Well, on Friday morning, I remember 6th August, 1915, at daybreak, a steamer called the ‘Fauvette’ arrived at Mitylene, and the whole of the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers were drafted on to her. Our diary was parcelled up by C. and given to a steward on the ‘Alaunia’, as we had heard she would be soon going home for repairs, and then it could be posted home to Mother. So, all in the best of spirits, we left Mitylene, at four o’clock in the afternoon. As usual, poor old ‘D’ Company were given a rotten part of the ‘Fauvette’ (quite a small boat) that being a large empty coal cellar which filled the bow of the boat. We had our tea and breakfast there, and, needless to say, the dirt of the place had our light drill uniforms in a horrible state. I remember having a yarn with poor old Sergt C (missing) about different Dublin people we know, and later on was talking to a middy on deck who took part in the first landing at the Dardanelles. As we knew, dear knows when we might get another night’s decent rest, G., M., J.B. and myself all went up on deck to sleep under the lifeboats. Though excited, we managed to get a few hours sleep and, I suppose it was about 3 or 4 o’clock, I awoke to find ourselves off the Gallipoli coast, thought it was pitch dark.
At first, we could hear the low boom, boom, of the guns in the distance and gradually I became more distinct. We were not just off the Peninsula, where the first landing was, and we could see the star shells shooting up now and again exactly like rockets at a display at home. Gradually, it became lighter and, though we could see the land, we could make out no details. We were all very excited the whole time and, after we had our breakfast, we came up again on deck and found ourselves off Suvla Bay. It was full of transports and battleships, and we were right between two first-class cruisers. Well, the fun had started before we had arrived, and some troops had ben landed. With the naked eye, we would see the flash from the Turkish guns coming from the big ridge of mountains, some shells dropping into the sea in front of us, and hundreds bursting on land. We could see our men landing from the lighters, and the stretcher-bearers very busy bringing down and collecting wounded on the beach.
The battleships were trying to silence the enemy’s guns, and such an awful fierce roar those naval guns make! The whole bay was quivering with the vibration, and they had not started three minutes before my blooming nose began to bleed. The boys did laugh when they saw me. But we were proud of the Navy!
I think the lighters accommodated a full Company, and on ours of ‘D’ Coy 13 and 14 platoons filled the cabin or covered part, while 15 and 16 platoons were above the deck. It was here that we first saw a casualty. Some poor chap lay in the centre of the hold on a long table. He was unconscious, looked a nasty green colour, and his head was all bandaged up. Evidently, he had been hit on landing and was just put back on to the lighters; and, as they had no time to put him on to a Hospital ship, he had to be brought back with our lot until that lighter had the troops,detailed [sic] for it, landed. Well, we got unto the beach safely, but others were not so lucky. A shell hit ‘A’ Company’s boat and three or four were killed and several injured. Sgt B. being injured, also. I believe the poor chaps were all japed with blood and the deck was all red. Well, we immediately threw off our packs, and started off in sections, the ‘bould SG leading our No 2 section.
At first, a blooming shell lit about three or four hundred yards away and we of No 7 section immediately lay flat on the ground. But it was remarkable how used one gets to it, and in a few minutes we never bothered ‘ducking’, unless the shell was quite close to us. Before I go on, I must say the discipline stood to us marvellously; we seemed to do the right thing at the right time mechanically, for you must remember we were more of less stupefied.
We got on passed stretcher-bearers, wounded, dying and dead and though at first we did not like looking at them, we got used to that also and didn’t bother. After crossing these low cliffs or sandhills, we arrived at a long strand. In one glance it looked awful. Shells dropping in the water, boats and pinnaces trying to tug out loads of wounded, the strand littered with casualties and more shells dropping, in the long grass of the sand dunes behind, men groaning and the RAMC working and the bandaging like fury.
We then moved forward again and took a turn to the right, having the Salt Lake on our right flank and Chocolate Hill straight in front of us. As we advanced over these barren fields the shells were falling everywhere, and soon we were under rifle fire as well, so we opened out into extended order at about ten paces interval.
Well, it happened that most of us in ‘D’ Company did get right through, though I saw one chap who had got a bit of shrapnel in the thigh, and there were one or two chaps in the battalion who were never seen after that advance.
I now found myself with CF on the right and C, I mean F on the left, and we all lay with our backs and heads well covered under a low bank waiting for the next run forward. Sometimes, we would be waiting for only a few minutes before advancing, but before the end of the day we would be half an hour or more. Suddenly, without any warning, a blooming shell came down with an awful thud not five yards in front of us. The three of us were covered with clay and sand, but not a splinter or a bullet got any of us. C leaned over and shouted ‘Are you hit G?’ and I said ‘No, are you?’ so I brushed the sand out of my eyes and clothes. Did you ever hear of a more narrow shave? Well says G to me, ‘there’s no use us being hit together, so we’ll separate and you go to the right and I’ll go to the left.’ So, very soon, as all the regiments were all intermingled with each other by now, I found myself with no one I know but ‘Crackers’ all is Noonan. So I determined to stick to him by hook or by crook.
It is impossible to give an accurate account of the day. Now it all seems like a dream; and you must remember we were absolutely dazed and stunned with excitement and the noise. In fact, we did everything mechanically, and I believe we owed it all to the way in which disciplined had been drilled into us. However, I remember, when we got to Chocolate Hill, we heard a great cheer as the first line, including some of our men and most of A Coy took part, drove the Turks right over at the joint of the bayonet. We had now occupied all the trenches on the hill, and night found the Turks a good mile away on the low slopes of the big range of mountains in front. The range I mean runs right down the peninsula to Achi (missing) and on these mountains the enemies big guns were all placed. Chocolate Hill is only a mere hill in the vast plain before reaching the main ridge. Before all this, as it was getting dark, we risked standing up and trying to collect ourselves together, though there was still come rifle fire. I saw HD our hardly old Colonel, in the distance talking to somebody in a devil-may care fashion as if he was strolling about a garden, with his walking stick in his hand.