4th WORCESTERS LAND AT THE DARDANELLES
Miss E Sladden, of Badsey, has received a letter from Private George Crisp, of the 4th Worcesters, from a convalescent camp at Malta.
“I have just received the parcel sent by you for myself, Jeffries and Crane,” says Private Crisp. “ You will see by my address that I am now in camp, and am almost ready to return to Gallipoli. I must thank you for the contents of my parcel, which were well chosen. When I left St George’s Hospital I only had one shirt, one pair of socks and a towel, so you see the contents of the parcel were just as useful here as at the Dardenelles. No doubt I will get a full kit, when I return to the firing line. Of course, the English papers have given you some idea of what the landing of the 29th Division and Australians and New Zealand troops was like. Now I will try and give you my own experiences. The platoon, Jeffries and myself were landed in a different place to the rest of the Battalian. We landed at the village of Seddul Bahr, from the now famous ‘River Clyde’. The 4th Worcesters left Leamington on March 19th embarking on the transport Aragon at Avonmouth Docks, Bristol. We set sail on the 21st. Our first stopping place was Malta, which we reached on March 28th; here we stayed for one day, coaled, and then set sail for Alexandria. This town was reached on Good Friday. The ‘Aragon’ was anchored in the harbour here till April 6th, when we were towed into dock. Then we disembarked and marched to camp, which was situated just outside Alexandria. Here we stayed for one day, but on April 8th we left the camp and once more boarded the ‘Aragon’. We left Alexandria three days later. Our next stopping place was the Isle of Lemnos, till the 24th. During our stay a party of the Battalian was shown over the ‘Queen Elizabeth’. I had the luck to be one of that party. The harbour was crowded with English and French warships and transports. There was also one Russian cruiser called by the “Tommies” the “Packet of Woodbines,” because of her tall thin funnels. Just before we left Lemnos, we were all prepared for the landing. Each man carried 250 rounds of ammunition and three days’ rations. On April 24th we left Lemnos, and the next morning, the 25th we arrived at the Dardanelles.
UNDER HEAVY FIRE
“Dawn was just breaking, and we could see the fleet bombarding the Turkish forts and positions. The noise was deafening. The Turks were replying, and now and then a shell would screech over our boat; most of the shells, were badly aimed, or failed to explode. At five o’clock we loaded our rifles and got ready to land. A mine-sweeper came alongside, and “W” Company got on this boat. The mine-sweeper took us close to the shore, and there we could see the Fusilier Brigade had landed. The Fusilier Brigade consisted of the Lancashire Fusiliers, Royal Fusiliers, Dublin Fusiliers and Munster Fusiliers. The landed troops, however, could not hold there own, so our brigade was despatched to assist them. My platoon got into the small boats, which were towed by steam pinnaces. When we got near the shore, a signaller of the Dublins sent a message to us saying the enemy fire was too hot for us to attempt to land, and that we hjad better go alongside the grounded ‘River Clyde’. This we did, and while scrambling on her four of our platoon were wounded. The ‘River Clyde’, a collier, had been packed full of troops, and had been run a ground near the village of Seddul Bahr. Along her side a gangway was made, but the space between her and the shore was too great for the troops to land. To fill up this space a steam hopper and two lighters were placed, tied firmly together, and with planks running from one boat to the other. All this was accomplished under heavy fire from the enemy by navy men, and a good many of them lost their lives. Then the troops began to land. We saw a party of “Dubs,” rush along the gangway, attempting to reach the shore. Many were killed, others wounded; these latter falling into the water were drowned. Only about half a dozen got ashore safely. The RAMC were doing their work bravely, bringing in the wounded from the shore. By and bye these two, were killed or wounded, and nobody was left to fetch in the wounded men. So our platoon offered to go. Backwards and forwards we went bringing them in: while doing this we lost four men, and I myself had many narrow escapes.
FIRST MEAL IN TURKEY
“Night came on, and as we had no orders from Headquarters we decided to remain on the ‘River Clyde’. I with a few more of the platoon decided to sleep on the top deck, but the Turks spotted us and compelled us to go below. We got no sleep that night. Once during the night we took a lot of ammunition ashore for the “Dubs” and “Munsters.” The next day we went ashore again under fire, but the Turks fire soon got weaker, and it was decided to take the village. So we advanced and went through the villlage without firing hardly a shot. In the village we captured twenty Turks and sent them on the River Clyde. By this time the Turks, having lost heavily, retired back to Achi Baba, a hill about six miles from the beach. This hill is very strongly fortified, but has not yet been captured. The fightging for that day was then over, and we proceeded to find our Battalian. We found them in some fine trenches, which they had captured. In these trenches were about six pom poms and four maxim guns, which the Turks had abandonned. Here we learned that they had had a comparatively easy landing, and about a dozen casualties. We were sorry to hear that Captain Ray had been killed by a sniper while cutting barbed wire entanglements. Having improved the trenches ready for an attack, we then proceeded to take some tea, which no doubt we had earned. Then it was I had my first meal in Turkey. Night came on and sentries were posted to give the alarm in case of attack. We then tried to get some sleep, but the Turks had decided we should not have any. Four times during the night we were called upon to resist attacks. We easily drove them back, and on one occasion a party of Turks tried to capture one of our Maxims. The next day we found them all dead. The next morning the Brigade reformed, and fresh rations were issued, and at two o’clock we commenced to advance. When night came on, we had advanced to the foot of Achi Barba, and were about a mile from the village Krifhia. Here we entrenched and prepared for a repetition of the night before.”
ON BOARD A HOSPITAL SHIP
Concluding his interesting letter with a further account of his experiences, Private Crisp says:
“I was sent out with a listening patrol, and unfortunately the French, who were on our right flank, thought we were Turks, and opened fire. The British thinking they were attacked, also opened fire, and the patrol narrowly escaped being all killed. In the morning we found one who had been killed – shot by his own men! The next day we again advanced, but this time it was almost disastrous. We had not covered above a quarter of a mile when from unseen trenches the Turks opened on us a terrific fire. We lost heavily, but eventually we got into a ditch, which formed good cover. Here we stayed and had a ding-dong fight with the Turks. About four o’clock in the afternoon our ammunition gave out, and we were compelled to retire to the trenches we had made the night before. During this retirement a bullet smashed my left index finger; a chum bandaged my wound, and I was sent to base hospital. It took me nearly four hours to reach this hospital, I was so tired. Shrapnel was bursting all over the place, and I often wonder how I got to base alive. At the base hospital my wound was dressed, and I was sent aboard a hospital ship. There it was found necessary to amputate the finger. For ten days the ship stayed at the Dardanelles. From the deck I could watch the operations in safety, but on one occasion a Taube dropped two bombs very close. We left on May 4 and arrived at Malta on May 8. Here I was sent to St George’s Hospital, where I received the best of attention. The people of Malta have treated us well. Gifts of cigarettes and other comforts have been sent by them for the wounded. We are allowed in the picture-houses free: we are also allowed a free railway-ticket. This is a splendid place and we get plenty of boating and swimming. The only thing I dislike is the mosquitoes; I am covered head to foot with bites.”