31 December 1915

HELLES - As the preparations for evacuating Helles progressed the ruse of silent periods was again employed to try and trick the Turks into exploring forward into No Man’s Land upon which they would burst into lethal life. Thus in the lead up to New Year’s Eve the Helles garrison deliberately allowed their fire to trickle away to a nothing. Lieutenant William Sorley-Brown of the 4th KOSB found it a long night.

Left: KOSB machine gunners refilling the belts (photo source: http://www.kosb.co.uk/apps/photos (photoid=15788381)

"The Turkish sentries kept on firing occasional shots as usual, but as the night wore on their rifles spoke at longer intervals, and towards midnight scarcely a sound disturbed the still air. One of our guns, stationed not far behind Wigan Road kept firing for short periods at long intervals. It was always the same gun that spoke, but the Turkish artillery made scarcely any effort to reply to it, and the monotonous sound it made only served to render the silence more acute. Only too ready to fall asleep on other nights when the noise of rifles and shell-fire always prevailed, I found it impossible on this particular night to let sleep steal over my eyelids, and there were many other tired soldiers near me who were in the same state. And so we lay more or less awake the whole night through. The night seemed as if it would never end. In the almost intense stillness the senses became exceptionally acute, and one had the feeling that something was going to happen. As it was, nothing happened. Unable to sleep, I lay and smoked, and several times I went out of the dug¬out into the trenches and looked around. The darkness shrouded everything and the silence of the great night had clearly cast a curious spell upon the imagination. I was looking up at the stars above me when suddenly a man lying on the firestep of the parapet said in a low voice, which almost startled me, “Do you think Johnny Turk will come over?" (Lieutenant William Sorley-Brown, 4th Bn, KOSB, 155th Brigade, 52nd Division)

W. Sorley-Brown quoted by R. R. Thompson, "The Fifty-Second (Lowland) Division" (Glasgow: Maclehose, Jackson & Co, 1923), pp.216-217.