Galloway’s Great War

Piper Marr was wounded when seving in the Dardanelles
Piper Marr was wounded when seving in the Dardanelles

The Galloway Gazette

September 25th, 1915

LIFE IN THE DARDANELLES

Private Robert Ross 1/5th KOSB, was wounded in the bottle on July 12th at the Dardanelles and is now in hospital in this country. In the course of a letter to his sister, who lives in Girvan, he says he was shot in the back and right hip. His back is better but his doctor says the bullet is still in his hip and that injury is not making much progress. He has had Xrays and is due to have an operation shortly. Ross states that he is glad to be away from the Dardanelles. It is a terrible place and the KOSB have lost a lot of men either killed or wounded.

Regarding the battle on the 12th, he writes:

“I shall never forget it as long as I live. When we got orders to charge every man got up and out of his trench and made for the Turkish trenches with fixed bayonets. It was terrible to see. When we were getting across the open the Turks’ artillery began to pour shells down upon us. Shells came down like rain and it was dreadful to see your chums fall at your side and hear their cries. But we made the Turks pay very dear for it with the bayonet. We took three lines of trenches and a good number of prisoners and we fairly rubbed it into them.

The Dardanelles district is not the least like France, for it does not matter where you are you are under shellfire. There is no real rest camp because the Turkish artillery can shell you there easier than in the firing line.

A good deal of the ‘bowel’ trouble strikes me as being due to the sudden cancellation of our butter. Would cod liver oil and malt be an efficient substitute? This morning the camp kettle seemed to have got mixed. At any rate a mess of 12 men received a very small helping of bacon. Consequently, the grousing was growing louder and louder. Just then a wag who was lying near the ‘dixie’ bestirred himself and, looking down into the contents drawled, with a twinkle in his eye: “Is that mine’s?” The absurdity of the situation provoked considerable mirth, and soon things were put right.

“A letter should take a little less than three weeks to reach here: a parcel usually somewhat longer. Please don’t send tiny quantities. One of our subs has just given me a chunk of Peter’s Chocolate. He has a large box of it containing several pounds. It does taste delicious, even after less than a fortnight’s campaign.”

Private Ross wrote to his sister again on September 4th:

Our second spell in the fire trenches has come to an end. So far, things - so far as I am concerned - have gone without mishap. Yesterday forenoon I took my section down to the sea for a dip in the briny. The sea was calm and the water seemed purer than usual - the weather, of course, was delightfully warm. No wonder we voted it the finest swim we had had in our lives. Trench warfare does make a man appreciate a seaside holiday.

Wandering through the 5th KOSB lines the other day, I met Sergt. McMillan (tailor), Sergt. J Diamond, Lance-Corporal Gibson (Kirroughtree Lodge), Pte. Sam McKeand (Mansefield), Sergt. T Findlay (Minnigaff) - all Newton Stewart and district. All looking fit and well and wishing to be remembered to you.

Dysentery and diarrhoea are the dread diseases out here; everyone is on their guard against them. Our gunners were giving poor old John Turk a pretty thin time in certain parts of the peninsula last evening. The Turks’ replies become fainter and fainter. Yesterday, though, they plastered the sky round one of our planes but I have yet to see them bring one of these craft down.

I cannot think what is delaying your mail and parcels. Can it be they have gone to the bottom with some ship or other? It is the anticipation and the realisation of getting one’s mail that decide to a great extent ones outlook on life in general.

Yesterday evening a fortunate officer who had received several parcels from home shared some of their contents with me. They were appreciated to the full, needless to say. Finding that my men were short, I distributed a few of my spare handkerchiefs among them. Yesterday I saw a Frenchman fishing for frogs in a stream and he had quite a catch.”