Sign up to our monthly newsletter

Please confirm that you are happy to hear from The Church of Scotland:

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit the Privacy Policy on our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Home  >  Features  >  Looking Back: A Chaplain at the Dardanelles

Looking Back

Looking back to July 1915

A Chaplain At the Dardanelles

THE Rev. D. A. Cameron Reid, writing from the Dardanelles, says: -

“My first Sunday here we landed, and soon after came under fire, which went on, rifles and shrapnels, for fourteen hours without stopping. The chaplain’s place is in the rear; but, as there was no rear in our action to speak of, I was more or less under fire all the time. However, I was not touched, although our losses were very great. I did my best to help the wounded, and put in a number of first dressings, some on very ghastly wounds.

“The censorship forbids a history of the campaign; but you may imagine how severe it has been when I tell you that of 8 officers at my table on board ship coming here I am the only one left: 5 are killed and 2 severely wounded. A chaplain’s work is not of the usual type and formal services are impossible. To-day my R. C. brother and myself had a short service very near the Front. He read a lesson and I gave a prayer. That was all, but it was one of the best services I have ever known. As I went up to our trenches I held three burial services, but many of our dead are in the firing line and we cannot go out to bury them.

“I have been living for ten days in a ‘dug-out,’ a shallow grave with about a foot of head shelter, and until two days ago I had only a stout great-coat to cover me. The days are very hot and the nights bitterly cold, but I never felt more fit. There is a wonderful constellation just opposite me as I go to bed, one I have never seen before. It forms a perfect cross, and I murmur each night, ‘Hold Thou Thy Cross before my closing eyes,’ as I listen to the fierce firing of rifles and guns and naval heavy pieces that has gone on early every night. The other night I saw two bright flashes close to me, and felt gravel rattling over me – two shrapnel which I was told next morning had burst close to my head.

“Our men are splendid. It is marvellous to see the pluck and patience of the wounded. We can only do first dressings here, and they must hurt dreadfully; but we seldom hear a groan and never a complaint.

“When I go up to the line they generally hail me with a ‘They haven’t got you yet, Padre.’ Not that I take any needless risk, but there are always things flying about, and there have been a great many skilful snipers at work. One learns to take cover very soon, and it has to be carefully taken. Yesterday a man beside me was hit with shrapnel, while I was quite safe; and the day before, a commanding officer who was talking to me rose up to look at the position and was immediately hit in the shoulder.

“The most impressive service I have ever held was on board ship, after our first battle, when I invited men and officers of every religion to a memorial service for our many comrades we had lost the day before – Roman Catholic, Church of England, Church of Scotland – and every man on board was present, including the ship’s company. The service was short. It was all I could do to get through it – when I thought of the may friends I should not see here again Then the bugler blew the Last Post and the pipers played ‘The Flowers of the Forest’ and we landed next day to fight our second battle.”

Previous: Scots in Patagonia

Looking Back menu