Topic: AAC-Photo Albums
Australian Service Personnel
HAHN's Postcard, Port Said Rest Camp, 5 August 1917, Album Contents
Port Said Rest Camp, 5 August 1917
The following album contains extracts from a postcard sent by 264 Sergeant Howard James HAHN, a 27 year old Labourer from Adelaide, South Australia. He enlisted on 20 October 1914 and was allotted to 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment, AIF, "B" Squadron, which embarked from Melbourne, Victoria on board HMAT A10 Karroo 11 February 1915.; and at the conclusion of the war Returned to Australia, 10 July 1919.
This particular picture relates to the Port Said Rest Camp. To set the scene illustrated in the obverse of the primary photograph which was taken at Port Said Rest Camp on 4 August 1917, we need to fill in some of the background to how this camp came about and what was there during August 1917.
Owing to the increasingly poor health of the men of the Desert Mounted Corps, under the trying conditions in which they were working, Colonel Downes, A.,D.M.S. AI.F. in Egypt, recommended that they should all be given a change and rest for an appreciable period. The G.O.C. A.I.F. in Egypt (Lieut. General Sir H. Chauvel) took the matter up and it was decided that a rest camp on the seaside should be established, and that all the mounted troops of the Desert Corps, English and New Zealanders, as well as Australians should partake of its benefits. Two sites were suggested:
- (1) Port Said.
(2) El Arish.
Port Said was decided upon after both placed were inspected and reported on by Lieut. Buckland. At Port Said the men would get a more complete change than in the desert at El Arish.
Sanitation could be very satisfactorily dealt with as the camp site was near a main sewer. Good roads surrounded the camp on all sides so that transport was simplified. The site was only 120 yards from the sea, and there was a splendid beach in front of it. It was decided that the Camp should accommodate 700 men at a time, that they should have eight clear days in the Camp and that this should take the place of leave to Cairo and Alexandria.
The men in the leave party were to receive special leave pay at the rate of fifty piastres per day for ranks under corporal and other ranks to receive pay in proportion.
£10,000 was to be provided by the Y.M.C.A. for Kitchens, huts and amusements.
Close to the Camp also was the Empire Club, under the charge of Mrs Chisholm, which offered many advantages to the men.
Huts etc. could not be built before the first party from the desert arrived , which was to take place on August 1st 1917, so provision was made to start the camp under canvas.
The whole of the Staff working at the Camp, consisted of "B" class men, and were taken from Australian and New Zealand Training Camp, Moascar.
The Camp was opened on 1 August 1917, and the first batch of 700 men arrived. On arrival the men received tea and cakes from the YMCA, were de1oused, and their blankets were taken from them for disinfection. New blankets were already in their tents, and after a swim, they had a good meal in the Camp. Five men were allotted to each tent, which all ready for occupation.
Satisfactory temporary sanitation was provided, and extra flush latrines and showers were in the course of erection.
The kitchens were complete but not in full running order. The meat house was not quite completed.
Stalls for boot cleaning, barber's shops etc. were situated on vacant land close to the camp site, and were under the control of the Camp Commandant.
No AIF canteen was established as men could make use of local shops, Y.M.C.A. and Empire club.
Arab Town was placed out of bounds, but as a safeguard a venereal prophylactic tent was established.
Copies of Camp Standing Orders were placed in conspicuous places in the camp, and the men were warned about local bars and eating houses. Certain of these were put out of bounds and others after inspection were allowed to be used.
By this stage in the war, it was recognised that the men would do pretty well what they liked on leave and to save loss of soldiers to disease, precautions could be taken. The venereal prophylactic tent (a quaint way to describe a condom distribution centre) was one clear illustration that blaming the soldier or the prostitutes was not the way to halt the transmission of disease.
This outline sets the scene for the following entries.
Listings in the Album
Citation: Australian Service Personnel, Photograph Albums, HAHN's Postcard, Port Said Rest Camp, 5 August 1917, Service Stories, Album Contents