Item 03: Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett telegrams, 1915 - Page 6

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[Page 6]

We walked up the slope from the beach, and suddenly there broke upon one the realisation that all this time the guns had been thundering. Suddenly an empty stretch of desiccated scrub rolled on before us: the homely chatter of the beach was forgotten: there was nothing but a noise of guns and wind: and for the eye nothing but the black and white telegraph poles, the wires winking in the sun and the imperturbable larks rising and falling. This empty stretch began on the sky line, and it was necessary to enter a trench originally dug by the Turks, and good enough, it seemed, to withstand any but the heroes of that imperishable assault upon the 25th of April.

We hurried on, here and there almost sticking in the rank clay that was sometimes even wet enough to want a mattress of boughs for its passage. Finally we came to the shelter, considerately labelled Low Doorway upon the lintel. [The following sentence crossed out] The shelter consisted of four or five "rooms" hollowed out of the clay, and covered with sandbags over a ceiling of corrugated iron. The walls were hung with canvas, and each of the low oblong windows gave us, as we leaned upon their high sills, a new aspect, framed in branches, of the battle on the hill. Somewhere behind a sixty-pounder crashed at intervals, and we could hear the moan and rattle of the shell go forward on its way.

In front of the shelter, the country dipped gradually down to rise again more steeply beyond a wide and partially wooded hollow. Here, through the glasses, could be seen a quantity of mules tranquil enough, notwithstanding the concentration of shellfire that was sweeping and shrieking and buzzing over their heads to explode halfway up the opposite slope. Every shell burst with its own shape of smoke, and so substantial was the vapour, that the wind could only carry it away bodily, unable for a long time

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