Diary

    No 326a Pte. A. E. Muston

    A. Company

    37th Battalion

    10th Brigade

    B. I. F.

    DIARY

    This diary covers the period 3rd June 1916 to 8th August 1916, the first period of Alfred’s war.

    Private Alfred Edward Muston, 326a, 3rd Australian Pioneers, died of wounds 30th September 1918, France. Buried in New British Cemetery, Tincourt, France

    Transcribed by David Murrell May 2004.


Saturday 3rd June 1915 (this should read 1916)

Last day in Seymour camp. Arose at 2 am, had breakfast at 2.30 and left for the station at 4.30. arrived at Port Melbourne Pier at 8.30 and commenced to embark on the transport “Persic” or “A34” at 11.30 and the ship moved from the pier at 12.45 amid cheers from the soldiers on board the boat and tears from the people on the pier and sailed through the heads about sunset.

 

Sunday 4th June 1916

On awakening at 6.0am found the boat being tossed about by the waves which was not very noticeable while lying in the hammocks.

We struck rough weather the first day.

I was sick all the first day.

 

Monday 5th June 1916

I feel a little better this morning.

There was still a heavy swell on the ocean.

 

Tuesday 6th June 1916

Feel quite well again this morning.

The sea was much the same as yesterday.

Had breakfast below for the first time this morning.

 

Wednesday 7th June 1916

The sea much about the same.

I was appointed one of the ships police for the duration of the voyage.

 

Thursday 8th June 1916

The sea was much calmer today. We sighted land at 4.30, and there was great excitement amongst the troops.

We pulled into Albany harbour at 9.30.

 

Friday 9th June 1916

On getting out of bed at about 5.30am, found the boat anchored and lying along side of the pier at Albany.

I was given three hours leave, and toured the township of Albany in a motor car. The troops marched into the township and were dismissed for a few hours, and then assembled and went for a route march.

Had a very good day and sailed out of the harbour at 9.30pm.

I noticed that Albany time was 1 hour 30 minutes behind Melbourne time.

 

Saturday 10th June 1916

The sea was very rough today.

The eating utensils would slide up and down the table with the rock of the boat when we were having our meals.

 

Sunday 11th June 1916

The sea was much calmer today. The boat steered north west so as to get into much calmer seas.

Had Church at 2.30.

Two flying fish were seen close to the boat and a whale was seen in the distance.

 

Monday 12th June 1916

The sea very calm today hardly any roll in the boat.

Started sport on board such as ‘Boxing’ and ‘Tug’o’war’ etc.

 

Wednesday 14th June 1916

It is reported that meningitis broke out on the boat therefore we had to have our throats sprayed.

 

Thursday 15th June 1916

Sports postponed indefinitely on account of the meningitis. Started having my throat sprayed twice daily.

Commenced printing a paper on board.

 

Friday 16th June 1916

The sea very calm today just like a lake hardly a ripple.

Washing day again today.

 

Saturday 17th June 1916

I saw the spray from whales several times today but never saw the animals as they were too far away. A storm came on this evening. Was vaccinated today.

 

Sunday 18th June 1916

The  weather very stormy today. A shark was seen about a mile away from the boat.

Went to Church parade at 2.30.

 

Monday 19th June 1916

Rather a heavy swell on the sea today.

I resigned my position as policeman.

Had a bath parade.

 

Tuesday 20th June 1916

Sea calm again. Did some washing.

Wednesday 21st June 1916

Resumed sports today. A few of the competitions were run off.

The port holes were closed off tonight, and black smoke has been coming out of the funnel for a couple of hours.

 

Thursday 22nd June 1916

Commenced sailing without lights tonight.

Resumed duties as ships police.

Six cases of measles broke out in B company’s deck.

Beginning to feel the effects of vaccination..

 

Friday 23rd June 1916

Still a bit sick with the vaccination.

The boat commenced sailing southward along the east coast of Africa, 100 miles from the coast.

 

Saturday 24th June 1916

Still a bit sick with the vaccination but much better than the day before.

 

Sunday 25th June 1916

I feel quite well again this morning.

Had Church services at 2.30 and 7pm.

 

Monday 26th June 1916

Saw for the first time on the voyage some ships, we passed four ships altogether.

Caught sight of land about 4.30pm but in a quarter of an hours time it could not be seen for mist.

At about 8pm a light could be seen through the mist on the starboard side and it was said to be at Cape Saint Francis.

 

Tuesday 27th June 1916

The sea very rough and choppy. I am told it is the usual kind of weather about the cape.

It commenced to rain at 9am and rained all day.

Passed a sailing vessel at 8 o’clock this morning.

 

Wednesday 28th June 1916

We arrived at Cape Town at day break but had to wait out in the harbour until a M.O. came aboard and examined the ship on account of the meningitis and the measles.

We pulled alongside of the wharf at 10 o’clock and were quarantined.

We were taken for a short march after dinner but were not allowed any leave.

 

Thursday 29th June 1916

We went for a route march commencing at 8.30am. we marched through the city of Cape Town and up to the other side of the city towards the gardens and the zoo and the Rhodes memorial.

I saw some Buffalos and Deer and a lot of other animals I did not know the name of. Also saw millions of black kiddies.

We halted at 12 o’clock and had lunch and a spell and then commenced for home about 3 o’clock.

I saw some lovely scenery and reached home at 5.30.

Ever since we left Melbourne I have had to put my watch back 22 minutes every night at midnight but the night before we reached Cape Town the clock was put on 40 minutes. According to my watch Cape Town os about 7 & 40/60 hours behind Melbourne time.

 

Friday 30th June 1916

We went for a short march to a recreation ground about two miles away and had some games etc and a spell for about three hours and then marched home, arriving at one o’clock and sailed out from the pier at five minutes to find two meningitis patients taken off and put in the hospital.

A 4.7inch gun and three naval men were taken on at C. Town.

 

Saturday 1st July 1916

The clock was put back an hour at midnight last night.

We had a fine day for a start around the cape.

 

Sunday 2nd July 1916

Several men were picked out as a firing party to go on guard at the gun in case of seeing a submarine or some dangerous vessels.

 

Tuesday 4th July 1916

Having lovely weather.

Covers were put over the deck to keep out the heat.

No smoking is allowed after 6pm.

 

Wednesday 5th July

50 men from each company were picked out for submarine guard on the forecastle and poop decks.

Boxing resumed. Darkie Moles outclassed his man.

The boat stopped for an hour while a chap was operated on for appendicitis.

Thursday 6th July

The first death at sea. A man belonging to the A.S.C. died of meningitis and was buried this morning at 10.30

 

Friday 7th July 1916

We passed two vessels this morning. One I am told was a troop ship on its way to Australia with wounded soldiers. It passed us about five miles, and the other was a light cruiser the H.M.S. Kent which passed us about a mile off.

 

Sunday 9th July 1916

We crossed the line today at five minutes to eleven and the weather is very hot.

 

Monday 10th July

We passed two ships today. One passed on the port side over on the horizon and the other on the starboard side about 1 ½ miles away.

 

Tuesday 11th July 1916

It commenced to rain this morning about 2 o’clock and all the sleepers on the deck had to go below and it rained all day. I noticed that we have lost sight of the southern cross.

 

Wednesday 12th July

We passed a sailing vessel a long way off.

The second round of boxing was run today. Darkie Moles knocked his man out in about 10 seconds.

 

Friday 14th July 1916

We passed several islands this morning. Known as the Cape Verdi Islands and we passed more tonight around 7 o’clock.

 

Saturday 15th July ’16

We arrived into St Vincent Port at daybreak this morning.

There were three cruisers lying in the port and several interned German boats.

We didn’t go into the pier. They flew the yellow flag. Some sand was brought aboard.

 

Sunday 16th July 1916

We left St Vincent’s at 11 o’clock this morning.

A search light was put on us from another ship and they were signalling to us.

 

Monday 17th July 1916

They commenced putting the clock on. It was put on twenty minutes last night.

 

Tuesday 18th July 1916

We passed a small sailing vessel this evening.

Darkie Moles again knocked his man out in the first round.

 

Wednesday 19th July 1916

The final of the sport today.

Darkie Moles won the middle weight boxing, knocking his man out again in the first round.

 

Thursday 20th July ’16

We had a false fire alarm today, nearly all went white with fright.

 

Friday 21st July ’16

We passed several ships this morning. Commenced wearing life belts all the time. We overhauled our equipment kit bags.

 

Saturday 22nd July 1916

A boxing contest was fought today for a purse of 130 pounds between Moles and Wicks from 22ASC. Wicks won on a foul.

 

Tuesday 25th July 1916

We arrived at Devonport at noon and went ashore in light steamers and took the train to Salisbury and marched out to Salisbury Plain Camp, arriving at the camp at 12.30 at night, and we walked round and round looking for beds and it was 3 o’clock next morning before we got to bed.

 

Wednesday 26th July 1916

We didn’t do any drill today as we had to fix up the place for ourselves but are due to start tomorrow.

 

Thursday 27th July 1916

Not feeling too well with influenza. I went to the Doctor and got some medicine.

 

Friday 4th August 1916

I went to London this evening for four days leave and arrived at Waterloo Station at midnight. I stayed at the Y.M.C.A. in Aldwich.

 

Saturday 5th August 1916

I went to see the Parliament, The House of Lords and Commons. I saw that many things in there that I forgot half of what I did see. I saw the Kings robing chamber, and the members and press seats, and the Kings Chair. There are thousands of pictures there, and there are two, one of the “Battle of Trafalgar” and the other “The Battle of Waterloo” and they both are 45 feet long. I went through Westminster Abbey, and went through the Royal Chambers, and saw the Thrones and Coronation Chair and saw where all the Poets, Authors and Statesmen were buried and the place where the King sits when he goes there to Church.

All the important monuments are covered with sand bags in case a Zepp drops bombs on the Cathedral.

I went through the Tower of London, there are three Towers, the “Bloody”, “White” and “Beauchamps” Tower and saw all Crown Jewels and all the old historical things back as far as 700 years. I saw the cloth the General Wolfe was wrapped in when he was shot. I saw the gun carriage that King Edward the VIIs body was carried on to his grave, and all the old armour and the horse Armouries that were worn in King Henry VIII. I went to see a mine laying submarine UC5 of the Germans that was captured by the British also the type of mines it was laying.

 

Sunday 6th August 1916

I went down petticoat lane this morning, it is a sight worth seeing of a Sunday morning. All the Jews are out in the street with stalls and you can buy any thing you like to mention. I went to Hyde Park and it is over a mile and a half (long) and over a mile wide.

I went to Rotten Row the other morning. That is the place where all the heads come and scratch themselves about 9.30.

I went to Service at St. Pauls.

 

Monday 7th August 1916

I went to Trafalgar Square and to Piccadilly and Liester Square, and I went on the Underground or tube railway.

I saw The Old Curiosity Shop immortalised by Charles Dickens and his old pump.

I saw the house in which Dr. Johnson the author lived. I went to see the Guard Change at Buckingham Palace.

 

Tuesday 8th July 1916

I went through St Paul’s Cathedral, it is the largest church in the world and has all the monuments of the notable men that were buried there. I visited the Crystal Gallery and saw, and saw the monument of Lord Robert Duke of Wellington and Lord Nelson and the Funeral Car upon which the Duke of Wellington’s body was borne on. I went into the Gallery Library and saw books and Bibles that were written in the Monks time and saw pre historic stones.

I went into the Whispering Gallery, this is up in the Dome of the building. The attendant puts his head against the wall and talks very softly and it can be heard all over the gallery. We then went up and walked around the outside of the dome and could see all over London. We had to climb up 627 steps to get to the top. In the Whispering Gallery the Dome is 112 feet across and 100 feet high from where the people sit in the Cathedral.

There is an old organ there still being used and it has 112 stops and five rows of keys and is 500 years old.

 

The diary ends here.