29 May 1915

HELLES - The RND had dug its own rest camps for each of the battalions. When they were out of the line they would return to these holes in the ground in the higher ground overlooking Morto Bay. Lieutenant William Ker wrote home on the 30 May to give a picture of his life out of the line for the last couple of days.

Photograph: Hawke Battalion's A Companies Rest Camp, May 1915.

"It is really very jolly here, these are what they call the rest trenches. No work to speak of and a shirt-sleeve climate. It is pretty hot during the day, but mornings and evenings are perfect. Our food is largely corned beef in various forms, but it is good. There is a difficulty about water, which is not. The beverage which keeps us alive is tea, of which we drink incredible quantities. There is no milk. The place is littered with camps like this. You never saw such a conglomeration of strange troops. You should have seen me and A. P. Herbert the other evening bathing in the Dardanelles near some Frenchmen and Senegalese, with the Turkish lines (or, rather, the place where. they were) in sight on a ridge to our left beside some dismantled forts, the Plain of Troy before us on the other side, some guns on the Asiatic side in sending an occasional shrapnel shell over on our right, and a French battery immediately behind us having shots at them. I took a bathing party down to the beach yesterday. The scene was a cross between Blackpool in the season and the Ganges. The men think it a fine picnic, but we are going him the firing line tomorrow night. There was a great dm last night about 9.30. We could hear terrific rifle fire, and the French guns behind us started firing into the darkness with a boom and a whirr, and then a pause and a distant bang as the shell explodes. We have not heard what it was all about." (Lieutenant William Ker, Hawke Battalion, 1st Naval Brigade, RND).


W. Ker quoted by D. Jerrold, The Hawke Battalion: Some Personal Records of Four Years, 1914-1918, (London, Ernest Benn Ltd, 1925), p. 51