September 2nd 1915

Edmund Gay

In yesterday’s edition of The Times, under the heading “Missing” is the name of Lieut. Edmund Gay (5th Norfolk Regiment).

He has been serving in Gallipoli and was involved in a battle for Tekke Tepe on August 12th. Edmund is one of some 250 men involved in this attack who are unaccounted for as at present.

This is a most worrying situation for his family and it must remain our hope that he has in fact been captured.

His wife Margaret is the sister of Major William Esson, also an Old Boy of the OPS, who is currently serving with the RMLI on HMS Russell.

 

August 29th 1915

We had hoped to hear better news of our friend and colleague, Leslie Eastwood. He is still in the 17th General Hospital in Alexandria and he is now suffering from dysentery.

His family have kindly passed on to us his most recent letter to them:

Leslie Eastwood

2nd Lieut. L Eastwood, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Reg’t

“The 20th of the month and I am still lying in bed; what a waste of time it seems to be lying here, day after day! I was wounded on the 28th July, so I have been in bed 24 whole days; what a time it does seem. This dysentery which I have got takes a lot of getting rid of, but there is no doubt I am getting better gradually.

I think you would hardly recognise me now if you saw me. I have gone so thin, but it will all come right again when I once more get on my legs. My wounds have been quite all right and are healing well.

We get all sorts of visitors to the hospital: young ladies come with flowers and chocolates, cigarettes and tobacco, older ladies come with testaments and good advice and comforting words, and men come round with what news they can get from the Peninsula, which amounts to nothing.

I am in a nice airy ward with two other officers, one slightly wounded but also suffering from dysentery like myself, the other sent back from the Peninsula sick; I don’t know what is the matter with him.

Outside on the balcony is a poor Australian boy of 22, who has had one of his hands blown off by a bomb and is blinded in both eyes; he is just beginning to learn the Braille system of reading; it is very sad and I have seen many cases like his, or little better…”

It is typical of the man that he should be thinking of those worse off than himself. However, we would all be most relieved to hear that he is out of hospital before long. Let us hope that by the time the boys return for the Christmas Term, we will have news for them of the full recovery of one of their most loved and respected masters.

There are currently five OPS assistant masters, who left us over the last year, in the Army. Along with Leslie Eastwood, we continue to keep Blair Watson, Tom Higginson, Pug Wallace and Mr Bye very much in mind.

 

 

 

 

 

August 25th 1915

We have further news of the recent developments on the Gallipoli Front, where some twenty Old Boys of the OPS are currently serving.

Unfortunately, it seems that the troops who landed at Suvla Bay have not advanced very far inland and there has been a fierce counter-attack by the Turk. Major Geoffrey Mott (South Lancs Regiment) was in the Anzac sector at the time of the Suvla Bay landings and here describes part of the battle and the Turkish counter-attack at Chunuk Bair on August 10th.

Maj. GR Mott

Major GR Mott

“I will tell you of the great Turk counter-attack of the 10th August which dashed itself against us for nigh on six hours, or, at least I should say, of that sector of it which came within my vision.

On my right, and below me, was a trench full of little Gurkhas huddled together, their bayonets gleaming in the sunlight; down on my left, across the gully and some 80 yards away was the trench we had withdrawn to the day previous. Immediately on my left, but in the scrub, lay a sentry – a volunteer for this perilous duty – keeping vigil on the gully below and connecting us with the trench beyond it. A great lad this, but, alas, to him of as to many of his spleen, came a soldier’s death ere the action closed.

Like waves advancing on the sea shore, great lines of Turks with shouts of ‘Allah!’ surged continuously over the crest, only to be cut down by shrapnel from the battleships and the fire of machine-guns sweeping up the gullies from well-concealed positions on ragged little knolls to our rear. To see these brave men, ay and fair fighters too, being literally cut down like corn before the reaper, was a sight indeed. Never have I seen greater pluck than that displayed by the Turk, particularly on this day.

Besides these masses advancing, I observed men running down singly from various directions and collecting behind bushes, which must have been concealed from the view of our machine-guns and other trenches, for no fire appeared to be directed at them. Partly on these, therefore, and also on individuals taking up sniper posts, I directed my aim, and how many rounds I fired during all those hours I should be sorry to count. By my side lay a man who passed me ammunition and my field glasses as required – fresh rifles were handed on to me as each one got too hot to hold, and another man kept record of my score.

The strike of the bullet was easily visible on that sandy soil, and the range thus quickly found in each instance. Perhaps the most interesting and important target taken on was a machine-gun detachment getting their gun into a cleverly concealed position, yet visible enough from my post. The range was but 150 yards, and the officer in charge clearly a German; I picked him off with my second shot, and shortly after, two of his gunners, and then opened rapid fire on the remainder, which must have dispersed them as that gun never came into action, at least not from that position or anywhere near it.

With regard to the bushes, I let a dozen Turks or so bunch together behind them before pouring in the contents of my magazine, or sometimes two; this had the effect of making a few men bolt in all directions to get clear of such false cover, but how many I hit in this way it would be impossible to say, and not one could be fairly included in the ‘bag.’

At the end of the six hours this had amounted to 47, not including the German officer – a fair day’s work, though very trifling, of course, in comparison with the wholesale slaughter effected by our guns and machine-guns whose handiwork would beggar description, for the Turkish dead must have amounted to thousands.”

 

August 20th 1915

Basil Parker 2

 Captain Basil Parker (Hampshire Regiment)

We have received the following account of events surrounding the death of Basil Parker at Krithia:

“Exactly at 4 p.m. Captain Parker, who was in command, called out, ‘Time’s up, my lads,’ and those in the first trench immediately leapt out, those in the second at once taking their places and leaping out a minute later, and those in the third line doing the same. All were well up in a good deal less than 5 minutes, and with a cheer they rushed forward.

It was a glorious charge and everyone showed splendid courage. The Turks were startled, and took a minute or two – not much more – to get their machine guns (of which they had one for about every 5 yards, and which during the bombardment they had hidden in the trenches) into position, so that our men got some way across the open space. Apparently, however, none reached the Turkish trench. All were mown down.

Of the second line, a few got across. Of the third line which had fewer men, more than half got through, and those who were left of the battalion held the trench until they were relieved by the Royal Scots and Royal Fusiliers. A private said positively that the Turks were driven from their front trench which remained in our hands, as perhaps did some others.

The open ground was so heavily swept by gun fire that it was impossible to bring in the wounded or the dead, even at night. Some may have crawled in, but the severely wounded must have died. As none could be recovered and identified, they were posted as missing.

In the evening of the 6th only 250 out of 900 of the Hants answered to their names.”

The 2nd Hants SurvivorsWhat was left of the 2nd Hants  being congratulated by the G.O.C. Division.

August 17th 1915

Basil Parker

Captain Basil Parker (Hampshire Regiment)

From Gallipoli comes the news (published in the Times yesterday) of the death of the 9th of our Old Boys to die in this War.

Basil left the OPS in 1889 and I remember him as a rather shy, diffident dayboy, who “found himself” later on. After attending Bedford Grammar School, on the outbreak of the Boer War, he joined the Imperial Yeomanry, Paget’s Horse, 52nd Company. Basil transferred to the Hampshires in 1901, receiving a commission.

Earlier this year the 2nd Hants. were sent out to Gallipoli, where he was wounded in May.  He made a swift recovery and returned to his unit.

In order to assist the opening up of a third bridgehead at Suvla Bay, north of the Anzac position, there were diversionary attacks both on the Anzac and Cape Helles fronts and Basil Parker was involved in the Charge of the 2nd Hants at Krithia on August 6th 1915.

“He was hit by a bullet in the left side; the bullet coming out near the left breast was deflected by his cigarette case and again entered the body and came out at his right side. He died four minutes afterwards with his head resting on the leg of a lieutenant. He was brought back to the dressing station and buried at 7.10 a.m. on the following morning about 50 yards behind the firing line.”

Basil leaves his wife Kathleen and a son, Gerald Stewart Parker, born last year in Indore, Central India.

 

August 13th 1915

We have another letter from Leslie Eastwood, written from the 17th General Hospital in Alexandria, to which he has been transferred following the wounds he suffered in the Gallipoli campaign.

Leslie Eastwood

2nd Lieut. Leslie Eastwood

“I don’t think I have yet given you any detailed account of how I was wounded. We had just come out of a long communication trench to the firing line on our way to camp for the night; we were marching by small parties. I was at the end of my platoon. For some reason we were held up and I went forward to see the cause of the delay. I had just stopped under a tree to speak to two officers, when shrapnel burst and picked me off in the leg and arm; it felt just as if I had been hit by a mighty blow with a sledge hammer.

I was taken to the clearing hospital where I was very uncomfortable for 16 hours, having nothing to lie on but a stretcher; then I was taken on board a hospital ship where I remained 10 days. I was operated on and the bullet taken out of my leg; chloroform is not at all bad, not so bad as gas. I arrived here two days ago and am very comfortable. 

How long I shall be a cripple I don’t know; the Doctor on the ship said my knee is damaged; the Doctor here does not think so, so I don’t know how long it will take. There is no chance of my getting home, as they only send cases that take over three months to cure.”

August 9th 1915

Leslie Eastwood was one of the first members of the OPS staff to leave us for service in the Army. Now a 2nd Lieutenant with the King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, he has been serving in Gallipoli.

We have just received a letter from him, informing us he has been wounded:

Leslie Eastwood

2nd Lieut. Leslie Eastwood

2/8/15. “I hope you will get this letter before you hear from any other source that I am wounded. I have two wounds, one in the arm, quite slight, and one in the leg which may, perhaps, have done some damage to the knee. The bullet is still in and the Doctor has not yet made a thorough examination; it gives me practically no pain now and I don’t think it can be at all bad. I am on a new Hospital Ship which had just come out here.”

It is good of him to write to us so promptly and we all hope that he will make a speedy recovery.

June 10th 1915

Whilst many Old Dragons have been enduring the terrors of the trench warfare in France and Belgium, Lieut. Pat Duff, serving with the RFA in the Gallipoli campaign, has found some time for recreation and the occasional acquisition of luxuries; but even then there are reminders that the war is not far away.

Gallipoli Peninsula

The Gallipoli Peninsula

22/5/15 “I went and bathed on a beach facing Imbros and Samothrace, in beautiful clear water. On the cliff-edges were little wooden crosses signifying where men of the landing party had fallen at the first assault. It seems a funny thing to be bathing and enjoying oneself in the midst of all this, but one just takes things as they come and when one can enjoy oneself, one does.

27/5/15. I am with the Battery and living in the Eagle’s Nest, as we call it; incidentally not a bad name, as I saw a Sikh a bit further up the ravine feeding a young eagle, which he must have found here. The Sikhs are good to see in the mornings combing their long black hair; in this setting it puts one in mind of the Spartans before Thermopulae.

Had rather fun the other day; I had gone down to the beach and saw that the ship I came from Alexandria in was here. I managed to get on board and secure a bottle of fizz and a bottle of whisky.. Fizz was Heidsieck, and only 6/- a bottle because duty-free – you can have best brands of fizz at that price. Seemed funny to have it out here.

2/6/15. I had some plum pudding the other day which G’s people had sent; also the waiter at Buol’s had sent him a slab of turtle soup. This slab was watered down to make soup for all of us, and consequently tasted as if it was water that a turtle had had a bath in.

6/6/15. We have some long days now and again, getting up at 4 a.m. and going to bed about 1 a.m. occasionally; but sleeping practically out of doors makes what sleep one has go further…

The time one feels it most is about 2 p.m., when there is no shade of any kind; in the trenches the sun simply beats down on one and one’s clothes get full of sand; I got covered with sand and earth yesterday by a shell and it got all inside my riding breeches, annoying me very much.

The great comfort is having the sea so handy; by means of the communication trench we can go from the guns to the edge of a cliff and so down to the great and wide sea also without showing ourselves on the sky-line.”

 

May 27th 1915

Attempts to break through at Gallipoli continue, where Pat Duff is currently with the RFA. Part of his job is to join the infantry in their trenches to identify suitable targets for the artillery. This, strangely, includes the Turks’ tea-time.

22/5/15. “I was in the observing station yesterday evening with G. We peered through our glasses for ages and could see nothing, until at last little puffs of smoke came out of one of the Turkish trenches, signifying that the Ottoman was making his tea.

This was more than we could stand, so we telephoned down to the Battery, ‘Action,’ and gave various angles and elevations with the result that the Turkish trench was heavily shelled, causing, as we hoped, AAD (which being interpreted means ‘Alarm And Despondency.’)

It is rumoured that the above condition prevails in the English Press regarding this expedition; not surprised.”

May 18th 1915

Pat Duff (another of our 1911 Oxford Hockey Blues – see May 4th picture) is now a 2nd Lieutenant in the RFA with our forces in Gallipoli. He has some amusing stories to tell about our French allies.

9/5/15 “There have been some strenuous night attacks, and stray people dashing into one’s lines at night give alarming views of what is going on. The Frenchman gets rattled at times. One dashed into my lines two nights ago (being nearly shot by my guard).

I shouted ‘Francais, venez ici.’ He was a little man with a huge rifle and bayonet, and looked as if he were supporting a lamp-post. I asked what was happening, and where were his comrades.

He gesticulated and danced about saying ‘on crie, sauve qui peut. Rien ne va plus; les Turcs do this, that, and the other and I am a most miserable soldier.’

So I replied, ‘Courage, comrade; revanche, Marseillaise, Paris attaque, grande attaque.’

Upon which he took heart and returned whence he came, leaving me, however, a bit disconcerted, as that was the only news of the situation I had, and the shrapnel was very frequent and rifle fire seemed to be getting nearer. However, Frenchmen always get hold of the wrong end of the stick, so I decided to wait for confirmation, which of course didn’t come…

Great fun talking to the French tommies, and hearing how as the Corporal was about to bayonet a Turk, another Turk was just about to knife the Corporal when Alphonse and Pierre appeared behind the last-named Turk. As they go to kill him, a sniper appears in the rear.

‘But I am here, and tire mon fusil and lui make brûler la tête, which flees into two piece’ – whereat he waves his arms like a windmill.

15/5/15. There was rather fun the other day, though I didn’t see it. A hare got up and all the English, of course, leapt to their feet with fearful yells. Presently a French General came to complain of this behaviour: ‘à la guerre, comme à la guerre, et à la chasse come à la chasse!’  He explained that his enfants think it is the Turks who arrive when they hear the row. 

I must honestly say that I think this is going to be a long affair, but I hope to return some day.”