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


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This page contains a single entry by Dick published on June 23, 1916 11:59 PM.

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23 June 1916

Posted by Dick on June 23, 1916
As soon as it was light, had a look round to see who was in the oasis besides ourselves and the escort. I found the Light Horse had not come back, so I went and pinched a sack of barley and a bale of tabin from their supply, and after a little difficulty got hold of a fantasse of filtered water.

We found two wells in the oasis - only one was so brackish the horses wouldn't look at it, but they drank from the other one.

No one seemed to know what we were wanted for till about ten o'clock - when a message came through that it was one of our aeroplanes down near Bir Al Abd and they had wanted me to try and drag it in. But as they had found it was bashed about they were going to burn all except the engine and Lewis gun etc which they were going to bring in from there on camels.

We stayed in the oasis all day, and went and had a look at the place where our yeomanry post was cut up about a month ago. Nothing to be seen except graves and litter. The Bedouins had been there before the Anzacs and even stripped all the clothes off the bodies - and actually taken the food and water, which the Turk like a gentleman had left with the wounded. They are brutes these Bedouins.

The 7th Light Horse came in about three o'clock, pretty done up; neither they nor their horses had had any water for 24 hrs. They brought in what was worth saving of the aeroplane, also four Bedouin prisoners who they'd found sitting round the aeroplane waiting to hand over to the first Turk patrol. The Anzacs told me that these four had tried to clear off as soon as they saw them coming, but as where they fired at them the Bedouins stopped and took off their baggy white trousers and waved them over their heads as a sign of surrender.

I borrowed two ambulance sand carts from the Light Horse, got the aeroplane engine onto one, and the Lewis gun wheels and seat etc onto the other. Started off about five o'clock in the evening as I wanted to save as much daylight as possible as last night was the first time I'd been out this way and didn't fancy getting lost. An R.F.C. observer who'd been out with the Anzacs to dismantle the machine rode back with me. It was only the second time he'd ever been on a horse, so wasn't exactly happy and got rather sore. We got a bit sore too as we'd not had time to put on breeches when ordered out, so were riding in shorts.

We got to Katia at seven, just as the sun was going out of sight, and halted for ten minutes. There were about thirty dead horses still on the lines, just as they'd been shot down, also a few odd camels, so there were flies innumerable and a stink indescribable.

We passed on again heading straight for Katib Gannit, the big sand hill above Romani which we could see in the distance, and luckily hit a camel track.

Eventually, after one or two short breathers, we got to the Romani wells about nine, and from there down to our wagon line camp near Railhead and stayed the night there with Elliott and Kenning. The remains of the plane is going down by rail to Kantara tomorrow.

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