The New Zealanders at Gallipoli
[Lent by Sergt. P. Tite, N.Z.E.
The Tangled Slopes of Mule Gully.
The Anzac position was now reorganized in four defence sections numbered from right to left. General Bridges, with the 1st Australian Division, held Sections 1 and 2—that is, from Chatham's Post on the sea up to, but not including, Courtney's Post. General Godley, with the N.Z. and A. Division, was responsible for the rest of the line. No. 3 Defence Section contained the three famous posts at the head of Monash Gully—Courtney's, Quinn's, and Pope's. Russell's Top, Walker's Ridge, No. 1 and No. 2 Posts made up No. 4 Section. General Birdwood, the Army Corps General, was at his headquarters in Anzac Cove, and each Divisional General was in charge of half the defensive line.
Section (Colonel Sinclair-Maclagan)—3rd Australian Infantry Brigade.
Section (Brigadier-General Walker)—1st Australian Infantry Brigade.
Section (Brigadier-General Trotman, R.M.L.I.)—4th Australian Infantry Brigade; Royal Marine Brigade (Chatham and Portsmouth Battalions); 3 sections No. 1 Field Company, N.Z.E
Section (Brigadier-General Mercer, R.M.L.I.)—Royal Naval Brigade (Nelson and Deal Battalions); 1 section No. 1 Field Company, N.Z.E.
We, as a nation, are prone to underrate our efforts and laud those of our adversaries. Before and during the war it was loudly asserted that the German Secret Service and German diplomacy always outwitted the British. To-day the world knows the truth of the matter. Likewise, it was contended that the Turkish Intelligence Department was superior to ours. “Look how they always know what we are about to do,” said the critics. Truly, anything planned in Egypt was bound to leak out if it had to be printed or circulated, as Egypt was always a cosmopolitan place, where it was unsafe to trust a stranger. But if the Turks knew so much, why did they not attack Walker's Ridge that anxious week in May? Any attack must have succeeded, and the thin line of single trenches once broken, Anzac must have crumpled.page 134
The enemy did nothing serious, and on May 12 the joy at Anzac was unbounded. The Mounteds had arrived! Every face on the beach was wreathed in smiles. Here they all were—without their horses, but keen, and spoiling for a fight—the Australian Light Horse; the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade, consisting of the Auckland, Wellington, and Canterbury Regiments; the field troop to reinforce the overworked 1st Field Company in its sapping and mining; the signal troop, to help with the telephone and buzzers; and the mounted field ambulance, to assist their overworked confrercs with the wounded.
The Beach sweeping towards Nibrunesi Point.
The same day, Colonel Chauvel, with the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade, took over No. 3 Defence Section from Brigadier-General Trotman, who embarked with the Chatham and Portsmouth Battalions that night for Cape Helles.page 135
Brigadier-General Russell relieved Brigadier-General Mercer on Walker's Ridge. The New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade took over the line from the Nelson and Deal Battalions, who also left Anzac to rejoin the Royal Naval Division at Cape Helles.
The highest part of Walker's Ridge became known as Russell's Top, because, close at hand, practically in the firing line, the commander of the N.Z. Mounted Rifles Brigade established his headquarters. Hereabouts No Man's Land was very narrow. Away to the right ran the deep gully, which, passing behind the back of Pope's Hill, became Monash Gully. So far, Pope's and Russell's Top were unconnected, the Turks holding the head of this gully, which made their sniping of Monash Gully so effective. It was from here, on May 15, that a Turkish sniper mortally wounded General Bridges, as he was proceeding up Shrapnel Gully. At that time no place in the Anzac area could be considered safe.
To the left was another gully running down and losing itself in the ramifications of the outlying spurs of Walker's Ridge. The little flat watershed separating these two gullies ran like an isthmus across No Man's Land, and connected Russell's Top with that part of the main Turkish position known as “Baby 700” and “The Chessboard.” This con- page 136 necting link was known as “The Nek.” Only a few yards behind our main fire trench were precipitous cliffs, which, running round to the right, culminated in a remarkable knife-edged cliff eventually known as the “Sphinx”; while to the extreme left flank these cliffs, scored with the torrential winter rains, eventually resolved themselves into broken under-features of Walker's Ridge, sprawling out and forming one side of the Sazli Beit Dere. Near the bottom of this dry watercourse was the little Fishermen's Hut, so often used as a landmark. Just south of these huts was No. 1 Post, and a few hundred yards past the valley and on the coast was the little knoll eventually to become famous as No. 2 Post.
This No. 2 Post was the northern extremity of our line. Measured on the map, it was a distance of 3600 yards—just two miles—from Chatham's Post on the extreme right. As Quinn's Post was about 1000 yards from the sea, a rough calculation will show that the area of Anzac was approximately 750 acres. Seven hundred and fifty acres of prickly scrub and yellow clay, stony water-courses, sandy cliffs and rocky hill tops, land that would not support one family in comfort, yet for eight long months, men of divers races lived a Spartan life there, studding the hillsides so thickly with their rude dugouts that a Turkish shell seldom failed to find a victim.
No time was lost after taking over this No. 4 Sector. The engineers had made a track for guns and mules up to Russell's Top. This road was regraded and improved in parts; trenches were deepened and made more habitable: page 137 saps were pushed out wherever the field of fire required improvement. The line from “the Top” to No. 2 Outpost was very broken, with many rough gullies intervening; secret saps were dug, and machine guns placed to cover this “dead” ground, up and down which the scouts of both sides roamed as soon as it was dark.
Later in the month the Otago Mounted Rifles were stationed down at No. 2 Post. Between the post and the sea was a delightful little strip of level ground, ablaze with poppies and other wild flowers, but under the eye, and within the range of the enemy. Near this outpost was discovered an old Turkish well. Elsewhere men searched for water, and sometimes found it, but when pumps were applied the flow page 138 ceased after a day or so. This, on the contrary, was a most reliable well, a godsend to the thirsty men and mules, and a most welcome addition to the scanty supply procured from the barges. Soldiers came from far and near to draw the precious water.
Owing to its visibility to the snipers on the Turkish right flank, the beach between Ari Burnu and Fishermen's Hut could not be used during the day. Almost under the shadow of the Sphinx a group of boats and barges lay stranded on the beach. Late one night a party of mounteds went down and buried the remains of forty Australian infantrymen who had been killed at the April landing.