Jo’s Monday Walk
Indian and Chinese Cemetery
Our first stop of our
Somme Battlefields tour was
at the Ayette,
Indian and Chinese Cemetery.
After our first shock at India and China being involved
we all came to the conclusion that India was logical
as it was part of the Commonwealth.
However, China was a mystery.
In all my lifetime I had never heard of
either country being involved in WW I.
And according to the first photo China was a neutral country.
However with allied armies requiring supplies…
the British War Office approached authorities
in both countries asking for a labour force
to transport supplies to the front lines.
While a relatively ‘safe’ job, both countries lost men
to long range artillery, air raids and illness.
A total of 2,000 Chinese and 1,500 Indian labourers
died while serving on the Western Front.
This was the first cemetery we visited and it was
here that we noticed the serenity and
immaculately kept surrounds.
Also the fact that this cemetery was alongside a road,
which may sound silly.
However, many country cemeteries,
that I have visited in Victoria,
are in a secluded plot of land with is
only accessible via a narrow track or road.
I should also add that any headstone which appears a dirty brown colour is,
in all likelihood, due to the photo being over exposed and my attempts
at darkening the image to reveal text…particularly on headstones.
Also there are some photos where the colour does not quite match,
on this post photo 2.
Also the result of extremes of sun and shadow which I have endeavoured
to correct in photo shop.
My skills with Photoshop are lacking…quite a bit.
Below is an extract from Captain Dobson’s diary relating to Acting Bombardier Carlin’s actions whilst under fire around or on June 3rd, 1917.
Acting Bombardier Carlin’s records state that he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal on June, 3, 1917.
There is no recorded date on the diary extract below.
I can only surmise what “O.P.” and “S. 9” mean. My guess, based on context of the entry, is Out Post and a type of Artillery shell. A further entry relates to a ‘S. 9. landing in the courtyard’
Appreciate thoughts, comments or corrections on my interpretations.
One day of routine manning I left Carlin and another at the tap in with instructions that if the line went we’d mend it at our end as it always got out about 150 yards from the O.P. the Hun strafing that point every day for no reason whatever and doing no damage except to a few telephone lines. Sure enough the Hun had his strafe and the line went. Harper was with me and another man, probably Davis. Of course they wanted to go out and mend it, but as the line was of no great importance at the moment told them to wait till the strafe stopped – we could see and hear shells bursting. Next thing Harper got a buzz on the phone showing it was through and a little later old Carlin’s head appeared at the parade, beaded with sweat and much wind up. I strafed him for coming out when he was told to stay in. His reply was, “I saw the O.P. was getting it and thought someone might be hit.” That did not prevent him stopping to mend the line amongst the S. 9.
I have always said that “Windy Bill Carlin” is the bravest man I have met and one of the windiest. The man who is not windy cannot be brave, but the man who does his job at all times and under all conditions and with the wind up all the time, is the man I admire.
ANZAC DAY, 2013
Lest We Forget