The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
"'Eaps of Earf."
We had watered our camels down at the Wady, right alongside mysterious old, cone-shaped Tel el Jemmi; barracked them for the one hour's rest and spell laid down in Brigade orders X.Z. 241 A.; "To allow for the proper assimilation of water"...... and then had curled up amongst them to make the best of a bad job. My mate (late of the London Roughs, ex Covent Garden Market, and now a good man with camels), always wide-awake to possible piastres, is sizing up the scenery. I am drowsy after the long, hot ride, but try to give him my attention.
"Get yer eye full of all 'vese 'ere 'eaps of earf rhand old 'Jimmy'. Ever spotted 'em? Wot I s'y is, 'corse I dont s'y for cert'in, these 'eaps is the grives of some of them old Crusyders they talks abaht............." My mate's voice tails off into space.
I struggle to follow him, and endeavour to concentrate my gaze on Tel el Jemmi—''Jimmy" of affectionate memory. But........ surely there's something different about old "Jimmy". His sides are smoother and more free from grass, and his slopes more mathemactically true than formerly. That wooded structure with the cross slits is also new, and surely that flag drooping on a staff at its summit is not the Red Cross, though like enough to it. Nor does it end at this. The tents on both sides of the Wady alter in shape, and instead of the everyday limbers and transport and ambulance wagons, I can now see nothing but tents, horses and a few camels. Even the men at work on the mound seem to change in appearence. Several men pass close to us, and I notice their dress is that of a long dead age. I drink in the whole scene in sheer amazement.
Some distance west of the camp there is a squad of men with bows, shooting at a target. Patrolling round the camp, I notice a company of mounted men, and, as they approach, I observe their leader's equipment: the round cylindrical helmet with the plume over its fiat top, the once gorgeous surtout showing indecipherable traces of embroidered arms, the steel breastplate over the linked mail collar and shirt, the plaited gauntlets and shoes, heavy triangular shield, the cross-handled double-edged sword, and the plaited armour on his horse's head, breast and loins. All serve to tell me that I am dreaming, and yet I know that I am fully concious.
Suddenly, from the top of the mound sounds a trumpeted alarm, and at once men come tumbling out of the tents hastily donning gear, and from end to end of the camp come shouts of "Bows and bills! Bows and bills! The Turk! The Turk!", and then within a minute, from out of the slight haze lying to the north and west, comes, slowly at first and then at headlong pace, a crescent-shaped line of mounted Saracens. And to meet them there are only the patrol company and the drill squad of bowmen. Without a moment's hesitation, the plumed leader of the mounted company charges, with chivalrous self-sacrifice, for the thickest and middle part of the oncoming line, and he and his men meet the Turks with a crash while they are still half a mile from the camp. There is a fierce swirl and distant shouts reach our ears. A momentary pause in the advance, and then the line comes on once more, leaving a mass of dead and dying behind. Few of the little company have won through, though plenty of riderless horses are galloping away behind the advancing line.
Close to me I notice the plumed knight, who had so gallantly lead the first attack, being relieved of his arm our. He staggers away towards the Wady to quench his thirst and bathe his wounds. He passes a huge Turk lying wounded on the track. The fellow rises to his knee and strings an arrow to his bow. I shout to warn the knight, but my warning comes too late and the arrow drives deep into his shoulder. The force of the blow sends him reeling towards me, and I try to rise to save his fall. Before I can do so, he sinks down with his arms strecthed out across me. He clutches me, struggling to rise to his knees and...............
My mate (formerly of the London Roughs, and now a good man with camels) is saying: "'Ere Jim, yer ain't asleep, are yer? Blimey! d'yer think I'm talkin' ter me self or wot? Wot I s'y is, nex' time I comes dahn 'ere I'm goin' ter do the tunnel-corps act, wiv a spide, on one of vese 'ere 'eaps of earf, jes ter see wevver 'vese 'ere old Crusyder coves useter be planted wiv their p'y in their tin pockits. A bloke u'd be real stiff if he didn't get a few akkers aht of it.!"