10 June 1916

Battery gun drill this morning. Bathed about midday. The colonel arrived for lunch; he has come up from Kantara for a day or two.
Practicing for night firing this evening with lamp signalling.
Got a little news today: the Russians seem to be giving the Austrians a bit of a dressing down in the Pripet Marshes.
A small mail in tonight – heard from Bill Broadhurst.
The intelligence report tonight says the Turks at El Arish have been further reinforced by two ‘taburs’ (about 2000) of Afghan troops. I wonder who they will get for us next?

9 June 1916

I warned the gun detachments to stand to at three o’clock this morning. We had to keep standing by until six as there was a very heavy mist, just the morning for an attack, but all was quiet.
Battery gun drill this morning. Bathed about midday.
At 2:30 pm the major, Elliott, Franklyn, and myself rode out on a reconnaissance. We went on practically the same ground as the day before yesterday, and a mile or two further on. The Glasgow Yeomanry provided us with an escort.
We saw a jackal jump out of a patch of scrub about fifty yards ahead of us and we galloped him for two or three hundred yards, but we couldn’t get a shot in, and he went like a flash of lightening straight towards Katia. On the way back we started a fox out of some scrub, but didn’t have a hunt. We came back along the shore, and it was alive with crabs, literally thousands; a sort of land crab that live in holes in the sand. They have very long legs and eyes that stick up like periscopes, and they run like blazes as soon as they see you coming, either into their holes or into the sea.
A very interesting intelligence report tonight, I think we shall have plenty to do shortly. The Admiralty have confirmed the report about Kitchener, it is a great blow.

8 June 1916

Nothing much doing today except odd jobs. Our report about the Russians getting hold of thirty thousand Turks is all a myth – it sounded to good to be true. Another rumour in tonight says that the ‘Hampshire’ has been sunk with Kitchener on board, who was on his way to Russia. We are still in hopes it is only an empty rumour.
The intelligence bulletin in tonight was very full of information. The Turks apparently intend to attack us after Ramadan (some sort of religious feast or fast) which takes place in few days time. The sooner they do attack the better for them as the place is getting stronger every day with wire and trenches.
On duty in the O.Pip tonight.

7 June 1916

At work at the guns this morning; bathed about midday. At two thirty General Koe, the brigade major, and Major Jeans, Franklyn, and myself, rode out on a reconnaissance. We were escorted by a troop of the Glasgow Yeomanry. We were reconnoitring the ground for the flying column; I only hope we get the chance of being able to use one. We rode about five miles due East of this position, a great deal of it through big dry gypsum lakes, then we turned and went into Bir Abu Haura from the northeast and then back here by way of Blair’s Post.
This morning a large flock of fifty goats was captured by a yeomanry patrol on the shore about half a mile in front of our entanglements, but they could find no sign of anyone with them. They brought the flock in, and the general thinks it is the forerunner of the Turks’ attack, as they send on large flocks for supplies under the care of would-be shepherds who are really spies, having the excuse that they are shepherds if they are found. I only wish the patrol had got hold of those with this flock; they are probably back in El Arish with a good deal too much information about our position.
A very cheering official report has come in tonight, if it is true, that the Russians have captured thirty thousand Turks and are within six miles of Baghdad.

6 June 1916

A very strong wind got up during the night, which of course brought on a sandstorm. I was sleeping just outside the dugout and got nearly buried alive. I stood by at three am and dismissed the detachments about five. When I got back to camp, I found several tents flattened out, including my own, and the contents buried in sand.
Working out ranges and switches on the right section most of the morning. Bathed about midday. It was about the roughest sea we’ve had here so far; really big waves that knocked us flat.
Began digging an alternative O.Pip for the left section this evening. An interesting intelligence bulletin in this evening which contained a report by one of our agents who has just been to El Arish. He said he heard it said there that the Turks mean to attack us on or about the sixth of June, with a large force including six hundred Germans. Being June 6th this evening we may expect some liveliness. The report also said that the Turks expect a big force of Bulgarians to join them at El Arish shortly. They seem to be getting a very motley crowd together.

5 June 1916

The colonel and about six others of the 2nd Scottish Horse, with Major Daniell, Major Jeans, and myself, started off soon after five this morning on a reconnaissance for the mobile column we shall form if the chance comes when the Turks come along. We had a troop of the Glasgow Yeomanry as escort, but didn’t see anything.
We went to reconnoitre the ground from Blair’s Post towards Katia. We found the going over Saklet El Romani very treacherous and boggy, in some places the horses went in right up to their bellies, certainly not suitable for guns, but we found a very good camel track round the edge. We went on though Hod El Sofiyia and Ghazlan, till we came to Bir Abu Haura, just a date palm grove, with a brackish well and a good many Bedouin huts made of palm branches and scrub. There were no Bedouins there, most of the are fighting with the Turks. The date palms were covered with big clusters of dates, but they were very small and green. They aren’t ripe here till September I believe.
We went on beyond Bir Abu Haura to the top of a small rise from which we had a good view of the Katia oasis, but we didn’t go down into it as it isn’t a very healthy spot just at present as all the horses of the Worcester and Gloucester Yeomanry killed on Easter Sunday are still above ground.
We came back by the Romani wells and past Railhead and followed the line to Mahamdiya. They are getting on a tremendous pace with it and it won’t be many more days before it reaches us here. The one that is being run out along the coast from Port Said is also coming along very quickly and is only about five miles off now.
Bathed this afternoon. Quite a rough sea. Digging on the gun emplacement this evening. We haven’t heard anything official about the naval fight in the North Sea yet, but there are a lot of rumours going round.
Mail this evening. Some topping snapshots from home of the horses.
I am on duty at the O.Pip tonight.

4 June 1916

Service in our mess tent this morning. I think we are the only Church of England unit in the 156th Brigade. I spent nearly all the rest of the morning bathing and basking. A very quiet day.
Poulteney arrived here this morning with fifteen men from the Ammunition Column to take over the ammunition dump here.
An official report in tonight that there has been a big naval action in the North Sea and that each side has lost fifteen ships.

3 June 1916

Stood by before dawn and dismissed about five o’clock. After breakfast, I was very busy putting some 2 hundred rounds of ammunition, which came last night, into the gun limbers and 1st line wagons, which we had empted into the ammunition dugouts at the gun emplacements.
Bathed about midday – quite rough this morning, so had good fun with the breakers.
Finding mangos with the one man range finder most of the evening.
Intelligence bulletin tonight reports Turkish, German, and Austrian troops concentrating at El Arish. The 155th Infantry Brigade began arriving at Romani tonight, I think they mean to have one or two divisions out here eventually.

2 June 1916

Improving the emplacements in the morning. Major Daniell O.P. Essex RHA came this afternoon for a three day stay.
An interesting intelligence report in this evening: a Turkish and a German general are reported to have arrived at El Arish.
On duty at the O.Pip this evening.

1 June 1916

Although I forgot to say ‘rabbits’ we had a surprise packet quite early in the day. About seven o’clock this morning the machine guns down at Railhead began blazing away and the next thing we heard was bombs dropping. We soon made out an aeroplane, which by her cut was clearly a Boche, making straight for our camp flying at a great height. She came straight over our mess tent and then shut her engines. We could clearly see the black crosses painted on her wings. By a great stroke of luck she had tossed off all her bombs at Railhead so had none left for us, though when she shut off her engines we thought something was coming. Our machine guns at once opened fire, but they might just as well have been shooting at the moon. She cleared off after having a look round, I only hope she didn’t spot the guns, they are well concealed.
Busy digging again this morning, a lovely bathe about midday, and digging again this evening. Kenning came up with the news from Railhead this evening. The plane devoted all its attention to the camp of the Australian Light Horse and dropped six very heavy bombs, killed an officer and nine men, wounded a great many more, and killed 40 horses and a few camels. Most of the Anzacs managed to cut their horses loose, and at the first bout there was a wild stampede, horses and camels running neck and neck in all directions, all thoughts of shying gone to the winds.
The Anzac reconnaissance report tonight says that the Germans have brought five more aeroplanes from Beersheba to El Arish, so they evidently mean to have a strafe here.