A little bit of war profiteering

Sam Dyson was in Egypt at the time. He was among the first to sign up for the Great War and was among the first quota of Western Australians in the AIF. He has been identified in the famous photograph of the ANZACs posing on the side of the Great Pyramid on the Giza Plateau.

Group portrait of all the original officers and men of the 11th Battalion, 3rd Brigade, AIF

Sam would be one of the first on the beach at ANZAC cove, and would survive for his Dad to tell that story.

His father was Andrew “Drewy” Dyson and it’s important to remember that any story mentioning Drewy will always end up being about Drewy.

The following is from a Perth newspaper called “The Truth” published 27 March 1915:

Defendant Drewy Dyson.

Clashes with the Board of Health And makes some Noise in Court.

Some amusement was caused at the Perth Police Court on Wednesday during the very first opening stages of a case in which Andrew Dyson was charged with allowing an accumulation of offensive matter on his premises, situated at 999 Charles-street, Perth. Incidentally, the place was also named “Ararat,” and it had some significance, as will be seen later.

Messrs. W. J. Holmes and W. A. Grenike, J’s.P., were occupying the Bench in solemn state when the charge was called by the police orderly. The day being a little sultry indoors, all the court doors were left open so that a little air could be induced to travel through the No. 3 Court, which is situated right in the centre of the building. “Andrew Dyson,” called the orderly. “Here,” came the answer in

A BELLOW FROM DYSON

as he lifted up his bulky frame and came forward. Those who know “Drewy” Dyson will fully appreciate the definition of “bulky.”

An inspector whose name nobody heard, entered the box to give evidence. He did little more than make an entrance when Dyson took charge. He rapidly did that by telling the Bench, in tones that drowned all other noises, that he was neither the owner nor the occupier of 999 Charles-street. In dulcet tones the inspector proceeded to say something. “Shout it out,” roared Dyson, “I’ve got a bit deaf since all these cannons went off.”

Everybody paused and gasped for breath at the noise the obese gent was making. “Come here,” said lawyer Hale, soothingly, “and sit closer to the witness.” “With pleasure,” replied Dyson in an extravagantly polite manner. He was given a seat at the lawyers’ table, and grabbing a pencil and heap of paper he started, only just started, to make notes. The Inspector then managed to say his name was Joseph Dunn, when Dyson emitted a weird, subterranean, sort of growl. “Be quiet, now, you can ask questions afterwards,” soothingly assured Mr. Hale, who was appearing for the Board of Health.

“You’re NOT IN THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY now,” shouted Dyson, “I won’t be quiet.” As Mr. Hale has never so far fallen from grace as to belong to the Assembly, the reply was enigmatic, but it transpired later that Dyson mistook him for Mr. Walter Dwyer. Comparative silence being restored, Mr. Holmes remarked to Dyson, “I know you of old. Don’t make so much noise.” “Well, they say I live at 999 Charles-street,” said Dyson. “I don’t. Let “em prove it. I put the number on, and called it Ararat. Do you know what Ararat means? Well, It is the partition between heaven and hell. That’s scripture for you. Have a look in the dictionary. I don’t live there. I live in the bush.” All this was given forth in a loud tone.

When the noise stopped, Mr. Holmes said, “If you talk so much we will have to take extraordinary measures with you.” Dyson, with a wink at the press table, “Don’t make it too hot.” The inspector, summing up courage, “The place was in an INDESCRIBABLE STATE OF FILTH“—

Dyson, bawling in tones that made the windows rattle and shut up everybody else, “I don’t admit I’m the defendant. D’ye hear me?” Only, dead people could not have heard him. Drew.y has a remarkably fine voice, although it may sadly heed musical training. Continuing, in the same terrific bawl he said, “Andrew Dyson is summoned. I’m Andrew Dyson The place belongs to Andrew Samuel Dyson, and he’s in Egypt. What about it now? To Mr. Hale: Look here, Mr. Dwyer, that man (the inspector) never saw me at all I ask for an ADJOURNMENT TO GET A SOLICITOR.”

Mr Holmes: All right, we’ll adjourn it. Dyson: I have two doctors and an inspector to say this inspector is a liar. Mr. Holmes: if you don’t behave yourself you will be dealt with for contempt of court. Dyson (with respectful air): Do it, your Worship, do it. Mr. Holmes: We adjourn the case until Friday. Dyson: All right, your Worship.

He started to leave the court, when he commenced to have another go at the inspector. He was pushed outside, and the door was banged violently behind him. Peace and a beautiful calm was restored. The court had hardly got going on other business when Dyson unexpectedly appeared at another open door

“May I ask,” he said in deafening tones, “that the evidence that man (the inspector) is going to give shall be impounded.” Mr. Holmes: You go away. How can we impound any evidence especially when it has not been given? Go out. Dyson: The OTHER INSPECTOR IS A GENTLEMAN, but this one”— The Court Orderly: Get out!

Under persuasion Dyson went out, and another door was banged upon his exit. Then the court settled down to business again, but above all that was done could be heard the strident tones of Dyson as he delivered himself to some people who had gathered in the pasage with wonder at the fearful noise that had attracted them. Gradually the sounds died away, and things resumed a normal state, the silence being tomb like in comparison with the previous noise.

~

A few days later Drewy was back in court and was fined £3 anyway. It may have been his son’s home, but Drewy owned the property and it was his livestock currently in occupation.

Health inspectors who visited the premises, stated that they found in the yard goats, fowls, cats, dogs, and pigeons. The yard itself was in “an indescribable state of filth, and fowl and goat excreta were all over the place.”

The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950) Wednesday 31 March 1915 p8

999 Charles Street is located near the intersection where Charles Street transforms into Wanneroo road. For fairly obvious reasons there is nothing remaining of “Ararat” today.

Drewy went on to have the the letter his son sent him on the Galipoli landings published in the local paper:

WITH THE AUSTRALIANS.
PERTH SOLDIER’S NARRATIVE.
EPISODES AFTER THE LANDING.

An interesting sketch of the landing of the Australian troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and the early fighting, is given in a letter received by Mr. A. Dyson, of West Perth, from his son, who at the date of writing was lying at a hospital in Heliopolis, recovering from the effects of drinking water poisoned by the Turks Mr. Dyson, junr. writing on May 10, and speaking of the events after the arrival of the Australians at Lemnos, from Mena Camp in Egypt, says:—

“A week after we arrived, about 40 British and French transports came, and we thought things were starting to get very close for a move. A few days afterwards the Royal Marines left, to have a try at landing, and very likely you have read how they got cut up, losing very heavily. Some French troops and the Royal Marines and the rest of the troops left the island, but where they were going we did not know. That left only the 3rd Brigade of Australians, and we remained there for seven weeks. That seven weeks dragged very slowly, and we got tired of waiting, saying that we would never get to the front or see any fighting. But little we knew that in a day or two we were going to get
All the Fighting we Wanted.

Troopships began to arrive again, until there were about 100 in harbour. One day our colonel called the battalion together on the ship, and told us that we would very shortly be going aboard the battleship — as a covering force for the rest of the army. He said it was a great honour for us. It turned out that A and C Companies of each of the four battalions in our 3rd Brigade had to go as advance guard to the covering force, and the other two companies were to come along on destroyers about an hour later. At 2 o’clock we left the Suffolk on destroyers, and from the destroyers we went on board the warship mentioned, and an hour or so later we steamed out of the harbour. We could hear the rest of the transports cheering us until we got outside. The blue jackets would give us anything, and they loaded us up with tobacco and ribbons of their caps and I do believe they would have given us the ship if we had wanted it. A big bowl of tea was served to us at 4.30 p.m., and at 5.30 p.m. we had our proper tea, another big bowl of tea, and an apple pie. We did not half touch the pie! We had not seen anything like it for months. After tea we had a smoke and a chat, and we were were then told to turn in, and get a little sleep, as we had to be up at 12.30. All this time the four British battleships with the half of our brigade were steaming round and about, waiting for the time of landing. It is only a two or three hours’ run to the Dardanelles from Lemnos.

At one o’clock, on Sunday morning, April 25, we had a meal, a big sea pie and a basin of cocoa, and we then fell in on the quarter deck, to receive our last instructions which were to fix bayonets as soon as we touched the beach, and not to load our rifles. At 3 o’clock in the morning we got over the side in the small cutters, and they started to tow us about, while the battleships moved closer in to the land. When the ships were drawing up in battle order we started for the shore, about 12 pinnaces in all. We could not see anything, or hear anything, and, by the way, I might tell you that I was in charge of a box of ammunition, and that I was perched in the
Bow of the Boat,
head and shoulders above everybody else, except the steersman. We saw a big hill loom up in front of us, and we were about in the middle of it. You could just see the dawn breaking at the back of it, and at this time we were about 200 yards off. All of a sudden two shots ran out, and two bullets pinged over our head. They must have been from the Turkish sentries. It all happened quicker than I can write it. After the two shots there was about one minute’s dreadful suspense, and then, my God, machine guns and rifles started, and I was perched in the bow of the boat. The steam pinnace cut us loose, and told us to row for our lives to the beach. Then we found we were 100 yards out of our course, and we had to row that distance along the beach under that awful fire. By this time I had taken what cover I could behind the ammunition box. The boat grated on the beach, and I was the first to get out, and I went in up to my neck in water. The language was awful, I can only say that. I fixed my bayonet and charged up the hill, and I do not know what I did or anything that happened until we formed upon the ridge, about a mile and a half inland, at 9 o’clock. They say that between 20,000 and 30,000 Turks were holding the hill, and 2,000 of the 3rd Brigade took it and another ridge at the point of the bayonet. I do believe that we would have gone right across the peninsula if we had not struck the Turkish supports and been forced to retire to a position on the ridge. We entrenched ourselves there, and
The Devil Himself
will not be able to shift us. The other troops are landing every day. Our wounded to date number 6,000, and it is reported from Turkey that their wounded number 30,000. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the Turks kept counter-attacking continually, but they could not shift us. We have ‘dug-outs’ in the trenches, so that we can get out of the road when the shrapnel begins to fly. It is funny. We will perhaps be sitting down in the bottom of the trench when somebody, it may be one of the officers, will yell out, ‘Bob down, you’re spotted,’ and then there will be one dive for these holes, and I can tell you that we don’t waste much time getting down. It is natural to bob and swear when one misses you. Snipers are very bad here. A man walks down the gullies, and he has a good chance of catching a bullet in the back of the head, and when a sniper hits you he either kills you outright or else gives you a serious wound. On going with others one day to reinforce one of the flanks, I had nearly reached the top, when they started to
Pour the Shrapnel Into Us.
A staff officer and myself had to lie down in a bit of a gully, and I was flat up against the side, clinging on by a couple of roots about 2in. long. About 6in. above my head was a little bramble, about 18in. high, and along came a shrapnel shell and took the whole of that bramble away. The staff officer remarked that it was getting a little hot, and I agreed with him. At daybreak one morning the Turks attacked us, and we gave it to them hot. We could see them coming up, and each man would pick his mark, and you could see the poor devil spring in the air, throw up his hands, and then drop like a stone. It did not need more than one bullet per man. They will not face the bayonet in daytime. They advance on us trying to get us to come out and meet them, but we never have any of it. Their idea is to get us to come out, and then they would open out to each flank and turn machine guns on us. Instead, we let them get
Within 50 Yards Or So,
and we turn machine guns and rifles on them. Things get very busy at night time. One of our chaps caught a sniper and shot and bayoneted him. I didn’t think my life was worth sixpence on the Sunday and Monday. We had a good view of our ‘Queen Lizzy’ dropping her 15-inch shells among the Turks. When they would land among the ‘Turks we could see pieces of humanity flying hundreds of feet in the air. I was in the trenches for eight days, and then came down to the beach to get a drink of water. Coming down the gully, I saw a pool of water and had a drink. That was the end of me. I was in the hospital the next day and in a few days afterwards I was sent aboard the hospital ship and brought back to Cairo.
The Turks had Poisoned the Water.
Two chaps died of it on the trip, but in another week I will be back and at it again. One night a German officer was leading a charge against us and he yelled out to us, ‘Come along, you kangaroo hopping ——. We will give you all the fight you want.’ He did not speak an other word, and when we found him he had thirty or forty bullets in him. I could tell you hundreds of things like this, but I must leave them till later on.”
[…]

The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954) Monday 21 June 1915 p8

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