October 29th 1915

It is good to learn that Major Charles Mayhew (RMLI) – whose father is the chaplain here at Wadham College – has received his copy of the school magazine safely, even though he is so far away in the Dardanelles:

Suvla Bay 5/10/15. “I have been reading with great interest the experiences of various ODs in the Great War, as set forth in the last copy of the Draconian and I feel I must congratulate the Skipper and say how great an honour I feel it is to have once been a member of the School that supplied the hero of quite one of the bravest deeds in the whole war. I refer of course to Jack Smyth…

I thought it might interest you to hear something of the Naval side of the Dardanelles campaign, as far as is possible…

The chief work of the Navy lies in making all arrangements for and superintending the landing of troops detailed for the operation and in covering the landing with their guns… After the landing has been effected, the next duty is to supervise the landing of various stores…

A secondary duty is to keep down the fire, as far as possible, of the Turkish guns whenever they start shelling the beaches or the transports and store-ships in the Bay. This in theory sounds fairly simple, as the ships’ guns easily outrange all the guns that can be brought against us, but their guns are all in such well concealed positions behind hills or other natural features, that it is only by the aid of observation officers in aeroplanes fitted with wireless, that we can be spotted on to them.

We usually get up a game of hockey on the quarterdeck in the evenings, which makes up in vigour what it lacks in science and observance of the rules, and causes more casualties among officers than all the shelling…

The other evening, just after dark, a tremendous bombardment started all round our lines and the sight of the shrapnel and star-shells bursting, with the noise of the continuous rattle of maxims and rifle firing, was most awe-inspiring and we thought that the Turks must be making a most determined night attack, but the real explanation was that our men in the trenches had just heard the good news from the Western Front, and a Scotch regiment started playing the bagpipes and cheering lustily, which so alarmed the Turks that they started all down the line, loosing off anything that came to hand.”

* * * * * * *

The last letter we received from Jack Smyth was at the end of September. He is now in Egypt and is enjoying a rather safer existence:

“The climate here is perfect and there is very good tennis and boating and bathing in the salt lakes, so that we have almost forgotten about the war…”

He tells us that is hoping to return to more active service before too long in France, or possibly in the Dardanelles.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s