Australian troops return to Gallipoli

Name: Charles West Litchfield
Date: 1915-1917
Unit: 9th Reinforcements, 10th Battalion, AIF
Location: France

A great deal has been written about the fighting at Gallipoli but little is known about the second time Australian troops were sent to the Peninsula.

The 7th Light Horse Regiment was sent to garrison Anzac Cove after the Armistice in 1918. It was a sorry sight after all the fighting four years earlier as his mate Bob Little described in a letter to Roy Robinson, who, having survived Gallipoli, France and Belgium, was recovering from a bout of fever while on his way back to Australia on two months furlough given to men who had enlisted in 1914.

"You will probably look a bit when you see the above address," Bob Little wrote. "I never thought I would find my way back to this part of the world again. Well, to start from the beginning when I left you at Moacasar, I lobbed out allright & joined the boys at Jerusalem. We had about a week there and one night out on 'maniac'. We had a pretty miserable ride back to Wadi Hanein but had a pretty quiet time whilst there. We had a race meeting one day, a good turn out, tote & all. Bluey Wild ran the Bullock, Anna the jockey, but did no good. I rode mine, a new remount called Surprise. He surprised us the wrong way though. Armistice night was pretty lively…

"We sighted Cape Helles and came to anchor off Fort Chanak. We stayed on board. About three days while they found out what to do with us. No-one here seemed to know anything about us. Eventually we were landed near Maidos & billeted in an old Turkish hospital. The day after landing we marched over to Anzac, about 7 miles & had a good look round. You would hardly know the place now Roy. Under present conditions all the tunnels and trenches have fallen in & the Turks have wired all the beach & dug fresh trenches. Also the Swine - have removed every cross from the graves. We had a good look over Lone Pine, its in a terrible mess, the skeletons & bones of hundreds of men still lying about. The Turks have erected a big monument right on the site. Holly Spur trenches are in the best condition & I located a few of our old possies, the walk back to camp was the worst part, we were like a mob of sheep with foot rot.

"We must have covered a good twenty miles that day. We settled down then to morning runs & drill etc. A few days afterwards, they came along & wanted a good sober man etc to go over to camps at Chanak to draw rations for the Regiment. Yours truly is the sober man along with two others & 3 N.Z.s We have a good room - bar a few shell holes through the roof in the ex-French Consul's house. We draw rations every other day & send them over per boat to Maidos. Xmas Day passed pretty serene I don't remember much after 6pm. I knew it next morning though. That's about all I think Roy."

Later in his letter, Bob Little described all the promotions that had taken place as a result of the furloughs granted to 14 men who, like Roy Robinson, had enlisted in 1914.

"Things in the Squadron are much the same & you'll be sorry to hear of the death of Lt Dalton of pneumonia," he wrote. "Plenty of new NCOs, Ken Thompson and Willo, Sgts B troop, Jenks and Stan Noble Cpls, Ken Hart & Fred Howley L/Cpls, a few others are A. Cadelle, O. Atkins, Cpls, Waters, Smith, McDowell L/Cpls, & a few others I cant think of. Tom XXX is SM, Marcroft QM.

Another letter to Roy Robinson from his mate Bruce, also in Gallipoli showed he was upset at the state of the battle grounds.

"Up around the front trenches on Lone Pine there are countless remains of bodies but only about one in ten have been covered," he wrote. "What work there is done has been done recently for the earth is fresh where it covers the bones. I could tell you a lot more about the place as it is now but it can wait until I see you again. Let's hope it won't be too long."

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DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Australian troops return to Gallipoli, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 13 June 2024,
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