Saturday, 8 August 2015

Lone Pine and The Nek

This week marked the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Lone Pine and the Light Horse charge at the Nek at Gallipoli.  Both of these events were part of the August Offensive which was posted about last week.  The Battle of Lone Pine occurred between 6 and 9 August 1915. Initially conceived to be a diversion from attempts by New Zealand and Australian units to force a breakout from the ANZAC perimeter on the heights of Chunuk Bair and Hill 971. The Lone Pine attack, launched by the 1st Brigade AIF in the late afternoon of 6 August 1915 pitched Australian forces against formidable entrenched Turkish positions, sections of which were securely roofed over with pine logs. In some instances the attackers had to break in through the roof of the trench systems in order to engage the defenders. The main Turkish trench was taken within 20 minutes of the initial charge but this was the prelude to 4 days of intense hand-to-hand fighting, resulting in over 2,000 Australian casualties.

This battle was significant for Ballarat for two important reasons. Firstly the 8th Battalion, made up of men from Ballarat and country Victoria, took part at Lone Pine and as a result were among the 2,000 casualties, and secondly Golden Point resident William Dunstan was awarded his Victoria Cross for his actions at Lone Pine. (ome information courtesy of The Australian War Memorial)

Australian Soldiers in captured Turkish trenches following the Battle of Lone Pine. Photo courtesy of Australian War Memorial  AWM 1514

 The charge at the Nek was launched on the morning of 7 August 1915, again as a second diversionary action, when three regiments of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, 8th, 9th and 10th Light Horse were to attack Russells Top and force the Turkish army from the positions they had held sine April 25th. As the Nek was a narrow ridge, The Light Horse serving as infantry without their horses were forced to attack the Turkish line head on.

The majority of people are familiar with the Charge of the Nek via its depiction in Peter Weir's film Gallipoli.  The film shows the  terrible loss of life that followed the charge, but also the bravery of the men that took part. The 8th Light Horse suffered 234 casualties, 154 fatal; and the 10th, suffered 138 casualties, 80 fatal.

The charge of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at The Nek, 7th August 1915 by George Lambert. Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ART07965.

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