RECEPTION TO ANZACS
SERVICE AT WESTMINSTER ABBEY
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
“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
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
Cairo, Wednesday- St. Mark’s Church, Alexandria,
was crowded on Anzac Day, when a simple. touching commemoration service was
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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."
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.
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.