SERGEANT Ernest Perks’ letter was the first to reach Hereford with news of the Herefordshire Regiment’s landing at Suvla Bay.

Margaret Golightly got in touch with the Hereford Times to recall the story her mother told her.

Mrs Golighty’s grandfather Sgt Perks was a signaller in the Herefordshire Regiment which landed at Suvla Bay on August 8 and 9.

He sent a letter to his wife in Foley Street, Hereford from Gallipoli which was printed in the Hereford Times in late August 1915.

Mrs Golightly’s mother told her it was the first news to reach Hereford and their home was besieged by the relations of others in the regiment who were anxious for news.

She found the letter in the archives of the paper at Hereford Library which said: “I am very pleased to say I am all right up to the present. It is terribly hot here during the daytime, and there is practically no cover. We landed on Monday (the 9th) morning, and went into action in the afternoon, twelve hours after landing.

“It was an unlucky start, and we were shelled with shrapnel for about a mile. The feeling was awful at first to see the fellows dropping out around us, but the regiment never faltered, and pressed on until we reached the firing line.

“In the short space of a quarter of an hour we lost through wounds Colonel Drage, Captain Yates, Captain Capel, Captain Nott, and Captain Rogers; but, one good job, most of them are not seriously wounded.

“Five signallers are lost to us; Griffiths and Fowler missing for five days; Thomas, Barnes, and Harvey wounded. Jim Preece was wounded in the advance on Thursday night (the 12th). He was hit in the mouth by a piece of shrapnel or a bullet, but it is not very serious. I saw him running back, but did not know him until he said: “I have been shot in the mouth”; I looked at the wound, which had just been temporarily dressed. I cheered him up and directed him to the hospital; so I expect by now he is comfortable and having a well-earned rest. I am very thankful to say I escaped injury, but how, goodness knows. I am anxious to see the paper from home to see the news.

“All the troops sleep on the ground in their uniforms; no blankets or waterproofs. I have just had a wash; the second since Sunday morning. I am anxiously looking forward to seeing England again, and hope to come home safe. Give my best wishes to all our relatives, and tell them I am still “on deck” doing my bit.

“Officers say that the rainy season starts in about six weeks’ time, and that this must be over by then, or we shall be swamped with water. So let us hope it will be all over soon.

“The troops here are doing splendidly, and the Turks seem weak in men and artillery. The warships keep shelling their trenches, and it makes anyone almost feel sorry when we see the explosions away in the hills, for they must do some damage.

Peter Everitt (Church Street) is wounded in the leg. I saw him only a minute before it was done. He was in a gully having a rest, and a sniper had him.

“The Turks are pastmasters in sniping, and they also know the country very well. Wells seems their favourite mark; for in the regiment we relieved on Monday eight men had been killed at one well when fetching water. They also keep well under cover; for though I have been in the firing line or just near for five days, I have only seen one Turk, and he was a prisoner. I am writing this within a few feet of the sea, and I am going to have a dip as soon as I have finished this. It is now 8am. Just fancy writing a letter at this hour in the morning! But as we may be moving back at any minute I make it my first duty to attend to. Edgar Palamountain (St. Martin Street) is at this base with me.

“It is rotten here; nothing to buy for love or money; if anybody should be sending me anything out, send for preference chocolate and fags, as the chaps have been offering 6d. for a packet of Woodbines.”

Sgt Perks was associated with the Old Comrades Association of the Herefordshire Regiment for many years until he died in 1959.