||James Herbert Yelverton Hughes's small red leather covered WW1 diary, from Saturday 17 April 1915 to 29 December 1915, with various notes and addresses as well as diary entries.
Transcription of diary made by Jillian Johnson [MHS office assistant] August 2014. Some changes to transcription made by Registrar, Jenny Pierson:
Forward this book to following address:
Mrs James Hughes
(J H Y) Bert Hughes
Pte. J. H. Y. Hughes
Saturday 17/4/15 [17 April 1915]
Left Trentham, camp & embarked, up early.
Route march through Wgtn a time to be remembered. Great send off from wharf, anchored in stream & sailed about 10pm.
Beautiful morning, calm sea, Egmont showing up well off Nelson about 9 o'clock.
2pm breeze stiffening sea rising, Knight Templar astern.
Waitomo out of sight, westerly course.
Meals good but men rather noisy.
Nothing eventful, nice day bit of a swell on; first day fully out of sight of land in my life.
Grand to watch limitless expanse of ocean, ship forms centre of circle as you can see same distance all round.
Several birds about, of which I have not yet determined the names.
Same as yesterday.
Landed 4 or 5 sick men at Hobart in the early hours of the morning, afterwards sailing round west coast of Tasmania; very good scenery, rough coastline & back country mountainous & bush clad, several large bays, about 10 o'clock rain obscuring coastline somewhat. The weather as yet no warmer than N.Z.
Several isolated rocks off Tasmanian west coast, must make navigation by night dangerous. Large numbers of porpoises.
In Australian light, coldest day since leaving N.Z. S.W. wind.
Arrived in Abany, went into inner harbour at daylight, very pretty place, town faces harbour in low saddle between two hills. About 6 mile route march before dinner, 3 hours leave afternoon, very warm.
Many houses surrounded by dwarf gums on outskirts of town.
Ground pumicy with many big granity looking stones sticking up here and there.
Lots of good extensive vegetable gardens, principally Chinese market gardens I think, watered by artesian flows apparently.
Left Abany about 11am; nice morning but becoming very cloudy this afternoon, moving round coast, all three transports together.
Third Sunday at sea. Church in forrard mess room, conducted by Robt Neville, master, a hardy old Scotch seaman, about 60 yrs of age, one of the old school. A thorough beleiver, fluent & simple speaker, medium height, strongly built, rugged, strong face altogether a man worthy of notice; to add impressiveness to the skippers words the portholes were often buried in the sea. Boat stations with lifebelts on. Cloudy with light drizzle at times.
Thick weather, muggy, drizzling. Saw some porpoises yesterday, didn't know they appeared so far from land.
Not so many birds following as there were between New Zealand and Albany.
13 men discharged at Albany, medically unfit, 7 missed the boat.
Beautiful day, calm sea, beginning to feel the heat. Since leaving Albany the sky has been overcast with a Southerly wind blowing in which we are lucky as it has kept the air cooler.
The ocean is beautiful today; this Indian Ocean is much bluer than the Pacific, between N.Z. and Albany & seems to get bluer every day.
Somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, about 9 days out from Albany. N.W. by W., can't be very far off the equator.
On guard to day, came on to rain heavily about dinner time, very warm. 4 or five whales passed close to us but didn't show much of themselves, they were between us & number 2 3.
The sun has just set, or rather dipped into the sea, the first time I have actually seen it set in this way as the clouds have always hidden it low down on the horizon before; I daresay Lady Beassey would write a beautiful description of the sunset as it was rather a good one, but I have seen many prettier ones in New Zealand; it has been a rare day all through; we have been 3 weeks at sea & the sea is smoother by far than it has yet been, almost like glass except for the smooth undulations of a light swell. The sunset has turned into a really beautiful one, in fact the whole picture as seen from this ship's rail deserves that adjective; the glorious expanse of smooth softly undulating ocean, the sunset in one direction, one of our fellow transports in the other, nearly a mile on the port quarter her foremast light showing, thick black smoke pouring from her funnel & a morse lamp dot dashing a signal to this boat the twilight is so short here that while writing this it has grown dark enough for a signal lamp to show up quite brightly.
Re fish seen today, flying fish in all directions, in all sizes, in all lengths of flight, small ones rising up in shoals making flights like so many locusts, others like flocks of sparrows only lighter coloured (they generally appear white when on the wing) & thinner bodies, some generally larger in ones or twos rising out of the water taking a straighter stronger flight, last but not least, half a mile distant a thousand quail size in one flock their wings showing white against the glorious blue of the Indian Ocean, a pretty picture.
Been out round the deck, leant over rail first, reflecting, been a day that one would like to have shared with a loved one, remarkable how one can feel so near to those they love though thousands of miles separate.
Strolled on, men everywhere, bare headed, barefooted, some barewaisted, some in shadows, some under electric lights reading, smoking, playing cards, singing, evensong port deck, lots talking, talk everywhere, bable of voices, Scotch accent, Irish, English dialects, all happy.
I believe we cross the line on Tuesday; very hot today but cool pleasant evening on deck.
Crossed the line yesterday, had the usual ceremonies, good fun at first but soon got monotonous. The days are getting hotter all the time.
Wednesday 19th May
In the Gulf of Aden.
The hottest day we have had yet, & scarcely any wind, sea quite calm.
Land on the port side up till about midday.
Lots of fish of different kinds, flying fish, dolphins & what looked like porpoises.
Lots of dead locusts in the sea & a few live ones flying about, very pretty, bright yellow bodies & transparent spotted wings.
Had only seen one boat up till to day when we saw about a dozen, some of them were some sort of warship, others cargo, steamers & two small sailing boats, skows or something of that description. Had a half day off to witness final of boxing tournament.
Have heard since that it is mostly condensed from sea water. Can't vouch for the truth of the statement, but it is quite probable.
Made Aden about one o'clock, stayed 2 or three hours lying a mile or so off shore.
"Bare, burnt, barren" Aden suits it well; the place is absolutely bare rocky hills, some of them 6 or 700 ft high. I suppose the place has a water supply, it would be interesting to know in what way the water is obtained.
Saw some darkies in a boat, never seen anything like their sunbaked mahogany hides before; they wore turbans & were Arabs I should think, strong, muscular & lithe.
Six months of Aden would break a N.Z. bushman's heart.
Heard the news of the disaster to Colonial troops at Aden but no authentic particulars.
In the Red Sea, passing many islands some of them fair size & showing a bit of grass. Birds are plentiful.
Since getting near Aden we have made up for lost time in seeing shipping, there have been boats in sight nearly all the time, sometimes three or four at once.
A word about the food on the voyage.
Breakfast, generally mighty indifferent stew, sometimes chops, steak. Sunday mornings sausages. Tea to drink.
Dinner - meat & potatoes, duff twice a week, tea or lime juice & water.
Tea - bread, cheese & jam,
sometimes cold meat until getting into warmer climate, since when we never get meat at this meal, but generally have dried fruits with or without rice; quinces, figs, apricots etc.
The meat of course is all frozen, some of it is firstclass but other carcases are very strong, have seen some of it thrown overboard; the fat seems to get tough in the freezing.
The potatoes are just tumbled in, boiled anyhow, without being peeled or the rotten pieces cut out.
We sometimes get peas, beans, swedes & pumpkin twice I think.
The tea & coffee is mostly vile.
Many of the islands passed today have lighthouses on them, they must be near the middle of the Red Sea, the last one we passed was the most interesting, there was a small steamer lying off this island, evidently a provision boat, as a gang of men could be seen carrying cases up the hillside to the lighthouse.
Sea birds were about the island in hundreds, it was just before sunset so I suppose the birds were congregating for the night, the officers were making targets of them with their revolvers. I don't know if they killed any but one was wounded, cruel sport shooting at pretty, harmless birds.
See plenty of ships here, one passed close to us at dinner time, saw it through the port holes, she was painted in broad lines of red, white and blue on the hull, her name & port, Tambora, Rotterdam in large white letters nearly reach from stem to stern, she was a very fast boat.
Landed at Suez & on to Zeitain camp by rail, arrived there 2.30am Wednesday. The heat here was awful, about 110° in the shade, no good for N.Z.'ers, lots got a touch of sand colic or dysentery, & the food wasn't very good.
Left on Sunday morning for Alexandria. The railway journey is very interesting & pretty.
Every inch of the country as far as the eye can see on both sides is cultivated. Most of the crops are in small plots, from a few yards square to a few acres. There are no fences. The methods of working the ground are very primitive as are all other methods.
Donkeys, mules & camels & oxen are used for all means of draught & transport; the donkeys & mules are very small but pull loads as big as a good sized horse would.
The natives go jogging along on little donkeys, many of them with sunshades up; it looks very quaint; the steering is done with a short stick, one seldom sees a bridle on them.
We left Alexandria the same evening as we got here, on the S.S. Minnetonka, a big boat. It took us about two days to reach this island.
It is very pretty here, the island is covered with grass; the inhabitants seem to live here & there in small villages & not one on each farm as in New Zealand. The harbour here is a splendid one; there must be quite a 100 vessels in it of one sort & another, tugs, transports, mine sweepers & all sorts of ships of war, including hospital ships. There were a tremendous lot of ships in the harbour at Alexandria too.
We may leave for the Dardanelles tonight, out engineers went last night.
I haven't seen anyone to enquire about the Nelson boys of former contingents.
The New Zealanders have made a wonderful name for themselves but they have lost severely, though a great many of the casualties may only be slight wounds.
We have lain aboard ship since coming here, out in the harbour; the weather is like N.Z. summer. Everybody is in splendid spirits; things are not felt here the same as at home.
Groups are constantly coming and going here.
Saturday June 5th
We are still at anchor in the harbour, at the island of Lemnos.
We are right alongside a ship which is being used as a hospital, she has been receiving wounded all day, only minor cases though I think, those that can move themselves about a little. They have their heads, arms, legs & bodies bandaged up & have come straight from the trenches, dust & blood being all over their clothes, faces & hands; most of them look quite cheerful & all seem quite ready to talk.
There has been heavy fighting in the Dardanelles, their is a certain hill which has to be taken & it is a pretty hard nut to crack, but I believe our troops are making progress all the time. I don't know when we are to be packed off but are expecting it any time.
Shifted to the New Zealanders lines in the Dardanelles.
Right in amongst it. Heard of Bobs fate. He was killed in a charge in open country about 7 or 8 miles from here. I was speaking to his section leader who said it was a mad affair, as they had a murderous fire against them & no cover. Bob was shot dead, one of the first to fall; he is buried near the sea.
Willie Dalton has also gone, he was shot while sharpshooting.
I don't know when we go into the firing line things are fairly quiet here as they are just holding the position now, awaiting events. There are a good many casualties every day, mostly from snipers bullets which fly around pretty freely, & some in the front trenches from hand bombs, the trenches in some places almost touch those of the enemies.
We are situated in a rough scrub covered gully, living in little dug out places in the hill side; these afford shelter from bursting schrapnel which flies over there pretty freely at times.
The whole place is a mass of dug outs & saps or communication trenches, it is not safe to travel in some places, except in the shelter of these trenches.
This is a horrible life, I don't know how some of the men who have been here six or seven weeks keep up so well, most of them are fairly cheerful through it all, there is a certain amount of fire going on night & day, but one soon gets used to it, we all went to sleep last night while there was rifle & big gun fire going on, but we hadn't had any sleep the night before.
A flying machine went over us yesterday evening. I think it was a British one reconnoitring the Turkish positions, it was very high up.
There are a lot of wild flowers here & a good many birds.
The weather still keeps fine which is a mercy as we have no protection from rain.
There are a good many of Bobs mates here, Joe Simpson, 2 Simpson's from the Sounds, Bob Grace, Len Simonsen & men from the Golden bar and others, they all speak of him with affection, as his brother I get a welcome from them all.
Bob fell with a pick, (for entrenching) in one hand & his rifle in the other, he was shot in the two most vital places; death was instantaneous.
I was up in the firing line on fatigue duty to day carrying dirt from the sappers, things were fairly quiet then but there was a great rifle & bomb fire in the night.
We get pretty well fed, biscuits, beef in tins, sometimes fresh onions, cheese & jam & bacon nearly every day. Most of the rations are issued raw; we cook them in little tins which is part of the equipment of every man.
Sunday 13th June
Sundays are the same as any other day here.
We were up at Quinn's post on fatigue for 4 hours this morning.
Affairs are pretty quiet just now, except for a bit of bombarding, but of course one never knows what is going to happen.
Our casualties have been pretty light lately, but there have been no attacks on either side.
The enemy throw a good many schrapnel shells over us but they don't do much harm, nobody takes much notice of them.
Two warships & our own artillery sent a good many shells at the Turks this morning, I don't know with what effect.
While we were at Quin's post a flying machine went over the enemy, they opened up a great rifle fire at it but did no harm. I expect our company will be going into the firing line again in a few days, we go to Quin's post I believe about the worst place on the line, the Turkish trenches being close enough for them to throw bombs into ours.
The weather is lovely.
There are a few snakes about here, harmless ones.
I have seen some singers or cicadas here almost the same as in N.Z.
The best sight I have ever seen of its kind was an aeroplane this evening that flew over us and dropped three big bombs amongst the Turks, circled round, returned & fire shots at them from a quickfirer. The Turks fired schrapnel shells at it, only one went close, the rest burst at some distance, they also opened a most futile rifle fire but soon desisted & I expect took all the cover they could.
One could not but feel great admiration for a man who has nerve for such an undertaking.
Four hours in the trenches this afternoon, sappers fatigue, plenty of bullets, bombs & shells flying overhead, enough to make one think of what a pitched battle would be like. It is fatal to put ones head above the parapet even for a few seconds there, a sniper would have you for sure, observations are made with a periscope & shots fired with periscopic rifles.
The roll & boom of big guns firing can be constantly heard down the coast, it is the battleships bombarding the big hill where the strong forts are.
A defective shell from one of our own guns, wounded two of our men this morning, but not very badly, one Frank Barry who used to drive Prices cart, had four or five teeth knocked out with a schrapnel bullet.
There is a flying machine very busy round here this morning, mostly over the harbour, probably looking for enemy submarines.
A shell landed on the hospital at the beach yesterday, I think it injured a few; there are one or two killed there nearly every day.
There are two flying machines about now, they make a loud humming noise when travelling, more like a threshing mill than anything else.
Monday 21st June
The Canterbury batt went into the firing line on Thursday morning for another turn there; our position, 12th Nelson Coy, is resting today, we have 24 hrs in the trenches & the same out. 2 companies of the battalion man the posts while the other two rest.
Affairs have been pretty quiet since we have been there. Last night our side sent shells bombs & rifle fire at the Turks with the object of drawing their fire to get some idea of their strength, but the ruse was not successful.
At one time the Turks used to blaze away all night without any coaxing, but not so now, I don't know for what reason.
There are still a few casualties every day & night, mostly men wounded by bombs.
Mac Twidle, who was on a machine gun, was shot through the chest & killed almost instantaneously, a few mornings ago, he had had a lot of narrow escapes without being hurt before. One never knows when their turn will come here.
Our front trenches are pretty safe now, they are nearly all bomb proof, the engineers are always improving them.
The engineers & sappers do a lot of hard, dangerous work here without coming into the limelight much, but their efforts are appreciated by those that know.
One of the greatest pests here is the house fly, they are in millions, one cannot get any peace from them in the day time.
Every one here gets lousy.
There is a lot of bowel trouble, from diahorrea to dysentery & inflammation of the stomach.
The roll & thunder of big guns still goes on almost incessantly down the coast there ought to be some definite result soon.
Thursday 24th June
In the trenches very quiet morning, nothing but an occasional thud of a bullet on the sand bags to be heard, one would hardly think there was war within miles, yet within a few minutes there might be shells & bombs going in all directions.
Yesterday, which was our day off, the Turks sent a lot of schrapnel about, landing a good deal near us in the evening but not doing any harm there.
During the day they killed & injured some on the beach.
This so called soldiers life is great, quite half our time is put in navvieing road making etc.
We had 8 days in the trenches then came out for a rest, which consists of turning out at any hour of the day & night for road making. Work goes on day & night here, in shifts, it is nice & moonlight just now.
The Turks have been pretty busy the last day or two with their shells, putting them over & rounds us; one killed ten on the beach last night.
There is a great assembly of various craft down the coast a little way & for the last hour there has been a constant bombardment going on, I don't know how long it will last; it is time some decisive movement was made here.
The weather still is good, rather hot in the daytime, one cant rest then for heat & flies, so want of sleep is about our chief trouble it is very rare to get an unbroken nights rest, but even that trouble is not very acute.
Thursday July 1st
Lot of thunder & lightning with a shower of rain last night. A lot of us havn't been issued with oil sheets yet & as we practically live in the open it was fortunate that we didn't get much rain.
The Turks have made a few attacks lately but have been beaten off with heavy losses.
Our battalion came to Imbros yesterday for recuperation.
All hands enjoying it immensely.
This is a greek island I think; some of the houses & customs are very quaint, houses are roughly built of stone.
We had about 5 days on Imbros, then packed up hurriedly & went back to the trenches.
What with manning our post & "standing to" we have had hardly any rest at all since coming back.
I have had about a weeks earache or neuralgia, but it has just about left me now thank goodness.
Mike Cameron was shot last night, someone goes nearly every day or night.
Friday 6th August
At last things are going to move.
I believe we go into action in the early hours of tomorrow morning; there is to be a great advance all along the line; we are told ours is an important position that we have been given.
Don't feel very nervous, hope it wont be my last action, but we cant all come back I suppose. Wish this war was over all the same.
Sunday 8th 4.30pm
The battle begun yesterday still goes on with more or less intensity; it is spread over a front some miles long; I believe at most points we are getting on very well. Yesterday our Company got badly cut up, over 50% casualties, lots of the wounds being very serious. The whole battalion suffered, but 12th & 13th companies worst of all, we (12th) have one Lieut out of four left; shell fire accounted for the most, the battalion becoming exposed to the fire of a 75 c gun.
Fortunately (as I could not of been of any use) I was not with the company at that time, being on fatigue when they moved off & on trying to rejoin later found it impossible as rifle fire was too heavy.
What is left of us are together now having joined up yesterday evening, we are just having a few hours rest as we don't know what the night may bring forth.
Have just made & despatched a pot of tea also one of beef tea. Will now try & get a little sleep which we are all in need of.
This battle will probably last vigorously for another day or two yet.
Battle not so fierce to day. 33 yrs old this day.
The battle seems to have worn itself out. We are not given much news, we know that we have gained a lot of ground in some places, for several days our battalion has been holding & strengthing a position gained up on a high hill.
The climate doesn't agree with me, havn't felt fit since landing at Suez, gradually running down, reported to the Doctor this morning, got pills & 2 days excused duties, that may help me on for another day or two, just about clean done now.
Lying on my back in the shade of the scrub writing this, not going to try & make the trenches until sundown. The sun blazes into them like an oven in the day time & then at nights now it gets fairly cold.
The battle still goes on intermittently on our left.
Have scarcely eaten any thing for a week, cant get suitable diet living on a limited supply of water mostly.
Will report to the doctor again tomorrow morning, the third time, perhaps he will be able to give me something more than pills this time, the doctors look on every man reporting sick as a shirker.
Left the front, run down
Arrived N.Z. General hospital Abassia, near Cairo.
Feeling a good deal better
Left Abassia Hospital for camp near Alexandria. N.Z. base camp en route for England, for which place I hope we soon start, the only good thing about this camp being the fact that we are quite close to the sea, but that has its drawbacks in as much that there is a stiff breeze off the sea & it blows sand over everything.
The treatment at N.Z. Hospital, Abassia was good the Sister of our ward, Sister Ingram of Nelson, being kindness & good nature itself, the orderlies also were very good.
Still at Mustapha camp, awaiting a boat.
Don't like the place, don't feel fit here, indigestion etc.; hope we soon get away.
Monday Oct 4th/15
At long last we got a start for England; left camp about 9.30 in horse drawn ambulance waggons, had slow drive of five or six miles.
Round to Alexandria docks, where we went aboard the good ship "Andania" a Cunard liner of about 14000 tons with a fair speed.
We cleared the harbour just at dark.
Steaming all day through the calm blue waters of the Mediterranean. Every precaution is taken to lessen loss of life in case of being torpedoed.
Lifebelts are to be kept constantly to hand, & boats are all ready to be swung out, besides which we have to parade daily at the place where our respective boats would be lowered.
Another beautiful morning, just enough breeze to fan one.
We are pretty comfortable aboard. I am in a small 4 berth cabin, others have only two in them.
The "tucker" is good & sufficient, with plenty of variety. I think there are about 1100 aboard in various stages of convalescence, a good many quite fit for the front.
We sight a good deal of shipping.
Last night the Eastern sky was lit up by the most vivid lightning I have seen; both sheet & forked; it was flashing almost constantly.
We passed Malta in the early hours of the morning.
The day & the sea are dull & gray & it is very much cooler. The Sicilian coast was in view first thing this morning & various land at other times. The cooler weather whets an already good appetite.
This morning like yesterday is cloudy & almost cold. I expect we will get it colder still when we get through into the Atlantic.
No excitement today steaming along at about 15 knots, sometimes sighting part of the North African coast. It has remained cloudy all day.
There don't seem to be many seabirds in the Mediterranean. Expect to reach Gibraltar tomorrow afternoon.
Uneventful; a little more sun & warmth.
Passed several ships.
Arrived at Gibraltar at daylight this morning; it is a far prettier & more interesting place than I had thought to see. The harbour or bay is just the shape of a front horse shoe; of course the famous rock is the chief item of interest, it is partly scrub covered, about ½ a mile long, 4 or 500 ft high & has quite a small town at the foot of it.
The bay is about 2 miles across; there is a pretty Spanish town across on the other side, all white; all round the slopes are cultivated paddocks & here & there trees. The harbour is full of ships of various sorts; & the docks are lined with sheds containing tons & tons of coal. The tugs & launches here are the cleanest I have seen; two of the biggest were paddle wheels, one was named "Bustler", it struck me rather comical; another was named the "Rambler".
The straits at the narrowest part would be about 7 or 8 miles across as near as I could judge. After coaling we left at about 5pm & should reach old England Wednesday night.
There were a lot of seagulls in the harbour at Gib.
Uneventful. Out in the Atlantic swells a good many sick, including the nurses I think as I haven't seen many of them about. Light showers at times, the ocean & sky dull & grey.
Nice day, nothing doing.
Scotch mist today, pretty thick at times. In the English Channel. We have had an escort of two destroyers all day, & this morning there was a small French cruiser with us for a while. There have been ships in sight all day lots of them & now we are just coming up on a fleet of fishing smacks, by the looks of them, they have three sails set. We have been a long away out of the usual course for safetys sake but I think we will make harbour tonight.
Arrived safe & sound in Plymouth harbour, where we anchored, just before dark.
The first glimpse of old England was had through a drizzly fog but I was pleased to see the old country all the same.
We passed within a few chain of Eddystone Lighthouse but the fog was so thick it was only visible for a few minutes, of course being daylight there was no light burning, but they were firing a gun at intervals as a fog signal, there was also a fog horn going on a point entering harbour.
Up early this morning, rather cold & cloudy. About 20 fishing boats sailed down the harbour just at dawn, it must be a hard life fishing in this weather.
About nine oclock moved up the harbour a couple of miles or so & tied up to the wharf. It is a very pretty harbour, surrounded by low hills & valleys with plenty of bush & green grassy paddocks, & the town parts of course containing many fine buildings; being a naval base & training place for naval recruits there are a lot of splendid big barracks.
We entrained at 3.30, on the Great Western Railway, 3rd class but more comfortable than any carriage I have travelled in in N.Z.; seats to hold two splendid cushions & padded backs as high as ones head, when sitting of course. We got properly under way soon after four. We didn't know for what destination, it turned out to be Bristol.
I cant describe & it would be hard to imagine the beauty of country at the beginning of our journey, unfortunately owing to our late start it was dark when we got to Torquay & we were no longer able to admire the scenery.
If there is much country in England like that first part of Devon, she is indeed beautiful; low hills, downs & valleys, copses, small forests, splendid grass paddocks, showing a good autumn bite, all paddocks, some of which are tiny, enclosed by hedgerows, farm houses & buildings mostly of stone, sheep cattle & horses grazing, all in good condition, here & there a paddock of swedes or turnips, all combining to make a picure prettier than any artist could paint, although it was a foggy day. I couldnt help thinking what a thousand pities it would be if such a country was despoiled by invaders, how one should fight for such a land.
The cattle in the paddocks were nearly all of the Devon breed, that is thick set & red. I saw a good many cows quite close to the line they were fat but didn't have much of a show for milk.
In one paddock there was a flock of crows; insolent looking birds about the size of a wild pigeon & black, that's how I knew they were crows, they were hundreds of them.
Got to Bristol at 8.30, had light refreshment, tea, bread & butter & cake, the first food since noon, wasn't I hungry, could have eaten a horse & chased the rider; put into a bus & taken about 3 miles to Southmead base hospital, bathed & got to bed about eleven, still hungry, had a drink of milk later which was very acceptable.
Up at 5.30 washed, breakfast 6am. 1 nice egg bread & butter & tea. 9 oclock present time cup of good milk, slice of bread & butter & apple.
This is a lovely ward, 30 odd beds well furnished, plenty of flowers & green pot plants.
I feel like an imposter, lying in bed waiting for the doctors inspection, when I am just about fit for the front; I expect we will only be in the hospital a day or two, & then to convalescent home or to N.Z. base camp; it is all part of red tape. I can eat like one thing but I don't think my legs would stand much of a march yet, they seem weak at the back of the thighs, tho they improved aboard the boat, I get slight attacks of diarrohea rather often.
The Doctor gave me & the other new inmates a good inspection, with the result that nearly all the New Zealanders and Australians are to be sent to convalescent camp at Woodcot, between London & Epsom, we leave here on Monday morning. I could do with a longer stay here there are a lot of books I would like to read & the treatment is good; for dinner I had roast mutton & gravy, potatoes & turnips, & milk pudding.
Members of the British Hippodrome gave us a concert this afternoon, it was very good, plenty of comics; I had some real good laughs.
Went to church.
Wrote to Foster.
Lot of visitors to the hospital in the afternoon.
Not getting away to day after all, Woocot is full, don't know when I leave, soon I expect.
Left Bristol for Woodcote at 12 noon; arrived London 2pm & destination at about 5.
Nice journey, scenery almost similar to that between Plymouth & Bristol.
Lots of cattle of all kinds, some good big Hereford steers that looked well to be seen in the paddocks, also a few sheep; in one paddock there was a good big mob of fat Shropshire or Southdown sheep, they looked "alright".
Passed two of Sutton's seed farms, very pretty & molassine experimental feeding farm. Molassine is a food for aborts of animals, dogs, cattle & foals & the Co run this farm for the sake of experiment on feeding, it looked well kept & up to date.
Saw several nice trams at work cultivating, in some cases one man driving & one attending to implement.
Saw some lovely great big draught horses in Epsom.
Arrived at Paddington Station by the G.W.R. then down steps to the underground railway (electric) under London to Victoria Station up steps & round about & aboard overhead railway, for Epsom, at least it is overhead until getting out of the thick of London.
Woodcote convalescent camp is about two miles out of Epsom, it is a large camp, all corrugated iron huts holding 40 odd men, the huts are match lined; I think we shall be fairly comfortable here.
It is rather cold here after Egypt & Gallipoli.
Walked into Epsom this afternoon, it is a town about the size of Nelson, didn't notice anything especial except some very nice horses especially some immense draughts in dray shafts.
Rather nice day. Went for stroll towards Epsom race course, which is only a short distance from here.
Strolled into Epsom in the afternoon, rained in the evening.
Drizzly, rain falling all day.
Strolled into Epsom via the course.
Cloudy again to day, one sees very little sun in England at this time of year apparently.
Strolled out to Ashsted to day, through a farm with a lot of deer, of different kinds in it.
Beautiful country all of it; lots of trees fine big oaks & beeches etc.
Went to London to N.Z. office 13 Victoria Street, received furlough pass (14 days) & back pay also £1 ration fund in all £14.15.8.
Went to Strand theatre in the evening where they are playing "The Scarlet Pimpernel", it was not nearly as good as I expected; very foggy & dark at night, job finding the way home.
Had lunch at good restaurant the J.P. ?? soup, fish, lamb & mint sauce, vegetables; apple pie & coffee, it cost 2/9, but I had a good feed.
Food seems pretty dear in England. Best mutton is up to about 10d per lb for chops & best beef steak up to 1/1 as marked in Epsom butchers shops.
Butter is dear but its place is largely taken by margarine at about 6d per lb. Margarine is nicer than I thought it would be, it makes quite a good substitute for butter; so it would be no use farmers or merchants putting butter up to high or people will do without it all together. I have always recognised this fact.
Left "Union Jack Club" Liverpool Road London about 7.50 am, took 2 (?) tube, (underground electric railway) from Liverpool Station for Euston Stn, caught 8.30 train for Holyhead; 22 knot boat leaves there straight away for Kingston, train from there to Dublin, change for Dundalk & arrive there 7.30; 11 hrs from London, not bad travelling. Got to Kingston just about dark.
England is just as beautiful from London to Holyhead as other parts described, there are rather more ploughed paddocks along this line though.
Went to church at St. Nicholas, a large stone church with ivy covered spire. Service not impressive, but good organ, & a beautiful window.
Monday 1st November
Market day in Dundalk, country people coming in from all roads, mostly in drays with fair sized horses & loads of corn, potatoes, figs & poultry. Besides the horse drawn drays there are dozens drawn by donkeys driven by men women or boys, it is surprising the size of the cart & load these little donks pull.
Jaunting cars are still very much in evidence here, some of them very nice turnouts with good horseflesh between the shafts.
This market day is one of the most pleasing experiences I have had. I should think it is just the same now as it was a hundred years ago.
A lot of the people have a very waybacky look. Any amount of old ladies with a shawl over their heads, reminding me very much of Mrs Muloy or Aunt Sophia.
I attract a good deal of attention here, rather more that I like with my N.Z. hat & badges.
The Irish seem very hospitable. I am staying at a small Hotel the "Gaelic", the bed is of the old fashioned feather kind very comfortable & warm; the food is good & abundant; the old style of potatoes in their jackets is still prevalent.
I think I will go out to Inniskeen to day, I wish I knew just where the Hughes used to live. I fancy I have heard Inniskeen mentioned often.
Have had a week out Inniskeen way.
Went to Castleblaney last Monday, where a pork market was held the following day; there were hundreds of cart loads of dressed pigs averaging 150 or 60 lbs I should think, some carts contained six, others, asses carts 1 or 2 carcases; there were also some live pigs sold.
I believe that buyers from all parts of the country attend these markets, all farm produce is a good price here now.
The next day was fair day, & the main streets were packed with cart loads of young pigs, poultry, corn & flax & cattle & horses. There is very little auctioning done at these sales most of the business being done in the old fashioned bargaining way, the deal being closed by the shaking & slapping of each others hands.
The cattle are very quiet, there would be queer sport holding N.Z. cattle in the streets with everyone wandering amongst them as they do here. As far as I am able to judge live stock is worth just about 3 times as much here as in New Zealand.
The Irish seem very hospitable people; it is a pity they are not more tolerant of each others religious views; the members of one church will hardly speak to those of the other; it is not a brotherly love & christian like style at all.
The animals are still kept close to the kitchen doors in Ireland, in fact a lot of old ways & ideas still hold here.
I like the farm food it is very wholesome, plenty of brown & wholemeal bread & porridge, butter, milk, potatoes, cabbage, bacon & eggs.
I had some great feeds of cabbage & potatoes with a bit of bacon; potatoes are always cooked in their jackets are better flavoured than in N.Z. & I never tasted a bitter one.
Came down to Dublin yesterday evening; went to play "Charlies Aunt"; tho old I had never seen it; it is very funny & all the parts were well acted. Been wandering about today; this is a very nice city, it would take a week to see it properly, there are many fine buildings including Trinity College, the old buildings where the Irish Parliament used to sit; St. Patricks Cathedral & Christs Church.
There is a big pillar about the centre of the city, it was erected for Nelson; there is a splendid view from the top which you reach by spiral stairs inside the pillar.
Left Dublin last night at 8.30, thus bringing my Irish trip to a close. I enjoyed it immensely, the weather there is better than in England.
Beggars are numerous in Ireland, even old, old women come at you with their "God bless you, sir & keep you save" & a lot more in the same strain, it's a great stunt with them & then "give us a penny sir", or sometimes it is only a ½ they want.
Numerous men want money or drinks, I can deal with them, with more force than politeness usually.
Arrived in London about 7am.
Went to musical play at Adelphi theatre at night, it was splendid. A mixture of dancing, music, songs & acting; there were about 30 performers including the celebrated Phyllis Dare.
The girls all wore beautiful dresses & that combined with beautiful stage effects, graceful dancing, & plenty of humour made it one of the prettiest & brightest evening I have spent at a theatre. The name of the play was Tina.
Had a big day round Hyde & Regent parks.
At Hyde found my chief amusement watching the riders on Rotten Row, the attitudes of some of them caused me to laugh, there were a few nice horses & good riders, but most of them were mighty indifferent.
The zoo was the chief attraction at Regents Park, but I hadn't time to see everything there. There is a veritable mountain built of sand, concrete etc for the bears, goats, chamois etc.
Tuesday 30th November
Been at our depot close to Weymouth just a week it is farily cold, showery today. I am in the next draft to go after the one that was ready equipped when we arrived here.
I had a good time on furlough 27 days altogether. Spent a couple of days at Brighton during that time; it is rather cold & quiet at this time of year but I guess it is a gay & festive city in the summer.
While I was in London I visited Westminster Abbey, House of Parliament, & two or three museums; attended a service at St Pauls & crossed the tower bridge. Lived most of the time at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo road; it is a big new building founded for the use of all forces, the charges were moderate.
Living in London is dearer if anything than it was in N.Z.
At the hotels where you pay 4 to 6/- for bed & breakfast you don't get nearly as good food as at a N.Z. hotel of the same tariff.
The London police are worthy of the world wide good name they have, they are very good, answering all questions in a very agreeable & obliging way; & handle the traffic wonderfully but in this they are helped by the skill of the bus & taxi drivers.
We have been getting a good deal of showery weather the last few days; it interferes with some of our parades, but yesterday afternoon we had a good march down & round Weymouth, with the band in attendance.
There are three Maoris in this hut, they are smart & well behaved generally, & gave a good account of themselves on the peninsula, & suffered pretty severely.
Went to Weymouth this evening.
Paraded this morning, rain stopped us doing so in the afternoon. Cold wind to day.
Yesterday was fine, & we got in out two parades, including a route march to Weymouth in the afternoon.
To day it is raining steadily.
We have a small route march every day that it is fine enough, just for exercise, the road is about the only place fit to walk on, everywhere else is 'rotten' with the incessant wet. This morning we went out insight of a small town near Weymouth which I believe was the birthplace of Captain Hardy & on a high spur is a great monument, like a light house in the distance, erected to his memory; another interesting sight, of a different order, was a fox loping about down in a gully & eventually out & over the downs; it is the first I have seen out of captivity.
About a battalion of us headed by a band marched into Weymouth this afternoon, to a variety entertainment at the Jubilee hall, it wasn't bad, I don't know to whom we are indebted for that. On returning to camp we found that the Weymouth ladies had laid out a nice tea for us in our messrooms; their kindness was much appreciated.
Christmas Day; rained hard last night & is still wet. I think all my old friends in New Zealand have come into my thoughts this morning. I have to go on picket to night. Our dinner today consisted of turkey, sausages, poptatoes cabbage, oranges, bananas & apples & nuts, beer & soft drinks.
Blowing a gale.
The days here are a litter shorter than those of N.Z. midwinter.
It gets daylight about 7.30 & dark at 4.45.
I am sending you this note book to read & keep for me; it is nearly full & we are leaving here to day & as usual we are not at all sure of our destination, but I think it will be Egypt; where I suppose we will guard the Canal.
What did you think of the withdrawal from Anzac, seeing that it was accomplished without much loss I think it is a good thing; it was the general opinion that a withdrawl would be as costly as the landing. The Turks are so well dug in there now that any advance would mean the sacrifice of numberless lives.
I am glad that Bobs grave is in the part that is still held.
If we go to Egypt it will be 3000 miles closer to old N.Z. than here; I will look on it as a step towards home.
I hope Foster got the long letter wrote to him about a week ago. All that is written in this book is very unexaggerated.
Love to all from
M(?) J Mathews
8 K Rosendale Road
London S E
M W Hughes
Rifle No 3189
Regt No. Surname In Rank
The Officer in Charge
N.Z. Base P.O.
Pte J.H.Y. Hughes
4th N.Z. Reinforcements
Forward this notebook to my mother
Mrs James Hughes
Hand drawn map of Mediterranean
Property of J.W. Hughes
Cameron, Michael (Mike)
Dalton, William (Willie)
Grace, Robert (Bob)
Hughes, Amy Sophia (nee Leaver)
Hughes, Foster Augustine
Hughes, Francis Robert Augustus (Bob)
Hughes, James Herbert Yelverton (Bert)
Hughes, Sydney Amy (nee Severne)
Leaver, Amy Sophia (later Hughes)
Severne, Sydney Amy (later Hughes)
Simonsen, Leonard (Len)
Simpson, Joseph (Joe)
Twidle, Frank Cecil (Mac)