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.
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
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