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their bayonets gleaming in the sunlight; down on my left, across the gully and some 80 yards away was the trench we had withdrawn to the day previous.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.”

 

April 24th 1915

Ronnie Poulton has completed his recent spell in the front line and we can share another entry from his journal.

During this past tour of duty Ronnie was in charge of all repairs and improvements to the section of trenches for which his company was responsible. Platoon Commanders had to report to him by 3 p.m. daily with their suggestions. His day was then spent planning the next night’s work.

RWPP profileWednesday 21st April: “The work is the most important thing, as I am in charge of it, and my time is filled up with it – by day getting the work organised for the night. This has got better and better, and now I have a good system. Of course it is nearly all done at night. It is curious, at ‘stand to’, at about 8 p.m. to hear the sniping dying down, and then suddenly the ‘tap tap’ of the German party starting. Then we know we are safe, as there is a kind of mutual agreement not to fire on each other’s working and ration parties. So out we go and hardly a shot is fired.

The men betray the usual good humour at it all and are in perfect spirits, only betraying annoyance at the absence of biscuits, and the presence of biscuits (not Huntley and Palmers’!)

They have grown quite callous and you hear them whistling and shouting while working on the parapet, in the full moonlight. We did a good deal of work in our four days. My plan was to superintend till 12.00 or 12.30, then at times I was on duty at 4.00 a.m. or 8.00 a.m., so sleep was a bit short at the end. The sniper was active and we haven’t got him yet…”

There is a continual risk of being hit by a sniper’s bullet and much time and effort goes into trying to locate the position of German snipers.

“Sniping is all that goes on and in this at present they have an absolute superiority. We have constructed steel-plate loopholes but cannot find the brutes. When we do, we shall have them, as we have some wonderful shots. They got one of our men in the throat last night, but it is not a bad wound. The trouble is to locate the snipers. We reconnoitred to where we thought he was last night, but he wasn’t there…”

We trust that Ronnie will keep his head down.