Friday, 11 December 2015

Gallipoli Evacuation

Percy Lay, from Ballan, kept a diary during the whole of his WW1 service.  A copy was published in 1983, and we have a copy in the Australiana Research Room if you would like to read it.  We are going to let Percy tell of the evacuation:

December 11 and 12 1915.
Went up into the front line. 5th and 6th Btns. went off the Peninsula. Where and why they were going was a bit of a mystery. Heard that they had gone to Imbros because there were too many troops on ANZAC.

December 13, 1915.
Heard we were to evacuate ANZAC but would not believe it.

December 14, 1915.
Started to shift stores and ammunition as fast as possible.  We could get almost anything just for the asking. It seems as though we really are going to leave the peninsula.

December 15, 1915.
Spent the day destoying picks and shovels and emptying out rum casks and burying explosives. It seems a shame.

December 16, 1915.
Carted bombs down to the beach. Our planes up all day over their lines. It was reported we had captured a Turkish spy in our lines.

December 17, 1915.
Tipped out about 500 gallons of rum but while on this working party we got a lot of their very best stores. Tipping rum seems a terrible waste of good stuff.  There were strict orders that nobody was to touch a drop of it.

December 18, 1915.
Heard that we were to leave the same evening and left things so that they would be no use to the Turks.  We also blew up a few of our guns.  Left the trench at 5.15pm and had a quick trip to the beach. Troops started evacuating and everything going very smoothly.  Not much stuff left for the Turks.  "Beachy Bill" [Turkish gun at Gaba Tepe] only fired three shots. A bit hard on us old chaps, sneaking away like rats, having to leave so many of our old mates buried there, and then finding that our efforts were no good.  We had sandbags on our boots and our bayonets covered. In fact we were like criminals sneaking away.  We embarked on the "Abbessiah".

December 19, 1915.
Went off "Abbessiah" on the "WINIFREDAN" in Mudros Bay to await a boat to take us ashore on Lemnos.  Disembarked and went to our old camp at Sarpe and found most of 1st Divn. there.

December 20, 1915.The last of the die-hards arrived.  They got away without a shot being fired at them.

The Department of Veterans Affairs website Gallipoli and the Anzacs, has an overview of the Evacuation, if you wish to read further
Breaking up rum cases on North Beach on 17 December 1915 prior to the evacuation. [AWM G01276]

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