After training in Colchester, Jack travelled to Liverpool with the 4th Battalion Norfolk Regiment. From there they embarked on the SS Aquitania bound for the Dardanelles. They arrived in Moudros, Lemnos on 5th August 1915.
During the voyage Jack earned extra pay working as a stoker in the ship’s boiler room. From this point on, Jack kept a diary, a graphic record of his daily life and the chaos of the Dardanelles.
The diary begins on Monday 9th August 1915...
Left Lemnos on “SS Osmanieh, Khedivial Mail Co." at about 3:30pm Monday August 9th and stopped a few miles from the firing line at ____. Passed scores of operations en route and could see and hear heavy guns firing from battleship nearer land. Could see flash of guns and search lights at intervals during the night. At 1pm Tuesday our boats drew in a few miles closer to the firing line (Gulf of Saros). Booming of guns continuous and much louder. Can see shells bursting.
Name of place Kurija Dere. We landed just as it was getting dark, proceeding a mile or two in pitch dark over rough ground covered with patches of stumpy grass. We then bivouaced for the night and were told to get as much rest as possible in order to be up at dawn.
Map of the area
Up at 4 o'clock. Stand to arms for 2 hours. Help to carry stores and munitions out from landing stage to H.Q. Without water for a time.
Up at 4 o'clock. Directly after breakfast went out with h+s [ED:???]. Saw a dead man on the way, was the first taste of war for me. While working, a shrapnel bust close by, but no damage done. Several shells fell round about. I was water carrier, so after a while I went back, but after being there a day was told to join company at Firing line. While walking their saw awfull sights of wounded and killed.
RF [ED:???] busy looking for water. Found a mudy pool which we would not think of drinking in England, but the water was a treat. During morning our men of our platoon were sent to carry rashens to men in the 1st line. I was one. We went under heavy rifel and shell fire. 1 man killed and some wounded getting there. When we got there luckily we found a well of cold water, quite a treat too. We then waited for orders to go back or some guide to take us, but the fire was so heavy we had to stop there till night time. On twilight the Essex came to releive us. When they were advancing the snipers were so heavy and the shell, they thought we were firing at them, so they began to fire at us with machine guns. It gave me a shock. After a while we got home and rested for the night.
Up at dawn. Set to work dodging bullets.
Up at dawn in trench where there were snipers not far off. Several of our fellows were wounded. Then that continued till night. Then there was silence for a time.
Up at dawn in same trench, snipers not so much trouble. Battle ship shell on our left but her guns done good work. We enlarged dug out, made it more comfortable.
From dug out in firing line
A nothing doing much. My mate went down at last to fetch water. He Brought some sugar and meat back so we had a good supper that night. He was done up so I done his guard for him. While I was doing it, the enemy tried to break the lines in search light, but it did not come off.
Up before dawn and shifted into trenches 20 yards behind firing line. Supposed to be rest trenches. Improvement in rations, tea, sugar bacon, jam, dessicated vegetables, biscuits, condenced milk and corn beef, so had a proper fill out. After that we had order to stand too at 5pm, but did shift that night.
Awaken by our machine Guns and rifels about 4am. We then shifted into our dug outs we left the previous day. Good news, we heard the mail had arrived.
Dinner time in the trench. 22nd August 1915
Up at dawn. Move into rest trenches. Great improvement in rations. About 7am I was called upon to act as stretcher bearer. While stopping to rest was wounded by shrapnel. Went to dressing station and had it dressed. I then walked to a red cross place where I had some coffee which was a treat. They took me to another place close to the sea to wait for ship ready to get on Hospital ship.
Woke up finding a comrade dead which had suffered greatly during teh night. Breakfast came, tea, bread and bacon, quite a treat after biscuits for 3 weeks. They took us to the hospital ship (S.S. Nevasa Glasgow) in small towing boats drawn by a small steamer. I saw many wounded brought in and had their wounds dressed. I had mine done again about 9:30am. I then rested for a time till dinner came. We had some lovely stew and rice which was also a treat. We could not hear so much of the guns, only slight and so we carried on till the rest of that day.
Woke up finding ship was sailing just before dawn. First she stopped at Lemnos. We had breakfast. After that we had our wounds dressed. Then went up stairs finding a Thetford pall, so it was company for me.
Up at 6am, breakfast at 8am. Had our wounds dressed again. During the morning the ______ [ED: Itonas???], another Hospital ship, drew up beside us. I wondered what she came for but I soon saw the orderlys taking the stretcher cases off our boat and putting them on her. I watched them for several minutes. I then went on her myself and had a look round. Saw Indians painting the ships bow. It was a sight to see them climb the ropes with their big toe. Of course I could not speak to them. I soon found out that there was a canteen there, so I went and fetch my mate some chocolate. Had wounds dressed. After dinner we shifted off the Nevasa on to a little steam boat and landed to another hospital. We were sorted out to different camps and had light refreshments when landed. Tea time came, then we rested for the night.
Lemnos harbour seen from a hospital tent
Up at 6am. After breakfast had my wounds dressed. Some of us were sent to the Converleson for a rest.
Jack now records a series of dates in his diary. These range from Tuesday 31st August to Friday 10th September (August and September are confused in places). This is presumed to be the dates of his convalescence. No entries are made during this period.
Discharged from converleson.
Took to Moudros West.
I returned to duty with the boys who were at Anzask [ED: Anzac Cove]. I was rather supprised to find such a small battalion, but the rest of them still stuck it. Some of the boys had altered so I did not know them. Some of them had got so thin and wore out. Well the next day I was sent out with a Fateeg party [ED: Fatigue party] to Hill 10 trench digging. I saw some sights as I was going along the sap. I saw a dead mans fingers sticking out of the ground. There were one or two snipers above, but not so many as there was on the left. The next day I was sent to our own trenches, where I saw some more sights. The turks were only 100 yards away in some places. I was greatly interested in the periscope. I asked if I could look through. There I saw, about 5 yards in front of the trench, a group of dead men laying, some turks and some of our own men. I could see the Turks trenches quite plain, but not the Turks. As I was walking along the sap I saw a periscope rifel I was also interested in that it...
The main diary entries finish with these stamps