The Galloway Gazette, February 12th 1916
LOCAL SOLDIERS INSPECTED BY CAMP COMMANDANT
Lieutenant-Colonel Agnew, wrote to a friend in Newton Stewart about the bravery and stoicism of the Wigtownshire soldiers serving with the 5th Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers during their time in Gallipoli:
“I came across the men at Helles, shortly after the big fight on the 12th July, and was glad to hear they had behaved splendidly. The Wigtownshire company suffered heavy casualties in that fight, but they were quite undaunted. Since then they have had continuous work in the trenches and distinguished themselves again recently in a dashing and successful attack preceding the evacuation of the peninsula. Their commanding officers spoke highly of the manner in which the Wigtownshire men had conducted themselves and the Colonel paraded the men for my inspection.
“I had a word with all of them, found them in excellent trim and spirits and ready for any work.
As regards myself, at present I am Commandant of Mudros, but expect to be fighting in another part of the world shortly. It has been most interesting work and a great experience and so far I have kept wonderfully well and gone through it without a scratch.”
“GO ON SIR, KILL ‘EM. KILL AS MANY AS YOU CAN”
Lieutenant N Stewart, the son of the Rev Alex Stewart, wrote a graphic and detailed letter home to his father in Newton Stewart about being in action:
“At present I am quite on my own and run the section on my own lines. I am in great spirits to-night in spite of the fact that it is not ‘rum night’ and that we shall probably be skating tomorrow morning on the frozen surface of the mud in our trenches.
Well, we have been in action again - December 19th. No doubt you will have read an account of the scrap, and not having seen our Brigade mentioned, concluded that we were back in rest camp kicking our heels in impotent disgust - not we! True, the brigade was not running the show but the division very decently gave the machine gun section a look in. And, we had the most exciting time and the best targets of any guns engaged. 1400- Stand by your guns!
“I made a few enquiries to ensure everything was correct then I went to my observation post where I could direct and control the fire of my battery. Fifteen minutes later we were loosing off our .303s. Eleven mines exploding simultaneously caused no inconsiderable portion of the dear old Peninsula to rise up a lot higher than normally. ‘Wump-wump’ went all the parapets within radius and with a final reluctant ‘wump’ settled back in their former places. ‘Tap-tap-tap’ spoke the machine guns, each one going 500 to the minute. ‘Skree-wang’ went the shells as they plastered the trenches and communications with jagged metal. One reads of the smoke and din of battle, but never realise what it all means. That little corner of Hell spoke for itself, however. Landmarks had vanished, or were dimmer than dim outlines. Through it all struggled grim, dun-coloured little figures, so small as to seem quite insignificant; and yet it was those tiny khaki shapes we watched so anxiously - it was their show; everything was planned for them.
“Hallo” What’s that?” I think I have spotted two enemy machine guns.
“Sergeant! Telescope.......Well I’m blowed!”
Our artillery has been busy, and what I did see through the glass was a part of the trench laid bare and simply teaming with riflemen firing rapid.
“Shall I risk it? It’s against orders..... dare I?, I thought. Here goes, it’s worth it.
“C Gun cease fire!”
“Keep quiet Anderson !” - this to a veteran old hand working the belt firing machine. He kept up an incessant chatter and had everyone in his vicinity joining in his jokes. His favourite comment was: “What did you do in the war daddy?” with the answer “Sit in a big hole canin’ an auld sausage machine!”
The belt-filler silenced we got back to business.
“50. Tree. Black sandbags!” to give No.1 his point of aim. “Fire!”
“Tap left - elevate slightly - fire!”
The message running down a chain of connecting files to the gun. In a very few minutes we had removed a few incautious Turks, including an officer, and then....”Up 50 - tap left - fire!”
The message echoed in the distance as before.
“Damn that No.1 gun! What’s wrong with the man?“
“Gun boiling sir.”
“D gun - pick up the target. Right. Fire! Splendid work.”
D gun mopped up all the Turks except one, who seemed to have a charmed life, so we let him enjoy it a little longer.
“Up 50 - 2 taps left.”
Another belt or so and we had accounted for 75 per cent of the Turks in the next part of the trench. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.
“Poor blighters. I’m sorry for them”, I remarked to the sergeant by my side.
“Not me sir, not me. Go on sir, kill them; kill as many as you can. The more you kill now the sooner we get home. Remember Belgium.”
This from Anderson the irrepressible who, desisting for a moment from cursing his belt-filler, added “it serves them right for join in’.”
Then counter attacks, tension, stand-to’s - the usual thing; each man trying to be funnier than his neighbour at the expense of the shells which just miss them and splatter space with earth and metal.
No time to read this over as the orderly is waiting - time’s up!”
POPULAR KIRKCOWAN SOLDIER KILLED
Mr Ross, Main Street, Kirkcowan, has received the following news from battalion headquarters at Mudros, Gallipoli, regarding the death of his son, Private T Ross, RDN.
“The company was standing to arms on November 15th, just before dawn, standing on the firing step as usual when your son was hit on the head by a stray bullet. He died from this wound the very same day and his platoon volunteered to bury him themselves as he was so popular. This was duly done with the Rev Atlee conducting the service. His grave is marked by a wooden cross, near the battalion headquarters. A bible and a watch belonging to him have been returned to you. His friends ask that you take special care of them.
“One of the thing we did before leaving the Peninsula was to clean up our graves, including your son’s. We trust that the Turks, who have played the game so far, will respect it.”
SOLDIERS MISSING FOR OVER A YEAR PRESUMED DEAD
Official word has come through from the War Office about the fate of Corporal W Dorans, 1st Royal Scots Fusiliers, who has been listed as missing since 13th November, 1914.
His brother-in-law Mr Blain lived in Cunninghame Terrace, Newton Stewart at the time and gave the letter to the Gazette to be reprinted. It read simply: “It is my painful duty to inform you that no further news having been received relative to Corporal Dorans since November 1914, the Army Council conclude that he is dead, and that his death took place on 13th November or since.”
Corporal Dorans was employed on Craigenholly Farm, Glenluce, prior to the war starting.