By 21 May 1915 a Royal Navy fleet sweeper was leaving ANZAC
beach 9.30 am daily clearing personnel and mails to Mudros,
15 miles distant. This service continued until evacuation.
During the campaign Corporal Oppenheim wrote back to fellow
postal workers in New Zealand from the "Dug Out P.O." saying
he was well and enjoying the simple life despite the shrapnel
and the snipers. Their sorting table is Mother Earth, and they
sort like playing cards. Very often the wind takes a corner
and plays havoc with a full hand. He wonders what nationality
they would be taken for if the Turks heard the subsequent language.
Mails for Gallipoli were forwarded from Egypt as occasion
offered, and then transhipped to HMS Aragon at Mudros whence
they were transferred to destroyers and trawlers and other small
craft for transport to Gallipoli. These, in turn on arrival
at Helles or Anzac, would transfer there load to lighters. On
arrival at the beaches the mails were taken over by the Landing
Post Office, the staff of which consisted of Australian and
New Zealand postal personnel. After checking the mail was taken
over by the Field Post Offices serving the different brigades,
which in turn arranged for delivery to the unit postal orderlies.
Two further letters published in "Te Katipo" of 20 November
1915 also describe conditions in Gallipoli:- Under heading of
21 September I am forwarding for publication a list of our postal
staff and general workings of our military post office on the
Gallipoli Peninsula, which, I feel sure will interest all and
sundry. Of course the post office, at Alexandria, necessitates
the employment of a good few hands and competitive brains, and
this is perhaps why Lieutenant D. McCurdy (of Wellington), New
Zealand's military postmaster, has his abode there, but as I
am with the staff on the peninsula I shall deal with that staff
and their work only.
The staff should consist of twelve n.c.o.'s and men, but owing
to sickness and wounds we are struggling along much under establishment,
and are in hopes that assistance will shortly arrive.
The staff is as follows:- In charge: Staff Sergeant T. Herd,
Gisborne, Corporal S. Oppenheim, Palmerston North (promoted
Sergeant at base); Corporal E. Kivell, Stratford (sick); Corporal
A.H. Greener, Wellington; Corporal E.R. Toms, Wellington (sick);
Private J. Hillard, Gisborne (sick); Private J. H. Chambers,
Wairoa, H. B (sick); Private J. Grubb, Welington; Private W.
McPhail, Wellington (wounded); Private C.H. Siley, Wellington
(sick); Private C. Caay, Government Buildings (wounded); Private
C. Griffiths, Wellington (sick); Private D.A. Reaburn, British
N.Z. Section; Private W.L. Simpson, Dunedin; Private Phelan,
Often we read paragraphs in various New Zealand papers relative
to the capable way in which Sergeant Reginald Miller, of Masterton,
distributed in New Zealand mail to the troops in the trenches.
Some seven months ago Sergeant Miller was transferred to the
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Headquarters, thus severing
his connection with the New Zealand portion of the division,
and the arrival, distribution, and forwarding of our mails is
carried on by the capable staff mentioned above.
Mails arrive at Anzac at any awkward time, and often being
checked with way-bill, as in the G.P.O. at Wellington, are transport
(only at night time) in mule carts to various points where battalion
and brigade postal orderlies are notified to collect. Each bag
is then roped, and the remainder of the journey is made on pack
mules led by Sikhs, to the trenches.
Although our "office" is only a dugout in the side of a hill
we do a "roaring" trade in our registration branch, and the
British Postal Order Department is often kept going after hours,
but all this will be remedied when we enter the G.P.O. at Constant
and we have doors to stop the surging thorough when the going
pronounces eight. With the compliments of the staff and myself.