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A Message for Australia  Day 2002

Date: 1/24/2002
Time: 10:38:45 PM
Remote Name:


LONESOME PINE. Great Charge by Light Horsemen. Story of the Battle. (From Captain C.E.W. Bean, Official Representative with the Commonwealth Expeditionary Forces). Gaba Tepe, August 15, 1915. The long battle for Lone Pine, one of the most brilliant phases of the great battle which has been taking place on Gallipoli for the past fortnight, appears definitely to have come to an end. For six days the Turks counter-attacked almost continuously night and day, showering into the captured trenches a rain of bombs, which, apparently was inexhaustible. Over one thousand dead have been removed from the trenches themselves, but during the first three days, whilst the fighting was acute, almost the whole time the men simply had to fight over bodies two and three deep in the bottom of the trenches. About half of these dead were Turks. All the time the supply of water, bombs, and ammunition - everything for the support of a brigade - was coming and going down one or two narrow communication tunnels, mostly pitch dark, which were the only communication at that stage with the captured trenches. Whilst this work was proceeding at the rear, in the foremost trenches, only a few yards away, there was taking place a constant series of desperate, often wildly adventurous, combats between parties of our men and the enemy, who were continually bombing one another around corners and angles of this maze of trenches. The Seventh Battalion was put in to support the First Brigade, and during one day and night sustained a tremendous bomb attack. By the sixth day the attack of the two Turkish Reserve Brigades, which had been thrown against the captured trenches after the original brigade had been beaten out, had spent its force. Last night, after a bombardment, the Turks poured into Lone Pine such a fusilade of bombs as was never before heard at Anzac, but no attack occurred. The trenches are now solidly ours. Their capture by the First Brigade and the defence by the same troops, who retained their dash and cheerfulness to the last, are a feat as fine as any accomplished in this war. Never to be Forgotten Charge. Another feat which deserves never to be forgotten, though probably less will be heard of it, was the attempt of the First and Third Light Horse brigades to capture the trenches opposite them. The attack on Lone Pine had already forced the Turks to rush two brigades of reserves to the south end of the line, and it was now necessary to prevent them moving troops from the centre. For this purpose, the two Light Horse brigades were ordered to charge from the angle of our line the immensely strong position held by the Turks opposite them. The Turkish lines here consist of trench after trench for sometimes eight deep across gradually rising background. The main ridge attack was made at dusk after half an hour's bombardment. The bombardment was the heaviest heard at Anzac, but the front Turkish trenches were so close to our own that it was impossible to reach them. The bombardment stopped at 4.30 pm, as it was cut short by night, and at that instant there broke out such a rattle of rifle and machine gun fire as was never heard before. Into that fusillade at that instant our men went out. The Third Light Horse Brigade was attacking the narrow neck of the ridge, only 100 yards broad, across which trenches faced each other at 50 yards distance. The attacking party was divided into four lines, with 150 men in each. The moment the bombardment stopped the first line, on a signal given by the officers, with watches in hand, jumped over the parapet. Many fell back, wounded, but the rest rushed on. The dust of the bullets and shrapnel from the French 75's millimetre gun poured across the whole neck in a thick haze, through which figures of hurrying and falling men could dimly be seen. Two minutes later the second line followed. This line reached the right hand corner of the Turkish trench, and took it, because a small flag which they carried with them, in order to mark the captured trench, appeared for a couple of minutes in the extreme right hand corner of the trenches on the neck. The third line was immediately sent forward. The men leapt from the parapet without the least hesitation. The flag in the trench opposite by this time had disappeared, and the attack was, therefore, ordered to cease, in time to check a few of the third line on the left, who had not reached the fire zone. The Eighth Light Horse led the charge. About half of the Tenth Regiment had also gone forward when the attack was stopped. Further to the right the First Light Horse Brigade made an equally gallant and desperate attack. The second regiment was to charge from Quinn's. The attacking party was organised in lines of fifty men. The First Light Horse Regiment issued from both flanks of its position at the head of the valley, between the other two attacks, under a heavy fire. They managed to take three trenches. Eventually it became clear that if the men remained much longer all must be killed. The attacking party, therefore, was withdrawn. In the meantime a company of Welsh Fusiliers had continued. Undoubtedly, this attack succeeded in preventing the Turks moving their reserves. The Turkish trenches were crowded, sometimes three deep. Some of the Turks wore packs in full marching order. Evidently they were preparing to start a march northwards when this attack detained them. We retained none of the trenches attacked in this fight, but for sheer self-sacrifice and heroism this charge of the Australian Light Horse is unsurpassed in history. LEST WE FORGET.

Last changed: January 24, 2002