Sunday, June 6, 2010

Dardanelles, 29 June 1915 (Gallipoli)

2nd Canty Regt
Canty Infantry Batallion
NZ Expedy Force
29th June 1915

Dear Father,
I suppose there is not much that I can write that will pass the censor's hands but I have been lucky enough to acquire a piece of paper and envelope and might as well use them.
We are now down in what is known as "Rest Gully" and we are supposed to be having a spell after eight days in the trenches. In reality we look forward to going back to the trenches for a spell as we are no sooner down here than they have us on some fatigue work or another, at present it is road making.
However, our officers do all they can for us and with it all we are not badly treated. The land we occupy here consists for the most part of deep narrow gulleys whose shingly and almost precipitous sides are covered for the most part with a prickly shrub not unlike a small holly. We live here in bivys (bivouacs) dug into the side of the hill: two or three men to each bivy. The enemy have been paying a little too much attention to our gully lately and a good bit of spare time has been put in deepening bivys. We thought it wise to vacate the one we were in altogether and have just finished digging another in what we hope will prove a more secluded spot.
We are fairly wise in the ways of bullets and shrapnel and have a rough idea when we are safe from them but bombs have an uncanny way of dropping in apparently from nowhere. The correct thing to do is to throw an overcoat over them and then lie down or get round a corner somewhere if there is time. Last Wednesday when we were in the [censored] a bomb landed between the chap on my left and myself. I dived for the corner but was not quite quick enough and got a piece in the back of my head. It pulled up against the bone and inflicted only a slight wound which does not prevent me from carrying on. There is some consolation in having a thick head after all.
Your letter of the 4th May arrrived last week it is the first I have recieved since leaving NZ. I saw the photos of the Otago teachers in the witness and noticed that you did not have flannels on like the rest. It is a good thing your influenza did not prove serious.
In common with the other N.C.O's of the Fourth's I revert to the ranks as from the date we joined the main force.
Trusting you are all in good health. With kindest regards to all, your affectionate son,

C. Cribb.**

*Do you ever wonder what censoring actually looks like? Surprisingly low-tech. The offending parts were scribbled out with a black pencil (see below- click the photo to enlarge).

** There is a page on about C. Cribb, the person who censored this letter, here. There are also some details about his fate in the The Auckland Weekly News, August, 1915. The relevant parts are as follows:

CRIBB, Major C W E, who has been wounded, was second in command of the 13th North Canterbury and Westland, Company. When Major David Grant was killed in action on April 25 Captain Cribb was promoted to the rank of major and given that officer’s command, the 2nd South Canterbury Infantry Co. Major Cribb served in the South African war, for which he holds the Queen’s Medal with four clasps and the King’s Medal with two clasps. At the time of the outbreak of the war he was in the Postal Dept at Greymouth. [AWN 19.08.1915] P.21

CRIBB, Major C W E, Canterbury Infantry, who has died of wounds, was a Greymouth resident and left exactly 12 months ago in command of the first West Coast contingent, which he helped to mobilize. He had seen service in the Boer war and had spent his lifetime in the defence forces and held two long service medals. Altogether he was over 25 years in the NZ forces. He was a senior mail clerk at Greymouth, and was a native of Blenheim. He was 44 yrs of age. [AWN 19.08.1915] P.21

[Although Max didn't go into his activities over the past few weeks, there is some information about what the New Zealand Infantry and Canterbury Regiment were up to here.]

1 comment:

  1. Never did think about what censoring looks like. Did the trick didn't it. Nice to see some details about Major Cribb. You would think it would be a fairly safe job. Sadly no.