailor Jack also looks after Tomas ATKINS. ENGLISH mail is long delayed these days. For my little mate’s sake I hope she gets mine in less time. Managed to bring home some good 14 ft. lengths of 9 x 4 sawn Pine Tinker the Turk had in a Hut.

[Page 180]

Friday 6 July 1917


[The following paragraph is crossed through.]
Nowell is only 1 mile away & for the past 2 months has been quite close – I have seen him a few times, but he generally rakes up a Lord or a Duke from somewhere & exudes that very English superior air & of course is a Lt. Col, so we don’t talk much about Carrakoorte & old days. YES, I got DAYS SOKS with night ones long [indecipherable] – good soks too am start wearing ‘em.

Last night a total eclipse put the moon out at about midnight, so got home without giving the HUNS a chance to bomb. Heavy DEW each night & a blanket wanted, by day 110° in the shade, if any.

[Page 181]

Saturday 7 July 1917

You remember BANJO’s Preludes, I am plagarizing - but I have gathered these notes, afar in the wind & the rain in the land where the Bedouin Camps are on the edge of the plains. They are just the rude stories one hears in sadness & mirth. The records of wandering years and scant is their worth. Though their merits indeed are but slight I shall not repine. If they give you one moments delight Old Mother of mine.

[Page 182]

Sunday 2 September 1917

8 July to 16th missing.

[Page 183]

Tuesday 17 July 1917

Posted notes yesterday – very HOT. In desperation I had a sponge over. Clouds of dust have been blowing for the past 24 hours. I posted notes every week or so now, if lost so many & such big gaps must be made. We hear of peace offer etc. etc. & Rumanian advance but cannot believe all we hear. [The remainder of the page crossed through.] Dolly writes of good form again & very anxious to come to Australia the warm climate appealing to her. I hope Joe has given up the idea of soldiering. I cannot see how the Home will go on without him altho’ this may sound selfish.

[Page 184]

Wednesday 18 July 1917

Am afraid our boys are having a hard time in France & we should not grouse here. It is HATS OFF to the Infantry after this War. This climate makes a man very lazy & livery a big long tiring night march, SHELLS, etc. then a day or two in Bivouac. As I used to say in the old days – "Keep a bit up your sleeve for a Bush Fire". A man never knows when he may be turned out at any hour – hence we visit other Units very little. Just heard from Lance that Charlie was back in England slightly wounded in face but nothing serious.

[Page 185]

Thursday 19 July 1917

Our last stunt was spoilt by Bedouin spies. We are too easy on these pests who are all against us. Rob our dead & have a lot of equipment picked up from the Baltic fields. Our equipment is excellent & every thing Australia has supplied has been excellent. Tommy Officers are loud in praise of our Boots. Good old Australian Rabbit Skin HATS are better than any others issued & the same applies to TUNICS PANTS etc. Last night an order appeared saying Rabbit Skins must be left in the sun & returned to the Quarter Master daily. We still get frozen Rabbit issued.

[Page 186]

Friday 20 July 1917

Heavy Fog & both Turks& our own Battery kept up a Bombardment. We were out on a driva all night & got some Bedouin spys & Patrols, and 13 Turk prisoners. Killed a few. Night & day have been turned into one lately, it is hard to keep count. We were only in Camp long enough to fill our NOSE BAGS & get some Tucker & off again – "Taubes" killed a few New Zealanders with bombs. I opened fire but the Target is so small, a square yard only vulnerable & that travelling at the rate of 60 or so miles an hour, takes hitting.

[Page 187]

Saturday 21 July 1917

Off again at 0200. Johnny Turk has been driven back to his old position, but we keep in touch, it is like the old Romani days before the big fight. We are working up to it. The men are wonderfully cheerful. When operations close we turn homewards they all sing – but as the hours drag round it takes us 5 & 6 hours to water sometimes. The congestion & Dust, & waiting one’s turn at the Troughs naturally breaks their good spirits to bursting point at times & unkind things are said about the STAFF whose job it is to arrange these matters.

[Page 188]

Sunday 22 July 1917

[The following page crossed through.]
Mothers & Day’s letters of 2/6/17 also Diary cutting. MARCH 19 should read GIZA not Rafa. The former is a suburb of Cairo (most fashionable). Rafa – Border Police Station etc. Am afraid not very interesting viz. March 30. Glad alls well at home. Later letters June 9 & Diary but please be more careful about people. MURGHA MACK’S people would be terribly distressed at printing CANCER. MACK is here & much annoyed at it. Many thanks letters of June 9th & Papers. HOWELL FOSTER is NOWEL FORTH!!.

[Page 189]

Monday 23 July 1917

Am afraid writing is impossible at times. Raided Turkslast night. They lost 100 killed, we a few. Still doing these days & nights as well. Owing to a fog during one of our RAIDS we lost a good chance.

Out all night & in the morning were surprised at seeing our Division marching towards us, i.e. towards BEERSHEEBA or BIR SABA originally BIR meaning WELL – EL place of SABA – Seven – 7 Wells - our intelligence!!! said it had been evacuated & we simply had to march in. Well we are back in our old Camp not in BIR SHEEBA tonight - VERY HOT by day & heavy FOGS by night – wets everything.

[Page 190]

Tuesday 24 July 1917

Turksare mounted on miserable Arab Stallions, but they carry an immense load & are loaded to the teeth carting around LANCE & Sword, Shoes, NAILS, Picketing Peg, NOSE BAG, BLANKET, MESS TIN, Ammunition, TUCKER, etc.:- Mostly LOUSY, but fat & young lucky chaps. We drop propaganda literature in the Huts & Outposts for their Patrols to pick up. Some of the saddlery was made in VICTORIA!!!, the bulk of equipment in Berlin. Neither you nor DAY ever mention domestic troubles. I suppose old Daisy is doing the work as of old & not grousing – as I am inclined to but I’m getting Homesick.

[Page 191]

Wednesday 25 July 1917

Am looking out for Parcel of Sweets etc. & will acknowledge. All ranks are like school boys & enjoy primitive pleasures, eating being one. Throat lozenges are what I particularly like & for use in the Squadron. HAIR CLIPPERS are appreciated. Usual Taubes over & usual Anti Aircraft fire, usual result "nill". New Zealanders suffered very badly from bombs a few days ago. Stand to hours 0300 daily now, a fog then by noon the thermometer reaches 112° or more in the shade.

Posted notes yesterday as mails are most erratic these days. Got a rotten septic leg.

[Page 192]

Thursday 26 July 1917

PARCEL. Mother’s parcel arrived safely, but the extreme heat had melted the sweets & the TIN was broken. Shortbread & pudding very good also buttons, many thanks for same.

We go into the Trenches for a week after tomorrow to give our Horses a spell – it is too hot for large operations, the Infantry couldn’t stand it, but they make raids at night, just to keep Johnny Turk jumping.

On outpost tonight. The [indecipherable] appear in the Tommy Sections [indecipherable]

[Page 193]

Friday 27 July 1917

We made a success of an ambush last night.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Put men in an old MUD HUT, & waited Johnny’s arrival. Single scouts were allowed to pass then the Officer was shot dead, 1 prisoner taken, 1 wounded & 2 horses shot. Turk put up a good fight, firing his revolver till finished. I was not actually in the Hut but in support.

Out 24 hours & got home very tired. Shift Camp in the morning. Jim Ayre went Cairo on leave. I hear he’s now in Hospital with GASTRITIS, was not strong enough for this job. Am wondering how long my innards will stand this life.

[Page 194]

Saturday 28 July 1917

In the Trenches again but at a new Post called Y Redoubt – this gives the Horses a rest after their past 3 weeks hard riding. I am thankful as I have a Septic Boil which crucifies my leg when I move & means continuous foments daily. I suppose it’s the Tucker.

Flies worse here but am glad to get off riding – while leg bad. The L.H. are a versatile crowd – can take their turn as Pioneers, Railway construction or Trench digging – etc:-

Comfort Fund sent the men tinned vegetables & Tobacco much appreciated.

[Page 195]

Sunday 29 July 1917

As the Regiment is broken into separate squadrons one in each Redoubt, no Church Parade this morning.

Septic leg better, a Camp is started at Port Said for Septic Sores 8 days each man in turn but I am only just back but a man’s BOILERS cannot be too good after 3 years of Tinned dog etc.:- The rations are better than ever were issued in S. Africa.

I am not grousing but once this Regt. left Galipoli not one single English decoration has been given, Romani Katia El Arish, MAGDHABA Rafa etc. a Croix de Guerre or Serbian Medal came this way, that is all. The men think a lot of these things.

[Page 196]

Monday 30 July 1917

The Prickly Pears are ripe now, bigger than the Q’land ones, but not bad eating if you can dodge the hair like spines. Natives make a meal of them. The middle is like a POMEGRANATE all seeds. Although the middle of summer the plains are covered with green couch grass, good enough to lamb on. Here we take our Horses 5 miles to water & 5 back. No attempt to put a bore down or any modern water improvements.

[Page 197]

Tuesday 31 July 1917

Had a funny experience last night. Two of our Secret Agents came thro’ our lines. Dressed as Bedouins they showed the Officers where they carried their messages etc. & also took off Turbans & exhibited 5 or 6 Turkish sovereigns. After satisfying myself they were genuine I gave them a Pass sent them on to D.H.Q.

Imagine my surprise when I was rung up on Telephone & accused of taking a Turkish Sovereign from one of the Agents. This is an old Oriental Confidence trick that works with our Officials sometimes. This time they drew a blank.

[Page 198]

Wednesday 1 August 1917

Leg better. I hope the Anzac memorial figure of the L.H. man will be with one hand bandaged for Septic Sores.

Got a temperature & sore throat really thinking of taking a longer leave if I can get it.

Turks Bombing Squadron has arrived as the moon is now full. Tonight should be exciting exciting. Another year rolled round – Aug. 4th I was wounded.

John Ayre went on leave & got into Hospital at Cairo . Gastritis.

[Page 199]

Thursday 2 August 1917

Slight Tonsilitis & Bronchitis & with Septic leg I may go Field Hospital for a few days – nothing serious only usual small worries. Brigadier inspected Horses & told me "he was a bit of a crock himself" so the opinion was I was put on the Train at 4 o’clock & sent to No. 14 Australian General Hospital Cairo . There is nothing much wrong only fed up with Boils & Bronchitis etc. so will stay in bed for a week or so.

Jim Ayre is in the same Hospital & will soon be O.K. I won’t be here more than a few days & then will be sent to ALEXANDRIA.

[Page 200]

Friday 3 August 1917

No. 14 A.G.H. Here I am same old place as landed in this time last year, don’t worry as only means a spell.

Before leaving Brigade Head Quarters I saw a good spider fight – Great big TARANTULA much bigger & fiercer than the Australian sort. Are put in a TIN WASH TUB & in 7 minutes one or the other is Killed. The 6th Reg. beat B.H.Q. but ours is undefeated now. He can eat a cricket at a sitting – the prize is a case of Beer.

[Page 201]

Saturday 4 August 1917

No. 14 A.G.H. Very Hot in Cairo but good for lungs, no DEW or FOG.

Am enjoying clean beds & Baths etc., tho’ feel a bit of a SCRIMSHANKER not sick enough for a Hospital one meets so many malingerers.

SLEEP is the great thing that I excel at.

Old "Ally" the Native in charge of Officers Mess remembered me coming in on a Stretcher before, but very few of the old No. 3 staff are here, all in France. Colonel Blackburn is my M.O. he was locum for Bronowski in HAY years ago. As for the Sisters, we all love being "managed" & spoilt a bit, all part of the cure.

[Page 202]

Sunday 5 August 1917

Now don’t worry about me, I am better off here than anywhere & I shall not be back for a fortnight so the Doctor says. Jessie McDonald is here as a nurse. Nowell Forth is at Abbussitta but I’ve not seen him for sometime.

It is very HOT but the Doctor says he will send me to ALEXANDRIA next week.

Meantime all my love from your son Frank.

[Page 203]

Monday 6 August 1917

No. 14 A.G.H.
Weighed this morning 12 st. 4 lbs. I’ve lost a stone & am very glad – getting A1, nice hot dry weather.

Many men have been in to see me, & it is a lazy luxurious existence.

The Ward holds 52 beds & if a Painter could put on Canvas the night sister at her central table with a Red Shaded Lamp writing up her returns etc:- & looking up now & again to the different Patients, the beds show up so white at nightime & it is all so very still. Some men are so bad with Septic Sores they look as tho’ they were being embalmed, a mass of bandages like PTOLEMIES II on his stretcher – in MUSEUM.

[Page 204]

Tuesday 7 August 1917

Go Alexandria today tomorrow – better but sore.

I’d like to warn the new Sisters arriving not to use Arabic words till they know their exact meaning. One in this ward made a tremendous "faux pas". To mislead patients from thinking she was one of the WHEEL BARROWS as the last reinforcements are called – i.e., "Pushed all the way". This girl used an expression which in English is unprintable. JESSIE McDONALD is in France it is a cousin here named Flora.

[Page 205]

Wednesday 8 August 1917

Arrived 1.30 p.m. or 13.30 as we write it – sent to No. 10 Convalescent Hospital, a fine building taken over from a HUN, cotton Merchant facing the sea, in nice grounds. Here I expect to stay one week then back to Palestine.

Am feeling fitter but very slack.

A mixture of Tommy Officers & Australians are here, they do not always blend well. But Scotties & Colonials do - it is the younger English pups speak so disparagingly of our folk – However!!! A lot of them bring it on themselves.

[Page 206]

Thursday 9 August 1917

Am hunting up VIVIAN PRICE’s grave, he died here & I hope to get a photo to send to the MILLS family. Left Ernie Armstrong of GUNBAR in the Hospital in Cairo . He is a full blown trooper & has RHEUMATISM. A moist heat here like Sydney & it does not agree with me. Am sending you some little water colours done by an Arabian Artist here. They want mounting.

[Page 207]

Friday 10 August 1917

No. 10 Convalescent HOME.
When photographing Price’s grave yesterday I found Markham Robertson’s & send you a photo to give Mrs. R. I’m posting Mrs. Mills one of Vivians.

The Colonial Photo Store, 31 Ramleh Street, Alexandria will find any mans grave & photograph it & send it out to parents. It takes a long time finding the grave sometimes.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Went to MONTARA with a Brigadier [indecipherable], whose carbon copy of letter to son describing the place I enclose – as he has done it so well, he read me the letter & I jokingly said that will do me, so I enclose COPY.

[Page 208]

Saturday 11 August 1917

We have all to be in by 8 p.m. & when out wear a Blue Band on our arm.

This morning I met Gen. Meredith & went to Stanley Bay swimming Beach. Mixed bathing – knocks me out.

This afternoon went to MUZAH Gardens, in a glass house I was shown the "Fern that goes to sleep" as soon as a leaf is touched it closes up & droops. In five minutes time it freshens up again. Have you ever heard of such a plant. The Orchids were very good, a peaceful place to pass away an hour or so.

[Page 209]

Sunday 12 August 1917

Did not go Church too Hot & my feet are cut by the rocks while bathing so read & wrote letters. I hope they reach their destination but one feels many don’t these days.

Meetings are held to WIN the WAR here – but hot air a lot. A Soldier’s life is now one of WORK, WORK little praise & much toil, & men who could will not enlist. Many Englishmen are in good Government billets here. I went to the UNION Club for lunch, it was crowded with able men in mufti.

[Page 210]

Monday 13 August 1917

My room mate is a Royal Scot, by name Capt. WEIR but no relation. Yesterday we went for a sail & had Tea at the Yatch Club. All the Clubs in Alex. have made us Hon. Members.

Examined by M.O. today, remaining for a few days yet – expect a good mail is following me up somewhere.

Posted Diary & photos yesterday. I wonder how many of my letters are lost these days. Big mail has followed me – Mother (23/6/17, 27/6/17, 17/6/17) Day 17/6/17, Laura 16/7/17, 17/7/17. Wife one a week & more. Also for [indecipherable] & Photos very good & many thanks. Also Australasians.

[Page 211]

Tuesday 14 August 1917

Re McCrae, have not yet met but have heard of him he is well. Am glad Jack is with you. Have not seen Nowell lately. Am getting fitter but the weather here is like Brisbane Heat so moist.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Thankful you all keeping fit. Dolly’s affair not settled yet as to INCOME, but I believe it will be considerable. Also got letters from Kamteen, Walgett, Goolquintle, Frank Lavender, Jack Mathews & others, Mrs. Ferrar. Am feeling a bit fitter but no real energy for anything.

Spend the day up & down the Beach on the top of a tram - where the air is good.

[Page 212]

Wednesday 15 August 1917

Big fighting is going on in France, "How long Mighty Father, How long". I feel ashamed of myself not wanting to return to the front still it has to be did & this time next week I expect to be back.

The expense of this place is borne entirely by the Red X & they treat us very well indeed equal to any first class Hotel, with a Bathing Box & Motor rides only not much liberty is granted & all officers must be in to dinner at night.

[Page 213]

Thursday 16 August 1917

[The following sentence crossed through.] A parcel from Home & one from Benduck Station have just arrived, they will keep till I rejoin.

I am not particularly fit yet, in Egypt if once one gets down at all, it is hard to pull up again & this coastal humid heat is very enervating. My blood is out of order that is the whole matter.

[The following sentence crossed through.] These notes are of interest to you only so please Censor heavily if you print them.

[Page 214]

Friday 17 August 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Went Alexandria & drew some money an expensive place this in one way as Officers are expected to be extravagant in many ways.

Feeling a bit better but will be here a few days yet.

[The following paragraph crossed through]
Post this to let you know, there is nothing the matter with me & a boat sails on Sunday, love to all. I sent another little Water Color & some snapshots.

[Page 215]

Saturday 18 August 1917

Alexandria Race Club sent complimentary Tickets to the Hospital so I went & enjoyed it but it was very Hot. Nearly all Officers in Alexandria can be seen there, & the world & his wife. I paid expenses. In the evening a dance is held at SAN STEFANO CASINO HOTEL on the Beach, a cosmopolitan crowd. We are not supposed to be out after 8 p.m. but by Bucksheesh to the Native Servants & carrying one’s boots in hand, one can get in like a Burglar after 8. M.O. says I can return on Wednesday next to the Regiment so I don’t mind being caught.

[Page 216]

Sunday 19 August 1917

No Church nearer than Alexandria so did not go.

Still very hot, damp but I am better.

Posted notes yesterday as you might think I have been really ill. I should have loved to get leave to England or AUSTRALIA but no hope at present.

Am not rejoicing at going back on Wednesday still it has to be did. Just received your Cable – "Hope Convalescent", thank you so much but really there has been nothing much wrong with me. It was dated 18th very quick. I wonder how you knew I was sick, from a Cable I suppose.

[Page 217]

Monday 20 August 1917

Bathed again but very rough. I have just applied for leave to England but do not think for one moment that I will get it still if reprised it will be no harm in applying and it will be a start, as the constant applying is the only method. I did not open PARCELS but sent by Post to the Regiment to save KIT space & they will be there on my arrival & cost nothing to send.

[Page 218]

Tuesday 21 August 1917

Went for a sail to "AGONY" island or those who are sea sick call it. One of the old Forts that were blown up by the bombardment.

I feel fitter but "short a gallop".

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
I only hope you are not worrying about me. Pick up & leave for the Desert in the morning. Not much of interest in Diary to read out print them daily, but it is all of interest to you little Mother so I keep it going for your sake.

[Page 219]

Wednesday 22 August 1917

Left Alexandria 8 a.m. arrived KANTARA 6 p.m. & travelled all night in company with Details from my Regiment in Egypt, SCOTCH, WELSH, IRISH, FRENCH, British WEST IndiaN etc: New Zealanders & Australians more comfort on the train now that it is fitted with Westinghouse BRAKES etc.

Mrs. Chisholm at Kantara with Miss McPhellamy are still running the Soldiers Club, which is so much appreciated that the G.O.C. has given it official recognition.

[Page 220]

Thursday 23 August 1917

Back again with the Regiment which is on the Beach. Found my Horses looking well & the men enjoying a well earned rest.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Poor Lieut. TIM BLACK of the 6th L.H. was killed last week & we had 1 man & 4 others wounded on RECONNAISSANCE. Nothing to worry about here for several weeks now, so we understand but one never knows one’s luck. PARCELS redirected arrived safely. Please thank JACK FORTH for the Handerchiefs every one is very good. I’ll write John later on.

[Page 221]

Friday 24 August 1917

Enemy "Plane" over as usual but no bombs. The BENDUCK cakes etc. are now being enjoyed with JIM AYRE who is back fit & well. In fact the men look more like NIGGERS than our own folk they are so brown. I shall cable if I get any leave at once. I found my Horses fit & well & all my KIT as I left it.

It is a treat to be on the SAND again & not DUST. My application for 6 wks. leave to England has passed Brigade, but I can hardly believe my luck if it is granted. I will cable you at once.

[Page 222]

Saturday 25 August 1917

[The following sentence crossed through.] My letters are following me. I got the M.O. to sound me, only Bronchial trouble & much better.

We get good potatoes from CYPRUS ISLAND now & fresh Beef so all is well.

We are in sound of the GAZA GUNS but quite safe here & all ranks enjoying the spell. The FIG TREES are all bearing now & PRICKLY Pears. The latter are soaked in water for 2 hours & the spines then rubbed up with a rag, quite good. Love to all.

[Page 223]

Sunday 26 August 1917

The Y.M.C.A. TENT is on the Beach & is a good boon to the men – PIANO, writing material a CINEMA at night & free issue of cocoa at night. Besides selling Biscuits, cakes, etc: I notice H.L.A. is doing a lot in HAY to help the Y.M.C.A., it is a worthy institution.

Went Church but the sound of the waves drowned the Preacher’s voice.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Our Artillery is daily remains the Turk effectives but at least 7% & very large preparations are being made here for our advance out this time. Cavalry will be used for proposed job we hope. No more frontier attack recommended at entrenched TURKS.

[Page 224]

Monday 27 August 1917

Inspected by G.O.C. Horses very poor & eating SAND like in a drought & like the men. They are stale – (LILIES). Desert "Lilies" are in bloom a very pretty white bloom about 3 in. in diameter. A sweet scented bulb & I may be able to post you some.

Am anxiously waiting news re my application for leave & hardly dare expect it will be granted.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
Will go via ITALY & FRANCE if it comes off. 6 weeks I applied for. When the next stunt takes place here, the Turkswould know all about it before hand – Their flying men come over & congratulate ours on any decoration the very next day. HOW DO THEY KNOW??

[Page 225]

Tuesday 28 August 1917

Musketry on the Range:- wherever a Standing Camp is made TARGETS are put up to keep the mens’ "eyes in" & to exercise the new drafts of Reinforcements – which come along from the BASE. Some are Bushmen & some are not.

40 c/s of Comforts from the Aust. Comforts Fund for the Regiment arrived last night. Tinned Fruit Juice, Pickles etc. & some excellent Khaki Shirts for the men. Not the least valuable were the cases for Firewood, which is always a very scarce commodity in this part of the Front. In FRANCE no doubt they have plenty.

[Page 226]

[This page crossed through.]
Wednesday 29 August 1917

An Australasian JUNE arrived & no doubt letters are following. Am afraid many of mine were sunk in the MONGOLIA. On the Range again. I found a Reinforcement who had never loaded or fired a Rifle yet. One of the men took a snapshot of me shooting in a GAS MASK, not easy as a mist covers the eye pieces from breathing.

No news yet re leave. None of the family ever complain about the increased cost of things or servants etc. I know your PENNIES can’t go far these days & you are all doing your BIT.

[Page 227]

Thursday 30 August 1917


Leave Party are back from Port Said. The men were very full up of things going down. Lectured by so many Officers, so many Orders & OUT OF BOUNDS, etc. but they enjoyed their spell. As one of them said, "the sight of one pretty woman driving in a *"GHARRY" was worth the trip & Lectures after so long in the Desert.

Inoculated again for Para TYPHOID, CHOLERA etc. I forget how many this is. Thanks for Grazier with RALPH ANDERSON & JOCK ELLIS notices, poor chaps but sooner go out in a fight than by Disease. This is a healthy spot facing into BIVY. I can see TRAWLERS sweeping mines off GAZA. I am only 100 yards from the Sea.

[Page 228]

Friday 31 August 1917

Bomb practice & Hotchkiss gun Class & GAS DRILL, pity something could not eventuate out of GAS to Kill SCRUB, Prickly Pears & RABBITS.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
I read the new AWU arrived with interest. I & the wife can get a job as married Boundary Riders somewhere I hope "Apres la guerre finis". Tonight BOXING. Brigadier General RYRIE acts as Referee & gives the boys a fair go.

Feel a bit DOPEY from inoculation but a great deal fitter all round for my spell in Hospital.

[Page 229]

Saturday 1 Sept. 1917

Lost a leaf so put in an October one for today.

Such a Treat my mail arrived. JOE, DAY 8/7/17, MOTHER LAURA, WIFE & sprig of "WATTLE" did I ever quote you some lines published in JO’BURG STAR S.A., "The scent of the WATTLE round LICHTENBURG Oh CHRIST my country again".

Sorry for JOE re enlisting but glad in many ways – "Angels can do no more" & must read letters again.

[Page 230]

Sunday 2 Sept. 1917

Leave granted 3 weeks in England – I will cable from Cairo . "Convalescent 6 weeks leave England" it will take 3 travelling. I am so thankful – don’t know boat till I report. I go ITALY & FRANCE so if not torpedoed a splendid trip. I am certainly a very lucky man & will Cable you my arrival in England.

It just happened our Brigade is doing nothing hence I got leave & a lot may happen in 6 weeks. Love to you. I’m saddling up now!!!

[Page 231]

Monday 3 September 1917

Cairo . Personal.
[This page crossed through.]
Here I am again at Continental. Stored KIT at Gezireh – sent Cables to you, Mother & the wife saying "I’m off first boat". Got Circular NOTES from Thos. Cook & Co. for use en route, reported at A.I.F. Headquarters for instructions & PAPERS & now await Orders to report to Embarkation Office, Alexandria - no information is given to anyone, as to when or what boats are to sail. Rang up NOWELL & asked him to dine with me tonight. He’s at ABBASSIA, a suburb in charge of Camel BASE CAMP.

[Page 232]

Tuesday 4 September 1917

No word re boat yet. I would of course like to go to Australia & see you all, but am considered very lucky in getting to England. All today have been interviewing Red + Commissioner & Commandant re getting DOLLY to come back with me to Cairo . Nowell did not turn up but came for breakfast he has a cold, but is better today. I go to see him tomorrow. All my friends want to know "How I worked it to get home".

[Page 233]

Wednesday 5 September 1917

Still HOT in Cairo .

I am quite busy deciding what KIT to take & what to leave behind. The days are Hot here but cold in England I expect.

Had lunch with Nowell at Camel Corps Mess – he is better & goes out to his Regiment tomorrow.

We looked at many old photos of "Carrakoorte" & other places. Nowell gave me photo of 2 young Lion Cubs he is taking took to England from Abyssinia the last time he went HOME.

[Page 234]

Thursday 6 September 1917

Disappointed today again to find no boat available for about a fortnight so cabled Dolly not to expect me till end of month. Meantime we applied to go to a School "Topographical or Senior Cavalry" as I cannot afford to be living here in Cairo at the Continental as many expense is ahead of me in my trip home.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
I am very happy about it all. Will travel light & am leaving a leather KIT Bag at the Continental Hotel here others at Gezireh so if torpedoed you’ll know.

[Page 235]

Friday 7 September 1917

Again to G.H.Q. I may yet get away on Sunday next – but nothing definite.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
Application granted for Dolly to come out so hope all will be well better the Winter in Egypt than at Home.

Am afraid I’m spending a lot of L.S.D. in all this but as we earned it, still I’m not helping at home much. I did think Jack would be paying interest to you all these years. Thank you for looking after Insurance.

[Page 236]

Saturday 8 September 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Still marking time. Nowell had dinner last night with me & he told me he had a Reinforcement to the Camels of a man by name TOM KIDNEY!!! who was educated at the Warrnambool College – that was a few years ago. Was it not Kidney who said he was late for School coz he had to stand "to attention" as the Band played God Save the Queen & so he missed his train!! Mrs. Davis Red X superintendent is sending for me some BASKETS made from NILE REEDS by natives of ASSUAN, do you for Work Baskets etc. if you ever get them.

[Page 237]

Sunday 9 September 1917

Waiting & Hoping. The Turkshave a proverb viz, "Power over the Water hath ALLAH given to the intercessor but over the land to the faithful" – strange people. I lost my book altho’ I turned the Hotel servants upside down for it – "They only said it was the "Will of ALLAH". Went to Church with Nowell. Later on to a Carnival of Flowers & Confetti in some Gardens here a Fete for the French.

We also had our "caricatures" done for 40 P.T. I am posting you mine in a TIN TUBE & hope it arrives safely.

[Page 238]

Monday 10 September 1917

Nowell is staying here for a few days he is better & I’ve seen a good deal of him. He is a philosopher & the Orient has entered his soul a good deal. Have decided to go to Alexandria tomorrow so will post this with some snapshots I have had printed. My last information is NO BOAT for a week. Love to you all, Frank.

[Page 239]

Tuesday 11 September 1917

Arrived 7.30 p.m. Spent the morning with Nowell at the ZOO and posted you my notes and some snap-shots. I hear the Mediteranean is alive with PORPOISES of the TIN FISH variety but am sure my luck will take me over alright.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
I’m a bit scared at the idea of Dolly travelling & would take a job at home if I got the offer.

Anyway I’m having a good holiday now & my only worry is the waste of good L.S.D. Regina Hotel is my new place of abode. It is quite cool here.

[Page 240]

Wednesday 12 September 1917

Daily Telegraph Aug. 23 an English Paper has a good article by Mazzly on the MOSAIC I mentioned we found at Shedal. I shall cut out & post but mention as so many letters are lost these days. The Cotton Crop is ripe again in Egypt & the Mills busy, a regulation is in force limiting the amount grown as the "Fellahin" would grow all cotton & so starve the country of cereals. Found letters from Dolly & Laura up to Aug. 21 – former was very sad at my not getting any leave, my cable had not then been received.

[Page 41]

Thursday 13 September 1917

Still no word of a boat. There are hundreds of officers including 4 Generals waiting for a passage. It is very disappointing still, I must not growl. 12 stone 10½ I weigh now so nothing much wrong. Rumour has it that the 1914 men may get leave to Australia next year. The New Zealanders are getting theirs now. Russian news today again bad, I wonder how much is true. It should be nearly the middle of NOVEMBER before I am back in the firing line & much may happen ere then who knows. My Bronchitis is now CHRONIC & I cannot stand the DUST.

[Page 42]

Friday 14 September 1917

The old ship Aragon our G.H.Q. ship at Gallipoli was recently here – it would be a coincidence if I sailed in her.

Today I & 2 other officers went to Stanley Bay for a swim & in the afternoon to the Yatch Club for tea.

Still no word as to embarking & altho’ I am enjoying the spell I am naturally impatient to be off. This town is of course darkened at night & I had to sign a certificate that I alone would be responsible if a light were shown from my window in Hotel.

[Page 243]

Saturday 15 September 1917

Went to the Races & lost my good gold but had a lot of fun. One gets into a crowd of officers of all Regiments here & must go along with them. Still no word of a boat so one of our Majors have been recalled to his Regiment, we are afraid this may happen to more of us.

As I have told you before the Totalisator & Starting gate are used & most of the horses are grey stallions (Arab).

"Quail" are landing all along the coast & the Natives catch them easily poor beggars being very tired after their fly across the Mediteranean. Too tired to make good shooting.

[Page 244]

Sunday 16 September 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Had a letter from Dolly but none from home yet. Some of the photos I sent Dolly she returned the Censor having put them through a Bath blotting the whole lot. I hope what I send you are not so treated.. Everyone tells me I’m looking very fit again again, anyway I’m having an easy wait but am naturally very impatient at the delay.

Intend going St. Marks Church near Matron Aly’s Club at 10.50 this morning.

[Page 45]

Monday 17 September 1917

Today I spent at the MOUZAM Gardens, & in the Orchid house. Alexandria is having one of their best "seasons", all Greeks etc. have made much money & spend it on clothes etc. - & jewellery. Every Hotel & Pension is full from of people from the interior or far away as the Soudan.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Letter from Dolly today dated Aug. 30th. She did not know I’m on my way home. I was never so impatient at delay & for two pins I’d go into some Camp for duty but a few hours notice is all we get. Am reading Romany Rye & getting a lot of letters written I owe.

[Page 46]

Tuesday 18 September 1917

Am posting you the figure of a Native, drawn by a Cotton Merchant friend of mine, from life. I wish I could send you some for Servants. I am sure poor old Day is weary of House keeping without proper help. She has done her BIT.

The horses here are terrible crocks & are cruelly used. You hear the story of putting a small eel down a horse’s throat to make him lively well all this is down done by the Jelins here & many worse things besides.

[Page 247]

Wednesday 19 September 1917

Now Friday is given as the day we may get a boat. No boy ever looked forward to his Xmas Holidays as keenly as I do to this journey home. I will post this the day I sail - it will be 2 weeks from date my leave was granted – however it is better than the Front line & I’m not a bit keen to return there at present whatever I may be later on. My Bronchitis is chronic & I get bad fits of coughing, a dry climate away from the sea is the one that agrees with me.

[Page 248]

Thursday 20 September 1917

Went to the BOURSE or Cotton Exchange to see Cotton sold not unlike our WOOL SALES. The row that is made in foreign languages. Cotton prices are booming & Egyptian Cotton is the best grown in the world.

Last night a dance was given at the Hotel & I joined in, the foreign girls all dance beautifully, wear nice frocks but a bit overdressed when they undress for a Ball. Usual English dances Waltz, One Step & Fox Trot - men in boots & no gloves.

[Page 249]

Friday 21 September 1917

Still waiting.

Went for a long walk to an old fort built before even the Romans came, I’m not much at Antiquities but these places are of interest. Alexandria is a very old seaport of the Mediteranean. Two boats little one went today but only duty men go in them on duty passengers have to wait.

Yesterday was the Italian National Fete day & Bands etc. occupied the Streets. We went to the KURSAAL & saw TROVADORE by Italians. They are a handsome race of people.

[Page 250]

Saturday 22 September 1917

Very disappointed probably will not get away till next month so post this today.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
All my letters have gone on to England but I should not growl the expense is what annoys me so unwarranted still I do not lose my seniority with the Regiment & many would give much to be in my shoes. Love to all – Frank.

[Page 251]

Saturday 22nd September

Went to Fencing School this morning, all the young Italian & French Bloods go in for it here but never BOX.

I have been made an Hon. member of UNION & Mohammed Aly Clubs & meet a number of people – but this does not get over my impatience.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
Posted notes yesterday but they are only of interest to the family I think. How different this life to that of Clare Station!!!! but I never forget. Went to Races & paid my expenses then on to San Stefano as a guest to dinner & the usual HOTEL dance.

[Page 252]

Sunday 23rd September

[This page crossed through.] Cancelled.
I bought this book some time ago thinking I would not want it but I hope to keep going to the finish now.

Went Y.M.C.A. to Church. The usual ranting Yankee type of preacher these places go in for. I get on well with the native servants here as I address them all as "MOHAMMED". Am reading "The way of an Eagle", E. Dell & trying to forget – but its desperate this waiting. Now I’m told Thursday next – others say Oct. 2. I’ve had to cable again to the little wife explaining delay. No Australian mails for weeks & weeks now.

[Page 253]

Monday 24th September

Went for a long walk to MEX where Napolean landed when he took Alexandria. I had for company an A.I.F. Priest, who talked a lot of the coming Revolution in England!!!! I wonder is he right. [The remainder of the page crossed through.] He also decided that the masses of labourites would insist on peace before another Winter War.

I sleep for 2 hours after lunch & so the day is put thro’ waiting waiting – a great waste of time & money but a good change & but for my Bronchitis I would be A.1.

[Page 254]

Tuesday 25th September

Telephone – affords a lot of amusement when used by the Foreigners in the Hotel – they must gesticulate all the time, & this is difficult with one hand engaged.

Today I’m told I’ll get a boat on Thursday but I do not build on anything till I actually embark. Went to the sporting Club & had Tea etc. The Greek & Italian & French women all dress very daintily but one should not see them eat. No mail from Australia for 6 weeks now.

[Page 255]

Wednesday 26th September

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
If my Bronchitis is no better I shall try & get "boarded" for Australia from England, others are doing it so why should not I. Of course I hardly expect such luck but I don’t want to go back at present. I may feel different after being away another month.

My Papers came today & I’m really off tomorrow, all very secret & no name of boat mentioned. I shall be glad of the chance of seeing something of ITALY. Left Alex Sept. 27 wire Cable on arrival.

[Page 256]

Love to all – it will be a fortnight ere I reach my destination. F.W. Private – 27/9/17

[Page 257]

Friday 28th September

Came aboard yesterday & was given an excellent State room on the old Gallipoli boat "ARAGON" which was G.H.Q.’s ship at LEMNOS. My mate is a man Gunner Major who travelled from England in the ill-fated HUNTSEND last November. We have 200 odd officers & some SISTERS on board. I only paid 6/6 a day, indulgence passage for a first class passage to ? Europe. We don’t know as a matter of fact whether we go to ITALY or MARSEILLE yet – only the Admiralty knows as plenty of TIN FISH about these days. We hope to reach LONDON by Oct. 10th with luck. The little wife will find the days long I’m afraid. Of course we live in life belts once more & are escorted by T.B.D. etc:- quite a flotilla sailed out of Alex. tonight at 5 p.m.

[Page 258]

Saturday 29th September

[The following paragraph crossed through.] I did not hear any good news of [indecipherable] he is a Sergeant in Flying Corps, but drinks far too much & is spending his L.S.D. too [indecipherable] – in Cairo & would be well out of that place.

This boat was on the Argentine run & all the notices for Passengers are printed in Spanish in addition to English.

Calm Sea & every comfort, a destroyer racing along on each side of us & sometimes describing a circle round.

[The following sentence crossed through.] I’m wearing JOE’s a leather waist coat under my Tunic as a "Greve" or Air Waistcoat in place of the clumsy life belt – no one has noticed the difference from an air one & I can swim.

[Page 259]

Sunday 30th September

We go direct to Taranto. I think the journey by rail is a pretty rough one & a gang of International thieves go through your baggage. Some nurses recently lost everything – but that is a condition of active service one gets used to.

Attended Church & then made one of our Officers Submarine Guard as only a few men on board, the duty was too heavy for them. Temperature falling daily. Dear little Mother, if you were only coming to meet Dolly too, but some day soon I hope we will be back in N.S.W.

[Page 260]

Monday 1st October

We travel along a lane like a T.S.R. & should arrive at TARANTO opposite BRINDISI at 5 p.m.

The destroyers who accompany us dodge about in front or on a flank like a good sheep dog working a single sheep. If anything suspicious is seen a cloud of smoke is put around us. Another 5 hours & we will have run the gauntlet successfully. My health has improved so much that my nerves are better than they have been for a long time. We saw one submarine quite plainly on our Starboard bow.

[Page 261]

Tuesday 2nd October 1917

My Wedding day
[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Arrived 5 p.m. last night & hung up, flying "Yellow" Flag only 1 c/- Dysentery on board, but we are not popular at present in this port for various reasons I cannot write of.

The bay is full of shipping Hydro planes Submarines & Battleships. [The remainder of the page crossed through.] The Italians are very frightened we may bring Cholera from Palestine. Even our drinking water on the Steamer is supposed to be Chlorinated, but the Chief Officer always shows the Medical men the engine Tank & thus we escape & the M.O.s are satisfied.

[Page 262]

Wednesday 3rd October 1917

Still flying "Yellow Flag" – one will be like ENOCH ARDEN ere England is reached.

Alongside an ITALIAN Battleship is practising with her big guns – shaking us from stem to stern – a dirigible Balloon spotting for the guns, flies overhead. This is a wonderful harbour the opening no more than a street wide with many storied houses built to waters edge, & the shipping is hidden by the Houses. The days drag on & I’m very hungry to get on our journey. Post this ITALY.

[Page 263]

Thursday 4th October 1917

Still hung up – we expected to get away today, now tomorrow - & it is no use being impatient on active service. The ships come & down go, through the Street as it appears of TARANTO - not unlike the scene in a comic Opera, where a big boat comes on the Stage. Beautiful sunsets & still warm I am glad to say. Did not get off hope to do so tomorrow.

Convoys of French & Italian troops go out each evening escorted by T.B.D.’s of different nations, the men are dressed in the Slate Blue uniforms of the Continent.

No war news. Posted notes from TARANTO.

[Page 264]

Friday 5th October 1917

Still on board, a week today – but we hope to disembark at noon – travelling is not easy in War time & the YELLOW JACK makes it more difficult.

5 miles by Tug to a Rest Camp then we carried our own luggage to the train with rations & water. Got off at 8 p.m. 5 Officers in a compartment. I slept on the floor. All along Adriatic Coast the same foliage as Peninsular viz., Olives, etc. Women on duty at Cross roads & in the fields.

[Page 265]

Saturday 6th October 1917

1,000 One thousand miles by rail through ITALY then another 600 through France (about). We expect to be 8 days on the train, so I will not be in England by the 10th. No tucker is available at any town we pass, but fruit & vegetables in plenty can be seen. We travel very slowly only burn Briquettes & little coal but we are going in the right direction. When we pull up at a Town or Station guards are put all around the train as [indecipherable] riots have occurred at some places.

[Page 266]

Sunday 7th October 1917

The Olives & Vines give way to Wheat & then very pretty hilly country. Spent half today at FERANZE an out of the way old pretty town, cabled Dolly. We found a mineral Bath (thermos) & bought eggs, Chianti, fruit etc. - Cobble stones Cathedrals & Pottery.

Boarded the train at 7.45 p.m. again. All day we passed Castles on the hills & could hear the big guns on the Austrian border. TRAIN fumigated & disinfected here.

[Page 267]

Monday 8th October 1917

Halted at VOGHERA after travelling all night, had a wash & breakfast. It is a great struggle to get any rest as the carriages are full & no sleepers. We get Army Rations issued, but buy CHIANTI, eggs, etc. & a very good sparkling wine SPUMATI which is cheap. 34250 LIRE go to the English pound. At TURIN we halted for 2 hours & went to the town, bought a bird & bottle for tea. The Alps are all around & covered with Snow, a pretty spot – Electric train from here.

[Page 268]

Tuesday 9th October 1917

Changed trains Engines at MODERN on the border after passing through MONT CENIS Tunnel. This tunnel takes half an hour to go through, & the scenery is very good.

Had breakfast at MONT MELIAN with the Alps all around us – cold but interesting. Changed LIRES into Francs – fortunately the Railway is the same guage & we have not to change our carriages.

[Page 269]

Wednesday 10th October 1917

The French are most enthusiastic & friendly not like the south of ITALY. I drank VIVE (a France in Vin Ordinaire with some French Officers at Aix la Bains a pretty spot near a Lake Lac de Bourget - it is autumn here & the foliage is like Macedon. Some Boches were on a platform under guard. Every child woman & man of France between 8 & 80 years of age is working. Arrived St. Germain au Mont d’or on Rhone & stayed the night at Hotel Restaurant du Sport & it was "du Sport".

[Page 270]

Thursday 11th October 1917

On board Train again. Left LYON at 11.30 a.m. All money is paper here even down to 1 Franc piece = 8D or 9D. Each Municipality issues their own War notes. Here we saw a delightful smash along a picturesque canal with tow boats. Still in the train tonight. France is very pretty just now, apple trees loaded with fruit & the Hawthorn hedges red with berries as we travel slowly on out of the way lines. We see the countryside mostly.

[Page 271]

Friday, 12 October 1917

Had breakfast at Le Mans on Station here – passed many American Soldiers in trains – felt hatted & cheerful. Weather very cold now but Joe’s leather waist coat keeps me warm. Changed trains & got out of Italian & French carriages. Arrived CHERBOURG - had a shave & shampoo, ordered lunch but could not remember the French for DUCK but "quack" "quack" did it. Raining & cold. We cross Channel tonight. Wet thro’ as no Cabins or Restaurant on board a Lake Turbine Steamer.

[Page 272]

Saturday 13th October 1917

Arrived Southhampton tonight!!! We did not arrive land too rough & had to put back & tranship from the "Queen Alexandria" to the "Antrim" a bigger boat – all night we were buffeted about, the Channel very rough. We make another attempt tonight. No Cabins last night & no tucker, but I have a cabin tonight & am on shore at Cherbourg now, sitting down to a good dinner. It’s a big undertaking travelling in wartime.

[Page 273]

[12 pages missing here.]

Friday 26th October 1917

Shopped & pd. up Bills of Dollys & danced in Hotel in evening. Fox trots & only 2 one steps & 1 Waltz. I’m not much good at the first – a splendid band & good floor & Dolly is a perfect little dancer, & looks so pretty & such a youngster, you would not think she was married. Raining & snow. We get plenty of Tucker but one has to pay 100 % more for everything & I could not keep up this pace.

[Page 274]

Saturday 27th October 1917

Wrote letters, breakfast in bed every morning. At Midland Hotel, every Room had Telephone alongside bed, Clock illuminated over door & fresh fish kept in a pond to chose as you liked. Luxury if you like. Went St. Annes & saw the Church where we were married. Evening went to the Theatre, rain all day & all night cold as anything.

Getting Dolly to pack gradually. Laura is at [indecipherable]. My cold much better.

[Page 275]

Sunday 28th October 1917

Aldy 12.30 to 1 p.m. 5 St. Faith. I am to ring up.

Today raining again, going Church if possible (nobody does go apparently these days) in evening have seats to hear HORATIO BOTTOMLEY lecture on "What I saw in France". This Hotel is right on the sea & always blowing & squally. Later. Lecture not much good but JOHN BULL as Bottomley is known as says the War will be over by XMAS, I thinks not.

Letters from Australia, Mother JOE Daisy July 15th. Note all your news also a long letter from Mr. ROCHEFORT, please thank him.

[Page 276]

Monday 29th October 1917

Took Dolly to be inoculated again & arranged to leave Blackpool for LONDON. I do not like this place. Dolly is leaving a lot of stuff packed here in Manchester but has sold her share of Books, Furniture, etc. Rang up her Uncle who is also a trustee, & whom I have not yet met. He lives near Manchester & is a rich man – in the Cloth trade by name JOHN METHUEN. Got a wire last night, no berths available for Nov. 4th so may be another fortnight in London.

[Page 277]

Tuesday 30th October 1917

Re Joe’s letter & REVOLVER. I sent a Turkish one with Camel HAIR LEASH attached by Capt. Geo MILLS, a wounded flying man, the same family that had the photo sent you – Sydney DENTISTS out Parramatta way – hope he delivers soon. Lavender may have it.

I will give your letters to Laura.

We leave Blackpool midday today for LONDON & arrive at 8 p.m. or 9, the way the trains run – for breakfast I had Porridge, Kippered Herrings, Sausage & Egg & toast & Tea, so we do not starve.

[Page 278]

Wednesday 31st October 1917

Dolly stayed in bed. I went to Red Cross & took Dolly to see Mrs. Granville for lunch who is also going to Egypt & is our O.C.’s wife. We sail on Monday via HAVRE, MODERNE, TARANTO in ITALY.

Had dinner at Frascatis, Oysters, Steak, Partridge, Sweets, ices etc. so you what rot food restrictions are but you must pay for it. I write this as a Raid is on, special Constables blew whistles & everyone goes to the Cellar or ground floor if possible.

[Page 279]

Thursday 1st November 1917

91 Lord St. between 10 & 12.30 a.m. ask for Lt. Findlay.

Dolly of course did not get any rest as an anti aircraft gun was outside the Hotel. Had lunch at the Carlton with Mrs. Nevil of N. & F. Mulberrygong then called on Col. Murdock Red +. To "Arlette" in the evening with Mrs. Burgess of SHAFTESBURY.

Raids do not affect the pleasure loving public & every theatre was crowded. We were lucky in getting a TAXI home – Dolly smudged Mrs. –

[Page 280]

Friday 2nd November 1917

Breakfast in bed!! & wrote letters – lunched in Regent Street & got Circular Notes for journey. Visited No. 6 Aust. Auxiliary Hospital & Mrs. Crawford a sister of Katies – then Sports Club to write letters.

Rang up MARDI who could not come to tea today, but hope to see her tomorrow.

My Bronchial trouble still worries me but Egypt will do it good – all fog & mist & rain here.

Saw Mardi in evening, as pretty as ever.

[Page 281]

Saturday 3rd November 1917

Troc. 4 p.m.
Club 1 p.m. lunch, Troc. 4 p.m. Cottons ask for John Egan’s address & buy whisky. Met Cottons, all wished to be remembered to you. Letters from Mother, Day, Joe, Australasian Hay Grazier. Two each dated Aug. 19th, Aug. 26th, glad to hear alls well. Took baggage to Waterloo this morning raining as usual.

Went to a pretty Japanese play called WILLOW REEL. Dolly enjoys Theatres. No word from Laura yet, she is at WALSALL & I am afraid we will miss her.

[Page 282]

Sunday 4th November 1917

Busy packing & Major !!! Prince of Millawa called to see me.

Had afternoon tea with Cottons yesterday.

We leave London tomorrow so post this with love to you all.

Hope to go to St. Pauls this afternoon.

Love from Dolly.

[Page 283]

Monday 5th November 1917

Posted notes yesterday & left London at 4 p.m. for Southampton. Did not leave London & am likely to be blocked for several days. Laura arrived & had dinner with us so I at least saw her but am anxious to get away now that all arrangements are made.

Cold pretty rotten still so a few days won’t be amiss here, Australasians arrived safely.

[Page 284]

Tuesday 6th November 1917

Went War Office re passage ITALY, nothing doing & I may be several days in England yet.

Laura had lunch with Dorothy. We went to bed early & I had another bad night.

Forgot to acknowledge 2 letters from May, the usual want of time to write & hurry her life is made up of, but please thank her when you write.

[Page 285]

Wednesday 7th November 1917

Went Red X office & A.I.F. Headquarters, it will take "wangling" to travel with Dolly as I am booked to leave on the 14 inst. with a draft.

Lunched at Australian Club, Piccadilly, quite a nice place. Aldy Isherwood & wife are to arrive tonight at Berners Hotel where we are staying.

Slept well I’m glad to say.

Capt. ISHERWOOD is a year older than Dolly & has a very pretty wife who I met in Egypt.

[Page 286]

Thursday 8th November 1917

Went Bank & then Red X: nothing definite yet re going, bad news still from Italy – still good news of GAZA this morning a fight I have missed & I’m not sorry.

Capt. ISHERWOOD & his wife arrived from Norwich, the former is a little man, the wife big, we went to Trocadero for Dinner & on to see "General Post" at the Haymarket.

Had Laura to afternoon tea to meet the Isherwoods.

[Page 287]

Friday 8th November 1917

Today I took the Isherwoods to the Australian Club for Lunch & afterwards to the Australia House in the Strand & saw the Lord Mayors Procession, had afternoon tea with the High Commissioner, Andy Fisher!!! in the evening dinner at the Carlton & went to see CHU CHIN CHOW.

It worries me spending all this money but it cannot be helped at present.

Good news from GAZA in the Papers but ITALY!!!!

[Page 288]

Saturday 10 November 1917

This morning went shopping with Aldy to GAMAGES a great Store for TOYS etc:- Had lunch at "Frascatis" & then saw them off home again to NORFOLK. Laura rings up, she is to go into a Private Hospital on Tuesday for some minor operation, nothing serious though she says.

Cold better but the days are very bitter. I may try & see the Droys next week if I don’t go away.

[Page 289]

Sunday 11th November 1917

Lunch Laura at 1.30 at her Flat – she is always on the go somewhere & so never fattens. Dr. JAGGER sends her for an operation on Tuesday Tonsils to be cut, & she goes to a nursing home for a week, more expense for her. I read Day’s letter of September & glad to hear alls well at home & you have been to Wangaratta. Can you tell me if that LOCOMOTIVE toy of Joe’s is at Bronte. Laura & I were talking about it today.

[Page 290]

Monday 12th November 1917

See Mrs. Wilkins after reporting A.I.F. 10 a.m. Another week to wait & we sail together on a boat straight from London Docks on or about --- so I shall be with the little wife.

Posting this to let you know my movements. Love to all, F.

[Page 291]

Tuesday 13th November 1917

Posted notes yesterday – telling you I’m here till 19th. Laura comes at 2.30 to see us, & goes Hospital tonight.

Brace is coming to see her & she says Connie is ill too but Laura is a bit of a Hypochondriac if that spells it correctly.

Foggy morning my cold better & the wife very fit. A luxurious life at present.

In Palestine several of my friends have been killed.

[Page 292]

Wednesday 14th November 1917

Capt. Brace came round to Berners Hotel & told us Laura was O.K. I went Waterloo & shifted Baggage to P. & O. & then entertained 3 of Dollys friends at the Australian Club, not my pleasure but theirs, am glad to see our men are doing so well in Palestine & feel I should be there. Here the Restaurants & Theatres are always crowded with a pleasure loving well-dressed crowd, even on air-raid nights.

[Page 293]

Thursday 15th November 1917

Kelman dinner
Took seats for Dolly & self at Royal for Billeted.

Had lunch at the Club & took rest of luggage to P. & O. Office.

Laura doing well & she has lots of friends who have taken her Flowers & Fruit. We all hope she will be stronger after this.

Foggy days & nights now.

Have read your letter of 23/9/17 to Laura & also one of Aunt Lowes. I hope you will go to Melbourne at Xmas again.

[Page 294]

Friday 16th November 1917

"Boy" at the Adelphi tonight.

Went early to Laura’s Hospital & took her some Carnations – 6 Pink, 6 White – cost 5/-!!!, give you an idea of value here.

Laura could talk but her throat was sore. Met Brace & young Charlie at Liverpool Railway Station & went theatre tonight with Dolly – as you must think am not saving much L.S.D.

[Page 295]

Saturday 17th November 1917

Red X wife – watch at Porter & Smith.

Found I had to pay 55/-/- passage money self & wife!!! I anticipated the Red X would pay her fare.

Then visited Laura at the Hospital, she is getting on well. I saw a good deal of young Charlie yesterday, we had lunch together & he is a bonny boy & I think will look after his Mother. Brace is in London but I don’t see much of him.

[Page 296]

Sunday 18th November 1917

Went & saw Laura who is getting on well. Then I went & had lunch with the Cottons, the wife going to some friends Capt. Riddles. Laura will be up tomorrow, she gave me your letter of Sept. 9th & JOES, a long interesting letter of Home news. We are off tomorrow so post this.

With love from both to you dear little Mother.

We go by all sea route – P. & O. from Tilbury Docks Tomorrow.

[Page 297]

Monday 19th November 1917

Embarked at noon S.S. "Malta" at last. Very careful inspection of PASSPORTS etc:- Went down the Thames & anchored – for night. Not a big ship, & only 8 other women on board. "Dolly" wears her Red X Brassard.

Boat drill etc., we are at the Doctor’s Table for meals.

All luggage safe on board, thank goodness! I believe we have several hundred barrels of gunpowder also so we should have a good lift if hit.

[Page 298]

Tuesday 20th November 1917

Moved on to DEAL & anchored there.

Passed a big lineR with stern blown in & being driven by TUGS.

We have at our table a Capt. HURLEY who has been twice to the Pole, & has been on the French salient photographing & is now en route to Palestine.

Cold & foggy.

The tucker is good & no restrictions like in England. All the Stewards are Indians & we have passengers for ports as far as Japan.

[Page 299]

Wednesday 21st November 1917

Anchored off Portland or Weymouth since early morning – the same spot the HOS: ship S.S. "LETITIA: anchored 1 year ago – she is now down in Halifax - [indecipherable]. We have passengers for Mesopotamia, Bombay, China, Colombo & Port Said – 7 women all told mostly nurses.

Got a Paper today & I see our men are close to Jerusalem.

Well I’m out of it for the present anyway.

[Page 300]

Thursday 22nd November 1917

During the night we came on to PLYMOUTH. Our skipper tells us we passed 2 subs!! but too dark to see us – so alls well.

Posted letters to Laura & Mrs. ISH.

The "camouflage"? on the boats is most quaint. With glasses the banding of paint put on in curves shows better than straight lines. Ships painters have certainly been allowed full play to their imagination. Our crew are a cross of Portugese & Indian & the Stewards excellent fellows.

[Page 301]

Friday 23rd November 1917

Still anchored at PLYMOUTH, cold but safe, we got some papers & heard of the success of BYNG’s push near St. QUENTIN & our men at Jerusalem. Passengers thawing a little, beginning to speak to each other. At my table is an American Engineer with a terrific drawl & a Mining Engineer & I spoke of the POLAR man before so we talk on all subjects. But no REUTER news. The P. & O. are too mean to subscribe & altho’ we have wireless no news is posted on SALOON.

[Page 302]

Saturday 24th November 1917

Moved out at 10 a.m. in a Convoy with 20 others & escorted by destroyers.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Fairly rough & the little Lady is not so happy as usual - & is in bed. Mother I hope you have had my letters from Alexandria – my next will be from Cairo – D.V.

Passed the Eddystone Light House quite closely, could see people on the turret. We go I believe a long way out of our course but the longest way round is the shortest way home.

[Page 303]

Sunday 25th November 1917

Too rough for any one to know it is Sunday.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
I was ill for the first time in many years, the result of attending the wife, who hopes the boat will be torpedoed etc:- As a matter of fact one of the Convoy nearly ran us down in the afternoon, we could almost step on board each other, through careless steering.

Moon is quite good now, but we hope we are miles from any subs.

[Page 304]

Monday 26th November 1917

Calmer & wife happy & we are now moving a bit south – to a warmer climate I hope. This is an old boat 27 years & a lucky one so we hope for the best though our loading is all ammunition, so if we are hit, up goes the balloon.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
The little wife is better but the world has been very black the last few days. I hope my bad writing will sicken the Censor when he gets as far as this.

[Page 305]

Tuesday 27th November 1917

Skipper says good news came through on the Marconi last night, he will not say "what" so must wait patiently till Malta is reached.

Clear fine day & a calm sea once more. Do you remember me telling you of my voyage this time last year when we were nearly wrecked off the USHANT ROCKS.

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
Our Convoy now numbers 14, & more boats will leave us tomorrow – I write more than is good for others than you Mother to read.

[Page 306]

Wednesday 28th November 1917

Colder this morning – but we should feel thankful to be afloat & also well. I had a hateful nightmare last night. I had let my squadron down in a retirement & I felt all the horror of the bullets around me & I rode away – am I really a cur I wonder – or is it only liver thro’ over eating. 10 days at sea now & only off Portugal. We have men on board who have been torpedoed several times, & their nerves are not of the best. When will it all end I wonder.

[Page 307]

Thursday 29th November 1917

I hope these notes will be read by you Mother & no one else but our Captain has been drunk for the past 2 days & was also at Plymouth & Weymouth, it is bad enough travelling under normal conditions but now a man wants all the brains the Almighty ever gave him. The Doctor is of the same type but keeps out of the way, the P. & O. of the old days would not stand this sort of thing. Bright sunshine & warmer.

[Page 308]

Friday 30 November 1917

Word has been passed back from our escort that a sunken wreck is not far off & nine submarines!!! I dreamt last night I heard the crash of a Torpedo & ran out into the passage but as all was quiet I went back to bed not before I had the disturbed the wife. She does not know anything about our daily fears & worries & I take good care goings does not reach her.

Carters little Liver Pills may stop the dreams.

[Page 309]

Saturday 1 December 1917

Saw 2 whales this morning & these would make a good camouflage for subs. I got the wife up at 4.45 a.m. as we are now in the midst of the vermin, just outside GIBRALTAR. Other escorts have joined including a U.S.A. T.B.D.. It is not a good thing to stay long in the BATH & other places of convenience with the door locked.

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
I have just been yarning to an Italian Officer he blames his Government for sending the TURIN rioters to the one front, where they fraternized with the enemy & sold ITALY a PUP.

[Page 310]

Sunday 2 December 1917

Our American friend showed us his FOB this morning & his wonderful watch. The fob was made of Human Skin. Church Service in the Saloon by the ubiquitis Y.M.C.A. As each day passes & nothing happens one is thankful – one of the Nurses on board wanted to know if we did get through all right would the Insurance Coy. give her back the money she paid on her luggage as premium.

I enclose my last WILL, please acknowledge when writing.

[Page 311]

Monday 3 December 1917

This is an old ship built 22 years ago & RATS & ANTS are plentiful now that the warmer weather is here. Many of the P. & O. are in use as Hospital boats, Despatch Boats & some are armed as auxiliary cruisers.

About 4 p.m. we got a S.O.S. wireless from a submarined boat north of us, but we did not alter our course as the Navy attend to that. Rough again & the little wife did not sleep.

[Page 312]

Tuesday 4 December 1917

Last night at dinner we bumped into something & everyone stood up – it may have been wreckage. This morning at 4 a.m. we got S.O.S. again from a boat in our rear, which had been torpedoed but we seem to be protected too well by our escort. It is moonlight at 4 a.m. Only about 4% of sinkings occur in the dark. Calmer & warmer. I’ve written Laura & a few others but no use posting to you till we arrive Egypt, will post others Malta.

[Page 313]

Wednesday 5 December 1917

Another S.O.S. message came from our rear last night about 5 miles away, our BAR Steward is very nervous as he has been torpedoed twice in PERSIA & MOOLTAN. We arrived however in Malta at 6 p.m. after going 96 miles past & then circling back again – so tonight Dolly & I we came ashore & had dinner, but the Hotel tucker is not as good as on the boat. The Papers I want to read.

[Page 314]

Thursday 6 December 1917

Spent today on Malta. Dolly bought 2/10/- worth of Handmade Lace. We visited the Cathedral of St. John a beautiful place & after went to the Palace where the Knights of St. John lived. I took tickets for the Opera TOSCA & returned tired out. It is no use trying to save any pennies so Boomly Busted & Co. A Torpedoe is on view here that did not explode rather interesting under the circumstances to us.

[Page 315]

Friday 7 December 1917

Still at Malta & remaining till Saturday. We had trouble in getting here & it looks as hard to get away. The Egyptians some years ago had a small NAVY & they set out for Malta but could not find it!!! returning to Alexandria they said, Malta "mafish" which is gypsy for means "finish". Visited the Church of Bones 2500 Skulls & bones of the ancient defenders of Malta are arranged in Tiers in a vault, gruesome!!

[The remainder of the page crossed through.]
More lace today so the wife should be busy in Cairo with sewing. We have our meals ashore as Dolly likes to get away from the Steamer.

[Page 316]

Saturday 8 December 1917

Malta still. We visited the underground vaults of grain & forage 7 years supply as Malta has little good soil in fact years ago every ship had to buy a certain amount of soil as Harbour dues.

Then we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral in the old Capital 8 miles by rail. Cette Vecchia or NOTABILE or MEDINA according to the Arab reign or Spain. The Paintings & Marble Statuary etc. is beyond anything I have ever seen. Not least interesting was one of the Silver Crosses of the Crusaders brought from Jerusalem.

Outside the Children were making the Malta lace, with PINS & wooden bobbins, a quaint country of BELLS, SMELLS, & YELLS. Many Churches & much cruelty to animals. Went Opera again Rigoletto.

[Page 317]

Sunday 9 December 1917

[The following paragraph crossed through.]
Posted notes yesterday at Malta & cabled Laura we had got this far safely – still at Malta. Ask JOE to post me a small tin of LIGMOline, I still have the rash – at intervals.

We are waiting for a convoy to escort us as a large boat was struck this morning from British W. India. Wife & I We went for a long tram ride to see an old submarine on the shore near here. A 3 Card man tried to get me to play on the top of the tram, but I am not a tenderfoot.

[Page 318]

Monday 10 December 1917

Malta still, I don’t mind as we are able to see so much of interest here.

Four of us went to a "Maltese" Hotel & had a Fish & Spaghetti dinner. Malta is a cheap place to live in. Cold & rough weather, we are glad to be going to Egypt & wish Laura would come. Parties have been digging up Flint arrow heads among the Tombs, Phoenicians, Greeks, ROMANS, ARABS, all had their day. I wonder if this is England’s swan song.

[Page 319]

Tuesday 11 December 1917

Malta just heard that Jerusalem has been taken am sorry I was not there but perhaps it is just as well. The real reason why we are delayed is "subs" outside. However at 4 p.m. we left with our usual escort after a week at Malta.

Last night a British W. Indies Boat was wrecked by the gale & 30 lives lost – it is a game of hide & seek to get away from Malta but we dodged the subs by going all round.

[Page 320]

Wednesday 12 December 1917

Calm & smooth, only 2 steamers in convoy we are never lonely with small escort – my 3 weeks leave in England has run into a long space. RATS are plentiful & the Goanese get a bonus for all they kill each day. Goanese are really Portugese settled on an island near India. As soldiers they are not worth much altho’ our allies.

[Page 321]

Thursday 13 December 1917

Did practice shooting with our 6" gun astern & also Howitzers at floating branches it is a novelty for P. & O. passengers. Start to pack up tomorrow, I’m rather tired of this wandering & living in "bags", expect I’ll turn up at home some day.

About 12 passengers get off at Port Said some for Soudan & other parts.

[Page 322]

Friday 14 December 1917

[This page crossed through]
Expect to get to Port Said tomorrow at noon, so busy packing – just heard a great argument about Miss ASQUITH moving to London & Lord HALDANE subscribing to German prisoners fund, while the nation asks for War Bonds.

The wife is worrying at the prospect of being alone in Cairo but she will be in luxury – at HELIOPOLIS HOUSE HOTEL, is her address.

[Page 323]

Saturday 15 December 1917

Arrived Port Said & caught train for Cairo arriving Heliopolis Hotel midnight, Dolly knocked out, but safe & all luggage safe too. Cabled England & Australia safe arrival also wired Regiment, Mrs. Davis a friend waited up to see Dolly & sent Hotel car all very kind. Much Regimental news – many killed & many decorated a certain amount of regret missing it all.

[Page 324]

Sunday 16 December 1917

Reported Head Quarters & got KIT, Cuth Fetherstonhough has the D.S.O.!!! I met his wife. May get a job as O.C. 1st L.H. Training Regiment at Moascar but nothing certain yet. Went Hospitals & saw all the wounded & got news. My Sergt. Major has been killed. I brought a watch from England for him, & many other good men. I feel going back after missing all the recent fighting, D.S.O.s & M.C.s have been won while I was away.

[Page 325]

Monday 17 December 1917

[This page crossed through.]
Arranged Dolly’s affairs & she remains for present at Heliopolis House, Heliopolis, may come to Ismalia later on. My Diary now will only be of interest to the family – if I am not in the front line. The Moral of all ranks has improved tremendously with the success of the advance on Jerusalem. I have not got any mail yet, but it will be with the Regt. address as before & I will get it stopped if remaining here.

[Page 326]

Tuesday 18 December 1917

Arrived Moascar & took over command 1st L.H. Training Regiment. May stop here a bit but await instructions from Division, very cold at night now but bright fresh sunny days. [The remainder of the page crossed through.] Col. McLeish Remount Depot is just behind me & I called on him, he sent regards to JOE. Please send MAY some of the snap shots of Dolly I sent last letter, I have no other photos here but will send as soon as I get one.

[Page 327]

Wednesday 19 December 1917

Received 62 letters, none missing dating from July to Nov. I sorted them out into proper sequence & read them like a book. Also got Pocket Book from Joe. Heaps of Papers came along also, many thanks for them. Jim Ayre is well but Bob RONALD badly wounded again & many others you will see in the Casualty Lists in Papers. I feel ashamed at having asked you to mention my return to old Sam.

[Page 328]

Thursday 20 December 1917

A draft went to Joppa today but no orders for me & I shall be content to do my 3 months in charge here. Dolly’s Hospital will be within sight & Ismalia where she will live is only 1 mile away. Note all your news, & hope you got letters from England. Will look out for PARCELS mentioned. Went Ismalia for lunch & interviewed British Red + & arranged Flat for Dolly also saw C.O. of Hospital & had a hot bath at the French Club.

[Page 329]

Friday 21 December 1917

Col. McLeish is writing to General Lee to get job for JOE in L.H. as now I feel he will not be content unless he comes.

PARCEL arrived containing SOKS, Bed Socks, Soap, Toffees, Shortbread – all very acceptable, the best soap always is COAL TAR Wrights by preference. BANJO Patterson is in camp adjoining me - & many men & Officers I have known for years.

[Page 330]

Saturday 22 December 1917

Dined at adjoining MESS & in afternoon rode into Ismalia , the men here will have a good Xmas Turkey, Fruit, & a bottle of Beer per man, sports on Boxing day. I spent one Xmas day returning from Gallipoli one Xmas day at El Arish & this one I hope in comfort here.

Reinforcements have just marched in a lot of Boys, chiefly, all pass through this Training Requirement, & do Musketry etc:- the Cadre are changed every 3 months so if I get it I won’t mind.

[Page 331]

Sunday 23 December 1917

Letter from MAY dated 5/11/17 & addressed Captain Weir. I’ve been a MAJOR for a year now – she asks Charlie TYSON’S rank it is Captain & M.C. Another lot of Parcels arrived tonight viz. Camphor ICE, Shortbread PLUM PUDDING Butterscotch & Cream in one & in the other from Home I found MITS, SOKS, Muffler, Butter Scotch, Cough drops, Sardines Toffee etc:- so I am well supplied & just for Xmas too thank you all so much for the work you do in packing & thinking & buying these things. Went Church.

[Page 332]

Monday 24 December 1917

The gods are good to me. I’ve got leave to spend Xmas Day with my little wife & am off back to Cairo tonight, returning on the 26th early. Have engaged rooms for Dolly in Ismalia , as feel pretty certain of things now. Attended Lecture on Machine Guns use in Palestine, but as a sand storm was blowing could not hear much. The troops PORK was sent here dead & has been lying half covered in sand on the Railway line since morning. Q.M.s fault of course.

[Page 333]

Tuesday 25 December 1917

I spent the day with my little wife & had lunch at Continental Hotel. Could not get Permit for Dolly to go Ismalia & I got a wire on arrival in Cairo to rejoin my Regiment so goodbye to dreams of Moascar Base for a while, but I am quite happy about it as feel I’ve had a long holiday – so get on board the train tonight at 6 p.m. & have my dinner on a Troop train – Dolly stays at Heliopolis for a bit now.

[Page 334]

Wednesday 26 December 1917

Camped night at Moascar & took charge of Draft of 300 men for the front. I am glad in a way to get into the firing line as I feel I’ve been away too long – Conscience easier.

Many men make Xmas just an excuse for getting drunk. I may get the job at Moascar later on meantime Dolly will work at No. 14 A.G.H. Posting this love to all. I’ve not wished anyone a Merry Xmas, it seems a farce.

[Page 335]

Thursday 27 December 1917

BACK at Moascar owing to Railway line being washed away by rain have to wait another few days & could have been with my little wife all this time. Having dinner with Col. McLeish tonight in his MESS. Did I mention seeing STANLEY BRAIM he has improved a lot & is now a Cadet in the Flying Corps & may get his commission, he is not drinking now. Letter from Laura & redirected one from May, please I did not get photo of Jack & Douglas & I am a Major not a Captain now for a year.

[Page 336]

Friday 28 December 1917

No use May sending me Photo here better keep it – I have no good one of Dolly at present, later I’ll send one, meantime you might spare a snap shot of Dolly for her – I see May talks of the Family growing Custard APPLES!!! in Q’land. I have no faith in these things in competition with Chinamen.

On a Court Martial tomorrow still waiting for Railway clearance. Beautiful weather but cold at night.


Saturday 29 December 1917

President of Court Martial usual thing Drunk & stoning the Military Police. Still no word of train. My KIT all packed up & standing by for Palestine. This Camp trains been in every branch of the service - & is a good refresher, but I am a Soldier now.

Mail arrived from Australia, MOTHER/DAISY Nov. 11 & Nov. 18 & one from Mrs. Angus Robertson, good of her to write. Loud Cheers just got leave to go to Cairo again tonight & see the wife returning tomorrow.

[Page 338]

Sunday 30 December 1917

Spent the Day with Dolly & returned by 6 o’clock train a 3 hours run to Moascar expect to get away tomorrow.

Took Dolly to Continental for Dinner, she has been to 3 or 4 dances since she came, & girls are very acceptable – so far English people here. Peace proposals are in the air & I really think the end is not so far off as some may think.

[Page 339]

Monday 31 December 1917

Inspected by Lt. General Chauvel our old Brigadier this morning. I go so soon as the Railway is available to take me, so will see Jerusalem very soon I hope now.

Current topic of conversation is the failure of Conscription. This may let JOE get away but I do hope he won’t throw up his job. We all remember the anxiety before he got it & it is more secure than ever a Station Manager’s.

[Page 340]

[This page crossed through.]

leave - 2-12 p.m.
Moascar – 5
From Ismalia 6.15 a.m.
fast 10-7 (best)
5654 Report
A.P.M. arrival by telephone.

[Page 341]

[Not transcribed]

[Transcriber’s notes:
Abasan el Kebir – misspelt as Abasan Kebir, Abassan Kebir
Abu Sitta – misspelt as Abussitta
Beersheba – misspelt as Bersheba
Bulawayo – misspelt as Buluwayo
El Burg – possibly El Burj
El Gamli – also know as Gamli
El Shellal – sometimes spelt as Shellal
Gallipoli – misspelt as Galipoli
Khan Yunis – misspelt as Khan Yunas, Khan Yunus
Kut – possibly Kut el Amara
Magdhaba - misspelt as Maghdabad, Maghaba, Magdaba, Magdahasa
Mazar – sometimes spelt as Mazaar
Moascar – misspelt as Moasca
Sheikh Zowaiid – misspelt as Sheik Zowabin or Sheik Zowaid
Wadi el Ghuzze – misspelt as Wadi Guzzi
Spumati – possibly Spumante

L.H. – Light Horse
N.Z.M.R. – New Zealand Mounted Rifles
B.H.Q. – Brigade Headquarters
R.T.O. – Railway Transport Officer
D.H.Q. – Divisional Headquarters
G.O.C. – General Officer Commanding
T.B.D. – Torpedo-Boat Destroyer
T.S.R. – Torpedo Spotter Reconnaissance
O.C. – Officer Commanding
A.G.H. – Australian General Hospital

Khamsin – a hot violent wind in the desert
Wadi sometimes spelt Wady]

[Transcribed by Judy Gimbert for the State Library of New South Wales]