Gilbert Holcomb, 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance

Gilbert Leonard Holcomb, a carpenter from Gatton enlisted on 21st November 1914, aged 28. He was assigned to the 2nd Light Horse Field Ambulance unit commanded by Lieut. Col. Bean and Major Croll, and departed from Brisbane for Egypt on the transport ship Borda one month later.


On the morning of 25th April 1915, the Sicilia sailed with a convoy of 23 ships to lie just off Anzac Cove, here they waited until the cover of evening to evacuate and treat wounded.

The Collection
OM78-58/7 & OM79-64/12

Gallipoli diary

26 April 1915

first lot of wounded - arrived at 12 oclock at - night, working till morning - 7am, more arrived … and all throughout - the day, some difficulty - in getting boats close up, - strong currents running

They ferried wounded between the hospital bases on Lemnos, Malta and at Alexandria. His work on the hospital ship was physically and emotionally draining; conditions have been described as very inadequate, with little ventilation; wounded lying on floors, benches and tables; and a continuous stream of casualties adding to the already overcrowded situation.

The entry for 14 May 1915 reads - Steady fighting during day - heavy battle started at 6pm mostly artillery battleships … roar continuous all night – whole battlefield lit up by firing many Star Shells  . . . "

His comments reflect the major operations in May against the Turkish army with Australian forces reinforced by the Light Horse operating as Infantry. Losses were so heavy on both sides that a truce was called to bury the dead and retrieve the wounded from no-man’s land.

Gilbert Holcomb’s entry for 28 June 1915:

Private Les Pountney of the 5th Light Horse Regiment

Gilbert's story has featured in the 2015 Distant Lines Exhibition, held here at the State Library. Now his collection has now been fully digitised and transcribed and is available online from the Library's catalogue.

Further reading:

Marg Powell
QANZAC 100 Content Technician
State Library of Queensland


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