NO ONE can know the thoughts that were running through the head of Sergeant Joseph Stratford on April 25th, 1915, as his boat crept slowly towards the Turkish Coast.
It had been pitch black when Sgt Stratford set off from H.M.S. Beagle at 3.30am in tows with other soldiers from the 9th Battalion.
A thick sea mist clung to the black water and the men were soon chilled to the bone.
By 4am, the first glow of dawn would have allowed Sgt Stratford to distinguish between the ANZAC Cove hills and the sky.
Landfall was just 10 minutes away, and Sgt Stratford was one of the closest to shore.
As the first of the fleet neared the shore, witnesses say they saw Sgt Stratford jump out and land waist-deep in the water, making him the first soldier ashore.
In an article published in the Northern Star on April 25, 1933, Mr. N. Parker, who was also at the forefront of the Gallipoli landing, said he saw Sgt Stratford in the third boat, "leap out and into the water while it was still waist high".
Returned Victorian soldier Private Studley Gahan also claimed Sgt. Stratford was the first man to set foot on the Gallipoli battlefield.
"Joe Stratford was the first of Australia's troops ashore at Gallipoli, Lieut Jones was second, and I was third," he was quoted in the Northern Star on November 2, 1916.
In correspondence from 1915 published on the Australian War Memorial website, Sgt Stratford "in the advance he threw himself on a machine gun and was ridlled (sic) with bullets."
An article published in an Australian paper not long after the battle, gave a recount of Sgt Stratford's death and said he had been recommended for the V.C. and that he was the first man to land on the Peninsula.
Sgt Stratford was born at Coffee Camp in the Northern Rivers on June 30, 1882.
After school he joined the Scottish Rifles and rose to the rank of sergeant before leaving Lismore in 1906 to work on North Queensland canefields.
In 1914, he enlisted for service in Brisbane. Sgt Stratford was described as a tall, big man, with a fair complexion, weighing about 76kg
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