Lone Pine

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2 min 38 sec

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Audio transcript

For three days, from the evening of 6 August until the night of 9 August 1915, the Turkish trenches at Lone Pine were the scene of some of the most desperate fighting at Gallipoli. The Lone Pine cemetery partly covers this old battlefield, the Australian positions to that point being behind the eastern edge, and the Turkish trenches roughly where the pylon of the Lone Pine Memorial now stands. The Battle of Lone Pine began at 5.30 pm on 6 August when, after a preliminary artillery bombardment and with the evening sun slanting down into Turkish eyes, Australians rose from their trenches and charged. They were endeavouring to take and hold the Turkish line and to draw in the Turkish reserves, for this was a diversionary action to avert attention from Chunuk Bair, the objective of the major attack of the August offensive. Within minutes, the Australians had seized the Turkish front line and were into the communication trenches beyond. Now the real battle began.

The Turks were determined to recapture the vital position of Lone Pine. Turkish courage here matched Australian as counter-attack after counter-attack went in along narrow trenches and dark tunnels with bomb, bayonet and rifle. 'The wounded bodies of both Turks and Anzacs', wrote Private John Gammage, 1st Battalion (NSW) AIF, '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'. One of the Turks who died was Tewfik Bey, commander of the 47th Regiment, who, held responsible for the loss of Lone Pine, led a counter-attack and was killed. But the Australians held on to Lone Pine. When it was all over 2000 Australians and 6000 Turks had been killed or wounded.

A measure of the intensity of the battle is the fact that seven Victoria Crosses, the highest British Empire bravery decoration, were awarded to Australian soldiers at Lone Pine. One of these went to Captain Alfred Shout, 1st Battalion AIF, who was evacuated with terrible wounds but who was 'still cheerful and sat up to drink tea'. Shout soon died and his name is recorded on the Lone Pine Memorial.