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The Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, Bean's Account, Part 1 Topic: BatzG - Anzac
The Battle of Anzac Cove
Gallipoli, 25 April 1915
Bean's Account, Part 1
A Field Ambulance Section landing at Anzac.
The following is an extract from Bean, CEW, The Story of Anzac: the first phase, (11th edition, 1941), pp. 245 - 280.
THE LANDING AT GABA TEPE
By 8 pm on Saturday, April 24th, the four transports of the 3rd Brigade were close under the island of Imbros. Night had fallen an hour before. All the afternoon they had been sailing through a perfect sea. As they neared Imbros the first preparations were made on board. Thus in the Devanha, carrying a company and the headquarters of the 12th Battalion, the men had a meal at 5 o’clock, and immediately afterwards, before dark, everyone was brought on deck and put in his proper place. As the transports moved easily through the evening sea and neared the rugged slopes of Im bros, the junior officers inspected their platoons. Their duty was to see that each man had two empty sandbags rolled round his entrenching tool; that the pouches of his equipment were filled with 200 rounds of ammunition; that the heavy packs, crammed with the soldier’s simple wardrobe, were fastened over the shoulders with two loops in such a way that they could be thrown off immediately if a boat were sunk; that the magazines of rifles were empty - no shots were to be fired before daylight; that water bottles were filled; and that each man carried, tied behind him, the two little white bags which contained two extra days’ rations (a tin of bully beef, a small tin of tea and sugar, and a number of very hard coarse biscuits in each bag). They had tried to stain these white bags by boiling them in tea, coffee, and cocoa, but though the tea was black, the bags came out nearly white. As each man was inspected, he was ordered to put his kit down where he could find it in the dark.
By 6 p.m. the inspection was over. The men were told that they could rest till eleven, and the old Colonel (Clarke) suggested to his officers: “You fellows had better go and have a sleep.”
The Colonel himself lay down in a cabin put at his disposal by the ship’s captain. Presently Lieutenant Margetts, a young master of the Hutchins School, Hobart, crept in to see if the “old man” needed any service. The cabin was dark, and he thought his chief was sleeping. But, as he looked in, the Colonel said: “Margetts, are the men all right?”
Margetts climbed on deck and walked round among the dark forms. The transports were now anchored off Kephalos harbour, at the eastern end of Imbros. At 11 p.m. the order was given to get the troops into the destroyers, which crept up on either side of their respective transports.
The two companies of the 9th Battalion in the Malda clambered into the Beagle and Colne; the two of the 10th from the Ionian into the Scourge and Foxhound; the two of the 11th from the Suffolk into the Chelmer and Usk. As the Devanha carried only one company of the 12th and some medical officers, stretcher-bearers and others of the 3rd Field Ambulance, only one destroyer. the Ribble, came alongside her. The night was so still that the Devanha’s captain ordered: “Lower gangway.” Down this the troops filed on to the destroyer’s deck in half the time that had been required with the rope ladders on which they had practised for nearly two months. Five minutes before midnight the Ribble, with her decks crowded, and towing behind her the Devanha’s empty rowing-boats, left the transport. The dark shape of the ship faded slowly behind. The destroyer came up with the six others, all similarly loaded, motionless on the water.
Not a glimmer showed on deck: only the moonlight shone faintly through the clouds on the crowded men and on the silken sea. Lieutenant-Commander Wilkinson of the Ribble leant over the bridge and said to the men below: “You fellows can smoke and talk quietly. But I expect all lights to be put out and absolute silence to be kept when I give the order.” In the interior of the destroyer, on the mess-deck, where the men who were to land in the second tow were waiting, two old sailors were carrying cocoa to the troops. Down in the tiny wardroom, where shone a solitary light, Colonel Clarke, who commanded the 12th. Lieutenant-Colonel Hawley, his second- in-command, Major Elliott, Lieutenant Margetts, and the adjutant sat over a cup of cocoa.
The seven destroyers had begun to move slowly, barely making headway. After two or three miles they stopped again, waiting for the moon to sink. Unseen, but not far ahead of them, were the three battleships carrying the first half of the 9th, 10th, and 11th Battalions, which would be first landed. These men, sleeping on the battleships’ mess-decks, from which the crews had turned out in order to give them the chance of a rest, were called at midnight. A cup of hot cocoa provided by the ship was given to them. At 1 a.m. the ships were stopped on the sea between Imbros and the Peninsula. The moon was still high, and the shape of land was at times visible to the east. The hulls of the battleships lying near one another on the water, motionless, were difficult to pick out except through glasses. They had all swung out their boats, and those of the three “covering” ships, which carried no troops, the Triumph, Majestic, and Bacchante, were sent alongside the Queen, Prince of Wales, and London, which were the troop-carriers. Twelve rowing-boats were brought alongside each of these three vessels. These were made up into four tows of three boats, each three being towed by one of the warships’ small steamboats. Thus two tows lay on either side of each transporting battleship, and into these the troops climbed quietly down rope ladders. The only sound was the shuffle of the men’s heavy equipment or the occasional grounding of a rifle butt. Many a naval officer noticed how silent and orderly, now that it had come to business, were these troops whose name had terrified Cairo. By 2.35 a.m. the rowing-boats were full, and dropped back in long strings behind the battleships. At 2.53, the moon being now very low, the ships moved slowly ahead, towing the boats behind them. Some of the destroyers, closing a few minutes later, passed the shapes of big ships with strings of boats behind. At 3 o’clock the moon sank and the night became intensely dark.
At 3.30 the battleships stopped, and the order was given to the tows to go ahead and land. The small steamboats behind the battleships cast off, each with its tow of three ships’ boats behind. As the hawsers took the strain, the boats began to leap and race. The tows were to form all twelve in line and then make for the beach: the direction was to be given by the naval officer in charge of the starboard or southernmost tow; the other tows were to keep abreast of him, with about 150 yards’ interval between each one and the next.
There was some difficulty in getting into line. The night was so black that it was often impossible to see the next tow on either side, much more the whole line of them. Some of the tows appear to have sandwiched themselves into a wrong place in the line. But there could be no waiting or indecision. The battleships were coming on slowly behind. The small steamboats raced due east, the rowing-boats behind them. In each boat were from thirty to forty soldiers, four seamen, and a coxswain. In the steamboat ahead of each tow, which carried no troops, was a naval officer, with a senior officer to every four steamboats; in the last rowing-boat of each tow was a midshipman. The men, with their heavy packs and their kit hanging loosely on their shoulders, were crowded in the boats, the seamen among them ready to cast loose the tow rope and get out the oars. The senior company officers in some cases sat beside the midshipman at the tiller of the last boat. There was no sound, save the swift plunge and wash of the boats and the throbbing of the small engines. Suddenly, on the horizon ahead of the boats, a faint hazy band of white light shot into the sky, moved restlessly for half a minute, and vanished. It was a searchlight. For one instant the hearts of the few officers who noticed it flew to their throats. Could it be on Gaba Tepe? The anxiety passed. Low on the horizon in front of the light there showed a dark irregular shape which could only be a line of intervening land. The searchlight was in the straits beyond the Peninsula. A second ray shot out lower down the straits, flickered for a moment, and faded.
Half an hour after the ships had been left, the first faint signs of dawn began to show ahead of the boats.
About that moment orders were received by the seven destroyers, waiting in the dark behind the battleships, to follow the tows towards the land. In the Ribble Commander Wilkinson leaned over the bridge and said: “Lights out, men, and stop talking. We’re going in now.” The speed increased; the destroyer began to throb. Immediately afterwards she passed close by the dark shape of a large warship. The men in the Ribble could see all seven destroyers, now in line, moving swiftly in.
In the twelve small tows ahead it was still too dark to make out any but the nearest abreast. Under the sky could be seen, definitely for the first time since the set of the moon, the dark shape of land. Every brain in the boats was throbbing with the intense anxiety of the moment: “Will the landing be a surprise, or have we been seen?” As the dull line of the land rose higher and higher above the nose of the boats, the suspense was almost unbearable. The panting of each steamboat seemed to those behind it a noise to rouse the dead. Surely, if there were men on the shore, they must presently hear it! Yet the land gave no sign of life.
The naval officer in charge of the right-hand tow was to have given the direction, but it was too dark to see at times even the string of boats next abeam. His own seems to have gone straight enough, but the second or third to the north of it took a course diverging gradually to the left. Commander Dix, who was in charge of the flotilla, was in the northernmost, with part of the 11th Battalion. Several times after leaving the London he appeared to find the steam- boat on his right too close, for he called out to keep more to starboard. The naval officer in the southernmost found that the whole line, except the tow next to him, was heading for a different part of the shore. The course he was taking would land himself and his next neighbour isolated on the beach north of Gaba Tepe. Accordingly he swung his steam- boat to the left, which would bring it across the bows of the others. The naval men appeared to see far better in the dark than did the troops, for, as the land drew closer, one after another picked up this movement, swung several hundred yards northward, and then straightened again.
There was still no sign of any sort from the shore. The water was as smooth as satin - a gloriously cool, peaceful night. In one of the central tows, carrying the 10th Battalion, the steamboat had already cast off the rowing-boats. Only the soft dip of the muffled oars in the water broke the silence. They were forty or fifty yards from the shore. “There’s no sound,” whispered Colonel Weir to the officer beside him.
The eleven other tows must have been very close, hut they could not be seen by one another. The northernmost had swung to the left and then back again, nearly colliding.
About this moment from the funnel of one of the northern most steamboats there flared out a trail of flame. Special instructions had been given to the crews to prevent this occurrence, but it is not easily avoided. Three full feet of sparks and flame continued to trail for twenty or thirty seconds. A high plateau of land was above the boats at this moment, with a round jutting knoll, 200 feet high, at the foot of it. It was Ari Burnu point.
The voice of Commander Dix broke the silence. “Tell the colonel.” he shouted, “that the dam’ fools have taken us a mile too far north.”
Just then - at 4.29 a.m. - on the summit of another and rather lower knoll a thousand yards south there flashed a bright yellow light. It was seen by almost everyone in the boats: some took it for a signal lamp; others for a bright flare of shavings or a small bonfire. It glowed for half a minute and then went out.
There was deathlike silence for a moment. Then suddenly: “Look at that!” said Captain Leane in one of the northernmost boats. The figure of a man was on the skyline of the plateau above them. A voice called on the land. From the top of Ari Burnu a rifle flashed. A bullet whizzed overhead and plunged into the sea. A second or two of silence …. four or five shots as if from a sentry group. Another pause-then a scattered, irregular fire growing very fast. They were discovered. After the tension of the last half-hour the discovery brought a blessed relief.
At this moment the twelve tows were very close together, running in to the foot of the Ari Burnu knoll. The knoll juts out in a small cape, and the boats of the 9th and 10th Battalions, striking the point of this, were the first to reach the land. The 11th Battalion ran past the north of it a little further before arriving at the beach. The naval steamboats had now cast off all the tows. Each steamboat carried a machine-gun in her bows, not to be used except by order of the senior officer of the troops in the tow. The picket-boat, with Major Salisbury’s tow of the 9th Battalion, immediately backed out and began to fire, her small gun pointing up towards the flashes on the edge of the plateau above. The rowing-boats with the troops were paddling the last short space to the land. The smaller life-boats and cutters ran in till the water shoaled to two or three feet. The larger “launches” and “pinnaces” grounded in deeper water, whereupon the men tumbled over the bows or the sides, often falling on the slippery stones, so that it was hard to say who was hit and who was not. Most were up to their thighs in water; some, who dropped off near the stern of the larger boats, were immersed to their chests. Others, barely noticed in the rush, slipped into water too deep for them. The heavy kit which a man carried would sink him like a stone. Some were grabbed by a comrade who happened to observe them; one was hung up by his kit on a rowlock until someone noticed him; a few were almost certainly drowned.
It was at 4.30 a.m. on Sunday, April 25th, half an hour before the opening of the British bombardment of Cape Helles, that the Australians landed at Ari Burnu. The first bullets were striking sparks out of the shingle as the first boatloads reached the shore. Three boats near the point had become so locked that only those on the outside could use their oars. One of these, containing men of the 9th Battalion and Captain Graham Butler, their medical officer, and a boat of the 10th Battalion, with Lieutenant Talbot Smith and the scouts of the battalion, were among the first on the point. In many cases the men had been told that they would have to run across ten or fifteen yards of sand, line a low cliff four or five feet high, drop their packs and form up, and then rush across 200 yards of open to the first hill. They raced across the sand, the bullets striking sparks at their feet, and flung themselves down, as instructed, in the shelter of the sandy bank - which in some places amounted to a low cliff - where the hillside ended and the beach began.
The fire was increasing fast. A machine-gun was barking from some fold in the dark steeps north of the knoll; another was on the knoll itself or on the edge of the plateau above and behind it. The seaman who, as if he had been landing a pleasure party, was handing Captain Butler his satchel out of the boat, fell back shot through the head. In the tows of the 11th Battalion, which were to the north of the point and had still 200 yards of water to cross before they touched the beach, bullet after bullet was splintering the boats or thudding into their crowded freight. Every now and then a man slid to the bottom of the boat with a sharp moan or low gurgling cry. The troops and the seamen crouched as close and as low as they could, with their backs hunched. Occasionally some heavier missile, as from a small Hotchkiss gun, splashed heavily into the surface of the sea. In one boat an oar was splintered, and a corporal tried to sound the depth with it. The water, by its colour, was shoaling fast. A “tag” was current in the 11th Battalion, based on the statement of a sergeant, that bullets made a noise like small birds passing overhead. At this crisis Private “Combo” Smith, of the 11th Battalion, set one whole boat laughing by looking at the sky and remarking to “Snowy” Howe: “Just like little birds, ain’t they, Snow?” The last rowing-boat in each tow had been placed in charge of a midshipman. To the naval folk these youngsters were officers, but to the Australian soldier they were children. Amidst all this heavy firing, when boatload after boatload moved in huddled and helpless, unable to reply, officers and men saw these boys sitting, sometimes standing. high in the stem beside the tiller. In more than one case the Australian officer in the boat bore the brave figure of that child in his mind to help him in the wild hours which followed. The midshipman beside Major Drake Brockman, of the 11th Battalion, in the second tow from the left, was a small red-headed slip of a boy. As the boat's nose grated on the shore, he pulled out a heavy revolver and clambered over the backs of the men, waving the pistol and shouting in his young treble: "Come on, my lads! Come on, my lads!" After running across the beach he mournfully pulled himself up, as he realised that his duty was to go back with his launch.
The boats of the 11th Battalion hit the shore 200 or 300 yards north of the point of Ari Burnu. Those of the 9th struck the point itself or its southern shoulder, and some of the 10th landed just south of it. From every boat the men doubled across the sand and took breath under the bank, whither also the wounded from the boats were hauled. Many were fixing their bayonets as they ran across the shingle. In other cases the officers or sergeants, as they and their men lay under the bank, gave the orders to strip packs - load the magazines with five or ten rounds - close the cut-off - pull back safety catches. No shots were to be fired till daylight
[From: Bean, p. 255.]
The men were ashore and mostly alive, but the place was clearly the wrong one. Anyone who depended upon a set plan for the next move was completely bewildered. It had been hoped that the halt under the sandy bank would be long enough to allow all the companies to land, form, and carry out an organised attack across the open against the first ridge.
But there was no open. Some officers thought that the knoll of Ari Burnu was Gaba Tepe itself. A high rugged slope pressed down on to the beach. A fierce rifle-fire swept over the men. They had been landed in the dark on an utterly different coast, and were lying in little parties of boatloads and platoons out of sight of most of their comrades, their clothes heavy with water, and their rifles choked with sand. In consequence of the swing of the southernmost tows, those who should have formed the right of the 9th were mixed up with the right of the 10th. Above some of the 9th, immediately south of the point, the bank was so high and steep that those who tried to clamber up it slipped back.
Something was clearly wrong. Everything seemed wrong. The 9th and 10th, on the point itself and on its southern bend were fairly protected from rifle-fire. Many of the Turks were shooting at the destroyers further out; but north of the point where the 11th landed, a machine-gun in the foothills 500 yards to their left was shooting into the men behind the bank, and the grassy tussocks on the sand slope above it gave no better protection. As Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston and Corporal Louch lay there side by side, a bullet thudded into the sand between them. The country was unrecognisable. They had not the least idea as to whether the other tows had yet landed.
“What are we to do next, sir?” somebody asked of a senior officer. “I don’t know, I’m sure,” was the reply. “Everything is in a terrible muddle.”
But every authority, from Sir Ian Hamilton and General Birdwood down, had dinned into the troops: “You must go forward - you are the covering force. You must get on, whatever the opposition.” There was a proportion of men and officers who barely waited to throw off their packs. Captain Leane and the men with him did not even charge their magazines. There was no time for that. They dropped their packs, and went straight into the scrub and up the steepening slopes. On the tip of Ari Burnu Point Lieutenant Talbot Smith with the scouts of the 10th Battalion, thirty-two in number, had struck the shore just after the first shot was fired. “Come on, boys,” he cried, “they can’t hit you!” He had told them to leave their packs in the boat.
Smith had lectured his small flock in one of the gun casemates of the Prince of Wales at 10 o’clock the night before drawing sketches for them on the breech of the 6-in. gun. Their task was to hurry on and catch the Turkish battery near the objective ridge, and he had requested one of the ship’s gunners to show them how to damage a gun by burring the screw in the breech. He now ran across the beach, climbed a short way up the slope, and turned: “10th Battalion scouts,” he shouted, “are you ready?” He then led them straight up the height, while the Turks above were firing over their heads. From the left-hand edge of the plateau above could be seen the flash of a machine-gun. They made up the hill towards it. There was no opportunity for subtle co-ordination such as had been planned. The scouts or the more adventurous spirits started first. A certain proportion of the 9th and 10th, who were dropping their packs under the bank on the southern bend of the point, clambered uphill on the word being given by Colonel Weir. Others saw the forms of these men moving in the dark, and set off with them. The result was that a few minutes after the landing, a rough line about six companies strong began the difficult ascent. Any idea of keeping touch or formation during this climb was out of the question. At the very start, on the southern bend of the point where Major J. C. Robertson and part of the 9th landed, they were faced by a steep bank as high as the wall of a room. They endeavoured to climb it, but slipped back. Then someone found a rough foot-track leading round it, and up this they clambered on to the scrubby knoll. The scrub was mostly composed of small stout bushes of prickly oak, waist high, leaved like a diminutive holly, or else of a taller “arbutus” with naked orange stems and leaves like those of a laurel. Later, when the light increased, every hillside in this part of the Peninsula had the appearance of being covered with gorse. The growth was stubborn, and, in the steep gravelly waterways with which the hillside was scored, it was as much as a strong man could do to fight his way through it, to say nothing of carrying his heavy kit and rifle. Men grasped the arbutus roots and hauled themselves up by them, sometimes digging their bayonets into the ground and pushing themselves up to a foothold. As they climbed higher towards the plateau, the sides became steeper, until they were nearly precipitous. The men of the Navy, watching the troops flinging themselves like cats up the hillside, carried back the story of it glowing to the ships.
Ari Burnu Knoll, jutting from the foot of the plateau, was less steep than the sides of the plateau itself. Within 1 minute or two the men were reaching the top, where a small square machine-gun post had been sunk, with beams as if to support a roof. From this post a trench ran back along the neck, connecting the knoll with the side of the plateau. The Turks had not erected any obstruction of barbed wire in front of this trench, or of any other met with by the Australians that day, and they were bolting from the top of the knoll before the Australians reached it. In the trench lay a wounded Turk. Captain Graham Butler, medical officer of the 9th Battalion, stopped to attend to him; the line was scrambling up the hill ahead.
Those of the 11th Battalion who were lying under the bank north of Ari Burnu, under a heavy fire from the left, were out of sight and touch with the men whom Colonel Weir and others had started on their rush. But presently they perceived the figures of men climbing up the knoll above the point. They took these to be the 9th and 10th Battalions, landed to the south of them, and they too started inland up the slopes north of the point, which led to the same plateau. The hill grew steeper. Far above on the skyline they could see the forms of Turks moving. The men had been constantly warned, on the authority of officers with experience of the Kurds and less disciplined Turkish troops, that the Turks mutilated men whom they captured or found wounded, and in these early days the Australians nursed a strong suspicion and hatred of the enemy. Whenever a Turk was “put up” during these early hours of the fight, he was chased with shouts of “Imshi-yalla, you bastard !” “Igri,” “Saida,” and other tags of “Arabic” which were now part of the Australian speech. Half-way up this first hill two Western Australians stumbled on a Turkish trench. A single Turk jumped up like a rabbit, threw away his rifle, and tried to escape. The nearest man could not fire, as his rifle was full of sand. He bayoneted the Turk through his haversack and captured him. “Prisoner here!” they shouted. “Shoot the bastard!” was all the notice they received from others passing up the hill. But, as in every battle he fought, the Australian soldier was more humane in his deeds than in his words. The Turk was sent down to the beach in charge of a wounded man.
On the southern bend of the point, after Weir’s line had started, a certain number of men who had lost touch with their officers were still crouching under the bank, loading their rifles and cleaning them of grit. Bullets from above were whipping in among them, and some of the men were lining the bank and shooting up at the flashes of the Turkish rifles on the skyline. Graham Butler, who had been attending to several wounded men on the beach, saw the futility of this, and the danger to those ahead. He urged these men not to wait to load, but to push on with their bayonets alone; and though he was an older man than most of his comrades, he led them at a swift pace up the hill.
The face of the height was so steep that those who were wounded rolled or slid down it, until caught and supported by some tuft of scrub. Here and there a man hung over a slope so precipitous that Butler, going to his help, had to cut steps in the gravel face with his entrenching tool in order to reach him.
The first men were now reaching the plateau. Talbot Smith and his scouts from the south of the point were climbing neck and neck with the swiftest men of the 11th from its northern side. Ari Burnu Knoll had been left behind and below them, and they had converged on to the sheer side of the plateau. Captains Leane and Annear, and Lieutenants Macdonald and Selby, of the 11th, were beside Talbot Smith and his scouts. Some hint of this line of grim men silently climbing to them in the dim light had reached the Turks, and they were beginning to bolt. The flash of the machine-gun on the top had ceased for some minutes, though a necklace of rifle flashes still fringed the lower crest to the right.
The first Australians clambered out on to the small plateau. A foot or two inwards from its rim was a Turkish trench, from which a few Turks seemed to be running back to the inland verge of the summit 200 yards away. From there a heavy fire still met the Australians appearing over the rim of the plateau, and was sufficient to force the first men to take what cover they could on the seaward edge. They refrained from jumping into the trench, there being a notion among all troops at the beginning of the war that the enemy would leave his trenches mined. But the earth from the Turkish trench had been heaped up, as usual, along its front (or seaward) side, making a parapet a foot high, over which the garrison of the trench could fire. Behind this imperfect cover the leading Australians flung themselves down, while the fire from the other side of the plateau and from the dimly-seen ridge beyond swept fiercely over them. Lieutenant Macdonald of the 9th,lying beside Captain Leane, was wounded in the shoulder. Captain Annear was hit through the head and lay there, the first Australian officer to be killed.
Within a few minutes, as other men reached the plateau, the Turkish fire from its farther side began to slacken. A little to the left of Leane two of the enemy jumped up from the trench and fired down at the approaching men. Batt -batman to Lieutenant Morgan of the 11th - fell wounded. But four or five men who were reaching the summit at that moment made for the Turks, who ran across the small plateau. One was nearly caught, when an Australian stepped from behind a bush and bayoneted him in the shoulder; the other was shot on the farther edge of the summit, where he rolled down a washaway in the steep side and hung, dead, in a crevice of the gravel. Three more Turks sprang up and made for Major Brockman as he reached the top. An Irishman, an old soldier of the Dragoon Guards, killed all three. Major J. C. Robertson, of the 9th, was wounded. The fatal Australian fire from below, which Graham Butler stopped, had been responsible for the loss of at least one brave man. On the very edge of the plateau Sergeant Fowles was grievously wounded by one of the bullets. “I told them,” he said as he lay there dying in the Turkish trench - ‘‘I told them again and again not to open their magazines.”
The plateau, which one small party after another was now reaching at the end of its breathless climb, was a small triangular top with all its sides very steep. From the Turkish trench on its face two communication trenches ran back some 200 yards to the far edge of the hilltop. Later in the day, when these trenches were occupied by New Zealanders and others in reserve, Colonel PIugge of the Auckland Battalion had his headquarters there. The hilltop was accordingly named “Plugge’s” (pronounced Pluggie’s) Plateau.
The troops who followed the bolting Turks across the plateau found themselves suddenly brought up on the verge of a deep valley which ran below them. To the north the valley side was sheer, but further south, where the slope became sufficiently gentle to give a foothold to odd tufts of scrub, a zigzag path led down into it. By the path were three tents, partly screened with dry brushwood. The Turks, scurrying back across the summit, knew this path and dropped down it, while the Australians were checked by the cliff. Below the path and the tents was the gorse-like scrub of the valley, which covered the opposite hills also. The forms of the fugitives could be dimly seen doubling down through the bushes and up a track upon the other side. Several of the men stood on the edge of the plateau firing at them. A constant rifle fire came from the enemy somewhere on the heights across the valley.
A few of the leading men dived straight down the gravel precipice in pursuit. Talbot Smith and his scouts stood for a few moments on the edge. Smith looking at his map. Then they plunged down the path by the three tents to their task of finding the Turkish guns. Lieutenant Fortescue of the 9th, who had lost sight of most of his men in the bushes on the way uphill, “skidded” down the landslide on the farther edge and missed all the rest, except two who happened to slide down the same gutter. But while these first parties were starting to follow the Turks inland, the men of the battleship tows of the 9th, 10th, and part of the 11th, now reaching the plateau, were accompanied by certain active senior officers who were able to give direction even in the complete confusion of the plans. Many belonging to the first six companies, when they reached the first height, had a notion that their work as a covering force was done. After the acute tension in the boats, they arrived on the plateau in bursting spirits. The excitement and surprise at being there and alive, having more than half completed the formidable task which had hung over them for six weeks, drowned all other feelings at the moment. The dim forms of Turks were still running across the lower ridge which formed the southern continuation of the plateau (MacLagan’s Ridge). With a laugh and a shout the men blazed at them. To many the battle was more than half finished, and they naturally waited for directions.
The first ridge inshore was to have been the place for a swift reorganisation. It had been hoped that there would be time for the companies from the destroyers to join those from the battleships at that point. On the northern arid highest corner of the plateau, Brockman, being a senior major of the 11th, was sorting men of the three battalions, sending the 9th to the right, the 10th to the centre, and keeping the 11th on the left. He forbade the men with him to fire at the Turks who were fleeing over the same ridge only a hundred yards or so to their right. The 9th and 10th, clambering over the ridge further south, would deal with them.
Only a portion of the battleship tows of the 11th had reached Plugge’s Plateau. Others, as will presently be told, had made their way into the valley further north. But almost the whole of the battleship parties of the 9th and 10th were now on the plateau. Colonel Weir, with Oldham's and Jacob’s companies of the 10th, reached the plateau more or less together on the right of the 11th. After firing for a few minutes from the summit at the Turks running below, these companies led on into the valley, heading for the path up which the enemy were making.
The two companies of the 9th, which should have been on the right of the 10th, had been mixed up with the 10th and with each other by the swing of the tows. The rush up the hill had disorganised them, though not beyond the possibility of restoring order. But they were without senior officers. Major J. C. Robertson had been hit on reaching the plateau. Major S. B. one of the 9th’s company commanders, found his way with a few of his men to the far left and was killed later in the day on Baby 700. The colonel was not on the plateau.
But the medical officer of the battalion, Graham Butler, had led some of its men up the hill, and its junior major, Alfred George Salisbury, managed to keep his own company and part of Major S. B. Robertson’s fairly well together on the top. Salisbury took charge of the right, and gave Captain Ryde the left. No senior officer was present to order the advance; but when, almost immediately after the main portion of the 10th had plunged into the valley, Salisbury saw the Turks doubling down the same valley to his right, he gave the word to move into the gully after them. For the rest of that day, until the 9th Battalion ceased to exist as a fighting unit, it was this young officer who commanded it.
This left only the 11th, organising under Brockman, at the northern end of Plugge’s. But the second instalment of the covering force was already ashore and making inland. Some of the Turks whom Salisbury saw running away on his right, and those whom Brockman had observed bolting back over Machlagan’s Ridge when he prevented his men from firing at them, were fleeing before the second portion of the landing force-that which was being brought in by the destroyers.
The destroyers, as soon as they received the word to go in and land their troops, had moved swiftly to their work. They were towing the boats of the transports, empty except for the few seamen and soldiers who were to work them as crews. One of the boats beside the Foxhound, containing two seamen and seven men of the 10th Battalion, began to steer wildly. The seaman at the tiller could not control her. She slewed in, then out, and began to tip. Someone shouted: “Pace too fast for Number Two boat!” But it could not slacken. The seaman put the tiller over, and the boat slewed in again close below the destroyer’s side. The ship’s rail was crowded by men of the 10th looking down upon their comrades. The boat tipped inwards, the water washed through it and swept every man clear over the stern except the helmsman, who caught the stern rope and began to crawl back along it into his boat. He had his leg over her side when she swung in again and crushed him against the destroyer. The next instant six or eight seamen had cut clear the overturned boat and hauled in the helmsman, hurt beyond all hope. It was no time to save men; the pace could not even slacken. Lifebelts were thrown over. Some of the men may have been picked up. Those in the transports, already gliding in, looked down curiously at an overturned boat two miles out on the glassy surface.
The destroyers held close in to land, then slowed, and edged about for a moment, 500 yards from the shore. The commander of the Colne shouted to his neighbour through a megaphone to shift southwards, as they were too far north. A flat coast-the point of Suvla Bay-could just be seen to the north, when a bright light appeared ahead; then came a shot and a succession of shots. Far astern, in a fleet of transports moving up four by four unseen through the grey veil of dawn, thousands of watchers also saw that light. “They must be signalling from the shore,” they thought A minute later the faint knocking, as of a wagon’s axlebox heard ever so far through the bush, came to their ears; at first single knocks, then a continuous sound like the boiling of water in a cauldron.
It was some minutes before they realised that it was the sound of desperate fighting in the dark. They could only wait, powerless to help or to discover how their comrades fared.
With the destroyers, as the first shots were fired, the rowing-boats were being hauled alongside for the men to disembark into them. Bullets had begun to fly over, but the high forecastles of the small warships against which they pattered partly shielded the decks. In the Ribble Commander Wilkinson, quiet as ever, gave the order: “Man the boats, men!” A low improvised wooden staging, like the step of a tram, had been fixed round the ship’s side. The men stepped down from this into the boats. A steamboat, returning from the battle ship tows, said: “Can we give you a tow?” and picked up some of the Ribble’s boats. At the first attempt only one boat got away with her. She turned round to pick up some others, and this time the last boat caught in the destroyer’s anchor and the tow-rope carried away. Finally the steamboat made off with the first tow. The destroyers were obliged to wait for the boats to return before they could clear all their troops. The delay seemed ages long. Four men in the Ribble had been hit while they waited; one of these fell forward into the water and his heavy equipment drowned him, despite all the efforts of one of the seamen. Finally the boats began to return one by one. “Here you are; you can get into that,” said Wilkinson to some of the 12th, as a steamboat came alongside with a big barge. “Good-bye and good luck!” cried a naval sub-lieutenant leaning over the side. As he spoke, he fell shot through the head.
The destroyers, like the battleship tows, landed their men north of the intended spot. They did, however, set them ashore in the proper order: 9th on the south, 10th in the middle, 11th to the north, and a portion of the 12th with each. These landing parties were far more widely distributed than the battleship tows. The southernmost destroyer was three-quarters of a mile south of Ari Burnu, the point where the earlier flotilla had landed; the northernmost was 300 yards north of that point. The first tows from each destroyer reached the land while it was still too dark to see a man at fifty yards. The majority came in at points which the battleship tows had not touched. A party of the 10th Battalion, under Lieutenant Loutit, who had three men killed in their boat coming in, and several other boats of the 10th, struck the beach half-way between the two knolls. Flashes of the Turkish rifles were still visible on the edge of the plateau above; there were also, at this part of the shore, Turks on the beach and in the scrub immediately above it who fired at point-blank range as the men landed. The landing effected, these Turks ran up through the scrub, but the Australians could not prevent their escape; their own bayonets were not yet fixed, nor their rifles loaded. As soon as that had been done, this second instalment of the 10th rushed the slope a hundred yards or two south of the first rush. The enemy fleeing before this charge were the same that had been seen by the Australians when reforming on the plateau.
The destroyers carrying the 9th Battalion were the Colne and Beagle. The Colne, with Captain Jackson’s company, after some manoeuvring landed her tows a quarter of a mile south of the 10th, immediately beyond the smaller knoll (Little Ari Burnu, above Hell Spit), close to where the valley behind Plugge’s bent round to the sea. The tows of the Beagle, with Captain Milne’s company, came in a thousand yards to the south of this again, near the big hill which forms the southern side of the same valley - part of the “400
Plateau.” On the first alarm the Turks on Gaba Tepe at once sighted the Beagle, and opened upon her with every rifle and machine-gun. The range was long, but one machine-gun had it accurately. Its shots pattered on the high bows of the destroyer like hail on an iron roof, and the water through which the boats had to move was whipped to spray by bullets. Where Milne’s company landed, the seaward slope of the 400 Plateau ended in a low cliff. There were Turks in cover within sixty yards of the beach, some in the low scrub and some in trenches, firing on the boats. The Australians dumped their packs on the beach, and then rushed the nearest of the enemy. The Queenslanders were strong and fit, and they went swiftly up through the scrub. Half-way to the top, Milne’s company found Jackson’s company already coming across from the north side of the valley to join it.
Jackson’s company, which landed at Little Ari Burnu, had the duty of reaching Gaba Tepe, and on landing it strove to carry out its instructions by charging over Little Ari Burnu and bearing southwards. A desultory rifle fire was coming from the slopes ahead of it. As the company moved down the back of Little Ari Burnu into the valley, it found a small stone hut, in which were half a dozen Turks and a small fire with a pot of coffee upon it. The Turks were bayoneted. The company went on up the slope of the 400 Plateau a few hundred yards away, south of the valley, where it joined Milne’s company. With these were advancing, under Captain Whitham, portions of the 12th Battalion, which had been carried in the southernmost destroyers. From Plugge’s all these troops could be seen, in the growing light, working inland through the scrub along the hill slope.
These companies .from the destroyers had landed twenty minutes after the battleship tows. But the heights above their landing-place were easier than the side of Plugge’s; their path inland was more direct and less precipitous. The result was that Milne’s and Jackson’s companies of the 9th, and some portions of the 10th and 12th, although they were behind Salisbury’s companies in the time of their landing, were slightly ahead of him in making inland.
Leaving these troops beginning their advance on the right, it becomes necessary to turn to the left, or northern, flank of the covering force.
The northernmost of the destroyers, carrying part of the 11th and 12th Battalions and the 3rd Field Ambulance, landed their men on the semicircle of shore north of Ari Burnu, a few hundred yards further north than any of the battleship tows. In front of them a small area of rough ground was shut in by bare yellow precipices rising at 300 yards from the beach. The central cliffs, their gravel worn and fluted by runnels, stood sheer to 400 feet, a few tufts of scrub catching a precarious foothold on their face. The ridge led down to the beach only in two places - at either side of the semicircle - by the steep slopes of Plugge’s on the right, and by a rugged tortuous spur (afterwards known as “Walker’s Ridge”) on the left. Between the two, exactly in the middle of the semicircle of cliffs, there had once been a third spur, but the weather had eaten it away. Its bare gravel face stood out, for all the world like that of a Sphinx, sheer above the middle of the valley. Its feet rested on the scrubby knolls below, and the two semicircles of cliff swept round on either side of it like wings.
It was this place which had struck every observer as impossible of attack. The Turks knew its central precipice as Sari Bair (the Yellow Slope); but the War Oflice map transferred that name to the whole ridge of Koja Chemen Tepe. To the Australians from that day it was the “Sphinx”.
It was on the small semicircle of shore enclosed in this partial amphitheatre - Walker’s Ridge - The Sphinx - Plugge’s Plateau - that the tows from the destroyers carrying part of the 11th and 12th Battalions came to land. The Turks on this northern flank had been thoroughly awakened by the arrival of the battleship tows further south on Ari Burnu a quarter of an hour before. The northward Turks had not been embarrassed by any attack, and were fully prepared and in their trenches. Before the boats left the destroyers, bullets were rattling against the high bows of the warships. The rowing- boats were under heavy fire all the way to the shore; and as the foremost of them reached the land, the first Turkish shells came singing over from Gaba Tepe. An unseen Turkish machine-gun was firing from somewhere on the lower slopes of Walker‘s Ridge or of the foothills north of it, under which were marked on the map the Fishermen’s Huts. Rifle fire was coming from that direction, and also from some trench near the edge of the cliffs by the Sphinx.
Bullet after bullet went home amongst the men in the crowded boats. Here again the figure of a midshipman standing up in the stern of one of the Devanha’s cutters set an example remembered by all who saw it. In another boat, carrying some of Captain Tulloch’s half-company of the 11th Battalion under Lieutenant Jackson, six were hit before reaching the shore, and two more as they clambered from the boat. These two were hurriedly pulled by a third man into the shelter of the bank which bordered the beach. The men rushed across the beach and lay under this bank or in a small creek running down from the slopes south of the Sphinx.
The tows of the 12th Battalion and of the 3rd Field Ambulance from the Ribble touched the shore almost opposite this gutter, under fire at short range. Shots were striking the water. Here a man scrambled out over the stern of a boat, found the water too deep for him, tried to hang on to the boat, and presently dropped off. There the oars of a boat floated away, and Lieutenant of the 12th Battalion waded about endeavouring to pick them up. Colonel Hawley, second-in-command of the 12th, was getting into the water, when he was hit by a bullet in the spine. In the 3rd Field Ambulance three men had been killed and thirteen wounded before they could reach the bank.
The fire from the left was very heavy, even upon those who, further south, were lining the bank of the beach north of Ari Burnu. At this juncture the general order to the troops after gaining the shelter of the bank was to strip packs, leave them under the bank, open cut-offs, load ten rounds, and pull back safety catches. Bullets were whipping in among the men who were sheltering, and, when Colonel Clarke landed from the destroyer, many of the men of the last battleship tow, who had arrived barely ten minutes before, were still there. With them was Captain Peck, adjutant of the 11th Battalion. Peck’s place was with his Battalion Headquarters, but, being unable to find it, he reported to Colonel Clarke of the 12th. Captain Everett, Lieutenants Jackson, Rockliff, and Macfarlane, of the 11th Battalion, and Lieutenant Rumball, of the 10th, were under the bank, and with them a number of men who had been heavily tried in the landing.
“Come on, boys … By God, I’m frightened!” said Peck, and started off inland through the scrub towards the cliffs above. With Rockliff, Macfarlane, and Jackson, he soon outstripped Colonel Clarke, who climbed a scrubby knoll below the Sphinx, and there waited.
The orders to the 12th were to assemble as reserve to the 3rd Brigade at the foot of the 400 Plateau, and send a platoon to escort the mountain battery which was to take up its position early on the top. But the 400 Plateau was a mile south, behind cliffs apparently impenetrable. Clarke waited on the knoll, with the intention of collecting his northern companies, which were coming ashore in relays.
But the transfer from the destroyers was slow. The light was growing. The machine-gun from the left was harassing the boats. After waiting for the second tows, Clarke decided that there was only one thing to do - to push on up the cliffs in front and leave the rest to follow. Lieutenant Rafferty, whose platoon was to have escorted the Indian Mountain Battery on the 400 Plateau, Clarke ordered to move to the left and silence the machine-gun. Rafferty reminded the Colonel that his orders were different. “I can’t help that.” was the reply. Lieutenant Strickland, with a platoon of the 11th. which had landed with the battleship tows, had been ordered to proceed along the edge of the beach and combat the same fire. Rafferty was to work next to him, inland.
One destroyer landed its tows yet further north, in the same enclosed semicircle, but near to the foot of Walker’s Ridge. These carried half a company of the 11th under Captain Tulloch and some of Captain Lalor’s company of the 12th under Lieutenant EY Butler. A machine-gun on some height beyond Walker’s Ridge was playing on them. They therefore sheltered in a creek bed about eight feet deep and thickly timbered, only to find shots coming down it from their flank. In consequence they moved along a goat track leading through holly scrub knee-deep up the foot of Walker’s Ridge. The ridge narrowed, and became steeper and more bare. Shots whizzed past them from above and from the wild tangle of loftier scrub-covered gullies on their left. The file of climbing men dodged from cine side of the ridge to the other, until, far up the spur, it reached a small steep knob, above which the spur dipped for twenty feet and then rose again. To cross this dip every man had to run fifteen yards, completely exposed to fire from Turkish rifles on the higher spurs close to it on the north. After a fight of some sort, Tulloch’s party rushed to a smaller knob on the right, and thence made its way out on to the plateau (afterwards known as Russell’s Top) above the Sphinx.
A little to the right of them, near the far side of the long narrow Top was a line of men - Australians. A white track led along the further edge. A hundred yards from Tulloch, by the side of this track, someone was bending over the body of a dead Australian. The dead man was Colonel Clarke.
It has already been said that, when the second tow from the Ribble landed-some men in it, including Lieutenant Margetts, going neck and shoulders under in the deep water-Clarke decided that he could not wait for the third tow. Margetts, after getting his men to lie down under the bank, caught sight of the Colonel standing on a knoll some distance inland. Clarke saw him and called: “Bring your men up here.” The men came up in single file; officers had learned that their first duty was to find the enemy. Margetts climbed to the Colonel’s side, and scanned the heights for anything to shoot at. It was dull grey dawn. Margetts pulled out his glasses, but the lenses were wet with sea water. He tried to wipe them, but the clothes of all were drenched to the neck. On the flat below at that moment Lieutenant Rafferty, who had been sent with his platoon to silence the machine-gun, was endeavouring to do exactly the same thing. Rafferty tried his handkerchief, and then the tail of his shirt; but both were soaked. Lieutenant Patterson was beside Clarke and Margetts on the knoll. As they could find nothing, the Colonel sent them to attempt with their men the passage of the bare precipice south of the Sphinx. The earth of the landslides at its foot gave some hope of a foothold.
Margetts and Patterson were young and active men - Margetts a schoolmaster, Patterson a Duntroon cadet. Despite their youth and strength, it was all they could do to reach the top, hauling themselves up on hands and knees along a slant south of the Sphinx. Odd parties of the 11th and 12th Battalions were scrambling up these gravelly and almost perpendicular crags by any foothold that offered. Captain Peck had already gone that way with Captain Everett, Lieutenant Rockliff, Lieutenant Jackson, and some of their men, but in the wild country near the Sphinx they became separated. One of this party, Corporal EWD Laing of the 12th Battalion, clambering breathless up the height, came upon an officer almost exhausted half-way up. It was the old Colonel – Clarke - of the 12th Battalion. He was carrying his heavy pack, and could scarcely go further. Laing advised him to throw the pack away, but Clarke was unwilling to lose it, and Laing thereupon carried it himself. The two climbed on together, and Margetts and Patterson, reaching the top, found to their astonishment the Colonel already there.
As the party scrambled to the level of Russell’s Top, they discovered before them a slight rise in the crest, and over the edge of it, to their delight, beheld their first Turk. Near the Sphinx was a trench full of them.
About fifty men had reached the Top. With one leap they all ran forward-Margetts ahead, pulling out his revolver, in the hope of getting there first. The Turks scrambled over the back of their trench and fled. Colonel Clarke shouted from behind: “Steady, you fellows! Get into some sort of formation and clear the bush as you go.” The men did so, forming a rough line with about three paces interval between them. Presently they reached the trench - a straight cut in the ground running across the Top like a neatly-opened drain, with the parapet carefully flattened and covered with dry bushes, which had faded to a shade of pinkish brown. Every trench seen in the hills at this date was constructed in the same manner, and men came gradually to know by bitter experience what was meant by a brown streak through the scrub in front of them. No Turks remained in the trench, and no communication trench led into it. Only a well-worn white track ran off up the narrow Top, winding to the right across a saddle between the valleys on either side, to a long hog-backed slope half a mile away. That slope they soon realised to be the “Baby 700’’ of their objective. The neck between it and the Top has become famous in Australian history as “The Nek.” Over The Nek along this track were bowling the Turks - a string of thirty of them in brown khaki uniforms, their shins muffled in heavy wrappings. Two or three were shot as they ran. The rest presently sank into the scrub about 1,000 raids away on the seaward side of Baby 700 and there made a line. With them was an officer, and every Turk appeared to be jabbering.
Colonel Clarke and his men, making no stop in the trench, moved beyond it to a point near The Nek, where another small track, coming out of the valley on the right, crossed the Top and went steeply down to the valley on the left. The men lay down along this track, Margetts in charge of the left, and Patterson on the right. Across the head of the narrow valley to the right (the same into which the troops looked down from Plugge’s Plateau) there were Turks in the scrub and in trenches firing on them at 350 yards. Colonel Clarke was anxious to send a message to Colonel MacLagan, in command of the covering force, telling him where the 12th Battalion was. He was standing by the track, writing in his message book, when he fell with the pencil in one hand and the book in the other. The Colonel’s batman, who was ready to take the message, fell dead with another bullet. Major Elliott, second-in-command since Hawley had been hit, was called for and came up. He immediately fell shot through the shoulder. Margetts was sent for, but Elliott, lying on the ground, shouted to him: “Don’t come here! It’s too hot !”
Margetts and Patterson had only fifty men. They decided not to advance further at the moment. Presently the fire from the position which the Turks had taken up in the scrub ceased. Possibly Tulloch’s party, seen working up Walker’s Ridge, had scared them. Margetts sent two of his best scouts, Tilley and Vaughan round over the neck to Baby 700 to see if the enemy had gone. The two men could be seen presently signalling back with their arms by “semaphore” that the way was clear. Meantime Lieutenant Burt, of the 12th, had come up with more men, and he decided, according to the rules learnt again and again at Mena. to reorganise those present into platoons and sections under officers or sergeants. They withdrew a little to a hollow on the Top, and there found Tulloch and his men. The two parties reorganized. Officers were told off to take charge of the platoons, and non-commissioned officers to take charge of the sections. The line then went forward at two paces interval.
Russell’s Top narrowed after passing the point where Walker’s Ridge joined it The valley on the left, beyond Walker’s Ridge (later known as Malone’s Gully), came in very rough and steep; the valley on the inland side ran gently to a spoon-shaped head. Between the two, leading to the long back of Baby 700 which rose beyond, the Top narrowed to The Nek. This was about twenty yards wide from slope to slope at the narrowest point. As they approached The Nek, after passing for the second time the cross track on which Colonel Clarke had been killed, Lieutenant Burt told Margetts to stop a little short of The Nek and entrench. At that moment there came up under Captain Lalor another party of the 12th Battalion, which also had climbed the cliffs not far from the Sphinx. They had now about three-quarters of Elliott’s company of the 12th and half of Lalor’s, besides a platoon of Tulloch’s company of the 11th. The 12th was supposed to be in reserve, and Lalor decided that the holding of this marked neck on the left flank of the covering force was too important to justify a further advance by the reserve troops at that moment. Tulloch with his handful of the 11th went on, while Lalor set his men of the 12th to dig a semicircular trench just short of The Nek, with its flanks looking down into the valleys on either side. Far behind them, down the valley on their right, they presently saw men who had crossed from Plugge’s digging furiously along the opposite crest. It was about 7 o’clock. The sun had risen in a clear blue sky. Far out the transports, gliding in four by four, trailing the long threads of their wash over the silky lemon- coloured sea, had long since begun to land their troops.
Colonel MacLagan, the commander of the covering force, and Captain Ross, his staff-captain, had come ashore with the first tow of Jackson’s company of the 9th from the destroyer Colne. Major Brand, the brigade-major, who was in another rowing-boat, saw them land on the beach a little north of him. Brand went to his chief and it was arranged that he should make straight inland towards the right front to take charge of the situation there, while MacLagan and Ross climbed the ridge above the beach - the southern shoulder of Plugge’s. From that time onwards the ridge bore MacLagan’s name. Brand hurried off, taking with him Lieutenant Boase of the 9th, who had landed with him, and his platoon. MacLagan and Ross toiled up an almost perpendicular gully to Plugge’s.
As MacLagan reached the plateau, he realised that the landing had been made in the rough country a mile north of the proper place. The officers of the Colne had known it, but it was then too late to change. Half a mile to the right front, across the valley into which Maclagan looked from Plugge’s, was the lump of the 400 Plateau where should have been his centre. Australians could be seen beginning to make their way through the scrub on the near side of that plateau. The 9th and 10th had already left Plugge’s when MacLagan reached it, and their companies were working towards the right front, apparently trying to carry out the original plan If it was to he achieved, that was the sector in which a commander was needed.
Brand had already gone in that direction. Before MacLagan himself moved across to grapple with the problem presented there, he gave a few swift orders to the 11th, which was organising close beside him on Plugge’s and below it. The 11th was responsible for the left of his force. On that side was the valley in front of Plugge’s reaching to the foot of Baby 700. There were already some troops in that direction, now under Lalor; but little was known of them. MacLagan decided to hold the far side of the valley and Baby 700 at the end of it. He gave rapid directions to the company commanders who were organising their troops on the plateau, pointing out to them various landmarks on the far side of the valley or at its head, and directing them towards these. In addition to the large portion of the 11th Battalion which was being organised by Major Drake Brockman, MacLagan had beside him Major Hilmer Smith’s company of the 12th, which had just scrambled up the hill on his right. He told Smith to take his company due-east-straight to the opposite side of the valley. Brockman he directed northwards, to occupy with the 11th the head of the valley and Baby 700.
[From: Bean, p. 276.]
The first part of the latter order was fairly easy to carry out. The far side of the valley near its head was indented by four shallow gullies or landslides, like the flutings of a column, up which troops could probably work. MacLagan directed that detachments should occupy the summit of these indentations and so make sure the far side of the valley. But the despatch of other detachments to Baby 700 was far from being so simple as it appeared. The Nek and the branch of the valley which ran into it were not visible from where MacLagan stood, and were not shown on the maps. Russell’s Top, which rose just north of Plugge’s, appeared to be a continuous spur leading up to Baby 700 and the larger hills beyond it. To reach Baby 700 part of the 11th was to move up this spur, while other parts were to mount by the head of the valley.
When the first troops had reached Plugge’s, some of them, hurrying after the Turks a hundred yards across its northern end, found themselves looking down sheer yellow slopes into two spoon-shaped valleys divided, immediately beneath where the men stood, by a yellow sandy ridge with an edge too sharp to allow a man to walk safely. The ridge led like a causeway to Russell’s Top, which rose gradually two hundred yards away. The valley on one side sloped between the Sphinx and Plugge’s to the sea; that on the other side opened into the main valley inland of Plugge’s. A month later, because of their security from shell-fire, these two gullies began to be used by troops in reserve, and were named, the seaward one “Reserve Gully,” the inland one “Rest Gully.”
A part of the 11th which, as has been mentioned, had arrived with a battleship tow rather later than the rest and had made inland with Colonel Clarke and Peck, had climbed straight over this razor-edge into Rest Gully and was collecting there. Peck, being adjutant, had left Rockliff and Macfarlane in charge of these men and had disappeared inland in search of the headquarters of the battalion. Presently Everett, with part of Brockman’s company, of which he was second – in - command, also arrived in Rest Gully. Brockman had been organising the other half of the company on the top of Plugge’s Plateau. As the men were under a scattered rifle-fire, and were separated from Everett’s half, Brockman moved his half-company down into Rest Gully, so that it might reorganise together with the other half in shelter on that side of the gully which led up to Russell’s Top.
Like most of the other troops that day, they descended from Plugge’s by the steep zigzag path beside the three tents. At the bottom, in the sand of the gully, was a fingerpost with a red sign and Turkish lettering in black. Near it was a pick handle, stuck into the sand. The post was almost certainly a direction stating that the path led to a company post of the 27th Turkish Regiment on Ari Burnu. But the suspicion that the enemy would leave his tracks and trenches mined led men to avoid the spot. The red signpost was taken as ail indication of a mine, and a sentry was put near the pick handle to warn men against touching it.
While Brochman’s company was reorganising on the further slope of Rest Gully there was heard a sharp whine through the sky. A pinpoint flash high above the razor-back, from which a small cloud as of white wool unrolled itself; a report like that of a rocket; a scatter of dust on the bare side of the razor-back below-it was the first Turkish shrapnel shell that these men had seen. For the next ten minutes the Australians in the Turkish trenches on the plateau, and the men reorganising in the gully, were fascinated by this new wonder.
The shell was from Gaba Tepe, where the battery had already begun to fire at the boats and at the beach. As guns came up elsewhere during the day, salvoes of shrapnel began to burst continually in the valleys inland of Plugge’s. Several of these consequently became known as “Shrapnel Gully,” but within three days that name had fastened definitely upon the main valley into which the first troops looked from Plugge’s. The first Turkish gun had opened at 4.45 a.m., fifteen minutes after the landing. There was the flash of a gun on the inland neck of Gaba Tepe, and a shrapnel shell burst near the beach. The first destroyer tows had just landed. Two minutes later the guns of the battleships began to reply, but the Turkish battery near Gaba Tepe was not quelled by their fire. As the transports of the 2nd and 1st Brigades moved in, the small guns at Gaba Tepe sought to reach them, but the shrapnel pellets pattered into the water short of the ships. When the destroyers, after landing their original loads, came back to take the troops from the transports, the guns opened both upon the destroyers and upon the rowing-boats about them. The cruiser Bacchante was firing regularly at the flashes. Her shells were high explosive - that is to say, they hit the ground before they burst, and depended for their effect upon the powerful explosive, which scattered abroad deadly fragments of the shell-case and tore great clouds of dust and earth from the neck upon which were the Turkish guns. The Turks were firing shrapnel - a shell which is timed to burst in the air, and which, like a shot-gun, projects a number of ready-made pellets upon the ground below. Though the Bacchante’s broadsides appeared to fall upon the Turkish battery, it continued to fire.
A little before 7 a.m. the Bacchante moved slowly shorewards, until she was poking her nose fairly into the bay opposite the guns, and thence she fired at them broadside after broadside. They became temporarily silent. Yet every time a destroyer ran in to discharge her troops, a salvo from the battery sang over them. It was immediately answered by the Bacchante broadside, and again became silent. When the next destroyer ran in with her troops, it invariably opened again.
The men of the 2nd and 1st Brigades in the transports, which moved in between the battleships before the dawn, had been raised to a high state of excitement by the Bacchante’s shooting. “By gum, that’s pat!’’ shouted a private of the 1st Battalion on the Minnewaska’s well-deck, as he rushed to the side waving his cap. The Turkish battery strove to reach the transports as soon as it sighted them - which was about 5.10 a.m. Several shrapnel shells sang fairly close, and the pellets pattered in the water short of the ships. “Look, mate,” said another man of the 1st Battalion, “they’re carrying this joke too far. They’re using ball ammunition!” From the moment when they neared the first sight and sound of action, a marked change, noticed by every officer, came over these troops: they were straining like puppies on the leash, eager to be in the fight. Meanwhile, in the Minnewaska’s saloon, the officers’ breakfast was proceeding, the flashes of the warships’ guns every now and then showing through the portholes. The oldest steward had swept the carpet as usual, and, napkin on arm, was placing the menu before his passengers and asking if they preferred eggs or fried fish after their porridge.
Until 7 a.m. those in the transports had no idea as to whether the landing had succeeded. The constant burst of shells on Plugge’s, and the small boats far ahead - returning singly and rather aimlessly from the beach, gave the impression that fighting was still heavy near the shore. About 7 o’clock, in the growing light, the anxious watchers along the ships’ rails made out the forms of men digging, walking, and apparently talking together unconcernedly upon the high ridges ahead.
There was no mistaking that casual gait - it was a sure sign throughout the war. They were Australians. Lines of them were digging in on the first and second ridges beyond the beach. The 3rd Brigade had established itself on the land. Between 5.30 and 7.30 the 2nd and 1st Brigades of the 1st Australian Division began to move.
The Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, Bean's Account, Part 3 Topic: BatzG - Anzac
The Battle of Anzac Cove
Gallipoli, 25 April 1915
Bean's Account, Part 3
On the slope of Baby 700 seen from the Australian point of view.
The following is an extract from Bean, CEW, The Story of Anzac: the first phase, (11th edition, 1941), pp. 306 - 321.
THE LOSS OF BABY 700
The line on Baby 700 was subjected to an even greater danger than that of being outflanked upon its right. There was the constant risk that, while it lay upon the inland slope of the hill, the enemy might creep round its left, along the seaward spurs which were hidden from it, and appear behind it.
When the Turks began to push past his right flank toward Monash Valley, Kindon had at least been aware of the fact.
But the seaward slope in his left rear was hidden from him by the crest of Baby 700; and all day long the men holding the inland slope of that hill could only trust that the parties which had undertaken to hold the seaward slope were doing their work.
It has been already mentioned that the officer who, through most of this endless day, had the responsibility of seeing that the Turks did not penetrate behind the left of the landing force was Captain Lalor. His duty was to hold The Nek and the seaward side of the hill while others fought inland. But while Kindon had been doggedly holding the inland slope, the fighting on the summit and seaward slope had continued extremely bitter and critical.
All that the men and even the officers knew was that the great effort of the expedition had been launched, and that it was their duty to see that it did not fail. The attack had manifestly not gone as was intended. The high hopes of the morning advance had long faded. They were up against the fire of some Turkish force, a comparatively scattered fire at first, but no\v incessant and always growing. Each man could only keep touch with one or two others on either side of him in the scrub, and, as one after another was hit, the line was thinned to breaking point. But they knew that all the other parts of the line must be depending upon them to hold the flank. If the line gave, it meant failure. With an unknown and increasing force ahead of them-with the long hours passing, and the enemy showing no signs of exhaustion-yet the determination of each individual man and officer still held them to that hill.
The ebb and flow of the struggle on the scrubby spur and the seaward Hank of the hill caused, as has been said, several retirements. But whenever reinforcements came up, the line would sweep again over the summit of Baby 700. On the occasion of the third retirement from the hilltop, Margetts had been told by some senior officer to line the edge of Russell’s Top in front of Walker’s Ridge, in case the Turks came round that way. But presently he was sent up to the front line again. He gathered all the men he could-about ten ii; all-and for the third time went up Baby 700. He found that a line had been re-established there and was being held by an officer of the 2nd Battalion and a few men. So far as Margetts and this officer knew, they were the only officers on the hill. The ammunition of the small party was running out. Margetts ran down the hill to find Lalor or the company sergeant-major or some other who could communicate with headquarters and obtain ammunition. At The Nek he came across a platoon. They were in the little horseshoe system of coffin-shaped rifle pits which Lalor’s men had begun to dig after the dawn. With them was Lieutenant Patterson, who had climbed near the Sphinx with Margetts. The Turks had just opened with their battery from the hills ahead, and were feeling for the range of The Nek. Patterson, being a Duntroon boy, was greatly interested in their practice Margetts found that Lieutenant Burt had gone back for ammunition and support. He himself returned to the line with this news. He was nearly exhausted; his clothes were still heavy with the morning’s soaking; again and again he stumbled and fell in the scrub. When he reached the line he found the officer of the 2nd Battalion and some of its men still there. His own men were gone. Margetts stumbled down the hill again to find them, and again reached Patterson.
The fire from the seaward spur of Baby 700 was now very severe, and shrapnel was increasing. Patterson and Margetts could see men moving on the seaward spur ahead of them, across Malone’s Gully, but were prevented from firing by a message which had just arrived from the left and had reached them by word of mouth shouted along the line.
“Don’t shoot if you see men on the left,” it said. “They’re Indians.” It seemed to them possible that this was true. An Indian brigade might be landing on the left, and the men on the spur seemed to be dark men. That message had strange results at a later time in other parts of the line. No Indians had landed or were landing on the left. The men whom they saw may have been Turks. though Australians were seen on the same slope afterwards.
The position on Baby 700 was obviously critical. Margetts had told Patterson that he was nearly “done up.’’ Patterson therefore went off with about thirty of his own men to reinforce the 2nd Battalion there. He made for a point on the seaward side to the left of where Margetts had been.
Margetts watched him cross the head of Malone’s Gully with his men.
In a support position on the seaward slope Margetts met Lalor. Lalor gave him a drink from his whiskey-flask-the drink of a lifetime-and let him lie down. Beside him was E. Y. Butler, who had been with Tulloch’s party, worn out and fast asleep. A moderate fire whipped over them, and the cry often went up for stretcher-bearers, but though bearers were at work further down the firing line, they had not reached this particular slope. Presently word came again that the line of the 2nd Battalion on the seaward slope needed reinforcements. Lalor turned to Margetts: I’ll go.
“You take your bugler and go down and see if you can bring some support and stretcher-bearers.” Patterson was never seen again.
“Take your men up,” he said - and then: “No.
“I’ll go forward, sir,” said Margetts.
“You’ll do as you’re told.” was the reply.
Lalor led his men off round the head of Malone’s Gully towards the scrub-covered spur, where the fight was thickening fast. Margetts descended the deep gutter of Malone’s Gully, putties trailing in the mud, to the flat far down at the bottom.
Here were some stray wounded from the fight above, and some stretcher-bearers. He sent the latter towards the crest, while he himself went to Major Glasfurd, at Divisional Headquarters on the beach, with the news that Lalor on the left was in urgent need of reinforcements. But by that time the need which was pressing upon headquarters was for reinforcements for the right. It was about 3.15 p.m. when Margetts left Lalor. Lalor had moved across Malone’s Gully onto the spur at the farther side. Here he took up a line under the fierce fire from the far edge of the spur and from the lower hills on the left.
He was presently joined by a party of the 2nd Battalion under Captain Morshead, who had kept further to the left than most of the platoons of the 2nd Battalion. The responsibility of that long day had rested as heavily upon Lalor as upon any officer in the force and, as the hours drew on, the difficulties were becoming heavier.
“It’s a __!” he said, as Morshead came up to him. “Will you come in on my left?” Lalor had by this time dropped his sword-hours later it was found back at The Nek by Lance-Corporal Harry Freame, of the 1st Battalion, who in his turn dropped it in the stress of the fighting at dusk. Lalor was excited and showing the strain. “The poor Colonel,” he said to Morshead. “He was killed - dropped just like that! I don’t know where Whitham is - hope he’s all right. He and I were pals…. Oh, it’s a __!” he reiterated.
Morshead made his platoon left form and move across to Lalor’s left. Lalor waved his hand, and moved his own line to join Morshead’s. Fire was coming from the lower knolls down by the beach. Lalor stood up to see, and resolved to charge forward.
“Now then, 12th Battalion,” he cried; and, as he said the words, a Turkish bullet killed him.
Most of the officers had fallen. The shrapnel fire on the head of Malone’s Gully and The Nek was exceedingly heavy.
The shells were burst well, ten or fifteen feet above the ground. The pellets swished through the low scrub and down the valley head like hail. At the head of Malone’s Gully one shell burst over Lieutenant G. W. Brown, of the 2nd Battalion, wounding six men, but leaving Brown unharmed.
Captain Tulloch, sheltering with some men under the edge of the same gully. had crept up onto the spur to reconnoitre, when he was wounded. Lieutenant Butler was wounded about the same time. Major Scobie, of the 2nd, walking along the line in the morning, had been hit on the bridge of the nose. Morgan of the 11th, Fogden of the 1st, and Richardson of the 2nd, had been wounded. Cooke of the 11th, Lalor and Patterson of the 12th. Gordon of the 2nd. S. B. Robertson of the 9th, Grant of the Canterburys, and many other officers, were dead.
On the left of the line there were now practically no officers surviving. A remnant of the 12th, on the seaward slope near the head of Malone’s Gully, was being led by a corporal, E. W. D. Laing. the senior among about sixty men of all units who were around him. Five times between 730 a.m. and 3 p.m. the line on this flank had charged over the 400 yards of scrubby slope in front of it, and each time it had been driven back. Towards the end it was difficult to prevent the exhausted nerve-racked men from retiring too far, but their leaders held them. In the last two advances there was only one officer within reach. When the fifth charge was made and the Turks withdrew into cover, Laing ran three times to this officer and begged to be allowed to take his men further and “get at the beggars with the bayonet.” He had just run across the third time and dropped beside the officer, when he was hit through the thigh. The word was given to retire, and the line withdrew. Laing crawled after it and reached shelter.
On the extreme left, sheltering in the head of Malone’s Gully were now about fifty men of all units without any officer at all. Possibly they came under Laing’s command, but they had been fighting mainly without leaders. In the scrubby slope, a short distance in front of the bank under which they lay, was the Turkish trench - the one with communication trenches running back from either end-which had been taken and lost earlier in the day.
At some time during the morning this party, without officers, had decided to rush the Turkish trench a second time. They waved to a few Australians, whom they could see firing from The Nek, to cross Malone's Gully and join them. This they did, mostly in search of their battalions. Here as elsewhere in this bewildering fight, most of the men, and many officers, supposed that the firing line of their battalion was somewhere ahead, and they had come forward looking for it.
Having thus added to its number, the party in Malone's Gully, by a sort of general consent, jumped over the edge of the gully, began to double across the spur, and ran suddenly into the trench. The Turks in it defended themselves. Some were shot, others bayoneted. Twelve lay dead in the trench.
Map, p. 311.
The trench was almost straight, and no sooner had the Australians jumped into it, than a Turkish machine-gun somewhere on the slope of Baby 700 above to their right began to fire directly along it. The men took shelter by getting into the two communication trenches which ran from either end towards the gully beyond. From these trenches they could look out over the crest of the 0 spur towards the summit of Battleship Hill and the shoulder of Chunuk Bair. Part of the seaward slope between these heights was gentle, and across it, about 500 yards away, there were Turks advancing.
The position in the communication trenches seemed useless.
Australians had been there before, and their dead lay thickly in the scrub around. In order better to discuss what to do, the party withdrew to the head of Malone's Gully from which it started. It was decided to remain under the edge of the gully and wait for something to be done. On the far side of the gully Turkish shrapnel was raining, well burst and low, but the side against which the party lay was sheltered.
Later in the afternoon there came up the steep gutter of Malone's Gully from the sea a company of New Zealand infantry. It climbed to the men sheltering at the valley head, and its officer asked what the position was. Lance- Corporal Howe and others told him that the Turks were by this time back in their trench on the spur; that the trench was enfiladed and could not be held when taken; and that an advance would be useless. But from men under so great a strain such reasons for doing nothing could scarcely be trusted.
Like a brave man, the New Zealand officer decided that he must attack the trench again. He ordered the whole party to charge it.
When for the third time the trench was rushed, the Turks did not defend it, but ran back. The men who had been in the place before passed the word to get into the communication trenches and so avoid the machine-gun; those who knew made straight for these trenches. As the party reached the trench, the same machine-gun opened from the right. The first to fall was the New Zealand officer. The gun killed or wounded most of the men in the straight trench. Those in the communication trenches held on until the gust of rifle fire which the charge had aroused should subside.
This time, waiting in the communication trenches, the survivors perceived that there were Turks advancing not only over the seaward slopes of Battleship Hill, where they had seen them before, but also from the depression between Battleship Hill and Baby 700. This betokened no mere filtering back of isolated groups, but an attack on some considerable scale. The Australians and New Zealanders began to lose heavily under their rifle fire, and, with an attack of this character advancing, there was no small chance of their being cut off. Before, when they had sheltered in Malone’s Gully, a few wounded Australians had come in to them from some party out in the direction of Baby 700 on their right front; but the only Australians they now saw were in a line which they noticed to their right rear where the hill narrowed towards The Nek. They decided to join these.
As a matter of fact, shortly after Major Kindon had handed over the control of his line on the inland slope of Baby 700 to the New Zealanders, and after Lalor had made his last gallant advance and had fallen, a further reinforcement of New Zealand infantry had arrived. This consisted of a company of the Canterbury Battalion under Lieutenant- Colonel Stewart. After the two companies of Auckland (Waikato and Hauraki) had moved up Monash Valley. the two of Canterbury then ashore had climbed over Plugge’s and one, Major Grant’s, had gone on to Russell’s Top near The Nek. Lieutenant Morshead, of the 2nd Battalion, still holding on to the position where Lalor had been killed, received a message from his rear to say that a line of New Zealanders had been established there. Colonel Stewart seems to have placed his men at about 4 p.m. on a line across Russell’s Top a little short of The Nek. On his left front, beyond Malone’s Gully, there were the remnants of Morshead’s and Lalor’s men. On the summit and seaward slope of Baby 700 were still a few of the 2nd Battalion and 3rd Brigade. On its inland slope, on Stewart’s right front, was the remainder of Kindon’s line, composed of Aucklanders and of remnants mainly of the 1st, 2nd, 11th, and 12th Battalions.
Stewart evidently saw the line of Morshead’s men near Malone’s Gully. for Morshead received from him three messages at short intervals. The first was an order to retire upon the Canterbury line; the next-“Stay where you are.
We will come up to you.” A little later came a message to retire. In the interval between the last two the shrapnel fire upon The Nek had been tremendously heavy. A few minutes later Stewart was killed.
All parts of the Australian and New Zealand line on the left realised that a heavy attack was at this moment coming down upon Baby 700 and the slopes round it. Turks were moving in rough formations of attack from the direction of the main ridge. Even on the 400 Plateau, a mile to the south, where another heavy struggle was in progress, some found time to notice the great numbers of troops who came in company column to the main ridge, deployed into line as they topped the summit, disappeared for a time behind Baby 700, and then at about 4 p.m. attacked. The attack advanced across the slope and spurs of the range both on the seaward and inland side.
The only thing which could have saved Baby 700 was the support of guns and fresh troops. But, except for the 4th Battalion, which Bridges was keeping for use in the last resort and which he presently had to throw in on the right, the last reserve had been used. Colonel Braund, with the two remaining companies of the 2nd Battalion, had been despatched at about 1.30 p.m. with orders to reach the top of Walker’s Ridge by working up from the beach. MacLaurin, his brigadier, had reconnoitred the route and decided to send him that way and not by Plugge’s. Braund climbed up the steep goat-tracks under a harassing fire, and about 4 p.m. reached the junction of Walker’s Ridge with Russell’s Top. He pushed a short distance into the scrub, and lay where his orders directed. Not far to his right front must have been Colonel Stewart and his two companies of the Canterbury Battalion.
There were no other troops to send. The transports of the N.Z. and A. Division had not yet come up. The New Zealanders who had so far been landed were those from General Godley’s transport, the Lutzow, which arrived about dawn. The rest of the division-half of the Canterbury Battalion. the Wellington and Otago Battalions, and the whole of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade-was still in its ships.
The transports of the New Zealand infantry were due to arrive at midday, but were not brought to their anchorage until late in the afternoon. The 4th Australian Brigade was not due to reach the anchorage until the evening. During the hours of the afternoon lighters and steamboats were used in clearing from the shore to the transports the great accumulation of wounded. From 12.30 to about 4 p.m. not an infantryman arrived on the beach.
Nor was any additional artillery brought into action during these hours. The 2Ist (Kohat) Mountain Battery, which should have landed at 8.30 am, waited in its transport through the long day for lighters to arrive and land its guns But till 3 p.m. none came, and no steam tug till 5.30 p.m.
No position for field-guns could at first be found in this precipitous country, and when two guns of the 4th Australian Battery were eventually brought to the beach, they were temporarily ordered away again. The naval artillery, being of little use against such targets as that day offered, could not support the troops, and almost ceased to fire. The battery of Indian mountain guns, which had been landed early and at whose mere sound the spirits of the tired men began to rise, had been driven out of action by a hail of shellfire. The bark of the supporting artillery had ceased. The enemy’s salvoes alone could now be heard. Such were the conditions under which Baby 700 and its flanks were held by a worn remnant of the landing force when the Turks swarmed down to the attack.
It was about 4.30 p.m. when the brave line which had held Baby 700 through the long day finally broke. Lieutenants Shout of the 1st and Morshead of the 2nd Battalion were two of the few officers still surviving on the seaward side.
On the centre and inland slope Aucklanders, with a few of Major Grant’s Canterburys and stray Australians, were lying in a scattered line about a hundred yards behind the front line. which still consisted mainly of Australian remnants.
Suddenly the front line came running back on them.
“The Turks are coming on thousands of them!” The Aucklanders rose with them, and the whole line trekked back down the hill which it had fought all day to keep. The slopes of Baby 700 were left bare. The remnants from Malone’s Gully were some of the last to retire. The Turks were very close upon this party, and it could hear them shouting on the other side of the spur. Its leaders, now two corporals-Howe of the 11th and a New Zealander - waited to see who were the men to whom these voices belonged.
Presently several figures came over the skyline 150 yards away. One of them, a Turkish officer, stood out at full height and looked through his glasses. Howe rested his rifle on a bush, took steady aim, and shot him. Then the two, having lost their party, ran across the narrow head of Malone’s Gully, looking for the line of men whom they had seen near the foot of Baby 700.
The slope was empty. The line had gone. Fragments of it, and of the other troops on Baby 700, had drawn back to each branch of Monash Valley. At this moment they were lining its edges at Pope’s Hill on the western branch, and at the Bloody Angle and the next recess south of it on the eastern branch. A few from Baby 700 wandered down a valley leading southward, which they thought they had passed that morning. Bugler Ashton, of the 11th, was one of these.
He had been in the act of bandaging a New Zealander on Baby 700, when the man was hit again and terribly wounded.
He cried to Ashton to kill him. Ashton rose to go for a stretcher, and then realised that the line had retired without his remarking it; he was alone. Making for a gully which he thought was Monash Valley, he found there a wounded mail of the 1st Brigade, whom he helped till the man could go no further.
Then Ashton went on. The valley was in reality Mule Valley, at the head of which Jacobs of the 1st and Leer of the 3rd had been fighting.
It opened into a green flat. As Ashton was crossing this, he heard a shout, and found himself covered by the rifles of ten Turks. Major Scobie of the 2nd, when wounded in the fight on Baby 700, wandered down the same valley. Although it was by then behind the Turkish front, he somehow reached the Australian line. But Ashton was seen by the Turks, who hit him on the head with a rifle-butt and captured him. Beyond doubt a few other Australians lost themselves in the same way, and in some places many of the wounded had to be left behind. Except for two officers and a private, who later mistook the Turks for Indians and were captured, Ashton was the only Australian who survived this battle after being in the hands of the Turks. Other fragments from Baby 700, that with Morshead for example, withdrew down some gully or other to the beach; others retired onto the upper end of Walker’s Ridge.
It will be remembered that Kindon had placed Lieutenant Shout to watch the slopes in his left rear. Shout had with him Lance-Corporal Harry Freame, a skilled scout, half Japanese by birth, who had fought in the Mexican Wars.
Shout had placed Freame by The Nek with fourteen men to hold it at all costs. Freame numbered his party off at intervals.
At the second numbering there were nine. At the last only one replied. Shout had been with Lalor and held on till the line retired. Then, taking Freame with him as he passed, he withdrew towards the beach.
Probably the last party to leave Baby 700 was that of Howe and the New Zealand corporal from Malone’s Gully.
Map, p. 317.
When they found that the line was gone, they made across The Nek. Their party had been scattered and had suffered heavily; only five were together. As they passed over The Nek they stumbled, before seeing them, into two or three shallow scratched rifle pits with three machine-guns set up in them. These were two guns of the Auckland Battalion and one of the Canterburys, in shallow shelters within a distance of ten yards from one another-part of a semicircular system of rifle pits which crossed The Nek and overlooked the gullies on either side. This was the line which Lalor had been digging in the early morning.
A voice in the scrub cried “Snowy Howe!” It came from a man named Ferguson, of the 11th, who had been with the party in Malone’s Gully and had been heavily hit as he crossed The Nek.
No officer was there; the New Zealanders were under a sergeant. But it was a good position. They had sixteen belts of ammunition for the machine-guns and plenty for the rifles.
The crews of the machine-guns had all been killed or wounded, and the sergeant wanted men who knew how to work them.
Howe’s party stayed with the New Zealanders, and helped them to dig in as the evening closed. There were about fifty stragglers of all battalions in this last party on The Nek.
Solitary men who had been left on Baby 700 still occasionally strayed back to them. But the Turks in front had machineguns, and were sniping fairly heavily from tile trench on the spur beyond Malone’s Gully.
Those same Turkish machine-guns were noticed by Colonel Braund, whose two companies of the 2nd Battalion, unknown to the party on The Nek. were lying out in the scrub some way to their left rear near the head of Walker’s Ridge.
Braund knew that there were troops ahead of his line, and he held on blindly in the scrub against a heavy fire mainly in order to protect them. Lieutenant Shout of the 1st, on his retirement across The Nek, found Braund near the top of Walker’s, and at 5 p.m. Braund sent him to the beach with a message for MacLaurin: “Am holding rear left flank.
Against us are two concealed machine-guns-cannot locate them. In our front are New Zealand troops (and) portions of 3rd Battalion (probably he meant Brigade). Have held position (in order to) prevent machine-guns swinging upon troops in front. If reinforced can advance.” Urgent messages reaching Bridges about the same hour told him that the position on the left was critical: “Heavily attacked on left” - from MacLagan at 5.37; “3rd Brigade being driven back” - from the 3rd Battalion at 6.1 5; “4th Brigade urgently required” - from MacLagan at 7.15. Shout was sent back to Braund with 200 stray men of all battalions who had been collected on the beach, and, as the New Zealanders and 4th Brigade were now landing, the divisional staff sent Braund a message by Shout that he would be reinforced by two battalions, so that he might dig in where he was that night.
But the small party on The Nek itself was never reinforced. Dusk fell at about 7 o’clock. The New Zealand sergeant commanding the party had been wounded, and limped back with a message for reinforcements. Howe and the New Zealand corporal were now in charge of the trench.
Howe, with a stretcher-bearer, went back for reinforcements along the white track down Russell’s Top, and presently came upon a party of New Zealanders in a trench which had been partly finished across the track. They were probably what remained of Colonel Stewart’s companies, but a sergeant major now commanded them. Howe brought some of them back, with their picks and shovels, to the horseshoe trench at The Nek.
By dark the horseshoe trench was about two feet deep.
There had been a steady run of casualties in it all the afternoon.
As the dusk fell and the trench deepened the party began to feel comfortable. They knew of no one on their left, but at least in Monash Valley there were Australians, and what remained of Stewart’s line was close behind them.
As darkness fell, the Turks crossed The Nek and also the head of Malone’s Gully and attempted to occupy Russell’s Top. The men in the horseshoe trench could hear them, long before they came, shouting “Allah! Mohammed!” They let them come close, and then opened fire and drove them back.
This sort of fighting was easy after the strain of the day.
The moment darkness fell, the Turkish fire because inaccurate, and though plenty of bullets flew past, few men were hit. They drove the enemy back and went on digging.
The whole party signed a note asking for reinforcements and sent it to the rear. They said that the bearer of the note would guide the reinforcements up. No one, so far as they knew, was near them except the line of New Zealanders close behind. A note came back to them: “Hang on at all costs,” it said. “Reinforcements are on their way.”
But the reinforcements never arrived. At 8 p.m. a New Zealander who had been to the rear returned to the trench.
“Hey, Corp!” he said, “That mob behind us has gone.” Howe and the New Zealand corporal went back and found that it was so. Someone had come up and ordered the supporting line back. The trench was empty. But on either side of them - on the side of Monash Valley and in the scrubby slope towards the beach-they could hear voices.
At first they thought these were Australians, until a clamour of “Allah! Mohammed!” began. These Turks were well behind the horseshoe trench. Some of them came at it, and were shot at close range.
The party in the horseshoe trench, after holding a discussion, decided that the only course was to retire and get in touch with their own side. Some of the men knew that the white track along the Top led to the heart of the Australian position. They had no fear; they knew where they were, and how to get touch.
They picked up the three machine-guns, the belts of ammunition. and a dozen badly wounded men. One man would not allow them to lift him. He and three others were too badly wounded to be moved. As no one knew how to dismantle the machine-guns, they picked them up, tripods and all, as they stood, and retired along the path. When they had gone 200 yards, the Turks, who perceived the retirement, caught them up and attacked. It was an anxious moment.
The party set down its machine-guns and opened fire with them. Then it retired again. Near the Sphinx it tumbled over the trench which Clarke’s party had first charged that morning. Near by still lay the pack which Laing had carried for the old Colonel. The party held on down the white path and presently reached an old Turkish communication trench running into the top of Rest Gully.
Here they stopped. Rest Gully and Plugge’s Plateau were in sight of them. They knew where they were. The Turks followed them up and tried to dig in about 150 yards in front of them. The party on the edge of Rest Gully opened a heavy fire. The Turks replied, and the fire was kept up all night.
Map, p. 320.
Small parties of Turks had thus penetrated far into the Australian position on Russell’s Top-but only on its inland side. Colonel Braund, with half the 2nd Battalion and New Zealanders, lay out in the scrub at the top of Walker’s Ridge; and, on the inland side, the fork of Monash Valley and a small length of each of its branches were held by remnants of the men who had been fighting all day on Baby 700. A few men of the 1st and 3rd Brigades lined Pope’s Hill and Dead Man’s Ridge. Captain Jacobs and some of his men, who from supporting Kin don’s right had fallen back on the Bloody Angle, now joined them. The Bloody Angle never at any time afforded cover against an enemy who held the Nek. Its rear lay completely open in that direction. About dusk Jacobs had ordered his party, worn-out with the interminable strain, to withdraw further down the gully. As it began to drop down the slope, a figure appeared on the skyline behind. “Set of cowardly bastards,” it said.
‘I never thought Australians were such a lot of curs!” It was a youngster of the 3rd Battalion. He was sobbing, half-crying with rage.
“What’s the matter, son?” asked Jacobs.
“My officer’s out there wounded, and you are leaving him,” he said.
Jacobs with several men went out where the youngster led them, and found an officer badly wounded. The boy had been carrying him over his shoulder. They brought him in.
Jacobs’s party, as has been mentioned, withdrew from the Bloody Angle to a recess on the opposite side of the gully. This indentation, which lay in front of Pope’s Hill, was steep at its foot, but a climb up the dry bed of a cataract - which gave it the name of Waterfall Gully - led to a shallow spoon-shaped depression at its upper end. Jacobs’s party lined the forward shoulder above this valley, between it and the Bloody Angle (later, “Dead Man’s Ridge”). There they lay, at dusk, facing the Chessboard, with Pope’s Hill just behind them. Others who had retired towards the Bloody Angle found their way into the next recess south of it. This indentation, although it was on the same side of Monash Valley as the Bloody Angle and had its back turned almost directly towards The Nek, was nevertheless partly protected by the shoulder which formed its extreme left. The 3rd Battalion had used the place as a track for men and ammunition to reach the fighting on Mortar Ridge. Here, in the afternoon, as the fight ebbed, fragments of the troops had eddied-Aucklanders, who were the last to move through Monash Valley, and stray men from the front made it their stopping place. At nightfall there remained in the green arbutus scrub on top of the recess 150 Australians and New Zealanders under Major Dawson of the Auckland Battalion. Probably a few men also stayed in the Bloody Angle till next morning, when, with the Turks directly behind them, they were either killed or driven out.
But the post in the southern recess of the two was not withdrawn. From that day until the evacuation, with its rear open to The Nek and its flank completely in the air, it remained, the most critical position in Gallipoli. The Australians and New Zealanders under Dawson who, with a New Zealand machine-gun which came up during the night, held the green scrub on its lip became the original garrison of Quinn’s Post.
The Second Battle of Dernancourt, France, 5 April 1918, Outline Topic: BatzWF - Westn Front
The Second Battle of Dernancourt
France, 5 April 1918
Second Dernancourt, took place on 5 April 1918 as a result of the renewed German offensive, in the same area as the first battle of this name. Following the successful defence along the River Ancre on 28 March, the British 35th Division's positions between Buire and Dernancourt had been taken over by the Australian 13th Brigade (Brig.-General William Glasgow), which came into line beside the 12th Brigade (Brig.-General John Gellibrand) holding between Dernancourt and Albert. Thus the bulk of the 4th Australian Division commanded by Major General Ewen Sinclair-Maclagan was here employed, the 4th Brigade still required to assist in the defence of Hébuterne (q.v.) fifteen kilometres to the north.
Soon after daylight, German artillery and mortar fire began falling on the 12th Brigade's forward posts along the railway line north of the river as well as supporting positions on a bare hill further back. Under cover of morning mist enemy infantry then succeeded in penetrating the Australian line, using a railway bridge just west of Dernancourt (where the fronts of the two brigades joined) to get behind the outposts lining the railway embankment. The breakthrough on the 12th Brigade's right flank extended as far as the support line and enabled the Germans, by bringing forward a field-gun, to threaten the brigade's left flank to the north. Faced with being enveloped otherwise, the 48th Battalion holding the northern part of the line pulled back shortly after noon. Although half surrounded, the unit ably and calmly extricated itself in a fighting withdrawal.
At 5.15 p.m. the reserves of both brigades launched a spirited counter-attack from behind the hill. Although the troops met intense fire as they advanced over the crest, they drove the Germans part of the way back down the hillside before being forced to halt. At this point, the action effectively ended. The under-strength 4th Division had just faced the strongest attack mounted against Australians in the war-an assault by two and a half German divisions. It had suffered 1,230 casualties, but inflicted between 1,300-1,600 upon the enemy. Arriving from Flanders on 7-8 April, the 2nd Australian Division took over the Dernancourt positions and relieved the 4th Division.
Extracted from the book produced by Chris Coulthard-Clark, Where Australians Fought - The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1998, p. 141.
Additional References cited by Chris Coulthard-Clark:
C.E.W. Bean (1937) The Australian Imperial Force in France during the Main German Offensive, 1918, Sydney: Angus & Robertson.
The Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, Bean's Account, Part 2 Topic: BatzG - Anzac
The Battle of Anzac Cove
Gallipoli, 25 April 1915
Bean's Account, Part 2
On the slope of Baby 700 seen from the Australian point of view.
The following is an extract from Bean, CEW, The Story of Anzac: the first phase, (11th edition, 1941), pp. 282 - 305.
On being ordered by MacLagan to send detachments of the 11th Battalion to Baby 700 and the indentations which could be seen about the far northern end of Shrapnel Gully, Major Brockman told off companies or platoons to head for each of the points which MacLagan had indicated. He directed the two companies of the 11th under Captain Barnes and Major Denton to move along Shrapnel Gully to near its head and thence scramble up the scrub-covered indentations on its right (or inland) side. Brockman was under the impression that Hilmer Smith’s company of the 12th was proceeding to the head of the right-hand branch of the gully (afterwards known as the “Bloody Angle”).
Having thus provided for the right of the gully, he decided to take two companies, his own and Leane’s, to Baby 700. He meant to make his approach, as instructed, up the apparently continuous ridge from Russell’s Top. By this time, however, Major Roberts, second-in-command of the 11th Battalion, had arrived on the top of the plateau and had decided to keep Leane’s company there in reserve. Brockman left Plugge’s to join his company in Rest Gully below and lead it up to Baby 700. But, before doing so, he climbed across the valley on to Russell’s Top in order to see the country over which his company would have to advance. From the Top he saw - what it was impossible to realise from Plugge's Plateau or from the map (which was completely wrong in these details) - that an elbow of the left or main branch of Shrapnel Gully ate deeply into what had seemed to be the continuous ridge from Russell's Top to Baby 700. The ridge connecting the two heights was pinched between the western branch of that valley-head and a gully leading to the sea, thus forming The Nek near which Colonel Clarke had been killed. On the Top Brockman found Captain Lalor and his company of the 12th reorganising. Tulloch had already gone ahead, but with Lalor was Major S. B. Robertson of the 9th Battalion. Having arranged that Lalor should move up the high land to Baby 700 while he himself should follow Robertson up Brockman returned to his own company in Rest Gully.
Map p. 282
Landing in the dark in scattered boatloads, and having to rush the steep broken hillside above the beach, all the companies had become somewhat mixed; but in many cases and at many times during that day they were faithfully reorganised - officers and non-commissioned officers carrying out in letter and in spirit the training of Mena Camp. Brockman's company had reorganised in Rest Gully; as part of this proceeding its second-in-command, Captain R. W. Everett, had been put in charge of a provisional company composed of men of all battalions. Everett had for one of his officers Lieutenant Selby, a Duntroon cadet, but most of his platoon commanders were non-commissioned officers told off on the spot to provisional platoons. Brockman sent Everett's company to the indentations near the head of Shrapnel Gully to assist Denton and Barnes, who had already been despatched thither. His own company he divided into two. Half of it, under Lieutenants Rockliff and Macfarlane, was to climb the right of Shrapnel Gully near to Denton and Barnes, and then to work round the edge of the valley to Baby 700. Lieutenant Morgan, with the other half, was to work up the valley to the head of its left fork, and thence on to Baby 700. Having sent away these detachments, Brockman signalled across Rest Gully to Plugge’s for another platoon. Captain Leane, who received the signal, sent him a platoon of his own company under Lieutenant Cooke. When it arrived, coming down the steep zigzag path past the three tents, Brockman went off with it up Shrapnel Gully towards Baby 700.
Just above the point where Rest Gully joins it, Shrapnel Gully takes a sharp bend to the left, thence running for half a mile straight to the north-east towards the fork in which it ends. When the features of the locality came to be named during the weeks following the landing, this upper portion of Shrapnel Gully was called, after the brigadier whose headquarters were situated in it, “Monash Valley.” Monash Valley lay between Russell’s Top on its left or western side, and the steep and much-indented ridge on the right, up which Denton’s, Barnes’s, and Everett’s companies had been directed. At the top of this straight half-mile is the fork before mentioned.
The branch to the left runs for another half-mile between steep sides, gradually becoming gentler till it ends in a spoon-shaped depression at The Nek. The branch to the right is shorter, narrower, and much steeper, and ends abruptly on a part of the inland slope of Baby 700, which came later to be known (from the trenches which afterwards gridironed it) as the “Chessboard.” The head of this branch is the “Bloody Angle.” Between the two branches lies a long razor-backed hill, fitting into the jaws of the valley as a stopper fits into a bottle.
This was subsequently named (after the colonel of the 16th Battalion, which reached it towards the end of the first day) “Pope’s Hill.” As each company of the 11th went off to its objective, it descended into Shrapnel Gully and made its way up the sandy creek-bed, which, with a thin trickle of water dribbling down it, formed the bottom of Monash Valley. Denton’s company held on, finally turning to its right just before reaching the foot of Pope’s Hill, and climbed the steep scrubby recess in the gully side which afterwards became known as “Courtney’s Post.” Barnes’s company turned up the recess immediately before it-a still steeper niche, of which the top was a sheer landslide of gravel where a man could scarcely climb on hands and knees. This was afterwards named “Steele’s Post.” Everett led his composite company up to the same recess as Denton.
The side of Monash Valley facing the enemy thus became at an early hour fringed with several strong posts. But the movement of troops up through the valley to Baby 700 was far more difficult. Companies or platoons, roughly organised, would move up the narrow stream-bed in single file, their officer leading. The officer may have been shown the spot to which they were being sent, but of the long string of men toiling behind few had any knowledge of a precise destination.
A couple of men, for example, were told by some officer to carry a box of ammunition and follow Lieutenant Morgan They plodded, perspiring, at the tail of Morgan’s platoon to a point near the valley head, where heavy shrapnel fire came sweeping upon the party. The pellets swished like hail through the bushes, and in the rushes from shelter to shelter the party became split. The men with the ammunition went up the slope to the left; Lieutenant Morgan and others led up the slope to the right. When once the string was broken, the men behind had no direction to follow. Each could only push on as he thought best, until some other officer or non-commissioned officer gave him other orders. Such was the fate that day of many similar parties. Moreover as troops moved up Monash Valley, those lining its top were periodically calling for reinforcements.
Map p. 283
These orders were frequently given by senior officers in command on the valley side; and all day long troops who had been directed up the valley to Baby 700, tended, as they went, to be sucked into the fighting on the right-hand side of Monash Valley.
Of the troops originally directed to Baby 700. Leane’s company had been held back. Half of Brockman’s, under Lieutenants Rockliff and Macfarlane, after climbing, as instructed, a recess near Barnes’s and Denton’s companies, was a retained there to hold part of the edge of the valley. The other half, under Lieutenant Morgan, continued up the valley according to orders and made along its left branch towards Baby 700. Near the head of the valley it became split up by heavy shrapnel fire; part moved onto Russell’s Top on the left, while Morgan and others, following the directions, held on over the base of Pope’s Hill towards Baby 700. Close beside him went the platoon under Lieutenant Cooke, which Brockman accompanied.
Thus not all the troops directed from Plugge’s against Baby 700 were actually moving towards it. On the other hand there were already at The Nek or on Baby 700 fragments, mainly of the 12th and 11th under Lalor, Tulloch, and SB Robertson, which had gone there direct from the beach by climbing the heights near the Sphinx. Another small fragment of the 11th, under Lieutenants Jackson and Buttle of Tulloch’s company, after climbing near the Sphinx, had crossed Shrapnel Gully to some position ahead of Denton. Seeing other troops there pushed back, they retired, and met their own half-company commander, Captain Tulloch, near The Nek.
In the last chapter Captain Lalor, with his own company and several odd platoons of the 12th Battalion, was left on Russell’s Top, just where the ridge began to narrow to The Nek. Colonel Clarke was dead, Colonel Hawley and Major Elliott had been wounded, and Lalor was the senior officer with the party. The Turks whom Clarke’s men had chased from near the Sphinx had run off by the curving track over The Nek onto Baby 700, where they sank into the scrub.
Beyond The Nek, facing Lalor, rose the long back of Baby 700, a narrow ridge ascending gently for half a mile. The scrub on it was very open, part of the hill being almost bare. The retreating Turks had settled into the scrub slightly on the seaward slope, about 1,000 yards away.
Neither he nor Lalor had then any idea of what had happened to the rest of the landing force. Tulloch had tried to get into touch with Major Roberts, second-in-command of his battalion, but had failed. He knew that the 11th was to rendezvous on Battleship Hill - "Big 700" as it was then called. Big 700 and the further crests of the main ridge must be behind the long slope of Baby 700 which faced him. The orders were to push on at all costs. Tulloch had therefore decided to advance across The Nek to Big 700, where he might meet the rest of the 11th Battalion. Lalor, as has been said, remained digging a semicircular trench on the Australian side of The Nek.
The instincts of this fiery little officer were all for pushing ahead, and it was only his keen sense of the importance of the place, and the duty of the 12th as reserve battalion, that kept him there for a minute.
Tulloch decided to keep rather on the inland side of the crest of Baby 700. In order to make sure that Turks from the seaward side should not creep in behind him, he despatched Lieutenant Jackson with a party to that side of the hill to guard his left rear. At the same time, since the Turks were still firing across the head of Monash Valley, he sent forward a few men past the left of The Nek to work round and dislodge them. Presently the fire ceased, and Tulloch's party crossed The Nek.
Tulloch had about 60 men with him. They crossed The Nek in small groups, and having on the far side extended into line facing the direction in which Tulloch believed Big 700 to be (roughly north-east) , advanced through the scrub slightly inland of the crest of Baby 700. The slope was crossed by several undulations - depressions which ran down into the deep inland gullies to the right of the party as it advanced. If the men had looked over their right shoulders, they could from this the nearer hills, a triangle of shining water which was the goal of all this campaign - the Narrows.
But few of them noticed it. They were intent on the ridges ahead. The line advanced over the shoulder of Baby 700, across a depression, and onto the shoulder of the nest hill, still keeping a little on the inland side of the crest. The summit raised its head between them and the sea. Tulloch had with him Lieutenant EY Butler, of the 12th Battalion, who had been with him from the start, and also Lieutenants Mordaunt Reid and Buttle, who, with about thirty men, had been sent on across The Nek by Lalor.
The sun was bright, the sky clear. As the men pushed through the low scrub knee-deep, the fresh air of spring was full of the scent of wild thyme. On the dark, scrub-covered undulations about them there was no sign of life. The sound of firing came from the valleys on their right rear. Some bullets fired at long range lisped past them whenever they reached a crest or were on the downward slope. In the valleys not a shot came near them.
Tulloch’s line was advancing with about seven paces between the men. On the top of the second shoulder it was fired upon from a position half-way up the next rise. The Turks - of whom, judging by the fire, there were about sixty -were in the scrub some 400 yards away. From somewhere behind the enemy’s front a Turkish machine-gun opened, The Australians threw themselves down and began to fire. By this time about ten men in Tulloch’s party had been hit. His line lay in the scrub, keeping up a carefully controlled fire, as it had been taught to do in the Mena training. It beat down the Turkish fire: the shots from in front slackened; and the Turks melted. Tulloch’s line rose and advanced across the intervening dip and over the crest which the enemy had been defending.
To their left front there now rose another and still larger crest of the main ridge, its bare summit being about half a mile away. Between this and the shoulder on which Tulloch now was there lay a distinct depression. Bullets from somewhere on the opposite hillside began to “zipp” past the Australians, but the men could not see the Turks who were firing at them. The dark knuckles of the range, all covered with the same low scrub, sloped down to their right in longer and shorter ridges. Half-hidden by a knuckle ahead of them were three large sandpits, quarries, or landslides, which broke the dark flank of the hill.
The bullets chipped the hard leaves of the holly scrub and scattered them in fitful showers on the Australians lying below, the prickly fragments filtering under their tunic collars and down their backs. The men went forward for 150 or 200 yards by rushes, and then crawled another 100 yards on their bellies; raw soldiers as they were, they were making as good use of cover as the Turks. The Turkish fire grew heavier upon the place which they had just left. So long as they lay still, the fire was desultory; it was only when they made a rush, or began to scrape themselves cover with their entrenching tools, that they brought down a storm of bullets.
The sun was high in the sky, and it must have been after 9 o’clock when the line crept down the last hundred yards of its advance. The men were doing everything they had been taught. Orders were repeated along the line by word of mouth. The fire was not haphazard, but the men were shooting carefully at the targets pointed out to them from time to time by their officers. During a lull Tulloch passed along an inquiry as to how far water-bottles had been kept intact in accordance with orders, and he found that they were practically untouched.
The point which they had reached was almost certainly the south-eastern shoulder of Battleship Hill, a few hundred yards inland from its crest. The higher hill, of which the lower slopes faced them across the valley, was the shoulder of Chunuk Bair, a commanding height which, even more truly than Hill 971, was the key of the main ridge. On its skyline, which the men could see about 900 yards away on their left front as they lay in the scrub, was a solitary tree. By the tree stood a man, to and from whom went several messengers. Tulloch took him for the commander of a battalion and fired at him, but the flick of the bullets could not be seen in the scrub, and the officer did not move.
At this point the firing became very heavy.
The enemy had a machine-gun or guns firing at very long range. But few Turks could be seen ahead; they were lining the knuckle in front of the sandpits, 700 yards away: where the sharp edge of the ridge gave them perfect cover. To the south - on his right - Tulloch could see another line of the enemy lying down and firing at a line of Australians which was busily digging itself cover in a depression about half a mile in the right rear of his own party. These Turks were almost in continuation of his line, and were intent upon the Australians to their front, while Tulloch’s men were firing at them, from time to time, in direct enfilade.
The party fought here for about half an hour. Then bullets began to reach it from its left. This fire, at first at long range, became heavier and closer. Lieutenant Mordaunt Reid, who was carefully controlling the fire from the right of Tulloch’s line, was severely hit through the thigh. One of his men went to help him crawl to the rear, but Reid was never thereafter seen or heard of by his battalion. It will be remembered that Tulloch had sent Lieutenant Jackson with twenty men to guard the flank from which this enfilading fire came the seaward slope of Baby 700. Hearing the rattle of heavy fire in that direction, he assumed that this must be Jackson’s party, engaged with Turks in his left rear. He knew nothing of the bitter struggle which (as will presently be told) was in progress on the seaward slope of Baby 700.
But it was obvious that the enemy were penetrating behind his left flank, between him and the party which he imagined to be Jackson’s. An increasing fire at short range from the left showed that the Turks were collecting in the dead ground behind the crest of Battleship Hill and creeping round his flank. Tulloch’s own party could not deal with them, being pinned down by heavy fire from in front.
He accordingly gave the order to withdraw. His line was organised in four sections. Two sections held on and fired, while the alternate sections doubled back through the scrub to a position from which they could cover the retirement of the other two. Thus by stages his party withdrew to Baby 700. Here half the party was left under an officer with orders to delay the Turks, while Tulloch and the other half came back to the seaward slope of Baby 700 near where it narrowed to The Nek. By that time shrapnel, low and well burst, was sweeping like an intermittent hailstorm down the heads of the gullies which dipped steeply to the sea. Australians were clustering in the head of the gully which formed the seaward slope of The Nek (afterwards called “Malone’s Gully”), close under shelter of the next spur. On that spur could be seen Turks in numbers. On Baby 700 and on its seaward slope there had begun a struggle of whose intensity the advanced party had no conception.
When Tulloch had gone forward, the position at The Nek where Lalor was digging the horseshoe trench, was very quiet.
Except for bullets, which continually sang over at long range, and the rattle of heavy rifle fire on the ridges inland, nothing stirred. Major S. B. Robertson of the 9th Battalion came up and halted for a time. Lalor had agreed to hold The Nek and not proceed further. But this fresh clear morning was wearing on and nothing was heard of Tulloch, who had gone far forward to the right front. The slope of Baby 700 ahead, quite unoccupied, shut out Lalor’s view of the range which he knew was the objective. He was by nature the last officer in the force to sit still and do nothing in so critical a fight. The grandson of Peter Lalor, who led the only armed revolt that ever occurred in Australian history - the insurrection at the Eureka Stockade on the Victorian goldfields - and the son of a doctor, he enlisted as a boy in the British Navy; deserted from that service; joined the French Foreign Legion; fought through a South American revolution: and finally was appointed to the permanent forces in Australia. As an aide-de-camp in Western Australia he had more than one interesting meeting with naval officers, who little dreamed of his story. He carried with intense pride a family sword, from which he would not be parted. He had it with him - in spite of all regulations - on this morning at The Nek, its bright hilt wrapped in khaki cloth.
About 8.30 a.m. Robertson and Lalor ordered an advance up Baby 700. Lieutenant Margetts, with his platoon, worked his way up the middle of the ridge, making about the midpoint of the line. Where the Turkish line had been, several Turks were lying dead. Margetts moved straight over the summit of Baby 700 and some way down its further side. Far below on their left were the Gulf of Saros and the beach curving away past the crinkled foothills to Suvla Bay. Out on the blue water lay the battleship Majestic. Margetts looked at his watch. It was 9 o’clock.
In front of Margetts’s party, where it lay down in the low bushes, there rose, across a shallow depression, the rounded pate of the next summit - Battleship Hill. A sparse scrub grew from its stony surface. Around its western or seaward shoulder ran a- trench.
Behind the right shoulder of Battleship Hill, half-screened by its crest, could be seen two of the further summits of the range, from which long spurs ran down inland. It was towards the nearer of these spurs that Tulloch’s party was then working, out on the right front. But there was no sign of these men, and those on Baby 700 had no knowledge that they were there.
The line lay down in the scrub on the northern slope of Baby 700. The men did not dig, and the enemy could probably see little of them. But from the first moment bullets were coming fairly thickly from somewhere on the inland slopes to the right, clipping the leaves and twigs from the bushes.
Lalor himself, true to his decision, retained a party in a supporting position immediately in advance of The Nek. On the seaward slope the firing line was under Major SB Robertson of the 9th Battalion. From the outset the fighting on this slope was heavy. Baby 700 itself was free of Turks, but the scrub-covered spur which sloped from it towards the sea contained a Turkish trench, with two communication trenches running hack towards the valley behind the spur.
These trenches and the far edge of the spur were manned by the enemy, and there swept across them, backwards and forwards for hours, one of the most stubborn fights of the day.
Some time after the forward line in this advance had reached the summit of Baby 700 there came from its left - the seaward slope - a call for reinforcements. Margetts turned his field-glasses upon the trench which ran down the seaward shoulder of Battleship Hill. About 9.15 a.m. he began to notice Turks coming down this trench into the valley on his left front, where they became hidden from sight. He judged the range at 900 yards, and gave the order to his platoon: “Communication trench, on left slope of far hill … 900 yards ... three rounds ... fire!” The difficulty in controlling fire at this point was that the men, extended at several paces from each other in the thick low scrub, were out of sight, and the line easily lost touch. It was impossible to speak to more than a few on either side. When the fire grew heavy and each soldier was forced to keep low, a man could scarcely notice the movements of the one next to him, much less of those fifteen or twenty paces away. At the end of an hour Margetts could find very few of his own men. Therein lay one of the great difficulties of the day.
Turks were undoubtedly creeping over the shoulder of Battleship Hill by the communication trench, and down into the gully on the seaward face between Battleship Hill and Baby 700. Here they could collect in cover on their side of the spur. The Australians opposing them had similar cover in the head of Malone’s Gully. The intervening spur was curiously like a hand with four fingers. Where it left Baby 700, the steep scrub-covered slope, 300 yards wide from the northern fork of Malone’s Gully to the gully in which the Turks collected, resembled the back of a hand ; a quarter of a mile down towards the sea it suddenly ended in sheer precipices of worn gravel; from these there ran down seawards four bare razor-backed ridges, perhaps more comparable to the legs of a spider than strictly to fingers, and ending near the beach in greater and lesser knolls, all very steep.
The fingers of this spur were far too precipitous to allow of movement; the struggle was entirely on the upper part of the scrub-covered slope, where it joined Baby 700, and on the side of Baby 700 itself. The Australians - a mixture of 11th and 12th Battalions with some of the 9th - crossed the head of Malone’s Gully and the flank of Baby 700 above it, and rushed the Turkish trench on the scrubby spur beyond the gully.
Shortly after they reached it, a machine-gun was turned upon them from a position higher up Baby 700 and almost directly to their right, from which it played down the length of the trench. The party was thus driven out, and withdrew to the edge of Malone’s Gully for shelter.
The word went up the line: “The left are retiring.” It reached Margetts and his party on the summit. The Turks had manifestly been creeping down over Battleship Hill to the left.
Margetts and his men withdrew for about 150 yards down the back of Baby 700, and there pulled up. They could see the line on their left retiring. The crest and slopes of Baby 700 were again open to the enemy. Turks filtered back into the trenches on the scrubby spur: it was their movement round the seaward side of Battleship Hill which forced Tulloch to withdraw.
By this time the reinforcing detachments which had been sent by Brockman towards Baby 700 had arrived. Lalor was with the supporting line some distance behind Margetts on that hill. Brockman met Lalor there, and Lalor agreed to hold the hill and attempt no further forward movement.
Losses had been heavy, and the Australian line was pitiably thin. The Turks had followed its withdrawal, and were reaching Baby 700.
Fortunately the driving in of the line on Baby 700 had been observed from another part of the front. Between 9 and 10 o’clock Colonel MacLagan, returning from his visit to the 400 Plateau, had seen in the distance the retirement of the Australians and the pressure of the Turks. He had just given up hope of further advance from the 400 Plateau against the objective ridge. He now realised that the Australians would have all that they could do to hold a defensive position where they were. Baby 700, looking straight down the valley which the Australians were lining, was clearly the key of the position.
Having placed his headquarters at the southern end of Monash Valley on the high shoulder of MacLaurin’s Hill, he could see every movement of the line on Baby 700. From that hour onwards he endeavoured to send all reinforcements up to the struggle which he saw in progress there.
By the time MacLagan came to this decision, the 2nd Brigade and part of the 1st had already gone into the fighting on his other flank. Troops were being rushed into action as soon as they landed, and of the 1st Brigade there were still to come one company of the 1st Battalion, two of the 3rd, and the whole of the 2nd and 4th.
MacLagan now made urgent requests for reinforcements for his left, and was at once given the two remaining companies of the 3rd Battalion, sent off by Colonel Owen, who was at this time on Plugge’s. How they were drawn into the fight at the head of Monash Valley will be told in another chapter. On their way up Plugge’s these two companies became sandwiched into a long file of the 1st Battalion, which had shortly before landed from the Minnewaska. The last company of the 1st. under Major Swannell, delayed by dumping its packs on the way up the hill, followed after the 3rd Battalion. The second-in-command of the 1st Battalion, Major Kindon, was, according to practice, at the tail of its last company. As he was passing through the 3rd Battalion on Plugge’s, Colonel Owen told him that MacLagan was asking for reinforcements to be sent in the direction of Baby 700, and asked him to divert Swannell’s company thither.
Kindon accordingly led Swannell’s company of the 1st Battalion into Rest Gully and up Russell’s Top, so as to reach Baby 700 by the shortest route. Swannell had with him Lieutenants Shout and Street and Captain Jacobs. It was after 10 o’clock when this company moved up Russell’s Top. In the meantime MacLagan could see the remnant of Lalor’s line being driven back almost to The Nek. The untried signallers of the 1st Australian Division had, nearly two hours before, completed the laying of wires from the divisional headquarters to both the advanced brigades, and MacLagan telegraphed to Bridges that the far end of Russell’s Top was “seriously threatened.” At 10.15 MacLagan told Glasfurd that it was doubtful if he could hold on.
If the Turks had reached Russell’s Top, they would have been actually in rear of Denton and of the rest of MacLagan’s line in Monash Valley. Bridges therefore ordered MacLaurin, commanding the 1st Brigade - his sole reserve - to despatch two companies of the 2nd Battalion to the threatened point.
Major Scobie, second-in-command of the 2nd Battalion, was instructed to take Gordon’s and Richardson’s companies. Gordon led on immediately after Kindon.
It was nearly 11 when Kindon, with Swannell’s company of the 1st Battalion, wound over The Nek, and, at the foot of Baby 700, ran upon the remnants of Robertson’s and Lalor’s line, which had been driven in from the forward slopes of that hill. There were probably about seventy of the 3rd Brigade at this place, but only a handful of ten or twelve was visible from the point at which Kindon and Swannell joined them.
Swannell’s company at once deployed, and, together with the remnant of the 3rd Brigade, charged the Turks who were on the seaward slope in front of them. The Turks ran, one of them lumbering back over the shoulder of the hill with a machine-gun packed upon a mule. For the second time the line swept at the double over the summit of Baby 700, and Margetts reached the same point, on the same path, which he had been occupying before. On this line the men of the 1st Battalion began to dig as quickly as they could.
But on reaching the inland slope of the hill they came under heavy fire. The Turks had run off to a trench which showed as a brown line through the scrub ahead. Bullets whipped in among the Australians from the front and from the right flank. The only way to escape them was to lie still; and it was difficult, while so doing, to keep up an effective fire. On the right, where Swannell now was, the line looked into a gully beyond the Bloody Angle, and in this there were several Turkish tents and an abandoned bivouac. It was near this spot that some of Swannell’s men were under a Turkish fire to which it was difficult to reply. Swannell had felt sure that he would be killed, and had said so on the Minnewaska before he landed, for he realised that he would play this game as he had played Rugby football - with his whole heart. Now, while kneeling in order to show his men how to take better aim at a Turk, he was shot dead.
The two companies of the end Battalion, which followed immediately after Kindon and his portion of the 1st, moved partly through Monash Valley. Gordon led his company up the head of that valley on to The Nek. He took out his map, settled his position on it, and began to organise his troops for the advance. He was a fine, tall, square-shouldered man and without fear. He was speaking to his men, when he fell shot through the head. Most of his company attached itself to the left of Swannell’s when it doubled over Baby 700. During the whole afternoon it was involved in the heavy fighting near the position of Margetts on the crest.
Richardson’s company of the end got upon the seaward slope of Baby 700 - left flank of the line. On climbing from Monash Valley, Richardson had crossed Russell’s Top to its seaward side near The Nek. As the company emerged, it saw Kindon’s and Gordon’s men doubling up the Richardson long summit of Baby 700 to its right. At the same time about sixty Turks near the head of Malone’s Gully, on the seaward slope of Baby 700 and the scrubby spur beneath it, were apparently beginning to retire. Richardson gave his men the order to fix bayonets, and charged across the head of Malone’s Gully. The Turks appeared to hesitate as the line approached; when it was within eighty yards, they bolted. The Australians, flinging themselves down, shot a score of them before the rest disappeared into the further gully.
The line on the left of Baby 700, whenever it went forward, was exposed to the fire, not only of the Turks behind the nearer spurs, but of others who were now filtering back upon the lower ends of those spurs, not far above the beach. Officers and men lying in the scrub were caught, one after another, by the scattered bullets. Major SB Robertson, thrice wounded, raised himself to look forward and was shot. “Carry on, Rigby,” he said to a junior beside him, and died. Lieutenant WJ Rigby “carried on” till he too was killed. Under this fire the left tended to withdraw to Malone’s Gully, and the troops on Baby 700 fell back with it. Indeed, with the seaward slope open to the enemy, there was nothing else for them to do.
The strain on the men lying out upon the forward slope was becoming almost unbearable. Some of the original line which had charged so gaily with Margetts and Patterson and old Colonel Clarke in the morning, and had gone up the hill so light-heartedly when the day was young, were still there.
“Close shaves” were so numerous that men ceased to reckon them. Thus Private R. L. Donkin, of the 1st Battalion, had two bullets in his left leg; a third pierced the top of his hat and cut his hair; one ripped his left sleeve; three hit his ammunition pouches and exploded the bullets; another struck his entrenching tool. Most of the men of the 3rd Brigade who had fought there were dead or wounded. Yet Margetts and a few others hung on with these newer arrivals of the 1st Brigade. The blue sky and the bright sunlight on the sleeping hills, the fresh mountain air which they had drawn into their lungs after that first onrush, still surrounded them as with the evil treachery of a beautiful mirage. The sweet smell of the crushed thyme was never remembered in after days except with a shudder. As with most of the others, it was Margetts’s first experience of war. So far as he knew, there was no one supporting him. He could only see two of his own men, but he knew that he had about twenty, because he could pass the word along the line: to them. Major SB Robertson, of the 9th, was supposed to be on his left, but he was probably at this time dead. So far as Margetts knew, there was no one else; no one to assume authority; no one to inform him what had happened elsewhere.
As hours went by the lines were greatly thinned and the torture of the fire increased. Further to the left, near the summit of the hill, where Gordon’s company of the 2nd Battalion was mixed with remnants of the 11th and 12th, the line swept backwards and forwards over the summit of Baby 700 no less than five times. Each time, after holding for a while, it was driven back. Almost every officer was killed or wounded, but Margetts still remained.
On the right, down the inland slope of the hill where Kindon was engaged, the strain was becoming at least as great. The fire from the right continually increased. The line on Baby 700 was isolated, with both flanks in the air, and Turks were filtering in and accumulating somewhere on either side. Through this increasing torture Major Kindon lay in the line with his men, steadily puffing an old pipe. Beside him on his left a man of the 12th Battalion lay in the scrub firing. Presently a bullet zipped past from the right. The man’s head fell forward on his rifle-butt; his spinal column had been severed. From the direction of the shot Kindon knew that the Turks must have outflanked him on his right. By the strength of their determination, and by that alone, officers and men were clinging to Baby 700.
Reinforcements for Baby 700 were asked for again and again, and although similar demands were received from every other part of the line, and especially from the right, it was realised by divisional headquarters on the beach that the position on the left was critical. General Bridges had suspected this immediately on landing, when he noticed the storm of rifle bullets still sweeping down Shrapnel Gully at 8 o’clock. This suggested a doubt as to whether the Turks had not worked in from the north along the sea border behind his left flank. After a hurried visit to the right, he strode directly back, with Colonel White and Lieutenant Casey, his aide-de-camp, to the top of Ari Burnu knoll, from which he could survey the long sweep of the beach as far as Suvla and the seaward foothills. Brigadier-General HB Walker, Chief of General Birdwood’s Staff, was on Ari Burnu. From the parapet of the Turkish machine-gun position on the knoll they scanned the foothills to the north. Australians were moving on the beach north of Ari Burnu - the 3rd Field Ambulance was there at work. There was evidently no immediate danger in the foothills. The group of Staff Officers on Ari Burnu was probably seen by the Turks from some point near Baby 700, for bullets flicked the parapet close to Bridges. White suggested that his chief should move, but Bridges took no notice of the suggestion until it was further urged by Walker. He then moved to a safer position. Although there was no present pressure in the foothills, Bridges saw that troops would have to be sent to hold Walker’s Ridge later in the day. For the present he despatched two platoons of the 2nd Battalion to form an outpost along the beach.
MacLagan’s telegram that Russell’s Top was in danger, and his anxious requests that all reinforcements for the left should go to that point, showed Bridges where lay the threat to his left flank. But the 1st Australian Division had been almost entirely used up. The 1st Brigade, which was the sole divisional reserve, had only the 4th Battalion and two companies of the 2nd now left in it. Bridges would have used them if necessary, but only as a last resort.
As soon, however, as the position was made good, the New Zealand and Australian Division was expected to land. Walker represented General Birdwood on the beach, and he and Bridges had already decided that the N.Z. & A. Division could best be used on Bridges’ left, and had informed its Chief of Staff (Lieutenant-Colonel W. G. Braithwaite) to this effect, when, at 10.45, General Birdwood signalled from the Queen that he was continuing the landing by disembarking the New Zealanders.
It was then that General Walker obtained his dearest wish - a transfer from Staff work to a fighting command in the field. Colonel Johnston, the British officer commanding the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, had fallen ill. Birdwood signalled that the brigade was to come under Bridges’ orders on landing, and that Walker was to command it. Walker at once went off to the foot of the ridge, which from then onwards bore his name, in order to survey the country in which his troops were to be employed.
The first part of the Auckland Battalion had already landed at g a.m., immediately after the last of the Australian Division, and had at once been directed to reinforce the left of the Australians on Russell’s Top, where Walker’s Ridge ran into it near The Nek. The Waikato and Hauraki companies had been sent northward along the beach with orders to reach this position by climbing up Walker’s Ridge, and their leading men were already far up this steep spur. But Walker, on reaching the foot of that ridge, near the beach, and seeing how bare and razor-edged the spur was, became convinced that battalions which were sent up it would be split and disorganised. They could only climb its precipitous goat-tracks in single file, and therefore must enter the battle in driblets, whereas he desired that they should operate as whole units, well-organised. He, like others, inferred from the maps that there was a continuous broad ridge from Plugge’s to Baby 700. The Auckland Battalion was therefore recalled; and later, as battalion after battalion was sent to him at Walker’s Ridge, he ordered them back on their tracks, with instructions to climb the path, now prepared, to Plugge’s, and move to the left up this supposed hill-slope to Baby 700.
MacLagan, on the other hand, from his headquarters on the far side of Shrapnel Gully opposite to Plugge’s Plateau, could see exactly what happened on the narrow summit of Plugge’s whenever reinforcements filed over it. Again and again he saw how, meeting shrapnel and rifle-fire there, they tended to lead on into Shrapnel Gully. The file being broken, and junior officers and men not having instructions as to the position, they were too often sucked into other parts of the line than those to which they were directed. MacLagan, for exactly the same reason which actuated Walker - to prevent disorganisation in impossible country - advised that all reinforcements should avoid the precipitous climb over Plugge’s, and should come into Shrapnel Gully by a detour southwards along the beach. But Walker, far up at his own front near Walker’s Ridge, did not know this. Battalion after battalion of New Zealanders was turned back with orders to go in over Plugge’s. Some of the earliest of the New Zealand reinforcements were disorganised by the turning of Turkish fire upon Plugge’s; and all of them, attempting to follow their instructions, became split up in the tangle of Rest Gully and Monash Valley.
It was past noon when the Waikato Company of the Auckland Battalion, reaching the bottom of the zigzag path, found a string of Australian troops - the tail of the 2nd or 3rd Battalions - filing up the valley past them. The New Zealanders waited till it cleared their head, and then followed it round the valley bed. On reaching the turn into Monash Valley, they began to climb the hill in front of them towards the firing line. But they saw men waving to them from the top to go on up the gully. The figures on the hill-top were those of MacLagan and his staff. The New Zealanders turned and filed up to the head of Monash Valley and so to the just beyond The Nek. They re-formed in this depression, advanced, and, 200 yards further on, came upon Major Kindon.
When the New Zealanders arrived, Kindon seemed to have only four or five effective men left with him. The others who could be seen were dead or wounded. Not another man was visible on either flank. To the left was the summit of Baby 700. It seemed a long endless slope, always gradually rising with little tracks running through it. The New Zealanders asked who was on the left, and were told that part of the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion was there. Far behind, in the right rear on the distant 400 Plateau, could be seen Australian infantry with a battery of Indian mountain guns.
The Waikato Company reinforced Kindon’s line, and lay facing Battleship Hill under the same unceasing fire. The line was still over the crest, out of sight of the sea. Before it were the further summits and inland slopes; the three sandpits on the lower slopes of Chunuk Bair could be discerned peeping over some of the further spurs. Through the scrub on the nearer side of the sandpits ran a streak of brown. It was a Turkish trench, and Turks could be seen in it.
The captain of the Waikato Company, after lying on the crest for half an hour, made his way back to Kindon on his right and advised him to retire and dig in by The Nek. But Kindon would not hear of leaving his wounded. Accordingly the line stayed on. As long as the troops were lying down, the fire was steady and sustained; whenever they got up to advance, it became intense.
This fire gradually increased. The Australians and New Zealanders, lying in the scrub, could not see the Turks reinforcing in front and to the right of them. But reinforcing they certainly were, and pushing in on Kindon’s right.
At some time between 2.30 and 4 pm. a Turkish battery suddenly opened from the direction of the further crests of the main ridge in front of Kindon’s line. First one gun opened, and then a series of four. The first shell went singing over towards the beach; then the gunners gradually shortened their range, till the salvoes fell upon the slope of Baby 700 near The Nek and upon the heads of the two valleys between which The Nek ran - Malone’s Gully on the side nearer the sea, and Monash Valley inland. Any movement on the forward slope of Raby 700 brought upon itself this shrapnel.
At the same time the fire upon Kindon’s line grew. “We were faced with a machine-gun on the flank,” he said afterwards “and with shrapnel in front and rifle fire. We were up against a trench and couldn’t shoot much. We could simply lie there, and they couldn’t come on while we were lying there.” The fire from Kindon’s right showed that the Turks were penetrating past it towards Monash Valley. The struggle which was occurring in the Australian centre, on the folds east of the Bloody Angle, will be told in detail later. But inasmuch as it vitally affected the position on Baby 700, reference must be made to it here.
The eastern rim of Monash Valley was well-fringed with troops. But there was never any continuous line from the eastern head of the valley (the Bloody Angle) to Baby 700.
A spur of that hill, known as the Chessboard, connected the two positions. But although parties under Captain Jacobs of the 1st Battalion, Lieutenant Campbell and Sergeant-Major Jones of the 2nd, and others moved over the Chessboard, it was not continuously held. There was no unbroken line of defence north of Captain Leer’s company of the 3rd Battalion, near the Bloody Angle, until the right of Kindon’s position was reached. A few isolated parties between the two had to bear, with Kindon and Leer, the full force of the Turkish counter-attack.
On Kindon’s right, helping to fill this gap, lay Lieutenant Baddeley of the Waikato Company, with his platoon. Baddeley was never seen or heard of again. Further down towards Leer was a party of Kindon’s own battalion under Captain Jacobs. Before Kindon had arrived at Baby 700, two small parties of the 1st Battalion which were with him, under Jacobs and Lieutenant Shout respectively, were despatched to the flanks. Kindon sent Shout to guard his left rear. Jacobs, with a fragment of the battalion, had branched through the right fork of Monash Valley, up the steep scrubby recess of the Bloody Angle, and out upon the Chessboard-the spur which ran down from the inland side of Baby 700, and against which this branch of the valley ended. Crossing that spur, he found himself looking down into a steep valley, about 100 yards across, which ran down to the right just over the crest from the Bloody Angle. In this gully were the tents and huts which had been seen by Swannell. Jacobs led his men through this and another minor gully and over the crest of the next spur (the upper shoulder of Mortar Ridge). Here they occupied a line some distance down the forward slope. Ahead of them, to their left front, were Australians. The latter were the line on Baby 700.
Jacobs was thus echeloned to the right rear of Kindon’s line, and, as long as he was there, its right flank was fairly safe. His party was firing at Turks on a spur 600 yards in front. To the right Mortar Ridge ran down to the flats at the upper end of what were afterwards known as “Mule” and “Legge” Valleys.
As the party lay in that position, Turks began to be noticed crossing these distant flats. Jacobs, like Leer and all other officers who saw it, prayed for a chance that a machine-gun might arrive to check this movement. But no machine-gun was near. Lower down the Turks were driving through to the ridges and gullies behind Jacobs’s party; there was an increase in the fire from the right; and at some time between 3 and 4 p.m. he, like Campbell of the and others, was driven in and was compelled to withdraw in the first instance to the shelter of the Bloody Angle and of the recesses on either side of it.
It was about 2.30 pm., when the Turks were beginning to press Jacobs and penetrate to his right, that Kindon noticed that two New Zealand machine-guns had come up about seventy yards in his rear. In order to escape the heavy enfilade fire from his right, he withdrew his men upon these This part of the line was now largely held by New Zealanders, of whom Major Grant: who was killed at this spot, was either then or shortly afterwards in command. Kindon handed over the line to them and went to report the position to MacLagan.
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