This year, 6 August marked one hundred years since the most brutal and tragic battles of World War I – The Battle of Lone Pine.
For many Australians who visit Gallipoli, it is the beaches and the stories of the 25 April landings that captures their imagination.
But the fighting on the ridges, at Lone Pine, Quinns Post, The Nek and Chunuk Bair is what defines the campaign. The August Offensive is where eight out of the nine Victoria Crosses won by Australians during the Gallipoli Campaign were awarded. It is also where huge numbers of men fought and died over a space of parched soil no bigger than a few tennis courts.
The August Offensive was the last throw of the dice, the final attempt to break out of the low heights and push on to the rises overlooking the prized Dardanelles.
Launched at dusk on 6 August 1915 the battle of Lone Pine was part of a diversionary attack to distract Turkish attention from the thrust of Britain’s planned August Offensive.
The attack at Lone Pine signaled the start of the allied August offensive in the ANZAC area.
At 4.30 pm on 6 August intensive from both land and naval guns, pounded the Turkish positions at 400 Plateau – Lone Pine, The bombardment was the climax of a slow but constant shelling of the ANZAC front line over the previous three days.
As soon as the bombardment ceased at 5.30 pm, Australian soldiers of the 1st Brigade leapt from trenches and underground firing positions to rush the Turkish front line at Lone Pine.
Many Australians entered the front-line trenches through gaps in the covering, as the Turks had not roofed the entire run of these trenches.
Once in the trench system they worked their way back toward the front line or set up barricades to defend their new forward posts. In this way, fighting through a maze of trenches, the Australians reached their objectives within the first half-hour of the opening assault.
The bloody battle resulted in more than two thousand Australian casualties and is now remembered more for the lives sacrificed than as anything won or lost.
Seven bravery awards, The Victoria Cross, were awarded for soldiers as the fought to dislodge Turkish troops from the trenches.
My forebear Sir George Houston Reid, who as First Australian High Commissioner to Britain, had arranged for the Australian troops to be trained in Egypt, since as a Scot he decided that this would be better than in England.
According to his diaries he believed that the Australians were used by the British to help weaken the Turkish army at whatever cost in casualties.
Dr Anne Fairbairn AM is an accomplished poet and writer. She is passionate about First Nation peoples, Muslims and Arabic literature and culture. She is based in Sydney