North Beach

Audio file
Running time
2 min 26 sec

Listen to the audio-cast on your device.

Audio transcript

Looming over North Beach is the great natural outcrop of the 'Sphinx', so named by the Anzacs who landed here at dawn on 25 April 1915. One of the first waves, the men of the 11th Battalion from Western Australia, came ashore at dawn beneath the slopes leading up to the flat-topped peak to the right of the Sphinx, later known as Plugge's Plateau. Under fire from the small Turkish garrison that was defending the area, the Australians struggled up towards the plateau, at times using their bayonets to dig into the earth and pull themselves forwards. Soon they were at the top and firing after some Turks who were withdrawing towards a ridge line in the distance. The Australians were moving inland to what would be a day-long struggle with the Turks to hold on at Anzac.

An Anzac who came ashore at North Beach was the 'Man with the Donkey', Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick of the 3rd Field Ambulance. During the morning of 25 April the ambulancemen established an aid post and stretcher-bearers scoured the cliffs around the Sphinx for Australian wounded. 'The Three sections were going for all they were worth', wrote Captain Douglas McWhae, 3rd Field Ambulance, 'they had iodine and field dressings; all splints were improvised using rifles and bushes. There were terrible wounds to deal with'.

After August 1915, North Beach was transformed into a major base against the possibility of the Anzacs having to spend the winter on Gallipoli. There were piers, mountains of stores, a tented hospital, a post office and even a YMCA, complete with so-called 'comforts' such as chocolate and tobacco. The piers of North Beach were major embarkation points during the evacuation of December 1915, and at 4.10 am on 20 December 1915, Colonel John Paton, the commander of the 'Rear Party', the last man to leave Anzac, departed from Williams' Pier, which ran out into the sea roughly from where the bottom wall of the Anzac Commemorative Site now stands.