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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
We turned out early this morning and played the Christmas Hymns in the barracks square fir 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Having a rest today. Going out on a night bivouac tonight.
Fell in at 6 o’ clock last night and marched to Abbassia then bivouac fir 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.
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.
All the colonial troops have gone from here now and it is coming our turn, we are to move tomorrow.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Got orders today that we begin to take all our surplus stores across the Canal and be ready to move any time.
Struck camp today and taking all our baggage across the Canal which is a very slow job. Bivouac tonight in the open.
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
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.
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.
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.
Still in bed. Have been too bad to write. Doctor told me today that I was to be sent to the Base at Alexandria.
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.
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.
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.
Went for a stroll round the grounds and when I got back to my bed the Doctor had marked me for England.
Disappointed today when we are told we cannot go on the boat as it is full up with invalids.
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.
Note: The Al-Hayat Hotel was used as a convalescent hospital under the auspices of the No. 1 Australian General Hospital.
Passed a Board of Doctors today to see if I was fit for service but was marked for England.
Left Helowan at 7:30am this morning for Alexandria. Arrived 3:30pm. Embarked 4pm on the Australian Transport Wandilla.
Set sail at 5:00pm while we were having our tea. Egypt vanishing from our sight so we turn in for the night.
Sea calm like sailing on the park lake. Just had my Sunday dinner. Hoping to have my next Sunday dinner at home.
We are all looking out for Gibraltar now. We are sailing along the African coast now.
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.
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.
The Bay of Biscay. Sea rough and getting into colder climate.
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.
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.
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.
Left Southport Monday midnight for Codford St. Mary’s. Arrived next morning.
Getting told off for our huts. Quite busy today drawing beds and bedding and making ourselves comfortable.
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.
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.
This rotten weather here is telling on me and I cannot stir, with rheumatic.
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.
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.
All the Nurses and Sisters quite busy decorating the wards and making it look like Christmas.
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.
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.
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.
The Doctor came and examined us today and marked 8 of us fir for duty again.
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.
General French inspected the troops today and he had several French Generals with him.
Left camp for 10 days leave at home. Arrived home at breakfast time next morning.
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.
Started with another attack of rheumatic. Lay on my back and dare not stir. It is sickening for me.
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.
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.
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.
The following articles were published in the Ashton Reporter relating to Corporal Valentine and Pte. Harry Rhodes.
Ashton Reporter, August 7, 1915
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
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.
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