The History of Leith

March 31, 2012

Letter from the Front

D. S.—I received your most kind ‘and, beautiful parcel
this morning, for, which please accept my sincerest
thanks, also, will you please convey to Mr. Swan many
thanks for the beautiful little Testament he enclosed,
which I will always carry in my pockjat, and promise
faithfully to read at least once a day. We have the
opportunity in the meantime to read a good many
chapters of our Bibles, as things are pretty quiet here
just now, hardly a shot being fired by either side during
the day-time, although the artillery usually have a
” scrap ” in the late afternoon, and, of course, there is
always the %’sual rattle of rifle and machine-gun fire all
through the night, which causes no damage in the firing
line at all, but causes damage farther back, if the shot
be high or stray, many fellows being hit, some slightly
and others, again, being killed. The last time we were
up here my own chum was killed by a stray bullet
striking him in the neck, so it is at night-time that
we have all to be careful.
Just now I am lying in a cosy little dug-out in a very
narrow valley called ” West Krithia Nullah,” which
leads to our firing line, then to the Turkish firing line,
and. farther up still, to the village of Krithia, which,
naturally, is now nothing but a mass of ruins. It is in
this nullah that many a poor fellow gets hit. I myself
just being lucky enough to lie down in my bed(?) last
night, when a bullet spat viciously into the parapet
right above my head; and three nights ago, when the
Turks gave us some rapid fire, five bullets struck my
parapet, but not so near as the one last night, which I
would have got, nothing surer, if I had been standing up.
So now, as soon as dark sets in, we have no alternative
but to ” get down and get under,” if we want to rise next
morning. We, the Ambulance section, are leading
gentlemen’s lives just now, doing absolutely nothing
(unless some chap gets wounded) but eating and
sleeping. You see, it is our place to lie in the support
trenches when our battalion is in the firing line, so
this nullah acts as the support to the firing line, and
will you believe, we can lead a cleaner and happier
life on this part of the battlefield than we can in the
rest camp. You will have read of how our men in
France are pleased when they are relieved from the
trenches so as to get a good scrub in their rest camp,
but in this country it is the very opposite, as water is
very scarce in our rest camp (for washing purposes,
anyway), while here, in the nullah, a stream of water
runs down, wherein we can wash to our heart’s content,
but, of course, we are not allowed to drink it, as it
passes through the Turks ground first, and they could
easily poison it as they did all the sunk wells, when
they retired when our heavy fights were on a few mouths
ago. For my part, I seem to be able to work far better
when I feel clean; many a time w e have all gone without
a wash for a week and sometimes a fortnight, but that
is only in an engagement, when no man has time for
anything but his duty.
I am sorry I cannot give you more news, but you
will see for yourself how well-nigh impossible it is to
give anybody news, when even the Boys’ Brigade
could do the work we are doing just now with the
greatest of ease, our main work being to keep a sharp
eye on ” Johnnie Turk’s ” movements, to see he is up to
no dirty tricks like his German pal in the West; but
we can give the Turk his due, he has fought comparatively
clean, as far, at least

source-South Leith Magazine 1915

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