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A SOLDIER'S DIARY.

LIFE ON THE BANKS OF THE SUEZ CANAL.

(Continued from April 26.)

February 4.—We were roused out at 1 a.m. by the enemy' attacking the Sepoy trenches on our left flank. The Sepoys gave it out pretty hot, and none crossed our frontage, so we did not get a shot. Vie lay down again, and stayed quiet till 5 a.m.—stand-to time. About half a dozen shots were fired by our artillery at 7 a.m., but no jeply came from .the enemy. At 10 a.m. we are tinder 'orders for an advance into the enemy's country, supposed to, have been vacated by him. It was a sight worth coming all the way we have done to see those Bengal and Mysore Lancers rido past. , They are a fine lot of men, mounted on small weeds, but tough, and -carry- three weapons, lance, rifle, and sword— about 2000 of them, and they took the lead. Immediately ■ behind them my own platoon' of lB Company shook straight .out into a -firing Krie^ and. sovoral.Sikh batteries behind us; then the main body. We advanced about five miles out, and only saw the places where shells had burst, plenty of traces of the (Turks,- and great pieces of shell, some a foot long. Seven dead bodies lay in one-place, and two horses in another. The scouts , sent' back word that a party ,of Turks were discovered about three miles further on, and soon after our whole force,'retired for about a mile. Then we advanced right in lino from there, and the G.O. rode up to where I was, on-the flank of my .section (I was in charge of No. 4), and gave me a message for Lieu- | tenant .Lawry to the effect that we 'were going to attack the enomy, who j were just over the next ridge. I had just delivored it when we had to retire again by 3.30 right back to camp. Mr Hill- said afterwards it was the, most •daring and impudent thing he had ever known of, for our small body to advanceagainst' 16,000-Turks, as" we did: and we were very lucky. They fired a few shrapnel at xis, but did no harm. We went to occupy the forward trenches .just at dusk, but through some, messing were led into the wrong place, and narrowly ..escaped . being fired on from; our own trenches. What a day of escapes and narrow shaves ! We finally,found our position at 10.30 p.m., and I was'put on the flank with my section. After putting on sentries and arranging the reliefs, .1 turned in at midnight. 1- Nothing occurred to disturb us until dawn.

February o.—We loft-pur position.inthe trenches at 8 .a.m. and came,into camp again, had a ci?p of tea and our rations served out, and spent a quiet morning, having our first wash for throe clays. They caught a spy a few minutes ago,, escaping from close to tho lines..* There are a good few wounded New Zealanders in camp, but 1 don't think wo have lost any men yot, and we have heaps of prisoners. After dinner the whole company turned out to make a short piece of road on each side of the Canal for an approach to the pontoon bridge. AV'e all turned in early after tea, for we were all short of sleep, and we spent a quiet night, 1 except for one alarm (false)' at 4 a.m.. '• February 6.—A couple of parades in tho mornuijirT-merely for the inspuciiuj of ammunition, equipment, etc.—and then we were put on in reliefs of platoons to dig ' bomb-proof shelters for reinforcements or -.reserves, just bohind our trenches. We received word from tho Aero Corps that the enemy had been reinforced; in fact, they believe the main body has come up, and thej say we can expect to be shelled at any moment. *

February 7.—Breakfast at 6 a.m... , and by 7 we are marched off with ammunition, rifles, shovels, picks, ett out in front of our position. Heaps of Indian troops arc on the same racket, | and while they dig a line of trenches right across the front of our present position, B Company digs out a communicating trench back to the bastions. This game lasts till 5 p.m., and the work is finished. A good many of our chaps are clerks and office people, who never handled a shovol or pick in their lives, except perhaps to sell one across a counter, and now they are all quite prepared to admit that navvies earn their 9r or 10s a day, and that it is the hardest work a man can tackle. Bad news for us when we get back to camp—we are ordered back to the base camp at Ismailia in the morning,- to give place ■to some other troops ; and , the fellows are very disappointed. .. February B.—The enemy are reported to bo nine miles out and inactive, li will be very rotten if. after us being here a week, and working hard, and preparing, some other troops take our place when they attack this position again. Perhaps it is for the best, because wo are the first reserves, and i< a row occurs at any place now we will be sent out at once if any men are required. We left the place sorrowfully at 10.30 a.m., sand marched rigW in to the. base camp at Ismailia, about four miles, and had a spell during the rest of the afternoon.

' February 9.—Washing parade at 9 a.m., when all hands a,re allowed to d<, their washing. In, .the afternoon we went for a bathe,- our band playing us through the town and back. Sad now? for us to-night; for we are told ' that we have to go' through three weeks' battalion training/ on this wretched sand ; and this after six months' training and been under fire and on active service. We are treated like the junior classes at a girls' Sunday school.

February 10.—Battalion training under Captain Sahnqndson, and a route marelji through Ismailia in the morning, with the O.C. at. the head.

(Until February 27, the battalion was quartered at I^mailia, and on that date left for Zeitoun). - . j The narrative then continues: —One' day while doing aii'attack practice over ' the sand at Ismailia, the following incident occurred. It is usual in these sham fights for, men'here and there to drop out of the' ■ skirmish as "casualties." Word came down the line for every fifth man to ."turn over," and in one place the fifth chanced to bo a Lieutenant in the 18th Company, tie was lying on his back when our Major ciiniu up and bjd him a goodday. "Jrlullo, Major." ho said "Can't this part of this line advance any .further?" queried the Major. "Oh, I'm darned if I know," was the reply. "I've been dead this half-hour. Sergeant is in charge here now." We worn in a position on a bastion over the Canal opposite Ismnilia, and the Turkish shrapnel was whistling overhead when our company Sergeant-' Major came along and sat down next ■ me for a y-\vn with two or three of us." Ho said, "li, heard a coiiple of chaps along the liiie there, talking just now

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/AG19150501.2.11

Bibliographic details

A SOLDIER'S DIARY., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXV, Issue 9129, 1 May 1915

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1,203

A SOLDIER'S DIARY. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXV, Issue 9129, 1 May 1915

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