In the Gallipoli peninsular the 1/5th Battalion were holding the lines around Hill 60, but already, their time at Gallipoli had become one of entrenchment.
The complex of trenches around the hill resembled in miniature, the Saleint around Ypres. The Turks as usual, commanded the high ground, with the Suffolks in deep trenches around its slopes. The trenches needed to be deep for the Turks on the 'pimple' could pick off men at will in shallow trenches below. Here in places, they were 12 feet deep to allow men to move along them without fear of snipers, but a Turkish shell landing in the line, could bury men in the soft sandy soil in seconds. The situation was precarious and tense at all times.
In a effort to combat this fear, every 20 yards or so, a defensive redan was constructed. Normally these were a pile of empty water tins or ration boxes, supporting a plank with sandbags on top. If the enemy attacked, the men could rush into the redan, kick out the tins causing the wall to collapse and thus stop the enemy advancing further by creating a defensive redoubt from which to fight from. An archaic medieval tactic, but one that was much suited to the confinement of the Gallipoli campaign.
In their new front line, the Battalion had for new neighbours, a battalion of Australians on one side, and a mixed battalion of Sikhs and Gurkhas on the other. In one respect they had the tough fighting colonial troops from the east, who pride and smartness was much to be beholded, whilst on the other, the relaxed Antipodens in their vests and slouch hats were a different breed.
In mid September, the Turks began to roll the corpses of the dead of the previous battles down the slopes of the hill. The high summer heat had started to make their laying in the open unbearable for both sides. The swarms of flies the corpses attracted, forces the Allies to venture out to try and cover them over to stop the flies. The Turkish sniper caused many deaths to the Battalion in this period, leading to the creation of another ‘Suffolk Cemetery.”
“About this time” the Regimental Gazette ran, “disease began to be rife amongst the men and scores had to leave with dysentery and enteric. This was not to be wondered at, millions of flies were a veritable plague, the stench from the dead was fearful. The hot climate and the hard living lowered the men’s vitality. That there was a scarcity of that most necessary commodity of life, water, which was of doubtful quality.”
Welcome to our online 'blog' charting the history of the many Battalions of the Suffolk Regiment and the part they played in the Great War.
Starting back in March 2014, we have recorded the events of 100 years ago on the centenary of their happening.
Keep checking back to see how the Great War is progressing for the men of the Suffolk Regiment.