Unnamed soldier

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Original items held by the Army Museum of Western Australia

unnamed soldier
Conflict World War 1
Service Arm Australian Imperial Force
Service No.
Service Arm Army
Date of Birth
Date of Death

This fragment of a diary was written by an unnamed soldier on board one of the troopships that left King George Sound, Albany on 1st November 1914. This was the first Convoy to leave Australia and head for Europe. There were 38 transports and troopships, 10 New Zealand transports and the accompanying battleships in the convoy.

A Soldiers letter on ship to France November 1914 escorted by HMAS Sydney etc which sank the Emden.

Sunday 1st Nov At last we are on the trooper. After our many disappointments & can hardly believe it is true. Are really off for the front I do believe. Lorenzo tells me he is sending letters ashore by a launch at 2 A.M. So it looks as if we will be gone before morning. It gives me a chance of getting my letter ashore at all events.
Monday 2nd Nov Woke up this morning & we were nearly out of sight of land so we are indeed off at last. I can hardly believe it yet. The weather is lovely, the sea like a mill pond & though the boat is rolling I think I will be alright.
Tuesday 3rd Nov Woke up this morning and went on deck & surely such a sight has never been seen before. In three close columns & stretching away as far as the eye can reach appears ship after ship our fellow transports. Huge vessels most of them 10,000 tons & over. Truly it is no wonder everyone is on deck too astounded to speak. It is the British Empire alone that can make possible such things. Away ahead & on each flank can be seen the lithe sinister shapes of the warships who are protecting us. The Jap Ibuki is to the East & the British ships are ahead and on the right flank. There seem to be only the three battleships but no doubt others are scouting all round us. Although my training should teach me otherwise yet such an abiding faith have I in the British Navy & its capabilities that I am convinced no disaster can happen us. We spent most of the morning in admiring the stirring scene & pointing out the various vessels to each other. In the afternoon we started to look round the ship, & it didn't take us long to realize that all our grand schemes of training on board ship, must fall to the ground. There must be close on 2000 men on board & although the deck space cannot be called limited yet as far as training goes it is quite inadequate. I will be able to do a little but it will be nothing compared to what I had hoped for. Anyway it will give me more opportunity for my own study.
Saturday 7th Nov Things are going on in a very quiet fashion. The weather has been perfect. Every body seems to have got their sea legs. We had sports this afternoon & there were some great boxing contests. The men are all in good spirits although the weather is beginning to warm up & it must be rather hot sleeping on the troop decks.
Sunday 8th Nov A quiet day with Divine Service. The "Euripides" pulled out of the line to bury a man - the first loss we have had I believe since the Convoy came together. It has made us all feel rather serious. We have had to keep our lights out the last couple of nights & tonight we all fell in at our respective stations on the deck. So they evidently think we are in some danger of attack. Everyone had their lifebelt on & the Officers had loaded revolvers. I was stationed on a stair leading from a troopdeck (with 200 men on) to the main deck. I loaded very ostentatiously in front of the men. They were not quite convinced however so I threw a bullet down amongst them & proceeded to dilate on the size hole a soft nosed .45 makes in a mans back. However nothing happened & the men carried out the work very quietly & with splendid discipline. I hope my description of wounds will keep them back should anything happen at any time because I would have a poor chance of stopping a rush & the corresponding panic should we ever strike trouble.
Monday 9th Nov This is a day that shall for ever live in our memories. The "Emden" was destroyed this morning. When we woke up it was very evident something was afoot. The escort one after another altered their course & steamed westward at full speed. At eleven o'clock before the last two battleships were out of sight the news came through. The "Emden" had been brought to action by our "Sydney" & after losing a mast & all her funnels had been run ashore on the Keeling Islands (60 miles to the W) to save sinking. The ship was a scene of wild enthusiasm & had the Sydney been present she would have been greeted in a manner that would have made her first entry into an Australian harbour seem paltry. All prisoners were released from "clink" & after the National Anthem had been sung we went down & drank our gallant boys health in the best. Two killed & thirteen wounded. But the loss signified nothing when we thought that at long last the Emden and her gallant crew had been caught. And what an attempt her plucky commander had made for his country we heard later on. She had passed twenty miles in front of the convoy so our turn out might quite possibly have ended in the real thing.
Wednesday 11th Nov Nothing very important in the last few day. It is very sultry & mess is eaten in singlets However it is not affecting my sleeping capacity in the slightest although my cabin in on the port side & the wind always seems to be from the East. Large quantities of beer are being drunk but it is very poor imported stuff, except of course the issue in the morning, but we can only get one pint of that a day. One of our men died from pneumonia & was buried at half past five this evening. We lost a man on the "Medic" the day before yesterday. So that makes two from the battalion. Capt. Golding Bird read the service & made an impressive little sermon to us.
Friday 13th Nov Raining cats & dogs this morning. We crossed the "line" about six this morning without Father Neptune playing any tricks on us. Vaccination took place today. I had my second dose of typhoid the other day without any effects at all. The sea still remains as flat as if ironed out. We couldn't have had a better trip so far. I have seen bigger ripples in a river than we experience. I saw some flying fish the other day & every evening our wake is a blaze of phosphorescence. We will probably get to Colombo some time tomorrow. The New Zealand ships came through the lines & pushed ahead for Colombo this morning for coaling I believe.