Volume 2: Letters written on active service, M-W, 1914-1919 - Page 507
29th July, 1915
This letter is intended to be general, of course, as are all my letters addressed to the G.P.O. In answering a letter which Kath was good enough to send along to me I told her that I would answer yours by the following mail but before I got the chance to carry out this good intention our hospital began to take in wounded and men suffering from the usual round of complaints. As a consequence I have had little or no time for writing other than those at home, which I consider absolutely necessary. I often recall your words of advice on this matter among other things you were thoughtful enough to lay before me on leaving. I can truthfully say that I have never neglected to write home every week that it has been at all possible to do so.
I found great pleasure in reading your letters but fancy your considering it necessary to mention, after relating your little jokes about the machine room – that "it might seem trivial to me." Why, do you know, it is just these little touches that go to make up a truly interesting letter. It brought up a perfect picture in my mind of my dear old friends in the shop. I can image I can see Dave coming in through the back door after his "take in." And poor old Dave. I think his age should exempt him from these jokes.
To make my letter interesting to you I would need to tell you what has been happening to us boys; but there is such a restriction on what we say that I am afraid it is almost useless wasting the time and paper that such a record would utilize. Nevertheless I intend to send along a letter that will give you some idea of what we went through on the memorable 26th April and the week that followed it, believing that an account of my impressions and the story from an A.M.C. man's point of view may interest you. I am fully aware that many of you may have wearied yourselves with the repeated history of the part Australia played here at the Dardanelles, so I will try and confine myself to that which directly concerns myself and those intimately known to you all.
In relating my experiences I don't think I can do better than give it to you as I wrote it in my diary, for the reason that it was written as soon after the occurrence as I found it possible and therefore contains impressions which have since become commonplace to me, and which for that reason I may neglect to mention. On glancing through it as it is now before me I am afraid it will eat up a good deal of paper, but if I curtail it a little and write small I think I can get it in about a dozen pages, and I will have to chance the censor.
After an entry relating to our leaving Egypt and our arrival at Lemnos Is. (Friday 23rd May) it goes on to say: –
"S.S. Seong Choon [Seang Choon], Alexandra, Sunday 2nd May. Had I written on the morning after coming at anchor I should, no doubt, have had a lot to say about this harbour – I can't say port – as under ordinary conditions I don't suppose ships often call here. But on this Saturday morning there must have been over 300 transports and vessels of war in the harbour, few of which could be seen from the open sea; and to anyone like ourselves it comes as a surprise to find such a wonderful large bay with so small an entrance. It was very impressive sight that met our eyes on the morning following our arrival. There was every type of war craft represented from the sub-marine to the now famous "Queen Lizzie," whose 15" guns none of us (who were at this time on the trams ship "Hindoo" [Hindoo transported wounded from Gallipoli to Lemnos Island]) ever thought to be witness to the deadly work they accomplished. All day on Saturday the 24th troopships of the Allies continued to sail out and away without making any apparent difference to the number of ships left. We on the
[Written sideways in the left-hand margin:] Don. A. M. Burt 17.350