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The Official History of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade

Chapter III. On the Suez Canal

page 55

Chapter III. On the Suez Canal.

Part 1: Brigade Headquarters And The 1st and 2nd Battalions.

Brigade Headquarters at Heliopolis— Command, Brig.-Gen. Braithwaite—Reinforcements—Move to lsmailia—Formation of the New Zealand Division—Command, Col. Fulton—To the forward zone, Ferry Post.

This account must now go back to the date of the 1st Battalion's departure for Matruh, namely, 18th December, and deal with the Brigade less the two detached units. The headquarters' personnel were still at Aerodrome Camp, Heliopolis, with Lieut.-Col. Fulton in command of the Rifles and also of the New Zealand and Australian Reserve Brigade.

The day after the 1st Battalion left, the 2nd Reinforcements for the Rifle Brigade arrived in camp. This draft consisted of 10 officers and 394 other ranks. The 1st Reinforcements had, of course, come with, the first two battalions of the Brigade.

Lieut.-Col. (Temp. Col.) W. G. Braithwaite, D.S.O., assumed command of the Brigade on December 27th.*Lieut.-Col. Fulton retained command of the N.Z. & A. Reserve Brigade, with Major Gibson, Northumberland Fusiliers, as Brigade Major.

A change was effected in Brigade headquarters on January 11th, 1916, Capt. C. W. Melvill, N.Z.S.C., taking over the duties of Brigade Major from Major Gard'ner, transferred. The appointment was, however, ante-dated to December 7th, page 551915, and Capt. Melvill was granted the temporary rank of Major.

The reinforcements were temporarily organized as a battalion, and at once commenced intensive training of a comprehensive nature, and this was carried on steadily throughout the remainder of December and the whole of January and February. Brigade Headquarters, together with this unit and other details, moved on February 6th to Moascar Camp, Ismailia, whither the 2nd Battalion had gone direct from Alexandria on the 18th of the previous month. Here, in addition to its own company and battalion training, the latter unit had been taking part in manœuvres on a large scale in conjunction with the troops lately returned from Gallipoli. General Birdwood, commanding the Anzac Corps, inspected the Brigade troops at Heliopolis on January 26th, and the 2nd Battalion alone at Ismailia on February 18th. At the end of the month, as we have seen, the 1st Battalion joined up with the Brigade.

After its glorious service on Gallipoli, from the famous landing in April, 1915, to the brilliant withdrawal at the end of the year, the New Zealand and Australian Division, which formed part of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, concentrated at Moascar during the first week of January, 1916. Here, in common with the other formations of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, it entered upon a period of intensive training to fit it for action in the defence of the Canal, to take the field against the Germans, or to meet any other emergency that might arise. In the course of the process of reorganization, however, it soon became patent that the Australian and New Zealand reinforcements and convalescents had accumulated to such an extent that they could not be absorbed under normal conditions, and that the training formations into which they were being drafted were becoming unwieldy. Reinforcements alone were coming forward every month at the rate of twenty per cent. in excess of ordinary requirements, and in addition there was a large number of surplus men intended for mounted units, who, because of their desire to get early into the firing-line, were willing and eager to transfer either to artillery or to infantry units. Moreover, half the New Zealand Rifle Brigade was already in Egypt, and the remaining two battalions were expected early in March. Careful page 57 investigation made it clear that it would be quite feasible, as well as eminently desirable, to form additional Australian Brigades, detach the Australian formations from the New Zealand and Australian Division, and reconstitute the latter as a Division composed entirely of New Zealand troops. Negotiations to this end were immediately entered into, and by the middle of February the establishment of an additional Anzac Corps and of a purely New Zealand Division within the 1st Anzac Corps was commenced.

By the end of the month the various adjustments had been completed, and on March 1st the change of name from "The New Zealand and Australian Division" to "The New Zealand Division" was announced. Major-General Sir A. H. Russell, who in the previous November had succeeded General Godley, continued in command.

In the New Zealand Rifle Brigade very few alterations were entailed, for though the 3rd and 4th Battalions had not arrived, they were expected in the course of a few days, and the organization was already practically complete. Indeed, beyond the transfer of reinforcements and some of our officers to the 1st and 2nd Brigades, which had been formed of the old New Zealand Infantry Brigade, we were scarcely affected by the change.

On this date our Brigade Commander, Brig.-Gen. W. G. Braithwaite, D.S.O., with Major C. W. Melvill, N.Z.S.C., his Brigade Major, went over to similar appointments in the newly-formed 2nd Brigade, and Lieut.-Col. Fulton was again appointed to the temporary command of the Rifle Brigade, with Capt. H. M. W. Richardson, N.Z.S.C., as Brigade Major. Capt. E. Puttick, one of the original 1st Battalion company commanders, was on the same date seconded for duty with the 2nd Brigade as Staff Captain.

Inter-brigade operations were carried out on March 3rd. The 1st Brigade represented a British force coming from Telel- Kebir, and was attacked by our two battalions, representing a Turkish force. It is noteworthy that to the total of 131 march casualties sustained during this trying day on the desert we contributed only five.

The 1st Battalion was inspected by G.O.C. Ist Anzac Corps on March 6th, and on the following day the Brigade moved out page 57to the camp at Ferry Post, about half a mile east of the Suez Canal, where the New Zealand Division took over the defensive sector from the 2nd Australian Division, which was being withdrawn for despatch to France.

Ferry Post covered one of the most important bridgeheads established during the recent rapid development of the Canal defences. When the Turks attacked in February, 1915, the fighting had taken place on the very banks of the Canal itself, the British forces being for the most part on the western side. Now, however, the defensive works extended far to the eastward, the first line being from six to seven miles distant. Some two and a half miles behind this ran the second line of defence, while the third was close to the Canal. Metalled roads, railways and water-pipe lines had been carried well up towards the front and were being rapidly extended. The trench systems in the forward lines of defence consisted mainly of self-contained "localities," each prepared for a strong garrison of from a battalion to a brigade, and were very strongly wired. They were temporarily held by troops of the Mounted Brigade, but were reconnoitred by representatives of the various infantry units told off for their occupation in case of enemy attack. Beyond the foremost line, patrols of Mounted Rifles scoured the desert, while air-men prosecuted their investigations still farther afield, for though the Turkish Military Railway was still far from the Canal, nothing was left to chance.

Even in the third line, which was practically on the Canal, the utmost watchfulness was maintained. No traffic was allowed after dark except through the examining post, and then only if the outpost commander was satisfied on the points of identity and business. Natives without armlets or passes were not permitted to pass through in either direction, and as an additional precaution, a strip along the front of the line was smoothly swept each day before nightfall, so that any possible eluding of the sentries might be discovered.

To the men of our Brigade, who had had little experience in duties of trench-construction beyond that gained in the moist soils of the New Zealand training-grounds, the defensive works were a striking example of skill and perseverance. The dry sand appeared to be more or less continually flowing; the sides of the trenches could be maintained in position only by the use of framing and matting, while the frequent high winds page 59were accompanied by a drift which here and there almost obliterated the works. It appeared to us that when we came to occupy the trenches we should find it more difficult to fight against the forces of Nature than against those of the enemy.

On the 11th the 2nd Battalion replaced the 1st Brigade troops in the defensive line from Bastion "A" on the right to the Beacon Light on the Suez Canal on the left, the strength employed being two companies. The 2nd Battalion was relieved of this duty on the 15th by the 1st Battalion, which in turn handed over to the 1st Brigade on the 17th.

* The temporary rank of Brigadier-General was granted to Col. Braithwaite while commanding the New Zealand Rifle Brigade.

Part 2.—The 3rd and 4th Battalions.

Inauguration and training—Dress—Maymorn and Rangiotu Camps—Departure for Egypt—Arrival at Ferry Post.

While the Brigade was at Ferry Post, the 3rd and 4th Battalions arrived from New Zealand, and this may be a fitting place for a record of their early history; but as the organization and training of the "left half" of the Brigade followed so closely on the lines adopted by the older portion, a mere outline will be found sufficient for our purpose.

Colonel V. S. Smyth, N.Z.S.C., (Reserve of Officers, Royal Warwickshire Regiment), was appointed to the temporary command, with Capt. John Bishop, N.Z.S.C., as Camp Adjutant. Having served in a similar capacity with Lieut.-Col. Fulton during a considerable portion of the training period of the "right half," Capt. Bishop, who had been retained for this purpose, was specially qualified for the position of staff officer; while Col. Smyth had had, in addition to his service in the Imperial Army, several years' experience in command of military districts in New Zealand.

The special preparatory training of officers and non-commissioned officers commenced at Trentham on September 7th, 1915, and the men marched in on the 11th and 12th of the following month. On the 15th a move was made to Maymorn, some six miles to the north of Trentham, where a tented camp was occupied, and general training commenced at once.

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Major J. A. Cowles, of the 17th (Ruahine) Regiment, took over the command of the 3rd Battalion, with Captain H. S. N. Robinson, N.Z.S.C., as Adjutant. The 4th was commanded by Major A. E. Wolstenholme, of the 4th (Otago) Regiment, his Adjutant being Lieut. J. L. Turnbull, of the 1st (Canterbury) Regiment. All appointments were, of course, provisional, being subject to alteration when the battalions should join up with Brigade on active service.

As in the case of the earlier battalions, each unit had its orderly-room with complete staff, and the establishment of headquarters' sections and details received early attention, so that, if called upon, it could move out at a moment's notice completely organized. Efficiency in all respects was the one aim, and this, in spite of adverse conditions, was, as the event proved, amply attained. The ill-luck that attended the career of the band was felt as a great drawback. It suffered repeated casualties owing to sickness, and was often practically defunct.

In the matter of dress, the 3rd and 4th Battalions were in some respects more fortunate than their predecessors, for by this time some slight degree of finality had been reached. The blaze of the 3rd was a black cloth triangle of 1 1/2 inch side, standing on its base, while that of the 4th was a similar patch placed with its base uppermost. These were worn on the hats and caps as in the other two battalions. The puggarees issued, however, were plain khaki without the central strip of scarlet, a defect that was remedied in due time after the units joined up with the Brigade. Unfortunately the men could not be issued with khaki uniforms for some six weeks after their enlistment, and, as a consequence, could not be given leave to town for that period—a deprivation which they bore with admirable patience and resignation. In the case of officers of all grades, boots, puttee-tapes, belts, frogs, scabbards, ties, etc., were black, in which respect they differed somewhat from the officers of the 1st and 2nd, and consternation reigned when it was found on arrival in Egypt that certain modifications had to be carried out for the sake of uniformity.

Owing to long-continued bad weather, Maymorn at last became untenable, and at the beginning of December the battalions moved to the site of the old Rifle Brigade camp at Rangiotu, where, as in those former days, much better conditions obtained, and where both the general health and the work page 61of the units rapidly improved. From the people of the neighbouring towns they received the same kindly treatment as was bestowed upon their predecessors. They were hospitably entertained by various clubs and patriotic societies, and the indefatigable concert parties from Palmerston North continued their good work as of old.

Final leave commenced on December 19th, and continued for fourteen days, and on its conclusion work was resumed with renewed vigour. The usual short period of special continuous training in attack and defence, outpost work and bivouacking, was carried out on the sandhills about Himatangi; and this was followed by the musketry course, taken by the 3rd at Palmerston North and by the 4th at Wanganui. During the period of general training, Colonel C. R. Macdonald, of the General Staff, delivered a series of lectures on trench warfare and machine- gun tactics.

Towards the end of January, when the time for departure was at hand, a general inspection parade was held by the Honorary Colonel, His Excellency the Earl of Liverpool, who complimented the new units on their fine appearance and smart work, and referred in graceful terms to the good reports of the older battalions already on active service.

The 4th Battalion left for Auckland on February 3rd, and after a march through the city in pouring rain, embarked on the 4th. The battalion (less "C" Company) was accommodated on the "Mokoia" (Transport No. 43), and "C" Company went aboard the "Navua" (Transport No. 44), in company with the 3rd Field Ambulance and the Maori Reinforcements. These transports sailed from Auckland at 1 a.m. on February 5th. The 3rd Battalion left camp on the 4th, marched through Wellington, embarked on the "Ulimaroa" (Transport No. 42), and sailed at midnight on the same date.

Unlike the 1st and 2nd Battalions, these two units embarked without equipment or rifles. There was little space on board ship for training, but the work done was carried out regularly and efficiently. Lectures were given daily, and every effort was made by means of physical drill and sports to keep all ranks fit. The monotony of the long voyage was relieved by frequent concerts, mock trials, and the time-honoured ceremonial of Neptune's Court, well and truly carried out, on passing from the Southern to the Northern Hemisphere. Each page 62unit produced its ship's magazine, that of the 3rd being known as "The Blast," and that of the 4th as "The Mokoian." There was considerable excellence in both, and probably "The Blast," printed at Colombo, could hold its own with any similar publication. Its printed matter was well selected and written in fine style, while the illustrations by Lance-Corporals Thompson and Bell were produced with that clever and humorous touch which afterwards became famous throughout the Division.

The transports called at Albany on 15th February, leaving on the 17th, and were at Colombo on the 28th and 29th. At each of these places route marches were held and general leave given, and at Albany the officers were invited to a ball given by the citizens. The behaviour of the men at both ports of call was the subject of favourable comment on the part of shore officials and the people generally, the only "regrettable incident" being the stranding of two or three of the personnel at Colombo owing to a misunderstanding as to the hour of departure. As the last of the troopships left the latter port and was making good headway westwards, a small tug came racing out and signalled her to stop. There was much speculation as to the reason for this action, and the usual wild explanations multiplied as the tug was seen to lower a boat which pulled smartly over to the trooper. The gangway was put down, and up this majestically stepped a solitary Rifleman. This was the famous New Zealand footballer, "Wing" David afterwards killed in action in France—a man much beloved by his comrades and something of a trial to, though secretly admired by, his officers. Arrived on deck, he waved a haughty dismissal to the tug and a condescending signal to the bridge that the troopship might now proceed. The usual cold formalities regarding the matter of absence without leave engaged the attention of the delinquent and his commanding officer at orderly- room next morning.

The troops disembarked at Suez, moved by rail to Ismailia, and marched to the Brigade camp across the Canal at Ferry Post, the 3rd Battalion reporting on March 13th and the 4th Battalion two days later.

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Part 3.—The Brigade Complete.

Command, Brig.-Gen. Fulton—Promotions and adjustments— No. 3 Machine-gun Company—Lewis Gun Sections—Training Battalion—Return to Moascar—Training—Preparations for departure —Inspections—Embarkation—Arrival at Marseilles.

On the arrival of the 3rd and 4th Battalions the rearrangement of the officers of the Brigade, already commenced in connection with the formation of the Division, was proceeded with. The adjustment involved transfers and promotions which necessitated reference to the Expeditionary Force Headquarters, and were not completed until the last week of March, when the undesirable suspense and uncertainty which had been felt as a drawback right from the inception of the Brigade gave place to the feeling of satisfaction that approximate finality had at last been reached. In this matter the settlement of the command of the Brigade was not the least gratifying feature. The principal details of the adjustment were as under:—

Brigade Headquarters:

  • Lieut.-Col. (Temp. Col.) H. T. Fulton to command the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, with the temporary rank of Brigadier- General.
  • Capt. T. R. Eastwood (The Rifle Brigade) to be Brigade Major, with the rank of Major.
  • Capt. R. G. Purdy, N.Z.S.C., to be Staff Captain.

1st Battalion:

  • Major W. S. Austin to be Lieut.-Colonel, and to command the Battalion.
  • Capt. J. G. Roache to be Major, and to be Second-in-Command.
  • Lieut. H. Holderness to be Captain, and to be Adjutant.
  • Capt. G. E. Simeon, Quartermaster, to be Major.

2nd Battalion:

  • Major R. St. J. Beere to be Second-in-Command.
  • Lieut. E. J. Brammall to be Quartermaster.

3rd Battalion:

  • Major J. A. Cowles to be Lieut.-Colonel, and to command the Battalion.
  • Major A. Winter-Evans to be Second-in-Command.
  • 2nd Lieut. J. S. D'H. Birkby to be Lieutenant, and to be Adjutant.
  • Capt. J. McD. Johnston to be Major, and to be Quartermaster.
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4th Battalion:

  • Major C. W. Melvill, N.Z.S.C., to be Lieut.-Colonel, and to command the Battalion.
  • Major A. E. Wolstenholme to be Second-in-Command.
  • 2nd Lieut. D. Kennedy to be Adjutant.

Captains P. H. Bell, J. Pow and E. Puttick, of the 1st Battalion, and A. Digby-Smith, of the 2nd, were promoted to be Majors. Major Puttick was for the time being with the 2nd Brigade as Staff Captain, and did not return to us until the middle of July, when he took over the position of Second-in- Command of the 4th Battalion on the death of Major Wolstenholme. Majors Bell, Pow and Digby-Smith became senior Company Commanders of the 1st, 4th and 3rd Battalions, respectively. Capt. A. J. Powley had been appointed Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion in January, and Lieut. H. Eastgate Quartermaster of the 4th in the previous October.

Immediately after his arrival with the 3rd and 4th Battalions, Col. Smyth left us to take over the control of the New Zealand Base at Kasr-el-nil Barracks, Cairo. When the Base was moved to England, he brought the training units from Egypt, and for some time commanded Sling Camp, Salisbury Plain.

Coincident with the organization of the Division, the Machine Gun Sections were withdrawn from their battalions and combined into Machine Gun Companies, one of which was attached to each Brigade. That formed of Rifle Brigade sections was known as No. 3 Company, and came into being officially on March 1st. As the establishment of a Machine Gun Company was headquarters and four sections of four guns each the organization was a simple matter, for the sections were ready-made, and it was only necessary to draft in the personnel for the Company Headquarters and the extra officer now required for each section. The following were the officers as finally arranged:—

Officer Commanding: Capt. J. Luxford (3rd Battalion).

No. 1 Section: Lieut. R. G. Gallien (1st Battalion), Lieut. L. S. Cimino (1st Battalion).

No. 2 Section: Lieut. A. C. Finlayson (Otago Mounted Rifles), 2/Lt. K. D. Ambrose (1st Battalion).

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Colonel (Major General Sir) E. W. C. Chaytor, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., C.B.

Colonel (Major General Sir) E. W. C. Chaytor, K.C.M.G., K.C.V.O., C.B.

Brigadier-General W. G. Braithwaite, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.

Brigadier-General W. G. Braithwaite, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O.

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Lieut.-Col. J. A. Cowles.

Lieut.-Col. J. A. Cowles.

Lieut.-Col. W. S. Austin, D.S.O.

Lieut.-Col. W. S. Austin, D.S.O.

Major W. Kay, O.B.E. Face p. 65.

Major W. Kay, O.B.E. Face p. 65.

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No. 3 Section: Lieut. C. G. Hayter (Canterbury Mounted Rifles), 2/Lt. P. D. Russell (Otago Mounted Rifles).

No. 4 Section: Lieut. C. S. Geddis (Otago Mounted Rifles), Lieut. J. A. D. Hopkirk (1st Battalion).

The Company served with the Brigade until January, 1918, when all the machine-gun sections of the Division were organized into the New Zealand Machine Gun Battalion of four Companies (Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, Otago), and so passed from the control of Brigade commanders.

To take the place of the Machine Gun Sections, preparations were made for the establishment of Lewis Gun Sections in each battalion, and the following officers were appointed as specialists to supervise the training of the personnel and to superintend the general work:—1st Battalion, 2nd Lieut. N. H. Arden; 2nd, 2nd Lieut. H. M. Keesing; 3rd, 2nd Lieut. C. E. Bridge; 4th, Lieut. J. W. Snaddon. Lewis guns, however, were a new and practically untried arm, and were not available for issue at a greater rate than two per battalion, though the regulation scale of four per unit, as laid down by the Army Council at the beginning of the year, was made up before we entered the trenches on the Flanders front. As the usefulness of the guns, both in attack and in defence, became more and more clearly demonstrated, the rate of issue steadily increased until it stood, towards the close of the war, at 36 per battalion, 32 for ordinary use and four for anti-aircraft purposes.

To complete the adjustment there now only remained the formation of a Training Battalion, which would absorb the reinforcements for the Brigade, and from which would be drawn as required drafts of officers and men whose training would be completed under conditions more nearly approaching in general character those of active service than could be expected to obtain in the home training camps. This unit, known as the New Zealand Rifle Brigade Training Battalion, was established at Moascar on March 21st, the details being taken in the main from the second and third reinforcements for the first two, and the officers from all four battalions. Major W. Kay, from the 1st Battalion, was placed in command, with Captains J. Bishop and W. E. Christie as Adjutant and Quartermaster, respectively. Following were the first company officers:— No. 1 Company, Capt. W. G. Bishop and Lieut. A. Hog-page 66gans; No. 2 Company, Capt. O. W. Williams and 2nd Lieut. W. G. Ivil; No. 3 Company, Capt. C. Horsnell and Lieut. F. E. Greenish; No. 4 Company, Capt. P. V. Hackworth and 2nd Lieuts. E. A. Winchester and N. W. Shackleford.

When the Division left Egypt for France the Training Battalion remained at Moascar. A brief outline of its subsequent history is given in Appendix III.

The Brigade moved on March 20th from Ferry Post to Moascar Camp, where it remained until it left for France early in the following month. During the stay at these camps, training was continued with unabated energy. Company, battalion and brigade parades, route marches and staff rides, night operations and trench-digging, specialist training and transport work, each had its place, till at last all ranks, the newer arrivals as well as the "old hands," felt that they were fit for any emergency. Yet, with all our labours, there was time and opportunity for much pleasure. The hot season was not far advanced, and the general surroundings had a special interest. There was a liberal allowance of leave to Cairo. Ismailia and its beautiful plantations and gardens, Lake Timsah and the Suez Canal with their naval and mercantile shipping, even the open desert itself with its scattered remains of bygone civilizations, all had a charm that was irresistible. Bathing parades to the lake or the Canal were a special joy, and often practically the whole personnel of the Brigade would be in the water at one time; and, though reminders of the great world-strife were never absent, there was a refreshing restfulness in a quiet evening stroll to the Canal after a crowded day of toil on the sands of the desert.

Then, too, we had, what so seldom occurred in after-days, the whole of the Division assembled in one place. There was consequently an opportunity for our fellows to mix with the stalwarts from Gallipoli and hear from them at first hand what it meant to be in close contact with the enemy under conditions which would probably prevail in that theatre of war whither we were destined soon to go. We saw much of the other Anzacs also, and in this connection a spontaneous display of goodwill is worthy of note. A brigade of Australians marching across the desert from Tel-el-Kebir was overtaken by a heat-wave, with the result that the men were suffering march page 67casualties to an appalling extent. Word of their plight reached the camp of the New Zealanders near by, and at a hint, rather than an order, every available water-cart, every spare dixie, and every water-bottle within reach was taken out by our men, who streamed over the sands hastening to bring relief to their neighbours in distress.

The time for the departure of the Division was now near at hand, and the final preparations were pushed to completion with all speed. Para-typhoid inoculation had been carried out twice towards the end of March. Kits were reduced by sending away all private belongings, forage caps were finally handed in,* and on April 1st the new charger-loading, short M.L.E. rifles were drawn in exchange for the old M.L.E. long rifles that had hitherto been in use.

We had been inspected by General Godley and seen at training by H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, and now, on April 3rd, the whole Division paraded before General Sir A. J. Murray, commanding the Forces in Egypt. To us this was a very imposing parade, the first occasion on which we had seen ceremonial work on such a scale; but we left the ground at the conclusion of the march past with the consciousness that our hard training had not been in vain so far as it affected our physique, smartness, steadiness, and general appearance. With due thoughtfulness the quicker step of the Rifle Brigade had been provided for, the band accommodated its time accordingly, and, notwithstanding the drawback of loose sand, the several battalions in close column of platoons swung by at the trail in fine form.

On the same evening orders were received for moving out and embarking for France. The Advance Party of the Brigade under Capt. Purdy entrained for Port Said on the evening of the 5th April, and embarked there on the "Franconia." page 68On the same day the 1st Battalion left Moascar for Alexandria and embarked on the "Arcadian." The 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Battalions and the 3rd M.G. Company departed from Moascar on the 6th at different times, commencing at 3 a.m., and embarked at Alexandria, the 2nd (less a small party which went on the "Minnewaska") on the "Arcadian," and the 3rd and 4th and the M.G. Company on the "Alaunia," a fine transport which, unfortunately, was torpedoed on her return journey from Marseilles, a fate which also subsequently befell both the "Franconia" and the "Arcadian." Brigade and Battalion Transport Sections, with their horses and mules, were quartered on the "Elele" and the "Menominee." The complete outfit of vehicles, which we had brought with us from New Zealand, was left behind in Egypt.

The departure from Alexandria commenced on April 7th. Little space was available on the ships for training exercises, but much time was devoted to lectures on trench warfare and preventive measures against gas attacks. In addition to the usual precautions taken against attack from submarines, all ranks wore lifebelts constantly both by day and by night, and each ship supplemented quick-firer, Lewis gun and Vickers gun sentries with sections of men with loaded rifles specially posted on either side.

No untoward event occurred, however, though there appeared to be frequent scares, and the course taken sometimes seemed to be a very roundabout one. Off the coast of Sardinia, for instance, the "Alaunia" was compelled to "about ship" for half a day and then zigzag to her destination. Except in the Gulf of Lions, the weather was fine and the sea smooth, and the transports arrived at Marseilles all well on the 12th, 13th and 14th.

* The felt hats, officially known as "smasher" hats, were still worn with the longitudinal crease in the top, and the distinguishing black patch was retained on the puggaree until May 23rd, when it was transferred to the sleeve of the tunic. It was not until the 7th September following that the now familiar peaked arrangement of the crown was ordered. The resemblance between our hats and those of the Americans was afterwards freely commented upon. This likeness, however, was only general; for whereas we had a puggaree the Americans had a cord, and while our creasing brought the ridges one running from front to rear and the other across on the line of the shoulders, the ridges of the American hats crossed diagonally.