From the Heights of Chunuk Bair, to the last group of men to leave Gallipoli, to the Camel Corp and the sands of the Sinai Desert, Sergeant Garioch (Gary) Clunie of the Manawatu Mouted Rifles saw it all and lived to tell the tale. His amazing story includes the incredible odds of survival where he was one of only 73 men able to walk off Chunuk Bair on August 9th. 173 Wellington Mounted Riflemen took part in the attack.
Here is the first part of his journey - the attack on Gallipoli.
Gary goes to War
Extracts from The Dairy of Sergeant G.T.Clunie 11/749
6th Wellington Mounted Rifles - NZMR. See Record
Transcribed by his grandson GLENN CLUNIE and presented to the NZMR - Anzac Day 2009.
Gary Clunie enlisted in the 6th Manawatu Mounted Rifle Regiment on the 25th of August 19 14.
The Manawatu mounted rifles, along with the 2nd (Queen Alexandra’s) Wellington-West coast Mounted Regiment and the 9th (East coast) Regiment made up the Wellington Mounted Rifle Regiment which was part of the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade.
11/749 trooper G. T. Clunie reported for duty at Awapuni where he commenced training along with hundreds of other young men who were to make up the 2nd reinforcements to the main body, which shipped out on the 14th of October 1914.
On the 11th of December 1914 Trooper Clunie embarked on the troop ship SS Verdala and on the 12th they pulled out into Wellington Harbour, because of rough weather they remained in the harbour on the 13th then at 5 o’clock in the morning of the 14th they finally left Wellington, bound for North Africa via Australia, Colombo and then finally to Egypt where they arrived on the1st of February 1915 and disembarked on the 2nd December 1914.
Wellington Mounted Rifles parade at Awapuni 1914.
[All Diary extracts in Blue]
11th We embarked on Troopship 13 S.S. Verdala
12th We paraded at Newton Park at 2 o’clock and at 5 o’clock. We pulled into the stream
13th We lay in harbour all day. It was raining and rough.
14th We left at five this morning. It was lovely and fine and the sea was calm.
After 6 days of steaming on fine calm seas they reached Hobart at 9 o’clock in
The morning on the 20th of December where the spent the next 3 days combining
leave with route marches, on the 24th they left Hobart bound for Albany.
The reached Albany on the 28th of December after having Christmas at sea,
They left Albany on the 31st bound for Colombo, which they reached after two
Weeks sailing, on the 13th of January 1915.
They were not granted leave, so the troops took it upon them to take what they
called French leave, unofficial leave which they later got into trouble for.
They left Colombo on the 15th.
15th We left Colombo at 8 this morning. We were on the mat for taking leave and were fined 3 pounds and 14 days C.B
16th We had a retrial today and the fine was reduce to 2 pounds and 14 days C.B
My Dear Brother,
Just a note to let you know we are still plodding across the water. My word the sea is as calm as can be and the weather is tip top. It is getting nice and cool now. How are you getting on over there. I hope you are as well as I am. How is the little agricultural paddock getting on. Is the crop coming on alright. Tell Donald to hurry up and grow so he can come out and work for Kitchener.
Remember me to the Philips and all the people about and tell the it won’t be long be for we make the acquaintances of some of the old Kaisers men. Well we are having a good spin with the horses, we have not lost one since we have left Colombo. There were five men died on our ship and four on the Australians. I knew a chap that died here, his name was Campbell from Gisborne. Isn’t it hard luck kicking out before they get to the front. I had a good bit of fun in Colombo, They did not grant leave but we took French leave. They would not even let the niggers come and sell fruit, but they used to sneak in and we used to heave up stuff in buckets, so about 10 o’clock in the morning after we got there, five of us made it up to go ashore so we went back to the stern and dropped a rope overboard and got a boat to come in and we went down the rope like so many monkeys, by god we made them nigs pull for all they we worth. Well, we had a ripping good time ashore for about 6 hours, we saw all the town and came aboard about four o’clock and of course the next day were on the mat and fined £2 and 14 days C.B., but it was worth it
My word it was a nice place and we had a good time. Well Will old boy, I will have to knock off for now, so with the best of love to all,
I am your loving brother Gary.
PS: Jim Cameron wishes to be remembered to you all
No 11/749 W.M.R
Troopship No. 13
17th Lovely weather. Calm sea. A chap died on the Australian flag ship and we all had to stop while he was buried.
After Leaving Colombo they sailed for Egypt, arriving at Suez on the 27th and finally arrived at Alexandria on the 1st of February 1915.
29th We left Suez at 10 o’clock in the morning to go through the canal. We passed the H.M.S Ocean just as we entered the canal. Then next we passed the French ship Bovet some Battleships and several merchant ships. We saw a lot of our New Zealand Infantry entrenched along the canal and we anchored at the first big salt lake
30th We started again at 10 o’clock. We passed a lot N.Z infantry, Indians and Tommie’s and also the H.M.S Swiftshire and Majestic.
On the 2nd, they unloaded their horses and moved to Zeitoun camp near Cairo where they joined the main body
8th We had firing exercises today besides our exercising.
9th We had bayonet drill, firing exercise and exercising our horses. I went to Cairo in the evening and got to the decent parts. It was very nice in the civilised part, and very clean.
13th We went down to the Abbassia rifle range for target practice mounted. I was on Quarter Masters fatigue again this morning. Wellington won football match against Canterbury 21 to 3.
14th I went to the Pyramids and had a good look at them. I was in all the tombs and the vaults of the temple of the sphinx.
15th We did nothing but exercise our horses today I had a boxing match with Capstic on the stadium and won 3 two minute rounds.
4th I was transferred from reinforcements to the main body today. I am in No. 2 troop 6th W.M.R.
Finally after weeks of training, word came through they were off to the Dardanelles.
5th We got word we are going to the Dardanelles dismounted. Cheer. Ok the boys almost went mad.
Positions of the New Zealand and Australian camps outside Cairo 1914.
The New Zealand camp at Zeitoun situated to the North of the city by the Sweet Water Canal. The Australians in two different sites, The Gizza (Mena) Camp
next to the Pyramids and the Light Horse camp at Maadi to the south. Gary was in No 2 troop 6th W.M.R. (Manawatu) Squadron, commanded by Major C. Dick with Captain W.F. Hastings as his 2 I.C.
Mess at Zeitoun camp
While in Zeitoun they spent most of the time in training and on fatigues, however there was still time to see the sights and sounds of Cairo.
Zietoun camp Egypt
May the 6th 1915
My Dear Brother
I am just going to scribble a few lines to let you know the best news we have had yet. We are off to the Dardanelles on Saturday dismounted. We heard the other day that the brigadier offered the brigade as infantry and we were accepted. We are not going to carry any packs I believe, just our mounted equipment and a few little things we will need. Isn’t it good though Will, aft the way our boys fought to be going over to help them, my word they did but up a fight. I believe it was a real slaughter while they were landing. I have not heard how Ben got on yet. I see 3 chaps out of his section of 12 men are in hospital but I have not had a chance to see them yet. Anyhow I Hope he is still going strong. By gum Will you can’t imagine what a pleasure it is to be getting out of this hole of a place . Only two more days here. Oh it is alright . Well Will, that is pretty well all the news I can think of here at present. How is Nell and the children and yourself all getting on. I heard that you have been having good weather there lately and having a good season with the cows and I heard that granddad was coming down soon, so tell him from me that (it) is a great pleasure from to know that there is two of the family at the Turks and I reckon with a bit of luck we will both give a good account of ourselves.
Our New Zealand boys lost a bit over 1000. There are about 7000 so they lost pretty heavy but things won their way. How are all the folks there. I hope they are all well. Please remember me to all. The third reinforcement are to stay and look after the horses, so they won’t be there for a good while if ever they have the luck. By Jove there are a few cold feet in our regiment. there won’t be no trouble if they call for more volunteers for to help the thirds at the base. Well Will old boy I can’t write any more as I have six more to write and I have only tonight and tomorrow night
So with heaps of love to you all I must close
From your loving Brother
PS: don’t forget to write.
PS: how is the garden.
9th We embarked on the Grantully Castle and sailed at 8 o’clock for the Peninsular.
12th We lay off Cape Helles all day and went up to Anzac and landed at 7o’clock under fire. We marched up a bit of a gully and camped for the night. It seemed our boys were just up the cliff but it was the bullets cracking instead of the rifle shots.
Troops waiting to embark on the Grantully Castle, 9th May 1915
Grantully Castle at sea
. 13th We relieved a battalion of the R.M.L.I Nelsons off Walkers ridge. The Nelsonians they reckon they were glad to get off it
14th We have only one pint of water a man to do 24 hours, To make tea and all. So we are pretty dry. It is hot and dusty in the trenches too. We have a terrific fire turned on these trenches at night. They are frightened of an attack. Got 2 fine fat gobblers.
15th I had some good shooting this morning at some 5 Turks laying a line at 250 yards. I hit 2 and the other three got for it- got one sniper.
16th I had a very interesting duel this morning. I put my head up and very nearly had it shot off, so I got to another position and watched and presently I saw him in a bush just behind the Turk trench at 200 yards. So I got to it and so did he. We must have fired about ten shots each and at last I hit him and he died there but by Jove he gave me a narrow go for it. I had two through my tunic and the others were hitting the sand bags all around me. Best fun I ever had shooting yet Bill McKay was hit today in the foot.
19th The Turks made an attack in massed formation on us and the Australians on the whole front about 3 o’clock in the morning and we repulsed. Their killed is estimated at 3000 and wounded at 7000- Killed and our casualties altogether were 106.
20th I was on observation post today in front of the 18 pounder and I was knocked silly for a while by one of our own shells. Their was an armistice for two hour to collect wounded from half past 2 till 4.30.
24th There was an armistice today from 7 in the morning till 4.30 in the afternoon. I was out burying dead all day. We buried several of our own chaps that had been killed in the landings and 3600 Turks. They had the neck to tell us to take lunch.
25th Just the same as usual we were leaving the trench at 1 o’clock. Relieved by the Australians. A submarine torpedoed the H.M.S Triumph. We watched her sink it took 20 minutes. It started to rain like a deuce and we all got wet through. We went down to shrapnel gully and possied for a rest.
26th I was naving on the road up to walkers all day. At 5 o’clock Ana Farta found us and got on to us with shrapnel and we lost 2 killed and 7 wounded.
27th I had a spell today. We got shelled at breakfast time, lunch and tea time and only lost 1 wounded and Neil Campion killed.
28th We had an easy day. At night we took a Turkish trench by No 2 outpost and dug in right round there.
29th We were improving the trench all day. It is a scorching day and I have only a quarter of a bottle of water. I gave mine to a wounded chap last night. We are getting like the devil and they are shooting right down into us from the high country all round. We have lost 9 men. We were relieved by the 9th squadron at 9.30 at night and a destroyer kept playing her search light on us as we were coming back.
30th We got word just before daylight that the 9th were cut off so we had to go and get them out. We scrapped all day and broke through and pushed the Turks back to let the 9th out with their wounded. Heavy casualties on both sides. They had 30 and just as they got into the bottom of the gully a big reinforcement of Turks came up and we retired closing in behind the 9th. We got down to Fishermans Hut and got into some trenches there after 2 bayonet charges and we held there till just on daylight where the Turks retired up into the hills and we left and came home. We had 2 casualties at Fish hut.
AbridgedExtracts from THE OFFICAIL WAR HISTORY OF THE WELLINGTON MOUNTED RIFLE REGIMENT By Major A.H. WILKIE On the afternoon of the 28th May orders were received by the W.M.R. that the C.M.R. Squadron would capture it that night (No3 out post a Turkish post overlooking No2 Outpost) and that the a W.M.R. Squadron would relieve the Canterbury men And occupy the post. At 10 pm the Canterbury squadron left No 2 outpost and, advanced along a ridge leading towards their objective, they captured the Turkish trenches at about 11.30 p.m with slight resistance, the Turks retiring owing to the insecurity of the position.
The 6th W.M.R Squadron thereupon relieved the C.M.R. and the former immediately commenced to improve the defences by “digging in” their orders being to hold the post till relieved By daylight on the 29th (3.30am) the 6th squadron, not withstanding incessant digging, had found that the position was so much exposed to artillery and rifle and machine-gun fire that it was unable to do any further digging in daylight
At 9 pm the 6th squadron was relieved by the 9th(less one troop) under Major Chambers (5 officers and ninety-three other ranks).
By 10pm the Turks had seized the advantage which the configuration of the Ground presented, and Major Chambers reported that the post was surrounded By a large force which was attacking, and some time later-11.35- telephone Communication with the post was cut by the Turks.
Around midnight the 2nd squadron of the W.M.R was sent in to relieve the 9th,
however the presence of overwhelming Turkish numbers and their withering
fire the 2nd squadron were held up between No2 and No3 outpost and were
forced to take cover and go on the defensive, but their presence there helped
support the embattled 9th.
At 7 am the defective nature of the post for defensive purposes was most apparent. Clouds of dust raised by bullets, bombs and shells over the area of the position testified to its vulnerability to attack. But the men fought back desperately, their lines becoming thinner and their bandoliers emptier. to conserve ammunition and defend at the same time was a difficult problem, but “every bullet found a billet” and weakened the enemy pressure. The wounded had to take care of themselves, and many continued to fight when suffering from grievous injuries. The situation was indeed a desperate one, and reinforcements were urgently required to relieve the pressure. The 6th W.M.R .Squadron under Major Dick was therefore sent forward to join the 2nd to accomplish this. The 6th squadron connected to the 2nd at the head of wide gully and obtained a footing on a plateau whereupon No 3 post stood but some distance from it, to the north. In spite of all efforts these to squadrons were unable to make further advances owing to the number of Turks between them and No 3 post and also to the heavy fire that was brought to bear on them by the enemy occupying the higher ground to the east and north
The fighting continued all day with “deeds of individual heroism following one another in quick succession” with neither side able to get the ascendancy.
At 7 pm Major Chambers signalled to the Brigade Headquarters that the repeated bombing of the trenches on the northern side of the post had resulted in a portion of the trenches being damaged to such an extent that he could no longer prevent the enemy from getting in, ten minutes later a further message stated that the Turks had actually occupied the northern end of the trenches. Meanwhile the 6th squadron had gradually worked round the southern slopes of the hill on which it was held up, and its line advanced to within one hundred yards of the defended, but on account of heavy fire across the plateau it could advance no further. As evening approached the Turkish attacks on No3 diminished and the relief of the 9th squadron was effected at about 10.30 a Canterbury Squadron having arrived at that hour under cover of the 2nd and the 6th the position finally being handed over to the C.M.R.at 11pm whereupon the 9th returned to Fishermans hut At about midnight the 2nd and the 6th Wellington Mounted Rifle Squadron returned to fisherman’s hut. Soon after taking over No3 post the Canterbury’s decided that the position was untenable, abandoned it and returned to Fishermans hut. On the Turks finding that the post being evacuated, they followed the retreating troops and crossed the Fishermans hut ridge into the valley between it and No 1 post shouting “Allah” “Allah” as they pressed forward. Colonel Meldrum immediately took up a defensive position with the troops at his disposal and extended them from Fishermans hut ridge to No 1 post. A brisk fire was opened on the advancing Turks, who pressed their attack along the ridge in considerable strength but did not continue their advance along the valley, the defensive line arresting it. An advance under Captain Hastings was made along the ridge and heavy fire was brought to bear on the Turks, followed up with the bayonet. This proved most effective and broke the Turkish onrush and the enemy gradually withdrew back to No 3 post.
Old No3 outpost taken from No2 outpost looking east. Chunuk Bair is on the sky line. After that life on Gallipoli settled down to routine of, one day in the fire trenches, then one day in the support trenches, then back in the fire trenches - and so on, plus the need to bring supplies up from the beach, work on improving roads and tunnels. The weather was hot and dusty and all the time they were under constant fire by the Turks, while the stench of the dead in no man’s land was overpowering.
28th June Had a trip out to No 2 depot with the Indians. Went out at night and got 1 Turk on outpost duty.
30th Turks charged Walkers at 1 o’clock. I wondered what row was and came up and the fight was going good. They got into the secret saps. So had some shots till they gave up the attack and went back to work again. Turks killed 318.
4th July The Maoris landed this morning on the ship Hythe. I was hit with a shrapnel bullet in the leg but never went in far. Wedging it out.
5th My leg is pretty sore going to Lemnos tonight at 12
7th Still at Lemnos, getting right I am 21 today Feeling a good bit better
8th I went out to the H.M.S Prince George and had a good look over her. Fine Boat. Pretty night again.
The majestic class battle ship H.M.S Prince George
10th Waiting to go back to Anzac. Lot of Tommie’s
landing at Cape Helles.
11th I got back from Lemnos at 1 o’clock today on the S.S Hythe a bit lame but none the worse for that. Glad to get back. As right as pip Back on Anzac it was back to digging trenches and tunnels and more time in the firing trenches or in the support trenches, waiting for Turkish attacks or for word when the big assault would take place.
25th At half past one this morning the Turks
threw two bombs right into our trench along
side me. They knocked me over and exploded 5
of our bombs. I got 8 little pieces of it in
my legs and back Bill McKay got badly burnt
and a few light scratches. Our Captain
Hastings got one piece. McKay gone to
hospital. I went back after getting tidied
up a bit. I thought attack was coming off, but it didn’t.
Finally, on the 31st of July, after nearly 2 months on Walkers Ridge the Wellington Mounted Rifles were relieved by an Australian Light Horse Regiment and they retired to the beach below Walkers Ridge to rest and recuperate.
31st We were in saps till 2 o’clock, We were
relieved by 8th Light Horse. We came down and
took over beach positions at the foot of Walkers Ridge.
On the 31st the Regiment was relieved from the trenches by an A.L.H. Regiment and bivouacked on the southern slopes of walkers Ridge , The 9th squadron being placed in the No 1 outpost trenches, the remainder of the Regiment extended from the Wellington Terrace to the beach
The Regiment was still very weak numerically, the parade state being 24 officers and 338 other ranks fit for duty- nearly 200 short of full strength
Then in August the generals in charge at Gallipoli decided it was time to break the stalemate on the peninsular and a plan was hatched to attack the Sari Bair range and capture it’s hilltops of hill 971, hill Q, Chunuk Bair then attack down the ridge to the rear of battle ship hill and baby 700
SUNDAY 1st of August, heralded in what was to prove a most momentous month for the regiment - in fact, for the whole force in Gallipoli - for at this time plans for a big advance, on which so much was to depend , were being prepared. The objects of the advance were as follows:-
(1) To break out with a rush from ANZAC and cut off the bulk of the Turkish army from land communication with Constantinople
(2) To gain such a command for our artillery as to cut off the bulk of the Turkish army from sea traffic, whether with Constantinople or with Asia
(3) Incidentally to secure Suvla Bay as a winter base for Anzac and all the troops operating in the northern theatre.
For the operations General Godley’s army was to be divided into four different forces-a Right and Left Covering Force and a Right and Left Assaulting Column. The Right Covering force, under Brigadier-General A. H. Russell, comprised the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade, the Otago Mounted Rifles, Maori Contingent and Field Troop Engineers and its task was the most important one –viz, to capture old No. 3 out pos, Big Table Top, Destroyer Hill, Little Table Top, Bauchops Hill and Walden point to clear the way for the Right Assaulting Column.
As part of the Right Covering Column the W.M.R and part of the Maori Contingent were to capture Destroyer Ridge and Big Table Top
5th We had a good rest. Tommie’s landing 10,000
have come round here.
6th We had a good rest today. At 3 we moved round to No 2 outpost and at 9 we started creeping up into the hills. At 9.15 we charge. Two of my section were hit, One killed, One wounded. Got to Table Top and got stopped, shot in the thigh at 11 o’clock carried poor old Spurt (Fowler) back to the beach dressing station, arrived at 12 o’clock, we lay at the dressing station until 4 o’clock, left for embarkation wharf broke and lay on beach until 6 o’clock. On hospital ship Delta Belfast feeling pretty crook.
On the 6th of August the Wellington Mounted Rifles rested all day at No. 1
Outpost, in view of the operations which were to commence that night. a
conference of officers being held in the afternoon, at which the commanding
officer explained the plan of attack in detail, the orders relating to the W.M.R
being briefly as follows: The 6th Squadron under Major Dick was to attack
destroyer Ridge with two troops and clear the Dere (Gully) on the north leading
to Table Top with the remaining two troops. The 2nd and 9th squadrons were to
pass through along the Dere and capture the main position on Table Top.
At 8.45pm when all the arrangements had been had been completed, the W.M.R
(less Major Whyte and twenty five unfit ranks left in No.1 outpost) concentrated
in Sazli Beit Dere, and at 9.30 it advanced to the attack. The W.M.R followed in
the rear of the A.M.R till the later had moved to the left to attack old No3
outpost, where upon Major Dick, with the 6th squadron pressed forward along
the Dere to attack Destroyer Ridge.
After advancing in the dark for a distance of about two hundred yards, the
squadron was fired on from a distance of a few feet by a strong Turkish post.
Major Dick called “Come on the 6th”and, meeting with a ready response, all
the Turks were bayoneted .
The 6th squadron contained to advance, picketing the line en route, the main
body passing quickly through them and marching up the Dere towards Table
General Sir Ian Hamilton described in dispatches as the feat of capturing Table
“No General on peace time manoeuvres would ask troops to attempt so break-neck an enterprise. The flanks of Table Top are so steep that the height gives the impression of a mushroom top shape of summit bulging out over the stem. But just as faith moves mountains, so valour can carry them. The angle of the Table Top’s ascent is recognised as ‘impracticable for infantry.’ But neither Turks nor angles of ascent were destined to stop Russell and his New Zealanders that night. There are moments during battle when life becomes intensified. when men become supermen, when the impossible becomes simple—and this was one of these moments. the scraped heights were scaled, the plateau was carried by 11.15pm. With this brilliant feat, the task of the covering right force was at an end. No words can do justice to the achievement of Brigadier Russell and his men. They are exploits which must be seen to be realised” In all, 150 prisoners were captured on Table Top and eight on Destroyer Ridge. Our casualties were only four killed and nine wounded
7th We are occupying Table Top. It’s a pretty warm corner. We have lost a lot of men.
8th We advanced up Chunuk Bair or 971 and were cut out but held on and were reinforced by Australian infantry, Gurkkas, Maoris and Tommie’s.
9th Occupying 971.Its like hell. There are hardly any of us left. Turks keep attacking but we hold them. Our own shells got a lot of our chaps.
10th we were relieved by Tommies. We had hardly any food or water for 4 days. I was hit when we were going up with the water to the rest gully.
11th I am on the hospital ship Delta Belfast, feeling a bit seedy.
On the morning of the 8th of August the W.M.R received orders to be ready to move at 3pm. Before the Regiment left Table Top, heavy enemy rifle and machine gun fire continued, one other rank being killed and 2nd Lieutenant Cotton and seven other ranks wounded. At 3pm the W.M.R(less the 9th squadron), after having been supplied with its percentage of bombs and sandbags, moved to the head of Chailak Dere, where he reported to the C.O. reported to Brigadier General Johnson with 173 of all ranks, and orders were received that Chunuk Bair was to be held to last man.
Although the W.M.R were supposed to be in the support, this was changed as it
had difficulty in finding the correct trenches at night without a guide, they
found themselves in the centre of the forward trenches “ the cockpit of the whole position” at 10.30pm, and were only 5 meters from the summit with the
Turkish trenches a couple of meters behind that. The track to the dressing station was continually raked with machine-gun and rifle fire at short range, and many wounded were killed in attempting, or when when being assisted, to cross this deadly zone.
At 11pm Lieut-Colonel Meldrum assumed command after Lieut-Colonel Moore
retired hurt, with Meldrum were 400 Otago Infantry and 173 W.M.R.
Hospital tent, Ocean Beach, Gallipoli 1915
The attack on Chunuk Bair was finally repulsed on August the 10 when the
British reinforcements were overwhelmed and destroyed by a Turkish force
of over 6000 men, When the Wellington Mounted Rifles were relieved on the
9th only 73 riflemen managed to walk of the hill.
In his report to Headquarters Lieut-Colonel Meldrum stated I cannot speak to highly of the very spirited and determined conduct of all ranks of the W.M.R. during the twenty-four hours. I have specially recommended in my report as O.C Chunuk Bair post to O.C. New Zealand Infantry Brigade, the following officers and non-commissioned officers of the W.M.R., viz:-
For special distinction: Major J. Elmslie, Killed For special mention: Captain N.F.Hastings (wounded) Lieutenant Jansen. Lieutenant Logan, also Sergeant Ricketts and Corporal Corrie. I regret that the casualties were very heavy in my Regiment 110 officers, N.C.O’s and men being killed or wounded (out of 173 engaged).
The casualty list that was issued latter stated
Officers Killed: Major Elmslie, Captain Kelsall.
Officers wounded: Captain Hastings, Captain James, and Lieutenant Harris (All who died latter)
Other ranks: Killed 38; wounded, 74
Gary left Gallipoli on the 12th of August bound for hospital in Egypt where he would spend the next 6 weeks resting and recuperating before heading back to the front line.
12th On our way to Alexandria. The sea is calm.
13th We arrive in Alex and I came to Cairo by hospital train. I am in Gezirek hospital No.2 Australian general.
17th I was under the x-rays today. They saw a bullet in my thigh. Doc says no need to extract it as it won’t trouble me.
No.2 Australian Hos
My Dear Brother
Just a few lines to let you know I’m not much hurt. I was very lucky to get off so lightly as a terrible lot of our boys went down, my word it was a great charge , we were after a hill that dominates the country round for miles and right across the peninsular and we got to it, but our regiment has suffered heavily and all the other regiments the same . There are only one or two of our boys still going there, they are nearly all wounded or killed.
They landed a big force of Kitcheners’ army there and by gum they fought well and now I think the war on Gallipoli will soon end and I hope to be in at the kill. I think I will get back in a week or so. I am able to walk about again now and these little bullet holes don’t take long to heal. The bullet is still in my leg but don’t think they will bother to take it out here yet as it won’t effect my walking and they say it takes these operations a long while to heal. I was sorry when I got hit, I should have liked to go right through the charge, it lasted for 3 days and I can tell you at times it was lively.
Well dear old Will the only thing I hope now is they cure me and send me back in time for the kill. How are you all keeping – Nell and all the children. Are you all well. I often used to think over on the peninsular what I would have given for about two hours on your farm where I would have got at the milk and the cakes. How is the little garden doing that we used to do such a lot of talk over and a little work. By gum Will those were great days discussing war and tugging away at all those old roots. It was great and I often think of those happy old times. Still I don’t think it will be such a great time now before we all come trooping home again. I don’t think the wall a great deal longer. It is not a bad life. Will, this soldiering a bit lazy that is the only trouble. I would far prefer the horse work to the trenches except when we get out to fight like we did over there the other day. It was good. The best sport ever I had, only I broke my bayonet once and I was scared that one of them might skewer me before I got another one but there were plenty of rifles and bayonets all over the place. It was all bayonet pretty well the whole charge and I soon grabbed another one. By gum the black devils stood up to us with the hooks to start with but by god they did yell attack when we got to work. they very soon broke and scaled. Oh Bill it is a glorious feeling to chase them as we did that night. Well I’ll have to be closing down. Last I saw of Bill Lynch he was all right, please remember me to all the folks about there and give my love to jnr and now with love to you all I must say
Good bye from your loving brother
I havn’t caught a Hun for Donald yet, plenty of dead ones.
2nd Australian Hospital (Ghezirek Palace)
No.2 Australian Hospital
August 22nd, 1915
Dear old Will,
I am just going to drop you a line to let you know I’m almost fit for the front.
My wound is almost healed. The bullet is still in my leg but the doc says leave it there as he reckons it will never affect me and he is right too, can walk about tip top now. I am going to hit him up to let me go back to camp so that I can get back with the first lot of reinforcements that go. I am anxious to get back and see how far they have got the Turks back. I heard they yesterday that they were landing our artillery horses. That is good news as they will have to get them well back before they can use the horses as the country within a mile of the coast is all too rough. They had them pretty well driven back when I left. My word Will it was horrible when I got hit to see all our boys going past charging up the hill, I was knocked down quite early in the game.
We had a good bit of a scrap but I would have like to have seen it through.
It is a fine feeling, only it was terrible to see our boys getting cut up like they did, the 6th was nearly wiped out. We were in front and of course we naturally got well slapped up, although by heavens for every one ours I’ll bet there were three Turks, by gum they did squeal. It was more like sticking pigs than killing turkeys. Our Captain had his leg blown off below the Knee. He was the best officer we had too. All our Officers got knocked out and poor old Colonel Beauchop got very badly hit. He was on the same boat as I was and I asked him how he felt on Sunday morning and he could hardly speak but he said he was hard hit. most of the Mounted Regiments are pretty well cut up but we have plenty of reinforcements here so I suppose they will soon reorganise. I saw our Major yesterday; he got hit through the wrist. Egypt is still the same old place I would like to have about a week out of hospital to have a good time before I go back although I’ll be satisfied if I get a chance to get a way as soon as I get back.
My word, Will the Turks have played the game pretty straight over there.
The only time I saw them abuse the red cross was when we were lying on the beach waiting to be taken off to the hospital ship , they were sniping us good oh and my honest opinion is that they were a couple of German officers having a bit of revenge it seems like a German trick. The Turks have never done that before and I give them the benefit of the doubt this time too. We got some German Officers in the charge, they were great big fat devils only they are game beggars.
How is old pram looking the same old place I suppose. Have you been having good weather over there. We have had it great over here. It has been very good . Are the cows milking well, by gum, I would like to have my head in a bucket of milk now. By Jove I would make hole in it. How is the little paddock getting on. I hope you have had another good crop of it. There is some fine land over on the peninsula. It would be tip top dairying place. Just the right sort of ground. How are Nell and the children doing. Tell Donald I will fetch him some Turkey feathers when I come home. Is granddad over with you now . How is he keeping . I am pleased I have had the pleasure of meeting the Turks for his sake . He is very anxious to see them wiped out and he will before too long . I don’t think they will last much longer. Remember me to all the folks about there won’t you Will. How is Uncle and Aunt doing . Jo told me they had been crook with influenza but I hope they are both over it now
Well Will there is no more news that I can think of so with love to you all I will say Au Revoir
From your loving brother
PS: Write soon and tell us all the news and remember me to Jack Maclean and the old people
After being discharged from hospital on the 23rd of August he returned to Zeitoun camp where he was placed on no duties to let him recuperate , this left him time to explore Cairo and its surroundings and also more importantly, time to visit his mates still in hospital.
Then on around the 22th of September he was declared fit for active service and on the 27th he started his journey back to the front .
27th We left camp at 5.30 this morning and entrained for Alex. Arrived there 2 o’clock and embarked on S.S Kingstonian, sailed at7 o’clock.
30th We are lying fog bound of Lemnos.
1st Fog lifted about 10 this morning. We arrived in Murdos at 4 o’clock.
For the next 6 weeks, Gary and the 7th reinforcements joined back up with the remaining N.Z.M.R including the rest of the W.M.R regiment, (Except one officer and 13 other ranks of a machine gun section) who had been shipped back to the island of Lemnos for rest and reorganisation.
11th They are trying to make us go through the old drill again with the new men but we are not having any.
Oct 19th 1915
My Dear Brother
I received yours and Nells letter today and was pleased to hear you are all well . I also had a letter from Hal Fitton and old Pram is still the same old place eh . Well I won’t be none to sorry to get back to it. The game is getting pretty stale just now. I have been back here just a fortnight and they have mixed us old boys up among the reinforcements and are drilling the devil into us, I reckon it is a bit off there are only about 16 out of each squadron left that is 16 out of 160 and I reckon they ought to let the old chaps rest here all they can. Of course we have none of our old Officers here. The only two that are left are in Egypt and these reinforcement chaps , well they are giving us a grand old time drilling from daylight till dark.
I hope Will, they send us across there again soon, we shall have decent treatment for a man has almost as much say as an officer over there and I have got an account to settle with some Turk when I get back and I will but in a word for you or else a bullet . Well it is dark so will close
Here I am again, it is a couple of days since I stated this letter but here goes for the finish. Poor old Jim Cameron is missing Will and I’m afraid there is not much hope for him .
A shell landed right among some of them I believe but we must hope for the best. He may turn up again wounded in some hospital as others anyhow I hope so . I suppose Clem Aislobee will be home by this and you will have a list of how we fared . It is pretty cold here today but it is far better than the heat . It is just like some of those southerns you get there, a cold wind and light rain. It is just like old New Zealand weather .
General Sir Ian Hamilton has been recalled from his job and we have a General Munroe over us now so I hope we get a bit of a move on now. I think we shall be into it before long now and I won’t be sorry.
Well, Will old boy I can’t think of any more news so I will bring this letter to a close , hoping this finds you all well as it leaves me. I will say goodbye with love to you all from your loving brother
PS. Write soon
I had a letter from Nan the other day. Kia-Ora
Reinforcements soon commenced to poor in and on the afternoon of the 16th a French admiral inspected the Brigade. At the parade the few veterans from the Peninsula were paraded by themselves in front of the new reinforcements and it was a tragic sight to see the thin lines of worn sunburnt men in front of fresh troops. A strenuous course of general training was carried during the whole of the month of October and till the 10th of November, on which date the Regiment then comprising only nine officers and 363 other ranks returned with the brigade to ANZAC.
24th Routine order of camp
Physical Drill 7.00-7.30am
Parade 9.30am-12 noon
Lunch 12 noon
Breakfast Tea, Bacon sometimes fried sometimes boiled
Lunch Tea and plain boiled rice
Tea Tea and stew sometimes boiled beef
Oct 27th 1915
My Dear Brother
just a line to wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy New Year. I suppose it will be getting on that way by the time you get this letter. I hope you are looking after old N.Z over there. I would not mind being able to drop in for Christmas dinner. I don’t envy myself on bully beef and biscuits on good old Christmas day, especially now I have no teeth . I had mine broken yesterday trying to split wood with a pick and the dentist tells me he won’t be able to fix them until next Thursday at least and perhaps not then. so I have to go back to the old peninsular without teeth, I can picture for myself a pretty hungry time. Fancy chewing an army No. 5 biscuit with ones gums.
How is the weather over there. It is hanging out pretty well here, we get a drop of rain now and again but not much . It is very much like N.Z. weather here . We had a few of the old hands come back last night, two for our squadron , one was my mate who was in the bomb with me when we were on Walkers Ridge. He is right again now . I don’t think we will be here much longer now and the sooner we get out the better , providing I get my teeth in time . well old boy I am going to cut this short so with love to you all and compliments to the season
I will say Good Bye
From your brother
Even before the N.Z.M.R brigade was to return to Gallipoli there was a ground swelling of support at army head quarters in England for the Dardanelles campaign to end and the Gallipoli peninsular to be evacuated , not enough reinforcements could be found to push the campaign to victory as most troops were needed for the stalemate in Europe and after General Lord Kitchener’s visit in early November the decision was made to evacuate .
“The country is much more difficult than I imagined . the Turkish positions are natural fortresses or the most formidable nature. The want of proper line of communication is the main difficulty in carrying out successful operations. the landings are precarious; the base at Murdros is too far detached from our forces in the field”
Mean while on the 10th of November the Regiment returned to Gallipoli.
NOVEMBER 1915 10th We left Lemnos at 2pm on the SS Osmeneik, arrived at Anzac at 8 o’clock and came up to Taylor's Hollow.
11th We are making our dug outs.
12th Jack Robertson and I took a walk up to Walkers Ridge and had a look around. They started making terraces.
13th Kitchener landed at Anzac today. We are going on with the Terraces.
14th I was down tunnelling at Div head Qutrs.
15th General Russell called up all old hands and made a speech concerning his decoration. I went up to Walkers Ridge and back.
29th 20 of us carried up the cooks gear. It has stopped snowing and is freezing. There is some good shooting here. At 200 yards the Turks are out gathering wood just at dawn in dozens. Ground is hard Frozen to the bone.
30th Bill McKay, Jack Robertson, Hughes and myself are making a house. I went to Taylors Hollow and got a pole and 100 sand bags and the others went on building. Got home finished.
1ST We are in supports today. We finished our home and it’s the best one here. Snow thawing and the ground is very wet. We have a fire place inside and a fairly comfy. In the firing line at 9am, relieved at 4pm by No 4 post.
3rd I was on No 1 post today. In firing line all day relieved at 5.00pm fine day.
4th I was down at No 2 Depot for rum and in No 3 post at night.very nearly got caught with shells while down there.
5th Turks gave us straff today. Shelled No2 depot and hospital at same time.
6th I have been out all day in No 5 post tonight.
7th In support today. In No5 again tonight.
8th In No.1 post all day. I went out on a scout in the gully between trenches from 10 till 2 I heard about 30 or 40 Turks moving out the back of their trenches.
9th I had a sleep today and went into No 3 post, went out and bombed Turk trench at 11 o’clock. Got back at 1 o’clock.
10th I had a rest today, am guiding a patrol out to a good listening post tonight at 10 o’clock. Turks putting up wire entanglement.
11th I was out all day in No 4 post tonight. The weather is lovely. Quiet.
12th Came out of No.4 this morning. Started on a terrace this morning. At 7 o’clock I went down to No.2 as a guide to ammunition convoy. Quiet.
13th I started a tunnel in Mjr Samuels dug out. Off all other duties. All light and excused duty men warned to pack up and be ready to leave at 8.15pm. Artillery, A.S.C and Post Office all evacuating tonight. The weather is lovely and things very quiet.
14th Going on with tunnel. Fine day. On water fatigue.
15th Going on with tunnel. Am going down as guide to water convoy tonight.
16th Some more sick and frost bitten men went away today. I have left off tunnel in No. 1 post tonight.
17th Fine day. Out of post at 7 this morning, in supports tonight. Things very quite.
18th I was in supports all day in No. 4 post at night. The first batch leave tonight from our squadron at 8 o’clock.
On Sunday the 19th the final evacuation took place and by 2.00 am on the 20th the very last of Anzacs (the C” parties) left the forward trenches and made their way to the beaches where the last ones left the beaches and were on board the steamer by 4.00am .
The withdrawal of the W.M.R commenced on the night of the 18th, when 6 officers and 155 other ranks- about fifty percent of its strength –quietly moved away and , and all aboard a transport and on the way to Lemnos before daylight, the remainder of the regiment –divided next day into parties “A” “B” and “C”-remaining in the trenches without reserves of any kind
The next night the withdrawal was resumed, and by 9.30 “A” and “B” parties had left the line, which was then held by the small “C” party under Major Samuel, till 1.40 the next morning when the C.O. and a few men withdrew with machine guns to take up a position lower down to give support in event of an attack. Another small party left at 1.50 leaving the “last ditchers” -Captain J.B. Davis and eleven other ranks(Including Gary) to take the place of the whole regiment holding the extreme left of Anzac for the next 15 minutes. During this period incessant rifle fire was maintained, and then “silence” the little party quietly departing by the way of Aghyl Dere, past No.2 Post and Maori Pa – a long march before joining other “C” parties-. Next morning those who had been last to leave Gallipoli arrived at Lemnos , where they were given a rousing reception by the Anzacs and the Tommie’s assembled there.
19th (Sunday)I was out in the trenches in the morning. came in at 1 o’clock I had charge of No. 5 post and W Boyd No.4, D. Ingles No.2 Jack Robertson No. 1 “A” party left at 4.30 today consisting of 18 men . “B” party consisting of 9 men went at 9.o”clock and only left the 7 of us to garrison 6th trench until 2 o’clock . Serg.Mjr Jischell, Sgt Mjr Gibbons, Sgt McKay and signaller Beck. We left at 2.15 and left the beach 3.30 on board by 4.00am
On board SS Horarata
December 24th 1915
My Dear Old Brother
I had the pleasure of receiving 2 letters from you last mail and I am very please to here that you were all well . I am feeling fitter now than I have since I joined the outfit . The last few weeks on the peninsular I was eating like a horse and put on condition tip top. It was nice and cool and we had a real good position to hold.
I had a big mail last trip, I got 12 letters and before that I had not had a late letter for 3 months. None since I left Egypt. I have not had any parcels from you yet, but if you send any more, register them and I am sure to get them.
Well old boy I guess you have heard by now that we have left old Anzac for good, It was hard luck Will wasn’t it after all the good old boys we have lost.
it was a knock to us that have been fighting there all the time and I don’t mind telling you that I think any of the old hands would have far rather had word to have another go for 971 than to give it all up for nothing , however the evacuation was a great success even more so than was expected I think
Of course they had been sending stuff away for a week before we left then the word came that half of every regiment in the firing line was to go at 4.30 one afternoon. Next day, the same time 18 went from each squadron, at 9o’clock 9 went and that only left 7 of us to defend our whole length of trench until 3 in the morning. There was only one man at each lookout post, which were about 2 chain apart and I can tell you I was a long lonely watch. We had to stand with our head over the trench the whole time and our legs ached something awful. Of course we were all old boys that stayed and when we left we were sort of expecting the Turks to break, but luckily for us their spies had not been up to the mark and we were able to stick out our chests and march of in a dignified way . We had about two miles to go to the landing and just as we got into the punts they blew up Walkers and retired so they only had only had to come on to punt and away they went. Well it was a great joke the Turks never knew we had gone , for the usual fire went on after we left, we could hear them firing away on the empty trenches and at 7 the next morning they put in a great bombardment over our trenches. it was a great joke to see them shelling the place with no one there.
We came over to Lemnos and there they had a guard of honour to meet us with a band. There were about 200 all together Australians and New Zealanders and to see the fuss they made of us , you would have thought we had got old Kaiser Bill with us , but we were very lucky. If there spies had got wind of the move we would have very likely got wiped out because we would have had to fight and hold them back at all costs, but our luck was in and there will be some big court martial’s to be held over some of them Turk Officers for letting so many men get away and not getting one of us
Well Will we had a couple of days at Lemnos where we got our mail then we embarked on this boat for Egypt. We shall get there some time tomorrow. We are going to be mounted and get after those blacks that are rising.