Officer in Waiting
4 May - 12 June
The Somme Again
13 June - 24 August
Dompiere & Mont St. Quentin
25 August - 6 September
7 September - 10 November
11 November - 28 Feb 1919
The WWI diary of Percy Smythe was transcribed by his daughter Betty Smythe.
Enlistment and Embarkation
Fri. 23rd. Wrote to Viv saying I had decided to go to the war, but might not pass the doctor's exam; that if I did, and he decided to come too, we might as well both get in the same tent. Told him not to do anything until I let him know whether I passed or not. Went to Victoria Barracks to enlist, but was too late. Will have to come tomorrow morning before 11a.m. Took May Webb's doll to Doll's Hospital, but was told it couldn't be mended. Took my insurance Policy to A.M.P. to have it altered with regard to the Comm. Public Service regulations. When I got home, fixed May's doll up myself. A.T. studied I.C.S.
Sat. 24th. Went to Victoria Barracks to enlist, but failed in the doctor's exam in the chest measurement. Felt very disappointed and altogether disheartened. May possibly be able to develop a better chest, but 11/2 inches is a lot to put on. Went to Gowing's and got the trousers I had ordered (19/6). Had dinner at Walker's and went down to Martin Place to find Mum and get a good position to see the soldiers march. Martin Place was already hopelessly crowded, so went down Pitt St. and got in a good position. Had to wait there about 2 hrs. before the troops came along. By that time the crowd was four deep in front of me. One lady made herself very objectionable by insisting on getting the best position at the expense of others.
At last the soldiers came, the mounted police first, then some French soldiers, then the Light Horse, and then the Infantry with fixed bayonets. They looked a fine lot of soldiers. Before they had all passed, it began to rain heavily. After the last had gone, I caught the first available tram to the Rly. and came home. Mum and the youngsters arrived somewhat later. A.T. read Lone Hand.
Sun. 25th. A.B. I.C.S. studies, Examination Papers for "Machine Elements". A.D. dressed and went in to City Temple in time for tea. Mr. Harward asked me to speak at the open air meeting, but I hadn't time to prepare for it. Stayed to after mtg. Met Mrs. Keats and Winnie in train coming home.
Mon. 26th. Went to some of the shipping companies to see if there was any chance of working my passage to England. There is every chance, though at present there are no vacancies.
Got a letter from Viv. He is fully determined to go to the war if I go, and asked me to wire him when I enlist. Didn't send him a wire, as he would get Mum's letter today, telling him the results of Saturday morning. I will see "Snowy" Baker tomorrow and find out if there's any chance of him bringing my chest up to 34in. Finished putting in the lawn in front today.
Tues. 27th. Went Ashfield in answer to an ad. for electricians, but the foreman was away somewhere. Went in to "Snowy" Baker's Physical Culture School which is conducted by Snowy's brother. He guaranteed to give me a 34in chest, and reckoned it could be done in a week. I was greatly surprised, and could hardly believe it. The fees are £2.2.0 Wired to Viv asking him to wire two pounds to me for the fees. Called in at Boesser's workroom for a chat. They have a new apprentice. Came home and got a wire from Viv for three pounds, one being for Mum. Went to Kogarah P.O. to cash it, but was too late. Rang up Baker, and arranged to come in at 10a.m. tomorrow for the first lesson. A.T. wrote to Viv.
Wed. 28th. Cashed Viv's wire at the Kogarah P.O. and went in to town for the first lessons in chest development. They consisted of a few exercises, simple but strenuous, after half-an-hour at it, the perspiration was running from me.
Bought some lunch and strolled down to the Botanical Gardens, to the artificial lake. Amused myself feeding the sparrows, who became very daring. Studied "Military Training", which I had bought at Angus and Robertson's.
Went up for the second lesson at 2p.m. and had another half-hour of it, after which I came home and started digging up a patch for some vegetables. News of the Australians fighting at the Dardanelles. No particulars to hand. A.T. Rita, May, Jimmy, Gordon, and I went down to the beach for a walk. We took off our boots and paddled about in the surf. It was a glorious moonlight night.
Thurs. 29th. First lesson 9.15am. Baker told me that I'd be able to go up and pass, this week. It seems almost incredible. Went to the Public Library and studied "Military Training" till 12, and then got some fruit, and went down into the gardens. It was a glorious day, bright and sun-shiny, and I enjoyed lounging on a seat, lazily watching the ducks in the pond. It seemed like an ideal dream of laziness and content. Went up for the second lesson at 2p.m. and got up to 34inches. That's an increase of 1½ inches in 4 lessons. Came home and did some more gardening. May Webb is going home tonight.
Had early tea and then went over to Gladesville to Fellowship. Told them Viv and I were going to enlist. After the mtg. came in to Rly. to see May off. Herrick White and Bill Chapman were there.
Herrick told Viola that in the late edition of the "Sun" it appeared that it was the 3rd. Battalion (in which are Bert and Vernie) which suffered the losses at the Dardanelles. However that may not be correct.
Fri. 30th. There is no confirmation of what Herrick said last night. Australia and New Zealand have received congratulations from the King on the gallantry of our troops at the Dardanelles, but no particulars of the fighting have been given. There have been some losses, but the English, New Zealanders, and Australians, are firmly established on the Gallipoli Peninsular, while the French are on the Asiatic side of the Straits.
Went in to Baker's school, and had half-an-hour's lesson, after which I was measured and got up to 35½ inches. It seems scarcely believable, such an increase in only 2½ days, or 5 lessons. Baker said one particular exercise he gave me shifted something that was keeping my chest small, and after that my chest fairly shot up.
Before going to the school, I went to the Telephone Workshop. Met a lot of old acquaintances. Was told that papers were sent out among the mechanics yesterday, asking for someone to go to Taree. It appears that the boys are fighting "shy" of it. Grimm, the Asst. Engineer at Newcastle, is pretty well known, and equally well disliked. Had a yarn to Tom Schick. I think he's inclined to blame me entirely for what has happened. He said that West interviewed the Commissioner while in Melbourne, and was told that it might have been alright if I hadn't put in the voucher. That settled it altogether. Well, it's no use worrying over it now. I daresay I made a mistake, and have been well punished for it.
After this morning's exercises, I went up to Victoria Barracks and enlisted. Got through this time without a hitch, but only went to 34 in the chest. Weighed 8lbs heavier than last Saturday, which seems almost incredible. Also passed better in the eyesight test. We all had to get vaccinated. Met Mechanic Percy Withers there. His sight wasn't too good, and he had some difficulty getting in. I got 10 days leave, and go into camp on Monday week. After leaving the barracks, I sent a wire to Viv, telling him I had enlisted and passed, and asking him to come down as soon as he could. Spent my last penny on the afternoon paper. As yet there are no details of the Dardanelles fighting. Came home and did a bit of gardening. Mum had run out of cash, having only 3d left, and I was stony broke, so things looked a bit precarious. Started rummaging through my old clothes to see if I had left any silver in them, and came across a pound note that I didn't know I had. It was a very pleasant surprise, and just saved the situation.
Got a wire from Viv, saying he had enlisted on Tuesday, and expected to be down here next week. A.T. went for a walk down the tramline to Sans Souci, and back along the beach. It was a glorious moonlight night. Wrote a letter to Dad.
Sat. 1st. Did a little gardening, and then got to work packing my things away. A.T. went for a walk same as last night.
Sun. 2nd. The "Sunday Times" this morning contained a few details of the Dardanelles fighting, and a list of wounded officers. First on the list was my old company commander, Major R.C. Dawson, who is slightly wounded. His photo was also in the paper. No lists of the killed, or of the privates and non-coms, are yet available.
Finished the Examination Papers for "Machine Elements".
A.D. went in to City Temple in time for tea. Told the boys about going to the war. A.T. went for walk with Will Quirk & Les______. At open air mtg. Tom McCann spoke. Joe & Mrs. Taylor sang a duet, it was very sweet. Missed the after mtg. talking to Kittie McCauley. Met Winnie and Vera Keats going home in the train. Invited to spend a night with them some time after I go to camp.
Mon. 3. Went in to town & sold my old books on cutting for 8/6. Sold leggings for 3/-. Called in at the Wireless Co's. Bet with Bill Flynn re population of China. Ordered slip & glass for photo frame for Bert's photo. Not feeling too well, didn't go to the Six o'clock Closing Demonstration in the Town Hall. Wrote to Elsie Billingham.
Tues. 4. Went in to town. Got slip & glass I had ordered at Crown Studios yesterday. Came home and finished framing Bert's photo. Made a plaster of paris plaque & hung it & another one with some green ribbon.
Wed. 5. Letter from Jack Elliott. Drew a picture of a river scene with a conte pencil, enlarged from a small photo. Wire from Viv saying leaving Tamworth tonight. Forgot to go to Shield's at Arncliffe last night, so went this evening for tea. Bill Shield has a nice little workshop. Stayed till abt. 10pm.
Thurs. 6. A.B. went in to town, & ordered some slip & framing at Nock & Kirby's, then went to Rly. to meet Viv. We both went down to Nock & Kirby's and got the slip & framing & came home. Made a frame for the picture I drew yesterday. Viv went over to Gladesville to see some old acquaintances. Hung my picture in the dining room, it looked all right. Got a letter from Dad. A.T. went over to Gladesville to Fellowship. There were one or two Goodbye speeches. Felt rather solemnized. Discussion on the Drink Question. Mr Watt's son has come down to enlist. Mr. Webb is rather upset, & is trying to persuade his son not to go. Said Goodbye to Fellowship friends.
Mag Elliott's husband has gone to the war, & Eva Jenning's husband wants to go. A good few names of men in the 3rd. Battalion of the 1st Inf. Brigade are included amongst the killed at the Dardanelles, so Bert & Vernie must have been in the thick of the fighting.
Fri. 7. Viv went in to town and enlisted this mng. He got through all right, though the doctor seemed to be a bit doubtful abt. his heart. Put in the day looking over my old diaries & erasing anything that I thought ought to be left out. Started writing in ink a copy of the records kept in a broken old note-book written in pencil. A.T. went over to Fox's for the evening. Viv went in to meet Clytie coming down from Hamilton.
Sat. 8. The "Herald" this mng. contained a detailed account of the Australians' landing at Gaba Tepe, in the Gallipoli Peninsular. They have established a name for themselves for their skill & bravery. Viv brought Clytie over for dinner. Continued copy of old note-book records. Letter from Elsie Billingham. Went over to Tanner's for tea & stayed till abt. 10.30pm. Miss Prigg arrived after tea, from Portland.
Sun. 9. A.B. finished copy of old note-book records. Packed my diaries & other things in old tin hatbox & locked same. Went for walk along the beach to Brighton-le-sands with Enid Fox who came over yesterday afternoon, & with Rita, & Jimmy & Gordon & Eric. It was a glorious day, bright & sunshiny, and we enjoyed the walk alright.
A.D. Viv & Clytie came over, but could only stay an hour or so, as Clytie had to leave for Newcastle by the 5.10p.m train. Flo McDonald arrived just a few minutes before Clytie & Viv & I left.
Mon. 10. Packed up a few necessaries, & took a drill stock & vice I had bought at Lassetter's some time ago, also a set of stocks & dies, went in to town & sold the drill stock & the stocks & dies for 12/6. Called in at Boesser's workroom for awhile. Went up to Telephone Workshop & handed in my badge. Had a yarn to Jim Mansell & Les Poyitt. Bought pies and fruit & had lunch in Boesser's workroom, then went up to Victoria Barracks. About 200 of us fell in, marched to the Rly. & entrained for Liverpool, arriving there abt. 4p.m. I got in "P" Co. of the Reinforcements, & got the job of tent orderly for today. A.T. went to Salvation Army tent to write up my diary, but it was crowded, so came to Y.M.C.A. tent, & am still there. Well, this is my first night in a camp again. I wonder how it will all end, & whether I will live to see it all through. Now that the four of us will be in it, there is a good chance of at least one of us not returning. I do hope we all come back safe and sound, and that we won't have to be away more than two years at the very most.
Tues. 11. We were sworn in this morning. About 2 dozen of us were put through a test for the position of non-commissioned officer. The test was continued after dinner. Am doubtful how I got on, but may get in as a corporal, which will mean 10/- per day instead of 7/-. After we had finished work for the day, today’s batch of "marmalades" arrived, including Viv. I got him into my tent, so we'll both be together. We can make one bed of both our blankets, and thus have a double thickness. Everyone pretty well froze last night, with only one blanket underneath and two above, and we practically got no sleep the whole night. The crowd I've got in with are not a bad lot, but of course a lot of swearing and dirty talk goes on. Last night when I came in, they were going it pretty strong, but I was resolved not to be a coward or to be ashamed of my supreme King, so before getting into bed, I knelt down to say a few prayers. The talking ceased at once, and one chap said, "What! Are you saying your b_____ prayers?" Of course I didn't answer him, and no more notice was taken of it. Am thankful for being given strength to do the right thing in a trying situation. None of them seem to like me any the less for it, and, in fact, we're all getting on well together.
After tea today, Viv and I came to the Y.M.C.A. tent. Wrote to Jack Elliott, Taree, and to Mr. Finley at Gladesville. We had a couple of games of draughts, and then, as it was getting chilly, made back for bunk. Viv told me that Clytie had set her mind on being married before he left Australia, but he will try and get round her to see the foolishness of such an action, without letting her think that he doesn't desire it.
Wed. 12. We were given elementary square drill without arms today, and were divided into 4 platoons. When they divide the platoons into sections, they'll want 16 corporals for section commanders, so I ought to stand a chance of getting in. Today's "Herald" reports a big battle in Flanders with the British in the offensive. There may be good news coming out of this yet. Have not yet read this afternoon's paper.
Thurs. 13. We were all inoculated this morning against enteric fever. The operation was simpler than vaccination, a tiny syringe being pushed into the arm, and the "juice" injected. After dinner I felt a bit crook, but fell in with the rest. Rapidly got worse, however, and soon had to fall out. Made up my bed in the tent, and went down to it till teatime, when I began to feel better. By that time several others in our tent had become pretty sick with it. A.T. turned in to bed early. We were supplied with dungaree suits, white hats, and military boots today.
Fri. 14. We were up early this morning and had some lively doubling. The chaps in our tent seem to be always arguing with each other, and generally end up in personalities. Viv's sarcastic remarks often get the other chaps wild, especially Wyatt. Paddy Carroll loses his block sometimes too; and Parkes and "Dubbo" Sharpe nearly came to a fight once, when the former called the latter a b____ liar. Avant suggested naming our crowd "The Malcontents", which would be very appropriate.
Today at dinnertime we lodged a complaint about always getting the eternal "stew". We are getting tired of it. After dinner we fell in and had to pull our tents down. Soon afterwards it came on to rain, and we were sent back to erect the tents again, and were let off drill for the rest of the afternoon. I wrote "The Squabblers" on one side of our tent door, and Avant wrote "The Malcontents" on the other side.
Clytie McPhee and her father came out to the camp this afternoon. Clytie is down for the week-end. Avant, Parker, "Dubbo" and I went to the opening of the R.C. tent. Archbishop Kelly gave an address condemning alcohol. He was rather tiresome to listen to. Several others spoke, and then there was a bit of a concert, which, however, was pretty tame.
Sat. 15. We had the afternoon off today. Clytie was to come and see Viv. The Manly football team were coming out to play the Camp boys, but I didn't stay to see it. Took some drawing materials and went up along the river till I found a pretty spot, and put in the afternoon sketching the scene. It didn't turn out particularly well, as the pencil I had was too coarse. Had a look over some trenches in the Engineers section. They were just the thing.
A.T. Viv and Clytie came along, and I strolled up to the gate with them, and then went to the concert in the Sal. Army tent. Some of the items weren't bad. Mum got letter from Aunt Alice saying they had the £100 ready to pay to Mum.
Sun. 16. Church Parade with the nonconformists this morning, in the Sal. Army tent. The Pres. Moderator preached. Sermon not bad. Hugh Paton was in attendance. Am told that Mr. Waldon is in camp here. He is a Church of Christ evangelist, and is going to the front as chaplain some time this month. A.T. service in S.A. tent.
Mon. 17. Viv got a letter from Mum today, saying she had got a wire from the Defence Dept. as follows - "Corporal H. A. Smythe wounded. Will advise when further particulars received."- Poor old Bert. It was hard luck for him to be knocked over so early in the fight. Worried a bit all the afternoon. Got evening paper to see if it might have any particulars, but there was no list of casualties in it. Viv and I both applied for leave on Sat. aft. and Sunday.
Tues. 18. No casualty list in this mng's paper, or in the "Sun" this aftn. Some of our non-coms are going to the School of Instruction, so there will be a few vacancies, and Viv and I will stand a chance of getting in. P. company is on fatigue and quarter guard tomorrow.
Wed. 19. Started on quarter guard at 9am today. I was on guard for two hrs. from 9.30am till 11.30 at Quartermaster's store, then on again from 3.30 till l5.30pm. While on guard the second time a chap brought a paper with the casualty list. Bert's name was on it, but there were no particulars as to whether he was slightly or seriously wounded. On guard again 9.30 till 11.30pm. It was very cold. Practised giving orders in a whisper, to prepare for a test for corporal, and in half-an-hour my voice was hoarse, and I had a bonzer cold. It was cold and uncomfortable sleeping in the guard tent.
Thur. 20. and at 3.30am, had to turn out again for the last two hours. It was very cold pacing up and down by the quartermaster's store. Watched Venus rise gradually higher in the east, the smaller stars began to disappear, and by the time the relief party arrived, the day was dawning. Had an hour's sleep, and then we waited till 9.30am. to be relieved by the new quarter guard. While we were waiting, Bob Avant and Angel got sky-larking, and the result was that Avant got his foot hurt, and had to be taken to hospital on a stretcher. He may be there for some weeks. We had this morning off but had to fall in for drill in the afternoon.
Fri. 21. After "Smoke-o" this aftn. 2nd. Lieutenant Smythe, our company commander, called for me and gave me a test in drilling a squad of men, after which he told me I could put up a couple of bars. Felt rather pleased, a corporal at last. Viv hasn't been given a test yet, and I think he's a bit disappointed over it. A.T. wrote to Bert and Vernie.
Sat. 22. Did a bit of squad drilling this mng. Viv was given a test for corporal, and proved all right. We caught the 12.40pm. train from Liver-pool and arrived home abt. 3pm. Clytie was there when we arrived. She and Viv went over to their place after tea, and I took the youngsters to a Continental in aid of the Belgians. Mrs. Kirkwood came over during the afternoon.
Had to sleep on the floor in the dining-room, but it was nice and comfortable after the tent life.
Sun. 23. A.B. got to work looking over my diaries, and removing such portions as I thought necessary. A.D. had bath, dressed, and packed up things for camp. Left home abt. 4pm. and went to City Temple, in time for tea. A.T. Vera Keats and I went out for a walk. Back for open-air mtg. Stayed for after mtg. Vera didn't wait, but went to catch the early train. Strolled up to the Rly. with the Morris' and there met Bill Chapman and Herrick White. Bill Chapman had been out to Liverpool; he knows Sgt. Bluett of P. Co. It appears Bluett and Alf Chapman were in the same tent before Alf left. Bill told me that Staff McKenzie was in camp with the Light Horse, and was going out by the train I was about to catch. Met Stewart and another chap from P. Co. on the platform. Arrived at Liverpool abt. 10.30pm. it was bitterly cold. I have to go orderly corporal tomorrow.
Mon. 24. Empire Day. I got on duty corporal's job today. Had to parade the sick, also the orderlies. Had breakfast and dinner with the serjeants. At dinnertime there was some trouble over cleaning the dixies. There was a greasy one left, and I told Wickham, orderly for that tent to do it, but he refused, and caused no end of trouble over it. The men of No.1 tent seem to have me set over it, but its no use giving way to them. We had no parade this aftn. on account of it being Empire Day.
Tues. 25. The Corporals of P. Company were redistributed today amongst the different tents. Viv got No.5 tent, and I was sent to No.7. The crowd I got in with seem to be much rougher than the last lot. The language and the coarse jests were absolutely disgusting, but I determined to be brave, and before retiring, went through the usual routine. When I knelt down, the talk ceased suddenly for a moment, as though they were taken by surprise.
Hock Beck and I dossed in together to economise in covering. Charlie Bruce gave us a little music on a flute after we had turned in.
Wed. 26. Four more chaps were put in our tent today, as a lot of recruits have come into P.Co. After the non-coms class tonight, Viv and I went to the Pres. tent to see a lantern lecture on the Northern Territory. I left early as my throat was sore and inflamed, and I couldn't stand the pain. Went to the hospital tent, and had my throat painted, but it didn't do it much good. Went to bed early. It was a bit of a squeeze getting twelve men into one tent, but we managed all right.
Thur. 27. Got a letter from Elsie Billingham today. We struck tents today, to give them an airing. At the non-com's class, which was held in Sgt.-Major Mott's tent, we went over some company drill. An argument arose as to the directing flank in a platoon or company in line of sections in fours. I was up against most of the others, and in the end we agreed to differ. After the class, Viv and I went to a concert in the Pres. tent.
Fri. 28. P. Co. on fatigue today. I got job of orderly corporal. Had very little to do all day. We struck tents again today.
Sat. 29. Drilled a squad at early morning parade, and an "awkward squad" during the morning. We struck tents again today. Got a letter from Jack Elliot at Taree. He reckons that going to the war is not in keeping with Christianity. He sent a pamphlet on the subject, but I haven't read it yet. Poor old Jack. He is a much better Christian than I am, but I don't think he was right in his arguments. He said Arthur Billingham is going to enlist as a bugler, but I don't think Arthur would pass in the doctor's exam.
No drill this aftn. Half holiday. A.T. went to the Pres. tent for awhile.
Read the pamphlet Jack Elliott sent me. Its arguments against enlistment were very weak.
Sun. 30. Met Bill Dawson this mng. He is in N. Co. Went to Pres. tent for Church Parade this mng. Sermon by Captain Williams, Chaplain. He is not a very good preacher.
A.D. strolled down to gate near railway to meet any of the homefolks who might be coming out. Met Hurst, who was in my section in the Aust. Rifles. He told me that serjeant Drinkwater and serjeant Short are both in the Dardanelles wounded. I had seen Drinkwater's name in the casualty list. and wondered at the time if it was our serjeant of B. Co. in the Aust. Rifles. Had a yarn to Hurst for awhile. Later on Nellie Frater came along with a soldier boy. While I was still talking to her, Viv & Viola & Jimmy Webb arrived on the scene. We strolled up to the Depot, and there met Bill Jackson and his wife Bill had come in on Thursday, and had been trying to find Viv ever since, and couldn't. We went and had tea with them on the river bank. A.T. went up to the Rly. to see them all off.
After they left, Viv & Bill and I came back and went to the Pres. tent. Mr. Paton gave a very stirring sermon.
Mon. 31. End of May. Wrote to Dad, wishing him many happy returns of his birthday, the 29th or 28th inst., I forget which.. Gordon's birthday is on 3rd. of June. Mustn't forget him.
Tues. 1st. Forgot to watch for the non-com's exam. which was to be put through by Costello today. A.T. non-com's class.
Wed. 2. Orderly corporal again today. Viv has been on light duty for some days on account of a nasty boil on his neck. A.T. non-com's class, after which we went to first Fellowship mtg. which was held in the Pres. private tent. Mr. Swingstone presided, Mr. Dawson secretary, and I am appointed vice-president. Our subject for next week is "Christ's Self-Restraint."
Thurs. 3. A.T. non-com's class. We had a new serjeant-major on tonight and he was a splendid instructor. Afterwards went to Sal. Army writing tent and studied military stuff.
Friday. 4. We're to be put on to musketry tomorrow, and will be the company on duty on Sunday, which means that no week-end leave will be granted. A.T. non-com's class, after which I went to Sal. Army writing tent and wrote to Lorrie Maloney. Also wrote to Jack Elliott, and advanced various arguments showing that going to the war was quite in keeping with Christianity . Didn’t get the latter finished.
Sat. 5. We were put on to musketry instruction this morning. Got a letter from Dad. A.D. we had to strike tents. Were then told off for tomorrow's duty. I am corporal of the guard, with Serjeant Hocking as serjeant of the guard.
A chap came along with a roulette wheel early in the aftn. and tried to get some money out of the chaps, but our officer spotted him and he had to skip lively. His buttoner returned later to see what was doing, and probably to try and recover the bag containing the roulette wheel, which they abandoned in their hurry to get away, but he was promptly arrested and handed over to the Liverpool police. One of our chaps, Brown, was arrested and charged with being in the running with them, but was subsequently released on open arrest. Corporal Webb was also pulled up. A.T. cleaned out the trunk in out tent, with the assistance of Joe Sheen. Washed the dirty tinware & glassware. Then went to the Sal. Army writing tent and finished the letter to Jack Elliott. Wrote 4 pages which is very unusual for me.
Sun. 6. No early morning parade today. Went on Quarter Guard at 9am. There were 12 prisoners in the guard tent. A.D. Mum arrived with Clytie and Jean and Rita and Gordon. Clytie gave me a shock by asking me to be prepared to act as "best man" next Saturday. I had been sure that Viv would have persuaded her to give up the idea, but it seems she has prevailed in her intention to marry him before he leaves. Oh, well, things have been happening in a big scale since the war started. I wonder what will happen next. It seems a shame for a young couple to marry, and in a few weeks be separated, perhaps for years, perhaps for life. I am to be "best man" which certainly will be a pleasant privilege. The great event - it is indeed a great event, the first wedding in our family - is to take place at 4 p.m. next Saturday at McPhee's place. I don't seem to be able to realize that it is true. It seems no time since we four boys were little children playing about, and now we are all grown up men, and Viv is the first to go off the shelf, and under such strange circumstances, too. Marrying a girl and then going away to the war, perhaps never to return.
We spent a pleasant afternoon, and had a decent meal for tea, after which they prepared to go. Viv managed to get leave, and we all went up to the Rly. Stn. I got back just in good time to take out the next relief. Had a couple of hours sleep. Our prisoners seemed as if they would be troublesome, so we pegged down their tent all round, driving the pegs well down, carrying the ropes down into the ground. We also put on two extra guards. Serjeant Hocking went to bed for four hours from 11.30 pm.
Mon. 7th. to 3.30 am. after which I had another two hour's sleep. It was a very cold night, and I was glad when our work finished at 10 o'clock on Monday.
Got a leave pass and went home, arriving there about dinnertime. A.D. got my diaries all fixed up, so that I am now ready for departure. A.T. came back to camp.
Tues. 8th. John Morris came along this afternoon to see if I could come to a farewell social at the City Temple tomorrow night, asked the O.C. and he said he would fix it up all right. After non-com's class, went to a concert at the Y.M.C.A. tent.
Wed. 9. No parade before breakfast; too wet. Raining most of the day. Orders were issued, stopping all leave, but Mr. Walden made arrangements for me to be allowed off. Didn't get to Sydney till 8 pm. Hadn't had a shave, and the shops were all closed. Went to Soldiers' Club on the off-chance of getting a shave, but there was nothing doing. Was sent to Mick Simmon's, with the same result. From there was sent to a Mr. Hill in Castlereagh St. opp. the Hotel Australia. He wouldn't shave me, but allowed me to shave myself, his wife, a rather nice young woman, attending on me the while. They refused payment for it. Went to the C.T. getting there about 8.45 pm. just as the regular Wednesday night meeting was concluding. We had a quiet little farewell social, and a neat little leather bound Testament was presented to each of the four boys leaving for the front. John Morris, Winnie Shearston's brother, a chap named Smith, and myself. It was nearly midnight when we got back to camp.
Thurs.10. Damp weather again today. Orderly corporal today. Smythe told me that our orders were to sail before the 18th inst., but it is doubtful whether such is possible, as we haven't been issued with uniforms, kits, or rifles yet, and they are supposed to be difficult to get. The ship we are to sail by is the Orsova; I remember Esther Fowler used to speak of this boat when I was in Corowa, years ago. She had a boy friend who was a steward on board.
A.T. non-com's class, after which I went to bed, being tired.
Fri. 11. Our company has now been taken over by the new officers, Wilson and Tyson, both 2nd. lieutenants. Smythe is not allowed to come with it, not being 23. Today they divided us into three platoons and 12 sections. I'm in charge of No.1 section, and will probably be a lance-serjeant. Some new corporals were appointed, including Bruce and Peacock of my tent. Viv and I were granted leave for the weekend. He went in by the 4.20 p.m. train, but I stayed later trying to borrow a uniform. Got a tunic from Weinrabe, pants and puttees from a chap in No.8 tent, an overcoat that was left in our tent, and Jack Morrison's hat. Caught the 5.30 p.m. train from Liverpool, and went to Sydney. Ordered a 15/- bouquet at Searl's in King St., and then went home.
Sat. 12. Dad arrived from Coolamon. Slept in this mng. A.B. went in to Sydney and called in at Boesser's workroom. Neither Elsie nor Joe were working, as trade was slack. Stayed there for awhile, and then went and had some lunch at Sargent's, got the bouquet at Searl's and went to Gladesville, to Watts'. Viv arrived there a few minutes later. I went on ahead to McPhee's to get some papers fixed up. They had the table spread with a very nice wedding breakfast. There was also a lovely wedding cake, made by Jean. After a while Mum and Dad and the others arrived, and we waited there till all was ready. Clytie looked very pretty in a navy serge costume, and with the bouquet I had got at Searl's.
It was a very quiet wedding. After the ceremony was over, and Viv and Clytie were pronounced man and wife, we retired to the dining room. After a pleasant wedding breakfast, the bride and groom and Jean and I (bridesmaid and best man) got in a motor and went to Sydney to the Crown Studios to have some photos taken.
We then had tea at a restaurant and went to the Rly. Stn., where we were met by Doris and Roy McPhee. Viv and Clytie didn't know where to go with the limited cash at their disposal, but finally decided on Narrabeen. The rest of us went to Her Majesty's Theatre to see "Ma Mia Rozette". It wasn't a bad play at all.
Sun. 13. Wrote to Alexander, Dungog, asking him to send my machine at once. Put a sketch in Doris McPhee's book and a verse in Viola's. A.D. Viv and his young wife arrived back from their brief honeymoon. Herrick White and the Stainsbys also came out. I didn't go in to the C.T. We had quite a crowd for tea. A.T. went in with the visitors. The Stainsbys left us at Sydenham. Viv and Clytie went to Gladesville, Herrick went home and I went to Liverpool camp arriving there somewhat late.
Mon. 14. Had some company drill today.
Tues. 15. Ross told us this morning that we were going on final leave. We didn't believe him. However, he turned out to be right, for the O.C told us about it later on. Those who would go without their pay, could go off this afternoon, and the others would have to wait till tomorrow, I neglected to put in an application for leave from today until it was too late to be able to get a warrant for return railway fare. At first we were told we would have to be back by 9.30 am on Friday, but they altered it to 9.30 am on Monday. I tried to get things fixed up so I could go today, but it was no use, unless I liked to go without the fare warrant.
We had a little company drill today, and then extended order word. I practised my platoon in passing messages by word of mouth. They made a very poor attempt, until I tried them at sending the message a little at a time, and then they succeeded O.K.
After drill, Clytie came out to camp. Viv is going off tonight, and is going to spend his final leave on a honeymoon, probably at Kiama. I decided to go tonight and forfeit the fare warrant, which is worth 15/- to me. Bruce and Peacock also decided to come tonight. We all went in together. Met Jack Parker. He came into camp a few days ago, and is in the Depot of C. Company. Clytie and Viv came out to Kogarah with me. We surprised them at home. A.T. Viv and Clytie went to Gladesville. I packed a few things, ready for departure to Taree early in the morning. It was well after midnight before I went to bed. Wrote wire for Dad to send to Elsie Billingham saying I was coming. Wrote to Dorrington at camp, asking him to send fare warrant to Taree.
Wednesday 16. Up at 4.30 am. Shaved, had breakfast, and left abt. 5.30 am. Walked to Kogarah, as the trams hadn't started running. Caught the first train, 6.5 am, arriving Sydney 6.35 am, 5 minutes before the Taree train was due to leave. Just had comfortable time to get a ticket and catch the train. The first part of the journey was interesting, especially in the vicinity of the Hawkesbury. I noticed that there were barbed-wire entanglements on the bridge above each of the supports.
The train was held up at Dungog, on account of the other train breaking down somewhere, and in consequence, we were half-an-hour late in getting to Taree. I had got out of the train, and was going off the platform when I heard my name spoken. It was Elsie's voice, but when I turned to see the speaker, it was not Elsie, not the Elsie I had known. She looked strange and old, and altogether different to when I last saw her. It gave me rather a shock and at first I wondered if anyone had died, or it some great trouble had come upon them. Then I suddenly noticed what was wrong. She had had all her front teeth out, and this, in conjunction with wearing glasses, made the marvellous difference in her appearance. If she had not spoken I would never have recognised her. Met Arthur Hopper on the station, and he drove Elsie and I round to Billingham's in his car. None of them knew I was coming but Elsie and Mrs. and Mr. Billingham. Arthur got a great surprise when he came home from the Old Bar and found me there.
Had tea there, and then Elsie and Arthur and Vera and Mrs. B. and I went to Church. Met a lot of old acquaintances there. Splendid mission sermon by Mr. Poole, who has a delightful way of tickling the fancy of his hearers, and then rubbing it in hot and strong. A young man was converted, the only convert during the mission. Met my old pal Jack Elliott after the service. Mrs. Sal Nielson asked me to spend tomorrow evening with them. Stayed at Billingham's. Arthur and I shared a nice big double bed.
Thursday 17. Slept in this mng. A.B., went down the street to Mrs. Single's to see Vera about getting our photos taken this aftn. (Met Ossie McPherson, who is working at Robinson's.) Went over to Hopper's to arrange with Will about them. Vera and Elsie and Arthur and I are to be taken together at 3 pm. this aftn. Was invited to have tea at Hopper's. Called in at Post Office. Miss Corrigan still on the board. Jack Cory said that Croaker, the mechanic who took my place, neglected his work and was nearly always drinking and going to races. He is a "pommy", and can't stand being told anything. Mr. Hopper told me they had to ask him to leave there, as he became rather obstreperous.
Jack Carey said he wanted to enlist, but his mother wouldn’t let him. George Morton also wanted to, and his mother nearly killed him when he mentioned it. Cecil Nord wrote to his parents for permission to enlist, and they nearly jumped down his neck.
Came home to dinner with Arthur. A.D. went down town and called in at the P.O. Met Mr. Saddler and Bridekirk. Called in at Mitchell's and had a talk to Arthur for a while. Then went in to Bostock's. At first Beattie didn't seem to know me, and then she opened her mouth wide with surprise. I never saw anyone show surprise expressed in their face so markedly before. She had heard nothing whatever about me coming to Taree. I had thought that I had not retained anything but mere friendly feelings for her but on first sight of the dear little girl, I seemed to like her just as much as ever before. Had a delightful talk to her for half-an-hour or so, and then went to Hopper's with Arthur and the girls. We were taken in two positions.
Then I suggested that Vera be taken with my military coat and hat on. At first she objected, on the grounds that her mother would not like it, but I coaxed her, and she gave in. She looked simply charming in the coat and hat.
After the camera ordeal was over, we went down the street again. Vera went back to work, Arthur went for a drive with someone, and Elsie and I went up to Clynch's. We met Sal and Mrs. Nielson on the way, and stopped talking to them for awhile. Mr. Burns came along, and we got in to the inevitable argument about the right and wrong of going to the war. Mr. Burns doesn't think it is right. Elsie and I went up to Clynch's where we met Mary and Mrs. Clynch. Mary said that when she was in Sydney recently. Ernie Farrance asked her if she had known a chap in Taree called Percy Smythe. Ernie used to drive Beeton's motor car. Eva was at Taree nursing for some time, and Ethel has also been here. Ernie is now working in the Parcels Dispatch Room at the G.P.O.
We left Clynch's and I went to Hopper's for tea. Was given my old place at the head of the table. There were none of the old faces left, except those of the household. Mr. Miller has gone to Queensland or somewhere as a commercial traveller. Billie Porter is still in town. He had to be asked to leave Hopper's, on account of getting drunk along with Mr. Croker, and playing up. Mr. Carmichael, the "snake-charmer" also became obstreperous, and was asked to leave. Arthur Hopper has a car of his own now, and Will seems to be doing very well in his line, as he got an assistant on. Elsie is just as lively as ever, and Mabel just as shy.
After tea I went up to Mrs. Nielson’s to spend the evening there. Jack Elliott is staying with her now. We discussed various subjects. It appears that there is a great deal of dissension in the church. Mr. Burns and Jack, and some others, hold the opinion that it is not right to go to war, while the others, especially the Billinghams, are greatly opposed to them. There seems to have been a lot of misunderstanding and consequent ill-feeling over that and other matters. When I was leaving, Jack came along with me. We called in at Bostock's and talked with Beattie for a while. Then we went and had a look at a got-up dreadnought in Hobson's window. The sides were composed of large saws, decks of emery cloth, railings of solder, guns of nail punches and brace heads. It was altogether, a splendid get-up, and far out-shone a similar attempt I had once seen in Anthony Hordern's window in Sydney, at the time of the Australian Fleet. We walked up the street a bit, and then went back to Bosstock's to see Beattie home, but Mr. Beard was there, so we went away. It was late when I got home.
Friday. 18. Asked Mrs. Billingham about that photo of Vera. It was plain she did not like it, so I said I would arrange with Will Hopper not to print it. All the same, I decided to get him to print one for me at any rate. Went down to Hopper's but the proofs were not ready. Got wire from Viv saying fare voucher sent. Went over to Singles'. Vera told me that she got into an awful row last night over that photo. Her mother thought it was a terrible disgrace to them. Went to Hopper's again later on and got the proofs. The one of Vera in the coat and hat was simply perfect. I thought I'd show it to Mrs. B. and she might alter her mind. Vera was very pleased with it. The photos of the group were also very good.
When I went home to dinner and showed the proofs to Mrs. Billingham, her objections to the "disgraceful" one began to disappear. In the end she gave me permission to order half-a-dozen. I think she must have felt proud of her daughter, for Vera certainly looked charming in the photo.
A.D. went to Hopper's and ordered half-a-dozen of the group in which the girls are standing, and half-a-dozen of Vera in the military coat and hat. Told Vera about our success, and she was very pleased. Went down to Bostock's for awhile. Beattie promised to let me have a photo of her. It seems a pity that she and Mr. Beard--and yet perhaps it is just as well.
Went round to Freeman's for a little while, then called in at Hobson's. Jack said he would come up to Billingham's tonight. Called at Robinson's to say "Goodbye" to Win. Had a very pleasant talk with her. She is a rather pretty girl. Got fare voucher at Post Office. It will save me the price of the fare back to Sydney, abt. 15/-.
A.T. called in at Hopper's. The photos were printed, but wouldn't be dry till the morning. Paid Will 5/- for one lot of them. Went to Bostock's to say "Goodbye" to Beattie. Mr. Beard was there, worse luck, as I wanted to beg a kiss from the dear little girl. Didn't stay very long. Jack was at Billingham's when I got there. We had a lot of arguments with the girls. They think that Beattie has snubbed or slighted them, and I'm afraid that Beattie is under the same misapprehension concerning them. Anyhow, there is a good deal of ill-feeling which should not be.
Sat. 19. Up early. Accompanied Vera to the shop. Kissed her goodbye. Called in at Barney Lynch's before breakfast A.B. kissed Elsie and Mrs. Billingham goodbye, went to Hopper's and got two of the photos of Vera, and two of the group. Said goodbye to all the Hopper's. Arthur Billingham came with me to the rly. Arthur Hopper drove me up in his car. Jack Elliott came up to see me off, and gave me a book to read on the way, "The Weapons of Mystery", by Joseph Hocking. The train left Taree about 8.20 am. and I saw the last of dear old Taree. I hadn't lived there very long, but I had got to like the district very much. It may be years before I see the place again, and indeed it is quite likely I'll never see it again.
Read the book Jack gave me on the way. Finished it before I got to Maitland. Bought Pearson's magazine at Newcastle, but didn't read it much. It was a dull day, and the journey was not an extra pleasant one. Had intended to spend the evening at Fox's, but felt too tired, so went straight home. Met Viv and Clytie at Kogarah, just returning from their honeymoon at Kiama. Viv said he was told we are to sail next Friday, and are going to Calcutta. That will be much better than Egypt anyway.
Dot Whitby, a friend of Viola's is staying here for the weekend. She is a very lively sort of a girl. They all went to the pictures at Kogarah. We had to use marjorine for tea instead of butter, as the latter can't be had. It's grand to think that butter and sugar can be so scarce as they are without developing an abnormal price. That is the best of having a democratic government.
A.T. wrote to Beattie Bostock telling her where to send the photo she promised me. Also mentioned about the dissensions in the Church at Taree, and appealed to her commonsense and religious principles to do her best to right the wrongs.
Sun. 20. A.B. went over to Dulwich Hill to see Mrs. Tanner. She had met Mum on Friday and asked me through her to come out. When I got there "Ilfracombe" was occupied by someone else. The people next door said that Tanners had shifted to Keith St. which wasn't far away. Went there and inquired at quite a number of places, but couldn't find them. Went round into McArthur Parade, but failed to find them there. Took the tram to Marrickville and went to Fox's for dinner. A.D. went home. Caught 4 pm. tram to Kogarah, and went into C.T. in time for tea. A.T. finished letter to Beattie, and went down to G.P.O., with the young Morris boys, to post it. Back in time for open-air meeting. Didn't stay to after mtg. Came home with Vera and Winnie Keats. Packed things ready for leaving tomorrow.
Mon. 21. Up early. After kissing them all goodbye, Viv and I left for Liverpool. Most of the 7th. of the 3rd. chaps caught the 8 am. train. We got to camp just before 9.30 am. We fell in and Costello came along and called for volunteers for the 18th and 19th battalions. About 50 chaps left us and went up. It spoils our company. If they fill camp with recruits we may not leave for some time instead of going on Friday as we had expected. In any case the Orsova, in which we are to go, is eleven days late, and is only just now leaving Fremantle. I got orderly corporal's job today. The company didn't do any training. We were condensed into seven tents. I'm in No 5 tent with Hill, Palmer, Peacock, Morrison, Boyd, Brown, Blackett, Wells and Leonard. Charlie Bruce, Arthur Ide, Hock Beck, "Snowy" and Meale have gone with the battalions. Paid today. £3-15.
Paid Howie 10/- for lessons from Sgt. Mjr. Mott at non-com's classes.
Tues. 22. A.B. we drilled till 10.30 am. and then went up for second dose of inoculations. They put in double the previous amount this time. Letter from Ettie Cunynghame, at Oberon. A.D. we were issued with old rifles again, and had some musketry instructions. During "smoke-o" it came on to rain and we left the parade ground. Went and had a hair-cut. A.T. went for walk up near first gate and back. No non-com's class. Have decided not to bother going to any more, as for all we learn there, it isn't worth 2/6 a week. Inoculation didn't affect me much this time. Besides a slightly sore arm, there are practically no effects. Wrote to Dad sending 30/- for Mum. Wrote to Mrs. Tanner, asking her to come out on Sunday.
Wed. 23. A.B. the long-looked for non-com's exam came at last. We were taken together with the would-be non-coms of the 7th of the 4th and examined by Major Frazer, with the assistance of a 2nd. Lieutenant. We were at it all day, though the 7th of the 3rd were all put through soon after dinner. We were given questions about the rifle, some of them pretty stiff, also detailing certain rifle exercises, and drilling a square. McDermott did very well, in fact, I think he was best of our lot. Howie and Woods didn't do too bad. Hocking didn't do too well at all. He seemed to be a bit nervous. Viv didn't do as well as he should have, but I'm sure he beat Hocking. I didn't do too bad, and am confident of having beaten Hocking, and may have done as well as Woods and Howie, though probably they would get the advantage of me with the word of command. Of the others, Blackett did pretty well, and Brown was better than I expected. Thornthwaite didn't do much good. Webb and Howard weren't there, and will probably be tested later on.
Dad came out in the afternoon. He brought a lettercard and a postcard and a letter sent by Vernie. The postcard was a printed one with everything crossed out except "I am quite well" and "Letters follow later on". The lettercard came written after he had been fighting eight days. He said Bert's wound was only a flesh wound, and he would soon be alright again. Ralph Dixon wounded in the neck, but he couldn't find out anything about how he was getting on. Rixon, a chap from the Narrandera Post Office, was killed while attempting to shoot a sniper. Vernie said the Turks were using dum-dums, which tore the men about awfully. He reckoned that if it had been a dum-dum that struck Bert, he would have lost his arm. He himself is comparatively safe, being with the battalion head-quarters, fifty yards behind the firing line, but he had had a few narrow escapes. The letter was written after he had been fighting for fourteen days. He hadn't yet heard any tidings of Ralph Dixon. Letter from Alexander, Dungog, saying machine sold, and money would be sent early next month.
Dad also brought a letter from the girls at Winton, together with a bank draft for £100. There was the money which Pater left to Mum paid at last, though she had never expected to receive it. It will come in very handy just now in paying off Schnacker's mortgage on our cottage.
Dad didn't stay very long, but went in time to catch the 5.30 pm. train, after going up to the 19th Batt. to see a chap he knew there. Received letter from Lorrie Maloney. He is thinking of enlisting but I don't think he will pass.
A lot of marmalades came to our company today. They've only been in camp a fortnight. A.T. went to Fellowship meeting in Pres. tent. There were a lot of visitors there. After the mtg. we had a communion service, which was more especially for those of the battalions which are leaving on Friday.
Thurs. 24. Reveille at 6.15 today. No early morning parade. We had early breakfast and left before 8 am. and marched to the rifle range to shoot musketry. The first practice was grouping at 100 yds. range, at which I scored the possible 25. Viv did likewise. The next was individual shooting at 200 yds. with rest. Viv got 14, and I got 18, out of the possible 20. Du Prat and another chap scored the possible. Between shooting we got a few competitions going in the way of jumping, hop-step and jump, etc. Got back to camp about 5.30 pm.
"Snowie" Hardie and young Gray came along with tunics to sell. They have been issued with uniforms, and are leaving tomorrow. Charlie Peacock bought Snowie's for 3/6, and I bought Gray's for 2/6.
A.T. felt very tired, so went to bed early. Have found it very cold sleeping alone since the boys went up to the battalions, so tonight went to bed fully dressed, except boots, and with overcoat on. Managed to keep warm from head to the bottom of the overcoat, but from the knees down was rather cold.
Friday 25. Musketry again today. We had to leave camp early, and were very disappointed at not being able to see the battalions off. When we were about half way to the range, we could hear the band playing, and knew that they were starting. Then came the sound of loud and prolonged cheering, and we knew the boys were marching away, leaving Australia.
At the 300 yds. range with the 15 inch bull, Viv scored the possible 20, but I only got 18, which was very disappointing for such an easy range. We had no rifle rest, and I couldn't hold it steady. At 500 yds. with rest, same targets and nasty wind blowing, Viv got 16 and I got 17, which I think was about the best score at that range. It came on to rain just before they had all finished at the latter range, and we had to go back to camp. All the new arrivals in our company have been given final leave from now till Monday morning at 9 am., so it looks as if we must be going to leave soon. Some rumours say we are leaving on next Friday. Results of the non-com's exam. are not yet out.
Sat. 26. Orderly corporal again today. A.D. washed some handkerchiefs, etc. Clytie came out later on. Have heard that Viv and I both passed for serjeants, but it is not certain yet.
Sun.27. Went to Pres. tent for church parade. After ch., Mum and Dad and all the family and Jimmy Webb and a friend of Rita's arrived. Mum and Dad gave me a present of a bonny little wristlet watch in leather case, with illuminated dial. It is a little beauty, and just the very thing I wanted.
We went down to the bank of the lagoon and had dinner, after which some of us went down to the gate to meet other visitors, Clytie and Mr. and Mrs. Tanner. They soon arrived, and Mr. McPhee came also. Herrick White also came out, and met us at the trenches. We went down to the trenches at the far end of the camp, and had a look over them. Mr. Tanner met Tally Cunynghame from Oberon, whom Ettie had told me in her last letter had come to camp. Mr. and Mrs. Tanner left early, and Viola and I accompanied them to the gate. Met Tally Cunynghame on the way. Had tea with the others and then came with them as far as the gate, where we said Goodbye. Probably we will not see the children again before leaving, but Dad and Mum were sure to be out again, while Clytie will be out pretty often during the week, as she has a week's holiday. After they left, Viv and I went back to the Pres. tent for the evening service.
Mon. 28. Prince of Wales birthday half holiday. Nurse Jackson arrived about midday, with Mattie Needham. They invited me to have dinner with them, but when I went to look for them afterwards, I couldn't find them. Wrote to Vera Billingham, Taree. At teatime Viv came and sent me to where the Jacksons were. Clytie and Jean McPhee were there also, besides other visitors. Mattie has two bonny little girls now. We had a pleasant tea, after which Clytie and Viv and Jean and I went to the concert at the Pres. tent. The other two only stayed a few minutes, and then went out for a walk somewhere, and a little later, Jean and I went for a walk up to the trenches in the bright moonlight. I felt a bit sociable, and put my arm around her as we walked along. We looked over the trenches and then strolled back to the gate. Went over to the station to see Jean and Clytie off.
Tues. 29. Viv was sent with some of our company as contact guard for the isolation camp. The company shifted from the tents to the fourth iron shed from the gate. We all collared our belongings and moved in a body. I don't fancy the tin huts; they must be cold to sleep in. Got a letter from Beattie Bostock, Taree, which stirred up the old fires of love. She addressed me as her "dearest friend" and wrote in a manner which would give me every hope and encouragement, were it not for my knowledge of her loyalty to the other man. She wished for a friend to write to her or be near her always, to help her to do God's work better. She also declared that the difference with the Billinghams was not due to any action or slight on her part, and complained that it was hard battling along on her own, when some of the church members, who were themselves far from perfect, were always finding fault. It was a very welcome letter, and made me feel very happy.
About 4 pm. I was sent to take Viv's place on the isolation guard, as he was wanted for something to do with the school of instruction. It was not a nice job. I was the only non-com. and the men I had were not much chop. We had three prisoners to guard, and had to keep the inmates from breaking out. The prisoners' language was vile. Viv came along and said that the results of the exam. were out. They were, Serjeants, in order of merit, Howie, McDermott, Smythe E.V., Smythe P. and Woods. Poor old Hocking has gone down to corporal. Leonard, Blackett, Brown & -- passed for corporals, Fox and O'Connor for lance-corporal. About 7 pm. they had to go to the doctor for treatment. I went with them, besides bringing a couple of guards. Left Drain in charge of the guard before going. Saw the patients being treated for their venereal diseases, the due reward of their misdeeds. Got back with the prisoners in time to take out the 7.30 pm. relief. Before going, two military police arrived with another prisoner, whom they had caught breaking camp opposite No. 6 tent. They said the guard would be crimed for the sentry allowing him to get past. It was a dark night, and the beat was about 200 yds. long, and it would be a mighty smart sentry who could guard it safely. It appears also that while I had the prisoners away for treatment the visiting rounds came, and Drain, whom I had left in charge, didn't go forward when they called for the man in charge, as he should have done. Some of the men said that the serjeant of the guard had gone away somewhere. The result was that the serjeant-major came to the conclusion that the serjeant of the guard had left nobody in charge. This, however, I didn't know till later.
Took the prisoner into custody; he gave his name as P. Jones. He was sitting by the fire when I took out the 7.30pm. relief, but when I got back, Davies, the sentry, informed me that Jones was missing. I made sure about it, and then informed the police, who then told me about the srjt.major's visit while I was away. It appears that also, while I was away with the "irrigation" crowd, the police had brought Jones to be placed under guard, and, thanks to Drain's stupidity, had found no one in charge, and accordingly kept their prisoner till I came back.
We were visited by the police several times during the night. They told me that two charges were laid against the guard, one for sentry Read allowing an inmate to break camp, and one for sentry Davies allowing a prisoner to escape. They said that no charge was to be made for my absence from the guard when the visiting rounds came. They told me to appear before the court at 8.45am. in the morning with Read and Davies, against whom the charges would be made, and who would be held responsible for their neglect. They also assured me that I would not fall in over it.
It was a bright moonlight frosty night, and we kept the fire going. The tents were reported to be infected with vermin, so prisoners and guards alike slept out in the open air. I managed to snatch a few hours' sleep about midnight.
Wed. 30. The prisoners were quiet all night. In the morning some of the blankets had a good coating of frost on them. At 8.30am. I left Creech in charge, and took Read and Davies down to the court. Our case was nearly the last to come off. Old Kirkland was there, as usual, and inflicted some very severe punishments. When our case came on, the charges were read to me. I was charged with (1) neglect of duty, and (2) allowing a prisoner to escape while in charge of isolation guard. The witnesses were called and the police told about getting the fellow breaking camp, etc. Serjeant-Major Paddy Quinn told about finding the guard without anyone in charge, and said it seemed to be in a state of chaos, and that everybody seemed to be boss. I was then given my say, and briefly recounted what had happened, stating that I had distinctly warned Drain to be in charge of the guard while I was away at the "irrigation", and that the prisoner escaped while I was taking out the reliefs. Kirkland asked me how long I was away at the "irrigation", to which I replied, "About twenty minutes". He then asked if I had any witnesses to corroborate my statements. Well, I had acted on the advice of the police, and of course, didn't expect this turn of events, and the only men I had were Read and Davies. Read, when questioned by the colonel, didn't know anything, he was a guard on No 4 beat when the trouble occurred. Davies, when questioned as to how long I was away at the "irrigation", said he thought about two or three minutes. Asked was he sure, he replied that he was certain I wasn't away more than two or three minutes.
Before reading the charge to me, Kirkland had asked if I were serjeant Smythe?
"Where are your stripes?"
I told him I was only made serjeant yesterday, and hadn't had time to put the stripes up yet.
"Do you think you'll ever put them up?"
"I don't know." Then the case proceeded.
When Davies' evidence was finished, Kirkland said to me "The evidence is conflicting, but I believe you have neglected your duty."
Said I, "I did the best I could under the circumstances."
"Well, you are reduced to the ranks and fined a week's pay."
I was thunderstruck. It was a very severe blow to me. The rank injustice of the whole thing stirred up my wrath and indignation. I asked our O.C., Tyson, if I could appeal against the judgement, or get a trial by court martial, and he said he would make enquiries and see what could be done. I had to go back to the isolation guard, and we weren't relieved till about 7.30 pm. The men were in a bad humour too at their extra duty after being on all night.
A.T., saw our old O.C., Smythe, and he said he would look up the regulations, and see if I could demand a court martial. Went to bed early, being tired and worried. I had a terrible headache too, and felt rather unwell. Found in my basket the pneumatic pillow I had asked Dad to buy for me, also a couple of crocheted facecloths which Clytie had made for me. Felt dreadfully downhearted and miserable. Today's turn of events was the hardest knock I've had for a long time. Being very tired for want of sleep, I soon went off, and slept soundly till the crowd came in to go to bed at about 10 pm. Asked Viv to doss in with me, and we put both blankets together, and thus cheated the cold.
Thurs. 1st. Acting orderly serjeant today. Wrote to Elsie Billingham. Tyson dictated a letter for me to write, asking for my case to be reopened, as I considered I had been unjustly dealt with, and hadn't been given the option for a court martial. A.T. bought "Kings Regs." and looked them up to see if Kirkland has the right to reduce a non-com to the ranks. It appears that he has powers to reduce an "acting non-com", but not a gazetted one, so therefore it would appear that he couldn't prevent the gazettal of a non-com's appointment.
Wrote to Beattie Bostock. Tried to give her some encouragement and help, and offered to write to her and be her friend. Said I'd have been willing to be always near her too, to help her along if Fate hadn't placed that pleasant privilege in the hands of another. Left the letter unfinished at 10 pm.
Viv went to the instruction school for officers today, so I had to doss alone tonight. Went to bed fully dressed except for boots and putties. Had my macintosh on, two balaclavas, and two pairs of sox. Got the old militia coat, and wrapped it round my feet, putting my feet in the sleeves, and yet, with all this on, and wrapped up in the blankets, I couldn't get a decent night's rest on account of the cold.
Friday 2nd. Several companies went out abt. 4.30 am. to Middle Head, to act the landing at Gallipoli for some picture film company. Was glad when it came time to get up, as there was little comfort in bed. Went back into the ranks this morning without waiting for orders, as I was full up of this half way between sort of business. A.B. went voluntarily on main guard as a private with Serjeant Woods. While there, Tyson sent for me to go with him to the orderly tent, to see about that application for my case to be reopened, which I had submitted. We went up, and after waiting for some time were taken in to where Kirkland was. He was very uncivil and piggish in his manner. I asked if there was any chance of getting a court martial, to which he replied that I was not entitled to one. He then told me that I was not a serjeant at the time of the trouble. He said that putting in the application for retrial was an act of insubordination, and showed that I was flouting his judgement. I had no right whatever to set up my opinion against his. He had awarded a punishment which he considered I merited for allowing a prisoner to escape, and my opinion on the matter didn't count at all. By making an application for retrial, I had only aggravated the case, especially one addressed in such insubordinate language as that I had submitted.
I asked him if the decision would affect future gazettals, to which he replied, "Certainly it will."
He then turned to Mr. Tyson and said, "As I said before, I refuse to consider the case now. If, however, after some time has elapsed, Smythe's conduct has been such as to purge the contempt, I may bring it up for reconsideration."
Tyson asked him how long to wait before the case could be reopened.
Kirkland turned on him savagely, saying, "You don't think you'd bring it up tomorrow, do you!"
"No. I thought perhaps in a week's time."
"A week? A month" he said gruffly. "Anyhow bring the case up before you sail. You have no orders about sailing yet? Well, the case can be reopened a few days before you leave."
We went away then, and Tyson told me afterwards that my application, which he had dictated to me, and which Kirkland considered was so very insubordinate, was previously dictated to him by Captain Wallace, the Adjutant of the camp, and next in command below Kirkland himself.
Went back to the Main Guard. I was the sentry at the bridge, and my turn for duty came at 1.30 pm. till 3.30 pm. Finished my letter to Beattie. My app. for retrial was sent back with note that my case would be reopened in a fortnight's time subject to O.C.'s recommendation. Clytie and Viv and Dad came along just before teatime. Dad brought a couple of letters, one from Vernie and one from Bert, also a couple of sweaters. Clytie left me some butter and a cake. Had tea at the refreshment room just across the road.
On duty again from 7.30 till 9.30. Had plenty to do, examining all the passes of those leaving camp. After coming off, I put in the next few hours writing up my diary. It was a cold frosty night, and we had a fire going all night.
Saturday 3. On duty again from 1.30 am. till 3.30 am., after which I spread out my bed by the fire and slept till after 6 am., when we had to turn out for reveille. On duty again 7.30 till 9.30 am. Met Ernie Bell. He is in the signallers, and has been in camp about a month. It's about 8 years since I last saw him.
Our guard was relieved abt. 10 am. Applied for leave for the weekend. Had a shower-bath. Quite a lot of us were granted leave, and went in by the 12.30 pm. train. Ct. the 1.5 train to Kogarah. Clytie was there when I arrived. Viv came by the next train. Read Bert's and Vernie's letters. Bert, at time of writing, was in hospital at Birmingham. Vernie's letter was written from the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea, before they went to Gallipoli. He had given it to the steward to post, so as to dodge the censor, but the censor had got hold of it somehow, and detained it for some time, and that's how it came to be late reaching us.
A.T. Viv and Clytie went over to Gladesville. The children went to the pictures.
Sunday 4. Put in the day at home. A.D. Mum and Dad and I went for a walk along the beach. Coming back we met Viola and Kitty Winters & Herrick White. I went on with them for a walk up towards Brighton-le-sands. A.T. wrote to Alexander, Dungog, saying money for machine had not yet arrived. Herrick and I left about 8 pm. Met the Morris's and others at Central Rly. Stn. Caught the 9.5 pm. train to Liverpool.
Monday 5th. Had another cold night of it. The company was sent to Liverpool showground today for our uniforms. Those of us who had only been inoculated twice were done this morning. Was too crook in the afternoon to drill, so spread out my blankets in the hut and slept most of the afternoon. A.T., went to Sal Army writing tent and wrote up defence and evidence for my case.
Tuesday 6th. It was comparatively warm last night. Was rather feverish all night and not at all well today. A.B., we were served out with uniforms and kits. It was a job to get tunics large enough. They were all on the small side. A.D., we turned out for drill in our uniforms. Mr. Tyson told me we were to go to Middle Head tomorrow to act the landing at Gallipoli for a cinematograph Company. Last week's performance was a failure, for when the operator called out "Every fourth man fall dead," the whole crowd went down to it. Mr. Wilson gave us some company drill, and we mucked it up a bit. No. 3 platoon was specially awkward, and in the end Wilson got desperate and told Woods to take us away and give us squad drill for the rest of the afternoon. Some of the men seemed to be absolute mugs, and the platoon kept getting tied in a knot, till Woods got fairly ropable, and swore a treat.
A.T. we were told to turn out in the morning in full marching order. Reveille will go at 4 am. Gave my old tunic and breeches to Viv. Wrote to Ettie Cunynghame, Oberon.
Wednesday 7th. At 3.30 am. someone came and rapped along the corrugated iron walls of our hut and woke everybody up. We got up and prepared for the day's work. Had a hurried breakfast, and fell in about 5 am. The companies from the first four tin huts, the seventh of the 13th., 1st., 2nd., and 3rd., took part. Marched up to Liverpool and took a special train for Sydney at 5.5am. As we neared Sydney, day began to dawn. The train was blocked at one place and a few people in the houses below saw the troops and started waving to us. Another train somewhere near by was whistling its inside out with a variety of spasmodic blasts, and I wondered what was wrong with it. Then we moved on, and soon another engine somewhere seemed to suddenly go mad and started demonstrating its whistling powers. Then I tumbled to what was the matter. They were cheering us. More trains came by and almost blew their whistles off, while our boys answered with cheers and shouts. Soon we approached the engine sheds at Redfern, and engine after engine joined in the mad chorus, shrieking and screeching, till the hundreds of locomotives there were using their whistles to the utmost, while men gathered about and waved their hats and yelled as we went past. It was a regular pandemonium of shrieks, wails, yells, shouts and cheers. Even the old steam cranes contributed their share towards the general din. As we rumbled through Redfern, men quickly gathered on the platform to cheer and wave to us, sharing in the general delusion that we were leaving Australia. On we went, and every train we passed tore the throat out of its whistle, till at last we landed at Sydney. Just as we got there it started to rain. We marched from the station down through College St., up William St., and out past Rushcutter's Bay to some Navy place. Folks appeared at doors and windows all along the way and waved to us. A drizzling rain continued throughout the whole march, and before we halted the rain was beginning to soak through to the skin. At the naval place we broke off for a while and went into a large room where a lot of sailors were having breakfast. We made ourselves at home and the sailors provided us with what sausages they hadn't eaten, besides plenty of bread and jam, and tea with milk in it.
About 9am. we fell in again and were put into boats and taken in tow by motor launches. Enjoyed the run out in the boats to Middle Head. After hanging about there for some time we were landed on the tiny beach at Obelisk Bay. A company of men there were dressed in the Turkish uniform. Some land mines were placed in the sand on the beach and connected up by wires, to be exploded by electricity. There were a few in the water too. After waiting there for a while we got in the boats again. It was rather amusing. We had to wait till the water receded and then rush down and clamber into the boat before the water came swirling up again. Several would make a rush together, and their frantic efforts to escape the water were very laughable. In the excitement one chap lost his footing and managed to sit down in the water as it came washing up.
Having embarked, we put off a bit and got ready for the great event. The Turks were placed some on the beach and some further up the hill. The cinema camera was placed on a rock at the left of the beach. It was still cloudy now, but all the rain had disappeared and the air was very clear. When everything was ready and the boats arranged in position some behind the others, we got the command to fix bayonets, and then the sailors started to pull for the shore. Things began to get exciting. When we got near the shore the troops on shore opened fire, and some bombs began to explode, and for some time there was quite a respectable din. As our boat, which was one of the last, ran up on the sand, we sprang out and charged up the hill with bayonets fixed. A lot of men, and some Turks, had fallen dead on the beach. Old Williams was there, and he had allowed his rifle to fall where the waves washing up each time completely covered it. With the others, I charged up that hill till the whistle blew without noticing myself getting particularly tired. But when we stopped, I was almost exhausted, although it was only quite a short distance. We had full kit on, and the hill was some steep. Had a bit of a rest and then formed up on the beach again, while a couple of chaps acted the struggle on the cliff between the Australian and the Turk. The Turk was behind a bush sniping and the Australian crept up to bayonet him, but altered his mind, and laid his rifle down and struck the Turk with his fist and then came to grips with him. A brief struggle followed and then the Turk lay helpless. He got up, and a stuffed dummy was put in his place. The brave Australian then picked up the dummy and shot him over the cliff with truly wonderful ease.
That ended the play. It didn't appear to me to be too well done, but might look all right on the pictures.
N.B. The filming of the Landing at Gallipoli at Obelisk Bay was for the feature film “Within Our Gates”. The surviving scrap of this film, just a few minutes showing the re-enactment of the Landing, is stored in The National Film and Sound Archive, A Division of the Australian Film Commission.
We all got into the boats again, and after wasting a good deal of time, were taken in tow again by the launches, and in due time arrived back at the naval place. Marched to a small reserve adjoining the park at Rushcutter's Bay, and there halted for lunch. After lunch I studied Topography for some time, and then went off to sleep. It was getting on for four when we moved on again. Marched back through Sydney the way we had come, and got a special train about 5pm. It was about 6pm. when we got in to camp. A.T. went to Pres. tent. No Fellowship meeting.
Thursday, 8th. No early morning parade today. Tyson told me that no more leave will be granted, as we will soon be leaving. It is rumoured we are going next Wednesday.
Friday 9th. Told off for orderly today. Very little to do. Studied most of the time, topography. Went to "Nada" studio about 4 pm. and had photo taken. Serjeant Woods went home on sick leave with a bad throat. Told off for Sydney picquet tonight. We left about 6pm. Sjt. McDermott and Cpl. Webb were our non-coms. On arriving in Sydney, we divided into two parties. I was with Mac's party. Met Dad in Pitt St. near the Railway. Told him I would try and get home tomorrow afternoon.
We marched down Pitt St. and moved round about between Circular Quay and Market St. The crowd stopped at various hotels for drinks, and by the time we started for home, Kinsella and Le Clerc were three parts sprung, while Mac himself was rather unsteady. The only sober ones of the crowd were Hill, Palmer, Morrison and myself. We met Webb's party at the station and came back by the 11.33pm. special. A lot of our company, who had stalled out, came home by the same train. Young Harward was amongst them, and he couldn't get his blankets, which were put away in the store tent. As I had five of Sjt. Woods' blankets, I lent Harward mine for the night. Didn't get to bed till about 1.30am.
Saturday, 10th. No early morning parade today. Our company was on guard yesterday and last night. Wrote birthday letter to May Curtain, Corowa. A.D. we were issued with caps, towels, and soap, the latter being half a bar of the common brown variety. Wrote out witness' evidence for Creech, Drain, Bassett and Duggan. Called at "Nada" studio and saw negatives of my photo. Ordered half a dozen cabinet size. Took a few things I didn't require, macintosh, militia coat, etc. in hamper, and with a couple of other chaps went out on a doctored pass, one I had collected the last time I was on guard. A lot of our chaps stalled out. Went home, arriving there soon after 6 pm., and had a decent meal. Got Onoto fountain pen, and some military books I had got Dad to get for me. Fixed up a few other matters that required attention. Alexander at Dungog had sent the money for the machine, and Dad had used it on making a start in his new shop at Kogarah, as I told him he might. Wrote to Alexander advising him received the money. Gave Mum list of names and addresses to send photos to. It included Beattie Bostock and Mrs. Billingham, Taree, Ettie Cunynghame, Oberon, Lorrie Maloney, Jerilderie, Mrs. Tanner, Clytie, and Jean. Also asked her to send 10/- every month out of my money to F.T.Saunders, Randwick, for Foreign Missions. Said Goodbye all round to the children. It is probably the last time I'll see them before leaving. Mum and Dad and Viola are coming out to Liverpool tomorrow. Left soon after 10pm. and arrived at Liverpool about 12.30am. to find that my blankets, which I had forgotten to bring in, had disappeared. There was another pile of four blankets left there, so I collared them.
Sunday, 11th. Went with the Presbyterians at Church Parade. Hugh Paton gave a fine sermon on swearing and thieving. He was very straight, and rubbed it in some.
A.D., went down towards the gate to meet Mum and Dad. Met Violet Trangmar. Mum and Viola came along soon after. They brought a face cloth that Rita had knitted for me. It was wrapped in brown paper with all sorts of messages written thereon for Bert & Vernie. Dad had gone back for something. We strolled up towards the school of instruction, and met a schoolfellow of Viola's, Harold Humphries. He turned out to be one of the Humphries of Oberon. Strange how old acquaintances often meet. Dad came along soon afterwards, and we got Viv and went down to the bank of the river near the Sal. Army tent. I then went back to the gate to meet Jean McPhee. Waited there a long time, but she didn't come, and I left. Going back, I came across Dad and Viola, and we met Charlie McDougall and Mick Taylor. Went down to where Mum and Viv were. We had tea in the school of instruction mess tent, and then strolled up towards the gate. Met Charles Mc. and Mick again. Viv left us at the gate, as he had to go on guard at the school at 6pm. I went up to the station with Mum and Dad and Viola. Asked Viola to get me a few articles I'll need. She and Mum and Dad are going to meet us at the Central Rly. Stn. on Wednesday, when we come in. Saw them off in the train, and then came back and went to the Presbyterian tent. Good sermon by Hugh Paton.
Monday, 12th. Spent most of the day getting things fixed up ready for leaving on Wednesday. The Advance Guard was told off to go down to the boat tomorrow morning. Asked Tyson to see about getting my case to come off tomorrow morning. This afternoon, after parade, Tyson came to me and said that it would be no use going before the court tomorrow, as I couldn't be a serjeant because the company already had its complement of non-coms. gazetted. I asked him to see Kirkland about it and see if he couldn't do anything for me.
This seems like the last drop in the cup of poison. After waiting patiently for my re-trial, and confident that I would win; then for my hopes to be frustrated after all. It makes me feel miserable and disgusted altogether. Poor old McDermott is pretty well disgusted too. Orders came out a few days ago saying all the non-coms of the reinforcements would go into the front as privates, and that none of them would be gazetted. On the strength of that, Mac put in for a transfer, so that he would get into a battalion, and his transfer papers came through at the same time as the papers showing the gazettal of our non-coms. Mac's luck was right out.
Wrote to F.T. Saunders, Randwick about the 10/- a month for Foreign Missions. Nearly all the reinforcements leaving on Wednesday marched out this afternoon to go to town. They were met by a strong force of police on the bridge, so they ran down and crossed the river on the weir, about five hundred of them, and got up to the train. But the O.C. of the 7th. of the 2nd. went up and reasoned with the men, telling them that if they went, they wouldn't be allowed to go on Wednesday, and their places would be filled with "marmalades". Some yielded, then others followed suit, and in the end the whole crowd came back.
This morning the boys put in 3d each to buy flags and ribbons for our departure on Wednesday. The flags and ribbons arrived tonight. The ribbons are for our battalion's colours, gold and black. The flags are to put in the ends of our rifles while marching through Sydney. We are to catch a 5.50am. special from here on Wednesday, so will get to Sydney about 6.30am.
Got a letter from Clytie tonight. Wishing me Goodbye and Godspeed.
Tues. 13. Spent most of the time today getting fixed up ready for leaving. Kirkland came and inspected the company, and reproved the boys for breaking camp last night, saying that if they had asked for leave they would have got it. Then the boys chipped in asking what about leave for this afternoon. He said he might let them have it, but would let them know later. The 7th. of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd were then formed up for an inspection by Colonel Wallack, the District Commandant. After the inspection, Wallack addressed the troops, and, when leaving, the boys gave him three rousing cheers. They then cheered Costello and all the other officers present except Colonel Kirkland. He was left out in the cold.
Tyson neglected to see about my case till it was too late. I asked him to write out a recommendation for the reconsideration of the case and let me go and interview Kirkland, but he demurred, and said he would see Kirkland about it this afternoon himself.
A.D. we were granted general leave from 3pm. till 10.30pm. Went to "Nada" studio and got the photos I had ordered. They were not extra good ones. Caught the 4pm. train from Liverpool and went to town. Called in at Boesser's workroom for a while, and then went home. Mrs. Webb was there, she had been in Wagga and came down to Sydney this mng. She is going back to Jerilderie tonight, and is taking Jimmy and Eric with her. Had tea. Postcard from Elsie Billingham. Got the paints, brushes, etc. that Viola had got for me. She had also bought me a couple of nice warm pairs of gloves. Only had an hour at home. They are all going to come in the morning and meet us at the railway. Left the photos at home and returned to Camp. Viola came with me as far as Kogarah station.
Wed. 14. Up at 3.30am. Had a hasty breakfast and fell in. All were present but Kinsella. We got a move on about 5am. Said Goodbye to Viv. As we marched away up to the station, the first grey streaks of dawn were beginning to appear in the east. At last we were all aboard the train and moving towards Sydney. We all had our flags and our colours and were in a gay mood. When it got a bit more daylight the boys hailed everybody we passed and waved their flags and cheered. The engines woke up and worked their whistles overtime. It was no mistake this time, we were actually getting away at last. When we arrived at Sydney there was a large crowd waiting. I kept a sharp lookout for Mum and the others, but couldn't see them. Many of the onlookers broke into the ranks, and came along with their friends and relatives. There was a big contrast between this and last Wednesday's march. We went along quietly, there was no singing or cheering, and, instead of marching in formation, we walked along any old how. Met Dad at Rawson Place. He had sent the others on by tram to Fort McQuarrie, thinking they had missed us. We straggled along somehow down through Sydney. Many people turned out to wave us Goodbye. The whole proceedings seemed laden with an oppressive solemnity. Came across Mum and the children near Fort McQuarrie. Poor old Mum seemed to be rather cut up. The big "Orsova" was alongside the wharf waiting. I hung back till the last, and then said Goodbye to them all. It was rather a trying time. People were crying everywhere. Gave my flag to Mum to keep till we come back from the war. Viola gave me a small bouquet of wattle. After waiting on the wharf for some time, we were at last sent on board and had our quarters allotted to us. Then we were allowed out on deck. The side of the ship was lined with soldiers, waiting for their friends and relatives to be allowed in on the wharf. At last the big iron gates swung open and the crowd came pouring in. Almost at the same time the great vessel began to throb, and to move, slowly, ever so slowly. In came the crowds, with eager faces peering up and anxiously scanning the faces on the boat. In vain I looked for Mum and the others. Saw Kitty Winters and her mother; they were looking for Rob. Packets and parcels were thrown to friends on the ship; streamer reels of all colours were tossed on board. The wharf soon became packed, and a fantastic maze of many-coloured streamers connected the slow-moving leviathan with the throng below. Further and further out we got, while I kept searching anxiously among the thousands of upturned faces. How I longed for a last glance at the familiar faces - to be able to wave them a last farewell, but it was all in vain. The distance increased, and streamer after streamer reached its limit and broke asunder. I felt bitterly disappointed, and could not help crying a bit. On the wharf hundreds of flags and handkerchiefs were fluttering and waving, and the air vibrated with the continuous cheering. It was a pretty scene, yet solemn and awful. Slowly the distance increased, and the network of gay streamers dwindled away, till at last a solitary purple ribbon stretched from the stern to the wharf, a distance of about two hundred yards. Gradually our pace increased, and the crowds left the wharf and followed us along the shores of the bay, still cheering and waving.
The great ship moved on down the harbour for a while, and then came to a stop. A few motor launches followed us up with passengers, and I scanned them eagerly as they came past. At last I thought I spotted Mum. Yes, it was her alright. She and Dad were standing at the stern of a pretty crowded launch. I got in a prominent position and waved and waved till at last I attracted their attention. The three girls and Gordon were there too, on the top of the launch. By-and-bye it came so close that we could talk to each other. The girls asked me to send them postcards of France, if we go there. Rita tossed up a flag for me to keep. The launch kept about for over half an hour, and then began to move off. We kept on waving till she disappeared past the stern of the ship. I was glad the parting was over, and happy that I had been able to see them again in the launch.
Had a very decent dinner on board. Launches hung about all the afternoon. About 4 pm. the engines started again, and soon we began to move out. Before teatime we were out through the heads, and moving down the coast. The sea was somewhat rough, and I got a queer feeling in the head, but had a good tea nevertheless. We were grouped in messes of 16 each to a table. Hooks are provided in the roof for hammocks. We are dreadfully crowded for space, and my company was allotted to the lowest deck, below the water level, and very poorly ventilated. I was one of the mess orderlies for today. During the afternoon I went to Mr. Tyson for my wages, and he told me that he had seen Kirkland about my case, and nothing could be done, as it was too late. The 35/- fine was stopped out of my pay. Tyson seemed very ill with a cold.
A.T. I felt rather seasick, and turned into my hammock early. Kinsella turned up on the wharf at Sydney before we embarked.