09 May 1915

HELLES - Second Lieutenant Arthur Behrend, 1/4th East Lancashire Regiment, 126th Brigade, 42nd Division - On 9 May the remaining brigade of the 42nd Division came ashore. Too late fortunately for them to be involved in the disastrous fighting of Second Krithia.

"At six o'clock next morning I came up on deck in pyjamas to pay my first salute to the Dardanelles. The whole scene was swathed in mist, out of which a few battleships and troopers emerged slowly The land was invisible, and everything seemed so peaceful that I wondered if the Dardanelles had already been forced. The men must have thought so too because they began to sing an old favourite. 'When the war is over, we'll be there, we'll be there' and I felt so disappointed that I went below and had a long farewell bath. When I came on deck again an hour later there was a marvellous change. The rising sun had swept away most of the mist and we were standing off Gaba Tepe. The land a mass of dull green, stretched away evenly towards Cape Helles. A great fleet of battleships and transports lay scattered round us; their smoke hung heavily in the still air. The sea was very calm. While I was marvelling at the intense peacefulness of the panorama I heard two dull booms and then I saw in one or two places the scrub was smoking. I gazed spellbound as an unseen Turkish battery began to shell a pinnace which was making its way to shore. A battleship instantly steamed in and hurled some crashing salvoes into the scrub, and for first time I saw the vivid flash from the gun and the fast-travelling ring of rolling smoke. It was as if some giant was blowing smoke rings. Unreal though it all seemed, it was as real as my hunger, and I went below for table d'hote breakfast. After breakfast there was much speculation about where we should land and what had happened ashore. At ten o'clock we were told to get ready. Shells were now dropping in the water fairly close to the Galeka and we drew out of range and soon afterwards steamed back towards Cape Helles. Major Carus pointed to a prominent hill rather like a Yorkshire fell and said in his cheerful way, "That's the hill that has to be taken boys!" Such was out introduction to Achi Baba. From the sea the hills of Gallipoli looked insignificant; they were dwarfed by the peaks of Asia towering magnificently in the background. We stood by off Cape Helles all morning. Nobody had any clear idea of the situation on land; it seemed likely, however, that things had not gone as well as expected because the shells of both sides were bursting so close to the cliffs. At two o'clock trawlers came alongside, gangways were let down from the Galeka, and we clambered aboard. No one can be agile with 200 rounds of ammunition and other encumbrances, and the gap between the end of the gangway and the side of the trawler was not easy. Sergeant Stancliffe, always helpful, shouted to me, "Look out, Sir, you'll sink like a stone!' Two companies were packed on deck and as we set off for the beach a man who had climbed the iron ladder for'ard fell off and landed on his head 10 feet below. We heard the thud and surged towards him thinking he had broken his neck. But he got up, rubbed his head and merely said, "Ee, that was a nasty boomp!" We now passed a hospital ship filled with Australians, and out men roared out in unison, "Are we downhearted?" There was no answer for a moment and then a single hoarse croak came across the water from the hospital ship, "You bloody soon will be!"

SOURCE:
A. Behrend, Make me a Soldier, (London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961), pp.64-65