This diary has been written for your benefit, Dad’s, Lil, Claud, Gus, Clyde and Vera's and as each days events has been entered my thoughts have always been with you all. That is why I have kept this diary going. Letters that I have received from you all have been most encouraging and I feel proud to belong to such a spartan family. I am glad to know that you take a pride in having Reg and I over here fighting instead of staying at home. And you can rest assured that Reg and I will do everything that is honourable and shun all that is not. However I must get on with this summary.
(Later) The Postal Department. Papers very seldom reach their destination and thousands of letters must have gone astray. If one gets a parcel he his lucky. Out of 32 parcels that I know of being sent to me, I only received 13. The rest couldn’t have gone astray and I have noticed that the postal clerks never want for anything.
One day at Lemmos I caught one red handed. I walked into the tent and one of the clerks was hastily disposing of the contents of a parcel. I snapped the paper (the wrapper) from him and it had the address of a friend of mine on it. That is the way parcels disappear. There are other instances too numerous to mention.
Something might also be said about the gift stuff. That was treated about the same way as the rations were, only they went through Divisional HQ, then Brigade, then Regimental HQs and finally to us. After the various HQs had their pick you will understand that there was not much left for us. Say for instance, a bottle of sauce, pickles or a small tin of fruit would have to go round a troop (35 men).
J. A. Graham
Am at Aust Base waiting to rejoin my Regt. Am trying for permission to go to school for UCO and later officers School of Instruction.
(Later): When we arrived in Egypt we noticed more than ever that gifts which should have been distributed to us were confiscated by the officers and others who had charge of the Red Cross goods here. Anything that was not much good we got. One could go anywhere in Cairo and more especially to the Bazaars and buy things with the Red Cross stamp on it.
Things were getting so bad that everyone noticed it and at least the news of this scandalous conduct got back to Australia, whereupon a Commission left Australia under Eric Lloyd Jones of the firm of David Jones and Budden. Upon investigation they soon got to the root of things as a result that Colonel Barrett, Colonel Ramsay-Smith and Matron Bell were hauled over the coals.
The three were on the staff of the Aust General Hospital at Heliopolis and by scheming and planning they obtained huge quantities of goods from the Red Cross Base in Cairo and immediately sold the things in bulk to the Bazaars (Col Barrett by the way, was an ear, nose and eye specialist in Victoria before enlisting). They must have made a fine haul as the selling of these goods had been going on for months.
Barrett and Matron Bell were discharged from the service and I never leant what they did to Smith. Since then things have been much better.
J. A. Graham
Left Zeitoun under sealed order for Tel-el-Kibir.
J. A. Graham
Tel-El-Kebir, Egypt. 1916-04-25. Men of 5th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force (AIF), attending a sports carnival to commemorate Anzac Day. The men are sitting and standing in the form of a huge square, probably watching a game of Australian Rules football. (ID No: P00851.009): https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P00851.009
Went to Cairo and had dinner with Solomon Saleno Bey. Also met his daughters Senedi and Royehia looking more beautiful than ever. (Diary 12 April 1915.)
Senedi a second Cleopatra as far as beauty goes. Told her when the war was over I’d marry her. Her English is good. The way she speaks it is most fascinating. I always think English with French or Arabic pronunciation is very pretty.
She proposed putting 1000 Pounds towards buying a café in Sydney. I am to be the manager whilst she sits at the cashiers desk in her national costume. She says it will draw the people. Poor senedi I did not think she took it seriously. I suppose I’ll see the last of her when I leave Egypt. If I were living in Egypt it would be different but I couldnt take her to Australia she gave me a lock of hair
And a little gold charm to wear round my neck.
J. A. Graham
Jack Graham, ANZAC soldier, kept a diary from 1914-1918. Here it is, blogged 100 years later to the day....