The History of the Canterbury Regiment, N.Z.E.F. 1914 - 1919
The Second Assault on Sari Bair (August 8th)
The Second Assault on Sari Bair (August 8th).
On account of the exhaustion of the troops who had taken part in the first assault upon the Sari Bair Ridge, and the casualties they had sustained, General Godley obtained permission to break off the action till the following morning. In preparation for the new attack, he organised his forces into two columns—one to advance on the right, and the other in the centre and on the left. The new columns and their objectives were:—
Right Column, under Brigadier-General F. E. Johnston.
Objective: the summit of the Sari Bair Ridge from a point about four hundred yards to the south-west of Chunuk Bair to a point about three hundred yards to the north-east of that peak.
Centre and Left Column, under Brigadier-General H. V. Cox.
Objective: from the left flank of the right column to Koja Chemen Tepe (inclusive). This column was to attack at two points. The 4th Australian Brigade was to advance up the lower slopes of the Abd El Rahman Bair (a spur running down in a northerly direction from Koja Chemen Tepe) and then to wheel to its right and advance up the spur to Koja Chemen Tepe. The other two infantry brigades were to advance directly against the main ridge between Koja Chemen Tepe and Chunuk Bair.
The attack, which was preceded by what was at that time considered a heavy artillery bombardment, began at 4.15 a.m. on August 8th. General Johnston's right column was headed by the Wellington Infantry Battalion (on the right) and the 7th Gloucestershire Battalion; with the 8th Welsh Pioneers in the second line, and the Auckland Mounted Rifles (on the right) and the Maori Contingent in the third line. Half the Canterbury Battalion (represented again by four officers and fifty men) was ordered to support the attack, and moved to the Apex; but it was not called upon to advance, and rejoined the rest of the battalion on Rhododendron Spur during the day.
The Wellington Battalion, advancing with great dash, gained the south-western slopes of the main knoll of Chunuk Bair, on page 64 the summit of Sari Bair Ridge. On its left, however, the Gloucester Battalion came under heavy enfilade fire, lost its direction, and edged off to the right. It eventually dug itself in, in shallow trenches, in the rear of the Wellington Battalion; though about two companies later reached the Wellington's firing line. This was at first in a Turkish trench; but bombing attacks drove out our garrison, which had to dig in new trenches west of the Turkish trench, that is, slightly behind the Turkish trench. Here it hung on all day, in spite of serious enfilade rifle and machine-gun fire, bombs and shell-fire. Late in the afternoon, it was reinforced on the right by two squadrons of the Auckland Mounted Rifles. Just after their arrival, the Commanding Officer of the Wellington Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel W. G. Malone, who had been the leading spirit in the attack, was killed.
Meanwhile, the Wellington Mounted Rifles Regiment had come up to reinforce General Johnston's column; and, together with the Otago Battalion, was ordered to reinforce the firing line at dusk. By this time the strength of the Wellington Battalion was reduced to three officers and under sixty men, while the Gloucesters had lost all their officers. On the arrival of the reinforcemeats, the remnants of the Wellington and Gloucester Battalions withdrew, having erroneously assumed that they were relieved. instead of merely being reinforced.
The attacks of the other column had not resulted in the gain of much ground. The central attack had made no progress across the open ground in front of the Farm; but further to the left the leading troops had crept further up towards the saddle on the left of Chunuk Bair. The attack of the Australians further again to the left had been held up by machine-guns, and the brigade had been strongly counter-attacked and virtually surrounded by superior numbers. After losing over a thousand men, the Australians had to retire to their trenches on the south-west of the Asma Dere, which they reached before 9 a.m. For the rest of the day they were heavily engaged in a defensive struggle. Once again the expected support from Suvla Bay had been found wanting; but the footing gained on Chunuk Bair encouraged General Godley to issue orders for a third attack on the ridge to be made the following morning, and to call a halt for the day.page break
Officers of III Bn. Canterbury Regiment at Codford, 8th May, 1917.
Back Row.—Lieut. W. Johnston, 2nd Lieut. A. O. Ponder, Capt. H. W. Kennedy, 2nd Lieut. J. Maloney, 2nd Lieut. McKee, Lieut. J. G. C. Wales, 2nd Lieut. F. Richardson.
2nd Row.—Lieut. A. G. Bryan, Lieut. G. M. Lucas, 2nd Lieut. F. G. Painter, Capt. J. MacMorran, 2nd Lieut. C. Quartley, 2nd Lieut. T. Glass, 2nd Lieut. A. Deans, 2nd Lieut. M. O'Connor.
3rd Row.—Rev. G. S. Bryan-Brown (C.F), Capt. J. F. Tonkin, Major O. H. Mead, Major W. L. Robinson, Lieut.-Col. R. A. Row, Lieut H. M. Foster, Major D. A. Dron, Capt. A. F. R. Rohloff, Capt. R. D. Barron (M.O.).
Front Row.—2nd Lieut. A. S. Tonkin, 2nd Lieut. F. Foord, 2nd Lieut. M. Scott, Lieut. J. W. Langridge