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CHARLIE'S STOUSH


charlie

Stoush           Australian / N.Z. informal

noun                a brawl or other fight:  

The Australian soldiers knew the First World War as ‘The Big Stoush’… 

What drives a man to leave a loving wife and family, and a successful business, to volunteer for the bloodiest war ever known?  Charlie Linklater did – twice!  Repatriated back to Sydney after barely surviving Gallipoli, Charlie recovers only to re-enlist, this time to fight with Monash’s famous 3rd Division in the killing fields of Flanders. 

Based on the true story of Captain Charles Linklater, M.C., Charlie’s Stoush is the fast-paced, historically detailed tale of a fair dinkum Australian hero, capturing all the gallantry, humour and mateship of the first Anzacs.  Whether rubbing shoulders with Generals or fighting hand-to-hand in the trenches with the diggers, the incredible exploits of Charlie and his colleagues will leave the reader spellbound and wondering, ‘Surely that couldn’t have happened!’   

In Store Price: $AU28.95 
Online Price:   $AU27.95

 


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ISBN: 978-1-921731-91-4 
Format: Paperback
Number of pages:290
Genre: Fiction
 

Cover: Clive Dalkins

 

 


Author: A.C. Waugh
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2011
Language: English

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AUTHOR BIO

A.C. WAUGH is a doctor and first time author.

He lives in Brisbane with his wife and two adult children.

26th April, 1915

Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey

 

Do your duty bravely. Fear God. Honour the King.

Lord Kitchener (1850-1916).

 

Charlie slowly paced the upper deck of the Lake Michigan, thankful for the pre-dawn darkness that helped mask his growing anxiety. Nick, as always, was by his side, his casual gait seemingly unaffected by Charlie’s unease. Only a cold misty drizzle remained from the rain of the previous evening. The two friends paused beside the guardrails and stared at the spectacular rumbling lightshow in the eastern sky.

“Reminds me of the thunderstorms back home.” Nick was the first to break their silence.

“A storm of sorts,” said Charlie.

A series of particularly violent flashes burst beyond the rugged chain of mountains that formed the spine of the peninsula, silhouetting their menace.

“Fifteen inchers,” said Nick, “… from the Queen Elizabeth.” They strained to hear the explosions of the battleship’s massive shells, but they were lost in the background of incessant cannon and small-arms fire.

“They’re trying to knock out the Turkish artillery,” said Charlie. “And maybe take out a few of their reinforcements as they move to the front.”

“Maybe … but it looks like Johnny Turk is giving as good as he gets...” Nick leaned deeper into the guardrail, fixing his gaze on the battlefield. He spoke slowly, carefully choosing his words. “You know, Charlie, despite all the training … the lectures … what I’ve read in the papers … it’s only now, standing here, looking at all this, that I’m starting to realise what we’re got ourselves into. Until now, I really haven’t had a clue. Even so, I still can’t imagine what it’s like for those poor blighters out there … copping this lot.”

Charlie grasped his friend’s shoulder.  “Mate … she’ll be right… ” He trailed off. He could think of nothing better to say and realised that it wasn’t Nick who needed reassuring. They both knew the score.

Less than 24 hours earlier, at this absurdly rugged little bay on the western shore of the Gallipoli Peninsula, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps had launched an amphibious assault on the Ottoman Empire. Already 2,000 Anzac soldiers were dead with many more wounded. Now the enemy artillery were ensuring that there would be no respite for the exhausted allied troops before the Turkish infantry made their inevitable counterattack to drive these infidels back into the sea. Soon it would be Captain Charles ‘Charlie’ Linklater’s turn to land at Anzac Cove.

Charlie and Nick resumed their patrol of the troopship. Other soldiers had gathered along the length of the decks, huddling in small hushed groups to contemplate the day ahead. They had already heard the shocking statistics and witnessed the shattered bodies of their comrades being hauled back aboard the Lake Michigan from the landing boats, before the little steam pinnaces could tow a fresh wave of Australian soldiers ashore. After nearly a month of bustling activity and excited banter since they had left Alexandria, the departure of the 1,000 men of the 4th Battalion had left the Lake Michigan deserted and ominously silent.

Nick nodded towards the soldiers scattered about the deck. “Not many of the boys are sleeping tonight.”

“Hardly surprising,” said Charlie. “Mind you, there are still a few blokes below deck … sleeping like babies. I envy their composure.”

Charlie and Nick shook their heads in a mixture of disbelief and admiration and continued walking. They made towards three familiar figures. Watts was first to spot the approaching officer and sprang to attention, throwing an exaggerated salute. Venter smirked and the ever-shy Postle shrank further into the darkness.

“Captain!” Watts acknowledged Charlie. “ ... And Zorba.” He turned to Nick and briefly touched his hand to the rim of his hat again.

Nick tried to frown, but couldn’t contain the hint of a smile. “Just because we promoted you Watts, don’t think you can start getting over-familiar.”

“Sorry … Sergeant Gillies.” Watts was the model of contrition. “I’m still getting used to the new pecking order.” He proudly patted his sleeve, ensuring that all could see his newly attached corporal’s stripes. “These take a little getting used to.”

“Hah!” Venter thumped the guardrail. “I reckon it’s all a bloody waste of time if we’re just going to withdraw! Bloody waste, I reck...” He was suddenly aware of two icy stares.

“Watch yourself, Private,” said Nick.

“Begging your pardon, Sir.” Venter threw an apologetic salute to Charlie. “But I reckon that’s what everyone is saying ... that we’re pulling out.”

Charlie shook his head again. “I see that the rumour mill has been working overtime. Pull out? We’ve just landed 12,000 men! There’s no way we’re going to turn tail and run now. Plus there’s all the wounded on the beach ... we won’t be abandoning them. The Anzacs are staying in Gallipoli ... and you’ll be joining them soon enough.”

“Yes, but not to fight. I reckon we’re just glorified delivery boys.”

“We’ve been over this already, Venter,” said Charlie, sighing. “And it’s even more apparent now. If there’s one thing the Anzacs need, it’s cannon, not more ...”

“Cannon fodder?”

“Thank you, Watts. I’m not sure I would have put it exactly that way, but anyway... First we get these cannon ashore, then we can join the fight.” Charlie looked at each man in turn. “It’s still a few hours until dawn. You blokes should try to get some sleep. We have a big day ahead of us.”

Without waiting for a reply, Charlie and Nick returned to their rounds. Charlie waited until they had passed out of earshot of the three men. “Venter’s cranky tonight.”

“He’s just worried about the landing.”

“Who isn’t?”

Nick looked up into the starless sky and then peered into the black sea below them. “This sea isn’t too bad. We really should get going while it’s still dark.”

Charlie repeated Nick’s perusal of the conditions. By any measure tonight’s rain had been a minor weather event and the accompanying breeze had only produced a moderate swell.

“Probably, but the brass won’t risk it. There’ll be virtually no freeboard on the lighter carrying the cannon, so they won’t risk the slightest swell. And there’s all the wreckage to negotiate now. It’ll have to be a daylight landing. They won’t take risks with one of our precious cannons.”

“Landing in daylight! In full view of Johnny Turk and his artillery – after what happened yesterday! I think I’d rather take my chances with King Neptune in the dark than run that gauntlet of shrapnel.”

Charlie felt his anxiety rise another notch. Struth, he thought. When Nick begins to worry, it must be getting close to panic stations! “I know mate … I know,” he said. “It’s a mug’s choice. We either tackle the sea at night or the Turks during the day. Crikey, Nick! What are two New South Wales wool merchants doing on the other side of the world waiting to invade the Ottoman Empire?” Charlie lowered his eyes, his tone becoming more solemn. “Mate, I’m sorry I got you into this.”

“For God’s sake, Charlie! You’re not still on about that are you? Let’s get this clear ... once and for all … it was my decision to volunteer!”

“Yes, I know Nick, but I played my part…”

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