Ross Smith, image courtesy State Library of South Australia B6101
Smith, Ross – August 1915
Towards the end of July we began to hear about the long expected attack on Hill 971 & Suvla Bay.
An Army Corp of English troops were to land at Suvla & get round north of 971 & the N.Z. Inf & our 4th Inf. were to go for the Big Hill, as we call it, supported by the Tommies.
We at Anzac & further south were to make a big show & keep the Turks there.
It all looks so simple on paper but that little job coast us about 25,000 men all told. …Being in charge of our bomb throwers kept me up nearly all of every night besides my ordinary work. However on the 12th day when I had decided to chuck the bomb job I was promoted to Regt. Sgt. Major.
But to get back to the Big Scrap.–… 5 P.M. Aug. 6th was the time when the ball opened at Anzac. All our guns were going & it was sweet music to our ears to hear them after the weeks of quietness. At 5.30 P.M. 6000 Aust. Inf. attacked the Lone Pine trenches in 3 lines. The first line just jogged along with our shrapnel bursting beautifully in front of them. Not many of the poor fellows got there but the second & third lines carried all before them. It was a fine scrap.
Our Regt. was the weakest in the Brigade so we were held in reserve…. Next morning Aug. 7th at daybreak out went the 1st 160 of them, god knows what for but I don’t, & against about 1000 Turks. They got into their first two lines of trenches but were blown out again by bombs & straggled back. They had 140 casualties.
At Quinn’s an order got mixed up & some charged & some did not. Major Logan got the order to go at his part of the trench & hopped out saying “Come on boys, it’s murder but we’ve got to do it.” He’s still out there poor beggar. 28 went over the top & one got back, the others are out there still. There was literally a sheet of lead coming over the trench & lots got hit getting out & fell back. We were down at the bottom of the hill & our share was watching the wounded coming down.
About 6 A.M. my squadron was sent up to help the 1st … who were just coming in. There were only a few men in the trenches & we expected a counter attack any minute. The left of our position attacked too but also with disastrous results…
Our guns opened up again at daylight with high explosive on the trenches just in front of us & we were soon black with dust and dirt.
So much for our Anzac Scrap & we did the job we had to, holding a large number of Turks there while the 971 lot went forward. All that morning we could hear their rifle fire getting further & further inland & at last the N.Z. Inf were on top of 971 after 3 miles of hard fighting in a hot sun. Their Mounted Brigade did very well too but there are only a few left and at roll call only 7 men answered out of one Squadron.
All the New Zealanders did very well, remarkably well in fact considering they were as weak as cats after so long on the Peninsular. Our 4th Inf. Brigade were on their left & did well too.
We held 971 that night & it was next day I think that we lost it …..
Suvla Bay was further north again & I don’t know much about that part but we captured a good lot of ground all along that front..
To return to Anzac.– When things quietened down a bit our Regt. took over Quinn’s Post, a very different Quinn’s from the one I first knew. Now there are nice deep wide trenches & in places overhead cover & steel loop holes & all the way along netting is put up high in front of the trench to stop bombs coming in. … We were shorthanded & the men had little rest & the dead out in front didn’t improve matters. The men got as weak as cats and 90% of them at least were suffering from dysentry & the like diseases.
My opinion of the Turk has risen considerably & he fights a clean & square fight
The Suvla Bay affair was an awful failure & a great disappointment to us all & cost so many lives.