In April 1916 the St Andrew’s, Oxshott, parish magazine published Archibald George Ritchie’s account of his experiences at the evacuations of Anzac Cove and Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula.
I was at the evacuation of Anzac getting soldiers off the beach on trawlers. There were few casualties, but it was pretty hot at times, and while we were waiting for the last batch old ‘Beachy Bill’* gave us rather a warm time. It was a splendid sight after we got away when the whole countryside broke into one mass of flame. Everything had been covered with oil and exploded. On the 28th December I got another job as crew of a motor lighter for the evacuation of Cape Helles. It was a bit harder than the one at Anzac because we were always under shell fire. All went well with us until the night before the last, when we were loading up with guns and gun carriages. The Turkish gunners found us out and put a couple of rounds into us. The first made a hole under the fore part, and sprung our plates, and we started sinking, but as luck would have it we plugged the hole up and were thinking of shoving off when we got another one which killed a couple of soldiers and wounded one of the crew. The last night was the worst. They shelled the beach, and the sea was very rough – but they managed to get everybody off safely. The finest sight was when our people blew the magazine up – but it must have been very uncomfortable for those who were anywhere near it. Myself I thought that Achi Baba had fallen over and landed on the beach!
* ‘Beachy Bill’ was the nickname given to the Turkish battery, which was said to have caused over 1,000 deaths at Anzac Cove.
St Andrew’s, Oxshott, Parish Magazines, April 1916, SHC Ref. 8909/8/1/4.
‘Anzac Timeline: Events of the Gallipoli Campaign – May 1915’, Gallipoli and the Anzacs, http://www.gallipoli.gov.au/anzac-timeline/events-of-the-gallipoli-campaign/may-1915.php.