SERGT. A. L. DARDEL.
Extracts from a letter from Sergeant A. Louis Dardel, 13th Light Horse,
Gallipoli, son of Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Dardel, of Batesford : "I must thank
you for the splendid mail I got yester- day, while down for our swim the post- corporal came along and asked for vol- unteers to carry up the mail. Five bags of untold joy, what a sorting there was in front of headquarters' dug-out. Let-
ters, papers, parcels (some broken), with socks, mufflers, etc., sticking out. One square box was labelled: Cake; fancy cake on Gallipoli! Nearly every one got something, letters, papers or a parcel. It's great getting news from home. The tea is allowed to boil over, and the cooking burns, and the only use the fire is to us is to pro- vide a light to read by. The living here is very good, comparatively, bully beef, biscuit and tea is the founda- tion, then as extras, bacon, bread, onions, jam, milk, dried vegetables, of course not every day. The biscuits are great, and make up endless dishes. To-night we are being issued with a ration of Australian frozen mutton. That ought to cheer the boys up. We nearly always get fresh meat and are treated wonderfully well.
"We have not struck anything very
trying since we came here; just doing 48 hours at a stretch in the trenches.
I would not mind doubling the time, as I do not find it very strenuous. I met Eric last time I was in the trenches; he is well and looks fit for anything (as far as I could see under the dirt).
They complain of the dirt, but it is dry; I'm waiting for mud before I com-
plain. We always look forward to a swim when we get back from the tren- ches. We don't actually bathe under shell fire, though sometimes someone is taken unawares, as you never know when a shell will lob over the hill. One poor beggar left evidence on the pier of having been hit just before we got there yesterday. Beachy Bill (a friend of ours?) is just now amusing
himself by shelling our men down on the beach. He is 2½in. calibre, and makes a scatter, but one can hear him
coming, and so can dodge under cover. I can tell you the sound of a piece of steel the size of your hand whizzing past your head is likely to make you duck. Some very narrow squeaks hap- pen, but one gets used to them. Sergt. Tuff saw a wounded soldier being car- ried on a stretcher down a road expos- ed to shell fire. Under ordinary cir- cumstances the stretcher bearers would have gone straight on, but this time the patient, true to instinct, when he heard the shell, made one spring and came whop down in the middle of the road. If a Beachy Bill fired a shot in Melbourne, in half a second not a Gallipoli man would be seen. By and by they would emerge one by one from behind posts, out of drains, etc. It becomes instinctive to take cover from some guns. You wouldn't think it pos- sible to watch shells travelling through the air, but we saw numbers during a bombardment of Turkish trenches.
"We have had the misfortune to lose Sergt. Tuff. A Beachy Bill exploded close to him and a bullet got him on
the ankle. He was taken off to a
hospital ship. Wallace also got his ear drum injured in the trenches by shrap- nel. He had to go away from the noise. The shelling here at times is wonderful. How a man can pump shells into a position miles away with such precision as they do beats me. Haynes, one of our men, was killed last night by one of those snipers. They are a good deal of trouble, but by keeping to the saps and taking a few precau- tions they can be avoided.
"I saw an aeroplane being shelled the other night. It was very interest- ing, but the plane seemed hard to hit. The performance is being repeated at
the present moment. There is continual sniping and bomb-throw- ing going on all day and all night, but the Turks snipe mostly at night. They observe during the day and train their rifles on to the spot for use at night, and so get in an occasional shot. They are pretty good shots too, and make good practice with our periscopes. I've had several shots with a Turkish
rifle, but I like my own better. I saw a little donkey the other day at the Turkish trenches (the only living thing visible). Perhaps I should have shot it
as it was a Turkish donkey, but they are fine little beasts. The Australians captured a lot of them from the Turks, and now they carry water to our men in the trenches. About 20 of them come down the road here, and line up at the tanks to get their cans filled. While they wait their turn they play
and frisk about like young pups. One I saw the other day was simply covered with water bottles. It was a funny
looking article. They can crawl and climb anywhere. I think the thing that affected me most since I came here was one poor little donkey shot through the mouth, still plugging along with his water cans. By the appearance of
the Indian in charge, he would rather have been shot himself.
"The trenches here are just as clean as they can be made, the floors being
scraped and cleaned after each meal.
One comes across numbers of little crosses everywhere, telling of the brave
fellows who have done their bit. A little story apropos of these little crosses. One of our chaps was pass- ing some of those with another soldier,
when the latter stood stock still and burst out into a roar of laughter. When he calmed down a bit, in answer to his companion's inquiries as to whether he had completely lost his senses, he said, pointing to a cross with his name and number on: 'Why, I'm buried here.' "