Tel-el Kebir Camp, Egypt
22nd March 1916
Hur-bloomin-ray. Marching orders at last, and as pleased as a cat with two tails to get them. Just awaiting orders to entrain. Am heartily sick of this confounded Country, however remarkable it may be. Too many flies and beggars for my especial palate and those two abortions combined are exactly 100% worse that Shrapnel or HE. This time I leave Egypt as a 'Blooming OFFICER'. Lieutenant R.D.D. of the Galloping Ninth, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division. Our CO is Colonel Burgess, OC Major Gee, and Randall and Faulkner. My old chum C.G.P. is with the Brigade, as Orderly Officer to the Colonel. Am feeling awfully fit, so look out somebody!
From Tel-el Kebir to Alexandria
23rd March 1916
Left Tel-el Kebir at 1am this morning. Arrived at Alexandria at 7am. Had a ripping good sleep coming down. Travel 1st Class nowadays. Officer you know. Unloaded horses and gear in next to record time. Started embarking same at 10am, finished at 12.40pm. Been trying to get into the City but the CO won't hear of it. This time we go to France I believe. Nothing definite known as yet, but I really think that's where we'll bring up. At present on SS Nessian of the Leyland Line of boats. Have a dinky cabin amidships, sharing same with Major Gee and Faulkner. Chas is on board, only a couple of cabins away. Left Alex at 8pm. Picked up with a destroyer escort 10pm. Plenty of 'tin fish' around here. Select little beano with Captains McIndoe and Raymond, and Chas and Faulkner. Sea very calm and, many thanks to someone, the thermometer's down a few. Had a last look at Egypt. Hope it's not my lot to visit there again. Bunk at 12pm.
Alexandria quay: allied troops preparations for embarkation (GWS)
24th March 1916
Up at 6.30am and down in stables. Horses doing fine not one accident to any of them yet. Destroyer still with us. Food on board splendid and plenty of it with good old English Bass as an appetizer. Beats 'Brasserie des Pyramides' (Pyramids Brewery) into a cocked hat. In stables pretty well all day. Things looking rather clean and shipshape now. Give me Australians every time when there's work to be done. They are the very essence of 'Ginger'. This afternoon have been allotting boat stations to our Battery. Everything OK on board, with the exception of one duty and that is that you can't move a yard away from your cabin unless you've got a lifebelt on. Received a message from our TBD Escort while at dinner, to the effect that an officer would board us after dark. Since then our course has been altered. Sea even smoother than yesterday, and temperature still normal.
25th March 1916
Up with the larks again this morning. Find that during the night we have picked up a few more transports. Our escort picked up some wreckage today. Haven't found out what it was. She left us at 12 o'clock. Went back to Alexandria. So at present we're on our own heading, I believe, for Malta. Expected to arrive there sometime during the next 30 hours. This afternoon it rained a bit and fog has been coming up for the last 6 hours. We also had several visitors today in the form of birds. Can't be very far away from land because our feathered friends are just ordinary house sparrows and wood-doves. Have developed an enormous appetite. Positively ravenous. Chas and I between us consume as much as 6 men would normally. Had a warm salt water bath today. I really think that civilisation is not quite extinct yet.
26th March 1916
Sunday, by all that's marvellous. Gee, the weeks do slip round nowadays. What's more, this proves to be a real wet one. Have been in the stables half the morning, and eating and pacing the boat deck with Chas the other half. Its a welcome change being at sea with just enough sun and wind to make the thermometer behave itself after months on the infernal sands of Egypt. (Ugh). Both my charges are doing A1. Phyllis recognises me every time I pass her, but Beauty is still dubious. Phyllis is a most expensive lady. Costs me a small fortune for lumps of sugar. This afternoon Chas and I were inoculated against Para-Typhoid. Feeling anything but cheerful. Considering the number of times I've been done, I really think that shrapnel won't hurt me now. The Doc has just been telling us how many millions of microbes are contained in one dose. I've just multiplied that by 7 and have come to the conclusion that I am really one big microbe.
27th March 1916
Passed Malta at 11 o'clock last night. Received orders there and at present we're obeying some by heading for Marseilles. The breeze has increased until it's blowing a tidy little gale but the rain has gone. Just been up on the boat deck enjoying things. Chas and I are both down to the inoculation. I've a head like 'the morning after the night before' stunt. Hardly left my cabin all afternoon. However, I've got one consolation. The Doc has been doped too, and he's a fraction worse than I am. Late this afternoon we passed quite close to the coast of Tunis. Rather mountainous country. Received a signal from the lighthouse. Passed a Greek steamer toward evening. We've averaged 11 ½ knots since leaving Egypt and would be in Marseilles now if our course had been the usual one. Tonight's glorious. Dead calm and beautifully cool.
28th March 1916
Ships Orderly Officer today. In charge of 40 men who compose the Submarine Guard. All the morning have been on the boat deck listening to the skippers funny stories. Under normal circumstances we should arrive at Marseilles tomorrow. Passed Sardinia this afternoon. Quite a large island and looks even more forbidding than Tunis. We should pass Corsica tonight. At present we are in the Gulf of Lyons, and know it too. This old tub has behaved rather well up to now, but the tidal roll here is upsetting her somewhat. The Major and Faulkner have been down to it. Passed a couple of boats towards evening. Just had a glorious bath. Don't know when we'll get a chance of another one.
Arrival in Marseilles harbour, and train trip to Le Harve
29th March 1916
(Château d'If) My first glimpse of France at 7am. My first impression of same, is that it's uncommonly like NZ particularly the South Island. All morning has been spent scanning the coast in hopes of picking up Marseilles, and just now 10.30am we got our first glimpse of that city. Tied up the wharf at 12am. Coming up the harbour (which is magnificent in the extreme), we passed the Tower from which the Count of Monte Cristo was thrown somewhere about the year 'umpteen'. Also passed a beautiful church perched away up on a hill. On the largest steeple of the church is a fine gilded statue which dazzles your eyes even though you're a few miles away. Disembarked at 4pm. Had dinner on the 'Nessian' and then walked to camp about 2 miles from the wharf. An absolute brute of a camp too. 2/5th under water. Chas, Faulkner and self managed to get up town for a few hours at night. Great beano and no questions.
30th March 1916
Up with the sparrows this morn. Gee, its cold here. Woke up at about 2 am and thought the North Pole had shifted a bit. Awaiting orders to entrain for some unknown spot. Randall joined up with us again. The Major, Chas, Raymond, and self cruised over to a Hotel and had cafe au lait. For dinner we got into a Restaurant which was unmistakably German. (Pirated). Exercised horses in the afternoon. No leave granted. Anyhow at 7 pm we called a muster and found that 100 men of our particular Bty had sealed out. No orders for shifting yet. Believe we go north from here, a 5-hours train journey via Paris. Learning to talk French like a Parrot.
31st March 1916
Three fifths of the Bty up before the beek. Chas and I went on leave at 3.30 pm. Struck some English people in a Restaurant and received an invitation to go out to their place tomorrow night for a ball. Great beano at night. Picked up Randall at 6.30 and also struck H. Hobbs and Parks. Had dinner at Coif' Maud. Glorious evening.