Saved by a mate during Turk attack

Name: Frank  Boyes
Date: 1915-1918
Unit: 14th Battalion, 3rd Brigade AIF
Location: Gallipoli

The troops at Gallipoli often had to rely on their mates in times of great duress. It wasn't something you stopped to think about - you just took it for granted - you'd look after them and they'd look out for you.

Frank Boyes was one who had reason to thank his mate. He was a regular correspondent with his family and wrote many fascinating letters describing the action that had taken place on the Peninsula.

He told his family that towards the middle of May they were told the Turks were going to launch a massive attack to drive the Aussies into the sea, so they were on the alert day and night.

"The attack commenced early in the night of May 18th," he wrote. "At the time, D Coy was in support and I and some others were put in the front line to reinforce those who were there. I was put into a bay occupied by two others who I did not know and as far as guts was concerned I could not have wished for better mates, for during the night and early morning, the Turks came at us in never ending waves and there was never a dull moment.

"Before the shooting started we could hear the Turks reciting from the Koran in which the word 'Allah' was most prominent and our blokes were up on the parapet yelling 'Come on you bastards, we'll give you Allah!'

"We had orders to hold our fire until the enemy got close, and come close they did. We were blazing away for dear life and one of our three got a bullet through the fleshy part of his neck and we had a job to persuade him to evacuate and leave his rifle and ammo with us.

"Just nearing dawn the Turks got right up to our trench and at one stage I was trying to get a clip of ammo into the magazine of my rifle when a Turk was lunging down at me with his bayonet.

"I was warding him off trying to reload when my mate shot him just as he was lunging down. He fell into the trench on top of me, wounded, but not dead, for when I got clear and stood on his body to continue shooting I felt him clutching at my legs, but when the attack subsided later on we found that he had 'died of wounds'.

"After daylight, the attack ended and we could see on our front many bodies of dead and wounded. Both of us had badly burnt hands from our red hot rifles and we were relieved by fresh troops.

"The enemy started to infalade our position with schrapnel and I got a pellet through my left hand and was sent down to the beach and put on a transport where hundreds of wounded and sick men were accommodated under rough and ready conditions.

"There were only two doctors on board, no nurses, and just a few MC (Australian Medical Corp) orderlies. The ship was a Cunard liner built to carry immigrants from Europe to Canada and the USA and I and three other wounded men were put in a cabin about the size of a bathroom.

"One of the men was badly shot up and we frequently tried to get a doctor or even an A.M.C. orderly to come and examine him, but to no effect, and we, handicapped as we were, did our best to tend him until he died. It was a day later before we could get his body removed. In the meantime we had removed ourselves into a corridor.

"During the few days we were anchored there we first heard about how the Turks had captured a section of trench on the left of my position and how L/Cpl Jacka had single handed settled their hash and that he had been recommended for the Victoria Cross which later was awarded to him. He became the first Aussie to get a V.C. in the war.

"By the time we reached Egypt my wound had become septic and I got into hospital in Cairo just in the nick of time to save an amputation of my hand. Some time in July I rejoined the battn on Gallipoli and received a great welcome from those of my old cobbers who were still on the job.

"I had not missed any fighting for soon after I left, the 14th had been relieved by the N.Z.s and went to Reserve Gully and started work in earnest digging a gigantic sap from Anzac Cove to the 2nd Outpost which was the extreme left of our front."

(No changes have been made to the spelling or grammar of the original letter.)

The information for this article was supplied by Mrs Lyn Skyba of Victoria

Last updated:

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DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Saved by a mate during Turk attack, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 9 December 2023,
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