Three Australian officers at Gallipoli, identified from left to right: Lieutenant Roy Kernot of the 1st Division Engineers; Lieutenant Edward Stanley Whitehead of the 3rd Field Company Engineers and Lieutenant Louis Willyama Avery (later MM) of the 1st Division Engineers. The three friends were all associated with the Silverton Tramway Company in Broken Hill and survived the war. image courtesy Australian War Memorial P00244.001
Avery, Louis Willyama – April 1917
…Advised today that my name has been submitted to Divisional Hd. Qrs. to attend & Engineers School in England for my Commission. This is good news but it may take some time yet depending on vacancies.
…We hear that the U.S.A. has at last declared war on Germany.
Orders to move closer to the line to a place called Velu. Our Section is billeted in the cellar of at one time appeared to be the home of some French Aristocrat. When we were all settled down for the night someone heard the ticking of a clock. We searched carefully for wires, explosives & the clock but it could not be located. We did not waste any time gathering our kit & we cleared out into the open. Several days later the place blew up. Phew. What a miss.
… marched off in the dark in battle order at 1.30 a.m. arriving at 2nd Battalion Hd. Qrs. in a gully near Doignies. At 5.30, just as dawn was breaking we were ordered to the far side of Hermies which had just been taken. We passed through Hermies … & took up a position just beyond… We were immediately spotted, being subjected to constant rifle & machine gun fire. We did not require any further encouragement to dig & we dug like hell until we had holes to protect us. There were none of our Infantry between us & the Hun. Then he started to shell our position practically picking up the exact range from the first salvo. …We knew it was sure to happen sooner or later, when at last a shell scored a direct hit on part of our trench. 3 of the 14 men in that area were wounded. It was my party. I ordered the party to retire to the shelter of the village taking our wounded with us… My section officer was one of the 3 wounded. Both of his legs were shattered & it is doubtful if he will live.
…Came across what was once a most magnificent Chateaux near the village. The Chateaux must have been of wonderful architecture & very elaborate. Marble pillars, oak woodwork, & minarettes. Three Hun mines had done their work… The place was levelled to the ground, vines in the hot houses cut down, beautiful trees & fruit trees cut a foot above the ground…It made my blood boil to see such wicked destruction.
…went out with Lt. Price our new Section officer, to choose a position for a new strong point… We located & taped out an excellent position. I returned to Hermies, met our party & guided them out to the new post… At about 10 pm we heard a great explosion from the rear. It was a delayed mine in Hermies.
Returned to our dugout at 3.30 a.m. & slept till 1 p.m. with one rude awakening at 10 a.m. when another mine went off… The crater was 75 yards across.
At 7 p.m. I went out with a party to dig a strong point in front of Demicourt…There was no opposition & it was a quiet night. Hundreds of German dead were scattered along the road & may more in the open country. They wore new uniforms & their equipment was new, so apparently this was their first & last battle. Most of them looked very young & you could not help feeling sorry for them.
…Today a large mine exploded in a stable near the Velu railway station… We are also in stables & it is not a very nice thought to ponder over the possibility of a mine blowing us up. We could not discover any trace of one & in any case were far too tired to worry about it. If we go up, well probably it would not even wake us up.
…7 p.m. set off for Hermies with 3 men to erect a wire entanglement…The position was extremely dangerous being under observation from a chalk dump not 200 yards away held by Fritz. He sent over 200 pineapple bombs which fell as close as 50 yards away. Our own 18 pounders in the rear caused us more concern than Fritz. The shells fell short, beyond & practically on top of us. We dont mind Fritz having a go at us, but it is beyond the limits of a joke to be shelled by our own stupid artillery.
Relieved by a Company of Royal Engineers …. It did not take us long to make shelters ready for the night. Thank goodness we are now well away from the front line. We received a Decca Gramophone, 50 records & 6000 needles, a present from the League of Loyal Women of Australia to No 2 Section. Oh joy…
(2nd Anzac Day)! …We were inoculated today. If we get many more holes in our arms, they will resemble the Somme Battle field.
Received a letter from my cousin Jamie Mc. Kie to say that he had been wounded at Arras. He was hit in the small of the back by a piece of shell, a steel shield he was wearing saving him.
Had a hot bath today, the first bath for 5 or 6 weeks.