Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1907

An Act to provide for the reorganization of His Majesty’s military forces and for that purpose to authorize the establishment of County Associations, and the raising and maintenance of a Territorial Force, and for amending the Acts relating to the Reserve Forces. [2nd August, 1907]

Be it enacted by the King’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

Part I

County Associations

1. Establishment of associations.
1. For the purposes of the reorganization under this Act of His Majesty’s military forces other than the regulars and their reserves, and of the administration of those forces when so reorganized, and for such other purposes as are mentioned in this Act, an association may be established for any county in the United Kingdom, with such powers and duties in connection with the purposes aforesaid as may be conferred on it by or under this Act.
2. Associations shall be constituted, and the members thereof shall be appointed and hold office in accordance with schemes to be made by the Army Council.
3. Every such scheme shall provide –

a. For the date of the establishment of the association:
b. For the incorporation of the association by an appropriate name, with power to hold land for the purposes of this Act without license in mortmain:
c. For constituting the lieutenant of the county, or failing him such other person as the Army Council may think fit, president of the association:
d. For the appointment of such number of officers representative of all arms and branches of the Territorial Force raised under this Act within the county (not being less than one half of the whole number of the association) as may be specified in the scheme:
e. For the appointment by the Army Council, where it appears desirable, and after consultation with, and on the recommendation of, the authorities to be represented, of representatives of county and county borough councils and universities wholly or partly within the county:
f. For the appointment of such number of co-opted members as the scheme may prescribe, including, if thought desirable, representatives of the interests of employers and workmen:
g. For the appointment by the Army Council during the first three years after the passing of this Act, and subsequently for the election of a chairman and vice-chairman by the association, and for defining their powers and duties:
h. For the mode of appointment, term of office, and rotation of members of the association, and the filling of casual vacancies:
i. For the appointment by the association, subject to the approval of the Army Council, of a secretary and other officers of the association, and the accountability of such officers, and for the provision of offices:
j. For the procedure to be adopted, including the appointment of committees and the delegation to committees of any of the powers of or duties of the association:
k. For enabling such general officers of any part of His Majesty’s forces, and not being members of the association, as may be specified in the scheme, or officers deputed by them, to attend the meetings of the association and to speak, but not to vote:
l. For dividing the county, where on account of its size of population it seems desirable to do so, into two or more parts, and for constituting sub-associations for the several parts, and for apportioning amongst the several sub-associations all or any of the powers and duties of the association, and regulating the relations of sub-associations to the association and to one another.

4. A scheme may contain any consequential, supplemental, or transitory provisions which may appear to be necessary or proper for the purposes of the scheme, and also as respects any matter for which for which provision may be made by regulations under this Act and for which it appears desirable to make special provision affecting the association established by the scheme.
5. All schemes made in pursuance of this Part of this Act shall be laid before the Houses of Parliament.
6. Until an Order in Council has been made under this Act for transferring to the Territorial Force the units of the Yeomanry and Volunteers of any county, references in this section to the Territorial Force shall as respects that county be construed as including references to the Yeomanry and Volunteers.

2. Powers and Duties of associations.
1. It shall be the duty of an association when constituted to make itself acquainted with and conform to the plan of the Army Council for the organization of the Territorial Force within the county and to ascertain the military resources and capabilities of the county, and to render advice and assistance to the Army Council and to such officers as the Army Council may direct, and an association shall have, exercise, and discharge such powers and duties connected with the organization and administration of His Majesty’s military forces as may for the time being be transferred or assigned to it by order of His Majesty signified under the hand of a Secretary of State or, subject thereto, by regulations under this Act, but an association shall not have any powers of command or training over any part of His Majesty’s military forces.
2. The powers and duties so transferred or assigned may include any powers conferred on or vested in His Majesty, and any powers or duties conferred or imposed on the Army Council or a Secretary of State, by statute or otherwise, and in particular respecting the following matters:-

a. The organization of the units of the Territorial Force and their administration (including maintenance) at all times other than when they are called out for training or actual military service, or when embodied:
b. The recruiting for the Territorial Force both in peace and in war, and defining the limits of recruiting areas:
c. The provision and maintenance of rifle ranges, buildings, magazines, and sites of camps for the Territorial Force:
d. Facilitating the provision of areas to be used for manoeuvres:
e. Arranging with employers of labour as to holidays for training, and ascertaining the times of training best suited to the circumstances of civilian life:
f. Establishing or assisting cadet battalions and corps and also rifle clubs, provided that no financial assistance out of money voted by Parliament shall be given by an association in respect of any person in a battalion or corps in a school in receipt of a parliamentary grant until such person has attained the age of sixteen:
g. The provision of horses for the peace requirements of the Territorial Force:
h. Providing accommodation for the safe custody of arms and equipment:
i. The supply of the requirements on mobilisation of the units of the Territorial Force within the county, in so far as those requirements are directed by the Army Council to be met locally, such requirements where practicable to be embodied in regulations which shall be issued to county associations from time to time, and on the first occasion not later than the first day of January one thousand nine hundred and nine:
j. The payment of separation and other allowances to the families of men of the Territorial Force when embodied or called out on actual military service:
k. The registration in conjunction with the military authorities of horses for any of His Majesty’s forces:
l. The care of reservists and discharged soldiers.

3. Expenses of association.
1. The Army Council shall pay to an association, out of money voted by Parliament for army services, such sums as, in the opinion of the Army Council, are required to meet the necessary expenditure connected with the exercise and discharge by the association of its powers and duties.
2. An association shall submit to the Army Council annually, at the prescribed time, and may submit at any other time for any special purpose, in the prescribed form and manner, a statement of its necessary requirements, and all payments to an association by the Army Council shall be made upon the basis of such statements in so far as they are approved by the Army Council.
3. Subject to regulations under this Act, all money so paid to an association shall be applicable to any of the purposes specified in the approved statements in accordance with which the money has been granted, but not otherwise except with the written consent of the Army Council:
Provided that nothing in this section shall be construed as enabling the Army Council to give their consent to the application of money to any purpose to which, apart from this section, it could not lawfully be applied, or to give their consent, without the authority of the Treasury, in any case in which, apart from this section, the authority of the Treasury would be required.
4. All other money received by an association (except such money, if any, as may be received by it for special purposes) shall be available for the purposes of any of its powers and duties.
5. An association shall cause its accounts to be made up annually and audited in such manner as may be prescribed, and shall send copies of its accounts as audited, together with any report of the auditors thereon, to the Army Council.
6. Regulations made for the purposes of this section shall be subject to the consent of the Treasury.
7. The members of an association shall not be under any pecuniary liability for any act done by them in their capacity as members of such association in carrying out the provisions of this Act.

4. Regulations.
1. Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Army Council may make regulations for carrying this Part of this Act into effect, and may by those regulations, amongst other things, provide for the following matters:-

a. For regulating the manner in which powers are to be exercised and duties performed by associations, and for specifying the services to which money [aid by the Army Council is to be applicable:
b. For authorizing and regulating the acquisition by or on behalf of an association of land for the purposes of this Act and the disposal of any land so acquired:
c. For authorizing and regulating the borrowing of money by an association:
d. For authorizing the acceptance of any money or other property, and the taking over of any liability, by an association, and for regulating the administration of any money or property so acquired and the discharge of any liability so taken over:
e. For facilitating the co-operation of an association with any other association, or with any local authority or other body, and for providing by the constitution of joint committees or otherwise for co-operative action in the organization and administration of divisions, brigades, and other military bodies, and for the provision of assistance by one association to another:
f. For affiliating cadet corps and battalions, rifle clubs, and other bodies to the Territorial Force or any part thereof:
g. For or in respect of anything by this Part of this Act directed or authorized to be done or provided by regulations or to be done in the prescribed manner:
h. For the application for the purposes of this Part of this Act, as respects any matters to be dealt with by regulations, of any provision in any Act of Parliament dealing with the like matters, with the necessary modifications or adaptations, and in particular of any provisions as to the acquisition of land by on behalf of volunteer corps.

2. All regulations made in pursuance of this Part of this Act shall be applicable to all associations, except in so far as may be otherwise provided by the regulations or by any scheme made under this Part of this Act.
3. All regulations made under this Part of this Act shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made.

5. Joint committees of associations.
1. Any county associations may from time to time join in appointing out of their respective bodies a joint committee for any purpose in respect of which they are jointly interested.
2. Any association appointing a joint committee under this subsection may delegate to it any power which such association might exercise of the purpose for which the committee is appointed.
3. Subject to the terms of delegation any such joint committee shall be defrayed by the associations by whom it has been appointed, in such proportion as may be agreed between them, and the accounts of such joint committees and their officers shall for the purposes of the provisions of this Act be deemed to be accounts of the associations appointing them and of their officers.

Part II

TERRITORIAL FORCE

Raising and Maintenance of Force

6. Raising and number of Territorial Force.
It shall be lawful for His Majesty to raise and maintain a force, to be called the “Territorial Force”, consisting of such number of men as may from time to time be provided by Parliament.

7. Government, discipline, and pay of Territorial Force.
1. Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, it shall be lawful for His Majesty, by order signified under the hand of a Secretary of State, to make orders with respect to the government, discipline and pay and allowances of the Territorial Force, and with respect to all other matters and things relating to the Territorial Force, including any matter by this Part of this Act authorized to be prescribed or expressed to be subject to orders or regulations.
2. The said orders may provide for the formation of men of the Territorial Force into regiments, battalions, or other military bodies, and for the formation of such regiments, battalions, or other military bodies into corps, either alone or jointly with any other part of His Majesty’s forces, and for appointing, transferring, or attaching men of the Territorial Force to corps, and for posting, attaching, or otherwise dealing with such men within the corps; and may provide for the constitution of a permanent staff, including adjutants and staff sergeants who shall, except in special circumstances certified by the general officer commanding be members of His Majesty’s regular forces; and may regulate the appointment, rank, duties and numbers of officers and non-commissioned officers of the Territorial Force.
3. Subject to the provisions of any such order, the Army Council may make general or special regulations with respect to any matter with respect to which His Majesty may make orders under this section.
4. Provided that the said orders or regulations shall not –

a. affect or extend the term for which, or the area within which, a man of the Territorial Force is liable under this Part of this Act to serve; or
b. authorize a man of the Territorial Force when belonging to one corps to be transferred without his consent to another corps; or
c. when the corps of a man of the Territorial Force includes more than one unit, authorize him when not embodied to be posted, without his consent, to any unit other than that to which he was posted on enlistment; or
d. when a corps of a man if the Territorial Force includes any battalion or other body of the regular forces, authorize him to be posted without his consent to that battalion or body.

5. Where a man of the Territorial Force was enlisted or re-engaged before the date of any order or regulation under this Part of this Act, nothing in such order or regulation shall render him liable without his consent to be appointed, transferred or attached to any military body to which he could not without his consent have been appointed, transferred or attached if the said order or regulation had not been made.
6. Orders and regulations under this section may provide for the formation of a reserve division of the Territorial Force, and may relax or dispense with any of the provisions of this Act relating to the training of the men of the Territorial Force so far as regards their application to men in the reserve division, and may, notwithstanding anything in this section, authorize a man in the reserve division to be transferred from one corps to another, so, however that a man in the reserve division shall not, without his consent, be transferred to a corps of another arm.
7. All orders and general regulations made under this section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made.

8. First appointments to lowest rank of officers of the Territorial Force.
Subject to any directions which may be given by His Majesty, first appointments to the lowest rank of officer in any unit of the Territorial Force shall be given to persons recommended by the president of the association for the county, if a person approved by His Majesty is recommended by the president for any such within thirty days after the notice of a vacancy for the appointment has been given to the president in the prescribed manner, provided he fulfils all the prescribed conditions as to age, physical fitness, and educational qualifications; and, where a unit comprises men of the Territorial Force of two or more counties the recommendations for such appointments shall be made by the presidents of the associations for the respective counties in such rotation or otherwise as may be prescribed.

9. Enlistment, term of service and discharge.
1. Subject to the provisions of this Part of this Act, all men of the Territorial Force shall be enlisted by such persons and in such manner and subject to such regulations as may be prescribed:
Provided that every man enlisted under this Part of this Act –

a. Shall be enlisted for a county for which an association has been established under this Act and shall be appointed to serve in such corps for that county or for an area comprising the whole or part of that county as he may select, and, if that corps comprises more than one unit within the county, shall be posted to such one of those units as he may select:
b. Shall be enlisted to serve for such a period as may be prescribed, not exceeding four years, reckoned from the date of his attestation:
c. May be re-engaged within twelve months before the end of his current term of service for such a period as may be prescribed not exceeding four years from the end of that term, and on re-engagement shall make the prescribed declaration before a justice of the peace or an officer, and so from time to time.

2. A man enlisted in the Territorial Force, until duly discharged in the prescribed manner, shall remain subject to this Part of this Act as a man of the Territorial Force.
3. Any man of the Territorial Force shall, except when a proclamation ordering the Army Reserve to be called out on permanent service is in force, be entitled to be discharged before the end of his current term of service on complying with the following conditions:-

i. Giving his commanding officer three months’ notice in writing, or such less notice as may be prescribed, of his desire to be discharged; and
ii. Paying for the use of the association of the county for which he was enlisted such sum as may be prescribed not exceeding five pounds; and
iii. Delivering up in good order, fair wear and tear only excepted, all arms, clothing, and appointments, being public property, issued to him, or, in cases where for any good and sufficient cause the delivery of the property aforesaid is impossible, on paying the value thereof:

Provided that it shall be lawful for the association for the county, or for any officer authorized by the association, in any case in which it appears that the reasons for which the discharge is claimed are of sufficient urgency or weight, to dispense either wholly or in part with all of the above conditions.
4. A man of the Territorial Force may be discharged by his commanding officer for disobedience to orders by him while doing any military duty, or for neglect of duty, or for misconduct by him as a man of the Territorial Force, or for other sufficient cause, the existence and sufficiency of such cause to be judged by the commanding officer:
Provided that any man so discharged shall be entitled to appeal to the Army Council who may give such direction in any such case as they may think just and proper.
5. Where the time at which a man of the Territorial Force would otherwise be entitled to be discharged occurs while a proclamation ordering the Army Reserve to be called out on permanent service is in force, he may be required to prolong his service for such further period, not exceeding twelve months, as the competent military authority may order.

10. Application of certain sections of the Army Act.
1. The following sections of the Army Act shall apply to the Territorial Force (that is to say):-

Section eighty (relating to the mode of enlistment and attestation);
Section ninety-six (relating to the claims of masters to apprentices);
Section ninety-eight (imposing a fine for unlawful recruiting);
Section ninety-nine (making recruits punishable for false answers);
So much of section one hundred as relates to the validity of attestation and enlistment re-engagement;
Section one hundred and one (relating to the competent military authority); and

So much of section one hundred and sixty-three as relates to attestation paper, or a copy thereof, or a declaration, being evidence.
And the said sections shall apply in like manner as if they were herein re-enacted, with substitution-

a) Of “Territorial Force” for “regular forces”, and of “man of the Territorial Force” for “soldier”; and
b) (In section one hundred) of “has not within three months claimed his discharge on any ground on which he is entitled under this subsection to do so” for “has received pay as a soldier of the regular forces during three months.”

2. A recruit may be attested by any lieutenant or deputy lieutenant of any county in the United Kingdom, or by an officer of the regular or Territorial forces, and the sections of the Army Act in this section mentioned, and also section thirty-three of the same Act, shall as applied to the Territorial Force be construed as if a justice of the peace in those sections included such lieutenant, deputy lieutenant or officer.

11. Enlistment of men discharged with disgrace from Army or Navy, or contrary to rules.
1. If a person-

a. Having been discharged with disgrace from any part of His Majesty’s forces, or having been dismissed with disgrace from the Navy, has afterwards enlisted in the Territorial Force without declaring the circumstances of his discharge or dismissal; or
b. Is concerned when subject to military law in the enlistment for service in the Territorial Force of any man, when he knows or has reasonable cause to believe such man to be so circumstanced that by enlisting he commits an offence against the Army Act or this Act; or
c. Willfully contravenes when subject to military law any enactments, orders, or regulations which relate to the enlistment or attestation of men in the Territorial Force.

he shall be guilty of an offence, and shall, whether otherwise subject to military law or not, be liable to be tried by court martial, and on conviction to suffer such punishment as is imposed for the like offence by section thirty-two or thirty-four of the Army Act, as the case may be, and may be taken into military custody.
2. For the purpose of this section the expression “discharged with disgrace” means discharged with ignominy, discharged as incorrigible and worthless, or discharged for misconduct, or discharged on account of a conviction for felony or a sentence of penal servitude.

12. Enlistment into army reserve.
If a man of the Territorial Force enlists into the army reserve without being discharged from the Territorial Force, the terms and conditions of his service whilst he remains in the army reserve shall be those applicable to him as a man belonging to the army reserve, and not those applicable to him as a man of the Territorial Force.

13. Area of service of Territorial Force.
1. Any part of the Territorial Force shall be liable to serve in any part of the United Kingdom, but no part of the Territorial Force shall be carried or ordered to go out of the United Kingdom.
2. Provided that it shall be lawful for His Majesty, if he thinks fit, to accept the offer of any part or men of the Territorial Force, signified through their commanding officer, to subject themselves to the liability-

a. To serve in any place outside the United Kingdom; or
b. To be called out for actual military service for purposes of defence at such places in the United Kingdom as may be specified in their agreement, whether the Territorial Force is embodied or not;

and, upon any such offer being accepted, they shall be liable, whenever required during the period to which the offer extends, to serve or be called out accordingly.
3. A person shall not be compelled to make such an offer, or be subjected to such liability as aforesaid, except by his own consent, and a commanding officer shall not certify any voluntary offer previously to his having explained to every person making the offer that the offer is to be purely voluntary on his part.

Training

14. Preliminary training of recruits of Territorial Force.
1. Every man of the Territorial Force shall, by way of preliminary training, during the first year of his original enlistment –

a. If so provided by Order in Council, be trained at such places within the United Kingdom, at such times, and for such periods, not exceeding in the whole the number of days specified by the Order in Council, as may be prescribed, and may for that purpose be called out once or oftener; and
b. Whether such an Order in Council has been made or not, attend the number of drills and fulfil the other conditions prescribed for a recruit of his arm or branch of the service.

2. The requirement to attend training and drills, and to fulfil conditions under this section, shall be in addition to the requirement to attend training and drills and to fulfil conditions for the purpose of annual training.

15. Annual training.
1. Subject to the provisions of this section, every man of the Territorial Force shall, by way of annual training –

a. Be trained for not less than eight nor more than fifteen, or in the case of the mounted branch eighteen, days every year at such times and at such places in any part of the United Kingdom as may be prescribed, and may for that purpose be called out once or oftener in every year:
b. Attend the number of drills and fulfil the other conditions relating to training prescribed for his arm or branch of the service:

Provided that the requirements of this section may be dispensed with in whole or in part –

i. as respects any unit, by the prescribed general officer; and
ii. as respects an individual man, by his commanding officer subject to any general directions by the prescribed general officer.

2. His Majesty in Council may-

a. Order that the period of annual training in any year of all or part of the Territorial Force be extended, but so that the whole period id annual training be not more than thirty days in any year; or
b. Order that the period of annual training in any year of all or part of the Territorial Force be reduced to such time as to His Majesty may seem fit; or
c. Order that in any year the annual training of all or part of the Territorial Force may be dispensed with.

3. Nothing in this section shall be construed as preventing a man, with his own consent, in addition to annual training, being called up for the purpose of duty or instruction in accordance with orders and regulations under this Part of this Act.

16. Laying of draft Orders in Council relating to training before Parliament.
Before any Order in Council is made under this Act providing for preliminary training or extending the period of annual training the draft thereof shall be laid before each House of Parliament for a period of not less than forty days during the Session of Parliament, and, if either of those Houses before the expiration of forty days presents an address to His Majesty against the draft or any part thereof, no further proceedings shall be taken, without prejudice to the making of a new draft Order.

Embodiment

17. Embodiment of Territorial Force.
1. Immediately upon and by virtue of the issue of a proclamation ordering the Army Reserve to be called out on permanent service, it shall be lawful for His Majesty to order the Army Council from time to time to give, and when given to revoke or vary, such directions as may seem necessary or proper for embodying all or any part of the Territorial Force, and in particular to make such special arrangements as they think proper with regard to units or individuals whose services may be required in other than a military way.
Provided that, where under any such proclamation directions have been issued for calling out all the men belonging to the first class of Army Reserve, the Army Council shall, within one month after such directions have been issued, issue directions for embodying all the men belonging to the Territorial Force, unless an address has been presented to His Majesty by both Houses of Parliament praying that such directions as last foresaid be not issued, and such directions shall not, unless the emergency so requires, be given until Parliament has had an opportunity of presenting such an address.
2. Whenever, in consequence of the calling out of the whole of the first class of the Army Reserve, directions are required under this section to be given for embodying the Territorial Force, if Parliament be then separated by such adjournment or prorogation as will not expire within ten days, a proclamation shall be issued for the meeting of Parliament within ten days, and Parliament shall accordingly meet and sit upon the day appointed by such proclamation, and shall continue to sit and act in like manner as if it had stood adjourned or prorogated to the same day.
3. Every order and all directions given under this section shall be obeyed as if enacted in this Act, and, where such directions for the time being direct the embodiment of any part of the Territorial Force, every officer and man belonging to that part shall attend at the place and time fixed by those directions, and after that time shall be deemed to be embodied, and such officers and men are in this Act referred to as embodied or as the embodied part or parts of the Territorial Force.

18. Disembodying of Territorial Force.
1. It shall be lawful for His Majesty by proclamation to order that the Territorial Force be disembodied, and thereupon the Army Council shall give such directions as may seem necessary or proper for carrying the said proclamation into effect.
2. Until any such proclamation of His Majesty has been issued the Army Council may from time to time, as they may think expedient for the public service, give such directions as may seem necessary or proper for disembodying any embodied part of the Territorial Force, and for embodying any part of the Territorial Force not embodied, whether previously disembodied or otherwise.
3. After the date fixed by the directions of disembodiment of any part of the Territorial Force, the officers and men belonging to that part shall be in the position of officers and men of the Territorial Force not embodied.

Notices

19. Services and publication of notices.
Notices required in pursuance of this Part of this Act or of the orders and regulations in force thereunder to be given to men of the Territorial Force shall be served or published in such manner as may be prescribed, and, if so served or published, shall be deemed to be sufficient notice, and every constable and overseer shall, when so required by or on behalf of the Army Council, conform with the orders and regulations for the time being in force under this Part of this Act with respect to the publication and service of notices, and in default shall be liable on conviction under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds.

Offences

20. Punishment for failure to attend on embodiment.
1. Any man of the Territorial Force who without leave lawfully granted, or such sickness or other reasonable excuse as may be allowed in the prescribed manner, fails to appear at the time and place appointed for assembling on embodiment, shall be guilty, according to the circumstances, of deserting within the meaning of section twelve, or of absenting himself without leave within the meaning of section fifteen, of the Army Act, and shall, whether otherwise subject to military law or not, be liable to be tried by court-martial, and convicted and punished accordingly, and may be taken into military custody.
2. Sections one hundred and fifty-three and one hundred and fifty-four of the Army Act shall apply with respect to deserters and desertion within the meaning of this section in like manner as they apply with respect to deserters and desertion within the meaning of those sections, and any person who, knowing any man of the Territorial Force to be a deserter within the meaning of this section or of the Army Act, employs or continues to employ him, shall be deemed to aid him on concealing himself within the meaning of the first-mentioned section.
3. Where a man of the Territorial Force commits the offence of desertion under this section the time which elapsed between the time of his committing the offence and the time of his apprehension or voluntary surrender shall not be taken into account in reckoning his service for the purpose of discharge.

21. Punishment for failure to fulfil training conditions.
Any man of the Territorial Force who without leave lawfully granted, or such sickness or other reasonable excuse as may be allowed in the prescribed manner, fails to appear at the time and place appointed for preliminary training, or for annual training, or fails to attend the number of drills and fulfil the other conditions relating to preliminary or annual training prescribed for his arm or branch of the service, shall be liable to forfeit to His Majesty a sum of money not exceeding five pounds recoverable on complaint to a court of summary jurisdiction by the prescribed officer, and any sums recovered by such officer shall be accounted for by him in the prescribed manner.

22. Wrongful sale, etc. of public property.
If any person designedly makes away with, sells or pawns, or wrongfully destroys or damages or negligently loses anything issued to him as an officer or man of the Territorial Force, or wrongfully refuses or neglects to deliver up on demand anything issued to him as an officer or man of the Territorial Force, the value thereof shall be recoverable from him on complaint to a court of summary jurisdiction by the county association; and he shall also, for any such offence of designedly making away with, selling or pawning, or wrongfully destroying as aforesaid, be liable on conviction under the Summary Jurisdiction Act to a fine not exceeding five pounds.

Civil Rights and Exemptions

23. Civil rights and exemptions.
1. The acceptance of a commission as an officer of the Territorial Force shall not vacate the seat of any member returned to serve in Parliament.
2. An officer or man of the Territorial Force shall not be liable to any penalty or punishment for or on account of his absence during the time he is voting at any election of a member to serve in Parliament, or during the time he is going to or returning from such voting.
3. If a sheriff is an officer of the Territorial Force, then during embodiment he shall be discharged from personally performing the office of sheriff, and the under sheriff shall be answerable for the execution of the said office in the name of the high sheriff; and the security given by the under sheriff and his pledges to the high sheriff shall stand as a security to the King and to all persons whomsoever for the due performance of the office of sheriff during such time.
4. An officer or man of the Territorial Force shall not be compelled to serve as a peace officer or parish officer, and shall be exempt from serving on any jury, and a field officer of the Territorial Army shall not be required to serve in the office of high sheriff.

Legal Proceedings

24. Trial of offences and application of penalties.
1. Any offence under this Part of this Act, and any offence under the Army Act if committed by a man of the Territorial Force when not embodied, which is cognizable by a court-martial shall also be cognizable by a court of summary jurisdiction, and on conviction by such a court shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or with a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, or with both such imprisonment and fine, but nothing in this provision shall affect the liability of a person charged with any such offence to be taken into military custody.
2. Any offence which under this Part of this Act is punishable on conviction by court-martial, shall for all purposes of and incidental to the arrest, trial and punishment if the offender, including the summary dealing with the case by his commanding officer, be deemed to be an offence under the Army Act, with this modification, that any reference in that Act to forfeiture and stoppages shall be construed to refer to such forfeitures and stoppages as may be prescribed.
3. Any offence which under this Part of this Act is punishable on conviction by a court of summary jurisdiction may be prosecuted, and any fine recoverable on such conviction may be recovered, in manner prescribed by sections one hundred and sixty-six, one hundred and sixty-seven and one hundred and sixty-eight of the Army Act, in like manner as if these sections were herein re-enacted and in terms made applicable to the Part of this Act, subject to the following modifications (namely) –

Every fine imposed under this Part of this Act on a man of the Territorial Force, or recovered on a prosecution instituted under this Part of this Act, shall, notwithstanding anything in any Act or charter or in the said sections to the contrary, be paid to the association of the county for which the man was enlisted.

4. Where a man of the Territorial Force is subject to military law and is illegally absent from his duty, a court of inquiry under section seventy-two of the Army Act may be assembled after the expiration of twenty-one days from the date of such absence, notwithstanding that the period during which he was subject to military law is less than twenty-one days or has expired before the expiration of twenty-one days.

25. Supplemental provisions as to trial of offences.
1. A person charged with an offence which under this Part of this Act is cognizable both by a court-martial and by a court of summary jurisdiction shall not be liable to be tried both by a court-martial and by a court of summary jurisdiction, but may be tried by either of them, as may be prescribed:

Provided that a man who has been dealt with summarily by his commanding officer shall be deemed to have been tried by court-martial.

2. Proceedings against an offender before either a court-martial or his commanding officer, or a court of summary jurisdiction, in respect of an offence punishable under this Part of this Act, and alleged to have been committed by him when a man of the Territorial Force, may be instituted whether the term of his service in the Territorial Force has or has not expired, and may, notwithstanding anything in any other Act, be instituted at any time within two months after the time at which the offence becomes known to his commanding officer if the alleged offender is then apprehended, or, if he is not then apprehended, then within two months after the time at which he is apprehended.
3. Where an offender has on several occasions been guilty of desertion, fraudulent enlistment, or making a false answer, he may for the purposes of any proceedings against him be deemed to belong to any one or more of the corps to which he has been appointed or transferred as well as to the corps to which he properly belongs, and it shall be lawful to charge the offender with any number of the above-mentioned offences at the same time, whether they are offences within the meaning of the Army Act or offences within the meaning of this Part of this Act, and to give evidence of such offences against him, and, if he has been convicted or more than one offence, to punish him accordingly as if he had been previously convicted of any such offence.

26. Evidence.
1. Section one hundred and sixty-four of the Army Act (which relates to evidence of the civil conviction or acquittal of a person subject to military law) shall apply to a man of the Territorial Force who is tried by a civil court, whether he is or is not at the time of such trial subject to military law.
2. Section one hundred and sixty-three of the Army Act (relating to evidence) shall apply to all proceedings under this Part of this Act.

Miscellaneous

27. Exercise of powers vested in holder of military office.
1. Any power or jurisdiction given to, and act or thing to be done by, to, or before any person holding any military office may, in relation to the Territorial Force, be exercised by or done by, to, or before any other person for the time being authorized in that behalf, according to the custom of the Service.
2. Where by this Part of this Act, or by any order or regulation in force under this Part of this Act, any order is authorized to be made by any military authority, such order may be signified by an order, instruction, or letter under the hand of any officer authorized to issue orders on behalf of such military authority, and an order, instruction, or letter purporting to be signed by any officer appearing therein to be so authorized shall be evidence of his being so authorized.

28. Application of enactments.
1. The Army Act shall apply to the Territorial Force and officers and men thereof in like manner as it applies to the Militia, and officers and men of the Militia, except that men of the Territorial Force shall, in addition, be subject to military law when called out on actual military service for purposes of defence, and shall be liable to dismissal as punishment, and for that purpose the amendments contained in the First Schedule to this Act shall be made in the Army Act.
2. For the purposes of section one hundred and forty-three of the Army Act and of all other enactments relating to such duties, tolls, and ferries as are in that section mentioned, officers and men belonging to the Territorial Force, when going to or returning from any place at which they are required to attend, and for non-attendance at which they are liable to be punished, shall be deemed to be officers and soldiers of the regular forces on duty.
3. His Majesty may by Order in Council apply, with the necessary adaptations, to the Territorial Force or the officers or men belonging to that force any enactment relating to the Militia, Yeomanry, or Volunteers, or officers or men of the Militia, Yeomanry, or Volunteers, other than enactments with respect to the raising, service, pay, discipline, or government of the Militia, Yeomanry, or Volunteers, and every such order in council shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament.

Transitory

29. Transitory provisions.
1. Where an association has been established under this Act for any county His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer to the Territorial Force such units of the Yeomanry and Volunteers or part thereof raised in the county as may be specified in the Order, and every such unit or part thereof shall from the date mentioned in the Order be deemed to have been lawfully formed under this Part of this Act as an unit of the Territorial Force as provided by the Order, and the provisions of this Part of this Act shall apply to it accordingly.
2. Every officer and man of an unit or part thereof mentioned in any such Order shall, from the date mentioned in that Order, be deemed to be an officer or man of the Territorial Force. Provided that nothing in this section or in any Order made thereunder shall, without his consent, affect the conditions or area of service of any person commissioned, enlisted, or enrolled before the passing of this Act.
3. An Order in Council under this section may provide –

a. For the application to officers and men who become subject thereto of the provisions of this Act as to conditions and area of service and for the continuance of the application to officers and men who remain subject thereto of the provisions as to conditions and area of service previously in force as respects those officers and men:
b. For transferring to the association any property vested in a Secretary of State for the purposes of any unit to which the Order relates:
c. For transferring to the association any property belonging to or held for the benefit of any such unit, so, however, that all property so transferred shall, as from the date of the transfer, be held by the association for the benefit in like manner of the corresponding unit of the Territorial Force or for other such purposes as the association, with the consent of such corresponding units, to be ascertained in the prescribed manner, shall direct; and any question which may arise as to whether any property is transferred to an association, or as to the trusts or purposes upon or for which it is or ought to be held, shall be referred for the decision of a Secretary of State whose decision shall be final. The corresponding unit of the Territorial Force shall, in the event of any such transfer, become entitled, notwithstanding the terms of any trust, limitation, or condition affecting the property so transferred to the estate or interest in such property of the unit to the property of which the order relates; but, subject to this provision, the interest of any beneficiary other than such unit shall not, without the consent of such beneficiary, be affected. The order may, if it be deemed proper, having regard to the special circumstances of any case, provide for the appointment of special trustees to act together with or to the exclusion of the association in regard to any such property and such special trustees may be the existing trustees of such property:
d. For transferring to the association any liabilities of any such unit which the association is willing to assume, and providing for the discharge of any such liabilities which are so transferred:
e. For transferring to the association any land or interest in land acquired by the council of a county or borough on behalf of any volunteer corps to which the order relates, and any outstanding liabilities of the council incurred in respect thereof, if the council and the association consent:

and may contain such supplemental, consequential, and incidental provisions as may appear necessary or proper for the purposes of the Order.

4. Every Order in Council made under this section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament.

Part III

RESERVE FORCES

30. Enlistment and terms of service of special reservists, 45 & 46 Vict. C. 48.
1. The power of enlisting men into the first class of the army reserve under the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, shall extend to the enlistment of men who have not served in His Majesty’s regular forces, and men so enlisted who have not served in the regular forces are in the Part of this Act referred to as special reservists, and a special reservist may be re-engaged, and when re-engaged shall continue subject to the terms of service applicable to special reservists.
2. A special reservist may, in addition to being called out for annual training, be called out for a special course or special courses of training at such place or places within the United Kingdom at such time or times and for such period or periods, not exceeding in the whole six months, as may be prescribed, in like manner and subject to the like conditions as he may be called out for annual training, and may during any such course be attached to or trained with any body of His Majesty’s forces.
3. Notwithstanding the provisions of section eleven of the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, any special reservists may be called out for annual training for such period or periods as may be prescribed by any order or regulations under the Reserve Forces Act, 1882.
4. Provided that where one of the conditions on which a man was enlisted or re-engaged is that he shall not be called out for training, whether special or annual, for a longer period than the period specified in his attestation paper, he shall not be liable under this section to be called out for any longer period.
5. Where a proclamation ordering the army reserve to be called out on permanent service has been issued, it shall be lawful for His Majesty at any time thereafter by proclamation to order that all special reservists shall cease to be so called out, and thereupon a Secretary of State shall give such directions as may seem necessary or proper for carrying the said proclamation into effect.
6. A special reservist who enlists into the regular forces shall upon such enlistment be deemed to be discharged from the army reserve.

31. Agreements as to extension of service.
A Secretary of State may, by regulations under the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, authorize any special reservist having the qualifications prescribed by those regulations to agree in writing that, if the time when he would otherwise be entitled to be discharged occurs whilst he is called out on permanent service, he will continue to serve until the expiration of a period, whether definite or indefinite, specified in the agreement, and, if any man who enters into such an agreement is so called out he shall be liable to be detained in service for the period specified in his agreement in the same manner in all respects as if he his term of service were still unexpired.

32. Liability of reservists to be called out.
1. A special reservist shall, if he so agrees in writing, be liable during the whole of his service in the army reserve, or during such part of that service as he so agrees, to be called out on permanent service without such proclamation or communication to Parliament as is mentioned in section twelve of the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, and the calling out of men under this section shall not involve the meeting of Parliament as required by section thirteen of that Act:
Provided that-

a. The number of men so liable shall not at any time exceed four thousand:
b. The power of calling out of men under this section shall not be exercised except when they are required for service outside the United Kingdom when war-like operations are in preparation or in progress:
c. Any agreement under this section may provide for the revocation thereof by such notice in writing as may be therein stated:
d. Any exercise of the power of calling out men under this section shall be reported to Parliament as soon as may be:
e. The number of men for the time being called out under this section shall not be reckoned in the number of the forces authorized by the Annual Army Act for the time being in force.

2. Six thousand shall be substituted for five thousand as the maximum number of men liable to be called out under section one of the Reserve Forces and Militia Act, 1898, and the liability to be called out under that section may, if so agreed, extend to the first two years of a man’s service in the first class of the army reserve.
3. In paragraph (5) of section one hundred and seventy-six of the Army Act the words “under His Majesty’s proclamation” shall be repealed.

33. Power to form battalions, etc. of reservists.
Orders and regulations under the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, may provide for the formation of special reservists into regiments, battalions or other military bodies, and for the formation of such regiments, battalions or other military bodies into corps, either alone or jointly with any other part of His Majesty’s forces, and for appointing, transferring, or attaching special reservists to such corps, and for posting, attaching, or otherwise dealing with special reservists within such corps.

34. Transfer of Militia battalions to reserve.
1. His Majesty may by Order in Council transfer to the Army Reserve such battalions of the Militia as may be specified in the order, and every battalion so transferred shall from the date mentioned in the order be deemed to have been lawfully formed under this Part of this Act as a battalion of special reservists.
2. As from the said date every officer of any battalion so transferred shall be deemed to be an officer in the reserve of officers, and every man in such battalion shall be deemed to be a special reservist, and the order may contain such provisions as may seem necessary for applying the provisions of the Reserve Forces Acts, 1882 to 1906, as amended by this Act, to those officers and men:
Provided that, unless any officer or man in any battalion so transferred indicates his assent to such transfer certified by his commanding officer, nothing in the order shall affect his existing conditions of service.
3. All Orders in Council made under this section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament.

35. Amendment of 45 & 46 Vict. C. 48, s. 6 (4).
Subsection (4) of section six of the Reserve Forces Act, 1882, which makes a certificate purporting to be signed by an officer appointed to pay men belonging to the army reserve evidence in certain cases, shall, where a person other than an officer is appointed to pay men belonging to the army reserve, apply to certificates purporting to be signed by such person.

36. Commissions reserve of officers not to vacate seat in Parliament.
The acceptance of a commission as an officer in the reserve of officers shall not vacate the seat of any member returned to serve in Parliament.

Part IV

SUPPLEMENTAL

37. Provisions as to orders, schemes, and regulations.
1. Every Order in Council or scheme required by this Act to be laid before each House of Parliament shall be so laid within forty days next after it is made, if Parliament is then sitting, if not, within forty days after the commencement of the then next ensuing session; and, if an address is presented to His Majesty by either House of Parliament within the next subsequent forty days, praying that any such order or scheme may be annulled, His Majesty may thereupon by Order in Council annual the same, and the order or scheme so annulled shall thenceforth become void and of no effect, but without prejudice to the validity of any proceedings which may in the meantime have been taken under the same.
2. All Orders in Council, orders, schemes, and regulations made under this Act may be varied or revoked by subsequent Orders in Council, orders, schemes, and regulations made in the like manner and subject to the like conditions.

38. Definitions.
The expression “county” means a county or riding of a county for which a lieutenant is appointed, and includes the City of London; and each county of a city or county of a town mentioned in the first column of the Second Schedule to this Act shall be deemed to form part of the county set opposite thereto in the second column of that schedule;

The expression “man of the Territorial Force” includes a non-commissioned officer;

The expression “prescribed” means prescribed by orders or regulations;
Other expressions have the same meaning as in the Army Act.

39. Special provisions as to special places.
1. The Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports may ex-officio be a member of the association of the county of Kent or of the county of Sussex, or both, as may be provided by schemes under this Act.
2. The Warden of the Stannaries may ex-officio be a member of the association of the county of Cornwall or of the county of Devon, or of both, as may be provided by the schemes under this Act.
3. The Lord Mayor of the City of London shall ex-officio be president of the association of the City of London.
4. The Governor or Deputy Governor of the Isle of Wight shall ex-officio be a member of the association of the county of Southampton.
5. Nothing in this Act shall affect the raising and levying of the Trophy Tax as heretofore in the City of London, but the proceeds of the Tax so levied may be applied by His Majesty’s Commissioners of Lieutenancy for the City of London, if the Royal London Militia Battalion is re-constituted as a battalion of the Army Reserve, for any purposes connected with that battalion, and may also, if His Majesty’s Commissioners of Lieutenancy for the City of London is their discretion see fit, be applied for the purposes of any of the powers and duties of the association of the City of London under this Act.

40. Application to Scotland and the Isle of Man.
1. In the application of this Act to Scotland the following modifications shall be made:-

a. This Act shall apply to a county or a city in like manner as to any other county: Provided that on the representation or with the consent of the corporation of any county of a city it shall be lawful for His Majesty, by order signified under the hand of a Secretary of State, at any time after the passing of this Act, to declare that such county of a city shall for the purposes of this Act be deemed to form part of the county set opposite thereto in the second column of the Third Schedule to this Act and to provide for all matters which may appear necessary or proper for giving full effect to the order;
b. The expression “county borough council” means the town council of a royal, parliamentary, or police burgh with a population of or exceeding twenty thousand according to the census for the time being last taken;
c. The expression “land” includes heritages;
d. The expression “overseer” means an inspector of poor.

2. This Act shall apply to the Isle of Man as if it formed part of, and were included in the expression the United Kingdom, subject to the following modifications:-

a. The Isle of Man shall be deemed to be a separate county;
b. References to the Governor of the Island shall be substituted for references to the lieutenant of a county;
c. References to a High Bailiff or two justices of the peace and to conviction by such Bailiff or justices shall be substituted for references to a court of summary jurisdiction and to conviction under the Summary Jurisdiction Acts;
d. References to the Tynwald Court shall be substituted for references to Parliament in the section of this Act relating to civil rights and exemptions.

41. Short title.
This Act may be cited as the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act, 1907, and so far as it relates to the reserve forces may be cited with the Reserve Forces Acts, 1882 to 1906, as the Reserve Forces Acts, 1882 to 1907.

 

SCHEDULES

FIRST SCHEDULE

AMENDMENT OF ARMY ACT

Section Amendment
S. 13 (1) (a) and (b) After the word “Militia” there shall be inserted the words “or Territorial Force.”
S. 115 (7) After the words “whenever” there shall be inserted the words “a proclamation ordering the Army Reserve to be called out on permanent service or”
S. 115 (8) After the words “then if” there shall be inserted the words “a proclamation ordering the Army Reserve to be called out on permanent service or”
S. 175 After paragraph (3) there shall be inserted the following paragraph :–

“(3a) Officers of the Territorial Force other than members of the permanent staff”

S. 176 After paragraph (6) there shall be inserted the following paragraph :-

“6(a) All non-commissioned officers and men belonging to the Territorial Force –

(a) When they are being trained or exercised, either alone or with any portion of the regular forces or otherwise; and

(b) When attached to or otherwise acting as part of or with any regular forces; and

(c) When embodied; and

(d) When called out for actual military service for purposes of defence in pursuance of any agreement.”

S. 181 (4) The words “the unit if the Territorial Force” shall be inserted after the words “officer commanding,” where those words first occur, and the words “an unit of the Territorial Force,” shall be inserted after those words where they secondly occur, and the words “Territorial Force,” shall be inserted after the words “an officer, non-commissioned officer, or man of the”
S. 181 (4) (a) After the word “any” there shall be inserted the words “man of the Territorial Force or”
S. 181 (4) (b) and (c) The word “Militia” shall be repealed in both places where that word occurs and the words “of the Territorial Force or Militia” shall be inserted after the word “man” in both places where it occurs.
S. 181 (6) After the word “Volunteers” there shall be inserted the words “of the Territorial Force.”
S. 181 (12) After the word “means” there shall be inserted the words “the Territorial Force.”

                                                               

SECOND SCHEDULE

Name of Cities and Towns County
ENGLAND
County of the city of Chester Chester
County of the city of Exeter Devon
County of the city of Gloucester Gloucester
County of the city of Bristol Gloucester
County of the city of Canterbury Kent
County of the city of Lincoln Lincoln
County of the city of Norwich Norfolk
County of the town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne Northumberland
Borough and town of Berwick-upon-Tweed Northumberland
County of the town of Nottingham Nottingham
County of the town of Southampton Southampton
County of the city of Lichfield Stafford
County of the city of Worcester Worcester
County of the city of York West Riding of York
County of the town of Kingston-upon-Hull East Riding of York
County of the town of Carmarthen Carmarthen
County of the town of Haverfordwest Pembroke
IRELAND
County of the city of Waterford Waterford
County of the town of Londonderry Londonderry

                                                               

THIRD SCHEDULE

SCOTLAND

Name of County of City County
County of the city of Edinburgh Edinburgh
County of the city of Glasgow Lanark
County of the city of Dundee Forfar
County of the city of Aberdeen Aberdeen

 

Ismailia February 3, 1915

The following is a transcription of a newspaper article describing the Turkish attack on the Allied Forces defending the Suez Canal on the night of February 2/3, 1915.

ON THE CANAL

THE FULL STORY OF THE FIGHTING

Al Mokattam publishes the following details on the German-Turkish expedition against Egypt, which, says our contemporary, fill in and complete the story as given in the official communiques.

It is now proved that the expedition which attacked the Canal in the first week of February wished to cross at all costs. The Turkish Army had camped in two places 40 miles east of the station of Serapeum, at Mon Dorat, and Makshid. Their base of operations was in a deep valley. When they advanced to the west, they divided into two columns, the smaller marching on Kantara and the larger on Serapeum by the way of Kataib El-Nakhl. This second column was 20,000 strong. British airmen scouts saw this column and informed their headquarters.

When this force was at a distance of seven miles from the canal it moved backward and forward for reasons which are still unknown, but as soon as the wind blew from the south the attacking army marched towards the canal.

The influence of German generalship was evident in all the units of that force; one of the proofs of their vigilance is that an English flying machine which flew over the Turkish army was repeatedly shot at but without any effect.

The Turkish army continued to march forward during the whole night until it came near the canal where it divided into two parts; the larger stopped at a distance of two miles from the canal to wait in reserve and the second which was composed of a whole brigade marched forward to prepare a place on the bank of the canal for the troops to cross at. This force had a number of boats each of which was carried by 40 men. It began attacking about 3:30am at a point to the south of the station of Toussoum and at a mile from it. The night was dark and the enemy had chosen three points at which to cross the canal. On the east bank, opposite the station of Toussoum, some English sentries who were stationed there saw, on the night of 2-3 February last, shadows advancing which they knew must be the enemy. They therefore fired their rifles to warn the British forces that the enemy was advancing. Shortly after they began firing on the British forces, and thus both sides of the canal were as if on fire. The enemy made a great noise and was seen pushing the first boat into the water, and it was followed by the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

The enemy placed three Maxim guns at that point to protect the boats crossing the Canal.

The Egyptian and territorial artillery took part in the battle, and the prow of the first boat was hit with a shrapnel shell which killed the soldiers and sank the boat. The second and third boats were then pushed from the shore and shot at, the shells smashing in their sides. They soon capsized and most of the troops in them were drowned a few only escaping with their lives. The rest of the boats met with the same fate with the exception of two which were not launched. About 20 men crossed to the west bank of the Canal by throwing themselves into the water to escape the fire which was poured on them, and surrendered to the British troops after having tried to dig holes in which to hide themselves until the battle was over, being afraid that the British troops would kill them if discovered. Being unable to dig these holes they sat where they were until discovered by British troops who took them prisoners.

From the shells of the enemy’s guns, it was evident that they had no guns of greater calibre than 6 inches. It appears that the enemy had a good supply of ammunition for it did not spare it but rained it over our trenches though without hitting them. A shell exploded close to one of the British guns but it killed no one and although the enemy tried to discover the position of our artillery they failed.

At dawn the battle raged over a distance of two and a half miles, that is to say between the stations of Serapeum and Toussuom. The enemy fought bravely against the Egyptian., Territorial, Indian and New Zealand troops. The greater part of the enemy’s forces were opposite the station of Toussuom where they outnumbered our troops by ten to one, and yet the British troops stood their ground and prevented the enemy from moving forward. This proves that the military authorities had taken all the necessary steps for defence and were aware of all the difficulties in the way of an invading force crossing the Canal.

Signs of disorder among the enemy began to appear, and they retreated behind the earthworks they had hastily thrown up on the eastern bank of the Canal. But the British artillery continued to shell them in their retreat and inflicted heavy losses upon them.

TERRITORIAL ARTILLERY IN ACTION

One of the territorial batteries, commanded by Major Dobson, particularly distinguished itself. It is worthy of note that the officer controlling fire of this battery climbed up a palm-tree close by to be able the better to guide the battery and remained at his post an hour and a half under heavy fire. At last when no longer able to maintain his position he came down and climbed another palm-tree and remained there till the battle was over.

The enemy tried to attack us again but the Indian troops repulsed them with heavy losses.

The British troops took many prisoners; one officer confessed that they wanted to take our troops by surprise, but admitted that they found them very much on the qui vive. [on the alert]

The British and French cruisers and battleships fired on the enemy’s reserve – which was at a a distance of two miles on the eastern bank of the Canal – obliging them to retreat at 6pm. Some of the enemy’s troops continued hiding on the night of Wednesday on the eastern bank of the Canal, and kept up a desultory fire on our troops.

On the following day (Thursday), a part of the enemy was seen entrenched on the eastern bank. Two companies of Indian troops then crossed the Canal and attacked them, and as soon as reinforcements arrived the enemy was surrounded and thus obliged to surrender. These soldiers were 250 in number and were among the enemy’s best troops.

It now appears that the name of the German officer who was found killed on the field of battle and had a white flag and some seditious writings in his possession was von der Hagen. He was buried on a height on the east bank, and the Turkish troops were buried lower down at the point at which they tried to cross the canal.

THE HARDINGE’S PILOT’S BRAVERY

The cruisers and battleships fired on the enemy from Lake Timsah. The pilot of one of them, the converted cruiser Hardinge, Captain Dario, had, while on the bridge his leg shattered and his arm badly wounded. Those who saw the conduct of this pilot said that it was worthy of the highest admiration, for when shot, he caught hold of the railing and looking at his leg to ascertain the amount of injury done to him, refused to be carried to his cabin and asked for a long chair to be brought him saying that he still had strength enough to take the ship to port. But the doctor ordered him to be taken to his cabin notwithstanding his protests.

The authorities estimate the force of the enemy which attacked the canal at nearer 30,000 than 20,000 men, and the number of the wounded and prisoners is 5,000.

The enemy has retired to the east and is beyond the scope of our aeroplanes which is 60 miles.

                                               

FIGHTING NEAR TOR

TURKISH FORCE ANNIHILATED

Cairo, Sunday

A small British force landed in the Sinai Peninsula north of Tor and surprised a body of 200 Turks who were preparing to attack Tor. The Turks were annihilated. We captured 100 prisoners and 60 dead were counted on the field. The enemy’s camp and stores were destroyed. Fifty Turks, commanded by two German officers, previously reconnoitered the position which they believed was undefended, but retired when they found it was garrisoned by 200 Egyptians.

Reuter

Letters of Rev John Kenneth Best

Introduction:

The transcribed letters below are from the personal papers of Rev. J.K. Best held at the Imperial War Museum. These letters are not included in the book A Prayer for Gallipoli: The Great War Diaries of Chaplain Kenneth Best. Rev Best’s letters are provided here to throw some additional light on the conditions experienced by the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in Egypt 1914-15 and Gallipoli.

Rev. John Kenneth Best (Christmas 1914)
Copyright Imperial War Museum

A short biography, covering the appropriate period, follows to better set the context of family, locations, acquaintances and other references contained within the letters.

John Kenneth Best, son of Julia Joanna and the Reverend John Dugdale Best, was born in Wellingborough on 26 December 1887. He had an older sister, Elsie Kate Best, a younger sister, Margaret Gladys Best (often referred to in his letters as ‘Mar’), and a younger brother Oswald Herbert Best, known in the family as Herbert.

His father became principal of Chester Training College in 1890 and in 1910 left Chester when he was appointed Rector of Sandon, near Chelmsford, and the Rectory was where most of his letters were mailed to. J. K. Best was educated at Lancing College (1899-1900), Arnold House School (Chester) and Queens’ College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a first-class honours degree in mathematics (1910). After training for the priesthood at Egerton Hall, Manchester, he became curate at St Cuthbert’s Anglican Church, Lytham, in September 1912, and was ordained a year later. In mid-1914 he was appointed curate of Bolton Parish Church.

On June 3, 1914 Best’s older sister Elsie married Bening Mourant Arnold, a civil engineer teaching at Bradfield College and a Captain in the Hampshire Royal Garrison Artillery. Their first child, Margaret Emilie Stella Arnold, was born on March 30, 1915 while Best was serving in Egypt.

Upon the outbreak of war, Best’s younger brother Herbert was studying Law at Queens’ College, Cambridge but on August 5, 1914 he volunteered as a motorcycle dispatch rider and became a corporal in the Royal Engineers. Nine days later he deployed to France and was at Mons and the retreat. Later in the war he was awarded a commission in the ASC.

Oswald Herbert Best
Copyright Queen's College Cambridge

Best’s younger sister ‘Mar’ was studying medicine and eventually became a doctor.

In early September 1914, Best’s name was put forward by his Bishop for an Army chaplaincy. Best then received a telegram from Brigadier General Algernon D’Aguilar King, DSO, Commander, Royal Artillery of the East Lancashire Division advising him to apply to the East Lancashire Territorial Force County Association for a commission. Best’s application was successful and he was quickly appointed chaplain 4th class in the Territorial Force, with the rank of Captain and attached to the 1st/3rd East Lancashire Brigade, Royal Field Artillery.

He sailed with them and the rest of the East Lancs Division to Egypt on September 10, 1914. There he spent four months based in a large tented camp at Heliopolis North East of Cairo, and was then sent temporarily to Ismailia to minister to troops stationed on the Suez Canal. He returned to Heliopolis in late February 1915 and embarked for Gallipoli, from Alexandria, on May 3rd.

In mid-July he contracted enteric fever and was medically evacuated to Alexandria and then Cyprus. He returned to Gallipoli in August where he quickly contracted dysentery and was ordered home. He was put on a hospital ship but instead of going directly home was disembarked at Malta and spent time there at the Cottonera hospital. He finally left Malta on October 16, 1915 bound for England, arriving at Southampton on October 23rd.

Letters from Egypt (1914-15)

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
October 20, 1914

My dear/family/father

I am afraid I write very irregularly, and am very conscience stricken at receiving your letters so regularly. It is a great joy getting news from England out here. The Egyptian papers are rather pessimistic about the war and the flavour of optimism which is contained in home letters is very encouraging.

There are two conflicting reports as to our movements in the future. One says that we are at present the army of occupation in Egypt, and shall therefore be stationed here for a year or two the other, which is supported by General Douglas, who is in command of the division, says that within six months we shall be at the front. There is also another opinion to which I don’t give much weight that we shall be sent on to India. I don’t personally take much interest in the question of the future. I am very interested in the work on hand and feeling very fit. We are trying to work up a good CEMS [Church of England Men’s Society] in camp. My great difficulty at present is that some big tents have been erected by the YMCA where the men can read, write and have sing songs. The tents however, were sent free by the Egyptian General Mission, a rabid nonconformist mission of the Salvation Army kind. Their views are narrow in the extreme, and of course all churchmen are without the pale, they take great exception to my statement that true religion is not feeling good, but doing good. They hold meetings every night Sankey and Moody hymns and gospel messages. You hear nothing but are you saved? Have you met the Lord and so on – with occasional praises to the Lord when a man says he feels something inside (cause probably organic) and is saved. I may sound very uncharitable, and I recognise that they mean really well, and that we are under an obligation to them for lending the tents, but being chaplain in charge of this camp, I am going to put my foot down and limit their meetings considerably. They are not doing, I feel certain, much good. They are driving lots of good fellows, who would love healthy clean sing songs and games, and who go instead to the foul haunts of old Cairo.

I have not come across Molesworth yet. He is probably Chaplain at one of the two civilian churches in Cairo. He is not Chaplin to the forces. How very curious that you should have assisted him at Peterborough. I will also look up Haines. It is very pleasant to get a bit of civilian life now and again. I was awfully sorry to hear about Percy Wyndham1. I saw his photo in the paper. What a grand number of men are volunteering. I sometimes wonder who will be left to carry on what business there is. It is very likely that we shall shortly move to some other quarters quite near, i.e., if this site is condemned as overused. There is a great deal of colic among officers and men (due it seems to infected sand) and they are afraid it turning to dysentery. I had a bad turn for 10 days after I arrived, but I am glad to say there has been no recurrence. If you do send out books, you might see if you can get hold of a number of pamphlets by Paul Bull on purity And I can get a few books from CMS depot here but there is not much variety. I will send a pic to Homby. I hope he will get a job; he would love it. There is an in exhaustible stock of work to do most of which has to be left undone. Last Sunday had five services and four addresses

Parade service                   6.45 Heliopolis
Celebration in tent           8.15 Heliopolis
Parade service                   10 am at Kasr el Nil, in Cairo
Men’s service                     2.30 Heliopolis
Evensong                             7pm Heliopolis

We are about 20 [minutes] by fast train from Cairo we travel half price which is one piastre each way (= 2 ½d). Not seen Sphinx or Pyramids yet. I will try to go this week; in case we are removed. I find I am not a territorial but a chaplain under Regulars’ conditions. The camp is such a large one that I’m forced to try to ride. I am not very graceful but I can stick on at a gallop. I hope with practice to improve.

Must close now with much love to all, and many thanks for letters.

Hope you will have received good news from Herbert by this time.

Your affectionate son Ken.

The mail leaves in a few minutes.

Note:    1. Lt. Percy Lyulph Wyndham, Coldstream Guards. Killed in Action September 14, 1914. France.

Helioplolis Army Camp, December 1915
Source: Australian War Museum

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
October 31, 1914

My dear Elsie,

Tomorrow is your birthday. I cannot realise that I am a longish way from England and have consequently in such matters to think about a fortnight ahead. I hope you have received some letters from me by this time, I have written several. You ought to have got the first by October 15th at the latest. I have nothing to complain of. Budgets1 and good fat budgets come to me weekly from home though very few from elsewhere. You say, it seems funny to be at home with everything going on as usual while I am in stranger places. To me, it seems very funny that everything appears quite natural and ordinary out here. The sites are strange and the people very quaint, and yet I don’t appreciate their strangeness. It is rather disappointing to feel as though one had been born under the shadow of the Pyramids and been brought up in a house, facing an old Mohammedan mosque – for the result is that I don’t appreciate them or feel the fascination of the East. I suppose it is the presence of so many English troops, which makes me regard Egypt, as a sort of huge ‘White City’.

Today is an important Mohammedan feast, a sort of Xmas day. I have seen nothing of it as we have been confined to camp, not for any misdemeanour, but because there is a rumour that the Bedouins are becoming restless, and they make a raid to get guns and booty. All day long a native band has been playing just outside the camp. The drums just turn time as the fancy strikes them while the brass instruments, whine up and down the chromatic scale, each on his own. The effect is weird and soon becomes unpleasantly monotonous.

I saw a few things of interest last week, first the Citadel at Cairo. The old Palace, built by Saladin which is now absorbed in the military barracks and used as mess room for the 4th East Lancs Fusiliers. The mosque of Mohammed Ali, which I found not at all beautiful, especially since Kitchener Insisted that electric light should replace the old oil lamps. In Egypt, the only education is religious. The children learn off surahs i.e., chapters of the Koran by heart – they don’t, except those who are to be priests, learn to read and write. On the Mocattam hills, which command the Citadel, I could see the forts erected by Napoleon when he took the Citadel and also a long line of windmills, which he built to grind corn for his troops. Again, in the distance, were the Pyramids of Giza. The guide assured me that the Pyramids were not originally tombs of the kings, but were built in time of the flood and in them Abraham, his family, and all animals in pairs were saved. I also descended Joseph’s well where Pharoah is supposed to have (been) imprisoned after he fell afoul of his wife. it was used until quite recently for supplying the Citadel with water. The water was raised by the usual means i.e., the Sakia. An Ox blindfolded works a wheel in a horizontal plane which is cogged onto a wheel in in a vertical plane. Round this latter wheel runs a cord to which are fixed buckets.

[Sketch of Sakia]

One of these oxen kept at the bottom of the well disappeared. He was found a few weeks later at Jerusalem, having escaped through a cave which runs underground the whole way. A rather tall story.

On Thursday, I had my first military funeral. The military cemetery is in old Cairo, the native quarters. The time fixed was 4 pm. I arrived duly but no funeral party. I got ready and strolled about the cemetery until 5:30. It was a weird place. Dry and dusty with a number of palm trees, dotted about – kites and crows slipping silently from one to another. Two or three natives who could not speak English completed the scene. It had now become nearly dark. Then there arrived a native policeman on a motorbike to say that the funeral had got lost and would not arrive for another hour. It was quite dark when they arrived. We managed to find a candle and by its flickering light I conducted the service. Then followed three volleys and the last post. It was one of the most impressive services I have ever witnessed.

Yesterday I went to the Gezer [Giza] Pyramids. I went with a Captain from an Indian Native Mountain Battery (Artillery). We went by train and to our amazement when we got there it was raining. It has not rained in Egypt for 18 months. The Captain received orders to rejoin his Battery at once. They are probably proceeding to the front. The train went at 6:15. He was in a fearful hurry. We telephoned for a motor. It arrived just before six. There followed the most exciting drive I have ever had. It was nearly dark – the dust was frightful and we frequently topped 50 mph. We had some very narrow squeaks but arrived safely and he caught his train.

The Pyramids are not much to look at. In fact, I prefer to see them in picture postcards. I hope to pay the patriarch of the Coptic church a visit on Monday.

I have just had a beastly cold, but am recovering. Lost my voice for one day. We are waiting and waiting for the call to the front, though I fear it won’t be for a month or two yet as the men are not quite sufficiently trained. I hear Hornby2 has gone as chaplain to the front, i.e., he went to Dover to join the troops. Lucky dog! By the way, my commission is stated, October 10th or 14th and should be September 9th. I wonder if Daddy could write to the Chaplain General. I expect it will be antedated alright.

Rather scrappy letter but it will serve to show you I am alive – to send love to all and wish you many happy returns.

Your affect. Brother
Ken

Notes:

  1. Possibly a reference to “To Girls: A Budget of Letters” by Heloise Edwina Hersey, (Etiquette advice and guidelines for young girls). Published by Ginn & Company, The Athenaeum Press, Boston and London, 1902.
  2. The Rev. Hugh Leycester Hornby was a pre-war friend, colleague and frequent tennis partner of Best’s.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
November 13, 1914

My dear Mother

I always forget my size in collars, but I fancy 15 ½ is the thing. Anything will do, paper or washables. I only have to wear them on Sundays at present I wear an ordinary collar back to front and it serves the purpose very well. I have an excellent washerman, a native, who does the things at half a piastre (= 1 ¼d) each. The small things such as pocket handkerchiefs I get my orderly to wash. The surplices coming dirty does not matter at all. The water here is excellent and plenty of it – sterilizing tablets are quite unnecessary. The powder will no doubt prove useful, though I do not have much walking. I usually move about on horseback. No doubt however the powder will be equally efficacious for saddle soreness, as for foot soreness.

I should be very glad of a few socks of medium thickness. I fancy I left plenty behind nearly all I brought away with me were odd ones.  The parcel has not yet arrived. They keep them back for examination. It will probably arrive in the course of a day or two. I am getting quite happy on a horse now. I offered to take the Brigade staff out exercising horses each morning. I thought it was a good way of breaking myself in, but I chose an unpropitious moment. Usually, it meant walking the horses for about four or five miles. Unfortunately, the route fixed ran through a camel camp. The horses are terrified of camels so that when we arrived at the native camel camp, there was a general stampede. to make matters worse, the horses had ringworm. The connection is not obvious – it is this. Having ringworm, they were not allowed to be harnessed so that we were riding bareback. To my amazement, I found no difficulty in sticking on at a gallop though very hard when I managed to pull her up, and she continued to play the fool. A week of this has made me capable of sticking on a fairly reasonable nag.

My program for the day is something of this kind :-

6 am. Orderly comes to clean my boots, leggings and belt. I growl and send him off to the mess for an early cup of tea. This puts me in a better temper and by the time the cleaning is done and the water fetched, I am feeling comparatively cheerful. I have a sponge down in my collapsible bath (which usually collapses just when I don’t want it to) and rig myself out in uniform. The only time I do not like uniform is at this period of the day, for I have to get up half an hour earlier than I should do if I had only to put on civilian clothes.

Breakfast at 7 am. All officers of the Brigade, 26 in number, feed together in a big tent. At breakfast, we wait on ourselves, the porridge, eggs and bacon and jam being put on a sideboard or rather side table. At 8:30 (or sometimes 8 am) I go out exercising horses. It is grand and takes place while the day is still fairly fresh. Get back about 10 am. I have a drink and do any odd business connected with the officers’ mess which crops up. Then at 11, I tramp up to the camp chaplain’s tent (10 minutes heavy going across sand) where I am at home to any men who want to see me.

In the afternoon, I generally have to look up a few people which I do on horseback – or else I go to Cairo on some business or other. Once a week I visit the military hospital at the Citadel Cairo. There are a great many cases of dysentery and malaria, and an odd case or two of enteric. Most of the sick come from Heliopolis Camp. The rest of the troops out here are in Barracks and are consequently almost entirely free from dysentery. We ought to have been moved from here long ago. In King’s Regulations it is laid down that camps shall be moved after three weeks duration. Here we have been nearly 7 weeks with horse lines too so that the sand is badly infected and full of germs. The C.R.A. (Commander of Royal Artillery) Gen King1 seems to expect to be ordered to move soon probably to guard lines of communication in France. So many conflicting rumours are flying about that I don’t pay any heed to them.

Lunch at 1 pm.

Mess in the evening is at 7 pm. It is treated as a parade that is to say officers, unless excused, have to be present. This drags on till nearly 8:30 after this I generally go to the YMCA tent to see how the men’s sing song or YMCA lecture is progressing and turn in about 10 pm.

My tent is about 10 feet by 12 ground measurements and 8 feet high.

[Drawing/sketch of tent]

It has a double cover, which is a great protection from the heat.

The arrangement inside my tent is :-

[Drawing/sketch of inside of his tent]

  1. Small stationery box which I also use for carrying clerical vestments etc. or such things
  2. Iron cash box
  3. Canvas kit bag
  4. Dress suit case

Under bed, I keep my collapsible bath in front of tent, thus [drawing of front of tent]

I have two small patches of sand sewn with seed and surrounded by stones. It is such a relief to eyes to see a small patch of fresh green, if it be only a few square feet.

The Alpaca cassock will prove very useful here because it is cool or if we go to the front because it is light and we are only allowed 35 lbs. I will let you know directly anything is settled as to movements and our address. Heaps of love to all.

Yr affect son Ken

Note:    1. Commander, Royal Artillery:  Brig.-General Algernon D’Aguilar King, DSO.

                                               

[Arrived Dec 19th]

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
Dec 1st, 1914

My dear Mother

Time seems to be a matter of minor importance in the East and I have fallen into this pernicious Eastern habit. The daily routine varies so little that days and weeks fly by without one realising it. I only woke up to this fact by seeing December on the Daily paper & I remember with dismay that I had overlooked two very important days – the birthdays of yourself & Mar. All being well I will try to get off a small package to reach home by about Xmas. I received all three parcels safely. The beggars charged pretty heavily for collecting douane dues [customs duties], etc. on the first parcel (12/-). Cooks, (the Tourist Folk), apparently have a monopoly. The other two together only cost 3/-. My pay is coming in at last so that I am comfortably off as regards pay, receiving about 18/- a day.

I was very glad to hear Herbert had been elected “man of mark” for the coming Dial1. I hope you will get a number of copies. I hope they will get a decent engraving of him for insertion.

This afternoon I buried a sergeant of the 1st East Lancs RFA2, an awfully nice well-read man – quite superior to the common run of Terriers – he was a librarian at some Burnley library. The cause of his death was Dysentery – a rather striking coincidence, was this that his home address is 9 Cairo Road Burnley, a prophecy of his final destination.

I must’ve given you an entirely wrong impression of our surroundings. Within 50 yards of my tent is a canteen where I can get chocolate biscuits, condensed milk – anything within reason, though they don’t supply anything which comes up to ABC standard.

The milk tablets will no doubt come in useful if we move. Also, the papers have given you a wrong idea of the military state of affairs here. It is true there has been a little fighting but it is so far only a small encounter with Bedouin raiding party who are out for loot. At least that is what we are told. I found over 100 Indian troops wounded at Citadel Hospital when I visited there last Friday. it seems no English troops have been engaged so far. I gather that trouble may arise here from fact that Indian, Ceylon Tea Planters and other troops coming through the Canal destined for the front have, much to their sorrow, been detained here.

There are rumours galore – it is becoming a camp joke. One of our Camp comic singers, when doing a little song suddenly turned to the pianist “Hast gotten any rumours, Richard?” But two fairly reliable rumours state that a strong party of Turks is moving across the Sinaitic peninsular & that the Bedouins are beginning to move in the NE. I am contemplating getting hold of a secondhand army revolver (15/-) if I can, for if the light was not good – or if they got a bit flustered – the Bedouins might not realise I was a non-combatant.

Life is really very easy here – in fact, the sort of life, which would suit an old Parson, who wished to escape the inclement English winter. My chief pastime is hide and seek on horseback. It is as follows :-

I receive a note from a dear simple old parson saying I commend Smith who was once a choir boy in my parish to your spiritual care. I understand he is probably in Egypt, and perhaps at Heliopolis. I get my nag and sally forth to find Smith of Oldham among 4,000 men. Sometimes I find him. Sometimes hunger forces me to retrace my steps & leave the quest unfinished. It becomes quite chilly at night now – you would call it mellow autumn evening but we are becoming sensitive. I fancy the Tommies felt it tonight, or perhaps it is because we have come to December, for they are singing “O come all ye Faithful”. They don’t usually sing hymns. I have been bothered with a tooth lately. It gave me such a rotten time that I woke up the Brigade doctor whose tent is next to mine. He, after four or five efforts, succeeded in breaking off the crown. I was sent next to a Cairo dentist, an American. For the week, he simply aimed at reducing the inflammation caused by the doctor’s efforts, and then after digging and cutting got it away. But it, or rather its surroundings, are still rather painful. Many happy returns heaps of love to all. The doctor is just going into Heliopolis and will post it if I close.

Yr affect son Ken

Notes:

  1. “The Dial” was the student magazine of Queen’s College, Cambridge and Oswald Herbert Best, Rev J.K. Best’s younger brother, was featured in edition No 21, covering the Michaelmas Term of 1914, in the “Men of Mark” section.
  2. 1302 Sgt. Herbert Gladstone Booth, Burnley Battery RFA (TF) died in Egypt November 30, 1914. Age 31. Buried at the Cairo War Memorial.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt

December 12, 1914

My dear Margery,

As I omitted to write to you and congratulate you on attaining your ?th year I am sending you this short note. I could not for the life of me conceive why so many troops were being dumped down in Egypt until I heard of fighting on the canal near Ismailia. Reports are rather vague and I fancied that the brush had been with an advanced party of the Turks. I found out later that it was merely a Bedouin party of Brigands. So that solution failed, then I received Capt. Rasch’s1 piece of information concerning 200,000 Japanese troops. On reliable authority, for aircraft has been scouring the Siniatic peninsular, we learn that the Turks cannot arrive for at least 2 months. I can only conceive now that Egypt is being used as a training ground and that most of the troops are here not for purposes of defence, but to prepare for the front. This is borne out by the almost universally accepted belief that we are to return to England early in January for guns etc., then to proceeded to the front. I wonder if this will come true. I hope to goodness that Herbert gets out here whether we have gone or not for I don’t fancy there will be much trouble and he would get a bit of change and rest. I must be off now for a tour round the camp to see a few men.

Heaps of love to you all and best Xmas wishes
Your affectionate brother
Ken

Note: 1. Possibly Capt. Guy Elland Carne Rasch, Grenadier Guards. Born at Sandon Aug 15, 1885.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
December 21, 1914

My dear Father

Thank you so much for making enquiries concerning date of gazetting. The answer appears to be fairly satisfactory. The date is not so important, so long as the pay comes in alright to keep me going as far as I can gather an Active Chaplain receives pay simply and solely i.e. 10/- a day and no allowances. Up to Oct 14 – no! that won’t do –

It was Sept 25 when we arrived in Egypt, and from that day I ought to and indeed have received allowances camp, colonial and ration. Unless I am gazetted as Chaplain from Sept 25 I shall, I fancy, have to refund the allowances between Sept 25 and Oct 14. Up to Sept 25 it is immaterial as to which capacity I was serving in because food and lodging was provided on ship. I will see the Senior Chaplain here about it and then let you know how things stand.

We had a chaplain’s meeting on Friday to discuss ways and means for finding harmless and wholesome distractions for the Tommies. I have had a rude awakening as to the prevalence of immorality in the army. It appears to be regarded as perfectly right and natural. If evil consequences set in – it is bad luck, not a judgement. We are trying to get a large number of English residents to have ‘At Homes’ for Tommies – It is this sort of refining influence they need when herded together away from the influence of good women, in camp or barrack. We then got onto the question of approaching GOC in Egypt with a resolution that certain disreputable quarters should be put out of bounds and certain houses closed. The discussion grew heated. Some, affirming that only personal influence could combat the evil and suggesting the formation of a body of men, (e.g., CEMS), get to work and barter their respective requirements.  Others, that legal measures should be taken to abolish all quarters of ill fame. I was strongly with the first party. The Capitulations1 make legal measures futile and even though the Capitulations would probably be abolished under new regime, yet force can never prove as effective as persuasion. I mean, putting places out of bounds is useless. Men don’t know the weird names of [the] best of places.

One chaplain gave pathetic instances of innocent youths finding their way into these quarters, and then being unable to escape when they realised where they were. I should have believed this a few weeks ago. There are next to no ‘innocents’ in the ranks. In the midst of this heated discussion, in walks the new Bishop of Jerusalem. He managed to pour oil on troubled waters by suggesting that both methods be tried.

The Bishop seems an awfully good fellow. He has promised to hold a confirmation whenever I can get a number of men prepared.

I hope that reports will prove correct and that Herbert will be sent out here – or at any rate that they will give the 1st Div a well-earned rest. I fancy we shall soon be on the move though unlike Herbert I find 99% of rumours are absolutely false. The folk in England will have had a nasty shock over the Scarborough and Hartlepool affair. It was confounded cheek on German’s part, but I wonder what our Navy were doing and whether they would now collar them. Curious that your letter predicting such an event should arrive the day after I saw in the paper that it had actually occurred. I fancy however, it will accelerate enlisting instead of preventing the sending of more troops to the front.

We hear nothing of the Japs and lots of folk here strongly deprecate any such thing. They don’t want Japan to get a footing in the West. I think however it might bring to an end, the awful state of things the sooner and I would that that happened at almost any cost. The question always occurs to me, why do men try to reach justice by the sword? Brute force seems to have no connection that I can see with Justice. In this particular case, it may turn out all right – but I hope there will after this be some better means found for settling disputes.

I cannot quite follow Herbert’s letter as our queer map does not contain all the places mentioned. He must have had a hot time.

Will write again soon
Heaps of love to all
Your affectionate son
Ken

Note: 1. The Capitulations system was introduced into Egypt in the 19th century and was an extraterritorial legal system for foreigners in Egypt. Best clearly had no confidence in the Egyptian legal system even if the Capitulations were abolished by the new Sultan, Prince Hussein Kamel, who was installed by the British on December 20, 1914, the day before Best wrote the letter.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
Jan 1st 1915

My dear Mother,

I have just received your letter dated December 16th saying that you have not received any news from me since November 13th. I am not an enthusiastic letter writer but I always try to get off a letter each week to someone of the family. I fancy they must have contained so much treasonable matter that the censor to save time had them put in the fire. However, this shall be a New Year’s resolution that I will write once a week whether I have news or not, and will in between drop a postcard in the pillar box.

Your papers at home seem to be inventing war news from Egypt. Everything here is as peaceful as can be. A warm sun and gentle breeze by day clear starry sky at night. The only thing, apart from Xmas and New Year festivities which breaks the even course of life are my periodic excursions on Tram Ticket (the latest mount which the Brigade has put at my disposal). He does [not] care a jot for camels – unlike former mounts – but he has a mouth like iron which I did not discover till he had got me inextricably tied up in the tent ropes of the Battery lines. However, he has got a most comfortable gait and we are getting used to one another. Side view, he is a nice looking horse – front view he is almost invisible. I think he must have at some period of his history got under a steam roller. His figure has gained him his name. We had a delightful Xmas. Of course, the climate somewhat spoilt the Christmassy feeling and yet it was much more pleasant than the mud and rain which one associates with Christmas nowadays. English skies will appear very dull and cheerless after this. I fancy we are the only people who are sacrificing nothing at the present time. We are as wealthy pleasure seeking folk who winter abroad to avoid the cold and wet.

On Xmas day, we had Holy Communion at 6 am, 8 am and 10 am in the Chaplain’s tent. The General Officer commanding Royal Artillery (GOC RA) has given me 2 tents which put together seat about 100. A kind lady from Heliopolis on her way to Jerusalem on CMS work has made me a nice green and white altar front and cover. A fitter has made me a wooden cross which another man has gilded. Two candlesticks I purchased from a quaint place in the native bazaars. Altar linen lent by All Saints Church also hymn books from same source and American organ hired out of celebration collections completes the outfit. It is not bad. We have no kneelers in it and use horse rugs for kneelers where communion rails should be.

[diagram of the tent fills the rest of the page]

One gets tired of recording rumours and you must get tired of hearing them. The latest is that we shall have a smack at the Turks and clear them out of Palestine. It is not likely. I fancy we shall stay on here as Army of Occupation for some time yet. On New Year’s Eve as the Artillery Officers went down on the spree to Cairo, I joined [the] officers and sergeants of the 6th Manchesters. We had a jolly evening. At midnight a gong sounded 12 times. The oldest man in [the] regiment left the tent with exit 1914, the youngest drummer boy entered with a prosperous and happy 1915 on his back. The drummer then gave the Old Hundredth and then the whole party joined in the second verse. Then we had Auld Lang Syne in which I was wedged between the Old and New Year.

The Sergeants are jolly good fellows and always when I am there are very careful not to indulge too freely in drink or swear. The hymn also was continued partly to please me.

Must stop or you will never get this letter.
Heaps of love to all
Your affectionate son Ken

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt

My dear Mother,

Thanks awfully for the Times Weekly. It is the very best paper for what I want. The Egyptian papers are perfectly stupid though of course they print some of the latest telegrams. But the telegrams only inform us as to the movements of the troops and as nearly always the places mentioned are not to be found on our maps, we are none the wiser. The Times Weekly caters for one’s ignorance by providing a map. I do hope Herbert gets out here. He deserves a trip to the sunny climes of Egypt but why we should be dumped down in this much sought after winter health resort before we have done any dirty work I cannot conceive. There is not the slightest likelihood, as far as I can see, of serious fighting out here any more than there is in England.  In fact, there is far less judging from recent events. What beastly cads the Germans are yet it must have aroused new enthusiasm in recruiting circles. The Turks, we hear this morning, have had a sound thrashing from the Russians so they won’t trouble us on this side for they have their work cut out to save their bacon on t’other.

Yesterday I went out on Divisional Field Day. We got enveloped in a sand storm of which I suppose we shall have frequent repetitions for [the] next month or so. It was like a London fog with a cold wind and a stinging sensation thrown in. Old Tram Ticket, my horse, seemed to enjoy it. Nothing would hold him in so I let him have his head and go across the desert track and then back again ‘till he had worked off a lot of steam. By this time the batteries had disappeared but I came across the Red Cross wagon which put me on the right track. We were out from 8am to 4pm and I found your Horlicks malted milk tablets uncommonly good. When I returned, I had to dig my boxes, etc. out of the sand. My servant had not properly pegged down my tent or banked it up round about. I told him off pretty sharply as my bed was a dust heap and I was nearly smothered when I woke this morning. However, he has worked like a black this morning – put tent right and cleaned it up and now it is quite respectable once more.

I take the enlisted boys once a week in religious instruction which I really enjoy. They are topping chaps. One had a nasty fall in the sand storm. His horse, one which no one else had courage to ride, bucketed him over its shoulder. His foot got wedged in the stirrup and before the horse was captured it had dragged him some way and kicked him. He is quite cheery today. I have just taken him an exciting novel to read. He had a nasty kick on the knees and a badly sprained ankle. Another man had his ear bitten off by a horse. I think the sand must have made them vicious.

At Heliopolis Camp there are only 2 chaplains, myself and a Wesleyan. We both went out for field day. He always said it is much better to go on foot and not to get mixed up amongst galloping horses and guns and limbers. So, he went with the Infantry. Yet fate is a curious thing, I was of course in the midst of the horses while he was miles away. One of the horses took fright and after careering some miles came across the Wesleyan chaplain and knocked him down, hurting him rather seriously so [the] report says. I am getting awfully keen on riding and am going in private to try a few small jumps for this reason. Tram ticket rather fancies her jumping powers and in order to show off he purposely mistakes tufts of weeds and shadows for ditches. This penchant of his always leaves me in a most undignified position, affectionately embracing his neck, to the amusement of the men.

Heaps of love to all
Your affectionate son
Ken

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
January 18, 1915

My dear Father,

I don’t know whether this letter will reach you by the eventful day. Many happy returns! I hope you and mother are not getting in the dumps being by yourselves so much. I fancy the chaplains to the forces at home have a very slack time. Cannot you make them do some work for you? Hornby told me that all he had to do was a church parade or two on Sunday. He was very sick about it.  Don’t the YMCA w? up entertainments and provide reading and writing material for the men in your district? They have at last got a man of the right sort here. At first our entertainments were simply bribes to lure men to religious meetings of a Salvation Army type. Now we have got a man of the Chas Kingsly type and things are going like smoke.

Now to explain why I am feeling rather bucked. First of all, I have got a topping class of Enlisted Boys, some 20 buglers and trumpeters. They are top-hole little chaps, as plucky and sporting as any I’ve known and real good little Christians. One was thrown the other day, dragged in the stirrups and badly kicked. Fortunately, no bones were broken but he was badly bruised.

Last Thursday there was a big Field Day and nothing would prevent him turning out and he rode the same horse which had thrown him – a vicious beast that no one else would tackle. His cheeriness and pluck has made him quite a leader in his tent though he is only about 15 years old.

There are a good many cads and bullies in this camp and if a fellow gets into such a tent and appears a bit religious it is Tom Brown’s Schooldays again. Chatting with him one day we got on to this topic. I asked him what his experience was. Why of course I say my prayers nothing unnatural, nothing heroic did he see in it. Of course, he did them just what he would do at home. It really does one good to know a boy like that. So different from average careless man and so different from the pious hymn singing methodists. Just a natural healthy cheery but deeply religious fellow.

Also, I have got together quite a nice little body of confirmation candidates. Four of them were baptized yesterday. A question of church law arose – a RC wished to join C of E. I believe most Bishops rule that there should be no rebaptism or confirmation, merely a formal renunciation of the RC tenets, which C of E holds to be false. However, I reasoned that among other things they are baptized into a certain faith and that renouncing a few additional dogma does not reduce RC faith to C of E. Therefore, I baptized him.

The real difficulty is that the Artillery are probably moving to Ismailia on the Suez Canal. This takes away most of my Confirmation Class and of Enlisted Boys. They will be scattered all over the place. How I am to complete their instruction and arrange for Confirmation by Bishop in Jerusalem, I hardly know. I am going to try to get sent down to Ismailia but rather fear they will not let me go as the Infantry half of Heliopolis Camp are probably not moving and Heliopolis is my parish so long as troops are there. It is hard to say what exactly will be the outcome of present unrest.

The general opinion at present is that the Turks under German officers have arrived somewhere near the Canal. That there are plenty of India Infantry but that some more Artillery are required. The Artillery are prepared to move within 5 hours and will probably go tomorrow unless the whole thing is a ‘wash out’.

The English mail goes tonight and so I shall probably not be able to inform you of events ‘till a week or so later. I rather doubt myself the report of the advance of the Turks and fancy that it will mean bivouacking at Ismailia for a few weeks and their returning. That is, it may be only a “trial”. We shall have to wait and see.

Heaps of love to all
Your affectionate son
Ken

Lest the letter should not have explained already the reasons of my high spirits. It is (1) keenness of Confirmees, (2) the Enlisted Boys, (3) prospect of getting a move on.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
January 18, 1915

My dear Mother,

I don’t quite know what my future movements are to be but I fancy that I am going down to Ismailia with the Artillery on Wednesday. The question arose as to which of the chaplains should go down but that was speedily settled for it was essential for the chaplain to ride as the various units would be widely dispersed. Fortunately, I was the only one who has done much riding since coming out and therefore I had the honour to be chosen. It seems that the Turks have toiled across the desert mainly by rail. They only have a certain amount of rails and therefore they pull them up behind and lay them in front. They are said by the aircraft to be in a woeful state, starved and absolutely worn out. There are heaps of Indian Infantry already at the Canal so that I fancy the E. Lancs Division will only supply Artillery.

I don’t know how on earth I am to put my kit together. I have accumulated such a lot of rubbish. Nor do I know with whom I shall be quartered but I fancy I shall get a tent. Only those in the firing line will have to bivouac. It is rather a pity that the camp should be broken up just a week or so before the time fixed for Confirmation. I had got quite a nice class going. I shall have a try to finish it all somehow and get the Bishop of Jerusalem to come down and hold the Service somewhere near the Canal.

I am sending this off tonight in the hope that it may catch the mail.

Heaps of love
Your affectionate son
Ken

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
January 18, 1915

My dear Margery,

I have treated you perfectly abominably as regards letters. The truth is there is so little to relate and when I sit down, I am burdened with the realization of an address to be delivered to Confirmation Candidates, Enlisted Boys, CEMS, Bible Class or Parade Service. But mother will say ‘why not drop us a pc?’ [postcard] For the reason I feel always that tomorrow I shall have more time and will really write a good long letter and feel ashamed to send a miserable pc.

Well! I simply don’t know what to talk about. I have only been out of camp twice this week. Once to put mess cheques in the Bank, the other time to Saccara Pyramids. The first was wholly uninteresting. I arrived in the Military Dept at 2pm. I worked my way through the crowd and arrived at the counter by 4pm. The transaction was completed by 5pm. In between times I beguiled the hours by explaining to newcomers the money system. I am becoming quite an expert in converting English to Egypt or vice versa. The other outing affords more scope. On Wednesday last I arranged to go to Saccara Pyramids from Giza Pyramids. That is 8 miles across the desert on camels. Then on by Memphis (transitioned to train) to Bedrasheen and back by train to Cairo. Unfortunately, just I was about to start off a fire broke out in camp. It looked like being serious at one time as everything is very dry and inflammable in camp. Fortunately, they managed to prevent it spreading and only one tent and 13 men’s belongings were destroyed. This little incident made me a bit late. So, when I got to Cairo, we thought seriously of giving up the trip as I had to be back by 7 for confirmation class. Then a happy idea came to me. I had heard there was a train to Bedrasheen at 9:30. With a great effort we caught it and so went to Saccara via Memphis and returned the same way. This sounds less interesting but was in fact for more pleasant. The 8 miles across desert is somewhat monotonous, desert scenery is rather dull and lacking in beauty and interest. Also, a long ride is apt to produce ‘mal de chevaux’ [horse sickness] (is the plural correct?) an affliction I hear as unpleasant as its cousin ‘mal de mer’. [seasickness]

At Bedrasheen we got donkeys. My mount was called “Ginger Beer”. All the donkeys are named Ginger beer or Whisky and Soda. I never realised what a comfortable ride a donkey is before. I came back sitting tailorwise as the natives do. It is for the best position provided the donkey boy does not come up unnoticed and smite the beast. However, I discovered after the first incident of the sort to look out of the corner of my eye for his shadow and so was prepared. The guides which are usually chartered are horrid frauds. I was lucky enough to hit on a donkey boy who could speak English better than the average guide. He showed us, in addition to usual sights, the Pyramid of Unas inside which is a chamber whose walls are covered with cuneiform inscriptions which are texts describing ancient ideas of a future life. The donkey boy was also quite an accomplished humorist and all the way was imitating the Yankee tourist. He got the accent to a ‘T’. Also, to my amazement he sang ‘Yankee Doodle’, Long wat to Tipperary, etc. and got the intervals correctly which I thought was impossible for the Eastern. I cannot describe the sound, it would take too long. The bas relief on the underground temple walls were marvelous – in most parts the original colours still remaining. Nearly every department of life of the life in Egypt thousands of years ago was depicted. The King in whose honour the temple was erected is always about 10 times as big as the figures except his wife, who is about half his size. This is meant to indicate their relative importance. Everywhere the King is represented as receiving gifts and food. He must have had an abnormally good appetite. At Memphis were two fine recumbent figures of Ramses II. One has been presented to the English Government but is so huge that the Engineers have not yet succeeded in moving it. I wonder if that is why the canny old Mohamed Ali made a present of it. He might almost as well have told them they could have the moon if they would take it away. The day was perfect and the sunset behind the palm trees and pyramids was simply beyond description. I beguiled the way back by learning Arabic phrases and firing them off at the natives who we passed. Denis Fletcher1 was my companion – brother of the headmaster of Charterhouse, Chaplain to E. Lancs Fusiliers. I do not take to him over much but all officers are tied during the week and I am on Sunday. Hence it was Hobson’s choice. Still, he afforded as he seems to rather fancy himself as a chaplain but he cut a funny figure on a donkey and was in agony lest he should fall off.

In order to kill two birds with one stone I will carry on the rest of this letter addressed to Daddy.

I hear you are contemplating taking up the nursing job seriously. I fancy it will prove jolly interesting work. Often do I wish I knew a little about medicine and surgery. The weather is beginning to get warmer. The days are like summer, the nights like winter. The cooks who start work about 3:30 or 4am have reported ice on the buckets. Feeling fit as a fiddle and quite bucked with life. I will explain the reason of the latter in letter to Daddy.

Heaps of love to all. Tell mother I shall never dare to write to her now that she has begun to put my foolish ridiculous letters in a book.

Your affect brother
Ken

Note: 1. Rev. Denis Fletcher Chaplain 4th Class (TF) Attached 5th Lancs Fusiliers 14 Oct, 1914.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA (T)
Ismailia
February 1, 1915

My dear Elsie,

Fancy two of my letters being pessimistic. I must be very hard to please. Up to now it has been a veritable picnic and if I have growled and grumbled it must be because either I have eaten something which I ought not to have done or else because I had been thinking of the rough time Herbert and others were having at the Front and wondering whether we should ever be able to share it. You will see my quarters are changed. We have come down to the Suez Canal. I am the privileged chaplain; the rest have had to stop behind at Cairo and Alexandria to look after the morals of the Infantry. The reason for the choice was twofold, (1) that I was more or less attached to the Artillery who are now all stationed along the Canal, and (2) that I was the only Chaplain who has had any experience of horses since coming out. Ismailia is a perfectly delightful place and my work here is more interesting. At Heliopolis I was more or less cooped up in a hot, dusty camp about a mile square. The chief respite from this being a visit to Cairo by train – interesting at first but stuffy and dirty when the novelty of Eastern customs and architecture began to pall.

I am quartered on the edge of a spinney of palms and firs – surrounded by Indian encampments. As Herbert says, there is a considerable difference between the various Indian types. The most marked being between Sikhs and Gurkhas. The latter are exactly like Japs – brisk, cleanshaven, sturdy little fellows. The Sikhs are tall, very thin, bearded solemn philosophical looking folk. The various races are always mixed so that there may be no sedition. They are always ready to give one another away. They are wonderfully disciplined and compared very favourably with the indifferent and free and easy manner of the Colonial troops.

We were the first British troops to come to the Canal, except for a few RAMC and Engineers. Now the New Zealanders and Australians are beginning to dig in, much to our sorrow. However, they will probably be needed.

From aeroplane reports, the Turks considerably outnumber us and are in part at all events officered by Germans. However, our position on the Canal is undoubtedly a strong one and the Indian troops are very well entrenched. They are grand soldiers and inspire one with confidence. I would as soon be behind them as any other troops, at any rate of those out here. Aeroplanes are busy flying backwards and forwards all day reporting the movements of the Enemy. Up to now there have only been slight skirmishes with the Enemy. They are evidently putting out feelers to see how our guns are placed. Later they will probably bang into what they consider the weakest point in the line of defence. Up to now they have not been able to draw on Battery fire and so find out their position. Only the gunboats on the Canal and the Mountain Batteries on the East of the Canal have been in action and, of course, as they are not fixed, no information has been gained. As to my work, I have a celebration at 8am and evensong at 5pm each Sunday at a Mission Room in Ismailia (the only church is RC). Also, I have church parade at 18th and 20th Batteries which I reach by horse, about 16 miles riding across the desert. During the week I pay visits to the other Batteries by train and launch on the Canal and hold short services and celebrations if desired and chat with any men who wish to see me. The Bishop of Jerusalem has promised to come out here and hold a confirmation, if no serious fighting is going on, in about a fortnight. One of the aeroplanes had a narrow shave yesterday. Shrapnel bursting on either side of him. One bullet pierced his propellor but he continued to land on the safe side of the Canal. The Indians are wonderfully keen and alert. I strolled across the desert on Saturday evening about dusk to collect my thoughts for the morrow, coming back by mistake I got nearer than I intended to an Indian Camp. Halt! Came through the darkness and I was soon surrounded by a number of bearded Sikhs. They talked a bit but I could not of course make out a word. They talked a bit and they listened slowly without a gleam of intelligence in their faces. I began to fear I should miss my supper for I knew if I proceeded without satisfying them, I should get plugged. Fortunately, and interpreter arrived later on and I was able to explain I was not a German Officer.

I hope Bening won’t be foolish and leave his present job. He is undoubtedly of more use where he is than at the Front. Since writing to you last, we have had our winter and are now getting into warmer weather. Either I have been very remiss in my writing or else the winter here is very short. A bit of both I think.  The Turks will probably be forced to make a desperate effort soon as the big sandstorms will soon be starting and the water supply, never very good, will get worse as summer approaches. If we can drub them, as I have no doubt we shall, then we hope, DV1, to get on to the Front, (perhaps via Jerusalem), about April or if Germany gives in by then we may by God’s providence all meet again at Sandon to celebrate another bond between Elsie, Kali and Bening Mourant. Fancy making mother and Daddy grandma and grandpa already. I hope you see old Robin2. ‘Give him my love and tell him to send kind messages to Mrs. Hayes from me’.  Also, kindest regards to Flabby.

Heaps of love to you and any of the family whom you are entertaining or whom you meet

Your affectionate brother
Ken

Notes:

  1. D.V. is shorthand for ‘Deo Volente’ which is Latin for God Willing.
  2. Robin Arden Hayes, MA Cantab. Friend of Best’s from University.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Ismailia
February 2, 1915

My dear Father,

Time passed fast at Heliopolis Camp – here it simply flies. We have been at Ismailia a whole fortnight. It is grand. A nice palm and fir grove prevents the glare and dryness of the desert. The Lake Timsah – part of Suez Canal – allowed grand bathing. The Batteries have also been bathing in the Canal but the sharks are rather a source of danger there so I fancy that will have to be stopped. With perhaps the exception of Port Said this is generally regarded as the coolest spot in Egypt. Of course, immediately you get outside on to the desert it is as hot as anywhere, or will be in a few weeks. Also we now feel we are getting to business though being on this side of the Canal we are more or less spectators while the Indians (and shortly I expect some New Zealanders) are doing the dirty work on the other side. So far there has only been outpost fighting. That is not so now shrapnel us fairly whizzing over the camp. The horses have been moved and I fancy the whole camp will soon move, at least temporarily. Order comes to move so I must leave writing you a letter ‘till later.

                                               

Ismailia
Permanent address same as before
February 3rd 7pm

My dear Mar,

I am afraid my letter to Daddy was unfortunately rather brief. The Turks with their German officers managed to locate our headquarters and gave us a rather hot dose of shrapnel so we moved hurriedly to a rather more sheltered spot. On Tuesday I went to the 20th Battery and had a celebration of Holy Communion. Most of the men were busy but about 10 attended. We had the service in a tent which had been dropped to within 4 feet of the ground to escape the observant eye of the enemy and there was a huge sandstorm raging outside, yet it was a grand service and the men very reverent. I had to ride back in the teeth of a stinging sand gale. Fortunately, the horse seemed to be able to pick its way so that I was able to ride along the Suez to Port Said railway line. I had an exciting moment when a train suddenly whistled behind me. It was very near me before it spotted me and then a shriek terrified my nag and I did a John Gilpin across the desert – my knapsack flying out behind – clinging on to the reins in one hand and my bag with vestments in the other. Finally, I pulled her in and was contemplating feeling my way back to the railway when I discovered to my joy, I was on the Ismailia Caravan route. The rest of my journey was uneventful and unpleasant.

This morning at 6:30 I was awakened by heavy firing. Had breakfast and watched the battle from wireless station for an hour or so ’till suddenly the enemy got our range and started dropping shrapnel on us. We struck camp and returned to a more protected spot. I fancy we shall spend the night digging “funk holes” in case of a repetition. All the Batteries had a very hot time. The enemy have got some 9-inch Howitzers which we didn’t reckon on and their firing is uncommonly and uncomfortably good. After lunch I had a funeral of two RAMC men1 who were buried alive in a trench by falling sand. It was a very tragic sand. The funeral was like my first – weird and very unlike those at home. The cemetery was next door to a Moslem Cemetery where a funeral was taking place. The shrieks and wails of the mourners and the doleful chant “There is no God but God” on one side, the roar of battle on the other forming a very eerie setting. Likewise, the bodies were simply rolled up in their sleeping blankets as there were no coffins to be had. Finally came the “Last Post” with its plaintive and yet hopeful final note.

I must close now as I want this note to reach you all at the same time as Daddy’s which was quite unintentionally of a rather alarmist character.

Heaps of love to all. You might send out half a dozen films for the 30/- vest pocket Kodak if they are procurable. Egypt has gone dry. How do you like the photo taken by native at Cairo Cemetery.

Your ever affectionate brother
Ken

Notes:

  1. Probably 240 Pte. Alfred Lorimer and 199 Sgt. Evelyn Frankland, 2nd East Lancs Field Ambulance. Killed February 1, 1915 and buried in the Ismailia War Cemetery.
  2. A contemporary newspaper article describing the events on the Suez Canal in the early morning hours of February 3, 1915 is provided here.

                                               

Headquarters
3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Ismailia
Egypt
February 3, 1915

My dear Father,

We have again struck a bad patch. Things were just becoming interesting and I was hoping to be able to send you news, provided the censor was not in a bad temper, when the silly Turks turned tail and fled back the way they came across the desert. It seems hard to believe that they tramped all those weary miles on short rations and poor water supply with guns, boats and other impedimenta for the one solitary attempt to cross the Canal. Their leaders are no fools as is shown by the clever way in which they chose their positions, the good gunnery and the wonderful forethought in providing beautifully made sheet iron pontoon boats, trenching tools, etc. Also, the Canal is undoubtedly swarming with spies, (as of course the Turks proclamation of a Holy War has had its effect upon a good many Moslems, though the more intelligent see the absurdity of the title when they are led by German Officers), and the Turks must have known pretty well what they had to face. The prisoners say that they were given to understand that they were the advance party and that a few hours later the main body would support them. The main force never arrived, or things might have taken a different turn from what they actually did. Why? Perhaps disaffection, perhaps they were too far away, the attack being made too previous or perhaps the main force was an imaginary quantity. However, their losses were enormous, not perhaps in numbers but in proportion to the total attacking force. They would undoubtedly have been greater had their retreat been followed up but reports came in through secret service of approach of strong supporting force and so we were overcautious. Information must have been supplied by enemy. They fairly had us on toast. However poor beggars had a bad enough time as it was. They are now apparently at least one hundred miles away. This looks as though it were genuine. They have left no outposts. Things have happened which were not calculated for when the invasion began. This may account for so much ineffective and wasted energy. The force may, as Germans state, be going home to resist the Russian advance – though why Germany should trouble to tell us the truth I cannot imagine. The heterogenous mob comprising the invading force had undoubtedly been told they had only to march to Cairo and plunder to their hearts content. When they found lead instead of loot, they may have turned on their officers and gone back of their own accord. Provisions may have been running out or no more boats. Some force may have been landed to cut them off on the rear. Whatever the reason, if any, they have gone for good and that we shall soon be back in Heliopolis. I hope not for long, though I rather fear it may be ‘till war is over. However, we can say that for one day, at all events, we were under fire. I enclose a fairly good account of the fight which has probably appeared also in London papers.

The Bishop of Jerusalem came over on Monday and held a confirmation. I found some quite nice civilians who kindly put him up for the night. The service as very impressive being made all the more so by the circumstances. Nearly all the candidates had been under pretty heavy fire and were very earnest. I am going to start new classes as the Bishop will certainly not be able to go to Jerusalem yet a while and there are a number of men who wish to be confirmed. I am finding the Bishop of London’s ‘Men who Crucify Christ’ [Published by Wells Gardner, Darton & Co, London, 1902] very useful for Lenten talks. The Navy are doing great work. The account by a middy of the fight off the Falklands was most thrilling.

I hope Herbert gets home for a bit as he anticipates. I wish he could pay me a visit. I was very amused to hear of your organist’s effort. I cannot understand your churchwarden’s ‘There’s nowt so queer as folk’ as they say in Lancs. So, Willie Gilmore has gone and done it. I hope he will settle down. I am glad Sandon is in part doing its duty, (I expect Teddy(?) Turner’s appearance helped a bit), but how disgusting are those narrow minded, selfish village vegetables. They need a General Botha to take them off ‘by Commando’ and plant them in the trenches. When I am visiting the poor boys who have been wounded or burying the dead it makes my blood boil to think of those selfish brutes who grumble because they have to put out their lights at 5:30.

Heaps of love to all. How is the ‘flue’? I hope you are taking care of yourself and not going traipsing out on cold wet nights when you are not up to the mark.

So glad to hear that Elsie is doing well and Mar engrossed in her new work.

Your affectionate son
Ken

P.S. I am putting on stamp Indian Exped. Force as it may become interesting some day.

                                               

3rd East Lancs. Brigade RFA
Heliopolis Camp
Cairo, Egypt
March 22, 1915

My dear Mother,

We have a bad epidemic running thro’ the camp. It is not a very harmful ailment though one battalion, I hear, has made it a crime punishable with 7 days defaulters. To be on defaulters means that a poor weary fellow gets no rest. When off duty & parade he has to turn up and report himself every half hour. He is liable to be called upon for fatigue duty, that is any odd job which has to be done. He may too be given “pack drill” which means he is kept marching around the square – right turn, left turn – about turn ‘till it makes one dizzy to watch them. On a hot day, in full kit, it is not much fun. Well, I am sidetracking off the point. The epidemic is rumours. Really a rather pleasant malady.

The East Lancashire Division is concentrated in Cairo which is the Base of Operations for Dardanelles and near East. Many seem to think this implies that most of the Division will soon proceed to the Dardanelles or perhaps Alexandretta. I am at present cut off from the Artillery who are on the Canal while I am back at Heliopolis with the Infantry Battalions 5th & 8th Lancs Fusiliers, 4th E. Lancs and 9th Manchesters. It seems to be an established fact that a considerable number of Kitchener’s Army will soon be established in Alexandria, whither the New Zealand and Australian Contingent will proceed. On the Canal are still Indian Division and our Artillery. An act that 250 Australians came back from Alexandretta wounded. They got cut off and badly mauled. I was awfully sorry to hear of those 3 battleships going down in the Dardanelles – especially the Ocean. The Ocean with the Minerva formed the escort which brought us out here and again on the Canal, she joined us in repelling the Turks. I was always running across her ‘till I gained quite an affection for her. Now she has gone. We hear now that the Turks never retired to any great distance from the Canal but have been hovering about there ever since the attack. If so, I fear we shall not get away from Egypt yet awhile.

On Saturday I went to dinner with the High Commissioner of Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon. When I received the invitation, I felt rather uneasy for I found that neither the Artillery, to whom I was attached, were going nor the other Chaplains. Consequently, I was afraid of appearing in ordinary uniform (for I have no dress kit) and finding myself the only one not in full dress kit. However, an invitation from such a quarter is a command. Fortunately, there were several like myself, yet not altogether, for I found when I got back that in my hurry, I had forgotten to put the stars on my shoulder straps and the Maltese Crosses on my collar. It was like appearing without a tie. It must have looked very funny. Fortunately, I was in blissful ignorance all the time, so that I thoroughly enjoyed the dinner. It was at the Embassy, Lord Kitchener’s abode, a gorgeous mansion. Native flunkeys in brilliant red and gold native dress served the dishes. To say grace in Lord Kitchener’s dining room amid such surroundings was a rather interesting experience. At dinner I found myself next to a Colonel Cummings – a staff officer who turned out to be a brother of Cummings Solicitor at Chester. The Col. was adjutant for the district around Chester in the old days of Volunteers and of course knew Daddy and the College very well. It was rather a curious coincidence.

One of those woolen head gear would prove very useful even here at nights and would be still greater blessing if we get to a colder climate for our blood is getting very thin out here and we shall shiver if the temperature falls below 80o Fahrenheit.

Sir Henry McMahon looks very young, (apparently not more than 40), for his important position. He and the Colonel were simply blazing with medals, ribbons and various “orders”. It must be an awful bore to him entertaining lots of men whom he never saw before and probably will never see again.

Heaps of love to all
Your affectionate Son
Ken

                                               

P.S. Give Bennie [Bening Mourant Arnold, Elsie’s husband] my heartiest Congrats. I fear despite his keenness, military affairs are taking a poor second place at present.

Heliopolis Camp
April 11, 1915

My dear Elsie,

Heartiest congratulations at the glorious news which I have just received in a short note from mother. Up to now I have felt like Peter Pan, unable to grow up, but now I suppose I shall have to live up to my new office as uncle, become staid and sober and put away childish things. I hear that you have not repented of your decision but still wish me to be godfather. It is a mistake. I have only once before acted as godfather and failed to appear at the Christening and now once more it will be a proxy. A broken reed you see, but I will try to mend my ways later on. However, it is an ill wind which blows nobody good. I shall love Margaret far more if I see her first when she has passed the first stage and started to grow hair and show real signs of intelligence. You will be very cross with me for speaking like this and say that she is the most beautiful and intelligent dear little thing created and I am a horrid brute. Don’t forget I am only a selfish bachelor and such people cannot appreciate or see the hidden depths of beauty and form and character in a little morsel which only eats, sleeps, wriggles and cries.

Mar will feel a great responsibility to one who is her niece and namesake and doubtless takes upon herself to direct little Margaret in the way she should go. You will have to be jolly careful that the aunt does not usurp your prerogatives as mother.  However, Mar’s stern demeanor will no doubt be very useful when you are tempted to treat the failings of your progeny too leniently. I can picture Mar glaring thro’ her specs at her rebellious niece and can see the salutary effect it will have.

It will cheer mother and daddy up immensely to have a squalling babe in the Rectory. What strange taste some folk have. I should keep say ‘Oh brother the little brat’.

Herbert is having some extraordinary experiences. Funny coming of age and becoming an uncle within a week and both on the field of battle. I was awfully amused at his description of a sham attack on the Dardanelles. We cannot with the united ingenuity of our camp invent any interesting amusements. Tents and the desert don’t allow much scope for such things. For a few brief moments I had hopes of going to the Dardanelles. The Expeditionary Force were short of Chaplains and the Chaplain General asked if one of us could go. The senior chaplain in Egypt has however vetoed the suggestion saying that we are short handed as it is. We are soon, I fancy, to be on the move – but it will apparently not be something in the nature of a “General Post”. No part of Division is likely to leave Egypt but some will probably go down again to the Canal where another attack is threatened.

I know Dr. Jays & Grundon quite well and have often met Gardner. Jays is in charge of YMCA in the camp and I am at present having all my meals with him. He is a rather famous lay missioner in CMS. Grundon is curate, (assistant chaplain), at All Saints, Cairo and has helped me much by lending books, communion linen, etc.

I have just finished my third service today and counted out the piastres in the collection and now I must set to work to get my tonight’s sermon clear in my head.

I may leave Heliopolis in the course of a day or two but a box will be left there and they will forward letters. I hope to go to Luxor on 3-days leave with Fletcher1, another Chaplain, on Monday.

My humble respects to little Margaret and love to all the family

Your affectionate brother
Ken

Note: 1. Rev. Denis Fletcher Chaplain 4th Class (TF) Attached 5th Lancs Fusiliers 14 Oct, 1914.

                                               

Luxor Hotel
April 14, 1915

Though no doubt you are a most precocious kid yet I don’t fancy you will appreciate a card from Luxor. I felt as I was writing home my godchild must not be forgotten.

Your affectionate Godfather
Ken

                                               

Heliopolis Camp
April 20, 1915

My dear Family,

This is probably the last time I shall write to you from Heliopolis Camp. I have just received orders to pack up and go to Abbassia Barracks. I had hoped to be sent down once again to the Canal though I don’t suppose there will be any fighting. There are I suppose some 5,000 of our Division scattered over a front of 40 or more miles and one Chaplain to deal with them. Absurd! At Abbassia there are about 7 or 8,000 but they are concentrated within a very small campus and surrounded by conveniences such as Soldier’s Institutes, Homes, halls for entertainment, Garrison Church and have 2 Chaplains. I therefore assumed I should go to the Canal. It was not to be so. For some reasons I am pleased. [illegible sentence across a fold in the paper]

I shall, after 7 months of field work get into a building for services, and it ought to be healthier. Kantara would probably have been my destination on the Canal and Kantara is situated on swamp and breeds mosquitoes and fever. Also, the East Lancs Brigade and Artillery seem to be planted there for good for defence work while it is just possible – tho’ not very probable – that if the operations in the Dardanelles prove speedily successful, we might take part if not in the actual scrimmage at any rate in policing the country. It all depends whether a relieving force is being sent out here. The Colonials could not be left to do garrison work. They are not reliable and are so wild and undisciplined that they would soon cause internal trouble with the Mohammedans. A week or two back they carried out a regular Cambridge ‘Town and Gown’ on a large scale in Cairo and of some rumpus in a low quarter of the town. There was none of the ‘Town and Gown’ humour about it and in view of the present situation was a most abominable procedure imperiling the lives of the Christian civilian population by an internal rising. For this crime, which the Terriers picket quelled, the Australians have to their great satisfaction been moved on, while the Terriers are still ‘Confined to Camp’. I feel awfully sorry for our lads. They really appear to be fagged out with their heavy training without any objective in view, but they are sticking to it heroically.

Had a most interesting time at Luxor, visiting the temples of Luxor and Thebes on Tuesday, Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens and Colossi of Memnon on Wednesday and Abydos, and Barrage at Assiut on Thursday. It was pretty heavy work but well worth the effort. I thought before going there that I had considerable experience of heat but I soon found out my mistake. A temperature of 110 in the shade and a moist atmosphere is appalling. I shall never forget riding up the Valley of the Kings on a donkey with the blazing sun powering down and being reflected from the white rocks and sand.

The 2 Emaues [Colossi of Memnon] are still wonderful but I can hardly conceive how gorgeous they must have been before the earthquake and that old brute Cambyses played havoc with them.

The colouring on many of the mural pictures still remains though it has been exposed to the atmosphere nearly 4,000 years. Many of the tombs of the Kings have only recently been discovered and then the paintings and bas reliefs are as fresh as if they had been finished this year. A good many of my photos seem to have been successful judging from the negatives though I have not had any prints made yet.

I am keeping very fit so long as I can avoid being ‘liverish’. This I might be able to do now as I had succeeded in getting a real lively horse from the Australian Remount Depot. He goes like the wind. When I get to Abbassia I propose to get a ride each morning, early before the day gets hot. This jogging up ought to keep me in good fettle. I shall no doubt meet Major Sheppheard when I get to Abbassia as he is quartered there.

Did I tell you that when I dined with the High Commissioner of Egypt (Sir Henry McMahon) I sat next to Colonel Cummings who used to be adjutant to Forces around about Chester? He was the brother of the Solicitor at Chester.

I am just beginning to feel it is about time I had a visit to Sandon and somehow, I feel the war is getting near the end. In a month or so Constantinople ought to fall and the Allies seem to have got the Germans well in hand and are only waiting in order to sacrifice as few lives as possible.

I must now proceed to pack up my things ready for the arrival of the transport wagon.

Heaps of love to all including the new arrival.
Your affectionately
Ken

                                               

Alexandria Merchant Seaman’s Home
Monday May 3, 1915
Noon

My dear Family,

Another move and a rather more important one this time. On Tuesday last, we (I am now with the 1/5th Manchester Battalion, Infantry) expected shortly to move down to the Canal. The East Lancs Brigade had gone and part of the Lancs Fusilier Brigade followed them but were only there one day and came back actually while fighting was going on! This suggested that some very important and urgent work was to be done elsewhere and this of course meant the Dardanelles.

On Wednesday we had orders to be ready to move within a week or so. On Thursday within a few days. On Friday the move was fixed for Monday following. On Saturday afternoon we were ordered to entrain for Alexandria on Saturday evening. I wired to the Senior Chaplain and was told to remain at Abbassia. Sunday was one of the strangest I have ever passed thro’. The whole Barracks were astir with troops drawing kit and ammunition, etc. The Parade Services had to be cancelled but I got a goodly number at the 6:30 and 7:30 celebrations and at 6:30 for voluntary evening service. It was a very busy day for me as I had been left all by myself at Abbassia. The Senior Chaplain being at Alexandria and my colleague Fletcher having gone off with the Fusilier Brigade. In the morning I was busy trying to get a saddle for my horse and seeing that Church Hut property and Camp Library would be looked after in case I moved and also trying to make arrangements for return of borrowed property. At lunch I received Senior Chaplain’s order to remain. This I did not much care for so I saw Colonel Cummings (AA & QMS) i.e., chief assistant to General Douglas who commands the Division. He said I certainly ought to move lest the Brigade (i.e., 4 Infantry Battalions) about 5,000 men should be without a Chaplain. He advised me to see General Douglas personally. I went and Douglas said yes certainly we would and go and tell the Senior Chaplain, or anyone else, that you have direct orders from me to go. By the way, Colonel Cummings had had influenza badly, has been before the Board and ordered home as medically unfit. I am awfully sorry he is going. He is extremely kind and pleasant. He has kindly promised to get safely to you a box of antiquities. I had no means of keeping them here and PO would not insure them. So as their value was £20 or so I was very relieved when he promised to take them with him.

It was a wonderful sight to see the troops leaving Abbassia at night in dead silence. They looked very solemn and grim. I don’t know how I got off. At 5pm I received my orders to go. I had to pack a valise with a few necessities (field equipment) weight only 35lbs to go to the Field Base (i.e., somewhere in Dardanelles). Kit Bag (100lbs) with reserve store to be left at Alexandria and the rest of my belongings to be packed and left in somebody’s care – until I returned or else sent home. In the midst of this I had the Evening Service which I found rather an ordeal. I hardly knew how to speak to men who were about to face some very firm work. Just beneath me was a clergyman whose face I knew very well. He turned out to be one I knew fairly well at Cambridge. He has just come out to superintend Mission to Jews in Cairo. I eventually with help of Wesleyan Chaplain, got my surplus luggage packed – leaving it in his charge ‘till further instructions. I could not catch the first train at 12:30 as packing was not done until 1am. I went by second troop train at 3:30am leaving Abbassia and going through Cairo just as dawn was breaking. Cairo withheld its best for the farewell. Had a comfortable journey and arrived here at 10am. Our transport, a German prize boat, was being scrubbed down, being in a most repulsive state. It had just come in with 500 wounded. I went on deck and some nice rough Australians gave me some potatoes, onions and tea without milk in a tin can. It was very good. While I ate and drank, they gave me an account of the landing of the Australians. They had to jump off pontoons into water – often up to their necks. Before they could get onto dry land nearly half of them were wounded. I hear that casualties are estimated as high as 60%. They stuck to it and drove the Turks back at point of bayonet. No prisoners are being taken on either side just now. One hears from all quarters of German Officers dressed as English and Australian getting into lines and giving false orders, viz to charge in a Battery with result that a whole Battalion is mowed down. Kerby1 should have gone out with the Manchester Brigade but I have just found a parson (that describes him rough, uncouth, beastly accent fellow) who is working in connection with Seaman’s Home. He tells me that Kerby has received orders to stay at Base in Alex. I therefore shall try to go on with the 5th Manchesters whom I much prefer to the 3rd East Lancs RFA.

I had better skedaddle now and see what is happening. I have wired Senior Chaplain to say I am on Quay 44 Alex and he may come and give it me hot for disobeying his orders. I had scribbled out a line for Margaret Evelyn’s christening. I will send it along for correction when I have time to write it out. I don’t know what my address will be. I think best would be 5th Battalion Manchester Regiment, East Lancs Division (T.F.), Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

I shall try to see a bit of Alex this afternoon if as it is reported we don’t leave ‘til midnight.

So glad to hear Margaret Evelyn is flourishing and such an exceptional baby.

Having been up for 32 hours or more without a rest, my head persists in dropping on the table. Therefore, I will relieve you of any further trouble.

Heaps of love to all.
How goes Herbert?
Yours affectionately
J K Best

Note: 1. Probably Rev. Edwin Thomas Kerby, M.C.

                                               

Somewhere off Gallipoli Peninsula
In Bay of Saros
HMT A.10
Thursday May 6, 1915

My dear Family,

Having lost sight of the Artillery I tacked myself on to the Manchester Brigade hoping to discover the Artillery later. The arrangement seems to have been wise as the Artillery will probably be split up and different portions attached to the various Infantry Brigades.

On Monday afternoon I drove into Alexandria and then took a tram car to Palais Ramleh, (about 6 miles off), to see the Senior Chaplain who was staying there. I missed him but had a glorious ride passing camp after camp of soldiers newly arrived from all over England. Most noticeable was the huge collection of Yeomanry. We were all onboard by 6pm but could not push off until midnight owing to difficulty in getting together the crew. The don’t like entering the danger zone or having shells fizzing around them. There were some Australians onboard who gave us thrilling accounts of the Australian landing. The death toll was appalling when compared with that at Mons or Neuve Chapelle. Casualties about 60% it is estimated. Largely, as they themselves admit, this huge loss was due to their impetuosity tho’ the landing was bound to be costly. The Naval guns did their best to cover the landing which had to be effected by wading, waist deep, in water in which were laid barbed wire entanglements and faced by heavy artillery fire. When the troops were on terra firma they charged with fixed bayonets up the hill driving all before them. The Turks are very clever snipers but don’t like cold steel. Unfortunately, nothing could hold them back when they started on their revenge and they advanced so far that the Queen Elizabeth’s covering shells landed in their midst and did great havoc. Spies are a terrible difficulty, owing to them the Turks seem to know just where to expect us. They have actually been mingling among our men and giving false orders such as to charge into a battery of Maxims over the open and so on. The cruelty of some of the Turks is abominable and the Australians are giving no quarter in return. I don’t know whether we are to support Colonials or British troops. I fancy and hope the latter at Cape Helles – as they are a crack lot – 29th Indian Brigade, Munsters, Dublin Fusiliers, Lancs Fusiliers, Scottish Borderers and Batteries. It will be a great honour if this Division is allowed to combine with them.

On Monday officers were busy cutting off their stars and braid making themselves indistinguishable from Tommies – for sharpshooters have done deadly work in picking off officers. Then we got our heads shaved – we are a funny sight – a villainous looking set of cut throats. In spare time I made up a means to sleep. At night arranged for a celebration of Holy Communion in the Library at 6:45. I asked the Dean of Sydney (Talbot, late Dean of Stowell Memorial Church, Manchester) to celebrate while I assisted. Talbot is over with the Australians. He did not land but came back with the wounded and so was making his second journey. We had 100 communicants. It was most inspiring. All day were passing thro’ the islands of the archipelago taking a rather roundabout route to avoid mines. We passed two dummy cruisers who signaled ‘all’s well’. Spent the day arranging a concert party to enliven the last evening. Taylforth1 and Valentine2 both old Chester students (Sergts. in 6th Manchesters) were invaluable help. Dean of Sydney presided over one end of the boat and myself the other. We had a very jolly night. At 8:30pm we had another celebration. Several said how sorry they were that they missed morning service, so I took my first evening communion. We only expected a dozen or so and arranged to have it in a small office. This was packed out at 8:15 so we removed to the purple room. Again, we got over 100. We sang ‘Just as I am’ and while communicating ‘Abide with me’, ‘Sun of my Soul’, ‘Glory to Thee’ and was a very lovely service. Afterwards I went and had a chat with Talbot. He said towards the end that shortly he expected their Precentor at Sydney Cathedral will be retiring – they had been waiting for some time. He thought it would suit me so would I keep in communication with him. It means looking after the musical part of Cathedral services and being headmaster of the Choir School. If the offer comes and all is well I should feel very inclined to accept. The Senior Chaplain also wants me to become a permanent Army Chaplain. That I should not I think care for. I don’t feel quite cut out for such work. It is all right for a time – and for such a time as present – but permanent garrison work must be most dull work.

Thurs Morning – Where we are I don’t quite know. There are dozens of gun boats and transports lying round, among them Queen Lizzie. In the ridge of hills running up from sea the shells from Turkish guns are shooting. They seem to be searching the whole hillside down to the sea. I suppose our troops must be entrenched there – but we know very little.

I have borrowed the writing pad from the Ship’s Captain and am getting him to post it on this return to Alex.

Hope you are all well

Notes:

  1. 142 Sgt. William Taylforth, 1/6th Manchesters. Killed in Action May 31, 1915 Dardanelles.
  2. Probably 141 Sgt. George Hamilton Valentine 1/6 Manchesters. Survived the war.

                                               

Letters from Gallipoli

1st East Lancs Division (TF)
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force

My dear Family,

Will you scribble a line to Canon Hawkins, to WA Leigh Esq, Bank House Lytham, F. Grundy Ansdell Bridge, Lytham, and Miss Heys, County Hotel Lytham saying that I will try to drop a line soon but being stranded on foreign shores an having a pretty hot time there are bit few opportunities of writing and getting letters off. Whether I shall receive any in still more doubtful.

We have been rather rushed with the result that I have got nothing beyond what I stand up in. I can generally pinch a blanket from somewhere for the night. The nights are perishingly cold after Egypt. I dig myself a hole for night quarters. I have found the best way of spending night is to spend 10 minutes in hard exercise and then sleep an hour or two while the effect wears off. If I lie down all night, I become too cold to sleep. Wonderfully healthy life. The Naval guns and artillery kick up a deafening row, but one gets used to it. Except for the sad side of war, I am enjoying this experience immensely. One sees wonderful acts of heroism and most amazing pluck and cheerfulness. At times it is absolutely uncanny. You see an Irishman with one arm off and full of wounds dragging himself to Regimental Aid Post – a man offers to help him, “Nay, get thee along to trenches laddie, they need thee more than I do”. He has even got witticisms for those he meets. I am not of course allowed to tell you what is going on. Weather is good and I am well, only I should like to get a change of clothes or pick up a razor. I had a grand swim in the sea yesterday which was very refreshing.

Cheer ho. Will send active service postcards from time to time. I am trying to get the last parcel you sent as I badly need a woolen helmet, now I have lost the head protection provided by nature.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Ken

                                               

Headquarters
126th Brigade
42nd Division
MEF
Monday May 31, 1915

My dear Family,

It is usually very difficult to find much to say which will not offend the vigilant eye of the censor. I have not received any letters for the last 5 or 6 weeks because I have been a homeless vagabond attached temporarily to first one unit and then another. At last, I appear to have secured a settled abode so I have sent my address to Bolton Artillery and also to the Military PO and hope to receive most of the letters. I shall have a regular feast when they all come in. You see we have been rechristened [On May 25, 1915 the East Lancs Division was renamed the 42nd Division]. I suppose it simplifies matters to substitute numbers for names but it is very utilitarian and gauche and takes away a good deal of romance from the war reports.

I wonder if you hear anything in the paper of our doings. We don’t get many papers here – the only regular issue is the Peninsula Press of which I enclose a sample. It is rather a dull unenterprising production. It takes the sparkle of the Daily Mail and does not contain much in the way of news. One appreciates papers as never before. To discover a stray page of Tit Bits is a great triumph. One reads it totally thro’ – not omitting the advertisements. I shall know all the virtues of quack medicines – Doan’s Back Ache pills, etc. – by heart if we stay here long. I am rambling hopelessly.  The only news I can think of which is not censorable is a record of financials, but that would be too depressing. To relieve the monotony, we shall have to adopt, or rather adapt, the novel scheme of certain eminent nonconformists of marrying by proxy.

I had the sad privilege of burying a nephew of a dear old lady friend of home at Lytham the other day. His brother was out here, being present at the funeral. The only time that I met him before was at the last lunch I had in Lytham when he was staying with his aunt.

I hope before very long we shall meet the Australian troops. I do so badly want to see old Waggle1 again. He must have had a terribly hot time. I hope he has come through safely. My horse and I were just becoming great chums. We squabbled defiantly for a bit as to who should be master. When we left Egypt, the matter was more or less settled and Dinkum was becoming reconciled to the fact, (Dinkum is an Australian expression used when he wants you to believe some tall yarn as the sober honest truth. I therefore gave my horse this name because the crafty old villain goes along quite quietly and then when you are off your guard tries one of its colonial tricks). Now I have lost him. I lost absolutely everything except a great coat. By great good luck I have recovered most of my things – some kind person took what suited him from my saddlery. It is everyone for himself here and I suppose he thought he needed it more than I did. Well perhaps he did. Dinkum is probably at Tenedos so I may see him again. I should love to buy him if he is brought to England.

My average day is from 7am to 9pm. Three times a day I sit down to eat. The rest of the day I am more or less on the tramp – going up to the trenches or wandering round the reserve bivouacs. The men talk a lot of home as is only natural but they prefer this to Egypt. It is a grand open healthy life with no foul spots such as Cairo. The only buildings we see are in ruins and when one gets accustomed to it the danger is far preferable to the deadly monotony of the desert. Lastly to get back to hedge and green fields once again reminds one of England and what that means after 7 or 8 months of sand and flies you can hardly realise. I was beginning to regard the weather here as ideal, so it is as a rule, but last Wednesday was an exception. It rained – well I have never seen rain like it before – it was tropical, a regular cloud burst. I had strolled up to the firing trenches (don’t think I am being foolhardy; it is the safest place on the peninsular) and was just beginning to find my way home among the maze of trenches when the rain began. Within half an hour the trenches were 3 feet deep in water or rather in a mixture of water and mud of about the consistency of thick pea soup. I was a lovely sight when I got back to my dug out – it was barely a dug out, rather a pit of water with my belongings floating on top. I got into shorts and bailed out diligently for two hours and then picked out the various articles which had subsided at the bottom, out of the mud. We were just facing the problem of how we were to spend the night under cover from shells and stray bullets and get out of the water when orders came to move. We retired back about ½ mile and found to our joy that not a drop of rain had fallen and that the dug outs were quite dry. This was a mere lucky chance. The picks and spades had been sent down on the first transport and so when the torrents came washing down the hill side the men were able to direct its course away from our bivouac. Had the spades come last then our new bivouac would have been under water. I forgot to add an important item in my daily routine – a good swim in the sea. As one is very rarely able to change clothes this is an unspeakable boon.

I have sent to Cairo for envelopes and managed to get some paper so that my epistles home should be in future more regular. One cannot make bricks without straw nor write letters without paper. If you discover any fairly long or detailed account of operations here, (you will guess the place), I should be very glad if you can put them aside. It will be interesting to compare the official narrative with the actual thing. I hope my letters will soon reach me. Six weeks is a long time to wait for letters especially with Herbert at the front. You might send all letters to my new address.

Italy seems to have entered the arena and we hope that Greece will after General Election June 18th. It will help us materially here.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Ken

Note: 1. The Reverend Canon Leonard Martin Andrews CVO, MBE, MC, MA, Queen’s College, Cambridge 1906. Initially joined the 1st Field Ambulance, Australian Expeditionary Force (as Private 1750) but was later commissioned in the British Army as Temporary Chaplain 4th Class.

                                               

Headquarters
126th Brigade
42nd Division
MEF
[Early June 1915]

My dear Family,

As on the Canal, so here one can explore the whole of the battle area and so gain a pretty clear idea of the progress of operations. I don’t know to what extent you have been initiated into the mystery of the Dardanelles, but I do know that it is useless for me to try to inform you. We are very isolated here and know nothing of what is being done outside our own little area. We feel certain Italy has joined the Allies. We hear Bulgaria has entered the lists and there are rumours that Austria has sued for peace unconditionally and that America is on the verge of a declaration.

I have written to various people trying to get my mails sent on here but as yet without success. I have received no letter for 6 weeks. I suppose there must be a large budget somewhere in Egypt. A few days back [May 31] a new batch of C of E Chaplains arrived. They look very pretty – their boots nicely polished, clothes brushed, hair neatly parted and beautiful white dog collar. They did not realise I was a Chaplain but took me for an officer’s batman (servant). I was not surprised. It would have taken a thought reader all his time to discern anything clerical about me. I was caked in dry mud from head to foot, my boots worn out, collarless – a muffle round my head for a helmet with a dirty handkerchief hanging down behind to protect the back of my neck from the sun. I am now better off having got an issue of Army boots and having picked up Sunday articles of attire in the trenches. I also collected some rather interesting Turkish and French relics. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, my luggage is a nuisance. Somebody relieved me of them. To return to the Chaplains. The face of one seemed somehow familiar to me – I could not fix him and yet I felt sure he had something to do with Chester. He turned out to be Kinloch1, Dean of Eccleston, [Cheshire] and as he impressed upon me very carefully, Chaplain to the Duke of Westminster.  I remember him in connection with the Eaton Hall cricket team. I fancy he thought that his work would take him to a nice comfortable town, as in France – far away from shot and shell. He did not appear to be enchanted with his surroundings. Curiously enough, he has been attached to our Division to look after the odd units, such as RAMC, transport, RE, etc. The life out here is very curious and yet extraordinarily fascinating. I started by holding largish services but things have become hotter and I find it is mere suicide to do more than get together a dozen or two men in a trench or dug out. I fear that when (DV) I get home I shall be up to all sorts of antics. Someone will bang on a door and you will see me dive headlong under the sofa, or pile up cushions as if they were sandbags. If the wind whistles in the trees I shall order the congregation to take cover while I bob down behind the pulpit or reading desk. It is extraordinary how soon one settles down to new surroundings – one gets quite used to anything in time. Even to dying, as the Irishman said. The life is really great and amazingly satisfying. Whenever I pay my next visit to Sandon, I shall have to hire snipers to pot at me all the way from Chelmsford to Sandon and see if I can prevail upon some Terriers to drop a few shells to beguile the monotony of the walk. I wonder if you will be able to spare me a little room in the kitchen garden in which to dig a hole. I shall return a perfect savage and shall have to be broken in gradually otherwise I shall disgrace myself by dipping my knife into the jampot and throwing what is left on plate or in cup on to the carpet. The sight of a bath or a pair of clean sheets would bowl me over.

The boys have been rather badly mauled, but their spirit is wonderful. I came across half a dozen Darwen lads wounded, some very seriously. They had been lying out in the open for two days. They knew that at all costs they must keep each other’s spirits up so they formed themselves into the Darwen Debating Society and so I found them hard at it suffused in the argument. They dearly love a cigarette. Twenty yards in front of their firing line lay a dead German officer. He had on a wrist watch, sword and all sorts of trophies. One boy said he was going to fetch him in. The others tried to dissuade him. It was mere suicide they said. The Turkish trenches were only a few yards off and the ground was simply swept with machine gun fire. The watch, etc., were not worth the risk. “Eh lad, dost think I want them things? Gosh no! Int he’ll likely have some cig papers on him thou knows”, and he went off to get them.

We have got an Essex Regiment and some East Anglian RAMC. I wonder whether any Sandon lads are among either lot.

I wonder how you are all flourishing. I am very anxious to hear about Herbert. Has he got his commission in the ASC? And is he still fit!

Most of the officers whom I liked best have gone under. Two nephews of a Miss Allen who I knew very well at Lytham have gone and I fear the son of Sir Harry Hornby of Blackburn, cousin of Hugh Hornby who was to have gone to Bolton Parish Church as fellow curate with me. Hornby was badly wounded and could not find a trace of him in any of the Field Ambulances records. What a mad world this is! I suppose we shall soon come to our senses and settle the matter which might just as well have been settled without the carnage. How much wiser were the Israelites and Philistines when they settled their dispute by single combat of David and Goliath. Well Cheer ho – my very best respects to my niece and goddaughter. I hope she is not spoilt by mother and acting mothers.

Yours affectionately
Ken

Note: 1. The Reverend Michael Ward Kinloch, temporary Chaplain to the Forces, 4th Class. 25th September, 1914.

                                               

Headquarters
126th Brigade
MEF
June 28, 1915

My dear Family,

Another Sunday has gone. It is hard to distinguish Sunday from other days out here, except that on that day there seem to be rather more poor fellows to bury. It is impossible to hold a big service – we should be wiped out in a very few minutes. The best one can do is to collection ten or a dozen men in a dug out or bit of a trench and have a few short words with them. Some prayers and a short lesson. At night, if it is darkish, we are able to have a celebration of Holy Communion. It is very touching to see the response to whatever little bit of spiritual work one can do. Never before have we realised the wonderful power of Holy Communion as we do here. Everywhere I am met with the same question: ‘When can we have another service of Holy Communion?’ We need so sorely the gift of strength, courage, comfort and peace of mind and we find we get it. I ask no questions regarding a man’s particular persuasion – even if I had the conviction of the Bishop of Zanzibar, I should not have the heart to refuse this wonderful gift to men all of whom may at any moment, and some of whom certainly will very shortly, meet death. Even with churchmen who are not confirmed I feel the deep longing, as confirmation is impossible, shows them to be fit to receive. Theoretically I may be wrong and untrue to church principles yet the practical result convinces me that under exceptional circumstances exceptions may be made. I am wonderfully happy among the boys in the trenches. They have done marvelously but have suffered terribly. There are plenty of Chaplains down at the Base and at the Field Ambulances so that I am able to spend most of my time with the boys in the trenches. The only time I cannot go with them is when they charge. I should love to go with them then, but I could be of no use so I wait ‘til they have got into their new position and then join them as soon as it is possible. It is then that one sees the real horrors of war. The trenches are full of dead and dying Turks, Germans and our own boys. Their moans and cries for help are simply heartbreaking. I hope to goodness we shall soon be relieved for the sake of these poor lads. They are played out. The ghastly sights and foul smells on top of incessant work day and night have overtaxed their endurance. We are hoping daily for a sleep even if it be only a temporary one. We hear rumours that Greece have joined the Allies and we are wondering what action the Balkan States will take. We hear also, and this pleases us still more, that Peace Conferences are taking place. But all our news is very doubtful and indefinite.

I must dry up now as I have got some short notes to write to mothers of the dead and wounded. Only let me say that I am thoroughly ‘enjoying’, (that is not the right word – it makes me appear very heartless), this life. I mean that I hardly even remember feeling so happy and contented as I do out here. When things are quiet (that is I suppose when the Turks are looking after their own men) and one does not see the poor boys being slaughtered and mangled before they have even reached manhood it is a glorious picnic full of amusing episodes. Three times has my home been destroyed. Fortunately, it only means an hour or two with pick and spade to restore it. First by flood. I came back to find my belongings floating in 3 feet of water. Second by fire. A piece of shell dropped in and set my blanket on fire burning most of my kit. That again was not hard to remedy. A tour round the trenches enabled me to replace most of the necessities – coal, blanket, ground sheet, mess tin. Lastly a shell came and wrecked the dug out completely. I therefore thought the time had come for a move and have sought a more secluded spot.

I am so glad you have written to try to dissuade Herbert from taking absolutely uncalled for risks. If he could get a commission in the ASC, he would do admirable service. Serving as I do among the men in the trenches, I know how much depends on efficient ASC officers. If it is bungled the fighting men are very severely handicapped and sometimes rendered almost useless. I am afraid I did not receive your two previous letters. The only letter I have received for 8 weeks were yours and Margery’s dated May 17th and a postcard from mother a few days previous to that. Did I tell you that Kinloch has left the Peninsula? I think he found it too much for his nerves. Fortunately, he left a Government Communion Set behind in his haste which I have possessed myself. Canon Hitchens of Jerusalem, who took my place temporarily at Heliopolis when I was on the Suez Canal, has curiously enough succeeded him. He is brother of Robert Hitchens the novelist.

Heaps of love to you all including Margaret Emilie Stella.
Yours affectionately
Ken

                                               

Headquarters
126th Brigade
MEF
July 2, 1915

My dear Family,

I think I have received most if not all of your letters. Those that were addressed to Abbassia arrived a few days ago, somewhat in retard, but much appreciated notwithstanding. I wonder if you get mine. As far as I can remember I have written once a week but on no particular day of the week. In future I will try to send one off each Monday and if I can find time in between to scribble an extra note I will mention it in the letter following. You will then have a check. I received a belated letter from Robin Hayes with the budget forwarded from Abbassia. He addressed me in his usual style as Teddy Bear. If only he could pay me a visit, he would soon see reason to change this form of address. Brer Rabbit would be very apt. I can well appreciate the failings of Mr. Rabbit when he bolts for his burrow – small shot must be to him what shrapnel is to us. If this is so, the analogy is a true one. I don’t feel so sorry for him as I used to do, his life must be brimful of excitement. And in addition, his natural home being underground, and his dress being adapted for such an existence, he will not feel the discomfort of dirt and dust continually dropping in his eyes and down his neck. Also, he can get deep enough to be absolutely secure from lead and flies which we unfortunately cannot.

How extraordinary! As I am writing this my orderly came along with two letters from you dated June 16th and 17th. I was recalling the jolly days when I used to tramp round the fields with Toddy and Louis1 after rabbits, then opening your letter I read the sad news. Poor fellow he was so kind, unselfish and modest. I will certainly do my very best. It ought not to be difficult except that owing to the heavy casualties it may be hard to find any who were near him when he fell. I should be very glad to receive names of any whom you know, or know of, out here and to give information to poor anxious folk at home. It is a little job I could do without much loss of time as my work takes me thro’ most of the trenches and bivouacs. The area of operations here is small and I have had every opportunity of learning the geography of the place. I wish I had met Luis out here – but perhaps his work was done before we arrived. Poor Jaylforth is dead and Valentine wounded, I fear seriously. It is the same tale everywhere. Very few that I knew are still with us. How mournful I am getting. An empty stomach maketh a gloomy man. That sounds quite like a proverb but whether or no it has the merit of being true. I feel in quite a cheerful vein once more, having had some lukewarm tea – very strong and well stewed, (the men believe in getting their full ration of tea and getting everything they can out of it including the tannin; I shudder to think what my inside will soon be like), and a slice of bread and jam. We have now a field bakery in full swing. It knocks off work occasionally when the shelling becomes heavy in which case, after much deliberation, we select our strongest set of molars and entrust to them the attack of the ‘Army biscuit’. Already they have shattered two of my strongest redoubts. (My spirits have again risen with a jump. A RAMC cook has just attempted a rissole out of bully beef, a few onions and bread and wanted my opinion on the result. I have had better at Sandon but none I have eaten with greater relish). I keep wandering. The jam is in tins on which the honoured name of Tickler is inscribed. Perhaps the name sounds commonplace to you in England but here with bated breath it is whispered – a name to conjure with. For is it not to the jam tins of Tickler, emptied of their palatable contents and filled with an unpleasant mixture of lead powder and fuse, that we owe many a Turkish head.

As you say, the poor old 6th M/Cs have suffered, so have the whole Division but not quite so heavily. The sixth are very fond of describing the banquet which the Major is going to hold in honour of their return. He sends his peroration thus ‘Your fame has gone out into the whole wide world, from East to West, from North to South your praises resound. And now may I have the honour – the greatest known, I deem it, that has ever fallen to my lot, of shaking hands with both of you’. The two survivors are generally reckoned to be the Quartermaster and a staff officer. They are the swagger battalion of the Division and were known at home as the “Collar and Cuff” brigade. In Egypt they formed a concert party and gave entertainment after the style of the Follies. They were very good.

My wants out here are few. Half a dozen pocket handkerchiefs, a couple of white linen shorts and a cheap pipe will meet my requirements. It is no use sending a camera. My little pocket Kodak tried to swim and is now a casualty. Another has been sent off from Egypt by Senior Chaplain but I fear has been confiscated. Some Van Houten’s Cocoa and Keatings would always come in useful. We have an ample supply of baccy, 2ozs a week.

I must now be off and try to find the Collingwood Battalion as I have to be back by 7pm. I will write to you or Mrs. Tucker if I can glean any information. I fancy I am receiving letters promptly and regularly but the more the better – so I heartily approve of the new scheme.

Best of luck to Mar and also Thiam in their approaching, or I suppose by now passed, exams. I wish Herbert was in for ASC, it is a much safer job. The RE from what I see have a pretty rough time of it. Undoubtedly it is one of the finest services.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Ken

Never mind about a pipe. My batman’s father is sending one and a Corporal in an Australian Battery has presented me with a homemade one.

JKB

Note: 1. 2/Lt. Louis Egbert Tucker, R.N.V.R., “Collingwood Battalion” R.N. Division. Killed in Action June 4, 1915. Son of W.J. Sanger Tucker and Katherine Louisa Tucker, Chelmsford.

                                               

I suppose it is you whom I have to thank for the Times Weekly [Edition]. Would you instruct them to send it to my new address. Also, could they send Land and Water.

Headquarters
126th Brigade
MEF
July 6, 1915

My dear Family,

The usual sad fate of good resolves! The very first Monday I failed to write the promised letter. I was just about to write it when I was summoned to take a funeral over the other side of the peninsula. When I got back it was dark and my precious little bit of candle was a pool of grease. I have since collected the grease and worked it up again with quite a respectable amateur imitation of a candle but I was too weary to do it last night. I paid a visit to the RND trenches. Only one officer of the old Collingwood [Battalion] (in addition to Transport officer) is left and he is a mere lad. Louis T. went out with a digging party behind the attacking line on that terrible 4th of June. The Collingwood advanced about 300 yards but owing to the French on their Right being unable to advance they found themselves hotly enfiladed by rifle and maxim gun fire and were forced to retire, taking the digging party with them. It was during this retirement that Louis was hit in the head and killed instantaneously. He lies now between our lines and the Turkish, I fancy. I wrote to Mrs. Tucker and gave her all the information I have been able so far to collect. Of course, I did not tell her that his body has not been recovered. He was known as ‘Tommy’ which proves his popularity. The last surviving officer spoke very warmly of his courage and industry and also of his great dry humour.

The Peninsula is swarming with Scotch and the last batch in kilts. Their influence is beginning to tell on me I fancy. It was not for several hours that it occurred to me how Louis got his nickname. I was wondering on whom I could sponge for a supper when the Nursery Rhyme suddenly floated through my mind. I began to chortle. I was passing among some newly arrived troops whose faces were very long for shells were falling round about. They cast pitying glances upon me. I fancy they thought I had gone crazy with the strain. They will soon find that the strain which at present they feel so intensely disappears after they have lived an animal life for some time then finer instincts and feelings will be lost and they will have no realization of the danger which surrounds them. It is wonderful how nature provides for all sorts of contingencies. Still, we wish sometimes for a taste of civilization. It is now 10 months since I slept in a comfortable bed under a roof. Ever since I landed in Egypt my lodging has been on the cold ground. As for myself this sort of life is quite in my line. I enjoy being a savage but it is different with the men. Most of them have never left home in their lives and now they have been away for nearly 12 months. When they are relieved from the trenches, instead of getting rest and change they retire just behind the firing line, live in dirty holes plagued by flies, with endless fatigues – roadmaking, communication trench digging, etc. Of course, it cannot be helped, the circumstances make it inevitable but the boys become envious of their confreres in Flanders and France when the read of leave home ‘granted’, of recreation tents, canteens and accoutrements provided for men directly they are relieved from the trenches. It’s all in the day’s work to grumble and grouse in true soldierly fashion but we are willing and ready to see it through. I wish I could remember all the quaint things the Jocks say – those I can understand, for as a rule I am quite lost as to their meaning. When they first arrive, they speak very contemptuously of Achi Baba as ‘Yon wee hill’ and vow to take it in a few hours. A week later they have a wholesome respect for it. I remember one remark which has since become a byword on the Peninsula.

The old type of sniper who plagued us so when we first arrived has at last been cleared out. He wore green clothing, painted his hands and face the same colour and even went so far as to deck himself out in leaves and twigs. He was a terror. Having supplies of food and drink sufficient for several weeks and often 2,000 rounds of ammunition he would live in a deep hole near a thick tree or bush. So, he was left behind the firing line. He was a picked shot and I hear usually carried a rifle specially fitted for marksmanship. He did deadly work. Among the trophies found on him were often a dozen or more identity discs. I suppose if he escaped, he hoped to receive so much a head. He must also have wounded and killed many whom he could not reach, for instance when he picked off officers out with their company. One can write of them with pleasure now that their reign of terror is over but it allowed an element of excitement too intense to be pleasant when one was going about looking up different regiments. The place of the sniper’s bullet has been taken up by shrapnel, lyddite and ‘ovens’ from the Turks’ firing lines, which though I suppose account for more lives, are not half as trying to the nerves. The sniper’s work is now restricted almost entirely to the trenches and that leads me back to the remark of a Scotsman. Edging my way along the trenches, stepping over sleeping men and avoiding dixies, picks, shovels, rifles and other trench impedimenta, I was addressed by a Jock, who in an excited and awed tone, whispered ‘Keep yer head doon mon! Keep yer head doon! There’s a laddie just been hit in the foot here’. The other day I was touring the trenches looking for dead whom it was possible to fetch in and bury. They were the trenches in which I had often been before with our boys, but now the Scotch were there. I fancy the constant whistle of stray shots going over the parapet, they took for shots from a sniper’s rifle. Anyway, they swore the greater part of the trench was marked down by snipers and insisted that I should not only proceed with my chin under my knees but that I should do it at the double. My! I have never been so dead beat in my life and so thankful when I got to a trench empty of Scotch. It was a true ‘double’ in both senses of the word.

Heartiest congrats to the Woolley’s. Harold seemed a top-hole chap and I don’t fancy it will spoil him. I always feel this about V.C. that for every one received at least a hundred deserve it and some of them have died far more than the actual recipient. I am not referring to the case of Harold Woolley of course, but to the principle of V.C.s in general.

A few more needs: a pair of tinted glasses, an enema, some handkerchiefs and (if you know of any such) some concentrated form of a powder of lemonade or an acid drink – I believe these are now procurable, some tinder boxes which do not require methylated spirits but with wicks which just smolder. Thanks awfully for those two prayers which you prepared for the memorial service. I use them at nearly all my services with slight adaptation. I saw in a Copy of the Pelican (Perse School Mag) that Charlie Laidlaw1 has died of wounds in Flanders. In every family I know at all well, who have suffered loss it is the best (i.e., in my opinion) who have been the first to go under. Perhaps a case of ‘Whom the Gods love’, etc. I woke up in the middle of last night at midnight and was still in a dream. My dirty bug-infested dug out was transformed into a fairy cavern studded all over with bright green jewel-like lights. I had been visited by a tribe of glow worms. I found next morning that these insects, so beautiful by night, were the nasty slimy little fiends I had been trying to exterminate. A flock of crows are flying about cawing, dismally trying to find a resting place. From time to time, they get a shrapnel [burst] into their midst. Already they are growing perceptibly less. I wonder how many will be left by evening.

Heaps of love to you all

Rumour hath it that we may return shortly. Many things seem to point to a furlough – a refitting and then France but facts are apt to be distorted and deduction false where a strong desire be behind.

Yours affectionately
Ken

P.S.         Will you try to get a kind of tinted motor goggles to fit over ordinary specs?

Note: 1. Pte. 3375 Charles Glass Playfair Laidlaw. Died of Wounds April 3, 1915. Bethune Cemetery. Educated at The Perse School, Cambridge.

                                               

Headquarters
126th Brigade
July 16, 1915

My dear Family,

Behind the opening sentences of your last letter, I read a half-scribbled note. Herbert writes often and cheerily. The circumstances and condition of life are not favourable to letter writing. When sitting down during the day one requires not a single hand but half a dozen pairs to prevent the amorous fly from showing her affection and consequently it is really impossible to spare a hand for writing letters. The fly disappears with the last ray of light and then as a rule it happens that either the light would be visible to the enemy or that I cannot by any manner or means become possessed of a piece of candle and so the night likewise normally offers no opportunity. My chance has now come.

For the past few days, I have been feeling rotten and yesterday I sent to an M.O. who saw at once that I had got fever of some sort and sent me to the Forward Base Hospital, i.e., on the Peninsula. I have a stretcher for a bed, three blankets and greatest joy of all they provide pyjamas. A month or two in the same clothes is the limit.

I cannot get at your letters and so don’t know if there are any questions to be answered. The thing I remember I am not of course going to accept the Dean of Sydney’s offer offhand. In fact, the old precentor is still going strong and will probably hang in for a year yet. The 2 things which appealed to me were (1) the music, and (2) the charge of the choir school. Hornby says that his work as Chaplain has altered his outlook and plans for the future. I wonder whether he means a calling with men appeals to him. To most is a hideous nightmare. I know something of a soldier after living with them for a year. Old Cairo – the foulest spot on God’s Earth and then as I see these soldiers climbing over the parapet for a charge, I know that just only about 400 out of 1,000 will come back untouched. The life is glorious for its excitement but its ghastliness outweighs it. In peace time an Army Chaplain must be dull by reason of the absence of variety – dealing just with men of a type, almost standardized. No, all being well I shall just carry on at home.

The Scotch made a glorious charge from the trenches just on one night the other day. I was up in our firing line and by looking through a loophole could see the whole operation from very close quarters. It looked just like a field day except that here and there a man would fall. One saw very few actually fall and yet the line was very speedily thinned out. The most terrible sight was that of several wounded Scots hobbling back across the open. A vicious pull of dust just near and he no longer hobbles but crawls and a second vicious pull and he is still. A man stops on his way to carry a wounded comrade into the next trench. He gets him right up to the parapet when a shrapnel bursts and they are both down. It was extraordinary how in the charge man after man would stop to look at a dead [man] or speak to a wounded comrade. Never have I seen anything so thrilling – never again do I wish to see anything so tragic.

I feel very muddleheaded but my mind will clear as my temperature descends and I hope to be able to write several letters during the next day or two and so make amends while I get the chance.

In the trenches the smell is beyond words – dead bodies lie all around – occasionally hanging over the parapet themselves and it is there I spend the day. My dug out lies in the midst of buried bodies and it is there I spend the night. I must make a few alterations when I get about again.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Ken

                                               

Hospital Ship No. 1 The Soudan
(Only Temporary)
126th Brigade Headquarters
[19-20 July 1915]

My dear family,

It took me some time to discover that dead bodies as companions are not conducive to perfect health. I don’t suppose I ever should have found out – such deuce beasts we become in this barbaric life – had it not been impressed upon me by an attack of fever. Then my head clanging like a blooming ships engine room and aches and pains all over my body I saw quite clearly, (wonderful discovery!). I was a fool. At night I had slept among the bodies of the buried dead. In day I had lived among the bodies of unburied dead – lying between and in front of trenches – some indeed hanging over the parapet. There my batman was a lazy young beggar and got my water from the nearest and not the safest well. However, the world deals very quickly with and mercifully with fools. Directly I got onto the Soudan I began to pick up. I only feel jolly weak now – most of the pains and aches have bid their adieux. How glorious it is to be in a bed – what do headaches and pains in the tummy matter when the question of sleeping between sheets and having a hot bath. Yet in a few days the novelty will have worn off and I shall be longing to get back to Gallipoli. I still love the trenches but I hate now the wear of living in a dirty, smelly bug infested hole. I rather fear the boat is off to England so that we shall probably get shifted off to Alex or Mudros (Lemnos). I am having a right down good time – which will improve as I get nearer convalescence. The nurses and attendants are very considerate and businesslike and not a bit fussy. The boy who generally attends to me brought me my milk this morning. Informing me that it contained a little brandy, he proceeded forthwith to justify this usage of intoxicants for medicinal purposes. His first ground was Biblical, a little wine for the stomach’s sake. He got no further for I succeeded in breaking in and informing him that tho’ a parson, I was not a T.T. [Teetotaler] at which he seemed puzzled.

I am only writing this because I hear that a mail leaves this afternoon and Mother will get into a wondrous state of mind deciding what mortal sickness gripped me. It is just a light touch of the enteric. The inoculation has apparently proved quite effective in reducing its virulence. I don’t know what I shall have to write about during the next few days.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Ken

                                               

Letters from Egypt (1915)

No 15 General Hospital
Alexandria
(Temporary)
? July, 1915

My dear family,

I am having a really good holiday, no aches and pains, but lump and lazy, just the very mood for thoroughly enjoying a slack. The simple life is all very well when carried out with moderation but it can be overdone and then it loses most of its charm.

It has the advantage however that enable one to appreciate the value of civilization. I always used to despise civilization and reverence the savage. Perhaps it does make a nation soft but it is wonderfully pleasant. I go to bed now. I get into a clean pair of pyjamas, slip between the sheets, pull over the mosquito net and sleep. How different from crawling into a dirty hole half underground infested with centipedes 6 inches long, tarantula spiders, which can break a twig with its jaws, and creeping things innumerable in the same filthy clothes one has been wearing for 10 or 11 weeks. Then the meals. No longer the eternal Bully Beef and Tickler’s Jam and dog biscuits which one hurriedly crams down one’s throat so as to swallow as few flies as possible, but now glorious meals, drinks, smokes all free clear and plentiful. Instead of stumbling along filthy smelling trenches one lounges in an armchair reading paper and novels. And, greatest luxury of all, a hot bath followed by a cold shower very day. I feel very mean when I think of the poor chaps I have left behind and I do feel also that despite its joys that it is rather a dull unprofitable kind of existence. I long to get back and hear the screaming shrapnel and the whistling bullet. Funny isn’t it. Yet it is solemn truth not mere convention. Far more pleasant sounds are they than the howls of natives and the eternal tom toms as they keep the feast of Ramadan. It seems to be a fast rather than a feast. When the gun goes at Sundown you should see the little kiddies scamper off for grub. The day’s fast ends with the setting of the sun.

I had an argument with the Doctor here. That is to say I argued that I was fit to go back. He simply answered ‘I have put you down for Cyprus. You must have a rest before going back. It is no use you talking, what I have written I have written!’ So, I suppose I shall sail for Cyprus shortly. I am hardly in a position to criticize now that I have crocked, but at all events I had 11 weeks of lead, smells and discomfort so I ask ‘Why are they now, after the worst is over, sending such crowds of Chaplains so that Alexandria is full of them and officers are asking if Chaplains are paid to sit in the club reading papers all day long’. And why do they send men who are absolutely unprepared for considerable risk and unfit for roughing it? In this hospital alone where I have only been a few days, two Chaplains living in comfort in Alexandria have come in as patients. Several have just set foot in the Dardanelles and gone straight home. If this be anything to go by, and it is because I heard the same from one who has the organizing of our department, then surely there ought to be some sort of selection and medical examination? Egypt is one of the worst places imaginable for the wounded – the air seems to be full of germs. Countless are the cases of men with slight wounds who progressed well for a time and then their wound turned septic and they lost their lives or a limb. Neither is it ideal for the sick. However, we cannot change the climate and can only hope that the whistle will blow for “full time” and the dirty game will stop.

You might address letters to me as follows for a while:

Rev J.K. Best, C.F.
126th Brigade M.E.F.
Officer’s Convalescent Camp
Cyprus

Then if they arrive after I have gone back, they will probably find me. Good bye for the present. I am enclosing a letter for Robin Hayes for two reasons (1) it may contain some news, I forget what is in it, (2) I don’t know his address. Read it if you like and then send it on.

Yours affectionately
Ken

                                               

[Below is an extract from the letter to Robin Hayes that describes Best’s passage from Field Ambulance to Hospital Ship. Soudan Much of the remainder of the letter is the rambling product of Best’s feverish mind.]

I have fevered visions of being carried clad in pyjamas and blanket up a cliff, pushed into a wooden wagon, my nose screaming uncomfortably close to the top. A little jolting, taken out and left in clearing station an hour or two. A few people asked me what was the matter. As it was written I did not aid their laziness. I secured to hear a few shells fall near but could not be bothered to find out what thing they were doing. Another jolt in van and then two dirty darkies, I fancy they were Greek, took charge of me. They left me on an erection of wood called by courtesy a pier, while workmen poured over me libations of coal, flour, mixed dried vegetables as they carried them past. Then when all had made their offerings, I was lowered with regal dignity into a lighter – a very dirty smelly one, but it didn’t leak. I was soon covered with sick and wounded but when the tug got us out to a little steamer and they had sorted us out and disembarked everybody else I found I was still there and so was my headache. I slumbered fitfully and feverishly on steamer for 3 hours or so then woke up to find myself in mid-air. A crane on the Soudan had lifted me up and was swinging me round. I was very near bliss. In one minute I was between lovely white sheets – all was peace and quiet except my head which would bump.

And yet after a day or two when I began to improve, I began to loathe the peace and quiet. I listen for the roar of naval gun. The shell from the howitzer singing overhead. The mighty crackle of the rifles and machine guns.  Distinguishing the slow dull rattle of Turks from quick metallic rattle of our own, and deducing the proportion of Turk rifle shots to our own by the stray whistling over our heads and so concluding what is happening. It is all very fascinating and now it is gone. I long to be in the thick of it again.

                                               

Letters from Cyprus

Officer’s Convalescent Camp
Troodos
Cyprus
August 7, 1915

My dear family,

I cannot quite remember when or from where I last wrote to you. I fancy the letter was written mainly on the Hospital Ship Soudan and finished and posted from No 15 General Hospital, Alexandria. I am now in Cyprus and as the mail only leaves once a week this is the first chance of sending a letter.

We left the hospital at 9am Saturday morning and got on board at 10am. Then we waited (my inkpot has disappeared) ‘til the Cairo contingent of sick and wounded arrived at 3pm, soon after which we steamed off. It was glorious to get a breath of fresh air after the heat and musty odours of Alexandria, yet even at sea it could hardly be called cool. It was so hot in the cabin the first night that I had my bedding put on top deck the next night. We read a little and slept a lot. On Sunday we had an evening service. Most of the men and officers were present. I talked to them of a picture I had seen advertised in several papers. ‘The Great Sacrifice’ it was called. Most of us had seen it again and again in real life and its message went home that wars will never cease so long as selfishness is one of the strongest powers in the world. Only self-sacrifice in everyday life will make wars cease. At 6am Monday morning we had a celebration of the Holy Communion. My rest on Sunday night was rather broken. The deck was much cooler that the cabin but unfortunately it was swarming with rats. They scampered along the rails, up and down rigging over deck and bed. It was fortunate however for it enabled me to see the sun rise over the hills of Cyprus and the fever mists, which hung in the valleys like rolling drifts of snow, melt away. Cyprus looked rather barren and uninviting in the grey light of dawn and even when the light grew stronger and revealed a little vegetation it seemed almost as dry and thirsty as Egypt.

The first party left the boat about 9am. They disembarked 3 officers and party of men at a time so that it took them four days to clear the ship and fill it with men going back. I went on the Monday afternoon so that I was able to have a swim before leaving the ship. That shows I am a bit of a p and posing as an invalid. We had rather a rough passage getting ashore in the little boats but no one got further than looking a bit queer. We waited at the Customs House for 2 hours. Customs House sounds fine. It was a dirty little cottage thro’ which hens sauntered. It possessed 2 cane bottomed chairs with the bottoms and nothing much else. Troodos is about 36 miles from the landing place and a jolly stiff 36 miles for it rises from sea level to 6,000 feet. It was the most glorious ride I have ever been on. Perhaps coming almost straight from the smell and hardships of Gallipoli intensified my enjoyment but the pleasure became so great as to be almost painful. While we were waiting, I tried to take photos of some of the natives. They looked as if they had stepped straight out of ‘Le Roi des Montagues’ which we read at school – regular brigands in appearance. They were not particularly pleasant. One sultry old fellow when I tried to snap him shook his fist and marched off with the most coarse attempt to look dignified.

The beginning of the ride was not very promising. The land appeared dry and parched – the vegetation seemed to be struggling for its very existence. Up above the mountains looked bleak and almost barren. Also, the motor was running badly and stopped before we had got far, on a very gentle gradient. The driver seemed to think the only thing to be done was to send a message by the car which was still behind us for another car to come and fetch us. That meant a wait of at least 8 hours. Fortunately, after letting the engine cool a bit, we struggled on to a village and there gave it a drink. This seemed to make a world of difference and she did the rest of the journey in good style. The driver was a bit nervous however and so took the corners at a tremendous lick – corners of this shape [sketch of a hairpin bend] with a precipice on the outside and a sheer cliff on the inside. It made me feel more queer inside than high explosives did. I thought I had come through it all only to be hurled down the cliffside.

As we ascended, the country became prettier each mile and the people more friendly. They had been mainly Turks down below and we were now getting among the Greeks. The valleys were green with crops, pasture and trees among which the little red shanties nestled. One might have been in Switzerland had it not been for an occasional more pretentious building such as the village inn which was Egyptian in style. When we had gone about 20 miles the sun began to sink. We were just leaving the last cottages. You can imagine what a glorious sight it was. Even the Tommies stopped smoking and talking and simply gaped spellbound. And then would come as a relief a little comic episode. First it was an old man riding gravely along on his mule. We came upon him rather suddenly round a corner and hooted. He gave the mule a sound whack to get it out of the way but it did not have the required effect. The shock of the stick and the noise made by the motor horn were too much for the Donkey’s nerves. Its hind legs collapsed and its rider unceremoniously deposited on the ground. We pulled up while the pair sorted themselves out and went their way. Another time it was a man, woman or child in a frenzy of anxiety trying to keep half a dozen mules, goats or pigs well into the side of the road. The last part of the journey was almost the best. As we left villages and people behind, we got into glorious pine woods with bracken and berry trees beneath. The sun had set and the wonderful eastern sky twinkled through the pine trees. I wish I could describe it. I think it was beyond description. When we were about 8 miles from the Camp, which is at the top of Troodos we stopped. Refreshments were brought down to the men and I went up and had a drink, some cakes and a smoke with two most hospitable people. I think they were Swedish. Then little kiddies who were absolutely sweet had been allowed to stay up to see the soldiers. The ride ended at 9pm. The officers were serving a dinner to the civilians so that we started off very well. We take things very easily here – sleep, eat and stroll about. Go for rides on ponies or mules. Once I tried to play tennis but I am not quite up to it yet. When I was in Ismailia a certain Mr. Lewis was church warden at the little mission room in which we held services on Sunday evenings. To our mutual surprise we met again here at Troodos. The world is very small. We are expecting every day to hear that Achi Baba has fallen. I am afraid I shall not be there. How I should love to see that beastly hill fall.

I struggled up Mount Olympus the other day. The summit is only about 2 miles from our Camp. The view was magnificent.

There are lots of interesting antiquities on Cyprus but unfortunately we are not allowed out for the night and hardly any can be reached in a day. I bought a daylight developing outfit in Alex. I tried it last night for the first time and was fairly successful. I must try to get a few prints to send along by the next mail. How is Herbert doing? I hope it won’t be long before we have a reunion at Sandon Rectory.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Kenneth

P.S. Don’t send any letters or any more letters to this address as I shall probably have gone before they arrive.

                                               

Letters from Gallipoli (Aug-Sept 1915)

[Written on Windsor Hotel, Alexandria writing paper]

Gallipoli
August 30, 1915

My dear family,

The last letter I last wrote was from Alexandria on the eve of my second trip to Gallipoli. I had gone onboard at 10am in accordance with my orders but discovering that there was not one chance n a thousand of sailing before evening I strolled back to the hotel. Waggle Andrews had in the meantime made the acquaintance of a lady who turned out to be an aunt of Jimmy Cleworth and incidentally mother of an officer in my brigade. I was therefore hauled over to their hotel, ‘The Majestic’, for lunch. With another long spell of bully beef and biscuits in prospect, made the most of it.

We set sail that night – I should have said steamed off. We had onboard wounded and sick who were returning fit, (more or less), most of the survivors of the Royal Edward and a few new drafts. Their feelings varied considerably. The old stagers were passive. They knew what they were returning to. There was no shouting, singing and jollification but just a trace of grim satisfaction in that they were going to the help of their old pals. They lay about resting and sleeping, wishing neither to chat nor even to read, just laying in a state of sleep against the time when they would get very little of it. The survivors of the Royal Edward’s chief desire was to get clear of the sea where they had had the unpleasant experience of being torpedoed. The fresh drafts, full of excitement, wishing to see the peninsula and see what was going on.

From the moment of leaving Alex harbour there were constant life belt parades in which we were detailed off to our various boats and instructed what to do in case we were sunk. My boat was right astern and my cabin forward. So, I decided at once I would not attempt to push my way through the men who would be swarming in the opposite direction and gain the boat but get clear of the ship as soon as possible. However, happily nothing of the sort was necessary. On Sunday I had a celebration at 6:30am, very well attended. The Wesleyan padre wished to assist but I explained shortly our position and principles and he took his place among the congregation. We divided the morning parades. He took half on port promenade deck and I the other half on starboard. In the afternoon we got into Lemnos harbour – one of the finest natural harbors in the world. It was full of gunboats, hospital ships, transports, mine sweepers and other smaller craft. It was a wonderful sight. I took some photos but fear they will be a failure as the camera stuck and did not come out far enough to focus the image on the film. The evening service was an informal one in which a YMCA worker, the Wesleyan and myself took part. I talked to the YMCA man, who was taking a lot of literature, writing paper and food stuff to the Base on Lemnos, about doing something for the men in the fighting area. They do much for the man who has opportunity of buying books and writing material etc. but send nothing out to the men who really need it. He promised to send me papers and some books but I am not counting much on it.

They kept us at Lemnos until Wednesday night. Why! Goodness knows. We cannot afford to keep the fit doing nothing. During these two days I had a nasty swollen gland which forced me to fast rigorously.

From the transport we were put onto a smaller boat, the Ermine. A beautiful little ship built last August which plies in peace time between Ireland and W. of Scotland. By the way, the transport which took us as far as Lemnos was called the Huntsgreen. I found on embarking that it was the old Derfflinger1 which took us out for the first time early in May. The origin of its new name is this. The German prize boats are renamed; the names begin with ‘Hun’. The man who saw the boat was ‘Green’. Hence Hun-ts-green.

It was very funny to hold a church parade in lifebelts. The Ermine landed us on the Lancashire Landing pier. The pier is formed by a series of ships sunk end-to-end. We arrived at 10pm and disembarked 5am next morning. The senior chaplain was away, so I took possession of his home and made myself breakfast. Then I proceeded to look for my Brigade. Discovered them on Gully Beach nullah. Gully Beach is about 3 miles from Lancs Landing on the West shore. There I found a church tent just vacated by a chaplain who had gone off sick. I have installed myself there. It is much more comfy than a dug out and comparatively safe being situated at the bottom of a deep ravine. The only drawback is a weary long tramp to and from trenches each day. By the way, anyone who has been in the trenches will tell that with proper precautions it is the safest place on the Peninsula. You may be sure in that if the Turks came over, I should not stop to shake hands with them. So, you need not have the slightest anxiety.

The Brigade Headquarters unfortunately forwarded my letters while I was in hospital, and touring the Mediterranean at the Government’s expense. Consequently, I have received no letter or parcels for six weeks except the tin containing specs, etc. all of which arrived intact. Thanks very much indeed. If you are sending again, you might fit in a cardigan jacket as I fancy we may Winter in this ill health resort.

What a nuisance this red tape business is. It is harder to get through official red tape than through the thickest and spikiest of wire entanglements. I have had Herbert’s experience over documents. The date is not in the right place. Sender’s name is at top instead of bottom. Officers rank and unit is inserted when it should not be there or absent when it should be inserted. The ink is the wrong colour or pencil should be used and so on. I hope he will stick at it ‘til he succeeds.

The Yeomanry of our Division have been in action as foot sloggers and have been mauled pretty badly I gather. Colonel Sheppherd2 (I don’t know how it is spelt) is reported killed. I never went to see them after all, but I fancy it is Major S3., his brother, who comes from Baddow. If so, he is still safe in Cairo.

I enclose a few photos. I have not sent any heretofore as I never thought they had a dog’s chance of getting through. I will try to send two little songs which the Māoris sing out here. We hear all sorts of rumours. One that 4 German Army Corps are coming down to wipe us off the earth. Two that French are trying to take over all this side of Achi Baba. Three that Italians will shortly land troops. Four that Greece and Bulgaria have joined the fray. Five, and this is a chronic rumour, that we are going to rest and reform (in the military sense).

Best of love to all
Your affectionately
Kenneth

Notes:

  1. The German Merchant ship SS Derfflinger was captured by the British at Port Said in 1914, and used as a troopship, and renamed HMT Huntsgreen.
  2. Temp Lt.-Col. Samuel Gurney Sheppard, D.S.O. was killed in Action August 21, 1915 in Gallipoli.
  3. Major Edward Byas Sheppard indeed lived in Great Baddow, Chelmsford Essex. He survived the war.
HMT Huntsgreen (formerly the German Ship SS Derfflinger)
Credit: 'Ahoy - Mac's Web Log'. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

                                               

[Written on Windsor Hotel, Alexandria writing paper]

126th Brigade
[Gallipoli]
Monday September 6, 1915

My dear family,

The above address in print is of course out of date. In only one small item does it still hold good: ‘Facing the Sea’. There is little or no tide in the Mediterranean and consequently no yellow sands. Between me and the sea lies a road only, at least a foot deep in fine white dust. This is the only drawback to my present habitation and it is a considerable one for the autumn winds are rising and there is a ceaseless stream of traffic. Somehow or other a stray stretcher has wandered into my tent. I shall utilize it for a bed. Out of boxes, my new orderly – another little drummer boy, (better than the last because [he has been] well licked into shape by a tyrannous Sergt. Major), has made a table and a stool. It is a great improvement on a dug out. I hope the Brigade does not move and cause me to revert to my former discomfort.

I already made a request for a woolly or a cardigan jacket against approaching winter. It is quite conceivable, though a good many fancy we shall be relieved, that we shall take part in a winter campaign. We should not be heartbroken if we missed it. We are well prepared for gassing. Shell cases are fixed up all over the Peninsula as gongs to warn us in time. We also have an improvised protection, a sort of diver’s helmet. One man was away when the new issue was given out and so he had only the old respirator to cover mouth and nose. Yesterday at a parade, the order was given to fix respirators. One man gazed at his little pad in complete bewilderment and then glanced wildly at those round about him but could gain no tip from them. He alone had the stupid looking little pad. Eventually, in desperation, he placed the pad on the top of his head and tied the strings beneath his chin as if he was putting on a bonnet. The resultant was worthy of an illustration in Punch.

I have just received a regular budget of letters which have toured round Alex and Cyprus after me. Their dates are June 29, July 7, 17, 18, 22, 27, 28, 29 and Aug 5. Also, both parcels arrived safely. Miss Heyes, Mrs. Tucker have also written. The letter which Elsie sent off with photos of Margaret has not arrived. Is she, I wonder, of much military importance in the defence of her country that the censor refused to pass her photo?

I am rather confused as to the Sheppards. There are apparently several of them, for I hear one Colonel S. was killed near Suvla, another has gone home, and yet another is still in Cairo looking after the horses. The senior chaplain tells us that one Padre is up at Suvla and has been making enquiries for me. Unfortunately, Achi Baba and a lot of unpleasant Turks lie in between us so I cannot go and learn the latest about Sandon.

I wonder if Eric Preston1 was with the Cheshires, (in the 13th Division). If so, he was quite near us for a few weeks but has now gone North like the rest. We are having a very quiet time. In fact, we are almost expecting some enterprising firm to run tourist trips to the front. A shell has not dropped within a hundred yards of me since my return – except once, last Sunday night. We feed boldly in the open mow with a lamp on the table. We were eating away solidly on steak and onions when suddenly with a scream and a crackle several shrapnel burst over us and bullets came spattering around. We soon doused the light and decided we would forgo the second course (which is always rice). The Turks followed this up by a dose of high explosive. We had a very interesting evening squeezed into a dug out smoking and watching the shells. It was pitch dark so that we could see the fiery course of shells which passed overhead and the blaze as they exploded. Fortunately, the H.E.s did not come so close as the shrapnel or our little home might have been wrecked. It is curious what phases of feeling one passes through. Shot and shell at first inspired us with intense awe and respect. Later they proved amusing, adding a little pleasant variety to the rather dull routine of watching, marching and digging – always of course providing they missed their mark. Now we regard them as annoying and irritative. We are getting stale. The men are so worn out that they fall asleep as they fire. Last Sunday we had a communion service within 50 yards of the Turks. It sounds a rather silly, theatrical thing to do but it was the only way of giving men the chance of attending. They showed they appreciated the chance – only 20% could be spared without weakening the firing line overmuch and that 20% came, to a man. – and was in reality safe and quiet, except for one Turkish sniper who would persist in putting bullets into a sand bag quite close to us. There was barbed wire and a good solid wall of sandbags to protect us and the Turks are not keen on attacking during the day.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Ken

Note: 1. The 8th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment landed in Gallipoli as part of the 40th Brigade in the 13th (Western) Division in June 1915. Best’s reference is possibly Eric Collingwood Preston, born in Chester in 1890, but he did not serve with the Cheshire Regiment and so was not at Gallipoli

                                               

Headquarters
126th Brigade
[Gallipoli]
[No Date]

My dear family,

I have found some ink powder and a pen and so am discarding the indelible pencil for the first time on the peninsula. First of all, would you instruct W.H. Smith always to direct papers to the above address and not to send them to temporary addresses. I find the former is invariably the best method wherever I may happen to be.

I have just sent a few photos by a Sergeant to be developed in Alexandria. So, in the course of a few weeks, I may, if they are successful, be able to send you some prints. The Sergeant has gone to collect the kit left behind at the Base Stores in Alex which looks like Xmas in Gallipoli. Also, schemes for heating Winter quarters are being discussed though be it noticed no plans for Winter quarters themselves are out and the indents for necessary building material have been returned. We decide what sauce we will have but forget to order the meat. What a way we have in the Army. Nothing of interest has occurred hereabouts except a heavy shower of rain last night. Fortunately, it was not accompanied by wind. My tent therefore stood firm and I remained dry and cozy. I should not have said ‘firm’ perhaps because half of the pegs came out and the tent had a decidedly ‘half seas over’ appearance in the morning. One forgets the elementary rule of slacken your ropes at night in these hot parts. A shower of rain sounds a most unimportant matter no doubt to those who live in brick houses but to us it is the harbinger of Winter and consequently a matter of grave concern. I fear we shall not see England’s cloudy skies and muddy leaves yet awhile. There is a feeling floating around that shortly a supreme and final effort will be made to solve this thorny little problem and avoid a Winter campaign. It may be, but another instance of the wish being father to the thought. If you want news from Gallipoli, please apply to someone you know out of the division recently arrived. We appear to have been relegated to a backwater and we are not sorry. A destroyer comes up each day and lies near in to pump shell into the Turks. She is a regular little spitfire. Occasionally the Turks reply and then I don’t go bathing for the shells drop far and wide, some very near the beach. Now and again a battleship rolls up but she does not hang about long – a target for German submarines. The French batteries are interesting. Their ammunition is inexhaustible. Night and day they pester the life out of the Turks. There is very little rifle fire during the day. When it goes dark there is generally a little rattle of musketry. Some sentry fancies he sees something suspicious. A few shots are fired in that direction and then the firing spreads like an epidemic along a few miles of the firing line until some flares are sent up or the ‘Evil Eye’, (Turkish search light), of Chunuk swings round and it is seen that nothing is moving, there is no attack and the firing dies down. Otherwise, all is quiet. The enemies just look at each other’s parapets through periscopes and amuse themselves by having pot shots at each other’s loopholes and then signalling washouts, (i.e., misses), when the bullet hits with a thud into the sandbag, kicks up a puff of dust, off parapet, or even as occasionally happens hits a poor chap who happens to be looking or firing through at the moment. I fear our target markers are not absolutely reliable, or the Turks’ either for that matter. We put sticks up at times, or let the top of an old helmet appear above the parapet. It gets drilled through in no time. Men out trench digging now and then get hit by a ricochet off their spade or pick. As it appears above the trench, the Turk gets on to it and then after it has appeared several times lets drive. They are remarkable shots. I used a periscope rifle the other day but the Tommies announced I had not even hit the Turks parapet, only 30 or 40 yards off, so I gave up. The idea of it of course you will know. To fire over the parapet is certain death, to fire is risky and means firing obliquely at a part of Turk’s trench rather distant, for a hole square to enemy’s trench would have bullets humming through it continuously. The periscope rifle is therefore used. The theory is shown in this rough diagram – the framework which enables one to sight the rifle and hold it more or less firm and steady is given in the second diagram.

JK Best's Sketch of a Periscope Rifle
Copyright Imperial War Museum

Ray of light from object to eye is shown by dotted line. Trigger pulled by wire.

I received a lot of cousinly attention this week with letters from Joyce & John and from Winnie, magazines from Hester. I received this morning a letter from Elsie dated 30.6.15 and yesterday one from her containing a photo of herself and Peggy dated 21-8-15. The first of course had done the tour of the hospitals. What a cheery little brat Peggy looks. If things don’t look up here a bit, I shall not see her ‘till she be “growed up”. Herbert also writes 7/7/15. Very cheery and amusing. He seems to be providing for the future. I advised the ‘special dispensation’ degree. The mental training at Cambridge plus the knowledge of human nature acquired in Flanders should be qualification enough with cramming up a lot of technical knowledge of no practical use. But of course, the Boards who appoint may have different views and therefore he would do best to consult his coach (was it Oliver?) and some appointment agency, who know better what is required. For I must admit, I do not quite know what a “quasi military colonial appointment” is. Would not Herbert’s degree rate as an honours degree? Or would it be ordinary. At all events, as he says, there will be a bit of a scramble for all such appointments whatever they are and he who marks time will lose the plums and get only the crumbs which fall.

By the way, it would be as well for you to know that I have some money, probably about £150 in the Anglo Egyptian Bank. I have sent for pass book and then will give you the exact sum, or perhaps better, have the amount transferred to Lytham for the present. Also, C.R. McGregor Bank & Co. should have been collecting my pay and allowances in from May 1st at a rate of 17s/1d per day in summer months and 17s/9d in winter. I believe my April pay in Egypt may put into McGregor and not to Anglo Egypt. That works out at about £32 I fancy and is not included in the £150 at Anglo Egypt, but would be paid in probably sometime in May and probably to McGregor. You will of course, well, if necessary, take charge of it all and do with it as you see fit. W. A. Leigh at Lytham will always tell you how my account stands there. There is not much in it I fancy but he and others have personal belongings of mine. Also, chaplain Philpotts, the Wesleyan Padre, has charge of a big wooden box and dress suit case of mine. His address is the Polygon, Abbassia Barracks, Cairo. I don’t know his initials but being a regular chaplain, he is easily found. At the Base, Moustapha Barracks, Alexandria, in the charge of Major Whishaw 42nd Division, there is a kit bag, a set of saddlery and probably very soon a leather writing case, a valise and a luncheon basket which I am ordering from the Gyppy Stores. The kit bag contains various oddments of no special value as far as I can remember. I quite forgot in the hurry, to tell you all this before when it really might very well have been needed. Also, Cannon Chapman has my watch and chain.

I get a dip in the Aegean Sea each morning and am doing very well as regards feeding, especially on Sunday when the Divisional G.O.C. came to my service and took me back to lunch.

Heaps of love to all and thanks for the numerous letters
Yours affectionately
Ken

                                               

Hospital Ship No 10
Gascon
Off Mudros, Lemnos
September 25, 1915

My dear father,

I never felt so fit in my life as I do at the present moment. I cannot understand it. I am still in the grip of dysentery but thanks to the excellent work of ipececuana [ipecacuanha] pills (I don’t know the correct spelling) and emetine injections, my interior is quite comfy. Emetine is the active principle of ipec… (that beastly word again). I had four pills, two injections and several draughts of bismuth, etc. I put etc. because I don’t know what the other ingredients are. I don’t by any means feel a suitable candidate for a month or two’s leave but we will see what we will see. It is a fraud[ulent] thing to be an invalid and not to feel an invalid. I wish I could remember the contents of your letters and the questions, if any asked. As regards Billy Morgan, he is as you say a cheery individual but when you have said that you have said all. He lacks polish, finish and, (however you may express it), that elusive quality which characterizes the good old English Gentleman. I had no time to look up Kenneth Preston. Perhaps next time. We are to be pitchforked onto the Orsonia [Ausonia] (so the name sounds to me) sometime today. She is a Cunard-er fitted up for Hospital work. The Gascon goes back to Gallipoli. There is, you would judge from the movement of the Hospital Ships, a “stunt” (Colonial for engagement, movement, operations) on soon. I have been desperately unlucky lately missing all the issues of work.

There is a delightful and fascinating uncertainty about this active service mode of existence. It relieves one of quite a load of conscious thought. You cannot take thought for the morrow because not knowing where you are likely to be, or doing, you cannot lay plans for the future. I shall cut down my forethought to a minimum if I get through this thing; it saves so much mental energy. The Col. Indian Medical Service has just been in. He booked me down for the Ausonia. 300 are to go on to the Ausonia. The rest onshore. The Ausonia is bound for home. Hearing this, my inside and general feeling of fitness forced me to tell him I hardly felt the right man to be invalided home.  Therefore, I don’t know what will happen. I gather now that I am for home but whether that means just a sea voyage there and back with perhaps a few days in Hospital or Convalescent ward or whether it really means what it says, ‘home’ I cannot say.  Nous venons Tout à l’heure [We are coming soon]. I don’t suppose there will be a chance of letting you know where or when we are due to arrive. Nor if I do arrive, how I shall get to Chelmsford. I should get run in as a vagrant with my boots worn, my clothes filthy, and a dirty old jacket belonging to a Tommy which does not fit me. I should have to sneak in, in the dark. But I suppose I shall have to report first thing at the Chaplain General’s. Perhaps if I were, you could meet me in London and show me the way and take me home. This is all assuming I do get home. Why not enjoy even fancies when one can.

Your affectionate son
Ken

                                               

HMT Ausonia
September 27, 1915

My dear family,

Homeward bound at last. We are I gather due in at Plymouth about Thursday Oct 7. We shall then, all being well, be transferred (I shall transfer myself as I now despise a stretcher) to a hospital train, borne off to a London Hospital, be interviewed and probably sent on to the hospital nearest home and then allowed to find our respective way home. This is assuming we are found to need no more treatment. Lest we should completely disappear we have to report at hospital once a week. This much I gathered from a sister on the ship. How I am to combine this with instructions received from Senior Chaplain, I know not. Those instructions say all sick and wounded chaplains to report to S.C.F. [Senior Chaplain to the Forces] immediately on disembarkation and will wire directly I find out when I can be met.

I am writing this before breakfast as I woke up too soon forgetting that the ship’s clock moves back ½ hour at midnight. Some time during the morning we should reach Malta and I will post this in the hope that some mail packet [mail ship] will pick it up and overtake us. We are coming back on a transport (all hospital ships being required at Gallipoli for the ‘final stunt’. I wonder what we shall hear of it when we reach Plymouth) and therefore have to run the gauntlet of submarines. I think we are more or less out of the danger zone now.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectly
Kenneth

                                               

The Latest Edit

HMT Ausonia
September 28, 1915
Malta, 2pm

My dear family,

The former order seems to be cancelled, at all events temporarily. I am going in a hospital at Malta. Sorry to have raised false hopes but I thought I was quite safe to write as I had been definitely told by the SMO [Senior Medical Officer] I was for home. However, I shall now see another little bit of the world. It looks a rather jolly place from the sea.

Will write again when I hear what is really going to happen to me. The future is all dark and mysterious on active service but I will send you plans when they come.

Yours affectionately
Ken

                                               

Letters from Malta (1915)

126th Brigade MEF
Cottonera Hospital
Malta
October 6, 1915

My dear family,

The last two days have been comparatively interesting. We were allowed out for an hour or two in the afternoon and so a Major of the RE and I drove round Valetta in a carrozze [carriage]. We saw the Chappel of Bones, St John’s Co-Cathedral and the armoury at the Governor’s Palace. Perhaps we were not in an appreciative mood. I was disappointed. This was more than counterbalanced by the sight of Waggle Andrews with a grin of welcome worthy of the Cheshire cat. It seems the Bishop of London is trying to get him a commission as Chaplain and in the meantime, he is supposed to be looking after the Australian portion of the Recreation Camp at Lemnos. I presume to troops taking part in the winter campaign [who] will in turn have a rest there. Unfortunately, the Hospital Ship steamed away without leaving Waggle the chance of going ashore; she just stayed in the harbour an hour or two and no little boat came near. Therefore, Waggle, not very disappointed I fancy, went on to Malta with the ship. So, I met him.

The previous days were not bristling with incident. We lay in bed, slept and read in a dreamy kind of way. Occasionally we would have a look out of the window and catch glimpses of Floriana and Valetta between the leafy branches of a plane tree. We were visited by three people. The Chaplain. He came with design to get me to take his service in the hospital. I refused for last Sunday as I had not done myself any good taking 2 services on the Ausonia the Sunday previous but I promised to be responsible for next Sunday if I was here. He was an average innocuous curate with a clerical voice and manner and hailed from Birmingham. Next came the Surgeon General who expressed sincere hope of our speedy recovery. Lastly came the Governor of Malta, Lord Methuen. He chatted a bit about Gallipoli and then discovering I hailed from Lytham he became reminiscent. It seems he was at a private school with Harry Clifton, father of the present squire. Lord Charles Beresford was also one of their members. Lord M. said that he and Charles B. were the fools of the school.

October 8, 1915

Latterly I have been loafing about in carrozzis. I had intended to take a few photos but unfortunately the first photo I took happened to include a Maltese policeman in the group. In broken English he invited me to accompany him to Valetta Police Station. There they very politely informed me that to take photos without special permission from the Governor was a serious offence. With many and humble apologies they possessed themselves of my camera and films. I have given them my home address so that when they have duly satisfied themselves, they may send the camera back. Yesterday evening we had a delightful concert. The VAD (Volunteer Aid Detachment?) who looks after our ward sang very beautifully indeed. The daughter of an Admiral Lympus played ‘Hejre Kati’ of Jeno Hubay and Schumann’s Reverie with excellent execution and a considerable amount of taste for an amateur. The concert itself was kept going by a private in the London Territorial RAMC1 here who at home is a member of the Follies. He took part in two duets quartettes and played most of the accompaniments in addition to singing numerous humorous songs. It was a top-hole concert. I don’t know where I shall go to convalesce. The ‘board’ sat upon me yesterday but are very secretive. I will ask them today then I will scribble another line to you telling you what address to send letters, etc. Don’t destroy any of your own letters to me which return to you. As regards parcels, I hardly know which will be redirected to Sandon. I was expecting Field Glasses and some music. These you might send on if you can make pretty sure of their arriving safely or can register the glasses for about £10. Possibly parcels may arrive from Egypt – from a Mrs. Bancroft, Rev. Philpott and from Moustapha Barracks. The parcels from the first two you might briefly acknowledge and explain that I am still being shipped about from place to place but that you will forward to me. The luggage sent by Mr. Philpott will probably come through Thos. Cooks & Son or Cox & Co. Then when I can find out my destination, I will cable to you the address and then they will reach me before I leave again. I shall, I hear, have a month’s convalescence somewhere.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Kenneth

Note: 1. Probably 170 / 508156 Pte. Peter Dauvergne Roland Upcher, RAMC, 1st London Field Ambulance, a stage singer and actor who became a minor film star in the early 1920s.

Cottonera Hospital, Malta
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0
« of 2 »

                                               

LATEST EDITION

Cottonera Hospital
Malta
October 9, 1915

My dear family,

For two or three days I have been doing the most energetic things. Walking through catacombs, tobogganing down flights of stone stairs (unintentional. Many of the streets in Valetta are merely long flights of stone steps), appearing in the Police Court and on top of it all come the verdict of the Medical Board ‘Invalided Home’. Rather humerous! I could have gone to Florence to convalesce but I have had about enough of sight seeing for the present and prefer to take ‘home’ into my next tour. Florence can be left over for a Cooks Tour. Now for a warning. Don’t expect me ‘til you see me. This caution is perhaps hardly necessary as already you have seen one slip ‘twixt cup and lip. It may be some time before a berth can be found for me on a homeward bound ship. The programme in England will probably be as described already in a previous letter. That is to say our first resting place will almost certainly be a hospital in London. I cannot wire before-hand which, because we never know ‘til we get there. What happens is this: We get out of hospital train, are dumped into a motor ambulance and driven from hospital to hospital ‘til beds can be found for us. This is my experience. Possibly London may be full. In that case I have no idea where we go.

However, in any case, I will wire as soon as I find out definitely of any place where I could meet you. The above information is to the best of my belief reliable.

Heaps of love to all
Yours affectionately
Ken

 

Postscript:

The Reverend J. K. Best continued his war service in France and was awarded the Military Cross in the King’s New Years Honors on January 1, 1918. The image below is on the day of his award presentation.

Rev. J.K. Best, Rev & Mrs. J.D. Best at Buckingham Palace
Copyright Imperial War Museum

References:

A Prayer for Gallipoli: The Great War Diaries of Chaplain Kenneth Best, Edited by Gavin Roynon. Simon & Schuster 2011. ISBN: 978-1-85720-225-3

Acknowledgements:

These letters have been transcribed from originals held at the Imperial War Museum. Their transcription is provided here under Non Commercial Use License and remain the copyright of the IWM.

The original papers are catalogued here at the IWM.

42nd Division ADMS War Diary, Gallipoli

42nd (East Lancashire) Division: Assistant Dir of Medical Services (1915 Jun – 1916 Jan)

WO 95/4263-4359

Lieut-Colonel T. P. Jones, M.B. RAMC

 

June 29, 1915 (11am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Assumed duties of ADMS 42nd E. Lancs Division vice Colonel J. BENTLY MANN placed on sick list. The Field Ambulances under my command are:

1/1st East Lancashire Field Ambulance
1/2nd East Lancashire Field Ambulance
1/3rd East Lancashire Field Ambulance

June 30, 1915 (10am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Inspected Advanced Dressing Stations 1/1 Fld Ambulance, also the Regimental Aid Posts and trenches on KANLI DERE.

Ordered the site of the Adv. Dressing Station, at point 5.t.4 known as CLAPHAM JUNCTION, to be changed to a spot 50 yards further forward as present site obviously unsafe and casualties were occurring daily. Recommended to GOC alteration in scheme for latrines in trenches. Orders on the subject issued by GOC to Brigadiers.

July 1, 1915 (10am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Inspected bivouac of 1/9th MANCHESTER REGT. Inspected Advanced Dressing Station of 1/3 Fld. Ambulance on MAL TEPE DERE at point 5.t.9.

July 2, 1915 (10:30am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Inspected main dressing station 1/1st Fld Ambulance (square I.f.4) on the cliff 350 yards S. of X Beach. Inspected bivouac of 1/2nd Fld. Ambulance in reserve at same place.

12 Noon. Inspected main dressing station 1/3rd Fld Ambulance on the West KRITHIA road (square 2.g.3). Directed a larger dug out to be made for shelter of sick & wounded.

3pm. 25 NCOs & men arrived as temporary re-enforcements from Nos 24 and 25 Casualty Clearing Stations. Posted to 1/2nd Fld Ambulance.

3pm. Telegram received from VIII Corps directing as many sick and wounded as possible to be retained in dressing stations. Issued orders accordingly.

July 3, 1915 (11:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance ordered to detail an officer for 1/8 LANCS FUSILIERS.

July 4, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

Signal received from VIII A Corps directing evacuation of sick and wounded to be carried out as usual.

July 5, 1915 (6pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Attack by enemy on both flanks commencing at 4:00am. This Division occupying centre section was not directly engaged but was subjected to heavy bombardment. Casualties few.

July 6, 1915 (6pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Prepared and sent in to ADMS VIII Army Corps a nominal roll of casualties which have occurred among RAMC officers 42nd Division since landing on Peninsula.

July 7, 1915 (6pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

New dug out at 1/3 Fld Ambulance completed and found satisfactory. Inspected the transport of all Field Ambulances.

July 8, 1915 (1pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Temp Lieut. C. R. VON BRAUN having reported his arrival was placed in medical charge of 4th E. Lancs Regt. And joined unit.

3pm. Instructions received to commence anti cholera inoculations.

3pm. Draft on subject sent for insertion in Div Orders. Instructions issued to RAMC officers concurrent.

July 9, 1915 (4pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

The Field Ambulances are deficient in vehicles and horses. Furnished DADQS with a state in order that horsed transport may be made up to establishment in Mob. Strength Table for Fld. Ambulances corrected to Feb 1915.

July 10, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

Water tanks and barrels fixed in KANLI DERE above CLAPHAM JUNCTION (square 5.t.4) and in 3 trenches on the N.E. of the main branch of this nullah above CLAPHAM JUNCTION where a direct water supply to tank from spring can be attained. Water is sterilized in these receptacles which are in charge of water duty men RAMC. This arrangement saves labour and provides water in places which are inaccessible to water carts.

July 11, 1915 (10pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Received from VIII Army Corps the RAMC arrangements for attack by 52nd Division tomorrow. The dressing stations ordered to be established by this division are permanent ones already fixed as stated in the order.

July 12, 1915 (08:10am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Attack by 52nd Division carried out this morning. Made arrangements in case RAMC assistance required from this division.

Issued orders to No 1/2nd Fld. Ambulance to place one bearer sub-division at disposal of OC 1/3rd Fld. Ambulance and to hold a second bearer sub-div in readiness.

Signalled to OC 88th Fld Ambulance, 29th Div. requesting 2 motor ambulance wagons to be sent to 1/3rd Fld Ambulance.

Distribution

No 1/1 Fld Ambulance on line of evacuation KANLI DERE

No 1/2 Fld Ambulance in reserve. No 1/3 Fld Ambulance (less one section) on line of evacuation MAL TEPE DERE.

6pm. Second assault made at 4:30pm. Wounded from morning and afternoon assaults evacuated through line MAL TEPE DERE. Only a small number (45) evacuated through line KANLI DERE. My Field Ambulances were engaged throughout the day in assisting the bearer divisions of the Divisions engaged.

July 13, 1915 (03:35am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Received telegram from ADMS RND asking for a bearer division to report to ADMS 52nd Division, as wounded stated to be hampering operations in the trenches. Ordered 2 bearer sub-divs. From No 1/2 Fld Ambulance to be sent up MAL TEPE DERE under orders of OC 1/3 Fld Ambulance.

2:35pm. Received telegram from ADMS RND requesting me to arrange a relief for my 2 bearer sub-divs. Sent in morning.

3:30pm. Ordered one bearer sub-div. from No 1/2 Fld Ambulance and one bearer sub-div. from No 1/3 Fld Ambulance to be sent in relief.

July 14, 1915 (6:00pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Two of my bearer sub divisions are still assisting 52nd Division. There has been little fighting during today and I have verbally asked ADMS RND, who has been making the RAMC arrangements for yesterday’s attacks, to send them back.

July 15, 1915 (02:35am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

The 2 bearer sub divisions reported their return. Their casualties have been one officer (Lt. BLACKLY) and 32 ORs and men wounded.

July 16, 1915 (4:00pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

All dressing stations have now completed rest places for the accommodation of those cases of abdominal wounds which it is undesirable to move. Received report from OC Advanced Dressing Station of 1/3rd Fld. Ambulance on MAL TEPE DERE that after fighting of 12th and 13th inst. Eleven men suffering from abdominal wounds were sent to the Casualty Clearing Station after 48 hours rest and apparently out of danger.

July 17, 1915 (4:00pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Ordered No 1/2nd Fld Ambulance to take over from No 1/1st Fld Ambulance and the Advanced Dressing Stations and bearer relief post hitherto found by the latter.

Distribution:

No 1/1st Fld Ambulance (less 2 sections in reserve). Dressing Station on cliff S. of X Beach.

No 1/2nd Fld Ambulance. Line of evacuation KANLI DERE with the advanced dressing station at CLAPHAM JUNCTION (square 5.t.4) and on West KRITHIA road (square 2.b.2).

No 1/3rd Fld Ambulance (less one section in reserve) line of evacuation MAL TEPE DERE with Advanced Dressing Station 300 yards S.W. of Brown House (square 5.t.9) and a main dressing station on the West KRITHIA road (square 2.j.3)

July 18, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

Lieut. M. MORITZ 1/3rd Field Ambulance reported his arrival from England. Took over temporarily the duties of ADMS VIII Army Corps in addition to duties of ADMS 42nd Division.

July 19, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

150 extra Petrol tins obtained for units for carriage of water to trenches. More are still required.

July 20, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

Nothing to note.

July 21, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance ordered to return to their unit at IMBROS, 8 NCOs and men of the 25 Casualty Clearing Station.

July 22, 1915 (2:30pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Issued to brigades the RAMC special instruction from the Divisional Scheme in anticipation of enemy attack tomorrow.

11pm. Received signal VIII Corps ordering 1/3rd Fld Ambulance to take over 3 Ambulance Wagons of 41st Fld Ambulance, 13th Division at 8am tomorrow.

July 23, 1915 (9:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Three ambulance wagons taken over in compliance with above order by 1/3rd Fld Ambulance. 2 officers and 2 other ranks arrived as reinforcements for the Field Ambulances under my command.

July 24, 1915 (9:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

The DADMS in company with OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance inspected the advanced dressing stations on the KANLI DERE and visited the regimental aid posts of the 38th Bde. 13th Division now occupying firing line. Necessary instructions as to evacuation re-issued to the RAMC officers with units of the brigade. He proceeded by communication trench to MAL TEPE DERE and visited the Advanced Dressing Station of 1/3rd Fld Ambulance near BROWN HOUSE.

July 25, 1915 (3:00pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Relinquished duties of ADMS VIII Army Corps on return of Col. YARR.

July 26, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

It has not hitherto been the practice to send nominal rolls with parties For the dressing station, the tally being considered sufficient. To prevent irregularities, I have now given orders for rolls to be always made out by the Field Ambulances.

RAMC officers attached to units have now been informed that in all cases they are to send their sick and wounded through a Field ambulance and never divert to the Casualty Clearing Station.

July 27, 1915 (9:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Lieuts. SEECOMB and RAVENHILL arrived having been sent by GHQ to carry out anti cholera inoculations.

July 28, 1915 (9:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Application sent in through GOC for the 6 Mk. V (converted) Ambulance wagons left by the Field Ambulances of my division at ALEXANDRIA, to be sent out as early as possible. The units have drivers, horses and harness. At present there are only 2 serviceable ambulance wagons among the three Field Ambulances and in action it is always necessary to obtain extra transport from the 29th Division. Application also sent through GOC to DAG 3rd Echelon for 122 men to replace RAMC casualties in the division.

11am. Five Ptes. RAMC arrived, reinforcements for 1/1st Fld Ambulance.

July 29, 1915 (8:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Major E. H. COX assumed command of 1/3rd E. Lancs Fld Ambulance vice Lt-Col. STEINHALL placed on sick list and proceeded on hospital ship.

11am. Major T. HOLT RAMC attached 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers wounded and proceeded to casualty clearing station. OC 1/2nd Field Ambulance ordered to detail an officer in his place.

July 30, 1915 (12 Noon. Gallipoli Peninsula)

A motor ambulance wagon reported. This was sent on loc’n from 29th Division under orders of VIII Army Corps. As a daily routine it will be stationed at the Advanced Dressing Station on W. KRITHIA road (square 2.b.2), the horsed ambulance transport to that section being discontinued.

4pm. No 1/1st Fld Ambulance took over KANLI DERE line of evacuation from No 1/2nd Fld Ambulance.

No 1/2nd Fld Ambulance in reserve.

No 1/3rd Fld Ambulance (less one section in reserve) MAL TEPE DERE line of evacuation.

July 31, 1915 (9:30am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

The section held by this division will from 5pm today be extended to the right to a front 150 yards to the East of the MAL TEPE DERE (square 6.b.6). From the date of this transfer the boundary between the French and British zones will be the MAL TEPE DERE as far downwards as the water towers and thence along the present boundary line.

This necessitates a strengthening of RAMC arrangements on line of evacuation MAL TEPE DERE for this division.

10am. Message sent ADMS RND that OC 1/3rd E. L. Fld Ambulance would take over the advanced dressing station at fork on SIDD-EL-BAHR – KRITHIA road (square 5.x.9) hitherto furnished by R.N. Division.

10am. Order sent OC 1/3rd E. L. Fld Ambulance in accordance with above.

Appendix No 1

Extract from Divisional Routine Orders, 42nd Division, dated June 30, 1915

I55. APOINTMENT. Lieut-Colonel T. P. Jones, M.B. RAMC assumed the duties of ADMA to this Divn. Yesterday the 29th inst. Vice Colonel J. Bently Mann, placed on the Sick list.

(Authority DMS MEF 558 I5 – June 28, 1915)

Appendix No 2

Nominal Roll of Casualties Amongst RAMC Officers of 42nd (East Lancashire) Division

Appendix No 3

[Inoculation Message]

Appendix No 4

Field Arrangements for the Attack on July 12, 1915

Appendix No 9

Special Instructions No 4.

Appendix ?

The Secretary to the Committee for the Medical History of the War

The names of the Officers Commanding the Field Ambulances of the 42nd Division on landing at the Dardanelles were as follows:-

Lt.-Colonel H. G. PARKER, 1/1st East Lancashire Field Ambulance
Lt.-Colonel W. B. PRITCHARD, 1/2nd East Lancashire Field Ambulance
Lt.-Colonel W. STEINTHALL, 1/3rd East Lancashire Field Ambulance
Lt. Colonel PRITCHARD died of wounds 29/6/15.
Lt.-Colonel STEINTHALL subsequently changed his name to HOWORTH (September, 1915).

August 1, 1915 (11:30am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Made inspection of new communication trench which is being dug from square 17.m.7 to join a trench (Cross Cut B?) at a point 300 yards S.E. of SOTIRI FARM. Also inspected Cross cut B from that point to CLAPHAM JUNCTION (square 17.i.6). These trenches were inspected with a view to evaluating their suitability as an alternative route for evacuation of wounded from centre and left of section held by this division. At present all this evacuation is carried out on line KANLI DERE which is often much exposed to fire. These communication trenches are in many places impractical for stretchers but when finished & widened will be useful.

5:30pm. Total number of stretchers in this division is 394 including those with regimental units and with Fld Ambulances.

5:30pm. Reported to VIII Army Corps.

August 2, 1915 (11:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Inspected dressing station lately taken from RND and situated on SIDD-EL-BAHR – KRITHIA road (square 17.x.I). This requires a good deal of improvement and arrangements are made accordingly. It is the point when sick and wounded carried by stretchers down line of evacuation MAL TEPE DERE are transferred to ambulance wagons.

August 3, 1915 (10:30am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Inspected a large shelter at Advanced Dressing Station 1/3rd Fld Ambulance on MAL TEPE DERE. This has been recently blown in by a shell but owing to good construction of shelter only casualties were two men slightly wounded. Ordered it to be rebuilt.

11:30am. Inspected some disused Turkish trenches 50 yards in front of our present support line and 50 yards East of MAL TEPE DERE (square 18.a.9). These are in some places piled high with enemy dead. Also many bodies in open between trenches. The latter it will not be possible to bury at present but under the strong sun they are becoming dried up and not so offensive as might be expected. As for the bodies in the trenches the only way is to fill in the trenches concerned and this will be done. These are the dead from the attack of 12th July.

1pm. 2 NCOs 1/3rd Fld Ambulance and 2 Ptes. 1/1st Fld Ambulance, recovered sick and wounded, rejoined their units.

4:30pm. Fld Ambulances had been ordered by me to hand in all unserviceable stretchers to AOD for repair. Depot now received that this has now been done. 21 altogether handed in., in most cases unserviceable through canvas splitting. I think that canvas now supplied for stretchers is of inferior quality.

August 4, 1915 (10:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Inspected communication trench (sap 12) now in process of construction from map square 17.m.7 to front trenches at 22.z.5. This trench is now practicable up to redoubt line. Fatigue parties still at work. Selected site for a dressing station on this sap 150 yards south of FIG TREE FARM (Map square 17.i.4).

3pm. OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance ordered to prepare this site commencing tomorrow early. I propose to place another advanced dressing station here during an action involving left of the Division as the advanced dressing station at junction on KANLI DERE (Map square 17.i.6) is apt to become congested.

August 5, 1915 (11:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

A Motor Ambulance Wagon arrived sent under orders of VIII Army Corps on Loc’n from 29th Division. Headed over to the Advanced Dressing Station on S. W. KRITHIA road. This is in addition to the Motor ambulance Wagon placed there on 30th July.

2pm. With reference to site of new dressing station near FIG TREE FARM. Sent DADMS to left of front trenches to meet officers in medical charge battalions and officers of 1/2nd Fld Ambulance so as to arrange for RAMC and regimental stretcher bearers keeping in touch at any time when this dressing station is established.

5pm. Received Divisional Operation Order No 25 (Copy No 6) for tomorrow’s attack. 6th August.

August 6, 1915 (06:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Received Divisional Operation Order No 26 (Copy No 8) for tomorrow’s attack 7th August.

9am. Rode over road SOTIRI FARM – FIG TREE FARM to see if practicable for ambulance wagons. Decided to send them up to where communication trench cuts road 200 yards S. West of Advanced Dressing Station near FIG TREE FARM.

12:30 pm. Issued operational order to the Field Ambulances for this afternoon’s attack.

4pm. Sent Capt. BRIERCLIFFE, RAMC to the advanced dressing station near FIG TREE FARM to ascertain what wheeled transport required.

4:10pm. 1 Motor Ambulance Wagon arrived from VIII Army Corps. Total motors are now 3.

6pm. Capt. BRIERCLIFFE returned. Reported road SOTIRI FARM – FIG TREE FARM unsafe owing to spent bullets and that a few wounded were beginning to come in to the dressing station. Sent 1 motor ambulance wagon with orders to halt at SOTIRI FARM. Wounded to be brought there by trench LEITH WALK (Cross cut B).

6:30pm. Sent a second motor ambulance wagon for evacuation at Advanced Dressing station near FIG TREE FARM.

7pm. Sent Capt. DREW (DADMS) to visit advanced dressing station at CLAPHAM JUNCTION.

7:15pm. Visited Advanced Dressing Station on NO 3 road. Additional wheeled transport required. Ordered OC 1/3rd Fld Ambulance to send 3 G.S. Wagons to this point. On this being completed with, the wheeled transport at this station would comprise 1 Motor ambulance wagon, 2 Mk. V ambulance wagons & 3 G.S. wagons.

7:30 pm. DADMS returned from CLAPHAM JUNCTION. Reported evacuation proceeding satisfactorily.

9:45pm. In today’s action only 1 battalion, the 1/5th Manchesters of this Division was engaged. GOC 127th Bde. Reports estimated casualties of the battle as 214. Reports from my Fld Ambulances now received show 108 wounded passed through Advanced [Dressing Station] to 11 Casualty Clearing Station, but a few more continue to come in. No congestion of lines anywhere. 92 wounded of 29th Division also dealt with by Fld Ambulances of this division.

2 NCOs & men 1/2nd E. Lancs Fld Ambulance wounded, both slight.

10:40pm. Issued Operational Order to the Field Ambulances for tomorrow’s attack (7th inst.).

August 7, 1915 (07:30am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

OC Advanced dressing Station on No 3 Road reports 49 cases brought in since 9:30pm last night. Of which 20 are 29th Division. All wounded reported cleared. Total for 42nd Division yesterday’s action = 137.

8:20am. The DADMS (Capt. DREW) who had been sent to visit Advanced Dressing Station near FIG TREE FARM reports that only few wounded coming in there now and that 1 Motor Ambulance wagon would be sufficient.

9:00am. Rode to main dressing station 1/3rd Field Ambulance. Informed OC that the trench known as MULE TRACK on MAL TEPE DERE line of evacuation might at times between 2pm and 6pm become congested owing to mules bringing up supplies and that consequently wounded on stretchers might occasionally be held up.

9:00am. Lieut. HASKINS, RAMC 1/3rd E. Lancs Field Ambulance reported wounded.

9:20am. Asked ADMS RND for 4 stretcher squads. These are for transport from the advanced dressing station on No 3 road of cases for which wheeled transport is unsuitable.

9:40am. Asked OC 89th Fld Ambulance 29th Division for 3 motor ambulance wagons.

12:30pm. 2 Motor ambulance wagons sent by 89th Fld Ambulance arrived also 1 sent by ADMS RND. Two of these wagons sent to fork on SIDD-El-BAHR – HRITHIA road and one sent to SOTIRI FARM.

2:45pm. Message received from OC Advanced Dressing Station S. West of BROWN HOUSE asking for more bearers. Ordered up the reserve bearers sub-division from 1/3rd Fld Ambulance.

2:50pm. Signal message received from 127th Bde. Asking for help in evacuating wounded. Asked ADMS 52nd Division to send me 2 bearer sub-divisions as quickly as possible.

4:30pm. The 2 bearer sub-divs. of 52nd Division arrived but only at about half strength. 12 extra stretchers sent. Directed to report to OC Advanced Dressing Station CLAPHAM JUNCTION. 127th Bde. directed to apply these for assistance.

Signal message sent to OC 11 Casualty Clearing Station asking for stretchers to be returned. Reports show that they are beginning to run short on the lines of evacuation.

4:55pm. Asked by signal message to ADMS RND to let me know further number of stretcher bearers and stretchers he could spare, as the wounded are reported to be accumulating.

5:40pm. Reply from ADMS RND that he had ordered 4 squads from his 1st Fld Ambulance to relieve those sent in reply to my signal message at 9:20am today and also a bearer sub-division from his 3rd Fld Ambulance. Ordered the bearer sub-division to report to OC Advanced Dressing Station near BROWN HOUSE on MAL TEPE DERE. Sent the remaining 4 squads to Advanced Dressing Station on No 3 road in relief.

Informed ADMS RND that I expected to employ his bearers until a late hour.

9:30pm. Wounded have been coming in fast throughout the afternoon but there is no congestion anywhere and they have been got in to Casualty Clearing Station quickly.

ADMS 52nd Division sends 24 bearers and 24 stretchers. The latter are especially opportune as stretchers are becoming short on KANLI DERE LINE. Sent these to Advanced Dressing Station on No 3 road to pass up the line.

10pm. The Casualty Clearing Station still fail to return the stretchers. Sent a signal message to OC asking that return might be ensured.

Reports received up to this hour show that 710 of all ranks of this Division have passed through Dressing Stations to Cas Cl Station since commencement of today’s action. This includes 1 officer and 8 other ranks RAMC wounded but more seriously. The bearers of the RND lost 1 killed and 1 wounded.

In addition to the Fld Ambulances of this division there have been employed: 2 ½ bearer sub-divisions, 52nd Division and 1 ½ bearer sub-divisions RND. These sub-divisions were however below strength and as my Fld Ambulances are 9 officers and 140 other ranks below establishment the extra troops were barely sufficient to make up the deficiency.

11:30pm. Received signal message from 125th Inf. Bde. to say that 1/6th Lancs Fusiliers were in urgent need of stretchers. Sent message to OC Advanced Dressing Station CLAPHAM JUNCTION to send up 12 stretchers to this battalion.

August 8, 1915 (06:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Sent message to OC 1/3rd Fld Ambulance to direct bearer sub-division of RN Division to return to their unit as they were no longer required. Sent similar message to OC Advanced Dressing Station on No 3 road with reference to the 4 squads which had been detailed to him from same division.

11am. Sent message to OC Advanced Dressing Station on No 3 road to direct the 2 bearer sub-divisions of 52nd Division to return to their units as they were no longer necessary.

11:30am. Rode to 11th Casualty Clearing Station at LANCASHIRE LANDING to inform OC that it was a vital matter not to let stretchers run short in regimental aid posts and that I could not keep up supply in front during an action if my stretchers were being detained at the Casualty Clearing Station. Otherwise the communication trenches will get blocked with wounded. OC Casualty Clearing Station will try to expedite return but points out that he is so short of stretchers himself that he is normally obliged to retain them in order to put the wounded on board ship.

2:30pm. It being probable that a further action will take place this evening I sent out my DADMS (Capt. DREW) to visit the advanced dressing stations and regimental aid posts, proceeding up the MAL TEPE DERE line, crossing to the left by the trenches and returning by the KANLI DERE line. This was to ensure that battalions were in possession of their stretchers and that touch was being maintained between the Fld Ambulance and Regimental Stretcher bearers.

5pm. Reports received from the Fld Ambulances showing the total number of wounded from this Division who have been admitted and sent to Casualty Clearing Station. These numbers are for the action of yesterday 7th August.

1/1st Fld Ambulance = 372. 1/2nd Fld Ambulance = 27. 1/3rd Fld Ambulance = 543.

This makes a total of 942. In addition, 25 NCOs & men of other division were dealt with.

5:55pm. Returned to RND the additional motor ambulance wagon which had been supplied by ADMS.

Directed the 2 bearer sub-divisions which had been directed from 1/2nd Fld Ambulance and placed at disposal of 1/1st Fld Ambulance to be returned to their unit.

6pm. Received letter from VIII Army Corps complementing RAMC on smoothness and efficiency of evacuation of wounded in action of yesterday. The Major General Commanding also expressed his great satisfaction.

August 9, 1915 (9:45pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Withdrew all horsed ambulance transport to the transport lines of Fld Ambulances except the Mk. V ambulance wagon at SOTIRI FARM. The 3 motor ambulance wagons are sufficient for the casualties occurring now and for the daily sick.

12:50pm. The DADMS who had been sent to the visit the advanced dressing station near FIR TREE FARM returned & reported that there was now no necessity for this dressing station. Ordered OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance to close at 12 noon tomorrow, leaving a guard. GOC’s 126th & 127th Bdes. informed.

August 10, 1915 (8:30pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Arranged for the taking of medical evidence in the 56 cases of suspected self-inflicted wounds which have occurred recently & chiefly in fight of 7th inst. These have been reported by OCs Fld Ambulances & OC 11 Casualty Clearing Station. They are being detained on the Peninsula.

August 11, 1915 (4:00pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Application sent to GHQ for 6 officers to replace casualties in the Field Ambulances of this division. Charcoal respirators for use by burying parties made by RAMC and issued to Brigades.

August 12, 1915 (4:45pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

The division moves out of the trenches into bivouac tomorrow, on relief by 52nd Division. Orders issued for handing over of sites of dressing stations.

7:30pm. An enemy attack proceeding. Received information that we might make a counter attack might be made during night. Ordered OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance to send 2 bearer sub-divisions to be placed at disposal of OC 1/1st Fld Ambulance on KANLI DERE line of evacuation. This party to bring all available stretchers. 2 motor ambulance wagons already on this line. Sent 20 extra stretchers to OC 1/3rd Fls Ambulance and placed 2 Mk. V ambulance wagons at his disposal. This is in addition to 1 Motor Ambulance wagon already with him for MAL TEPE DERE line of evacuation.

August 13, 1915 (6:20am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

No counter attack was made. Up to this hour 63 wounded had passed down MAL TEPE DERE and 7 wounded down KANLI DERE line. All had proceeded smoothly. Most of these were got down before midnight.

8:10am. The 2 bearer sub-divisions of 1/2nd Fld Ambulance ordered to return to their unit.

9am. OC 1/1st Fld Ambulance reported 16 remaining wounded sent to Casualty Clearing Station from MAL ETEPE DERE line. This completes clearing of wounded from the enemy attack. Total 79.

10am. On 42nd Division leaving trenches, the dressing stations were handed over to Field Ambulances of 52nd Division.

9:30pm. Motor ambulance wagon No 4 B transferred to 52nd Division by order of DDMS, VIII Army Corps.

August 14, 1915 (08:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

With the division in resting the disposal of the sick from the different brigades is as follows. The necessary draft has been furnished for Divisional Routine Orders. 125th Inf. Bde. to 1/3rd Fld Ambulance. 126th Inf. Bde. to 1/2nd Fld Ambulance. 127th Inf. Bde. to 1/1st Fld Ambulance.

9am. Men suffering from wounds supposed to have been self-inflicted have been concentrated in 1/3rd Fld Ambulance which has necessitated an enlargement of the bivouac and shelters occupied by this unit. This party includes men coming under the above category who have been re-transferred from No 11 Casualty Clearing Station. The total number is 56.

August 15, 1915 (11:00am. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Field Ambulances ordered to refit and replenish their equipment while they are concentrated and while division is resting.

6:30pm. Anticholera inoculation which has hitherto been only partially done owing to operations is now to be pushed through and completed at rate of 2 battalions a day. Arranged with GOC 125th Inf. Bde. for sanitary officer to commence with his brigade tomorrow.

August 16, 1915 (6:00pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

OCs 1/1st & 1/2nd Fld Ambulances had been directed by me to each send a man to AOD to repair stretchers with split canvas. 21 stretchers have been repaired in this way by RAMC labour & returned to the Fld Ambulances. Have now issued an order to each Fld Ambulance to indent on AOD for canvas bottoms & leather strips for repair of unserviceable stretchers locally, thus obviating delay of sending in to AOD.

August 17, 1915 (6:00pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

To prevent congestion on L. of C. Fld Ambulances have been directed to keep men likely to recover within a few days. Extra shelters have now been completed for this purpose and each Fld Ambulance can now accommodate 50.

August 18, 1915 (Gallipoli Peninsula)

No entry.

August 19, 1915 (1:10pm. Gallipoli Peninsula)

Received orders that this Division will relieve 29th Division in Left Section of defences today. Troops to be in position by 6pm.

Ordered 1/1st Fld Ambulance to form an advanced dressing station (1 section) at Y Beach.

Ordered 1/2nd Fld Ambulance to form an advanced dressing station (1 section) at EAST ANGLIA GULLY near top end of GULLY RAVINE behind first barricade.

Ordered 1/3rd Fld Ambulance to send one section to take over the existing main dressing station at GULLY BEACH.

August 20, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Divisional Headquarters established at GULLY BEACH. Unable to bring up the remainder of my Field Ambulances yet as ground not yet vacated by Field Ambulances of 29th Division.

August 21, 1915 (6:00am. GULLY BEACH)

The Fld Ambulances of 29th Division have now left with the exception of their transport and some details and stores. Arranged to have these details closed up and ground cleared as far as possible.

10am. Inspected area. The section is sub-divided as follows:

Right Sub-Section. From a point 50 yards NW of the northern barrier in H.12 to and including the communication trench 100 yards NW of the “S” of SCRUB.

Left Sub-Section. From the above communication trench (exclusive) to the sea.

There are 2 main lines of evacuation.

From Right Sub-Section down GULLY RAVINE to GULLY BEACH.

From Left Sub-Section down “Y” RAVINE to “Y” BEACH and thence by road below cliff to GULLY BEACH.

Both lines converge on GULLY BEACH from which place further evacuation is made direct to trawler (for hospital ship) or by road to No 11 Casualty Clearing Station in other cases.

A Brigade of RND who hold the section on right of the division evacuate from their left down GULLY RAVINE to the main dressing station at ABERDEEN GULLY.

August 22, 1915 (12:40pm. GULLY BEACH)

Issued Operational Order. [RAMC 42nd Division Operational Order NO 3]

1pm. Ordered all patients in 1/1st Fld Ambulance & in 1/3rd Fld Ambulance whom it is not proposed to send to Casualty Clearing Station to be transferred to 1/2nd Fld Ambulance.

2pm. Inspected Advanced Dressing Station at Y Beach and at EAST ANGLIA GULLY.

August 23, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Withdrew the section of 1/2nd Fld Ambulance from EAST ANGLIA GULLY. The distribution of Field Ambulances is now as follows:

1/3rd Fld Ambulance. Right Sub-Section line of evacuation.
1/1st Fld Ambulance. Left Sub-Section line of evacuation.
1/2nd Fld Ambulance. In reserve.

August 24, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

DADMS visited Right Sub-Section of trenches. Received instructions from GHQ to send a daily return of sick & wounded admitted for treatment during 24 hours previously, in the Division.

August 25, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

DADMS visited Left Sub-Section of trenches. Received Div. Op. Order directing 126th Bde. to relieve 125th Bde. in Right Sub-Section today. 125th Bde. (less 1 Batt. In Div. Reserve) to be in Corps Reserve. No change in my dispositions entailed.

August 26, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

90 NCOs & men RAMC arrived as reinforcements for the Fld Ambulances of this division and also 3 NCOs & men returned recovered after having been sent to base as sick & wounded. To units as follows: To 11/1st Fld Ambulance 27 NCOs & men. To 1/2nd Fld Ambulance 25 NCOs & men. To 1/3rd Fld Ambulance 41 NCOs & men.

2:30pm. Visited the trenches in the section of defences held by this division. Found everything satisfactory and that all regimental aid posts were in touch with the advanced dressing stations of the Field Ambulances.

6pm. Trawler sent to bring off sick & wounded to Hospital Ship could not approach pier owing to shell fire. Evacuation carried out to No 11 Casualty Clearing Station by motor ambulance wagons.

August 27, 1915 (9:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Lieut. A. M. MACKAY 1/1st E. Lancs Fld Ambulance rejoined his unit. This officer had been detached for duty with force in Egypt.

3:35pm. Signal received from ADMS Advanced Base that trawler would not call owing to rough weather. Ordered Fld Ambulances to evacuate all cases to 11 Casualty Clearing Station.

August 28, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Lieut. BRENTNALL, RAMC in medical charge 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers reported sick, sent to Base.

4pm. Signal received. No trawler. Evacuation ordered to 11 Casualty Clearing Station.

August 29, 1915 (6:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Lieut. (Qr. Mr.) ANDERTON 1/3 (E.L.) Fld Ambulance sent sick to base.

August 30, 1915 (9:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Lieuts. W. TURNER and A. M. GIBSON 1/2nd Fld Ambulance also Lieut. F. B. SMITH 1/3rd Fld Ambulance arrived from England to join their respective units.

12 Noon. Issued order directing Major W. L. BENILY, RAMC to be temporarily transferred from 1/1st Fld Ambulance to 1/2nd Fld Ambulance and to command the unit. From 1st Sept, 1915 inclusive.

August 31, 1915 (12 Noon. GULLY BEACH)

Issued order directing Major T. FRANKISH, RAMC to be transferred from attached 1/9th Manchester Regiment to 1/3rd Fld Ambulance and for Temp Lieut. C. H. NASH, RAMC 1/1st Fld Ambulance to be attached to 1/9th Manchester Regt.

6pm. Received Divisional Operation Order directing 125th Inf. Bde. to relieve 127th Inf. Bde. in Left Sub-Section on 2nd Sept. 127th Bde. (less 1 Batt in Div. Reserve) to be in Corps Reserve on GULLY BEACH. This does not entail any change in my dispositions.

Appendix

Royal Army medical Corps 42nd (E. Lancs) Division Operational Orders No 1.
Royal Army medical Corps 42nd (E. Lancs) Division Operational Orders No 2.
Royal Army medical Corps 42nd (E. Lancs) Division Operational Orders No 3.

 

September 1, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Lieut. BAILEY 1/1st (E. Lancs) Fld Ambulance who had been wounded, rejoined unit from base.

10am. Ordered OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance to send an officer to replace Lieut. BRENTNALL sick to base.

6pm. No trawler arrived. All sick and wounded for base transferred to 11 Casualty Clearing Station.

September 2, 1915 (10:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Received signal from 1st Australian Field Artillery (attached to 42nd Division for administration) that their medical officer had been sent away sick. Ordered OC 1/2nd Fld Ambulance to send an officer in relief.

September 3, 1915 (3:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Together with DADMS attended conference pf Divisional ADMSs at VIII Army Corps HQrs. to consider cause and means of prevention of the prevailing diarrhea & dysentery. Opinion that this disease is largely amoebic dysentery. Water probably chief cause. Strict supervision to be kept over water purification. A few other details in connection with care of troops during winter season also discussed.

5:30pm. No trawler today. All sick & wounded for base transferred to 11 Casualty Clearing Station.

September 4, 1915 (9:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Together with divisional sanitary officer, made an inspection of water carts found that purification by chlorine was being carefully carried out in all cases.

September 5, 1915 (5:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

Capt. NORRIS, RAMC attached 1/6 Manchester Regt. Sent sick to base. OC 1/1st Fld Ambulance has been instructed to send an officer in relief.

September 6, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

OC 1/2nd (e. L.) Fld Ambulance reported return of officer sent on temporary duty to 1st Bn. Aust. Fld. Artillery.

11am. Health statistics of last week compiled. 57% daily have been admitted to Field Ambulance of which number 5% daily have been evacuated. This does not include wounded. This number shows an increase chiefly due to diarrhea and dysentery. GOC has written to VIII Army Corps asking for 2 deep wells to be sunk in upper end of GULLY RAVINE if possible. One has almost been completed in lower end of Ravine by 136th (Fortress) Coy R.E. & will probably prove satisfactory. Supply estimated at 15,000 gallons daily. It pierces an impermeable clay stratum at a depth of 22ft & is stained throughout with cement.

September 7, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected Left Sub-Section up to support line. The Advanced Dressing Station at Y Beach will be untenable in heavy rains. Directed OC to look for alternative site a little higher up Y Ravine.

September 8, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

As the site for the water carts at SHRAPNEL POINT will be untenable in winter, have arranged with RE to fix tanks in BRUCE’S RAVINE to which water will be pumped from the wells. No water carts can be got up there. These tanks will supply the brigade in the Left Sub-Section and will bring the water much nearer than it is at present.

September 9, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Capt. BRIARCLIFFE the divisional sanitary officer reported sick & sent to L. of C. Major FRANKISH 1/3rd Field Ambulance takes over his duties temporarily.

September 10, 1915 (5:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

No trawler owing to rough weather. Sick & wounded for base sent to 11 Casualty Clearing Station. 126th Bde. relieved by 127th Bde. In Right Sub-Sector. No change in RAMC dispositions.

September 11, 1915 (5:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

Again, no trawler for same reason. Sick & wounded for hospital ship evacuated as above.

September 12, 1915 (12:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

Received signal from ADMS HELES that in future trawlers would only be sent in calm weather and that in this case a signal would be sent.

2:30pm. Together with DA & QMG inspected rest of front trenches of Right Sub-Section and also the wells in GULLY RAVINE. Decided to close all the small shallow wells for drinking purposes, their place being taken by deep well at mouth of RAVINE. Made up statistics for last week. [unfortunate turn of phrase] The return shows a daily average of 0.7%. This is the highest number yet reached and sickness seems to be still increasing. Chiefly diarrhea and dysentery.

September 13, 1915 (1:50pm. GULLY BEACH)

Received signal that trawler would be sent as weather calm. Lieut. H. WILSON 1/3rd Fld Ambulance reported sick and will be evacuated to L. of C.

September 14, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Capt. BRIARCLIFFE reported his return from L. of C. and resumed duty of sanitary officer to the division. Furnished draft for Div. Routine Orders directing Regimental Sanitary Detachments to be always kept up to strength. In some cases, this had not been done.

September 15, 1915 (2:45pm. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected communication trenches between Y Ravine and GULLY RAVINE. This was to ascertain best route for evacuation from Left Sub-Section if at any time the road Y Beach – GULLY Beach became impassable owing to storms, etc. The communication trench leading into GULLY RAVINE 100 yards north of ZIG ZAG is the only practicable route.

September 16, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

27 RAMC (New Army) reinforcements arrived. Distributed as under:

1/1st Fld Ambulance 14. 1/2nd Fld Ambulance 10. 1/3rd Fld Ambulance 3

September 17, 1915 (8:00am. GULLY BEACH)

New well at mouth of GULLY RAVINE taken into use. Placed under direct control of sanitary officer. 1 NCO and 3 Ptes. RAMC placed on permanent water duty at this well. All other wells in GULLY RAVINE closed for drinking purposes.

4pm. Lieut. BEDALE 1/1st Fld Ambulance sent sick to L. of C.

September 18, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Together with AA & QMG proceeded to Left Sub-Section to fix on new site for an Advanced Dressing Station. Selected site at head of Y Ravine thus commanding 2 routes of evacuation either by Y Beach or by mule track leading into GULLY RAVINE 100 yards north of ZIG ZAG. Also selected sites for water tanks in BRUCE’S RAVINE.

Returned by mule track to GULLY RAVINE and selected a new site for the advanced dressing station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY. This is to be prepared and ready in case of rains making present position untenable. New site selected is on rising ground immediately north of EAST ANGLIA RAVINE.

September 19, 1915 (4:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected new wells being dug at GULLY FARM and on plateau East of GULLY RAVINE opposite GEOHEGAN’S BLUFF. These sites were fixed by geological expert sent from VIII Army Corps.

5:30pm. As the day was very calm a trawler was sent to GULLY BEACH to evacuate sick and wounded.

September 20, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up and forwarded to DDMS VIII Army Corps the health statistics for preceding week. Sick rate still high. 0.82% daily.

September 21, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

As the water in the new well at mouth of GULLY RAVINE shows a bad analysis by bacteriologists report, it is temporarily closed and further samples taken. Wells in former divisional area are being used instead.

12:45pm. Sent in DADOS a report on a simple wheeled stretcher carriage sent for trial. [Report in Appendix]

September 22, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

40 blanket stretchers have been sent to this division for use in trenches. Have issued one to each RAMC officer I/C unit for trial and report. [Description in Appendix]

September 23, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Sent sanitary officer to collect samples for analysis from certain wells in former bivouac area from which we still draw water. It is probable that the analysis of practically all the wells in the Peninsula will be unsatisfactory. Have decided to take samples of all available wells, retain, safeguard and purify the most satisfactory and close the others for drinking purposes. It has been difficult to obtain satisfactory data before as until now there has been no bacteriologist available.

September 24, 1915 (10:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Lt-Colonels BUCHANAN and BALFOUR, members of the Commission on Infectious Diseases visited the division. Accompanied them round bivouac area and five trenches.

125th Inf. Brigade relieved 127th Inf. Brigade in Right Sub-Section. No change in Fld Ambulance dispositions involved.

September 25, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

A “Thresh” Disinfector has arrived for the Division. Ordered up a section of 1/2nd Field Ambulance from X Beach to take charge of it. Bivouac for this section to be immediately north of 1/3rd Fld Ambulance. A site which has been decided on for the divisional disinfecting and cleansing station. [Which means they didn’t have one before]

September 26, 1915 (10:15am. GULLY BEACH)

Together with CRE visited wells at SHRAPNEL POINT. Arranged for cement coping and covers. These are essential to prevent storm water and contamination generally. This is the only possible water supply for the Left Sub-Section. The water is now being lid? into BRUCE’S RAVINE and it is hoped to raise it to level of trenches by means of a series of tanks and pumps.

11:30am. Also arranged with CRE details of construction of new Advanced Dressing Station at head of Y Ravine and at ABERDEEN GULLY.

September 27, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

From this date the garrisons are adjusted so as to leave half the division in the firing and support lines and the remainder in Divisional and Corps Reserve. This arrangement will give the men a fortnight’s rest in reserve instead of a week as formerly. The RAMC arrangement remains as before.

11:00am. VIII Army Corps asked that trawler should call daily of possible for evacuating of wounded direct from this beach.

September 28, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for health of Division in week ended 25th inst. The total number admitted into Field Ambulances daily was 0.7% and sent to L. of C. daily 0.65%. This is an improvement on last week but it will probably not continue to improve.

September 29, 1915 (10:30am. GULLY BEACH)

The 3rd E.L. Brigade RFA and the 4th Battery of 1st E.L. Brigade RFA have now arrived. As the batteries of the 1st and 3rd Brigades are much separated have arranged with OC Right Group RA as to distribution of work among RAMC officers attached. As the 4th, 5th and 19th Batteries are situated out of this area between SOTIRI FARM and KANLI DERE their sick and wounded for admission to hospital will be sent to Fld Ambulances of 52nd Division and a similar arrangement has been made for the 6th and 20th Batteries situated in the MAL TEPE DERE.

5:30pm. Lt-Col. HOWORTH commanding 1/3rd E.L. Fld Ambulance transferred sick to L. of C. The next senior officer, Major COX, now commands the unit.

September 30, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

The 40 blanket stretchers sent on 22nd inst. for use in trenches have now been thoroughly tested. All my officers concur in reporting that this is even less adapted for trench warfare than the ordinary Mk. I and Mk. II patterns. It is equally long and is 10 ½ inches broader. The idea apparently is to narrow the stretcher by removal of the traverses, but this would cause much discomfort and possible injury while the regulation stretchers can be easily narrowed by pushing in the hinged traverse slightly. No stretcher is of any use in fire trenches as the necessary length renders it impossible to take it round traverses. The only practical method is to remove wounded by hand or in a blanket.

The blanket stretchers may be used by taking out poles and traverses and transporting the wounded men in the blanket but until clear of the trench, when poles and traverses can be inserted, but this possesses no advantage from carrying in a blanket as usual and subsequent transfer to an ordinary stretcher. The blanket stretcher also has the disadvantage of having no supports to keep the patient off the ground if it becomes necessary to lower the stretcher. These stretchers are being retained for use in Field Ambulance Tent Divisions where they make excellent beds if supported on trestles.

October 1, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Return of enteric and cholera inoculation rendered to DMS GHQ. This return is to be rendered on 1st of every month. Percentage of all troops fully inoculated against enteric 97.04, against cholera 95.03.

AFO 1810 received from 3rd Echelon for my Fld Ambulances shows the number drowned by sinking “Royal Edward” to be as under:

1st Fld Ambulance Lt. HEYHURST & 18 NCOs and men. 2nd Fld Ambulance 34 NCOs and men. 3rd Fld Ambulance Capt. MARSHALL and 3 NCOs and men.

October 2, 1915 (3:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected Advanced Dressing Station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY. Work on new site getting on. Site for dug outs for personnel finished. Site for the shelter for sick and wounded requires more sinking and front protection not yet completed.

October 3, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for week ended yesterday. Health not so good as last week. Total of sick = 0.97% and total sick evacuated from peninsula = 0.87% daily.

October 4, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected five communication trenches in Left Sub-Sector. Sanitary state of the trenches good generally. Latrines in some cases insufficiently protected and latrine boxes generally minus lids which are taken for firewood. A cover of sacking soaked in heavy oil is to be used. Brigades are to fix responsibility for public latrines in their area.

October 5, 1915 (GULLY BEACH)

87th Fld Ambulance of 29th Division reported its arrival and given bivouac area 300 yards from mouth of GULLY RAVINE on left bank. They are here temporarily but available for duty.

October 6, 1915 (7:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

OC 1/1st Fld Ambulance informed that additional casualties might be expected during night in Left Sub-Sector and to inform OC his Advanced Dressing Station.

October 7, 1915 (06:00am. GULLY BEACH)

No special casualties occurred last night. Normal amount of bomb wounds. etc.

The site for the Thresh Disinfector has now been completed and work has commenced. The present intention is to pass through this disinfector the clothing and blankets of the troops of the Division in Corps Reserve. It is capable of dealing with 100 sets of the above daily.

3pm. A working party of 20 NCOs and men ordered to be furnished by 87th Fld Ambulance for the new Advanced Dressing Station at top of Y Ravine.

October 8, 1915 (09:30am. GULLY BEACH)

The South Eastern Mounted Brigade arrived last night and is attached to this Division. Strength 68 officers, 1,431 other ranks. Royal East Kent Yeomanry, West Kent Yeomanry & Sussex Yeomanry. SE Mounted Brigade Fld Ambulance (6 officers, 99 other ranks).

October 9, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Further experiments show that well at mouth of GULLY RAVINE is unlikely to furnish satisfactory water. It will therefore be classified as fit for washing and watering animals only.

October 10, 1915 (10:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Working party of 20 NCOs and men ordered to be furnished by 87th Fld Ambulance for new Advanced Dressing Station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY.

2:30pm. Inspected fire and support trenches in Left Sub-Section. Sanitary conditions good. Health of troops very fair. Two blankets a man are now issued.

October 11, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Anti cholera inoculation of S. E. Mounted Brigade commenced.

October 12, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Application sent in for the 6 Ambulance Wagons Mk. V and the 2 water carts left by the Fld Ambulances if this division at ALEXANDRIA to be sent up. A previous application was submitted on 28th July to which there has been no answer.

October 13, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected bivouacs of S. E. Mounted Brigade in GULLY RAVINE. In good sanitary condition. Noted that water testing boxes not supplied with their water carts. Directed these to be indented for from AOD.

October 14, 1915 (10:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Lt-Col. W. R. MATHEWS took over command of 1/2nd Fld Ambulance, vice Major W. L. BENTLEY who rejoined his unit (Authority WO Letter 9/Medical/5519 (TF 3) of 22/9/15).

3pm. The digging on the sites for new Advanced Dressing Stations now almost completed. Sandbags and other material sent up. 2,000 sandbags for each.

October 15, 1915 (08:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Ordered the S. E. Mounted Brigade Fld Ambulance & 87th Fld Ambulance in GULLY RAVINE to strike their tents as they are likely to attract aeroplane observation. No Red Cross Flags are flown by these units at present as they are not receiving sick and wounded and are closed up with other troops.

9am. From this date and hour all evacuations from the division, less those carried out direct to Hospital Ships from GULLY BEACH, will be to 17 Stationary Hospital, X Beach which takes the place of 11 Casualty clearing Station as far as this division is concerned.

10:30am. Ordered 1/2nd E. L. Fld Ambulance to move to GULLY BEACH from X Beach and bivouac on ground at present occupied by their section sent to prepare the site on 25th Sept.

October 16, 1915 (07:00am. GULLY BEACH)

One officer and 1 NCO sent to ALEXANDRA to bring up base kits of officers.

9:30am. Colonel Sir VICTOR HORSLEY visited the division with a view to ascertaining the conditions under which the treatment of wounded was being carried out. Accompanied him round fire and communication trenches, aid posts and dressing stations.

2pm. Colonel Sir VICTOR HORSLEY addressed a conference of my officers on various points of surgical procedure with reference to wound treatment.

October 17, 1915 (12 Noon. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for previous week. Total number = 0.74% daily of which number 0.7% were evacuated to the Clearing & Stationary Hospitals.

October 18, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Ordered each of the 42nd Division Fld Ambulances to detail 5 Ptes. for duty with the transport section as latter is under strength.

October 19, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Reinforcements arrived and were posted as under:

12 NCOs and 40 Ptes. to 1/1st E. Lancs Fld Ambulance

  1. Lts. SILLS and MAXWELL. 1 NCO (TF) and 43 Ptes. (TF) to 87th Fld Ambulance of 29th Division
  2. Lt. W. DOYLE to medical charge of 14th Siege & 460th Heavy Batteries RGA of 29th Division. These batteries are in my administrative area.

October 20, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Capt. W. ROGERS reported arrival for duty with East Lancashire Field Ambulances and was posted to 1/3rd Fld Ambulance.

11:30am. Recommendations for distinguished services submitted for Capt. C. M. DREW, Lieut. J. MORLEY, Cpl. N. ASHWORTH and Pte. I. A. HODGES.

October 21, 1915 (06:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Took on duties of DDMS VIII Army Corps temporarily vice Colonel M. T. YARR, C.B. proceeded for rest on hospital ship.

6pm. 11 NCOs out of last reinforcements returned to OC 11 Casualty Clearing Station in accordance with signed message received from Divn.

October 22, 1915 (1:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Severe weather has come on. Rain and high wind. State of roads so greasy as to stop motor transport. Delay in consequence in evacuating from GULLY BEACH to 17 Stationary Hospital with the 3 Horsed Ambulance Wagons at my disposal.

October 23, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Weather still bad and roads greasy. Requested DAQMG to obtain 2 additional horsed ambulance wagons from Transport Depot also to exchange one ambulance wagon requiring repairs.

5pm. Roads drying up and motor transport practicable. 5 motor ambulance wagons arrived from 11 Casualty Clearing Station. These were sent in answer to my request by telephone as the extra wagons asked for in the morning had not come and the evacuation of sick and wounded was being delayed. These 5 vehicles cleared the dressing stations. Relinquished duties of DDMS VIII Army Corps on return of Colonel YARR.

5:30pm. The 2 extra horsed ambulance wagons and the ambulance wagon for exchange arrived and were taken on strength of Fld Ambulances.

October 24, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Roads dried up. Motor ambulance wagons carrying out evacuation from GULLY BEACH to 17 Stationary Hospital as normal.

2:45pm. Inspected new advanced dressing station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY. This dressing station is mow roofed for ¾ of its extent. Directed epanlement in front to be thickened and terrace for dug outs of the section lowered.

4pm. Inspected new advanced dressing station being prepared for Left Sub-Section at head of Y Ravine. Site dug and wells sandbagged. No roof available as yet. Requested CRE to supply timbers pending arrival of corrugated iron so that tarpaulins might be used in case of an action when it would become necessary to occupy this dressing station.

October 25, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

The reinforcements arrived on 19th inst. being regular RAMC belonging to Home Hospitals Reserve or to New Army, I directed Field Ambulance Commanders to show them on all returns as Regular RAMC attached.

12 Noon. Requested CRE to either weather board or sandbag up the front side of main dressing station 1/3rd Fld Ambulance so as to give more protection from the weather. Sandbags decided on. This is a temporary measure pending arrival of material for building the dressing station according to pattern laid down.

October 26, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for week ended 23rd inst. The sick rate remains about the same. 0.77% daily.

The S. E. Mounted Brigade ordered to find the working party (2 NCOs & 30 men) for the main dressing station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY from this date. This relieves the party from 87th Fld Ambulance.

October 27, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Ordered a dug out for the drivers to be made at the Ambulance Wagon Halt, 250 yards North of ESKI LINE.

October 28, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Directed the Field Ambulance Transport Lines on right bank of GULLY RAVINE 200 yards from GULLY BEACH to be re-constructed. Daily working party from each East Lancs Fld. Ambulance ordered for this purpose. 6 men from each unit. When this is completed all the animals & vehicles of the 3 East Lancs Fld. Ambulances will be parked together. The transport personnel will bivouac on other bank of GULLY RAVINE, except stable guard which will bivouac at horse lines.

October 29, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

50 hot water bottles received from Red Cross Society. These were sent in answer to a request from me as it is considered that they will be very useful in cold weather and also in cases of shock, etc. These would be a useful addition to the equipment of Field Ambulances. Distribution made to all Field Ambulances and to each regimental aid post.

2:30pm. Inspected office and books 1/3rd Fld Ambulance and found all satisfactory but OC states that supply of A&D books, army forms & stationary as Base Stationary Depot has not complied with indents.

October 30, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected wells & pools in GULLY RAVINE with a view to taking precautions against malaria as it has been reported from L. of c. that a few cases have occurred connected to Peninsula. There are a number of wells and some pools in this ravine where mosquitos are breeding. The malaria carrying mosquito has been discovered In the French Lines but has not so far been discovered in this area. The larvae of other forms of mosquito have however been found which are capable of conveying other forms of fever.

If the malaria carrying mosquito does exist it is probable that the disease will spread owing to infection from the Indian Mule Drivers and from others who have come from malaria infected countries.

3pm. Made arrangements as follows for drafts at School of Instruction GULLY BEACH. Detachment from 125th Inf. Brigade in medical charge of RAMC officer attached 1/5th Lancs Fusiliers other details in medical charge of RAMC officer attached to 1/10th Manchester Regt.

October 31, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Proposals for dealing with water in GULLY RAVINE sent in to AA&QMG. [Lt-Col. REGINALD J. SLAUGHTER] All wells to be re-numbered, labelled and have covers fitted. Any well when not required to have cover screwed down. Tanks and barrels not in use to be removed or turned upside down. Pools & small collections of standing water to be dealt with by RAMC.

12 Noon. Proposals concurred in. Squad of 1 NCO and 5 men detached for above purpose from 1/2nd Fld Ambulance. This squad is placed under immediate control of Divisional sanitary officer.

6pm. Made up number of Royal Army Medical Corps of this division who have been killed and wounded in action since date of Division landing on Peninsula (6th May, 1915) to present date. Total 123 of all ranks.

Appendix No 19

RAMC Killed and Wounded for Period 6/5/15 to /31/10/15

November 1, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up the statistics for week ended 30th October, 1915. Total sick from all causes = 488 representing an average of 0.75% daily on strength of Division.

November 2, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Squad for dealing with mosquito breeding places in GULLY RAVINE commenced work.

2pm. Have represented to DDMS VIII Army Corps that units of 29th Division which are at present in this area have no RAMC NCOs and men attached as laid down in War Establishments and have asked if there may be detailed from 87th Field Ambulance which is the only unit of 29th Division available. RAMC NCOs and men are attached to all units of 42nd Division and are found invaluable. Wastage is replaced from the divisional Field Ambulances. Reply now received from DDMS VIII Army Corps that W. Office ruling received by 29th Division before leaving England laid down that no RAMC were available for this purpose.

November 3, 1915 (5:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

New administrative areas and subareas published.

Divisional Area

EASTERN BOUNDARY. The road running N.E. from the cross roads 600 yards S.W. of PINNK FARM as far as E of GULLY RAVINE thence in a straight line to point of junction between squares 22 O and 22 U.

SOUTHERN BOUNDARY. The road running N.W. from the cross roads 600 yards S.W. of PINK FARM to GULLY BEACH.

WESTERN BOUNDARY. The coast line from GULLY BEACH to the firing line.

NORTHERN BOUNDARY. The firing line from the Eastern Boundary to the sea.

Administrative Sub-Areas

‘A’ The tactical area on the left bank of, and including, GULLY RAVINE as far back as LANCASHIRE STREET and ZIG ZAG (both inclusive).

‘B’ The tactical area on the right bank of GULLY RAVINE as far back as and including the trench running S from ‘P’ point to GULLY RAVINE (Western Mule Track).

‘C’ The portion of the Divisional Area from the boundaries of ‘A’ and ‘B’ to the rear trenches of the ESKI LINE (inclusive).

‘D’ The remainder of the Divisional Area.

November 4, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

6 Ambulance Wagons Mk. VI arrived for the Division. 4 Horsed Ambulance Wagons on loan now returned to VIII Army Corps depot. Total horsed ambulance wagons now available = 7. Two additional wagons have been returned to AOD for repair.

November 5, 1915 (10:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Present site of advanced bearer post at GEOHEGANS BLUFF is likely to be flooded in raining season and also does not afford sufficient cover from fire. New site selected adjoining. Ordered to be dug in by personnel of post.

November 6, 1915 (12 Noon. GULLY BEACH)

Observed that floors of dug outs for personnel in new advanced dressing station at Y RAVINE are not deep enough, thereby using an excessive number of sandbags and giving inferior protection. Ordered to be dug deeper. Also requested CRE to strengthen timber supports of roof of this dressing station sufficient to support a covering 2 sandbags thick.

November 7, 1915 (2:15pm. GULLY BEACH)

South Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance ordered to relieve tomorrow the section of the 1/1st East Lancs Fld Ambulance in the Left Sub-Section.

3pm. Working party of 1 NCO & 20 men hitherto employed at Y Ravine, from 87th Fld Ambulance, ordered to be sent to EAST ANGLIA GULLY from tomorrow morning.

Working party of 1 NCO & 12 men from 87th Fld Ambulance ordered to commence work tomorrow morning at Wagon Halt near Divisional HQrs. The intention is to make a deep cutting at the bend of the road so that the motor ambulance wagons may halt there out of the way of traffic.

November 8, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for week ended 6th Nov. Total sick from all causes, averages 0.52% daily of strength of Division. This does not include wounded of whom there have been 19.

6:45pm. Signal received from VIII Army Corps that 87th Fld Ambulance is to proceed to MUDROS EAST by ferry on night of 10th – 11th inst. This Fld Ambulance of 29th Division came with 98th Brigade on 5th October. It has been bivouacked in this area but has not been employed except in furnishing working parties.

November 9, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

8,500 sandbags for Winter quarters RAMC drawn from RE and distributed as under. This for personnel only:

1/1st East Lancs Fld Ambulance   1,000 for Main Dressing Station
S.E. Mted. Brig. Fld Ambulance   1,000 for use at Y RAVINE
1/2nd East Lancs Fld Ambulance  2,000 for Main Dressing Station
1/3rd East Lancs Fld Ambulance  1,000 for Main Dressing Station
1/3rd East Lancs Fld Ambulance  1,000 for EAST ANGLIA GULLY advanced dressing station
1/2nd East Lancs Fld Ambulance  2,500 in reserve at disposal of ADMS

November 10, 1915 (12 Noon. GULLY BEACH)

Working party of 1 NCO & 10 men from 1/1st E. Lancs Fld Ambulance ordered to replace the party formed by 87th Fld Ambulance for Wagon Halt at Divisional Headquarters.

November 11, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Sudden storm during night but little damage done to beach road in front of Fld Ambulances as heavy stones have been and are being laid down so as to form a sea wall.

November 12, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Inspected Gas Helmets of RAMC in accordance with order received form GS. 18 were found defective. These were ordered to be sent to AOD for replacement.

November 13, 1915 (10:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Nothing to note.

November 14, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for week ended 13/11/15. Total sick during week averaged 0.59% daily a slight increase on last week’s return. Nothing special to note. There were 30 wounded in addition.

November 15, 1915 (09:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Lt, Col. DUDGEON RAMC one of the special service officers on staff of PDMS MEF [Principal Director of Medical Services, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force] visited division. Trenches & Advanced Dressing Stations visited. All found satisfactory.

8pm. Heavy storm has come on which is doing a good deal of damage to road in front of 1/3rd Fld Ambulance on beach.

November 16, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Weather calm and fine. Infantry in rest bivouacs suffered heavily last night in consequence of Winter quarters not being completed and their existing dug outs being very badly drained. Road leading past Fld Ambulances in GULLY BEACH almost impassable, a large part of it having been washed out by storm. Repairs to road being undertaken by RAMC.

November 17, 1915 (6:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

A South West gale sprang up about 7am and has raged all day. Road in front of Fld Ambulances still further washed away. Sea up to foundation of terrace of Main Dressing Station 1/3rd Fld Ambulance.

November 18, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

All available personnel from 1/2nd & 1/3rd Fld Ambulances put on to repair road as day is calm & fine. If a sufficient quantity of stone can be laid down as a breakwater, this is I think practicable. It is imperative to keep this road as there is no other site available for the Fld Ambulances and furthermore this present site is the safest from shell fire which can be found.

2:30pm. Rode up GULLY RAVINE. This is in many places over 2 feet deep in mud & water. The ambulance wagons evacuating sick and wounded are able to work with difficulty down this line. Horsed ambulance wagons are always used in GULLY RAVINE. This road always impracticable for motors. This has been no difficulty in the evacuation by motors from GULLLY BEACH to 17 Stationary Hospital.

November 19, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Revised scale of Transport authorized for RAMC of this division carried out. This is a scale adopted as a minimum in view of the necessity for reducing the number of animals on the Peninsula. It is recognized that it is only sufficient for work under present stationary situation and that it would be quite inadequate if the Field Ambulances were working under more mobile conditions.

November 20, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

An instalment of the corrugated iron required for roofing the dug outs built according to specified plan has today been issued. This amount is in the most part to be allotted to the battalions in corps reserve as it is considered most important that infantry when relieved form the trenches should have as comfortable quarters as possible. A small proportion has however been issued to the fixed units such as RA, RE, ASC and RAMC. Enough timber and sandbags are available. The digging and preparation of these Winter quarters is being pushed on as weather is becoming cold and inclement.

November 21, 1915 (2:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

Visited advanced dressing stations at Y RAVINE and EAST ANGLIA GULLY. The new dressing station shelters have now been completed and taken into use. The Y RAVINE is further forward. This is desirable being only 550 yards from the nearest part of the firing line. This is unavoidable in view of the cramped situation and after a careful survey I was unable to find a better site. As good cover as possible has been attained and the roof strengthened to support a double row of sandbags.

The accommodation is for 12 sick or wounded at Y RAVINE and for 12 at EAST ANGLIA GULLY. A section of a Field Ambulance is normally stationed at each of these advanced dressing stations. Winter quarters for these personnel are at present only partially completed owing to shortage of material. Many of the men are still in their summer bivouac shelter which are quite inadequate as a protection against cold & wet.

November 22, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for week ended 20th Inst. Daily sick rate is 0.57% daily based on section strength of division.

November 23, 1915 (9:30am. GULLY BEACH)

The undermentioned officers reported their arrival:

Captain C. P. BRENTNALL               – Posted 1/3rd Fld Ambulance
Lieut. L. OLDERSHAN                      – Posted to medical charge of 1/8 Manchesters
Capt. S. F. FARROW                          – Rejoined to Med. Ch. Of 1/7th Manchester Regt. from sick leave.
Lieut. (Qr Mr) S. WORKMAN       – To join 1/1st Field Ambulance

November 24, 1915 (9:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Lt. Col. H. G. PARKER Comdg. 1/1st East Lancs Fld Ambulance sent sick to L. of C. Major W. L. BENTLEY assumed command of unit.

November 25, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Informed General Staff, who concurred, that the short communication trench immediately north of J12 (Sikh Road) and leading down from fire trench to Western Mule Trench should be reserved as a down trench for wounded during action. The fire trenches have been recently narrowed rendering it very difficult to get wounded along them. It is therefore essential that they be passed back quickly and not through narrow communication trenches blocked by advancing troops, ammunition and supplies.

6:15pm. Report received from GOC 126th Inf. Bde. that Turks were pumping lachrymating gas into a mine falling which they had broken into. VIII Army Corps commander desired to obtain sample of this gas. Sent DADMS and Divisional Sanitary officer on this duty.

10pm. The officers sent to collect gas sample returned. To obtain samples they went down the mine, removed the sandbag which had been inserted to prevent ingress of gas and took samples by inserting bottles filled with water through opening and emptying them in the gas, afterwards corking and sealing them. Samples forwarded to VIII Army Corps for examination by expert.

November 26, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Received intelligence from VIII Army Corps that the gas could not be analyzed owing to its being absorbed by the moisture in the bottles. In the mine it was described as of an aromatic nature, irritating to the eyes and causing a certain amount of constriction and pain in the chest. The gas helmets did not protect except in so far as they protected the eyes to some degree. It does not appear to be a gas much to be feared and is obviously only of use in clearing a confined space like a mine gallery. It is comparatively innocuous when diluted with air. Although the expert could not make an analysis of this gas, he considered it to be a halogen derivative.

November 27, 1915 (1:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Severe weather has come on. Very cold north wind. Troops ordered to take 2 blankets with them to the trenches.

November 28, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Very severe frost last night. 6 degrees. Made up statistics for week ended 27th inst. Sick rate from all causes remains the same namely 0.57% daily, reckoned on section strength.

November 29, 1915 (2:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

On account of cold weather, it has become necessary to have permanent housing established for the regimental aid posts. Selected following sites for the regimental aid posts of the Right Sub-Section:

  1. ESSEX BARRICADE at junction of ESSEX STREET WEST (trench s. of BORDER BARRICADE) and GULLY RAVINE
  2. On right bank of GULLY RAVINE opposite BOOMERANG
  3. At junction of DOUGLAS STREET (J10) and GULLY RAVINE

November 30, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Sent in draft for Divisional Routine Orders as to precautions to be taken against frostbite.

2pm. Attended conference of Brigadiers at Bde. HQrs. at ZIG ZAG. The Major General Commanding brought to motion that sufficient use was not being made of the disinfector by all units. He also directed that particular attention should be paid to the precautions against trench foot, frostbite, etc.

Appendix No 20/21

RAMC 42nd (East Lancs) Division Operation Order No 4

Revised Scale of Transport

December 1, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Bitterly cold last night and still freezing. Issued orders to all officers in medical charge of units to explain to all ranks the precautions to be taken against frost bite. 13 degrees of frost observed last night.

12 Noon. 12 cases of frost bite of feet brought in to Field Ambulances during morning. All slight.

12:30pm. Visited Left Sub-Section for the purpose of selecting winter sites for Regimental Aid Posts. Selected the following:

  1. ESSEX RAVINE – for battalion on right
  2. BORDER RAVINE – for battalion in centre
  3. FUSILIER BLUFF – for battalion on left

2pm. Capt. C. M. DREW the DADMS left sick for L. of C.

December 2, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Weather becoming much milder. Investigations into the cases of frostbite showed that in practically all these cases the precautions directed to be taken in D.R. Orders of 30th inst. had been neglected. Report on each case furnished to Major General Commanding to fix the responsibility.

December 3, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Weather changed to mild & warm. Material issued by R.E. for the building of the 6 selected Regimental Aid Posts for the firing line on the Right & Left Sub-Sections. Work on these commenced.

2pm. VIII Army Corps signaled to ask if any deaths from exposure during recent blizzard. Replied in the negative.

December 4, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Horse lines laid out for the animals of the 3 Field Ambulances. As little ground is available it is necessary to keep the transport of all 3 Field Ambulances together. Horse lines situated on right bank GULLY RAVINE, 400 yards from sea. Lines laid out in two terraces each 26ft broad. These terraces are to be traversed at intervals of 15 feet by stone walls faced with old oatsacks used as sandbags. Walls to be 5ft high and to be raised to 6ft 6 inches when more material is available. This forms a series of stalls, 5 horses in each. These traverses are necessary both for protection against shell fire and as a shelter from the weather.

December 5, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for week ended Dec 4th. Total sick from all causes reckoned on section strength of division was 0.67% daily. This increase over last week was due to the weather & storm in the early part of the week. 42 wounded during week.

December 6, 1915 (2:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Sent sanitary officer with 2 men to spray dead enemy bodies uncovered during digging near ESSEX STREET WEST and DIGGLE STREET. The spray used is Solution C. It is a very efficient de-odourizer and enables working parties to deal with dead bodies, etc. It is a potent preparation.

December 7, 1915 (GULLY BEACH)

Nothing to note.

December 8, 1915 (08:00am. GULLY BEACH)

One NCO, RAMC killed by a spent bullet in 1/2nd Field Ambulance, GULLY BEACH in his sleep during the night.

10am. Inspection by DDMS VIII Army Corps. He visited the main dressing stations at GULLY BEACH and an advanced dressing station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY.

December 9, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

In view of the frequency of dropping bullets lately in the area occupied by the Field Ambulances on GULLY BEACH, made the following arrangements for supplying overhead cover pending the provision of corrugated iron. The sandbag walls & timbers to be fixed as usual. Extra pieces of wood to be laid across as available. Rabbit wire covered with sacking, old blankets & waterproof sheets to be placed over this & the whole covered with 2 inches of shingle or 3 inches if the roof will stand the weight.

December 10, 1915 (09:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Owing to a diversion of the road which is being made in the GULLY it will be necessary to move the Fld Ambulance transport personnel from their present bivouac to a site on the left bank of GULLY RAVINE opposite the horse lines. Terracing for winter quarters in this site commenced. Cliff very steep.

December 11, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

The undermentioned reinforcements arrived and were posted as stated against their names:

1/1st East Lancs Fld Ambulance   – Capt. R.A. ANDERSON, Lt. E. P. VICKERY, 45 NCOs & men
1/2nd East Lancs Fld Ambulance  – Capt. J. W. LINNELL, 52 NCOs & men
1/3rd East Lancs Fld Ambulance  – Lieut. HALCOMB, Lt. BRIDE, 17 NCOs & men

The undermentioned postings to regimental units were made:

66th Brigade RFA                                  – Lieut. J. CHASSLE
R.E. Kent Mted. Rifles                          – Lieut. J. McMILLAN
1/6th Manchester Regt.                      – Lieut. S. W. McCOMB
1/10th Manchester Regt.                    – Lieut. E. L. MATHEW
147th Brigade RFA (29th Division) – Lieut. W. L. DIBB

Without taking transport personnel into account this now leaves a deficiency below our establishment, of 5 officers and 72 other ranks RAMC. The arrival of these reinforcements has been very opportune as the RAMC men much under strength and a large amount of work still remains to be done in the way of preparation of winter quarters both for the sick and wounded and for the personnel.

2:30pm. Visited advanced dressing station at Y RAVINE and the regimental aid posts at ESSEX RAVINE and BORDER RAVINE. The site of the regimental aid post at FUSILIER BLUFF has been temporarily given up on grounds of safety and an additional aid post built in BORDER RAVINE instead. Ordered alteration to be made on the regimental aid post in ESSEX RAVINE which has not been satisfactorily completed.

December 12, 1915 (10:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Made up statistics for week ended 11th inst. Total sick from all causes averaged 0.43% per day, calculated on section strength. Total wounded during week was 45. There has been a very marked improvement in the health of the division lately. This I consider is to be attributed to good weather.

December 13, 1915 (11:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Received telephone message from VIII Army Corps to take over duties DDMS VIII Army Corps temporarily, vice Colonel M. YARR sick to L. of C., in addition to my own duties.

December 14, 1915 (08:30am. GULLY BEACH)

Owing to increasing shell fire it has become necessary to provide an alternative route for wounded coming down from the advanced dressing stations at Y Ravine & GULLY RAVINE (EAST ANGLIA GULLY). Working party of 1 NCO & 20 men RAMC detailed to cut a path from a point on the beach 700 yards North of mouth of GULLY RAVINE to the top of the cliff by a series of zig-zags and then carried across the flat trench near the ESKI LINE.

December 15, 1915 (6:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Nothing to note.

December 16, 1915 (6:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

The path up the cliff to commencement of new communicating trench to mule trench near ESKI LINE is now finished. Party of 1 officer & 60 other ranks detailed as a night working party to cut the trench across the open. The party of 1 NCO & 20 men to be maintained by day to deepen & widen trench as it is being cut.

Lieut. Col. W. R. MATHEWS now acts as ADMS 42nd Division, vice Lieut. Col. T. P. JONES acting DDMS VIII Army Corps.

December 17, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Took overcharge as acting ADMS 42nd Division vice Lt. Col. T. P. JONES acting DDMS VIII Army Corps.

The work on the main Dressing Station of the 1/2nd East Lancs Fld Ambulance is pushing on and the first terrace is wellnigh ready for the building of a hospital or hut for 50 patients. The excavation work for the men’s winter quarters also being pushed on toward completion as fast as possible. Those other winter quarters that are completed are safe, dry and warm at night and can accommodate five men comfortably in place of four as originally intended.

The zig-zag path up the cliff is practically well in hand and will soon be finished. The party of one officer and sixty men are continuing the night work on the trench across the open to connect up with the Mule Trench.

December 18, 1915 (6:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Nothing to note.

December 19, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Notified of an impending action in the Right Sub-Section and Left Sub-Section at 14:00. Issued instructions to the OIC Advanced Dressing Station in GULLY RAVINE and Y RAVINE to be prepared for casualties. OC 1/1st ordered to hold one bearer section in readiness to reinforce Advanced Dressing Station if called on.

Instructed MO I/C No 5 RAP to form an Advanced RAP at FUSILIER BLUFF and to hold back the wounded until the action was over as the WESTERN MULE TRENCH was likely to be heavily bombarded. Captain Anderson A/DADMS sent to superintend the arrangements.

6pm. Action over. Casualties to hand total 77. Everything worked smoothly and no difficulties encountered.

Daily percentage of sick for week ending 18/12/15 is 0.29%, the lowest on record.

December 20, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Total casualties from the previous operation 129. Trenching and digging work at the Field Ambulance going on. Nothing further to note.

6pm. Nothing to note

December 21, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Nothing to note.

6pm. Nothing to note.

December 22, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Nothing to note.

6pm. Nothing to note.

December 23, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

The undermentioned reinforcements arrived and were posted as stated against their names:

1/1st East Lancs Field Ambulance               Captain A. M. MACKAY, TF
1/3rd East Lancs Field Ambulance               Captain W. ROGERS, TF
1/6th Batt. Lancs Fusiliers, TF                        Captain C. G. BENTNALL, TF, vice Temp Lt. L. J. McCONNELL
1/3rd East Lancs Field Ambulance               Captain J. A. TOMB, TF
Temp Lieut. L. J. McCONNEL rejoined the 1/2nd East Lancs Fld Ambulance.

6pm. Nothing to note.

December 24, 1915 (09:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Detailed Captain W. ROGERS 1/3rd East Lancs Field Ambulance and 4 other ranks to form a temporary Dressing Station at W. BEACH. Authority DDMS VIII Army Corps.

Arranged with ADMS 29th Division that S.E.M.B. Field Ambulance be attached to the 29th Division Authority.

6pm. Nothing to note.

December 25, 1915 (6:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Detailed Temp. Lieut E. P. VICKERY as MO I/C 1/5th Lancs Fusiliers, vice Captain A. B. THOMPSON killed in action. Detailed Captain A. B. BRENTNALL as MO I/C 1/7th Lancs Fusiliers, vice Captain C. C. FITZGERALD sick to L. of C.

Captain R. A. ANDERSON RAMC sick to L. of C.

December 26, 1915 (9:00pm. GULLY BEACH)

Received orders from AA&QMG to have a Field Ambulance ready to move. Detailed No 2 Field Ambulance to have heavy baggage at V BEACH tonight. Instructed other Field Ambulances to stand by and evacuate all sick and wounded to No 17 Stationary Hospital. 42nd Division ordered to leave Peninsula on relief by 13th Division.

December 27, 1915 (9:00am. GULLY BEACH)

Heavy baggage of 1/2nd Field Ambulance at V. BEACH. Ambulance ready to move.

2:30pm. Order to move tonight cancelled until further orders.

Daily average percentage of sick for week ending 25.12.15 is 0.34% Daily, a slight rise from week before. Waiting further orders as to moving.

December 28, 1915 (12:30pm. GULLY BEACH)

1/2nd East Lancs Fld Ambulance under orders to sail tonight.

Returned to duty with the 1/2nd East Lancs Field Ambulance on the return of Lt. Col. T. P. JONES ADMS.

Lt. Colonel T. P. JONES RAMC resumed duties of ADMS on return from temporary duty as a/ DDMS VIII Army Corps.

7:30pm. 1/2nd E. Lancs Fld Ambulance left division for embarkation at LANCASHIRE LANDING. Equipment and baggage if thus unit sent on 26th inst.

8pm. In accordance with orders received, the 1/1st and 1/3rd E. L. Fld Ambulances sent in to V. BEACH their heavy baggage only. These two units have been directed to retain their equipment for a handing over to the Fld Ambulances of the 13th Division.

December 29, 1915 (9:00am. GALLIPOLI PENINSULA)

S.E. Mted. Brig, Fld Ambulance ordered to have all their baggage and equipment brought down to GULLY BEACH during the day. OC 1/1st E. L. Fld Ambulance ordered to send one section to relieve this unit at the advanced dressing station at Y RAVINE. Move to be completed by 6pm.

6pm. Above move completed. The S.E.M.B. Fld Ambulance ordered to bivouac for the night on site vacated by 1/2nd Fld Ambulance at GULLY BEACH.

8:30pm. All baggage and equipment of SEMB Fld Ambulance sent to LANCASHIRE LANDING for embarkation.

December 30, 1915 (9:00pm. GALLIPOLI PENINSULA)

S.E.M.B. Fld Ambulance march to V BEACH for embarkation. All troops of 42nd Division have now left Peninsula with the exception of the West Lancs Coy RE and the 1/1st and 1/3rd Fld Ambulances.

December 31, 1915 (9:50am. GALLIPOLI PENINSULA)

The 1/1st Fld Ambulance ordered to move to site vacated by 1/2nd Fld Ambulance at GULLY BEACH but not to establish dressing station. The main dressing station of 1/3rd Fld Ambulance is now the only one left on the beach. RAMC arrangements for Left Sub-Section now as follows:

Main Dressing Station at GULLY BEACH                   – 1/3rd Fld Ambulance (less one section)

Advanced Dressing Station at Y RAVINE                  – One section of 1/1st Fld Ambulance

Advanced Dressing Station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY and Bearer Post at junction of DOUGLAS STREET and GULLY RAVINE – One section of 1/3rd Fld Ambulance.

The 1/1st Fld Ambulance (less one section) remains in reserve at GULLY BEACH.

Sick and wounded from the advanced dressing station at Y RAVINE are evacuated by GHURKHA MULE TRENCH – GULLY RAVINE to GULLY BEACH or, as an alternative route, by P. POINT – JENNET ROAD – CUT down to Beach – Sea beach to GULLY BEACH.

Sick & wounded from the advanced dressing station at EAST ANGLIA GULLY are evacuated by GULLY RAVINE to GULLY BEACH.

Evacuation from the division is carried out as usual by ambulance wagons (motor ambulances state of roads prevents) to No. 17 Stationary Hospital near LANCASHIRE LANDING.

10am. Received instructions that the evacuation of HELLES had been decided on. Received orders from GOC 13th Division that I was to remain together with my two Field Ambulances (1/1st and 1/3rd) to carry out the RAMC duties on the Left Sub-Section during this period. The DADMS (Major SKELTON) of the 13th Division to act as my DADMS.

11am. Issued orders to both 1/1st and 1/3rd Field Ambulances that equipment

6pm. Received 13th Division Operation Order No 11.

8pm. VIII Army Corps Memorandum received. Medical arrangements for the final period of evacuation.

In conformity with this the personnel of both Field Ambulances combined is to be reduced during the first period to 10 officers and 220 other ranks.

Surgeon Major Albert Hilton

Albert Hilton was born in June 1868 in Ashton under Lyne to James and Mary Hilton (née Buckley). James Hilton owned, and was the publican of, the Collier’s Arms Inn.  Albert was the youngest of nine children but not all of his brothers and sisters survived into adulthood; his older brother, and namesake, Albert dying after just 3 weeks’ life in 1864, another brother Joshua dying as an infant in 1853.

Surgeon-Major Dr. Albert Hilton

In 1871 Albert was living with his parents, four older brothers, older sister Elizabeth and his adopted sister Alice Brierly, at the Colliers Arms Inn, Ashton. His three oldest brothers working as Felt Hatters. His oldest brother, George Hilton, owned a small hat manufacturing business and was living with his wife, infant son and a domestic servant on King Street in Ashton.

Ten years later, in 1881, George’s hat manufacturing business had grown but his wife had died and so he and his four children had moved back to live with the family. By this time, James Hilton had retired and moved to King Street and so Albert lived with his parents, his brother George and his young family and two of Albert’s older brothers, and his sister Elizabeth.

Albert’s father died in 1882, when Albert was 14, and his mother died 7 years later just as Albert was embarking on his medical studies. Consequently, Albert moved to live with his brother George’s family, George having remarried.

Albert matriculated in June 1889 at the Central Board School, Manchester and went on to study Preliminary Science, (excluding Biology), at Owens College, Manchester in July 1890 followed by Biology in January 1891. With this foundation, he passed his Medicine and Therapeutics, Pathology and Midwifery examinations in March 1896 followed by his Surgical Anatomy and Operative Manipulation, Instruments, Bandaging and Appliances, Surgery and Surgical Pathology examinations in April. Upon passing all of his examinations he was granted the Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (L.S.A.), entitling him to practice Medicine, Surgery and Midwifery and enabling him to compete for Medical Appointments in the Army, Navy, and India Services, also for Poor Law Appointments. Now a qualified and licensed medical practitioner, in 1897 he setup his medical practice in Hurst, Ashton under Lyne.

He was commissioned into the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment, as Surgeon-Lieutenant on August 23, 1899 and promoted to Surgeon-Captain on November 8, 1902. He also became a Freemason on February 15, 1900 joining the Lodge of Fidelity, Ashton under Lyne, the same lodge that Ned Stringer would later join in 1906.

By 1905 Dr. Hilton, LSA had been appointed Surgeon for the Lancashire County Constabulary & St. John’s Ambulance Brigade and in such capacity was called to crime scenes, performed autopsies and presented evidence at inquests. He was also a member of the British Medical Association and at one point held the position of President of the Ashton under Lyne Division.

At the Hurst District Council meeting of Thursday September 19, 1907 Dr. Albert Hilton was appointed Medical Officer of Health temporarily for a period of six months at a salary of £15, at a rate of £30 per annum, after the death of Dr. Cooke, the previous appointee. Dr. Hilton was later appointed to a permanent position holding it until 1912 and authoring the annual “Reports on Sanitary Condition of USD of Hurst”, during this period.

In 1907 an act of parliament changed the Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries (L.S.A.) to Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery of the Society of Apothecaries (L.M.S.S.A.). The 1914 Medical Register shows Albert Hilton listed as “L.S.A. Lond., 1896; L.M.S.S.A. Lond., 1908” although the Society of Apothecaries holds no records of him passing any such examinations in 1908.
Also in 1908, the 9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force was formed and Captain-Surgeon Albert Hilton retained his rank and precedence along with the other officers and men of the battalion. On July 12, 1911 he was promoted to Surgeon-Major and remained at this rank.

In 1912 he was awarded the Diploma in Public Health (DPH) from Manchester University while working at the Manchester Royal Infirmary and the same year he became a Fellow of the Society of Medical Officers of Health.

At the outbreak of war, he was mobilised with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and sailed with the battalion to Egypt serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. While the battalion were stationed under canvas at Heliopolis, Major Hilton became ill and was admitted to the Citadel Hospital in Cairo.

Writing to his sister on March 4, 1915 2/Lt. Ned Stringer said:

Poor Albert Hilton, as you know, died yesterday and we have buried him in the English cemetery at Old Cairo today. He has not shown any sign of improvement since we left England but has had many days of sickness from time to time. Last Sunday he went to the Canal battlefield, returned to Camp about midnight & on Monday he was taken with what was thought to be enteric fever. He was removed to hospital on Wednesday and he died Thursday from meningitis, so that his old complaint claimed him at last. I shall miss him much as he & I have been very pally since we came here & such men cannot be replaced.

Cpl. Thomas Valentine, of the battalion’s Band, noted in his journal on March 5th:

We are going on a very painful duty today, that is to play the Death March for our Doctor, Major Hilton, who died at the Citadel Hospital after a very short illness. And we buried him in the soldier’s cemetery, Cairo.

The British Medical Journal of May 8, 1915 carried a short tribute:

Major, Albert Hilton, R.A.M.C. (T.F.), died on service in Egypt on March 4th, as recorded in the casualties in the April Army List. He was educated at Owens College and at the Royal Infirmary, Manchester, and took the diploma of L.S.A. in 1896 and the D.P.H. of Manchester in 1912.

He practiced at Hurst, Ashton-under-Lyne, and was medical officer of Hurst Union District and surgeon to the Lancashire County Constabulary. He had served as President of the Ashton-under-Lyne Division of the British Medical Association. He was a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health, and a member of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. He entered the auxiliary forces as medical officer on August 23rd, 1899, attained the rank of Major on July 12th, 1911, and was Medical Officer of the 9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

The Stalybridge Reporter carried a short article reporting his death on March 6, 1915:

ALBERT HILTON

Territorial Officer’s Death in Cairo

HURST MEDICAL OFFICER

Just as we go to press, we regret to have to announce the death of Dr. A. Hilton, surgeon-major in the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials, and medical officer of health for Hurst.

Yesterday (Friday) a cablegram was received containing the announcement that death took place on Thursday at Cairo.

Major Hilton, who was 47 years of age, left with the Ashton battalion for Egypt in September last. For a year or two previously his health had not been of the best, but from reports received the change of climate appeared to have had very beneficial results. Details of the illness which brought about his death are lacking

For many years he was engaged as a medical practitioner in Hurst, and he occupied the position of medical officer of health for the Hurst Urban District Council, and also for the Ashton, Stalybridge and District Joint Smallpox Hospital Board. A Conservative in politics, he was formerly one of the representatives of the East and West Wards in the Hurst District Council, where he served the community to the best of his ability, and proved himself to be a very popular representative.

When the war broke out, he played an important part, as an officer of the Army Medical Corps, in the medical inspection of the recruits at the Barracks, and large numbers of men passed through his hands. A man of many parts, he was extremely popular among the officers and men of the battalion. He had a fund of humour, and at many of the social gatherings he has enlivened the proceedings and caused much mirth by his humerous sketches and pianoforte accompaniments by himself. He was remarkably well read and informed on almost any variety of subject, and took a humerous pleasure in starting a conversation on some abstruse and out-of-the-way subject on which he shed an amazing amount of information. He was a member of the Warrington and Union Clubs, Ashton, the flags of which were hoisted half-mast as a mark of respect.

He was gazetted surgeon-lieutenant of the 3rd V. B. Manchester Regiment on August 23rd, 1899; surgeon-captain on November 24th, 1902; and major of the Royal Army medical Corps in July 12th, 1911.

Notes:

  1. The Warrington Club, established in 1874, occupied a fine building in the Early English style near Mossley road, comprising billiard, conversation, whist, dining and directors’ rooms, together with a bowling green and croquet and tennis lawns and a pavilion in which entertainments were held. In 1904 there were around 200 members.
  2. The Union Club, in Old street, established in 1868, was exclusively confined to the professional and military gentlemen of the town and the officers at the barracks.  In 1904 there were around 60 members.

 

Major Albert Hilton, LSA, DPH died on March 4, 1915 at the Citadel Hospital, Cairo. He was 47 years old. He is buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery, about 4km south of Kasr-El-Nil barracks where the battalion were first stationed in Egypt, and commemorated on the University of Manchester War Memorial, Main Quadrangle.

Remarkably, for a military officer on active service overseas in 1915, he died intestate and his sister Elizabeth was appointed administratrix.

Acknowledgements:

Many thanks to The Society of Apothecaries for their patience and their assistance in uncovering the details of the medical qualifications of Surgeon-Major Albert Hilton.

Major William Henry Archbutt

William Henry Archbutt was born on September 10, 1860 in Lambeth to William Edwards Archbutt and Sarah Archbutt (née Dillamore). William Edwards Archbutt was a successful Pawnbroker and they lived in a large house with five servants in Lambeth. William Henry Archbutt had three older sisters: Sarah, Violet and Maude.

After attending school and completing his education he then studied to become a brewer and by 1891, he had moved to Bedfordshire. On April 8, 1896 he married Annie Moul, in Surbiton Surrey but by 1901 they had moved to 235 Bramhall Lane, Stockport and William was the manager of Bell’s Brewery, Stockport. He was Gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the 3rd Volunteer Battalion, the Manchester Regiment on July 13, 1901 and two years later on February 4, 1903 promoted to Lieutenant. He was promoted to Captain on February 11, 1905 retaining his rank when the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment was formed in April 1908 and on July 17, 1913 he was promoted to Major.

At the outbreak of war, he was mobilised with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and on his 54th birthday he sailed with the battalion to Egypt serving with them there throughout their training and preparations for action. While the battalion were stationed at Abbassia barracks, Major Archbutt became ill and was admitted to hospital on January 26, 1915 suffering from gall stones. His service record provides the following details:

Patient was admitted to hospital Jan 26, 1915 suffering from acute Cholecystitis.

The attack commenced in the early morning, two days before admission. Patient was then seized with acute pain in the epigastric region; this pain subsequently moved to area of the 9th rib on right side and had remained there ever since. He had not vomited, nor felt sick. The bowels had been freely opened two days before admission.

Disease:               Cholecystitis [inflammation of the gallbladder] Cardiac Failure

On Admission: Temperature 100.8. Pulse 74.
Tongue very furred; breath foul. There was considerable pain over upper segment right rectus [Rectus Abdominis muscle] in which also there was marked Tenderness & rigidity. That night Morphia 1/4 grain was given.

Jan 27: Morning Temperature 100.6. Pulse 64.
Patient had passed a good night; pain & tenderness slightly less. Jubol given night & morning as intestinal disinfectant, and also Urotropine as biliary disinfectant.
Evening temp: 99.4. Simple enema. Good result.

Jan 28: Morning Temp: Normal. Pulse: 74
Patient had had comfortable night. B.O. 2.
Evening Temp: 99. Pulse: 72.

Jan 29: Morning Temp: 99.2. Pulse 64.
Pain & tenderness less; rigidity absent on gentle palpitation.
Evening Temp: 99

Jan 30: Morning Temp: 98.2. Pulse 64
Patient very comfortable. Slight tenderness over gall bladder. Light food ordered.

Jan 31: Temperature & Pulse Normal
On this day patient was seen with me by Col. Bird, Consulting Surgeon AIF; he concurred in the diagnosis and agreed that an operation was not necessary.

Feb 1-7:
Condition normal. tenderness over gall bladder subsided until it was absent. On Feb 3rd, Patient began to eat an ordinary diet and to get up for several hours after lunch.

On Feb 5th, he was examined as to whether an invaliding board would be necessary. The result of that examination was as follows: –

Previous History. This was excellent. Patient had never had a serious illness before and had always led an active life. About eighteen months ago he suffered from Catarrhal Otitis Media [Inner ear infection] which was said to be of gouty origin. Under dietary precautions this quickly cleared up. At the same time, he suffered slightly from indigestion which however soon yielded to treatment.

Present Condition. General condition excellent though there is well marked Arcus Senilis [ring around the irises of the eye, seen as normal in a man of his age] present.

Nervous System: Normal

Circulatory System: Heart normal in size. Slightly accentuated second sound. Action regular. No bruits [sound made in the blood vessels resulting from turbulence].

Pulse: Regular (68-72) & strong. Slightly high in tension but no more than normal in a man of his age.

Vessels: Slight arteriosclerosis present

Urological System: Normal. Urine: Slight deposit Phosphates. No albumen or sugar.

Digestive System: Normal. Slight tenderness over gall bladder still remaining.

It was reported that an invaliding board was not necessary.

Feb 8th:
On the morning of this day, he reported himself “very well” and asked to be allowed to get up before lunch. This he was allowed to do and on the same day was transferred to the Officer’s Hospital. He spent a quiet and comfortable afternoon and evening and when advised by the Sister to go to bed early asked to be allowed to stay up as he felt so well.

Having dined about 7:30pm he was proceeding to his bedroom when he fell. He was placed on the bed and complained of inability to breathe. His face was pale and clammy, his pulse slow and small. He stated that he had no pain in his chest or abdomen; the latter being quite flaccid and painless. Strychnine and Ether were administered and later, artificial respiration applied but with no avail. The choking sensation became more marked, the pulse slower and more feeble and finally stopped and he died about 8pm.

J.C. Jefferson, Lt. R.A.M.C. (T)

Major William Henry Archbutt died on February 8, 1915 in military hospital in Cairo. He was 54 years old. He was buried in the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery about 4km south of Kasr-El-Nil barracks where the battalion were first stationed in Cairo.

The following article was published in the February 13, 1915 edition of the Ashton Reporter:

We regret to announce the death, which took place at Cairo on Tuesday 8th February, of Major William Henry Archbutt, of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Ashton Territorials. On Wednesday morning the Mayor of Ashton, Colonel C.R. Wainwright, T.D., D.L. received a communication that Major Archbutt had died from heart failure at the age of 54 years. This brief announcement, which was received by cablegram, elicited expressions of regret in military and social circles in Ashton, where Major Archbutt was well known and greatly respected. All admired the splendid patriotism and the spirit of self-sacrifice with which he volunteered for foreign service on behalf of his country’s cause when the war broke out, and all admired too, the genial personality and camaraderie of the man in civilian sense, and the cheerful fortitude with which he applied himself to the task in hand. He gave himself up whole heartedly to the cause, and thereby set an example to the rank and file of the battalion and to others which is worthy of emulation. Although not in the best of health when war broke out, he volunteered for foreign service, and readily placed himself at the disposal of the military authorities.

Major Archbutt was Gazetted 2nd Lieut. in the 3rd Battalion, Manchester Regiment on 30th July 1901. He was appointed first Lieutenant on 4th February 1903, Captain on 11th February 1905, and Major on 17th July 1913, on which date he was granted the field officers certificate. He qualified in musketry at Preston on 30th July 1904. He resided in Bramhall Lane, Stockport. For many years he was manager of Bell’s Brewery, Stockport.

Cpl. Thomas Valentine’s Journal

 

Corp. T. Valentine
243 C. Coy. Band
1/9th Manchester Regt
Egypt & Dardanelles 1914 & 1915

Corporal Thomas Valentine (standing, back row, far right) with the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment Band in Egypt.

9th Battalion Manchester Regiment Band
Copyright Imperial War Museum

 

Wed Sept 9, 1914

The Camp at Bury today is a terrible state flooded out with heavy rain. Glad when we got orders to pack up and be ready to move any minute. Marched out at tea time and entrained for unknown destination at 8pm.

Thurs Sept 10th

Arrived at Southampton at 8 o’ clock am after a 12 hours journey. Embarked at 11pm. Set sail at midnight but I was in my hammock so did not see her start.

Friday Sept 11th

Got up at 5:00 this morning to find the ship miles at seas. 7:15 breakfast very interesting to watch the shipping all passing us and porpoises jumping out of the water. Dinner time, the ship is now at anchor waiting for all the other transports assembling, while we are waiting a Warship is bringing a German prize into port past us. Went to bed ship still at anchor. Set sail at midnight.

Sat Sept 12th

Got up at reveille to find the ship rolling very much and began to feel rather uncomfortable. Could not face my breakfast. Same at dinner time. Ditto for tea. Hundreds sick all over the ship. The Arogan, that is the ship’s name, is a terror for rolling. Got my hammock slung up and turned in for the night. Hope for better luck tomorrow.

Sun Sept 13th

Got up at reveille still feeling sick. Could not face anything to eat again today. Another day’s fast doing well. If I keep on there will be nothing left. Ship rolling very much crossing the Bay of Biscay. Turned in to my hammock which is the only place where I feel comfortable.

Mon Sept 14th

Got up this morning felling a little better but nothing to swank about. Managed to get a bit of breakfast down but had to leave the table in a hurry and go and feed the fish again but got better as the day went on. Had a good dinner which stayed where I had put it. Also had a good tea and am feeling myself again. Band played for an hour on upper deck tonight. Ships signaling to each other all lights out, so I turned in and went to bed.

Tuesday Sept 15th

Still at sea, no land in sight. Getting in warmer climate. Got orders to take our shoes and stockings off today feel like walking about undressed. Scorching hot. My Company on guard today. It looks a treat to see all the Transports lit up at night all sailing as close together as possible and there are 16 ships escorted by 4 warships.

Wed Sept 16th

Slept on deck last night as we had to be on guard throughout the night. Sea calm. Grand sailing now. A large whale passed close by our ship this morning and we had a good view of it spouting the water up.

Thurs Sep 17th

Got up this morning to find the ship sailing along the Portuguese coast which we could see quite plain. We have now run into a fog which is very annoying. The fog horn is blowing every minute which nearly deafens us. A torpedo boat came alongside and the Captain shouted to our Captain the distance to Gibraltar which we are eagerly looking for. 11 o’ clock the fog has now lifted and Gibraltar Rock is in full view. It is a grand sight. The sun shining on it just like a panorama or Belle Vue scenery worth paying pounds to see. Suddenly bursting in view out of the fog it is beyond description. We are now anchored in the Bay, Gib on our right and the town of Tangier on the Morocco Coast on our left. Plenty of boats round us selling all sorts of things. Set sail at 6:00pm and we are going full speed and Gib is now disappearing from sight as I am turning in to bed.

Friday Sept 18th

Scorching hot. We are going about the ship with nothing on but our trousers. We are in midst of the Mediterranean now. Today the fire alarm went. Every man had to be at his post ready to man the boats with lifebelts on. It was quite an exciting time. Of course, we practice for this every morning and every man knows his place but this time the alarm went while we were having our tea and we thought it was a real fire but it was a false alarm, just for a test, and we were not sorry. Nothing but water in sight. Get weary of looking at it so turn in to bed.

Sat Sept 19th

This is the second Saturday on board and the scenery is just the same; nothing but water wherever you look. It burns our feet to walk on deck. It is getting monotonous, the same thing day after day and the same view. Water on every side and when we go to bed at midnight it is like going into an oven for our Company is down in the bottom of the ship and we dread bedtime coming and are glad when it is time to get up in the morning.

Sunday Sept 20th

Good breeze this morning. Ship rolling very much again, she is a terror for rolling. There are a good few sick this morning and I am nothing to swank about. They keep dogging us to be inoculated and I am getting about sick of it. We are getting near Malta and we are all on the look out for a sight of it. We had church service on the upper deck this morning. The ship’s doctor acted as parson. We, the band, had to sit down on deck while we played the hymns as we could not stand-up owing to the ship rolling so much. It is amusing to watch the men. The officer calls attention as the spring to attention the ship rolls over on one side and all the go over too, like a set of skittles.

We had rather a sorrowful duty today. We had to stand to our quarters for a funeral which is a very solemn job, for one of the men on the horse boat fell down the hatchway and broke his neck and he was buried in the Mediterranean. All the ships came to a stop while the ceremony was over.

Monday Sept 21st

A lovely morning, sea calm like sailing on the Park lake. We are now in right off the African coast. Enjoying all my meals and feeling in the pink of condition. We are passing Malta tonight. We are all disappointed at not stopping as there are any amount of letters to post off so they will have to go to the end of the journey with us.

Tuesday Sept 22nd

Got up this morning to find Malta well out of sight, nothing but the open sea to look at. This afternoon we passed a fleet of 22 transports conveying troops from India to France with about 30,000 troops onboard. The sailors that worked on the ship regular, said it was the finest sight they had ever seen in mid ocean; 40 ships including our ships and the Warship escorts all close together.

Wed Sept 23rd

Nothing fresh this morning only the same old view, water. The only change in the scene is the porpoises jumping up out of the water. This evening one of our lads, named Bridge, died from pneumonia and they stopped all music at once. I forgot to mention that the band played on the upper deck every night and we were playing the time of his death but it was stopped at once and it cast a gloom all over the ship.

Note: Pte. 1705 John Bridge is commemorated on the Chatby Memorial, Alexandria.

Thurs Sept 24th

Got up this morning at Reveille to see the same old view, water. This morning they buried the lad Bridge at sea. It is a very sad scene; I can assure you, a funeral at sea.  It upset a lot of us when the Bugles sounded the Last Post and we saw his body slide into the sea, and so near the end of our journey. When we saw one buried from the horse boat the other day, we little thought we should bury one so soon.

Friday Sept 25th

Got up this morning to find the ship in the Bay at Alexandria. After 15 days at sea, we are waiting for the Pilot to come aboard to take us in. Dinner time, the Pilot has come on board and we are now going into the harbour which is a grand sight after being so long at sea. We are now anchored in the harbour but we are not disembarking today. But we are amusing ourselves with watching the Egyptian kiddies diving for coppers which we throw into the sea but they never fail to bring them up. And all sorts of boats round the ship selling fruit and cigarettes and some of them look like pirates and cutthroats I have read about when I went to school. We are all ready to get our feet on dry land once more.

Sat 26th Sept

We are still on board waiting our turn to disembark which is rather a big job with 16 Transports but we are very much disappointed when we are told we shall not disembark till morning.

Sunday Sept 27th

Everybody is busy this morning getting ready to land and getting their equipment put together. Had dinner onboard and then landed. It is quite exciting mixing among the natives, all jabbering about something we could not understand. We are busy loading bales of clothing and cases of sun helmets on the train which is drawn up alongside the steamer. The right half of the battalion has gone on to Cairo and we, the Band, follow with the left half, later on. Left Alexandria at 5:30 and arrived at Cairo at 11pm after a very interesting journey. The scenery from the train looked just like pictures of the Holy land. We marched from the station to the barracks at Kasr-el-Nil and were shown to our quarters and got lay down about 2am. Turned out we did not bother about beds, it was too warm, but just lay on the veranda and went to sleep.

Monday Sept 28th

Got up this morning to find our eyes closed up with mosquito bites. About half the Band, including myself were nearly worried with them. These barracks are a fine set of buildings occupied by the Highland Light Infantry who we are relieving. They are going to France.

It is quite a novelty to us, barracks life, but we are getting settled down to it. But the biggest trouble we have is the money; we cannot recon it up but the native bloke behind the bar can recon it up for us and he keeps diddling us out of our change so we shall soon learn.

Tuesday Sept 29th

New clothing issued today. Light drill khaki and we are fitted on by the regimental tailor who is a native. Sun helmets issued also today. And no man is allowed to go out of barracks until his clothes are made to fit him. And we begin to look like soldiers and are getting quite smart.

We are not allowed to go out of barracks yet but we can see all traffic going up and down the road from the windows; all sorts. Donkeys and camels and people of every nationality but the natives all see to have a donkey. Now and then a little donkey will come down the road carrying two big fellows with their feet almost touching the ground. Then a donkey and cart loaded with about a dozen native women, cowering down on it, will come along. Then the bus will come, drawn by two donkeys. It is quite a pantomime to watch them. Then a motor car of the latest make will come dashing past with the occupants dressed to death. You see the two extremes; the very rich and the very poor. I must not forget it is my birthday too. I never thought I should spend my 44th birthday in Egypt.

Wednesday Sept 30th

Nothing fresh today. Still confined to barracks. Busy with the clothing getting them all rigged out properly. We are all spoiling to get have a look round the town.

Thursday Oct 1st

Still confined to barracks which is getting a bit monotonous. Drew our pay today. 40 piastres, 8s-4d in English money.

Friday Oct 2nd

We are to be allowed out tonight if we are good boys. Went out to night with a corporal who has been stationed here 4 years so he knows his way about and he took me all over the place and showed me some of the sights. That opened my eyes. And drove back in a carriage and pair, 3 piastres or 7 ½ d in English money. They will take 5 persons for that. The police rule their fares, if they want to charge you more just call the native police and hat settles it.

Saturday Oct 3rd

Drew all my back pay today for 3 weeks and it seemed such a lot of money in Egyptian. The piastres and half piastres. It is amusing to watch the lads trying to recon their money up. The 20 piastres pieces are as big as a can lid, nearly, so if you get a few of them in your trouser pocket you are walking lopsided with money, (I don’t think).

Sunday Oct 4th

Had church parade in the Garrison Church and was glad when it was over. It was so warm they have two big punkahs hanging from the ceiling and two natives at the back of the church pulling them backwards and forwards to keep the place as cool as possible.

Went to the Pyramids and the Sphinx this afternoon. It is a grand sight and it makes one wonder how they got such large stones, over a ton weight, such a height for the longest pyramid is 450 high. And just as we got there, we saw one of the Engineers being carried away on a stretcher. He had been climbing up the big pyramid and when he was half way up he missed his footing and fell down and smashed his skull and died. Later on, the Sphinx looks a mighty giant on the desert with his nose broken off. The native guide told is that the great Napoleon shot it away when he was in Egypt, but they will tell you anything for ‘backshee’, as they call a tip.

Monday Oct 5th

Nothing fresh today. Had a walk round the town tonight and we have to parade before an Officer to see that we are clean and smart before we are allowed out. The General in command of the troops in Egypt is very strict on that as he says we should lose our prestige with the natives if they saw any slackness or untidiness, and they look on us as regular troops.

Tuesday Oct 6th

Nothing fresh, only the ordinary routine of drill today.

Wednesday Oct 7th

Had our first Band practice today. Had 3 or 4 hours good practice. Now is the time for some of the young bandsmen to make themselves into good musicians for we have nothing else to do but play the battalion on parade, and on the march, and on the Officer’s Mess at night so we get plenty of playing.

Thursday Oct 8th

Started today with my old complaint and lay on my cot all day unable to stir. Sent Harold for some liniment and he gave me a good rubbing with it which gave me a bit of ease and got to sleep.

Note: Thomas suffered from Rheumatism. ‘Harold’ is Pte. 1947 Harold Rhodes. Harold was the sweetheart of Thomas’s oldest daughter Florrie. Harold joined the Territorials just before the outbreak of war, in May 1914.

Friday Oct 9th

No better this morning. Had another rotten day. Reported myself sick tonight. I shall have to parade before the Doctor at 4:30am in the morning. A nice time for a sick man to get up but it is so hot in the daytime that all the drills and different duties have to be done before the sun gets too hot.

Note: The battalion’s Medical Officer was Surgeon Major Albert Hilton.

Saturday Oct 10th

No better this morning. Reveille sounded at 4am. Band went out on a route march with the battalion but I could not go with them as I had to parade before the Doctor. This afternoon the Band had to attend a military funeral but I had to be at the Doctor’s at 5:00 for medicine. Feeling rotten.

Sunday Oct 11th

Got up this morning with the same old pain. Another bad day lying about the room all day. Cannot go out. Harold gave me a rubbing with liniment which gave me relief and went to sleep.

Monday Oct 12th

Went to the Doctor’s again this morning at 5 o’ clock but there was about 50 waiting. Fancy all them men ill and when the Doctor comes the Orderly shouts attention and you have to jump up to attention, whether you are half dead or not. Went back to my cot and got down. Hoping for better luck tomorrow.

Tuesday Oct 13th

Got up this morning feeling just a little better and felt better as the day went on, but not up to the mark yet. The battalion are going on a route march tonight but I cannot go as I am not fit yet.

Wednesday Oct 14th

Had a bad night’s rest last night. Feeling rotten which lasted all day. Lying about all over the place for ease. A good job for me I am in the Band as I can stop off parade without being missed. Our names are always marked present on the Company roll calls.

Thursday Oct 15th

Had a fairly good night’s rest last night. Feeling a little better but not up to the mark yet. Received your welcome letter tonight as I was sat in the barrack room by myself, quite miserable. The Band were playing on the Officer’s Mess but I could not go and it took a load off my mind to hear from you and the children.

Friday Oct 16th

Got up this morning feeling a little better and improving very nicely, but not fit for duty yet. Another route march tonight for the battalion but I could not go with them.

Saturday Oct 17th

Got up this morning with the same old pain but went a little better as the day went on. Went out for a walk tonight to try and walk this damned pain away. First time out of barracks for 8 days after 8 day’s torture.

Sunday Oct 18th

Went on Church Parade with the band this morning but cannot get rid of this pain yet. It is hard work trying to put a good face on when you are screwed up with pain. After Church Parade we had to play for an hour on the barracks square then went and lay down to rest my old back.

Monday Oct 19th

Still the old pain keeps sticking to me. It feels as if it would never leave me.

Tuesday Oct 20th

About the same again today, nothing fresh.

Wednesday Oct 21st

Getting better every day and the pain is gradually going away and god speed it.

Thursday Oct 22nd

Still improving.

Friday Oct 23rd

Alright once again. It feels that life is worth living once again. Received a letter from our Martha today and wrote some letters home and posted them off.

Note: ‘Our Martha’ is his younger sister.

Saturday Oct 24th

Nothing fresh, only the ordinary routine of drill.

Sunday Oct 25th

The Band playing the battalion out to church this morning. The natives crowd along the walls to watch us march to church and when we are in the church we act as the organ and play all the psalms and chants and accompany the singing.

This afternoon we are playing at the Esbekiah Gardens which are the public gardens of Cairo, and all the Knuts of Cairo go there. They have to pay 5 piastres, or a shilling in English, for admission, soldiers free. It is a fine place, all sorts of tropical shrubs and trees, date palms, gum trees, India rubber trees, all growing in the open air.

Esbekiah Gardens Bandstand
Copyright National Army Museum

Monday Oct 26th

Today we went on a long route march with the battalion on the desert. It is very interesting on these route marches going through the native villages. All sorts of Egyptians, Arabs, Turks, Syrians; all staring with their eyes open to the back of their head and the little kiddies running after us following the Band and the women stare at us over their yashmaks, the thing they wear over their faces, with nothing only their eyes peeping out. But we got back all right, tired out.

Tuesday Oct 27th

Went out again today on the same march, past the dead city which is a part of old Cairo which was wiped out through a plague full of flies. At least that is what the natives tell us. The General came with us today and saw how we were all knocked out of time so he has stopped us for going that route march again and we are not sorry.

Wednesday Oct 28th

Went out again today on a nice, easy march, just across the Nile, today for drill on the gold links. It is a lovely spot. We marched across the Kasr-el-Nil Bridge which is a fine bridge with two big bronze lions at the entrance, as if they were on guard. And it is crowded with traffic, camels 5 or 6 strung together and donkeys all loaded with goods for the market at Cairo.

Thursday Oct 29th

Another long march on the desert today but a bit easier than the other day’s march. It is the native’s Christmas holidays and thousands of the natives passed us on the road, some on camels, some on donkeys, and hundreds of women on donkey carts. They were all making their way to the dead city and their burial ground close by. There is a place close to old Cairo called Babylon but it is not the Babylon mentioned in the bible.

The battalion goes out again tonight but us, the Band, are not going out with them as we have to play on Officer’s Mess.

Note: October 29, 1914 was the 9th day of Dhu al-Hijjah; the Day of Arafah and Eid al-Adha.

Friday Oct 30th

No parade today giving the men a rest and it is pay day. I am waiting patiently for a letter, only had one up to now. It is Christmas Day today with the natives, so we can say we have seen two Christmases in one year.

Saturday Oct 31st

A big show parade today of the whole Division just to let the natives see what a force of troops there is in Egypt. The parade was over 4 miles long and it created a great impression on the natives which is all that it was intended to do, just to keep them in order.

Sunday Nov 1st

Confined to barracks during the native’s holiday.

Monday Nov 2nd

Still confined to barracks. Natives rioting and fighting among themselves. Guards turned out for all the Embassies. The British, French and Russian Embassies are all guarded and martial law proclaimed.

Tuesday Nov 3rd

Still confined to barracks. No man allowed out unless with an armed escort. The postman has to have an escort and the transport wagons, with our food, have to be guarded. We have been going through our instruction in stretcher bearing and first aid ambulance work in our spare time. And we are being inspected tomorrow.

Wednesday Nov 4th

Today we were inspected by the B.M.O. [Brigade Medical Officer] and he gave us a very good report. He said we were the smartest lot of stretcher bearers in the whole brigade and he was so pleased with our work that he said he would forward a good report of us to the Commander in chief.

We were allowed out tonight, the first time for a week owing to the holidays for their Christmas, but we have to take our bayonets with us for our own protection.

Thursday Nov 5th

Received quite a lot of letters today which are very welcome. Nothing fresh today. While we are playing on the Mess the Officers have a lit a bonfire and they are burning old Kaiser Bill’s effigy.

Friday Nov 6th

Went out on a route march today. Nothing fresh, only they are jobs what with the neat and the dust. It makes the canteen a busy shop for a time after we are dismissed.

Sat Nov 7th

Stopped in barracks today and had a good rehearsal, after which we have to clean our rooms up for the Colonel’s inspection.

Sunday Nov 8th

Church Parade as usual. Nothing fresh.

Monday Nov 9th

The usual routine of stretcher drill and Band rehearsal. Tonight, I am going on duty as corporal of the town piquet. We march to the Mousky Karakol, which is the native police station, and remain there in case there is any bother with the troops. Then the police would call our assistance.

Note: El Mosky, (el Mousky), is a district in Cairo. Karakol is an Ottoman word for a form of police station.

Tuesday Nov 10th

Got back to the barracks last night about 11pm. Our services were not required but we saw them flog one of the natives at 8 o’ clock. Today I am on gate duty. It is amusing to watch the natives buying scraps of meat. There is a man makes a contract to buy all the food that is left from our meals and he sends one or two natives to gather it up, then it is taken outside the barracks and sold to anybody who cares to buy. It would make anybody sick to watch them. It just looks like swill potatoes, meat and pudding, all mixed up together. There is a big native woman sat down on the footpath selling it. She dips her dirty hands in and slats a handful in a paper for ½ piastre. It nearly turned me sick.

Wednesday Nov 11th

On town picquet again tonight. Saw two natives flogged tonight; one a man the other a boy, at 8:00. And everybody else that has been on town picquet say they have seen somebody flogged, so I came to the conclusion that somebody had to be flogged at 8 o’ clock whether they had done anything wrong or not. But I will try to describe how they do it. The prisoner is brought out in the yard and he is seized by four policemen, one hold of each foot and one hold of each arm and a fifth with the prisoner’s head between his legs. They stretch him out as far as they can. Then there are two policemen, one on each side, with a large cane and on the word from the sergeant they lay on to him with their sticks as hard as they can until he has had the number of strokes he had been sentenced to. But when it came to the boy and we saw him wriggling and screaming with pain, we could not stand that and some of the lads shouted to the police to stop or they would put a bullet through them. And I felt like myself, but of course we dare not to interfere.

Thursday Nov 12th

On guard today for 24 hours. Come off tomorrow. Nothing fresh.

Friday Nov 13th

Relieved from guard duty tonight and went round the town. Saw Cairo fire brigade turn out tonight and they are very smart. All the men are ex-soldiers of the Egyptian Army and all motor fire engine and fire escapes, and everything up to date.

Saturday Nov 14th

Nothing striking today. Our cleaning up day. All busy getting our rooms cleaned up.

Sunday Nov 15th

Church Parade as usual. Went through the Cairo Museum this afternoon which is a sight of a lifetime. To see all the great statues that have been excavated after being buried thousands of years and Mummies of the old Kings of Egypt almost as perfect as if they had only just died. And the big stone coffins. The mummies were put in long wooden coffins and then in the stone ones. And old-fashioned boats that have been fished up from the bottom of the Nile.

Monday Nov 16th

Marched to Abbassia today for 3-days musketry practice at the ranges on the desert.

Tuesday Nov 17th

In camp on the desert going through our course of musketry. One of our lads was accidentally shot the other day, the bullet going through his hand and grazed his leg.

Wednesday Nov 18th

Still doing our firing.

Thursday Nov 19th

Finishing our firing and getting ready to march back to our barracks.

Friday Nov 20th

Marched back to barracks today. Tired out and ready for bed.

Friday Nov 27th

Nothing fresh for the last day or two. Today we have to attend a funeral and play the dead march for one of our lads who died in the Citadel Hospital. He was only admitted yesterday and is being buried today. Rather quick work.

Note: Pte. 1845 Frederick Thorley Finucane died of dysentery on November 27, 1914. He is buried at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery. He was just 15 years old and attested with his parent’s permission in the week following the big recruiting drive in Ashton on Valentine’s Day 1914.

Sunday Dec 13th

Nothing fresh for the last few days, only the usual routine of barracks life; drills and plenty of Band practice, which is improving our Band very much. And we are getting our share of engagements in Cairo and the audiences that go to Esbekiah Gardens think there is no band like the Kasr-el-Nil band, that is what they call us. We always finish our programme with the National airs to please the audience as they are mixtures of Egyptians, French, Italians and Russians. In fact, from all parts of the world.

Today we have got orders that we are to move to Abbassia tomorrow for a fortnight’s training in the desert.

Monday Dec 14th

Marched to the main barracks at Abbassia where we relived the Lancashire Fusiliers. They are taking our place at Kasr-el-Nil barracks. This place is a second Aldershot for troops. Barracks all over the place, including native barracks for Soudanese troops and Egyptian troops, Cavalry and Infantry.

Tuesday Dec 15th

Quite busy today getting settled in our new quarters but it is not as comfortable as Kasr-el-Nil. The rooms are big, one room will hold 100 men. It looks more like a workhouse.

Wednesday Dec 16th

Today I received your parcel with a good supply of tobacco.

Thursday Dec 17th

Went for a long march on the desert today to the third tower on the Suez Road which is about 30 miles there and back, and we had a very trying time. We were caught in a sandstorm which nearly chocked us and filled our eyes, ears and nostrils with sand and knocked us out of time.

Friday Dec 18th

Another hard day’s work in the desert. I don’t know about training us but if they were trying to kill us they could not do it better.

Dec 24th

Nothing fresh for the last day or two only plenty of hard marching on the desert. Christmas Eve we are making active preparations for a good do tomorrow, Christmas Day.

Dec 25th

We turned out early this morning and played the Christmas Hymns in the barracks square for the boys. The we went over to the Officer’s quarters and played for them. Dinner time and everybody is quite busy. All the boys are sat down at the tables fitted in the square. The sun is scorching hot and makes us think what a difference in weather between England and Egypt.

This is the one day of the year for Tommy Atkins. The officers and NCOs waiting on at the table. Plenty of roast beef, turkey, plum pudding and beer. And the Band playing selections of music during the dinner. Of course, we have our dinner after they have done; Officers and NCOs and Band together. Tonight, we had a concert in the Surtees Hall at the soldier’s club and we acted as the orchestra. And we had a good night’s fun and everyone finished up satisfied that they had had a Christmas to be remembered over 3,000 miles from home.

Dec 26th

Today there are sports for the Terriers in the Gezirah Sporting Club grounds and we are going to play. All sorts of races; donkey races, camel races and horse races, and tugs-of-war. And we, the Band, had a good supply of bottled beers which we put out of sight all night.

Dec 27th

We are just getting down to our training again after our Christmas Holidays. We are still at Abbassia barracks and we don’t look going back to Kasr-el-Nil.

Dec 28th

Another long march across the desert to a hill called Virgin’s Breast, which is an extinct volcano. There is a well on the way which is called Moses’ Well. Still at Abbassia.

Jan 30th 1915

Got orders today to be ready to move tomorrow to Heliopolis about 4 miles away. Nothing fresh for the last month, only the usual routine.

Jan 31st

Packed up and marched to our new quarters at Heliopolis where we are under canvas which does not feel as comfortable as being in barracks.

Feb 1st

Camping on the desert just outside the town of Heliopolis which is rotten at night with lizards, beetles, ants and all sorts of creeping things, and plenty of mosquitoes to keep you company with a few sand snakes thrown in.

Feb 2nd

Fighting on the Suez reported today. Our transport horses and drivers sent down to the Suez. Turks attempted to cross the canal but were driven off and all their pontoons, full of Turks, were smashed and sunk by our artillery. The Turks retired back across the desert and I don’t think will try again in a hurry.

Feb 3rd

Thousands of Australians and New Zealanders camping all around us on the desert. And it is lively at night in the town. There are some fine buildings here, it is where all the Europeans live and the Khedive’s mother lives here.

Feb 4th

Went to Cairo on the electric railway 8 miles from here for 1 piastre, which is 2 ½ d in English, first class. We can go third class for ½ piastre, or 1 ¼ d. Thousands of troops walking about Cairo streets, Australians, New Zealanders, Maoris, Indians, Ceylon Rifles, Egyptian, Soudanese and British soldiers all palling on with one another.

March 5th

We are going on a very painful duty today, that is to play the Death March for our Doctor, Major Hilton, who died at the Citadel Hospital after a very short illness. And we buried him in the soldier’s cemetery, Cairo.

The other day, while we were marching across the desert one of our transport men killed a sand snake about 4 feet long, very close to me, but I did not see it until after he had killed it.

March 6th

Went to the Citadel Mosque and by paying ½ piastre for the loan of a pair of slippers we re allowed to look through the place. It is the place of worship for Mohamedans and it is impossible to describe the beauty of its interior. There are over 1,000 electric lamps hanging on a big chandelier from the dome and hundreds of stained-glass windows, and the sun shining through them shows all colours of the rainbow across the place. And it is all built of alabaster. You can hold a lighted match behind one of the pillars and it shows through quite plain. There are no seats in, they all have to kneel on the floor, which is covered with thick Turkish carpets. And outside is a large fountain built of alabaster where they wash their hands and feet before going to worship. Also, the well where Joseph was put by his brethren.

March 25th

Nothing fresh for the last few days. We have been out on a route march today all through the cultivated part of the country. We can see all the natives working on the farms ploughing with oxen and pumping water with oxen. Oranges and bananas growing out in the open and sugar cane and cotton fields. The natives tell us they can get three crops a year of corn. We passed the Virgin’s Tree, which according to the natives is supposed to be the tree where the Virgin Mary rested against on her flight to Egypt. On our way back to camp we marched through a cloud of locusts; millions of them. It just looked like a snowstorm. They are about two or three inches long with long legs about 3 or 4 inches. The air is fairly darkened with them.

March 31st

Having a rest today. Going out on a night bivouac tonight.

April 1st

Fell in at 6 o’ clock last night and marched to Abbassia then bivouac for the night behind our old barracks. Then marched off across the desert at daybreak and then began to dig trenches and occupy them. Got back to camp about 6:00 having been on parade 24 hours, and passing all fools day very well, but when we get in the Canteen, we forget all our troubles with a quiet drink and a smoke.

April 2nd

Rioting in Cairo today with the Australians, New Zealanders and Maoris and the natives. Two or three men shot by the Military Police. Australians gone mad, going into houses and throwing furniture in the street and setting it on fire. Fire brigade turns out; hosepipe cut. They are a disgrace to the Army. Nothing but an undisciplined mob. We had to turn picquets out with fixed bayonets to clear the streets.

Saturday April 3rd

The row in Cairo is still going on. Lasted all through the night and we are all confined to barracks through them. They are all mad drunk having their Easter Holidays. But we dare not do as they do, they do as they like.

Sunday April 4th

The colonials have quietened down again and they are ashamed of themselves now. The Commander in Chief issued an order complementing all the Imperial Troops on their good behavior in not taking part in the disturbances at Cairo. That is more than we dare do.

Monday April 5th

The camp is smothered in clouds of sand today. It is the Khamsin as the natives call it and comes about this time every year. It is very stormy, strong hot winds that take all the life out of you and everyone is all of a sweat. The sand finds its way in our food and tea and in everything.

Tuesday April 6th

Still confined to camp and the Khamsin still blowing the sand all over the place. Received two- or three-weeks’ letters today.

Wednesday April 7th

Australians begin to move today for the Dardanelles. They are singing their favourite song, Australia will be there, as they are marching to the station.

Thursday April 8th

Australians and New Zealanders still on the move.

April 14th

All the colonial troops have gone from here now and it is coming our turn, we are to move tomorrow.

April 15th

Struck camp today. Quite busy packing things away. Big bonfire in the camping ground tonight. We fall in at 12pm. We are going on the Suez Canal.

April 16th

Marched out of camp last night at about 12:30 to Zoubra Station. Entrained at 2am and left for the Suez. Arrived at Kantara about 9am this morning. We are in the fighting line now, among the Indian Troops in the trenches at Kantara, on the banks of the Suez Canal. Saw an aeroplane come in damaged with a shot through his petrol tank which nearly blinded him with petrol spurting in his face.

April 17th

Thousands of Indian troops here. All sorts of Gurkhas, Sheikhs, Camel Corps and Lancers. We are busy getting our transport across the Canal which is a very slow job as we have to ferry it across. Rigging up tents and getting the camp in order. C Company go in the advanced trenches today. This is the place where the Turks attempted to cross the Canal in February.

April 18th

Still very busy getting our tackle across the Canal. This place is the remains of a native village blown up by the Engineers to have a clear course across the desert for the guns on the warships in the Canal.

April 19th

Getting settled now and in the trenches on the look-out for the Turks who are very backward at coming forward. Everything ready to give them a welcome.

April 20th

Today we played the 6th Gurkha Rifles out of Camp. They are going to the Dardanelles. The Bikaner Camel Corps are in the next trenches to us and it is amusing to watch them washing their camels in the Suez. They take them to the side and if they will not go in, they push them in and they are all round it in the water scrubbing it.

April 21st

Nothing striking today. Had a bathe in the Canal which we do every day and it is very refreshing as it is sea water. And the passengers on the ships going up and down the Canal throw tobacco over to us. It is our only chance of getting any, no shops here.

April 29th

Nothing fresh for the last day or two. A floating mine was fished up from the Canal the other day. There has been some fighting going on round here during the night. Several Indians came through our camp wounded this morning. They had been surprised during the night by a strong force of the Enemy with machine guns but they drove the Turks off. We could not see any signs of the Turks for miles on the desert today. Our Doctor, and the RAMC sergeant, went out on camels for miles on the desert with an escort of the Camel Corps to see if they could find any wounded but came back without seeing any.

April 30th

A Turkish spy brought in today with two rifles and 500 rounds of ammunition, and a suit of khaki, loaded upon the camel’s back. He was made a prisoner and the camel was handed over to the Camel Corps.

May 1st

Got orders today that we begin to take all our surplus stores across the Canal and be ready to move any time.

May 2nd

Struck camp today and taking all our baggage across the Canal which is a very slow job. Bivouac tonight in the open.

May 3rd

Another busy day getting all the tents and baggage across the Canal. Bivouac again tonight here.

Tuesday May 4th

Crossed the Canal today. Shipped all the transport on the train and we got on the open trucks with the baggage and left Kantara about 12:30pm. Arrived at Port Said about 2pm. Everyone busy unloading baggage and marched behind the station where we bivouacked for the night. Got into our English khaki and packed our drill khaki n our kit bags.

Wednesday May 5th

Instruments and baggage packed and sent to the base this morning. Went to have a look round the town and harbour this afternoon and went onboard the French Battleship Jeanne d’Arc. Also saw a seaplane skimming on the water and we saw it rise form the water and fly all over the ships in the harbour and drop down on the water again. This is the entrance to the Suez Canal any amount of warships here; English, French and American. Got back to our bivouac and had tea. Marched to the docks and embarked on the Transport Ausonia for the Dardanelles.

Thursday May 6th

Got up this morning to find the ship well out at sea and Egypt out of sight. Iron rations issued out to us Today.  We are well on our way to the Dardanelles now.

Friday May 7th

Land in sight. The Grecian Isles in the Aegean Sea sailing quite close to the shore. Sent a field postcard off today.

Saturday May 8th

Getting near the Dardanelles. Passing islands all day. Warships in sight. Lovely sailing. We can now hear the warships’ guns firing. Saturday night watching the bombardment by our warships. Big battle going on, on the peninsula. In the darkness we can see the flashes of artillery and rifle fire and shells are dropping all round the ships at anchor.

Sunday May 9th

Sunday morning 9 o’ clock. Landing under shell fire. We are now safely landed with shells flying over our heads. The guns from the warships and on the shore are blazing away at the Turkish trenches up the Peninsula. We are bivouacked on the shore at Sedd-el-Bahr, waiting orders to move. Aeroplane flying about and scores of shells dropping all around us and bursting all over the place.

8:00pm Sunday night. Ordered to advance. Marched about 2 miles then got in some dugouts for the night. Hundreds of shells flying over our heads all night, sleep out of the question. Our guns, close to where we are halted, are pumping away at the Turks all night and planes are being sent up which light the whole place up. Heavy rifle fire going on all night. Our troops driving the Turks before them.

Monday May 10th

Wounded Terriers being brought out of the firing line this morning. Shells bursting all over our position. Quieter this afternoon. Tea time, we had just lit our fires and were cooking a ration of bacon when we were suddenly ordered to advance. We are now in the advanced trenches, finishing cooking our bacon with shells and bullets whistling past us over the trench.

Tuesday May 11th

Still in the advanced trenches. Just had a fine breakfast of hard biscuit and a drop of tea. We have to do our own cooking in the trenches, as best we can, with the shells flying over us as usual. We are getting used to them now and look for them as an everyday occurrence. Just behind the trench I am in there are some graves of some of the French troops, including a Colonel and Adjutant with portions of their clothing hung on the wooden cross to show how they had died. If a man was shot through the head his helmet would be hung on the cross showing the bullet holes. If he was shot through the body his tunic would be hung up.

One of our Company wounded today. Back to our base this afternoon and told to get whatever rest we could before 11pm in our dugouts, which is simply a hole dug in the ground to hold 4 or 5 men. But got orders later that we should not move before morning.

Note: The wounded man was Lance-Corporal George James Silvester.

Wednesday May 12th

Had a rotten night last night. Rained all night, wet through this morning but soon get dry in the powerful sunshine. Marched off this morning and advanced about 2 miles and dug ourselves in.

Big battle going on this afternoon. Artillery bombarding the enemy position and heavy rifle fire going on just in front of us. We are in the reserve trenches and we can see the battle going on. The aeroplane is over the Turkish trenches dropping smoke bombs to give our artillery the range and direction. The Turks are firing at our aeroplane, shells are bursting all round him; he seems to have a charmed life. I am corporal of the lookout tonight, on guard all night watching to prevent surprise attacks.

Thursday May 13th

The battle lasted all through the night. We had our first man killed this morning. A man named ‘Gee’ looking over the trench on the lookout was shot through the mouth and killed instantly. And two more wounded, and the General’s horse was disemboweled by a shell.

Note: Pte. 1690 Andrew Gee.

Friday May 14th

A quiet day at our base today in our dugouts. A lad belonging to the Oldham Battalion killed and one of our bandsmen hurt with the same shell, about 50 yards from my dugout. They buried the Oldham lad by the side of our lad who was killed yesterday. Going out tonight to dig trenches.

Note: ‘Oldham Battalion’ is the 10th Battalion, Manchester Regiment who, along with the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment and the the 4th and 5th East Lancs Regiments, were also members of the 126th Brigade of the 42nd Division.

Saturday May 15th

Back to our dugouts for a rest today after an exciting night’s work digging trenches with bullets whistling past your ears. One man wounded last night. Another man, named Holden, badly wounded with shrapnel this morning.

Note: Pte. 1212 Thomas Holden was wounded in the leg by a shell fragment.

Sunday May 16th

No sleep last night. Heavy firing going on all night. We kept getting orders to stand to arms and keep our equipment on and rifles ready to move any minute.

Went out trench digging again today close to the firing line. Another man killed today named Favier and one wounded. One of the transport horses killed and the Colonel’s horse wounded.

Note: Pte. 2175 Frank Lionel Favier. 21 years old.

Monday May 17th

A day’s rest today. We are all knocked out for want of a sleep.

Tuesday May 18th

Moved a quarter of a mile to the right and dug fresh dugouts and settled down for the night with the usual dose of shells flying about. 3 more men wounded today.

Wednesday May 19th

A day’s rest in our dugouts today. 2 more wounded today.

Thursday May 20th

Another day’s rest in our dugouts with the shells flying round as usual.

Friday May 21st

Plenty of shrapnel again today. Several wounded. Going in the first line trenches tonight.

Saturday May 22nd

In the trenches, sleep out of the question. No sleep last night and in the daytime, we are improving our trenches. It is raining hard this morning. Heavy firing during the night. One man named Hodgkiss killed and Colonel Wade severely wounded.

Note: Pte. 1401 Edward Hodgkiss. Ashton Reporter says Whit Sunday (May 23, 1915).

Sunday May 23rd

Still in the trenches in the firing line. We had a bad time last night getting a man out of the trenches that was severely wounded as the trench is too narrow to use a stretcher and we have to carry them out on a blanket which is very awkward as we dare not stand upright as we should get shot in the head.

Monday May 24th

Still in the firing line. Lieut. Jones killed today and another man of my Company.

Note: Possibly Pte. 1866 Joseph Bell.

Tuesday May 25th

Advanced in front of firing line 100 yards during the night. Lieut. Wood severely wounded. Heavy rain this morning nearly washing us out of the trenches. This afternoon everybody is wet through and the trench is just like a canal; up to the knees in mud and water and all the lads are fed-up and glad when we get to know that we are to be relieved tonight from the trenches.

Wednesday May 26th

Back to our dugouts again for a rest. We came back last night to find our dugouts full of water and everyone wet through to the skin, and nowhere to sleep and no change of clothes. Each man had an issue of Rum and had to make the best of it while morning. But the sun is shining today and the lads are walking about in their shirts, some with their overcoats over them, with their clothes hung up on the trees or laid out on the ground to dry, which does not take long in the sun.

Thursday May 27th

Battalion split up this morning and put with different battalions of the Regulars and it is breaking the lads’ hearts to think we have to be put with strangers in other Regts. to make their strength up. Myself, along with half of our Company are put with the Border Regt. The whole brigade is split up.

Note: In fact, the entire 126th Brigade was being attached to the much depleted Regular Army battalions of the 29th Division as reinforcements, albeit under the grudging premise of Major Gen. Hunter-Weston ‘in order that they might learn their work.’

Friday May 28th

Whit Friday. We are working hard digging trenches and we all thinking about the kiddies walking with the scholars while the shrapnel is bursting all over the shop.

Saturday May 29th

Still digging.

Sunday May 30th

A day’s rest today.

Monday May 31st

Another of our lads killed today named Foden, who along with his Company was put with the Inniskillings. We are trench digging all day again.

Note: Pte. 2151 William Henry Foden, 23 years old. Pte. Foden’s official date of death is June 13, 1915.

Tuesday June 1st

Back to our own battalion again and in the trenches once more.

Wednesday June 2nd

Our Company in the firing line. 2 men wounded during the night. We are now close up to the Turkish trenches and we can hear them singing and praying and shouting: Allah! Allah! And we can see them working at their trenches.

Thursday June 3rd

In the reserve trench, having what we can get. Going back in the firing line tonight.

Friday June 4th

In the firing line again. One man killed last night as soon as we got in the firing trench. There is a terrible bombardment of the Turkish trenches going on this morning. It looks impossible for anyone to be left alive. About 150 guns firing for all they are worth. There is a big fire raging on our left in the village of Krithia.

All the Regulars are on the left and the Territorials in the centre, straight in front of Achi Baba Hill, and the French troops on the right. There are hundreds of Turks throwing their arms down and giving themselves up as prisoners. General Lee and Major Hitchie, who are the headquarters staff, both wounded in our trench by shrapnel. Heavy fighting all day. The Turks driven out of their trenches by bayonet charges. About 5 or 600 yards gained. Heavy casualties. Busy all day carrying the dead and wounded away. Biggest battle we have seen up to now. Turks killed in thousands.

Note: This was the Third Battle of Krithia.

Saturday June 5th

A bit quieter today. Turkish prisoners still coming in. Carried two big Turks in today who were badly wounded. Sergt. H. Illingworth of my Co, killed this morning.

Note: Sgt. 469 Harry Illingworth. 23 years old.

Sunday June 6th

Very ill today. Getting knocked out with too much work and too little rest. Lay down in the trench all day.

Monday June 7th

Went to the Doctor’s and he told me to go and lie down in a dugout, just out of the trenches, for a day or two’s rest. Another big engagement during the night.

Tuesday June 8th

Heavy casualty list this morning. Capt. Hamer, Lieut. Stringer, Cpl. Handley, Pte. Cain, Pte. Hyndimen and others that I could not get the names of. All in my Co., “C” Company. Killed during the fighting last night.

I was struck on the leg today with a shrapnel bullet as I lay in the dugout, half dead, but it did not penetrate the flesh. It must have been a spent bullet.

Note: Cpl.  2121 Robert Handley, Pte. 1860 George Frederick Cain and Pte. 1859 Eddie Heinemann.

Wednesday June 9th

My condition going worse every day. The Doctor calls it ‘general debility’ and I am being sent to the Base Hospital.

June 10-14th

Lay in the base Hospital under observation 4 days to see if I improved any. While I lay there a shell dropped in one of the hospital tents and killed three patients. One man accidentally shot himself through the hand in the tent I was in. I, along with about 100 invalids, am being sent on a Mine Sweeper to an Island called Lemnos about 80 miles away, to a Stationary Hospital.

June 15th

In No 15 Stationary Hospital. It feels like being in heaven being in a proper bed after 6 weeks hardships in the trenches without a proper rest or sleep.

June 30th

Still in bed. Have been too bad to write. Doctor told me today that I was to be sent to the Base at Alexandria.

July 1st

Went onboard the Nile which is a Chinese boat. All the crew are Chinese but English Officers. And left Lemnos about tea time for Alexandria. I heard this morning, before coming onboard, that Tom Hawkins and Harold had been wounded but could not get particulars.

Note: Pte. 1361 Thomas Hawkins. Pte. 1947 Harold Rhodes was indeed severely wounded by shrapnel to his back and legs.

July 3rd

Arrived at Alexandria. Disembarked and we were put on a hospital train and sent to Cairo, to the Red Cross Hospital, Ghezirah School, where we arrived about 11pm. Tired out with weakness and traveling.

Note: The No. 2 Australian General Hospital moved to the Gezirah Palace Hotel, (from the Mena Palace Hotel), but if he was admitted to a Red Cross Hospital “just behind the zoological gardens” then the only school that meets that criteria is the El Saidiya Secondary School.

July 4th

Ghezirah Hospital is a fine place just behind the Zoological Gardens and not very far from our old barracks at Kasr-el-Nil. Never thought I should come back to Cairo again after I left but here I am.

July 11th

Went for a stroll round the grounds and when I got back to my bed the Doctor had marked me for England.

July 12th

Disappointed today when we are told we cannot go on the boat as it is full up with invalids.

July 15th

Left Ghezirah Hospital today for a convalescent home at Helowan, 15 miles further up the Nile, which is a fine hotel where all the society people go in time of peace. It is called Al-Hayat Hotel.

Al-Hayat Hotel Helowan
Copyright Australian War Memorial

Note: The Al-Hayat Hotel was used as a convalescent hospital under the auspices of the No. 1 Australian General Hospital.

July 19th

Passed a Board of Doctors today to see if I was fit for service but was marked for England.

July 20th

Left Helowan at 7:30am this morning for Alexandria. Arrived 3:30pm. Embarked 4pm on the Australian Transport Wandilla.

July 21st

Set sail at 5:00pm while we were having our tea. Egypt vanishing from our sight so we turn in for the night.

July 25th

Sea calm like sailing on the park lake. Just had my Sunday dinner. Hoping to have my next Sunday dinner at home.

July 26th

We are all looking out for Gibraltar now. We are sailing along the African coast now.

July 27th

Arrived at Gib this morning at 8:30am. Got alongside the wharf and started coaling with a great deal of shouting and bustle among the natives; more noise than work. The Moroccan Coast and the town of Algiers opposite. Set sail again at tea time. Gib dropping out of sight, turn in to bed.

July 28th

Sailing along the Portuguese coast today. Hundreds of porpoises jumping out of the water and causing great fun. Heavy swell which is making our ship plunge a bit.

July 29th

The Bay of Biscay. Sea rough and getting into colder climate.

July 30th

We have got through the Bay and awe all eagerly looking for a sight of old England and keeping a sharp lookout for submarines which we don’t want to see. But a Destroyer is escorting us in.

Saturday July 31st

Got up this morning to find the ship at anchor at Plymouth Sound. Glad to see old England once again. Everybody busy this morning handing in the bedding and getting ready to disembark. The country looks lovely from the deck of our boat. It does not look as if there was a war raging. We are now being towed into the docks at Devonport. Disembarked and got onboard a hospital train and left Devonport dockyard about 12:30pm for Manchester. Arrived in Manchester at 10pm and were taken in Ambulance Motors to High St. UoM Hospital 2nd Western General. Had a bath and got to bed.

Note: The 2nd Western General Hospital was planned by the East Lancashire Territorial Association and staffed at first by the medical teaching staff of Manchester University.  Originally based in the Central Higher Grade School, Whitworth Street, and the Day Training College, Princess Street, it later had a branch at the School of Domestic Economy on High Street (Hathersage Road).

Sunday August 1st

Visiting day. Scores of people coming in today.

Monday August 2nd

Got marked off for discharge from hospital and had a visit from the Missus and Florrie and Annie, and feel more contented now.

Note: His wife, Ada Valentine (née Ogden), Florrie Valentine (20 years old) and Annie valentine (16 years old), his two oldest daughters.

Tuesday August 3rd

Sent to Whitworth St. for discharge. Got my discharge from hospital and £1, the first money for 3 months; and 7 days furlough. Tuesday afternoon, home once more.

August 26th

Harold Rhodes landed in England today and was taken to Devonport Hospital suffering from dysentery and [scarlet] fever.

Friday September 4th

Harold’s mother and Florrie went down to see him and found him in a very low state.

Monday September 7th

Received news of Harold’s death today. Our first bandsman to give his life in the service of his country. May he rest in peace.

October 31st

Left Ashton for Southport. Arrived at 12 o’ clock, passed the Doctor and told off to my billet in time for dinner. Light duty for six weeks for all overseas men.

December 13th

Left Southport Monday midnight for Codford St. Mary’s. Arrived next morning.

December 14th

Getting told off for our huts. Quite busy today drawing beds and bedding and making ourselves comfortable.

December 15th

Up this morning at reveille after a good night’s sleep, with plenty of rats for company. All the huts are pretty well patronized with their company.

December 16th

The weather here is terrible, nothing but rain, and we are up to our knees in mud. In fact. The lads have christened it Codford-on-Mud.

December 17th

This rotten weather here is telling on me and I cannot stir, with rheumatic.

December 19th

Sent to Codford Military Hospital and put in bed and get a little relief from pain after a good massaging with one of the RAMC orderlies.

December 21st

Sent to Red Cross Hospital at Gillingham, Dorset. Arrived here alright, had a bath and was put in bed, where I have to stop until the Doctor says I must get up.

December 24th

All the Nurses and Sisters quite busy decorating the wards and making it look like Christmas.

December 25th

Christmas morning. The hospital looks bright and cheerful and everybody quite happy. All the patients had a visit from Santa Claus during the night and we all had a stocking hung on our beds. And of course, we had some fun looking at what we had in our stockings. And several ladies came in with presents of tobacco and cigarettes and all sorts of useful articles for the patients. Then dinner time came with Turkey and Christmas pudding and a concert at night to finish up.

January 7th 1916

Got up today and allowed to go in the recreation room where we have all sorts of games; Billiards, cards and plenty of music.

January 10th

I have had a walk out today round the village. It is a very nice place here. They are having a parade of all the Derbyites today led by the Village Band and they want us to join in.

Note: ‘Derbyites’ likely refers to men of the village who had attested under the Derby Scheme but who had not yet been called up.

January 11th

Had a drive round the country today along with 5 other patients. They take all the patients in their turn when they are fit to go out.  As this is a convalescent hospital, they try to make you fit and well.

We marched round the village with the Derbyites yesterday afternoon. Just to please them we marched in front of the Band, 12 of us in our blue hospital clothes. And if we had captured Germany, they could not have made more of a fuss of us.

January 27th

The Doctor came and examined us today and marked 8 of us for for duty again.

January 28th

Left Gillingham Hospital at 8:30 this morning for Codford Military Hospital where we will have to be examined again by the Military Doctors and declare us fit for duty, discharged from hospital and sent to join our regiments.

January 31st

General French inspected the troops today and he had several French Generals with him.

February 1st

Left camp for 10 days leave at home. Arrived home at breakfast time next morning.

February 10th

Left home this morning to rejoin my regiment. Arrived at Bristol at 2 o’ clock. Had a good look round the town and caught the six o’ clock train from Bristol to Codford. Arrived in camp at 9 o’ clock and got down in bed, tired out.

February 13th

Started with another attack of rheumatic. Lay on my back and dare not stir. It is sickening for me.

March 22nd

Today, about 40 men of the overseas company have to go before a Medical Board. I am included in the party. Some get marked fit for active [duty] again, and some for Home [service] only, and 10 of us, myself included, get marked down for discharge. Put on light duty pending my discharge.

April 5th

This morning I fell in with my Company and am told to fall out and hand my uniform and equipment in to the Quartermaster’s Stores and get a suit of civilian clothes, and go to the Orderly Room for my discharge and railway warrant for traveling home.

April 6th

Arrived home once more and get settled down to civil life after being in the battalion 24 years, 204 days, including one year, 245 days active service.

Finish

 

The following articles were published in the Ashton Reporter relating to Corporal Valentine and Pte. Harry Rhodes.

Ashton Reporter, August 7, 1915

“TURKS FINISHED”

Another Ashton Territorial, Corporal T. Valentine, arrived in Ashton from the Dardanelles on Tuesday at his home, 6, Mowbray Street, Ashton, having been invalided from the firing line on June 14th, the exposure in the trenches and the strain having debilitated him. Corporal Valentine, who was employed as a carter by the Ashton Co-operative Society, was the oldest soldier in the Ashton Territorials, being the proud possessor of the Coronation Long Service Medal. He is 45 years of age.

“I was six weeks in the trenches”, he said to a Reporter representative. “Being in the band as a drummer, I acted as stretcher bearer for part of the time, but for three weeks I was roughing it in the trenches with the boys of ‘C’ Company. Whilst stretcher bearer I saw some terrible sights, sights that I will not forget if I live to be a thousand. Once we carried in two Turkish officers who had been wounded, and one said, ‘Turks finished, Germans no good’. You could see by the look in their eyes how thankful they were for our attention to them. The Turks, to give them their due, have fought squarely. It was a square fight – no poison gases. There are some fine fellows amongst them, and some riff-raff, and they are good shots, especially the snipers, who are up to all sorts of devices. Some of them, however, have been using explosive bullets, and they make nasty wounds, and the noise of the impact sickens you.

I have been in the battalion 26 years, but I never dreamt I should see what I have seen, which is a bit more than I wanted to see. A lot of our lads have been hit with spent shrapnel bullets that did not penetrate. I myself, as I lay in the doctor’s dug-out, was hit on the leg with a piece of spent shrapnel, the size of a boy’s dobber, which made me jump. It left a bruise, but did not penetrate the skin. I have been in six hospitals before I was finally sent home, and was at Lemnos at the same time as Captain Okell, but did not know until I met his servant outside his tent. The worst of the whole affair is the absence of sleep. The Turks keep up a rapid fire, and attack mostly at night, and sleep is out of the question. In the daytime there is plenty of hard, laborious work in the digging of trenches and dug-outs.

Our officers roughed it with us, and set a fine example. If it rained, they were in it with us, and cheered us up. Often Lieut. Stringer, poor chap, has cooked his meal at my fire, whilst Captain Hamer was a real trump. He looked after us well. I shall never forget one little act of kindness, which, although it might appear trivial, he showed to me. One wet night it had poured in the trenches, and we were up to the waist in mud-broth. When we came back to the dug-outs, Captain Hamer was there, and I happened to be the first one back. Captain Hamer looked very ill, and having known me for a long time he talked to me quite chummily. He had charge of the issue of rum for the Company, and gave me mine at once, in order to prevent me from catching cold, instead of waiting an hour or so until the rest of the Company came in. That was a typical act, which endeared him to us all. There are always ‘grousers’ in the best of regiments, and we had a chap with us who was always grumbling. Captain Hamer could not help continually hearing him ‘grouse’, and one day he suddenly turned round on him and said, ‘You are always grouse, grousing. I am just as fed up with it as you are, but we have got to put up with it because it is our duty’. It was a fine reply, and the boys appreciated the spirit shown by Captain Hamer. Lieut. Ned Stringer was also immensely popular, and got on well with the boys. I shall never forget June 4th as we watched the great artillery bombardment. We had seen the fireworks at Belle Vue, but this sight knocked them into a cocked hat. It looked impossible for anyone to live in the Turkish trenches in that hail of fire.

I was just behind Lieut. F. Jones when he was killed. We were standing in ‘Shrapnel Gully’ from which our trenches branched off, and Lieut. Jones and two other officers were stood at the top talking. Suddenly, Lieut. Jones fell down. One of the officers said, ‘Have you slipped, Jones?’, but when they looked at him, he was dead. They carried him away on a stretcher, and buried him in the gully”

Ashton Reporter July 24, 1915

FOUR WOUNDS

After taking part in two bayonet charges, and escaping without a scratch, Bandsman Harold Rhodes, 1/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Territorials, is reported to have been severely wounded whilst on his way to a rest camp.

Bandsman Rhodes, who resided at 50, Bennett Street, Ryecroft, formerly worked as a turner at the works of Messrs. Jones Sewing Machine Co., and prior to joining the Territorials he was a member of St. Stephen’s Church Lad’s Brigade. In a letter written from St. Ignatius’ College Hospital, Malta, to his mother, who resides in Bennett Street, he states: –

“I am sorry to tell you that I have been badly wounded in the back and leg. There are four wounds, and I got them on June 22nd. I have been through three operations, and I am doing fine now. The food supplied is of the best, chicken every day for dinner, so I think I am doing all right. I am in a very nice hospital and I have a very nice and devoted nursing sister in attendance. I have only been here four days, having spent over a week on the hospital ship.”

A tribute to his Spartan cheerfulness is paid in a letter written by one of the Army chaplains to his mother on the 23rd, as follows: –

“Yesterday evening your boy passed through this dressing station on his way to the hospital ship. The Turks had at last put a bit of lead into him, he said. He had been through two charges without a scratch, but they succeeded in getting him on the way back to the rest camp. He looked not a little bit like one wounded, and he was in the very best of spirits. The only thing that troubled him was the fear that you would see the casualty list, and think he was dangerously wounded. He will soon be fit again. He will at least get a really good rest, which he has most abundantly earned. Possibly he might get home to you.”

 

Ashton Reporter September 18, 1915

DIED ON HIS WAY HOME

Many will sympathise with Mrs. Rhodes, of 50, Bennett Street, Ashton, in the loss she has sustained in the death of her son, Bandsman Harold Rhodes, of the Ashton Territorials, who died from wounds and dysentery at the Devonport Isolation Hospital on September 7th. It is doubly sad for the bereaved mother to lose her son after there seemed to be a possibility of his recovering from the injuries caused by shrapnel shell. He had undergone three operations, and the extent of his injuries was such that nearly half-a-pound of shrapnel was taken from his body. Yet whilst on the way home to England from Malta scarlet fever and dysentery developed, and proved fatal. An Army chaplain wrote to Mrs. Rhodes telling her that her son had said “they had just put a bit of lead in him whilst he was on his way to the rest camp.” The truth was that he had been terribly injured about the back and thighs by shrapnel. He was, however, in the best of spirits; the only thing that troubled him was the fear that his mother, of whom he thought the world of, would learn from the casualty lists that he was dangerously wounded.

Bandsman Rhodes, who played the clarinet in the Ashton Territorial Band, was only 20 years of age. He worked as a turner at Messrs. Jones’ Sewing Machine Co. Guide Bridge. He joined the Territorials in September 1913, and went out with them to Egypt in September last. He participated in two bayonet charges whilst at the Dardanelles, and after being wounded arrived at Malta on June 30th, where he remained until August 17th. He landed at Devonport on August 26th, and was taken to the Isolation Hospital, where he died on Tuesday last.

Bandsman Rhodes was buried with full military honours at the Devonport Corporation Cemetery on Friday last. His mother would have liked to have had him buried at home, but it was not possible. Mrs. Rhodes and family, and Miss Florrie Valentine, his sweetheart, attended the funeral. A detachment of the 1st Battalion Worcester Regiment paid the last honours to a gallant soldier. A memorial service was held on Sunday at St. Stephen’s Church, Audenshaw, which was attended by a Company of Ashton Territorials from the Armoury, in command of Captain R. Lees, Colonel D.H. Wade was also present.

Acknowledgement:

This journal has been transcribed from originals held at the Imperial War Museum. The transcription is provided here under Non Commercial Use License and remain the copyright of the IWM.

The original papers are catalogued here at the IWM.

Sgt. Noel Duncan Braithwaite’s Journal

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite
Copyright Imperial War Museum

Sunday Nov 20, 1914

On guard again, and the blighted Old Quarter Guard too. I don’t mind the foreign agencies so much. one can get a little sleep there and the orderly officers’ comings can be gauged to an hour, but here there is no sleep and every minute of the day has its little vexations. I was forcibly reminded last night that we were in the midst of winter for I got starved through. Do what I would I could not get warm. This khaki drill has very little protection; and to think that tomorrow we are going on a trek. Methinks it will be a bit nippy bivouacking!

I would have given 20 piastres if I could have handed over my guard this afternoon. Fletcher, our transport wallah, had made arrangements with the native groom at the stable just by the guardroom, for a Garry, for an afternoon drive. And he invited me! My chagrin could be more easily imagined than described when I saw Stringer and Newton sail off in it leaving me with four hours still to do and on an admirable afternoon. However, after so much duty I intend to have a little treat and I have arranged for the same Garry this evening at 7 when I will see the sights of Cairo and its environs by moonlight and at my ease.

It has come to me this morning that the Turks are within three days of Port Said in force and also that the Khedive is a prisoner of war at Malta. This, I try to kid myself, looks serious. Oh, if only it would come to a head and let me be doing something. I am just itching to try my marksmanship on some living targets.

11pm. I have had my little out. Newton and Illingworth and myself hired the Garry and had a couple of hours drive round old Cairo. The narrowness of the streets in the native quarter is astounding. For quite an hour we threaded our way through streets which were little more than ten-foot passages. At one place we were stopped by another Garry in front which was trying to turn off our street into another. So narrow were the streets that it was absolutely impossible for the driver to turn the corner in the usual way. He led his horses in the street as far as he could get them and then he went to the back of his Garry and lifted the whole concern round until it was into line. Then he mounted again and drove off. Cairo will indeed require some beating in the matter of narrow streets. Our Garry wallah took us all through the famous Wazzeh [Wazzir] district, the Cairo hell, and of course we saw the sights. It was altogether a most interesting and enlightening outing.

Monday Nov 23 1914. 2pm

I am writing this on the desert; we are on a trek, and we are not due back at barracks till Wednesday evening. The idea of the thing is that the country is at war and that a small hostile force is coming on Cairo from the South, Helwan way. Our company has been ordered out to meet this force, if possible, to drive it back and if not then to check its advance, and as a result here we are on the desert about 7 miles from barracks. We have advanced in skirmishing order over a couple of miles of desert and have carried the enemy’s position at the point of the bayonet. And it has been no joke. We are in marching order and to charge pell mell for a couple of hundred yards across the sandy desert, while the sun itself is burning with excitement, and we in full pack too, is puffing work. Has we had a real enemy to charge we should never have shifted them, for when we arrived at his position we were fairly blown. However, in maneuvers these physical matters don’t count; we frightened the enemy away I suppose. Anyhow he has retreated and we now hold his position where we are at present awaiting the arrival of our camels with the grub. Of course, crossing the desert, we must have camel transport, horses are no use whatever. The fun started before we left barracks when we were loading the beasts. We had to carry all our food, water, timber, and all accessories with us and we had only twelve camels. The native camel-wallahs did not seem to realise that the camels had to carry big loads and it was with the greatest difficulty that we got them to load up as we wanted. And when we had loaded them, Good Lord! The poor beggars couldn’t get up again. They grunted and growled and roared under their burdens and we had to give a lift to help them up. When we made a halt on route, one of the camels got down and couldn’t get up again and the whole convoy was delayed almost an hour. I think the same one must have got down again somewhere for they do not seem to appear, and as the various stragglers come in, they are greeted with ‘Av yo seen owt o’ any Camels?’ Hello! I see them on the skyline and the chaps have broken out into “The camels are coming, they are, they are!”

We advanced through an Arab cemetery this morning and I saw several skulls. I approached a hole in the ground thinking I might have seen some good specimens but I was greeted with such a ‘sniff’ that I beat a hasty retreat without waiting to see what was in there.

The camels came up at 3:30pm and tea was served by 4. Of course, we have nothing cooked on a trek like this. The stuff we have brought with us consists of biscuits, bully, jam & tea principally.

Tuesday Nov 24, 1914. 5pm

I shall not forget quickly my first night’s bivouac. After tea we set to and dug shallow trenches for our beds, and when blankets had been issued, one per man, the encampment speedily went to bo-bo. Of course, it was dark by six, and by seven all the camp was as quiet as at midnight. I got down by eight and deeming the weather not too cold, simply took off my puttees and boots and wrapped myself up in my blanket. I got to sleep alright for I was rather tired, a shower of rain soon after getting down didn’t keep me awake, but about 2 o’ clock, as I afterwards ascertained, I woke up with a start to find myself nearly frozen. A cold wind had sprung up and I had had my back to it, with the result that I was nearly stiff with chattering teeth and all a-shiver I got my greatcoat from my valise and took a walk to get warm again. I went down to our cookhouse where there was a smouldering fire and remained there talking up the past with a few other cold kindred spirits till four, when I got down again and didn’t wake till reveille.

Wednesday Nov 25, 1914. 8pm

I am back again in barracks, and wishing I was going on a trek again tomorrow morning. It has been a splendid experience and one which I should be loath to miss if the chance offered itself again. Of course, it has been hard work and as rough as might be, but I never enjoyed anything so much. But to take up my narrative where I left off:

On rising on Tuesday morning, we immediately had breakfast, which consisted of biscuits, jam and tea, and were on the move before 9. There was no accident with the loading of the camels, at least nothing exceptional, and as the company continued the attack on the enemy, who were supposed to be in position on the hills of Lissan Abaid, about six miles further on, the camels went into the village of Maadi to draw water. Maadi is a village on the hill; we left it away on our right. Moving over the desert in full pack is something to try one up and it put us through it. The General came to visit us in the morning. My platoon was acting as supports to the firing line, and the officer in charge of us had allowed us to get too far behind, with the result that, when we saw the General coming across the plain, we had to get into the firing line as quick as possible. In doing this we took a stony ride of about half a mile, almost at a continuous double, and when we got to the top, we were all like Barney’s Bull. One poor fellow threw his rifle away and rolled over as if he had been shot. It had been too much for him. We left a couple of men to bring him round and continued the attack.

I was deuced glad to get to the peace of bivouac that night. By eight o’ clock I was fast asleep and knew nothing more till morning.

We had some rare sport this morning when we were packing the camels. Of course, we always had trouble with the camel-wallah but this morning they actually mutinied. The boss of the shanty, a bearded Arab, with an astonishing flow of language, was kicking up a dickens of a shine about a particular camel’s load, when I came up. The trouble seemed to be about whether a roll of blankets should be put up or not. The camel-wallah was emphatic about it and stood by his camel to see that his wishes were carried out. However, we intended that the blankets should be loaded, as I shoved him out of the way while we hoisted it up. This completely upset his apple cart and he came up again gabbling as if his indignation would drive him silly. I raised my arm and threatened to smash his face in. That did it! He thought he had been ill-used enough. He called to his followers and snatching up their personal belongings set off home, leaving us to manage the camels ourselves. This of course we couldn’t stand so we sent a section to bring them back, which they did! They cuffed the and kicked them all the way back, and that settled them.

After that, things went comparatively smoothly, and we arrived at our first night’s bivouac about 2 o’ clock. We had a meal of biscuits and tea and marched home about 5. And I wish I were going again. I may say that I picked up a good deal of Arabic on this trip.

Monday Nov 30th, 1914:

I have shifted my shanty again. As I write this, I am lying in a tent on the desert overlooked by the Pyramids. I came here on Saturday and do not know when I shall be going back however. Let me record things in their chronological order. Since I last wrote in this journal, I have done a little knocking about which has prevented me keeping up to date. On Friday, I went to Alexandria, some hundred odd miles away with prisoners. Our party consisted of one officer, myself, and 30 men. We entrained on he barracks square and took on board 50 prisoners; Turks, Arabs and Germans. The Turks and Arabs were many of them desperate characters and were placed in a 3rd class carriage whilst the Germans, who were residents in Cairo, were accommodated in a 2nd. Everything passed off without a hitch and we handed the prisoners over to an escort of the 6th Manchesters at Alexandria. We should have escorted them on board but the weather was too rough for embarkation for it was blowing very strongly. The weather was just English. The sky was overcast and a strong wind blowing and it was very cold. As we were marching back to the station we got caught in a terrific downpour of rain and had to take shelter in a drinking shop where it cost the officer 31 piastres! We arrived home about 10pm.

As soon as I arrived, I was warned for the Mena Guard and had to pack up a few necessities in the morning and move off. It was typical of the way things are done in the Army and particularly in the 9th, that I received no precise instructions.

Do you know where the Pyramids are? I was asked.

“Yes, sir!”
“Well, there is a camp about there, with a quantity of supplies. Go and guard it!”

That was all I was told. I didn’t know how long I was going for, any details whatever. I had 20 men, and we took an oilsheet and blanket each, rations for one day and two camp kettles. Arriving at the Pyramids, I looked round but could not see any signs of a camp. I called a guide and asked him if he knew of a soldier’s camp, with tents. ‘Oh Yes, he knew it all right!’ So, we followed him. Over the desert, up and down the hills of sand he took us until we were getting fagged, but still no sign of a camp. At length we told him pretty plainly that we were turning back, and it was a good job that we had the Pyramids as a landmark or we should have been lost, for the desert in all directions is alike. At last, we arrived back to the place whence we started and found the “camp” we had been seeking for three or four hours. It was simply a heap of sacks of corn. Well now, here was a bonny place to send a party of men to. However, we had to make the best of it for another couple of hours would see night here, so we set about to bivouac. Luckily an ASC officer came up and I report to the guard to him, and he vouched the welcome information that there would be some tents coming along. They did in about half an hour, and we soon erected a couple and we were landed. Another quarter of an hour saw us with a heap of timber which we had pinched and soon after, just at the edge of dark, we were taking our first meal since 6:30am. After posting the sentries and arranging all things connected with them, I settled down to sleep for I was tired. It went very cold at night and once I woke up feeling starved. It is to this that I attribute my slight indisposition yesterday, Sunday. I woke up with a slight disturbance in my ‘innards’ but during the morning it was not so bad and I paid little attention to it. Soon after nine I slipped away from Camp, and taking a lad of 15 as a guide, I went to ascend the great Pyramid. As you approach the ting the ascent seems the easiest thing in the world, but try it and it is a nerve trying experience. Preceded by my guide, I got about quarter way up and then stopped to rest. It seemed to me that I sat on the edge of a great precipice, and I felt a bit dizzy, which made me almost decide to go back. However, when I had recovered and got somewhat accustomed to my lofty position in the world, I pushed on, and keeping my face to the rock, reached the top after about twenty minutes climb. And the view from the top was superb. North and South ran the Nile. Miles and miles I could see it until it faded away into obscurity. To the West stretched the great mysterious Sahara, Sand and sand again for miles after miles, without life or verdure of any kind. And looking down the Western side of the Pyramid I obtained a splendid bird’s eye view of the excavation being carried on by some Americans. The Sphynx, a little to the South appeared just like a cat lying on the plain. Looking to the East, Cairo was to be seen in its entirety and further on the landscape lost itself in the Arabian desert. The whole view from such an eminence was magnificent and one worth coming miles to see. Too soon I had to descend for I did not want anybody from Kasr-el-Nil to come to Camp and find me absent or I might have been for it. I got down in half the time it took to get up and as I paid up my guide was well satisfied with my experience.

During Sunday afternoon 57 lorry loads of corn, sugar, etc. came and we had the very dickens of a job to get it unloaded in the proper places. And now let me say a word of explanation of our presence here. We are simply the beginning of a large Camp. Some thirty thousand Australian troops are going to be quartered here, so this will give some idea of the magnitude of the preparations. There are some hundreds of natives employed here in making a road across the desert and in constructing an electric railway. This points to a permanent camping ground, in short, a base of operations. The presence of all this work going on is very handy for us, for it enables us to provide ourselves with fuel for our fire. As soon as night falls, a party of chosen scouts leaves our Camp and return laden with timber, and by this time the railway is many sleepers short. But we must have fuel and as they don’t send us any from barracks, well! What would you do?

6pm Sunday afternoon, the pains in my ‘tummy’ increased in frequency and intensity until at times I was almost doubled up with pain. I thought at first that I had sand colic with swallowing so much up of the stuff. That’s the only fault with this life. We can’t keep the sand out of our food. However, this morning I am much better so I suppose it was just a touch of ordinary colic caused by getting cold on Saturday night.

Tuesday Dec 1st

This life is great. I am still at the Mena Guard, and am enjoying things fine. Our rations are sent out every day but the time of arrival seems to be a matter of no consequence to the authorities at Kasr-el-Nil. Yesterday our rations did not reach us until 3 in the afternoon, and then they were brought by an escort from the 9th who came with about 50 wagons of stores, etc. It was too late to cook anything for dinner so we had tea at the usual time, and we made a dixie stew of our meat and vegetables about 9 o’ clock at night. And by Gad, wasn’t it good? I think I never enjoyed a meal so much before. The night was cold and the dixie stew was hot and – my lips are smacking yet!

Wednesday Dec 2nd 1914

Yesterday another twelve men were sent out from Kasr-el-Nil to strengthen our guard. I have now 32 men and 2 corporals and I feel the responsibility of my position very much. Every day increases the stock of provisions and camp equipment, etc. put here. There must be thousands of pounds worth here, and it extends over a square of half a mile or more. And I alone am responsible for its safety. The preparations here are on a huge scale. I am told that 18,000 colonial troops are to be quartered here, and the preparations seem to indicate the coming of such a vast contingent. From the Pyramids Road an electric railway and a highway is being constructed into the desert and hundreds of natives are employed hereabouts on the work. The cost which a work like this entails seems to point to the fact that this camp is to be a permanent one. It will probably be the largest in Egypt; and my little party pitched the first tent.

Apart from the fact that my responsibility weighs upon me rather heavily I am in thorough sympathy with my surroundings and am enjoying myself. This hard ‘roughing it’ just suits me, and of course the open air and sun is champion. The feeling of isolation one gets, out at a place like this, is quite a new sensation to me. Being separated from my immediate chums at barracks seems to intensify the feeling that thousands of miles separate me from those I hold dear at home. It seems as if I were almost hopelessly cut off from everybody.

Thursday Dec 3rd 1914

Our camp has now become a very busy hive. Yesterday afternoon the advance party of Australian troops arrived. There were about a hundred of them and fine fellows they were too. They are not however, soldiers; they are undisciplined and seem to have little idea of regimental behaviour. They had a rare good time last night down at the Café near the Pyramids. Having been six weeks on the boat they were naturally a bit frisky and they were flashing their money galore. The camel drivers, donkey boys, and fortune tellers made a real harvest of them; like we were at first these Australians were done down at every turn. After being without tobacco for two days I managed to obtain half a cake from one of the chaps so I am set up again for a bit. The boat which sunk the Emden, the Sydney, was escort to the Australian transports and these fellows tells us that they 40 odd of their prisoners, including the Captain, on their vessel.

Saturday Dec 5th 1914

Yesterday morning I went round the Pyramids for a quiet stroll, fully determined to resist all efforts of the guides to thrust themselves upon me. However, I failed. The beggars stick to one like glue and no amount of ‘imshi’-ing or ‘yalla’-ing will clear them. In the end I suffered one of them to take me in the temple of the Sphinx, a sort of underground affair near the wonder from which it takes its name. We descended into it down an inclined passage and then I found myself in the temple. The walls were of granite and the floor of alabaster, and there were sixteen huge columns of granite which had formerly supported the roof. The great blocks of granite comprising the walls were many of them 16 feet long, 3ft high and 6 ft deep. How they had got them there in those old days and put them into position is a marvel to me. And the granite had all been brought from Assowan, 400 miles away. In the temple were tombs of the high priest and of some King’s daughter. That little trip cost me a piastre and a half (3 ¾d).

Yesterday some thousands of Australians arrived, and ‘our fellows’ had a good time with them. These Australian blokes have plenty of money, the privates get 6/- per day, and they are by no means sparing with it. And not their money only but anything they have they will give away.  Tobacco, coins and even badges, caps and other parts of their equipment have found their way into our chaps’ possession. Down at the café last night our lads were tucking in and having as much as they could eat without it costing them a red cent. I rescued an Australian who had a crowd of natives around him changing his money. I knew very well they were diddling him hence my intervention. But afterwards he wouldn’t allow me to pay for anything. We had a rare good tea together and when I remonstrated on account of the price he said “Oh what the hell does it matter, we’ve bags of money!”

There isn’t as much discipline amongst them as one would get from a lot of maniacs but with training, they will make a tough lot to deal with. They’re made of the right stuff. Devil-may-care they are and such are the best fighters.

Last night I stood around one of the camp fires talking with an M.M.P. [Mounted Military Police] sergeant and an Australian until 3 o’ clock in the morning. We were discussing the army and the war and none of us had he slightest idea of the time.

When I awoke this morning, it was bitterly cold. A North wind was blowing that went through one. And I never thought it was cold in Egypt! Good heavens! I thought it would have frozen my face off.

Today completes a week of this guard, and since coming I have not heard anything officially from Kasr-el-Nil. They send over rations out every day but beyond that we might as well be dead.

Tuesday Dec 8th

Still on this guard. We were told we should only be away two or three days and this is the eleventh. But I don’t mind. This life is far better than being in barracks. The open air and the freedom from interference, I am GOC here, are much to be desired, and when obtained are fully appreciated.  Rations have just come for another day, but our holiday cannot be prolonged very much now for the battalion goes to Abbasia on Monday for brigade training and we shall not be allowed to miss that. I am surprised that we have been here so long after the arrival of the Australians. There are thousands of them here now and yet we are kept on guarding their supplies. Possibly the blokes cannot be entrusted with such a guard yet. They are not yet settled down and are just like savages. A more hare-brained set of fellows I never struck. I hear that last night one of them got his throat cut in Cairo. From what I can gather he tore the Yashmak and veil from one of the native women; if that is so he deserves his fate. When these fellows first marched in I was impressed by their physique and thought what a splendid lot of men they were. I have quickly changed my opinion. Generally speaking, they are a lot of boasting, bragging uncivilized hooligans.

I went to barracks yesterday for the first time since coming on this guard. I didn’t care for leaving the corporal in charge but necessity forced me. I was feeling ‘chatty’. We came here without a change of any kind and water is difficult enough to get for washing and cooking, never mind bathing, we have to go half a mile for it, so it is no wonder we were getting ‘chatty’. I had a rare good bath, and changed my suit, which I had never had off for 10 days, and now I feel a new man.

When we first came here the place was desert, but it is desert no longer. There are thousands of men here, the electric cars run up, and good macadam roads have been made; and all this transformation in a week! It is wonderful.

The rumour has currency here, and daily gains in strength, that the East Lancs Division leaves for home on January 7th to be mobilised and equipped for France. If someone told me that on January 7th, I should pick up £50 in the sand I should attach as much credence to it as to this rumour. I will not deny that conviction keeps forcing itself upon me, for the various sources from which the rumour comes to us, gives it every appearance of truth, but I absolutely refuse to believe for fear of a frightful disappointment.

I understand that our battalion has again been ‘for it’ from the Brigade. The Brigade people seem to have an aversion to us, but I claim, and found my claim on personal observation and the views of regular army critics, that the 9th are the smartest and best conducted battalion in Cairo. I am not saying that they are smart but they are smarter than the others.

The weather just now is ideal. It is Dec 8th 12 noon and the sun is shining brilliantly and it is warm enough for me to sit in my tent in my shirt sleeves writing this. I wonder what it’s like at home. Of course, it goes cold at night, but our greatcoats are usually sufficient protection from the cold. And speaking of the weather, reminds me that the Colonel has dropped a very significant hint that we shall see now more hot weather here. Really, it’s very hard to keep from hoping. We look like getting a smack at the Germans yet; and if the Stalybridge lot can go to the front, why not we?

Thursday Dec 10, 1914

This is the 13th day of our encampment here, but I learn with pleasure that we shall be relieved tomorrow. The Colonel of the Australian mob or of some unit of them sent for me this afternoon for particulars of the Guard and said he would probably take over tomorrow. And I am glad. I am getting lazy on the job. I cannot find anything to do, and one can have too much of a good thing. On the whole I would rather be in hard training with the boys.

I have reason to believe that the rumour about our going to England in January is bunkum! A good job I didn’t raise any hopes or they would have been dashed now.

Yesterday we had some frightful weather for Egypt. It was typical English. The sky was black with clouds and the rain came down pell-mell. And it was cold with it too. I imagined the weather might have been somewhat similar at home.

Australian troops continue to arrive in the camp as if there were no end to them.

I have today sent several postcards with Christmas greetings for home. I wonder what sort of Christmas I shall be having when those reach home. When the church bells ring out the glad tidings of Christmas morning, when folks at home are drawing their chairs up to the huge fire and cracking bottles of beer, or munching Christmas cake, I suppose I shall be rolled up in my blanket on the desert gazing up at the stars in an alien sky under which the greeting of a merry Christmas were mere irony. From what I can gather, we shall be on brigade maneuvers at Christmas and I suppose there will be a good deal of bivouacking in that. But we’ll make the Christmas as merry as may be you can bet, especially if we happen to be on barracks. And being rolled up in a blanket on the desert is much better than toasting our toes at home, for a time like this is one of works and not festivity.

Saturday Dec 12th 1914

I am back again in barracks having returned from the Pyramids yesterday. We were relieved about 10 yesterday morning and it is typical of the military character of the Australians that a Major went round to post the first sentries and even then, he lost one of them. After being relieved the next thing was to get home. We were seven or eight miles from home and no transport for our baggage. But transport we had to have so I spotted two carts which were working for Australians and drew them onto our camp ground and got them loaded up. It was a near shave though for a transport officer caught me just as we were setting off. “Sergeant! Where the hell are you taking those carts?” I thought we should have had to unload again but I threw myself on his mercy and managed to get away. It was a bit cheeky though. But I took example from Mick. And I might say that we landed back with more stuff than we took away.

During my absence orders have been issued for the wearing of English Khaki, and it is such a change. I went out in the morning in it and it was just like being at home.

On Monday we move to Abbasia for brigade training.

Monday Dec 14, 1914

10am. We are now packed up for Abbasia, whither we proceed at 2pm. In course of a walk round Cairo last evening I purchased a tarboosh, or fez, the mature red cap with black tassel. An Arab offered it to me in passing and I had not the slightest intention of buying. “How much?” I asked.

“Five piastres!”
“Get out of it; I’ll give you two!”
“Come on!”
“No, I don’t want it. Anyhow, give you one for it!”
He hesitated, then said “Me mafesh faloos!” which means ‘I have no money.”
Give me one and a half. Which I did and got a bargain.

This is a good example of the way we set about buying anything from the natives. They always ask three or four times more than they will eventually take. Of course, we were generally taken in by them at first but we soon tumbled to their dodges.

We went to a picture show last night. The first I have been to since leaving home, and we seemed to have dropped into a very anti-British shop. When any pictures of German troops were thrown on the screen the audience cheered to the echo. And when the awful devastation of the beautiful buildings of Louvain was pictured, I thought the audience would have gone made. They went into ecstatics. How I sighed to have a few of our fellows there. We’d have turned the place inside out.

We had another amusing experience last night too, which made me very indignant at first but afterwards I smiled. We stopped at a postcard shop to buy some cards and were looking at some in a stand outside, when all of a sudden, the shopman came out in a dickens of a sweat, snatched up the stand and took it inside pointing to several empty places and jabbering like an agitated baboon. He seemed to think we had pinched his blighted cards, which by the way, I wouldn’t have sent to my worst enemy. His state of mind was something terrible and when we soon saw the humorous side of the affair, we simply stood and laughed at him. I suppose he took us for common or garden soldiers. Get away you lads!

Tuesday Dec 15 1914

At Abbasia. We are quartered in the main barracks. Leaving Kasr-el-Nil at 2pm yesterday we arrived here about 4:30. We had them to issue biscuits and blankets, there are no beds, and by the time we were ready for tea it was quite dark. However, we managed to get the rations issued somehow.

And then it was time for me to go on duty for I was on Canteen. At 9:30 I closed the Canteen and went groping my way, to our mess. These barracks are a monstrous affair and there are very few lights so that to a stranger it is like threading subterranean passages, moving about at night. I nearly broke my neck last night by fancying I was on the level when there was a flight of steps in front. I didn’t say much until I landed at the bottom, and then – well, I’ll not soil the pages of this journal by recording any more of the incident. When I got to the mess there was a piano and we had a little impromptu singsong until 11pm.

The sergeants in our Company, 10 of us, are quartered in a room originally designed for two, and as we had managed to secure a bed each, its capacity was very severely tried. However, with skillful maneuvering we managed to get all the beds in and eventually got to sleep. We call our house the 4×2 room. For non-regimental readers I will explain that a piece of 4×2 is just sufficient flannelette to go through a rifle barrel.

This morning reveille went at 5:30 and I had to get up in the dark and be at the cookhouse before six, for I am B.O. [Battalion Orderly]. Just now I have an hour to myself before accompanying the Orderly Officer on barracks inspection.

The rumour about our going home on January 7th still retains its currency, and increases in strength. For some reasons I am inclined to believe it, but many others cause me to reject it utterly. Best take things as the come.

Wednesday Dec 16 1914

I have today been on my first day’s training and I returned, well not fagged but very tired. However, after a wash and a brush up I felt in the pink again. We rendezvoused at a place somewhere the other side of Heliopolis at 10:30am. The weather was very warm; it only wants a few days to Christmas and we were all sweating with the heat this morning. Previous to commencing work we were inspected by the G.O.C. Division and he pronounced the 9th ‘a fine set of men!’. I think he was pulling our leg. The work was the brigade in attack and the object of attack being 8,000 yards away. It can be imagined on what a large scale the work was. The 9th was the advance guard, the 4th and 5th East Lancs following on, and the 10th Manchesters bringing up the reserves. The advance continued for about 3 hours before the assembly sounded and the bugles were heard none too soon.

We arrived back at barracks about 4pm and had dinner at 4:30. We had had nothing since 6:30 in the morning.

In orders tonight I read that the battalion is confined to barracks until Saturday. I wonder what the dickens is on the cards now.

During the early part of our advance this morning we crossed a part of the desert which seemed to have been a great cemetery, for it was strewn with bones in all directions. Where holes had been dug, they had laid bare human bones representing any and every part of the anatomy. This is not the first region of this kind we have struck. I should like very much to know the real explanation of these places.

Monday Dec 21st 1914

Since last entering up this journal some days have elapsed and the spirit has never moved me to make a start until now. As a rule, this brigade training keeps us out from 7 to 9 hours a day and when one returns at 4pm the day is very quickly over. By the time one has had a bath and begun to feel OK again it is tea-time. After tea, one must needs have a lie down for the day on the desert has created a ravenous appetite, after satisfying which one does not feel very ‘jildy’ for some time. The evening thus gets lolled away and one tumbles into bed, to follow the same routine tomorrow.

We are getting quite used to our new quarters and even like them. One great thing here is that we only provide two regimental duties, Canteen and Battalion Orderly, against seven which we had to find at Kasr-el-Nil with an escort chucked in now and then to fill up.

Our menu has made a remarkable improvement this week. We have got a native caterer from somewhere and one who knows his job evidently. But what it is going to cost I don’t know.

On Saturday evening a few of us went into Cairo to see the sights, and we did see them! The memory of it will linger as long as I live. Would that I could forget it but that will be very hard. This is the most loathsome, filthy, disgusting place it is possible to conceive. From what I hear, I have not seen one hundredth part of what Cairo has to show, but I have seen sufficient to last me a lifetime. I have seen womanhood debauched and sunk into absolutely the lowest depths of degradation, and the sight is revolting in the extreme. Reverence for womanhood is unknown here. Cairo is the cesspool of unfortunate women. They come here as a last resort.

Yesterday the British Protectorate was formally instituted in Cairo and the new Sultan installed. Some of the 9th went to the procession but as it was optional in my case and necessitated arriving at 4am I thought it best to have a lie over instead. I did not go out at all yesterday but I believe there were great doings in Cairo. All the people and the Tommies as well were bent on having a good time; and during the evening the town was the scene of much hilarity and rowdyism.

Tonight, I am stopping in again for I feel more like rest. Cairo somehow has but little attraction nowadays. And if we go down now, we simply stroll round the European Quarter; in fact, we seldom go out unless there is something we want.

Thursday Dec 24 1914

I nearly killed poor Bony the other night.  We call him ‘Blighty’ now, ‘Blighty’ being a soldier’s term which he is always using and which means home. Really it was all ‘Flanagan’s’ fault for if he had not wakened me, well, I should still have slept. Now Flanagan had been visiting the mess of the Westminster Dragoons and came home rather merry. And noisy! Off came my blankets and I awoke to find his face grinning at me from the foot of the bed. No one could be angry with ‘Flanagan’ when he laughs, he is much too funny, so I must needs enter into the spirit of the evening and prepare for a rough house. I got up to arrange my bed, donning my tarboosh for the purpose. It was too tempting a mark for Flanagan, and bang! A 2lb loaf landed against the door with a terrific rattle. Nothing behind, I ‘cobbed’ it back but missed him and only just ‘ducked’ in time to get out of the path of its return journey or my head would now be ‘mafeesh’. Then I got into bed with the tray so that next time I would have some protection from the blankets. From this position I threw again at ‘Flanagan’ and then it was I nearly killed poor ‘Blighty’. It wasn’t my fault that ‘Blighty’s’ head lay between Flanagan’s and my own, nor was I to blame that he was asleep; he ought not to have been asleep with all the row going on. Anyhow, I suppose I was to blame for my wretched aim. I summoned all my strength for the throw and ‘Blighty’ caught it full in his ‘tummy’. Poor beggar, he lay groaning for quite ten minutes; he was fairly knocked out a time. And that put a stop to our mad half hour.

At 12 o’ clock today we returned from our biggest day’s training having been out from 12:45pm on Wednesday. We bivouacked, the whole brigade, somewhere about 10 miles East of Cairo on the plain whereon once fell the Manna of the Israelites. And if the Israelites were kept wandering about here for forty years, well, poor beggars. I don’t know how they did it. Anyway, they couldn’t have been in full marching order.

We reached the place of bivouac about 5:30pm and before tea was ready it was quite dark. Only experienced tea party waiters and waitresses will have even the slightest idea of my difficulty in doling out grub for forty hungry big boys in the dark. However, I managed it eventually and it was not long before the bivouac was quite quiet. I got no sleep, however. About 9 o’ clock a desperation to be silly descended on our little circle and we began to act the goat. Seven of us tried to get down in a space not big enough for three comfortably and so we had some fun. When at last the mad work subsided and we settled down to sleep, I found I could not find slumber by any means. I got up and got down again ten times until about 2 o’ clock I decided to walk about until reveille. I roamed about for an hour with a blanket round me looking like an Indian Chief trying to keep out the cold, until at 3 o’ clock the men were roused and got into their equipment. A beautiful sight during the early hours of the morning was a great white star which everybody said was the Star of Bethlehem. It was a great white orb almost like a small moon, and its light easily reached the earth.

At 3:30am in the darkness the battalion moved off on mass destined for a point four miles away where we were to deliver an attack at dawn. Well, I do believe I walked most of the way in my sleep. I simply stumbled along. There were the other battalions of the brigade there as well. As the sun was just throwing its light above the horizon the charge was delivered which carried the position.

From there we marched back home, having breakfast en-route. As I was annoyed for the whole distance of ten miles with a nail in each shoe, I was glad when we did get home, which was about 12 noon.

Well, it is now Christmas Eve. Everything is quiet as yet but then it is only seven o’ clock. Personally, I feel as little of the Spirit of the Season as if it was Wakes time. And I got nearly scorched this morning. Weather like we are having and Christmas do not go well together to a Western mind.

Christmas Morning 1914

Just imagine, Christmas! The sun is shining brilliantly and it is quite warm. Christmas indeed; it’s more like Midsummer Day at home. We had a bit of a knees-up last night in the mess. A party of L.F. [Lancashire Fusiliers] sergeants came across and they didn’t half have a beano. This morning in our little 4×2 room we have decorated our Xmas tree. We have on it an old sock, a piece of soap, a cigarette card, an empty cigarette tin, a bottle of brilliantine, a bit of candle, a pack of cards, a salt cellar and a looking glass. Quite a mixed collection. This afternoon I shall have to take my place as head waiter, carver and caterer to my platoon. The men are having their Xmas dinner on the square. Christmas dinner in the open air under a brilliant sun.

“Whoever would ‘a thowt it!” What would I give just now for some English snow and ice and a big roaring fire, with the wind roaring outside! But war does upset one’s calculations so! It’s beastly annoying.

Sunday Dec 27 1914

Ah well! Xmas is over and tomorrow we commence training again. I looked with dismay at the prospect of Xmas under the present conditions but really, I have had a great time; a time that will ever be fresh in my mind as each Xmas time comes round. On Xmas day the men had their dinner on the square. It was the sight of a lifetime. The fellows had the time of their lives. Why, the whole battalion was drunk almost before the dinner was served. Of course, beer was free, and I never saw so many drunken men together in all my life. Dinner was a good meal. First there was roast beef, then turkey and of course pudding. And what was a great feature to the men was the fact that the officers and sergeants were waiting on them. With what gusto they shouted, “Hey sergeant! Fetch us some beer!” I was kept in the run with the beer jug.

Christmas Dinner 1914, Abbassia Barracks

Our own dinner did not come off till 6:30pm and we had a really splendid spread, after which we had a free bar which greatly helped in the enjoyment of the evening. The sing song proved quite a success and when we broke up about 1am we looked and felt as if we had had a good time. The worst of it was that the next day, with Joe and Harry, I had to be up at 6am to get ready for duty at the Territorial Boxing Day Sports on the Khedivial Sporting Club grounds. I must admit that I felt a bit groggy when I got up, (no! I was certainly not drunk), but it soon wore off and I took much enjoyment in the discharge of my duties as steward at the KSC.

We finished there at about 4:30, and we took a Garry to Abatzi’s, where we had arranged to meet the rest of our circle, and there we had tea. The season’s spirit was on us and, I fear, we got rather hilarious, although, mind, our hilarity was the outcome of the season and our own light heartedness, and not sue to any artificial stimulant in the way of drinks. This is a good point about our little circle, we can have a night out without having any drink. After tea we quitted Abatzi’s and forthwith trooped to the photographer to be snatched ‘en masse’. Poor fellows, we nearly drove him off his head. He kept appealing to us “You come for your photograph, and you do not help me one leetle bit. You laugh, you smile; I tell you it is eempossible to make you photograph good! We kept quipping him all the time, and in the end, I fear I spoiled the picture by moving.

From the photographers we went round Cairo, having considerable amusement of the native hawkers, until at 9:30 we went to the pictures. And I heard the funniest thing imaginable, ‘Hitchy Koo’ sung in French. We didn’t give it some ‘Hitchy Koo!’ The picture finished at 12pm ad then we had four miles to come home to Abbasia. So, we did it on donkeys! We barged the donkey-wallahs down to 3 ½ piastres a time (8 ¾ d). Four miles on a donkey for 8 ¾ d, not so bad, is it? We got home about 1-15am and everybody was quite satisfied with Xmas in Egypt.

 

Notes:

‘Jildy’ is derived from the Hindu word juldee, meaning energy or effort. When a soldier was ordered to do something with vigour, he was told to ‘put some jildy into it’.

The journal also bore the name ‘Vere Foster‘ on the cover perhaps implying that it was a school book from his teaching days.

‘Fletcher’ is Sgt. 220 Albert Fletcher.

‘Stringer’ is Colour Sgt. 237 Henry Stringer who was Harry Illingworth’s brother-in-law and a cousin of 2/Lt. Ned Stringer.

‘Newton’ is Colour Sgt. 154 George Newton.

‘Illingworth’ is Sgt. 469 Harry Illingworth who was killed in action on June 5, 1915.

‘Joe & Harry’ are Sgt. Joe Harrop and Sgt. Harry Illingworth.

Acknowledgement:

This journal has been transcribed from originals held at the Imperial War Museum. The transcription is provided here under Non Commercial Use License and remain the copyright of the IWM.

The papers are catalogued here at the IWM.

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite

Noel Duncan Braithwaite was born on May 5, 1891 in Ashton under Lyne to John and Ruth Annie Braithwaite (née Charlesworth). Noel was the second son of John Braithwaite, a stone mason who became a successful builder and business owner. Noel’s older brother, Reginald, became a bricklayer working in his father’s business but Noel excelled academically and followed a different path.

In 1893, when Noel was 2 years old, his mother died and two years later John Braithwaite married Mary Jane Wilson. She quickly had two daughters, Edith Vera Braithwaite and Reenie Braithwaite, and by 1901 the family of six were living in Ashton on Whiteacre Road and Noel was attending the Parish Church School. He then attended the municipal Secondary School, (which later became Ashton Grammar School), where Ned Stringer was a Chemistry teacher. He decided to become a teacher and passed his matriculation examinations at Victoria University (Manchester University) and by 1911 was a teacher at the Parish Church Elementary School. On November 1, 1910 he joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force along with around a dozen others.

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite
Copyright Imperial War Museum

He had ambitions to become a doctor and began studying Latin, a pre-requisite in 1911, but his circumstances changed and he instead started a coal merchant’s business employing at least one other Territorial. At the outbreak of war, he was mobilised as a Sergeant in F Company of the 9th Manchesters and proceeded with them to Chesham Fold Camp in Bury where the Division was gathering prior to their departure for Egypt on September 10, 1914. When he attested in November 1910, he would have agreed to serve for four years and also to extend that period, for not more than 12 months, in case of imminent national danger or great emergency. Consequently, he became “time-expired” shortly after arriving in Egypt, but under territorial regulations was required to serve another 12 months. Additionally, as a business owner, he was compelled to close his new business as a consequence of discharging his service to his country and to his credit he did so seemingly without regret or rancour.

In Egypt, the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build fitness and endurance. Additionally, the old eight Company model (A-H) was replaced with a four Company model (A-D), 4 platoons in each Company and 4 sections in each platoon. Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite became one of 10 sergeants in “C” Company.

Colour Sergeant 237 Henry Stringer                        29yo
Sergeant 220 Albert Fletcher                                      28yo
Sergeant 128 Thomas Langan                                     29yo
Sergeant 76 James Lawton                                           43yo
Sergeant 445 John Albert Simcox                             31yo
Colour Sergeant 154 George Newton                      29yo
Sergeant 427 Thompson Tym                                      26yo
Sergeant 469 Harry Illingworth                                   23yo
Sergeant 1125 Noel Duncan Braithwaite                24yo
Sergeant 1126 Joseph Cox Harrop                             24yo

During his time in Egypt, he kept a journal detailing his activities, experiences and impressions of his first trip overseas and this is published here.

A few days after Noel’s 24th birthday, the battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915. Less than a month later, his former classmate and good friend Sergeant Harry Illingworth was killed by shellfire on June 5th. Colour Sergeant Henry Stringer, Harry’s brother-in-law, wrote to his father part of which is excerpted below:

“I am on a sorry mission in writing to you this journey. The last letter was congratulations, but this is to say that Harry had the misfortune to be hit by a shrapnel shell whilst superintending the taking of ammunition on Saturday, the 5th inst. The shell struck him in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Joe Harrop was near him at the time, and we got him out of the trench, and did the only thing left for us to do, namely, give him a decent resting place, and got the minister to bury him. I need hardly say with what regret we laid him in his last rest. He was a friend of everybody, and particularly of the lads under his command. He was the first casualty in our Company, and also the first of our school lads. I need not say to you Jim, old lad, what the loss to us all means, but I ask you to accept not only the sympathy of his personal friends, but of the whole Company.”

Two days later, on June 7th, “C” Company was ordered to take two saps in front of the firing line that were being troublesome. Once again, an excerpt from another of Colour Sergeant Henry Stringer’s letters home provides some context:

“We got the order to attack two saps leading to a gully, about 7 o’ clock pm and we were to attack at 7:30. There was no time for preliminaries, and I never saw Noel after about 6:30. The Company moved to position, and I was ordered to go down the sap which lay on the left with my cousin Ned and his men. This sap met the other sap to be taken, in the gully. Both saps and gully were occupied by Turks, and we were informed that another party was to clear the gully before we attacked. This attack was not successful, and led to our heavy casualties. Capt. Hamer, Lt. Wade, and Noel’s men, and Joe Harrop’s men, went over the top and stormed the other trench across the open.”

Noel was the ‘Camp Reporter’ for the Ashton Reporter newspaper and had also contributed articles to the Ashton Herald newspaper in the past. Both papers covered his death, publishing accounts of his death. The article from the June 26, 1915 edition of the Ashton Herald is provided below in its entirety:

The Herald, June 26, 1915

A Gifted Ashtonian

The utmost sympathy will be extended to Mr. and Mrs. John Braithwaite of Beech House, Mossley-road, in the loss they have sustained if their son, Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite, of the 1/9th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Braithwaite received a brief letter from Sergeant Henry Stringer conveying the sad news of his friend’s gallant end. In his letter dated June 8th Sergeant Stringer wrote: “I have the sorrowful duty of telling you that Noel, in doing his little bit of a hard task allotted to the Company yesterday, fell in action. Only last Saturday, the 5th we had our first loss in Harry Illingworth, and now Noel and others, including the captain, are lost. Personally, I have lost a dear and near friend, and not only myself but the others of the Parish Company and the Company generally.

The deceased sergeant was only 24 years of age, but he had a wide circle of friends in the town. A man of exceptional intellectual attainments his loss will be keenly felt in many quarters. He received his elementary education at the Parish Church School, and subsequently attended the Secondary School. He decided to study for the scholastic profession, and succeeded in passing the matriculation examination at Victoria University. For a short period, he was on the teaching staff at the Parish Church School. Afterwards he commenced the study of Latin with a view to entering the medical profession, but circumstances prevented a continuance of his studies. Shortly before the war broke out, he became principal of the firm of N. D. Braithwaite and Co. coal merchants, of Park Parade. He threw the whole of his energies into the business and gave promise of developing into a smart commercial man. On mobilisation, Sergeant Braithwaite, who had served six years in the force1, joined his battalion. By his many good qualities the deceased earned the respect of officers and men alike, by whom his death is greatly lamented. Sergeant Braithwaite was a talented amateur actor, and was a member of the Parish Church Operatic Society.

Before going out to Egypt Sergeant Braithwaite contributed several well written articles to the “Herald”, dealing with various subjects.

Sergeant Noel Duncan Braithwaite was killed in action, along with many others of his Company on June 7, 1915. He was just 24 years old. His body was never recovered and so he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

The Empire (or Cape Helles) Memorial
Copyright: Harvey Barrison

Additionally, he is commemorated on the Ashton under Lyne civic memorial, Ashton Parish Church Central Sunday School and by Ashton Grammar School.

2/Lt. Ned Stringer’s Letters

 

107 Burlington St
Ashton-u-Lyne
Sept 4th, 1914

Dear Mr. Stringer,

May I take the liberty of writing what my feelings prevented me giving expression to this morning. I recognize that Egypt may not be your final destination & realising the sacrifices you are making I sincerely hope you may be preserved in health & strength, & whatever be the dangers through which you may be called to pass, or the arduous duties you have to perform, that the only fear you may know, will be the fear of God, in whose care you are.

May your actions stimulate us to make sacrifices in the same cause & remembering you & others before the Lord God of battles, & trusting in the righteousness of our common cause, may we look hopefully, for the time, when in the providence of God, you will be able to return home, to kindred & friends.

Yours Sincerely

G. Butterworth

Notes:
George Butterworth, 50 years old, was Science Master at Ned’s school, Ashton-under-Lyne Secondary School. Clearly, Ned paid a farewell visit to the school prior for departing for Chesham Fold Camp in Bury.

 

 

Chesham Camp
Sunday 6th Sept 1914

Dear Ralph,

The enclosed came in today and as I thought it was an advert, I opened it.  For this I am sorry but Wade suggested it.

We have definite orders to entrain tomorrow at 10:00am and my address will be:

L. Stringer
9th Battalion Manchester Regiment
East Lancashire Division, T.F.
Egypt

No notice came as to our station though several units have been allotted to such places as Khartoum & Cyprus.

Captain Okell asked me to get to his company if I could and Wade has placed me there.

It feels years already since I left home & I have fallen into camping as if to the manor born.

I hope you are still progressing favourably & that you will soon be fully restored to your health, but do take care & follow all advice.

Ann, I know will now be better. Give her my love & I hope she will bear all her troubles with her usual fortitude.

There is more camp news, J. Broadbent has joined again & comes in as my junior sub. He tells me he was glad to get away especially as his wife is again pregnant. It must have taken some courage to leave her in the circumstances.

From what I hear a second division is to be raised, so you will have a chance when you have fully recovered.

And now, lad, accept all my good wishes. I don’t need to tell you to look after Ann & believe me to be

Your more than brother

Ned.

Notes:
Capt. Ralph Lees was taken ill at Chesham Fold camp and had to leave for an operation at the Ashton Infirmary. After he recovered he was appointed Officer Commanding the Depot at the Armoury, Ashton-under-Lyne.

 

 

RMSP Aragon
Southampton
10th Sept 1914

My dear Ralph,

Colonel Wade & the Officers have asked me to again write you and give you their good wishes for a speedy recovery.

We left Bury last night after experiencing a most awful storm. The camp was like a stream & every tent was inches deep. Moreover, we had just examined the men’s equipment & their rifles, great coats, etc. were left out.

The journey here was a pleasant one. We started at 9:40pm & reached here, via Penistone and Nottingham at 9:10am.

I have been on guard and have just had tea. The grub seems very good & we have first class cabins.

The men’s quarters are wretched. They are placed in specially made rooms below. These will be about 6ft 6 high & there is no ventilation to speak of. It already smells like the No 1 cage Belle Vue and they are to sling their hammocks & sleep in the same room.

We depart shortly.

I now give you again my love & best wishes.

Please give it once again to Ann & likewise if you are writing Bert[ha] & Janet, enclose this letter.

May all of you keep well & may we all unite again this year if possible.

I am no sentimentalist as you know but I keenly feel leaving all those whom I so dearly love.

Get well as soon as you can

Yours

Ned.

Love to Bob & Ned
Love to Ernest & Frank
Especial love to all the girls

Notes:
1. “Bob & Ned” referred to Robert Saunsbury, his brother-in-law married to his sister Janet, and Edward Saunsbury his nephew born in April 1914.
2. “Ernest & Frank” referred to Ernest Kenyon, his brother-in-law married to his sister Bertha (known to him affectionately as “Bert”), and Frank Kenyon his 8-year-old nephew. The Kenyon’s owned a successful rope manufacturing business in Ashton.
3. “The girls” were his three sisters Ann, Janet and Bertha.

 

 

RMSP Aragon
14th Sept 1914

My dear Girls,

It feels something of a dream to be out here, off Lisbon in company with 16 other troopships and two men of war. Surely one will wake up & find oneself in bed at Trafalgar Square.

We left Bury as I have told you arriving Southampton last Thursday at 9am. The Aragon left at 11pm and steamed due West to Off Plymouth where the various troopships assembled. This by the way meant a 24 hour wait.

The ships then steered South at six knots for hours in order to allow a collier to travel with us. The Bay of Biscay was rough & the slow speed caused a tremendous amount of sickness. The poor men were bad in their hammocks and below resembled a pigsty.

Needless to say, I was not bad, the only food I missed being a portion of chicken which was thrown violently off my plate, along with sauce, salt & all utensils from the unprotected centre of the table.

This is an A1 boat & we have first class cabins & the grub is as good as any I have ever shuck.

It is not suited to keep us in Bury condition however though we get a considerable amount of physical exercise from 6am onwards.

Three days ago, I was inoculated for enteric. Dr. Douglas, who recognised me, (& I had not known him) as an old Owens pal, carried out the operation. The serum is injected just below the clavicle and patients are sometimes very bad. I got up to breakfast next morning but was very glad indeed to return to bed at 10 & I stayed in bed until dinner. I had no temperature or sign of fever, but the left shoulder felt just as if it had been kicked by a mule.

Yesterday three of us were in charge of the ship’s guard for 24 hours and as soon as the sun set one of the warships signalled that, for some cause, we must proceed with lights out. This we did, but inspection of 22 guards, placed all over the ship from the topmost decks to the armoury in the hold wants a bit of doing. Fortunately, I had managed to procure an electric torch.

We are now off Lisbon & hope to be at Gibraltar tomorrow. It is very hot indeed & we have no thin clothes with us. The only folks well provided for are a corps of Westminster Yeomanry. The officers & men are distinctly class, a Major being Lord Howard de Walden & there are so many honourables that I have not even noticed their names, so you see we are now in classy places.

Good luck to you all & may we have many more happy days together.

Love to each & every one

Yours

Ned.

 

 

RMSP Aragon
16th Sept 1914

My dear Ralph,

According to latest information, mails are to be taken off at 11pm tonight so I will add a little to what I have said to Ann.

The journey continues slowly but the hour is now very great & no drill was put on board as anticipated.

I am in very good training. We start with 45 mins good Physical Ex at 6am and the game goes on interspersed with lectures & parades of the men till 6pm.

All the officers send you their kind regards. Major Connery is very anxious to be remembered to you. He has had, or rather is having his troubles. From days ago, he was thrown through a door & fell on his head & side. There is nothing broken but he was very badly hurt & has had to keep to his bed since.

I trust by the time this reaches you that your own trouble will entirely have disappeared.

Please again give my love to Ann & accept some yourself. I seem to miss the daily sight and converse with you two more than anything else. However, we may soon be together again.

Remember me to all at Ashton & believe me to be

Yours

Ned.

We think our destination is Egypt but don’t know for certain yet.

 

 

No. 1

9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
CAIRO
14 Oct 1914

My dear Girls,

We are now thoroughly settled in our quarters and training is proceeding at a very satisfactory pace.

The officer’s mess is not so satisfactory. It is run by Tipton’s Lad and costs us 6/- per day. The food is not good and when it takes nearly all one’s pay to live a change is required. We are trying a new caterer next week.

The War Dept. of Egypt seems as businesslike as any other military organization. They refuse to treat us financially as if we were other than an army of occupation, which means we draw no field allowances & are actually paid 3 /- per day less than we should draw in England. However, this will have to be altered or we shall see what can be done through parliament.

I don’t know Ralph’s opinion now, but I think we have hold of the wrong end of the stick and I am certain that if both men & officers had known what was in store for them there would have been practically no volunteers for foreign service with the Territorials. Any men who wished to fight would have joined other forces.

In spite of the dissatisfaction, the extremely rigorous training is making everybody extremely smart and we are a vastly improved battalion on our Bury form. At the same time, it hardens one & annoys incidentally to start at 5am, work till 12, then march from 8pm to 12pm, & stand again at 5. This we do twice a week.

Last Saturday I had a drive round with several others & we visited the Citadel of Cairo. This teems with interest, from Joseph’s time to the time when Saladin restored & rebuilt it when military men showed us remains of Napoleon’s cannonade, for he mounted cannon on a mosque 300 yards from the Citadel gate.

Flies, mosquitoes & other things still develop, in fact, I think we have got inoculated to mosquitoes. The barracks is on the Nile & here these pests breed & develop. One day last week my servant & I killed 23 mosquitoes, full of my blood, that had got through a hole in my mosquito net. This comes of buying cheap goods. John Broadbent bought 2 nets at 5 /- each & it is as much as they are worth. My face was blotched & bumpy all over but I carefully pricked each bite & rubbed in carbolic acid. This eased them and they are quite right now.

Notes:
“Tipton’s lad” was Pte. 2086 Timothy Tipton who joined on August 7, 1914 after having previously served for 4 years in the Territorials. A collier by trade, his father was a builder and so perhaps widely known in Ashton at the time.

 

No. 2

9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
CAIRO
14 Oct 1914

My dear Girls,

I well remember, more years ago than I like to count, a man cleaning our front stones & one day Ann found lice on her which had come from him. Result, the man was discharged. If he had lived in these barracks he would have been rewarded for his cleanliness.

Up to the present I have been spared lice but J.B. [John Broadbent] who shares my room has not. We are having our rooms scrubbed out daily & I think we shall soon be free.

As I sit in the hall writing this, I can see half a dozen lizards running up the walls, I suppose in search of spiders and the like. The sands of the barrack square & the desert are also alive. Here ants are commonest, some very small like our own ants but others quite ¾ of an inch long. The sun may be good, but I cannot say I like its effects as well as I do in England.

We all hope, as I suppose the whole world does, that peace will soon be declared & we can leave this land. Tourists may like it as they live in luxury a short time at Shepheard’s or the Continental but I am entirely cured of any desire I had in the past of living in the East.

Let me know how you all are. I have only had one letter since leaving England. I trust that the improvement in Ralph’s health that Ann mentions continues & that the rest of you are well. Though it is only seven weeks since I left you all it seems long enough & I would give a few shillings for my usual midday meal at home.

However, what is, is & all things come to him who waits, so with the fondest love to you all, believe me to remain

Your loving brother

Ned.

 

 

9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
CAIRO
25th Oct 1914

My dear Ann,

Today is Sunday, our rest day which we spend in sight seeing. We have just returned from Barrage a place 10 miles from Cairo where there is a Dam for retaining the Nile floods.

Training here gets quite formal. The men and officers are improving wonderfully and you would scarcely recognise them as the raw party which left Bury.

I am glad Ralph is better and delighted to hear that he is doing useful work at the Armoury. In fact, I read in the Reporter that the battalion saluted our house in their route march.

As normal I want you to do something for me. There are all kinds of rumours as to when we shall leave here, any time being stated up to January. Personally, I don’t think we shall leave for France at all unless things get much worse for England at the front. As this is the case, I feel I should like some clothes. They are expensive & poor here. I know that I shall not be asking too much when I ask you to send my last new suit, 3 shirts, & 6 collars including some new ones.

These will come in about a fortnight and will be very acceptable.

In your last letter you let me know of Tipping’s settlement but did not say what to me is much more important, and that is how you are yourself.

When you next write be sure to tell me this as your health as you know is not what it might have been.

I should like to hear too from Ralph. He is often mentioned in the mess & Major Connery seems especially glad that he had looked after his young son.

Please remember me to Miss Idle & Miss Whitehead & all others. Both officers and men will be delighted to hear from him.

I remain

Your affectionate brother

Ned.

Notes:
The reference to Major Connery’s young son is probably a reference to assistance provided by Capt. Lees to Arthur William Field Connery receiving his commission in the battalion after returning home from Argentina.

 

 

9th Batt. Manchester Regt
Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
CAIRO
1st Nov 1914

My dear Girls,

We are still quartered here & have no information as to what will be our next move.

Yesterday we learned that Russia had declared war on Turkey and there seems some likelihood of us having trouble here. The Egyptian Army mobilised and it is said that the Dervishes are gathering in the desert near Khartoum. This may or may not be true, but on Thursday night we worked from 11pm to 4am and there were to be no parades on Friday. About 12 an order came from headquarters that no one must leave the barracks until further notice & we are cooped up here like a lot of criminals. Moreover, we have got up a full defence scheme of the barracks & of Cairo. Many Indian troops including camel corps are coming to Cairo, so it seems as if something might happen.

On Saturday we had a divisional route march, all carrying ammunition. The men looked excellent and no one would have imagined that we were a citizen army.

Cairo is a place that grows on one. As I have got to know it better, I like it and now we have got accustomed to the food and heat all is well.

I can imagine Ann here, enjoying herself as is her custom in the summer fly killing. There are millions and millions & the more you try to knock them off your face, the more they return to the attack. The natives seem to take no notice of them at all.

Mosquitoes are not now so bothersome. We seem to have got inoculated & the bites merely appear as red spots now our room too is clean, thanks to daily washing out with IZAL and the use of tons & tons of Keatings.

For food we have porridge, fish & omelets for breakfast, decent meal & cheese for lunch & a quite reasonable dinner. The fruit we get is rather disappointing and fruit is unfortunately the chief vehicle for the conveyance of typhoid.

Letters come here badly & I am sure there must be some on the way, in fact there must be many travelling both ways. Up to the time of writing I have received 4 only so if you receive several from me in a bunch don’t be surprised.

I hope to be with you all at Christmas but don’t think it possible now unless the war suddenly collapses which seems unlikely.

Let me know how you all are from time to time, don’t blame me for not sending more items of interest – there are none here – and believe me to remain

Your loving brother

Ned.

For Ralph Ernest & Bob:

Beer very dear & bad. 1/- 3d per bottle
Whisky good. Usual brands. 2/- 6d per bottle
Soda Eng. 6d per bottle. Native 1d

Too warm to drink before sundown.

Cigarettes good. Cigars rotten

Notes:
1. IZAL disinfectant was manufactured by Newton, Chambers and Company, Ltd. of Sheffield.
2. Keating’s Powder was used to kill bugs & fleas.
3. Ralph, Ernest & Bob were Ned’s three brothers-in-law.

 

 

Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
CAIRO
22nd Nov 1914

My dear Girls,

Since I last wrote to you there seems to have been no change in the military situation in Europe. Cairo is very quiet, but North of Suez we are at present in touch with the Turkish troops.

Along with my Company, I spent last week under canvas on the desert at Abassia where there are shooting ranges. I did not exactly qualify as a marksman though practice may rectify this.

It is very hot still during the day, but at night, on the desert it gets bitterly cold, in fact, almost freezing. These extremes are causing much sickness & make Egypt an ideal place for pneumonia.

Tomorrow we are going into the desert towards Memphis in a three days trek. We carry all our food & water with us, bivouac in the desert, and I anticipate, generally have a rotten time.

Much fun has been caused by the letters which appear in the Reporter. Wade played Hamlet with Shaw & Wood because their people had been foolish enough to let the Reporter man see their letters, & then to crown all one of his own appears via Brownson.

It is also amusing to read the lies told by some of our men about shooting Arabs, etc. These descendants of Munchausen have been unmercifully chaffed by their messmates that I think the punishment fits the crime.

As a battalion we are receiving a tremendous amount of unwelcome attention from the brigade staff. The Brigadier seems to have made a dead set at the 9th, and I feel sorry for Wade. He is so worried that he is getting nervy and completely out of sorts. These are the times when I feel there is a not inconsiderable advantage in being a junior sub.

The hard graft is unsettling many others. Hilton has been in bed this week & Egbert Howorth is so ill that he has been sent to Helwan for a few days.  He has been ill now for a month & does not seem able to get well.

Personally, I am fit & full of energy. I can march with the best and after a hard day’s tramp frequently play ten sets of tennis; and from this I feel less discomfort than I did at twenty.

Since writing the first two pages I have made arrangements for food for the trek. We shall have bread and bully beef the first day, & the second & third days bully beef and biscuits. We are also taking a large quantity of cheese. Not such a masonic banquet, is it? Still, we keep on keeping on, and like hard labour it does one a power of good.

I am getting to the end of my paper and must therefore conclude by again wishing you all everything that is good. I am afraid I shall not be home by Christmas but I assure you that you are never out of the thoughts of

Your loving brother

Ned.

Notes:
Major Arthur Hilton was the battalion’s Medical Officer. He died in Egypt on March 4, 1915. Ned and Major Hilton both belonged to the Minerva Masonic Lodge in Ashton.

 

 

Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
CAIRO
2nd Dec 1914

My dear Ann,

I received your parcel today. Everything was quite in order including the chocolates for which I thank you most kindly. It was quite characteristic of you and brought home to me most vividly the innumerable little kindnesses which you were daily doing for me when I was at home.

We have had a rather rough though enjoyable week since I last wrote you. Our Company was ordered to go on a trek in the desert, and we departed carrying what we could on the backs of 12 camels. We managed to put in our valises and sleeping bags with one blanket each for the men. At night when we bivouacked, we dug a hole in the ground and nestled together. For food we took tinned meat, tinned jam, biscuits, cheese & butter. Bread was only taken for one day as it does not keep & we also had water for one day and a plentiful supply of tea,

As usual we forgot to look after officer’s canteens and we were forced to cut our own food up with our knives & drink out of empty condensed milk tins.

After the first day we were only able to get filtered Nile water & I disgusted our cooks by making them boil this for half an hour before making tea.

The desert in the day is extremely hot but at night it grows so cold as to freeze. No rain had fallen since we arrived in Egypt but we got it the first night and as we lay there was a regular downpour. This did not affect me in the slightest but I am sorry to say that Frank Hamer at once began to complain of pain in the side and since we returned, he has developed pleurisy and is now at the Citadel Hospital, doing as well as can be expected. Nearly every other officer has been ill though we were the only Company to go on the trek. Egbert Howorth has had a complete breakdown. He is now at Helwan and seems making a slight improvement, though he was very much down in the dumps when I saw him last Sunday. Another officer, Cooke is in hospital with scarlet fever & Hilton & Wade have also been ill. Up to now I have not been on the list.

We are making arrangements for 20,000 troops from Australia and shall shortly leave here for Abassia where we shall start Divisional training.

I should like Ralph to get out, when he has time, how much it has cost him to replace the many things I took from his kit and reimburse himself from any money which may come in for me.

Your last letter seems quite cheerful and I am glad of it.

I intend having my photograph taken as soon as I can get out and will let you all have one for Christmas. It seems funny to talk of Christmas with the sun blazing hot at mid-day but it is quite on the cards by six o’ clock. It is this extreme variation of temperature which is giving us much trouble.

There is no real news here of the war, for what we get in the papers is obviously cooked. It seems to me the 9th will be a long time before it gets into action, though the trains of wounded which come in from time to time prove to us that fighting is going on not far away in Sinai.

Keep up your spirits old girl and look after yourself. You can rest assured I am now quite capable of looking after myself. Give my love to Ralph and the girls – may we all meet soon – and believe me to remain

Your loving brother

Ned.

P.S. I learn that we shall be at Abassia Barracks for Christmas, so address any letters.

9th Batt. Man Reg.
Cairo

 

 

Kasr-el-Nil Barracks
Cairo
6th Dec 1914

My dear Girls,

I wish you all at home a most happy Christmas.

I hoped to be home with you but instead shall spend the holiday on Divisional Training. The 9th has been allotted the main Barracks, Abassia, Cairo and we take over next Monday. These quarters are no improvement on our present ones. The rooms are unfurnished, and the men will have to sleep on the floor. I don’t suppose they will mind a bit – they seem to be able to do anything now.

I learn from letters from Ashton that I have been ill and am being invalided home. This may be sarcastic, but I don’t like it as I think I have the cleanest bill of health of all the officers.

You will be pleased to learn that Frank Hamer has completely recovered from his illness. He returned from hospital last Monday and seems thoroughly himself again.

I hoped to get a photograph taken for you for Christmas, but have not had time up to now. As soon as possible I will have one taken.

The things enclosed are worked by natives in the bazaars. I saw one of the trays finished and it is quite interesting to see the men inlay the silver.

Ralph, Ernest & Bob must wait till I can find anything for them, but I give them my heartiest good wishes. Ned will have to wait also. They don’t seem to do anything for children here but manufacture them, and in this they are distinctly successful.

The table centres I hope you will like. The small things I took after debating on the price in a manner Egyptian, for discount.

We know nothing of our future work but whatever I get, and whatever may happen, I hope you will all enjoy yourselves as much as you can, and 1915 may see us all reunited in one happy family.

Again, Good Luck to you all

Yours

Ned.

 

 

Abassia Main Barracks
Cairo
26th Dec 1914

My dear Ralph,

I got your most welcome news of Ann two days ago. It was rather funny. Two letters form you came in the same batch & I read the one in which you said she was convalescent first. The house must have resembled a hospital, but I think that you were wise in employing a nurse.

We finish our brigade training on Wednesday and return to Kasr-el-Nil on Thursday. The training has been extremely hard as we have had a march of from 5 to 7 miles each day to the rendezvous. Much improvement has been shown by all units, but there still remains in my opinion great room for far more.

On Christmas Day we gave the men a good feed. The Mayor sent £80 and we gave them a good do. The men thoroughly enjoyed themselves and there were very few sober when the job was completed. It seemed to do them good to let themselves go and all were becoming a bit stale with the continuous training. Today sports are being held for the Military and we should put up a decent show at them.

I am very sorry that you seem so unsettled at the Armoury, but you have the consolation that no one in this war has a bed of roses. Goodness knows we have enough to do and quite as much as we are physically capable of, and in addition to this there is nothing but harassing criticism from the brigade staff.

Wade sprained a muscle in his leg last week while running after a mule that had broken loose and he has had to be up for some days. I think he is now fairly on the way towards recovery.

The State Express Cigarettes arrived safely on Xmas Eve. They were good and I much appreciate them.

I do hope Ann will take care of herself now that she is on the way to recovery. No doubt she is worried about things in general but rest will do her the most good. I trust that she will soon be able to carry on as usual.

You seem to have had some trouble with Tipping’s affairs. Don’t bother about these things please. They can wait for some time at any rate. If the Promissory Note is of any value, you will find it on the right-hand drawer of my dressing table. Ann has my keys.

As regards what will happen to us, I cannot give you any information. We are, I think, where we shall stay for some time, if not to the end of the war. There are 30,000 Australian troops in Cairo. They are men of fine physique but seem to be almost undisciplined. These will, in my opinion, be sent on to the front when they have finished training and we shall remain.

Of course, we are seeing something of the war from the Bedouin & Turkish forces. A fortnight ago an engineer officer & seven men who crossed with us on the Aragon and who were quartered at Kasr-el-Nil, were all killed by an explosion on the Suez Canal. We only know if their deaths and no explanation of the manner in which they died is forthcoming.

The news which we get is very poor and unreliable. The papers are always stating that great victories have been achieved and correcting the news the next day, so that we don’t know where we are.

Last Sunday part of the battalion – in which I was included – took part in the ceremony of annexation of Egypt when the Khedive was deposed & Sultan Hassan placed in the throne. It was not much of a ceremony but historically very important and nice to be at.

You don’t say in your letter how you are keeping yourself. I trust you have had no return of your trouble and that you are now quite well.

Give Ann my love. I often think of you both & wish I were back in peaceful Ashton. I feel well, keep very fit indeed, and don’t altogether dislike soldiering.

I again wish you all the good things I can & remain

Yours as ever

Ned.

 

 

Abassia Barracks
29th Jany 1915

My dear Ralph,

I was delighted to receive your letter of the 10th yesterday.

With regard to the business portion. I apologize for, & at the same time heartily thank you for the trouble you have taken for me, and you have just done what I should have suggested if on the spot. The result of the half year’s divi is excellent & I hope all participants realise as well as I do, how much they have to thank Ann for this. I enclose the signed form & hope you will carry on your suggestion of transfer of cash.

I suppose we finished our divisional training yesterday. It has been decidedly trying. On one day we travelled over 26 miles of sand & stones to & from the maneuvering ground, & the next day over 20 – that is those who were left, for the men had to fall out by the score & one of the 5th [Manchesters] died the same night of heart failure. Things now seem to have been a steadier & last week’s work has been fairly easy.

We go under canvas tomorrow at Heliopolis, a few miles from Cairo, in readiness I think for rapid transit to the Suez Canal if we are required. Some of our division, the 7th Fusiliers are there now, and our artillery was in action two days ago, so that things are getting lively. All officers throughout the training carry their equipment & carry rifles, so that with revolvers, etc. we shall be able to give a Standout Exhibition on our return and I think one and all have had quite sufficient of military life.

You will be sorry to hear that Archbutt is in hospital suffering with gall stones. I don’t think he will see much more service & he seems to be ageing rapidly.

There are many more things I wish to tell you when I have time & I am now waiting to hand over the barracks to the 10th, so I have enough in hand.

Be sure to draw from my a/c the money I owe to you for kit, etc. Don’t forget this.

Tell Ann how glad I am she is on the improve & no one will be more glad to return home than I will.

Yours

Ned.

P.S. Hope you enjoyed the St. John.

Notes:
1. Ned’s father died in 1900 leaving £5,277 to his widow, daughters Ann and Bertha, and Son Ned. It would appear that some or all of this money was invested and paid a bi-annual dividend.

2. Major William Henry Archbutt suffered a heart attack and died in Egypt on February 8, 1915 after a short stay in hospital.

 

 

Heliopolis Camp
Cairo
1st Feb 1915

My dear Ann,

Your letter arrived today and I was not surprised to hear that Jack had joined the Lancers. What I don’t like about the job is his manner of going. I really don’t know what to suggest as the best course, for I do not know details, but I fear that his affairs must have got in a bad state indeed. Do not excite yourself and above anything else, don’t throw away money needlessly for the benefit of wholesale firms with whom an arrangement can be made. In fact, I should let Ethel & the Staffords take the matter in hand and you and Ralph keep out of it. I wish I were home to do something myself.

There may be enough to pay all his debts, at least there should be except amounts owing to his wife’s relatives & us & I think the splitting up of that home was certain to come sooner or later.

Jack has never written to me. I think even with his easy-going temperament he feels at times a trifle ashamed. Doubtless soldiering will suit him, for the existence is easy when the physical fatigue is taken out. At any rate, he has shown some pluck in joining the army & it is much better than if he had just disappeared.

Today’s paper tells of submarine raids near Liverpool & we seem to be a long way from Tipperary yet. At the same time, I should not be surprised if things collapsed rapidly as soon as our armies can begin the advance.

The weather here is lovely at present. Rather unpleasantly hot in the day time – about 90o – and I think that summer on the desert, as we are at present, will be almost unbearable.

Ralph seemed more cheerful in his last letter & I hope he will go on taking things as they come & not all he can as he always does. You sound better yourself and must take all the care you can. Get away as much as you can. The half year divi was splendid & to think that this income has been frittered away by Jack makes me angry. Still, I suppose one cannot keep money & spend it.

Give my love to all my friends & relatives & keep as much as you are able to yourself. All things will come out right in the end if we have luck.

Goodbye, I think of you often & often both during the night & the day & pray that you may soon get back your health & strength.

Yours

Ned.

Notes:
“Jack” is Ned and Ann’s youngest brother John James Stringer. Jack married Sarah Ethel Stafford in 1911 and evidently the marriage had its issues. Jack joined the 17th Lancers and first deployed overseas to France on September 30, 1915. He survived the war but his marriage did not.

 

 

Heliopolis Camp
Cairo
4th Mar 1915

My dear Ann,

Your letter arrived yesterday and I am extremely glad to learn that you have been able to stand the very trying time that must have undergone.

I hope Ralph is not sent out here. His great determination and strength of mind, which he has especially shown since war broke out, would carry him a long way, but Egypt is no place to send a man in the hot season. OKell wishes to stop now and of course you will know whether the change has to take place before you receive this.

Poor Albert Hilton, as you know, died yesterday and we have buried him in the English cemetery at Old Cairo today. He has not shown any sign of improvement since we left England but has had many days of sickness from time to time. Last Sunday he went to the Canal battlefield, returned to Camp about midnight & on Monday he was taken with what was thought to be enteric fever. He was removed to hospital on Wednesday and he died Thursday from meningitis, so that his old complaint claimed him at last. I shall miss him much as he & I have been very pally since we came here & such men cannot be replaced.

As regards other things, the socks have given general delight to all the men with the exception of Golightly. I have told him three times to call for them & he has not yet been. I need sincerely say that, unless he has a good explanation to give, he will get no socks.

Jack has written me. He said nothing of his affairs at home. I know Ernest will deal well with matters and the loss must go by the board. We must not be then skinned & foolish but let matters take their course for this job would have come on with or without the war.

As regards school matters, do not excite yourself more than you can & remember this, no loss is sufficient to cause any one on earth to weaken in any degree the frail hold which we have on life. Let things go on & ask Ernest & Bob to act for you if Ralph is away. They will manage things.

Now Ann you seem to be bearing up well. Keep on and we shall all pull through. If Ralph is not with you, give him my love & all the good wishes I can express. For myself I am very well but I shall be glad to again see you all.

Believe me, dear Ann, to remain

Your loving brother

Ned.

Notes:
1. Captain OKell’s first and only son died after a few months of life in early 1915 without OKell ever having seen him. He struggled to deal with this and was eventually invalided from Gallipoli to England suffering from a mental breakdown. The reference in this letter is the first indication of the mental strain he was under.

2. “Golightly” is Pte. 1345 Eric Golightly.

 

 

Shepheard’s Hotel
Cairo
11th April 1915

My dear Ann,

I was very pleased to hear this morning that Ralph has been given another job and is not coming to Egypt. Your letter, along with one from Ralph reached Camp yesterday & I am sure that neither you nor he will be sorry that he is to remain in England.

We are under orders to move to the Canal and we expect to go in a day or two. The Turks are again massing & we are to occupy the defending trenches. This is not a pleasant prospect for summer, for today it is 83o F in the shade & the sun feels to burn one up.

I still keep well & wish I could have a weekend with you all.

Ernest has written me & he seems to be fairly worried to death with ill health, Jack’s business & other things. I am sorry I cannot be present to give a hand at arranging things, for it seems a great deal for Ernest to tackle alone, although I am sure things could not have been put in better hands.

There is little news here to tell either about the war or anything else. Training still goes on; we march up the hill & down again daily & sleep out on the desert from time to time. I enjoy greatly, in a manner, the outdoor life, but it feels nice on Sundays to come to this hotel & do oneself well just for a change.

Food is good here & something like one gets in England & there are few flies. In Camp there are so many of these now that life is almost unbearable.

I hope you are feeling better though your letter shows me that you are not so grand. You must keep up, whatever happens, as well as you possibly can. Ralph will doubtless get an opening with the new 3rd Batt. I hope he gets his Majority for this he fully deserves. Now that he is not coming here, tell him how glad I am, for I am convinced that he would never have been able to stand the terrible heat without a gradual toasting such as we have had.

Remember me to Miss Idle & Miss Whitehead. At any rate you are blessed with friends to give you kindly help while we are away. Don’t worry & let matters take their course & believe me all will be well in the end.

Au revoir, I wish I were just coming in for my Sunday dinner. Good Luck to you both & believe me to remain

Yours as ever

Ned.

 

 

Egypt
28 Apl 1915

Dear Ann,

We are now really on active service and – why I don’t know but it is an army order – we have on no account to disclose our position.

I may say however that apart from the risks of a bullet the place is much healthier & cooler than Cairo was. Our work is lighter, and I feel much less compunction in facing the summer heat than I did before.

We are living on men’s rations plus some imported tinned goods and I think this is better than eating so much a la stuff from a caterer. At any rate, it suits me & I feel as well now as I ever did in my life.

I received a letter from Ernest a few days ago. He deserves our many thanks, for he seems to have worked well in the interests of us all – Good luck to him.

Bertha says on a p/c that they have been with Janet & Bob and seemingly had a nice time; but the most welcome thing she says is that you are better in health. I am glad of it – let the good work go on apace.

In yesterday’s orders it stated that Ralph had landed in Egypt and would forthwith join us. How the error arose I can’t make out, but during my temporary absence from the mess, bets were freely exchanged, settlement following when I appeared on the scene. I do hope his health is better but from what Harold Hyde & Frank Marland have written me I doubt it. I did hope his operation would have made a wonderful difference but doubtless his many worries have upset him. At least he has the good wishes of all.

Now Ann don’t worry. We are all in the lap of the gods & can take anything that comes however unforeseen. I think of you many times a day & very often in our dark lonely night vigils but all will come out right. Believe me to remain

Yours as ever

Ned.

 

 

Egypt
2nd May 1915

Dear Ann,

We have not had a very long stay on the Canal. The Turks have retreated again towards El Arish and I think they will be some time before they again attack the Canal.

This must also be the view of the authorities for we are on the move again. This time we go somewhere near the Dardanelles & I suppose our experiences of this terrible war will get worse & worse. However, we can only hope for the best but many must be left behind in Turkey. We have no use for many things and the amount of luggage we are allowed is decidedly limited, so that I thought it best to send home my mufti & other goods.

I am glad Ralph is not here. Food & water are bad. The best food is tinned stuff & our water is got in canals from the Nile & filtered. Needless to say, the health of the men is fair only & to add to our discomfort there are millions & millions of flies. I don’t think our new move will make us any worse from a health standpoint.

My letters will now be few & far between but if anybody gets through, I think I shall.

I suppose I am suffering from a bit of home sickness, but I should so like to see you all once again. Still, this cannot be and I give you all my best wishes & love from the far-off desert. I have had a rough time since I left you all, but all things have only brought home to me our mutual love which will continue to the end of time.

Good luck to you all & may we meet again soon.

Believe me, dear Ann, to remain

Yours as ever

Ned.

 

 

Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
May 28, 1915

My Dear Bert,

Your welcome letter arrived today and as I am “resting”, so called, I have time to reply. We have been three weeks here & during this time I have lived many lives. We saw a bit of fighting on the Canal and then came on here. As we arrived, we found the whole British fleet in action and hundreds of guns replying. I never realised how real Belle Vue fireworks were but this bombardment which I suppose is the biggest that has happened in the history of the world was terrible.

At any rate the army is now well fixed up on land. When we landed, we were heavily shelled & an old South African soldier said he had seen more shells aimed at us in 10 mins than he saw in the whole South Africa war.

We advanced and occupied trenches and all through the night realised what rifle and maxim fire was. Later, we dug ourselves in the earth and then lived in dug-outs in the earth for some days. At last, we occupied the firing line & at the end of five days when we could not sleep, my company was given the job of making an advance. Each man took a pick and shovel and we rushed out in front and began to dig a trench 150 yards forward. We of course got head cover as soon as we could and by 2am were fairly well established though machine guns tried their best to remove our cover and get us at all points. We struck a spring about 3am and the water got above our knees and to add to our discomfort a heavy storm broke over us.

We worked on however, as only men who fear the worst can and they could not relieve us until 3pm next day. During those 30 hours I lived a lifetime and the feeling came that anything was preferable to a continuance of things. Now in the rest camp in delightful sunshine by the sea in a country resembling Marple things seem brighter.

Of our many casualties and trials, I will say nothing but I think all actually fighting & realising what war is, want peace – peace with honour but not too unbending an attitude.

Of the many thousands of England’s best lives lost I say nothing but no one can realise what privations men on service have to go through.

Give my love to all & may we meet sometime again.

This serves as a reply to all letters. As regards business matters, they must go by the board. I am in agreement with any action taken. Money matters so little now that it might not exist at all.

Again, I give you all my love & hope to meet you again before very long.

Ever Yours, dear Bert

Ned.

Tell Ann the paper may be a bit faded before I see Trafalgar Square.

 

 

—— Reg
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
Alexandria
June 7, 1915

Dear Ralph,

It is my painful duty to inform you that Ned was killed in action on the evening of 7th inst.

On the morning of the 7th our Co. was ordered to charge the enemy & clear them out of two trenches in front of the firing line.

On the left were other troops not belonging to our Bn. who had a similar task to perform.

Capt. Hamer and Wade were to charge one trench and Ned & I the other trench.

I was posted a little to the left to give the signal for the advance.

I gave the signal shortly after 7:30 and with a mighty cheer our troops advanced.

Immediately the enemy opened a terrific rifle and maxim fire but Ned & I succeeded in reaching the trench. Unfortunately, the enemy were able to open enfilade fire which made the trench absolutely untenable.

We had to retire but only about four of us succeeded in doing so to safety.

Hamer and Wade were subject to cross fire and poor Hamer fell before he had reached the trench. Wade succeeded in capturing the trench and held it until about 2 in the morning. I was of [the] opinion that this trench would be enfiladed as soon as dawn came and ordered the men to vacate the trench.

All the Bn was shocked at the terrible news. Ned had made himself a favourite with the men and also with his brother officers.

We all send to you our deepest sympathy.

I may add that we had 18 or 19 killed and 25 wounded out of 120.

I will write you again in a few days’ time.

I am

Yours very Sincerely

G. H. Okell, Capt.

Notes:
A slightly edited version of this letter was published in the Ashton Report on June 26, 1915. This is the original unedited version.

 

 

Mediterranean Expeditionary Force
July 30, 1915

We got the order to attack two saps leading to a gully, about 7 o’ clock pm and we were to attack at 7:30. There was no time for preliminaries, and I never saw Noel after about 6:30. The Company moved to position, and I was ordered to go down the sap which lay on the left with my cousin Ned and his men. This sap met the other sap to be taken, in the gully. Both saps and gully were occupied by Turks, and we were informed that another party was to clear the gully before we attacked. This attack was not successful, and led to our heavy casualties. Capt. Hamer, Lt. Wade, and Noel’s men, and Joe Harrop’s men, went over the top and stormed the other trench across the open. We had just to nip over the parapet into our sap, one after another. Ours seemed an easy job, but a little lower down it turned out a bit of a death trap, and when I got to the bottom, after stepping over one or two, and passing out one or two wounded, cousin Ned, who was then hit in the shoulder, ordered us back. A maxim gun was firing up the sap out of the gully, and another was firing up the other sap, and of course the two fires crossed at the bottom. Out of those who got past the cross fire, only two: Eaton and a chap called Kenna, returned unhurt out of nearly twenty. I came out immediately Ned ordered me back, as there was no more cover near, and to tell the truth I don’t know how I managed without being hit.

It was some time before the other sap was opened to the trench, and I was able to obtain any information of the remainder. They had fared very little better than our party, and as there were more of them, they had too, a good number of hits. Amongst those who had failed to gain the small cover afforded was Noel. Where he was in the charge I don’t know, except that he was on the left of the Captain. And now the only thing that has worried me is this. We have not been able to recover any of the killed, and we don’t know whether they are still lying in the open or not. I should like to have seen them decently buried, but it is out of the question now, unfortunately, and it will be impossible to get any article from their clothing to send home.

From our point of view the object to be gained, was the thing, and although only partially successful, the Turks have not ventured there since, so I understand.

[237 CQMS Henry Stringer]

Notes:
1244 Sgt. Walter Steuart Eaton. Discharged to commission in 1917.
1389 Pte. Charles Kenna. Discharged in 1916 no longer fit for active duty.
1125 Sgt. Noel Duncan Braithwaite. KiA June 7, 1915.
1126 Sgt. Joseph Cox Harrop. Discharged to commission in 1917.

 

 

Gallipoli

9th Dec, 1915

Dear Cousin Ann,

I received your welcome letter on 4th Nov two days ago, and saw Potter yesterday, and he showed me a letter from his sister informing him that you had kindly called and paid the £4. Potter wishes me to thank you very much for your kindness in the matter.

Ned certainly had a deal of money with him when we were knocked about in June. Before we went into action, he asked me to pay his servant what he owed him, and said he had several pounds in his pocket. From that day to this, we have not been able to approach the spot where most of the men lie, and only a short time ago I sent a Sgt to the place to make enquiries, but no results came. We have a rumour that the bodies of several have been recovered and buried, but we can get no definite news from the troops now occupying that position of the line. It is possible that at one place a few bodies could have been recovered, as a new sap has been dug, but Ned was not in that neighbourhood. I shall persist in my enquiries, because in addition to Ned, I must try to find something of Noel Braithwaite and some of the others whose mothers have written to me for information.

I sincerely trust that Jack will come through safely. It’s a terrible war, and few families now are not touched by it. However, we are fighting for home, and for those who are dear to us, and not least of all, for those who are coming after us, and we must bear all to win through in the end.

All at Colwyn seem to keep pretty well, and I have sent your kind remembrances along. By this time, it is possible mother has been over in Ashton. The last letter I had said she was thinking of coming over, and if so, I hope you have seen her.

All of us out here fully recognise the good work Ralph has done, and the draft men all speak highly of him, and this in spite of his superior officer, who seems very well known and is disliked indeed. I am sorry his illness still keeps a hold on him, and I am afraid his quality of being a glutton at the good work he is doing, won’t help him much. He does too much and I should certainly like him to be in the pink to welcome us home, which he will not be if he insists on taking too much work on his hands. Can’t you get him away on leave for a month?

The sooner we get compulsion, the better it will be, and I for one would like to see a few Stamford Street M.N.C. out here, just to tame them a bit, and let them realize what life really means.

The old officers still decline, and of those who were in the Battalion before mobilization only Major Connery and Capt. Woodhouse are left.

Major Connery wishes to be remembered kindly to Ralph and yourself.

With kindest regards, and best wishes for Christmas and the coming year.

Yours Very Truly

H. Stringer

 

Acknowledgement:

These letters and personal papers have been transcribed from originals held at the Imperial War Museum.  They are provided here under Non Commercial Use License and remain the copyright of the IWM.

They are catalogued here at the IWM but note that they are misnamed and somewhat inaccurately described.