The New Zealanders at Gallipoli
A and B Parties Leave
A and B Parties Leave.
Soon after dusk the men of the A parties at Anzac and Suvla said goodbye to their comrades of B and C, marched to their respective divisional rendezvous, and passed down the sandbag-muffled piers to the waiting “beetles.”
Early on that last night many were confident that the Turk was completely fooled. If he had wanted to attack he would have attacked before dark: if he attacked at dawn he would be too late. If he had known, as some clever people say, that we were leaving, would it not have been a page 289 “tremendous victory” if he had come boldly on and overwhelmed the “Diehards?” He certainly would have taken no prisoners—the men of Anzac would have attended to that. But the fact is: the Turk helped us at the evacuation in the same degree as he helped us at the landing!
B party commenced to leave at nine o'clock. It was very hard to go. What might happen to the waiting men of C? However, the barges were waiting and the timing could not be arranged otherwise. So, with a “Goodbye, boys! see you in Cairo!” on their lips, but with misgivings in their hearts, the second last parties left their posts and made for the rendezvous. By 11.25 all of A and B parties were safely embarked without a casualty.
Those left moved quickly from place to place, firing their rifles in order to preserve the “normality” of things. The old trench mortars coughed spasmodically, and the Turks returned the compliment. Away on Walker's Ridge several very heavy bursts of firing broke out. Men could not help questioning themselves. Was Quinn's Post holding out with so numerically weak a garrison? Quinn's that had cost so much to hold all those weary months. It was hard to give up Quinn's!
And Lone Pine! Where the glorious men of those veteran battalions made such a sacrifice for the sake of Anzac—and for the sake of Suvla. These last men, with their boots muffled in sandbags, crept back and meditated at Brown's Dip with its rows of silent eloquent graves. The dead men took Lone Pine from the Turks, the survivors held it against angry hordes, to-night the rearguard was to hand it quietly back!
The men of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade looked out towards The Farm and the fatal crest above it, and thought of those boys who in August went straight for the ridge of Chunuk and doggedly waited for the help from the left, the help that never came. Here the last New Zealanders stood fingering their trigger guards—holding the line at the Apex, only 2,000 yards from the sea. Eight months of incessant striving, a gain of 2,000 yards of bare clay hillside, a loss of so many valuable lives!page 290
And Hill 60! Where the New Zealand Mounted Rifles had refused to be worsted when others fell back! Hill 60! Now honeycombed with galleries hewn out with such an expenditure of blood and sweat. These men of the C parties could not help feeling that the dead deserved a better fate than this. Yet what could be done? No men could have achieved more. If the men of Anzac had failed, they certainly had been faithful failures.
No pains were spared to make everything appear normal. Some men went round lighting candles in the empty dugouts, others concocted placards to welcome the Turks. The soldiers bore no malice. “Goodbye Johnnie, see you soon in the Suez Canal;” and “Remember you didn't push us off, we simply went,” are typical. Others were more amusing if not quite so polite! Men wandered up and down firing occasional shots, and at 11.30 the message came round to the men in the line that everywhere the plans were working without a hitch and well up to time. In front of the Apex and near Hill 60 the Turks were putting out more wire in anticipation of the big attack on Christmas Day. They evidently interpreted the shipping off the coast as the prelude to a big attack.