This story I FIRST WROTE IN 1965. SINCE THEN I LEANT A LOT MORE.IN MY ORIGINAL STORY , A LOT OF GUESS WORK. SINCE THEN I HAVE FOUND OUT MY GUESS WORK WAS NOT SO FAR FROM THE TRUTH OF WHAT HAPPENED AND JUST WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO HAVE BEEN AT GALLIPOLI.


GALLIPOLI APRIL 1915 (LANCASHIRE LANDINGS)

As the grandson of a ''survivor '' of a man who went off to fight in the ''great war'', '' the war to end all wars '' ( sick ). My fathers father, I respect and admire very much.

My paternal grand father volunteered in 1914 due to his previous service in the army. He was drafted into the 1st battalion of The Lancashire Fusiliers. They were being sent back from India, in peace time. The British army consisted of 2 battalions, one on home service, 2nd on overseas service, ''protecting the empire'' with what was called The 1/6 ,1/7 with other battalions , made up of territorial '' weekend soldiers'', plus reserves.

My paternal grandfather trained with other volunteers , till the 1st returned home. With the fatal decision to invade Turkey at Gallipoli , he went with them. Landing at Cape Helles, to say it should have been called Cape Hell , is a bit of an understatement!!. Imagine if you will sitting in what were no more than ships life boats. Being rowed slowly, silently towards a strange beach , not knowing what awaited you on THAT beach you were getting ever closer to THAT beach. Sea, blue , sea should be green ,well it was off Blackpool!!!. Silence deafening , no one speaking , some cough , some silently pray. Then suddenly, the stony silence is broken by the deadly rat-a-tat-tat of machine-guns. Hitting the boats, men getting hit ,your life depending on how far back you are , how many men sat in front of you.

The officers and N C O 's shouting "out lads, up and at them'' , ''Get a mov... ,'' one dies before he could finish. The man in front of you stays sat where he is, dead. You grab him by his webbing , turf (throw him) into the sea. You grab your rifle , held tight , you run , expecting to be hit , but your lucks in , the machine-gunner , was either out of ammo , and reloading, or firing on some other poor bleeders. You run like you never run before in your life. You and your pals , were ordered NOT to have their rifles covered up with oily canvases!!. Imagine if you can , barbed wire covered by the sea , with dead and dying comrades held fast on the wire... the bullets tearing , ripping them apart before your eyes All around you , your pals are dieing , some with a bullet , others drowning , held down with their 56 pounds of equipment. The once blue sea , now turning crimson red. Bullets splash their deadly welcome. You now have no choice , you see a lad , his name is Bert Higginbotom , stuck fast on the wire. You don't think twice in fact you don't think , you jump on him , clear the wire. All around you men are being hit , they fall into the now blood red sea some dead , some wounded , weighed down with their equipment , roll over in the bullet splashed sea, turning ever redder. The sea all around you a storm of bullets hitting , splashing like a rain storm of death of led hiting the sea al around you if you were lucky instant death , if not, so far so far so lucky. If you get a leg wound , you'd drop , you'd slowly drown as you were seeing others all around you as you plunge on.

Desperate to reach THAT beach get out of that bleeading , bloody sea , the sea of death. Then you reach yet more barbed wire , luckily for you , as before a pal was trapped entangled like Higginbotom was. You yet once more you have no choice if you are to survive for a few more seconds of life. Thanks , Sharpils , he moans as you jump on his dieing body,''I'll let you off that 5 bob(shilling old British currency) you owe me , Sharpy'' ''Fook, you Williams'', ''hope thee makes it, Pal''.You hear him say , as you clear the wire and plunge on. You don't look back.

Your mouth is dry , dry with fear , you grip your rifle , for dear life. All around you, your palls are dieing , floating corpses , calling out for their mams. On you charge , before you is THAT beach , and THOSE cliffs, from the cliffs death rains down , as if blown by wind straight at you and the Turks spout their welcome. Some how, thanks to the Gods of war you reach THAT beach, that had seemed a 100 miles away. Your rifle wont fire, you don't have time to clean the damned thing! Later you are told '' Just 3 could be fired that morning on THAT beach!!!''. The survivors huddle into disorganised groups upon THAT beach of ''Bloody Gallipoli, the Dardanelles''.

The officers and N C O's begin to organise the ''rabble'' back into a fighting unit. A pal , says to you: ''Jo'' , '' what's that around thy's foot?'' ''looks like a string of sausages'' , you look down to your putty's just above your boots. Sure enough , that is just what it looks like. '' oh shit'' , ''That's some pore bastard's guts'' , ''Higgys , I recon'' ,''maybes, Sharpys'' , ''had to stand on both to clear the fooken wire ''. ''Gues the guts belongs to one of 'em, must have wrapped around me fooken foot as I was getting off the bugger's. An N C O, crawls up to your group. ''Right , lads, we are to go forward , climb those cliffs , and get at Johnny Turk'' . You try to swallow , but your throat is so dry , with fear, no spit left. You reach for your water bottle , only to find it is full of holes. So you pick up a pebble and suck on it.You watch your pals crawl forward , then on the order '' forward , lads , up and at the bastards ''. So you get up , up as you do a machine - gun opens up , you all drop , crawl forward , as flat as worm , but is trained just down the line of men from you , you know more pals are falling , many screaming out in pain, such agony , on you run , you trip on a piece of drift wood , you drop. Others join you , some remain never to get up. You hear the machine gun bullets and rifle bullets fly over you , harmlessly for you , but you hear them hit your pals behind you, to the left and to the right of you. Confusion and death are King's of the beach. You reach the bottom of the cliff , you put the rifle strap over your shoulder , you begin the climb up. You look up never back , for you know what is behind you. Death. You also know death awaits you up above, but up you climb.

The British and French ships laying off shore are bombarding . Shells fall short , hitting the cliffs. Hitting the climbing men , others lose their grip , and fall , back on to THAT beach.You are now on the side of a machine gun '' nest'' , you leap in , how you do so you never know still you're not hit. Your joined by a pal, who gets a bayonet in his belly, this gives you the time to reach for your bayonet , stab , stab , till the blood of the Johnny Turk's turns your bayonet crimson red. The cuffs of your jacket now all sticky with blood , the nest is cleaned out . The Turks are all dead , you , with other pals had caught them and killed them. Before they could escape, not that escape was an option for them. You find a Turkish water bottle , you greedily take a mouthful , but , you share it with your pals. On you climb, unable to think of what you had done. The British and French ships are still firing short fall's still hitting the cliff. Not having orders to stop , so shell's explode killing both Fusiliers and Turks alike. You with fewer and fewer Fusiliers reach the top. When finally you reach the top of the cliffs , you find some rocks to hide behind. You clean the sand out of your short Lee Enfield rifle, and open up , firing killing for dear life ,your life. The fight is over, unknown to you and those in charge and may be should have known , just 300 Turks had held you up and killed so many of your pals. The officers and N C O's order '' dig in lads'' , so you dig in , and how you dig , soon a rough trench is dug ,so shallow a trench. Then you lay down as best you can, exhausted , knackered beyond belief. You await supply's of food and water. You are so tired , you just wont to sleep. When an N C O come up to you '' Right , Williams your on sentry duty'' , '' for fooks sake Sargent'' , '' now less of your lip , Williams'' your on sentry duty , and that's that.''

So you stand to , with your rifle , you look out , but keep your head down. You hear a shot to your right , you look see a lad full down into the shallow trench a victim of a sniper. He moan's , cals out for his mam as he dies , far far a way from home. , you were getting used to sudden death. You lick your lips , in fear. A squad of men are organised , to go out on patrol , to check what is opposite the battalion. You stand rigged hoping your not going to be chosen. Your not , you let out a breath in relief. ''Poor buggers" you silently think. Over they go , as silently as possible , you keep watch for them. You hear a shot or 2 , screams . The patrol , returns you see its short by 1, with them is a scared Turk , he looks kinder like you apart from a tash , thick and bushy , a bit plump , but yes ,just like you. He was grabbed to be interrogated, but their was no one who could translate , alive that is. The navy is ordered to open up , some shells fall short , so more pals are killed , casualties of friendly fire, as we hear so much of today.

The shelling comes to an end, the order ''battalion will advance'' This is achieved with out so many casualties , you dig in again. Dig deeper this time , not easy , as the ground is mostly rock , so digging is so bloody hard. , your hands blister and bleed. The Turks rush reinforcements , the war of attrition is on. At last the rations arrive , you had tried eating the army emergence , hard tack biscuits , hard tack is the word , try as you could no way could you brake enough off them to eat ( army biscuit's have been found on the former battle fields of Gallipoli , still intact , still unbreakable , defeated both insect's and time to disappear, no joke!!!) You go on countless charges , face countless counter charges by the Turks.

Somehow , you never know why , you are still alive and not wounded . Then one night you are chosen to be a member of a reconnaissance squad , with orders to bring back a prisoner officer if possible. Well you had been on 2 so far, so no sweet , except you do sweet , you think of your lass and daughter back home in Leigh , who is now just turned 8. You take out the photos of them , you wonder if you will ever see them again. '' stand to'' , the N C O , calls out . You put the photos away , you twist and tern your wedding ring , with out realising that you are , you put your rifle down. Chose a club , with nails and bits of barb wire fixed to it ,and a cut down bayonet , so sharp you could shave with it. You put on a balaclava , ( like a sky mask) . You make sure theirs nothing hanging from you , that will make a noise and worn Johnny Turk.

You are ready , your pals wish you luck , crack some bad jokes. The officer says '' Ready lads?'' , you all nod '' Aye , sir , as we will ever be'' , '' Right you all know what to do'' ,'' Any questions be fore we go ?'' .You all shake your heads. You all shake hands with each outer wishing each other luck. The officer , climbs up the trench ladder the 6 of you follow , you lay a while in ' no man's land'' , get your bearings , slowly get up , keeping low, the officer with his browney pistol pointing forward , the only gun amongst you. You all run , but not to fast , it's dark , a quarter moon , shining down , you silently beg , pray fore cloud , your prayers are answered. Cloud covers the moon. On you go , tripping over bodies, both British, your pals and Turks , many are now skeletons , clothed in uniforms. The stench of the rotting , decaying bodies that once were men , pals. fills your nostrils every day and night , sickly. As you treed your foot steps upon the belles and chest , forcing out the very last breath out of their lungs , the stench of decaying bodes, of the smell of death. You are now approaching the Turkish trenches , fear wells up , in too your throat. The fears has been their since you were detailed off. Now your throat is tight with fear, no more fear could fit , you feel sick oh so sick.

Suddenly the silence of the night is broken, full of the of sound , bullets , ping all around you , voices herd shouting out , the voices are of the Turks , so you cant understand a word. You hear screams distinctly Lanky , lad's hurt , wounded , dieing. You try to make yourself as small as you can . You see the officer.He orders '' Get back lads''. You turn, make your way back to the trench'' . You don't need telling twice, you turn around , run , hell how you run , zig, zagging , leaping over shell craters , over barb wire , over bodies , skeletons . You shout ''don't , don't shoot ,shoot it's us, for fooks sake!!!''. You're back in the trench , there are 3 who did not make it back including the officer.. All night , you hear the screams of a wounded man , you don't know who it is . You see bushes on fire, bullets had ignited them. The screams are getting to you and your pals. ''Sod you'', ''fooking stop '' some nameless fusilier '' shouts out. The nerves are frayed, and at breaking point. Then from a mad moment , the maddest since you joined up, you decide to go out and bring who ever he is in. Without a word you take off any heavy equipment. Scamper out of the trench. You run , zig zag , calling yourself all the stupid , born bastards you can in your mind.

You run to the burning bush , in it you see the officer , wounded and being burnt alive. You leap in , grab the man , throw him over your right shoulder , you turn , you run with out a word. Trying to zig zag your way back , but not an easy task ,with the weight of the wounded man. Bullets zing and ping all around you , your breathing is laboured , the stench of the burnt flesh of the man , fills your senses , just like roast pork. Then you're hit , a bullet hits you in your left shoulder , you stagger , some how you keep your balance and on your legs , you plunge on. Staggering , running , sweet pouring from you , stinging your wound. Some how , cant be said how, you reach your trench , slip the wounded man off you , willing hands take him from you . Bullets still hitting the ground around you , dirt , rock explode all around you. Then friendly hands grab you , take you down too the womb of the trench. '' Jo '' '' thou daft bugger '' Why thee do that'' '' He was keeping me awake with all his whinging'' You reply , without much conviction. '' Joe you're wounded ' , '' I know I forgot to duck!!''. Your both taken too the casualty post. The officer dies , you live , your evacuated , on a hospital ship. You recover in time for The Somme!!! So much for 1915 , now for 1916 and the Somme!!!

This is a true account , of my grand father , Jo Williams. You ask : '' Was he awarded the Victoria Cross?'' Well , no he was not , he was not evdn ntioned in dispatches. ''Why not?'' . I hear you saying. I have read a lot of books on the Gallipoli campaign. Amongst them I read ''The History of the Lancashire Fusiliers 1914 - 1919. It's from the daily diary's of each battalions of the regiment. What my granddad did was ''the norm'' in that war, as in any war before and since. The battalion was awarded 5 for the landing , a 6th later for the landings in 1917. The regiments was too be awarded the most V C''s during the war. The officer died so could not recommend him. My granddad , rely got the greatest reward he could have had. He savvied Gallipoli ,the bloody Dardanelles . He lived , so fathering my father , who fathered me. He intern savvied world war two at sea. So medals , well just bits of mettle. valued only by those who have not known the horrors of battle.Collectors of others heroisms. May not find them self's tunaling , digging trenches , thro and in to the battles of ancient Troy. As those who fullt for thire lifes at Gallipploli had to. No time to admire the spears and swards , helmits and all of the collectible of the anshant battles fault their.

War is war , not romantic at all.


This story is dedicated to ALL those's who were at Gallipoli:

Australians , New Zealanders, British , Indians , French , Irish , Guerkers , Turks


Ken D Williams ( THE DYSLEXIC POET )


(All rights reserved)





Short story by ken d williams The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 886 times
Written on 2007-05-24 at 10:03

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I've started this comment at least five times now. I'm at a loss for words. This is powerfully written, shockingly full of the realities of war. Dying pals, men that look "just like you," horror and fear and bloodshed and trying not to think or look back... The reading puts you right there. Cape Hell, indeed.
2013-04-29



It appears that "the war to end all wars" in fact was a war that began several others. I know that is not an historically proper statement but it don't take a rocket scientist to connect the dots. And I agree completely with you, that there is no romance in war. IT is also true that no one wins a war and definitely no one walks away unscathed.
2010-03-02


Phyllis J. Rhodes
This is a gripping account of your grandfather's experience. It grabbed my attention and kept it from the first word to the last. As I read, I saw scenes from the movie Gallipoli with a very young Mel Gibson. In one scene he has to run, zig zag down line delivering messages. There were also scenes of soldiers cimbing those cliffs. Thank you for sharing so vividly this story of war and warriors. I am a military wife. My husband served 34 years in the military (Air Force) and I have the deepest respect for all who are serving or have served their country.
2008-09-04


Nadia B.
You were right. I really understand what you ment now. I must say, well written! I was completely swallowed when reading your poems. best regards, Nadia.
2007-09-12


Anshul Sharma
ken u r rite.. its very touching indeed!!
2007-09-10


normalil
Ken, I have been saving this until I had time for a long and reflective read. Tonight I thought I had that, but I was mistaken. No one could be ready for the trauma, suffering and anguish to which you took us.
I imagine that you spoke to your grandfather and you were determined to tell his story in graphic detail. This you did. I felt dizzy before I was halfway through. Bless all those brave and unfortunate boys. Their story will never have too much telling...
You have done them such a service Ken.
On reading this account, 3 or 4 questions came to mind. By the end of the story I am so traumatised that I can only remember one of those questions, and it is about the biscuits. (I am sorry if this seems trivial.) Is it really true that biscuits were found on the battleground, impervious to insects and decay, and that these biscuits were offered as body fuel?
Ken, I just made one reading of this and am overwhelmed. I will read it again when I know that I have time to myself to absorb even more. It is a wonderful write, and I know that your Grandfather and all the other victims, (for all were victims whether they survived or not,) are applauding you. Applaud and bookmard. Bless you.
2007-07-07


seda
I think the Dardanelles Campaign ( as the english say ) or the battle of Gallipolli
is the one of the biggest and the most painful wars in the world.And your story is very interesting .Your paternal grandpa must be proud of you wherever he is :)

Fabulously written


hugs and love,
Seda
2007-05-24


lastromantichero
hey ken this is a great story of the horror of war especially this war

well done rgds mike
2007-05-24