Gallipoli Diary - September 1915

WEDNESDAY – 1/9/15 – Working last night as usual. We have four nights in which to complete our gunpits. Men resting during day or gathering gear for making dug outs. It seems funny for a start to be an officer with an orderly to do all sorts of little odd jobs and messages instead of having to do then oneself. The best part so far is that I have my meals served up to me without having to cook my own or wash my things afterwards.

THURSDAY – 2/9/15 – Digging again last night until daylight this morning. Went with Lieut. Daly to Anzac to arrange for sand bags and timber for making gun pits. Returned about 6.30 p.m. after a successful day so far as getting what we wanted was concerned.

FRIDAY – 3/9/15 – Pits finished and guns placed in position last night. This morning Major Standish, Lieut. Daly and myself went up to front line trenches of Gurkhas whom we are supporting in order to select an observation station for the F.O.O. and to have a look at the enemy trenches facing them. Found a good observation station which however is covered by snipers thus making it necessary to use every care in the operation of a periscope to avoid having it destroyed and with it the face or eyes of the observer. Tonight I go up and sleep with Daly in the trenches to be ready to register tomorrow.

SATURDAY – 4/9/15 – Daly and I startled out of our sleep by sharp burst of rifle fire about midnight. Nothing in the way of an attack came, however, and the crack of rifles soon died away except of course for the snap, snap, snap of snipers on both sides. Registered 4 trench targets and one redoubt. Returned to Battery about 3 p.m.

SUNDAY – 5/9/15 – Registered two targets this morning with No.4 gun. I had charge of battery while Major and other officers were up at observing station. Enemy found No.4 gun and tried to put it out of action with about 30 rounds of percussion but failed.

MONDAY – 6/9/15 – Came up to Ghurka front trenches to-day and will be stationed here as observing officer for three days. Things are very quiet and although the enemy is only 300 to 400 yds. in front of our trenches very little rifle fire has been going on all day. I observed the enemy digging a second line of trenches about 200 yds. behind their first and reported this to the major who thought it was useless to fire on them. Fired two rounds at 8.30 p.m. on enemy picquet post; this evidently annoyed them as they answered from their front line trenches with a sharp burst of rifle fire.

TUESDAY – 7/9/15 – Very little happened this morning. Turks shelled the flat about 1 p.m. but did not worry our trenches. A hostile aeroplane flew over us about 5 p.m. and as he appeared to be fairly low I had a few shots at the pilot with a rifle but failed to hit him. At 6 p.m. this evening the enemy shelled Susak Kuyu (the well to which the Gurkhas have sapped for water) killing one and wounding two of the 10 G. We registered during the afternoon on the communication trench leading to Turkish redoubt on Hill 60. Fired two rounds into enemy picquet post 9 p.m. and were answered with rifle fire from their trenches. Have made a cover for my head so that I can raise it slightly over the top of the parapet without being easily seen.

WEDNESDAY – 8/9/15 – Rose at daylight this morning to take magnetic bearing to a gun (hostile) which was seen firing by some Austn. and Derby. Yeo. Officers. Nothing very much doing to-day. Fired a few rounds on Turkish trenches in front of Gurkha lines to get a register of proper distribution of fire for which I corrected each gun as the shells fell. Our shells went right into the enemy trenches and must have done considerable damage, especially the high explosive.

THURSDAY – 9/9/15 – Relieved by Lieut. Wood this morning about 10 a.m. and after pointing out to him our targets and various places in the enemvs lines to be closely watched. I proceeded to the B.C's station to report. Spent the afternoon superintending the making of a dugout for the Lieutenants and also the building of an Officer's mess dugout. This evening we fired on troops moving along Anafarta road and must have caused a good number of casualties as our shells appeared to burst well amongst them.

FRIDAY – 1/9/15 – A very quiet day with “Nothin' doin’ ”. Lieut. Daly and I were ordered to go to Hill 100 to observe our guns fire on the Turkish trenches there, but later the order was countermanded and we are to go tomorrow. Fired on troops and mules on Anafarta road and also on enemy trenches in front of Gurkha lines.

SATURDAY – 11/9/15 – Lieut. Daly and myself proceeded to Hill 100 this morning to find an observation station from which to observe our fire on the enemy trenches. By the time our telephone men had got the wire laid it was after 12 o'clock and we had finished registering by 1.30 p.m. During our journey up to Hill 100 we were shelled in one particular spot which we had to pass but although the enemy fired four shells at us none of them took effect although they gave us a good fright and made us cover the open ground in well under standard time.

SUNDAY – 12/9/15 – Everything quiet during morning. This afternoon Lieut Daly and myself proceeded to Howitzer observing station above Hill 60 to register some barbed wire entanglements which we were to bombard from 6 to 6.30. The bombardment was not so successful as we expected but we smashed up a good deal of the wire and when the Turks come out at night to try and repair it they will be shot down by our snipers.

MONDAY – 13/9/15 – As the Major had some business at headquarters I was detailed to take his place in his observing station for the day. This meant that to-day I had complete control of the fire of the whole battery and could fire on anything which I deemed worth a shell. The only target I found, however, was some transport moving along Anafarta Road and I managed to plant two shells right into them, evidently causing considerable damage. I also picked up a skilfully hidden tunnel which is evidently a leader to a communication trench and on which we will register tomorrow if the Major thinks it important enough.

TUESDAY – 14/9/15 – Today the battery was in action on three or four occasions. Most of the activity is now confined to artillery and one seldom hears a rifle or machine gun, both sides fighting with the “long arm” of the army. This morning I gathered together some records and wrote up a little of the battery war diary which has been neglected since Augt.16 and which has now been handed over to me to keep. Registered on the tunnel which I discovered yesterday.

WEDNESDAY – 15/9/15 – A fairly heavy rain fell this morning and it seems as though the weather has really broken for the winter. Very little has been doing to-day and our battery has not so far (5 p.m.) fired a shot. This evening Gr. Drew was shot through the heart and buried by 4th Austn. Field Hosptl.

THURSDAY – 16/9/15 – Nothing special doing to-day although enemy has dropped several large high explosive shells near us without doing any damage whatever. A number of these visitors failed to explode which goes to show that Turkey has defective ammunition. Large dirigible balloon or airship appeared near here about 4 p.m. It was evidently British as it hovered about the warships and then entered what appeared to be a great floating shed.

FRIDAY – 17/9/15 – Things very quiet. This afternoon Lieut. Woods and I went to Hill 100 to register trenches on Hill 60. While there I saw a trench containing a number of Turks on whom I could get enfilade fire to bear so I borrowed a rifle from the infantry and fired 10 rounds right into them. I feel sure that I must have done some damage.

SATURDAY – 18/9/15 – Nothing doing all day until about 6 p.m. when the enemy made a demonstration on Hill 60. We quietly got to work with shrapnel on their support trenches and the demonstration soon ceased. One of their heavy guns fired a few 6" shells on us but did no damage.

SUNDAY – 19/9/15 – Not a rifle or a gun could be heard on this front this morning and everything felt and looked like a beautiful peaceful Sunday morning at home until the enemy spoiled it by sending us about 60 6" shells. Fortunately these did not appear to be filled with anything stronger than gun powder so that the effect was a long way more local than if they had been high explosive. The only damage done was to the telephone dug-out which was destroyed.

MONDAY – 20/9/15 – Informed last night that I have been awarded the Military Cross for Augt. 28. Cannot understand why I've got it but can't hand it back now. Things very quiet until this afternoon when we fired 40 rounds on enemy trenches on flat in front of Gurkha lines.

TUESDAY – 21/9/15 – Came up to Gurkha lines to relieve Lt Haughton. Will be up here for 4 days. Observed heavy loopholes in course of construction in enemy trenches and reported to B.C. Observed fire of battery in enemy trenches in front of Ghurka and Scottish Horse lines. Battery firing daily quota of 40 rounds. During observation I saw several good sniping corners in Turk trenches and will have a go at some of the men in them tomorrow if they don’t get me first.

WEDNESDAY – 22/9/15 – Up shortly after daylight this morning spotting with a telescope for one of the Gurkha officers who was doing a bit of sniping. We did not have much luck but managed to get one Turk between us. Very little activity today. Observed usual fire of battery – 40 rounds.

THURSDAY – 23/9/15 – Nothing doing. Battery did not fire on any trenches in my field of view so I was not called upon to observe. Enemy shelled our trenches where I was but did not do any damage.

FRIDAY – 24/9/15 – No activity on either side. There were a few bursts of rifle fire last night. The first two woke me up as I thought an attack was coming, but after I had found that it was nothing to be afraid of my mind was easy and the bursts of fire ceased to wake me.

SATURDAY – 25/9/15 – Relieved this morning by Lieut. Woods. Gurkhas marked down an enemy machine gun last night by its flashes. I directed fire on to it scoring a direct hit.

SUNDAY – 26/9/15 – Very slow to-day as far as fighting goes. Fired 40 rounds on Turkish trenches facing the Indian Brigade. We have instructions to tickle the enemy up a little bit every day by firing 40 rounds of shrapnel into his trenches each day.

MONDAY – 27/9/15 – Things much as per usual with nothing very exciting except that there has been a big advance in France. We all sincerely hope this is true as it will go a long way towards shortening the war. Tonight as we were having tea (or dinner, just as you like) about 7.30 a heavy rifle fire opened up on the left flank and travelled along to the Gurkha trenches compelling us to open fire. The fire soon died away however and nothing in the way of an attack or anything happened.

TUESDAY – 28/9/15 – Went up to Hill 60 this morning to observe our fire on enemy barb wire entanglements. Only place from which I could observe was a bombing sap about 25 yards from the enemy trenches. I did not relish the position especially as the barb wire was so close that our shells were almost touching my periscope as they went over and one was at too low an elevation to go over and burst in our own trench about five yards from me without doing any damage. News of advance in France confirmed.

WEDNESDAY – 29/9/l5 – Reported at B.C's observing station this morning to take charge during absence of the Major. Everything very slow and nothing doing. Returned to battery at midnight.

THURSDAY – 30/9/15 – We registered several enemy trenches on flat north of Hill 60. These are support trenches which the Turks have been very busy digging in order to strengthen their position and we intend to worry them daily to the extent of a few rounds.

Observation trench

Background

By September, half the New Zealand troops suffered from diarrhoea and 7-10 from each unit were evacuated sick every day. One problem was the absolute plague of flies that covered the food however quick you were.

In mid-September, most of the NZ Infantry that had landed in April were sent to Lemnos to rest, their places being taken by the arriving 2nd Australian Division. They remained there until the beginning of November.

On Gallipoli, meanwhile, the Anzacs were busy creating an extensive set of tunnels. A nervous business, with the Turks busy doing likewise. Apparently it is from this period that NZ tunnellers came to be known as "diggers" - a term the British soldiers came to apply loosely to both Kiwis and Aussies.