Medicals under fire in Gallipoli


Mrs Bunnage, of 22 Henry Street, Luton, whose husband and two sons are with the colours, has just received from her son Victor a long descriptive account of the experiences of the 1/1st Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C., whose headquarters are at Grove Road, Luton, from the time they left England until, with other units, they were withdrawn from Gallipoli.

After describing an exciting trip in the Mediterranean and a difficult landing, Pte Victor Bunnage says: "When we woke up next morning we could see what kind of country we had to make our homes in what was then an unknown period. The country was all hills and beach...and the enemy trenches were on top of the hills within sight.

"They could have blown us to kingdom come as easily as could be but I, with all others, will say that the Turks were fair and kept their shells away from our Red Cross as much as they possibly could. The tree were like dwarf holly bushes, with an acorn kind of fruit drawing on them."

Of a certain gully he says: "This was a very hot place, and I daresay you have read in the local paper some of our experiences in that gully. In fact, all our chaps who were fortunate enough to 'get one' got it there.

"I was going towards headquarters when a shell hit the top of the bank, burying me in the dirt. My pal on the other side had a very narrow escape, a bit of rock missing him by a few inches.

"We had three different camps - the last only about 600 yards from the trenches, and in the daytime we were busy dodging shells, and at night-time stray bullets. While at this camp the whole corps had a narrow escape. We were in the midst of a church parade when a shrapnel shell burst in a barn affair used as an advanced dressing station only a few yards from the whole crowd. Nobody was hurt.

"There was another Field Ambulance with us at the time, and the amusing part was that we were singing 'Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid' and we showed that we could be very quick in getting to a safer place."

Pte Bunnage mentions some other thrilling experiences which he says will give him something to talk about when he gets home. Of the work which had to be done, he mentions times when there were only two men to a stretcher, with a patient to be carried about four miles.

What made conditions worse was that water was so scarce - a pint a day per man for drinking, washing, shaving, cooking etc - and sickness took so many men off the strength.

"The thing that we were hit up by most was going without bread. Sometimes we were a fortnight without any, and when we did get some it was only a slice or two. So we had to live on the soldiers' favourite (!) dish - bully beef and biscuits. And just as ovens were being put up and we were getting tinned things, we had to come away."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: February 28th, 1916]