February 1915

Monday 1st February, 1915

Woke up this morning and found our ships anchored about 50 yards from the wharf
at Port Said. We remained there till about 4 p.m. this afternoon when we steamed
away for Alexandria. Port Said does not look bad from the water but I believe it is
very dirty behind the front street. The natives tried to get fruit up to us but we had a
guard on to keep them off, instructions were issued to the troops that they were to
buy nothing on pain of being put in the guard room, also one of the ships boats was
lowered and military police put in it to keep away the natives boats. Some red cross
nurses were rowed alongside who were stationed there. They were from the Alfred
Hospital, Melb.

Tuesday 2nd February, 1915

Six weeks since we left Melbourne. Anchored at Alexandria about 8 a.m. this
morning and we moved alongside the wharf about 12 noon. We were not allowed
to go ashore. The wharf was crowded with natives trying to sell fruit etc. but we
were not allowed to buy, although some managed it. An elderly white gentleman
was on the wharf and he bought dozens of oranges and got some young chaps to
throw them up to us, he was a real sport. Some of the East Lancashire regiment
(English Territorials) came down to the wharf and had a yarn with some of them,
they have been here about 5 months. Some of the troops off our boat disembarked
tonight. I have been packing most of the day in the dispensary.

Wednesday 3rd February, 1915

I was busy packing all morning in the dispensary. I have finished with the venereal
patients. I got a letter posted ashore by one of my pals who got off. At 10.30 a.m.
we paraded for rations for disembarkation (tinned beef and biscuits). At 11.30 a.m.
we paraded with our full kits and left the ship and entrained for Heliopolis near Cairo.
Our train which was alongside the wharf left Alexandria at 12.30 noon. We reached
Heliopolis about 7.30 p.m. Heliopolis is about 110 miles from Alexandria. Our kits
were taken to the camp from the Station on motor lorries and we marched about 3
miles. We were allotted tents, 10 in ours but we had no lights. They then gave us
some tea and stew after which we were each given 1 blanket. We then went to our
tents and laid down, but were called out 10 minutes after to unload some wagons
after which we turned in for the night.

Thursday 4th February, 1915

Reveille was at 6.30 a.m. this morning, but we were not called out till after breakfast.
We then went on parade and were detailed off in sections for fatigue duty such as
putting tents up and unloading wagons. I was with a section with 12 men and we
had to put a large double marquee up, for the officers mess, it took us till dinner time
to fix it up. After dinner we were unpacking waggons and doing general fatigue duty
to get the camp straight. Just before tea we had another blanket issued and were
told that general leave for the camp was given every night from 5 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.
to go into Heliopolis, but if we wished to go to Cairo we must apply for a special
pass, otherwise we would not be allowed to go. I went into Heliopolis this evening.

Friday 5th February, 1915

Reveille at 6 a.m. this morning. Parade at 6.45 a.m. with physical drill till 7.45 and
breakfast at 8 a.m. Parade again at 9 a.m. I was not on this parade as I was
assisting to unpack instruments and drugs and to get the dispensary in order. I was
on this work till tea time after which I went into Heliopolis again to have a look round.
It is a fine looking place, the buildings being very noticeable. I had a look at the
Grand Palace Hotel, which is now turned into a base hospital, it is a very large and
magnificent building. The natives are all along the streets hawking goods of all
kinds but mostly cheap goods and anything I wish to buy I have to argue and
bargain as they invariably ask about four times the value of their articles. I had a
donkey ride for fun, cost a piastre, 2 1/2 pence.

Saturday 6th February, 1915

Physical drill again this morning till breakfast time after which I was at the dispensary
again till dinner time. I applied for a pass to go to Cairo and was given one so along
with 3 pals we went to Cairo about 2 p.m. It cost half a piastre 1 1/4 pence in the
electric car from Heliopolis to Cairo station. Cairo is a fine looking place and seems
fairly busy. We had a look round some of the main streets and I was impressed
with some of the buildings. We had tea at a restaurant ham and eggs (3) and
stuffed tomatoes which cost 8 Piastres (1/8). We then hired a carriage and pair of
horses to take us to a suburb called Gamrah, where one of my pals had a friend. It
cost us 2/- for the drive and we did not find the place we wanted, so went to some
pictures. Arrived back at camp about 10 p.m.

Sunday 7th February, 1915

Paraded this morning at 7 a.m. and was busy erecting tents till breakfast time after
which I went to church parade which was held close to our camp on the desert.
After church parade we had a march past the Brigadier General and then went to
our tents. I spent the afternoon in writing letters home and I also had a visit from J.
Brownell who I knew in Crewe, England and who is with the 2nd Stationary Hospital
at present stationed at the Grand Palace Hotel, Heliopolis. We had a short talk
about old times. After tea I went out with another young fellow for a walk round the
town, we paid a visit to Luna Park and found it very up to date. It is only open on
Sundays and I only saw about 6 females there, although the place was full of men.

Monday 8th February, 1915

Reveille at 6 a.m. Paraded at 6.45 a.m. and put some more tents up for the officers.
After breakfast we were on the same job and the same again in the afternoon till
4.30 p.m. when we were told off into different tents. The same lot of fellows who
were in my tent got together in our new tent so we were alright. We got fixed up in
our new tent and had tea and then 4 of us went out for a walk. We went to the
American Mission and I wrote a letter to my brother Harold. The Mission was
crowded with soldiers and a man was playing the piano and the men were singing.
After a short time an officer came in and started a mission service, he spoke in a
splendid manner and gave some of the very best advice.

Tuesday 9th February, 1915

Reveille at 6 a.m. Physical drill at 6.45 a.m. till 7.45 a.m. After breakfast I was told
off with 5 others to assist the Quartermaster. We went to the Army Service Corps
and loaded 8 wagons with fodder for our horses and brought them to our lines and
unloaded them. It was dinner time by the time we had done this. After dinner we
went on the same job only it was for tucker for the men, we were at this till tea time.
We had a little trouble at tea time owing to short rations being issued, we all got up
from the mess tables and paraded before the officers and they promised to have the
matter fixed up. I did not go out after tea just stayed in and went to bed early.

Wednesday 10th February, 1915

Reveille at 5.45 a.m. this morning and paraded at 6.15. We were dismissed after
being told to get ready for a full days march in full kit. We had rations issued at 7.30
a.m. consisting of a piece of bread about 1/2 lb and about 1 oz of cheese also a 7 lb
tin of jam was taken for A Section. This had to do us for dinner. We moved away
about 8 a.m. All the 4th Brigade was out and of course we are the A.M.C. for that
Brigade. We had to march to Abbassea, a suburb of Cairo about 5 miles from
Heliopolis and there we met the 1st Exp. Force who had marched out to meet us, it
was a general concentration of the Australian troops and they looked well, I don't
know how many their were.

Thursday 11th February, 1915

Reveille at 6 a.m. Physical drill at 6.45 a.m. Breakfast at 8 a.m. After breakfast
we fixed up a marquee for a hospital tent for A Section and it was arranged I should
go on duty from 3.30 p.m. till 11.30 p.m. with two other men. I went on at 3.30 p.m.
and found 9 patients all suffering from colds, slight influenza. We were paid about
4.30 p.m. I received 16/- in Egyptian money. After tea was over for the patients we
arranged for two of us to go out for an hour or so to Heliopolis while the other stayed
and looked after the patients. One of the other boys and myself went out and we
met 3 others out of our tent so we went to Luna Park for an hour and enjoyed
ourselves. It is marvellous that there were no women or girls at such a place, I did
not see a single one, just soldiers. Was back at camp before 9.30 p.m. and stayed
in the hospital till 11.30 p.m.

Friday 12th February 1915

Did not have to get up for parade this morning after working late on the hospital.
While we are on hospital work we don't have to attend parades, but as the D.G.M.
General Williams was expected to inspect us we were told to be on parade at 9.15
a.m. We paraded but were told to fall out, so we (3 of us) went into Heliopolis to
have a hot bath which we did not get as there was no hot water till 4 p.m. We had a
walk round and went to the American Mission where I bought some post cards and
posted them, also wrote a letter. We then had dinner after which we went to the
Grand Palace Hotel which is now a base hospital and had a look round it. It is
lovely from the outside but it is wonderful inside. It cost 3 million pounds to build
and 75,000 pounds to furnish. We were back at camp at 3 p.m., ready to go on duty
at 3.30 p.m. Same 9 patients in hospital, nothing to do only feed them and give
them medicine every 4 hours.

Saturday 13th February, 1915

Got up about 7.30 a.m. and spent the morning in having a good clean up and
rearranged my kit. At midday we (5 of us) got passes to go to Cairo. From Cairo
we took a taxi, cost us about 1/6 each to Mena, there is a large camp at Mena also
the Pyramids. Arriving at the foot of the pyramids we took a guide cost us 1/- each,
to take us round. Our guide was the man who acted as guide to Sir A. Conan
Doyle. He took us round the pyramids and explained things as we went along.
The first pyramid which is the largest is 451 ft high and was built 3,700 B.C. The
stone was brought from a quarry 18 miles away and it took 100,000 men 33 years to
build it. We had to take our boots and leggings off to go inside. We entered
through a small opening and followed our guide, it is just a small tunnel running right
into the heart of the pyramid. A good distance in it branches off into 2 tunnels each
leading to a stone chamber, one of which was the tomb for the King (Pharoh) and
the other for the Queen. The pyramids are simply tombs. The sides of the
pyramids are now just like steps, but at one time they were covered with plaster or
mortar which has worn off with time except for a little at the top of the 2nd one. We
had a look at the Sphinx and were in the temple of Shefron. They are at present
digging out an underground city, but we were unable to get in. The pyramids are
called, the pyramids of Charep, Shefron and Mancaro. We were back at camp just
after 10 p.m.

Sunday 14th February, 1915

We had a very quiet day today and I was glad as I was very stiff after climbing round
the pyramids yesterday. I came on duty at 7.30 a.m. and was on till 11.30 p.m.,
which is two shifts, this is on account of the other fellows doing my shift yesterday so
I could get a day off and so I am doing the same for them today. I have 8 patients,
one of whom is a suspected Enteric Fever case. He is to be sent to the base
hospital tomorrow. I had to miss church parade this morning, but it was held close to
the hospital and I could hear as much as if I was there. It has been a long day 16
hours on at the hospital, but things were very quiet and I wrote a couple of letters in
the evening. Gen. Sir Ian Hamilton was here today and inspected our whole
division. I believe he was very pleased with the troops. Our division is composed
of New Zealand and Australian troops, combined, the Australian part of it being the
4th Brigade of which our corps is a part. I was not on parade at this inspection as I
had been on duty all the night before and had today off to get some sleep.

Monday 15th February, 1915

I stayed in camp all day today, I was resting and reading till 3.30, when I went on
duty in the hospital. Only have three patients in today and one who is our own
Corps is convalescent. One of the others is suffering from Dysentery and the other
has a very bad cold, so none are serious. I was on till 6 p.m. by myself as the other
fellow who should be with me is doing some carpenting. He joined me about 6 p.m.
and we had a quiet night till 11.30 when we turned in. I wrote a couple of letters and
read a little. Made a cup of cocoa and had some bread and butter before we turned
in, just to warm us up as it is very cold and chilly tonight.

Tuesday 16th February, 1915

After breakfast this morning I had a walk into Heliopolis with two other chaps. We
went to the America Mission and read some of the English papers which are of
course not up to date, but still very welcome. I was playing the piano while my two
friends were writing and the lady missionary gave me a small book of the Gospel
according to St. John. We stayed and had a cup of tea and sandwich and a cake
each, instead of going back to camp for dinner, it cost us two Piastres 5d each. We
returned to camp at 3.30 p.m. and two of us went on at the hospital, only one patient
in today with slight Ptomaine poisoning so not much to do, everything went of pretty
quiet and we turned in at 11.30 p.m.

Wednesday 17th February, 1915

Went on the hospital at 7.30 a.m. this morning. We only had one patient to start
with, but had nine when I knocked off at 3.30 p.m. There was nothing of interest
happened while I was at the hospital. I went for a walk in to Heliopolis this evening
along with two of the fellows out of our tent and a friend of one of them out of the
Light Horse. We were back at 8.30 p.m. and had a little sing-song in the tent for
half an hour after which I made my bed and turned in. I was up at 6 a.m. this
morning, as a new order has been issued to the effect that everyone must turn out
for roll call on the 6.45 a.m. parade except those working all night.

Thursday 18th February, 1915

Was on parade for roll call at 6.45 a.m. this morning. Went on the hospital at 7.30
a.m. Five of our patients were sent to the general hospital. I had to go into Cairo
after breakfast to get some quotations for copper tanks for Capt. Dawson. I
tramped all over Cairo but was unsuccessful. I arrived back at Heliopolis about 3.30
p.m. and had a look round. I bought a small vase, gold inlaid to send to my fiance
while I was in Heliopolis. Arrived at camp about 4.30 p.m. thoroughly tired out.
After tea I just lay down in the tent and yarned with three other of the boys who did
not go out and I turned in for the night about 9 p.m.

Friday 19th February, 1915

Went on at the hospital at 7.30 a.m. this morning and as I heard there was to be a
march I asked Capt. Dawson if I could go and he said certainly. We set out from
camp at 10 a.m. taking our midday rations with us, bread, sardines and jam. We
marched through Heliopolis and then turned off into the desert. All the troops were
out from round here, engaged in tactical manouvers. We marched about 5 or 6
miles from camp and then sat down about 12.30 noon and had dinner. We stayed
where we were till about 3.45 p.m. and then had word from Headquarters to start for
home which we reached about 5.30 p.m. The Colonel complimented us on our
march and dismissed us. I did not go out after tea, just stayed in the tent and
yarned with the boys.

Saturday 20th February, 1915

On again at the hospital at 7.30 a.m., only had four patients to day. We the 4th F.
Amb. and our camp was inspected at 10 a.m. by Inspector General Battie V.C. who I
believe is the head of the entire Australasian A.M.C. I have not heard yet what the
outcome of the inspection is. This afternoon I played for the 4th F. Amb. soccer
team against the East Lancashire R.F.A. on the Heliopolis sports clubs ground.
After a good game we won by one goal to nil. This is our first match and I played
centre-half. I enjoyed the game very much, but was a little tired at the finish. I
came straight back to camp and had a cold shower before tea. After tea I lay down
in my tent and had a look at the letters again which I received last mail.

Sunday 21st February, 1915

On parade at 6.45 a.m. this morning and went on the hospital at 7.30 a.m. We had
four patients when I went on but one was discharged fit for duty and the other three
were sent to the base hospital leaving us without any patients at all, so we cleaned
up the hospital thoroughly ready for inspection by Major Meikle and Capt. Dawson.
After inspection we made a cup of coffee and settled down for a read. After I was
off duty at 3.30 p.m. I went to the Heliopolis Post Office to register a parcel to be
sent to Melbourne and to post some letters. The Post Office was closed and I could
not send the parcel, so I returned to camp and had tea, did not go out to-night,
stayed and talked war with the boys.

Monday 22nd February, 1915

Had a medical inspection to day. On parade at 6.45 a.m. this morning and went on
the hospital at 7.30 a.m. We had no patients at all in today so I wrote three letters
and talked with the other two orderlies till dinner time. After dinner I went back to the
hospital as we had to stay there even though we had no patients. We had
everything clean and tidy and at 3.30 p.m. we were relieved. I immediately went and
had a shower bath as it has been pretty warm today and then got dressed and went
to the Heliopolis Post Office and posted my letters and a book of views, also
registered a parcel containing a small Egyptian vase which I was sending to my
fiance. Returned to camp for tea and did not go out again.

Tuesday 23rd February, 1915

On parade 6.45 a.m. for roll call and was on at the hospital at 7.30 a.m. We
received four patients during the morning. One of them was one of the boys from
our own tent and he was sent during the day to the base hospital. His case was
queried Lumbago and he seemed pretty bad. None of the other three were very
sick, just slight colds. After dinner we had a grand parade and were inspected by
Surgeon General Williams, head of the A.A.M.C. He passed some comments on
our not being fully equipped and as we were dismissed he complimented us on our
general appearance and behaviour during inspection. He had a look round the
hospitals and seemed quite satisfied. I did not go out of camp this evening and
turned into bed about 8 p.m.

Wednesday 24th February, 1915

On parade 6.45 a.m. and on duty at the hospital at 7.30 a.m. We had no patients
today so Captain Dawson gave us permission to go on a march with the stretcher
bearers. We marched through "Zeitoun" to the native village of "Matarich" about 4
miles from our camp. We had a look at and a drink from the "Virgins Well" which is
at this village. It is the well Joseph and Mary with the infant Jesus rested at and
drank from in their flight from Jerusalem to Egypt. The tree under which they rested
is also alongside the well and is 2000 years old, it is dead now and is propped up to
keep it in place. We also went inside the church adjoining which was built in 1904.
It is lovely inside and has 6 beautiful paintings on the walls, 3 each side, of the flight
from Jerusalem. They are about 6 feet square.
1st. Massacre of Infants
2nd. Warning to flee
3rd. Flight from Jerusalem
4th. Resting on the Banks of the Nile
5th. Resting under the tree alongside the church
6th. Entering old Heliopolis.
It was a most interesting trip. I added my signature to the church book. We were
paid this afternoon. I drew £1-8-0. I went to Cairo as soon as we were paid, with 3
pals and we went and had a splendid meal for 2/6 each. This was our main object in
going. We had a look around and returned to camp by 10 p.m., when I received a
letter from Mother which I read and then turned in.

Thursday 25th February, 1915

On parade as usual for roll call at 6.45 a.m. and at the hospital at 7.30 a.m. No
patients today. Received a letter from Daisy this morning, so set to to write to
Mother and Daisy. Nothing of interest occured today past the usual routine except
for a kit inspection about 11 a.m. Finished my letters after dinner and was relieved
at hospital at 3.30 p.m. Had a lay down in the tent till tea-time. After tea I went to
the American Mission to get stamps and to post letters. Was back in camp before 8
p.m. and did some more writing as I was by myself till I turned in to go to sleep about
9 p.m. My pal is in hospital since dinner time with influenza. Temperature is 92 in
the shade.

Friday 26th February, 1915

Reveille at 6 a.m. this morning. Paraded at 6.30 a.m. and had breakfast at 7 a.m.
with orders to be ready in full marching order by 8 a.m. This referred to everyone
except A.Sec. tent division of which I am one and we had to look after our own
hospital and B & C Sect. as well. The reason for this was that a number of New
Zealand troops had been sent out to act as the enemy and attack Zeitoun about 1½
miles from our camp. Another body of troops occupied Zeitoun to resist the
supposed enemy and our men had to be ready in case they were needed to pick up
supposed wounded. Our men were all ready and lay about camp in full kit ready to
be away at a moments notice, but they were not called on till 4 p.m. and 10 minutes
before they could get right away the order was countermanded as they were not
needed. This is how we will be under actual war conditions. Nothing of interest
happened concerning myself at the hospital.

Saturday 27th February, 1915

On parade for roll call at 6.45 a.m. and at the hospital at 7.30 a.m. We only had two
patients and we sent them to the base hospital and just cleaned up. At half past one
all our tent except one who is in the base hospital with Lumbago, set out for
Heliopolis and we had our photo's taken - 10 of us. We just had a walk round and
returned to camp for tea. It has been pretty warm all day and a fresh wind blowing
the sand about made it uncomfortable to be out. After tea four of us played euchre
just to pass the time away until about 8.30 p.m. when we turned in and went to
sleep. Some of our fellows had a drink and were troublesome last night, we were
paraded today and restrictions placed on our leave.

Sunday 28th February, 1915

On parade at 6.45 a.m. No patients in hospital today. Spent the morning in reading
a book. After dinner four of us went for a walk to the Virgins Well and the tree and
church again. Two of the boys had cameras and wanted to take some photos.
They took one of the church with two of us standing on the steps, one of the tree
with two of us standing by and one of the Well with two of us standing by it. I had
another drink out of the Well. On our way back we stopped a native cart with some
natives and two of us stood by while the others got snaps of us. Returned to camp
for tea feeling tired, we had done about 10 miles. Did not go out of camp again.