Red leather pocket sized Collins Gentleman's Diary No 178 for 1916, describing a soldier's boat journey from Melbourne to Ismailia Camp, Egypt, in early World War I. Only a small amount of the diary has been filled in. Owned and used by Sapper A.G.F. Galbraith 2nd Division Sig Corp Broadmeadows No 3648. Printed in Britain for Collins Bros & Co Ltd, Sydney and Melbourne. Given to Corporal Galbraith by his sister Lillie in 1915.

The diary covers some of the same time period as another diary attributed to Galbraith, ST 041197. That is similarly incomplete. (Alfred was, however, a keen letter-writer.)

The diary opens with several pages of addresses of family and friends, then begins [as written, with gramatical and spelling errors as written] 'Sailed on 23rd Nov at 1.28pm on the R.M.S. Ceramic now A40 Troopship. Stopped inside the heads for the night a steamed out of the Heads at a early Hour. On Wednesday the weather very fine until we got into the Great Australian Bight but was not very rough. We never saw land until we were near Cape Leuwin and then about 20 or so miles out passed two Troop [ships] going towards Victoria and the other I could not get the name. Second wa the [space] which left about two days before us. But it went in a northern direction. There was the [space] going towards Victoria. Since then we have not signted anything but miles of water. The food on board is very good boiled mutton, peas cab. pots and for tea boiled fruits [?] but not tea to drink at lunch-tme.

'There are 3,500-odds men on board (2,700 troops)...Galbraith goes on to describe the ceremony to mark the crossing of the equator, passing other ships, rounding the Cape, and passing land. Galbraith then switches from pencil to pen, and records: 'There was much to note after till we got to Port Said where we remained for 1 day. We disembarked next day and which was 18th we landed on lighters at 12 o'clock & then we retrained for Ismalia where we camped. The town is not much to speak of it is a very dirty [crossed out] altogether the prettiest part is the gardens...' The diary ends here. Further names and addresses follow, including E. Marsden, #28032, A Company. The back of the diary includes a range of notes and lists.

The diary includes diagrams and descriptions of electrical and engineering ideas. Galbraith also records a poem/song labelled 'When Sands of the Desert Grows Cold':

'When the stew in the dixies grows cold
and the grease round your teeth does enfold
I think with a tear that a good glass of beer
would make it much easier to hold.
The bread and the jam have grown old
and our boots have been heeled and half soled,
And the parson will say
Now lads let us pray
Till the stew in the
dixies grows cold.'

The song 'Till the Sands of the Desert Grow Cold' was written in 1911 by Geo. Graff Jnr, with music by Renest R. Ball. It is essentially a religious song, and has been re-worded. Its original words included: 'Till the sands of the dessert grow cold, And their infinite numbers are told, God gave thee to me, And mine thou shalt be, Forever to have and to hold.' Galbraith's wording is closer to another World War I song, 'Till the stew in the dixie grows cold', in HT 8453, Booklet - V.C. Marshall, 'Camp Songs', Melbourne, circa 1916.

Tucked into the back cover of the diary are small three typed cards, each inscribed 'PETER PAN CIGARETTES. This packet is presented to an Australian Soldier fighting for the Empire by... ' Each card has a name and address filled in by hand - St Kilda, Essendon and Hawthorn. Also in the back cover is a tiny fragment of frabic, woven with four flags: British, French, Belgium and Russia. It is contained in a slip of paper labelled 'E. Marsden / 12 Coliayn [?] Terrace / N. Wales / England'.

Physical Description

Red book with gold lettering, Collins Gentleman's Diary No 178 for 1916. Diary contains Calendar for 1916-1917, Common note for the Year 1916, Commonwealth of Australia rates of postage, Money Order information, Telegram information, Cable rates, Foreign Consuls, Foreign Moneys Approximate English equivalents, Offices in London, Australasian Governors, and Distance table by water. Also contains people's addresses and note of the Soldier's travels and small electrical drawings. Has elastic to keep diary closed.

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