As war raged around her, Anne endured the heartache of loss, despair and illness whilst forming lifelong memories of travel, camaraderie, and friendship.  Anne wrote her personal thoughts, fears, and firsthand experiences by candlelight, often huddled up in her long coat, gloves, and balaclava with her frost-bitten toes curled underneath her.  Following are some excerpts of her original diaries.

Farewell to No. 3 Sydney May 1915-Anne’s collection 

On the first night, I knew not what the future held in store, when about midnight a knock came to the cabin door and the nicest message had come across the water, by wireless, with just two words, “God’s blessing.”

I have an inward feeling that we will not be able to weather it here, for various reasons.  One is that there’s a rumour now to go on half rations, firewood is short, though it’s only used for cooking purposes.  Then with the gales predicted I wouldn’t be surprised to hear of shipping being suspended.  We think of ourselves, but there are the boys just across in the same latitude on the Peninsular who won’t have the same shelter and comforts as us.  We’ll pray that the war will be over by then.

Sisters wearing their tommy coats and putties-Anne’s collection

3rd Australian General Hospital Tent, Lemnos 1915-Anne’s collection 

There is nothing I can think of more to gladden a mother’s heart than a little snapshot of her boy, already I have been able to give our boys in B2 ward one each to send home for Christmas.  They were delighted too.  I’m nearly at a standstill now, but am hoping Mrs Fiaschi will send some film from England.  Why is Australia so very far away?

Such a spirit of unrest everywhere.  The troops are arriving here as fast, and as crowded as the boats can bring them from Anzac and Suvla Bay.  They say the evacuation will be completed by Sunday night, isn’t it simply terrible?  Tonight between 9 and 10pm the bombardment was very distinct.  One would think it was only a mile away instead of forty.  The hospital is being kept as empty as possible to be prepared for any emergency.

A funeral procession Col. Dick, 3rd AGH officers and nurses on Lemnos 1915-Anne’s collection

3rd AGH waiting for barge to leave Lemnos, January 1916-Anne’s collection 

The hospital, it was formerly the old Abbassia Barracks.  It is a few minutes’ walk from the home, and when it is all finally renovated (excepting for the locality) it will be a suitable and beautiful hospital, the largest in Egypt.  We will be able to take in 1500 patients.

Boats practicing to land at Gallipoli on Lemnos-Anne’s collection

25.04.1916              The First Anzac Day
There was a memorial service at 9am at the Anzac Hostel in Cairo.  After the service there was a procession to the Cairo cemetery and the flowers were taken and placed on the soldier’s graves.  I glanced up and saw one young laddie quite overcome in the gallery, but sad as it all was, one came away with the feeling of being drawn much nearer to those who gave their lives twelve months ago, that they were richer by far, and that their deeds are a lesson for all time.

One of the boys told me that at one of the Tommy camps in the desert, the Tommy’s disliked their quarter master sergeant immensely, and one day one of them threw a tin of bully beef at him and it killed him.  I said “whatever did they do to them?”  The Australians were blamed.  Their officers said such a thing wouldn’t have entered their heads, the Tommys, if the thought hadn’t been put there by our boys.

The rumours have started again, and the latest one is that we are going to France.  If we are needed more there, well that is what we are here for, but I have seen enough of the effects of the war here without getting any nearer.  Naturally one longs for it all to come to an end, and I’m sure no one more so that you in Australia who are so far away.

Soldiers having dinner on the bank Lemnos 1915-Anne’s collection

Newly erected huts for officers, eventually blown down flat in a gale Lemnos, Jan 1916-Anne’s

The rumoured air raid proved a fact for at 2.45 this a.m. Fritz paid us a visit.  ‘Twas so unexpected and sudden, I was sound asleep and awakened to the noise of what seemed to me to be the engine of a train directly overhead then immediately followed a great crash, another, and another, and before you could say Jack Robinson our anti air guns opened out.  It was very exciting.  I think all the Sisters hopped out to see what was going on but myself, and I confess I had a most tremulous quarter of an hour on my own.

The steep trenches and living quarters at Gallipoli-Anne’s collection

Our little bell tents-Anne’s collection 

Such excitement, we are going to evacuate, pack up and be prepared to move at 24hrs notice.  The unit is going to stay.  How glad we all are, anywhere away from Calais.

The drive out from Amiens to the CCS I will never forget, ‘twas my first introduction to the real waste, devastation and desolation.
Not a tree left from the once beautiful avenues, only the shattered stumps remain.  The nearer one gets to the war zone all lights are put out.
Those little white crosses on the roadside to the right and left as far as you can see, and was 15 miles through this sacred ground.  I became silent, my heart ached, for this is the vast valley Somme also where lies so many of our own heroes who have fought and fallen.  Some things are too sacred for words.

Work doesn’t slacken one bit.  The poor boys with trench feet are coming in by the hundreds.  This weather is terribly severe.  We are told of an officer in doing his outpost rounds passed one man on duty and said “all right” reply “all right sir”, then he went on to the next,  but something told him to go back and look at the man again.  ‘Twas only a matter of a few minutes, but the man was standing silent and frozen, he had given his life.

01.09.1918         (night duty) No. 1 AAH
God gives his angels charge of those who sleep, but he himself watches with those who wake.  I have only three more nights.

Patients of Ward 3D AAH No.1, 24.10.1918, myself far right -Anne's collection

“The Kaiser has chucked his job and the war’s over”, so called out one of the boys from the door of the ward as he waved the early Daily Mail in his hand this morning.
Yes, the Armistice is signed.  The guns went off about midday.  Just to think of it, the War over, the news seems too much for words.
The Colonel went into London to hear the King speak to the people from Buckingham Palace.

I felt the engines going at 7am so jumped up to have a farewell look at England.  It is winter now and cold and dreary, but it’s the same Devonshire as we welcomed so three and a half years ago.

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