May 18th 1915

Pat Duff (another of our 1911 Oxford Hockey Blues – see May 4th picture) is now a 2nd Lieutenant in the RFA with our forces in Gallipoli. He has some amusing stories to tell about our French allies.

CP Duff

Lieut. CP Duff RFA

9/5/15 “There have been some strenuous night attacks, and stray people dashing into one’s lines at night give alarming views of what is going on. The Frenchman gets rattled at times. One dashed into my lines two nights ago (being nearly shot by my guard).

I shouted ‘Francais, venez ici.’ He was a little man with a huge rifle and bayonet, and looked as if he were supporting a lamp-post. I asked what was happening, and where were his comrades.

He gesticulated and danced about saying ‘on crie, sauve qui peut. Rien ne va plus; les Turcs do this, that, and the other and I am a most miserable soldier.’

So I replied, ‘Courage, comrade; revanche, Marseillaise, Paris attaque, grande attaque.’

Upon which he took heart and returned whence he came, leaving me, however, a bit disconcerted, as that was the only news of the situation I had, and the shrapnel was very frequent and rifle fire seemed to be getting nearer. However, Frenchmen always get hold of the wrong end of the stick, so I decided to wait for confirmation, which of course didn’t come…

Great fun talking to the French tommies, and hearing how as the Corporal was about to bayonet a Turk, another Turk was just about to knife the Corporal when Alphonse and Pierre appeared behind the last-named Turk. As they go to kill him, a sniper appears in the rear.

‘But I am here, and tire mon fusil and lui make brûler la tête, which flees into two piece’ – whereat he waves his arms like a windmill.

15/5/15. There was rather fun the other day, though I didn’t see it. A hare got up and all the English, of course, leapt to their feet with fearful yells. Presently a French General came to complain of this behaviour: ‘à la guerre, comme à la guerre, et à la chasse come à la chasse!’  He explained that his enfants think it is the Turks who arrive when they hear the row. 

I must honestly say that I think this is going to be a long affair, but I hope to return some day.”

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