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Category: Digger's Diaries

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Served at Gallipoli, Killed in Action in France 2, October,1916

 (transcribed by Sue Banks, a relative)

DOB 21.5.86 (Addington), Killed in Action France 2.10.16

  • 6/1053, Private John Murray Donn
    • 12th Regiment
    • No 13 Section 12 Platoon
    • C Company or 12th Regiment
    • 1st Canterbury Infantry
    • Main Body
    • New Zealand Expeditionary Force

Bayonet            3259

Gun                 3259            1901



In the event of accidents will the finder of this diary please send the same to W Fairweather Jun Walter Street Blenheim New Zealand

G Harris ,246 Rentoul Street, Berhampore

RJ Wells, C/- Cathie & Co, Marion Street Wellington, or 133 Dixon Street, Phone 108

Sgt HG Seeley, c Coy, 5th Battalion, Australian Exp Force, Mina Camp, Mina

Miss W Pitherick, Ingelstri? Street, Wellington, New Zealand

Miss A Pinnegan, Maison Assad Bassitim, Camp de Cleare, Alexandria

Dec 31 1914

  • Take notice that as this is for 1914 (diary)  that the dates set opposite the day should be one day earlier. (This is because he started writing in diary on 16 August 1914 and then started at front again SB).
  • Webmasters note. As this is the way it was written and transcribed I have left it that way. However it makes little sense in the reading if you read it that way. The hrro of the story leaves Cairo and goes to Gallipoli before he leaves NZ/Australia.

to go to the start of the diary



1st      Proceeded to Range at 7 am, back by 1 pm. Dinner of 3 eggs and tomatoes 7 ½ D at camp. Rest. Evening playing cards and doing mending.

2nd     Tent disinfected then left for Cairo. Then dinner and catching No 14 tram and passing over the Nile arrived at the foot of the pyramids after a ride lasting an hour, returned and visited pictures, getting back to camp at 9 am. Got 7 letters.

Saturday Jan 2 1915 (Written on opposite page)            Saw us set out to visit Egypt’s famous Pyramids catching No 14 tram and after a journey lasting about one hour and costing 2 piastres 1st class, during which we crossed the Nile we arrived at the foot of the Pyramids. Our lives were nearly pestered out of us by the guides who persisted in offering their services. The first Pyramid from the drive is Cheops erected 2373 BC 3 Dynasty present height 451 feet, a flag pole of 30 feet is placed on top to show the original height. The Tomb of Cheops is at the centre of the pyramid while his daughter’s tomb is 5 stages nearer the top, while his wife’s is on the level of the entrance. A well 200 ft deep is in the centre of the Pyramids. On the top of this Pyramid enterprising natives sell coffee and oranges. The record for ascending and descending Cheops is ? 7 minutes. 

The view is magnificent to the west extends Libyan Desert and its 9 pyramids. To the south acres upon acres of rich fertile land growing beautiful green fodder and Indian corn. This land is divided by numerous waterways for irrigation. To the East lies the Australians camp and it looks a model camp but alas for some poor unfortunate soldiers it extended up a valley meaning perhaps an hours walk from the tram. To the North lies a buried city which is at present being excavated by an American who has made a good deal of progress. The excavations show that undoubtedly that a city of considerable existed near the pyramids.

The second in Sheffrien (? Chephren) built in 5 dynasty 400 ft high. To visit the Tomb of Chephre you take off your boots and proceed down a shaft 5 ‘ square the sides of which are composed of granite which was carted 500 miles to be used in the building of the great pyramids. At one part of the shaft you lie down flat and crawl along with great difficulty. The tomb is a very large vault and although the coffin is still there the mummie (sp) is in the English museum. The entrance to this tomb was discovered by Bangoli 1818. A great air shaft leads up the centre of Pyramids and leads out on the side. Near the top a part of the original shell that the Pyramids were covered with still exists. The Sphinx was then visited, it is considered to be at least 1000 years older than the Pyramids. The nose of the Sphinx was destroyed by a shot from a gun fired by one of Napoleon's soldiers.

Also visited the Temple of the Sphinx and it contained many beautifully polished pillars of granite, a coffin of alabaster was also visited. In many places excavations show buried building and tombs containing coffins. Coins supposed to be recovered from the ruins are for sale by the natives. These are not genuine but the natives swear by them. It is said that if you like you can dig for coins if you are willing to pay. These finds are unquestionable plants. 

3              Attended church parade then medical inspection. Spent afternoon in writing then went on Quarter Guard informed by Adjutant that would be fighting Turks in 12 days. March into hills to act as defenders against 13 who attack us on flank. Counter attack a failure. Home by 5 pm. Spend evening in writing. 

5              Marched to hills and did attack practice on targets with loaded cartridges. Officers shot against NCOs. Saunders carrying loaded kit. Marched home through clouds of duct so thick could not see 20 yards ahead. Boot and lice inspection. Paraded 5 pm. Marched out 4 miles act as covering party during posting of sentry groups. Dug trenches to sleep in. Offic went on wrong wagon. Thwaites captured by 13 Rose 4 am and attacked 13th. Breakfast in sand storm. During march back passed a very large column of ?Tommies poor physique and poor horses. Camp ?10.  Out in desert trenching and visual training. Spent evening in musical evening.

9            Paraded 9.30. High Commissioner addressed men. Pay afternoon. Carriage ride, then donkey and then to town and Old Criterion. Plenty of long drinks 2 ½ D. Conjuror. Sam, Jerry and Theo visited Saunders and Jervois.

12        Nelson day off. Set off and visited several mosque and the Tombs therein. Lovely work. Marble and granite inlaid with ebony and ivory and silver work, silver lamp holders. Visited zoo and Kourad. Our luck has changed at last for we have the easiest day of our lives for we acted as escort to the artillery during an attack carried out by Canterbury. Back in camp 3.30pm. Sam  bad Dr roared at being called on for medicine at 6 am saying don’t come in the night. Capts tent knocked down. Shaved upper lip. Marched to position, dug trenches and then back to camp. Town. Picket under Serg McKie in Heliopolis. Bayonet fighting. Afternoon off. Paraded 5.30. Marched out to desert and by 10 o'clock hard trench digging. 75 yds with 8 shovels. Scouts very good disguises never saw our blankets. Sat round cook and fire to keep warm. Breakfast then 3 miles march further out and did some firing. Got a good sleep back in camp by 4pm. Got Mum’s parcel. 

6 weeks in Egypt. Practising formation for night entrenching. Afternoon letter writing. Paraded 6 am but sent to bed to ready for night alarm which went 1.30am. Fell in and marched to hut in valley, then turned and attacked position on bank opposite pumping station, back in camp 7 am. Vaccination at Evening town and all came home merry had ripping time. Cab, horse down.

17            Sun Divine service then medical inspection. Visited by captain re the row in the tent of an evening after pay day.  Rumoured arrest of Q Master and Captain re stores disappearing. Spent afternoon reading, evening writing. Marched out to pumping Station. Inspected by Brigd Johnstone. M Bereton to pay for damage done to crops by troops. 

19         Bayonet Day in camp. Visited Dr Henry re teeth. Troops marched to hills and fought rearguard action on return. Rumours that we are here for two years under Egyptian Government. Bayonet and street fighting. Visited Dr Henry. 2 pm Decision of Court Martial read on two offenders. Concert in Salvation Tent. Received BP photo.

20         Stopped in camp with bad arms due to vaccination. Short march in morning. Regiment away for the night. Visited Dr Henry in Cairo. Good dinner shouted by Capt Taylor Rev. Got new teeth also old ones cost Pound3.2.0. Tent Inspection and paid , on inlying picket. Sam and Gerry went to races. Came home late or rather early, but no row.

24         Vaccination and medical inspection. Spent afternoon in Camp. Evening visited Scotch Church. Cong 173. 90% soldiers stroll through town.

25            Internal economy. Coy drill. Rapid Firing and lecture by Major. Afternoon pitching two tents for officers and washing water bottles. Evening parade 9.45, bed 1 am.

26            Thwaites cake. Reveille 5 am. Left Section 7 and proceeded to citadel and drew 4,000,000 round of ammunition and took same to Zagazig.

Tuesday Jan 26 1914 at 5 pm. (Written on opposite page)  Word was spread through the camp that as the Turks had got into touch with our outposts on the Canal, we were in the morning to proceed to Ismailia and the prospect of seeing fighting seemed rosey. The news was received with great excitement, much cheering and great amount of music by band. Many made the canteen a place to celebrate the joy in, but most got to work and packed its etc. Proceed to pack kit and did some washing after word was passed round that we were not leaving till 1pm but at 5.30 am accompanied by Lieut Jervois (Jarvis) proceeded to Citadel to draw 4,000,000 round of ammunition. First job was to keep the niggars on the move. Moved off in train at 4 pm and on arrival at Cairo secured blankets and food which had been left there previously. Tea consisted of bread, tin meat, jam and c. milk. Proceed to bed 7am. Packed like sardines rifles falling down on us when the train moved off at 8 pm. A rough trip and a terrible lot of shunting. Arrived Zagazig 1 am and proceeded to station and slept in waiting room. Had a cup of tea with breakfast, also wash. Loafed round station till 12.15pm when boarded train for Ismailia arriving same 2pm. Passed heal? of Indians and also Hospital train. Camp alongside railway station. Wind blowing dust awful. Men having butte races to fill time. Airplanes flying about. Saw armoured Train consisting of 6 trucks and engine, one truck carrying a gun of fair size. The crew of the trains consisted of English, Indian and Egyptian solders. At camp station is the camping ground for several regs of Indian Gurka, small of stature like unto a Japanese, terrible good fighters.  Punjabis fine upstanding fellows.

27        Left Zagazig 12.15 arriving Ismailia 2pm. Windy with dust and sand very thick. Aeroplanes flying overhead. Slept under shelter of sheet of iron. Tea off tough camel.

28            Breakfast of camel reboiled. It was said it was  working ½ hr before it was in the pot. Coy drill. Afternoon attack practice. Evening visited Ismailia. Reports of fighting. Jerry’s 22nd birthday. 

29                 Inspected by stiff legged General Wilson in charge of canal defences then attack by Auckland and Canterbury Reg. Afternoon marched to camp station entrained and then back to camp.  

30            Breakfast bread jam and tea without milk. Pitched tents    13  in row. Afternoon bathing parade in Laka (Lake) Timsah. Bed at 8 after having 3 cigarettes at 6.30pm for 1 ½ piasters. Active service post cards issued.

31                Sunday morning got merry with Thwaites, Wills and Wilson. Had good time, rummy, talking with. Breakfast then marched down to Lake for a dip. Church parade 11am. Lecture on swearing by Capt Taylor. Posted Active Service PC. Afternoon v hot. News of killing by our outposts of two of our Aviators confirmed 


1 Mon            Musketry Order. Platoon drill 9 – 12. Breakfast and dinner of bread and jam and tea. Afternoon platoon drill on football ground then marched down for bath at 4pm. Men disgusted at food and treatment. Saw 1200 Indian Calvary at work.

Wed Feb 3            5.30 (Written on opposite page) Took up position all attached to 18th Manchester Battery. Spent night in No 2 sentry group from which at 6.30 ?? about 3 battalions of Indian Infantry left ferry crossing and marched in northerly direction accompanied by several machine guns carried by mules. Early in morning machine guns and rifle fire was heard and at break of day 6 am the guns of the French warships started firing lyddite and shrapnel and it did deadly work on the Turks who had commenced advance. An excellent view was obtained by sitting on a knob and although one would have very much liked to be having a fly? We were very lucky to have such an excellent view. Breakfast was in full swing when the 18th opened with shrapnel and  9 am the enemy replied with such vigour that breakfast was cut short and into the trenches we went. It did not seem to worry our troops at all although it was their baptism of fire. The closest was 100 feet below us and 200 yards to the rear. The aeroplane flying above us soon cleared out. Morning spent in card playing with intervals to watch flying. A shrapnel struck our trench. Sand storm in afternoon. Food very short. Had a sleep. Returned to camp at 7.00pm and had hot tea. During operation shell fell on cook shop but failed to explode. Needless to say the cooks ducked.

On Tuesday a party of plate layers and railways hands loading a repair train at Ismailia station heard the gunfire and down tools and off but were rounded up and made to work by a party from camp who used their entrenching tool handles as persuaders 

On arrival in camp we found that nearly 200 prisoners were in camp, guarded by Gurkhas poorly clothed. One Gurkha by showing four fingers and making action with bayonet, made one understand that he had bayoneted four Turks. During the action a group of 300-400 mules were killed by our shellfire and afterwards they were cut up and carted off evidently to be used for feeding the Turks.

On Monday Scott Hindmarsh visited us and reported the 2nd Coy doings and it appears that at one stage the 2nd 1st and 13th with some Gurkhas were executing a movement so as to encompass about 11000 Turks when A Coy opened fire before the movement was complete, result the Turks repined and Major Jordan ordered A Coy back to camp. Tommies with a spare wheel and extra horses set out to bring in a deserted gun that was seen in the distance but they returned without the gun for it was a dead horse propped up on its front legs, that had been mistaken for a deserted gun.

2nd       Merry evening up town. Rained during night. Morning rifle inspection. Rifle and heavy gunfire heard in camp. Left camp at 2.30 with pack up and marched 2 miles along railway to Battery Point in blinding sandstorm. Occupied dugout as Sentry group. Received batches in shrapnel fire 19 of 12 th platoon under Sgt Corbett. Kits arrived. Arrival at camp of 9 and 10 Platoon who had been having a go with the Turks on the canal, range 200 and 300. Wounded Ham1 and Williams got a hole through hat. Rifle and foot inspection. On guard. Lovely morning. Westminster Dragoons arrived during night . 12th supplied firing party for Fitzgibbon. Shot by Turks using white flat. Guard inspected Captain Griffiths at 4 am.  Ham dead. Section drill, washing, dinner. Fat, cheese, jam, bread, and tea. Aeroplane practicing dropping bombs. Midaction 3000 dead and wounded, estimated 12000 Turks in action. Alarms and ordered to stop in camp as inlying picket. Slept in clothes. Reinforcements arrived. 

7            Attended Ham funeral. General Wallace present. Finished washing. Spent afternoon in playing 500. Visited town during evening and found that no beer could be supplied to soldiers. Sam’s cake and fruit very acceptable. Turks retirement reported. Weight 10.2

8            Paraded 9 am. Rifle cleaning and semaphore signalling. Afternoon platoon drill. Mail day. Evening visited theatre converted into Hospital. I saw Turk with two bullets in his body in bad way.

9            Morning rifle cleaning. Platoon drill and bayonet fighting. Afternoon bathing parade down to Lake. Three ships passed along canal including Indian Hospital ship. Mounted guard under LC Keen. 

10        On guard supply depot. Shower of rain during night. Transport instructed unloading and working camels for transport. Great trouble getting them to kneel. Inspected by guard by Capt Gresson. Coy out of 7 to 8. Adjunt Parade and drill from 10.30 and bathe in lake. After dinner attack practice. Gresson complained regarding have boots and equipment off. On inlying picket. Attack practice, bathing parade in full marching order. Afternoon digging in competition. A Vinegar’s letter received.

13            Penny’s 21st birthday. Pub open. Australian’s gone. Kit and rifle inspection and pay. Very hot afternoon. Bath and then saw soccer match. Evening up town had good time. Reported 33 men in Zietoun struck off company strength. 

14             Bathing in lake then church service. Afternoon visited 15 boats built of 14.G sheet iron used by Turks in attempt to cross to Canal at Serapeum. Soccer match Navy V Ismailia. Evening visited by Captain Griffiths. During day NCOs of 12th Platoon visited battle field and secured trophies. 

Attack practice and inspection by General Wilson. Bathe. Tea of m potatoes and boiled mutton and tea.  On fatigue at 8 pm. Supply Depot shifting bread and meat. 

Adjucts parade 12 Platoon with 1st Canterbury. Bathing.

Parade, company drill, soccer match Navy vs Canterbury, Canterbury 5 – 1. Evening ? 7 – 9 visual training. 

Marched around lake. Section ????? range judging then dinner in sun. Flies awful but fleas are fair demons at night time. Windy during morning. Section and Platoon Coy and Battalion drill from 9 – 12 in dust storm without a stop. Men disgusted with treatment. Afternoon bayonet charging 2 – 4. Up town at night, good time.

Competition drill on football ground at lake. 12th Platoon represented company in competition, won by signals. Afternoon attack practice. Writing and mending during evening. 

Kit and rifle inspection afternoon. Watching platoon play rugby for their jam. Had good time in town till 7pm.  On way back to camp Couch tried to get away with a barrel of tar mistaking it for beer, result ??

21            Bathing parade and divine service the noise of aeroplanes exhaust. Aerogun mounted near camp. Afternoon writing ? 500H. Evening Thwaites, Harding and I erased  arriving home at 9 am, used old passes. 

22            Practiced guard mounting in Lake football ground. Afternoon attack practice, three trees crossing three creeks, several falling in. On mat for being late. Dismissed. Up town again, good time.

23                Guarding mounting in gardens this competition decided by popular vote 12th reps winning. Afternoon bathing. Parade evening outpost on north east side of camp. 

24                Very hot, in fact hottest day so far. Lay in sun for 3 hours then fired ten rounds, field firing. Back to camp. Bathing parade to Lake. Mail arrived. Up town, had a good time.

25                Off colour. Marched around Lake and had range judging then bath hot day. Evening up town. Several fellows visit battlefield and secured trophies. 

26                Drill morning. Struck camp. Did several fatigues. Evening acted as escort to Indian mule transport to camp station at Vissa Wassa.Campfire concert  Slept in open.  

27                Heavy dew.

            Reveille 3.30 am and marched to station leaving for Cairo 8.40 am, arriving Zietoun 12.35 pm. Pitched camp. Visited by all stay in camp boys. Hot bath very good.  Very windy. Arrangements in mess room rotten. Divine Service in mess room. Good dinner. Afternoon and evening reading and writing. Several of the boys up town.


1            Reveille 5.30. Drill under Coy Commander, congratulated on our showing on Feb 2 and 3 by Major Brereton and Sir General Godley. Afternoon bayonet fighting. On mat got two days but got reduced to 1. Competition drill for sections No 13 winning. Afternoon and evening Cairo and Dr Henry, arrived home to find crowd well sprung. NCOs shouting.

Reveille. 5 Paraded at 7 am. Marched out with Division past third tower. Pace very warm over sand. Sham fight which finished 4.30. Arrived back in camp 8.00 pm tired and stiff. Biggest days work so far. Covered about 25 miles. 

Thurs 4            Very easy day. Feet inspection. Visited town with Gerry and Ralph. Visited bullring and Dr Henry. Issue boots and puttees. Guarding turning out object lesson to regiment. erased Afternoon leave till 5. On the march 7.30 till 12.  Acting as covering party while main body dug in. Attack at dawn. Left for camp ¼ to 7 and got there ¼ to 9. Off to swim and got there ¼ to 9. Got paid and went to races in town in evening.

7          Divine service and marched past Birdwood. Godley pointed 12th Coy to the General. Afternoon writing and mending. Very hot. Evening reading and writing. 

8          Issue of new drill tunics. Nothing doing all day till 4.30 pm paraded and did Brigade marching in artillery formation. Back in camp 8 pm. Hot coffee then bed. 

9          Left 8am for march with rations but got back to camp 11 o'clock. Washing, parade in afternoon. Visited H battery and met Mosely.

11        Rifle cleaning 7 – 8 then off till 6. Very hot and dusty. Lying sweating in tent doing nothing. Parade 6 – 8. Col Stewart addressed the men re training. 

12        Left camp 7.30. Full marching order but left packs off a mile out. General Godley meeting 1st regimen ordered them back to lines to take pack off. Very hot. Nelson company countered out in attack. Marched back to camp. Was hell. Merry lot at canteen.

Big day. Started 6.30 back at 5. Fought Tommies but counted out by umpire. Weather nice and cool in morning. Rifle inspection. Left camp at 11 for town and races. Lost a few piastres. Winners paying 24 and 21 for your 20. Got home in a good humour. On the mat for leaving camp before 2 pm. Should be on guard.

14        Divine service. Afternoon writing. Evening visited Cairo. Evans, Wills, Harding and Boyce saw several places wrecked, called air raiding. Car home. Wills noisy. 

15            Adjutants parade 9 – 10. Afternoon under load. Practiced night attack but had to return to camp owing to heavy shower.

16            Reveille 3 am. Parade 5 but delayed ½ hr because it was raining. Paraded in overcoats and marched to 2nd tower, dug in and attacked by Australians. Back in camp 3 pm. 

17        St Pats Day. Cleaned and inspected for guard.  Mounted 3 and gave royal salute to Sir Arthur (Henry) McMahon. On sentry go at canteen. Joe Maxted running guard tent by Sgt Cook. Brigade left camp for night out. Off guard 6 am, boys back at 7.30 after an easy night out. Nothing doing in morning. Leave from 2 pm. Visited Cairo and went to Korsual. Good programme. Saw very flash funeral. Morning shifted stones round camp. Afternoon short march through Zietoun. Pisted and Major Loach told good tales. Evening visited Zacteron and met Scott Hindmarsh.

Rifle inspection. Afternoon football match Artillery v Canterbury Regiment 27 – nil on State Railways ground. Carriage run into coming to town and pole smashed. Evening at Scolus Did the rounds, motored home, slept in Thwaites bed. Couch brings home another match? 

Section and Company drill and street fighting. Afternoon washing. Mail arrived. Jerry and I got six days CB by the major.  Paraded 7.30 and marched to Ismailia Canal, dug in and went to sleep. Clod fight. Wills got a bad time. Back in camp 4.30pm. Jerry missed 10/- from coat in tent. Evening writing. 

Parade 7.30. Marched out to 2nd tower, 13 and 12 fighting 10 & 2. Back in  camp by 1 pm. Filched water for Glanville. Letter writing.

Marched to Zietoun and had lecture by Sgt Major under trees. Spell all afternoon. Tent pitching for Maoris. Mob merry. 3rd reinforcements arrive. Rifle cleaning and tent inspection, afternoon sleeping, evening letter writing. 

28        Strong wind raising dust storm. Church parade abandoned. Led remount horses for one hour. Afternoon played cards. Crowds of locusts. Evening up Zietoun with Thwaites and Reece.

Morning company parade to fix equipment. Paraded full marching order 11.45 and was inspected by Ian Hamilton. Had march past. Dust blinding men.

Awful sights. Evening talking.

Reveille 4.30. Breakfast 5 o'clock. Parade 6.15. Attacked on retiring force near Pumping Station. Back by 1. Thwaites  a LC. 

Parade at 7. Street fighting in Materich till 9 against 1st and 2nd . afternoon.  Evening marched through Heliopolis 7 – 9. Short of bread, biscuits instead. 


1            Thursday            Reveille 3.30. Breakfast 4.15. parade  5 am. Marched out past Pumping Station and back through Zietoun in full marching order. Covered 15 miles. Afternoon paid.

261P Coy Parade 8 am. Guard warned. Visited Barrage. Very fine gardens. Ride round on donkeys. Arrived back in town 5 pm. 

Rifle and equipment inspection. Leave only to Heliopolis and Zietoun. 9th and 12 th Platoon on outlying picket. On picket at Helmiceh station 6 to 10.30am. Porch of picture show burned down and a small riot occurred.


(On opposite page)

Needless to say the wall was covered with the names of numerous individuals who had been guests of the Government before us. By the pasting on the walls some very talented fellows had spent time in the Clink.

The Menu of the Hotel: 

Food ran as follows

Breakfast             Cigarette and Isspay

Lunch              Sweet Elgaraboyall

Dinner             Ditto

Prop    M De Astardboy

By paying 6 piastres to guard we obtained a loaf of bread and a few potatoes.

Good Friday 0f 1915

In the morning ?  journeyed to Barrage, the city of gardens and it was like old times to be able to have a decent roll in the grass. A very pleasant day was spent and town was reached at 5 pm. On arrival at the triangle near Cooks we found a riot was going on down the street and hastened to see the fun. We learned that on the night before a Maori was ill treated in a house of ill fame and returning the next afternoon with some pals, started a disturbance. Australians and New Zealanders soon joined in and the contents of the various places of ill fame soon found a resting place in the street. It was great to see wardrobes, mirrors, wash stands, beds, clothing, mattress, pillows, come down from five story building and stop with a crash on the road. Willing hands soon had a big bonfire going in the street. The arrival of the fire engine added some more fun for the crowd ran off with the hose. It was recovered, coupled up and the water turned on but the hose was quickly cut in several places. An Australian picket could do nothing and when 20 of the notorious Red Caps appeared on the scene they were received with a volley of pans, chairs etc. They retired a bit and opened fire, killing two Tommies, wounding 5 Australian and 2 New Zealanders but this failed to stop the rioters. The Red Caps retired from the scene. A company of Tommies next appeared, fixed bayonets and loaded five rounds but they soon got swallowed up in crowd that numbered near 50,000. The wrecking continued right ‘merrily’ and two flats were set on fire, A crowd of mounted Tommies were brought in from Albassina at a gallop, but were useless. Shops and hotels all met the same fate and the wreckers secured plenty of liquor and spirits. Catching the 9.30pm train and returned to camp having lost my pals. I had a great job getting back to station and had to take back streets owing to the main streets being picketed to  prevent the crowd from moving up questionable streets. The wreckers continued their work till after midnight despite the appeals of the Provo Marshal and the efforts of the pickets. Only a very short reference to the above appeared in paper two days later. 

4          Divine Service. Medical Inspection for measles. Issue of clothing and inspection of equipment. Afternoon reading and mending. Evening writing. Dick Boyle ill. Blankets rolled in Section Parade. Full marching order in blinding sand storm. Practiced embarking. Afternoon rest. Evening received mail. Saw Val? Mason.

Visited Chas Evans 10th  Mounted. V close all night. Morning paraded and fired up Coy & roll. Afternoon played 500. Evening 500. Hard and Couch visited Mounted, had pear pie.

Packed valises and kits then all spare gear collected by QM Serg. Afternoon route march to Zietoun. Evening entertained several Australians at canteen and tent. Visited C Evans and got plum duff.

         A route march to Zietoun returning through native quarters, crossed Canal and bridges walls and other obstacles several times. Afternoon bayonet fighting, new methods, very good. Evening writing. Dick Boyle hospital. Issued with Reserve Rations. Stored kits and packed valises. Clean up lines. Left camp 8 pm. Good send off by Mounted. 

10        Arrived Alexandria at 5.30am. Large number of transports in harbour. Embarked on SS Itonus at 9am. Left Alexandria 3.40pm.Accommodation fair. No bunks.

(On opposite page)            Leaving Alexandria we had in tow a steam launch and two large punts and these broke loose on Mon at 7.30am, owing to a rising sea. The ship was hove-to and at day break on Tuesday they were sighted and an attempt was made to recover them. By this time the sea was very rough and the wind was blowing some Our ship ranged alongside the runways and two officers dropped into the launch and 3 ? into the first barge about 6.30am. The second barge was cut adrift and was soon lost sight of and the launch and barge drifted under the stern of the ship. The launch was knocked about a bit and narrowly missed destruction. A 2 inch rope was drawn aboard the launch and the barge began to knock the stern of the launch about, removing the hatchways, The sea was so rough that oil was used to calm the waves. At 9.20 am the tow rope carried away and the launch and boat seemed doomed as they drifted toward an island with a rocky coast. Good steering brought the Itorius alongside the runways and the officers have transferred themselves to the barge, cut the launch adrift and she drifted away under the stern of the ship and met her doom by being pierced by propeller. The barge drifted under the stern too and ropes were thrown to the men from the stern lifeboat, the dagos lost no time in reaching the deck. One officer catching a rope looped it round himself and was pulled up. He had a narrow escape from being dashed to pieces against the side of the ship as she rolled. The other was pulled up over the stern. A crew of volunteers was drawn from 12 Nelson and made an attempt to get away under 4th officer but when halfway down the Captain stopped, realizing that it was sending them on an almost hopeless task. By 10.30pm we had full steam ahead, making for our destination minus our launch and landing barges.

As we steamed into the base of the Allied  Fleet operating in the Dardanelles it reminded one of dear old New Zealand. The formation of the two countries is much the same. Inclined to be hilly with beautiful grazing and agriculture land leading down to the sea. Here and there flocks of sheep were grazing and homesteads nestled in the valleys. As a base for naval operations it seems very suitable and contained a large number of transports all carrying their share of men anxious to be into the fighting. Undoubtedly the most interesting sight was the Elizabeth carrying 8 of England’s famous 15” guns that fire a shell weighing  nearly a ton. 

A couple of submarines attracted a lot of attention as they came sneaking along with only the conning tower showing. There seems to be no end to the fleet of torpedoes, destroyers and various classes of warship,. Russian, French and English. The harbour is protected by a series of nets on the entrance for the purposes of giving warning of the approach of submarines and torpedoes. A ship containing an observation balloon passed out of harbour and an hour later we saw the balloon make an ascent.

11        Fine day. 10am Divine service led by officers. Life belt parade. Meals consist of bully beef, ?, and biscuits, jam and cheese. Biscuits musty. Towing launch and two large boats for landing purposes.

6.45 physical drill 9 am Parade full marching order. Rifle and bayonet inspection. Allotted boat stations, swimmers to swim.

13                Afternoon quick firing practice. Morning very rough and windy making physical drill a farce. 9am parade abandoned. Ship rolled very much. Played 500. Serg Corbett and Cook very sick.

14                6 am entered base at Lemnos Island under escort of two torpedo? Destroyers. Dropped anchor. 7.14 am large fleet of transports warships laying at anchor. Came into harbour 5 pm.

15                Morning reveille fair. Warships entering and leaving harbour all day. Several transports arrived during day. Wear overcoats after 4 pm. An Australian pulling up alongside us had some bread and butter. A great change from bully beef and biscuits. Saw balloon go up.

16                Acted as boats crew to landed troops. Spent 3 hours ashore. Tomlinson and Cook left ship.

17                Washing day. Blanket airing. Afternoon went for a row around HMS Implacable. Evening 500 and yarns.

18                Church Parade. Afternoon practiced embarking in full marching order. Evening saw hydroplane flying. Good dinner of roast beef and plum pudding. Evening listened to Australian Band Concert.

19                Went ashore and had a route march 4 miles to village. Back on ship 4 pm. Several boys got drunk on bad beer, great job getting them up rope ladder. Splendid concert by 14th Aust including hypnotism?? Kit inspection by Lieut Jarvis. Musketry. Afternoon musketry and semaphore. Evening 500. 

21          Raining heavily. Lecture by Capt Griffiths on health, food, sanitation. Was very instructive and interesting. Afternoon sewing mothers meeting? Lecture Jarvis. Evening mail.

22         Raining slightly during day. On fatigue shifting ammunition. Got balance of mail. Australian canteen doing great business with NZs. Evening 500. 

23          Rifle exercises SS River Clyde with one side painted yellow left harbour. Afternoon water bottle inspection. Transports and warships leaving from 4pm. 

Issue of iron rations. Bacon, rice and apricots for dinner. Transports and warships leaving. Ammunition issued. 

25       Church parade. Issued with ammunition and iron ration. Left Lemnos

6.30pm and lying off coast saw all the warships firing. Landed from Bulldog 6pm. Marched all over the place. Carted water and ammunition till 2. Heaps of wounded all over the place. Up 4 and carted water and ammunition. Ship firing. Aeroplanes flying. Rifle and machine guns hard at it. Lay on beach in morning, afternoon supported 11th platoon. Evening up on hill on left with A platoon found us our second hill in support. Carried water, dug road and trenches. On outpost with Couch. Terrible gun fire during day. A bit quieter at night. Plenty of spent bullet flying.

Warships bombarded point, destroyed gun that had been placed in position by 16 horses. Navals landed in evening. False report at 2am re Turks en mass on beach. 

Two shot very close to rear and two to front of battleships early in morning. Things very quiet. No reply to ships fire. Photo taken by QMS. Road making and drawing stores.

Hilson shot. Visited beach and had a bath. Fellow Rovary?? Back and boiled billy. Afternoon shifted down to the flat at 8 leaving to take up position on hill, dug all night and barbed wire. 


1          The rain missing?? Stood to arms 4.30am. Straightened up trench all morning. Afternoon out on patrol two scouts and Sam. Place bombarded ½ later. Visited Turkish tents. 

(Written on opposite page) Canterbury Coy narrow shave, bullet striking badge in camp. Shrapnel landing all around us while coming ashore in destroyer Bulldog. Col Stewart killed. Firing by warship makes the air vibrate. Gallant rescue of wounded under fire by stretcher bearers. The Australians tried to land on the beach and had just got a footing when they were mowed down by machine guns and the wounded lay on the beach in the sun from Sunday morning till Monday night owing to Turks firing on stretcher bearers. 

Monday night our H batteries got on cliff. Turkish posts replied across peninsular to warships.

13th Coy sent out to boat with wood and oars 3K and 1W

3                    Very quiet. Dug communication trench. Evening rum issued. Heavy rifle battery and ships gunfire from 7 till 8. Wratt injured on outpost on hill left flank. Rifle fire then spell till morning. On outpost on hill. Very hot. 13th made 600 years but had to retire, leaving hill at 7.30. Reached flat 11 pm and slept under cliff. Heavy firing during night.

Nothing much doing day, resting on beach preparing to leave beach at 5pm. Boarded Grasshopper at 10 o’clock after a rough time barge. Naval men treated us A1.

4                    Arrived at Cape Hellis at 5 am. Marched into paddocks and dug in. Shrapnel flying. Good rest after bad night on destroyer. Artillery very busy all day and French advance 1 mile. Very violent goes at 11 and 2 am by Turks but repulsed ? quite fresh. French and English troops moving out on flanks.

Bullets firing overhead during night. Batteries quiet. Dug fresh trenches. After dinner moved out on left flank. Slept in trenches. Dr Purless stopped shrapnel.

8                    Advance 10 am up to support and then firing line trenches. Advanced at 12 o’clock and then again at 5 pm gaining 200 yards. Wounded assisted. Valise gone.

9                    Still digging in. Heat awful. Smell awful from dead Turks. On picket in Muller river bed. Frogs in millions. Firing very fierce. Water and food scarce. Flares and search lights.

Very hot again. Bullets flying everywhere. Left right flank at dusk and reformed company on left flank. Had to dig reserve trench. Tommies arrived to relieve us 10 pm. Got lost coming back and slept in open, raining heavily. Got hit back of knee.

12                On the march at daybreak and reached camp 5am. Mud and water everywhere. Raining during day. Reinforcements allotted to section. Got wound dressed. Dugouts flooded.

(Written opposite page).            Received valise on Wednesday. Not a thing left. Everybody same. English Tommies stealing lot. 

Started on Saturday with 57 men, lost 3, wounded 26, leaving 28 of us.

13th Section of 12 of us, 1 killed, 7 wounded, 4 left McCluster, Wilson, Ryan and Donn. 

Zietoun                        4,300 men

Reinforcements            800 


on Wed                       2,500 left

When coming down from firing line on Tuesday night got struck in back of knee by bullet but managed to keep going. We got lost and slept in open. Raining heavily, one overcoat between Don Rees and I. On arrival at grounds next morning got wound dressed and found bullet inside underpants. Keeping bullet as memento in pencil case.

13            Had good night in spite of fierce firing. Sun very hot. Things drying. Bath in creek with frogs, washed clothes. Waited for them to dry as all we got. Dead beat.

14            Rifle inspection, on beach for swim but I inspected ruins. All men feel effect of strain. Dysentery persistent.

15                9 & 10 on fatigue beach, rest inspected by Major Jordan. Fresh meat issued, first for 5 weeks, heavy shelling day and night. German  aeroplane dropped bombs on beach.

16                Parade 8 am then to beach. Built up pier with sandbags, fled to shelter from shells. No news of any sort. Voluntary church 8 pm, MA Thompson.

17                Rifle and bayonet inspection 9 am, early dinner parade 100.30am, shelled on way to beach carrying ammunition. Back at 7. Heavy cannonade. MAIL

18                Day in camp. Rest of boys on beach road making. Shell put 12 out of action. I with some more continued job from 6 to 10 building pier and road. 

Rifle inspection. Kids made good. 5 pm ordered to parade 6 pm and marched to W Beach on to mine sweeper and then transferred to store ship, slept on iron deck. Troops raided stored in hold of ship. Got ashore, 7 men sniped round beach. Got shifted about awful, dead beat., Made a dugout but had to sleep in fighting order near left flank. Back to dug out. Made a road up creek. Swim after dinner. Full marching order 4 pm. No 12 platoon to beach. Did duty as outpost to Battery. Left trenches 5 am. Good breakfast then heavy rain, mud everywhere. Dysentery bad. Hostile submarine. Transports left. Warships on move. Destroyers flying about at full speed. Heavy bombardment on beach. Fatigue for 1 hour at 8 pm.

24          MAIL. Letters and paper read. Heavy bombardment of warship aground. No fatigues. Paraded at 6 pm for outpost protecting Australian batteries. Armistice from 7 till 4.30 to bury dead Turks. 

Fatigue for an hour. Afternoon off, enjoyed swim. Shrapnel shell put 28 bullets into Red Cross chap on hill. In trenches and got shelled with shrapnel. 

Enjoyed a well earned rest in morning. 12 o’clock started work on Engineers gear, finished at 5, rain interfered with work. Triumph torpedoed at 12.35, sank 12.55.

26        Glorious nights rest, clothes off first time for 5 ½ weeks. Shifting ammunition site. Shell blew a man to pieces on south point. Evening in trenches one or two outburst of fire including shrapnel and killed 3 wounded on top?? Learnt that HMS Mayday had been blown up at 10 to 6 am. Afternoon cutting away cliff so as to store ammunition. Evening trenches very quiet in trenches.

            Did washing in sea using condys crystals. No fatigues. Mail arrived. Evening trenches fierce fight in the night. Roof of Australian Red Cross show covered with dead. 

            Plenty of shrapnel. No fatigue morning or afternoon. Evening trenches. Two men wounded by shell 5 yds from trench early in evening. Night very quiet. 

30           Nothing doing on return from trenches. Afternoon assisted boys in gulley. Rumours of shifting to Quinn's Post in trenches on hill again.

31            Spell in morning. Messenger in afternoon. No 1 Party on fatigue till 3.15 then drew rations for day and left beach for Quinn's Post. 4.15 I with party marched to old place for iron rations but missed and came over hill and rejoined.

June   Fair nights rest, stood to arms. 3.30am. Moved up to Quinn's Post at 11am. Placed in charge of Howitzer and learnt how to work same. Night in dug out. 13 of 12th wounded. Wild night. Took over Garland Howitzer at noon and took stock and cleaned. No ammunition around. Did round of trenches, stench awful. Had good night rest. Auck relieved 12th in firing line.

3              Fairly quiet night our lads in supports and fatigue. Nothing doing in morning relieved by Aucklanders at 12 and came down to dug out, shifted all over show. Lively evening stood at 3.30. rum issued and cigarettes. Quiet night. Rest in dug out, changed to new dug outs and went down and had bathe. Stood too 3.30 and left for trenches 10.30 am. Quiet day arrangements made for attack on trench, trench and 35 prisoners taken but bombs too hot had to give trench up carrying tipping bombs and firing up bombs which arrived at 11 o’clock. 

Great shock to learn of Don Rees, Bill Dundon, Paul, Bond, Goulding deaths. Hell of a morning, bombs everywhere. Troops in 3 take to bomb proofs? Worked gun over No 6.

Pretty active night but no damage done. At dark Auckland tried to take trench but gave up early owing to misunderstanding. Busy night. Our Coy in supports on road. Into trenches again and had a quiet day.

In evening a Jap bomb found by Australians exploded over us cutting Gridly in leg and eyes, wounded 7 others. Fairly quiet night and quite day, relieved by Wellington. 1st and 13th stopping on for another 24 hours in support. Gun crew also stopping over.

Put in 10 bombs to keep things moving early in morning. Fairly quiet night. Relieved by Wellington at 11.30am and rejoined coy in Shrapnel Gulley meeting 4 and 11 reinforcements. Sid Mason, Ponty Jones, Connelly. Took fatigue party of 8 up to Brigade Headquarters and did a bit of digging. Had a bath and did washing.

Lively night. Took party up on hill to practice bomb throwing. Afternoon mail delivered. Met Sid and Bill Mason, also Tod Callan and F Dunkley.

Reappearance of warships after absence of some time and they did a bit of firing. Quiet morning. On fatigue 4 to 8 on Walkers ridge. Our aeroplane dropped 3 bombs in Turkish lines.

Fairly busy night, plenty of rifle fire. Beach shelled in morning. Visited dentist. Dysentery very bad. Tod Callan and F Dunkley paid us a visit. Our Artillery and Destroyers busy firing. A premature shell landing in our lines wounding Long and Barry. Afternoon a good rest. Cleaned jam off clothes. 

Stood to 3 am and rested all morning. Afternoon visited dentist. Beach shelled heavily. Turned out 10.30 pm and toiled up to Quinn's' and returned after 1 hours wait.

17            Left for Quinn's post 7.45 with Clements, McCusker and Grace as Gun team. Bomb thrower of 2nd coy had hand blown off. Very hot during day. Hard job getting food. Did round of trenches. Quietest night so far. Nothing doing. Engineers improving things in firing line greatly.

Let a few off just to show the Turks we still alive. Visit beach and got new set of false teeth also bathe. P.. of t… ??

Gave the Turks a few bombs to go on with during night. Mail received. At 10.40 opened with rifle fire till 11 to draw Turks. Our paper alight no damage. Rest of night quiet. 

Quite day. Very hot, flies awful. Food of headquarters attacked,  not too good. Turks improving their position in No Mans Land bringing machine gun on to rear to trenches, alongside Patrick when he was killed. Jap bomb short 4 injured. Quiet night. Weather unbearable. Flies in millions, ½ loaf bread each. Gave Turks a big of smack up before bed time. One heard singing. Turks sent messages on sticks. Jerry Harding back. Quiet day but fairly lively night.

Quiet night. Shifted mortar to rear of No 6, also tired an old gun but had to discard. Turks heard yelling and screaming as our bombs landed.  9 – 12 pm. Came off mortar at 1 am, relieved at 9 by Wellington, back to Canterbury gulley. Visited beach, wash and swim.

On fatigue making road for big gun 2 am till 8 am. Got back into old dugouts. Took charge of water carriers consisting of bomb throwers and mortar men. 

27           All the Coys doing 4 hours road making then 12 hours off. Heat awful, flies very bad. Heavy gun fire at the cape. Attended Divine service.

Passed bad night. Very bad after dinner, vomiting and dysentery, up most of night. Saw Dr who said report in morning. Two shells burst in gulley.

28            Paraded 9 and marched to beach, inspected and went aboard cutter then to ship and sailed to Lemnos and transshipped on the Seang Bec Beef tea. Sleepless night.


2            Inspected by Dr 9 am. Breakfast, mild and cornflour. Dinner meat and potatoes. Tea bisc and tea. A long day. Nothing doing. Ship unsuitable for hospital work. No gear etc so far.

3          More sick and slightly wounded, McClusker and Gibbs. Lovely day. Day seemed very long. Food fair but not enough and serving bad.

4          Fair night inspected by Dr and received medicine. More sick and wounded arrive. 6 pm left Lemnos for Alex.

Slept in hammock. Weather cloudy. Ship stopped for burial and operation. Tried to buy bread but failed.

A very close and muggy day. Divine service on deck. Afternoon sleeping and reading. Evening some music. Managed to beg a bit of bread and had supper.

5              Early morning found us entering Alexandria and all day the firemen argued on deck. A new crowd signed on but more trouble recurred so after lifting anchor did not leave. 

6              Left Alexandria at 7 am and had a smooth day of it, the weather warm. An Australian Light Horse Man died and committed to deep.

7              Fine day. One of the fireman took his dinner up to show Capt and was kicked downstairs. Discovery of boys cooking pastry with stolen flour.

8              Very warm. B mess enjoyed bully beef for dinner, owing to the stealers of flour living on this deck. This punishment inflicted by Q MN Serg led to a row.

9               Arrived off Malta 12 o’clock and dropped anchor just off town at 2 pm and reached hospital at 4 pm. In Hospital Ward 28 bath and bed. A very sleepless night. Inspected by Dr ordered medicine and bed. Fine quarters, good food etc. Awful long day in bed. Fermination ordered on ear.

11       Hot fermentations on ear. Lay in bed all day listing to the singing at the various church services held in Chapel next block.

            Had a good nights rest but very warm. In evening strolled down to the store and bought some post cards, very tired as a result.

           On full diet and enjoyed meat for dinner. Very close and muggy during day. Large batch of sick arrived. Dysentery very bad in afternoon.

14            Very tired of bed, but no use grumbling. Food very good and plentiful. In evening had a short stroll and enjoyed the beautiful views.

15                Very warm, several of the lads shifted and new cases moved in. Evening very good concert by naval party including ladies.

16                Good nights rest. Shifted to 54 ward. Received two shillings pay. Evening visited City Vic and enjoyed walk, returned very tired.

17                Spent a good night in new ward and they proved to be a lively crowd playing soccer with an old pith helmet.

18                Very warm day and in evening strolled as far as library and enjoyed the singing at the Church Service. Went and spent 4d of our pay.

19                Fresh arrivals after dinner. Shifted down to 51 ward, some of new arrivals very bad with Enteric Fever (typhoid). Much groaning in next ward. One died during night. 

20                Spent bad night. Usual sort of day. Had a good hot bath. Evening had our usual walk and bought a penny bun for supper. Wrote in reply to HGT.

21                Lovely morning. Received cable from NZ. Took same to orderly room, referred to chaplain but he knew nothing.

22                Weather fine and sun shining brightly. Pleasant surprise a visit from R Wills and E Radd. Splendid concert in evening. Feeling bad but Dr fixed me up with a good dose of physic. Had a bath, Then visited Chaplain re cable, in end gave it to Rev Johnston to fix up. Good night but fellow opposite groaning all night.

23                Usual sort of day, nothing doing. No pay for sick men. Usual walk and spent 6d on buns, lemonade and grapes for two 

24                Placed on convalescent list by Dr Clarke, enjoyed afternoon nap and in evening walked to City Vic and visited the underground catacombs (great). 

A great deal of talking by the patients during their sleep. In evening took a stroll through City Vic and back, very tired as a result, good nights rest. In next ward one of the boys died. Hot bath in morning and evening went to concert in recreation room, a very good programme.

Usual sort of day, in evening visited George Hudson and Bill Hutchins. Spent bad night.

Pay day after parading 4 times, we received our 2/- and went straight down to the shop and spent 6d in grapes. 

Usual sort of day. Heat very great. Three meals a day, good ones too.

?          Cricket match on Guards v ET Coy. Former winning easily. Evening play a few larks on each other, very close, sleep almost impossible.


Terrible close, new rules posted up, stopping leave and declaring the place to be a fever hospital.

            Nothing doing, received proofs of photo3. Very good, ordered 4, money scarce. Visited Bill Hutchins and George Hudson.

3                    Mess orderly for day. Shifted in afternoon into Ward 58. Evening picture show at Recreation Room. Come out after second picture, no good.

4                    Nothing doing except to change a book at library.

5                    Evening very fair concert by a flash party in evening dress suits.

6                    Usual sort of day. All going out of grounds with a view of buying food etc, stopped.

7                    After missing the issue of cigarettes on Tuesday, today's issue got a double welcome.

8                    Terrible row amongst inmates of Ward 58 over the distribution of jam. Evening stroll and then to bed.

9                    Some of the lads fitted out for convalescent camp and left at 3.30 pm including Sapper Hoggett RE and Pte Johnston AIF (Lord Methven). Concert evening by patients. 

10                Very long day nothing doing let down Butchers bed causing great fun.

Last entry in 1915, because the diary entries from front of book have now reached when he started keeping diary on 16th August 1914.


16                Nelson and Blenheim 12th Regiment arrive.

17                Inspected by Dr and passed. Weight 9.7 lb. 

18                Presented at camp. Fitted out with gear. Close drill. Evening route march to Halswell.

19                Hagley park drill and attack practice.

20                March to Wainoni. Dinner of bread and cheese then to Brighton, paddle, back to Wainoni. Tea in dark and bed. Night alarm, march to Brighton and back. Campfire concert.

21                Back to camp. Leave in afternoon. Evening route march to Halswell.

22                Inspected by General Godley. Camp v Canterbury 6 to 3. Lancaster Park

23                Gun cleaning. Divine service. Leave went to SSS Church

24                Route march to Halswell. Cooked dinner chop onion potato good meal

25                Attack in Hagley park

26                Close drill. Attack practice. Baths in evening.

27                Hagley Park attack practice kit inspection farce.

28                Hagley Park, Attack practice, Coy photo. Leave 1 to 5. Evening route march.

29                Hagley park. Close drill. Afternoon mounted defeated Infantry 19 to 14. Boyle played. Leave 5 to 9. No meat for dinner

Opposite page:   Photos single

            A Mitchell,            J Fairweather,            W Fairweather            B Goodview

            C McKay            C Riley                        B Pettered                      A Dryden

            N Donn   J Kinghorn                      RJ

                                    Photos Group

            M Ahern  B Goodview                    W Fairweather

30                Raining, rifle cleaning, good meals, Divine service. No leave till 6 pm. System of leave rotten.

31                Raining, no physical drill. Short march in morning, same in afternoon then shifted camp to totalisator in trotting ground. Food bad.


1                    Marched to Governors Bay and back in rain. Typhoid fever and scarlet fever in Camp. Bed at seven. Slept well. Management rotten.

2                    Management of camp simply rotten. Tram to Redcliffs to sleep out, musketry instruction. Marched to Sumner. Dr orders return to camp, tram home. 

3                    Tram to Redcliffs. 25 at grouping 15 at application possibles 25 and 20. Marched home snails pace. Canterbury leading. Stewart address regiment run show himself, lights out 10.30. nearly riot. Rotten management. Food not fit for dogs.

4                    Inspection Brigadier Johnston. Attack practice. Leave afternoon. Evening lectures on sanitation discipline, attack

5                    Close drill morning and afternoon. Evening … concert barracks.

(Opposite page)   Cash Account

            B Donn   Aug 1911    By cash                60.0.0            (mother)

                                    Aug 1912    By cash                69.14.4.

            R Donn   Aug 1914    By cash                43.4.6(sister)

6                    More messing by officers, no time for wash. Kit inspection. Divine service in Grandstand in Trotting Ground by Taylor, leave 3 to 10.

7                    Packed up and struck camp, marching to Canterbury Park (Plumpton Park Trotting Grounds)  Clubs ground at Plumpton Sockburn.  Camping cooks. Good tea.

8                    Early parade. Route march to Islington Domain. Company drill. Dry dinner. Attack practice. March back through Islington freezing works. Guard having great trouble with previous fatigue party digging holes.

10       Marched to Templeton Domain. Dry dinner. Close drill. Slept in open. Night alarm also picket and sentry duty. Alarm 5.45 am.

11                Marched back to camp; leave 2 to 6. Route march at night. 

12                Battalion Drill. Washing day, medical inspection. Leave 2 to 10 pm. Otago v Canterbury. England v Canterbury 2 – 3.

13                Platoon drill. Good meals. Divine service. Leave from 4 to 9.30.

14                Inspection by James Allan (Minister of Defence). Dry dinner. Entrained for Waddington. Arrived dark. Dry tea. Slept in open after good campfire concert.

15                Firing. Grouping 15 out of 75. Application 16 out 20 time shooting 17 our of 20. Entrained back to camp. Tea and tent pitching in dark.

16                Battalion drill. March to Hornby and back before diner. Afternoon kit inspection.

17                Close drill. Kit inspection. Early dinner. Trams down to baths and back. Instructed outpost dinner. Special leave 5 to 9.30.

18                Washing day. Leave 12.30 to 7 pm. Night post. Covering party for pasting sentries, slept in open, attack at 4.30.

19                Got back to camp 6.30am. kit inspection. Cleaning up lines. Very easy day.


(Opposite page)

31 Aug Pd                                            1.4.0

16 Sept                Pd till 14th                              4.12.0

23 Sept              Pd till 23 –2/- lost gear     1.14.0


8 Oct               Pd ½ pay till Oct 3                1.0.0

28 Oct             Pd 1/- day on ship                 1.0.0

16 Nov            Pd 1/- day on ship                 1.0.0

1 Dec              Pd 1/-                                      1.0.0

15 Dec            Pd 2/- up till 11th                     4.0.0

21                Rifle inspection. Divine service leave 3 to 9

22                Company drill very warm work afternoon.

23                Battalion Drill. Medical inspection. Parade 4.30. erased . no gear. Sam and Don. Leave 1 to 4. Pay. Mob well sprung.

24                Athenic Up 5.30. Struck camp. Day dinner. Entrained 1.30 got Lyttelton 3.30. Embarked and sailed by 5.30. Rough up tea. Ship very dirty.

25                Arrived at Harbour 1 o.clock. Anchor in Harbour 3 pm. Started to rain. No drill during day. Spent evening playing cards and boycott canteen on account of prices. On Social Committee. On guard companionways. 2 hrs on 4 off from 9 to 9. Windy and wet. Rumour we are here for 2 weeks. 

26                Spell in mornings. Physical drill by platoon. Adjunt take part in deck games. Weather wet and changeable.

(Opposite page)

pd        1/-            D Rees               Pd            1.0.0

                        T Couch                         1.0.0

            1/-            S Penny              Pd          12/6

            1/-            D Boyle               Pd          7/6

            ü            D Rees               ?Pd      10/-

            1/-            V Hugo               Pd        10/-

                        T Couch                         5/-

            1/-            D Thwaites                      Pd            -

            ü            S Penny              Pd        10/-

8/5       1/-            J Donn                        Pd

            1/-            J Harding                       Pd

April 9 1915            WA Boyle                           10/-

Bon? June 28            J Harding                       5/-

27    Fine but windy. Church parade 10.15 am. Afternoon wet and miserable. Voluntary Service evening 8.15

28    Parade 9 o’clock. Marched to Petone and back about 16 miles in hot sun. Men dropping out bad feet. Arrangements for leave bad. Good evening out. Pioneer Lodge. Aboard 9.30

27    Up at 5 am. Breakfast ¼ to 8. Rotten management. Deck sweeper. Leave in afternoon. Couch ? Leave in evening. Drydens.

28    Marched to Newton Park. Attack practice on hill also platoon drill in park. English beat NZ at hockey  6 to 5. Evening leave then to Barretts also Albert. Jerry & erased had a good time.


1                    Marched to Karori Park and right up the top of hills in skirmishing order. Evening off. Went to S? of Wellington, met A Coombes

2                    Train to Trentham. Skirmishing exercises. Also firing 200 yds 13 out of 20. Town picket in evening. Couch for mat. Good time and no arrests. 

3                    Life belts issued to all hands after shifting to Railway Wharf. Leave 2 – 9.30.

4                    Beautiful weather. Divine service at 10, collection in aid of man killed down hold of ship on Thursday. Afternoon Alby/Drydens. Christening of Edna Alice, stopped to tea.

5                    To Karori. Drill & skirmishing and attack practice. Marched back without stop.

6                    To Trentham firing 5 shots at figure 5 seconds 2 hits 10 shots in 1 minute 5 loaded and 5 to load 7 hits. Orderlies brought out by train. Nearly strike of mess orderlies on account of order to parade 9 am. Order changed and blankets aired. Afternoon paraded and marched to Thornton baths. Water very cold.

8          Sham fight with Otago Boys on Karori Hill when we beat them by hard marching and steep hill climbing. Attack taking place 3 pm instead of 1 o’clock. Evening with Couch.

9                    Trentham shooting and marking. 500 yds 10 shots own time 20 with bayonet on 5 out of possible 20.

10                Route march to Hutt Park through Petone. Weather windy and gravel and dust flying about very bad. 2 ½ hrs. Evening raining.

11                Reveille 6 am. Medical inspection. 6.15 in Goods shed. Divine service in Town Hall at 10 oclock. Weight 9 stone 2 lbs. Dryden in afternoon.

12                On fatigue party, swept wharf. Afternoon up town with Penny and Boyle. Afternoon tea in Burlington Café. Evening Harris out. Pioneer then Palmers supper.

13                Trentham all day. Patter? Match. Got beaten by D Company evening.

14                Leave from7 am till1.45 when we left wharf at 4 pm and lay in stream. Visited G Harris in morning.

15                Raining lying in steam doing nothing. Wrote last letters. Lazy day. Received Parcel A Dryden.

16                Inspected engine and boiler room. Left Wellington 6 am. Dutchess ?to see us off. ON Quarter Masters Fatigue. Beautiful weather.

17                Raining and heavy swell on causing ship to pitch off colour but not down to it. Rained, cleared in afternoon but sea just same.

(Opposite page) October 16th 1914. Left Wellington in beautiful weather, the transports following each other in two lines of two abreast, the Athenic2 holding second position on left line escort of 4 warships, Japanese warship (Ibuki), Minotaur, Psyche and Philomel. 

List of people communicated with: L (letter) PC (postcard)

Hobart:            L RJ Wells, PC A Dryden, PC A Harris, PC B Fairweather, PC B Goodwin, PC N Down, PC A McPhail, PC J Kinghorn, L B Petterd (2), L Mrs P Hose, PC Mrs Mitchell, L Donns, Ly? Donns, PC McKays

Albany:            L Donns, L J Fairweater, L RJ Wells, PC Mrs Hore, L B Petterd

Colombo:            LV            Donns, LV RJ Wells, PCD B Betterd, PC D A Dryden

PC D   B Goodwin, PC D C McKay, PC D M Brettell. Aden:            L V Donns

Port Said:            Nov 10             L RJ Wells, b Petterd ) posted Cairo

Cairo:  Nov 10            L            Donns, PC Dryden, PC Mitchell, W Fairweather

14 PC P Hore, E Bell, B Goodwin, J Kinghorn, J Craig, N Down, C McKay, A McPhail, M Ahern, F Jackson, Dec 21 Mrs Hore, BN Petterd, B Holland. 22 Donns, W Fairweather,28  Donns. Jan 3 1915 Donns, RJ Wells, J Fairweather, A Dryden, B Petterd. 11 Donns, Donns, Kinghorn, C McKay, E Mason 17 RJ Wells, Donns, Hore, Dryden, Harris, Mitchell, J&N Down, BN Petterd, W Fairweather.24 Donn,  McPhail, J Craig, B Petterd, Donns( photo), Donns Feb 1 Donns, 13 Donns, RJ Wells, B Petterd, B Fairweather, Dr F Henry Cairo 19 Donn, Drydens, B Goodwin, Mitchell 28 Donns, A Pinnegar, A Dryden, W&J Fairweather March 6 B Petterd, McKay, M Hore, Donn, RJ Wells, P Desmond, A Dryden 15 Mitchell, M Hore, B Goodwin, Donn 22 Kinghorn, F Jackson, B Petterd, Donns, RJ Wells 29 W Fairweather, M Ahern, A Clements, A Dunkley, C Riley, C McKay, Donns April 5 Donns, J & B Fairweather, B Petterd, RJ Wells, A Dryden, M Walsh, A Mitchell 8 Donns, photo Donns, RJ Wells 18 Donns, 24 Donns, E Mason, EJ Wells, W Fairweather May 8,16,27 Donns 27 Dryden, b Petterd, Donns, Fairweathers. June 6 RJ Wells, Harris, M Ahern 16 Hore, McKay, Jackson 24 Donns, Petterick, RJ Wells, Petterd. 27 Donns, Drydens, Petterd – on part of cigarette box. July 10 Donns, RJ Wells, 15 Harris, 17 Fairweathers, 25 Petterd B.Aug 5 photo – Donns, Petterd, Fairweather.

18                Revellie at 6 am. Fatigue 9.30. Divine service at 10.30am. Spent afternoon reading and sleeping. All meals on deck. Slightly off colour.  Played football on deck in evening.

19                Morning broke fair. Physical drill at 6.30 under O’Hara. Weather good. Quiet afternoon. Evening watching boxing and whales spouting within ¼ mile of ship.

20                Physical drill 6.30. Fatigue 9. Afternoon bunk inspection. Worked in NO 3 & 5 holds with Quartermaster. Packed cocoa, chocolate and applies. Evening spent watching boxing etc on deck.

21                5 am ? steamer tried to cut through lines. Land in sight. Came to anchor in Derwent 11 o’clock. Came up to wharf 7 pm. Large crowd which were cleared off wharf by pickets off ship. Men left for march. Fatigue on ship for ½ hour. Apples brought by crowd and thrown up on ship to men. Left wharf at 12 oclock. B Petterd down to see off. Good send off. Steamed straight out to sea. Breakfast cheese thrown at stearms?

23            Weather fine. Engines stopped through one boat breaking down. Shooting at target towed behind ship. Talk of strike on account of pack drill.

24     Weather fine. Firing at target towed behind ship, target shot to pieces. Concert in mess room.

(opposite page)            Wednesday (21 October)            slide down clothes line to open boat under stern of ship. Rope burnt some but nothing compared with wetting received by others from latrines discharge. Left coat and cape in timber yard and mingled with crowd on wharf. Then went to 329 on return to ship. Met two pickets, one of which let me off while the other chased me. Got to wharf. Passed through guards but when talking to water meter man Serg and Corp came along, the latter asking what time I went on guard, in an hour said I. They passed on and I made for end of wharf and up the stern lines, got aboard, but ruined tunic in doing so.

Thursday: troops in marching through Hobart broke ranks to receive fruit etc.

Friday : all on parade at 4 pm for 1 hr for six days for breaking ranks. Men talked of strike but only 12 Platoon stuck to last, 8 of 12 did not go on parade, result orderly room. Rees loses stripe. Harding and Couch 1 hr pack drill.

Thursday: all hands to do 1 hr pack drill on account of cheese thrown at stearms? But striking Capt Talbot.

25            Beautiful weather. Church parade 10.30, heard nothing. Divine service in mess 7.30pm. Place haunted, blankets disappear.

27                Washing day. Very hot. Afternoon burial of P Gilphirst of Ruaphua? Measles showing pretty strong.

28                Raining. Nothing doing. Condensed milk Act 1914. Aired washing and bedding. Boxing for company in evening.

29                Arrived Albany 10 oclock. Land sighted steamed into harbour 2 pm. Came to wharf alongside Maunganui at 5 pm. Short march up hill for three miles after tea. Very small and poor wharves.

30                Left Albany wharf 5 am anchored in stream along with the 24 Australian transports not one of them having been painted so they are very conspicuous objects compared with NZ boats. Weather very close but heavy swell on making the task of rowing in ships boats very rough. Broke teeth.

31                Weather very hot morning kit inspection and first crowd inoculated result sore arms. Concert in mess rooms. Serg enquiry re Langs disappearance. Hours for water 6.30 to 7.30, 11.30 to 12.15 and 4 to 5.


1                    Left Albany at 7 am in the rear of the Australian transports with formed up into three lines while our NZ boats kept to their original positions. Weather wet and changeable, second issue of Athenian Lyre.

2                    Medical lecture on typhoid germs. Weather fine. Everyone suffering from sore arms due to inoculation. No noticeable improvement in the A transports in regard to covering of lights etc.

3                    Weather fine. Drew biscuits for provisioning life boats. Afternoon muster parade, rowers for life boats selected. Wind rising and ship rolled much. Joined by 2 more transports and warships.

4                    Left hair on upper lip. Ship rolling, weather fine. Maunganui left course and is only visible on sky line. Got inoculated with typhoid germs. Arm stiff. Very hot in sleeping quarters.

5                    Very hot, woke up sweating awful. No breakfast. Heat in cook shop 135. Minetour came to rear and at 6.30 the Ostererly passed us travelling fast. Australian transports light showing up very plain. Slept on deck.

6                    Arrived. Bedding and bunks washed. Very warm. All men to parade on bare feet. More awnings mounted. 10th Mounted boxing in evening.

7                    Horses washed in Lysol. Very warm. Afternoon spent in semaphore, signalling 40 letters per minute. Slept on deck and had some singing before bed.

8                    Shower of rain 5 am so got up to take bedding below and had bath. 6 am all ships stopped and Minotaur came to rear and left on a visit to Cocos islands 25 miles away. Sunday afternoon heavy showers, men getting shower baths. Divine service 7.30. O’Sullivan preached very fine sermon. Slept on deck slight showers

9                    Weather very hot. Fatigue 9 to 12. Rumours re sinking of Emden. Evening boxing. Slept on deck, slight showers.

(Opposite page) Sinking of the Emden.

On Monday Minateur? Came to rear and after spending an hour in close company to our rear escort set sail for southern direction it was see to see if Emden was lying in the shelter of Cocos Islands.

Tuesday. The Ibuki on starboard side crossed over and set off in a direction followng the Minateur, we then learnt that an action was taking place and at 12 oclock the news that the Emden had been driven ashore to save sinking was confirmed. The warship to do this was the Scout Cruiser Sydney. 30 knots and her casualties amounted 2 killed 13 injured.

10                Don Rees down with measles. About 3 am several steamers whistled and at six an Australian boat well in rear most likely man overboard. Weather very hot. Mess orderlies wearing only underpants to cut down.

11                Came on to rain 1 am, great shifting of beds. Very hot. Worked in freezing chamber, very cold. Evening 30 mutton, 10 beef, poultry and butter and fish.

12                Rained at night. Shifted bed, Star of Asia, passed south. Rained afternoon. Evening good concert. Fatigue paraded 7.30 to shift 4 days meat, owing to second inoculation job off. Slept below. 

13                Crossed line 4 am. Raining heavy morning and afternoon, decks flooded, washing done naked. Afternoon Father Neptune held court. Evening 500, slept below very close. Cigarettes cheap. 

14                Very wet during night and shifted camp. Left Australian transports behind and sailed for Colombo.

15                Very warm. Arrived at Colombo at 10 am, passed fleet of natives in their quaint boats. Natives diving for silver only. 2/6 off boat deck. Large numbers of natives and whites came round to inspect our boats in the afternoon.

16                Awoke by the discharge of two cannon thought we were in naval battle. Troops went ashore morning and afternoon 3 pm showery. Slept on deck. Police sleeping in holds. Anchored outside moles.

17                Very hot, native and 2 children on three boards tied together out diving for silver only. Large number of turrett steamer also oil tank steamer. Put to sea at 11 oclock am.

(Opposite page) Decided to take men ashore for short march. Great polishing of buttons. I got away with first boat crew but got a ducking from discharge pipe. Landed between fort and naval dock just inside left hand side of breakwater, marched through native quarters creating much excitement. Shop open and native painting same. Rickshaws and bikes. Laundries, bullock carts galore, very fine buildings. Had drink in native drinking shop. Cigarettes missing from same, marched past barracks native troops fine built fellows. Europeans in puttee short pants and jumpers, native boats or rather canoes  with out-rigger, large square sail. No wharves for big ships, everything is loaded and unloaded by natives by the means of lighters. The natives getting 4d per day.

18                Rained in night as usual. Also showers in afternoon and evening. Enjoyed usual bath in canvas tank in morning. Dice thrower.

19                7 days CB O’Hara up O room. Hot day. Stew bad, bread musty. Burial Service for Dr Arawa, buried in Colombo. Evening boxing and concert. Strange vessels in sight to rear. Much blowing of whistles.

20                Australian boats 10 overtaking us. Very hot. Defaulters holystoning, trimming, shifting meat 130 lbs. Evening 10 th cock fighting. 

21                Gear on deck, order changed after it up there. Flats ½ mast, man in Maunganui committed suicide. Concert evening, rained 4 am shifted bed below.

22                Very warm, dog jumped down hold. Played 500. Evening passed millions of reddish jellyfish, which in darkness proved to be covered with phosphorus.

23                Land on port side. Island Socratas. Very hot. Evening boxing defeated  Ching. Sea as smooth as glass. Sharks showing in the water.

24                Very warm again. Muster parade with rifles and bayonets. Nothing much doing. Evening boxing, several good bouts.

25                Awoke close in to Aden. Rocky hills guard entrance. Sydney left on our arrive, about 6 other transports in harbour. Troops going to India. Went for row in morning, brought to stop by two shots across bows.

26                Left Aden 6 am. Passed several troopships going to India. Turkish port destroyed by Sydney & Co. Boxing beat Warnock in final for lightweights in 1 ½ rounds. Passed Island of Perun fortified. During night 20 vessels passed it is said with troops for tropics. Very hot. Played cards in moonlight.

27                No matches to be struck on deck. Hottest day to date.Lim?? short of meat jam. Sweat simply running out of men. Good concert in evening, also fish supper fiss & 

29        Nice cool breeze blowing. Piano selections in afternoon in bunk house. Evening 500. Horses been shoed and said going ashore at Port Said.  Cool breeze all day.

30        Rose 3 am and got another blanket. Morning windy. Maunganui and Orvetta went on ahead. Land close on port and starboard at 6pm lighthouse on portside. Rees and Couch orderlies.


1                    Arrived entrance of Suez Canal. Large town and fine buildings. Natives selling fruit and speak good English. Entered canal 2 pm. Protected along banks by Indian troops in trenches and forts under English officers. Canal 80 miles, built by De Lessops. Search light on bows of ships. Arrived Port Said 2 am and started to coal. Hell of noise made by niggars who carried the coal in baskets ½ cwt. Left 3 pm.

2                    Arrived Alexandria 8 am. Left ship at 10 am on wharf till 3 pm when boarded train which left 8 pm. Long dreary ride in small carriages. Saw lot of whisky destroyed at Alexandria.

(On opposite page)   Arrived at entrance of Canal on Tuesday morning to find a large town with fine buildings and nicely laid out paths and road. A place for everything and everything in its place seems to be the motto of the canal owners for all their dredges and signal stations bear out the motto. The canal is 87 miles long and is the work of de Lessops, a Frenchman. The course of the canal is very winding and you see the boats in front and think they are on dry land. A searchlight is used on the bows of each boat for night travelling. The canal is guarded by English officer and Indian troops who are located in trenches and have a few field guns. All along the canal are barges and dredges so it is a costly job to keeping if in working order. At 2 am on Wednesday arrived at Port Said and started to coal from barges alongside. Native men and woman carrying the baskets ½ cwt  of coal in each, up 15 in planks and returning by another. There is an endless stream of them and the din of their talking is terrific. Work was slow for natives would down tools and all make a rush for bread thrown down to them by troopers. This brought the boss on the scene and by aid of much talk and hammering with basket and throwing of coal a start would be made again. These natives are very dirty in habits. Examples aboard ship.

Large numbers of natives in boats did a great trade with the men in cigarettes 50 for 1/-, oranges 20 for 1/-, Turkish delight 6d a box, singlets 1/-, shirts 3/-, coats 4/-, furs up to 2 pound but would take a pound in end. 

Port Said is a very pretty place with fine buildings and splendid beach for bathing. A floating dry dock contained 2 dredges owned by CS. A fine array of warships including a French repair and food ship just landing an aeroplane. Also the ship Swiftsure taken from Chile at start of war, two torpedo destroyers also.

Left a 3 am, sailed down between two lines of Australian transports and out through the entrance to the Canal and passed a statue of the famous Engineer who designed the canal.

Canal:              Built M de Lesseps 4 years surveying, 10 building. Finished August 15 1869. Open to traffic Nov 17. Vessels first year 491. 1913 – 5085 vessels, 20,033,884 tons. Cargo St 5/3 a ton. Pass St 6/- a ton and 8/4 per passenger. The canal reduces the distance between India and Western Europe from 11,379 to 7,628 miles, 10 to 12 days save. For night work searchlights throwing spreading light for 4,000 feet are used.

By purchase in 1875 for Pound 3,976,582 of 176,602 shares Pound20 held by the Khedive, England obtained joint control over the canal with France.

SS Athenic 12,000 tons at 6/-        Pound 3,600

1292 Passengers at 8/4                                 487.17

                                                            Pound 4084.17

6            Physical drill. Troops arriving all the time. Shifted tent. Church parade for ½ hour. Visited Heliopolis and Luna Park on scenic railway, also skating.

7                    Physical drill, attack practice. Afternoon defence for surprise attack on company. Evening visited Heliopolis and had supper. Canteen started.

8                    Reveille 5.30. Marching order 8. Practice attack out on desert formed. Defence party in trenches. Dinner 2.3 am. Rifle inspection. Evening 6. Erased and smoke concert in tent.  Bottle ?  company skirmishing. Rained heavily at 1 am. After dinner placed white stones round tent and lines, devices round tents very good.

10             Evening spent in Cairo. Platoon drill marched through Heliopolis on return. Rifle inspection and drill afternoon. Evening spent in writing. Boys went to Heliopolis.

11            Reveille 5.30. Breakfast 7 am. Parade 8.15. Marched on desert. Built trenches 4’ 6” deep 3 ‘ wide. Afternoon learnt to salute. Evening in camp. Boys on guard. Practiced march past for Battalion. Marching very bad afternoon. Rifle and Tent inspection. Evening saw can can ? ?

(Opposite page)            Monday 7th. Canteen opened and did great business, the men lining up in two rows for over a hundred yards despite the fact that the greatest part of the men are up town. This is a striking contradiction of the statement that the men did not want a wet canteen. In conversation the Australian General asked Godley whether he had men or boys under him in talking about the canteen. Godley replied men, well said the A Commander treat them as men. The amount of beer consumption is increased by the fact that the water is (not) fit for drinking and that no tea is made for dinner. Beer costs the men 1 piaster a pint which is 1 1/2d. 

An Egyptian funeral was an interesting object, the hearse white and red carrying the body in a coffin which was returned after the body had been tipped into the grave. The people danced in front of the cortege.

Our tent is certainly a good one to be in for in Christchurch and Wellington we were well supplied withy luxuries and on the boat JW on the quartermasters fatigue secured a good share of the things that were to be had while DJ (?T) proved a first class hand at picking things for nothing while the Mess Orderlies left nothing to be desired for they proved to be a good couple of rooks.

In camp DJ and VH excelled themselves by landing a cartload of provision which had to be buried in boxes underneath the floor. Golden syrup, milk, jam, lime juice, pickles, sauce, fish, oysters and sardines. God help them if they get caught and same to us if we get shifted.

13                Divine service for Batt on Parade Grounds. Medical inspection. Afternoon branding clothes. Evening writing. In lying picket.

14                Very hot, hard march out on desert then platoon drill and trench digging. Afternoon musketry instruction and tent inspection. Landed.

15                Marched out 3 miles in shirt sleeves. Did skirmishing and drill . Went to town with Sam and Jerry. No one allowed in Cairo for 3 days on account of native festival.

16                Marched about 3 miles. Spent morning in digging a semi circular trench 4’ 6” deep 3 foot wide with resting ledge 18” x 9. Afternoon rifle inspection. Mounted guard.

17                On guard at supply dept. Morning very foggy but cleared off at 6.30am. Called out about 20 times. Stearns and Thompson officers. Stopped home and went to bed early.

18                Foggy breakfast 6.30. Parade 7.15. Platoon drill, trench digging. Went to town. Had AI Came home with D J carriage erased.

19                March out. Platoon drill. On mat got off for being late night before. Visited museum. Spent evening in town.

20                First mail. Thwaites & Harding shifting P buckets. Spent morning stacking oats. Two companies 13th and 1st in camp with gear on. Afternoon writing, evening Luna Park, had a good time, tired skating.

21                Parade under Adjunt for 1 hour then practised Coy defence, also march past. Afternoon off writing. Evening outpost practice by company

22                Adj parade, also Coy Defence. Afternoon leave, letter writing. Barber arrested as Turkish spy. Evening Coy had short march and sent hour in sun and sight judging.

23                Parade of Mounted and Infantry through Cairo and marched past. Bidwill and Godley then through the native quarter and back solid going with 20 minutes spell from ¼ to 9 to ¼ to 3.Bed 7pm. 

24                Very easy day. Attacked 13 in trenches. Afternoon pay. Evening in lying picket. Passed large pumping station, also camel corps 15 strong. In lying picket

25                CHRISTMAS DAY            Spent day playing banker. Christmas dinner 2 potatoes, cabbage and duff. Dismissed 5 pm. Went to town, visited flash D. 

26                Foggy. Tent and rifle instruction morning wasted in fooling around. Afternoon visited museum then Kurswall? Had good variety entertainment, also picture show and saw picture of our march through Cairo on Wednesday. 

(On opposite page)   The Museum was visited by the eight of us on Saturday afternoon and everyone who visits Cairo should make a point of visiting it. In it are to be found many monuments to the abilities of the old Egyptians as sculptors for the place is full of their work, some of it standing 18 ft high and in one solid stone. The Museum has a very fine collection of mummies including those of Ramies II and several other notables. The collection deals entirely with the ancient world and nothing is seen dealing with anything outside Egypt. The building is indeed a most magnificent one and the ground and fences are in keeping with it.


27                Church parade afternoon leave. Mr Mackenzie High Comm (Sir Thomas McKenzie) present at divine service also NZs who enlisted in London. Evening visited carnival at Luna Park, Had a go on joy wheel, water shute and scenic railway.

28                March about 4 miles to range and did 3 classes of firing. Had lunch and back by 6.30 pm. In morning dental inspection surprising the number with bad teeth. No beer at canteen. 

29                Again visited range, two classes of firing. Marched back in 65 minutes. Evening spend at banker. During day entrenching tools and valise issued. Xmas greetings from King.

30                Inspected by High Commissioner Mr McKenzie then proceeded to range and marking. Spent evening reading mail. Mats for tent 217 pickets.

31                Parade 11 am then to rifle range, back again by 5 pm. Then pay and rest bought handkerchief from Jew who was very pleased when we told him we were going to take Palestine from Turks and give it to the Jews. Evening spent in conversation erased.  Jerry & Sam came home very noisy at 1.30.

  • NB            Entries carry on at beginning of Diary  but adjusted to read 1915.


At the Military Police station (clink) 

Morning inspection by Major of Colonials

Ha Ha No shave this morning

He He No bally razor

The Imperial Officer inspected the Colonial troops through his monocle and the trooper, lifting his stirrup surveyed the officers. Result hell to play

 Inspected by Serg Major of Tommies Rifle: This be bolt, this be stock, hold 11 cartridges, no 10 in little tin box and one up spout

 Corp Kellig? 20/-      1 toothbrush                   6 lb raisins

                                    2 Paste               1 shav soap

                                    1 tin Tob?                1/- writing paper and envelopes

                                    3 tins milk                  1 pickles

                                    2/- chocolate                    4/- Ren? Fruit

From Memory’s leaves

I’ll never forget

Three little words


I wish I could travel by letter

 And sit by your side as of old

One clasp of your hand would be better

Than messages written in gold.



VC       Bright red always worn nearest button

South African Queens            Green, white and yellow

South African Kings Karki (sp) centre the blue strips and red on outer edges

Coronation                              Three blue sections divided by red strips

Indian Border                           Green and Red

Somailand                               Yellow and black and green


9                    years

16                Dark red

19                Green


BADGES            He has drawn badges for the following: No1 Auckland, No 3 Auckalnd, No 6 Hauraki, 15 NA, 16 Waikato, No 2 Canterbury, No 1 Canterbury, 2nd South Canterbury, 12th Nelson, 13 , No 3 Otago, No 4, 8, 10 North Otago, No 4 Wellington, No 11 Taranaki, 9 Wellington Hawkes Bay, 17 Ruahine, 7 Wellington and West Coast.

AUCKLAND            3, 6, 15 Haukai, 16 Waitakoi?

CANTERBURY          Coy 1 Christchurch, 2 South Canterbury, 13 North Canty and West Coast, 12 Nelson & Blenheim

WELINGTON 5, 7 Taranaki, 9, 17 Wairarapa

OTAGO  Coy 4 Dunedin, 8 Southland, 10 South Dunedin, 14 Oamaru NO.

Escort of Warships

J Ibuki, Sydney, Melbourne, Minotaur, Pyramus, Philomel, Psyche, J Nesshim? R Archhold.

Boat travelled on

Transport                    Itonus            Athenic

Dest                            Bulldog

Dest                            Grasshopper

Mine Sweeper            696

Store ship                    Eddystone

Gun boat                     Reindeer

?                                  Kahua

Transport                    Seang Bee

                        Ferret              Rifle clubs            Senior Cadets            Total

Aust                 34537              48580              88608                          171825

NZ                    29650              6780                42279                          78709


1          Battle cruiser                         Building

*3         light cruiser                         1 light cruiser

3            destroyers                               3 destroyers

+2            submarines

10                vessels but obsolete

*           lent by Admiralty                     + one lost

Ration per man

1 ½ lb meat including bones

1 ? bread generally about ¾ lb

2oz jam

2 oz butter

4 oz vegetables cabbage ¼ stalks   

 Firing Party

13 private                    19            Serg                25 Mast. Officer               40 Officer

100 Captain                 Coy Major

 1212.4.8.            8 Bells ½ hr                 7

1.5.9.               2 bells ½ hr                 1

2.6.10              4 bells ½ hr                 3

3.7.11              6 bells ½ hr                 5


Joined ? Force Monday Aug 17th 1914

5.3       Left Lyttelton                       Wednesday Sept 23rd             5 pm

            Arrived Wellington             Thursday Sept 24th                 11 am

3.1-      Left Wellington             Friday Oct 16th                       6 am

.5-        Arr Hobart             Wednesday Oct 21st            10 am

            Left Hobart             Thursday October 22nd     1 pm

.7-        Arr Albany             Wednesday October 29th      5 pm

            Left Albany             Sunday November 1st        8 am

2.         Arr Colombo                     Sunday November 15th      10 am

            Left Colombo                     Tuesday November 17th      11 am

.8-        Arr Aden                Wednesday Nov 25th             9 am

            Left Aden                Thursday November 26th      6 am

.2-        Arr Port Suez            Tuesday December 1st                    10 am

            Left Port Suez            Tuesday December 1st                    1.30pm

            Arr Port Said                     Wednesday December 2nd            2 am

            Left Port Said            Wednesday December 2nd             3 pm 

            Arr Alexandria            Thursday December 3rd                    8 am

            Left Alexandria            Thursday December 3rd        8 pm

            Arr Zietoun                        Friday December 4th              1.30 am

            Left Zietoun                        Tuesday January 26th                  7 am

            Arr Ismailia                        Wednesday Janunary 27th      3 pm

            Left Ismailia                        Saturday February 27th      3 pm

            Arr Zietoun                        Saturday February 27th      12.30

            Left Zietoun                        Friday April 9th                                    8 pm

            Left Alexandria            Saturday April 10th                 3.40 pm

            Arr Lemnos                       Wednesday April 14th             6.30 am

            Left Lemnos                       Sunday April 25th                   6.30 am

            Arr Annafart? Bay            Sunday April 25th                   5 pm

            Left Annafart ?Bay            May 5th                                     8 pm

            Arr Cape Hellis            May 6th                                                4 am

            Left Cape Hellis            May 19th                              12 pm

            Arr Annafart Bay            May 20th                              5 am

            Left Annafart Bay sick June 28th                          9

            Arr Lemnos                       June 28th

            Left Lemnos                       July 2                                       6 pm

            Arr Alexandria            July 5                                       7 am

            Left Alexandria            July 6                                       7 am

            Arr Malta                July 9                                       2 pm

Steel the will Present

Look Forward post

?? Kristing Frabiliting???

Govt Policy                  

Double End Pound 200

No 212839

Jan 12 & July 12th Pound3.18.11


         Athenic – crew 150, carried men 1237, horses 339

         Tahiti 4

       Arawa 10

            Limerick 7

       Orari 6

            Maunganui 3

            Hawkes Bay 9

            Ruapehu 5

            Waimana 12

         Star of India 8

Sleeping Bunks E 282                           Mess 243

                          Mounted 268                         366


3                    baths

74?  wash bowles (sp)

Water hours 6.20 – 7.30  4 to 5 pm. 11.15 – 12 05?

1 First NZ killed from NZ Expeditionary Force

2 See newsheet printed on board - ENCLOSED

3 See photo in hospital get-up. JD top right. Also mentioned posted to Fairweather in list on Aug 5 - ENCLOSED


Letters from the Front

                                    23/7/15                                                                                                   Friday

My Dear Ethel,

To start where I left off:- The firing line that I have mentioned was not a line of trenches but a gentle slope of the plateau inland which just at this particular spot seemed to be less densely overgrown with scrub than elsewhere. The enemy were only a few yards away from us across a bit of a donga but their invisibility was marvellous although I can assure you their presence was felt owing to the continual cry “Stretcher bearer wanted here, there and everywhere“. The close proximity of enemy in a way was our salvation. It prevented them from using their artillery on us for fear of shooting their own men. As it was, they had control of the fire and all we could do was to lie flat and let them bang away. We dare not lift our heads but grovelled away as best we could digging ourselves in. It is no small matter digging one self in whilst lying on ones breadbasket with nothing more serviceable than a small trenching tool. By this time the engineers had gone back to ridge but I decided to throw my lot in with the infantry in hope of having more fire. Our immediate left was our weakest spot which the enemy was not long in finding out, they tried to turn our flank and had very nearly done so when a few of us were ordered to support the flank. The additional strength enabled us to easily withstand their attack. By this time the enemy were beginning to show they had a belly full of attacking and suddenly withdrew to higher ground about 200 - 300 yards from us. We were longing for a breathing respite and gladly welcomed the coming darkness. Being the only engineer with the infantry I was put in charge of part of our left flank with orders to entrench as quickly as possible. By this time a few picks and shovels had arrived and under cover of darkness we set to. Digging in daylight being impossible. It was rather amusing one minute a fellow would be digging for all he was worth then the next he would be plugging shots with the enemy who continually kept up heavy rifle fire in the hopes of preventing us from entrenching. After about two hours solid graft we have sufficient cover to give us an hour or so spell although the trench was not near deep enough. But the men were weary and thirsty after a big day in the boiling sun and a few minutes spell meant a lot to tired men. We thought that the enemy would also like a quiet night but they must have evidently been reinforced during the night.  About 10 pm they thought to waken us up as we had not fired a shot for an hour or more. Presently our ears were assailed by an awful din. What with blowing trumpets and bugles and cries of Allah one would have thought bedlam had broken loose. We were waiting for them and gave them a welcome reception. I can assure you they did not reach our trenches by a long chalk. They then tried other tactics to shift us. They would send out small parties of men in twos and threes with hand grenades in hopes of shifting us from our position. These grenades are deadly affairs especially when they lob in a trench full of men. Fortunately our vigilance was not slackened and every man that tried to approach our trench was accounted for although in one or two cases they had crept to within 10 or 12 feet of trench. I managed to account for two personally besides having a hand in the despatch of others during the night. Some of them were absolutely riddled with bullets and died without a groan. To give them their due they are game fighters and right up to date have fought a clean honest fight. I admire them in a way for their gameness but pity them for being so easily driven by the Germans. When they found that the bomb method was of no use they let us alone till about 1 am when they attempted another half hearted assault on our position which was easily repulsed. By this time I was beginning to feel empty about the cupboard having had nothing to eat or drink since early the previous morning. I went and saw the colonel in charge to see if I could get water for the men but it was useless so we have to wait in patience for daylight. We fully expected an attack before dawn but the enemy must have had a belly full. It was thought at the latter part of previous day  (Tuesday) that we could not stick to the position we had taken up but the night proved otherwise and by morning we had run a strong trench round our position. I had intended staying with infantry for a few days before rejoining my company but the thought of being posted as missing deterred me. So about 7 am Wednesday I made my way down to where the company was bivouacked and was greeted with shouts by the boys as they thought I had gone under. My word didn’t I drink and eat. I could see myself swelling and when I had more than a fill I rolled over and slept till next morning. The first sleep since leaving the boat. We have made our first footing on Walkers ridge (as the place is now called). Now our work (the engineers) commenced. For three weeks we toiled night and day improving and strengthening the position and I can assure you it would take a strong force to shift our lads from it. From the Wednesday till the following Sunday the enemy were kept fairly busy. It was not till Sunday May 2nd that we made any determined attack on the enemies position. The warships at anchor in the bay opened the ball about 8.30 pm on the enemies centre and right flank supported by our artillery. The din was awful although it was the grandest sight I have seen. To see the enormous shells of the warships bursting over the enemies position was awful. One would not think it possible that after such a shelling one would find a living thing. The bombardment lasted half an hour and as it eased off the Australians on our right flank and centre supported by New Zealanders charged the enemies position and after a severe struggle drove the enemy from the position inflicting heavy losses upon them. Our losses were high but nothing compared to the enemies. The NZ boys supporting the Australians had taken a trench in advance of the latter and were practically cut off the enemy being all round them. They could not retire and the Australians could not advance to their relief although they could speak to one another from their respective trenches. It was impossible to hold position so sapping had to be resorted to to relieve them. Sapping means burrowing under cover of earths surface. It was the only way to get the boys out of a nasty hole. It took them nearly two days and nights to reach one another sapping from each end. Have run out of paper so will break off from hear (sic). There is not much else to write about but our doings since we landed. Hope  the accounts do not weary you. Love to all  the little ones.


Letter from Bill (William) Mason to his sister Ethel Fairweather (Blenheim)

From Gallipoli 23.7.1915


Somewhere in France                                                                        April 22nd 1916

Dear Cousins all.

Here I am sitting in a stable with a blanket round my shoulders and another round my feet trying to get warm, but it’s the devils own job for it is raining and blowing outside a treat and the wind whistles some through the many holes in the walls.

It is rained ever since we got here and as we got wet on the censored  from the railway here we are still wet and only possess the clothes we are wearing. The weather is a bit trying to those who have not faced a winter for near 2 ½ years. Say we do miss our old friends flees and smells that were always with us in Egypt.

We had a fine trip from Port Said to Marseilles after which came a railway journey lasting censored . The Picton Railway is a king to it. Every few hours the Engine Boiler would get off the boil and the driver going to the nearest farm house would, after retailing the latest war news, come back with some straw to fire up and off we would go again. Sure it was a great railway journey.

France seemed to be just it as first with its beautiful green fields, its vineyards, its rivers and canals and above all the orchards in which the trees were bursting into bloom, but this weather if it lasts will change our views. No young men were to be seen except in uniform and women were to be seen working in the fields and on the railways loading grain etc. It is surprising the number of people in black mourning the loss of someone fallen in the war I suppose. 

Censored and censored in a censored living on Bully Beef Biscuits and Fresh Air is some experience Eh. I wish you could have seen the boys trying to sleep at night underneath seats, in hat racks, on the floor and in hammocks made out of a blanket and tied to the lamp brackets. I tried the floor the first night and the seat the next time.

France is a great Catholic Country and its people very devout. Although this is only a small village it contains a very fine Church and at most of the street corners are shrines containing a figure of the Virgin Mary. Yesterday on the march we passed a splendid full size figure of Christ suspended on a cross. It had been erected to expiate a murder committed near bye and passers bye were requested to pray for the soul of the murdered one.

This sleeping in billets is great, any old place with a roof on does even if one has to get out to let the cows come in to be milked. On landing in a town each Company has a certain area allotted to it to get billeted in and I have had the job of fixing this Coy up as well as horses. I managed well with the assistance of one of the boys speaking French. 

I got reckless and spend 3d on a book of French, up to the present I can shrug my shoulders and turning eyes and hands heavenwards saying Bonsoir Monsieur. 

Well must ring off with best wishes and all the rest of it. Trusting this finds you in good health.

Yours sincerely


? Written by Pte John Murray Donn to  William & Ethel Fairweather (Blenheim)



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Digger History:  an unofficial history of the Australian & New Zealand Armed Forces