The New Zealanders at Gallipoli
Second Assault on Kaiajik Aghala
Second Assault on Kaiajik Aghala.
For the next for days the units in the line carried on an incessant bomb and rifle duel, but it was decided to make one more effort to win the coveted hill.
In the reorganization which took place for the second attack, the disposition was as follows:—
On the right a detachment of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade (250 men), with 100 men of the 17th Battalion, page 255 A.I.F. In the centre, the four regiments of the N.Z. Mounted Rifles Brigade (300 men), with 100 men of the 18th Battalion, A.I.F. On the left were the 5th Connaught Rangers, totalling 250 men.
This attack on Contour 60 of Kaiajik Aghala was timed for 5 p.m., with an artillery bombardment for an hour prior to that. The gunners promised 500 H.E. shells over the space of 500 yards square. In our section of the attack 5 officers and 100 men of the Canterbury Mounteds were to form the first line, with special bombing parties of 20 men of the Aucklands supporting the right and left flanks; Wellington and Otago Mounted Rifles made the second line; the 18th Battalion, A.I.F. the third line. Bayonets and bombs only were to be used. The Canterbury men took up their places in the trench at 4.30 p.m. with the other regiments in the communication trench.
After a bombardment by our artillery, at 5 p.m. our men jumped out to advance and were immediately under a terribly hot fire from machine guns and rifles. But they never wavered, and with men falling everywhere they continued in one long straight line, magnificent in their courage, on into the first trench where they disappeared for 10 or 15 minutes, amongst a nest of live Turks. Finishing these off, without more hesitation, they rose again and advanced under the same withering fire, fewer in numbers, but dauntless in determination, only to meet a new foe in the enemy's shrapnel.
The casualties were fearful. But still they pressed on to the second trench, then the third. Men were falling more quickly now. Yet it was a charge to stir the heart and quicken the blood of a stoic, and so forlorn it looked against such dreadful odds. The little pink flanking flags were gradually moving forward as the artillery exploded their shells just in front of them. It was noticeable that the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade had not been able to make an advance on the right, and the troops on our left were making little headway. Our machine guns now hurried forward to take up a forward position and all hung on to the ground gained as darkness set in. Wounded, page 256 slightly and severely, now began to pour into the dressing stations.
It then became a bomb duel for the remainder of the night. The trenches were choked with dead and wounded Turks and our own people, and were so narrow that no stretchers could be used to send them out.
[Photo by Rev. E. O. Blamires, C.F.
Padre Grant out at Hill 60.
This picture was taken about an hour before his death.
The enemy now began to enfilade with 75m. guns from the east. Their gunners knew the range to a yard, for these were his own captured trenches he was shelling. There seemed to be no escaping these terrible guns; man after man, group after group, was destroyed, but the survivors held stubbornly on. Up in the salient held by our fellows, the Turk attacked again and again, but the Mounted Rifles page 257 stood to it. New Zealanders have a tradition that they cannot be shifted out of reasonable trenches.
The 9th Light Horse, about 200 strong, were placed at General Russell's disposal and were ordered to come over from Walker's Ridge. They arrived at 10 o'clock, and an hour later two parties of 50 each, were taken over to the trenches to help hold our left. They encountered very strong opposition, and had to fall back again to a barricade, which was held by them for the rest of the night.
The position was greatly improved during the day, large working parties being kept going deepening the trenches. The work was much interrupted by shell fire from Abdel Rahman Bair.
At 2 p.m. the officers of the 10th Light Horse came over from Walker's Ridge and were shown the position. A plan was unfolded whereby these Light Horsemen might attack an essential piece of trench away on the left. That night the old 10th, our comrades of Walker's Ridge, came over to Kaiajik, and at 11 o'clock, in the darkness of the night, fell upon the Turks in the remainder of the trench. This was page 258 the climax. Bomb as the Turk might, he could not shift the Light Horse and Mounted Rifles. It was here that Thossell of the Light Horse got his V.C. for holding the barricade against persistent bombing attacks. The top of Kaiajik Aghala was now partly in our hands. We never gained the whole of the crest; but what we took on August 21/28 we held till the evacuation.
Three machine guns and 46 prisoners were taken, as well as three trench mortars, 300 Turkish rifles, 60,000 rounds of small arm ammunition, and 500 bombs. The estimate of the Turkish losses was given at 5,000, but this is likely an exaggeration.
Many of the wounded in these two battles for Kaiajik Aghala were fortunate enough to be taken aboard our own Hospital Ship—the “Maheno”—which arrived off Anzac on August 26. With what joy did the soldiers welcome the clean sheets, the hot baths, the thousand and one comforts and the sight of real New Zealand girls. After the hand-to-hand struggle at Hill 60, to lie at rest on the “Maheno” and watch the nurses was like creeping quietly into heaven.