Gallipoli Letters 3

When young Australians first set foot on the Gallipoli Peninsular they were full of enthusiasm. They had a real sense of adventure. By July this had changed. Now the War was just work that had to be done. In July this is the reality of Richard Bassett

On 29th July he wrote  – “We are indulging in what may be termed the monotony of war just now, if you can understand what that means. It is a wearisome life, and I quite understand the necessity of a little diversion at times, and we rarely get it here. The shelling of our trenches is enlivening on occasions, but the Turks are not endeavoring to push us now, and are standing off a bit. The weather has been dreadfully hot lately, and we would prefer it a bit cooler, it is, however, ideal weather for soldiering, and the nights are glorious, and it is no hardship to sleep out. There are some extremity amusing letters in the Victorian papers we see, and, I may say, only we who have been full time here can place a value on the letters referred to. Most of the letters have been written from hospitals by men who were wounded the first day, and have seen nothing since. …. We have lost all the feeling that this is a game where there is much glory, to be won. It is just a matter of slog into it until we prevail. A man gets shot from somewhere or other, and he doesn’t know where it comes from. That has to be suffered, and there is not much to be done by way of retaliation. It is simply a matter of the most men and the most guns. There is not much glory. Old war fashions are gone, modern devices have almost done away with them. Cavalry charges are no more to be indulged in now. ……It is easy to see why the rabbit-burrow business is not likely to be productive of many glorious victories. There are any amount of newspaper reports which give you all picturesque details, but the actual features of the war do not appear. I must say this—the men who come to light must come, not with the idea of a picnic, but with the knowledge that it is a serious business, and not to be considered lightly. I believe there are a lot of chaps leaving Colac again for training camp. I am glad to hear that, as they are all wanted, I think, or at least they may be, and they should be ready. I am always glad I came, even though there are lots of inconveniences to put up with, quite apart from anything else. I am also glad that I came with the first division. One of the inconveniences here is the want of water, which we have much difficulty in getting, and it is my chief trouble. We cannot get enough to wash with, and I have been in the trenches for a fortnight without a wash at all. We can hardly get enough to drink. Our menu consists of bread on alternate days, and biscuits, jam and cheese, and a daily stew, and sometimes rice. We don’t see much in the way of vegetables, as you will understand, except a stray onion or two. It makes an awful difference to a meal, the absence of vegetables……..”


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