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The Wellington Regiment (NZEF) 1914 - 1919

Chapter IX

page 78

Chapter IX.

Rhododendron Spur—Cheshire Ridge.

Into the welter of the 8th August, the 5th Reinforcements had been plunged. Not many of them survived. The Regiment was but a shattered remnant now as it bivouacked on the side of Cheshire Ridge. Including the additions from the 5th Reinforcements, West Coast Company numbered only 51 instead of its full strength of 227. Other companies were in similar plight.

Water was very scarce and the daily ration was one quart. If we drank it, we could not wash; but we were not fussy about our personal appearance these days. Nearly everyone had grown a beard. There were no company cooks and everyone had to do his own cooking. At dusk, we would go into the partly formed trenches on Chesire Ridge and remain there until daylight. We had not only to be on the alert for an attack from the Turks but to widen and deepen the trench at the same time. The days in the trenches were hellish. The heat of the sun was terrific. Diarrhoea and dysentry were rampant. Flies were a torment. Splendid fellows of a few months ago were little more than scare-crows. We were but hanging on now. There were spells in the front line at Rhododendron Spur or at the Apex varied with days in reserve in Rhododendron Gully. It was all deadly monotonous. Everyone now had dysentry and was fast reaching the limit of physical endurance. They were indeed grim days.

There comes an end to all things. The long wished for spell had come at last. On the 14th September, the remnants of the New Zealand infantry Brigade staggered down to Anzac Cove. The distance actually was probably not more page 79than a mile; but, with full packs up, in our weakened condition it seemed a terribly long way to the beach. Barges were waiting there to take us out to the "Osmanieh," which was boarded about midnight. No accommodation was provided for us on this vessel and we spent the night, which was very wet, lying on the iron decks with no shelter from the weather. On the following morning we sailed for Lemnos, and, on arrival there, went into rump al Mudros West after another trying march, Which may not have been half as long as it seemed. We probably cut off more than a mile by wading across an arm of the harbour. If we had not been able to take this short cut, few would have had the strength to reach the Camp site that night, as we could hardly drag ourselves along. There were many halts. After resting for a while, it was difficult for men to regain their feet and many fellows were too weak to do so and spent the night by the wayside.