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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 Battle of Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915, Bean's Account, Part 4 Topic: BatzG - Anzac
The Battle of Anzac Cove
Gallipoli, 25 April 1915
Bean's Account, Part 4
Looking north to Fisherman's Hut from Anzac Cove.
The following is an extract from Bean, CEW, The Story of Anzac: the first phase, (11th edition, 1941), pp. 322 - 335.
THE EXTREME LEFT
The northernmost tows from the battleships had landed only a few hundred yards north of Ari Burnu Knoll. A few minutes later the northernmost destroyer had sent her men ashore about a quarter of a mile still further to the left. The most northerly landing party was Tulloch’s, which had climbed up Walker’s Ridge. Any Turkish outposts, therefore, further north than Walker’s Ridge had been left intact by the first landing.
The country north of Walker’s Ridge consists entirely of other steep ridges, similar to Walker’s, which descend from the main ridge to the sea. These ridges follow one another like the bones which spread from the spine of a fish, each one being longer and steeper than the last. The scrub-covered valleys between them-scored out by four small mountain streams are almost impenetrable even in peace time. Before reaching the shore, these valleys open into small comparatively level flats, some of which had been cultivated with patches of poppy or cotton or used as pasture. In several instances the spurs end in a knoll rather higher than the portion of the spur immediately inland of them, their appearance thus being that of a dragon’s foreleg ending in a heavy claw. The knolls in question rise above the small flats in curious isolated hills. The southern side of most of the ridges has by some natural agency been worn and scored into precipices of gravel. The northern slope, which is not actually precipitous, is generally covered with low scrub.
Immediately north of Walker’s Ridge is one such knoll, 150 feet in height, which, when it was afterwards held by the New Zealanders as an outpost, became known as “No. 1 Post.’’ It is in reality the end of the first spur which leaves the main ridge beyond The Nek - the very spur on the higher part of which, far up against the skyline, Lalor, Patterson, and the parties upon the seaward slope of Baby 700 began during the morning their bitter struggle. Detached from No. 1 Post, 300 yards north of it, is an isolated hillock only sixty feet high, a miniature of the other knolls. but standing by itself from the level which fringes the beach. On its sea- ward side was a long low hut of rough stones cemented with mud-a shelter for fishermen who at some time had worked upon this beach. This was known as “Fisherman’s Hut.” On the inland slope of the same knoll was a smaller hut, facing upon a narrow flat interposed between the mountains and two enclosing spurs. Not many of those who fought at Anzac were aware of the existence of this second hut. As it looked out over a small paddock, and was on the in- land side of the knoll, it was eventually named the “Shepherd’s Hut.” Between these knolls and the beach –which gradually receded from the foothills as it swept northward – there were small rectangular patches of open pasture or cultivation.
Map, p. 323.
When the battleship tows landed, they were fired on from the direction of No. 1 Post and Fisherman’s Hut. But the darkness, the surprise, and the fact that the tows landed half a mile distant from the Turkish posts, diminished the effect of this fire. The northernmost destroyer tows, coming in to land only 500 yards away, with the light growing and the Turkish outposts thoroughly awakened, had suffered more heavily. More southerly tows, moving in at the same time, had watched the 12th Battalion, as they said, “getting a hell of a time of it.” One of the first steps taken by Colonel Clarke of the 12th, when he landed under that fire, was to send Lieutenant Rafferty and his platoon straight to the north with orders to do his best to subdue it. Lieutenant Strickland with a platoon of the 11th worked along the beach itself; Rafferty made his way across the flats beside the beach.
Rafferty had with him twenty-three men of his own platoon and twenty stray men from other tows. His party opened into extended order and moved northwards through the scrub until they struck the mouth of a creek which had scored its channel about six feet deep through the sand to the beach. In front of them was a patch of pasture with a solitary olive tree. To their right front rose the high knoll of No. I Post. Ahead, about 300 yards distant across the open, was the smaller sandy knoll, with the Fisherman’s Hut low down on its seaward slope.
It was impossible to remain in the creek. Bullets whipped down it from some height on the inland side, and men began to fall. Rafferty, scrambling up the creek side, endeavoured to use his field-glasses and find the enemy against whom he had been sent. But the glasses had been drenched in the landing, and both his handkerchief and his shirt were soaked. He scanned the beach, but could see no one. The fire which swept the creek was probably coming from the top of No. 1 Post high on the right front, where, as daylight grew, trenches could be discerned. Ahead there were certainly Turks in trenches on the small knoll above Fisherman’s Hut. Rafferty was wondering what he ought to do next, when he noticed four white boats full of troops rowing across the sea on his left. They were coming directly towards Fisherman’s Hut. He decided to push on to the next rise-the foot of No. 1 Post-in order to assist their landing.
To do this he had to cross the field before mentioned. His men, and also Strickland’s from the beach, began to double over the level. A very heavy fire was opened on them. Of Rafferty’s party twenty fell in crossing it; twelve lay there dead. But Rafferty, Sergeant Skinner, and six others reached the low rise on the far side. Here they were fairly sheltered. If any Turks remained in the trenches on top of No. 1 Post, the hill was too steep for them to see this party at its foot. The rise obscured the boats from Rafferty, and he moved to the crest in order to obtain a view of them.
On climbing the rise, he found that the boats had reached the shore, and were aground on the beach. In front of them, lying down on the sand in a rough line, were the men who had landed in them. But not one of these moved. Anxious to know what they were doing and what were their intentions, Rafferty sought to attract their attention, but could get no response.
A Hobart man, Private Stubbings who was beside him, said: “I’ll go, sir.” He put down his rifle and equipment and ran across the open to the nearest boat. He discovered that all the men round him were either dead or so grievously wounded that they made no reply. Eventually he found, sheltering behind the boat, four who were able to speak to him. These could tell him no more than he could see for himself - that most of the men from the boats were dead. He ran back to Rafferty with his information.
What had happened was this. As dawn was breaking, the four transports carrying the greater part of the 2nd Brigade had crept in abreast of one another between the battleships to their berths opposite the landing-place. The plan was for the 2nd Brigade to land immediately after the 3rd Brigade, and to extend the line along the main ridge for two miles northwards to the summit of Hill 971. It had also to fling back a left flank from that point to the sea.
As the 2nd Brigade was to move to the left of the 3rd, its point of landing was to be immediately north of that of the latter; and its troops were therefore carried on the two northernmost transports of the four which moved inside the battleships and anchored at 4.45 a.m.
In the northernmost ship, the Galeka, were the 6th and 7th Battalions. The commander of the Galeka, Captain Bernard Burt, was typical of the merchant-captains whom Great Britain has continually produced since the days of Drake. His appearance and speech were those of the “Captain Kettle” of current romance. His one desire in the war was to strike a blow at the Germans. The irony of circumstance afterwards placed him in charge of the hospital ship Glenart Castle, in which he was sunk and drowned by a German submarine. On the morning of the landing his ship was to have been met at dawn by tows which, after setting ashore the 3rd Brigade, were to return and take the infantry from the transports of the 2nd.
The officers in these boats would know where the 3rd had landed, and would transport the 2nd to a suitable landing place presumably to the north of it. As they came ashore, the battalions were to be met by Staff officers and guided to a rendezvous.
The Galeka arrived punctually. There being no sign of the tows, Captain Burt held on his course and took the ship close in to the shore, 600 yards ahead of any other. There he anchored. Still no boats approached. The Gaba Tepe guns opened, and five minutes later shrapnel began to burst very close to the Galeka. It appeared dangerous for the ship to stay in that position indefinitely: one of her boats was hit by a shell as it lay beside her. The 6th and 7th Battalions of infantry were crowded on her decks, and Commander Sommerville, the naval officer on board responsible for the safety of the men and the ship, decided that the troops must land themselves at once, as best they could, in the ship’s own boats. Colonel Elliott of the 7th, who commanded the troops, was strongly opposed to this course, inasmuch as his men had been told off in numbers suitable for the tows. If they used the ship’s boats, which were smaller, the arrangements would be disorganised from the start. Moreover the landing-place was to have been communicated to them by the tows returning from the shore. Elliott and Sommerville could only tell the companies to land “on the left of the 3rd Brigade.” Neither they nor anyone else knew where the left of the 3rd Brigade was. Commander Sommerville, however, decided that a start must be made. Accordingly, at 5 a.m., Elliott told off three platoons of the leading company of the 7th Battalion. These were sent off in four of the ship’s boats under their company commander, Major Jackson, and were told to land about a mile north of the 3rd Brigade. As they moved away in the dim light, they could see the flashes of shells or rifles on their left front, apparently about half-way along the skyline of the mountain. This was the only sign of “the left of the 3rd Brigade” by which Jackson and the officers in the other boats could at first guide themselves.
The four boats moved together, carrying 140 men. Captain Layh, second-in-command of Jackson's company, was with them. As they neared the land, they saw ahead of them, immediately north of Ari Burnu Knoll, the Red Cross flag of the ambulance which had landed with the 3rd Brigade. They therefore headed to the north of this. The officers knew from the written orders that the 7th Battalion was to guard the flank about the Fisherman's Hut. Before them as they came in was a low sandy knoll, towards which they made, since it appeared likely to give thein cover. They did not know that at the foot of it stood the Fisherman's Hut itself. Approaching the shore, the men in the boats caught the sound of rifle firing. Away on their right were other boats, bringing troops of their battalion to land, and over these they could see shrapnel bursting. Jackson's own boats were not advancing into shrapnel but into rifle fire. They saw it cutting up the water ahead. There appeared to be two machine-guns and many rifles at work. After what seemed an endless time in approaching it, they gradually rowed into the field of fire. In the boat with Captain Layh were Lieutenant Heighway and part of his platoon. Five out of six of their rowers were shot, but others took the oars, and the boat did not stop. Layh was in the bows trying to cheer the men, Heighway at the tiller. The boat was scraping on the shingle when Heighway slid forward, wounded. The boat grounded, and, as Layh threw himself into the water beside it, he was shot through the hip. He turned to see if the men had landed, and was again shot through the leg. With the survivors he scrambled towards the little grass-tufted sand hummocks which here fringed the beach, and lay low behind them.
From where he crouched Layh could see others of his men lying under cover. He called to them. Only six answered. Heavy fire was sweeping over their heads. They guessed that it came from the Fisherman's Hut, which they had seen as they landed. They answered it with as heavy a fusillade as they could, Layh believing that the Turks would almost certainly come down and attack them. He ordered his men to fix bayonets, and to show them above the sand hummocks as if they were about to charge. Hardly was this done when the fire ceased, and at last they were able to move freely. It was found that, of the 140 souls in the boats, there were left Major Jackson, Captain Layh, Lieutenant Scanlan, and about thirty-five unhurt or lightly-wounded men. The rest lay in the boats or on the beach dead, dying, or grievously wounded.
Immediately before landing they had seen a line of men trying to advance towards them across a large open patch of green grass. They had seen these men shot down, and never realised that any had crossed the green. It was Rafferty's and Strickland's party coming to help them.
When Private Stubbings returned to him, Rafferty noticed that the fire from the knoll in front suddenly died away. Rafferty had by this time received three messages from the rear ordering him to retire. These messages had been shouted and signalled to him. He could not tell who sent them, and acting on a sound rule which all officers had been warned to observe, he had stayed where he was. Now, looking to the skyline of the main ridge far above him on the right, he saw Australians advancing there. Some slipped or lay down or were shot-it was impossible to say which. But at any rate they were there. and others could be seen on Walker's Ridge and the spurs to his right rear. There thus appeared to be plenty of troops now on the left of the landing. Rafferty therefore decided to go off with the survivors of his party and carry out the work which had been allotted to them in the plan of the landing-to escort the Indian Mountain Battery. About the same time at which the survivors with Jackson mustered below Fisherman's Hut, Rafferty with his remnant withdrew. Neither knew that the other party had survived.
Major Jackson proceeded towards the ambulance which he had seen when approaching the land. Layh and Scanlan, with their party, moved up past the Fisherman's Hut onto the small knoll behind the hut. Overlooking the beach, on top of the knoll, was a deserted trench. Probably it had been dug there in the Balkan Wars, for bushes had since sprung up on its parapet. The party occupied this trench, and also a trench which they found at the inland end of the knoll overlooking the Shepherd’s Hut and the small cultivation between that and the mountains.
Meanwhile Jackson had reached the 3rd Field Ambulance, and asked it to send stretcher-bearers to carry the wounded from the boats and the beach.
This was done. The ambulance asked that the party on the knoll should hold the position until the wounded were cleared. Layh and Scanlan promised to do so. In order to let Colonel Elliott know why this part of his battalion did not join him, Layh scribbled a message:
7th Battalion, 2 officers and 30 men are holding knoll above landing-place until wounded removed. Will then join battalion.
H. T. C. Layh, Captain,
This message eventually reached his battalion.
For most of the day the party held on. Two of the boats being able to float, wounded were put into them, and a trawler came in and towed them away. Meanwhile the Turks had been strangely quiet in the foothills. About 2.30 p.m., however, before the work of removing the wounded was completed, Turkish troops began to reappear in the spurs northward and inland of the knoll, and a formidable attack was developing from the spurs between the main ridge and the beach.
There is some evidence that fragments of Tulloch’s and other companies, which had been fighting on Baby 700, found their way from The Nek down Malone’s Gully to the beach ; and that some of these men, or possibly of Rafferty’s party, at one time held No. 1 Post. If that be so, when this Turkish counter-attack developed towards the end of the afternoon, these parties were driven back to the lower slopes of Walker’s Ridge.
It was this advance of the Turks from the north-cast which was beginning to be felt all over the northern half of the battlefield at this juncture. Here, on the extreme left, Layh and Scanlan and the thirty survivors above Fisherman’s Hut found that the enemy was driving towards the sea between them and Walker’s Ridge, threatening to cut them off. Since the Turks were in the rear of him, Layh withdrew his men to the beach through the gully bed - the mouth of the Sazli Beit-north of his position. A Turkish machine-gun kept them pinned down among the sand hummocks as they endeavoured to slip back along the shore; but the Turks could never by day come to the shore itself on account of the guns of the warships, and the party gradually crept along the beach. By dark it reached the dressing station, and thence reported to General Bridges’ headquarters. It was now eighteen strong. At once it was sent up to another part of the line by Major Glasfurd as reinforcement for the 3rd Brigade.
Watchers on the warships could see three boats lying upon the beach where Jackson’s party had landed. Two of these were boats of the 7th Battalion, and a third had landed part of the 12th a certain distance to the south. They lay there idly, as if some fishermen had beached them at their work. Men had been moving near them for most of the day, and to all appearance this beach was as much part of the Australian position as the Ari Burnu Knoll itself. In the ships nothing was known of the real position. But here the Navy witnessed a brave deed of which much has been written. On Monday, April 26th. when the landing was well established, and when, so far as those in the ships knew, the beach was firmly occupied, two men carrying a stretcher were seen to start out from the left of the Australian lines. They went along the beach to the boats. Here they picked up a man and began to carry him back. Presently they started to run. Fire had evidently been opened on them. They were observed to put down the stretcher, change ends, and start to run again. Suddenly both fell. They were not seen to move again. Men and officers of the Canopus, watching at intervals through the day, saw another party, which they took to be a burial party, go out armed to the figures which lay bunched in front of the boats. Behind the party rose the white sandy knoll and the Fisherman’s Hut, with its three empty silent windows staring at them. In front of them were the boats with their freight of dead, the naval coxswain still sitting at the tiller. The rest of the dead lay grouped upon the beach. No sooner had the burial party begun to work than fire was opened upon it, not from the hut, but apparently from the top of the knoll. Two men with a stretcher managed to return along the shore.
Exactly how many efforts were made to save these wounded will never be known. Such tasks, undertaken as a matter of course all over the Australian and New Zealand line, were never recorded. Only a few disconnected details have been preserved. Of the rescue of these men from the boats, where they had lain for thirty hours, the following details only are clear.
On the afternoon of the landing a party of New Zealanders and Australians was holding a trench on the edge of Walker's Ridge looking out over the long sweep of the beach far below. One of the party, Lance-Corporal Noel Ross, a son of the Official War Correspondent for New Zealand, had a range-finder which contained a powerful telescope. He was watching the deserted boats. In the nearer one a dead man sat with an arm thrown over the gunwale. In the other boat, half a mile from Ross, were a number of men-Australians. Ross counted about thirty. One man, a sailor, was lying in a lifelike attitude, his chin on his hand, gazing up at Walker’s Ridge. Ross thought no more of it until about 3 p.m. the following day, when lie happened to look at them again. Then he noticed that the sailor had changed his position, and was lying with his white cap still on his head but with his face turned up to the sky. As Ross watched, he was astonished to see a figure detach itself from the dreadful heap and begin to hobble along the beach. After a few yards it collapsed. A Turkish sniper had opened. The splash of his bullets could be seen in the water just beyond the man.
Ross went out with four men along the beach to bring him in. When they had gone a hundred yards, the sand and stones about them began to be whipped by Turkish bullets. They dropped behind the bank of the beach, and, dodging from shelter to shelter, reached a point within hail of the wounded man. He was lying out in the open. But, little by little, crawled to cover. He had been shot through both legs and nearly collapsed, but his spirit was high, and they brought him back. There were four others in the heap, he said, still alive. There had been eight, but four had died before the dawn.
The remaining survivors appear to have been rescued by stretcher-bearers of the 2nd Battalion. From his position on Walker’s Ridge Lieutenant Westbrook of this battalion had noticed, like Ross, some movement of one of the figures lying before Fisherman’s Hut. He asked two stretcher- bearers of his battalion, by name Carpenter and Roberts, if they would try to bring this man in. The two men went at once, taking their stretcher. As they neared the boats, fire was opened upon them. They found several of the men still alive, and made the journey four times, each time bringing in a wounded man. Some New Zealanders then went out with an improvised stretcher and picked up a fifth, but the task of carrying him on the makeshift bed was almost impossible. The two Australians with their stretcher therefore went out again and helped them to finish the journey. So far as is known, the last of the wounded from the boats were removed on Monday evening after dark. It is said that nine were saved who had lain there since the dawn of Sunday.
About 3 o’clock on the afternoon of April 25th the Turks who forced Layh to leave the Fisherman’s Hut began to work over or around the four seaward fingers of Baby 700 towards Walker’s Ridge itself. General Bridges was aware of the importance of this Ridge-the only possible position for his left flank-and he had decided to reinforce it with the remaining New Zealand battalions. But the landing of the New Zealanders had been interrupted, and the Turkish attack which developed against Walker’s Ridge about nightfall \vas faced by a few scattered handfuls of men.
The slender garrison may be thus enumerated. The beach at the foot of the ridge was empty until Lieutenant Shout of the 1st Battalion, after taking reinforcements up to Braund on the Top, garrisoned it with a few men collected by himself and Lance-Corporal Freame. Above them the razorback crest of the spur was occupied by a party of Australians and New Zealanders under Captain Critchley-Salmonson of the Canterbury Battalion. Salmonson, with some of the Canterburys, had been in reserve on Plugge’s at about 2 p.m., when a note reached him from Major Stuckey of the Auckland Battalion, who was near The Nek, to the effect that the Turks were moving round the left and that ammunition was running out. Salmonson took his platoon of New Zealanders and reached a point about half-way up Walker’s Ridge, below the knoll and the gap, which were then its chief features. He had with him here a few men of the 9th, 11th, and 12th Australian Battalions, who had retired towards the beach from the fighting on Baby 700. His party did not amount to fifty.
It has been related how, during the earlier hours of the afternoon, Colonel Braund-taking with him Burke’s and Concanon’s companies of the 2nd Battalion-climbed up Walker’s Ridge past the gap onto Russell’s Top. The gap, which was then passable at the cost of many casualties, became almost impassable at a later stage. When the remnants of the two companies of the Auckland Battalion which had been holding the support line on Baby 700 retired over Russell’s Top to the head of Walker’s Ridge, they found the Turkish fire upon this gap so heavy that they were checked. Two scouts were sent ahead to find the way, but they never returned. The party therefore stayed on Walker’s Ridge above the gap. With the Aucklanders were some survivors of the 1st and 3rd Australian Brigades under Lieutenant Jackson of the 11th and other officers. During the night there reached these Australians a message - based on a countermanded order - stating that the 3rd Australian Brigade was to be relieved, and that its men were to concentrate on the beach. But so heavy was the tire at this point in the ridge, that Jackson’s party remained on the spot all night with the Aucklanders.
In the expanse of scrub beyond the head of Walker’s Ridge, on Russell’s Top, was Colonel Braund with his two companies of the 2nd Battalion. Near him in the scrub lay the remnants of Colonel Stewart’s two companies of the Canterburys. Lieutenant Shout had brought to him from the beach some 200 stray men of all battalions. And with Braund, weary to death, was also a handful of the mixed remnants of the Australian and New Zealand companies which had been fighting on Baby 700.
Map, p. 334.
Such was the position at nightfall on Walker’s Ridge and the part of Russell’s Top immediately above it. Braund’s right ended in the scrub on the Top, and of what troops or country were beyond it, or of what was passing there, he had no idea. The scrub in which his right lay was swept by Turkish machine-guns. Braund knew that Australians and New Zealanders had been holding ground on his right front before dusk. But they had retired-some upon his line, others else- where. Never at any time was he in touch with troops on his right. Neither friend or enemy held the head of Monash Valley and Pope’s Hill, was unknown to him. There was a gap to his right, and no one could stir upon Russell’s Top to find how wide that gap was. The line along Walker‘s Ridge was thus an isolated flank, disconnected from the main front of the Australian position which faced inland along the other side of Monash Valley. Actually, whether Braund knew it or not, a party of Turks, following Howe, had penetrated far along the inland edge of Russell’s Top, between the two sections of the Australian and New Zealand line.
In headquarters, on the beach, Braund’s difficulties were well realised. Notions as to the nature of the gap between the head of Monash Valley and Walker's Ridge were very vague. But it was known that the left of the line had been driven in, and that the main danger was that the Turks would penetrate from Baby 700 behind the back of the line which was holding the edge of Monash Valley. As has been related, a promise was sent to Braund that he would he strengthened with two battalions of New Zealanders to help him dig in and hold his position. Into the other side of the gap, at the head of Monash Valley, were hurried the first troops, now landing, of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade.
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.
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