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Remembered Today:

Remembering the 'Dubsters'


ckop4

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Extracts from letters published in the ‘Cork Examiner,’ May and June, 1915 -

THE DUBLINS AT THE DARDANELLES

A TERRIBLE DEATH TOLL

MUNSTERS SUFFER HEAVILY

The following extract is taken from a letter written by Sergeant J. Colgan, of the Dublin Fusiliers, who now lies wounded in the Royal Naval Hospital, Malta, to his wife, who lives at 72 Cheverel Street, Coton.

‘Just a line to let you know I am alive yet, only a bit broken up. I expect by now the casualty list has appeared in the papers, and you can guess the awful milling we got. I got off very lucky, as I received three wounds, but two of them are only scratches. I am going on fine, and am lucky to get away alive, as nearly everyone you knew is killed, both sergeants and privates. All the heals were killed, including Fr. Finn.

On the Sunday night there were only 115 to answer their names. Whether there are any left or not now I don’t know, but it was awful. There were thirty-two in my boat, and only six escaped alive including O’Hanlon, who had his hand blown off. He and I were trying to save one another when he got hit again in his foot, and fell back into the boat.

Two bullets went through my pack, and I dived into the sea. Then came the job to swim with the pack, and one leg useless. So I managed to pull out the knife and cut the straps and swim to shore about half a mile. All the time bullets were ripping around me.

My G-! I’ll never forget what we went through all day Sunday, and then Sunday night, lying waiting for someone to take us off, but no one came as it was too dangerous.

About 12.30 on Sunday night they made an attack, but we were prepared. I managed to drag myself from the beach up into a dug-out or else be killed. I got a rifle there, and they came on in thousands, …..

The Lancs got it hard, also the Munsters who were with us.’

MUNSTERS GET IT HOT

WOUNDED SLOWLY DROWN IN SEA

The Munster Fusiliers, who were billeted at Coventry, have been cut up quite as badly. Extracts from some of their letters to Coventry make interesting reading.

Private O Shaughnessy, of the 1st Munsters, now in Military Hospital, Malta, writes:-

‘There is not much of the Munsters left, as we had a very hot time of it, which I shall never forget.’ After mentioning comrades killed and wounded, he says: ‘I will never leave the 25th of April out of my head. We landed in the Dardanelles on the 25th of April, which was very strongly held with Turks and Germans. We had to walk up to our heads in water, and those who were hit in the water were drowned.’

Private W. Moriarty, writing from the Malta Naval Hospital says:-

‘Most of our officers and about 700 or 800 men were either killed, wounded or drowned. The Dublins and the Lancs lost as heavily as we did, for we were all in the same Brigade. There were some of our chaps hit while in two feet of water, and could not move, so when the tide started to come in it was awful to see those chaps getting drowned and roaring for someone to save them. The Navy saved a lot of them, as we could not help, being ashore firing. ….. We advanced about three miles the day we landed. After that I can tell you no more, only that I am in hospital, very near dead.’

THE DARDANELLES

FATE OF THE MUNSTERS AND LEINSTERS [sic]

GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS

Mr. Joseph Cullen, 5 Blessington Street, Dublin, has received the following letter dated Malta, 26th May, and bearing the Malta postal stamp, 28th May, from his friend, Private R. Martin (No. 9795), X Company, 1st Dublin Fusiliers, St. Andrew’s Barracks, Malta. The writer gives a graphic description of the landing of the Dublin Fusiliers and the Munster Fusiliers on the Gallipoli Peninsula. The letter as follows:-

‘Dear Joe. – Just a line to let you know I am back from the Dardanelles, but am not wounded, but am sent back here with fever, after having a time of it with the Turks. As usual, the poor Irish suffered. But I am very glad to say that the old Dublins did great work, also the Munster Fusiliers; but we paid dearly for it. We started on the 25th of last month (which fell on a Sunday morning) at 6 o clock. I shall never forget it in all my life.. We came across in small boats, but when we got to 200 yards from the beach, they opened fire on us. There were 25 in my boat, and there were only 3 of us left. It was sad to hear our poor chums moaning, and to see others dead in the boat. I had to stop in the boat till near that evening when I jumped out into the water. It was a terrible sight to see the poor boys dead in the water; others on the beach roaring for help. But we could do nothing for them.

Dear Joe, I must have had someone’s good prayer for I do not know how I escaped. Those who were lying wounded on the shore, in the evening the tide came in and they were all drowned, and I was left by myself on the beach. I had to remain in the water for about three hours, as they would fire on me as soon as they saw me make a move. I thought my life was up every minute. Dear Joe, the worst of all was we had a priest who came along with us. He was in the boat, he insisted on coming with us as he said he would be wanted for the poor boys. They were all calling for him, but the poor priest could do nothing for them. He got out of the boat afterwards and made a great run for the beach, but the Turks got him as soon as he landed, for he was hit four times. He died that evening, but he was still asking for us up to the time he died.

…..I would like you to send me a paper with the names of the wounded and killed of the old regiment. We have only 200 men left out of 1,100. It is the worst place I have ever seen. However, we made the way for the landing of the British Army. We never saw a cigarette, which is a great chum of ours out here. We have been fighting 16 days and nights in the trenches, and we never got a rest; so there is a great difference between this and France. Some of the boys who were at Mons said it was nothing to what was out here. It was a proper death trap. We had to make our own trenches, so the remainder who land now will be quite safe as the dirty work is all done.

Now, dear Joe, I would like to know what the people at home thought when they heard of the poor Dublin Fusiliers and Munsters. I am sure there will be many a tear over the poor Irish who fell out here. …..I won’t be long now till I am in the firing line again, as I am getting quite better. …..I hope you will write soon. Tell all the boys I am still alive and kicking. – I remain, your old chum, ROBERT’

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Thanks Jean !

Oh yes ! .... we'll remember the Dubsters !

The soldiers who died with honour and the very few who lived to tell about that terrible day !

God Love them all !

Annie

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After the Dawn Service at ANZAC, my wife Serpil and I drove down to Seddulbahir to hold our own private service at V Beach, reading the names of each of those who lay in V Beach Cemetery, reciting the Ode and then having a minute's silence to commemorate all those who fell in the Helles Landings and throughout the campaign.

Though there is a service held on 24 April to commemorate the troops of the British, French and other countries whose men served in the campaign the role of those other forces does get rather lost in the focus on the Australians and New Zealanders.

Lest we forget

Bill

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After the Dawn Service at ANZAC, my wife Serpil and I drove down to Seddulbahir to hold our own private service at V Beach, reading the names of each of those who lay in V Beach Cemetery, reciting the Ode and then having a minute's silence to commemorate all those who fell in the Helles Landings and throughout the campaign.

Though there is a service held on 24 April to commemorate the troops of the British, French and other countries whose men served in the campaign the role of those other forces does get rather lost in the focus on the Australians and New Zealanders.

Lest we forget

Bill

And a really nice gesture Bill. But I wonder if you took any photographs - and if you did, would you share them with us?

Jean

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Jean,

I am afraid Serpil and I didn't think to take any photos, we were just caught up by the silence and the contemplative mood of the moment. Let's just say that the sound of the waves on a warm and windless spring day, the scent of the freshly cut grass and the flowers in bloom all made for an atmosphere of quiet commemoration.

Bill

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