>> Friday, April 24, 2015
Or at least that is how HWMBOd remembers the rhyme taught to him by an old friend of his Aunt in about 1975.
He was referred to as Uncle Albert, in the way we all referred to our parents friends by aunty or uncle if we were allowed to us their first names. It maintained the mark or respect but less formal than calling them Mr & Mrs 'Smith'.
HWMBOd remembers being told he had to remember it because "It's important that these things got remembered." Why it was important slipped him by completely but the rhyme didn't.
His 'uncle' was at Gallipoli, he was shot twice whilst he was there. HWMBOd only recalls very scant details of the information.
Gallipoli was a shocking failure, massive losses and achieved nothing but to stir up the Turks. Churchill was demoted for the failure.
The whole way across it is just one mass of dead bodies, bags of bombs, bales of sandbags, rifles, shovels and all the hundred and one things that had to be rushed across to the enemy trenches. The undergrowth has been cut down, like mown hay, simply stalks left standing, by the rifle fire, whilst the earth itself appears just as though one had taken a huge rake and scratched it all over. Here and there it is torn up where a shell has landed. Right beside me, within a space of fifteen feet, I can count fourteen of our boys stone dead. Ah! It is a piteous sight. Men and boys who yesterday were full of joy and life, now lying there, cold – cold – dead – their eyes glassy, their faces sallow and covered with dust – soulless – gone – somebody’s son, somebody’s boy – now merely a thing. Thank God that their loved ones cannot see them now – dead, with the blood congealed or oozing out. God, what a sight. The major is standing next to me and he says “Well we have won”. Great God – won – that means victory and all those bodies within arm’s reach – then may I never witness a defeat. Just where we have broken into their tunnel there is one of our boys lying with his head and shoulders hanging into the hole; the blood is drip, drip, drip into the trench. I sit watching it –m fascinated; the major has just sat down too on the step into the tunnel and it is dripping on his back. I wonder who this poor devil was. I will look at his identity disc. It is under his chin and his face hangs downwards into the trench. Each time I lift his head it falls back; it is heavy and full of dirt and Ugh, the blood is on my hands – a momentary shudder – but one is used to these sights now, and I simply wipe my hands upon the dirt in the trench. Lying right against the trench ( I could get him if it was worth while ) lies another; his back is towards me, and he is on his side. From the back of his head down his neck runs a congealed line of dark red, but that is not what I notice; it is his hands. They are clasped before him just as though he was in prayer. I wonder what the prayer was. I wonder if it will be answered, but surely it must. Surely the prayer of one who died so worthily (he was right on the parapet of the Turkish trench ) could not fail to be answered.[The Gallipoli Diary of Sergeant Lawrence, Sir Ronald East (ed), Melbourne, 1983, p.68]
I would love to know more about Tom Todd, it's such a loss when the history dies with the person.
I found an article in The West Australian from Saturday 28 September 1929. I have reproduced it here and tried to correct the many mistakes the electronic reader told a big story for me from behind a small rhyme. HWMBO's 'uncle' wanted this man remembering and it is sad that I have found it hard to find a lot of information about him, so maybe the memory is already faded.