Gallipoli, Turkey 1915, 5th August 9TH Battalion
My dearest love,
Helen, I miss you more than you can believe, thanks for your last letter. I hope your sister is getting better and her husband is dealing with kids. Speaking about kids, how’s my boy? Hope he’s doing well in school. Conditions are horrible here at Gallipoli and last night I found a rat in my sleeping bag! It’s very muddy and dirty here. Gallipoli, it’s scary I’m not ashamed to tell you that I’m terrified. Terrified of losing you, of losing the war and leaving my boy without a father.
The scariest part is the fact that everything I fear could come true, any time, any day and there is no way I can change that. My friends and comrades are dying around me every minute, I see a solider fall. We can barely exit the trenches without getting shot but my superiors still send us out there. I’m one of the lucky ones, I’ve been sent out twice and both times barely lasting with my life. There is so much here to fear, the cold, the loneliness and so much more. It’s no man’s land here, it’s like a barren waste land with nothing but war. The beach is littered with bodies piled so high it could reach your waist. Shell cases lying across the ground, unexploded mines and grenades, you have to be so careful where you step cause if not it could be your last.
Do you remember that summer we went to England to help with the royal parade? That’s when we met Machiavelli, he’s wife is gravely ill and might not last to see him home. Can you please send her my best wishes; she is at the official medical ward in Melbourne. All this talk of friends and children, how could I forget to ask, How are you my dear? I hope you are doing okay, don’t worry I’ll be home soon, they said it would be over by Christmas.
Yesterday the Colonel organised a cease fire with the Turks so that we could all bury our dead and reach and help the wounded. The funniest part is during the cease fire we sat down with the Turks and the English and had a very cold and rubbish cup of tea. The food here is limited and what we do get is hard and usually cold, most the men break their teeth on the biscuits. If you could please send some cookies with your next letter it would make my day. I can’t believe how eager I was to come here, one of the worst mistakes of my life, it’s like a living hell. Constantly being shot at, not knowing if you’re going to live to see the sunrise. It’s not fair, I wish I’d never come here, I wish I’d never put my name down.
England was wrong we didn’t get to fight side by side with them; instead we went to Egypt for training because their camps were overflowing and then we were shipped over to Gallipoli without warning. Alone, newly trained and ever so raw we were sent to the Turkish beach with bad intel and practically ambushed; 30% of our soldiers were killed in the first hour of us arriving.
I don’t know if this letter will ever reach you, I can only hope for one of my peers or supervisors to get this to you if I can’t. Still I want you to know that there is not a day that goes passed that I don’t think of you and my boy. I’m fighting this war for you and for your safety. I see men writing to their loved ones and I can’t help but think how many of them will reach the designated person? How many of them will even finish the letters they are writing? And how many of them will survive to send the letters themselves?
Although it is dangerous here there is also a sense of excitement and prowess. The rush you get every time you charge into the fight it’s intoxicating but afterwards you get the hangover that what if you were killed then and never saw your family again. Some men are so proud to serve their country that it blinds them in war. Although a bunch of the soldiers in the 10th battalion thought of a great idea, the empty food tins we get our dinner in after they are emptied you can use them as a homemade grenades.
My love for you is unwavering and forever. I hope I see this fight out till the end just to see you again. With all my heart my darling Helen, I miss you.