Saturday, 25 April 2009


When I was groweing up back in Scotland, I recall being set a school assignment where we had to write a ballad on a topic of our choice. Most of the other students wrote about a birthday part or Christmas, but, being me, I wrote about the Gallipoli landings.

I don't think I actually knew what ANZAC stood for, or why they were fighting in Turkey. For historical detail, I relied on a big compendium called 'The World's Greatest Mistakes,' though I would emphasize that the Churchill quote in the first stanza is nearly authentic - he really did plot how to "slit the Turk's soft underbelly."

Most of the ballad is lost to the world. I can remember three verses of about a dozen. The whole botched invasion was recounted from beginning to end, and I even managed to include death tolls in the final stanza.

Here's what I remember:
On the 25th of April it happened,
Churchill gave out the command:
"Slit the Turk's soft underbelly,
And sweep them from the sand!

"We must get through to Russia!
We'll take the Black Sea way.
The Germans won't expect it,
And we'll free France in a day."
Of the subsequent verses, I can only remember this:
So the ANZAC boys dug trenches,
With holes the beach was filled,
And in these pits they cowered,
And waited to be killed.

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I am still here.

 I am still here.  I haven't gone away.  I'm just trying to shame you all into better behaviour through my disapproving silence.