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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

We Lose the Crest of Chunuk

We Lose the Crest of Chunuk.

At dawn on the 10th, these two battalions had disappeared! Some of the North Lancashires who escaped explained that the Wiltshires arrived tired and did not dig in; they were attacked by the Turks with knives and bombs: the Wiltshires ran in towards the Lancashires and the machine guns, and so masked their fire. So were these two battalions wiped out!

About 6 a.m. the Turks delivered their famous counter-attack down the slopes of Chunuk Bair, and endeavoured to get at the New Army regiments on the left of the Apex. But the four machine guns of the Canterbury Battalion were on the left front of the Apex, and the two remaining guns of the Auckland Battalion were on the Apex itself; two guns of the Wellington Battalion were back on the Rhododendron with the Maori gun and the flank gun of the Otago Infantry—these four could fire over the heads of the guns on the Apex, and commanded the whole of the approaches from Chunuk Bair. The small details of training, generally found so irksome, now proved of value. The gunners had already attended to their guns at the first streak of day. page 227 A Canterbury gunner, finding his gun difficult to adjust reported to the N.Z. Brigade Machine Gun Officer, who was sighting the gun on to the ridge when the first line of the Turkish attack came over at that very point. This gun had the range at once, and followed by keeping the sights a little in advance of the enemy. The other guns quickly took up the rat-a-tat; the range was sent to the other five guns. The N.Z. Mounted Brigade machine guns on Table Top and Bauchop's Hill also found a good target at extreme range. The New Zealand field guns, especially the howitzers, also opened up at once.

Black and white photograph.

[Photo by Col. Falla, C.M.G., D.S.O.
A New Zealand 4.5 Howitzer.

The Turkish line consisted of from 250 to 300 men at about one pace interval. By the time they reached a point immediately in front of the guns, the whole of the N.Z. machine guns were concentrated at that point in accordance with the orders hurriedly issued. Thus was created a death zone through which the enemy could not pass. They fell over literally like oats before a reaper. Twenty two lines came down each as true and steady as the first. They moved at a jog trot with their rifles at the port. The machine gunners with the assistance of the Navy and the Field Artillery mowed down line after line until the Turkish effort was spent. A number of Turks crawled back during the forenoon. They were not molested by the page 228 machine gunners, who admired their bravery so much as to leave them alone.

The New Zealand Infantry Brigade was relieved at 2 p.m. that day, but the machine guns were left in to stiffen up the New Army regiments.

At about 2.30 a.m. there was an attack and much confusion. The Turks showed on the top of the Apex, but the two flank guns of the Canterbury Battalion quickly dispersed them. Order was only restored at daylight. The presence of the N.Z. machine guns had saved the situation. The N.Z. Infantry Brigade again came in with the Aucklanders on the Apex. The next morning the Turks occupied the point of the Apex, and it was decided to take a Vickers Maxim out to the front and open up on them from an unexpected quarter. The gun was just in position when a peculiar incident occurred. An Otago man of the 5th Reinforcements was working in front of where the gun took up position. He was told to stop work when the gun was ready and to crouch down so that the gun could fire over him. Against all the rules of war he immediately lighted his pipe. The Turks, only 80 yards away, opened fire with about twenty rifles on to the light. Their rifle flashes disclosed their position and the machine gun drove them out.

The New Zealand Infantry were relieved again in a short time and the machine gunners moved back to Rhododendron. On the first morning after their move back, a blockhouse was found to have been built in No Man's Land during the night. It now became plain what the Turks had been trying to do, but this had been prevented as long as the N.Z. Infantry were in possession. This blockhouse was a great nuisance to our men at the Apex, until it was summarily dealt with by the Canterburys later in the month.