Photo of Fred’s brother, Edgar
On his 32nd Birthday Fred Symonds (533) volunteered for active service with the 1st AIF – it was the 8th of August 1914, and that same day he began a diary which he kept until his birthday the following year. Ten days later he passed the medical in Bendigo, Victoria, and on the 21st of August he left his hometown of Inglewood for Melbourne, where he went into camp at Broadmeadows. Three days after his arrival, he was surprised to find his young brother Edgar (625) had also arrived in camp, and so the pair stuck together, training and eventually sailing with the 5th Battalion.
Taking up Fred’s diary in Egypt on the 3rd April 1915 – he notes: “Leaving to-morrow for somewhere.”
4th – Leaving camp to-day for front. Left camp at 6.30 p.m., and marched to Cairo; entrained about 2 a.m.; very tired; no sleep. Reached Alexandria about 6 a.m.; boat No 12 (Nooran) [sic – Novian]; lots of transports about.
5th – Embarked on No 12.
6th – Left Alexandria at 2 p.m.; blowing a bit.
7th – Very rough; everyone sick, and decks in a terrible mess; no portholes, and very stuffy; not sick myself.
8th – Still rough and unpleasant.
9th – Reached Lemnos Island about 6 a.m.; weather calmer, and day promises to be fine. A lot of warships, transports and other small craft about; about 50 miles from the Dardanelles.
10th – Light duties.
11th – Rifle and section drill.
12th – Bathing, etc. Four more transports arrived; must be quite 60 here now; the battleships look great; the Queen Elizabeth is a splendid sight. Saw a sea-plane to-day; it went up from a boat in the harbor and flew for an hour or so over us.
13th – [Censored] left us last night; she has been tied up on our side for a couple of days to tranship provisions, I fancy. Saw Windsor on her.
14th – Got word last night that the ships had forced an entrance to the Narrows and the Sea of Marmora; expect we will be landing soon. Went ashore this afternoon.
15th – There are a lot of French and English troops here. Went ashore to-day in full marching order; ammunition makes packs rather heavy; had route march and returned to boat for tea. Our boat is “lousy.” We are scratching and hunting all our spare time; she has been an old cargo steamer, and has done a lot of work as a troop ship.
16th – Marching order and parading in boats; did not go ashore.
17th – Some of our fellows rowed over to the Queen Elizabeth, and say she is a wonderful sight; I would like to go over her, but am not one of the chosen. We paraded to-day in life-belts and marching order to boats; it was hard to know where the men were, they had on such a lot of gear; was on guard last night.
18th – Expect to leave very soon for the mainland. This harbor has never had so many boats in it before; I bet; its just full of them. Would like to get some news; have had none since left Cairo. Plenty of false rumors get around, but we are used to them. Had voluntary church parade this morning.
19th – Mess orderly to-day.
20th – Very blowy; can’t leave for landing to-day, or until weather takes up a bit; very cold; hope we give the Turks a doing. It is going to be a ticklish job, somewhere on Gallipoli. Did my washing to-day.
21st – Weather very bad; raining. Just heard that the Brigadier has come on board, so it looks like going.
22nd – Still here; weather improving.
23rd – Hope to leave to-morrow; weather good.
24th – Left at 11 a.m. Don’t know exactly when we land; think early in the morning. A lot of boats left last night. Blanket parade; allowed to take one. We anchored about dusk near an island, and left it at 11 p.m. for the landing place; expect to make landing just before dawn. We are landing to support the first troops, and will be among the first lot.
The Landing on Gallipoli
25th – Landed this morning; first lot about 1 o’clock. The country looks very difficult, and is full of Turks. Our first load got it very hot from the beach; many killed in the boats. I heard the sailors coming back after landing the first lot saying that they made a magnificent charge with only fixed bayonets – did not wait for orders, but jumped into the water before the boats were beached and got rid of their packs after they got the first trenches. There were thousands of Turks, and our first party consisted of only a couple of hundred men. The sailors said they never saw anything like the way our men went at them. I think the main body of Turks must be further inland. We were acting as supports to the advanced line, and landed about 8 o’clock. It took a long time to get all the firing line men ashore. We were under heavy shrapnel fire while landing; they had some guns on a peninsula about two miles away which covered the whole of our landing, and they gave us pie. The first sight that greeted us was some dead comrades, and a host of wounded. We went up a gully to the right, and took our packs off just before getting the steep climb. We had a long climb before getting near the ridge on the top of the gully, and it was then that we began to hear the bullets and shrapnel. One of our chaps had been hit on the leg further back where we took our packs off; that was the only casualty we had had so far.
When we got to the ridge we retired there, and could see wounded men coming down helping each other over the steep ground, which was very nearly perpendicular in places. Some had stretchers, but it was almost impossible to use them. How the poor fellows got back to the dressing station I don’t know; it must have cost some of them hours of agony. After we had been there for about 10 minutes we got word that we were wanted in the firing line, so they sent Mr Levy with No 15 platoon. Shortly after we got word that Captain Lager was badly wounded, and must have more supports, so No. 14, our platoon, got the order to advance to the firing line. We no sooner got over the ridge than we were met by a hail of bullets and shrapnel. We covered the ground in short, sharp rushes, taking cover in all depressions. The enemy had the range of all the cover that was worth taking, and kept a constant fire of shrapnel over it. In one place the shells were bursting right on top of us, and coming almost as quick as one could count them. It was then that our men started to fall out.
I got hit in the shoulder with a piece of shell just before we reached the firing line, and was told to go back with a man who was badly wounded just behind us, so I left my kit and rifle there and got hold of this chap, who, poor fellow, was hit in about eight places, and would have been killed had he stayed there much longer. I had a terrible job to get him down to the station. The first difficulty was to get him away from the fire zone. We had to go slowly, and I expected we would both be riddled, but, by some good fortune, we got over the ridge without mishap. The poor chap was in such pain that he could not bear to keep still. It took me quite four hours to get him to the dressing station, and as soon as I had my shoulder dressed, which by good luck was not seriously hurt, I got to work with a party taking ammunition to the firing line, first unloading it from a barge under a continual fire of shrapnel, then taking it up the hill to the firing line – a terribly heavy task. Needless to say, I was greatly worried about Edgar all this time. I never expected to see him again; it seemed impossible for men to live for long under the fire our chaps were exposed to unless they got well dug in. About mid-night two of us were struggling up the hill with a box of ammunition, nearly fainting with exhaustion, for we had not eaten a bite since 3 o’clock the previous morning, and we were both wondering what had befallen our brothers, for, strange to say, he had a brother in the firing line somewhere, too.
When we reached the firing line the first man to come out was my mate’s brother, and while we were talking someone came out of the trench and asked if Fred Symonds was there, and to my joy, the second-comer was Edgar. It seemed strange that two of us should meet our brothers at the same time and place, when everyone had been mixed up so completely. After we came back we had a rest for an hour before going up to support the line. The beach is an awful sight; our men must be getting terribly butchered. All the fleet boats are waiting near the beach expecting a retreat to the boats, but judging from the spirit of our men there will be very few retiring. The beach is lined from end to end with wounded.
26th – I got up to the firing line before dawn. Had to get in with the 14th Battalion, could not find our crowd; feel terribly exhausted, and don’t know how our men can hold the line, it is so weak and broken, but they are wonderful. Food is out of the question; may have to go a week on 24 hours’ rations and water. Our firing position here is on the top of a steep incline, almost perpendicular, and if one gets hit he has a chance of rolling down to the gully, a distance of about 200 feet or so. We are in a pretty warm quarter; the fighting is very fierce. The trouble is we can’t see much of the enemy on account of the dense scrub. I notice the warships are giving us more help to-day. The Queen Elizabeth is sending some 15 inch shells into the Turks. They make a terrible mess of things. If they land anywhere near us they shake the whole hill. Some more men came up this afternoon; we need more still. The stretcher-bearers are absolutely unable to cope with the casualties; some of the wounded have been lying out for 24 hours, and may be here for another 24 hours by the look of things. If they would only get some more men up here a few of us could help the wounded till dark, which would be a great help. Went on stretcher-bearing this afternoon; a cry came up for spare men to volunteer, as a whole line of men had been enfiladed by an enemy machine gun, and were lying under fire. It was frightful work getting the poor fellows down those hills; it took five men in some cases to get one wounded man out, and a lot of the bearers are being shot; we have lost 10 out of 40 already. Went back to the firing line at dusk in case of danger. There are a great number of Turks, but they seem to be frightened to attack us in a body. They keep sniping, and creep up through the bushes. There are a lot of snipers in behind our lines picking off the men from behind, but its impossible to find them, and they must be dressing in uniforms taken from our dead men. We had a lot of casualties to-day; feel terribly weary; don’t know what keeps us going, excitement, I suppose. Have seen some terrible sights; we must all be savages.
27th – Went on stretcher-bearing again today, as I had not a very good position in the firing line. Came across some of the 5th Battalion fellows; they are gradually picking one another up; will join them as soon as work eases off here. There are a lot of snipers behind our lines. We caught several today, but there must be lots more. Want food badly; half a biscuit and water, if you are lucky, for a meal, and a little salt meat once a day. They are gradually getting reinforcements up, and our firing line is getting stronger, but the men are getting weaker.
28th – Still working with stretcher bearers. We have more reinforcements coming up. I hear we need them, as we are now fighting 5 or 6 to 1. Our casualties must be very heavy, but I think the Turks are losing more. Our boys stand the strain wonderfully. Biscuits and water today; wish they could give us a hot drink. Landed a lot of troops to-night. Saw one man with his face blown off; it’s nothing to see them blown to pieces. Some of the bullets make a terrible wound; they explode inside, and in some cases take the top off a man’s head, and the limbs get terribly shattered. Joined our company to-night, and hear they suffered terribly.
29th – The fleet is making a terrible noise, and I suppose they are making things hum, but we can’t see the damage they do. Our artillery is doing some work now, and should be a great help to us. The Indian mountain batteries are great; I don't know what we would have done without them. The Indian soldiers are very cool under fire. I think at present we have the enemy beaten; am taking a day's rest, and had my first cup of tea – never enjoyed anything so much – and a little bacon, or, I forgot, I did have a drink of tea in the other gully, and, if I remember rightly, a piece of bacon. About [censored] troops arrived to give us a spell, thank God; we all look haggard and overworked; the strain has told terribly. Slept with MacQueen to-night in a good “possy.” We have been digging “possies” in a fresh place to-day, near the right flank; were sorry to leave the other “possy”, as it was so cosy. Fatigue work; carrying in kits from the gullies and drawing rations. Heard of McIllwraith’s death, and Vines seriously wounded; we don’t know who is dead yet. Some more may turn up, but lots missing; about 30 per cent of casualties in our company, I think. I believe the 7th and 10th Battalions were badly hit; hope Inglewood boys are alright.
May 1st – Fatigues again to-day, bringing up stores from our old position. Plenty of shrapnel about; nine of our men were wounded and two killed while digging a communication trench this morning; lucky for me I was not one picked for the job. The fleet is doing some very heavy firing this afternoon; can see all the ships from our “possy;” looks well. They use searchlights all night. I notice the enemy has not been giving us so much shrapnel since the fleet has been pumping it in hard. Message of congratulations from Lord Kitchener. We have done our job so far, and it has been a very hard one. Hope to go for a bathe this afternoon; have not had my clothes off yet, as far as I can remember, since landing; feel frowsy. I suppose it will mean sleeping in our kit for months to come. We deepened our “possy” last night, because the shells are coming from all quarters, it seems. I expect we will be moving soon; we are always in readiness to go at a moment’s notice. I hope tomorrow will be more like Sunday than the last; would like to go to a service. We feel much better for the change, though they don’t give us any rest.
2nd – Just a week since that awful day. I often wonder if we’ll have such another awful day; hope not. To-day has been quiet; only shrapnel, but our dug-outs are good. We were called out to haul big guns up to the firing line and carry shells; the horses could not do it, as the tracks are too steep and rough. Just as we got the first gun up to its position the enemy shelled us, and how we came back I don’t know. The shrapnel seemed to be bursting all over us, but only saw one chap hit; had a lot of cover, luckily. We got back for tea, and they wanted me to go out with a party digging a communication trench, but I got out of it; let some of those go who have been resting all day. I believe in fair division of labor, but lots of others don’t. The warships have been doing very heavy firing all day right along the coast. I notice the Queen Elizabeth is sending some of her big shells on to a hill about 10 miles off; they make a terrible mess of things. The reports of the guns roll through the hills and make them tremble. We can see the flare of the heavy guns in the dusk on the other side of the Peninsula towards the south. Some of our men were killed on the beach from shell fire. Would like to bathe, but they won’t let us out of the lines. Nights are chilly, with heavy dew. We are expecting to go to the firing line to-night, but hope we won’t go; acting as reserves at present. We are fortunate in having a good supply of water from the springs in the hills. A lot of our men are suffering from dysentery. Edgar is on the sick list for a day or two with it.
3rd – Went to firing line as supports this morning; have been doing pick and shovel work all day at the artillery post. They don’t give us much to eat. This evening we were making a communication trench under fire, and things were pretty warm during the night. We had to go out in fighting order, as we expected to be called up to the firing line any minute; plenty of shells about. Worked all night, and got to our dug-outs at about 5.30a.m. feeling tired, cold and hungry; had an hour’s rest, then I drew rations and we breakfasted. While we were digging a track for the artillery this morning the enemy gave us some heavy shrapnel fire; one man was hit, and its remarkable how few they got.
4th – Waiting to be relieved for a spell, I hope. Went out digging a communication trench this afternoon; night fairly quiet; only got called out to reinforce firing line once, but nothing of importance doing. McQueen very bad with dysentery, and think he will be sent away.
5th – Fatigues all morning; things are quieter. Mac reported sick and went to hospital. We go to reinforce the 29th Division to-night at Cape Helles, that is, we of the 2nd Brigade only; a choice bit of work, I believe. Troops are coming from Egypt. Got ready to leave in evening. Firing very heavy in our trenches to-night; must be attacked somewhere along the line. We left on trawlers and destroyers and got to mouth of Dardanelles about 6a.m.; fine day.
Krithia (Cape Helles)
6th – Landed about 6a.m. They have had as rough a time here as we did in the landing. We marched to within a mile of their firing line, and made camp. Had the pleasure of watching them make an attack; could see quite easily, as country is clear and flat in most places. The French 75 guns are firing like mad. They are wonderful guns, and the warships are putting in big shells. The Queen Elizabeth is down for the occasion, and we can see her shells bursting on the side of the hill. They seem to cover the place; are supposed to have a killing distance of half a mile from the burst and 50 yards or more wide. The poor devils in the trenches must get cut to mince-meat. We can see the lines slowly going ahead. Shells are bursting in hundreds; don’t see how the Turks can stand it unless they have marvellous trenches. Signaller White got wounded in shoulder while we were disembarking; not serious. We got some dug-outs well down for camping, as the French battery draws a lot of fire; hope we win the day. Edgar and I are in the same dug-out; hope they leave us here for a few days, as it promises to be interesting. There are Tommies, Ghurkas and New Zealanders near us. The Tommies are very good natured, and are much better fed than we are; they give us a lot of perquisites.
We passed some of the forts coming up from the beach; they have been well smashed; walls 8ft. thick with holes in them the size of a house; some more of the Queen Elizabeth’s work. Two of the guns we saw were enormous things, but the shells had smashed all the gear to pieces. The enemy is firing from the other side of the Dardanelles, and our artillery is doing good work. I heard some wounded say that we were driving the Turks back. There is a constant stream of wounded coming back along the track – poor beggars, some with hands off and shattered limbs and faces. I expect those not seriously hurt are glad to be out of it; it’s a fearsome business facing such a hell. I expect we will have to do it in a day or two. Its bound to be a tough job they give us. Our line is supposed to have advanced a few hundred yards to-day; hope they can hold it. I fear the hill will be a long, tough job. Edgar is boiling the billy now, so we will be having tea soon. The big guns are giving it to them like hell, and the rifle fire is getting more distant. They say a lot of our men have gone down.
7th – We gave the enemy a terrible shell fire this morning; don’t see how anyone can stand it. The fleet is giving us great help; the whole of the hill we are attacking is torn with shell fire. I thought at one time the enemy were exploding mines, the smoke was so dense. The big shells from the boats make awful havoc. We expect to be sent forward any time now; they must be having a bad time in the firing line. We talk of the Turk not being a fighter, but he is very tough.
Had a good dinner, and there are prospects of a good night’s rest. I contemplate trying to have a bathe this afternoon, but something is sure to block it. It’s very unpleasant living and sleeping in the same clothes from week to week. They say the French troops are very poor fighters here; they retreat too easily. But we have a fair number of English, Australians and Ghurkas now. More heavy artillery firing this afternoon. Had a good bunk last night; got some bags to sleep on. Think we go up to firing line to-morrow; something doing, anyway.
8th – Advanced to firing line this afternoon. Started to advance about 4 o’clock, and dug in about a mile or more from the line. Had tea; had barely swallowed it when we got orders to get into fighting order, and a few minutes later were advancing in extended order. After we had gone a short distance the shrapnel commenced to come, at first at irregular intervals, and then more steadily, I kept near Edgar as long as possible, but by the time we had made a couple of rushes we were all mixed up. The rifle fire got very warm after a while. We were advancing in a sort of half circle, and were receiving fire on all sides and rear. We advanced over several lines of trenches which had Ghurkas and Tommies in them.
Our men were going down everywhere, but we kept going. It was nothing to take cover behind dead comrades, although such cover is only from sight of enemy, as a man won’t stop a bullet, but it’s wonderful what you’ll cover behind when advancing. The machine gun fire was very hot. We never fired a shot, even after passing the firing line, which half of us did not know was the firing line. Lots of us were carrying picks and shovels to dig in with. We lost a terrible number of men in the advance, and our artillery had to cease fire for a while at the last, as we had advanced right into their fire zone and were receiving some of their shells. There seem to be dead and wounded Australians everywhere. Just before making the last rush, Lieutenant Hamilton, of one of the other companies, asked me to alter his kit for him, and after we went ahead I lost him. He tried to get back to his own lot again, and, I heard later, got badly wounded - shot in the neck, back and thigh; it will take him all his time to pull through.
The country we were advancing over was mostly flat, and very hard to take cover on except where there were trenches. When I got within about 50 yards of where we dug in I saw a Sergeant Fairley, of A. Coy, 5th Battalion, shot in the groin and hand, and he was lying right in an exposed position. The machine gun fire was pretty hot there, so I picked him up and took him back to the nearest bit of cover, about 20 yards, and dressed his wounds as best I could. He was shot through one rump and out just above the groin – a very nasty wound; the poor chap was in great pain. After that I came across so many wounded that I put most of my time in carrying them back to cover. It was their only chance, and the firing line started digging in, so I thought as they were opening fire it was the best thing to do, as I knew there could be no stretcher bearers up probably till the next night.
It was an awful night; wounded were calling for help all around the line, so I got another chap to give me a hand, and we got quite a number down to a likely place for an A.M. C. depot on the creek. Saw Sergeant Walker, of our platoon, about 10 o’clock; he was shot in the lung. I made him as comfortable as I could, and they started a fire fight just after as we were trying to get a big man with a shattered leg in. We had to be down for half-an-hour till the fire died down; the bullets were whistling all round us, some hitting the ground just near but most going overhead, which was just as well, or we would have been riddled. As soon as the fire eased off we got him on my back and I carried him to cover. One poor chap was hit very badly through the lower part of the chest, and was in terrible pain. After we had been at it a few hours I went down to see if I could shake some stretcher-bearers up, but after walking about a mile down the creek I found that they would not let any of them come up – said it was dangerous, and there were all our patients suffering for want of a little proper attention. So I went back to the supports for the rest of the night, as there was no room in the firing line. We were just about 20 yards to the rear of them. It must have been about 10 o’clock when I got back, and I felt done up.
9th – In the morning I had a look round to see if things were quiet, and decided I could do more by getting back to where we left the wounded and seeing if I could do anything for them. I found that the A.M.C. doctor had come up and got some of them away about sunrise, so my trip down to the base did some good. I gave them a hand to dig out a safe place, and helped the bearers to bring in more of the wounded before going back to the trenches, which are overcrowded at present, but I expect they will get them all in soon enough. The casualties are enormous; hope Edgar is safe; must send a note along the line when I get back. There are a few snipers about; it’s wonderful that I have not been hit. Got to firing line after dinner, and found Edgar; he was not far from me, only about 50 yards. Thank God he is alright. We have a lot to be thankful for. Have made “possy” just at end of line; can’t get in the line, no room. Started a big fire fight about 8.30 p.m.; had a fair sleep after things quietened a bit; felt the cold, as had no coat to wear.
10th – Expecting to attack to-night; hope we don’t get mauled like we did in the advance. Trenches very sloppy; it makes a lot of work trying to keep the water out. Had biscuits and oxo for breakfast. I believe the attack is not to be made to-night. Trenches very boggy; one side fell in, and was, of course, my “possy.” Luckily, I just got out of it, as about five tons of earth came in and made a terrible mess. Had a cold, miserable night; went on outpost duty in the creek just in front of our firing line; was relieved at 1 a.m.; had a drink of tea in early morning, also a few biscuits.
11th – Morning quiet. Reported a few white flags showing, but expect it is only a ruse; they’re full of tricks. Our engineers are out making entanglements just in front of our trenches; hope the Turks don’t open fire. Saw Edgar this morning. Carrying ammunition this afternoon; got relieved in trenches about midnight by Lancashire Fusileers. Slept at our old dug-out, about a mile behind firing line; plenty of rum going around, some of the fellows a bit on. Had a warm time on way down from trenches; enemy kept shelling us, and several were hit near me. It’s wonderful how they know our movements; there must be some spies in the crowd.
12th – Rained this morning. Got down to beach with Edgar and had dinner with some of the Tommies, who are very good natured and much better fed than our fellows. After dinner we joined our crowd and dug in about half a mile from the beach. The enemy are dropping a lot of shells about, but they are not doing much damage. We have a very snug “possy,” with a couple of waterproofs over it for a roof; hope they give us a decent spell. We are quite close to the French batteries, which make a terrible noise.
13th – Deepened our “possy” as the shrapnel is getting a bit hot. We went for a bathe this afternoon, and it was grand to feel clean for a few hours. We have not had our things off for over a fortnight. They seem to be letting the Australians do the tough jobs. Some of the other troops are very poor fighters; of course, the regulars are alright, but the French are making an amusing show here. While they advance they hold their packs up in front of them, and are far more ready to retreat than anyone else. At the rate they are going, there won’t be many of our fellows left soon; we have had a large percent of casualties already, which is far too heavy; in fact, some say it is -- per cent -- over -- in one brigade of -- men in all, including transports and everything. I expect the next job they’ll give us will be to take the hill, which is said to be almost impregnable, and is mined from end to end. It’s a pity they can’t get others to face it.
15th – Fine, but some clouds showing up; hope it does not rain. Edgar sent a letter home to day, but I did not bother writing as we are not allowed to give any news. I wonder when we will be taken back to Gaba Tepe. The enemy have just been giving us a lively time with shrapnel. They had an artillery duel with the French battery, and it was hot while it lasted, but most of the enemy shells landed round our camp; the French battery is too well concealed; only a couple of men hit and a horse killed, as far as I know. Went to French camp in village at the fortress after dinner, on the point known as Saddel Bahn. It gave us a good idea of the damage artillery can do; not one house is complete, and in the fortress shells have torn great holes in walls 8ft thick. They have one of the French hospitals there. Couple of German fliers overhead to-day. Expect we will get a lively time to-morrow.
Return to Anzac
16th – As I expected, they are giving us rats; it’s a good thing we dug well in. Left for Gaba tepe after dinner, and slept on board all night; landed 7 a.m.; pitched camp in one of the gullies, and they are giving us plenty of shrapnel.
18th – Had a fair night’s rest. Very heavy shell fire, and had some close calls. Enemy attacked our trenches last night, in the early morning, and at daylight, but were repulsed with heavy losses. We have to sleep in fighting order.
19th – Went out on fatigues at 4.30 a.m., but could not do much, as the shrapnel was so heavy; one or two got hit. Got back at 10 a.m.; hope to get a rest, as we had no sleep last night. They are giving our men a rough time on the beach; a lot of wounded taken down this morning. Went to support trenches for the night as picket coy, but they did not attack; must have had enough in the three attacks we repulsed this morning.
20th – Got back to camp at daybreak after a cool night behind trenches. We can hear heavy firing from the Cape; must be an attack there. Weather fine; will be glad of a good sleep if we can get it. Nearly all our officers are out of action or killed; we want re-organising badly. I hear that the Turks were heavily reinforced before the attack, and they advanced in thousands, in some places ten deep. The machine guns shot them down in thousands. There must be a tremendous number dead in front of our trenches; don’t know how we will get on if they are not buried soon. Our fellows are very cool; some even sit on the parapet to get good aim, and a great number got outside the trench altogether and laid down in front of the parapet – it made a terribly strong fire. There is more talk that the Turkish officers are mutinying. Saw F. Yorath this morning. Hope Windsor and others are alright. Heard the other day that Fred and Rolun Adams, of Mildura, whom I know well, were killed and missing respectively since the first Sunday, so looks like both dead. Terribly hard for their parents, as they are the only two boys in the family. I feel set up over it, as they were such decent chaps. The enemy is very strong; they far exceed us in numbers. Our men are looking fagged out. I feel quite ill sometimes.
21st – Spent last night in the gully in anticipation of an attack, but we did not do much except dodge shrapnel. It was cool out, and I had no coat; got to our new dug-outs, which we occupied yesterday, about daybreak. I hear that a division of troops has arrived to relieve us; we expect to go away to re-organise. I hope it’s true; we all need a rest badly. Yesterday they had an armistice to bury the dead, which needed burying; we could smell them down in the gullies – it must have been vile in the trenches. Hope we have a quiet day.
22nd – Inlying picket last night; went to support trenches, but nothing doing. Am bad with dysentery; makes me feel fagged and weak; we all have it more or less, and the rations are very rotten; they are feeding us badly. Raining this morning, but weather cleared this afternoon, and there are prospects of a sleep to-night.
23rd – There is talk of us going to Lemnos to spell, but I expect it will blow over like the other. All the Light Horse arrived from Egypt. Hope for a quiet day. Our officers are getting short in number, and they are making a lot of new ones. Had voluntary church parade this morning at the 6th Battalion camp; Captain Dexter held the service, and most of us went. Spent the afternoon out of my clothes to give them an airing. We are not allowed water for washing, only enough for drinking purposes. Went out trench digging all night.
24th – Got back early this morning, and on fatigues, etc, and digging communication trenches. Had an armistice for burying the dead. Heard that W. Rochester was wounded at the Cape while we were there – shot in the chest, stomach and thigh, I believe. Hope he gets through alright. The two Parkers are alright – they were hit the first day; one pretty badly in the shoulder. Hope not called out to-night. Inlying picket.
25th – Called out at 3 a.m., but nothing doing. Rifle inspection at 10 a.m. Raining, and things got a bit wet. I heard a great explosion last night, and it turned out to be the Triumph, which was torpedoed. A couple of enemy submarines about. She was sunk in deep water off our coast, and will be a great loss to us. It seems as though luck is not with us.
26th – On wood fatigue this morning. Things are quiet. Went into trenches this afternoon for three nights and days on Brown’s Hill, which commands the gully behind Quinn’s Post, where the line is broken and where the enemy frequently make night attacks, to their cost. General Walker arrived a few days ago to take over the work of General Bridges, who died recently. Heard this evening that the Majestic has also been sunk by a torpedo at Cape Helles.
27th – Had a cool night, as usual, and they did not tell us to bring our blankets or anything. The more I think of it, the more incompetent I think our leaders are, especially when I think of the casualties. Perhaps General Walker will be able to alter that, but I don’t think Bridges was responsible. Got blankets this afternoon. Have a hunt through our clothes every day. Think the blankets and dug-outs must be alive.
28th – Had a good night; nothing much doing. Some reinforcements arrived to-day. I heard that the Australians had over 10,000 casualties to date; it can’t be less. Got three letters to-day – the first but one since landing. We are having lovely weather, and the Turks are not giving us much trouble at present. We are holding on till the Cape Helles crowd come up, and then advance, I think. There will be enough excitement when that comes. I hope the Turks do a lot of attacking in the meantime, as it will mean all the less to kill then, but I think they are getting tired of making attacks, they are so costly, and the last few have taken quite a lot of starch out of them.
29th – Enemy made an attack last night, blew up part of our trenches and took that portion, but our boys re-took it almost at once. The Turks lost a lot of men. I hear rumors of another attack to-night. I don’t know how we get the news, but think they tap the telephone wires. The attack is to be made en mass. The [censored] was torpedoed to-day. I hear that’s the third battleship recently; looks bad, hope they get the submarines. All the destroyers are working between here and Lemnos at full speed; hope they do some good. It is amusing reading the papers and letters published about how one feels under fire for the first time. My experience was at the start a desire to overcome fear, and after we got moving I felt alright. The half-hour before we start is the worst part of it to me; when I am going I don’t feel anything except a desire to act as quickly as possible. I felt worried about Edgar more than anything; it is a mistake to have a brother with you, I think. But, strange to say, I felt all through as though we were both coming through alright. Its wonderful what a help a man’s religion is in such cases; it brings it home to one as nothing else can. Were relieved at 5.30p.m.; suppose it means more fatigues.
30th – Church parade in morning and fatigue after dinner. They are evidently going to attack our lines, as they are shelling very hard and the rifle fire is brisk. We are used to their attacks now, which generally cost them dear. I noticed one shell landed almost on the battalion headquarters. They are trying hard to find our artillery, and are shelling our trenches with shrapnel. Heard this morning that submarine [censored] got into the Narrows and sunk two enemy transports loaded with ammunition. It will be a great loss to them, and they sank three other transports besides; not known if they had troops on or not. I have to go with some others to B. Coy. to join inlying picket to-night, as they can’t make up the number. Kept busy all the afternoon.
31st – On fatigues all day and inlying picket last night. Was digging trenches this evening till 9 o’clock, then inlying picket again. They don’t give us any rest at all. Quiet day in firing line. I heard that on Sunday night the Turks blew up one of our trenches and captured it and the support trench for a time, but our boys charged them with the bayonet and won it back, the enemy losing heavily. I believe that the enemy lost 2,900 on Sunday during attacks on our lines – that is, killed. The destroyers are busy this afternoon – got wind of a submarine, but did not get it, worse luck.
June 1st – On fatigues and inlying picket; things quiet.
2nd – Went for swim this morning. I suppose we will have fatigues all afternoon. Heard at the beach that there are [censored] troops at Lemnos; hope its true. Easy afternoon; things quiet.
3rd – Quiet day; enemy doing very little firing. Reported our boats got supply ships to enemy submarines; heard that submarines had been taken; too, but I doubt it. Our warships are pounding away again this afternoon; its good to hear them, and must be discomforting to the Turks. Going into trenches again this afternoon. Hear that the boats are shelling villages a couple of miles away, because there are troops there; expect there will be an attack soon, if that’s the case.
4th – Got back about 6a.m. after quiet night. They are doing something at the Cape, as we can hear the tremendous fire like a continuous roll of thunder. Expect they are trying to take the hill; there is some talk of them blowing it up with [censored] tons of guncotton. It must be a very tough job. The Germans say it is impregnable, but I think they will find their mistake before we finish. Its slow work, and we want lots more troops, but when they come we should do it. There has not been a break in the thunder of the big guns all day.
5th – Went on main guard at 9a.m. for 24 hours; fine and quiet.
6th – Attacked at Turkish trench on right on Friday night and took it, I hear, but had to abandon it later. Hear that Turks are having a hard time – 100,000 wounded at Constantinople. The general impression is that this job will be taking a decisive turn soon; I hope so. The people are supposed to be leaving Constantinople in hundreds. One of our submarines did more damage in the Narrows. They say the Turk has a horror of the Australians. Went to church parade after coming off guard; have cold in my head.
7th – Going to supports to-night. A good lot of shrapnel came over this morning. Our crowd seems always in for the duty end of the stick.
8th – Got back from trenches at sunrise. I got out with woodcutting party at 1p.m. Hear that Italy has declared war; hope its true, and that it hastens the end. Finished woodcutting at 6p.m. Edgar is on a digging party, and is working till midnight. They have to carry fighting order and 200 rounds of ammunition; they are working us to death. Some of the men are looking wrecks, and the food is bad.
9th – On woodcutting, and later with engineer in trenches and supports making sleeping places; back at 6p.m.; nothing much doing.
10th – Working all day with engineers behind firing line. We go into firing line to-morrow for a while, probably till we move from here. Saw about 200 Turks near our trenches at Quinn’s Post this morning that had been shot the other night in an attack by one of our machine guns.
11th – Went into firing line this evening; on fatigues all morning. Edgar is on observation work.
12th – Had very quiet night. Very poor breakfast – only two biscuits each. Very heavy shrapnel fire from enemy this morning right over our trenches; did a little damage, but no one in our company hit yet. Saw four killed and one wounded by shrapnel about 20 yards away. They appeared to have just come out of the firing line for some reason; they would belong to the 4th Battalion, I should say. It’s a wonder they don’t get a lot more than they do; we all have some close calls at times. Wish it was all over – war is a terrible business.
13th – Quiet day; went on duty at 6 for 48 hours’ observation. We have to work double shifts now on account of the shortage of men. I am on No. 2 post in firing line. Dysentery bad, so are the flies.
14th – On observation duty.
15th – On observation duty. Our trenches got knocked about by enemy shells this morning, but no one was hit; plenty of dirt flying about. Got relieved by 13th platoon for three days. Just got orders to stand to all night; enemy must be going to attack. Got no sleep.
16th – Had fair night; very bad with dysentery, so is Edgar. I can’t eat the food; feeling weak and ill, and could not do fatigues, and no good reporting to the doctor, as he only gives pills. Very heavy shell fire this afternoon; eight killed and ten wounded in our trenches. Two of them, poor chaps, were taken out in little pieces which took a lot of finding in the dirt they were mixed up with; nearly all of them were buried.
17th – Had fair night, though there was a lot of bomb-throwing on the left. More big shells to-day. One nearly smothered us with dirt. Dysentery a little better, but very weak; I collapsed last night on my way back, and some fellows had to help me to my bunk. Nearly everyone is bad more or less, and barcoo rot is spreading. I have it pretty badly. If they don’t give us a change soon we will all be down.
18th – Going into firing line again to-day. On fatigues, and don’t go into firing line till to-morrow. Corporal Cole shot through head this morning and died almost immediately. Was only 21 years of age.
19th – Went to firing line 10a.m. Am not on first shift.
20th – Still in firing line. Had a lot of “hurry up” to-night. Something doing at the sniper’s trench; had a bit of a fire fight.
21st – On observation duty; nothing much doing.
22nd – Still on observation duty; got relieved for to-night. Want a sleep badly.
23rd – Go on duty again at 7p.m. with Edgar. Things quiet. The Turks are doing a lot of digging and making new trenches close to ours. We may be able to blow up a few of them later on; both sides are busy sapping and mining; can hear them working under parts of our trenches; hope they don’t blow us up first.
24th – Still on observation duty. Very bad with dysentery again.
25th – Got relieved at 10a.m. by 15th Platoon; will be in again in three days. Suppose will be getting plenty of fatigues while in the supports. The Lord Nelson and five destroyers came up this afternoon to Gabe Tepe and bombarded a magazine and store, and succeeded in destroying them.
26th – Went to beach this afternoon. Shrapnel heavy, and saw bunch of men in swimming get hit by two shells, which landed right amongst them; must have caught a lot.
27th – Turks made feeble attack early this morning, but only a few came out. They are afraid of our fire, and I don’t wonder at it, as every time they attack they lose enormously. I expect we will get a taste of it before long again. On fatigues, and went to church this evening behind trenches, and enjoyed service.
28th – Went to firing line again at 10a.m. for six days. Am on observation duty with Edgar. Had a lot of rifle fire this afternoon. Some of their shells hit our parapet, and one buried seven of our men just a few yards from us. Six of them went to hospital, but, strange to say, none were killed – a very lucky escape. Had another fire demonstration to-night, and sang a few choruses to keep the Turks awake. Part of our line on the right flank made an attack, emptied the enemy’s trenches and returned; had about 120 casualties. It is all done to keep them from sending help to the Cape, where the Tommies are making an attack.
29th – Still on duty, but have a spell of 24 hours to-morrow. Enemy made an attack at Quinn’s Post, and lost about 250 dead. Our artillery played the deuce with them. We had a duet and thunderstorm when the enemy made the attack – suppose they thought the dark would hide them. Enemy were reinforced today, and we had a very heavy fusillade. I was on observation duty with Edgar at the time. Our casualties were comparatively light, I believe. We are supposed to have made an advance at Cape Helles.
30th – Relieved at 8a.m. for a 24 hours’ spell. Rumors of a spell for a week at Imbros, but suppose it will end in smoke, like the other. Imbros is about 14 miles away from the shore. Very heavy gun fire at Cape all day and night. The Turks must be having a rough time of it. We had a thunderstorm to-night at 9.30, and very vivid lightning, and the enemy got uneasy and did a lot of firing. Had a fair night after the storm passed over.