"Trenching at Gallipoli'
in the Land of the Turks
told by John Gallishaw
Member of the First Newfoundland Regiment


Adventures of a Newfoundlander

in the trenches at Gallipoli - from 'the Illustrated War News'


This is the personal narrative of a loyal Newfoundlander soldiering in the disastrous Dardanelles campaign. This is an adventurous story stranger than fiction; as well as a reliable account by an unusually keen participant of the gigantic failure at Gallipoli. Mr. Gallishaw was a student at Harvard when the War began and he gives an extraordinarily vivid impression of trench fighting and trench living. He tells how seven weeks after the outbreak of the War, the Newfoundlanders joined the flotilla containing the first contingent of Canadians. He was on garrison duty for a time at Edinburg Castle in Scotland and then sent to Egypt.


going on leave at Gallipoli - from 'the Illustrated War News'


"I — Story of a Harvard Student in Turkey

THE afternoon sun poured down steadily on little groups of men preparing dugouts for habitation (at Gallipoli). I had a good many details to attend to before I could look about for a suitable place for a dugout. Men had to be told off for different fatigues. Men for pick and shovel work that night were placed in sections so that each group would get as much sleep as possible. AH the available dugouts had been taken up by the first comers.

After much hunting, I found a likely looking place. It was about seven feet square, and where I planned to put the head of my dugout a large boulder squatted. It was so eminently suitable that I wondered that no one else had preempted it. I took off my equipment, threw my coat on the ground, and began digging. It was soft ground and gave easily.

A short distance away, I could see Art Pratt, digging. He was finding it hard work to make any impression. He saw me, stopped to mop his brow, and grinned cheerfully.

"You should take soft ground like this, Art," I yelled.

"I've gone so far now," said Art, "that it's too late to change," and we resumed our work.

After a few more minutes' digging, my pick struck something that felt like the root of a tree, but I knew there was no tree on that God-forsaken spot large enough to send out big roots. I disentangled the pick and dug a little more, only to find the same obstruction. I took my small intrenching tool, scraped away the dirt I had dug, and began cleaning away near the base of a big boulder. There were no roots there, and gradually I worked away from it. I took my pick again, and at the first blow it stuck. Without trying to disengage it I began straining at it. In a few seconds it began to give, and I withdrew it. Clinging to it was a part of a Turkish uniform, from which dangled and rattled the dried-up bones of a skeleton. Nauseated, I hurriedly filled in the place, and threw myself on the ground, physically sick. While I was lying there one of our men came along, searching for a place to bestow himself. He gazed inquiringly at the ground I had just filled in.

"Is there anybody here?" he asked me, indicating the place with a pick-ax.

"Yes," I said, with feeling, "there is."

"It looks to me," he said, "as if some one began digging and then found a better place. If he don't come back soon I'll take it."

For about fifteen minutes he stood there, and I lay regarding him silently. At last he spoke again.

"I think I'll go ahead," he said. "Possession is nine points of the law, and the fellow hasn't been here to claim it."

"I wouldn't if I were you," I said. "That fellow's been there a hell of a long while."

I left him there digging, and crawled away to a safe distance. In a few minutes he passed me.

"Why didn't you tell me ?" he demanded, reproachfully.

"Because half of the company saw me digging there and didn't tell me," I said.

I was prospecting around for another place when Art Pratt hailed me. "Why don't you come with me," he said, "instead of digging another place?"

I went to where he was and looked at the dugout. It wasn't very wide, and I said so. Together we began widening and deepening the dugout, until it was big enough for the two of us. It was grueling work, but by supper time it was done. The night before, a fatigue party had gone down to the beach and hauled up a big field kitchen. Our cooks had made some tea, and we had been issued some loaves of bread. Art unrolled a large piece of cloth with all the pomp and ceremony of a man unveiling a monument. He did it slowly and carefully. There was a glitter in his eyes that one associates with an artist exhibiting his masterpiece. He gave a triumphant switch to the last fold and held toward me a large piece of fresh juicy steak.

"Beefsteak!" I gasped. "Sacred beefsteak! Where did you get it?"

Art leaned toward me mysteriously. "Officers' mess," he whispered.

"I've got salt and pepper," I said, "but how are you going to cook it?"

"I don't know," said Art, "but I'm going up to the field kitchen; there's some condensed milk that I may be able to get hold of to spread on our bread."

in the trenches at Gallipoli - from 'the Illustrated War News'


II — Story of the Royal Engineers

While Art was gone, I strolled down the ravine a little way to where some of the Royal Engineers were quartered. The Royal Engineers are the men who are looked on in training as a noncombatant force, with safe jobs. In wartime they do no fighting, but their safe jobs consist of such harmless work as fixing up barbed wire in front of the parapet and setting mines under the enemy's trenches. For a rest they are allowed to conduct parties to listening posts and to give the lines for advance saps. Sometimes they make loopholes in the parapet, or bolster up some redoubt that is being shelled to pieces.

The Turks were sending over their compliments just as I came abreast of the Engineers' lines. One of the engineers was sifting some gravel when the first shell landed. He dropped the sieve, and turned a back somersault into some gorse- bushes just behind him. The sieve rolled down, swayed from side to side, and settled close to my head, in the depression where I was conscientiously emulating an ostrich. I gathered it to my bosom tenderly and began crawling away. From behind a boulder I heard the engineer bemoaning to an officer the loss of his sieve, and he described in detail how a huge shell had blown it out of his hands. Joyfully I returned to Art with my prize.

"What's that for?" said Art.

"Turn it upside down," I said, "and it's a steak broiler."

"Where did you get it ?" said Art.

I told him, and related how the engineer had explained. it to his officer.

Up at the field kitchen a group was standing around.

"What's the excitement?" I asked Art.

"Those fellows are a crowd of thieves," answered Art, virtuously. "They're looking about to see what they can steal. I was up there a few minutes ago and saw a can of condensed milk lying on the shaft of the field kitchen. They were watching me too closely to give me a chance, but you might be able to get away with it."

The two of us strolled up slowly to where Hebe Wheeler, the creative artist who did our cooking, was holding forth to a critical audience.

"It's all very well to talk about giving you things to eat, but I can't cook pancakes without baking powder. You can't get blood out of a turnip. I'd give you the stuff if I got it to cook, but I don't get it, do I, Corporal?" said Hebe, appealing to me.

I moved over and stood with my back to the shaft on which rested the tin of condensed milk.

"No, Hebe," I said, "you don't get the things; and when you do get them, this crowd steals them on you."

"By God," said Hebe, "that's got to be put a stop to. I'll report the next man I find stealing anything from the cookhouse."

I put my hand cautiously behind my back, until I felt my fingers close on the tin of milk. "You let me know, Hebe," I said, as I slipped the tin into the roomy pocket of my riding breeches, "and I'll make out a crime sheet against the first man whose name you give." I stayed about ten minutes longer talking to Hebe, and then returned to my dugout. Art had finished broiling the piece of steak, and we began our supper. I put my hand in my breeches' pocket to get the milk. Instead of grasping the tin, my fingers closed on a sticky, gluey mass. The tin had been opened when I took it and I had it in my pocket upside down. About half of it had oozed over my pocket. Art was just pouring the remainder on some bread when some one lifted the rubber sheet and stuck his head into our dugout. It was the enraged Hebe Wheeler. As soon as he had missed his precious milk he had made a thorough investigation of all the dugouts. He looked at Art accusingly.

"Come in, Hebe," I said pleasantly. "We don't see you very often."

Hebe paid no attention to my invitation, but glared -at Art.

"I've caught you with the goods on," he said. "Give me back that milk, or I'll report you to the platoon officer."

"You can report me to Lord Kitchener if you like," said Art, calmly, as he drained the can; "but this milk stays right here."

Hebe disappeared, breathing vengeance.


captured Turkish arms and ammunitions - from 'the Illustrated War News'


III — Story of a Night in the Dug-Outs

After supper that night a crowd sat around the dying embers of the fires. This was one of the first positions we had been in where there was cover sufficient to warrant fires being lighted. A mail had been distributed that day, and the men exchanged items of news and swapped gossip. There were men there from all parts of Newfoundland. They spoke in at least thirty different accents. ...

Sometimes a friend of the absent "Half" would tell of Half's exploit of stealing a trolley from the Reid Newfoundland Company and going twenty miles to see a girl. Sometimes the hero was a married man. Then it was opined that his conjugal relations were not happy, and the reason he enlisted was that "he had heard some-hing."

The lumbermen of Notre Dame Bay and Green Bay told fearsome and wondrous tales of driving and swamping, of teaming and landing, until one almost heard the blows of ax, the "gee" and "haw" of the teamsters, and smelt the pungent odor of new-cut pine. The Reid Newfoundland Railway, the single narrow gauge road that twists a picturesque trail across the Island, had given largely of its personnel toward the making of the regiment. Firemen and engineers, brakemen and conductors, talked reminiscently of forced runs to catch expresses with freight and accommodation trains. There is an interesting tale of two drivers who blew their whistles in the Morse code, and kept up communication with each other, until a girl learned the code and broke up the friendship. A steamship fireman contributed his quota with a story of laboring through mountainous seas against furious tides when the stokers' utmost efforts served only to keep steamers from losing way. By comparison with the homeland, Turkey suffered much; and the things they said about Gallipoli were lamentable. From the gloom on the other side of the fire a voice chanted softly, "It's a long, long way to Tipperary, It's a long way to go." Gradually all joined in. After Tipperary, came many marching songs. "Are we down-hearted? NO," with every one booming out the "No." "Boys in Khaki, Boys in Blue," and at last their own song; to the tune of "There is a tavern in the town."

And when those Newfoundlanders start to yell, start to yell, Oh, Kaiser Bill, you'll wish you were in hell, were in hell;

For they'll hang you high to your Potsdam palace wall, You're a damn poor Kaiser, after all.

The singing died down slowly. The talk turned to the trenches and the chances of victory, and by degrees to personal impressions.

"I'd like to know," said one chap, "why we all enlisted."

"When I enlisted," said a man with an accent reminiscent of the Placentia Bay, "I thought there'd be lots of fun, but with weather like this, and nothing fit to eat, there's not much poetry or romance in war any more."

"Right for you, my son," said another; "your King and Country need you, but the trouble is to make your King and Country feed you."

"Don't you wish you were in London now. Gal?" said one chap, turning to me. "You'd have a nice bed to sleep in, and could eat anywhere you liked."

"Well," I said, "enough people tried to persuade me to stop. One fellow told me that the more brains a man had, the farther away he was from the firing-line. He'd been to the front too. I think," I added, "that General Sherman had the right idea."

"I wish you fellows would shut up and go to sleep," said a querulous voice from a nearby dugout.

"You don't know what you're talking about, Gal; General Sherman was an optimist."

"It doesn't do any good to talk about it now," said Art Pratt, in a matter of fact voice. "Some of you enlisted so full of love of country that there was patriotism running down your chin, and some of you enlisted because you were disappointed in love, but the most of you enlisted for love of adventure, and you're getting it."

Again the querulous subterranean voice interrupted:

"Go to sleep, you fellows — there's none of you knows what you're talking about. There's only one reason any of us enlisted, and that's pure, low down, unmitigated ignorance." Amid general laughter the class in applied psychology broke up, and distributed themselves in their various dugouts.

Halfway down to my dugout, I was arrested by the sound of scuffling, much blowing and puffing, and finally the satisfied grunt that I knew proceeded from Hebe Wheeler.

"I've got a spy," he yelled. "Here's a bloody Turk."

"Turk nothing," said a disgusted voice. "Don't you know a man from your own company?"

Hebe relinquished his hold on his captive and subsided, grumbling. The other arose, shook himself, and went his way, voicing his opinion of people who built their dugouts flush with the ground.

"What do you think of the news from the Western front ?" said Art, when I located him.

"What is it?" I asked.

"The enemy are on the run at the Western front. The British have taken four lines of German trenches for a distance of over five miles in the vicinity of Loos. The bulletin board at Brigade headquarters says that they have captured several large guns, a number of machine guns, and seventeen thousand unwounded prisoners. If they can keep this up long enough for the Turks to realize that it is hopeless to expect any help from that quarter, Abdul Pasha will soon give in."


making hand-grenades - from 'the Illustrated War News'


IV — Story of the Bomb-Throwing Australians

We were talking about Abdul Pasha's surrendering , when we dropped off to sleep. We must have been asleep about two hours when the insistent, crackling sound of rapid fire, momentarily increasing in volume, brought us to our feet. Away up on the right, where the Australians were, the sky was a red glare from the flashing of many rifles. Against this, we could see the occasional flare of different coloured rockets that gave the warships their signals for shelling. Very soon one of our officers appeared.

"Stand to arms for the Newfoundlanders," he said. "What is it?" I asked.

"The Australians are advancing," he answered. "We'll go up as reinforcements if we're needed. Tell your men to put on their ammunition belts, and have their rifles ready. They needn't put on their packs; but keep them near them so that they can slip them on if we get the order to move away."

I went about among the men of my section, passing along the word. Everybody was tingling with excitement. Nobody knew just what was about to happen; but every one thought that whatever it was it would prove interesting. For about half an hour the rapid fire kept up, then by degrees died down.

"Did you see that last rocket ?" said a man near me;

"that means they've done it. A red rocket means that the navy is to fire, a green to continue firing, and a white one means that we've won."

In a few minutes Mr. Nunns walked toward us. "You can put your equipments off, and turn in again," he said, "nothing doing to-night."

"What is all the excitement?" I asked. "Oh, it's the Anzacs again," he said; "when they heard of the advance at Loos, they went over across, and surprised the Turks. They've taken two lines of trenches. They did it without any orders — just wanted to celebrate the good news."

I was awakened the next morning by the sound of a whizz-bang flying over our dugout. Johnny Turk was sending us his best respects. I shook Art, who was sleeping heavily.

"Get up, Art," I said. I might as well have spoken to a stone wall. I tried again. Putting my mouth to his ear, I shouted, "Stand to. Art. Stand to."

Art turned over, sleeping. "I'll stand three if you like, but don't disturb me," he muttered, and relapsed into coma.

In a few minutes, two or three more shells came along. They were well over the ridge behind us, but were landing almost in the midst of another line of dugouts. I stood gazing at them for a little while., A man passed me running badly. "Come on," he gasped, "and yell for the stretcher." I followed him without further question. "It's all right," he said, slowing up just before we came to the line of dugouts that had just been shelled. "They've got him all right." We continued toward a group that was crowded about a stretcher. A man was lying on it, with his head raised on a haversack. He rolled his eyes slowly and surveyed the group. "What the hell is the matter?" he said dazedly; then felt himself over gingerly for wounds. Apparently he could find none. "What hit me ?" he asked, appealing to a grinning Red Cross man.

"Nothing," said the other, "except about a ton of earth. It's a lucky thing some one saw you. That last shell buried you alive."

The whistle of a coming shell dispersed the grinning spectators. I went back to my dugout, and found Art busily toasting some bread over the sieve that I had commandeered the day before.

"What was the excitement?" he asked.

"Charlie Renouf," I said, "was buried alive."

"Heavens," said Art, "he's the postman; we can't afford to lose him. That reminds me that I've got to write some letters."

While we were writing, the orderly sergeant, that dread of loafers, who appoints all details for fatigue work, bore down upon our dugout. "Two men from you, Corporal Gallishaw," he said, "for bomb throwers. Give me their names as soon as you can. They're for practice this afternoon."

"One here, right away," said Art, "and put Lew O'Dea down for the other."

Lew O'Dea was a character. He was in the next dug-out to me. The first day on the Peninsula, his rifle had stuck full of sand, and some one had stolen his tin canteen for cooking food. He immediately formed himself into an anti-poverty society of one thereafter, and went around like a walking arsenal. I never saw him with fewer than three rifles, usually he carried half a dozen. He always kept two or three of them spotlessly clean; so that no matter when rifle inspection came, he always had at least one to show. He had been a little late in getting his rifle clean once and was determined not to be caught any more. His equipment always contained a varied assortment of canteens, seven or eight gas masks, and his dugout was luxurious with rubber sheets and blankets. "I inherited them," he always answered, whenever anybody questioned him about them. With ammunition for his several rifles, when he started for the trenches in full marching order, he carried a load that a mule need by no means have been ashamed of.

"Do you want to go on bomb throwing detail this afternoon?" I called to O'Dea across the top of the dug-out.

"Sure," he answered; "does a swim want to duck?"

"Fine," I said; "report here at two o'clock."

At two o'clock, accompanied by an officer and a sergeant, we went down the road a little way to where some Australians were conducting a class in bomb throwing. A brown-faced chap from Sydney showed me the difference between bombs that you explode by lighting a match, and bombs that are started by pulling out a plug, and the dinky little three-second "cricket balls" that explode by pressing a spring. I asked him about the attack the night before. He told me that they had been for some time waiting for a chance to make a local advance and that would capture an important redoubt in the Turkish line. Every night at exactly nine o'clock, the Navy had thrown a searchlight on the part of the line the Anzacs wanted to capture. For ten minutes they kept up heavy firing. Then, after a ten minutes' interval of darkness and suspended firing, they began a second illumination and bombardment, commencing always at twenty minutes past nine, and ending precisely at half past. After a little while, the enemy, knowing just the exact minute the bombardment was to begin, took the first beam of the searchlight as a hint to clear out. But the night before, a crowd of eager Australians had crept softly along in the shadow made doubly dark by the glare of the searchlight, the noise of their advance covered by the sound of the bombardment. As soon as the bombardment ceased and the searchlight's beam was succeeded by darkness, they poured into the Turkish position. They had taken the astonished Turks completely by surprise.

"We didn't expect to make the attack for another week," said the Australian; "but as soon as our boys heard that we were winning in France, they thought they'd better start something. There hasn't been any excitement over our way now for a long time," he said. "I'm about fed up on this waiting around the trenches." He fingered one of the little cricket-ball bombs caressingly. "Think of it," he said; "all you do is press that little spring, and three seconds after you're a casualty."

'"Pressing the little spring," said I, "is my idea of nothing to do, unless you're a particularly fast sprinter."

"By the Lord Harry, Newfoundland," said the Australian, with a peculiar, excited glint in his eye, "that's an inspiration."

"What's an inspiration?" I asked, in bewilderment.

The Australian stretched himself on the ground beside me, resting his chin in his cupped hands. "When I was in Sydney," he said slowly and thoughtfully, "I did a hundred yards in ten seconds easily. Now if I can get in a traverse that's only eight or nine yards long, and press the spring of one of those little cricket balls, I ought to be able to get out on the other side of the traverse before it explodes."

Art and Lew O'Dea passed along just then and I jumped up to go with them. "Don't forget to look for me if you're over around the Fifteenth Australians," said the Australian. "Ask for White George."

"I won't forget," I said, as I hurried away to join the others.

We were about half way to our dugouts when we passed a string of our men carrying about twenty mail bags. It was the second instalment of a lot of mail that had been landed the day before. We followed the sweating carriers up the road to the quarter-master sergeant's dugout, and waited around humbly while that autocrat leisurely sorted out the mail, making remarks about each letter and waiting after each remark for the applause he felt it deserved. With maddening deliberation he scanned each address. "Corporal W. P. Costello." "He's at the base," some one answered. Corporal Costello's letter was put aside. "Private George Butler." Private Butler, on the edge of the crowd, pushed and elbowed his way toward the quarter-master sergeant. "Here you are; letter for Butler."

I received one letter, and was sitting on the edge of my dugout reading it when one of our men passing along, yelled to me. "Hey," he said, "you come from the United States, don't you?"

"Yes," I said; "what do you want to know that for ?"

"I've got something here," he said, stopping, "that comes from there too." He dived into his pocket, and produced a medley of articles. From these he selected a small paper-wrapped parcel.

"What's that?" I said.

"It's chewing gum," he answered; "real American chewing gum like the girls chew in the subway in New York." He unwrapped it, selected a piece, placed it in his mouth, and began chewing it with elaborated enjoyment. After a few minutes, he came nearer. "By golly," he said, with an exaggerated nasal drawl, "it's good gum, I'll soon begin to feel like a blooming Yank. I'm talking like a Yank already. Don't you wish you hid some of this?"

"I'll make you a sporting offer," I answered. "I'll fight you for the rest of what you've got."

"No, you won't," he answered nasally; "it's made me feel exactly like a Yank; I'm too proud to fight."


in the trenches at Gallipoli - from 'the Illustrated War News'


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