World War 1
Charles Edmund Gray
This document contains copies of the two diaries as recorded by Charles Gray during late 1916 and early 1917, on his way to France via South Africa and England.
Phrasing and spelling is as per the original documents.
An extract from Charles WW1 War Service folio is appended outlining the chronology of recorded events during his national service.
Diary No 1. of Charles Edmund Gray – WW1
Be a man "Enlist to Day". Conscription has failed, and the urgent need of men is more apparent now than ever. Then how could we content ourselves at home? While our comrades at the front are calling to us for help. But no! We have heard the call, we have been thrilled by the glorious deeds of the Anzacs, and it was with a stern sense of duty; that prompted us to take up the burden, and follow the glorious path that has already been paved for us, by the Immortal Anzacs.
Passing the necessary medical examination, no time was lost in getting into camp. Liverpool camp is a large military camp; about twenty miles from Sydney.
It is, no doubt, the largest , and most up to date camp in the State.
Carefully laid out, with paved asphalted streets.
Long rows of huts, electrically lit; stores; Churches, etc.
It is in itself a real township. Hot and cold water baths, were to be had, also anything that you wished to buy, and this with plenty of good food, made the stay in Liverpool a pleasant one.
Most of the time was taken up in preparation, for our own sailing. Very little drill was gone through except a few rifle exercises, and a little squad drill.
The rest of the time was spent in being fitted with the necessary gear, and other work.
I was attached to the 6th Reinf of the 35th Battalion, 9th Inf Brigade. This Battalion, made up of such a fine body of men and officers of the first order, will I am sure, prove themselves worthy of the grand name that has already been won for them. And that, by further sacrifices, and heroic actions, will add still greater laurels to the Australian Army.
Although our stay at Liverpool Camp was only a couple of weeks, our leave during that time was most liberal. Each afternoon at 4.30 pm when the days work was over.
We would be given general leave until the following morning.
The camp being within quick access of the city, this leave was a much appreciated by the men whose homes were in the city and outskirts.
And on week ends, we were given leave, from Saturday noon until Monday morning. Making our life at camp more cheerful than could otherwise be attained.
But soon we were to quit camp and sail for England, and preparations were now well in hand, for our departure; for we were told we would be sailing on the 25th Nov. by the S.S. "Beltana".
Very little time was lost, and the day drew quickly near.
On Friday morning Nov 24th. The troops formed up on the parade ground, and marched past the Saluting base.
The camp Commandment taking the Salute.
Two oclock in the afternoon saw us march, out of Liverpool camp; and entrain for Sydney where we were to be inspected by the State Commandant (Colonel Romachotte).
Arriving at Sydney Station, a huge concourse of people were there to welcome us. And we soon marched to Moore Park, where the inspection was held.
Long before the appointed times thousands of people lined the ring, eager to snatch a glance of another parade of Australia’s grand lads.
At 4 oclock in the afternoon the Commandant arrived. And after the salute had been given, the troops formed up. And with heads erect, and banners flying, they swung past to the Marshal strains of a military band.
After inspection in Moore Park we marched to Sydney Show Grounds, and there camped for the night.
Those that lived in the neighbourhood of Sydney, were given leave until 2AM the following morning. At 4AM on Saturday morning we were up, and after a hurried breakfast of bread and jam, we marched down to the boat.
Some thousands of people walked with us, and difficulty was experienced in keeping the troops in any sort of line.
Arriving at the wharf, and after the usual farewells had been said, we boarded the boat thereby entering upon the great duty; that we had decided to perform.
After remaining in the harbour during the day, when the usual ferry boats and launches visited the ship.
We sailed at 2.30pm on Saturday Nov 25th 1916, leaving behind us all that was near and dear.
But carrying with us the good wishes and kind thoughts of our homes, friends, and the Australian people.
Life on Board
It did not take us long to settle down to the life of a troop ship. The men, more or less, were used to roughing it, and we were soon at home.
Hammocks were provided for sleeping in. And these are not too comfortable when one has been use to a feather bed, but they are better than the hard floor.
The food on board is not to grumbled at, of course there were a few flaws, but these were rectified in time.
We got a good variety of foods, amongst which the most noticeable is the plum pudding of which we got a good supply. This pudding did not do credit to the cook, and there’s one thing certain, and that is, if we should have gone down entertained.
But still what did it matter when we must go through all sorts of hardships.
Concerts were freely given on board, and together with picture shows and other games served to keep the men amused without which the voyage would have been absolutely dead.
As for the weather during the voyage, it had been beautiful with the calmest seas. And as one old sailor said. The calmest for the last twenty five years he had experienced.
There was a fair amount of sickness on board, a few went under, but that was only natural, being caused no doubt, by the change of climate, and altered conditions of food, and living. But of late everybody has been well and everything has a more cheerful outlook.
On nearing Fremantle W.A. a fire was discovered on board. There was no panic, but some excitement prevailed amoung the troops occupying that part of the ship where the fire was.
However it was soon got underhand, and the ship put full steam ahead for Fremantle. Arriving there upon the 2nd of Dec 1916 early in the afternoon.
While lying in the harbour some amusement was caused by the catching of a small shark.
We remained anchored in the harbour all night, and early Monday morning we tied up to the wharf, where we disembarked. This operation took up little time, and soon we were entrained and rushed to Claremont near Perth, were we entered camp for a few days.
While at Claremont we took the opportunity of seeing Fremantle and Perth.
The trains and trams being free.
An example that could easily be taken by New South Wales.
Fremantle harbour is rather a nice one, though not to be compared with Sydney
But the Port of Fremantle itself is very up to date possessing many handsome buildings, and large well kept streets, with double decked electric trams.
Perth also is a very clean city possessing many charming buildings, and a grand esplanade.
The city is only a small one but it is altogether well laid out, and seems to be a busy place. A thing one first notices here is the narrowness of the railway gauge and the jerkiness of the trains.
But our stay was only short being but three days, and on Wednesday December 5th 1917 we again boarded the boat and once more started on the voyage; being farewelled on the wharf by many of the Perth people, who are very patriotic.
For the next three weeks our journey was quiet, nothing but the usual Physical Drill and daily routine taking place, and this at times becomes monotonous. But the time soon went by, and we were soon nearing the African Coast.
All being eager to get ashore, and stretch their legs, as being on board so long without any real exercise, has a bad effect upon the muscles of the body, and one gets horribly cramped up.
Early on the morning of Dec 19th 1916. A slight grey mist could be seen and as the mist and as the mist rose, and we came nearer, land could easily be seen.
Then as we came closer, the sugar cane farms and houses could be seen on the cliffs along the coast.
We arrived at Durban Harbour at 7PM on Dec 22 1916, and of course had to remain on board until the next morning.
A good number of blacks gathered along the wharf as soon as we pulled alongside and they would dance and sing, and then ask for a penny.
They were very funny in their antics, and if half a dozen pennies were thrown down; they would fight and tear each other about to get one.
Shortly after 8PM we commenced coaling and it was very interesting to watch the niggers work. Baskets of coal were filled by black labourers, and placed on their shoulders who ran up the gangway and dumped the coal in the bunkers, after dumping they ran down again, and had another placed on their shoulders, it is wonderful how quickly they work.
One nigger was covered in ribbons, which had been colored some time or other. He also had a whistle which he would blow all the time he was running up and down the gangway. He was the pace maker for the gang. When they were tired they just tumbled backwards into their baskets, and slept for a couple of hours then up, and at it again.
After watching the niggers for some time, we turned in for a good night’s rest in preparation for the morrow.
Thursday Dec 22 1916
Revaille at 6AM
The order is full dress for parade. We filed out from the ship, and formed up in a square opposite the wharf, each Battalion with its colors flying.
After a brief lecture from Major Sasse D.S.E. who is the C.O. on the ship. The Battalion formed up in colulmn of route, and marched through Durban.
After dinner at 2PM we were given general leave.
The weather by this time; for we were nearing the tropics, was very hot, although the temperature is not as high as at home, it is very oppressive.
However disregarding the heat, we set out on a sight seeing expedition. One of the things that first strikes the visitor at Durban, are the number of Kaffirs that inhabit the place.
These niggers do nearly all the work in the place. The white population are mostly well to do. A white man would not thrive in this town, unless he has plenty of money or is a tradesman. The wages of a nigger range from 1pnd to 2pnd per month. Poorly clad, and with their antics they are amusing. They are very cute and are always out to catch you if they can.
A Class of blacks (Zulus) run Rickshaws for hire, by this means making a goo sum of money.
I am sorry to say that; often their life is of short duration. Some catch pheumonia through not taking care of themselves. Whilst others weaken their hearts by over running. Great upright men of magnificent physique. They would make a fine army of soldiers.
The city of Durham is a beautiful place. The streets wide and clean, with beautiful buildings that makes the place, an attractive one for visitors.
Among the public buildings. The Town Hall, perhaps (which is built of pure white stone) is the most handsome.
During our stay, we visited mostly all the places of interest, and the people received us well. Again trains and trams were free. Which makes us wonder how other countries, can throw their trams and railways open to the soldiers, while we are deprived of these rights in our own state.
The Y.M.C.A. treated us well, and we found their huts very cool and attractive, when needing a rest. One of the most striking features of Durban harbour in the Bluff. A high ridge of land, running well out to sea, forming an excellent protection to the harbour. And can be seen long before the harbour is reached.
Mangroves and Pineapples, grow in abundance on the ridge, and can be procured by a climb to the top of it.
After seeing all the places of interest, and having enjoyed our stay very much. We once more boarded the ship and started for Capetown.
By this we were approaching Christmas, and we regretted that it should be spent on sea. We left Durban on Dec. 23rd 1916.
Xmas eve was kept up on board with the usual carols, and the boys enjoyed themselves to the best of their ability, and as far as circumstances would allow.
Christmas Day came round. And with the gifts from the Y.M.C.A, and the N.S.Wales War Chest Society, was spent very pleasantly.
Xmas Day, Officers Playing Cricket on board the Beltana. The deck was reserved for officers & nurses.
At dinner we toasted the health of our homes and friends. And wished by next Xmas, we would be home again.
Boxing day found us near Capetown.
Soon we saw the Table Mountain in the distance, and we knew that we were nearing the shore. As we came nearer, the land became more clearer. And the table mountain towering above the ciy, came prominently into view.
At 8AM we entered the harbour which is rather a nice one, having more shipping accomodation than Durban.
After dinner we were allowed ashore and started to view the city.
Capetown lying at the foot of Table Mountain (which derives its name from the faxt, that it much resembles a table on top with a snow cloth on) is much admired by all who happen to see it.
It possesses many handsome buildings, and tourist resorts.
We visited many places of interest, chief amongst these being the Museum, Gardens, Pier, Cecil Rhodes Memorial, and Camp’s Bay.
Contained in the museum is undoubtedly one of the finest collections of animals you would see anywhere.
Here a sample of almost every animal that could be procured in the jungles of Africa was to be seen, and together with the other collections made our visit both interesting & educating.
Passing the handsome Parliament Building we found ourselves strolling in the Beautiful gardens at the entrance of which is a fine statue of Cecil Rhodes and in which stood the public Library.
The esplanade and beach were places much admired.
After Visiting Cecil Rhodes Residence, we boarded a tram bound for Camp’s Bay.
And the drive round the edge of the mountains is a grand one overlooking the sea & Town.
During the evening we strolled along the Pier, which is said to be one of the finest in the World, not because of its size, but the way it is designed, with the concert rooms and Band stands, and its lighting.
And a stroll along it on a hot summer’s night, is both healthy and invigorating.
On the whole our stay at Capetown was much enjoyed, and we left feeling pleased that we had the opportunity of seeing another fine City of Africa.
On Wednesday afternoon at 4 PM together with seven other transports, we steamed out of the harbour to continue our voyage under escort.
Thursday found us well out at Sea, and for the next six days nothing of note occurred.
Favoured with fine weather still, the run over was very enjoyable.
6.30 AM on the 3rd of January, 1917, found the column of transports alongside the Island of St Helena.
The Island, bound by high rugged cliffs, is only 8 miles long by 6 wide.
On which is a population of 3500 inhabitants, whose chief industry is cattle raising, tough a quantity of lace and potatoes, which are said to be the best in the World are exported from there. The soil in the interior being of a most fertile nature.
The Island itself is not much to look at from the sea, being a rugged volcanic formation, but it is historical being he island to which Napolean was banished, and it was here that he ended his days. Though layer his remains were removed to France.
We didn’t go ashore here, but were anchored off all day.
On the 4th we once more moved on.
The temperature was rising and the heat crossing the equator was intense.
On January 11th, Thursday at 6 oclock in the afternoon, we again sight land and in a few hours we are anchored off Freetown the Capital of Sierra Leone Protectorate.
We remained in the bay and for four days we endured the hottest of weathers.
The population of Freetown is about 3000 Blacks with about 150 white officials.
Freetown lies at the foot of many green hills, beautifully studded with cocoanut, and banana palms which form an excellent background to the town, and viewing it from the harbour, it presents a picturesque, and delightful scene.
All tropical fruits grow in abundance and the blacks bring them across in canoes and sell to the ships. Making very good money.
The place is noted for many kinds of sickness, so natural in these hot climates, and this makes this part of Africa very unhealthy for white people.
The chief exports are Gold, Palm oil, and rubber. Sierra Leone was the first place to liberate the slaves.
Sunday January 14th, 1917 at 9AM. We once more started on our journey, which was the last stage.
Very little of note occurred, except target practice, a precaution against submarines.
One day I was pleased to notice several schools of flying fish. These looked very pretty in the sunlight looking like a shower of silver leaping from the water.
Whilst flying,; their wings make them resemble silver birds.
The last few days of our trip, were very cold, and the weather inclined to be a little boisterous, and on January 29th, 1917, we reached England.
Diary No 2
This is the property
Of No 2807
Pte C E Gray
6th Reinf 35 Batt
Jan 28th 1917
As we near the coast of England the destroyers become alert and rush backwards and forward across
Ever watching and guarding us against our enemy the Submarine.
Eddystone lighthouse is passed and we eventually come to Anchor and tie up near Devonport
dockyard. We passed a training ship on our way up the harbour and despite the severe cold weather
(Jan 29th) the training boys were out to give us a rousing cheer.
We responded vigorously and discarding our lifebelts, put on our packs in readiness to disembark.
We left the Old "Beltana" at 4.30PM and were placed in 3rd Class carriages. (these are not too bad and nearly as good as our 1st Class in Australia)
We steamed out of the station. And arrived at Exeter at 12 midnight
Here we hopped out of the train and stretched our limbs.
The ladies on the station were very kind to us providing each soldier with a cup of tea and buns.
Then off we go again amusing each other by telling yarns and playing cards. Until someone called out
"look there’s snow on the ground."
Everyone was glad to have a look at the snow. I poked my head out of the window And immediately
had my hat blown off.
We were travelling at a good speed and with the icy cold wind blowing in the window we were glad to
close it, and leave the snow until tomorrow.
We eventually drew up alongside Dinton Station and detrained.
My word it was cold, everyone was shivvering although we had good thick clothes on.
It was one o’clock in the morning Jan 30th 1917.
Well it was no use shivvering we were in England and had to make the best of it.
Forming up in column of route. We begin our march to Sutton Mandeville Camp, which is six miles distant.
The boys soon got in a cheery mood, and singing and whistling made the march most enjoyable.
The air was sharp and the frosty ground crunched under our feet, as we swung along to the Martial Strains of the Marseillaise, from our whistling band.
The moon was shining and we soon got warmed up on our march. Which although it was tiring we
enjoyed very much after being couped on board ship.
Sutton Mandeville is reached at last and after a short lecture, blankets were given us, and we were soon sound asleep.
Waking up about twelve noon. We made a meal of bully beef and biscuits as our kitchen had to be got in order.
The cooks worked very hard under trying difficulties such as melting the water in the freezing taps, and making the best of the stoves, managed o get us some soup ready by 6PM.
Wednesday Jan 31st, We are roused at revaille at 7.AM.
And make our way to the washhouse, but only to be greeted by a big sheet of ice on the bath room floor, tubs of frozen water, and taps that would not run. We soon got to work on the taps and with the aid of a Brazing Lamp, managed to get a small flow of water.
After this experience we took precautions and carried buckets of water up into our huts.
And the man up earliest in the morning would light the hut fire and warm the water up.
Later in the day we saw our first snow storm. Which was only light. We did not frill this day.
Feb 1st The morning brings us light snow & frost.
After breakfast of beans & bacon (our cook house is on good working order now) we clean our boots & get ready for parade.
We had not long to wait before we heard our Sgt Major roar out. (Fall in C Coy)
We tumble out and do squad drill for 2 hours then physical Exercises
After dinner more squad drill.
Feb 2nd During the morning whilst drilling, an Aeroplane flew over our heads.
This was the first Aeroplane we had seen since coming to England.
During the afternoon we had our first Route march Which was to Tisbury a village about three miles distant.
The ground was very hard with the frost on it And the a good number of men were troubled with sore feet.
It was funny to watch them coming home limping, it gave one the impression that the 6th Reinf had been in Action.
On Sunday feb 11th 1917.
We woke to find that snow had been falling all night.
After Church parade we had a great snow fight (Sgt Wright coming in for a good deal of the snow balls.
We had some leave at 2Pm to go where we liked so a few of us walked to Tisbury to have a look at the
It is a very old fashioned village built several centuries ago.
St John Church & Wardor Castle which is in ruins being its oldest buildings.
Food is fairly dear just now. 2 eggs 1 Piece of bread & 1 cup of tea cost 1/6.
Monday Feb 5th 1917
Very cold & frosty parade ground very slippery with frost.
Foggy & damp at night.
On Tuesday Feb 6 1917.
We had a route march about 6 miles.
The hedges & hills covered in snow look very pretty And the picturesque old farm houses with a mantle of snow on & icicles hanging from the rafters, was a sight well worth seeing.
A tank at one of the farms had over run with water and the water running down had frozen, it looked very odd to see so much clear water standing up as though it were a support for the tank.
We noticed a large pond near by and after parades, we walked down and had a good skate on it.
Ice is rather hard to skate on but after a few tumbles, we soon learnt how to balance ourselves on it.
On Wednesday Feb 7th 1917 a new batch of Physical Instructors arrive who told us to take our tunics & pullies off. It was very cold at first, but after a few violent exercises. We soon got warmed up and,
Thursday feb 8th 1917.
During parade a baloon passed over the camp.
At lunch time I received an Australian mail of 20 letters which were very acceptable.
Part of our parade ground. At our last camp Sutton Mandeville
A Report came through from Lark Hill that a sentry had died on his post at Lark Hill being frozen to death.
On Saturday Feb 10th 1917 A team of our boys had a soccer football match with a Tommy Cyclists Corps which was in a camp near by.
Our boys although they played well, were out of condition and were beaten by 4 to 2 not a very severe licking considering that we had but recently come off the "Beltana".
On Tuesday Feb13th 1917 We were reviewed by the Hm King George at Fovant. We arrived at Fovant much too early and after shivvering in the cold for an hour, were given some drill to keep us warm.
The King arrived at Last.
Accompanied by Sir General Moore and some more officials. After being reviewed we gave three cheers for the King, and later on marched back to camp.
The afternoon was given us a holiday.
Thursday 15th 1917
An Aeroplane flew over our camp at 9.30 AM
The weather is still very cold, three men fainted on parade and were carried off. (not through overwork but from severe cold).
Friday Feb 16th 1917
Route march past Fovant
Sat 17th Feb 1917 to 22nd
Nothing much of note occurring. Weather remaining cold & frosty with occassional snow storm.
Men seem used to it now. And do not suffer from sore feet etc but drill well.
We were payed 5 "pounds" each. This was leave pay.
Monday Feb 26th 1917
Four days disembarkation leave is granted
I have a pass for Shildon Railway fair costing $1.8.0 We were marched to Dinton Station and reached there at 9AM. I reached Shildon Station by 8.30 PM and was met by Cousin May & jack, who new me straight away.
It did not take long to reach Eldon Vicarage and I was sorry to find Uncle in bed with influenza. Auntie had a nice supper ready, and after a short chat I went to bed at 10PM.
Cousin Jack went with me the next morning.
Feb 27h 1917 to Bishop Auckland and showed me the Bishop’s palace and Gardens which are very pretty.
After lunch Jack took me over to have a look at the coal mines. We did not go below, but had a good look at the machinery above, and also saw the men drawing coke from the coke ovens.
Wednesday Feb 28th 1917.
Accompanied by Cousin Jack I spent the day having a good look round Eldon & Shildon, and at night spent a very pleasant evening in the Church Hall. The tea and evening was given by Auntie & Mrs Horne to some wounded soldiers who came from a hospital nearby.
The tea & programme was well arranged and the soldiers seemed to have a good time. I enjoyed the evening very much myself.
Thursday March 1st 1917
At 8.11AM I bade goodbye to Auntie & my cousins May, Mabel & Alice and caught the train from
Darlington arriving at Darlington at 8.30 AM. I caught the next train for Eaglescliffe at 9.19AM.
Cousin Jack accompanied me on this trip. We made our way to Yarm to have a look at the town where dad was born.
Old Yarm has not advanced much they have built a New town in front of the old one. And have a very nice Grammar School erected.
The old Grammar School that Dad went to, has been pulled down. But the Church is still standing.
going back to Eaglescliffe.
We caught the train at 11.32 Am bound for Middlesborough where I saw my other cousins & Auntie, I had not long to stay and after dinner I caught the train fro Middlesborough bound for Darlington.
Arriving at Darlington at 2.37PM. Here I was met by Uncle John, who was much better.
Uncle john & Cousin Jack showed me the 1st Engine that ran on a railway in England.
This engine stands on Darlington Station.
We then made our way to a shop on Albert Hill where mum lived years ago. We then visited Nestfield
Chapel where Mother used to go to Sunday School. Uncle then pointed out to me numerous places and
shops that were of interest to Father & Mother.
After Tea. We made our way back to Darlington station, where I bade uncle and cousin Jack goodbye
And boared the train bound for camp.
I enjoyed myself very much during my short stay, with my relations, and found the camp a bit dull after such a good time.
Sat March 3rd 1917
The weather is still very cold & frosty.
And during the night Reinf for the 37 & 38 Battn arrive.
Sunday March 4th 1917
Weather still cold & frosty.
The sun has no heat in this country in the wintertime.
Heavy snow fell during the night.
On Tuesday March 6th 1917 we shifted from Sutton Mandeville Camp to Lark Hill
The reinforcement marched from Sutton Mandeville to Dinton station and entrained for Amesbury.
Arriving at Amesbury we marched into Salisbury Camp. And came to No 10 Durrington Camp, near Lark Hill.
It rained heavily at night, and made the parade ground nice & muddy for next day.
March 7, 1917
Our first parade on Salisbury plain.
Mud up to our ankles, and a very sharp cold march wind blowing made our first parade something to remember.
March 8th 1917
Cold wind still blowing which turned the mud into ice.
On Sunday March 11th 1917 I visited Stone henge. The oldest monument in England.
The stones are very heavy and no one seems to know how they were brought there. Some of them weighing as much as 80 Tons being placed on top of others.
Monday March 12th 1917
On guard for 24 hours.
Nothing of note occurred except that while on Guard at the Motor Garage, at 1AM in the morning I heard someone calling out Stop him!! Stop him!!
A few minutes later a man came running past. I came on guard and called out – "Halt!"
It was pitch dark and the man halted and said that a soldier had engaged him at Portsmouth to bring
him here. (a matter of 40 miles) And that the soldier had cleared out without paying his fare.
I thought this a very mean dispicable trick, for any Australian to do.
Tuesday March 13th 1917
We had a practice review for the Duke of Connaught is to inspect us on Friday.
Friday Mar 16th 1917
Review by the Duke of Connaught cancelled owing to the death of his wife.
Sat March 17th 1917
St Patrick’s Day.
Sunday Mar 18th 1917
In company with two of my mates. Went to Figheldean Village about 4 miles distant to view the spreading Chestnut Tree. That the poet Longfellow celebrated in his poem "The Village Blacksmith".
John Shepherd was the Blacksmiths name, and his grave is in the Churchyard nearby. And round the corner is the old village school also mentioned in the poem.
On the way back from Figheldean we passed through Amesbury. And I met Alan Seymour in the Church Refreshment room. I also met Reg Kellick, Bente Jarvis & Jim Martin all from Kogarah.
Wednesday Mar 21st 1917
The weather still keeps cold & windy.
Thursday Mar 22nd 1917
Snowed heavily all night & morning.
We had plenty of fun in the snow snowballing as the fall was a foot deep. I also had my photo taken in it with Billy Chelman & Tom Tilford.
Friday March 23rd 1917
We are issued with heavy boots, which were very acceptable as the parade ground has become very soft & slippery the mud being up to our ankles owing to the rain on top of the snow.
Saturday March 24th 1917
Nice sunny day
Sunday March 25th 1917
Jack Clulow, Billy Chelman & I visited Salisbury. We had not a pass and although the bus was stopped by M.Ps half way in, we managed to reach there alright.
Salisbury Cathedral is a very interesting old building built in the 12th Century. A long history is attached to it.
Had a good time in the town, and I met Les Harper from Sans Souci. We arrived home in camp about 2AM Monday morning. And were just getting into bed, when the camp was ordered out.
We fell into our clothes and were marched on to the parade ground. It was pretty cold being 3A.M. in the morning.
After we were formed up and had waited about an hour. The parade was dismissed.
The rumour went around next day that an Air raid was anticipated.
Monday March 26th 1917
Heavy snow fell during the night,. Heaviest fall we had seen.
About 18" inches deep.
Friday April 6th 1917
Church in the morning
Parade as usual in the afternoon
We were drawn up in Review order at Bulford and went through the march past in front of General SirNewton Moore.
Easter Saturday April 7th 1917
Our 7th Reinf Arrive
In them were Les Pullen, Harold Manyon & Charley Pitt. Pullen & Manyon are from Kogarah Pitt from Hurstville.
Sunday April 8th 1917
Very cold & windy
Tuesday April 10th 1917
Got two days J.P. No 2 for sleeping in. Punished by having to wheel coal to cook house after parade for 2 nights & 10/- pay stopped for 2 days.
Saturday April 14th 1917
This time of the year is called Spring time but no spring has arrived (even my watch spring has gone bung)
A big batch of Australians marched into our camp to get ready for the big Review to take place on Tuesday April 17th 1917.
Sunday April 15th 1917
An Aeroplane fell near our camp Aviator killed
Tuesday April 17th, 1917
Great gathering of Australians reviewed by the King near Bulford Village. We formed up in one grand parade. When the King arrived the Band struck up the Royal Salute. While we all stood at the salute with fixed bayonets.
The King rode past on a handsome black charger accompanied by his body guard.
After decorating several returned men with medals He took up his stand alongside the Royal Standard. And we prepared to March past.
Light horse first in line of two platoons. Next the Cyclists. Then Artillery then thousands of Infantry, the A.S.C & A.M.C.
The review was on a grand scale, and was very impressive.
While the march past was on, massed bands played martial airs.
Wednesday April 25th 1917
Troops were given a half holiday. As usual we all got dressed up by had no where to go.
The Australian Troopship Ballarat was torpoedoed off the coast of England although 17000 troops were aboard not a life was lost owing to the coolness of the troops and their prompt attention to duty.
Monday April 30th 1917
Musketry course for a week. I passed as a 1st Class shot.
Thursday May 3rd 1917
Reviewed by General Sir John French.
Monday May 7th 1917
Wednesday May 9th 1917
Draft from the 6th Reinf of the 35th, leave for France to reinforce the 3rd Battalion.
Len Bill is among them.
May 21st 1917
German aeroplanes dropped bombs in Folkstone killing a number of civilians.
May 22nd Nothing of note occurred between May 22 & June 5th except our usual training.
I may mention for the past four weeks the country parts of England have been very pretty. The weather being nice & warm has brought out all the beautiful flowers of England.
Hedges are nice & green.
The foliage on the trees is a soft green which looks very pretty.
The country around our camp on Larkhill is split up into fields with beautiful hedges round them.
Some fields are left as meadows, and are covered with daisies & buttercups others have different crops of cereals growing of different shades of green.
One little spot near Amesbury Village is particularly beautiful. Here the River haven runs through some nice shady woods, fat cattle are seen grazing or lying under the shade of the trees. Rich grass here and there sprinkled with daisies & buttercups affords the good food.
Potatoes being scarce in this country, we have dug up all the spare plots round our camp and planted potatoes in.
These are now growing vigorously and if the season keeps good we’ll afford us an ample supply for some months to come.
I forgot t mention in my diary that I visited London on April 15th to 17th and during that time saw a good deal of the big city. Visiting most of the places of note.
Charles Edmund Gray – World War 1 Service Chronology
The following is an extract of key events/dates a taken from the World War One service folio of Charles Edmund Gray. The folio is kept at the National Archives Canberra.
Medical examination (Victoria barracks)
Attestation papers signed/approved (Victoria Barracks)
6/35 Liverpool, Sydney, Pte
Acting Corporal Do. Transports A72
Embarked at Sydney per "Baltana"
Embarked at Melbourne per "SS Indara" Pte
Taken On Strength of 35 Bn from 6 Rfts 35th Bn
Marched in to 9th Training Battalion. Durrington from Sutton Mandeville
Marched out to Larkhill from Dtls Camp Sutton Mandeville
Reverts to rank of Private
Crime: Neglecting to obey Bn routine Orders
Award: 2 days F.P. No. 2 (2 days without pay)
Durrington Camp … "Neglecting to obey Bn. Routine orders in that he stayed in bed after Reveille and did not get out of bed when ordered to do so by an NCO" – Mjr R.T. Hunt
Proceed overseas to France via Southampton
To Hospital sick whilst enroute for England x Australia
Adm to 79th Gen Hospital Taranto. Italy. Sick.
Disc from 79th Gen Hospital Taranto. Italy. Sick
Transferred from 35 Bn to 9th A.I. Bde HQ
Taken on Strength 9th Infantry Bde HQ, A.I.& from 35th Battn.
Mchd in to 15th Tng Bn C’ford from Aust
Tfr to MGC Dts Grantham x 12 Tng Bn C’ford
Taken On Strength of MGC Dtls fro 47th Bn (MG Tng Dep)
Taken On Strength of 47th Bn Dtls (12 Training Bn) from MGC Dtls x 15 Training Bn
To Hospital sick
Overseas to France
Tfr from M.G.Base Depot x Rfts (3rd M.G.Bn)
Wounded in action (Sts 3/M.G. Bn)
Admitted to L of C Hospital WD
Wounded Adm to 73rd Gen Hospital Trouville GSW R/thigh (ser ill)
Inv to U.K. WD
Admitted to Bath War Hospital GSW R/thigh (Sts 3rd MGBn)
Tfr to 3rd Aux Hospital. GSW R/thigh & Knee
Admitted Newcastle Hospital – Chronic Appendicitis
Disc from Hospital to Rep to RTO Victoria
Disc from Hospital and proc to rejoin Unit
Returned to Australia "Themistocles"
Discharge Medically Unfit (MU) 1st MD (sts 11th M.G.S.)
Arrived Sydney fro Overseas
Confirmed for discharge