Volume 2: Letters written on active service, M-W, 1914-1919 - Page 190
[Lance Corporal, later Captain, Norman Rutledge Plomley MC and Bar, No 622, a clerk from Narrabeen, NSW, joined the Army on 18 August 1914 aged 22, and embarked from Sydney on HMAT A19 Afric on 18 October 1914 with No 2 Company, 1 Divisional Train, Australian Army Service Corps. He served at Gallipoli, transferring to the 4th Battalion on 1 September 1915 and being allotted No 1704. After the evacuation from Gallipoli he transferred to the 56th Battalion and served in France where he was badly gassed. He was swiftly promoted to Lieutenant and later Captain, and was awarded the Military Cross "for gallantry and distinguished service in the field" on 9 November 1917 and the Bar to the Military Cross "for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty" on 22 March 1918. He returned to Australia on 23 September 1918.
His letter written from Gallipoli on 26 May 1915 describes the Gallipoli landing.]
[Typed copy of letter]
26th May, 1915.
My Dearest Mother,
A friend of mine in going to Alexandria to-morrow so I am taking the opportunity of smuggling a letter through.
We landed at this place a month yesterday and have been under fire practically the whole time.
In my last letter I gave you our movements right up to the night before we disembarked. I will go on from that point.
About 5 o'clock on the Sunday morning we were awakened by the booming of guns. We were up on deck and found we were anchored at the mouth of the Dardanelles with the warships strung out in front of us in two lines, bombarding both the Asiatic and European sides. The forces were then landing – the French on the Asiatic side and the English on the European. It was a wonderful sight. The Russian cruiser "Askold" was pouring broadsides into a fort and village situated on a high ridge on the Asiatic side and a little further along the French cruisers were doing the same, while an English battleship and more Frenchmen were standing off the point of the ridge as it sloped down to the sea and enfiladed the whole summit. They must have blown the fort to pieces and as for the town – well, we saw whole houses flying in the air.
The plan was, I believe, for the French to destroy the fortifications on their side and then re-embark and advance up the Peninsula with the English.
All this time about six English battleships and cruisers were bombarding the other side; and one fort together with its village (which was in rather an exposed position) was literally blown to atoms. You would see one of the Queen Elizabeth's 1950 lb shells go clean through it, raising clouds of dust and smoke. Under the shadow of the fort was one of the steamers aground. One story was that she was packed with troops and had openings in the side for them to get out when she reached the shore; another, that she was filled with sandbags &c. and served as a protection for the landing parties in the pontoons and ship's boats. I might mention that there were only three Australian transports that saw the landing at this point, viz., "Atlantean", "Californian" and "Austerlind".
It appears that the English wanted our pontoons (horse boats) of which we had six.
The landing place was a fairly easy slope with a hill in the background. The smoke from the guns had for a time blocked our view, but about noon it cleared away.
Our interest for the moment was taken away from the battle when a horse boat came floating alongside with four or five wounded men. One man was in a bad way, with half his face shot away. This is the first taste we had of the horrors of war.
About 1 o'clock we weighed anchor and proceeded up the outer coast of the Peninsula, about 15 miles, to the place where we are now. It seemed a very steep and difficult landing place, there being beaches on both sides; it looked as if they had picked a bad spot, but I believe these beaches were all thoroughly mined so they were forced to land here.
Our troops had landed first thing in the morning and had