My grandad was with the New Zealand Field Ambulance in World War One – at Gallipoli, Salonika, the Somme and Passchendaele. His diaries are fascinating to read. In honour of Anzac Day here is an excerpt of his arrival and first few weeks at Gallipoli. I have added explanations in italics. If anyone is interested, I will post more excerpts – let me know!!
Thurs 16 Sept 15
Breakfast 7am. Packed kit and then lay in hammock resting till 11am when we fell in. We were then told to fall out as we were not to go, so went below and had some lunch. We had no sooner finished than we had to fall in with all haste and march right aboard the ‘Sarnia’ and stand aboard her packed like sardines.
Heavy rain was falling but soon cleared off so made myself as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. We got aboard about 12 noon but did not sail until 4pm. Cleared Lemnos 4.30 and had a beautiful calm trip to Anzac arriving 9pm. Had plenty to eat and good tea on the trip.
In NZ always thought what queer emotional thoughts one would have on a trip like this where perhaps in a few hours dozens of the men around one would be killed but no I feel as unconcerned as possible, not the least emotional. Here now I can hear the guns going off – the first I have heard in anger. The place where we land looks just like a town. Lights all over the hill. We are now waiting to disembark. Warship bombarding the shore & just after we were all on the lighter for the shore, star shells went up and a terrific rifle fire started. Sounds just like a very heavy hailstorm on an iron roof. Spray bullets started to hit the boat and the water around. We all lay down. Only one man on the lighter was hit. It stopped in about half an hour and we made for the shore. A jetty to land at now.
Landed at 11pm and soon after started on at least a two mile march through trenches to No. 2 outpost. Rolled myself up in my overcoat and slept in a dugout. Very hard, cramped and cold so did not sleep much.
Fri 17 Sept 15
Up at 6am and enjoyed the view from the trenches. Had a scratch breakfast and then watched an artillery drill till 10am when we came down to the beach to await orders. Watched wounded being brought in, the Indian transport warships, the ASC (Army Service Corps) and all the other various activities. Had all the various positions pointed out to us. Would like to draw a map explaining same but it would not pass censor. Drew rations and mess tins and then marched about a mile to rest station.