The 1916 war diary of 2nd Lieut. Dick Willis Fleming
May 1916 archives
Orderly dog today, took the early exercise. Bathed at midday. Three porpoises came along quite close to us when we were in the water. Same old routine during the rest of the day.
This evening Elliott, Franklyn, and Bradley went fishing and had a good haul of bass. Elliott had four; Franklyn and Bradley one each. The two biggest weighed about a couple of pounds apiece. Great rejoicings in the mess tonight at the prospect of fresh fish for breakfast tomorrow morning.
From 6:30 till 8 o'clock this morning we were over at the aerodrome practicing cooperation with aircraft. We had the bass for breakfast - top hole! Had our usual swim and diving stunts at midday, and a siesta during the afternoon. Working with the director from 5 to 6 this evening.
We've been told tonight to be ready to move out at a minute's notice. All leave has been stopped throughout the division, and it looks like we are going to have some exciting times in the near future, as there are fifteen thousand Turks and Germans massed mostly at Bir El Abd, which is between Katia and El Arish and on the direct route to us at Kantara, and they'll probably mass plenty more now they've have finished the Kut siege. They have also got three heavy howitzers, 20 centimetre guns at El Hassana, which is further down about opposite Ishmailia.
Elliott and Franklyn went fishing tonight and got five more good bass - cheers for breakfast tomorrow morning.
Just going to bed when orders came in that our battery is to stand by. It seems as if the old Turk means business earlier than we expected. I must go and pack up my saddle bags.
We 'stood by' all last night and all today till six o'clock but have not been called out. The West Riding battery have got to 'stand by' tonight. We had a swim this morning, but had to go down in twos and cannot be away for long, so it wasn't as nice as usual. A squadron of the Bikanir camel corps were drilling close to our camp this morning, fine looking men and big strong camels with a double saddle on each. A 'pow wow' by General Parker this afternoon. He told me several details about the Katia fight on Easter Sunday - it's been a bad knock for us. He also read us some news that has been collected by our Intelligence Department, and it looks very much as if the Turks mean a serious attack on us before long.
This evening we took the guns out and got them into a position for a practice shoot tomorrow. It seems rather a waste of ammunition when we shall want all we can get before long in all probability. One of our aeroplanes has been reconnoitring over El Arish today, and it seems that the Turks are making great preparations there. Another of our planes that was reconnoitring today hasn't come in yet and they are afraid it has been shot down.
Our shoot began at seven o'clock this morning. Badcock, Franklyn, and I were the F.O.O.s and we each took on a target and fired the battery from there. The General was very pleased with the shoot, and Col. Robertson congratulated Jeans on the shooting and the steadiness and fine discipline of the men - so we all feel several inches taller. I had a topping bathe at midday. This evening the battery piscatorial society (Elliott and Franklyn) brought in three good bass, the smallest weighing about a pound.
Orderly dog today, the usual routine of duties. I had a heavenly bathe about midday; it's been exceptionally hot all day.
Jeans rode out today with General Parker and the artillery brigade commanders on a reconnaissance between Hill 70 and Turks Top, and got an idea of the position we shall have to take up when the attack comes. A Turkish German aeroplane flew over our camp at about seven o'clock this morning but didn't drop any bombs; I expect that to follow later.
Elliott caught two bass tonight, both over 2lbs. Our battery is 'standing by' tonight till five thirty tomorrow evening. Each battery in our brigade is taking it in turns now to stand by for 24 hrs.
At nine o'clock this morning there was an alarm, and our battery was turned out, and all ready to move off within ten minutes, which is pretty quick work. The alarm was only a false one for practice and I hope they won't 'cry wolf' too often.
Two battleships from the French navy, which are allotted to this section of the canal, were doing firing practice this morning. This afternoon the colonel, the battery commanders, and us, and a subaltern from each battery went up to Railhead. The line has got about twenty-five miles out now and is just short of Romani. A funny jolly old train, but she does the work alright. Not a wildly exciting journey as it is desert the whole way, though there is a good deal of scrub in parts. We passed a good many Anzac patrols but I don't think the Turk would find it very hard to slip between them, because although the country looks flat, it is far from it, and the patrols are a mile apart.
The 156th Infantry Brigade were at Railhead with some sappers, and they said they found it a bit lonely up there and seemed anxious for us to hurry up and come there, but I think our next stopping place is going to be further than that and more to the north. We got back soon after seven and Elliott and I went and had a bathe about eight; the water was very warm and full of phosphorus. Franklyn caught a bass of one and half pounds while we were there.
Church parade at 8:30. Bathed after stables, A1. Siesta during the afternoon. I had my hair cut after tea; we've got a man in the battery, Taylor, who has become barber to the brigade and does it very well. Bathed soon after six, very nice as long as you were in the water, but the mosquitoes let us know as soon as we got out. Tomorrow the colonel, battery commander, and a subaltern from each battery - I'm the lucky one - have got to leave here at four o'clock in the morning and go to Railhead. There we shall get horses from the Anzacs and then ride eight miles across the desert to a place called Mahamdiya, which is on the coast in line with Romani and Katia, to reconnoitre for a position for the brigade. They don't know if the place is held by the Turks or not - we shall very probably have some excitement. If the position is alright, the idea is to send a big force of infantry there with our brigade, so we shall be able to get in behind the Turks and cut their lines of communication when they attack down the Northern Route.
Franklyn and Elliott have just come in with four very decent bass, one weighing over four pounds! I will turn in early, it's been so hot all day, the shade temperature was 98 degrees at midday and a great deal more in the tents.
I got up at three o'clock this morning and we got aboard a truck on the 4:30 "works" train for Railhead. It was pretty cold too until the sun got up - the sunrise over the sand hills was a gorgeous sight. There were horses to meet us at Railhead and also the Colonel of the infantry brigade who are going to hold Mahamdiya with us, and several engineer officers. We left Railhead about seven with a troop of Anzacs as escort; they were chiefly for flank guards to prevent us being fired on unexpectedly by Turks or Bedouins, as there are several parties of them about in that district.
We first rode due East to Romani, very heavy going through deep sand and under a hot sun. We passed just to the north of Romani. There it is intended to make Railhead, and at the rate they are laying the line at present (half to three quarters of a mile a day) they ought to reach it in a week or so.
From there we rode pretty well due North till we came to Mahamdiya, which is nothing more than a big sand ridge and some old ruins of a roman fort on the coast, but a very good defensive position as it is pretty well a certainty the Turks will attack by the Northern Route because the sand is harder and there is more water. We ought to give them a pleasant surprise. There are some splendid gun positions there and the camp will be on the sea shore behind the ridge. The great trouble is water: there are several oases dotted about, a little clump of date palms among the sand dunes, but the water in most of them is brackish. But there is one oasis three miles south of our position where the R.E. think they might sink a well and find good water, but it is a long way to take the horses.
We spent about an hour at Mahamdiya and then rode back to Railhead. By the time we got there we'd done just over twenty miles. We got a train back from there at four thirty and got back to Kantara soon after six.
Our orders at present are that our battery leaves here Wednesday evening, the guns to go up by train and the horses march. It is about twenty odd miles. We are to spend all Thursday at Railhead, and on Thursday evening are to hook double teams - that is to say twelve horses - into each gun and wagon and make the best of our way to Mahamdiya. It is a good eight miles through very heavy sand, but I expect we shall strike due North till we reach the coast, and then go East following along the coast on the harder sand. They are giving us twenty odd camels to take all our tents and stores. The idea is that the other two batteries of the brigade wait for a week or two till the railway is more advanced and the water supply more certain, and then join us there. But I shouldn't be surprised if our orders are cancelled and we all have to wait for the railway, as it would be asking for trouble to send only a small force out with us with no chance of getting reinforcements up quickly. The old Turk is no fool and will probably try and mop up every small detached force we send out, and Bir-El-Adb is not very many miles away and we know he's got a strong force there. But still ours is not to reason why.
I found a mail in when we got back to camp this evening, heard good news from all at home. Someone was sent some of the daily papers of April 25th and there was the account of the Katia and Duedar fight of April 23rd in them. It's really scandalous they don't tell people more - our accounts are quite as bad as the German ones.
Elliott caught a bass tonight, quite two pounds. He went out last night again after we'd turned in and got three more small ones with a landing net made of a mosquito net and an electric torch. The fish that come into the shallows seem to get dazed by the light and are fairly easy to catch.
Orderly dog today but Kenning took the early exercise for me and I hogged it in bed till 6:30, as we'd had a longish day yesterday. Bathed soon after stables, but as we've been the battery standing by all day we would only go down two at a time.
Experiments have been made during the day as to the best way of getting the guns over the heavy sand. We tried a team of twelve horses first, two abreast, then two lines of six abreast, and lastly three lines of four abreast, and I think we shall probably use the last method. So far the order stands good that our battery is to go out first, probably by sections, one on Thursday night and the other on Friday night.
The divisional band played tonight. We see in the Morning Post that came out last mail a Turkish report claiming that on Easter Eve one of their aeroplanes did a record journey and dropped bombs on the British Camp at Kantara. I suppose someone has got an iron cross for that lie.
I took the early exercise this morning. I saw Edwards of the Somerset Horse Battery who came out on the same boat as us from England. They have just come up from Ishmailia and at present are camped on the west bank on the same place as we were. They expect to be pushed up to Romani in a few days, attached to the 3rd Anzac Mounted Division.
Bathed at midday. A lecture this afternoon by a medical officer on 'Flies'. We came away feeling quite sick - his descriptions of the way they carried disease and how they put it in your food were too revolting for anything.
We are moving off tomorrow, so have been busy packing up this evening. Some of the West Ridings came in to have a cheery evening tonight with the result that we didn't get to bed till after one. I hadn't been in bed long before there was a very loud report, just like a bomb dropping close outside my tent, followed by an agonising yell. I looked out and saw Franklyn's tent had collapsed and he really thought for a moment that the old Turk had dropped a bomb on him. As it was, it was only his tent pole that had snapped, without any apparent reason. Enemy aeroplanes dropped seventeen bombs on Port Said yesterday, so it is quite on the cards we shall get another visit.
The Intelligence Dept. sent us round a report saying that at one place in Sinai the Turks under Sirri Bay have got a force consisting of 800 mixed Germans and Austrians, 3000 Turks, 700 Syrians, and 1000 Arab camelmen, also guns and aeroplanes, and they have got other smaller forces dotted about so it looks as thought we may be busy.
Up at four this morning and Badcock and I with twenty men built a temporary ramp of sleepers and rails at the siding for entraining the guns. Elliott and Kenning marched to Railhead with the horses leaving at 5:30 this morning. It took them about six hours.
We were to follow with the men, guns, and baggage, leaving Kantara about 3 pm. But just before the train was due to go, we had orders from the B.G.R.A. cancelling the move, so everything has to be unpacked. I went up to Railhead with Elliott and Kenning, and my own kits and forage and food for two days, as the horses have got to stay there till further orders.
When I got to Railhead I found that the orders were again cancelled and that the horses were to return to Hill 70 for the night (15 miles back towards Kantara), the railway had got about three miles beyond the old Railhead and of course the horses had gone on there, so I had our truck of forage uncoupled and then went on till I found the horses. I got on my mare who was with them and we rode back to the old Railhead where we halted for a couple of hours, and watered and fed our horses (a thousand gallon tank of water had been sent up by rail and the water was hand pumped out into canvas troughs).
We left Railhead about 6:30 pm and got to Hill 70 at 10:30 pm., having had two short halts on the way. It was a nice cool night and a bright moon. At Hill 70 we watered and fed and had come down near the railway line to bivouac for the night. The horses have done over fifty miles today through deep sand all the time and mostly under a hot sun, and two of them look rather bad.
I shall soon be rolled in my waterproof sheet and fast asleep. The men are pretty tired and small wonder.
One of the sick horses died in the night and I am not surprised, as yesterday was a very long trek for the climate. We spent a very uncomfortable day on Hill 70, a broiling sun and no shade whatsoever, and clouds of flies swarming everywhere and tormenting us all day. Jeans and the Colonel rode out during the morning and said we were to march the remaining seven miles back to camp in the cool of the evening. We left just after four and got back to Kantara about six. We lost the other sick horse just before we got to Hill 40.
I had a bathe soon after seven and it was nice to get in the canal again. "Kitty" has hardly turned a hair and was as happy and gay as ever coming in tonight, but I hope the staff won't play any more games like that with us. We hear they are going to send us to Mahamdiya when they can find more water there.
Orderly dog today. I took the horses for a short early exercise to work the stiffness off. They all seem to be picking up again, and don't look so bad as I expected to see them. Bathed at midday.
Orders came in this evening that we are to send out a party to bury the horse at Hill 40. We had tried to arrange for the camp out there to do it as they are nearest, but they weren't having it. Being the unfortunate orderly dog, I had to go out with the party. We left here at five thirty and had a four mile ride, a two hour dig, and four miles back, and got back here about ten pm, very dozy.
It's been a grilling day again today, over 100 degrees in the shade.
I bathed before breakfast. A "pow wow" by the Col. on brigade tactics during the morning. Too hot to bathe at midday, had to just sit and drip like a Turkish bath. I had a topping mail from home this afternoon. Bathed about six thirty. It's been over 100 degrees in the shade again today, too much of a good thing.
From six to eight this morning General Parker had our brigade and the 1/2nd out practicing brigade together. I was doing orderly officer to Colonel Robertson. I had a lovely bathe this morning and stayed in nearly two hours!! The morning was quite as hot as yesterday, but a strongish wind got up in the afternoon and there were one or two small sandstorms.
An intelligence report sent round to us this evening from one of our agents at El Arish says that with the German forces there there are six long-bodied dogs with short legs and that they come when they are whistled for. It sounds as if the Boche was going to find some use for a Dachshund other than making sausages.
A real scorcher today, by 9 o'clock in the morning it was 106 degrees in the shade and reached a climax at 3 pm by being 117 degrees. Tried to bathe in the morning but it was too hot to enjoy it. Osman, the native who comes down with things from Port Said, says it hasn't been as hot for a good many years. There was a scorching hot breeze (khamseen) this afternoon which made things worse. We lay and gasped and dripped, only moving just to see the horses watered and fed. I hope we don't get any more days as hot.
A large French trooper full of Japanese troops went down the canal this evening. I wonder if they are going to France?* Bathed about 7:30, but still felt just as hot afterwards.
*I heard officially later that they were French colonial troops from Cochin China, bound for Salonika.
Reveille at 4 am, exercised the horses. We are going to try and get everything done before 8 am if possible in the future. Been very hot all day thought not as bad as yesterday. I bathed at six thirty this evening; the water wasn't smelling particularly nice and was rather greasy - small wonder with thousands of men bathing in it every day - but at any rate it was wet which is the great thing. Fifty men arrived from Railhead and Hill 70 yesterday, and thirty today, all with sunstroke.
Our brigade and the 1/2nd were out early this morning doing a small practice scheme. I was orderly officer to Colonel Robertson. Bathed at midday. It was a respectably cool day for a change.
General Parker spoke to all the men of the brigade this evening and said he hoped we got a chance of getting even with the Turk here and then going to another sphere of operations. Six of our aeroplanes went out on a strafe to El Arish early this morning, and I believe one hasn't returned, but we've no definite news yet.
Very little doing today except the ordinary routine. Had a bathe in the morning.
Went out early this morning to watch the 1/3rd brigade having a practice shoot in conjunction with aircraft. When the aeroplane came down the pilot lost control of her as she was running along the ground, with the result that she ran straight into a cookhouse and smacked one wing and the propeller, but neither the pilot nor observer were hurt.
We had our usual morning bathe about midday. There has been as nice cool breeze all day.
This evening a member of the White Cross who has been given permission to come and speak to all the troops in Egypt, spoke to the brigade and I have never heard a better or stronger address.
Orderly dog today, took the rough exercise at 5:15. Church parade at 9. Bathed after stables; we changed our place this time and bathed from an old derelict barge where we got great fun diving.
A mail came from home this afternoon, lots of news.
Enemy aeroplanes bombed Port Said last night and did, according to Osman, a good deal of damage in the Arab quarter.
In an intelligence report sent round to us this evening, an agent reports that at El Hassana the Turks have a force of about three thousand men, composed of Turks, Syrians, and Arab camelmen, also some Howitzer guns. They are under the command of Sami Bey.
Reveille 3:30 this morning and the whole brigade moved off and took up a position southeast of the aerodrome, and shot off about fifty rounds per battery. The General was watching and seemed satisfied with the results of the shoot. I had a glorious bathe later in the morning. As we were passing the Bikanir Camel Corps camp on the way back, the Indians brought out four black sheep and killed them in rather a revolting way and seemed to gloat over it too.
Orders came in this evening that our battery is to move out about thirty miles into Sinai in a day or two. To start with we shall be fairly near Romani, but I am pretty certain that the ultimate plan of campaign is a combined attack by land, sea, and air at El Arish. We've got some busy days ahead.
I left Kantara with Houghton, four men, and a cook by the midday forage train for Railhead, which is now level with Romani. Elliott and Kenning were to leave Kantara at 4:30 this evening with the horses and expect to get here at 4 o'clock tomorrow morning. I got here about two thirty and we've been busy putting up the temporary horse lines and getting forage, etc.
The water for the horses is over a mile away at Romani - some wells in an oasis. I walked over there this afternoon to have a look at them and met a patrol of Anzacs coming in with a Turkish prisoner. They had come upon a party of about sixteen of them, but all had got away on camels except this one. He was a tough hardy looking ruffian, dressed in a sort of light khaki uniform with baggy breeches and puttees, a red sash, and a red and yellow handkerchief on his head which hung a good way down his back.
I hope our move is genuine this time and we shan't have orders to go back to Kantara as soon as the horses arrive here.
Bombardier Davy has left us today, he is going back to England as he has been given a commission in the East Anglian R.F.A. He will be a great loss to the battery staff.
I shall curl up now for a nap, but it will have to be with one eye open as the horses may arrive any time between two and four.
I woke up with a start about one o'clock with a feeling that the horses were coming along. I got up and funnily enough they were just coming along a few hundred yards away.
I got on "Kitty" who was being led and went with them to Romani to show them the wells. After watering we came back and bivouacked for the night. The forage train came in about four o'clock and we drew rations and forage as soon as it was light. The guns, baggage, and the rest of the men came along by train about eight o'clock and began detraining straight away.
I rode over to the headquarters of the Anzac Mounted Division at Romani and arranged for our horses to water there during the day. They are going to try and sink some wells at Railhead if the water is good enough. About ten o'clock I was sent on to Mahamdiya which is four miles to a flank of Railhead and practically on the shore. The guns are going to be in a position there but the majority of the horses will have to be at Railhead as all the water has to be taken to Mahamdiya on camels. I took twenty camels on, loaded with baggage and tents, and myself and four men rode on five other camels.
We are taking over at Mahamdiya the position that up till now has been led by the Ross Mountain Battery, and they are going to join the Anzac Mounted Division. The Mountain Battery have been awfully kind to me today, had me into their mess, and done all they can to help. I went down to the shore to have a bathe this afternoon and it was a treat after the canal; nice clean water and quite big breakers and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is hard sand and you can walk out for some way without getting out of your depth.
The water is going to be a great difficulty here, they are only going to let us have three quarters of a gallon a day per man, but still with the battery we shan't do so badly. All the water has to be brought up by train from Kantara to Railhead, and then brought by camels from Railhead to here. It is carried in fantasses (zinc cisterns), and each holds 10 gallons and each camel can carry two fantasses. So it will be some business supplying us up here with rations and water, etc., besides supplying the 156th Infantry Brigade who are holding the place too.
The Ross Mountain Battery got away soon after five this morning but our guns didn't appear till nearly ten. They had got stuck in the sand - the sand tyres which we've been issued with to put on the wheels aren't a great deal of use. The sand is very deep indeed here and it was all ten horses in a beam could do to get the guns along at all. We've got to keep twenty four draft horses (six teams) and four riding horses here, so that one section of the battery can be mobile, at least that is what the authorities seem to think, but we think we shall be very lucky if we can keep one gun and firing battery wagon mobile with that number in this heavy sand. All the other horses are at Romani; Elliott and Kenning are with them, I have left "Kitty" and Houghton there too.
The guns are in position about half a mile from our camp in an emplacement, but the major is going to try and get them to let us move the camp up close to the guns and also change the gun positions. Only one detachment have got to sleep at the guns at night as we have got outposts out in front and should be warned in time if the Turks are on the move. The battery is connected up by telephone line to the camp, and the O.Pip is also connected up to the battery in the camp.
The orderly officer has got to sleep at the O.Pip each night with one replacement. I am orderly dog today, so I've got to go out to the O.Pip for the night after mess. It is a sandbag dugout about a thousand yards to the right flank of, and in front of, the guns, just behind the infantry first line trenches. Garside turned up for mess this evening, he'd been seeing the horses of the Glasgow Yeomanry at Romani and they had to come and see these here. He is having the loan of my flea bag tonight as I am in the O.Pip.
I had to get into communication with the battery at 3:30 am and also with the camp, and warned all to stand by till 6 am. We've got to stand by at the guns from dawn (about 3:30) till six every morning as that is the Turks' favourite hour for attack. There was a glorious sunrise this morning, a lovely sight over the sea at the back of the sand dunes. I was relieved about eight o'clock and came down to breakfast.
We spent most of the morning improving the gun emplacements with sandbags and making ammunition dugouts. We stretched nets over the gun emplacements and covered them with scrub to hide them from aircraft, as it is of greatest importance that the Turks shan't know there are guns here, and so with luck will walk into the trap.
Headquarters told the major this morning that we wouldn't move our camp closer to the guns. They also said that water is too scarce for any horses to be kept up here, but as they must be able to make us mobile, all the horses will come up here from seven o'clock every evening and go back to Romani at six every morning. As the Turks aren't likely to try anything on in the daytime, it won't matter the horses being at Romani then, but we've got to have them here at night. They are rather afraid, too, that Railhead may be attacked at night and if all our horses were there and got scuppered, it would be a nice look out.
General Koe, who is in command of the forces, told the major that the Turks are in a position to attack us here with a force nearly double our own at anytime within five hours from where they have their base, as they have got thousands of trotting camels to bring their infantry up. But we are making this place pretty strong here.
Badcock and I had a heavenly bathe this afternoon, it really is lovely surf for bathing. After tea we went out with the major and chose another O.Pip for the right section alone, having a good field of view of the inundation and the beach. The right section is to be responsible for that zone alone. Then we went and looked out a much better position for the left section, which will be responsible for the zone at Railhead, Blair's Post, and the right section's extreme right switch at the edge of the inundation. We also chose a good O.Pip for the left section at the infantry trenches, and it may be necessary to have an F.O.O.
Badcock is sleeping at the left section's O.Pip tonight and I am going out before dawn tomorrow to lay out a telephone line from the right section to the new O.Pip we chose for it, and stand by with that section till six o'clock.
Elliott and Kenning came up with the horses this evening and go back with them again tomorrow morning.
Franklyn is a bit rough tonight, but I think it is only 'tummy' trouble and will soon blow over. The rest of us are feeling awfully fit, the sea air is topping. The intelligence report came in tonight with some very interesting information about the enemy - he doesn't seem to be being idle.
Up before dawn this morning and Bombardier Manning and I laid out a telephone line from the right section position to its new O.Pip at the infantry trenches overlooking the beach and the dry bed of Lake Bardawil, which is a good hard surface for the enemy to attack over. We stood by there till six o'clock. Badcock and B then went up to the new positions for the left sections and had another look around.
Bathed during the afternoon. At five o'clock this evening we went up to the new gun positions for the left section and began making the emplacements and filling sandbags. The colonel came up from Kantara this evening and is going to spend the night with us. He rode Kitty up from Railhead and told me he thought she was a very nice ride and then dropped a dark hint that he didn't think his own chargers were good enough and that he was going to get better over from the brigade. I do hope he isn't thinking of taking Kitty. I should be most awfully sorry if I had to give her up.
The colonel told us that he has had reliable news from Port Said that we are collecting a large force at Cyprus, so it looks rather as if we are going to try and make a landing at Alexandretta and cut the Turkish railway there
I am going up to the left section O.Pip for the night.
I warned the left section to stand by at three thirty, and dismissed them at six as all was clear. From seven till ten we worked hard on the new emplacements and they are beginning to grow. Too hot to go on digging after ten so we went down and had a glorious bathe. A troop of Anzacs came down and swam their horses.
From five o'clock this evening till ten we were hard at work on our new gun positions. A fatigue party of the Scottish Horse came and filled sandbags for us for an hour or so. It will take several days before the emplacements are properly finished and the men's dugouts and ammunition pit dug, but the general said it was most important that the guns should be in them tonight, so we had the teams up, twelve horses to a team, and got them in as soon as it was dark and about a hundred rounds of ammunition to each gun.
The colonel is going to stay on with us tonight and go back to Kantara tomorrow.
I am a bit sleepy tonight as I've hardly had any at all the last three nights.
Working on the emplacements from six till ten this morning, then went and had a bathe. The colonel went down to Railhead this morning to have lunch with Elliott and Kenning at the wagon line and left for Kantara about four.
This evening, the major has refused to let Kitty leave the battery, so the colonel is baulked for the present, though he offered any horse in brigade headquarters in exchange, though none of them came up to the mare.
Digging hard again from five this evening till eight. A mail came in this evening - I had a good budget of letters from home.
We had half a dozen camels working most of the morning and moved our camp up closer to the guns. I had a bathe this afternoon, there were some splendid breakers today.
This evening I rode out with the major on a small reconnaissance in front of the barb wire entanglements. We were looking for the best going to take the mobile section out, as one section has got to go out if Railhead is attacked, and get in rear of the Turks.
The Anzac division went out on a big reconnaissance today, they took the mountain battery with them and one subsection of the Ayrshire Horse Battery which is attached to them, also eleven hundred camels with forage and rations. They expect to be out about three days, and hope to get some way beyond Bin El Abd.
Just off to the O.Pip as I am on duty there tonight.
At 3:30 am I warned the detachments to stand by and dismissed then at 6:30 as all was well, and came back to camp for breakfast.
At seven o'clock the major, Franklyn, and I rode off on a reconnaissance. We started off along the edge of Lake Bardawil. The bed of the lake is quite dry, it is like gypsum; it looks just like a glacier and is as hard as a rock. We reconnoitred all the ground very carefully to find the best going for the guns if a section has to go out. We rode on past Blair's Post and up onto Hill 100 where we had a good view of all the country round El So-- and Bir Abu Ha-- two small oasises on the edge of Sabkhet El Romani, and away to Katia in the distance. We never saw a sign of a Turk or a Bedouin all the time. We saw several jackal tracks, and some large ones which were probably hyenas as there are said to be plenty of them round this district.
At work on the gun emplacements into this evening.