List Of Contents | Contents of At Suvla Bay, by John Hargrave
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there a dead mule or a sniper's body lying out, a little black blot, 
the haunt of vultures.

I made some careful drawings of the sand-tracks of the bay; noting 
down tracks being a habit with the scout.

In these things Hawk was always interested, and often a great help; 
for, in spite of his fifty years and his buccaneerish-habits, he was 
at heart a boy--a boy-scout, in fact, and a fine tracker.

One of the most picturesque sights I ever saw was an Indian officer 
mounted on a white Arab horse with a long flowing mane, and a tail 
which swept in a splendid curve and trailed in the sands. The Hindu 
wore a khaki turban, with a long end floating behind. He sat his horse 
bolt upright, and rode in the proper military style.

The Arab steed pranced, and arched its great neck. With the blue of 
the bay as a background it made a magnificent picture, worthy of the 
Thousand-and-One Nights.

Day by day we improved our dug-out, going deeper into the solid rock, 
and putting up an awning in front made of two army blankets, with a 
wooden cross-beam roped to an old rusty bayonet driven into the sand.

We lived a truly Robinson Crusoe life, with the addition of Turkish 
high-explosives, and bully-beef-and-biscuit stew.

Our dug-out was back to the firing-line, and at night we looked out 
upon the bay. We lay in our blankets watching the white moonlight on 
the waves, and the black shadows of our ambulance wagons on the silver 

It was in this dug-out that Hawk used to cook the most wonderful 
dishes on a Primus stove.

The language was thick and terrible when that stove refused to work, 
and Hawk would squat there cursing and cleaning it, and sticking bits 
of wire down the gas-tube.

He cooked chocolate-pudding, and rice-and-milk, and arrowroot-
blancmange, stewed prunes, fried bread in bacon fat, and many other 
tasty morsels.

"The proof of a good cook," said Hawk, "is whether he can make a meal 
worth eating out of PRACtically nothink"--and he could.

There were very few wounds now to attend to in the hospital dug-out. 
Mostly we got men with sandfly-fever and dysentery; men with scabies 
and lice; men utterly and unspeakably exhausted, with hollow, black-
rimmed eyes, cracked lips and foot-sores; men who limped across the 
sandy bed, dragging their rifles and equipment in their hands; men who 
were desperately hungry, whose eyes held the glint of sniper-madness; 
men whose bodies were wasting away, the skin taut and dry like a drum, 
with every rib showing like the beams of a wreck, or the rafters of an 
old roof.

Always we were in the midst of pain and misery, hunger and death. We 
do not get much of the rush and glory of battle in the "Linseed 
Lancers." We deal with the wreckage thrown up by the tide of battle, 
and wreckage is always a sad sight--human wreckage most of all.

But the bay was always full of interest for me, with its ever-changing 
colour, and the imprint of the ripples in the gleaming silver-sand.

And the silver moonlight silvers the silver-sand, while the skeletons 
of the Xth sink deeper and deeper, to be rediscovered perhaps at some 
future geological period, and recognised as a type of primitive man.



     Oft in the stilly night, 
     By yellow candle-light, 
     With finger in the sand 
     We mapped and planned.

     "This is the Turkish well, 
     That's where the Captain fell, 
     There's the great Salt Lake bed, 
     Here's where the Munsters led."

     Primitive man arose, 
     With prehistoric pose, 
     Like Dug-out Men of old, 
     By signs our thoughts were told.

I have slept and lived in every kind of camp and bivouac. I have dug 
and helped to dig dug-outs. I have lain full length in the dry, dead 
grass "under the wide and starry sky." I have crept behind a ledge of 
rock, and gone to sleep with the ants crawling over me. I have slept 
with a pair of boots for a pillow. I have lived and snoozed in the 
dried-up bed of a mountain torrent for weeks. A ground-sheet tied to a 
bough has been my bedroom. I have slumbered curled in a coil of rope 
on the deck of a cattle-boat, in an ambulance wagon, on a stretcher, 
in farmhouse barns and under hedges and haystacks. I have slept in the 
sand by the blue Mediterranean Sea, with the crickets and grasshoppers 
"zipping" and "zinging" all night long.

But our dug-out nights on the edge of the bay at Buccaneer Bivouac 
were the most enjoyable.

It was here of a night-time that Hawk and I--sometimes alone, 
sometimes with Brockley, or "Cherry Blossom," or "Corporal Mush," or 
Sergeant Joe Smith, the sailormen as onlookers and listeners--it was 
here we drew diagrams in the sand with our fingers, and talked on 
politics and women's rights, marriage and immorality, drink and 
religion, customs and habits; of life and death, peace and war.

Sometimes Hawk burst into a rare phrase of splendid composition--well-
balanced rhetoric, not unworthy of a Prime Minister.

At other times he is the buccaneer, the flinger of foul oaths, and 
terrible damning curses. But as a rule they are not vindictive, they 
have no sting--for Hawk is a forgiving and humble man in reality, in 
spite of his mask of arrogance.

A remarkable character in every way, he fell unknowingly into the old 
north-country Quaker talk of "thee and thou."

Another minute he gives an order in those hard, calm, commanding words 
which, had he had the chance, would have made him, in spite of his 
lack of schooling, one of the finest Generals the world could ever 

On these occasional gleams of pure leadership he finds the finest 
King's English ready to his lips, while at other times he is 
ungrammatical, ordinary, but never uninteresting or slow of intuition.

He was a master of slang, and like all strong and vivid characters had 
his own peculiar sayings.

He never thought of looking over my shoulder when I was sketching. He 
was a gentleman of Nature. But when he saw I had finished, his clear, 
deep-set eyes (handed down to him from those old Norseman ancestors) 
would glint with interest--

"Dekko the drawing," he would say, using the old Romany word for 
"let's see."

"PRACtically" was a favourite word.

"PRACtically the 'ole Peninsula--"

"PRACtically every one of 'em--"

"It weren't that," he would say; or, "I weren't bothering--"

"I'm not bothered--"

"Thee needn't bother, but it's a misfortunate thing--"

"Hates me like the divil 'ates Holy Water."

"Like enough!"

"A pound to a penny!"

"As like as not!"

"Ah; very like."

These were all typical Hawkish expressions.

His yarns of India out-Rudyard Kipling. They were superb, full of 
barrack-room touches, and the smells and sounds of the jungle. He told 
of the time when a soldier could get "jungling leave"; when he could 
go off with a Winchester and a pal and a native guide for two or three 
months; when the Government paid so many rupees for a tiger skin, so 
many for a cobra--a scale of rewards for bringing back the trophies of 
the jungle wilds.

He pictured the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush, describing the 
everlasting snows where you look up and up at the sheer rocks and 
glaciers; "you feel like a baby tortoise away down there, so small, as 
like as not you get giddy and drunk-like."

One night Hawk told me of a Hindu fakir who sat by the roadside 
performing the mango-trick for one anna. I illustrated it in the sand 
as he told it.

*caption: Dug-out, September 9, 1915.*

1. The fakir puts a pinch of dust from the ground in a little pile on 
a glass plate on a tripod.

2. He covers it up with a handkerchief or a cloth.

3. He plays the bagpipes, or a wooden flute, while you can see the 
heap of dust under the cloth a-growing and a-growing up and up, bigger 
and bigger.

4. At last he lifts up the cloth and shows you the green mango-tree 
growing on the piece of glass.

"He covers it again--plays. Lifts the cloth, shows you the mango tree 
in leaf. Covers it again--plays again. Takes away the cloth, and shows 
you the mango-tree in fruit, real fruit; but they never let you have 
the fruit for love or money. Rather than let any one have it, they 
pluck it and squash it between their fingers."



One day, while I was making some sketch- book drawings of bursting 
shells down in the old water-course, the Roman Catholic padre came 

"Sketching, Hargrave?"

"Yes, sir."

And then: "I suppose you're Church of England, aren't you?"

"No, sir; I'm down as Quaker."

"Quaker, eh?--that's interesting; I know quite a lot of Quakers in 
Dublin and Belfast."

Who would expect to find "Father Brown" of G. K. Chesterton fame in a 
khaki drill uniform and a pith helmet?

A small, energetic man, with a round face and a habit of putting his 
hands deep into the patch pockets of his tunic. Here was a priest who 
knew his people, who was a real "father" to his khaki followers. I 
quickly discovered him to be a man of learning, and one who noticed 
small signs and commonplace details.

His eyes twinkled and glittered when he was amused, and his little 
round face wrinkled into wreaths of smiles.

When we moved to the Salt Lake dug-outs he came with us, and here he 
had a dug-out of his own.

When the day's work was finished, and the moonlight glittered white 
across the Salt Lake, I used to stroll away for a time by myself 
before turning in.

It was a good time to think. Everything was so silent. Even my own 
footsteps were soundless in the soft sand. It was on one of these 
night-prowls that I spotted the tiny figure of Father S--- jerking 
across the sands, with that well-known energetic walk, stick in hand.

"Stars, Hargrave?" said the little priest.

"Very clear to-night, sir."

"Queer, you know, Hargrave, to think that those same old stars have 
looked down all these ages; same old stars which looked down on Darius 
and his Persians."

He prodded the sand with his walking stick, stuck his cap on one side 
(I don't think he cared for his helmet), and peered up to the star-
spangled sky.

"Wonderful country, all this," said the padre; "it may be across this 
very Salt Lake that the armies of the ancients fought with sling and 
stone and spear; St. Paul may have put in here, he was well acquainted 
with these parts--Lemnos and all round about--preaching and teaching 
on his travels, you know."

"Talking about Lemnos Island," he went on, "did you notice the series 
of peaks which run across it in a line?"


"Well, it was on those promontories that Agamemnon, King of Mycenx, 
lit a chain of fire-beacons to announce the taking of Troy to his 
Queen, Clytaemnestra, at Argos--"

Here the little priest, as pleased as a school- boy, scratched a rough 
sketch map in the sand--

"All the islands round here are full of historical interest, you know; 
`far-famed Samothrace,' for instance." Father S--- talked much of 
classical history, connecting these islands with Greek and Roman 

All this was desperately interesting to me. It was picturesque to 
stand in the sand-bed of the Salt Lake, lit by the broad flood of 
silver moonlight, with the little priest eagerly scratching like an 
ibis in the sand with his walking-stick.

I learnt more about the Near East in those few minutes than I had ever 
done at school.

But besides the interest in this novel history lesson, I was more than 
delighted to find the padre so correct in his sketch of the island and 
the coast, and I took down what he told me in a note-book afterwards, 
and copied his sand-maps also.

After this I came to know him better than I had. I visited his dug-
out, and he let me look at his books and Punch and a month-old 
Illustrated London News, or so. I came to admire him for his 
simplicity and for his devotion to his men. Every Sunday he held Mass 
in the trenches of the firing-line, and he never had the least fear of 
going up.

A splendid little man, always cheerful, always looking after his 
"flock." Praying with those who were about to give up the ghost ; 
administering the last rites of the Church to those who, in awful 
agony, were fluttering like singed moths at the edge of the great 
flame, the Great Life-Mystery of Death.

He wrote beautifully sad letters of comfort to the mothers of boy-
officers who were killed. Father S--- knew every man: every man knew 
Father S--- and admired him.

His dug-out was made in a slope overlooking the bay, and was really a 
deep square pit in the sand-bank, roofed with corrugated iron and 
sandbagged all round. Here we talked. I found he knew G. K. C. and 
Hilaire Belloc. Always he wanted to look at any new drawings in my 

It is a relief to speak with some intelligent person sometimes.

Such was Father S---, a very 'cute little man, knowing most of the 
troubles of the men about him, noticing their ways and keeping in 
touch with them all.



Just after the episode of the lost squads we were working our 
stretcher-bearers as far as Brigade Headquarters which were situated 
on a steep backbone-like spur of the Kapanja Sirt.

One of my "lance-jacks" (lance-corporals) had been missing for a good 
long time, and we began to fear he was either shot or taken prisoner 
with the others who had gone too far up the Sirt.

One afternoon we were resting among the rocks, waiting for wounded to 
be sent back to us; for since the loss of the others we were not 
allowed to pass the Brigade Headquarters. There was a lull in the 
fighting, with only a few bursting shrapnel now and then.

This particular lance-jack was quite a young lad of the middle-class, 
with a fairly good education.

But he was a weedy specimen physically, and I doubted whether he could 
pull through if escape should mean a fight with Nature for food and 
water and life itself.

Fairly late in the day as we all lay sprawling on the rocks or under 
the thorn-bushes, I saw a little party staggering along the defile 
which led up to the Sirt at this point.

There were two men with cow-boy hats, and between them they helped 
another very thin and very exhausted-looking fellow, who tottered 
along holding one arm which had been wounded.

As they came closer I recognised my lost lance-jack, very pale and 
shaky, a little thinner than usual, and with a hint of that gleam of 
sniper-madness which I have noticed before in the jumpy, unsteady eyes 
of hunted men.

The other two, one each side, were sturdy enough. Well-built men, one 
short and the other tall, with great rough hands, sunburnt faces, and 
bare arms. They wore brown leggings and riding-breeches and khaki 
shirts. They carried their rifles at the trail and strode up to us 
with the graceful gait of those accustomed to the outdoor life.

"Awstralians!" said some one.

"An' the corporal!"

Immediately our men roused up and gathered round.

"Where's yer boss?" asked the tall Colonial.

"The adjutant is over here," I answered.

"We'd like a word with him," continued the man. I took them up to the 

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