Life in frontline a tough battle

Last updated 05:00 24/04/2014

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Private Stead, the son of Mr W Stead of Conon St, Invercargill, wrote home from Birmingham Hospital describing the May 2 push up Suicide Gully to take a Turkish trench. This is an extract from his letter, later published in The Southland Times. 

We were getting on fine. The 4th, who led, were within a couple of chains of the trench and had not been sighted.

We came next and would be about half-way when the Australian boys, who were to support us, came over the ridge, cheering and yelling, spoiling the whole show and drawing on to us a terrible fire.

Men fell on all sides.

The Australians came up on us and nearly bayoneted us, thinking we were the enemy.

They lost their heads and started firing at the Turks, yet into the 4th in front of us.

We had a great job stopping them.

The Turks were driven from (the) trench OK, but a lot, including myself, did not get there.

I got within two chains of it and had just got down for a breather when I got hit right in the neck.

It went in at bottom of left side and came out just at left of spine, high up the neck.

One grazed my head just above right ear (now healed; can't notice it).

One into the muscle on my right shoulder (almost well, still in but cannot feel it). One grazed my poor old left collarbone (still a scab on it).

One took skin off my left tricep.

Also a couple of holes in my tunic at side where bullets had gone without touching me.

Yes, they were pretty thick and I was very fortunate to come out so well.

I thought I was done when I got the one in neck.

It paralysed both my arms for a few minutes.

I sent my love to you all by Lindsay, who was within a yard of me and was not hit. He had his equipment shot clean off him later, but got right through OK.

Feeling came back to my arms again in a few minutes and, declining Stan's assistance back (it was just as dangerous to go back as forward), got out of my equipment, grabbed water bottle and set sail on all fours for the rear ridge we had left at the start of charge.

Walked and crawled there all right and had a trying time finding road down.

Found it with the assistance of Bokey McFarlane, of Edendale, of the 10th; Met Ernie Bartlett, of the Band (stretcher bearer) who walked with me to the hospital on beach, about three miles distant.

The snipers were after us going down and very nearly got us; even when going to boat the bullets were flying around us.

Got wounds dressed on beach, also two mugs of steaming hot beef tea and went straight to bed on arrival on "Dongola".

Was dead tired, so slept in spite of stiff neck. Was up walking about deck next day and have been up every day since, so you can see I'm quite all right.

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- The Press

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