"At a mile distant their thousand hooves were stuttering thunder, coming at a rate that frightened a man - they were an awe inspiring sight, galloping through the red haze - knee to knee and horse to horse - the dying sun glinting on bayonet points..." Trooper Ion Idriess
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The Nek, Gallipoli, 7 August 1915, The Chronology Topic: BatzG - Nek
Gallipoli, 7 August 1915
4.23 - the "joke" of a bombardment ends.
4.28 - Turks clearly seen manning the parapets of the trenches and machine gun ranged.
4.29 – The men in the first line already know they are in for a tough time.
4.30 – The whistle blows and 150 men of the 8th Light Horse Regiment, led by Colonel White, climb out of the trenches and charge across the Nek.
4.35 – 150 men lay dead or wounded within 30 metres of the trench. Three men made it to the Turkish trench only to die there. An observer spots a location flag in Turkish trenches and reports this to Antill. The whistle blows and a further 150 men climb out of their trench.
4.40 – 150 more men lay dead or wounded. Colonel Brazier, commander of the 10th Light Horse Regiment argues with Antill about sending the next line out. Antill orders Brazier to send out the third line.
4.45 - Trooper Harold Rush, 10th Light Horse Regiment, says to his friend as both men shake hands: “Goodbye Cobber. God bless you." He died a minute later.
The whistle blows and a 150 men from the 10th Light Horse Regiment climb out of their trench.
4.50 – 150 more men lay dead, wounded or pretending to be dead.
5.15 - The 4th line of the attack is called off but some troops misunderstand this direction and charge.
5.20 – 234 dead and wounded from the 8th LHR and 138 from the 10th LHR lay on the blood soaked ground of the Nek. Any movement of the wounded men brought Turkish machine gun fire to bear on the person. Some of the wounded were able to crawl back into the trenches. Others who had been lucky and not injured made their way as best as possible. For the rest, their lot was a miserable day in the sun without any hope of relief until the evening.
The Nek, Turkey, August 7, 1915, Outline Topic: BatzG - Nek
Turkey, 7 August 1915
Scene from Baby 700 to Russell's Top illustrating the Nek from the Ottoman point of view.
The Nek, a narrow saddle running east-west between the ridgeline known as Russell's Top and Baby 700 - the strongest position at Anzac (q.v.) - which was the scene of a tragic assault on 7 August 1915 by Australian light horsemen fighting as infantry. Passage over this strip of ground was barred by opposing Turkish and Australian trenches, which faced each other at distances varying from 20 to 60 metres; the edges of both firing lines fell away at each side to the valley floor 150 metres below. Rebind the Turkish front-line, moreover, were right more trenches rising in tiers to the Summit of Baby 700, so that annihilating lire could be brought to bear upon any movement not just from rifles but no fewer than five groups of machine-guns.
The direction of the charge at the Nek, 7 August 1915.
In ordering a feint to be launched here at dawn the day after Lone Pine (q.v.), aimed at ensuring that Turkish attention continued to he focused on the main Anzac position rather than on activities underway further north (see Hill 971), British commanders were not unmindful of the futility of attacking 'unaided'. The assault was therefore planned to proceed only after supporting movements had taken place, designed to silence some of the enemy machine-guns or draw off fire while the attack went in. In the event, these other operations either failed or were delayed, so that at the time designated for the attempt the 3rd Light Horse Brigade received no relief from any of them.
To make matters worse, an intense artillery barrage that was to begin half an hour before the troops attacked at 4.30 a.m. was mistimed due to the synchronisation of watches having been overlooked. The barrage ended seven minutes earlier than expected, and the Turks were given ample opportunity to recover and re-occupy their parapets. Accordingly, when the first assault line of 150 men rose to the attack-the ground being so narrow that there was no room for more-most fell dead or wounded before they had covered ten metres under the withering fire directed at them. Three more waves were sent forward at intervals and each met the same fate. Since no-one in the later assault lines can have doubted the outcome, there were poignant scenes as men farewelled each other while they waited for the order to attack.
By 5.15 a.m. some 300 men of the 8th and 10th Light Horse regiments lay in a huddled mass within an area no larger than a tennis court. In the words of the Official History:
At first here and there a man raised his arm to the sky, or tried to drink from his water bottle. But as the sun of that burning day climbed higher, such movement ceased. Over the whole summit the figures lay still in the quivering heat.
At most, the bold display by the light horsemen at the Nek may have impeded for a few hours - but did not prevent - the transfer of Turkish reinforcements towards Chunuk Bair, where the New Zealanders were also engaged in a desperate struggle.
Picture taken from Russell Top trenches overlooking the Nek soon after the charge.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, pp. 108-109.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
C.E.W. Bean, (1924), The Story of Anzac, Vol. 2 , Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
Peter Burness, (1996), The Nek, Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press
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