The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The thing that strikes a visitor to Port Said most, is its kaleidoscopic street scenes. It is a geographical education to sit and observe the pageant of nations, passing and re-passing, resplendent in their national and military costumes. Groups of Greeks, Serbian?, Mont-enegrins, Syrians and Abbassynians appear as though just "lifted" from the tableaux of some musical comedy, so strikingly-and unreally-picturesque do they seem. Countries are depict-ed that I did not know were on the map. But it was the vari-coloured uniforms of certain of our gallant Allies which interested me most, as being the very antithesis of our own sombre dress. With their profuse chevrons, braids, service stripes, dots, dashes, etc., they, to the uninitiated, look like living hieroglyphics. One afternoon the brilliant thought struck me. that 1 should obtain a description of the different uniforms, etc. So I took a seat, ordered a cup of coffee (please note, I said coffee), and prepared to make notes. First, I would take their "regulars", then their Colon-jals, naval and marines, in that order. The following are some extracts from the notes. (Country-) Field grey cap, tunic, bre-eches and putlees; mustard-green cap, grey breeches, blue tunic, khaki puttees; cap, black base, blue crown, silver edging to peak, field grey tunic, dark blue breeches, green puttees (another cup of coffee); blue and scarlet fatigue cap, mustard-green tunic, blue bre-eches, with double scarlet stripes; blue grey cap with gold braid criss-crossing over the crown, black peak, field green tunic with scarlet plush peaks on collar, grey puttees; green cap with.........
After two hours' hard pegging, and several cups of coffee, I was still on this sort of thing, and had not reached their Colonials. Here is the last extract shown before I was led away: Piebald cap, stuffed with mustard and sur-mounted by a transparent osprey on which poised a bird of Paradise, tunic of shotte tulle, gathered at the shoulders, raffles at the throat and wrist, tasselled sash in Allied colours, breeches of field-mouse grey, cut on the bias and exposing the left leg encased in a bottle-green puttee, anklet of blue "baby" ribbon, white shoes, pink eyes, and a Gaby-glide smile.
A soldier-a perfect stranger-seeing I was in a state bordering on collapse, assisted roe into a gharry and saw me safely to camp. He afterwards told me that the last coherent words I uttered were something about "Sol-omon in all his glory." It was some days before I regained mental equilibrium. I shudder to think of the fate of the first misguided individual who attempts a descript-ion of the chevrons, service marks or badges, that challenge the eyes at Port Said.