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Remembered Today:

26th April 1915


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“Monday 26 April: Went down to beach to see about breakfast. Got some firewood. Lit a fire and made some tea in a tin can. No water – had to use condensed sea-water pumped from the ships to the shore. Water quite salt so tea horrible. Hard biscuits and plum jam formed rest of meal. O’Neil and I went up to gun-pit to bring in gun and tripod. Spotted by sniper who let blaze every time we showed above the parapet. Kept prisoner for a long time. At last made up our minds to run the gauntlet. O’Neil took the gun and I the tripod and rushed for it. Never ran so quickly in my life. A queer sensation to hear the bullets whistling round one’s head. Took a walk over to see the havoc created yesterday at Sedd-al-Bahr. An awful mess. Big guns just a mass of twisted metal and heaps of dead Turks. Watched our artillery getting into position and the Engineers laying wires. Got the gruesome task of burying the dead at night. A weird and solemn proceeding. Heard the minister’s voice reading the Burial Service, coming out of the darkness. Our party buried 89. Another wild night. Turks attacked us at dawn. Repulsed them each time. No sleep again. Beginning to feel tired and dirty now. Bruce Webster left with dysentery.”

from the ‘Diary of John F. Goate, Machine Gun Section, 5th Royal Scots, 29th Division’ [discovered after his death in 1946, by his daughter Ms Dorothy Goate] as reproduced in ‘The Gallipolian’ issue No.91, Winter 1999

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[Meanwhile, at Anzac]

“Next morning, 26th April, I was up about 4 a.m. and was ordered to report to O.C.Covering Troops (Brig.Gen. MacLagan). I had a rather parlous journey there, as no one knew where he was. I might have strolled into the Turks at any moment. I found him at last plumb in the firing line and asked where he wanted artillery support, he got up, waved his arm through a semi-circle and said everywhere round there. He was then on what was afterwards called Braunds Hill, and after a discussion we decided that fire was most wanted on what afterwards became the Chessboard.

I selected a gun position pretty high up and ordered up the battery. After a long interval a very heated subaltern arrived with a couple of gunners carrying wheels and said all the loads would have to be carried up as the ground was very steep, and sodden with rain and the mules weak, and that we could not possibly have four guns in action under a hour. I then selected a new position lower down, keeping my original high O.P. We got into action at last and began shelling movement on the Chessboard, while two guns began shelling us. After a lot of searching I managed to shut up these when about 50% of shell were graze on a certain small saddle at the top of the Chessboard. After the Suvla push we got to where we could see where the guns must have been, but I never could spot any suitable gun position near. We eventually settled down to two guns shelling the saddle and two the Chessboard and hope we did some good. The Australians were very polite about our assistance that day, as always.

Sometime in the morning Trenchard rejoined. His mules and men were very done, there was no room for his guns in line with the others, so I told them to get under cover, all gunners to be organised in reliefs so that all could get some rest, and Trenchard came up to me as my opposite number. He got a good sleep, but of course, as soon as it was my turn the Turks got lively and I could not spare myself. The O.P. was very much worried by snipers, they got my telephonist who was lying taking cover behind Trenchard and myself. Gunner Sher Singh, he died of wounds, our first death, (Driver Havildar Saidullah was actually our first casualty on Gallipoli) but how he got hit without the bullet passing through one of us is a mystery.

About noon on the 26th April a man from the Naval Division arrived and said he heard we were being worried by snipers and had been sent to help, can’t imagine who by absolutely no one had been near our O.P. However we in our turn waved our arms airily round and said ‘All round. Carry on.’ He was a top hole shot at Bisley, one heard the occasional ejaculation of ‘Got him,’ and certainly we rapidly got much more comfortable. He packed up his tracks at dusk and pushed off. I never knew his name.

From time to time during the day I went to General MacLagan to ask the situation, but was always told to carry on. I went up at dusk, and was told I could pull out to the beach at dark. While I was there a lot of Australians began to come back. The General dashed out to organise something to stop them, and I dashed off to the O.P. in case the whole line came back and we had to push off in a hurry. We saw first a lot of wounded Australians coming back, then others not wounded, and finally a party I could not identify. They looked very like Australians who had cut their hats into fancy shapes, a very common thing among them. They came and settled in an old trench at our backs about 20 yards off, and started firing into us. It was now very dark, and we thought they were Australians who had lost their sense of direction, so we waved our arms and shouted but they took no notice, so I told the Naval sniper to have at them. Just as he was going to fire I stopped him, but I am now convinced I let off Turks, as their officer was wearing a sword and none of our officers landed with swords, but I did not know that till later.

We pulled out without casualties from this source and settled down for the night on Queensland Ridge again, but not quite in the same place. I found the Battery had some casualties, both Thom and Rawson had been hit by spent bullets but neither badly enough to report.”

from the account written in 1916 by the late Colonel A. C. Fergusson, known to his troops as ‘Percussion Sahib,’ who when a Major, commanded 21 (Kohat) Mountain Battery. Made available to The Gallipoli Association by his son Colonel Kenneth Fergusson and published in the journal, ‘The Gallipolian’ No.85, Winter 1997.

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Thanks for posting this information Michael. It is all very interesting-

I have not read an account from the Mountain Battery perspective- Does it go for much longer?


Geoff S

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Fergusson was there till the end; something like '238 days under fire' is mentioned. The article stretches to about 23 pages and I am lucky today in having some spare time, but I cannot promise to keep this up, I will however do my best.

Somewhere else I see that you and Andrew were talking about an officer’s sword and Fergusson’s mention of a sword caught my attention.

Best regards

Michael D.R.

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Throuhout the first night, every available soldier on the heights obeyed General Sir Ian Hamilton's order to "dig, dig, dig!" Similarly, at the beach, every hour of darkness was used to get as many men and stores as possible ashore before sunrise. Field guns came ashore and were manhandled up steep slopes into position, while assorted stores were piled high along the top of the beach.

Bloody Gallipoli; Richard Stowers

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With sunrise on 26 April came renewed Turkish shrapnel fire. A battery from the direction of Gaba Tebe pounded Anzac positions, especially the frontline, Plugge's Plateau and the beach, until naval gunfire silenced the guns about midday.

...By the end of 26 April a frontline had been established. Trenches had been dug or strengthened; ammmunition, stores and water had been hauled up to the trenches by working parties under the constant surveillance of Turkish snipers, and an improvised pier had been constructed on the beach from some stranded barges.This pier sufficed until Watson's Pier was erected.

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