View of the beach on the day of the landing at ANZAC Cove in World War I, image courtesy State Library of SA B-72717
The Australian Landings at Gallipoli
The weather was calm off the coast of the Gallipoli Peninsula (now part of modern-day Turkey) on the night of 24-25 April. Some 40,000 Ottoman troops were on the peninsula, and another 30,000 were nearby.
On that morning the men of the Australian 1st Division’s 3rd Brigade (the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th Battalions) were the first to go ashore. Before dawn they left their transport ships, climbed into row boats and were towed towards the shore. At 4.29 am the first of the row boats landed on the shore, and almost immediately the Ottoman’s opened fire. The terrain that greeted them was a narrow beach where steep hills met the water, and the Ottoman forces fired down upon them from these hills.
The order was for the troops to push forward towards the third ridge – the target for the first day.
Within 15 minutes some had reached the top of the first ridge point.
The second wave of Australian soldiers was now arriving onshore, and with the element of surprise now gone, they were met with heavy fire. Upon landing, they too began to fight their way up the hills towards their objective.
At 5.30am, the commander of the 3rd Brigade, Sinclair-MacLagan made an assessment that the third ridge was too distant to capture immediately and decided to consolidate his troops on the second ridge.
Casualties from the landing and the first day’s fighting were significant. It was difficult to set up casualty clearing stations that were protected from enemy fire and there was enormous pressure on stretcher bearers, who lacked adequate equipment and the suffering of the wounded was significant. About 2000 wounded were evacuated overnight on 25-26 April.
Over the following days, the Ottomans launched a number of counter-attacks, but the Anzacs held their positions. On 1 May, four Battalions from the Royal Naval Division had come ashore as reinforcements, and the exhausted Anzacs were about to withdraw and regroup.
Meanwhile, the Ottoman forces, under Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) responded with reinforcements and repositioning of artillery.
CEW Bean noted that South Australians Arthur Blackburn and Philip Robin probably penetrated further inland than anyone else on that day
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