New Zealand Base Camp Hornchurch Essex, England. (By Trooper Browne)
I will start off with an introduction dealing briefly with Walkers Ridge and the few days preceding the battle.
Down from Walker's Ridge, we the Wellington Mounted (or as we often remarked - dismounted) Rifles, trudge with our packs, we hear that there is going to be a big advance to the left, and that the NZ Mounted Brigade is going to open it up. We are glad to leave that ridge, where with Auckland Mounteds we have been working fortnight about with the Australian Light Horse, to the total and tender care of the latter. Apart from a few occasions it has been comparatively unexciting and monotonous with that settled kind of trench warfare, but we have tender thoughts as we leave the precipitous hill which the Australian landing party took in seventeen minutes and on the far side of which many an Australian and New Zealander lay in the sun, until the armistice late in May enabled us to bury what was left of them.
Along a certain bank is a rough little wooden cross it is inscribed “Sacred to the Memory of an Unknown Member of the NZ Expedition Force." I will not go in to details as to why he should be unknown, but he was one of our infantry who landed on that first day, nineteen days ahead of us. It is very important to always wear the identification disc around the neck, for the sake of those at home and that is not always infallible.
On Walker's Ridge one night, Auckland bore the brunt of a fierce attack, and had many casualties. Auckland has graves there and Wellington has graves on the hill from which you gaze seaward on a most beautiful view. Behind the Isle of Samothrace the sun gloriously sets each night. Peace on that side - inland war. Peace to the seaward and yet from Walker’s Ridge we watched that grand fighting ship the “Triumph” heel over and sink in the calm waters, while angry destroyers rushed in every direction eager for revenge. Also there could be heard intermittently by day or night, the grumbling of warships at Cape Hellas, an occasional visit and bombardment by one in our neighbourhood. The booming of Monitors in the offing and the bark of the destroyers.
Wellington and Auckland Mounteds were mostly on Walker’s. Canterbury and Otago Mounteds generally occupying important posts on the left flank. It was here that we had secret saps loading out, constructed by much nightly toil and the next time Enver Pasha sent his men to push us into the sea, the Turks fill in, in more ways than one. They came to stay, many of them bringing provisions and overcoats and their welcome was so warm that a great number of them did stay near by, as we were forcibly reminded later on when the wind blew our way.
By Korry! We use to sneak out at night and drag in the nearest ones and bury them.
Whatever else, the Turk is a brave foe.
Yes, there are many memories that cluster around Walker’s Ridge and always the feeling if every Turk in Turkey were to come, it must never fall after the way it was taken on the first day. It was the spirit of the great dead of that day. We couldn’t go back on them. Looking to the future I can see Walker’s Ridge as one of the places of interest to the tourist on Gallipoli Peninsula and where would finer place be for a monument to the men of Anzac, than the crest of that Ridge, which takes its name from an Australian Colonel?
We had been working hard on Walker’s Ridge. When not in the firing trenches, or sapping, we were on fatigue duty, so a few days rest were very welcome and necessary before the big fight. The Regiment camped on lower slopes, the 6th Squadron being just above the beaches where we had excellent bathing, snipers permitting. As far as we were concerned the sea was the only way of washing ourselves or our clothes.
During these few days we were given a few extras in the food line and our duties were light. In fact we had a good time there.
Speaking for myself, I was I think in good hard fighting trim.
Coming events cast their shadows before. Then on Thursday night the 5th August we fell in, in fighting order, packs and tunics left behind, valises alone being carried. To No 1 Outpost, which was held by the Maori Contingent, we went and slept the night with the Maoris. On the corner where you turned from the main trench to approach their position, they had done some typical Maori Carving into the bank.
|First thing next morning we had risen from the ground [trench], a Maori was standing by some of his machine gun ammunition talking to us. High overhead a Taube [German Aircraft] sailed and suddenly the Maori flopped to the ground grabbing at his boot. A dart had pierced his ankle and disappeared into the ground. He shed tears of disappointment at missing the fight, but he had need to be glad. What a near thing for his head, and what a strange way to be wounded. Not many get it thus. What a strange war this is. Quietly the day slipped by. We made ourselves some nice curry with bully beef and onions and had a last good feed before changing our circumstances. In saying “we” I am sometimes referring to the squadron, sometimes the regiment, sometimes the troops, and sometimes the section. I will leave to judge which by the context.
At present it was the section, which was composed of Jack Gutzell, section leader, Don McCaskill (who used to go round on our carts as a boy) H.E.B. and Jimmy Prosser, who was replacing Paddy Burke, the latter being away with a bad knee. (Excuse me I can hear a little dog barking in the neighbourhood, that sounds just like our Biddy, and I had to remark to someone about it.) Poor Jimmy Prosser didn't get to see the light of another day.
Trooper H. (Jimmy) Prosser
He was killed that night on Table Top. But I must not race ahead. We were taken up into the firing trench and the object for the right was pointed out to us by Lieut. Mayo who fell next day on Table Top. At 9 o’clock sharp the Mounteds and the Maoris were to charge. (There goes Biddy again.) Some of the Maoris were to act in conjunction with the Auckland Mounteds in the attack on old No 3 Outpost. As the sun was setting on Friday the 6th August they gathered around their native chaplain in fighting array, and a brief service was held in their own tongue. To me it was a historic scene. After a few words the hymn “Jesus Lover of My Soul” was sung in Maori, to a tune of their own. The parts blended beautifully. The Contingent had 25 tenors in its chorus. The chaplain in a splendid voice sang the solo, the rest supplying the obligatio. Is there any language beautiful as that of our Natives, when it is set to music? My squadron stood around silent listening intently.
There was something pathetic about the tune and the scene that brought tears to the eyes, and yet as we listened we felt that they and we could go through anything with that beautiful influence behind us.
The hymn ceased. There was a silence that could be felt and then Maori and Pakeha heads were bowed while the native prayers and benediction were pronounced. A brief message was read to the Contingent, and they dispersed. We all remarking that they could not go wrong after that grand singing. Later on we heard the fierce "Kamate” from the same throats resounding from the hill they had captured. That war cry mingled with the cheers of the Aucklanders.
THE BATTLE BEGINS
At quarter to nine, out filed the 6th [Manawatu Mounted Rifles Squadron] from the No 1 post, back into the big trench, the main artery of Anzac. On reaching a certain point we debouched into the gully between Nos 1 and 2 posts and waited for the word on the threshold of danger. We were to open the attack in that quarter by seizing in two parties, a big communication trench and an outpost ridge.
Orders had previously gone round for empty magazines, silence and the bayonet. Sharply at 9 p.m. in single file we started up and into the darkness of the narrow watercourse. Further up our walk broke into a double, and then the enemy opened fired. A machine gun was sweeping the watercourse and passing a certain spot the bullets were striking fire on the stones. Here the first casualty lay moaning. After that several were hit. Fred Wilson and Hughie Reid who were in the section ahead of us were both hit there, and a little further up Claude Meads [11/105] was killed.
Hughie Reid has since lost his foot, I hear. Fred Wilson with several wounds walked all the way back to No. 3 Outpost and then fainted. Eric Fowler was shot through the lung and Dick Stewart in the hand. Dick picked him up and carried him back. The position soon fell to us. Jumping into the trench I nearly landed on a wounded man and looking closer I saw he was a Turk.
||Some scrub near by had caught fire and was showing us up, but Auckland and the Maoris were attacking fiercely and things were going well with us. To the left of Auckland, Otago and Canterbury were busy. For a time we manned a little ridge in the gully expecting a counter attack. Near me lay Joe Chamberlain in agony and calling for morphia pills, and we did not have any. In the darkness and necessary open order he had run into a cluster of four, bayoneted two but the others had shot him in the stomach. He did not die until the next morning. Lying near Joe in his pain I was filled with unreasonable rage of war and swore to avenge him. I certainly did later on.
As soon as we seized the first positions our 2nd and 9th. Squadrons passed over us and on up to seize Big Table Top, we following them up. Meantime the cheers of the Aucklanders and the war cries of the Maoris proclaimed that they had taken the very strongly held old No. 3 Outpost. (Called old No. 3 because it had been in our possession for two days.) Table Top lay further in, and many of the enemy, completely surprised and terrified by the weird war cries, retired on Table Top to find it in our possession. We took 150 prisoners there and the dead lay around in plenty. 11p.m. saw Table Top and old No. 3 Outpost in our hands and the N.Z. Infantry opening up on Rhododendron Spur, and other new ground.
Left: Trooper 11/23 Robert (Joe) Chamberlain - "Called out for Morphia - he did not die till next morning".
Killed in Action, 6th August, aged 25.
Thus the battle opened up most promisingly and very strong positions were taken at very small cost. Major Dick who was wounded in the hand went back to have it dressed. Returning later with Quarter-master Lodge they heard some Turks yabbering in the darkness. Giving orders to imaginary men, they called out to the Turks to surrender, which they did an officer and five men. We laughed when we heard how the wounded Major and the Quarter-master had surrounded the enemy. In our attack we also had Twistleton and G.H. Williams killed. Soon after arriving on Table Top poor Jimmy Prosser was killed. I may mention this more fully another time.
11/158 Francis Twistleton - 6th WMR
Killed in Action
11/672 Major Selwyn Chambers
Killed in Action
"by a bullet through the head."
11/105 Claude Meads - 6th WMR
Killed in Action
Before going into action we had arranged with one another regarding pocket sundries, so from Jim’s body we took some films of snapshots taken on Walker’s Ridge. Jimmy and us were in some of the snaps. McCaskiff took charge of them, and I hope he has forwarded them to Jimmy’s people.
The prisoner’s taken that night were a sturdy crowd, though there were some old ones among them. In one case there were three generations represented by two young fellows, their father and his father. The latter a grey-haired patriot, whose hand the son took wherever we shifted them. They offered me a drink from their water bottles, I think the water was quite good but I wasn’t taking any risks that night.
Talking of prisoners reminds me of one we took before reaching Table Top. Most of the enemy were big men, but this one wasn’t, and the poor little beggar was scared out of his life. In darkness nearby he called out ”Tesleem’ and a fool behind me up with his rifle and nearly blew my ear off. It did brought several “Tesleems’ from the strange voice, to which many replied with "Taala Hina” Arabic for “Come Here” but from a past conversation with our interpreter, I knew this did not correspond with the Turkish tongue, so it was a case of mutual ignorance. I had a language book with me but you could not strike matches there so as we couldn’t make him understand, Stu McFarlane and I went and brought him in. There he stood, his rifle and equipment thrown on the ground, frightened to come nearer and frightened to run away, lost in his own ground. The poor beggar seemed in a cold perspiration and hung back until he has impressed upon us the “Tesleem” business so we said “Alright - Tesleem.” Even then he was trying to follow the one in front and watch the bayonet of the one behind. A fairly common saying among them is “Turkey Finish,” but he evidently did not know this. Next morning I looked up “Tesleem” and found it means “Surrender.
ON TABLE TOP
Early morning found those who were not otherwise engaged digging out shelter shelves on the steep sides just below the level of the plateau. Standing next to me a fellow felt a smack, put his hand in his pocket and pulled out his knife in pieces, himself uninjured.
Paddy Cotton, [11/690 Patrick James Cotton] one of our Lieutenants was severely wounded along same ledge. Lying asleep on Table Top. Major Chambers was killed by a bullet through the head. Our Lieut. Mayo had just returned from escorting the prisoners when he was fatally wounded. Bill (One Round) O’Brien was shot in the head at Table Top and died. “One Round” was one of fifteen in the carriage the day I left for the Palmerston Camp.
From the position of some when it hit on Table Top it has been thought that there were snipers concealed among us.
The Mounted Brigade had discharged to the letter the full duty assigned to them, and the gallant infantry were fighting fiercely on the new ground that had been opened up. They were suffering huge casualties and exacting them from the enemy. The fighting at this stage was tremendous. The breath of battle was in the air. It was an honour to be in such a fight, but chiefly through bad leadership and partly through lack of initiative, the new English troops were not making good, and their [dead] weight was tailing more heavily on our boys.
On Sunday afternoon the 9th. the 2nd. and the 6th. W.M.R’s were ordered off Table Top to take part in a movement on Chunuk Bair that night. Of course I am not attempting to describe the battle. To do that one would have to work in such items as the Suvla Bay Landing and the attack by the gallant 29th Division at Helles, [and] the great fight of the Australians at Lone Pine, the attack from Quinn’s post and the awful and wonderful charge of the Light Horse at Walkers Ridge. One could write a book on such a battle and the tremendous bombardment by sea and land would merit a chapter. I am not even trying to describe the main thrust in which our troops had the honour of bearing the brunt. In that connection stand out the Ghurkas on 971 and the Australians on their flank. I am merely trying to describe what took place around me and anything else mentioned is just incidental so with that reminder I will continue.
We proceeded up the big main ravine some distance finally stopping on a steep hillside, where we scratched out a temporary resting place. There while waiting for darkness, the Old Col looked me up from Otago. We were glad to know each was so far safe. He told me that they were to go ahead of us. The battle at that stage was well in our hands. Some splendid positions were in our hands and we were very cheerful as we briefly compared notes and chatted about the dear ones in far away N.Z. and what they were doing at the moment. Nevertheless, there was much in our parting hand-shake as Col went to rejoin his mates. Alas, I was not to see my friend again, although I may have been close to him later on. By 8 p.m. we were ready to proceed and soon after started off into the blackness of the hills at the charge.
Trooper Melville Bull
Jaw shattered by a bullet - Killed in Action on Chunuk Bair
Sergeant David(Stuart) McFarlane
Killed in Action while carrying out Trooper Duky McDonnell
Trooper Bill Lynch
Killed in Action on the heights of
At this stage Lance Corporal Herb Bland was missing. He was the good looking Sergeant who was one of the previously mentioned fifteen who joined up in Wellington together. While waiting on the hillside he must of been struck by a shrapnel pellet or a stray bullet unnoticed by anyone as he is still missing to this day. He was a game fighter.
We went up in open order that night, and it was very difficult to keep in touch but we managed it alright. We went up at the charge, probably to prevent the Turks from cutting off those on the crest. We went up in successive lines. The 6th did not encounter any live Turks going up. The hills were strewn with dead and wounded as the ground had been in dispute since Saturday morning and in the darkness one was in constant dread of stumbling over a wounded man. No words can describe the heroism of the severely wounded. They cheered us on as we passed them and if you apologised for kicking against one they would reply it’s alright mate, I know you did not mean to. Such things fill men with grim purpose.
As we approached the top an enemy counter attack was being repelled. A little to the right was a Gloucestershire Battalion. In the darkness you could tell where they were by their loud yells in dialect, not only during an attack but all the while. Such things give a position away badly. In this and other respects we were rather surprised at the lack of discipline among many of the men of Kitcheners’ Army.
Discipline is usually spoken of in a general way and Colonials are continually spoken of as lacking in it, but in fighting discipline they are second to none. The Gloucesters were relieved by our 2nd Squadron and a few of the 6th. The rest of the 6th occupying a trench on the crest to the left. My troop being engaged in digging a supporting and a communication trench to the same. Then a large fatigue party, of which I was one, was told to go off down and get rations.
It was very solid toil going back up those hills with the stuff. I had a tin of water which did not grow lighter as we struggled through the darkness. I arrived at the top again, I could not help laughing at the grim purpose displayed in the face of a big infantry man and the poise of his rifle and bayonet as he rushed past someone crying out that a Turk was trying to sneak away from behind our lines, and sure enough there was this crouching form making for the left shoulder of the hill, but shortly after a despairing “Allah” announced that the big man’s bayonet had got home.
Meanwhile young Duky McDonnell, our bombing boy, had been wounded and in carrying him out [to safety] our splendid Sergeant Stuart McFarlane was killed. Behind our trenches the hill was strewn with the dead and severely wounded. The endurance and valour of those hard-hit men thrilled me with pity and admiration and with pride in my race. There is nothing comparable to the undecorated bravery of such men, who were to die where they lay, and yet with parched throats cheered with others when an attack was repelled. I had taken two water bottles up the hill and did what little I could among some of them. The first one lay in a four inch hollow, evidentially scooped out by himself. He had been there two days and two nights without water and food and belonged to the Wellington Infantry. He asked me if there was any hope of stretcher bearers that night, I had to tell him “No.” It is more than wrong to give men false hopes in such circumstances. I told him his only hope lay in whether he could possibly struggle down himself so he said “Help me to my feet then.” I raised him and held him for a while to allow the giddiness to pass oft, but as soon as he started to walk he collapsed and I had to lay him down again. A bullet had entered his chest and gone through his back. There was a huge hole in his back and as l laid him down the air sighed through the wound and I could hear the bones grit. Another voice was calling for water and I left him.
In the darkness the chap mistook me for his officer, addressing me as Sir until corrected. Most likely his officer had long since fallen. He belonged to the Wellington Infantry too. He also said he’d been there two days and two nights and that he could not last out another day. Again followed the same dialogue and I had to tell him that the stretcher bearers were working “eyes out” far from there. The restraint of these men was wonderful. I only had to remind them that there were many wounded, and not to drink any more than they could help, but it was painful to see the effort with which they withdrew the bottle from their lips.
This one had both thighs shattered. Can you image my feelings, being physically fit and yet unable to help these gallant fellows away, for not only was it against strict orders, but it would have been very wrong, as every man was sorely needed, so hot was the position to hold. Thus men knew that if hard hit they would probably die where they fell, and lucky was the man who was killed outright.
Leaving these men, some of whom were praying for death, I got to work in our crowded and shallow little trench, jumping in alongside Arthur Sanson – (Must continue this again.)
In Happier Times: Harry sits second from left in the front row of Stars Senior Rugby Teams 1910 photograph.
(a follow up letter continues) FRANCE Take note of this date 5-6 1917.
I will now try and write another instalment of the narrative which I started so long ago, continuing as far as possible from, the point where I discontinued in that first epistle. I hope you will excuse the pencil as I have run out of ink.
I forget whether or not I told you that some twenty of the regiment were sent off that Sunday night to go away down the big ravine at a point near Table Top for rations, and I was one of this fatigue party.
Mine was a sealed kerosene tin of water, and it was no joke scrambling up hills in the dark with it, keeping a sharp look-out against going astray through patches of scrub, and here and there in and out among the dead and wounded, with always the fear of causing some pain through stumbling over a prostrate form.
However, while I was away our troop Sergt. Stu McFarlane was killed. Our bombing boy Duky McDonnell had been wounded by a bomb. He was the youngest of us all and big Mac always kept a special eye on him. From what I was told, he was carrying him to a safer spot, when another bomb landed and big Mac went out in three minutes. This is how things stood when I jumped in the trench along side Sandy.
We were improving and lengthening our trench as much as possible. This introduces another character whose name in view of what happened and the fact that he is dead, I will not at present disclose but will call him “A”. He was a third reinforcement Sergeant who had just landed on the 4th of August, and of course had reverted to the ranks on arrival. But from his manner and actions seemed to miss his short-lived authority, also being thrust suddenly into a big battle seemed to be more than his nerves could stand. He seemed obsessed with the idea that the hill was too hot for us, and that we would have to evacuate it, so he would not work on the trench and kept interfering with us who were working, with the result that he was told off pretty straight a couple of times after which he would merge into a temporary silence.
About this time a cry went up that there was a Turk behind, and sure enough one was sneaking along prodding chaps from behind, but someone soon fixed him. A bold bad man is Abdul. All night long the firing was kept up hotly on both sides, increasing in violence each time the enemy counterattacked, and as our position was in advance of the other points of attack, we were heavily enfiladed from both flanks, which caused us to distribute our fire.
Newton was hit hard near the jaw. He was helped out of the trench, and started downhill gamely at the run. I don’t know how far he got but I see by the lists that he is marked "Died of wounds.” His photo is in the album I sent you, taken when he was wearing a beard in those earlier stages when a bottle of water had to last you a day of twenty-four hours. He was a Wellington College Old Boy, and although he looked a man of forty in that photo, I think he was only twenty years of age. His cousin Walter Boyd was wounded on Table Top on Saturday the 7th of August.
Towards dawn the Turks came on vigorously their cries of "Allah” mingling strangely with the hoarse cries of our fellows. Then things were brought to a climax, when shells from our destroyers commenced falling amongst us causing terrible havoc. How the mistake occurred I do not know, unless the heads thought we had lost the position during the right, but in Ian Hamilton’s despatches on the battle which I sent you may be read words to the effect that “At daybreak on Monday 9th August, the sea and land batteries opened fire on the Chunuk Bair Ridge, the whole ridge belched with smoke and flame.” As half this ridge was in possession of the New Zealanders, you can imagine the state of affairs that arose. This with the fire of the enemy on three sides, and our own guns blowing us to glory from behind, the place now became a corner of Hell. The aforementioned “A" was now complaining considerably, a thing which has very bad effect when men’s nerves are at their highest tension. About this time someone called out that Bob Clark had been hit in the hand and had gone down hill. I have since heard that he had a small hole in the forehead. He was helped out of the trench, but was evidentially mortally wounded and I don’t think he got far. (Poor old Bob he and I and Harry Bryant slept together the first night at Awapuni.) I had seen old Harry Bryant fall at the hand of a sniper way back in May. A photo of Harry’s grave is also in that album and the grave is only a hundred yards from where he fell.
But I must get back to Chunuk Bair, where presently a man was blown thirty feet into the air by a navel shell, his limbs outspread, and his whole body a silhouette against the sky. Yet another shell and the charred trunk of another man’s body fell near us. Simultaneously the enemy attacked fiercely his hand grenades taking deadly effect. "A" suddenly cried “Come on Boys, retire.” I turned on him. “You cow, I’ll put a bullet into you.” I said through, the din. Sandy shouted, ‘You coward, I’ll bayonet you.’ He knew that it was meant, but it could be seen that his words had taken effect by the way the two men nearest started and stared when we spoke. Another British shell landed right amongst the boys. In the flash of the explosion we saw them hurled backwards from it. Poor old Hughie Pringle was killed, his throat ripped by a piece of shell and presently there came groping past us Clutha McKenzie blinded. Young Mell Bull his jaw smashed and another unrecognisable. As they passed us their faces covered in blood and hanging in tatters. Mell Bull’s wounds were fatal. Someone assisted McKenzie down to the dressing station and he has since told me about that terrible journey. Meanwhile the brunt of the attack was falling on the 6th. Capt. Hastings who was holding one troop in reserve sent them on a counter charge under Sergeant (Stump) Perrett. They dashed up most gallantly on the most forlorn charge, but as they reached the front parapet they encountered a hail of fire and bombs that the unfortunate survivors broke, and as they came running back, carried the chaps in our trench with them. For “A" had scrambled out and with him the remainder of our troop. About this time I saw Capt. Hastings get hit. I had fully intended to shoot “A” if he ran but he went at a time when an instant wasted meant the difference between life and death, and we were to busy shooting Turks to attend to him. I am glad now that it was so, as his blood is not on our hands and it gave him a chance to die a better death. Looking back on it later in calmness we concluded that it was not our place to judge. Arriving such a short [notice] previously and being thrust into the heart of a big battle, he was evidently over-wrought. Physical fear is such a strange thing. While [we] all are more or less affected by it in a tight corner, most manage to contain it, but in some it causes them to lose all control over themselves. A tragic fate befell this poor wretch about which I may tell you later. It was now that the remainder in the front trench were wiped out. Among them young Armstrong who you will remember used to live in Featherston Terrace. One moment they were working their rifles like men possessed, and shouting defiance. The next day they lay crumpled up in the trench.
Two only survived from that trench, Dal Taylor and Jack O’Brien, and they joined Sandy and l in as hot a defence as four men were ever called upon to put up. We were now for a time four, where a Squadron had been.
Just previous to this, a well-timed bomb burst in Bill Smith’s face blowing his head off. How strange war is. Only the previous night just before we charged he was having words with Bill Lynch which approached nearly to blows. Now they lay dead together having sold their lives dearly to the foe, as indeed did all our boys. Thus enabling us who lived to hurl back the enemy, whose ranks were thinned by the time he reached close quarters.
All these events took place so quickly that I am afraid this essay is misleading. So many things happening at once or in quick succession that it is difficult to relate them in proper sequence. Bombs were coming over fast and when they burst in our little parapet would obscure us from one another. Sandy and I would shout out through the smoke and dust and carry on reassured at receiving an answer to our inquiry.
We were now firing for all we were Worth, necessity seeming to add deadliness to our aim. Although one did not need to be a crack shot at such a close range. Nevertheless I found myself driving chiefly for the head, though the body was a bigger target, with a strange feeling of assurance that the bullet would find its mark. Perhaps it was the assertion of will power for Sandy has since confessed to a similar feeling of grim deadliness at the time. In the midst of it all I was shouting “Come back on the 6th.” And, “Come on you black cow” to the Turks. Sandy and the other two were shouting “Come back you … “ and “Come on you black …” to the enemy at the same time. For men mostly swear in action and who can blame them.
Neither do I blame them who left the trench. They were brave and tried men but the position had become an impossible one. All the same my old-fashioned ideas it seemed a dreadful thing to think I had lived to see New Zealanders run, that life itself no longer mattered so long as it was sold dearly. The fierce joy of battle was not always experienced up in the air. One felt that it was a glorious thing to do fighting for his side, and that here one could die exultant, as so many had done - but the bombs were falling all around now, many falling alongside wounded men, who had dragged themselves back a little from the trenches.
The least pause to rescue these, and we, and more Important still the position would be gone. For the enemy would have rushed through the fifty yards gap we were covering and curled up the Flank of the 2nd Squadron who were putting up a fierce resistance on our right flank. However it was an awful sensation, even in the firing of your rifle, for the mind to be waiting for a grenade to go off along side a wounded man and sent him to his swift account.
Such happenings however, at least put them out of their misery. These bombs were throwing so much dirt over us that It was difficult to keep the bolts clear. At last Sandy’s rifle jambes right in the middle of things. He reached out and seized a dead man’s rifle but the bolt of that was stuck too, so he just had to go slow keep cool, and oil his own up.
One man rallied to our call but he was there no time before a shell from the 75 at Walker’s Ridge got him and we were four again. How could we stop our own guns from bombarding our own sector? The telephone machine was now blown out.
For mending the wires connecting with this Bassett had earned his V.C. either on Saturday or Sunday.
In the growing light Del Taylor waved the position flag but this only served to concentrate the enemy’s guns on us more.
Both the Anafarta battery and the afore mentioned 75 paying us more attention. Owing to the lack of time the previous night our little trench was very shallow and this proved our salvation. For when the grenades dropped into our trench which was a dead end there, Sandy and I would hop out the back and [return] fire there until the bombs had exploded, and the other two having room to run along to the left for the same reason. We were fighting in our shirt sleeves so there was no overcoats or anything to throw out the bombs.
The main trench now was so quiet, just in front of us was full depth having been started by the Wellington Infantry on Saturday morning, and thus the [Turkish] bombers attacking our boys when they were embarrassed by shell fire in the rear had wrought carnage. I have seen many pictures of dead in the trenches but never one like that [our] trench and the communication trench leading from ours into it.
Sometimes instead of hopping over us killing the wounded behind on the slopes. At last another landing [bomb landed] in our trench. I side stepped but this time my companions couldn’t get far to one side as a wounded man had crawled along and blocked the trench so I crouched down on the ground close against them about six feet from the bomb which going off caught me in the knees.
I scrambled out thinking my right kneecap had gone. Reaching the 2nd Squadron trench which ran out to the right from a few yards behind us I paused and looked down to find but a small hole just below the knee-cap and a little blood trickling down. I was so surprised that with a nasty slang exclamation I turned round and hobbled back to my trench, leaving the boys there laughing. There was a small flesh wound on the side of the other knee which however caused no trouble. Meanwhile O’Brien had bean hit the same time as me and had gone off down the hill. This left three of us but another of our chaps joining us from the 2nd Squadron trench restored our little garrison.
There is a very thick and strong sock which many of the Turks wear Instead of boots. When wounded I was wearing a pair of these with the feet cut out round my knees for protection when kneeling on prickly bushes etc. and probably some of the dirt was taken off the fragment as it penetrated this material. Sandy gave me a piece of wadding but having no Zam Buk [Sambuk], I used Turkish rifle petroleum and shoving the wadding down between sock and knee the quickly swelling and stiffening limb was dressed. A stop to put a proper dressing on might have meant disaster just then.
"Are we down heartened." cried someone. “No" was the hoarse cracked chorus of voices. This with the cheering now and then we did give Abdul a false impression of our strength. Another rally by the Turks was beaten back and the enemy accepted for the time being his defeat, settling down to vigorous sniping from both flanks. Presently one of our Sergeants and a few men returned swelling our numbers to eight or ten. One of these, Son[ny] Law was shot through the heart shortly afterwards.
British guns were not now on wrong targets. The sun was rising, his rays beginning to light up the shambles around us and glinting on the bayonets far over Sulva Bay. Ships booming in the offing, tired men gripping rifles, watching keenly, now and then casting longing glances back down the gullies wondering If help would come. Of those lying out behind us the only one still alive was delirious and in fancy back in NZ.
The four of us went up to the Communication trench and had some good shooting towards the right. We were standing on our mates but they wouldn’t mind, and we were too exhausted to lift them all out. Such was the scene at Chunuk Bair upon which the sun shone on the morning of August 9th.
We found our little trench was the best defensive position under the circumstances.
With a leg that had assumed big proportions, I now sat down when possible and did not move about any more than I could help. If only Abdul had known how many were left in that gap, but there, he didn't, and possibly he was as exhausted as ourselves, for New Zealanders had not died there for nothing.
In the little neighbouring trench over which no Turk had come out alive the only sign of life among the many there, was the stump of an arm which now and then waved feebly for help and a voice which called “New Zealand" to our four listeners, who could get or give no aid for him. On the parapet above lay a hand. That hand had been throwing back Turkish bombs.
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