The History of the Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F. 1914 - 1919
Chapter III. — Gallipoli, from the Landing to the End of July; Including the Cape Helles Fighting
Gallipoli, from the Landing to the End of July; Including the Cape Helles Fighting.
|(1)||The capture of Constantinople, which would cause Turkey to surrender, and thus remove all anxiety about Egypt and the Suez Canal.|
|(2)||The attraction of Italy, Bulgaria, and Roumania to the alliance against the Central Powers, leaving the latter entirely surrounded by enemies, and securing the left flank of the Russian armies.|
|(3)||The opening of a channel for the supply of munitions to Russia by her Allies, and in return, the supply to them of Russian wheat.|
It was unfortunate that the British War Council assumed that the Dardanelles could be forced, and Constantinople captured, by the Navy alone. British and French naval forces made attacks on the forts at the end of February, 1915, and in March of the same year, during the course of which landings were made on both the Peninsula and the Asiatic Coast. But these-attacks failed to open the Straits; and the interval which elapsed between the attempts and the military landing at the end of April gave the Turks time to put the Peninsula in an elaborate state of defence.
* Mr. John Masefleld's "Gallipoli."
In order that the connected story of the operations shall not be interrupted by digressions which have no direct bearing on the military situation, it may be mentioned here once and for all that in the Gallipoli campaign, as in all campaigns in the Eastern theatres of war, disease was responsible for a very large proportion of the casualties among the troops; and that so rife was dysentery that had all those who suffered from its less severe forms been evacuated, there would have been practically no troops left in the trenches.
The constricted area held by the Allied troops was responsible to some extent for unavoidable extra suffering to the wounded: collected as they often were under fire and with great difficulty, they were not out of danger from the enemy's shrapnel until they reached the hospital ships; and this always involved their lying in exposed positions for hours (and on some occasions for days) until the lighters arrived to take them from the beach. Delays of this nature were inevitable on account of the nature of the operations; but it is undeniable that the arrangements for the evacuation and care of the wounded on the day of the original landing were hopelessly inadequate.
Even after a secure footing had been established on the Peninsula, the troops in the trenches had constantly to bear hardships wich were almost as bad as the sufferings of the sick and wounded. Those men who were sick enough by all ordinary standards, but who could not be evacuated on account of the large number of more serious cases which claimed prior attention to them, had their sufferings increased by the unsuitability of their food. Water was scarce; and the rations issued were ill-suited for troops fighting in a hot climate.
But in fairness to those who were responsible for the feeding of the troops, it must be said that the distance of the firing line from the base made the question of supplies very difficult. On this account and also because of the lack of space in the supply ships, biscuits replaced bread as the staple article of food; and practically all other food was tinned, and naturally consisted mainly of "bully-beef." Though these and other hardships of page 22 the campaign will not be continually mentioned, the reader must constantly have them in mind, in order to do full justice to the achievements of the troops who took part in the operations on the Peninsula.
The army entrusted with the attack on the defences of the Dardanelles was placed under the command of Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., D.S.O., A.D.C., and consisted of the 29th and Royal Naval Divisions, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and a French Division. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps consisted of the Australian Division (1st, 2nd, and 3rd Infantry Brigades) and the New Zealand and Australian Division (the New Zealand Infantry Brigade and the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade), and was commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir W. R. Birdwood. As has been already mentioned, the New Zealand and Australian Division also included the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade and the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade; but mounted troops were considered unsuitable for the attack, and were therefore left in Egypt for the present. The 29th (Indian) Infantry Brigade was to be attached to the Division, to take the place of the mounted brigades; however, this infantry brigade did not arrive at Gallipoli till May 1st; and then it was landed on the southern part of the Peninsula.
The main fleet of transports carrying the troops of the New Zealand and Australian Division left Alexandria at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 12th, and entered Mudros harbour, in the island of Lemnos, early in the morning of the 15th. The Lutzow, which carried Divisional Headquarters, also had on board the Canterbury Battalion, less the 12th and 13th Companies, which travelled by the Itonus. The last mentioned transport, and the Katuna with one officer and forty-one other ranks of the Battalion and sixty horses, left Alexandria on the 10th, and arrived at Mudros on the 13th. The voyages of both portions of the fleet were uneventful. The harbour of Mudros, large as it was, provided with difficulty anchorages for the ships of war and one hundred and eight transport and supply vessels assembled there.
On arrival at Mudros, the general plan for the attack was given to the Divisional Staff. On account of the previous naval attacks, it was recognised that there was no hope of taking the page 23 enemy by surprise; but it was possible to deceive him as to the actual locality of the landing, by means of feints at landing in other places. The main landing was to be made by the 29th Division, at the south-eastern extremity of the Peninsula; and a subsidiary landing was to be made by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, about nine miles further north, with the object of threatening the lines of communication and the rear of the Turkish troops opposed to the 29th Division. The feint attacks were to be delivered by the Royal Naval Division near Bulair, at the head of the Gulf of Xeres, and by the French Division, upon the Asiatic entrance to the Straits. It may be said here that no attempt at landing was made by the Royal Naval Division, nor did the Commander-in-Chief intend that its presence near Bulair should be anything more than a diversion, to pin to this ground the enemy troops which were known to be there. At Kum Kale, however, the French landed the 6th Regiment of the Brigade Coloniale, which captured the village and five hundred prisoners, and was re-embarked on the morning of the 26th, having fulfilled its task of assisting the landing of the 29th Division by drawing the fire of the guns on the Asiatic coast.
The time at Mudros was spent in company and battalion training ashore, and in practising boat drill with a view to the landing. It was intended to have a practice of disembarkation of the whole of the New Zealand Brigade, but owing to the weather being unsuitable the attempt was abandoned.
The orders for the attack on the Peninsula provided that the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps should land at "Z" Beach, between Gaba Tepe and Fisherman's Hut, and capture the ridge over which ran the Gallipoli-Maidos and Boghali-Koja Dere roads. The Australian Division was to land before the New Zealand and Australian Division, and was to provide a party, consisting of the 3rd Australian Brigade, to effect the first landing, and to cover the disembarkation of the remainder of the Corps.
The transports carrying the Australian Division sailed out of Mudros Bay on the afternoon of April 24th, and reached the rendezvous, off the coast of the Peninsula, at 1.30 a.m. on the 25th. Here 1,500 troops of the 3rd Australian Brigade, who had page 24 made the voyage on H.M.S. Queen, London, and Prince of Wales, were transferred to the boats of those ships and taken in tow by them. The remaining 2,500 troops of the covering force were at the same time transferred from their transports to six destroyers. The battleships and destroyers then proceeded inshore; and when about a mile and a quarter off the coast the battleships dropped the tows, which moved on towards the beach.
To quote Sir Ian Hamilton's Despatch of May 20th, 1915:—
"All these arrangements worked without a hitch, and were carried out in complete orderliness and silence. No breath of wind ruffled the surface of the sea, and every condition was favourable save for the moon, which, sinking behind the ships, may have silhouetted them against its orb, betraying them thus to the watchers on the shore.
"A rugged and difficult part of the coast had been selected for the landing, so difficult and rugged that I considered the Turks were not at all likely to anticipate such a descent. Indeed, owing to the tows having failed to maintain their exact direction, the actual point of disembarkation was more than a mile north of that which I had selected, and was more closely overhung by steeper cliffs. Although this accident increased the initial difficulty of driving the enemy off the heights inland, it has since proved itself to have been a blessing in disguise, inasmuch as the actual base of the force of occupation has been much better defiladed from shell-fire.
"The beach on which the landing was actually effected is a very narrow strip of sand, about 1,000 yards in length, bounded on the north and south by two small promontories. At its southern extremity a deep ravine, with exceedingly steep scrub-clad sides, runs inland in a north-easterly direction. Near the northern end of the beach a small but steep gully runs up into the hills at right angles to the shore. Between the ravine and the gully the whole of the beach is backed by the seaward face of the spur which forms the north-western side of the ravine. From the top of the spur the ground falls almost sheer, except near the southern limit of the beach, where gentler slopes give access to the mouth of the ravine behind. Further inland lie in a tangled knot the under-features of Sari Bair, separated by deep ravines, which make a most confusing diversity of direction. page break page 25 Sharp spurs, covered with dense scrub, and falling away in many places in precipitous sandy cliffs, radiate from the principal mass of the mountain, from which they run north-west, west, south-west, and south to the coast.
"The boats approached the land in the silence and the darkness, and they were close to the shore before the enemy stirred. Then about one battalion of the Turks was seen running along the beach to intercept the lines of the boats. At this so critical a moment, the conduct of all ranks was most praiseworthy. Not a word was spoken—everyone remained perfectly orderly and quiet awaiting the enemy's fire, which sure enough opened, causing many casualties. The moment the boats touched land, the Australians' turn had come. Like lightning they leapt ashore, and each man as he did so went straight as his bayonet to the enemy. So vigorous was the onslaught that the Turks made no effort to withstand it and fled from ridge to ridge pursued by the Australian Infantry."*
Directly the boats had landed the first party of 1,500, they returned to the destroyers, which had meanwhile stood further inshore, and disembarked the remaining troops of the 3rd Australian Brigade. The 1st and 2nd Australian Brigades followed, and were all disembarked by 2 p.m.
Meanwhile, the first transports of the New Zealand and Australian Division had not left Lemnos till 1 a.m. on the 25th, and the Goslar, carrying the New Zealand Brigade Headquarters, did not leave till 9 a.m. the same day. The Lutzow, on which were the Headquarters and the 1st and 2nd Companies of the Canterbury Battalion, arrived at 7 a.m. off Anzac Cove (as the landing place of the Corps was henceforth known); but owing to the confusion caused by the alteration of the place of landing, and the casualties incurred by the Navy, the first troops of the battalion did not leave the ship till 10 a.m. Disembarkation was completed by about 12.30 p.m.; and although the landing was made under shrapnel fire no casualties were incurred.
* Naval and Military Despatches, Part II., p. 276.
On landing, the 3rd Australian Brigade had spread out fan-wise, and crossing the ridge to the east and south-east of Anzac Cove (MaeLagan's Ridge) had fought its way to the south-eastern side of Shrapnel Gully, which lay beyond the ridge. The brigade was reinforced on its right and centre by the two remaining brigades of the Australian Division, and throughout the day a line of posts was being established from the sea, about a mile south of the landing place, along the ridge on the south-east side of Shrapnel Gully as far as Pope's Hill, about fifteen hundred yards east of Ari Burnu. From here to a point on the shore about half a mile north of Ari Burnu, the line was very weakly held by a few troops of the 3rd Australian Brigade; in fact there was a gap of some hundred yards between the left of the line and the sea. The 2nd Australian Battalion of the 1st Brigade apparently went astray, as it took up a position on the lower slopes of Walker's Ridge near the sea, instead of going with the rest of the Brigade to Shrapnel Gully.
The first troops of the New Zealand Brigade to land were the Auckland Battalion, at noon, and the Headquarters and 1st and 2nd Companies of the Canterbury Battalion, at 12.30 p.m. These were immediately ordered to reinforce the left flank of the 3rd Australian Brigade, and to fill the gap between that flank and the sea. While the order was in process of being carried out, the two Canterbury Companies became separated on Plugge's Plateau, a quarter of a mile east of the beach. There was great confusion, as the men of the various companies had not only become mixed with one another, but in some cases had attached themselves to the Auckland and various Australian Battalions; while Aucklanders and Australians were picked up by the officers commanding the various Canterbury parties.
Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart with the 2nd Company got well forward, and took up a position on the upper portion of Walker's Ridge, which ran north-east from near Pope's Hill down to the sea. They immediately became involved in heavy fighting, and page 27 Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart, going back to bring up reinforcements, collected a large party of Australians, and was killed while exposing himself in leading them up to the firing line. There the 2nd Company and the Australian reinforcements repulsed with the bayonet three Turkish attacks, and then withdrew slightly to more suitable ground, where they dug in.
Two platoons of the 1st Company went east from the Plateau and reached the firing line at Quinn's and Courtney's Posts. The other two platoons were held in reserve on the Plateau: one of them, later in the day, was taken by Captain Critchley-Salmonson to fill a gap on the left flank, where Walker's Ridge ran down to the sea coast. Two sections of the remaining platoon were engaged in carrying ammunition to the Australians on the right, and on reaching the firing line were kept there and were very badly cut up.
The transport carrying the 12th and 13th Companies did not arrive at its anchorage off Anzac till 5 p.m., and these companies on landing were immediately dispatched to the lower slopes of Walker's Ridge, which they reached at about 9.30 p.m. The night was spent in consolidating the position under heavy fire and in the face of several infantry attacks.
At the close of the day the question of re-embarkation was seriously discussed at Corps Headquarters; but General Bird-wood pointed out the difficulty of the operation, and decided to wait long enough to enable the position to stabilize.
The above is a very bare outline of the day's events; but the whole operation was a very confused one, and the accounts of eye-witnesses do not help to make it clearer. It must be remembered that the elaborate orders to which officers were accustomed later in France, assigning a definite role to each company, and even to each platoon, could not he issued in an undertaking of this nature. In the absence of previous reconnaissance of the country, which was of course impossible, elaborate plans would haw led to confusion rather than they would have helped those entrusted with the task of carrying them out. In any case, owing to the landing taking place further north than was intended, such plans would have proved useless. All that could be done was for the Divisional Commanders on the spot to issue their orders to meet the needs of the moment.page 28
The orderly landing of five brigades on a beach but a thousand yards long, backed by precipitous hills two hundred feet high, would even under peace conditions prove a difficult feat: when it is considered that this was done in the face of the enemy. it is not surprising that a great deal of confusion arose. Again, after the landing was successfully carried out, the troops had to attack, over precipitous country totally strange to them, an enemy who was invisible to them, and who was established in formidable defensive positions.
The difficult nature of the country is testified to by the fact that many who took part in the fighting were unable afterwards to recognise the routes over which they had travelled, in spite of the fact that the area of the country occupied at Anzac for the first three months was under a mile and a half long, and twelve hundred and fifty yards across at its broadest.
* Lientenant-Colonel D. McB. Stewart, Major D. Grant, Lieutenant H. Ffitch.
† Lieutenant C. C. Barclay.
Up till this time the infantry had had as artillery support, beyond the guns of the warships, only one mountain battery (the 21st) and one field gun of the Australian Divisional Artillery. Neither these few field guns nor the naval guns were able, on account of their flat trajectory, to bring their fire to bear on the enemy artillery, most of which was firing from deep gullies inaccessible to the fire of anything but howitzers. The result was that, though the guns of the fleet and the few guns ashore were able to give valuable assistance in repulsing enemy infantry attacks, they could not silence the enemy howitzers, which continually harassed our firing line. So serious were the effects of the enemy shell-fire that the Commander of the New Zealand Brigade informed the Divisional Commander that if the line was to be held more field guns would have to be landed during the night of the 25th/26th. The situation was improved by the landing of the New Zealand Howitzer Battery on the 26th.
On the morning of the 26th, the enemy's guns again opened an accurate fire on the firing line, Plugge's Plateau, and the beach. The guns of the Mountain Battery on shore replied, and the bursts of their shrapnel enabled the Queen Elizabeth to pick up their targets. The effect of the gunfire from the battleship was to silence the enemy's batteries for several hours.
During the morning the whole of the Canterbury Battalion was concentrated on Walker's Ridge, and the companies were re-organised as well as possible, though there were still numbers of the men of the battalion astray with other battalions. At 2 p.m., the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Australian Battalion asked for reinforcements to be sent to his left flank, which was being attacked. The 12th Company was sent; but while advancing to the required position it was checked by the withdrawal of two Australian platoons from the Ridge. The 12th Company went forward and by 6.30 p.m. had re-established the line. During the night the position was strengthened by hard digging.page 30
The following day (the 27th) the Canterbury Battalion was ordered to take over the remainder of Walker's Ridge from the 2nd Australian Battalion. The Otago Battalion came into the front line on the right of the Canterbury Battalion, and the 12th Company was withdrawn to its original position at the foot of Walker's Ridge. An officer's patrol, under Lieutenant R. A. R. Lawry, went out to the north of the Ridge and found the Fisherman's Hut on the beach unoccupied, though there was an enemy post on the hill above the hut. During the afternoon orders were received from Brigade Headquarters to send a strong company to support the Wellington Battalion, which had reinforced the Australians on the right of the Otago Battalion, and was being attacked. The Battalion War Diary does not say whether the company was sent; apparently it was not. The day passed quietly in the Canterbury Battalion's sector; though enemy snipers were very active, and could not be located.
On the morning of April 28th, the 1st Company relieved the 13th Company, a platoon of which was sent out to bury about fifty Australians, whose bodies were lying on the beach near Fisherman's Hut. Immediately the platoon left the trenches it came under heavy and accurate fire from enemy snipers. and having lost two killed and three wounded, it was ordered by the Commanding Officer of the Battalion to return. In the evening two battalions of Royal Marines (1st Naval Brigade) landed, and went into the right of the Australian Division's line, and the following day two battalions of the 3rd Naval Brigade came ashore.
At 2 a.m. on April 29th, a false alarm of an enemy attack along the beach, on the left flank, roused the whole battalion. Otherwise the day passed without incident, beyond the arrival of a party of reinforcements of an officer and twenty other ranks. On the 30th, the 12th Company was ordered to take up a position on the ridge north-east of Walker's Ridge, in order to cover a section of 18-pounder guns, which was to be dug in on the beach. The battalion scouts reached the position during the day, and finding it clear of the enemy, remained there until dusk, when the 12th Company joined them without opposition. Fire trenches were dug and communications established by a page 31 telephone to Battalion Headquarters behind Walker's Ridge. Three posts were established, afterwards known as No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 Posts.*
The 29th Indian Infantry Brigade, which had been attached to the New Zealand and Australian Division in order to bring it up to normal Divisional strength, was expected to arrive on the 30th, but it was sent to Cape Helles instead.
In summing up the position at the end of the month, the Divisional War Diary comments on the fact that, during the last few days, enemy artillery fire had practically ceased. It was believed that the enemy had withdrawn the bulk of his guns and infantry to reinforce the troops defending the southern part of the Peninsula, and was using only a small force to hold his position at Anzac. Unfortunately, it was imposssible for us to take advantage of the position, as even if we had made a successful attack, we had no troops in reserve to enable us to hold a larger area than we then had.
On May 1st, Major Loach was wounded while reconnoitring, and Major B. Jordan of the 13th Company assumed command of the Canterbury Battalion. During the night the 1st Company was sent down to the gully north-east of Walker's Ridge to cover the construction of emplacements for the 18-pounders, which had been taken along the beach during the day, but had been temporarily abandoned on account of the enemy sniping. The work was completed without mishap.
Reports from our airmen had led the Staff to believe that the enemy were placing guns on the hill above Nibrunesi Point, south of the salt lake at Suvla Bay, and the Canterbury Battalion was ordered to supply a party to destroy the emplacements and guns. At 4.40 a.m. on May 2nd, Captain Cribb with two subalterns and fifty men of the 13th Company, and Captain F. Waite and two sappers of the New Zealand Engineers, embarked on the destroyer Colne and were landed at the Point.
* Not to be confused with "Old No. 3" Post, which was on higher ground and further inland. This post was established by the New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade on May 28th and lost again by that Brigade three days later.
The general position at Anzac was now much the same as on the day of the landing, except for the establishment of new posts (Nos. 1, 2, and 3) near Fisherman's. Hut, and similar minor alterations of the line on other parts of the Corps front. Numerous Turkish counter-attacks had failed to break the line at any point; but many of the positions hastily taken up on the day of the landing were not well sited or suitable either for defence or for jumping-off places for new attacks. The trenches of the Australian Division, in particular, being sited on the southeastern side of Shrapnel and Monash Gullies, were difficult and dangerous to approach, as they were enfiladed from a hill to the north-east, known as Baby 700. It was from this hill that most of the Turkish counter-attacks had been launched; while numerous machine-guns in its strong defences swept the top of the ridge, on the south-west slopes of which lay the Australian trenches.
The Commander-in-Chief had at first intended that a general advance should be made by all the troops at Anzac on May 1st, the New Zealand and Australian Division having been reinforced by a brigade of Royal Marine Light Infantry (less one battalion). But as the Divisional Commanders considered that such an advance would weaken still more the weakest point in the line—the junction of the two Divisions near Pope's Hill—the Commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps obtained leave to abandon the idea of a general advance. His new plan of attack provided that the Australian Division should not move, but that the New Zealand and Australian Division should attack and capture Baby 700. Should this operation prove successful, his intention was that the Australian Division should, on a later date, cross the ridge in front of their trenches and establish a new line on the forward slope of the ridge.
Officers of 2nd Bn. Canterbury Regiment, N.Z. Division, May, 1917.
Back Row.—Lieut. D. Ferguson, 2nd Lieut. W. M. Hocking, Lieut. H. A. Woolf, Capt. A. W. Duncan, 2nd Lieut. C. A. S. Hind, Lieut. H. S. Gabites, 2nd Lieut. H. Henderson, 2nd Lieut. J. F. O'Leary.
2nd Row.—Capt. E. J. Fawcett, 2nd Lieut. J. M. C. McLeod, Lieut. J. P. Hanratty, Lieut. F. A. Anderson, Lieut. T. S. Gillies, Lieut. F. W. French, Lieut. H. E. McGowan, 2nd Lieut. A. E. Talbot, Lieut. C. R. Rawlings, Lieut. A. C. Wilson.
Sitting.—Lieut. M. R. Walker (Adj.), Capt. L. J. Ford, Capt. N. R. Wilson, Major G. C. Griffiths, Lieut.-Col. H. Stewart, Capt. K. F. Gordon, Capt. C. W. Free, Capt. M. J. Morrison, Capt. L. F. Jones.
Front Row.—2nd Lieut. J. V. Wilson, 2nd Lieut. W. P. Thompson, Hon. 2nd Lieut. M. Brunette.
(Photograph taken at Setques, prior to the Battle of Messines.)
At 7 p.m. the Turkish positions were heavily bombarded by the guns of the fleet and the guns on shore. This bombardment lasted for a quarter of an hour. At 7.15 p.m., the 16th Battalion, on the right of the 4th Australian Brigade, advanced under heavy enfilade machine-gun fire to the objectives assigned to it, and dug in there. On its left, the 13th Battalion also advanced; but as it had received orders to move in touch with the Otago Battalion, and the latter had not yet arrived, the left flank of the 13th Battalion was held back, while its right advanced.
|(a)||The fire of enemy snipers in the trenches at the head of Monash Gully delayed movement up the gully.|
|(b)||Stretcher parties coming down the track obstructed the troops moving up.|
|(c)||Reserve troops of the Naval Brigade blocked the road in Monash Gully.|
Whatever the reasons, the battalion did not reach Pope's Hill till an hour and a half late, on an occasion where punctuality was essential for success.
The Otago Battalion attacked Baby 700 at once; but it had lost the benefit not only of the artillery bombardment, but also of the co-operation of the 4th Australian Brigade. It was met by a withering fire from machine-guns and rifles in the trenches on Baby 700, and was held up one hundred yards from its objective. There the battalion lay down, opened fire, and began to dig in. Troops of the 4th Australian Brigade moved up and page 34 established touch with Otago's right flank; and one Australian company actually reached the Turkish trenches, but could not bold them, and had to return to the general line established by its Brigade. The firing line on the Divisional front at 11 p.m. had its right flank resting on Quinn's Post, and from there curved towards the enemy till it was three hundred yards forward of Pope's Hill. From this point the line curved back again towards our line, the left flank of the Otago Battalion being a hundred and fifty yards forward of Pope's Hill.
The Canterbury Battalion, though in support of Otago, had been ordered to assemble at 7.5 p.m. at the headquarters of the Wellington Battalion, on the south-west slopes of Walker's Ridge. The 1st Company, in the lead, was ordered to move up to the advanced trenches of the Wellington Battalion, and to hold itself in readiness to move up on the left of the Otago Battalion, when the latter had taken its objective. On Otago arriving and moving forward, the 1st Company also advanced, but found the slopes from Baby 700 to Walker's Ridge strongly held by the enemy.
The ground was at this time covered with heavy scrub (which was afterwards cut clean away by small-arms fire), and the only approach from Walker's Ridge against Baby 700 was a saddle called "The Nek," a razor-edge over which only one man could cross at a time. Captain Gresson, in command of the company, went back to make a personal report to the Brigadier and received direct orders to advance no further. The company was in an exposed position, and on the moon beginning to rise, Captain Gresson decided to withdraw to the Wellington trenches. The company reached the trenches without casualties.
In consequence of the reports received from the 1st Company. the Brigadier ordered the remainder of the battalion to stand by and await further instructions. It therefore remained behind Walker's Ridge till 3 a.m. on the 3rd, when it was ordered to dig communication trenches up to the Otago Battalion's new positions. Very few tools were available, but about 4 a.m. Captain Critchley-Salmonson reported to the Commanding Officer of the Otago Battalion with about fifty men, and was ordered to prolong the left of the line. The remainder of the working parties went astray: some of the 1st Company page 35 under Lieutenant H. Stewart, and a platoon of the 13th Company under Lieutenant Shepherd, eventually reached the Otago line; but a party of two hundred and fifty men under Lieutenant Stitt was held in Monash Gully by order of the Officer Commanding the 4th Australian Brigade, who forbade any more troops to come down the Gully, owing to the approach being enfiladed by machine-guns. This party apparently. also reached the firing line later: at all events Lieutenant Stitt and a number of men joined forces with Lieutenant Stewart's party.
Dawn was now approaching, and the enemy, who had brought up machine-guns during the night, opened a heavy enfilade fire with rifles and machine-guns upon the trenches of the Otago Battalion. Two companies of the Nelson Battalion (Royal Naval Division) had by this time reinforced Otago; but about 5 a.m. most of the garrison of the line had to withdraw to the trenches from which the attack was launched. Small parties of the Otago Battalion still held on in the advanced trenches, but they were compelled to retire during the day; although one party held out for two days, until it was ordered to cut its way out. The 13th Australian Battalion also held its trenches till nightfall on the 3rd, when it was withdrawn to the old line.
|Wounded and Missing||3|
That night orders were issued that the New Zealand and 2nd Australian Brigades were to embark the following night for Cape Helles, to take part in a big attack by the forces operating at the southern end of the Peninsula.
The general position at Cape Helles at the moment was that on April 28th the 29th Division, the 2nd Naval Brigade, and the 1st French Division had advanced from the positions established on the day of landing, and had reached a line approximately straight across the Peninsula, from nearly a mile north of Point Eski Hissarlik (on the Dardanelles coast) to a point on the Æegean coast half way between "Y" Beach and Gully Beach (the mouth of the Saghir Dere or Gully Ravine). This line was afterwards known as the Eski line.
On the night of May 1st the Turks had attacked this line, and a general Allied counter-attack on the morning of the 2nd had advanced the British lines about a quarter of a mile to the north. On account of the French having made no progress, the new line was rendered untenable by enfilade machine-gun fire; and our troops were forced to withdraw to the Eski line. The Turks. however, still remained in their prepared positions, about half a mile north of the Eski line.
Sir Ian Hamilton determined to make another attack at once, in order to seize as much as he could of "No-Man's-Land" between the opposing lines; for, in his opinion, "several hundred yards, whatever it might mean to the enemy, was a matter of life and death to a force crowded together under gun fire on so narrow a tongue of land."*
* Despatch of August 26th, 1915: Naval and Military Despatches, Part IIII., p. 338.
During daylight on the 5th, the New Zealand Brigade was relieved in the trenches at Anzac by two battalions of the 2nd Naval Brigade; and the Canterbury Battalion assembled in Mule Gully, south-west of Walker's Ridge. Lieutenant-Colonel C. H. J. Brown (who afterwards commanded the 1st New Zealand Infantry Brigade in France, and was killed in the Battle of Messines) took command of the battalion, being temporarily transferred from Divisional Headquarters for that purpose. The Canterbury Battalion was now the strongest in the Brigade, having twenty-six officers and seven hundred and seventy-eight other ranks, out of a brigade strength of eighty-eight officers and two thousand seven hundred and twenty-four other ranks.
The embarkation for Cape Helles was timed to begin at 8.30 p.m. on May 5th, but the destroyers which were to carry the New Zealand Brigade did not arrive in time, and the troops had a long wait on the beach. When the destroyers eventually arrived the troops were taken on board by lighters, and were very hospitably treated by the ships' companies. The voyage was uneventful, and the warships arrived at Cape Helles about 2 a.m. on the 6th.
The Canterbury Battalion landed in the dark on "V" Beach, west of the village of Sedd El Bahr, and after a pause there for reorganization, and the issue of picks and shovels, left the beach as day was breaking. Leaving the village on the right, the battalion marched two miles to its bivouac area at Stone Bridge (by which the Krithia-Sedd El Bahr road crossed the Krithia Nullah) to the left of and behind a line of ruined watertowers which ended at the Achi Baba Nullah.
The New Zealand and 2nd Australian Brigades, with two battalions of the 2nd Naval Brigade, had been formed into a composite division, under the command of Major-General A. Paris, C.B., the General Officer commanding the Royal Naval Division. The new division was held in reserve for the attack, which was timed for 11 a.m. on May 6th.page 38
After arrival at the bivouac area, the New Zealand troops dug shrapnel-proof trenches, and rested there the following night and until the afternoon of the 7th. They found themselves in country very different from the jungle-covered mountains of Anzac. The southern end of the Peninsula consisted of a plateau, with cliffs at the water's edge, except at "W" and "V" beaches. As one went inland from the top of the cliffs, the land sloped downwards slightly, so as to form a spoon-shaped depression. To the north of the depression, the land sloped up to the peak of Achi Baba, with the village of Krithia on its lower slopes. Almost exactly down the centre of the depression ran the Achi Baba Nullah (or gully), with the Krithia-Sedd El Bahr Road close to the west of it. Running parallel to, and about half a mile to the west of Achi Baba Nullah was a larger gully, the Krithia Nullah. West again, and about a quarter of a mile east of the Ægean coast, lay the Saghir Dere, a wide and deep nullah better known as the Gully Ravine. Mid-way between "X" and "Y" beaches, this nullah turned towards the sea, and breaking the cliffs, came out at a small beach known as Gully Beach.
Much of the land on the plateau had been cultivated, and was dotted with small clumps of trees. Water was abundant—so much so that it interfered at times with the digging of the trenches—but men fresh from the waterless heights of Anzac could appreciate the benefits of an unlimited water supply.
The attack on the Turkish trenches had begun on the morning of the 6th. The Allied forces were disposed with the 1st French Division on the right, and the 29th Division on the left, with the Plymouth and Drake Battalions of the Royal Naval Division astride Krithia Road between them to keep touch. On that morning the 29th Division, which the New Zealand Brigade was called upon to support on the 8th, attacked with the 29th (Indian) and 88th Brigades on its right, between the Krithia Nullah and the Gully Ravine (exclusive), and the 89th and Lancashire Fusilier Brigades on its left, from the west bank of the Gully Ravine to the sea.
The preliminary and covering bombardments by the guns of the fleet had little effect on the deep and narrow enemy trenches, and the advance was made under heavy and accurate page 39 machine-gun and rifle fire as well as shrapnel and high explosive shells. The attacking troops had to fight for every yard of ground against an invisible enemy, and over country which gave little protection from fire of any kind. The 88th Brigade and the Indians were held up by strong resistance from a wood of fir trees, on the left of the western branch of the Krithia Nullah, and about three hundred yards north of the Eski Line. On their left the advance of the rest of the Division was checked by machine-guns posted on the bluff above "Y" Beach (afterwards called Ghurka Bluff), and by snipers and machine-guns in the Gully Ravine.
By 4.30 in the afternoon it was plain that the troops engaged could go no further, and they were ordered to dig in. The result of the day's fighting was an average advance of two to three hundred yards beyond the starting point—the Eski Line—and the Turkish positions had not yet been reached.
The attack was resumed at 10 a.m. on the 7th, but little progress was made. On the right, the 88th Brigade continued the advance, and the 5th Royal Scots reached the Fir Wood, but were forced to withdraw early in the afternoon, as it had been rendered untenable by enfilade machine-gun and rifle fire. On the other side of the Gully Ravine, the machine-guns on the Ghurka Bluff prevented the Lancashire Fusiliers from making any progress.
Sir Ian Hamilton thereupon decided to make a general attack at 4.15 p.m. and ordered the whole of the 87th Brigade to reinforce the 88th Brigade, and the New Zealand Brigade to support the two. After a short and violent bombardment, the whole line, French and British, rose together and rushed forward. The Fir Wood was again captured, and all along the line, except on the east of the Gully Ravine, another two to three hundred yards was gained, and the first line of Turkish trenches was taken. The line was consolidated for the night, and orders were issued for the resumption of the attack the next day.
In the meantime, the New Zealand Brigade, to carry out its role of brigade in support, had left the Stone Bridge at 2.45 p.m. on May 7th and had moved towards the mouth of the Gully Ravine. The brigade dug in on the slope to the south of the page 40 Ravine, but at 8.20 p.m. the Auckland and Wellington Battalions moved forward to support the 87th and 88th Brigades. The remaining battalions passed the night in the trenches they had dug during the afternoon.
Orders were now received that the New Zealand Brigade was to attack Krithia and the trenches covering it, on the morning of the 8th. The front to be covered extended from the Krithia Nullah on the right to the Gully Ravine on the left; and the brigade was ordered to pass through, at 10.30 a.m., the front line established by the 88th Brigade on the afternoon of the 7th. The Canterbury, Auckland, and Wellington Battalions were ordered to make the attack, the Otago Battalion being held in reserve.
The front covered by the Canterbury Battalion was bounded on the right by the Krithia Nullah, and on the left by the eastern edge of the Fir Wood, which had caused so much trouble the previous day. On its left was the Auckland Battalion, with the Wellington Battalion extending to the Gully Ravine on the left Bank.
The Canterbury Battalion advanced to the attack in two lines with the 12th Company (right) and 2nd Company (left) in the front line, and the 1st Company (right) and 13th Company (left) in reserve. The battalion deployed behind the front line trenches held by the 4th Worcester Battalion, and advanced over the open under heavy fire. On the right, towards the Krithia Nullah, and in advance of the Worcester's trenches, were entrenched the remnants of the 1st Battalions of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Royal Munster Fusiliers, which had suffered such heavy casualties in the early days of the campaign that they had been amalgamated into one battalion known as the "Dubsters."
The firing line met with strong resistance and made slow progress, and the majority of the troops did not get beyond the "Dubsters" trench. But two platoons of the 12th Company, in the face of murderous fire from machine-guns and rifles, pushed forward over the open space afterwards known as the "Daisy Patch." The survivors of these platoons reached a point about two hundred yards beyond the "Dubsters" page 41 trench, and there lay down in a small depression, unable either to move forward or to return. This was the position of the firing line at 2 p.m.
During this time the reserve companies had moved up just behind the Worcester's trenches, where they dug in and prepared to bivouac for the night. At 4.30 p.m., however, orders had been issued for a general advance at 5.30 p.m. along the whole line; the 2nd Australian Brigade being ordered to advance on the east of the Krithia Nullah. The attack was preceded by a preliminary bombardment for a quarter of an hour by the guns of the warship and the "heavies" ashore; and was also supported by the field guns shelling the ground in front of the advancing infantry. But guns were few and ammunition scarce, so that the field artillery support was practically negligible.
The 13th Company and the two remaining platoons of the 12th Company advanced with great dash over the open, under heavy rifle and machine-gun fire, for a distance of three hundred yards. This was rendered possible by the good support given by the fire of our own machine-gunners and those of the "Dubsters"; but in spite of this support the firing line could advance no further, as casualties had been very heavy. Moreover, the Auckland Battalion, in the centre, had been badly cut up, and was well behind except for a few men who were a long way forward and unsupported; and although the Wellington Battalion on the left flank of the brigade had advanced level with Canterbury, the Fir Wood in the centre threatened the inner flanks of both the right and left battalions.
The right flank company of the Canterbury Battalion had used the Krthia Nullah for cover, and was facing almost due west, at right angles to its proper direction of advance. After darkness fell, the troops in the Nullah set to work to join up with the left flank company, and by daylight there was a continuous line of trench from the Nullah to the eastern edge of the Fir Wood.
The first warning to the reserve companies of the impending attack came to them after five o'clock, when they were ordered to rush by platoons to the "Dubsters" trenches. The machine-gun fire which covered the advance of the leading companies also served to help the forward rush of the reserves; but the latter page 42 also came in for the enemy small-arms fire, directed against our firing line, and suffered some casualties.
After reaching the "Dubsters" trenches the reserve companies were witnesses of what has been described as one of the most spectacular advances in the war—the attack of the 2nd Australian Brigade to the west of the Krithia Nullah. But after resting ten minutes in the trenches, the 1st Company was ordered to reinforce the firing line; and the 2nd Company was shortly afterwards sent to defend the left flank, which the failure of the advance of the Auckland Battalion had left "in the air." On the right the Canterbury Battalion was in touch with the Australians, but could not find the Auckland line.
The whole night was spent in consolidating the positions gained, and though the main body of the enemy to the immediate front was estimated to have retired six hundred yards, a certain amount of rifle and machine-gun fire was exchanged during the night. The collection of the wounded was extremely difficult, and many spent the night where they had fallen. The night was wet, and as most of the packs had been shed by the men before the advance, there were no overcoats in the trenches.
† Subsequently died of wounds, Lieutenant F. D. Maurice, Acting 2nd Lieutenant Burnard: the latter had been recommended for a commission, but died before he was actually gazetted.
The battalion remained in the trenches without being attacked till the night of May 11th/12th, when the brigade was relieved by the 127th (Manchester) Brigade of the 42nd Division. The relief was a slow one: as each company was relieved it moved back to the former bivouac area at the Stone Bridge. The night was very wet and dark; nobody had any clear idea of the direction of the Stone Bridge, and the information given to the companies was extremely vague. The experience of most of the parties appears to have been, that exhausted by the ardours of the previous three days, and loaded with packs and wet overcoats, they trudged on till they were "dead beat," and then lay down in their tracks and slept till daylight. By noon on the 12th the battalion was assembled at its old bivouacs.
The New Zealand Brigade was now in reserve, and was not called upon to do any more fighting in the southern part of the Peninsula. The first three days were spent in rest, sea-bathing, reorganisation and refitting; but from May 15th onwards the brigade was employed on road-making and other work about "W" Beach. The strength of the Canterbury Battalion on coming out of the line is stated in the war diary as thirty-two officers and eight hundred and twenty other ranks; but these figures cannot be reconciled with the strength on embarkation at Anzac on May 5th, and the casualties in the Krithia fighting.
Meanwhile the position at Anzac was critical, for on the afternoon of May 19th, the Turks launched a general and violent attack on our positions there. The battle raged from 3.30 a.m. till nearly 11 a.m. when the last assault was beaten off. Everywhere the line stood firm, and the defenders' casualties were only one hundred killed and five hundred wounded. The Turks' losses were far greater: over three thousand bodies lay in heaps in the narrow strip of neutral ground. between the opposing trenches.page 44
In consequence of this attack, the New Zealand Infantry Brigade* was hurriedly recalled to Anzac on the evening of the 19th, and had embarked before midnight. By daylight the transports were off Anzac, and disembarkation began at 9.30 a.m. and was complete by noon. As the troops went ashore in pinnaces, they came under fire from enemy snipers; and between leaving the ship and arriving at its bivouac in Reserve Gully (north side of Plugge's Plateau), the Canterbury Battalion had two men wounded. The battalion remained in Reserve Gully till the evening, but at 8 p.m. received orders to bivouac at the seaward end of Walker's Ridge. Large numbers of Turks had been reported to be massing at Biyuk Anafarta, east of Suvla Bay, and in anticipation of another attack the battalion stood to arms at 3 a.m. on the 21st; but everything was quiet, and the troops returned to their bivouacs at 5.30 a.m.
The New Zealand Brigade remained in Reserve Gully, in general reserve to the New Zealand and Australian Division, till May 29th. During this period, an armistice was arranged, by request of the Turks, for the purpose of burying the dead lying in No-Man's-Land. The duration of the armistice was from 7.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on May 24th, and during that period the neutral ground was divided into two portions, the central line being marked by delimitation parties from each of the opposing forces. In addition, each side provided parties which collected the dead of the opposite side, and carried the bodies to the central line; and each side then buried its own dead. The Canterbury Battalion provided a bearer party of five officers and a hundred other ranks, and a delimitation party of one officer and thirteen other ranks. Several bodies of those killed on April 25th were recognized by these parties. Everybody was greatly impressed by the clearance of the dense scrub about the Nek, which had been completely shot away by machine-gun and rifle fire.
* The New Zealand Mounted Rifle Brigade (without its horses) had arrived at Anzac on May 12th, while the Infantry Brigade was at Cape Helles.
The post took its name from an Australian officer—Major Quinn—who had established it on the day of the landing, and who was killed there the day the 1st Company joined its garrison. The position was considered the most critical and exciting point in the Anzac line, being closer to the Turkish trenches than any other part of the line. On its right, and immediately adjoining it, was Courtney's Post; while in the rear and to the left, a hundred yards away, lay the post known as Pope's Hill. Directly to the left was Dead Man's Ridge, the scene of the New Zealand and Australian Division's unsuccessful attack of May 2nd.
At the extreme right and left flanks of the post, the enemy trenches were thirty to forty yards away; but in the centre of the position the opposing trenches approached each other, and at numbers 3 and 4 posts were only seven yards apart. The use of hand-grenades, which had first been tried by the Turks on May 2nd, had by now become a common practice on both sides, though the bombs were nearly all "home-made," and lighted by a match or cigarette. By reason of the nearness of the two lines, Quinn's was naturally a favourable spot for bombing; and when the 1st Company arrived there the engineers were busy with the erection of bomb-proof shelters.
Both sides were also constantly engaged in mining and counter-mining; and it was on account of part of No. 4 post having been blown in the previous night, and occupied for a while by the enemy, that the 1st Company had been sent there. There had been several Turkish attacks on Quinn's during the early part of the morning; and though these had ceased by 9 a.m., the enemy kept up a continual heavy fire, which interfered very much with the work of restoring the position. The fire trench at No. 4 post could not be occupied, owing to the ease with which the Turks could throw bombs into the crater made by the explosion of the mine. The trench had therefore to be held by sentries in sap-heads, with overcoats lying handy to smother any bombs which might drop near them.page 46
The following day (May 30th) the 13th Company was also sent to Quinn's Post, where it relieved another company of the 15th Battalion. At 1 p.m. two small parties of volunteers from the 1st Company and Australian Light Horse attacked two enemy sap-heads, which had been pushed forward close to Quinn's. The attack seems to have been hastily arranged and badly organized, with the result that when the parties occupied the Turkish trenches they did not put them in defensive condition. Enfilade fire from enemy machine-guns forced the parties to return, and some wounded were left in a mine crater in No-Man's-Land. It. was then decided to dig a tunnel out to the crater, so that the wounded might be brought in, and the crater occupied.
The work proceeded slowly; and at 10 p.m. Lieutenant Le Mottee and six other volunteers from the 13th Company made a dash to the crater and began to dig back towards our lines. The parties met at 11.30 p.m., and by midnight the wounded and dead had been brought back to Quinn's. The party in the crater then began to make the crater bomb-proof; but while they were doing so a Turkish bomb killed two of them and wounded three others, including Lieutenant Le Mottee. It was decided that the crater was untenable, and it was therefore abandoned.
May 30th was an anxious day altogether, as there were heavy enemy attacks on the left section of Anzac and a general attack was expected during the afternoon. However, the night passed quietly.
The remaining companies of the battalion moved to Monash Gully on the 30th, and occupied bivouacs to the west of Quinn's Post. The following day the 1st and 13th Companies were relieved in the trenches by the 2nd and 12th Companies, and the latter became the local reserve for the post. The casualties for the month, since the return from Cape Helles, had been four other ranks killed and one officer and twenty-six other ranks wounded, leaving an effective strength of thirty officers and seven hundred and sixty-five other ranks, according to the battalion diary.
On June 1st the New Zealand Brigade took over Qninn's and Courtney's Posts, but the two battalions in the post came under the command of Colonel Chauvel of the 1st Australian page 47 Light Horse Brigade. Arrangements for the garrisoning of the posts were made on the 3rd, under which Courtney's was held by the Wellington Battalion, with half its strength in the line for forty-eight hours at a time, and the remainder in local reserve; and the front line at Quinn's was held for twenty-four hours alternately by the Canterbury Battalion (less half a company) and by the Auckland Battalion, strengthened by the loan of half a company of the Canterbury Battalion. The local reserve at Quinn's consisted of whichever of these two battalions was out of the front trenches. The Otago Battalion was held in brigade reserve. As far as periods of relief were concerned, these arrangements were not strictly carried out.
No events of importance took place, till the 4th, when there was a joint sortie by parties from the Auckland and Canterbury Battalions against the Turkish trenches opposite Quinn's Post. This operation was one of several minor operations on that day at Anzac, all designed as demonstrations to assist a big attack at Cape Helles, which was delivered the same day. The assaulting party on the right was composed of volunteers from the Canterbury Battalion, and consisted of two smaller parties each of fifteen men commanded by a non-commissioned officer, which together were led by Lieutenant H. Stewart. All these troops were from the 1st Company. On their left were two assaulting parties of one non-commissioned officer and fourteen men and one non-commissioned officer and ten men of the Auckland Battalion, under Lieutenant Vear.
The scheme was a simple one—to capture the enemy's front line trenches opposite Nos. 3 and 4 Posts, erect loop-holed traverses at each end of the captured portion, and transpose the parapet of the trench so that it could be used as our front line. The traverses were to be built by two working parties, each of ten unarmed men, the right party to be supplied by the Canterbury Battalion, and the left party by the Auckland Battalion. To assist these working parties, by passing out of the trenches filled sandbags, tools, and material, each battalion was to supply a further party of ten unarmed men. Finally, the Canterbury Battalion was ordered to provide two parties of three men each, to dig on each flank a communication trench from our front line to the captured trench. The whole operation was under the command of Lieutenant Stewart, and the page 48 Canterbury working parties were selected from volunteers from the 12th Company.
The 1st Australian Brigade had been ordered to help the sortie at Quinn's Post, by making a raid on an enemy machine-gun near German Officer's Trench, which enfiladed the ground in front of Quinn's Post. This raid was timed for 10.55 p.m.—five minutes before the sortie by Lieutenant Stewart's party—and was to be assisted by rifle fire from Courtney's Post.
The attacking party left the trenches at Quinn's Post at 11 p.m., and immediately came under heavy fire, which had been opened by the Turks in answer to the firing from Courtney's Post five minutes earlier. So well was the enemy's front trench provided with overhead cover, that the assaulting party on the right, under Sergeant W. J. Rodger, missed it altogether, and ran over it on to the support trench in its rear. There they surprised a party of about ten of the enemy, most of whom they killed. The other Canterbury party, with which was Lieutenant Stewart, found the firing trench without difficulty, and bayonetted about a dozen Turks.
Lieutenant Stewart then found that he was in touch with neither Sergeant Rodger nor the Auckland party; but on going to look for them, he found the sergeant and his party in the Turkish support trench, together with the first working party, which had already begun to dig a traverse in the same trench.
Some of the enemy in the firing line, who had been overrun by Sergeant Rodger's party, now came into the open between the two trenches, and were shot; the remainder opened fire on our men at the support trench, and on the second working party, which had begun to carry material to the support trench. Lieutenant Stewart thereupon returned to the firing trench (where his party was now in touch with the Auckland parties), and led an attack on the Turks who were firing on Sergeant Rodger's party. These surrendered at once, and twenty-eight prisoners were sent back to our lines.
A tunnel between the Turkish firing line and support trenches had now been discovered; and Lieutenant Stewart decided to hold both trenches, since the support trench commanded a large part of the valley to the north-east of it. Blocks were built on both flanks of the firing and support page break page 49 trenches; and attempts by the enemy to enter the support trench by the communication trenches leading to it, or to work along the firing trench from the right, were repulsed.
During the whole of the operations there had been enemy machine-gun fire from Dead Man's Ridge, on the left; and also from the direction of German Officer's Trench, on the right, where the Australians' raid had failed. This fire had been harmless to the men in the trenches, but had interfered considerably with the working and carrying parties. But by dawn communication trenches had been cut through to Quinn's Post, reinforcements had arrived, and the new positions seemed firmly established.
About seventy or eighty yards of the enemy's support trench, and about a hundred yards of his firing line were now in our hands. Shortly afterwards, however, the Turks made an attack on the support trench, relying chiefly on bombs. The Auckland parties (which had meanwhile been reinforced also) were unable to defend themselves, owing to a shortage of bombs, and were forced to retire. Their withdrawal compelled the Canterbury parties to retire also, to avoid being cut off; though the new communication trenches across No-Man's-Land were still held by us.
Among the wounded were Lieutenant-Colonel Brown and Lieutenant Stewart, both of whom were hit by splinters from bombs.* On the battalion again coming into local reserve to Quinn's Post, on the 7th, Lieutenant-Colonel J. G. Hughes, D.S.O. took over the command. The same night, another sortie from Quinn's Post was attempted by the Auckland Battalion, with the object of destroying the portion of the enemy's firing trench which our troops had occupied on the night of June 4th/5tb. One party from the Auckland Battalion reached the Turkish trenches on the left; but everywhere else the attackers were unable to face the enemy's fire. A party of a noncommissioned officer and twenty men from the 1st Company, which had been sent up to act as supports if required, was then sent forward, but could do no better. The attempt was abandoned; and the Canterbury party was sent back to the gully, having lost three wounded and one missing.
The battalion remained in local reserve till June 9th, when a relief by the Wellington Battalion was begun. The relief Was completed by 10 a.m. on the 10th, and as the Canterbury companies were relieved they moved to new bivouacs in Canterbury Gully† north of Shrapnel Valley and east of Plugge's Plateau. The 4th Reinforeements, which included a draft of five officers and two hundred and fourteen other ranks for the battalion, had arrived on June 8th, and the newcomers brought the companies up to full strength again.‡ The weather continued fine, and there were no enemy attacks and little shell fire; so the period spent in reserve was comparatively peaceful, and enabled the troops to rest after their hard fighting and digging at Quinn's Post.
* Lieutenant-Colonel Brown was evacuated, and did not return again to the Canterbury Regiment.
‡ The strength of the battalion on June 18th was thirty officers and eight hundred and ninety-four other ranks.
The post was found to have been greatly improved by the Wellington garrison, which had taken advantage of a quiet week to build bomb-proof shelters, loopholes, and firing embrasures. The Wellington snipers had also established superiority over those of the enemy, and it was now possible to use a periscope without the certainty of its being smashed by a bullet. The Canterbury Battalion carried on the work of improving the trenches, with little interference by the enemy. Supplies of bombs by this time had become plentiful; our men were becoming more expert in their use, and were beginning to hold their own in this respect against the Turks. For the time being, the opposing forces at Anzac had settled down to trench warfare conditions.
No offensive operations by either side occurred while the battalion was in Quinn's Post; and on June 25th the companies in the firing trenches and battalion headquarters were relieved by the Wellington Battalion. The 1st and 2nd Companies remained in local reserve to the post; but were relieved the following day, and rejoined the rest of the battalion at Canterbury Gully. There the battalion was engaged in making a road from that gully to Reserve Gully, north of Plugge's Plateau, and also accommodation terraces in Canterbury Gully—both for the use of fresh troops who were expected to arrive. The battalion stood to arms at 5 a.m. on the 27th, in consequence of heavy bombing and artillery fire against Walker's Ridge, but no enemy attack followed.
On the night of June 29th/30th, however, a determined attack was made against the same portion of our line. A prisoner who was taken during this attack stated that Enver Pasha had addressed the assaulting troops on the previous day, and had ordered them to drive the British troops at Anzac into page 52 the sea. Certainly the attack was delivered with great determination, and pressed with obstinate perseverance: nevertheless, the 8th and 9th Regiments of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, and the 6th Squadron of the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment, who were holding the Ridge, beat off all attacks.
The month of July was spent chiefly under trench warfare conditions, the Canterbury Battalion being the garrison of Quinn's Post from the 4th to the 12th, and from the 20th to the 28th. The skill of our bombers had greatly increased, and they had now obtained the same superiority over the Turkish bombers as our snipers enjoyed with the rifle. On. the 7th and 11th they succeeded in setting fire to the overhead cover of the Turkish trenches opposite No. 4 Post, and were specially congratulated in the "Anzac Intelligence Bulletin."
The remainder of the month was spent in general reserve at Canterbury Gully, with the exception of a short period at Imbros for rest and training—the battalion embarking at Anzac about 4 a.m. on the 15th and leaving Imbros on the evening of the 19th. Most of the time at Imbros was spent in rest and recreation, though on the 17th the battalion practised a night march and attack over rough and hilly ground. This had been specially ordered by the Divisional Commander, in view of the projected operations in August. An attack in force by the Turks was expected on the 23rd, but the day passed without incident. The casualties for the month were very light, being six other ranks killed and two officers and forty-four other ranks wounded, and leaving a strength of twenty-seven officers and eight hundred and twenty-three other ranks.