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The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918

Concerning Snipers

page 18

Concerning Snipers.

Snipers? Yes, I've met a few since I stepped into khaki. On the Peninsula we had on our side crack shots in Harry Marsh, Vernon Hopkins, Billy Sing, and others. Our chaps were not the only ones who could shoot, however. We couldn't teach "Jacko" much about the game. He put great faith in his snipers, and they were as plentiful as fleas in the dug-outs in Monash Gully.

Perhaps the best known sniper "Jacko" had was the chap who, in the early days of our occupation of Anzac, concealed himself in the crevice of a cliff below Walker's Ridge. This sharpshooter had a carrier pigeon service, and long after his death, the birds used to hover around the spot. He accounted for scores of our men before we discovered his whereabouts. Eventually, he exposed himself in a careless moment, and a New Zealand machine gunner riddled him with bullets.

The Turks were fortunate, in that they had the first pick of most of the best sniping positions; furthermore, it took us some time to get used to their devices. As most of us now know, they concealed themselves in clumps of bushes, and even painted their faces green; others donned waterproofs, and covered them with bushess

In a foolish moment, one morning, I volunteered for duty as a sniper. At this time, the Turks had a splendidly concealed post to the right of Lone Pine, and they were making things extra warm for the chaps who were camped at the foot of Quinn's and Pope's Posts. Our business was to establish a surprise sniping post near Shrapnel Gully. It was a great idea, for whenever the Turks fired along Monash Gully they exposed portion of their bodies to us, and we took full advantage of the fact. For a couple of days, it was great sport, and we bagged several of the enemy. One morning, we noticed that "Jacko" had been working overtime during the night. Around his sniping ''possy" he had placed several huge, white sandbags. These bags puzzled us for a while, but we still kept up a heavy fire on the Turks' position. We had been issued with iron shields to place in front of us, but these we did not use, as we were sure that "Jacko" could not locate us. We just rested our rifles on a sandbag, and blazed away.

About mid-day, we left our rifles on the sandbag ledge, and began to dine on the usual Fray Bentos and biscuits. Half way through our meal, there was a whistling sound, for all the world like a flock of birds in flight, and away went our sandbags and rifles. I threw myself down the hill, and my mate followed. When we pulled up, we were a sorry sight; our elothes were torn by brambles, and, coming in contact with stones, we had lost much valuable flesh. You see, those white sandbags had been erected so that "Jacko" could gauge the direction from which we were firing. He soon, noticed that the bullets which were puncturing his defence works were coming from the direction of the Beach. A pair of field glasses located us, and a couple of machine guns did the rest. I never went back for my rifle.

On a dark night, I was lying on the ground near "Hill 60", with my rifle pointed toward a gap in a barrier of bushes near a Turkish position. Every now and then, a Turk used to waltz past that gap, and I would pull the trigger. Dunno if I hit anybody. Reckon not, anyhow. Well, just about 2 o'clock in the morning, I decided to risk a journey to the Pearly Gates by having a smoke. You know the dodge we used to come at? Crouch up 'possum fashion, throw the overcoat over your head,-and puff away. More than one chap lost his life doing this stunt; but a man will risk anything for a smoke when doing such work. Just as I was about half way through with the cigarette, I nearly yelled, for a hand rested on my leg. Now, I was a long distance from my battalion mates, so I reckoned that the hand belonged to "Jacko." After what seemed a century of hours, I peeped from under the coat. Crouched beside me was a Ghurka. He told me afterwards that, crawling through the bushes, he had seen me, and thinking, that I was a Turk, he had decided upon a closer investigation. When he came to where I was lying, he noticed my hat, and, satisfied that I was a "white Ghurka", had decided to wait until I had finished my smoke.

Sniping is exciting work—my oath! it is—and a little of it goes a long way. In the long run it plays old Harry with the nerves, and, speaking personally, I'd rather be in the Camel Corps any time than be a member of an infantry battalion, sharp-shooting over the rugged face of Gallipoli.