We heard last month from Sub-Lieut Dick Sergent (RNVR) on his escape from Gallipoli. We are now equally delighted to receive this letter from his brother Sous-Lieut. Noel Sergent (French Artillery) on the island of Mudros. He was amongst the final troops to leave, on January 8th.
23/1/16. “Our battery was the last French battery to go off. They fired up to 5 in the evening, then at 7 the Captain, Lieutenant, another, myself and seven men remained at the guns. We rammed earth sacks down the mouths of the guns, then put 26 dynamite cartridges in each and a Cordon Bickford and more sacks. Then we got our packs and banged about with a sledge-hammer, put the breeches of the guns on the trucks and started off.
At the crossroads we met the 52nd division coming down quite noiselessly, in fours. This was the last division and that meant that if the Turks chose to attack they could simply come straight through, as our trenches were empty.
When we got to Sedd-ul-Behr we left our packs behind the Chateau d’Europe and went on to the water’s edge. Just then, as I was emptying the breech into the water, the horn announcing a flash from Asia sounded. That meant 40 seconds before the shell came along. We all got behind anything and the shot went just over our heads on to the quay by the ‘River Clyde’ and the bottom of the old shell went off into the sea. .
We have been badly bombed and shelled lately and the batteries up against us were getting really too numerous, so in one way it was time we went, but at the same time it is sickening to think that we have been under fire for six months and that the total result of our fighting is that we have got to go and leave our material and everything, especially some 100,000 dead, in the hands of the Turks.
It is a good thing anyway that England has at last realised her mistake and has been brave enough to own up to it.”