The Spirit - Gallipoli Landing 1915
In 1915, after weeks of intensive training, the soldiers of the
Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) were carried in
ships from the island of Lemnos to force a landing on the Gallipoli
peninsula. Early on the morning of 25th April, in complete darkness,
troops climbed down from battleships of the Royal Navy into small
boats. Steam pinnaces then towed lines of rowing boats, packed
with soldiers, toward the shore in strict silence. In order to
prevent an accidental discharge from a rifle, their magazines
were empty; the men were under orders that no shots were to be
fired before daylight, and the attack was to be undertaken at
bayonet point. The sea was as smooth as satin.
The Turkish defenders became aware of their approach and opened
up with small arms fire, causing casualties. Nearing the shore,
the steamboats cast off their tows and the sailors rowed the boats
furiously towards the beach. The first element landed under cover
of darkness around a little promontory topped by a hill called
Ari Burnu. They advanced up the steep slopes and captured the
Turkish machine gun position at the top.
Anzacs of the second element followed quickly, carried in River
class destroyers which approached to within 500 yards of the shore.
These men entered the rowing boats and were landed on a much wider
shoreline (both north and south of Ari Burnu). My painting shows
soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Brigade landing in the little bay
which became known as Anzac Cove. Ari Burnu is the hill at the
northern end of the beach. As dawn breaks, the destroyers can
be seen offshore: from right to left, HMS Ribble, Usk, Chelmer
and Scourge. (Other destroyers were to the left, out of view).
They were obliged to wait for the return of the rowing boats before
they could clear all their troops. Beyond the destroyers are the
transport ships Galeka and Novian. Standing farther out to sea
is the battleship HMS London, which had discharged soldiers of
the first wave. In the far distance is Suvla Bay.
The men were ordered to fix bayonets the moment they landed from
the boats; they then doubled across the shingle, quickly removed
their packs and loaded their magazines with five or ten rounds
before scaling the steep slopes. They climbed up the steep gullies
in the sandstone rocks, engaging Turkish riflemen hidden in the
scrubby vegetation. The Turkish artillery did not open fire on
them until about an hour after the first Anzacs landed.
Further waves of troops were disembarked from ships, and by noon
some 10,000 men were ashore at Anzac Cove.