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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Amenities of Anzac

The Amenities of Anzac.

The noise of battle frightened away all the little song birds that had so charmed us in the spring. But there was always something of interest. The common tortoise of Europe—with a hard shell about 12 inches long—loving a quiet place shaded from the sun, crept into our dugouts during the night, so that in addition to having nocturnal visitors who caused a certain amount of irritation and annoyance, we had these larger “Pilgrims of the Night” to create a little amusement, for there is something comical about these prehistoric, rubber-necked shell-backs. The fact that a tortoise is something like a turtle also appealed not a little to the company cook, who may be a lover of the antique, but not to such a degree that the tortoise might notice it! Out on the Suvla Flats, red foxes played in the sun with their cubs. On the prickly scrub, the little praying mantis held up her supplicating green hands and prayed as if we were all far past redemption.

During July the shelling seemed to increase in intensity. Perhaps it was that the Turk had more information about our dispositions and shifted his guns a little further round on the flanks to enfilade the beach. Dugouts that had previously been considered safe now had shrapnel coming in the front doors, which is disconcerting, to say the least of it. But the page 186 New Zealander, ever adaptable, drove his little dugout into the hillside at a safer angle and cheered the little trawlers as they slipped their anchors and zigzagged out of range. Early in the morning two big shells came over in pairs and dropped out to sea among the shipping. Rumour had it that they came from the “Goeben,” anchored in the Straits. They certainly caused magnificent twin geysers as they plopped into the Ægean, but never once did any damage materialize. Because of their early morning regularity these guns were
Black and white photograph of officers.

[Photo lent by the Otago Women's Association
Officers of the Otago Mounted Rifles.
The officer drinking from the mess tin is Lt.-Col. Grigor, D.S.O., who commanded “C” parties of the N.Z.M.R. Brigade at the evacuation. Behind him is Colonel Bauchop, C.M.G., the commander of the outposts.

christened “Christians Awake.” The shells really came from an old battleship, the “Hairredin Barbarossa,” anchored in the Narrows between Maidos and Chanak. She had three pairs of 11-in. guns, with which she carried out her early morning bombardments. Built by the Germans, she was sold to the Turks in 1910, and finally was submarined by a British submarine on August 8, the day the New Zealand Infantry Brigade dashed up to the crest of Chunuk Bair. The most deadly gun was one (or a battery of them) fired from the Olive Groves away inland from Gaba Tepe. As this gun enfiladed the beach, it became widely known as “Beachy Bill.” He it was who interfered mostly with the landing of stores, and worse still, the bathing. A long range gun firing from the other flank and emplaced in the “W” Hills, was page 187 known as “Anafarta Annie.” Not many of our guns had names, but the mounted regiments on Walker's Ridge appropriately dubbed an Indian mountain gun “Rumbling Rufus.”

During daylight the beach at Anzac Cove was practically deserted. “Beachy Bill” and his helpers attended to that. But when night came the hive buzzed and hummed. Picket boats brought in their barges, and the beach parties attacked the cargoes of stores and transferred them to the A.S.C. depots close at hand. Long convoys of pack mules and the little two-wheeled mule carts pulled in to the stores and the water-tanks, and started their adventurous journeys to the right and left flanks, and up the tortuous way to Monash Gully. The Turk had the range to a nicety, and knew quite well that if he dropped a few shells along the beach and on the communications some damage must be done. The marvel is he did not fire more. While the firing lasted the place was like Inferno, for in the darkness the shells could be seen red-hot overhead. The flash of the explosions would light up the busy scene—Indian drivers and their terrified mules inextricably mixed up with the piles of stores and water tins; mules braying and squealing, with the patient drivers striving to quieten them; the shells shrieking through the air; while the thunderous detonations punctuated the rhythmic lapping of the waves upon the beach, the moans of the wounded, and the insistent cries of “Stretcher bearer.”