List Of Contents | Contents of At Suvla Bay, by John Hargrave
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officer, and they both saluted in an easy-going sort of way.

"We found 'im up there," the Australian jerked his head, "being sniped 
and couldn't git away--says 'e belongs t' th' 32nd Ambulance-- so here 
he is."

The two Australians were just about to slouch off again when the 
adjutant called them back.

"Where did you find him?" he asked.

"Up beyond Jefferson's Post; there was five snipers pottin' at 'im, 
an' it looked mighty like as if 'is number was up. We killed four o' 
the snipers, and got him out."

"That was very good of you. Did you see any more Medical Corps up 
there? We've lost some others, and an officer and sergeant."

"No, I didn't spot any--did you, Bill?" The tall man turned to his pal 
leaning on his rifle.

"No," answered the short sharp-shooter; "he's the only one. It was a 
good afternoon's sport--very good. We saw 'e'd got no rifle, and was 
in a tight clove-'itch, so we took the job on right there an' finished 
four of 'em; but it took some creepin' and crawlin'."

"Well, we'll be quittin' this now," said the tall one. "There's only 
one thing we'd ask of you, sir: don't let our people know anything 
about this."

"But why?" asked the adjutant, astonished. "You've saved his life, and 
it ought to be known."

"Ya-as, that may be, sir; but we're not supposed to be up here sharp-
shootin'-- we jist done it fer a bit of sport. Rightly we don't carry 
a rifle; we belong to the bridge-buildin' section. We've only borrowed 
these rifles from the Cycle Corps, an' we shall be charged with bein' 
out o' bounds without leave, an' all that sort o' thing if it gits 
known down at our headquarters."

"Very well, I'll tell no one; all the same it was good work, and we 
thank you for getting him back to us," the adjutant smiled.

The two Australians gave him a friendly nod, and said, "So long, you 
chaps!" to us and lurched off down the defile.

"We'll chuck it fer to-day--done enough," said the tall man.

"Ya-as, we'd better git back. It was good sport--very good," said the 
short one.

Certainly the Australians we met were a cheerful, happy-go-lucky, 
devil-may-care crew. They were the most picturesque set of men on the 

Rough travelling, little or no food, no water, sleepless nights and 
thrilling escapes made them look queerly primitive and Robinson 

I wrote in my pocket-book: "September 8, 1915.--The Australians have 
the keen eye, quick ear and silent tongue which evolves in the bushman 
and those who have faced starvation and the constant risk of sudden 
death, who have lived a hard life on the hard ground, like the animals 
of the wild, and come through.

"Fine fellows these, with good chests and arms, well-knit and 
gracefully poised by habitually having to creep and crouch, and run 
and fight. Sunburnt to a deep bronze, one and all.

"Their khaki shorts flap and ripple in the sea-wind like a troop of 
Boy Scouts. Some wear green shirts, and they all wear stone-gray wide-
awake hats with pinched crown and broad flat brims."

When at last the mails brought us month-old papers from England, we 
read that "The gallant Australians" at Suvla "took" Lala Baba and 
Chocolate Hill; indeed, as Hawk read out in our dug-out one mail-day--

"The Australians have took everythink, or practically everythink worth 
takin'. They stormed Lala Baba and captured Chocolate 'ill-- in fac' 
they made the landin'; and the Xth and XIth Divisions are simply a 
myth accordin' to the papers!"



Many times have I seen the value of the Scout training, but never was 
it demonstrated so clearly as at Suvla Bay. Here, owing to the rugged 
nature of the country--devoid of all signs of civilisation--a barren, 
sandy waste--it was necessary to practise all the cunning and craft of 
the savage scout. Therefore those who had from boyhood been trained in 
scouting and scoutcraft came out top-dog.

And why?--because here we were working against men who were born 

It became necessary to be able to find your way at night by the stars. 
You were not allowed to strike a light to look at a map, and anyhow 
the maps we had were on too small a scale to be of any real use 

Now, a great many officers were unable to find even the North Star! 
Perhaps in civil life they had been men who laughed at the boy scout 
in his shirt and shorts because they couldn't see the good of it! But 
when we came face to face with bare Nature we had to return to the 
methods of primitive man.

More than once I found it very useful to be able to judge the time by 
the swing of the star-sky.

Then again, many and many a young officer or army-scout on outpost 
duty was shot and killed because, instead of keeping still, he jerked 
his head up above the rocks and finding himself spotted jerked down 
again. The consequence was, that when he raised himself the next time 
the Turks had the spot "taped" and "his number was up."

This means unnecessary loss of men, owing entirely to lack of training 
in scoutcraft and stalking.

Finding your way was another point. How many companies got "cut up" 
simply because the officer or sergeant in charge had no bump of 
location. As most men came from our big cities and towns, they knew 
nothing of spotting the trail or of guessing the right direction. 
Indeed, I see Sir Ian Hamilton states that owing to one battalion 
"losing its way" a most important position was lost--and this happened 
again and again--simply because the leaders were not scouts.

Then there were many young officers who when it came to the test could 
not read a map quickly as they went. (Boy scouts, please note.) This 
became a very serious thing when taking up fresh men into the firing-

Those men who went out with a lot of "la-di-da swank" soon found that 
they were nowhere in the game with the man who cut his drill trousers 
into shorts--went about with his shirt sleeves rolled up and didn't 
mind getting himself dirty.

There were very few "knuts" and they soon got cracked!

Shouting and talking was another point in scouting at Suvla Bay. 
Brought up in towns and streets, many men found it extremely difficult 
to keep quiet. Slowly they learnt that silence was the only protection 
against the hidden sniper.

I remember a lot of fresh men landing in high spirits and keen to get 
up to the fighting zone. They marched along in fours and whistled and 
sang; but the Turks in the hills soon spotted them and landed a shell 
in the middle of them. Silence is the scout's shield in war-time.

It fell to my lot to make crosses to mark the graves of the dead. 
These crosses were made out of bully-beef packing-cases, and on most 
of them I was asked to inscribe the name, number and regiment of the 
slain. I did this in purple copying pencil, as I had nothing more 
lasting: and generally it read :--

                   "In Memory of 19673,
                     Royal Irish Fus. 

I had to be tombstone maker and engraver-- and sometimes even sexton--
a scout turns his hand to anything.

We had our advanced dressing station on the left of Chocolate Hill--
the proper name of which is Bakka Baba.

Our ambulance wagons had to cross the Salt Lake, and often the wheels 
sank and we had to take another team of mules to pull them out.

The Turks had a tower--a gleaming white minaret--just beyond Chocolate 
Hill, near the Moslem cemetery in the village of Anafarta. It was 
supposed to be a sacred tower, but as they used it as an observation 
post, our battle-ships in the bay blew it down.

Flies swarmed everywhere, and were a great cause of disease, as, after 
visiting the dead and the latrines they used to come and have a meal 
on our jam and biscuits!

During the whole of August and September we were under heavy shell-
fire; but we got quite used to it and hardly turned to look at a 
bursting shell.

I must say khaki drill uniform is not a good hiding colour. In the 
sunlight it showed up too light. I believe a parti-coloured uniform, 
say of green, khaki and gray would be much better. Therefore the Scout 
who wears a khaki hat, green shirt, khaki shorts and gray stockings is 
really wearing the best uniform for colour-protection in stalking.

The more scouting we can introduce the better.

Carry on, Boy Scouts! Bad scoutcraft was one of the chief drawbacks in 
what has been dubbed "The Glorious Failure."



There are some things you never forget . . .

That little Welshman, for instance, lying on a ledge of rock above our 
Brigade Headquarters with a great gaping shrapnel wound in his abdomen 
imploring the Medical Officer in the Gaelic tongue to "put him out," 
and how he died, with a morphia tablet in his mouth, singing at the 
top of his high-pitched voice--

     "When the midnight chu-chu leaves for Alabam! 
     I'll be right there! 
     I've got my fare . . . 
     All aboard! 
     All aboard!
     All aboard for Alla-Bam!
      . . . Midnight . . . chu-chu . . . chu-chu . . ."

And so, slowly his soul steamed out of the wrecked station of his body 
and left for "Alabam!"

One evening, the 25th of August, bush-fires broke out on the right of 
Chocolate Hill.

The shells from the Turks set light to the dried sage, and thistle and 
thorn, and soon the whole place was blazing. It was a fearful sight. 
Many wounded tried to crawl away, dragging their broken arms and legs 
out of the burning bushes and were cremated alive.

It was impossible to rescue them. Boxes of ammunition caught fire and 
exploded with terrific noise in thick bunches of murky smoke. A 
bombing section tried to throw off their equipment before the 
explosives burst, but many were blown to pieces by their own bombs. 
Puffs of white smoke rose up in little clouds and floated slowly 
across the Salt Lake.

The flames ran along the ridges in long lapping lines with a canopy of 
blue and gray smoke. We could hear the crackle of the burning 
thickets, and the sharp "bang!" of bullets. The sand round Suvla Bay 
hid thousands of bullets and ammunition pouches, some flung away by 
wounded men, some belonging to the dead. As the bush-fires licked from 
the lower slopes of the Sari Bair towards Chocolate Hill this lost 
ammunition exploded, and it sounded like erratic rifle-fire. The fires 
glowed and spluttered all night, and went on smoking in the morning. I 
had to go up to Chocolate Hill about some sand-bags for our hospital 
dug-outs next day, and on the way up I noticed a human pelvis and a 
chunk of charred human vertebrae under a scorched and charcoaled 

Hawk and I kept a very good look-out every day. We noted the arrival 
of reinforcements, and the putting up of new telegraph lines; we 
spotted incoming transports, and the departure of our battle-ships in 
the bay.

In fact, between us, we worked a very complete "Intelligence 
Department" of our own. We made a rough chart showing the main lines 
of communications, and the position of snipers and wells, telegraph 
wires to the artillery, and the main observation posts and listening 

"It's just as well," said I, "to know as much as we can how things are 
going, and to keep account of details--it's safer, and might be very 

"Very true," said Hawk; "'ave you noticed 'ow that little cruiser 
comes in every morning at the same time, and goes out again in the 
late afternoon? Also, two brigades of Territorials came in last night 
and went round by the beach early this morning towards Lala Baba; I 
see the footprints when I went down for a wash."

The colonel had camped us on the edge of the Salt Lake on this side of 
an incline which led up to a flat plateau. Into this incline we had 
made our dug-outs, and he was now planning the digging out of a 
square-shaped place which would hold all our stretchers on which the 
sick and wounded lay, and would be protected from the Turkish shell-
fire by being dug into the solid sandstone.

I was looking about for sand-tracks and shells, and I noticed that the 
grass had grown much more luxuriously at one level than it did lower 
down. This grass was last year's and was now yellow and dead and 
rustling like paper flowers.

"This," said I to Hawk, "was last year's water-mark in the rainy 

"That's gospel," said Hawk; "and what would you make out o' that 

He smiled his queer whimsical smile.

"Why, I guess we shall be swamped out of this camp in a month's time."

"Yes; practically the 'ole of this, up to this level, will be under 

"Then what's the good of starting to dig a big permanent hospital here 

"Yours not to reason why," said Hawk; "it's a way they have in the 
army; but I'm not bothering."

Each section dug in shifts day after day until the men were worn out 
with digging.

Then the long, flat rain-clouds appeared one morning over the distant 
range of mountains.

"You see them," said Hawk, lighting a "woodbine," and pointing across 
the Salt Lake; "that's the first sign of the wet season coming up."

Sure enough in a few days the colonel had orders to shift his 
ambulance to "C" Beach, near Lala Baba, as our present position was 
unfavourable for the construction of a permanent field hospital, owing 
to the rise of water in the wet season.

Soon after this, Hawk was moved to the advanced dressing station on 
Chocolate Hill, and I had to remain with my section near the Salt 
Lake. Thus we were separated.

"It's to break up our click, too thick together, we bin noticing too 
much, we know the workin' o' things too well, must break up the 
combine, dangerous to 'ave people about 'oo spot things and keep their 
jaws tight. Git rid o' Hawk--see th' ideeah? Very clever, ain't it? 
Practically we're the only two 'oo do feel which way the wind blows, 
an' that's inconvenient sometimes."

I asked Hawk while he was on Chocolate Hill to note down in his head 
the various snipers' posts, and the general positions of the British 
and Turkish trenches.

There came a time when I wanted to send him a note. But it was a 
dangerous thing to send notes about. They might fall into the hands of 
some sniper and give away information.

Therefore I got a bar of yellow soap from our stores, cut it in two, 
bored out a small hole in one half, wrapped up my note, put it inside 
the soap, clapped the two halves together, stuck them together by 
wetting it, and completely concealed the cut by rubbing it with water.

I then asked one of the A.S.C. drivers who was going up with the 
ambulance wagon in the morning to give the piece of soap to Hawk.

"He *hasn t* got any soap," I explained, "and he asked me to send him 
a bit. Tell him it's from me, and that I hope he'll find it all right-
- it's the best we have!"

Hawk got the soap, guessed there was a reason for sending it, broke it 
open and found the note. So a simple boy-scout trick came in useful on 
active service.


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