GALLIPOLI 100: A Derbyshire solider’s letter

A British soldier paying his respects at the grave of a colleague.
A British soldier paying his respects at the grave of a colleague.

In the Buxton Herald of September 22, 1915, Trooper Haynes of the Derbyshire Yeomanry wrote of his time in the Dardanelles during the Gallipoli campaign:

“On August 20th and 22nd we went through a most awful time. At two o’clock in the afternoon of August 21st, we started into what one could call a proper death-trap.

“In the front of us was a three-mile open plain before reaching the hill which we were to attack. All the way across that three miles we were heavily shelled by shrapnel.

“At last we reached the hill. Never shall I forget what happened. If such a place as Hell exists, it was on that hill.

“My regiment started the attack, and under rifle, maxim, and shrapnel fire, we could not live in such a place. We were ordered to drive them out, so on went our bayonets with a mighty cheer and the cry ‘Come on’.

“Never shall I forget that charge. It was like driving the Devil out of Hell.

“But we went amid a perfect hail of lead and took two lines of trenches. Our brave fellows dropped all round, but we did our worst.

“Our support not being strong enough we were ordered to retreat, but it was only over about 20 yards.

“The worst I have to tell you, and that is, nearly all of my pals are gone. God only knows how I got through but God was on my side.

“My hand is slightly damaged with shrapnel, but it is only skin deep.”