Gallipoli Letters of Greville Garland.
A selection from letters sent home to his family in New Zealand by
13/338 Greville Garland – 4th Waikato Squadron – Auckland Mounted Rifles
Departed New Zealand with the Main Body 16th October 1914.
12 May 1915
Just a line, there is a chance of getting through. We are here at the mouth of the Dardanelles — Cape Helles — at last. There are dozens of warships, transports etc. here, including the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ - she is a bonzer. We can see one fort here that has been smashed to pieces — by jove our big shells have made a mess of it. We can hear heavy firing - warships - a few miles away. We expect to land tonight - have an awful load to carry – 200 pounds, pack with overcoat and complete change, jersey etc. and shaving gear - haversack with 24 hours rations and emergency ration and as the transport wagons are not being landed we have to carry our blankets as well, so we have a fair weight. We have about 2,400 on our boat, the ‘Grantully Castle’ which is about the same size as the ‘Star of India’. Les is not with us - he’s on the ‘Kingstonian’ but I expect we’ll land together. This boat is fitted up very well in England - she has been carrying troops for a long time. Must stop now. Sent you a p.c. yesterday. Hope you are all well, I am very fit had a lovely trip and wasn't sick.
Your affectionate son
p.s. This is the only envelope I can get.
15 June 1915
Dear Father and Everyone
We’re still hanging on here and nothing very much is happening, things have been very quiet lately. By jove I wish you could have seen the bombardment by the battleships round here - being on a fairly high hill we can see the whole affair — too see those big shells bursting is wonderful — good Lord they do kick up a dust. There are several destroyers of ours here too (we call ‘em the ‘bull-pups’) who nose quietly round and if there's anything doing the enemy soon knows all about it. They’re handy little brutes. It’s very decent watching our aeroplanes circling round -the weather for flying here is tiptop, practically always clear and fine and to see the machines away up in the blue sky sailing round is lovely.
They are always shelled and shot at, but never seem to get hit – the ---CENSOR--- wack the shrapnel at them good-oh which burst all over the place — there’s a lot of room outside an aeroplane though and she sails serenely on — buzzing like a great bee. The other day we were in the front trenches and one of ours flew over - pretty high up — the ----CENSOR--- turned their machine guns and rifles on her, quite a fusillade followed, futile of course - she calmly sailed on and when she got over the Turk’s places of business she let drop 3 whopping great bombs – we could see the lovely brutes turning end over end as they came down and then the rending, tearing sort of explosions followed and great clouds of smoke etc. - it must have shaken the tar out of them. While they were shooting at our aeroplanes their rifles were sticking up out of their trenches which was only about 40 yards from ours, (it’s nearer in places too, the other day we were slinging stones at them for fun) the cunning devils though kept their heads well down. I was using a periscopic rifle and shooting as fast as I could at their barrels, but I am afraid did not do much damage. There’s a Turkish gun away over in the hills, which slings shrapnel at us unceasingly — counting Australians and ourselves she must have got two or three hundred since we’ve been here — one evening an 18 pounder shell landed right in the middle of our dug-out and then exploded and blew a big hole — three of us were huddled up in the corner and never got scratched though bally near suffocated. I wasn’t there - had just gone to the hospital with a chap who’d been hit. My blanket, sleeping bag and oilsheet have been riddled and ruined. I don’t mind though as long as my hide is in tact.
I'm appealing to the censor not to stop this, there’s no information in it, but we’re not supposed to write very long letters. However, I throw myself on his good nature and don’t fear much. Am keeping fit as a fiddle. Hope you are all very well. Love to you all.
Your affectionate son
P.S. Please send a cake once a month.
29 May 1915
Dear Father and All
Am trying to send you a few lines - it’ll be a hard job to find an envelope for this, though. However - we’ve been here getting on for three weeks and so far have only had one decent scrap - that happened on the 19th instant.
The day after we landed here we went into the trenches and luckily our Squadron, and particularly our Troop, was right in the thick of it. We were holding a trench down towards a gully and at midnight the enemy opened a terrific fusillade (rifle and machine) at us - everything had been so quiet before - I was on watch when it started and by jove I bobbed down pretty quickly (I was standing in a sandbag recess where there was room for two to deal it out over the top (a jolly good place). Some of our chaps answered but it was very dark and nothing could be seen so I didn’t shoot. After an hour their shooting stopped and everything was quiet, I didn’t like it a bit — everyone was sleepy — and we knew they’d rush us sooner or later.
However, three of us took it in turns to watch at our end and I’d just gone on at about 3 a.m. and hadn’t been looking over more than a few seconds when I saw black forms jump up and come at us from all round — by jove they were close - 15 or 20 yards out - they must have crept up quietly for some distance. Anyway I sang out like the devil and shot the two nearest, then you should have heard the row of the firing, it was deafening - the whole hillside was stabbing fire everywhere. The first attack was made in absolute quiet, but after that they came on singing out ‘ALLAH’ ‘ALLAH’ ‘ALLAH’ it sounded jolly creepy in the dark, but we kept on slathering it into them and as it began to get lighter we could do more execution. After the first rush they jolly nearly got into us - got right up to the trench and slung in hand grenades which killed and wounded several of our chaps.
Another chap and myself were in that sandbag place and when it got light we had some great shooting - from 50 to 150 yards - we could see up an old road affair and an open place beyond and they came across this place and down the road — we were rapid firing without a stop and the range was so short that it was deadly. About 50 yards up this road we had a ghastly heap - but they still kept coming on and we kept on shooting - there was plenty of ammunition, two chaps kept me supplied. By jove you should have seen the heap of dead out in front - it was rotten to see the writhings and squirmings.
I can’t describe the whole affair it would take too long. Our troop lost heavily, 6 killed and 6 wounded, out of 30 odd men. The former included our Lieut. and a Sergeant - this Sergeant was a fine chap too - he was standing beside me when a bullet blew the hack of his head out, there were blood and brains all over us. Our other Sergeant was wounded and also a Corporal so we finished up with a Corporal (Wilf Taylor) in charge - next for ‘dooty’ —yours truly. The attack finished at about midday. We are out of the trenches now having a spell, we had 10 days there on end. I have been keeping very fit, never got hit at all during the scrap. Les J. had the bad luck to miss it. Jack C. is well. I am a Corporal now - got another stripe the other day. That Birthday cake arrived the other day - we have been living on bully beef and biscuits - so I leave you to imagine what it was to us. Oh Lord, it was lovely. Have had two mails here - glad you got the flagstaff up safely.
Kindest regards to everybody and love to you all.
Your affectionate son
P.S. Please send another cake.
24 June 1915
Dear Father and Everyone
Have been having a bit of spare time the last week - we have just put in a fortnight in the trenches (during which time I got three Turks only) and are now out for a spell - that is every three days we get 24 hours sapping and sundry other jobs, but all the same we don’t have such a bad time at all - we’re down close to the beach now and get plenty of swimming. As I’ve told you before the weather is absolutely perfect. I am sending you a clip of 5 cartridges which got hit.
While we were in the trenches some Australians were sapping near us and one had taken off his bandolier and dumped it on the bank of the trench, as he thought, out of sight. Evidently it wasn’t, as that morning the Turks were banging away at us with a machine gun (wasting ammunition only) and the old bandolier that was well riddled and ripped. I picked one clip out of a torn pouch — you will see where two or three bullets have struck it.
I'm jolly glad to get your photographs - they are tiptop. I see the National Reserve Badge standing out well. That Badge will be worth keeping. I'm glad you got a half-holiday in honour of the landing here — by jove they’ve earned all honour too — you should see these hills they scaled. There was a pretty heavy toll though, especially on getting over the hill. The No. 3 sap that we held on the night of the attack ran through the corpses of Turks, Australian and N.Z.'s everywhere, they’d been dead three weeks and in several cases lying right against the bank of the trench (the sappers had a sort of rake affair to roll ‘em out of the way as the sap went on) so you can imagine what it was like. Several times different saps have been driven right through rough Turkish graves, with the result that different parts of the occupants have been exposed. This is a gruesome tale but facts nevertheless. They’re things I’ve seen. Roy Lambert is buried just near the edge of one of our trenches — his name etc. is cut in tin on a cross. He wasn’t killed in a boat as I believe I told you once, but after getting over the hill. I believe he’d done very good work too. I’m afraid the N.Z. people got a bit of a shock when they heard or saw the first casualty list, the one containing a list of those killed must have been worse though. The Aucklanders lost the most I think; also of the Mounted Brigade I believe our (A.M.R.) losses are the heaviest.
Of the operations here I cannot tell you anything, it is not allowed. By courtesy of the censor I am permitted to send you this clip of cartridges and trust it reaches you safely. There ---CENSOR--- If you could sent this, and also the one I wrote about our little scrap, to Le Petit (N.T.V. Le Petit, Dalgetys, Wellington) I would be jolly glad.
He would return them I know. I have only four envelopes left. So if you will drop him a note with them explaining this and asking him to return them he will do it without fail I know. I hope you and all are keeping very well.
Must stop now. Love to all.
Your affectionate son GREV
5th July 1915
Am sending you a line or so but there’s nothing much to write about - things have been pretty quiet here for some time. We are putting another spell in the trenches our period of rest ended last week. We had the bad luck to miss an attack which took place a couple of days before we went in. The Australians had relieved us so they scored — the affair wasn’t very big but they got some lovely shooting. I went up and had a look at the ground in front of our trenches and by jove there was a pretty fair harvest, there were dead Turks lying everywhere - some of them were shot right on our parapets others fell into the different saps and got well prodded. The Australians lost very few men. Jack Cleland has gone to the Hospital somewhere, he’s been bad with dysentery - off and on - ever since we’ve been here; it’ s a good thing for him, I think, this racket would kill him unless he got a complete change of diet. I’m sorry to say that his hearing is not any better. Now about Les Jaram. He went to the Hospital about a month ago - a touch of dysentery too, I think - but when he got to Lemnos I believe he and a number of others were fed on some tainted milk or some bally muck and they contracted enteric fever. I never wrote about his going away because at the time I expected him back in a week or two at the outside and didn’t want to worry his mother needlessly. I think now it won’t be out of the way to let you know and you can inform his mother or not as you think fit. He will very possibly have written to her, but of course I can’t tell. He is not at Lemnos now, but has most likely been taken on either to Alexandria or Malta - I have asked Capt Shera several times and he doesn’t (and no one else) know where he is. However, I've no doubt he’s doing satisfactorily, otherwise the Captain would have been advised. I expect Les will hop back here any day now.
The ‘Triumph’ was torpedoed off the bay here about 6 weeks ago. Two of us were on top of a cliff and were watching her through glasses when it happened. She was only about 1½ or 2 miles off the shore and there seemed to be something doing as about half a dozen destroyers were buzzing all round and about her and Alex Maryin (our Sergt. at that time) remarked that she seemed pretty safe as she also appeared to have her torpedo nets out. Even as he finished speaking a huge column of water shot up from her side - it went as high as the top of her masts - and she immediately commenced to heel over. I never heard any explosion; possibly being so surprised it passed me unnoticed. There was no confusion whatever; we could see the sailors all in line on the deck. She took about 8 or 10 minutes to turn over and about another 1/4 of an hour to go out of sight altogether. It gave us all a shock to see her smacked out so suddenly, it was a sight I never expected to see and don’t wish to see again, unless they’re German battleships, then I’ll be only too jolly keen to watch.
This letter is taking the last envelope I have, so it will be the last for a while. I am expecting a supply of envelopes to reach me shortly from Egypt. Will you please send this on to Les Petit if you don't mind - he will send it back.
Hope you are all keeping very well. As usual I’m keeping absolutely fit.
Haven’t ventilated any Turks for weeks and weeks. You can send me some envelopes and block the size of this, please.
Love to you all,
Your affectionate Son
19 July 1915
Dear Father, Mother and Everyone
We have again just come out of the trenches for a spell - this last fortnight we put in there, as far as I know, I never ‘did’ a Turk, we had a fairly quiet time. Our Squadron lost about 6 or 7 men through shrapnel, (the Turks give us a bit of a spin with this every day) arid I ‘m sorry to say that Lieut. Abbott – the young man you met at Epsom camp — was also wounded. A shrapnel bullet struck him through the point of the jaw breaking it - and then on into his throat. It was a nasty wound but not dangerous. Young Jack Kemp also got hit a couple of days before we came out - another shrapnel bullet caught him in the back, just above the kidneys somewhere, luckily it missed the spine. He is doing well though and will recover alright. It’s rather good fun watching our Howitzer shells (6 lb) fly over our heads - we were in reserve that evening and watched quite a number go over — by gad they travel and then in a moment or two there’s a crash over in the Turkish trenches. It’s great fun (for us). Jack Cleland came back from Hospital (Lemnos) the other day - he’d bolted from it, the place wasn’t too good - he was still bad though, couldn’t eat and could hardly walk about. The Doctor that evening sent him away again, probably to Alexandria or Cairo, but J.C. is writing to me as soon as he can. Les Jerram is in Cairo somewhere, I can’t find out which Hospital though, but you can be sure that all patients there receive the best possible attention. I’m jolly glad father recovered from his operation, it must have been a painful affair. I knew he was having it done and couldn’t make out why no one wrote about it. However he’s got through it safely and I hope the holiday at Uncle Ben’s pulled him round properly. The Opal bath should have been just the thing. Father should take things easily for some considerable time.
The weather here continues perfect, but pretty hot — the flies though are something devilish. If you see Gordon Mac please tell him that the ‘Abdullahs’ arrived safely and many thanks. One of our aeroplanes was up this afternoon over the Turk’s position - she looked beautiful against the blue sky – there wasn’t a single cloud about. The Turks were slinging shrapnel at her good-oh - it was pretty to see the while clouds as the shells burst. She wasn’t hit at all, some of the shells seemed to go fairly close though, but she took no notice and sailed serenely round and round having a good look. One empty shell fell into our little gully - you should have seen the rush for shelter as we heard it whirring down — it fell about a hundred yards up from us and never ‘got’ anyone.
I’m afraid I can’t send you any news, when we are allowed, though, I’ll dip deeply into the ink. Must stop now. My health so far has been tiptop, I keep as fit as a fiddle, have been very fortunate in this respect. We were inoculated the other day against Cholera, I believe that next month the above malady has it’s annual outing in this part of the world. I hope by this time father has quite recovered and left the ill effects of his operation behind for ever. Have had to use an old envelope but hope it carries through safely.
Love to you all.
Your affectionate son
30 July 1915
Dear Ruth Muriel and Norma
It’s about time I wrote to you, but haven’t been able to before - have had no envelopes and couldn’t get any anywhere — but yesterday I stumbled over a few so here we are.
At the start I had better tell you that there will be just about no news - things here are as quiet as a Church mouse. I am sorry to say that your Mr Haddock’s brother was killed here the other week. You will have heard long ago but it was back luck. We were just going out of the fire trench into reserve when a shrapnel shell burst just over the part of the trench where Haddock and several others were. It just about killed him outright and another of our chaps was very badly wounded and has since died also. Haddock and the other men also were tiptop chaps. I haven’t seen Clarkie at all since we came here, he must be dodging round here somewhere, I'll come across him some of these days I suppose. We are out of the trenches now and in ordinary cases would have gone back today, but are evidently out for a longer spell this time.
Being out of the trenches doesn’t mean that we are resting all the while – there are all sorts of fatigues - picquets and guards and also sapping and the Lord knows what, it keeps the whole crowd going all the time.
We have quite a lot of fun here in one way and other, practising cooking, or rather experimenting, with our many and varied (I don’t think) rations, although lately we’ve been getting jolly good ‘grub’ and one or two changes. The other day we got fresh meat (frozen), onions, bacon, sugar, tea, flour, rice, figs and lime juice - not bad, eh? Oh, biscuits too. Of course we don’t get these everyday, our usual round is bully beef, biscuits, bacon, cheese, tea, sugar, and onions with a few potatoes mixed, so you see we don’t do too badly in the way of ‘tucker’. Latterly on one or two occasions condensed milk, 3 tins to about 30 men, has been substituted for cheese, so we’ve been living like Kings..
You should see and taste my flapjacks and rissoles - they’re not bad when they are hot.
Last evening a German Taube flew round here, two of us were down near the beach getting some wood, when the air-johnny dropped a bomb - I think he was after some stores on the beach - he made a bad shot though, and it dropped about 50 yards out into the water, by jove, she went off a bit when she hit the water, you should have seen the mound of water fly up - 60 lbs of high explosive makes quite a concussion, just like getting a smack on the back of your neck.
We wear the short breeches now and the other day we were served out with infantry web equipment. We’ve all been inoculated twice - for the prevention of Cholera. I hope we haven’t to be prodded for very many more diseases, if we do, I will be like a cullender shortly. A couple of reinforcement chaps came over yesterday and one of them told me that old ‘Shamrock’ is as fit as a fiddle, by jove, I'd like just now to have a gallop on the old beggar. I must tell you how much I look out for your ‘Weekly News’, by gad, they’re absolutely IT, you can’t imagine what they are to us, I read each one through and through until the arrival of the next — sometimes two come together — then there’s a Tangi. It’s getting dark now so I must stop. Remember me to all the Dalgety people, etc.
Love to you all.
Your affectionate brother
12 August 1915
Dear Father Mother and All
You will have heard all about this ‘scrap’ of ours long before this reaches you, also that I’ve been winged, but it’s nothing serious. We had been waiting for this business for a long time and last Thursday we received orders to pack up all gear ready to march that night. We left blankets and oilsheets at Regiment. Q. Store and travelled (with our packs as light as possible) round to No. 2 Outpost on the left. The whole battle started next evening - our (Regt.) job was to take a Turkish position on a ridge in front of our outpost, so we set sail quickly round a gully as soon as darkness set in and at 9.30 p.m. rushed the place. I can’t go into all details but the feature of the affair was to be surprise and dash. We had to charge with our magazines and rifles empty, relying on the bayonet only. We caught the Turks fairly on the hop - most of them had withdrawn when our destroyer had sent a few shells into them - she used to send a few shells here every night so they evidently took it as the usual evening’s entertainment — never dreaming we were waiting for the turning off of the searchlight. (The signal to rush.) We had crawled up through the scrub in the meantime and as soon as the light switched off our chaps rushed up, bayoneted what Turks there were — a few were taken prisoners — and it wasn’t very long before we had the whole show. The 4ths. were in support - the 3rds and 11th made the first rush - we all lost a few men though, and also we had an Officer killed by a bomb.
Our attack was timed for 9.30 p.m. and at 9.40 p.m. we had the show, and telephone communication back to H.Q. The Wellington Mounted’s also captured a position on our right and the Otago’s and Canterbury’s did their jobs on the left. Otago’s had a rather hard nut to crack but both crowds got through alright, capturing two or three guns that had worried us all for a long time. In the morning there was a great sight away out to our left, a crowd of big transports had slipped across under cover of darkness, and our attacks, and had landed on a big flat a couple of Divisions of K’s [Kitcheners] Army. These Tommies swarmed across the flat - surprising the Turks completely, mopping them up as well as getting a few 1000 prisoners, and then on towards the big ridge containing a couple of high hills - Chunuk Bair and 971 - this high ridge was the main objective.
The Turks were fighting fiercely up towards this ridge and our Regiment was called out to march up to support - we started at mid-day and stayed the afternoon and night in a gully - got 5 men hit - two seriously. We moved off for the top at 8 a.m. the next morning and reached H.Q. at dawn. To get into support of the firing line we had to charge over a bit of a ridge under a fairly hot fire and lost some more men here. Then we had to lie all day in the blazing sun in a slight hollow under rifle and shrapnel fire - we couldn’t reply in any way - just simply had to lie there waiting to be shot, expecting every moment to be the last. It’s a rotten sort of feeling especially when there are dead and wounded all round - the latter groaning etc. and not a hope of their being got out until dark — some of the poor chaps were in agonies of pain — that shrapnel played old Harry with us.
Your affectionate son
No. 2 General Hospital
14 August 1915
Dear Father Mother and All
Am able to send you a few lines in black and white this time. I got winged the other day on the Peninsular and had to be sent over here. We had been expecting a little ‘dust up’ there for some time and last Thursday (5th) we got orders to pack all our gear up - left our blankets behind - and at 8.30 p.m. marched off - with packs as light as possible - round to the left of our position (No. 2 outpost) and camped there the night and all next day. That evening we received our final attacking orders — our Regt. was to capture a Turkish position on a ridge not far away - the Wellington’s had a similar job on our right and the Otago’s and Canty’s respectively on our left. The position we were assaulting was known as Turkish Outpost or old No. 3 - we used to have it once and the feature of the whole attach was to be surprise and dash. We had to charge with our rifles and magazines absolutely empty, relying on the bayonet only. A destroyer in the bay used to send a few shells on to this place every evening, so it was arranged that she should shell as usual, (we were to creep up the gully and get into position while this was going on), at 9.30 p.m. precisely the searchlight was to be turned off and the show was to start. Everything went splendidly - the 3rd and 11th were the first line and we (4th) were in support, were well up though.
We were all carrying a pick or shovel each but had to drop them when we started to climb the ridge - some of the 3rd boys had come across the Turkish outpost – four men I think, and promptly stuck them and then on towards the top and when the searchlight switched off we were in position and got into it straight away. The Turks were caught fairly on the hop - they evidently thought the destroyer was giving her usual evening’s entertainment and had no idea of an attack. Most of them had withdrawn on the other side of the ridge - leaving a comparative few in the trenches to keep watch until the shelling ceased. These few were quickly bayoneted, one or two taken prisoner and in a few minutes we had all their trenches excepting a small one on the back of the ridge. There were two companies of Maoris following us up and they charged across and took this one - they lost one or two men — it wasn’t a serious affair, but they cleared away some snipers who had been annoying us. Each of our three squadrons lost a few men - we had an Officer killed (died during the night) by a bomb, it shattered his shoulder and arm. The next morning there was a great sight from the ridge we’d taken. Away out to the left by the Salt Lake a whole crowd of large transports had slipped across during the darkness and had landed a couple of Divisions of K’s [Kitchener's] Army. These Tommies had swarmed across the flat and surprised the Turks completely - mopped up a lot of them and took a good few prisoners and then on towards a long high ridge containing hill 971, Chunuk Bair etc. this big ridge was the main objective of the whole attack and was being assaulted in different positions or practically along the whole face by other Tommy Regiments. (which had landed a few days previously) and also by our own infantry.
Three or four cruisers in the bay were sending big shells along the top of the ridge - gad you should see some of the big chaps burst, it’s quite a sight. At mid-day we received word that our Regiment had to march up to the support of some others (Tommies) near the top of that big ridge - so we set sail but were held in a gully at the food all the afternoon and that night and at 2 a.m. the next morning (Sunday 8th) we left for H.Q. at the top. We lost five more men on the Saturday. Reached there about dawn and then to get into support had to charge over a rise under a pretty hot fire and into a small hollow a short distance over - lost a few more men during this bit of a dash, one or two killed etc.
Lying in that small dip all day through was the rottenest job we’ve done so far.
The Turks were sniping at us from up the hill — several of our chaps got shot —one of the Engineer chaps who was laying a telephone wire about a yard in front of where I was lying had his backside sticking up and got shot clean through it - fortunately missing all bones. Then they got shrapnel on to us - this was the very devil, and played the mischief with our fellows. Our C.O. Major Chapman, got hit through the leg and died from shock and lass of blood - he was an elderly and very decent man - and others were being smacked out right and left.
We couldn’t reply in any way and lying among the dead and wounded with groanings etc. wasn’t too cheerful - the fellows stuck to it although no one knew what moment might be his last. We had no entrenching tools so started to dig in – as best we could - with our bayonets. While at this one shrapnel bullet went through the front of my cap, any closer would have been dangerous. To make a long story short, the Regiment (or rather what was left of them) moved up to the firing line later in the afternoon, my troop was left behind to bring up rations, water, etc., we’d had nothing served out to us for three days. We got up to the firing line somewhere between 9 p.m. and midnight and it was as hot up there as one could wish for. We (Regt.) had suffered heavily and just as we arrived with grub, were ordered to the left and to advance - in front of the trenches — which we did. Things from that time onward, for me, were rather confused as I only charged out about 10 or 15 yards when I got knocked down by a bullet in the left shoulder, but managed to crawl back and one of our chaps helped me down to the dressing station and from there to the beach. There I saw Billy Mackie - good old Billy got me sone tea and rice - he in the morning helped me round to the landing and here I am - Cairo again. I’m not badly hit and am doing well, the bullet went in near the shoulder blade somewhere and came out on top - I’ll be right in a week or two.
Hope you are all very well. Have been in this hospital three days and they look after us very well. Haven’t been allowed out into town yet - the first day I get out for a walk will send you a cable. I hope father is still enjoying the benefit of his operation and that you are all very well.
Love to you all.
Your affectionate son and brother
18 August 1915
Am trying to send you all a line or two by stages - you’ll find it pretty dry reading I’m afraid, there’s precious little to write about. However, I’ll try and dig something up as we go along. By gad, it’s hot here now, we’re all simply bathed in perspiration all day - I get into the bath as often as possible (can only sit in it) and that helps to cool me down a bit. After midnight things cool down a bit. We get very good ‘grub’, extras are allowed those on full diet etc., I get a bottle of stout at lunch time every day - am afraid if I stay here very long, will be putting on too much condition. The other day two of us got leave to go up the town, by gad it seemed strange to be back into civilisation again - the Gallipoli was then to us a hundred thousand miles away.
We had two “long shandies” each - these took about one minute for disposal and then we went on to old camp at Zeitoun. By jove everything there is very much altered - I am glad to say that shelters have been built over the horse lines so that the poor beggars are able to stand in a little comfort now.
As I told Ruth, Shamrock is looking very well. Our chief reason for visiting the camp was to see if we could draw some pay, but couldn’t get any - I may possibly be lucky enough to score some next Monday afternoon. To go back to the old scrap again - I’m sorry to bore you with this but there’s nothing else to talk about. That Friday night we started on the job everyone was in shirt sleeves — no tunics nor anything else were carried excepting of course equipment, water bottle full and two day’s rations. We had a white band round each arm and a white patch on our backs so that we’d know who we were in ‘the mix-up’ and also as a guide for our Artillery when firing over us. Our squadron only lost one man going up the first ridge (another got hit at the top) – my troop too - the second man ahead of me went down and lay kicking as we hurried past - we couldn’t stop to do anything for the poor little chap, he was an awfully decent fellow too. After occupying the trenches I was sent back with a party to get a load of picks and shovels from where we’d dropped them into the gully on our way up. One or two of them (our party) got hit getting out and in the pitch dark I got the party into the wrong gully. However we went right down, hit the track at the bottom and got the picks etc. alright. On the way up we passed the boy who’d been hit - he was quite dead, so we took his rifle, bayonet and water bottle and had to just leave him. There were some ghastly sights up on the hill that Sunday but I shan’t shock you with any of them.
I get fed in my room here now - used to go below and or - dine with the rest of the chaps of our ward who could walk — but the nurse came to the conclusion I wasn’t well enough to go down. By jove we’re looked after very well.
New Zealand mails haven’t been delivered to us for the Lord knows how long –I’ve sent a notice on to Chief Postmaster at Alexandria advising change of ‘residence’ so I am hopeful of a few letters floating along some day and perhaps a ‘Weekly’ or two. You should see my nails now; it’s only a fortnight since I was hit and yet one would think I’d never soiled my fingers in my life. They’ll soon get spoilt when I get on the warpath again.
Hope you are having a good spring and that you are all very well. I'm getting…
[transcribers note: second section of this letter missing]
No. 2 General Hospital
1 September 1915
I was awfully pleased yesterday to get some mail, six letters altogether including one from you, also jolly glad to hear you have made such a good recovery from your operation and that all at home are well. It was such a time since the last mail reached me that I was getting anxious. My shoulder is doing splendidly and gives me very little trouble - provided I don’t move it about.
Pieces of bone are beginning to come out — I saved one small piece and am enclosing it. Disinfectant burned it black. War News here is very meagre, but I think that at each front - excepting the Russians - things are fairly quiet – although there are always small fierce scraps going on here and there. I can’t understand the continual retirement of the Russians, they are greatly out-numbered I know, but I thought they could have at least held the Germans from Warsaw. However, the Grand Duke should know his ground; I sincerely hope he has something ‘up his sleeve’. I believe our last advance at Gallipoli has satisfied the ‘nobs’, the Turks have been shoved back a good long way, and in from the Salt Lake end I believe we have captured about three miles of railway and what is more, holding it. This affair caused a very heavy casualty list, though of course it’ s unavoidable. Up that hill - where I was hit that night - and running from our rough trenches there was a gully containing one of the ghastliest sights I’ve seen. The bottom of it was full of dead - Tommies, Gurkhas and N.Z.’ers and mingled with these were wounded fellows who had crawled down out of fire. These had been roughly bandaged but could not be taken out in daylight and many of the poor chaps who had been badly wounded died where they lay. It was a sickening sight. Even that night unless a man could walk he had to wait long hours before being carried out; there was such a call on the stretchers.
I think it was very good of the Department to treat you so generously during you enforced absence from the Office, however I think your work there has jolly well earned it.
Please give my regards to all the Dalgetians, I hope things are flourishing with them. I haven’t seen or heard anything of either Jack Cleland or Les Jerram since I arrived here. About a month ago I received a letter (at Gallipoli) from Les and he was then convalescent at Alexandria, but he did not know whether he was being sent home or not. I ‘d like to see the old beggar and Jack C. again.
Must stop now.
Love to you all.
Your affectionate son
|First Known Rank:
|Next of Kin:
||F.H. Garland, McMurray Road, Epsom, Auckland
||Matamata, New Zealand
|Body on Embarkation:
||Auckland Mounted Rifles
||16 October 1914
|Place of Embarkation:
||Auckland, New Zealand
||Star of India or Waimana
|Page on Nominal Roll:
Corporal Greville Garland survived the Great War. He also served extensively in the Sinai Palestine Campaign with the 4th Waikato Mounted Rifles accompanied by his trusted steed “Shamrock” (purchased by his former employers Dalgetys Stock Agents as a gift).
Copied from original files held by the Garland Family, New Zealand, holders of all property and copyrights. Compiled by Steve Butler for the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Association to be distributed without fee or charges.