Letter from Cairo tells of injuries, but also pride

BUNDABERG Genealogical Association has compiled letters home from soldiers serving in the First World War in two books, Letters from Soldiers Parts 1 and 2.

The Bundaberg Mail reported that Mr HW Bull received a letter from his brother-in-law, Captain JA Milne, from Heliopolis, Cairo.

"Just a note to say that I am now on the way to be mended and, barring a bit of a finger and several other chips off, won't be much the worse. I am, however, very shaky yet, and generally speaking, not worth a hang.

"Well, old man, we had a fight worth calling a fight when the Kangaroos hopped on to the Turkish soil, and stopped there in spite of the fact the Germans and Turks had things very much ready for us.

"The Queenslanders had the post of honor allotted to them which consisted of getting ashore and brushing the enemy back to permit of other troops landing.

"Considering that the enemy had lots of machine guns and plenty of troops in well-constructed trenches, we had a very hot time, apart from the fact that Gaba Tepe Fort was only about three miles away on our right, with lots of guns and ammunition too, judging by the indiscriminate way they pitched it at us.

"I had my company on the destroyer Beagle, who, at 4 o'clock made for the land. When about 150 yards from the shore we tumbled into the boats, and soon had our feet on the Sultan's territory. By this time, the other companies of the 9th Battalion were on shore, or near it, and we had our baptism of fire.

"The din was terrible, and as my company was on the right, nearest the Fort, we got pie. The hills in front of us, a dark mass, with lines of flashes spitting death, looked forbidding. But we were there and determined to do what men might do, while we lasted, so we charged without firing a shot, and emptied them out of trench after trench.

"My boys fought with the utmost gallantry, and soon we had forced the enemy back, approximately a mile and a half. It was grand, but the cost was big.

"Behind us, the ridges were dotted with khaki figures, some strangely still, others rolling in agony. But the fortitude displayed by the wounded was remarkable and I think, perhaps we tacked a new sheet on to the history of Queensland and of Australia, even if it is a red one.

"I have given you an idea of what we did, and although I got pretty badly hit by two different shells, I had a terrible lot of luck when rushing the Heights. A bullet cut the skin of my ankle, another went through the side of my coat, and still another through my pannican, which was on my belt. Anyhow it is war time and one cannot whine about small matters like that."

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