List Of Contents | Contents of At Suvla Bay, by John Hargrave
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Our searching zone for wounded lay along this ridge, which rises like 
the vertebrae of some great antediluvian reptile--dropping sheer down 
on the Gulf of Saros side, and, in varying slopes, to the plains and 
the Salt Lake on the other.

Here again small things left a vivid impression--the crack of a rifle 
from the top of the ridge, and a party of British climbing up the 
rocks and scrub in search of the hidden Turk.

The smell of human blood soaking its way into the sand from those two 
"stiffies" on the beach. The sullen silence, except for the distant 
crackle and the occasional moan of a shell. The rain which came 
pelting down in great cold blobs, splashing and soaking our thin drill 
clothes till we were wet to the skin and shivering with cold.

We were all thinking: "Who will be the first to get plugged?" We moved 
slowly along the ridge, searching every bush and rock for signs of 
wounded men.

We wondered what the first case would be--and which squad would come 
across it.

I worked up and	down the line of squads trying to keep them in touch 
with each other. We were carrying stretchers, haversacks, iron 
rations, medical haversacks, medical water-bottles, our own private 
water-bottles (filled on Lemnos Island), and three "monkey-boxes" or 
field medical companions.

Those we had left on the beach were busy putting up the operating 
marquee and other tents, and the cooks in getting a fire going and 
making tea.

The stretcher-squads worked slowly forward. We passed an old Turkish 
well with a stone-flagged front and a stone trough. Later on we came 
upon the trenches and bivouacs of a Turkish sniping headquarters. 
There were all kinds of articles lying about which had evidently 
belonged to Turkish officers: tobacco in a heap on the ground near a 
bent willow and thorn bivouac; part of a field telephone with the 
wires running towards the upper ridges of Sirt; the remains of some 
dried fish and an earthenware jar or "chattie" which had held some 
kind of wine; a few very hard biscuits, and a mass of brand-new 
clothing, striped shirts and white shirts, grey military overcoats, 
yellow leather shoes with pointed toes, a red fez, a great padded 
body-belt with tapes to tie it, a pair of boots, and some richly 
coloured handkerchiefs and waistbands all striped and worked and 

It was near here that our first man was killed later in the day. He 
was looking into one of these bivouacs, and was about to crawl out 
when a bullet went through his brain. It was a sniper's shot. We 
buried him in an old Turkish trench close by, and put a cross made of 
a wooden bully-beef crate over him.

The sun now blazed upon us, and our rain-soaked clothes were steaming 
in the heat. The open fan-like formation in which we moved was not a 
success. We lost the officers, and continually got out of touch with 
each other.

At last we reached the zone of spent bullets. "Z-z-z-z-e-e-e-e-e-pp!--
zing!" "S-s-s-ippp!"

"That one was jist by me left ear!" said Sergeant Joe Smith, although 
as a matter of fact it was yards above his head. Here, among a hail of 
moaning spent shots, our officers called a halt, made us fall in, in 
close formation, and we retired--what for I do not know.

We went back as far as the old Turkish well. Here Hawk had something 
to say.

"Our place is advancing," said he, "not retiring because of a few 
spent bullets. There's men there dying for want of medical attention--
bleeding to death."

The next time we went forward that day was in Indian file, each 
stretcher-squad following the one in front.

A parson came with us. I marched just behind the adjutant, and the 
parson walked with me. He was a big man and a fair age. We went past 
the well and the bivouacs. I could see he was very nervous.

"Do you think we are out of danger here?" he asked.

"I think so, sir" (we were three miles from the firing-line). A few 
paces further on--

"I wonder how far the firing-line is?"

"Couldn't say, sir."

A yard or so, and then--

"D'you suppose the British are advancing?"

"I hope so." And after a minute or two--

"I wonder if there are any Turks near here . . .?"

I made no answer, and marvelled greatly that the "man of God" should 
not be better prepared to meet "his Maker," of Whom in civil life he 
had talked so much.

It was just then that I spotted it--a little black figure, motionless, 
away beyond the bushes on the right.



He lay flat under a huge rock. I left the stretcher-squads, and, 
crawling behind a bush, looked through the glasses. It certainly was a 
Turk, and his position was one of hiding. He kept perfectly motionless 
on his stomach and his rifle lay by his side.

I sent a message to pass the word up to the leading squads for Hawk. 
Quickly he came down to me and took the glasses. He had wonderful 
sight. After looking for a few seconds he agreed that it looked like a 
Turkish sniper lying in wait.

"Let's go and see, anyway," said I.

"Chance it?"



Hawk led the way down into the thorn-bushes and dried-up plants. I 
followed close at his heels. We crouched as we went and kept well 
under cover. Hawk took a semicircular route, which I could see would 
ultimately bring us out by the side of the rock under which the sniper 

Now we caught a glimpse of the little dark figure--then we plunged 
deeper into the rank willow-growth and bore round to the right.

Hawk unslung the great jack-knife which hung round his waist and 
silently opened the gleaming blade. I did the same.

"I'll surprise him; you can leave it to me to get in a good slash," 
said Hawk, and I saw the great muscles of his miner's arms tighten. 
"But if he gets one in on me," he whispered, "be ready with your knife 
at the back of his neck."

A few steps farther brought us suddenly upon the rock and the sniper. 
Hawk was immediately in front of me, and his arm was held back ready 
for a mighty blow. He stood perfectly still looking at the rock, and I 
watched his muscles relax.

"See it?" he said.



There was the Turk--a great heat-swollen figure stinking in the 
sunshine. As I moved forward a swarm of green and black flies, which 
had been feeding on his face and crawling up his nostrils, went up in 
a humming, buzzing cloud.

A bit of wood lying near had looked like his rifle from a distance; 
and now we saw that, instead of lying on his stomach, he was lying on 
his back, and looked as if he had been killed by shrapnel.

"Putrid stink," said I; "come on--let's clear out."

And so our sniper-hunt led to nothing but a dead Turk stewing in the 
glaring sunshine. We rejoined the squads. No one had missed us. This 
first day was destined to be one of many adventures.



That night was dark, with no stars. I didn't know what part of 
Gallipoli we were in, and the maps issued were useless.

The first cases had been picked up close to the firing-line, and were 
mostly gun-shot wounds, and now--late in the evening--all my squads 
having worked four miles to the beach, I was trying to get my own 
direction back to the ambulance.

The Turks seldom fired at night, so that it was only the occasional 
shot of a British rifle, or the sudden "pop-pop-pop-pop-pop!" of a 
machine-gun which told me the direction of the firing-line.

I trudged on and on in the dark, stumbling over rocks and slithering 
down steep crags, tearing my way through thorns and brambles, and 
sometimes rustling among high dry grass.

Queer scents, pepperminty and sage-like smells, came in whiffs. It was 
cold. I must have gone several miles along the Kapanja Sirt when I 
came to a halt and once more tried to get my bearings. I peered at the 
gloomy sky, but there was no star. I listened for the lap-lap of water 
on the beach of Suvla Bay, but I must have been too far up the ridges 
to hear anything. There was dead silence. When I moved a little green 
lizard scutted over a white rock and vanished among the dead scrub.

I was past feeling hungry, although I had eaten one army biscuit in 
the early morning and had had nothing since.

It was extraordinarily lonely. You may imagine how queer it was, for 
here was I, trying to get back to my ambulance headquarters at night 
on the first day of landing--and I was hopelessly lost. It was 
impossible to tell where the firing-line began. I reckoned I was 
outside the British outposts and not far from the Turkish lines. Once, 
as I went blundering along over some rocks, a dark figure bolted out 
of a bush and ran away up the ridge in a panic.

"Halt!" I shouted, trying to make believe I was a British armed 
sentry. But the figure ran on, and I began to stride after it. This 
led me up and up the ridge over very broken ground. Whoever it was (it 
was probably a Turkish sniper, for there were many out night-scouting) 
I lost sight and sound of him.

I went climbing steadily up till at last I found myself looking into 
darkness. I got down on my hands and knees and peered over the edge of 
a ridge of rock. I could see a tiny beam of light away down, and this 
beam grew and grew as it slowly moved up and up till it became a great 
triangular ray. It swept slowly along the top of what I now saw was a 
steep precipice sloping sheer down into blackness below. One step 
further and I should have gone hurtling into the sea. For, although I 
did not then know it, this was the topmost ridge of the Kapanja Sirt.

The great searchlight came nearer and nearer, and I slid backwards and 
lay on my stomach looking over. The nearer it came the lower I moved, 
so as to get well off the skyline when the beam reached me. It may 
have been a Turkish searchlight. It swept slowly, slowly, till at last 
it was turned off and everything was deadly black.

I started off again in another direction, keeping my back to the 
ridge, as I reckoned that to be a Turkish searchlight, and, therefore, 
our own lines would be somewhere down the ridge. Here, high up, I 
could just see a grey streak, which I took to be the bay.

I tried to make for this streak. I scrambled down a very steep stratum 
of the mountain-side and landed at last in a little patch of dead 
grass and tall dried-up thistles.

By this time, having come down from my high position on the Sirt, I 
could no longer see the bay; but I judged the direction as best I 
could, and without waiting I tramped on.

I began to wonder how long I had been trudging about, and I put it at 
about two hours.

"Halt!--who are you?" called a voice down below.

"Friend! stretcher-bearer!" I shouted.

"Come here--this way!" answered the voice.

I went down to a clump of bushes, and a man with a rifle slung over 
his shoulder stepped forward, and we both glared at each other for a 

"Do yer know where the 45th Company is?"

"No idea," said I.

"Any water?"

"Not a drop left."

"We're trying to get back to the firing-line but we're all lost--
there's eight of us."

"I'm trying to get to the 32nd Field Ambulance--d'you know the way?"

"Yes; go right ahead there," he pointed, "and keep well down off the 
hills--you'll see the beach when you've gone for a mile or so--"

"How far is it?"

"'Bout four miles;" and then, "Got a match?"

"Yes--but it's dangerous to light up."

"Must 'ave a smoke--nothink to eat or drink."

"Well, here you are; light up inside my helmet."

He did; this hid the lighted match from any sniper's eye. The other 
seven men came crawling out of the bushes to light up their 
"woodbines" and fag-ends.

"Well, I'm off," said I, and once more went forward in the direction 
pointed out by the corporal and his lost squad.

"So long, mate--good luck!" he shouted.

"Same to you!" I called back.

And now came sleep upon me. Even as I walked an awful weariness fell 
upon every limb. My legs became heavy and slow. That short rest had 
stiffened me, and my eyelids closed as I trudged on. I lifted them 
with an effort and dragged one foot after the other. I knew I must get 
back to my unit, and that here it was very dangerous. I wanted to lie 
down on the dead grass and sleep and sleep and sleep. I urged my 
muscles to swing my legs--for I knew if once I sat down to rest I 
should never keep awake.

It was while I was thus trying to jerk my sleepy nerves on to action 
that I came upon a zigzagged trench. It was fully six feet deep and 
about a yard wide. It was of course an old Turkish defence running 
crosswise along the great backbone of the Sirt. I knew now that I was 
nearing the bay, for most of these trenches overlooked the beach.

There was a white object about ten yards from me. What it was I could 
not tell, and a quiver of fear ran through me and threw off the awful 
sleepiness of fatigue.

Was it a Turkish sniper's shirt? Or was it a piece of white cloth, or 
a sheet of paper? In the gloom of night I could not discover.

However, I determined to go steady, and I crept up to a dark thorn-
bush and stood still.It did not move. Still standing against the dark 
bush to hide the fact that I was unarmed, I shouted--

"Halt! who are you?" in as gruff and threatening a tone as I could 

Silence. It did not move. I ran forward along the trench and there 
found a white pack-mule all loaded up with baggage; I could make out 
the queerly worked trappings, with brass-coins on the fringed bridle 
and coloured fly-tassels over the eyes. It was stone dead and stiff. 
Its eyes glared at me--a glassy glare full of fear. The Turkish pack-
mule had been bringing up material to the Turks in the trench when it 
had been killed--and now the deep sides of the trench were holding it 

I trudged away towards the beach and lay down to sleep at last among 
the other men of the ambulance, who were lying scattered about behind 
tufts of bush or against ledges of rock.

When weighed down with sleep any bed will serve.

And this was the end of our first day's work on the field.



We used to start long before daylight, when the heavy gloom of early 
morning swept mountain, sea and sand in an indistinct haze; when the 
cobwebs hung thick from thorn to thorn like fairy cats'-cradles all 
dripping and beaded with those heavy dews. The guard would wake us up 
about 3.30 A.M. We were asleep anywhere, lying about under rocks and 
in sandy dells, sleeping on our haversacks and water-bottles, and our 
pith helmets near by. We got an issue of biscuit and jam, or biscuit 
and bully-beef, to take with us, and each one carried his iron rations 
in a little bag at his side.

So we set off--a long, straggling, follow-my-leader line of men and 
stretchers. The officer first, then the stretcher-sergeant--(myself)--
and the squads, two men to a stretcher, carrying the stretchers folded 
up, and last of all a corporal or a "lance-jack" bringing up the rear 
in case any one should fall out.

Cold, dark, shivery mornings they were; our clothes soaked in dew and 

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