Archive for June, 2015

Gallipoli Peninsula

Posted: June 19, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

I have been back here three days now. We transferred from the “Seong Choon” to the “Osmanieh” at Lemnos, and came up here and landed at about 4a.m. It was a very different landing to the last one I made here. All the cliffs within our lines are one mass of  “dugouts”. You would imagine we were living in the cave-dwelling age again. A hole is dug about 4ft. each way in the side of a steep cliff, and it is “home”. We have to do all our cooking, except making tea, some of the fellows are fine cooks, and make even the despised bully beef edible. I was very glad to get back to all the boys again. You would be surprised how well they are all looking. Fellows, who before had long thin faces, now have regular full moons. There are a lot of gaps in the Company of course, but there are still a lot of old friends left. Coffey is looking well, DuRieu has been back a good while. Davey is looked upon as the luckiest man in the Company. One of his chief traits is to go out with parties and return to report the party as wiped out, and himself the sole survivor.

Sergeant Clark is in charge of our platoon, and I have our section now. The general programme here is, a day in the firing line, a day rest, a day support, and a day fatigue. This is repeated three times, and then the Company goes out into the dugouts in the rear for three day’s rest. We have splendid trenches here. I should say they would compare very favourably with European trenches. In fact to my mind, the whole campaign is like the other side. Things are very slack up this end of the firing line. Casualties are very infrequent. Major Lorenzo is in command of this Company, and we still have our old platoon Commander.

We have just heard that 75 bags of our mail was burnt, rather cheerful. Eh! So far since I have been here it has appeared to me more a picnic than a war. When all the hard work was done I was having an easy time in Cairo. Washing becomes a thing of the past now. For twelve days we live in the trenches in our clothes etc., and when we go out for a rest it is possible to get a swim at night. There is one big gun that shells the beach every day at regular times, known as “Beachy Bill”, some of the persistent guns are know as “Lazy Liz”, “Weary Willie” etc.

The 10th Battalion is having a week’s rest from the trenches now, we do fatigue etc. instead of the trench work. I am living in a very fine dugout which holds four of us – the old original four. I find that only parcels posted at letter rates, or registered get this far. Nothing heard of the last one you sent.

From Lance.

Going back to Turkey

Posted: June 4, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

Yesterday was declared a half holiday on account of the King’s Birthday. Fisher and I went into town later on in the afternoon. We spent nearly all the time there lying in the Esbekia Gardens reading. It was very nice under the palms. After a quiet dinner we went round to the Egyptian Café and listened to the Orchestra for an hour or so.

The Esbekia Gardens up to a few years ago were practically the only gardens that Cairo could boast of – even now the civilians have to pay to go in. Fisher received a couple of letters today from Australia 6/5/15, mine unfortunately have all gone on to Gallipoli. A guard to escort prisoners back to Australia was picked out this morning. I had a chance to go, but my conscience (haven’t got much either) wouldn’t let me. It looks too much as if one has very cold feet. I could get a job here in camp if I liked – but can’t do it.

The Light horsemen are having great trouble with their horses. They are dying from sunstroke and pneumonia. Shelters have been rigged up to keep the sun off them. I believe 50,000 of Kitchener’s Army are at Lemnos. My arm is quite well now, just two little blue dots where the bullet went through.

I think Egypt is a long way ahead of Australia in many respects. Every town has electric lighting and ice can be obtained in any town up to 500 miles from Cairo, but in other things Egypt is still in the Chapter of Genesis.

By some streak of good luck I managed to get a batch of letters, they were posted on the 6th May and you had just received news of our little scrap. How you people must have suffered waiting for definite news. I doubt if I will ever get the socks, parcels and papers are all going astray. Not being with the Company upsets things very much. News has come out today that Kinnish and I are going back tomorrow (8th June). At first I was told I couldn’t go but managed to pull a few strings and have got on the list alright. There are only about three N.C.O’s and 30 men going from this Company. Up till now we haven’t done any duties at all here, but yesterday they snared a lot for guard – you ought to have seen the guard – some had felt hats, others caps, and helmets, some without putties, torn tunics, long pants. Every rifle was dirty. The men are very collar-proud, reckon they are above work.

Today they started to drill us, and great was the outcry. It will be a treat to get back to Turkey. Everyone is very jealous of me getting the job. Yesterday I had a rather interesting time. I took the train towards Cairo, but got off about three stations this side at a place called Demerdache, it is right in the pastoral and agricultural district. I watched the thrashing operations at closer quarters what I called sledges are really rollers with circular cutters, and they are drawn round and round until the chaff is finely cut and then it is thrown into the centre of the cleared space. Their pitchfork is made of wood, sharpened at the ends and polished. We wandered around wells and different gardens and then came across a thick jungle of prickly pear – there was just a small narrow track running through for about 100 yards when we came on to a canal, you would be surprised how close the stuff grew together. All around were snakes and lizards crawling through the grass – rather uncanny I can tell you.

We are leaving at 5.30a.m. tomorrow.

Don’t know what chance I will have of writing.

Goodbye,
Lance.

A visit to the Military Police Barracks

Posted: June 2, 2015 by saraherhodes in 1915

We are still getting weather much over 100 degrees in the shade. I think another Rhamseen is working up. Sunday afternoon Kinnish, Fisher, and I went over to Heliopolis, and then took the car to Cairo. It is much nicer driving to Heliopolis in a garish, and tramming it the rest of the way, than taking the train direct to Cairo. Went out to the Chezireh Palace Hotel; it used to be the Sultan’s Palace, was turned into a hotel, and is now used as a hospital. It is built on an island “Rodih Island” in the middle of the Nile in Cairo. It is a fine big place, but we didn’t know any of the patients, so didn’t stay long. As it was hot in the town we went to the Esbekia Gardens and sat and watched the crowd, and listened to a concert given by a Military Band.

The crowd is very interesting to watch – all nationalities and colours. The women are gaily dressed. It is wonderful to watch the effect of the Marseillais, and the Italian National Anthem on the people of the respective nationalities.

Monday afternoon I was detailed as escort to some patients. I had to bring them from the Palace Hotel to this camp. It was awfully hot and I had to walk into Heliopolis and back – about four miles across the desert. I was about four hours on the job. The patients didn’t half snort either. When I had finished with them – about 6.30 – I caught the train to Cairo and met Guy Fisher at the Grand Continental Hotel, where we had dinner. It was a very nice dinner, and as we had it on the piazza it was doubly nice. After dinner we went round to the Egyptian Café. There is a very fine Hungarian Orchestra there, and we stayed until we were kicked out by a picquet. After our unceremonious ejection from there, we wandered round to the Kursaal. It wasn’t half a bad programme – all the singing was in French though, of course. At half time we did a lap into the Abbes des Roses, and at the conclusion of the Kursaal programme, we went back there. We had no sooner settled ourselves when another picquet arrived and arrested us this time. We both protested but it was no good, and we were marched off under escort – it was about 12.30 by now. We were taken to a Military Police Barracks. This night apparently a big raid had been planned – there were dozens of prisoners and scores of picquets there. Whilst we were waiting our turn, I saw an Officer and pitched a tale to him about being convalescent patients staying with friends at the Heliopolis House Hotel, we had leave for several days, and didn’t know anything about being out after 10p.m. Also our condition would not stand the strain of a night in clingue, besides he had to think of the mental state our friends would be in etc. etc. He didn’t know what to do, but in the end told us to march out with a picquet. We caught the nearest motor car and flew for Zeitoun, arriving about 2a.m.

The Barracks are awful places, on this particular night they were crowded with men, half of them drunk.  All your valuables are taken away and very seldom returned, you get no meals, and you have to wait there until an escort comes to release you from the unit you are attached to.

Today is pay day, and I am orderly Corporal. Everyone has cleared out, and I have the camp practically to myself. It is still very hot. Yesterday Guy Fisher and I got so sick of the camp that we cleared out again and had a delicious tea in Cairo. I have nearly all my meals in Cairo now – can’t come at the camp tucker this weather. We went to Groppis again. We had iced water, cakes, and strawberries and cream; after we went into the Fabekia Gardens and lay on the lawns in the shade, it was very nice and cool. Another quiet dinner under some gum trees, and we went home.

There are quite a number of gum trees here, in places there are thick groves of them, and it looks quite homelike. They are planted as preventatives for fever. Just now all the farmers, or fellahs, are winnowing, or perhaps it could be correctly described as thrashing their corn. They have a circular piece of ground well cleaned, and about 20 or 30 feet in circumference. The corn is thrown on to the cleared patch and a sledge drawn by a donkey or other domestic animal driven over it. The husks are smashed up, and the chaff is thrown into the centre, the wind blowing the chaff away. The sledge is just a wooden affair with a seat in the centre for the driver.

It was rather funny tonight, a parade was called for 7a.m. Our Company had all cleared out. We mustered eight Officers and four men, out of 120 men. The Company next to us got 12 Officers and twenty men, out of 260 men.