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 – October 1916
Caught the train for Dumfries to stay with Aunt Amelia Bowie.
Was informed that I was on draft to proceed to France in a few days. Now it has come at last, Hurrah & 3 big cheers. Look out Kaiser Bill, Louis Bill from Broken Hill is after you. …
Hayling Is. Musketry results in Southern Command Orders dated 2nd October. I gained a First Class Pass as a Musketry Instructor & can now wear the crossed rifles. …
Arrived at Folkestone at 7 a.m. & embarked on the troopship Queen an hour later. Sailed for France at 10. a.m. arriving at Boulogne 11.30 a.m. Marched to a camp 2 miles away. Not impressed. Detailed for picket duty straight away.
Up at 5.30 a.m.& entrained for the Advanced Base at Etaples. This is a tremendous camp near the coast. We travelled in vans each holding 40 men. Arrived at Came we were issued with the latest pattern rifle.
Reveille 6 a.m. & inspected by the Camp Commandant. 11 a.m. Stripped for medical examination. Passed as fit. 10 mile route march in the afternoon.
Issued with gas respirators & smoke helmets…
Had a lecture on poison gas, tear gas & liquid fire. With respirators on we entered a poison gas chamber to give us confidence. It was a peculiar experience. Were then exposed to tear gas. It hurt the eyes & made them cry. Smells like pineapple. Instructed in use of Mills hand grenades. Finished up with a lecture on women & how to avoid them. Good advice if carried out.
Helped with the Referendum on Conscription. … Have been classified efficient & am now ready to go up to the line. Where?
Corporal of Guard. 12 men in custody. At 5.15 p.m. provided an escort of 3 men to take 5 prisoners to the latrine. Posted one at each entrance. Only 4 remained. One escaped by means of the flap door at the rear of his cubicle. Our search was without result. I reported at once to the adjutant & was informed that this man was a notoriously bad character. Was allowed to complete my duty until relieved.
Ordered to report at 9.30 a.m. to orderly room to attend an enquiry. The C.O. did not do so but ordered the R.S.M. to make out a crime sheet & sent me into the clink that I was responsible for the previous day. This proved to be the most humiliating day of my life. Imagine my thoughts & feelings. At 7 p.m. the R.S.M. took me to the adjutant. He was very decent & sympathetic, & released me from the compound, but am placed under close arrest in my own tent under another Corporal.
At 3 p.m. I was taken to the Engineers Orderly Room & tried on a charge of allowing a prisoner to escape. The evidence was poor & my defence & criticism to the point. He remanded me to the Camp Commandant. Now under open arrest, & have to report every 2 hours.
At 9.30 was taken to the Camp Orderly Room with a Corporal escort. The C.O. having heard the evidence of witnesses, heard my statement in defence. I said very little, only relating exactly what happened, but criticised the practice of mixing prisoners with other men at the latrines, pointing out that a special one for prisoners be provided. The C.O. was impressed with my straight forward statement & after visiting the scene, agreed with me. I was admonished, but not reprimanded, no entry in pay book & marched out a free man. My clean pay book & Anzac Service were in my favour & I was very lucky. It was a serious charge.
Sick of this damned camp. Rain never seems to stop.