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 1917
…This ends the first week at Newark. We get up in the dark hours 6 a.m. Parade at 7.15. Breakfast at 8. Parade at 8.45 until 1 o’clock for instruction & then again 2 until 4 p.m. Tea is at 5 p.m. On alternate nights we have lectures at 5.30 to 6.30 on Military Law & Interior Economy. Dinner is at 7.45 & the evening is then free. Lights out at 10.45. So you see the day is quite a busy one. It is most essential to be spotless, all brass work highly polished, & above all punctual.
It has been a most strenuous week & has been bitterly cold, hard frosts & frozen ground. The 7.15 a.m. parade is in the dark, but they soon warm us up with violent exercise. Every other day we go to the riding school which is most popular. We occasionally go for long rides through the country lanes. We have been taught hurdle jumping. I felt in a blue fit at my first jump, but soon got the hang of it & enjoyed it. Then we had to go over without stirrups or reins. Only 2 came forward a Scotsman & myself. To my surprise we both did well, but none of the others could be induced to make the attempt.
…Russia & Roumania have had enough & have asked for peace with Germany, a peace dictated by Germany. This will release the whole of the German Army for the Western Front now. Had it not been for America we would be in a very bad way. We will be up against a powerful German offensive in Spring & anything may happen. They will do their utmost to take the Channel ports & drive us into the sea…
This completes our first 3 weeks of the course & we are finished with the drill square & riding school. We have had our exam in Military Law & Interior Economy, both being fairly easy. One class completed their course yesterday & they finished up with a dinner. It was a rowdy night. They are now 2nd Lieuts. Glad when our turn comes.
Have been very busy on Field Works which is easy. The majority of English Cadets have not seen service & that makes a big difference. Today I was exempt from duty so that I could wire our bedrooms for electric lights. One up for me.
Working on the lights for our bedrooms & am enjoying it. Quite like old times in Broken Hill. Results of Military Law exam out today. I passed easily with 105 out of 140 marks, which is good considering that I was unable to answer all the questions due to insufficient time.
Went to Church in the morning. It was Scotch & was all foreign to me. In the afternoon had a most enjoyable walk through the Glens, & did some sliding on the ice. Would have liked some skates & that would have been lovely. It does not seem like Christmas. Food is very scarce & everything difficult to obtain. Rationing is very severe. It is certain now that there are dark days ahead in the new year, & we will be forced on the defensive in France. This is due to the liberation of large German forces from the Russian front It is not a pleasant outlook for the new year, but have no doubt that the position can be handled until eventually we win the last big battle. This time next year we should be in a good position & better able to see the silver lining.
It is very hard to realise that it is Xmas Day, but it is typical with snow everywhere.
I have come to the conclusion that it will be a cake walk to get my commission, & do not consider that the result of exams are so very important. What does appear to count most is your character & suitability as an officer. For example the officers who instruct us are with us all the time, at work, at play, at meals & at leisure. This mixing is to help them to appraise the value of their pupils. From my own personal observation the average Australian can behave himself & show greatly superior manners to the representatives of the nobility of England. We have a number of them in our Battalion, well born blue blooded aristocrats that they are, yet they are either pigs, snobs or cads… We have one particular mother’s darling little cherub just off the apron strings who told our Captain at mess, that he had come to the conclusion that the more he mixed with the “working class”, the more he realised the advantages of breeding. He was snubbed by the Captain who did not reply to the remark. Many of us heard the remark & we have put our heads together to take it out of his hide in no gentle manner…