Diary No.2 covers the period from Sunday 4 April 1915 to Monday 21 June 1915
The period covered by this diary centres on the Dardenelles Campaign, an attempt to seize control of the Dardenelles, the narrow sea passage joining the Mediterranean
to the Sea of Mamara and Istanbul, the capital of Turkey. Turkey was an
ally of Germany, and the area was crucial to the supply of oil to
Part of the campaign was a series of planned landings
on the beaches of the Gallipoli peninsula by the joint forces of
Britain, France and Australia/New Zealand. The peninsula guarded the
Northern shore of the entrance to the Dardenelles. The British forces
landed at Helles at the tip of the peninsula. The Australian/New
Zealand forces landed at a small cove on the Aegean coast on the North
of the peninsula. This area became known as Anzac Cove. The French
made a diversionary landing on the Asiatic side of the entrance, before
joining the British at the Helles sector.
Wherever possible a brief resume of the personal details of the
individual soldiers mentioned in the diaries is given. This includes
their age at the time of enlistment, which, for the soldiers mentioned
in this diary, was August-October 1914.
Unless they had been killed or invalided out early as medically unfit
many will be found to have returned to Australia in October-November
1918. This was under the provisions of the 'Special 1914 Leave', long
leave back in Australia given to those who enlisted in 1914. By the
time these men reached Australia the war was over, so they never, in
fact, had to return to active service.
The Diary Entries
4 April 1915 T S Mashobra = Troopship Mashobra. 'Mashobra' is a town in India.
The 2nd Field Ambulance, including horses and wagons, embarked on
the 'Mashobra', a 8236 ton transport ship, built in 1913. An Australian
Army Service Company and the 2nd Field Engineers were also on board.
The Mashobra was later sunk by a submarine in April 1917. Hal's
'Garibaldy shirt' was a style named after the Italian Patriot, Guiseppe
Garibaldi. It was collarless, and was probably khaki, although the
original ones were red. A brassard was a sleeve or arm badge. Replacing
the lost Pay Book caused hassle in the future.
6 April 'Hucklebury Finn' by Mark Twain.
8 April Arrived at Mudros Bay, Isle of Lemnos, where all the ships were meeting up.
During the period at Mudros Bay the troops practised disembarking
by nets or rope ladders from the troopships onto small boats, rowing,
and finally wading ashore.
10 April ASC = Army Service Corps.
Pte Len Bagley (41) had been one of the participants in the
hashish smoking experiment on 25 January. Mac = Miles McCabe. Hal must
have been pretty athletic to manage the climb up a 100 ft. high wire
cable mast-stay. Also see 17 April.
16 April Greek money. 100 Lapta = one Drachma.
18 April Lt. Gen Sir William Birdwood was the General Officer commanding the ANZAC forces.
19 April Bad weather delayed the Gallipoli landing, so this 'disembarkation' was probably another practice run.
20 April Having
had various items stolen on 5 April, and lost his purse on 13 April,
Hal could probably ill-afford to now lose his money-belt. To paraphrase
Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's 'The Importance of Being Ernest', I can
almost hear Dame Edith Evans saying 'To lose one item, Private Winters,
may be regarded as misfortune; to lose several looks like carelessness'.
Hal appears to have spent the next couple of days sewing a new money belt.
24 April The Mashobra moved to the final rendezvous area.
By 5 a.m. on Sunday 25 April 1915 the Mashobra reached Gallipoli,
and anchored off Gabe Tepe. The plan was that the
stretcher-bearers, who would collect the wounded, would land first, to
be followed by the Tent Division who would set up Dressing Stations and
Emergency Operating Theatres, and finally the Transport Division with
horse-drawn wagons and Ambulances.
hot breakfast of curry and rice was served, and then the men who were
taking part in the initial landing were transferred onto the TBD
'Foxhound'. Wounds and Scars says this took place at 6 a.m. but Hal
says 'our boys got aboard a destroyer at 7 a.m.'. 'Our Boys' consisted
of the three Bearer Sub-divisions and three doctors - a total of 113
men. They had only 32 stretchers with them, no splints, and very
limited medical supplies.
the Foxhound they were transferred again into small boats, and then
towed and rowed to land at Anzac Cove about 6.30 - 7.00 a.m., towards
the end of the second wave of landings. They immediately went into
action, evacuating the wounded down Shrapnel Gully and back to Anzac
Meanwhile the Mashobra was moved out of the danger zone and anchored about ten miles away, near the Isle of Imbros.
26 and 27 April
Those aboard the Mashobra were frustrated at still not having got
ashore, and desperate for news. Hal was particularly concerned about
Frank (Green) and his mates in the 'Society of Ones' (see 15
April). On 27 April Hal makes the first specific mention that he is in
the Tent Sub-division.
28 April The Mashobra returned to Lemnos to pick up essential medical stores and equipment, and then returned to ANZAC.
Thomas Swaby (221) was an iron-moulder aged 20 from Essendon. He stayed
with the 2nd Field Ambulance as a Driver until he returned to Australia
in October 1918. Previously mentioned 25 February.
'Helios' = signalling using lights or reflective mirrors. The
Mashobra opened as a temporary hospital ship, which despite having
horses on board was clean, unlike some of the other troop ships which
were pressed into service to take the wounded from Gallipoli. These
ships were known as 'Black Ships', and unlike the proper hospital
ships which were painted white with a red cross, were not protected
under the Geneva Convention.
Balcombe Quick (1883-1969) had earlier served with Lt. Col Sturdee as a
doctor in the 16th Field Ambulance. Hal worked in the operating
theatre, where the four doctors on board worked right through the first
two nights. Hal recorded that he himself had one hours sleep.
rumour that five of the Unit's Stretcher-bearers had been been killed
was incorrect, although one, Pte Thomas Webster (232) was killed on 28
April. He was a 35 year-old dentist, who had brought his own
instruments with him. As there was initially no dedicated Dental Unit
in Egypt he had treated many soldiers there.
30 April '200 of our troops killed' - so far I haven't found any confirmation of this incident.
was now working on a ward with mostly head and abdominal injuries,
which tended to be the most serious type. A man with a similar injury
to the one Hal refers to in code is mentioned in Wounds and Scars. Also
mentioned is the removal or covering of the Red Cross insignia by the
By now there were 404 wounded men on board, crammed into every space, and Lt. Col Sturdee decided they could take no more.
1-3 May 1915
The Mashobra sailed for Alexandria at 8 a.m. on 1st May, which it
reached 2 1/2 days later. The three Tent Sub-divisions combined were
designed to initially deal with 150 ill and wounded, and pass them on
quickly to proper hospital facilities. There were 400 wounded on board
the Mashobra, in make-shift working conditions, with many of them very
seriously wounded indeed. Some of them would have been wounded on the
first few days after the landing, and then been waiting a day or two at
Anzac Cove to be evacuated, and by the time they eventually reached
hospital in Cairo nearly a week would have elapsed.
doctors and Nursing Orderlies of the Tent Division were flat out the
whole time with very little sleep. No wonder Hal found it difficult to
remember Sunday (2 May).
15 men died during the voyage back to Alexandria, and were buried at sea.
Hilliers is mentioned again in a later diary when Hal was talking to
some N.Z. soldiers, and they identified him as the sergeant who had
'lost his memory'. I wonder what eventually happened to the money-belt.
At the back of the diary is a piece of paper which looks as though it
has been torn off the flap of an envelope. It is endorsed 'High
Commission for New Zealand', so maybe Hal had been in touch with the
High Commission about it. (see Nov 1915).
U.S.B.S. = United States Battle Ship.
All the wounded were unloaded at Alexandria by mid-day on the 4th May.
not clear where the 'tea and cakes' came from, but the contrast between
their normalcy and the hell left behind at Gallipoli and the last few
days on the Mashobra could hardly be greater.
The Mashobra pulled into a new berth at Alexandria, and, since
the terrain at Gallipoli had proved unsuitable for their use, the
Transport Division with their horses and ambulances were unloaded. A
large number of natives were then employed to clean and disinfect the
= Pte. Edwin D. S. Hopkins (127), mentioned several times in the
diaries. He was a 19 year-old salesman from Ballarat, who stayed with
the Field Ambulance Service thoughout the war. He was promoted to
Sergeant, awarded the Military Medal in France in 1917, and returned to
Australia in October 1918.
- Otello Vescia - Hal became
very friendly with Otello, and kept in touch with the family by letter.
- Sgt. Euler Gladstone Gray (8), 28 year-old plasterer from
Prahran. He was admitted to hospital in August 1915, and later served
in France. Returned to Australia in October 1918.
- Cpl. Ernest Laycock (244),
25 year-old plasterer born in England. Serious gun-shot wound at
Gallipoli in June 1915, and sent to hospital in England. Returned to
Australia in April 1918, medically unfit.
- Sgt. Dispenser Leslie
Clarence Hall (6), aged 23, a pharmacist from Ballarat. Served in
Gallipoli and France. Promoted Staff-Sgt. January 1917. His diaries are
quoted in Wounds and Scars, and formed the basis of a series of
articles published in the Melbourne Herald Sun in April 2000. He
returned to Australia in October 1918.
- Sgt. Arthur W. H. Stallwood
(4), 29 yr-old bank clerk from Ballarat, born in England. Evacuated
from Gallipoli with dysentry. Promoted W.O. in Pay Corp. Returned to
Australia in July 1918, medically unfit.
- 'Wilkie' -
probably Pte. Herbert B. Wilkinson (235), a 35 yr-old Surgical
Dresser born Dublin. Evacuated from Gallipoli with dysentry, and later
wounded in France. Awarded MS Medal in June 1918 and promoted Staff
Sgt. Returned to Australia October 1918. - Eddie = Eddie Hopkins (127).
'Scripsimus' = Latin for 'we wrote'.
28 1/2 PT = 28 1/2 Piastres = nearly 6/- = three days pay.
'a boat due to sail at 8 pm' - Hal must mean 8 a.m. the next morning.
The Mashobra with four doctors and 59 members of the Tent
Sub-division left Alexandria to return to Anzac to collect more
casualties. Wounds and Scars saya 'Lt Col. Sturdee experienced a level
of frustration at being forced to remain aboard the Mashobra with his
men, rather than establishing facilities ashore, a situation caused by
the lack of hospital ships to treat the wounded and sick'.
'Sinking of Lusitania' - The Lusitania was a large British
passenger liner sunk by a German submarine on 7 May 1915. The heavy
loss of life, including 128 Americans, hastened America's entry into
WW1. 'Hospital ashore' - At the end of April the 2nd
Field Ambulance established a small dressing station/hospital at
Brighton Beach, from where the wounded were taken to Anzac Cove for
evacuation. It was badly damaged on 10 May.
Jock Hunter = Cpl. John William Hunter (132), a 34
yr-old Driver from South Yarra. Later promoted Sgt., he suffered
asthma, severe bronchitis and pneumonia and was evacuated from
Gallipoli, later serving in France. Returned to Australia medically
unfit in 1916. This 'Jock' might possibly be the previously
unidentified 'Jock' who was one of the group who set out from
Mena Camp to visit Shubra on 25 January.
It is difficult to work out from Hal's diary alone just what ship
he was on over the next few weeks. Wounds and Scars states that on 12
May the Tent Division transferred from the Mashobra and ended up on the
Seang Choon, another of the 'Black Ships'. The facilities on board were
not as good as on the Mashobra and Captain Quick described it as
'filthy dirty'. However, Hal thought the food was better. Hal makes no
mention of his hospital duties aboard the Seang Choon, but they must
have continued as casualties were brought on board over the next six
days. By 18 May there was a full complement of 450 ill and wounded.
Wounds and Scars indicates that the casualties on this ship were not as
serious as those who had been aboard the Mashobra, and they were taken
to Lemnos rather than Alexandria
15 May 'Talk with Mat Bronwyn(?)' - identity untraced, and the surname is practically indecipherable.
19 May QM's Fat = Quarter-master's fatigue.
20-24 May Apart
from carrying wounded on 20 May, Hal seems to have spent this period on
board the Seang Choon doing little but swimming in Mudros Bay.
25 May The Tent Division under Lt Col Sturdee again changed ships, this time boarding the Franconia, a passenger liner.
27 May The 'march' was described by Sgt. Gray as a 'farce'.
"Clacton Party' - The Clacton was a trawler being
used as a troop ship. Don't know the significance of 'the Clacton
Party', but Hal himself got aboard the Clacton the following day.
Went ashore to Mudros. Major Shaw = Charles G Shaw (1885-1967), a
doctor who served with Lt Col Sturdee in the 16th Field Ambulance. Captain Balcombe Quick - previously mentioned performing operations on 29 April.
The 60 or so members of the 2nd Field Ambulance Tent Division,
including Hal, finally arrived ashore at Gallipoli, where they met up
with the unit's bearers at Brighton Beach. Frank = Frank Green, his friend and frequent companion on excursions from Mena Camp. Ray Thornton (334) his friend and frequent companion on excursions from Mena Camp, was wounded in the lung on 27 May.
1 June 1915
Pte Ernest Stableford (282), a 35 yr-old butcher, born in
England. Evacuated from Gallipoli in June with debility and dysentry.
Returned to Australia in 1916, medically unfit.
Pte Charles Matthews (163), a 21 yr-old warehouseman, born in
England. Seriously wounded at Gallipoli and evacuated to England. He
rejoined unit, but returned to Australia in 1917 after suffering
The small Dressing Station/Hospital at Brighton Beach was in a
dug-out, and from early June the unit extended it by building a series
of dug-outs 12ft X 12ft each capable of holding 20 patients. Although
there were no major military operations in June there was a continuous
stream of casualties and the sick through the dressing station.
'big gun into position at Kaba Tepe'. The Turkish guns at Gaba
Tepe caused a lot of problems to the unit. Many of the injuries they
treated were from shrapnel rather than bullets. The guns also
interupted their swimming, which may sound unimportant, but in fact
swimming was the only means of washing themselves and attempting to get
rid of their lice. Wounds and Scars reports that 'everyone was lousy,
including the C.O.' The Turkish guns were given nicknames e.g.
Beachy Bill, Weary Willie, Asiatic Annie or Farting Annie (located at
Anafartalar). There is a sketch of a gun on the back page of diary 2.
11 June Miles = Miles McCabe.
Thompson = Bugler Albert Thompson (250). Previously mentioned in
October 1914. Evacuated from Gallipoli after shell wound to thigh.
Later served in France and returned to Australia in October 1918.
issued' - this was the first bread the troops had had since landing
seven weeks earlier. This was in contrast to the French, who had bread
within two days of landing.
- 'Barrels of wine' - Wounds and Scars says the
wine was from the HMS Triumph which had been sunk on 25 May by a German
submarine. Sap = a communication tunnel or trench.
Pte Benjamin Densley (82). Aged 25, a skilled labourer born in
Tasmania. He suffered gun-shot wounds to the head, and died the
following day on board the hospital ship 'Gascon'. He was buried at sea.
'Peninsular Press' was the local army newspaper for the
Dardenelles Campaign. The proposed bomb-throwing competition is
mentioned in several memoirs. I haven't seen any reports as to whether
it actually occured.
The 2nd Field Ambulance started their own
weekly newspaper called 'First Aid Post'. The first issue of the single
sheet paper is dated 16 June. There were nine issues in all, and there
is a set in the Australian War Museum in Canberra. They contain quite a
few tongue-in-cheek short items and in-jokes.
probably Pte. Robert Macdonald (153) a 19 year-old pastry-cook from
Sandford, Vic. He was eventually killed in action at Gallipoli in
20 June Cpl. Ernest Laycock (244). See Thursday 16 May.
Alexander James Chisholm (72). A 20 year-old dentist from South Yarra.
He was eventually evacuated from Gallipoli with pneumonia and later
served in France. He returned to Australia in September 1918. He died
in Athens (possibly in the mid 1960's) whilst on a Gallipoli pilgrimage.