The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
The art of creating "furphies" is a gift. I've met some of the best "furphy'' manufacturers that ever stepped into khaki; in fact, I must confess that I've even started a few going myself.
When we arrived in Egypt our battalion was stationed at the Aerodrome Camp, Heliopolis. Nearly everyone had an idea that we would eventually proceed to France. Walking past Divisional Headquarters one morning, I notic-ed several large boxes stacked up in front of the building. It immediately flashed across my mind that here was a splendid opportunity to start a "furphy" rolling on its way. On my return to Camp, I told the first gathering I met that there was not the slightest doubt but that we were going to France, and that the Divvy Headquarters were packing up scores of boxes branded "Division, Marseilles". The same evening I visited the Pyramids, and the dusky guide who showed me the rock where Cleopatra slipped and sprained her ankle when she viewed the gigantic tombs for the first time, later delivered the news that we were all going to France, and that Divvy Head-quarters were packing up. That will give you some idea how the news travelled.
Most of the boys who lined the trenches from Walker's to Steel's Posts will remember Padre Murphy. To his memory I doff my hat, for he was the most godly man in khaki I ever met. One would come across him chatting to the lads at all hours of the day or night. The Padre was a first-class "furphy" spreader; but we always forgave him, as he did it for a good cause. He saw that the men were becoming despondent, and that he would have to do something to cheer them up. I've seen him come up a trench and listen for a time to Billjtm grousing, and then he would lean for-ward and whisper, "I've got the dinkum news this time, my boy; but don't tell anyone. Achi Baba's going to fall this week and our ships will then dash through the Narrows. It's all fixed up, and we'll be in Constantinople some-time next week." The Padre would have scarcely left the trench before the "furphy" would be flying along it at express speed. The following week the Padre would return, and he generally met with a cool reception; but this did not disturb him at all, and he immediat-ely made friends with the lads again by re-marking, "Something slipped last week, boys; but I've got it from one who knows, that we are going to make a big move next Wednesday. Indeed, I believe that 'Queen Lizzie' has re-turned from England to take part in the operations."
Week after week the Padre spread these "furphies" along the trenches of Anzac; and who can blame him, if he succeeded in cheering up the weary Billjims just for a time. Few rays of cheerfulness came our way in those days, and life was just a drab existence of "bully," biscuits and "stand-to." Poor Padre Murphy—his remains are buried in the little graveyard which lies beside the shores of Anzac. A gloom spread over the trenches the day he stepped in the way of a Turkish shell that came screeching from behind Hill 971.
Just at present there is a scarcity of good, solid "furphies," but wait until Peace comes and we are waiting to return home. That boat which is going to convey us to Australia will arrive at Port Said about fourteen times a week. It is then the "furphy" manufacturer will come into his own. He will issue "special editions" daily, each one contradicting the "dinkum oil" contained in its predecessor.