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.
Avery, Louis Willyama – December 1916
Dec 5th Still working on the railway. Occasionally Fritz shell us but not near enough to do any harm. An Aussie with a bag under his arm asked me if there were any bodies about. I inquired why & he said his Colonel had sent him out to get some souvenirs. I pointed to Deville Wood & told him that there were plenty of Fritzes over there, but take care that you don’t become a body yourself. Deville Wood was being heavily shelled at the time so guess he returned to his Colonel empty handed.
Dec. 10th. Tried to brighten up our evening tonight by having a sing song using 2 combs as instruments. It was not long before a clod of earth landed on our roof. Our attempt at harmony evidently was not appreciated.
Dec.12th Out surveying today for a railway. Work delayed by falling snow. The roads are very slushy now, often knee deep in places, mostly half way up the leg below the knee. Am thinking of growing feathers & web feet. Quack, quack.
Dec 16th. Returning to my hut tonight I fell into a shell hole full of water & mud.
Dec 17th. Went up to the front line 4 miles away to night with a party making deep dugouts. We had to walk on duck boards all the way. If you missed you would fall deep into a river of mud. Returned at midnight feeling dead tired.
Dec 20th. The ground is frozen hard now & it is much easier for walking. Returning from the front line today Jerry was shelling with 9.2” shells. We had to pass through this area following the duckboard tracks. One shell in particular was far too close to be comfortable, our party being covered with mud & falling debris. Fortunately no one was hurt. My own feelings registered a great fright & a peculiar sensation in my stomach. Each one of us tried to look brave externally & to hide our real feelings from each other. We were too proud to shelter or even to run (Later we were glad to run for shelter, & it would have been madness not to do so.).
Dec. 25th. The weather has been atrocious for some time & even biting gales… Had a shave this morning for the festive occasion. The shave virtually amounts to scraping the mud & dirt off ones face. At 4.30 5 of us assembled in my semi hut dugout to enjoy all the good things we had been saving up from parcels sent to us. We were 3 hours celebrating, eating, drinking (chocolate & 2 bottles of wine). making speeches & singing. We created such a row that our neighbours thought that we had scrounged a case of whisky & nosed round to find out. Each one of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves & forgot all about the muddy war.
Dec. 30th. Working from 4.30 to midnight now instead of midnight to dawn. We are building machine gun posts in the front line. Fritz shelled all night & only covered us with mud & water…