Midnight the Warhorse: Part 5 - To Gallipoli

by Peter Haydon

The brothers found they were to be again separated from their horses and sent to Gallipoli as reinforcements on 28 August 1915 attached to the 2nd LH Brigade. Their Brigade Commanding Officer Colonel Spencer-Browne addressed them before leaving saying:

 

“You are fit to meet the enemy after only four weeks training in Egypt. No other regiment has left this country with less than three months training. I am proud to have commanded such officers, non-commissioned officer and men. I believe Australia has never sent out a finer brigade.”

 

They went by train to Alexandria and sailed to Lemnos Island landing at Anzac Cove at midnight while occasional bullets hit the transport.

Training in the desert near the Pyramids

The Australians were gallantly hanging onto their precarious positions on the peninsula’s beach and cliffs against the entrenched Turks. Guy was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and put in charge of B Squadron. Earlier their cousin Stuart Haydon had been killed in the landing at Gallipoli being the first local casualty of the war.

Training in the desert near the Pyramids

Training in the desert near the Pyramids

Training in the desert near the Pyramids

Training in the desert near the Pyramids

They fought there until the troops were withdrawn. The conditions were very tough, with sleepless nights and they did not relish the idea of fighting on through a harsh winter. It was freezing at night and lice shared the dugouts with them. In Guy’s letter home titled “In the Trenches-Gallipoli” he writes…… “the trenches are 7 feet deep..it is impossible to get hit by a bullet if you keep your head down. I can assure you we do…..we dig little rests in the side of the trenches to sleep in and as long as it doesn’t rain we will be fairly comfortable…..dysentery is playing the devil with the man…..the smell is pretty awful as there are scores of bodies unburied lying out beyond the trenches….we can see bodies of dead Australian and Turks lying together…they had been there for about a month…it is getting cold here now and if we are here for winter we’ll have a pretty rough time of it as it rains heavily at that time.” As the weather changed to winter and storms raced across the Anzac positions men all over the peninsula suffered from exposure and frostbite. In November the snow fell.

Training in the desert near the Pyramids

They were very relieved to hear it was time to depart and continue the fight against the Turks on another front. They helped with the elaborate plans to deceive the Turks that they were leaving. The plan worked well. Tins full of water were tied to the triggers of their rifles which were pointed at the Turks. A small hole was punctured in the bottom so the water would drip out slowly and then release the trigger to fire a shot towards the Turks. The seemingly impossible had be accomplished without a single casualty. It was one of the great military and naval achievements ever accomplished. A German called it “a masterpiece” as they had no idea of the plans to evacuate.


Their efforts were effective and their departure was without any more loss of life. Although 19- 20 December 1915 withdrawal proved quite a remarkable military feat the Australians they had already suffered 28,150 casualties and had shown great resilience to hold on to their precarious positions on the cliffs.

Training in the desert near the Pyramids