Volume 2: Letters written on active service, M-W, 1914-1919 - Page 191
already made a name for themselves although suffering terrible losses. They had sprung on the beach under a terrible fire and charged up an almost impossible slope clearing the Turks out here with great losses to themselves. I will describe the position as best I can. Imagine a beach about 15 yards wide and over a ¼ mile long, backed up by a steep clayey ridge with small knolls on either end like the buttress of a castle. Machine guns over these projections could enfilade the beach. Anyway they gained this ridge and also another further up, and even charged further where the Turks led them or portion of them into a trap and inflicted severe losses. A great many officers had already been killed so the men in some cases were practically leaderless. Then they proceeded to dig themselves in and hold the position they had won. All this time the battleships were covering them with fire, sweeping the tops of the ridges, but they could not find some of the enemy's hidden batteries, which were very well concealed and pouring shrapnel into our men and on the beach.
We landed the next afternoon and began making a depot on the beach. On Tuesday night its position was serious, as our men had been in the trenches since Sunday without reinforcements and the Turks were attacking repeatedly. About this time we received a message from General Hamilton to hold on and that reinforcements were coming. It was either Wednesday or Thursday when they arrived, and Oh! What a relief! They were a brigade of Marine Reserves and were not regulars as we had hoped. Pretty well the first thing they did was to be driven out of one of their trenches, which however, was recaptured.
Our orders are to hold this position and wait till the English-French make their way to us. We have already been waiting a month.
A little over a fortnight ago they took our 2nd Brigade down to the point (Cape Helles) to help the English-French. They were 2500 strong. They took a position down there which the others had been trying to take and arrived back here about 1500 strong.
The artillery through a blunder had not given them the necessary support, and although they gained the position they lost heavily because the Turkish positions had not been shelled beforehand. In their account of things they say that the French infantry are no good but their artillery is excellent. There is no doubt that our infantry is the best on this Peninsula.
Pretty well all the Light Horse regiments have now arrived (without their horses of course) and are being drafted into the Infantry Brigades to make them up to fighting strength. There are practically no horses with us, the transports being done by mules, our men taking them right up to the trenches.
I am now stationed in the Depot in charge of one of the Departments, but I had one trip up in the past few days.
The Turks made a very heavy attack over a week ago but were repulsed with heavy loss. Casualties about 9000. The dead were simply lying in heaps outside our trenches. Yesterday they had a nine hours armistice to bury them. We expect another fine effort from them in the next few days. We are continually being shelled on this beach with shrapnel especially in the first week or so. In one half hour there were about 40 men hit on or about the Depot. Major Young our Senior Supply Officer was shot in the arm a few yards away from me. Tom Milner was shot in the leg in his dug-out at another Depot round the beach. He had a miraculous escape. George Robey managed to get through alright, also "Long" McGovern and Fred. Harring (Dorothy will know the latter). The last I heard about Alan Mitchell was that he was missing. I can only hope that he is safe. Otto Rossiter arrived a few days ago but has not yet gone into the trenches. The ridge is now honeycombed with dug-outs and looks like a big ant hill.
[Major David Panton Young, 1 Divisional Train, AASC.]