Dear mother and father,
There were about 12000 troops from the australian and new zealand corps “ the Anzacs” that were preparing for the war at Gallipoli. Our plan was to land on Gallipoli Peninsula in turkey, drive the turkish enemy back, capture the peninsula, then team up with the british and french to take the capital Constanople. Nearly 200 vessels assembled in the largest invasion force i’ve ever seen. During our journey i knew we were doomed to failure! Turks saw us coming and were ready with their machine guns.
Not only that, We had landed on the wrong beach, not a large, flat beach but steep cliffs and rugged hills 1km and a half north from where we have meant to be landed, Gaba Tepe on the 25th of April. When getting toad ashore we had to jump into the freezing water that was up to our chests because the ships couldn’t get any further. Out of no where a hail of bullets from the turkish snipers came rushing down from the top of the cliffs causing many anzacs to drown trying to dodge the enemy bullets also being trodden on by other desperate soldiers. The living conditions was no luxury.
We had to dig, dig and dig for safety, dugouts were 3 feet deep and trenches were very crowded, we had no clean water for showers or washing clothes so we had to bath ourselves in the beach being very cautious with turks firing their guns. Throughout the many bloody battles during the gallipoli war, there were large amounts of men laying everywhere which made it difficult for us to sleep to due their dreadful stench. Food wasn’t that appetizing aswell. We got fed biscuits, cheese, half a pine of tea a day and petrol tins of water. No wonder we growled and used bad language.
As season’s changed, it grew colder and colder. The most coldest and terrifying winter we’ve ever experienced. Rain filled the trenches with water and mud, we were constantly standing in dirty muddy water. We hated the army for not supplying us with timber and iron for shelter and warm clothing. Many of my mates got frostbite and some lost their hands and feet, it was tormenting! In november horrifying storms lashed anzac cove bringing rain that washed their structures away, high seas that turned the dugouts into mud ponds and snow storms that made pools of water, masses of ice.
This fowl weather meant that supply boats couldn’t get to the landing pears also because many were broken. The main concerns there, were men who got dysentery, diarrhea and typhoid. This is caused by Lice, rats and flies who fed off dead bodies in ‘no man’s land’ and then crawled over us and our food. They were sent to the general hospital on Lemnos island where the austrlian army nursing sisters also known as their angels treated them but men continuously kept arriving that there were too many of them, either sick or wounded for them to handle.
In the month of June and onwards soldiers started to gain psychological and emotional problems. When they weren’t fighting men grew bored and had nothing to do besides dig. We got tired of serving the officers, digging secure dugouts and washing their shirts for them in a bucket of water while other men had unsafe dugouts and was short of drinking water. Some days there were continuous sounds of bombs exploding, machine guns firing in battles and in general, screams of dying and injured men moaning, yelling for help. It haunts me to this day.
Shellshock from bombs exploding close to you, made some left dazed, wandering like they were drunk or just sitting there lifeless. Seeing your best mate wounded or killed along side you was the worst thing to ever witness. Anzacs hated the british! Our boys were used as cannon fodder by the british. They were incompetent, constantly making mistakes costing all our lives. They were so arrogant that they would not admit Gallipoli was a mistake and then evacuate us. Compared to them our relationship between the turks were more understanding. Even though they were our enemy, we came to respect each other. alf the men who came on this voyage were volunteers, most had no experience of any kind yet still put their lives on risk for our country. They showed great courage, displayed a never say die attitude and mostly wanted to prove what aussies are made of. These anzacs risked their lives not only trying to save themselves but to save a fellow mate. I remember meeting one heroic man, John simpson and his donkey who risked his life everyday walking the donkey, picking up wounded soldiers and carrying them to the hospital tent. unfortunately during his travels he was fatally hit by a turkish shniper.
Towards december we started doubting that we would win the war, that if we decided to stay on the result would be a disaster. Major general brudenal white instructed various units to have everything packed and ready to move in 24 hours. With special precautions, the invention of the self-firing drip rifle, the use of props and attitude of the anzacs gave the illusion fighting would continue. Anzacs patiently awaited night to fall and when it had arrived soldiers crept out of their trenches and dugouts, headed for the beach sprinkling rice, flour and oatmeal along the path so that troops wouldn’t lose their way.
During evacuation there were 80,00 troops from anzac cove and sulva bay, 5,000 horses and mules, 2,000 vehicles, 200 guns and 0 casualties, Not a single soldier lost. Evacuation was considered the most successful component of the campaign. It seems sad to think we had to leave the place where we did such hard fighting, where we had left so many mates, but no doubt it was necessary. I place deep in my heart the 8,709 australians and 2,701 new zealanders who died fighting. I am very privileged to be one of the last ones standing to tell this story.