Fun at Gallipoli

Old Drogheda Society

This astonishing piece was discovered in a copy of the "Drogheda Advertiser" local newspaper published on the 1st January 2016 under the heading "Fun at Gallipoli". It gives us an insight into attitudes to the conflict that are very different from what we usually find today. This article kicks off a new series of very interesting extracts from old Drogheda newspapers that will illustrate how people lived in times past.
Fun at Gallipoli

The Rev. James Gilles, of Leemahagow, c...haplain, 1-5th K.O.S.B., in a letter to his congregation from the Dardanelles, writes:

There are both comedy and tragedy in the trenches. Most of my battalion hails from the border districts, and there are many of the men who retain recollections of the Rood Fair at Dumfries. When the season of the fair come round a celebration was arranged in the trenches. But instead of the stationary and moving objects offered to marksmen in the booths at home, living targets were provided.

Along a communicating trench where Turkish troops were in the habit of passing, part of the protecting parapet was knocked down. This partially exposed the Turks moving along and when a man approached the exposed spot, dozens of rifles were trained on him, and, usually, down he went. The Turks then began running past in twos and threes, and the tragic sport got still more exciting.

Eventually some one fixed up a warning board, which was soon shot down. Then a more permanent notice was set up. Our men had now a better opportunity than ever. As the Turks stopped to read the warning, they were picked off by our marksmen. Sometimes a warning notice is worse than no notice at all. It reminds one of the post which a short-sighted man climbed to read the notice at the top, when he read “Wet Paint”.

None of the Dumfries men who were in the firing line will ever forget the Rood Fair of 1915.

One morning the firing lines was more active than usual, and a passer-by said to one of the cooks – “What’s all the firing?” “Oh,” said the cook, gravely, “there’s a war on” - and went on with his work.

One of the nullahs leads up to both British and French lines. It is amusing to see the Frenchmen fishing for frogs in the brook that runs down the nullah. They are so serious about it, and they can easily get a good bag, for frogs are numerous. The method they adopt is to kill or deaden the frogs by means of a sort of catapult. Then they string up their catch for the evening meal.

There is not much eating on the little creatures. But perhaps they taste more daintily than one would think who hasn’t tried the dish. The Frenchmen, at all events, seem to get both amusement and satisfaction out of the sport. An aeroplane may be flying over their heads, and the shrapnel, which tries to bring it down, may be bursting all round them, but they never look up. They go on with their fishing as if that were the chief end of life, as if there were no war to worry about.

Old Drogheda Society - History, Archaeology & Heritage, Millmount, Drogheda, Co. Louth, Ireland. Tel. 041-9833097

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