Topic: BatzS - Suez 1915
Suez Canal Attack
Egypt, January 28 - February 3, 1915
12/774 Private William David Kemp's Diary
The following is an extract from:
The diary entries regarding the action at the Suez from 12/774 Private William David Kemp, 16th Waikato, Auckland Infantry Battalion.
Had a fairly easy day and had a little drill, and then marched down to canal & had a swim. After dinner we had relay races & thirteen platoon top the score. While down there we saw some Australians & N.Z. troops sailing through the canal. Got back to camp had some tea, then went up town for some foodstuffs. Ismailia is a very pretty place situated in the midst of palms, and other trees. To see it from where we are one would think it was just a forest but and lovely drives to the lake on the Canal. Mic & Alex received note from Charley Neber passing through the canal. He threw it off the transport & one of the 3rd Coy boys which were on guard on the edge of the Canal swam out and got it & brought it back to camp & in the evening he came to our tent & gave it to Mic & Alex it was very curious getting them like that
Had church parade in morning had dinner, and about two o clock orders came out that thirteen platoon to prepare for outpost & had to fall in as soon as possible. We marched out of camp about four miles, & relieved the Gurkas of their Post on the banks of the canal. They are very good trenches. The distance from our trenches to the other side of the Canal is 200 yds. Six of us maned the trenches that evening & I was one of them. Two of us went on at a time, for two hours on & four hours off during the night, no Turks came in sights. A party of Indian troops passed our front, on patrol and came back about four hours later.
In the morning we were releived [sic] by a fresh party of our boys & we had a spell for the rest of the day. We took some rice out with us & boiled a dixy for breakfast & it was tip-top. Several ships passed through the Canal while on guard there. About four (PM) the sixteen Platoon came down to releive our platoon, so Tony & I went on to the ferry, about one mile away to get the transport to go back & get our blankets but he had to much of a load on, & had to leave them but just as our platoon was on leaving some camals [sic] came along, & they packed the blankets on two of them & brought into camp. Tony & I came on & got some tea boiled for the boys. I forgot to state that there was a very unfortunate accident on Monday morning. There are about a dozen (R) A.M.C. attached to their battery in case any of them are wounded, & two of these were sleeping in a trench which they had rigged up to put wounded in during the shrapnel firing, & was covered over with board & two feet of sand on top it collapsed & were buried alive. I went over to their camp to get some water, & they took me to see the poor fellow, & they were very much cut about. It was a great pity they should loose their lives in such a manner.
Practised entraining in the morning, & light drill in afternoon. Heard firing over canal not far from us both rifle & big guns very warm, a little rain last night. Some of the Cant. Batt. Left hurriedly tonight in armoured train & all our leave stopped so we may see some fun very soon.
Sargeant came round half past five in morning woke us up & said we had to be on fatigue at to six. We loaded kit bags carted them down to the depot. Seen 36 Turkish prisoners in the train on their way to Cairo. Met John on the platform. After tea seen some four hundred Turk prisoners some badly wounded, also a Spy & West Aferican.1020 Turks captured. Trains stopped running, & boats stopped from going through the canal. Officer in charge of the Turks which was a German hoisted the white flag & when our officer went forward shot him dead then the Indians nearly wiped them out.
Did a little drill in the morning. In camp in afternoon & went on fatigue from eight P.M. till ten carting bread & meat from station.
Had a lie in this morning. Orders have come round to prepear for a minutes notice & are all ready. Friday evening, Been in waiting all day got orders tonight to prepear for a early start in the morning, revellie at three a.m., and proceeding over the canal to attack the Turks.
Note: The diary entries have not been modified so as to give the full flavour of the language, spelling and grammar, hence the obvious errors. To correct them would be to dilute the authentic voice of the man telling the story.