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IN THE NEW ZEALAND CAMP, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2379, 8 February 1915
IN THE NEW ZEALAND CAMP
LIFE IN EGYPT / DAILY ROUTINE DESCRIBED The best description of the camp and general surroundings in ligypt of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force so far available is that contributed to the Christchuroh. "Press" by "A Canterbury College Student," who writes. — The New Zealanders' camp at the time of arrival at 2.30 a.m. was a sight fit to' damp the highest spirits. We left the road suddenly, 'and found ourselves marching over something akin to sand, but which was more of a dust, than a sand. , Then the tents loomed up in the moonlight—ghostly looking things, with no blade of. grass to rest the eye on. We were bundled into tents after a cup of coooa and a roll of bread. Morning revealed the camp in all its ugliness—tents planted in the desert in many rows. On looking round, however,- order became apparent. The tents were pitched in blocks, each block for a company, with officers ; then larger, blocks for battalions, with their headquarters. The kitchens were situated just in the rear of the companies, to which they belonged;' and behind these again were rows of water-taps and rubbish-trenches. All this, however, was tho mere beginning. ' There was yet much'for us to do. Nor, looking back, did it 1 take long to do. : Imagine the upright part of a capital L, running north and south. Up the centre is the main street, made harder than the surroTuiding sand, as it has to boar all the .traffic. .Starting from the top, and on the left, lie in order, tho quarters of the Wellington, Otago, Canterbury, and Auckland Battalions; and lastly the Otago mounted men. This brings the camp on to the road leading from the station. Starting from tho top again, and on the right, lie in order the, quarters of the Field Ambulance, the several artillery batteries, and the rest of the mounted forces, which brings lis again on to the Zeitun road. Tho other half of the letter L is occupied by the East Lancashire Territorials, who stretch as far as the town of Hehopolis. They, however, do not interest us.
Order Out of Chaos. We had not been in camp many days, before one afternoon was .set aside to put the camp in order, , Flags were distributed to the various battalions, and to the various companies; Each company and each battalion has its distinguishing flag. The Ist Canterbury's colours are blue and black. The camp was lined ?out with these flags, all' in straight lines. Wo then collected many, tons of whito stone, which 'was broken up into convenient sizes, ranging from large corner stones'' to smaller lining stones. Each battalion, each company, each, platoon, and each separate tent has been surrounded with lines of stones, so that there are clearly defined main streets,_ side streefts, and alleyways, and it is a crime to remove any of the stones. One can see the oamp in one's mind' 6 • eye: the , main street, • lines of tents with a frontage of seven, .each harbouring a platoon. These are five deep, so that there are thirty-five tents to a company. The companies lie two | deep, a wide street separating the two. A battalion—four companies, thus occupies four blocks, a total of about 160 tents. In the rear of the companies lie the ambulance and doctors' tents; then the officers' and sergeants' messes, cooks' quarters, fires, washing taps, and further back still, the rubbish pits. Everything is in order, and in line. We have, in fact, a model village of ,ten thousand inhabitants. The tents hold from nine to eleven men, thus giving plenty .of room. . There is no straw in. the tents, but 'the sand is soft and warm to lie on. The Dally Work. - , The work of the camp is all mapped out. The forces are to go through brigade, and finally division drill, and also musketry. We did much of the wort in New Zealand, and should be quite proficient at th» end of two months. Reveille is at 5.30 a.m., with breakfast between 6 and 7.30. As a rule, we leave camp by 8 a.m. and work oh the desert till 1.30 or 2 p.m., carrying a' ration in Our haversacks. There may or may not be an hour's parade in the afternoon, after which all ranks aro free to go out until 10 p.m. Lights out and silence are at 10.15 p.m. Naturally, there are many duties _to do', round the camp. The men on sick duty are expected to do the light' fatigues, but, besides these, there is heavy work at the supply depots, and guard duties. The guard duties are done by companies, so that some of the men on cach company are on guard every fourth night, there being four , companies to a battalion. The heavy depot fatigues are done by the brigade, so that eaoh company does depot fatigue '.every sixteenth day, there being sixteen companies in a brigade. For odd jobs, the companies find their own fatigues. Thus the work of the camp is done smoothly and without a hitch. Each man has his turn; as the fatigues arc taken off the company duty roster. . ' The Orderly Room, Perhaps that part of camp .life which concerns the private most is the institution called "orderly room." It is the military police court, with the major of the company as judge. However, do not imagine thaVto attend the orderly room is, necessarily a disgrace. There are so many things for which a man can be "crimed," that one-must be exceedingly adroit to keep "uncrinied." Any offence against standing orders, company orders, etc., is crimeable and any non-commissioned officer or officer is at liberty to "crime" a man. In fact, "crimes" buzz round one's head like flies. It is, 'of course, the only way. With so many men of various dispositions in camp, the whole army_ Would soon become chaotic if a very strict'grip were not. kept on them. For a small crime, a mail receives one day's confinement to barracks, which means that he is at the beck and call of all persons in authority, and can be called upon to do any fatigue. Besides this, he must do an "hour's pack drill, and report himself every half-hour when not on parade, so that he cannot very well leave the camp without, being found out. More serious crimes' entail longer sentences, and bad crimes-are punished by confinement in gaol and stoppage of pay. Serious crimes seem to bo committed bythe same men every day.
Disposal of Camp Rubbish. ' More' than likely, the reader has already wondered what happens to tho rubbish which must accumulate in such a large camp. Were it not for the poor of the city, tho accumulation of such wasto food, etc., would present a serious problem to the officers responsible for the cleanliness of tho camp. In such soil as this, or rather such sand, there are 110 parasites. It would be madness to bury rubbish -anywhere near the camp. However, as luck will have it, the native solves the difficulty. Times are very hard in Egypt this winter, and the nativo who relies annually on the influx of tourists for his living, has been niven cause to think. Cheap food is his main necessity, and much of it is picked from tho rubbish heaps. Competition is- so keen here for the scraps, that most of them are bought ahead. One native gives so much for the potato peelings and scraps; and so on. It is astonishing what they will take away. All the waste food is scraped off one's plate, and assigned to different barrels, imd wipsri almost clean by band. _Greasa and fat* .vegetable meat, bread,
biscuits too stale for consumption—absolutely anything in tlio food line' is grist for the mill. The stuff ' s taken, away in barrels, looking just about as attractive as a mud pie. Wlieu and in what form does it reappear? 'J.liat is hard to say.; but tliero are some very doubtful looking eakcs and foodstuffs sold in tho slums—round rings like quoits; nasty green patties whioli might oontain anything. Then,' again, the natives collect pieces of paper,' boxes, bottles, tins; in fact, they will collect and sell everything the average person considers useless. Some of them grow fat on the trade; but the scavengers are paid about sd. per day. This they augment by doing a little trade for fjhemselvK.. For instance, instead of standing by their bosses' rubbish barrel, they will take'a little barrel of their own near the camp, and intercept the scraps as they are brought down. Apart from the natives, the best scavengers are the kites, which soar' round the camp in hundreds, and swoop down on the slightest scrap that escapes the native. .With scarcely any motion of the wings they soar up again, with the dainty morsel held in their claws. Only when they have reached a considerable height do they address themselves to it, holding it still in their claws, and feeding from it while executing a masterly vol-plane towards their next scrap. They fly off to roost about 5 p.m., and reappear just after daybreak, in order to be in time for breakfast. Thev make no noise whatever, and are regarded as almost sacred by the natives.
The Commissariat. How are so many men- fed three times a day without any confusion? They aro not fed three times a day. ■ As before mentioned, each company has its own cooks. These cooks are under the control' of company quarter-masters who are under regimental quarter-masters. These quartermasters know how many men they have to feed every day; so every day a fatigue party is marched to the headquarters stores, and they draw the rations for tho day. ( Th<» Army allows per man per day: lib. meat, lib. bread; lib. potatoes, Jib. vegetables. . It is left to the cook how this food is served up. As a matter of fact, this ration is generally augmented from the companies' stores. - For instance, we often ■_ get porridge for breakfast and sometimes stew. Lunch is always carried in the haversack, 'and consists of anything tho soldier can buy, beg, steal, or draw in the ordinary course of events. At the best it' is only a snack. For dinner at night we have stew. This may-sound very well; but there .is always a scarcity of .food. To avoid' any hardship, ■ respectable natives and Greeks are permitted to ercot food canteens. They sell all manner of dishes, and "one can feed well for from 6d. to 9d. The majority of the troops buy_ at least one meal per day out of their pay. Then there is the regimental canteen, where one. can buy, tinned foods and general groceries, and last of all there is the canteen. None of your ginger-pop and aerated blow-the top-of-your-heads-off, hut real good beer for the sum of 2Jd. per pint. This canteen is open'from 12 to 1 p.m., and from 6to 9 p.m. ; and is controlled by the military police. - It is a god-. send' l to the soldiers after four or five., hours' work on the desert in the broiling sun. Thus the huge camp goes -on from day to-day, with variations which are welcome because -they break the monotony of routino, and give one a fresh aspect at which' to grumble. Soldiers are surely , the princes of grumbles; but their grumblings are like the thunder that clears the air, and,the somewhat drastic language their mental safety-valve. For to endure' and not cure is oftentimes impossible.
IN THE NEW ZEALAND CAMP, Dominion, Volume 8, Issue 2379, 8 February 1915
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