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Trenching at Gallipoli

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Trenching at Gallipoli
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Author(s): John Gallishaw
Date Published: 2011/06
Page Count: 152
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-588-9
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-587-2

A first hand account of the Dardanelle's expedition

This book, written by someone who experienced first hand the Gallipoli campaign, is inevitably important as a source work on one of the most notable events of the First World War and will interest all those fascinated by the 'sideshow' theatres of the conflict. It is doubly interesting since the author was a member of the First Newfoundlander Regiment. Readers should note that John Gallishaw, and one must assume his comrades also , did not consider Newfoundland to be simply a part of Canada but an entity apart. His book therefore offers a unique alternative to the more familiar British and Anzac accounts with which those interested in the period will be familiar. Gallishaw has left us an entertaining and immediate true story of the Great War, that benefits from a number of photographs, filled with dialogue and incident. Inevitably, despite all the comradeship and good humour, the book contains a darker side as war against the Ottoman Turkish Army is described in all its terrible detail.
Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

Our dugouts were located about a quarter of a mile inland from the edge of the Salt Lake. Somewhere at the other side of the Salt Lake was the cleverly concealed landing place of the aeroplane service. Commander Sampson, who had been in action since the beginning of the war, was in charge of the aeroplane squadron. One day, by clever manoeuvring he forced one of the enemy planes, a Taube, away from its own lines and back over the Salt Lake. Here after a spectacular fight in mid air, Sampson forced the other to surrender and captured his machine. The Taube he thereafter used for daily reconnaissance. Every afternoon we watched him hover over the Turkish lines, circle clear of their bursting shrapnel, poising long enough to complete his observations, then return to the Salt Lake with his report for our artillery and the navy. The day after Sam Lodge’s burial, we watched two hostile ’planes chase Sampson back right to our trenches. When they came near enough, our men opened rapid fire that forced them to turn; but before Sampson reached his landing place at Salt Lake, we could see that he was in trouble. One of the wings of his machine was drooping badly. From the other side of the Salt Lake, a motor ambulance was tearing along towards the place where he was expected to land. The Taube sank gradually to the ground, the ambulance drew up to within about thirty feet of it, and turned about, waiting. We saw Sampson jump out of his seat, almost before the machine touched the ground, and walk to the waiting ambulance. The ambulance had just started, when a shell from a Turkish gun hit the prostrate aeroplane and tore a large hole in it. With marvellous precision, the Turkish battery pumped three or four shells almost on top of the first. In a few minutes, all that was left of the Taube was a twisted mass of frame work; of the wings, not a fragment remained.<br>
But although Sampson had lost his ’plane, he had completed his mission. About half an hour later, the navy in the bay began a bombardment. We could see the men-o’-war lined up, pouring broadsides over our heads into the Turkish trenches. First, we saw the gray ships calmly riding the waves; then, from their sides came puffs of whitish gray smoke, and the flash of the discharge, followed by the jarring report of the explosion. Around the bend of Anafarta Bay, we saw creeping in a strange, low-lying, awkward-looking craft that reminded one of the barges one sees used for dredging harbours. It was one of the new monitors, the most efficiently destructive vessel in the navy. Soon the artillery on the land joined in. About four o’clock the bombardment had started; and all that afternoon the terrific din kept up. When we went into the firing line that evening at dark, the bombardment was still going on. About nine o’clock it stopped; but at three the next morning, it was resumed with even greater force. The part of the line we were holding was in a valley; to the right and left of us, the trenches ran up hill. From our position in the middle, we had a splendid view of the other parts of the line. All that morning the bombardment kept up. Our gunners were concentrating on the trenches well up the hill on the left. First we watched our shells demolish the enemy’s front line trench. Immense shells shrieked through the air above our heads and landed in the Turks’ firing line. Gradually but surely the huge projectiles battered down the enemy defences. The Turks stuck to their ground manfully, but at last they had to give up. Through field glasses we could see the communication trenches choked with fleeing Turks. Some of our artillery, to prevent their escape, concentrated on the support trenches. This manoeuvre served a double purpose: besides preventing the escape of those retreating from the battered front line trench, it stopped reinforcements from coming up. Still farther back, a mule train bringing up supplies, was caught in open ground in the curtain of fire. The Turks, caught between two fires, could not escape. In a short time all that was left of the scientifically constructed entrenchments was a conglomerate heap of sand bags, equipments, and machine guns; and on top of it all lay the mangled bodies of men and mules. <br>
All through the bombardment, we had hoped for the order to go over the parapet. When we had been rushed to the firing line the night before, we thought it was to take part in the attack. Instead of this, we were held in the firing line. 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 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. While the bombardment was going on, our men stood in their trenches, craning their necks over the parapet. All through the afternoon, the excitement was intense. Men jumped up and down, running wildly from one point in the trench to another to get a better view. Some fired their rifles in the general direction of the enemy; “just a few joy guns,” they said. Everybody was laughing and shouting delightedly. Down in the bay, the gray ships looked almost as small as launches in the mist formed by the smoke of the guns. The Newfoundlanders might have been a crowd rooting at a baseball game. Every few minutes, when the smoke in the bay cleared sufficiently to reveal to us a glimpse of the ships, the trenches resounded to the shouts of, “Come on, the navy,” and “Good old Britain.” And when the great masses of iron hurtled through the air and tore up sections of the enemy’s parapet, we shouted delightedly, “Iron rations for Johnny Turk!”
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