Topic: The POW diary of Robert Long (1894-1961)

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Robert "Bob" Long was born on October 21 1894, in Tallaght near Dublin, Ireland. (In the diaries he refers to his birthday as being in November. This was a misunderstanding he had throughout his life). He joined the 32nd Field Ambulance, (Royal Army Medical Corps, 16th Division, No. 42815), in 1914. He left England on July 14 1915 on board the "Canada". He was captured in August 1915 at Suvla Bay, Dardanelles. He was two months off turning 21 when he was captured. He was Prisoner No. 284. What follows is a transcription from what I believe are his original prisoner-of-war diaries. Unfortunately they cease in November 1916. He was not released until November 1918.

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Robert Long WWI photocopy

Forward by Elizabeth Rust

Robert "Bob" Long.  He joined the 32nd Field Ambulance, (Royal Army Medical Corps, 16th Division, No. 42815), in 1914. He left England on July 14 1915 on board the "Canada". was born on October 21 1894, in Tallaght near Dublin, Ireland. (In the diaries he refers to his birthday as being in November. This was a misunderstanding he had throughout his life).

He was captured in August 1915 at Suvla Bay, Dardanelles. He was two months off turning 21 when he was captured. He was Prisoner No. 284. 

Robert "Bob" Long was born on October 21 1894, in Tallaght near Dublin, Ireland. (In the diaries he refers to his birthday as being in November. This was a misunderstanding he had throughout his life).

He joined the 32nd Field Ambulance, (Royal Army Medical Corps, 16th Division, No. 42815), in 1914. He left England on July 14 1915 on board the "Canada".

He was captured in August 1915 at Suvla Bay, Dardanelles. He was two months off turning 21 when he was captured. He was Prisoner No. 284.

What follows is a transcription from what I believe are his original prisoner-of-war diaries. Unfortunately they cease in November 1916. He was not released until November 1918.

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Robert Long’s diary transcript is introduced in his own words with the events leading up to Gallipoli.

 The diaries of Robert Long 

Prologue to diary

Chapter I

We left England on July 14th 1915 on board the 'Canada' en route for the Dardanelles. I cannot say much about the trip, every day was just the same. We had to fall in with life-belts 10 o'clock every morning on the stern of the ship and I hated this as there was a great vibration of the screw there.

Two days out, on the 16th, we were told to leave off our boots so that our feet should get hard. This was a very silly idea as we all had new boots and our feet of course swelled while we were on board. I never had a good dinner on the trip. Breakfast and tea was not so bad. There was always a rush for the butter as the ration was very short and if you were not at the end of the table where it was put down you stood a very poor chance.

We passed Gibralter during the night of the 18th and the coast of Africa was always visible until we reached Malta.

We reached Malta in the early morning of the sixth day, the 20th. It was a beautiful sight we looked on as we were tugged slowly into the harbour. It looked like a semi-circle of beautiful town halls and church spires glistening white in the bright sunshine, you could not ask for a nicer picture. By this time we were surrounded by hundreds of little boats loaded with fruit, cigarettes, handkerchiefs and every knick knack you could mention. Everything was very cheap, cigarettes about 3d a hundred. I got a loan of 6d off Hynes and bought some. Some of the dealers were very funny. One of them had his boat painted all green and kept continuously shouting "Irish" "Irish" "I-rish from Dundee", to get custom I suppose. There were dozens of boats with divers, youngsters mostly, stripped naked ready to dive to the bottom for anything thrown in, even for a button. Lots of our fellows threw in old cap badges and buttons just to see them dive. There was one old fat fellow who had about a hundredweight of bully beef in his boat, small 1 lb tins. He kept on shouting "bully beef, bully beef" eating away all the time. It was amusing to see all the traders scoot when the river police came on the scene in their motor boat.

About midday a dozen or so coal barges hitched up along side with about 20 Maltese coal heavers in each. They ran planks into the doors of the coal bunkers and started coaling. Such a lot of grimy sweating cursing men I never saw before. Each had a basket about 3 feet high , like a potato basket, and all were in bare feet and stripped to the waist. Some were busy filling the baskets, others were lifting them on their comrades shoulders. It was very amusing listening to them arguing. They would work like mad for five minutes and fight for ten. It wasn't amusing for them however, carrying those heavy baskets on their bare shoulders. I believe there was more coal put at the bottom of the Mediterranean than in the 'Canada' that day. They worked on all that day, fighting over the bread thrown over no matter how dusty it got in the coal, and when it got dark they brought lanterns.

No-one was allowed ashore, except the officers. They stopped out till all hours of the night.

Coaling was finished some time during the night and when I awoke in the morning we were outside the harbour. Then we got up speed and Malta soon faded out of sight.

Chapter II

We hugged the coast of Africa for the remainder of the journey to Alexandria. This was to keep out of the way of stray Austrian and Turkish submarines I suppose. Nothing of moment happened on the voyage, every day the same. We saw a shoal of porpoises one day. They were after a shoal of fish it seemed, as they were dashing around in every direction, and a flock of gulls followed them overhead.

Before we came to Alexandria, which we reached on the twelfth day after leaving England, we put on our drill khaki and packed our kit bags. At the time we were full sure we were going to stop in Alexandria for a while, but things turned out very different.

It was on a Saturday evening we came in and as we came in another transport was going out with the Inniskillings on board. This soon put it into our heads that we were going straight to Gallipoli and another rumour spread that the 10th Division was going to force a new landing.

On Sunday morning we were all turned out early, about five o'clock. It was a beautiful morning. We were taken for a route march through all the principal streets of Alexandria. I was delighted to get on this as a lot of the lads were collared as a fatigue party to take our transport out of the ship.

Some of the streets are very fine, large imposing buildings and it was great to see the crowded balconies, people of every hue looking down on us, the streets were thronged even at this early hour and the electric cars working away. We passed through the native quarter on the way from the quay. It seemed to be nothing but small shops, all their wares out on the barrows on the street. There we saw Jews from Palestine, almost white Arabs from the Sudan, and every kind of nigger from a mid brown to a coal black colour.

The water carrier was very interesting, just as you see him in pictures, clothes of all colours of the rainbow and his great skin bag on his shoulder. There were also hundreds of Arab women with great baggy breeches and all muffled to the eyes in sombre black. One little Arab boy on a donkey had a real chapter of accidents. He was riding along gaily when suddenly he fell off and a pony and dray coming behind ran into his donkey, as he was trying to save his donkey he got two or three lashes from the driver. He then picked up a stone and pursued the cart and as he gave up the chase and was turning back a man on a bicycle ran into him. The rider promptly gave him a cuff on the ear and as he escaped from this enemy he ran into another in the shape of an Egyptian policeman who gave him another cuff on the ear. We returned to the ship about nine o'clock, had breakfast, and that evening left Alexandria.

Chapter III

The day after we left Alexandria I had a pain in my knee as a result of the long route march and I was lame for two days. We had left all our kit bags at Alexandria but the Fusiliers had apparently stuck to a lot their stuff for the train of the ship was marked by floating putties, tunics, trousers and socks slung out of the port holes. I myself saw a whole kit shooting out of the one porthole.

On the second day we began meeting alot of small islands belonging to the Grecian Archipelago I suppose, and on the third day we came into a bay of a large island called Lemnos. We stopped on the ship that night and

disembarked the next morning in full kit. About half of the Fusiliers got off here too. This was a surprise to us as we all thought we were going straight to the Peninsula. When we got off the boats we marched inland about half a mile and camped. The island was very barren all parched up and full of stones and covered with little prickly thistles which stuck to our blankets like leeches. I think it was on July 28th or 29th when we \anded on Lemnos and we stopped there eight or nine days.

The heat was something terrible there, not a tree or a green thing to be seen anywhere. When we were taking our meals we had to keep shaking whatever we were eating on account of the millions of flies, such a lot I never seen before. We erected a marquee and a few tents and we soon had these full of dysentery and cholera cases. It was a very unhealty place altogether. Nearly everyone of us had chronic diarrhoea and two or three dysentery. We had nothing but fatigues while we were there, fetching supplies and water from the beach. The water was all brought from Alexandria in huge floating tanks and was of a rusty brown colour and we were only allowed one bottle a day. All sorts of dodges were worked to try and get more as there was a guard on the well, the water being condemned. Some of the fellows lay all day in the shade under the water cart as an excuse, turning on the taps when the guards back was (purposely) turned.

The only pleasure on the island was the bathing. We were marched down at six o'clock every morning to the sea for a swim. The water was beautiful and warm and the bottom was nice and sandy. It was a great place for learning to swim as you could go out forty or fifty yards without getting out of your depth. We had to be very careful however on account of some kind of shell fish which was covered with spikes like a hedgehog. These spikes were very brittle and poisonous. Some of the fellows got scores of them in their feet and were very lame. I managed to keep clear of the spikes however and I learned to swim in no time. Sentries were put on the beach after and no-one was allowed to bathe between eight in the morning and six in the evening on account of the heat of the sun.

We went on a night attack with the Division one night and I never shall forget it. We fell in with full kit about 10 o'clock and marched off in the pitch dark. We went straight into the pole with the flag and two lamps for a start and knocked it down. Then off we went over the stones cursing and stumbling half asleep and sweat coming out of every pore. I shall never forget that march in the dark, with the heavy sickening smell

of the mint or sage, or whatever it is that entirely covers the island, in our nostrils, and the deafening never-ending whistling of the locusts in our ears. They kick up an awful row. We were not sorry when our stay in Lemnos came to an end. We left it on the evening of August 6th.

Chapter IV

We left Lemnos on the evening of August 6th, Friday it was. I remember

1 did not feel at all well that evening. I had a sick stomach and a headache and the heat of the sun was very great. It was twilight when we were taken on board the boat with the 85th Field Co Engineers and a battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. (Pioneers). We left half an hour or so after boarding, escorted by a couple of destroyers. We were packed like herrings on the boat, hardly room to sit down, our equipment taking up a lot of space,. We passed a few dhows in the dark, and we could dimly see their occupants staring up curiously at us.

Nothing happened on the way but about 10 o'clock we could hear distant cannonading which increased in volume hour by hour. Then the daylight began to creep out and the fellows risked lighting up Woodbines and started moving about. Very soon the cook in the galley got to work and supplied us with boiling water to make our tea for breakfast. We all had three iron rations, that is rations for three days. So called because time does not make any impression on them. About 1 lb of hard biscuit in each ration with a 1 lb tin of bully, also a tin canister with about 1 ounce of tea

2 ounces of sugar. There is also two tablets of beef extract. These rations are only to be broken into as a last resource.

Well as I said we all got boiling water and made about three canteens of tea each. I opened a tin of beef and had a fairly decent breakfast. By this time (5 o'clock) the cannonading was very loud and some of the fellows had very white faces indeed. I wrote two letters on the boat when it was light enough and posted them in the ship letter-box.

About 5:30 we came in sight of 6allipoli. As I said the 10th Division was to force a new landing on the Peninsula at a place called Anaforta. There is a sketch to show how it looked like(*attached). The bay is about a mile and a half in width.

There was about eight or nine warships in the bay, together with a dozen or so transports, lighters etc. One monitor was quite close to the shore,

shelling away for all it was worth. The landing had started in the early morning of the previous day and though they had been offered a very stubborn resistance they had succeeded in beating the Turks back about a mile. We could see the troops landing at the Salt Lake and scattering. The Turks were shelling the beach very fiercely and we could see dozens knocked over by shrapnel. It was pitiful to see our fellows knocked over before they got properly on their feet almost.

There was absolutely no cover whatsoever for two or three miles inland and we could plainly see our troops moving about like flies and the shrapnel bursting overhead every second. We went in quite close to the shore at first and I thought we were going to land. The shells were dropping all around the ships, just making a splash as they struck the water. One of the sailors and two Fusiliers on our ship were struck with shrapnel. We moved out a bit after that.

Our ships were doing great damage, the monitors especially up on the hills. They always worked two guns together it seemed. First you saw the smoke and flash then the report, then the screaming shrieking sound as it tore through the air. You would almost imagine you could follow their course through the air and you mechanically followed them with your eyes. Then the screaming stopped suddenly and you saw the shell exploding. Then the stones and clay went up in tons into the air, and then after a few seconds you heard the explosion. You'd think hell was let loose that morning, it was terrible. Some of the old soldiers said afterwards that the landing at Anaforta was worse than Neuve Chappelle. We landed at the Cape at the left at about four in the evening.

Chapter V

We were hardly off the lighters when it commenced to rain in torrents. Not ordinary raindrops but big ones that spread as large as a plate. Immediately we got together so many were detailed off to erect the operating tent and flags. The remainder were formed up in squads and we started off at once.

We were extended and moving along slowly when we met our Colonel who said it was no use dallying about close to the shore and ordered our officer to form us up in single file and take us up to the firing line. It was spilling away and we were drenched through. The first thing I saw was a dead Turk, he looked queer in his thick grey uniform, his face all

fly-blown and blackened by the sun. I can have it to say I got the first patient. One of the Munsters shot through the foot. Our officer ordered me to put him on the stretcher and take him back as he was, but the Colonel came up and told me to cut the boot off which I did.

We went on then and the spent bullets began to whiz overhead, we were about half a mile from the firing line. I felt a bit goosey at first at the bullets whizzing and it was amusing to see everyone ducking their heads but I soon got used to it knowing that it was yards past when it seemed to be just overhead.

When we got up close to the firing line the bullets were whizzing in hundreds. Panic seized a lot of the fellows and they all became separated. It was very easy to do this as the place was full of gullies and hillocks. I met one of the officers shortly afterwards and I stayed with him until we returned that night. When we got back we found the cooks had made some tea and we had that with some biscuits. Nothing can describe our misery that night. We had left our coats and waterproof sheets at Lemnos and we had to sleep on the cold wet ground, two men to a blanket. I slept with a young corporal who used to be in an office and it was painful to hear his teeth chattering all night. The next day turned out fine and cheered us up a bit. We shifted our camp further inland and the work of collecting wounded went like wild fire.

Up at daylight and down at midnight was the hours and it was not very long until we began to feel the strain. Every second or third day we shifted our camp further inland as we had a great distance to carry our wounded. We had to keep level with the bay however as the Turks were always shelling the beach. The cross with the circle round it in the sketch will show you the position of our hospital on the day I was captured.

As our troops advanced the distance we had to carry wounded increased, and the last few days we had to carry a distance of five miles. When you look at the mountainous state of the country you will understand what kind of work it was. We were still living on our iron rations and were nearly played out. I was down at the beach for water one day and one of the R.E.'s gave me some dried tinned vegetables. I had a great feed that evening. I boiled a tin of bully beef with the vegetables and some broken biscuit in my dixie and you cannot realise how fine it tasted. I used to

make a stew every day after that and a lot of the fellows followed my example.

Water was the greatest difficulty, it was almost impossible to get it. All the water was brought from Alexandria and bad and muddy as it was hundreds of soldiers were lined up all day to get their bottle filled. Some fellows waited four or five hours and did not get it after all. There was a well a short distance from our camp and even a bigger crowd waited there as it was better water. There was a stone wall built into the hill with a spout sticking out and the water trickled from this in a thin stream. It took five minutes to fill a bottle. I was many a row there over fellows trying to squeeze into the queue.

There is no use dwelling on our work while we were there, for it is too painful. There is no use going over it, every day was the same. Bringing poor young fellows, some crippled for life, to the beach all day long. I brought down the Major of the 6th Munsters one day, shot through the lungs, groaning at every breath. He died on the way down in great agony. I still think of that scene.

There was no roads whatsoever up to the firing line and our only path was a dried watercourse full of boulders. It was almost impossible to keep a stretcher level or steady and we had to proceed at a snail's pace sliding and tripping over stones. This went on every day until August 17th.


 

Sketch of Suvla Bay from Bob Long's diary

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Bozanti Asia Minor (diary)

19th February 1916

I suppose it is rather late to start a diary now, when I am over six months a prisoner of war, but I think it would be advisable to put down the principal events while they are comparatively fresh in my memory, as no matter how vivid the incidents are they are sure to be dulled by time. I shall begin by describing how I became a prisoner in Turkey and how I was treated while I was interred there.

August 17th 1915

About midnight on the sixteenth volunteers were asked for the firing-line. I had not been up that day, so I fell in and got a stretcher. Flood, Lacy and the Belfast chap Irvine had volunteered too, the four of us were on the same stretcher. There was ten stretchers and I was on the tenth and last in the line, we always went up in single file. We stopped at the well for water and then went up to the firing line. We lay down just behind the trenches and waited for daylight, then started again. I think I can see that scene now, the line of stretchers moving along slowly in the halMght. There had been an advance and retreat again that night and a lot of wounded had been left behind and it was our job to fetch them in.

I always imagine there was something strange in the appearance of the trenches and the men in them on that particular morning. However, we went on past the trenches and the front stretchers kept dropping out as patients were sighted. Thus we being last in the line we were the last to get a patient and advanced the nearest to the Turks' trenches.

Our man was lying under a big rock on the side of a large ridge that sloped down to the sea. He was about twelve yards from the top of the ridge. The poor fellow was shot through the left breast close to the heart. His coat had been taken off and a tight bandage was tied round the wound, by one of his comrades I suppose. He was delighted to see us you may be sure as he had given up all hope of being rescued.

We "prepared stretcher" and had him comfortably on it in a few seconds. The officer and his orderly were with my squad all the time. We hardly had the man on when the bullets began to whiz around us. We thought they were whizzing overhead as usual and took no notice, but when they began to strike the rocks around us, we smelt a rat and took cover.

The firing continued, evidently at the lads below us, and after a minute or two Flood and I made another attempt, but before we could lift the stretcher the bullets started again and one struck the heel of my boot, taking heel-plate and all off. Lacy and Irvine made a run for it then, amidst a regular hail of lead, and I don't know what became of them. Somehow I don't fancy their chance.

We took cover again at once. I got down beside the wounded man and Flood a few yards away behind another boulder. The bullets were flying in all directions now and we knew our troops had opened fire. In a few minutes we heard voices behind the ridge and we found the Turks had extended right down along the ridge and cut us off.

And now the firing became terrific. A young fellow named Judson came crawling up from the squad below and crawled up to Flood. But before he could get under cover a bullet struck him on the right buttock, tearing away a large piece of his trousers. It must have gone right up in his stomach for he just groaned once or twice and died in a few seconds.

I could hear the Turks shouting and talking to one another all around and I daren't breath hardly. Then I heard an agonized scream from below shouting in terror "Stretcher bearer, stretcher bearer". I took it he must have been bayoneted, and saw death advancing on him. His voice soon died away into moans.

I was lying flat on my face and hearing stones rattling to my left I ventured to look out between my fingers arid to my horror I saw a Turk standing right over me. He was looking down below me however and aiming and firing carefully at the lads below. Everyone he'd sight, he'd cry "Engelish" "Engelish". The wounded man and I were in full view to him and if I had moved a finger nothing would have saved me. He took no notice of us at all, taking us for dead, and a few seconds after he went behind the ridge.

And now hell seemed to be let loose altogether.

The cruiser down below started shelling the top of the ridge. She must have seen the whole performance and thought we were all wiped out for the shells dropped only yards away, throwing up the stones and clay which fell all around the wounded man and I. He had only his trousers on and I had to keep on brushing the gravel off his bare chest. He never ceased groaning all this time as the bandage was very tight, and with the slightest movement his wound started to bleed. I had to lift him up several times and remove the clay and stones which fell on the stretcher.

Six shells in all dropped beside us and not seeing Flood or the others at all I gave them up for lost as the shells dropped right in the place where they were taking cover. There was a maxim and some kind of pom-pom, firing all the time behind the ridge. The din was deafening altogether. A shell-case went whirring down the slope. Every instant I expected to be blown to atoms and I gave up all hope. I took out my will book and wrote my will and put a postscript in two letters explaining the manner in which I met my death. Strange to say I felt a lot better after doing that and I pulled the wounded man under the rock out of the beating sun and gave him a drink. He was moaning all this time "Oh dear, oh dear what will become of me at all!". It was pitiful altogether.

The cruiser had ceased firing now and the dust gradually cleared away. The pom-pom was going on all this time "dum-dum, dum-dum", with a sickening dull sound in strange contrast with the sharp, crisp "rat-tat" of the machine-gun. The bullets were whistling overhead all this time. One of our maxims was trying to find the Turk's gun. After a bit the pom-pom shifted, much to my relief, and started again further down the ridge and nearer to our trenches. The height of the sun told me it was midday or after it. It was four in the morning when we were fired on first and I had lain all that time in a kind of stupor. The wounded man was very restless, turning and twisting all the time and continually asking for water. I thanked my stars I had a full water bottle and that I did not feel at all thirsty myself, and I was able to let him have as much as he wanted. I tried to cheer him up as much as I could, telling him we should escape when darkness fell. I sat up then and tried to see if any of the others were alive. You can imagine my delight when I found Flood was all right. I thought I was altogether on my own.

We had to keep silent and lie still however for we could hear the Turks talking to one another behind the ridge al the time and several times they three down stones, obviously to find out if there was any movement below.

Everything was silent as the grave now and nothing moved at all only the cloud of flies hovering over poor Judson. The sun was shining on gaily as if no such grim thing as death existed.

Everything was so quiet and still I decided that Flood and I should make a run for it as soon as it was dark enough. Then I remembered the wounded man and knew that both Flood and I would not leave him, and we fostered hopes of our troops making another advance that night. The patient was very restless still and kept waving his arms about. He must have been seen from the top of the ridge for at about four in the evening I heard stones rattling as if someone was coming down. I said another prayer and prepared for the end, for during our stay on the Peninsula we had heard awful stories of the Turk's atrocities, mutilating the dead and wounded and such a thing as being captured never entered our heads. The rattling got closer and I looked up and saw a bayonet about three feet long pointing round the corner of the boulder. The Turk who was behind it must have signalled to the wounded man to get up, for he pointed to his wound and said he could not. Then I heard the Turk retiring again and after a few minutes he returned and came round my end of the rock this time.

I shall never forget the first gaze I had into a Turk's eyes. Instead of acting as I expected he smiled and nodded at me and quickly gave me to understand by signs that there was nothing to be afraid of. He gave me a big water bottle and signed to me to give the wounded man a drink which I did. He then took me behind the ridge and brought up Flood also. We were prisoners of War.

We marched all that night and next morning came to a camp where we were questioned. Set off again that night and reached another camp Where we stayed three days along with three Greeks out of the French Foreign Legion. On the third night we marched to the beach somewhere in the Narrows and went aboard an old steamer which had been torpedoed but not bad enough to sink. We found thirteen other prisoners there. Next morning an aeroplane came along and dropped bombs on the beach. The previous day she had dropped one on the deck over our cabin, but it failed to go off. We had to sleep on the floor of the cabin which was full of flies. On the second day the boat started but when the water got rough she started to sink and she had to put in opposite the town of Gallipoli. Nothing but bread and water all this time.

Stayed there three days while they were making a patch to put over the torpedoe hole. While there a submarine popped up and fired a torpedo at us which missed by about three feet. Turks very much afraid of aeroplanes and submarines. Patch turned out a failure and were taken across to Gallipoli in a destroyer.

Walked four days and four nights on bread and water to a railway station somewhere near Adrianople. None of us had boots on, all had been stolen by the Turks. Terrible suffering on the march. Sun very hot. All hands bad with dysentery. Got the toothache lying on the hard ground. Very cold at nights. Got to the station anyhow and had two days travelling in the train to Constantinople.

When we reached there we were marched to a large prison in a kind of park. We were put in a big room, with a wooden partition down one side in the cracks of which were millions of bugs. Next morning we were served out with a loaf of decent bread. About ten o'clock a dish of boiled wheat was brought in and we yaffled that. Then we were all brought out to be questioned again. When we returned to the room we found it full up of other prisoners about 60 altogether. In the evening a dish of haricot beans and soup was brought in. Not too bad.

We stayed in this prison about two weeks. I had two Turkish baths there. The American Ambassador came one day and gave us all ten shillings each. Anyone could live well for three weeks on ten shillings in Turkey. Grapes are about a penny a pound and tomatoes are equally as cheap. Cheese and butter are about the same as at home.

The toothache never left me an instant and on the third day I went and saw the doctor who pulled it out for me. It was agony having it out without cocaine or anything, but it was a relief to have it out and be at ease.

Everyone in the room was infested with lice, two "chats" or searches we had every day and we caught more in the evening that we did in the morning it was marvellous where they came from. There was no such thing as sleep there. It was very cold at night and we had nothing to cover us at all and as soon as darkness fell the bugs advanced to the attack. I was covered with itchy lumps soon and they all broke out and festered afterwards. My hands and neck were covered with them. I shall never forget that time in the prison as long as I live. It was torture.

Nearly every day fresh prisoners came in and soon every available inch of space was covered. The room was forty feet long by twenty wide and for the last few days 112 men lived in it. Nearly every regiment was represented there. Before the money came I used to sell half my loaf every day to the guard for a piastre to buy tobacco.

We were taken for a slow route march through Stamboul about ten miles it was and nearly killed half of us. We were put in a cavalry barracks that night which was worse than the prison for fleas. The guards there were devils and if we had not been shifted murder would have been done for sure. I saved a big French Senegalese from being bayoneted one day.

We were brought to the prison again next day. On the march we had a chat with the crew of E7 who were captured about the same time as I. Amongst the prisoners was another sailor, Stoker Stratford of E15 which was sunk at the beginning of the war.

About three days after the route march we were told we were going to Angora and told to pack up. We left Constantinople on Sept 24th after a stay of three weeks or so.

We crossed the Bosphorus and got into a train on the Asiatic side. We had three days travelling in the train to Angora, which we reached late on the 27th Sept. We were met there by about a hundred guards who

escorted us around the town and about a mile the other side. There we were brought into a large building which we found out later had been a school of some sort. We were brought into a large room the floor of which was covered with beds. What a rush was made for them! They were mattresses stuffed with the wool of the famous Angora Goat and each bed had a quilt filled with the same wool. Flood and I got a bed with the crew of E7 near the door. In about two minutes everyone was asleep, utterly fagged out with the long journey. Next morning we had a meal of "garrawana". A Turkish officer was in charge of us and his name was Ishmael Effendi, the Turks pronounce it Ismile Effendi and we called him Smile Effendi or "Blue-bottle". He was the best Turk we ever had over us and would do anything for us.

We stayed in Angora about a fortnight. We had our own cooks there and we were able to relish our food a little. I never thought that I should have to exist on boiled hemp-seed and wheat. I have often seen our hens get better provender than I had in Stamboul. And to see the fellows rushing at it you'd think it was a four-course dinner. I think that amongst the British prisoners in Turkey were some of the lowest types to be found. It was disgusting to hear them squabbling and snapping at one another at mealtimes.

We were allowed to have our own cooks and the meat issue was enlarged at Angora. We had three or four concerts there. I obliged several times with success. The officers used to attend them. We got our loaf as usual but the bread was much inferior to that provided in Stamboul.

After we had been a week there we heard another party was coming to join us and they turned up late one night. They had been in a place called Kara Hisscha and had been made to work for a short time but they chucked their hands in when they found out they weren't paid. They were nearly all sailors, the complete crew of the Australian submarine A.E.2 and a few of the crew of E l 5. There was a Ghurka amongst them too, named Kulvada Grumm, a very nice little fellow, and a couple of Australians.

While we were at Angora one of the stokers of E7 named Osborne, administered a whacking to the big French nigger, "Doudah". We heard rumours soon that we were leaving Angora and going four days march away to a place called Kanguari. We didn't like this at all when we heard it. We were quite comfortable, comparatively speaking, at Angora, and we could hardly expect to be better treated anywhere else in Turkey. But the rumour turned out correct and we left Angora on the morning of the 14th October.

I have read a lot about long marches and suffering on the march but the march to Kanguari beats all I ever heard of. It was over a hundred kilometres to Kanguari and we had to walk this on bread and water carrying our four loaves on our backs. Nearly all the prisoners there, about 150, were suffering from the effects of wounds, nearly all were without footwear except the rubbishy slippers supplied in the hospitals. I had a pair of Turks boots about four sizes too large turned up in the front like the hoofs of a mountain ass. I had to sling them away the first day and put on a pair of slippers that a sailor of E7 gave me. His name by the way was Reid and he came from Belfast.

We got on all right during the day but when night fell nearly everyone was beaten and there was scores of laggards trailing on behind. It was pitiful to see chums trying to help one another along. About half a dozen collapsed and were put on arabas or carts. They wouldn't take some of them on and they had to be carried by their comrades.

The Sergeant whom we had appointed leader over us was a brick. His name was Babister of the Berkshire Yeomanry and I shall never forget how he behaved on that march. I think I can see him now, carrying a man on his back or trying to get one on an araba. There was no such thing as selfishness about him, he was a gentleman right through.

About twelve o'clock we came to a village and we were distributed amongst the huts, crammed in like sardines. We were glad to get a rest anyhow and though none of us could lie down we managed to sleep a little sitting. We were roused up early next morning and had our breakfast of dry bread and then off again, stiff and footsore.

I needn't dwell on the sufferings of that march any longer, each day was worse than the previous one and the last day was the worst of all. The worst torture you can give a man I am sure is to compel him to walk round and round a ploughed field for four days in the middle of summer, with nothing but sour stale bread to eat, water to drink and no boots on his feet. Let him walk from sunrise until midnight and on the fourth day he will be a changed man.

We reached Kanguari (pronounced "Changeri") on October 17th. It was late when we got in and we could hardly see where to put our sore feet on the stoney road. We were brought into a large building which surrounded a fairly large square. It turned out to be an old Barracks. Flood and I got into one big room which took up one side of the square. With us was two of the Connaughts, Cloherty and Simnett, Fleet of the Bucks Yeomanry and Poole of the Dorset Yeomanry. All the sailors were together and we were with them.

There was a bed for every two men and good beds they were too. The room was about fifty yards long and about eighteen feet wide with the beds down each side and a six foot gangway between. There were rows of lockers up each wall at the head of the beds. We settled quite comfortably at Kanguari. We had the big yard for walking about in.

A lot of Turkish women came every morning selling hot milk, hard boiled eggs, grapes, nuts etc. I had very little money and it soon disappeared. We had our own cooks there and did our own killing. On Sunday the 24th October we had a service in a mosque attached to the building. The service was conducted by a chap named Bennett of the Worcesters and he did it very well.

We got a 1 lb loaf of bread every day and had two meals of garrawana one at ten in the morning and the other at four. We used to feel very hungry between meals and one day Simnett suggested making a duff of the bread. It was very sour and very hard to eat without butter, so on Saturday the 30th we bought a half piastres worth of raisins and each put in half our loaf. This made a fine duff and satisfied the seven of us. We continued having duffs, one every day. One day one of us would sell a pair of socks to the Turks to buy the raisins. Then in a few days a shirt would go, or a towel, or a pair of pants. By raising the wind this way we managed to get tobacco and duffs for all of us.

On November 4th a lot of Greek prisoners were driven in, poor old men some of them poorly clad and barefoot. They were all herded into a place where the sheep used to be and stopped that night, they started off next day for Angora. If they had to walk all that way I am afraid some of them never reached their destination.

Mails started coming in then nearly every week. I nearly got sick of listening for my name to be called out but on Nov. 16th I at last good a letter or to be correct half a letter, the other half was "yak".

We were on the rocks about this time altogether and to get a few piastres I sold the pair of shoes the sailor gave me. I got five piastres (lOd) and a pair of old skin shoes. My word I did look a sight something like one of the twelve apostles I suppose. It was a puzzle to get them on with all the bits of string on them. A few days later a batch of clothing came in. There was only a few pairs of boots and these had to be drawn for. This draw took place in the early morning of the 19th Nov. We were all lined up about fifty of us and the worst off for shoes were picked out, I was among them. Some of the disappointed ones started arguing of course and said those who had sold their boots had no right to take part in the draw.

A lot were picked out and then a big six-foot chap named Collin of the Berkshire Yeomanry came up and insinuated that I had sold my boots to a sailor in Angora and got a pair of shoes in exchange for them with some money. I denied this of course but he was obstinate as he had no love for me, and at last I lost my rag and landed him one on the nose. We came to grips and fell down and I getting up first landed him another as he rose. He then got two or three smacks at me for he had a great reach and was big enough to eat me. I saw the draw was going on without me and knowing I should get the worst of it I chucked my hand in and lined up again for the draw. It was nearly over and when I got there the rest of the papers were flung up in the air. What a rush there was then! I charged in head down and as luck would have it pounced on a paper. I opened it, trembling with excitement and saw "Boots", that's all.

Next day the 20th Nov. was my birthday and I was presented with a pair of cheap American boots and a pair of socks. I think I earned them all right.

The next mail I got two letters and learned that the home was shifted to Belfast. A few days after we heard some money was coming for us and on Dec. 6th it turned up right enough, I think we got about 14/- each. We formed a mess at once and shopping parties to the town were sanctioned by the Commander.

We started buying eggs and chickens. They were very cheap. Eggs 8 a piastre, Fowls 2 piastres each (4d). Cheap, isn't it? On Dec. 11th we had fried eggs for breakfast. Fleet went to town and bought a kerosene tin to act as a pot. When we examined it we found it was leaking and had to buy another. We all liked Fleet, he was such a hard case. He did the butchering for the cookhouse. We had two Angora goats every day in the "carrawana" but amongst such a crowd it was little enough. The grub was very much improved and we were quite satisfied with Kanguari. It was the best pace we had struck in Turkey. Names were taken for baths every day and there was shopping parties every second day. We had great freedom there and once or twice a week we were allowed outside to play football.

At Christmas we had a great time altogether. We had a football match between the Army and Navy on Christmas day. Four musicians were sent down by the commander to the football ground and we were treated to an exhibition of the "kan-kan", a barbaric dance practised by the Turks and Egyptions.

The musicians attended the concert we held on Christmas night and we had an enjoyable time altogether. We had a turkey for dinner of course. It cost 15 piastres or 2/6 in English. We had a Christmas pudding too, equal to anything I had ever tasted at home.

On New Year's day we held a sports meeting and had a concert that night. I sung a parody made up by myself about Submarine E7 to the tune of "Johnnie O'Connor had an automobile". I had a bit in about the cook too and I can truthfully say the song brought down the house. I was a very popular turn at concerts altogether.

I often thought things were getting too good at Kanguari and that we would be shifted again. More money came from the ambassador and more clothes. I got a pair of Turkish shoes, turned up at the front like the hooves of a mountain ass and they turned up very useful to me after.

Early in January we heard we were going away again. We were sorry to hear this. It was not likely that we should find a better place than Kanguari and we dreaded the march to Angora. There had been a heavy fall of snow and it was about a foot deep when we left Kanguari.

We left Kanguari on the 17th of January. We were in better condition leaving than in coming but the conditions were far worse. We had to carry our four loaves of bread for the march as usual. We started early in the morning and trudged on all day and half the night. We had to cross a bog in the dark and sunk up to our knees in the snow and mud. My boots gave out altogether and I should have lain down in the snow and died, only for the Butcher. He took my pack from me and helped me along.

When we came to the little village we were distributed about in different houses. I was put in a grain store-house and slept on the hard concrete floor utterly exhausted, weak with hunger and parched with thirst. We were charged a penny a glass for water there. What do you think of that?

Next morning I abandoned the boots and put on the shoes I had got. They were a God-send. There had been a frost that night and the going was much better. We had ekmek and su (water) for breakfast and su and ekmek for dinner and snow and ekmek for tea just for a change.

This day's march wasn't so bad and we reached the large village of Asthora before darkness fell. We were billeted in different houses of course and we made some tea. We heard the great news that we were to rest all the next day and start the following day. The next day we walked around the town as we liked, buying whatever we wanted. We fried eggs and had tea two or three times that day and had carrawana as well. We were well rested when we started again on the twentieth of January.

We marched well that day and got into the next village early that night. We made more tea but we couldn't sleep at all it was so cold. The next day was the last, we were to reach Angora that night and we started early. We were all in good spirits as we trudged along through the snow. The march was nearly over anyhow, no matter what came after.

We got into Angora early and were billeted in different parts of the town. We were put in a room 18 ft by 12, twenty-four of us, with two small windows near the roof. There was a yard at this building. I think the place was a hostel of some sort. We could buy all kinds of bread at the gate. Figs and raisins etc. Early every morning a chap came round with hot cornflower, he sold it in tiny little china cups and it was delicious. We were all right there as far as grub was concerned.

Out of our little window we could see two or three praying towers and each evening the "mueddins" bawled out their praises to Allah. We had a bath on the Sunday, we wanted it too I might say. I had a glass of tea there scented with cinnamon, delicious it was.

We stayed there a week or so and we left Angora on the 27th Jan. We were given four loaves again and bundled into a train late at night. The train was a very slow one. I don't think there was any coal for the engine.

They use wood for it. As well as that every train I've been in in Turkey has been half a mile long. I got down and slept on the floor that night.

Next day we played bridge all day. I and Macdonald a sailor of E7 against Flood and Macklin, another sailor. Next morning the two sailors went out at a station to get water and the train went off without them. One of the guards when he heard it, jumped off the train and nearly broke his neck. We didn't see them until the day after we reached our destination. The country grew wilder and wilder as we proceeded and more mountainous. At several stations we were brought out for boiled wheat, but nobody eat it. We reached Belemedik on the 30th of January.

(I have almost written up to the present now. It is Sunday evening, the 8th of March. I am sitting down on the far side of the ridge that separates our camp from a little Armenian settlement. I am looking down at the Armenians or Turks or whatever they are walking about the place. A dozen or so mules are hanging about the tents and shelters. A little boy is carrying a calf into one of the shelters for the night. A woman, clad in her quaint divided skirt is driving three mules to water. Blackbirds are singing in the distance just as I have heard them dozens of times at home in the Spring evenings. The musical sound of a goat-bell is heard in the distance. A girl laughs heartily down in the settlement. The smell of a pine forest is in the air. Is it possible, I am free to walk about this peaceable place and still be a prisoner of War in a barbaric country? It seems hard to believe it. I must close now for the light is fading and I can't see the lines) The night we reached here was bitterly cold, we were taken out of the train in the dark, and stumbled along the track about a quarter of a mile to a wooden building which had been erected for our reception. When we got there, there was no room for us and we had to walk back, about fifty of us to Belemidik where there was a large marquee erected. When we got there it was full up also and Flood, the Butcher, Lineham and I had to sleep outside in the flies. My word, it did freeze that night. My feet were frozen altogether and had no feeling at all in them.

I was delighted when day broke, and we got up and made some tea, which put some life into us. Cloherty and Simnett and Woodward the other members of my mess were down in the wooden shanty.All next day we worked at putting up six more tents, putting up wooden floors in them and in the marquee. That night we slept in a tent. There was a lot of iron barrows lying about and we lit a fire in one of these and brought it into the tent. That warmed us up a bit. There was tons of wood lying about and fires were going on all sides.

That day we heard that we would soon be put to some work and that we should meanwhile get eight piastres a day to keep us. So we formed a mess again and Simnett and Cloherty came up and joined us in the tent. There was a village not far away and a big store in which you could buy everything needed. We made ourselves comfortable there in no time. Next day volunteers were asked to go and work in the tunnel. I wasn't having any you may be sure. Work was going on in three or four tunnels in the railway.

There was fine white bread selling in this place at two piastres a loaf. We got paid up a week in advance so we were all right for food. Next day a large party of Russian prisoners arrived and we had to leave the tent and go into the marquee to make room for them. The Russians were in a very bad way for clothing and a lot were bare footed. Some of them were over fifteen months prisoners.

A few days after one of the Australian sergeants said he wanted some men for wood cutting so Flood, Cloherty, Simnett and I joined his gang. The work was all right and we were out in the open air all day of course. As well as that it saved us from having to go into the tunnel where the air was very bad and the work hard and dangerous. In about four days every one nearly except us were sent to the tunnel. They had to go whether they liked it or not.

All the old "posthas" we had in Kanguari were sent away and sailor guards were substituted. These fellows were devils and were always looking for trouble. Everything you required could be obtained in the town, and soon fellows began to buy "koniak" or cognac and get drunk. Two of the Connaught Rangers Regan and MacSherry were the first offenders. They were run in for three days. Everyone who refused to work were run in also. They got no pay for the time they were in confinement and only half a loaf of bread and some water each day.

We had far greater liberty than ever we had hitherto but I don't think we were as happy or safe. We kept working away cutting wood up the hills. The weather kept getting finer and finer. Grass is beginning to appear. Wild crocuses and hyacinths and gladiolas cover the hills where we are working. There is a great forest of pines here. They grow in thousands out of the rocky face of the mountains where there is not a morsel of soil to sustain them. Every now and then a crash is heard echoing through the valleys, some big giant felled by the Turkish woodcutters. If the mornings are very cold we light a huge fire and sit around it until the sun rises over the mountains. We are quite closed in by huge mountains. It is a natural prison.

We hear rumours every day of the war. The Russians advancing at Suwayh. The English taking Bagdad, and bombarding Merune. A massacre of Armenians somewhere.

One of the woodcutting gang named Morrison and I went and got some "koniak" last Sunday evening. Three bottles we got and we drank two coming home. I had the other one in my pocket. We came home and had our tea. The sailors had got some drink too and two or three of them started fighting. There was a dickens of a row. One of them struck one of the old "posthas" but he was given half a note to hold his tongue about it. Then the sailor guards came up at the double with the commander at the head. He got one of the sailors who had been fighting, smacked his face, and run him off to "clink". Then all the English prisoners were lined up, a roll-call taken and then came an examination which made me feel goosey. Everyone's breath was smelt by one of the guards. He came up the line smelling away and lo and behold he passed me. The next one to be yanked out was Morrison! Such a joke, I did laugh at him. After blowing and snorting in the commanders face for a few minutes he came to the conclusion he was sober and he got off. It was very lucky for me I was not taken out and searched as I still had the bottle in my pocket. Three of the sailors were locked up.

Things are getting a bit too hot here now. Two more sailors were locked up on Wednesday. They got koniak and were caught by the guards. They swam across a river and pelted the guards with stones. They were collared and knocked about a bit by the guards.

Yesterday being St Patrick's Day we took the day off. We didn't take any booze though. Three of the Connaughts came down from the tunnel and got drunk in the town. They got into contact with the guards of course and there was a row. While the guards were knocking one of them about, the other two made a run for it towards our camp. One of them was stopped by a "postha" and was going quietly with him but one of the sailor guards came up and took a running kick at his stomach. The other prisoner got into the marquee but he was seen and hauled out. The

commander came running up and struck him in the face and then those two men got the most terrible treatment. They were surrounded by guards each one eager to get a blow at them. Those that had rifles clubbed them and struck as hard as they could. Those that had no rifles tore up paling posts and branches off trees. They were beaten black and blue. It was inhuman savagery. All the prisoners were out looking on of course and roars of rage could be heard on all sides. Everyone was strung to the highest pitch of excitement. It only wanted someone to say "Go!" and we would have been at the guards throats like a pack of wolves. Thank God there was no-one to say the word though. We could have finished the guards of course but the next day we would pay for it with our lives. As sure as death there will be murder done here yet. It is in the air.

We held a concert in collusion with the French that night just to show the Turks we were not afraid of them and the Marseillais, God save the King, and Tipperary could be heard miles away. One of the French was locked up for defacing a Turkish note. He could not change it.

I think there will be a big row one of these days. Sure to be. There will be a big strike soon and we shall all be shifted again. May that time soon come. We are not safe here at all.

Today is the 18th of March, it has rained all the morning and therefore another holiday. Tomorrow is Sunday, therefore another holiday.

26th March Sunday.

We got paid for our woodcutting last week. Four piastres (8d) a day we got for it. It sounds small but money goes a long way here. Another lot of clothes came from the Ambassador. I got a singlet, a belt, an overcoat, and a pair of socks. I have plenty of clothes now.

It is awfully hot now in the middle of the day. We were all invited by the Frenchmen to a concert in their quarters last night. It was a great success. They handed round tea first, then a mug of wine, and finished up with a glass of "racky" per man. They went to a lot of trouble over us. These Frenchies are very anxious to be on good terms with us. A lot of Englishmen dislike the French for some reason. I believe the captain of the French submarine "Turquoise" gave a lot of plans away when he was captured. That is one reason. The "Turquoise" and one of our new boats E20 had a meeting place somewhere in the Dardanelles. When the Turquoise was collared, although there was plenty of time, the captain never destroyed any papers at all. Every one of the crew was saved with

all their kits and the boat was undamaged. Four of our boats have been caught in the Narrows but the captains always blew them up before surrendering. At any rate the Frenchman gave the game away and when E20 popped up at the meeting place she found, not the Turquoise, but a Turkish submarine waiting for her. As soon as she appeared on the surface a torpedoe was smacked into her and 21 of her crew were drowned like rats in a trap. Only six were saved.

When E7 was caught in the nets she lay on the bottom for thirteen hours in the hope of breaking loose. At last she had to come up to surrender and the captain, last man up, sank the boat again with a bomb.

When A.E.2 was collared the same thing happened, the captain sunk the boat before leaving. El5 ran ashore in shallow water and was fired on by the Turks. All of the crew save six or seven were killed. Then one of our destroyers came up and blew the sub to smithereens so that it should not fall into the hands of the Turks.

The crew of the Turquoise are the best Frenchies I've met up to the present, everyone likes them and we had a very enjoyable time with them last night.

A chap named Nichols of the A.E.2 started writing a paper entitled the "Belemedik Buzzer" at two piastres a copy. There is all sorts of things about the Turks in it. Latest rumours of peace and the war. He has just told us that his paper has been collared and all and he expects to be shoved in clink.

I get on very well with the Russians. When we came here first we used to gather together every night round the fire barrows and sing. They are all good singers and when three or four of them sing in unison it sounds lovely. They, like the Welsh, sing all in the minor key, plaintively and sad. They commemorate all their events in song. One song they sing is all about Napoleon and Moscow. Another very nice one is about twenty Russians who were taken prisoner by the Turks in the Crimea War. These poor fellows were kept in a dungeon until they died, but they composed this hymn to "Bozzay" (God) first, to relieve them from their suffering and take them to Himself. I can sing this song now just as well as any Russian. I have learned the Russian National Anthem and another song as well. My special friend is Alexandra Nicholivf. I go in to see him every night and with a mixture of Turkish, Russian and English we manage to scrape up a conversation. He is mad on singing, that is, classical singing, and he treats me to a bit of "Othello" and "William Tell" every night. He says, "Misther Lonk! English Opera, choke gazelle!"

April 5th 1916

Today is the 5th of April and we've been sacked off the wood-cutting two days. We are going away somewhere else, the rumour says.

There was another issue of clothes yesterday and I got a pair of "Allemande" soldiers boots, which lace up at the side instead of the front. I got a shirt, pants and two pairs of socks as well. I'm doing all right. They will come in handy when the "parrahs" run out.

I haven't had a parcel here yet and things are very dear. Tea is 91- a lb, and butter 2/6. Sugar is about 5/-. Everything else is fairly cheap. Oh for a cup of tea with milk and sugar in it and a slice of white bread with butter that doesn't kill at a hundred yards spread on it! A tin of condensed milk costs 2/6 in the town. So you can't afford anything like that on 1/4 a day. Can you?

Sunday April 10th (Sic).

We are going away tomorrow to work. I am glad we are going for it is rotten hanging round the camp, and we can't sleep on the hard boards unless we are tired out. The other night I was lying awake and I distinctly heard five rifle shots fired rapidly. I wonder what it was?

The lads are all out playing cricket now. It looks well on the notice-board, this "Today at Belemedik Cricket Club Grounds, England versus Australia" or British Army versus Navy. We will have an open air Church service in a couple of hours time.

What a queer religion the Turks have, to be sure! There is one out on the green now rubbing his forehead on the ground about every five seconds. First he stands up and faces Mecca the holy city and prays a bit to himself, then he gets down on his knees and prays another bit. Then he rubs his forehead on the ground three times, gets up and goes through the whole performance again. About dusk one or two old fellows come out and after washing their face and feet oblige with a solo something like a dog baying the moon. When I heard them at it first in Stamboul I thought they were treating us to "Hitchy-Koo" without words. Ah-----ha ha, ah-a-a-a-a, ha ha, ah-a-a-a-a ha ha, Ah-a-a-a-a Hitchy Koo! Hitchy Koo! But you'd want to hear them at it, to get an idea of what its like.

They never wash in still water, it is against their religion, and everyone of them has a tin like a little kettle and he gets a chum to pour the water into his hands. If he has no kettle, he simply takes a good mouthful of water and lets it run into his hands and has a hot-water wash. They are supposed to wash their feet before they pray, but I have often seen them just wet their boots or shoes with their hands before praying. Too lazy to take their boots off.

I have never seen a Turk take off his fez or coat to have a wash yet and I have never seen them washing their necks. The real Turks keep then-women locked up all day until they come home. The Turk women dress just like a nun, in deep black and a thick black veil always over their face. The poor class just wear a shawl and have to chance one eye, when they have no veils. Its just as well most of them wear veils too for though I have seen some very beautiful women in Stamboul, the majority have dreadful dials. The children are very pretty little things and are always strapped to the mothers back. If the women at home saw the work these women have to do they would keep their tongues more at rest.

If an Englishman got up one morning and handed the Missus a big axe, a loaf of ekmek, and a jar of su and told her not to show her nose that night until she had chopped down half-a-dozen trees, I wonder what she would say. Knock his brains out with the poker, I suppose. Well that's what the women have to do here. She sets off up the hills in the morning, with a big saw and axe and a jar of su, not counting the youngster on her back while her hubby rides on the ass contentedly smoking a cigarette. She always has to foot it you may bet. There are no Suffragettes in Turkey.

Monday 10th April.

I hadn't to go away today after all. Cloherty is the only one in the set picked out. They didn't start until about three o'clock and they have to walk twelve miles. All their swags, however, were packed on mules so they were saved that job. About an hour after they had gone it commenced to rain. A regular cloud-burst too. They must have been drenched if they did not take shelter in one of the tunnels. It is an awfully wet day altogether.

Tuesday 11th April.

The "Fatal Six", that is, Simnett, Pidduck, Nelson, Ryder, Morgan and Cook are all mad drunk on "racky" today. This morning someone told Pidduck he wanted his hair cut badly, thereupon Pidduck bet anyone a "lire" (1 pound) he would get his hair shaved off if his opponent got his off also. Simnett took him up and the two went off. The way the bet was, if Pidduck got his hair off and Simnett didn't, Simnett was to pay Pidduck a lire and vice-versa, in the event of neither having the courage, an outsider was to get a lire from each. At any rate they came back as hair-less as the day they were born; they had it shaved off as bald as an egg. The looked something frightful! Simnetts hair is very thin and weak and if he can grow another crop within five years I shall be surprised.

About nine o'clock at night Morgan went mad in the horrors and Flood and I, and two others had to be o him for two hours. Another chap named Baker went into the rats too and the other fellows had to hold him down also while he was raving about reinforcements, and ammunition and shouting for a machine-gun so that he could mow down the millions of Turks who were advancing on him. Racky is awful stuff, regular firewater.

Thursday 13th April.

I moved into a new mess today amongst the few Australians and New Zealanders that are left. The marquee is far too hot a place. The Russians nearly killed their "Targeman" (interpreter) today. They blame him for doing in a lot of their comrades at "Siwash" and robbing them of then-money. As one thousand three hundred Russian prisoners died at "Suwash" of starvation it looks very fishy. They had an awful time there. When they were captured their boots and clothes were taken from them and they were driven half-naked, fifteen days march to Siwash. Scores of them died on the road of wounds and hunger. When they got to Siwash there was no grub either for such a large number. Alexander told me that he himself starved for six days. At any rate 1300 died there. Turkey will have to pay dearly for those.

There was a rumour yesterday that Holland has declared war on Germany. Now it is reversed today and she has declared war on England and France! If she has, she is fairly up the spout and she will lose all her colonies, Batavia, Borneo, Malay, Dutch Guiana and all the rest. I suppose it is another fable though. Alexandra was telling me this morning that he saw a gazette in the stores saying that Turkey was finished and we would be home in "beer i" (one month). I hope that's true anyway. I have just sold a spare singlet to a Greek for 25 piastres, 4/2 in English money. That'll do for a rainy day.

Wednesday April 19th.

We are getting on towards Easter now. It is real April weather we are having, very showery. Spring has come, and all the trees are donning their mantle of green. Birds are singing everywhere. There are hundreds of gold-finches here now and dozens of different kinds of wood-peckers. Millions of frogs are croaking in the stream. When I heard them at first I thought that an army of ducks had taken possession of the river. There are plenty of rumours of the War going the rounds, all lies of course.

A few Turks were round the camp this evening trying to sell shirts, tunics and pants that they had stolen off our dead on the Peninsula. Horrible, isn't it? When we came along in the train we saw several Turkish soldiers wearing Australians' uniforms, all complete tunic, pants, puttees, and boots. Of course the Turkish soldiers are fitted out very badly. I have never seen a Turk with a decent pair of boots yet, but that is no excuse for them robbing the dead. I wonder what people would say at home if they saw one of our soldiers swaggering around in a ragged Turkish uniform and a pair of cow-hide moccasins!

Wednesday April 26th.

Well, Easter has come and gone and we are not home yet. I begin to think we are going to stay here altogether. Yesterday was the anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. We had a celebration in our tent last night, aided by a kerosene tin of wine.

We had a football match on Easter Monday. Belemedik versus No 5 Tunnel. Belemedik won. We had goal-posts, and the ground was marked out and all. Then we had a first-class concert in the marquee to finish up. The commander was there too and my word! you should have seen him staring at Stoker Emery when he was singing "I'm fu' the noo", he thought he was blind drunk.

Johnnie Ghurka gave us a Hindoo dance and sang a song, in Hundustanee of course. Then Albert the "Tareman" (interpreter) sang "Tipperary" amidst a great uproar. La Wee the Frenchman sang a French song and Alexander Nicholivf the Russian sang a Russian one, so it was quite an international affair. The audience consisted of English, Australians, New Zealanders, French, Russians, Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Germans, Austrians, Negroes and one Ghurka. Where else in the world could you get such a mixture to sit down quite friendly with one another? At the finish we sang our National Anthem, the Marseillaise and the Russian National Anthem and cheered for all we were worth.

Jimmy the One (the Commander) was quite pleased, and said we should be all home soon. All the Greeks and Armenians had four days holiday at Easter. They rigged up a place as a chapel and held services in it continually for the four days. I went to one service. When you go in at the door you buy a little rushlight or a candle for half a piastre and then you stick it in a font that is full of clay. When your back is turned one of the vergers pinches your candle blows it out and brings it to the door to sell again. Two priests held the service, all clothed in black, with top-hats on with the brim at the top instead of at the bottom.

May 3rd.

We were shifted yesterday to Askerry, twenty-eight of us. It is about twelve miles from Belemedik. We passed through Kutchla (Kutahya?) and Tasch Dermas on the way and saw the most beautiful scenery on the way. Such mountains and precipices! And the river dashing through the ravine 1500 feet below. If there was only some snow it would knock Switzerland into a cocked hat, but the scorching sun was beating blindingly on the white dusty road all the time and not much attention was paid to the scenery. We are on strike here at Askerry already. It is a rotten place.

(A new notebook begins) Hadjikiri (Hadji-kiri?) June 8th.

We have been here about six weeks now. Its not so bad now that we have got used to it, but it has taken a lot of getting used to. For the first few days we were working on a road, then fourteen of us got a job working around the works. That was the worst, we were working ten hours a day in the burning sun for about eight piastres a day. We had a German over us. He was a rotter at first but we have broken him in a bit now. Then after a fortnight at that ten of us succeeded in getting into an eight hour shift and at present we are on the night shift ten to six. It's all right.

The house we are in is an awful hovel and alive with fleas. I got sick of sleeping on the floor and I made a hammock for myself out of two sacks and slung it six feet off the ground so I am out of hopping range.

Then the grub is rotten. We only get two meals a day out of the mess. There is hardly any provisions or vegetables in the town at all and we are living on macaroni and meat, and little of that. Tea is eighty piastres an oker and sugar forty, although the Germans can buy it for six piastres, downright robbery it is. There is no beans or spuds to be had at all. One good thing is that fruit is coming in now, and we can get apricots 4 piastres an oker and plums at five, figs at eight.

Very few parcels and letters come through now, but that deficiency is made up in rumours. The most impossible things go the rounds. We heard of a big battle in the North sea the other day in which two of our big ships, the Warspite and Marlboro were badly damaged and numerous small craft sunk. Only two German ships were damaged. We hear there are terrible riots in Ireland and that she is on the point of declaring war on England! We heard today that the cruiser Hampshire was sunk in the Irish sea with Kitchener and all his staff on board! We heard that the German fleet had possession of the North Sea! and we heard that the Czar of Russia was assassinated. We hear that all the powers except England are anxious for peace. The Germans are always trying to blacken England in the eyes of the Turks.

June 15th.

"Bunts" (signalman) Thompson of A.E.2 and Gwynne of E7 sheddadled today. This is Thompson's third attempt to escape. You know we are very close to the coast here, about thirty kilometres it appears to be. On a clear day we can see the sea quite plainly.

On the first and second attempt to escape Thompson was barred by guards and shepherds. He has gone well prepared. He has a saw, hammer, axe and nails and yards of rope with which to make a raft when they reach the coast. They have taken four loaves and three quarts of water each.

We haven't had any parcels or letters lately. We hear things are progressing well for us. A little "buzz" came in from Kutchla the other day about an incident that occurred the other day. Among the chaps there is an Australian gunner named Griffiths. He was unlucky to be captured at all but couldn't resist the temptation to join in a bayonet charge and therefore lost his freedom and one eye. To sum him up quickly he is a "hard chaw" and a very nice fellow. Well he had a row with a Turk one day in the tunnel and he knocked the Turk out. That was all very well, but the next morning he appeared accompanied by his big brother, he also had a go at the Gunner, who unconcernedly knocked him out also! That night the Turk popped his head into the gunner's room and fired a revolved point-blank at the Gunner. The bullet missed the Gunner, hit the wall, ricocheted and struck Osborne of E7 in the foot and another chap in the arm. The Turk was arrested and is likely to get fifteen years.

Cholera is raging about fifty miles away and as a couple of Russians have died of it here we have all been inoculated against it.

June 26th.

We are off the eight hour shift now and are on the wood-gang. It is a rotten job and we have to walk five miles to work. This morning was our first and we went out looking for the place to work, without even a "postha" with us. It took us about half a day to find the place. We got our months pay yesterday. We had been advanced 75 piastres for grub and a lot more for bread and meat besides. I drew 148 1/4 piastres for 26 days work at 11 piastres a day. That will keep me all right for a month. A lot of chaps drew as little as fifty piastres and how they are going to get on I don't know.

The runaways are gone ten days now and they are not missed yet. They must have succeeded in getting away this time. If they escape they deserve the V.C.

We hear that the Russians are progressing splendidly. They have retaken Warsaw and are advancing through Roumania against Bulgaria and Austria. Once the Russians start to advance nothing will stop them. We hear that the Germans have captured an American long range gun on the Russian frontier. Talking about long range guns we hear that the Germans have planted a long range gun in northern France and are blowing London to smithereens.

I forgot to say last week that when the Germans spread that rumour about Kitchener and the disaster to our fleet, our lads in Belemedik forsook their tents and tabernacles at twelve midnight and assembled on the green to sing "God save the King" and " Rule Brittania" just to show we were not downhearted and much to the wonder of the inhabitants of Belemedik, who flocked to the scene to find out what was up.

There is a hard case of a fellow, a Turk, who drives the wood away from where we work. He has no boots and his feet are as hard as iron. Delpratt said to him one day "Pothin yuk?" (No boots?) and he answered "Bu pothin guzelle, Allah pothin" (These boots are very good, they are God's boots) and he pointed to his bare feet. They say some very queer things these Turks. I heard one swearing at a horse who had misbehaved himself one day and I asked the interpreter what he said, it was "May a dog eat they head". Sometimes they say "Thou son of a disease. Thou gnats egg! Thou son of a scorpion" and other pleasant things.

July 5th.

They have discovered the absence of the runaways and they count us every evening now. A short while ago a party of English from here, tempted by the extra parrahs, volunteered for the tunnel. Well, they have reaped the fruits of their foolishness. A terrible accident occurred yesterday and two men were injured, one very seriously indeed. They were drilling holes in the tunnel and they came on an old drill-hole. They found there was dynamite in this hole and they foolishly tried to extract it. It happened that this charge had not gone off at all and that the detonator was still in it. Anyway they tried to poke this out, two of them, Sergeant Owen and Corpl. Davis. It went off and almost blew Owens head off and also wounded Davis badly about the head. I saw Owen being carried away to hospital on a door. He was terribly injured about the head, his face was almost blown away and he was unconscious. He was injected with morphine at the hospital. Davis was able to return home and he is not too bad, though he expects to lose his left eye. As for Owen everyone has very little hope of his life. He has been unconscious forty-eight hours now. There is a German nurse in the hospital now and a good job too for the Turks know very little about surgery.

We go on the eight hour shift, emptying waggons, tomorrow.

July 31st.

I haven't had much time for writing lately. We got a lot of parcels about a fortnight ago, I got ten, but there are very few letters coming through. I got one the other day dated Dec. 22nd. Over seven months old.

We haven't heard anything of the two lads that got away yet.

Owen has almost recovered from his accident and is not much the worse, but Davis has lost his left eye. He has gone to Belemedik and they are trying to get him home to England.

There was a big row in the cook house and all the old cooks evicted and new ones installed and the grub is all right now. I nearly got blood-poison in my arm a couple of weeks ago. I knocked my arm against a waggon and took the skin off. It festered of course as every scratch does here and swelled up a good bit. I had six days off work with it and by bathing it with hot water I got it all right again. Fellows are always getting sores here and they take a long time to heal.

I heard an amusing dialogue between a chap named "Bird" and the German engineer. We call this fellow "Birdy" he is an ex-policeman and six feet high. He has a face like a horse, as red as a boiled beet, with a big mouthful of grinders, and parts his hair in the middle and plasters down his forehead, and he drawls out his words as if he was too tired to live. You know the sort. He is flat-footed as well and altogether he is an amusing character. At any rate he hurt his fingers at a waggon and got two full days off, but the timekeeper would only put him down a halfday so Birdie determined to interview the engineer about it. The engineer came along that evening and Birdie seeing him, pulled himself together, and ambled up to him like a baby elephant drew the heels of his wooden clogs together "one, two" saluted knocking his cap off his head at the same time and started, "Good evening excuse me I beg your pardon Mr File (the engineer can only speak German and Turkish) "Mr File" placed his arms akimbo and said "yah, yah?" "Ben waggon hastha", says Birdie, "so Ben goes to the hospital and Ben told Sen that Ben was waggon hostha and Sen gave Ben a ticket for two days but this bloody timekeeper - Hey, targeman come here and tell the old beggar what I want to say". Birdie only knows that Ben is Turkish for "I" and Sen for "you", hostha for "sick", that's the extent of his knowledge and how he expected "Mr File" to understand his "Pidgin" I don't know. The sergeant then thinking it a favourable time to ask for a rise tackled him through the interpreter. "Mr File", says "Sacramento!" tell him that on the other hand I am about to diminish the English wages this month. That was stiff, wasn't it?

We are continually hearing good news of the war now and the enemy is getting driven back on all sides.

I am sick of the war altogether and I am longing to get home again.

Sat 19th August.

Two more have made a burst for freedom tonight. Two of my pals too, Nichols and Wheat of Sub A.E.2. I think if anyone should succeed in getting away it will be these two, for they are better equipped and are not so much in the dark respecting the direction as the others who have gone. They have got a map drawn by one who knows the country with their route and all the dangerous spots to be avoided marked on it. They have also got a lamp for signalling, tools and rope for building a raft if that is possible and they have enough Turkish notes to pay for a tour round the world. I had the pleasure of providing the commissariat. I gave them all the biscuits I had received in parcels, about 12 lbs, and also a great quantity of soup, bovril and tea and cocoa tablets. I also gave them a brand new "Kitcheners" methylated spirit stove, very small and easily stowed away, that I had received from a lady in London. I hope these two will get through for I like them very much.

Sunday 20th August.

We thought the lads would be able to get a decent start but as luck would have it we were counted this evening and their absence was discovered. We delayed them for two hours in counting us anyway, but they discovered two were gone and after going over us all by name they discovered who it was. This is very hard luck as we thought they should manage to get two days start anyhow, as it is they have had just 24 hours. Well it can't be helped now we all did our best for them.

Monday 21st August.

The Commander is spreading a buzz today that they have been captured somewhere near Tarsus. We don't believe it. I forgot to say that three more hooked it from Belemedik four or five days before Nichols went. They are Lushington and Ashton, Australians, and McEneny a New Zealander. There is a buzz that they have been captured. I believe they are caught right enough.

Wednesday 23rd August.

We heard a good buzz today about Nichols and Wheat. They are supposed to have got away all right and boarded a warship near Mersina. We hear the Russians are only a few miles away from Vienna and that the English and French are giving the Germans what for in Alsace Lorraine. Things are looking queer for old Kaiser Bill now. We hear a great lot of English were captured at Kut-el-Amara (near Bagdad) about two thousand English and five or six thousand Indians. They had to march for two months here and half the English have died on the way. A lot of the Indians are at Kara-Hisschar (Kara-Hissar?)I believe and the English are split up into parties of thirty and distributed along the line from here to Mersina. There is a party of thirty at the next station five miles away called Alchek-Guedek. They are in a very bad state, three have died in a week, yet the commander will not let us have any commun ication with them whatever. We send them money on the sly.

I get plenty of parcels now, about three a week. We are expecting some today. There is a great lot of Malaria fever going about now. About twenty men are down with it. There is plenty of fruit corning in now, grapes, peaches, apples, melons etc. very cheap too.

October 28th.

I have been too sick to write anything this six weeks. It has been a six weeks of horror. Nobody working at all. Everybody down with fever. I got the fever on the 15th Sept. I starved myself of course and I got over the first bout in six days. I had two or three days rest then I got it again. Got over it in four days and had four days respite, got it again and got over it in six days. Then I got dysentery, lost my appetite and got as weak as a cat, thought I was going to kick it. But now the parcels have come and I have suitable food. I am beginning to get strong again. During this time the hospital has been full of English and the poor fellows have been dying pretty frequently. I will give a list of those who have died of Malaria and yellow fever.

  • The first to die, Sept. 15, was poor old Durrent of the Suffolks. He had a bad chest and used to talk very hoarse. A Matmaker by trade. He leaves a wife and six children. He died a couple of hours after admittance to hospital.
  • Sept. 25th. The next was big Collin the fellow I fought in Kanguari over the pair of boots. He died of dysentery.
  • Oct 1st. The third was P.O. Coates of Sub. E7 died of malaria.
  • No. four was Thornbull of the R.O.S.B. He got pains or cramps in his legs on Oct 5th. It was raining hard and he could not be taken to hospital for a couple of hours during which time he was moaning continually he was dying. He got quieter when they took him to hospital but he had another attack and died a couple of hours after admission.
  • Next day Nobbs of the Manchesters died. He was a helpless kind of chap and though he came of good family (his father was a public auditor) he was the dirtiest chap in the camp. He leaves five sisters at home.
  • Next day Lewis of the Worcesters died. He had the fever for a long time but it killed him at last. He was a very nice fellow, a bit religious.
  • Oct 10th. Poor Scotty Martin of the R.O.S.B.s died on this day. He had the fever for a long time in the hut, he had to go to hospital at last and he gradually faded away.
  • Oct 17th No. eight was poor little Hooks of the Norfolks. Malaria.
  • Oct 20th. No 9 was Thompson of the Norfolks he was in hospital a long time with malaria and he died of weakness.
  • Oct 23. No 10 was our preacher Bennett of the Worcesters. He held services every Sunday since he was captured. He was in hospital several times but he was very careless about his food and could have cured himself if he had been careful. Malaria.
  • Oct 25th. No 11 was poor Keightly of the New Zealanders. He was the cleanest nicest chap in the camp. He didn't smoke or drink. Never swore. Never spoke a bad word of anyone. In fact he was nearly perfect. He was a finely built chap too. He died of yellow fever and I was very sorry for him. No more deaths up to date.

My number was taken along with others to go to Angora a few days ago. No news about going yet. Flood is keeping well. Morgan is gone to Angora.

November 6th.

I am getting on finely now. I am on "sick leave" (we get paid eight piastres a day when we are sick) (perhaps!)) on sick leave until the tenth of the month when I hope to be able to go to work. I am sorry to say we had another death yesterday, poor young Marnwaring of the Herefords. He had yellow fever. That makes the dozen in Hadjikiri. About ten or eleven kicked it in Belemedik.

The reader remembers the expeditionary party that was captured near Bagdad (13,000 Indians and English) well one of the doctors, Captain Jones of the 4th Hants Territorials attached to the 237th Indian Field Ambulance has come here. He is employed in the hospital and paid by the Company. He is a fine big man and a nice fellow too. He is very badly off for clothes and money. It is to be hoped no-one else will die now he has come.

There is no talk of us going away at all now. I hope we won't. We shall be all right here for Christmas.

We got 1 pound from the American Ambassador yesterday and we were paid some sick money today. I had eight days sick tickets last month. I have about twenty this month (choke gazelle!)

I was down on the tip where we empty waggons yesterday. I was looking for some specimens of stones to powder up and put in a glass bottle. An amusing incident happened while I was there. Eleven waggons went over the tip-side a few days ago and went to the bottom. A gang of Turks, Armenians, Greeks and Russians in the charge of an old Austrian overseer were employed in pulling up the waggon with a pulley and block. This old Austrian although he walks very straight is about eighty years of age and deaf. He was down over the tip-side by the waggon and was giving the shout to pull. Instead of "yo heave ho" the Turks say "Hep barra ba!!" (all together). The Turks were of course invisible to him on the top of the tip. He was shouting "Hep barra ba" for all he was worth when the whistle for knock off went and Turks just walked off. The Austrian was unaware of the fact and kept on shouting. One of the Russians put on his coat, said with a grin "Hep bara ba" and made off after the Turks.

Two German overseers live about fifty yards down the hill from us and they keep any amount of chickens. The hill is covered with bushes and they come up around our home every day picking up the refuse. It is the easiest thing in the world to knock one over with a stone. I caught two the other morning with a trap composed of a box, a stick and a length of string. I caught another the other morning and would you believe it, I let him go again! I took him out of the box and swung him round my head by the neck to break it. When I thought he was "bit-the" (finished) I threw him down on the ground when hang me if he didn't get up on his hind legs and hop the twig with his head screwed around from front to back.

_____________________________

This is where the diaries I have in my possession cease. There may well have been more which have been lost over the years. I have a handprinted program for a "Grand Easter Concert" produced and performed by the "POW Dramatic Society" of which Bob Long was an enthusiastic member. It is dated Saturday March 30th 1918. He was released in November 1918.

We do know that he became gravely ill. Some say it was Typhus, others say Malaria. I have always understood it to be Malaria, from the spoken history I obtained from Elizabeth Long, his wife, my Grandma. Also I have a note from the Minister of Pensions dated Sept 1924 which refers to Grandad's disability as Malarial Neuritis.

His beloved friend Valentine Flood apparently died on December 21 1916. Just one month after these diaries cease. Bob Long named his first-born child, my mother, Margaret Valentine, in honour of his friend.

I have a note from the Royal Army Medical Corps which informs Grandad of his transfer "to Class "Z" Army Reserve on demobilization with effect from 18-4-19".

Robert Long married Elizabeth Moorehead at St James's Church, Belfast, in December 1919. They were both 25.

The following May, 1920, this courageous young couple set off for a new life on the other side of the world, in New Zealand.

Robert Long died in Auckland on April 26 1961, at the age of 67 years. His health had never been good as a result of his internment and the hardships and illness he suffered. He had lived in New Zealand 41 years, had three children, 11 grandchildren.

I remember him well. I was almost 9 when he died. I remember him as gentle and patient. He played the piano accordian and the harmonica. He told funny stories. He loved to fish. He always seemed to have time for me. He encouraged me to use my imagination by looking at the clouds or staring into the flames of the fire. Sometimes he would break off in the middle of a story and get a far-away look in his eye, the only sound the ticking of his watch. I instinctively knew he had gone somewhere far away in his thoughts and was not to be disturbed...back in time... .remembering..

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A version of this article was archived in August 2016 at Perma CC https://perma.cc/34YV-5VZM


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The POW diary of Robert Long (1894-1961)


Year:1914, 1915, and 1916
Note:The transcript for this diary was given to Tauranga City Libraries during the 2015 Threads of Memory project in which Elizabeth Rust shared Robert's story.
First Names:Robert
Last Name:Long
Date of Birth:October 21 1894
Place of Birth:Tallaght near Dublin
Country of birth:Ireland
Date of death:April 26 1961
Date of sailing:May, 1920
Spouses name:Elizabeth Moorehead