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"Over There" with the Australians
by R. Hugh Knyvett
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The streets of this town were spacious and very clean and were bordered by fine buildings with granite and marble pillars and some fine masonry lacework. Unfortunately, poor taste was often shown, with plaster alongside the marble, and the stone used was too soft and already in places was crumbling. In Egypt, where it rarely rains, the climate is kind to the jerry-builder, and it's only when Jupiter Pluvius wants a laugh and sends a regular tropical downpour that the buildings that were a thing of beauty and a joy forever come to earth and are no more. We ourselves were on one occasion victims of this god's fun. We were told that it never rained, and our huts were built just to shelter us from the sun, but at 2 A. M. the grim old weather-god turned on the shower, and no doubt it amused him a good deal to hear our curses as we tried to shelter ourselves and tucker beneath greatcoats and water-proof sheeting. There was no chance of "getting in out of the rain," for there was not a water-proof shelter for miles. Egypt is not the only place, though, where the residents know least about their own climate!

Heliopolis, anyway, is a skeleton of a town, for most of these buildings were merely occupied in the front, by Greek and Indian merchants who had anticipated our coming. In these shops anything could be bought, from a microbe (which was sometimes given away) to an elephant (nearly always a white one)! However, there were silks galore and filagree-work of beauty, but the biggest trade was done in colored handkerchiefs, crudely worked on a sewing-machine with a design of the pyramids and "Advance Australia." The cuteness of these merchants was also evidenced in the signs on their stores. The first Australian to stroll down those streets was amazed to see, in huge lettering, "The Melbourne Store," next door to "The Sydney Shop." They even knew our slang, for here was "The 'Fair Dinkum' Store," and across the way "Ribuck Goods." Prices were pretty much what you liked to pay. At any rate I never failed to get an article by paying only a quarter of the first-named price.

The most persistent of professionals were the bootblacks. You had to have your boots cleaned whether you liked it or not! Stop for a moment to talk to a friend and there was a nigger on each foot, industriously brushing away as if his life depended on it. They would follow you on to a tram-car, and whether you got a seat or not there would be somebody working on your boots two seconds after boarding it. Another nuisance were the sellers of swagger-sticks, and I have frequently bought one just for the pleasure of laying it across the back of its previous owner. They soon picked up our language and its choicest words, but one word they never understood was "No!" The first Egyptian word we learned was "Imshi!" literally, "Get!"—but it generally required the backing of a military boot to make it effective. The Australianese that the "Gyppos" picked up is not commonly used in polite society; maybe they thought it correct English, but it was sometimes very embarrassing when walking down the street with a nurse. And some polite merchants were sorely puzzled when the effect of their well-chosen words and bow was an unintentional biting of the dust.

We must pass a vote of thanks, however, to the syndicate for providing us with some ideal club-rooms. I guess the Y. M. C. A. never had such quarters before or since, and must have had to do some squaring of conscience in calling these "Army Huts." It was a hut, though, all right, out at the camp, made of grass mats, held together with string, but it was the usual boon and blessing to men, and I guess there were few letters left camp that weren't on Red Triangle paper. I may as well mention here, too, that the best meals I had since leaving home were in the Y. M. C. A. building in the Esbekiah Gardens in Cairo, so here's a thank-you to those ladies and the management.



CHAPTER IX

THE DESERT

I know more about the desert in Egypt than any other part of it, for it was on the desert we trained. There were sham fights galore, but it was mostly squad and company drill, until if some devil had scooped out our brain-boxes and filled them with sawdust we could have carried out the orders just as well. In fact, one fellow must have gone mad with the monotony of it and perpetrated the rhyme, to the tune of "The Red, White, and Blue":

"At the halt, on the left, form platoons, At the halt, on the left, form platoons, If the odd numbers don't mark time two paces, How the hell can the boys form platoons?"

I don't know whether the author was ever found, but I know plenty that were laid out for singing it. We began to have a sinking feeling that we would not be in the real scrap at all, for a good part of our time was taken up in forming "hollow square," a formation that is famous in the British army as having been only once broken, but is only of value against savages, and "furphies" (unfounded rumors) spread that we were going into Darkest Africa or the Soudan. However, we also practised echelon for artillery formation, that is, breaking a company into chunks and throwing it about at unequal distances, so that a shell falling on one chunk would not wipe any of the others off the map. Then there was more gloom, for that looked as if the war was real, and there must be something in what the papers were saying after all. About this time some of the boys' letters began to contain more war news even than the papers, for the padre, who was regimental censor, informed us that if he let our mail go home unpencilled there would be many mothers weeping at the danger their boys were in, as they described fierce battles in the desert. Even as it was, letters were published in home papers that showed our regiment to have been four times annihilated while we were in training! The only shots these fellows heard all day were the popping of the corks in the wet canteen! (No charge to the "drys" for this story!)

And then, of course, we route-marched—in the desert, please remember; a very different thing, Mr. Rookie, to the same thing on made roads! For one thing, we were not supposed to do more than fifteen miles a day, but on the desert there were no milestones, and the distance was "estimated" by the officer in command. Some of these officers must have been city treasurers in private life, for their estimate of distance was like estimated annual expenditure, generally much under the mark. Mostly they would know when we had gone far enough, which for us was too far, and then we would get lost coming back. Fortunately, there was a lot of men camped in that desert, and as it is customary for a man lost to travel in a circle, we would generally run into some camp or other, otherwise I'm afraid we would now be a petrified army, "somewhere in Sahara." Ten miles with an eighty-pound pack on your back, through heavy sand, is as much as a man can endure; after that he doesn't endure, he just carries on, and on, and on, and on. At that time your company are all feet and are walking on your brain. Anyway, the man behind you does actually walk on your —— heels every second step.

In the desert, also, did we dig trenches. No, not the same thing as digging trenches anywhere! For it is really nearly as easy to dig trenches in the ocean. For every spadeful you throw out two fall in, and if, by the use of much cunning, you do manage to get a hole dug, then you must not leave it for a single instant, for it is only waiting until your back is turned to disappear. There is one thing—those trenches were good cover, for we would no sooner occupy them than we would be covered up entirely. I would defy an aeroplane with the best "made in Germany" spectacles to discover whether we were men or mummies.

But we had one very exciting trench-digging expedition. We dug, if you please, into an old city, and broke into tombs umpteen thousand years old. There were scarabs and ancient jewels there that the Field Museum would give their eye-teeth for. We were ordered to deliver our finds to the authorities, but I am afraid many of the boys had "sticky" fingers. It was all jolly interesting, but there is a fly in every box of ointment, and the supposed age of these relics brought home to us the fact that this soil had been lived on for thousands of years by people much like our present neighbors, without any sanitary ideas; and one of our fellows with a scientific mind pictured to us every grain of sand as being a globe inhabited by germs. This was comforting, for we each of us swallowed a few billion of these "universes" every day! They got in our eyes, in our ears, in our nose and mouth, but if they got into a cut by any chance, then we were subjects for the doctor. "Oh Egypt, thou land of teeming life, how healthy wouldst thou be if you weren't so overcrowded!"

Yet there was beauty in the desert. We would frequently pick up agates, sapphires, and turquoise matrix. But its beauty was chiefly suggestive. There were gorgeous sunsets—poetry there, but more poetry still in the wonderful mirages. Why, here, hung above the earth, were scenes from every age: Cleopatra's galleys, Alexander's legions, the pomp of the Mamelukes, Ptolemy and Pompey, Napoleon and Gordon—their times and deeds were all pictured here. Perhaps the spirit world has its "movies," and only here in the desert mirage is the "screen" of stuff that can be seen with mortal eyes.

But beauty is not for soldiers—the desert was our "schoolmaster." It was the right-hand man of Kitchener, and well did it perform its task of putting iron into our spirits and turning our muscles into steel, and making us fit for whatever job the Maker of Armies had for us. He knew the place to train us—where the weaklings would fall and only the very fit survive. Any soldier who passed through his grades in the "academy of the desert" might not shine in a guard of honor to a princess; his skin would be blistered, his clothes would be stained, but he'd be the equal in strength of any man on earth, and would have fought the attacks of every known disease. It was Egypt and the desert that made Gallipoli possible, and the Australian army owes much to the astuteness of Kitchener, who knew the ideal training-ground for the daredevil freeman from "down under."



CHAPTER X

PICKETING IN CAIRO

No man in the British Empire knew Egypt better than Lord Kitchener, and he had very good reasons, apart from training, in sending us there. There can be no doubt whatever that the majority of the Egyptians were pro-Turkish if not pro-German. The educated Egyptian, like the Babu in Bengal, is specially fitted by nature for intrigue, and if he sees a chance to oppose whatever government is in power and keep his own skin, it is his idea of living well. Egypt was immediately put under martial law, but there was plenty of scope for a while for the midnight assassin and the poisoner. Here and there soldiers would disappear and street riots would be started by the wind. Who would not turn round on seeing an R. S. V. P. eye in a face whose veil enhanced the beauty it did not hide? But there would always be some sedition-monger to immediately fill the street with a thousand yelling maniacs who would scream that their religion had been insulted by the accursed infidels. Religion they knew nothing about, but to make trouble was their meat and drink. There was a good deal of Irish blood among us, and many men who would rather fight than go to the opera, so there were some good old ding-dong scraps. Of course the "Gyppo" is no fighter, but he can stand behind and throw stones and can't resist plunging the knife into an inviting back, so sometimes our boys would get laid out. A street row is always a dangerous thing, for those in front cry "Back!" and those behind cry "Forward!" and there is likely to be a jam in which the innocent, if there are any, get hurt. I saw a pretty ugly-looking crowd dispersed with a characteristic Australian weapon. Firing over their heads had no effect, nor threats of a bayonet charge, but when two Australian bushmen began plying stockwhips, those niggers made themselves scarcer than mice on the smell of a cat. As a good manipulator of the stockwhip can pull the cork from a bottle, maybe these plotters were afraid of having their guilty secrets picked from them. At any rate, there were some who lost flesh in a part that would insure them having a smaller following thereafter.

There was a battle fought in Cairo for which there will be no medals distributed and to which stay-at-home Australians think there is no honor attached, but I doubt if any one who took part in the battle of the Wasir, except maybe the military police, are ashamed of what they did. Any one who knows Cairo knows that there is a part of it that is not mentionable at dinner-table. It is the sink of the world. Every large city has its sore, but Cairo has an ulcer. This vile spot made the clean lads from the wind-swept plains and scented bush of Australia absolutely sick. The Australian is a practical idealist, and for him to see dirt is to want to remove it. Besides which, this place was a nest of spies and enemies. There were several of our boys who disappeared, and, though it may be said they had no right there, the sign "No Admittance" is one that the average Australian has never been able to read. It was one of those scraps that no one starts but that breaks out of itself, because it has been brewing so long. There were a few thousand of the boys in Cairo that night, and when the news spread it did not take long for more to come in from Mena and other camps. They did not wait for the motorman to start his car, but in many cases commandeered it for the time being. Things moved quite warmly for an hour or two: ladies of low degree scuttled like rats and panders dashed for safety, while "owners" in princely motorcars turned almost as white as their livers as they saw their "warehouses of virtue" going up in flame. Two incidents are very vivid—the sight of a grand piano tumbling out of a five-story window and one of the aforesaid "owners" trying to remonstrate with the avengers, and having his car run into the fire. The military police tried to interfere early in the game, but only made matters worse, as they were pretty well hated by the boys as being mostly slackers. The attitude of many of the officers may be judged from Jerry. He was looking on smoking a pipe when an English major dashed up to him, very apoplectic. "Are you an Australian officer?" "Ye—es!" drawled Jerry. "Well, why don't you take your men in hand?" "Can't see they are doing any harm!" said Jerry. In the end strong-armed guards were brought in from the camps, and as the boys were just about tired anyway of their self-appointed policemanship, things soon quieted down. There were rumors that it cost the Australian Government a tidy sum of money, but the burning of those pest-houses must have risen like incense to heaven, and one very good effect it had, about which there will be no dispute—it put the fear of God into the Gyppo, and Australian soldiers after that even singly and in small groups received nothing worse than black looks.

After this Cairo was very thoroughly picketed—the streets were patrolled all night by parties of ten or a dozen under an N. C. O. I was in charge of one of these parties for a couple of months and had a good deal of fun playing "policeman" among the cosmopolitan crowds that infest Cairo. We were only armed with the handles of our intrenching tools, which were sticks of hardwood about twelve inches long with an iron band at the upper end, but they made very effective batons. I remember once we had to settle a dispute at a wedding-feast. I suppose there must have been a lack of room in the house, for the meal was spread in the street—long tables with a couple of hundred guests seated at them right in the way of the traffic. We strolled past a couple of times, but as we had no instructions to prevent folk using the public street for their domestic affairs, we saw no call to interfere, but our mouths watered at the sight of the good things to eat, and we thought it rather a tempting of Providence to spread this abundance of food in the open street of a city where there are always about a million of people who had not enough to eat at any time. We had only gone a couple of blocks away when some wildly excited niggers rushed after us and informed us: "Plenty men kill 'um back there!" We went back at the double and there was as ugly a riot as ever Irishman longed for. There seemed to be a couple of thousand yelling maniacs packing both sides of the street. Our instructions were to prevent the gathering of crowds. There were only ten of us and we had but our improvised batons, but I told the boys to get into the crowd and tell them once to "imshi" (get) and then hit. "Be sure and never speak twice." We soon dispersed the crowd. There was something about our "Nulla-nullas" [1] that looked very businesslike, and none stopped to argue the point.

Sometimes the boys were pretty thirsty in those long tramps through the streets, and the open cafes were very inviting. But we had an experience that warned me against allowing any of them to go in and get a drink. One of them had certainly not been gone more than a couple of minutes, and he swears he only had one drink; nevertheless, he had to be put in a cab and sent back to the barracks. We had pretty dull times in those barracks—the Kasr-el-nile just alongside the bridge of the same name. The chief amusement was to feed the hawks that all day hovered in the courtyard. We would drop pieces of meat and bread from the balcony, but so quick were the birds that I never knew a piece to reach the ground.

Jerry was one of the officers of the picket, and we had to report to him at midnight at a shelter in a part of the city with an evil reputation. From here we would issue in force to close for the night the various dens of iniquity. Jerry would generally stroll ahead with his cane and walk into the resort of the worst ruffians on earth with all the assurance of a general at the head of a brigade. He would announce to these, the most lawless men and women in the world, that it was time to close up, and there was something in his bearing that commanded prompt obedience.

In fact, nothing ever ruffled Jerry. One night a senior officer attached to the commandant came down in a tearing rage, and began to dress Jerry down for having presumed to close up a certain gambling resort without consulting the authorities. After about twenty minutes' harangue in which he threatened Jerry with all manner of punishment, he collapsed at the drawled retort: "And then you'll wake up!"

Jerry was still on the picket when I left to go down to the Suez Canal defenses, and I did not hear any more about him until I met him in Melbourne a few weeks ago, when I asked him if he had been over to France, and his reply was: "No. I—I came back." No explanation as to whether he was invalided or wounded. Jerry was quite equal to telling a field-marshal to go to a place even warmer than Egypt. Maybe his extraordinary self-assurance got on the nerves of some general so much that to protect himself from those critical eyes he had to send Jerry home.

The two principal hotels in Cairo, Shepheard's and the Continental, were out of bounds to all but officers. Some of our boys resented this discrimination while not on parade, for many of the privates were, in social life, in higher standing than the majority of the officers. There was one of our colonels who took his brother in to dine with him at Shepheard's. A snobbish English officer came up to this man who happened to be only a private, and said: "What are you doing in here, my man?" But he got rather a setback when the Australian colonel said to him: "Captain, let me introduce my brother." There was another Australian private whom an English officer objected to have sitting at the same table with him at the Trocadero in London. Next day this private reserved every seat in this swell restaurant and provided dinner for several hundred of his chums, putting a notice on the door: "No Officers Admitted." Another illustration of snobbishness, this time in Australia, was when some officers at a race-meeting instructed the committee to refuse admittance to the saddling paddock and grand stand to all privates and N. C. O.'s, but they looked pretty small when informed that the owner of the race-course was a private and could hardly be debarred from his own property. Few Australian officers are of this type, however, and in the trenches our officers and men are a happy family. When the men realize that an officer knows his job and has plenty of pluck, they will follow him through hell.

A favorite rendezvous in Cairo was the Ezbekiah Gardens of a Sunday afternoon. There were beauties there from many nations, dressed in the "dernier cri" of fashion, who were tickled to death to be escorted by the bronzed giants from "down-under," and though one failed sometimes to find words that were understood, yet sufficient was said in glance and shrug to make a very interesting conversation. And the Sultan's band was always there to fill in pauses and, in fact, played so well as to be an encouragement to flirtations that were delightful in spite of differences of nationality.

There was always plenty to see around Cairo, and the education of the Australian bushman has been widened considerably through those months in Egypt, though I am afraid some of us swallowed the yarns of the guides and garnered a vast store of misinformation. These guides were a set of blackmailers, but once you had engaged one he looked on you as his personal property, and would let no one rob you but himself. I would like, even now, to have within reach of my boot the old scoundrel who took me inside the Great Pyramid. After following him in and by the light of a candle climbing very carefully in stockinged feet the granite passage (polished by millions of toes until it was as slippery as glass), the old ruffian led me into the Queen's chamber, and then announced that he had lost his candle but would show me the height of the chamber by burning magnesian wire for the price of one piastre (five cents) per second. After I had a good flash-light view of the inside of this room, and marvelled sufficiently at the enormous size of the blocks of marble in the walls and out of which the sarcophagus was made, the old son of a thief told me it would be at the same rate that he would light my way to the outside air again. I only had stockinged feet, and made the foolish mistake of striking out in the dark. The old boy howled, but I verily believe that I very nearly displaced one of the eighty-ton blocks of marble. We arrived at the opening at the same moment and I got a "full-Nelson" on the greasy blackguard. He handed over the magnesian wire, also the candle, and was quite willing to give me as many of his wives as I required before I released him. I have never been in any place as hot as the inside of the Great Pyramid, and no longer wonder that a mummy is so dried up. For in five minutes pretty nearly every drop of moisture in my own body came out through the pores of my skin.

I also was barmy enough to climb to the top of the Great Pyramid; each separate block of stone to be surmounted was like the wall of a house, but the view from the top was worth while, and might have been enjoyed but for the thought of getting down again; especially as old Job (my new guide) persisted in telling me about several people who had been killed, bouncing all the way to the bottom. I did pretty well all the tourist stunts in Egypt. I rode a donkey when my feet touched the ground on either side, also mounted a camel that lifted me to a dizzy height. I gazed into the imperturbable face of the Sphinx and wandered among the numerous pyramids of Sakkara. I visited the tombs of the Mamelukes and feasted on the beauty of the mosques (having my feet shod with the provided sandals so that my infidel dust might not defame the hallowed floor). I also viewed the citadel; but the place of most charm was the streets of old Cairo. I was never tired of elbowing my way through the bazaars and it was worth it to buy something you didn't want for the sake of being waited on by "Abraham in the flesh." Here was the Arabian Nights in very reality, and all the romance and lure of a thousand dreams. The smell was a bit overpowering, but bearable if you surrounded yourself with the smell of your favorite tobacco.

[1] Australian native weapon.



CHAPTER XI

"NIPPER"

On the sheep and cattle station of Wyaga in southwestern Queensland there is a shepherd's hut about fifty miles from the homestead.

One night my father was camping in this hut, and before lying down had piled a lot of dry dung on the fire outside so that the smoke would drive away the mosquitoes. Somewhere about midnight he woke with the sense of some human being near him. Then he was startled to see the fire scattered before his eyes, but never found sight nor sound of anything living.

Many months later he again visited the hut. This time it was occupied by old Mullins, the shepherd. Again about midnight he was roused, this time by the whining of the sheep-dog "Nipper." Every hair on the dog was bristling, but he made no attempt to attack whatever it was he saw. Suddenly the fire was again scattered. The old shepherd said that this happened about once a month, and that on one occasion he had seen a woman kick the fire apart and then disappear.

To the railway-station at Goondiwindi came Mullins one day in December, 1914, and bought tickets to Brisbane for himself and Nipper. The regulations of the Queensland government railways will not allow dogs to travel in passengers' carriages. As Nipper had to travel in a dog-box at the end of the guard's van, old Mullins insisted on occupying a seat in the van, and at every station would get his friend a drink.

When the train stopped for meals at midday and evening Mullins would seize the plate served to him and make for the door. The manager of the refreshment-room made him pay for the plate before taking it outside, not trusting his looks, but the old shepherd only wanted to have Nipper's hunger satisfied before his own. At the end of the journey there were several china plates in the box that were of no further use to either of them.

The recruiting-officer in Brisbane was not surprised to see a weather-beaten old "bushie" walk into the depot, for there were many such seeking to join the young lads in "this ding-dong scrap." It was only too evident that he was well over the age limit, but when they told him he was too old, he offered to fight them singly or collectively, or take on the best fighter their blank-blank army could produce. They managed to get him outside the door, but not before both he and Nipper had left behind them proof of their quality in lost skin and torn clothes.

Some days later old Mullins appeared again, leading Nipper on a chain. Almost every one entrenched himself behind a table, but the old man had no fight in him, declaring in a choking voice that Nipper had come to enlist alone. "He is not too old, anyway, and will deal with more of the blank-blank swine than a hundred of your sissy, white-faced, unweaned kids!" One of the doctors had a heart in the right place and wrote a letter to the commandant of a regiment soon going overseas, asking him if he could not take the dog as a regimental pet. He gave the old man the letter and told him to take his dog out to the camp.

The colonel was not without understanding, and that is how Nipper "joined up" to fight for democracy.

There were some who started out to teach Nipper tricks, but it was soon discovered that he knew a good deal more than most of us. He had a keen sense of humor, and after some one would spend hours trying to teach him to sit up, all of which time he would pretend he could not understand what he was wanted to do, with a sly look he would suddenly go through a whole repertoire of tricks, not merely sitting up, but tumbling over backward, generally ending the performance by "heeling-up" (nipping in the heel) all and sundry. He never really bit any one, but a lot of the new boys were nervous during this heeling-up process.

Nipper was certainly the most intelligent of the whole canine race. He was continually trying out new tricks for our amusement and was in ecstasy if they brought applause. On a shot being fired he would stretch out and pretend he was killed, but if you said, "White Flag! Treachery!" he would come to life again as savage as a wolf. If any one scolded him he would lie down and wipe his eyes with his paw, which was irresistible and turned the scolding voice into laughter.

There was one senior officer that Nipper suspected was a German, and every chance he got he would sneak up and, without preliminary warning, take a good hold of the seat of his trousers. This major returned Nipper's dislike with interest, and had it not been for the protection of the colonel Nipper's career might have been cut short before we left Australia.

Nipper never seemed to entertain much respect for the Army Service Corps, and sometimes he would attack one of their wagons with such fury as to clear the men off it and start the horses bolting.

These were his dislikes, but his one and only hate was a military policeman. Perhaps he had a guilty conscience; but the very sight of a red-cap would make him foam at the mouth, and they sent in several requests that they might be allowed to shoot him for their own protection. The boys in camp had no special love for the M. P.'s either, and there was very nearly a pitched battle when Nipper appeared one day with two raw welts across his back, suspicion being immediately laid at their door.

Nipper always appeared on parade, and considered his position to be the right flank when in line and right ahead of everybody when in column of route. If motor-car or horse vehicle was slow in giving way to us, Nipper informed them who we were, which was one of the few occasions on which he was heard to bark. At first he had some narrow escapes, but soon discovered that "heeling-up" a horse or the rear wheel of a moving automobile was more risky than nipping at the heels of sheep or cow.

Once our adjutant had an argument with the owner of an automobile for breaking through our column. Nipper objected to a certain remark of the slacker in the car, and without joining in the conversation leaped into the car and dragged out his overcoat into the mud, not relinquishing it until it was well soaked.

On board the troop-ship Nipper pined for the smell of the gum leaves, and it was the only time when we lost patience with him, for every night he would stand in the bow and howl.

The smells of Egypt disgusted Nipper, remembering the scents of the Australian bush. Only once did he make the mistake of heeling-up a Gyppo, after which he made a great pretense of being very sick. On other occasions when he wanted them to keep their distance, he found mere growling to have the desired effect.

The atmosphere of Egypt had a bad effect on Nipper's morals, and he would sometimes disappear for days. After a while the old reprobate acquired the disgusting habit of eating sand, which not only showed how far he had fallen from grace, but also had a serious effect on his health. On several occasions he had to be taken to the army medical tent, and only the most drastic remedies saved his life.

One day the colonel read a letter he had received from old Mullins inquiring if Nipper was still alive and reminding us that his meat had always been cooked for him. It almost made one believe in reincarnation, for it was really uncanny, as no human being could more contritely express remorse than did Nipper as he listened with tail between his legs, whining most piteously.

He accompanied me on some scouting expeditions in the desert, but his powers were failing, and I never trusted him after one occasion on which he made a fool of me. He showed all the symptoms of danger being near; and sure enough on looking through my glasses I saw what appeared to be a man with a rifle crouched behind a bush. I took three men with me and we made a long detour to approach from behind, but after all our precautions and alarm we found nothing but a long stick leaning against the bush and the shadow of a rock that looked something like a man.

In the end Nipper committed suicide, and this was the manner of his going. He was in the habit of swimming across the canal every morning while we were at Ferry Post. This morning, however, one of the boys noticed him go under, and diving in after him was able, after some difficulty, to get his body ashore. He was quite stiff and we all of us believed that he swam out a certain distance and gave up.

His bearing for days indicated that something was preying on his mind, and as we did not know what cloud overshadowed his canine soul we forbore to judge him.

His memory will remain for long in the hearts of those who knew him, and we buried him in the burning sand of Arabia with the simple inscription on a pine board:

HERE LIES "NIPPER"

DIED ON ACTIVE SERVICE, A TRUE COMRADE,—— SACRIFICED TO "ON," [1] NO. 0000——REGIMENTAL PET—— ——TH BRIGADE——HEATHEN.

and his identification disk was sent home to old Mullins and maybe hangs in the old hut where, perhaps, the ghost walks no more and the ashes of the fire smoulder undisturbed.

[1] The Egyptian sun-god.



PART III

GALLIPOLI



CHAPTER XII

THE ADVENTURE OF YOUTH

Fate has decided that Gallipoli shall always be associated with the story of the Anzacs. This name (which is formed from the initial letters of the Australian New Zealand Army Corps) does not describe more than half the troops that were engaged in that fated campaign, but it has so caught the popular fancy, that in spite of all historians may do, injustice will be done in the thought of the public to the English, Scotch, and Irish regiments and the gallant French Colonial troops who played an equally heroic part. There were certainly no finer troops on the Peninsula—probably in the whole war no unit has shown greater courage than did the glorious Twenty-ninth British Division in the landing at Cape Helles.

No writer who accurately pictured these memorable months of our "treading on the corns of the Turkish Empire" could leave out even the loyal dark-skinned Britishers from the Hindustani hills and from the Ganges. There both Gourkas and Sikhs added to their reputation as fighters.

Australia and New Zealand's part does not, in actual accomplishment or in personal daring and endurance, outclass the doings of these others, the larger half of the army. But there is a romance and a glow about the "Anzac" exploits that (rail at the injustice of it as you may) makes a human-interest story that will elbow out of the mind of the "man in the street" what other troops did. In fact, every second man one meets has the idea that the Australians and New Zealanders were the only men there.

I don't intend to try and write the story of Gallipoli—I haven't the equipment or the experience—John Masefield has written the only book that need be read, and only a man who was in that outstanding achievement of the landing on the 25th of April has a right to the honor of associating his name in a chronicle of "What I did!" What I am going to attempt to do is just to picture it as a "winning of the spurs" by the youngest democracy on earth.

There was something peculiarly fitting in the fate that ordained that this adolescent nation of the South Seas should prove its fitness for manhood in an adventure upon which were focussed the eyes of all nations. The gods love romance, else why was the youngest nation of earth tried out on the oldest battlefield of history? How those young men from the continent whose soil had never been stained with blood thrilled to hear their padres tell them as they gathered on the decks of the troop-ships in the harbor of Lemnos, that to-morrow they would set foot almost on the site of the ancient battlefield of Troy, where the early Greeks shed their blood, as sung in the oldest battle-song in the world.

These young Australians were eager to prove their country's worth as a breeder of men. Australians have been very sensitive to the criticism of Old World visitors—that we were a pleasure-loving people, who only thought of sport—that in our country no one took life seriously, and even the making of money was secondary to football, and that we would all rather win a hundred pounds on a horse-race than make a thousand by personal exertion. Practically every book written on Australia by an Englishman or an American has said the same thing, that we were a lovable, easy-going race, but did not work very hard, and in a serious crisis would be found wanting.

The whole nation brooded over these young men, guardians of Australia's honor, and waited anxiously for them to wipe out this slur. That explains Australia's pride in "Anzac." It meant for us not merely our baptism in blood—it was more even than a victory—for there, with the fierce search-light of every nation turned upon it, our representative manhood showed no faltering—but proved it was of the true British breed, having nevertheless a bearing in battle that was uniquely its own. In this age of bravest men the Australian has an abandon in fight which on every battlefield marks him as different from any other soldier.

There is an insidious German propaganda suggesting that the Australians are very sore at the failure on Gallipoli and that we blame the British Government and staff for having sent us to perish in an impossible task. I want to say, that while in the Australian army, as private, N. C. O. and officer, I never heard a single criticism of the government for the Gallipoli business. There is no man who was on the Peninsula who does not admire General Sir Ian Hamilton, and most of the officers believe that Britain has never produced a more brilliant general. That the expedition failed was not the fault of the commander-in-chief nor of the troops. And, anyway, we Australians are good enough sports to realize that there must be blunders here and there, and we're quite ready to bear our share of the occasional inevitable disaster.

But Gallipoli was not the failure many people think. Some people seem to have the idea that a hundred thousand troops were intended to beat a couple of million, and take one of the strongest cities in the world. There never was a time when the Turks did not outnumber us five to one, when they did not have an enormous reserve, in men, equipment, and munitions, immediately at their back, while our base was five hundred miles away in Egypt. The Turks had a Krupp factory at Constantinople within a few hours of them, turning out more ammunition per day than they were using, while ours had to come thousands of miles from England. Of course, we were never intended to take Constantinople. The expedition was a purely naval one, and we were a small military force, auxiliary to the navy, that was to seize the Narrows and enable the ships to get within range of Constantinople, and so compel its surrender. We failed, in this final objective, but we accomplished a great deal, nevertheless. We held back probably a million Turks from the Russians, and we left, in actual counted dead Turkish bodies, more than double our own casualties (killed, wounded, and missing). But, above all, we definitely impressed the German mind with the fact that Great Britain did not only mean the British Isles but the equally loyal and brave fighters from Britain overseas.

Here is no history of Gallipoli, but let me try to sketch four pictures that will show you the type of men that there joked with death and made curses sound to angel ears sweeter than the hymns of the soft-souled churchgoer.



CHAPTER XIII

THE LANDING THAT COULD NOT SUCCEED—BUT DID

Picture yourself on a ship that was more crowded with men than ever ship had been before, in a harbor more crowded with ships than ever harbor had been crowded before, with more fears in your mind than had ever crowded into it before, knowing that in a few hours you would see battle for the first time. Having comrades crowding round, bidding you good-bye and informing you that as your regimental number added up to thirteen, you would be the first to die, remembering that you hadn't said your prayers for years, and then comforting yourself with the realization that what is going to happen will happen, and that an appeal to the general will not stop the battle, anyway, and you may as well die like a man, and you will feel as did many of those young lads, on the eve of the 25th of April, 1915. There was some premonition of death in those congregations of khaki-clad men who gathered round the padres on each ship and sang "God be with you till we meet again." You could see in men's faces that they knew they were "going west" on the morrow—but it was a swan-song that could not paralyze the arm or daunt the heart of these young Greathearts, who intended that on this morrow they would do deeds that would make their mothers proud of them.

"For if you 'as to die, As it sometimes 'appens, why, Far better die a 'ero than a skunk; A' doin' of yer bit." [1]

As soon as church-parade was dismissed, another song was on the boards, no hymn, maybe not fine poetry, but the song that will be always associated with the story of Australia's doings in the great war, Australia's battle-song—"Australia Will Be There"—immortalized on the Southland and Ballarat, as it was sung by the soldiers thereon, when they stood in the sea-water that was covering the decks of those torpedoed troop-ships. It was now sung by every Australian voice, and as those crowded troop-ships moved out from Lemnos they truly carried "Australia," eager, untried Australia—where?

The next day showed to the world that "Australia would always be there!" where the fight raged thickest. Her sons might sometimes penetrate the enemy's territory too far, but hereafter, and till the war's end, they would always be in the front line, storming with the foremost for freedom and democracy.

The landing could not possibly be a surprise to the Turks; the British and French warships had advertised our coming by a preliminary bombardment weeks previously—the Greeks knew all about our concentration in their waters—and wasn't the Queen of Greece sister to the Kaiser?

There were only about two places where we could possibly land, and the Turks were not merely warned of our intentions, but they were warned in plenty of time for them to prepare for us a warm reception. The schooling and method of the Germans had united with the ingenuity of the Turks to make those beaches the unhealthiest spots on the globe. The Germans plainly believed that a landing was impossible.

Think of those beaches, with land and sea mines, densely strewn with barbed wire (even into deep water), with machine-guns arranged so that every yard of sand and water would be swept, by direct, indirect, and cross fire, with a hose-like stream of bullets; think of thousands of field-pieces and howitzers ready, ranged, and set, so that they would spray the sand and whip the sea, merely by the pulling of triggers. Think of a force larger than the intended landing-party entrenched, with their rifles loaded and their range known, behind all manner of overhead cover and wire entanglements, and then remember that you are one of a party that has to step ashore there from an open boat, and kill, or drive far enough inland, these enemy soldiers to enable your stores to be landed so that when you have defeated him, you may not perish of starvation. Far more than at Balaclava did these young men from "down under" walk "right into the jaws of death, into the mouth of hell!" And the Turks waited till they were well within the jaws before they opened fire. No one in the landing force knew where the Turks were, and the Turks did not fire on us until we got to the zone which they had so prepared that all might perish that entered there. They could see us clearly, the crowded open boats were targets of naked flesh that could not be missed. Was there ever a more favorable setting for a massacre? The Turks in burning Armenian villages with their women and children had not easier tasks than that entrenched army. Our men in the boats were too crowded to use their rifles, and the boats were too close in for the supporting war-ships to keep down the fire from those trenches. How was any one left alive? By calculation of the odds not one man should have set foot on that shore. Make a successful landing, enabling us to occupy a portion of that soil! What an impossible task!



To the men in those boats and the men watching from the ships, it appeared as if not merely the expedition had failed, but that not a man of the landing force would survive. Boats were riddled with bullets and sunk—other boats drifted helplessly as there were not enough alive to row them—men jumped into the bullet-formed spray to swim ashore but were caught in the barbed wire and drowned. Who could expect success, but it nevertheless happened! The Turks were sure that we could not land, yet we did. Not only did those boys set foot on those beaches, but the remnant of that landing-party drove the Turks out of their entrenchments up cliffs five hundred feet high, and entrenched themselves on the summit. How did they do it? No one knows; the men who were there don't know themselves. Did heaven intervene? Perhaps spiritual forces may sometimes paralyze material. It must be that right has physical might, else why didn't the Kaiser get to Paris? Mathematics and preparedness were on his side; by all reasoning Germany ought to have overwhelmed the world in a few months, with the superiority of her armament, but she didn't. The Turks ought to have kept us off the Peninsula, by all laws of logic and arithmetic, and they didn't. I really think the landing succeeded because those boys thought they had failed.

They must have believed themselves doomed—they could see that there were too few to accomplish what was even doubtful when the force was intact. When they were on the shore they must have felt that it was impossible that they could be taken off again. All the time more were falling, and soon it seemed that every last man must be massacred. They made up their minds that, at any rate, they would get a few of the swine before they went. Every man believed that in the end he must be killed, but determined to sell his life as dearly as possible, and that made them the supermen that could not be "held back." A whole platoon would be cut down, but somehow one or two would manage to get into the trench, where, of necessity, it was hand-to-hand work, and with laughing disregard of the odds would lay out a score of the enemy and send the others fleeing before them, who would yell out that they were fighting demons from hell. After the confusion in the boats, and from the fact that in most cases companies were entirely without officers, there was no forming up for charges—indeed, there were no orders at all, but every man knew that he could not but be doing the right thing every time he killed a Turk, so they just took their rifle and bayonet in their naked hands and went to it. There was no line of battle, it was just here, there, and everywhere, khaki-clad, laughing demons, seeking Turks to kill.

Never was there fighting like this. All that day it went on. On the beach, up the cliff, in the gullies, miles inland were men fighting. It was not a battle; it would have made a master of tactics weep and tear his hair, but these man-to-man fights kept on. Many were shot from behind, many were wounded and fell in places where no one would find them—some, fighting on, went in a circle and found themselves back on the beach again. However, at nightfall some had begun to dig a shallow line of trenches, well inland across the cliff. Single men and small groups of them, not finding any more Turks where they were, fell back into this ditch and helped deepen it.

Fresh Turks were massing for counter-attack, and soon came on with fury, but we were something like an army now, and although the line had to be shortened it never broke. The landing had been made good, the impossible had been achieved. But there were many who died strange deaths, many left way in, helpless, who could not be succored—many whom the fighting lust led so far that when they thought of seeking their comrades they found the barrier of a Turkish army now intervening. Strange, unknown duels and combats were fought that day. Unknown are the "Bill-Jims" who killed scores with naked hand—there were many such. Though we beat the Turk with the odds in his favor, yet this day and afterward he earned our respect as a fighting man.

"East is East and West is West, and never the twain shall meet Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat. But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth, When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the Earth."

The Australian had proved himself the fiercest fighter of the world. . . As one naval officer remarked, they fought not as men but devils. Many have said that much of the loss of life was needless, that had the Australians kept together and waited for orders not so many would have been cut off in the bush. It was true that the impetuosity of many took them too far to return, but it was that very quality that won the day. They did not return, but they drove the Turk before them and enabled others to dig in before he could re-form. You would have to go back to mediaeval times to parallel this fighting. There were impetuosity, dash, initiative, berserker rage, fierce hand-to-hand fighting, every man his own general.

These were not the only qualities of the Australian fighting men, but these alone could have succeeded on that day. When the time came for evacuation of those hardly won and held trenches, these same troops gave evidence of the possession of the opposite attributes of coolness, silence, patience, co-ordination; every man acting as part of a single unit, under control of a single will—which is discipline!

[1] Robert W. Service.



CHAPTER XIV

HOLDING ON AND NIBBLING

There are people who think that the Australian dash petered out with that one supreme effort of landing. We had achieved the impossible in landing—why did we not in the many months we were there, do the comparatively easy thing and advance? Surely, now that we had stores and equipment and artillery, we could more easily drive the Turks out of their trenches. So many seem to think that so much was done on that first day, and so little thereafter.

But the Peninsula is not a story of mere impetuosity and dash, it is a story of endurance as well. As a matter of fact, those eight months of holding on were as great a miracle as the landing. There is a limit to the physical powers even of supermen. These men were not content with the small strip of ground that they held, and they did attack and defeat the Turks opposing them again and again, but as soon as a Turkish army was beaten there was ever another fresh one to take its place. The Turks could not attack us at one time with an army outnumbering us by ten to one, not because they had not the troops, but because there was not room enough. As a matter of fact, that little army (only reinforced enough to fill up the gaps) defeated five Turkish armies, each one larger than its own. Remember, too, that the Turks were always better equipped and supplied—it was so easy with their chief city of Constantinople just within "coo-ee." Our little army had to be supplied with every single thing over thousands of miles of water. General Hamilton said the navy was father and mother to us, and when it is remembered that every cartridge, every ounce of food, every drop of water, every splinter of firewood had to be brought by the ships, it will be seen that we could not have existed a single day without their aid. The Turks said often enough that they would push us into the sea—they continually called on Allah to aid them—we were only a handful after all; we only held a few hundred acres of their filthy soil, but onto that we clung, sometimes by the skin of our teeth. And it was the weather, not the Turks, that made us leave in the end.

Ever and anon we alarmed the Turk by nibbling a piece nearer to his sacred city. Never did men live under worse conditions than in those eight months of hell, yet never was an army so cheerful. "Bill-Jim," which is Australia's name for her soldier-boy, always makes the best of things, and soon made himself at home on that inhospitable shore.

The first thing he decided needed alteration was his uniform. Breeches and puttees were not only too hot but they closed in the leg and afforded cover to the lively little fellow who lives indiscriminately on the soldiers of both sides. As each soldier began to trim his uniform to his own idea of comfort, it was soon, in very reality, a "ragtime" army. Some felt that puttees were a nuisance—everybody realized that the breeches were too long, but differed on the point as to how much too long. Some would clip off six inches from the end, others a foot, and others would have been as well covered without the article at all. Almost everybody decided that a tunic was useless, but some extremists threw away shirt and singlet as well. A Turkish army order was captured which stated that the Australians were running short of supplies, as they made one pair of trousers do for three men. Evidently Johnny Turk could not understand the Australian disregard for conventionality and his taking to nakedness when it meant comfort and there were no women within hundreds of miles to make him conscious of indecency. Clothes that couldn't be washed wouldn't keep one's body clean and became the home of an army that had no interest in the fight for democracy. The Australian showed his practical common sense in discarding as much as possible—but, say, those boys would have caused some amusement if drawn up for review!

Water was certainly the most precious thing. There never was enough to drink, but even then there are always men who would rather wash than drink, and to see these men having their bath in a jam-tin just showed how habit is, in many of us, stronger than common sense, for there was never water enough to more than spread out the dirt or liquefy it so that it would fill up the pores. Others who must bathe adopted a more effective but more dangerous proceeding. Of course, the sea was there—surely plenty of water for washing! Just so, but this bath was pretty unhealthy, for it was practically always whipped by shrapnel and you went in at the risk of your life. Some of the best swimmers used to say it was all right so long as you dived whenever you heard the screech of a shell—that the shrapnel pellets did not penetrate the water more than a few inches. Most men did without either of this choice of baths, and used a scraper. It was evidenced on the Peninsula that one of the greatest of civilizers is a razor. By necessity few could shave, and you soon could not recognize the face of your best chum as it hid itself beneath a growth of some reddish fungus. Really handsome features were quite blotted out, and it is now evident to me why, in civilized life, we all so gladly go through the conventional daily torture of face-scraping.

Thirst is not a thing to joke about, however, and there were times when the allowance of water was not enough to wash down a half-dozen bites, and the food would stick in one's throat.

There was generally enough food but mighty little variety except just before the evacuation when stores had to be eaten to save them being taken away or destroyed. It is all very well to say a man will eat anything when he is hungry, but you can get so tired of bully-beef and biscuits and marmalade-jam that your stomach simply will not digest it. Machonochie's, which was a sort of canned Irish stew, wasn't bad, but there wasn't always more than enough of that to supply the quartermasters. Still there were some great chefs on the Peninsula, men who had got their training as cooks in shearers' camps, where anything badly cooked would be thrown at their heads. It was marvellous how some of them could disguise a bully-beef stew, and I have been told of men coming to blows over the merits of their respective "company cooks."

There were more flies on the Peninsula than there was sand on the shore, and they fought us persistently for every atom of food. Getting a meal was a hard day's work, for all the time you had to fight away the swarms, and no matter how quick you were with your fork, you rarely got a mouthful that hadn't been well walked over, and it didn't do to think where those flies might have been walking just previously. No army ever had a better directed sanitary department, but, no matter how clean we kept our trenches, the Turks just "loved" dirt and "worshipped" flies, and their trenches were only ten yards away in one place, and in no place were they far enough to make it a record-breaking aerial flight for a fly. Perhaps it was because they were all Turkish-bred that the flies did us so much harm, for they certainly accounted for more deaths than the shells or bullets. Dysentery was rife all the time and there were times when not one man was well. If the doctors had known enough they would have put a barrage of disinfectant in front of our trenches. We put up sandbags to stop the bullets, but no one had devised a method to stop those winged emissaries of death. Those who died from lead-poisoning were but a score to the hundreds who died of fly-poisoning.

This is but a little of what holding on meant to that little force. The Turk was not only a brave, but a "wily" fighter—snipers were always giving trouble, and one never knew from which direction the next shot was coming. Men with "nerves" declared that our line must be full of spies—sometimes a shot would come through the door of a dugout facing out to sea. These snipers were certainly brave fellows—some were found covered with leaves—one was found in a cleft in the rock where he must have been lowered by his comrades and he could not get out without their help. In the early days some of the Turkish officers who could talk English even took the extreme risk of mixing among the troops and passing false orders. One of these spies was only discovered through misuse of a well-known Australian slang-word. No one in the Australian army but knows the meaning of "dinkum." Its meaning is something the same as the American "on the level!" and is probably the commonest word in the Australian soldier's vocabulary. He will ask: "Is that dinkum news?" State that, "He's a dinkum fellow!" and so on. Well, one day a man in an Australian officer's uniform spoke to some officers in a certain sector of trench, and said he brought a message from headquarters. He was getting a lot of information and seemed to know several officers' names, but he bungled over one of them, and on the officer he was speaking to inquiring, "Is that dinkum?" he answered: "Yes, that's his name!" There was no further investigation, he was shot dead on the spot. The officer who did it may have been hasty, but there can be no doubt that justice was done, for he must have been either a Turk or a German and had already found out too much.



CHAPTER XV

THE EVACUATION

Without warning, winter came down upon us. No one guessed he was so near. We were still in our summer lack of clothing, and were not prepared for cold weather, when like a wolf on the fold the blizzard came down upon us. This was the worst enemy those battered troops had yet encountered. Hardly any of those boys had ever seen snow and now they were naked in the bitterest cold. There were more cases of frost-bite than there were of wounds in the whole campaign. More had their toes and fingers eaten off by Jack Frost than shells had amputated. In those open, unprotected trenches, in misery such as they had never dreamed could be, the lads from sunny Australia stood to their posts. When the snow melted the trenches fell in and Turk and Anzac stood exposed to each other's fire, but both were fighting a common enemy and so hard went this battle with them as to compel a truce in the fight of man against man.

Soon it was evident that our final objective of capturing the Narrows could not be accomplished with the forces we had. Directly the winter gales would arrive and on those exposed beaches no stores could be landed. We had to leave and leave quickly, or starve to death. So the evacuation was planned.

No achievement in military history was better conceived or more faithfully carried out. Here was scope for inventive genius and many were the devices used to bluff the Turk. We schooled him in getting used to long periods of silence. At first he was pretty jumpy and could not understand the change, when the men who had always given him two for one now received his fire without retaliating. After a while he decided that as we were quite mad there was no accounting for our behavior. Then we scared him some more by appearing to land fresh troops. As a matter of fact, a thousand or so would leave the beach at night and a few hundred return in the daylight under the eyes of the Turkish aeroplanes, causing them to report concentration of more troops. Stores were taken out to the ships by night, and the empty boxes brought back and stacked on the beaches during the day. It must have appeared as if we were laying in for the winter.

There were many inventive brains of high quality working at great pressure during all the days of holding on, but one of the cleverest ideas put into operation was the arrangement devised by an engineer whereby rifles were firing automatically in the front-line trenches after every man had left. There is no doubt the Turks were completely bluffed. When the remaining stores were fired after being well soaked with gasolene, the Turkish artillery evidently thought they had made a lucky hit and they poured shells into the flames and completed for us the work of destruction. I doubt if they even found the name of a Chicago packing-house on a bully-beef case, when next day they wandered curiously through the abandoned settlement that for many months had been peopled by the bronzed giants from farthest south.

The last men to leave the actual trenches were the remnant of the heroic band that were the first to land. They requested the honor of this post of danger and it could not be refused them. They must have expected that their small company would be still further thinned; but this place of miracles still had another in store, as the evacuation was accomplished from Anzac itself without a casualty.

The last party to leave the beach was a hospital unit—chaplain, doctors, and orderlies. It was intended that they should remain to care for the wounded, though they would necessarily fall into the hands of the Turks. It was not feared that they would be ill-treated, for all the reports we had of prisoners in the hands of the Turks went to show that they were well cared for. In this as in other respects the Turk showed himself to be much more civilized than the German. It was a pleasant surprise to be able to greet again these comrades, who but a few minutes before we had commiserated on their hard luck; for they came off in the last boats, there being no wounded to require their services. The padre, who was a Roman Catholic priest, said that he missed the chance of a lifetime and would now probably never know what the inside of a harem was like!

They were sad hearts that looked back to those fading shores. It almost seemed as if we were giving up a bit of Australia to the enemy. Those acres had been taken possession of by Australian courage, baptized with the best of the country's blood, and now held the sacred dust of the greatest of our citizens, whose title to suffrage had been purchased by the last supreme sacrifice. Never were men asked to do a harder thing than this—to leave the bones of their comrades to fall into alien hands. These were men white of face and with clenched fists that filed past those wooden crosses and few who did not feel shame at the desertion. Some there were who whispered to the spirits hovering near an appeal for understanding and forgiveness. They wondered how the worshippers of the Crescent would treat the dead resting beneath the symbols that to them represented an accursed infidel faith. There are cravens in Australia who suggest that she has done more than her share in this struggle, but while one foot of soil that has been hallowed by Australian blood remains in the hands of the enemy the man who would withhold one man or one shilling is not only no true Australian but no true man—a dastard and a traitor.

When peace shall dawn and the Turk shall heed the voice of United Democracy as it proclaims with force, "Thou shall not oppress, nor shalt thou close the gates of these straits again!" then shall visitors from many lands wander through these trenches and marvel what kind of men were they that held them for so long against such odds, and gaze at the honeycombed cliff where twentieth-century men lived like cave-dwellers, and sang and joked more than the abiders in halls of luxury.

To-day the name Anzac is the envy of all other soldiers, and while none would want to live that life again, every man who was there rejoices in the memory of the association and comradeship of those days. Read the "Anzac Book" and you will see that there was much talent and many a spark of genius in that army. But only those who were there know of the many busy brains that worked overtime devising improvements in the weapons that were available, and ever seeking to invent contrivances that added to comfort. Many of the inventions are forgotten, but some are in use in France to-day, notably the "periscope rifle" or "sniperscope" and the "thumb periscope" which is no thicker than a man's finger. It was found that our box-periscopes were always being smashed by the Turkish snipers; so one ingenious brain collared an officer's cane and scooped, out the centre. With tiny mirrors top and bottom, it was a very effective periscope, and soon most officers were minus their canes. Some very good bombs were made from jam-tins with a wad of guncotton, and filled up with all manner of missiles. These improvised bombs were risky to handle, and some men lost their lives through carelessness, though probably there were nearly as many accidents through overcaution. They would generally be provided with a five-second fuse, and you were supposed to swing three times before throwing. Some men who had not much faith in the time-fuse threw the bombs as soon as the spark struck, which gave the Turks time to return them. Both sides played this game of catch, but I think we were the better at it. The way of lighting the fuse was to hold the head of a match on the powder stream, drawing the friction-paper across it. This generally caught immediately, but after a while some one introduced the idea of having burning sticks in the trench, and a "torchman" would pass down the trench lighting each fuse. One man was not sure that the spark had caught and began blowing on it and was surprised when it blew his hand off. We would drop on top of the Turks' bombs a coat or sand-bag, and it was surprising how little damage was done. If you put a sheet of iron on top of one, or a sand-bag full of earth, it would make the explosion very much worse, but loose cloth would spread out and make a spring-cushion by compression of the air above.

There was another use made of empty jam-tins: they were tied to our barbed wire so that if any Turk tried to get through he would make a noise like the cowbells at milking-time. Talking about barbed wire, Johnny Turk played a huge joke on us on one occasion. As the staking down of wire was too risky, we prepared some "knife-rests" (hedges of wire shaped like a knife rest) and rolled them over our parapet, but opened our eyes in amazement to find in the morning that they had only stopped a few feet from the Turkish trenches. The Turks had sneaked out and tied ropes to them and hauled them over to protect themselves. Thereafter we took care to let Abdul do his own wiring.



CHAPTER XVI

"SHIPS THAT PASS . . ."

Although we did not capture the Narrows (that narrow stream of water through which a current runs so swiftly that floating mines are carried down into it faster than the mine-sweepers could gather them up), this did not prevent at least one representative of the navy from passing that barrier. This was the Australian submarine, A2. It may not be generally known that Australia had two submarines at the outbreak of war. These would appear antediluvian alongside the latest underwater monster, but, nevertheless, one of these accomplished a feat such as no German submarine has ever approached. The first of our submarines met an unknown fate as it disappeared somewhere near New Guinea. There has been much speculation as to what happened to it, but its size can be guessed at when I mention that a naval officer told me he thought it probable that a shark had eaten it. As was the same type, but it achieved lasting fame in that it passed under the mine-field, through the Narrows, across the Sea of Marmora, and into the port of Constantinople. Right between the teeth of the Turkish forts and fleet it sank seven Turkish troop-ships and returned safely. A certain town in Australia that was called "Germanton" has been rechristened "Holbrook" in honor of the commander of this gallant little craft.

* * * * * *

Every one has heard the story of the destruction of the Emden by the Australian cruiser Sydney, but it is worth bringing to notice that the captain of the Emden was of a different type from the pirates who have made the German sailor the most loathed creature that breathes. It is hard to believe that he was a German, for it seems incredible that a German sailor would refrain from sinking a ship because there was a woman on board. One can imagine that he would be ostracized by his brother officers of the wardroom, for he actually had accompanying him a spare ship on which to put the crews of the ships he sank. One can hardly imagine him sitting at mess with the much-decorated murderer of the women and children on the Lusitania, and it is the latter who is the popular hero in Germany. There are none more ready than the Australian soldiers to show chivalry to an honorable foe, and when the Sydney brought Captain Mueller and the crew of the Emden among the troop-ships these prisoners were cheered again and again. They could not understand their reception, but the lads from Australia admired these brave men for their plucky fight and clever exploits. Would they, had they not been captured early in the war, have changed and become like the vile, cowardly sharks that infest the seas in U-boats?

* * * * * *

The Great War is writing history on such a large scale that the old classic stories of heroism and devotion to duty will be forgotten by the next generation. The story of the Birkenhead has always been considered the highest illustration of discipline and steadiness in the face of death evinced by any troops, but the citizen-soldiers from the young Australian democracy have in this war given on two occasions proof that they possessed the same qualities. The Southland has been written in letters of gold on the pages of Australia's history. When the sneaking U-boat delivered its deadly blow in the entrails of this crowded troop-ship, there was no more excitement than if the alarm-bugles had summoned them to an ordinary parade. Some of the boys fell in on deck without their life-belts, but were sent below to get them. They had to go, many of them, to the fourth deck, but they scorned to show anxiety by proceeding at any other pace than a walk. It was soon evident that there were not enough boats left to take all off and so none would enter them and leave their comrades to go down with the ship. They began to sing "Australia Will Be There"—

"Rally round the banner of your country, Take the field with brothers o'er the foam, On land or sea, wherever you be, Keep your eye on Germany. For England home and beauty Have no cause to fear— Should old acquaintance be forgot— No—no—no, no, no— Australia will be the-re-re-re! Australia will be there!"

Some one called out, "Where?" and the answer came from many throats—"In hell, in five minutes!" and it looked like it. But nothing in a future life could hold any terrors for the man who had campaigned during a summer in Egypt. In the end volunteers were taken into the stokehole and the Southland was beached. The colonel was drowned and there were a few other casualties, but most escaped without a wetting, so what looked like an adventure turned out to be a pretty tame affair after all. But Australia will ever remember how those boys stood fast with the dark waters of death washing their feet and, like Stoics, waited calmly for whatever Fate would send them. This epic of Australian fortitude was written in September, 1915, and is part of the Dardanelles story.

But the latest troops from Australia are of the same heroic stuff as those who wrote the name "Anzac" with their blood on the Gallipoli beach. For the Southland incident was duplicated in almost every particular on the Ballarat in April, 1917. This story was enacted in the waters of the English Channel, and there were no casualties, for the work of rescue by torpedo-boats was made easy as each man calmly waited his turn and enlivened the monotony meanwhile with ragtime, and again and again did the strains of "Australia Will Be There!" ring out over the waters. As they sang "So Long, Letty," many substituted other Christian names, and it looked as if it might be "so long" in reality. But they knew that to an Australian girl there would be no "sadness of farewell" when she realized that her lover had been carried heavenward by the guardian angel that waits to bear upward the soul of a hero.

* * * * * *

"Big Lizzie" (the Queen Elizabeth) was for many months queen of the waters round Gallipoli. Her tongue boomed louder than any other, and it was always known when she spoke. She was the latest thing in dreadnoughts then, just commissioned, and the largest ship afloat. Though since that time the British navy has added several giants that dwarf even her immense proportions. The boys in the trenches and on the beach at Anzac never failed to thrill with pride as they heard her baying forth her iron hate against the oppressor. We knew that wherever her ton-weight shells fell there would be much weeping and gnashing of teeth among the enemy. We readily believed all the stories told of her prowess, no matter how impossible they seemed. No one doubted even when we heard that she had sunk a boat in the Sea of Marmora twenty-seven miles away, firing right over a mountain. She was there before our eyes an epitome of the might and power of the British navy that had policed the seas of the world, sweeping them clear of the surface pirate and also confining the depredations of the underwater assassin, so that all nations except the robber ones, might trade in safety. How true it is that the British navy has been the guarantor of the freedom of the seas, so that even in British ports over the whole wide world all nations should have equality of trade! Never has this power been used selfishly: take for instance, the British dominions of the South Seas, where American goods can be sold cheaper than those of Britain, for the shorter distance more than compensates for the small preference in tariff. The almost unprotected coast of the American continent has been kept free of invaders; its large helpless cities are unshelled, because "out there" in the North Sea the British navy maintains an eternal vigilance.

After some valuable battleships were sent to the bottom by the German submarines it was realized that "Big Lizzie" was too vulnerable and valuable to be kept in these waters; so in the later months her place was taken by some weird craft that excited great curiosity among the sailormen. These were the "monitors" which were just floating platforms for big guns. They were built originally for the rivers of South America, but it was discovered that their shallow draft made them impervious to torpedo attack; and as they were able to get close in shore, their big guns made havoc of the Turkish defenses. They do not travel at high speed and appear to waddle a good deal, but they have been most invaluable right along, and were of great assistance lately to the Italians in holding up the German drive. They have been used also around Ostend and are of prime importance wherever the flank of an army rests on the sea. I have picked up portions of their shells and seen the shrapnel lying like hail on sand-hills in Arabia (more than twenty miles from the Suez Canal, which was the nearest waterway).

We also passed some other amazing-looking craft which were being towed down the Red Sea. They looked like armored houseboats, and were for use up the Tigris. I should not like to have been boxed up in one, for it looked as if they would have to use a can-opener to get you out, and it did not appear to me as though the sides were bullet-proof. But trust the Admiralty to know what they are doing! Pages could be filled with the mere cataloguing of the various kinds of ships used by the navy in this war, and I am told that these river "tanks" were the prime factor in the advance in Mesopotamia.

A marine court would decide that the River Clyde was not a ship at all but a fortress. There was a naval engagement in this war when two ships were refused their share of the prize money for the capture of German ships because they were anchored, the sea lawyers decreeing that they were forts.

But the old, sea-beaten collier River Clyde deserves to be remembered as a ship that has passed, for before she grounded on the beach she carried in her womb as brave a company of heroes as have ever emblazoned their deeds on a nation's roll of honor. The wooden horse that carried Ulysses and the heroic Greeks into the heart of ancient Troy did not enclose a braver band than were these modern youths shut within the ironsides of the old tramp steamer which bore them into the camp of their enemies somewhere near the supposed site of the Homeric city.

Doors had been cut in the sides of the old steamer, and lighters were moored alongside with launches. When she ran aground these lighters were towed round so as to form a gangway to the shore, and the troops poured down onto them. The Turks were as prepared in this case to repel an attack as at Anzac, and held their fire until the ship was hard and fast. They then had a huge target at pointblank range on which to concentrate leaden hail from machine-guns and rifles aided by the shells from the Asiatic forts. Few lived in that eager first rush—some jumped into the sea to wade or swim, but were shot in the water or drowned under weight of their equipment. Again and again the lighters broke from their moorings, and many brave swimmers defied death to secure them. One boy won the Victoria Cross for repeatedly attempting to carry a rope in his teeth to the shore. But the crosses earned that day if they were awarded would give to the glorious Twenty-Ninth Division a distinction that none would begrudge them. The regiments of the Hampshires, Dublin, and Munster Fusiliers added in a few hours more glory to their colors than past achievements had given even such proud historic names as theirs.

The landing at Cape Helles and the wooden horse are beacons of the Gallipoli campaign that shine undimmed alongside the Australian-New Zealand landing at Anzac which, as a rising sun, proclaimed the dawn of the day of their nationhood.

Another "ship that passed" and in its passing wrought havoc on the enemy was one too small to support a man. It was a tiny raft, and it was propelled by one-man power, who swam ashore from a destroyer, towing this craft which was to bluff the Turks into believing that a whole army was descending upon them. The man was Lieutenant Freyberg, and on the raft he carried the armament that was to keep a large Turkish force standing to arms at Bulair (the northern-most neck of the Peninsula) when they might have been preventing the landing on the other beaches. The weapons this gallant young officer used were merely some flares which he lit at intervals along the beach, and then went naked inland to overlook the army he was attacking. Leaving them to endure for the rest of that night the continual strain of a momentarily expected attack, he then swam out to sea, for five miles, searching anxiously for the destroyer that was to pick him up. After several more hours of floating he was sighted by the rescuing ship and taken on board, exhausted and half dead. The Turkish papers stated that "the strong attack at Bulair was repulsed with heavy losses by our brave defenders."

This hero, who is a New Zealander, and now Brigadier-General Freyberg, V.C., is well-known in California and was at Leland-Stanford University.



PART IV

THE WESTERN FRONT



CHAPTER XVII

FERRY POST AND THE SUEZ CANAL DEFENSES

The first attack on the Suez Canal caused the authorities to realize the need of protecting the canal by having a line of defense in Arabia far enough east to prevent the enemy reaching the waterway itself. For if the Turks should again appear on the banks of the canal, they might easily put enough explosives in it to blow it up. So vital is this artery of the British Empire that a German general stated that if they struck a blow there they would sever the empire's neck. The Turkish attempt to cross the canal was easily frustrated, and of the Anzacs only a few New Zealanders had a part in the scrap; but the iron boats that they carried across the desert are in the museum in Cairo and will be for generations "souvenirs" of this enterprise.

After the evacuation of Gallipoli there were constant rumors of another attack being contemplated, and for several months the Australians and New Zealanders were kept in Egypt for the defense of the canal. Before we dug the trenches in Arabia (which were about ten miles east of the canal) passengers on steamers passing through it had some lively experiences, as the Bedouins of the desert would sometimes amuse themselves by sniping at those on board, and the wheel-house and bridge had to be protected by sand-bags.

We were camped first at Tel-el-Kebir and then at Ferry Post, near Ismailia (where the canal enters the Bitter Lake). Those who took part in the march from Tel-el-Kebir will not forget it in a hurry. The camels bolted with our water and we only had our water-bottles in a hundred miles across the desert. By the time we reached the Sweet Water Canal we were panting like dogs, our tongues swollen and hanging out, our lips cracked and bleeding. There were many poor fellows just crazed for need of a drink, under that awful sun that was like the open furnace-door of hell, with the sand filling every orifice in our faces and parching our throats till they were inflamed. We were warned that the Sweet (or fresh) Water Canal was full of germs and that to drink it might possibly mean death, but most of us were too far gone in the agony of thirst to care whether the drink were our last, and we threw ourselves down at the water's edge and lapped it up like dogs. Fortunately, there were few ill effects, and the medical staff was not overworked because of it. There might have been many casualties, though, if it had not been for the New Zealanders, who, hearing of our plight, came out with water-carts and ambulances and picked up those who had fallen by the way.

At Ferry Post there was a reorganization of the Australian battalions and we lost many of our old pals—alas! never to meet again this side of eternity.

This was the concentration camp whence brigades were despatched for a spell of trench-digging and guard duty at the outpost line. There was a good deal of rivalry between us and another brigade known as "The Chocolate Soldiers." They received this nickname because they were the most completely equipped unit that ever left Australia. They were commanded by a well-known public man, and the womenfolk had seen that they lacked nothing in sweaters or bed-socks. They had a band for every battalion, while we had to tramp along without the aid of music to enliven our lagging steps. Maybe we were a bit jealous, because they on several occasions went by train when we had to hoof it. When we went to relieve them in the trenches we met on a narrow concrete roadway where there was only room for one set of fours. The proper way to pass would have been for each to form two deep, but our boys spontaneously called out, "Give the gentlemen the road!" and we stepped aside into the sand. It took us about half an hour to pass, and all the time there was a running fire of comment. To no one in particular our fellows would remark, "Why, look? Some of them even shave!" "What a nice figure that captain has!" "They let them have real guns, too!" and as the transport passed piled high with officers' kits, there was a shout of "There go their feather beds!"

We had a sports meeting in the desert, and everybody in our brigade from the brigadier down to the cook's off-sider was delirious with joy when we carried off the "championship cup," beating the "Chocolates" by two or three points. We might not have been so elated had not the "Chocs." been such "nuts" on themselves, for they had been offering ten to one on their chances.

The part of the trenches that we occupied was known as "Hog's Back." On our left was "Duntroon" (named after the Australian West Point). In front of us was a peculiarly shaped hill called "Whale Back." We did not live in the trenches themselves, as they were continually falling in and had to be cleaned out again practically every day. Our supplies were brought within about three miles on a light tramway. Sometimes we went short, as this train had a habit of turning over when rounding a corner and emptying our much-needed tucker in the bottom of the gully.

From the rail-head, which was also the end of the pipe-line, food and water were loaded onto camels; and as I had seen something of camel transport in western Queensland, I was for a few weeks put in charge of the camel-loading. Camels are curious beasts and know to an ounce the weight they carried yesterday, and if you attempt to put on them one jam-tin more they will curse you long and loud, end up with some very sarcastic and personal remarks, and then submit to the injustice under protest. They are very revengeful and will harbor a grudge for days, waiting their chance to bite your arm off when they can catch you unawares. A camel's load has to be equal weight on each side, and it was some problem making a ham and a side of beef balance a case of canned goods. These camels were a mongrel breed, anyway, and poor weight-carriers. We usually put an eight-hundred-pound load on a camel in Queensland—I have seen one carrying two pianos—but these beasts would not carry more than two hundred pounds. A camel has never really been tamed and they protest against everything they are asked to do. They growl and swear when made to kneel, and make as much fuss again when urged to get up. Their skin never heals from a cut or sore, but they can have no feeling in it, for the Arabs simply stitch a piece of leather over the place. An old camel is all shreds and patches. They have to be provided with separate drinking-places from the horses, for they put germs in the water that give the horses some kind of disease. They are unsociable brutes and ought to be segregated, anyway. No wonder every high-bred horse is terrified at the smell of a camel; the first time you meet one it is like a blow in the face and remains a weight on your mind until the camel is a long way to leeward. They had a special objection to carrying fresh water, and nearly always bolted when they discovered it was "Adam's ale" that was swishing about on the outside of their hump. Perhaps it reminded them of their last week's drink. The result for us was that when the transport arrived there would be no water, and Mr. Ishmail and his camel would have to beat a hasty retreat from the rage of the boys, for water was our chief need, and it seems to me that there never was a time in those trenches that I wasn't thirsty.



I had some fun scouting in the desert, but on several occasions was very nearly lost when there were no stars, and hills had been altered in shape by the wind since I last passed them. We were expecting an attack by the Turks, and some camel patrols we sent out reported signs of camps but no sight of the enemy. As a consequence of these rumors our sentries were very nervous, and we scouts ran considerable risk returning to our lines before daylight. I was very nearly shot on several occasions, and once was within an ace of firing on one of my best pals. I saw a figure in the dark and, sneaking up to it, called out: "Put up your hands!" He did so, but then foolishly dropped them again. If he had not called out, "Who the hell are you?" at the same moment, he would have been a dead man.

A squadron of our Light Horse discovered a Turkish well-boring party in the desert. They were under command of an Austrian engineer, but soon surrendered when they saw that they were surrounded. This made us sure that the Turkish army could not be far away, but our aeroplanes reported no signs of it. A few weeks later an attack was made by about twenty thousand Turks on the Scottish regiment holding the line to the north of us and we had a bit of a skirmish with their flank guard. They surprised us completely; the fight was fought mostly in pyjamas on our part, but we had little difficulty in driving them off. This raid was some achievement and I take off my hat to the man who planned it. They came across those many miles of desert without being seen, bringing with them even six-inch guns. They bluffed our aeroplanes by only travelling at night and hiding under sand-colored canvas in the daytime. Their heavy transport was moved by laying a track in front of it, taking it up behind as it passed on and putting it down in front again.

We captured a lone Turk soldier nursing his blistered feet in the desert and he was delighted to join us. We also brought in at the same time a Bedouin who evidently thought we were some species of game, for although he fired on us he had no love for his Turkish companion and could not be persuaded to keep him company. The only request I heard this Turk make was for one of our uniforms. He kept pointing out the filth of his own clothes, so I had some water given to him to wash them, but this did not satisfy him at all. It was not the cleanliness of our uniforms he admired, but the cut and material. Perhaps this was policy, for generally the Turkish prisoners would remark: "Englisher very good—German damn bad!"

After this we returned to Ferry Post again and it was almost like going home for we had daily swims in the canal and plenty of liquid refreshment, the wet canteen doing a roaring trade. We were also able to buy luxuries, such as biscuits and canned puddings; and even relieve the monotony of marmalade jam with "bullocky's joy." This last is merely molasses or "golden syrup" called "bullocky's joy," sometimes "cocky's delight" because it is the chief covering for slices of bread with the bullock-driver or cocky farmer in Australia.

When a steamer was passing through the canal during our bathing-parades we had to get in up to the neck as we were warmly clad with merely a tin identity-disk hung round our necks on a piece of dirty string. Some of the passengers would throw into the water tins of tobacco and cigarettes; and there were some sprints for these made in record time, I tell you. Sometimes we would receive messages from home and it was surprising how often the man whose name was called out would chance to be present. There were occasions, however, when some one would call out from the ships: "D'you know Private Brown of the Yorkshires?" and we would have to explain that we were Australians. I suppose we could not expect them to recognize us dressed as we were, though our language should have given them a hint. On our part we would inquire if the war was still on, and tell them to give our regards to King George.

One morning the camp was all agog and the air thick with "furphies." We were ordered to get ready for embarkation, and speculation was rife as to our destination. Some said we were going to Mesopotamia. Others had it from a reliable source that we were bound for Salonika. Some one said, that some one told them, that they had heard, that a sentry outside the general's tent had overheard the general talking in his sleep and we were to make another attack on the Dardanelles! There were few who guessed we were going to France, such being too good to be true, and only the bold ones dared to whisper "that it might be so," but they were immediately told to "Shut up! Don't be an ass! Hasn't our luck been out ever since we left Australia?" I really think we were afraid to voice our hopes aloud lest Fate should overhear us, and if the word "France" was mentioned by accident we all immediately touched wood, a handy pal's head serving the purpose.

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