Volume 2: Letters written on active service, M-W, 1914-1919 - Page 76
At last we eased down – orders to get prepared to cast off: anchored about a mile from shor[e], taking some time for the lighter to take us all ashore. Presently we hear the crack, crack of the rifles. This was morning; it was just breaking day when we landed on shore, and there were still another couple of lighter loads to come. All landed, we moved off under the range of a big cliff, so we will call it. Such a march – under difficulties – I will not forget it, as a stretcher beared with a full pack, over two hundred rounds ammunition, rifle and stretcher, carrying doctor's paniers. By jove, it was a good introduction with our "joke" of an old quack and Sargeant squeaking to keep up. The best of the fun was we had only about 300 yards to go, when we turned into a gully known as "Rest Gully", where we camped that day. After settling down, we prepared to cook our first meal – not too much of the cooking by me, but I had a good mate, our trombone player, who afterwards proved himself one of the best. So long as I collected the wood and water he did the rest, Mat and myself (I was forgetting him). We had a little sleep and then – suddenly woke to hear a terrific bombardment starting from our battleships and land batteries creeping up the side of the hill. We viewed the proceedings, which were on our left, round towards Suvla. There were shells bursting everywhere. This lasted for some time then eased off. Suddenly we hear the crack crack of the machine guns and rifles. This, as we afterwards found out, was the charge of the 18th got cut up in; that night after dusk, we got orders to move round to where we had viewed the bombardment, where they were still mixing it, as on our way we passed quite a number of them getting carried in. As passing each lot of stretcher bearers, we used to get a reminder – "I pity you poor [dash] there's any amount of you round there. stumbling across rough ground, dark, just practically following the leader, we were led up in another gully, known as "Reserve Gully", behind where the 18th were at it. This was about 10 o'clock at night; we laid waiting for a while for orders, keeping well in under the ridge from the strays coming over the ridge. At last we got orders to dig ourselves in. Whilst in progress, one of our boys got popped with a stray one. "Our squad for duty" – Mat (a Victorian boy) and myself. This was my first experience as a stretcher bearer – a boy, he said he was 12 stone, by jove he seemed about 24 before we dropped him. Still carrying our rifle and equipment, dark as pitch, not knowing the run of the place, it was one I will never remember. Had orders to take him to a certain Base Hospital; didn't know where it was. We plugged on, came a cross a New Zealand Hospital, woke the doctor up to have a look at our patient. Putting us on our track, we set off on our way again found out we had missed the "sap" we were told to take. We thought so too, by the way the bullets were flying about us, the machine guns and rifle fire were deafening. Anyhow, we scrambled back, finding the sap, which led us to the Hospital. That was our first introduction and Mat's only one – getting back to our Battalion again, we started to make a dug-out for ourselves, when a stray one came over the ridge, getting my mate in the fleshy part of the leg.