The New Zealanders at Gallipoli
The Germans selecting their time for opening the World War, it was not surprising that Britain was sadly handicapped as regards munitions and material generally. As yet the organization by the Ministry of Munitions was a thing undreamt of, and seeing that the Gallipoli campaign was considered a subsidiary one, and that all supplies available were not sufficient for the needs of the army in France, was it surprising that comparatively little attention was given to our operations in what was assumed to be a minor theatre of war?
[Lent by Sergt. P. Tite, N.Z.E.
The A.S.C. Depot in Monash Gully.
Academic inquiry into our unpreparedness and the causes of the shortage of supplies was of little value to the soldiers trying to defeat the enemy. The men of Anzac had often to procure their stores in a manner not strictly orthodox.
The principal requirements of the army at Anzac were food and water to sustain life; ammunition—big-gun, field-gun, small-arm, and hand-grenades; while to provide some measure of shelter from the adversary and from the weather, timber and sandbags became primal necessaries. There was no hinterland from which these supplies could be drawn. Mudros, the nearest safe anchorage, was fifty miles away; Alexandria, the chief port from which most supplies must come, was distant over 500 miles. The area occupied by the troops produced no food, no timber, and only a very little hardly-won water. Few have any conception of the difficulties that had to be overcome.
The difficulties were chiefly the scarcity of essential articles, but a further obstacle was the matter of transport. It was comparatively easy to get goods as far as Alexandria, to which, situated as it is on the ocean highway to the East, the largest ships brought produce from the ends of the earth. The next stage, to Lemnos, was off the beaten track, and smaller vessels were employed. At Mudros, the goods were transhipped to vessels that again had shrunk in size and were fewer in number. Here the greatest difficulty of all arose, for ships could not come within a mile of the shore. The enemy big guns ranged well out to sea, and at the Anzac piers, nothing as large as even a trawler could lie owing to the shallowness of water. The stores that had started from England or New Zealand in ocean liners, continued their long journey in trawlers manned by hardy North Sea fisherfolk; and made the final stage of all in barges towed by five small picket boats from the ships of His Majesty's Navy.page 154
[Photo by the Author
Drawing the Water Ration at Mule Gully.
This was the principal supply for the Units on Walker's Ridge and Russell's Top. In the picture are Maori and Pakeha New Zealanders, Australianas, Englishmen, and Indians.
Think of it, those five small steam boats, officered by fifteen-year-old boys and manned by half a dozen gallant sailormen, were the slender link connecting the army ashore with the world overseas. All through those strenuous months, during fair weather and foul, splashed with the spindrift of the Ægean gales, drenched with the spray from the hissing shells, the daring crews of those stout trawlers and trim picket boats, from the first tow of the landing to the last of the evacuation, made Anzac possible.