Monday, April 29, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 29 April 1915

Jack Reilly's Diary:

29th April: The battle is still raging & the 1st Battalion has been relieved in the trenches & sent back to the base to rest.  Had a bathe in the sea and had some tea which has greatly refreshed me.  Thank God I am still safe, but I believe we have a hot time ahead yet.

1st May:  Still resting at the base but expect to return to the firing line this afternoon.  Left the base 7pm and returned to firing line.

2nd May:  Still in trenches – things a bit quiet – plenty of bullets wizzing about but only an occasional shell.  Our trench is on a hill at the top of a deep ravine.  The ascent is so steep that we have to climb up on a rope about a hundred yards long.  The rest is cut with steps.  Went down in the gully this afternoon and made some tea.  Met Ted Smith & P. Wise from Tamworth and had a yarn while the billy boiled.  I forgot to enter that cousin Pat was wounded in the head last Sunday but not seriously.  You can imagine what it was like here the first two days after we landed.  When the roll was called there was only four hundred left in the 1st Battalion, that is 6 hundred killed & wounded.  Although we had such a hot time I came through without a scratch.  The nearest touch I had was when a bullet penetrated the iron cap of my entrenching tool handle and remained in the wood.

9th May:  Still in the firing line.  We do 18 hours and then have 24 off, when we can boil our billys & cook our food.  We are getting excellent food every day.  We get tinned meat & vegetables, bacon, cheese & jam, with biscuits.  I am in splendid health, never had such an appetite before.  We are holding the Turks back now with ease.  In some places our trenches are only 15 yards apart.  The Turks have trench overlooking the gully up which our stores are brought & they have snipers picking off our men as they go along.  One day they shot 14 stretcher bearers.  We also have to go there for water.  I have to laugh when I think of it, that every time one has to go for water one has to give the beggars a shot at oneself.

Jack Reilly was wounded on about the 19th of May 1915.  He was evacuated to Egypt and eventually recovered from his wounds.  He later served in France and returned to Australia in 1919.  Jack was discharged on the 27th of June 1919, having been away for nearly five years.

What sort of man was Jack when he returned we will never know. What we do know is that he was ill, suffering repeatedly from respiratory ailments. He was about 29 years of age when discharged, but it would be another 12 years before he married Rose Kirk in 1931, suggesting that it may have taken some time to recover, both mentally and physically.

While some WW1 commentators have referred to the post war suffering of veterans, it is not a
subject that is generally discussed. Yet what is discussed, though not widely, is that perhaps as many who died during the war (over 60,000) were to pass away in the next 20 years or so following their return. So it is no surprise to learn that 199 Sergeant John Bernard Reilly rejoined his mates from the 1st Battalion on the 18th of February 1942, at the age of just 52.
A hero now silent, but not forgotten.

The First Battalion History records the following: 

On April 26 the Battalion was still scattered along most of the front, although by evening about 300 stragglers had been collected.  These spent the night in Shrapnel Gully, just below its junction with Monash Valley.......During the 27th and 28th such men as had been collected were used as supports for the firing line and small parties were sent up to reinforce where required.

On the 29th orders were received to assemble the Battalion on the beach to reorganize, and every effort was made to muster the scattered troops.......The men bathed and slept, and on the morning of the 30th a muster parade was held and the casualties ascertained with more or less accuracy.

The Battalion had landed with a strength of 30 officers and 942 other ranks....the number of killed, wounded and missing from April 25 to 29 inclusive (totalled) 366.

The First Battalion continued to serve with distinction throughout the Gallipoli campaign and later the war in France.  During its four and half years of active service 286 officers and approximately 6000 other ranks were to serve with the Battalion.  Killed were 49 officers and 1116 other ranks; wounded were 111 officers and 2052 other ranks.  Approximately 232 men received awards for gallantry, including three Victoria Crosses.

Jack's Mates

In Countdown To ANZAC 13 April 1915 we referred to 37 people that Jack met and mentioned in his diary.  Approximately 18 of those men landed with Jack and the 1st Battalion on April 25 1915.  The following is a brief outline of their fate:

Major Ross Campbell Dawson was 34 years old when he enlisted on the 27th August 1914.  He was appointed OIC A Company, 1st Battalion, and was the officer whose signature appears on a great many of the Attestation Papers of those men who enlisted at that time.  He was wounded with a bullet wound to the neck on the 25th April 1915 as his troops were attempting to establish themselves on that first day.  He returned to duty on the 21st of June, but was subsequently seconded from duty on the 29th October 1915.  He suffered a septic arm in January 1916 and embarked for Australia later that month.  Dawson was subsequently diagnosed with nervous depression, insomnia and neurasthenia and was discharged in June 1916.  He died on the 22nd August 1947.

Major Swannell in centre
Major Blair Inskip Swannell born in Britain on th 20th August 1875.  He was an engineer who was a veteran of the South African Campaign (the Boer War) and thus one of the more experienced officers in the 1st AIF at that time. The exact fate of Major Swannell is not known.  He was at the forefront of the landing and advance of the 1st Battalion when it landed on the morning of 25th April.  It appears that, with Sgt Larkin and others he reached the feature known as Baby 700.  He is listed as KIA on April 25 1914, but his body was never identified (this was a common fate of many at Gallipoli).  His identity disc was located on the 2nd of May by a Captain Bigwithen of the NZ Expeditionary Force.
Sgt Larkin standing on left of donkey
321 -  Edward Rinnex Larkin was the 34 year old Member for Willoughby in the NSW Legislative Assembly.  He enlisted on the 21st August 1914 and joined the 1st Battalion.  Larkin landed with A company and was reported KIA on the 25th April or 2nd of May.  His remains are buried in the Valley of Death at Gallipoli and he was posthumously Mentioned in Dispatches. 

134 -  James William Adams was a 22 year old plumber when he enlisted on the 22nd of August 1914.  He joined the 1st Battalion and landed at ANZAC on 25th of April, where he received a gunshot wound to the leg.  He rejoined his unit on the 22nd of June, but suffered a serious influenza attack on the 13th of August, just a few days after the attack on Lone Pine.  He was evacuated to England in September and served the remainder of the war in England and France.  He returned to Australia on the 27th of January 1919.

188 – Geoffrey Ronald Lomas joined the 1st Battalion on the 1st September 1914. He was 19 years of age and had been working as a stockman.  He received a gunshot wound to the arm at Gallipoli on the 15th of May 1915.  Taking some months to recover, he didn't return to his unit until the 13th of November of that year, just as the temperature was starting to plummet.  He served throughout the war in England & France, but seems to have suffered greatly from continuing bouts of trench fever.  He returned to Australia on the 22nd of November 1918.

201 – John Cairns was a 29 year old bookkeeper from Goondawindi.  He joined the 1st Battalion on the 4th of September 1914.  He appears to have landed at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915, but was sent to hospital by his commanding officer a few days later, about the 1st of May.  He was diagnosed with venereal disease and sent back to Australia and discharged in August 1915.  

202 – David William Carter enlisted with the 1st Battalion on the 3rd of September 1915.  He was 22 years of age and had been employed as a railway shunter.  Landing at Gallipoli, he was wounded sometime between the 25th and 29th of April and was evacuated to hospital.  Carter returned to his unit in June, survived the attack on Lone Pine in August, was promoted to corporal in November and was sent to Egypt following the Gallipoli evacuation.  Carter was promoted to Sergeant in February 1916 and arrived in France on the 28th of March.  He was killed in action in the vicinity of Poziers, sometime between the 22nd & 25th of May 1916 and is buried in Poziers British Cemetery.

140 – Leslie James Billington was a 22 year old English boy when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 24th of August 1914.  He was wounded at Lone Pine between the 6th & 9th of August 1915.  Recovering from his wounds, he served throughout the war, achieving the rank of sergeant, and returned to Australia in May 1919.

178 – Allen  Reginald Tindale was 19 years of age when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 1st of September 1914.  Describing himself as a clerk when he enlisted, he landed at Gallipoli on the 25th of April with his unit.  Tindale received a gunshot wound to the arm at ANZAC on the 5th of June, but was able to return to duty in August.  He was promoted to corporal and remained at Gallipoli until the evacuation. Tindale was promoted to Sergeant in February 1916 and received a commission to 2nd Lieutenant in April of that year.  Sent to France, he was wounded in May 1916 and again, more seriously, in April 1917.  Tindale was returned to Australia in November 1917 where he was invalided from the army.

179 -  Harry Morell Reeve was a 20 year old shearer upon his enlistment in the 1st Battalion on the 1st of September 1914.  He received a gunshot wound to the hand sometime between the 25th and 29th of April, but returned to his unit on the 8th of May.  Harry was again wounded on the 5th of June and died of his wounds the next day.  He was buried at sea.

100 – Charles Lee was a horse driver and just 21 years of age when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914.  Lee was reported as Missing on the 5th of June 1915 (at Gallipoli) and a subsequent Court of Enquiry confirmed that he had been Killed in Action on that date.

189 -  Sidney John Samson was 24 years old and a mechanic when he enlisted in the 1st Battalion in 1914.  He was wounded at Gallipoli between the 25 and 30th of April 1915, and again in France on the 11th of April 1917.  While he returned to his unit in December 1917, he was sent back to Australia in August 1918.

1154 – Norman Byron Fraser joined A Company of the 1st Battalion on the 26th of August 1914.  He was 19 years old, from Byron Bay and had been working as a clerk.  A Court of Enquiry in January 1916 determined that Fraser had been Killed in Action at Gallipoli on the 2nd of May 1915.  He has no known grave.

97 – Patrick Joseph Reilly was a 37 year old platelayer from Bungendore when he enlisted in the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914.  He was wounded on the 25th of April at Gallipoli and again on the the 10th of August during the attack and later defence at Lone Pine.  This wound was more severe and he returned to Australia in December 1915.  Pat was medically discharged in August 1916.

341 – Hector McKenzie was 28 and a Launch Proprietor when he joined A Company, 1st Battalion, on the 24th of August 1914.  He was killed in action at Gallipoli on the 10th of May 1915.

127 – Samuel Weingott was 21 years of age when he enlisted on the 24th of August 1914.  A tailors cutter from Sydney when he joined the 1st Battalion, he succumbed to wounds received at Gallipoli and died at sea on the 5th of June 1915.  Prior to his death, he specifically requested not to receive a Christian burial.  Sam was one of four brothers who enlisted in the AIF.  His brother Alexander was killed in action at the landing at Gallipoli on the 25th of April 1915.

1250 – Richard William Edwards was an engine driver who was born in Wales in 1880. He joined the 1st Battalion on the 22nd of October 1914 and promoted to Sergeant in December 1914.  Following a shell blast injury at Gallipoli, he was returned to Australia and discharged in January 1916.

94 – Sandoe Joseph Henry Dietze, AKA Joseph Henry Dietze and Joseph Henry Sandoe.  He was born in Cornwall in 1894 as Joseph Henry Sandoe but due to his mother's remarriage early in his life, he preferred to be known by his stepfathers name of Dietze.  He joined the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914.  Dietze was wounded at Gallipoli on the 28th of May and again on the 27th of August 1915.  Promoted to Company Quarter Master Sergeant, he was wounded in France in January 1917.  Following his commission to 2nd Lieutenant in August 1918, he was killed in action on the 18th of September.

History's Lesson

A moment's reflection by a student of history will undoubtedly bring to mind the sad fact that the lesson's of history are rarely learned.  The vanity of humanity and our perpetual pursuit of that which is possessed by others, under whatever guise, provides the smoke that effectively screens any clarity of vision or effective enlightenment.

The following is a direct quote from Appendix VII from The Official History of The First World War by Charles Bean.  Decide for yourselves.

“After the war of 1914-18, there came to the notice of some Australians the existence, in the National Museum at Athens, of a memorial to members of an earlier force which had served its country in the Dardanelles. On a marble monument are the names of twenty-eight Athenians, grouped under the names of their “tribes” (that is of their electoral divisions), as well as of others who fell at Byzantium (which 750 years later became Constantinople) and elsewhere. In the Manuel of Greek Historical Inscriptions (Hicks and Hill, Clarendon Press, Oxford, England) the editors conjecture that the fighting at the Dardanelles (or Hellespont) took place in 440 B.C. when the people - or aristocracy - of Samos revolted against the Athenian democracy, and the colony of Byzantium also took the opportunity to revolt. In a sea and land war, in which Pericles and the poet Sophocles both served as leaders , the Athenians won.”

On a slab of marble across both columns of the monument is an inscription in Ancient Greek.
This has been translated.... as follows: 

These by the Dardanelles laid down their shining youth
In battle and won fair renown for their native land,
So that their enemy groaned carrying war’s harvest from the field-
But for themselves they founded a deathless monument of valour.

Another Australian suggested a shortened version to commemorate others who fell on the same shores 2355 years later:

They gave their shining youth, and raised thereby
Valour’s own monument which cannot die.


Atatürk (Mustafa Kemal)
Atatürk was born Mustafa Kemal at Salonika (now Thessalonika, Greece). After graduating from the military academy in Constantinople (Istanbul), Kemal pursued his military career with the Turkish Army in Syria. A member of the Young Turk revolutionary movement which deposed the Sultan in 1909, he took part in the war of 1911–1912 against Italy in Libya. During the Second Balkan War in 1913 he became the chief of staff of the army in the Gallipoli Peninsula, until posted as military attaché at the Turkish embassy in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Kemal returned to Gallipoli in 1915 as commander of the 19th Division, the main reserve of the Turkish Fifth Army, and was thus on hand to oppose the ANZAC landing in April. His superb grasp of strategy and ability to inspire his troops by his reckless bravery in action boosted Turkish morale and proved decisive in thwarting allied plans.

In 1934 Atatürk wrote a tribute to the ANZACs killed at Gallipoli:

Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives... You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country. Therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side now here in this country of ours... you, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land. They have become our sons as well.

This inscription appears on the Kemal Atatürk Memorial, ANZAC Parade, Canberra.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 25 April 1915

One of the landing craft
(with bullet holes)
now resting in the
Australian War Memorial
Jack Reilly's Diary:  Landed on Gallipoli about 7am under fire & got a hot time.  We had to advance & reinforce the 3rd Brigade.  When we got to the top of the hill it was like hell.  Shrapnel & explosive bullets rained on us like hail.  A great many of our chaps were killed & wounded.  Two of my best mates, Jim Adams & Bob Burns were severely wounded & I heard since that Bob had died.

1st Battalion War Diary: Arrived - commenced disembarkation - landed without loss - received orders to send a company forward - B Company moved out but was halted - received orders to reinforce Colonel MacLagan and the 3rd Brigade - the whole battalion was thrown into the firing line and worked independently of Battalion HQ.
(There are no further entries in this battalion's war diary until April 29)

Sir Ian Hamilton's recollections give a commander's view: 

25th April, 1915. H.M.S. "Queen Elizabeth." Our Queen chose the cold grey hour of 4 a.m. to make her war toilette. By 4.15 she had sunk the lady and put on the man of war. Gone were the gay companions; closed the tight compartments and stowed away under armour were all her furbelows and frills. In plain English, our mighty battleship was cleared for action, and—my mind—that also has now been cleared of its everyday lumber: and I am ready.
If this is a queer start for me, so it is also for de Robeck. In sea warfare, the Fleet lies in the grip of its Admiral like a platoon in the hands of a Subaltern. The Admiral sees; speaks the executive word and the whole Fleet moves; not, as with us, each Commander carrying out the order in his own way, but each Captain steaming, firing, retiring to the letter of the signal. In the Navy the man at the gun, the man at the helm, the man sending up shells in the hoist has no discretion unless indeed the gear goes wrong, and he has to use his wits to put it right again. With us the infantry scout, a boy in his teens perhaps, may have to decide whether to open fire, to lie low or to fall back; whether to bring on a battle or avoid it. But the Fleet to-day is working like an army; the ships are widely scattered each one on its own, except in so far as wireless may serve, and that is why I say de Robeck is working under conditions just as unusual to him as mine are to me.

My station is up in the conning tower with de Robeck. The conning tower is a circular metal chamber, like a big cooking pot. Here we are, all eyes, like potatoes in the cooking pot aforesaid, trying to peep through a slit where the lid is raised a few inches, ad hoc, as these blasted politicians like to say. My Staff are not with me in this holy of holies, but are stowed away in steel towers or jammed into 6-inch batteries.

So we kept moving along and at 4.30 a.m. were off Sedd-el-Bahr. All quiet and grey. Thence we steamed for Gaba Tepe and midway, about 5 o'clock, heard a very heavy fire from Helles behind us. The Turks are putting up some fight. Now we are off Gaba Tepe! (Anzac landing, ed)

The day was just breaking over the jagged hills; the sea was glassy smooth; the landing of the lads from the South was in full swing; the shrapnel was bursting over the water; the patter of musketry came creeping out to sea; we are in for it now; the machine guns muttered as through chattering teeth—up to our necks in it now. But would we be out of it? No; not one of us; not for five hundred years stuffed full of dullness and routine.

By 5.35 the rattle of small arms quieted down; we heard that about 4,000  fighting men had been landed (probably the 3rd Brigade,ed); we could see boat-loads making for the land; swarms trying to straighten themselves out along the shore; other groups digging and hacking down the brushwood. Even with our glasses they did not look much bigger than ants. God, one would think, cannot see them at all or He would put a stop to this sort of panorama altogether. And yet, it would be a pity if He missed it; for these fellows have been worth the making. They are not charging up into this Sari Bair range for money or by compulsion. They fight for love—all the way from the Southern Cross for love of the old country and of liberty. Wave after wave of the little ants press up and disappear. We lose sight of them the moment they lie down. Bravo! every man on our great ship longs to be with them. But the main battle called. The Admiral was keen to take me when and where the need might most arise. So we turned South and steamed slowly back along the coast to Cape Helles (where the British and French forces have landed, ed).

For a full description of these events I would recommend the reader to Chapter 12 of Bean's Official History.  It is quite easy to follow and you will find the link here

You may also wish to watch this from The Anzac's, the mini series. It is the ill fated landing by the 8th Battalion at Anzac Cove on the 25th.  The link is here

The ABC has also prepared an excellent interactive site covering the landing at ANZAC.  You find the link here

The 1st Battalion and Jack Reilly were very busy for the next few days until withdrawn from the line on April 29.  There were no entries in their diaries until then.  Our next post will be on the 29th to give the battalion and Jack time to get on with their business.  It will also give the reader time to absorb some of the material above.  On the 29th we will also discuss the fate of Jack and his mates.

This project is dedicated to the memory of all who served in war.  Lest we forget!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 24 April 1915

Jack Reilly's diary for this day is a simple, "Left Harbour of Ladros 5am.  Anchored north of Lemnos Island.  Expect to land on Gallipoli Peninsula tomorrow morning."

1st Battalion War Diary: 5am - Left Mudros Harbour to rendezvous in bay North of Island. 11.30pm - Left rendezvous.

1st Brigade War Diary: Wind rising again, East by North. No rain. The accommodation on this ship (the Lake Michigan,ed) is very bad.
Noon - Left Lemnos absolutely calm & fine.
4pm - Anchored North of Lemnos.
11pm - Left anchorage. All lights out.

Sir Ian Hamilton's diary:

24th April, 1915. H.M.S. "Queen Elizabeth." Tenedos. Boarded the Queen Lizzie at 1.30 p.m. Anchored off Tenedos just before 4 p.m. Lay outside the roadstead; close by us is the British Fleet with an Armada of transports,—all at anchor. As we were closing up to them we spotted a floating mine which must have been passed touch-and-go during the night by all those warships and troopships. A good omen surely that not one of them fell foul of the death that lurks in that ugly, horned devil—not dead itself, but very much alive, for it answered a shot from one of our three pounders with the dull roar and spitting of fire and smoke bred for our benefit by the kindly German Kultur.
I hope I may sleep to-night. I think so. If not, my wakefulness will wish the clock's hand forward.

The 1st Battalion History takes up the story, "......on the 24th we moved out of Mudros Harbour to the west side of the island, ready for the attack on the following day.

Our arrangements for leaving the ship had been finalised. As early as possible in the operations, three destroyers were to come alongside; first two, one on each side, and, when they were clear, a third. The troops to go in each destroyer were carefully selected. The transport personnel and horses were to remain on board, and also hold party. We were to carry three days rations in packs and an extra 150 rounds of ammunition. We were warned there would be a difficulty about getting more water; and General Birdwood advised us to drink all we could before leaving the ship, as after that our water bottles might be all we should have for a couple of days. A lot of canvas water bags had been made for extra supplies. We knew very little of the actual plans for the attack. In fact, the whole thing seemed rather in the air, and so it proved. We understood that the 3rd Brigade was to land from warships at about 4am and endeavour to rush the enemy positions and hold on until the rest of the Division got ashore - and that was about all."

Charles Bean again, "Meanwhile in Mudros, immediately after midday, destroyers came alongside the transports of the 3rd Brigade and transferred half of the 9th Battalion to the Queen, half  of the 10th to the Prince of Wales and half of the 11th to the London. The men, with their full packs and rifles, clambered on board very quietly and clambered below decks.  Every alleyway and mess deck in the ships was full of them. The Navy had insisted on feeding them; it would not let them pay for canteen stores; sailors, marines, and officers shared in the expense of providing extras from the ships' canteens.....

General William Bridges
....As soon as the troops were on board, at 2pm, the ships left port.  Colonel MacLagan, commanding the 3rd Brigade which was to make the landing, said goodbye to General Bridges in the Prince of Wales and boarded one of the destroyers.

'Well, MacLagan,' said Bridges as they parted, 'you haven't thanked me yet.'

'Yes sir, I do thank you for the great honour of having this job to do with my brigade,' was the reply. 'But if we find the Turks holding these
Colonel MacLagan
ridges in any strength, I honestly don't think you'll ever see the 3rd Brigade again.'

'Oh, go along with you!' said Bridges laughing.

Just before dusk that evening the men of the 1st and 2nd Brigades in their transports in the Bay of Purnea saw, steaming slowly along the horizon to the west, a squadron of five warships.  They passed gradually across the skyline, trailing a long streamer of smoke, until the night closed over them.

They were the battleships carrying men of the 3rd Brigade to Gaba Tepe."

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 23 April 1915

1st Battalion War Diary: "Remained on board preparing for disembarkation."

Charles Bean records, "On the afternoon of the 23rd many British transports sorted themselves out from the others in the crowded basis and moved between the other cheering troopships into the outer harbour.  Many noticed, as they passed her, a certain old cargo
River Clyde after the landing
steamer with two masts and a yellow funnel.  Slung over her starboard side were half a dozen men on ropes, painting that side of the ship yellow.  Her name was the
River Clyde (soon to be carved into infamy. See here - in part from the 1931 movie "Tell England" -  for the reason ed).  A space near the bow still remained to be coloured.  That evening General Birdwood, with his Chiefs of Staff, moved into the battleship HMS Queen, and General Bridges and his Staff into the Prince of Wales."

Meanwhile, the commander of the whole operation, Sir Ian Hamilton, no doubt enjoying his kippers for breakfast, waxes lyrical in his recollections and exchanges comforting messages:

23rd April, 1915. S.S. "Arcadian." Lemnos. 

A gorgeous day at last; fitting frame to the most brilliant and yet touching of pageants.

All afternoon transports were very, very slowly coming out of harbour winding their way in and out through the other painted ships lying thick on the wonderful blue of the bay. The troops wild with enthusiasm and tremendously cheering especially as they passed the warships of our Allies.

Nunc Dimittis,(from the opening words in the Latin Vulgate, "Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine" -  "Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord" ed.). O Lord of Hosts! Not a man but knows he is making for the jaws of death. They know, these men do, they are being asked to prove their enemies to have lied when they swore a landing on Gallipoli's shore could never make good. They know that lie must pass for truth until they have become targets to guns, machine guns and rifles—huddled together in boats, helpless, plain to the enemy's sight. And they are wild with joy; uplifted! Life spins superbly through their veins at the very moment they seek to sacrifice it for a cause. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

English poet, Rupert Brooke,
died from infected mosquito bite
while accompanying the
Mediterranean Expeditionary Force 
A shadow has been cast over the wonders of the day by a wireless to say that Rupert Brooke is very dangerously ill—from the wording we fear there can be no hope.

Dent, principal Naval Transport Officer, left to-day to get ready. Wemyss said good-bye on going to take up command of his Squadron.

Have got d'Amade's revised orders for the landing at Kum Kale and also for the feint at Besika Bay. Very clear and good.

At 7.15 p.m. we got this message from K. (Lord Kitchener, ed.) "Please communicate the following messages at a propitious moment to each of those concerned.

(1) My best wishes to you and all your force in carrying to a successful conclusion the operations you have before you, which will undoubtedly have a momentous effect on the war. The task they have to perform will need all the grit Britishers have never failed to show, and I am confident your troops will victoriously clear the way for the Fleet to advance on Constantinople.

(2) Convey to the Admiral my best wishes that all success may attend the Fleet. The Army knows they can rely on their energy and effective co-operation while dealing with the land forces of the enemy.

(3) Assure General d'Amade and the French troops of our entire confidence that their courage and skill will result in the triumph of their arms.
(End of message)"

" Personal:  All my thoughts will be with you when operations begin."

We, here, think of Lord K. too. May his shadow fall dark upon the Germans and strike the fear of death into their hearts.

Just got following from the Admiral:—

"H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth,
23rd April, 1915.
My dear General,
I have sent orders to all Admirals that operations are to proceed and they are to take the necessary measures to have their commands in their assigned positions by Sunday morning, April 25th!  I pray that the weather may be favourable and nothing will prevent our proceeding with the scheme. 'May heaven's light be our guide' and God give us the victory. 
Think everything is ready and in some ways the delay has been useful, as we have now a few more lighters and tugs available.
Yours sincerely,
(Sd.) J. M. de Robeck."

I have sent a reply—

"S.S. Arcadian,

23rd April, 1915.
My dear Admiral,
Your note just received gives expression to my own sentiments. The sooner we get to work now the better and may the best cause win.
Yours sincerely,
(Sd.) Ian Hamilton."

Rupert Brooke is dead. Straightaway he will be buried. The rest is silence.
Twice was "the sight" vouchsafed me:—in London when I told Eddie I would bespeak the boy's services; at Port Said when I bespoke them.

Death on the eve of battle, death on a wedding day—nothing so tragic save that most black mishap, death in action after peace has been signed. Death grins at my elbow. I cannot get him out of my thoughts. He is fed up with the old and sick—only the flower of the flock will serve him now, for God has started a celestial spring cleaning, and our star is to be scrubbed bright with the blood of our bravest and our best.

Youth and poetry are the links binding the children of the world to come to the grandsires of the world that was. War will smash, pulverise, sweep into the dustbins of eternity the whole fabric of the old world: therefore, the firstborn in intellect must die. Is that the reading of the riddle?

Almighty God, Watchman of the Milky Way, Shepherd of the Golden Stars, have mercy upon us, smallest of the heavenly Shiners. Our star burns dim as a corpse light: the huge black chasm of space closes in: if only by blood ...? Thy Will be done. En avant—at all costs—en avant!   (En avant - French - "Forward", ed)

Meanwhile, the best of many nations - "the flower of the flock" -  await their destiny!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 22 April 1915

1st Battalion War Diary, "Battalion remained on board , weather too windy for boats".

1st Brigade War Diary, "Fine and cold. East wind still high and veering to north.  Weather unsettled. Starting postponed 24 hours...."

Sir Ian Hamilton
Sir Ian Hamilton's diary for this day:

22nd April, 1915. S.S. "Arcadian."

Lemnos. Wind worse than ever, but weather brighter. Another twenty four hours' delay. Russian Military Attaché from Athens (Makalinsky) came to see me at 2.30 p.m. He cannot give me much idea of how the minds of the Athenians are working. He says our Russian troops are of the very best. Delay is the worst nerve-cracker.

Charley Burn, King's Messenger, came; with him a Captain Coddan, to be liaison between me and Istomine's Russians.

The King sends his blessing.

The following gracious message has been received to-day by the General Commanding—

"The King wishes you and your Army every success, and you are constantly in His Majesty's thoughts and prayers."

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 21 April 1915

Charles Bean's History again, " The orders (Operation Order No.1) of the Army Corps were issued on April 18th, and those of the 1st Australian Division on the 19th.  In the interval the harbour had filled with transports.  Accurate information as to the expedition and its composition had, of course, reached the Turks who had made speedy and carefully organised preparations to meet it.

The first definite expectation of a military attack forced itself upon the Turkish Staff after the failure of the naval assault on March 18th.....(yet) the same time (they) had no inside
General Otto Liman von Sanders,
German commander
of turkish forces.
information whatever as to where the landing would take place, nor as to the date of it.

The Turks met the now obvious danger by forming, on March 24th, a special army - the 5th Turkish - for the defence of the Dardanelles.....Its fighting strength is given by Turkish documents as 62077 all told....

...Orders were (given) to build the bridges and improve the roads, especially the then impassable track between Gallipoli and Maidos.  A landing stage was begun at Nagara, in order to render easier the line of communication across the straits.  Field bakeries were built. Arrangements were made for dumps of ammunition, clothes and material....The training of troops in hand grenade work and sniping was commenced, and a defence scheme was drawn up with one objective - that of having the troops so placed that they could hurry to meet the blow upon either side of the straights, wherever it might fall.  The movements of the troops to their new positions were to be made at night, so that the Allied airmen might gain no hint of the new plans.

Commander of Turkish 19th Division
 Mustafa Kemal (later Ataturk)
inspecting preparations
Both on the Peninsular and on the Asiatic side the Turks strengthened their positions every night, the engineer companies putting wire upon or above beaches where they expected a landing and the infantry digging trenches.

The Turks were thus well prepared on the Peninsular."

The 1st Battalion History relates their feelings at this time, "We received a General Order containing the famous address from Sir Ian Hamilton, which began, 'Soldiers of France and of the King,' and described the proposed attack on the Peninsular as 'an adventure unprecedented in modern war.'  That didn't trouble us much at the time; we were more concerned with the desire to be doing something.  We were heartily sick of training and being cooped up on a troopship."

The following is the entry for this day in the diary of Sir Ian Hamilton.  It includes the address referred to above:

21st April, 1915. S.S. "Arcadian." Lemnos. Blowing big guns. The event with which old mother time is in labour is so big that her pains are prodigious and prolonged out of all nature. So near are we now to our opening that the storm means a twenty four hours' delay.
Have issued my orders to the troops. Yesterday our plans were but plans. To-day the irrevocable steps out on to the stage.

General Headquarters,
21st April, 1915.

Soldiers of France and of the King.

Before us lies an adventure unprecedented in modern war. Together with our comrades of the Fleet, we are about to force a landing upon an open beach in face of positions which have been vaunted by our enemies as impregnable.

The landing will be made good, by the help of God and the Navy; the positions will be stormed, and the War brought one step nearer to a glorious close. "Remember," said Lord Kitchener when bidding adieu to your Commander, "Remember, once you set foot upon the Gallipoli Peninsula, you must fight the thing through to a finish."

The whole world will be watching your progress. Let us prove ourselves worthy of the great feat of arms entrusted to us.

Ian Hamilton, General.

(Editor's note: Readers may be interested in reading a newspaper article from 1916.  The article appeared in "The Queenslander" - a weekly summary and literary edition of the 'Brisbane Courier' - on April 15 1916.  Headed Lemnos, March, 1915, it tells the story of the 9th Battalion - part of the 3rd Brigade, the covering force and the first to land at Gallipoli - during its period at Lemnos.  The author is unknown, although, from the style of writing, I suspect Charles Bean who was, after all, a newspaperman. The link is here 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 20 April 1915

War Diary entry: "Orders received for disembarkation and operation Order No.1 - Attended conference with Brigade HQ."

As the day of reckoning approaches, it may be worth examining the medical arrangements for the treatment of the wounded.  Charles Bean again: "The scheme for clearing of the wounded was drafted by an officer of the General Staff, and the plan originally produced allowed for no more than 3000 casualties in the whole army; it provided one hospital ship with each landing force for the serious cases, and a few transports with temporary staffs for the lightly wounded......

At this period the commander of an army corps had no responsibility for the treatment and evacuation of wounded men......Birdwood had no authority to concern himself with this matter.  The arrangements for collecting wounded on the shore would rest with Colonel Howse, of Bridges staff, and Colonel Manders of Godley's staff.  From the beach outwards the responsibility would be entirely with GHQ and the Navy.  It was no part of Howse's duty to devise or recommend the provision of transports or hospital ships.  But he realised that the arrangements were defective, and urged this view upon the medical staff at GHQ.

The medical branch of Hamilton's Staff was represented aboard the 'Arcadian' at Lemnos by Lt Colonel Keble.......Keble himself considered the scheme for 3000 wounded inadequate.  Instructions conflicting with those already issued by the General Staff were sent out by him on April 17th......(On the evening of the 18th) General Woodward and Surgeon-General Birrell drew up their own scheme and formulated their strong objections to the original 'altogether inadequate' plan.......

The new plans, on being approved, were sent out to the divisions, but in consequence of rough weather were not delivered..... until April 22nd..........An accident of weather postponed the landing and gave two extra days for these arrangements.  Yet on April 25th and the days following it scenes of appalling suffering were directly due to the inadequacy of the medical arrangements."

Friday, April 19, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 19 April 1915

Battalion Diary, "Men employed in boats all day."

Nothing from Jack Reilly.  His next entry won't be until the 24th of April.

The planning continues. Charles Bean again:  "The northern parties of the 3rd Brigade were to reach and hold Battleship Hill, while the rest of the brigade was to seize outstanding knolls on the ridge from Scrubby Knoll to Gaba Tepe.  Seaplanes had reported that there were gun-emplacements just behind the ridge connecting it with the mainland.  With a formidable position such as this on its flank and rear, the task of the 3rd Brigade would be almost impossible.  Bridges therefore informed Colonel MacLagan (the commander of the 3rd Brigade) that he considered it important to clear Gaba Tepe
and disable any guns upon it.  MacLagan assigned to the first two companies of his right battalion - the 9th - the duty of swinging to their right immediately upon landing, and rushing the battery on the neck of Gaba Tepe, a mile south of the landing place.  The other half of the 9th was to seize a knoll (afterwards known as 'Anderson's Knoll') in the objective ridge a mile due east of the landing place; the 10th to seize a knoll and a redoubt further north on the objective ridge; and the 11th the height (later known as 'Scrubby Knoll') still further on the same ridge, and Battleship Hill on the main ridge near the point where the objective ridge joined it.  The 12th Battalion was to go ashore with the later companies of its three sister battalions, and was to form the immediate reserve of the 9th, 10th and 11th.

The 3rd Brigade was to land, not from its transports, but from three battleships and seven destroyers."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 18 April 1915

Jack Reilly's diary for this day, "General Birdwood spoke a few words to us.  He is a fine stamp of a man and one couldn't help but like him. A seaplane flew around the harbour this afternoon.  It was a fine sight."

Battalion War Diary entry, "Church parade - sent men ashore to bathe. Provided Town Guard of 50 men under AC orders."

The planning continued behind the scenes.  Charles Bean again, "Birdwood knew that there were Turkish batteries at three points in the area about his landing place; two were in the scrub of the valley half a mile inland.  The other was said to be behind the neck of land connecting Gaba Tepe with the main ridge.  Birdwood's conviction was that, if his first troops could make a surprise landing and rush these three batteries with the bayonet before dawn,
he would be able to use the troops who landed immediately after them for extending up the main ridge to the north. (See map on 17 April 1915, ed.)  He had decided to make the landing with the 1st Australian Division, following it later with the NZ&A Division.  He therefore instructed General Bridges that the covering brigade should seize and occupy the ridge from Gaba tepe towards Chunuk Bair. The rest of the Australian Division, landing immediately after it, would secure the main ridge to the north of it and attend to the left flank.  The covering brigade was to advance inland on as wide a front as possible, so that, if part of it were held up, other parts could still penetrate.  The troops were to be specially instructed to push on as rapidly as they could to the covering position on the ridge from Chunk Bair to Gaba Tepe.  In accordance with these orders General Bridges detailed the 3rd Brigade to land as the covering force.  in instructions which were drawn by him and Colonel White the main part of the brigade was ordered to push inland, rushing the batteries in the scrub and forcing its way a little over a mile from the shore to the long spur which was its objective."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Countdown to ANZAC 16 April 1915

Jack Reilly must be really tired from all the jumping in and out of boats, for again there is no entry in his diary.  

The Battalion War Diary, however, never misses a day, "Disembarked on beach with Brigade and practiced attack."

The 1st Battalion History provides us with a little more detail.  "We did it again (practiced landing, ed.) on the 16th under better conditions and in better time.  All hands had a swim, and thought of the creaming combers of Coogee and Bondi.  Stripped, the men were splendid specimens - a credit to their training and men to make Johnny Turk ponder!  This experimental landing was carried out as far as possible under conditions which could be expected at the actual landing.  Long strings of boats were towed by naval steam pinnaces, sometimes as many as ten boats, all packed with troops, being in one tow.  The pinnaces were commanded by midshipmen - we were impressed by their efficiency and by the way in which these youngsters exercised command.  The work of the Navy throughout was one of the outstanding features of the Gallipoli campaign."

Below are a few photographs, courtesy of the Australian War Memorial, which illustrate the preparations and training.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 15 April 1915

Jack Reilly's diary has no entry for this day and the Battalion War Diary's comment is a terse "Same routine for the men."

Meanwhile, we return to the Official History where Charles Bean continues the narrative.

"From the moment the 'Queen' returned to Lemnos the staffs of Admiral Thursby, General Birdwood and General Bridges were perpetually closeted in the 'Minnewaska', working out the plans for the Gaba Tepe landing.  Transport after transport arrived.  The troops in harbour were practiced in climbing down the ships' sides in full kit on swinging rope ladders, in rowing, and in landing themselves, their guns and their horses.  Meanwhile in the 'Minnewaska the staff worked day and night over its papers..........

General Hamilton's scheme was that the Australians should land at daybreak, after a heavy bombardment of the hills and shore by the Navy. General Birdwood had also originally been offered a plan by which an old merchant steamer, carrying supporting infantry, should immediately after the first landing be run ashore against the shoals of the beach, and a stage consisting of lighters (barges,ed.) run out from her to the shore.......It was, however, refused by Birdwood, who was afraid of his men being hung up in the shallows off the beach.  His great desire was to make the Australian attack, as far as it was possible at this stage, a simple surprise.  He strongly urged upon Hamilton to allow him to land his men before daylight and without any preliminary bombardment.

Sir Ian agreed.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 17 April 1915

On this day Jack Reilly had a little to say, "Went ashore today & had a good walk around island. It is very pretty country. The hills are very green & covered with pretty wild flowers. Everywhere are green fields of wheat and growing thickly between the stalks are beautiful red poppies.
Lemnos route march
We marched through the village of Madros. The houses are built of stone with tiled roof are very close together but look clean & picturesque & remind me of picture I have seen of a Swiss village. There are soldiers everywhere, English, French & Australians. The Harbour is a fine sight from the hills being almost crammed with troopships, man of wars, submarines, etc. we return to the ship about 3pm. Our chaps captured a Turk spy yesterday & brought him aboard."

The Battalion War Diary states simply, "Took the battalion ashore to bathe and route march."

During this period planning was continuing.  The chance of a surprise attack had been seriously compromised by the total lack of secrecy or discretion in the early stages of the Dardanelles campaign.  Numerous attempts had been made to breach Turkish defences through Naval attacks and small landings.  Supplies and equipment were being purchased from nearby ports and troops had been in Lemnos for many weeks.  Enemy spy's would have made light work of reporting the build-up.  

Charles Bean continues, "At the same time a chance did exist that the Turks might not guess the exact time or places of the present landing.  There was still room for a partial surprise.  Accordingly Birdwood planned to attack Gaba Tepe suddenly and silently in the hours befor dawn.  The moon sets directly opposite the Gaba Tepe coast-line.  On the night originally proposed for the landing it would set some hours before dawn.  It was decided that, after the moon was down, the ships should steam in the last few miles and send off their boats to reach the land shortly after 3.30 - an hour before the dawn.....

Birdwood was not quite so sanguine as Hamilton and Braithwaite in regards to the Australian force reaching and storming Mal Tepe. 'I might find this difficult,' he wrote, 'as Mal Tepe is likely to be commanded by guns from all directions, and I shall really not know in which direction to expect attack.'   He decided that his first task was clear. It was to seize the mass of the mountain comprising 971 and its seaward spurs.  Hamilton's plans had suggested that he should in the first instance occupy at least the central portion of the main ridge about Chunuk Bair and what was later known at Battleship Hill, and their spurs running to the sea on on either flank.  This arrowhead of ridges would form a strong covering position, and Hamilton left it to Birdwood's discretion whether to extend it by seizing the actual summit of 971 or not."
Anzac landing plan

Countdown To ANZAC 14 April 1915

The fleet at Lemnos (AWM)
Jack Reilly's diary entry for the day: Still anchored in harbour of Ladros. Great fleet of troopships, man of wars, submarines, etc in port awaiting orders. Went ashore at Lemnos today in ships boat & marched through Greek village. Very picturesque & clean, a contrast to arab villages we been accustomed to see. Saw a number of humped cattle. Had lunch ashore & then returned to Minnewaska. Met Tom Whiteley from Bega & Colin Hall from Attunga aboard.
The War Diary entry for this day is brief: Same routine for the men. I return to ship at 4pm (from HMS Queen and the tour of the Gallipoli coast.

Hill 971
Charles Bean's account follows from where we left off yesterday....."The tangle of distant hills, covered with dark scrub, floating past mile after mile, gave way to the Suvla Plain with the white houses and minarets of the two Anafarta villages.  All eyes were turned on the dark scrub-covered mass of hill which rose to the south of these villages - Hill 971. Its many folded, crumpled valleys and white landslides presently subsided into the lower and smoother flank which ended in the cliffs and jutting promontory of Gaba Tepe.  Just north of Gaba Tepe was to be the place of landing.  Behind it the land lay low, and gave an apparently easy passage across the peninsular.  Those on board knew that a large camp of turkish troops was in the neighbourhood, but there was no sign of it from the sea.  Not a figure of a man moved.  The white ruins of the Gaba Tepe guardhouse stood deserted in the sun.  There was no sign of fresh trenches.  Only across the dark almost perpendicular sides of the Kilid Bahr Plateau, frowning over the southern end of
Colonel MacLagan
(Aust. Dictionary of Biography)
the lowland, there ran new seams of white. Colonel MacLagan, who commanded the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade, which was to make the first landing and then deal with Gaba Tepe, kept his glasses upon that low, grim promontory on his prospective right flank.  The barbed wire entanglement on the beach was plainly visible.  
'If that place is strongly held with guns,' he thought, 'it will be almost impregnable for my fellows.'

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Countdown To ANZAC 13 April 1915

1st Battalion at landing practice,
Lemnos. (AWM)
More of the same.  The War Diary for this day states, "Practised embarking and disembarking. I left (ie the author of the diary, possibly battalion OIC, Colonel Dobbin, ed.) in HMS Queen to reconnoitre the shore of Gallipoli." 

Jack Reilly must have been too busy jumping in and out of boats. There is no contribution from him for the 13th.

HMS Queen
Charles Bean, however, the official historian, describes some of the events on this day, "On the afternoon of April 13th, the Queen (HMS Queen, not HMS Queen Elizabeth, ed.) sailed with the Staff, brigadiers and battalion commanders on board.  After she had left port, Admiral Thursby explained to them the plans. The ship steamed slowly through the night to the head of the Gulf of Saros, and next morning was moving at ten knots past a strange coast a mile and a half away. It was the Gallipoli Peninsula."

It is perhaps worth noting at this stage that, throughout his diary, Jack Reilly was very thorough in mentioning the names of people with whom he comes into contact. In all, there are 38 people whose names he provides (excluding the famous such as Generals, etc). .

I have been successful in tracing the fate of 37 of those names, thanks to the excellent records made available by the Australian War Memorial and the National Archives of Australia. 

Aboard the Minnewaska with Jack, probably also jumping in and out of boats, are a number of those mates who were part of the 1st Battalion at the time.  We will discuss their fate later, but for now, these chaps were, most likely, the following:

  • Major Ross Campbell Dawson was a 34 year old accountant when he enlisted on 27 August 1914.
  • Major Blair Inskip Swannell was an engineer and a veteran of the Boer War.
  • 321 - Sgt Edward Rinnex Larkin was the 34 year old Member for Willoughby in the NSW Legislative Assembly.  He enlisted on 21 August 1914.
  • 134 - James William Adams was a 22 year old plumber when he enlisted on 22 August 1914.
  • 188 – Geoffrey Ronald Lomas joined the 1st Battalion on the 1st September 1914. He was 19 years of age and had been working as a stockman. 
  • 201 – John Cairns was a 29 year old bookkeeper from Goondiwindi. He joined the 1st Battalion on the 4th of September 1914. 
  • 202 – David William Carter enlisted with the 1st Battalion on the 3rd of September 1915. He was 22 years of age and had been employed as a railway shunter. .
  • 140 – Leslie James Billington was a 22 year old English boy when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 24th of August 1914. 
  • 178 – Allen Reginald Tindale was 19 years of age when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 1st of September 1914. Describing himself as a clerk when he enlisted.
  • 179 - Harry Morell Reeve was a 20 year old shearer upon his enlistment in the 1st Battalion on the 1st of September 1914. 
  • 100 – Charles Lee was a horse driver and just 21 years of age when he joined the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914. 
  • 189 - Sidney John Samson was 24 years old and a mechanic when he enlisted in the 1st Battalion in 1914. 
  • 1154 – Norman Byron Fraser joined A Company of the 1st Battalion on the 26th of August 1914. He was 19 years old, from Byron Bay and had been working as a clerk. 
  • 97 – Patrick Joseph Reilly (Jack's cousin) was a 37 year old platelayer from Bungendore when he enlisted in the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914. 
  • 341 – Hector McKenzie was 28 and a Launch Proprietor when he joined A Company, 1st Battalion, on the 24th of August 1914. 
  • 127 – Samuel Weingott was 21 years of age when he enlisted on the 24th of August 1914. A tailor's cutter from Sydney when he joined the 1st Battalion.
  • 1250 – Richard William Edwards was an engine driver who was born in Wales in 1880. He joined the 1st Battalion on the 22nd of October 1914.
  • 94 – Sandoe Joseph Henry Dietze, AKA Joseph Henry Dietze and Joseph Henry Sandoe. He was born in Cornwall in 1894 as Joseph Henry Sandoe but due to his mother's remarriage early in his life, he preferred to be known by his stepfathers name of Dietze. He joined the 1st Battalion on the 17th of August 1914. 
This list serves to remind us that the Australian Army was made up of ordinary folk, people like you and I. They felt there was a job to do and they were about to do it. The cost was not considered.

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