War Memoir of Robert Ellwood

Ellwood: I always remember Rafa because I think I was one of the most fortunate, the show was one of the most fortunate part of the whole show. We happened to be, we were joined in battle with them in there.. Rafa itself was a sort of fortification and an outpost, sort of business, you know, and the attack took place of course, in an attack you have reserves and supports and all that sort of business and my troop and C squadron, C squadron was sent in and I was held as a support to C squadron. Well, during the attack, they were being pressed a bit and it was being delayed through resistance of the Turk and I was sent in with my troop certain death facing me, all the confidence in the world that I was going to get through.

There’s some in built, whatever you like to call it, knowledge of what is going to happen to you, it seems to be, ridiculous to speak that way, but, oh, in one instance on the Peninsula of course, the first time they went in the Peninsula I was that numbed with fear that I don’t remember a thing of what happened, that’s almost incredible but its a fact, I don’t remember a thing that happened and yet I went through the whole of the engagement and another occasion when it was absolutely certain death to walk out in the face of it, we were all packed up ready and all the rest of them, I hadn’t the slightest feeling of fear or anything that I would be killed and the action was called off before we went in.

Oh, there’s a number of occasions, I say this occasion at Rafa, I had no feelings at all of fear and yet it was just facing death to go across an open area with hundreds of rifle and that was only two at a time, its a peculiar thing. Another occasion at the Magdhaba, it was adjutant at the time and I was sitting down on little hillocks all around and writing out an order which GHQ had given me to relay to the squadron. And all of a sudden, I don’t know what did it but I simply got up and walked across there and as I did so a bullet simply went straight into the lounge where I was. Hadn’t the slightest idea why I did it, there was no reason for doing it but I just got up and walked over two or three yards and then these bullets arrived. Not a half an hour after but fractional just as I moved. But you see a lot of peculiar things like that.

Another peculiar instance I had speaking on those lines, I had a brother in France at the infantry and I mean you were at war and you all expected to hear but he was never in my mind much because I was so occupied with my own life and my own work and my own surroundings. But one night for some reason or the other I had the most peculiar sensation that something had happened to him, he hadn’t been in my thoughts for months and months. In the morning, in the position I was in as Adjutant I had access to lines of communication where I got through a message to Headquarters in France to find out if anything had happened and what had happened to him. And lo-and-behold word came back to say he was badly wounded in the upper buttock and that he was in hospital and all the rest of it. I mean just another incidence of something, that elusive unexplainable something of the other in a persons being which I feel is in me, a lot of people don’t of course.