turkish troops
Turkish troops looking forward to going home for a kebab and a packet of Camels

When fighting at Gallipoli, you probably don’t expect to run into an old mate fighting for the other side. Yet that is exactly what happened to Private Henry Molloy.

Henry was a stretcher bearer and one morning he was, as usual, preparing a cup of tea. He had just boiled the water, and started to add the tea and sugar when a familiar voice called to him from behind Turkish lines.

“Hullo, Molloy,” said the voice in a heavy accent, “how vos Blossom?” Blossom was a colleague of Molloy’s at the Midland Railway Workshops, where he had worked as a fitter before the war.

Henry immediately knew who was speaking. Frederick Shack was a German also employed at the Workshops until he was dismissed for quarrelling with the foreman. After that, Fred set up a grocers in North Perth, where he was a familiar face doing the rounds with his cart. But somehow Fred had evaded the authorities, left Perth, and joined the Turkish troops.

The two chatted about the latest gossip from the Midland Workshops. Then Henry remembered the foreman’s son was also at Gallipoli, and would likely shoot Fred for insulting his father some years earlier.

Fred didn’t seem all that worried. “You hop it before you’re seen,” he replied, “or Jacko will put you in the harem.” (‘Jacko’ was digger slang for Turkish forces.)

Henry retorted with a friendly “Fuck the Kaiser!” before scooting back to the safety of the trenches.

War may be hell. But it can also be very odd.