Gallipoli : memories of ANZAC.1959

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Unidentified announcer: Gallipoli : memories of Anzac. In this NZBS programme you will hear a Turkish soldier's song about Gallipoli, extracts from an address to cadets of the Turkish army on the Gallipoli campaign, and greetings from Turkey to New Zealand. The New Zealand voices are those of a corporal in the Engineers, a captain and a major who served on Gallipoli, and a brigadier of today. Also a woman doctor who cared for Anzac wounded.

[Turkish music plays and is faded under each speaker.]

Unidentified male speaker: Gallipoli. Gallipoli. Gallipoli.

Unidentified male speaker [probably Jim Meek]: A hot dusty and very rowdy atmosphere Kiwi, a rough-house environment, no place for a nice person at all. All fully occupied but far from NZ. Far from the farm. Far from a Speight's and a plate of oysters. Far from Mabel's kisses. Too flaming far!

Unidentified male speaker [probably Ernest Harston]: Of course it was like any other war. We tried to kill them and they tried to kill us.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker: On the deep waters of Cannakale, on the hills of Geliboru, history had recorded one of the most majestic turning points, long to be remember by the peoples of the world. The date April 15 [sic], 1915. The turning point, the landing of the Anzac forces on the shores of Geliboru, Turkey. This was a battle between opponents geographically located far from each other. But this was a battle which brought them together and which put the seeds of friendship into the hearts of their people. The battle lasted eight and a half months but it became the cause for the admiration and praise that both nations felt for each other.

Ernest Harston: I suppose the main difference between Gallipoli and France was that Gallipoli was a friendly kind of war, in some ways in spite of its enormous casualties. If somebody made a joke down at the end of the Australian lines on the right, we were usually laughing over it on the New Zealand lines up on the left. It all filtered through. We had all the same jokes about Birdwood and everything else, sort of linked in together.

Jim Meek: You know the jokers who brought up the ammunition, the sandbags and the imitation stew, would rehash some of the fun poked at some of the members of the Staff, so seldom seen right up at the front. And this would be dished up something like this:
Heard the big news? Old Weak Knees has become a casualty. Good Heavens! How on earth could this happen? Ah, the rope broke as he was lowering himself down into his 30 foot deep dug-out [laughter].
Within a few minutes such a gag would send a laugh all along the line at Quinn's Post.
After a night of ferocious firing and noise and rumpus, there might be just a little bit of a lull, as the dawn of a new day came up over the hills in front of us. Then the shrill crowing of a rooster would rise from our front line. The crowing came from a sapper, Freddie de Rose, who was a perfect natural with his imitations. As our cock crew, a relieving laugh would break out all along the line of over-strained diggers. Poor old Freddie, he died at Ismailia, after the evacuation.

Dr. Agnes Bennett: At Port Said, where I had decided to land, we met lines of ambulances with casualties from the hospital ship, Guildford Castle. Some had been taken from the water from the sunk ship, Gladiator. One poor young deck hand from his stretcher, wished he had not been saved, as all his mates were drowned before his eyes and nothing would cheer him. There were sinister happenings too, the hideous happenings of war. An ANZAC saw his brother shot down in no-man's land, in an early morning raid. He tried to get him, but was held back by his mates. All day he watched and he saw occasional movement in the prostrate figure. Nightfall came and he was allowed out of the trench and found his brother dead. In a fit of despair, he tried to commit suicide and suffering from dysentery and typhoid, he was admitted to my hospital ward under guard. That was a terrible stigma in the eye of all the ward and it was some time before we could get permission for removal of the guard.

Ernest Harston: In Quinn's, night merged into day there wasn't very much difference because we were so close to each other that you were continually on guard. We tunnelled under their trenches and they tunnelled under ours. We used to have men down below, listening and we would tunnel towards any place where we heard them coming. We would stop and lay a charge and then come back and wait and the bomb officer, er, explosive officer would sit there in my dug-out and say "Goodbye Johnny" and up would come the exploder and down, you see, and there would come the explosion. The Turks would probably do the same to us the next night.

Jim Meek: I was never actually in the mining team. That was New Zealand Tunnelling - mostly chaps who had worked in the mines and on goldfields and that back in NZ, but I was told by them about an unpleasant incident. One of our chaps noticed a spot in the roof of his tunnel where he was working, it was threatening to cave in, so he decided to insert an upright prop at the spot. Just as he was lowering the prop firmly into position it suddenly dropped through the floor of the shaft right at his feet and disappeared. A Turkish shaft was right below ours!

Ernest Harston: The tunnellers were continually working and they used to wake me up as I was the Adjutant and they couldn't get rum unless they had a chit from me. And they deserved their rum, crawling into these tunnels, picking away and listening, listening, never knowing if the Turk was lurking for them just as we used to lurk for the Turk.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker: And now here is a description of that battle from an address given to the cadets of the Turkish Military Academy in Ankara:
"General, cadets. As we celebrate the anniversary of the Battle of the Dardanelles, here at our Military Academy, with our whole heart and soul we feel assured that the spirit of our soldiers fallen in that battle and the trust of our beloved country are with us. The souls of the dead of the Dardanelles are now at peace, for the victory for which they gave their lives bears as one of its best fruits, the physical and moral excellence of our young cadets."

Jim Meek: Nothing was easy to do, so nothing was easy to forget. Everything was difficult to do and so difficult to forget. Let me see how many jobs I can remember: barbed wire entanglements, bomb-deflecting screens out in front, overhead cover on the frontline trench, snipers' possies facing Dead Man's Ridge - or as it was sometimes called No Man's Ridge, steps up the steepest of the saps where the clay had been pounded to dust, loopholes in the frontline parapet with some iron or steel loophole plates added later, recesses in the frontline for additional riflemen, an emergency machine gun possie on top of a long shaft tunnelled up through the ridge on the right of the position with a tiny aperture for seeing and firing down on the Turks position if ever they should decide to advance against Quinn's. Sandbag barricades on tracks leading up to Quinn's, additional deviation saps in case those generally in use were blocked during an attack, counter-mining underneath the Turks' mines and underneath the Turks' trenches, restoring frontline clay parapets that had been shot, of course to dust, with bags of shingle lumped by the Diggers all the way from the beach. Then we put up bridge barricades across the approaches to the Post to block the spent machine gun fire of the Turks. We established pits for home-made trench mortars. We supplied periscopes and periscope rifles to the boys in the frontline. We established dumps where emergency tools and materials could be had as soon as required by the garrison of Quinn's.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker: Cadets - and now you expect me to describe the Turkish plan of campaign to you. but how , in view of the limited material resources of the Turkish Army can we speak of a plan of campaign? What could the plan of a few earth dug-outs, some old guns and a handful of men be? Only this; the last shell and the last drop of blood. this was to become our national maxim and the simple plan that took its place in our hearts like a prayer. In this comparison of material strength we have left out the one factor that was to play a decisive role in the outcome of the battles: the determination of the Turkish soldier in defence and battle and the Turkish will to achieve victory or to die to the last man.

Ernest Harston: Life there was I suppose, a bit monotonous. They ask me about bathing and of course we did it all out of one mug of water. You cleaned your teeth first thing in the morning. You spat it back into the cup and then you took your sponge and did the best you could in washing and sponging yourself down and that was your bath, unless you were able to get down for a swim.

Jim Meek: Well, they say only dirty people wash, and we were the dirty men who didn't wash at all, practically. Fresh water was too precious to use for washing. A man thought himself lucky if he got enough to drink. most chaps would have a Turkish bath of sorts by drinking hot tea when they had it some hot afternoon and then when they sweated, wiping dirt and sweat away in the one operation with a piece of rag. About the middle of June of course, day bathing at the beach was prohibited. Too many chaps were being wounded or killed by the shrapnel fire and men were often too weary to plod down to the beach at night time for a dip. Some chaps let their whiskers grow. Quite a good idea, it helped to camouflage us and our features which were becoming gaunter and gaunter as the grim days and nights put their mark on us all.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker: Cadets - the countries of the entente had decided to force a passage through the Turkish straits in order to establish closer contact with Russia. The results hoped for as a consequence of the capture of the straits were these: to assure free passage for oil and wheat, to open a route of communication with Russia and equip the Russian armies, to put pressure on Germany from the east and thus to ease the situation of France, to completely encircle the countries of central Europe, to force Italy and the Balkan countries to join the entente and finally, to cut off communication between the Ottoman Empire and its ally Germany.

Unidentified male interviewer [probably Brigadier Leonard Thornton]: Sir William, would you agree with those who say that if the operation had been successful, l it might well have thrown Turkey out of the war altogether?

Sir William Cunningham: Yes I would say that had either the initial landing or the effort made in August been successful, it would have had incalculable results. Hard to conceive. I understand that they were prepared to reach Constantinople in the first attack. I've just been reading a book in which they took one of the high political officers, who was relieved, but had a knowledge of Turkish and so forth, who was to help them run Constantinople when it was reached, and he was actually with Ian Hamilton's staff.

Brigadier Leonard Thornton: Perhaps it's not too far-fetched to say that if the operation had been successful and had opened a route to Russia which was then one of our allies, it might perhaps even have delayed or halted the character of the Russian revolution?

Sir William Cunningham: Yes it might well have. And of course it would have exposed the southern flank of the Germans and provided an easy route to Russia.

Ernest Harston: We lived on bully and biscuit. And some wag or some genius in the War Office thought that yellow jam was less attractive to flies than purple jam, and he sent us enormous quantities of marmalade and apricot jam. So much so, that most of us have never really liked either of them, very much.

Jim Meek: Ah, but there were lots things that were wished for on Gallipoli. Some of them were landed when it was too late to take advantage of them. I heard, you know after the business, that Yank correspondents reported that plenty of condensed milk salvaged from our only half-destroyed dumps after the evacuation, was being sold in the shops of the Turkish capital. We could have done with a few of those tins of milk in June and July.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker: Having reached the decision to force the Dardanelles by a combined attack of ground and naval forces, the entente units, after violent naval bombardment, began their landing operations at 4.20am on the 25th of April 1915 at Sari Bair and Ari Burnu. In the long, bloody and often hand to hand struggle that followed, the forces of England, France, Australia and New Zealand engaged in a contest of heroism with the Turkish soldier. All the material conditions were in favour of the former, but the Turkish soldier was fighting in a just cause, defending his native country, which was to him a gift from his ancestors, a symbol of honour. The result was a triumph of justice.

Brigadier Leonard Thornton: Of course, one tends to look back at the campaign as a student of military history, in the light of subsequent experience. It's difficult to resist it. It's almost as fruitful as saying "What a pity they didn't have an atomic bomb at Waterloo", but nevertheless it does seem from military studies of the campaign, that there was, at least in the early stages, a remarkable lack of coordination and thrust in the initial few days after the landing. For instance, at Y Beach, there was quite a strong party ashore with no enemy in front of them and they were re-embarked. Would you say that was a fair criticism of the campaign?

Sir William Cunningham: I saw the efforts from the top of Chunk Bair and it never appeared as though there was any progress being made. There were a lot of ships in Suvla Harbour, apparently landing troops and stores and no progress seemed to be made at all in the direction of where we knew the enemy was to be expected, if there was one.

Brigadier Leonard Thornton: It would seem to suggest the inexperienced troops taking part didn't really know what was expected of them?

Sir William Cunningham: No, they had no experience at all of war, particularly against the Turk.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker: The victory of the Dardanelles put an end to the retreat of the Ottoman Empire which had begun with the second defeat before Vienna, and by creating the confidence and faith in the nation necessary for the war of independence, it prepared the ground for the decisive victory of the 30th of August. The victory of the Dardanelles is the shining example of the overcoming of the many by the few. As regards material resources, of everything by nothing, of the material by the spiritual, of fire and steel by flesh and bone. Let us bow down today with respect and gratitude before the memory of the men fallen at the Dardanelles to whom we owe our existence as a free, independent, respected and honoured nation.

Ernest Harston: Our biggest show, for the New Zealanders, and particularly for the Wellington Battalion, to which I belonged, was Chunuk Bair. We went out from Anzac and hid in a valley between our own outposts. Then we went up the next night past Number 2 and Number 3 Outpost and up the long dere towards The Apex. It's an old story, you've all heard it hundreds of times no doubt, and then there was this rush to the top of Chunuk Bair, which we took almost without a shot, certainly without a shot being fired at us, but then of course once we got there, hell broke loose and we were enfiladed from higher ground further on our left. We held it all day. The Mounted Rifles and the rest of the New Zealanders and two, four of the English battalions also came up from reserve and helped hold the crest but eventually the Turks, probably under Enver himself, came over the hill just before dawn. Nobody knew whether they were Turks or New Zealanders- from the beach they couldn't tell. And eventually it looked as if we were going to be completely surrounded and everything of that kind. They were coming down the hill with old Enver, they say it was Enver, on the top, waving them forward with his sword, when suddenly our artillery opened up, and you never saw such slaughter in your life. It was a whole flat hillside and the broadsides from the ships and the fire from the guns went straight into them.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker: And now you will listen to a folk song about Canakkale. An exact translation of this song is impossible. The best we could do was as follows:
"I got a fatal wound during the battles of Canakkale. I am very young and I still have the wonder of life in me, but already I feel the approaching warning of death.
Oh Mother, my country calls me to duty. I am going to fight the enemy to the last drop of my blood.
A black cloud shrouds Canakkale. the 12th Division is fighting to save the Motherland."

[Turkish song plays.]

Brigadier Leonard Thornton: Well, Sir William, it's been a very interesting discussion, thank you very much. I think we might conclude by agreeing, whatever the historians may say, it was a very glorious campaign to have had in our history.

Sir William Cunningham: Of course the New Zealand troops were highly delighted they were able to hold their own with regular divisions of the British Army when faced with the enemy.

Ernest Harston: Don't forget we were young in war, not like you were in these later wars To us it was still a great adventure. We had the most incredible lot of men who came over in the Main Body. We were very hard trained. They knocked the stuffing out of us in the desert so that we didn't have much vice left in us, but we were pretty well-trained soldiers. Our men took to sniping and that type of warfare like ducks to water and they were just as stubborn as mules. When I was in Australia the other day, I was talking to the Governor General Sir William Slim, and he said without any hesitation, that the finest soldiers he had come across were the Otago Mounted Rifles. Of course I hastened to assure him that they weren't the only New Zealand troops, there were others a jolly sight better than the Otagos, but he didn't need to be told that. He wasn't going to believe it anyway. Those were the only ones he had met, because he was wounded on our left up there in the Chunk Bair fighting, serving with the Ghurkhas. I think that is a rather pleasant note to close on, that one of our greatest living fighting soldiers should have that opinion of our New Zealand troops.

Jim Meek: We all live and learn. Three strong-minded and game jokers met on Gallipoli: the Aussie, the New Zealander and the Turk. They taught each other to respect each other. That mutual respect remains and may become one of the factors making for respect and fair dealing between the many peoples which Diggers and Kiwis mixed with in the Middle East.

Unidentified [Turkish] male speaker:The Turkish Army and the Turkish people will always be proud because the Anzac forces were their worthy opponents in the Canakkale landings and ground operations in World War I. And today we are happy because they are still our friends and we intend to have them and welcome them as our friends in the world of democracy. We are sure that in if and when necessary, we shall stand together this time against an aggressor of any kind who threatens our mutual happiness and welfare. We send our best and most sincere greetings to the people of Anzac nations. Many of them we are are sure, are our old friends at arms. We wish them all happiness and prosperity.

[Turkish music plays]

Unidentified announcer: Those taking part in 'Gallipoli : memories of ANZAC' were: Dr. Agnes Bennett, O.B.E.; Sir William Cunningham, K.B.E., D.S.O., Commander on Gallipoli of the Wellington-West Coast Company of the Wellington Regiment; a soldier of today, Brigadier L. W. Thornton C.B.E., Adjutant General New Zealand Army; Sir Ernest Harston who was Adjutant of the Wellington Regiment on Gallipoli, and Jim Meek, Garrison Engineer Corporal at Quinn's Post. The Turkish voices and the song were specially recorded in Turkey for the NZBS. The programme was edited and compiled by Jim Henderson.

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Year 1959

Reference number 150043

Media type AUDIO

Collection Sound Collection

Ngā Taonga Korero Collection

Genre Documentary radio programs
Nonfiction radio programs
Radio programs
Sound recordings

Credits Henderson, Jim, 1918-2005, Presenter
Meek, James Gray (b.1886, d.1960), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Harston, Ernest Sirdefield (New Zealander, b.1891, d.1964), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Bennett, Agnes Elizabeth Lloyd, 1872-1960, Speaker/Kaikōrero
Cunningham, W. H. (William Henry) (b.1883), Speaker/Kaikōrero
Thornton, Leonard Whitmore (b.1916, d.1999), Speaker/Kaikōrero
New Zealand Broadcasting Service (estab. 1946, closed 1962), Broadcaster

Duration 00:30:04

Date 1959

Subject Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey)/Turkey
World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- Turkey -- Gallipoli Peninsula
World War, 1914-1918 -- Veterans -- New Zealand