Topic: Robert Long

Topic type:

Elizabeth Rust came into the Tauranga City Library during the 'Threads of Memory' project to tell us about her Irish relative who was captured by the Turks at Suvla Bay. He spent several years as a Prisoner of War (POW).

Robert Long WWI photocopy 

Robert Long was born in Ireland. During World War I he served with the RAMC 16th Division (Regimental Number RAMC 42815). He was captured by the Turks at Suvla Bay. Robert spent several years as a Prisoner of War (POW).

He met several ANZAC soldiers during his years as a POW and this was, perhaps, what influenced him emigrate to New Zealand after the war.

During Tauranga City Library's 'Threads of Memory' project, Elizabeth was interviewed about Robert by librarian Stephanie Smith:

 

Stephanie Smith interviewing Elizabeth Rust (23 April 2015)

Quotes from: Battlefields Review. Issue No. 6. Article "Those men went out of our lives completely" by Patrick Gariepy

"On August 17, 1915, during the Gallipoli, campaign in the First World War, 17 members of the 32nd Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, disappeared while collecting casualties.

Only one written account from a survivor of this massacre is known to exist, that of Private Robert Long of Dublin. Just before the firing began Long's party located a man suffering from a bullet wound near the heart. His tunic had been removed and his wound dressed by another infantryman who had since left. As they were loading him on to the stretcher the firing started and somebody yelled for the men to scatter. A bullet tore through the heel of Long's boot but he was uninjured and the men tried desperately to load their casualty and return.

Long remained with the wounded man and did his best to keep him calm, but the man was restless and kept asking for water. Shortly after, the Turkish troops opened fire and the opposing British troops joined in, followed shortly after by a British warship, which began shelling what it thought were Turkish positions.

Bob Long's hastily written Will on August 17, 1915, believing death was inevitable.

The firing was so heavy that Long wrote two letters to his family describing the circumstances of his impending death, and he filled out the page for his will in the back of his paybook. He did not expect to survive this ordeal. At one point a Turkish soldier appeared suddenly above Long and the wounded man, aiming and firing at the soldiers below. Every time he spotted one he would cry, "Engelish, Engelish." Long ducked and the wounded man remained quiet, and the Turk never spotted them.

Eventually Long's friend, Valentine (Val) Flood, re-joined him and the two considered crawling back to the British lines after dark. They suddenly recalled the wounded man and, not wanting to leave him behind, they decided to stay where they were. The men hoped that their troops would make another advance that night and rescue them.

At about 4 in the afternoon the wounded man became restless and he began frantically waving his arms. The motion attracted the attention of a Turkish soldier, who moved towards the party and took them captive. Long was quite surprised by this turn of events. He had never even considered the possibility of capture, because the stories he had heard about the Turks mutilating the dead and wounded made the thought of surrendering an unwelcome option. When he heard the Turk approach he said a prayer and prepared to die.

When the Turk arrived he gestured for the wounded man to get up, but he pointed to the bandage on his chest and indicated that he could not. The Turk then left for a few minutes and returned with a big smile on his face, much to Long's surprise. He gave Long a drink from his water bottle, gestured for him to give the wounded man a drink, then sent Long and Flood away to the rear unabused. The fate of the wounded man is unknown, Private Long never recorded his name, and it will never be known whether he was taken captive or whether the smiling Turk put him out of his misery.

 Sketch from Robert (Bob) Long's diary of Suvla Bay

Read Bob's diary here (click).

Discuss This Topic

There are 0 comments in this discussion.

join this discussion

Robert Long


Year:2015
First Names:Robert
Last Name:Long
Place of Birth:Ireland
Military Service:World War I (1914-1918)