Of all the countries involved in the Gallipoli campaign, Britain paid by far the heaviest price with 22,000 soldiers killed and 198,000 wounded and missing. As one of the worst failures of the First World War, the campaign had far-reaching repercussions for the country. It marked the end of Sir Ian Hamilton’s military career and caused a political crisis which ultimately led to Asquith’s resignation as Prime Minister in December 1916. The heavy casualties among Irish soldiers were also to form a causal factor in the Irish War of Independence, as crystallised in the lines of Canon Charles O’Neill’s famous ballad, “Twas better to die ‘neath an Irish sky than in Suvla or Sedd el Bahr”. However in January 1916 the soldiers departing from Gallipoli were too tired and seasick to have much thought for anything beyond clean clothes and a good night’s sleep.
Monday 10 January
Went to the hospital. The changes are up for tomorrow & I am on the 1st floor with Florence & Violet & Mrs Corns. My men were awfully nice about me going, & said they wanted to be moved too. Three new men came in to my ward last night, & have got quite bad wounds. Doddie came to meet me, & came for lunch. Afterwards I painted poles & things. Mr Montanion & Miss Castbergcame for tea, I didn’t go in. Muz & Heppie worked in the back garden. Then I did some sewing. Doddie didn’t stay for dinner. I went to bed at 9-30, but Muz didn’t come till three. Heppie did out the servant’s Hall till late too, & scrubbed it. I got such a nice letter from Meek, he has been moved to Danesgate. He says he misses the fig pudding, so we sent him a bit for fun!
Hard at work
T.S. Karoo. Went off to the Aragon with Fuller & Brand. Then I met the Gen & Percy. We went off to Mudros with Gen S— his staff & bought some kit etc. Got back about 5 o’c. Was very comfortable in a cabin with Cayley.
Tuesday 11 January
I was going to the hospital, but Muz wouldn’t let me. I papered all the drawers etc in the servants’ rooms, & Ethel cleaned the windows. Cut out things for behind the wash hand stands, & got them ready for Ione to sew. Planted some things in the garden. Muz heard from Jimmy the wedding is nearly certain to be on the 20th. Doddie came for tea, & stayed for dinner. Mr Buchanan came to ask if Ione & I would go up to London with him tomorrow for the day, but we didn’t see him, we wrote a note. We went to bed at about 10-30. I made the pudding for dinner.
Minneapolis. Nice warm day. Did nothing much all morning. Went on to the Minnetonka in the afternoon & bought some sheets.
I started to write to you on the night of the 8th but haven’t been able to get it posted. So will continue now & send them all off as one letter. I will continue now from 11 o’c on the night of the 8th. Well with the end of the General’s thermos and a packet of biscuits I had quite a good meal. All the parties had then gone except the rear guard from the Hants and Worcesters. It was rather monotonous waiting till 11.45. Fuller kept on ringing up from the Div to know how things were going. That kept me fairly busy, then I had a chat on the phone to each of the Cy commanders in the firing line. At last 11.45 came & both Battns rang up to say that they were going to cut their telephone wires and come back. That really was quite the most trying time waiting for the columns to come along. The Worcesters got away quickly but the Hants took a long time. They had a difficult bit of line to leave & just as they wanted to go the Turks started bombing. So that had to be stopped before they could break away. However they got away without any mishap and without the Turks finding out what was happening. I eventually left the Eski line at 12.40 having got the R.E. to set the mines and close down the wire entanglements in the communication trench. It was quite a funny feeling walking back & knowing that there was only a few bombs and a wire entanglement between us & the Turks. We got to the Beach about 2 o’c but had to wait about for a bit before they would put us onto the lighter. The Turks were shelling the beach occasionally but nothing really to worry one. We eventually got onto a lighter about 3 am but were turned off and put onto another. The sea had blown up a bit then & we had quite a job getting alongside the destroyer. Eventually we got on and got away about 4.30.
Well the devil such a journey ever I had. We were packed into the Ward room like sardines in a tin. “Boots” Pierce & I sat side by side & talked of various things of interest till we nodded off into a doze only to be woken up with start by the beastly boat lurching about. We had a tremendous lot of men on board. We got half way to Mudros but had to go back to Imbros & put some of the men off onto another boat. Then the hell began. It was beastly rough – I was so ill I wouldn’t have cared if I had died. I lay on the floor of the chart room & got absolutely soaked by the sea coming washing in. That didn’t worry me I just lay there. After what seemed to be about a century we got down here & went on board a horrible old junk called the Karoo. I stayed on her one night & was so sleepy that I could have slept on spikes. It was really very uncomfortable & we had three sittings for each meal. Well yesterday I got a boat & came off onto the Aragon with Col Fuller. There I met my General & Percy. We went on shore & spent quite an amusing day buying socks shirts etc from the Ordnance. We got back about 4 o’c. Then I went & collected my kit off the Karoo. Pierce & I came back onto the boat & spent a very comfortable night. It is great fun as everybody is in such good form. It has done the General a world of good, & Percy is looking better than I have seen him for ages. You can’t think what a relief it is to be able to just live & have no work papers to worry one. I believe we are due to sail to-morrow for Alexandria then I suppose we will go into camp & refit. That will take us anything from 6 weeks to 2 months which will be rather nice. When I get there if I find it’s possible I’ll send you a cable telling you to come out. But there is a rumour that no ladies are allowed there in which case of course you couldn’t come. What fun it would be if we could manage it. I’d love you to meet the General & Percy you’d love them. I hear that all our mails have gone on to Alexandria. I was hoping that we’d get them here. But it will be lovely getting them when we arrive. I won’t be able to post this till we arrive so I’ll end now & write again if there is any news between now & when we arrive. I intend to be really lazy for the next few days & just be thoroughly lazy. Well wee Mus I think I have told you all the news about the evacuation. Best love to you all.
Your loving Pat.
Wednesday 12 January
Ethel & I did out the schoolroom & the conservatory then she cleaned the windows, & I tidied everything away. Then we cleaned out the drawing room. Then I washed up, as Muz went with a message. Heppie did the window poles etc in the drawing room & Muz polished the piano, & after dinner she played & the others sang, & I wrote letters. Muz & Ethel polished brass in the room, as there was a lovely fire & we went to bed at about 11-30.
Minneapolis. Sailed about 7 o’c. Coldish wind.
Thursday 13 January
Dorothy came for lunch, & she & Tom went down the town afterwards. Muz, Tom, Dorothy & I went to the theatre “Aladdin”, we went to 1/- seats, Ione was with the de Viviers.
Friday 14 January
Tom stayed in bed all day! Did a lot of cleaning & tidying all day.
Sunday 16 January
Tom went out on the Leas with Dorothy, I did the ballroom out & did a lot of tidying etc. Then Muz, Tom & I went to the soldiers’ club.