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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

To My Old Comrades

page xv

To My Old Comrades.

I have been asked to write a foreword to “The New Zealanders at Gallipoli,” and it gives me the greatest pleasure to do so, providing, as it does, an opportunity of recording the affection and admiration I have, and shall always have, for those who were my comrades on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

It was as a comparatively small force that we started our soldiering in Egypt towards the end of 1914. And I am sure that no soldier was ever prouder of his command than I was when, on the orders of Lord Kitchener, I took over the command of the Australian and New Zealand troops who were then arriving from their homes.

Not a moment of the time spent in Egypt was wasted, for all ranks instinctively realized what was before us, and put their best work into the necessary training. I doubt if any but those who were present can conceive all that this training meant to us, and in what wonderfully good stead it stood us when the time of trial came at Gallipoli. When that time arrived, we felt that we were a really formed military body, and not merely a collection of units hastily thrown together and without any military cohesion. During that period, a strong feeling of esprit de corps was engendered throughout the force, and perhaps most important of all, a spirit of discipline, the necessity of which was realized, was inculcated in all ranks.

I so well remember on that early morning of April 25, 1915, the intense keenness and anxiety on the part of all to get ashore and capture the Turkish positions without a moment's delay; and it was, I know, a source of great regret to the New Zealanders that it was to the 1st Australian Division that the honour of the first landing fell. Transports, however, followed each other rapidly, and the day had not worn long when the New Zealand infantry were ashore and attacking what afterwards became known as Russell's Top, on the left of the Australians. There and thereabouts page xvi it was destined to continue this fighting through thick scrub for many a long day, and to prove to the Turks how impossible it was to throw such men back into the sea, as they had confidently anticipated doing.

A short foreword like this is no place for a history of the doings of the force, to which I know full credit will be done in this and other volumes depicting New Zealand's share in the Great War. I will only say here what complete confidence I always had—without one moment of hesitation—throughout the campaign in the bravery, the steadfastness and the efficiency of the New Zealand troops. Their
Black and white photograph.

[Photo by Bartlett & Andrew
Major-General Sir A. J. Godley, K.C.B., K.C.M.G.

discipline was admirable, while never have I seen troops more willing or determined.

I would that I could here mention by name even half of those who were such real comrades to me, such as General Godley, Colonels Russell, Napier Johnston, F. E. Johnston, Chaytor; Colonel McBean Stewart, of the Canterbury page xvii Battalion, who, to my great regret, was killed on the day of the landing; and Colonels Findlay, Mackesy, and Meldrum, of the Canterbury, Auckland, and Wellington Mounted Rifles respectively.

There are two others who gave their lives on the Peninsula, and whom I would especially record.

One of the most difficult points which we had to hold was known as Quinn's Post. The Turkish trenches there were certainly not more than ten yards from our own, and it can easily be imagined how the battle raged furiously
Black and white photograph.

[Photo by Bartlett & Andrew
Brigadier-General Sir A. H. Russell., K.C.B.

between the two systems. The gallant Quinn, after whom the post was named, had been killed, and, later on, the Australians were replaced in their turn by the Wellington Battalion under Colonel Malone. This officer at once set himself the task of making his post as perfect and impregnable as he could, and in this task he fully succeeded. I shall never page xviii forget the real pleasure it gave me when visiting the post from time to time to realize the keenness and energy which Colonel Malone put into his work, and on every visit I found myself leaving it with greater confidence that, come what may, Quinn's Post could never be taken by an enemy, however strong. Shortly after this, Colonel Malone was, to my deep regret, and to that, I know, of his many comrades, killed while leading his battalion most gallantly in the main attack on Sari Bair on August 8. A thorough and keen soldier, his loss was great to the whole force, and I personally felt I had lost not only an excellent officer, but a really true friend.

The other officer to whom I cannot refrain from making especial reference, was Colonel Bauchop, of the Otago Mounted Rifles: a more gallant and cheerier gentleman never lived. Always full of high spirits and courage—ready to undertake any enterprise, and refusing to acknowledge difficulties, he was just the type of man wanted to ensure the maintenance of high morale in such a campaign as we were carrying out at Gallipoli. For a very long time Colonel Bauchop held command of our extreme semi-detached outposts, and I know how proud he was of the great game of war in which he played so prominent a part. Perfectly fearless, he came through the fighting unscratched until August 8, when he was killed at the head of his regiment, leading it in a gallant charge on the extreme left of our old position. Surely it would be impossible for any commander not to be devoted to such men as these!

What seemed to me as one of the best features of our fighting at Gallipoli was the mutual confidence and esteem which it engendered between the New Zealand and the Australian soldiers. Before this, they had had little opportunities of knowing each other. Going round, as I did, the trenches of all, it was to me a constant source of satisfaction and delight to find New Zealanders and Australians confiding in me the highly favourable opinion which, apparently to their surprise, they had formed of each other! May such a feeling continue for all time, to the great advantage of the British race in the Southern Seas.

page xix

I am sure that the New Zealand troops would not wish me to conclude this foreword without mentioning the British Navy, to whom we all owe so much, and memories of whom will remain for ever with all those who served alongside of them.

On our return from Gallipoli to Egypt, in 1916, the arrival of the New Zealand Rifles Brigade and the large reinforcements which had been sent from New Zealand enabled us to expand the original New Zealand Expeditionary Force into a complete division—than which, I can say with confidence, no finer or better organized division served in France. I had the honour to take this division with me to the Western Front in April, 1916. But, alas! I was not to have the honour of retaining it long under my command, for on the reconstitution of the Australian and New Zealand divisions, it was decided that the latter should leave my army corps: I need scarcely say it was a matter of the deepest personal regret to me.

I sincerely wish all my old comrades happiness and success. None of us are ever likely to forget the times we spent together on Gallipoli. We sincerely mourn for those who so willingly gave their lives for the great cause in which we were fighting; but we know they have not died in vain, for they have ensured freedom and right for our children and our children's children. New Zealand may well be—as I am sure she is—justly proud of her magnificent sons, who so bravely upheld her flag and fought for her honour on the shores of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Signature of General Sir William Birdwood