1 November Thursday
Nothing doing very much today. I went to a ERS lecture this morning, it was about housing, I learnt quite a lot I didn’t know before. Wrote Janet three cards tonight. It started to rain very heavy about 1900hrs but by the time we were ready for bed it had stoped There was terrific thunder and lighting with it.
2 Nov Friday
Only three days to go we told ourselfs this morning but at 1500hrs word came round that the boat had been put forward 10 days, this will (if it is right) make our date about the 15th of this month. So far we have had the dates as such 26th, or 24th Nov and now this new one
3 Nov Saturday
Our boat has been put forward 10 days so the date will be the 18th. Went to the pictures tonight. I haven’t received any mail from Janet for 3 weeks.
4 November Sunday
Today as usual was very quiet. Wrote Janet card
5 November Mon
Today is Janet’s birthday she is 27 today the same age as myself. I had saved a bottle of beer from my last issue so I drank her health and happiness for the future. At one time I had hopes of being home for her birthday but now we will have to fight hard to be home for christmas
6 November Tuesday
Wrote Janet a card. Never went to the pictures tonight as I didn’t think I would like it. Went to the ERS workshop and made the pattern for our glass shelf in the bathroom I also made a good tooth brush rack for two, the bath jobs were made out of perspex
7 November Wed
I had my new slacks fixed up today, loops on the top and I had the bottoms widened from 29” to 22 ½ “ They don’t look so bad now. Went to the pictures tonight and seen “Where Salome __________” (fair) The weather is cold now and the rain is holding off so far.
8 November Thursday
This morning for breakfast we had egg powder making it the third morning running. The food is very scarse and we are just getting enough to eat and that’s all. There has been another cut of 20% this makes 60% cut now of the rations we were getting when we first came down here 5 weeks ago. 800 more men are coming off the draft for NZ they will be going to Egypt now, the date will be Sunday 11th. There are only a few single chaps here left of the NZ roll for this boat, all the married men are going home
9 November Fri
We have only a week to go now until we get on the boat. The days are cold now too. Pictures tonight
10 November Sat
Another cold day. The chaps who are going to the ME are going on Tuesday now instead of Monday(ME would be Middle East)
11 November Sun
It rained for a while this morning but not very heavy. Played bridge after tea. Ray Jarden arrived down here this afternoon he is going home with us he is a 11th but as his wife is very sick so he has got Compos Leave
12 November Mon
The chaps who are going to the M.E. packed up today it took them nearly all day to get done. Med Parade, pay parade just as we will be doing them in two days
13 November Tuesday
Rex Ball arrived Italy
At 0630hrs this morning it started to rain and at the time the boys left it reached its peak. They got pretty wet before they actually left the camp. The rain continued all day and all night. It was very cold too. Received my list of Bulletins from England. Wrote Tom Stoke(?) and give him the list of what I wanted. Spent most of the day in our tents. In bed at 1730hrs and read a book
14 November Wed
Today we changed our money. I put in 6 pound, 4 pounds for myself and 2 pounds for Ray Farden. “Short Arm” inspection. Rex left us today for Florence, he was around with me most of the time he was here. Pictures tonight The Naughty Ninetys “Costello Abbot”
15 November Thursday
Our boat has been put on 24hrs so we leave on Saturday instead of Friday as before. We will be very lucky to get home for Christmas now. A fine day today. Had a trial pack this afternoon. I shall have two large bags one down the hold and one with me. Picture “Black Swan”
16 November Fri
This is our last day in Italy. We are leaving at 0845hrs tomorrow morning. We have to hand in our blankets and webb etc at 0630hrs in the morning. We shall be going on the boat at 1015hrs in the morning. Our bag for the hold is being taken on board this afternoon. We collect our BMA at 1400hrs this afternoon. I arrived in this country (Italy) 2 years 10 days today. I have been overseas 2 years 6 months now. In the army altogether 3 years, 2 months 5 days today
17 November Sat
Left Adv Base at 0905hrs and traveled to TARANTO in trucks. The day is fine and warm.After waiting on the wharf for some five minutes we went aboard lighters and so onto our ship the “MOOLTAN” We left the shores of Italy at 1021hrs and it ws the end of the winter for us, within a week we will be in a much warmer part of the world. There are quite a few men on this boat and just about every “service arm” is represented even if only by half a doz. We embarked on the ship at 1050hrs. At 1400hrs the ship pulled out of the harbour and we were soon on our long way home. We were told that there were three ports of call. Tufick first then Colombo, on to Freemantle and then home. We would be arriving in NZ somewhere near Dec 21st so we should help to bring some happiness home with us for Christmas. Our quarters are not the best, we are sleeping in hammocks above our mess tables. Last night (today) I tried to sleep in my hammock but my back ached terrible so my sleep was almost nill I am going to sleep on the table tonight if I can. This ships top speed is 17 knots.
18 November Sun
We had to get up this morning at 0615hrs, breakfast is at 0645hrs so getting up is necessary. Today is a bit rougher and we are all feeling a wee bit off colour. I hope I am alright because I have been a good sailor up to now. We have been playing “bridge” most of the time so far. Was in bed by 2100hrs
19 November Mon
Today is our last one in the “Med” We will reach Port Said during the night. A very quiet day aboard ship
20 November Tuesday
When we got up this morning we were outside Port Said. After letting some South A’s off also some Poles we were all ready to get on our way again. Only vegetables had to be loaded on. I sent Janet a “special” air card. They were printed on the ship by the crew and they were very nice costing us threepence. We got under way again at 1220hrs and once again I was going through the Suez Canal. We were stoped about 1530hrs and we waited for two aircraft carriers to come through. These were the only aircraft carriers I have ever seen and they were there in all their glory. By tea time we were on our way again but I never seen anymore of the canal in daylight
21 November Wed
We were in Tufick this morning erly about 0500 hrs We are still here and the time is now 1245hrs. A very busy morning indeed, water and oil has been pouring into our tanks all morning. There are 1000 more men on board now, they are the 8ths that was left in Egypt. Reclassified 15ths and married 9ths. I don’t think we will be here very much longer as soon as the oil etc is on we will be on our way. I don’t think we will be here in the morning anyhow. I bought an Egyptian handbag from the “Wogs” that came alongside it cost me a pound but it is not so very good therefore I don’t think Janet will be wanting. I shall give it to young Norma I think (that’s if Janet doesn’t like it of course). There are one or two things to come on yet so I just heard, only time will tell I suppose. After loading some 1100 men on board we left Tufick at 1715hrs and headed into the Red Sea. It is getting warmer every day now, soon we shall be getting about only wearing shorts.
22 November Thursday
This morning found us well into the Red Sea. The sun is becoming very hot now. Living conditions are not so good now the heat combined with the salt sea-air makes our bodies feel very sticky at times but every day is a day nearer home and to Janet my dear wife.
23 November Fri
Our kits that we left in Egypt when we came over to Italy are now on the boat and we are allowed to get them for 24 hours. This will allow me to put a lot of things in mine when I get it, within a few days. The meals are still very good and they seem —— to continue to be the same for the rest of the voyage. They have stopped the sale of tobbaco for a few days. We were asked today for men to volunteer to work in the RNZAF WO1 Mess, we! Were asked , we of the army! I don’t think they shall get one. Our group “5” goes on ships fatigue on Sunday it lasts a week. I hope to get a good job and it will help to pass the time away for a week. Another week should see us in Colombo
24 November Sat
Today is our last in the Red Sea. During the day we were passing small islands and darkness came before we reached Aden. This time we passed ADEN at 2300hrs. Played bridge after tea
25 November Sun
This is our first day on fatigues and our group is on for a week. I was given a job for this morning but I couldn’t find the part of the boat I had to go to. We have now been on the boat for 8 days. We are due at Colombo either on the 29th or 30th of this month. Today was washing day for the troops and the top deck was covered with clothes just like thousands of flags. Bruce Coburn was down to see me today and I asked him if he would look after my battle dress for me until I needed it to get off when we reach New Zealand. Since we left Egypt the food has not been so good as it was the first three days at sea but I may say the meals are still very good and they will have to drop a long way until they come down to the army level that was set in Italy at ADV.BASE
26 November Mon
This morning we seen the last of Africa the most Eastern point . About an hour after we sighted two islands and then we were on the way to Colombo which is going to be the next land we will see for four days or more. The “Cap” said he hopes to get into Colombo by Saturday 1st Dec, now about 20 minutes to 2am. If this is right we should leave again for Freemantle at noon or later. Doing the speed we are now doing we should get there :Freemantel about the 9th or 10th and 9 or 10 days more will bring us about home arriving there about the 19th or 20th Dec. Life on ship is very dull now we have to do the same things every day. Had a talk with young Frank Allan. Played bridge after tea
27 November Tuesday
Best distance on trip so far. 383 Miles. We have been aboard ship 10 days today the time, although hard to pass, seems to be slipping by alright. We have just a little over three weeks to spend on the boat yet before we reach home. The sun is hot now and I have been getting a bit browner than I was when I came on the boat
28 November Wed
We received another NAT PAT issue today. 1 pkt biscuits, 1 tube tooth paste, and 1 cake of chochlate per man. I hope to get my “base kit” tomorrow morning at 1100hrs. In the 24 hours ending at 1200hrs today we had travelled 372 mls. Today for some unknown reason was not as hot as it should have been. We are now 2 ½ days off Colombo. I will have to write Frances a card tomorrow so it can be posted at Colombo on Sat the mail closes at 1000hrs on Friday. Although we are only a short distance from India we havn’t yet seen any sharks and I havn’t heard of anybody seeing one either
29 November Thursday
Today we came upon some islands, there was plenty of growth on them too. All afternoon it was showery and this was the first time I had ever seen rain at sea, there has been rain of course but I never had the chance to see any of it. To me it seemed funny to see rain pelting down on the deck with sea everywhere. We are due at Colombo about 1900hrs tomorrow. So far we have seen very little sea life
30 November Fri
Arrived in Colombo at 2000hrs. It was too dark to see very much only the lights of the harbour was all we could see. As usual in these ports, boats come fussing around here too but we were in bed by 2130hrs. It was very hot down in the ship tonight
Loaded the Quad up with Ammo 36 H.F (?) 8 A.P. 48 Charges
Received two letters from Frances 72-73 still to get 74 – 75.
Went on trail run 30 ml to run in engine, it was so tight that the starter would not turn it over. We have had it out twice in two weeks. The boys had a trail pack. Think they are going tomorrow sometime. Painted a name on the Quad – Frances
The gunners, driver, M— etc left at 10.00hrs this morning. Tom had to go to. I am on my own now. I will not see him until I get the Quad, timber, gun over to where ever we are going. We wont be going for another two weeks yet.
Cleaned up the camp . Done a few small jobs, went down to the beach pretty rough surf. Went down for a spot of shooting with Rifle, Tommy and Bren. Hurt my shoulder in fact it is all skinned.
Wrote Frances No 18
Senet her Xmas card also one to Harry and one to Gran. Played F. Troup cricket, they made 109 we had to finish to dark. Will continue tomorrow night, we have 4 down for 22 we put the tail in first because of the light.
Worked a little harder today on the truck. Played cricket against F. Troup, made 62 Played on. Boys left Alex for Italy, did not know this until the day we seen them again which was the 9th November
Battery was flat when I went to start the engine this morning, one cell was no good. Got another one, swaped it for one from Arty tank. They are going to use it for a Raido. Played cricket against F. Trp. Made 23 we was beaten
Baby Wotton born. Played crickeet against H.Q. trp. 32 N.O. We won. Went to Alamein Cemerety seen about 3,000 graves. There were S.A., German, Ity, Aussie, Brisish and Kiwis mostly our chaps. It will be a great place when it is finished, all boarded around with white stone walls, chips of the stone on top and they are in very straight rows. Lt Cols Capt Pte all mixed up.
Played cricket to-day. 30 – 29 Bty . we won by 110 runs. I made 24. J. Hatchard 86— Repainted all the signs on the Quad. Got another pair of sandshoes. Have had no cig, tobacco for 5 weeks, hard to smoke pipe tobacco
Wrote Frances No 19
Painted the Caugf(?) in places over the Quad. We aare now grey and black. Still at Burgh El Arab. Don’t know when we will be going to join the boys. They have been away 1 week. To-day is very windy and the dust is thick, not so hot as the wind is coming from the sea 500yds away
Baby Wotton Died – 7 months
Played 48Bty cricket. We made 116. I made 34. We got them out for 74. I got two for 8. Fifth Field are receiving quite a lot of mail but we will have to wait until we get to where ever the boys are. It is not fair in one way. The wind has died down a bit it is not bringing the sand now which is much better.
Wrote Frances 20
Having a rest from cricket. A bit browned off, will start again about sat. Still waiting to move
Italy declared war with Germany. 3rd Div in action
Playing basket-ball. They have started a comp going. It is 7 months since I was in Chch
Wrote Frances No 21
Had a very easy day to-day. Have had no leave for five weeks
Wrote Frances No 22
Started the last letter will leave it until I am sure everything is in it which I wanted to write about. It is five months since I left Wellington.
Left Burg El Arab at 12.30 hrs wenet 80 miles and stayed the night at Wadi Natron. Arrived there at 1730hrs expect to leave at 0700hrs in the morning . Will be going to Port Tufick. Now we have no idea where we are going, might be India. Done 81 miles
Left Wadi Natron at 0700hrs went through Cairo at 1200hrs. Arrived at Port Tufick at 1720hrs we done 140 miles to-day, the Pongoes cooked tea for us , all we got was a plate of stew and a mug of tea which was almost sickly sweet. Will be here for a while I think they told us so anyway
Wrote frances No 23
Went to the pictures, seen The Little Foxes, not much. Otherwise we done nothing at all
The same to-day only we shifted the trucks into there lines. My line is P.Z.L which is the code name of the ship in which I am going in.
Went to the pictures, seen Tin Pan Alley, had see it before. We put our Quads on the whart just left them there because the boat was not there. Came back to our first camp for tea. Received 1 bottel of beer and at 6.50pm we went to the transit camp and then went to the pictures
Up at 0700hrs Breakfast 0800. Doing nothing at all, played cards for money for the time since I landed here. Lost 80 Akers. The ships in which we are going in aare fairly big about 10,000 tons by the looks of them. Pictures again. Seen Victory.
It rained this morning at 0230hrs woke me up and I had to turn around making me sleep with my head where my feel were and then I got wet. There was lighting and thunder. The lighting struck an petrol or oil dump and set some of it alight and it was just like day
Wrote Frances No 24
Went to pictures seen North of Klondyke, not bad. Rained again but notmuch. Think we will be going tomorrow.
Left transit camp at 1330hrs Got on the same sort of lighters as we did when we landed in June. Got on Lighter at 1435hrs got on ship at 1530hrs. We are sleeping down the hold, 1st deck. The ship is The ——– of Delhi. There are about 2880 chaps on board. Just one lamp (electric) lights up the place but it is 400L.P
Left Port Tufick at 0620 hrs went through Canal about 90 miles ,passed through Port Said at 1715 went straight out to sea and away so this is my Labor Day. I spent it passing through the Canal. We have about five boats and a destroyer in the convoy so far. I will see tomorrow.
Won 10/- B.MA at pontoon. Passed out into the sea and arrived at Alex at 1630hrs. We berthed. I don’t know how long for. The food so far has been poor. There is a baloon tied to us now for protection from planes. There are three hospital ships in and also plenty of war ships. We have traveled 320miles since we left Burg El Arab and we aare only 20 miles from there now
Nothing much to-day just being left in the harbour. Played cards. Was told we would be leaving at 0730hrs in the morning. We was told at 2000hrs.
This is Fridays also
Left Alex at 0800hrs. Went straight out into the sea and stopped at 11.45 to form up . there are some fighters over head but only about 4. Every boat has a baloon up above it.We are still stoped, it is taken a long time for the convoy to form up for the biggest part of the boats are very slow.
We are away again but have not picked up speed yet. The reason for me not putting to-days entry in yersterdays space is because I thought to-day was the 28. It shows how we think every day is the same, it is too, no Saturdays or Sunday. The time is now 2125 so to bed. Go on gun stations at 2400hrs off at 0400. I am in a 12LB Gun team
Wrote Frances No 25
Tired to=day. On guard at the guns and resting, had no sleep until 0430hrs this morning. Had a alarm tonight at 1745hrs. Planes supposed to be near at hand, each boat and there are 32 in the convoy, let off two smoke bombs each one at either end and set up a smoke screen. We had four fighters over head but nothing happened . Thank God !
Still at sea and will be for the next week or so. At about 0200(?)hrs this morning we passed through an electric storm. The lighting struck a ballons setting them alight. There was plenety of rain and thunder also. I was on guard at the guns. It is one weeks since we got on this boat. We are going to Bari via Malta, will see Malta tues sometime.
Went into town to meet Norm but he never turned up so I walked around town by myself. I bought two watch straps and a combe for 15 Ak, 3/9, so I did not do bad there I think. Was on Prowler Guard from 2000hrs until 0600hrs was very tired after walking around town all day.
In M.East 3 weeks.
Made a carrier bag for the parcel. I thought it would be best so to keep the parcel from being knocked around for it has to go 9000 miles. I hope it does not get damaged for it will be a great thrill to Frances, I know.
Went to the pictures, not bad. We seen (Keeping Company) a love story, it took our minds away from the work. Started to write to Frances. I am going to finish it by about Tuesday so I haven’t forgot anything. I am getting sick of this place now and I would love to be home right now.
This is a quite day in camp. Church parade in the morning and that is the end. I sent a cable to Frances. I want to get it home by the 20 July for the wedding anniversary. I hope I am not so far away from home this time next year. Right inside our place will do nicely. We had a sand storm today.
Not so hot today either. The heat has not come yet but I hope the heat stays where it is. This is the coldest summer they have had for 23 years so we have struck it lucky. I think I will be posted on wed or thur to the Div so we are getting somewhere after all.
Done my washing to-day. Took my shirt off and the sun is sure hot too. I will have to get a bit brown sometime for I will look funny going home with a white body around all the other boys but I will have to take it easy until I get a we bit brown for blisters are easy to get here
Going to Meana tomorrow to join the 6th Field Reg. We will be all broke up this time for we have all been put into different regs. So now I have to put my best foot forward and learn fast. We are going to Meana by truck. Have had no mail yet but there was some in this afternoon but we will have to wait.
Went to Maadi Camp to stay. We landed here at 1445hrs and had our names and things taken down. I am now in the NZ div and 8th Army so I am here at last. It is hotter here than Mira(?). We don’t get the wind so much I went and looked up Norm and Ray. Ray was out. I am sleeping next to A Coliway(?)
From today I am the driver of E4 He used to play cricket for east Chch. He is also a Brabham Shield man, so I am not so bad off so far. I am sleeping in tents 6 man tents. Should get my first mail within two days. Norm is camped about one mile from where I am. I have come to the right place for cricket. The know all about me and ready. Going to see Norm this afternoon.
Very hot to-day temp at 10pm 93deg. Just sitting around . We are going to start work on Monday .Up at 0515hrs and finish at 1230hrs then the rest of day is own, just as well too. Got my first mail to-day. No 43-44 also one from Gran. The letters I got from Frances were dated 17 May the first for nearly two months.
The letter from Gran was dated 15 May 1943. We had a Reg church parade this morning in the Lowry Hut which is about 150yds from our tent. It is not a bad place either. Went to see Norm this afternoon and we had a talk over three bottles of lemonade that is the main drink here.
Up at 0515hrs worked until 0805hrs then had breakfast then worked until 1230hrs and that was the finish for one day. It seems silly making the boys that have been fighting for 2 ½ years do one step two and relli drill by numbers but they don’t crawl. It is just another day for them.
From now on a cup of tea will be brought around the lines at 0530hrs and it is alright too. It is not as light over here as it is at home at 0515hrs so that’s one thing we can beat them at. Got a bit more bronzy on today. I am starting to get a bit brown now. Away from home 4 months.
Went into town first time for three weeks, was to meet Norm but he did not turn up. Went for a hours route march 3 mile. Got home about 2400hrs ,it takes about 20min run for truck into Cario barracks did not buy any presents short of money for one thing
Done some washing and went to the pictures at night. Seats 3,5,7, Akers which is 7 ½ , 1/ ½ , 1/5 ½ , open air and hard seats starts at 8.20pm and finish at 10pm.
Five weeks in Middle East, to-day very hot around about 95 deg, sweat coming freely but in the best of health. 6th Field Reg played 5th Field Reg at cricket and we won the game by 30 odd runs. One win for the 6th the Reg. Received the medal of St Crist. From Frances.
Letter No 5
Posted a letter to frances enclosing a poem taken from the Ships Mag which the fifth reinforcements made on the boat, had a very quite day, done nothing in the afternoon or evening. There was a concert on at the Lowry Hut but I did not go, the boys said it was just fair.
Went to church and said my little prayer for Frances. Was going to see Norm but I had to go on guard at 1700hrs so it sort of put a stop to my visit so I will go and see him after I come off tomorrow night. He has two bottles of orange cordial for me. Got 2 pairs shorts. Good ones and a ————-
Here I am on Guard the wind is like a Westerly but what a wind it is just like the desert breathing on you. I am on ———- 3 – 5 and then that is the finish for about 18 days. I have not played cards since I have been in the M.E. not for money I own(?)
Three years married to the best girl in the world. One year in the army and two years at home. I hope Frances got the cable in time
Received 3 letters 2 from Frances, 1 from Gran Burkha Picquet. Crossed over a pontoon bridge. When we crossed the Suez Canal . Did not see much was driving at the time. We have been going across the Sinei Desert since 1400hrs there is a road all the way.
Received 10 more letters 1 from mum, 1 from Gran, and 8 from Frank. Was told I was going to a place called Hefa it is near Palestine it will take about 7 –8 days there and back . We are getting up at 0400hrs tomorrow morning and are starting off at 0500hrs. I had to work till 2030hrs to-night in the sargents mess
Started out at 0510hrs. It was just light we were on our way about an hour when I got stung on the thigh by a bee inside the Quad. We were lucky we had no mess ups at all .the distance we went to-day was 243miles. Dinner we had toast,-Tea, stew, bully ,onions , beans. Bedded down for the night 2130hrs under the stars.
Still crossing the desert . Up at 0630hrs. Breakfast, saugs, beacon, chips, fried bread, tea. Started off 0730hrs, traveled for 50 miles and had to stop, they would not let us further, they said there was too much traffic on the road. Stooped at a filling up station at 1015hrs . Can’t leave until 0600hrs to-morrow. Bought 8L tins of peaches at Haifa 100miles. Which is 2/7.
Stopped at a staging camp at 1515hrs. Shall pick up our guns tomorrow morning. ½ of the chaps are going on leave now, 2 tomorrow. Bought some beer at the Naffee. Week but plenty of kick. We are 6 miles from Haifa in Palestine. It is a great place just like NZ the climate is I mean.
Went into Haifa on leave . Went up Mt Carmel seen Haifa from about 2500ft up and what a sight A place they call Carmel Forest is the place we were at. It is right on top of the hill City as you will know is all jews. Had some beer at a cabaret and the places are not dirty like Cairo. They are very clean and the girls are very clean. One came from Germany and one from Vienna just before the war.
There is a ship down in this port too. Went on leave tonight again got a pound this morning but this was soon spent. We pasted the evening in the Kings Bar, Haifa. Got home last night at 10pm to-night at 12pm
172 miles. Left the Staging Camp this morning at 0515hrs, my turn came when we left the flat and I done all the hills. I done all night to. We arrived at what they call the sand bowel at 1605hrs, 10 ½ hrs today. It is 450 miles by road from Mardi Camp to Haifa. We leave again to-morrow morning at 0500hrs We hope to be east side of Suez Canal by to-morrow night
Started off this morning at 0515hrs. Will do about 170miles across the Sinei Desert. Arrive at Suez Canal at 0604hrs got petrol and a good shower. Shall be leaving again to-morrow morning. There is not much in this camp. It is just a staging camp. 170 miles
0645hrs. Left this staging camp on the last stage for home. Drove over the canal bridge again so I did not see it again, a terrible mess up in the convoy. 3 others joined in , all Pagoes of course. Arrived at Mardi Camp 1330hrs, so 8 days 7hrs, 15 min. we went to Haifa and back 920miles. It was a great trip. Oranges, grapes, melons, bi——–.
Came back a day to soon. A Div Arty Parade this morning. Arch Galloway 3 stripes to-day. Received four parcels yesterday, two cakes, 1 biscuits, 1 tins(?) of stuff Went to the pictures with Norm. Wrote to Gran and Mum