Letters & Diaries: By Date

22nd-battalionMany of the soldiers that served in the First World War captured their thoughts and experiences in letters to love-ones back at home, as well as in diaries or notebooks while on active service. The following extracts, published on this commemorative website in chronological order 100 years on to the day that they were written, are from men that served in the 22nd Battalion and donated by their families to libraries such as the
Australian War Memorial
in Canberra and the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. These extracts help to provide a more personal insight into the events of the Great War alongside the more factual unit diaries and individual service records.

Alternatively click on the following link for a listing of the contributing soldiers from the 22nd Battalion or on their name below to read their complete collection.

Letter & Diary extracts, posted on the centenary of their writing:

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         Le Sars sector (with 2nd Pioneers)

20th-22nd March 1917: “Repairing roads where no-man’s land had been. Spare time looked at J trenches very bad state. Too much smell. Saw aeroplane which had belonged to Rupert of Bavaria – [pilot] was taken prisoner, wounded.”

18th March 1917: “Making dugouts at Butte de Warlencourt.”

17th March 1917: “Working out on main road at top of ridge and saw Bapaume for first time still burning. See the flames at night 10 miles away.”

14th March 1917: “Working on destroyed roads where Germans have evacuated.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                             16th February 1917 – London

“I have been to the theatre parties dinners and for taxi drives and in the tube railways. I am getting an expert on the moving stairs, the tubes are very handy you can get to any part of London in a short time. The people are very good to us chaps on crutches, if they see us walking along the street they want to call a taxi for us.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                          12th February 1917 – Le Sars sector (with 2nd Pioneers)

“Working out in front line on frozen ground after a march there of 5 miles there and back again.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                        3rd February 1917 – Le Sars sector (with 2nd Pioneers)

“Marched into Contalmaison from Fricourt.”

Captain WM BRAITHWAITE, MC:         12th January 1917 – Somme

“It is very cold here. Impossible to obtain coal and other fire materials scarce, so we do not know what a fire is. Great writing but my hands are frozen. There is not much to tell you mum….daily routine with not much happening in between and we don’t get out of camp much for incidents to happen.

I will try and give you some idea of my present abode. Imagine the West Melbourne swamp for 10 miles. Then in the wettest and muddiest patch dig a trench, then make a dugout by digging out of the side of  the trench a couple of square feet and putting a piece of iron over the open space. I must mention the swamp must have shell holes in every available inch. Holes average diameter 6 feet. The highest temperature since I got up here should be somewhere in the neighbourhood of 30 degrees [Fahrenheit]. Water in shell holes is frozen all the time and now I hasten to inform you it is snowing. All the time shells are going both ways. The dugout dodge is a great idea. The floor is a waterproof sheet. I am above the average height and cannot sit straight in it. It is about 2 feet high. It is built for three and the legs of any person will not fit in it so we are really sitting on the ground with our legs out in the snow or rain or just with a piece of iron over our heads. But enough of it. It is impossible to imagine the frightful ruin and devastation that is everywhere on this battlefield and war is No Good! Rotten idea I think.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                           9th January 1917 – 2nd AAH, Southall, England

“Just a line to let you know that I have had another operation and doing well now. It was done on the 2nd they cut my leg all round the edge where it was not healing very quickly pulled it together and sewed it.”

861 L-Cpl GB Muir:                                   7th January 1917 – Flers sector

“We had to have a credit £5 on our book before we could get English leave. That is the reason I was so long getting my leave. [note: letters from other soldiers thank relatives for sending £5]

I think mother asked me something of Les Taylor [5th/22nd]. Well as far as I know he was killed at Pozieres on 5th Aug, being hit on the head by a piece of shell which penetrated his brain. He was one of the best mates I had since I came to France.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         31st December 1916 – Flers sector (with 2nd Pioneers)

“Working making new road instead of old near Ginchy. Had severe cold for about 3 weeks and did camp duty. Had a beer on Christmas Day. Had a holiday. Last day of year had a good bath and changed.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                           28th December 1916 – 2nd AAH, Southall, England

“Just to let you know that I am having a great time. I had dinner at the hospital and it was very good, we had roast turkey, ham, peas, potatoes, then a pudding plenty of fruit nuts dates. I was nearly forgetting a small bottle of beer each.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                           23rd December 1916 – 2nd AAH, Southall, England

“Just a few lines to let you know that I am doing well. The Sister at Wharncliffe sent me a nice Christmas box a big round tin of short bread and a box of 50 cigarettes, the short bread was lovely.”

Captain WM BRAITHWAITE, MC          21st December 1916 – France

“There is one lad in my Company who has a girl in Boulogne, three in England, and two in Australia. He writes to them in terms of undying affection and he really must have a very lively brain to keep each romance separate.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                           14th December 1916 – Hospital, England

[transfer to 2nd Australian Auxiliary Hospital, Southall] “This is not much of a hospital it has been an old school and very cold I got here about 2 o’clock I was downhearted at the dismal look of the place that I went to bed at 3 o’clock. A doctor or sister did not come, never came near me until next morning about 11 o’clock and my leg had not been dressed since Tuesday night (2 days). I can tell you I never felt so home sick in all my life as I have today. One never realises a good place until you leave it.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                           8th December 1916 – Hospital, England

[talking about life in Sheffield] “There are women conductors on the trams, women drive milk carts, clean the shop windows and do the bill sticking on the hoardings and lots of other things. I suppose it will be same in Australia before long.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                           28th November 1916 – Hospital, England

“It is terrible about those hospital ships being sunk there were some sisters from this hospital on the Britannic and the Britannic was in Lemnos Island last Christmas she was one of the biggest ships afloat [sister ship of the Titanic, sunk by a mine on 21st November 1916]

2008 Private R SMITH:                           23rd November 1916 – Hospital, England

[letter to Phil, others were to mum] “It is marvellous how I am alive today as men were killed each side of me by the same shell so I am not a bit downhearted at losing my leg, although it is a pity it is off, but I never did expect to come through a war like this without getting hit sometime. Pozieres was just a hell, the trenches were full of killed Germans and our own as well we were falling over them in the dark, and they had been dead for days, so you can guess how they smelt, I never want to see anything like it again. Well I am addressing this letter to Normandy St, as there is no need to keep anything from my mother, as I am quite alright.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         Flers sector (with 2nd Pioneers)

23rd November 1916: “Working on railways making a station and unloading trucks.”

19th November 1916: “Left camp at 2pm to dig communication trench. Out there about 1 hour when we were spotted and shelled out. Got out knee deep in mud and home at 11pm.”

16th November 1916: “Went out on railway line behind front line. Fritz put over gas shells.”

14th November 1916: “Got up at 2am to carry water and rations to trenches a distance of about 4 miles. Stayed there all day giving out tucker to the boys as they came out of the line.

6.50am. Stunt going on. All artillery opened up together. About 4 minutes later heard machine gun fire, evidently enemy opposing first line. Air is thick with smoke and have all the noise of all our artillery behind us and enemy up in front. More machine guns opening out. Enemy putting over shrapnel. Our own artillery still firing. Plenty of machine guns in action as well as heavy stuff. 8.45am action closing and already wounded are coming past. 12am stunt over but still plenty of artillery and machine gun fire. Our men are coming out, mud from head to foot and some have had to abandon rifles, water-bottles and food to get out of the bogs. We took 3 lines, but had to retire to No.2 line of trench. Our company suffered 24 casualties and A Coy 26 in killed and wounded. We advanced to our position dug under shell and machine gun fire until orders came to withdraw. Most of our lads were binding up the wounded for 2-3 hours later.”

13th November 1916: “Our company left camp at 6pm but my boots were too bad [for me] to accompany them and I did camp fatigue.”

12th November 1916: “Went out to trenches to dig hop over trenches in no man’s land. Our own artillery were putting shells on us. Some of the trenches were knee deep in mud and dead lying all over the place. Were out from 2pm to 2am next morning.”

5th November 1916: “Working on destroyed roads and knee deep in mud. Had sheepskin vests issued.”

861 L-Cpl GB Muir:                                   2nd November 1916 – Flers sector

“It is almost impossible to move on the roads here without going over ones boots in mud and slush. I have seen troops moving out of the trenches one mass of mud from feet to head.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         30th October 1916 – Flers sector

“Left camp and marched to Longueval. Rained all day.”

861 L-Cpl GB Muir:                                   29th October 1916 – In billets, behind the Somme

“I came pretty near reaching my end a few days before we left the trenches [Ypres Sector]. I was on ration fatigue going up to the front line carrying a petrol tin of water in each hand when a shell lobbed at my feet and the explosion hurled me in the air. I can tell you it gave me a good shakeup and I was as deaf as a post for a couple of days but otherwise unharmed. One of the tins I was carrying was blown in half. The other could not be found.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                              24th September 1916 – Wharncliffe War Hospital, Sheffield

“I had hopes of being home for Christmas dinner but I do not think that I can as I have to stay in this hospital (Wharncliffe War Hospital Sheffield) where they fix artificial legs. One of the Army Medical men at this hospital was telling me that he saw a fellow with one of these legs and he said that you could not tell that he had an artificial leg and he could get about as well as anyone with two good legs so that is something to look forward to. There are a lot of us fellows here with legs and arms off. There are a good many Australians too.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         Move to Ypres sector

20th September 1916: Continued working on baths. Had a bath and clean clothing

19th September 1916: Working on baths in Ypres

15th September 1916: Left camp to work in trenches. Shelled with trench mortars during gas alarm and rain

12th September 1916: Left Montreal Camp and marched to Ypres. It looks like every house in for miles around has been shelled and knocked to pieces. A big city.

10th September 1916: Left Poperinghe and marched to Montreal Camp and had hot bath and clean clothing. First since leaving Neuve Eglise

2008 Private R SMITH:                              7th September 1916 – 26th General Hospital, Camiers

“Just a few lines to let you know that I have some bad news for you I have been under four operations with my leg and at the last they had to cut it off above the knee. It was either lose my leg or go under myself. But I am considering myself lucky that I got away from such a place as we were in. I am getting on alright now. The doctor said that I will soon be able to travel so that means that I will be going to England and then I have a chance of being back in Australia by Christmas.”

Lieutenant WGM CLARIDGE:                    10th August 1916 – Letter from No.4 London General Hospital, Denmark Hill (transferred to 8th Battalion)

“After your loving words [previous letter] I could not have turned coward, though God knows what we went through, was Hell itself. We just grit our teeth and go ahead and do our job. I am not going to tell a lie and say I wasn’t afraid because I was and who wouldn’t be with Death grinning at you all from all round and hellish 5.9 shells shrieking through the air and shrapnel dealing death all round. I don’t know how I stood it so long without breaking but…I knew you would be ashamed if I had played coward, so I kept on at the head of my platoon from Sunday night 23rdJuly till Tuesday afternoon. I wasn’t touched although I was buried three times. I was very thankful to get my wound as it got me out of the firing line for a rest. Australia may well be proud of the part its boys played in the taking of Pozieres and it was no light job for the Germans had made it a fortress as it is on a plateau had orders to hold it all costs. It was the first time they had come into close contact with Australians and by Heavens they won’t forget it. Our boys went straight at them with the bayonet, in perfect order, no mad rush, and no prisoners were taken and very few Huns got away, they were simply wiped out by our boys and we took the village and will continue to hold it. You can tell all people that Pozieres ranks with Gallipoli, so is that little ruined village in Picardy to the Australians and I am proud to have done my job and been wounded there. Your dear letter helped me through all the trials of the battle and I am very grateful to you for all your loving thoughts.

We heard the 1st and 3rd Brigades do their attack on Pozieres at 5am on the Sunday morning we were moved up to support. On Sunday night at 9 pm we were launched on an attack to clear all the Huns out of Pozieres and this we did with no trouble, he wouldn’t fight but just ran for it. All this time from 7am on Sunday morning we had been under shell fire. Early on Monday morning the old Hun lost his temper and began to throw things about and didn’t it rain shells, it wasn’t nice squatting in a crater hole and dodging them. We hung on there till Tuesday and then more shelling till 4pm when I got hit and so that ended the show as far as I was concerned. I had to stay there till 7pm no stretchers and no stretcher bearers and 73 other wounded.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                             9th August 1916 – 26th General Hospital, Camiers

“Now I will tell you the different parts I got wounded: in the head, through the left shoulder and forearm, the left thigh broken and two wounds, a wound in the chest and another on the right leg, but I am getting on fine and there is no need for you to worry. PS Excuse the writing as I am laying down in bed.”

Major MN MacKAY:                                  8th August 1916 – Pozieres  

[Letter from brother Eric] “The sad news about Dock will have reached you long before this does, but in all probability you would have received his particulars. We were in the front trenches for a few days the first time and although Dock was buried several times he got out of it safely. He did some splendid work in those few days and for it was recommended for a DSO. After several days of comparative safety and quiet they went right up again and charged on the night of 4th August. Dock led the first half Battalion and was killed outright by the machine guns while crossing no-man’s land. His body was brought in from there and would be buried behind our original line. I saw him last in the afternoon before they went up. Two of us were left behind and Dock said he would be better pleased if I stayed back. He seemed then to have an idea that he wouldn’t get through and said one of us was enough to be in it.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         4th August 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, Pozieres front line

“Followed up Infantry in charge and dug new communication trench up to the new line.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       4th August 1916 – Pozieres front line

“We had a few hours spell, and then had to assemble for the attack tonight. At 18:00 we moved up to attack but the Germans had a barrage of fire around us, we suffered heavy casualties and were held up, but at 21:15 we rushed to attack. We got safely to the first line driving the Hun out then our artillery lifted to their 2nd line, a few minutes later we rushed the second line, but our men were falling fast, for Fritz maintained a heavy artillery and machine gun fire. Eventually we reached the 2nd line, so after a few minutes of hand to hand fighting we cleared the line of them, capturing many prisoners, our artillery then put a barrage of fire around us, and then we dug in. Fritz counter attacked three times but our lads would not leave. At 04:00 [5th Aug] one of our own shells hit me in the jaw.” [Pte Findlay was evacuated wounded to England before returning to Australia and discharged in June 1917]

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       3rd August 1916 – Pozieres support, Sausage Valley

“We went into No-Mans land and dug a shelter trench [Jumping Off Trench] to attack from. Fritz heavily shelled us, we had a few casualties, it was very hard work for we had to complete it, it meant working hard all night, so by the time we finished we are completely knocked out.”

Major MN MacKAY:                                  31st July 1916 – Pozieres support, Sausage Valley 

“I just can’t write a letter at present but I must let you have a short note. We are out for a bit after the three most trying days and nights I have yet experienced. We go in again tomorrow night.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       31st July 1916 – Pozieres support, Sausage Valley

“We received reinforcements to build us up a bit. The smell and dead men about is awful for we cannot bury them.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                             30th July 1916 – Hospital, Camiers

[letter from Sister Cunningham, 22 General Hospital, Camiers] “I am writing to let you know that your son Pte Smith, arrival at our hospital two days ago, he is quite badly wounded both legs and one arm and chest but is doing very well, and I do not think there is any doubt of his early recovery. He is much better today than when he came in.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         30th July 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, Pozieres front line

“Digging communication trenches, artillery very heavy on this front. Saw sensational shelling of our artillery. [Shelling] On road by Huns. Working around Pozieres on new captured ground.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       29th July 1916 – Pozieres front line

“We dug in, but the Hun blew us out of it, for three days we were digging and carrying our chaps out, the 7th Brigade and half of our Brigade charged on the 28th. Our Bgde reached their objective but the 7th retired we are cut to pieces, hardly any men left, hanging on to our positions, our nerves are all gone, for we have had no sleep.

We had to leave for the support line and retire for we are cut to pieces, the boys, what is left of them are done, I am played out, and we did what we set out to do, so we are now having a rest behind the lines. We have over a 1,000 guns here, the din and row is awful, I shall be glad to get out of it.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         29th July 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, Pozieres front line

“Out working, dead and equipment lying everywhere and destroyed German guns.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         28th July 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, heading to Pozieres

“Left for trenches, passed through Albert and camped at Contalmaison.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       26th July 1916 – Heading to Pozieres

“At 1800 we left the brick kilns for the firing lines eight miles. The Huns heavily shelled us heavily going in, it was an awful sight, dead men laying everywhere.”

Major MN MacKAY:                                   26th July 1916 – Heading to Pozieres

[Diary] “Got orders to get into fighting order. All valises etc to be left behind. With them I am leaving my diary, as it has been subject to no censorship regulations.”

[Letter] “Just a very short note written out in the open amid a good deal of bustle preparation on the eve of our entry into the big push. Our chance to prove ourselves has come at last – not for my part that I have been eagerly looking forward to it – but now that it has come I trust we may all prove ourselves worthy of the name of our troops made for Australia in their landing at Anzac. May God be with you all in your present anxiety for us both and may He bless us give us strength and courage to face all that may be ahead of us – and if it is Hiss Will may we be spared to return safe and sound to you all – and may the victorious peace for which we are all longing soon be ours.”

Major MN MacKAY:                                   22nd July 1916 – Lealvillers, Somme

“I am sorry I have so little in the way of news but it is impossible to say much at this stage. If it is our lot to do something here I hope and trust we may acquit ourselves as we will be expected to do with the confidence that is felt in us will not prove to be misplaced. We are naturally all conscious to come through this terrible business and to see a victorious peace – may we all be able to do our utmost to bring about that for which we are all so anxious and may we have the strength and courage to face all that may be ahead of us and prove ourselves worthy of the name that our men made for Australia in the landing at Anzac.”

1656 Sergeant AW BRADLEY:                21st July 1916 – Lealvillers, Somme

“I believe the 1st Division has gone into action and I fancy we shall be on their heels very shortly.” [Last diary entry: Sgt AW Bradley reported missing 5th August 1916]

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       7th July 1916 – Reserve Line, Bois Grenier

“Arrival of the 9th reinforcement.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                         1st July 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, Bois Grenier

“Out at trenches, plenty of artillery and rain.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       29th June 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

“Three hundred of the Brigade are raiding at night, the largest to date. At 2400 the artillery opened up, and the Germans replied smashing the parapets. Our raiding party rushed the trenches with full vigour and the slaughter commenced, covered with blood and blackened faces the raiders return under heavy fire leaving the German trench with every German killed, their brains knocked out. The result was 100 Germans killed also two officers and we took six prisoners. Our casualties were eight killed and 17 wounded.

The 22nd Battalion have suffered the heaviest bombardment of any Australian Battalion; it has been 10 days and nights of bombardment.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                             26th June 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

[example of censoring that the Officers had to perform to the letters being sent home – this activity was one of their most tiresome of jobs]

“We are having a rough time in the trenches now, so far we had _________  _____ and a ________  _________ in B Company alone, and we have only been in a few days. There is one _________ ___________ _________ ________ deep and ________ feet wide a _________ _________ ________ came over and dug it up, and hundreds of smaller ones.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                      25th June 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

“Heavy German artillery. A great number of our chaps go away with shell shock. This is the fifth day of bombardment which has practically been continual. Trench raid arranged for the night.”

524 Private FC RUSSELL:                      23rd June 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

Story from Ian Russell as recounted by his father Fred Russell, a Signaller with the 22nd Battalion, regarding events on 23 June 1916 near Armentieres:

“For about an hour and a half the shelling lasted and then gradually died down. The worst of it was during the last 10 minutes during which time one German gun kept pounding away at our position. We could hear the guns fire then the shell coming and then the crash of the burst somewhere about our lines. This was easily the worst sensation of all to hear the shell coming over and then to have it burst right overhead. 

During the bombardment our telephone line had been cut, so as soon as we could get out, McCormack and I set out to find the break and repair it. We had only gone out about 50 yards along the line and were up to our knees in long wet grass which covered old shell holes and barbed –wire, when the Hun opened up another bombardment more furious than the last. As we were without any cover or protection where we were we had to make a wild rush for the dugout again which we safely reached much to the relief of the chaps therein who were wondering if we had been caught by a shell. We were not exactly pleased to find out when we did get back that our trouble had been fruitless as we were still out of communication which meant we would be called out again to venture out to find it, a job we did not particularly relish. 

So when again the opportunity offered out we went along the  wire to repair breaks. This time we traversed over 200 yards along it repairing breaks and making it useable again when once again a bombardment started. This time we were well away from any cover at all , out in the middle of a grass paddock and the nearest cover a dugout about 150 yards away so we made a sprint for that. We made it safely. We later found our labours and scares had been rewarded and that communications had been  established.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                      23rd June 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

“Germans active with artillery, bombs, machine guns, we had casualties.”

Major MN MacKAY:                                  22nd June 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

“At 4 o’clock heavy bombardment by enemy began very suddenly. Found all wires cut. Tried to get artillery retaliation. Shells bursting everywhere – heaviest bombardment I have yet experienced. Bombardment lasted ‘til 4.50. Fifty minutes of hell. No casualties in D Coy – 3 for battalion.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                        18th June 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, Bois Grenier

“Air fights and saw church destroyed by artillery.”

2nd Lieutenant CF YEADON, MC:        17th June 1916 – Reserve Line, Bois Grenier

“What grand news about the Russians [Brusilov offensive on the Eastern Front] they seem to have more than making up from last year’s retreat in fact everything seems to be going on to our advantage and sometimes I do not think it will be very long before they [Germans] are trying to call for peace.” [This was a common sentiment in letters written at this time]

400 Private L HICKMAN:                        15th June 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, Bois Grenier

“Heavy bombardment at night. Gas alarm.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                       10th June 1916 – 2nd Pioneers, Bois Grenier

“Went to see old 22nd Battalion.” [having been transferred to 2nd Pioneers]

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       6th June 1916 – In Reserve, Bois Grenier

“Australians raided three trenches, killed about 60 Germans, taking 3 prisoners.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       1st June 1916 – In Reserve, Bois Grenier

“Inspection by PM Hughes and Fisher, and Gen Birdwood.”

Major MN MacKAY:                                   1st June 1916 – In Reserve, Bois Grenier

“Inspection by Mr Hughes and Mr Fisher, with Birdwood, Legge and Johnson. Three cheers for Hughes, Birdwood and Australia, and all was over.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                             9th May 1916 – In Reserve, Bois Grenier

“Well I lent my tunic to one of our fellow that went to England on leave, so it will see England even if I don’t. They all had to get a lend of something off somebody else, as we cannot get new Australian uniforms they give us Tommies uniforms and we do not like them.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                       29th April 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

“Germans gassed our left at Armentieres, we are provided with shrapnel proof helmets, weeping gas goggles and new respirators.”

Major MN MacKAY:                                   27th April 1916 – Front line, Bois Grenier

“Message came through of an attack on our left. Ordered putting on of gas helmets everywhere. Found them very awkward and hard to see clearly owing to the darkness. Could see no signs of gas along the front.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                        27th April 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

“At 2200 Germans heavily shelled our line. Heavy casualties along the line.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                          19th April 1916 – On leave

“Went to Boulogne on leave for 2 days and saw the torpedoed Sussex in harbour, other boats sunk outside.”

1656 Sergeant AW BRADLEY:                17th April 1916 – Front Line, Bois Grenier

“You never in all your life seen such a place for rats there are millions of the brutes and into the bargain they are about the size of a bunny.”

1656 Sergeant AW BRADLEY:                10th April 1916 – Reserve Line, Bois Grenier

“Will have to write this letter under great difficulties as the blessed old barn we are in has been shelled so often that there is more daylight than roof on top and it has rained.”

305 Private AW FINDLAY:                        8th April 1916 – Reserve Line, Bois Grenier

“The Germans are heavily shelling our billets at Fleurbaix.”

400 Private L HICKMAN:                          28th March 1916 – Rejoining from hospital

“[with the] 9th Reinforcements 22nd Battalion” [2nd ADBD, Etaples]

400 Private L HICKMAN:                          24th March 1916 – Rejoining from hospital

“Arrived from England to Boulogne”

1656 Sergeant AW BRADLEY:                3rd March 1916 – Egypt

“We have been told yesterday that we would be sailing for France on the 20th of this month. Quite looking forward to it now – anything to get away from this desert.”

2669 Lance Corporal LW HENDERSON:  22nd February 1916 – Egypt

“Company split up; I am now in the 7th Battalion, 2nd Brigade as far as I know.”

2669 Lance Corporal LW HENDERSON:  1st January 1916 – Egypt

“Visit to the Citadel in Cairo. Explanation cannot convey the splendour of this place, it requires personal inspection.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:        28th December 1915 – Arrival in Egypt

“Arrive Tel-el-Kebir 7am. There is every sign of preparation for concentrating all or most of our forces in Egypt at this Camp. We arrive at our allotted ground but there are no available tents and we are forced to camp in the open.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:        19th December 1915 – Evacuating Gallipoli 

“2am, embarked in small cutters at pier. The embarkation was carried out in perfect order and from the pier we were conveyed in cutters to trawlers; during this short trip a man was hit in our boat by a stray bullet. We were conveyed by trawler – after transferring our casualty to the Hospital Ship – to Imbros reaching our Camp after an hours march at 4am.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:        18th December 1915 – Evacuating Gallipoli

“6pm evacuation. We left the trenches with half Company at 6pm. Every man had his feet wrapped in blankets and the trenches and footways had been sprinkled with loose earth so that the movement of troops would be a silent as possible. From Bridges Road we turned left into Shrapnel Gully, passing one of our own cemeteries on our way; it cut everyone to the heart to leave these Gullies and Hills that had taken so much of our blood to capture and then to hold, and, although our Battalion had not crossed no-man’s land, still we had buried a great number of our men in that cemetery.

From Shrapnel Gully we turned to our right into Anzac Cove where thousands of troops were waiting to be taken off.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         17th December 1915 – Arrival in Lemnos

“Arrived in Lemnos harbour 8am. Harbour just crowded with shipping.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:          16th December 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Wonderful feeling of relief and freedom after I had a few minutes on board ship.”

861 Lance Corporal GB MUIR:            Retelling of three months in front line Gallipoli

“I had only been there about an hour when I got my first shot and so settled my first Turk. I got a great surprise to see 4 or five more rush out and pick him up and carry him off. I was nipping almost the whole time I was on Gallipoli and I can safely say that I accounted for a good many Turk.

The living in the trenches was anything but pleasant but of course one had to put up with it. The worst time I think was about a month before we left. We were on half rations for about three weeks and practically without water and then a week on quarter rations and less water. It was owing to the rough weather that we had to take half rations, the sea being too rough to land supplies. It was during our half ration month that we had snow which it made it all the worse for us.

I have seen some never to be forgotten sights and I don’t like writing of them. It was a daily occurrence to see men blown to pieces, but the most marvellous thing of all I think was how one sometimes got missed. The closet shave I had was from a bullet and it was a shave too. It passed between my right ear and my head and cut a passage through my hair and just broke the skin on top of my ear. It was too close to be pleasant I can assure you. This is only one incident. There are dozens more I could tell you of if I had more time.

There was no water fit for drinking on our little bit of the peninsula we held and so it all had to be shipped.

The withdrawal from Gallipoli was without doubt a great feat and carried out well. The whole scheme was well planned and was tried a week before we really left in this way. We were ordered not to fire a shot and not to show ourselves in any way. We did this. On the third night there were several parties of Turks ventured over to explore our trenches. Well we let them come to within 15 yards of us and then opened fire with machine guns and rifles. After fooling him is this way it is no doubt that when we were finally leaving he thought we were trying the same dodge on him again.

I went for about a month at one time without a wash. As for washing clothes, this was a thing unknown to us in the trenches. I wore a shirt for about three months before I got a change and I can tell you it is not a very pleasant way of living. We were lucky if we got 6 hours sleep in the 24 and often got none at all.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:         1st December 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“The Turks are dropping very heavy metal a little to our right front – you can hear them coming through the air – they are very close and are going into the Pine where the 23rd, 24th and Light Horse are. After two hours of continual shelling our trenches are strewn with pieces of shell and shrapnel. The 23rd, 24th and LH were changing over when the bombardment commenced, they have suffered severely and have roughly two hundred casualties. The greater number of casualties occurred through the blowing in of an underground communication trench, one platoon was practically wiped out; we wonder why the Turks did not follow up with an attack.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         29th October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“The saddest day that I have spent on the peninsula. Brown (sic) – a gentleman in every sense of the word.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         27th October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Heavy shelling by Turks; 3 men buried in dugout.”

2008 Private R SMITH:                         14th October 1915 – 3rd/22nd arrival in Egypt

“Just a few lines to let you know that I am getting on alright. The reinforcements that came with us for the 21st, 23rd and 24th Battalions have gone from Egypt but the 22nd were left behind, sixty six went to Cairo on guard for a week, and eighteen went to Heliopolis hospital on guard and another eighteen went to another Hospital. I went with another guard to Gizeriah Palace that is another big hospital.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         12th October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“The truth of the matter is that the realities of war have melted away the surface shyness of men about religion. As a censor I can testify to the real part of religion bears in a soldier’s life – it was shown in the innumerable letters home I have read in which the writers ask for the prayers of the relatives or express their trust in God.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         9th October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Fleas, mud and dirt everywhere. Lot of shrapnel fell at door of dugout.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         8th October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“608 Pte P. Gaunt C Coy, buried in in Beach Cemetery.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:         4th October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“During the night the Turks had connected the gap in the barb wire entanglements and had made improvements on their left. The official instruction not to fire, as a number of Turks wish to come in and surrender; it was however only a ruse on the part of the Turks to silence our fire while they strengthened their entanglements. Our respect for the Turk as a soldier greatly increased.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         4th October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Turks giving us beaut – biggest bombardment to date. Man hit in front of me – bullets and bits of shrapnel flying.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         1st October 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Buried in Shrapnel Gully cemetery: 1558 Pte Albert Johnson; 65 Pte GA Newbound; 889 Pte FH Randall. Piece of shrapnel fell by our dugout.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         28th September 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“[Turks] Bombarded our position – 127 shells near us. Parachute with explosive on it – new idea.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         24th September 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Terrific artillery bombardment. Buried 501 Pte Fraser DD, B Coy, bullet wound died today.” [Service record shows Pte Fraser seriously wounded, bullet wound to head, 24th September, died of wounds 10th October]

Major MN MacKAY:                              20th September 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“We had our first experience of heavy bombardment a few days ago. I can’t say I enjoyed it – nor do I think anyone else did. It is just marvellous how little damage it really did. The fellows were very fine while it was on, and spent most of their time crying as to who had more than their share of bread and jam and complaining about the tea getting cold. It just happened at tea time, which was of course very inconsiderate of it.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         18th September 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Buried 1217 Pte WH Watkins, D Coy; 151 Pte AJ Elliot, A Coy”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         15th September 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“Buried 1106 Pte WS Samways. Father Frank W, Gt Wishford, near Salisbury, Wilts. Bomb at night; buried 1690 Pte AT Hotham [died from wounds 13th Sept].”

1656 Sergeant AW BRADLEY:            14th September 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“The air becomes thick with shells hissing on their voyage of destruction.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:         13th September 1915 – Front line Gallipoli

“First death in the Coy (D). Private Hotham shot through the head on No 2 post. He had just gone on duty, the bullet passing through a sand bag first.”

1656 Sergeant AW BRADLEY:             8th September 1915 – Arrival in Gallipoli  

“It’s marvellous when you look around you and see the steep hills in the vicinity of the landing place how are boys landed at all.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:          7th September 1915 – Front line trenches

“Visited all our Battalion trenches with Major Smith. Bullets, shells, snipers – 2 shots. Wonderful network of trenches – saw whole position with periscope.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:          6th September 1915 – Heading to the front line trenches

“Asiatic Annie firing on beach – shrapnel sending us all into our dug out every now and again.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:         6th September 1915 – Heading to the front line trenches

“To reach our portion of the trenches we had to climb up ‘Bridges Road’ with full kit: never again do I wish to make that climb under the same conditions; we had to rest three times before reaching the top, how this ridge of hills was ever captured is beyond my imagination.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:         5th September 1915 – Landing at Anzac

“We landed about 1am and formed up on the beach at the foot of a very steep hill or cliff which seemed to run almost into the sea, there being practically no beach. We were completely fatigued by the time, 2am, we reached our camping ground, many men falling out on the way up the gullies from the beach. Although weary from fatigue it was well on to morning before I could settle down to sleep; the continual ping ping of the rifles seemed to be very close, many bullets striking the opposite side of our gully.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:         5th September 1915 – Landing at Anzac

“Saw the trenches for the first time – & understood what the Australians did – ‘the impossible’ wonderful fighters they are, spirits of men wonderful.”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:          4th September 1915 – Approaching Anzac Cove

“First sound of guns – shells from ships – 2 tugs, man in our barge hit with bullet – first time under fire”

Captain Chaplain TP BENNETT:          2nd September 1915 – Arrival at Lemnos

“Just received news of the Southland being sunk – left an hour after us. How near we have been to home. Have just heard that the Brigadier is dead. Southland has not been sunk – two boatloads of men lost.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:         2nd September 1915 – Arrival at Lemnos

“Arrived at Lemnos at 10am: beautiful land locked harbour, evidently very deep. The harbour is full of shipping of all tonnage mostly British; to reach our anchorage we passed a double line of Battleships and Cruisers, British on our port and French on our starboard; the entrance to the harbour is also securely mined and no shipping is allowed to enter or leave port.”

Lieutenant KS ANDERSON, MC:          29th August 1915 – Departing Egypt

“After two or three days of great preparation we marched from our Camp at 5pm on Sunday 29th August and entrained for Alexandria at 10pm. Before leaving Heliopolis all tents were struck; no man carried anything except for the bare necessities and a few private possessions; everything else was packed in his black kit bag and left at base. We must have presented a queer sight as we departed – each man, officers and men alike, carrying full equipment and every necessary article he possessed.”

2nd Lieutenant CF YEADON, MC:            1st July 1915 – Training in Egypt

“I am pleased to have had the chance of meeting French people, their style seems so much for making friends and not so rough and course as the average crowd of us Australians. Our boys are by far the roughest here when on leave, great drunkenness and knock the natives about more than the Tommies. But when our boys are on parade or trench digging they knock out the English Territorials. Their own officers are sent over to see our men take up a new position and entrenching it and cant our boys use the pick and shovel. On average we are bigger by a good deal than the Tommies and they are a bit jealous of us.”

2nd Lieutenant CF YEADON, MC :           26th June 1915 – Training in Egypt

“Now we are drilling very hard and having some hot and long marches a good few of our boys are getting knocked up but so far I am going strong. Last Saturday and Sunday we marched out over 20 miles and back, a total of 40 miles over the sandy deserts and it is very hot here in the day but the nights are almost cold and one has to use a blanket every night.”

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