Volume 1: Letters written on active service, A-L, 1914-1919 - Page 196
[Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Edmond Courtney CB VD, 44, a solicitor of Melbourne, Victoria embarked from Melbourne on HMAT A38 Ulysses on 22 December 1914 as Commanding Officer of the 14th Battalion. He served at Gallipoli in command of Courtney's Post, which was named for him, became ill and was hospitalised in Malta and then England. He was made a Commander of the Honourable Order of the Bath in February 1916. He was repatriated unfit, arriving in Australia on 17 March 1916 and died on 21 October 1919.
Includes a letter (typed copy) from R E Courtney to his brother, Brigadier-General Thomas John Courtney, describes an action at Courtney's Post and the landing at Gallipoli, and congratulatory letters from General Godly and R E Courtney to No 3 Section of the 14th Battalion for their actions in defending their post on 19 May 1915.]
[To Brig-General T. Courtney]
Blue Sisters Hospital
My dear Tom.
Some interest may attach to the report in two local papers I am sending. The first describes very fairly and truly the landing. The 14th were not in till 24 hours later. The second paper is so like a tale of our biggest fight that it might have been written from Courtney's Post – But I fancy some of the details from a C.O's point of view may interest some of you, and here, on my comfortable bed I shall try and collect the recollections of our big fight, but preface it with the reminder that the writer is now a sick man – weary and weak and – with the prospect of 2 or 3 months rest ahead – what wonder if a bit downhearted? Just a bit though for he is at least philosophical. A tale of a fight should be written just after it – in the proper atmosphere – but one has other things on hand then and one sees the worst side of war – the dead and wounded pals – But for the fight. I mustn't give you a plan the [C]ensor would rightly object, but picture a huge boomerang of defending Australians and two "Posts" right at the bend of it [hand-drawn sketch of this – see image for details] "Quinn's" Post on the left and "Courtney's" Post on the right – really one big post connected by a trench, the limit of each command being marked by our blue and gold flag, so an attack on "Quinns" – and it came every night or morning – is an attack on us too. The nearest Turkish trenches in front of Courtney's were 25 yards away. in part of Quinn's only 5. yrds We threw bombs at each other.
Two companies of ours are in the trenches – 175 yards in length – or in the communication trenches and supports. Major Rankine D.S.O. – none ever earned it more honorably – is in charge of the trenches. 60 or 70 yards down the hill – or rather the precipice (it is 1" in 2") are two more companies under the C.O. – in Reserve. sitting, or rather at first sleeping in their dug outs and quite ready to hear "Stand to arms" at any moment. Yes, for the Turks have been shelling the trenches for an hour or more, the unfailing warning of an attack bigger than usual. They smash our parapet & cause much overtime for we must repair the parapet before their attack comes. They kill none and wound very few. In my comfortable dug out lay three very weary anxious officers, so tired, so dirty yet so determined and above all so confident in the strength of our defence and the perfection of our "communications" (The great factor in my own scheme of command) Each Company has a signal orderly beside the Signallers dug out, just above ours. Right at my feet sits the orderly on duty (only 1 ½ hour tour for its very very important). 50 or 60 yards below is Brigade Head Quarters and 2 more of our orderlies there. Battalion Head Quarters and Pioneers are 10 yards below me and thanks to the 8 months training we have a solid disciplined fighting machine. And I have said the staff is calmly confident in spite of the G.O.C's message that "Two more divisions of Turks have reinforced them and are massing on our front".
Let me gather up the sequence of events, and if this is personal a bit my excuse is that it is written for those of you whose interests are personal rather than general.
8.15.p.m. We retire to bed (?) fully clothed as usual. Charley, calm, methodical and at times jocular as ever. "Baby"
[Written in the left-hand margin:] Don. Dr Callendar May 25, 1928.