Three Australian officers at Gallipoli, identified from left to right: Lieutenant Roy Kernot of the 1st Division Engineers; Lieutenant Edward Stanley Whitehead of the 3rd Field Company Engineers and Lieutenant Louis Willyama Avery (later MM) of the 1st Division Engineers. The three friends were all associated with the Silverton Tramway Company in Broken Hill and survived the war. image courtesy Australian War Memorial P00244.001
Avery, Louis Willyama – January 1918
Have started our course on Field Works. First we are instructed how to dig trenches. After what I have been through & all the trenches we have dug this id the Lizzy Dimit. But it is new to most of the class & we must take the good with the bad. Owing to the loss of many ships due to submarines, food is very scarce now. Butter is very short & even margarine. Tea & sugar is most difficult to obtain. The meat we often suspect is
very horsey. The civilians are having a very bad time. Our rations are standard & have been right from the start, being much better off than the civies. Some big, clever people are now getting it in the neck for hoarding. One Lady somebody this week was fined ?80 for hoarding tea & raisins etc.
Many of us think very strange thoughts these days & one question in my mind is not an easy one to answer. Almost every soldier in every army is not in favour of war & the public of each nation is is against it. What is it & who is it that is keeping the greater part of the world at each others throats? We are told the Germans. My opinion is that it has become an industry, a money making concern, & these people do not care how long the war lasts. That applies to all nations, enemy & allied. I do not wish to appear disloyal or unpatriotic & am proud to be here fighting for my country. I am quite content to go on doing my duty cheerfully provided we are getting somewhere & eventually bring about a permanent peace for future generations. But I doubt it. Wars sow the seeds of more wars. We see all round us bungling & things not carried out as they should be. This causes one to wonder. I am not surprised that the soldiers voted against conscription, but they voted against their own interests. We must have reinforcements & if they are not sent from Australia, it will mean cutting up one of our famous divisions to reinforce the other four. I am disgusted with all those healthy strong young men who stay at home in safety & work themselves into good jobs. The B…..should be made to enlist.
Instruction during the week was mining, knots & lashings, derricks, gibs & sheer legs. It has been a bitter cold week, the worst I have ever felt. Could never get used to this. The thermometer was away down below zero. My feet were in agony for days. Too much standing about & not enough exercise. The sea was partly frozen at Ramsgate, & the River Trent which has a flow of about 3 miles per hour was frozen at the sides.
More results are out. Defence scheme 80%, & Mining 80%. I really should have got over 90% for mining, but lost marks because I did not give the Text Book figures for mining sets in sinking a shaft. In France we use timber sets 6’-0” x 2’-0” whereas the Text Book says 4’-0” x 2’-0”. The Text Book is 1914 & out of date. All, B.E.F. & A.I.F. cadets made the same mistake. A lot of damn rot. We are taught wrong, go out to France & forget it, only to find it is different. This is the Army, the good old British Army. We are winning. We dont deserve to.
Have had a great week at the Riding School, driving pontoon wagons & tool carts. Also we cantered all over the country doing schemes, defense measures & reconnaisance. We hear all kinds of stories about the severe weather. For the first time in 20 years Loch Lomond has been partly frozen over, & the steamer ice bound. I did not feel the cold in France last Winter so much as here in England this one. In France we had our little home made firepots, & working kept you warm.
Being a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon, most unusual I went for a bicycle ride to a place called Southwell. Met a very nice girl during the afternoon, who turned out to be the Mayor’s daughter. Had tea at Southwell & met her again in the evening. She may have been trying to catch a kangaroo, but I was not going to be caught & hopped away to the safety of Kelham Hall, determined not to pay Southwell a return visit.
The past 3 days have been occupied in drill & riding exams. Today we went to the rifle range at Coddington. I made 4th top score with 73 out of 80. Today we had our musketry exam. The instructor complimented me on my firing position & steadiness. Apparently my nerves are in good form. I was not so good at revolver shooting, probably due to lack of practice, but passed comfortably.