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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Relief of our Brigade

page 130

The Relief of our Brigade.

During the next few days the weather was good, but the nights were very cold. The Turks attacked intermittently, but were definitely held. On the night of May 11, the New Zealanders were relieved by units of the East Lancashire Division, recently arrived from Egypt. This was achieved by 3 a.m. on May 12, without much confusion, whereupon the brigade moved back to its bivouac near the stone bridge on the Krithia road. Just after arriving there was a heavy fall of rain, which converted the surroundings into an absolute quagmire. The following days, however, were beautifully fine, and the men had a much-needed rest. In the reorganization it was found that the brigade had suffered a
Black and white photograph of troops gathering firewood.

Troops Gathering Firewood at Sedd-el-Bahr.

total of 771 casualties at Helles, but all ranks were greatly cheered by the appreciative comments passed by the Regular Army officers, and especially by Sir Ian Hamilton's official message: “May I, speaking out of a full heart, be permitted to say how gloriously the Australians and New Zealanders have upheld the finest traditions of our race during this struggle page 131 still in progress; at first with audacity and dash, since then with sleepless valour and untiring resource. They have already created for their countries an imperishable record of military virtue.”

Several days of welcome relief from the front line ensued. Men wandered through the battered forts of Sedd-el-Bahr, and marvelled at the dismantled guns and twisted ironwork. Others strolled around the fertile countryside, which was smothered with a profusion of red poppies, white daisies and blue larkspurs, as if to honour the French and British occupation.

After dark on the evening of May 19, the brigade again embarked from V Beach to return to Anzac Cove, where they arrived at dawn next morning. During the disembarkation a very sad incident occurred in the Auckland Battalion, which lost another officer, he being the twenty-seventh officer incapacitated out of the original twenty-nine combatants.