Oscar Maximillian 'Max' [de] Blumenthal was born on July 1st, 1892 in Paddington, New South Wales to a French father and British mother. He was one of two children the couple would have with the other one being a boy; Stanley Joseph 'Stan' [de] Blumenthal [1893-1972] who also served in the First World War in New Guinea  and then the Light Horse. Oscar attended Rawdon Vale School and was Laborer during his pre-war adult life.
Max is located back row, second from right
Max enlisted into the A.I.F on April 14th, 1915 at Liverpool, New South Wales with the serial number 839. He was quickly trained and assigned to the 12th Light Horse Regiment. He was apart of the 2nd Reinforcements which embarked on June 7th, 1915 from Sydney. In his diary, he says.. [I have omitted entries]
[June 8th] 'Boat rolling, all on board seasick'
[June 9th] 'Arrive in Port Melbourne will not be let on land. A few boys go ashore but get caught'
[June 10th] 'Still at Melbourne we had to do drill on the pier. Take on 300 horses. Fun on ship one chap locked in detention room'
[June 24th] Still fine weather we are in the middle of Indian Ocean and getting near the line, all lights have been out. SO far we do not know our destination. All on board have to have their hair cut short. We have several cases of measles on board. We have very little space to drill, all we do is with our rifles, loading, sighting, etc. and this is made difficult owing to rolling of the boat. Held a concert last night very amusing no ladies admitted.
[August 1st] 'Went to Cairo and saw a mob of Australians trying to burn and wreck a street. They started by smashing a few lamps and windows and then threw all the furniture out of three four storey buildings onto the street. Then setting fire to it then to the houses. They looted about twenty shops smashing things as they went. The Police and Picquets15 were powerless. Glass bottles, pieces of furniture and plaster, etc. were flying in all directions. The fire brigade came on the scene but the mob cut the hoses and water was flowing down the road in all directions. Finally a Squadron of Yeomanry came on the scene and dispersed the rioters, then the firemen got to work and put out the fires. But a lot of damage was done.'
[August 22nd] 'I paid a visit to the Citadel also to Sultan Hassan’s Tomb saw cannon balls stuck in the walls of a palace said to have been fired in by Napoleon. Also bloodstains on the floor of the Palace were the Sultan’s. Is said to have fallen when hit by a cannon ball.'
[September 14th] 'I went to the Pyramids saw the Sphinx and a lot of tombs, etc. also had a ride on a donkey. Had my fortune told, heard a few queer things that have set me thinking and if what I was told comes true I am going home O.K. On my way back I saw two natives have a fight with sticks. Crossed the Nile several times on my way out and back. The crops look splendid, one can see corn for miles. The water in the river is very muddy and dirty, but I see the natives drinking it.'
[September 16th] 'I saw a queer sight last night. The funeral of a Jewish girl who had committed suicide, it was very pretty, it is their custom to bury all who take their own life at night.'
[September 25th] 'We left Heliopolis at 6am. Marched to Zeitoun and entrained for Alexandria. Arrived in Alex at 2pm and went on board the Knight Templar. There are about 1000 troops on board. The harbour is full of vessels of all classes. The most ships I have ever seen together. There are ten more troopships going out tonight.'
[September 26th] 'We left port at 11 o’clock last night. A Submarine Guard of 40 men has been put on. We have all been given 150 rounds of ammunition and lifebelt which we have for a pillow at night and carry round our necks all day'
[September 27th] 'All’s well so far and the sea s as smooth as glass. We are to go 400 miles out of our course as three of the enemy’s submarines sank one of our supply ships on the 23rd. This vessel is a 7,000 ton and a lot bigger than the Chilka, but she is rotten with filth. Yet the food we get is very fair. She is a Union S.S.G boat the Chilka was a B.J.'
[September 29th] 'A French destroyer has been guarding us all night and she is now zigzagging in front of us, for submarines are still amongst the islands. I and three of my mates sleep right at the bows on tops as it is much safer than below. There are half a dozen Arabs on board, they are going to build a YMCA at Lemnos where we expect to arrive today. 4pm at Lemnos there is a nice harbour here. The island is of a hilly nature, a few shrubs and little grass here and there and dotted all over the place are canvas tents and huts. I counted 30 warships, cruisers, gunboats, etc. and about the same number of steamers. We pulled right to the extreme end of the harbour and the cheering as we passed the warships was something to remember. There are two lots of nets laid across the mouth of the harbour to keep out submarines and all the warships have nets dropped at their sides. Alongside of us is a steamer that was hit by a torpedo.'
Before arrival on Gallipoli, he was assigned to 'B' Squadron which at the time was attached as 'D' Squadron to the 7th Light Horse Regiment on Gallipoli.
Photos of Max in Cairo, in training and on a train enroute to embarkation.
He was taken onto strength on October 2nd and was on the Peninsula until evacuated on December 18th-19th, 1915 to Alexandria. In his diary, he states..
[October 1st] 'Still on board we have to be ready to embark on another boat bound for Gallipoli at an hours’ notice. All the New Zealanders went off at 10am. We were busy unloading timber and goats for the Turkish prisoners as they won’t eat frozen meat. All last night a heavy fog hung around us and we could see nothing and fog bells were ringing all night. I saw a submarine for the first time today. 3pm we are now on board H.M.S. Partridge bound for Gallipoli. She is a small frigate used for transporting troops quickly she carries two 4.7 guns. They are throwing fresh bread just from the oven from the Knight Templar to our chaps on the Partridge you ought to see the scramble. We have left the old boat and are now alongside H.M.S. Victory taking on mails and about 50 Gurkas. We had a thrilling trip form Lemnos to Anzac. We were all excitement and our boat fairly flew through the sea and about half an hour after we left we could hear the dull boom of Naval guns and presently we could see the flash and afterwards the explosion of shells as they landed on Turkish soil and what looks like a mountain on our right it is Gallipoli and the lights are shining from our trenches and dugouts and cannot be seen by the enemy. We can hear the crack of rifle shots and the continuous rattle of machine guns. We stopped about a mile from the shore and got the rest of the way on a barge. I had not been five minutes on it when a chap alongside me toppled over, hit through the chin by a bullet. It was the slowest mile I ever did in my life. I thought the damned barge would never reach the shore. Spent bullets were falling all around us and all together seven lads were hit before we all got on land. I sat on a box of bully beef and waited for the next move. We then climbed up a steep hill and walked about half a mile and were told to stop for the night in Shrapnel Gully, bullets were flying all over the shop. I did not go to sleep but sat and watched a cruiser and a monitor shelling the Turks.'
[October 2nd] 'We marched a couple of mile up hills and across gullys and are now in the trenches under fire and are attached to B Squad[ron] of the 12th who are also attached to the 7th calling themselves D Squadron of the 7th. Shells and bullets are whistling overhead and talk about a row. It fairly makes a fellows hair stand on end at times. It’s a rough shop this. One wonders how ever our Boys landed at all. We are about a mile from the sea and it’s just one network of trenches and dugouts. A flying machine is buzzing overhead and the Turks are shelling her but every shot is going wide of the mark.'
[October 3rd] 'Slept the night in a dugout, but did not get much sleep for the row that was going on. I had a trip to the beach for water. We only get one bottle of water and that has to last us two days and we have to use it for washing and drinking. I am now in the firing line and the Turks closest trench is only 80 yards away. But further on there are rows of them we use a periscope to look over the parapet and a periscope rifle is also on hand, but it’s rather an awkward contrivance, but guess one will get used to it in time. During the night we look through loopholes or over the top, but we keep our nappers well down during the day for the Turk is a good shot.'
[October 8th] 'We opened up a heavy rifle fire on the enemy’s positions last night. The Turks replied and things were lively for an hour. The skyrockets lit up the night and made it as light as day. It has been cloudy all day and I fancy we are in for rain we were just given two oil sheets to cover up our posies. Three of us in a hole 5 foot by 7 foot and we take it in turns to watch through the night and day we do one hour on and two off. It’s a monotonous game watching through the night one fancies they see stumps, bushes, etc. turning into Turks. All day long our Navy has been bombarding Achi Babi a hill about 5 mile away from here. We can see it quite plain in the distance. We have been told two patrols are going out tonight, one at 9 o’clock and the other at midnight and we have strict orders not to open fire unless we are quite certain it is one of the enemy. We have been ordered to sleep with our respirators by our sides as the Turks are reported to be using poisonous gases.'
[October 10th] 'Beachy Bill sent over a shrapnel shell just as I was taking a Dixie back to the cook house. It exploded about 20 yards away and hit seven of the boys. I saw three of them poor chaps are hit all over and are covered in blood. The same gun caught 13 of our boys yesterday. She is said to have put nearly 2000 of our men out of action. Our guns are always trying to root her out. A tale is going around that 300 men went out to try and out her out of action and that only 20 returned and next night 200 volunteered to have a try and only went a short way and their machine guns mowed 150 down. But I have my doubts about the truth of this. The gun is about a mile from here in an olive grove and is built in a concrete tunnel and every time she fires the charge makes her recoil out of view and thus she takes some shifting. She only fires in the daytime. We have a job to get water and I have not had any for 3 days. All our water has to be conveyed in barges from Alexandria'
[October 15th] 'I had a sleep last night. We have all left the firing line for a few days and are on the other side of the hill and supposed to be spelling doing fatigue work. I can get a nice view of the Aegean Sea from my dugout on the hill and can watch our warships shelling. We had four tins of salmon, one tin of fruit and four tins of sardines, one tin of herring, four tins of tomatoes, three packets of biscuits, and eight boxes of matches all between 8 men given to us today, comforts for the 12th ALH.'
[October 16th] 'I was put on water guard down on the beach on all night and go off at six o’clock this evening. There was a very heavy rifle and artillery fire. Also a bombardment by monitors at 4am. I was watching the warships landing shells on Gaba Tepe which looks no distance away from here. The artillery got going about dinner time and the Turks answered them and a nice row was going on until their guns got hot and they eased for a while and then opened up again. Just saw one chap get hit with a shell and carried away on a stretcher, smothered in blood. Our gunners brought down a Taube this evening and the cruisers were shelling another last night. The artillery hauled a big anti-aircraft gun up the hill in pieces and are putting it up near my dugout and they will be giving the aeroplanes some hurry up. Stan [his brother] came over to see me today. He looks none the worse for his few weeks here. Received a Sportsman and a Gloucester Advocate. Also was inoculated for cholera again and got a double dose but it has no ill effects. This is the 5th time I have been done up to date. A chap should soon be proof against disease if they keep on dosing him, what a pity they cannot make us bullet proof. Dozens of men are going away from here every day with dysentery and other complaints. All our food is hauled up from the beach by mules at night as it is too dangerous in daytime for all the ground we occupy is under shell fire and shrapnel is flying around all day long. I saw a 75 shell fired at one of our guns and she just hit the bank over the top of the gun and did not explode but the bump was just enough to slow her down and she turned end over end going on a distance of three hundred yards into the sea it was quiet visible to the naked eye.'
[October 30th] 'Turk came and gave himself up. He got right up to our trenches and called out before anyone was aware of his presence. How he came so close without being heard is a wonder to me. The ground is just strewed with tins and barbwire. He was a big chap and as fat as a whale by what we could make out of his gibberage his officer was beating him and he cleared out'
[October 31st] 'General Birdwood made an inspection through the lines today. He seems a decent chap. Had a few hours off duty, I went and had a look at Lone Pine where one can see dead Turks and Australians lying everywhere. The place smells horrible and they cannot be reached to bury them. Some of them have lain there for two months.'
[November 3rd] 'A lot of bomb throwing was the main feature of the day’s work. A friend came and spent the night with us and he brought along some fish sauce, milk and jam and biscuits and we had a good night. He has been on the peninsular 4 months and this was his first visit to the firing line and he fired off all our ammunition.'
[November 5th] 'We opened up a new firing line in front of the 5th LH last night. The Turks saw us and opened up a terrific rifle fire. Then they charged two times & we let them have a hail of lead. 20 of our chaps were killed & wounded but the Turks must have lost heavily. We still hold the new positions but I guess they will have another try to shift us out. They are firing at a couple of our aeroplanes with machine guns. A shell just landed near our cookhouse & hit 3 chaps. Knocking one poor fellow head to pieces. Shells have been flying to and fro all day. Troops are landing now every night and I fancy a big move is on. The sea has been very rough now for a few days, but clams at night. It is very difficult to land provisions. All our bread is baked at Embros about 8 miles away.'
[November 12th] 'It has been raining on and off all day. A chap was hit through the body and chest in several places. They carried him down and laid him alongside a couple of other lads who had been killed in a cutting alongside of the graveyard, leaving him there until morning. In the morning they dug a grave for the three of them and they were going to lower him in. He started to talk. He is now doing well and if he gets over it he will be lucky.'
[November 20th] 'Had a night in the firing line at Chatham’s and it was about the worst night I ever put in. I had a narrow escape this morning, a broomstick bomb landed a few feet away from me. But luck was with me, it failed to go off. Had it exploded I should have got the full force of it. The stick flew off the bomb and hit me end on, on the back, but I had just ducked in time for it was only a glancing hit and I did not feel it much.'
[November 29th] 'I and some mates had to go 3 miles along the beach after winter clothing. Coming back a shell burst in front of us killing one of my mates and wounding another. I helped to carry him on a stretcher. The snow is clearing up and a bitter cold wind is blowing. I saw a couple of Turks who were taken prisoner last night. They looked very cold on it. Two dead Turks are lying on stretchers alongside our cemetery they have been there a couple of days and ought to have been buried before now. One looks like a lad of 16, they are very poorly clad and are frozen stiff.'
[December 9th] 'I will never forget yesterday evening as long as I live. Stan was standing with the peri[scope] rifle up aiming at one of the Turks portholes and our mate was sighting with the periscope and I was just about to lay down when a 75 shell went bang into our posie knocking it to pieces. I was dazed for a second or two. All the sand bags, numbering about 50 fell on top of me and I was buried up to my head. Stan had to dig me out. The iron loophole weighing about 30lbs fell on my thigh and I am off duty for a few days. Stan was not hurt only he got smothered in dirt and dust. Martin was hit on the forehead with a sandbag and knocked him out, he fell backwards down 6 foot of steps, but he came to okay. Everything in the garden looks lovely, all our belongings where sent flying everywhere, but we are not downhearted yet. But it was a very close call and luck was with us.'
[December 14th] 'Just received an order that no more Australian Mail is to be received or leave the peninsular and we are packing up everything and it is general news that we are leaving Anzac. Still we have heard nothing definite.'
[December 15th] 'It has suddenly turned cold again. There are a lot of rumours around, some say we are leaving Gallipoli to the Turks and others that the Canadians or Tommies are going to relieve us. I fancy myself that the LH are going back to Egypt and we have all been on the lookout for the Turks. For we have an idea that if the Turks get wind of what we are doing that they will attack. We are throwing all our barb wire out in front and it looks like as if it will take some getting over if Jacko only knows how small a force is behind that wire. I bet he would try hard, but we will give him some hurry up if he does come. Thousands of pounds worth of materials is being sent away and stuff is lying about all over the place going to waste. I have rugged myself up with a new lot of clothes and equipment and dozens of others are doing similar.'
[December 17th] 'A spy was caught here last night. He was a German and was in our ranks. He enlisted in NSW in the inf. We kept strict silence for an hour last night to see if the Turks would send out a patrol. We saw no patrol but they opened up a very heavy rifle and machine gun fire. They have been very active this last few days digging and shovelling a few 100 yards in front of us. One of our Japanese bomb mortars is kicking up a great row close to us. Every time she fires the report nearly deafens us.'
He left Gallipoli on the night of December 19th. He says that they mined the trenches, tunnels and tracks. He mentions how they utilized the drip rifle to make it seem that they were still there. During his time in Egypt, he met his cousins; Arthur Paton and Albert Laurie, both would be killed in 1916 and 1918 in France respectively. His time in Egypt was more or less uneventful. He went sick from January 24th to February 22nd. He writes on February 25th 'We all got a speech from our new Colonel, he seems a decent chap'. The Colonel mentioned was 'Galloping Jack' Royston CMG, DSO who had served throughout the Zulu  and Boer War [1899-1902]. On March 20th, he mentions..
'We have all been issued with new equipment. The redcaps are having a strenuous time rounding up deserters, etc. in Cairo. Some of them have been missing from their unit for 9 months and several highway robberies have been committed by men in khaki.'
Max, January 1916
[April 3rd] 'A Squadron left to do picquet duty in Cairo. All our renfs are to leave for Tel El Kebir tomorrow and we have all had orders to pack up and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. We were all inoculated again this morning for typhoid. Two troops of B Squad just received orders at 4:40pm to be ready to move off at 5pm to do picquet duty in Cairo and we arrived in Kasr el Nil Barracks at 7pm'
'Heliopolis 3rd April 1916' Oscar is on left sitting.
Oscar's time in early-mid 1916 seems to be fairly uneventful except for a few interesting exceptions. Examples are the Cooee mob rioting by burning down tents [April 30th] and visiting the old battlefield where the Dervishes fought [May 10th]. He was present when his regiment fought at Romani in August 1916. He writes..
[August 8th-9th] 'We are doing patrol work. The Turks attacked at Katia and Romani about 35 miles from here but after a two day fight are now retreating. Our chaps report says have taken 4000 prisoners. A rocket went up out on our front last night, probably a Turkish patrol. Several tents have been seen 10 mile out and we are going out to investigate.'
[August 10th-18th] 'We are still at Landsend. The boys have been collecting copper bands off the shells. We took our horses down to the lakes (4 miles away) and gave them a swim. We had 5 eighteen pound guns put in on a hill above our camp. I received 9 letters during the week Gazelles, Foxes and Jackals and they are pretty slick at getting away.'
[August 19th-30th] 'No Turks in sight. Have unshod all our horses. A rumour is going around that we are to give up our nags and get camels. If it turns out to be right I tip some fun. The boys won’t take too kind to camels. Had a buck jumping show and the rider got thrown. We have wet and dry canteen in camp. I help to serve when a rush is on and camp in a room adjoining. Major McIntosh has been promoted to Leut Colonel and takes command of the regt. Had two more injections for Cholera the disease is reported to have broken out amongst the Turkish prisoners we captured at Romani. Our Navy is practicing target shooting and guns are going off all day. Received six letters from home. Went for a ride to the Lakes and had a dip. We each received 1 tin of fruit between 2, 1 tin of biscuits for three, 1 tin of tobacco and fags, 1 tin of butter, 1 bottle of sauce and a phial of iodine. Gifts from the V.R. Club Melbourne.'
Other interesting points in the diary are the following...
[October 13th] '[Brigadier] General Royston, our old Colonel paid us a visit today. The boys cheered him to a man. He is in charge of the 3rd LH Brigade and the most popular man with our boys in Egypt. A soldier and a born leader of men. A man the ANZAC mounted Division would follow into anything. We move out tonight. They are calling for volunteers for the Royal Flying Corp and I and several others have put our name down. I passed a medical examination.' [Royston far right, Maygar VC left]
[October 14th] 'Left Bayud at 7pm last night and rode to Zagidan. We are making this our base. We are to attack and if possible capture the men on two small outposts tonight as quietly as possible. The Bayonet only to be used. These two posts are 4 mile out in front of the main position. The travelling is very hard on our horses and if the attack goes against us we will be two days without water. That is provided we do not get cut off.'
[October 15th] 'We rode out and attacked the Turks at daylight. The two outposts were caught asleep and captured. The Turks hold a very strong position. It is now 2pm and we are slowly pushing them back. We got half way up the hill and were then called back as the enemy had gone over the mountain and our Camel Corp were attacking them on the right flank and had got behind the hill. We have captured 14 unwounded Turks and 7 wounded and ten Bedouins, several dead can be seen lying on the hill. Our mountain guns played up with them and in one trench 3 Turkish women were found dead. They had about 500 men and we had 3000, so no wonder they left. We only lost a couple of men and several horses. The Camel Corp is still following them up and we are now about to leave. Our aeroplanes dropped dozens of bombs and it was a grand sight to see the Light Horse galloping into action under a heavy fire and the Turks retreating. We came back a couple of mile and camped the night.'
Max went into hospital on November 20th and arrived back at the Regiment on December 8th to the 2nd Light Horse Training Regiment which he stayed with until January 20th, 1917. He was present at Gaza on April 19th, 1917 and notes that most of the officers were wounded/killed. The following days note they were digging in until April 22nd. On August 7th, he went to School of Instruction at Zeitoun and rejoined his unit on the 19th and went to a Hotchkiss Gun Course that same day. He was with his regiment on October 31st, 1917 when the Light Horse charged Beersheba. He writes..
[October 31st] 'Attacking Beersheba at day break . Rode to within 5 mile of the town and camped until 5pm. The 3rd Brigade advanced early in the day and dismounted two mile from the town but were driven back. Our Brigade then advanced at the trot until we got within two mile of the town, then we went at them at the gallop and straight into the town. We went over the trenches and Turks and everything, the dust, bullets, shells and our lads cheering was wonderful to hear. The enemy poured an awful fire into us but we were hard targets for the dust and fading light. They blew up all the powder dumps and several buildings but had not time to light all their mines. We captured hundreds of prisoners, guns and equipment and booty. The Turks were completely demoralised and prisoners came from all directions. We cleaned the place up as well as we could in the moonlight other mounted troops came in and by midnight things were fairly quiet bar a little sniping.'
[November 1st] 'We are now in full command of Beersheba. Spent the day rooting out prisoners and collecting the spoil and burying the dead. Our losses were very light but many old pals are missing. We are camped a mile out of town. A Taube flew over and dropped three bombs on our field ambulance killing and wounding 13 men and several horses.'
The 12th Light Horse Regiment lost 18 men and the charge has gone down into the history books as a successful charge in Australia's Military History. The 12th Light Horse would advance and capture a few towns during November and only lost 9 men in that month. Max went sick on November 20th with Bronchitis and was back at the regiment on February 2nd, 1918 after a spell in a rest camp at Port Said.
'Cairo 28-1-18 The Sgt & Corp are two troop mates, the Ghurkhas were on Gallipoli with us and we all met in Cairo, Max' He is located front right.
On February 6th, he writes he was an Orderly Trooper. The following day, he writes 'We did a rehearsal of the Beersheba charge for the movies.' This was probably when the famous Beersheba photo [shown in entry Oct. 31] was taken. General Hodson inspected the regiment on February 11th and 'went crook on us'. A couple of days later they were inspected again by Brigadiers and the Colonel. An interesting entry on March 4th, 1918 says that a Sergeant blew himself up. On March 7th, Max took charge of the regiments machine gun section. They were inspected the following day by General Chauvel and Brigadier Hodson who 'blew off about us grooming with our tunics on'. That same day, Captain Hurley [War Photographer] visited them. Brigadier Hodson inspected the regiment again on March 12th and 'blew three of our Officers up for bad saluting and Grant is in a bad mood' which is probably a testament to his opinion to Australian troops as a British Army regular.
Chauvel, Hodson and an unidentified officer
Entries in his diary between May 1st and May 7th read..
[May 1] 'Turks counter and we had to retire 8 mile.'
[May 2] 'Heavy enemy shelling and Turks slowly advancing, my horse hit. Our horses 60 hours without water. Turks bomb us off a hill. We counter and drove them off with bayonets and they shell us off again. Entrenching and putting out wire.'
[May 3] 'Heavy shrapnel shelling enemy, searching wady for our horses. Aeroplane fighting. Turks rush hill at daylight we had abandoned at night and we mowed them down with machine guns.'
[May 4] 'We are still hanging on and holding the Turks. Our boys are retreating from Esault and the Turks are shelling them heavily as they file down the mountain. Hundreds of prisoners being brought in. 2pm. Turks shelling our wounded. 7 Taubes overhead. We are going to retire form here at dark'
[May 5] 'Retired back across the Jordan to our former camp'
[May 6] 'Taube opened machine gun on camp. We are standing to, ready to move at a moments notice.'
[May 7] 'Were called out at 12 midnight and rode up the river. 14 Taubes flew over and bombed our camp, killing and wounding about 30 men and several horses.'
His diary also states in June 'Trouble with the Greeks and our boys, several Greeks killed and a few of our chaps hurt, stones and sticks used. These rows take place pretty near every night and in the vicinity of Arab town. A military picket is on duty and it’s out of bounds but 100 of our chaps and sailors and civvies of all nationalities go there of a night and some queer things happen.'
[September 11th] 'We are to move again shortly. Enemy are supposed to be using gas. There is a big prisoners compound close here 2,000 Turks who were captured at Romaine and Cheyall all look in good condition and are better off than fighting and they all do work of some kind or other. They appear to be very contented and our chaps treat them well. If our boys are treated as well by the Turks they are all right'
[September 19th] 'We opened up at 4am with a heavy barrage all along the line and are doing well. We are in reserve yet but may get in action today. Crossed the line and are now in pursuit of the enemy we have taken 7,000 prisoners. Very hard and fast riding camped for 3 hours at Muhammed.'
[September 28th] 'Crossed the river last night and the enemy retreated. Passed dozens of pretty Jewish villages. Taube dropping bombs and firing machine guns. Plenty creeks to cross, but tracks awful stony and hard on horses. Advanced to El Kumeilia and had a grand blow out on the grapes.'
[October 1st] 'Pursuing the enemy towards Damascus, they are fleeing in disorder and leaving all their gear. Kits and riffles are lying all along the road. 1pm held up by enemy rear guard, charged at them and captured many prisoners. 4pm captured Damascus, big dumps going up. Enemy hold the town which we have surrounded. Firing going on in all directions.'
[October 2nd] 'We have full possession of Damascus and have taken thousands of prisoners and material. The Turks are dying all along the roads from disease; the hospitals are full of them and no food or medicine. Official entry into Damascus, our regt represent the Australians. The people lined the streets and seemed pleased enough to see us. Some streets blocked with dead men and horses and artillery and wagons. Fine gardens, chards and canals adorn the town but the place looks neglected.'
[October 7th-9th] 'On guard in the city in Barracks with the Mecca men. A Turk died near our hut, hundreds of the civil population are dying daily. The place is full of unburied dead and the canals are full of dead Germans and Turks. 10th October – There is a big Turkish hospital ½ a mile from here, full of dead and dying Turks. They throw the dead out of a night and cart them away each morning piled up in a cart. I saw a good few Turkish sisters in this hospital. The Turkish prisoners are dying by the hundreds. We have to go armed in the city, a good few of our chaps have been murdered. Half of our regt is in hospital with fever, etc. and we are all doing double work.'
The regiment was inspected by General Chauvel on November 4th and the regiment crossed the Orontes river and made their way to Tripoli on November 9th. He notes how the Arabs are resisting the Australians by murdering and capturing them. February 19th-21st has an entry reading 'Shooting Horses' presumably since they could not be left behind for the Egyptian populace. Major Oliver Hogue wrote under the pen-name of Trooper Bluegum and wrote a poem called 'The Horses Stay Behind' which describes the feeling of the men shooting their horses who they were no doubt attached to.
In days to come we'll wander west and cross the range again;
We'll hear the bush birds singing in the green trees after rain;
We'll canter through the Mitchell grass and breast the bracing wind:
But we'll have other horses. Our chargers stay behind.
Around the fire at night we'll yarn about old Sinai;
We'll fight our battles o'er again; and as the days go by
There'll be old mates to greet us. The bush girls will be kind.
Still our thoughts will often wander to the horses left.
I don't think I could stand the thought of my old fancy hack
Just crawling round old Cairo with a Gyppo on his back.
Perhaps some English tourist out in Palestine may find
My broken-hearted waler with a wooden plough behind.
No; I'd better shoot him and tell a little lie:
"He floundered in a wombat hole and then lay down to die"
May be I'll be court-martialled; but I'm damned if I'm inclined
To go back to Australia and leave my horse behind.
Max's war was over by mid-March 1919 when his regiment arrived at Port Said and made their way to Mena. On May 1st, 1919 he was on his way to England. An entry on May 2nd reads 'Two thousand troops, a hundred civilians on board. A Lady passenger has the blues and is guarded in her cabin'. He arrived in Marseilles on May 6th and crossed the channel on May 14th. He visited the River Thames and did some sight seeing. On May 21st he was already on his way to Paris again and June 3rd saw him leaving Paris for London and then onto Lockerbie in Scotland. On July 17th, he was in London again and saw the Victory March on July 19th. He was at Sutton Veny on July 25th and 'kept fooling around for four hours'. He embarked on the Anchises on August 22nd and left port the following day; destination Australia. An entry on August 26th notes 'A deserter from HMS Revenge was discovered on board. Two young chaps are stowed away on board, but are not likely to be found'. Max arrived in Adelaide on October 5th and arrived in Melbourne on October 8th and then Sydney on October 13th. He was discharged at 2nd M.D on November 12th, 1919 after four years in the service in the A.I.F and never suffering a scratch.
Max married one Margaret Stella McGrath [1897-1982] on August 26th, 1929 in Clovelly, New South Wales. The couple had three sons and lived at 36 Beach Street at Coogee, New South Wales. He worked as a Hire Car Driver and a Taxi driver in the post-war period and neglected to join the Military in any capacity in the Second World War unlike his brother who enlisted into the Citizens Military Forces and finished up a Lance Corporal.
Max's brother; Stan Blumenthal
Third reunion 12th Light Horse Regiment
Below are a collection of photos of Max.
Max lived until the age of 76; he died on February 2nd, 1969 in Sydney, New South Wales. His brother Stan outlived him by three years and his wife also outlived him by 13 years. He was buried in Botany on February 4th. Below is a photo of his gravestone.
Below is the medal set he was entitled to; the standard 1915 trio