Hell Spit


From the ‘Anzac Cove’ sign make your way along the coastal path to Beach Cemetery. Walk through the cemetery and look out to sea.

Download audio of Hell Spit 6.57 MB MP3

Audio transcript

The Anzacs gave the name Hell Spit to this area, the southern point of Anzac Cove. On a clear day you will have directly in front of you the Turkish island of Imroz (Imbros in 1915, as it was largely a Greek island then) and off to the north-west the Greek island of Samothrace. It was on Samothrace that pieces of a statue of Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory, were discovered. The pieces were reassembled and today form one of the most famous sights of the Louvre Museum in Paris – the headless Winged Victory of Samothrace. The sun sets behind these Aegean islands and during the Gallipoli campaign the beauty of these sunsets produced many lyrical descriptions from Australian soldiers:

Away about fifteen miles off our position are two mountainous islands, Imbros and Samothrace. The sun goes below the sea’s horizon just off the northern end of the latter throwing them both, great jagged peaks, into silhouette on a crimson background. The sea is nearly always like oil and as the crimson path streams across the water the store ships, hospital ships, torpedo boats and mine sweepers stand out jet black. God, it’s just magnificent!

[The Gallipoli Diary of Sergeant Lawrence of the Australian Engineers, Sir Ronald East (ed), Melbourne 1983, p 35]

Health to the Navy, that took us there and away

Looking out to sea at Hell Spit we can image the activity in the stretch of water between here and the islands during the eight months of the Gallipoli campaign. As the phrase above from Lieutenant Oliver Hogue’s poem ‘Anzac’ suggests, the men of the British Royal Navy and Merchant Marine were a central part of the whole Anzac story. Without them there would have been no landing, no ongoing naval bombardment support, no supply of food and fighting material, no removal of the sick and wounded and no successful evacuation at the end.

At most times the sea between Anzac and the islands was full of warships and other vessels. Standing here after mid-June 1915, you might have seen the little North Sea trawler (fishing boat) which brought fresh bread across from the Australian Field Bakeries on Imroz to Anzac. Wood to fuel the bakery ovens was brought from all over the islands of the Aegean, supplied by Greek contractors, but especially from Mount Athos. At one point over 14,500 bread rations were arriving every day.

The men of the Royal Navy also turned up at Anzac Cove as members of naval beach parties. At the beach soldiers could buy food items that were rare on Anzac, such as eggs and condensed milk, from the sailors who were able to obtain them from the islands. The cases of  exploded Turkish shrapnel were also used as currency. As Charles Bean observed,  ‘The man who brought down a shell case, when duty brought him to the beach, knew that it was as good as a loaf to take back again’. The sailors in one battleship, the Prince of Wales, were known for keeping many an Anzac supplied with cigarettes for free.

In charge of the comings and goings of the little ships from the piers was Lieutenant Commander Edward Cater. The Commander could often be heard bawling himself hoarse through a megaphone:

… [directing] the incoming barges to their proper piers and [superintending] the Anzac Beach parties in making them fast – no easy matter, where the only illumination for the whole bay and its foreshores was the light of the stars, or a rare stable lantern swinging in the hand of one of these officers or tucked behind some stack of provisions where work was active.

[Charles Bean, Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p 352]

In the style of many British officers of the period Cater wore a monocle. The story goes that Australian soldiers would mockingly approach Cater, ‘the Bloke with the Eye Glass’, with their identity discs in their eye-sockets. Relishing the joke, he would take his monocle out, throw it in the air, catch it in his eye-socket and respond – ‘Do that, you blighters’. Cater was killed by shellfire as he was running out to help the crew of a small steamboat which had been hit and was sinking off a pier at Anzac Cove. His remains lie in Plot 2, Row G, Grave 5 behind you in Beach Cemetery. 

Also visible daily from Hell Spit were the hospital ships, painted white and with a Red Cross on their sides. A constant stream of trawlers and steamboats towing rowing boats and barges made regular trips to the hospital ships carrying sick and wounded. Chivalrously, the Turks never usually deliberately fired on these medical vessels, but inevitably many stray bullets found their way out to sea towards the hospital ships. On 11 August 1915, Sister Daisy Richmond, Australian Army Nursing Service, was on the deck of a hospital ship off Anzac:

We are well under fire many bullets coming on the decks. I was speaking to one boy, moved away to another patient when a bullet hit him and lodged in the thigh. I just missed.

[Sister Daisy Richmond, diary, 11 August 1915, Australian War Memorial 2 DRL/0783]

Undoubtedly, the most dramatic naval sight to be observed from Anzac was that of a Royal Navy warship shelling Turkish positions. The navy lent regular support to Anzac operations from the very beginning of the campaign and an unforgettable sight would have been a naval bombardment at night using searchlights. If you look down the coast to your left you can see the promontory of Gaba Tepe (Rough Hill). In early newspaper reports the landing of 25 April was referred to as the Gaba Tepe landing. In the darkness, if you had stood at Hell Spit and looked towards Gaba Tepe this might have been the scene:

… just after dusk a destroyer creeps right in upon our flank and lies there, black and silent. Suddenly, without warning, a vivid white streak shoots out from here and stretches across to the shore … Her light travels slowly up and down along the beach and the rising ground with their [the Turks] trenches are behind it; sometimes it stops stationary upon one point for a minute or so; see how plainly everything stands out, trees, sandbags and patches of scrub. Round goes the light until it lights up Gaba Tepe. There is a vivid spurt of flame from the inky blackness; then comes the sharp, ‘whouf’, ‘bang’ of the gun, a short and sudden roar, then crash! and up go showers of red sparks from – no, not Gaba Tepe, but the opposite end of their track. Then immediately the light is switched round on to that spot and then click and she is out again. A few more minutes and out it flashes, rests a second or so on a certain spot and then bang! bang! bang! go the guns.

[The Gallipoli Diary of Sergeant Lawrence of the Australian Engineers, Sir Ronald East (ed), Melbourne 1983, p 124]

Anzac Cove


From Ari Burnu point walk back through the cemetery to the road. Notice to your right here the Turkish memorial.

Download audio of Anzac Cove 7.64 MB MP3

Audio transcript

On the Turkish memorial are words attributed to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, President of Turkey, sent in 1934 to an official Australian, New Zealand and British party visiting Anzac Cove:

Those heroes that shed their blood, and lost their lives ...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly country.
Therefore, rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side,
Here in this country of ours.
You, the mothers, who sent their sons from far away countries ...
Wipe away your tears.
Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace.
After having lost their lives on this land, they have
Become our sons as well.

In 1915, Kemal was one of the Turkish divisional commanders at Gallipoli and was particularly noted for his fighting leadership during the Battle of the Landing and during the August Offensive.

Your way now leads south around Anzac Cove. You can also head along the beach itself but when you reach the end it will be a scramble to get back up to the road. Stop by the memorial at the southern end of the cove with the Turkish words ‘Anzak Koyu’ (Anzac Cove). In 1985, the Turkish Government agreed to the official naming of this place as ‘Anzac Cove’. In return the Australian Government named a stretch of Lake Burley Griffin at the end of Anzac Parade in the national capital ‘Gallipoli Reach’. A section of Princes Royal Harbour in Albany, Western Australia was also named ‘Atatürk Entrance’ in memory of the first convoy that left Australia in November 1914 for the war in Europe. Many of the men on those ships, Australians and New Zealanders, later became part of the Anzac Corps and landed here at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. They were the original Anzacs.

And a little rotting pier

During the Gallipoli campaign there was no better-known place than Anzac Cove. It received this name as early as 29 April 1915, by request of the commander of the Anzac Corps, Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood. Sometime after June 1915, a photograph of the cove appeared in Australian newspapers, a blunder, Bean felt, that would have given ‘priceless intelligence’ to the enemy artillery officers had it ever reached them!  Like no other spot on Gallipoli, Anzac Cove has become the image of Anzac. This is not surprising. Something like 50,000 Australians fought at Gallipoli and, although there were other landing places, the great majority of them landed here. That was certainly true of those who served between April and August 1915 in the ‘old Anzac’ area. Consequently, thousands of families all over Australia had a son or husband who knew something of Anzac Cove.

Bean records that some 27,000 Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian troops were put ashore in Anzac Cove between 25 April and 1 May 1915. While the great majority of these troops were Australians and New Zealanders there were also units that many in Australia today have never heard of. Among them were the Ceylon Planter’s Rifle Corps, the Indian Mule Cart Transport, the Zion Mule Corps, the 7th Indian Mountain Artillery and about 2,500 men of the British Royal Naval Division, Chatham, Portsmouth, Nelson and Deal Battalions. All of these units fought alongside the Anzacs. Indeed, it was a 33-year-old Englishman, Lance Corporal Walter Parker, Portsmouth Battalion, Royal Naval Division, who gained the first Victoria Cross awarded at Anzac for his bravery under fire between 30 April and 2 May.

For eight months between April and December 1915, Anzac Cove became, in Bean’s words, Anzac ‘city’:

We are never likely to see anything like it again in history, for two reasons. For one thing, it is the complete base for an army, which you can take in with a single glance; stacks of every sort of supply – biscuits, cheeses, fodder, disinfectant, beef, sugar; ordnance stores – clothing, cans, boots, carts, spare wheels, engineer’s stores of every sort, great beams and baulks, rails – every one of the great accumulation of things an army wants.

[Charles Bean, official despatch, Gaba Tepe 28 June 1915, Commonwealth of Australia Gazette, No 97, 26 August 1915, p 1635]

Crawling up the hillsides above the ‘city’ were the ‘business suburbs’.  In Anzac Gully behind the beach was Corps Headquarters and the dugout of the Corps commander, Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood. Sir William could be seen most days swimming in the blue waters of the cove like thousands of other men who worked on the beach or who had come down in some ‘fatigue’ party from other parts of Anzac to fetch and carry materials back to their own positions.

But Turkish gunners had an almost precise fix on Anzac Cove and many men were killed or wounded in the beach area or in the water by bursting shrapnel shells. Most of these came from a gun battery christened ‘Beachy Bill’. It was estimated that during the campaign over 1,000 men were killed or wounded in Anzac Cove by ‘Beachy Bill’ alone. So constant was it you had to get used to the shelling and, where possible, even find it funny. Sergeant Cyril Lawrence, 2nd Field Company, Australian Engineers, went swimming in the cove on the evening of 10 June 1915 when ‘Beachy Bill’ opened up:

There were hundreds on the beach and one of the shells burst over a latrine up on the hillside. The men sit on this, which is just a beam supported at each end over a long hole, like a lot of sparrows on a perch. There is nothing to hide them from the view and they look extremely funny to see all their bare bums in a row … one burst over this latrine. In the scatter that followed, none waited to even pull their trousers up. The roar of laughter that went up could have been heard for miles. It’s only these little humorous happenings that keep things going here.

[The Gallipoli Diary of Sergeant Lawrence of the Australian Engineers, Sir Ronald East (ed), Melbourne 1983, pp 27–8]

So effective was the shelling of the cove that it determined movement by the little transport ships running supplies into the pier, Watson’s Pier, constructed under the supervision of Major Stanley Watson, 1st Australian Division Signals Company. Approach to the pier by day became an almost suicidal matter so from early June all reinforcements were landed by night.

After the evacuation of December 1915 Anzac ‘city’ disappeared rapidly. When Bean visited here in early 1919, just three years later, he found that everything moveable had been cleared by the Turks – ‘Now nothing stirred except the waves gently lapping on the shingle and a few of the piles of our old piers gently swaying in the swell’. Two white steel lifeboats used to land troops were also on the beach and Bean had one of them shipped back to Australia where it is on display in the Introductory Gallery of the Australian War Memorial. Of all the descriptions of Anzac Cove none is perhaps more evocative than that of soldier-poet Leon Gellert. Gellert landed here on 25 April 1915 with the 10th Battalion, South Australia, and was evacuated in July with dysentery:

Anzac Cove
There’s a lonely stretch of hillocks:
There’s a beach asleep and drear:
There’s a battered broken fort beside the sea.
There are sunken trampled graves:
And a little rotting pier:
And winding paths that wind unceasingly.
There’s a torn and silent valley;
There’s a tiny rivulet
With some blood upon the stones beside its mouth.
There are lines of buried bones:
There’s an unpaid waiting debt:
There’s a sound of gentle sobbing in the south.

North Beach Anzac Commemorative Site


Your Anzac Walk begins at the Anzac Commemorative Site of North Beach. Move to the inscription 'Anzac' on the wall above the beach. Now turn and look at the remarkable landscape around you taking in the ridge above.

Download audio of North Beach Anzac Commemorative Site 5.87 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Charles Bean, whom you will meet many times on this Anzac Walk through the words he wrote as Australia’s official war correspondent and later as official war historian, has described this spot:

The ridge led down to the sea in only two places – at either end of the semicircle – by the steep slopes of Plugge’s [Plateau] on the right, and by a 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 … To the Australians from that day [25 April 1915] it was the Sphinx.

[Charles Bean, The Story of Anzac, Vol 1, Sydney, 1935, pp 267–8]

So the Anzacs on 25 April 1915, the day of the landing, arriving almost straight from their training camps in Egypt beneath the Pyramids and the Sphinx, claimed Gallipoli by naming its physical features for themselves. Admittedly, they knew little of the local Turkish names. Walker’s Ridge they called after Brigadier General Harold Walker who took over the command of the New Zealand Infantry Brigade on the day of the landing. To the Turks it was Sparrow Hill and the Anzacs built a road, long since disappeared, up its sides to the trenches on the ridge. Plugge’s Plateau (Cruel Hill to the Turks), the high flat-topped hill to your right, was named for Colonel Arthur Plugge, commander of the Auckland Battalion who had his headquarters there.

Moored at William’s Pier is a self-propelled hospital barge, known on Gallipoli as a ‘beetle’. Beetles, with conspicuous red crosses painted on their sides, carried wounded men out to nearby hospital ships. Just beneath where the cameraman is standing are the tents of the 1st Australian Stationary Hospital, a unit that had moved to Anzac from Lemnos Island in early November 1915 when it was still anticipated that Gallipoli would be held throughout the winter. In the distance are the tents of the 16th British Casualty Clearing Station.

The Sphinx was really an outcrop of the Sari Bair range that runs all the way up from the beach south of Anzac Cove to Koja Temen Tepe (Hill of the Great Pasture), the highest point on this part of Gallipoli. The Sphinx was Yusuk Tepe, High Hill, and the yellow eroded slopes all around it were known as Sari Bair (Yellow Ridge). The Anzacs used the name Sari Bair for the whole range to Koja Temen Tepe. Of all the names given by the Anzacs to the features hereabouts only that of the Sphinx is still used by local people today.

To relieve the soldiers from work at the beaches and piers over 400 Egyptian and Maltese civilian labourers were brought to Anzac along with some older recruits of the British Army Service Corps. Bean records that they suffered greatly in the conditions of Gallipoli and that foolishly their camp was placed in a position on North Beach where it was open to enemy sniping and shelling.

In January 1919, Bean returned to Anzac with the war artist George Lambert. He wanted Lambert to paint a huge canvas showing the landing and, fortunately for them, they had a guide – Lieutenant Hedly Howe – who knew exactly what had happened to him on that historic morning and where the events had taken place. Howe was now working with the Anzac Section of a British Graves Registration unit. But as Private Howe, on 25 April 1915, he had come ashore in a Royal Navy rowing boat along with most of the 11th Battalion from Western Australia on the beach to your right just beneath Plugge’s Plateau. In one boat was a young Royal Navy Midshipman – ‘a red-headed slip of a boy’ – who, as his boat grounded, pulled out his revolver and, clambering over the backs of the astonished Australians, shouted ‘Come on, my lads’! After he was a way up the beach he pulled himself up, realising it was his duty to go back out to the transports with his boat.

The Australian and New Zealand soldiers of the ANZAC Corps were camped beneath the pyramids in the months before they went to Gallipoli and it is easy to see why they gave the name ‘Sphinx’ to the prominent landform above North Beach.

Howe led Bean and Lambert back to that very spot on North Beach where he had landed. Then they climbed, just as the men of the 11th Battalion had done, up towards Plugge’s Plateau. Bullets had then been landing around them from the heights and Howe remembered seeing two men – Turks – silhouetted against the growing dawn on the plateau. As they came out on to its flat top after about 15 minutes climb, Turkish soldiers were running back off it down into the valley beyond. And so Lambert painted that scene – the West Australians, some wounded and falling back, others pulling their way up the scrub-covered slope of Plugge’s, with the dawn breaking and the coming light touching the yellow earth of the Sphinx.

Lambert's painting, Anzac, the Landing 1915, inspired by the grandeur of the scene here at North Beach and the story of the first minutes of the 11th Battalion's experience at Anzac, hangs today in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. A reproduction of it can be seen in one of the history panels at the Anzac Commemorative Site. These panels are located on the wall opposite you at the top of the pathway. Read the text in these panels before you set out on the rest of the Anzac Walk. They will provide you with a good general account of the whole Gallipoli campaign at Anzac.

After the so-called Battle of the Landing that lasted until 3 May 1915, North Beach became a relatively quiet spot. Men came down here to swim from the frontline trenches on the ridge above at Russell’s Top and the Nek. Those positions, and others further north at the so-called ‘outposts’, were held for most of the campaign by New Zealand units and Australian Light Horsemen. The outposts marked the northern limits of the ‘old Anzac’ area and they were reached from the northern end of Anzac Cove through a long, deep trench, that cut right across the back of North Beach, known as the ‘Big Sap’. Such a trench was necessary as Turkish snipers could fire on much of the North Beach area. After the ‘August Offensive’ of 6–10 August 1915, a large area of the range to the north of North Beach fell to the British Empire forces. North Beach then became a major base area with mountains of stores, a post office and a tent hospital. Two piers, Williams’ and Walkers’, were built to handle the unloading of barges and other small craft. Williams’ Pier ran offshore virtually opposite where the commemorative wall now stands and it was from here, on the morning of 20 December 1915, that the last Australian soldiers left Anzac at the final evacuation. From first to last the Sphinx had witnessed it all.


Listen to the audio commentary on your device.

Download audio of Kumkale 1.82 MB MP3

Audio transcript

The old Ottoman fort of Kumkale lies 5 kilometres from the ruins of ancient Troy and 45 kilometres south of Çanakkale. The fort dates from the 17th century and was built as part of the outer defences of the Straits. From the Kumkale area there are fine views to Gallipoli, and throughout the campaign Turkish batteries hereabouts bombarded Allied positions at Helles. One gun in particular, known as ‘Asiatic Annie’, caused many casualties among the French, whose positions stretched from Morto Bay down to Seddülbahir. The French commander, General Henri Gouraud, was himself blown over a wall at Seddülbahir and severely injured by a shell literally fired from Asia.

The British began their interest in Kumkale with an unsucessful bombardment on 19 February 1915. They followed this up on 25 February with a bit more success, their warships staying out of range as they pounded the area. To complete the destruction of the guns, a party of Royal Marines was landed on 26 February, along with a naval demolition group led by Lieutenant Eric Robinson. It was not all plain sailing for the British: Turkish resistance mounted and Robinson could legitimately have abandoned the expedition. Then a solitary figure in white uniform was seen ‘strolling around by himself’ up what was known as Achilles Mound, the supposed tomb of the Greek hero of the Trojan war. It was Robinson, who, under heavy fire, proceeded to calmly blow up two guns there. For this, and later acts of courage, Robinson received the Victoria Cross, the first such award of the Gallipoli campaign. One Royal marine, Sergeant Ernest Turnbull, was killed, making him perhaps the first Allied soldier to die in the struggle for the Dardanelles.

Kumkale saw considerable action on 25 April 1915 when a French force landed as a diversion from the main landings on Gallipoli. Later Kumkale was visited by an American journalist, Granville Fortescue, who wrote that the Turkish soldiers he saw there were a ‘grim impressive lot’. ‘Watching the serious earnestness with which ... [they] go through their drill’, Fortescue concluded, ‘leaves an impression boding no good for the Allies they may fight’.

Historical Background: Cape Helles to Çanakkale – sites of history and legend

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Historical Background: Cape Helles to Çanakkale – sites of history and legend 3 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Those who fought at the Dardanelles in 1915 were surrounded by great natural beauty. Sergeant Cyril Lawrence, of the Australian Engineers, wrote of how Gallipoli’s ‘very wildness and ruggedness grips you’. When the British warships shelled Fort Dardanos, on the Asian shore of the Straits, shards of pottery and masonry flew up in the shell explosions from the remains of the ancient Greek city of the same name.

Indeed, the Dardanelles is dotted with historic sites. South of Çanakkale are the ruins of the city of Troy, made famous by the poet Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. In 482 BC, King Xerxes of Persia had two bridges built across the Dardanelles upstream from Çanakkale between the Greek cities of Abydos (Asian shore) and Sestos (European shore) to carry his invading army into Greece. From the European shore in 332 BC, the army of Alexander the Great set off across the Straits on that trail of conquest which led them to India.

This crossing from Abydos to Sestos is also where the legendary Leander swam nightly across the current to his lover, the priestess Hero. When one night she failed to leave a light in her tower to guide him, he drowned. Finding his body next day, Hero threw herself into the waters and perished with him. The English poet Lord Byron and Lieutenant Richard Ekenhead of the Royal Marines emulated Leander’s swim in 1810.

In 1452 the Ottoman Emperor Mehmet II built a fortress, which still stands, on the European shore of the Narrows – Kilitbahir, the ‘Key to the Sea’. Its purpose was to prevent the possibility of reinforcements being sent through the Straits to the aid of the last Byzantine Emperor, Constantine XI, at Constantinople (modern Istanbul). The city fell to the Turks in 1453 and the rule of the Ottoman emperors from Istanbul began. In 1462, the Ottomans built Çimenlik fort at Çanakkale.

Spread across this area today are also many reminders of that bloody conflict of 1915 which cost the lives of so many soldiers from countries all around the world and which was so significant in the history of modern Turkey, Australia and New Zealand. For the Turks, that struggle is known as the Battle of Çanakkale, and it encompasses their total defence of the Dardanelles, the naval battles of November 1914 to March 1915, and the Gallipoli campaign which began on 25 April 1915. A comprehensive visit to the region would take in places such as the ruins of Seddülbahir at Cape Helles, Anzac Cove at Anzac (so central to the Australian sense of Gallipoli) and the memorials on Chunuk Bair, which tell the story of the New Zealand fight on the heights and the Turkish commander who drove them off. Nor should the Asian shore be neglected. Here Turkey has preserved a replica of the litttle minelayer that helped defeat the Allied fleet on 18 March 1915 and the forts where the Turkish gunners withstood the shelling of the Allied battleships.

This website describes a number of sites on Gallipoli and the Asian shore. Each of them has a story to tell about the struggle for the Straits of the Dardanelles, and from many of the sites superb views are to be had over the peninsula, the Straits, the highlands of western Anatolia and the nearby islands of the Aegean. To visit these places armed with some sense of what happened there is to pay the best tribute possible to the soldiers, sailors and airmen of all countries who fought and died at the Dardanelles during the Battle of Çanakkale.

British Consular Cemetery, Çanakkale

Listen to the audio commentary on your device.

Download audio of British Consular Cemetery, Çanakkale 1.82 MB MP3

Audio transcript

One of the least-visited places associated with the Battle of Çanakkale is the British Consular Cemetery. The graves here cover a range of periods and events. For example, there are soldiers from the Crimean War (1854–1856) when the Ottoman Empire was allied with Britain and France against Russia, and British troops were stationed on Gallipoli. There is also the grave of an Australian Gallipoli veteran, Basil Wood, who died on a visit in 1965. Interestingly, there are also burials of Australian and New Zealand soldiers from the years 1918–1919. This is a reminder that the Allies occupied the Straits of the Dardanelles in the aftermath of the armistice with the Ottoman Empire (not yet the Republic of Turkey) in October 1918.

But the graves of greatest relevance to the Battle of Çanakkale are those of three young British sailors, all crewmen of the Royal Navy’s submarine E15. Very early on in their efforts to destabilise the Turkish defences at Çanakkale the British began using the submarine, a weapon then in the early stages of development. On 13 December 1914, the Turkish battleship Mesudiye was sunk by the B11, commanded by Lieutenant Norman Holbrook, in Sari Sighlar Bay (Sarisiğlar Koyu) just off Çanakkale. As the British military invasion of Gallipoli approached in April 1915 a determined effort was made to send submarines right through the Dardanelles to wreak havoc with Turkish supply shipping in the Sea of Marmara. The first submarine to try this was the E15, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Theodore Brodie.

Brodie took the E15 submerged through the entrance to the Straits on 17 April 1915. The currents in the Dardanelles presented real problems for these early submarines and the E15 was swept across the Straits and ran aground right beneath the guns of the Dardanos Battery. Brodie was killed by a shell in his conning tower while six other crewmen died from chlorine gas. To prevent the craft from falling into enemy hands the British eventually managed to wreck the submarine with a torpedo. After burial on the beach, Brodie’s body was later removed to the Consular Cemetery.

The Nusret, Çanakkale

Listen to the audio commentary on your device.

Download audio of The Nusret, Çanakkale 1.75 MB MP3

Audio transcript

The seafront at Çanakkale is an enchanting place to walk past restaurants, ferries loading and scurrying off across the Straits, and the ‘simit’ sellers with their cartloads of round, sesame seed-covered bread. Out in the Dardanelles flows a procession of tankers, cruise ships, container vessels and numberless other craft. Gallipoli is close, and away to the north-west, high up above this magnificent waterway, is Chunuk Bair with its Turkish and Anzac memorials. Further along the front is a reminder of the stout defence Turkey put up to hold the Dardanelles in 1914 and 1915 – the replica of the minelayer Nusret at the Çanakkale Boğaz Komutanlığı Askeri Müze (Çanakkale Strait Commandery Military Museum).

On the night of 8 March 1915, the Nusret’s commander, Captain Hakki Bey, took his ship into Erenköy Bay, south of Kephes Point. Observers had noticed that French and British battleships would manoeuvre here as they turned to head out of the Straits after a bombardment of the forts. The Allied captains knew about the minefields stretching across the Straits from above the point but assumed Erenköy Bay was safe. Here, the Nusret laid a new line of 26 mines parallel to the shore.

On 18 March 1915, the great Allied flotilla came up and commenced the most intensive bombardment to date aimed at destroying the shore batteries. In the early afternoon, the French warship Bouvet was turning away in Erenköy Bay when there was an explosion, and within minutes the ship had keeled over and sunk, taking 600 men to the bottom. A handful of the crew survived. The sinking was attributed both to one of the Nusret’s mines and to a shell from one of the forts. It was a great morale boost to the Turkish gunners, who had been taking a pounding from the Allied battleships. Two more British warships, HMS Irresistible and HMS Ocean, again both manoeuvring in Erenköy Bay, struck mines and eventually sank. Next day the Allied fleet did not return to the attack and, not surprisingly, the Nusret is regarded as the ‘hero’ ship of the Turkish defence of the Dardanelles.

Fort Dardanos

Listen to the audio commentary on your device.

Download audio of Fort Dardanos 1.63 MB MP3

Audio transcript

When the great Allied fleet of British and French warships came down the Dardanelles on the morning of 18 March 1915, one of the best views of the subsequent battle between the Turkish shore batteries and the fleet would have been from the heights south of Kephes Point. The four first-line British battleships had names rich in historical association. There was the Agamemnon, recalling the warrior king who had led the Greeks against Troy; the Lord Nelson, honouring the most famous admiral in British naval history; the Queen Elizabeth, England’s Queen when the Spanish Armada of 1588 met its fate at the hands of English sailors; and the Inflexible, suggesting the stubborn power of the Royal Navy, guardian of the British Empire.

At 11.30 am the warships opened fire and the noise would have been deafening, echoing around the hills of Gallipoli and the Asian shore. They had come to destroy the Turkish forts, for unless these could be put out of action the British minelayers could not operate safely to render harmless the lines of mines across the Straits which prevented the passage of the fleet. Opposing them at Kephes Point was Fort Dardanos, with Turkish guns and gunners commanded by Lieutenant Hassan. Even before 18 March the battery had received much attention from the Royal Navy, an estimated 4000 shells having been flung in its direction. Henry Morgenthau, the American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, visited Dardanos and wrote of how the land ‘for nearly half a mile about seemed to have been churned up; it looked like photographs I had seen of the battlefields in France’.

Lieutenant Hassan’s battery fully engaged the Allied warships on 18 March 1918 and more than likely scored some hits. Hassan himself was killed that day and lies buried in the cemetery, the Kahramanlari Hasan-Mevsuf Şehitliği, down the hill behind the surviving guns of the battery. He was described by Morgenthau as ‘a little fellow, with jet black hair, black eyes, extremely modest’.

Morto Bay French Cemetery

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Morto Bay French Cemetery 1.85 MB MP3

Audio transcript

It surprises Australians to learn that more French soldiers were killed at Gallipoli than Australians. At Morto Bay is the French National Cemetery and Memorial, with 3236 graves and four ossuaries containing the bones of 12 000 unidentifiable soldiers. Memorial plaques recall the loss at the Dardanelles of French sailors from warships like the Bouvet. The French component of the Allied force at Gallipoli was known as the Corps Expéditionnaire d’Orient, made up of French and French colonial African troops. The Corps was responsible for a section of the right of the Allied line at Kereves Dere (Kereviz Dere), a deep gully about a kilometre north of the Turkish memorial (Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial).

At Kereves Dere the French struggled in a number of attempted advances to take the Turkish positions and so allow the whole Allied line to push towards Achi Baba. So fierce was the fighting, and so heavy were French losses, that they called this the ‘Ravin de la Mort’, the Ravine of Death. Here French soldiers, men of France, Algeria and Senegal, battled for Turkish positions like Haricot (Bean) Redoubt and Le Rognon (The Kidney). Such homely names belied the French and Turkish blood that flowed for these forgotten battlefield locations. A French medical officer, Dr Subin, wrote of this area: ‘Wounded everywhere! The killed lay in confused heaps which increased as you advanced … the bodies had swollen and their uniforms were tight and narrow. It was awful!’

During the campaign, Morto Bay was well behind the lines but open to Turkish shelling from Kum Kale across the Straits. Here Dr Subin had a dressing station under a cliff, probably not far from where the Turkish memorial is today. On 8 May 1915, the day the Australians attacked at the Second Battle of Krithia, the French also tried to advance. Dr Subin described the casualties: ‘We laid the poor fellows in rows … groans were piteous to hear … bandages soaked in blood, clothes torn to ribbons … ever more wounded arriving’. Subin’s words seem appropriate for Morto Bay, literally ‘Death Bay’.

Çanakkale Sehitleri Aniti (Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial), Morto Bay

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Çanakkale Sehitleri Aniti (Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial), Morto Bay 1.83 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Towering high above Morto Bay, Helles, is the Çanakkale Sehitleri Aniti, the Çanakkale Martyrs Memorial. This is Turkey’s tribute to the soldiers, the ‘Mehmets’, who fought and died at the Dardanelles in 1914 and 1915. The view through the arches of the tower is to the entrance to the Straits of the Dardanelles, the Çanakkale Boğazi, a reminder that for Turkey, Gallipoli was not about a few acres of ‘Helles’ or ‘Anzac’ but the control of this seaway leading into the heartland of western Turkey.

The significance of the early sea battle for the Straits is emphasised on the friezes on the memorial. There are no captions to these scenes, but Turks with a sense of their history would know the stories. There is the ‘man with the shell’, Corporal Seyit, lifting the 275-kilogram projectile which, it is claimed, hit and helped sink the British battleship HMS Ocean on 18 March 1915. There is the game little minelayer, the Nusret, which snuck out to lay a clutch of mines, one of which sank the French battleship Bouvet. There are Turkish gunboats taking on the British battleships; one of the latter is sinking. Possibly it is HMS Goliath, sunk with great loss on the night of 12–13 May 1915 by the daring action of the Turkish torpedo boat Muavenet in Morto Bay.

In the museum near the memorial are battlefield objects and photographs – belt buckles, a wireless set, shields used by snipers and even a set of false teeth. The walls are adorned with the words of the best-known Turkish commander at Gallipoli, one who became the founder of modern Turkey and the first President of the Turkish Republic in 1923, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. One of these placards refers to a unit Atatürk knew well, the 57th Regiment, which on 25 April 1916, and for days thereafter, fought the Anzacs during the Battle of the Landing. Australians are all too aware of their losses at Gallipoli. Atatürk said simply of the 57th Regiment:

Meşhur bir alaydir bu, Çünkü hepsi şehit olmuştur.
(That is a famous regiment, because all of them were killed.)

Redoubt Cemetery, Alçitepe

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Redoubt Cemetery, Alçitepe 1.82 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Redoubt Cemetery, 2 kilometres south of Alçitepe and 400 metres in from the road between the village and Seddülbahir, lies at the heart of a significant Australian battlefield. In early May 1915, the Victorians of the 2nd Brigade AIF (5th–8th Battalions) and the New Zealand Infantry Brigade were brought from Anzac to Helles to form part of an attempted British advance towards Alçitepe. For both Australia and New Zealand it was a disastrous action officially called the Second Battle of Krithia.

The painting depicts an incident during the Australian advance at Krithia (Alçitepe) on 8 May 1915, when the commanding officer of the 2nd Australian Infantry Brigade, Brigadier General James McCay, urged his men on with the words, ‘Now then Australians! Which of you men are Australian? Come on, Australians!

British and French attacks on 6 and 7 May had made little progress towards seizing the important ridge behind Alçitepe, known to the British as Achi Baba. On the morning of 8 May, the New Zealanders went in but gained little ground. Late in the afternoon, when they were camping and cooking a meal, the Australians were called forward to attack across what was described as a ‘wide, dry, level, grassland’. The trees which surround Redoubt Cemetery today were not there, and the Australians came forward into intense Turkish artillery and small arms fire. ‘The heavily loaded brigade’, wrote Charles Bean, ‘hurried straight on, heads down, as if into fierce rain, some men holding their shovels before their faces like umbrellas in a thunderstorm’. During one hour the Australians advanced about 900 metres, but the houses of Alçitepe were still far off and the Turkish line had not been reached. More than 1000 Australians were killed or wounded in this sadly ineffectual attack and some of them lie among the many unidentified graves in Redoubt Cemetery.

Buried just to the right inside the gate at Redoubt is Lieutenant Colonel Robert Gartside, aged 52, who on 8 May 1915 was temporarily in charge of the 7th Battalion (Victoria) AIF. Gartside was supposedly the first man buried in this large cemetery of 2027 graves, less than 20 per cent of which are identified. He died hereabouts during the Australian advance, struck in the stomach by machine-gun bullets as he rose to lead another charge –‘Come on, boys, I know it’s deadly but we must go on’.

Helles Memorial, Cape Helles

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Helles Memorial, Cape Helles 1.71 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Cape Helles lies at the end of the Gallipoli peninsula, and at the end of Europe. Across the mouth of the Dardanelles lies Asia, the old fort of Kum Kale, and the ruins of ancient Troy. To the north-west is the island of Imroz (Imbros to the Greeks) and beyond that, towering up out of the Aegean, lies Samothrace, where the headless statue of the winged goddess of victory, Nike, was found in 1884. Northwards the vista is over fairly flat countryside to the village of Alçitepe. This is the landscape of the Helles battleground of 1915, and for nine months British and French soldiers gazed from their trench lines on the unattainable heights of the plateau, also called Alçitepe, beyond the village, which had been their objective on 25 April 1915, the first day of the Allied landing.

At the highest point of the cape is the Helles Memorial, a monument to those whose remains lie scattered across the 1915 battlefield. On the stone panels of its walls are the names of 20 752 British Empire servicemen who died in the Gallipoli campaign and who have no known grave. Listed among them are 248 men of the AIF. Why are they not at the memorial to the missing at Lone Pine? At some point someone took the decision to record here the missing Australians of the 2nd Brigade AIF who fought at Helles at the Second Battle of Krithia on 8 May 1915..

There are other important Anzac links with this memorial. Listed at Helles are the main military units of the AIF and the NZEF which fought at Gallipoli. Nowhere else on the peninsula are they honoured in this way, for the Helles Memorial is the ‘battle’ memorial for the whole Gallipoli campaign. On three faces of the great obelisk are the words HELLES, ANZAC and SUVLA, the names given to those three areas of the peninsula where British Empire troops served. This is a place which deserves to be visited by Australians.

Charles Doughty-Wylie’s Grave, Seddülbahir

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Charles Doughty-Wylie’s Grave, Seddülbahir 1.8 MB MP3

Audio transcript

In April 1915, just to the north of Seddülbahir village, stood a Turkish fort known as Eskitabya, surrounded by a deep ditch and barbed wire. Fire from this and other nearby positions on 25 April 1915 kept the British landing force tied down to Ertuğrul Koyu (Cove) –‘V Beach’ to the British – below Seddülbahir castle. Little remains of Eskitabya. On that site today, between cypress trees, is the most isolated grave on Gallipoli, that of Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Doughty-Wylie, Royal Welsh Regiment, who was killed in action here on 26 April 1915.

Doughty-Wylie’s is one of the most remarkable Gallipoli stories. A fluent Turkish speaker, he had lived in the country and been awarded the Imperial Ottoman Order of Medijedieh, 2nd Class, for his service to Turkish wounded when working with the Red Cross during the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913. On 25 April 1915, he was working as an intelligence officer on board the improvised landing steamer River Clyde. From there he observed the failure of the British troops, under intense Turkish fire, to get inshore from Ertuğrul Koyu. On the morning of 26 April, along with Captain Garth Walford, Royal Field Artillery, he led the way into Seddülbahir. The village fell, but Doughty-Wylie knew the beach would not be safe until Eskitabya was taken so, at the head of a bayonet charge, he pushed on up the hill. The attack succeeded, but Doughty-Wylie was killed at the edge of the defensive ditch. It is said that, because of his love of the Turkish people, he carried only a walking stick into action.

Doughty-Wylie and Walford, who was also killed, were awarded posthumous Victoria Crosses for their bravery. But an even more extraordinary story is associated with Doughty-Wylie. On 17 November 1915, a small boat brought ashore the only woman on the Allied side to visit Gallipoli during the campaign. She walked through Seddülbahir and up to Eskitabya to Charles Doughty-Wylie’s grave, where she laid a wreath. It was his wife Lillian.

Seddülbahir Fort, V Beach and Yahya Çavuş Memorial, Seddülbahir

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Seddülbahir Fort, V Beach and Yahya Çavuş Memorial, Seddülbahir 1.75 MB MP3

Audio transcript

The old Ottoman fort of Seddülbahir, the ‘Barrier of the Sea’, lies at the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, the end of Europe. On 3 November 1914, Seddülbahir was badly damaged, but not destroyed, by British battleships and 86 Turkish soldiers were killed. There is a fine walk down from the castle to Ertuğrul Koyu (cove) and along the beach towards, on the cliff top beyond, the ruins of Ertuğrul Fort. Looking along to the right from the fort is a memorial, the Yahya Çavuş Şehitliği ve Anıtı, showing three Turkish soliders, a flag unfurled above them, charging with rifles in hand. They face the beach and a British cemetery known by the name that the British gave this place for their landings on 25 April 1915 – V Beach.

To effect the landings, the British ran aground an old steamship, the River Clyde, on one of the rocky arms of the bay. Soldiers were to run out along walkways from doors cut into the side of the ship and then on to barges yoked together reaching to the shore. The plan broke down. The barges did not reach the shore and a number of acts of bravery were performed by British sailors to couple them together under fire. Five Victoria Crosses were awarded for this action, one posthumously to Able Seaman William Charles Willams, who ‘held on to a line in the water for over an hour under heavy fire until killed’.

Determined Turkish opposition held the British back on 25 April 1915. A machine-gun in Seddülbahir forced hundreds of soldiers to seek shelter under the bank leading up from the beach. On the heights beside Ertuğrul Fort, other Turkish positions, one of them led by Sergeant Yahya Chavus, also kept up effective fire. The memorial to Yahya and his men shows them charging with bayonets; in reality they did more damage with well-aimed rifle fire. So many British soldiers died at this landing that a British airman flying overhead observed that the water of the bay ran red with blood. Many who died that morning lie buried in V Beach Cemetery.

Kilitbahir Fort and Corporal Seyit Memorial, Kilitbahir

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Kilitbahir Fort and Corporal Seyit Memorial, Kilitbahir 1.77 MB MP3

Audio transcript

From Çanakkale a small ferry runs across the Straits to the harbour at Kilitbahir. The short passage is dominated by two forts: Çimenlik on the Asian shore, and Kilitbahir, the ‘Key to the Sea’, on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Set above modern apartments on the hill to the right in Çanakkale is a large red sign with gold letters –‘18 Mart 1915’. This is a memorial to the naval battle of 18 March 1915, when the British and French fleet came up the Dardanelles and put Çimenlik and Kilitbahir to the severest test their ancient walls ever had to withstand. American correspondent George Scheiner, sheltering from the bombardment behind Çimenlik, described the shelling as ‘frightful … in Çanakkale houses collapsed as a result of the tremors … [the town] was in flames’.

On the road south of Kilitbahir are a number of old ramparts and ammunition bunkers. The guns are long gone, but the gun positions are still visible and one can imagine, on 18 March 1915, the shells being conveyed up from the ammunition bunkers to keep the guns firing during the Allied naval attack.

Further along the road is a larger than life-size statue of Corporal Seyit. Seyit has in his arms a 275-kilogram shell for his gun battery at the Rumeli Mecidiye Rampart. He was a timber cutter, famous in his village for his great strength and capable of walking around with a log under each arm. At Seyit’s battery on 18 March the machinery bringing the shells to the guns broke down, so he carried them. The particular shell in the statue is probably meant to be the last the battery had on that day, when Seyit took it to the gun and fired it himself. Supposedly it hit and sank the British battleship HMS Ocean, but what also crippled the warship may have been a mine. Accounts vary, but the statue is a tribute to the Turkish gunners who stood firm against the shelling of the Allied warships on a number of occasions in February and March 1915.

Historical Background: The Straits of the Dardanelles, November 1914 – April 1915

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Historical Background: The Straits of the Dardanelles, November 1914 – April 1915 2.83 MB MP3

Audio transcript

When World War I broke out in Europe in early August 1914, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) initially remained neutral, unable to commit itself fully to either the Central Powers (Germany and Austro-Hungary) or the Allies (Britain, France and Russia). However, on 27 September 1914, Turkey closed the Straits of the Dardanelles (Çanakkale Boğazi) to British, French and Russian shipping and the situation gradually drifted towards war. On 29 October, German warships, ostensibly under Turkish control, bombarded Russian Black Sea ports. Turkey now found itself drawn inexorably into the German sphere of influence, and on 5 November 1914 Britain and France officially declared war on the Ottoman Empire.

In late 1914, as the war in northern Europe developed into the stalemate of the trenches, the British sought another, and supposedly more vulnerable, front on which to attack Germany. They decided on a naval attempt to penetrate the Dardanelles and push on to Istanbul (then known as Constantinople), the Turkish capital. The Ottoman Empire’s support of Germany in the face of a British fleet would then supposedly crumble, and wavering eastern European states, such as Bulgaria and Romania, would enter the war on the Allied side.

Turkey’s response to the British naval threat right from the beginning was to strengthen the fortifications of the Dardanelles. Minefields were laid across the Straits, mobile guns were positioned on both shores, and batteries in various fortresses were brought to a state of war readiness. On 3 November 1914, even before the official declaration of war, British warships bombarded the outer forts at Seddülbahir (‘The Barrier to the Sea’) at Cape Helles on Gallipoli and Kum Kale on the Asian shore. In late February 1915, the British ships returned to complete the destruction of the guns and Royal Marines were landed at both locations to carry out this task.

The inner defences of the Dardanelles did not prove so easy to overcome. It was necessary to sweep the mines aside before the great battleships could come up to engage the forts and push through the narrowest point of the Dardanelles – the Narrows. But all British efforts to deal with the mines with fishing trawlers equipped as minesweepers failed, as the shore batteries found them an easy target. Eventually, it was decided to mount a major attack on the forts protecting the minefields, using 16 British and French battleships and battle cruisers, among them the Royal Navy’s most modern Dreadnought battleship, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

This mighty fleet moved up the Dardanelles on the morning of 18 March 1915. From 12 kilometres down the Straits the warships shelled the forts (Çimenlik and Kilitbahir) at the Narrows, and other forts such as Fort Dardanos below Kephes Point. Initially, the bombardment seemed to be going well and the minesweepers were called up, but then a French battleship, the Bouvet, struck a mine (it may also have been hit by a shell from one of the Turkish batteries on the Gallipoli shore) and sank within minutes, taking almost her entire crew of 600 with her. Two more British battleships also eventually sank. Yet again, the minesweepers made little headway in the face of accurate fire from the Turkish gunners. That night the British decided not to press ahead with the naval attack and Turkey celebrated a victory over the world’s greatest sea power.

Atatürk’s House, Bigali

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Atatürk’s House, Bigali 1.87 MB MP3

Audio transcript

On Gallipoli, the back road into the old Anzac area lies north through the village of Büyükanafarta. On this road is the small Turkish village of Bigali, described by Gallipoli historian Les Carlyon as ‘seedy’, ‘lived-in’ and ‘worked hard’. The little café in the main square serves good Turkish coffee and the buzz of local gossip is presided over, as are many public spaces in Turkey, by a bust of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, founder and first President of the Republic of Turkey. But Bigali’s connection with Atatürk goes well beyond this expected acknowledgement of his national significance after World War I.

To the left of the main square is a long, straggling street, and number 126 is the most significant house in the district. Here, on 25 April 1915, Colonel Mustafa Kemal, commander of the Ottoman Army’s 19th Division, was living. Early that morning came the news that the ‘English’ (Australians) had landed across the peninsula at Ari Burnu. One of the regiments of Kemal’s division, the 57th, was at that moment on parade preparing to head out for manoeuvres near Chunuk Bair. Sensing the significance of the landing, that it was no mere diversionary attack, Kemal set out at once at the head of the regiment with a map in his hand. ‘Mustafa Kemal’, said Zeki Bey, one of Kemal’s officers, ‘didn’t know where Ari Burnu was; on the little maps we then had it was not marked by name’.

Mustafa Kemal was marching to his destiny. Aged 34, he had been sidelined by the rising political leaders of Turkey, the ‘Young Turks’, before 1915. The Gallipoli campaign would make Kemal probably the best-known commander on the spot. Years of war and revolution, however, lay ahead, from which he would emerge as Turkey’s greatest leader of the 20th century and be given the name 'Atatürk', 'Father of the Turks'. His house in Bigali, the ‘Atatürk Evi’, has been turned into a museum. So while Bigali might be a ‘seedy’ old village, it was from this dot on the map that Colonel Mustafa Kemal set out with his soldiers to do battle with the Anzacs on the morning of 25 April 1915.

Chunuk Bair

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Chunuk Bair 1.77 MB MP3

Audio transcript

The view from Chunuk Bair is breathtaking. The Wellington Battalion – men from the ‘Uttermost Ends of the Earth’, as words on the nearby New Zealand Memorial state – struggled up here at dawn on 8 August 1915, and were momentarily awed by where they were and what they could see. With little opposition, they had taken Chunuk Bair. Spread out to the east was the long watery sliver of the Dardanelles, the capture of which was the whole point of the campaign. The Wellingtons had little time to savour the moment before Turkish fire drove them to ground.

If the New Zealanders could have hung on to Chunuk Bair until strongly reinforced, the outcome of the Gallipoli campaign might have been different. Throughout 8 August, the Wellingtons defended a trench against repeated Turkish attacks. Leading them was someone who has become the best-known New Zealander of the campaign, Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, aged 53. With rifle and bayonet, Malone fought with his men and died that day. ‘Of the 760 Wellington Battalion who had captured the height that morning’, wrote Charles Bean, ‘there came out only 70 unwounded or slightly wounded men … they could talk only in whispers … their eyes were sunken … some broke down and cried’. During 9 August, other New Zealand soldiers hung grimly to Chunuk Bair, but no reinforcements arrived.

Opposite the New Zealand Memorial is a large statue of a Turkish officer, holding a whip, who assumed command at Chunuk Bair on 8 August–Colonel Mustafa Kemal. Kemal summoned the last Turkish reserves to the mountain, and striding out in front of his men, near dawn on 10 August 1915, he held aloft his riding whip. ‘Soldiers!’, Kemal declared, ‘There is no doubt we can defeat the enemy opposing us … When you see the wave of my whip, all of you rush forward together’. At the signal, a great Turkish counter-attack swept over the crest of Chunuk Bair and down the other side, where it was halted by New Zealand machine-guns. But Chunuk Bair had been saved for Turkey, and no Allied soldier ever stood on those heights again.

The Nek

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of The Nek 1.68 MB MP3

Audio transcript

At the Nek Cemetery it is difficult to realise that there are 326 men buried here. Where are their graves? Beneath the cross are a few headstones, mostly Special Memorials, memorials to soldiers believed to be buried here. Some of these are to Australian light horsemen and carry the date 7 August 1915, the day these men, along with 234 of their comrades, were killed in action at the Nek. In 1919, Lieutenant Cyril Hughes of the Graves Registration Unit found and buried here the unidentifiable remains of more than 300 Australians, men who had died in an area described by Charles Bean, official historian, as a ‘strip the size of three tennis courts’.

These Australian deaths occurred during and shortly after one of the most tragic Australian actions on Gallipoli – the charge at dawn on 7 August 1915 of the 8th and 10th Light Horse Regiments at the Nek. The purpose of the charge was to tie Turkish attention down to this sector as New Zealand troops were supposedly seizing the heights of Chunuk Bair during the great August offensive. This would distract the enemy at the critical moment as the Turks holding the trenches at the Nek realised that Allied soldiers might be coming down the slopes behind them. This did not happen, and the light horsemen rose from their trenches, immediately behind where the cemetery is today, to be met with a hail of bullets. Within three-quarters of an hour three waves of Australians, and part of a fourth, had been cut down, most before they even got near the Turkish lines.

Charles Bean felt this charge would go down as one of the bravest acts in the history of Australians at war. In memorable words, Bean described the scene:

The Nek could be seen crowded with their bodies. 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 climbed higher … such movement ceased. Over the whole summit the figures lay still in the quivering sun.

Baby 700 Cemetery

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Download audio of Baby 700 Cemetery 1.88 MB MP3

Audio transcript

Up the road to Chunuk Bair beyond Anzac, and off to the right, is Baby 700 Cemetery. During the campaign this was Turkish territory except for a few hours on 25 April 1915. Visitors to the cemetery, Charles Bean wrote, could ‘look towards where Tulloch fought, and know that almost certainly among the graves at their side lay the relics of Lalor and possibly those of Mordaunt Reid’. These were Australian officers who led their men up here from the beach at dawn, their objective being Chunuk Bair. But ‘Baby 700’ hill, and the inland slope of Battleship Hill beyond, was as far as they got, for the Turks fought off any further advance.

That day the battle ebbed and flowed over Baby 700. Captain Eric Tulloch, 11th Battalion (Western Australia), with Lieutenant Leslie Mordaunt Reid, led a party past the right of the cemetery and along the inland slope of Battleship Hill. From there the sunlit waters of the Dardanelles were visible. Turkish fire forced Tulloch’s men to ground and, after fighting there for about half an hour, they withdrew to Baby 700. Mordaunt Reid was severely wounded, crawled away and was never seen again. Tulloch’s advance was as far towards Chunuk Bair as any Anzac came on 25 April 1915. In 1919, Bean found an Australian water bottle with a bullet hole on Battleship Hill, evidence that this was where Tulloch had reached.

At Baby 700 Cemetery a Special Memorial indicates that among the remains of the 493 soldiers buried here are those believed to be of Captain Peter Lalor, 12th Battalion (Western Australia and Tasmania), aged 30. ‘Little Jimmy’ as he was known, was the grandson of Peter Lalor, the leader of the Eureka Rebellion at Ballarat, Victoria, in 1854. As the senior surviving officer of his battalion on the spot, Lalor ‘was the person to whom everyone looked’ and that day he fought for hours in the area behind Baby 700. In mid-afternoon, as the situation deteriorated in front of him, Lalor rose to lead his men forward, and spoke the words, ‘Come on the 12th’, and fell dead from a Turkish bullet.