Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Mounted Rifles repulse a determined Attack

The Mounted Rifles repulse a determined Attack.

About the middle of May, the Turks decided that one determined effort would drive the men of Anzac into the sea. These people perched on the hillside annoyed him enormously. Never did he make an attack in the southern zone but these Colonials threatened to advance towards Maidos. News was gleaned of the withdrawal of troops from Helles and the arrival of reinforcements from Constantinople.

On May 17, the “Lord Nelson” delighted all beholders by turning her big guns on to the village of Kuchuk Anafarta. All along the coast line the ships joined in, until every village behind the line, and every road running towards Helles and Anzac, was swathed in dust and flame. The Turk retaliated with guns ranging from 11in. down to .77. Their shooting was good—one Australian 18-pr. was put out of action by a direct hit. The enemy reinforcements were delayed, but with the darkness, on they came again.

Next day was fairly quiet, but the sentries were warned to prepare for an attack, and during the night the reliefs slumbered behind the line with their clothes on, their rifles loaded, and their bayonets fixed. Sure enough, just after midnight, firing commenced from Chatham's Post along to No. 2 Post. Thousands of cricket-ball hand-grenades were hurled into Quinn's and other critical places. The big guns on both sides renewed their efforts. The bursts of shells in page 139
Black and white photograph of a page of the "Peninsula Press".

“The Peninsula Press.”
Printed by the R.E. Printing Section at Imbros.

page 140 mid-air momentarily lit up the scene, intensifying the blackness of the night. But this was only the enemy's preliminary bombardment, for about 3 a.m., the watchful sentries detected forms moving cautiously in No Man's Land. Soon the attack was made in earnest at the junction of No. 2 and No. 3 Defence Sections. Then it burst in its fury on Quinn's and Russell's Top.

The machine guns sprayed the front with a shower of lead, and for an interval the attack seemed held up, but in the grey dawn the mass advanced again. Crying on their God—“Allah! Allah! Allah!”—they surged forward in tremendous strength. From their trenches opposite Russell's Top and Turk's Point on Walker's Ridge they sallied forth in thousands. This was the first real test of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles. The Turks flung themselves against the trenches held by the Auckland Mounted Regiment; but with rifle and machine-gun fire the troopers beat them off, hardly a Turk reaching the trench.

This was a field day for the machine guns posted in No. 4 Section. Carefully trained by some of the greatest experts in the world, who were not slow to recognize their golden opportunities, these excellently placed weapons carried disaster into the enemy's attacks, enfilading them time and again. To the intense delight of the gunners, the Turks advanced in lines that presented ideal machine-gun targets. As the enemy had treated the Royal Naval Battalions on Dead Man's Ridge, so the Turk was now treated in return.

Again and again the foe came on—by their French-grey overcoats they were identified as new picked troops from Asia. Again and again they advanced, but, caught by the loosely-strewn barb wire, they dropped like flies and were beaten to the earth by the machine guns. The din was indescribable. Above the rattle of the musketry combat and between the boom of the guns could be heard the Turk, crying on his Maker as he advanced, yelling and squealing as he retired to the Colonial shouts of “Imshi Yallah!” and the glorious battle chorus of “Ake, Ake, Kia Kaha!”

Down the gullies on the left flank the enemy came in the dark. A determined attack about the Fishermen's Hut page 141 would cut off No. 2 Post and let the Turkish hordes surge along the flat beach and low ground into the heart of Anzac. The anxious garrisons detected sounds of men scrambling down the gully. Around the posts alert ears heard the undertone of voices. It was some time before the listeners could determine the mutterings as undoubtedly Turkish. Into the mysteries of the scrub volley after volley was poured. The attackers, feeling that they were “in the air,” squealed and disappeared in the direction of the Suvla Flats. When the sun was well up, from No. 2 Post Turkish reinforcements were discernible in the trenches opposite Walker's Ridge. A machine gun of the Canterbury Regiment was posted to
Black and white photograph of the troop regrading the road.

[Lent by Capt. Boxer, N.Z.M.C.
On Walker's Ridge.
The Field Troop, N.Z.E., regrading the road to Russell's Top.

enfilade them. The rifles of the 10th Nelson Squadron, assisted by the machine gun, brought a devastating fire to bear on a grey-coated battalion of the enemy lying in the trenches and in the depressions, evidently preparing for an advance. For a few minutes a stream of lead played up and down their ranks, causing awful havoc. The mass heaved and swayed convulsively, then broke and stampeded to the rear, page 142 assisted in their flight by the ever-watchful guns of the torpedo-boat destroyers, while the machine guns from Steel's, Courtney's, Quinn's, Pope's and Walker's, emptied belt after belt into the enemy reserves. Now was the opportunity of the field gunners. From Howitzer Gully, from Plugge's Plateau, from Walker's Ridge, the New Zealand Field Artillery shells were pumped in streams. The No. 2 Battery, N.Z.F.A., though only able to get two guns to bear, fired 598 rounds almost without intermission. The ships were having a day out, perfect targets presenting themselves all along the line.

Right along the two and a third miles of front the attacks melted away—nowhere was the Anzac line penetrated. The great attempt to drive the infidel into the sea had miserably failed. Everywhere along the line Turks lay dead in heaps. The mounted men—Australians and New Zealanders alike—had demonstrated that southern-bred soldiers were as dogged in defence as they were brilliant in attack.

The night was fairly quiet, but on the 20th the attack was resumed, when the machine gunners had it all their own way. Perhaps the enemy remembered the tragedy of the preceding day, for when the machine guns spluttered, the attackers broke and fled.

In the afternoon a dramatic episode occurred. At different points in the Turkish trenches small white flags appeared. Linguists in the enemy's ranks made known their desire for a truce to bury their dead. At many parts in the line, particularly opposite the Auckland Mounted trenches on Walker's Ridge, some conversation was carried on in German. But observers noticed men crowding in the front line and the communication trenches. It seemed that the white flag incident was a ruse to launch a surprise attack. The white flag parties were given two minutes to get down out of sight. Down they scurried, and once more the musketry battle resumed its violence. As night came the searchlight from the warships played around the Turkish trenches and brilliantly illuminated the gullies on the flanks. Some desultory firing took place, but the Turk had no stomach for more infidel driving.