Yorkshireman Francis Twisleton (1873-1917) landed at Gallipoli with the Otago Mounted Rifles Regiment on 20 May 1915. His letters home provide insights into the reality of trench warfare on the peninsula. Despite the hardships, he soon adjusted to the ‘very funny sort of life one leads, we burrow like rabbits and live more or less underground and do most of our work at night’.
In August 1915, Twisleton took part in the bloody assaults on Bauchop’s Hill and Hill 60. In his vivid account of the Hill 60 attack, he described the roar of battle as so overpowering that he felt as though he ‘was being driven into the ground by being hit on the head’. During the initial charge, an Ottoman bullet smashed into his revolver, sending small pieces of gunmetal into his hand and neck, which he dug out later with a pocketknife. Later in the battle, he took command of a trench filled with the bodies of Ottoman soldiers. Revolted by the scene, he later wrote, ‘I felt as though I could scrape the smell of dead men out of my mouth and throat and stomach in chunks.’
Evacuated from Gallipoli with dysentery in September 1915, he did not return. Awarded the Military Cross and mentioned in dispatches for his bravery and initiative on Gallipoli, Twisleton died of wounds in Palestine on 14 November 1917.