A Journal

Gallipoli. June Eleventh, Friday, ten past three,
I’m sorry I’ve not written for a bit,
We put ashore here yesterday a little after tea,
A tiny Turkish dugout’s where I sit.

Everyone’s alive and well, so far at least so good,
We’re safe here in reserve my little one,
You know that I’d be with you both if I really could,
But King and country’s duty must be done.

I got your letter Monday last, seems all is well with you,
Arthur from Caloundra says g’day,
A splendid chap, a carpenter, who knows a thing or two,
We met aboard the ‘Hindoo’ on the way.

June Fourteenth, Monday, half past nine,
Last night we crawled up forward for a peek,
Johnny Turk was out there waiting in his strong defensive line,
The brass says he’ll surrender by next week.

Somehow I can’t agree with them, he’s dug in pretty well,
I wish the brass would go and have a look,
And if he makes a fight of it we’ll all be blown to hell,
The strategy in Whitehall’s pretty crook.

June Eighteenth, Friday, late at night,
Hope you’re well, I’m missing you a lot,
I’m writing by the moon and can’t afford to have a light,
Turkish snipers waiting for a shot.

Two days ago we charged across to gain a little mud,
I haven’t put to paper as I should,
We’ve been a little busy trading real estate for blood,
I’m sorry love I hope your health is good.

June Twenty First, Monday, 8.02,
We’re going over pretty soon I’ve heard the final call,
Just a little a note before we do,
Missing you my darling and my love to one and all,
Arthur gives his best regards to you.

June Twenty Fifth, Friday, ‘Russell Top’,
We tangled up with Turkish steel a couple of days ago,
Many of our cobbers got the chop,
If Kevin wants to sign up early tell him I said “No”,
Do everything you can to make him stop.

Arthur from Caloundra is still up here with me,
He reckons that we both will make it through,
He’s offered me a job building houses by the sea,
But I’d have to get the go-ahead from you.

June Twenty Sixth, Saturday afternoon,
The Turks have charged us several times today,
We’re told that help is coming, I hope it gets here soon,
Now the fallen lay among us cold and grey.

To our front, across a strip of open, rocky ground,
No longer than the average cricket pitch,
Johnny Turk’s in preparation for another bloody round,
Sharpened sabres glinting from his ditch.

June Twenty Sixth, not an ounce of shade,
If they mount another charge we’re overrun,
Shrapnel pieces cutting through us like a razor blade,
Arthur wants to bolt before we’re done.

Footnote: June Twenty Seventh, 1915.

Yesterday we prayed aloud for God to set us free
To make an end to madness and to war
On a hill named Russell Top, Anzac Cove, Gallipoli,
He took your husband in his arms once more.


© Steven Smith, 28/5/00.