© Peter Hodgkinson 2016

Dr Peter E Hodgkinson Chartered Clinical Psychologist - Military Historian

The Diary of Lance-Corporal ‘Roddy’ Rodinson

Part Two - Egypt

21 December

Set sail from Devonport at 11.30 AM under escort of 2 gunboats who left us at 10 PM. Sea very choppy, strong wind. Scott* & I on deck all day. Slept on floor of mess room all night.

*Private W.R . Scott ‘D’ Company, Sheffield Telegraph reporter, killed on 1 July 1916.

22 December

On submarine guard. Weather very cold & windy. Scott lost his service cap overboard. Now sailing in the Bay of Biscay.

23 December

Another rough day. Never saw a ship all day. We’re still in the Bay. We heard that letters were to be taken off at the Gib so wrote 2 letters. Scott & I on deck all day.

24 December

Another non-strenuous day. Very cold. Never saw a ship all day again. I and Scott on deck all day. Turned in rather early. Were singing Xmas carols for hours after turning in. Rather a jolly time.

25 December

Took at zig zag course & turned round several times to waste time so as to enter Gibraltar Strait at night. Passed the Gib about 8.30. Many searchlights over on us, also plenty of signalling to be done. Weather cold, fine rain in afternoon.

26 December

First day sailing in the Mediterranean. Quite a difference in the weather. Decidedly warmer. On submarine guard, enjoyed the day’s sailing. Could see the African coast all day. Passed several boats thought to be transports.

27 December

Scott and I and a dozen went for orderly room for being late on guard the day before, got off. I and Scott wrote letters. I spent the whole day on deck, weather fine. About 3 PM boat turned back for seven hours, started to return at 9:30 PM.*

*A ship, the ‘Suffolk’ had been torpedoed nearby.

28 December

On stores fatigue carrying bags of flour. For the rest of the day I spent alone on deck. Scott mess orderly. Wrote letters. Second time of innoculation on board. Wrote home to Mabel and Babs.

29 December

On ship guard 24 hours.  Arrived at Valetta, isle of Malta at 1.50, left at 4. 45. Officers went ashore for one hour. A very clean looking place. Day very hot and sunny. Letters taken off. First post on ship.

30 December

Came off guard at 10 AM. Day still warm and sunny with a little more breeze. Scott and I slept on deck all the afternoon. Turned in early at night. Very warm.

31 December

Mess orderly, up at 5.40 to draw rations. Sighted a boat in the morning being chased by a submarine. Day very hot. Turned in early. Had a lively night singing for two hours after lights out.

1 January 1916

Up at 5.30 for brine bath. Arrived at Alexandria about 9 AM. Natives very much interested us in their small boats and manners. The dock looks full of boats. Disembarked 7:30 PM. Took the train and left Alexandria at 9.50. During the time of waiting on the dockside ‘B’ platoon sang all the latest songs, a very lively time.

2 January

Arrived Port Said 9:20 AM, close to camp. Wrote to Mabel. I and Scott had a look round the town in the afternoon. Went to Kersall (?) at night with Crowther, we saw most interesting sights. Sent PC to Mabel & home.

3 January

On parade in morning. A small route march in afternoon. Sand dust awful, very windy day. Went into town for tea and a look round. Wrote a letter to Mabel afterwards.

4 January

Paid 5/-. On parade. Had a bath in the sea. Served out with ammunition for going out to Tineh Pass for Port Said.  Raining. Wrote home.

5 January

Up at 5.50. Paraded. 7.15 marched to the station Port Said and took train for Tineh on the Suez Canal. Railway trucks to ride in. Arrived at Tineh at 10.30, about 15 miles from Port Said. First day’s soldiering. Slept in some Ghurka huts, very rough way of sleeping. Very windy and cold, half frozen when we got up the next morning.

6 January

I and Scott on inline picquet  from 5 AM to 12 midday. Rowed across the canal to fetch no. 1 & 2  patrols in afternoon. Off on number one patrol at 4 PM with 120 rounds.

7 January

Came off No. 1 Patrol at 8 PM after a very rough night. Came back covered with dust. Wrote a letter to Mabel & home. Rest of day off. Best night's rest in Egypt so far.

8 January

On inline picquet from 12 midday until Sunday midday. Rain in morning, very warm in afternoon. On guard over bathing parade. In bed by 6.50. Very cold during the night.

9 January

Up at 5 AM & stood to until sunrise. Church service, talk by Major Hoette,* also football matches in the morning. In afternoon I and Scott had a sleep on canal bank. Scott on patrol at night, rest of company had a singsong in barrack square. Was a lovely Sunday morning, Fixed 10 tents.

*Major Albert Rudolph Hoette – wounded at Serre 1 July 1916

10 January

Up at 6.30. Another lovely day. I was on no. 1 picquet again. Had a lovely moonlit night. Came back quite fresh. Company drill in afternoon.

11 January

Another lovely day. Sat out all day. Had a good night's rest in hut. Wrote a letter to Mabel.

12 January

French admiral came up the Suez Canal on battleship. We stood to and cheered him as he went by.

13 January

Received in pay 3/-. On no. 2 patrol at night. He had a rough night.

14 January

Had an easy day. Retired early and had a good night's rest. Wrote a letter home. Scott on no. 1.

15 January

On digging party over the canal in morning, over at night on no. 1 patrol. A lovely moonlit night. Scott and I had a bath in the canal. Very cold night.

16 January

Sunday. Had a short service in camp taken by Major Hoette. Very hot day. Concert at night. Scott on no. 2 patrol. Had the news that our mails were at Port Said.

17 January

Last day for duty at Tineh. I was on no. 2 patrol at night. Bread and sugar for tea. Had dry bread and two dates for tea for several days here.

18 January

Returned from no. 2 patrol. Had breakfast and helped to clear up camp for ‘B’ company to take over. Left Tineh for Ras-el-Esh at 12 o'clock, arrived Ras-el-Esh at 3 o'clock. Stayed there for the night. Scott and I slept on the bank of the Suez Canal, had a fairly good night.

19 January

Up at 5 AM. Left Ras-el-Esh at 7 o'clock, arrived Port Said 11 o'clock after a hard march. Scott and I went into town for tea. First good meal for a fortnight.

20 January

On parade in morning. Bathing parade in Mediterranean in afternoon. Scott on guard at Port Said, I on night picquet.

21 January

Parade in morning, wrote a letter to Mabel. Bathing parade in morning. Heard that Barnsley* had three days’ leave before they left England.

*13th York & Lancaster, the Barnsley Pals.

22 January

Rifle inspection and semaphore in morning. Scott and I had a look round Port Said and saw a native wedding, a most wonderful sight. Went to YMCA  for tea.

23 January

Sunday. I was on divisional guard in Port Said at headquarters. Had a very hot day but a rough night. Lightning most of the night. Headquarters on the seafront.

24 January

Had a quiet day. Stayed in camp all day for rest.

25 January

Wrote a letter to Mabel & Gert. At night, I and Joe Askins* went to town & and posted the letters. Port Said streets were awful owing to a rough day we had. The first bad day we had up to this day.

*Segeant W.J. Atkin?

26 January

Up by 4 AM. Removal from Port Said for El-Ferdan.* Had a very heavy day removing all the goods across the canal. Managed to get tea at 9 PM. In bed by 11 PM. Managed to get wet through in afternoon.

* On the east side of the Suez canal.

27 January

I was put to an orderly. Had an easy day. In afternoon did some developing for Beal.*

*There was a 2nd Lieutenant A.J. & a Lieutenant F.A. Beal – both were killed on 1 July 1916.

28 January

Up early in the morning on Army Service Corps fatigue across the canal all morning. Afternoon off. Weather rough & rainy in morning. Fine afternoon.

29 January

On early fatigue across the canal carrying light rails for light railway up to the trenches. Finished at 12.30 but I had to wait until 3.40 to cross the canal. Rest of day off.

30 January

Received letter from home. On parade in the morning & fatigue carrying. Dug in the afternoon until 5.30.

31 January

Had a very soft day. Splendid day. Had a bathing parade in the Suez Canal. Did nothing for the rest of the day.

1 February

On fatigue from 7.15 to 6 PM carrying stores from beach to incinerator near East Lancs Camp.* Glorious day.

*11th Battalion East Lancashire Regiment.

2 February

On Royal Engineer fatigue from 6.30 to 10.30 unloading sandbags. Bathing parade in morning. Rest of day off. Parcel arrived and letter from Mabel.

3 February

On RE fatigue from 6.30 to 10.30 loading waggons for trenches and carrying stores and unloading wood from a barge. 3.30 on no. 8 patrol 3 miles north of camp. Had a good night but very cold.

4 February

Morning off. Trench practice. In afternoon rewound my puttees. Saw the operation to string a camel. Very close day.

5 February

Standing too at 6 AM. D on inline picquet. On fatigue chain ferry large one. All day. Very heavy rain at night.

6 February

Our ship ‘Nestor’ came up the canal about 8 AM. Developing for Beal in the afternoon, chain fatigue at night.

7 February

Rifle parade in morning & bathing. Night on no.8 picquet. Very hot day. Received a letter from father just as I was leaving camp.

8 February

Arr(ived) back in camp from no. 8 picquet at 7.30 AM. Rifle inspection & bathing parade in afternoon. On Engineers fatigue from 4.30 to 8.20.

9 February

I & Scott on Turkish ferry for 24 hours. Rather a cold day. Very heavy current but had a good experience & blisters on hands. Wrote Mabel & home.

10 February

Off all morning to sleep. Rifle & bathing parade in afternoon then took straight on to the Engineer’s fatigue carrying rails until 6.30. 9 before we had tea.

11 February

Had the best day we have had here. Rode out to the rail head on train to fix up telegraph poles in the desert. Scott & I enjoyed the day.

12 February

Had the day off. Spent most of the day with Beal developing. Weather splendid. Fixed officers’ tents across the canal for the 11th Division.

13 February

Mails arr(ived) from home but none for me. Should have been on water guard, but developed a few films for Beal.

14 February

Jer(illegible) & I washed rifle covers in canal in the morning. On firewood fatigue in afternoon. Escaped a large fatigue at night. Nice day. Wrote Gert.

15 February

On chain fatigue from 8 to 11 & at night on no. 6 patrol. Had a good night but very cold with heavy dew. Ship ‘Ecco’ ran aground in the canal. Very wet day.

16 February

Came off no. 6 patrol, had a rest. Developed for Mr Beal. On fatigue from 6 to 9 removing water pipes. Fine day.

17 February

Ill all day. Reported sick but sent back to work. On fatigue from 6.30 to 10.30. Afternoon on RE guard on West Side of Canal. During the evening a ship came up the canal & broke the Turkish ferry rope.

18 February

On the RE guard until 4 PM. Arrival of the 11th Division in the morning. Saw the native funeral. Still very ill. Wrote home & to my darling.

19 February

On the ferry chain fatigue from 6 to 8 AM. Beal got me off for the rest of the day, so I developed all day for him. Still ill.

20 February

Felt myself again. On fatigue all day removing from east to west of Canal in readiness for removing to Kantara.

21 February

Left El Ferdan for Kantara at 7.45. Up at 4 AM, struck camp & had breakfast by moonlight. Had a very heavy march of about 14 miles. Arrived Kantara at 4 PM. Had tea and then had to wait until 9 PM for tents. I & Scott had a walk to the canteen.

22 February

Reveille at 7.30. Had to leave our breakfast to go on fatigue to help the East Lancs. Had the afternoon off. At night were marched down to Kantara to fetch kit bags. In bed by 10 PM. Very hot day.

23 February

Reveille at 2 AM. Struck camp, had a cup of tea and & left Kantara camp for the trenches at 4 AM about 7 miles in front with the heaviest pack we have carried so far. Arr(ived) in camp at 8.30 after a long halt. Had the rest of the day off. Wrote Mabel & home.

24 February

Camp on Hill 80 7 miles East Kantara. Off on fatigue at 6.30. Start working on Hill 70 stroghold at 7.30, worked until 11.30. Broke off for dinner until 1 P, then worked until 5 PM. Arrived camp 5.45. Tea then drew water for drinking purposes, the water being brought to the camp in fantassies by camels.

25 February

On our fatigue digging etc. on Hill 70 stronghold. We enjoyed our day out here, such beautiful hot weather. Drew water to wash with – what a time.

26 February

Still on Hill 70 stronghold. Had only 1 hour for dinner so arrived in camp earlier. Major Hoette read new regulations re. letters. About 10 PM we were called out of bed. Heard we had to go to France. Had a parade for clothing.

27 February

Received £1 from Mabel. Up at 6 AM. Packed up ready for marching back to Kantara. Left Hill 70 8 AM, arrived Kantara at 1 PM. Had a bath in Suez on arriving. Mail arrived. I received registered letter from Mabel.

28 February

On parade all morning for clothing etc. In afternoon Mr Beal got me off fatigue to do a little developing for him. Beautiful day, very hot.

29 February

Rifle parade at 9 AM, then drew kit bags. Back in afternoon, bathing & washing parade. Paid 12/- at night. I and Scott had our first bottle of beer.

1 March

Out with Mr Beal with the camera. We took the prisoners then the flying machine, mosque, ? on camel, and Indian transport. Developing the rest of the day.

2 March

Company drill in morning, physical drill in afternoon & bathing parade. I took a group of the of the tent boys, also the SBs. Also took a group near the camels. I and Scott on a camel.

3 March

Rifle drill & bathing parade in morning. Scott & I had a good sea wash with salt water soap. Musketry drill in afternoon. I and Scott on the camel again. Developing during the evening.

4 March

D Co(mpan)y route march of about 7 miles. Returned with the band. Road very dusty. Mail arrived about 2 o’clock. Rest of the day off. I developed 4 films for Colonel & Mr Beal.

5 March

Sergeant-Major put his head in at our tent at 5 AM & said we were to get up & pack ready for off. So we did but we had to stand fast until 10 AM. Had the rest of the day off. I did a little photography for Mr Beal.

6 March

On parade at 9 AM. Went a short route march. On returning we went for a bath in Suez. Did a little printing at night on myself (sic). Received a parcel from Mabel with cigs and socks, Bless her, she loved (sic).

7 March

Up at 5.30, breakfast 6 AM. On parade at 7 AM until 9 AM, then bathing parade in Suez. Football match in afternoon officers (sic). Rest of the day spent developing for the officers. At 5 we struck tents & slept out all night until 5 the next morning. Did some of my own presents for home.

8 March

Left Kantara at 12.3(0) by goods train. I was in rear party. Arr(ived) Port Said 1.10. Rest of the day off. Went into town and bought curios to send to Mabel. With (?) Robbie & Dick, enjoyed the evening. Back in camp 8.30.

9 March

At Port Said. Up at 6 AM, on parade at 9 AM. Removed tents & had a bathing parade. Afternoon off. Wrote a letter to Mabel & home. To the cinema with Corporal at night.

10 March

Up at 6 o’clock, packed out kits, cleaned up the camp & left the camp for Port Said. Dock at 8.30 & boarded the boat ‘Briton’* at 10.30. Set sail from Port Said at 5 PM. I and Scott turned in at 6 PM. Sea rough.

*HMT Briton was a Union Castle liner that had seen service during the Boer War.

11 March

Up at 6 AM, feeling seasick, but could be sick. I and Scott on deck all day. Only got food which we could get at the canteen. Were call up (sic) for alarm at 5.15 PM. Scot & I ill all day. Turned in at 8 PM, almost afraid to do, believe. Sea very rough.

12 March

Up at 6.30, on parade at 10 o’clock. Me & Scott on deck all day. Wrote a letter to Mabel. I did a bit of developing. Felt much better today but weak.

13 March

Slept on deck all night. Up at 5.30. Mess orderly afternoon. We reached Malta at 3.30 o’clock. Developed a film for Beal during the time we were stood outside Malta.

14 March

Left Malta for Marseille at 4.30 o’clock. Developing for Beal up to dinner. On guard at 12 in no. 2 mess room. Saw the coast of Sardinia. Very windy day & very cold. Gave steward our letters.

The Diary of 'Roddy' Rodinson