Page.2. Gallipoli
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. (August 1915)
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, Dunedin.
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.