Posted on: Tuesday April 24th, 2018

Author: Kilimanjaro Consulting

ANZAC Day is a day to reflect on the sacrifices of the brave men and women that lost their lives to secure our freedom. Extract from ‘The World War 1 Diaries of John “Jack” Phelan Volume 1.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning We will remember them.” – ‘The Ode’ taken from a poem written by Laurence Binyon

Extract 1

“In the darkness we found a gruesome sight. Some 37 of the boys were strewn all over the road; there were 40 in the party. 3 were attended to.

The first had a good blighty on the arm, his elbow was missing, I guess his arm went West.

The second chap had a piece of shell between his shoulders.

The third a pet of a wound almost across his face. We patched him up the best we could then put him on the roadside to await conveyance to the nearest D.S.

All the rest were napoo, so we shifted them off the road until daylight.

Next morning at daylight we saw one of the many queer things you only see at Wartime.

One digger was sitting quite natural, his elbows on his knees, rifle held between his knees, dead.

Next to him his pal, also in a sitting position his riddle along-side, one hand still held a bumper that had signed his two fingers.

Next to him was another pal …sitting down. He had a biscuit in his hand half-way to his mouth which was partly open. Dead.

The three of them were killed by concussion, they never had a scratch on them, such is War.

After attending to those unfortunate chaps, we turned and collected the others, who in most cases were bashed about something awful. We had to uncover them and collect their belongings for identification purposes.” p.84-85


Extract 2

“… I will give you a short sketch of the four that we met.

Number one has a fair size gash on the head, he said someone’s tin has hit him. Number Two said something hit him on the nose and broke it, he is bleeding like a pig and still manages to keep his fag alight. Number Three is covered with mud and blood; got blown up in the trench, lost the love of an ear; he seems quite satisfied with his lot. Number Four is the Dinky Die Digger you read about in War stories.

His hat is at an angle of 45 degrees, the old Woodbine[i] stuck to the corner of his mouth. He is leaning against the door of the pill box, one hand in his hip pocket, coat open. The other arm has several empty sand bags wrapped around it, tied with a thick piece of rope. He enters the pill box and returns some ten minutes later minus one arm. A fag is lit for him, he cast a stony stare back where he came from, mutters something to himself, adjures his hat and off the four of them go.

Over 400 diggers were treated at that pill box before dark set in. God only knows how many took a risk and kept on the move till out of danger. All this happened on a front just 1,000 yards long. I believe our front line was some 450 miles. Eat that.” p. 22-23 Vol 1

Extracts taken from “The World War 1 Diaries of John ‘Jack’ Francis Phelan Volume 1, (2015) Edited and Self-Published by Margaret-Anne Oxenham and Assisted by Ronnie Baskind.