Anzac Day, The Landing at Gallipoli, Australia's First Expeditionary Force

THE VERY FIRST ANZAC DAY April 27 1916

PROCEEDING IN LONDON

BRILLIANT COMMEMORATION

GREAT RECEPTION TO ANZACS

THE SERVICE AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY

London, Tuesday.

Anzac Day in London was one of brilliant sunshine and enormous crowds lined the route of the procession. Thousands of people thronged around Westminster and cheered the troops.

The King, wearing khaki, and the Queen, in mourning, drove to the Abbey in an open carriage, and were received at the west door by the Dean and Chapter.

The procession proceeded through the choir to the sacrarium, where there were two gold stools, on which their Majesties sat, and Lord Kitchener, members of the Cabinet, General Sir W. R. Birdwood,  Mr. W. M. Hughes, and the Dominions’ representatives attended. Many wounded soldiers were accommodated on stretchers. The king, on departing, stepped aside and warmly shook hands, and conversed with Trooper Geango, of the 6th Wellington Mounted Infantry, who was lying on a stretcher. The demonstration made a tremendous impression on London citizens, the crowd joining in the chorus of coo-ees.

The procession passed along Kingsway to Westminster Abbey through packed streets and decorous crowds. The heroes were greeted with hand-clapping and the waving of handkerchiefs, with occasional concerted hip-hurrahs, and some Australian coo-ees, which the Londoners vainly essayed to imitate. Many ladies threw flowers to a group of nurses and sisters outside the Charing Cross Hospital. The colonials, being of fine physique, attracted universal attention. The New Zealanders were head by a magnificent St. Bernard dog as a mascot. The Maoris had an especially warm greeting.

        There was some dissatisfaction among the Australians because the Light Horse, a fine body of men, were chosen to head the procession, while men of the 3rd, 2nd, and 1st Brigades, who were the heroes of the original landing, were at the rear of the procession. There were also many heartburnings because the smaller men were not selected, and had to remain in the camps, while giants were included in the procession, some of whom never were in Gallipoli.

        Their Majesties the King and Queen travelled to Westminster Abbey from Windsor, and were accorded a great oration in the streets. The Abbey was crowded when they arrived. The Dean and the Sub-Dean, in their rich capes, and other members of the Chapter, headed by the choir, received the Royal couple, and marched in procession down the nave to the choir gallery. The King and Queen alone, with the clergy, ascended the steps into the sacrarium, where their Majesties knelt at a prie-den. The short and simple service opened with Bishop Walsham How’s hymn “For all the Saints who from their labours rest, Alleluia.” After Wesley’s anthem, “Ascribe unto the Lord,” had been sung, the Dean, standing at the head of the steps from the choir gallery, faced the congregation and pronounced a eulogium on the heroic dead in the terms already published. After the singing of Kipling’s “Recessional” and the pronouncing of the Benediction, the “Last Post” rang out from 15 bugles.

        At the procession returned to the west door, the King stepped into the south transept, where there were over 100 wounded, men lying on pillows. An invalid in a carriage, who had a shattered spine, attracted the king’s notice. His Majesty shook hands with him, uttered a few words of sympathy, and then rejoined the Queen in the procession, which then moved towards the door.

        The congregation was highly representative of the State and the Army. Those present included Lord Kitchener, General Sir W. R. Birdwood, and Lady Birdwood, Prince Alexander of Battenberg, General Sir W. Robertson, General Sir R. C. Robertson, General Sir Ian Hamilton, Lord and Lady Plunket, Lord and Lady Tennyson, Lord and Lady Denman, Lord and Lady Dudley, Lord Milner, the Lord Mayor of London, Sir T and Lady Mackenzie, the Right Hon. W. M. and Mrs. Hughes, the Right Hon. A. and Mrs. Fisher, Sir George and Lady Reid, Captain and Mrs. R. M. Collins, General Sir Edward Hutton, Lady Linlithgow, Lady Northcote, Sir Newton Moore, and other Agents General.

        The Archbishop of Canterbury was in the congregation. Mr. Asquith and several other cabinet Ministers were unable to attend owing to Irish affairs. Large wreathes were laid on the altar from the “Old Boys” of the Wanganui College School, and from the “Twenty Ninth Division to Comrades in Arms.”

        An Australian wreath, in the shape of a boomerang, was laid before the altar in Westminster Abbey, with that from New Zealand.

Luncheon at Hotel Cecil

        At the luncheon at the Hotel Cecil 500 men and officers and Australian officials were present. The Prime Minister of the Commonwealth (Mr. W. M. Hughes) addressed the assembly before the luncheon, and said: “We who knew the Anzacs never doubted how they would how they would comport themselves amidst the horrors of modern war, yet their acts outshone the expectations, and the world stood thrilled in wonder. You won a place in the Temple of the Immortals and the world hailed you as heroes, the British Army claimed you as brothers-in-arms, and the citizens of the Empire are proud to call you kinsmen. Your glorious valour has uplifted your fellow citizens to heights unseen before by inspiring them with a newer and nobler concept of life. You taught them that through self sacrifice alone men and nations can be saved. Upon this foundation, true patriotism rests. The spirits of the dauntless men whose bodies lie on the Gallipoli Peninsula urge us to press on to victory. When you return to Australia, you will get the appreciation you deserve.”

        General Birdwood was accorded an oration at the luncheon at the Hotel Cecil. The men jumped on their chairs cheering him. He said: “I am glad to have been associated with the Australians for 20 months. Although not an Australian-born, I claim the privilege of being as good as the Anzac soldier (Cheers). I hope to command you for the rest of the war. The world has learned of the Australian and New Zealand achievements in landing on Lone Pine and Hill 60, and in the evacuation. The only complaints I heard were from the men who were not included in the foremost ranks.” He concluded by emphasizing the importance of training and discipline and said their task was not yet finalised.

Patriotic Concert

        After the luncheon at the Hotel Cecil, naval men from the cruisers Kent, Excellent, Melbourne, Cerberus, and Vernon, headed the procession from the Strand to Trafalgar Square amidst cheering crowds. Mr. A. Fisher and General Birdwood were received enthusiastically and greeted with cheers.

        Princess Louise and the Agents General were among those present at the concert in His Majesty’s Theatre, which was a striking success. Madame Ada Crossley, the Australian contralto, sang “Land of Hope and Glory,” the soldiers joined in the chorus. Private Rell of Sydney, Mr. Vernon Redwood, operatic tenor, Toowoomba, and Mr. Fred Lingray, of Melbourne, sang. Miss Alice Crawford recited “Coo-ee!” Messrs. Rowny, Lester, Tate, and other comedians contributed to the programme. Mr. Fisher, during an interval, presented medals to the soldiers, and reiterated Australia’s determination to fight to the last man and to the last shilling.

Australian Soldiers in Egypt

“The Cause for which our comrades fell is ours.”

Cairo, Tuesday- Thousands of persons attended the Anzac service in Cairo, including the Consuls of the Allies and representative detachments of the Anzacs. The Bishop of Jerusalem presided. Messages were read from the Hon. W. M. Hughes, Hon. James Allen (Minister for Defence for New Zealand), and Senator Pearce. The procession marched to the old Cairo Cemetery, where 1000 wreaths were laid on graves.

Melbourne, April 26-The following message was despatched by cable to the Commandant of the Australian Imperial Forces, Cairo, by the Acting Prime Minister (Senator Pearce), on Monday, to be read at the memorial service at Cairo:- “The citizens of the Commonwealth join with the Australian soldiers in Egypt in honoring the memory of our fallen heroes, whose gallant deeds at Gallipoli will constitute an imperishable record in our nation’s history.”

The following cabled reply was received:-“Great memorial gathering of English, Australian, and New Zealanders, at Anzac Hostel, Cairo, today, commemorating the heroic sacrifices of Gallipoli, appreciate your message, and sends loving sympathy to relatives of those who fell on the Peninsula. The cause for which our comrades fell is ours, and shall be vindicated.”

Services at Alexandria and Malta

Cairo, Wednesday- St. Mark’s Church, Alexandria, was crowded on Anzac Day, when a simple. touching commemoration service was held.

Malta- Wednesday-An impressive memorial service was held in the Pieta Cemetery, where many of the Anzacs are buried. Their graves were hidden in masses of flowers and wreaths, touchingly inscribed. The senders of the floral tributes included many Anzacs, who were recuperating at Malta.

Reports from Queensland Centres

Bald Hills, April 26- There was a large attendance in the School of Arts last night, when, under the auspices of the Patriotic League, a service commemorative of the heroes who fell at Gallipoli was held. The hall had been appropriately draped, and white wreaths and bowls of flowers called attention to the memorial nature of the meeting. Mr. K. Macpherson occupied the chair, and impressive addresses were given by Messrs. Laughton, Fredericks, Hibbard, and Revs. L. Bennett and W. Scott Laurie. Appropriate hymns were sung, the organist being Mr. T. J. Johnston, assisted by Miss Cullimore and Mr. Massey (violins).

Charters Towers, April 26- There was a very large attendance at the Theatre Royal on Tuesday night, and the commemoration proceedings were enthusiastic. Services were held in the morning in all the churches, and before the evening meeting there was a procession through the main streets.

Caboolture, April 26-There were no public celebrations here on Anzac Day. In the Methodist Church at 7.30pm, a service was conducted by the Rev. C. P. Clarkson. The Salvation Army also held a service.

Esk. April 26- Anzac Day in Esk was observed as a part holiday, the business houses closing for a couple of hours during the afternoon, and flags were flown at half mast. Special mass was celebrated at St. Mel’s  Roman Catholic Church at 10.00am, whilst at the Church of England, Presbyterian Church and Methodist Church special commemorative services were held. In the afternoon, a public meeting was held in the Lyceum Hall, at which 200 persons were present. Councillor Alex. Smith (chairman of the Esk Shire Council) presided, and read the King’s message. Other speakers were the Revs. J. B. Armstrong, (Church of England), Father Fitzgerald (St. Mel’s Roman Catholic Church), Mervyn Henderson, M.A. (St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church), H. G. Ford, (Methodist Church), and Mr. Aitchison. The Anzac resolution was adopted, and during the evening, solos were rendered by Misses Aitchison, M. Smith, and Mr. T. J. Wright, the Rev. M. Henderson officiating at the piano.

Zillmere, April 26-A public meeting was held in the Zillmere School of Arts in commemoration of Anzac day, and to unveil the honour board containing the names of 74 local boys who have enlisted. Mr. Joseph Gibson (chairman of the Kedron Shire Council), occupied the chair, and after his opening address, he moved a resolution adopted by the Anzac Day Commemoration Committee. Speeches were also delivered by the Rev. Otway, Messrs. Eagle, T. Bridges, M.L.A., Rev. Sumner, and F. Macdonnell (recruiting sergeant). Appropriate hymns were sung by the audience, and songs by the State school pupils, and a solo by Mr. Marquis. Miss Millard and Miss Fordham presided at the piano. At 9 o’clock, the audience stood silent for one minute in memory of our fallen heroes.

Lowood, April 26-On Anzac Day, Methodist services were held at Lowood, Lark Hill, and Fernvale. At night a public meeting was held at Lowood, when a resolution of sympathy was carried, standing, to those bereaved. A special address was given by the Rev. W. C. Kleindienst the new Methodist minister.

Helidon, April 26- A memorial service was held in the Methodist Church on the morning of Anzac Day.

Roma, April 26- Services were held in the churches yesterday morning and were largely attended. The business houses remained closed until 10 o’clock. In the evening a meeting was held in the Hibernian Hall, which was filled to overflowing. The Mayor, Dr. Merrillees, presided. The King’s message was read, the National Anthem sung, and addresses were given by Revs A. E. Henry, James Muir, Father Hennessy, and Mr. W. Rothery, the Anzac motion was moved by Mr. T. A. Spencer, and seconded by Mr. W. G. Mayne, Miss O’Dean contributed a solo, the Roma Pipe Band rendered “Flowers of the Forrest,” and an item was given by pupils of the Convent School. A flag donated by Mrs. Duncombe, was presented by Mr. R. E. Burton to the Roma High School. A poem entitled “The Day,” set to music by Dr. Merrillees, was rendered by Mr. Radford. At 9 o’clock the audience stood and observed silence for a minute.

Gatton. April 26- The fallen soldiers’ monument was tastefully decorated on Anzac Day by Mrs. Bishop and staff, five wreaths in memory of local fallen soldiers adorning the structure. Services were held in the church in the morning. The unveiling of the Tarampa Shire Honour Board, a highly ornamental piece of work with silky oak panels, on which are to be inscribed nearly 300 names, was performed in the afternoon by Mrs. Conley, wife of the Chairman of the Tarampa Shire Council, and Councillor Conley addressed the very large gathering which had assembled for the occasion. Mr. B. James also spoke, and Private H. Hillier, a returned hero of the memorable landing, was introduced to the gathering. In the evening a representative audience, filled the School of Arts Hall, Mr. E. Whittle presiding. After reading the King’s message, the chairman gave an address, and he was followed in succession by Mr. W. D. Armstrong, M.L.A., Councillor James Logan, Rev Jos. Ebery, Recruiting Sergeant Lauchlan, Messrs J. J. O’Flynn and R. James. Silence was observed at 9 o’clock, followed by the playing of the “Dead March” in “Saul” by the Gatton Town Band under Mr. L. McGregor.

Beenleigh- April 26. On Tuesday morning services were held in several churches. A large audience attended the meeting at night, when M. Wilson presided. Mrs. Peachey, Mr Sommer, and Private H. Russell had seats of honour on the platform. Patriotic selections were rendered by the Logan Jubilee Brass band and Mr. T. A. Thorsburne. Addresses were delivered by the Rev. Nock (Methodist), Messrs W. T. Clarke, J. W. Dowd, F. McKenzie, and Mr. Walker (Anglican Church). At 9 o’clock the audience rose and remained silent for one minute, and the band then played the “Dead March.” Songs were rendered by Mrs. Alston, Messrs. E. L. Moran, and T. A. Thorsborne, and Captain Tungstall (Salvation Army), the accompaniment being played by Mrs. Stanfield and Miss L. Cahill. Little Miss Peachey gave a recitation. Private H. Russell was presented with a wristlet watch by Mr. W. T. Clarke, on behalf of his friends. The recipient, who was received with applause, suitable responded.

Laidley- All the business houses were closed from 10am to 1pm on Anzac day to allow of the employees attending the services of the various churches. At night a public meeting was held in the School of Arts Hall. There was a record attendance, the hall being filled and reserved costs were provided for residents having relatives on war service. The mayor (Alderman C. W. Hooper) presided, and with him on the platform were the members of the Laidley Town and Shire Councils, and prominent citizens. The mayor, after reading the King’s message, gave a strong address. A resolution embodying unswerving loyalty and devotion and unwavering assistance to our King and Empire, was moved by the Rev. W. Ethell, seconded by the Rev C. Truenian, and carried. At 9 o’clock the vast audience rose and stood in silence for one minute, after which Mrs. Jarrott (organist) played the “Dead March” in “Saul”

An important feature of the evening was the unveiling of the honour board, an imposing piece of workmanship in silky oak, with gilt lettering, and which bears the names of about 100 of all who have enlisted in the Laidley Town and Shire Council areas. The unveiling ceremony was performed by Mrs. T. J. Logan, wife of the late Major Logan, who was killed at Gallipoli. A short concert programme followed, items being rendered by Misses Lowry, John Jarrott, Alison Hooper, Mrs. and Miss Phyllis Jarrott, Messrs Ingram and Bell. Mrs Jarrott was an efficient accompanist.

WYNNUM. April 26.

Services were held in all the churches yesterday morning. In the evening a public meeting was held in the Star Picture Pavilion, when about 1400 persons were present. The stage had been enlarged so as to accommodate the large united choir and orchestra. Miss Renee Shearer, A.T.C.L., presided at the piano; and Mr. C. Dowerie acted as conductor. Miss L. Paton (soloist) sang, “Abide with Me,” and the choir rendered several hymns, including “Nearer my God to Thee.” The mayor, after reading the message from His Majesty the King, gave a stirring address. Other speakers were the Hon. Dr. W. Kidston, Rev. J. M. Teale (C.E.), Rev. W. Smith (Methodist), Mr. H. C. McMinn M.L.A., and the Hon. W. H. Barnes. Bugler R. Simpson sounded the “Last Post,” and the large audience remained silent, standing for one minute.

BEAUDESERT. April 26.

Services were held in all the churches on the morning of Anzac Day and there were large congregations. In the evening, a public meeting was held in the Technical Hall, the building being crowded. Alderman De B. B. Persse (Mayor of Beaudesert), presided, and there were on the platform the Revs.. C. M. P. Heath and W. Kidd, Messrs. G. D. Stanfield, S. H. Skipper, J. O’Shea, and several others. Patriotic resolutions were adopted unanimously. Mrs. Beet sang “Abide with Me,” and the whole audience joined in singing “Nearer my God to Thee.” Miss McKeering acted as accompanist, and played the “Dead March,” after the resolution of sympathy had been carried. At 9 o’clock, one minutes silence was carried.

KENMORE. April 26.

A public meeting in commemoration of the landing at Anzac was held in the Kenmore Hall on Tuesday might. Councillor J. N. Burnett, Chairman of the Indooroopilly Shire Council, occupied the chair, and there was a good attendance of residents. The chief item of the evening was the unveiling of an honour board by Mr. E. H. Macartney, M.L.A., the board bearing the names of a large number of residents of the district who have enlisted. Addresses were delivered by the Revs. G. L. Hunt and A. Hutchinson, and Mr. Macartney, the latter also reading the message from His Majesty the King, and moving the resolutions adopted at the various public meetings. The resolutions were seconded by Councillor J. McLennan and carried by acclamation. At 9pm the audience stood for a minute in silent prayer, after which the “Dead March” was played by Miss Gibson. During the evening Miss D. Watts rendered two solos, which were greatly appreciated.

MORVEN. April 26.

At 11am on Anzac Day, a united service was conducted in the church by the Rev. Mr. Burgess (Presbyterian).. At 8pm a public meeting was held in the hall, every seat being filled, while a large number stood outside. Councillor E. Lord (Victoria Downs Station) occupied the chair, and others on the platform were Messrs Robert and Colin Douglas, George Gordon (recruiting officer), McComb (State School teacher), Rev. Mr. Burgess, Mr. Victor Drury (who was deputed to attend by the Anzac Commemoration Committee, Brisbane), and the Morven scout troop. Mrs. Gordon presided at the organ, and Miss Elem accompanied on the violin. The Anzac resolution was proposed by the chairman, and carried unanimously. Mr. Drury spoke at some length on the happenings at Anzac on April 25, 1915, and feelingly referred to those who had laid down their lives for the Empire. The hymns, “Nearer my God to Thee,” and “Abide with Me,” were sung during the proceedings, and the meeting terminated with the singing of the National Anthem. At 9 o’clock, after the minute’s silence, Mrs. Gordon played the “Dead March” from Saul.

STANTHORPE. April 26.

Anzac Day was not observed as a close holiday. Services were held in some of the churches, morning and evening, but all the stores remained open. In the evening a well attended meeting was held in the Olympic Hall. The chairman of the shire council presided. Motions of loyalty and of sympathy with those whose loved ones had laid down their lives were adopted. The speakers included the Rev. E. Oerton, Mr. Shelford (town clerk), Private Stan Hind (a returned wounded Stanthorpe lad), Recruiting Sergeant Jones, and Isaac Swan. Musical items were rendered by Miss N. Prentice, and Messrs Auslebrook, Greaves and Fraser, and a recitation by Mr. I. Swan. At 9 o’clock, the audience stood for one minute silence, in respect to our fallen heroes, and then sang “Nearer my God to Thee.”

BLACKALL, April 26.

The Anzac Commemoration last night was well carried out and the Town Hall was filled. Alderman Murray (the mayor) presided, and the Revs. Mr. Freeman and Father Masterson also spoke. The minute’s silence was also observed, and the band played the “Dead March,” after which the bugle sounded the “Last Post.” The Rev Father Masterson recited Ogilvie’s “The bravest thing God ever made,” and appropriate items were rendered by other local citizens.

CLIFTON. April 26.

Anzac Day was observed by special services in the churches in the morning. A public meeting was held in the School of Arts at 8.30pm, there being a large and representative gathering. The platform was occupied by parents of soldiers at the Front, and the chairman of the shire council presided. A message from His Majesty the King was read by Mr. W. B. Ross. The four uniform motions were moved and seconded by Messrs. J. W. Armstrong (Pilton) and John Rooks (Nobby), W. H. P. Sully, and T. J. Fitzgerald, Rev. J. Elliott and G. J. W. Stanley, J. C. Gillam, and P. O’Reilly (King’s Creek), and were unanimously carried, the audience standing. During the evening, “Nearer my God to Thee,” and “Abide with Me,” were rendered. and Mr. R. Phillips sung “Crossing the Bar. At 9 o’clock a minute’s silence was observed.

2004

April 25th marks ANZAC Day, a day that unites the country in remembrance.

Albany has had a long tradition of embracing the day, with many people believing it was the site of the first ever Dawn Service.

This week the State Government (WA) honoured the Albany Dawn Service for it's historical significance.

However, there is conjecture over where in Australia the tradition of the Dawn Service began.

Joan Bartlett, an Archivist and Historian from Albany sets the record straight and debunks some of the myths.

The first service actually took place in Cairo on the anniversary in 1916. There was another in Westminster Abbey and another on the Domain in Sydney - but they weren't at dawn.

The Allies had lost 42,000 men and people were shocked. So when ANZAC day was announced as a memorial people simply shut up their shops and watched soldiers marching by. It was not until 1958 ANZAC day became an official holiday.

The first dawn service was in 1930 in Albany. There had been observances before at dawn but it was Arthur White who began the tradition of the dawn service and who first used those remarkable words from from the elegy For The Fallen, by English poet and writer Laurence Binyon:



"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

 

 

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GALLIPOLI

 

LANDING ON GALLIPOLI

By "Anzac"

Cummins and Campbell’s Magazine 1938

 

        On 24 April 1915, we were informed by Sir Ian Hamilton that our 9th Battalion had been chosen to make the landing for the 3rd Brigade. On the warship, H.M.S. Queen, we lay off the island of Tenedos, waiting for night to fall. At midnight we assembled on deck and clambered down the ship’s side to the boats below.

        Silently we left for land, but there was faint cheering from the British sailors. No demonstration was needed to interpret their feelings. With scarce a ripple on the water, our boats approached the shore. Everyone was prepared for a desperate encounter. When about fifty yards from land, a light flashed on us from the enemy’s fort at Gaba Tepe. Then a shrill whistle was heard from the cliffs, which was immediately followed by an inferno created by the Turkish machine guns. Bullets splashed all round the boats, and tore through the woodwork. The excitement of our men was intense, but the only thought was to get ashore. A seaman seized an oar to push our boat further on the land, and when he had finished his task he was shot dead.

        Although many lives were lost before landing, it is a wonder that the slaughter was not greater. The confusion was such that men jumped into the water up to their necks, with the object of struggling into cover from the bullets. In the darkness before the dawn, men gathered on the beach under a cliff. Packs were thrown off and bayonets fixed. At the same time, a machine gun overhead was pouring out its bullets upon landing boats.

        The first man ashore on the Peninsula was Lieutenant Chapman of the 9th, followed closely by Colonel Lee, Major Robertson, Major Salisbury, Captain Ryder, Dr. Butler and other men of the leading boat. After losing several stretcher-bearers in the deadly fire, Dr. Butler determined that a machine gun on the cliff must be silenced. With a revolver in his hand he waved to us to come on, and then started climbing in the lead. We followed readily, while bullets seemed to be whizzing in all directions. Sergeant Fowles and Patrick Courtney were on either side of me in the rush, and they were both struck dead. But the machine gun had to be taken; and the Turks stuck to their posts until they were bayoneted.

        Our next movement was in the direction of an entrenchment. The number of our forces was rapidly increasing, as new arrivals kept rushing forward. The machine gun was smashed so that it could not be used again. There was further climbing to perform, and it was absolutely necessary to pause at stages on the way to recover breath. Looking down we saw the British ships shelling the Turkish positions, while the Turks showered shrapnel over the landing places. Boat after boat was smashed under our eyes, and most of the occupants were either mangled or drowned.

        We were stirred deeply at the sight, and in response to the shout of “On, Queenslanders,” we fixed bayonets and advanced on the Turkish position. There was no further reserving of strength, and it seemed that we must drop from exhaustion. Then the enemy were observed to be approaching in force.

        From the best cover that we could find, we emptied our magazines into the Turks again and again. They were falling as thick as leaves. It seemed, however, that for every man who was killed, two others rose up in his place. Although our losses were but small, it soon became evident that we were greatly outnumbered. As the enemy were thoroughly well prepared, anything in the form of a surprise attack could gain no advantage. Under the circumstances we could do nothing but retire. A pitched battle should have resulted in our annihilation. We retreated slowly and in good order, although steadily the bullets flicked around us, and we left many of our men where they fell.

        When we reached some captured trenches, the British battleships began to open fire on the advancing Turkish hordes. The Queen Elizabeth, Triumph, London, Canopus, Swiftsure, Majestic, and a number of destroyers poured out avalanches of shells, which crumpled up the Turks and prevented a counter attack. All day long and all through the following night the dreadful noise continued. Water was scarce, wounded and dying men were all around us in agony, and our rifle barrels were almost red hot with continual firing.

        On Tuesday afternoon, the enemy renewed the attack with vigour, and our position looked very serious. We had been without sleep for nearly sixty hours, and the water was all gone. We were so impressed with the feeling that the end had come, many of us shook hands- as we thought, for the last time. No one had the slightest idea of shifting ground. We had firmly resolved to fight on and die where we were.

        Our rifle fire was maintained without faltering. The Turks fell thick before us, and at length began to withdraw. But had they guessed our condition, and the weakness of the line which held our trenches, they should have pressed on to victory. On Wednesday we managed to remove some of the wounded to the beach. It was risky work for the stretcher-bearers, and many of them were shot down on the unprotected beach.

        In the afternoon word came that the Australians were to be relieved, and never was a message more welcome. In the small hours of Thursday morning, a large force of British marines took our places.

        Staggering with weariness, and almost overcome with exhaustion, we reached a place of safety on the seashore; and there we slept for many hours. On Friday the roll was called. The losses were shocking to everybody, and were the cause of general gloom. Later in the day a few stragglers arrived, who were greeted with cheers and hearty handshakes; but when the final count was arrived at, the survivors were shown to number 420 officers and men out of a Battalion of 1,100. And this was only one small detachment of the Anzac forces.

        During the six or seven months on Gallipoli 8,587 Australians were killed and 19,367 were wounded. Between the 8th and 20th of December, the evacuation was carried out without any casualties. Several sound drubbings had been inflicted on the Turks, which taught them to keep at a distance. 80,000 men were withdrawn as well as 5,000 horses and 200 guns. Three weeks later the British troops at Helles were removed with similar success.

        It is notable that in the Great war 330,000 Australian troops were sent overseas. Amongst these the total casualties were 226,073 or 68 per cent. The United Kingdom showed casualties of 52 per cent, Canada 51 per cent, and South Africa rather more than 8 per cent.

        The number of Australians killed, died or missing was 59,258.

 

HOW THE DIGGERS

WENT TO WAR

AUSTRALIA’S FIRST

EXPEDITIONARY

FORCE

Cummins and Campbell Magazine 1938

 

        It was on 21 October 1914, that the Orvieto, flagship of the 28 vessels comprising the fleet which carried Australia’s first Expeditionary Force to the War, pulled out from Port Melbourne.

        Before that day there had been much maritime activity around the coasts of Australia. The ships of the Australian Navy had been prepared. The Australia, the Dreadnought flagship of our “sure shield and defence,” had by her mere presence saved the seaboard cities from attack. Except for her, Von Spee’s squadron would have raided our shores. With a naval fleet the Berrima had carried our Pacific Expeditionary force to German New Guinea.

        But the Orvieto fleet was different. Here was an armada, a fleet such as had never before embarked on such a voyage, a fleet which ran great risks but got through successfully, a fleet which had with it H.M.A.S. Sydney, the winner of Australia’s first sea battle. The date of the Orvieto’s sailing was auspicious.

        For most of those who participated in or watched the departure of those ships from Port Melbourne it may well be that the full implications were not grasped. There is a sense of security about a great and well-ordered city, about a land-locked and well known harbour, about large, solid-looking steamers. There were, too, merchantmen in their every-day paint and colours, for navy-grey and camouflage had not yet come to turn them more ostensibly into ships of war. Even the crowds of khaki troops on board could not effect a transformation. Yet ships of war they were, and they might easily have suffered heavily long before they had crossed the Indian Ocean after leaving Australia.

        The convoy was only 55 miles from the Emden when Australia’s first sea fight took place. Not long before the R.M.S. Osterley had passed the fleet close to. Had she been captured later by the Emden it is odds on that the German would have learned of her proximity to the convoy, and a sort tale for Australia might have followed.

        Von Muller, the Emden’s commander, himself said that had he known of the convoy, he would have attacked, and that he would have considered his chances of success great.  He would have torpedoed an escorting cruiser and in the excitement he would have got among the troopships. And he thought he would have sunk half of them before he himself was finished. Yes! 21 October 1914 was an auspicious day for Melbourne and Australia.

        Like so many of those aboard them, many of the ships that steamed in three long lines from Albany after the convoy had been formed in the West Australian port have gone. Were an attempt made to re-form that convoy today, there would be many gaps in the divisions, Omrah, Afric, Miltiades, Wiltshire, Geelong, Shropshire, Medic- here are some that have gone. Orvieto, too, went to the breaking-up yard about five years ago. But they did their part in writing Australia’s history. 

        Some of those ships which carried the first of our men are still regular visitors to Australia. One is the Themistocles. She led the starboard division of the second contingent, which left in December, 1914. All the three leaders of that convoy are still familiar in our ports. And if 21 October 1914 was a suitable sailing date for the first contingent, how about the suitability of the names of the three division leaders of the second?

        Bearing the name of a great sea adventurer, Ulysses was flagship. Themistocles, called after the far-seeing Athenian who raised his country to sea domination and smashed the Persian power at Salamis, led the starboard line. The port line leader, Ceramic, is perhaps of the earth earthy by name, but it would be Ægean clay and, therefore, suitable.

        The Emden had gone before the second contingent set sail, but the voyage was not without its thrills. The Konigsberg was still somewhere round the shores of East Africa, and memories of a tense few minutes off Sokotra come to mind.

        The Themistocles was the only ship in the convoy that carried guns. She had two 4.7 quick firers mounted on her poop. They had been put there- the shadows of coming events- in 1913. There were no escorting cruisers, but Berrima; returned from New Guinea, was in the convoy towing AE2, the Australian submarine which later did such good work in Turkish waters.

        Colombo, where Themistocles  and Berrima caused Sir John Monash some worry with men on the spree ashore, was behind. The voyage was proceeding smoothly. Then, one fine morning, the masts and funnels of an unknown cruiser were raised on the starboard beam, the vessel’s coarse converging with that of the convoy.

        From the flagship came the reassuring message that the stranger was possibly an enemy, and to the Themistocles the inspiring command was given to prepare to break away from the convoy and engage the enemy with her 4.7 pop guns, while the Berrima slipped AE2, which would endeavour to torpedo the cruiser while the convoy scattered. Fortunately, Themistocles was not called upon to fight another Salamis. The stranger turned out to be the Royal Indian Marine ship Dufferin. The voyage continued without incident.

        And so on, past Perim, past Port Tewfik, to the Canal, where war, in the shape of sandbags protecting the bridge- for there had been skirmishes with the Turks on the eastern desert, and an attack was made on El Kantar- became apparent. Vignettes remain in memory. A khaki-painted battle-ship, moored in the canal…Troops- Gurkhas, New Zealanders, Sikhs, Bengal Lancers…A French warship, and the crashing of the “Marseillaise”…Sepoys, Gurkhas, King’s Own Scottish Borderers, Australians.

        There were calls, greetings, cheers. “Who are you?’ And a jocular message from the bank, “Are you soldiers?” Every moment held a thrill, a glow of patriotic pride.

        Alexandria. And, for a while, goodbye to the sea and ships…until the gathering at Mudros.

        The Mediterranean was an unpleasant sea in those days, a sea of dark black nights, when the transports raced unescorted and without lights; of days, sunny and calm, or stormy and grey, when they zigzagged from port to port; of bustle and business in Mudros Harbour, where there was such an array of warships, hospital ships, trawlers, troopers, submarines, sailors, motor barges, launches, as had never been seen before nor has been seen since.

        Such comings and goings, transshipments, embarkings, disembarkations, until the day of landings…and after.

            Navy and merchant service, they worked together, and throughout those Gallipoli days, from the landing to the evacuation, they did their part. Truly, then, did those who went down to the sea in ships see the wonders of the deep- the wonders of deep devotion, the great courage, the undying faith of the men who made Anzac and made Australia a nation. 1