The Ridge

Running time
2 min 18 sec

Audio transcript

Along Second Ridge, stretching from Lone Pine to Quinn's Post, was the heart of the Anzac position. To the left of the road, hugging the tops of the valleys, were the Anzac trenches and just metres away, on the other side of where the road runs today, were the Turks. On 18 May 1915, British planes flying over the area spotted a dense mass of troops assembling in the valleys east of the Anzac line. These reports alerted the Anzac commanders to the fact that a great Turkish attack was in the offing and, indeed, more than 4000 Turkish soldiers were being assembled for a rush on the Anzac line all the way from Quinn's Post to Bolton's Ridge. The centre of the attack was to be up the valley roughly between where Johnston's Jolly and Courtney's Post cemeteries are today.

The attack came at around 3 am on 19 May 1915. Over the next few hours thousands of Turks were shot down as Anzac rifle and machine-gun fire poured into wave after wave of Turks. Official historian Charles Bean described the attacks at Quinn's Post as 'exceedingly gallant' because 'the men who made them must have climbed out of trenches already crowded with dead and wounded'. That morning an estimated 7000 Turks were wounded, while 3000 Turkish dead covered the million rifle and machine-gun bullets fired into their midst. Although the attack failed, from then on Anzacs realised they were up against a brave and determined foe and their respect for the Turks grew.

Before long the corpses between the lines were rotting in the sun. A truce was arranged for 24 May 1915 to bury the dead, and Turk and Anzac met for the first time in no-man's-land. Surveying the scene, a Turkish officer said to Anzac intelligence officer Captain Aubrey Herbert that 'at this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage and the most savage must weep'.

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