The Adventures of a Survivor
By A. John Gallishaw
(Lance-corporal of the First Newfoundland Regiment)
[The Century Magazine, July 1916]
Mr. Gallishaw is a Newfoundlander by birth, and was for a time private secretary to two members of the Canadian cabinet. When the call for colonial troops went out in the autumn of 1914, he was a special student at Harvard, but gave up his course there to join the First Newfoundland Regiment. When the training period in Scotland was over, Mr. Gallishaw was dismayed to hear that instead of accompanying his friends to the Mediterranean, he was to remain in London and keep the records of the regiment for the War Office. The record-keeper is always selected from among the members of a regiment, and Mr. Gallishaw was better educated for the task than any other man in it.
This appointment being galling to an able-bodied young man who had enlisted to fight, not to do clerical work in London, when the time came for the regiment to embark, Mr. Gallishaw obtained permission to see it off, and, picking up a passable-looking kit, smuggled himself aboard the transport. The stewards, not knowing that he did not belong on board, gave him tickets for a state-room and for meals, and he remained in hiding in his state-room, his presence known to all the men, but unknown to the officers, until the boat had left Malta and there was no chance for him to be put off until they reached the Dardanelles. Then coming out of concealment, he was pardoned and reinstated.
He went through three months of the terrible Gallipoli fighting, and is now back at Harvard again, discharged on account of wounds received in active service. The following is his own story of that disastrous campaign in which the men from Newfoundland greatly distinguished themselves.—THE EDITOR.
Husky, steel-muscled lumbermen; brawny, calloused-handed fishermen; loose-jointed, easy-swinging trappers; athletes from the city foot-ball and hockey teams; and gawky, long-armed farmers joined the First Newfoundland Regiment at the outbreak of war. A rigid medical examination sorted out the best of them, and ten months of bayonet-fighting, physical drill, and twenty-mile route marches over Scottish hills had molded these into trim, erect, bronzed soldiers.
They were garrisoning Edinburgh Castle when word came of the landing of the Australians and New-Zealanders at Gallipoli. At Ypres the Canadians had just then recaptured their guns and made for themselves a deathless name.
So the Newfoundlanders felt that as colonials they had been overlooked. They were not militaristic and hated the ordinary routine of army life, but they wanted to do their share. That was the spirit all through the regiment. It was the spirit that possessed them on the long-waited-for day at Aldershot when Kitchener himself pronounced them "just the men I want for the Dardanelles." That day at Aldershot every man was given a chance to go back to Newfoundland. They had enlisted for one year only, and any man that wished to could demand to be sent home at the end of the year; and when Kitchener reviewed them ten months of that year had gone.
With the chance to go home in his grasp, every man of the first battalion reenlisted for the duration of war. And it is on record, to their eternal honor, that during the week preceding their departure from Aldershot breaches of discipline were unknown, for over their heads hung the fear that they would be punished by being kept back from active service.
To break a rule that week carried with it the suspicion of cowardice. This was the more remarkable because many of the men were fishermen, trappers, hunters, and lumbermen who until their enlistment had said "Sir" to no man, and who gloried in the reputation given them by one inspecting officer as "the most undisciplined lot he had ever seen." From the day the Canadians left Salisbury Plain to take their places in the trenches in Flanders the Newfoundlanders were obsessed by one idea: they had to get to the front.
So it was with eleven hundred of such eager spirits that I lined up, on a Sunday evening early in August of last year, on the deck of the troopship in Mudros Harbor, which is the center of the historic island of Lemnos, about fifty miles from Gallipoli. Around us lay all sorts of ships, from ocean leviathans to tiny launches and rowboats. There were gray-and-black-painted troopers, their rails lined with soldiers; immense four-funneled men-of-war; and brightly lighted, white hospital-ships, with their red crosses outlined in electric lights. The landing-officer left us in a little motor-boat. We watched him glide slowly shoreward, where we could faintly discern through the dusk the white of the tents that were the headquarters for the people at Lemnos; to the right of the tents we could see the hospital for wounded Australians and New-Zealanders. A French battle-ship dipped its flag as it passed, and our boys sang "The Marseillaise."
A mail that had come that day was being sorted. While we waited, each man was served with his "iron ration." This consisted of a one-pound tin of pressed corned beef—the much-hated and much-maligned "bully beef,"—a bag of biscuits, and a small tin that held two tubes of Oxo, with tea and sugar in specially constructed air- and damp-proof envelops. This was an emergency ration, to be kept in case of direst need, and to be used only to ward off actual starvation. After that we were given our ammunition, two hundred and fifty rounds to each man.
But what brought home to me most the seriousness of our venture was the solitary sheet of letter-paper, with its envelop, that was given to every man to be used for a parting letter home. For some poor chaps it was indeed the last letter. Then we went over the side and aboard the destroyer that was to take us to Suvla Bay.
The night had been well chosen for a surprise landing. There was no moon, but after a little while the stars came out. Away on the port bow we could see the dusky outline of land, and once, when we were about half-way, an airship soared phantom-like out of the night, poised over us a short time, then ducked out of sight. At first the word ran along the line that it was a hostile airship, but a few inquiries soon reassured us.
Suddenly we changed our direction. We were near Cape Hellas, which is the lowest point of the peninsula of Gallipoli. Under Sir Ian Hamilton's scheme it was here that a decoy-party of French and British troops were to be landed to draw the Turks from Anzac. Simultaneously an overwhelming British force was to land at Suvla Bay and Anzac to make a surprise attack on the Turks right flank. Presently we were going up-shore past the wrecked steamer River Clyde, the famous "Ship of Troy" from the side of which the Australians had issued after the ship had been beached on the shore hitherto nameless, but now known as Anzac. Australian New Zealand Army Corps those five letters stand for; but to those of us who have been on Gallipoli they stand for a great deal more: they represent the achievement of the impossible. They are a glorious record of sacrifice, reckless devotion, and unselfish courage; to put each letter there cost the men from Australasia ten thousand of their best soldiers.
And so we edged our way along, fearing mines or, even more disastrous than mines, discovery by the enemy. From the Australasian over at Anzac we could hear desultory rifle-fire. Once we heard the boom of some big guns that seemed almost alongside the ship. Four hours it took us to go fifty miles in a destroyer that could make thirty-two knots easily. By one o'clock the stars had disappeared, and for perhaps three quarters of an hour we nosed our way through pitch darkness. Gradually we slowed down until we had almost stopped. Something scraped along our side. Somebody said it was a floating mine, but it turned out to be a buoy that had been put there by the navy to mark the channel.
Out of the gloom directly in front some one hailed, and our people answered. "Who have you on board?" we heard a casual English voice say, and then came the reply from our colonel:
"Newfoundlanders." There was to me something very reassuring about that cool, self-contained voice out of the night. It made me feel that we were being expected and looked after.
"Move up those boats," I heard the English voice say, and from right under our bow a naval launch with a middy in charge swerved alongside. In a little while it, with its string of boats, was securely fastened.
Just before we went into the boats the adjutant passed me.
"Well," he said, "you've got your wish. In a few minutes you'll be ashore. Let me know how you like it when you're there a little while."
"Yes, sir," I said. But I never had a chance to tell him. The first shrapnel-shell fired at the Newfoundlanders burst near him, and he had scarcely landed when he was taken off the peninsula, seriously wounded.
In a short time we had all filed into the boats. There was no noise, no excitement; just now and then a whispered command. I was in a tug with about twenty others who formed the rear-guard. The wind had freshened considerably, and was now blowing so hard that our unwieldy tug dared not risk a landing. We came in near enough to watch the other boats. About twenty yards from shore they grounded. We could see the boys jump over the side and wade ashore. Through the half-darkness we could barely distinguish them forming up on the beach. Soon they were lost to sight.
During the Turkish summer dawn comes early. We transhipped from our tug to a lighter. When it grounded on the beach day was just breaking. Daylight disclosed a steeply sloping beach, scarred with ravines. The place where we landed ran between sheer cliffs. A short distance up the hill we could see our battalion digging themselves in. To the left I could see the boats of another battalion. Even as I watched, the enemy's artillery located them. It was the first shell I had ever heard. It came over the hill close to me, screeching through the air like an express-train going over a bridge at night. Just above the boat I was watching it exploded. A few of the soldiers slipped quietly from their seats to the bottom of the boat. At first I did not realize that any one had been hit. There was no sign of anything having happened out of the ordinary, no confusion. As soon as the boat touched the beach the wounded men were carried by their mates up the hill to a temporary dressing-station.
The first shell was the beginning of a bombardment. Beachy Bill, a battery that we were to become better acquainted with, was in excellent shape. Every few minutes a shell burst close to us. Shrapnel-bullets and fragments of shell-casing forced us to huddle under the baggage for protection. A little to the left some Australians were severely punished. Shell after shell burst among them. A regiment of Sikh troops, mule-drivers, and transport-men were caught half-way up the beach. Above the din of falling shrapnel and the shriek of flying shells rose the piercing scream of wounded mules. The Newfoundlanders did not escape. That morning Beachy Bill's gunners played no favorites. On all sides the shrapnel came in a shower. Less often, a cloud of thick, black smoke and a hole twenty feet deep showed the landing-place of a high-explosive shell. The most amazing thing was the coolness of the men. The Newfoundlanders might have been practising trench-digging in camp in Scotland. When a man was hit some one gave him first aid, directed the stretcher-bearers where to find him, and coolly resumed digging. In two hours our position had become untenable. We had been subjected to a merciless and devastating shelling, and our first experience of war had cost us sixty-five men. In a new and safer position we dug ourselves in.
No move could be made in daylight. That evening we received our ration of rum, and under cover of darkness moved in open order across the Salt Lake for about a mile, then through three miles of knee-high, prickly underbrush, to where our division was intrenched. Our orders were to reinforce the Irish. The Irish sadly needed reinforcing. Some of them had been on the peninsula for months. Many of them are still there. From the beach to the firing-line is not over four miles, but it is a ghastly four miles of graveyard. Everywhere along the route are small, rude wooden crosses, mute record of advances. Where the crosses are thickest there the fighting was fiercest, and where the fighting was fiercest there were the Irish. On every cross, besides a man's name and the date of his death, is the name of his regiment. No other regiments have so many crosses as the Dublins and the Munsters. And where the shrapnel flew so fast that bodies mangled beyond hope of identity were buried in a common grave, there also are the Dublins and Munsters; and the cross over them reads "In Memory of Unknown Comrades."
The line on the left was held by the Twenty-ninth Division; the Dublins, the Munsters, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, and the Newfoundlanders made up the 88th Brigade. The Newfoundlanders were reinforcements. From the very first days of the Gallipoli campaign the other three regiments had formed part of what General Sir Ian Hamilton in his report calls the "incomparable Twenty-ninth Division. "When the first landing was made, this division, with the New-Zealanders, penetrated to the top of a hill that commanded the Narrows. For forty-eight hours the result was in doubt. The British attacked with bayonet and bombs, were driven back, and repeatedly re-attacked. The New-Zealanders finally succeeded in reaching the top, followed by the 88th Brigade. The Irish fought on the tracks of a railroad that leads into Constantinople. At the end of forty-eight hours of attacks and counter-attacks the position was considered secure. The worn-out soldiers were relieved and went into dug-outs. Then the relieving troops were attacked by an overwhelming hostile force, and the hill was lost. A battery placed on that hill could have shelled the Narrows and opened to our ships the way to Constantinople. The hill was never retaken. When reinforcements came up it was too late. The reinforcements lost their way. In his report General Hamilton attributes our defeat to "fatal inertia." Just how fatal was that inertia is known only to those who formed some of the burial-parties.
After the first forty-eight hours we settled down to regular trench warfare. The routine was four days in the trenches, eight days in rest dug-outs, four in the trenches again, and so forth, although two or three months later our ranks were so depleted that we stayed in eight days and rested only four. We had expected four days' rest after our first trip to the firing-line, but at the end of two days came word of a determined advance of the enemy. We arrived just in time to beat it off. Our trenches, instead of being at the top, were at the foot of the hill that meant so much to us.
The ground here was a series of four or five hogback ridges about a hundred yards apart. Behind these towered the hill that was our objective. From the nearest ridge, about seven hundred yards in front of us, the Turks had all that day constantly issued in mass formation. During that attack we were repaid for the havoc wrought by Beachy Bill. As soon as the Turks topped the crest they were subjected to a demoralizing rain of shell from the navy and the artillery. Against the hazy blue of the sky-line we could see the dark mass clearly silhouetted. Every few seconds, when a shell landed in the middle of the approaching 'columns, the sides of the column would bulge outward for an instant, then close in again. Meanwhile every man in our trenches stood on the firing-platform, head and shoulders above the parapet, with fixed bayonet and loaded rifle, waiting for the order to begin firing. Still the Turks came on big, black, bewhiskered six-footers, reforming ranks and filling up their gaps with fresh men. Now they were only six hundred yards away, but still there was no order to open fire. It was uncanny. At five hundred yards our fire was still withheld. When the order came, "At four hundred yards, rapid fire," everybody was tingling with excitement. Still the Turks came on, magnificently determined. But it was too desperate a venture. The chances against them were too great, our artillery and machine-gun fire too destructively accurate. Some few Turks reached almost to our trenches, only to be stopped by rifle-bullets. "Allah! Allah!" yelled the Turks as they came on.
A sweating, grimly happy machine-gun sergeant between orders was shouting to the Turkish army in general, "'T is not a damn bit of good to yell to Allah now." Our artillery opened huge gaps in their lines; our machine-guns piled them dead in the ranks where they stood. Our own casualties were very slight, but of the waves of Turks that surged over the crest all that day only a mere shattered remnant ever straggled back to their own lines.
That was the last big attack the Turks made. From that time on it was virtually two armies in a state of siege. Every night at dark we stood to arms for an hour. Every man fixed his bayonet and prepared to repulse any attack of the enemy. After that sentry groups were formed, three reliefs of two men each. Two men stood with their heads over the parapet watching for any movement in the no-man's-land between the lines. That accounts for the surprisingly large number of men one sees wounded in the head.
At daylight every morning came "Stand to arms" again. Then day duties began. In the daytime, by using a periscope, an arrangement of double mirrors, a sentry can keep his head below the parapet while he watches the ground in front. Sometimes a bullet struck one of the mirrors, and the splintered, glass blinded the sentry. It was a common thing to see a man go to hospital with his face badly lacerated by periscope glass.
Ordinarily a man is much safer on the firing-line than in the rest dug-outs. Trenches are so constructed that even if a shell drops right in the traverse where men are, only half a dozen or so suffer. In open or slightly protected ground where the dug-outs are the burst of a shrapnel-shell covers an area twenty-five by two hundred yards in extent.
A shell can be heard coming. Experts claim to identify the caliber of a gun by the sound the shell makes. Few live long enough to become such experts. In Gallipoli the average length of life was three weeks. In dug-outs we always ate our meals, such as they were, to the accompaniment of "Turkish Delight," the Newfoundlanders' name for shrapnel. We had become accustomed to rifle-bullets. When you hear the zing of a spent bullet or the sharp crack of an explosive you know it has passed you. The one that hits you never hear. At first we dodged at the sound of a passing bullet, but soon we came actually to believe the superstition that a bullet would not hit a man unless it had on it his regimental number and his name. Then, too, a bullet leaves a clean wound, and a man hit by it drops out quietly. The shrapnel makes nasty, jagged, hideous wounds, the horrible recollection of which lingers for days. It is little wonder that we preferred the firing-line.
Most of our work was done at night. When we wished to advance our line, we sent forward a platoon of men the desired distance. Every man carried with him three empty sand-bags and his intrenching-tool. Temporary protection is secured at short notice by having every man dig a hole in the ground that is large and deep enough to allow him to lie flat in it. The intrenching-tool is a miniature pickax, one end of which resembles a large-bladed hoe with a sharpened and tempered edge. The pick end is used to loosen hard material and to break up large lumps; the other end is used as a shovel to throw up the dirt. When used in this fashion the wooden handle is laid aside, the pick end becomes a handle, and the intrenching-tool is used in the same manner as a trowel.
Lying on our stomachs, our rifles close at hand, we dug furiously. First we loosened up enough earth in front of our heads to fill a sand-bag. This sand-bag we placed beside our heads on the side nearest the enemy. Out in no-man's-land, with bullets and machine-gun balls pattering about us, we did fast work. As soon as we had filled the second and third sandbags we placed them on top of the first. In Gallipoli every other military necessity was subordinated to concealment. Often we could complete a trench and occupy it before the enemy knew of it.
Sometimes while we were digging the Turks surprised us by sending up star-shells. They burst like rockets high overhead. Everything was outlined in a strange, uncanny way that gave the effect of stage-fire. At first when a man saw a star-shell he dropped flat on his face; but after a good many men had been riddled by bullets, we saw our mistake. The sudden blinding glare makes it impossible to identify objects before the light fades. Star-shells show only movement. The first stir between the lines becomes the target for both sides. So after that, even when a man was standing upright, he simply stood still.
Every afternoon from just behind our lines an aeroplane buzzed up. At the tremendous height it looked like an immense blue-bottle fly. At first the enemy's aeroplanes came out to meet ours, but a few encounters with our men soon convinced them of the futility of this. After that they relied on their artillery. In the air all around the tiny speck we could see white puffs of smoke where their shrapnel was exploding. Sometimes those puffs were perilously close to it; at such times our hearts were in our mouths. Everybody in the trench craned his neck to see. When our aeroplane maneuvered clear you could hear a sigh of relief run along the trench.
One of our air-men, Samson, captured a German Taube that he used for daily reconnaissance. Every day we watched him hover over the Turkish lines, circle clear of their bursting shrapnel, and return to our artillery with his report. One day we watched two hostile planes chase him back right to our trench. When they came near us we opened rapid fire that forced them to turn; but before Samson reached his landing-place at Salt Lake we could see that he was in trouble; one of the wings of the machine was drooping badly. We watched him land in safety, saw him jump out of his seat, and walk about ten yards to a waiting motor-ambulance. The ambulance had just turned when a shell hit the aeroplane. A second shell blew it to pieces.
But Samson had completed his mission. About half an hour later the navy in the bay and our artillery began a bombardment. From our trenches, looking through ravines, we could see the men-of-war lined up pouring broadsides over our heads into the Turkish lines. From our position in the valley we watched our shells demolish the enemy's front-line trenches on the hill well to our left. Through field-glasses we could see the communication-trenches choked with fleeing Turks. Some of our artillery concentrated on the support-trenches, preventing reinforcements from coming up. A mule-train of supplies was caught in the curtain of fire. The Turks, caught between two fires, could not escape. In a few minutes all that was left of the scientifically constructed intrenchments was a conglomerate heap of sand-bags, equipments, and machine-guns; and on top of all lay the mangled bodies of men and mules.
All through the bombardment we had hoped for the order to go over the parapet, but for the Worcesters on our left was reserved the distinction of making the charge. High explosives cleared the way for their advance, and cheering and yelling they went over the parapet. The Turks in the front-line trenches, completely demoralized, fled to the rear. A few, too weak or too sorely wounded to run, surrendered.
Prisoners taken in this engagement told us that the Turkish rank and file heartily hated their German officers. One prisoner said that he had been an officer, but since the outbreak of this war had been replaced by a German. At present the Turks are officered entirely by Germans.
With the monotony varied occasionally by some local engagement like this we dragged through the hot, fly-pestered days and cold, drafty, vermin-infested nights of September and early October. By the middle of October disease and scarcity of water had depleted our ranks; instead of having four days on the firing-line and eight days' rest, we were holding the firing-line eight days and resting only four. In my platoon, of the six non-commissioned officers who started with us, only two corporals were left, I and one other. For a week after he had been ordered by the doctor to leave the peninsula the other chap hung on, pluckily determined not to leave me alone, although staying meant keeping awake nearly all night. By this time dysentery and enteric had taken toll of more men than bullets. These diseases became epidemic until the clearing-stations and the beaches were choked with sick. The time we should have been sleeping was spent in digging, but still the men worked uncomplainingly. Some, too game to quit, would not report to the doctor, working on courageously until they dropped, although down in the bay beckoned the Red Cross of the hospital-ship, with its assurance of safety, rest, and cleanliness. By sickness and snipers' bullets we lost thirty men a day. Every day the sun poured down relentlessly, adding to the torment of parched throats and tongues. Every night, doubly cold in comparison with the day's burning heat, found us chilled and shivering.
Nobody in the front-line trenches or on the shell-swept area behind ever expected to leave the peninsula alive. Their one hope was to get off wounded. Every night men leaving the trenches to bring up rations from the beach shook hands with their comrades. From every ration party of twenty men we always counted on losing two. Those who were wounded were looked on as lucky. The best thing we could wish a man was a "cushy wound," one that would not prove fatal. But no one wanted to quit. Every day rumors flew through the trenches that in four days all the Turks would surrender. Men dying from dysentery and enteric lingered to see it, but the surrender never materialized.
We knew that in the particular section of trench held by us an advance was hopeless. Still, we thought that some other parts of the line might advance. There was always faith in the invincible Australasian. Early in October had come the news of the British advance at Loos. The report that reached us said that the enemy on the entire Western front had begun to retreat. The Australians, catching the Turks napping, took two lines of trenches.
By the time I left, the sordid monotony had begun to tell on the men. Every day officers were besieged with requests for permission to go out between the lines to locate snipers. When men were wanted for night patrol every one volunteered. Ration parties, which had formerly been a dread, were now an eagerly sought variation. Any change was welcome. The thought of being killed had lost its fear. Daily intercourse with death had robbed it of its horror. One chap had his leg blown off from standing on a bomb. Later, in hospital he told me that he felt satisfied. He had always wondered what would happen if a man stood on a bomb; now he knew. It illustrates how the men hated the deadly sameness. Anything was better than waiting in the trenches, better than being killed without a chance to struggle.
The men our regiment lost, although they gladly fought a hopeless fight, have not died in vain; the foremost advance on the Suvla Bay front, Donnelly's Post on Caribou Ridge, was made by Newfoundlanders. It is called Donnelly's Post because it is here that Lieutenant Donnelly won his military cross. The hitherto nameless ridge from which the Turkish machine-guns poured their concentrated death into our trenches stands as a monument to the initiative of the Newfoundlanders. It is now Caribou Ridge as a recognition of the men who wear the deer's-head badge.
From Caribou Ridge the Turks could enfilade parts of our firing-line. For weeks they had continued to pick off our men one by one. You could almost tell when your turn was coming. I know, because from Caribou Ridge came the bullet that sent me off the peninsula. The machine-guns on Caribou Ridge not only swept parts of our trench, but commanded all of the intervening ground. Several attempts had been made to rush those guns. All had failed, held up by the murderous machine-gun fire. Under cover of darkness, Lieutenant Donnelly, with only eight men, surprised the Turks in the post that now bears his name. The captured machine-gun he used to repulse constantly launched bomb and rifle attacks.
Just at dusk one evening Donnelly stole out to Caribou Ridge and surprised the Turks. All night the Turks strove to recover their lost ground. Darkness was the Newfoundlanders' ally. When, reinforcements arrived, Donnelly's eight men were reduced to two. Dawn showed the havoc wrought by the gallant little group. The ground in front of the post was a shambles of piled-up Turkish corpses. But daylight showed something more to the credit of the Newfoundlanders than the mere taking of the ridge. It showed one of Donnelly's men, Jack Hynes, who had crawled away from his companion to a point about two hundred yards to the left. From here he had all alone kept up through the whole night a rapid fire on the enemy's flank that duped them into believing that we had men there in force. It showed Hynes purposely falling back over exposed ground to draw the enemy's attention-from Sergeant Greene, who was coolly making trip after trip between the ridge and our lines, carrying a wounded man in his arms every time until all our wounded were in safety. Hynes and Greene were each given a distinguished conduct medal. None was ever more nobly earned.
One Saturday morning near the end of October, the brigade major passed through our lines. Before we took over the trench the occupants of the firing-line threw their refuse over the parapet into the short underbrush. Since coming in we had made a dump for it. I was sent out with five men to remove the rubbish from the underbrush to the dump, and this despite the fact that a short distance to our right we had just lost two men sent over the parapet in broad daylight to pick up some cans.
About nine in the morning we started. It was about half-an-hour's work. There was no cover for men standing. The small bushes hid men lying or sitting. Every little while I gave the men a rest, making them sit in the shelter of the underbrush. We had almost finished when the snipers somewhere on our left began to bang at us. I ordered the men to cover, and was just pointing out a likely place to young Hynes when I felt a dull thud in the left shoulder-blade and a sharp pain in my chest. Then came a drowsy, languid feeling, and I sank down first on my knees, then my head dropped over on my chest, and down I went like a Mohammedan saying his prayers. Connecting the hit in the back with the pain in my chest, I concluded that I was done for, and can distinctly remember thinking quite calmly that I was indeed fortunate to be conscious long enough to tell them what to do about my will and so forth. I tried to say, "I'm hit," and must have succeeded, because immediately I heard my henchman Hynes yell with a frenzied oath: "The corporal 's struck! Can't you see the corporal 's struck?" and heard him curse the Turk. Then I heard the others say, "We must get him in out of this." After that I was quite clear-headed, and when three or four of the finest boys that ever stepped risked their lives to come out over the parapet under fire, I was able to tell them how to lift me, and when the stretcher-bearers arrived to give me first aid I was conscious enough to tell them where to look for the wound. Also I became angry at the crowd who gathered around to watch the dressing and make remarks about the amount of blood. I asked them if they thought it was a nickel-show. This when I felt almost certain I was dying. I don't remember even feeling relieved when they told me the bullet had not gone through my heart.
That night I was put on board a hospital-ship, and a few days later I was in hospital at Alexandria.
The night the First Newfoundland Regiment landed in Suvla Bay there were about eleven hundred of us. In December, when the British forces evacuated Gallipoli, to the remnant of our regiment fell the honor of fighting the rear-guard action. This is the highest recognition a regiment can receive; for the duty of the rear-guard in a retreat is to keep the enemy from reaching the main body of troops, even if this means annihilation for itself. At Lemnos island the next day, when the roll was called, of the eleven hundred men who landed when I did, only one hundred and seventy-one answered "Here."
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013
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THE HEADLONG FURY
A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald