As the ‘Charnwood’ passed into her place, the men lined the sides and cheered for all they were worth.
‘What day is this?’ said Ken to Dave, as the big transport passed out of the mouth of the bay.
‘Friday, the twenty-third,’ was the answer.
‘Twenty-third of April,’ said Ken. ’St. George’s Day. Then I tell you what, Dave, this is going to be a Sunday job.’
‘You mean we’ll be landed on Sunday?’
‘That’s about it,’ he answered.
‘Hallo, what’s up?’ asked Dave Burney. ‘We’re off again.’
It was the night of Saturday the 24th of April. For the greater part of the day the ‘Charnwood’ had been lying off Cape Helles, which is the southernmost point of the Gallipoli Peninsula, while the people listened to the thunder of guns, and watched the shrapnel bursting in white puffs over the scrub-clad heights of the land.
Now, about midnight, she had got quietly under way, and was steaming steadily in a nor’-westerly direction.
‘What’s up?’ Dave repeated in a puzzled tone. ’This ain’t the way to Constantinople.’
‘Don’t you be too sure of that, sonny,’ remarked Roy Horan, the big New Zealander who was standing with the two chums at the starboard rail. ’We ain’t going home anyhow. I’ll lay old man Hamilton’s got something up his sleeve.’
‘That’s what I’m asking,’ said Dave. ’What’s the general up to? So far as I can see, there are only three other transports going our way. The rest are staying right here. What’s your notion, Ken?’
‘I don’t know any more than you chaps,’ Ken answered. ’But I’ll give you my opinion for what it’s worth. I think we’re going to do a sort of flank attack. The main landing will probably be down here at the Point. Then when the Turks are busy, trying to hold ’em up, we shall be slipped in somewhere up the coast so as to create a sort of diversion.’
‘What—and miss all the fun!’ exclaimed Dave in a tone of intense disgust.
‘You won’t miss anything to signify,’ Ken answered dryly. ’There are more than a hundred thousand Turks planted on the Peninsula, and you can bet anything you’ve got left from the wreck that there isn’t one yard of beach that isn’t trenched and guarded.’
‘Where do ye think we’ll land?’ asked Horan eagerly.
Ken shrugged his shoulders. ‘Haven’t a notion,’ he said. ’There are a lot of small bays up the west coast. Probably we shall nip into some little cove not very far up. There’s a big ridge called Achi Baba which runs right across the Peninsula about four miles north. It’ll be somewhere behind that, I expect. But mind you, this is all guess work. I don’t know any more than you do.’
‘You know the country anyhow,’ said Horan. ’And that’s worth a bit. See here, Carrington, if we can manage it, let’s all three stick together. We ought to see some fun—what?’