Corporal Alf Birkhill, in a letter published on 8 January 1916 [1]

Posted by : berben2 on Aug 06, 2001 - 01:36 AM
World War I [2]
We are stubbornly trying to force the Turks up out of the ground, but they stick in well. Once we get them on the run, they seem to think we will progress quickly. The only thing I wish is that I was able to say I was in the landing at Gaba Tepe on April 25th.
I wish you could see the heights and the rough cliffs the boys of our first brigade forced. Even to one who does not understand the difficulties you have to face to gain a hill the enemy holds, it seems an impossible feat. They are not hills. They are more like cliffs. Gaba Tepe will be the clasp that will be most cherished when this is over. I can tell you we were glad to get here to give the old hands their well-earned spell. We all wish for a speedy ending of this, as it is useless to say otherwise. We are very well off, considering we are on an enemy's country, but stubborn trench fighting does not suit our boys. They would sooner be always taking Gaba Tepes and pushing on…

We are right up in the firing line near Lonesome Pine. The remains of the barbed wire is still to be seen there. The beach is looking more civilised every day. There are a number of piers always busy - in fact the whole beach is as busy as the Victoria Market. We got more shells today, but it is marvelous the little damage that they do. Our chaps have been blown off the parapets and not injured, while the sandbags protecting them have been torn to pieces and showers of dirt and dust come all over us. I am in charge of a firing line just at present. We are always either in the firing line or supports.

I often pass men who have Footscray written on their caps, and I have no idea who most of them are. Every man has the name of his home town written on his cap in indelible, and all towns of Australia are represented… I have got out of the way of writing a letter. Perhaps it is just as well, for if I write a glowing tale you might put it in the papers, which would be awful.
Note: A letter by Corporal Alf. Birkhill, who is now at Anzac, pays warm tribute after seeing the heroic Australians who scaled the heights at Gaba Tepo.

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