Silent Heroes - 199 Sgt John Reilly

A couple of years ago I was shown a photocopy of a handwritten diary detailing some of the 1st World War experiences of a young man from Bega, NSW, John (Jack) Bernard Reilly. This diary is not in the collection of the Australian War Memorial at the time of writing. This is Jack's story.

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Location: Canberra, ACT, Australia

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Jack's Diary - 15 November 1914 to 3 December 1914

15th November: Arrived Colombo. Anchored harbour. Natives came alongside in canoes & we had ...?.. living for money. One had only one arm. Great fleet ships in port. British, Japanese & Russian gunboats.

17th November: Still anchored. Left Colombo 7pm. Pleasant atmosphere change.

21st November: Collision between Shropshire & Ascanius – great excitement – no one hurt.

24th November: Sighted Socotra Islands 9am. Very mountanous & barren coast. Great sight.

25th November: Drill competition won by engineers. 4th Section of A coy selected to compete. Some of us kicked over the traces & would not compete & got a great lecture from Lieut King. Sighted coast of Arabia about 2pm, arrived Aden 4.30pm. The sun rotted coast presented a great sight. High sugar loaf mountains rising straight out of the sea. Anchored outside for 12 hours.

26th November: Left Aden 6am passed troop ships bound for India on return journey. Heat very oppressive. Passed through Hells Gates into Red Sea at 6pm. Great shoal of porpoises in sight. Weather getting cooler.

28th November: Wireless received. We land at Ishmalia & entrain to Cairo to train for the front. Great disappointment as some seem to think we will not reach the seat of war.

30th November: Passed the 12 Apostles Islands. Great change from heat to cold.

1st December: Arrive at Suez....great sight. Some fine buildings along the shore. Nothing but desert in the distance. Arabs all around ship selling fruit, sweets, cigarettes, etc. We take in fresh water.

2nd December: Leave Suez & proceed through canal, great piece of engineering work about 50 yards wide. Pass Indian troops all along canal on both sides.

3rd December: Arrive Port Said about 4am. Anchored all day. Took in water. Great view of town from Afric's deck. Grand statue of DeLesseps, the builder of the Canal. Very dirty looking place. An English girl cooeed to us from a balcony.

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