03/02/2014

Penrith RSL Club

Regarding these two particular pests, my attitude in the past has been characterised by the utmost forbearance; I tolerated them and looked upon them as harmless and possibly of some of the usefulness to the community. The Gallipoli specimens, however, have changed my state of “benevolent neutrality” into one of the most deadly warfare. No “Hymn of Hate” has yet been composed which would give expression to the hatred which would give expression to the hatred which has possessed me. Do you but go into the trenches in the endeavour to perform your duty to your country, and the flies immediately try to dissuade you by getting into your eyes, ears, nose and mouth. Nothing will drive them away; they delight in this; they are entirely without pity. Retire to your dug-out in the hope of escaping their attentions, and they are sure to follow you. Smoke till you all but asphyxiate yourself, and you find them as active as ever.

Nothing that human ingenuity can devise will cause them to retreat; they defy our puny efforts. You may imitate the Kaiser and ”strafe” them for all you are
worth, but it is only waste of breath; they glory in this and come back all the more. What we frequently distrust in the way of tucker holds no terror for the Gallipoli flies; they delight in taking risks if only to impress us with their fearlessness. Stepping boldly on the edge of a syrupcovered biscuit, they immediately get their feet entangled; but they will not retreat, that would be against all their traditions. Instead, they will struggle their way towards the centre, where they gladly give up the contest and die. They are born conquerors. I doff my hat to them in spite of my hate. With the setting sun the flies retire, but operations are simply handed over to their allies, the fleas; and no worthier ally could be found than those pilgrims of the night. You might feel beat to the world, but
there is no rest for you; as soon as you lie down to enjoy a well-earned rest the attack commences. Advancing in open or closed formation, according to circumstances, the enemy attacks on every flank with fixed bayonets, in the handling of which units are experts. If driven off, they come again in still
greater numbers; they appear to have unlimited reserves of reinforcements which can be mobilised on the shortest notice.

Their organisation is perfect. Counter-attacks in the dark are all in the favour of the enemy, and morning, finds that they have withdrawn their forces
to advantageous cover in the blankets, from which it is impossible to dislodge them. Keating’s Powder is of no avail against the Gallipoli fleas; it requires a still
higher explosive to have any effect. The honours have so far fallen to the enemy. Personally, I would be inclined to discuss terms of peace, but I doubt not; he is too depraved to accept my advances.

 

Written by A. Carruthers,
3rd Australian Field Ambulance, WWI.
Great Grandfather of Penrith RSL Director &
Treasurer of the City of Penrith RSL sub-Branch,
Bernie Atkinson.