Thursday, 23 April 2015

Gallipoli Landing

This first-hand account of landing at Gallipoli by Otautau soldier, Archie McDonald, makes for interesting reading. Archie had been a stock agent for Wright Stephenson & Co. and enlisted in June 1915, age 26.
Otautau "Boys" at the Front

Writing to a Cobber in this district on 19th May, from Kasr-El-Ainy Hospital, Cairo, Archie Macdonald says; -- As you will sea I am still in the hospital, but I think I am going out to-morrow. When we leave the hospital we go into a convalescent home till we are properly better, and then we have to go into camp till they get a mob ready to go back to the Dardanelles. I got hit in the hand on May 2nd. We landed at the Dardanells on April 25th. When the Australians landed at 4 o'clock in the morning the Turks were right down on the beach, and about 30 yards from the water is a terrible big hill covered with scrub, and this was full of Turks, so you see what a hard job the Australians had landing. The first few boat loads never landed at all, they were sunk before they reached the shore. But this did not frighten the rest for as soon as any of them landed they fixed bayonets and held the Turks back a bit until the rest of the Australians landed, then they fixed bayonets and charged the Turks up the hill and drove them back about three miles, but by doing so they made a big mistake as they had lost a lot of men in the charge, and when they had got the Turks back so far they found that they had not enough men to hold them there so they had to retreat about a mile or more, and they lost a lot more men in the retreat. When we landed about dinner time the Australians had a good position, and were giving the Turks all they wanted. When we landed we had to land under machine gun and big gun fire as the Turks were shelling the landing position, but we landed without any loss. About six o'olook that night we were lying down on the aid of a hill waiting for orders when the Turks started putting shrapnel over our way again. Two or three shells burst just above us and killed six and wounded 17 in the 8th Regiment, but if that gunner had kept his gun in that position for a while longer he would have settled the lot of us. Well all went well with us until the following Sunday, May 2nd, when the Otago Battalion were told they had to take a certain trench on our left flank at all costs. Well, we got the trench and costs both, for we lost a lot of men. It was dark when we started, and we had a big hill to climb for a start, and as soon as we got to the top we were under a terrible fire from the Turks' machine guns and rifles, and after we bad got about 100 yards or so it was awful to see chaps falling all round you. We had only got about 400 yards when I got hit. I had just shot one Turk when I saw another behind a bit of scrub, so I crawled up to a bit of a bank so that I could got a better shot at him. I just put up my rifle when an explosive bullet hit it and pieces of the bullet went into the palm of my hand, the rifle being smashed. All I could do was to get out of it, so I made my way to the dressing station to get my hand dressed, and I was then sent aboard the ship to come here, where we arrived on Monday, 10th May. My hand is just about right now. I got the last piece of bullet out yesterday, but there is still a few very small pieces in yet, but they will come out themselves. The nurses and visitors are very good to us here. By jove you should hear Queen Lizzie whispering with her 15-inch guns, she does make a row. We have had no news as to what the boys are doing or how they are getting on. The mounted boys left here about a week ago so they will be well into it by now, and they would have a better time landing than we had.

P.S. By the time you get this I hope to be well into the Turks again.
--Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume XI, Issue 530, 13 July 1915, Page 5, PapersPast website, National Library of New Zealand

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