Gallipoli Diary - October 1915

FRIDAY – 1/10/15 – Went to Hill 100 to look for targets to register but found only one on which we registered. Observed our fire on trenches on flat to North of Hill 60. During the time battery was in action it was shelled by the enemy causing one casualty. On way up Hill 100 I called on C.R.E. of 54 division and arranged about having the wires to our various observing stations put on poles while crossing flats and on cleats in the trenches.

SATURDAY – 2/10/15 – Generals Godley and Johnston inspected the guns this morning. General Godley shook hands and congratulated me on getting the Military Cross. Guns all very clean and generally in good order and condition. Will be firing on enemy trenches during the night. 5th battery coming into position near which I won this decoration. Their luck has been in so far but I think it will desert them as soon as they take up this new position.

SUNDAY – 3/10/15 – On duty all day at telephone dugout. Officers now take turns in standing by for 24 hours while at the battery. Fired the usual number of rounds at enemy trenches and registered a machine gun position and a snipers sap. Fired 2 rounds section fire on enemy trenches at 9 pm and are firing again at 5 o'clock tomorrow morning.

MONDAY – 4/10/15 – Enemy opened up a heavy artillery bombardment on our right flank this morning and to all appearances were preparing the ground for an attack. After about an hour the bombardment suddenly ceased and a heavy rifle fire was opened from our trenches. Our artillery then opened up slowly but the fire soon died away and all was quiet again. This afternoon at 3.30 I proceeded to 4th Battery observing station to observe fire on wire entanglements on Hill 60. Returned to Battery at 7 p.m.

TUESDAY – 5/10/15 – Quiet day with very little fire. Heavy N.Z. Mail in today & this made everybody particularly bright. Rumour hath it that there is a great deal of uncertainty about the attitude of Greece and Bulgaria. General opinion seems to point to the probability of Bulgaria coming into the arena against the Allies.

WEDNESDAY – 6/10/15 – Quiet all day. This afternoon I was ordered to report at the B.C's observing station to take charge until sunset. I fired 28 rounds on trenches in front of Indian brigade and on screened machine guns. I also found the corrector for the No.80 fuze. This is the first time I have ranged for a corrector on my own.

THURSDAY – 7/10/15 – Things very slow. Lieut. Woods from this battery ordered to report to 1st Battery where he will be stationed for a short time. This evening a heavy fire broke out on right flank about 8 o'clock. We do not know the cause but expect the enemy were executing some move or other, as one of our warships had her searchlight playing on the flat beyond Lone Pine Ridge and put in some quick firing on that locality.

FRIDAY – 8/10/l5 – Quiet day today. This evening about 8 o’clock a terrific storm came up from the S.W. causing considerable damage to our sandbag homes with their water-proof sheet roofs. My dug-out had one side almost completely blown in and the roof so damaged as to let the rain in and make it uninhabitable. Will spend the night in an undamaged dugout belonging to one of the gunners. I now have command of the left section in place of Lieut. Woods who has gone to 1st battery.

SATURDAY – 9/10/15 — Beach presented a wonderful sight this morning. It seems that during the storm a ship laden with timber went to pieces and all the wreckage including the timber cargo was cast up on the beach which was strewn with timber for two or three miles. The men lost no time in commandeering what they required to make their dugouts comfortable. Went to 4th battery observing station at 2.30 p.m. to observe fire on barb wire entanglements on Hill 60. When firing finished went to see C.R.E. N.Z. who had sent battery a memo. re timber on beach. I was able to come to a satisfactory arrangement with him so that our men are being allowed to retain the timber they secured. Word received about 8 p.m. that enemy are expected to launch a gas attack. We are ready to open fire at first sign of gas.

SUNDAY – 10/10/15 – This morning went to C.R.E.N.Z. and obtained a chit for further timber for strengthening gun pits. This afternoon I came forward to spend a week in Gurkha trenches as F.O.O. shifted observing station from trenches at Susak Kuyu to lower slopes of Hill 60 where I can get a better view of enemy trenches on flat. Observed our fire on these trenches, battery firing about 30 rounds. Gas scare last evening is thought to have resulted from one of our stray bullets piercing a container. The gas made itself evident to our troops on Hill 60 and this shows us that the enemy intend to use this method of warfare should an opportunity present itself.

MONDAY – 11/10/l5 – Quiet day except for a few 6" shells which enemy dropped too close to be pleasant about 9 a.m. Battery fired a few rounds on enemy trenches on flat this afternoon.

TUESDAY – 12/10/15 – Another quiet day. Last night we twice had occasion to fire on the enemy who were working in front of their trenches in the open evidently erecting barb wire to strengthen their position. We apparently did some damage as we could hear a regular babble of voices mingled with cries coming from the enemy trenches after each occasion on which we fired. Enemy can be heard mining on Hill 60 and we expect they might discharge a mine and attack any time.

WEDNESDAY — 13/10/15 — Enemy shelled our trenches again this morning with 6" high explosive. This afternoon one of our aeroplanes caused a little excitement. Evidently compelled to come down owing to trouble he flew so low over the Turkish lines as to draw from them a terrific rifle fire. He apparently escaped undamaged however as he came down well within our own lines and both the pilot and observer alighted seemingly unhurt. Enemy then shelled the machine so heavily as to break parts of it with shrapnel and compel those in charge to leave it until dark before attempting to remove it to safe quarters.

THURSDAY – 14/10/15 – Damaged aeroplane gone this morning so conclude it was got safely away last night. Fired as usual on enemy trenches on flat and drew their fire on to my observing station without however doing any more damage than compelling me to use a periscope to save my head.

FRIDAY – 15/10/15 – All quiet save for the usual bit of artillery duelling. Last night enemy were again working in front of their trenches so we put a round or two into them and successfully stopped their enterprise. Lieut. Johnson of 6th Battery came up to-day to get me to show him round. I took him to a bombing sap only 15 yds from the enemy and scared him a bit when he saw how badly things were knocked about and with blood over everything. I expect he will soon get used to it though and will not turn a hair at sights which at ordinary times would make a chap's blood run cold.

SATURDAY – 16/10/15 – A dull day both for weather and action. This evening a new officer from 6th Battery put in an appearance to take Lieut. Johnson’s place. As he wants me to show him round in the morning I have told him to be up bright and early so that we could do the rounds of the trenches before I was relieved. Am looking forward with keen interest to see how the trip will affect his nervous system. I delight in taking these new chaps round to all the ticklish places where they are sure to see something to make their hair stand on end.

SUNDAY – 17/10/15 – Took Lieut. Cuthbertson round the trenches this morning & had my usual bit of fun. After I was relieved I went to visit friends in 6th Battery, which had just arrived. Found several Dunedin chaps & was jolly glad to see them. I am at present the only officer with the battery itself, as all the others are away observing or on other jobs. I will be by myself for 2 or 3 days and will be a "big chief."

MONDAY – 18/10/15 – Rained fairly heavily but dugout held all right and let in very little water. Three men arrested for a certain offence and as I am the only officer here at present they came up before me for trial. I found them not guilty and dismissed the charges. To-day and tomorrow are Turkish feast days so we expect they may make some sort of a demonstration. If they do we are ready for them. Weather very cold. Some 6" shells fired at us to-day fell very close to guns but did no damage.

TUESDAY – 19/10/15 – Quiet day. Fired usual rounds at enemy trenches. Navy have been boasting for some time that they would be through the narrows by 20th inst. All hands are wondering to-day if this will prove true. Tried a gunner for refusing to obey an order from an N.C.O. As this is a very serious charge on active service I did not sentence him but remanded him for the Major. He will probably be severely punished and be chained to gunwheel for a certain time each day.

WEDNESDAY – 20/10/15 – Fired usual number of rounds on enemy trenches. Prisoner under arrest for disobeying an order from an N.C.O. tried by Major Standish to-day and given 10 days No.2 Field Punishment which I consider very light in view of the nature of the offence on active service.

THURSDAY – 21/10/15 – Lieut. Haughton returned to-day with canteen stores from Imbros. He was successful in his mission and managed to secure a good assortment which will help to get the men back into good health. A gunner is still on the Island endeavouring to make cash purchases of figs, potatoes, tomatoes &c.

FRIDAY – 22/10/15 – Reported at B.C. Station to-day and ordered to check registration of our targets and mark them carefully on trench map for information of Indian brigade. I accordingly proceeded to Hill 100 and made a start on the above work, finding the job a little more difficult to do than I at first thought. Rain commenced just as I finished and I was wet through before I got back to the battery.

SATURDAY – 23/10/15 – Continued re-registering trenches to-day from 4th battery observing station. Weather very cold with rain towards evening. Standing shivering in the rain made me decide to start smoking and accordingly I am now on the lookout for a pipe so that I may indulge in the weed. Confirmed my observations of yesterday and made others which I will confirm from Susak Kuyu tomorrow.

SUNDAY – 24/10/15 – This afternoon I went to Susak Kuyu where I had ordered a line to be laid in the morning to confirm observations made yesterday at 4th battery observation station. While there I registered a new communication trench on Hill 60 in readiness for the projected attack on that posn.

MONDAY – 25/10/15 – Quiet day at battery with only the usual firing in the afternoon. Wrote battery diary up for last ten days or so taking my information from daily reports to headquarters.

TUESDAY – 26/10/15 – Heavy gale blowing all day making things in general very unpleasant. Sand about our position continually shifting and blowing off the roofs of the gun pits. Wind undermined one wall of our dug-out and caused it to crack making an opening about a foot wide through which the sand simply streamed. We managed to patch it up a bit but I am afraid the whole thing will have to be rebuilt.

SATURDAY – 30/10/15 – Ordered to report at B.C. Station to take charge during the afternoon. While there an order came through asking us to co-operate with 6th Howitzers in bombardment of Hill 60. Left to my own devices to decide where to shell to best advantage I decided to use shrapnel on communication trenches in order to catch the enemy as they were making for shelter. O.C. afterwards told me that I had hit on the most effective plan so I felt quite pleased.

SUNDAY – 31/10/15 – Relieved Lieut. Haughton at forward station in Gurkha front line trenches. He reports things as being very slow but as an attack on Hill 60 may take place any day now it is quite possible that I may see some excitement.

Sixty-pounder

Background

By October, the Allied troops on Gallipoli numbered around 114,000 (they would have been over 200,000 if the untis had been at full strength).

Through October and November the question of whether Gallipoli should be evacuated was discussed in London.

Glossary

C.R.E.: Corps of Royal Engineers?

A.L.H.: Australian Light Horse