The Stench of Death; Fears of Being Buried Alive
A Rescuer is Rescued.
Special to The Great War Project
(29-31 July) The deadlock continues on the Gallipoli Peninsula in northwest Turkey.
The defending Turks and the attacking allied troops of Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand dig miles of barbed-wire protected trenches. This transforms the landscape and brings stalemate to the war for Gallipoli.
The scream and shudder of artillery is a constant for both sides, but they both find new and more effective means of killing.
Among them, digging mines under the enemy’s trenches. “To kill from below,” in the words of historian Eugene Rogan.
According to Rogan’s account of the fight for Gallipoli, one French soldier recalls later that he “was awakened around midnight, his ear to the hard ground in his dugout, by the distinct sound of digging in the ground beneath him.”
“The one thing I fear is to end my days blown sky high over the trenches.”
It is no surprise that similar fears infect the Turkish side as well. One Turkish officer who keeps a diary “was more afraid,” according to Rogan, “of being buried alive by an explosion than of being blown sky high.”
“There is no worse death than that,” the Turkish officer writes. “My God, spare everyone from such a fate.”