General Parker and his staff came up this morning and inspected our positions. He told us we lost three aeroplanes on our raid to El Arish on Sunday, but they think they smashed up one Fokker which was on the ground outside its hangar. They saw ten hangars there altogether.
Bathed this afternoon – a rough sea. Buxton from the Essex Battery came up this evening to see our positions here and stay a day or two. Topping mail in this evening. Up in the O.Pip tonight.
From 5:30 this morning till 7:30 we were digging a signalling trench. I had a topping bathe this morning; digging again in the evening.
The horses didn’t come up from Romani this evening as now the 155th Brigade have made a strong position down there, there is no need for them to come up unless we are ordered out on mobile column.
We had a big, and I believe successful, strafe on El Arish yesterday, so we are rather expecting them to return the compliment here in a day or two.
Stood by as usual at three this morning and dismissed at four thirty. A clear morning. Church parade at our mess tent at eight o’clock.
I saw a shark this morning. The brute came right in under the breakers in about three feet of water. I thought he was only a dolphin at first. He looked about six or eight feet long.
No enemy plane came over to disturb our Sunday siesta this afternoon.
We hear the Essex and West Riding Batteries have had their draft horses taken and been given mules instead, but I believe there may be a chance of our keeping our horses after all.
Reveille at 5 am. Laying out the lines for ‘C” sub section gun again, and finishing the signal pit. Heard some fairly heavy firing this morning; it might be the monitors bombarding Jaffa or El Arish again.
Bathed this morning but the water was really too warm to be refreshing. A shark was seen very close inshore, but I didn’t see him. Badcock on the mend this evening, ought to be fit again tomorrow.
On duty in the O.Pip tonight.
Stayed at Romani all day and rested the horses. None of them seem any worse. We left Romani at 5:30 this evening and had a very hard three hours pull up to Mahamdiya. They have finished the railway up to here now, and are starting again from Romani to push on forwards to El Arish.
The horses have gone back to Romani. They’ve worked awfully well the last few days. ‘Kitty’ was full of beans too.
Intelligence report tonight rumours 10,000 Germans at Damascus, but it sounds unlikely.
They’ve just brought a force of seven thousand men from the Egyptian Labour Corps to help on the fortifications and also flood Lake Bardawil. If they manage to do that, it will make this place practically impregnable from that side.
Badcock a bit rough tonight, though he thinks only an upset inside.
Buckley left for Kantara this afternoon.
Rather a hard day today. Reveille 1:15 am, breakfast at 2 am. We moved off soon after four with ten horses in each team, and they worked splendidly and although the going was atrocious, we got to Bir El Rabah within four hours. When we got there the engineers seemed to have made no effort at all to find any water. The major found a likely looking place and made them dig, and with the help of a pump and a canvas trough within a few hours there was enough water for the horses. It was brackish but they were thirsty and most of them drank it well. The camel transport brought enough drinking water for half a gallon per man so we didn’t do so badly.
We didn’t get any food from two o’clock breakfast till after four in the afternoon, so the bully went like smoke when we got at it. Towards evening General Laurence came out and said the columns were too far forward and must move back half a mile, and then later orders came in that we were to go to Romani for the night, so it ended with the horses having another very hard three hours work over, if anything, worse going than this morning, and it was a very hot evening. The horses couldn’t have worked better and we got here soon after nine.
General Parker came out to see us this evening and told us they are going to give us mules for draft instead of horses, much better for these conditions, and I wonder they haven’t done it before, but we shall be very sad at parting with the horses we’ve had so long now and they are by no means a bad lot.
Reveille at 4:30 this morning, then digging a signalling pit from five till eight. I didn’t get a bathe in till this evening, and the water was almost too warm by then to be really nice.
Orders came in this evening that the mobile column has got to turn out at some unearthly hour tomorrow morning. We’ve got to get to Kilo 48, which is about eight miles from here near Bir El Rabah. It will be a very hard job for the horses as the going is awful, very damp sand in some places and wet salt marshes in others where it is ten to one we shall go through the top crust and get hopelessly bogged. But still, we hope for the best. I’ve got to be battery guide tomorrow for the first eight miles or so out, as I know the country pretty well now. Hope is running high that we may be going on a strafing expedition as an unofficial report came though from Port Said last night that we had landed troops at Jaffa, which is just above El Arish. Anyhow I believe we are to bivouac for the first night somewhere near Katia, and the general himself doesn’t know yet whether we shall be going on further the next day. The mobile column of the 155th Brigade at Romani is also going out, so it looks as though there may be something up.
An Anzac mounted division and the Bikaner Camel Corps are going out before dawn tomorrow to screen our advance. We are only taking three guns out tomorrow; Badcock is staying here with the other one to support the infantry if things go badly with us and the place is attacked.
Buckley of the Essex Battery came up from Kantara tonight to see the positions line.
Section gun drill this morning, followed by a bathe. A very hot day today and no sea breeze. Section gun drill this evening. I walked down by the line tonight; they are getting on at a tremendous pace and it’s all ready for laying the lines. The light railway round the coast from Port Said (32 miles) has reached here too.
The Australians got back from a reconnaissance today with two Turks. They came on a patrol of eight of them, but their trotting camels streaked away from the Anzac horses, and they only managed to wing these two.
Worrall went back to Kantara today.
Stood by at three o’clock this morning and being a clear morning I was able to dismiss the detachments at four-thirty. Improving the right section alternative gun position during the morning. I bathed later on in the morning. The water was exceptionally warm today. One of the men bathing caught a turtle, although not a very large one.
At two o’clock this afternoon General Koe and his staff, several officers of the Scottish Horse and Royal Scots, Major Jeans, Worrall, and myself went on a reconnaissance. When we got to Hill 90 we were joined by the general and staff of the 153rd Brigade at Romani, and all rode on escorted by a troop of the Glasgow Yeomanry, and also a troop of the Bikaner Camel Corps, to a small oasis called Bir El Rabah about a mile north of Katia. There it is intended for the mobile columns of the 156th and 153rd Brigades to meet if we have to move out. I think they are going to give us one practice turnout shortly to see that everything works alright.
I had my hair cut this evening and it needed it badly. The colonel and Elwiss left today. We had one of the Scottish Horse majors in to mess this evening.
Mail in tonight – had all the news from home. Jo’s division have been inspected by the King on Salisbury Plain and expect to go soon now.
A fairly quiet day. When the major was bathing this morning he saw two sharks come in within fifty yards of the shore so he made a hasty exit. They told us there were plenty of them about here – we shall be keeping our weather eyes open more now.
A Boche aeroplane appeared shortly after lunch, flying very high. He circled over us and Railhead for about half an hour, in spite of our machine guns, but he was evidently on a reconnaissance as he didn’t drop any bombs. He looked like the same one who visited us before, painted white except for the two black crosses on the lower wing. White is a very hard colour to see in this bright light.
Elwiss of the West Riding Battery and Worrall of the Essex came up this afternoon to have a look round and spend the night.
On duty in the O.Pip tonight.