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At Suvla Bay by John Hargrave

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The queer thing is, that when I look back upon that "Great Failure" it
is not the danger or the importance of the undertaking which is
strongly impressed so much as a jumble of smells and sounds and small
things.

It is just these small things which no author can make up in his study
at home.

The glitter of some one carrying an army biscuit-tin along the mule
track; the imprinted tracks of sand-birds by the blue Aegean shore;
the stink of the dead; a dead man's hand sticking up through the sand;
the blankets soaked each morning by the heavy dew; the incessant
rattle of a machine-gun behind Pear-tree Gully; the distant ridges of
the Sari Bahir range shimmering in the heat of noon-day; the angry
"buzz" of the green and black flies disturbed from a jam-pot lid; the
grit of sand in the mouth with every bite of food; the sullen dullness
of the overworked, death-wearied troops; the hoarse dried-up and
everlasting question: "Any water?"; the silence of the Hindus of the
Pack-mule Corps; the "S-s-s-e-e-e-e-o-o-o-op!--Crash!"--of the high
explosives bursting in a bunch of densely solid smoke on the Kislar
Dargh, and the slow unfolding of these masses of smoke and sand in
black and khaki rolls; the snort and stampede of a couple of mules
bolting along the beach with their trappings swinging and rattling
under their panting bellies; the steady burning of the star-lit night
skies; the regular morning shelling from the Turkish batteries on the
break of dawn over the gloom-shrouded hills; the far-away call of some
wounded man for "Stretchers! Stretchers!"; the naked white men
splashing and swimming in the bay; the swoop of a couple of skinny
vultures over the burning white sand of the Salt Lake bed to the
stinking and decomposing body of a shrapnel-slaughtered mule hidden in
the willow-thickets at the bottom of Chocolate Hill; a torn and
bullet-pierced French warplane stranded on the other side of Lala
Baba--lying over at an angle like a wounded white seabird; the rush
for the little figure bringing in "the mails" in a sack over his
shoulder; the smell of iodine and iodoform round the hospital-tents;
the long wobbling moan of the Turkish long- distance shells, and the
harmless "Z-z-z-eee-e- e-o-ooop!" of their "dud" shells which buried
themselves so often in the sand without exploding; the tattered,
begrimed and sunken-eyed appearance of men who had been in the
trenches for three weeks at a stretch; the bristling unshaven chins,
and the craving desire for "woodbines"; the ingrained stale blood on
my hands and arms from those fearful gaping wounds, and the red-brown
blood-stain patches on my khaki drill clothes; the pestering curse of
those damnable Suvla Bay flies and the lice with which every officer
and man swarmed.

The awful--cut-off, Robinson Crusoe feeling--no letters from home, no
newspapers, no books . . . sand, biscuits and flies; flies, bully and
sand . . .

Stay-at-home critics and prophets of war cannot strike just that tiny
spark of reality which makes the whole thing "live."

However many diagrams and wonderful ideas these remarkable amateur
experts publish they won't "go down" with the man who has humped his
pack and has "been out."

Mention the word "Blighty " or "Tickler's plum-and-apple," "Kangaroo
Beach" or "Jhill-o! Johnnie!" or "Up yer go--an' the best o' luck!" to
any man of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force and in each case you
will have touched upon a vividly imprinted impresssion of the
Dardanelles.

There was adventure wild and queer enough in the Dardanelles campaign
to fill a volume of Turkish Nights' Entertainments, but the people at
home know nothing of it.

This is the very type of adventure and incident which would have
aroused a war-sickened people; which would have rekindled war-weary
enthusiasm and patriotism in the land. Maybe most of these accounts of
marvellous escapes and 'cute encounters, secret scoutings and
extraordinary expeditions will lie now for ever with the silent dead
and the thousands of rounds of ammunition in the silver sand of Suvla
Bay.

The stars still burn above the Salt Lake bed; the white breakers roll
in each morning along the blue sea-shore, sometimes washing up the
bodies of the slain--just as they did when we camped near Lala Baba.

But the guns are gone and there the heavy silence of the waste places
reigns supreme.

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