Gallipoli Letters 4

Those in the 8th Battalion did not form part of the attack on Lone Pine. Rather they held the line of trench further north towards Johnston’s Jolly. They continuously fired on the Turkish trenches opposite to deflect their interest from the attack at Lone Pine. For a day and a night, their trench was very heavily bombarded with over 300 shells. Parapets were destroyed, nowhere was safe. At the end of two days, 25 men had been killed and 101 wounded.  Richard Bassett survived. He was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. After the battle, on 19th August, Richard wrote

There has been a bit of movement amongst our men and we have had a fairly lively time lately, and there have been lots of casualties. We hope that there may be some result which may prove of immense benefit to our Allies before long. It should certainly prove to be of great value to the Russians if we can break through the Dardanelles before the winter comes. Meanwhile we have lost a lot of men, as you will know, and the people must think that the casualty lists will never end. The losses are certainly heavy when compared with the British losses even. Our first division has been practically wiped out already. All we hope is that they send men along as fast as possible, as that is the only way in which we will arrive at a satisfactory conclusion of this war.”

In the same letter Richard wrote, on the 12th August, to express anger in the way the press portrayed the war on the Gallipoli peninsular and more particularly in the political squabbles in Australia.

“……There was something rather more striking than the letters from the soldiers, and that was the political aspect of things as portrayed by the Melbourne dailies and other Australian papers. I wonder if the politicians realise what we think of their squabbles in the Federal Parliament, and the action of the Government in attempting to force their pet beliefs through at a time when everyone should be concentrating their thoughts and powers on pushing forward the military preparations required to assist the British nation in the present struggle. It all seems so paltry to us here, right amongst the struggle, and recognizing the awfulness of it all as only those who are concerned in it can. I also read of the threatened strike of the Engineers. It is positively criminal. Many of us here hardly know what a union means. Many who will never come back didn’t know, but they were none the less courageous. We don’t mind whether the shells are made by non-unionists or not; neither do the guns, but the Turks do. I wonder if the engineers know about the Turks…”

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