The night before Gallipoli

As part of their studies on the First World War, Year 6 students from Holy Cross Primary School, Kincumber, completed a writing task imagining they were an Australian soldier anchored off the shores of Gallipoli the night before the landing. Here are nine of their stories.

1.

I peer through the darkness towards the shore’s outline and it feels like it is thirstily staring back at me, daring me with its evil eye to set foot on its beach. The idea of dying brings a sharp pang to my gut and makes me feel uneasy. I huddle to the side of the boat and I can’t keep my family from crossing my mind, that it may have been my last goodbye. The tension is building inside of me and my stomach churns, so I decide to pray; pray for hope, pray for courage and pray for safety among my loved ones.

As I look across the boat I see my fellow troop mates, their eyes tired and bloodshot from lack of sleep, but I don’t see defeat in their eyes yet, and I don’t think I ever will.

2.

I’m on a one way trip to hell. This boat ride started off as an adventure and now has gone downhill. What seemed like a good idea back at the farm has now turned into regret. The only support I’ve got is my mates, my photograph of my family and my blanket of courage. I regret coming here now because of the terrible homesickness I feel on the inside. I dearly miss the twinkle of light in my mother’s eyes and the comfort of my brothers who didn’t come. I can tell everyone else feels homesick just by looking at them. We are all racked with nerves as we inch closer and prepare for Johnny Turk’s attack. But there is one thing for sure… I will never let my mates down.

3.

As I lay in the hull of the boat, my attention turns to outside. I roll over and witness the moon shimmering over us, watching our every move. My mind drifts to family, as the moon reminds me of my mother, watching over me. I wonder, if this is my last moon, what will my family be feeling. I feel guilty – as if I have left them out to dry, isolated, with nowhere to go. But I have a job to do; to protect our country, to never back down, to fight to the last breath. I have made a solemn oath to never leave a mate behind, no matter how bad the situation, doing Australia proud. I am terrified – we all are – but right now we’re safe; we’re in the calm before the storm.

4.

As the sun sets into the sea I wonder if I will ever see it set again. I am covered in darkness and a blanket of fear as the wind howls. I am terrified, knowing that tomorrow could possibly be the worst day of my life. I am scared but I must be brave. I will do this for my country. I’ll do this for my mates. But what if I die here, what if I die here and no one knows? And my family; my brother and sisters what will they think? My mum and my dad how could they cope without me? I look at all of my mates. Will they be with me tomorrow, will any of my mates survive this catastrophe? The cliff face is mocking me, daring me to show Johnny Turk what I’m made of. I am ready, ready to make my country proud… but the night is still young.

5.

Here we wait, apprehensive but excited, waiting for our turn in the Great War. I can see the look on my mate’s faces of horror, misery and despair. Our rifles are at the ready, fingers on triggers. My thoughts return to happier days with my dad teaching me all his knowledge of the world. This was meant to be an adventure to experience the world first-hand but ended in hell. I look into my mate’s eyes full of dread and trepidation. We have one hour of peace until chaos erupts. I make a final oath to never let up, to make my country proud.    

6.

My teeth chatter my tummy churns; my tears carve a wet path down my face. I know that when the dawn sun rises we will go, go into that hell hole where the cliffs tower over us, mocking our fear. We all know Jonny Turk lurks up there waiting to shoot. I am infuriated with the Poms. Why would they send us into a death trap, like lambs to the slaughter? What seemed like such a grand adventure on the farm is now my worst nightmare. The idea of not seeing another starry night like this makes me cringe. I might never see my family again or feel their loving embrace. But I will not let my mates down If they fall I will carry them; if they die, I will die with them. I look at their faces; blood-shot eyes filled with fear yet determined to do their bit. We are young men, from a young country and we are determined to do it proud.

7.

The night is dragging, as I sit in this boat, agonising over my plans. Skittish minutes tick by as I rage at the Poms asinine decision to invade this hell hole. They’re ready for us,, ready for the boats to hit the shore. My thoughts turn to home. I’ll come home, I promise. I see their faces; my seven year old sister keeps asking where I am. A bucket of tears carve a pathway down my face.

Johnny Turk has all the advantages; anything could happen.

No matter how petrified I am I won’t let my country down, nor my mates.

The night before Gallipolli                                                                                                                                                            

8.

Dear Diary

There are still 6 hours till dawn. I am more terrified and nervous about letting my Australian country down than of dying. Will this be my last night on earth? My stomach is turning. I feel so sick. I’m home sick and am now regretting joining the army, But I will never stop or let down my mates. I need to show bravery, respect and courage and if we want to pull this off we definitely need team work.

The boat is rocking; I 'm trying my best to get some sleep. I am getting more nervous as we get closer and closer to Anzac Cove. My mates are asleep but I know they are determined and ready; as am I.

9.

It’s five hours until we get there and I can already see the horror in my mind.  I can feel the moon mocking me as we head towards my mind’s nightmare. A wind of regret chills my blood.  My mates and I are terrified at what lies ahead. We are all scared but we are determined to do the job we came here to do.  I am not going to let my mates down tomorrow, or my family, or my country.  In the morning I venture into hell with my mates.  I will stand like a true Aussie and won’t back down.