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Category: Gallipoli

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The Evacuation of ANZAC by one of the last men to get out.

Corporal Edgar Worrall

Did he fire


of the Gallipoli Campaign

or just


at Lone Pine?

Read his version and that of C E W Bean and the letter of his OC sent after his death in 1917.

Received 3rd August 1916


My Dear Father,

You want some more detailed account of the Evacuation. Well here it is - for private consumption.

Early in December, about the 10th I think, rumour had it that we would be off before Christmas. Few believed that Evacuation could be carried out without enormous loses (sic). Things then began to happen rapidly. Down on the Beach a big Condenser was taken to pieces and disappeared. Big mines and earthworks were left uncompleted and what was more important, gift foodstuffs that were being hoarded up for Christmas were given out plentifully so we had for once ample and variety. The last few days big guns were taken away but all machine guns left. Then ammunition bombs and stores that could not be taken away were dumped. Then began arguements (sic) as to whom were to be left in the last party.

Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey. 17 December 1915. 

A delayed action device invented by Lance Corporal William Charles Scurry (later Captain W.C. Scurry, MC, DCM) of the 7th Battalion, AIF, for firing a rifle by means of weights operated through water escaping from one tin into another. 

A rifle could be left to operate twenty minutes after the device was set. Six rifles were left by 3rd Brigade to fire following the departure of the last party.

Sick and weak men were got away. And then battalions not actively occupied. At last each of the remaining men were given a clip of paper - at least this was carried out in nearly all Battalions - with his name on it and a Cryptic sign ranging from A1 to C3. The A parties were to leave on the Saturday in order, A1, first A2 and it there were such a party A3. B parties left on Saturday at about 11.30. This left 3 only three parties left C1, C2, C3. C1 left early Monday morning; C 2 about 2.15 and then only 32 men were left in Lone Pine.

The garrison of which normally was a Battalion with another company in support. I tell you there was some rivalry as to staying with the C3 party. Round on our right Warne Smith & Gamble, my two best pals through Wesley kept vigil until the C (?) party left. The early hours of Monday morning were quiet and tense and the Turk could be heard strengthening his barbed wire. At last our time to go had come and with blankets tied round our feet to muffle the noise we made our way along the blanket covered trenches out to the communication trench and then down to the beach.

Parties from other parts of the line all converged at the pier and moved quietly aboard. At this juncture Russell Top a prominent part of the line rose up in flame and a roll of thunder reverberated through the gullies, the result of a gigantic mine. The Turks opened up a terrific fire on the Top but there was no one there of course. Quietly the big tug moved out with us to the larger transport and in a few moments we were underway for Mudros where we spent Christmas. Really nothing exciting happened and these tall stories of a last rush to the beach lead (sic) by a tall fair boy etc etc are a beautiful piece of fabrication. An engineer or two were left behind until dawn but all got of (sic) O.K.

I see in Harry's letter you said you told Senator Pearce about my firing the last shot in the Evacuation. I hope you didn't; I probably fired the last shot at Lone Pine - I said - but that is a vastly different thing. Imagine my surprise when I saw something concerning me in the Spectator. I rather It hadn't appeared.

Many ingenious contrivances came to light during the last hours to deceive the Turks. Automatically constructed rifles etc. I want this to be posted in England so must close at once as someone in just going on leave.

Five of my platoon have already been wounded in France. We are near Ypres and expect to join up the Canadians in a few days.

Love to all


"Stratford" Bank Street, South Melbourne


Rev. Henry Worrall, Prahran,

Dear Sir,

I notice your son has paid the supreme penalty in France recently, and in offering my sincere sympathy to you and your family in your great loss, I would like to say a few words in appreciation of your son, as a soldier and a gentleman. As an N.C.O. at Gallipoli his work was excellent, and he carried out trying patrol work in addition to his other duties, in a most satisfactory manner, being always cool and self-possessed.

I was in charge of the last party from our Company, at the evacuation, of which Edgar was one of those chosen, and I well remember the coolness he displayed on that occasion. When leaving the trenches at the last moment, after having warned the men to file silently out, on returning along the line to make sure all were clear, I found him leisurely having a ‘last pot’ at the Turks.

I afterwards was given command of the Coy. and promoted him to the rank of Sergeant and his work with me up to the time he was wounded in the raid at Armentieres, was always marked by the utmost cheerfulness and willingness. I was pleased to note that he was granted a commission on his return to the unit but regret he was not spared longer to prove his true worth. He was nicknamed "Johnnie" Worrall by the boys (I presume after the famous football coach) and was one of the most popular fellows in the company. I feel that I must write these few words in appreciation of a fallen comrade.

Yours Sincerely,

Geo McIlroy (Capt)


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