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1915: One man's story, 108 years later

20_1 NO DETAILS HAVE BEEN ADVISED FOR THIS PHOTOGRAPH BUT IT IS BELIEVED TO BE A GROUP OF

If you want to read the posts DAY by DAY on the relevant date in 2023 click here to see each day unfolding

January 1915
FRIDAY 1st  JANUARY  

Sailing on board the “Ulysses” 10 days from sunny Victoria, for a destination, which can only be known on the rear pages of this diary. Left Albany 2 days ago after a very smooth passage from Melbourne. Food very good but slightly “moorish”.  

Troops made voluntary parade to the cookhouse demanding more. Things seemed as though they threatened mutiny for a while, but after an explanation by our Major, meals were dished up by our mess orderly in somewhat similar style as we get at

Home Sweet Home 

 

SATURDAY 2nd  JANUARY 

Sleeping out is a practice taken up very largely on board. 

Unlike camp life, we are swung in hammocks instead of the waterproof sheet on the hard ground. On gazing down from the upper deck one can see hammocks swinging from every available holder. 

Our company “C” of the 14th Battalion is unfortunate to strike guard 

Every man is given a special duty & for some of us it lasts through the night & morning until 8 AM.

Not very interesting walking about all night trying to keep awake “On guard”. 

 

SUNDAY 3rd JANUARY 

A very easy day, only a morning inspection of our crockery dishes etc which must be kept scrupuliously clean

& then three church parades. 

A very effective sermon was preached on bad language with its causes & effects.  

The formation of a choral Society, which we think will take well. 

 

MONDAY  4th JANUARY 

Plenty of physical exercises. If I keep at this well I’m sure I’ll be more than 10 stone before the return. 

Also an examination on the rifle made the day very interesting 

Second dose innoculation after which the usual cry is keep away from my arm. 

 

TUESDAY 5th JANUARY 

Two weeks sailing from Melbourne 

On looking from astern one is able to detect the order in which we are sailing.  

17 Troopships in close formation of three columns 

 

WEDNESDAY 6th JANUARY 

In the vicinity of the Equator so you can imagine what the heat is. 

Lolling about the deck in armchairs all day one is tempted to cast his thoughts back on Home Sweet Home 

 

THURSDAY 7th JANUARY  

Early this morning we are blessed with a tropical shower.  

These showers are as thick as the heaviest rainfall we have at home & come up within a few minutes notice 

 

FRIDAY 8th JANUARY 

Excessive heat still prevails & on strolling about the deck stepping over prostrate friends one thinks he is

the only being on board with energy. 

8 pm on upper deck, a drink of ice water lemon squash 

 

SATURDAY 9th JANUARY 

Heavy tropical showers. 

Men are parading again about tainted food. A row of dishes along the deck, hundreds of men around, a dog is brought &

put before the meat & sniffs food, then immediately trots off hungry, amidst cheering from men.  

This is only one instance. 

 

 

SUNDAY 10th JANUARY 

Parson preached very good & effective sermon as usual. 

8P.M. All boats stop as a burial service is being conducted on the NZ.  

This is the second death in the 2nd AEF. 

 

MONDAY 11th JANUARY 

We are crossing the line today, the sooner the better for this heat is just about getting us under 

  

TUESDAY 12th JANUARY   

My 22nd birthday. a day from Colombo.  

Not having seen any land since we left Australia we naturally look forward to this treat with no little interest 

We have orders today to get our equipment ready for a route march 

 

WEDNESDAY 13th JANUARY (incl. 14th January) 

Four o’clock this morning land in sight at last.  

Seven o’clock sees us anchored inside the harbour which is cut off from the main water by a concrete breakwater. 

As soon as we pulled up into our position we were very soon surrounded on all sides with negroes with boat loads of tropical fruits of all descriptions. Several, more eager to earn money than the others climed (sic) up the ships side to the upper deck & gave exhibitions of diving for 4 shillings a dive. 

 

FRIDAY 15th JANUARY 

Seemed almost a mutiny again, hundreds of troops climed (sic) down ropes into boats of eager n**gers & got ashore, after being so disappointed in not being allowed ashore.  

These defaulters were all caught & reprimanded for punishment at disembarkation 

 

 

SATURDAY 16th JANUARY       

The fleet :- 

Ulysses                   Borda 

Themistocles         Willochra 

Ceramic                 Vendalia   

Suvic                      *Altonia 

Persic 

Port MacQuarie 

Vestaila                   & 3 German boats 

Ajana  

Ayreshire 

Berrama 

 

SUNDAY 17th JANUARY      

THIS DATE IS BLANK 

 

MONDAY 18th JANUARY  

All boats stopped for a burial.  This is the 7th death since embarkation.  

Bodies are sewn up in a hammock & put overboard.  

I have no inclination for a death at sea.  

 

TUESDAY 19th JANUARY      

THIS DATE IS BLANK 

 

WEDNESDAY 20th JANUARY 

We are at present sailing halfway between Colombo & Egypt.  

Expect to land at Aden for a route march  

 

 

THURSDAY 21st JANUARY   

A thin line of smoke on the horizon early this morning caused a little excitement. 

Nearly every glass available was pointed in that direction.  

This continued until about 3 o/c PM when it was discovered to be an armed merchant boat & not a German cruiser 

 

 

FRIDAY 22nd JANUARY  

Another burial at sea this morning, making the 8th since embarkation.  

 

SATURDAY 23rd JANUARY     

More land hove in sight today.  Aden. A very fine spot.  

The first thing we saw was a huge rock appearing on the horizon like a cloud.  

We stayed here for about 8 hours. It is very interesting to see the different types of n**gers, these appear to be a more civilised & a better class than those of Colombia (sic) 

Although we anchored well out, we were soon surrounded on all sides by this tribe with boat loads of fried pines, dates & Turkish & Egyptian Cigarettes.  

These were going at 6 per 100 upwards to 2 shillings 

I think we all have enough now to last us to end of war. 

 

SUNDAY  24th JANUARY  

At 2 am we pass through the strait into the Red Sea.  

Hugging the coast of Africa all along, caravans can be seen drawn by mules down the steep mountain tracks.  

Another burial today, making the 10th 

 

 

MONDAY 25th JANUARY     

Sailing up the Red Sea we passed the 12 Appostles Islands,  

barren rocks jutting hundreds of feet upwards right from the water’s edge with a light-house on top. 

TUESDAY  26th JANUARY   

In the Red Sea no land in sight.  

We travelled 300 miles, this is a record for the voyage.  

Had no sleep until 1 o/c in the morning  

We were no sooner in our hammocks one side when landed out the other. 

 

WEDNESDAY 27th JANUARY 

Travelled 295 miles. 

Land closing in on both sides

195 miles to Suez 

 

THURSDAY 28th JANUARY   

Arrived at Suez 4.30 this morning.  

Long before sunrise we were surrounded again by this dark tribe.  

One thing we noticed, very difficult to distinguish women from men. 

Went down the freezing chamber on board.  

 

FRIDAY 29th JANUARY   

Left Suez  up the canal we go.  

Passed along-side the British Man O-War “Ocean”.  

Also a stone throw from the main street  

First Sign OF ACTIVE SERVICE  

Trenches on both sides of Canal  Ghurkas on the defense.  

We passed another Man O War “REQUIM” at Ishmalia.   Anchored here tonight 

 

 

SATURDAY 30th JANUARY 

 7AM  

Leaving this lonely place of one motor and several camels  

we have camps on both sides. (Gurkahs.)  

We passed another British Cruiser Swiftsure   

Also the           in the canal (the banks are not more than a stones throw, from one end to another

except in the lakes of 82 miles in length)  

We took 2 days to do this journey.  

Arrived at Port Said 3.30 PM the most interesting port so far 

The city is right on the banks of the canal, so we were soon surrounded by 

Side Shows and native traders  

Refer to 

 

SUNDAY 31st JANUARY (incl. 1st & 2nd February) 

Left Port Said 12 o’clock Saturday night 

Fair sailing we arrived at Alexandria 4 o’clock Where we are really going to land at last.  

Parson gave very impressive address re conduct of 1st Contingency  

with the result, on our arrival absolute silence reigned supreme on board.  

For the first time we trod Terra Firma.  

My vaccination taking very badly so I stopped back on board while the others went for a route march through Alexandria. 

We all went ashore 7o/c PM & marched to the trains & 9.35 we started for Cairo & from there to Heliopolis

arriving here at 4.20 AM  

A journey I shall never forget, thinking every minute was my last. 

I could not walk to the camp 

Got a lift in transports. 

February 1915