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THEIR FIRST BATTLE, Dominion, Volume 6, Issue 2456, 8 May 1915
THEIR FIRST BATTLE
HOW THE COLONIALS FOUGHT THE TURKS
A THRILLING STORY
COLD STEEL FOR THE WAITING ENEMY
GALLING FIRE ON THE BOATS
For the first time since the Australians and New Zealanders landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula is the public privileged to gather an intimate and quickening idea of the difficulties and perils of the great enterprise in which our troops have so gallantly and successfully acquitted themselves. A long dispatch from Mr. Ashmead Bartlett, the English war correspondent- at the Dardanelles, gives a glowing account of the landing of our troops, whose bearing throughout that long and arduous day has filled him with tho warmest admiration.
THRILLING STORY OF THE LANDING
DASHING GALLANTRY OF COLONIALS
COLD STEEL FOR THE WAITING ENEMY
(By -Telegraph.—Press Assn.—Copyright)
(R-eo. May 7, 10.30 p.m.) London, May 7. • i. ■ A L shmead (tie war correspondent) was on board a warship with five hundred Australians, who. formed the covering party for the landing at Gaba Tope. The correspondent says that tho operations required splendid stall, organisation, and leadership to get the huge Armada under weigti from Aludros Bay without accident. The warships and transports divided into five divisions. "Never before has an attempt been made to land eo large a force in the face of a woll prepared enemy. "At 2 o'clock on April 24 the flagship of the division conveying the Australians passed down tho long lano of slowly moving transports, ainid tremendous cheering, played out of the bay by the French warships. At 4 o'clock the ship s company and troops assembled to hear the Admiral's proclamation to the combined forces. This was followed by the last Diyine service before the battle, in which the chaplain uttered prayers for victory. "At dusk, with all lights out, the troops rested for the ordeal at dawn. It was a beautifully calm night, and by 1 o'clock in the morning tho 6hipa had reached their rendezvous, five miles from the landing,-placo. Their Last Hot Meal. "The soldiers were aroused, ana served with their last hot meal. The Australians and New Zealanders, who were to go into action for the first time under trying circumstances, were cheerful, quiet, and confident. There was x no sign of nervous excitement. . "As tho moon waned the boats weie swung out, the Australians received their last instructions, and the men began to disembark for the unknown shore of a strange land. Each boat was in charge of a midshipman, and was loaded .with great rapidity, in absolute silence, and without a hitch. ia a'^"r e > force was towed ashore by tho ship's pinnaces. More of Australia s Brigade were carried on board destroyers, which were to go close inshore as soon as the covering force had landed. "At 3 o'clock it was quite dark; and a start was made for the shore. Suppressed excitement prevailed as to whether the enemy would be surprised or whether ho would he alert,. "At i o'clock three battleships, steaming'abreast, arrived at a point 2500 yards from the shore, their guns manned and searchlights in readiness. Very slowly the boats, ui tow, moved in-shore. Each edged towards each other, in order to reach the beach four cables apart. The battleships moved slowly in after them until the water shallowed. - J "Every oye was fixed on the grim lid of hills in front. It was a inenacinc gloom. I\ot a sound was to be heard, nor a light to.be seen. It appeared as ?, ® eaemy would be surprised. In our nervy state the stars were often mis* taken for lights ashore. - . British Cheer from the Shore. "The dawn waa now rapidly breaking, and at 4.80 a.m. the enemy showed the alarm light, which flashed for ten minutes and then disappeared. The boats then appeared, almost on the beach, seveii destroyers glided noiselessly m-fihcie, and at 4.53 a.m. came a sharp burst of rifle fire from the beach. The sound relieved a prolonged suspense which had become almost intolerable. .» l s ior a , feiv ' minutes, and then a faint British cheer came 11 Br3 ' telling us that the first position had been won. At 5.3 a.m. the firing became intensified, and by .the sounds we could tell °" r , mc "V 16 i nrl s g te<i twenty-five minutes, and then died down somewhat. ine boats then returned. A pinnace came alongside with two recumJ figures on deck, ,and a small midshipman, cheerful, waving his hand, with a shot through his stomach. Three men were wounded in the first burst of musketry. 1 Cold Steql for the Turks. "The boats had almost reached the beaoh when a party of Turks en trenched ashore, opened a terrible fusillade with rifles and a Maxim. Fortunately most of the bullets went high. The Australians did not wait for orders or for ulie boats to'reach the beach. They sprang into the sea, formed a sort of rough line, aud rushed the enemy s trenches. Their magazines were not charged, so they just wont in with cold steel. "It. was all over in a minute. _ The Turks in the first trench were either bayoneted, or ran away, an'cl their maxim was captured. The Australians found themselves facing an almost perpendicular cliff. Half-way up tho enemy had a second trench, strongly held, from which poured a terrible fire on the troops below, and on the boats which were pulling back to the destroyers for the second landing party. . A Tough Proposition. "It was a tough proposition to tackle in the darkness, but the colonials sapped for a few minutes to pull themselves together and get rid of their packs They then charged their magazines, and proceeded to scale the cliff with 9 ut responding to the enemy's fire. They lost some men, but didn't worrv Strife tTonVJ^in°flight W th ° ° Ut ° f I""As the daylight came, It was seen that the landing had been effected ?i> n °iiff • Gaba thaM r ad °, ri S inal1 y bee n intended, at a point wheie the cliffs rise very sheer. lor the men, it was a blessing in disguise, because there was no glacier down which tho enemy could fire, and the beadf g ° oVer ° nCB y had passed forty Tards of flat "The country in the vicinity of the landing looks formidable and forbidu"!' ~ 6 P r ?s<mts a steep front, broken into innumerable ridges bluSs, valleys and sanipits. Rising to a height of several hundred feet, the surface is of bare and crumbly sandstone, covered with thick shrubbery about six feet in height; ideal country for snipers, as the Australians and New Zealanders soon found to their cost On the other hand, the colonials provdi themselves adepts at this kind of warfare. piuvcu Calling Fire From Snipers. "In the'early part'of the day heavy casualties were suffered in the boats conveying the troops from, the destroyers, tugs, and transports. The enemy's sharp-shooters were hidden everywhere, and concentrated their fire on the boats when close in. At least three boats broke away from their tow, and drifted down the coast, under no control, and sniped at the whole wav steadilv losing nien. ■' •' •> "The work of disembarking proceeded mechanically, under a point-blank fire The moment the boats touched the beach tho troops jumpod ashore and doublod for co7er, but tho gallant boat crews had to pull in and out under a galling fire from hundreds of points. "AU through April 25 this went on-the landing of troops, ammunition, and stores. men daylight came the warships endeavoured to support the landing by a heavy fire from their secondary armaments, but not knowine the enemy's position their support was more moral than real. Splendid Work of the Covering Foroe. "When tho sun had fully risen we could- sec that the Australians' and New Zealanders bad actually established themselves on tho ridge, and wero trying to work their way northward along it. Tho fighting was so confused and occurred in such broken ground, that it was difficult to follow exactlv what happened 011 April 25,.but the covering force's task was so sploiididl'v parried out that it allowed the disembarkation of the remainder to proceed uninterruptedly,- except for the never-ceasing sniping. "The colonials, whose blood was up, instead of entrenching, rushed northward and eastwards, searching for fresh enemies to bayonet. It was difficult oountry in which to entrench, and they, therefore, preferred to advance. Tho Turks only had a weak force actually holding the beach, relying on tho difficult ground and their snipers to delay tho advance until their reinforcements came up. A Turkish Gountor-attack. "Some of the Anslnyiians and New Zealnmlcrs who had pushed inland counter-attacked, and were almost out-flanked by the.oncoming reserves of the enemy, and had to In 11 buck after suffering heavy losses. The Turks continued to countor-attack the whole aftonioon, but the eolonialo did. not yield
foot ou the main ridge. Reinforcements poured up from tlio bcach, but the lurks enfiladed tho beach -with two field-'uins from Gaba Tepc, and this suvapnol fire became incessant and deadly. "The warships for some hours vainly tried to silence them, The majority of the heavy casualties during the day'were from shrapnel, which swept the beach and ndgo where the Australians and New Zcalanders had established themselves. ''Later on in tho day the enemy's puns were either silenced or forced to withdraw, and a cruiser, moving close inshore, plastered Gaba Tepo with a hail or shell. "Jowards dusk tho enemy's attacks became more vigorous, tho enemy being now supported by powerful artillery inland, which the ships' guns wore jxnverless to deal with. Tho pressure on tho Australians and New jSealandors becanio heavier, and thoir lino had to be contracted. "General Birdwood and'his staff landed in tho afternoon, and devoted their energies to securing tho position so as to hold it firmly until next morning, when he hoped to got the field gnus in position. Some idea ot the difficulty of the enterprise may be gathered when it is remembered that every round of ammunition, nil t'he water, and stores haci to bo landed on tho narrow beach, and carried up pathless hills to a valley several hundred feet high to the firing line. The whole mass of tho troops was concentrated upon a very small area, and exposed and unablo to reply to a relentless and incessant shrapnel (ire which swept every yard of the Fortunately, much of it was badly aimed, and burst too high. A serious problem was tho getting of tho wounded from tho shore. All thoso unable to hobble had to bo carried from tho bille by strotchcr, then hastily dressed and carried to the boats. Tho boat parties worked unceasingly tho whole day and night. The courage* displayed by the wounded Colonials is never to bo forgotten. They were hastily placed oil trawlers, lighters, and .boats, then towed to the ships, and in spito of their sufferings, cheered the ship from which they had set out in tho morning. "I had never seen anything like these wounded Colonials in war before. Though many of them wereshot to bits, without hope of recovery, thoir cheers resounded throughout tho night-. You could see in tho midst of tho mass of suftcring humanity arms waving in greeting to tho crews of the warships. They were happy becauso they know they had been tried for tho first time and not ? U n Ivan H n S- For fifteen hours they had occupied the heights under incessant shell-fire, without tlio moral or material support of a single gun ashore, and subjected tho wholo timo to a violent counter-attack by a bravo enemy, skilfully led, with snipers deliberately picking off every officer who endeavoured to givo a command or lead Ins men. •' /' No llcr as accomplished in this war than the sudden landing in tho dark, storming tho heights, and, above all, holding on whilst reinforcements were landing. The raw colonial troops in these desperate hours proved worthy to fight side by side with the heroes of Mons, the Aisne, Ypres, and Neuvo Chapelle. Big Attack By The Enemy. "Early on the morning of April 2G the Turks repeatedly tried to drive the colonials from their position. The latter made local counter-attacks, and drove off the enemy with the bayonet, which the Turks wohld never face. The Turks were largely reinforced overnight, prepared r a . assault from the nor6h-c*ast. The movement began at 9.30. From tho ships one could seo tho enemy creeping along the hill-tops endeavouring to approach under cover. Ho also brought more guns and plastered the position with shrapnel while tlio rifle and machine-gun fire became unceasing. 'Soven warships crept close in with the Queen * Elizabeth further out as a kind of chaperone. Each covered a section, and opened a terrific bombardment of the heights and valleys beyond. As the lurkish infantry advanced they met every kind of shell our warships carry, from the 'Lizzie's' fifteen-inch shrapnel to twelve pounders. The shooting was excellent, yet owing to tho splendid cover, tho Turk* advanced gallantlv, whilst tho artillery not only shelled our positions, but tried to drivo off the snips. 'Ihe scene at the height of the engagement was sombre and magnificent. One could see down the coast as far as Sedd el Bahr three warships blazing auay oil the shore. llio rattle of rifle and machine-gun fire was incessant,; tho lulls < were ablaze with while masses of troops moved oji tho beaches, waiting to take their places m the trenches. ilie cieat attack lasted for two hours., AYe received messages from tho slups that their fire was inflicting awful losses on the enemy.Amidst _ the flash of bayonets, and a sudden charge by tho colonials. tho lurks broke and fled amidst a perfect tornado of shells from the ships. They fell back sullen and checked. They kept up an incessant fire .throughout the. day, but the Colonials were 3iow dug in. Some, prisoners were captured, including officers, who said the Turks were becoming demoralised by tho gunfire, and tho Germans had difficulty in getting them to attack.
THEIR FIRST BATTLE, Dominion, Volume 6, Issue 2456, 8 May 1915
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