At dawn on the 25th of April, we remember the ANZAC’s who fought so bravely on the shores of Gallipoli. The men who fought for our country, our freedom and our families. As they charged onto the shores of Anzac Cove, 2km north of where they should have landed, hell rained down from above and the surrounding hills for months on end. More Information
“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.”
This story is the work of myself, and whilst based on the ANZAC’s and the battles that they fought, may not be completely factual or correct and is merely an effort to get across what went on in Gallipoli that month.
Wellington Battalion – 6am – Sunday the 25th – 1915
As the cannons boomed throughout the morning sky against the bay as the British, French and Russian soldiers attacked the Turks, we sat on small boats making our way in. We were confident that we would call victory soon after we landed and many of us were un-fazed by the ongoings around us. Some of the men were reading books that they had brought along with them and some were drawing deep breaths from the cigarette that hung from their lips.
There was a chill in the air as the day came upon us and the sun began to rise lazily through the sky, the sound of water lapping up against the side of the boat, brought an ever reminding knowledge that we were on our way to where we would begin our assault.
What could possibly withstand these cannons? Surely their firepower would destroy anything that was in it’s path!
- 9am -
As we drew into the bay bullets started to whizz by, if we were lucky, none of them would hit us. We had our packs strapped to our backs and guns at the ready, a steely look of determination in each man’s eyes. My friends, many of the men in my Battalion I had grown up with, we had shared laughs and tears, many memories and our fears. Now here we stand, side by side, tall and proud, fearless and strong.
The closer we got, the more the bullets seemed to draw near. As I was thinking of my family, one of my soldiers walked towards me, swaying with the ocean waves as he stumbled closer, laden with heavy gear. Before he could open his mouth he dropped to the deck and a spray of blood coated everything around him, we rushed over to him and saw that a bullet had entered into his spine and he had died instantly, without even firing a single shot.
We had to put it at the back of our minds as we were now seconds away from landing, the crack of gunshots filled the air and we were paused, waiting to disembark.
Tension was present among all of us as we looked around as soldiers in ones and two’s were picked off like flies, slumping off the side of the boat or floating, motionless on the water, encapsulated in an everlasting peace. At that point in time they seemed like the unlucky ones, unable to continue on and take part in the unfolding events.
- 9.30am -
As the boat crashed upon the sand, we jumped off in unison and tried to make our way up into a covered spot from enemy fire but the bay was to narrow for it and the surrounding terrain was a lot harder to get around than what was expected.
I was nervous now, volleys of bullets rained down on top of us and the ground became littered with bodies as men lay still, sometimes shaking with shock as they bled out, alone. I shouted out to my company and grouped them back together with what also remained of another company whose commanding officer had been killed on shore.
Chaos was all around, the deafening snap of gunshots mixed with the screams of men, outboard motors humming in the background and the cannon shots that were blasting into the walls, some 60km’s away. Men were running everywhere, there was no direction and no escape. The Turks were buried up in the hills above that overlooked the bay and shot constant rounds off into us, while also seemingly out of reach.
The Australians that had landed earlier were starting to take the crest, I still don’t know how they managed that and the machine-gun that was laying into the troops was silenced but the noise carried on in my head for long after. The shock from this ordeal nearly made me lose my mind there and then, for months we had been stuck in the deserts of Egypt, training and eager to get out into battle, to defend our countries and to take part in this new adventure. But nothing could have prepared us for this. Death hung like a shadow, creeping up silently and quickly taking soldiers from around us and pulling them into Mother Earth’s embrace.
It was pointless trying to control what was going on around me, men were scattered throughout the knee high scrub that was as much as a problem as the Turkish troops we were facing.
Up ahead we saw a hill that was of great importance, it is what we had planned on taking over when we had moved up over the plains but because we were dropped near the base of the Highlands it was a much more difficult effort to accomplish that task. The hill was dubbed ‘Baby 700′ and would allow us to take control of Chunuk Bair.
– 6pm -
The sun was beginning to fall and the thunk of pick-axe’s reverberated around, the sweat, blood and tears of each soldier running down the handle into the cold, hard earth.
The wounded were being carted off , too many too see and many dying alone in the silence whilst waiting to see a medic. The dead numbered in the hundreds, with the injured at a much higher toll. Whenever I looked into another soldiers eyes, I could see a place void of any hope, empty of feeling and dark red with anger. Many a friend had been lost in the battle, people they once knew, now still, lain among the dirt.
The Otago battalion were keeping watch and holding the lines as we dug into the unforgiving earth that would more than likely claim our bodies. We were different now, I can’t quite put my finger on what it is but we are not who we used to be, or ever will be once again.
To be continued…