the first authentic hotel on the Gallipoli peninsula
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Our next turn in the front
line was the furthest point reached on the western coast. This was named Gurkha
Bluff because it had been captured by these troops in the limited advance a few
days earlier. The Gurkhas were grand troops - small fellows but tough as nails
and natural fighters. They were used to the heat and other drawbacks and the
Turks were more afraid of them than of any other troops. There was an obvious
advantage us having both our flanks resting on the sea. At the same time we
could not outflank the enemy either but I doubt if this would have helped much.
For one thing such maps as we had were practically useless - I still have my
three. Only maps of the trench systems would have been of any use at that time
and these systems were very intricate and of course haphazard. As an example
when a battalion in the front line was to be relieved it had to send guides back
to the incoming troops, as no written description of the way could have been
John Guy Gilbert (Writing in 1963 - edited in 2004 by Stephanie Horton)
back to silent witnesses
hole. We’d come up just in front of the parapet. We dig and dig and dig. There was two men,I was digging and my mate was dragging away, then he was digging. Only pics and shovels, lying down. About two to three foot deep, that’s all. Every time your shovel went up a bullet would hit it. We were comparatively safe – you have to keep your head down in the mines you know- you get used to it.
We use to fill
the bags and the Manchester chappies used to drag them away. When we’d gone
three or four yards the infantrymen themselves used to start digging. The soil
they got out they used to chuck it over the sides. They made the trench deeper.
We went forward about twelve yards, a trench about five foot deep and two feet
wide. When we got as far as we wanted we kept the sandbags and made a sort of
barricade, a proper bombing post. All away the frontline there was these saps.
Eventually we would get the infantry to start digging a trench from one sap to
the next sap, probably ten to fifteen yards away. It was undercover. The Turks
used to do the same so you would get the trenches right together without anybody
going over the top. When I talk about the trenches being ten yards apart, you
probably say, “ Oh well that’s a lot of bloody nonsense, how the hell dou you
get the trenches ten yards apart?” Well that’s how.
Joe Murray quoted in “Defeat at Gallipoli”, (London 2002), Nigel Steel & Peter Hart, p. 181-182
Last updated : 15/02/08
A sap is a short trench towards the enemy. We start digging underneath the parapet. We go through there and we’ve got a