Archive Blog Post

Canonbury rate collector’s adventures: newspaper story

Islington Daily Gazette and North London Tribune
16th September 1915

Canonbury rate collector’s adventures
Somewhere in Gallipoli
Cake badly wanted.

We have received a copy of a letter from Mr. R. A. Jordan, the Canonbury rate collector, who is serving “somewhere in Gallipoli.” He writes:-

I have landed at last. We arrived at Alexandria and embarked to his point to effect a new landing.

I was on one ship with about 100 others and we were put into small boats and were towed in a line shorewards. Every chap was merry and bright, but Mr. Turk was not in the mood to let us have a fair sailing.

He had our range, and boom, a whistle and a splash; and we knew that after all these months we had struck war.

It was no good. Though the shells went all round he did not get a bull’s eye.

When we landed the boys marched off and I had to stop for all the stores to come from the other ships.

All the day the shells came all over the place, but I had the good luck to escape. One shell caught a poor fellow and wiped him out and also wounded four others.

It had turned twelve at night ere I left and found the others, and I can tell you I was absolutely tired out.

In the morning I took a party to the beach to draw rations. All the other quartermaster-sergeants did the same, and when we met we numbered and looked a big party.

Mr. Turk soon sent a message that we should scatter. I can tell you that at the first message we did very quickly, and all the time we dodged out and got the stuff on to the carts the pumped shells into us.

In less than an hour he put twenty-two out of action. We do not go there now in parties.

Yesterday we advanced towards him with the battleships in the bay covering the advance. The ships threw shells at half-minute intervals, with what effect I cannot say.

All the scrub caught fire and at night all along the Turks’ ground was one mass of flames.

Then we realised what it must be for the wounded lying about. Good God, it must have been awful! I trust that they were soon out of their misery.

Our regiment had forty-six casualties, including Sergeant McGloston, of my troop, who was killed. He was shot through the head by a sniper. He would not takes his stripes off and pencil them on his tunic as we have done.

I have heard that it is much better, as Kipling says, to roll on to your rifle and put yourself out of the way rather than fall into the Turks’ hands. I have not seen any case myself, but the tales we are told as to what has happened to prisoners, wounded or otherwise is terrible.

Grub is good, but the water is awful and dysentry is very rife. Well, I suppose it will all end in due course, but am afraid that the loss of life must be totalled up in thousands are the job is over.

There is one thing asked for here, and that is cake. We would go through the whole Turkish line if we knew we could get a feed of it there. It seems rather strange, and it is an extraordinary taste.

Do not worry: we shall, with luck, pull through all right.

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