Galloway’s Great War

Private Kendrick
Private Kendrick

From The Galloway Gazette,

September 18th, 1915

BATTLING THE ENEMY AND THE BLUEBOTTLES

Two members of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers - one Sergeant Agnew from Newton Stewart and the other Private RM Wells from Maxwelltown, have just arrived home after being wounded in the Dardanelles.

They had an interesting experience out there and fought side by side at Gallipoli.

One was wounded on 1st July and the other on the 12th. Both paid tribute to the officers they served with.

Twelve officers were either killed or wounded and both men paid a particularly high tribute to Captain Youngson, the Adjutant of the battalion.

“He’s most popular”, one said, while the other added: “As long as he is with us we feel that everything is alright.”

They were also very complimentary of the French artillery, adding: “It’s the business”.

This shows the supreme confidence the British Tommy has in his French comrade. We get along splendidly together”, Sergeant Agnew remarked, “and we often used to have a tot of rum together”.

But two matters that are the subject of general complaint among these Gallipolian campaigners are the flies and the dead.

“The plague of files”, says Private Wells, “means you have to fight hard at times to get a biscuit and jam.

“But once you have got it you have a harder fight to decide weather you or the bluebottles are to eat it!”

He continued: “Then there are the Turkish dead. The enemy do not bother much about burying them. After one attack on the French lines had been heavily repulsed, the enemy proceeded at one point to build embankments with their own dead.

Regularly too, they bury men in the trenches where they fall, often only a foot or so below the ground. “This was particularly noticeable in regard to one trench which the Scottish Borderers captured, and which they proceeded to improve by deepening it.

“They had not dug far before they came on several corpses - a most unhealthy state of matters which they hurriedly sought to remedy.

“After all their privations and dangers, however, the men continue strong in the conviction that victory at Gallipoli is only a matter of time; the losses will still be heavy, but success is assured.”

The Galloway Gazette,

September 25th, 1915

“IT MUST BE HARD FOR THE PEOPLE BACK HOME”

Mr David McKenzie, Victoria Street, Newton Stewart, had a letter from his good friend Sergeant Tom Findlay, who is out at the Dardanelles:

“We have had it very quiet out here for a few days past, and not much doing; still, there are always a few nasty bits of lead flying about, and some shells also.

“Occasionally they find their mark, just to let us know they are still there.

“We have been up here for twenty days in the firing line, and then reserve, and back into it again. You may guess yourself how this work tells on a fellow - want of sleep and keeping a keen look out - and one always has the same old strain on him.

“However, our little band is sticking it very well, and, as far as I can hear from all sides, the thing is going all right, but to my idea very slow. It will be the old saying - slow but sure.”

Speaking of the charge on 12th July, he says: “We had a lot of good lads went down that day, I am very sorry to say.

“Poor Willie Scott got a nasty wound, and I felt very much for him when I saw him lying at my feet in our newly-taken Turkish trench.

“I see by the papers he is in Glasgow and I am very proud of it, for he was game, I can tell you. Poor Bertie Gilbert paid the price with his life - the making of a fine, tall young man. It must be very hard on the people at home. I hear that the old town is very quiet just now, but I trust that we will be spared to come back very soon and liven it up a bit. I noticed in the paper that Jack Gow, who went away to Australia, has been killed out here, and, very strange to say, Jamie Parker found his coat with his name on it.”