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 – November 1917
The Gothas were humming all night, dropping their eggs. Two fell close to our horse lines, but no damage was done.
Paid at 7 pm tonight & while rubbing our hands were quietly informed that Nos 2 & 3 Sections would leave at 4.30 a.m. for the line to relieve Nos 1 & 4 Sections…
Rudely awakened at 3.30 a.m. breakfast at 4 &OFF TO Kruistatt Dump to meet motor lorries, which took us as far as possible along Menin Road. We tramped to Westock where a guide met us & led the way to Zonebeck. We had shelters in a sunken Road about 1000 yards from the font line. Fritz is paying too much attention to this area for my liking. He has the jumps fearing another attack We are erecting barbed wire & making shelters for the infantry.
Had a very damp, uncomfortable sleep on the mud in a hole during the night. Could not stretch my legs & it was fairly cold. Old Fritz gave us gip from midnight until dawn with all sorts of guns. Not 10 yards away a dugout was blown to bits, the occupant receiving a broken leg. At this moment a Gotha is flying up & down the line doing just what he likes & the beast is spraying us with machine gun bullets… I have not seen one of our planes out since we arrived… They talk about our gallant airmen, yet I have not seen a scrap on this front so far.
Slept in until 8. a.m. when the orderly woke me up. A heavy bombardment was in progress, possibly the Canadians attacking on our left flank. We have started to take care of our feet again & I had to check each man to see that it was done. This is a protection against trench feet. Instead of whale oil we wash our feet in hot water using camphorated soap, afterwards powdering them like sissies. Went to hear the 1st Division Concert Party, called the Kookaburras during the afternoon. They were splendid. Am feeling very off colour tonight, sickish, a sore throat & headache. Suspect gas as we had plenty of it during our last trip to the line & had to sleep in our respirators.
Received orders to go out to the line with a party of 30 men at 1.30 a.m. but the Sgt. Major saw I was not fit & detailed another Corporal…In the afternoon I attended sick parade & was put off duty immediately. My tonsils are badly swollen & everything point to poison gas. I knew we had been in tear gas, but the Bosche is very cunning & mixes his gases some of which are colourless & odourless…
Left our camp at Café Bdge near Dickebusch for a camp called Winnipeg about 3 miles back. We marched out at 9.30 a.m marching past General Birdwood. Of course it would rain & made the going rotten…
Up at 4.30 a.m. Breakfast at 5. Parade 5.30. & made all ready to move out at 6.45. We left on time with full packs, but after going 3 miles we received orders to halt. We received the glad news to put our packs on the pontoon waggons. We skirted St. Omer, passing through Arques & Lumbres to a little village called Happe. That is more than we felt. We must have marched more than 24 miles today, & our feet & legs were extremely stiff & painful for the last 10 miles. Only 2 men fell out of the march, though many of us would like to have done so…
Parade at 9 a.m & while accompanying the officer on inspection of the Section, word came for me to report immediately to the Orderly Room. There I received instructions to catch the train at Neilles Berquin immediately for Boulogne & thence to London. I soon packed my belongings, got a bicycle & rode to the railway station 5 miles away & caught the 11.15 am train. At 1.45 I was on board the Channel Steamer at Boulogne. At 7.15 p.m I was at Horseferry Road, Australian Hd. Qrs. London drawing pay, bathing & being issued with new clothes & uniform.
Nov 16th Went to Horseferry Road at 9 a.m. & it hurt & disgusted me to see the parade of the staff. Tall, healthy, fit men, swanky uniforms, all spit & polish, hell it knocked me rotten. These chaps should all be in France & their places filled by the unfit… To business. I received instructions to proceed to the Royal Engineers Cadet School at Newark near Nottingham on the 25th November, & can go & do what I like during the next 10 days. What a wonderful feeling to be absolutely free & off the army chain for a while, with London at my feet. What was a poor lonely battle tired warrior to do now…
Caught a train for Kilmarnock… I found my way to the Woods house & gave them a surprise. Went to the theatre in the evening, but was disgusted with the show. It was absurd rot.
Spent most of the day writing & enjoying a good rest. It is great to be in a home again & to sit by a fire. Went to a picture show in the evening with my cousin Muriel. Just fancy. I wear pyjamas here & Auntie puts a hot water bottle in my bed. I could not refuse as she fusses over me like a broody hen & I do not want to offend…
Left London for Newark, & we are at a very swank place called Kelham Hall. There are 5 other Australians here for the course. Have removed my stripes & am now called cadet. Am very favourably impressed with this lovely place & it should prove to be a comfortable home for 3 months. It accommodates about 500 men. There is a fine lounge, writing room, library & a small Chapel. The grounds are very extensive.
The place is fully staffed by W.A.C.S. (Womens Auxiliary Army Corps). Who wait on us & attend to the rooms. What a life. Everything is excellently regulated & any funny business means that the Cadet is returned to his unit. Hence they are treated with cool contempt
Have done very little in way of training yet, but have been fixed up with gear etc, interviewed by the C.O. & our Captain, measured for officer pattern uniforms, and had our photographs taken in a large group.
Spent today at the riding school which came naturally to me, though I have not done very much riding previously, except occasionally at a sheep station near Broken Hill. I was chosen to ride at the head of our troup. The general impression is that all Australians can ride horses.
At the riding school, grooming horses for an hour. Then we had more riding lessons including riding without stirrups. I was very stiff after our ride today.