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Percy Arnold Collins, 6th Battalion A.I.F., on Lemnos

1915

Sept 10th
The rest of our Brigade is going off tonight. We got into the barge on the beach at 7pm, and were then told we would not go till 12 midnight so lay low and slept till then.

Sept 11th
We woke up when we started to move and found we were being towed out to “H.M.S. Sargin” [?] and then had to get busy unloading the barge. It was about 3am when we got on board. Just after getting on board it was discovered that the barge was starting to sink, but we steamed away, and left the tugs to tow back. After 5 hours sailing we entered Lemnos Harbour and at 9am we got on board the paddle boat “Sir Joseph Pease” and were taken to the pier, where each Battalion was formed up and then started on their 3 mile march to where we were camping. Just before we got to where we were camping, we had to take off our boots and socks, and waded through about 400 yards of water, but it was very shallow, being no deeper than up to the knees. As soon as we landed here I cleared out from Brigade Head aquarters and joined my Battalion as I was sick of running about all day.

Sept 12th
Today I was sent back again to Brigade and had a lot of running to do. During the night it rained fairly heavy, but everyone was too dead asleep, and no one knew till morning.

Sept 15th
It rained very heavy last night, and nearly all morning, but in the afternoon it cleared up. The ground here is very boggy.


September 1915. The flooded rest camp of the 1st Battalion on the Aegean island of Lemnos. AWM C02022 and AWM C02034

Sept 16th
A thunderstorm broke over here this morning and water flowed through the tents and made everything in a terrible mess. It did not take long for the water to run away, but the ground is very boggy. In the afternoon the 1st Brigade shifted to higher ground, while we were being inspected by a French General and his staff. The weather cleared up a little in the afternoon.

Sept 17th
The sun is out nice and bright and with the good easterly wind that’s blowing the ground is drying up very fast.

Sept 20th
Church Service was held today, which was about all we did today.

Sept 21st
I was relieved of duties at Brigade and rejoined my unit, and was not sorry either. Did not go out on parade today and had a game of cricket in the afternoon.

Sept 22nd
There is going to be a camp fire concert tonight when some good items are being given. Went out on parade today and had to go on Inline Picquet tonight.

Sept 23rd
The concert proved a great success. Today the camp was inspected by General Walker. I am on Quarter Masters fatigues today. Today it is just 12 months since I last enlisted and went into camp.

Sept 24th
We are playing cricket nearly every day now. I have to go on Inline Picquet again tonight.

Sept 25th
Today I went across to the 3rd [Australian] General Hospital and had a tooth out. All the Greeks here are very excited as they say “Greece” has declared war on Turkey. I am on Picquet again tonight.

Sept 26th
There was a voluntary church parade today. The preacher was a Canadian, and he preached an interesting sermon. After the service we marked past the Brigadier and then to our tents.

Sept 30th
Tonight I am on guard, but was lucky enough to get off as the best dressed. They have started this so as to get the men [on?] gard to dress neatly and the best one is let off. At 5 [?] pm we could see a heavy fog coming, and by 5:30pm we were in the thick of it.

Oct 1st
The fog is still very heavy this morning but at 9am it cleared off, and then came out very hot for the rest of the day. There is great excitement as it is pay day. We have not been paid for a long time. I have been appointed Librarian to the 6th Battalion, while we are camped here and have to assist the postal orderly. It is a good job and I am exempt from parades.

Oct 2nd
Issued first lot of books out of library. Have been busy arranging books and sorting mail.

Oct 6th
General holiday today and it is a nice and warm day.

Oct 9th
Early in the evening we had a heavy shower until about 9pm, when it died down considerably. The New Zealand band is out playing. It’s the first music we have heard for a long time except shells.

Oct 12th
Today we were all issued with 150 rounds of ammunition. The 2nd Brigade were then paraded and went through a few rifle exercises while waiting for the Inspector General to inspect us. He passed up and down each rank and inspected thoroughly. We were then marched back to our private parade grounds and handed in our ammunition before being dismissed.

Oct 14th
Tonight we held another camp fire concert which turned out a great success. We had performers from various units, and the New Zealand band was in attendance.

Oct 15th
Today the Battalion went out for a long route march, and 2 or 3 men had to be carried back on stretchers. At present we are having lovely weather.

Oct 18th
The 1st Brigade held a big concert in the Y.M.C.A. tent, today being the anniversary of the day we left Sydney.

Oct 20th
Today there was another long route march to see what condition the men were in, but there was a great lot who were unable to stand it and had to fall out. Tonight it was read out to the 7th Battalion, that they had gained 4 VC’s and 1 D.C.M. in the terrible bomb fight they had at Lone Pine after they relieved the 1st Brigade. One of the men who won the V.C. was killed.

Oct 22nd
It is bitterly cold today and showery, with a strong wind blowing.

Oct 23rd
It is still very cold today although it has stopped raining and the ground is drying up. The wind here generally comes from the North East, and blows clean through you instead of going round.

Oct 24th
During the night it commenced to rain and kept on till dinner time. after dinniner the sun came out a little but it is still very cold. There was no church service held today.

Oct 26th
Today there was another route march but this time they had to carry full marching order. It is not quite as cold today as it has been.

Oct 27th
Today there was a big inspection by General Munro who is relieving Sir Ian Hamilton. Afterwards we were busy getting things ready to leave for destination unknown, but we all think it is back to Anzac. Word came late tonight that the embarkation was postponed for 24 hours.

Oct 28th
We have been busy packing up again today and this evening word came postponing embarkation indefinitely on account of the rough weather washing away both piers at Anzac.

Oct 29th
Today there is a big kit inspection on and everyone has to have 200 rounds of ammunition and their iron rations. Today the weather is nice and warm to what it has been.

Oct 30th
I went on sick parade this morning as I have not been too well for over a week, and was sent to hospital in the 2nd Field Ambulance. Owing to several cases of diptheira in our brigade it is now quarantined and no one is allowed outside the camp. It started to rain this evening.

Oct 31st
Am feeling a little better today so don’t think I will be here ery long if my temperature goes down.

Nov 1st
It is 12 months today since we left Albany. I am feeling pretty crook again today. Today I was shifted from the 2nd Field Ambulance to No 2 stationary hospital. We were taken over in a Field Ambulance drawn by mules, and had a very rough ride. In the new hospital I was placed in the fever and observation ward, but do not know what is wrong.

Nov 2nd
Today is my 2nd Birthday away from Australia. Had a very restless night.

Nov 4th
I am feeling somewhat better today. The Sister told me I had Enteric Fever.

Nov 8th
Today I was transferred to No. 3 Australian General Hospital, which is a lot better than the last one. I have been pretty crook this last few days.

Nov 10th
Lord Kitchener is here at Lemnos. I saw him about 100 yards off, as he passed in a motor car. I am still pretty crook.

Nov 14th
We were told the 5th & 6th Battalions left the rest camp today for Anzac where they had to go straight into the trenches. The Brigade band played them to the boat and then came and played at the hospital. The 7th and 8th Battalions are supposed to go tomorrow. our Brigade has received a lot of reinforcements.

Nov 17th
The 2 remaining Battalions left the rest camp today, but it was too rough to embark so had to return to camp. I am getting a Congabright [?] now.

Nov 25th
The 7th and 8th Battalions got away today although it was pretty rough when they embarked.

Nov 26th
It is still very windy today, and I am allowed to sit up in bed for a while for the first time.

Nov 27th
The thunder and lightning was very heavy last night but it did not rain much.

Nov 29th
It is very windy and cold today and is threatening to rain.

Nov 30th
It is terribly cold today, and there are flakes of snow falling. It is also very windy at times.

Dec 1st
I am allowed today to get out of bed and sit in a chair as I can’t walk. I am as thin as a skeleton now after the fever.

Dec 4th
This evening they took 17 patients who had been up sometime to another hospital and bought in some Tommies from Suvla Bay suffering from frost bitten feet. They were saying it rained very heavy there and their trenches were filled with water, and that they had to lay on the top of the ground. THe cold was terrible and a lot were frost bitten.

Dec 8th
This afternoon one of the patients in this ward died. Not feeling too well today.

Dec 9th
My temperature is up again today so I have to stay in bed. One of the frostbitten cases was taken away to be operated on. He had one foot amputated at the ankle and all the toes taken off the other foot. Weather looking very dull.

Dec 10th
I shall have to stay in bed today although temperature is down a little. Expecting a boat anyday to take us away.

Dec 11th
I got up again today after breakfast but feel very weak.

Dec 13th
Feeling a bit better today. It is raining a little but looks like clearing up.

Dec 15th
This evening we were taken in cars to the Lowland Clearing Hospital. After waiting about a good while we were taken to our tents and allocated bunks to sleep in.

Dec 16th
On getting up this morning we found things in a filthy state, so we all set to work and cleaned it up and made things a bit better. Food here is very scarce and poor.

Dec 19th
Early this morning the last lot of troops came off the Peninsula. They have been evacuating for about a week. The positions at Anzac and Suvla Bay are now clear of British Troops. All the lads were very sore, at having to evacuate, after so many of their comrades being killed, but we were unable to get enough troops there to make a successful attack. During the last week at the Peninsula the Turks made several big attacks, but were always repulsed with heavy losses.

Dec 23rd
This morning some of us were taken down to the pier in Red Cross Ambulances and after waiting about for a long time we got aboard the Red Cross lighter “Start [?] Bay” and were taken out to the Hospital Ship “Delta” where we arrived at 12 noon. At 2pm we had a good dinner, and then watched several more boat loads arrive.

Dec 24th
We left Lemnos Island at 7am this morning. As we came out of the harbour we passed the “Acquatania” which is one of the largest boats afloat…

Diary of experiences in Great War, 1914-1919 by P.A. Collins

Published Saturday March 24, 2012 · Last modified Saturday April 7, 2012
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia Licence

We're pleased that people are using this website as a source for locations, quotes and other primary source material. It's why we published our notes on the web. But we'd very much appreciate a footnote or credit. Much of the hospital (and other) location information for Lemnos and the Western Front is original research -- thank you, from Bernard & Cheryl