the first authentic hotel on the Gallipoli peninsula
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I had seen
what war really means, with its blood, death and destruction. To hear the
cries of the wounded and see the still huddled forms laid in all kinds of
grotesque attitudes, boys and men who that morning had marched forwards so
bravely and full of life, and were even
now rotting in the glare of the sun, whilst swarms of flies were feasting on
their blood and wounds, was to me a terrible nightmare that I shall remember
as long as I live.
Private Ernest Lye quoted in "Defeat at Gallipoli", (London 2002), Nigel Steel & Peter Hart, p. 299
Although private(s) Finn & Maher, both serving in the Munster Fusiliers, could have died of many a cause, the chances are very high that the extreme weather conditions, prevailing in the last days of November 1915, were the origin. Guy Geddes, commanding officer of the MF at that time describes the situation as follows :
back to if stones could speak
… requesting me to come up the line as they did not understand what was happening. There was a loud roar and before I could reach the front line –not 200 yards from battalion HQ- the rain came down like a waterspout, a solid sheet of water, unbelievable except to those present. The communication trenches were a raging torrent and impassable, and one had to proceed overland. So sudden was this phenomenal incident that men were literally drowned in their trenches, being unable to get out in time. The trenches crumpled as if made of paper. During the height of the flood a pony, a mule, a pig and two dead Turks were swept into the trenches. By daylight on the 27th the water had subsided to a depth of four feet. Towards evening the wind shifted towards the North and it became bitterly cold. Then came snow and a blizzard. On the morning of the 28th our situation was deplorable. Many lay dead from exposure. At 4 a.m. the GOC ordered a withdrawal … the battalion was reduced to a few officers and 68 other ranks. At nightfall the whole battalion to a man answered the call for volunteers to go and collect arms and equipment from the trenches.
Guy Geddes quoted in "Gallipoli", (London 2000), Michael Hickey, p. 328
At Anzac … casualties from
frost-bite and exposure numbered only 414…But in the Suvla valley the
sufferings were terrible. Over 200 men died in the open trenches from
exposure, literally frozen to death. Between November 30th and December 8th,
of 15,791 casualties evacuated, some 12,000 were due to the weather".
"The Official History of the Australian Army Medical Services in the War of 1914-1918", Volume I, (Australian War Memorial, 1930), A.G. Butler, p 440.
Last updated : 20/08/07