The Call From the Dardanelles [poem, 6 October 1915]

[Editor: A poem published in The Referee, 6 October 1915.]

The Call From the Dardanelles

I stood on the deck of a troopship
At the Gate of the Dardanelles,
Midst the thunder of warships’ cannon
And the bursting of giant shells.
Where men were dying in Britain’s cause,
To open the Sultan’s door,
Shrapnel, rifle, and machine gun fire
Raising a living hell on shore.

I thought of these men who were fighting
Three thousand miles from home,
Shoulder to shoulder with Australia’s sons,
The clerk and the rolling stone.
Ghurkas, Sikhs and Lancers,
From India’s sunny clime,
All had left their near and dear
For a place in the firing line.

Each one had answered the Empire’s call,
Each one doing his bit;
While thousands of men were rusting at home
Equally strong and fit.
Could they but know: Could they but see,
The soldier and the tar,
Working together as Britons should,
In the fight at Seddel Bahr.

They would throw their aprons to the girls,
Give up their games of whist,
And sing the Tipperary song
As they scrambled to enlist.
There’s Achi Baba yet to take,
And the forts around Chanak.
These positions must be won;
There must be no hanging back.

We want more men, and still more men,
Before this can be done.
Do they realise the fact?
God, will they never come!
I am only a British sailor man,
But I put it to them straight,
Enter Kitchener’s Army ere it is too late.

Ere the butt of an enemy’s rifle
Comes crashing through your door,
And the blood of innocent children
Stains the kitchen floor.
Tell them you are coming,
Tom, Dick, and Harry, too,
Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand,
To pull the Empire through.

— G. Brownell.

“The Call from the Dardanelles” is from a printed leaflet forwarded by Corporal S. G. Henderson, formerly full-back for the North Sydney Rugby Union F.C., to his mother, Mrs. James Henderson, of North Sydney, in a letter, dated August 17. Corporal Henderson had been twice wounded, and was on his third return to the trenches, but a cablegram received on Saturday states that he has died from enteric.

The Referee (Sydney, NSW), 6 October 1915, p. 16

Editor’s notes:
Achi Baba = a height of strategic importance, which dominates the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey; several unsuccessful attempts were made by the Allied forces to capture Achi Baba during the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War

Chanak = (also spelt as “Çanakkale”) a seaport on the southern coast of the Dardanelles, in Turkey; during the First World War, it was a strategic location, being situated at a narrow point in the Dardanelles strait

enteric = pertaining to, affecting, or occurring in the intestines; enteric disease, intestinal disease

F.C. = Football Club

Seddel Bahr = (also spelt as “Sedd el Bahr”) a town situated at Cape Helles, on the Gallipoli peninsula, in Turkey; it is the site of a fort (originally built in 1659) which, during the First World War, was captured by the Allies

Tipperary song = “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary”, written in 1912 by Jack Judge, a British songwriter and music hall entertainer; the song was especially popular during the First World War

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