The Great War, I was there - Part 20

Part 21 of THE GREAT WAR: I WAS THERE!On Sale Everywhere Tuesday, February 2 1 Leaves from the Editor’s Note-Book (Continued from page foil this w r app erR eaving England in June 1915, and journeying via Egypt, Mr. Webster soon found himself in the Aegean Sea and landed alongside the “River Clyde.” Marching in single file up Dead Man’s Gully with a full pack, pick or a shovel and extra ammunition, he marched for seven miles without firing a shot, although bullets were whizzing overhead all the time. That night they made dug-outs for themselves in the cliffs, and next morning advanced again to Achi Baba. a^FTER week with no sleep and only a pint of water a day, there came the advance. In less than an hour they occupied the Turks’ trenches, and the fresh aspect of this campaign incomes the part of his story which deals with the immense difficulties of getting the sick and wounded away from the intrenches Gallipoli. Three hours on a stretcher to reach the dressing station, and then “%e got to the next place after a risky and terrible time—-how any­body did escape was a miracle 1 Shells were sent after us across the open ground which is overlooked by Achi Baba. Here I was examined by some special doctor and was then taken to a large dug-out to wait for the motor van. While waiting here I looked out and saw a shell burst close by, burying two men. ...They started to shell us once more as we passed over some open ground, and the van was riddled with bullets. However, we were soon in the clearing station close to the beach. ...”The next day he was taken onto a hospital ship and he “Assays— 1 looked out to sea 1 noticed a Hospital Ship in the distance, and near the little wooden landing on the beach was the keel of the battleship “Majestic," which had been turned turtle by a submarine. A British aeroplane had just been brought down and fell into the sea two British submarines were moving to and fro through the rough waters.. I was one of the first to leave the clearing station for the boats, but we had to return owing to the shell-fire from the Turk, which was now heavy. Several boats were blown to pieces, others sunk, and those that remained hurried away out of range of the guns workingmen on the beach made a dash for their dug-outs, not before the shouts went up for stretcher-bearers, as someone had been hit. It was about mid-day when the Turks gave up, and the boats returned to take us to the hospital ship, which was waiting well out of range of the guns. We had neared the boats, though everywhere was quiet, but as soon as we had got into them the Turks again opened fire. ...There were about 200 of us— Scotch. British, Australians, Indians and New Zealanders— the shells began to burst all round us and we got a good wetting from the splashing of the shells in the water how anyone escaped is really a miracle. However, we got a good tossing before we reached the hospital ship, and after being taken on board we were soon on our way to Lemnos. ...”Thus my correspondent ingot safety to Lemnos, and being convalescent in a few weeks found himself back again on the cliffs of Anzac, where he joined in the tremendous attacks on Walkers Ridge and Lone Pine Ridges. Mr. Webster seems to have had every kind of experience that is possible, for he was with the New Zealanders at Quinn’s Post, took part in the advance on Gaba Tepe, and had a miraculous escape in the Valley of Death and on Suvla Plain. It would give me great pleasure to quote much more of Mr. Webster’s thrilling diary, but it would mean in some degree going over the ground that we have already covered in the pages of the Gallipoli section of I Was There, and I am afraid that space cannot possibly be spared. He took his part in the final evacuation at Suvla and in the end came safely back in February 1916, after nearly six months under fire. It was not until March 1918 that he finally returned home, after having seen further heavy service in Mesopotamia in the attempt to relieve General Townshend at Kut. | t might well be supposed that I Was There is a publication primarily for men. Recent correspondence, however, makes it abundantly clear that not only are women keenly interested in our publication, but that more of them than might be imagined are actually able to say“ 1 was there.” We have, of course, included articles by Lady Rhondda and Miss May Sinclair and other ladies on their eye-witness experiences in the War. Among other women who tell me that they “were there ”is Mrs. G. Chaplin, of Streatham. She was inborn Belgium, and lived at Nimy— “20 minutes' walk,” she says, “from Mons.” She saw the battle of Mons from a resident civilian’s viewpoint:“ I shall never forget that horrifying day— August 23,1914. Eighty houses in my village were burnt systematically by the Germans and 21 people killed.” She adds that “Mons is surrounded by a number of small villages which suffered very heavily during the battle, but I can assure you that not a single window was broken in Mons itself.” ^NOTHER woman reader, Mrs. B.E. Harvey, of West Ham, writes in reply to Sergeant Goodman’s letter, published in the Editor’s Note-Book for Part 11, with regard to the V.C.s received by his battery at Le Cateau. Driver Cobey’s mother, she says, did not receive the V.C. for her son, who was Mrs. Harvey’s cousin. The family would like to thank Sergeant Goodman for outpointing that 4 and not 3 V.C.s should have been awarded. My correspondent would also like to know whether the soldier with the white hat-band in the centre of the photo in page 44, Part 1 (“To BeHeld to the Last Man ”),is a R.F.A. man. If so, it is Driver Cobey— not“ Scoby,” as Sergeant Goodman states. Perhaps some reader can help her to verify this point. Many are the half-told stones of the Great War, anecdotes that usually end :“...and from that today this I’ve never found out what finally happened to So-and-so.” Here again I Was There is of continuous help. Driver J. F. Cross, A.S.C., from Arnside, Westmorland, writes with reference to L. Battery, mentioned in this Note-Book in Part 10. He is therefore in company with Gunner Darbyshire, Bombardier Perrot, and Drivers Osborne and Mansfield. “On the finish of the Retreat from Mons, 1 was there,at Melun. near Paris. It was the first few days of September 1914. One afternoon our cook Elliott was preparing a meal for the Drivers. We were ordered to mash a couple more dixies of tea they were for the survivors of L. Battery, R.H.A. “Our C.O.. Major Hill (Lieut.-Col. Hill, D.S.O.), invited an officer or senior N.C.O. of the Battery to have tea with our officers 1 was too busy to get to talk with them. I visited Melun station (which was approached by stone steps— it overlooked our “camp ”)to see what I was told were parts of a gun or guns, belonging to L. Battery. They were lying stacked upon a form waiting till a train arrived to convey them to some base, to be sent over to Blighty as souvenirs. Perhaps your correspondent Mr. Mansfield or anyone who was there will kindly confirm this, as I have often wondered if the shattered tubes or guns ever did get to England." Driver Cross will be glad to know that one of these historic guns is now in the Imperial War Museum, as our photograph in page 126 shows. Many entries for the Old Comrades’ Corner are now incoming and a further selection will be printed in this page in our next Part. All Back Numbers Specially Kept in Print for New Readers ill I I I m miss l ’
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