List Of Contents | Contents of At Suvla Bay, by John Hargrave
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marched us right through to Constantinople--it wanted, dash!

It didn't want a careful, thoughtful man in command--it wanted dash 
and bluff. It could have been done in those early days. The landing 
WAS a success--a brilliant, blinding success--but it stuck at the very 
moment when it should have rushed forward. It was no one's fault if 
you understand. It was sheer luck. It just didn't "come off"--and only 
just. But a man with dash, a devil-may-care sort of leader, could have 
cut right across on Sunday, August the 8th, and brought off a 
staggering victory.



It happened on the left of Pear-tree Gully.

Pear-tree Gully was a piece of ground which neither we nor the Turks 
could hold. It was a gap in both lines, swept by machine-gun fire and 
haunted by snipers and sharp-shooters.

We had advanced right up behind the machine-gun section, which was 
hidden in a dense clump of bushes on the top of a steep rise.

The sun was blazing hot and the sweat was dripping from our faces. We 
were continually on the look-out for wounded, and always alert for the 
agonised cry of "Stretcher-bearers!" away on some distant knoll or 
down below in the thickets. Looking back the bay shimmered a silver-
white streak with grey battleships lying out.

In front the fighting broke out in fierce gusts.

"Pop-pop-pop-pop!--Pop-pop!" went the machine-gun. We could see one 
man getting another belt of ammunition ready to "feed." Bullets from 
the Turkish quick-firers went singing with an angry "ssss-ooooo! zzz-
z-eeee! . . . whheee-ooo-o-o! zz-ing!"

"D'you know where Brigade Headquarters is?" asked the adjutant.

"I'll find it, sir."

"Very well, go up with this message, and I shall be here when you come 

I took the message, saluted and went off, plunging down into the 
thickets, and at last along my old water-course where I had crawled 
away from the sniper some days before.

I made a big detour to avoid showing myself on the sky-line. I knew 
the general direction of our Brigade Headquarters, and after half-an-
hour's steady trudging with various creepings and crawlings I arrived 
and delivered my message. I returned quickly towards Pear-tree Gully. 
I stopped once to listen for the "Pop-pop-pop!" of our machine-gun but 
I could not hear it. I hurried on. It was downhill most of the way 
going back. I crept up through the bushes and looked about for signs 
of our men and the officer.

I saw a man of the machine-gun section carrying the tripod-stand, 
followed by another with the ammunition-belt-box.

"Seen any Medical Corps here?"

"They've gone down--'ooked it . . . you'd better get out o' this quick 
yourself--we're retreating--can't 'old this place no'ow--too 'ot!"

"Did the officer leave any message?"

"No--they've bin gone some time--come on, Sammy."

Well, I thought to myself, this IS nice. So I went down with the 
machine-gunners and in the dead grass just below the gully I found a 
wounded man: he was shot through the thigh and it had gone clean 
through both legs.

He was bleeding to death quickly, for it had ripped both arteries. 
Looking round I saw another man coming down, hopping along but very 

"In the ankle," he said; "can you do anything?"

"I'll have a look in a minute."

I examined the man who was hit in the thigh and discovered two 
tourniquets had been applied made out of a handkerchief and bits of 
stick to twist them up. But the blood was now pumping steadily from 
both wounds and soaking its way into the sandy soil. I tightened them 
up, but it was useless. There was no stopping the loss of blood.

All the time little groups of British went straggling past--hurrying 
back towards the bay--retreating.

It was impossible to leave my wounded. I helped the cheerful man to 
hop near a willow thicket, and there I took off his boot and found a 
clean bullet wound right through the ankle-bone of the left foot. It 
was bleeding slowly and the man was very pale.

"Been bleeding long?" I asked.

"About half an hour I reckon. Is it all right, mate?"

"Yes. It's a clean wound."

I plugged each hole, padded it and bound it up tightly. I had a look 
at the other man, who was still bleeding and had lost consciousness 

It was a race for life. Which to attend to? Both men were still 
bleeding, and both would bleed to death within half an hour or so. I 
reckoned it was almost hopeless with the tourniquet-man and I left him 
passing painlessly from life to death. But the ankle-man's wound was 
still bleeding when I turned again to him. It trickled through my 
plugging. It's a difficult thing to stop the bleeding from such a 
place. Seeing the plug was useless I tried another way. I rolled up 
one of his puttees, put it under his knee, braced his knee up and tied 
it in position with the other puttee. This brought pressure on the 
artery itself and stopped the loss of blood from his ankle. I could 
hear the Turkish machine-gun much closer now. It sputtered out a 
leaden rain with a hard metallic clatter.

"Thanks, mate," said the man; " 'ow's the other bloke?"

"He's all right," I answered, and I could see him lying a little way 
up the hill, calm and still and stiffening.

I found two regimental stretcher-bearers coming down with the rest in 
this little retreat, and I got them to take my ankle-man on to their 
dressing station about two miles further back.

It's no fun attending to wounded when the troops are retiring.

Next day they regained the lost position, and I trudged past the poor 
dead body of the man who had bled to death. The tourniquets were still 
gripping his lifeless limbs and the blood on the handkerchiefs had 
dried a rich red-brown.



                "A" BEACH

                SUVLA BAY

     There's a lot of senseless "doing" 
       And a fearful lot of work; 
     There are gangs of men with "gangers," 
       To see they do not shirk. 
     There's the usual waste of power 
       In the usual Western way, 
     There's a tangle in the transport, 
       And a blockage every day. 
     The sergeants do the swearing, 
       The corporals "carry on"; 
     The private cusses openly, 
       And hopes he'll soon be gone.

One evening the colonel sent me from our dug-out near the Salt Lake to 
"A" Beach to make a report on the water supply which was pumped ashore 
from the tank-boats. I trudged along the sandy shore. At one spot I 
remember the carcase of a mule washed up by the tide, the flesh rotted 
and sodden, and here and there a yellow rib burstiing through the 
skin. Its head floated in the water and nodded to and fro with a most 
uncanny motion with every ripple of the bay.

The wet season was coming on, and the chill winds went through my 
khaki drill uniform. The sky was overcast, and the bay, generally a 
kaleidoscope of Eastern blues and greens, was dull and grey.

At "A" Beach I examined the pipes and tanks of the water-supply system 
and had a chat with the Australians who were in charge. I drew a small 
plan, showing how the water was pumped from the tanks afloat to the 
standing tank ashore, and suggested the probable cause of the sand and 
dirt of which the C.O. complained.

This done I found our own ambulance water-cart just ready to return to 
our camp with its nightly supply. Evening was giving place to 
darkness, and soon the misty hills and the bay were enveloped in 
starless gloom.

The traffic about "A" Beach was always congested. It reminded you of 
the Bank and the Mansion House crush far away in London town.

Here were clanking water-carts, dozens of them waiting in their turn, 
stamping mules and snorting horses; here were motor-transport wagons 
with "W.D." in white on their grey sides; ambulance wagons jolting 
slowly back to their respective units, sometimes full of wounded, 
sometimes empty. Here all was bustle and noise. Sergeants shouting and 
corporals cursing; transport-officers giving directions; a party of 
New Zealand sharp-shooters in scout hats and leggings laughing and 
yarning; a patrol of the R.E.'s Telegraph Section coming in after 
repairing the wires along the beach; or a new batch of men, just 
arrived, falling in with new-looking kit-bags.

It was through this throng of seething khaki and transport traffic 
that our water-cart jostled and pushed.

Often we had to pull up to let the Indian Pack-mule Corps pass, and it 
was at one of these halts that I happened to come close to one of 
these dusky soldiers waiting calmly by the side of his mules.

I wished I had some knowledge of Hindustani, and began to think over 
any words he might recognise.

"You ever hear of Rabindranarth Tagore, Johnnie?" I asked him. The 
name of the great writer came to mind.

He shook his head. "No, sergeant," he answered.

"Buddha, Johnnie?" His face gleamed and he showed his great white 

"No, Buddie."

"Mahomet, Johnnie?"

"Yes--me, Mahommedie," he said proudly.

"Gunga, Johnnie?" I asked, remembering the name of the sacred river 
Ganges from Kipling's "Kim."

"No Gunga, sa'b--Mahommedie, me."

"You go Benares, Johnnie?"

"No Benares."


"Mokka, yes; afterwards me go Mokka."

"After the war you going to Mokka, Johnnie?"

"Yes; Indee, France--here--Indee back again--then Mokka."

"You been to France, Johnnie?"

"Yes, sa'b."

"You know Kashmir, Johnnie?"

"Kashmir my house," he replied.

"You live in Kashmir?"

"Yes; you go Indee, sergeant?"

"No, I've never been."

"No go Indee?"

"Not yet."

"Indee very good--English very good--Turk, finish!"

With a sudden jerk and a rattle of chains our water-cart mules pulled 
out on the trail again and the ghostly figure with its well-folded 
turban and gleaming white teeth was left behind.

A beautifully calm race, the Hindus. They did wonderful work at Suvla 
Bay. Up and down, up and down, hour after hour they worked steadily 
on; taking up biscuits, bully-beef and ammunition to the firing-line, 
and returning for more and still more. Day and night these splendidly 
built Easterns kept up the supply.

I remember one man who had had his left leg blown off by shrapnel 
sitting on a rock smoking a cigarette and great tears rolling down his 
cheeks. But he said no word. Not a groan or a cry of pain.

They ate little, and said little. But they were always extraordinarily 
polite and courteous to each other. They never neglected their 
prayers, even under heavy shell fire.

Once, when we were moving from the Salt Lake to "C" Beach, Lala Baba, 
the Indians moved all our equipment in their little two-wheeled carts.

They were much amused and interested in our sergeant clerk, who stood 
6 feet 8 inches. They were joking and pointing to him in a little 

Going up to them, I pointed up to the sky, and then to the Sergeant, 
saying: "Himalayas, Johnnie!"

They roared with laughter, and ever afterwards called him "Himalayas."


     (Across the bed of the Salt Lake every night from the 
     Supply Depot at Kangaroo Beach to the firing-line beyond 
     Chocolate Hill, September 1915.)

     (footnote: "Jhill-o!"--Hindustani for "Gee-up"; used by the
     drivers of the Indian Pack-mule Corps.) 

     The Indian whallahs go up to the hills-- 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!" 
     They pass by the spot where the gun-cotton kills;
     They shiver and huddle--they feel the night chills-- 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"

     With creaking and jingle of harness and pack-- 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!" 
     Where the moonlight is white and the shadows are black, 
     They are climbing the winding and rocky mule-track-- 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"

     By the blessing of Allah he's more than one wife; 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!" 
     He's forbidden the wine which encourages strife, 
     But you don't like the look of his dangerous knife; 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"

     The picturesque whallah is dusky and spare; 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!" 
     A turban he wears with magnificent air, 
     But he chucks down his pack when it's time for his prayer; 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"

     When his moment arrives he'll be dropped in a hole; 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!" 
     'Tis Kismet, he says, and beyond his control; 
     But the dear little houris will comfort his soul;
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"

     The Indian whallahs go up to the hills; 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!" 
     They pass by the spot where the gun-cotton kills; 
     But those who come down carry something that chills; 
       "Jhill-o! Johnnie, Jhill-o!"



On the edge of the Salt Lake, by the blue Aegean shore, Hawk and I dug 
a little underground home into the sandy hillock upon which our 
ambulance was now encamped.

"I'm going deep into this," said Hawk--he was a very skilful miner, 
and he knew his work.

"None of your dead heroes for me," he said; "I don't hold with 'em--
we'll make it PRACtically shell-proof." We did. Each day we burrowed 
into the soft sandy layers, he swinging the pick, and I filling up 
sand-bags. At last we made a sort of cave, a snug little Peter Pan 
home, sand-bagged all round and safe from shells when you crawled in.

I often thought what a fine thing Stevenson would have written from 
the local colour of the bay.

Its changing colours were intense and wonderful. In the early morning 
the waves were a rich royal blue, with splashing lines of white 
breakers rolling in and in upon the pale grey sand, and the sea-birds 
skimming and wheeling overhead.

At mid-day it was colourless, glaring, steel-flashing, with the 
sunlight blazing and everything shimmering in the heat haze.

In the early afternoon, when Hawk and I used to go down to the shore 
and strip naked like savages, and plunge into the warm water, the bay 
had changed to pale blue with green ripples, and the outline of Imbros 
Island, on the horizon, was a long jagged strip of mauve.

Later, when the sunset sky turned lemon-yellow, orange, and deep 
crimson, the bay went into peacock blues and purples, with here and 
there a current of bottle-glass green, and Imbros Island stood clear 
cut against the sunset-colour a violet-black silhouette.

Queer creatures crept across the sands and into the old Turkish 
snipers' trenches; long black centipedes, sand-birds--very much 
resembling our martin, but with something of the canary in their 
colour. Horned beetles, baby tortoises, mice, and green-grey lizards 
all left their tiny footprints on the shore.

"If this silver sand was only in England a man could make his 
fortune," said Hawk. ("We wept like anything to see--!")

I never saw such white sand before. One had to misquote: "Come unto 
these SILVER sands." It glittered white in a great horse-shoe round 
the bay, and the bed of the Salt Lake (which is really an overflow 
from the sea) was a barren patch of this silver-sand, with here and 

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