We were hauled out of the transport carts and dumped into what appeared to be a convalescent camp for sick and wounded Turks. We were given yet another exhibition of Turkish hospitality and true Oriental courtesy. Whenever the opportunity presented - and these were pretty frequent - these Turkish convalescent patients spat upon us and kicked our wounds. They gave us a very rough time of it, but we stood it as long as we could. Then we formed ourselves into a ring, planting the more badly wounded of our chaps in the centre where they could not be so readily molested by the Turks. I did see a Turkish officer there but he was 200 yards away. The Turks would not give me a stretcher and I endeavoured to crawl along the pier to the little steamer on my stomach. I suffered fearful agony! Eventually I wrangled a couple of orderlies who were returning with an empty stretcher and persuaded them to put me on board. The little steamer almost immediately pulled out from the pier. The reason was soon clear. Our aeroplanes were bombing a village near by and had started a fire there. The men evidently afraid that the Turks might take control of the steamer so they pulled her out from the pier.
There were still two of our wounded comrades left on the pier and when the vessel pulled out I thought that was the last we should see of them; but, to our great surprise, later on that evening they were brought alongside in a rowing boat and taken aboard. The small steamer carried us to Constantinople.
When we reached the Turkish capital we were placed in the Haria Hospital. But before we got off the steamer some Turkish people gave us a cup of tea a piece and a few biscuits. We were carried off the vessel on stretchers and placed under guard at a railway station. It was bitterly cold. Some Turkish "heads" came along and greeted us with "Welcome, soldiers" We retorted: "Give us some blankets". But they took no notice and passed on. Then Turkish "gharries" or carts took us to Harbia Hospital.
In peace time the building used as a hospital at Harbia had been a military college. It was a very big place and the institution turned out to be - as Turkish hospitals go - by no means a bad place. We were put into nice warm beds and given a change of dry clothes of the Turkish hospital pattern. In the room in which I was moved to, were 15 of us wounded and captured Australians. It was here that we noticed that Barney Woods was missing and as a German Sister who spoke English told us that one of our comrades had died the night before, we presumed that it was he. This German nurse at Harbia Hospital was a really splendid woman; I wish I knew her name. She gave us cakes and lollies, tobacco, cigarettes and papers. She did not appear to be able to do too much for us. In fact she was "a toff" to us wounded Australian prisoners in every way.
I was kept in Harbia Hospital for 11 days, when I was taken to Tash Kisschler Hospital, in Taxim, a suburb of Constantinople. As the hospital at Harbia, a Turkish doctor who saw my wounded leg had said that it would have to be amputated. But the same afternoon a German doctor who saw my leg said there would be no need to have the leg taken off. I asked the friendly German doctor to let me have my leg examined by the principal doctor at the hospital - the "Pascha Doctors" he was called. Then he arranged it and the "Pascha Doctor" proved to be a really good man. I told him that if my leg had to be amputated I was content to let it be so but that I did not want to be practiced on or experimented upon. He replied that it would be a shame to take my leg off. It might take some little time but the leg could be saved. Furthermore, he asked me if I fancied any special diet. When I mentioned a cutlet and 2 eggs he instructed the sister to let me have them. I got them all right. This "Pascha Doctor" was a Turk - but a rare one. Altogether the treatment extended to us at Harbia was very good.
When we had been in Harbia Hospital 11 days word came that we were to be taken to another hospital where there were English. We were taken in carts to Tash Kisschler. When we got to the place I thought that we had pulled up at a livery stable & that we were waiting for another "ferry" or something of the sort. There was no light, the windows having been boarded up, we were transferred to mattresses on the floor. I had no trousers on and so had to sleep in my bandages and a short shirt.
During our first night in this abominable hole J.P. Kelly of the 15th became delirious and died on a mattress alongside me. In the morning, for breakfast, we were given a basin of wheat, boiled in water, precisely the same as you would feed fowls on. At 9 O'clock that morning I was carried on a stretcher to a dressing room. Here the bandages on my wounds were unrolled and my wounds examined. A chloroform "bag" was thrust over my nose and when I resumed consciousness my leg had been amputated. A chap named Callaphan, or O'Callaphan, from Brisbane was close by when I came to. At my request he lifted up the bed clothes and we found that my leg was gone! When I left Harbia Hospital my leg was real well. The German Sister was looking after it splendidly, assisted by an Armenian doctor who also spoke English. It was about noon when I recovered from the influence of the chloroform. Almost immediately a meal was placed in front of me. It was steamed wheat with some dirty molten fat formed over it. And that was quite soon after my leg had been amputated. Needless to say, I didn't touch that "meal". Altogether I had a rotten experience there at Tash Kisschler.
Private J. P. Hennessey, of the 14th Battalion, also died there. He was a North Melbourne man and had been wounded in the left leg in the face. For a full fortnight his wounds were left unattended and undressed. To make matters worse the poor beggar was suffering from diarrhoea and his wounds became fearfully fowl on that account. Hennessey also had been setting along splendidly at Harbia.