January 10th 1916

Over the past weeks we have been anxiously awaiting news from those of our old boys involved in the Gallipoli campaign.  We  can at least account for Capt. Geoffrey Smyth (6th Loyal North Lancs. Regiment), who wrote from on board the ‘Hunts Green’ (a captured German ship being used to evacuate his men) following the evacuation from the Anzac and Suvla bridgeheads, which took place on 18th/19th December.

GM Smyth

Capt. GM Smyth

22/12/15. “I suppose by the time you get this the evacuation of Suvla will be old news. I really believe we did deceive the enemy this time – anyway, about five divisions got away without leaving anyone behind; and in our brigade there wasn’t a casualty.

For two weeks before, all the spare equipment and baggage was sent away and also the postal service, hence the reason why no letter for a fortnight. I marched the last party but two of our battalion to the beach, starting at 8 p.m., the last party leaving the trenches at 1.30 a.m.

They say everything was normal up till the last. The night before, half the troops were evacuated, and all the last day the line was pretty thinly held. Everything was excellently planned and worked without a hitch…”

* * * * * * *

Sub-Lieut. Dick Sergent (RNVR) has also made a successful escape from Gallipoli and has written to provide further information as to how this was achieved with so few casualties:

2/1/16. “We are now in Imbros again after having left Anzac, the whole bunch of us. This is to let you know something of the way we did it… We got some wind of it about a week, or perhaps more, before the evacuation (we were instructed only to speak of it as ‘embarkation’).

Our men set some automatic rifles when they left, and some mines and barbed wire in the trenches. The rifles were managed by way of billy-cans on the triggers with water dripping into them so they went off when the cans were heavy enough; they were set to go off raggedly, as if we were firing normally, for about 1½ hours after our men had gone.

We were to have boarded the Colne, but she was not to be found, so we picked up the first destroyer we came across, the Basilisk.. I went up into the W/T cabin and put on a pair of phones to hear the stations at Suvla and Anzac give their ‘dismantling’ signals. We heard the two at Suvla do so, but not our own.

Finally we got a bunting signal that all stragglers etc had been picked up, including the last field hospital which was to have stayed on to look after the wounded in case we had to fight for it…

We had the supreme pleasure of seeing John Turk shelling our first line trenches at 6.30 a.m. at Suvla and Anzac, and the beach at Anzac also.”

 

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