Newspaper men's experiences of Gallipoli


Two former members of the staff of the Luton News/Saturday Telegraph gave accounts of their experiences of Gallipoli. Pte Claud Gilder, 4049, of 35 Moor Street, Luton, was so far unscathed bar a scratch, while Pte H. Adams was wounded in the leg and in hospital in Malta.

Pte Gilder wrote: "We embarked upon the Union Castle line Braemar Castle and had an uneventful voyage to the Dardanelles, stopping at Malta and Alexandria. We were allowed to go ashore at the latter place, and I took advantage of this and had a jolly good dinner whilst I could, for it was the best dinner I shall have for several months ahead.

Gallipoli scenery"All surplus kit and kit bags were dropped here, and 172 men and three officers were left to act as first line reinforcements. By the way the Battalion went for a route march around the town in the morning, and had quite a most enthusiastic reception when it got into the French quarters.

"After calling at ----- to receive orders, we were taken ashore at our landing place by lighters, and completed our voyage at 12 noon on Wednesday, August 11th.

"Up to Saturday night we bivouacked on the coast, and as we were close to the sea we took advantage of this and went bathing two or three times a day. We were subjected to shell fire one or two days, and it was rare sport ducking your heads and getting into the trenches which we had hastily dug. There were no casualties caused by this shelling, and everybody took it very lightly.

"On Sunday, August 15th, we were ordered to support certain divisions already in the firing line. We had not proceeded more than a mile from camp when we came under heavy rifle fire from the enemy, and from that time onwards it has been a veritable hell. There was a grand bayonet charge by our battalion, and we took Hill ----, but at terrible cost.

"That Sunday afternoon was an afternoon of horrors, for the enemy's artillery had our range to a nicety, and shell after shell burst with terrible effect among the troops. One of my very narrow escapes - an I've had several, I assure you - was when a shell burst above our heads and knocked out the men on either side of me, one, an officer (Lieut F. W. Ballance) being wounded in the leg, and the other, Signaller F. E. Smith, being killed. The bullet went clean through his body. The shrapnel just grazed my arm.

"The officers, NCOs and men have and are maintaining a splendid spirit throughout the whole operations...I cannot give you an accurate list of casualties."

After mentioning many officers who were killed or wounded, Pte Gilder says: "We started burying bodies on Tuesday, in the early hours of the morning, and I helped in the burial of Capt Cumberland, and as his body was being lowered into the crude grave I thought of his people at home. I had to turn my head to hide the tears in my eyes. What an insignificant grave for such a splendid officer! A bit of a stone as a memorial, and a lid of a box with the simple words, 'Capt B. C. Cumberland, 1/5th Bedford Regt,' and yet how magnificent!"

Pte Adams wrote: "I am still in the land of the living, but have got a wing up. I soon caught it... We managed to land all right. The ground here is very rough. It is like a big heath, only it is covered with big rocks and hills (picture).

"There is a big hill about seven miles in where all the fighting is going on. Of course, the Turks are all hidden behind the rocks on the top. Our worst enemies are the snipers. They are scattered all over the place. They paint themselves green and you can never see them.

"We first went into the trenches on Saturday, August 13th - the reserve trenches, of course, but they are worse than the firing line trenches. At night we had a job taking sandbags up to the trenches, a very risky job with so many snipers about, but we managed to come through all right, although we had a lot of 'near ones'.

"We came out about seven o'clock next morning and got shelled going back. We had been back about half an hour when we had the order to get ready for an attack on the big hill. We only had just time to get a cup of tea and have one or two biscuits, and then we went off.

"We only went about a mile before we were under rifle fire. Talk about an attack! I didn't imagine it was as bad as that. I carried a machine gun weighing about 70 lbs for about seven miled up hill, under fire all the time, and the sun was awful.

"We managed to get in a good position, and we let them have it. I was absolutely done up, though, and so the rest of our team. The officer was working the gun when I came away, but I don't think he would be there long, as they had got us set... I was sent to take a message to the CO, and I got shot through the left leg. The bullet went right through. I walked to the R.A.M.C., and was sent straight to a Red Cross ship and brought to Malta.

"Our battalion was cut up a good bit, but they made a good name for themselves... Capt Cumberland was killed, besides two more senior captains."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: September 4th, 1915.]