Tanners Journal April 1915

Shipping out tomorrow. Rather sorry to leave Egypt so soon. Some of the boys are getting restless to be off, I think, but Cairo's been grand to my mind. I remember reading about Cleopatra and the Sphinx and the old pharaohs back in school, but I never dreamed I'd be right on top of all of it. I even rode out to see the pyramids up close. I bet no other bloke from Dalby's ever done that.

Things are different than I expected them to be. All the papers talk about the terrible Germans and the Kaiser trying to take over the world and marching across France, but it's not even the Huns we'll be fighting, and they aren't sending us to Europe. One of the engineers here keeps insisting we'll go to France, whatever you tell him. I wish it was so. Sometimes I don't quite understand how all of this started, or why we're fighting the Turks as well as the Huns. But I suppose it's no difference to me. I'm just here to do my bit for Australia and my mates.

I've been through training but I'm not sure I made much of an account of myself as a shot. I'm shamed to say it, but I can't say I mind that. Truth of it is, I'm not sure I could kill a man if I were put to it. The war sounds different than the way they tell it in the papers. There's a black fellow here who says he saw battle in France. Called it a slaughter. Back home all this seemed like a grand adventure. The stories I hear from those who've been in it aren't so grand, though.

Perhaps I won't have to do much shooting in the Medical Corps. Wrap them and drag them. That's what the doctor here says we're to do. I think if I just stick to that I can manage. The medics are all good folks. There's a doctor here who talks like he's seen every part of the world. I'll have to get him to tell me some stories of Constantinople and France sometime. There's even a Pommy medic serving with us, but I like him even if he is from London.

Got to go. They're packing up the tents and loading us on the ships. Glad I got to see Cairo. Maybe we'll get to march into Constantinople before we're done.

Bill Tanner, April 1915

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