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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

Mining at Quinn's Post

Mining at Quinn's Post.

Quinn's had a fatal fascination for the Turk. During May the enemy commenced mining in earnest, and this was a serious menace to the safety of the Anzac area. Successful underground operations by the enemy would mean that Quinn's might slide down into Monash Gully, so vigorous counter-mining was resorted to. Galleries were driven out under the front-line trenches; T-heads were put on to each gallery—these heads connected up made a continuous underground gallery right round the front of the post. Using this as a base, protective galleries were driven out in the direction of the advancing tunnels of the Turk. The object of this counter-mining was to get under or near the opponent's drives, and destroy them by means of small charges, calculated to break in their tunnels, but not to make a crater in No Man's Land above.

In those early days, sensitive listening appliances were not available. Underground it is very difficult to estimate the distance away of sounds recognized, for even old coal miners have little experience of parties working towards them. In constructing railway tunnels, the engineers working from both ends have the data referring to both drives. But in military mining the work of the enemy is shrouded in the “fog of war,” so mining under these conditions is a most exciting process. Having driven the estimated distance to meet the enemy, the question constantly arises, “Will it pay us now to fire a camouflet?” The knowledge that the enemy is very likely considering the same page 168
Black and white photograph.

[Lent by Sergt. P. Tite, N.Z.E.
In Monash Gully: The Headquarters of No. 3 Defence Section.

page 169 question adds a little to the tension. Then the listener reports that the enemy has ceased working. “Has he gone for his explosive, or is he only changing shift?” These and countless other speculations are constantly being made by the miner of either side. Each hesitates to fire his charge too early, as it may not achieve the maximum result. But if one waits too long the enemy will achieve that maximum! So both sides speculate until one makes a decision, which is announced to the opponents by a stunning explosion and a blinding crash if the effort is successful.

Twice Turkish tunnels had been detected nearing our lines. These were destroyed by small charges sufficient to break them down, for we could not afford to use a heavy charge, as it might threaten the stability of the hillside.