12 September 1915

HELLES - Lieutenant Joseph Vassal, Medical Officer, 56th Regiment. Brigade Coloniale, 1st Division, CEO - The first signs of winter had come and already the French were preparing with the construction of winter shelters, high above Morto Bay.

Photograph: A modern day view from the French cemetery, overlooking the Turkish memorial and Morto Bay.

"Here it is still quiet, a prodigious extraordinary quiet which makes us anxious in the absolute penury of news. Yesterday there were hardly two or three shells from the Asiatic coast. Unfortunately one fell right in the hut of our head doctor of the divisional stretcher-bearers. It isn’t far from here. The doctor was not killed but seriously wounded.

We hear the Turks only dispose of some 1000 shells per day. They keep them for the northern front (Suvla). During the last fortnight clouds have gathered thicker and thicker over this Gallipoli sky. Rain is threatening. What will become of us? We shall be able to sail boats in the trenches!

I spent the morning going round the trenches. It is 11.30. I am going to lunch with a friend at Peret’s Post. It rained last night. The dust was laid, but it is queer to feel the approach of the bad season of winter and of the cold. The pure sky of the Chersonese is now a wicked grey, which doesn’t become in at all."

J. Vassal, Uncensored Letters from the Dardanelles (London: William Heinemann, 1916), p.188