Cobbers In Khaki - The History of the 8th Battalion, by Ronald James Austin

By Ronald James Austin

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By the end of January, the troops had been well practiced in advance guard formations and attacks. " Little did the CO know that events occurring to the east were soon to involve his battalion and break that monotony . In January, a large Turki h force consisting of three columns commenced its arduous march across the forbidding Sinai Desert with the aim of capturing the Suez Canal and threatening Cairo. Reconnaissance had already alerted tlle British to the presence of Turkish troops in the Sinai, and on the night -28- mE SANDS OF EGYPT of 3rd February, small parties of Turks from the 25th Division, attempted to cross the Canal just to the north of Serapeum, but all were repulsed.

The delights of the local countryside captivated Private Turnbull: After landing and skirmishing over some hills, we had a spell. It was good to he amongst the clover, oats, sweet pea and poppies after the everlasting sands ofMena. Similar sentiments were also expressed by Private David Mills of No 8 Platoon, B Company, but his wish to return to Lemnos was soon thwarted when he was killed during the Landing at Anzac: We have hegun to get a hit discontented with our lot, as we are packed uncomfortahly tight, hut the welcome hreak was made yesterday when our Company had their turn to go on shore ...

They are a rough devil may care lot. The 8th Battalion'S first Christmas away from home wa a most forgettable on , as the Christmas dinner left a Jot to be desired. Although the menu consisted of "inevitabl tew" and rice and rai ins, some of the men augmented the stark meal with buns, jam and oranges. After lunch some of the men climbed the Cheops Pyramid and later had bread and jam for tea. Despite the paUCity of the festivities, Private Taylor still described it as "a bOl1Zer day". Cyril Btyant, a 24 year old motor trimmer from Ballarat, dutifully wrote to his mother on Christmas Day: Pte Cyril Bryant.

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