skip to main content


Eyewitness accounts and regimental diaries from the people involved in the Gallipoli campaign. 

Diary text appears in its original form. 

Diary Tracker

  1. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    11 January 1916

    Just before the evacuation of Gallipoli a lot of extra beds were put up in hospitals, though of course we were not told what for. The roofs were shedded in and any amount of beds put there and some of the tends which had been closed were reopened and I had a sister send me, and she and I worked hard getting the beds made up and everything in readiness. After we got the other tents fixed up we had nothing to do as only one tent was full and out of the twelve patients more than half were up and able to make their own beds.

  2. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    10 January 1916

    We always drove down to the Khedivial in a mule ambulance and I used rather to envy the girls at Moharrem Bay who would reach home as soon as their duty time was up, for we had many a long weary wait in the ambulance before all the sisters had assembled. I used to sit in it in the evening watching a perfect deep blue sky with a moon like a fairyland moon and the brightest twinkling stars. 

  3. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    09 January 1916

    After five days absence I returned to duty and was greeted by cheers from my patients while the orderly, Cook, stood at the salute and called, ‘Tention’. I had to stand a good deal of chaff from the patients on the subject of ‘cold feet’ and insinuations that I had been ‘swinging the lead’ because the weather was nasty. 

  4. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    06 January 1916

    One night we were so cold that Sister Ainscombe insisted on getting into Sister Kell’s bed and warming her feet on her back, in spite of vociferous protests on her part. At least the little Australian sister took pity on us as we declared we were all getting frost-bitten feet and produced a most minute rubber hot water bottle we passed from bed to bed. ‘Of course we needn’t give it to Emma; she’s only a VAD’, Sister Ainscombe would say, with a twinkle in her eye. 

  5. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    05 January 1916

    I spent my time making drawings of the others but could never manage to catch Sister Kelly’s expression, though she was very keen that I should do her for her fiancé. It was still bitterly cold and storms of rain beat against the windows and I must confess I snuggled down in bed with no regrets that I was not on duty, it was the first time I had been off duty since I arrived. 

  6. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    04 January 1916

    Not long after she had gone I got a chill and entered the sick room for the first time. Unfortunately, the minute you reported sick you were transferred into the sick room, which was a source of great annoyance to most people. However, I was really rather glad as Aline’s bed was now occupied by a middle-aged old sister who though very kind was not exactly the stable companion I would have chosen. … I had always dreaded that one day I might be an inmate of the sick room but I had a pleasant surprise for, after the first day I had a violent headache and was offered nothing to eat but hot milk which I resolutely refused to drink, I quite enjoyed myself. 

  7. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    02 January 1916

    Rhoda departed and I was left alone in charge of the other tent. I did not at all like it. There were only twelve patients, none very bad and I had not enough to do. To add to this the weather was very cold, with floods of rain, and I was very depressed. Aline Russell had gone home shortly after Christmas and I missed her very much as she and I had always gone about a lot together. 

  8. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    30 December 1915

    We had one patient who had served in the Bulgarian army and had been through the Balkan war but had deserted and had been in South America on the outbreak of this war and had come from there to enlist. He was very well educated and could talk any amount of languages. 

  9. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    29 December 1915

    The day of his departure he looked quite sad and worried and explained to me in his very broken English that Cook, the orderly, was ‘no good’. I asked him what Cook had done and discovered that he had sent Cook to the canteen to buy sweets which he intended as a present for me and he had brought him back what he considered too inferior a quality to offer me. The day he went away he tried to press a ten piaster piece on me to buy Miss Nichols a present and shook his head mournfully and unbelievingly when I refused and shook his head mournfully and unbelievingly when I refused and said she would much rather have a letter from him. 

  10. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    28 December 1915

    A day or two afterwards I was startled by seeing a gorgeous native clad in blue and gold, with a curved scimitar, who looked as if he had stepped out of the Arabian Nights, apparently on duty outside my tent. And on entering I found the Russians consul. Or his representative, sitting on Tom’s bed and Tom was all smiles and beams. He left him a supply of Russian books and from that day Tom began to get better. The cure was completed when we discovered there was another Russian in the ward who was able to walk about and we sent for him to visit Tom. 

  11. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    27 December 1915

    We got a great number of cases of frostbite, trench foot and rheumatism at this time and amongst them a Russian who, though he had served with the Australians for nearly a year, could hardly speak English at all. He was an enormous man, almost a giant and I got quite a shock when I first saw his foot. Poor fellow, he was terribly depressed and Rhoda and I were at our wits end how to cheer him up. In answer to our inquiries he always shook his head and said ‘No, sister.’ The other patients were very good to him and called him Tom, but his English was so limited that it made connected conversation almost impossible. 

  12. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    26 December 1915

    The day after Christmas seemed rather flat and everybody’s tempers were a bit short but none of our patients were any the worse for the festivities which was something to be thankful for. We had our own Christmas dinner at the Khedivial that night. The manager of the hotel had supplied an orchestra and a Christmas tree with a present for each of us out of his own pocket. 

  13. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    25 December 1915

    Christmas day was a very strenuous day for everybody. Capt. Delmaye who was very musical had trained a choir of orderlies and nurses and they went around to all the wards singing carols to the great delight of all the patients. Our patients were each given a lucky bag which we had prepared for them and the air resounded with tin hooters and squeakers and whistles of all sort. The men were like children, they were so delighted with everything. They all got a present from the Red X and one from the hospital so they really did very well and Wyatt, who was still on ‘no diet’ was given a present from the queen of a nice notebook.

    (Later…) We drove down to the Khedivial in a gharry, ate a hurried dinner and returned to hospital to an orderlies concert in the recreation room. The concert was quite good and Capt Delmay’s choir sang glees. We got home about twelve and tumbled into bed utterly exhausted. I thought of the only other Christmas I had ever spent away from home in Germany. We had visited a hospital there too and sung German carols outside the wards and I wondered if they had done it this year. It seemed impossible when one thought of all the dreadful things they had done but they had been very good to me then and I felt sorry that we could never meet on friendly terms again. 

  14. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    24 December 1915

    On Xmas eve Rhoda and I decorated the tent with strings of flags and put paper lampshades on the electric lights and big bundles of roses about and it looked very gay. I went into C1D to help there as they were very busy with decorations. I found Sister Mauser and a corporal hanging wreaths round and over the beds while Sister Barnett and Capt Delmaye criticised from below. I and Miss Harrison, a very nice VAD who had come out with a 2nd batch about five weeks after us swept up the floor and some of the patients under my directions polished the knives and spoons till they looked like silver. 

  15. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    20 December 1915

    Before Christmas everyone began to get very busy making arrangements for their wards. Rhoda and I were rather sad that our Australians had been removed as this left one of our huts empty and we were afraid new patients would not be well enough to enjoy Xmas festivities. As a matter of fact it remained empty and we had very few patients at all. We had great difficulty in planning anything as we could never both be off duty together and there was no private place where we could meet and consult. Mamma had raised a fund at home for my patients and it came in very useful at Christmas time.

    Aline and I had a great day down in Rue Ramleh where we discovered shops where all sorts of childish toys could be bought. Evidently others had been before for the men inquired with a grin it we wanted things ‘pour les soldats’ and immediately produced false noses, trumpets, mock cigarettes etc. We bought an endless supply of these, also two little Xmas trees and decorations for them. I ordered a sponge cake with chocolate icing and a ‘Happy Christmas 1915’ on it from Athenio’s and Aline ordered large masses of roses from a market garden. 

  16. Emma Duffin

    Emma Duffin

    14 December 1915

    We had a set of Australians again in our tent. Enterics. Two very nice brothers in bed side by side who had come in the same day in exactly the same stage of enteric. Another very quiet man, strange for an Australian, and one called Lambe who nearly turned my hair white. He had been worse than any of the others and still had relapses owing no doubt to the fact that he was continually getting out of bed, eating anything he could lay his hands on and utterly refusing to eat the food he was allowed. In spite of it all I had an affection for him and I liked him much better than Wyatt, a rather stodgy Englishman who did everything he was told and was no trouble at all. Just before Christmas they were removed to the Australian Hospital at Cairo and I had letters from them full of regrets for 15 [the hospital] and assuring me they were not half so well fed or looked after and that Lambe was so cross that sisters were afraid of him.