After the failure of the August offensive, talk of evacuation was ripe. A number of events would make it a certainty. The winter that was approaching was one.
There were some rumours from intelligence officers that the Turks wanted to mark the Islamic sacrificial feast of Kuban Bayrami on October 19th with a general attack. At Courtney’s Post and Quinn’s Post an unofficial truce took place for thirty minutes.
Thomas, O’Brien, Sands, Smith and Carboni were trying to communicate with the Turks standing with them in no-man’s-land.
O’Brien said, “Let give him some bully beef”.
Sands said, “Jim, it’s a truce, you don’t give them bully beef. So what if they’ve been trying to kill us, what have they done to deserve bully beef? That’s cruel.”
One of the Turks said, “We take, we try, you want coffee?”
“Yes, please”, said Sands.
Another Turk offered Smith olives. “Thank you”, said Smith.
Thomas asked the Turkish soldier who spoke English, “Why is there a truce today?”
“Kuban Bayrami, our Allah, God, yes”, the soldier replied.
“We give the poor meat. It’s for when Abraham sacrificed a ram to Allah, God, instead of his boy, son, yes.”
“I had the nuns teach me that story, back in Collingwood.” said O’Brien.
“We want no war today. Take holiday.” said the Turk.
“We’re happy with that.” Thomas agreed.
The truce ended and they went back to their respective trenches. From the Turkish trench an open can of bully beef was thrown back and landed between O’Brien and Sands.
“I told you not to give them the bully beef.” Sands said.
On November 26th the winter arrived with a vengeance. Heavy rainfall turned to snow, ice and then a blizzard. Frostbite broke out amongst many of the Australian troops, for whom this was the first snow they’d ever seen. Ironically, the arrival of the snow was the first time that the Australians and New Zealanders did not suffer from a shortage of water since they’d landed.
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