Tom Todd's terrible tired timid tent

>>  Friday, April 24, 2015

"Tom Todd's terrible tired timid tent that took two Turks from the trenches of Telefarthing"

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.

Picture this:

One mass of dead bodies
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.

Soldier and Man by Arthur Olden
Lieut.-Colonel Thomas J. Todd, CJU.G., D.S.O. - 'Tom Todd,' as he was affectionately called by West Australians - was one of the outstanding personalities of the Australian Imperial Force. A New Zealander by birth, he had made the West his home for many years. He had seen service in the South African War of 1899-1901. In which he won the Distinguished Service Order and the King's and Queen's Medal. He was a splendid looking man, well over six feet in height, with a powerful resonant voice and of tremendous virility and energy, As a soldier, he impressed all with whom he came in contact as being the beau idea of a cavalry leader. His every movement and word spoke of ability and power.
Terror of Quartermasters.
With the regiment trained, equipped, and ready for embarkation, Todd commanded he original 'A' Squadron as Major. -His enthusiasm and admiration of his men new no bounds, and he was for ever expressing his opinion in characteristic, forceful language as to their capabilities when the time should arrive for them to receive their baptism of fire. To them, he believed that nothing was impossible, nothing they could not attempt. Taking to himself Napoleon's dictum that an 'army marches on its stomach,' from the very outset, he  applied this rule strenuously in ensuring adequate supplies of rations for his men and forage for his horses. On the transport in Egypt, Gallipoli, Sinai, Palestine, and indeed, wherever he went, his name became known as the terror of quartermasters and the people of the Army Service Corps, and many were the stories of his vehemence when rations were undelivered or overdue. Going up to Gallipoli in May 1915 with the 10th Light Horse Regiment dismounted and equipped as infantryman, the horses laving been left behind in Egypt, Todd soon brought his resource arid initiative to bear on the varied phases of the trench warfare and construction of those days. Perhaps his best effort was the part he played in the construction of a communication road from the Ari Burhu beach to the top of Walker's Ridge. 'Todd's Road' it was called, and the amount of work and energy expended on carving 'this road up and along the side of ' that Gallipoli cliff was colossal. The campaign of Sinai Desert soon afforded the High Command the opportunity of trying out Todd's organising ability. The hot summer of 1916 was in full blast and found the 10th Regiment, along with the other units of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade holding portion of a line of trench systems which comprised the outer defences of the Suez Canal and situated about ten miles east of the Canal. About 40 miles east-south-east of this position, near the head of the Wadi Mukbshieb, was a series of wonderful Roman rock-strewn cisterns in which a huge body of fresh water was impounded. Not far from these were a couple of shallow clay pans which also contained water fit for consumption. If our people could destroy or seriously impair the supplies of fresh water in these places, an enemy advance along this route - the identical route by which the Turks had advanced in their previous attack on the Canal in February, 1915-would be practically an impossibility, for that summer anyway. Consequently it was decided to send out a column under Todd. The raid was a complete success and was carried out with almost mathematical precision. Twenty-one hand pumps were worked at top speed continuously for nearly twenty-four hours, with relief crews of four men to each pump. At the end of that time, all that remained of half a million gallons of fresh water was a couple of thousand gallons left for any wandering Bedouin who might be around. A detachment of yoemanry had been sent out from further South along the Canal to act as a 'flank guard' to Todd's column. They were to proceed to the southernmost cistern, drain it, and be ready to retire when Todd sent word that his task was complete. Fearing lest their water supply should be exhausted before our people were ready to go they did not commence pumping until a couple of hours before the estimated time of departure, only to find, to their consternation, that the cistern opened out into a large cavern and could not possibly be emptied by their pumping plant for a considerable time. The situation became more interesting by an aerial report to the effect that the Turks were concentrating at Jif-Jaffa; not many miles away. 
As it was not part of the scheme to stay and be attacked by probably over whelming numbers, it became necessary for Todd to act promptly. With about a squadron of men and twelve pumps; he immediately proceeded to the spot. Arrived at the cistern, and found that about 19,000 gallons remained to be pumped out and our yeomanry friends struggling frantically to do it with one pump. In no very pleasant mood .he called out 
'What yeomanry are you?'
'Middlesex,' came the reply.
'And a d— d good name too.' he cried. 'You're no sex at all. Out of the way.'
The second Gaza battle witnessed the hardest hit the 10th Regiment had received since Gallipoli. In the battle Todd sustained the wound which was to be the ultimate cause of his death. But he was destined to render much brilliant service to his country for upwards of twelve months longer before he finally succumbed. He was back in command of his regiment about the time Allenby was ready to roll up the Beer..... flank, smash the Gaza defences to tatters and hand Jerusalem to the Allied cause as a Christmas present. To the 10th Regiment fell the singular honour of representing Australia in the final capture of the Holy City. It was indeed a proud day for Todd when the task of the 10th Regiment having been, completed, and on leaving. Jerusalem to rejoin its' own brigade he rode at the head of his men in a march past the Commander-in-Chief. The raid on Es Salt in May 1918, was responsible for a brilliant effort on the part of the 3rd L.H. Brigade, of which the 10th Regiment formed a unit. Es Salt -the ancient Ramoth Gilead- was stormed and taken with bayonet; but the wonderful mobility of the Turks, combined with the failure of Lawrence's much advertised Arab army to materialise, placed the whole of the cavalry in a most precarious position. To the 10th Regiment was assigned the post of honour in covering the retirement of our two cavalry divisions back to the Jordan. Already under cover of darkness, the lines of Turks, and Germans were climbing to our positions in overwhelming numbers- just as Todd received word that the last of the cavalry was clear and that his regiment might now withdraw: Todd. instead of withdrawing his' regiment towards the rear in the accepted manner, boldly retired across his front; and the regiment had a side-on view of the Turks' attacking the, just-abandoned heights in great style with bomb and bayonet. It was touch-and-go, and there was a stroke of genius in Todd's getaway. 
Herculean Task.
He went down with malaria shortly after this and his wound was also giving much trouble. He was lying in hospital in Cairo a very sick man. when word reached him of Allenby's amazing victory on the Plain of Armageddon. Begging himself free from hospital he arrived back by aeroplane in time to be with his regiment at the fall of Damascus. And it was subsequent to the capture of Damascus that he performed probably the most brilliant service of his whole career, as a soldier. During the three or four weeks which followed, his administrative and organising genius reached its zenith. Sick though he was, he pulled himself together to make a supreme effort. His orders were simple enough. He was to take over the organisation of a prisoners' of war camp at Kaukab, of which he was now appointed Commandant. A glance sufficed to indicate the Herculean nature of the task that lay ahead. The camp area was in an indescribably filthy and insanitary condition. Dead and dying Turks - the victims of disease, wounds and exhaustion - were lying everywhere, and no attention was being paid to them. They simply lay where they fell. The daily death rate - averaging 170 at the taking over of the camp - was, after three weeks had elapsed, reduced to nil. This result was not achieved by sitting down Micawber-like and waiting for something to turn up, and to Todd's brilliant energy a large portion may, fairly be ascribed. From then on his health failed rapidly, and he returned to hospital in Egypt. Shortly afterwards, the whole of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force was profoundly shocked to hear of his death. His genial personality, his great heart, his good-fellowship and camaraderie had made him one of the best known and best liked Australians in that, or indeed, any other theatre of war. He might, had he so desired, have risen to much higher rank in any arm of the service. He preferred instead, to remain a 10th Light Horseman from Western Australia. And West Australians will ever cherish his memory as such.


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