Diary No.3 covers the period from Tuesday 22 June 1915 to 13 December 1916
Inside front cover
'Are it Arbique' - Meaning unknown. Possibly the name
of a ship. 'Ares' was a Roman God of War. 'Arbique' is a
'Heard of Ray'. Hal's friend Ray Thornton was badly wounded on 27
May. He was evacuated from Anzac on the hospital ship 'Dunlace Castle',
but died of his wounds on 2 June. He was buried at Mudros. Hal must
have only now heard of Ray's death.
Lew Solomon = Pte. Louis Solomon (214), a 19 year-old clerk who
was with the Transport Section of the 2nd Field Ambulance. He was
invalided to England with dysentry in September 1915, temporarily
returned to Australia as part of the staff on a hospital ship in
1916/17, and then served in France. He returned to Australia in
Scotty Latimer = Pte. George Edward Latimer (148), an
English-born former hospital attendant. He was killed in action in this
feint attack which was mounted to divert attention from the real attack
at Helles. His next-of-kin (his mother) was never traced. Hal appears to have played an active role in this feint.
Tonkins = Pte. Alfred Alan John Tonkin, a 21 year-old painter from
South Australia. He had previously spent time in hospital at Lemnos
with influenza, and was later wounded in France, where he was promoted
Sergeant. He returned to Australia in October 1918.
2 July 1915
'Paraded sick'. Hal's medical record shows he was treated at the
2nd Field Abulance 'Hospital-cum-dressing station' for diarrhoea.
'Open on G. Fish'. Meaning of 'open' unknown. G.Fish =
Lance Corporal George Melrose Fish (99) a 23 year-old salesman, who
became the 'Pack Store Keeper' at Mudros in September 1915. He served
in France, where he died of wounds in August 1916. His younger brother,
Pte. Charles Vivian Fish (3753) later served with the 2nd Field
Ambulance in France, where he too died of wounds in April 1918. Their
future brother-in-law, Pte. Walter Harold Brentnall (56) also served
with the 2nd Field Ambulance. He was a 19 year-old 'Mechanical
Dentist'. He was evacuated from Anzac with enteritis, and later served
in France where he was wounded. He returned to Australia in 1917,
medically unfit. His daughter lodged various diaries and papers
belonging to her father and the two Fish brothers at the Australian War
Memorial. A transcript of memoirs by George Fish of his experiences as
a stretcher bearer are particularly interesting.
'Thomas hit'. Thomas = Driver Colin Thomas (283/2053) a 21
year-old butcher from Somerville (Mornington). He died of his wounds on
the hospital ship 'Gascon' on the 13 July, and was buried at sea.
20 July Hal's official medical record states he was admitted to hospital, Anzac. The diary makes no mention of this.
21 July 'Mr Thornton' is probably the father of his friend Ray Thornton who died of wounds.
23 July This is the second time Hal reported sick. The official record shows 'Admitted to hospital, Anzac'.
24 July MS = Magnesium Sulphide, which was the medicine prescribed the previous day.
25 July Chambers M.O. = Capt. Ray W. Chambers, one of the original 2nd F.A. doctors.
This was the fourth day of high temperature, and the description
of the journey to Lemnos gives an idea of the conditions still being
suffered by the sick and wounded. The Fleet Sweeper was the ship that
collected up the men to be evacuated from various locations and ships.
The 'English Hospital' is probably the 'Lowland Casualty Clearing
Hospital' at Mudros. The offical record shows this happening on 1st
August - an indication that under front-line conditions such dates may
be inaccurate. It describes him as suffering from diarrhoea.
1 August 1915
Roger Stredwick = Pte. Roger Stredwick (218), a 21 yr-old
dentist. He was evacuated from Gallipoli with 'debility', and later
contracted malaria. He returned to Australia 'medically unfit' in
February 1917. He was one of Hal's companions on the excursion to
Shubra (see 25 Feb) and was referred to as 'Streddy'. His brother,
Sydney, also joined the 2nd FA, and was killed in France in 1916.
"Base" = Alexandria. The general principle was that if the
wound/illness was thought likely to cause a man to be unfit for active
service for just a few days then he was treated at Mudros; if for a
couple of weeks then at 'Base' i.e. Alexandria/Cairo; if for longer
then at Malta or England. Any disability likely to continue for over
three months was returned to Australia for treatment, convalescence or
discharge. This principle was frequently not adhered to.
the next week Hal was shifted around on Lemnos, and never got back to
'Base'. His attempts to get back to Anzac also came to nothing. Both
were due to the shortage of boats. This was a very active period at
Gallipoli, and included the attack on trenches at Lone Pine, and the
futile Horse Brigade charge on the Nek, both with heavy casualties. The
2nd FA Tent Division moved from Brighton Beach and took over the
dressing station at Anzac Cove.
When Hal finally got back to Anzac he found the Tent Division
were no longer at Brighton Beach, but found them at Anzac Cove. The OC
(Officer Commanding = Lt. Col. Sturdee) apparently felt Hal was not yet
fit enough for active service, and sent him back to Brighton Beach
where the 1st F.A. had taken over the Hospital/Dressing Station. The
diagnosis was 'Asthania', which seems to cover the overall weakness and
emaciation following an episode of dysentry.
17 August The official record and Hal's diary both agree he was discharged to active duty on this day.
19 August Miles = Miles McCabe.
The start of another episode of dysentry/diarrhoea. This time the
doctors seem to have tried two types of treatment - the traditional
Bismuth and Clove powders, and the newer Emeline injections. I have by
now read many of the service records of members of the 2nd FA, and the
diagnosis of dysentry or diarrhoea seem to be used interchangeably,
with the resultant Debility/Asthenia also used interchangeably.
no medical laboratories to back them up by analysing samples, the
doctors were unsure whether any particular episode was continuing
Amoebic Dysentry, or the simpler diarrhoea thought to be caused by
unhygienic conditions, poor food, heat, flies and exhaustion.
the cause, it is clear that many of the members of the 2nd FA who had
arrived at Anzac fit young men, were by now reduced to emaciated
weaklings, barely able to walk up to the hospital once they reached
Mudros. The casualty returns for August show that during that month the
2nd FA had two men killed, nine wounded, and 52 evacuated due to
illness (mostly dysentry). They had started with 112 bearers, but were
now down to 50.
Despite having looked 'very well' when Hal saw him on the 19
August, Miles McCabe was now ill and being evacuated to Mudros.
28 August Official record says admitted to hospital at Anzac with debility. Diary says he was sent to Base on board the Devantra.
It appears from the record that, en-route, he was transferred to
the hospital ship Valdivia, stationed at Imbros. The relief at having
at last found good treatment is palpable.
1 September 1915
Don't know what FJPC stands for. PC could be 'Post Card', so
maybe it was one of pre-printed post cards with messages which could be
ticked or crossed out.
It is not clear exactly what happened these days because of
damage to the diary, but at some stage Hal transferred from the
Valdivia to the Huntsend, and sailed for Malta. Malta had become the
major hospital for the wounded and unwell evacuated from the
Dardenelles. It had 20,000 nursing beds and treated over 125,000
Official record says 'Admitrted to hospital Malta, ex Huntsend'.
Diagnosis 'Debility'. The diary says 'MO kindly allowed me to remain' -
exact meaning not clear, but probably Hal persuaded the MO to allow him
to remain on board a hospital ship bound for England, rather than stay
at Malta to convalesce. 'Primrose' and 'Box' not identified. Not
members of 2nd FA.
Unknown to Hal, the remaining members of 2nd FA were withdrawn
from Anzac on this day, and went to Lemnos to recuperate and build up
their strength. They were due to return to Gallipoli, but this plan
was overtaken by the decision to withdraw all Anzac troops in December
The 2nd FA spent the next months stationed in the Suez
Canal area, during which time they were part of a major reorganization.
Experienced units were split up and combined with new reinforcements to
form new units each containing a core of experienced men. The
reorganised 2nd FA went on to France in March 1915, as did many other
former members who now formed part of other Field Ambulance Units.
9 September It is not clear from the diary what ship Hal sailed on from Malta to England.
17 September TBD = Torpedo Boat Destroyer.
19 September Official medical record says 'Admitted 1st Southern General Hospital. Dysentry and Debility.'
The main hospital was located
in the University of Birmingham buildings. Hal was in an Annexe,
formerly the Dudley Rd Infirmary. This is now known as the City
Hospital, and, much altered and modernised, is a major hospital within
the National Health Service. It is located in the Winson Green area to
the West of the city.
In 1915 it probably still
retained its original design, of a single corridor stretching for 1/4
mile, with nine 'Nightingale Ward Blocks' radiating from it along the
length. The 'Nightingale Wards' were based on a design recommended by
Florence Nightingale, with large windows each side to allow light and
cross-ventilation. The beds were arranged in long rows with their heads
to the window walls. A wide aisleway down the middle contained the
Nursing Stations, from which all the beds were visible, and tables and
chairs where the ambulatory patients could have their meals. There was
often an open balcony at the end where the patients could sit outside.
21 September Hal
weighed 12st 8lb (79.8 kilo) when he first arrived in Egypt, up 5lb
(2.3 kilo) since his enlistment. On arrival at the Birmingham hospital
he weighed 9st 3lb (58.8 kilo), a drop of 3st 5lb (21.0 kilo). His
height was 5' 10 1/2'' (179cm), and 58.8 kilo puts him into the
severely underweight Bio Mass Index range. This weight is after three
weeks aboard hospital ships, with rest and better food, so his minimum
weight was probably considerably less.
for B.Esp and BSA catalog'. B.Esp is probably the British Esperanto
Society. BSA is probably the Birmingham Small Arms Company, which at
the time manufactured BSA motorcycles as well as firearms and
ammunition. I wonder which Hal was interested in.
I particularly enjoy the bit about 'the one the nurse likes
best'. Hal was almost certainly a well-mannered, friendly young man,
and with his background in the Field Ambulance was probably quite
helpful around the ward.
tried to identify Mr and Mrs Herbert in the 1911 Census Records
available on-line, but unfortunately Hal no-where mentions Mr Herbert's
forename, and there were a surprising numbers of women called 'Florence
Herbert' in the U.K. - about eight in the general Birmingham area. None
are identifiable as the Florence M. Herbert mentioned in the diary.
'Rotton Park' is a suburb in Birmingham. Google Earth shows that
today Barford Rd has terraces of solid late-Victorian houses along one
side, and the other looks to have been re-developed post WWII, with
semi-detached Local Authority houses.
'Clarke & Co - gun
catalog' suggests that Hal's interest in a BSA catalog wasn't about
motorcycles. He is also taking advantage of the numerous offers of
I now think that 'Scripsimus' (Latin for 'we wrote') is a
pre-arranged telegraphic address, registered to his mother. This would
avoid a heavy 'charge per word' for spelling out the full address in a
cable. The charge of 4/6 for the cable was over two days' pay.
'Calox' was a brand of tooth-powder. (On the 26th Sept. Hal had sent for tooth-paste samples.).
= Miles McCabe. Although Miles and Hal arrived separately at Malta,
their Service Records show they both arrived at Portsmouth and the
Dudley Rd Birmingham Hospital at the same time. Miles came from Malta
on the 'Huntsend', which may have been the ship on which Hal travelled
(previously unidentified). It may well have taken over a week since
their arrival at Dudley Rd. for the pair to meet up again.
'Weighed 9st. 13lb' (63.5 kilo). In the eight days since he last
recorded his weight, Hal had put on ten lbs. (4.5 kilo), an
3 October 1915
'Rec. for Conv. Home.' Probably a recommendation that Hal
should next move on to one of the many 'Convalescent Camps'. There were
four main ones, at Blackpool, Epsom Downs, Dartford and Eastbourne.
'Weighed 10st. 6 3/4 lb. (66.7 kilo). In the last nine days Hal
had put on nearly 8 lb. (3.6 kilo), so the rapid weight gain was
Frank = Frank Green. Eddie = Eddie Hopkins. Both these friends
were still with the 2nd Field Ambulance, which had been withdrawn from
Anzac. They were probably recuperating on Lemnos.
Discharged from Birmingham Hospital, and according to the
official record transferred to the Convalescent Hospital Camp at
Woodcote Park, Epsom. Diagnosis - Dysentry. Epsom is South-West of
London in Surrey. It is the home of Epsom Racecourse (The Oaks and The
Derby), and of Epsom Salts.
The Germans were using Zeppelins to
bomb London, and they were regarded with a mixture of terror and
fascination by Londoners. They would have been completely new to Hal.
'Hoxton Hospital' is (and was) a specialist Eye Hospital in
Shoreditch in the East End of London. It is now part of the National
Health Service, and is generally known as Moorfields Eye Hospital, with
an international reputation for excellence.
"Uncle Tom' was an elderly English relative. It is not clear at
this stage whether he was on Hal's father's or mother's side. Harl St.
= Harley Street.
Hal's weight increase continues - this time he
is up 19 lbs (8.6 Kilo) in 14 days. At 11st. 12 lb. (75.3 Kilo) he's
now only 5 lb (2.3 Kilo) below his weight on enlistment.
22 October 'Trines' - unknown meaning.
Mess Orderly - The men at Epsom Convalescent Camp would be
organised in mess table groups, and each member of the group would take
it in turns to be 'Mess Orderly' for the day. He was responsible for
collecting the food and rations, and cleaning up after a meal.
'Dorking', 'Leatherhead' and 'Ewell' are all in Surrey, and close
to Epsom. They were all small country towns in their own right, but
even by 1915 they were becoming part of the commuter belt surrounding
As with the Herberts in Birmingham, Hal was receiving
invitations and hospitality from folk living in the area surrounding
the convalescent camp. This picture of open-handed welcome was repeated
later at Abbeywood Depot, and must have been appreciated by soldiers so
far from home and family.
This is the first mention of Miss Charlwood (Ena). Hal liked her
very much, but nothing seems to have come of it. I've traced her in the
1911 census, when she was living with her family in nearby Croydon,
aged 14. No occupation is shown, so she was presumably still at school.
She would have been about 18 when Hal met her, and was living in
lodgings in Ewell. It was probably unusual for a young unmarried woman
to be living away from her family, and I imagine the reason may have
been connected with her work - possibly in a shop or office or as a
student teacher. As part of the war effort there was considerable
direction of labour - particularly of unmarried women in unreserved
occupations, so it could be in a local factory.
The 'Anzac Buffet' in Central London became famous for its
freely-given hospitality to Australian and NZ troops. In addition to
food, companionship and entertainment it was a source of free tickets
to London theatres and Music Halls. Hal visited the theatre frequently,
often on free tickets.
2 November 1915 Lord Charles Beresford - British Admiral and MP. Lord Fisher - First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet. Known as 'Jacky Fisher'.
6 November Jock Tulloch and Jack Harding were both members of the 2nd Field Ambulance, invalided out from Gallipoli. 'Jock
Tulloch' = Pte. Herbert T Tulloch (253), a 27 year-old accountant, at
the time convalescing in London. In the following month (Dec. 1915) he
was commissioned in the Royal Field Artillery. 'Jack Harding' = Pte.
John Harding (117), a 22 year-old clerk. He was at the Birmingham
Hospital and at Abbeywood with Hal, and went on to France in September
'10/- from Min'. 'Min' is frequently mentioned. She appears to
live in Birmingham, and on 24 Dec. her mother is described as 'Mrs
Harris'. Possibly a nurse or VAD from the Birmingham Hospital.
mentions borrowing from her on several occasions, so she presumably
always got paid back. She must have been visiting London on this
occasion, or sent the money by post. Hal's problem may have been the
difficulty of access to his money, rather than shortage of money
itself. If he could only draw money once a fortnight, then, with no
bank account or credit card to rescue him, he would need to borrow if
he had underestimated the amount of money he'd need to draw to cover
himself for the next fortnight.
The official record shows that on this day Hal was 'discharged to
duty' from the Epsom Convalescent Camp, to go to the Intermediate Depot
at Abbeywood. However, he was given a fortnight's leave before taking
up his duties there. When on leave like this the Australian troops
received an allowance to cover the cost of food and accommodation etc.
I have seen a record of the rates but cannot remember where.
The Ardmay Hotel had been recommended to Hal on 29th Oct., probably by someone at the Anzac Buffet.
10 November Sgt. Jones - unknown.
'Mr Warr' - Hal had been to tea at Mr Warr's home in Ewell on the
30th October. Hal became friendly with the family, and they are
mentioned a number of times in his diary. I have traced them in the
1911 census, at which time Mr Warr (Arthur) was a 39 year-old bank
clerk living in High St. in Ewell, with his 34 year-old wife (Florence
May) and two sons, Thomas age 14 and Arthur age 3. By the time Hal knew
them in 1915 there was at least one further member of the family - Tim.
Will Moore = Pte Frederick William Moore, a 29 year-old
Ironmonger's Assistant, born in England. A 2nd FA reinforcement in
1915, later transferred to the 4th FA in France. Military Medal July
1917. Returned to Australia in 1919.
'Sgt Hilliers on the
Mashobra' was the NZ soldier with a serious head wound who insisted on
giving Hal his money-belt (3rd May 1915).
16 November Morse = "met May". Later described as May Kendall.
17 November List of names and addresses includes - Nurse Amy Jackson - possibly the 'Amy' mentioned several times in the diary. - Mrs Kate Deacon, Letchworth - probably an English relative on his mother's side (she was nee Deacon). 'Holyrood Castle' is actually 'Holyrood Palace'.
18 November 'Mr McBride' is probably the gentleman Hal met on his way to Edinburgh Castle the previous day.
20 November 'Went to Banford Rd' - possibly stayed with Mr and Mrs Herbert.
21 November Miles = Miles McCabe. He was not discharged from Birmingham Hospital until 3rd December.
Hal originally refers to 'Abbywood', but later in his diary he
correctly refers to 'Abbeywood'. This was an 'Intermediate Depot' at
Bostal Heath in Kent, where Australian soldiers who had been ill or
wounded were sent after convalescence to build up their strength and
fitness, preparatory to returning to active service with their unit, or
being assigned to another unit. At other Intermediate Depots (and
probably at Abbeywood) there were four grades of 'fitness', and not
everyone achieved the top grade of being fully fit for active service,
but nevertheless became sufficiently fit to fill less physically
Nowadays, Abbeywood is an outer suburb of
London, lying between Woolwich and Dartford near the River Thames. The
main London-Dover road (A2) passes nearby, and it includes an area of
woodland (Bostal Woods) from which it takes its name. This woodland is
believed to be one of the few remaining areas of untouched primeval
woodland in England.
Back to routine army life - marching. Hal's diary contains very
few references to everyday army life in Abbeywood. He probably regarded
it as too hum-drum and repetitive to record anything about it, but
it must have taken up most of his time. Instead, the diary concentrates
on places he visits, the people he gets to know, and the letters he
receives and writes. It gives the impression that these are all that
his life consisted of at the time.
28 November Bexley Heath is a large area of Common Land near Dartford. A good walking area at the time.
'Wrote Mac'. Prior to this date Hal refers to Miles McCabe as
'Miles', and only once as 'Mac'. From here on it is usually 'Mac'. The
change is so marked that I wondered if they were two different people,
but careful checking of the dates and locations in his service record
has convinced me that 'Mac' is indeed Miles McCabe.
Miles McCabe's service record shows he had just been discharged
from Birmingham Hospital, and was on a week's furlough. There is no
record of his whereabouts until the end of June, when he was
transferred from the large Intermediate Depot at Monte Video, Weymouth near Bournemouth on the South Coast.
8 December Hal had sprained his ankle the previous week (29 November).
First mention of 'Viewlands Rd'. During his time at Abbeywood Hal
often visited several families living in nearby Viewlands Rd.
Sgt Hardess = Sgt. William G Hardess (20) of the 2nd Field
Ambulance. A 26 year-old plumber, evacuated from Galipolli with
'Debility', and was later at the Epsom Convalescent Camp. He was
mentioned in despatches in 1916 and returned to Australia in 1918.
22 December 1915 to 3 January 1916
Apart from a visit to Leatherhead (probably to see Ena Charlwood)
Hal spent his Christmas/New Year leave in Birmingham, where he appears
to have made firm friends.
5 January 1916 Bruce, David and Charlie Hall not identified.
'Put on as clerk to dentist'. There was a dental unit at
Abbeywood Depot, and the dental clerk's job would be suitable for
someone not yet assessed as fully fit for active service. Although the
diary gives few clues as to what the job entailed, Hal remained as
Dental Clerk throughout the following months.
'News of Trix's son' - this would have been the birth of a son to
his sister and brother-in-law - Robert and Trixie Bennell. His new
nephew was called Robert Firmin Bennell, and his descendants know of
this website. 'Mits from Mother' - probably hand-knitted mittens, very useful in London winter. 'Housewife'
- possibly a 'hussif', a small rolled up mending kit, containing
needles, thread, pins, etc. They were issued as part of the army kit,
but if given as a gift would be of superior quality.
Wyeth = probably George Wyeth (498) of the 22nd Battalion, a 25
year old bookkeeper who was evacuated from Gallipoli with dysentry. He
was killed in action in France in 1916.
17 January 'conting' = ?
22 January Another weekend visit to Birmingham. Doesn't seem to get much sleep up there. Les Purvis untraced.
24 January AW = Abbeywood
Plumstead is a London suburb lying between Woolwich and
Abbeywood. Viewlands Rd is in Plumstead. Plumstead Common is a large
open area, good for walking. Mac (Miles McCabe) must have been visiting
while on leave from another Intermediate Depot (? Weymouth).
The Headquarters of the Australian Medical Corp was located at
Horseferry Rd, in the City of Westminster near the Thames. 'Went to
Viewlands Rd' - possibly to visit T. G. Arnold (see invitation on 25
Jan), although a different family was living there at the 1911 census.
Hal originally refers to 'Plumsted', but later corrected this to
'Plumstead'. During the time Hal spent at Abbeywood he visited several
families living in Viewlands Rd., which abuts Plumstead Common. Google
Street View shows that the houses in Viewlands Rd are solid
late-Victorian three-storey terraces, most of which are very well kept,
but some are run-down. It is now a pleasant tree-lined street.
2 February One of the few mentions of work. Surgeon-General Sir W.D.C.Williams was Director of Medical Services.
At the 1911 census 32 Viewlands Rd was occupied by the Elliott
family. Probably still there in 1916, but not confirmed in Hal's diary.
5 February A total of 28 letters. 'Went to Ewell' to visit the Warr family.
6 February 'Letter from Horseferry Rd', would be from the A M C Headquarters, in response to his of a week earlier.
'Went to East Ham'. East Ham lies North of the Thames, whereas
Abbeywood lies South of the Thames. Hal may have simply gone on an
excursion crossing the Thames Estuary on the Woolwich Ferry, but he
later describes visiting relatives living at nearby Stratford.
'Gordon to Mrs Warr'. Probably means he took Gordon Frier, the
19-year-old son of the Frier family at 36 Viewlands Rd, to meet Mrs
Warr in Ewell. Gordon Frier was in the army.
The letter from 'the Tardiffs' is the first mention of the
Tardiff family, who are frequently mentioned thereafter. At the 1911
census they lived in the Brockley area of Lewisham, South London, and
were a middle-aged couple with at least six children. The father,
Alfred, was listed as an 'Umbrella Manufacturer's Salesman', and
interestingly, was born in Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. Hal
mentions them so often I suspect, probably falsely, they might be
relatives, possibly through the wife, Louisa Emily, who was the
daughter of Charles Lewis and Annie nee Berry.
11 February Frank Green and Hal exchanged occasional letters. Frank was still in the Cairo/Suez area with the 2nd FA.
First visit to the Tardifs. 'Mac on a picket' i.e. sentry duty.
Not clear where Mac stationed, but possibly he too was at Abbeywood.
Lew Solomon (214) was a member of the 2nd FA. See 27 June 1915
when he was fortunately absent from his dugout when it was shelled.
19 February I think 'Uncle Ted' was an Australian relative.
20 February 'Queenie' - in retrospect, possibly Queenie (Alice) Bowman, but other Queenies are mentioned in passing.
21 February Parcel for Maurice Tardif, who would have been about five years old.
25 February This was the day Hal and Ray Thornton had agreed in 1915 to meet back in Australia in 1916.
'Went to Lewisham to Mrs Lawson'. On Jan 26 Hal had attended a
'Corroboree' at Caxton Hall, presumably celebrating Australia Day,
where he received invitations to visit from a Miss Pearce and a Miss
Lawson, resulting in this visit. The Lawson family - cultured, much
travelled and sophisticated - must have been a new experience for Hal.
It is not clear whether 'Lionel', the violinist, is the father or a
son. The family would not have been in England for the 1911 census.
'Mixed parcel left at No.32' - probably 32 Viewlands Rd, the
presumed 1911 home of the Elliott family. The father, Samuel, was an
engineer, and at the 1911 census there were four children.
'36' - probably 36 Viewlands Rd, the home of the Frier family.
'Captain Honman' - Captain Honman, one of the original doctors of the
2nd FA. Died in France 1917.
9 March Tim Warr - probably the youngest member of the Warr family of Ewell, born after the 1911 census.
10 March 'Tom has gone to France' - the 19-year-old son of the Warr family of Ewell.
'Went to Uncle Tom's'. Previously visited during Hal's first
visit to London in October 1915. Unfortunately, still no surname or
address for Uncle Tom, but presumably connected to the Bowman family.
Following up the Bowman lead I found two Thomas Bowmans living in South
London area at the 1911 census. One, then aged 28, had a wife called
'Queenie', one of the Bowman family names listed by Hal (She was nee
Huxley, the daughter of a Thomas Huxley). The other was aged 53 in
1911, so could be 'Uncle Tom', particularly as he had a daughter called
Winifred, another of the Bowman family names. 'Left 10/-' (ten
shillings). Assuming Uncle Tom was elderly and the 10/- was for him,
this was quite a generous gift. It was the weekly rate of the recently
introduced Age Pension, and represented five days of Hal's pay.
Hal made a mistake in the date back on the 6th March, but now
corrected it by missing out the 19th. I think the days of the week are
correct, but the actual date has been a day out, since the 6th March. 'Miss
Warr' is presumably a relative of the Warrs of Ewell. Possibly the
'Laura Warr' mentione on Wed. 14 March. 'Clapham' is in South London.
Letter from Barset Rd. about the death of Uncle Tom. Still no age
or surname, but in the 1911 census I found a Charles Bowman and family
living at 56 Barset Rd, Camberwell, South London, and the family
members tied in with those listed by Hal on 18 March (apart from
'Queenie' who appears in the census as 'Alice'). Living with them was
Thomas C Winters, aged 74, a widower born about 1837 in Lambeth, South
London. This must be Uncle Tom. Further research, from information
freely available on-line, enabled me to trace 'Uncle Tom's' exact
connection to Hal. Charles Bowman's wife, Louisa May, was born in
Lambeth in 1863, the daughter of Thomas and Harriet Winters. Thomas
Winters (Uncle Tom) was himself born in Lambeth in 1837, the son of
James and Kezia Winters, and both Uncle Tom and his father James were
wheelwrights (coach). Father James was born about 1810 in
Hertsfordshire, quite probably in Walkern or Wyddial near Royston. I
found Tom and his father James living in Southwark, South London, in
the 1851 census, and with them was a younger son, Henry, born about
1838 in Lambeth. I found his baptism in 1838, Henry George the son of
James and Kezia Winters, so he and Uncle Tom were brothers, and Henry
George was Hal's father. 'Uncle Tom' was a real uncle, and not a
'Courtesy Uncle' or 'Great Uncle'.
26 March Miss Murray Pryor is Miss Murray-Prior, Secretary of the Edinburgh Esperanto Association.
I've noticed a number of mentions of 'Elaine' over the last few
weeks. Who is she? Checking back I find she first appears when Hal
receives a letter from 'Elaine' on 9 March. This was a week after he
visited the Lawson family, on the original invitation of Miss
Lawson/Miss E Lawson (26 and 28 January). Possibly Miss Lawson has
'L'Enfant Prodigal' (The Prodigal Son). Possibly the cantata by
Debussy, but more likely to be a film. It was the first full-length
motion picture produced in Europe (in 1906), and was remade in 1916. 'To
have met Elaine at Madame Callanes'. Everyone spoke French, so
presumably so did Elaine, which would tie in with her belonging to the
Lawson family, whom Hal describes as 'linguists'. 'Stayed the night
at 119 Brookbank'. This is the first of numerous mentions of visiting
or staying at '119' or 'Brookbank' or 'in Lewisham'. Both the Tardifs
and the Lawsons lived in the large Borough of Lewisham, a South-East
suburb, bordering on what was then the boundary of Kent. The Tardifs
lived in Comerford Rd., Brockley, a district well away from the main
centre, whereas Brookbank Rd is right in the centre near Lewisham
Railway Station (and has now been redeveloped and forms part of the
major shopping area). I lived in the area for a couple of years, and
would refer to Brookbank Rd as 'in Lewisham', but to Comerford Rd. as
'in Brockley' or 'in Crofton Park', as it lies almost exactly halfway
between these two railway stations. I think it is the Lawsons who live
at Brookbank Rd.
'Cousin Alice' at Montague Rd., Leytonstone. This is an outer
suburb, NE of London. She was not at this address at the 1911 census,
but I found an Alice Revell at Crownfield Rd., Stratford, which is
nearby. She had two sons, Arthur and Tom, and was described as a
Confectionery Shopkeeper. Her husband, George Revell, was a 'Political
Registration Agent'. Information available on-line identifies her as
Alice Kezia Winters, born about 1868, who married George Revell in 1886. At
the 1871 census she was living in Camberwell with her parents. Thomas
and Harriet Winters, and an older sister, Louisa. She was Uncle Tom's
second daughter, sister to Louisa Winters who married George Chapman,
and both she and Louisa were Hal's first cousins. When Hal met the Revell family in 1916 her husband was Councillor Revell, an elected member of the Local
Authority. Hal commented on the 'nice house' and 'fine locality'.
Nowadays the street has been largely redeveloped, but there are a few
late Victorian 3-4 bedroom terrace houses left. It is tree-lined and
abuts a large open space.
'Got Mac on as assistant to me' (in the dental clinic). Miles
McCabe must have been stationed at Abbeywood at this point, although
his official service record makes no mention of it.
Hal mentions 'Madame Callane' many times over the next few weeks.
The spelling of her name varies but seems to settle as 'Callone' rather
'Woe Water' is a name given to a number of springs, all in the
'chalk' country, which only flow occasionally. Folklore has it that
their flow heralds forthcoming disaster. There must be one in the Ewell
First mention in the diary of phoning anyone. 'Catford' is an
extension of the main Lewisham shopping area and there was (and still
is) a theatre there. Perhaps Hal took Elaine to the theatre. 'Stayed night at Lewisham' - probably at Brookbank Rd, which was probably the home of the Lawsons. The
'dead meat ticket' was the identity disc worn by Australian soldiers on
a chain around their neck, which enabled them to be identified if
killed or wounded. Originally they wore only one, but increasingly they
wore two, the idea being that if a body was found one disc was removed
and used as proof of death, and the other remained on the body to
identify it for burial. Hal's can be seen in the pictures of his
souvenir box, engraved 240 WINTERS H F, 2 F.A.M.B, B. The
'dainty chain' is no longer attached.
In 1911 No.32 Viewlands Rd was occupied by the Elliott family,
with small children. I now doubt that they still lived there in 1916 as
Hal visited so often, simply 'dropping in'. I feel he must have gone to
relax with people nearer his own age. Today the family are sad, because
Alf and Will are going away - probably two sons who are in the army.
14 April 'Got mumps' - but doesn't report sick for a couple of days.
Gibbin not identified. 'The Prisoner of Zenda' written by Anthony Hope,
published in 1894. An adventure novel set in Ruritania and, like many of
the books Hal mentioned, made into a film.
The Royal Herbert Hospital at Woolwich was a very large civilian
hospital with Nightingale wards, set on the top of Woolwich Hill, above
the Woolwich Arsenal and the Naval Docks. Coincidentally, I was a
member of its Management Committee in the 1970's, at which time its
fine buildings were falling into disrepair because, over the years,
maintenance had been neglected. Meanwhile, the Army had a magnificent
new hospital nearby, which was little used. We cast covetous eyes on
it. Eventually the army hospital was closed, the premises were taken
over by the NHS, which enabled the Royal Herbert to close in its turn.
Since then, millions have been spent on restoring the buildings and
converting it all into up-market apartments, set in fine grounds in a
premier position. 'Alexander from camp' - not identified.
'Call of the Wild' - a short adventure novel by Jack London,
published 1903. Set in the Yukon in the 1890's, during the Klondike
Anzac Day - exactly a year ago Hal had been on board the
Mashobra, expecting to go ashore at Gallipoli very shortly. His letters
to Mac and Frank Green probably recalled the day. Frank was still with
the 2nd FA, who had moved from the Suez/Cairo area to the Western Front
at the end of March. 'Wounds and Scars' tells me that on this very day
they were stationed near Armentieres, and had their first experience of
being shelled and gassed by the Germans.
'Vanity Fair' by William Makepeace Thackeray, published 1847. It
satirises society in early 19th Century Britain and the heroine is
28 April AWOL again. Must have felt OK after the mumps.
'Freckles' - a novel by the American writer and naturalist,
Gene-Stratton Porter. Published in 1904 and set in the Limberlost Swamp
in Indiana. She also wrote 'A Girl of the Limberlost', published 1909,
which Hal read a day or so later. 'Wee Macgregor Enlists' by John Joy
Bell, a journalist with the Glasgow Evening Times. 'Wee Macgregor'
featured in a series of comic stories he wrote for the newspaper. Hal
is also practising his French.
Sno. Veronesi was an acquaintance Hal met in Cairo. There is a
list of the Veronesi family members among the notes towards the end of
'Got out of hospital', just three weeks after recording that he
had got mumps. I can't help wondering how infectious he was when he
visited No.32 before he reported sick, and visited them again when he
went AWOL from hospital. It was very infectious and can sometimes
affect the fertility of adult males who get it. At one period when they
were in France the 2nd FA ran a specialised 'Mumps Camp'.
10 May Min must have been visiting London from Birmingham.
'Letter from mother at 32' - I have noticed a number of occasions
when Hal has had letters sent to friend's houses. Maybe they
arrived quicker than the ones which went through the official channels,
and had to be directed to where he was stationed.
Mac left Abbeywood for some unspecified destination. His official
record gives no clue as to where he went, or that he was even at
Abbeywood. Sgt. Wolseley not identified. 'Urens of Melbourne' may be
Leonard Sydney Uren (2069), a 22 year-old dental mechanic, who was
evacuated from Gallipoli with dysentry. He was at Abbeywood in Jan
1916, and then moved to the newly formed Command Depot at Perham Down,
Salisbury Plains. He returned to Australia in 1919, but his brother,
Lieut. Harold Uren (2070) died of wounds in France in 1917.
Above the entry for this day Hal has written WEYMOUTH in capital
letters. I suspect he had heard that this is where Mac had gone to, as
on the 28 June Mac's service record shows he was transferred from the
convalescent camp at Monte Video near Weymouth to the command depot at
Perham Down on Salisbury Plains.
'Lewisham Hipp' = Lewisham Hippodrome, the theatre at Catford Hal
and Elaine may have visited on 11 April. Welling is another nearby
24 May and 26 May
'Cut out 3' for Elaine and Tim Warr' - I do not know what this
means. The small symbol above and to the right of the figure three,
which is shown on the transcript as an apostrophe, is actually more
like a circumflex turned on its side. It also occurs later in the
diary. Any clues, anyone?
Death of Gordon Frier of 36 Viewlands Rd. Hal heard about this
from the neighbours at 32 Viewlands Rd. He had taken 19 year-old Gordon
Frier to meet Mrs Warr in Ewell on the 8th February.
'Queenie Frier' is probably May Frier who was aged nine at the
1911 census. 'Queenie' was also used as a pet-name for 'Alice' in the
Bowman family. Both 'Queenies' were born in 1902, so the name probably
commemorates the death of Queen Victoria in 1901. Apart from Queenie
(May) the Frier family at 36 Viewlands Rd included elder brother John,
who may have been in the army, and at least one younger sister
Constance. The father was Scottish, and a 'Mechanical Draughtsman'.
(Spread 33 is a list of names with some addresses. A page has been torn out here, but no daily entries are missing. Spread 34 is blank.)
Queenie would be Queenie (May) Frier. Not sure who 'Laura' is.
Possibly a member of the family at No.36 Viewlands. Lionel Lawson
accompanied Hal on a number of other occasions e.g. the previous day.
5 June 'The swim' would have been in Woolwich Baths, not the filthy Thames River.
'Met John Frier' - father and son were both called John. This was
probably the son, aged about 23. At the 1911 census he was an
eighteen-year-old Engineer Student, and in 1916 was probably in the
The Lawson Family
I have become increasingly interested in the Lawson
family, consisting of Mrs Lawson, Lionel the violinist, and Elaine.
Without going into detail here, I have been able to trace the family
further. Lionel the violinist is Mrs Lawson's son, full name Lionel
Wilfred John Lawson, born in NSW in 1898. He was aged 17 or 18 when Hal
met him in 1916, which seems young to be a professional violinist. His
parents were George Wilfred Lawson and Margaret nee Sharrock, married
in Sydney in 1890. At first I could not find a
daughter Elaine, but eventually found her under her full name of
Florence Elaine Esther Lawson, born 1891 in Sydney. She was thus aged
about 24 or 25 when Hal first met her in 1916. Hal makes no mention
of meeting the father, so his whereabouts are not certain. He is not
recorded as serving in the UK or Australian Defence Forces in WW1, but
he was alive, as he, his wife, and Elaine, are traceable in the
Australian Electoral Rolls as living together at the same address in
Sydney in the 1930's. At that time he was described as an accountant. I
can only imagine that Mrs Lawson, Elaine and Lionel were
travelling in Europe on a sort of 'Grand Tour', or, more seriously,
were giving Lionel the opportunity to further his violin studies and
Elaine her languages. They had got caught up with the outbreak of WW1,
managed to get to England, but were stuck there, whilst Mr Lawson was
stuck in Australia. I do not know when Mrs
Lawson and Elaine returned to Australia, but in January 1917
Lionel sailed from UK to Australia, and on the passenger list is
described as 'aged 18, violinist'. Back in Sydney he had flying lessons
at Richmond, near Sydney, returned to the UK, and joined the newly
formed RAF as a cadet in April 1918. He was commissioned as a Pilot
Officer at the end of that year, and is thought to have served for a
time with the RAF Armoured Car Company based in Palestine. He was in
Sydney in 1922 being married, and for several years in the 1930's he
appears on the electoral roll in Sydney as a Violinist.
At the time of his enlistment in the RAF he gave his
father, George Wilfred Lawson, as his next-of-kin, with an address in
Neutral Bay. This address was crossed out, and replaced by an address
in Elizabeth St. Sydney, which sounds more like a business address than
a residential address. In Diary 4, which covers the first half of 1917,
Hal lists Lionel under the Neutral Bay address, so knew of his
(temporary) return to Australia. Hal seems to
have had most contact with Elaine, and they frequently wrote to each
other - during the period from early February to early June Elaine
wrote 15 times and Hal 19 times. I would like to think that there was
something of a romance brewing, but I suspect much of the
correspondence was concerned with practical arrangements, that would
nowadays be dealt with by a quick phone call or email. There are about
half-a-dozen occasions when Hal had what might be called 'a date' with
Elaine (met for lunch/went to the theatre), but there were nearly as
many occasions when he went somewhere with 'the Lawsons' as a family,
and several times just with Lionel. Over the
same period he visited the Lawson's home about 18 times, including six
occasions when he stayed overnight - it must have been a sort of
home-from-home, quite apart from any interest he may have had in
Elaine. There are, in fact, a number of clues that Elaine did not
always live at 119 Brookbank, but that when Hal 'took her home' he was
taking her to some other address. She must surely have worked somewhere
- possibly she was even employed by Madame Callone to help look after
the children and teach them English.
'Went to Abbeywood' - this was the start of a major change in
Hal's life. He'd spent the previous few days packing up, and now he was
leaving Abbeywood, its nearness to the attractions of Central London,
his friends the Warrs, The Tardifs, the Lawsons, the families at
Viewbank Rd and his relatives - the Chapmans and the Revells. This was
the result of a reorganisation of the Australian Forces.
Reorganisation of the Australian Forces
There were now many thousand Australian soldiers in
England. Some had served in the Dardenelles Campaign, and had
recovered, or were recovering from illness or being wounded. Added to
them was a flow of new recruits from Australia, most of whom were only
partially trained. A site was selected on Salisbury Plains to form a
centralised facility for the needs of the Australian forces.
This upland area, which lies North of Salisbury in
Wiltshire, had long been used by the British Army and is still the site
of army training grounds centred on Bulford Barracks, near
Stonehenge. It has a dread reputation of windswept bleakness in winter.
I am listing the location of the various facilities used by the
Australians, as Hal mentions many of them in his diary. The troops were
mostly housed in huts and tents, but some existing barrack buildings
were taken over from the British Army. These included permanent
barracks named after places in India, such as Mooltan and Bhurtpore.
Headquarters - these were at Bhurtpore Barracks, Tidworth.
Training Groups - there were three training groups; - 12,000 troops at Perham Down and Parkhouse Barracks, three miles from Tidworth. - 22,000 troops at Rollestone, 12 miles from Tidworth. - 30,000 troops at Lark Hill, 10 miles from Tidworth.
- these were for convalescents and recovered convalescents, many of
whom would need to go on to one of the training camps before rejoining
their units or joining a different one. - Command Depot No.1
was formed at Perham Down to receive ex-convalescents getting fit
enough to return to active service. This replaced the previous
Intermediate Camp at Abbeywood. - Command Depot No.2
was formerly the Base Depot/Convalescent Camp at Monte Video, Weymouth.
As before, those who were not expected to be fit enough for active
service within three months were returned to Australia.
Hal's posting to a dental unit within the AAMC continued
after the move from Abbeywood. All soldiers, both the new
reinforcements from Australia and recovered convalescents, were graded
into one of three categories of fitness. Only those graded 'A' were
regarded as fully fit for active service. The problems caused by the
lack of any dental services in the Dardenelles Campaign were now
recognised, and 'fitness' now included 'dental fitness'. The dental
units were kept busy.
8 June Bhurtpore Barracks were the Headquarters location. Hal's official record confirms this move.
13 June Col. Hurley - one of the original doctors with the 2nd FA.
Transferred from Bhurtpore Barracks to Command Depot No.2, which
was really the Abbeywood set-up in a new location. Hal appreciated the
'quietness'. Letters from the friends left behind from Abbeywood days
are starting to reach him.
18 June - Len Uren - see 16 May.
- 'Park House' - Hal always writes this as two words. Offically it is
referred to as one word; Parkhouse, the location of one of the training
groups. Later mentions of S.Sgt McDougall indicate he was a member of
the dental unit, and this is probably also the case for Cpl Uren, L/c
Rainey and McEvoy. It looks as though this group of four were
going to the training camp to staff a dental clinic there. 'Alex, Jack,
Dolly Grey and Laycock' were being trained or awaiting relocation at
Parkhouse. 'Dolly Grey' was Sgt E. Gladstone Gray (8) and 'Laycock' was
Cpl Ernest Laycock (244), both members of the original 2nd FA.
Hal had sent for the hat pins from E. Simmons, Jewellers, on 14
June. I'm surprised he didn't write about the theft of the cigarettes
in code, as I'm sure it would have shocked his mother.
Col. Sturdee - the CO of the original 2nd FA. By this time he had
moved on and was ADMS (Assistant Director Medical Services).
29 June Hal's
letter to Col. Sturdee (21 June) was presumably to try to get back to
front line service with the 2FA. Here, at Salisbury Plains he would
have seen many Australians being sent to serve in France, and he wants
to go as well, even if it means transferring to another unit. His
friend, Frank Green, was still with the 2FA in France.
30 June S.Sgt.
McDermott - later mentions suggest he was attached to the Dental
Clinic. 'Jenkins in Adelaide' unknown, but possibly a family connection
as Hal's mother was originally from Adelaide.
Hal has carried out the threat made a couple of days earlier and
applied for a transfer to be trained in 'bomb throwing'. In France the
Allied and German trenches were often not far apart, and 'bomb
throwing' was hurling live hand grenades across No Man's Land into an
opposing trench. Originally the grenade fuses were slow-burning enough
to allow of experts to catch a grenade and throw it back before it
For the rest of 1916 Hal records the date of each entry, but not the
day of the week. I have added this in my notes and it looks as though
Hal worked a 5-day week, as the majority of walks and visits take place
at the week-end.
2 July 'The
adjutant' is identified as 'Crolly' on the 6 July, but I have been
unable to find anyone of that surname in the service records. It may be
a nickname. 'Mr Bennett', who presumably was in charge of the Dental
Clinic, must have sympathised with Hal's motives in applying for the
bonb-throwing course, as he declined to give him an official reprimand.
'Mac' was stationed at nearby Parkhouse Barracks. 'Will Coates' was
probably Pte. George William Vincent Coates, 2236. He was part of the
reinforcements for the 4th Light Horse Brigade (Mac's unit) and came
from Loch in Gippsland, as did Mac's father.
3 July Bhurtpore Barracks - location of the Headquarters.
4 July Formal application to go to France.
5 July We do not
know what 'class' Hal was in for physical fitness. 'Old friends' are
still keeping in touch with him, such as Ena Charlwood, Mr McBride from
Edinburgh and Miss Murray-Prior from British Esperanto.
6 July 'Henry V' - probably Shakespeare's play. The group of four visited at Parkhouse are those mentioned earlier on 19 June.
'Neurosis of the heart' - diagnosis unknown.
'Joe' - unidentified. Chloroform instead of local anaesthetic sounds dangerous.
7 July 'Parcel of lace from Mrs Warr' - on 29 June Hal had sent Mrs Warr £1 to buy a present for his mother. 'Lace' sounds a good choice.
8 July Letter
from Horseferry Rd - probably a reply to Hal's letter to Col. Sturdee
on 21 June. 'Miss Pearce' is an occasional correspondent. First
mentioned 26 January where she and Elaine Lawson met Hal at a
'Corroboree' at Caxton Hall.
9 July Weighed
12st. 9lb. (80.3 kilo). This is just over his weight when he first
arrived in Egypt, and nearly 3 1/2 stone (27 kilo) more than on his
arrival at hospital in Birmingham in September 1915.
10 July The bombing course application was made on 30 June.
12 July Ludgershall is a village a couple of miles from where Hal was located.
'Dowere' is probably Pte Alfred Leopold James Doewra, 614, 7coy. 2nd
Batt Inf. a railway shunter in his late 20's. He was wounded at
Gallipoli, and came to Burtpore Barrack from Abbeywood in July 1916.
After serving in France he returned to Australia in Sept. 1918.
'Chissy' is probably Pty Alexander Chisholm, 72, a familiar face from
the original 2FA. 'Cpl Watt' is often mentioned in later entries, but
it is not until an entry on 11 November that he can be identified as
Cpl Lyndon Mitchie Watt, 707, then aged about 22, a clerk from
Lilydale. Originally with the 6th Battalion AIF, he was wounded at
Gallipoli, and when Hal knew him he was on the Permanent Establishment
at No.1 Command Depot, as a clerk. In 1917 he was commissioned and
served in france, where he only lasted four weeks before he was badly
wounded and returned early to Australia.
14 July Hal
appears to be in the depth of depression at still being stuck in
England. 'Pen Pushing' isn't what he thought he was signing up for when
he volunteered nearly two years before. The sense of frustration was
probably heightened by the knowledge that things were not going at all
well in France. Just a fortnight earlier the Battle of the Somme had
commenced, and news of the appalling loss of life was filtering
through. On the first day the British losses amounted to 54,470
casualties including 19,240 killed. The Australian forces were not
involved on this first day, but unknown to Hal they (including Frank
Green and the 2FA) were involved in the costly battle at Fromelles on
the very day he wrote this entry in his diary. The Australian forces
joined in at the Somme at the end of July.
Hal mentioned his friend, Ray Thornton, as being 'in Cairo'. In fact,
Ray never reached the hospital in Cairo, but died and was buried at
22 July Kimpton
and Thruxton are nearby villages. 'Whetton' is probably Pte. Percy
Whetton, 243 1st FA, aged about 27, born in UK but recruited in Sydney.
Wounded at Gallipoli. Moved from Abbeywood to Bhurtpore Depot in June
1916, and to France in Sept. 1916 as a member of the Dental Corp.
Returned to Australia in October 1918.
23 July 'Root filled 5' - this probably refers to tooth No.5, which is an upper right bicuspid, and not five different teeth.
26 July S-no Papadopoulo is an acquaintance Hal made in Alexandria.
27 July Kimpton, Thruxton, Fifefield and Penton are all small villages near Hal's base.
28 July A couple
of days earlier Hal has had 'news of a shift soon'. He must have been
very disappointed when he found other members of the Dental Clinic were
going to France, but he was being left behind.
29 July Hal
disparagingly refers to his position with the new team at the dental
clinic as 'Card King'. When he was at Abbeywood we know that part of
Hal's clerical duties was preparing returns on the total amount of work
done (mainly extractions), but more was needed now that 'dental
fitness' had become an essential element in the assessment of the
fitness of individual soldiers. In the early days of the dental clinics
there was difficulty in keeping track of the information, but
"Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918" says that
there was no difficulty "after the inauguration of the card system".
It is strange that although I have by now checked through many service
record files I can remember only once coming across an individual
dental record, although a medical record was always present. That card
referred to an assessment made on discharge in1919, and included the
sort of diagram of the state of the teeth you would see on dental
Mrs Warr has come up trumps yet again with a 'great birthday cake'. I've come to really like that woman.
1 August, 1916
Hal's 23rd birthday. He enlisted a couple of weeks after his 21st, and
his 22nd was spent on Lemnos suffering from dysentry after being
evacuated from Gallipoli.
2 August The
parcel from teenagers Laura and Queenie (Viewlands Rd) was probably a
birthday present. Interesting assortment of contents.
S-no Thomas - the title S-no made me think this must be an acquaintance
in Egypt, but later in the diary he is listed with an address in France.
3 August '2
stripes' = Corporal. I suspect Hal was just too good at his job, and
too useful to his superiors for them to willingly see him go off to
France. Promotion to corporal sounds like a bribe.
11 August This description of the view from the top of the hill appears to have been written on the spot.
15 August Hal
originally said he would try the new set-up for a month or so, but he's
only waited a fortnight before applying for a transfer to the
artillery. Surrounded as he was by various training units he probably
decided the artillery was his best bet of getting to France.
19 August Amesbury is a nearby market town. Bulford is the main camp of the British forces.
23 August McBean
= Bugler James McBean, 151, 2FA, now aged about 21, formerly a student.
Mallett = Pte Percy Robert Mallett, 3079, 3rd Machine Gun Battalion, a
printer now aged about 22, from Hawthorn. Both had served in the
Dardenelles and were then posted to the Imperial School of Instruction
at Zeitoun in Egypt. The School of Instruction was moved to England
early in August, and they both remained instructors at various sites in
England and France. After being wounded McBean returned to Australia in
March 1918, and Mallett in 1919.
'My Lady Frayle' - an operetta/musical play by Howard Talbot, first performed in London in March 1916.
24 August Sent
'The Strafer -Strafed' to Pearson. This must be one of his short
stories. I think he had previously sent manuscripts to Pearson, who is
unidentified, but is presumable an editor or publisher.
26 August The pass he got on the 23rd enabled him to revisit his friends in Birmingham.
27 August 1st
Southern General Hospital was the Birmingham hospital Hal first went to
in England. Cannon Hill Park is a large (23 acre) park near the centre
of Birmingham. Egbaston Cricket Grounds are adjacent.
The 'Matthews Bible' was first published in 1537 by John Rogers, under
the pseudonym 'Thomas Matthew'. It included earlier partial
translations by Tyndale and Coverdale, as well as some partial
translations by John Rogers. Rogers was burned at the stake in 1555,
Under Mary 1 (Bloody Mary).
This is, I think, the first mention of the Smith family. At the 1911
census they lived in Smethwick, on the outskirts of Birmingham. Father
was a greengrocer and the girls mentioned by Hal were in their late
teens at the time Hal met them. Brother Jeff was about 20, and young
Mick (John Vernon) was about eight.
'Wattie' has been mentioned several times before in the Birmingham
context, but is unidentified. This entry is a clue that he was probably
a fellow-patient at the Birmingham hospital and a member of the AIF.
Given the importance of the 'fitness classification' (only those of the
top grade of 'Fit for General Service' could be posted to France), I
find it strange that only rarely have I noticed any record of the
levels of fitness in the service records.
Min is a long-standing Birmingham friend with whom Hal has been in frequent contact. Possibly a nurse or VAD.
31 August 'Within the Law' is a play written by Bayard Veiller. It was made into a film in 1939. Cpl. Pavey not identified.
1 September 1916 OTC = Officer Training Camp (or Corp).
2 September Previously recorded as sent a week earlier on 24 August.
George Whorlord = Pte Victor Worland, 242, 2FA, now aged about 22. He
was wounded and contracted enteric fever and beri-beri in the
Dardenelles, and after a long stay in hospital in Malta was eventually
invalided back to Australia and discharged. His diary is quoted in
'Wounds and Scars'. Les Reid not identified.
7 September Grace Charlwood is probably a relation of Ena Charlwood.
Transfer to Artillery - Hal applied for this transfer three weeks earlier - on 15 August.
9 September Laura Tardif is the eldest Tardif daughter, now aged about 18.
14 September 'To Park House on Monday' - to begin his artillery training.
Les Winters not identified but he must be a relative.
'Chissy' and 'Whet' are Alex Chisholm and Percy Whetton, both members
of the 2FA attached to the dental clinic. 'Shalty' and 'Spencer' not
identified, but probably also attached to the dental clinic.
16 September 'Marg' = Marjorie, the second Tardif daughter, now aged 16.
Daisy Deacon is an Australian relative on Hal's mother's side. Seeing
his name reminds me that I had earlier spotted a 'Kate Deacon' listed
at an English address (November 1915), which I had not followed up. I
found her at that address in Letchworth in Hertsfordshire in the 1911
census. It was not clear from the original diary entry whether she was
Miss or Mrs. She turned out to be Catherine Anne Deacon, age 68, a
single lady of 'private means'. Living with her was a niece, May
Deacon, age 40, also single, and a servant.
She was the youngest daughter of Samuel and Virginia Deacon. At the
1851 census Samuel was a 'Coffee House Keeper' in Hackney, Mddx (the
East End of London). Aged 60, he was born in London. At the 1891
census, Kate Deacon and three of her older sisters and two nieces ran a
'Ladies College' in Eastbourne, Sussex, complete with boarders and
18 September Artillery training was based at Parkhouse Camp, with ranges at nearby Rollestone, Larkhill and Durrington.
19 September 'Had .4 filled' - another tooth filled. 'Took down stripes' - removed corporal's stripes from uniform.
Official Service Record says Hal moved today to Parkhouse, at No.1
Command depot. Being late for parade not a good start. Len, Whet and
Chissy had been 'standing by' to go to France since 28 July.
22 September MacDougal = Staff Sgt. MacDougal.
The flying ground was probably Netheravon Airfield, a few kilometers
North of Parkhouse. It became a Royal Flying Corp establishment known
as No.8 Training Depot Station. It has claimed to be the longest
continuously operating airfield in the world, and is now used as a
24 September Les
Harding = Pte Leslie Harding, 118, 2FA. Shorty Jackson is probably
Driver George Jackson, 135, 2FA, who was 5ft 3 3/4 inches (162 cm). He
was an older man who had been invalided back to Australia in 1915, and
had returned to England waiting reassignment to France. He was again
invalided to Australia and discharged.
25 September King = King George V. Bulford = the main camp of the British forces.
Harry Brighton not identified. I suspect Hal's fellow artillery
trainees came from very different backgrounds to most of the members of
the 2FA Tent and Stretcher Bearer Divisions, and were much more capable
of snaring rabits and pinching ducks. They certainly sound a lively lot.
13 October 1916
It is over three weeks since Hal moved to the Artillery Training Corp,
but this is the first mention of anything specifically related to the
artillery. I haven't been able to find out much about artillery
training in WW1, but at Hal's level it probably concentrated on the
lighter field artillery than on howitzers, heavy and medium trench
mortar batteries or siege batteries.
Although privates in the Royal Australian Artillery were referred to as
'gunners', the brigade members included many who provided all the usual
back-up services rather than fired a gun. This included the provision
of ammunition, communications, and looking after the horses used to
haul the guns. (Australia had no seperate Regiment of Horse Artillery).
At the more sophisticated level there were various technical experts
concerned with range finding.
The gun drill described as 'pretty strenuous' probably included man-handling the field guns.
14 October Pay
Book 2B covers this period. I cannot find anything in it referring to
this date. He may be simply having to physically collect the pay-book
from the 2FA office and take it to the artillery office.
'Voting on Conscription'. As the war went on and the casualty rates
increased the number of volunteers for the AIF declined, so that by
1916 the AIF faced a shortage of men. Despite opposition from his own
party, Labor Prime Minister Billy Hughes decided the solution lay in
conscription, and that the issue should be taken to the people in a
referendum. It was held on 28 October 1916, and special provisions
enabled all members of the AIF to vote. The proposal for conscription
was narrowly defeated after a heated debate. There is no
indication as to which way Hal voted. A second referendum on
conscription was held on 20 December 1917, and the proposal was again
21 October 'F's
Fancies' = Furphy's Fancies. A furphy is Australian slang for an
erroneous or improbable story that is claimed to be factual. I haven't
traced where this item was 'published'.
24 October Hal
appears to have physically transferred to Bulford Camp, which was (and
remains) the Headquarters of the English forces in the area. At this
point he ceases referring to being 'on the guns', and started on a
signalling course at Bulford. This transfer is confirmed in his service
29 October 'Cut out 3'. Meaning unknown, but see earlier comments on this phrase (24 and 26 May 1916).
4 November 1916 S. Simmons is the jeweller in Plumstead with whom Hal deals.
9 November The duplicate pay book is to replace the one stolen from him on 5 April 1915.
20 November 'Lamp work' - part of the signalling training. 22 and 23 November More signalling training - 'Night work' and 'wire laying at night'.
Address of Mrs Stredwick in Benalla, Vic. Hal had possibly intended to
visit her. 'Streddy' (Roger Stredwick, 218 FA) was one of Hal's
friends. Streddy's brother, Sydney Stredwick, 8232 had transferred from
5th FA to 2FA to be with his brother. Sydney was killed in late July,
1916, during the Battle of Poziers.
3 December 1916
The 'Blacksmith's Forge' and 'Chestnut Tree' refer to Fighledean's
claim to be the location of the well-known poem by Longfellow,
published in 1840.
'Under the spreading chestnut tree
The Village Smithy stands
The Smith a mighty man is he
With large and sinewy hands.'
A number of other villages also claim the honour, but the most likely contender is in Cambridgeshire.
The 'Flying School' is probably at Netheraven Airfield, previously visited on 22 September.
Logarithms - when I first met up with logarithms at school I had
trouble understanding them. Hal helped me get my head around them.
Warning that he can expect to leave for France the following Tuesday
(11 December 1916). In fact, he didn't leave until 17 December.
Diary page spread 56 The various notes at the end of the diary include the names of his friends, the Vescia family in Alexandria.
The recipe for damper is similar to the one I have used, but mine was posher, with self-raising flour and butter.