Skip to main content

One crowded hour of glorious life

A rare first-person account by a private soldier of the fighting at Gallipoli is now available in a modern, annotated edition.

Charles Watkins served with a territorial battalion, the 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers, at Gallipoli in 1915. Lost Endeavour tells how the ‘fish-and-chip’ civilian soldiers were transformed into hard-baked ‘old sweats’ at Helles.

“In perpetrating this literary outrage, some apology is due,” wrote Watkins.

I could give many plausible excuses for recording moments of this disastrous campaign, but the real truth is the selfish pleasure I find in recalling one crowded hour of glorious life.

Lost Endeavour was first published for ‘limited and private circulation’ in 1970, then again in 1982. However, copies remain scarce and Watkins deserves a larger audience. His idiosyncratic account of soldiering at Gallipoli is at turns tragic, fanciful, funny and rude.

“Sometimes a personal experience book transcends its author’s occasionally wobbly memory and literary fancies,” says historian and author Peter Hart. “The writing can be so vivid that it opens a door to understandingwhat it was like.’ Lost Endeavour by Charles Watkins does just that.”

“It brings the life of a private soldier at Gallipoli into sharp focus — the unceasing danger and the terrible privations they endured day after day, week after week and month after month. In this, it is unbeatable.”

The editors, Michael Crane and Bernard de Broglio, have supplemented Watkins’ original manuscript with a biography of the author, and notes on people, places and events mentioned in the text.

The editors also provide detail on the 1/6th Lancs Fusiliers at Helles, including the battalion’s establishment, drafts and battle casualties, a timeline for May to December 1915, and a Gallipoli roll of honour.

Readers will also find reproduced a contemporary narrative by George Bigwood of the battalion at Gallipoli, and articles written by Watkins for the journal of the Gallipoli Association in the 1970s.

Available now

Lost Endeavour: A survivor’s account of the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign is available now from Amazon in your territory.

If you purchase from Amazon, please leave a review. It’s a big help!

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking these links. There is no cost to you.

Read more at (Opens in a new window).