Topic: Tauranga and Districts WW100 Diary Competition: Abby Lane

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Abby Lane's entry in the Tauranga and Districts WW100 Diary Competition (2015). Abby is from Tauranga Intermediate School. She has written her diary from a solider named W. J. Whitham.

Diary - HC - Abby Lane - 29 April 191529 April 1915

I can hardly write for the horrors I have encountered. I am so tired I cannot think straight. My battalion has fought continuously, and our reward? Last night we were granted leave from our current post to rest. Rest! Bullets whizzed overhead and Turkish shells exploded a few metres clear of us. Our only protection was the overhang the cliff provided. I lay slumped against it, gazing longingly out to sea. Our fleets retired relentlessly back to our previous positions. There is no "rest." We cannot go back; no one would dare mention such a dishonourable word as retreat.

30 April 1915

Luxuries don't exist here, and the privilege of shelter is ever so appreciated. The ground is inpenetrable, which makes the job of digging trenches strenuous. The most efficient way of going about it is to fill empty sandbags with the remaining dirt, then stack them in front of the trench, providing our parapet. Stacking is a treacherous job, as it means one is an instant target to the Turks, who are lined up ready to shoot any man who raises his head an inch too high.

1 May 1915

A week or so ago we were issued oru first periscope. The periscope allows our frontline observers to monitor the enemy trenches in relative safety. I say "relative" because the Turks target the periscopes, and observers risk the danger of glass fragments becoming imbedded in their scalp - or worse, their eyes and face!

2 May 1915

I was on duty that afternoon when a shout rang out from no man's land. A Turk, carrying a red and white flag commenced towards our trench. An officer ordered a cease fire, then raised a periscope to take a look. Every periscope was doing likewise and no-one was talking; it was slightly disturbing. I was dying to see for myself but dared not raise my head over the top of the parapet. One of our officers rose to meet and discuss with the enemy.

3 May 1915

Another defenceless Turkish officer visited our lines yesterday, as a result of the parley on Sunday. Following further arbitration, a truce has been commenced. Soldiers from either side are eligible to bury the bodies of their fellows without getting shot at. You see, my cobbers started passing out, due to the horrendous stench the bloated, fly-covered bodies produced. Officers Smith and Hampton were all too euphoric for this decision to be carried through, as it gives us a chance to have a good look at the enemy trenches.

4 May 1915

I, like every other New Zealander along the front lines this morning, shot, killed or maimed dozens of impotent Turks. I shot until the barrel of my gun became so blistering to touch. I know it was a kill, or get killed situation, but, in hindsight, I take no pride in my actions and am struggling profusely to forgive myself. I prayed for the dead men's souls and for my own, twisted and tormented.

5 May 1915

We have been given orders to create a demonstration later on tonight. One might say it was more of a diversion. To hell with that.

Diary - HC - Abby Lane - Cover

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Tauranga and Districts WW100 Diary Competition: Abby Lane