Contributed by: Robert Cook, on 2008-11-11
|Year of Birth||1894|
|Year of Death||1976|
|Place of Wartime Residence||Edmonton, Greater London|
A graphic letter written by Charles Cook of the 5th Wiltshire Regiment written to a friend in Cirencester. He tells of his wounding at Gallipoli in 1915. Charles was an army clerk and the original letter was typed:
"I thought I was done for"
"I am now in converlescence and my wounds are healed, but although I am a great deal better my nerves were knocked about during the bullet's course, and it will take a long time before I am fit again. It was a wonderful wound and the doctor said I had a cheek to be alive and I should have been paralysed. He was more puzzled when I told him that I had not lost consciousness when I was wounded.
"We set sail on July 2nd and after calling at Malta and Alexandra we arrived at Lemnos beach; we left next day for the Gallipoli peninsula. We landed by the side of the now historic 'River Clyde' and were resting for the day at the 'Lancashire landing'. Here an unfortunate incident occured; two of our fellows were buried alive by the fall of cliff and not discovered until the next morning.
"We took to the trenches the next morning relieving the 29th division. We spent twelve continuous days in the trenches and happily without many casualties. We then went to Lemnos for a rest for three days. On the third day we left for an unknown destination which eventually brought us to the Australian position. We acted as supports for two days and then on the evening of August the 6th we started on the never-to be-forgotten expedition. We marched along the coast and took up position on Sari-Bait Hill (950ft high). After an uneventful night during which 40,000 troops were landed without the Turks' knowledge the hill was successfully assaulted, the Wilts being well in front.
"Monday morning saw the 13th division in possession of the high. During the day the division was moved and the Wilts, South Wales Borderers and a company of Roayal Irish Rifles were left to guard the hill from attack. However, on Monday night the turks brought 70,000 fresh troops against the positions we held. At daybreak we saw the Turks advancing over the creast in tremendous numbers. We caught them in the act but numbers told. Two regiments were hurried up to our lines and it was resolved to hold on at all costs. Then the most terrible battle that has taken place on the peninsula began for the possession of the hill.
"Our men fell like flies and Major Hoen was killed in the first five minutes. I was in a small trench we had dug for cover from shell fire. There were five of us in one place; two were killed and two wouned and after that I moved. I hadn't been away long when I was hit (in the head). It was a fine sensation. I thought I was done for and one of my mates shook my hands and told me he was sorry to see me like that. But another said 'You've died a soldier's death.' But I didn't die. I struggled and tried to speak and a good deal of my strength came bak. I managed to get up and with the aid of a shovel started for the dressing section.
"Then began a terrible time. We had to travel a deep gully (dried up river) four miles long and it was commanded by shell fire and machine guns. A couple of REs helped me along and I really think I owe my life to them. Despite my first field dressing being put on I was losing blood. Imagine the conditions; no stretchers were available; all the bearers were continually being killed and wounded and previous to this we had no food and only a pint of water for three days. I will leave it to you to imagine our plight.
"At last we reached the staging from which small boats towed us to a frendly hospital ship. In our boat one chap was killed by a sniper's bullet. While we were going out to sea the wounded were coming down in droves. Eventually the regiment, now so sadly decimated had to retire fighting every inch of the way and the wounded who were helpless had to be left to the 'mercy' of the Turks."
Charles was in convalescence for a long time but later served in Mesopatamia.