The New Zealanders at Gallipoli
The Daisy Patch
From this front-line trench the Regulars had advanced the day before, but had been driven back. Presently the word was passed along that the New Zealanders would prepare to charge. When some Munsters and Essex saw the preparations, they shouted, “You're not going to charge across the daisy patch, are you?” “Of course we are,” the Aucklanders answered. “God help you,” they said, and watched with admiration as the New Zealanders flung themselves over the top.
The converging machine-gun fire from the clumps of fir trees swept the ground like a hose. This famous “daisy patch” was situated just to the left of a dry creek-bed page 126 running from near the village of Krithia down the centre of the Peninsula towards the Cape—a piece of ground about 100 yards across, absolutely devoid of cover; apparently it had once been sown with some crop, but was now overgrown with the common red poppy of the field and countless longstemmed daisies comparable to the dog daisy of England and New Zealand. The bank of the creek afforded good cover, and the Turkish snipers took full toll of our men.
[Lent by Sergt. P. Tite. N.Z.E.
The New Zealand Infantry Brigade Staff.
Taken just before the “Daisy Patch” attack. The officer standing is Colonel E. F. Johnston. Major Temperly (to whom much credit is due for the good work of the Brigade) is sitting on a box, facing this way.
The troops had hardly got a quarter of the way across the patch when there burst a further terrific storm of machinegun and rifle fire. Heavily laden with entrenching tools and equipment, the troops were exhausted and could go no farther. By 3 p.m. the thin line was digging itself in.
Canterbury had advanced about 250 yards, Auckland had two companies about the same distance, but the right com- page 127 pany had fallen back owing to heavy cross machine-gun fire from a clump of fir trees. Wellington had made good about 300 yards, but were under very heavy fire from a Turkish trench on our left front. Two companies of the Otago Regiment were sent in to help Auckland, who had lost heavily and were somewhat shaken.
A squadron of armoured cars advanced in fine style up the Krithia Road, but a few Turkish trenches dug across the road damped their ardour, and they disconsolately returned to the rear.
All that afternoon our men hung on under a withering fire. The wounded lying out in the open were hit again and again. Away on the right, the French could be seen pressing vigorously forward towards the crest, but were ever beaten back. Times without number they surged forward, but could not hold the ground so hardly won. Again and again that awful afternoon did the British, French, Indian, and Colonial soldiers hurl themselves forward towards the Turk. But the enemy machine guns were not to be denied; from end to end of the line the attack was undoubtedly held up.
It was resolved to make one final effort before nightfall. The remaining two companies of the Otago Battalion were pushed up to support Wellington's right and Auckland's left, and a newly arrived draft of New Zealand Reinforcements was moved up into a new reserve. At 5 p.m., every available gun ashore and afloat opened on the Turkish lines. Never before had the troops heard such an awesome uproar — the spiteful French 75‘ vied with the 15-in. monsters of the Queen Elizabeth in heaping metal on the Turk. Half an hour later the whole line advanced against the Turkish lines, but it was more than flesh and blood could do to make a permanent advance. Everywhere ground was gained, but at a tremendous price. The thinned-out ranks were not strong enough to hold what had been gained.
[Lent by Capt. Farr, D.S.O., M.C.
A Gun of the 3rd Battery, N.Z.F.A. at Cape Helles..
After our experience of cover in France, the sheet on galvanized iron and row of sandbags is almost ludicrous. Notice the typical Gallipoli hair-cut and the absence of many garments.
Away on the left a fire broke out among the gorse and scrub. The Sikh wounded fared very badly in the flames.
After dark it was found that the Canterburys were in direct touch with the 2nd Australian Brigade on the right. Canterbury's left was not in touch with anyone, but a second line some distance to the rear filled the gap. Our line from Wellington's right was also not in touch, but was protected by trenches of the 87th Brigade echeloned in rear.
During the night the position gained was consolidated. The Auckland Battalion was much disorganized and split up, so was withdrawn to the reserve trenches. The casualties had been very heavy. Large numbers of wounded had to spend the night on the battlefield, as their evacuation was difficult.
At 3.53 p.m. on May 9, an order was received to take over the section from our left to the Krithia Nullah. The 87th Brigade was to go into support, the line being held by the Wellingtons, Otagos, and Canterburys. Part of the 88th Brigade was also retired. The marksmen of the Canterburys took the enemy snipers by surprise, and established a moral superiority over them.