It was the 19th of May 1915, just a few weeks after our boys had landed at Anzac Cove, and the Aussie diggers were under the pump. Mustafa Ataturk, the coach of the Johnny Turks, has launched a surprise assault on our team’s trenches, and sent 40 000 of the buggers in to cut us to ribbons. At Courtney’s post, Albert found himself cut off from his mates and at the end of a trench alone, with hundreds of the hookah smoking fez wearers trying to take his head off with bullets.
It was just the type of sport Albert enjoyed, and he happily held ’em off for a couple of hours, and took a few scalps along the way too; but eventually the Anzac commanders, who at that stage didn’t know Albert too well, decided he’s have to run out of steam soon, so they sent a few of his mates along to give him a hand.
P*ssed off that these posh Pommy gits thought he couldn’t handle himself, Albert instructed the boys – who did know him well and would walk over broken glass if he asked them too – to throw a bit of diversionary fire while he ducked out of the trench for a piss, explaining that he didn’t want to splash on their gaiters. He didn’t want to bullsh*t the boys, but knew that if he told them where he was really going they’d want to follow him, and it was far too dangerous a situation to put the young blokes in. Nup, he’d look after it, and make sure that young diggers number one Sheila waiting at home wouldn’t have to wait forever for the bloke to come home.
Albert was 21 at the time.
So the boys started throwing a few grenades to put the Turks off the scent, and Albert ducked out of the trench, telling the fella’s he’d be back in a tick after he had a hit and miss and gave the old fella a quick shake. But what he really did, while the boys were chucking the pineapples and yahooing, was take a quick sprint across no-man’s land, with the bullets whistling around his ears, sneak around the back of the Turkish trenches, and jump in.
The fact that he was armed only with a rifle and a bayonet didn’t bother the bloke, because Albert was confident that he could look after himself in a stoush. And so it proved, because before you could say God Save the Queen Because Nothing Can Save Sparkles, Greenfield and Michael Coutts, there were seven dead Turks in the trench with him, and hundreds running like hell as fast as they could from this dervish of a digger with a rollie hanging out of the side of his mouth and a grin from ear to ear.
The first five of the dead Turks had bullets in their brains, but Albert couldn’t have grabbed an ammo belt before slipping off for his piss, otherwise he boys might have twigged that something was up, so he’d quickly run out of shells. It didn’t matter though, because he simply started running the bayonet through the armed to the teeth Turks who were trying to knock off his mates.
They could have heard Albert cursing back in his home town of Layard when looked up after despatching number seven and found that the frightened to near-death Ottomans, who had suddenly discovered that they actually weren’t that keen on the Empire that they wanted to die for it, had turned tail taken the bolt.
“The weak-gutted, lily-livered cowardly bastards!” Albert cried. He was about to jump out of the trench and give chase, when his mates – who’d heard him singing Click Go the Shears at the top of his lungs as he took each of the seven out, and watched in wonder through the periscope as the hundreds of still-breathing Turks fled – arrived on the scene and held him back, telling him that his Mum was on the phone back at base, and wanted to have chat to him about his sister Fannie and some bloke who was giving her grief.
Now tell a true-blue Aussie bloke that some d*ckhead’s hassling his sister, and that his dear Mum needs him now, and I’ll bet you Gundagai to a brick that he’ll see red and lose all sense of reason, and that’s exactly what Albert did, so he jumped out of the Turks blood-filled trench and ran like Snowy Baker all the way back to Johnny Monash’s tent, and it wasn’t until he’d reached the future General’s front door and run into thousands of weary diggers cheering and calling his name that he realised that there was no mobile reception in the Middle East, and that his leg had been well and truly pulled by those bloody buggers he called his mates.
He stopped in his tracks, and was just lighting the durry that he’d pulled out from behind the strap of his slouch hatted ear when his commanding officer, another fine Australian named Lieutenant Keithy Crabbe, approached. An open-mouthed Crabbe, who had only moments before been filled in on the incredible story about why the Turks guns had fallen silent and their soldiers had pissed off like prawns, was open-mouthed as he walked up to our Albert and asked him what the hell had just happened.
After taking a quick drag on his durry, Albert simply replied:
“I managed to get the Beggars, Sir”
There should be a statue of him on every street, and a portrait on every wall.