Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Frank Valentine Weir letter diary, 1 January - 5 April 1919
MLMSS 1024/3/Item 5

[Transcriber’s note: This is the fifth diary of Major Frank Valentine Weir of the 1st Light Horse Regiment. The diary, beginning on New Year’s Day 1919, describes his duties in the Sinai Peninsula and his various visits to Cairo, where his wife and baby daughter are staying prior to leaving to live in Australia. As in his other diaries, his entries are written as letters home to his mother and family. During this time he is organising the return of his troops to Australia and is also writing the war history of his Regiment. He embarked at Kantara on the S.S. Ulimaroa on 13 March 1919 for his return to Australia. At the same time, his wife, Dolly, sailed on the Derbyshire. The diary concludes on 5 April 1919 just before his arrival home. He was discharged on 21 June 1919.]

[Page 1]

Wednesday, Jany. 1st 1919
New Years Day in the Field again. I am on duty as Field Officer. We have several football matches going & Mrs. Chisholm’s Tea!!! Buffet is coming. All ranks had 2 bottles Beer per man.
Nowell did not go to France but on the Western front here Sollum – it was my mistake – Cath Fetherston-hough are taking the wife to dinner today. I am so glad as the wee girl would have been alone. Damn General Cox for turning down my leave is my very bad wish on the New Year but it was inconsiderate & cruel.
Love to all at home
Your son.

[Page 2]

Thursday, 2 January 1919
Posted notes yesterday. New Year passed all right after all, a good deal more talk than anything else. Officers Mess Tent was cut down last month & a drunken Corporal tried to get men to raid it. We drill over the old Rafa Battlefield but it is hard to recognize country again. Big engine shed, Water Towers & a [indecipherable] Beersheba Railway came in on the old line of Trenches. We have had the wooden crosses repainted & an officer & men have gone to Gallipoli to do the same thing there. Frank Chase & Trooper in 6th L.H. came over for a year last night. His brother Lyle died of pneumonia.

[Page 3]

Friday, 3 January 1919
President of 3 Field General Court Martials today. Went into figures of 1st L.H. Regt. & find the following –

Casualties, not sickness
Officers – Other ranks
46 – 636

not counting twice, wounded. These figures are larger than any other Australian Unit yet many people think the L.H. have done little or no fighting.

See next page.

General Allenby’s words were printed in big white letters –

"I was proud of you once. I am proud of you no longer." This was the end of this speech after the Bedouin affair.

[Page 4]

Saturday 4 January 1919
Dolly’s Birthday
We have Divisional Sports today to try & occupy the men but they are hard to please these days.
Had nice letter from Dolly’s brother, a Captain in R.F.A. I will send it to you later on.
Three nurses from Gaza Hospital came to Mess last tonight after the Sports, our illuminations on the table consisted of Slush Lampas candles are unprocurable & only Pint Pots to drink out of but they I hope knew active Service Conditions – Fancy Dress. Prize went to a Trooper dressed like an old B’dary Rider plus soldier’s equipment, all torn & bended on a very thin horse. Round the Horse’s neck was hung a placard on which

[Page 5]

Sunday 5 January 1919
Raining today. Most of the Padres have gone home, so Y.M.C.A. carries on the work, they provided the Prize money for yesterday’s sports, about 200/-/-. We have started Polo Club but I feel too old to enter much. Never again will we be young men. Will women make allowances for what has happened to us. I feel so old with Dolly sometimes who is a kiddy in her ways & thoughts. A big Handley Page aeroplane flew over our Camp on its way to India. I took photos in Cairo of one of these machines.

[Page 6]

Monday 6 January 1919
Letter from Joe posted at Honolulu, he will be home long since. Just been yarning with an Officer from Beiyrut, he tells me the distress is very great up there among the civil population – Children picking up grain out of horse manure in the streets to eat!!
Divisional Field Officer today, ramps are being built at the railway so men are evidently not marching further than this. 7 horses are sent by train.

[Page 7]

Tuesday 7 January 1919
Beautiful weather now, but all ranks are chafing at the delay in getting away, no fresh rumours.
Please order for me to await arrival from Peapes, Sydney, a suit of mufti – chose Homespun Australian Tweed of grey material – tell them to hold till I arrive to try on as there will be a rush for civil clothes. They have my measure & beyond the Tummy might have altered I am little different.

[Page 8]

Wednesday 8 January 1919
Had a game of polo today reminding me of holidays I spent at Coomete how many years ago?? Tomorrow is anniversary of our fight here 2 years ago. One of our best performances & purely Light Horse – work.
Dolly writes all is well with her & the Babe. She would like to go home before Australia but I want to see you first. Very stiff after Polo, if I was a rich man I would love to go in for it.

[Page 9]

Thursday 9 January 1919
Went Belah to get evidence from a man in Hospital. We had a Ford Car & ran along the netting road which was put down over 2 years ago & is still in good order. By netting road I mean laid flat on the sand.
We are just on the Boundary of Sinia & Palestine & altho’ sleeping on the ground it is softer than the black soil, but more lice. We have a delousing parade tomorrow using Boilers captured from the Turks.

[Page 10]

Friday 10 January 1919
Field Gen. Court Martial continued today. I hate being President of these things but it has to be ‘did’.
Strong rumours we sail in a month, I hope so, also hear a mail is in from Australia but no letters yet.
Mrs. Chisholm’s Soldiers home has arrived from Kantara so it does not look as tho’ we were going there. I still think we may be on board a Boat in a month’s time.
Dolly & the Babe are both well & happy but no leave is granted to any Anzac Officer owing to the Bedouin affair.

[Page 11]

Saturday 11 January 1919
Brigadier Gen. Cox inspected us today, he played to the gallery as usual, often at the expense of the officers – visits to the "Two Up" School etc. This is of course outre.
Very windy & dusty & last night very cold.
Went for a hunt with the Rafa Hounds some English Officers have here. About 15 went out & we ran 2 Foxes & a Jackal. We are now getting up a Race Meeting for the men, anything to keep them occupied & happy if possible.
No news only waiting.
With love to you all
Your fond son

[Page 12]

Sunday 12 January 1919
Our Y.M.C.A. Church Service, Padres all gone home. Rained hard but I am in a Bell tent. Posted you my Diary today. Letters from Australia delivered just after posting diary – 2 from Mother Nov. 10th and Nov. 24th with Diary printed.
Dolly likes to get them sent on to her. Also 2 letters from May & 1 from Lorna. Papers no doubt will follow.
Played Bridge last night with some Gunners.
I find you & Day & May had all influenza & only hope no ill effects. We are a good constitutioned family. I could never have come into what we have done had it been otherwise & thanks to your early care of we children.

[Page 13]

Monday 13 January 1919
Squadron drill & building Cookhouses – out of mud. 100 more Horses shot today, no one wants them when they are old & their eyes have grown hollow. Wood is very scarce & we are now issued with a cotton oil seed cap & fine coal neither very serviceable. At Neby Musa near Jordan there is a shale depos. that burns very well when once lighted but the powers that be do not appear to realize it.

[Page 14]

Tuesday 14 January 1919
Squadron went to Beach for a bathe, too cold for me as I have a touch of bronchitis again.
Geo. Smith now a Capt. in R.E.s, France wrote congratulating me on my D.S.O. & saying he was going back to H.L.A.
President of another Field General Court Martial. I get a lot of this sort of work & do not like it. Prefer now the war is over not to print anything I write now not worth it but nice for my own books of scraps & to interest you in my daily life.

[Page 15]

Wednesday 15 January 1919
Nice & warm again. We can see Trawlers sweeping for mines on the coast & I dreamt last night we were embarking from the Beach here – a la Gallipoli but for home.
My job of writing War History of the Regiment means a good deal of extra work – if I had my old Diary I could do it well but it has to be done at once.
One has no conveniences cramped in a Tent & other calls on my time.

[Page 16]

Thursday 16 January 1919
Rain again last night but the sand absorbs it.
Dolly now writes she thinks she would like to sail next month for Australia – will cable you when she does & hope it won’t be too hot in Deniliquin for her in March. Nothing definite re myself but I have hopes of being home by then. Not much chance of our sailing together.
Played a game of Polo yesterday, am not much good but like it very much.

[Page 17]

Friday 17 January 1919
Censors have ceased work. I think it a pity. This is a sample of what comes in.
"We are polishing irons & bits, & doing ceremonial work, practising for a visit from the King or Prince of Wales. What do we want him for, he’s not been fighting & is only a man – if the officers aren’t careful there will be a riot etc. etc."
The rations have been reduced 10% since Armistice & coming back to area of Canteen etc., but the men growl a lot & we hope to get the 10% on again soon.

[Page 18]

Saturday 18 January 1919
F.G.C.M. [Field General Court Martial] again today & a game of Polo in the afternoon. I’m not much good, always been too poor to indulge in much sport. I’ve done a lot of hard work in my brilliant!!! career.
On a Board of Inquiry tonight as to shortage of Bags & emergency rations – the former are always short & we Squadron leaders have to pay 2/- each for them. The latter are eaten by the men & are also charged to Squadron leaders at 1/6 each rations so we have a good many calls on our pay.

[Page 19]

Sunday 19 January 1919
Went Beersheba to see the graves of our men & get crosses erected – it was interesting seeing all the Shellal country again. I noticed the mosaic was reproduced in the Australasian lately.
A man named Miller from Mathoura came into my Tent & wanted to know how to become a "Stock Inspector"!! He said he knew Joe & had been a drover!!
There are 20 1st L.H. buried in cemetery among young Gum Trees & 4 miles out among 38 of the 4th & 12th & where my old Sergeant Major lies Paddy Lenehan.

[Page 20]

Monday 20 January 1919
The Military Governor came in his car around the Battlefield & promised to look after the graves. He said the Bedouins were paying their taxes, & altho’ a few burnt our crosses they were not digging up our dead as at first.
The Railway joined up the old Turkish line running from Gaza to Beersheba. The latter town is not large, usual Mosque, Hospital, etc. The Turks’ schools seldom have roofs on them, more a sort of courtyard.
The driver of our train was just off to England & being his last trip he "let her out" till I expected another accident.

[Page 21]

Tuesday 21 January 1919
Post today & enclose snap shots of Babe, hope to go on leave in a weeks time. I get very homesick at times, it seems such a waste of time out here, when a man’s youth is gone.
Love to you all.
Bronchitis better but still not too fit, hope no permanent effects from Influenza you all had.
Joe will be settled down again & thankful to be in his own bed I expect.

[Page 22]

Wednesday 22 January 1919
We have an officer on the Peninsular attending to Anzac graves, some have been violated by Turks.
Rumoured Gallipoli men are to wear the Mons ribbon so it means another one for me. The word "Digger" applied to Australian soldiers is NOT correct here & was never heard 12 mos. ago, more common in France I believe. Letter from Mother & Day Nov. 17. You will have many from me ere this, a long time coming over 2 months! You need not fear about "Dolly", she is such a sweet disposition, I am sure will be happy at Bronte. It all depends when she arrives, but may be with you ere these notes reach you.

[Page 23]

Thursday 23 January 1919
The Two Up School keeps me awake till midnight each night. I gave my Batman a £1 for pourboire and he won £33/-/- in one night, some other poor devil lost! Very cold & Bronchitis bad. Trying to write up History of Regt. but with Drill Orders & interruptions it is an impossible task. We are supposed to give men Technical Training for after-war life. The Lectures are a farce given by Amateurs who are very nervous & the men feel it is sort of "Trying it on the dog" business as no one else would listen.

[Page 24]

Friday 24 January 1919
Got as far as the Regt. reaching Egypt in my History, but records are poor to work on.
Attended a Lecture on the problems of the East in the Y.M.C.A. but too cold for comfort.
Here at Rafa is a large ammunition dump & at different hours loud explosions take place in destroying quantities of Turkish ammunitions. Great numbers of arms of all sorts have been thrown into the Mediteranean. More Australian mail in. Mother & Day December 1st with Diary & cutting, many thanks. Hope Joe has arrived safely long before this.

[Page 25]

Saturday 25 January 1919
Just got a letter from Debrett, England, asking for particulars as to education, birth, etc. etc. for insertion in re D.S.O.
Jim Ayre has a job in Cairo, he sent me some Australian letters he had got – best rumour that Neilson Mills is going to marry Mrs. Ainslie!! This from Frank Chase who came into my Brig. for a yarn.
Cold better, may get leave to Cairo tomorrow, this does me good.
3 Australasians arrived together, many thanks for sending same – also local paper.

[Page 26]

Sunday 26 January 1919
Divisional Field Officer today. C.O., N.Z.M.R. objected to being inspected!!
Heard report of Anzac garrison. Trenches there still in good order, olive trees grown again, Xs & Headstones removed but graves not violated, in fact Turks had fenced some in. Few identity Discs found in no man’s land & a good many had trophies found in among the bones. Most of the officers got up to Constantinople & were well received as Americans!!! The French garrisoning Gallipoli were most hospitable & I understand the Australians have left a good name behind them.
Got leave, off tonight!

[Page 27]

Monday 27 January 1919
Arrived midday & found the wife & Babe well. I am afraid the latter is rather spoilt by so much attention, but she is such a healthy strong youngster. I enclose some more snaps but legs rather out of focus.
Warmer here. Best news is the Regt. sails 1st week in March, so we will be home by end of March. Dolly will come with me if possible, if not she will sail end of February & arrive about the same time, but will cable you. Love from us all & hoping to see you soon in the old home. Your loving son Frank.

[Page 28]

Tuesday 28 January 1919
Went Shepherds for dinner, took seats at Opera for Jim Ayre, Dolly & self Thursday night.
Arranging as well as possible for Dolly to go end of February. 1st L.H. go 1st week in March so will be on the water I hope when this reaches you.
The Babe grows visibly each week & is very fit.
Have been appointed Assistant Judge & Steward for Anzac Divisional Gymkana & take up a case of "Cups" on Sunday.

[Page 29]

Wednesday 29 January 1919
Lovely warm weather, it is a treat after Rafa & my Bronchitis is much better. Cairo suits me & I would not mind living there, only very expensive!

[Page 30]

Thursday 30 January 1919
Took Dolly to No. 14 to have teeth attended to, going opera tonight.
It costs lest attention by Military Dentist than these yellow xbreds called Dentists in Cairo.

[Page 31]

Friday 31 January 1919
Dentist with Dolly.

[Page 32]

Saturday 1 February 1919
Heliopolis Races & dinner at Shepherds Hotel, give you an idea of cost – 3 of us had dinner which cost 4/-/- extravagance – which I cannot afford & do not enjoy – really but as a Senior Officer must show up at these functions sometimes.

[Page 33]

Sunday 2 February 1919
Left Cairo, nine inches of rain had fallen in 6 hours equal to 4½ years average which is about 2½ inches. In consequence Train line was flooded & the Motors charge 2/-/- to get in from Heliopolis.
Had to bring a case of Silver Cups for sports so had to get on early. Padre Colonel on board inclined to be rough on Australians. I replied that after what we had been thro’ we were certainly inclined to damn comfortable Christianity as represented by him. He was making his first trip to the Holy Land yet 3 years in Cairo.

[Page 34]

Monday 3 February 1919
Field Officer on arrival. Just read a letter from a Colonel’s wife re experience on the transport to Colonels. Saloon had a fancy dress dinner & in the middle of it a bucket of slops was dropped down the skylight & a hose was put through one of the port holes & half drowned some of the passengers, nice!!!
Letter from Mother & Day Dec. 8th – you had just received my first cable saying I was coming end of January. Papers also arrived, many thanks.
The foregoing rather strengthens the Padre’s opinion, eh?

[Page 35]

Tuesday 4 February 1919
Usual Parades & Football in afternoon. Drafts left for Kantara getting very drunk before leaving which is considered to be the correct thing – by all ranks. We all find something to growl about & hardly appreciate the war being over!! till we thinks.

[Page 36]

Wednesday 5 February 1919
N.Z.M.R. Brigade Races, busy writing diary. Cold little better. Letter from Laura thinking I was in Australia.
Lost money at Races but even so life here is cheaper than Cairo & if the men do gamble better to keep them employed than hankering after the Flesh pots of Egypt & breaking away.

[Page 37]

Thursday 6 February 1919
Major Irwin our C.O. promoted Lt. Col. vice Granville to England.
Heavy sandstorm preceded rain – Y.M.C.A. blown down. Busy writing Regimental History & arranging try-outs for Gymkhana. Cold nights & my cold bad.
Just got word cannot travel with wife & Regt. sails about 21st Feby. – but still nothing definite - & wife may be allowed to sail with me.
Love to all.

[Page 38]

Friday 7 February 1919
Posted notes yesterday, just heard we go in about 3 weeks which is good – but I do not build too much on rumours there.
The Authorities are pandering to popular tastes in providing a surfeit of football, racing, boxing, etc. Few realize the strenuous times ahead & one often hears the men growl, "What has the war done for me, etc. etc." I get very disgusted at the heroes!!!
Any written here for you Mother to burn after.
Love from son.

[Page 39]

Saturday 8 February 1919
Gen. Cox replies to my application to travel with my wife – "NO". This officer "is required to look after his Squadron!!!", so that blows out that.
Divisional sports again dismounted – a surfeit of demands for prize money from Officers who supply the windfall for all this sport.
Am afraid poor old Day will find this hard to read but it is not laziness on my part – stationery too hard to get & to carry & I am so used to my Diary I "carry on".

[Page 40]

Sunday 9 February 1919
My throat & cold is bad & my hair is falling out. I don’t know whether from worry or what, but I am still fat & should be thankful. We are on the winning side.
Had photo taken by official photographer yesterday for Records. John Ayre who is on a job at A.I.F. Hd. Qts. now wants to come home with the Regt. I am applying for him. He sent me letters from Miss Ellie Stewart, Mrs. H.L.A., Percy Smith & others with all the Hay news. Sorry the fires have been so bad.

[Page 41]

Monday 10 February 1919
Disinfecting saddlery & classing horses out to be shot & skinned tomorrow.
Letter from Daisy, December 15 – sorry poor little Mother not been too well – of course I will telegraph from Western Australia my movements.
Joe will be home by this. I hope he escaped the flu. Dear old Day has been very good in writing so often & so much.
Jim Ayre may come. Nowell has no intention but I have not seen or heard of him for a long time.
We have no Padre only a drunken priest at present.

[Page 42]

Tuesday 11 February 1919
If you engage a Cook even at 2/-/- a week I will pay all extra expense at Bronte. I do not wish to be an expense or to make work for Day.
Am glad you sent May some clothes for Jack. I expect I shall be too stout for many to fit. What a lot I will have to tell you. I hope to get a decent billet for a home for Dolly & my Babe. 7 weeks & I should be home dear old Mother & Day, I do look forward to it.
Cold better, throat bad. Filled in form for every man re Demobilisation, his previous work, pay, etc.

[Page 43]

Wednesday 12 February 1919
Divisional Field Officer. Whole topic of conversation among the men is "What they will say to the Officers in 6 weeks time – far worse than ever it was after S. Africa, simply a kind of "Bolshie" business.
Gertie, a little cob I was riding, was shot this morning among 100 others – being over 8 yrs.
Anonymous letters to Officers as to what will be published in the Papers "when the Regt. gets home". Officers have been allowed to buy their saddles, the men NOT. That is another source of imaginary grievance.

[Page 44]

Thursday 13 February 1919
Stirrup leather
Measles have broken out & quarantine commenced. After all we may not go for a while – all very uncertain.
[indecipherable] a polo match, 1st Brigade v 2nd Brigade – 2nd Brigade won 3 goals to 1.

[Page 45]

Friday 14 February 1919
41 today & feel every year of it – but I’ve not altogether wasted my life.
Cold better but so many men being in one Camp, not too healthy.
Nothing new re sailing – may go end of this month. Dolly will not be with me, but another boat. Sorry but can’t be helped. Love to all, your son.

[Page 46]

Saturday 15 February 1919
Well the Gymkhana is over, one works hard to amuse the men &l; get little encouragement.
We have a Stadium. Owing to my cold, I am in bed but I can hear the Referee being hooted & the lovely flow of language – am afraid that Soldiers on their return will not be much of a "brake" on Bolshevism – our old men are back by this or gone west & we have many youngsters who have not been through the Test.
Hear that Bertie Austin was actually at 2nd L.H. Hd. Quarters yesterday but did not see him.
Will call if I go Cairo.

[Page 47]

Sunday 16 February 1919
Khamsin blowing. R.C. service in Y.M.C.A. We have a Priest of sorts attached to the Regt.
Busy trying to carry on War History but I have only done one year so far. Hope to finish on the Boat. Leave not sanctioned until Brigade returns from Cairo. He, Gen. C- is no friend of mine like old J.B. Meredith was.

[Page 48]

Monday 17 February 1919
Last night we trucked the remainder of our horses to the Remount Depot, Moascar. O.C.s Squadron keeping one horse only.
Wet & cold & I cannot shake my cold off.
Polo team in Cairo doing well, winning all before them, against the pick of the English players & the pick of all the Ponies in Egypt.
Stilling living in uncertainty in regards to embarking but I do think the end of the month will see us away.

[Page 49]

Tuesday 18 February 1919
Divisional Field Officer again & also C.O. of Regiment as all the Senior Officers are away. Busy disinfecting saddlery & Horse blankets, the former by dipping in Creosote, the latter by heat in the delouseing Boilers.
The first thing I want done when we get to Bronte is to christen our Babe, her name is Registered in Cairo & Somerset House, London as Kathleen Dorothy but she has not been sprinkled with the Jordan water yet!!!

[Page 50]

Wednesday 19 February 1919
Heard a peculiar lecturer today – a Black Jew, born in Dahdmen near Timbuctoo, educated in Glasgow, with a Scotch accent. Claimed to belong to the lost tribe of Simeon? practised Polygamy, wore no clothes, till he ran away & got on a Tramp Steamer at the Gold Coast, fluent, dramatic, & amusing, held his audience spellbound. Not sure he was all he said, but C.O. Jewish Battalion guaranteed him. West who married Brice Fiddle has got his commission.
The Division has bought a fishing boat & nets & carted to sea, idea fish for the men – some wag has branded the boat ANZACS, last hope for home.

[Page 51]

Thursday 20 February 1915
Col. Fulton told us the following that Colombo was now closed to all troops as the Infantry had stolen or broken 3000/-/- worth of jewellery, English in fact all country Sailors are on strike & it is indeffinite when we go home, but I will cable.
It is not known for certain whether the Troopship will go strait to Sydney or if we disembark in Melbourne & go by Train – No boat for Dolly yet. I hope to be in Melbourne first to meet her & so save anyone else the trouble & expense.

[Page 52]

Friday 21 February 1919
Hand in Rifles today also Bandoliers & Bells – the men will march on board with their kit-bag & sea kit bag, the latter being pillow cases. All Blankets water bottles & Haversacks left behind.
Presentation of Race Cups at 2nd L.H.B. Hd. Qrs. Mess last night. I went but could not stand the smoke & foul air with Bronchitis, so got out early.
Australian Mail - Mother, Jany. 5th with Diary Notes & from Joe. Hope our Ambulance people don’t see what I say re Revolver etc. Will get an anonymous letter from driver I expect. Glad Joe got home safely & alls well. Yes, I’ll be glad to hear of a decent job in Riverina if possible.

[Page 53]

Saturday 22 February 1919
Daisy’s letter Dec. 29. Sorry Egyptian officials mutilated Cable & I printed it, remaining – note re Katandra – St. Ives do well, but I hope to meet myself now if only 1 night will go Scotts. Mother’s letter Dec. 22, also letter from Pearce of Pastoralists Review, he said old R.B. Wilkinson still going strong. Very glad Joe is safely home & well – we will have a lot to talk about.

[Page 54]

Sunday 23 February 1919
I have enquired into the chances of a good job over here but the British high commands have all got their sons & relatives to provide for – like everywhere else without influence a man can do no good – 1st essential speak Arabic.

[Page 55]

Monday 24 February 1919
Gen. Chauvel inspected the Division & said the usual things – but still here & the latest definite news is we sail on March 18 or 19 – that means arriving Australia end of April. The wife goes in the first good boat available next month.
I was Divisional Field Officer – cold much better now that the warm weather is here.
Dolly & child are well, love to all. Your son, F.W.

[Page 56]

Tuesday 25 February 1919
Khamsin blowing hard – our men have nothing left of equipment & the drill is now ABC Infantry – like my Diary rather uninteresting, but one has to listen to a "Talker" and a man need not & read. Lectures are also given by poor Amateur lecturers, the men cursing all the time – it is a great waste of time for every one. One Officer who has been drunk for 3 weeks is detailed to give a lecture to N.C.Os. on the duty!!! of N.C.Os. in the field. Can you not imagine the Bolshie feelings of those men.

[Page 57]

Wednesday 26 February 1919
Khamsin still blowing – letter from Mother Jany. 19th, note Melbourne address & all news. Cannot be home till end of April now.
Busy writing the History of the Regiment, if I had my own Diary it would have been a great help. Tonight a Variety Show was given by Concert Party in Y.M.C.A., no accommodation alotted for Officers & when a few from Hd. Qrs. tried to see they were "counted out". Shows again the Bolshie spirit. One dare not leave a shirt out to dry but it is stolen.

[Page 58]

Thursday 27 February 1919
Khamsin still blowing – everything smothered in Dust like a Darling Shower, in a Tent, water becomes mud, food sand etc.
I am the Lecturer today. May the men listen & curse in silence – topic Court Martial procedure. Heard old Sam Sir Samuel McC. had gone west. I wonder if true – somebody will come in for many millions. Sorry to hear Hunter Landale gone.

[Page 59]

Friday 28 February 1919
Khamsin over & a better day, rode to Beach to see our fishing party who have a mud boat & nett at 275 pt. a day. So far the catch has not justified the expense. It seldom does in the Army, no one works.

[Page 60]

Saturday 1 March 1919
Still Rafa.
Still hoping for leave to Cairo, the wife is tired of waiting & the suspense of not knowing what she is to do. Don’t forget Sinclair.

[Page 61]

Sunday 2 March 1919
Actually travelling to Cairo in charge of Anzac leave Party & to remain one week & buy comforts for voyage & write up War History – left kit at Kantara – could not sent a Civil telegram so sent an Army one as follows, "Stralis Cairo, arriving Sunday midnight advise other Unit," meaning Dolly.
Found all well & child grown.

[Page 62]

Monday 3 March 1919
Busy Cairo, lunched with Dolly at Shepheards. Sorry Mr. Austin had gone back, never saw either, am sorry. Tired after journey & rushing around, nothing definite re going Australia yet, but hope to remain with Dolly till I do sail. Arranged Jim Ayre to leave his job & come with me home on same boat.

[Page 63]

Tuesday 4 March 1919
Had Jim Ayre out to dinner - & had a good yarn, he is a great old scandal monger & loves a yarn. It will be news to you but of course strictly confidential, Dolly thinks she may be having another Babe in 8 months time – so am keen to get settled, but we hope it may not be so yet.
Dolly has a big appetite compared to any of our family & eats as much as I do. Of course she is nursing her Babe herself & she is 7 months & gets no artificial food of any sort.

[Page 64]

Wednesday 5 March 1919
Busy buying games – Concertina, Banjo, Picolo, Tucker etc. for voyage. Very cold & wet for a wonder in Cairo – Dolly & Babe well.
Had lunch at Shepheards with former costs 150 pt. equal to £1:10:- for a meal!! I bought bought ½ lb. ham for Dolly, it costs 8/-s, eight shillings a pound!!!
While on Tucker, will you get a ham cooked at Jagos also fowls & ducks say twice a week when you want them cold & leave the bill for me, if Dolly goes first. I don’t want Joe to go to any expense for her in any way & as she now thinks another Babe is coming – naturally the Mother must eat more.

[Page 65]

Thursday 6 March 1919
Latest is Dolly goes on the 14th Mch. for certain on the Euripides or Derbyshire, both fast good boats so I will cable when she sails name of Boat & probable date of arrival Melbourne. It will be a load off my shoulders when she is safe on board with her Kiddy.
Love to all,
All’s well.

[Page 66]

Friday 7 March 1919
Busy at A.I.F. & Cooks etc. re Dolly’s passage, going by Derbyshire on Mch. 12. I think I will go Suez with her. Do not say to her re another Babe till I get home. Had lunch at Turf Club & went to Polo in afternoon. The Regt. goes in Ulimaroa about same time, pretty rotten Husband & Wife not being allowed to travel together. The wife is quite ready after a night’s rest to go strait on home to Deniliquin. I do hope Joe will meet her if he can. I will have to go on to Sydney with my Regiment.

[Page 67]

Saturday 8 March 1919
In town arranging Permits to travel, money matters, etc. As I told you, have sent Dolly’s money to Commonwealth Savings Bank, Melbourne, with specimen signature so she can draw on arrival. With her I am sending the following kit,

1 New Steel Uniform Box 4" x 2"
1 old ditto
1 Wooden Box about 4½" x 2½"
1 Big leather Trunk
2 Black Tin Trunks
1 Gladstone Bag
1 Brown leather Trunk 4½ x 2½
1 Hat Box
1 Suit Case
1 Dressing Case
1 Cradle

The first 3 mine.

[Page 68]

Sunday 9 March 1919
I am sending about 400/-/- to open an a/c with Commonwealth Savings Bank, Deniliquin. 100/-/- is Dollys but she has her a/c in Melbourne. I shall draw on above. You might get a statement from Gov. Savings Bank of N.S.W., Deniliquin for me as to how much I have there, please. I enclose the Military Telegram I sent Dolly. Other Unit was understood by the A.I.F. Hd. Qtrs. Busy packing. Dolly will not want to go to any Theatres or anything just a rest & then to Bronte.

[Page 69]

Monday 10 March 1919
Cabled you as follows, Dolly embarks Derbyshire fourteenth, I follow with Regiment in the Ulimaroa.
Alls well,

[Page 70]

Tuesday11 March 1919
Port Said
As Smallpox broke out at Villa Montrose, I had to get Dolly, Babe & self vacinated. Further difficulties arose owing to riots. The leading Nationalists were deported to Malta so the Natives broke windows & cracked a few soldiers on the head, broke Trams up etc., paralizing Business. I had difficulty in getting a car thro’ the crowds at the Station, 2 Natives were shot. Then all Baggage that I had sent Suez I had to get back to Port Said by Passenger train - I have taken now on board S.S. Ulimaroa to relieve Dolly. All my purchases were hung up & travelling is terrifically hard work, no one should attempt to travel for 1 year.

[Page 71]

Wednesday 12 March 1919
Embarked men at Kantara & sailed at 3 p.m.
Arrived at Port Said with wife last night – had a big job to get accommodation. Hired a launch & visited the Ulimaroa & arranged for Stores etc. to be loaded, also an increase in the meat ration from 13 ozs. to 20 ozs.
Returning to Hotel & stayed the night but we had little sleep owing to 3 drunken Officers singing next door till early morning.
Went by train to Kantara.

[Page 72]

Thursday 13 March 1919
S.S. Ulimaroa
Embarked men at Kantara & sailed at 3 p.m., leaving the wife behind at Port Said to come on in Derbyshire. I leave her luggage with me or most of it.
Weather Hot & boat crowded altho’ we have 6 Red X nurses on board, my wife was not allowed to come. The 2 Regts. 1st & 2nd are on Board with Gen. Cox as O.C. Transport. 52 Officers & 1032 or. ranks on a boat built to carry about 400 passengers. However, everyone is glad to say Goodbye to Egypt. I got all my Stores safely into the hold & find I share a Cabin with 2 other Majors. Of course as Gen. Cox is here we have a Band!!!

[Page 73]

Friday 14 March 1919
Red Sea
All ranks settling down, anchored off Suez to take in Water & then pushed on.
The Tucker is good & the men are given all the Deck space there is. I opened a Library & issued canvas shoes to all ranks.
The men have been issued with 200 Packs of Cards, draughts, Punching Balls, Boxing Gloves & literature, & only have the general inspection once a day.

[Page 74]

Saturday 15 March 1919
Red Sea
Today all ranks were put through a Steamer to disinfect for influenza, already 12 men are in Hospital with malarial relapses.
Very hot and I am wondering how my little wife is getting on about 2 days behind in the Derbyshire.
We should reach Sydney on the 16th April, it is doubtful if the boat calls at Melbourne.
Vaccination beginning to tell so I must have needed it.
My job on the Boat is to look after comforts & to finish the War Diary, I have 2 years to do yet.

[Page 75]

Sunday 16 March 1919
Red Sea
Church Service & Concert at night. Spent an hour in the hold so feel a bit seasick.

[Page 76]

Monday 17 March 1919
Red Sea
Boat drill & education classes but as the latter are voluntary, the average soldier thinks he has learnt enough.
Fresh Breeze & cooler. We get up at 0530 & have half an hour physical jerks. It is a treat to eat good meat again -all N.Z. frozen mutton & Beef as the Ulimaroa was last there.

[Page 77]

Tuesday 18 March 1919
Put all ranks through Steam Disinfector again. Busy writing History of the Regiment.
Of course I pay all Joe’s expenses if he comes to meet Dolly.

[Page 78]

Wednesday 19 March 1919
Usual work for me, Sweets, Tobacco, Cigs. issued to the men – we average about 300 miles daily.
A week at sea tonight & each day nearer home.

[Page 79]

Thursday 20 March 1919
Calm & uneventful.

[Page 80]

Friday 21 March 1919
Usual Physical exercises & busy on Diary. The Tucker is very good & all ranks are as contented as they could ever be.

[Page 81]

Saturday 22 March 1919
Very hot.
Sent Dolly a wireless to say alls well & that the S.S. Ulimaroa would be in Colombo on Tuesday & received a reply in an hour’s time saying all was well & that the Derbyshire would also reach Colombo that day, her ship is about 190 miles behind.

[Page 82]

Sunday 23 March 1919
My job takes me down the forward Hole each morning getting Stores etc. & then I am kept busy on the Regt. History so missed church. The men have a free run all over the ship & pasted some doggerel in the Saloon about many of the Officers, generally insulting to all except to Brig.-Gen. Cox, C.B., D.S.O., C.M.G., etc., who plays to the democracy at the expense of his Officers.

[Page 83]

Monday 24 March 1919
This boat is a good one but like all Transports very dirty & the Stewards most independent lot.

[Page 84]

Tuesday 25 March 1919
Arrived Colombo about 7 p.m. & found the Derbyshire got in at 3. Asked permission to visit wife & was refused by Brig. Gen. Cox, only a cable length between the ships. Later permission was granted for all ranks to go ashore next day so at 2 a.m. I slipped away having received a helio message that Dolly had gone ashore & was at the Galle Face Hotel. She was surprised to find me tapping at her door so early. I had difficulty in getting a boat but found plenty of rickshaws at the wharf.

[Page 85]

Wednesday 26 March 1919
One of the best Hotels in the world I think. We took Rickshaw & did some shopping in Colombo, both Dolly & the Babe looked wonderfully well. I put them on board the Derbyshire at 5 p.m. & returned to Ulimaroa. The former boat left the harbour, some 4 hours ahead of our board & as our Firemen are drunk not much chance of keeping up. I am glad to say Capt. McLean is on the Derbyshire & is very good to the little wife.
Bought 50/-/- Bananas, Pineapples & Oranges for the men & 15000 cheer.

[Page 86]

Thursday 27 March 1919
At sea
Got a rotten cold & still very hot – most of the men behaved themselves, tonight someone threw an onion at some Senior Officers playing cards & one generally gets bombarded on the troop deck. Anzac heroes!!! When the National Anthem is played only a very few take any notice of it.

[Page 87]

Friday 28 March 1919
At Sea
Still hot, no sign of Derbyshire. Gen. Cox talked about putting me under arrest for visiting my wife but I chanced it & if he had no court martial would have found me guilty – as the A.I.F. especially into that Husbands & wives should see & look after the women. Today a kit inspection was ordered but the men simply struck & would not.
Then tonight we cross the line & the men ran free all over the boat & although I had a cold Jerry Weir had to go thro’ the bath – dragging men officers out of their cabins etc.

[Page 88]

Saturday 29 March 1919
Crossed the line
Issued free Mineral Water, Matches, Cigars & tinned Fruit but one feels no pleasure in trying to make the trip pleasurable.
Cold very bad – I think the fans were too strong in all the shops, hotels. I want a spell in dry Riverina.
Had difficulty in persuading Dolly not to buy another hat, it is a mania & fancy choosing a hat in a hole & corner place like Colombo!

[Page 89]

Sunday 30 March 1919
Still very hot & cold too bad to go to Church parade. Jim Ayre & I do War history each day – & hope to finish by Freemantle.

[Page 90]

Monday 31 March 1919
The Derbyshire is now 200 miles ahead so doubt if I will see the little wife in Freemantle but she will telegraph approximate date of arrival.

[Page 91]

Tuesday 1 April 1919
Was out at 0330 this morning being April Fools, Reveille blew at that hour.
Sea a good deal rougher.
Hope you can read this – we now get in to Freemantle by midday Monday 7th Mch., so will soon be home now, Mother dear.
All my love.

[Page 92]

Wednesday 2 April 1919
Did I mention that Bevy Liddles ex husband W. West is on this boat & has now his commission. I was about the only one who knew his career & kept quiet about it. Cold better & Diary nearly finished. Wireless came today saying calling at Albany, Sydney & Adelaide so I will be a week later than Dolly. I hope some one meets her alright.

[Page 93]

Thursday 3 April 1919
As Major Franklin of the 2nd L.H. who was put on shore at Colombo developed Smallpox all the ship have now to be vaccinated. Just thankful I was done before sailing.

[Page 94]

Friday 4 April 1919
Cold better & Diary finished.
Only doing small rate as coal is bad but hope to arrive at Albany on Tuesday.
Later. We are not going Albany but to Freemantle. I shall wire for a room to Lavender & Scotts Hotel as being Easter they may all be crowded. I think I have a good chance of getting off at Melbourne now & the Derbyshire will only be a day & a half ahead of me.

[Page 95]

Saturday 5 April 1919
I do hope Joe can meet Dolly in case I do go on to Sydney – if I do go Sydney will send Dolly’s luggage by Permanent Weight & direct to D’quin & if Dolly does not wait but goes home with Joe, send a wire to C/- Wilkinson & Lavender, Sydney, then I would not go Melbourne.
Love, Frank.

[Transcriber's notes:
Beirut – misspelt as Beiyrut – Page 6
Mediterranean – misspelt as Mediteranean – Page 24
Neby Musa – sometimes spelt Nebi Musa – Page 13
Sinai – misspelt as Sinia – Page 9
Pourboire – drink money – Page 23
N.Z.M.R. – possibly New Zealand Mounted Rifles – Page 26
R.E. – Royal Engineers – Page 14
R.F.A. – Royal Field Artillery – Page 4]

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