Monday 25 April 2016

Great War Diary - Part 4

Dr John Corbin lived on the Gallipoli battlefield for four months, all the while recording his experiences in his diary. He also took photographs - since the previous article was posted we have discovered that one of the photos used in that article ('Clearing station 1 ACCS on the beach at Anzac Cove') was taken by him! A collection of John Corbin's photos is held by the Australian War Memorial. All the Gallipoli photos below were taken by him.
Views of Anzac Cove
Wednesday 5th May:

Plenty of sick in, just a few wounded. One man shot through the neck, jaw broken, facial bleeding. Sewed it up, stopped haemorrhage and sent on board.

I sent off my cable to Margaret yesterday, but found that letters were censored here and at HQ and that it would be held up for two weeks...farcical. They let the world know through the press what they have done and make it impossible for us to write to our people.

Thursday 6th May:

There will be an epidemic without doubt if we are here for long. Cholera, typhus and rabies are prevalent, a nice trio if you met them.

The battery at Gaba Tepe opened on the beach this afternoon and rained shrapnel on us...simply sang over us, through us and into us. Several of our men were hit. I got a glancing shot on my knee which did no harm. Three were killed in front of us.

Went to see Col.Giblin. He is off to Alexandria, having a temperature. I fell into the sea between two boats stepping from one to the other and felt pretty cold by the time I got to shore.
1 ACCS and dugouts above

Friday 7th May:

This battery at Gaba Tepe is the devil, they cannot place it out of action. We are at last to have a shrapnel proof shelter built. It is absurd that wounded men, doctors and dressers should be exposed to death when a few hours work would make it comparatively safe. Of course the engineers have been very busy and most of the timber and bags have been needed to protect men in the firing line.

Friday 14th, Saturday 15th May:
General Birdwood
Up and a swim, which certainly bucks one up greatly.

General Birdwood got a scratch on top of his scalp this evening. I shaved and dressed it. If it had been two inches lower it would have been nasty.

General Bridges
A hurried message that General Bridges had a wound of his artery. When he arrived found him greatly shocked but not much haemorrhage. A plugging had been put in and bandage applied. Kept him warm and gave brandy and comfort and sent him off to the Gascon...lucky not to be worse.

[But it was worse. Bridges' wound was infected, which Dr Corbin could not have known and for which antibiotics did not exist yet anyway. General Bridges died on the hospital ship Gascon three days later. He is the only known soldier killed in World War I to be returned and buried in Australia.]

Tuesday 18th, Wednesday 19th May:

On duty 8pm, went to bed 1am. Got up at 3am to the sound of continuous fierce rifle fire. Wounded came pouring in. Had 130 cases from 6am to 10am. The cannonade was terrific. High explosive shells bursting everywhere. One huge shell whistled by just 20 yards from me, the force of the explosion nearly knocked me over. We hear there were 3 separate [Turkish] attacks and all repulsed. The wounded tell us that the slaughter of the Turks is appalling.
Turkish negotiator at Anzac 22/5/15

Thursday 20th May:

All the force were ordered to stand to arms as Turks were advancing under white flag. There was doubt whether it was a ruse, or demand for armistice or definitely surrender. Several Turks have surrendered during the day, some wounded and some not.

Monday 24th May:

Went to the lines to see the dead Turks buried during the armistice. Thousands of them just shovelled into pits and covered up. A depressing sight for their men.

[Photos - Australian War Memorial]

More to come from John Corbin's Gallipoli diary.