If you can do a good voice-over of my grandfather’s words then please record this extract and email it to me as an MP3 file. It would be great to compile an audio book in this way so feel free to record the extract on the home page too.
The evacuation of Cape Helles, Gallipoli by Norman Woodcock
When Suvla was evacuated all the Turkish guns there were moved against us in the south of the Peninsula, and when Anzac was evacuated we had even more against us. Naturally, the Turks knew that we were evacuating, although we were told to make it look as if we were staying.
After the enemy guns moved to Helles we underwent daily and nightly bombardment of growing intensity. It was as if the Turks wanted to blow us off. The 29th Division had gone to Suvla in October and we were moved to the 9th Corps to work, but gradually there was little to do but take cover. Shells broke everything down. Communication trenches became shallow ditches with little cover in places. We spent time building them up. In the night, ships came and loaded then disappeared before daybreak. Troops marching down to embark turned about and marched towards the line whenever a hostile plane was over. Gadgets of all kinds were fitted up to fire every now and then to appear to the Turks that we were all still there.
Then we were ordered to make our preparations. We had orders to go down to V beach, where we had originally landed. Everything that could be was to be destroyed. We destroyed our wagons and our remaining stores. Our few remaining horses were to be left behind. We could not believe it – leave the horses – Never! But we did. I gave Timbuc all the sugar I had saved from my meagre rations and petted him – stroked him – said goodbye and then, in the dark, we made our way down the trail to the beach to board a small steamer that in peace time sailed from Holyhead to Dublin.
It was a night of mixed emotions, relief that we were leaving at last but tremendous sadness at having to leave my beloved Timbuc. I could only hope that the Turks would recognise what a wonderful animal he was and treat him well.
We had to be off before daylight otherwise we should be shelled from the Asiatic shore and blown out of the water, as we were only about 2 miles away. After we embarked, the sea came up rough and the lighters that were alongside threatened to stave in the ship’s sides. Just before daylight, as we were becoming anxious because we would be under open observation to the gunners on the Asiatic side of the Hellespont, the engines started and we moved off. Had we stayed another 20 minutes they would have blown us out of the water. No ship had been there in daylight for some weeks.
How glad we were to come away. Not long after we set sail the singing began – we sang all the way to Imbros.