It took Ted quite a while to recover from his wounds. He was taken by hospital ship to to the island of Lemnos where the hospital was in a terrible state. Flies from the latrines swarmed over the food and the men as they lay on lousy blankets. Ted would walk down to the Greek Church and lie in the shade of the verandah when he was well enough. He wrote of the magnificent sunsets behind the rugged, bare mountains and the old fashioned scene of women drawing water from the well.
A walk around the island led to the discovery of a vineyard where he feasted on grapes. That led to a bout of sickness where his only object was to stay near the dreaded latrines.
Although his arm was still giving him considerable pain, Ted was pleased to be recalled to the ship “Marathon” and wondered where he would go next. On September 8 he arrived in Cairo via Alexandria, travelling first class by train for the last segment and enjoying chicken, cigarettes and iced water. At the Palace Heliopolis he received a box containing chocolate, cigarettes, toothbrush and paste, scented soap, pencil, writing paper and envelopes and fine coffee biscuits.
It must have seemed like paradise after Gallipoli and Lemnos. There were two hot baths and clean pyjamas every day, electric light, a balcony overlooking the garden, good and varied food and lively nurses. Of course it couldn’t last and on September 13 he was transferred to Luna Park Hospital. He was happy here except for the bed bugs but was promised a new bed. He must have been feeling better as he was able to get through a hole in the fence and go exploring the city of Cairo.
Ted’s arm was slowly getting better but would he be fit for service? He thought maybe he could get into the Signalling School. On October 25 he paraded for a discharge but didn’t get it. He was sent back to his unit and put on light duties. On November 11 he was paraded and declared unfit for Active Service. After a short break in Alexandria he was given an office job with comfortable quarters but must have known this wouldn’t last because he began French lessons once more. Still he wasn’t going to Europe yet and reported to a depot on the edge of the Suez Canal near where thousands of Australians were camped.
The dioramas above and below are from the Australian War Memorial. They show the use of horses and trucks to transport forage for animals, clothing and equipment, food for personnel, medical supplies etc from the divisional refilling point. They were the target of enemy bomber pilots and artillery fire.
The next depot was three or four miles from the firing line and was in a terrible mess until Ted and nine others sorted it out. In amongst the bread and biscuits Ted had a dugout and an Arab servant. The only problem was a lack of water and the sandstorms where goggles were needed to protect the face and a bivvy (tent) could be destroyed in a moment.
Now Ted tried for the School of Instrumentation but was knocked back. He moved on to O.C. Groceries and commented how the horses were suffering from the heat. After talking to the O.C. of the 17th Depot Unit of Supply he was promised the position of Corporal so applied for a transfer.
Ted could have been describing his future home when he said:
The country is very hilly, all sand but numerous tussocks and salt bush. It rises in numerous succession of hills and falls away into deep sand gullies. Far to the south one can see the Red Sea, and the Bitter Lakes lie blue in the distance.
On June 1 Ted said farewell to the “blue skies, the feathery palms and wheeling kites of the Near East”. On board the “Transylvania” he saw a large escort of destroyers. As they approached Marseilles the ship a few miles behind them was torpedoed.
After landing in Marseilles Ted and his fellow troops were whisked quickly past the “brilliant cafes and miscellaneous peoples” and put on the train for the North of France.
Ted was in raptures at the beauty of the Rhone Valley. “Magnificent snow capped mountains, noble rivers and beautiful garden like country; cared for, every inch of it.”
It was certainly a contrast to the dry, dusty countryside of Western Victoria and the heat, sun and sand of Egypt. In Rouen Ted found his new job in the petrol depot was very tame and the weather was freezing cold. Food was scarce and he had to buy vegetables to supplement the rations.
Thousands of wounded men were coming down but although he could hear the gunfire Ted was out of it and hoping to be sent up pretty soon. He felt he may as well be home for all the good he was doing. The only good thing was his French was improving and he felt he could converse on any subject now.
Then it was onto a troop train bound for Frévent (21 miles from Arras). Here Ted bought a violin and a bow (a Strad no less). He met up with some nurses including one from Hamilton. Work was hard but Ted became fitter and spent his spare time walking through the local woods and training for a swimming carnival. On June 21 1917 Ted was transferred to the supply section 26th A.S.C. He arrived in La Creche amid heavy German shelling, with townspeople killed around him and the church knocked down. He observed the battles overhead between balloons and Taubes. The balloons went down but at least the observers parachuted out. Nights were lit by Fritz’s flares lighting up the target before dropping bombs.
We will leave Ted there in war torn France because we know he will survive. If you would like to know more of his time in France visit M for Military Medal. He will come back to Australia, take up a block in Red Cliffs, marry a charming woman, have four healthy children and lead a successful life in both business and community involvement. He will join the Air Force in World War 2 and somewhat reluctantly recruit young men to do likewise. He will be medically retired one year before the war ends.
And then, two or three years before his death, he will meet my mother.