December 10th, 1914
Today we were told to pack our kits preparatory to leaving camp. To say we were excited but poorly expresses our feelings.
December 11th, 1914
Today we paraded mounted, and rode to Wellington, where we embarked our horses on S. S. Verdala, Troopship No 13. That night we slept aboard and it was a bit of a change from camp.
December 12th, 1914
Today we paraded on the wharf, and then marched to Newton Park, where a review was held. The streets were crowded with people, who cheered us enthusiastically. On our return to the wharf we immediately embarked. The wharf was crowded with people who cheered us and gave us God speed, as the boat pulled out from its moorings. We are anchored for the night in the harbour, and we are very disappointed with not being allowed to go ashore, but at the same time we are very glad that at last we are on our way to the front.
December 13th, 1914
We are still anchored out in harbour, and the boys are casting longing eyes towards the shore.
December 14th, 1914
We sailed from Wellington early this morning on our way to the front, my only regret that I was unable to say goodbye to mother, sister and brother, but perhaps it is for the best, as farewells are always very painful.
December 20th, 1914
We reached Hobart this morning, after a rather rough trip. We had a route march through the town this afternoon, and the crowds were very patriotic, and gave us a great welcome. An old lady, who was bent with age, and whose hair was silvery white, marched at the head of our column, carrying a big Union Jack. It put me in mind of the poem “Barbara Frietchie.” In the evening, although we were tied up at the wharf, we were not allowed ashore until the infantry broke loose from the “Willochra”, and then we were allowed on the wharf.
December 21st, 1914
We were allowed leave today, and I went to town in the evening. Hobart is a very pretty place, and the people treated us real well.
December 23rd, 1914
We left Hobart this evening. The weather is fine, and the sea smooth.
December 28th, 1914
We reached Albany after a lovely trip. Xmas Day was spent very quietly, and I wonder what events will occur by next Xmas.
This is a cold desolate place, and no leave is being granted, but by the look of the place, we are not anxious to go ashore. The bay is full of transports with Australian troops aboard.
December 31st, 1914
We left Albany today, together with fourteen large Australian steamers. Our only convoy is the Australian submarine, AE2 There are three N.Z troopships, the “Willochra” with the infantry, the “Knight of the Garter” with the artillery, and the “Verdala” with the mounted. We lost a horse today, making a total of five lost so far. The weather is beautiful, and the sea is a deep blue colour.
January 3rd, 1915
I saw a lot of flying fish today. The weather is lovely, being hot during the day and cool at night. I feel sorry for the poor horses. They have to stand the whole time as there is no room for them to lie down. I am learning semaphore signaling. My thoughts continually fly back to those at home, and I wonder when, if ever, we will meet again. I sleep on deck at night, as it is much too stuffy down below. All the lights of the seventeen steamers are in view tonight, and it is a splendid sight, and I am sure it would be an eye opener to the Keiser if he could only see how the colonies are responding to the Empire’s call. Some of the Australian transports are captured German steamers.
January 4th, 1915
It is very hot today. Another horse was thrown overboard today, making a total of six.
January 6th, 1915
It is still very hot, and though we are wearing scarcely any clothing, everyone is doing a good sweat. We greased and cleaned our saddles today.
January 7th, 1915
I had a very restless night, owing to the intense heat. How some of the boys can sleep below in their bunks beats me altogether, as the ship is like an oven. The sun sets very quickly, it being quite dark at six o’clock.
January 8th, 1915
Today the weather is beautiful. The sea stretched away like a sheet of glass, with an almost imperceptible swell. My arm is badly blistered with the heat. The sunset tonight is lovely. If it were possible to produce it on canvas, it would not be credited as real.
January 9th, 1915
It came onto rain at half past two this morning, and those of us who were sleeping on deck got a good ducking. It has been raining nearly all day. One of the horses went mad, but an injection of morphia quietened him. We are having a wild night, but the sea is still calm.
January 10th, 1915
The weather cleared up during the day, and it became very hot. Trooper Campbell of Otago, died this morning, and he was buried at eight o’clock tonight. All the troops paraded on deck, and there is no doubt the burial service at sea is a most impressive sight, the bugle sounding the “Last Post”, as the body was dropped overboard.
January 11th, 1915
It rained heavily during the night. A horse died today making a total of seven lost. A boatswain on one of the other boats died today, and all the boats stopped at six o’clock while he was buried. All troops stood to attention.
January 12th, 1915
It rained during the night in torrents. It is dull and windy today and the weather is much cooler.
January 13th, 1915
Today the weather is beautiful. We reached Colombo at 8:30 in the morning. To us who were having our first sight of the East, it appeared a pretty sight, especially the natives in their many coloured costumes. Catamarans were objects of great interest to the boys, and the steering oar the size of a tree made us laugh. Colombo has a very pretty harbour, and there is a great deal of shipping. I was very much surprised at the absence of wharves, and it is all the more surprising as it is a busy shipping centre. No leave was granted ashore, so most of the boys made up their minds to go on their own account, sliding down ropes into native boats, and being rowed ashore. About half past nine, I signalled with an electric torch, and a boat crept alongside. I scaled down a rope, and although the police on our boat called out to me to go back, I took no notice, but got into the boat, and ordered the natives to row me ashore. Being night time, I couldn’t see much of town, but it has some good buildings, and the surroundings are extremely pretty. I eventually found some of the boys, and we had a really good time. We got back to the steamer at five o’clock in the morning, and we were self satisfied with our little outing.
January 14th, 1915
Beautiful day. We are still in port, but we are anchored outside the breakwater.
January 15th, 1915
We left Colombo about ten o’clock this morning. It is a fine day, and the sea smooth. The sunset is beautiful.
January 17th, 1915
It has been very windy today, and the sea was a bit rough. Beautiful starry night.
January 18th, 1915
Fine day, and a smooth sea. Stood to attention today for a burial from one of the other ships.
January 19th. 1915
We paraded today in full Marching order. I think we will have an uncomfortable time in Egypt wearing these heavy clothes.
January 20th, 1915
We stood to attention for another death on one of the other transports.
January 21st, 1915
A big two funneled steamer was sighted in the distance today. The submarine went to investigate, but she proved all right.
January 22nd, 1915
Beautiful day. Stopped this morning for another burial.
January 23rd, 1915
The weather is still holding good. At seven this morning we sighted high rocky ground on our starboard bow, which eventually turned out to be the rocks on which the Aden forts are built. We anchored out in the bay at ten o’clock, and proceeded on our journey at half past five this afternoon.
January 24th, 1915
A horse died today, making a total of eight lost. We also stopped for a burial from one of the troopships. We were all vaccinated today. We passed some small rocky islands.
January 28th, 1915
We arrived in the early morning at Port Suez. The beautiful blue sea, with the sun sparkling on the water, a cloudless sky, and the sandy plain stretching away into the desert was a scene which really defies description. We anchored out in a large bay, and from native boatmen we bought cigarettes. We heard rumours that there had been a fight on the Canal.
January 29th, 1915
Beautiful day. We left our anchorage, and entered the Canal at 10:30am. We paraded and saluted a big British Warship. Parties of Ghurkhas and New Zealanders, busily entrenching, lined the banks of the Canal. We anchored for the night near a French warship, in a large lake.
January 30th, 1915
We left our anchorage at 9:30am and reached Port Said at seven this evening. No leave is granted, but no one seems anxious to go ashore. It is a very cold night.
January 31st, 1915
The town looks rather good viewed by daylight and we feel sorry we cannot go ashore. Saw a large hydroplane out scouting. Parties of musicians and singers came out in boats. We left this afternoon at half past two.
February 1st, 1915
The weather is fine. We arrived in Alexandria about 9:00am, and so ended our sea journey, after a splendid trip. Egyptians looked strange to us in their loose flowing clothes. After tea, nine of us got down a rope into a native boat, and were rowed ashore. We had a great time and got safely back to the steamer.
February 2nd, 1915
We left Alexandria by train at half past nine today. It was a funny sight to see the natives scrambling for a penny. We arrived at Zeitoun about seven this evening.
February 3rd, 1915
We had an easy day in camp. The camp is pitched on a large sandy plain near Zeitoun and Heliopolis, and is about eight miles from Cairo. A suburban railway runs within a few minutes from camp and train journey to Cairo takes a quarter of an hour. The train system is excellent. The cars are very comfortable, and are fitted with electric light. I went to Cairo in the evening, and had a good time. There is no doubt this city is an eye opener to the boys. The lower quarters of the town are exceptionally low, and crowds of the boys feasted their eyes on practically naked women, who exhibited themselves on their balconies, and called out to the troops – “Come on New Zealand”. The people here don’t seem to trouble much about morals, and as Kipling says, “East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet”. But I suppose it’s not our place to criticise the customs of the East.
February 4th, 1915
It was bitterly cold last night. Went to the city this evening. The Egyptian quarter of Cairo is a fine city, and there are some fine buildings.
February 7th, 1915
I went out to the Pyramids today, and there is no doubt they are wonderful.
February 19th, 1915
We have been having a fairly easy time in camp, and I have been to Cairo nearly every evening. In fact it’s the only way to put the time in. There are some good picture shows in Cairo, and there is a variety show, called the Kurs-aal, which is a long way ahead of Fullers. One can smoke in there, and if one is thirsty there are waiters to supply drinks. We were out having full operations on a large scale today, but to my idea the officers have a lot to learn.
February 20th, 1915
Went to town today with the boys, and we had a good time.
February 27th, 1915
Most of the Infantry returned to camp today from the Canal. It appears the fighting there was only a very small affair, as there were only about three thousand Turks, and the New Zealanders took practically no part in the fight. It is my idea the Turks were relying on a rising in Egypt.
March 2nd, 1915
I had a game of football today, and I wasn’t too fit. It was pretty hard work running on the sand. It is a very noticeable thing that although Egypt practically belongs to England, there are very few English civilians here. Lieut. Palmer told me today that I have been attached to troop No 3 of the main body.
March 6th, 1915
We went for a night march last night, and finished up with some field operations.
March 8th, 1915
We marched over to a village near the camp today, and practiced street fighting.
March 15th, 1915
Today, we left camp mounted, and trekked out to a place on the Nile called Barrage. It is an extremely pretty place. The bridge is one of the engineering triumphs of the world, and is indeed a great piece of work. It controls the rise and fall of the Nile.
March 16th, 1915
We took the horses out for exercise today, and swam them across the river. We would have liked a swim ourselves, but it appears there is some insect in the water, which is very injurious to health, so we were ordered not to go in the water.
March 17th, 1915
We returned to our camp at Zeitoun today, after a thoroughly enjoyable time.
March 22nd, 1915
A big review of all the colonial forces here, was held today in the desert near our camp. There were clouds of locusts about, and no one would credit the sight unless they were to see it for themselves. At times they were that thick, that although it was a bright sunny day, it looked just like evening.
March 29th, 1915
A big review of all troops were held today by Gen. Hamilton.
April 2nd, 1915
Today is Good Friday. We were given a full holiday, and the majority went to Cairo. A big riot came off today. Some troops had an argument in a crook house with inmates, and the row soon assumed big dimensions. Furniture was thrown out of windows on to the road below and burnt. The red caps fired on the crowds, and I believe there were some casualties. It is a good job we were not armed, or we would have wiped out the red caps. Anyhow, they had to make themselves scarce, or they would have been torn to pieces. This riot is known as ‘the battle of the Wasser’.
April 3rd, 1915
A big haka was given today at Zeitoun by the Maoris. Generals Birdwood and Godly being present. It was the first time I had seen the haka danced properly, and it was a sight well worth seeing.
April 5th, 1915
There was a big row at the picture theatre in the camp this evening. There have been several boxing contests held there lately, and it appears they were only fakes. Tonight the contest was so plainly a fake, that the boys got wild, and set fire to the building.
April 9th, 1915
I went to town today with our troop to patrol the town. We patrolled Cairo from 9:30pm, till midnight, and it was very interesting as we went through the quarters I had not previously seen. The Maoris have left camp, and I believe they have gone to Malta.
April 11th, 1915
I went to town this afternoon, and paid a visit to the Kurs-aal, and saw a splendid programme. The audience was composed chiefly of French, Italians, Greeks, and well dressed Egyptians.
April 20th, 1915
I met with a slight accident today. Mr Palmer’s horse kicked out and caught me in the right knee, and as I swung round to get out of the way he kicked again and caught me in the left knee. I dropped, and felt very sick. It was lucky he missed both knee-caps. I was carried to the hospital, where it was found no bones were broken.
April 21, 1915
Although my legs were very stiff and weak, and I could scarcely walk, I came out of the hospital today. Trooper chamberlain, of Auckland mounted was buried today.
April 28th, 1915
All troops were mobilised today. Although my knees were very weak, I managed to mount my horse. As I think there will be an early move I don’t want to chance being left behind. The camp wears a very deserted appearance, as a couple of days ago the infantry left for an unknown destination.
May 5th, 1915
We trekked out to the Barrage last Monday, and returned today, after having a good time.
May 7th, 1915
We were told today that we are leaving here tomorrow en-route for the Dardanelles. Everyone is of course very much excited.
May 8th, 1915
I have been busy all day getting things in order. We have volunteered to go as S infantry, but we hope the horses are sent after us. The Colonel gave us an address, and told us that our infantry had suffered heavily in landing on the Peninsula, and that the Turks had mutilated a lot of the wounded. He said that we must make sure that every Turk we passed is a dead man. We entrained at nine o’clock tonight, and the train pulled out of the station at 10:15. There was great excitement at the station. Our band came down and played us away. Some of the boys who were left behind were broken up at parting from their comrades. There is no doubt a great many of us will never see Egypt again, but we are all of the same mind, and that is, that we will all do our best.
May 9th, 1915
We reached Alexandria at four thirty this morning, and embarked on the “Glentully Castle”. The day is beautiful. The boat sailed from Alexandria at 7:30 this evening.
May 10th, 1915
Beautiful day, and a smooth sea. We are. We are sailing tonight under masked lights.
May 11th, 1915
The weather is fine, and the seal like glass. We passed several small rocky islands. There are plenty of British destroyers about. I can hardly realise that we will soon be in the thick of fighting.
May 12th, 1915
The weather changed last night, and it was cold and wet. We anchored at the entrance to the Dardanelle’s at five-thirty this morning. There were plenty of transports, cruisers, and a couple of hospital ships in sight. There was very heavy firing just after dinner. Through the glasses we could see the remains of a fort which had been blown to pieces. We got under way again at three-thirty this afternoon, and proceeded further up the coast. We anchored again at five o’clock. Shortly after, we were taken ashore in torpedo boats. Dusk was falling and the hills near the shore were a blaze of light with the heavy firing, and it sounded like Hell let loose. One of our boys was hit in the shoulder with a spare bullet. I felt excited, and in fact I suppose all the boys felt that way, and we all thought we were going straight into action. We had heard that our troops were well inland, but here they were just holding the ridge above the sea. The place looks to me as though it ought to have been impregnable, and it is marvellous how our boys have driven the Turks before them. We scaled the side of a very steep hill, covered with scrub, and here, with our feet propped up with a bush to keep us from slipping down, we are resting as well as we can.
May 13th, 1915
There was heavy rifle fire without cessation all night, and sleep was out of the question. Firing was going on all morning, and we could hear the warships bombarding the forts further south. We left our position at dinner time, and then proceeded along the beach, and up a very steep path to occupy the trenches on top of a high ridge. We relieved the Nelson Naval Brigade (English), and they were all out of the trenches before we got there. They appeared very glad to get away, so it must be a very hot spot. We have been well bombarded with shell and rifle fire all the afternoon. There is an awful stench from our own, and the Turkish dead. There are plenty of dead lying just outside our trenches.
May 14th, 1915
Last night it was very cold in the trenches. The Turks several times put over star shells to light up our position, and then gave us a great bombardment. It was a perfect Hell. We have been under fire practically all day. We could see the warships in the Bay firing searching shells after a Turkish battery, which they were unable to locate. I have been shooting all day into the Turkish loop holes, but don’t know whether I scored a hit or not. The Turkish snipers are splendid shots.
May 15th, 1915
There was nothing important doing today. The Turks are still bombarding our position.
May 16th, 1915
In the morning we were working on trenches, enlarging them to allow a big gun to be brought through. During the afternoon we watched a British warship putting shells on to a hill where they suspected a Turkish battery. Late in the afternoon I went on a prospecting stroll for curios on a ridge of the hill where we are now entrenched. I found hundreds of used and unused Turkish cartridges, and it must have been a stronghold of Turkish snipers at the landing. The ridge is thickly wooded, and I came across the dumb signs of one of the gruesome sidelights of war. First, I came across an empty water bottle, then an entrenching tool and a bayonet. Next I found an empty tunic sleeve which had been saturated with blood, and nearby was a blood stained field dressing. I then found a linen bag which is used for carrying the rations, and which was all bullet holes, and there were also colonial cartridges lying about. I did not come across a body, but the things must have belonged to a wounded New Zealander, who had been badly hit, and who was evidently trying to reach the beach.
May 17th, 1915
I was in the firing trench all night. A sniper continually put bullets into the parapet of the trench where I was keeping watch. During the afternoon a British warship bombarded Anfarta village; and it was a splendid sight, During the afternoon, Captain Bluck and Sgt-Major Mars were shot dead by a sniper or snipers while they were taking observations. As I had been on the same spot five minutes previously I reckon I had a very narrow escape. But the snipers were probably after officers.
May 19th, 1915
In trenches all night. We were heavily bombarded from midnight till half past one, then the Turks attacked the right of our position, with shrill cries of “Allah”. They bombarded our left for some time, and at half past three they launched a heavy attack, but if they had pressed on they would have got into our trenches, as we couldn’t have shot down enough of them, as they were in great numbers. I was standing up between Penman and Marshall see Epitaphs . First a bullet carried away the bottom of my cap, and the concussion knocked me to the bottom of the trench. Just as I got up again, Marshall got a bullet right through the body. Almost immediately, Penman was shot through the temple, and I had his blood and brains splashed all over me. He sank down without a sound. I was holding my rifle in front of me, and a bullet smashed through the woodwork. If it hadn’t been for the rifle, I would have got the bullet in the forehead. A few yards further along, Thompson was shot through the back of the head by a sniper who had managed to get behind us. Northcroft heard a noise behind him, and on looking round was shot through the head.. Suggate turned out to be a perfect waster, and lay at the bottom of the trench, and it was his fault that Thompson and Northcroft were killed, as Suggate was supposed to watch from the end of the trench to se no snipers crawled around. The Turks were completely repulsed, and things quietened down about ten o’clock. At three in the afternoon we put up a heavy covering fire for Wellington to attack the Turks. The charge did not come off, as it would have meant the loss of lives, and the Turkish trench wouldn’t have been much good to us if we had got it.
May 20th, 1915
Nothing of importance today. The Turkish dead are lying in heaps, and the stench is awful.
May 21st, 1915
In trenches all night. Yesterday evening, two Turks advanced with a white flag. They said they wanted armistice to bury their dead. About a dozen Turks walked behind them with their hands held above their heads. As it was fairly late, and as the Turks commenced massing in the valley to our left, it was plain that treachery was intended. The flag bearers were taken into the trenches, blindfolded, and taken to headquarters. The rest of the Turks were quickly disposed of by us opening fire. In Wednesdays fight it appears that the Turks were under the command of German general—von Sanders, and the Turks numbered thirty-five thousand. The Turks appeared to lack leadership.
May 22nd, 1915
We were relieved from the trenches yesterday evening, and went to our rest camp, which is composed of a lot of dug-outs on the side of a hill. While I am writing this we are under shrapnel fire, and several of our boys have just been hit. It was raining this morning, but cleared up this afternoon.
May 23rd, 1915
Had a good spell today. Everything quiet.
May 24th, 1915
Had an easy day today. An armistice was granted to the Turks to bury their dead, and not before time, as the smell is awful. The Turkish prisoners say the German officers have told them that we were black, and that we were cannibals.
May 25th, 1915
I started last night on a 24 hours sapping job, in shifts of four men on for two hours on, and four hours off. These saps are practically trenches which we are digging out towards the Turkish lines. It is a very dangerous job, as owing to the underbrush the Turkish snipers are able to crawl about. They can easily locate us, as they can hear us using the pick, and it is very easy for them to throw a bomb at us. The place smelt absolutely rotten, as several feet of dead Turks protruded into the trench. To make it more uncomfortable it rained during the night. During the afternoon we were very sorry to see the sinking of the “Triumph” see appendix 5, which had been torpedoed by a submarine. Crowds of destroyers were traveling backwards and forwards trying to locate the submarine, but it managed to get away. The last we saw of the “Triumph” was her floating bottom upwards, with her keel visible.
May 27th, 1915
The Warship “Majestic” was sunk last night by a submarine, probably the same one which sank the “Triumph”.
May 28th, 1915
Have just put in eight hours sapping. We are losing a few men every day from snipers and shrapnel.
May 29th, 1915
Last night the Turks gave our trenches a solid bombardment, but as we were in the rest camp we missed it. The Turks with the aid of bombs, succeeded in taking a trench which was held by Australian infantry, but this morning the Australians recaptured it, losing several men. Today I have been working hard road marking.
May 30th, 1915
The Turks have been bombarding our outpost all day, and we are standing to arms in case they require reinforcing. Two destroyers shelled the Turkish position, and it was a good sight. The sunset tonight is glorious. We went out last night to reinforce the outpost. My section was put on sentry, and we lay out in the scrub, watching for the Turks. It was a trying time, but all was quiet. Today, through field glasses, we could see two naked bodies which had been stripped and thrown out of a trench by the Turks. They were probably Otago boys, as Otago had held the trench but had to fall back as the trench was no good to us. Everything is quiet today, not a shot being fired, which is unusual after the bombardment we have daily been receiving.
June 1st, 1915
Today was very quiet. We changed our sleeping quarters owing to too much shrapnel coming in and getting a lot of our boys.
June 2nd, 1915
Beautiful weather, and a very quiet day. Four or five of our boys were shot by snipers. In my sisters last letter she hopes I am have plenty of amusement. Well, the amusement we are having is plentiful enough, but it’s the kind of amusement I’m not too fond of.
June 3rd, 1915
I was out trench digging today. A warship was putting broadsides into a Turkish position, and it was a grand sight.
June 4th, 1915
To judge by appearances it seems as though there is a big fight coming off. The Turks gave us a great bombardment in the trenches tonight, but we are well used to it by now, the only things I don’t like, being the bombs.
June 5th, 1915
We left the front trenches tonight for the rest camp. Very quiet today.
June 6th, 1915
Helped Mr Ruddock with his things down to the beach today, as he is leaving for hospital. We are in the reserve trenches tonight.
June 8th, 1915
In front trench all night. Things have been very quiet, scarcely a shot coming from the enemy. I hear two spies were taken out and shot yesterday.
June 9th, 1915
Spent last night in rest camp, but came up to trenches tonight, and I have been very busy sapping. There us a horrible stench from the dead just outside our parapet, and maggots are crawling on the ground. Cigarettes are proving good friends in the trenches. Reading matter is very scarce, and it is a hard job putting in time.
June 10th, 1915
Quiet night last night. We left the front trench this afternoon, and went into the support trenches.
June 11th, 1915
Left the support trenches this afternoon, and went to the rest camp. Hot and windy today, but it is very cold tonight.
June 12th, 1915
Quiet night. Two or three of the boys were killed on Thursday night by snipers. The top of Collison’s head was practically blown off. The Turkish bullets, if fired at close quarters, turn over as soon as they strike, thus making very bad wounds. The weather is still holding good.
June 13th, 1915
I was in the support trenches last night. An attack was expected, but the Turks must have thought better of it. Today the Turks shelled our trenches with a new gun. It is very deadly, and we cannot hear the shell coming. I went into the front trench at four this afternoon. One of our aeroplanes flew over the Turkish position and dropped some bombs. We can always hear an aeroplane before we can see it. We hear the whir of the engine, and then we see some white patches in the sky. These patches are bursting shrapnel shells, and then a small black speck is discerned, which turns out to be an aeroplane. A beautiful sunset tonight.
June 14th, 1915
I came out of the front trenches today at three o’clock, and went to the rest camp. At tea time the Turks put shrapnel on to us, and four of our boys were hit. There was heavy artillery fire this morning.
June 15th, 1915
Went into the firing trench this afternoon. Everything quiet.
June 16th, 1915
There was heavy firing towards Gaba Tepe, but otherwise everything quiet today. It rained slightly this morning. I came out of firing line and went into rest camp.
June 17th, 1915
Nothing doing during the night. At stand to arms this morning, between four and five o’clock we heard a Turk singing. He has a rather good voice. I was on ammunition guard for twenty four hours.
June 18th, 1915
Left the trenches this afternoon and went to rest camp.
June 19th, 1915
Quiet day today. I had a read good wash, which needless to say, I badly needed. Up in the trenches we get only enough water for drinking, so washing is out of the question. Occasionally we managed to get down to the beach, and although the Turkish snipers fire at us, and often find some one killed, we thoroughly enjoy our swim.
June 20th, 1915
Came back safely to rest camp this afternoon. Beautiful sunset.
June 27th, 1915
I put in eight hours sapping last night. Towards morning the Turks' artillery opened on our trenches and gave us hell, especially with their new quick firing gun. This gun is deadly, and fires a shell every three seconds. They are different from other guns, in that an ordinary shell can be heard coming, but the shell from this gun is noiseless in its flight, and the first thing heard is the explosion of the shell. In the bombardment this morning, our trenches were badly smashed, and there were a lot of casualties.
June 29th, 1915
Today the Turks put in a heavy bombardment, but they didn’t do much damage.
July 1st, 1915
It rained in torrents last night, which made things very uncomfortable, but the weather cleared up today.
July 2nd, 1915
I went into the firing trenches today
July 3rd, 1915
Things are very quiet. It rained during the night.
July 6th, 1915
Everything quiet. The smell of the dead Turks is awful
July 9th, 1915
The weather is extremely hot, and I am not feeling too well.
July 10th, 1915
It is very hot today. Things are very quiet, and except for the occasional crack of a rifle, or the boom of a heavy gun, one would hardly credit there was a war on at all. The smell of the dead is absolutely rotten. I am sick of the monotony of it all, and will be very glad when it is all over. I very seldom wear a shirt now, and I am getting as brown as a berry. Watched a warship putting big shells on a Turkish position, and they must have given the Turks a bad headache.
July 11th, 1915
Things still very quiet, although a cruiser put several broadsides into the Turks.
July 12th, 1915
We opened up a heavy firing on the Turkish position this morning, to prevent them sending reinforcements to Cape Helles, where the allies are attacking the Turks. The warships put in a fierce bombardment, and it was a fine sight.
July 13th, 1915
I was on sentry in a tunnel which leads out towards the Turkish lines, last night. There was a heavy fire maintained on the Turk’s position last night. We were inoculated against cholera today.
July 15th, 1915
The weather is keeping beautifully fine. The Turks are keeping very quiet, although there is heavy firing towards Achi Baba.
July 16th, 1915
Left the firing trenches today for the rest camp.
July 20th, 1915
I was inoculated against cholera again today.
July 22nd, 1915
We have daily been expecting an attack on our positions. It is the Turkish feast time, and today is their Constitution Day, and they have received 100,000 reinforcement's therefore we are all in readiness.
July 25th, 1915
Went to church service this morning. One thing that I really enjoy here is the sea bathing. It is a pretty dangerous pastime, owing to the Turkish snipers and shrapnel, but the pleasure is well worth the risk.
July 26th, 1915
Went up with sapping party today. I worked down a tunnel, trucking out the soil. The tunnel runs out from our lines, and then along the front of our position, at a depth of about twenty feet, and is used as a precaution against the Turks, undermining our position. One of our party was killed by machine gun fire.
July 28th, 1915
The weather still continues fine and warm. There is every indication of a big move shortly.
July 30th, 1915
A beautiful day. Everything is quiet except for the occasional snap of a snipers rifle. In fact, sitting up on the hillside, and gazing away out over the broad expanse of deep blue sea, and under a cloudless sky, one can scarcely realise that a few hundred yards away lurks death and destruction. The beauty of the scene is indescribable. A Turkish aeroplane flew over our position, and dropped a couple of bombs, but luckily they fell into the sea. I was very much surprised this afternoon when I was informed that I was picked to form one of Gen. Hamilton’s bodyguard.
July 31st, 1915
Left ANZAC by steam trawler early this morning, and arrived at Imbros island about nine o’clock. Saw a large swordfish on the way across. The island appears barren. After a long march in the burning sun we reached camp, only to find that we had come to the wrong place, so after dinner we had to march about three miles, and eventually reached the headquarters camp. As there is an ample supply of lovely spring water, and plenty of fresh food, I think we will enjoy ourselves all right. Anyhow, it is a quite a pleasant change from bully beef and hard biscuits. We were issued with new clothing, which we badly needed.
August 1st, 1915
Being out of the sound of shot and shell I had a splendid night’s sleep. The weather is beautiful. We spent most of the afternoon eating chocolates and other sweets, like a lot of schoolboys. We had a lovely sea bathe. The beach is sandy - quite unlike the boulder strewn shore of Anzac cove, and better than all, no Turks sniping at us.
August 4th, 1915
Still having a good easy time. The British are making an aeroplane depot on the island.
August 6th, 1915
I have visited several warships in the bay in search of stores. I went on the “Ermouth” yesterday, and was very well treated. Today, I went with Lieut. Bolingbrook to the French warship “Charlemagne”. She is not much to look at on the outside, but inside she is most luxuriously fitted up. The crew were very polite and I thoroughly enjoyed some whisky and wine which they gave me. We could hear a very heavy bombardment on the peninsula during the afternoon.
August 8th 1915,
I have just heard that the allied forces advanced against the Turks yesterday morning. Large reinforcements were landed on Friday night, and the Turks were driven back with heavy loss, but that the New Zealanders lost heavily. I had a look at several flying machines today. They are very simple in construction. One small scouting machine can do 120 miles an hour. One of the airmen told me that he saw in Belgium today a naked baby nailed to a gate post and he also saw a naked girl who had been stabbed all over the body. Such is the method of the Germans. He also said that one reason why the Belgian forts were no good against Germans was because the forts and guns were built by Krupps, and they built gun emplacements for German guns just outside the range of the Belgian guns.
August 11th, 1915
I visited a small village yesterday, and had a drink of excellent cognac, made on the island. The people, who are Greeks are very clean and remove their boots before entering the houses. The houses are very small, and don’t show much architecture, and are built of stone. The weather is extremely hot.
August 13th, 1915.
We expected to go back to the trenches today, but thank goodness were are still here. We are in no hurry to go back to hard biscuit and bully beef, as we will get plenty of that later on. There are some good aviators here, and we have a good view of the flying. They are building an aerodrome near our camp, which looks as though England intends to keep this island.
August 15th, 1915
We left Imbros for Gallipoli this morning. At Suvla Bay we saw the Tommies advancing up a hill near the beach. They were supported by warship fire, and it was a fine sight. We arrived at the trenches tonight, and found there were only four of my old troops left, and it made me feel quite sad when they told me the number of deaths. There are hardly enough men left in the squadron to make two troops, where there ought to be four troops. It appears our boys captured the approaches to Hill 971, and held their ground against far superior forces of the enemy. The Tommies relieved our boys, and at the first attack by the Turks, the Tommies fled for their lives.
August 19th, 1915.
I was in charge of a squad today in front of our lines to gather any rifles or ammunition we could find. We came across the remains of a dead New Zealander. He was too far gone for recognition and I had him covered with earth, and I placed a board at his head, with the inscription “In memory of an unknown New Zealander”.
August 22nd, 1915
I believe some of our forces attacked the enemy yesterday, but could gain no information.
August 23rd, 1915
We were ordered to a new position last nigh. There was plenty of dead about. We had to cross one place, about one hundred yards under fire. We could plainly hear the Turks talking from our trench.
August 24th, 1915
We returned to rest camp safely last night. There were plenty of stray bullets flying ‘round. Promoted today to Lance Corporal. Going back to the trenches tonight.
August 26th, 1915
Returned safely from the trenches to rest camp. Gen Godley addressed us, and said that he has a small job for us, and that was to capture Hill 60. He said it was only a small job, as there were only a few Turks holding the position, but he said he was asking us to do it because when he asked the New Zealanders to do anything, it was done well. We received his address in silence, as we knew all about his little jobs.
August 28th, 1915
Came up to the trenches yesterday afternoon. The artillery bombarded the Turks for an hour, and at five o’clock we charged. I went with Lieut Palmer, and when we were away along a Turkish trench we were only a dozen strong. We sent back for reinforcements, but could not push on much further, as the Turks from another trench bombarded us with a perfect hail of bombs. I saw one bomb coming and pulled Gillespie round the corner, otherwise he would have walked right on top of it. Practically all our boys were injured and it is marvellous how I escaped. The bottom of the trench was full of dead and dying Turks , and we had to walk on top of them. One had his head practically blown off, and their clothing was smouldering, having been set on fire by the shells. There was fresh blood plastered everywhere, and the trench was full of fumes of lyddite. ‘Twas a sight I hope never to see again. After night fall, there was a bit of a panic among some of our boys - mostly new reinforcements, which was stopped by Major White. During the afternoon the Australians attacked on our right, but the enemy fire was too much for them and they could not advance. A lot of them jumped into our trench. I went to help with bombs near the machine guns. The Turks put in an attack about one in the morning, but our machine gun fire drove them back. Connaught Rangers were supposed to attack on our left, but they never appeared. The result was that the Turks were able to get round us, and fifty of us were cut off for four hours. The Turks were eventually driven off, mostly with the aid of bombs.
August 31st, 1915
After the charge on Hill 60, I remained there for two days and nights, and I was just about done up. Our squadron, which numbered one hundred and fifty, had twenty-four men left, out of which twenty-two are on sick parade. And this was what Godley called a small job. In my opinion it is time the Mounted were taken back to Egypt, and given a spell, and reorganised, as I reckon we have done our share here.. My nerves are all broken up, and I dread the trenches. I had an extremely wonderful escape on Hill 60. I was sitting in a hole dug in the side of the trench, and in a hole opposite me was a bag full of bombs. The scrub on the hill had been set on fire by a shell. I was called away for about three minutes, and while I was away, a spark from the burning scrub must have got on to the bag of bombs, as the whole lot blew up and that part of the trench was blown to pieces. If I had not been called away, there wouldn’t have been anything of me left. Talk about Providence. After the fire had passed over the top of the hill, crowds of Colonial and Turkish skeletons were to be seen. It is to be hoped they were all dead men before the fire, as it would have been awful to be burnt while wounded. It was a most gruesome sight, and the poets who write pretty poetry on the war, should see some of these sights, and they would be able to write on war as it actually is. I sent a letter to Gen. Birdwood today, in which I pointed out how the New Zealanders are nearly wiped out, and that those who are left are practically useless owing to ill health.
September 1st, 1915
Today, I was escorted before Gen. Birdwood in answer to my letter. He was very courteous, and told me he was proud to have me under his command. I told him the boy’s opinion of Gen Godley; how he had simply murdered our comrades with his daylight charges, when in my opinion the same charges could have been made in the night time with better results, and less loss of life. He said he was very pleased I had written to him, that there would be no more daylight charges, and that he would have us relieved as soon as possible, and he then shook hands with me.
September 2nd, 1915
My hand is getting rather bad with septic. The boys are all pleased about my letter to Gen. Birdwood.
September 4th, 1915
I came down from Hill 60 this morning, after being up there for 36 hours. I go up there with some of our boys to teach the Tommies trench warfare. They may be game enough but they have no initiative, and seem to think of nothing but sleep.
September 7th, 1915
In trenches on Hill 60 last night. I was in charge of the Tommies, and there is no mistake they are a useless lot. I had to arrange their guards for them, and even tell then to load their rifles, and a funny thing happened - when I was putting them on guard, I took their sergeant-major for a private and put him on guard, and he did it too. The Tommies seem to look on the colonials as heroes.
September 8th, 1915
In the trenches again today. I told the Tommies that I was leaving them, and they were very sorry, and when I told them all the Colonials were going back to Egypt, one Tommy said, - “Well what are we going to do then?”
September 10th, 1915
I left Hill 60, and went to a position known as Chester Ridge, where I was rejoined by the rest of our boys.
September 11th, 1915
Everything is very quiet here, but I was nearly frozen all night with the intense cold.
September 13th, 1915
In reading some of the papers from home today, it seems pathetic to read some of the poems on the war. It is all very well to talk of the gleam of bayonets, roll of honour, and heroes; but it makes one shudder to think of the blackened skeletons lying out on the slopes of Hill 60, to breathe the awful stench, and to see the maggots dropping in the trenches from the decaying dead on the parapets. Great excitement in camp tonight on being told to pack up preparatory to leaving Gallipoli. Don’t know where we are going, but hope it is Egypt.
September 14th, 1915
We left camp last night. And marched to the beach, where we embarked on a lighter and were taken to the “S.S. Osmanich”. Although sick of Gallipoli, and glad to get away, I yet had a feeling of regret at leaving the place we had held so long.
September 15th, 1915
We arrived at the island of Lemnos yesterday morning, and marched to camp, a distance of three and a half miles. There is a plentiful supply of grapes and chocolates in the Greek shops, and we expect to have an easy time.
September 18th, 1915
I am having a pretty easy time of it today, and I am feeling slightly better, but having a dull pain in the head. The islanders here live just the same quiet old life that they have lived for generations. They wear the same picturesque dress, and cultivate the ground with an old fashioned wooden plough. And they seem to be far happier in their mode of life than we, with our bustle and our so called civilisation. We look at them with British self complacency and regard ourselves as superior beings, but I think their lives are happier than ours.
September 20th, 1915
We were inspected the other day by Admiral Gasprette of the French Navy. In broken English he said he was proud of the brave, grand New Zealand soldiers, and dismounting from his horse, and taking off his hat, he bowed and said, “I take off my hat to the brave New Zealand soldier”.
September 25th, 1915
I had a fairly easy time during the week, but the weather has been very cold. The army rations are not too plentiful, and I don’t think my health will improve too much here. An old soldier named ‘North’ died yesterday while we were on a route march. He was buried last night on the summit of a hill overlooking our camp. He was given full military honours, and I thought what a difference it was from the poor boys who lay rotting on Gallipoli.
September 27th, 1915
I went for a long walk yesterday to a place called Thermos. I had a hot mineral spring bath, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I then visited a village nearby, which was the cleanest I’ve seen yet. On the way back to camp I passed crowds of Greeks, who were on their way to mobilise at Castro.
September 29th, 1915
We were inoculated against typhoid yesterday, and I also had a tooth stopped.
October 2nd, 1915
The army rations are not too plentiful here, and we have to buy extras from the Greeks, who practically rob us, as they charge the most outrageous prices. I wonder why the military authorities don’t make them charge us a fair price.
October 4th, 1915
I walked yesterday to Castro, the Chief town of the island. As it is about eleven miles, and I am not feeling too fit, it was rather a hard proposition, especially the walk back. Above the town is an old castle, and it was well worth a visit. Being built on top of a very high rock, the view was lovely, especially as it was just on sunset. I saw an old brass cannon, which dated back to the reign of King Philip of Spain, and was over 600 years old. Castro is a fairly large seaport town.
October 7th, 1915
I had my arm inoculated against enteric yesterday. I felt very bad after it, and am now feeling very feverish.
October 9th, 1915
There was lightning and heavy thunder accompanied by a downpour of rain last night, but the weather cleared today. It seems a shame that the authorities don’t step in and stop the wholesome robbery of the troops by the Greeks, in the way they overcharge for their goods.
October 15th, 1915
We were medically examined today, and I was put down as having heart failure, and no wonder after what I’ve gone through. I believe I am going to get a trip away. I was offered sergeants stripes to go back to the peninsula, but had to refuse owing to my health. .Life is going on in the same monotonous regularity.
October 18th, 1915
We are still on this old island, and I am feeling pretty bad. It seems the Major McCarroll is trying his best to prevent us getting away for a spell. The old hands are feeling very bitter over this treatment, and their patriotism is just about played out. My knee has broken out with septic poisoning, and my leg is very bad.
October 21st, 1915
The weather continues fine. My leg is very bad.
October 25th, 1915
My leg is improving slowly, and I can scarcely walk. We are awaiting sailing orders.
October 30th, 1915
Received orders late last night to be ready to return to Egypt, and got out of bed at half past five this morning. We were taken off in the paddle steamer “Waterwitch” to an old tramp steamer, the “Crosshill”. There are no bunks, and the accommodation is rotten. We have to sleep on the iron deck. We left Lemnos at midday, and I was very glad to see it fading away in the distance. The harbour was full of warships and transports.
November 1st, 1915
There was a big head of wind during the night, and the old boat rolled a good bit. As usual our officers showed a lack of foresight in not providing us with decent food. So the result is we have nothing else besides bully beef and hard biscuits to eat till we get to Egypt. There is not even tea to drink.
November 3rd, 1915
We arrived in Alexandria this morning, after an uneventful passage of four days. We were taken out to Mustapha camp to put in the night. I went to town in the evening, and had my first real feed for over six months, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
November 4th, 1915
We left Alexandria today by midday express, and reached Cairo about 3:30pm. I went to town this evening, and found it full of troops. I was disgusted to see privates wearing clothes made on the same pattern as officers. It makes me sick to see these things gadding about in Cairo, while their countrymen are suffering hardship in Gallipoli.
November 11th, 1915
I went out with the horses today, and thoroughly enjoyed the ride. The camp is much different from when I left. All the work is done by natives, and they also take the horses out to exercise. Some of them are fairly good riders, but the majority are no good at managing the horses, and it is very amusing to see riderless horses galloping all over the desert.
November 30th, 1915
Life is going on here quietly, and I am feeling much better. I received the money for my saddle today, which has been owing since I left N.Z.
December 12th, 1915
I went to a race meeting yesterday. All the horses were Arabs, and although they have plenty of stamina, they can’t compare with our horses for speed. There seems to be a feeling of unrest among the natives, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Germans link up with Constantinople, and if they make an attempt on Egypt, that there will be a rising here. But the Germans will find they will have a hard job to get across the Canal.
December 23rd, 1915
Today is Xmas eve. Things have been jogging quietly along. We hear that Anzac has been evacuated. I have been promoted to full Corporal. It seems to me a great shame if they have to evacuate Anzac, after all the lives that have been lost. The Dardanelles operations ought to go down in history as the greatest mistake that has ever been made - 100,000 casualties for nothing. When I look back on my life in Gallipoli, it seems like one big nightmare. I can scarcely realise it. And my coming out alive, I can only put down to Providence. There is no doubt the Colonial has proved himself a great fighter, He does not know defeat, can think for and look after himself, he will attack anything and he will hang like a bull dog to anything he captures. The Australian before Gallipoli looked down on the New Zealander, but he now looks up to him with the greatest respect. Some of our officers proved themselves to be worthy of their position, whilst others were absolutely unfitted for the great game of War. We haven’t got too much time for the Tommies - the old regulars excepted - and the Turks seemed to despise them. One feature of the War is the unfairness in giving promotions. When we reached Egypt all N.C.B’s (non combatants?) were reduced to the ranks, but the sixth and seventh reinforcements have been allowed to retain their stripes, thereby keeping those of us, who have seen months of fighting, from gaining promotion. Our present squadron Sgt. Major is a sixth man, and the regimented Sgt. Major came out as a blacksmith, and though a good fellow, doesn’t know much about his new work.
January 1st, 1916
Things have been very quiet here in Egypt. Most of us went to town on Xmas eve, and had a good time. Some of the troops who had too much liquor, went mad, and smashed every window and street lamp they came across. I am sure most of the boys were longing for home, and I would have given anything to have been in N.Z.. Today, a big N.Z. mail arrived and everyone was anxious to see what their friends had sent them. Most of the boys received parcels, and I was rather disappointed, as I only received papers.
January 2nd, 1916
I was very pleased to get some parcels today. Things are very very quiet.
January 8th, 1916
We have been very busy training all the week, and haven’t had much time for rest. A lot of rain has fallen, and the weather is bitterly cold.
January 10th, 1916
We have been very busy packing up and we are breaking camp for an unknown destination.
January 20th, 1916
Still in camp with no further signs of leaving. Plenty of rain, and weather very cold at night.
January 21st, 1916
Received orders today that we leave here on Sunday.
January 22nd, 1916
Busy all morning packing up preparatory to leaving camp. Paid a farewell visit to Cairo this afternoon. We don’t know what is before us, but no doubt there will be plenty of hard work, and probably most of us will never return.
January 22nd, 1916
Left camp this afternoon, and we got a good send off. Reached camp in the evening, and found the transport wagons had not arrived, and as it came on to rain and we were pretty hungry, we felt a bit miserable. Our rations arrived about nine o’clock, and we did full justice to the bully beef and hard biscuits. Covered about fifteen miles.
January 25th, 1916
Covered twelve miles today. Reached ‘Abu Hamid’ about one o’clock. Went into the village in the evening, and had a good feed. These distances we travel may not seem much to an outsider, but when you consider that we have to walk and lead our horses most of the time, and we have all our gear and equipment on, it is not too easy a game, especially walking on the soft yielding sand.
January 26th, 1916
Covered about eleven miles this morning, and came to a halt. Rained this afternoon in torrents and it is bitterly cold.
January 27th, 1916
Covered about eighteen miles today. Passed through ‘Tel-el-Kebir’ where there is a big Australian camp. Raining again tonight.
January 28th, 1916
Last night it rained nearly all night, and as we have no covering, it’s pretty miserable. Camped today near ‘Ismailia’. There is a big camp here.
January 29th, 1916
Passed through ‘Ismailia’ today, and eventually reached our destination near the Canal, about fourteen miles from ‘Ismailia’, at a place called ‘Serapium’. The trek would have been all right if it had not been for the wet and cold, which made things very unpleasant. More rain fell than has been seen here for fifty years, so our luck was right out.
February 1st, 1916
The weather has cleared up. We are camped about two miles from the Canal. We are getting very poor food, and not much of it.
February 7th, 1916
Things have been pretty quiet, and we have been going through the training as at ‘Zeitoun’, doing plenty of mounted work. I went over to the Canal this afternoon and had a swim, but I didn’t enjoy it much as the weather was icy cold.
April 5th, 1916
Have been to Cairo, and had a growth taken from my eyelid. Things have been very quiet, but we have been busy doing outpost work across the Canal.
April 6th, 1916
This morning we struck camp, and the boys left this afternoon. I am in charge of our baggage on the train, and we left Serapium at eleven tonight.
April 7th, 1916
We reached our destination, a place called ‘Salhia’ this morning and we have been busy unloading the train. Discontent is being felt in the treatment between officers and men. There should not be a social difference, as many a trooper is better financially and otherwise than most officers. In Cairo, the Continental and Shepheards Hotels are barred to men, but only open to officers and the “lady” friends. If we are granted leave to Cairo, men, although paying their own fare, have to travel third class (the same as natives), sergeants second class, and officers first class. In Cairo the women’s quarters are closed to men at ten o’clock, but where the officers go they are open day and night. Of course this is British morality.
April 18th, 1916
The weather has been extremely hot, with heavy winds, and clouds of dust.
April 23rd, 1916
I am in charge of water guard for 24 hours. From all appearance, we will soon be on the move again. We got orders at six o’clock to get ready to proceed at once to the Canal. We left camp at eight o’clock. The band played us out, and all was excitement, as we think we will soon be meeting the Turks again. It was rather an eerie sight - the night was very dark but starry, and large bonfires were burning where rubbish was being disposed of.
April 24th, 1916
We reached “Kantara’ about six this morning, after travelling all night. I felt pretty tired and sleepy. We crossed the Canal and had breakfast, which was much appreciated as there are canteens here, and we were able to buy something decent to eat. After a stay of about an hour, we proceeded on our journey, and reached our new camp, “Hill 70”, about two hours later. All was excitement here as the Turks were supposed to be marching rapidly towards this place. Two troops of our squadron went out on patrol. It looks as though things were going to be busy here.
April 25th, 1916
We were pretty well frozen here last night, as we were without covering or blankets.
April 30, 1916
It appears now that just previous to us reaching here, the Turks attacked three Tommy posts simultaneously. The posts are called. “Oghratina”, “Katia”, and “Dueidar”, and there is no doubt the Turks caught the Tommies napping. The first two posts were completely wiped out, and “Dueidar” was only saved by the barking of a dog. On the appearance of the Australian Light Horse, which beat us across the Canal by a day, the Turks retreated. The Turkish party is supposed to be composed of one thousand Austrians, and Germans, three hundred and fifty camel corps, four Mountain Guns, sixty-six gunners, and five hundred Turkish and Bedouin infantry. These will be probably reinforced from “Beersheba”. Today a party of us proceeded eastward as an escort to a well sinking party, but though we travelled serveral miles, we saw no signs of the enemy.
May 6th, 1916
Things have been going quietly. The weather is very hot, and flies are plentiful.
May 8th, 1916
We left camp yesterday morning for a trek to “Romani”, where an Australian division is camped. The distance is only about twenty miles, but the ground is all hills and hollows on the route we followed, and the going is terribly heavy, as is all soft, loose sand. The day was blazing hot, and as I finished my water for dinner, I suffered terribly from thirst, my throat being parched, my tongue swollen, and my lips dry and cracked, and I was feeling silly in the head. I was in charge of the advance screen, and we reached camp at half past six, and then reached the outpost. I drank two quarts of water straight off, and gave the little mare a good drink, which she thoroughly appreciated. We were relieved at half past ten, and right glad was I to roll up in my overcoat, and go to sleep.
May 9th, 1816
We started on the return journey yesterday at three in the afternoon, and reached camp at half past eight. We came back by a different and much better route, and there was a cool breeze, it was fairly good going. The traveling is very monotonous, as there is noting to see but sand hill after sand hill.
May 11th, 1916
The weather is very hot and the flies are an absolute pest. We packed up today, preparatory to leaving camp.
May 12th, 1916.
Reveille this morning, at three o’clock, breakfast at quarter to four and we left camp at five o’clock. Reached our new camo at half past ten this morning. The camp is called “Bir-et-Mala”.
May 13th, 1916
Out on outpost duty last night. I felt pretty tired and sleepy this morning. We are encamped in a small palm grove, and it is not a bad place, but I reckon we will be lept pretty busy with flies.
May 15th, 1916
Reveille yesterday morning at three, breakfast at quarter to four, and left camp at five on a reconnaissance stunt. We trekked out about twenty miles to find some wells. My section was advance right flank screen, and all went well till about four miles from our destination, when the column took a sharp turn to the left. As we were on a high mountainous ridge of sand it was impossible to get down and get into touch with the column, so we kept on our course, and eventually came to the wells in a Palm Grove. We simply rushed the water and had a good drink. We found an old Bedouin and his wife and kids there, but we did not interfere with them. I, afterwards found the column, and reported the location of the wells. We got back to camp about eight last night, thoroughly tired, and the poor horses were nearly mad with thirst. On our way back we passed through “Katia", where the Tommies had been wiped out. It is quite plain the Tommies had been caught napping, as I believe the Turks got right into the camp and stampeded the horses before the Tommies were aware they were being attacked. The stench of the dead horses and men was awful. The weather is very hot now, and as we are up at three every morning, I don’t know how the boys are going to stand it. This is a great place for centipedes and scorpion, and I saw a lot of chameleons, and\a very large Tortoise. The poor horses are suffering badly from thirst, as the water here is very salty. We covered over forty miles yesterday.
May 16th, 1916
The weather is awfully hot, and we have only got one water bottle full of water per day, and we are as thirsty as the devil. To make it worse we are always asking each other how nice an iced beer would go down, I don’t know how we are going to stand it, and my mouth is all parched and dry.
May 17th, 1916
The weather is still almost unbearable. The thermometer showed 117 in the shade yesterday. The day was that hot that all the flies disappeared. The Canterbury regiment went out on patrol yesterday, and a lot of the men were knocked out with sunstroke.
May 18th, 1916
I was in charge of an outpost last night, and everything was quiet.
May 19th, 1916
I went out for a ride this morning to an old Bedouin encampment. There were some old huts still standing, made of palm leaves and some of the huts had wooden doors. There was quite a lot of old timber lying about, which the Bedouins had evidently found on the beach, a few miles away. I did not find any curios.
May 22nd, 1916
We left camp tonight with stripped saddles, and are traveling light.
May 24th, 1916
We traveled all Monday night and came to a halt just before daybreak. I was put in charge of an outpost. The night was very cold, and I was dead beat, but we were not relieved from our post till the return journey commenced, about 8 o’clock. The Australian were about five miles ahead of us and were searching for buried Turkish stores. All Bedouin huts were burned down. On our return journey we walked as much as rode, and want to sleep, we were just about done up. All the men were grumbling about having to walk so much, and indeed it is no joke walking mile after mile over these soft hills, considering the amount of gear we have to carry. There was absolutely no necessity for us to walk, as the horses were all fresh, and the constant mounting and dismounting takes more out of the men and horses than if we rode all the time, and besides this we could travel faster. The Australians always ride, and on this march they left an hour after us, and easily beat us to camp. The food has been very scarce these last few days, nothing to eat except salt bully beef, and hard biscuits, and not too much of that. We returned safely to camp. I have been feeling pretty bad today, but I suppose I’ll get over it.
May 28th, 1916
I was in charge of a section at No 2 observation station. This is a very high sand hill, from which can be obtained a splendid view of the surrounding country. No signs of the enemy.
June 1st, 1916
We trekked out from camp on Monday night at half past eight, and marched till about six on the Tuesday morning. Whatever officer was leading us got absolutely lost, as we were going at times nearly in a circles. On Tuesday night we left our stopping place about 9 o’clock, and proceeded out to raid a couple of Turkish camps. We surrounded the first place, “Bir-el-Abd”, and the place was charged with fixed bayonets, but the enemy must have got wise to our approach as the place was deserted. We then made for the next place, “Salmana”, and when we were on the way about a mile, the officers thought of the telegraph wire, which runs from Egypt to Jerusalem. They decided to cut it, but not being able to find wire cutters, a man climbed a telegraph pole, and hacked at the wire with a bayonet. The noise must have been heard for mile away. Instead of reaching “Salmana” before dawn, as we should have done, it was well into daylight when we got into touch with the enemy. The Turkish outpost was surprised, and seven were killed, and one captured. We opened fire on the enemy position, but as we had no orders what to do, after an hours paltry shooting, our officers gave the word to retire. Although the lead was flying pretty thickly, we only had one man wounded. One of our aeroplanes flew over the enemy position, and opened on it with the machine gun. The Turks cleared out as fast as they could go. We started back for camp about seven o’clock, and reached here at half past eleven last night. We must have covered the best part of one hundred miles and I was knocked up completely. This morning a Turkish aeroplane came over our camp and dropped a few bombs, none falling on our camp, but the Australians got some. I believe there were two Australians killed, and two wounded, besides about thirty horses being killed.
June 5th, 1916
Last Friday I left camp for two days holiday to Port Said. I travelled by Train to “Kantara”, and it was much easier than trekking on horseback. There is no doubt we have driven the Turks back a considerable distance, as it took nearly two hours to reach the Canal. The train from “Kantara” reached Port Said at seven in the evening. The old fallacy that Port Said is the worst place on Earth, is all rot, as it cannot compare with Cairo for immorality, and it is in fact a very quiet place. Of course, like all other Eastern towns, it contains all sorts of entertainments, but I think it has got its bad name from the fact that it is a port of call for steamers, and no doubt being the first Eastern town seen by tourists, it opens our eyes a little. Anyhow, I had a splendid time, and the sea bathing was first class, and I don’t feel like facing the desert again. I stayed at the Hotel Continental, and it’s a splendid place. The dining doors and windows open onto the footpath, and it was for me a never ending source of entertainment to watch the ever moving cosmopolitan crowd. A few yards away, a band of musicians, six in number, were discoursing sweet music and singing. ‘Twas an oriental scene never to be forgotten, and I can quite understand the mysterious call of the East to the person who has once been there. My mind then went back to the desert of endless sand, bully beef, and hard biscuit, and flies, and I wondered if perhaps I will end there, or will I be lucky enough to get back to civilisation. Kismet.
June 7th, 1916
I left Port Said on Monday evening at six thirty for “Kantara” where I stayed the night. I left “Kantara” for railhead on Tuesday morning at eight o’clock, and reached camp in the afternoon.
June 10th, 1916
I went out to “Katia” yesterday on patrol. I had good look round where the Tommies had been encamped and wiped out. I saw lots of the bodies sticking out of the sand, and there were dead horses everywhere. I picked up a letter, which had been written by a mother to her son, in which she prayed he was doing well. Poor boy, he was under the sand. I reached camp at tea time. After stand to arms this morning I took a fatigue party over to railhead.
June 12th, 1916
We left camp at eleven thirty on Saturday night, and reached “Ogratina” at daybreak. I went on outpost where the Tommy camp had been, and as is the case at “Katia” saw the signs of the wipe out. Bodies were sticking out of the sand everywhere. Some of the bodies were only half dressed, which proves they must have been sleeping when the Turks attacked them. The position was entrenched, so, even if they hadn’t been caught napping, they couldn’t have put up much of a fight. We left for camp after dinner and reached camp at tea time. After tea we saddled up again, and went on night outpost. We are not getting much sleep, and I am feeling knocked up.
June 13th, 1916
I had a good night’s sleep last night which I appreciated, and am feeling much better, It’s marvelous how a nights sleep sets one up. Received a parcel from home, which was real good.
June 15th, 1916
I was on outpost last night. We came back this morning, had breakfast, and saddled up again to go on patrol. I am staying in camp, as I am feeling pretty bad. Half the men and horses are about unfit for duty. I reckon its about time the men who landed on Gallipoli had furlough.
June 20th, 1916
I was out on a day outpost with a party of eight. The men are very sore over the way promotions are made. Reinforcement officers come out from New Zealand filled with their own importance, some of them cow spankers and some counter jumpers, and they have absolutely no idea of this war game, and yet they are put above men who have been at the game for two years. No man is fit to ben an officer unless he is a born leader of men, or has a genius for the game, but here in our army a man is pushed up if he happens to be a relation of one of the heads, or if he belongs to the Masons. That is why the English army is full of incompetent officers, and while this state of affairs exists, we will always have misfortunes in war.
June 25th, 1916
We left our camp at “Bir-et-Mala” last night at ten 0’clock and arrived at “Hill 70” at five this morning. It was a long and weary ride, and we were very glad when we arrived here. I left absolutely done up. Stables have been built here for the horses, and no doubt they will appreciate the shelter from the glaring heat. There is a camp of Tommy yeomanry here. I don’t know why they don’t take their turn at the front line. We heard yesterday that the Turks and Austrians had asked for peace. We were all greatly excited, and hope the rumour is true.
June 26th, 1916
Went on ammunition guard for twenty-four hours. This will make four days and nights since I have had my clothes off.
June 27th, 1916
It’s funny to hear this camp spoken of as “rest camp”. There are a lot more fatigues here than at our last camp, and we are encamped.
July 21st, 1916
News came in on Wednesday that a large body of Turks were encamped at “Ogratina”. We stood to arms at half past two on Thursday morning, but up to now, nothing has happened. We were supposed to have gone on holiday to Alexandiria, but this scare has called the holiday off. Troops have been hurried forward by train, and there must be a big body in the front line now. The train now runs out to a point near “Katia”
July 24th, 1916
We are getting no news of movements, but rumours point to the fact that the Turks are entrenching on our front. It looks like a big bluff on the Turks part, so that we will keep a big army in Egypt, or else they are expecting a rising there. There is a great song in the papers in regard to the war economy. And yet the men are issued with rotten jam and tobacco, which have to be thrown away. This also applies to wearing material. Some tobacco issued is just like manure. A better result would occur if a good article were issued, even if only half the quantity were given. And then these British firms who are making millions out of this rubbish, and which we have to fight on, expect us to buy their goods when the war is over.
August 12th, 1916
We moved out from “Hill 70” on Thursday night, and stopped for a night at “Duedar”, Aug 3. Next day (Friday) we moved out, thinking we were going to “Romani” as we were going in that direction. Some of our signalers came galloping in, and said the signaling post they had made for was held by the Turks. We thought this was a joke, as we had patrolled over this ground a few days previously, and there were then no signs of the enemy. Anyhow, we were soon enlightened, as about an hour after we had left “Duedar” a shrapnel shell came whizzing over our heads, and burst about twenty yards ahead of us. Rifle fire on our right became general, and we found that a long line of ridges, with “Mt Royston” in the centre, was held by the enemy. We quickly got into position and the Battle of “Romani” commenced. The Auckland M. R attacked on the right with Canterbury on our left. I had a very awkward job assigned to me. I had to gallop straight for the enemy position, to see if they had any machine guns between us and their position. I took my section with me, and we set off at full gallop. We made for a little hollow, and although the Turks made a target of us, and the bullets were whining round our heads and spitting up the sand, we got there all right. Charlie Maclaren’s horse was shot through the chest, and there were tears in poor old Charlie’s eyes as he saw his poor old faithful horse bleed to death. A short while after I galloped back with a dispatch for Col. Mackesy, and got safely through again. Our boys were then advancing well. When I went to go forward again, my mare had got frightened of the bullets that she wouldn’t move an inch, so I had to get off and leaf her. The Warwickshire Yeomanry then came in on our right. We kept advancing and by dusk had captured their position. There were over one thousand prisoners, heaps of dead, four mountain guns, and heaps of rifles and ammunition. The Tommy battery attached to us put in good work. The whole move was executed by Gen. Chaytor, and it was splendid. We camped for the night at the railway. Next morningm Sat Aug 5th, we moved out to “Bir-el-Nus”, a clump of Palm trees south west of “Romani”. Here we met the Australians, and we all moved out from here to attack “Katia”, where the main body of Turks were in position. “Kataia” is a long line of Palms, with boggy ground in front, and sand hills behind. We attacked at Midday, and fought till disk, but the Turkish line was too long for us to flank, so at night fall we had to retire to water our horses. It appears that the Tommy infantry should have attacked in the centre, and we were to outflank the enemy, but the Tommies could not do the march, so we had to take on the job ourselves. It was here that the famous charge on horseback with fixed bayonets was made by the Australians. We did not fix bayonets, but we charged at the gallop, only to find that the enemy were on the opposite side of the boggy ground. I think if we had attacked further out on the Turkish left it would have been better. We had several casualties, but the Australians lost more heavily. I think because they did not take such good cover as we did. If the Tommies could have attacked the enemy front, we would have captured the whole of the Turks by outflanking them. We got to the wells to water the horses about midnight, and as there were only two or three troughs, and as the whole of the Brigade had to be watered there (with the exception of Wellington, who were attached to the Australians). It was between three and four in the morning before we got our horses watered. The desert water is very brackish, and although my mare was mad for a drink, she would not touch the water. She had done a lot of gallping lately and not having enough to drink, when daylight came I found she had broken down altogether, so I had to take her back to “Hill 70”, and get another horse. I left “Hill 70” on Tuesday last to join up with the Brigade, but was held up at “Bir-et-Mala”, as the Brigade was supposed to be returning. The horse I am now riding is called Backsheese and two or three chaps have been killed while riding him, so I hope I have better luck. I left “Bir-et-Mala” yesterday morning, and reached the Brigade last night. We encamped between “Ogratina” and “Bir-el-Abd”, the enemy being now at the latter place. Our boys attacked there last Tuesday, and thought they lost heavily, the enemy lost about three thousand. Our Auckland casualties number sixty-three. We moved out of camp today, and occupied “Bir-el-Abd” unopposed, the enemy having fallen back. An enemy aeroplane dropped some bombs on our camp yesterday, but none of our boys were hit, although I believe there was some casualties at headquarters. In the evening we returned to camp.
August 14th, 1916
Our camp is called “El-de-Barbas”. We moved out to “Bir-el-Abd” today to do outpost. There are no signs of the enemy. The Turks had a big gun here, and they must have had a hard job bringing it across the desert. On the softest places in the sand they made a road of brushwood, which must have entailed a lot of hard work. There are holes all over the place, with heaps of empty tins around, and it is quite plain they had food and ammunitions buried here. There were also heaps of cigar boxes and empty wine bottles lying around, so the German officers must have had a good time. The Turks left a message behind saying they were tired of the sad desert, and asking us not to push them too hard, as they meant to retire from the desert. They must have thought their march on the Canal was going to be a success judging by the amount of stuff they had buried here, and no doubt they would have given it a big go if it hadn’t been for the mounted troops. On the desert the Turks could outmarch our infantry, but the mounted can move quickly for them. The flies here are awful, and it is a hard job eating biscuit and jam, as the flies instantly smother all over it. The smell of the dead here is rotten, and I believe we have to stay here a week. My clothes are all torn to rags, and as I haven’t a towel, or soap or razor with me, I will be a pretty object by the end of the week. I reckon another good chance was lost here, because if the infantry could have been brought here and attacked the Turks in front, we could have surrounded them and captured the lot. When the enemy were here, cholera was raging amongst them, and it is a peculiar thing to encamp us on the same ground. It wouldn’t be surprising if disease were to break out amongst us.
August 19th, 1916
We are still holding the furthest outpost on the desert. We are having a fairly easy time, and it would be all right if it were not for the flies by day, and the mosquitos by night. We have been doing the usual patrol and outpost work. Last night a Turkish camel patrol was sighted, and all our patrols were doubles, but we saw no sign of the enemy. We are suffering great inconvenience from the lack of watches. It is very hard doing night outpost without a watch. We generally do a two hours shift, and it is very hard to guess the time while lying out in the dark. The Turkish casualties to date are supposed to be three thousand killed, four thousand captured and six thousand have retreated.
August 20th, 1916
We left “Bir-el-Abd” this morning for a camp a few miles further back, and Canterbury took our place. This camp is called “Hod-el-Amara”.
August 21st, 1916
Several promotions were made yesterday, but I was left out. The more a man does, the less he gets. I thought that after four and a half months on Gallipoli I would have been recognised, but men who have seen no service until recently have been promoted. And yet if there is a patrol to be taken out, it always seems to fall on me. A man wants to be a crawler to get on here.
August 30th, 1916
We have just heard that Romania has entered the war. Well I am glad, as It ought to mean a shortening of the war. Things have been very quiet here.
September 4th, 1916
I was in charge of an escort for some survey officer today.
September 12th, 1916
We left “Hod-el-Amara” yesterday, and we reached here at “Bir-et-Mala” in the afternoon. All the boys are very glad to be back here. This place was changed completely from when we were here last, and there are now camps all over the place. The best part of it here is that we have not got to stand to arms at four in the morning as we had to at “El-Amara”. We had a great celebration last night, and as we bought a lot of beer from the canteens which are here now, it flowed freely. As it happened, it was my birthday so it came all right.
September 25th, 1916
Last Sunday I went to Port Said for two days holiday. I did not enjoy myself much, but had a very quiet time. Of course it was better than the desert, anything is better than there. I returned to camp on Wednesday.
October 2nd, 1916
We left “Bir-et-Mala” on Saturday night for a long expected holiday to Alexandiria. I am feeling very sad about my poor mates who are lying buried on the desert. We arrived at Alexandria yesterday morning. This is a great place, and I have no doubt that the week I am to spend here will be much appreciated.
October 5th, 1916
Our week’s holiday is nearly up, and everyone is sorry. This is a very pretty town, and we have all had a good time.
October 8th, 1916
The best of good times must come to an end, and we came back from Alexandria tonight. To say that I am sorry to leave civilisation, is a very feeble way of expressing my feelings.
October 20th. 1916
We have been very busy lately training for map reading. On Wednesday I had to draw a map to scale of “Romani” railhead, and was complimented on my work. There is some move coming off shortly, but there is a lot of secrecy about it.
October 24th, 1916
We left “Bir-et-Mala” yesterday morning, and reached “Bir-el-Abd” last night, and camped there. We were surprised to see such a change in the place. We have only been away from here for six weeks, and when we left, this place was deserted except for advanced posts and now the railway runs past, and there is a big base camp and canteens. We moved on again this morning to a position past “Salmana”, where we are now encamped.
October 27th, 1916
We left our camp (“Ganadil”) this morning and proceeded about two miles eastward. Myself and section left camp two hours beforde the main body, in order to make sure that the country ahead was clear of the enemy. We reached our new camp, “Kesseiba” about dinner time. We are now about twenty-eight miles from “El-Arish”.
October 30th, 1916
On Saturday I was in charge of camel escort. We had to escort one hundred and fifty camels back about ten miles for provisions. It was a long and tedious journey, as the camels move very slowly. We got back to camp after dark. Last night we were out on outpost. Everything was quiet.
November 2nd, 1916
We were on outpost last night. There was nothing doing. There was a big row in camp this morning, as we were issued with three small tins of jam for our troop (about 25 men), one tin of bully beef each, and some mouldy, maggoty biscuits. This is rations for twenty four hours. This doesn’t look much like starving out Germany.
November 4th, 1916
A small patrol of eight including myself, went out on patrol yesterday, in a southerly direction . Myself and Nicholson were on the screen, and we found fresh hoof marks near our camp, and followed them for about seven miles. They were joined about three miles from camp by Camel tracks, proving that an enemy patrol had been there early in the morning. The horse tracks led straight to our camp, this proving that our camp had been under enemy observation, probably by Turkish officers. The tracks led away to the Blue Hills, but we saw nothing of the enemy.
November 5th, 1916
An enemy aeroplane came over our camp, and opened fire on us with a machine gun, but luckily no one was hit. One of our aeroplanes was seen in the distance, but as usual, went the other way.
November 14th, 1916
We moved out from “Kesseiba” yesterday morning, and rode to “Marsa”, where we are now encamped. I was out on camel escort yesterday, and outpost last night.
November 16th, 1916
My back has been feeling very bad yesterday, and today. Sometimes it is agony to straighten it. Went to the doctor about it, and all he did was to give me a packet of salts. In the army that is a cure for all ailments, from a headache to a broken leg.
November 17th, 1916
I was on outpost last night.
November 26th, 1916
Left “Marsa” yesterday morning and proceeded forward a few miles to a new camp “Mustageba”. Heavy forces are following us up, and it seems as though every effort is being made to ensure our success against the enemy.
December 3rd, 1916
We had a little excitement today with an enemy aeroplane. It dropped a couple of bombs near our lines. One bomb killed one man, and wounded seven or eight others who were on an anti-aircraft gun. The gun itself narrowly escaped damage. One of our machines rose and gave chase, and engaged the enemy with unknown results. We could plainly hear the rap of the machine guns. This is the first time I’ve seen a scrap between aeroplanes. Sgt Elsmore left today for business in New Zealand, and the thought of it has given me the blues.
December 4th, 1916
It is rumoured that our aeroplane brought down the enemy machine yesterday.
December 14th, 1916.
We had a field day today, and paraded in full strength. I reckon the attack on “El-Arish” will soon come off.
December 22nd, 1916
Last Tuesday a couple of enemy planes came over our camp at “Mustageba” and bombed us, but only one of our men was wounded. On Wednesday, we left “Mustageba” and commenced our march on “El-Arish”. Everyone was in good spirits, and we were all anxious to see this town, as it is the first one after leaving Egypt. We had thousands of Camels carrying food and ammunition, and viewed from a heigh hill it was a great sight.. As far as the eye could see, there were moving columns of horsemen, and lines of camels. The night turned out very cold, and just before dawn we had to remove our overcoats, and see that our rifles were in working order. We stood shivering in the cold till dawn, when we advanced, only to be disappointed, as the Turks had fallen back. We captured a few stray prisoners, some of whom had been left behind to blow up the wells. “El Arish” is a fairly big place, and the buildings are flat roofed typical Arab structures.
December 26th, 1916
On Friday our squadron moved out from our camp to a place called “La-Fahn”, ten miles south east from camp. There are very deep wells here, and the enemy had an engine for drawing up the water. The engine had been removed, and the top of the well blown in. I was on patrol nearly all night. I had a slight accident, which luckily turned out all right. I was riding up a very steep sand hill, when my saddle, and I went rolling over together, and although I was knocked out for a while, I was soon all right again. On saturday the Brigade moved out and they were strongly entrenched. After fighting all day the position was captured, together with about a thousand prisoners. The enemy casualties were very heavy. We returned to camp on Sunday morning. Yesterday was Christmas Day, and we had a very quiet time. We greatly enjoyed the plum pudding which was sent out by the “Daily Mail” from England. This camp is called “Mazmeh”.
December 30th, 1916
Last Wednesday we moved over to a camp on the sea coast. It would be an ideal spot in summer, but now that winter is on us it is very cold and bleak. It has now been raining for about four days, and what with wet blankets and the cold wind, things are pretty miserable. We paraded before General Chetwode yesterday, and he gave us a short address in which he thanked us for our valuable services. He said that last Saturday’s battle was a brilliant affair, and although it was not a big battle, as battles go these days, it was a complete victory, as all the enemy were captured, and it had far reaching effects, as that victory had entirely cleared the Sinai of the Enemy. He said it was the first time in history that cavalry had attacked an entrenched position and carried it, and although he had expected good things f us, we were better than he had ever dreamt.
January 6th, 1917
We have been back to a camp a few miles back, but are now on the coast again. The weather was something rotten, cold winds and rain fell all the time, and things were pretty miserable. Sleeping on the wet ground, with wet blankets, is not the most pleasant thing in the world. However, the weather now appears to have cleared, and things are much more pleasant.
January 13th, 1917.
Great things have taken place during the last week. Last Sunday night, the enemy aeroplanes paid us a visit. As it was a bright moonlit night, we were expecting an air raid. They must have dropped at least thirty bombs, but the did little damage, although they caused some excitement. On Monday we moved out from camp, full division strength, and rode all the afternoon and night. The New Zealand Brigade’s orders were to clean up three Bedouin encampments, as it was plain that they were assisting the Turks. At dawn we crossed into Palestine, and we came to a Bedouin encampment, and we had a great sport rounding them up. A Bedouin shot one of our boys, and I reckon we should have wiped them all out. A couple of miles away we could see a strong Turkish position called “Rafa”. When our heads saw the strength of “Rafa”, we were not allowed to go on our cleaning up job, but had to join in the attack of “Rafa”. We commenced the attack about ten o’clock, and we had to gallop about a mile across flat ground, and exposed to a full fire from the redoubts. I am now riding a very fast horse, and as the bullets were whistling freely around my head, I let the horse out at full speed. It is marvelous that in this gallop we only had two men wounded. If the Turks had fired lower, they would have done more damage. We quickly got into position, to the right of the enemy, on a very tight rise, and opened up a heavy rifle and machine gun fire, which was kept up till the afternoon, when our boys had a spell, and went further round to the right. “Rafa”, by this time was completely surrounded. On our left were the Australians, then the Camel Corp, then the Yeomanry, and Canterbury completed the circle. The German Commander was captured in a small redoubt by a a patrol. He was a fine built man, six feet and spoke excellent English. He told our General it was useless our attacking “Rafa”, as he had organised the defenses himself, and it was impregnable. He said no troops in the world, even the German troops, could capture it by direct assault. The Turkish position was indeed a splendid one, and it did not look as though we were going to be successful. About three o’clock our troop again went into the firing line, leaving me in charge of the horses. An hour after, our captain asked me to take some ammunition forward, so I collected a sand bag full. I had to struggle on for about a mile in full view of the Tiurkish trenches, and bullets were going pretty thickly around me, but I succeeded in reaching the boys safely. As they were not on want of ammunition, I went forward to the Waikato’s, and handed round what they required. We were then about one hundred yards from the Turkish trenches, and how I was not hit, I don’t know. The word then came round that a bayonet charge would take place at five o’clock. Major Whitehorn organised and led the attack. I only had my revolver, but thought that would do me. Just after we started, Jack Hanham tumbled over, and as he was lying exposed to fire, I dragged him to a bit of cover. He was badly smacked in the leg and I bound him up. In the meantime our boys had carried the position, and won the day. I got Hanham down to a dressing station, and then returned to the horses. The order had just come through for them to proceed forward, as we went at the gallop. It was just dark when we proceeded on our homeward journey, some of the troops staying behind to gather the spoils. We could see flames going up in the distance, denoting the presence of Turkish reinforcements who were signaling “Rafa”, but they were too late.. We captured about sixteen hundred prisoners, including the German commander, and there were about two hundred wounded Turks, and two or three hundred killed. We had about five hundred casualties. We were fired at on the way back, presumably by Bedouins, but reached camp safely. Yesterday we paraded before Gen. Chauvelle, and he thanked us for our services, saying that our gallop into action, under hot fire, was magnificent. He also said that the Australians had been beaten back, and as there were about four thousand Turkish reinforcement marching to relieve “Rafa”, Gen Chetwode had ordered a general retirement. This order had reached the Yeomanry, who retired, but it had not reached the New Zealanders, and when we put our attack in at five o’clock the Turkish reinforcements were only three miles away. So if our attack had been unsuccessful, we would have been attacked in the rear by these fresh troops. But as we were successful, the advancing Turks turned back, and so the New Zealanders could claim the victory as their own. He said that Gen. Chetwode was very much surprised when he found that the New Zealanders had captured the position. So ended the battle of “Rafa”, the hottest thing that cavalry had ever attempted.
February 10th, 1917
Things have been going on quietly in camp. This camp is called “Marsaid”. I had three days holiday to Cairo, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It takes nine hours in the train to get to the Canal, and the ride is pretty rough, as we have to ride in trucks, on top of stores. By all appearances we will soon be shifting from this camp.
February 12th, 1917
Last night we had a great Thunderstorm, accompanied by a heavy fall of rain.
February 21st, 1917
Last Tuesday, I had a game of football, playing wing forward for our troop, against No 1 Troop. The game ended in a draw. On Wednesday I played for the N.C.O’s against the troopers, which ended in a win for the men by a try to nil. It was an extremely fast game. Today we are packing up in preparation for a forward move.
February 24th, 1917
We pulled out of “Marsaid” camp at seven o’clock on Thursday morning, our regiment acting as right flank guard. We reached “Shiek Swaaid” at about five o’clock. We put put down our horse lines and fed the horses, and had a bit to eat ourselves. At half past eleven the horses were again fed and saddled. We pulled out of here at one in the morning, and reached a point near “Khan Yunis” about sic o’clock. We got in touch with the enemy and opened fire on their trenches. We were assisted by a Tommy battery. We thought at first that there was going to be a battle, but it appears that it was only a reconnaissance to test the strength of the enemy. We had a few casualties. What Turks there were fell back, and we left for our base about ten o’clock, and reached “Shiek Swaaid” at three o’clock. After picking up our horse lines, we went across the sand hills on our left, to the sea coast, where we are now encamped. Our horses had a drink on Thursday night, and didn’t get another till last night (Friday), and the poor beggars were mad with thirst. They had covered about fifty miles, and when the blazing heat of the sun, and the soft going on the sand hills considered, it is pretty hard for them. With our full load up they are carrying about eighteen stone.
March 2nd, 1917
left our camp at six on Monday morning, and proceeded south of “Khan Yunis”. We saw a body of Turkish cavalry about a mile away. When we stopped they stopped, and when we moved they also moved. I think they were trying to draw us into a trap. On Wednesday we moved out again and found that the Turks had evacuated “Khan Yunis”. The going is good for the horses over the border, and I will be glad when we camp there.
March 12th, 1917
We shifted camp last Friday, and are now encamped on the beach at the Palestine border. We went on reconnaissance yesterday, and had a distant view of “Gaza”. Coming back we passed through “Khan Yunis”. There were miles or orchards, and altogether it is a very pretty place. The town is built in the Arab style - mud houses with flat roofs - and there is a large population. Last night we were on an outpost. It rained good and hard, and today everything is wet.
March 15th, 1917
Our squadron went to “Khan Yunis” yesterday, as covering party to a well repairing party. We reached “Khan Yunis” at ten o’clock yesterday morning. The populace seemed a bit shy of us at first, but as they gained confidence they were more free. We had a great feed of oranges, and altogether spent a pleasant day. It’s a funny thing that they wouldn’t accept English money. They must have got the idea that the Germans are going to win. So we just took what we wanted, and left what money we thought fair. We left “Khan Yunis” at four in the afternoon, and then occurred a blunder which often takes place in the military. We were about an hour on our journey home, when we suddenly got the order to return to “Khan Yunis” and hold it, as the Turks were advancing. Our troop went through and about two miles past the town, and put an outpost. After about an hour we were ordered to retire and water our horses in the town, and then fall back on the rest of the squadron, which was in position behind the town. We were then told the water the horses, as we were going straight back to camp. In the meantime the rest of the regiment had come out at top speed, as they had understood we were surrounded by the enemy, and were nearly cut to pieces. Where all this business started, it is hard to tell, but no doubt some one will fall in. I think someone must have taken down a heliograph message wrongly. Lieut Ruddock had sent in a message that he had seen a squadron of the enemy moving south-west and I suppose that is what started it. Anyway, we never saw a sign of the enemy, and I don’t think anyone else did. It will be a good thing when Ruddock is out of the Mounted, as he is an absolute fool.
March 19th, 1917
Our regiment left camp at one in the morning yesterday, and we proceeded up the sea coast to a point about fifteen miles, when we turned inland. Our object was to cut off a Turkish mounted patrol which is supposed to go into “Khan Yunis” every night. We did not see them, but in the distance we saw clouds of dust made by two horsemen, who were galloping away as fast as possible. So we must have been too late. We returned to camp about two o’clock yesterday afternoon, and I was well tired.
March 29th, 1917
As soon as we had breakfast last Sunday morning (25th), we moved out on reconnaissance after which we moved back to where we had breakfast. We left here again at half past two on Monday morning, and keeping to the left of “Gaza”, got into position at the rear of the town. It was known that “Gaza” was held by a large force of the enemy, an enemy machine came over us, and opened fire on us with his machine gun. The bullets landed all round me, but I luckily escaped being hit. The enemy shelled us with a big gun, but did no damage. Our infantry attacked “Gaza” from the front, and the position was heavily shelled. Practically all the redoubts were captured by the mounted by night-fall, although the strongest redoubt still held out. The position then was practically the same as at “Rafa”, only more strongly held, and I reckon could have been captured by the mounted divisions if we had made a bayonet charge. We captured a lot of Turkish transport at the rear. Late Monday night all the mounted troops were recalled from behind “Gaza”. On Tuesday we were standing to our horses all day and night, ready to proceed out at a moments notice. Wednesday we camped at the beach about five miles from “Gaza”. We rushed the water, and had a good swim, which we badly needed, as we were covered with dirt and dust, and we were all dead weary. I don’t know how the fight at “Gaza” has proceeded as the rumours are most conflicting, but I know our infantry has suffered heavily. The Turks must have lost thousands. They have been largely reinforced, but that will all be better for us, as the next battle ought to clear the front for us. I had a good nights sleep last night, and as it was the first sleep for four nights, I thoroughly appreciated it. There is no doubt that the infantry and yeomanry fought well at “Gaza”, but they haven’t got the dash of the colonials, and they have too many restrictions. In a fight a colonial uses his head, but a Tommy can only do what he is told.
April 1st, 1917
Last Thursday we were out as inlying picquet, and on Friday we were out on observation. I had charge of the furthest post, but things were very quiet. I saw some mounted Turks in the distance, but they did not come close enough for us to have a shot at them. Some Bedouins came along with the camels laden with oranges, and we bought the oranges from them at the rate of fifteen for a shilling. Of course as we helped ourselves, we got a good fifteen. These oranges come from “Jaffa”, and are most delicious. This place where we are now is one mass of troops, and I suppose there will soon be another attack on “Gaza”.
April 5th, 1917
There has been no further fighting to date. It appears that the battle of “Gaza” was a gigantic fiasco. Whether the blame should be on the General in command, or on the officers under him, I don’t know. But this I do know. The casualties on our side amounted to about four thousand, while we had about a thousand infantry and officers captured, together with sixty machine guns, camels, and other gear. The mounted divisions were round behind “Gaza”, and could have carried the position at any time, and yet were not allowed to proceed. Up till this battle the mounteds did all the work, and did it successfully, and yet the first time we are assisted by infantry, it became a defeat. I am not blaming the Tommies, as the blame is on one of the heads. Either Gen. Murray, who is living in Shepheards Hotel in Cairo, and therefore cannot possibly successfully carry out the operations; or the English General in charge out here, Gen. Dobell, is impossible. Our boys are naturally very sore about it. And yet the funniest part about it is that it has been advertised as a British victory, and the King has congratulated Gen Murray upon it. This victory has given the Turks greater moral courage and now they will fight all the better. I can see that the next fight will be a big affair. It seems a shame that all our success should be crowned by such a rotten piece of work as “Gaza”, and I am very glad that the mounteds are not responsible. Our General is very cut up about it, and I believe that General Chetwode and General Dobell have had a big row. Gen. Chetwode told Dobell to take his infantry away out of it, and he would take “Gaza”: with his mounted troops. Anyhow, I hope the next attack is better planned. “Gaza” is a place of great biblical importance, and was at one time a leading town of the Palestine’s. It was here that Samson was brought after is capture, and where he lost his life; and although his body was taken way, his tomb is in “Gaza”. The tomb of the grandfather of Mahomet is also here, and that makes “Gaza” a sacred place in the eyes of the Moslems.
April 7th, 1917
Today we had a letter read to us, which was addressed to us by General Chauvelle. It was one big bit of dope in which he said that “Gaza” would have been captured if we had another hour of daylight, or if there had been no fog in the morning. He congratulated the troops on their magnificent fighting, and he said that “as usual” the infantry bore the brunt of the fighting, and as usual upheld the best traditions of the British Army. As this was the first time the infantry had assisted us, it is an insult to us to say that “as usual they bore the brunt of the fighting”. And as to upholding the tradition of the British army - well considering they surrounded the Turks in big bunches, there is not much tradition in that.
April 12th, 1917
About eighty of our squadron were put on town picquet last night at “Dir-el-Bela”, near our camp. Today I went out and had a look at the Tanks, and I reckon the will give the Turks a hot time. There are tons of shells here now, including two hundred pounders, and gas shells, and I wouldn’t like to be in the Turkish trenches when our artillery opens up. I have been offered a chance of going in for a commission in the infantry, but I refused as I couldn’t stand the cold and wet in France, after the heat of Egypt..
April 20th, 1917
We left camp on Monday the 15th, in the evening, and proceeded to “Shellal” which we reached at dawn. This place had recently been occupied by the Turks, but they had fallen back. It is a strong, natural position, well entrenched, and would have been a most difficult position to attack. On Tuesday, we proceeded out on outpost, returning in the evening to “Shellal”. On Wednesday we were out again on outpost, as saw Turks in the distance. When we were going out to take up our outpost, we passed a couple of wounded yeomanry. It appears they had been rushed by ten supposed Bedouins, who had shot one yeomanry chap, and then cut the throat of another boy, and the third boy was gashed across the forehead. I think they were likely disguised Turks than Bedouins. We returned to “Shellal” in the evening, some of the enemy having the cheek to follow us a good way in, and having pot shots at us. After an hours spell, we again mounted, and, riding in the direction of “Gaza”, we reached “Tel-el-Jimmy”, a very high hill, at dawn. We fed up our horses, and had a bite of bully beef and biscuit. In the distance we could see there was a big fight going on. After breakfast we were sent forward as escort to a battery of artillery. Our boys were sent into the firing line, and it was a pretty hot corner. We were on a ridge covered with growing barley, and to fire we had to expose ourselves on the skyline. In our troop we had five wounded and poor old Jim Browne was killed. The Turks advanced in thousands, but were eventually driven back. The artillery did excellent work. While mounted, an enemy plane came over us, and dropped some bombs, and then opened up his machine gun. The enemy artillery pasted us with high explosive and shrapnel. One shell burst just behind my horse, and although he only got one scratch on the leg, the horse next to me was riddled. I had enough narrow escapes to do me. I saw one of our planes shot down by an enemy plane, and it came down like a piece of wet rag. When we withdrew at nightfall, half our horses were without riders. Such is the way of war.
April 21st, 1917
We retired from the firing line last Thursday about six-thirty and proceeded to “Tel-el-Jimmy”, which had previously been held by the enemy. It was a well entrenched position, but they had to retire from it owing to our flanking movements. We took up an outpost here, relieving the Australians. Five enemy planes came over at eleven in the morning, also at five in the afternoon, and dropped a lot of bombs, catching the Australians both times. They had about twenty-five killed, and one hundred and forty wounded. Half our men are working on the redoubt, while the rest graze the horses. We watered the horses at “Abu-Sita”.
April 22nd, 1917
Last evening we left “Shiek Nuran”, and encamped near “Khan Yunis”. Today we shifted camp and went to “Hill 310”, at the “wadi Guzzeh”. This Wadi is a dried river bed, with steep sides fifteen feet or more in height.
April 29th, 1917
Up to today we have been doing outpost by night and trench digging by day. Today we shifted camp to a position about two miles to the west of “Tel-el-Fahr”.
May 6th, 1917
During the week we have been doing patrol and reconnaissance work. The men are all pretty well done up, and practically all are suffering from septic sores. We have been doing drill with the new gas masks.
May 9th, 1917
Two enemy planes gave us a visit today, and dropped several bombs, doing very little damage. A medical boy, named Crumb, was killed and also six horses.
May 16th, 1917
We saw a good air fight today between two of our machines and an enemy plane. Our machines were driven down, but were undamaged. One of our pilots was wounded.
May 24th, 1917
On Tuesday night two mounted divisions moved out to a position south-west of “Beersheba”. Our position was at “Um Ajua”. This reconnaissance was for the purpose of covering several demolition parties, whose object was to blow up the enemy railway. This stunt was very successful, as fifteen miles of railway was blown up, together with a bridge stone bridge of fifteen spans, besides several viaducts. We returned on Wednesday evening, reaching camp at quarter to twelve.
May 28th, 1917
We left camp today, and are moving back for a spell. Camped for the night near “Khan Yunis”. Saw an aeroplane fight today, but the enemy plane got the best of it, as our plane came down. It was good to see our plane getting right into the Taube, and we were very sorry that the enemy was not brought down. The enemy plane is supposed to be armoured.
June 1st, 1917
We were issued today with new Mark VII Rifles.
June 4th, 1917
An enemy plane came over our lines today and dropped some bombs, but did little damage. One of my troop got hit in the eye by a piece of bomb.
June 10th, 1917
We moved over to the beach on Friday. There are millions of flies here, otherwise it would be a good camp. Some of the men went on leave to Cairo last evening. There are rumours that we won’t all get leave, One thing stands out prominently before me, and that is the ignorant individual who is now C. O. of our regiment. One instance stands out plainly, and it is this. - When we were moving over to this camp, an order came out that we could only bring one stick each, with which to build a bivy. Now, no one can possibly build a bivy with only one stick, so most of the boys brought three or four sticks. When this C. O. saw this, he went up to one of the boys and told him he could only bring one stick. The chap replied that it was impossible to build a bivy with only one stick. The C. O. replied, “Well my orders are that only one stick each is to be carried. I don’t care a damn about your comfort”. That is a nice answer from an officer in charge of men.
June 19th, 1917
We left the beach yesterday, and we are now encamped near “Khan Yunis”. I am very pleased we are here, as we had no rest at the beach at all. I am feeling just about done up. I went to “Rafa” yesterday afternoon to bring out reinforcements. Saw a fight between one of our machines and a Taube. It looked as though the Taube was brought down. Promoted to Sergeant, dating back to June 2nd, 1917.
July 12th, 1917
On Tuesday night (July 3rd), about eleven o’clock we moved out from “El Fukari”, and rode all night, taking up a position on Wednesday morning about six o’clock, three miles from “Beersheba”. We were heavily shelled by the enemy, but we had no casualties. The first shell stampeded our horses, who were feeding. One man, who took panic, ran about three miles. He was a late reinforcement and it was his first taste of a shell. We had to make targets of ourselves to draw the enemy fire, so that the heads could form some idea of the enemy strength, and if possible locate their batteries, and reached camp at eleven. In this seven hour ride, we only dismounted about twice, and when we reached camp I was thoroughly knocked up. I reported to the doctor in the morning, and after examining me, he sent me over to the ambulance. Colonel Newton examined me and said I was very bad, and that he would send me to Aotea Home in Cairo. I left “Khan Yunis” at six o’clock on Thursday, July 5th, and I was very sad at parting from my faithful old horse, Dixie. I reached “Kantara” at six the next morning, and left there at half past nine, reaching Cairo at two o’clock. On Friday I was examined by the doctor at Aotea, and he said my heart and kidneys were very bad, and my nerves were completely gone. I sincerely hope I get back to N.Z.
August 15th, 1917
I left Aotea last Monday for the branch place at Port Said. I had a real good time during my five weeks stay in Cairo, and I was very sorry to come away. Port Said is a very dead place now. Drinking places are only open at certain periods during the day.
August 29th, 1917
I arrived back at Aotea yesterday. I didn’t like Port Said much, although of course it was better than being on the desert. We had a concert here last night, and I gave a couple of items, and got a good hearing.
November 13th, 1917
I left Aotea for “Moascar”, to await Medical Board, on September 26th. “Moascar” is the base camp, and is just outside “Ismailia”. I went up before the Medical Board on October 6th, and got a very good hearing, and was classified for return to New Zealand. The sailing of the boat was postponed several times, but on Sunday, November 11th, we had orders to proceed to Suez at half past three, and embarked on the “Wiltshire”. This is a fine big boat of about 16,000 tons, and carries five masts. We sergeants have a very good mess, and altogether we ought to have a very pleasant voyage. We pulled out of Suez yesterday at noon. The weather is beautiful, and a smooth sea.
November 18th, 1917
The weather so far has been beautiful. There is a fairly heavy head wind, but the sea is calm, and there is no perceptible roll of the ship. I have been appointed in charge of “G” deck, and I have had a very hard job getting the men to work. Of course it is a shame that these invalid men have to do the work, but the work must be done by someone.
November 23rd, 1917
We have had a beautiful passage so far, the sea being quite calm. It rained pretty heavily last night and caused quite a scatter amongst those sleeping on deck. We had a concert on board the other night, and I did a couple of turns, and got a good hearing.
November 27th, 1917
We reached Colombo on Saturday morning at half past ten. I had leave on shore Saturday afternoon and Sunday. The people were very kind, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of course, as usual a lot of men got drunk, and caused disturbances. Things like this only give us a bad name, and spoil leave for others. We left Colombo yesterday morning about half past nine.
December 6th, 1917
It rained pretty heavily last Friday night. The weather has been fine since then till last night when a heavy wind sprang up. It was the first cold night since leaving Egypt. Sports were held last Saturday, and caused great amusement, the funniest items being “Chalking the pig’s eye” and “bob apple”. Four or five of us got the sports up, and they were greatly appreciated. On Monday, we had an impromptu speech competition. Competitors had to draw a subject out of a hat, and speak on it for three minutes. I got second, winning a cigarette case, my speech being on horses. Yesterday we had a debate, the subject being “Prohibition”. I was leader of a team of four, being for prohibition. An ex publican, named Daly, led the opposition. I won 101 points, out of a possible of 110. This afternoon there was a prize given for the best speech for or against conscription. I did not enter, but gave a speech after, in favour of conscription.
December 7th, 1917
Last night the wind increased in violence, and the seas were very heavy. It is not so bad troday, but the wind is extremely cold.
December 9th, 1917
We reached Freemantle last night about eight o’clock, and anchored in the stream. A launch came out and circled round us. They had a band aboard, and played “Home sweet Home”, and I guess it made the boys feel home sick. We pulled into the wharf this morning at six o’clock.
December 10th, 1917
We had leave yesterday from eleven in the morning till ten at night. A special train took us to Perth, where they had a big spread for us at Government House. It was a very pretty place, and the people couldn’t do enough for us. They reckoned we were heroes. We pulled out of Freemantle this morning at six o’clock. It is a lovely day, and the sea calm.
December 13th, 1917
The sea has been very calm so far, but the weather has been bitterly cold, most of the boys having colds or influenza.
December 30th, 1917
We reached Melbourne on December 17th, and we looked forward to seeing the City, but we were embarked straight away on a special train for Sydney. We reached Liverpool camp next day, and had leave to Sydney. The people made a great fuss over us, and we had embarked on the “Talune” reaching Wellington on Xmas Eve. And what a difference between N.Z people and the Australian’s. While in Australia they couldn’t do enough for us in the way of kindness, entertainments, fruit, cigarettes, etc., but when we landed in Wellington, the people took practically no notice of us. I reached home next day, Xmas Day, and I cannot describe my feeling on seeing home, after such a long distance.