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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Attack on Scimitar Hill

The Attack on Scimitar Hill.

On the night of August 20/21, the 29th Division assembled at Chocolate Hills and prepared for the advance on the morrow. All that day they kept under observation their objective for the morrow—the ill-starred Scimitar.

The preliminary bombardment was very heavy for Gallipoli, but a mist on the Suvla plain favoured the enemy, interfering with the aim of our gunners. At 3.15 in the afternoon the 34th Brigade reached their objective—the trenches on the plain near Hetman Chair; but the 32nd Brigade lost direction, and instead of taking the communication trench leading to the “W” Hills, went far north of it and suffered heavy casualties. The 33rd Brigade went out to retrieve the situation, but made the same mistake and failed entirely in its object.

Just after 3.30, the 87th Brigade of the 29th Division, taking advantage of every bush and every fold in the ground, moved steadily from
Black and white photograph.

Officers of the 29th Division in the trenches at Suvla.

Chocolate Hill towards the Scimitar. The 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers stormed the crest and chased the Turks back towards the high ground leading to Kuchuk Anafarta. But just higher than the first crest of the Scimitar were other rows of Turkish trenches. From the machine guns there, from the field guns of “W” Hills, and from Tekke Tepe, came a storm of lead. The Scimitar was swept with a devastating converging fire.

The 86th Brigade was to attack the right of the Scimitar, and merge with the 87th Brigade for the attack on the crest; but the badly-directed 32nd and 33rd Brigades of the 13th Division were now scattered over the ground between Green page 249 Hill and the Scimitar. These troops got mixed with the regulars and threw them into confusion; but born of long training, led by experienced officers, companies emerged from the chaos, and pressed on to the Scimitar. Then a great fire broke out in the undergrowth and little headway could be made.

At five o'clock the Yeomanry were called from the reserve at Lala Baba. With their hearts in their mouths, the watchers from the Anzac hills saw the long lines extend in open order and move across the wide expanse of plain. Right across the dry Salt lake the troopers quickly marched. The wonder is that so few casualties occurred. They had some difficulty in pressing through the scattered men of the 13th Division round the Chocolate Hills; but by 7 o'clock at least one brigade was at the foot of the Scimitar. Darkness fell as they commenced to work their way to the crest. The converging fire again swept the crest and they too suffered the fate of the Inniskillings and had to withdraw after suffering fearful loss.

Scimitar Hill, which was taken so easily by the 6th East Yorks and so tragically abandoned on August 8th, cost over 5000 casualities. There was not an atom of gain, for everywhere the troops fell back to the original line.