Capt. Colvin Algie
Thanks to Elizabeth Bayliss, grand daughter of Colvin Algie, who generously provided this digital copy of his diary. The original can be found in the Turnbull Library, Wellington.
Capt Algie's diary
Wednesday 23rd September 1914
Our last day in camp and rather a poor finish to our six weeks' stay at Epsom. The rain fell off and on all day and the embarkation proved a bit of a discomfort. It was unfortunate for the men that they should have had to go aboard more or less wet. Our send-off from Auckland was a very good one but to those of us who remembered the same functions at the time of the South African war there did not seem to be the same wild state of enthusiasm. Perhaps the size of the force and its being spread over such a wide area made the difference as there was no doubt that many families are represented by us. There was a much more business-like air about everything too. The public were considered very little on this occasion, the troops being marched aboard and kept there without the presence of any but a few civilians. It was perhaps a good thing for many of us that we were spared the painful business of leavetaking. Everything was business and there was little time left for thoughts of what we are leaving behind us. It has been a memorable day for all that and when it was over we were all a pretty tired crowd. There were very few left about the decks after tea was over. The vessel pulled out while we were at tea and anchored in the stream all night. We had a great time fixing up the messing arrangements of all the men. The mess room is not quite big enough to accommodate all hands so that two relays have to be made. The present arrangement is that two companies go at a time and the two first for one day are the last for the next day. The tables are packed to their full capacity and will be rather uncomfortable when we get into the tropics. We left the wharf about 6.00 p.m. just after our other troopship the "Star of India" (No. 8) had come to anchor and so commenced our first night aboard.
Thursday 24th September
Our thoughts this morning were none too happy as we gazed at the city through the misty rain. The prospect of spending a wet day aboard with the city so near and yet so far was not a pleasant one. About 9 however we were relieved and somewhat excited to notice that the "Philomel" was backing out into the stream too, thus indicating that something was going to happen to us. Very soon she and reached a point ahead of the "Star of India" while we were astern and we all got underway. Our long journey had commenced at last. Very few people were about at the time we left and our farewells were thus somewhat tame. The rain did not improve matters. A good north-Easter was blowing and on our rounding North Head began to be felt. Things did not look too good for those making their first sea-trip and for the indifferent sailor among us. It has been a beautiful day since we passed Tiri and the sight of the two vessels ahead a rather good one. When we pick up the other ones in a few days we should present a fine spectacle. There was much speculation as to our route from North Head but we were soon aware of one fact when we passed Tiri - we were not , as rumoured, going to Wellington. The colonel informed us at lunch that we were in more or less great danger for a few days until we picked up our full convoy and as a consequence great care was to be taken in regard to lights. No lights are allowed on deck and before we officers can open our cabin doors we must first turn off the light. All ports are closed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. We are now sailing along in darkness and although the "Star" is only 600 or 700 yards ahead and it is moonlight no sign of her can be seen. The Admiralty grey is a fine colour for its purpose. We are to be abreast of North Cape about 3 a.m. and then in what direction our course lies we do not yet know. The cruiser is making very heavy weather of it and likewise the "Star." Our ship is a fine sea boat and so far is not in any way inconveniencing me. There were many absentees from mess tonight, however. The O.C. of the Haurakis is down at present and only three of us appeared at the table - the others altho' not sick, considering discretion to be the better part of valour. I feel personally that I am gong to have a good voyage. We have a Frenchman on board as an interpreter who speaks 5 languages. Our colonel in command of the ship has qualified in German and then we have a Russian Artillery officer. So you see we are a somewhat cosmopolitan crowd. The whole day has been somewhat rough and most of us were in bed early. About 9 p.m. we received a message to turn back with all speed to Auckland and many were the conjectures as to the reason when we heard the news. There were naturally all kinds of rumours but none of us could learn with certainty the real reason.
Friday 25th September
This morning early we were inside Tiri again with Rangitoto in sight. Most of the men were unaware of our having turned and could hardly believe their eyes when they recognised the landmarks. So far we have not yet learned the real reason but have now formed a good idea why we turned.
Saturday 10th October
After spending just two weeks on the vessel in port and drilling ashore we were put aboard once more this afternoon preparatory to finally sailing. The final embarkation was much different to the previous one as by this time we were quite familiar with our quarters. There was still some confusion though, caused by the fact that some change had taken place in the personnel of the ship's party. The 3rd and 11th M.R. had been transferred to the "Star" and in their places we have now got the Engineers, A.S.C., Divisional Signallers and the 4th Mounteds. Our ship is not now quite so full as previously - the complement being 46 officers, 1393 men and 500 horses. It is quite enough though. Colonel Plugge is now O.C. troopship No. 12 in place of Colonel Mackesy who has gone on the "Star."
Sunday 11th October
We were all astir at the usual hour this morning as we were led to believe this would be our last day in port. It was a fine morning and soon many launches were visiting us, continuing to do so throughout the day. In the afternoon the ferry steamers carried hundreds round the ship and may of us were able to recognise friends aboard. About 4 p.m. we were all excited to notice that H.M.S. "Philomel" was pouring out thick smoke hinting that our departure was imminent. Promptly at 5 p.m. the cruiser backed out and we were once more under steam. It was a great contrast to our previous attempt. Several launches accompanied us down the channel and every Ferry steamer tootled away as we passed. The pilot was dropped outside and the last remaining link with Auckland was left behind. Darkness soon shut out the landmarks and our compasses came out as we were all more or less in the dark as to our first course whether round North Cape or south to Wellington. Our doubts were soon dispelled however as Cuvier light came into view on the starboard bow - we were bound for Wellington. Once our in the Bay of Plenty we were relieved to find that it was beautifully calm for the sake of the indifferent sailors among us. I don't think in all my trips across the bay I ever found it so calm. The Waimana is wonderfully steady and on waking next morning many of us at first thought that we had once more put back and were again in port. We were however by that time well in the bay and out of sight of land.
Monday 12th October
The decks were crowded all day with men as so far the sea is so smooth as not to affect any of us. We put in a little physical drill today and in the afternoon had a tug-of-war competition between platoons, No. 5 winning after two good contests. As the slope of the deck would give one side an advantage we have departed from the usual method by passing a rope around a pulley and setting the teams pulling against one another in that way. We passed East Cape at 2.30 p.m. and were off Gisborne about 8.30 p.m.. The ships are only making about 8 knots now as we do not want to reach Wellington before Wednesday morning.
Tuesday 13th October
One day is very like another on board, the same routine each day. The sea is still beautifully calm and it is almost impossible to feel the motion of the ship. I don't think I was ever on a ship with so little vibration. At 8 a.m. we passed Cape kidnappers although it was rather difficult to pick it up at first as we are well off shore. We are now steaming about 6 and a half knots so as not to arrive too early in Wellington.
Wednesday 14th October
We are just entering Wellington heads at 6 a.m. and a cold wind is blowing - otherwise quite fine. The first vessels we saw when we got in were two men-o'-war and on closer inspection one was found to be "The Ibuki", Japanese battle cruiser and the other H.M.S. "Minotaur" a first class cruiser from the China Station. Both are powerful ships as ships go in these waters and are more than a match for anything German in the Pacific. We lay at anchor in the stream all day and many were the scathing comments on Wellington and its ferry services as the day wore on. Nobody seemed to worry whether we were in the harbour or not and the greatest difficulty was experienced in getting anything to or from the shore. The contrast between Auckland and Wellington was most marked. The Empire city also kept up its "windy" reputation as during the whole day a biting cold wind has been blowing. Most of us felt we should be glad to see the last of it. The eight other transports were at the wharves but we could see by the movement of horses on the wharf that embarkation was proceeding. About 5 p.m. some of the troopships were seen to back out into the stream and very soon all of them but the flagship the "Maunganui" had taken up their anchorage. The latter has the General and "The gilded staff" aboard so of course she remained until the last moment. We lay at anchor all night - a nasty rough night it was - I felt thankful that we were lying in port.
Thursday 15th October
This morning was wet and drizzling rain fell all day - quite a coincidence that exactly three weeks previously we left Auckland as we thought for good under exactly similar weather conditions. The two big warships were busy cleaning up after coaling and we had some water and coal to take aboard. In the afternoon the "Maunganui" came out to an anchorage and word was passed round that we were to sail at 6 a.m. next day, to our great relief. The ten transports make a unique and imposing sight in port, comprising as they do some of the finest vessels trading to these shores. They are No. 3 "Maunganui", 4 "Tahiti", 5 "Ruapehu", 6 "Orari", 7 "Limerick", 8 "Star of India", 9 "Hawkes Bay", 10 "Arawa", 11 "Athenic" and 12 "Waimana."
Friday 16th October
I turned out at 5.45 this morning and at 6 a.m. exactly the "Minotaur" and "Ibuki" got under way. They moved out ahead and were soon followed by H.M.S. "Psyche". The latter was followed down the harbour and out of the heads by 5 troopships as follows, "Maunganui," "Hawkes Bay", "Star of India", "Limerick", "Tahiti"; with this column on the move H.M.S. "Philomel" led off with the "Arawa", "Athenic" "Orari", "Ruapehu" and "Waimana" in her wake. On reaching the heads we saw the big cruisers were already, hull down on the skyline. We kept this line ahead formation until clear of the heads when our column of five ships headed by the "Philomel" drew up and so formed two columns abreast. It was a great sight. Once outside we were astonished to find that we had left the wind in the harbour and the sea was beautifully smooth. So far our luck in that respect was exceedingly good. All day we have been dodging along through Cook Strait with the South Island on our port beam an at 6.20 p.m. we had Farewell Spit abeam. This was our last sight of New Zealand and one cannot help wondering when and how we shall sight these shores again. We are now heading for Hobart, I believe, and should reach there about Wednesday evening or Thursday morning. Where we go from there we do not know but Suez seems to be the popular tip. When coming out of Wellington this morning we were accompanied by a ferry boat fairly crowded and were saluted by the Governor, who had taken up his position at the fort at the entrance to Wellington harbour.
Saturday 17th October
This day broke with very heavy rain falling and making everything very unpleasant. With such a crowd a board we don't want to strike many wet days. We could not do any drill this morning on account of the rain. A heavy head sea made the vessel pitch a good deal and so brought a good many of our fellows low. The first outing seems to have broken many in however and as a result there is a much bigger muster at mess. Very few of the officers were unable to face the mess table. Our major (Stuckey) is not to sure of himself nor Lieut. Morpeth of ours but I think I have done well enough at meal time to equalise matters. It has been a sort of competition between Captain Sinel and myself who would be at meals first. So far it is about a dead heat. We have all been greatly interested today in watching the "Tahiti" taking the seas aboard. She is very deeply laden. The "Philomel" however takes the cake, or I should say, the water. Her decks seem to be more or less continually wet. We are still sailing with all lights extinguished at nights and it requires very careful navigation to walk along our decks after dark. We are well out at sea now but so far have not seen a sign of any vessels but our own fleet. The officers were last night instructed in the art of cipher messages but only about half were able to be present.
Sunday 18th October
The rain has ceased today and a bright sun has cheered us up The wind has increased however and also shifted somewhat tot the southward so that the seas are now on the beam. The ship has been rolling a good deal more today and there are a few more absentees from mess etc. We could not hold church parade on the after deck this morning. This is the first miss since we came to camp. We have had one or two seas over today but only very little water reached the deck. Our first horse died during the night and was this morning consigned to the deep. Another is sick so perhaps it will not be long in following the first. We must expect this sort of thing, I suppose. We have had a real lazy day as there have been no parades. I had a good snooze both this morning and afternoon. Dodson and I both seem to be able to go to sleep at almost any time of the day. The Jap cruiser has now taken up her position some miles to starboard with the "Philomel" in rear, the "Psyche" a few miles to port and the "Minotaur" on the horizon ahead. Our ship occupies the important position in rear to keep the others up to their position, The temporary structures on deck are getting a good test with the rolling of the ship and many creaks and groans are to be heard from them. They are all pretty solid however, and should stand the test.
Monday 19th October
The sea is considerably calmer today although there is still an appreciable swell. The wind has dropped too but it is still cold. The sun would be very welcome. At noon today we had logged 257 miles during the previous 24 hours and were then 787 miles from Wellington. At the present rate of progress we should reach Hobart at about noon on Wednesday. We are making rather a slow trip on account of the poor quality of coal we shipped at Wellington,. Instead of being able to make about 12 knots we are able to squeeze about 9 and a half at a pinch. We sighted a couple of whales spouting in the distance this afternoon. So far not a strange sail has been sighted since we left. The sight of Tasmania tomorrow will rather relieve the monotony,. We have a parade for an hour at 8.15 am and again at 1pm, when our day is practically clear to ourselves. A lecture at night to officers only will help to fill in time. We are keeping most respectable hours since being aboard ship.
Tuesday 20th October
One day is much like another aboard, and there is little fresh to record. The sea is now fairly smooth with just a gentle swell. There are still a few down with the seasickness however. All our company officers are pretty fit however. The major is now practically recovered and a regular attendant at mess. We are gradually dropping further behind owing to bad coal and at the present time are about 3 miles behind the next ship. The firemen are doing their best too, but for some reason or other this wretched coal was supplied and a pretty mess we would be in if any unwelcome visitor should come along. The run fro the last 24 hours ending noon was 263 miles. We expect to be a t Hobart at noon tomorrow, but the 5 leading ships are the only ones to berth, We berth on Thursday. There is absolutely no shore leave but we are to have a couple of hours route march. No one is allowed to cable tomorrow so we must content ourselves with posting these letter etc. of ours. Perhaps there may be a letter or two for us at Hobart before we leave but it is very doubtful. Personally I don't expect anything now until we reach England. There is another medical inspection for all hands at 6am tomorrow. The officers of the ship re all very good examples of sea-faring men and it is no uncommon sight to find a dozen of us officers packed into one cabin for a bit of a yarn. The 3rd and 4th mates seem to be favourites. The wireless operator (Marconi, we call him) brought us news today of the capture of Ostend, sinking of the "Hawke" and of the German submarines.
Wednesday 21st October
Trafalgar Day and we are just entering Hobart. We seem to have a knack of striking anniversary days. We left Auckland on the anniversary of the declaration of war in South Africa and today we reach Hobart. We sighted land about 6am and at 9am were abreast of Cape Pillar. The cliffs rise straight from the water and in many places the rocks are most strangely formed. They are all fluted and look so much like great organ pipes. It will take us about 3 hours from the entrance to reach Hobart. They say we are to be joined here by some of the Australian transports and some more warships but whether we wait for them or they for us I don't know. I believe the next port is to be Albany but we are kept pretty well in the dark and our destination yet remains to be seen. The major has a brother with a fruit farm here. Perhaps we may strike oil (or fruit).
Thursday 22nd October
We came into the wharf last night after being at anchor all afternoon and spent all night alongside. There was no shore leave however on any pretext. The Jap cruiser and our own "Minotaur" lay almost in our path and we passed very close to the former. The guard turned out and the flag was dipped at the stern while our band struck up the Jap National Anthem. The sailors are dressed almost exactly like our own but of course are much shorter and very brown. We landed at 8am today for a 7 or 8 mile route march through Hobart and suburbs. There was a big crowd of us as all hands from 6 ships took part. Hobart people are nothing if not enthusiastic and gave us a great reception The cheering and flag wagging was great, while at every few chains throughout the march we were showered with apples and flowers by the occupants of verandas, windows and doorways. It is really wonderful where the fruit comes from as there seemed to be fruit in every back yard. The apples were jolly fine too. The major's brother gave us 5 cases and another firm gave the ship 20 cases of which our company's share was 3 cases. We have not done so badly therefore. Mr Stuckey's apples about the finest I have tasted for many a day. All hands returned to the ship about noon and were soon all aboard once more. We took in some coal here to use with the poor stuff we had already and this took us until about 3pm. Sharp to 3pm we left the wharf and headed once more out to sea. The wharves had by this time been packed with a cheering crowd of people, who gave us quite the best send off we have yet had. Two days previously they had farewelled their own contingent of about 1400 or 1500. The Hawkes Bay (No 9) was still at anchor when we left owing to an engine trouble but she followed us about an hour later convoyed by the "Pyramus" an picked us up t the heads. We are now heading for Albany.
Friday 23rd October
All hands were aroused early this morning by the blowing of the vessel's Siren at frequent intervals owing to fog. It is a most weird sound at night. We were by this time well round the south of Tasmania and heading for open sea so there was a greater felling of security but the presence of the other vessels ahead made it very trying for the ship's officers. Fortunately the fog lifted about 8 and we had a bright sun for the rest of the day. At noon today we and run 210 miles and were about clear of Tasmania. At any rate the land was out of sight.
Saturday 24th October
This morning we had another mild sensation which might have proved a serious disaster. The "Ruapehu" which is next ahead in our column got out of her place somewhat and in getting back her steering gear jammed and she swung across our bows. We were making straight for her quarter when her engines were reversed with the result that we went perilously near hitting her bow. As it was we passed within 10 or 12 feet of her. It was a narrow squeak and gave those of us who witnessed it quite a turn. It was fortunate it did not happen yesterday during the fog. Our second horse died today and was dropped overboard. The rest are looking remarkably fit and well however. Our run at noon today was 262 miles.
Sunday 25th October
We are now out in the Australian Bight which has somewhat of a reputation for rough weather and seas but so far with us it has failed to live up to its evil reputation. There has been nothing like the rolling and pitching we experienced the first two days from Wellington. We had church parade on the after running deck this morning and after that the officers paraded for a photograph by the captain. The latter also took a cinema picture of the officers which may possibly be screened in new Zealand some day. It will be very interesting to go to the pictures say in London and find oneself figuring on the screen. We had a mock collision alarm again today for practice in getting to our stations. This is to take place periodically during the voyage. It is a queer sight to see all hands rushing round to their stations with their great lifebelts on. This evening I came on duty with Capt. McDonald and Lieut. Carpenter as Ship's orderly officers. We have a week of it and take our shifts daily for that time. Mine is from 12 noon to 4pm and midnight to 4am. The latter shift is a rather lonely vigil although the hourly visit to the 23 sentries throughout the ship takes some time and leaves very little spare time on one's hands. This has been another beautiful day and the fleet has bowled along pretty well. Our log read 275 miles at noon and at our present rate we should reach Albany at about noon Wednesday.
Monday 26th October
We are still bowling along in fine weather and waiting for the Bight to justify its evil reputation. There is only a slow steady roll from the south which makes the vessel roll a fair amount; otherwise there is nothing to complain of. We have had two strange experiences today, First at about 9am the "Minotaur" which is ahead went further ahead and is reported to have fired three shots at something. There was certainly some smoke on the horizon but what it was we do not know. It may have been hostile or only an unoffending tramp which neglected to pull up when requested to do so. At any rate we have seen nothing of it since. We are of course some distance off the usual trade routes. We had for our other incident a much sadder one, in the shape of a funeral at sea. This morning about 10am a message was sent to all ships from the "Ruapehu" that Corporal Gilchrist (Dunedin) had died suddenly and was to be buried at sea at 3.45pm today. Shortly before that time the "Ruapehu" pulled out from her station to a position between the two lines of transports. A general parade on every ship was held at 3.30 and a funeral service held simultaneously with that on the "Ruapehu". The whole fleet stopped for about 10 minutes for the service. It was a rather unique occasion for most of us although somewhat depressing. Our band played the Dead March in Saul and at the conclusion of the service several lively airs. The poor chap lies at a spot well out in the Australian Bight about 500 miles from Albany. At noon today we had logged 259 miles and were then 519 miles from Albany. Our run was not quite so good as yesterday's because of a slowing down during the night to about 5 knots. Capt. McDonald who was to have been the ship's orderly officer with myself for this week is still sea-sick and Capt. Sinel has taken his place. Our horses are still keeping remarkably fit but on one's rounds through their lines one cannot help but feel that a horse piquet has to be wonderfully hearty to sleep alongside his horse with the vessel rolling and pitching about. The run through the tropics will try the poor brutes though and directly we pass Cape Leeuwin we will find it getting warmer.
Tuesday 27th October
Here we are still crossing the Bight. The wind has gone round almost due East and so raise a choppy following sea. To make matters worse it came on to rain during my turn on duty at about 2am. It is a very lonely watch for one thing and with all lights out one is continually running into something during one's rounds. Our temporary decks too have become very slippery with the rain so that walking them in a rolling sea is now reduced to almost a fine art. The weather all day has been too thick to allow any sights of the sun consequently our position can only be given approximately but at noon today we had logged 260 miles leaving 259 still to be covered. So that our tip for noon tomorrow into Albany was not far wrong. We re not going alongside the wharf there and there will be absolutely no leave for anyone. We are kept pretty busy with routine work aboard. owing to our large numbers the decks are available for drill purposes only one hour each morning and afternoon. We do a great deal of physical drill during those hours and in between these we have lectures on musketry, sanitation, tactics, etc. Capt. Wallingford takes the musketry and the medical officers sanitation, etc. while the other lectures are divided amongst our own company officers, one officer taking the whole company each time. I am busy preparing a couple of lectures for next week, one "Forest Fighting" and the other "Village Fighting". These are the kinds we are to expect when we reach the firing line. I developed the films I took of our vessels at Hobart and some good ones were among the but unfortunately the patent developing tank went wrong somehow and the films were only developed in patches, and so quite useless. I developed the next lot in my cabin at night. They are quite good. One profits by experience however. I had a good one of the Jap. ship which was spoiled. I must try to get another at Albany as I hear we are to lose her there. The "Philomel" and "Pyramus" also leave at Albany. The two latter then return to New Zealand. which is gradually getting further away from us. I think most of us will be very pleased to see its shores again.
Wednesday 28th October
Last night was a very dirty and wet one and I was very thankful when my watch was over. Land was just in sight about 7am today and at the present moment we seem to be heading for the entrance to King George Sound as there are two headlands now visible on each bow. The rain is not over yet so if we do go ashore (there is not much chance) we shall not see the town under its best. There is a good swell this morning and all the vessels are rolling somewhat. The General is to come aboard today to preside over a board of inquiry set up to inquire into the reason for some of our men being left at Hobart I have to attend to explain the why and the wherefore concerning one of my men. The men were picked up by a man-of-war picket and brought along on the warship. They are to be handed over at Albany. There will probably be a good deal of evidence to be heard, as there has been some discontent about the leave question. The warships are gradually closing in on us and just a few minutes ago the Jap on our port beam presented a fine sight as she rose to the swell with clouds of black smoke pouring from her funnels. She burns coal and oil mixed. We reached our anchorage at Albany about 10.30 this morning and found as we approached it that the Australian transports were all lying at anchor already. It was a splendid sight as we entered the roadstead. Our anchorage is almost in the open sea as we are right in the line of the lighthouse and the headland at the other side of the entrance. The swell of the ocean is fairly considerable but the anchorage is good so long as the wind does not go round to the southward. Our lifeboats have had a good run all day as six of them have been pretty constantly kept full with some of our fellows going for a pull round the bay. We were met by the cruiser "Melbourne" out from the heads this morning and escorted in. She is on patrol outside. This afternoon our two friends, H.M.S. "Pyramus" and "Philomel" left us on their way back to New Zealand. They cheered our ship as they passed and we returned it with a will. They both had the signal "Kia ora" while we returned it with "Goodbye Good Luck". It was quite a touching sight as our last link with New Zealand was severed. The Jap cruiser left about the same time for Fremantle for coal and is to pick us up. We moved from our first anchorage about 6pm today and are now closer in where the "Maunganui" (flagship) was previously lying. The latter of course having the General aboard goes to the wharf every time. We are to go in at 6am tomorrow for coal and fresh water. The latter is most necessary as we get through about 35 or 40 tons per day. We will be at the wharf all day and sail probably the following day. There is to be no leave and that means a busy time for us orderly officers. There is a New Zealand mail on the "Maunganui" which is being eagerly awaited by us all.
Thursday 29th October
First thing this morning we left our anchorage for the wharf and were soon tied up opposite the "Maunganui". nearly all hands went ashore during the morning for a route march through Albany but being on duty I had to stay behind. The town is much smaller than I imagined and did not impress our fellows very much The people took very little notice of them and so were in great contrast to our Hobart friends. All hands were confined to the ship all afternoon but they amused themselves by calling out all kinds of pleasantries to the men on the "Maunganui". Our ship was busy taking in coal all day and all through the night.
Friday 30th October
Sharp at 5am this morning we were once more en route for the outer harbour, to our anchorage. We lay there all day and followed out the usual routine of ship life. A few crews from the Australian hips visited us during the day but we had no communication with the shore. We, most of us, longed for a paper too but none was available. The Albany paper is published only twice a week and Perth evening papers come down the next day after publication. The weather is still fine although we expected a few showers from the clouds visible.
Saturday 31st October
Here we still are at an anchorage although we believe that we are to sail very soon. There is very little to vary our ship life. The boats were all out today manned by different crews each time and as there was a bit of wind and sea running there was great fun getting the men in and out of them. We on board the vessel of course laughed heartily at the discomfiture of those in the boats. Some papers actually came aboard today and we also learned by wireless through the "Minotaur" of the declaration of war by Russia against Turkey. Let us hope this is to be the end of the "sick man" in Europe. We received very strict orders today about our correspondence. It is all to be censored except for New Zealand. No cables can be sent from any port. News came tonight that we sail at daylight tomorrow (Sunday) but our destination is so far unknown.
Sunday 1st November
At 6am today we were awakened by the "Attention" from our bugles which signifies a warship is passing. On looking out of the port I noticed the "Minotaur" and the "Sydney" passing so of course jumped out quick and lively. Many of the Australian troopships were on the move an every one of the 26 Australian vessels were soon passing us in single line ahead. The Orient liner "Orbieto" was in the lead. None of these 26 are painted like our vessels. They are consequently a rather motley crowd and don't look a "fleet" like ours. Still it is more easy to tell which is which. They made a fine sight. The sea had been very smooth so far but it is quite possible we will get it rougher when we get round Cape Leeuwin. We should reach that point soon after midnight. Our pace has been reduced now to enable the "Southern" (Australian) to keep with us.
Monday 2nd November
The weather is still fine but the wind has increased somewhat with a consequent heavy swell. Our next port of call is Capetown and not Colombo but in order to get the better weather we are steering a course for the latitude of about 26 or 27 º South before actually turning to the west. The distance will be greater but the voyage will be more pleasant. I am rather disappointed we are not going via Read Sea but according to the ship's officers it is doubtful if we could ever land many of our men with such a crowded ship as we have. Several of our Australian friends are to make for Mauritius for coal and water to avoid congestion at the Cape where they will rejoin us. At present we are not up to full strength but two more transports and two warships will join us from Fremantle tomorrow and complete our fleet.
Tuesday 3rd November
The wind seems to have increased as we steam north and the sea has been rougher. Drill on the after deck with the stern pitching about is rather a problem albeit rather humorous at times. We carried out rifle practice at a target towed astern of us today and several of us officers had a practice with our revolvers at a target put up abaft the flying bridge and facing inwards. The remainder of the fleet joined us at 3.30pm today and it now consists all told of 38 transports and 5 warships. We had a sweepstake on the melboutne Cup today and received the result by wireless. Dr Craig won and Major Stuckey came second. The men also had several sweeps among themselves.
Wednesday 4th November
We had an awful night's rolling and tossing about last night. I could not get to sleep for hours as each time one relaxed one would wake with a great roll against the side. I could not get to sleep for hours as each time one relaxed one would wake with a great roll against the side. During the day the sea had calmed considerably but there is still a good swell. all the ships have been rolling a good deal. We lost another horse during the night. The weather is becoming appreciably warmer as we are only about 3½ degrees from the tropic now, and during my lecture in the mess room on Forest fighting the perspiration poured out of most of us. Today the 3rd Regt Officers played Head quarter officers hockey (6 a side) and won 13-11 and another match is to take place tomorrow. In the evenings we have concerts provided by the different companies in turn. Our turn comes later in the week. The 3rd Mounteds give one tomorrow evening.
Thursday 5th November
We are getting near the tropics now and still holding to our original course. Each morning on rising we have expected to find that we had turned westward but still we keep northwest. This evening we should cross the tropic of Capricorn. At dinner time today we had a little mild excitement when some strange smoke appeared above the horizon, and we noticed that the "Melbourne" headed off to investigate it. Soon afterwards the "Melbourne" returned to her station and the smoke appeared closer. Two yellow funnels soon made their appearance and we at once jumped to the conclusion that it was the Orient liner "Osterley". Our surmise proved correct when she came alongside about 6 pm and then gradually headed off again to Colombo. We tried to get some war news but there was none to be got.
Friday 6th November
Last night was a "corker". The heat kept us all out of bed clad in pyjamas only. This morning we learned with surprise that our trip to Capetown was postponed for the present and that we were to continue to Colombo. Evidently things have cleared up at the Cape. Lieut Glenny, the Naval transport officer gave us a good lecture today on "The German ships we are likely to meet" and also a full description of our escort and of the British ships lost to date. It was most interesting. I had to write up a "resumé" of it for the paper we are going to issue weekly on Transport No.12. We learned today by wireless of the closing of the North Sea to all shipping and of the reply to Turkey on her offer of apologies for bombarding of Black Sea ports. There is not very much news filtering through to us and so far we have had difficulty in getting papers at Hobart and Albany.
Saturday 7th November
We are now into the tropics with a vengeance and the heat is becoming very noticeable. Orders have now been issued to us all that we are to wear any clothing at all and permission has been granted for the men to sleep on deck. Most of us now as a result sleep out and wear very little during the day. All the decks are covered with awnings for which we are very thankful. We made a better run today, 258 miles for the twenty four hours. Our newspaper came out today and made a very fair start. Of course we had only 4 copies typed for a start but at the next port we will get it printed. It should make interesting reading in later years.
Sunday 8th November
We are now about half way to Colombo from Albany which will probably be our longest run at sea. It has been strangely devoid of strange ships, too, as the only outside hip we have seen is the "Osterley" bound to Colombo and London. She should reach Colombo 3 or 4 day ahead of us. Tonight we will pass the Cocos Islands where there is a cable station and also a high powered wireless station. Our escort was reduced today by the departure of the "Minotaur" for a destination unknown to us but some say New Zealand. At any rate she left us going full speed ahead at 5.30 this morning. The "Melbourne" is now ahead and in charge. Probably this reduction was caused by the appearance of the German cruisers off Valparaiso. We learned today of the sinking of the "Good Hope" and "Monmouth". We wish some damage had been done to the Germans. We are making great preparations for Father Neptune's visit about Wednesday or Thursday. It will be arranged with all due ceremony and should cause some fun. Lieut. Morpeth and myself are the only two who have not crossed before among the Hauraki officers, so will probably have to prepare for a ducking. Some of the officers are said to be going to object so I am afraid they will be treated with less ceremony. There should be some fun.
Monday 9th November
This morning early we noticed a good deal of movement among the warships with us and about 7.40 the "Sydney" suddenly went off to the westward and soon disappeared. She was travelling at a great rate. There were a good many wireless signals passing too and of course many conjectures as to the meaning of it all. Shortly after 11 we had our minds set at ease somewhat by the receipt of the following messages; - "Sydney" to "Minotaur", 'Emden beached herself to prevent sinking. Am pursuing her merchant collier.' Later; 'Emden beached and done for. Latest; 'Emden was coaling at Cocos Islands.' It appears from later information that the famous "Emden" passed within 20 miles of us last night but did not sight us. It is also said that she expected us but not for a couple of days. The "Sydney" has not yet returned but will receive a cheer when she does turn up. We are at present waiting to hear she has got the collier. At mess tonight we drank a toast to the "Sydney" and her officers. We are getting nearer the Equator now and all hands are wearing next to nothing in the way of clothing.
Tuesday 10th November
Still no news of the return of the "Sydney" this morning but late in the evening word came that she had returned to Cocos and was embarking German wounded and prisoners and would then sail for Colombo at full speed. How many wounded etc. are on the "Emden" we do not know but the "Sydney's" casualties amount to 2 killed and 13 wounded. We are all very pleased that this scourge of these seas has been removed and by a British ship and not the "Ibuki". The "Konigsberg" is said to be somewhere in the Indian ocean still and so we are taking no risks. All the dynamos in the ships are stopped at nights at present. Our concert on the after deck has therefore been postponed for the present. The absence of lights has made my duties as OC Guard very difficult during the middle watch - midnight till 4am.
Wednesday 11th November
We are still jogging along steadily with an almost entire absence of wind. The sea is beautifully calm and what is also most noticeable, it has a most beautiful colour - a deep azure blue. In spite however of the warm weather it is astonishing what a tremendous amount of strenuous exercise the men go in for. There are boxing competitions by the score every day, We have some two or three professional boxing men aboard and of course numerous amateurs of various standings. An order issued today caused consternation to many when it stated that the censorship of our letters would take place at Colombo. We will have to put in all our letters unsealed and we will not be allowed to mention from what port it is sent, dates of departure or destination. Our next mail will therefore be rather meagre.
Thursday 12th November
We were 2 degrees 46 minutes from the Equator at noon today so we should reach the line by about 11am tomorrow. The notification of Neptune's intended visit was made today. Capt. Sinel having been across before is chief of hi staff and will have the job of rounding up all who have to pay tribute. We were all greatly excited about 2pm today to notice a grey ship appear above the horizon. She had three funnels and we were puzzled greatly. She stood too high for a warship and yet she looked like one. She passed us some distance off with her flags flying "Good luck" and we are still somewhat in doubt as to her identity, but from her appearance she is one of the two new "Empress" boats of the Canadian Pacific Company running to the East from Vancouver. She looks a beauty. What her mission is in these waters we don't know but perhaps she will pick up the German prisoners from the "Emden." The "Melbourne" left us this morning and we are now left with the "Ibuki" only. The others are probably only some distance out from us. There is apparently little more danger in these waters though since the sinking of the "Emden".
Friday 13th November
Today we crossed the line in what is called typical equatorial weather - heavy rain showers all day. It can rain in these latitudes. At noon today we were 29 minutes north so the crossing was made somewhere between 9 and 10 this morning. News came this morning that the "Empress of Russia" which passed during the night was en route to the Cocos to pick up the wounded of both ships and take over the prisoners from the "Emden". So the ship we passed yesterday afternoon was the "Empress of Asia" - a sister ship. We also heard some war news of minor importance - our first since last Friday. The "Hampshire" (cruiser) picked us up at daylight and word came to us that the NZ squadron and two of the Australian were to proceed at a faster rate to Colombo fro water. There is no wharfage there and I understand only 10 or 12 ships can be at anchor at a time. Some of our ships are in need of water on account of the way we do things in NZ having both men and horses on our ships. The Australians have 10 ships for all their horses and just sufficient men on each to look after them. We should reach Colombo about Sunday morning. An item of new that gave us great satisfaction was that the "Knonigsberg" had been "officially located", that HMS "Chatham" was shelling her - the crew having entrenched themselves ashore and that the "Hampshire" believed the Indian Ocean to be now free of the enemy ships. Good news all of it. The great ceremony of King Neptune's arrival did not take place this morning as arranged owing to the heavy rain, but will probably take place tomorrow. I have received my summons to attend and pay tribute and am charged by his Highness's court with "stealing a lump of steak from the ship's dog and giving it to the Regimental dog and thereby causing a "doggy" argument on the deck. A serious charge indeed!!
Saturday 14th November
We had the greatest fun this morning that we have had for many a day. Neptune and his court duly arrived with the time-honoured ceremony. The bath was fitted up on the running deck and Neptune came aboard forward. All the candidates for the initiation were assembled on the bridge deck arrayed in suitable clothing for the "ducking". There were 6 or 7 police told of to arrest all the candidates and about 25 of the latter. As soon as the former came to get us there was a free fight all round and a general rough and tumble in which we came off best. Many of the police had their clothing pulled off and all of us were more or less bruised in the melee. It was great fun though. After a somewhat prolonged struggle we consented to go to the court and off we marched. As soon as we got there however and took our positions on the platform we ran riot and pushed everybody in . Then the court proceeded with the trial and each one was "ducked" and duly initiated. Before the last case came on, however, we took charge once more and threw the judge (Colonel Plugge) and his court crier and father Neptune (Major Dawson) and Brittania in and fell in on top of them. Altogether it was a most unusual ceremony. As soon as that part finished the men had their turn and the whole ship was soon nothing but a mass of rushing, dripping figures armed in the end with fire hose and every soul on the ship was soon soaked. Water was everywhere. The Captain of the ship and the Naval Transport officer were in the fun too, the former clad only in a towel as a kind of loin cloth. All the officers were afterwards presented with a date stamped certificate as a momento of the occasion. APPENDIX In the court of Neptune Holden on SS "Waimana" IN THE MATTER OF CROSSING THE LINE To all to whom these presents come, greeting Whereas from time immemorial it hath been the custom and habit of all navigators upon successfully negotiating the passage of the Equator to invite his Marine majesty to hold a Royal Court to admit as honorary members those of the company of the respective ships. Whereas on the 14th day of November in the year of Grace 1914 the SS "Waimana", did, in the afternoon cross the Equator. Now therefore, know ye that we, Neptune Rex of the Grace of God Supreme Ruler of five oceans and of all navigable oceans and of all navigable waters connected therewith, Grand Killer of Whales, Lord High Admiral of the Shrimp Navy, Grand Master of the Ancient Order of Crabs, Lobsters and Tommy Cods, do hereby certify that Lieut. Algie, of Auckland Infantry Rgmt. has been passed by our Royal Court Physician in the presence of our most Noble and Ancient Court held on HMNZT No. 12 (SS "Waimana") in the day and year aforesaid, when on our most Sacred Equatorial Line and found to be physically fit, also that he has shown by his fortitude ::: coolness::: and perseverance::: during his initiation to our most Sacred Lodge that he is qualified to become an honorary member of the "Ancient Order of Sons of the Sea." We hereby command and of our Royal Bounty, order sharks, lobsters, crabs, and all other voracious fish inhabiting our Royal Domain, to abstain from partaking of his flesh at any time during life or after. Given on SS "Waimana" this 14th day of November 1914. As witness the had of our Trusty and well beloved "Triton" keeper of our Royal Seal and controller of our conscience and sealed with his seal of office the day and year aforesaid. Neptune Rex
Sunday 15 November
We were astir early this morning and all excitement at the sight of land after 14 days at sea. We picked up the land pretty early by the sight of a great peak rising up to a great height. About 9 we were off Colombo breakwater where we cane to an anchorage until about noon when it cam to our turn to go inside. Here we found a tremendous amount of shipping and lying at anchor there were the "Melbourne", and a Russian cruiser "Askold", Japanese "Ibuki", and shortly after came in the hero of the Emden affair, the "Sydney" and "Empress of Russia". The "Hampshire" came with us and a few hours later in came the "Yarmouth". The native boats were not allowed to come alongside to trade so things were very quiet but many boats for hire were to be had. I had a great wish to get ashore but did not hope to manage it. Great was our pleasure to get word that 30 men from out company and 2 officers could go. I was one of the latter. There is no Sunday here and everything was going on just as usual. It is an eye opener to a colonial to visit such a place as this. One cannot help noticing the teeming thousands of natives. Everywhere we moved we were beseiged with men with wares to sell. They all ask outrageous prices for everything but can always be beaten down about 60 percent. I made a few purchases of small things but at present we cannot send them without disclosing our whereabouts. We all had a run in the rickshaws and visited the native quarters and sampled the quality of the two hotels. The one just off the jetty is a good big place known as the G O H (Grand Oriental Hotel). It is a five storey building beautifully fitted up with a couple of large palm courts with dozens of small tables. There is a regular army of waiters all barefooted Cingalese. I can't say they are very smart at attending to guests. They come up quickly enough but are anything but smart in returning with the order. There are beautiful tropical plants growing in pots in all corners of the court. It is a great sight. All the front of both hotels is a large court, and along the inner side are numbers of fancy goods and other stalls all teeming with natives out to catch the tourist and traveller. There is no set price for any article it seems. During the afternoon we visited a couple of Bhuddist temples but there was not much doing; a band inside however seemed to consider it its duty to make a fearful din without a commensurate amount of music. All hands more or less returned to the ship about 7 pm.
Monday 16th November
Another beautiful day broke and we began to wonder if we would get ashore again. At last word came that parties of 20 men could go under an officer on a sort of personally conducted Cook's tour. At 12 the first parties left a Colombo was soon a mass of khaki. I took my party round and visited all we could in the time before lunch and returned for the next at 2.30. We were back from the steamer at 3.15 and were ashore until 6 pm. After getting back the second time most of the officers got leave for the rest of the evening. We were glad of the freedom and made the most of it.. We three Hauraki officers got a motor for a couple of hours and made a round of the town. All the motor cars, electric trams, cabs, etc, are run by natives and our taxi was particularly well handled by our driver, No white people ride on the trams but crowds of natives use them. They have double tracks running through the narrowest streets where we would scarcely allow one set of rails. We returned to the G O H again and were joined by Major Stuckey and two others and set out once more on a rickshaw ride. This is great fun and is quite a pleasant ride. They get over the ground at quite a good pace. After a jolly good day's outing we returned to the ship about 11.30pm.
Tuesday 17 November
At daylight this morning we left our inner anchorage and moved to another outside while our places were taken by several of the Australian ships. Our stay outside did not last long as we were once more under steam for Suez at noon. Eighteen Australian ships and all ours left at that time under the escort of the "Hampshire" leaving 10 Australians to follow later. there were many and persistent rumours that we were bound for Bombay. Colour was lent to it by the fact that we had a number of the "Emden" prisoners scattered among our vessels and there are a number of these fellows at Bombay. Several English Territorials landed there this week too. Our course does not seem to be in that direction however. The sea is wonderfully calm still. I think it must be exceptional to strike a passage like we have so far had from NZ. Perhaps it is a good omen.
Wednesday 18 November
Still the same kind of weather but owing to the lesser need for precaution we are able to travel with our cabin doors and ports open. There is so little wind however that it is very hot inside and the sun makes it very uncomfortable to sit out of the shade. At noon today we had made 237 miles from Colombo and on the Suez course still. Bombay seems to be out of it. Drill has been practically abolished during the hot weather and most of the time is put in at semaphore signalling. A good many of our men have had sun stroke. They are frightfully careless and will not take a warning.
Thursday 19th November
There is now no doubt that we are bound for Suez. We are now going too much west for Bombay. We had a funeral service this morning simultaneously with one in Colombo for a stoker of the "Arawa" who was left behind there. It appears he dived into about two feet of water in the Neptune ceremonies last week and broke his neck. Wonderful to relate he lived for 5 days. We have been congratulating ourselves that we had no accidents. We were told today that all the troops were to land at Suez and go to Port Said by rail in order to save the canal dues levied on each person passing through. It is said to be true but to many of us seems improbable. The remainder of the Australians were sighted on the horizon this evening so they should join us tomorrow. The "Ibuki" is coming with them. 245 miles today.
Friday 20th November
Another beautiful day and still the same smooth seas and great heat. it won't improve until we leave Port Said. At midday today the "Maunganui, "Arawa", "Athenic", and "Star of India" left us to go ahead faster to Aden, and will rejoin us at Port said. Col Bauchop is now in command of the NZ troops and the "Hawkes Bay" is now our flagship. We are due at Aden about Tuesday or Wednesday. The Australian ships joined up this afternoon and I hear they are to continue to steam ahead of us to Aden. Our fleet is thus considerably smaller than it was. We have only two warships with us. From Aden to Suez is about 5½ days' run for us and about 16 days' run from there should take us to Southampton. We shall be glad to get off this floating home of ours too, I think.
Saturday 21st November
We are still jogging along serenely with calm seas and no excitement of any sort to relieve the monotony. One of the Australian transports broke down temporarily this morning and dropped astern for a while. We were all interested in the "Hampshire" which came down at full speed to stir the erring "trooper" along. The warship has two bluejackets on the very top of her foremast as a look-out - a most precarious position. We had a very interesting lecture on "The French Language" by Major Stuckey this morning. As a result there is now quite an epidemic of French among us. We are all making valiant attempts to master a few terms or brush up past knowledge.
Sunday 22nd November
Six weeks from Auckland today and still a few more weeks to go. We caught sight of some smoke on the horizon this morning but it was a great distance off. These little incidents ate quite refreshing to us. The absence of birds and fishes (flying) is most remarkable, and we have hardly seen a shark, although there must be many of them. We are having a good deal of sunstroke among the men and also a great deal of influenza among all ranks; quite a number of officers and men are "seedy". We had the usual church parade today but these services are fortunately very short; I came on duty again tonight as Ship's Orderly Officer which will keep me busy for the rest of the week.
Monday 23rd November
I was awakened at 5.45 this morning by the siren blowing and naturally I hopped out pretty quickly. An alarm of this sort always gives one a start. On going on deck I found that we were right out of line and that a strange ship was approaching us. I soon found out that she had come in answer to out signal and that we were going to send our adjutant, Capt Hawkins, back by the stranger to Colombo. The Captain has been very ill for a few days and in the opinion of the doctors, not well enough for the Red Sea. After a good deal of signalling and flagwagging we arranged for his passage to Colombo and thence back to New Zealand. His trouble is a nervous breakdown or something and he has looked positively wretched for the last day or two. I felt very sorry to see him go and he himself felt it very much. As it is he will get back alright, whereas to have continued would have been a case with him. Capt Alderman is our new adjutant.
Tuesday 24th November
Our progress across the Arabian Sea is still marked by smooth seas, bright skies, and hot weather. As we are running almost due west the temperatures are not likely to come down for a while. We passed Socotra last evening and this morning were once more out of sight of terra firma. Drills are almost at a discount during the hot weather and most of us are engaged in the strenuous exercise of lying about the decks most of the day.
Wednesday 25th November
Land in sight again this morning but a good long distance from us. We coasted along in sight of it for some time and about 3 pm sighted the rock of Aden. It is a most barren-looking place and hardly a vestige of vegetation to be seen. Our 10 Australian ships and our won 4 which had left us were lying at anchor in the roadstead and much to our own surprise we all came in too and came to anchor. there were a great many ships here including a number of Indian transports. The town (what we could see) is a very dingy-looking - all the buildings being stone of a dark grey colour with very flat roofs painted in most cases a red colour. it is a rather forbidding place.
Thursday 26th November
We left Aden at 6 this morning for the Red Sea and the canal. Aden lies 96 miles from Perim which is an island at the entrance to the Red sea. Perim has a British garrison stationed there. The NZ ships have been in the lead ever since we left Aden and about 3 this afternoon passed Perim. We passed no less than 4 Indian transports returning to India during the day. One was numbered 75 so they had a big fleet. Our escort (HMS "Hampshire") is behind us now and ahead of the Australian ships, and she sent orders today that all lights are to be out tonight. the present danger is in mines or dhows with torpedo tubes aboard, I believe. From what we can hear, however, the Red Sea is being well patrolled.
Friday 27th November
The heat is now terrific in spite of its being the cool season and our energy is almost a minus quantity. We have still been passing empty troopships going back for more troops. They all have their admiralty numbers painted on them but not one has been painted grey like our NZ ships. Land can only be seen at intervals now as we are in the wide part of this sea, but at times the course lies towards one side.
Saturday 28th November
Still jogging along serenely with very little to break the monotony. A few more ships passed us today and two Indian troopers with reinforcements aboard joined forces with us this morning. After lunch the "Maunganui" and the Australian flagship "Orivieto" left us to go ahead to Suez to arrange for coal, water and provisions, but more possibly to give the women on each a run to Cairo. There is no leave for us next port. A P & O boat passed us from Australia this morning and an Orient boat bound out. We were 611 miles from Aden at noon today and at our present speed should reach Suez on Tuesday. About 14 days from there should put us in England.
Sunday 29th November
There have been very persistent rumours all day that we are not going any further than Egypt, and that we will be kept there for some time. We hear so many strange tales that we are always loath to believe anything we hear. We can feel the difference in latitude now, the weather being now very much cooler than it was. A fair breeze has been blowing all day from ahead. There are a great many lights on this coast and the irony of it is that a great many of them are maintained by the Turkish government - for the benefit of our shipping - their own has disappeared from these waters for the time being.
Monday 30th November
Today we start on out 8th week from Auckland. Time seems to fly in a sense although we are taking some time on the way. We have been looking out for land all day and sighted the beginning of the Gulf of Suez this evening, with the appearance of the island of Shadwan. The number of ships passing us has decreased considerably. We should reach Suez about 11 tomorrow morning. So we shall soon be at the end of the Red Sea. Up to the present I have not seen anything to justify the name.
Tuesday 1st December
We reached Suez somewhat earlier that we expected by coming to an anchorage just after 9. The first sight of Suez is not very impressive. It is only a small place and the buildings visible seem to be white stone with perfectly flat roofs. We were all anxious to see the canal but it is difficult at first to pick up the entrance. Soon after our arrival we were visited by the usual fleet of native boats conveying fruit, cigarettes and such like articles. The Australian ships arrived shortly after we came in. Before any ship goes into the canal it must pay all dues, get its pilot and receive the very necessary search light for the bows. All these preliminaries necessarily take some time and it was close on three o'clock before we entered the "ditch". Suez seems to contain a great number of French people judging by the signs and notice boards we saw. The French population gave us most hearty cheers as we passed. It is quite possible to shy a stone or biscuit to either bank. The canal is 96 miles long but in the middle are a chain of lakes and through these the canal runs. From the southern end to the lakes is the best portion nothing but a great waste of desert - particularly the Arabian side. We were intensely interested to notice that every mile along the canal were stationed both Indian and English Territorial. troops. All told I believe there are 30,000. There were Ghurkas, Sikhs. Punjabee and I don't know how many more. Every camp cheered us wildly as we passed. We dropped our pilot half way at Ismalia and picked up another for the second stage. Of course it was dark the greater part of the time we were in the canal so we could not see as much as we would have liked. We are now definitely fixed to disembark at Alexandria and go into camp at Zeitun near Cairo for goodness only knows how long. An armed force of Turks is reported to be marching on Egypt. It is also reported that sniping has been done along the canal. We are prepared for this however because we have our machine guns ready with flour bags forming a gun emplacement and two armed parties fore and aft.
Wednesday 2nd December Port Said
All hands were awakened about 4 am today by a frightful chattering and clatter alongside. The explanation was soon found in the presence of coal barges alongside swarming with blacks coaling our ship. All the coaling here is done by these fellows who carry small baskets of coal up on their shoulders. Port Said is said to be the quickest coaling port in the world. as soon as day broke we found that there were several warships in port; HMS "Hampshire" and "Swiftshire" (battleship) and another two or three torpedo boats and three French cruisers. We were surrounded all day with small boats with natives selling all kinds of goods. They did a roaring trade. None of us were allowed ashore at all but we could see a great deal of the town from the anchorage. The town seems to bear the typical Oriental look but there are several very fine buildings. We noticed that nearly all the officials of the Canal Co are French and there appear to be a great many French people here judging by the shop signs. We did not stay long here as at 2.30pm we were timed to leave on the last stage to Alexandria (125 miles). On passing out to sea we were saluted and cheered tremendously by all the French crews of the cruisers while out band played the Marseillaise. It was really a most stirring scene. Our orders were to proceed to Alexandria with all speed and we did so without an escort, of any kind. This end of the Mediterranean is evidently quite safe. We sailed with all lights burning too.
Thursday 3rd December
We were off Alexandria at daybreak this morning and very soon after came to an anchorage inside the harbour. There were a great many vessels of all flags here and we couldn't get a berth when we came in. This place seems just like Suez and Port Said only of course very much larger being about 300,000. there are many flat roofed buildings just as in the other places, many of them most handsome places. We don't know yet for how long we are to stay in harbour because the work of disembarkation is going to take some time. We may possibly go alongside the wharf tomorrow morning. We found no less that 19 German, two Austrian and two Turkish ships prisoners here when we came. There are some fine vessels among them too. The "Maunganui" and "Tahiti" are leaving for New Zealand this afternoon and I am arranging to send this back with the former. The censorship regulations still prevent any disclosure of our whereabouts. We are living in hopes of soon being able to send word home. We may leave for Cairo about Monday.
Friday 4th December
Still in Alexandria but word came today to proceed to the wharf and prepare to disembark. We came alongside at breakfast time and at once began discharging cargo. Our battalion is to go up to Cairo in two detachments, ours going first at 11am tomorrow. All men who were not on duty this afternoon were given a march ashore for an hour or so and after that leave was given to all good conduct men to go to town. I managed to get away about 7 but had to return at 9pm. Three of us set out to find the way and after getting into a tram seemed to go for two or three miles before we came to the city and all the time through the narrow streets with millions of natives and others about. The surroundings in this locality are rather squalid and filthy too. We made for the European part of the city and had a good look round. It is rather surprising the amount of French one hears. In fact very little English is used and as a result one's knowledge of French would soon get a wider one. We had some trouble in getting home to our ship again on this very account. We got into a taxi and started out for troopship No 12 but landed at Quay No 12 a couple of miles from where we wished to be. It took some little time to set matters right but in the end we succeeded. We met some French people ashore who were most enthusiastic over our people but they did not know where New Zealand was. When we told them what we had done they were astounded. We landed in Egypt with the loss of 40 horses all told from NZ and only two deaths among the troops both of those being accidents which should not have happened. A troopship which arrived from England a couple of weeks before us lost no less than 150 horses out of 500.
Saturday 5th December
We were astir bright and early this morning and strange to say it rained on the day of disembarkation as on the day of embarkation. The rain came down in torrents at intervals only and we were able to get our stuff dry. By one o'clock all the 6th and 15th Companies and the Infantry transport and band were on board the train and about two we said goodbye to the good ship "Waimana" and the sea for a time at any rate. the Egyptian trains run on a wider gauge than in NZ and like in England there are 3 classes of carriage. The cars are all very comfortable with particularly wide open windows in the first class. the cars in the 1st and 2nd class are all 6 seated compartments but the arm rests fold up and at night the seat can be used as a couch. Of course in their fast express trains from Alexandria they have better accommodation. These are the "Trains de Luxe" and they come up to their name. Our train being a troop train did not travel so fast and it took us nearly 7 hours to reach Cairo (140 miles). All the way down the country is as flat as a pancake and under cultivation. the bullock, donkey, mule and camel are the beasts of burden and hundreds of each were to be seen throughout. the cultivation fairly thorough but the ploughs are just as the ancients used I should think. It is very hard to realise that we are in a country of such antiquity. They seem to have a splendid system of irrigation as there are small and large canals and ditches everywhere. Tomatoes are plentiful and for 2½d (a piastre) one can get about a bucketful. We had a splendid lunch and tea of tomatoes. It was quite a treat after the ship's fare. the coinage is all piastres and milliemes. The former is worth about 2½d and 10 milliemes make a piastre. The ½ piastre (1¼d) is nickel, all the larger coins silver, and the milliemes bronze. The silver coins range from a piastre to 20 piastres (4/-); as you will imagine the latter is pretty big. There are several large towns en route and all of the same type. The railway is a double track all the way. We arrived at Cairo about 8pm and very soon disembarked. There was an army of blacks and natives and they soon got our gear off and then the fun commenced. Our battalion left for camp abut nine but I was detailed as OC of a fatigue party of 50 men to have all the baggage transported to camp. For this purpose 15 native waggons were to report to me. They might be still waiting to report as far as they were concerned. At 10 I went in search of them without result so I then commandeered every waggon I could see on the road from camp. The trouble however was that the natives could not talk English and I could not talk Arabic. The only effective way was for a man to take the mule's head and a gang give the vehicle a start from behind and amid the protests of the driver and the shouts of our chaps, head him for the station. It was tremendous fun but a frightfully slow job as the carts would only carry 5 tents at a time or about 8 kit bags. As there was sufficient tents for the battalion all the tents, stores etc, there was a lot of stuff to be handled. A man had to go with each cart to ensure its getting to camp and its return for another load at 1am. I was relieved and made my way to the camp. Here I found that all the 6th and 15th had bivouacked in the open on a great sandy desert (or so it seemed). A cup of cocoa and a roll were waiting for us and we soon turned in pretty tired. The night was fairly cold too with a heavy dew. Baggage arrived all through the night so our rest was somewhat broken.
Sunday 6th December
All hands turned out at daylight to find that we were really camped on a great sandy plain with about 3 inches of loose sand for miles and miles. We are only 5 miles from Cairo too with a splendid train and also electric car service. The fare in the latter is only ½ piastre. There was leave for 50 per cent of all ranks tonight and of course all who could went into Cairo. As I had been ashore at Alexandria I had to renounce my claim tonight. All hands returned with most glowing accounts of the wonders of the city. I shall see for myself. The 3rd and 16th Coys arrived early this morning having had an all night trip from Alexandria. All today has been practically wasted as our battalion had to keep about in readiness to erect tents if they came to hand.
Monday 7th December
We spent another night in the open or at least most of the men did. We officers have two tents for each company. The major and 2nd in command have one and we four subs have one. We are rather hurt about it too as our battalion brought a full outfit of tents and now we are the only battalion to be out in the open. The mounteds did not bring any so of course they had to get ours. Then the General gave the Australians 75 as they have none. Our poor battalion seems to have had to suffer on all occasions. We are living in hopes though and as rain does not fall much at this time of year, we should be pretty right. There are surprisingly heavy dews in these regions however which make us almost as wet as if it rained. Today very little work has been done as the men are not yet hardened up but work will soon begin in earnest again. Was looking forward to going to town tonight but the major wanted to go and Sinel has not yet arrived from Alexandria. I had to remain. Tomorrow I am detached for duty all day so my luck is out at present. I must go and have a look at the city on Wednesday evening. Leave has been increased now to practically general leave; only the duty men need remain.
Sunday 13th December
All the rest of this week has been pretty well the ordinary camp routine work. All our drill has been done alongside the camp. Sinel arrived on Wednesday night and he and I had a look round the city on Thursday evening. It teems with people of all shades and races and seems a fine city to judge by the buildings. There are several very fine hotels, one - Shepheards - having a world-wide reputation and being able to accommodate about 600 guests. Of course in the season this place is full of tourists from Europe and the States and is pretty busy but this year these gentry are conspicuous by their absence. We got a guide and visited many places of interest but of course not very much can be seen at night. The city boasts a very fine tram service which runs in all directions and carries one a great distance for very little. The suburban train service too is very fine. We are quite close to the station and get into Cairo for 2 piastres, first class. I have not yet been in a tram. Cabs, motors, trams and trains seem to run all night; in fact many of the places of amusement do not open until after 10 or 11 at night. It is an eyeopener to us New Zealanders to note the number of cafés and bars. All are more or less open to the street and many of them have no other accommodation than dozens of tables right on the street. One may sit down there and very soon a black waiter comes along with almost any kind of drink one wishes. These outside places have not too good a reputation for the quality of their liquor so I have not yet tried them. There is a tremendous amount of French spoken here and one's knowledge of that language should be considerably improved. A party of men under an officer went to the Pyramids today and it is reported that parties will go every week. On Saturday we had a brigade parade before the Brigadier Col Johnston and it made a fine show. There were nearly 4000 of us. Our tents arrived just after church parade this morning and so all hands got to work on the pitching of them. It took us till late in the afternoon to get finished. Orders came out tonight for all but one company of our battalion to proceed to the rifle range daily for the rest of the week. It is about an hour's march from here to the range through the city (or suburb) of Heliopolis. This is an even finer part of Cairo than Cairo itself. It is the fashionable quarter and contains some of the most beautiful buildings, all of 5 and 6 stories and built on the Oriental plan with a balcony outside every window and large casement windows. The 5th and 10th Battalions of the East Lancashire Regiment are in camp at this place. The city itself is quite new as 6 or 8 years ago the desert had nothing where the city now stands and now it is connected with Cairo by two lines of trams. There is certainly a good deal of apparent prosperity about Heliopolis.
Wednesday 16th December
These last three days we have spent on the rifle range marching out daily from camp so the routine of this work has left little to chronicle. Tonight the 5th and 6th platoons under Flower and Morpeth are to bivouac on the range and so get an early start in the morning. The other two of us are to do likewise on Thursday night. We are being bustled on in order to be free for the annexation ceremony on Saturday next. On that day there is to be a big function in which most of the Australasian troops will take part. The new Sultan is to be enthroned on that date and henceforth the British flag will be Egypt's flag. Our range firing here does not come up to our NZ work but that can be accounted for by the different atmospheric conditions and also the peculiar desert haze always more or less present. When we get used to it I expect we shall reproduce our form. The range is a good one with a great amount of accommodation. It is right out in the desert.
Sunday 20th December
The great procession and annexation function did not come off yesterday as anticipated but a couple of our battalions went in to Cairo this morning to take part. The Auckland and Canterbury battalions remained in camp and attended Church parade. I cannot say what took place therefore but must rely on the papers for the news. All ranks were armed in case of trouble but none occurred. On the contrary everybody here seems delighted that the change has taken place and that now the good old Union Jack is their flag. The Egyptian flag is now altered from a red flag with crescent and star to a red flag with crescent and three stars. I went through the streets of the suburb of Zeitoun on Sunday and it was surprising what a great number of red ensigns and Union Jacks were to be found flying. I spoke to a number of people on the subject and although there was scarcely enthusiasm there was a general air of satisfaction. One French lady and her husband that we were talking to declared that she was no longer "Madame" but "Mrs" as she was British now. When we came to look round Egypt it seems remarkable considering the amount of French spoken, the number of French people, and the thoroughly French air about everything that the French ever allowed us to get a foothold like we have here. They were plainly not in a position to dispute it with us at the time. It seems as it there were a great future for the country. I am feeling a certain degree of pride already at being one of the "army of occupation" which helped to do it all. The comments of the papers on our Australasian forces are rather flattering, some of the papers declaring us equal in physique to picked British troops. On Wednesday next we are to march through Cairo with the whole NZ division but detailed orders are not yet out for that parade. This is Xmas week but drill and training continue just as usual. We are to have Xmas day off only. The first mail from New Zealand came in yesterday but the work of distribution is very slow. After anxiously waiting I got three letters, one actually in answer to a Hobart letter from myself. There were 168 bags of mail and only a small postal staff. The mails should come more regularly and frequently now that we are stationed here. An Auckland Weekly of Oct. 22 was eagerly devoured for NZ news. Orders have come out for parades for next week which gave us a bit of a shock. We are to rise at 4.30 and be out of camp by 6 am returning about noon and finish for the day. We dodge the heat of the day thereby so it has its points. I forgot to mention in connection with the annexation ceremony that we in camp here have been prepared in case of trouble ever since the proclamation was made. Our company was served out with ball ammunition and was detailed as an inlying piquet on Saturday from 4.30am to 4.30am Sunday. We had all to sleep armed and ready to turn out in an instant. Nothing occurred however to break the monotony and we were all able to sleep peacefully. Our horses were ridden today for the first time since arrival and are all in a very fine condition after their long voyage. To only lose 40 all told in 8 weeks was a feather in the cap of the several veterinary officers.
Wednesday 23rd December
We had the pleasure of turning out at 4.30am on Monday morning so as to be out of camp by 6.00, but the order proved to be a mistake, the 6.00 being a misprint for 8.00 so we were not at all displeased at the error. Of course there was something in its favour as we were free for the whole afternoon. Today has been a great day for us as the route march through Cairo of the whole NZ division took place. The idea of the thing was to impress the natives with the might of Britain to say nothing of Britain overseas. We paraded at 8.00am and the head of the mounted column moved off at a walk at that time. Then came Artillery and other units and we moved off at 9.00. We marched at ease throughout the march except when passing the saluting base at the Continental hotel. General Maxwell took the salute and with him was General Birdwood who commands the Australasian Corps (NZ and Australia). The New Zealanders created a very much better impression than the Australians much to the annoyance of the latter. Our boys marched along with a swing, full of conscious pride. It made our blood course somewhat more quickly when we realised our mission that day. There were we, a mere handful (but a superior race) in a city of nearly a million people of dozens of races and even creeds, all kept in their proper place by the benevolent might of Britain. We could be forgiven a certain feeling of pride in ourselves on such an occasion. A British resident told our major afterwards that they had been disappointed in our mounted men as they expected cavalry but that the infantry for steadiness etc. seemed to be quite up to the regulars they had been accustomed to in Egypt. The natives themselves were quite puzzled. They could not understand where all the troops came from. The line seemed to be unending. They had no idea there were such a number of troops in Cairo as most of them arrived at night. We marched all through the native quarter too and wended our way through the narrowest lanes and arches possible. Our column of fours quite filled the streets in these places. The buildings almost meet overhead and in each doorway squatting like the Maoris were to be seen traders in all wares. A great many people seem to get their food cooked already from the merchants who can be seen at the doorway every few yards cooking all kinds of oriental delicacies. I can't say I had any desire to sample them. Donkeys, dogs, cats and fowls seem to all consider they have an equal right to all that's going. For a variety of smells, mostly of an objectionable character, Whaka is not in it with these places. It was lunch time before we entered those parts but nobody wanted to stop for lunch until after we were well clear and once more in the open and fresh air. We returned to camp about 3pm after a route march of about 15 miles from start to finish. A good many were feeling the effects as we have not yet hardened up after the boat trip.
Thursday 24th December
Xmas eve and here we are in the great desert of Egypt. One can hardly realise that one is so far from home. From the weather point of view we might easily be in NZ. It is warm and dry in fact we have not yet seen any rain here. We are going into town tonight to see what is doing there on Xmas Eve. I sent off a cable today which should get to NZ about Saturday, I think. It is a pity that we cannot yet make use of our code addresses registered with Reuter's.
Xmas Day 1914
We had a church parade this morning but only a very few attended, most of the men having already left camp. Major Harrowell gave me an invitation to join him in a trip to the pyramids today and so I went as his guest for the day. We had lunch at the Continental and then took a car to the pyramids - a drive of about 10 miles along a good road. The road it is said was constructed in 3 weeks by a former ruler of this country who was expecting a visit from a queen of some other country and he wanted to make a good impression on her when he escorted her to the pyramids. We are thus treading country now that has been trod by many famous and more or less illustrious people. I believe the queen was favourably impressed with the beautiful road. The taxi drivers here seem to have no speed limits so we were not long in reaching the pyramids. We drove right to the foot of these vast structures and the "padded the hoof" around the sights. The pyramids themselves are certainly wonderful structures and quite up to expectations as regards size but to me it seemed a tremendous waste of labour and time making such affairs. Every block in the construction is a solid mass of stone which must weigh tons and all have been placed in position in some wonderful way. They had to be conveyed from quarries some miles on the other side of Cairo too, which in itself was a wonderful feat. The entrance to the tombs in the pyramids is a little way up the side and then a more or less gradual incline takes you into the King's chamber and thence to the Queen's chamber. The members of the royal family are also provided for in the way of small recessed in the walls of one chamber. Of course the whole place is in absolute darkness except for the poor light flashed by the candle carried by the guide. Most of the structure is in a kind of granite but the interior walls are usually of alabaster. The guide carries a roll of magnesium wire which he lights to show up the glitter of the walls. The heat and smell there are pretty bad too. These chambers judging by the direction we travelled must be in the earth at the base of the pyramid and not part of the structure itself. When we left there we visited the Sphynx. I was somewhat disappointed in it. It lies in a depression amid a waste of sand and altho' large, is not quite so huge as I imagined. The photographer is to blame, I think, because all published prints are from snaps taken from the foot. I took mine from the top of the depression but unfortunately moved the camera. Alongside the Sphynx is the temple of the Sphynx. This ancient building is built of huge blocks of granite about 10 feet long 4 feet thick and 5 feet wide. All the sides are beautifully true and would very easily take a polish again I should say. They are splendidly fitted together too. There are numbers of rooms in the temple all lined and floored with an alabaster which sparkles most beautifully in the light of the magnesium wire. The roofs are supported by huge granite columns. The outer portion is open to the air and I managed to get a snap of some of our party. After leaving the temple we had a camel ride and also stood for our photos to be taken on these great beasts. From the Sphynx we went to the Mena house hospital.. It is the Australian hospital at present but in ordinary times is an hotel at the foot of the pyramids. the Australians are camped alongside. One of our officers (a graduate of Duntroon) is at present in hospital with a broken leg, the result of collision with a motor. We returned to Cairo shortly afterward and then paid a visit to a native bazaar where we saw the most beautiful goods in brass, copper and silver, inlaid furniture and Oriental goods of all kinds. It was really beyond description. The manager of the hotel told us that Pierpont Morgan, Lord Kitchener, and many others are regular patrons of the firm. The prices seemed reasonable but still beyond my present resources. Before we leave Cairo I am going to pay another visit to that bazaar. Dr Craig and Major Harrowell both got beautiful coffee services in antique copper and silver work. I envied them both. The woodwork inlaid with mother-of-pearl and ivory took my fancy however and if I don't get some of it before I leave I am mistaken. We returned from there to the Continental again where we had our Xmas dinner. What a different one to the one I had anticipated! It was a good dinner too and I kept the menu card as a memento. Dinner was at 8.30 and we rose from the table about 10 and made straight for the camp. The service of these hotels is very good but at such times one is made to wait for a while between courses. This is perhaps a blessing though as the number of courses is rather a large one and one simply sits down to go right through. Thus ended our Xmas day in Egypt. During the week we were engaged in the usual training of which entrenchments occupied a good part of the time. We have been making some wonderful affairs too in preparation for the continent. I forgot to mention in connection with our trip to the pyramids that we were accompanied by two war correspondents from the Daily Chronicle and Telegraph. Both have just come from the front to Egypt in anticipation of trouble here. They are both of course very interesting fellows and were very free in giving their opinions on the war. They both confirm the stories of the atrocities in Belgium. They differ, however, in their opinion of the Belgian as a fighter. One of them considers that the Belgian is very much overrated as a fighting man.
Sunday 27th December
Boxing Day yesterday being Saturday we had a half holiday as usual but did the usual training in the morning. Today has been very quiet too with nothing to chronicle. The training for next week makes no provision for New Year's day so our work goes on as usual. I met the High Commissioner today at Shepheard's and had a chat with him. Capt Sinel and I visited Luna Park (a similar place to Wonderland of the Exhibition) on Sunday evening. We sampled the Scenic railway and water shoot and generally put in a good evening. The former is very fine and much ahead of the figure of 8. There is also a huge skating rink, the largest I have seen. It seems to hold hundreds. It was rather spoilt by the behaviour of some Australians who came in and got a bit drunk. These gentry as in S Africa have earned none too good a name and are disliked by most of the business people very much. I cannot help making comparisons altho' they are odious but our own boys are doing remarkably well here and are quite a credit to everybody they belong to.
New Year's Day 1915
A typical new Zealand day this is and but for the surrounding sand we might easily think we were at home. One cannot realise we are in the middle of winter. On Wednesday at 7 we paraded for inspection by the High Commissioner and the whole division from NZ went past in review order. It was a splendid sight and the first time we ourselves have really seen ourselves. This ceremony took till about 10.30 when our company returned to camp. At midday we left on a 10½ mile route march across the desert to the old Suez Road where we were to construct a bivouac for the edification of Sir Alex Godley. We reached the ground about 4, made our camping ground ready and got to work. We were all pretty tired and turned in about 7.30. My platoon was told off as an outpost picket and had to furnish 4 groups of sentries. These men had to dig themselves in and make themselves ready for the night. About 11 pm the General and staff arrived and inspected the bivouac. He found it very comfortable and said so. All hands were of course sound asleep. Then he inspected the sentry groups. H suddenly thought he would like to see an alarm and how quickly the men could get into the posts. He ordered the alarm signal and also two shots (ball cartridge) to be fired. The men turned out in record time and without a word and in 5½ minutes were lining the brow of the hill where our camp was. Then he set them to work to dig trenches and dig themselves in at that hour. He left before the job was finished and it was never completed. This is one thing the men love him for. We turned in shortly afterwards and had a good night's rest. We had a later reveille than usual and were exercised in tactical movements on the way back to camp. We arrived in camp about 1.30pm and finished then for the day. Today we marched out of camp again as usual and did a little company work about a couple of miles from camp and returned to camp about noon to finish for the day. Last night being New Year's Eve a party of us went to Shepheard's for dinner with some friends and spent a most enjoyable time. New Year's Eve seems to be the great night here much more so than Xmas. A few of us did a Maori haka at Tom McKenzie's request. It, of course, caused a great sensation. We left Shepheard's, which was crowded, about midnight and adjourned to the Continental for supper. We eventually returned to camp about 2.30am. Frightful hours for NZ but quite ordinary here. The supper room at the Continental was a sight to behold as about the end of the supper little balls of paper were handed round by the waiters, together with bonbons, crackers, squeakers and such like affairs. All these instruments were going at once so its effect can be imagined. The balls of paper were yards and yards long and were used to throw from one end of the room to the other. By holding one end the paper unwound and left a great festoon across the room. It was great fun entirely.
Wednesday 6th January 1915
Since New Year we have been continually at work at Company drill and training and doing all kinds of manoeuvres across the desert. The company goes out at 8 am each morning in full marching order and is accompanied by the Company transport. Each man carries his full 24 hours ration in his haversack and his water bottle full. This is the only way we can get water for our tea. We have not sufficient water carts at present for each company but as each water bottle holds a quart we can get a good supply from them. From a training point of view we could certainly not have been in a better place than Egypt. The amount of ground over which we can move is absolutely unlimited. We can move the whole division around and not know that anyone is near us. We carry our field firing on many days so that will give some idea of the area we work over. During the early part of this week I have been on the sick list with an attack of sand colic which knocked me out completely in a very short space of time but one recovers from it just as rapidly and I am now quite recovered from the effects. It gave me a holiday from work for a few days however. We had our first experience today of what this desert can be like in a gale of wind. I have been expecting every moment to have to make a dive outside to rescue the tent. the pegs do not get a great hold in this sand and very little will bring the tent about one's ears. The dust has been frightful and the company will be getting it pretty badin the desert. They left here at 8 this morning and do not return until tomorrow evening. They will bivouac out tonight. The doctor would not allow me to go as he thinks I am rather weak yet for such a long march. I have kept myself busy however with the pay rolls and books. Dodson returned from quarantine yesterday and is now out with the rest. We made a number of promotions in the company last week. Eight new lance corporals were made and I have supplied five of them: Giles, Holland, Tuck, Spencer, and another. The major has been very complimentary as regards the Rotorua boys and hopes that if we are to get any of the reinforcements into our company that come from Rotorua, that they are up to the same standard.
Sunday 10th January
The company returned from bivouac on Thursday forenoon after spending a wretched night in the open. The wind blew all night and sand and pebbles flew in all directions. The field firing which was to have taken place could not be carried out owing to the wind. The men could not keep their eyes open so their feelings can be imagined on the return trip against the wind. They were all jolly glad to be back again and I was thanking my lucky stars that I missed it. To make matters worse the previous night too the transport wagon with the blankets etc missed the road first and then got stuck in the sand with the result that it turned up about 8 pm. Nevertheless it is all in campaigning and everybody takes these things in good spirit. The following day I accompanied the company to the same area 8 miles out to complete the field firing. We carried out an attack practice using ball ammunition the whole day and returned to camp about 5 pm. That was my first day out on the march for a week so it was not a bad start. I felt no ill effects and am now quite fit. Yesterday we were again paraded for an address from the High Commissioner - and a very good address he gave us too - but he was quite non-committal as to the length of stay in Egypt. The only information was "when we are fit". Sir John Maxwell OC British troops in Egypt is to be the sole judge of our fitness. Sir George Reid and Sir John Maxwell were present but we were disappointed in not hearing either of them. Today we had the usual church parade in the morning and as usual a large number of all ranks are out sight seeing. Sinel and I stayed in camp today but for about three hours this afternoon traded on the good nature of Lieut Cameron and so did the sights of Cairo. We had a most enjoyable spin of about 15 miles right through Cairo across the big Kasr-el-nil Bridge over the Nile. This is a great sight on a fine afternoon as all the youth and beauty of the city makes use of it a s a grand promenade or as a kind of second edition of Rotten Row, London. The traffic is simply wonderful and you can easily imagine our feelings on a pair of fresh horses. The cabs and taxis cut things very fine and travel at tremendous speed. It is said here that one is fined for being in the way if one is unfortunate enough to be knocked down in the street and so far as the natives are concerned it does not matter much if one is laid out. We met a great variety of people out, and things too, for we passed a couple of funerals one native and the other European and a native wedding party. The last was exceedingly long and was headed by a brass band, which seemed to consider it its duty to make the greatest and weirdest noises possible to imagine. The bride was in a closed-in cab and was dressed in white but more than that I could not see. I was particularly interested at the moment in Sinel's horse, which was evidencing a great objection to native bands. The Kasr-el-nil bridge is a magnificent structure spanning the Nile (there are several) about as wide as the Grafton Bridge and about as long. One end swings to allow vessels to pass and the whole bridge is closed daily on that account from 1.45 to 3 pm. Of course during those hours these other bridges are open. We had our first shower of rain on Friday night and most welcome it was after the dust. It has made the desert quite hard now for a day or two. The programme for next week is pretty heavy and includes two series of operations against an imaginary Turkish force which has come across the Suez Canal. The Battalion will be working as a battalion all this week and next week I believe we are to be accompanied by the Artillery and operate against the Canterbury Battalion.
Tuesday 12th January
We have had two hard days' work at Battalion drill leaving camp yesterday and this morning at 8 am and returning at 5 pm. We were practising attack work against an imaginary force of Turks operating from the Suez Canal. There was plenty of running about and most of us got pretty tired before returning. We had a good deal of entrenching to do too. That seems an important branch of the work nowadays and we have to dig pretty deep. All the men have now been issued with the entrenching tool but in this country it is of only small use. The ground is too hard below the surface. Vaccination has been ordered for all ranks and every day a few men are detailed to be fixed up. The result is a sadly depleted company on parade. We marched 17 miles yesterday and about 15 miles today which is not bad going. Of course we can travel in a bee line almost anywhere. There are absolutely no obstructions in the desert. We ought to be able to hold our own at marching with any we are likely to meet. It is pleasant enough marching too.
Friday 15th January
Wednesday morning we left camp at 8am. as usual but accompanied by big guns and all transport. We had to start from a point about 6 miles from camp and proceed to drive the Turks back to Suez. Our company sent two platoons (Dodson and myself) out to represent the Turks and we were instructed to keep up a running fight until recalled. We did. The signal to cease fire came about 4.30 and we had been at it all day up hill and down dale. Sand, sand every where. We were now about 10 miles from camp. We then marched back about 2 miles to the waggons, got our swags and bivouacked for the night. We had our ground set out and then all hands set to dig trenches. All this in the dark. About 8 we turned in to be awakened about 12.15 by an alarm. A Canterbury scout had stumbled across our Battn. in mistake for his own and so alarmed the camp. All hands turned out and were into the trenches in quick time and there we sat for half an hour. About 5am again we had another alarm. A platoon of ours which had bivouacked out from us had come in to attack the camp. We had our breakfast shortly after and then in continuance of the scheme began a retirement for about 4 miles. About 10am I had to leave with 20 men for piquet duty in town so did not see the rest of the fun. The Battalion began the attack again from the point where I left them and advanced about 6 miles across country. They returned some distance towards camp but bivouacked for the night. More operations during the night and next morning and all hands returned to camp at about midday today. They are to get a spell now till Monday. I had a very tame time on police duty round every bar in Zeitoun, looking for crows which I could not find. We have very little trouble with our men in that respect. In Cairo where we come in contact with some Australian elements we notice the difference.
Sunday 17th January
This has been a great day for a party of 10 of us who went on one of the trips of Cairo. Capt. Sinel arranged with a guide named Hassan Ahmud to take us to Memphis and Sakhara and at 9am we met in Cairo. The guide for a sum of one pound per head in our case arranges everything and pays for everything. So our worries were very slight. We proceeded by train from Cairo to Badrashien about 20 miles up the Nile and our guide did his best to uphold his reputation for looking after us. At every station he popped his head in the window with the query "Any more beer? whisky? oranges? mandarins?" he was a bit disappointed in our drinking abilities however. He seemed to have an immense store somewhere. We reaches Badrashien about 10.30 and there each of us mounted a donkey and set out. The donkey boys run behind and keep the unfortunate animal up to the mark with repeated applications of a big stick. Some of the donkeys are good, some bad and some indifferent. I had a good one. We had a ride of about 6 miles from Badrashien and it was the funniest experience one would wish. The donkeys did not want to go. We did and so did the boys. So everybody was yelling and shouting. The boys belabouring the donkeys meanwhile. Our first stop was at Memphis one of the oldest places in Egypt. Here are two immense statues lying prone of Rameses II (The Great) and also the latest antiquity to be unearthed a smaller edition of the sphynx which was only excavated 5 weeks ago. The guide went into full descriptions of all these things but of course I can't attempt such a thing here. I could not help being struck by the wonderful expression and the great state of preservation in the statues. I have got a guide book which describes all these places and will post it to NZ when we leave here an mark in it all the places I have visited. We left Memphis per donkey and rode another 3 or 4 miles across the plain where everybody seemed to be busy. This part is all inundated for two or three months per annum and as at present the river is low the people make the most of things and work hard in preparation fro the flood. On leaving the plain we visited some 4 or 5 different temples, and ruins that are buried in sand but which have been excavated examined and removed. There were some beautiful inscriptions and drawing all of which were explained by the guide. It is quite wonderful and just like reading a page of some old fairy story to examine these old inscriptions. These latter are of course in the "hieroglyph" system and require a good deal of interpreting. We proceeded from one to another of these places per donkey and took in each place as we came to it. In one place - Somebody's tomb - we entered through a doorway and then proceeded down a tunnel about 3ft high and an incline of about 25º. The guide had gone on ahead with a candle but its light was little use to those of us behind as one of us entirely blocked the passage. This passage landed us in a burial chamber lined throughout with alabaster which sparkled most beautiful in the light of the burning magnesium wire. This latter is an indispensable article. From this chamber another low passage too us into a similar tomb. I might mention that some of these places date from 200, 3000, and even 400 years BC. Almost incredible when one thinks of it. It is really astonishing the advanced state their arts and crafts were in even at those remote periods. By far the most interesting place of all however was the Tomb of the Bulls (or apis). This creature was a sacred animal to the Egyptian people and when it died was buried with the greatest pomp and ceremony possible in a great vault. The whole of this great tomb is covered in sand now and it is of course in absolute darkness in the interior. On entering each visitor receives a candle and then proceeds. Just inside the entrance lies a huge block of granite with its side beautifully polished and squared weighing about 65 tons, and with a huge lid on it cut out of the same block of stone. These are the sarcophagi or coffins in which the bulls are placed before being placed in the vault. There are 24 of these tombs or sarcophagi into one of which we had a look. The inside is finished in the same thorough manner as the outside. The lids of all but the one we looked into are still in position except one other that was damaged by some of Napoleon's troops when he was here. They had evidently used some explosive to try and remove it. From this place we visited other tombs and sights of the same kind in the vicinity. Mariette's house was the next port of call. This is the late residence of a celebrated French scientist who excavated most of the tombs in the neighbourhood. It was here we were to have lunch and it was here the guide excelled himself. He had all the luncheon brought per donkey from the station but it had been cooked and prepared at Shepheard's. We had eggs (about 6 each) ham and german sausage, then onion pickles and bread and butter. Cold roast chicken followed and the whole was washed down by unlimited quantities of lager beer. We all did the lunch full justice and voted it the best we had yet had. Black coffee and a siesta complemented the programme. One of our donkey boys professed to tell fortunes for 1 piastre (2½d) and so Sinel and Dodson put him to the test. He started off with the usual formula and told both practically the same. They were both single but would marry into a good family after the war and return in after years with their families to Cairo. I tried him next but when he started off on the same track with me we voted him a fraud and demanded our money back. We returned from Mariette's house per donkey to Badrashien and carrying out cavaly movements en route. When we came to the village we all rode through at top yelling and whooping as we did so to the great amusement of the natives. The train journey for the attention we received from the guide was a repetition of the morning but more so and all hands arrived back in camp with the conviction that we had the best trip possible for such an outlay.
Wednesday 20th January
The work so far this week has been a continuation of last week's work all of it being battalion drill. Monday night we spent in the open returning to camp on Tuesday afternoon. The men are beginning to show the effects of the hard training and there are many complaints about sore feet. The boots we left NZ with are now quite useless and as we cannot get a sufficient supply of new ones all at once there are a good many men in camp because their boots won't permit their going out. The boots that have come from England are a first-rate article though and much superior to that supplied by the NZ contractors. There are all sorts of rumours abroad this week about our stay in Egypt. It is now said that we are not to form part of Kitchener's spring army but are to remain here on garrison duty for at least six months. Of course we can't say how much truth there is in it but it looks as if we were to be here for some time as large wooden mess rooms for the troops have just been finished and hot and cold baths are in course of erection. It will be a pretty warm job here through the summer if we have to remain. Certainly the camp is taking on the aspect of a permanent camp more and more each day. Word came today that the first reinforcements are due to arrive next week and will join us for duty at once. I am interested to know who is coming from Rotorua and Bay of Plenty districts as the will come to me. I have heard a few names of the men but have not yet seen the full list. The election results came in today and needless to say caused a good deal of discussion. The bare result of the national licensing poll had been obtained from the London papers.
Sunday 24th January
The Battalion work has continued during the week until Friday. Saturdays is always our off day but during the morning all officers of the NZ division were addressed by General Godley on the work to date. It is the first time we have been all together. This morning Dr Purchas asked me if I would like his horse for a ride so of course I said "yes". With Lieut. Morgan I went to have a look round the neighbourhood and among other places visited the Virgin's Tree. This is a tree under which the Holy Family are said to have rested in their flight from Egypt. The poor old tree is quite devoid of bark having had most of it removed by Goths of tourists cutting their initials in the trunk. There are a few leaves still at the top however. Alongside is a well of clear cold water which is being hoisted continually by a water wheel turned by a bullock. This water was brackish up to the time of the visit of Joseph, Mary and their child Jesus, but from that time it has been most cool, fresh and clear. I had a drink of it. The Roman Catholics have a church alongside which we visited. It is a very nice little building and has some very fine pictures depicting incidents in the flight from Egypt.
Tuesday 26 January
I am about the most disappointed man in Cairo today as I have been left at the base here for a few days while all the rest of the company proceeded to Ismailia and the Suez Canal for duty there. Word came last night about 6.30 that the Battalion was to proceed to that place at war strength for duty there and that in all probability they would be fighting the night of arrival and here I am. I was packing my traps to go too when the doctor came along and put his foot down on it. My recovery from the influenza is not yet complete and as I had a temperature of 101 last night he ordered me to bed at once. I don't think I ever felt more keenly disappointed than I was today. The men too seemed sorry as quite a number of them came along to say goodbye. It certainly is hard luck that I should have had them all along and yet the first chance of a fight somebody else has to lead them. There are very few left in camp as a base party - about 30 all told - a good many are in hospital but we don't see them. The men were delighted at moving off and seemed to talk all last night. When the news came that the infantry brigade was to go the bands began playing and everybody was singing patriotic songs. The last detachment left about 2 pm and as each half Battalion passed along the lines and down to the station the mounted men and artillery cheered them to the echo. None of the Australians have gone yet. It is said they are not yet fit for the front. I can't speak for this however. The Bandmaster was the only spare officer and he has charge of the Auckland base details. The battalion has gone away with 4 officers short - rather a serious matter. I hope to join next week although the major told me I was to take a fortnight and get properly fit.
Wednesday 27th January
Lieut Clareburt (the bandmaster) was left in charge of our base party and he and I have had a great time all day cleaning up the camp after the battalion had left. There was a great deal to do and as most of the men who were left were sick men it made it doubly hard work. However we got the place tidied up after a fashion. I was still feeling a bit seedy so was not of much assistance. The divisional Headquarters raised a bit of a row at the bandmaster being left and altho' I was assisting him they were not to know that. Had they known I was able to help there was a very big probability of my being made base officer and left here indefinitely so I lay low like Brer Rabbit. there has been no leave for any troops today or tomorrow as today is the birthday of the Prophet and tomorrow is kept also. Being a great man one day is not sufficient for him. Our men are not allowed out of camp because of the danger of trouble between the followers of Islam and themselves if any of them should laugh at the ceremonies which from our point of view might be somewhat amusing. There are great processions and religious ceremonies I believe and there is a tremendous air of sincerity and fervour about everything. I would like to have seen it very much.
Thursday 28th January
We have had a busy day all day as 104 tents had to be struck to send to the canal and with most of the men sick it was a contract. We had to get a fatigue party from the mounteds to help us in the end. Provision had also to be made fro the accommodation of the second reinforcements who are to arrive from midnight onwards during the small hours. There are 195 men and 5 officers coming to our battalion and in addition 132 men and 3 officers are coming for the Veterinary Corps to be attached to Auckland Infty. in the meantime. Dr Craig and the chaplain arrived from Ismalia tonight and report the killing of two of our own aviators by our own fellows. The Turks are also reported to have had a brush with our troops near Kantara - on the canal - The fight was some distance out in the desert however.
Friday 29th January
The reinforcements arrived during the small hours of the morning with Lieuts. Richardson, Peake, Bodley, Gillett and Devereux. The first is in charge. He wanted me to take it as the senior but I am too sick for that. I don't think. The men seem a good stamp. I had a talk with all the Rotorua lot and they tell me that the had the best reputation in Trentham. Their mates here have the same so we must keep it up. They made a much quicker trip than we did being only six weeks coming across. There was no leave for them today but I suppose they will now enjoy the same privileges as we have had in this respect. I met Major Mitchell of Southland who was Captain of the Clutha Rifles when I was in that company. He seems just the same as when I saw him last. The weather has taken quite a warm turn and will be a bit trying to the new arrivals, who are sure to be a bit soft for a week or two. The report of the Naval engagement in which the "Blucher" was sunk has given great satisfaction here. It will be a bit of a lesson to the raiders. Two of their other ships are reported badly damaged. It will keep them out of the way for a time at any rate.
Saturday 30th January
General Godley had an inspection this morning of the reinforcements but I did not go on parade. I had to look after the storage of all our kits which are left at the base. We have stored all in a house near to the camp. In the afternoon we took some of the new arrivals round Cairo to see some of the great sights of the city. We were very fortunate in being near the Sultan's palace as he came out for this afternoon drive. He, of course, goes out in full state with a mounted escort of about 24 men dressed in the bright blue uniform of the Egyptian Cavalry. We saw the guard turn out too and by their appearance they seem a very smart crowd. Opposite the palace is one of the many barracks in Cairo for Egyptian troops. The "Fall in" sounded as we were there so we stayed to see what was doing. It was evidently a recruits parade and it was indeed very interesting to see these squads of about 10 or a dozen men drilling for all they were worth under their NCO's. Of course all the words of command are in Arabic and quite unintelligible to us. Cairo was quite busy with all the new men in Khaki in town. Our own fellows were getting a bit tired of it and were not nearly such frequent visitors to the city of late. No doubt these new arrivals will feel the same shortly. Three more sick men came in from the canal tonight but so far all is quiet there. The fun many start any day. I must get well and get off down. All our books are to be left at the base so writing may be difficult.
Monday 1st February
Rumours are plentiful today of actions having taken place between our troops and the Turks but so far no confirmation. Major Dawson and Capt Graham came from the canal today, but knew nothing. They return tomorrow or Wednesday and I go with them. So far our chaps have done nothing out of the ordinary so I think I shall be in time. Have been executing a few commissions for our chaps today as all the troops are drilling about camp. Our Battalion is to be raised to war strength immediately by the addition of men of the second reinforcements who have just arrived. So they are lucky. They left about 10 weeks after us and get into the firing line as soon.
Wednesday 3rd February
Left Cairo at 11am today for Ismailia and arrived there at 2.15pm. Found all our fellows in camp standing by in readiness. They report that shells were falling about 5000 yards from our camp earlier in the day and when I arrived the report of the heavy guns could be heard. So it looks like business now. We are to sleep in our clothes tonight in full marching order and with one blanket and oil sheet in our packs on our backs. All ranks wear the same gear now. We have got quite used to these sorts of affairs and can sleep at almost any time and in any place. A number of Turkish prisoners came in tonight.
Thursday 4th February
The alarm did not come off last night and all hands had a good sleep. First thing this morning two of our aeroplanes flew over the camp on their daily reconnoitre. The enemy are said to have 12 of these machines - we have a good many too. It is quite a common sight here to see them in the air. These fellows seem to have attained a marvellous degree of efficiency in the air now. About 10am we got a rush order to move out with 24 hours rations to the trenches and in a few minutes' time we were off On the way we passed a Turkish spy being brought in handcuffed to an Indian soldier. The latter looked immensely pleased with himself. We occupied our trenches during the day but did nothing the whole time. We saw a regiment of Indian cavalry (lancers) moving out in company with 3 companies of Infantry to make a reconnaisance in force but nothing much is doing. They returned in the evening with about 80 prisoners and camels. We have quite a number of Indian troops with us, Sikhs, Pathans, Pioneers and Punjabis. They are all intensely keen and a fine stamp of men. We can hear the report of the big guns in the distance at times so there must be something doing at other parts of the canal. About six this evening word came for us to return to camp so back we came. We just keep in readiness, however.
Friday 5th February
We have just heard today of a small engagement down the canal from where we are. An Indian army officer died this morning from wounds received through an abuse of the white flag and 4 or 5 men were wounded. It is also reported that the Wellington battalion were in action and 58 of them were wounded. They have been taken to Cairo. One of the Canterbury men is reported also to be seriously wounded. So some of our fellows have had their baptism of fire. We have had to stand by all day in camp in case of an alarm. Tomorrow if anything happens we shall be out of it as we have to furnish the duties in camp. One company it seems will always do that unless every man is required then of course the duties will be found by a minimum.
Sunday 7th February
Yesterday was a quiet day. We had a bathing parade at the lake in the afternoon but we had to supply the inlying piquet last night so all hands had to sleep in their clothes and with boots on. There was no alarm however. The Turks seem to have moved their people to another part. Our airmen go up every morning and the sight of an aeroplane is becoming so common that we hardly look up now. Things seem quite quiet now.
Monday 8th February
This morning we went out for company drill. Our dress for this parade is in our shirt sleeves with web equipment. It is certainly very comfortable and with the heat here most necessary. The sand is very much finer than that at Zeitoun and consequently much harder to move about in. Last night at 6pm 7 and 8 platoons had to furnish the picquet line on the Northern side of the camp. It was a most lonely job and as the night was rather cold with a particularly heavy dew towards morning we had a cold time of it with only one blanket. I took my sleeping bag and was quite warm but shared it from 1am onwards with my Sergt Major with the result that from then onwards I was not at all warm. We returned to camp at daylight. This afternoon we had the usual bathing parade to the lake.
Thursday 11th February
The company has been going out on its own every day this week for training during the morning while in the afternoon all hands paraded to the lake for a swim. Training is reduced to a minimum at present and we are leading a most pleasant existence. Many of the keen footballers in the force arrange marches - mostly association - against the different regiments represented here and it is no uncommon thing for there to be three or four matches played on the one ground in an afternoon. of course the ground is hard - too hard for Rugby although we had a Rugby match today, which Major Stuckey refereed. In one corner of the ground there was an Indian guard and on making investigations I found that they had some Turkish prisoners and two Germans. The latter I could not see but the former were sitting on the ground, having a drink of tea from a jam tin and looking most dejected. These poor wretches have certainly been frightfully misled. The Indian guard were very pleased with themselves. I examined the rifles and bayonets of the prisoner and all showed signs of use. One rifle was badly damaged by a rifle bullet. The Turks use two kinds of bullets - one with a very sharp point and the other one much like ours. The Australians have sent us two battalions of Infantry and these are now camped alongside of us at Ismailia. They have no tents with them and are bivouacked on the sand. They are a very noisy crew and it is much to our regret that they are so close to us. Fortunately our chaps don't have much time for them.
Sunday 14th February
The usual routine work at present. The Turks seem to be off the earth so far as we are concerned. The aeroplanes are out daily but apparently can see nothing as we have done nothing. Of course their observations are confidential and we are not likely to get to know the result until some time after. Morpeth went off the other day to a battery post on the canal as a sort of guard and so far has not returned. From what we hear he is having a great time too as every passing ship contributes to their larder of their comfort in the shape of tinned stuffs and cigars and cigarettes. The men spend a great part of the time in the canal; we had the usual church parade this morning and general leave afterwards. Sunday is just as any other day in Ismailia. Much to the disgust of our men all the bars were closed here since the advent of the Australians but a few have since been opened under military license and supervision. Dodson and I went to the club for our lunch today to get away from the everlasting stew, stew, stew. This is about our staple article of diet as being the most economical. When we get our army ration of 1¼lbs of meat per day per man, ½ including bone it does not go far when boiled or roasted. When we get back to NZ I'm afraid stews will be much off.
Tuesday 16th February
Yesterday we were out as a battalion and in the evening had a night march across the desert. This latter was awful. Somebody made a mistake and got left. Then he tried to catch up and tried throughout the march. The fast pace played up frightfully with the men and on returning to camp all camp all hands were about done up. Morpeth returned with his platoon today after a week on the canal bank. He reports a good time. He relieved some Australians and he tells us that when he got there he found from the Battery people that one night about dusk these warriors began a regular fusillade at some wild dogs and of course alarmed every post on the canal. There was a bit of a row and they were returned at once. These fellows seem to have a tremendous hooligan element among them. The other day alongside our camp we witnessed a most disgraceful scene from their lines. A captain remonstrated with a soldier for molesting a native whereupon the whole crowd hooked him. Then another officer came to the rescue of the first and made an attempt to say something to them but the whole "mob" again silenced him by counting him out in true ringside style. Today they were all sent back to Cairo and when their Brigadier told them they were being sent back because of their behaviour in Ismailia and on the canal they counted him out too! Truly good discipline!! They have gone now thank goodness as their influence with our fellows was not likely to be beneficial. Sinel Dodson and I went down to the wharf this afternoon and had a look at the pontoons captured from the Turks. They are all very good affairs made of galvanised iron. They are evidently of German manufacture and bear in German lettering the inscription " No. - J H Constatinople." There were some 18 or 20 of them and all showed evidence of our marksmanship. There are rifle and gunshot holes everywhere. The programme for this week's training is the usual routine of Battalion training. All hands are beginning to feel the heat now which is becoming most noticeable and in this heavy sand of course is considerably more pronounced. We drill from 9 till 12 and then in the afternoon the usual swimming parade. Perhaps some work will follow about 7pm.
Sunday 21st February
Church parade this morning after which a Communion service was held in the open by the Herts Yeomanry lines. I could not go to the latter, as had to a take charge of the company during the absence of the Major and Captain Sinela and Dodson down the canal. They have gone out on a launch with a friend and will visit during the trip the site of the battle on the banks of the canal. All afternoon I have been busy reading through the correspondence of our company, signing each envelope and then passing them on to the regimental censor. It is a detestable job reading other people's letters I think, although it is very necessary. We were paraded yesterday to be informed that the censoring of all letters would henceforth be very strict as one fool had actually written some girl of doubtful reputation and nationality in Cairo and given all sorts of military information. Needless to say the letter did not reach its intended destination. We also received a message from General Maxwell thanking the NZ infantry for its services on the canal and the colonel announced that the efficiency of our force had been the deciding factor in our being sent to the canal before the Australian and many of the English Territorials. That is a feather in our caps. Incidentally it may be remarked that there is a very persistent rumour that the imperial authorities are very disappointed in the colonials with the exception of the NZ contingent. The Major and Sinel returned from their excursion down the canal about 4pm and report a great time. They visited the scene of the fight. The bodies of the wretched Turks are still being churned up by passing steamers and are being continually found on the banks. Sinel tells me they saw several. It is a most gruesome sight but one of the inseparable horrors of war.
Tuesday 23rd February
The last two days the usual battalion work in a broiling sun amid the glare of the desert. All hands are beginning to feel the heat very much. The nights are still cool however as they generally are in Egypt. Today the Battalion marched to Moascar about 6 miles out and returned about 4pm. It was a treat. The heat was terrific. Some of the Yeomanry cavalry left today for Cairo and there are rumours that we shall not be much longer in Ismailia. It has been a pleasant change although we shall all be glad I think to get out of it. It is a very pretty little place a feature of it being the numbers of beautiful avenues of acacia trees. Most of the European population is engaged in the Suez Canal Co.'s work or in the supply of the necessaries to them. There are over 50 pilots maintained by the Company in addition to the immense number of employees in the dredging and general work of the canal. French seems to predominate in the language here also although the pilots are of all nationalities - Greek, French, Italian and Egyptian. Doddy and I went out in the pilot launch one afternoon last week and put the pilot aboard "The City of Paris" bound to Bombay. There are always two pilots on the run through. One from Port Said to Ismailia then another thence to Suez. When one makes a purchase in Ismailia one is often puzzled at the change received for the coin tendered. It is no uncommon thing for one to receive English pence, French centimes, Egyptian, Cyprus Italian and even Japanese coins at one and the same time. Anything seems to be acceptable. Since we came here we have been attached to the 11th division under General Wallace. There seems to be a great number of generals kicking about here though.
Wednesday 24th February
The order came out today that we are to return to Cairo by Saturday morning, so there is much excitement in the camp, in consequence. Some of the others go back tomorrow. We are to be relieved here by two regiments of Ghurkas I believe. These are the troops that appeal to me most of all the Indian Troops I have seen. I would like to get a commission in the Indian Army and get into a Ghurka regiment, if ever I took up the business seriously. There are all sorts of speculations now being made as to the length of our stay in Cairo and our next destination. A great many believe it is to be the Dardanelles while there are just as persistent tales that it is England to refit before going to France. The former seems quite possible in view of the bombardment there at present. At any rate Alexandria is full of troopships so I don't think we are to be much longer in Egypt.
Saturday 27th February
All hands were early astir today. As a matter of fact we struck all the tents yesterday and bivouacked last night. Our train was due to leave at and bivouacked last night. Our train was due to leave at 10.30 for Zeitoun. The 3rd and 6th Companies were to go by that train the 15th an 16th following about an hour later. The whole of the Nile Delta is a network of railways and one can usually get to any place by two routes at least. We came back on a different line to the main line by which we went down. Throughout the whole journey no a hill can be seen, the whole country being as level as a bowling green. One cannot help being struck in passing with the great age of everything around and the little apparent change from Biblical times. With a very small stretch of the imagination one might easily be living in those times. The conditions of life of the natives seem exactly as we have read and pictured it from Sunday school days. The flocks and herds (sheep, goats, asses) are taken out daily to graze tended by a woman or boy, and led home again at night. Sometimes the shepherd goes ahead sometimes behind but wherever he may be the flock seems to keep on its way and keep together. There seem to be no fences in the country proper but every man seems to know his plot. The whole landscape looks like a vast Chinese garden, that is in the Nile valley wherever the irrigation system reaches.
Sunday 28th February
Church parade at 9 this morning as usual. A good muster too as we do not yet know what arrangements are to be made about leave yet. We are all back in our places with the position of our tents quite unchanged. Dodson and I are to share the same tent as previously. Have been feeling a it seedy today the result of a bad internal strain received at Ismailia last week. Felt it all week but so far have stuck to duty but today am taking it easy. Sinel and his party who were left yesterday at Ismailia to clean up the camp site returned to Zeitoun about midday today and he and Dodson are now in the midst of paying the men. It is a long job in which I generally have to assist but I have dodged it today. The others have gone to Cairo for a fly round its sights again. I must go in and get a new uniform as all I have left of my New Zealand one is the tunic which is almost beyond redemption. If we go to Constantinople new kit will be difficult to obtain. We have all been waiting till we got to England but that seems a bit remote now. Uniforms here cost just as much as in NZ and about the same as in England. it is rather queer they are not cheaper in the old country. There is still the same amount of speculation as to the date of our next move and our destination.
Monday 1st March
The two regimental doctors came and had a look at me this morning and decided that it was necessary for me to go to the hospital for the required rest and treatment. Much to my disgust and against my will I had of course to abide by the decision and pack my traps. The ambulance motor came for me soon after and soon whisked me off to the Australian General Field Hospital at Heliopolis. The building is the one I spoke of previously as being one of the finest buildings in Cairo. It was an hotel in ordinary times and has I believe about the largest accommodation of any hotel in the world - at least so it is said. It is most certainly a fine place. There are a number of Australian nurses and it is quite cheerful being here. I am in a room with two other New Zealand offiecers. Every two or three hours an orderly comes round with something to eat - of course in small quanitities. A nurse comes round twice a day and takes one's pulse and temperature and marks these down on a sheet. The doctor also visits once a day. I only need rest and expect to be out and back to duty in the course of a day or two. I am going to make a big bid for freedom before the end of the week. There is too big a chance of the others going without me if I don't get back soon.
Tuesday 2nd March
Passed a very pleasant night in hospital. It is quite a treat to sleep in a bed with clean sheets and so on after the hard beds in the sand that we have had of late. The routine today has been something like this. 5am cup of coffee. 5.30 and orderly makes the bed. 8am Breakfast: porridge, poached eggs, bread and butter and tea. 11am Doctor called; then cup of tea and biscuit. 1pm lunch: scrambled eggs, bread and butter and jam. Tea: rice pudding. 4pm afternoon tea: bread and butter. 7pm cup of cocoa 9.30pm another cup of cocoa. So one shoul thrive on this. During the day Mrs Johnston, wife of Col Johnston of the artillery called and had a long talk to us three in this ward. She left a paper too which was most acceptable. We like to keep in touch with the news and the bombardment of the Dardanelles is very interesting at present. The orderly to Capt Dobson came over tonight and gave us an account of the doings in the camp, during our absence. There are preparations being made I believe for departure but no orders have been received to move.
Friday 5th March
One day is much like another in this place. It is just a regular routine with nothing to break the monotony. We three patients pass the day in making up a menu for a meal which we would like. The meals one gets in the hotels are all mostly of French dishes and a good homely English meal is quite unbotainable. French meals are alright but one never seems to get enough to eat in one. We have had a few visitors to see us but there is still no news of leaving although the signs point in that direction. Capt Dobson got up oday and when the doctor makes his visit this morning I am going to "pop the question" to him about my getting up tomorrow. I am feeling quite alright but I suppose there will be a bit of shakiness on my legs after a week of this.
Saturday 6th March
No luck in getting up yesterday but will sound the doctor today. We heard this morning of various items of news that seem to point to England being our next temporary destination. I hope it is true. We had a visit from the Hospital chaplain yesterday. He is the chaplain to Wesley College in melbourne and has the rank of Colonel here. He gave us quite a bit of news. From him we learned that an English officer from the Canal had said the New Zealand Infantry were the best he had seen and that he says in the opinion of a good many. Certainly I believe we have added to our reputation since being there. The chaplain also told us that we had a much better chance of going to France than the Australians altho' there is no doubt we will all get there in my humble opinion. These outside opinions are however very pleasing. This place has a most glorious winter climate. Every morning breaks with a more or less cloudless blue sky. Rain is almost an unknown quantity. Only three showers since we came and then for less than half an hour. I have seen such a number of the English swallows of late too. They are very prettu little birds and just as I had imagined them to be from my readking. We have been wondering what move is in the wind as last night a tremendous number of troops went past here and again this morning a big body of Australian Infantry went past the Hospital. It is quite alright being here in some ways as we can look out of the window to the street and watch all the traffic. The trams stop just outside the gate.
Sunday 7th March
Same old routine. Dodson and Sinel came in this morning on a hurried visit as no one is supposed to call until the afternoon. It was quite alright to see some of our own fellows again. They report that there will be no move from here this week, so we sick men have a chance yet of joining up with them before they go. There is still no news of our destination though. The surgeon who has charge of my case is Colonel Syme, sho is I believe one of the leading surgeons in Melourne. There are really some fine medical men serving their country. He seems a very capable man with a very business-like air but very little to say. Giles and some more of my fellows came in this afternoon to have a bit of a talk. They stayed for about an hour and seem very anxious for my return.
Tuesday 9th March
The doctor gave me permission today to get up tomorrow for which I am indeed thankful. From all accounts the men ar4 having a strenuous time of it at present and equally strenuous times are in store for the next week or so. We are doing inter-divisional training with the Australian nd Lancashire divisions. The long sought mail is reported due in the morning.
Saturday 13th March
All week has just been the same old routine. I got on my feet on Wednesday and have been able to get out every day since. It is reported that the Turks are once more moving towards Egypt and are said to be laying a line to facilitate matters but we can't say how true it is. Perhaps the report accounts for our being still here as from all accounts there is now no chance of our moving from Egypt for a week or two. I am beginning to think from the NZ papers I have seen this week that you people know of things here before we ourselves. Our fellows have been issued with a thin drill uniform this week which looks as if we were to be in a warm climate. The warships are making progress at the Dardanelles and according to today's paper there is a French force now en route to that place so perhaps we shall be on the move soon.
Wednesday 17th March
I returned to camp today after my enforced holiday in hospital. I was very pleased to get back but am not going to do any work until the end of the week. The training this week has been mostly company work in the desert. Our working garb is now much more in keeping with the climate for tunics have been discarded and nearly all hands are wearing short trousers. The big divisional work has finished and the training is now considerably lighter.
Saturday 20th March
Dodson went into hospital on Thursday. He has been out of sorts for a little while and has now developed jaundice. It is jolly hard luck for him because it looks as if he will be left behind in the event of a move soon. I went across today to see him and don't like his colour. We have quite a numver of sick at present. Sergt Major Robertson, Gen Holland and Gen Taylor are all in Abbassia hospital at present. Sinel and I were calling on all the sick today and then went into Cairo.
Wednesday 23rd March
We have been doing company work all this week so far with particular attention to the digging of trenches and bayonet fighting. I retruned to duty on Sunday and have been put on one job after another every day since. On Tuesday I was detailed as a member of a Court martial in the Otago lines and had quite a busy time. There were a good many cases but all more or less trivial. In most cases they could have been dealt with summarily but the accused having elected the cour-martial it of course necessitated our being called together. I met some old acquaintances there for the first time for some years.
Thursday 24th March
We left camp this morning at 6am for a Battalion attack scheme to give the ambulance people a bit of practice in attending to wounded in the field. Major Stuckey was an umpire and Capt Sinel was required in camp so I had the company and the consequent pleasure of being mounted. As the mock battle progressed various men were put out of action with various wounds by the umpires and subsequently attended to as required by the Ambulandce people. It was a most instructive morning. We returned to camp about midday.
Monday 29th March
The Infantry Brigade marched out early on Friday for a big outpost scheme on the Tewfikia canal about 3miles from camp. The Brigadier inspected us during the day. It was a most easy day as we were in position at 10am and did not move afterwards until 4pm returning to camp at 5pm. A party of our Battalion and several of our officers left on Friday night for Luxor about 420 miles up the Nile and are due to return on Monday night or Tuesday morning. The Maoris arrived here on Friday night and are looking very fit. I have seen a number of the Rotorua crowd. The 3rd reinforcements came next day and Sinel and I being the only two Hauraki officers in camp have had a very bust time finding them accommodation etc. They came with a minimum of equipment but seem a very good lot. Today Sir Ian hamilton inspected the whole NZ and Australian Division under General Godley. The former is to be in command of the Mediterranean Experditionary Force (When got together). It was quite a fine parade and as the Colonel and second in command and Majors Stuckey and Bayly were absent at Luxor there were quite a numer of temporary promotions for the parade. Major Dawson took the Auckland Battalion. Unfortunately the day was very windy and with the clouds of dust blowing it was quite an impossibility to see anything of it. Sir Ian is reported to have been very pleased with what he saw and he certainly made a most thorough inspection of our ranks.
Thursday 1st April
The major returned with the others from Luxor on Monday evening and reports having had a splendid trip. i would like to make it myself but it is not likely another opporunity will occur for some time. orders are out for a big route march Monday of about 14 miles and all hands are to receive a good deal of practice for the next week. We were told today that we are not to remain in Cairo more than a week or so much to our dlight and that we would have a good deal of marching in country with very little water so that for the rest of our stay here we would receive plenty of marching practice with all kit and without the use of the water which is still to be carried in the water bottles. We did a route march of about 12 miles today but the prospect of the early move put more life into everybody. We left camp at 6am and returned about 11. The rest of the day has been free. Good Friday, tomorrow, will be a holiday from drill with the exception of a church service in the morning.
Friday 2nd April
Church this morning but the rest of the day free. Sinel and I went off for the day to do the Zoo and Cairo sights for the benefit of one of the 3rd reinforcement officers. On our return to Cairo in the evening we found things were "only middling" in one of the low quarters of the city. A huge crowd had collected too. It appeared that a row had started in a house and before long the furniture was being fired into the street and set on fire. The police arrived with the fire-brigade and put the fire out but in trying to quell the riot three or four men were shot. This set things going again and troops had to be brought into the city. Nobody seems to know what caused the trouble and Australians, New Zealanders and English Territorials were mixed up in the affair. It is a most regrettable incident particularly so close to our departure.
Sunday 4th April
All troops have been confined to camp since Friday night's affair but have heard nothing yet as to the cause of the trouble. We have got our orders now to move to Alexandria during the week probably Wednesday and we also learn that our Infantry Brigade with a signal unit and part of our Artillery and the Austalian Infantry of our NZ and Ausn Division are to be included. This force is now detached from the Australasian Army Corps and will henceforth be part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. We have to complete our Battalion to war strenth and be ready to move at any time. All leave has been stopped.
Tuesday 6th April
Word came today postponing for 24 hours our departure fixed for Wenesday night. Let us hope we are not to have a repetition of our Epsom experiences. We have been up to our eyes with war strength rolls etc since Sunday.
Friday 8th April
We are still in Cairo but are to leave in the early hours of the morning for Alexandria. Thence our destination is unknown, but presumably in the neighbourhood of the Dardanelles. We are to go aboard the troopship "Lutzow" a nord deutcher Lloyd ship captured in the Mediterranean at the beginning of the war. All our Battalion with half the Canterbury Battalion and all the Divisional Staff from the General downwards are to be aboard, so we are travelling in good company this time. There will be about 1700 aboard all told but the trip will only be of a few days duration so it will not matter much.
Sunday 11th April
We left Zeitoun about midnight on Friday night and arrived in Alexandria at 4.30 Saturday night and arrived in Alexandria at 4.30 Saturday morning. The train landed us at the ship's side and we all came straight aboard. The second half of our Battalion arrived about 8am. All day the work of loading went on and last evening we pulled out to an anchorage in the harbour. This is to be a most comfortable trip for us officers but the men are not too well off. The ship is a regular passenger liner running to Japan from Bremen and we fellows are all in first class state rooms on deck. Elecric fans in each cabin. Morpeth, Dodson and I occupy the same cabin, while some of the others have two berth cabins. The ship is quite a fine bessel and said to be the best in use by the Australasians. The men are however in the holds lying on the iron decks withour straw or anything to soften it down. They are much corwded too. The sleeping quarters are also the eating quarters. Alexandria is full of ships - nearly all troopships - containing British, French and Australasian troops. There are over a hundred vessels all told. It is really a most impressive sight and well illustrates the Allies' command of the sea as not an allied warship is in harbour. The USS "Tennessee" is the only warhip here at present. Many of the transports are ex German and Austrian vessels captured and interned in Alexandria at the beginning of the war. Some of them were here at the time we passed through previously. We don't know when we are to leave here but it ought not to be long.
Monday 12th April
We spent all day in the stream but the General came aboard about 5pm today and at 5.45pm we weighed anchor and with our pilot aboard set out from Alexandria. We don't know where we are making for yet but it is satisfactory to be on the move again. As we came out of the harbour we passed several vessels with native troops aboard - presumably Indians - and wildly cheered every ship we passed. There are so many ships in harbour it is almost impossible to cout the funnels even with a glass. Over a dozen have left the port within the last few days so it seems as if some concentation were taking place somewhere. Just as I wrote this the Major came along with a set of maps for us platoon commanders and gave us two each. As they are of the Southern portion of the Gallipoli peninsula there seems to be a good tip as to the landing place we are to make for. There is a persistent rumour that the Island of Lemnos is to be our advanced base, but we don't know anything about that. There will certainly be a rendez-vous for all our ships somewhere near there as at present we are just putting off from Alexandria singly.
Tuesday 13th April
We have been making steady progress all day across the eastern Mediterranean. We are sailing historic waters now. A steamer going South passed us today - the only sign of life so far. In the afternoon we had a parade in full marching order and received special orders about water bottles. We are to be filled up like camels with as much as and more than we can comfortably hold just before disembarking besides filling our bottles and the next water we get will probably be obtained as the result of a fight. Rather a pleasant prospect.
Wednesday 14th April
At 7am we overtook one of our transports towing several pontoons astern. She left Alexandria on Monday morning. We are now threading our way among the islands of the Grecian Archipelago and a most beautiful sight it is. During the day we passed what seemed to be one of our modern battleships making south. She hoisted a white ensign but we have not been able to make out her identity. In the vening we had a lecture from one of the Interpreters, Capt Hon Aubrey Herbert MP on the retreat from Mons, in which he took part. It was most interesting to hear from one who was in it, about this great retreat.
Thursday 15th April
At daylight this morning we entered the spacious harbour in the south of the island of lemnos. When we looked out over the vessel's side we found that the harbour was full of transports - French, British and Australasian and all descriptions of warships from the mighty "Queen Elizabeth" to submarines. Soon after breakfast we came closer in to an inner anchorage and passed close to nearly all these great battleships. It is certainly a most thrilling sight and one to stir the blood when we remember that all of these vessels have been actually engaged in the real thing. When our military force is got togethere and we all set out for the Dardanelles it should be worth seeing. This afternoon word came that the men were to make all possible use of the ships' boadts and could go ashore if they liked so Sinel, Dodson and I got one boat and crew ane went ashore to visit the small village nearby. It was quite a quaint little place with no sort of plan about it. There are only a few people in the place which is called Sarpi and all are of Greek extraction. We visited a Greek Orthodox Church and watched the service for a time and then passed on through the village. just above was a queer looking windmill so we had a look at it. Inside was a great stone which turned round on a bed and ground up the grain - barley and oats - most efficiently if rather slowly. We afterwards returned to the village and watched the wormen folk weaving cloth and winding cotton from the natural article into threads. The methods were most priitive but none the less interesting on that account. The sight of the green fields etc was like a tonic to all hands as they scampered about on them like youngsters. The villagers were most friendly and gave us bouquets of flowers. On the way across we were much interested in a few submarines which we passed going out to sea. It was a great sight to see the fleet of ships at anchor, when we were on the highlands above the village.
Friday 16th April
This morning we were on the go early at a disembarkation parade. The whole ship load were put ashore in the ships' boats. All hands had to go down rope ladderw and when the boats were full they made for a landing place about two miles away. The whole party were put ashore by 2.30pm but by that time a good many had been brought back on returning boats. Sinel and I got off together again and visited another village. This one was very similar to the one we went to yesterday but the people were a little more friendly. We saw many more young women, today, who were yesterday conspicuous by their absence. The places are much cleaner and generally in striking contrast to what we have been used to in Egypt. Some of the women were much interested in our binoculars and came up o us and made signs to have a look through them and were hugely delighted when we allowed them to do so.
Sunday 18th April
Yesterday and today we have all been exercised in desembarking in the boats by means of the rope ladders. It takes some time to get all hands over the side and by the time the last lot are ashore the remembarekation starts. Today being Sunday we started disembarking at 7am and as each company arrived obn shore it paraded for church service. The chaplain had quite a day out with six services on end.
Monday 19th April
Disembarkation practice again today but our company returned early arriving at the ship at about 2.15. Soon afterwards Dodson and I went off with a boat and crew to the "Queen Elizabeth" where we arrived about 4. We went aboard and were shown over the ship by one of the sailors. We had a look inside a big gun turret and had the whole business of loading and firing of the 15 inch guns explained to us. It is simply a marvellous place. The guns are tremendous. From there we were conducted to the different parts of the vessel and eventually finished up in the topmost fire control station away up the foremast. The whole ship is the last word in naval architecture and is entirely oil driven and most clean in consequence. We put in a most interesting two hours aboard. The war vessel which we passed on our way here we now learn was a merchantman converted to resemble the HMS "Tiger" and is one of several such dummy vessels made to resemble certain vessels of the Navy. The idea is to try to tempt the Germans into coming out into the North Sea. It turns out too that we had a narrow escape from a Turkish torpedo boat coming up here as a transport which came in after us had three torpedoes fired at her. The boats were manned and owing to an accident 24 men were drowned. The transport was undamaged. The Turkish torpedo boat was shortly after driven ashore and the crew taken prisoners by two of our destroyers.
Wednesday 21st April
We were kept aboard the ship all yesterday as there was a considerable wind blowing and a good sea running in the harbour making it too risky to launch the boats. Today has been wet and blustering and decidedly unpleasant. it is our first rain for many a day as in Egypt they don't know what rain is apparently. All our battalion officers were summoned to the dining saloon this afternoon where the scheme of operations was outlined by the colonel. We of the Australasian Army Corps are to land on the Gallipoli peninsula some miles from the end of it while other divisions will land to the North and South of us. Our particular object will be a ridge about two miles from the coast to endeavour to cut off the retreat of a strong Turkish force occupying the southern portion of the peninsula. From the information we have we should be able to do that all right although it will prove a tough job. The navy is to assist us and will be able to do so all along the peninsula although it is said once we shift the Turks from the lower part we will re-embark and proceed further north per medium of the Dardanelles. The ships assisting us with their guns are Queen, Triumph, Bacchante, Euryalys and another with sundry destroyers, torpedo boats etc. The destroyers are to be ussed to land the force as well as the boats. The "Queen Elizabeth" will be behind all of us with her 15 inch guns. So things certainly promise to be most interesting.
Friday 23rd April
We have been lying at an anchorage and doing practically nothing since Tuesday but tonight about 5pm our ship moved, too, to another anchorage outside the boom and near the harbour entrance. As we filed out past all the troopships and warships we cheered and were cheered by everyone. The national anthem of each ship as we passed was played by our band much to the delight of the French ships and the Russian cruiser "Askold".
Saturday 24th April
First thing this morning the troopships began moving towards the open sea. Then about 2 o'clock the mighty "Queen Elizabeth" left her anchorage and steamed out with her little following of destroyers. We lined the decks and stood to attention while she passed. The best sight of all was to follow when HM ships "Queen", "Triumph", "Implacable", "Euryalus", "London", "Majestic" and "Prince of Wales" with seven destroyers steamed out in line ahead and headed for the Dardanelles. Troopships and hospital ships have been moving out all afternoon. We are due to move about midnight tonight and tomorrow is the day for the first serious attempt to operate against the Turk. The Australian Division will land before daylight and we follow later in the day and if the play goes according to programme we should have made some progress by tomorrow night. I hope we get through safely and with the minimum of loss and trouble. It is a big undertaking however and we can only do our day and our best. General Sir Ian Hamilton has sent us a most inspiring message.
Sunday 25th April
At daybreak this morning the sound of a heavy big gun bombardment could be heard. The business had commenced. We were now almost abreast of Kaba Tepe our landing place. Before we came to an anchorage the submarine depot ship "Adamant" passed us and signalled the message to us "No news in particular but blowing the - to hell." This was very cheering. Soon after the troopship "Suffolk" reported that she had landed her troops safely at 2am. The din of the bombardment was by this time terrific. We reached our allotted place at 8.15am. The destroyer "Bulldog" ordered us closer inshore and reported that Col McLaggan of Australian Brigade had captured three Krupp guns. We waited instructions for some time and scanned the shore from which a continual roll of musketry reached us. It turns out that our landing was made a little North of the intended spot but fortunately so for us the Turks had a wonderful network of barbwire etc where we should have gone. At midday our Battn. landed in pontoons towed by destroyers, trawlers and pinnaces. Major Stuckey, Sinel and others were in first tow and landed first. I got left in second which broke adrift twice and caused some delay, consequently. I landed with 15 men (Hauraki) about an hour after the rest of the company. Couldn't find Haurakis when I got ashore so attached myself to 3rd Coy. We landed on an open beach and were greeted with a sight to try the nerves of the strongest - dead, dying and wounded men in all directions - the Australians who had landed at dawn had suffered heavily but performed a feat of which we were all proud in driving the enemy out of his position at all. The hills rise sheer from water's edge here and we all marvel at the Turks leaving their position. The bayonet was too much for them however and out they got. Their losses were pretty heavy. We moved up the hill to the attack directly we landed and most exciting it was. The Turks had four guns which kept up a pretty steady fire down over the hill to the beach. All the way up we were under fire from these but the shells fortunately burst in the wrong place, to injure us. We stopped halfway with the remainder of the 3rd Coy whom we were to join. Soon after the shrapnel started again and of a group of seven of us 6 were hit, 2 being killed, while I escaped unhurt. We were then ordered into a trench - really a Turkish one - where we stayed nearly all day. The shells and rifle bullets kept up an incessant shriek and rattle all day and the trouble is no enemy to be seen. Enemy snipers are most troublesome however. Our handicap is however a big one owing to the absence of big guns - the warships can't reach all the Turkish positions - particularly howitzers. The Haurakis are on the extreme left flank and with the 16th Waikato getting a bad time. Major Stuckey has twice sent for reinforcements but we can't spare any at present. Only part of our force has landed yet and our information is a little out as the enemy is much stronger than reported. The Australians did great work in scaling the cliffs and rooted the Turks out with the bayonet. They took the next ridge too but in doing so really went too far as by the time we caught up we were "pumped". We had all to fall back at night and take up a fresh position. Still we are ashore and no Turks will get us out now. Word has just come through that the 16th have lost all officers (one killed) while Major Stuckey is reported killed, also, - Flower and Dodson. Morpeth is wounded and nobody knows anything of Sinel. Our warships' fire is terrific likewise the enemy artillery. It has been a trying test for new soldiers but they are magnificent. Australasia can be justly proud. I never wish to see cooler or braver men.
Monday 26th April
Last night the fight kept on without letting up in the least. The Turks made several desperate attacks but we held them off each time. The left had to fall back once but we took up a position from which we cannot now be dislodged. There were only about 50 of us left of all units when we got the word to come back and one of our Auckland machine guns under young Massam of Opotiki was doing good work. We had a number of wounded men who had been there all day and this was the most pitiable part. These poor beggars' moans and requests for water being unbearable at times. After a great deal of trouble some of our chaps got them down the cliff to the beach but their sufferings must have been frightful during the process. Some attempt was made to dig ourselves in during the night with a good deal of success and our position is now much more secure. Rain came on before daylight and as all packs had been left on the beach most of us put in a pretty miserable night. By 8 or 10 this morning the blue sky was showing again and cheered us up. Sinel came in looking a wreck, mud-stained and with a twisted ankle and reports a frightful rime where he was. Major Stuckey severely wounded is on the Hospital ship; likewise Morpeth. Flower and Dodson are both dead and both died game and in the thick of it. Dodson was killed instantly. Flower died soon after being hit. We are to stay in reserve today and endeavour to collect the Auckland Battalion which has been pretty hard hit. From all accounts there is about half of it left. We started more digging again this afternoon and are to rest for tonight where we are. All day Hauraki men have been coming in by ones and twos from all quarters. They have been mixed up with Australians and other battalions all over the place. The casualty list although heavy is not so heavy as we thought. All ranks have proved themselves "sticker" and heroes and the Battalion has been complimented by the General for its part. The stretcher-bearers particularly deserve mention. They brought in wounded under fire and did what in many other wars would have earned VC's without a doubt. The British division which landed at the southern end (Cape Helles) is reported to have struck a bad time but got ashore alright. The barbwire which was absent here was particularly noticeable there and our chaps there are said to have crossed no less than 29 sets of entanglements. Whole battalions of Tommies were wiped out in the landing just as on our landing nearly the whole of the 3rd Australian Brigade was hors-de-combat. The British force landed tho' and like us will now take shifting. The French are said to have met with little or no opposition in their landing. The Turks keep up a pretty steady rifle fire all the time and first thing at dawn and last thing just before dark their artillery gets to work.
Tuesday 27th April
We spent a similar night last night to Sunday, the bombardment at dusk and first thing this morning. "Queen 'Lizzie" got to work on one battery this morning and the "Goodbye, battery!" New guns appeared in another spot and gave us "rats" all day. We gathered in all the Hauraki men we could find and mustered 99 out of our original 227. About 10am had to occupy a reserve defensive position and get to work trench digging. The digging proceeded merrily punctuated by shrapnel fire all day. When a shell was heard it was rather amusing to watch all hands "duck" for cover like so many rabbits. Fortunately the Turk shells can be heard coming and generally give one a second or two to get to cover. We had 5 men hit, all slightly wounded only, during the day and two more of ours came in. Late in the afternoon we had to get right away because of the shrapnel but back we came during a lull and carried on. It has its amusing aspect at times and all hands are already becoming adept at taking cover. We hear that the Turks have been driven back on our left today and our machine guns had a day's outing among them. Their snipers, who have excellent country for their work, are still very deadly. We have got some guns ashore now and an Indian mountain battery is doing great work as also our howitzers. It is a pity we did not have them at first landing. Today a shell struck the bank behind me and shot off past my shoulder bursting just in front and a little to the right. The concussion knocked me over and gave me a dickens of a scare. I though I was scorched by the flame from the burst while the din deafened me for a time but there proved to be no damage done. It was quite near enough to the next world for me for a while yet. These colonial boys of ours have proved great stickers and equally good as bayonet fighters. Australians and New Zealanders may be seen bringing one another from the firing line when wounded and are fellows that would go anywhere required. Our diet for the last three days has been bully beef, biscuit and water. We have not had a wash since we landed but Sinel and I managed to have a shave this morning using a tin lid for a glass. The colonel caught us in the act and thought it a great joke.
Wednesday 28th April
We waited for the usual morning salute from the shrapnel juggler, as some of our boys call this gun, but he was very mild this morning and he has been very quiet all day. We are wondering if our guns have got on to the battery as they were going strong last night. Our artillery which has now come ashore is doing good work. We have been all day digging and improving trenches. We sleep in these trenches with merely a greatcoat for cover as no blankets have yet come ashore. It is rumoured today that an Indian Brigade is to land and occupy part of our firing line. The Turks are awfully cute and are continually working the dodge of pretending to be Indians and approaching our lines but it won't work with us now. They also worked the white flag business today and yesterday but our orders are to ignore it entirely. They made an attempt at a charge in various places but it is not like our charges. They advance slowly calling "Allah! Allah!" all the time and of course pay dearly for their pains. It is quite a feast for the machine guns.
Thursday 29th April
Another quiet night and a quiet day so far. Whatever has happened to the Turk guns we don't know but they have been very quiet ever since Tuesday. We have been trench digging most of the night and sleeping during the day. The colonel had a conference today of the officers left and told us his plans for the reorganisation. Temporary promotions are to be made to fill vacancies but 2nds in command of companies are meanwhile abolished until the General approves of promotions. Perhaps my chance will come then. Sinel is OC of 6th until the major returns which we all hope will be very soon. A few more troops and guns have now come ashore and our position is now quite secure although I believe at one time it was pretty precarious. The worst seems now to be over. Thank goodness.
Friday 30th April
Still holding our main position while our reserve position is being gradually strengthened by our battalion. The Turks might in desperation make a dash towards us if driven back by the 29th and 88th Divisions at the south end so we are making our position stronger. Our job is now a holding attack. Turk shrapnel still rather quiet and a few more of our guns are now in position. It has been a big job getting them up the cliffs, roads having first to be cut. Our trench work still continues. Sergt Major Leech is now in charge of No5 platoon, Sergt Dittmer, No6, Sergt Major Moncrief No7, while I still retain No8.
Saturday 1st May
We had an early start this morning. The Turk shrapnel and machine guns started about 4am and bombarded our position for 3 and a half hours. It was just a little hell for the whole of that time and yet only two men were wounded slightly. Of course we had to hug the trenches closely. To make matters worse the enemy included a few lyddite shells this morning. We were required to move out at 7.30am being relieved by the Naval division while we in turn relieved the Canterbury Battn on the extreme left flank. We got into position about 2pm. My own left is on the sea beach and as the Turks are very quiet here sea bathing can be the order of the day. We stand to arms at 4am daily. The Turks most inconsiderately keep up a constant rattle of rifle fire all night in this region and the echo against the cliffs is intensified immensely. There seems to be a certain amount of fear about their shooting. One of our 18 pounder gun teams nearly lost a gun today. They were sniped at and left it on the beach but an escort went out this evening and got it into position. The gun team should hear of it again though.
Sunday 2nd May
One week since landing and such a week! Thank goodness I am still able to tell the tale. An alarm was raised during the night by a man from No 6 being shot. We had to stand to arms until daylight but nothing happened and we completed our interrupted sleep after 5am. It has been a beautiful day which most of us spent between sleeping and bathing. An attack is to be made tonight but we are only in reserve.
Monday 3rd May
The attack came off last night but not much good was done. The naval bombardment began at 7pm and the din was terrific. Those poor Turks got fits and we could see them with our glasses running in all directions from their trenches. Those big naval guns kept it up for half an hour when the infantry took up the running. Our fellows made a good advance and captured two ridges and caused heavy loss to the Turks, although Otago and Canterbury suffered somewhat. Otago had to retire from their position. All night, firing, attack and counter attack kept us alert and the din was awful. Turk prisoners report that their losses were terrible and that they are bring driven forward at the point of the sword and revolver of their German masters. This morning the Turks opened with some new guns on the 68 transports in the bay. One collier was hit but tugs kept her afloat until she got to the island. Another was just touched and it was rather funny watching all the ships moving off shore while shot after shot was landing near them - playing a sort of hide and seek game. It is suggested that they are from the Goeben and it seems as if a warship were responsible as they come in pairs as if from a turret and they are also pretty big shells. "Lizzie" came along soon after the start and got to work with a few 15 inch shells which put an end to the shooting. It is quite amusing to hear the fond terms applied to this huge ship. She is already the pet of us all. A little Turkish village inland from us was suspected and rightly so it turns out, of harbouring a wireless plant so "Lizzie" came along and put one shell into it. Exit the village. During the night a landing party from Canterbury Battn went off in a destroyer to an observation station along the coast and captured 17 men and killed 4. The Turks used to shell every trawler and lighter that came in but that little game is now knocked on the head by the capture of this post. The Troopships now lie much further off shore since the big shells came over. The sum total of our losses so far in the bay amounts to one trawler which was sunk in the shallow water close to the shore and landing stage. The troopships will soon be clear of all stores however and will then get out of the bay.
Tuesday 4th May 1915
Last night our battalion had orders to hold itself in readiness to proceed to any part of the firing line at a moment's notice. The 3rd and 15th moved off about 8pm while we remained with the 16th on the beach. We were not required so spent the night on the shingle of the beach. There has been nothing much doing all day so we have had a lazy day.
Wednesday 5th May 1915
Yesterday afternoon we and the 16th left for the firing line to relieve two comps of Wgtn Rgt. All night was spent in the trenches but the Turks were not much in evidence until the usual bombardment at dusk. They then expend a fearful amount of ammunition firing at our trench for no apparent reason. We keep under cover and take no notice. Before dark I had a few shots at occasional Turks who showed themselves above the trench. Our chaps have been doing quite as much sniping as the Turks today much to our advantage. They have been quite bucked up in consequence. It is most exciting. First thing this morning a naval contingent relieved us and the NZ Brigade was ordered to concentrate on the beach. We are to move off tonight somewhere per transport or destroyer and try some new move on the Turks. There is not more than 2/3 of our brigade left now, I believe. We were glad to get out of these trenches as the stench is vile from the dead in the gully between the two lines; neither side has been able to remove its dead from this gully so far.
Thursday 6th May 1915
Left our division headquarters last night on a punt to pick up a destroyer waiting in the offing but cruised round the bay in a bitter wind for 5 hours looking for her. Found her at 12.45am and got aboard. Were packed into the mess deck where the Tars gave us hot cocoa and bread and butter. They were all most anxious to do what they could for us. The cocoa was the most delicious I have tasted. At 4am we disembarked from the destroyer at Cape Helles and marched up to our bivouac. We are now attached to the 29th Division under General Paris. We are general reserves for the present and had to start digging in at once for shelter from shrapnel. At 11am our advance was to take place. French on right British on left. Guns began a bombardment and as we have 100 guns with us apart from battleships the din can be imagined. It was a treat tho' to hear it and the Turks were bustled considerably. We gained a good deal of ground on both flanks tho' the centre did not progress as rapidly. We had quite a quiet time of it ourselves. Sinel arrived about 4pm this afternoon. We are now camped at the entrance to the Dardanelles and right opposite the ruins of the ancient city of Troy on the Asiatic side.
Friday 7th May 1915
A bitter night and without blankets we all felt it. The big guns got to work about 2am but we were not called out altho' most of us were walking about to get warm during the night. We are all in readiness to move at any moment. The guns are to start talking at 10am today and we will then try a further advance. At 2pm the NZ Brigade was ordered to move to the left flank in support. A general misunderstanding somewhere sent us up too near the firing line and back we came and circled round behind a hill to eventually dig in as we thought for the night. At 8.30 we (Ackd Battn) were in motion again to the trenches and took up our position for the night on the right of some Indian troops. We are at present in support about 1000 feet from the firing line.
Saturday 8th May 1915
A quiet night. On the move again at 10.30 this morning . We are to go right through the firing line and take up a new position in front. Busy work ahead of us now. We are at the foot of a hill (Achi Babi) which is the main objective of our attack. Said to be one of the keys to the position of the Turks.
Sunday 9th May 1915
Yesterday we started our forward move, at 10.30 and directly we came out of our trench came under fire. We crossed an open paddock in fours and not one was hit altho' bullets fell in all directions. We came to a bank behind which we had a breather then on again and they managed to stop my career with a shot in the thigh. It stopped me but fortunately hit a purse containing a collection of foreign coins which deflected dropped down to my knee and burnt me slightly. I returned to duty today again. The boys got ahead in great style under an awful fire and took up a new position. They retired at night on receipt of a bogus message and lost a great many. Our company went in 120 strong and came out with 55 men. A terrible price to pay. The casualty list of our officers is 26 and only 4 of us are now left. Sinel and I in 6th; Ward in 16th and Major Bayly 15th. I missed the greater part of the show but I hear the boys were great as before. The NZ brigade is dwindling gradually but fortunately most of them are only slightly wounded. The colonel was twice hit likewise Major Harrowell. The day was worse than our first one.
Monday 10th May 1915
We were got up during the night to reorganise the battalion as 200 reinforcements arrived here yesterday. 44 for our company. The battn. mustered 268 out of our original 1000 and the brigadier has asked us to reorganise with the full complement of officers and NCO's today. Major Bayly is now temporarily in command. Sinel is second and I am now in command of the Hauraki Coy. My extra star will now come, I suppose. The day has been quiet. news came today that Antwerp, Liege and Ostend had been retaken by British also of loss of Lusitania.
Tuesday 11th May 1915
We have been digging and improving our dug-outs all day and have been annoyed during that time by a more or less continuous hail of spent bullets from the Turks. It is very trying to the nerves. At 8pm tonight we are to be relieved in the trenches by a Lancashire Division and the whole of the NZ brigade is to retire for a rest some distance from the firing line. We will be thankful.
Wednesday 12th May 1915
The Battalion moved off to time last night but en route got split up with the result that we had to bivouac near the landing place and find our way back to HQ this morning. It rained during the night and made things unpleasant. We arrived at our old bivouac about 5 this morning where we are to settle down for a day or two at least. Major Young of Wtn Regt took over the Battn today and relieved Major Bayly. Sinel comes back to 6th and I am now OC 15th North Akld Regt Coy. Such are the changes and chances of this mortal life. I would rather have remained in Haurakis but promotion cannot be refused. The reorganisation of the company is going to prove a big job as all old rolls etc have been lost, temporarily at any rate and all hands being strangers increases the difficulty. I have two 3td Reinforcement officers with me as platoon commanders.
Thursday 13th May 1915
Still in bivouac and no prospect yet of a return to the trenches. Reorganisation work still in hand. The Turks still annoy us here with their shrapnel fire. They send their shells anywhere and everywhere seemingly unaimed with the expressed intention of annoying us. We set out for the beach this afternoon to have a swim but had to return as the Turks were shelling all along the beach from Asiatic side. Their batteries there take some locating.
Friday 14th May 1915
More reorganisation work. Another attempt to have a swim but had to run the gauntlet of shrapnel again altho' we succeeded this time. A little bit of drill and exercise today otherwise most of the men are sleeping and resting. A big mail came in today mostly stray stuff from NZ and parcels via London. The letters much to our disappointment were only English ones. All hands are anxiously looking for a fresh NZ mail. The "Goliath" was torpedoed in the straits last night and a good many lives lost. Our people seem to be marking time just now and most of the big warships have for the present disappeared. The "Lizzie" has gone to Malta.
Wednesday 19th May 1915
We have been doing a great deal of fatigue work since last Friday having to rise at 2.30am every alternate morning, proceed to the beach for road-making in preparation for big guns to be brought ashore. There is still no word of our going back to the firing line. The Turks keep on sending shells near our lines much to our annoyance but only occasional bullets find a billet. Three of our men were hit with shrapnel bullets returning from the beach.
Thursday 20th May 1915
Last night the NZ Brigade left Cape Helles for Anzac cover - where we first landed. It was to have been a two hours journey but when we reached the cove we could not be landed and it was eventually noon today before we landed. Occasional shrapnel fell near us and the latter while on the trawler we came along in. Tonight our battn has to support the mounteds and will bivouac near their trenches. On Tuesday the Turks made a great attack and charge directed by Gen Von Sunders but were driven back by the mounteds. They lost about 7000. We hope they make another tonight.
Sunday 23rd May 1915
We are still in bivouac in the shelter of the reserve gully and up to the present nothing has come through as to future movements. On Thursday we were on inlying picquet as a support to Mounteds but nothing doing. Returned to camp at 5am Friday. Saturday was very wet and unpleasant as our bivouac is in a rather clayey soil. Our life in the dugouts is most amusing and it is really astonishing how quickly we have settled down to this rabbits' existence in holes in the ground. nevertheless it is the only safe guard against shrapnel. Today we had a church service in the open followed by HC which was most impressive under the peculiar circumstances under which it was held. The bullets and shells were whistling overhead the whole time.
Tuesday 25th May 1915
We had an unusual and sad sight, today, when the "Triumph" sank before our eyes having been torpedoed by a submarine. All the other ships fled for safety while one of the battleships fired a shot or two. The destroyers were going at top all round the bay and made a great fuss. So far as we can learn no sight of the sub was seen. It is most regrettable losing this ship like this. We have also learned today of Italy's joining the fray. There was an armistice (granted on Turks' application) for 9 hours from 7am yesterday to bury dead. The Turks lost a tremendous number. The absence of firing was most pleasing today.
Thursday 27th May 1915
This morning news came of another disaster to one of our ships, the "Majestic" but so far no details available. Still in the reserve gully and nothing doing but fatigues. Inlying picquet tonight. The recommendations for promotions went before the General today. Should hear of mine by Saturday.
Sunday 30th May 1915
We are still in the reserve gully leading the quiet life supplying fatigues etc principally. This afternoon one of my subalterns Lieut Simpson, in charge of fatigue roadmaking was killed by a stray bullet. Very unfortunate affair. We buried him shortly afterwards. The colonel told me today to put up my third star, the order having gone astray for the appointment; however, I don't yet know the date of it. It dates back somewhat though. Seven other appointments of subalterns have been made to the Battalion.
Wednesday 2nd June 1915
Moved out of the rest gully this morning into general reserve to Canterbury battalion on "Quinns post." This forms the apex of our somewhat triangular position and was the scene of a big attack the other night. The Turks' trenches are only about 8 or 10 yards away in one place. An ideal spot for bombs and many are being used to some purpose. One of our mortar (Japanese patent) is doing great work. They are the finest thing of the kind going. Have to stand to arms at 3.30am daily now.
Thursday 3rd June 1915
The King's Birthday. I hope his next is more peaceful than this. We relieved Cant Battn today in the firing line. I have Nos 1 and 2 sections of the post. 100 men in all. Our chaps using bombs and periscopic rifles to some purpose. Great sport, and bad for Turks. This is a 24 hour job and no sleep tonight. We will probably change over again tomorrow. I hope so. Rather nerve-wracking altho' not nearly so as in the rest. gully where one could not get a return shot at anybody. Capt Fraser and Lt Woolley of our Battn wounded first day; returned this morning.
Saturday 5th June 1915
Cant Battn relieved us yesterday at 11 and we returned to reserve gully. Orders came last night for an assault to be made on a Turk position about 20 yards to our front. We were to be in reserve. The assaulting parties were 30 men and 1 officer from each of Cant and Auckland Bttns. The storming parties got over easily and captured 50 or 60 prisoners. Then went the working parties and made an attempt to secure the position. We too about 100 yds of trench. Just on daylight I was sent in and by that time the Turks were beginning to stir us up. They bombed us and we bombed them but they were too good for us and we had to retire. Bombs were fearful and caused a terrible havoc among both sides. Luck still stuck to me and I managed to come out again unscathed. The prisoners were very glad to be taken and one actually embraced me as he passed me on his way down to the beach. We were obliged to evacuate the trench by 7 on account of enfilade fire from Turks and were glad to come out of a most awful position. The only inconvenience I suffered as the result was a slight deafness from a bomb going off overhead. We stayed in behind our original position, all day, but were sent down to bivouac about 4pm this afternoon. No sleep for 2 nights so none required much rocking. We are to stand to arms at 3.30am.
Sunday 6th June
Returned to Quinns post at 11am today for 48 hours this time. Very quiet all day but post is most disagreeable in parts. Turks 40 yds away and snipers deadly.
Monday 7th June 1915