Audio

Kamikaze part 1

Kamikaze part 1 [Reg Walker, HMAS Australia]

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The 'Navy' Hymn

The 'Navy' Hymn

Played by the Australian Navy Band conducted by Lieutenant Commander Phillip Anderson.

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Hymn

Eternal Father, strong to save
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits to keep
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Christ, whose voice the waters heard,
And hushed their raging at Thy word
Who walkedst on the foaming deep,
And calm amid the storm did'st sleep,
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Holy Spirit, who did'st brood
Upon the waters dark and rude,
And bid their angry tumult cease,
And give for wild confusion, peace;
O hear us when we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea.

O Trinity of love and power,
Our brethren shield in danger's hour,
From rock and tempest, fire and foe
Protect them wheresoe'r they go-,
Thus evermore shall rise to Thee
Glad hymns of praise from land and sea.

Life at Milne Bay

[Bruce Brown, 75 Squadron RAAF]

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Fuzzy Wuzzy angels poems

'Angels' poem

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Fleets, Roy Scrivener

Able Seaman Roy Scrivener, HMAS Hobart with a brief description of the role of the Allied fleets in the Battle of the Coral Sea. [Roy Scrivener, HMAS Hobart]

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Able Seaman Roy Scrivener

Able Seaman Roy Scrivener, HMAS Hobart.
[Roy Scrivener, HMAS Hobart]

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Proud Echo

‘Proud Echo’ was composed by Lieutenant Commander Phillip Anderson to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the loss of HMAS Perth and USS Houston during the Battle of Sunda Strait. The march features the bugle, a traditional instrument of communication used on board ships of British Commonwealth navies.

[Played by the Royal Australian Navy Band conducted by Lieutenant Commander Phillip Anderson]

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Prime Minister Menzies announcement

A recording of Prime Minister Menzies announcing Australia's entry into the war.

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Max Nicholson's experiences as a National Serviceman in Vietnam

Audio of Trooper Peter Maxwell Nicholson, 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron, served in Vietnam during 1966 – 1967. Major Lance Logan interviewed him about his experiences as a National Serviceman in Vietnam. [AWM S03481]

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Overlooking North Beach at Walker’s Ridge

Directions

Leave Walker’s Ridge Cemetery and turn right down the track to the end of the ridge. Be careful here! There are no fences and the drop is almost sheer down to the gully below. Ahead of you the view is back down to where you began your ‘Anzac Walk’ at North Beach and the Anzac Commemorative Site.

Download audio of Overlooking North Beach at Walker’s Ridge 7.51 MB MP3

Audio transcript

If you had gazed down on 13 November 1915 at about 1.30 pm from where you are standing you would have seen a tall man in the uniform of a British Field Marshal striding up one of the piers at North Beach. Behind him came a gaggle of generals and commanders, including Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood, for this was Earl Kitchener of Khartoum, Secretary of State for War in the British Cabinet and overall commander of the British Empire’s armies in the field. Word quickly got around just who the famous visitor was and soldiers ran to the pier to cheer. Kitchener made his way through the crowd stopping to chat to this man and that man all the while telling them – ‘The King has asked me to tell you how splendidly he thinks you have done, you have done splendidly, better even than I thought you would’.

With Kitchener in the lead, the entourage now made its way up the ‘dusty, precipitous road’ to Walker’s Ridge and a trench looking out towards the Nek and up to Chunuk Bair. Then he went to a nearby position known as Bully Beef Sap and was shown the Anzac line – Pope’s Hill, Quinn’s Post and Lone Pine. Kitchener had come to see the situation at Gallipoli for himself. By 3.30 pm he was gone and by late November the British War Cabinet, after hearing from Kitchener, had decided to evacuate the three British positions on Gallipoli – Suvla, Anzac and Helles.

The decision was based on a number of concerns. Winter was coming and early gales had already shown that nature was capable of having a devastating effect on the precarious man-made piers of Gallipoli. On 27 November torrential rain turned the trenches into rivers and this was followed by high winds and snow. Sergeant Cyril Lawrence wrote in his diary:

Just fancy yourself, standing in a trench, a piercing wind roaring along it, the snow driving down it in great gusts. Everyone and everything coated white, your frozen feet over your boot tops in half frozen slush … Your feet and hands are paining you. Someone runs along the trench with your day’s rations – a tin of Bully Beef and three hard biscuits. Water is short so you only get a half a cupful of tea with the information that this is to do for the day, as they are unable to land water.

[The Gallipoli Diary of Sergeant Lawrence of the Australian Engineers, Sir Ronald East (ed), Melbourne 1983, p 118]

Up at the British positions at Suvla, 30 men were found in a trench frozen to death.

The Turkish Army was also preparing for the day when it could crush the Anzac position. At the end of September 1915, Bulgaria entered the war on the side of Germany and Turkey, making it possible to send heavy guns and ammunition overland to the Turks. By the spring of 1916, the Anzac positions, and those of the British at Suvla and Helles, might have been pulverized into submission by siege artillery. In general, it was felt that nothing more could be achieved at Gallipoli so evacuation plans were drawn up and quickly implemented.

In stages, and at night, more than 41,000 men were shipped quietly away from Anzac. If the Turks had realised what was happening during this time, thousands of casualties might have been inflicted on the departing garrison. So great efforts were made to deceive the ever-watchful Turks that their enemies were merely preparing for winter. The Turks became accustomed to a lessening of activity through so-called ‘silent stunts’ during which there was no firing from the Anzac line and it might seem that a live and let live policy was being adopted. After 27 November, firing and bombardments were resumed as normal. On the final day of the evacuation – 19 December – various ruses were used. One group was ordered to hang around on Artillery  Road where they should be observed ‘obviously loafing and smoking’. Others had a cricket match on Shell Green to convince the Turks life was proceeding normally on Anzac.

What greatly distressed the Anzacs was having to leave their dead comrades behind. As the evacuation proceeded, little groups of men could be seen tidying up the cemeteries and individual graves. On the final day General Birdwood came ashore to say his personal farewell to Anzac. One soldier, pointing to a cemetery, said to him, ‘I hope they won’t hear us marching down the deres [valleys]’.

Much of the evacuation was conducted from the piers of North Beach although Anzac Cove was used as well. Motor lighters took men and equipment out to waiting warships and transports which then left for the base at Lemnos Island. On the night of 15 December, the men and mules of an Indian Mountain Battery came down to North Beach from the hills to the north:

At once I thought – ‘My goodness, if the Turks don’t see all this as it goes along they must be blind’. But as I went along behind them I began to notice how silently these mules behaved. They had big loads but they were perfectly quiet. They made no sound as they walked except for the slight jingle of a chain now and then … I doubt if at 1,000 yards [914 metres] you could see them at all – possibly just a black serpentine streak.

[Unnamed diarist in Charles Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p 866]

The fleet that came to take the final parties away on the last two nights – 18–19 and 19–20 December – sailed from Imroz Island. As the warships and transports came in to anchor off the Anzac shore, nobody there could hear the normal rattle of the anchor chains. Instead, these were lowered silently by the sailors. With the fleet was the cruiser HMS Grafton and one of its crew recorded the event:

It is about 9 o’clock. An ideal night for the job. No ships (only a few lights) visible at Suvla. One ship about a mile on our port beam. Barely a wrinkle on the water. Soft air from the north. Moon at present quite invisible. The wash of a destroyer has been lapping against our side like the wavelets on the edge of a pond.

[Unnamed diarist in Charles Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, pp 888–9]

On the last night of all small rear parties manned the trenches. Men ran around firing rifles and making enough noise to convince the Turks that the whole garrison was still there. Among the last to leave and head for North Beach was New Zealander Private Joe Gasparich, Auckland Infantry Battalion:

I walked through the trench and the floor was frozen hard … and when I brought my feet down they echoed right through the trench, down the gully, right down, and you could hear this echo running ahead …Talk about empty, I didn’t see a soul … It was a lonely feeling … I was on my own at last.

[Gasparich quoted in Chris Pugsley, Gallipoli:The New Zealand Story, Auckland, 1998, p 341]

At 4.00 am on 20 December there was one steamboat left at North Beach. Waiting beside it were Captain C M Staveley, The Royal Navy Anzac Beach Commander, and Colonel John Paton, commander of the Anzac rearguard, of Newcastle, New South Wales, and other officers. They waited for ten more minutes for stragglers then cast off, Paton being the last to leave. Anzac was deserted. 

Ah, well! We’re gone! We’re out of it now. We’ve some-
where else to fight.
And we strain our eyes from the transport deck, but
‘Anzac’ is out of sight!

Walker’s Ridge Cemetery

Directions

Leave the Nek Cemetery and turn right down the track until you reach Walker’s Ridge Cemetery. From the cemetery observe the view to the north. Below, and to your right, are the valleys and spurs leading back up to Koja Temen Tepe and Chunuk Bair. Straight ahead are the Suvla Plains with, in the distance, the long mountain ridge of Kirech Tepe. If you let your eye follow the curving sweep of Ocean Beach it will come to a point – Nibrunesi Point. Between there and another point to the north lies Suvla Bay. A ‘cut’ in the bay across the sand leads into the Salt Lake. This whole area witnessed a great deal of fighting during the August Offensive in 1915. During that month a last great effort was made to break out of Anzac, capture the heights of Chunuk Bair and bring the campaign to a successful end.

Download audio of Walker’s Ridge Cemetery 6.57 MB MP3

Audio transcript

From Walker’s Ridge between 7 and 10 August 1915 you would have seen wounded men lying in pain all over the heights and valleys before you. Those capable of walking or crawling made their way to aid posts at the end of the valleys. A grimmer aspect of this scene was recorded by Sergeant Harold Jackson:

From the trench down to the beach, about 4 miles [6.4 kms], is one long line of grey stiff bodies of men who have died trying to get down to the beach unassisted.

[Sergeant Harold Jackson, 13th Battalion AIF, 1DRL/0592, Australian War Memorial]

Up in one of the valleys Private Ormond Burton, New Zealand Medical Corps, tried to care for this mass of suffering. Nobody appeared to be responsible for them and men lay out in the noon day sun with no food or water. Some, from where they lay dying, could see the white-painted hospital ships off shore. Burton gave his water bottle to a Turkish officer with some of his men lying nearby:

He gave every drop to his men and took not a mouthful himself. I saw nothing more dreadful during the whole war than the suffering of those men.

[Burton quoted by Chris Pugsley, Gallipoli:The New Zealand Story, Auckland, 1998, p 305]

These casualties were the result of the battle to wrest the heights of Chunuk Bair from the Turks between 7 and 10 August. The plan was a complicated one. At Anzac, an Australian attack at Lone Pine (The Battle of Lone Pine) on the afternoon of 6 August was to tie down Turkish reserves to that area and to make the enemy think that a major attempt to break through their lines was taking place there. Meantime, in the dark of 6 August long columns of Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian infantry left the gullies above North Beach, made their way along the beach and then headed up into the hills. The Australians, along with an Indian unit, went a long way north, then swung around virtually out of sight of where you are standing at Walker’s Ridge and headed up a distant valley. Their aim was to assault and capture the range’s highest summit – Koja Temen Tepe, the Hill of the Great Pasture.

Before the New Zealand infantry could make their way up into the valleys various Turkish positions had to be captured. This job went to the New Zealand Mounted Rifles and with them went men of the Maori Contingent. The Maoris attacked in traditional style:

The Turks still held this trench further on, and the Maoris could hear their voices. The advance party worked towards them, and Captain Dansey said, ‘Let’s charge them!’ This the little party did. They yelled as they went, with bayonets at the charge,

Ka mate, ka mate!
Ka ora, ka ora!

the ancient Maori battle-song … On they went for those Turks; there was no breath to finish the chant; they needed it to push the bayonet home. The lads hurled themselves at the foe like a band of destroying angels; with bayonet and rifle butt they cleared the trench; only the dead and dying remained. Some Maoris fell, but the victory was with them.

Ka mate, ka mate!

[James Cowen, The Maoris in the Great War, Auckland, 1926, pp 40–41]

On the morning of 7 August, the New Zealand infantry had reached Rhododendron Ridge and the Apex about 500 metres below Chunuk Bair. From here, on the morning of 8 August, the Wellington Battalion advanced to a position just below the summit from which they could see what the whole Gallipoli campaign was about – the straits of the Dardanelles. For a day the Wellingtons withstood devastating Turkish counter-attacks and Bean described their condition when they were relieved:

Of the 760 of the Wellington Battalion who had captured the height that morning, there came out only 70 unwounded … Throughout that day not one had dreamed of leaving his post. Their uniforms were torn, their knees broken … they could only talk in whispers; their eyes were sunken; their knees trembled; some broke down and cried.

[Charles Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, Sydney 1924, p 279]

Commanding the Turks at Chunuk Bair was Colonel Mustafa Kemal. Just before dawn on 10 August he prepared his men for a massed bayonet attack to drive the British troops, who now held the old Wellington Battalion’s position, from the heights. Kemal later wrote:

The blanket of dawn had lifted. Now was the hour for the attack. I looked at my watch. It was nearly 4.30 am … I greeted the men and addressed them: ‘Soldiers! There is no doubt that we can defeat the enemy opposing us. But don’t you hurry, let me go in front first. When you see the wave of my whip all of you rush forward together’. Then I went to a point forward of the assault line, and, raising my whip, gave the signal for the assault.

This fierce Turkish rush swept the British troops away from Chunuk Bair. But as the Turks dashed down the slope on the other side towards the sea they were stopped and killed in their hundreds by New Zealand machine guns and the shells of British warships.

The August Offensive failed. The British troops who landed at Suvla Bay on the night of 6–7 August made little progress inland. A Gurkha unit which scaled the heights beyond Chunuk Bair was shot off the hill by artillery as it charged down the other side. The Australian attack further north got nowhere. In a sense, although the British Empire troops hung on here for another three and a half months until the evacuation, this was the end of the Gallipoli campaign.

When you have finished your Anzac Walk, and if time permits, you might like to make your way up the main road to Chunuk Bair. There you will find the New Zealand Memorial and facing it a huge statue of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who in 1923 became the first President of the Republic of Turkey. Gallipoli helped to make Atatürk as it also helped make the Anzac legend for New Zealand. On the New Zealand Memorial are these words:

In honour of
the soldiers
of the
New Zealand
Expeditionary Force
8th August
1915
From the Uttermost
Ends of the Earth

The Nek Cemetery

Directions

After leaving the Turkish Soldiers Memorial turn left and head up the paved road past the 57th Regiment Memorial on your right until you come to a fork in the road. The paved road leads up to Chunuk Bair but you should turn down left along the unpaved road. Following this road you will pass a Turkish memorial (Sergeant Mehmet’s Memorial) on your right and soon to your right will be the Nek Cemetery. Enter the cemetery and make for the special memorial headstones to your right in front of the cemetery cross.

Download audio of The Nek Cemetery 4.96 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Those words were written by Captain Leslie Hore of the 8th Light Horse Regiment from western Victoria. Look at the date on four of the Special Memorials in front of you – 7 August 1915. On that day at this spot between 4.30 and 5.15 am, 234 Australian Light Horsemen from Victoria and Western Australia were killed and a further 138 were wounded. They were casualties in the action depicted in George Lambert’s famous painting which hangs in the Australian War Memorial – The Charge of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at the Nek, 7 August 1915. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade consisted of the 8th Light Horse Regiment from Victoria, the 9th from South Australia and the 10th from Western Australia. Only elements of the 8th and 10th Light Horse took part in the action at the Nek on 7 August.

The charge was also depicted in the last minutes of Peter Weir’s film Gallipoli which featured Mark Lee and Mel Gibson as two young Western Australian Light Horsemen. Lee, in the role of Archie Hamilton, dies as machine gun bullets rip across his chest while he runs full pelt across no-man’s-land without his rifle, his body thrusting forward towards the enemy. After the war the remains of many of the dead of the Nek, most of whom could not be identified, were gathered into this cemetery and they lie all around you here.

What happened? The charge, planned for 4.30 am on 7 August 1915, was part of a number of diversionary actions. These diversions were aimed to tie down Turkish troops to the Anzac position while Allied units to the north (Australians, British, New Zealanders, Gurkha's and Indians) tried to storm the heights of Chunuk Bair and Hill 971. Go to the edge of the cemetery and look at the scene to the immediate north and north-east. The main attack of the so-called ‘August Offensive’ went through these steep gullies and ridges. It began on the night of 6 August and by dawn on 7 August New Zealand infantry were supposed to have reached the high point way up to your right known as Chunuk Bair. The Australian Light Horse charge was planned for the very moment when the New Zealanders were supposed to have been taking Chunuk Bair, and the Turks in their trenches at the Nek were supposed to be distracted by the possibility of attack from the rear.

Unfortunately, by 4.30 am the New Zealanders had failed to reach their objective and had halted on Rhododendron Ridge below the summit of Chunuk Bair.

Any attack across the narrow section of land known as the Nek, directly at heavily defended Turkish trenches, was regarded as suicidal unless the enemy line was collapsing from the rear. Although that could not now happen, the Light Horse were ordered in anyway on the grounds that everything must be done to assist the New Zealanders to make the main attack on the heights. An artillery and naval bombardment on the enemy trenches inexplicably ceased minutes before the Light Horsemen were due to go. When the first wave – men of the 8th Light Horse – rose from the trench the Turkish soldiers, who had time to take up positions again in the lull after the bombardment, cut them down within seconds. A second wave of the 8th was similarly destroyed. There was a pause. An officer questioned the value of sending more men to certain death but the Light Horse were ordered to press on. Next rose the first wave of the 10th Light Horse:

The 10th went forward to meet death instantly, as the 8th had done, the men running as swiftly and as straight as they could at the Turkish rifles. With that regiment went the flower of the youth of Western Australia …

[Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p 617]

A fourth wave of Western Australians also charged before the attack was finally called off. Charles Bean called this event ‘one of the bravest actions in the history of war’, each man in those waves which rose after the first going forward in the full knowledge that he was unlikely to survive. How the Nek must have looked on that morning as the day lengthened has been described in these words:

At first here and there a man raised his arm to the sky, or tried to drink from his water bottle; but, as the sun of that burning day climbed higher, such movements ceased: over the whole summit the figures lay still in the quivering heat.

[Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p.633]

Turkish Memorial

Directions

Leave Quinn’s Post Cemetery and go back to the road. Turn left and proceed up the hill until you reach the large statue of a Turkish soldier on your left.

Download audio of Turkish Memorial 4.78 MB MP3

Audio transcript

This larger than life sized representation of the ordinary Turkish soldier, rifle in hands, faces determinedly downhill. This was how the Turkish soldiers on the day of the invasion of their country – 25 April 1915 – faced the Anzacs coming up these slopes from the beach towards the heights of Chunuk Bair. On the slopes behind the monument leading up to what was called Battleship Hill was fought one of the most crucial actions of the Battle of the Landing and it was here that the capability and courage shown by the Turks sealed the fate of the Anzacs.

Before the invasion the fighting capacities of the Turkish army had not been highly regarded. The power and effectiveness of the old ‘Ottoman Empire’ had been declining for nearly a century and in any invasion of Turkey it was thought that British cold steel and determination would soon sweep aside the defenders in a triumphant assault. When the Australians first landed they encountered small bodies of Turks who, after doing what they could, withdrew back over the ridges. The main Turkish forces in the area had been held in reserve to see just where the British Empire troops were going to land on the peninsula. By 6.30 am a report had reached the commander of the Turkish 19th Division, Colonel Mustafa Kemal, that an enemy force had scaled the heights at Ari Burnu. Kemal’s troops were at Bigali, a small village off to the east beyond the main range, and he ordered his whole division to prepare to march to the coast. He himself set off riding at the head of the 57th Regiment.

Cast your eyes up along the main road to the very top of the range, the heights of Chunuk Bair. By about 9.30 am Kemal stood there with some other officers. He could see the British warships and transports off Anzac Cove and also, coming rapidly up the hill towards him, a group of Turkish soldiers who had been tasked with defending Hill 261 (Battleship Hill). Kemal spoke to them:

‘Why are you running away?’ ‘Sir, the enemy’, they said. ‘Where?’ ‘Over there’, they said, pointing out hill 261 … I said to the men who were running away, ‘You cannot run from the enemy’. ‘We have got no ammunition’, they said. ‘If you haven’t got any ammunition, you have got your bayonets’, I said, and shouting to them, I made them fix their bayonets and lie down on the ground’. When the men fixed their bayonets and lay down on the ground the enemy also lay down …

[Kemal quoted in Robert Rhodes James, Gallipoli, London, 1999, p 113]

Kemal was later to see this as one of the most crucial moments of the day. The advancing Anzacs had been temporarily halted and he sent at once to have the advance units of the 57th Regiment sent up. For the rest of the day Kemal’s men and, in a series of bloody counter-attacks, the soldiers of the 27th Regiment further south at Lone Pine, held back the Anzac attempts to advance. The Anzacs were unable to progress any further than those positions they would ultimately occupy for eight months at Gallipoli. On 25 April 1915, the Anzacs discovered that Turkish soldiers, well led and fighting for their homeland, would stand up to them.

This Turkish steadfastness was revealed at Quinn’s Post after the failed Turkish counter-attack of 19 May 1915. On that morning 3,000 Turkish dead lay out along the ridge below the Turkish Soldier Memorial and a further 7,000 had been wounded. Anzac intelligence interpreters, sensing that the Turks may have been demoralised by the spectacular failure of their attack, called out from the trenches at Quinn’s that they would be well treated if they surrendered. The most common response was a bomb or a bullet. On another occasion a surrender message was thrown into the Turkish lines and the reply came back – ‘You think there are no Turks left. But there are Turks, and Turks’ sons!’ 

The nature of war meant that the Australian soldiers hardly had any social contact with their enemies. The only ones they were likely to meet were prisoners who were made to labour at times in the Anzac position. While most Turkish POWs were taken to the islands, a POW cage was established in the hills behind Anzac Cove. On one occasion Bean observed prisoners in this cage being subjected to threatening behaviour by one or two Anzacs and he ‘wondered why someone hadn’t the decency to hit the man who did it straight in the face’. But generally, the Anzacs recognised in the Turk a fellow sufferer and acknowledged his humanity. In his poem ‘Anzac’ Lieutenant Oliver Hogue wrote:

I reckon the Turk respects us, as we respect the Turk;
Abdul’s a good, clean fighter – we’ve fought him, and we know.

Quinn’s Post

Directions

Leave Johnston’s Jolly Cemetery and turn right. Head up the road past Courtney’s and Steele’s Post Cemetery until you reach Quinn’s Post Cemetery which will be on your left. Quinn’s was named after Major Hugh Quinn, 15th Battalion, of Charters Towers, Queensland. Enter the cemetery and find a position where you can look back down to the sea along Monash and Shrapnel Valleys.

Download audio of Quinn’s Post 5.88 MB MP3

Audio transcript

The jutting ridges (spurs) at the end of Monash Valley were seen as the ‘key to Anzac’. For virtually the whole of the campaign the Turks held the spur just to the north of Quinn’s Post where you are now standing – Deadman’s Ridge. From this position, and positions higher up the hill, concealed snipers fired down into the valley below, making movement by day up to Quinn’s and the other posts along the ridge a life threatening undertaking. Quinn’s was also the last trench in an Anzac line stretching up from Brighton Beach, along Bolton’s Ridge, across 400 Plateau at Lone Pine and Johnston’s Jolly and along Second Ridge.

Just across from Quinn’s, to the left of Deadman’s, is another spur that was called Pope’s Hill. The Anzacs held a trench line on this spur. Beyond is Russell’s Top and the Nek and beyond that again the yellow slopes of Sari Bair leading down to the sea at North Beach. The Turkish front line lay on the other side of the road and in certain places approached close to the trenches at Quinn’s. Here the Turks had only to advance a few metres, breach the Anzac line and the whole Anzac area could be lost.

Up until mid-June, the fighting at Quinn’s was of a ferocity and intensity unequalled on any other part of the line. Anzac attacks to push the line forward from the valley crest, bombing duels and aggressive tunneling below ground from both sides gave the post a fearsome reputation:

Men passing the fork in Monash Valley, and seeing and hearing the bombs bursting up at Quinn’s, used to glance at the place (as one of them said), ‘as a man looks at a haunted house’.

[Charles Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p 91]

The importance of this part of the Anzac line was quickly realised and various small parties held on here against Turkish attacks in the days after the landing. On 29 April, Captain Hugh Quinn arrived here with a detachment of Queenslanders from the 15th Battalion just as the Turks were digging in around the head of Monash Valley and across from Quinn’s Post. There now commenced a struggle at Quinn’s that was to continue 24 hours a day for eight months. Part of the incessant danger at Quinn’s lay in the fact that it was overseen by enemy positions on three sides and to raise one’s head here above the parapet of the trench was to invite instant death from ever watchful Turkish riflemen. Periscopes allowed a brief scan of the Turkish line but these too were quickly shot away if not removed in time. The invention of the famous periscope rifle eventually allowed relatively safe and accurate rifle fire to be directed back at the Turkish positions. Wire nets erected above the trenches also held back many of the enemy bombs (hand grenades).

A feature of the fighting at Quinn’s was the bombing. In the early days the advantage here lay with the Turks as the Anzacs possessed no grenades while the Turks had a seemingly endless supply of cricket-ball shaped bombs. An Anzac bomb factory, using explosives packed in bully beef and jam tins, was set up at the beach and although there were never enough of these simple devices produced, the defenders of Quinn’s were at least able to retaliate. If a man was quick enough, Turkish bombs could also be picked up and thrown back. The Turks, however, soon began cutting their fuses shorter and one Australian had his hand blown off before it was realised what was happening. Another method of dealing with the bombs was to throw a thick overcoat over them to stifle the explosion or, if you had real grit, fall upon the bomb with a half-full sandbag.

A particular bomb duel developed at Quinn’s on the night of 13–14 May 1915. The position had just been taken over by the recently arrived 2nd Light Horse Regiment, Queenslanders described by Bean as ‘little more than boys’. In reply to their questions about what it was like in these trenches, a man of the tired garrison of the 15th Battalion replied – ‘You might get a few bombs’. By nightfall the bombs were falling thick and fast on the startled Light Horsemen, driving them back and forward along the trenches. Part of the problem was a communication trench leading out into no-man’s-land that had been used in a previous Anzac attack. It had been blocked up by a sandbag partition but Turkish bombers had been able to approach close to the Australian line on the other side of the sandbags and hurl their missiles with great accuracy. Eventually, ‘a big Queenslander’, David Browning, had had enough. Angered by wounds to both sides of his face, in which particles of iron were imbedded, he got hold of an ‘armful’ of jam tin bombs and went to the Australian side of the sandbag partition. Although like his mates he knew little about using bombs, he lit the fuses and began hurling them across the top of the sandbags. The Turkish bombers were driven away and the Light Horsemen had a more peaceful night.

These few words are a very inadequate account of what it was like to serve at Quinn’s Post. As the English historian, John North, wrote:

The story of the defence of Quinn’s would make an epic in itself … the struggle to hold it was to continue without cessation, night or day, for eight months.

[John North, Gallipoli:The Fading Vision, Faber & Faber, London, 1936, p 211]

Perhaps the best way to get some sense of the nature of war at Quinn’s is to quote Bean’s words describing the environment hereabouts by early June 1915:

Every blade of vegetation had long since been swept away from the crest, where the scorched earth lay bare, tumbled this way and that in pink and brown heaps by the mine craters and trenches.

[Charles Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p 237–238]

Johnston’s Jolly

Directions

Go back out of Lone Pine Cemetery and walk down to the main road heading along up the ridge. Turn left and walk to Johnston’s Jolly Cemetery a few hundred metres along the road and to your right. If you had stood here on the morning of 19 May 1915 you would have been surrounded by death. To the Turks this place was Kirmizi Sirt, Crimson Slope.

Download audio of Johnston’s Jolly 5.06 MB MP3

Audio transcript

By the first week in May 1915, the Anzac line along this ridge had been fairly well established. The Battle of the Landing had temporarily exhausted both sides. Moreover, the landing had failed, for neither the Anzacs nor the British force at Helles had been able to capture the southern part of the Gallipoli peninsula. That had been the whole point of the invasion – to get through to the Dardanelles and silence the Turkish batteries guarding that waterway. Then the Royal Navy, the theory went, could steam on up to Istanbul and terrify Turkey out of the war.

As the Anzacs worked to consolidate their positions, the Turkish commanders planned to drive them from the ridge and back to the sea. They considered the position along Second Ridge as the most vulnerable to attack for here their enemies clung precariously to positions just off the steep slopes of Monash Valley just on the other side of the road opposite Johnston's Jolly. One mighty rush of infantry could send them reeling back down into the valley and once the Turks commanded the whole ridge evacuation would be inevitable. So, on 18 May approximately 42,000 Turkish soldiers were massed in the valleys to the east. But aircraft of the Royal Naval Air Service, flying out of Imroz Island as observation planes for Royal Navy warships, spotted them. At 3.00 am on 19 May, well before dawn, the Anzac trenches well fully manned and awake all along the line in the expectation of a Turkish attack.

Shortly after 3.00 am, the glinting bayonets of Turkish soldiers were observed in the clear night moving in the valley between where you are standing at the Jolly and the next ridge to the north, German Officer’s Ridge. The Australians began firing and by mid-morning had poured 948,000 rifle and machine gun bullets into waves of attacking Turks all along the Anzac line but especially here at 400 Plateau, at German Officer’s and on up the ridge towards Quinn’s Post. One Australian likened the whole event to a ‘wallaby drive’ where the enemy were ‘shot down in droves’ while another talked of how they had stood virtually on top of their trenches ‘shooting as fast as they could’ until gun barrels became too hot to touch. Bean’s words capture the scene in this area by mid-morning 19 May 1915:

… the dead and wounded lay everywhere in hundreds. Many of those nearest to the Anzac line had been shattered by the terrible wounds inflicted by modern bullets at short ranges. No sound came from that terrible space; but here and there some wounded or dying man, silently lying without help or any hope of it under the sun which glared from a cloudless sky, turned painfully from one side to the other, or slowly raised an arm towards heaven.

[Charles Bean, The Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p 161]

Approximately 3,000 Turks had been killed and another 7,000 wounded. The Anzacs, by comparison, lost 160 killed and 468 wounded. While the Anzacs had been unable to push forward against the Turks, the failure of this attack indicated that the Anzac line would not fall to a rush of infantry against rifles and machine guns. After 19 May the Anzac soldiers began to see the Turks as fellow sufferers and respect for their courage and prowess grew.

Within days of the attack the air was heavy with the smell of rotting corpses. A truce was arranged between 7.00 am and 4.30 pm on 24 May to allow both sides to bury their dead. Prominent in the organisation of the truce was a British officer, Captain Aubrey Herbert, attached to the staff of the Australian and New Zealand Division. On the morning of 24 May, Herbert met and accompanied Turkish officers up the ridge from the beach to 400 Plateau. He found the sight between the trenches and in the gullies ‘indescribable’. So awful was the stench that a Turkish ‘Red Crescent’ official gave him antiseptic wool with scent to put over his nose. The scent was ‘renewed frequently’. A Turkish officer said to Herbert:

At this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep.

Continuing on up the ridge, Herbert saw for himself the full effect of the Anzac bullets:

They [Turkish dead] fill the myrtle-grown gullies. One saw the result of machine-gun fire very clearly: entire companies annihilated – not wounded, but killed, their heads doubled under them with the impetus of their rush and both hands clasping their bayonets. It was as if God had breathed in their faces …

[Aubrey Herbert, Mons, Anzac and Kut, Hutchinson & Co, 1930]

Lone Pine – Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial

Directions

At the end of Artillery Road you will reach what was known as 400 Plateau or simply Lone Pine. You are now on Second Ridge. The path lies through pine trees and out into an open area. Turn right, and walk to the entrance of Lone Pine Cemetery. Once inside, turn left and make your way through the cemetery, go up a small flight of steps and cross to the Lone Pine Memorial.

Download audio of Lone Pine – Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial 9.48 MB MP3

Audio transcript

From the memorial there is a magnificent view in all directions. To the south-west, to your right, you can see the sweep of Bolton’s Ridge leading down to the sea and beyond the promontory of Gaba Tepe. Looking south, across the flat valley, through which you most likely came to reach Anzac from Eceabat, the land rises again to the hump of Achi Baba in the middle distance. From there, the land falls away to the tip of the peninsula at Helles where the British landings took place on 25 April 1915.

At Anzac, men could hear the artillery fire from Helles. Despite terrible bloodshed on both sides, the British were unable to break through the Turkish lines and they evacuated the position on 9 January 1916. Australians and New Zealanders also fought with great loss at Helles – in the Second Battle of Krithia on 8 May 1915. The Helles cemeteries contain Australian graves and on the Helles Memorial, at the very tip of the peninsula, are recorded the names of Australian soldiers who died at Krithia and whose bodies were either never recovered or could not be identified at burial. On the Helles Memorial are also listed the units of the AIF (Australian Imperial Force) that fought at Gallipoli – the only place where this information is recorded on the peninsula – for the Helles Memorial is the British Empire’s tribute to the whole campaign. Every year, thousands of Australians go to Anzac; few visit Helles.

Looking left, back to the east across the valley, you will see the long low rise of Third or Gun Ridge. Throughout the campaign this was behind the Turkish lines although a few Anzacs reached it on 25 April 1915. Looking north-east, Second and Third Ridge merge in the near distance and the slope rises up across Battleship Hill and then more steeply to Chunuk Bair. On that height is the New Zealand Memorial.

Look up to the road outside the cemetery. It bends away from here along Second Ridge past smaller cemeteries that you can pick out in this order – Johnston’s Jolly, Courtney's and Steel's Post and Quinn’s Post. The Anzac trenches ran along this narrow ridge to the left of the road while the Turkish line was just metres away on the other side. Bean described his return to Second Ridge in 1919:

Thus as we rode northwards along this road the trenches were never, except where a gully broke them, more than about fifty yards away on either hand … It gave a strange thrill to ride along this space in front of Steele’s, Courtney’s and Quinn’s where three years before men could not even crawl at night. The bones and tattered uniforms of men were scattered everywhere…

[Charles Bean, Gallipoli Mission, Sydney, 1990, p 50]

In the vicinity of the Lone Pine Memorial there stood on 25 April 1915, in Bean’s words, a ‘single dwarf pine tree’. Within days the tree had been shot away but not before it gave its name to the position, Lone Pine. Within months, Lone Pine had entered Australia’s national story as the site of one of the bloodiest and hardest fought actions of the campaign – the Battle of Lone Pine.

Bare white bones, piled or clustered

Stand on the northern end of the Lone Pine Memorial and look back over the cemetery. Beneath you in 1915 would have been Turkish trenches on the eastern side and roughly at the other end of the cemetery would have been the Anzac lines. If you had been in the Turkish trenches on the afternoon of 6 August 1915 at 5.25 pm you would have had the sun in your eyes and you would have been enduring a fierce artillery barrage from Royal Navy warships offshore and from batteries in the Anzac area.

At precisely 5.30 pm the barrage lifted and, rising from concealed trenches in no-man’s-land and the Anzac line, came the men of New South Wales, soldiers of the 1st Brigade (1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Battalions). They charged straight across the area in front of you, meeting Turkish fire. Then they paused. Instead of an enemy trench to jump down into they found much of the front line trenches were covered in sand being held up by timbers. Some men ran on over these covered areas and reached the Turkish communication trenches; others found gaps in this head cover and leapt down into the darkness beneath. The preliminary bombardment had been so fierce that Turkish soldiers holding the front line had moved back into nearby mine galleries for cover and many fled at the sudden appearance of the Australians. By nightfall, most of the enemy front line was in Australian hands and outposts had been established further ahead in former Turkish communication trenches. The Australian Engineers had also dug safe passage across no-man’s-land and reinforcements were able to come over without exposing themselves to Turkish fire. However, the real battle for Lone Pine was just beginning.

Lone Pine was a strong and important position to the Turks. They had not expected such an attack here and the order was quickly given to retake lost positions. For three days and nights Australians and Turks struggled in the trenches and dark tunnels of Lone Pine until the area was choked with the wounded, dying and dead:

The wounded bodies of both Turks and our own … were piled up 3 and 4 deep … the bombs simply poured in but as fast as our men went down another would take his place. Besides our own wounded the Turks’ wounded lying in our trench were cut to pieces with their own bombs. We had no time to think of our wounded … their pleas for mercy were not heeded … Some poor fellows lay for 30 hours waiting for help and many died still waiting.

[Private John Gammage, 1st Battalion, quoted in Les Carlyon, Gallipoli, Sydney, 2001, p 360]

Lone Pine was a battle of bombs, bullets and bayonets fought to defend sandbag walls built by both sides to block up a trench at the forward most point of the advance or counter attack. The Australians tried to hold what they had taken; the Turks fought equally determinedly to expel them from it.

The action at one spot was typical of the fighting at Lone Pine. Lieutenant Frederick Tubb, 7th Battalion, of Longwood, Victoria, defended a position with eight men against a Turkish onslaught. As the enemy bombs fell upon them, Tubb told his men to smother them with Turkish greatcoats that lay about the trench. Some Turks broke through but were shot or bayoneted; others that tried to crawl in the open around the position were also killed. Tubb was everywhere, firing his revolver and leading by example. Slowly, men who were trying to catch and return bombs were being wounded. Corporal Frederick Wright, 7th Battalion, of Melbourne, clutched at a bomb that burst in his face killing him. Corporal Harry Webb, described by Bean as ‘an orphan from Essendon’, had both hands blown off, walked back out of the action and died. Bombs continued to burst and four more men were killed or wounded.

Eventually, only Tubb, wounded in his arm and scalp, and two others, Corporals William Dunstan of Ballarat and Alexander Burton of Euroa, were left. A violent explosion blew down the Australian sandbag wall. Tubb drove the Turks back while Dunstan and Burton strove to rebuild the barrier when another bomb went off, killing Burton and blinding Dunstan. At that point reinforcements arrived, the position was saved and the Turks pulled back. 

When it was all over, Burton, Tubb and Dunstan, along with four other Australians, were awarded Victoria Crosses for their outstanding courage at Lone Pine. Many more men received other bravery decorations. The battle, which raged here between 6 and 9 August, cost Australia more than 2,000 casualties and the Turks somewhere in the region of 7,000. The whole action had been mounted as a diversion to keep Turkish attention and reserves focused on Lone Pine while the main battle to the north – to capture Chunuk Bair – was being waged by New Zealand, British, Indian and Gurkha forces. While Chunuk Bair did not fall, Lone Pine was a success for the Anzacs – but a success won at great cost.

All of this occurred in the vicinity of the Lone Pine Memorial. Because of the losses incurred here between 25 April and 3 May and during the days of the Lone Pine battle, it was decided to build Australia’s principal memorial on Anzac at this spot. To the Turks, Lone Pine was Kanli Sirt – Bloody Ridge – and when, shortly after the end of the war in 1918, an unnamed British visitor came to this ridge he saw everywhere the evidence of the blood that had been spilt there:

On the tumbled soil of the trenches lay the bare white bones, piled or clustered so thickly in places that we had to tread upon them as we passed.

[Visitor to Lone Pine in December 1918, quoted in John North,Gallipoli: The Fading Vision London, 1936, p 219]

Artillery Road – Shell Green

Directions

About half a kilometre along the Brighton Beach road, on the left, is a directional brown and yellow sign. It points up an unpaved road – Artillery Road as it was known to the Anzacs – to Shell Green Cemetery. Follow this road uphill, stopping at Shell Green, to Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial. As you come through a small area of pines at the end of the road, you will find the entry to Lone Pine off up to your right.

Download audio of Artillery Road – Shell Green 5.18 MB MP3

Audio transcript

The way up Artillery Road is the way to Second Ridge (the first ridge was considered to be the ridge leading down from Plugge’s Plateau to the coast behind Anzac Cove) and the Anzac front line. Behind the ridge and along the side of the road were many dugouts and rest positions where units could be stationed when not in the trenches. The ridge, also known during the campaign as Bolton’s Ridge, stretches down to the sea at Brighton Beach and the end of the Anzac line in 1915.

Reinforcements, and men returning from temporary rest camps on Imroz and Lemnos islands, would have walked the same route you have just taken from Anzac Cove to reach units stationed in this area. This is to the right of the ‘old Anzac’ line held by the infantry battalions of the 3rd Brigade (9th, 10th, 11th and 12thBattalions) and, from early June 1915, the regiments of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade (5th Light Horse, Queensland; 6th Light Horse, NSW; 7th Light Horse, NSW).

As the name Artillery Road suggests, there were also a number of batteries of the Australian Field Artillery stationed in these hills. Originally, the road only reached as far as Shell Green Cemetery. In preparation for the August Offensive thousands of soldiers, mainly British, were brought to Anzac and hidden in newly constructed dugouts on terraces along the hills.

During this period, Artillery Road was widened and extended up the hill to just behind the Lone Pine position on the ridge. The hard work of road building had to be done by the Anzacs themselves and this daily grind, called ‘fatigues’, was the reality of war at Anzac:

You must not imagine that life in one of these year-long modern battles consists of continuous bomb fighting, bayoneting and bombarding all the time … [the] chief occupation is the digging of mile upon mile of endless sap [trench], of sunken road … The carrying of biscuit boxes and building timbers for hours daily … the sweeping and disinfecting of trenches in the never ending battle against flies – this is the soldier's life for nine days out of ten in a modern battle.

[Charles Bean, dispatch, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, 2 December 1915, p.3058]

The flies were everywhere, breeding in millions in the bad sanitary conditions, piles of food scraps and rotting corpses. The smell was something a veteran never forgot. Trooper Ion Idriess, 5th Light Horse, spent much of his time at Gallipoli here on Bolton’s Ridge and the rest positions behind it. Like others, he lived mainly on a diet of tinned bully beef, tea, sugar, biscuits and jam. So hard were these biscuits that it was not uncommon for men to break teeth on them. The easiest way to deal with the biscuits was to grate them and turn the resultant mush into a sort of porridge. Idriess recalled a particularly foul dinner of biscuits and jam:

Immediately I opened the tin the flies rushed the jam. They buzzed like a swarm of bees. They swarmed that jam, all fighting among themselves. I wrapped my overcoat over the tin and gouged out the flies, then spread the biscuit, held my hand over it, and drew the biscuit out of the coat. But a lot of the flies flew into my mouth and beat about inside. Finally, I threw the tin over the parapet. I nearly howled with rage … Of all the bastards of places this is the greatest bastard in the world.

[Ion Idriess, The Desert Column, Sydney, 1982, p 42]

Behind the names on the gravestones at Shell Green Cemetery, off to your right about half-way up Artillery Road, are many touching stories. In Plot 2, Row G, Grave 23 lies Private Roy Facey, 11th Battalion, age 23, from Subiaco, Western Australia. Roy came to Gallipoli in June 1915 to join his brother Albert Facey who was already serving in the battalion. Albert, as the older brother, put in a request to move to Roy’s company and was looking forward to being with his brother with whom he ‘always got along well’. The reunion never took place. On 28 June 1915, both Roy and Albert took part in an attack and Albert later wrote about what happened:

… on arriving back I was told that Roy had been killed. He and his mate had been killed by the same shell. This was a terrible blow to me. I had lost a lot of my mates and seen a lot of men die, but Roy was my brother … I helped to bury Roy and fifteen of our mates who had been killed on the twenty-eighth. We put them in a grave side by side on the edge of a clearing we called Shell Green. Roy was in pieces when they found him. We put him together as best we could – I can remember carrying a leg – it was terrible.

[Albert Facey, A Fortunate Life, 1984, p 273]

Brighton Beach – Coast Road

Directions

From Shrapnel Valley Cemetery go back to the main beach road. Turn left and walk along this road for about half a kilometre. Ahead of you will be the promontory of Gaba Tepe and to your right the shore known to the Anzacs as Brighton Beach named after the beach of the same name east of Melbourne.

Download audio of Brighton Beach – Coast Road 4.89 MB MP3

Audio transcript

In his official history The Story of Anzac, Volume 1, Charles Bean has a chapter entitled ‘Landing at Gaba Tepe’. It reminds us that the Anzac landing was originally planned for this beach stretching southwards from Hell Spit to the promontory of Gaba Tepe ahead of you. Just before dawn on 25 April 1915, the four battalions of the 3rd Australian Infantry Brigade, known as the ‘Covering Force’, were to come ashore here and move rapidly inland to positions along what was known as Third or Gun Ridge. The 11th Battalion (Western Australia) would advance up and across the ridges in a north easterly direction to Battleship Hill; the 10th Battalion (South Australia) would make straight inland to Gun Ridge; and the 9th Battalion (Queensland) would land well south along the beach, split into two groups, one heading inland to the end of Gun Ridge and the other a little inland and then south to charge and take Turkish gun positions on Gaba Tepe. The 12th Battalion would land just south of Hell Spit and act as a reserve. Then the 2nd Brigade would land and push along the northern shore and inland to the heights of Chunuk Bair and Hill 971. The objective for the whole force that day was a hill known as Mal Tepe, well inland towards the other side of the peninsula from where they would command the road south towards the forts guarding the Narrows of the Dardanelles. With such a position in their hands the Anzacs would be able to cut off Turkish reinforcements heading south towards the main British landings at Helles which took place a little after dawn on 25 April 1915.

As we know, for the Anzacs none of this came to pass. They landed further to the north and during that first day’s fighting were held by the Turks to the ‘old Anzac’ area. As you can see, the country facing them inland of Brighton Beach was not as rugged as what they encountered at North Beach and Anzac Cove. The casualties suffered by the 3rd Brigade that day were high. It is thought, however, that casualties would have been even higher had they landed at Brighton Beach. Turkish guns at Gaba Tepe and artillery a little further back at a position the Anzacs later called the ‘Olive Grove’ could have decimated them as they came ashore.

During the campaign Brighton Beach was really a backwater. Men came down here to swim always in danger from Turkish snipers and shells, as they were at the other Anzac beaches. As Anzac Cove became overcrowded in the days after the landing, a stores depot was established at Brighton Beach at the mouth of Shrapnel Gully. Great stacks of boxes and other stores rose at this position and the space between Hell Spit and the beach was soon strewn with timber, barbed wire and all sorts of other engineering material. The Indian Mule Cart Company, renowned for their transporting of water and other supplies up into the hills on mules or along the shore in small two-wheeled carts, initially established themselves in this area. Shelling became severe but it was decided that this depot must be maintained as a more convenient spot than Anzac Cove to pick up stores for men coming from the southern Anzac trenches. The great stacks of boxes were carefully arranged to hide those working there and to allow some protection from shrapnel.

On 22 May 1915 an extraordinary event occurred on Brighton Beach. At a point about a third the way along the beach from Hell Spit the ‘old Anzac’ position came down to the sea. Here was a sandbag wall and, reaching out into the water in front of it, two trip-wire entanglements. On the morning of 22 May, a white flag was seen on Gaba Tepe. The Australians had no white flag but someone quickly brought up a beach towel to serve. Turkish envoys then came along the beach towards the trip-wire where they were met by Australian officers. They had come to negotiate a truce to allow the thousands of Turkish dead along the frontline from their attack of 19 May to be buried. A Turkish officer was eventually blindfolded and led along the beach towards the trip-wires. Charles Bean was watching:

They directed his feet carefully over the first one … They shouted for coats to help him cross the second; but in the meantime someone had a brainwave. There were several Australians bathing … nearby. Someone rushed off for a stretcher – then they called the bathers. Two of these big Australians – naked as the day they were born – took the stretcher round the larger entanglement ... And I got three photographs! 

[Bean, quoted in Frontline Gallipoli:C E W Bean’s diary from the trenches, Kevin Fewster, Sydney, 1990, p 112]

Presumably it was thought not the done thing to allow this high-ranking Turkish officer to get his feet wet!

Shrapnel Valley Cemetery

Directions

Leave Hell Spit by walking back through Beach Cemetery and to the unpaved road. Turn right and keep going until you meet the main paved road. Turn left back towards Anzac Cove and walk along for a few metres. You will see a sign for Shrapnel Valley Cemetery. Turn right down the track until you arrive at the cemetery and then walk through it and look up the valley.

Download audio of Shrapnel Valley Cemetery 5.22 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Shrapnel Valley was the main route up from the beach area to the Anzac frontline on the ridge you can see in the distance. Up there were the famous posts – Quinn’s, Courtney’s and Steele’s Posts which you will reach later in the walk. Further along the valley splits in two. Off to the right, behind the posts, runs Monash Valley called after Brigadier General John Monash, commander of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade.

A gloomy, narrow valley all tortuous and fissured

Shrapnel Valley (sometimes called Shrapnel Gully) got its name in the early days after the landing. As the Turks realised that this had become the highway to the front their guns rained shrapnel shells down upon this area. These shells made a particular whistle before they burst showering those below with lethal pellets. It was said that as the shells could be heard coming soldiers passing through the valley had the chance to take cover. Confronted with such danger, Bean wrote that men became ‘fatalists’ and thought that a particular shell had a man’s name and number on it! – ‘Until that shell arrived, it was best to let others see them going proudly rather than flinching’.

On the night of 18–19 May 1915, the men of the recently arrived 5th Light Horse Regiment from Queensland made their way into Shrapnel Valley. The Light Horsemen filed along a trench leading from the beach through the hills and came out in what Trooper Ion Idriess described as ‘a gloomy, narrow valley all tortuous and fissured as it wound through a sort of basin at the bottom of the big, somber hills’. Here they spent an uneasy night making their way forward with shrapnel shells exploding above them and Turkish bullets zipping past – ‘we were hurrying somewhere to kill men and be killed’. As they moved forward, the regimental doctor, a Boer War veteran, taught them how to survive. Every so often he would inexplicably duck down and Idriess and others were soon copying him as he seemed to have a sense of when the shells were on their way:

We all crouched by the roadside, among the bushes, by something solid or in a sheltering hole. A man near me sighed as he found a shallow dugout. For an hour we lived there, clinging to cold mother earth … my body was alertly passive, but the mind was curiously thinking, ‘So this is War!’

[Ion Idriess, The Desert Column, Sydney, 1982, p 8]

Many an Anzac was introduced to war as he moved up these valleys to the ridge. For virtually the whole of the campaign, but especially in the early weeks, further up Shrapnel Valley where it turned to the right and became Monash Valley, Turkish snipers killed or wounded hundreds of men. The Turks held the high ground at places like Dead Man’s Ridge and the Bloody Angle and were never driven from it. Stretcher-bearers, and soldiers bringing up supplies, rations and water, were in constant danger as they made their way along the valley bottom. This sniping was at its worst during the early hours of daylight when the sun was behind the Turkish marksmen. It was while doing his duty in Monash and Shrapnel valleys on 19 May 1915 that the best known Anzac of all – ‘The Man with the Donkey – met his death.

Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, 3rd Field Ambulance, was an Englishman with a thick accent from his home town of South Shields, County Durham. He worked the slopes here bringing wounded men down to the beach on a donkey (he apparently used two beasts known as ‘Murphy’ and ‘Duffy’). He was a hard worker, the war diary of the 3rd Field Ambulance describing how from the day after the landing Simpson had operated ‘from early morning till night every day since’. Bean claimed that Simpson became especially fatalistic and paid little attention to the shelling and sniping along his route from the ridge to the beach. On the morning of 19 May, he passed up beyond a water guard post where he generally had his breakfast but, as it was not ready, he pressed on saying, ‘Never mind. Get me a good dinner when I get back’. He never came back:

Poor old Scotty Simpson was killed by machine gun bullets in Shrapnel Gully this morning … Scotty Simpson will be much missed with his mates in Shrapnel Gully … his donkeys Murphy and Duffy were taken charge of by some of our 4th Field [Ambulance] stretcher bearers who happened to be near him when he fell. Buried in cemetery to right of Anzac Beach.

[Sergeant James McPhee, 4th Field Ambulance, quoted in Peter Cochrane, Simpson and the Donkey:The Making of Legend, Melbourne, 1992, p 43]  

Simpson’s grave is in Beach Cemetery in Plot 1, Row F, Grave 1. At the time his exploits were not much known beyond the confines of Shrapnel and Monash valleys. Indeed, there were any number of stretcher bearers all over the Anzac position who daily saved men’s lives while constantly endangering their own. Nevertheless, it is the story of Simpson and his work with donkeys in Shrapnel Valley which over the years has grown to be almost the story which Australians know about Anzac.

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