Topic: Tauranga and Districts WW100 Diary Competition: Breana Allum

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Breana Allum's entry in the Tauranga and Districts WW100 Diary Competition (2015). Breana is from Tauranga Girls' College. She wrote her diary from the perspective of Marquette nurse Jeannie Sinclair.

Diary - Second - Breana Allum - Cover

20 October 1915

This is our third day on the Marquette. The weater is beautiful, so peaceful. It's hard to remember that for thousands of our soldiers, it's just another day of struggle. Another day of bloodshed. Another day of nighmares. Compared to the soldiers, we have it easy. Fixing the wounds, amputating and removing the bullets makes my eyes burn with tears, but I can't be weak. Not when I haven't been through half as much as them. The suns beating down on the water and Marquette's swaying in the waves. It all seems so simple out on the ocean.

21 October 1915

We are making good progress. I'm excited for the change of scenery. Alexandria will be interesting. I'm starting to get a bit seasick but I'm glad I'm surrounded by friends. Never so much have I appreciated friendship. The soldiers may have left their family but at least they are on this journey with friends. While we are fixing the soldiers they tell us stories. Only the happy ones and of course, we hear the horrific ones during their screams in the night. Apparently they exchange gifts with the enemy. I was shocked at first, but now I admire it.

22 October 1915

One of my dearest patients died this morning. I thought by now I would be used to seeing the lifeless bodies and watching as the hope fades from their eyes. And as it's slowly replaced by the agony as they realise they will never see their loved ones again. But that is war, and war has no mercy.

23 October 1915

I was on the deck when I heard it. The dull thud echoed through my whole body. There was no second guessing the danger that we were now in. The lifeboats were already over-crowded. I'd never seen such urgency. We were trying to beat death, a near impossible task. She was sinking so fast; an incredible speed. There was no way that I'd make it to a boat... so I leapt. I swam, trying to reach a boat. A hard feat as our uniform consisted of a long dress, full length apron, cape and veil. As I swam I got my first glimpse of real war.

24 October 1915

When I got to the first boat, I tried to get in. One man told me there wasn't any room, but another grabbed my arm. I focused on the Marquette so I wouldn't break down. She was almost gone, gasping her last breath before she fully submerged; the same for all my deserted friends. The most vivid thing I remember are the cries of soldiers who had survived war battles but knew death had finally caught them. My dear sisters screams, praying for another chance. And the groans of the horses, confused as to why their death was over a man-made dispute.

25 October 1915

We all sat silently mourning. Each time a vessel passed and didn't pick us up our hearts sunk. It was 1600 by the time we were picked up by a French ship. They treated us well, mending all our physical injuries, feeding us and offering comfort. Our mental and emotional wounds however were not as easily fixed. They are so deep they constantly ache and bleed.

26 October 1915

At 0400 this morning we were transferred into a British hospital ship. They haven't told us where we are heading yet, but I don't mind. As long as its far away from here. Every night the nightmares taunt me, re-enacting the day I cheated death. This experience has only made me more sympathetic towards the soldiers. Truthfully, I'm shattered. Just one war-like experience has been enough. How our soldiers cope with their trauma remains a mystery to me.

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Tauranga and Districts WW100 Diary Competition: Breana Allum