On Active Service
John Harold Falconer
“My Loved Ones at Home”
15th Oct. 1916
Chapter IIn Australia
PoemAnd That’s Australia
Chapter IIOn board H.M.T Ceramie
Chapter IVInto the unknown future
PoemFor Love and Empire
Chapter VIOn board S.S. Canada
Chapter VIIFurlough camp again
Chapter VIIIThe evacuation
Chapter IXOn Lemnos Island
Chapter XEgypt (continued)
Chapter XIIModern Warfare
Belgium, 15th October 1916
In this booklet I am trying to convey to my readers some of the experiences, sights and emotions, which have been my lot to pass through, during the time I was sergeant in the Australian Infantry.
I am not or do not profess to be a writer of any merit, so I hope my readers will overlook the mistakes in composition etc and understand that this booklet is only intended to brighten, and in some measure bring my Father, Brother, and myself closer to our home folk.
It is not a geography of any of the countries my experiences will be about. In fact, I don’t intend saying nothing else, other than the names of the countries and a few towns which I sincerely hope the censor will pardon my mentioning and overlook them.
I was standing on the high cliffs one Saturday afternoon in November 1914 which surrounds the forts of South Head, Sydney Harbour, looking down at the picturesque sight of an 18 ft sailing race. Intermingled with the sailing boats were motor launches, ferry boats on their way to and from the pleasure resorts of Manly, Watsons Bay, The Spit etc. The sea was calm, the sun, bright and warm, and I was content with life in general. Suddenly my attention was arrested by the shrill and continuous whistle of the sirens of half a thousand water craft of all sizes, together with this, the bands of the ferry boats struck up patriotic airs, and handkerchiefs were being waved by the thousands. I was wakened from my reverie, by a crowd of my fellow comrades, who were with me in camp at South Head. We were in the 38th Infantry, in which I held the rank of Sergeant. Our regiment was then guarding the South Head Forts.
After arguing some time as to the probable reason for all this excitement, our eyes turned to three big liners coming up stream. I watched them closely for some time and then it dawned on me as to their nature. They were troopships laden with our own 2nd Contingent. By this time they were almost opposite us and were very close in to us. Our regimental buglers doubled down and as the three troopships sailed quietly by, played the general salute. The cheering was deafening and long; after my comrades had returned to their tents, I sat down on the grass and thought. My thoughts were somewhat mixed, and when I finally came to the conclusion that I would enlist, my resolution was somewhat shattered by the fact that I was only 19 years old and that I could not enlist until my apprenticeship had finished or even if that fact was doubtful I knew that I would have to obtain my Father's consent. Quite undecided I went up to the Mess for tea, and then duties took my mind off the war and the possibility of my enlisting. A few days later we demobilized and I returned home and I wrote.
Everything went smoothly for a few weeks, when owing to my thick headedness and senselessness my apprenticeship was broken off, for which I have never been a scrap sorry, and I was left...