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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Ghurkas Attack Hill Q

page 224

The Ghurkas Attack Hill Q.

Once again on the night of August 8 the columns were reorganized for the attack:

No. 1 Column—Brigadier-General F. E. Johnston.

26th Indian Mountain Battery (less one Section).
Auckland Mounted Rifles.
Wellington Mounted Rifles.
N.Z. Infantry Brigade.
7th Gloucesters.
8th Welsh Pioneers.

The Wellington Mounted Rifles came up from Table Top during the night, but the other troops were already on Chunuk Bair. Their duty on the morrow was to consolidate their position, and if possible extend it.

No. 2 Column—Major-General H. V. Cox.

21st Indian Mountain Battery (less one section).
4th Australian Infantry Brigade.
29th Indian Infantry Brigade.
39th Brigade (less the 7th Gloucesters).
6th Battalion South Lancashire Regiment.

This column was to attack the heights of Hill Q.

No. 3 Column—Brigadier-General A. H. Baldwin.

6th East Lancashires. From the
6th Loyal North Lancashires. 38th Brigade.
10th Hampshires. From the
6th Royal Irish Rifles. 29th Brigade.
5th Wiltshires. 40th Brigade.

These troops were from the Army Corps Reserve. They were to assemble in the Chailak Dere on the night of the 8th, move up to Rhododendron Spur in the dark, and getting in touch with the No. 1 Column on Chunuk Bair, move up the slopes towards Hill Q.

Troops moving up defiles in the dark are always late, for so many factors seem to work adversely. Wounded men and transport mules will persist in coming down and blocking the road. Wounded men are generally past caring about the fortunes of the fight. Indian mule drivers know they have to get back to their depot and are perhaps not told the proper track to take. This, of course, is soon page 225 regulated when things are normal; but while a fight is on there is a good deal of confusion.

No. 1 Column carried out its task and held on to Chunuk Bair; the Ghurkas struggled up the steeps of Hill Q, their ranks becoming visibly thinner and thinner until the watchers from the posts below wondered if there would be enough momentum to carry them to the top. But they undoubtedly did get there. The Navy now commenced firing over the crest in order to debar the Turk from pressing a counter-attack. Some
Black and white photograph.

A Sikh and a Ghurka.

of the shells fell short among the Ghurkas. Instead of getting help from Baldwin, who was only at The Farm, a few heavy shells crashed on to the summit. This was one of the tragedies of Anzac. Instead of help came our own shells. It is the price that must be paid for artillery support in broken country. These things are unavoidable—they are the misfortune of war.

But the enemy saw his chance. Launching a counter-attack, the gallant handful of survivors was swept off the crest and into the valley below. Simultaneously a flood was loosed on the 4th Australians; wave after wave was hurled against the New Zealanders up on the shoulder of Chunuk Bair; flushed with success and confident in the overwhelming superiority of numbers, wave after wave of skirmishers was thrown around Baldwin's forces at The Farm until the column was well-nigh annihilated. General Baldwin himself was killed with many of his commanding officers. The survivors retired to their original position on the ridge overlooking The Farm.

page 226

The only force to hold its ground was General Johnston's on Chunuk Bair, where a poor trenchline of 200 yards was occupied. Our fellows were too exhausted to dig in the hard ground and rock of the crest-line. It was impossible to put out wire.

This brings us to the end of Sunday, August 9. The battle at Lone Pine was still raging. Down at Suvla, high officers were trying to infuse a little energy into an army that had become moribund.

Worn out with three days and three nights of fighting under a merciless sun, with a short ration of water, suffering tremendous losses, the New Zealanders and other troops on Chunuk Bair were withdrawn for a little rest on the evening of August 9. Their place was taken by the 6th Loyal North Lancashires and the 5th Wiltshires. It was estimated that more than two battalions could not be usefully employed on the ridge.