The Diary of Trooper Jack Shepherd
4th Waikato Mounted Rifles - NZMR.
Above: A reflective Jack Shepherd recovering in England - November 1915. Transcribed by Margaret Shepherd (daughter) and Steve Butler -2008
First entry in diary begins on February 23rd 1915 - the Mounted Rifles have arrived in Egypt from New Zealand by troopship in December 1914 - they await developments of the war - at present they are stationed outside of Cairo in a role of protecting the Suez Canal - Most soldiers believe they will see little action in a war that is taking place across Europe hundreds of miles away..
We were informed we were to go for a four days trek march. Got all our gear ready and left camp by 9.30am. Went out in the direction of the Ishmalia Canal, struck the canal about 11am, followed along canal banks until noon. Then we halted watered and fed our horses and had our lunch. After lunch we continued our course along the canal for about four miles, then we crossed canal and went out in the direction of Nawa, crossed the main Suez to Cairo railway about 4pm and then pushed on for about 2 miles and bivouacked for the night about two miles south of Nawa. Travelled about 15 miles all day.
Reveille at 5am. Got up and took our horses to Nawa for water. After feeding and watering our horses we rolled up our swags and put them on the transport wagons ready to be conveyed to our next camping ground. We left camp about 6.30am and followed the Suez railway to a place called Chebin—El Kanaber where we again struck the Ishmalia Canal. We had our lunch near Chebin—El Kanaber. We struck a native village named Bilbeis about 4pm. We passed through the village and again crossed the canal where we camped for the night. We travelled 27 miles during the day.
Reveille at 5am. Got up took our horses to the canal for water, fed up and had breakfast put our swags on wagons ready for shifting. Left camp about 6.30am followed the canal for a few miles until we struck the Suez railway. We followed the railway until we reached Chebin—El Kanaber where we halted and had our lunch alongside a small canal that runs alongside the railway. We reached the same place as we camped on Tuesday night about 5pm and bivouacked for the night. We were all as thirsty as could be and had to walk about 2 miles for water. Travelled about 27 miles.
Reveille at 4am. We got up and took our horses to Nawa to water. We were well on the road before daylight, We followed the railway along to Nawa and crossed the railway line and struck out in the direction of the canal which we arrived at about 10am. When we arrived at the canal we started a sham fight, the enemy were a body of the Australian Light Horse. The battle lasted about seven hours, after the fight we all came back to camp after a very long tiring day. We travelled about 16 miles.
We were allowed to sleep in until 6am. It was quite a treat to stay in bed until daylight. Put in morning cleaning rifle and saddlery. Had afternoon to ourselves. Stayed in camp and slept.
Had church parade in morning. Holiday in afternoon. Too hard up to go toCairo so stayed in camp and wrote some letters.
Inspection of kit bags and all saddlery gear. Rumours around that we are leaving for the front soon.
Reconnoitering country north of Helmiek station. Got back to camp about 2pm. Had an easy afternoon.
Went out skirmishing east of aerodrome. Had sham fight in afternoon. Got back tocamp about dark.
Clipping horse all day. Rumours growing stronger regarding our leaving. Was on town piquet at Matarea in evening.
Had a quiet day. Got orders in afternoon to have horses ready by 9.30pm for going out trench digging. Left camp 10 pm and went out into desert where we put in rest of night digging trenches.
Digging trenches all night before. Left for camp about 8 am. Put in rest of day sleeping.
Had church parade. Went to Cairo in afternoon.
Went out sham fighting out to No 3 tower.
Had easy day exercising horses.
Went out on desert skirmishing
Easy day in camp cleaning saddlery.
Big day out in desert sham fighting with English cavalry.
Saturday 13 March
Doing bayonet exercises in morning. Had half day off in afternoon.
Sunday 14 March
Was on line orderly all day.
Monday 15 March
Reveille at 4am. Went out sham fighting with Australian Light Horse.
Rained heavy in afternoon and during night.
Tuesday 16 March
Had an easy day in camp. Rained and thundered heavy in morning.
Wednesday 17 March
Had an easy day. Got orders to be ready next morning by 7am to go on a trek to Barrage.
Thursday 18 March
Left at 7.30am for Barrage. Arrived at Barrage about 3 pm. Put up horse lines and camped under the trees on the edge of the Government gardens. Everybody was much taken by the beauty of the gardens.
Friday 19 March
At Barrage. Took the horses up to the canal and swam them. In the afternoon we had a good look around the gardens and at the Nile.
Saturday 20 March
Left Barrage for camp about daylight. Arrived home in Zeitoun camp about noon. Got paid in afternoon and went to Heliopolis in evening.
Sunday 21 March
Had church parade in morning. Put in afternoon writing letters. Went to Heliopolis in evening.
Monday 22 March
Had a big review and march past in morning. Were reviewed by Generals Maxwell and Godley.
Tuesday 23 March
Had an easy day in camp, cleaning saddlery and inspecting kits. Received letter from JB and J Marsh.
Wednesday 24 March
Exercising horses in morning and doing bayonet drill in afternoon.
Received bundle of papers from home.
Thursday 25 March
Exercising horses and doing bayonet drill
Friday 26 March
Exercising horses in morning and doing signalling and bayonet drill in afternoon. Maori contingent arrived from NZ.
Saturday 27 March
Some of the 3rd Reinforcement Mounted men arrived last night.
Sunday 28th -
Sunday 28 March — Tuesday 13 April
Wednesday 14 April At Zeitoun. Infantry left for Dardanelles.
Thursday 15th -
19th April 1915
Thursday 15 April — Monday 19 April
Tuesday 20 April
At Zeitoun. Met Alan Maxwell.
Wednesday 21 April
Went to Field Hospital suffering tonsillitis.
Thursday 22 April
Transferred to Abbasieh Hospital at Pont de Koubeh.
Friday 23 April — Saturday 1 May
Sunday 2 May
In hospital. A lot of my mates came down to see me in afternoon.
Monday 3 May
Discharged from hospital and went back to Zeitoun camp.
Tuesday 4 May
Exercising horses. Went out under palm trees.
Wednesday 5 May
Exercising horses. Went out to palm grove.
Thursday 6 May
At camp. Went to Cairo in afternoon.
Friday 7 May
Orders came out that the Mounted Brigade was to go to the
Dardanelles as infantry.
Saturday 8 May
Broke camp in afternoon. Gave all our saddles and Base Kits into IMS. Left camp at 8.30pm and marched to Zeitoun station where we entrained for Alexandria.
Sunday 9 May
Arrived at Alexandria 4am and marched straight on to our transport Grantully Castle. Left the wharf about 6pm with 2400 men on board.
Monday 10 May
At sea. Passed several battleships and transports conveying men back to Alexandria.
Tuesday 11 May
At sea. Sighted some islands. Passing groups of cultivated islands all day.
Wednesday 12 May
Arrived at the mouth of the Dardanelles near Gallipoli Peninsula. Name of place where we landed is Gaba Tepe. The Straits were full of battleships and transports. Left the ship about 4pm and boarded Torpedo Destroyer. One man was wounded in boat by bullet. Landed at Walkers Hill about 6pm and bivouacked in the scrub in Shrapnel Gully. Posted 3 Field Service Postcards to Mother, G Darke, A Rollinson.
Thursday 13 May
Shifted from our position into trenches where we relieved the RMLI [Royal Marines Light Infantry]. Put in day digging out suitable places to sleep in and getting things straightened up. The Turks were firing on our trenches all the time. At 6pm part of our troop mounted for guard, the hours were two on and four off, which gave each of us two shifts during the night. The Turkish fire was very heavy all night but no damage was done, only the AMRMG Sqt. [Auckland Mounted Rifles Machine Gun Sergeant] was shot by a sniper, but not seriously hurt.
Friday 14 May
Still in trenches. Went down to sea for swim in afternoon. The Turkish fire was heavy all day and night. Our troop was on sentry all night again. A good deal of shrapnel was fired at us during the day from a battery which cannot be located by our troops. The battleships bombarded the Turks’ trenches.
Saturday 15 May
Still in trenches. Went to sea for bathe in evening. In evening we relieved some 4th [Waikato-AMR] troops of duty in the fire trench. We had to keep awake all night. It was a hard job to keep awake owing to our being on duty the two previous nights. The snipers came within a few yards of our trenches during the night. We did a good deal of sniping and sapping during our stay in the fire trench. Posted PC [postcard to] Mother.
Sunday 16 May In sapping trench all day. We were heavily shelled by shrapnel but no damage. Our troops put in most of day sapping and sniping enemy. In evening we were relieved by the 3rd AMR. We then shifted to rest trenches where we were to have 48 hours off duty.
Monday 17 May
In rest trenches. We were heavily shelled by shrapnel in the morning but no damage was done. Carrying water from Depot about 1 1/2 miles away in morning. In afternoon went for swim in sea. The battleships bombarded a small Turkish village about 5 miles from shore, the reason for bombarding it was the Turkish reinforcements were passing through it. The battleships’ gunfire completely demolished the village.
Tuesday 18 May
We were heavily shelled by Turkish shrapnel in the morning, no damage was done. Went for bathe in morning and were digging pits to sleep in afternoon. Captain Black and SM [Sergeant Major] Marr were shot by snipers in morning. Our squad relieved 3rd AMR from firing and support trenches at 6 pm. About 12 pm we were all turned out. An alarm was given that the Turks were advancing.
Wednesday 19 May
We all turned out at 12 pm and stood to arms. We could hear the Turks advancing on us. About 3.30am as it was just nearing daylight a general attack was made. We replied with heavy rifle fire. A fierce fight followed until about 9.30 am. Finally the enemy retreated, leaving hundreds of dead and wounded on the field. Our machine guns wrought havoc among the Turks. The Turks’ losses were estimated at 3000. In trenches all day and night. The 4th Waikato lost 8 killed 7 wounded. It was very exciting to be under heavy fire for the first time. As they advanced they were shouting and crying “Allah Allah” all the time.
Thursday 20 May
In trenches all night without sleep. Turks made several attacks on us without success. In evening we were relieved by CMR and shifted into support trenches where we got a few hours sleep. About 5 pm some Turks were seen advancing with white flag. An armistice was called while the Turks gathered their dead and wounded. As soon as it was over the rifles and cannon began firing once more. Went to rest trenches in evening where we stayed night.
Friday 21 May
In rest trenches in morning. One man was wounded by shrapnel. In evening we were posted to No 5 Sap where we stayed all night. Went for swim in morning. Turks were very quiet during our stay in trenches.
Saturday 22 May
In sap trenches until about 1 pm. We were then relieved by the Australian LH. We then packed up our kits and marched to the top of Shrapnel Gully where we were allotted dugouts in rest trenches where we are to have a couple of days rest. Rained heavy in the morning.
Sunday 23 May
In rest trenches. It was grand to be able to sleep in as long as we liked. Went down to sea for swim in morning. Slept in all afternoon. There was not much shooting on either side during day. Received a welcome mail from home, 1 letter from Mother, Dot 2, JB 1, GD 1, George 1.
Monday 24 May
In rest trenches. The Turks asked for an armistice to bury the dead and collect the wounded. It was granted to them from 7.30 am to 4.30 pm. It was quite strange to have it so quiet. Not a shot was fired on either side while it lasted. The Turks came to within a few yards of our trenches picking up the dead. About 3pm a party of 16 of us were told off to go sapping. We took 24 hours rations and went up to the trenches where we started sapping about 8 pm.
Tuesday 25 May
In sap trenches. Rained heavy in morning and made everything horribly muddy and wet. A torpedo fired by a submarine sank the battleship HMS Triumph in the afternoon. It took 15 minutes from the time the torpedo struck until the battleship was sunk out of sight.
Wednesday 26 May
In rest trenches all day. Were heavily shelled by shrapnel in evening. Three 4th [Waikato] men were wounded but not seriously. Went for swim.
Thursday 27 May
Shifted our gear and things and made dugouts for ourselves in Shrapnel Gully. Two 4th men wounded by shrapnel. Our troop was detailed to go to the trenches sapping. We went up and started work about 10pm and worked until 6 am. Another battleship the Majestic was sunk by torpedoes.
Friday 28 May
Came out of saps at 6am and came back to our dugouts. Went down and had a couple of swims. Mail arrived from NZ. Received 2 letters, 1 Tiny and 1 JB also some photos taken by Tiny. Put in remainder of day resting. Very little shooting all day on either side.
Saturday 29 May
A big attack was made on our trenches in the early hours of the morning. On one occasion the Turks captured part of our trenches but the Australians made a bayonet charge and recovered them again. Our losses were small but the Turkish losses are supposed to be very heavy. Left rest camp at 6 am and went road making all day. Were heavily shelled by shrapnel. One 4th man wounded.
Sunday 30 May
Still in dugouts. Turks fairly active all day. A great deal of firing was done by our outposts. We have been heavily shelled by shrapnel and have had to lie low most of the time. We got orders a few hours ago to get ready in 20 minutes to go and reinforce outposts but were sent back to our dugouts and told to wait in readiness. Three 4th men were wounded by bullets. Left dugouts and went to reinforce outposts about 10pm. The outpost was in a very tight corner.
Monday 31 May
Reinforced outposts about 2am and covered their retreat by rifle fire. We stayed on duty until about 9 am and then came back to dugouts where we put in rest of day resting. Were heavily shelled by shrapnel, 5 men wounded. Went for three swims during day.
Tuesday 1 June
Left dugouts at 7am and went trenching until lunchtime. At lunchtime we were told to shift our belongings to a new site as the shrapnel was making it too hot for us. Shifted everything and settled down in our new position about 4 pm. Went for swim. Beautiful day. Things pretty quiet.
Wednesday 2 June
Still in dugouts at top of reserve gully. Went trenching at 8 am. Went for 2 swims. It was rather unsafe in the water as the snipers were firing on us from the hills. They shot 2 men and wounded 8. One 4th [Waikato] man was wounded by himself, caused while cleaning revolver. Fine day.
Thursday 3 June
Still in dugouts at top of reserve gully. Was on sentry previous night so was privileged to sleep in all day. Went to sea & had swim. Our Regt. went out as inlying picquet all night. Received letter from MA Tas.
Friday 4 June
We were informed on return from picquet we were to go to the trenches. We got up to the trenches about 1 pm where we relieved the 9th Regt Light Horse. Our troop was posted in support trenches in readiness to reinforce main fire trench if necessary. Our flank put in a good deal of shooting during the night to keep the enemy on our flank engaged, as the other flank was engaged in taking enemy’s trenches. It was officially announced they had captured 8000 Turks.
Saturday 5 June
In support trenches until 2.30 pm. We then moved into main fire trench where we could see enemy’s trenches within 100 yards of us. We did a good deal of sniping during day, but enemy kept their heads well down and we could not do much damage. We were shelled by shrapnel in morn. One man in AMR MG Sect was wounded and died later.
Sunday 6 June
After relieving men on duty in fire trench day before, we put in the whole night standing to arms. We did a good deal of sniping during the night. The Australians captured a Turk spy in their trenches. He was dressed as an Australian. At 2.30 we were relieved by the 3rd and 11th squads 7 came out into rest trenches for 24 hours rest, where we had to carry water and stores for the Regt. It was not much of a rest as we were working all the time. Went down for a swim in the evening. Posted 2 letters, 1 Mother and 1 FSPC to A W Blyth. One 4th man wounded by shrapnel.
Monday 7 June
Went back into communication trench 2.30.
At 4 pm two sections out of 4th Troop had to go in to reinforce No 1 Troop in fire trench. We had tc. stand to arms in fire trench practically all night. We came back to reserve trench after stand-to in morning. Read bundle of letters from NZ. 2 Mother and JB, 2 Dot and Nan and George and J Marsh and bundle of papers from home. One 4th [Waikato] man wounded by sniper.
Tuesday 8 June
Went to fire trench 2.30 pm. The enemy were rather active about 10 pm. A great many bombs were thrown by them. Luckily for us most of them burst outside the trench. One burst in no.2 sap and knocked several men over, but only one was wounded. His presence of mind saved a good deal of damage, as he put an overcoat over it as soon as it landed in the trench. In the morning we found a dead Turk just outside the trench. We must have shot him in the act of throwing bombs.
Wednesday 9 June
In fire trench until 2.30 pm. We then came out into rest dugouts where we are to have 24 hours off duty. Went down to depot for water. It still continues to be grand weather.
Thursday 10 June
In dugouts until 2.30 pm. We then went back to fire trench. Things were pretty quiet all day. We were amusing ourselves doing a bit of sniping. Posted 2 PCs: 1 Mother, 1 Aunty Grace.
Friday 11 June
In fire trench until 3pm. We then came out into support trenches. Things very quiet. It was very dusty in trenches as it was blowing a gale all day. Went around to depot for water in aft.
Saturday 12 June
In support trenches until 2.30pm. We then went to rest dugouts. At 7.30pm four of us mounted guard at Headquarters over the ammunition where we stayed 24 hours.
Sunday 13 June
On ammunition guard all day. At 8pm we were relieved by 11th Squadron. We then went to support trenches. The Turks heavily shelled the Indian mountain batteries with a 75 gun captured from the French. They never did any harm, though shells were bursting everywhere. Posted 2 PCs: 1 Grandma 1 Julia.
Monday 14 June
At 2.30pm we took up our posts in fire trench. My section was posted in No.3 sap where we stayed until 12pm. We were then relieved by another section. The Turks were fairly quiet during the night, although they were continually putting up star shells. They seemed to be afraid of us attacking them.
Tuesday 15 June
In fire trench until 2.30pm. Were then relieved by 3rd Squad. Went out of trenches into dugouts and went down for a swim. The water was lovely and there was a rather heavy sea running. It still continues to be beautiful weather.
Wednesday 16 June
In dugouts until 2.30. We then relieved the 11th Squad from duty in the fire trench. Light rain in morning. Went for a swim. C.Munn died on 15th from wounds received on 6th.
Thursday 17 June
Everything fairly quiet. We were in the fire trench until 2.30 when we were relieved by the 11th Squad. Went out into reserve where we were heavily shelled by shrapnel. Willoughby was badly wounded and W Haddock was wounded in the head. He died shortly after. In the evening a party of four of us including F Marsh and myself took Haddock’s body down to the burial ground near the depot where we buried him. Posted PC to Mother.
Friday 18 June
Out in supports until 12 noon. We were then relieved by the 9th Australian Light Horse. We came down to rest camp by the beach. Went for swim in aft. Grand weather. Got tot of rum in evening in memory of the anniversary of Waterloo. We all wished the anniversary would come oftener. Mr. Milliken our Lieut. took charge of No.1 Troop and we got our new Lieut. Mr. Mackesy who was transferred from 11th Squad. Mr. Henderson took over No.2 Troop. Sgt Jurd [?] promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and transferred to 11th Squad.
Saturday 19 June
In rest dugouts in Reserve Gully. In afternoon got mail from NZ, 2 letters from Julia Shepherd and 1 paper and Weekly from somebody, I don’t know who they came from as there are no names and don’t know writing.
Sunday 20 June.
In spell dugouts. Were shelled by enemy’s shrapnel from gun situated near the village of Anna Fata. Most of our squad went to fire line sapping. Went for swim. It is grand not having to stand to arms. We can sleep in as long as we like.
Monday 21 June
In spell dugouts. Whole Regt. on inlying picquet from 3 pm today for 24 hours. Good deal of shrapnel knocking about. Put in part of afternoon making dugouts for reinforcements who are expected in a few days.
Tuesday 22 June
On inlying picquet until 3pm. Good deal of shrapnel knocking about. Went down for swim in evening. Received mail, 1 Weekly [Auckland Weekly News], Waikato papers, mouth organ, and photo from Grace Dark. Beautiful weather.
Wednesday 23 June
In rest dugouts. Went to firing line at 3pm to do sapping. While we were up sapping we were heavily shelled by 75 gun, which did a considerable deal of damage. A good many Australians were badly wounded and killed. One 4th man wounded. Our Major Tattersall went to hospital with dysentery.
Thursday 24 June
In rest camp. Gun from Anna Fata shelled us with shrapnel during day. Went down to depot for swim and got water. Beautiful weather.
Friday 25 June
In rest camp. Went swimming, was on lookout at top of hill to give warning when gun from Anna Fata fired. The Lord Nelson, sister ship to Queen Elizabeth, came up under escort of a number of torpedo destroyers. She lay out in the harbour and bombarded some place inland. Grand weather. Posted PC to Mother.
Saturday 26 June
In rest camp. Went for water and had a swim in morning. At 4pm a party of 4 Troop went to fire trench sapping until 12 midnight. One 4th [Waikato] man killed with shrapnel. Good weather.
Sunday 27 June
In rest camp. On inlying picquet from 7.30 am until 7.30 Monday 28th. In aft were ordered to top of Walker’s Ridge below Brigade Hdqrs where we put in 27 [?] hrs widening trenches. Out trenches were heavily shelled by enemy shrapnel and howitzer in morning. 52 casualties. One 4th man wounded, Owen Jones of AMR MG Sect. Posted letters to Dot and J Sutton.
Monday 28 June
Came back to rest trenches from Walker’s Ridge. Had rest of day to ourselves. A great deal of bombarding took place down at Cape Hellas. Our troops supposed to have advanced agood way on right flank. Landed big numbers of men on right flank. Went for swim in evening. Fine weather. Posted PC [Postcard] to Father and W Baker.
Tuesday 29 June
In rest camp. Left for 12 hours sapping in trenches at 7am. Came back in evening. The Turks made an attack on our left flank in the evening but were repulsed with heavy losses. The Australian losses were 9 killed and about 30 wounded.
Wednesday 30 June
On inlying picquet from 7.30am until 7.30pm. On 1st July went up to trenches sapping from 9 am till 1pm. Reinforcements arrived for Auckland Mounted Rifles, 107 all told. 43 for 4th Squad. Had a thunderstorm in evening. Rained heavy.
(5th May08) 13/453 Trooper Edwin (Jack) Shepherd 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles.
Horses from the Auckland Mounted Rifles of number one troop cross the Barrage Delta during training, Egypt April 1915.
I am continually being surprised by the material that is offered to the Association almost on a weekly basis. However the quality and amount of material supplied yesterday has left me speechless. Margaret Shepherd has kept everything her father sent back from the Great War, and the wealth of information within letters, postcards and diaries is quite frankly - amazing.
It will take me some time to scan the 57 separate photographs. Most of which arrived in New Zealand as postcards, and contain written messages on the reverse of each one. Further letters number about twenty - but the Gallipoli Diary is a full catalog of events worthy of national record.
What I have noticed over the years, is that letters and tales from soldiers who fought at Anzac come from men who were previously wounded, or sick, and hospitalised prior to August 7th 1915. Unfortunately those who were fit and in the trenches on that night of the 7th were destined to take part on the breakout attack on Chunuk Bair. As we are all aware this was a disaster and the men involved died in their thousands. For the Auckland Mounted Rifles there was a huge cost of men. There are hardly any first hand accounts from soldiers who took part in that attack. Too many tombstones on Galliploi have the inscription "August 8th 1915". Jack Shepherd was one of the very few to climb the heights and come back to tell the tale.
He writes in his diary: "...We had to stand up in the open and were mown down by machine guns and shrapnel. What was left of the AMR retired from the firing line about midnight. None of our officers were left and only a few men were alive..."
Above: The colourised photo of Jack was taken while convalescing in England, November 1915. The photo postcard on the right he sent home early in the year, and has written on the back: "Another view of operations at Barrage Delta. Horses being swam by means of an endless rope. Number one Troop horses at present in the water. One of these horses very nearly got drowned owing to his getting tangled up in the rope. We stayed at Barrage three days and I don't think one will find a prettier place than it. - I remain Yours Affect Bro - C.W. Shepherd - Zeitoun 7/4/15" Click HERE for Jack on his horse.
The following month they were in bitter fighting on Gallipoli.
pages being transcribed and will be posted shortly.