Using Water Guns at Gallipoli
Gallipoli was one of the many unmitigated Allied disasters of World War One. An attempt to knock the Ottoman Turks out of the war in 1915, the campaign suffered from ill planning and a serious miss-judging of the fighting spirit and abilities of the Turks when defending their homeland. While the campaign was indeed a bloody fiasco – it in part cost Winston Churchill his post as First Lord of the Admiralty – there was no shortage of valour or even ingenuity amongst the British, Australian and New Zealand troops who took part in the effort. Lance Corporal William Charles Scurry of the 7th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force was a remarkable case in point.
Above: William Charles Scurry after his appointment to Temporary Captain. Photo: Australian War Memorial.
Born on 30 October 1895 at Melbourne, Scurry was an architectural modeler by trade and was serving as a 2nd lieutenant in the 58th Infantry (Essendon Rifles) before the war. Eager to get into action, he resigned his commission and enlisted as a private in the 7th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force. He arrived at Gallipoli not long before the Allied command had decided to cut their losses and begin an evacuation of the front.
Any retreat in the face of a determined and capable foe in fraught with the highest risks but the Allied withdrawal was probably the most successful part of the campaign and a rather remarkable invention by William Scurry contributed greatly to that success.
Above: One of Lance Corporal Scurry’s so-called drip guns which bought much needed time during the Allied withdrawal at Gallipoli. With a mechanism similar to ancient water clock, modified SMLE rifles like this example fooled the Turks into thinking the allied lines were still occupied. Photo: Australian War Memorial.
Below is an interesting and well produced animation recounting Scurry’s “Drip Gun” and its use in covering the final ANZAC evacuation from Gallipoli.
Below: A documentary produced by ABC Australia on the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign highlighting William Scurry’s invention.
They also served. Rifles with no attending riflemen would not have fooled to Turks, A key element in Scurry’s ruse were the dummies made to help complete the illusion of fully manned positions.
Above: Some Scurry’s decoy dummies. History is silent as to their eventual – and probably grim – fate in Turkish hands. Photo: Australian War Memorial.