Memoir from WW1, Battle of Gallipoli - from a new member

Feb 23, 2024
Hi, and thanks for having me in the forum. I joined from an interest in World War II Snipers but I'm now interested in even the earlier stories in the forum. The American Civil War stories are terrific.

I’ve been in correspondence with Gary Yeo how about his new book WWII Snipers because I’m currently preparing a podcast episode on the subject.

As a contribution from me to the forum, folks might enjoy this gripping extract from a WW1 memoir, never published, about the battle of Gallipoli. It was written by Briton, Sgt Fred Reynard, and features a Turkish sniper and was given to me by his granddaughter.

After WW1 Fred further distinguished himself later as engineer aboard one of the fabled little ships of Dunkirk, evacuating troops from France in May 1940.

Galipolli 1915:

The British have taken on the Turks who are defending their territory.

"Then a tragic incident happened, one which was to prove a turning point in my army life. There was a cry of help from no man's land and turning round I saw a man running round in circles. He was either mad or blinded. It was the latter. But there was something else - a figure of a man running towards him and that man was Dink Watson. I saw Dink reach him and then he fell wounded himself. No time to think then, and I found myself running towards my pal. The fifty yards I must have covered in record time, but I reached him and he was still alive.

He said, "Sgt Freddie". Where my strength came from I shall never know, but I threw him over my shoulder, as if he was a child and started back with a hail of bullets following me.

Something hit my side and it pained a little; then a bang on the chest as I tumbled with Dink into our shelter. Dink was dead, and so we could do nothing for him, so I had to look to myself. A bullet had broken my bayonet off short and had driven the steel of the scabbard into my hip, tearing the flesh apart. Another had hit the prayer book I carried in my breast pocket, and the steel mirror inside had deflected it and so saved my life. And the mirror was one that Dink had given me.

I was filled with remorse and sorrow, for I had lost a good pal but over his body I swore I would not rest until I had put that sniper in his grave or he mine.

That evening we dragged Dink's body to the shelter of a large olive tree where we buried him. The picture of his girl, I placed in his breast pocket and buried it with him. We recited the Lord's Prayer and heaped large stones to keep the carrion birds away. We marked his grave with a simple wooden cross made from an ammunition box, and marked it with just one word 'Dink' But I crawled away from that spot bitter in heart, it seemed, to everything.

Capt Seely was waiting for me when I got back. He said that he’d seen everything and he would send his report to HQ.

But I only wanted that sniper.

I mentioned to Capt Seely what I had said to Capt Gore but he informed me that the Capt was gone, having never returned from a line tour. He said the Royal Engineers (RE) had established a line to us, so he could contact Brigade HQ and would report what I had seen.

Late afternoon, an officer of the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) came to us and with him we crawled to our ridge. I shall not forget his words when he looked on to that sunken road, "The dream of an RA officer," he said. The road was jammed with traffic moving toward the 32 Div sector - wagons, guns, troops etc - and we’d about a three mile view until they vanished from sight by a gap in the hill. In his excitement he jumped to his feet and was rewarded with two shots through his helmet, and I never saw a man move more quickly than he did.

But those shots had done something more, for there was not a breath of air [ie no wind], but I saw the leaves of a tree move. We got back nearly to our position and I put my helmet on a piece of stick and pushed it gently up. I didn’t have to wait for long, and it had a hole in it. But it was the same tree and I knew where my sniper was. I got back and the RA officer left me. I took every care with my gun and spaced the belt. I got the range and put a burst into that tree. The leaves and branches shattered but nothing else, so I tried another burst and a body came falling to the ground.

I waited until nightfall and went out to that body. The features were not course, as I expected to find but the skin was painted to suit the surroundings. There was a belt on the body severed by my bullets, but still in position, and then I made a discovery, for that sniper was a woman.

That discovery shocked me for I’d killed a woman, then I saw around her neck was a string of discs, 48 in all, of those she’d killed - and five were men of my own battalion.

I thought of my pal Dink, forgot my scruples and cursed her as she lay there and went back. We were never troubled with a sniper at Anafasta again."


If anyone wants to follow up and learn more, my podcast is the Fighting Through WW2 memoirs podcast. This story was in episode 16. You can listen to it or read the full narrative.

I hope it’s OK to post a link:
Thanks for sharing that info.

There's a great series about this campaign -- better than the Mel Gibson movie from decades ago -- that was on Prime, but you might find it on Tubi. It's really well done, and the images of the Battle for the Nek was tough to watch... What a waste (of life)..........

Old No7

This is the series you want:
Gallipoli series.jpg
Interesting story bit isn't there a better place on the forum to post this than the Black Powder section?