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absconded because his life was made hell by the CSM (Company Sergeant
Major) of my company (D). In barrack room parlance he was “sat upon”.
I was one of the firing party; he was marched from a dugout about 80 yards away, to a kind of disused quarry where the final scene was enacted. A clergyman preceded the doomed youth and his escort, reading prayers for the dying (the mockery of it all). The doomed youth was tied up to a stake, his grave already dug. His last request was, “Don’t blindfold me”. What followed I’ll leave to the reader’s imagination, in other words, I’ll pull the pall of oblivion o’ver the ghastly scene –“If I can ever forget it”. I only wish that the distinguished person who signed the death warrant, without taking into consideration extenuating circumstances, would leave his comfortable island residence and visit the men under his command who were “going through it”. Well, we’d have a bit more faith in our leaders and confidence in ourselves.
Pte Edward Roe quoted in "Diary of an old Contemptible", (Barnsley 2004), Peter Downham, p. 131-132
The 6th East Yorkshires -after succesfully
occupying Scimitar Hill- were recalled in the afternoon of the 8th August to
advance on Tekketepe. No other battalion would go furthest inland at Suvla us
they did but paid a heavy price -including the death of their CO
as John Still recalls in his book "A prisoner in Turkey" (p. 31) :We reached the point where the ravine
ended, and in the scrub ahead of us we saw a number of men who fired upon us.
For a moment we thought they were our own, firing in ignorance. Then we saw
that they were Turks. We had run into the back of an enemy battalion which
held the lower slopes against our supports. They had crossed the range at a
point lower than that we had attacked, and had cut in behind our climbing
force. We could do nothing but surrender.
When we held up our hands some dozen or more of the enemy charged towards us with fixed bayonets. And we began to experience that strange mixture of nature, so characteristic of the Turks, from which we and our fellows were to suffer much in the years to come.
William Edward Graham Niven never lived to see his son become a world-famous actor. In his book "The Moon's a Balloon", (p. 11-12) David Niven tells us about his fathers' "Suvla landing" and the moment "the" telegram arrived at their house near Cirencester :
the man who was beating him and broke his wrist. The fourth, my Colonel(*) , was bayoneted. Then, for the moment their fury ceased.I was permitted to tend the Colonel. He did not seem to suffer pain at all, only to be intensely thirsty. He drank the whole of the contents of my water-bottle as well as his own. They even allowed me to carry him on my back; and on my back the Colonel died. May he rest in peace! He was a brave man, and a good friend to me.
"Military Operations: Gallipoli, Volume II", (London 1929), Brigadier-General Cecil F. Aspinall-Oglander, p. 352-353.
(*) Scimitar Hill
fast as possible with due regard for accuracy). Never before can the rural ambience of that leafy nullah have known such a din as breaks out now. Bang! Bang! Often a double or treble blast. Sleep forgotten now the sweating gunners are happy. We’re doing our stuff – the end result of all that gun drill ! This last for maybe two hours – time just stood still. The end comes when each No 1 reports : “No more ammo, Sir”
Bombardier G. Dale quoted in “Defeat at Gallipoli”, (London 2002) Nigel Steel and Peter Hart, p. 268
gives a very vivid description of the "A" battery's (59th RFA
Brigade) activity near Chocolate
Hill on 9th August :
Right at dawn the Sergeant Major’s cattle calling bellow drowns the echoes of our last combined snore “A Battery – action !” (here where am I ? What goes on ?) as we stumble to our 18 pounder, enthusiasm at a low ebb, mutterings predictable. Sgt Styles takes up the theme. “Move, you there!” (Gosh, isn’t this our third night with little or even no sleep?) Aiming point, angles, range and fuse are coming along, and Hubert and I get busy on the gun seats. ... As Hubert slams the breach on a round the order comes “Gunfire” (As
Last updated : 13/03/08
back to if stones could speak
On 14th August
Warren Hertslett wrote home ... It was to be his last letter :
I hope my regiment will make a good show. Of course it is a tremendous moment in the minds of us all. None of us know how we shall stand shell and other fire in the attack. I personally feel very doubtful about my prowess in the bayonet charge. Well by this time tomorrow I shall know all about it or shall be unconsious of that or anything else.
Lt Warren Hertslett in a diary letter , quoted in “Defeat at Gallipoli”, (London 2002) Nigel Steel and Peter Hart, p. 283
On the left, meanwhile, the Yeomanry, led by Lord Longford in person, attempted to storm the northern and central slopes. Here the Turkish fire was not so deadly, and for the second time that day the top of the hill (*) was won. But the success was short-lived. The troops on the crest were driven back by enfilade fire and one detachment, which had pushed on ahead, was surrounded and overwhelmed. Lord Longford and his brigade-major were missing after the action, and their bodies were never recovered.
The man who took possession of me searched my pockets and annexed everything of military use except my revolver, which had fallen out of my, hand a minute before, when I had been knocked down by a bullet that glanced off a rock on to my leg. He took out my purse and saw that it contained five sovereigns in gold (more than I have ever seen since) and a good deal in silver. Then he gave it back to me, and apparently told me to keep it. The pay of a Turkish private is, or
father, along with 90 percent of his comrades in the Berkshire Yeomanry,
had landed with immense panache at Sulva Bay in 1915.
... The troops embarked in the ship’s whalers and on arrival held their rifles above heads and gallantly leaped into the dark waist-high water. A combination of barbed wire beneath the surface and machine–guns to cover the barbed wire provided a devastating welcome:
... my sister ... and I were swapping cigarette cards on an old tree trunk in the paddock when a red-eyed maid came and told us our mother wanted to see us and that we were not to stay too long.
... after a rather incoherent interview with my mother, who displayed a telegram and tried to explain what “missing” meant, we returned to the swapping of cigarette cards and resumed our perusal of endless trains lumbering along a distant embarkment loaded with guns and cheering young men ... 1915
11 December : Execution of private Salter at 7.15 am. This youth barely 19 years of age was shot by twelve of his comrades for taking “French leave” from his Regiment on two occasions and attaching himself to the Anzacs. Not by any stretch of imagination could my comrades and I catalogue it as desertion, as ‘twas impossible to desert from the Peninsula even had he so desired. Our position in comparison to the position that the Anzacs held was a heaven compared to Hell. He therefore did not seek safety; he
decent Charlie - moved from where we laid him below Chocolate Hill. Charlie never knew our brave new world of strikes and demos. He missed the Slump, another World War, and several cold ones. Charlie never watched “telly” nor saw an honest “bob” become five new pence … All that trouble and strife he missed. Ah, but life is sweet. Rest in peace, old pal.
Sergeant G. Dale quoted in "Gallipoli", (London 1975), Eric Bush, p. 317-318
In 1971, George Dale gives a simulary vivid description of his return to the Peninsula where he comes face-to-face with the headstone of one of his mates,Charles Bromley Chrisp, "A" battery (59th RFA Bridage), whom he had buried 56 years earlier :
was, ten piastres a month, nominally
about one shilling and eight pence. My captor was a good Turk. Later on, when I
came to know how rare good Turks were, I was filled with marvel.
Of those taken with me, one was not molested; one was fired at from five yards' distance, missed, and quietly captured; one was beaten and fired at. Thank God the man who fired at him hit