122 Wounded from Gallipoli arrive - 26 August 1915

Abridged from the Paignton Western Guardian 2 September 1915

In the midst of its holiday season, Paignton again had the war brought home very vividly to it on Thursday evening, by the arrival of an ambulance train with a batch of wounded soldiers from the Gallipoli Peninsula. Wounded from the British front in Flanders and France have frequently been brought here for treatment, Thursday witnessed the arrival of the first contingent from the Dardanelles, and this gave the proceedings greater interest, and a very large crowd assembled in the vicinity of the station to give the men a hearty welcome.

The train arrived here shortly after six o’clock in the evening and the party consisted of 122 wounded British soldiers of the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. These came direct from the Dardanelles and included 40 New Zealanders, 17 of whom were cot cases. 82 were British soldiers, 36 being cot and 46 walking cases making in all a total of 53 cot and 69 walking patients.

While these were the first patients from the Mediterranean theatre of war to come to Oldway, it was the first time that New Zealanders had arrived here. It was interesting to note the garb of the Colonials, thin knickers having something of the appearance of football breeches, only khaki in colour, while the sitting cases wore broad-brimmed “wideawakes” of khaki hue. One grey whiskered New Zealander – a man certainly over 50, one would judge by his appearance – was one of the liveliest of the lot. He seemed quite convalescent, and was able to walk with ease. Happily, none of the men were in a dangerous condition, having recovered somewhat, but there were a good many bad cases amongst the arrivals.

A large crowd was present the whole time, and cheers were raised and handkerchiefs waved as the wounded men drove off. Some of the men told the stretcher bearers some thrilling stories, one remarking that out of his company of six hundred about two were left. Under the circumstances the men were extremely cheerful, but naturally very tired and very glad to get a bath and rest at the hospital.

Valuable assistance was again rendered by Chief-Officer Huggins and the members of the Fire Brigade, who with the station staff carried out the task of conveying the stretchers from the platform to the vehicles which were in waiting. It was noticeable that a large number of the men were considerably tanned by the tropical conditions prevailing in Gallipoli.