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 – February 1918
Went for a bicycle ride through beautiful country lanes, (not Southwell) & managed to get back without falling into any female traps.
We are on the last 3 weeks of our course now. This consists of bridging. Results of riding are now out. For saddling I got 10/10 marks, & the written exam 60/80. Riding was classified very good. I have been enquiring about the history of the old ruined castle at Newark. In the days of long ago there was a “Battle of Newark” & presumably the castle was destroyed at that time. It was built in the 11th or 12th century. It was here that King John overate himself & died. The legend says he ate peaches & drank new beer. Oliver Cromwell fought here & it was in this part of the country that the “Wars of the Roses” were fought. The old mounds used by Cromwell are still to be seen. If I remember correctly it was not far from Nottingham where Robin Hood used to roam.
While carrying out heavy bridging we had a surprise visit from Major. General Maxwell, G.O.C. Northern Command. He was G.O.C. in Egypt in 1915. He asked me if I was an Australian & was proud to say “yes sir”. What contingent did you leave Australia with. The 1st Division sir. Were you wounded on Gallipoli. No sir but evacuated with enteric. Poor chap, are you quite well now. Yes thanks sir, 100%.
Course finished & handed in my clothes etc. Held our farewell dinner tonight & leave Kelham Hall tomorrow. The dinner was confined to Australians & New Zealanders from all the various courses, 25 Aussies & 4 N.Z’s. The idea was to get to know each other as we are bound to meet again in France at any old time. We had to rely upon our rations & very few extras. It was a most enjoyable evening, finishing at 9 p.m. in the same orderly manner that we commenced. We meant to show these English gentry conclusively that Australians can behave themselves. It was the quietest dinner on record. Last nights are generally rowdy affairs & last all night. But our name is good at Kelham Hall & we intend to keep it so. Yesterday we had an inter class sports meeting. Our class won the cup mainly to the efforts of an Australian who was a good athlete. I entered for all the horse events but won nothing, but it was good fun. I only entered for one running event as I had a bad foot. To my surprise I won it easily & was sorry that I had not entered for other events. My prize was an oxidised cigarette case with the Royal Engineers badge on it.
Complete list of exam results:–
Military Law 76% Riding Very Good.
Interior Economy 71% Saddling 10/10
Defense Scheme 80% Horse Management 60/80
Working party Scheme 85%
Field Works 73%
Left Newark at 2 a.m. wearing my officers uniform & 1 pip for the first time. On arrival in London went to a Hotel near our A.I.F. Hd. Qrs in Victoria, had a brush up, & breakfast. Reported at Hd. Qrs at 9 a.m, received my Commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, pay increased to 21/-, given an allowance of ?15 to purchase kit, issued with a Sam Brown, sugar coupons, & railway warrants. I then proceeded to the clothing stores & bought most of my kit. The whole outfit cost ?20, only ?5 in excess of the allowance. The revolver & field glasses were issued. Had a few hours sleep at the Hotel during the afternoon, the first since the night before last. Then paid my Aunt Mrs. Roger McKie a visit at Gunnersbury. She is a B.A. & speaks several languages including German, & works in the censorship dept. for the duration of the war.
Trying to get in touch with Tom Prince & Col. Bennet. Tom wants me to go for a flight. Nothing doing Tom.
Left London for Manchester at noon, to visit my Uncle Jim McKie & of my cousin Jamie who was badly wounded at Arras last year. He is still in hospital poor chap, but is hopeful of being discharged soon. His spine has been injured.
Left Edinburgh at 10 a.m. for Kilmarnock. There was a blizzard in Edinburgh & there was a heavy fall of snow. I was covered in snow in a matter of minutes, nearly missing the train owing to the stoppage of electric trams.