Local Identities

Roy Charman

Transcription of a letter written to Guy Gibney in Harvey from a mate, Roy Charman, at Gallipoli. Roy (Laurence Ray Brookdale) Charman was awarded a Military Medal.

No. 853 Coy D Batt 11th
Brigade 3rd, Division 1st
Base Details
21/ 8/ [19]15

Dear Guy,

Just a line at last to let you know I am back at Zeitoun again in base details, which means I am liable to be sent back to the front any time. My wounds have just about healed up, they weren’t very serious anyway. Guy old chap you’re safe where you are, don’t come here it’s just a toss up with you when you have to charge the trench in front of you, as to whether you will get there alive or not. I’ve done it twice now and so long as I don’t get hit I’d just as soon be there as anywhere, but you realize how narrow your chance is when the chaps in front and on each side of you are dropping down like flies and still you tear on over them and barb wire galore, and at last drop down, under the earth thrown out of the Turk trench where you have a duel with the Turks at one yard range, till you get them all, when you then jump into the trench and hold it till reinforcements come, heaven help you if you get badly wounded in between the two trenches, for the shrapnel cuts you up, as you can’t be rescued before night, and even then the fire may be too fierce to attempt a rescue. In daylight it’s almost certain death to the rescuers.

Well I’ve lessened the Turkish army by 16 men. I got into a lot of them rather accidentally and opened out with above result, the poor devils must have been terror stricken at the last, they had to pass a narrow gap in their trench, once through that and they were safe, but I had a heap of their dead piled up in the gap and they had to get over them to get past with the result that the pile got larger and they had to drag them away to get past at all in the end, they tried hard to locate me, which shouldn’t have been hard considering I was lying in full view about 10 yards off and my rifle giving forth a sheet of flame in the moonlight every time I fired. I got complimented for that little lot by our DC. After that I was a sniper for awhile, it’s good fun. I have an observer with a large telescope and when he sees a Turk looking through a loop hole, I try and put a bullet through that hole, and if I do that’s one more Turk less, they come out of their trench and make loopholes in some bushes perhaps only 60 yards in front of us and are so well hidden that they may be sniping at us for ten days or more, when the observer who in all the time searching every inch of the ground in front may see a slight movement or perhaps an empty cartridge accidentally fly out of the bush, then I put a shot or two there, then he knows he’s located and he looks around till he finds where I am and then it’s a duel to the death, sometimes they get our snipers but we more often get them, one we found about I00 yards in front of us the other day in a dugout in the middle of some bushes gave us some sport, we fought for two hours before I silenced him, I did not see him at any time or he me, but we both knew where each other was, he used to get so hot on my loophole that I used to close up for a quarter of an hour to let him think he’d got me, and I’d suddenly open out on him again, to his disgust I should think, however the shooting from the bush ceased suddenly in the middle of a hot bout and has been silent since.

Egypt has been pretty hot since I got back but ought to soon be getting cooler. We haven’t been able to get any pay this time and it’s not much fun here without money, perhaps they may give us some next week. I hope so. I saw Charlie Anthony and Arthur Keys just a few days before the last rumpus. I don’t know if they got through it alright. I wish I was going to a ball tonight in Harvey. I envy you all flying round having a good time, perhaps I may be skidding round there some day, but you are alive one day and dead the next at the Dardanelles. Remember me to Iris and others.

Well goodbye for the present.
From Roy

With kind permission of Mrs Violet Pugh.