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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Valleys of Torment

The Valleys of Torment.

During the nights of August 7, 8, 9, and 10, the wounded men of Anzac seemed to encompass the sum total of human suffering. Travelling light to avoid the heat of the day, a badly wounded man who could not walk had to lie out all through the long cold night. To men without blankets and tunics, and often without a shirt because of the noonday heat, those nights were excruciating cold. Those who could walk were in fairly good stead. They could reach page 242
Black and white photograph.

[Photo by Capt. Boxer, N.Z.M.C.
A Trawler Alongside A Hospital Ship.
Under the big Union Jack are six bodies; and one under the small flag. The trawler made a trip every morning out to the three mile limit, where a solemn burial service was held—the only mourners being the padre and the seven men of the trawler.

page 243 the dressing stations near the beach, and get near the piers when the Red Cross barge came alongside. So it happened that the least wounded were always ready to be evacuated; the others had to lie in those stricken gullies until the few overworked stretcher-bearers could carry them down. The lack of facilities for evacuating wounded was as pronounced as at the landing. Of course, in war it must always happen that during big battles things will go wrong. That seems unavoidable, and conditions generally adjust themselves after a few days. But to get a parallel to the sufferings at Anzac one must go back to the days of the Crimea.
The Sazli Beit Dere and the Chailak Dere were crowded with walking cases; those who could not walk, waited in vain for stretcher-bearers, then born of desperation, crawled, crept,
Black and white photograph.

In Egypt: The Red Cross Cars and the Red Crescent Train.
The Christian Cross and the Mahommedan Crescent—for perhaps the first time in history—working together in the interests of humanity.

and rolled down the slopes into the gullies. Here there was a certain amount of protection against Turkish fire. Ghurkas, New Army men, and New Zealanders painfully crept towards the low ground. Perhaps the gully would lead too far away from the direction of No. 2 Post; men at the last stages of exhaustion would give up here and wait for the stretcher-bearers who could not come, for they were overwhelmed with cases nearer home. Medical officers, padres, dentists and stretcher-bearers toiled against one of the most heartbreaking experiences of the war. Up in these gullies of torment men died by the hundred—died of thirst, of awful bomb wounds and of exposure.

Down near No. 2 Post was an awful sight—a thousand wounded men lying in rows and in heaps. Crash would page 244 come a Turkish shell and the already wounded would be wounded once again. Mule trains moving up and down to the Big Sap raised great clouds of fine dust that settled on everything, increasing the discomfort already caused by wounds, fever, flies and the alternating heat and cold.

Barges full of mules would pull in to be disembarked. The stretcher bearers would help with the unloading, and without any cleaning, for there was no time to worry about the niceties, the serious cases would be placed on the bottom of the barge and towed out to the hospital ship or carrier.

When a string of Red Cross barges would come in, the walking cases would naturally crowd up to the pier in anticipation of getting off; there was a tendency to leave the helpless man on the beach, but the medical officers and orderlies watched as well as they were able, and sent the serious cases to the hospital ships as soon as possible, the less serious ones going to Lemnos by the hospital carrier.

It is difficult to conceive what clean sheets, soft food, the sight of the army nurses, and the sound of their English voices, meant to the tired men of Anzac. Worn to shadows by hardships and suffering, these men could not understand the present situation. For if their experiences had been awful, they expected little else. As pioneers in a desperate enterprise they knew the path would not be strewn with ease and comfort, but rather with danger and pain—and their expectations were realized at Anzac; but here on the hospital ships where there were warm baths, clean underclothing, and the tender ministrations of the army nurses, the suffering New Zealander was literally overwhelmed with his good fortune.