January 1st 1919. About midnight every boat in Harbour blew it's whistle in honour of the New Year.
January 2nd 1919. 11.30 am. Pulled into the Quay and loaded some Light Horse, 250 in all. 2.15 pm. Moved off once more.
January 3rd 1919. We are now in the Red Sea.
January 4th 1919. Very rough and windy.
January 5th 1919. Still in the Red Sea with a terrible head wind.
January 6th 1919. 9 am. Passed Aden. Could see the coast of Arabia all day.
January 7th 1919. My birthday. This is the second spent on the water. ( 22 years old )
January 8th 1919. Passed some islands on the north side today.
January 9th and 10th 1919. Saw some land in the distance today.
January 11th 1919. My leg has broken out again. So am now a candidate for bandages.
January 12th 1919. Getting very hot now.
January 13th 1919. 9 am. Sighted the coast of Ceylon. 10 am. Pulled into Colombo. Coaled and took water. It is just scorching.
January 14th 1919. Nothing doing. Bar to break ship and go into Colombo. Had a good time.
January 15th 1919. 5 pm. Pulled out. Much cooler now.
January 16th 1919. Very rough and hot today.
January 17th 1919. Calmer but still hot.
January 18th 1919. Very oppressive. During the day we saw many flying fish. Had fish for breakfast and oh! my??? one could smell it two miles away. So all the chaps put it in a tub and tied a rope to it. This they dragged round and round the promenade deck, playing the Dead March in Saul, and finally came to a halt in front of the saloon door. One of the chaps read the burial service which ended up "Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, the troops won't eat you, so the Sharks Must".
The Officers could do nothing else but laugh.
January 19th 1919. Poor old padre was waiting at the time appointed for Church Parade but he was like a jilted bride, no one patronised him because they blew the bugle half an hour too early. All the lads decided he could go to -------, so we had none. 7 pm. Had a terrific storm.
January 20th 1919. Saw a number of whales today. Still very warm.
January 21st 1919. Much cooler today.
January 22nd 1919. Real Aussie weather today.
January 23rd 1919. About 1 am. it came up very rough. The old boat has been tossing about all day.
January 24th 1919. Very rough. The boat has been dipping from 5 feet well over the anchors near 38 feet. It is about the roughest we have ever had.
January 25th 1919. Much calmer. There was a heavy haze all day.
January 26th 1919. Rained all day. Just as we came up from tea at 5.15 pm. we saw the first of our dear old homeland Aussie. It is what we have been looking for for nearly four years, and even now it seems for all the world a dream. I cannot for the life of me realise it.
January 27th 1919. 7 am. Very near the coast, and can see enormous breakers, breaking into clouds of spray on the rocks. 10 am. We called into Albany which we saw at a disadvantage as it rained all day. In the distance the hills are ablaze with scrub fires.
2.30.pm. The Western Australians disembarked and went into three days quarantine.
January 28th 1919. Pulled out at 5.15.pm. As soon as we got out it was very rough. Everyone had to go through a disinfecting Spray room. It is a preventative for the Influenza.
January 29th and 30th 1919. Still rough. Kit inspection at 10 am.
January 31st 1919. Very cold. 7 pm. We can see the shore lighthouses.
February 1st 1919. Orders are given to hand in all bedding. 7.30 am. We can see land quite distinctly, even the trees on it. This brings us very near the end of a long and weary journey. 1 pm. we stopped. Everything is entirely blotted out by a heavy fog. 3 pm. We can just about see point Lonsdale. 7 pm. We are moving at last, but lo, it is a false alarm. 8.30.pm At last we are off again. At 9 pm. we passed the Heads and proceeded straight to Portsea.
February 2nd 1919. The Doctors arrived wearing masks and took the temperature of every man, and passed an indefinite period of quarantine. This means a further delay. Every man on board ( Crew and the Captain included ) has to go through the spray and have his temperature taken. This means a terrible lot of work for us. The men wearing masks caused a great amount of amusement but on the whole the troops are fearfully down hearted and disgusted.
In the afternoon, they held a mass meeting and demanded from the CO the reason for quarantine as we have had no illness, whatever on the voyage and also that Cigarettes be obtained. We got the smokes but no further satisfaction. In the evening we saw some real Aussie girls in a Yacht and afterwards had a concert.
February 3rd 1919. 2 am. Some of the lads lowered the ships dingy and went away. Up to 9 pm. this boat had not been traced. A troopship "Marami" landed to day and got a clean sheet so pulled out half an hour later.
We had an issue of apples, chocolate, tinned meat and fruit from the Salvation Army. No doubt these people are good to us. Later on, a few yachts came out from Queenscliff and Sorrento but were not allowed to come anywhere near us.
February 4th 1919. It was very hot today. Our restrictions are over today. We are to pack up ready for disembarkment tomorrow.
February 5th 1919. 9 am. We landed at the new pier Port Melbourne where we were put into motors and taken to the Sturt Street Barracks, via Port Melbourne, South Melbourne, Flinders, Elizabeth, Bourke and Swanston Streets, which were absolutely lined with crowds of people who cheered us. Showered us with presents, and wished us everything good that they could think of.
Anyone would think we were Heroes and had won the war on our own. The welcome was such that I never expected to receive, and by far too good for us.
At the Barracks we were finalised and met all our friends and left about 1.30 pm.
Practically a civilian again.
Thus my diary ends after relating some of the most enjoyable, interesting, and some of the saddest times of my life. One has a clear conscience though, that he, at least, tried to do a little for those at home we love better than all the things on this earth.
After nearly four years I now close this diary and enter civilian life a very much wiser man, thanks to the Army and to "Kaiser Bill and his cobbers "
GOODBYE. Signed Ivor Alexander Williams
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