War Memoir of Robert Ellwood

Ellwood: I don’t know of any instance where wounded did not get the care and attention as much as you could possibly give them. Our doctors performed their jobs an did them well. Usually though, the doctors well kept back although those raids, they with the regiment, but if it was any other sort of a show they were behind the lines a bit, like the Magdhaba, not the Magdhaba the Gaza but the last two but they were back with advanced what do they call it, advanced dressing station or something of that description with the wounded. When I was wounded I was taken to this advanced dressing station behind our lines and we were left lying outside the medical tent, there was only one medical tent where the doctors were, and we simply had to wait our turn to be attended to and dressed and put away and that sort of business. but there was nothing untoward in my estimation.

Turnbull: When you were wounded, how did you get there? Could you walk at that stage, or were your carried back to the field dressing station?

Ellwood: I was I will tell you how I was wounded. The CO had been sent up to uh had been called up to Brigade headquarters to take over from Brigade while the Brigade commander was taken to Division where they had this confab about the watering of the horses and the fact that we had reached a stale mate at Tel e sarba and I was in with Regimental headquarters which meant signalling officer and something else I don’t know. but we were stuck in the well, a sunken well. And word came through the signallers ,we had a line running out from the to headquarters to the front line you see. run out with the signallers. Word came through that the signalling officer being killed and then we found that the line was broken.

In the meantime Billy Markland [Major W.E. Markland, temporary commander January – June 1916], who was our Second in command was in charge of the regiment. and Billy was a soldier but he wasn’t one of those that sat in an office chair – he was a man’s man and he was out in the front line all the time with the result that when word came through to me that the line was broken and the signalling officer had been killed and I was left in charge of the whole of the headquarters, in other words was the responsibility or of the show, because Bill Michael had gone out to visit Frankland who had been sent out on to occupy some huts when an advanced party a reinforcement party from Beersheba tried to march onto Tel – in – savo to reinforce it. Billy was killed by shrapnel on very open plains when he was trying to visit Frankland who was in charge of B squadron.

Well then when I didn’t want to accept the responsibility of running the whole of the regiment so I went out, I left somebody in charge at headquarters, I forget who it was, and I went out I knew where Frankland was because I had been instrumental in having him put there – and I went out to see Frankland to see if he knew where Stodart was because we had lost all control of him and Stodart was the next Senior Major and I went and I met up with Frankland where he was occupying these huts keeping this crowd of reinforcements with their heads down. They were grounded. He was doing a big job, a good job. Incidentally he got his DSL over that. And he and I wanted him to come back and take charge until such time as they could locate Stodart. he was a senior. He said, “NO” he said, “I will come with you, Ellwood”.

So we both were walking across this open flat which had been subjected to heavy artillery fire towards the waddy, where the rest of the regiment was located, with the object of seeing Stodart and handing over to him. and it was then that another burst of shrapnel came over and it got me there. There and then. I was able to it knocked me from here to the wall because it hit a buckle on the back of my haversack. and that gave it extra strength. Otherwise it would have gone just through me. you see. but that eased it up a bit. but I was able to go from there with Frankland’s help to a small gully which ran off the waddy and he dressed my wound there. and then he left me there to find my own way down to the waddy while he went to look for to Stodart to find over the regiment to him. you see. Well that was how I found, I struggled somehow to get down to the waddy where the regiment was and I don’t know what part of it was. I was pretty shaken up.

I don’t remember much from then. Until actually I woke up again or I became conscious of my surroundings lying outside the tent at the advanced dressing station. And the doctor he was our regimental doctor, his name was on the tip of my tongue, uh it slipped again. but he had a brother, a health officer in the Brisbane city Council sometime afterwards. He came to me , he heard I was there and He came to me and he said “How are you Bob?” and uh one thing and another. He said “I’ll get you in” so he – it’s not what you know its who you know probably – the doctor arranged with me – or arranged that I should go in ahead of some of the other poor beggars that were lying there waiting for attention. and he had me dressed and put into a bell tent. and then I stayed there until the next day and it was then when an enemy planw flown by a German officer came over and started to strafe all our troops who were camped in the waddy, who were bivouacked there or whatever you would like to call it. And were shot down. I don’t remember much from then.

I remember unconsciously through the night on a couple of occasions, there weren’t a stretcher for all of us and I happened to be one of the fortunate ones. I had a stretcher. and I know on one or two occasions during the night. You see I was paralysed from the shock of the wound and being so close to the spine and I couldn’t move and I can remember one or two occasions some of the orderlies coming in, rolling me off the stretcher – “Oh heres a stretcher dead sort of business”. And then I would move and saw something and they would put me back on the stretcher again. I can remember that happened on two occasions. But I don’t remember much after that until I was then became conscious of my surroundings when myself and the RSM at the time, he was our squadron Sergeant Major originally, he was wounded also, we were put in a sand cart and we were taken back.