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   Chapter 15 KANGAROO BEACH

At Suvla Bay By John Hargrave Characters: 2994

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


The native only needs a drum,

On which to thump his dusky thumb-

But WE-the Royal Engineers,

Must needs have carts and pontoon-piers;

Hundreds of miles of copper-wire,

Fitted on poles to make it higher.

Hundreds of sappers lay it down,

And stick the poles up like a town.

By a wonderful system of dashes and dots,

Safe from the Turkish sniper's shots-

We have, as you see, a marvellous trick,

Of sending messages double-quick.

You can't deny it's a great erection,

Done by the 3rd Field Telegraph Section;

But somewhere-


The native merely thumps his drum,

He thumps it boldly, thus-"Tum! Tum!"

J. H.

(Sailing for Salonika.)

Kangaroo Beach was where the Australian bridge-building section had their stores and dug-outs.

It was one muddle and confusion of water-tanks, pier-planks, pontoons, huge piles of bully-beef, biscuit and jam boxes. Here we came each evening with the water-cart to get our supply of water, and here the water-carts of every unit came down each evening and stood in a row and waited their turn. The water was pumped from the water-tank boats to the tank on shore.

The water-tank boats brought it from Alexandria. It was filthy water, full of dirt, and very brackish to taste. Also it was warm. During the two months at Suvla Bay I never tasted a drop of cold water-it was always sickly lukewarm, sun-stewed.

All day long high explosives used to sing and burst-s

ometimes killing and wounding men, sometimes blowing up the bully-beef and biscuits, sometimes falling with a hiss and a column of white spray into the sea. It was here that the field-telegraph of the Royal Engineers became a tangled spider's web of wires and cross wires. They added wires and branch wires every day, and stuck them up on thin poles. Here you could see the Engineers in shirt and shorts trying to find a disconnection, or carrying a huge reel of wire. Wooden shanties sprang up where dug-outs had been a day or so before. Piers began to crawl out into the bay, adding a leg and trestle and pontoon every hour. Near Kangaroo Beach was the camp of the Indians, and here you could see the dusky ones praying on prayer mats and cooking rice and "chupatties" (sort of oatcake-pancakes).

Here they were laying a light rail from the beach up with trucks for carrying shells and parts of big guns.

Here was the field post-office with sacks and sacks of letters and parcels. Some of the parcels were burst and unaddressed; a pair of socks or a mouldy home-made cake squashed in a cardboard box-sometimes nothing but the brown paper, card box and string, an empty shell-the contents having disappeared. What happened to all the parcels which never got to the Dardanelles no one knows, but those which did arrive were rifled and lost and stolen. Parcels containing cigarettes had a way of not getting delivered, and cakes and sweets often fell out mysteriously on the way from England.

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