State Library of Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 44 Spring 1989


FIGHTERS: Lieutenant Lindsay Ross at Gallipoli

Lindsay Ross, a young schoolteacher from Ballarat, volunteered for the A.I.F. in November 1914 and was commissioned in May 1915. For complex reasons (what would later be called a SNAFU) he served with the 27th Battalion, a South Australian unit, which sailed from Australia on 31 May 1915. Having survived the War and reaching the rank of Captain, he resumed teaching and eventually became a technical school principal.
In 1932 Lindsay Ross discovered the letters he had written to his mother during the War. He had them bound in two handsome volumes which, together with four photograph albums, were presented to the Library in October 1989. They join a very rich body of World War I material, comprising over 300 collections of letters, diaries, reminiscences and related material. The foundation of this important aspect of our collecting activity was laid in the 1970s by Patsy Adam Smith, the author of The ANZACS and the Library's field officer from 1970 until 1982.
The letter which follows was the second of several which Lindsay Ross wrote to his mother from Gallipoli; the accompanying photographs come from his photograph albums.
“In my little dugout in the west”

Dear Mama
It was only yesterday I posted you a letter but as I have some time now I'll write a few more lines. This morning some more mail bags arrived and I got another letter and a few papers though my share of the mail is generally larger. Last night or rather late yesterday afternoon the Turks started a tremendous fusilade of artillery and rifle fire but we kept low and didnt fire a shot and all their shots were wasted. Our warships though replied and gave the Turks some “bucksheesh”. While I was sitting at my “doorway” eating my “bully” and biscuits a piece of shell dropped 3 or 4 feet away. I picked it up but soon dropped it as it was very hot. It was piece of one of our Navy shells and when the shell burst just over the ridge it sent the Turkish trench flying in all directions and this was part of the shell. It did not come with much force and it was as good as if it landed 50 miles away. Im sending it to you with this mail. I don't know whether I ought to have told you this because I suppose you will worry over a silly little incident like that. I feel confident that all the bullets will miss me though & that I'll return to Australia so don't worry.
Today is Sunday and this morning we held a short church service. We sang “Lead Kindly Light” and I couldn't help thinking of Ballarat and wondered what you were all doing. For a few minutes nobody would think a war was on with everything quiet for once and away on our right the blue sea — and a lovely morning into the bargain. But soon came the Turkish shells screeching overhead as they went towards the beach. The Turks have a gun which shells part of the beach especially when any of our chaps are in bathing. We call this gun “Beachy Bill” but some day our aeroplanes will “spot” her and then she will go to the same place as Kaiser Bill is going to. It is rather hot today and there are millions of flies here. I'm not exaggerating when I say millions. Wallace will tell you what they were like in Egypt but here they are a thousand times worse. We have not had bread for some days now but the other day when I had some bread and jam I had to keep wobbling it about for fear that the flies would have eaten it. And then I nearly eat dozens of flies in the process.
But so far its a great life and I have no complaints and no regrets and hope to say the same at the end of the war. Im going to try and get a clip of Turkish cartridges & post them to you & hope you get them safely. Yesterday I posted a biscuit & in case it gets broken I'll send another. Im in the best of health and am feeling fit as a fiddle & living like a gipsy king.
Dont worry Im bullet proof
So I remain
Your loving son