On the 17th August we were transhipped into a small steamer and packed down below...we steamed across and arrived at Anzac Cove about midnight. We could see the rough outline of the cliffs—and hear the constant reports of isolated rifle fire, with machine gun joining in the chorus, while a deep bass note was sounded in the distance by a warship supporting the British—she would first sweep her search lights over the Turk’s position, fix it awhile on a certain spot then drop a shell on the same place as nicely as you please ...We were taken in tow by a tiny launch and crept slowly towards the beach—once a star-shell exposed us nicely but I suppose the enemy thought we were only stores or something less valuable because no shell came.
Once landed, we were marched up a formed road along the cliffs which had been taken on the day of the landing – it was hard work doing it without opposition, it must have been hell for the others.
On this special day in Australia, Anzac Day, I thought I’d write about the importance of writing bloodlines.
I’m proud to say both my grandfathers were veterans of the Gallipoli campaign, although I never met either of them. They died years before I was born.
My mother’s father, John Cameron, was a farmer and not long arrived from Scotland when war broke out. He served as an Anzac in the 6th Light Horse at Gallipoli and later in the North African desert, where he developed malaria and was at one stage given up for dead. He recovered only to contract tuberculosis; the disease eventually killed him when my mother, now in her eighties, was only two years old. He looks very gallant in his Light Horse uniform but sadly no letters remain to tell us of his experiences during the war.
My father’s father, Myles (Mick) O’Reilly, served in 8th Battalion. The words above are his, describing his arrival at Anzac Cove in August 1915. Only a few days later the 18th Battalion made an assault on Hill 60, part of the last major battle of the Gallipoli campaign. Here’s a snippet of what happened to him that day: