Part 2 out of 3
"Any water?" they asked.
I shook my head.
"Any wounded?" I said.
"Some down there, they say," said a red-faced man.
"Damn rotten job that," muttered another, as I went on.
"Better keep well over in the bushes," shouted the red-faced man.
"They've got this bit of light-coloured ground marked--you're almost
sure ter git plugged."
"Thanks!" I called back, and broke off to my left among the sage and
thistle and thorn.
I went now downhill into an overgrown water-course (very much like the
one in which I used to sleep and eat away back by the artillery big
gun). Here were willows and brambles with ripe blackberries, and wild-
rose bushes with scarlet hips. "Just like England!" I thought.
And then, as I crossed the little dry-bed stream and came out upon a
sandy spit of rising ground: "Z-z-ipp! Ping!"--just by my left arm.
The bullet struck a ledge of white rock with the now familiar metallic
I went on moving quickly to get behind a thorn-bush--the only cover
near at hand. Here, at any rate, I should be out of sight.
I could hear the report of the rifle. I lay flat on my stomach,
grovelled my face into the sandy soil and lay like a snake and as
still as a tortoise.
I waited for about ten minutes. It seemed an hour, at least, to me.
The sniper did not shoot again. In front of my thorn-bush was an open
space of pale yellow grass, with no cover at all. I crawled towards
the left flank and tried to creep slowly away. I moved like the hands
of a clock--so slowly; about an inch at a time, pushing forward like a
reptile on my stomach, propelling myself only by digging my toes into
the earth. My arms I kept stiff by my side, my head well down.
But the sniper away behind that little pear-tree (which stood at the
far end of the open space) had an eagle eye.
"Ping! z-z-pp! ping!"
I lay very still for a long time and then crept slowly back to my
I tried the right flank, but with the same effect. And now he began
shooting through my thorn-bush on the chance of hitting me.
Behind me was a dense undergrowth of thorn, wild-rose bramble,
thistle, willow and sage.
I turned about and crawled through this tangle, until at last I came
out, scratched and dishevelled and sweating, into the old water-
The firing-line was only a few hundred yards away, and the bullets
from a Turkish maxim went wailing over my head, dropping far over by
the Engineers whom I had passed.
I wanted to find those wounded, and I wanted to get past that open
space, and I wanted above all to dodge that sniper. The old scouting
instincts of the primitive man came calling me to try my skill against
the skill of the Turk. I sat there wiping away blood from the
scratches and sweat from my forehead and trying to think of a way
I looked at the mountains on my left--the lower ridge of the Kapanja
Sirt--and saw how the water-course went up and up and in and out, and
I thought if I kept low and crawled round in this ditch I should come
out at last close behind the firing-line, and then I could get in
touch with the trenches. I could hear the machine-gun of the M--'s
rattling and spitting.
I began crawling along the water-course. I had only gone three yards
or so, and turned a bend, when I came suddenly upon two wounded men.
Both quite young--one merely a boy. He had a bad shrapnel wound
through his boot, crushing the toes of his right foot. The other lay
groaning upon his back--with a very bad shrapnel wound in his left
arm. The arm was broken.
The boy sat up and grinned when he saw me.
"What's up?" asked his pal.
"Red Cross man," says the boy; and then: "Any water?"
"Not a drop, mate," said I. "Been wounded long?"
"Since yesterday evening," says the boy.
"Been here all that time?" I asked. (It was now mid-afternoon.)
"Yes: couldn't get away"--and he pointed to his foot.
" 'E carn't move--it's 'is arm. We crawled 'ere."
"I'll be back soon with stretchers and bandages," I said, and went
quickly back along the water-course and then past the Engineers.
"Found 'em?" they asked.
"Yes: getting stretchers up now," said I. "Awful stink here! Found any
dead?" I asked.
"Yes, there's one or two round here. We buried one over there
yesterday: 'e fell ter bits when we moved 'im."
I went on. Soon I was back in the ditch beside the wounded men. I had
successfully dodged the sniper by following along the bottom of the
bed of the stream. With me I brought two stretcher-squads, and they
had a haversack containing, as I thought, splints and bandages. But
when I opened it, it had only some field dressings in it and some
I soon found that the man's arm was not only septic, but broken and
"Got a pair of scissors?" I asked.
One man had a pair of nail-scissors, and with this very awkward
instrument I proceeded to operate. It was a terrible gash. His sleeve
was soaked in blood. I cut it away, and his shirt also.
I broke an iodine phial and poured the yellow chemical into his great
gaping wound. Actually his flesh stunk: it was going bad.
"Is it broke?" he asked.
"Be all right in a few minutes; nothing much." I lied to him.
"Not broke then?"
"Bit bent; be all right."
With the nail-scissors I cut great chunks of his arm out, and all this
flesh was gangrenous, and mortification was rapidly spreading. My
fingers were soaked in blood and iodine.
I cut away a piece of muscle which stunk like bad meat.
"Can you feel that?" I asked.
"Feel what?" he murmured.
"I thought that might hurt. I was cutting your sleeve away, that's
I cut out all the bad flesh, almost to the broken bones. I filled up
the jagged hole with another iodine ampoule. I plugged the opening
with double-cyanide gauze, and put on an antiseptic pad.
"Splints?" I asked.
So I used the helve of an entrenching-tool and the stalks of the
I set his arm straight and bandaged it tightly and fixed it absolutely
immovably. Then we got him on a stretcher, and they carried him three
and a half miles to our ambulance tents. But I'm afraid that arm had
to come off. I never heard of him again.
The other fellow was cheerful enough, and only set his teeth and drew
his breath when I cut off his boot with a jack-knife. Wonderful
endurance some of these young fellows have. There's hope for England
The native only needs a drum,
On which to thump his dusky thumb--
But WE--the Royal Engineers,
Must needs have carts and pontoon-piers;
Hundreds of miles of copper-wire,
Fitted on poles to make it higher.
Hundreds of sappers lay it down,
And stick the poles up like a town.
By a wonderful system of dashes and dots,
Safe from the Turkish sniper's shots--
We have, as you see, a marvellous trick,
Of sending messages double-quick.
You can't deny it's a great erection,
Done by the 3rd Field Telegraph Section;
THERE'S A DISCONNECTION!
The native merely thumps his drum,
He thumps it boldly, thus--"Tum! Tum!"
(Sailing for Salonika.)
Kangaroo Beach was where the Australian bridge-building section had
their stores and dug-outs.
It was one muddle and confusion of water-tanks, pier-planks, pontoons,
huge piles of bully-beef, biscuit and jam boxes. Here we came each
evening with the water-cart to get our supply of water, and here the
water-carts of every unit came down each evening and stood in a row
and waited their turn. The water was pumped from the water-tank boats
to the tank on shore.
The water-tank boats brought it from Alexandria. It was filthy water,
full of dirt, and very brackish to taste. Also it was warm. During the
two months at Suvla Bay I never tasted a drop of cold water--it was
always sickly lukewarm, sun-stewed.
All day long high explosives used to sing and burst--sometimes killing
and wounding men, sometimes blowing up the bully-beef and biscuits,
sometimes falling with a hiss and a column of white spray into the
sea. It was here that the field-telegraph of the Royal Engineers
became a tangled spider's web of wires and cross wires. They added
wires and branch wires every day, and stuck them up on thin poles.
Here you could see the Engineers in shirt and shorts trying to find a
disconnection, or carrying a huge reel of wire. Wooden shanties sprang
up where dug-outs had been a day or so before. Piers began to crawl
out into the bay, adding a leg and trestle and pontoon every hour.
Near Kangaroo Beach was the camp of the Indians, and here you could
see the dusky ones praying on prayer mats and cooking rice and
"chupatties" (sort of oatcake-pancakes).
Here they were laying a light rail from the beach up with trucks for
carrying shells and parts of big guns.
Here was the field post-office with sacks and sacks of letters and
parcels. Some of the parcels were burst and unaddressed; a pair of
socks or a mouldy home-made cake squashed in a cardboard box--
sometimes nothing but the brown paper, card box and string, an empty
shell--the contents having disappeared. What happened to all the
parcels which never got to the Dardanelles no one knows, but those
which did arrive were rifled and lost and stolen. Parcels containing
cigarettes had a way of not getting delivered, and cakes and sweets
often fell out mysteriously on the way from England.
THE ADVENTURE OF THE LOST SQUADS
Things became jumbled.
The continual working up to the firing-line and the awful labour of
carrying heavy men back to our dressing station: it went on. We got
used to being always tired, and having only an hour or two of sleep.
It was log-heavy, dreamless sleep . . . sheer nothingness. Just as
tired when you were wakened in the early hours by a sleepy, grumbling
guard. And then going round finding the men and wakening them up and
getting them on parade. Every day the same . . . late into the night.
Then came the disappearance of a certain section of our ambulance and
the loss of an officer.
This particular young lieutenant was left on Lemnos sick. He really
was very sick indeed. He recovered to some extent of the fever, and
joined us one day at Suvla. This was in the Old Dry Water-course
period, when Hawk and I lived in the bush-grown ditch.
Officers, N.C.O.'s, and men were tired out with overwork. This young
officer came up to the Kapanja Sirt to take over the next spell of
I remember him now, pale and sickly, with the fever still hanging on
him, and dark, sunken eyes. He spoke in a dull, lifeless way.
"Do you think you'll be all right?" asked the adjutant.
"Yes, I think so," he answered.
"Well, just stick here and send down the wounded as you find them.
Don't go any farther along; it's too dangerous up there--you
"All right, sir."
It was only a stroke of luck that I didn't stay with him and his
"You'd better come down with me, sergeant," says the adjutant.
Next day the news spread in that mysterious way which has always
puzzled me. It spread as news does spread in the wild and desolate
regions of the earth.
". . . lost . . . all the lot . . ."
"Up there . . . Lieutenant S--- and the squads . . ."
"Just heard--that wounded fellow over there on the stretcher . . .
they went out early this morning, and they've gone--no sign, never
came back at all--"
" 'E warn't fit ter take charge . . . 'e was ill, you could see."
"Nice thing ter do. The old man'll go ravin' mad."
"It was a ravin' mad thing to put the poor feller in charge . . . "
"Don't criticise yer officers," said some wit, quoting the Army
The adjutant and a string of squads turned out, and we went back again
to the spot where we had left the young officer the evening before.
The cook and an orderly man remained, and we heard from them the
details of the mystery.
Early that morning they had formed up, and gone off under Lieutenant
S--- along the mule track overlooking the Gulf of Saros. That was
all. There was still hope, of course . . . but there wasn't a sign of
them to be seen. The machine-gun section had seen them pass right
along. Some officers had warned them not to go up, but they went and
they never came back.
There were rumours that one of the N.C.O.'s of the party, a sergeant,
had been seen lying on some rocks.
"Just riddled with bullets--riddled!"
The hours dragged on. I begged of the adjutant to let me go off along
the ridge on my own to see if I could find any trace.
"It's too dangerous," he said. "If I thought there was half a chance
I'd go with you, but we don't want to lose any more."
Those ten or twelve men went out of our lives completely. Days passed.
There was no news. It was queer. It was queer when I called the roll
I couldn't remember not to call his name out. It seemed queer that he
was missing. It seemed quite hopeless now. Three or four days dragged
on. Everything continued as usual. We went up past the place where we
had left them, and there was no news, no sign. They just vanished. No
one saw them again, and except for the "riddled" rumour of the poor
old sergeant the whole thing was a blank.
We supposed that the young officer, coming fresh to the place, did not
know where the British lines ended and the Turks' began, and he
marched his squads into that bit of No Man's Land beyond the machine-
gun near "Jefferson's Post," and was either shot or taken prisoner.
It made the men heavy and sad-minded.
"Poor old Mellor--'e warn't a bad sort, was he!"
"Ah!--an' Bell, Sergeant Bell . . . riddled they say . . . some one
seen 'm--artillery or some one!"
It hung over them like a cloud. The men talked of nothing else.
"Somebody's blundered," said one.
"It's a pity any'ow."
"It's a disgrace to the ambulance--losin' men like that."
And, also, it made the men nervous and unreliable. It was a shock.
"OH, TO BE IN ENGLAND!"
It may be that I have never grown up properly. I'm a very poor hand at
pretending I'm a "grown man."
Impressions of small queer things still stamp themselves with a clear
kodak-click on my mind--an ivory-white mule's skull lying in the sand
with green beetles running through the eye-holes . . . anything--
trivial, childlike details.
I remember reading an article in a magazine which stated that under
fire, and more especially in a charge, a man moves in a whirl of
excitement which blots out all the small realities around him, all the
"local colour." He remembers nothing but a wild, mad rush, or the
tense intensity of the danger he is in.
It is not so. The greater the danger and the more exciting the
position the more intensely does the mind receive the imprint of tiny
Memories of Egypt and the Mediterranean are far more a jumble of
general effects of colour, sound and smell.
The closer we crept to the shores of Suvla Bay, and the deathbed of
the Salt Lake, the more exact and vivid are the impressions; the one
is like an impressionist sketch--blobs and dabs and great sloshy
washes; but the memories of Pear-tree Gully, of the Kapanja Sirt, and
Chocolate Hill are drawn in with a fine mapping pen and Indian ink--
like a Rackham fairy-book illustration--every blade of dead grass,
every ripple of blue, every pink pebble; and towards the firing-line I
could draw it now, every inch of the way up the hills with every stone
and jagged rock in the right place.
Before sailing from England I had bought a little colour-box, one good
sable brush, and a few H.B. pencils--these and a sketch-book which my
father gave me I carried everywhere in my haversack. The pocket-book
was specially made with paper which would take pencil, colour, crayon,
ink or charcoal. I was always on the look out for sketches and notes.
The cover bore the strange device--
32ND FIELD AMBULANCE.
printed in gilt which gradually wore off as time went on. Inside on
the fly-leaf I had written--
"IF FOUND, please return to
Sgt. J. HARGRAVE, 32819, R.A.M.C.
32nd Field Ambulance,
X Division, Med. Exp. Force."
And on the opposite page I wrote--
"IN CASE OF DEATH please post as soon as possible to
I remember printing the word "DEATH," and wondering if the book would
some day lie with my own dead body "somewhere in the Dardanelles."
Printing that word in England before we started made the whole thing
seem very real. Somehow up to then I hadn't realised that I might get
killed quite easily. I hadn't troubled to think about it.
We moved our camp from "A" Beach farther along towards the Salt Lake.
We moved several times. Always Hawk and I "hung together." Once he was
very ill in the old dried-up water-course which wriggled down from the
Kislar Dargh. He ate nothing for three days. I never saw anything like
it before. He was as weak as a rat, and I know he came very near
"pegging out." He felt it himself. I was sitting on the ground near
"I may not pull through this, old fellow," says Hawk, with just a
tear-glint under one eyelid. He lay under a shelf of rock, safe from
"Come now, Fred," says I, "you're not going to snuff it yet."
"Weak as a rat--can't eat nothink, PRACtically . . . nothink; but see
here, John,"--he seldom called me John--"if I do slip off the map, an'
I feel PRACtically done for this time--if I SHOULD--you see that
ration-bag"--he pointed to a little white bag bulging and tied up and
"It's got some little things in it--for the kiddies at home--a little
teapot I found up by the Turkish bivouac over there, and one or two
more relics--I want 'em to have 'em--will you take care of it and send
it home for me if you get out of this alive?"
Of course I promised to do this, but tried to cheer him up, and
assured him he would soon pull round.
In a few days he threw off the fever and was about again.
Hawk and I had lived for some weeks in this overgrown water-course. It
was a natural trench, and at one place Hawk had made a dug-out. He
picked and shovelled right into the hard, sandy rock until there was
quite a good-sized little cave about eight feet long and five deep.
The same sickness got me. It came over me quite suddenly. I was
fearfully tired. Every limb ached, and, like all the others, I began
to develop what I call the "stretcher-stoop." I just lay down in the
ditch with a blanket and went to sleep. Hawk sat over me and brought
me bovril, which we had "pinched" on Lemnos Island.
I felt absolutely dying, and I really wondered whether I should have
enough strength to throw the sickness off as Hawk had. I gave him just
the same sort of instructions about my notes and sketches as he had
given me about his little ration-bag.
"Get 'em back to England if you can," I said; "you're the man I'd
soonest trust here."
If Hawk hadn't looked after me and made me eat, I don't believe I
should have lived. I used to lie there looking at the wild-rose
tangles and the red hips; there were brambles, too, with poor, dried-
up blackberries. It reminded me of England. Little green lizards
scuttled about, and great black centipedes crawled under my blanket.
The sun was blazing at mid-day. Hawk used to rig me up an awning over
the ditch with willow-stems and a waterproof ground-sheet.
Somehow you always thought yourself back to England. No matter what
train of thought you went upon, it always worked its way by one thread
or another to England. Mine did, anyway.
It was better to be up with the stretcher-squads in the firing line
than lying there sick, and thinking those long, long thoughts.
This is how I would think--
"What a waste of life; what a waste . . . Christianity this; all part
of civilisation; what's it all for? Queer thing this civilised
Christianity . . . very queer. So this really IS war; see now: how
does it feel? not much different to usual . . . But why? It's getting
awfully sickening . . . plenty of excitement, too--plenty . . . too
much, in fact; very easy to get killed any time here; plenty of men
getting killed every minute over there; but it isn't really very
exciting . . . not like I thought war was in England . . . England?
Long way off, England; thousands of miles; they don't know I'm sick in
England; wonder what they'd think to see me now; not a bad place,
England, green trees and green grass . . . much better place than I
thought it was; wonder how long this will hang on . . . I'd like to
get back after it's finished here; I expect it's all going on just the
same in England; people going about to offices in London; women
dressing themselves up and shopping; and all that . . . This is a d--
-- place, this beastly peninsula--no green anywhere . . . just yellow
sand and grey rocks and sage-coloured bushes, dead grass--even the
thistles are all bleached and dead and rustling in the breeze like
paper flowers . . .
"And we WANTED to get out here . . . Just eating our hearts out to get
into it all, to get to work--and now . . . we're all sick of it . . .
it's rotten, absolutely rotten; everything. It's a rotten war. Wonder
what they are doing now at home . . ."
TWO MEN RETURN
I shall never forget those two little figures coming into camp.
They were both trembling like aspen leaves. One had ginger hair, and a
crop of ginger beard bristled on his chin. Their eyes were hollow and
sunken, and glittered and roamed unmeaningly with the glare of
insanity. They glanced with a horrible suspicion at their pals, and
knew them not. The one with the ginger stubble muttered to himself.
Their clothes were torn with brambles, and prickles from thorn-bushes
still clung round their puttees. A pitiful sight. They tottered along,
keeping close together and avoiding the others. An awful tiredness
weighed upon them; they dragged themselves along. Their lips were
cracked and swollen and dry. They had lost their helmets, and the sun
had scorched and peeled the back of their necks. Their hair was matted
and full of sand. But the fear which looked out of those glinting eyes
was terrible to behold.
We gave them "Oxo," and the medical officer came and looked at them.
They came down to our dried-up water-course and tried to sleep; but
they were past sleep. They kept dozing off and waking up with a start
". . . All gone . . . killed . . . where? where? No, no . . . No! . .
. don't move . . . (mumble-mumble) . . . keep still . . . idiot!
you'll get shot . . . can you see them? Eh? where? . . . he's dying,
dying . . . stop the bleeding, man! He's dying . . . we're all dying .
. . no water . . . drink . . ."
I've seen men, healthy, strong, hard-faced Irishmen, blown to shreds.
I've helped to clear up the mess. I've trod on dead men's chests in
the sand, and the ribs have bent in and the putrid gases of decay have
burst through with a whhh-h-ff-f.
But I'd rather have to deal with the dead and dying than a case of
I was just recovering from that attack of fever and dysentery, and
these two were lying beside me; the one mumbling and the other panting
in a fitful sleep.
When they were questioned they could give very little information.
"Where's Lieutenant S---?"
". . . Gone . . . they're all gone . . ."
"How far did you go with him?"
"Where are the others?"
". . . Gone . . . they're all gone . . ."
"Are they killed?"
". . . Gone."
"Are any of the others alive?"
"We got away . . . they're lost . . . dead, I think."
"Did you come straight back--it's a week since you were lost?"
"It's days and days and long nights . . . couldn't move; couldn't move
an inch, and poor old George dying under a rock . . . no cover; and
they shot at us if we moved . . . we waved the stretchers when we
found we'd got too far . . . too far we got . . . too far . . . much
too far; shot at us . . ."
"What about the sergeant?"
"We got cut off . . . cut off . . . we tried to crawl away at night by
rolling over and over down the hill, and creeping round bushes . . .
always creeping an' crawling . . . but it took us two days and two
nights to get away . . . crawling, creeping and crawling . . . an'
they kep' firing at us . . ."
"No food . . . we chewed grass . . . sucked dead grass to get some
spittle . . . an' sometimes we tried to eat grass to fill up a bit . .
. no food . . . no water . . ."
They were complete wrecks. They couldn't keep their limbs still. They
trembled and shook as they lay there.
Their ribs were standing out like skeletons, and their stomachs had
sunken in. They were black with sunburn, and filthily dirty.
Gradually they got better. The glare of insanity became less obvious,
but a certain haunted look never left them. They were broken men.
Months afterwards they mumbled to themselves in the night-time.
Nolan, one of the seafaring men of my section who was with the lost
squads, also returned, but he had not suffered so badly, or at any
rate he had been able to stand the strain better.
It was about this time that we began to realise that the new landing
had been a failure. It was becoming a stale-mate. It was like a clock
with its hands stuck. The whole thing went ticking on every day, but
there was no progress--nothing gained. And while we waited there the
Turks brought up heavy guns and fresh troops on the hills. They
consolidated their positions in a great semicircle all round us--and
we just held the bay and the Salt Lake and the Kapanja Sirt.
So all this seemed sheer waste. Thousands of lives wasted--thousands
of armless and legless cripples sent back--for nothing. The troops
soon realised that it was now hopeless. You can't "kid" a great body
of men for long. It became utterly sickening--the inactivity--the
waiting--for nothing. And every day we lost men. Men were killed by
snipers as they went up to the trenches. The Turkish snipers killed
them when they went down to the wells for water.
The whole thing had lost impetus. It came to a standstill. It kept on
"marking time," and nothing appeared to move it.
In the first three days of the landing it wanted but one thing to have
marched us right through to Constantinople--it wanted, dash!
It didn't want a careful, thoughtful man in command--it wanted dash
and bluff. It could have been done in those early days. The landing
WAS a success--a brilliant, blinding success--but it stuck at the very
moment when it should have rushed forward. It was no one's fault if
you understand. It was sheer luck. It just didn't "come off"--and only
just. But a man with dash, a devil-may-care sort of leader, could have
cut right across on Sunday, August the 8th, and brought off a
It happened on the left of Pear-tree Gully.
Pear-tree Gully was a piece of ground which neither we nor the Turks
could hold. It was a gap in both lines, swept by machine-gun fire and
haunted by snipers and sharp-shooters.
We had advanced right up behind the machine-gun section, which was
hidden in a dense clump of bushes on the top of a steep rise.
The sun was blazing hot and the sweat was dripping from our faces. We
were continually on the look-out for wounded, and always alert for the
agonised cry of "Stretcher-bearers!" away on some distant knoll or
down below in the thickets. Looking back the bay shimmered a silver-
white streak with grey battleships lying out.
In front the fighting broke out in fierce gusts.
"Pop-pop-pop-pop!--Pop-pop!" went the machine-gun. We could see one
man getting another belt of ammunition ready to "feed." Bullets from
the Turkish quick-firers went singing with an angry "ssss-ooooo! zzz-
z-eeee! . . . whheee-ooo-o-o! zz-ing!"
"D'you know where Brigade Headquarters is?" asked the adjutant.
"I'll find it, sir."
"Very well, go up with this message, and I shall be here when you come
I took the message, saluted and went off, plunging down into the
thickets, and at last along my old water-course where I had crawled
away from the sniper some days before.
I made a big detour to avoid showing myself on the sky-line. I knew
the general direction of our Brigade Headquarters, and after half-an-
hour's steady trudging with various creepings and crawlings I arrived
and delivered my message. I returned quickly towards Pear-tree Gully.
I stopped once to listen for the "Pop-pop-pop!" of our machine-gun but
I could not hear it. I hurried on. It was downhill most of the way
going back. I crept up through the bushes and looked about for signs
of our men and the officer.
I saw a man of the machine-gun section carrying the tripod-stand,
followed by another with the ammunition-belt-box.
"Seen any Medical Corps here?"
"They've gone down--'ooked it . . . you'd better get out o' this quick
yourself--we're retreating--can't 'old this place no'ow--too 'ot!"
"Did the officer leave any message?"
"No--they've bin gone some time--come on, Sammy."
Well, I thought to myself, this IS nice. So I went down with the
machine-gunners and in the dead grass just below the gully I found a
wounded man: he was shot through the thigh and it had gone clean
through both legs.
He was bleeding to death quickly, for it had ripped both arteries.
Looking round I saw another man coming down, hopping along but very
"In the ankle," he said; "can you do anything?"
"I'll have a look in a minute."
I examined the man who was hit in the thigh and discovered two
tourniquets had been applied made out of a handkerchief and bits of
stick to twist them up. But the blood was now pumping steadily from
both wounds and soaking its way into the sandy soil. I tightened them
up, but it was useless. There was no stopping the loss of blood.
All the time little groups of British went straggling past--hurrying
back towards the bay--retreating.
It was impossible to leave my wounded. I helped the cheerful man to
hop near a willow thicket, and there I took off his boot and found a
clean bullet wound right through the ankle-bone of the left foot. It
was bleeding slowly and the man was very pale.
"Been bleeding long?" I asked.
"About half an hour I reckon. Is it all right, mate?"
"Yes. It's a clean wound."
I plugged each hole, padded it and bound it up tightly. I had a look
at the other man, who was still bleeding and had lost consciousness
It was a race for life. Which to attend to? Both men were still
bleeding, and both would bleed to death within half an hour or so. I
reckoned it was almost hopeless with the tourniquet-man and I left him
passing painlessly from life to death. But the ankle-man's wound was
still bleeding when I turned again to him. It trickled through my
plugging. It's a difficult thing to stop the bleeding from such a
place. Seeing the plug was useless I tried another way. I rolled up
one of his puttees, put it under his knee, braced his knee up and tied
it in position with the other puttee. This brought pressure on the
artery itself and stopped the loss of blood from his ankle. I could
hear the Turkish machine-gun much closer now. It sputtered out a
leaden rain with a hard metallic clatter.
"Thanks, mate," said the man; " 'ow's the other bloke?"
"He's all right," I answered, and I could see him lying a little way
up the hill, calm and still and stiffening.
I found two regimental stretcher-bearers coming down with the rest in
this little retreat, and I got them to take my ankle-man on to their
dressing station about two miles further back.
It's no fun attending to wounded when the troops are retiring.
Next day they regained the lost position, and I trudged past the poor
dead body of the man who had bled to death. The tourniquets were still
gripping his lifeless limbs and the blood on the handkerchiefs had
dried a rich red-brown.
There's a lot of senseless "doing"
And a fearful lot of work;
There are gangs of men with "gangers,"
To see they do not shirk.
There's the usual waste of power
In the usual Western way,
There's a tangle in the transport,
And a blockage every day.
The sergeants do the swearing,
The corporals "carry on";
The private cusses openly,
And hopes he'll soon be gone.
One evening the colonel sent me from our dug-out near the Salt Lake to
"A" Beach to make a report on the water supply which was pumped ashore
from the tank-boats. I trudged along the sandy shore. At one spot I
remember the carcase of a mule washed up by the tide, the flesh rotted
and sodden, and here and there a yellow rib burstiing through the
skin. Its head floated in the water and nodded to and fro with a most
uncanny motion with every ripple of the bay.
The wet season was coming on, and the chill winds went through my
khaki drill uniform. The sky was overcast, and the bay, generally a
kaleidoscope of Eastern blues and greens, was dull and grey.
At "A" Beach I examined the pipes and tanks of the water-supply system
and had a chat with the Australians who were in charge. I drew a small
plan, showing how the water was pumped from the tanks afloat to the
standing tank ashore, and suggested the probable cause of the sand and
dirt of which the C.O. complained.
This done I found our own ambulance water-cart just ready to return to
our camp with its nightly supply. Evening was giving place to
darkness, and soon the misty hills and the bay were enveloped in
The traffic about "A" Beach was always congested. It reminded you of
the Bank and the Mansion House crush far away in London town.
Here were clanking water-carts, dozens of them waiting in their turn,
stamping mules and snorting horses; here were motor-transport wagons
with "W.D." in white on their grey sides; ambulance wagons jolting
slowly back to their respective units, sometimes full of wounded,
sometimes empty. Here all was bustle and noise. Sergeants shouting and
corporals cursing; transport-officers giving directions; a party of
New Zealand sharp-shooters in scout hats and leggings laughing and
yarning; a patrol of the R.E.'s Telegraph Section coming in after
repairing the wires along the beach; or a new batch of men, just
arrived, falling in with new-looking kit-bags.
It was through this throng of seething khaki and transport traffic
that our water-cart jostled and pushed.
Often we had to pull up to let the Indian Pack-mule Corps pass, and it
was at one of these halts that I happened to come close to one of
these dusky soldiers waiting calmly by the side of his mules.
I wished I had some knowledge of Hindustani, and began to think over
any words he might recognise.
"You ever hear of Rabindranarth Tagore, Johnnie?" I asked him. The
name of the great writer came to mind.
He shook his head. "No, sergeant," he answered.
"Buddha, Johnnie?" His face gleamed and he showed his great white
"Yes--me, Mahommedie," he said proudly.
"Gunga, Johnnie?" I asked, remembering the name of the sacred river
Ganges from Kipling's "Kim."
"No Gunga, sa'b--Mahommedie, me."
"You go Benares, Johnnie?"
"Mokka, yes; afterwards me go Mokka."
"After the war you going to Mokka, Johnnie?"
"Yes; Indee, France--here--Indee back again--then Mokka."
"You been to France, Johnnie?"
"You know Kashmir, Johnnie?"
"Kashmir my house," he replied.
"You live in Kashmir?"
"Yes; you go Indee, sergeant?"
"No, I've never been."
"No go Indee?"
"Indee very good--English very good--Turk, finish!"
With a sudden jerk and a rattle of chains our water-cart mules pulled
out on the trail again and the ghostly figure with its well-folded
turban and gleaming white teeth was left behind.
A beautifully calm race, the Hindus. They did wonderful work at Suvla
Bay. Up and down, up and down, hour after hour they worked steadily
on; taking up biscuits, bully-beef and ammunition to the firing-line,
and returning for more and still more. Day and night these splendidly
built Easterns kept up the supply.
I remember one man who had had his left leg blown off by shrapnel
sitting on a rock smoking a cigarette and great tears rolling down his
cheeks. But he said no word. Not a groan or a cry of pain.
They ate little, and said little. But they were always extraordinarily
polite and courteous to each other. They never neglected their
prayers, even under heavy shell fire.
Once, when we were moving from the Salt Lake to "C" Beach, Lala Baba,
the Indians moved all our equipment in their little two-wheeled carts.
They were much amused and interested in our sergeant clerk, who stood
6 feet 8 inches. They were joking and pointing to him in a little
Going up to them, I pointed up to the sky, and then to the Sergeant,
saying: "Himalayas, Johnnie!"
They roared with laughter, and ever afterwards called him "Himalayas."
THE INDIAN TRANSPORT TRAIN
(Across the bed of the Salt Lake every night from the
Supply Depot at Kangaroo Beach to the firing-line beyond
Chocolate Hill, September 1915.)
(footnote: "Jhill-o!"--Hindustani for "Gee-up"; used by the
drivers of the Indian Pack-mule Corps.)
The Indian whallahs go up to the hills--
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
They pass by the spot where the gun-cotton kills;
They shiver and huddle--they feel the night chills--
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
With creaking and jingle of harness and pack--
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
Where the moonlight is white and the shadows are black,
They are climbing the winding and rocky mule-track--
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
By the blessing of Allah he's more than one wife;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
He's forbidden the wine which encourages strife,
But you don't like the look of his dangerous knife;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
The picturesque whallah is dusky and spare;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
A turban he wears with magnificent air,
But he chucks down his pack when it's time for his prayer;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
When his moment arrives he'll be dropped in a hole;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
'Tis Kismet, he says, and beyond his control;
But the dear little houris will comfort his soul;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
The Indian whallahs go up to the hills;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
They pass by the spot where the gun-cotton kills;
But those who come down carry something that chills;
"Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"
On the edge of the Salt Lake, by the blue Aegean shore, Hawk and I dug
a little underground home into the sandy hillock upon which our
ambulance was now encamped.
"I'm going deep into this," said Hawk--he was a very skilful miner,
and he knew his work.
"None of your dead heroes for me," he said; "I don't hold with 'em--
we'll make it PRACtically shell-proof." We did. Each day we burrowed
into the soft sandy layers, he swinging the pick, and I filling up
sand-bags. At last we made a sort of cave, a snug little Peter Pan
home, sand-bagged all round and safe from shells when you crawled in.
I often thought what a fine thing Stevenson would have written from
the local colour of the bay.
Its changing colours were intense and wonderful. In the early morning
the waves were a rich royal blue, with splashing lines of white
breakers rolling in and in upon the pale grey sand, and the sea-birds
skimming and wheeling overhead.
At mid-day it was colourless, glaring, steel-flashing, with the
sunlight blazing and everything shimmering in the heat haze.
In the early afternoon, when Hawk and I used to go down to the shore
and strip naked like savages, and plunge into the warm water, the bay
had changed to pale blue with green ripples, and the outline of Imbros
Island, on the horizon, was a long jagged strip of mauve.
Later, when the sunset sky turned lemon-yellow, orange, and deep
crimson, the bay went into peacock blues and purples, with here and
there a current of bottle-glass green, and Imbros Island stood clear
cut against the sunset-colour a violet-black silhouette.
Queer creatures crept across the sands and into the old Turkish
snipers' trenches; long black centipedes, sand-birds--very much
resembling our martin, but with something of the canary in their
colour. Horned beetles, baby tortoises, mice, and green-grey lizards
all left their tiny footprints on the shore.
"If this silver sand was only in England a man could make his
fortune," said Hawk. ("We wept like anything to see--!")
I never saw such white sand before. One had to misquote: "Come unto
these SILVER sands." It glittered white in a great horse-shoe round
the bay, and the bed of the Salt Lake (which is really an overflow
from the sea) was a barren patch of this silver-sand, with here and
there a dead mule or a sniper's body lying out, a little black blot,
the haunt of vultures.
I made some careful drawings of the sand-tracks of the bay; noting
down tracks being a habit with the scout.
In these things Hawk was always interested, and often a great help;
for, in spite of his fifty years and his buccaneerish-habits, he was
at heart a boy--a boy-scout, in fact, and a fine tracker.
One of the most picturesque sights I ever saw was an Indian officer
mounted on a white Arab horse with a long flowing mane, and a tail
which swept in a splendid curve and trailed in the sands. The Hindu
wore a khaki turban, with a long end floating behind. He sat his horse
bolt upright, and rode in the proper military style.
The Arab steed pranced, and arched its great neck. With the blue of
the bay as a background it made a magnificent picture, worthy of the
Day by day we improved our dug-out, going deeper into the solid rock,
and putting up an awning in front made of two army blankets, with a
wooden cross-beam roped to an old rusty bayonet driven into the sand.
We lived a truly Robinson Crusoe life, with the addition of Turkish
high-explosives, and bully-beef-and-biscuit stew.
Our dug-out was back to the firing-line, and at night we looked out
upon the bay. We lay in our blankets watching the white moonlight on
the waves, and the black shadows of our ambulance wagons on the silver
It was in this dug-out that Hawk used to cook the most wonderful
dishes on a Primus stove.
The language was thick and terrible when that stove refused to work,
and Hawk would squat there cursing and cleaning it, and sticking bits
of wire down the gas-tube.
He cooked chocolate-pudding, and rice-and-milk, and arrowroot-
blancmange, stewed prunes, fried bread in bacon fat, and many other
"The proof of a good cook," said Hawk, "is whether he can make a meal
worth eating out of PRACtically nothink"--and he could.
There were very few wounds now to attend to in the hospital dug-out.
Mostly we got men with sandfly-fever and dysentery; men with scabies
and lice; men utterly and unspeakably exhausted, with hollow, black-
rimmed eyes, cracked lips and foot-sores; men who limped across the
sandy bed, dragging their rifles and equipment in their hands; men who
were desperately hungry, whose eyes held the glint of sniper-madness;
men whose bodies were wasting away, the skin taut and dry like a drum,
with every rib showing like the beams of a wreck, or the rafters of an
Always we were in the midst of pain and misery, hunger and death. We
do not get much of the rush and glory of battle in the "Linseed
Lancers." We deal with the wreckage thrown up by the tide of battle,
and wreckage is always a sad sight--human wreckage most of all.
But the bay was always full of interest for me, with its ever-changing
colour, and the imprint of the ripples in the gleaming silver-sand.
And the silver moonlight silvers the silver-sand, while the skeletons
of the Xth sink deeper and deeper, to be rediscovered perhaps at some
future geological period, and recognised as a type of primitive man.
Oft in the stilly night,
By yellow candle-light,
With finger in the sand
We mapped and planned.
"This is the Turkish well,
That's where the Captain fell,
There's the great Salt Lake bed,
Here's where the Munsters led."
Primitive man arose,
With prehistoric pose,
Like Dug-out Men of old,
By signs our thoughts were told.
I have slept and lived in every kind of camp and bivouac. I have dug
and helped to dig dug-outs. I have lain full length in the dry, dead
grass "under the wide and starry sky." I have crept behind a ledge of
rock, and gone to sleep with the ants crawling over me. I have slept
with a pair of boots for a pillow. I have lived and snoozed in the
dried-up bed of a mountain torrent for weeks. A ground-sheet tied to a
bough has been my bedroom. I have slumbered curled in a coil of rope
on the deck of a cattle-boat, in an ambulance wagon, on a stretcher,
in farmhouse barns and under hedges and haystacks. I have slept in the
sand by the blue Mediterranean Sea, with the crickets and grasshoppers
"zipping" and "zinging" all night long.
But our dug-out nights on the edge of the bay at Buccaneer Bivouac
were the most enjoyable.
It was here of a night-time that Hawk and I--sometimes alone,
sometimes with Brockley, or "Cherry Blossom," or "Corporal Mush," or
Sergeant Joe Smith, the sailormen as onlookers and listeners--it was
here we drew diagrams in the sand with our fingers, and talked on
politics and women's rights, marriage and immorality, drink and
religion, customs and habits; of life and death, peace and war.
Sometimes Hawk burst into a rare phrase of splendid composition--well-
balanced rhetoric, not unworthy of a Prime Minister.
At other times he is the buccaneer, the flinger of foul oaths, and
terrible damning curses. But as a rule they are not vindictive, they
have no sting--for Hawk is a forgiving and humble man in reality, in
spite of his mask of arrogance.
A remarkable character in every way, he fell unknowingly into the old
north-country Quaker talk of "thee and thou."
Another minute he gives an order in those hard, calm, commanding words
which, had he had the chance, would have made him, in spite of his
lack of schooling, one of the finest Generals the world could ever
On these occasional gleams of pure leadership he finds the finest
King's English ready to his lips, while at other times he is
ungrammatical, ordinary, but never uninteresting or slow of intuition.
He was a master of slang, and like all strong and vivid characters had
his own peculiar sayings.
He never thought of looking over my shoulder when I was sketching. He
was a gentleman of Nature. But when he saw I had finished, his clear,
deep-set eyes (handed down to him from those old Norseman ancestors)
would glint with interest--
"Dekko the drawing," he would say, using the old Romany word for
"PRACtically" was a favourite word.
"PRACtically the 'ole Peninsula--"
"PRACtically every one of 'em--"
"It weren't that," he would say; or, "I weren't bothering--"
"I'm not bothered--"
"Thee needn't bother, but it's a misfortunate thing--"
"Hates me like the divil 'ates Holy Water."
"A pound to a penny!"
"As like as not!"
"Ah; very like."
These were all typical Hawkish expressions.
His yarns of India out-Rudyard Kipling. They were superb, full of
barrack-room touches, and the smells and sounds of the jungle. He told
of the time when a soldier could get "jungling leave"; when he could
go off with a Winchester and a pal and a native guide for two or three
months; when the Government paid so many rupees for a tiger skin, so
many for a cobra--a scale of rewards for bringing back the trophies of
the jungle wilds.
He pictured the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush, describing the
everlasting snows where you look up and up at the sheer rocks and
glaciers; "you feel like a baby tortoise away down there, so small, as
like as not you get giddy and drunk-like."
One night Hawk told me of a Hindu fakir who sat by the roadside
performing the mango-trick for one anna. I illustrated it in the sand
as he told it.
*caption: Dug-out, September 9, 1915.*
1. The fakir puts a pinch of dust from the ground in a little pile on
a glass plate on a tripod.
2. He covers it up with a handkerchief or a cloth.
3. He plays the bagpipes, or a wooden flute, while you can see the
heap of dust under the cloth a-growing and a-growing up and up, bigger
4. At last he lifts up the cloth and shows you the green mango-tree
growing on the piece of glass.
"He covers it again--plays. Lifts the cloth, shows you the mango tree
in leaf. Covers it again--plays again. Takes away the cloth, and shows
you the mango-tree in fruit, real fruit; but they never let you have
the fruit for love or money. Rather than let any one have it, they
pluck it and squash it between their fingers."
THE WISDOM OF FATHER S----
One day, while I was making some sketch- book drawings of bursting
shells down in the old water-course, the Roman Catholic padre came
And then: "I suppose you're Church of England, aren't you?"
"No, sir; I'm down as Quaker."
"Quaker, eh?--that's interesting; I know quite a lot of Quakers in
Dublin and Belfast."
Who would expect to find "Father Brown" of G. K. Chesterton fame in a
khaki drill uniform and a pith helmet?
A small, energetic man, with a round face and a habit of putting his
hands deep into the patch pockets of his tunic. Here was a priest who
knew his people, who was a real "father" to his khaki followers. I
quickly discovered him to be a man of learning, and one who noticed
small signs and commonplace details.
His eyes twinkled and glittered when he was amused, and his little
round face wrinkled into wreaths of smiles.
When we moved to the Salt Lake dug-outs he came with us, and here he
had a dug-out of his own.
When the day's work was finished, and the moonlight glittered white
across the Salt Lake, I used to stroll away for a time by myself
before turning in.
It was a good time to think. Everything was so silent. Even my own
footsteps were soundless in the soft sand. It was on one of these
night-prowls that I spotted the tiny figure of Father S--- jerking
across the sands, with that well-known energetic walk, stick in hand.
"Stars, Hargrave?" said the little priest.
"Very clear to-night, sir."
"Queer, you know, Hargrave, to think that those same old stars have
looked down all these ages; same old stars which looked down on Darius
and his Persians."
He prodded the sand with his walking stick, stuck his cap on one side
(I don't think he cared for his helmet), and peered up to the star-
"Wonderful country, all this," said the padre; "it may be across this
very Salt Lake that the armies of the ancients fought with sling and
stone and spear; St. Paul may have put in here, he was well acquainted
with these parts--Lemnos and all round about--preaching and teaching
on his travels, you know."
"Talking about Lemnos Island," he went on, "did you notice the series
of peaks which run across it in a line?"
"Well, it was on those promontories that Agamemnon, King of Mycenx,
lit a chain of fire-beacons to announce the taking of Troy to his
Queen, Clytaemnestra, at Argos--"
Here the little priest, as pleased as a school- boy, scratched a rough
sketch map in the sand--
"All the islands round here are full of historical interest, you know;
`far-famed Samothrace,' for instance." Father S--- talked much of
classical history, connecting these islands with Greek and Roman
All this was desperately interesting to me. It was picturesque to
stand in the sand-bed of the Salt Lake, lit by the broad flood of
silver moonlight, with the little priest eagerly scratching like an
ibis in the sand with his walking-stick.
I learnt more about the Near East in those few minutes than I had ever
done at school.
But besides the interest in this novel history lesson, I was more than
delighted to find the padre so correct in his sketch of the island and
the coast, and I took down what he told me in a note-book afterwards,
and copied his sand-maps also.
After this I came to know him better than I had. I visited his dug-
out, and he let me look at his books and Punch and a month-old
Illustrated London News, or so. I came to admire him for his
simplicity and for his devotion to his men. Every Sunday he held Mass
in the trenches of the firing-line, and he never had the least fear of
A splendid little man, always cheerful, always looking after his
"flock." Praying with those who were about to give up the ghost ;
administering the last rites of the Church to those who, in awful
agony, were fluttering like singed moths at the edge of the great
flame, the Great Life-Mystery of Death.
He wrote beautifully sad letters of comfort to the mothers of boy-
officers who were killed. Father S--- knew every man: every man knew
Father S--- and admired him.
His dug-out was made in a slope overlooking the bay, and was really a
deep square pit in the sand-bank, roofed with corrugated iron and
sandbagged all round. Here we talked. I found he knew G. K. C. and
Hilaire Belloc. Always he wanted to look at any new drawings in my
It is a relief to speak with some intelligent person sometimes.
Such was Father S---, a very 'cute little man, knowing most of the
troubles of the men about him, noticing their ways and keeping in
touch with them all.
Just after the episode of the lost squads we were working our
stretcher-bearers as far as Brigade Headquarters which were situated
on a steep backbone-like spur of the Kapanja Sirt.
One of my "lance-jacks" (lance-corporals) had been missing for a good
long time, and we began to fear he was either shot or taken prisoner
with the others who had gone too far up the Sirt.
One afternoon we were resting among the rocks, waiting for wounded to
be sent back to us; for since the loss of the others we were not
allowed to pass the Brigade Headquarters. There was a lull in the
fighting, with only a few bursting shrapnel now and then.
This particular lance-jack was quite a young lad of the middle-class,
with a fairly good education.
But he was a weedy specimen physically, and I doubted whether he could
pull through if escape should mean a fight with Nature for food and
water and life itself.
Fairly late in the day as we all lay sprawling on the rocks or under
the thorn-bushes, I saw a little party staggering along the defile
which led up to the Sirt at this point.
There were two men with cow-boy hats, and between them they helped
another very thin and very exhausted-looking fellow, who tottered
along holding one arm which had been wounded.
As they came closer I recognised my lost lance-jack, very pale and
shaky, a little thinner than usual, and with a hint of that gleam of
sniper-madness which I have noticed before in the jumpy, unsteady eyes
of hunted men.
The other two, one each side, were sturdy enough. Well-built men, one
short and the other tall, with great rough hands, sunburnt faces, and
bare arms. They wore brown leggings and riding-breeches and khaki
shirts. They carried their rifles at the trail and strode up to us
with the graceful gait of those accustomed to the outdoor life.
"Awstralians!" said some one.
"An' the corporal!"
Immediately our men roused up and gathered round.
"Where's yer boss?" asked the tall Colonial.
"The adjutant is over here," I answered.
"We'd like a word with him," continued the man. I took them up to the
officer, and they both saluted in an easy-going sort of way.
"We found 'im up there," the Australian jerked his head, "being sniped
and couldn't git away--says 'e belongs t' th' 32nd Ambulance-- so here
The two Australians were just about to slouch off again when the
adjutant called them back.
"Where did you find him?" he asked.
"Up beyond Jefferson's Post; there was five snipers pottin' at 'im,
an' it looked mighty like as if 'is number was up. We killed four o'
the snipers, and got him out."
"That was very good of you. Did you see any more Medical Corps up
there? We've lost some others, and an officer and sergeant."
"No, I didn't spot any--did you, Bill?" The tall man turned to his pal
leaning on his rifle.
"No," answered the short sharp-shooter; "he's the only one. It was a
good afternoon's sport--very good. We saw 'e'd got no rifle, and was
in a tight clove-'itch, so we took the job on right there an' finished
four of 'em; but it took some creepin' and crawlin'."
"Well, we'll be quittin' this now," said the tall one. "There's only
one thing we'd ask of you, sir: don't let our people know anything
"But why?" asked the adjutant, astonished. "You've saved his life, and
it ought to be known."
"Ya-as, that may be, sir; but we're not supposed to be up here sharp-
shootin'-- we jist done it fer a bit of sport. Rightly we don't carry
a rifle; we belong to the bridge-buildin' section. We've only borrowed
these rifles from the Cycle Corps, an' we shall be charged with bein'
out o' bounds without leave, an' all that sort o' thing if it gits
known down at our headquarters."
"Very well, I'll tell no one; all the same it was good work, and we
thank you for getting him back to us," the adjutant smiled.
The two Australians gave him a friendly nod, and said, "So long, you
chaps!" to us and lurched off down the defile.
"We'll chuck it fer to-day--done enough," said the tall man.
"Ya-as, we'd better git back. It was good sport--very good," said the
Certainly the Australians we met were a cheerful, happy-go-lucky,
devil-may-care crew. They were the most picturesque set of men on the
Rough travelling, little or no food, no water, sleepless nights and
thrilling escapes made them look queerly primitive and Robinson
I wrote in my pocket-book: "September 8, 1915.--The Australians have
the keen eye, quick ear and silent tongue which evolves in the bushman
and those who have faced starvation and the constant risk of sudden
death, who have lived a hard life on the hard ground, like the animals
of the wild, and come through.
"Fine fellows these, with good chests and arms, well-knit and
gracefully poised by habitually having to creep and crouch, and run
and fight. Sunburnt to a deep bronze, one and all.
"Their khaki shorts flap and ripple in the sea-wind like a troop of
Boy Scouts. Some wear green shirts, and they all wear stone-gray wide-
awake hats with pinched crown and broad flat brims."
When at last the mails brought us month-old papers from England, we
read that "The gallant Australians" at Suvla "took" Lala Baba and
Chocolate Hill; indeed, as Hawk read out in our dug-out one mail-day--
"The Australians have took everythink, or practically everythink worth
takin'. They stormed Lala Baba and captured Chocolate 'ill-- in fac'
they made the landin'; and the Xth and XIth Divisions are simply a
myth accordin' to the papers!"
A SCOUT AT SUVLA BAY
Many times have I seen the value of the Scout training, but never was
it demonstrated so clearly as at Suvla Bay. Here, owing to the rugged
nature of the country--devoid of all signs of civilisation--a barren,
sandy waste--it was necessary to practise all the cunning and craft of
the savage scout. Therefore those who had from boyhood been trained in
scouting and scoutcraft came out top-dog.
And why?--because here we were working against men who were born
It became necessary to be able to find your way at night by the stars.
You were not allowed to strike a light to look at a map, and anyhow
the maps we had were on too small a scale to be of any real use
Now, a great many officers were unable to find even the North Star!
Perhaps in civil life they had been men who laughed at the boy scout
in his shirt and shorts because they couldn't see the good of it! But
when we came face to face with bare Nature we had to return to the
methods of primitive man.
More than once I found it very useful to be able to judge the time by
the swing of the star-sky.
Then again, many and many a young officer or army-scout on outpost
duty was shot and killed because, instead of keeping still, he jerked
his head up above the rocks and finding himself spotted jerked down
again. The consequence was, that when he raised himself the next time
the Turks had the spot "taped" and "his number was up."
This means unnecessary loss of men, owing entirely to lack of training
in scoutcraft and stalking.
Finding your way was another point. How many companies got "cut up"
simply because the officer or sergeant in charge had no bump of
location. As most men came from our big cities and towns, they knew
nothing of spotting the trail or of guessing the right direction.
Indeed, I see Sir Ian Hamilton states that owing to one battalion
"losing its way" a most important position was lost--and this happened
again and again--simply because the leaders were not scouts.
Then there were many young officers who when it came to the test could
not read a map quickly as they went. (Boy scouts, please note.) This
became a very serious thing when taking up fresh men into the firing-
Those men who went out with a lot of "la-di-da swank" soon found that
they were nowhere in the game with the man who cut his drill trousers
into shorts--went about with his shirt sleeves rolled up and didn't
mind getting himself dirty.
There were very few "knuts" and they soon got cracked!
Shouting and talking was another point in scouting at Suvla Bay.
Brought up in towns and streets, many men found it extremely difficult
to keep quiet. Slowly they learnt that silence was the only protection
against the hidden sniper.
I remember a lot of fresh men landing in high spirits and keen to get
up to the fighting zone. They marched along in fours and whistled and
sang; but the Turks in the hills soon spotted them and landed a shell
in the middle of them. Silence is the scout's shield in war-time.
It fell to my lot to make crosses to mark the graves of the dead.
These crosses were made out of bully-beef packing-cases, and on most
of them I was asked to inscribe the name, number and regiment of the
slain. I did this in purple copying pencil, as I had nothing more
lasting: and generally it read :--
"In Memory of 19673,
Royal Irish Fus.
I had to be tombstone maker and engraver-- and sometimes even sexton--
a scout turns his hand to anything.
We had our advanced dressing station on the left of Chocolate Hill--
the proper name of which is Bakka Baba.
Our ambulance wagons had to cross the Salt Lake, and often the wheels
sank and we had to take another team of mules to pull them out.
The Turks had a tower--a gleaming white minaret--just beyond Chocolate
Hill, near the Moslem cemetery in the village of Anafarta. It was
supposed to be a sacred tower, but as they used it as an observation
post, our battle-ships in the bay blew it down.
Flies swarmed everywhere, and were a great cause of disease, as, after
visiting the dead and the latrines they used to come and have a meal
on our jam and biscuits!
During the whole of August and September we were under heavy shell-
fire; but we got quite used to it and hardly turned to look at a
I must say khaki drill uniform is not a good hiding colour. In the
sunlight it showed up too light. I believe a parti-coloured uniform,
say of green, khaki and gray would be much better. Therefore the Scout
who wears a khaki hat, green shirt, khaki shorts and gray stockings is
really wearing the best uniform for colour-protection in stalking.
The more scouting we can introduce the better.
Carry on, Boy Scouts! Bad scoutcraft was one of the chief drawbacks in
what has been dubbed "The Glorious Failure."
There are some things you never forget . . .
That little Welshman, for instance, lying on a ledge of rock above our
Brigade Headquarters with a great gaping shrapnel wound in his abdomen
imploring the Medical Officer in the Gaelic tongue to "put him out,"
and how he died, with a morphia tablet in his mouth, singing at the
top of his high-pitched voice--
"When the midnight chu-chu leaves for Alabam!
I'll be right there!
I've got my fare . . .
All aboard for Alla-Bam!
. . . Midnight . . . chu-chu . . . chu-chu . . ."
And so, slowly his soul steamed out of the wrecked station of his body
and left for "Alabam!"
One evening, the 25th of August, bush-fires broke out on the right of
The shells from the Turks set light to the dried sage, and thistle and
thorn, and soon the whole place was blazing. It was a fearful sight.
Many wounded tried to crawl away, dragging their broken arms and legs
out of the burning bushes and were cremated alive.
It was impossible to rescue them. Boxes of ammunition caught fire and
exploded with terrific noise in thick bunches of murky smoke. A
bombing section tried to throw off their equipment before the
explosives burst, but many were blown to pieces by their own bombs.
Puffs of white smoke rose up in little clouds and floated slowly
across the Salt Lake.
The flames ran along the ridges in long lapping lines with a canopy of
blue and gray smoke. We could hear the crackle of the burning
thickets, and the sharp "bang!" of bullets. The sand round Suvla Bay
hid thousands of bullets and ammunition pouches, some flung away by
wounded men, some belonging to the dead. As the bush-fires licked from
the lower slopes of the Sari Bair towards Chocolate Hill this lost
ammunition exploded, and it sounded like erratic rifle-fire. The fires
glowed and spluttered all night, and went on smoking in the morning. I
had to go up to Chocolate Hill about some sand-bags for our hospital
dug-outs next day, and on the way up I noticed a human pelvis and a
chunk of charred human vertebrae under a scorched and charcoaled
Hawk and I kept a very good look-out every day. We noted the arrival
of reinforcements, and the putting up of new telegraph lines; we
spotted incoming transports, and the departure of our battle-ships in
In fact, between us, we worked a very complete "Intelligence
Department" of our own. We made a rough chart showing the main lines
of communications, and the position of snipers and wells, telegraph
wires to the artillery, and the main observation posts and listening
"It's just as well," said I, "to know as much as we can how things are
going, and to keep account of details--it's safer, and might be very
"Very true," said Hawk; "'ave you noticed 'ow that little cruiser
comes in every morning at the same time, and goes out again in the
late afternoon? Also, two brigades of Territorials came in last night
and went round by the beach early this morning towards Lala Baba; I
see the footprints when I went down for a wash."
The colonel had camped us on the edge of the Salt Lake on this side of
an incline which led up to a flat plateau. Into this incline we had
made our dug-outs, and he was now planning the digging out of a
square-shaped place which would hold all our stretchers on which the
sick and wounded lay, and would be protected from the Turkish shell-
fire by being dug into the solid sandstone.
I was looking about for sand-tracks and shells, and I noticed that the
grass had grown much more luxuriously at one level than it did lower
down. This grass was last year's and was now yellow and dead and
rustling like paper flowers.
"This," said I to Hawk, "was last year's water-mark in the rainy
"That's gospel," said Hawk; "and what would you make out o' that
He smiled his queer whimsical smile.
"Why, I guess we shall be swamped out of this camp in a month's time."
"Yes; practically the 'ole of this, up to this level, will be under
"Then what's the good of starting to dig a big permanent hospital here
"Yours not to reason why," said Hawk; "it's a way they have in the
army; but I'm not bothering."
Each section dug in shifts day after day until the men were worn out
Then the long, flat rain-clouds appeared one morning over the distant
range of mountains.
"You see them," said Hawk, lighting a "woodbine," and pointing across
the Salt Lake; "that's the first sign of the wet season coming up."
Sure enough in a few days the colonel had orders to shift his
ambulance to "C" Beach, near Lala Baba, as our present position was
unfavourable for the construction of a permanent field hospital, owing
to the rise of water in the wet season.
Soon after this, Hawk was moved to the advanced dressing station on
Chocolate Hill, and I had to remain with my section near the Salt
Lake. Thus we were separated.
"It's to break up our click, too thick together, we bin noticing too
much, we know the workin' o' things too well, must break up the
combine, dangerous to 'ave people about 'oo spot things and keep their
jaws tight. Git rid o' Hawk--see th' ideeah? Very clever, ain't it?
Practically we're the only two 'oo do feel which way the wind blows,
an' that's inconvenient sometimes."
I asked Hawk while he was on Chocolate Hill to note down in his head
the various snipers' posts, and the general positions of the British
and Turkish trenches.
There came a time when I wanted to send him a note. But it was a
dangerous thing to send notes about. They might fall into the hands of
some sniper and give away information.
Therefore I got a bar of yellow soap from our stores, cut it in two,
bored out a small hole in one half, wrapped up my note, put it inside
the soap, clapped the two halves together, stuck them together by
wetting it, and completely concealed the cut by rubbing it with water.
I then asked one of the A.S.C. drivers who was going up with the
ambulance wagon in the morning to give the piece of soap to Hawk.
"He *hasn t* got any soap," I explained, "and he asked me to send him
a bit. Tell him it's from me, and that I hope he'll find it all right-
- it's the best we have!"
Hawk got the soap, guessed there was a reason for sending it, broke it
open and found the note. So a simple boy-scout trick came in useful on
Now came a period of utter stagnation
It was a deadlock.
We held the bay, the plain of Anafarta, the Salt Lake, the Kislar Dagh
and Kapanja Sirt in a horse-shoe.
The Turks held the heights of Sari Bair, Anafarta village, and the
hills beyond "Jefferson's Post" in a semicircle enclosing us. Nothing
happened. We shelled and they shelled--every day. Snipers sniped and
men got killed; but there was no further advance. Things had remained
at a standstill since the first week of the landing.
Rumours floated from one unit to another:
"We were going to make a great attack on the 28th"--always a fixed
date; "the Italians were landing troops to help the Australians at
Anzac"--every possible absurdity was noised abroad.
Hawk was on Chocolate Hill with our advanced dressing station. I was
on "C" Beach, Lala Baba, with the remainder of the ambulance. I had
lost all my officers by sickness and wounds, and I was now the last of
the original N.C.O.'s of "A" Section. Except for the swimming and my
own observations of tracks and birds and natural history generally,
this was a desperately uninteresting period.
Orders to pack up ready for a move came suddenly. It was now late in
September. The wet season was just beginning. The storm- clouds were
coming up over the hills in great masses of rolling banks, black and
forbidding. It grew colder at night, and a cold wind sprang up during
Every one was bustling about, packing the operating tent and
equipment, operating table, instruments, bottles, pans, stretchers,
"monkey- boxes," bandages, splints, cooking dixies, bully- beef
crates, biscuit tins--everything was being packed up and sorted out
ready for moving.
But where? No one knew. We were going to move . . . soon, very soon,
it was rumoured.
Within every mind a small voice asked-- "Blighty?" And then came
another whiff of rumour: "The Xth Division are going-- England
But it was too good to believe. Every one wanted to believe it . . .
each man in his inmost soul hoped it might be true . . . but it
couldn't be England . . . and yet it might!
One night the Indian Pack-mule Corps came trailing down with their
little two-wheeled, two- muled carts and transported all our medical
panniers away into the gloom, and they went towards Lala Baba. It was
a good sign.
Everything was gone now except our own packs and kit, and we had
orders to "stand by" for the command to "Fall in."
We lay about in the sand waiting--and wondering. At last towards the
last minutes of midnight we got the orders to "Fall in." The N.C.O.'s
called the "Roll," "numbered off" their sections and reported "All
present and correct, sir!"
In a long straggling column we marched from our last encampment
towards Lala Baba. The night was very dark and the sand gave under our
feet. It was hard going, but every man had a gleam of hope, and
trudged along heavy-laden with rolled overcoat, haversack and water-
bottle and stretcher, but with a light heart.
The advanced party from Chocolate Hill met us at Lala Baba. Here
everything was bustle and hurry.
Every unit of the Xth Division was packed up and ready for
embarkation. Lighters and tugs puffed and grated by the shore. Horses
stamped and snorted; sergeants swore continually; officers nagged and
Men got mixed up and lost their units, sections lost their way in the
great crowd of companies assembled.
Once Hawk loomed out of the darkness and a strong whiff of rum came
with him . . . he disappeared again: "See you later, Sar'nt-- lookin'
after things--important--practically everythink----"
He was full of drink, and in his hurry to look after "things" (mostly
bottles) he lost some of his own kit and my field-glasses. He worked
hard at getting the equipment into the lighters, notwithstanding the
fact that he was "three- parts canned."
Every now and then he loomed up like some great khaki-clad gorilla,
only to fade away again to the secret hiding-place of a bottle.
And so at last we got aboard. It was still a profound secret. No one
knew whither we were going, or why we were leaving the desolation of
But every one was glad. Anything would be better than this barren
waste of sand and flies and dead men.
That was the last we saw of the bay. A sheet of gray water, a moving
mob on the slope of Lala Baba, the trailing smoke of the tug, and a
pitch-black sky--and Hawk lurching round and swearing at the loss of
his bottle and his kit.
An old sea-song was running in my mind:--
"But two men of her crew alive--
What put to sea with seventy-five!"
Only three months ago we had landed 25,000 strong; and now we numbered
about 6000. A fearful loss--a smashed Division.
We transferred to a troop-ship standing out in the bay with all
Still with the gloom hanging over everything we steamed out and every
man was dead tired.
However, I found Hawk, and we decided not to sleep down below with the
others, all crowded together and stinking in the dirty interior of the
We took our hammocks up on deck and slung them forward from the
handrail near one of the great anchors.
I had a purpose in doing this. I had no intention of going to sleep.
By taking note of a certain star which had appeared just to the right
of a cross-spar, and by noticing its change of position, I was enabled
to guess with some exactitude the course we were laying.
For the first two or three hours the star and the mast kept a
perfectly unchangeable position.
I woke up after dozing for some minutes, and taking up my old stand
near the companion-way again took my star observation. But this time
the star had swept right round and was the other side of the mast. We
had changed our course from south-west to north. Just then Hawk came
up the companion-way, no doubt from a bottle- hunt down below.
"It's--Salonika!" said he.
"We've turned almost due north in the last quarter of an hour."
"I know it,--been down to the stokers' bunks--it's Salonika--another
"They keep the Xth for making new landings."
And so to the Graeco-Serbian frontier and a fresh series of
adventures, including sickness, life in an Egyptian hospital--and then