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Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Cemeteries

20 - 23 Sept 09

On the evening of 20 Sept, Jim and l started our  CWGC visit at the Helles Memorial covered elsewhere on the site. However, l've include additional photos as well as cleaning them up here....apologies in advance.

The next morning we started our trip at Lone Pine CWGC.  There we meet an Australian contingent traveling by minivan as part of a tour of the battlefield....we will meet them again. The woman is visiting on 'behalf'' of her great uncle who survived the battle.

Lone Pine was a strategically important plateau in the southern part of the Anzac front lines and was briefly in the hands of Australian forces following the landings on 25 April. It became a Turkish strong point from May to July, when it was known by them as 'Kanli Sirt' (Bloody Ridge). The Australians pushed mines towards the plateau from the end of May to the beginning of August and on the afternoon of 6 August, after mine explosions and bombardment from land and sea, the position was stormed by the 1st Australian Brigade. By 10 August, the Turkish counter-attacks had failed and the position was consolidated. It was held by the 1st Australian Division until 12 September, and then by the 2nd, until the evacuation of the peninsula in December.

The Lone Pine Memorial stands on the site of the fiercest fighting at Lone Pine and overlooks the whole front line of May 1915. It commemorates more than 4,900 Australian and New Zealand servicemen who died in the Anzac area.  Others named on the memorial died at sea and were buried in Gallipoli waters.

We then head several hundred metres up the road to Quinn's Post CWGC....this road, built by the CWGC, bisects the old front lines held between Turkish and ANZAC forces which were only 3-5 m apart for the entire length of the ridge at the top of Monash Valley, the ‘key to Anzac’. For virtually the whole of the campaign the Turks held the spur just to the north of Quinn’s Post  – Deadman’s Ridge. From this position, and positions higher up the hill, Turkish snipers fired down into the valley below, making movement by day up to Quinn’s and the other posts along the ridge a life threatening undertaking.

Up until mid-June 1915, the fighting at Quinn’s was of a ferocity and intensity unequalled on any other part of the line. Anzac attacks to push the line forward from the valley crest, bombing duels and aggressive tunneling below ground from both sides gave the post a fearsome reputation.

The importance of this part of the Anzac line was quickly realized and various small parties held on here against Turkish attacks in the days after the landing. On 29 April, Captain Hugh Quinn arrived here with a detachment of Queenslanders from the 15th Battalion just as the Turks were digging in around the head of Monash Valley and across from Quinn’s Post. There now commenced a struggle at Quinn’s that was to continue 24 hours a day for eight months. Part of the incessant danger at Quinn’s lay in the fact that it was overseen by enemy positions on three sides and to raise one’s head here above the parapet of the trench was to invite instant death from ever watchful Turkish riflemen.

Quinn's Post was the scene of some of the most dramatic events in the Gallipoli campaign. They included the Turkish attacks in April and May, particularly 19 and 29 May, the 24 May truce, and a series of attacks in May and June, Charles Bean described the holding of Quinn's as among the Australian Imperial Force finest feats.

There are now 473 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery... 294 of the burials are unidentified.

We then visited the Nek Memorial just up the road .

The Nek" was a narrow stretch of ridge in the Anzac battlefield on the Gallipoli peninsula. The name derives from the Afrikaans word for a "mountain pass" but the terrain itself was a perfect bottleneck and easy to defend, as had been proven during a Turkish attack in May. It connected the Anzac trenches on the ridge known as "Russell's Top" to the knoll called "Baby 700" on which the Turkish defenders were entrenched.

For the three months since the 25 April landings, the Anzac beachhead had been a stalemate. In August an offensive (which later became known as the Battle of Sari Bair) was intended to break the deadlock by capturing the high ground of the Sari Bair range, and linking the Anzac front with a new landing to the north at Suvla. In addition to the main advance north out of the Anzac perimeter, a number of supporting attacks were planned from the existing trench positions. The attack at the Nek was meant to coincide with an attack by New Zealand troops from Chunuk Bair, which was to be captured during the night.

The Nek attack was made by the 3rd Light Horse Brigade: like the other Australian Light Horse and the New Zealand Mounted Rifles regiments, they had been dispatched to Gallipoli in May as infantry reinforcements, leaving their horses in Egypt.

The attack was scheduled to commence at 4:30 a.m on 7 August. It was to be preceded by a naval bombardment. The Light Horse regiments were to advance on a front 80 meters wide in a total of four waves of 150 men each, two waves per regiment. Each wave would advance two minutes apart. The distance they would have to travel to reach the Turkish line was less than 30 meters. 

On the morning of the 7th, it was clear that the Allied prerequisites for the attack had not been met and the reason for charging at the Nek evaporated...and the Turkish machine guns enfilading the ground in front of Quinn's Post and the Nek remained undamaged.

Owing to a failure of timing instructions, the artillery preparation ceased as planned at 4.30am while the attack was not launched until 4.37am.... giving the Turkish defenders ample time to return to their trenches and prepare for the assault that they now knew was coming. The first wave of 150 men from the 8th Light Horse Regiment, "hopped the bags" and went over the top. They were met with a hail of machine gun and rifle fire and within 30 seconds, all were gunned down. A few men reached the Turkish trenches, and marker flags were reportedly seen flying, but they were quickly overwhelmed and shot or bayoneted by the Turkish defenders.

The second wave of 150 followed the first without question and met the same fate with almost all the men cut down by heavy rifle and machine gun fire before they got half way to the Turkish trench.

The commander of the 10th Light Horse Regiment, attempted to have the third wave cancelled, claiming that "the whole thing was nothing but bloody murder" but the attack went in.  The third wave "hopped the bags" and the assault came to a quick end as before. Finally, the attack was called off , but confusion in the right area of the Australian's fire trench, led to around 75 to 80 men of the fourth wave going over, and they too were cut down in less than a minute. By 4:45 a.m., the ridge was covered with fresh dead and wounded Australian soldiers, most of which remained where they fell for the duration of the campaign.

There are now 326 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 316 of the burials are unidentified but there are special memorials to five Australian soldiers believed to be buried among them. This is the battle described in the film Peter Weir's "Gallipoli".

From the Nek is was a short ride up the ridge to the Chunuk Bair Memorial and Cemetery.

The Memorial records on panels of Hopton Wood stone the names of over 800 officers and men of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force who died in 1915 and who have no known grave.

Capturing Chunuk Bair was one of the main objectives in the Battle of Sari Bair (6th-10th August 1915) and was carried out by the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, the 10th Gurkha Rifles, and the Maori Contingent.  These troops, after repulsing incessant Turkish attacks, were destroyed on the morning of the 10th when the position was overrun by a determined and overwhelming counter-attack, carried out by a Turkish Army Corps under German General Liman von Sanders, and led by Mustapha Kemal Pasha, the founder of the Republic of Turkey as well as its first President.

In total, there had been almost 2000 ANZAC defenders on or below the summit of Chunuk Bair. Another brigade at the Farm numbered a further 3000. The Turks swept over the Lancashire battalion on the summit, wiping it out to the last man.  The Turks headed down Rhododendron Spur towards the Pinnacle, driving the New Army troops before them. The Turks descended to the small plateau of the Farm and annihilated Baldwin's brigade. About 1000 British were killed, the rest driven off into the surrounding gullies.

The loss of Chunuk Bair marked the end of the effort to reach the central hills of the Peninsula. So far as this sector of the front was concerned, the line remained unaltered  until the evacuation in December 1915.

We take a break in the shade at the summit of Chunk Bair while local vendors shill their goods just outside the memorial....shameless.
We then headed sharply downhill from the summit of Chunuk Bair  to 'The Farm' cemetery.  "The Farm " was a stone shepherd's hut on the western slopes of Chunuk Bair, known to the Turks as "Aghyl" (a sheepfold) where 652 Commonwealth servicemen are buried here, 645 burials unidentified.

From the top of the Sari Bair ridge and Chunuk Bair we head back to the coast and visit Beach CWGC. Beach Cemetery was used from the day of the Landing at Anzac, almost until the Evacuation. There are now nearly 400 war casualties commemorated in this site. Beach Cemetery is situated on what was known as Hell Spit, at the southern point of Anzac Cove.

Ari Burnu Cemetery lies between the beach and the cliff under Plugge's Plateau. Named from the Cape at the North end of Anzac Cove, was made in 1915, and in 1926 and 1927 graves from Kilid Bahr Anglo-French Cemetery and Gallipoli Consular Cemetery were concentrated into it. There are now over 250 Great War casualties commemorated at this site. in 1919.

Down the road is Shrapnel Valley Cemetery. The upper part of Shrapnel Valley was called Monash Gully (after Sir John Monash, then commanding the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade). The main valley obtained its name from the heavy shelling of it by the Turks on the 26th April, 1915. It was an essential road from the beach upwards. Wells were sunk and water obtained from it in small quantities; on the South side of its lower reaches were camps and depots; and gun positions were made near the mouth of it. The cemetery was made mainly during the occupation, but partly after the Armistice by the concentration of isolated graves in the Valley. There are now nearly 700casualties commemorated in this site.

We then head to Suvla Bay and a break and swim on the invasion beaches.  l leave with a footful of sea urchin spines and a rum jar memento. 

We then visit Green Hill Cemetery which lies on the east side of the Anzac-Suvla Road and can be seen from Suvla and from Anzac.  Green and  Chocolate Hill (which form together Yilghin Burnu) are adjoining pieces of high ground, about 170 feet above sea level and which rise almost from the Eastern shore of the Salt Lake at Suvla, captured on the 7th August 1915.  On the 21st August the attack of the 11th (Northern) and 29th Divisions, along with the 2nd South Midland Mounted Brigade, although pressed with great resolution, left the front line where it had been. Jim's Great Uncle is killed in this attack.

Green Hill Cemetery was made after the war by the concentration of isolated graves from the Suvla battlefields of August 1915 and  contains the graves of 773 soldiers from the United Kingdom (including a very high proportion of Yeomanry), two from Newfoundland, and 2,196 whose unit in our forces could not be ascertained. The unnamed graves number 2,589, and special memorials are erected to 117 soldiers from the United Kingdom who are known, or believed, to be buried among them.

We then spent a hour climbing Scimitar Hill, scene of the horrifically mismanaged battle of 21 Aug 1915.

Paralysis had set in to the British campaign in the Dardanelles after repeated failures to advance at Helles on the tip of the peninsula since the original 25 April landings. In August a new offensive, known as the Battle of Sari Bair, was opened at Suvla Bay in an attempt to regain the initiative from the Turks. Soldiers of two english divisions, including Jim's Great Uncle, were landed at Suvla on the night of 6 August while a simultaneous breakout was made from the long-stagnant Anzac sector to the south of Suvla.

The 11th Division landed on the night of 6 August and two brigades of the 10th Division landed the following morning. The original objectives were the capture of the ridge lines to the north and the line of hills to the south on the Anafarta Spur. However, little more was done than securing the beachhead.

The landings, made in the dark without the aid of reliable reconnaissance, suffered from the same confusion that reigned at Anzac landing on 25 April. Lighters ran aground on sandbars so that the troops had to wade some distance to get ashore. Many units became intermingled and officers were unable to locate their objectives.

By evening on 7 August progress had been minimal. To the south east Chocolate Hill and Green Hill were taken in the evening with minimal resistance but constant harassment by shrapnel and sniper fire. The British suffered 1,700 casualties on the first day at Suvla.

Scimitar Hill, so named because of its curved summit, and the neighbouring W Hills to the south were part of the Anafarta Spur that marked the southern edge of the Suvla sector. Their capture had originally been first-day (7 August) objectives but General Stopford was exceedingly hesitant about making any major advances without artillery support.

On the morning of 9 August the British made their first effort to advance towards the high ground to the east, a ridge called Tekke Tepe. Scimitar Hill, which guarded the approach to this ridge from the southwest along the Anafarta Spur, had been captured unopposed but was then abandoned. The British attempted to recapture the hill on 9 August and in the intense fighting it changed hands a number of times before the British were forced off around midday. Despite the arrival of reinforcements, any hopes the British had of a swift victory at Suvla were now gone as the Turks consolidated their hold on the surrounding ridges.

On 10 August the 53rd Division made another attack at Scimitar Hill which was another massive failure for the British and effectively ruined the division as a fighting unit within two days of its landing.

The plan for 21 August was to attack Scimitar Hill with the 29th Division and the W Hills with the 11th Division, keeping the Yeomanry in reserve near the beach. As was so often the case at Gallipoli, the preliminary artillery barrage looked impressive but achieved little. The British had no sight of their targets, which were obscured by mist and smoke, whereas the Turkish artillery had a clear view of the entire Suvla battlefield and ample opportunity to register their targets.

The 11th Division's attempt to capture the W Hills collapsed in confusion when confronted by a Turkish strongpoint and artillery fire. As a consequence when the 1st Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers managed to capture the summit of Scimitar Hill, they found themselves under fire from the defenders higher up the Anafarta Spur to the east and from the W Hills to the south. The Irish retreated from the summit while the undergrowth around them was set ablaze by the shellfire, incinerating the wounded as they lay helpless.

Around 5 p.m. the troops of the 2nd Mounted Division were ordered forward from their reserve position on Lala Baba, near the beach. They advanced, marching in formation, across the bed of a dry salt lake. By this time the air was clouded by mist and smoke so that they had little idea of where they were going. The 5000 men of the five brigades formed in columns by regiment and, marching in extended order, were easy targets for the shrapnel. Most of them halted in the cover of Green Hill, west of Scimitar Hill, but Brigadier-General Lord Longford, led his 2nd (South Midland) Brigade in a charge over Green Hill and up to the summit of Scimitar Hill. Continuing on, Lord Longford was cut off and killed. The yeomanry too were driven from the summit.

In one day of fighting the British suffered 5,300 casualties out of the 14,300 soldiers who participated. The attack at Scimitar Hill on 21 August was the last attempt by the British to advance at Suvla. The front line remained between Green Hill and Scimitar Hill for the remainder of the campaign until the evacuation on 20 December.

From Scimitar Ridge, we head has been a long and draining day.

click on a picture to see a larger image. hit arrows at either end of the slideshow for more pictures.


Helles Point Memorial. This overlooks V Beach GWGC.

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