13 November 1915

ANZAC - Charles Bean, War Correspondent, Headquarters, MEF - On 13 November Kitchener, the Secretary for War visited Anzac to see the situation for himself following the receipt of Monro's uncompromising report recommending evacuation. Charles Bean was impressed by the great man.

"Yesterday morning White gave me the tip (knows he’s perfectly safe in doing so - wouldn't breathe it to anyone) that Kitchener was probably landing here that day. It was put off till today. Today I was up Shrapnel Gully when I saw Brigadiers gathering from all quarters coming up the valley with their best red gorget patches, and the little gold curly leaf, and their belts on! Belts at Anzac! There was a meeting at 11.00, Holmes told me - to be at Walker’s Top. Did I think that Monro was coming? (I have an idea he guessed who it really was.) I went round to the beach again and found the Army staff gathering at their new H.Q. (they have just entered it and I have asked to be attached as we are losing our H.Q. on the old terrace). Went down to the beach where we found the men working as usual - no idea of anything out of the ordinary. K. didn’t arrive till the afternoon - we got word presently that it would be 1.15. At about 1.30 a destroyer arrived (from Helles, I think) and off he came, with a staff of about ten, including a Frenchman - and little Birdwood, in a grey woollen jacket, by his side. The tall man walked up the pier (with the brilliant red band on his staff cap towering over everyone else) and shook hands with Godley, White, Howse, and the others. He had scarcely reached the end of the pier when the men tumbled to it - and down they came to the edge of the beach and on to the beach itself. Men began to run from the dugouts above, hopping over the intermediate scrub and the holes and heaps of relics of old dugouts - someone [sic] of the men on the beach called for a cheer and the sound of the cheering brought every Australian on the hill side out of his burrow and scuttling down like rabbits. The tall red cap was rapidly closed in amongst them - but they kept a path and as the red cheeks turned and spoke to one man and another, they cheered him - they, the soldiers - no officers leading off or anything of that sort, It was a purely soldiers’ welcome. He said to them, ‘The King asked me to tell you how splendidly he thinks you have done - you have done splendidly, better, even, than I thought you would.' The men would not have cheered many men - they would never have cheered Ian Hamilton like it, for all his kindness and gentle manners. K, is the sort of man every Australian admires - not a polished man but a determined one, an uncompromising worker. These men honestly admire him far more than the British do; the British really admire a man who has more display about him, but these men honestly and quite sincerely like the absence of display - they have thought it all out for themselves, and when he comes along nothing will prevent them from each paying their honest tribute of admiration. K. received a welcome which I doubt whether he knows the value. There are not many men that Australians would honour in that way. He pushed straight up on Walker’s Ridge, with Sir John Maxwell and General Birdwood, Owen, White, Colonel Howse and so on. I could see the party climbing the awfully steep path, the little grey uniforms always beside the tall red hat band - and I was astonished to see that they didn’t stop for a breather. Poor old Maxwell, I believe, was blowing like a grampus and several of the Anzac people were a bit puffed. But within ten minutes the little figures could be seen right away up on top of the bare cliff. The Brigadiers of the 1st Division and Legge’s Division were there to meet him - he spoke to them at once without stopping for breath - ‘Oh yes, I met you in Australia, didn’t?` and so on. He really was in wonderfully good condition, which gives the lie to the talk about his self indulgence. After a long sea voyage a self indulgent liver could not have climbed that hill at all without danger of actual heart failure. The men noticed that he seemed older than his pictures - of course a man always does. And his red cheeks - brilliant red and full, though his girth is spare - brought one or two comments. 'Looks as if ’e did himself well, doesn't he?’ I heard one say, ‘Don’t blame him if he did!' was the answer. `No, nor I either!’ - and so on. ‘He lives amongst the beer, don’t ’e?' said one man - but of course K. like the King and most British leading men has not touched beer, wine or spirits since the beginning of the war. He looked at the position from the observation station up there - saw Lone Pine, and showed a quick grasp of the details of the country. He went through the trenches, (held by the newest Brigade, the 7th - where, unfortunately, every man he spoke to had only been here a few weeks) went through the firing line to Bully Beef Sap, which is not by any means a safe place. His tall red cap going along awkward corners of the trenches was dangerously obvious and our staff had its heart in its mouth - indeed, they didn't breathe freely till they got K. off the beach and away from the crowd there, which might possibly have brought a Turkish shell if seen from Sniper’s Ridge. Birdwood and White were almost too nervous to speak, I am told - they were worrying about this all the time. The men in the trenches - not more than 20 yards away from the Turks in some places, could scarcely be restrained from cheering. He went down Rest Gully to 2nd Division, and there saw the YMCA canteen - a splendid Sydney concern, which against great difficulties does manage to do something for the men here and at Imbros. “Hello! - YMCA!’ he said. Then, turning to a man, “What can you get in there?’ he asked. ‘Nuts!,’ said the man promptly. `Oh yes, but I mean, generally - what have they got in there?’ 'Nothing!,` said the man. Thank goodness these Australians generally keep their heads. The need of a canteen was one of the things we wanted impressed on him. K, left the beach at 3.30 or 3.15 - two hours, or at most, 2½ hours after landing, In that time he had seen almost every important officer and taken a good grasp of the position."

SOURCE:
C. E. W. Bean quoted by K. Fewster, Gallipoli Correspondent: The Frontline Diary of C. E. W. Bean (Sydney: George Allen & Unwin, 1983), pp.225-229.