Diary of Lance Corporal R. C. Werner, full name Leslie Roy Caldwell Werner, 10th Australian Field Ambulance, AIF, #12429. The diary covers the period 25 May 1916 to 18 December 1918. It is a copy from a typed version transcribed from Mr Werner's original hand-written diary. There are 70 numbered pages along with two additional pages of an official nature at the end. Page 58 is missing from the diary.
Werner was a 24-year-old optician when he enlisted on 28 August 1915. He was shipped to Britain in May 1916, made a Lance Corporal, and by November he was in France. He avoided wounds until April 1918, when he was wounded twice in four days. He was discharged on 2 January 1919.
The diary begins on 25 May 1916, when he embarks on the transport 'Ascanius' bound for Britain.
On page 57 Werner describes how he was wounded on 23/24 April 1918. He was working in a field dressing station when shells began falling:
'Major Metcalfe left me to finish bandaging the Artillery chap and went towards the door to have a look at the chap who had got knocked there; I saw him grab a stretcher and then just as he got to the door, in came another shell, right through the door and in between us. I was blown right over the man I was dressing, whom we had placed on the floor fortunately, to shelter as much as possible, and [I] was quite helpless for a few seconds and just wondered how long the roof was going to take to fall inand finish the job off. When, after a few seconds it showed no signs of falling in, I began to think of my own immediate troubles; I felt my thigh first - the dust etc. was too thick to see - and finding it still there, which I had hardly expected as I didn't feel it there, my next thought was to get out; I tried to stand up but found R. leg no good so tried crawling and got on fairly well; at the door I came across Major Metcalfe and will never forget the sight; he lay half in and half out of the door with the R. leg blown off below the knee and the L. fearfully mutilated. I told him I was not of much use and having noted that there did not seem much bleeding crawled to the gate and yelled for the others to the best of my ability, as I found my R. lung also "somewhat out of action". The others didn't take long to turn up though my word wasn't I glad; Baker fixed me up and plastered me all over with bandages and it wasn't long before a car arrived from Franvilliers and carted the lot of us out of the place.'
Werner's diary entry for 25/4 says 'Major Metcalfe died of wounds after having both legs amputated.' Werner himself was taken to Lewisham Military Hospital in England, where he was treated for shrapnel wounds in his arm and thigh, and a 'severe' lung injury. His injuries were so extensive that he never returned to the front.
On page 68, 12 November 1918, Werner records the Armistice: 'On the 12th, we got the news by wireless that Germany had signed the Armistice terms for an Armistice of 31 days and since then we have got details of the terms and we haven't quite got over the fact yet of our being able to extract such terms which are undoubtedly those of a conquerer to a crushed and beaten enemy. It is fairly evident that the war is now over, for though "Peace" yet remaisn to be declared, such seems just a matter of arranging and dictating the terms. We have heard something of the internal break-up of Germany but news is scrappy and incomplete. / I have fairly shaken off the "Flu" now...'
Werner was later secretary of the 10th Field Ambulance Association, until it ceased operation due to its members passing away.
Description of Content
Diary of Lance Corporal R. C. Werner, full name Lesley Roy Caldwell Werner, 10th Australian Field Ambulance, AIF, #12429. The diary covers the period 25/5/1916 to 18/12/1918. It is a copy from a typed version transcribed from Mr Werner's original hand-written diary.
Volume of paper photocopied bound in brown cardboard. Hand-written inscription on sticker on cover (see below). Blue front and back pages, not inscribed. 70-page manuscript, with additional pages at back: copy of correspondence to Werner's father, C. H. F. Werner, dated 29 May 1918, advising that his son is 'progressing favourably' [ie in relation to his wounds], and his postal address is advised.
Donation from Lance Corporal Leslie Roy Caldwell Werner, 27 Feb 1986
WERNER, R. C. (L CPL.)
Hand-written inscription on sticker on cover: 'Diary. / L/Cpl. R. C. Werner / 10th Australian Field Ambulance / A. I. F. / 25-5-1916 - 18-12-1918'.
Type of item
210 mm (Width), 10 mm (Depth), 295 mm (Height)