Courtneys Post, Gallipoli, Turkey, during World War I, Jun 1915(
Courtneys Post – home for many of the “originals”   –   Photo taken – June 1915  Gallipoli, Turkey – Courtesy (


The June Diary AWM4  report from Gallipoli shows a major shift in the work required from the Engineers of the 1st FCE. While the month of May had been random employment maintaining and building jetties, constructing trenches and grading artillery roads, the whole offensive strategy was now focused on trenching and tunneling. The expert hands of surveyors, draughtsman, mining engineers and the sappers, would now underpin the campaign’s ability to sustain or gain valuable ground at Gallipoli.

The June war diary is full of detailed trench and tunnel data and the scope of works conducted by the engineers. The diary slowly builds through out the month and one can see the detail surrounding trenching and tunneling becoming more significant.  The details may be shy of mentioning those men specifically involved, but it clearly shows the vast amount of work the engineers were engaged during the month of June.


Trench Shrapnel Gully P02226.016
Trench Shrapnel Gully P02226.016


Work detailed included the re- bedding and improving of existing saps, regrading of roads and gully’s. The continual repair and replacements of parapets. The construction of observation tunnels at “Courtney’s Post”, additional loophole preparations. Tunnel cross cuts and formation of listening galleries.

Very few days were involved in what was described as of a “general nature” as the enemy shelling on these days was too heavy, a reminder that they were always exposed to danger as the tunnelling and sapping was not so covert and was under constant scrutiny and engagement by the Turks.

The tunnelling strategy was equally important to the Turks, and the underground game of “tunnel – chess” between the Anzac’s and the Turk’s meant building listening trenches was vital to determining the next move, which trench or tunnel to “blow-in” or when to make a change of direction.

A short chronology of the June Diary AWM4 – 1st Field Company Engineers  follows highlighting the men mentioned……………

June 3rd ….. non-commissioned officers 2/Cpl 110 Gordon Wilson,  2/Cpl 30 Donald Mackay,  L/Cpl 66 Norman Masters volunteered for some “blow-in” work but an infantry raid had prevented the operation from proceeding.

11th June to 13th June

“Experiments commenced making , bomb screens of wire netting for the trenches, barbed wire obstacles for placement on trenches…….barbed wire entanglements placed in front of Barbed Wire Gully”

June 13th

Lieut. Dyer behaved with great coolness in preparing and tamping  charge and gallery in a cramped space 97 feet in, candle constantly going out owing to bad ventilation 22 feet down from the surface”

This was the just the start of a great display of heroics from Lieut Richard Dyer.

On another occasion specifically mentioned were..….”Sapper Hirst and Davis employed nightly on this job (a job identified by  code numbers C8, C7a)  and both doing good work in spite of being under fire every time they went out”…….…. June 14th



The list of men above was prepared by sapper  90 George Chisholm under the instructions of  Lieut. Bachtold . These men were stationed at “Courtney’s Post” between June and August, this was their home for the next three months.   Sketch 38 also above,  is a trench and tunnel diagram as drawn by Lieut. Bachtold , showing the position of Courtney’s Post and positions of new work tunnel D10B and tunnel D14 . Lieut Bachtold had an initimate knowledge of D10 as he was not afraid to crawl around and lay barbed wire entanglements while under fire.

It is very possible some of the men on this list are in the header photo of Courtneys Post as it was taken in June 1915.  Impossible as it is to identify them, it is somewhat comforting to see them going about their daily routine as ” Courtneys Post” had become home to many of the original sappers.


 213 Roy Denning  was wounded on the 16th June by shrapnel and thought it was simply a flesh wound until he realised it had pierced straight through his leather belt and only just missed his spine “by a whisker”. Roy was lucky to be wearing his belt. The doctors arrived quickly, warning Roy it was going to hurt, then removed the shrapnel with a knife,  and he was then stretchered off to the hospital ship.

 213 Roy Denning
213 Roy Denning

(Roy’s personal story is available on his own pages)

19th June…….250 Fred Wicks was not happy about his wounding either, he was happy to dismiss it as a minor flesh wound. He was wounded by shrapnel whilst delivering crates of biscuits. His wound was considered far more serious than he later described in his letters to his family, but that was Fred’s nature…………………..

250 Frederick Charles Wicks
250 Frederick Charles Wicks

(Fred’s personal story is available on his own page)

Both Fred Wicks and Roy Denning would return to Gallipoli, and would see the distance throughout the war and both would later distinguish themselves in the field.

On the 19th June  sadly the sappers lost another original,  Cpl 239 Hugh Colquhoun… died from wounds, the circumstances of which are still unknown. His name was later included with other engineers on the famous memorial cross……………..

239 Cpl. Hugh Colquhoun
239 Cpl. Hugh Colquhoun

(His memory and personal story is available on his page)

June 23rd……. Lieut. Bachtold went out in front of D10 last night at great personal risk, laid a series of barbed entanglements in front of position. Rifle fire continuous during the whole time he was out from snipers concealed in valley”.………………Both Lieut Richard Dyer and Lieut. Henry Bachtold were officers who never hesitated to lead by example. Their early days at Gallipoli as young officers always willing to lead at the front was outstanding and just a taste of what was so characteristic of these great men.

June 25th…….Major Corlette was admitted to hospital with general debility.

June 26th……. also mentioned were …. Littler transferred to special duties records, Downton replaced Littler as Storeman and L/Cpl Oliver replaced Downton

June 28th……..35 Sapper Walter Robertson was wounded with rifle fire to head and nose. This “rough carpenter” was a very tough individual, he would return to Gallipoli and was later awarded a Military Medal……………………….

(His personal story is available on his page)


On the 30th June Lieut Biden had gone to hospital with diarrhoea.


For the officers and ranks of the various Field Companies, June was a heavy month of planning, preparing new trench’s and tunnels.  The tunneling strategy was now a major commitment from the ANZAC Forces, and what  became known as the “The German Officers Trench” had become a strategic target in the eyes of the command and would become the main focus for the ensuing months, ultimately leading to a number of assaults that would distinguish a few more of the originals in the field………………………….


Sources:AWM, NAA, NLA

Courtneys Post – home for many of the “originals”   –   Photo taken – June 1915  Gallipoli, Turkey – Courtesy NZ Government (

Link to PDF 1st FCE  Diaries AWM4  June 1915

Link to PDF 1st FCE Diaries AWM4  June – August 1915

Anzac Digger -Roy & Lorna Denning


Gallipoli 19th June – 239 Hugh Colquhoun

239 Cpl. Hugh Colquhoun


239 Hugh Colquhoun

Hugh was 30 years old, a native of Greenoch, Scotland. He was an Engine Fitter with considerable experience and also had been in the royal engineers as a Corporal for 12 years.

According to Hugh’s sister, when he arrived in Australia he was working for the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation in Western Australia. Both his parents were deceased and his brother and sister lived in Scotland.

Prior to enlisting he had been living with his auntie, Mrs Gamble, in Pyrmont Sydney and unknown to his aunty he had a girlfriend…… Mary Singleton of Randwick, which he was intending to wed.

Unfortunately Hugh died from wounds on the 19th June 1915,  Gallipoli… circumstances unknown.


Cpl H. Colquhoun 239
Cpl H. Colquhoun 239

After his death at Gallipoli, his estate was argued by his auntie, Mrs Gamble and his fiance’ Mary Singleton.

The records initially showed his NOK was in fact his girlfriend Mary Singleton and by her account they were intending to marry and she knew of his aunty and Hugh’s living arrangements with his aunty. She received his personal effects after the war and most correspondence was related to her via solicitors.

However the Auntie was quite concerned that this was not the case as she believed her nephew had …“never met this woman”… and that… “he must have been under the influence of drink” when this information was taken down.

It would appear that auntie Gamble did not approve of Miss Mary Singleton…… and sadly his memory was somewhat hijacked by these circumstances.

A later copy of his attestation shows an update to his file as his brother Charles in 1920 was officially now his NOK. His brother later received photos of his burial site.

Hugh’s memory is preserved forever at the Beach Cemetery- Gallipoli and the AWM Honour Roll and his name was hand cut in the cross erected by his mates in the 1st FCE.





Hugh’s place of burial is the Beach Cemetery (Plot I, Row K, Grave No. 2), Gallipoli, Turkey

 Hugh’s own page is available for additional information ……………...please read more




In memory of 214 Lewis DYSON

Searching for a Portrait
Searching for a Portrait

214 Lewis Dyson enlisted at Leeton, NSW. He was nearly 31 years old, born in Huddersfield Yorkshire England.

He was a well-travelled man, previously having spent 5 years in China involved in civil works programs, and unconfirmed , but highly likely was a civil engineer involved with the new Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area Project in Leeton NSW.

Living and working in Leeton at this time had a promising future, the irrigation works planned by the NSW government were some of the largest in scale ever undertaken and the surrounding areas were no doubt set to prosper with employment and farming opportunities. Lewis Dyson had been in Leeton long enough to make it his new home, establishing close friendships and many associations as his story reveals.

When Lewis was at Gallipoli, he wrote to friends in Leeton, who had his letters published in the “Murrumbidgee Irrigator”.  His letters on the landing at Gaba Tepe and life at Anzac would have been gripping,  and he would later pay tribute in a letter about his good friend “Bozzie” who was killed in action.

“EVERY evening after the bombardment for the last month he and I have sat together up on the hill just behind the trench and smoked and yarned before turning in. We used to look out to sea and the peaceful islands and talk about old times and times to come ‘after the war,’ and the meals we would have some day, and things like that.”……….214 Lewis Dyson

After the war Lewis returned to Leeton, perhaps trying to take up his career where it left off before the war. Evidence suggests that it may have been difficult and short lived as he moved about visiting China, New Zealand and America.

By the early 1930’s Australia was in the grip of the world economic depression, Lewis was now 50 years old , he was divorced and his wife had remarried and he had been unemployed for 18 months with only the occasional work .

On the morning of the 24th March 1933 , Lewis jumped, “wilfully casting himself “ from the pylon of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 He was a man who had seen the world for better or for worse, a man who even in the trenches at Gallipoli  had dreams of returning  home from war and enjoying the “times to come after the war”.  Things were definitely difficult for Lewis and we will never know how unwell he must have been to take his own life, but on that fateful day ….. he decided he had tried and done enough.

His story is now on his own page ……………..Please Read More

Story Copyright© VanceKelly2015

Archival Film – Engineers Moore Park, Sydney


The Australian War Memorial has Archival footage of the Engineers camp at Moore Park, Sydney. Possibly filmed anywhere from late 1915 to early 1916 as still photographs from this footage were published in the “Sydney Mail’, on March 1st, 1916.

The film is in extraordinary condition and captures what it must have been like for the men of the 1st FCE as this was their home up to their embarkation a few months earlier on October 18.

It gives a panoramic view of the Engineers camp and footage of the Engineers marching out of camp with horse-drawn wagons containing pontoon bridge equipment on their way to Centennial Park.

It shows the Engineers constructing the pontoon bridges and rowing them into positions and then tested.  A wooden footbridge is also constructed and showing its complexity. At the end, Signal training using flags, heliograph, telegraph and radio is demonstrated.


Download the Video – Actual Archival Footage




“The Sturdy Engineer”

1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building - "Courtesy "Bob Lundy Private Collection"
1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building – “Courtesy “Bob Lundy Private Collection”


Sapper J. W. Hutchison was not an original member of the 1st FCE,  but was later a sapper with the 14th FCE. He was clearly inspired by the men of the 1st FCE and dedicated these verses to them and the quiet achievements of the Engineer. It is a wonderful piece from the time, helping define the work of the Engineers .

The following transcript is from the Sydney Mail, Wednesday 28 June 1916

“THE writer of these verses (Sapper J. V. Hutchison, of the 14th Company, Australian Field Engineers) in a letter to the ‘Mail’ says: — ‘The Sturdy Engineer’ was written by me some time ago, and is familiar to any of the original Engineers of the First Field Company, who took part in the landing at Gaba Tepe on April 25, 1915. We have just been looking at the picture (in the Mail of December 1, 1915) of the cross that was erected to 14 of the fallen members of the 1st Company. ………….A good many of that company are now attached to this division.”

“WHEN our boys were at Gallipoli
On that fateful April day,
And the First Division landed
Where the Turkish soldier lay,
Our army suffered losses,
But they showed no sign of fear;
And among the many fallen
Was The Sturdy Engineer.

WHEN the army is advancing
Through a country rough and drear,
Who makes the roads and bridges
For the big guns in the rear?
Who clears the road of dangers
And advances without fear?
No need to ask the question
— ‘Tis The Sturdy Engineer.

WHEN, the sun it has departed,
And the army takes a rest,
There’s things that need attention
From the men who know them best;
And while the men are sleeping
We are fixing up their gear,
For the army needs the knowledge
Of The Sturdy Engineer.

WHEN the enemy is sighted,
And there are trenches to be dug,
They need the supervision
Of the man who’s not a ‘mug’;
And when there’s need for sapping
Or entanglements to clear,
They know the man to do it
Is The Sturdy Engineer.

WHEN the enemy is routed
And they rapidly retreat,
Our army then advances
On a road that’s none too neat.
For the foe have burnt the bridges
And destroyed the roads in rear;
But the damage soon is mended
By The Sturdy Engineer”

Verses Written By – Sapper  J. W. Hutchison

The Engineers spent much of their training dedicated to bridge construction. This is considered a vital and perhaps the most important combined skill of the Sappers/Engineers.

The trained engineer, the surveyor, the bush carpenter, the fitter, blacksmith, the harness maker, and all the tradies alike were all equal to the task of bridge building, the men of the Field Company Engineers would be very proud of their work and the support they provided to the troops, maintaining vital transport links and constructing roads and bridges for troop, artillery and supply movements.

The following photos below show original members of the 1st FCE enthusiastically building bridges and displaying how proud they were of their work. These photos have been kindly donated by the family of Bob Lundy from his Private Collection.



1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building - "Courtesy "Bob Lundy Private Collection"
1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building – “Courtesy “Bob Lundy Private Collection”



1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building - "Courtesy "Bob Lundy Private Collection"
1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building – “Courtesy “Bob Lundy Private Collection”



1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building - "Courtesy "Bob Lundy Private Collection"
1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building – “Courtesy “Bob Lundy Private Collection”


1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building - "Courtesy "Bob Lundy Private Collection"
1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building – “Courtesy “Bob Lundy Private Collection”


1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building - "Courtesy "Bob Lundy Private Collection"
1st FCE Sappers Bridge Building – “Courtesy “Bob Lundy Private Collection”



Sources: – Verses 4603 sapper John William Hutchison

Photos Courtesy of the Bob Lundy family  – “Bob Lundy Private Collection”



1. Looking to identify the men in these photos. Please contact us if you have any knowledge of the men in these pictures.

250 Frederick Wicks – DCM

Fred Wicks


250 Frederick Wicks was four weeks shy of the minimum enlistment age of 19 and just to make sure he would not be rejected he had a letter from his father giving consent to enlist. Fred was a young carpenter born in “Jaspers Brush” Berry NSW and living with his father in Ryde NSW.
Frederick came from a large family of 6 sisters and 4 brothers – His mother Annie Eva Wicks ( nee Miller) had died only 6 months before he enlisted, she was 56.
His father Thomas was a carter for the Ryde council and was proud to have both his son’s Fred and George (Sid) join the AIF.

Fathers letter of consent
Fathers letter of consent


His letters to his sister Eva, show a young man seemingly unaffected by the dangers of daily life at Anzac Cove.

He was “still going strong” and later describing being wounded by shrapnel as nothing serious and souveniring the pieces removed from his back and shoulder after the operation…….  Such was the spirit of this young Anzac.

The following news article in The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate , in August 1915 accompanied a picture of  250 Frederick Charles Wicks


This patriotic soldier is the youngest son of Mr. T. Wicks, of Glebe-street, Ryde, carter for the Ryde Council. He is 19 years of age and left with the Expeditionary Forces on December 22nd last. He is attached to the First Field Company of the Engineers.

Writing to his sister, Eva, from the Dardanelles on June 3rd, he says: —

“We had a pretty Warm reception on landing ashore at 4 a.m. on April 25th — bullets and shrapnel flying all round us. Have had three weeks here and still going strong.  I have met Russel Thornton, Syd Adams, and H. Craig on the field, and also J.Luckett.”

His next communication, also to his sister, was from Gallipoli Peninsula, and was dated the 10th of June.

“Just a few lines….to let you know I am still in the land of the living and enjoying the best of health. .  . . We had a pretty tough problem landing here on April. 25th, All troops were brought close to land on torpedo boats and then dumped into rowing craft. The enemy were not satisfied, with waiting for us to land but started  pegging into us in the torpedo boats.

After getting into the ‘ pleasure boats’ (but not for pleasure) we started out for land with shrapnel and bullets flying all round the boats, but the Turks are very bad shots. As soon as the boats hit bottom we had to jump out, waist deep, and for our lives for cover. All this was done before 4 o’clock in the morning. I put in the whole day dodging about and having a shot where opportunity offered. Many times during the day, whilst under the cover of a bush, the Turks had their machine guns firing all around (about 200 to 300 bullets per minute). The bullets from the machine guns were cutting the tops off the bushes and spreading them all over me. Shells were also flying in all directions. Tho warships were out from shore about six miles, and they were giving the Turks some ‘hurry up.’

“To hear the battleships firing is just like one continuous roar of thunder…………All hands have got dug outs in tho side of a hill and it is very funny, when a shell comes over to so the men duck for those shelters just like a lot of rabbits scurrying to their burrows. Thrice have I and my mate had narrow escapes from shells, which were literally landing all round us. – One landed at the foot and another at the head of our dug out, while a third plumped right inside the dug out and blow everything to pieces. We were lucky enough to be out working at the time and I have been laid up this week with a bad foot. We were working on a barge and I trod on a piece of timber with a spike in it, the spike penetrating the bottom of my foot. It will be right again in a few days. About a fortnight ago I witnessed the sinking of one of our battleships.” (Just here the censor had a go.)

The next letter Fred wrote was from Cairo; and was dated July 3rd.

“Dear Father, Sisters, and Brothers,………..,……… no doubt you will be surprised on noticing the above address, to find that I am back in Egypt again. I happened to be on the unlucky side on June 19 by getting wounded on the right shoulder with a bit a shrapnel. I happened to be out working in the open, near a black smith’s forge, which was kicking up a devil of a noise when all of a sudden a shell burst in front of me. Of course I had no time to duck for cover. All of a sudden some thing seemed to catch me on the shoulder and down I went like a log.

I was lucky enough to be near a hospital and so was soon attended to. The bullet entered the front of my right shoulder and went down my back as far as the top of my trousers. It missed the collar bone and lung and did no serious damage. I had it in my back for two days and then went under an operation when it was extracted. I have it in my pocket now and am likely to stick to it. I am still in the hospital and likely to remain here for another week or two before returning to the scene of operations. Nothing broken, but have still got the stiffness in the arm and chest. It is wearing away tip top. Excuse scribble as arm is stiff and I’m in hurry to catch mail. Fred.”


Frederick’s story is now on his own page………………………………Read More



47 John Leslie Waters

Published with permission of Owen Hughes - Waters Family Collection
Published with permission of Owen Hughes -“The Waters Family Collection”


A fine looking man, and very proud to be wearing his AIF medal. This immaculate looking gentleman is John Leslie Waters... an “original” low number 47.  Unlike the story of  many young single men going off on the “Great Adventure”,  John’s  story is unique.

He  had already experienced the loss of his dear wife, and had considerably more at stake to consider before enlisting.  His story although brief is still touching and testimony to the humble personalities of our  beloved ANZAC’S………………..Read More on his Page



Acknowledgement: The Waters Family descendants – courtesy of Owen Hughes