Here are just a few poignant extracts from the War Diary of of our distant relative Harry C Tallboy, which describes events leading up to and including the Gallipoli landings.
Thurs 25. Left Air Shed at 7.30 in Ford car with Freddy Wray for Yelverton. Breakfast at Staines. Went thro’ Aldershot, Basingstoke, Salisbury – lunch….
Sat. March 13th . Pleasant morn. Spent scrubbing. Went to Naval Hospital Grava Place (Malta). Got all our surgical stores aboard. Relieved guard till 6.30 Went ashore with Eccles till 11pm. Various cafes. Had fine dinner….
Thurs. 29th April. Landed at Dardanelles early morning. At Gaba Jepe. Marched with guns and ammunition up hills to just behind firing line. Bullets, shells shrapnel and incendiary. Hell upon earth. Digging all day and ducking from bullets. On sentry at night for one hour. Awful suspense. Had our guns mounted in trenches on hills. Incessant rifle firing night and day….
Friday 30th. Weather glorious. Major Risk wounded, shelled with shrapnel by the Turks. Orders received to take no notice of white flag. Hear that Australians lost immense numbers on landing last Sunday. Commander Lambert wounded. Poor old Billy Wilsden killed. Watson, Wallace, Cole, Ridley, Marchant, Cooper, Lew, Stacy, Dillon all wounded….
May 1st Saturday. My birthday. 28. In the trenches with maxim. Under fierce shrapnel fire. 214 shells falling in 10 minutes. Continuous shelling for about 4 hours. Took 3 hours to crawl about 300 yards. Absolutely hell, a regular birthday present. Received letter in trenches for AGCE. Leut. Comm. Boothby killed….
Thursday 13th Still in trenches. Had some food at last and got some sleep. Armstrong shot though head. Christened aeroplane “Tantalising Tommy”….
Sat. 15th. At base. Shrapnel over in morning. Fryers (No. 4 Squad) killed, a few yards from me. Received letter from Emma….
Friday 28th. Left camp for trenches. Gun fixed at head of gulley with sandbags and wire entanglements in front. With Eccles, Wray and Austin on gun…
Sat. May 29th In trenches. Very hot – quiet. Good sport shooting frogs in pond, no Turks being available. Wrote Emma and GP. Poor old Eccles shot through the neck….
Friday June 4th Moved gun position. Great attack. Indescribable. Austin killed (died in my arms). Everitt and Wray wounded by shrapnel next to me. Leut. Weightman killed. I am the only one left. Gun put out of action. Brought gun back miles to camp. Done to the wide. Carried Austin and Everitt to base through trenches….
Sat June 5th. Returned to trenches. Dug grave and buried O’Neil and Bishop. Returned to old gun position and collected goods. Found Leut. Weightman and Austin ready for burial. Discovered that my name had been sent down as killed. Returned to camp in aft. Many Turkish prisoners passing camp. Wray returned to camp….
Harry C. Tallboy survived the war and married Emma. He served in the RAF in WW2 and died in 1971.