By Ellen Brown
Flashes of Scottish landscape fly past the window as we make our way to our pick up for Gallipoli. We are singing, our spirits high, excited for war; our country needs us. The train cries out a long whistle and we cheer heartily. This is the start of a big adventure, a time to leave home and become men. Our new uniforms are stiff and itchy, our boots shiny. We prise the collars away from our necks as the May sun permeates through the window and heats the carriage where we sit next to each other in rows. Body odour intensifies with the heat.
Gravity makes us accelerate as we head downhill and we cheer again. Chug, chug, chug, Whoo! Whoo! More cheers. The Quintinshill signal box flies by; did that man look alarmed? Immediate screeching sets our teeth on edge and we lurch forward, bodies falling on top of each other heavily and awkwardly. What the hell? We are no longer laughing, but shouting obscenities at the driver, confused. We bang on the side of the carriage, collectively, angrily; the hoax is over.
Slow motion engages; there is an impact, the train telescopes, shunting in on itself. There is an explosion, and the smell of burning flesh seeps out of the carriage and contaminates the fresh morning air. It is hopeless. We are all dead. Our country no longer needs us.