The 1916 war diary of 2nd Lieut. Dick Willis Fleming


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This page contains a single entry by Dick published on May 24, 1916 11:59 PM.

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24 May 1916

Posted by Dick on May 24, 1916
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.

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Guns and stores were loaded on a special train by means of a ramp of sleepers - the first one to be constructed on the railway, which played such an important part in the resulting campaign in connecting the armies in Palestine with their base at Kantara. Officers and men found accommodation on gun or wagon limbers, or on corn sacks. The journey was along the new railway across the desert for 25 miles to Romani, or ultimate railhead.

An advanced party was sent to Mahamdiya to pitch the camp, and the Battery bivouacked at Romani for the night. Romani at this date consisted of palm trees and a few isolated tents, and there was no other artillery as far East - and very few troops - a great contrast to its appearance a few months later.

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