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Australians and New Zealanders began to adopt more systematic methods: When a
Turkish officer appeared they deliberately withheld their fire until he had
assembled the full company of his men in the open.
Then all were destroyed together. At some points it became a kind of
game to pick off
the survivors as they ran back and forth across the battlefield like terrified
rabbits, in search of cover. Here and there some few of the Turks did
manage get into the Anzac trenches, but they survived only for a few minutes;
there was a quick and awful bayoneting and then the tide receded again.
As daylight broke the battle assumed the character of a hunt, with the Turkish serving in the role of beaters driving the game on to the guns. A wild, almost berserk excitement filled the Australian and New Zealand ranks. In order to get a better view many of the soldiers jumped up and sat astride the parapets and from there they blazed away at the screaming mass of Turks before them. The Anzac soldiers who had been held in reserve could not bear to be left out of the fight; they came pressing forward offering to pay for a place on the firing line.
Moorehead in his famous work "Gallipoli" (p. 149-150) gives a very lively and
moving description of the massacre that took place on 19th May, day of the
major Turkish attack on the Anzac lines :
Hardly five minutes had gone by when a shout of warning went up from one of the outpost, and a company of Turks was seen advancing down a ravine known as wire gully in the centre of the line. There had been no preliminary bugle call, none of the usual shouts of “Allah, Allah”: merely these shadowy forms in the half-darkness and the long line of bayonets. The Australians opened fire from either side of the gully, and immediately the enemy bugles sounded and the charge began. Everywhere along the line the Turks jumped up from their hiding places and in a dark cloud swept forward over the broken ground.
At most places the oncoming enemy had to cross two or three hundred yards before they reached the Anzac entrenchments, and so there was half a minute or more when they were exposed in the open and quite defenseless. Very few of them survived even that amount of time. There was a kind of cascading movement in the battle; directly one line of soldiers had come over the parapet and been destroyed another line formed up, emerged into view and was cut dawn. For the first hour it was simply a matter of indiscriminate killing, but presently the
(*) descibes the events of 19th May (6th May 1331 in the Ottoman calender in
his poem “Human landscapes from my country” as follows :
… I was wounded in eight places on
The night of 6th May
We were fighting the English
Their trenches so close
Their grenades reaching our trenches
And ours theirs
We rose to attack
I was hit before taking three steps …
After a while,
I lifted my head and looked up :
Stars in the sky.
Our unit had moved back.
Trenches of English firing continuously.
Over my head.
I started to crawl back …
The fallen martyrs touch me,
Actually I am touching them …
Some with blood in their open mouths,
Some face down,
Some on their knees,
Some with guns in their hands …
(*) Turkish poet, communist and peace activist, winner of the World Peace prize in 1950. Translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konut
We mounted over a plateau and down through gullies filled with thyme, where there lay about 4000 Turkish dead. It was indescribable. On was grateful for the rain and the grey sky. A Turkish Red Crescent man came and gave me some antiseptic wool with scent on it, and this they renewed frequently. There were two wounded crying in that multitude of silence. The Turks were distressed, and Skeen strained a point to let them send water to the first wounded man, who must have been a sniper crawling home. I walked over to the second, who lay with a high circle of dead that made a mound round him, and gave him a drink from my water-bottle, but Skeen called me to come on and I had to leave the bottle. Later a Turk gave it back to me. The Turkish captain with me said: "At this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep."
We were wide
awake now, surely an attack was meditated. Yes! The enemy was advancing in
mass formation. Our fellows had received orders to allow the Turks to come
within ten paces and then to pour the lead into them. Our rifles held eleven
cartridges, and are, in every way, very formidable little weapons.
“Allah! Allah! Allah!” They are coming with leaps and bounds, their dismal, howling cry rending the night. Closer and closer, they are almost upon us! “Fire!” yells an officer. We comply willingly, riffles crack and rattle down our line, the high-pitched music of machine-guns being audible above the din. (*)
"Twelve Months" with the Anzacs, (Brisbane 1916), E.F. Hanmam, p. 123
The Turks had not buried their men as well as we did, but now I noted three Turkish cemeteries at Old Anzac -two on the southern side of Wire Gully near
"Turkish Cemetery in Chatal Dere" (Behind Mortar Ridge) reproduced from "Gallipoli Mission", (Crows Nest 1990), Charles E. W. Bean.
On 24th May, 5 days after this fatal attack, a cease-fire was agreed upon to bury the numurous death. Aubrey Herbert was present and describes it in his book "Mons, Anzac and Kut" (p. 123) :
It was in this area that many of the Turkish soldiers who were killed during the attack of May 19 were buried in mass graves during the ceasefire of May 24.
"Gallipoli Battlefield Guide", (Istanbul 2006), Gürsel Göncü & Şahin Aldoğan, p.41
Last updated : 01/12/06
its opening towards Legge Valley, one of these well-kept, the other a single dishevelled trench. A third lay in Legge Valley itself, and there were also a few scattered tombs.