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Gallipoli by  John Masefield

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APRIL—THE LANDING

Then said Roland: "Oliver, companion, brother . . . . we shall have a strong and tough battle, such as man never saw fought. But I shall strike with my sword, and you, comrade, will strike with yours; we have borne our swords in so many lands, we have ended so many battles with them, that no evil song shall be sung of them." . . . At these words the Franks went forward gladly.

The Song of Roland.

[37] LET the reader now try to imagine the nature of the landing. In order to puzzle the Turkish commander, to make him hesitate and divide his forces, it was necessary to land or pretend to land, in some force, simultaneously at various places. A feint of landing was to be made near Bulair, the French Corps Expeditionnaire was to land at Kum Kale, to attack and silence the Asiatic fortifications and batteries, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps was to land at or near Gaba Tepe, while men of the 29th and Royal Naval Divisions landed at or near Cape Helles, some towards Krithia on the north, others nearer Sedd-el-Bahr on the southwest and south. The main attacks were to be those near Gaba Tepe and Cape Helles.

At Cape Helles three principal landings were to be made at the following places:

1. At Beach V, a small semi-circular sandy [38] bay, 300 yards across, just west of the ruins of Sedd-el-Bahr castle. The ground rises steeply round the half circle of the bay exactly as the seats rise in an amphitheatre. Modern defense could not ask for a more perfect site.

2. At Beach W (to the west of V), where a small sandy bay under Cape Tekke offered a landing upon a strip of sand about the size of Beach V. The slope upward from this beach is more gentle than at V, through a succession of sand dunes, above which the ground was strongly entrenched. The cliffs north and south are precipitous, and make the beach a kind of gully or ravine. The Turks had placed machine guns in holes in the cliff, had wired and mined both beach and bay, and thrown up strong redoubts to flank them. Beach W was a death trap.

3. At Beach X (north of W, on the other or northern side of Cape Tekke), a narrow strip of sand, 200 yards long, at the foot of a low cliff. This, though too small to serve for the quick passage ashore of many men at a time, was a slightly easier landing place than [39] the other two, owing to the lie of the ground. Besides these main landings, two minor landings were to be made as follows:

4. At Beach S, a small beach, within the Straits, beyond Sedd-el-Bahr.

5. At Beach Y (on the Ęgean, to the west of Krithia), a strip of sand below a precipitous cliff, gashed with steep, crumbling, and scrub-covered gullies.

These two minor landings were to protect the flanks of the main landing parties, "to disseminate the forces of the enemy and to interrupt the arrival of his reinforcements." They were to take place at dawn (at about 5 a. m. or half an hour before the main attacks), without any preliminary bombardment from the fleet upon the landing places.


[Illustration]

Near Gaba Tepe only one landing was to be made, upon a small beach, 200 yards across, a mile to the north of Gaba Tepe promontory. The ground beyond this beach is abrupt sandy cliff, covered with scrub, flanked by Gaba Tepe, and commanded by the land to shoreward.

[40] For some days before the landing, the Army lay at Mudros, in Lemnos, aboard its transports, or engaged in tactical exercises ashore and in the harbour. Much bitter and ignorant criticism has been passed upon this delay, which was, unfortunately, very necessary. The month of April, 1915, in the Ęgean, was a month of unusually unsettled weather; it was quite impossible to attempt the landing without calm water and the likelihood of fine weather for some days. In rough weather it would have been impossible to land laden soldiers with their stores through the surf of open beaches, under heavy fire, and those who maintain, that "other soldiers" (i. e. themselves) would have made the attempt, can have no knowledge of what wading ashore from a boat, in bad weather, in the Ęgean or any other sea, even without a pack and with no enemy ahead, is like. But in unsettled weather the Gallipoli coast is not only difficult but exceedingly dangerous for small vessels. The currents are fierce, and a short and ugly sea gets up quickly and makes towing hazardous. Had the attempt [41] been made in foul weather a great many men would have been drowned, some few would have reached the shore, and then the ships would have been forced off the coast. The few men left on the shore would have had to fight there with neither supplies nor supports till the enemy overwhelmed them.

Another reason for delay was the need for the most minute preparation. Many armies have been landed from boats from the time of Pharaoh's invasion of Punt until the present, but no men, not even Cęsar's army of invasion in Britain, have had to land in an enemy's country with such a prospect of difficulty before them. They were going to land on a foodless cliff, five hundred miles from a store, in a place and at a season in which the sea's rising might cut them from supply. They had to take with them all things, munitions, guns, entrenching tools, sandbags, provisions, clothing, medical stores, hospital equipment, mules, horses, fodder, even water to drink, for the land produced not even that. These military supplies had to be arranged in boats and [42] lighters in such a way that they might be thrust ashore with many thousands of men in all haste but without confusion. All this world of preparation, which made each unit landed a self-supporting army, took time and labour, how much can only be judged by those who have done similar work.

On Friday, the 23rd of April, the weather cleared so that the work could be begun. In fine weather in Mudros a haze of beauty comes upon the hills and water till their loveliness is unearthly it is so rare. Then the bay is like a blue jewel, and the hills lose their savagery, and glow, and are gentle, and the sun comes up from Troy, and the peaks of Samothrace change colour, and all the marvelous ships in the harbour are transfigured. The land of Lemnos was beautiful with flowers at that season, in the brief Ęgean spring, and to seawards always, in the bay, were the ships, more ships, perhaps, than any port of modern times has known; they seemed like half the ships of the world. In this crowd of ship-ping, strange beautiful Greek vessels passed, [43] under rigs of old time, with sheep and goats and fish, for sale, and the tugs of the Thames and Mersey met again the ships they had towed of old, bearing a new freight, of human courage. The transports (all painted black) lay in tiers, well within the harbour, the men of war nearer Mudros and the entrance. Now in all that city of ships, so busy with passing picket-boats, and noisy with the labour of men, the getting of the anchors began. Ship after ship, crammed with soldiers, moved slowly out of harbour, in the lovely day, and felt again the heave of the sea. No such gathering of fine ships has ever been seen upon this earth, and the beauty and the exaltation of the youth upon them made them like sacred things as they moved away. All the thousands of men aboard them, gathered on deck to see, till each rail was thronged. These men had come from all parts of the British world, from Africa, Australia, Canada, India, the Mother Country, New Zealand and remote islands in the sea. They had said good-bye to home that they might offer their lives in the cause we [44] stand for. In a few hours at most, as they well knew, perhaps a tenth of them would have looked their last on the sun, and be a part of foreign earth or dumb things that the tides push. Many of them would have disappeared forever from the knowledge of man, blotted from the book of life none would know how, by a fall or chance shot in the darkness, in the blast of a shell, or alone, like a hurt beast, in some scrub or gully, far from comrades and the English speech and the English singing. And perhaps a third of them would be mangled, blinded or broken, lamed, made imbecile or disfigured, with the colour and the taste of life taken from them, so that they would never more move with comrades nor exult in the sun. And those not taken thus would be under the ground, sweating in the trench, carrying sand-bags up the sap, dodging death and danger, without rest or food or drink, in the blazing sun or the frost of the Gallipoli night, till death seemed relaxation and a wound a luxury. But as they moved out these things were but the end they asked, the reward they had [45] come for, the unseen cross upon the breast. All that they felt was a gladness of exultation that their young courage was to be used. They went like kings in a pageant to the imminent death.

As they passed from moorings to the man-of-war anchorage on their way to the sea, their feeling that they had done with life and were going out to something new, welled up in those battalions; they cheered and cheered till the harbour rang with cheering. As each ship crammed with soldiers drew near the battleships, the men swung their caps and cheered again, and the sailors answered, and the noise of cheering swelled, and the men in the ships not yet moving joined in, and the men ashore, till all the life in the harbour was giving thanks that it could go to death rejoicing. All was beautiful in that gladness of men about to die, but the most moving thing was the greatness of their generous hearts. As they passed the French ships, the memory of old quarrels healed, and the sense of what sacred France has done and endured, in this great war, and [46] the pride of having such men as the French for comrades, rose up in their warm souls, and they cheered the French ships more, even, than their own.

They left the harbour very, very slowly; this tumult of cheering lasted a long time; no one who heard it will ever forget it, or think of it unshaken. It broke the hearts of all there with pity and pride: it went beyond the guard of the English heart. Presently all were out, and the fleet stood across for Tenedos, and the sun went down with marvelous colour, lighting island after island and the Asian peaks, and those left behind in Mudros trimmed their lamps knowing that they had been for a little brought near to the heart of things.


[Illustration]

A VIEW SHOWING MORTE BAY, DE TOTT'S BATTERY, AND THE ASIATIC COAST.

The next day, the 24th April, the troops of the landing parties went on board the war-ships and mine-sweepers which were to take them ashore. At midnight the fleet got under way from Tenedos and stood out for the Peninsula. Dawn was to be at five, the landings on the flanks were to take place then, the others [47] at half-past five, after the fleet had bombarded the beaches. Very few of the soldiers of the landing parties slept that night; the excitement of the morrow kept them awake, as happened to Nelson's sailors before Trafalgar. It was a very still fine night, slightly hazy, with a sea so still that the ships had no trouble with their long tows of boats and launches. As it began to grow light the men went down into the boats, and the two flanking parties started for the outer beaches S and Y. The guns of the fleet now opened a heavy fire upon the Turkish positions and the big guns on the Asian shore sent over a few shell in answer; but the Turks near the landing places reserved their fire. During the intense bombardment by the fleet, when the ships were trembling like animals with the blasts of the explosions, the picket boats towing the lighters went ahead and the tow-loads of crowded men started for the main landings on beaches V, W and X.

It was now light, and the haze on Sedd-el-Bahr was clearing away so that those in charge of the boats could see what they were doing. [48] Had they attempted an attack in the dark on those unsurveyed beaches among the fierce and dangerous tide rips the loss of life would have been very great. As it was, the exceeding fierceness of the currents added much to the difficulty and danger of the task. We will take the landings in succession.


The Landing at V Beach, near Sedd-el-Bahr.

The men told off for this landing were: The Dublin Fusiliers, the Munster Fusiliers, half a battalion of the Hampshire Regiment, and the West Riding Field Company.

Three companies of the Dublin Fusiliers were to land from towed lighters, the rest of the party from a tramp steamer, the collier River Clyde. This ship, a conspicuous sea-mark at Cape Helles throughout the rest of the campaign, had been altered to carry and land troops. Great gangways or entry ports had been cut in her sides on the level of her between decks, and platforms had been built out upon her sides below these, so that men might run from her in a hurry. The plan was to [49] beach her as near the shore as possible, and then drag or sweep the lighters, which she towed, into position between her and the shore, so as to make a kind of boat bridge from her to the beach. When the lighters were so moored as to make this bridge, the entry ports were to be opened, the waiting troops were to rush out on to the external platforms, run from them on to the lighters and so to the shore. The ship's upper deck and bridge were protected with boiler plate and sandbags, and a casement for machine guns was built upon her fo'c'sle, so that she might reply to the enemy's fire.


[Illustration]

A REMARKABLE VIEW OF V BEACH, TAKEN FROM S.S. RIVER CLYDE.

Five picket-boats, each towing five boats or launches full of men, steamed alongside the River Clyde  and went ahead when she grounded. She took the ground rather to the right of the little beach, some 400 yards from the ruins of Sedd-el-Bahr castle, before the Turks had opened fire, but almost as she grounded, when the picket-boats with their tows were ahead of her, only twenty or thirty yards from the beach, every rifle and machine [50] gun in the castle, the town above it, and in the curved low strongly trenched hill along the bay, began a murderous fire upon ship and boats. There was no question of their missing. They had their target on the front and both flanks at ranges between 100 and 300 yards in clear daylight, thirty boats bunched together and crammed with men and a good big ship. The first outbreak of fire made the bay as white as a rapid, for the Turks fired not less than ten thousand shots a minute for the first few minutes of that attack. Those not killed in the boats at the first discharge jumped overboard to wade or swim ashore, many were killed in the water, many, who were wounded, were swept away and drowned, others, trying to swim in the fierce current, were drowned by the weight of their equipment; but some reached the shore, and these instantly doubled out to cut the wire entanglements, and were killed, or dashed for the cover of a bank of sand or raised beach which runs along the curve of the bay. Those very few who reached this cover were out of immediate danger, but [51] they were only a handful. The boats were destroyed where they grounded.

Meanwhile, the men of the River Clyde  tried to make their bridge of boats, by sweeping the lighters into position and mooring them between the ship and the shore. They were killed as they worked, but others took their places, the bridge was made, and some of the Munsters dashed along it from the ship and fell in heaps as they ran. As a second company followed, the moorings of the lighters broke or were shot, the men leaped into the water and were drowned or killed, or reached the beach and were killed, or fell wounded there, and lay under fire getting wound after wound till they died; very, very few reached the sandbank. More brave men jumped aboard the lighters to remake the bridge. They were swept away or shot to pieces; the average life on those boats was some three minutes long, but they remade the bridge, and the third company of the Munsters doubled down to death along it under a storm of shrapnel which scarcely a man survived. The big [52] guns in Asia were now shelling the River Clyde, and the hell of rapid fire never paused. More men tried to land, headed by Brigadier General Napier, who was instantly killed, with nearly all his followers. Then for long hours the remainder stayed on board, down below in the grounded steamer, while the shots beat on her plates with a rattling clang which never stopped. Her twelve machine guns fired back, killing any Turk who showed, but nothing could be done to support the few survivors of the landing, who now lay under cover of the sand-bank on the other side of the beach. It was almost certain death to try to leave the ship, but all through the day men leaped from her (with leave or without it) to bring water or succour to the wounded on the boats or beach. A hundred brave men gave their lives thus: every man there earned the Cross that day: a boy earned it by one of the bravest deeds of the war, leaping into the sea with a rope in his teeth to try to secure a drifting lighter.


[Illustration]

THE S.S. RIVER CLYDE.

The day passed thus, but at nightfall the Turks' fire paused, and the men came ashore [53] from the River Clyde, almost unharmed. They joined the survivors on the beach and at once attacked the old fort and the village above it. These works were strongly held by the enemy. All had been ruined by the fire from the fleet, but in the rubble and ruin of old masonry there were thousands of hidden riflemen backed by machine guns. Again and again they beat off our attacks, for there was a bright moon and they knew the ground, and our men had to attack uphill over wire and broken earth and heaped stones in all the wreck and confusion and strangeness of war at night in a new place. Some of the Dublins and Munsters went astray in the ruins, and were wounded far from their fellows and so lost. The Turks became more daring after dark; while the light lasted they were checked by the River Clyde's  machine guns, but at midnight they gathered unobserved and charged. They came right down onto the beach, and in the darkness and moonlight much terrible and confused fighting followed. Many were bayoneted, many shot, there was wild firing and crying, and then the [54] Turk attack melted away, and their machine guns began again. When day dawned, the survivors of the landing party were crouched under the shelter of the sandbank; they had had no rest; most of them had been fighting all night, all had landed across the corpses of their friends. No retreat was possible, nor was it dreamed of, but to stay there was hopeless. Lieutenant Colonel Doughty-Wylie gathered them together for an attack: the fleet opened a terrific fire upon the ruins of the fort and village, and the landing party went forward again, fighting from bush to bush and from stone to stone, till the ruins were in their hands. Shells still fell among them, single Turks, lurking under cover, sniped them and shot them, but the landing had been made good, and V beach was secured to us.

This was the worst and the bloodiest of all the landings.


The Landing at W Beach, under Cape Tekke.

The men told off for this landing were the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers, supported (later) by the Worcester Regiment.

[55] The men were landed at six in the morning from ships' boats run ashore by picket boats. On landing, they rushed the wire entanglements, broke through them, with heavy loss, and won to the dead ground under the cliffs. The ships drew nearer to the beach and opened heavy fire upon the Turks, and the landing party stormed the cliffs and won the trenches.

The Worcester Regiment having landed, attempts were made to break a way to the right, so as to join hands with the men on V Beach. All the land between the two beaches was heavily wired and so broken that it gave much cover to the enemy. Many brave Worcesters went out to cut the wires and were killed; the fire was intense, there was no getting further. The trenches already won were secured and improved, the few available reserves were hurried up, and by dark, when the Turks attacked, again and again, in great force, our men were able to beat them off, and hold on to what they had won.


The Landing at X Beach, towards Krithia. (Sometimes called Implacable Landing)

The men told off for this landing were the 1st Royal Fusiliers, with a working party of the Anson Battalion, R.N.D.

These men were towed ashore from H.M.S. Implacable  about an hour after dawn. The ship stood close in to the beach and opened rapid fire on the enemy trenches: under cover of this fire the men got ashore fairly easily. On moving inland they were attacked by a great force of Turks and checked; but they made good the ground won, and opened up communications with the Lancashires who had landed at V Beach. This landing was the least bloody of all.

Of the two flank landings, that on the right, within the Straits, to the right of Sedd-el-Bahr, got ashore without great loss and held on; that on the left, to the left of X Beach, got ashore, fought a desperate and bloody battle against five times its strength, and finally had to re-embark. The men got ashore upon a cliff [57] so steep that the Turks had not troubled to defend it, but on landing they were unable to link up with the men on X Beach as had been planned. They were attacked in great force by an ever-growing Turkish army, fought all day and all through the night in such trenches as they had been able to dig under fire, and at last in the morning of the next day went down the cliffs and re-embarked, most nobly covered to the end by a party from the King's Own Scottish Borderers and the Plymouth Battalion.

During the forenoon of the 25th, a regiment of the French Corps landed at Kum Kale, under cover of the guns of the French warships, and engaged the enemy throughout the day and night. Their progress was held up by a strongly entrenched force during the afternoon, and after sharp fighting all through the night they re-embarked in the forenoon of the 26th with some 400 Turkish prisoners. This landing of the French diverted from us on the 25th the fire of the howitzers emplaced on the Asiatic shore. Had these been free to fire upon us, the landings near Sedd-el-Bahr would have [58] been made even more hazardous than they were.


[Illustration]

SOME OF THE BARBED WIRE ENTANGLEMENTS NEAR SED-DUL-BAHR.

At Bulair one man, Lieutenant Freyberg, swam ashore from a Destroyer, towing a little raft of flares. Near the shore he lit two of these flares, then, wading onto the land, he lit others at intervals along the coast, then he wandered inland, naked, on a personal reconnaissance, and soon found a large Turkish army strongly entrenched. Modesty forbade further intrusion. He went back to the beach and swam off to his Destroyer, could not find her in the dark, and swam for several miles, was exhausted and cramped, and was at last picked up, nearly dead. This magnificent act of courage and endurance, done by one unarmed man, kept a large Turkish army at Bulair during the critical hours of the landing. "The Constantinople papers were filled with accounts of the repulse of the great attack at Bulair." The flares deceived the Turks even more completely than had been hoped.

While these operations were securing our hold upon the extreme end of the Peninsula, [59] the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps were making good their landing on the Ęgean coast, to the north of Gaba Tepe. They sailed from Mudros on the 24th, arrived off the coast of the Peninsula at about half-past one on the morning of the 25th, and there under a setting moon, in calm weather, they went on board the boats which were to take them ashore. At about half-past three the tows left the ships and proceeded in darkness to the coast.

Gaba or Kaba Tepe is a steep cliff or promontory about 70 feet high with a whitish nose and something the look of a blunt-nosed torpedo or porpoise. It is a forbidding-looking snout of land, covered with scrub where it is not too steep for roots to hold, and washed by deep water. About a mile to the north of it there is a possible landing place, and north of that again a long and narrow strip of beach between two little headlands. This latter beach cannot be seen from Gaba Tepe. The ground above these beaches is exceedingly steep sandy cliff, broken by two great gulleys or ravines, which run inland. All the ground, ex- [60] cept in one patch in the southern ravine, where there is a sort of meadow of grass, is densely covered with scrub, mostly between two and three feet high. Inland from the beach, the land of the Peninsula rises in steep, broken hills and spurs, with clumps of pine upon them, and dense undergrowths of scrub. The men selected for this landing were the 3rd Brigade of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, followed and supported by the 1st and 2nd Brigades.

The place selected for the landing was the southern beach and nearer of the two to Gaba Tepe. This, like the other landing places near Cape Helles, was strongly defended, and most difficult of approach. Large forces of Turks were entrenched there, well prepared. But in the darkness of the early morning after the moon had set the tows stood a little further to the north than they should have done, perhaps because some high ground to their left made a convenient steering mark against the stars. They headed in towards the northern beach between the two little headlands, where [61] the Turks were not expecting them. However, they were soon seen and very heavy independent rifle fire was concentrated on them. As they neared the beach "about one battalion of Turks "doubled along the land to intercept them. These men came from nearer Gaba Tepe, firing as they ran, into the mass of the boats at short range. A great many men were killed in the boats, but the dead men's oars were taken by survivors, and the boats forced into the shingle. The men jumped out, waded ashore, charged the enemy with the bayonet, and broke the Turk attack to pieces. The Turks scattered and were pursued, and now the steep scrub-covered cliffs became the scene of the most desperate fighting.

The scattered Turks dropped into the scrub and disappeared. Hidden all over the rough cliffs, under every kind of cover, they sniped the beach or ambushed the little parties of the 3rd Brigade who had rushed the landing. All over the broken hills there were isolated fights to the death, men falling into gullies and being bayoneted, sudden duels, point blank, [62] where men crawling through the scrub met each other and life went to the quicker finger, heroic deaths, where some half section which had lost touch were caught by ten times their strength and charged and died. No man of our side knew that cracked and fissured jungle. Men broke through it on to machine guns, or showed up on a crest and were blown to pieces, or leaped down from it into some sap or trench, to catch the bombs flung at them and hurl them at the thrower. Going as they did, up cliffs, through scrub, over ground which would have broken the alignment of the Tenth Legion, they passed many hidden Turks, who were thus left to shoot them in the back or to fire down at the boats, from perhaps only fifty yards away. It was only just light, theirs was the first British survey of that wild country; only now, as it showed up clear, could they realise its difficulty. They pressed on up the hill. They dropped and fired and died; they drove the Turks back, they flung their packs away, wormed through the bush and stalked the snipers from the flash. As they went, the words [63] of their song supported them, the ribald and proud chorus of "Australia will be there," which the men on the torpedoed Southland  sang, as they fell in, expecting death. Presently, as it grew lighter, the Turks' big howitzers began shelling the beach, and their field guns, well-hidden, opened on the transports now busy disembarking the 1st and 2nd Brigades. They forced the transports to stand further out to sea, and shelled the tows, as they came in, with shrapnel and high explosive. As the boats drew near the shore every gun on Gaba Tepe took them in flank and the snipers concentrated on them from the shore. More and more Turks were coming up at the double to stop the attack up the hill. The fighting in the scrub grew fiercer; shells burst continually upon the beach, boats were sunk, men were killed in the water. The boatmen and beach-working-parties were the unsung heroes of that landing. The boatmen came in with the tows, under fire, waited with them under intense and concentrated fire of every kind, until they were unloaded, and then shoved off, and put slowly [64] back for more, and then came back again, The beach parties were wading to and from that shell-smitten beach all day, unloading, carrying ashore and sorting the munitions and necessaries for many thousands of men. They worked in a strip of beach and sea from 500 yards long by 40 broad, and the fire directed on that strip was such that every box brought ashore had one or more shells and not less than fifty bullets directed at it before it was flung upon the sand. More men came in and went on up the hill in support; but as yet there were no guns ashore, and the Turks' fire became in. tenser. By ten o'clock the Turks had had time to bring up enough men from their prepared positions to hold up the advance. Scattered parties of our men who had gone too far in the scrub, were cut off and killed, for there was no thought of surrender in those marvelous young men; they were the flower of this world's manhood, and died as they had lived, owning no master on this earth. More and more Turks came up with big and field artillery, and now our attack had to hold on to what it had [65] won, against more than twice its numbers. We had won a rough bow of ground, in which the beach represented the bow string, the beach near Gaba Tepe the south end, and the hovel known as Fisherman's Hut the north. Against this position, held by at most 8,000 of our men, who had had no rest and had fought hard since dawn, under every kind of fire in a savage rough country unknown to them, came an overwhelming army of Turks to drive them into the sea.

For four hours the Turks attacked and again attacked, with a terrific fire of artillery and waves of men in succession. They came fresh, from superior positions, with many guns, to break a disorganised line of breathless men not yet dug in. The guns of the ships opened on them, and the scattered units in the scrub rolled them back again and again by rifle and machine gun fire, and by charge after counter charge. More of the Army Corps landed to meet the Turks, the fire upon the beach never slackened, and they came ashore across corpses and wrecked boats and a path like a road in hell with ruin and blasts and burning. They [66] went up the cliff to their fellows under an ever-growing fire, that lit the scrub and burned the wounded and the dead. Darkness came, but there was no rest nor lull. Wave after wave of Turks came out of the night, crying the proclamation of their faith; others stole up in the dark through the scrub and shot or stabbed and crept back, or were seen and stalked and killed. Flares went up, to light with their blue and ghastly glare the wild glens peopled by the enemy. Men worked at the digging-in till they dropped asleep upon the soil, and more Turks charged and they woke and fired and again dug. It was cruelly cold after the sun had gone, but there was no chance of warmth or proper food; to dig-in and beat back the Turk or die was all that men could think of.

In the darkness, among the blasts of the shells, men scrambled up and down the pathless cliffs bringing up tins of water and boxes of cartridges, hauling up guns and shells, and bringing down the wounded. The beach was heaped with wounded, placed as close under the cliff as might be, in such yard or so of dead ground [67] as the cliffs gave. The doctors worked among them and shells fell among them and doctors and wounded were blown to pieces, and the survivors sang their song of "Australia will be there," and cheered the newcomers still landing on the beach. Sometimes our fire seemed to cease and then the Turk shells filled the night with their scream and blast and the pattering of their fragments. With all the fury and the crying of the shells, and the shouts and cries and cursing on the beach, the rattle of the small arms and the cheers and defiance up the hill, and the roar of the great guns far away, at sea, or in the olive groves, the night seemed in travail of a new age. All the blackness was shot with little spurts of fire, and streaks of fire, and malignant bursts of fire, and arcs and glows and crawling snakes of fire, and the moon rose, and looked down upon it all. In the fiercer hours of that night shells fell in that contested mile of ground and on the beach beyond it at the rate of one a second, and the air whimpered with passing bullets, or fluttered with the rush of the big shells, or struck the head of [68] the passer like a moving wall with the shock of the explosion. All through the night, the Turks attacked, and in the early hours their fire of shrapnel became so hellish that the Australians soon had not men enough left to hold the line. Orders were given to fall back to a shorter line, but in the darkness, uproar and confusion, with many sections refusing to fall back, others falling back and losing touch, others losing their way in gully or precipice, and shrapnel hailing on all, as it had hailed for hours, the falling back was mistaken by some for an order to re-embark. Many men who had lost their officers and non-commissioned officers fell back to the beach, where the confusion of wounded men, boxes of stores, field dressing stations, corpses and the litter and the waste of battle, had already blocked the going. The shells bursting in this clutter made the beach, in the words of an eye-witness, "like bloody hell and nothing else." But at this breaking of the wave of victory, this panting moment in the race, when some of the runners had lost their first wind, encouragement reached [69] our men: a message came to the beach from Sir Ian Hamilton, to say that help was coming, and that an Australian submarine had entered the Narrows and had sunk a Turkish transport off Chanak.

This word of victory, coming to men who thought for the moment that their efforts had been made in vain, had the effect of a fresh brigade. The men rallied back up the hill; bearing the news to the firing-line, the new, constricted line was made good, and the rest of the night was never anything but continued victory to those weary ones in the scrub. But 24 hours of continual battle exhausts men, and by dawn the Turks, knowing the weariness of our men, resolved to beat them down into the sea. When the sun was well in our men's eyes they attacked again, with not less than twice our entire strength of fresh men, and with an overwhelming superiority in field artillery. Something in the Turk commander and the knowledge that a success there would bring our men across the peninsula within a day, made the Turks more desperate enemies there than [70] elsewhere. They came at us with a determination which might have triumphed against other troops. As they came on they opened a terrific fire of shrapnel upon our position, pouring in such a hail that months afterwards one could see their round shrapnel bullets stuck in bare patches of ground, or in earth thrown up from the trenches, as thickly as plums in a pudding. Their multitudes of men pressed through the scrub as skirmishers, and sniped at every moving thing; for they were on higher ground and could see over most of our position, and every man we had was under direct fire for hours of each day. As the attack developed, the promised help arrived, our warships stood in and opened on the Turks with every gun that would bear. Some kept down the guns of Gaba Tepe, others searched the line of the Turk advance, till the hills over which they came were swathed with yellow smoke and dust, the white clouds of shrapnel, and the drifting darkness of conflagration. All the scrub was in a blaze before them, but they pressed on, falling in heaps and lines; and their guns [71] dropped a never-ceasing rain of shells on trenches, beach and shipping. The landing of stores and ammunition never ceased during the battle. The work of the beach-parties in that scene of burning and massacre was beyond all praise: so was the work of the fatigue parties who passed up and down the hill with water, ammunition and food, or dug sheltered roads to the trenches; so was the work of the Medical Service, who got the wounded out of cuts in the earth, so narrow and so twisted that there was no using a stretcher and men had to be carried on stretcher bearers' backs or on improvised chairs made out of packing cases.

At a little before noon the Turk attack reached its height in a blaze and uproar of fire, and the swaying forward of their multitudes. The guns of the warships swept them from flank to flank with every engine of death: they died by hundreds, and the attack withered as it came. Our men saw the enemy fade and slacken and halt; then with their cheer they charged him and beat him home, seized new ground from him, and dug themselves in in [72] front of him. All through the day there was fighting up and down the line, partial attacks, and never-ceasing shell-fire, but no other great attack, the Turks had suffered too much. At night their snipers came out in the scrub and shot at anything they could see, and all night long their men dragged up field guns and piles of shrapnel, and worked at the trenches which were to contain ours. When day dawned, they opened with shrapnel upon the beach, with a feu de barrage  designed to stop all landing of men and stores. They whipped the bay with shrapnel bullets. Where their fire was concentrated, the water was lashed as with hail all day long; but the boats passed through it, and men worked in it, building jetties for the boats to land at, using a big Turk shell as a pile driver: when they got too hot they bathed in it, for no fire shook those men. It was said, that when a big shell was coming, men of other races would go into their dugouts, but that these men paused only to call it a bastard and then went on with their work.

By the night of the second day, the Aus- [73] tralian and New Zealand Army Corps had won and fortified their position. Men writing or reporting on service about them referred to them as the A.N.Z.A.C., and these letters soon came to mean the place in which they were, unnamed till then, probably, save by some rough Turkish place-name, but now likely to be printed on all English maps, with the other names, of Brighton Beach and Hell Spit, which mark a great passage of arms.


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