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

"'Eaps of Earf."

page 2

"'Eaps of Earf."

We had watered our camels down at the Wady, right alongside mysterious old, cone-shaped Tel el Jemmi; barracked them for the one hour's rest and spell laid down in Brigade orders X.Z. 241 A.; "To allow for the proper assimilation of water"...... and then had curled up amongst them to make the best of a bad job. My mate (late of the London Roughs, ex Covent Garden Market, and now a good man with camels), always wide-awake to possible piastres, is sizing up the scenery. I am drowsy after the long, hot ride, but try to give him my attention.

"Get yer eye full of all 'vese 'ere 'eaps of earf rhand old 'Jimmy'. Ever spotted 'em? Wot I s'y is, 'corse I dont s'y for cert'in, these 'eaps is the grives of some of them old Crusyders they talks abaht............." My mate's voice tails off into space.

I struggle to follow him, and endeavour to concentrate my gaze on Tel el Jemmi—''Jimmy" of affectionate memory. But........ surely there's something different about old "Jimmy". His sides are smoother and more free from grass, and his slopes more mathemactically true than formerly. That wooded structure with the cross slits is also new, and surely that flag drooping on a staff at its summit is not the Red Cross, though like enough to it. Nor does it end at this. The tents on both sides of the Wady alter in shape, and instead of the everyday limbers and transport and ambulance wagons, I can now see nothing but tents, horses and a few camels. Even the men at work on the mound seem to change in appearence. Several men pass close to us, and I notice their dress is that of a long dead age. I drink in the whole scene in sheer amazement.

Some distance west of the camp there is a squad of men with bows, shooting at a target. Patrolling round the camp, I notice a company of mounted men, and, as they approach, I observe their leader's equipment: the round cylindrical helmet with the plume over its fiat top, the once gorgeous surtout showing indecipherable traces of embroidered arms, the steel breastplate over the linked mail collar and shirt, the plaited gauntlets and shoes, heavy triangular shield, the cross-handled double-edged sword, and the plaited armour on his horse's head, breast and loins. All serve to tell me that I am dreaming, and yet I know that I am fully concious.

Suddenly, from the top of the mound sounds a trumpeted alarm, and at once men come tumbling out of the tents hastily donning gear, and from end to end of the camp come shouts of "Bows and bills! Bows and bills! The Turk! The Turk!", and then within a minute, from out of the slight haze lying to the north and west, comes, slowly at first and then at headlong pace, a crescent-shaped line of mounted Saracens. And to meet them there are only the patrol company and the drill squad of bowmen. Without a moment's hesitation, the plumed leader of the mounted company charges, with chivalrous self-sacrifice, for the thickest and middle part of the oncoming line, and he and his men meet the Turks with a crash while they are still half a mile from the camp. There is a fierce swirl and distant shouts reach our ears. A momentary pause in the advance, and then the line comes on once more, leaving a mass of dead and dying behind. Few of the little company have won through, though plenty of riderless horses are galloping away behind the advancing line.

But this act of devotion has saved the camp, as, now, there is another hastily mounted troop preparing to attack the Southern horn of the crescent, and several squads of bowmen are formed up awaiting the attack, on the centre and the right. Also, the left of the cresent, now within four hundred yards of the camp, has passed, in its stride, an apparently deserted wooden fortress. Apparently deserted..........but now, from its entrance pours a mass of bowmen, and I surmise they have got to the rear of the crescent by a sub-way from the mound. At any rate, this move is proving the winning factor, as, before the shock comes, one can see a decided thinning out amongst the Saracen horsemen, and their line loses its regular appearance, both in speed and strength. Indecision takes the place of the almost irresistable dash they started with, and the line can now be dealt with by the bill and bowmen on more even terms. Their saddles empty fast and hesitation is already, in the centre and on the right of the crescent, turning to rout. Only one force, a strong party from their left, is still maintaining a semblance of formation, and this company is heading swiftly towards the camp with the object of destroying it and its scattered helpless occupants. But, just before they reach it, they come within the range of the cross-bows on the summit and few of them reach their objective. And now there is cheering all
A Palestine Pool.

A Palestine Pool.

down the line, and very soon none but dead or wounded Turks are left.

Close to me I notice the plumed knight, who had so gallantly lead the first attack, being relieved of his arm our. He staggers away towards the Wady to quench his thirst and bathe his wounds. He passes a huge Turk lying wounded on the track. The fellow rises to his knee and strings an arrow to his bow. I shout to warn the knight, but my warning comes too late and the arrow drives deep into his shoulder. The force of the blow sends him reeling towards me, and I try to rise to save his fall. Before I can do so, he sinks down with his arms strecthed out across me. He clutches me, struggling to rise to his knees and...............

My mate (formerly of the London Roughs, and now a good man with camels) is saying: "'Ere Jim, yer ain't asleep, are yer? Blimey! d'yer think I'm talkin' ter me self or wot? Wot I s'y is, nex' time I comes dahn 'ere I'm goin' ter do the tunnel-corps act, wiv a spide, on one of vese 'ere 'eaps of earf, jes ter see wevver 'vese 'ere old Crusyder coves useter be planted wiv their p'y in their tin pockits. A bloke u'd be real stiff if he didn't get a few akkers aht of it.!"