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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

42.1.e Anzac Centenary - Gallipoli 28th April to July

The Generals underestimated their Opponents.  They were an Army intent on protecting their shores, and they had their own allies, among them their closest neighbours, and then some.


A lot of the photos are from the Turkish archives, and the translations are not always easy to understand.  But they hadn't been sitting on their hands, unprepared for an attack, just the opposite.


The Turks and their Allies

Today, a part of Serbia, a part of the great majority of the population remaining within the borders of Montenegro, Bosniaks from the Sandzak region created thousands of Muslim, to fight in the ranks of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 went to Çanakkale.



No volunteers from among the people of Rumeli, meaning "curumliye (đurumlije)" you call it




Avustralyalılar ateş etmeye başladılar ve sabahın ilerleyen saatlerinde Anzak hattı boyunca özellikle burada, yani Kanlısırt Platosu’ndaki Merkez Tepe’ye ve Bombasırtı’na çıkan sırttan hücum eden Türk dalgalarına 948.000 tüfek ve makinalı tüfek mermisi yağdırdılar.















After a short period of time from 3.00, gleam of bayonets of Turkish soldiers are currently standing up places in the North, with Johnston in the next backup is Central between the hills, cloudless night while he was well known.

The Australians began firing and later this morning during the ANZAC line especially here, so the Central Hills and plateau in Lone Pine to Quinn's post comes back from storming Turkish wave 948,000 rifle and


Quinn's karakolu yani Bombasırtı civarı olabilir. / Australian sniper using a periscope rifle at Gallipoli, 1915. He is aided by a spotter with a periscope. The men are believed to belong to the Australian 2nd Light Horse Regiment and the location is probably Quinn's Post.

April 1915

 28 – Helles: First Battle of Krithia British and French forces suffer 4,000 casualties for little gain.

  • 28 – Anzac: The Anzac landing is reinforced by four battalions from the Royal Naval Division.

The Battles for Krithia


During the Gallipoli campaign in 1915, several battles were fought near the village of Krithia. The village was an objective of the first day of the landing, 25 April 1915. Over the following months, invading British Empire and French troops, who had landed near Cape Helles at the end of the peninsula, made several attempts to capture the village. It was never reached; the Turkish defenders successfully repulsed every assault.
The attacks came to be known as:
The French landing
  • The First Battle of Krithia - 28 April
  • The Second Battle of Krithia - 6 May - 8 May
  • The Third Battle of Krithia - 4 June
  • The Battle of Krithia Vineyard - 6 August – 13 August

The First Battle of Krithia was the first Allied attempt to advance in the Battle of Gallipoli during the First World War. Starting on 28 April, three days after the Landing at Cape Helles, the attack broke down due to the defensive power of the Ottoman opposing forces, poor leadership and planning, lack of communications and exhaustion and demoralisation of the troops

On the morning of 25 April 1915, the British 29th Division under the command of Major General Aylmer Hunter-Weston landed on five beaches around Cape Helles at the southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire. The main landings at 'V' and 'W' Beaches were hotly contested and the British suffered heavy casualties.

 A supporting landing made at 'Y' Beach on the Aegean coast to the north was made without opposition but the troops were without instructions so made no attempt to either advance or dig in. At that time, the first-day objectives of the village of Krithia and the nearby hill of Achi Baba were virtually undefended. When Ottoman reinforcements arrived the British were forced to evacuate the 'Y' Beach landing and so a major opportunity of early success was lost.




SEDDEL-BAHR MILITARY GRAVE
Seddel-Bahr Military Grave is the only isolated Commonwealth war grave on Gallipoli. On the morning of 26 April Lieutenant Colonel Doughty- Wylie and Captain Walford led the survivors of the V Beach landing to the village and fort of Seddel Bahr. Both won the Victoria Cross but were killed during the fight. Captain Walford lies in V Beach Cemetery, Dought- Wylie on the spot where he fell. 




The way up to Quinn's Post, Gallipoli Peninsula, seen from a sap (a deep, narrow trench) leading down to the gully. Due to its exposure to the enemy, the garrison at Quinn's Post had the most precarious tenure of any on the Gallipoli Peninsula.



 




British 25th April 1915

May 1915



  • 6 – Helles: Second Battle of Krithia commences. British 42nd (East Lancashire) Division begins landing as reinforcements.
  • 8 – Helles: Second Battle of Krithia ends.
  • 12
    • Helles: HMS Goliath is sunk by the Ottoman torpedo boat Muavenet-i Milliye.*
    • Anzac: Australian 1st Light Horse Brigade arrives as reinforcements.
  • 13 – Anzac: New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade arrives as reinforcements. Royal Naval Division battalions rejoin the rest of the division at Helles.



The Second Battle of Krithia continued the Allies' attempts to advance on the Helles battlefield during the Battle of Gallipoli of the First World War. The village of Krithia and neighbouring hill of Achi Baba had to be captured in order for the British to advance up the Gallipoli peninsula to the forts that controlled passage of the Dardanelles straits. A small amount of ground was captured after two days of costly fighting but the objectives remained out of reach.

Following the failure of the First Battle of Krithia, the exhausted soldiers of the British 29th Division halted to consolidate their positions. They had to endure a number of Ottoman counter-attacks on 1 and 4 May.

Similar counter-attacks were repulsed at the Anzac landing on 2 May so that General William Birdwood, commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps deemed his front sufficiently secure to enable two brigades to be moved to Helles for the next assault on Krithia.

These were the Australian 2nd Infantry Brigade and the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, around 5,000 men. Other British reinforcements included brigades from the Royal Naval Division and the 125th Brigade from the British 42nd (East Lancashire) Division.

The 87th and 88th Brigades of the 29th Division would once again be at the forefront of the attack. The Anzac brigades and General Vaughn Cox's 29th Indian Brigade would be in reserve. The commander at Helles, Major General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, was woefully lacking in shells for his artillery and those he did have were shrapnel shells which was ineffective against entrenched positions.



AWM ART09558, Charge at KrithiaCharge of the 2nd Infantry Brigade at Krithia by Charles Wheeler, 1927, oil on canvas, 107.4 cm x 214.5 cm. [AWM ART09558]
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

Cammed on Steele Ridge

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.
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.
 
Redoubt CemeteryRedoubt 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’.



REDOUBT CEMETERY
Redoubt Cemetery (Identified: 285, Unknown: 1,393, Special Memorials: 349) was begun by the Australians in May 1915 and was used until the evacuation. It takes its name from the chain of forts made by the Turks across the southern end of the peninsula in the fighting for Krithia and the Redoubt Line on which the advance halted in May.
Many of the Australians killed in the charge at Krithia on 8 May 1915 were never found, or if found were not able to be identified for burial. Their names are recorded on the Helles Memorial. Redoubt Cemetery contains the identified graves of a few of those killed on that day, including the commanding officer of the 8th Battalion (Victoria), Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Gartside, age 52.

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Light horse arrive

Light horse were like mounted infantry in that they usually fought dismounted, using their horses as transport to the battlefield and as a means of swift disengagement when retreating or retiring. 



A famous exception to this rule though was the charge of the 4th and 12th Light Horse Regiments at Beersheba on 31 October 1917. 
 



 In 1918, some light horse regiments were equipped with sabres,enabling them to fight in a conventional cavalry role in the advance on Damascus. However, unlike mounted infantry, the light horse also performed certain cavalry roles, such as scouting and screening, while mounted.


The light horse were organised along cavalry rather than infantry lines. A light horse regiment, although technically equivalent to an infantry battalion in terms of command level, contained only 25 officers and 400 men as opposed to an infantry battalion that consisted of around 1,000 men. Around a quarter of this nominal strength (or one man in each section of 4) could be allotted to horse-holding duties when the regiment entered combat.

At the start of World War I, Australia committed to provide an all volunteer expeditionary force of 20,000 personnel known as the Australian Imperial Force, which would consist of an infantry division and a light horse brigade.

As Australia's commitment to the war increased, the size of the light horse contingent was expanded, with a second and third light horse brigade being raised in late 1914 and early 1915. Eventually, the Australian Light Horse regiments were organised into five brigades:
  • 1st Light Horse Brigade consisted of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd Light Horse Regiments.
  • 2nd Light Horse Brigade consisted of the 5th, 6th, 7th Light Horse Regiments.
  • 3rd Light Horse Brigade consisted of the 8th, 9th, 10th Light Horse Regiments.
  • 4th Light Horse Brigade consisted of the 4th, 11th, 12th Light Horse Regiments.
  • 5th Light Horse Brigade consisted of the 14th and 15th Light Horse Regiments, in combination with the French 1er Regiment Mixte de Cavalerie du Levant and the New Zealand 2nd Machine Gun Squadron.
The light horse regiment's first involvement in the fighting during the war came during the Gallipoli Campaign, where the troops of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades were sent to Gallipoli without their horses to provide reinforcements for the infantry.

 During the campaign they were used mainly in a defensive role, although the light horsemen did participate in several costly battles, such as the Battle of the Nek. After the evacuation of the Gallipoli peninsula in December 1915, the light horse regiments that had been deployed were re-constituted in Egypt and in March 1916, the Australian mounted troops of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Light Horse Brigades and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade were placed together in the Anzac Mounted Division.

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12th The Goliath Sinks


Sinking of the Goliath


*On 25 March 1915, Goliath was ordered to the Çanakkale Strait(Dardanelles) to participate in the campaign there. She transferred her flag to second-class cruiser Hyacinth and departed for the Çanakkale Strait (Dardanelles) on 1 April

Commanded by Captain Thomas Lawrie Shelford, Goliath was part of the Allied fleet supporting the landing at X and Y Beaches during the landing at Cape Mehmetçik (Cape Helles) on 25 April, sustaining some damage from the gunfire of Ottoman Turkish forts and shore batteries, and supported Allied troops ashore during the First Battle of Alçıtepe that day. She covered the evacuation on 26 April. She was damaged by Turkish guns again on 2 May.

Loss

Since the Turkish Army had no long range cannons, battleships with large calibre armament like Goliath were able to remain out of range and had caused excessive casualties on the Turkish side.

Though it seemed impossible, the Turkish General Staff decided to sink Goliath.    On the night of 12–13 May, Goliath was anchored in Morto Bay off Cape Mehmetçik (Cape Helles), along with Cornwallis and a screen of five destroyers, in foggy conditions.

Around 01:00 on 13 May, the Turkish torpedo boat destroyer Muâvenet-i Millîye eluded the destroyers Beagle and Bulldog and three others and closed on the battleships.

Muâvenet-i Millîye fired two torpedoes which struck Goliath almost simultaneously abreast her fore turret and abeam the fore funnel, causing a massive explosion. Goliath began to capsize almost immediately, and was lying on her beam ends when a third torpedo struck near her after turret. She then rolled over completely and began to sink by the bows, taking 570 of the 700-strong crew to the bottom,]including her commanding officer, Captain Thomas Lawrie Shelford.


Although sighted and fired on after the first torpedo hit, Muâvenet-i Millîye escaped unscathed.Goliath was the fourth Allied pre-dreadnought battleship to be sunk in the Dardanelles; after her loss the flagship Queen Elizabeth was sent back to England.


For sinking Goliath, Turkish Captain of Muâvenet-i Millîye Ahmet Saffet Bey was promoted to rank of Commander (Major) and awarded the Gold Medal and the German consultant, Kapitänleutnant Rudolph Firle was also awarded the Gold Medal by Ottoman Sultan (Rudolph Firle was also awarded the Iron Cross 1st Class by the German General Staff because he was a German national)



 



Some of the survivors from HMS Goliath, HMS Triumph and HMS Majestic sunk off Gallipoli.




object description: Panoramic view of Ocean Beach, north of Ari Burnu and Anzac Cove, looking towards Suvla Bay. In the foreground is No 1 Australian Stationary Hospital, in the centre are the Ordnance and Supply Stores, and in the distance No 13 Casualty Clearing Station.; 







A Truce - To Bury the Dead

Mateship
 'An Australian carrying his wounded mate to a medical aid post for treatment, Gallipoli, 1915'.






A senior Turkish officer, Major Kemal Ohri, is led by the hand along Brighton Beach by two officers from ANZAC headquarters, Captain Sam Butler on the right. Ohri wears a blindfold and is on his way to headquarters as an envoy to negotiate an armistice to allow burial of the dead.[Source: The Australian War Memoria


Casualty Clearing Station (CCS). Major Ohri had met with Lieutenant General Sir William Riddell Birdwood to arrange a nine hour armistice on 24 May 1915 so that both sides could recover and bury more than 3000 Turks and approximately 169 Australians who were killed during the Turkish attack on 19 May 1915. The stench from the dead became so unbearable that the Turks initiated the nine hour armistice. — with Murad Hatip.


A large crowd of soldiers on the beach watch the Turkish Staff Officer, who acted as envoy, mount his horse after negotiating an armistice to bury the Turkish dead.[Source: The Australian War Memorial]


The time was taken up by making friends with the Turks, who do not seem to be a very bad sort of chap after all. After today most of our opinions on the Turks were changed …
[De Vine, quoted in Bill Gammage, The Broken Years, Ringwood, 1990, p 104]

By the first week in May 1915, the Anzac line along this ridge had been fairly well established. The Battle of the Landing had temporarily exhausted both sides. Moreover, the landing had failed, for neither the Anzacs nor the British force at Helles had been able to capture the southern part of the Gallipoli peninsula. That had been the whole point of the invasion – to get through to the Dardanelles and silence the Turkish batteries guarding that waterway. Then the Royal Navy, the theory went, could steam on up to Istanbul and terrify Turkey out of the war.


As the Anzacs worked to consolidate their positions, the Turkish commanders planned to drive them from the ridge and back to the sea. They considered the position along Second Ridge as the most vulnerable to attack for here their enemies clung precariously to positions just off the steep slopes of Monash Valley just on the other side of the road opposite Johnston's Jolly. One mighty rush of infantry could send them reeling back down into the valley and once the Turks commanded the whole ridge evacuation would be inevitable. So, on 18 May approximately 42,000 Turkish soldiers were massed in the valleys to the east. But aircraft of the Royal Naval Air Service, flying out of Imroz Island as observation planes for Royal Navy warships, spotted them. At 3.00 am on 19 May, well before dawn, the Anzac trenches well fully manned and awake all along the line in the expectation of a Turkish attack.

Shortly after 3.00 am, the glinting bayonets of Turkish soldiers were observed in the clear night moving in the valley between where you are standing at the Jolly and the next ridge to the north, German Officer’s Ridge. The Australians began firing and by mid-morning had poured 948,000 rifle and machine gun bullets into waves of attacking Turks all along the Anzac line but especially here at 400 Plateau, at German Officer’s and on up the ridge towards Quinn’s Post. One Australian likened the whole event to a ‘wallaby drive’ where the enemy were ‘shot down in droves’ while another talked of how they had stood virtually on top of their trenches ‘shooting as fast as they could’ until gun barrels became too hot to touch. Bean’s words capture the scene in this area by mid-morning 19 May 1915:
One of three views of the scene in front of the Australian lines at Johnston’s Jolly and along Second Ridge

photo: see caption below… the dead and wounded lay everywhere in hundreds. Many of those nearest to the Anzac line had been shattered by the terrible wounds inflicted by modern bullets at short ranges. No sound came from that terrible space; but here and there some wounded or dying man, silently lying without help or any hope of it under the sun which glared from a cloudless sky, turned painfully from one side to the other, or slowly raised an arm towards heaven.
[Charles Bean, The Story of Anzac, Vol 2, p 161]
Approximately 3,000 Turks had been killed and another 7,000 wounded. The Anzacs, by comparison, lost 160 killed and 468 wounded.



 While the Anzacs had been unable to push forward against the Turks, the failure of this attack indicated that the Anzac line would not fall to a rush of infantry against rifles and machine guns. After 19 May the Anzac soldiers began to see the Turks as fellow sufferers and respect for their courage and prowess grew.

Within days of the attack the air was heavy with the smell of rotting corpses. A truce was arranged between 7.00 am and 4.30 pm on 24 May to allow both sides to bury their dead. Prominent in the organisation of the truce was a British officer, Captain Aubrey Herbert, attached to the staff of the Australian and New Zealand Division. On the morning of 24 May, Herbert met and accompanied Turkish officers up the ridge from the beach to 400 Plateau. He found the sight between the trenches and in the gullies ‘indescribable’. So awful was the stench that a Turkish ‘Red Crescent’ official gave him antiseptic wool with scent to put over his nose. The scent was ‘renewed frequently’. A Turkish officer said to Herbert:
At this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep.
Continuing on up the ridge, Herbert saw for himself the full effect of the Anzac bullets: 
They [Turkish dead] fill the myrtle-grown gullies. One saw the result of machine-gun fire very clearly: entire companies annihilated – not wounded, but killed, their heads doubled under them with the impetus of their rush and both hands clasping their bayonets. It was as if God had breathed in their faces …
[Aubrey Herbert, Mons, Anzac and Kut, Hutchinson & Co, 1930]
painting: see caption below
Nauseating work
Sergeant Harry Freame, peering out from a sniper’s hole
Sergeant Harry Freame, 1st Battalion, NSW, of Kentucky, NSW, peering out from a sniper’s hole on 8 June 1915. Charles Bean, who took this photograph, wrote: ‘There are sniper’s holes looking down the valley to the north of J.Jolly. I took a couple of photos through the loopholes, and two of Freame sitting inside them’. By 8 June it was possible to walk from the Jolly through a continuous trench system along Second Ridge as far as Quinn’s Post at the end of the line. Harry Freame was a noted scout capable of creeping out ‘flat like a snake on the inside of your knees’ in to no-man’s land. 
I will never forget the armistice – it was a day of hard, smelly, nauseating work. Those of us assigned to pick up the bodies had to pair up and bring the bodies in on stretchers to where the graves were being dug. First we had to cut the cord of the identification disks and record the details on a sheet of paper we were provided with. Some of the bodies were rotted so much that there were only bones and part of the uniform left. The bodies of the men killed on the nineteenth ( it had now been five days ) were awful. Most of us had to work in short spells as we felt very ill. We found a few of our men who had been killed in the first days of the landing.
This whole operation was a strange experience – here we were, mixing with our enemies, exchanging smiles and cigarettes, when the day before we had been tearing each other to pieces. Apart from the noise of the grave-diggers and the padres reading the burial services, it was mostly silent. There was no shelling, no rifle-fire. Everything seemed so quiet and strange. Away to our left there were high table-topped hills and on these were what looked like thousands of people. Turkish civilians had taken advantage of the cease-fire to come out and watch the burial. Although they were several miles from us they could be clearly seen.
The burial job was over by mid-afternoon and we retired back to our trenches. Then, sometime between four and five o’clock, rifle-fire started again and then the shelling. We were at it once more.
[Albert Facey, A Fortunate Life, Ringwood, 1984, p.268]

As if God had breathed in their faces


photo: see caption below
The picture that appeared in the Sydney Mail of 6 October 1915, a fair while after the event, was taken, according to the paper, by a ‘Private Meek … with a small pocket camera’. He was not the only Australian recording the event. The wider shot of the same view shows it was taken by an Ernest Ross of the 2nd Battalion, NSW, and that he sought to copyright the image. An important effect of the 19 May attack and the 24 May truce was that the Australians realised that their bullets did as much damage to Turkish bodies as vice versa and that the Turkish soldiers were human like themselves. Sergeant Apear de Vine, 4th Battalion, NSW, of Maroubra, NSW, wrote:
We were at the rendezvous on the beach at 6.30. Heavy rain soaked us to the skin. At 7.30 we met the Turks, Miralai Izzedin, a pleasant, rather sharp, little man; Arif, the son of Achmet Pasha, who gave me a card, “Sculpteur et Peintre,” and “Etudiant de Poesie.” I saw Sahib and had a few words with him but he did not come with us. Fahreddin Bey came later.
We walked from the sea and passed immediately up the hill, through a field of tall corn filled with poppies, then another cornfield; then the fearful smell of death began as we came upon scattered bodies. We mounted over a plateau and down through gullies filled with thyme, where there lay about 4000 Turkish dead.
It was indescribable. One was grateful for the rain and the grey sky. A Turkish Red Crescent man came and gave me some antiseptic wool with scent on it, and this they renewed frequently. There were two wounded crying in that multitude of silence. The Turks were distressed, and Skeen strained a point to let them send water to the first wounded man, who must have been a sniper crawling home.
I walked over to the second, who lay with a high circle of dead that made a mound round him, and gave him a drink from my water-bottle, but Skeen called me to come on and I had to leave the bottle. Later a Turk gave it back to me. The Turkish captain with me said: “At this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep.” The dead fill acres of ground , mostly killed in the one big attack, bit some recently. They fill the myrtle-grown gullies. One saw the result of machine-gun fire very clearly; entire companies annihilated - - not wounded, but killed, their heads doubled under them with the impetus of their rush and both hands clasping their bayonets, It was as if God had breathed in their faces, as “the Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold.”
The burying was finished some time before the end. There were certain tricks to both sides. Our men and the Turks began fraternizing, exchanging badges, etc. I had to keep them apart. At 4 o’clock the Turks came to me for orders. I do not believe this could have happened anywhere else. I retired their troops and ours, walking along the line. At 4.17 I retired the white-flag men, making them shake hands with our men. Then I came to the upper end.
About a dozen Turks came out. I chaffed them, and said that they would shoot me the next day. They said, in a horrified chorus: “God forbid!” The Albanians laughed and cheered, and said: “We will never shoot you.” Then the Australians began coming up, and said: “Good-bye old chap; good luck!” 
And the Turks said: “Oghur Ola gule gule gedejekseniz, gule gule gelejekseniz” (“Smiling may you go and smiling come again”). Then I told them all to get into their trenches, and unthinkingly went up to the Turkish trench and got a deep salaam from it. I told them that neither side would fire for twenty-five minutes after they had got into the trenches. One Turk was seen out away on our left, but there was nothing to be done, and I think he was all right.
A couple of the rifles had gone off about twenty minutes before the end but Potts and I went hurriedly to and fro seeing it was all right. At last we dropped into our trenches, glad that the strain was over. I walked back with Temperley. I got some raw whisky for the infection in my throat, and iodine for where the barbed wire had torn my feet. There was a hush over the Peninsular.
[Aubrey Herbert, Mons, Anzac and Kut, internet edition, University of Kansas, electronic library, p.58
http://www.anzacsite.gov.au




June 1915

  • 4 – Helles: Third Battle of Krithia British and French forces mount a limited attack but still fail to reach their objectives.
  • 28 – Helles: Battle of Gully Ravine starts.


The Third Battle of Krithia (Turkish: Kirte), fought on the Gallipoli peninsula during World War I, was the final in a series of Allied attacks against the Ottoman defences aimed at capturing the original objectives of 25 April 1915. The previous failures in the first and second battles resulted in a less ambitious plan being developed for the attack, but the outcome was another costly failure for the Allies. The allied aim was, as always to facilitate the capture of Alçı Tepe (Achi Baba) which commanded most of the peninsula.

By late May, the British contingent on the Cape Helles front at Gallipoli had been expanded to three division and a brigade: the 29th Division (which had made the original landing), the Royal Naval Division (now reinforced to 12 battalions), the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division and the 29th Indian Brigade. On 24 May, the commander of the 29th Division, Major General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, was promoted to lieutenant general and given command of the British VIII Corps containing all British units at Helles. Major General Beauvoir De Lisle took over command of the 29th Division.

Hunter-Weston's previous battle plans lacked subtlety or sense, and he had been unerring in his failure. For the latest attempt on Krithia, some elements of refinement had begun to appear in the plans. For one, General Sir Ian Hamilton, the commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, insisted that the objectives should be limited to an advance of 800 yd (730 m). This was to be made in two steps: the first step was to capture the Turkish trenches; the second was to advance a further 500 yd (460 m) and establish a new trench line

Hunter-Weston's failures were rewarded with promotion?  Doesn't make much sense to me






Interrogation of Turkish prisoners, 3rd Battle of Krithia.








Headquarters and supplies



July 1915

  • 5 – Helles: Battle of Gully Ravine ends with the British repelling a large Turkish counter-attack.


The Battle of Krithia Vineyard (6–13 August 1915) was fought during the Gallipoli Campaign during the First World War. It was originally intended as a minor British action at Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula to divert attention from the imminent launch of the August Offensive, but instead, the British commander, Brigadier General H.E. Street, mounted a futile and bloody series of attacks that in the end gained a small patch of ground known as "The Vineyard".


The original commander of the British VIII Corps at Helles, Lieutenant General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, had departed the peninsula in July, following the last Helles offensive—the Battle of Gully Ravine. His replacement, Lieutenant General Francis Davies, arrived in early August but had not yet assumed command of the corps when a series of diversions were due to be launched from Anzac and Helles to divert Ottoman attention from the planned landing at Suvla and the break out from Anzac. Consequently, the Helles diversion was planned and conducted by the VIII Corps' chief of staff, Brigadier General H.E. Street, who proved himself an able student of Hunter-Weston's battle strategy

Two Victoria Crosses were awarded to men of the 42nd Division during the fighting at Krithia Vineyard. The British casualties in the first 24 hours of fighting, covering the original attacks of the 88th Brigade and the two brigades of the 42nd Division, were 3,469. The total British casualties for the duration of the battle were probably in excess of 4,000. The Ottoman casualties for the period of the battle were estimated to be around 7,000.


As for the other diversion at Lone Pine, the attack failed to fulfil its goal of tying down the Ottoman reinforcements away from the main offensive. As early as the morning of 7 August, regiments were being dispatched from Helles to the main front in the Sari Bair range




The Battle of Gully Ravine (Zığındere) was a World War I battle fought at Cape Helles on the Gallipoli peninsula. By June 1915 all thoughts the Allies had of a swift decisive victory over the Ottoman Empire had vanished. The preceding Third Battle of Krithia and the attack at Gully Ravine had limited objectives and had much in common with the trench warfare prevailing on the Western Front. Unlike previous Allied attacks at Helles, the Gully Ravine action was largely successful at achieving its objectives though at a typically high cost in casualties.


Meanwhile the Allies had observed the preparation for the attack from the air and made their own preparations. On 5 July the last major attack of this battle commenced but met with a very strong wall of fire the Allies put up. The dead were mounting again in front of the British trenches. Mehmet Ali Paşa staff were of the opinion that the Allied advance was already halted and there was no need for these heavy losses. Mehmet Ali Paşa, in fear of a reaction from Liman Paşa, who was in turn intimidated by Enver Paşa hesitated. Again, Major Eggert intervened and Liman Paşa yielded. Finally the slaughter was stopped. This was the bloodiest episode in the entire campaign.
After the counter-attacks ceased, the front line stabilised and remained largely static for the rest of the Gallipoli campaign although both sides engaged in a vigorous mining war around the ravine.

Hunter-Weston had one final fling at Helles. Once the two remaining brigades of the 52nd Division had landed (the 155th and 157th Brigades) he planned a new attack for 12 July in the centre of the line  east of the Krithia Road and along Achi Baba Nullah (also known as Kanlı Dere and Bloody Valley) where the Royal Naval Division had spent most of its time at Helles and suffered so badly during the third battle of Krithia. It was expected that due to heavy Ottoman losses in the previous battle, morale would be low.

The plan was for one brigade to attack in the morning and the other to attack in the afternoon so that the full weight of artillery support could be lent to each brigade. The 155th Brigade would attack at 7.35 am and the 157th at 4.50 pm. Bombardment began at 4:30 am, from land, sea and air. 14 Allied planes participated in softening up the Ottoman defenses, one of the first such combined actions in military history.

Both attacks began well with the capture of the first Ottoman trench but descended into chaos and confusion as, in a repeat of the April and May Helles battles, the troops advanced too far, lost contact and came under artillery and machine gun fire. The next morning confusion and panic resulted in a disorderly retreat which was eventually halted but Hunter-Weston ordered the advance to resume and sent the battered Royal Naval Division in again. They suffered a further 600 casualties on this occasion but the line was stabilised.


By the end of the battle, one third of the 52nd Division had become casualties. General Egerton was temporarily dismissed from his command of the division for protesting at the treatment of his troops.



Lancashire Fusiliers wait to go "over the top"





Someone who stood up for his men!









[AWM A01818]
Brighton Beach Dawkins Cape water blocks

Sergeant Cyril Lawrence, from the engineers Australia on ANZAC basic food and water find the difficulty described the problems of the infantry:
"We are given a bottle (1.2 liters) of water per day. This water to bathe in it has to be a. .. All water rations and equipment; ammunition, artillery shells and so on, to the trenches to move by soldiers – sometimes 200 yards up. Infantry... "

[The diary of Sergeant Lawrence of engineers Australia. Sir Ronald East (ED), Melbourne 1983, pages 26-27]








Troops lining up to collect mail from the Post Office established 
by the Australian authorities on the Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.


The Water Diviner (released in Turkey as Son Umut or The Last Hope) is a historical fictional drama film directed by Russell Crowe. The screenplay, written by Andrew Anastasios and Andrew Knight, is based on the book of the same name, written by Andrew Anastasios and Dr Meaghan Wilson-Anastasios.
The film stars Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Cem Yılmaz and Yılmaz Erdoğan. The Water Diviner had its world premiere at the State Theatre in Sydney, Australia on December 2, 2014. It opened in Australian and New Zealand cinemas on December 26, 2014. The film is scheduled for a limited release in the US on April 24, 2015.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CkLC4Zr2Mw

For me, personally, who has been trying to place where Montague Durnford was killed, and why it took 6 years for a death certificate to be issued, this was a great movie.  It portrayed both sides of the war, some of the scenes in Turkey are magnificent, especially the Grand Mosque.  Russell Crowe had done a superb job with this movie.  Life as it was in 1921.




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The Australian Light Horse Regiments   (included here as our family were involved with LH)

New units were formed in Australia called Re-mounts, and they were sent to Egypt to care for the horses when they returned from the "successful" Gallipoli campaign, but that did not happen.





Recruiting the Light Horse

By 1914, when Australia joined the war against Germany, there were 23 Light Horse regiments of militia volunteers. Many men from these units joined the Light Horse regiments of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF).


msa - 1

         
Initially Australia promised four regiments of Light Horse, 2000 men, to fight in the British cause. By the end of the war, 16 regiments would be in action.





The Light Horse were seen as the "national arm of Australia's defence" and young men, most from the country, flocked to join. Many brought their own horses and some even brought their dogs. It all seemed like a great adventure.

The recruits took a riding test which varied from place to place. At one camp they had to take a bareback army horse over a water jump and a sod wall. In another, they had to jump a log fence.
Recruits had to pass a very strict medical test before they were accepted.

They were then sworn in and issued with their uniforms - the normal AIF jacket, handsome cord riding breeches, and leather "puttee" laggings bound by a spiral strap. They wore the famous Australian slouch hat and a distinctive leather bandolier that carried 90 rounds of ammunition.
If a man's horse met army standards, it was bought by the Commonwealth for about £30 ($60). Many men were given remounts - army horses bought by Commonwealth purchasing officers from graziers and breeders.

These were called "walers" because they were a New South Wales stockhorse type - strong, great-hearted animals with the strains of the thoroughbred and semi-draught to give them speed, strength and stamina.

Each horse was branded with the Government broad arrow and initials of the purchasing officer, and an army number on one hoof.

In camp, the horses were tethered by head and heel ropes between long ropes called picket lines.
In front of each horse was placed its saddle and equipment. The men slept close by in bell tents - eight men to a tent, feet to the centre like the spokes of a wheel.

At the start of each day, the lighthorsemen watered, fed and groomed their horses and cleaned the horse lines before breakfast. Then they did their training. Most were already expert horsemen and riflemen. The rest was drill and mastery of the mounted infantry fighting technique.

Each regiment lived and fought as a series of four-man "sections". When they went into action, three men would dismount to fight as infantry while the fourth man led the four horses to cover until they were needed for a further advance or withdrawal.

The effectiveness of this fighting method had been shown in the Boer War. But some of Britain's highest ranking officers opposed the technique - perhaps because other high-ranking officers supported it.

Meanwhile, the Light Horse eagerly awaited their chance to fight on the battlefields of France and Belgium - where cavalrymen were already dying in their hundreds, true to the terrible old "death or glory" tradition.

Man and Horse

Everything the Light Horse trooper needed for living and fighting had to be carried by him and his horse.

His extra clothing, food and personal possessions were in a canvas haversack carried over the shoulder. Across the other shoulder hung a one-litre water bottle. As well as the 90 rounds of ammunition in his bandolier, he carried ten rounds in the .303 ("three-oh-three") rifle slung over his shoulder and another 50 rounds in pouches on his belt, which also supported the bayonet and scabbard.

The horse was carefully fitted with the special military saddle, designed to carry a remarkable array of equipment with the least possible discomfort.

The saddle was built on a pair of felt-padded wooden "bars" which sat on either side of the horse's spine. These were joined by steel arches with a shaped leather seat laced between them. The same basic design had been used by the British army for many hundreds of years. Each century had improved it.

Now, when many experts believed that the day of the mounted soldier was past, this saddle would help men and horses achieve what had seemed impossible.

Across the front was strapped a rolled greatcoat and waterproof ground sheet. Mess tin, canvas water bucket and nosebag with a day's grain ration, were slung at the back of the saddle. There was also a heel rope, removable length of picket line and a leather case with two horseshoes and nails.

The man's blanket was sometimes carried in a roll, more often spread under the saddle on top of the saddle blanket or "rug". Most men added to this collection of equipment a billy and a tin or enamel plate.

Later in the war, troopers were issued with leather saddle wallets to strap at the front of the saddle. Some also received swords and leather rifle "buckets" or scabbards. Often, the horse carried an extra bandolier of ammunition around its neck, a large grain sack (called a "sandbag") strapped across the saddle wallets, and an extra nosebag slung behind.

msa - 2When fully loaded, walers often carried between 130 and 150 kilos. And, in the years of war to come, they would have to carry these huge loads for long distances, in searing heat, sometimes at the gallop, sometimes without water for 60 and even 70 hours at a stretch.

In the first days of the war, even men who had owned horses since early childhood could hardly imagine the bond that would grow between man and horse as each came to depend on the other for their very lives.

To Egypt and Anzac

On 1 November, 1914, Australia's First Infantry Division and the first four Light Horse regiments sailed for England in a fleet of transport ships.

Special stalls were built for the horses below decks and the lighthorsemen worked very hard to care for their mounts and exercise them in the limited space available.

Some walers died on the voyage and all of them suffered terribly in the tropics. Each man spent much of his spare time tending his horse. This helped reduce the death rate and strengthened the relationship between them.

Plans were changed and the Australians landed in Egypt to complete their training there. They were soon joined by another two brigades - six regiments - of Light Horse.

When the Australian infantry left to take part in the invasion of Germany's ally Turkey, the lighthorsemen remained in Egypt. But soon afterwards, they too sailed for Gallipoli as infantrymen, leaving their horses behind.

A trooper wrote: "We were hoping that in a couple of weeks at the latest, once more mounted, we would canter gaily along the Gallipoli road to Constantinople (capital of Turkey). We were mostly young and optimistic! We were soon to find what a long, long road it was."

The first of the Light Horse arrived at Gallipoli in May. Anzac Cove, scene of the first infantry landing, was already a bustling little port. Hundreds of men swam in the cove, ignoring the Turkish shells that burst over them.

As the lighthorsemen clambered to their camping areas up the steep, winding ravine of Shrapnel Gully, Turkish bullets cracked high over their heads. Infantrymen, who were old hands by now, laughed when the newcomers ducked.

Very soon, they too were old hands. They quickly proved themselves to be excellent soldiers and readily adapted to the dreadful living conditions at the Anzac front.

By August, when a huge attack was launched on the Turks, there were ten regiments of Light Horse at Anzac.

The 3rd Brigade - the 8th, 9th and 10th Regiments - was to make a dawn charge across a narrow ridge called The Nek.

Plans went horribly wrong and nine tiers of Turkish trenches packed with riflemen and machinegunners waited for the Australian attack.

The first line of the 8th Light Horse charged and was shot to pieces. Most men ran only a few yards before they fell.

The second line of the 8th went over the top and they too were cut down.

The first line of the 10th Regiment went to their deaths in the same way. The second line waited for the attack to be cancelled. Then, through an error, they too charged.

In three quarters of an hour 234 lighthorsemen were dead and 138 wounded in a futile action. They had shown remarkable courage and discipline. Never again would these qualities be wasted so tragically.

Across the Sinai

Re-united with their horses in Egypt after the evacuation of Anzac, the Light Horse regiments watched the Australian infantry leave for France. They were envious. But only two regiments - the 13th Light Horse and part of the 4th - were sent to the Western Front in Europe.

The rest of the Light Horse endured further training and patrols and outpost duty. Many felt they were missing out on "the real war". But there were good reasons for keeping them there.

Egypt was of great strategic importance to England and France because of the Suez Canal linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. And Palestine, (present-day Israel) which had been part of Turkey's empire for hundreds of years, lay at Egypt's north-eastern border, across the Sinai Desert.

Before the Australians left for Gallipoli, the Turks had launched an unsuccessful attack on the Canal from across the Sinai. Now, in August of 1916, a massive Turkish force prepared for a second attack on the vital waterway.

British forces headed out into the Sinai to block the Turks from Romani - a crucial group of oases in a great waste of sand dunes.

The Turks struck on the night of 3 August and tried to sneak around the end of the British line. But their move had been anticipate by General Chauvel, commander of the Anzac Mounted Division (three brigades of Light Horse and one of New Zealand mounted riflemen). He had placed the 1st Light Horse Brigade across their path.

Out numbering the Australians by more than ten to one, the Turks pushed them back. But the lighthorsemen made fighting withdrawals in classic mounted infantry style. Another Brigade took up the fight at daybreak. Towards sunset, the Australians were so close to their camp that cooks were serving tea straight to men in the firing line.

Almost at nightfall, New Zealanders, British cavalry and infantry struck at the Turkish flank and by dawn the Turks were in full retreat.

During the Battle of Romani, Brigadier "Galloping Jack" Royston, one of the great "characters" of the Light Horse, had gone through 14 horses. Once, when Chauvel tried to find Royston, he was told: "He's wounded and gone to get another horse."

Now came two actions which set the pattern for the desert battles to follow. On 22 December the Anzac Mounted Division made a long, night march and at dawn attacked the big Turkish post at Magdhaba.

Unless Magdhaba fell in one day, the attackers would be without water.
The Turks fought stubbornly and, almost at sunset, Chauvel ordered withdrawal. When shown the order, Brigadier Cox of the 1st Brigade said: "Take that damn thing away. And let me see it for the first time in half an hour."

A dismounted bayonet charge saved the day and Magdhabe fell.
Two weeks later there was an almost identical attack at Rafa. Again, near sunset, the retreat to water was ordered.

Again, the order was ignored and a final bayonet charge won the battle.
Observers noted a remarkable thing. As the final charge of fiercely yelling troopers was almost on top of the trenches, the Turks dropped their guns and surrendered. It seemed too late to stop the apparently crazed Australians.

But the lighthorsemen jumped down into the trenches and shook hands with the startled Turks.
They were delighted not to have to kill the enemy they had learned to respect at Anzac.

"The Kings of the Feathers"

The lighthorsemen who now rode into Palestine along the desert battle paths of Napoleon and the Crusaders and the ancient Romans and Egyptians, were very different from the eager young men who had flocked to the muddy training camps of winter Australia.

They were quickly developing their own "style" - something very different from their early attempts to imitate British military bearing.
One observer found them "tired-looking" as they moved around "with the slouching gait of the Australian countryman at home". But when ready for action, he saw the same men show "an almost miraculous note of expectant eagerness".

Another thought that the lighthorseman moved with a "lazy, slouching gait like that of a sleepy tiger" but described how the promise of battle "changes that careless gait into a livesome athletic swing that takes him over the ground much quicker than other troops".

They had already proved themselves as formidable infantrymen. The Turks called them "the White Ghurkas" - a reference to their deadly skill with the bayonet. Now the Arabs called them "The Kings of the Feathers".

When the Light Horse went to Egypt, Queenslanders, Tasmanians and South Australians wore splendid emu plumes in their hats - actually, small squares of emu hide with the long, brown-tipped white feathers still attached.

The plume had originally been a battle honour of the Queensland Mounted Infantry for their work in the shearers strike of 1891. Now it was adopted by almost all the Light Horse Regiments.

Even when a Regiment did not wear the plume on parade or in battle, the men kept one in their kit and tucked it in the hatband when they went on leave.
It was the proud badge of the lighthorseman.

Already the Billjims, as they called themselves, had become glamorous figures in the desert war.
The British cavalrymen were splendid soldiers, but tended to get lost in the featureless sea of sand.
Australian troopers seemed almost as much at home in the desert as the Bedouin, the Arab nomads.
Many of the desert Arabs had the reputation of being great thieves - ready to take what they could from those who invaded their lands.

But these same Arabs soon had a saying: "The Kings of the Feathers, they steal your bread".
Food, firewood, poultry, livestock - all were "scrounged" by the Billjims.

Through the centuries, the Bedouin had seen many kings riding in the desert. But none were quite like these.

Defeat at Gaza

General Chauvel of the Light Horse had been knighted for his fine leadership. At the Battle of Romani, he had kept in touch with the battle on horseback, often under heavy artillery fire, while some other senior British officers stay by telephones, some kilometres from the action.

Now, in March 1917, as the British launched their attack on the key Turkish fortress town of Gaza, problems of leadership became more obvious.

The attack was delayed by fog and by poor communication between some British officers.
When the lighthorsemen eventually attacked, they swung in behind the main Turkish positions and fought the Turks in a maze of tall cactus hedges marking laneways and fields on the outskirts of Gaza.
Shots exploded from fleshy cactus walls and troopers hacked through them with their bayonets to reach the enemy.

They had fought their way into the town before sunset and the Turkish commander thought the battle was lost.
But when word reached British headquarters that Turkish reinforcements were on the way, the order was given to withdraw - just as the major Turkish strongpoint was taken by British infantry.
Chauvel protested and some Light Horse officers refused to believe the orders. They had entered Gaza. They had found water for their horses. The order must be an enemy trick. But the signal came back: "Retire! Retire! Retire!"

They slipped away from Gaza in the darkness, many men asleep in their saddles.
The British commander, General Murray, reported the battle to London as though it was a victory and, the next month, attacked Gaza again.

This time, no effective use was made of the Light Horse. Some joined the British infantry in almost suicidal advances across naked ground swept by artillery and machine-gun fire.
The only cover was the shallow holes they could scrape with their bayonets.

One trooper commented: "Many times we had to jump away from the nosecaps of shells speeding along the hard surface of the ground, like a cricket ball hit at terrific speed, but I didn't see anyone try to stop them."

The 10th Light Horse, built up to strength after the massacre at The Nek, was again badly mauled. Half the regiment was killed or wounded.

Further unnecessary casualties were avoided when a sergeant of the 10th refused an order for a bayonet charge across 300 metres of open ground. He told the officer who had ordered the charge "not to be so bloody foolish and to go somewhere".

The attack was eventually broken off and the Light Horse withdrew.
Now, for five months, the British and Turkish armies would face one another along a 50 kilometre line from Gaza on the coast to Beersheba in the forbidding drylands between the Sinai and the Dead Sea.

"Bull Loose"

Many lighthorsemen were disillusioned with the way they had been used. They now hoped for a chance to meet the famed Turkish cavalry. But after ambushing some small Light Horse patrols and being ambushed in return, the Turks avoided major clashed and retreated to their base at Beersheba.

In these months, the lighthorsemen became familiar with the arid lands on the Beersheeba flank - rolling brown country with eroded wadis, or creekbeds, very much like huge areas of Australia.
They manned lonely outposts by day and night, dug trenches, scoured the country to find enough wood to boil their billies and learnt the position of every well and waterhole.

Then, in June, everything changed. A new English Commander-in-Chief arrived - General Sir Edmund Allenby, a big, stubborn, energetic cavalryman who quickly earned the nickname, "The Bull".

Up to this time, British headquarters had been at the Savoy Hotel in Cairo. "We're a bit too far from our work here," Allenby announced. "I'd like to get up closer where I can have a look at the enemy occasionally."

He proceeded to move everything 240 kilometres nearer the front line. He then inspected everything from cook houses to flying schools, racing from one unit of his army to the next in his Rolls Royce staff car.

Signallers warned of his whirlwind approach by transmitting a cryptic "B.L." for "Bull Loose".
The famous poet "Banjo" Paterson was running a Light Horse remount depot. He watched Allenby arrive - "a great, lonely figure of a man, riding silently in front of an obviously terrified staff".

Allenby had lost his son in the war and witnessed horrible slaughter on the Western Front. He told Paterson: "I am afraid I am becoming very hard to get on with. I want to get this war over and if anything goes wrong I lose my temper."

In his drive for greater efficiency, Allenby formed all his mounted units into the Desert Mounted Corps under Chauvel.

The Light Horse respected Allenby. And, for his part, Allenby respected the Light Horse. He had commanded a squadron of Australians in the Boer War. He knew what they were capable of; and they were to play a vital role in his plan to break the Turkish line.

Instead of attacking Gaza again, he would strike at the other end of the line, Beersheba.
First, he arranged for a British officer to "lose" some faked papers which made the Turks believe that a new assault on Gaza would be covered by a mock attack on Beersheba.

Then he planned a series of secret night marches in which the British infantry prepared to attack Beersheba from the west and south while the Desert Mounted Corps under Chauvel would sweep out to the waterless east and attack from the desert.

If Beersheba's famous 17 wells could not be taken in one day, nearly 60,000 men and tens of thousands of animals would be desperately short of water.

The Charge at Beersheba

The attack on Beersheba was launched at dawn on 31 October 1917, and lasted throughout the day.
The British infantry captured most of their objectives. But the Australians and New Zealanders had to make dismounted advances across open ground against two strongly defended hill-forts.

By late afternoon, the two strongpoints had fallen, but there were still heavily manned trenches protecting the town. Time had almost run out.

Brigadier General Grant of the 4th Light Horse Brigade suggested to Chauvel that two of his regiments, the 4th and 12th, make a mounted charge against these remaining defences.

Such a thing had never been heard of - a mounted charge across three kilometres of open ground against entrenched infantry supported by artillery and machine guns.

But the sun was almost setting and many of the horses had already been without water for nearly 48 hours. Chauvel agreed.

The two regiments formed up behind a ridge and moved off into a classic, three-line charge formation, going from walk-march, to trot, then canter.

The Turks recognised the advancing horsemen as mounted infantry and the order was given, "Wait until they dismount, then open fire". Field guns were sighted on the cantering lines, ready to fire.
Then suddenly, about two kilometres from the trenches, the lighthorsemen spurred to a gallop with wild yells, drawing their bayonets and waving them in the dying sunlight.

msa - 3The Turkish artillery opened fire and shrapnel exploded above the plummeting lines of horsemen. Some were hit, but the Turks couldn't wind down their guns fast enough and soon the shells were bursting behind the charge.

Two German planes firing machine-guns swooped over the horsemen and dropped bombs. But they exploded between the widely spaced lines.

 About 1600 metres from the trenches, rifles and machine guns opened fire. Again, some men and horses fell. But the Turkish soldiers were unnerved by the huge mass of lighthorsemen thundering closer and they forgot to adjust their sights. 

Their bullets began to whistle harmlessly over the heads of the charging troopers.

The lighthorsemen jumped the trenches and some leapt to the ground for an ugly hand-to-hand fight with the Turks.
Others galloped through the defences into the town as demolition charges started to blow up the precious wells and key buildings.

But, within minutes, the German officer in charge of the demolition had been captured by a lighthorseman. The wells were saved.

By nightfall, Beersheba was in the hands of Allenby's army. Of the 800 men who rode in the charge, only 31 had been killed. Mounted infantrymen and their superb walers had carried out one of the most successful cavalry charges in history - against what seemed impossible odds.

The fall of Beersheba swung the battle tide against the Turks in Palestine; and changed the history of the Middle East.

To Jerusalem and Beyond

Now the Turkish line could be broken and, soon after, Gaza was taken. The Turks fell back in a rapid but hard-fought retreat and the Light Horse pushed after them.

In a series of bitter fights and constant searches for water, Chauvel's great mounted army swept northwards across the ancient Philistine Plain - towards Jerusalem.

The British Prime Minister had asked for Jerusalem as "a Christmas present to the nation". The battle moved into the rocky Judaean Hills which are crowned by the Holy City.
By now, it was bitterly cold and chill rain swept across bare ridges, making every gully a creek, every road a quagmire.

The Light Horse scrambled into this bleak battleground as infantry, with no shelter but their waterproof sheets, no food but army biscuits and tinned bully beef - and very little of these.

One regiment moved into the Judaean Hills to relieve British infantry for a single night. They stayed for five weeks, rain-soaked, frostbitten, half starved.

The ground was too rocky to dig trenches and the men sheltered behind "sangars" - walls of loose rock, about a metre high.

A lighthorseman recalled that he and his mates were crouched behind their flimsy rock barricade one freezing night, waiting for a big Turkish counterattack.

Suddenly they heard the sound of bagpipes as a Scottish regiment came marching to relieve them in the front line.

"It was the most beautiful sound I'd ever heard," the trooper said. "It was salvation."
Jerusalem is holy to Christian, Jew and Muslim. The Turks eventually surrendered it to the British on 9 December rather than risk its sacred places being destroyed by battle. The 10th Light Horse were the first mounted troops to enter the city.

Early in the New Year, the 1st Light Horse and New Zealand Mounted Rifles supported British infantry in the capture of Jericho - key town of the Jordan Valley.

The Valley is 400 metres below sea level and more then 1000 metres below the surrounding ranges. As summer came, temperatures climbed into the forties. Few Europeans had ever endured summer in this hellish place.

The soil powdered to choking white dust, flies and malarial mosquitoes filled the air. Then, as it grew even hotter, there were fewer flies. The Turks dropped a message to the Australians: "This month the flies die. Next month men die".

But the lighthorsemen didn't die. They had already ridden in two spectacular raids across the Jordan River. The second of these was a near disaster as the 3rd Brigade made a brilliant strike at the mountain town of Es Salt while the 4th Brigade fought to keep their line of retreat open. Both narrowly escaped.

It seemed a foolhardy manoeuvre. But Allenby was convincing the Turks that this eastern sector would see the major British attack; while he prepared to strike in the west. The Light Horse were "smuggled", regiment by regiment, to the coast.

The Lord of Armageddon

At Beersheba, the Light Horse had shown themselves to be superb cavalrymen. Now, at their own request, nine regiments were armed with swords and rushed through cavalry training. Then they waited, hidden among coastal orange and olive groves, while Allenby - like a brilliant chess player - prepared for his winning move.

Everything told the Turks he was getting ready to attack in the east. Empty camps and long lines of dummy horses were laid out in the Jordan Valley. Infantry marched down into the Valley each day - and marched out again each night. A Jerusalem hotel was taken over and set up as a fake headquarters.
Then, in September 1918, Allenby struck near the coast. He pounded the Turks with an artillery bombardment, broke their line with the infantry, and Chauvel sent his huge mounted force through the gap to sweep around behind the enemy.

The retreating Turks were further battered by aerial attacks. Dazed, bewildered, they streamed down from the Samarian Hills in their thousands.

In three days, 15000 prisoners were taken. Within the fortnight, three complete armies were smashed and there were 75000 prisoners.

"Banjo" paterson had brought horses up for the great drive. He described how captured Turkish soldiers who hadn't eaten for three days, sat down silently to accept their fate. He commented: "Neither English nor Australian troops had any grudge against the Turks, and the captured 'Jackos' were given more food and more cigarettes than they had enjoyed during the whole war".

The Turkish commander had refused to eat until his troops were fed. Said Paterson: "Even in his worn and shabby uniform he could have walked into any officer's mess in the world and they would have stood up to make room for him".

This crippling defeat was centred on the plain of Megiddo - the Biblical Armageddon where a last terrible battle would be fought on the Day of Judgement.

When Allenby was made a Lord, he took as his title Viscount Allenby of Megiddo. He was, literally, the Lord of Armageddon.
msa - 4The great drive continued against the Turks' last remaining bastion, Damascus in Syria. Covering 700 kilometres in 12 days, the Desert Mounted Corps thrust at the ancient city.

After a terrible massacre of retreating Turks in the Barada Gorge, Damascus fell on 1 October, almost without a fight.

The 3rd Brigade, which had been shot to pieces at The Nek three years before, rode straight through the city, pausing only to receive its surrender. A single squadron of the 4th Regiment took 10000 prisoners with only a few shots fired and an officer and three men wounded.

Damascus was a crowded, unhealthy place and epidemics of influenza and malaria swept through the Desert Mounted Corps. Dozens of men who had survived Anzac and the desert campaigns, died in hospital beds.
But the great move to the north continued - almost to the Turkish border. The Turks saw that further resistance was hopeless and signed an armistice. On October 31 the war in the east was over - 11 days before the armistice on the Western Front.

"The Horses Stay Behind"

Victory had a sour note for the men of the Light Horse. Many had planned to buy their horses from the army. They dreamt of the good times they and their beloved walers could enjoy back home.
But the word quickly spread. "The horses stay behind." Because of quarantine regulations, it was impractical to take tens of thousands of army horses back to Australia.

Major Oliver Hogue of the 14th Regiment, who wrote as "Trooper Bluegum", summed up the feelings of many men in one of his poems.

"I don't think I could stand the thought of my old fancy hack
Just crawling around old Cairo with a Gyppo on his back.
Perhaps some English tourist out in Palestine may find
My broken-hearted waler with a wooden plough behind."

Then an order was issued that all walers were to be classified A, B, C and D, according to their condition and age. All C and D horses were to be shot.
They were first to have their shoes removed and their manes and tails cut off. Iron and horse hair were saleable.

Worse, the horses were to be skinned after being shot. Seven pounds of salt was allowed for the salting of each hide, to be sold as leather.

Horrible as these orders seemed, many men thought that this would be better than leaving their horses to be cruelly treated. Some tried to have their walers included in the C and D group.

Others asked permission to take their horse for a last ride and returned carrying saddle and bridle, with the explanation: "He put his foot in a hole and I had to shoot him".

Hundreds of the walers who had charged Beersheba or endured the Sinai or carried their Billjim on the last great advance, were taken to olive groves outside Tripoli and tethered in picket lines.
They were then given a last nosebag of fodder and shot. Without panic. To the last they trusted the familiar uniformed figures. And gunfire held no fear for them.

Soon after, the men prepared to return to Australia. But most would be delayed for months, helping suppress a rebellion in Egypt. Some were killed.

Before the Light Horse left for Australia, Allenby wrote a remarkable tribute to them. It concluded

"The Australian lighthorseman combines with a splendid physique a restless activity of mind. This mental quality renders him somewhat impatient of rigid and formal discipline, but it confers upon him the gift of adaptability, and this is the secret of much of his success mounted or on foot. In this dual role . . . The Australian lighthorseman has proved himself equal to the best. He has earned the gratitude of the Empire and the admiration of the world."

Eventually, late in 1919, the last of the Light Horse were back in Australia. The regiments broke up. The men returned to homes and families and farms and jobs.
The Light Horse of the 1st AIF had existed for five remarkable years.

Lighthorsemen in France and Belgium

The two Light Horse regiments which served in France and Belgium - the 4th and 13th - are often forgotten; because they rarely fought as complete units and also because they sometimes worked in support of British, French and Canadian troops.

In 1916 they came from Egypt to France's worst winter for more than 30 years. Some men had only summer uniforms and their horses weren't issued with rugs. One resourceful Quartermaster Sergeant simply "scrounged" a truckload of tarpaulins from a nearby army depot and cut them into horse rugs. He was punished. But the horses were able to endure that terrible winter.

In France the lighthorsemen often went into the trenches as infantry reinforcements, as they had done at Anzac. They helped control tangled military traffic, escorted prisoners and rounded up lost soldiers after major battles.

They were sometimes sent to reconnoitre enemy positions or the Allied front line. On several occasions, small Light Horse patrols discovered that, due to poor communication between different armies, a section of our front line was deserted. A few men manned the empty trenches while others rode out to the units on either side and drew them together.

In June, 1917, when a huge attack was launched on the formidable, German-held Messines Ridge, men of the 4th Light Horse rode in support of the Australian advance.

As they charged across the shell-cratered wilderness to take up positions on the long ridge, many men and horses were killed by artillery fire.

Others had miraculous escapes when shells burst directly below them in muddy craters and blew them into the air without serious injury.

In 1918, lighthorsemen came to play a vital role in the Allied offensive. As the Germans fell back, they left machine-gun posts to delay the Allied advance.

Small Light Horse patrols went forward to locate these posts. The technique was to select a "dangerous" ridge or piece of exposed ground, then to ride forward in a widely scattered group.
When the enemy gunners opened fire, the lighthorsemen galloped to cover, swung out wide to each flank, then moved on the gun positions from both sides at once. The German gunners usually surrendered.
In the closing stages of the 1918 advance, many roads were impassable and bad visibility prevented aerial reconnaissance. Mounted troops became the "eyes" of our armies. When the armistice was declared on 11 November, 1918, lighthorsemen were in the spearhead of the allied advance.
One of them, Lance Corporal Vic Grist, was the last Australian soldier wounded in World War I
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Afterwards

After the war, Light Horse units played a key role in the Australian Government's compulsory military training programme.
For a time in the sunny years of the 1920s, the Citizen Military Forces thrived on the glamour of the wartime Light Horse tradition. Enthusiastic trainees and high-ranking officers alike could ignore the possibility that motor vehicles would soon replace horses in both peace and war.

When training was no longer compulsory, the C.M.F. regiments declined and the Depression of the 1930s further weakened them. Horses became more of a luxury in those years of poverty and unemployment. Some regiments were motorised.

Then, in 1939, Australia joined Britain in another world war. Each infantry division of the 2nd AIF had a Light Horse regiment attached to it. But these lighthorsemen rode in tanks.

In the second year of the war, the last Light Horse C.M.F. regiments were dismounted. But the day of the Australian mounted soldier hadn't quite passed.

During the World War II, there was extensive cavalry action on the Russian front. The Russian cavalry - sometimes more than 200 000 strong - made lightning raids on the highly mechanised German armies. And even the Germans employed mounted troops until the end of the war.
The last of the British cavalry units fought in Syria. Here, Australia's 6th Cavalry Regiment formed a mounted unit they called "The Kelly Gang" which did valuable scouting work.

In New Guinea, a mounted Light Horse Troop did patrol duty and helped carry supplies. Some fully equipped walers were flown into Borneo for reconnaissance in rugged mountain country.

But by the end of the war, in 1945, the horse had disappeared from the Australian Army.
Three years later, armoured units with Light Horse titles were revived in the new C.M.F. and another generation of lighthorsemen grew up to fight in Vietnam.

Today, armoured regiments still carry the Light Horse name and their members often maintain valued links with the last survivors of the original units.

The army has created a small mounted team which gives displays of tent-pegging at agricultural shows and such like.

In most states, small civilian groups collect Light Horse uniforms and equipment, re-enact Light Horse training and, from time to time, take part in parades.

Sometimes old lighthorsemen watch these tributes to them and their horses with wistful smiles.
Perhaps the men and horses are carrying a bit more condition than the Billjims and the walers. Perhaps the equipment is a bit more "by the book" than in those days of the desert campaigns when you lived on your horse.

But it's good to see the horses stepping proudly; and the men riding to "attention" with one hand on the reins; and the emu plumes tossing in their hats . . . 
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Romance and Reality

The men of the Light Horse were dramatic, almost glamorous figures and it is still easy to see their exploits as some splendid adventure.

Much of it was adventurous and in the hardest campaigns, lighthorsemen still found time to laugh and play jokes on their mates, hold race meetings, organize concert parties, annoy British military police in Cairo - and generally made the best of their gruelling life.

These were the things they liked to talk about after the war. All the funny things, the good things that happened.

But almost every man in the Light Horse had endured hardships that are scarcely imaginable to us today. They had lived for weeks, sometimes months at a time with only one litre of water a day.
They had survived for long periods on tough army biscuits and tinned bully beef that melted to a greasy mess in the heat of the desert.

They'd gone for weeks without being able to wash, their bodies crawling with lice. Many nights, they slept on a blanket soaked with horse sweat.

They often risked death, sometimes had to kill men in ugly hand-to-hand combat, and saw lifelong friends die horribly.

And after it was all over, many of them saw their beloved horses shot in the terrible execution lines.
Today, you can still meet the last survivors of the Light Horse. They may show you snap shots, medals, souvenirs of Egypt - the bric-a-brac of war.

They're probably happy to tell you about some of their adventures, some of the good times they had.
But remember the other side of the story. And remember that these gentle old men lost their youth in those terrible years of war when death was never far away.
Taken from the series "Australians at War"




These photos are from the statue erected here in Hervey Bay in honour of the Light Horse.  $500,000 was raised by the RSL for the statue, and then 4 weeks before Anzac Day some low life in the area, decided it would be "cool" to desecrate the monument and break off the sword.

Unfortunately this is an example of just how disrespectful and uneducated certain elements of the younger generation are, and their total lack of respect for their elders, and their history, and that problem today is world wide. 







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