Section 3: Gallipoli

Gallipoli: what happened on 25 April 1915?

It was at 4.29 am in the eerie pre-dawn on 25 April 1915 when a Turkish outpost signalled the alarm. Below, barely discernible on the dark waters off Ari Burnu, a small plateau jutting out into the Aegean Sea, steamboats towed rowboats carrying Australians to the Gallipoli shoreline. There are very few instances in which the deeds of ordinary people fashion a whole chapter in a nation’s history and forge a national identity. This first wave of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was doing just that. A minute later, the first boatloads reached the shingly beach and clambered out, under fire.

The plan

The landing at Gallipoli was one of the more imaginative strategies of the First World War. In eastern Europe the Germans had delivered a series of blows to the Russians who, fearing a second offensive by Turkish forces from the south, appealed to their allies for assistance. Hard-pressed by the Germans on the Western Front and with Egypt threatened by the Turks, the British and French could not afford for the Russians to collapse. They agreed to attack Turkey. Their objective was to wrest control of the Dardanelles and re-establish sea communications with Russia through the Black Sea.

An attempt by warships in February and March 1915 to break through the straits was defeated. A plan to land troops at Gallipoli was then drawn up. It was actually a series of landings, originally planned for 23 April, but pushed back by bad weather:

  • the main landing by British troops at Cape Helles, in the south, to seize forts and advance north
  • across the strait, on the Asiatic side, a landing by French troops to destroy artillery batteries before withdrawing and going to Cape Helles
  • at the northern end of the peninsula, near Bulair, where the peninsula is narrowest, a feint by British marines to confuse the Turks and
  • in the centre, the landing by Australian and New Zealand troops to block any Turkish troops retreating from the south and reinforcements coming from the north.
  • a map showing the landing beaches can be found here.
  • it is worth remembering that although we refer to British and French forces, in fact soldiers were drawn from many parts of the empires controlled by these countries. The ‘French’ included people born in France, but also Senegalese as well as other colonial troops. The ‘British’ included Englishmen, Irishmen, Welshmen, Scots, Indians, Gurkhas, Australians, New Zealanders and Newfoundlanders.

The plan was for the Anzac and British troops to link up for a final push across to the Dardanelles.

Mervyn James Herbert—South Australia
Mervyn James HERBERT

Mervyn James Herbert was born on 15 September 1887 in South Ballarat, Victoria to parents Ralph and Robina. After spending his youth in New Zealand, Herbert returned to Ballarat to complete a diploma in horticulture before joining the Victorian Scottish Regiment in 1907. In 1911 he moved to Adelaide, married Dorothy Royals and continued his military service; first with the South Australian Scottish Infantry, then the 78th Infantry Battalion, where he was Officer Commanding ‘F’ Company. By the time war was declared in August 1914, Herbert had been promoted to captain and was subsequently one of the first company commanders selected for the 10th Battalion. He embarked from Adelaide on 20 October aboard HMAT Ascanius as part of the AIF’s first convoy.

Herbert’s ‘D’ Company was one of the first to land at Gallipoli on 25 April, with his unit establishing itself on 400 Plateau before two of its scouts ventured beyond Scrubby Knoll—further than any other AIF troops would get during the entire campaign. Herbert continued to lead the company until the afternoon of 27 April when he was wounded in the left shoulder and right hand by an enemy sniper’s bullet.

Evacuated from Anzac Cove on the evening of 28 April, Herbert was treated at Alexandria, Egypt, before returning to South Australia on 3 August. However, he quickly returned to the front and by 12 March 1916 he had been promoted to major, having transferred to lead the newly formed 50th Battalion’s ‘B’ Company. In this capacity Herbert served at Pozières and was wounded at Mouquet Farm before fighting at Ypres Salient as the Battalion’s second-in-command. Following this, Herbert spent the remainder of the war in England, where he held multiple administrative posts. A particular highlight of this period occurred on 7 February 1917 when Herbert acted as Escort to His Majesty King George V at the opening of Parliament.

Following the war Herbert returned home to his wife and three children in South Australia. His father and two brothers had also enlisted and survived the war. Herbert went on to serve as an area officer in the Yorke Peninsula before leaving military service and becoming a vigneron at Moorook on the Murray River. Having relocated to West Croydon, Mervyn Herbert passed away on 14 August 1964, aged 76.


P Rosenzweig, ‘The first three days: memories of the Anzac landing’, Sabretache, 54.1, March 2013, pp. 36–47.

‘Mervyn James Herbert’, The AIF Project, website, accessed 13 March 2015.

‘Captain Mervyn Herbert: former Ballarat man’, The Ballarat Courier, 13 May 1915, p. 4, accessed 13 March 2015.

Alfred Plumley Derham—Victoria

Alfred Plumley Derham was born on 12 September 1891 in Camberwell, Victoria to parents Thomas and Ellen. Having attended Scotch College, he studied medicine at the University of Melbourne, but deferred midway through his course to enlist in the AIF during August 1914. He was posted to the 5th Battalion and subsequently commissioned. Derham embarked HMAT Orvieto from Melbourne on 21 October 1914 as part of the first AIF convoy. He was wounded upon landing at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, but his bravery in enduring battle for another five days resulted in him being awarded the Military Cross and being Mentioned in Despatches. Following his time at Gallipoli, during which he was appointed to the staff of the 2nd Brigade, he transferred to France before returning to Australia at the end of 1916 to complete his medical degree.

Derham married Frances Anderson in July 1917 and established his own private medical practice in 1920. He also became the city of Kew’s official medical officer and an honorary physician at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, on account of his specialisation in children’s diseases. However, his connection with the military endured; he served as a lieutenant-colonel in the Australian Army Medical Corps during the inter-war years and in April 1940 was appointed as a colonel in the AIF. Derham was captured in the February 1942 fall of Singapore and was subsequently held as a prisoner-of-war at Changi, Formosa and Manchuria. Returning to Australia in September 1945, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) the following year. Derham died from a heart attack on 26 June 1962 at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital in Melbourne, and was survived by his wife and four of his five sons.


J Grey, ‘Derham, Alfred Plumley (1891–1962)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, accessed 14 January 2015.

‘Alfred Plumley Derham’, The AIF Project, website, accessed 14 January 2015.

Figure 2: Unidentified men from the 1st Divisional Signal Company being towed towards Anzac Cove on the morning of 25 April 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Figure 2: Unidentified men from the 1st Divisional Signal Company being towed towards Anzac Cove on the morning of 25 April 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

The wrong beach?

Those who landed near Ari Burnu often commented on how they landed on ‘the wrong beach’. Wrong might be too strong a word but the boats were certainly more bunched up when they landed about a mile north of the loosely planned landing site. The reason is unclear, but most likely the naval ratings taking the troops ashore were disorientated and simply veered left.

This error gave the men a fighting chance. Had they landed on the ‘correct’ beach near Gaba Tepe, there would have been a slaughter (as at ‘Y’ Beach, one of the British landing sites at Cape Helles). Boats would have been shot up, and on the beach men would have been caught in barbed wire entanglements, against well-sited machine-guns. At Ari Burnu, the first wave came under fire from some of the 200 Turks in position at that time; some boats landing later were shot up, suffering heavier casualties. Most of the casualties on that first day occurred as men scrambled up the brush-entangled gullies leading off the beach, and over the ridges.

A long and terrible day

The objective was Gun Ridge, the third ridgeline inland from the beach. Troops pushed up and over gullies, ravines and spurs. It was hard-going under fire, and they broke into smaller groups to advance over tracks or through undergrowth. They crossed the first ridgeline, some reached the second and a few got to the third, but they were too scattered to hold on.

Figure 3: An excerpt from the 10th Infantry Battalion’s War Diary describing the landing at ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915.

Figure 3: An excerpt from the 10th Infantry Battalion’s War Diary describing the landing at ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915. The 3rd Brigade, which included the 10th Battalion, made up the screening force for the landing and was the first ashore. This excerpt includes the line ‘our landing was to be effected quite unopposed’. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

As the day wore on, the remainder of the ANZAC landed. There was confusion on the beach, as new troops and wounded men intermingled. ‘Stragglers’ (men separated from their units) were found at the beach or sheltering in the gullies, but officers led many of them back into action.

The Turkish local commander, Mustapha Kemal (later, Kemal Ataturk, President of Turkey) organised his force and counter-attacked. The Turks secured the high ground and pushed on. An evacuation of the ANZAC was suggested, but naval advice was that it would be impossible. With nowhere to retreat, the Australians and New Zealanders dug in. They fought tenaciously, with mounting casualties, to cling onto a small strip of land that came to be called Anzac.

The landing itself was a failure. The impossible had been asked of the men. There was no way that any troops could have landed, advanced four miles across hard terrain, taken a 45 mile stretch of ridgeline, and then withstood strong counter-attacks—all in the course of one day. What they did achieve was to secure a foothold and forge a legend.

The Gallipoli campaign cost the lives of more than 40,000 British Empire and French troops and 85,000 Turks.

Lieutenant-General Ewen George Sinclair Maclagan landed at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915 as the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Brigade. On 21 April 1915, Colonel Maclagan wrote the following letter to be read to members of the 3rd Brigade, in anticipation of the Gallipoli landings:

I had hoped to have been able to see the battalions of my brigade personally and put these matters before you. Circumstances have prevented this, so I am asking your commanding officers to read you this letter. It is necessary that you should understand that we are about to carry out a most difficult operation, Viz. ‘Landing on an enemy coast in the face of opposition’. Such an operation requires complex harmony of working between the Navy and the Army and unhesitating compliance with all orders and instructions.

You have been selected by the divisional commander as the covering force, a high honour, which we must do our best to justify. We must be successful at any cost. Whatever footing we get on land must be held onto and improved by pushing on to our objective, the covering position which we must get to as rapidly as possible, and once obtained must be held at all costs and even to the last man. In an operation of this kind there is no going back. We shall be reinforced as the Navy can land troops. And meantime ‘Forward’ is the word, until on our position, when ‘Hang on’ is what we have to do, until sufficient troops and guns are landed to enable us to push on. We must be careful and not give the enemy a chance of any kind; no smoking or lights or noise from midnight onwards till after daylight. Take every chance of reorganising (under cover if possible).

Attacks must be rapid, as the ground will allow. You will have to drop your packs; but carry tools forward as far as you can, it may mean saving lives later in the day. Until broad daylight the bayonet is your weapon, and when you charge, do so in as good a line as possible; one or two good pieces of bayonet work now may stand us in good stead later on. Every man must keep his eyes skinned and help his officers and non-commissioned officers to the utmost by reporting quickly things seen. Look out for your flanks. After taking a charger out shut the cartridge pocket. Once ashore don’t be caught without a charger in the magazine. Look after each cartridge as if it was a ten-pound note. Good fire orders, directions, control and discipline will make the enemy respect your powers, and give us all an easier task in the long run. Wild firing only encourages the enemy.

Keep your food and water very carefully; we don’t know when we shall get any more. Don’t show yourselves over the skyline, and give your position away, if you can avoid it. We must expect to be shelled when in our positions, but remember that is part of this game of war, and we must ‘stick it’, no matter what the fire. One thing I want you to remember all through this campaigning work is this, and it is most important: You may get orders to do something which appears in your position to be the wrong thing to do, and perhaps a mad enterprise. Do not cavil at it, but carry it out wholeheartedly and with absolute faith in your leaders, because we are after all only a very small piece on the board. Some pieces often have to be sacrificed to win the game, and after all it is to win the game that we are here. You have a very good reputation you have built up for yourselves, and now you have a chance of making history for Australia and a name for the Brigade that will live in history. I have absolute faith in you, and believe few, if any finer Brigades have been put to the test.  

(Cited in R Kearney, Silent voices: the story of the 10th Battalion AIF in Australia, Egypt, Gallipoli, France and Belgium during the Great War 1914–1918, Sydney, New Holland Publishers, 2005, pp. 76–77.)

Chronology of significant events during the remainder of the year

On 29 April 1915 HMAS AE2 was sunk in the Sea of Marmara. AE2 was the first submarine to penetrate the Dardanelles. For five days the AE2 carried out orders to disrupt Turkish shipping. When her torpedoes were spent and she was attacked by Turkish gunboats, the submarine was scuttled and her crew captured.

AE2’s commanding officer Captain Stoker was one of the subjects of the Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal’s  Inquiry into unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour.  The Tribunal’s 2013 report recommended that no further action be taken, stating:

The Tribunal therefore concluded that on both process and merits, the case was properly considered at the time, followed due process correctly and that Lieutenant Commander Stoker was appropriately honoured with a DSO [Distinguished Service Order].

On 15 May the Commander of the First Division AIF, Major General WT Bridges was shot in the leg by a sniper. He was evacuated immediately but died on 18 May while being transported to Egypt for treatment. His body was returned to Australia (the only person to receive this treatment until the Unknown Soldier in 1993) and his grave overlooks the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

On 18 May the Turks launched a major counter-attack, but by this time the Australian and New Zealand troops had had time to prepare proper defensive positions and the resultant slaughter of the Turkish forces is thought to have left 10,000 men dead or wounded. The stench of the dead bodies was so great that on 24 May a formal truce was declared to allow the Turkish dead to be buried. This was the last time that the Turkish forces attempted a major counter-offensive.

With the failure of the May counter-attack, things quietened down until August, when British troops landed at nearby Suvla, and the Anzacs and Gurkhas made supporting attacks at Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair and the Nek.

In ‘The August offensive at Anzac’ Robin Prior takes a new look at the strategy underlying the series of attacks at places such as Lone Pine, Nek, Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Hill 971 (Wartime, vol. 47, 2009).

The Battle for Lone Pine began on 6 August. The Lone Pine operation was planned as a diversion to draw Turkish reserves away from a major British attack to be launched at the northern end of the Australian and New Zealand position at Gallipoli. The Australians suffered more than 2,200 casualties at Lone Pine and the Turks over 5,000. Historian Peter Burness describes the battle and sets it in context in this article in Wartime.

Seven Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross for their bravery at Lone Pine. They are: Alexander Stewart BURTON, William DUNSTAN, John (Patrick) HAMILTON, Leonard Maurice KEYSOR, Alfred John SHOUT, William John SYMONS and Frederick Harold TUBB. A total of nine Victoria Crosses were awarded to Australians during the Gallipoli campaign.

Figure 4: Lieutenant (later Captain) William Symon’s Victoria Cross citation, for action during the Battle for Lone Pine.

Figure 4: Lieutenant (later Captain) William Symon’s Victoria Cross citation, for action during the Battle for Lone Pine. Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia.

On 7 August, units of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade fighting as infantry, attacked the Turks at the Nek (also known as the Battle of Sari Bair) with horrific results. The pre-attack artillery bombardment had ceased seven minutes early and New Zealand troops scheduled to attack from a different approach were unable to do so. The result was that 234 men of the 600 strong force lay dead and little was achieved.

The fighting at Hill 60 on 21 and 27 August in which Australian troops gave support to a larger British assault was the last major action of the Gallipoli campaign. The all-too-obvious stalemate of the campaign and the deterioration of the weather as winter approached convinced the high command that it was time to evacuate the troops. The evacuation is universally regarded as the best planned part of the whole venture thanks to the work of Major-General Birdwood’s Chief of Staff Brigadier General CBB White.

The evacuation of Anzac and Suvla began on 7 December and was completed by 20 December.

On 20 April 2009 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation released an online resource, Gallipoli: the first day. In ‘Anzac first: ABC relives Gallipoli online’, Lara Sinclair describes the new interactive website, outlining the sources and methods the ABC used to enable users to experience the first 24 hours of the Gallipoli campaign (Australian, 20 April 2009).

Gallipoli: frequently asked questions

Why did the Anzacs land at Gallipoli?

They were part of a British-French force attempting to capture the Dardanelles and open a route to Russia through the Black Sea. They were selected because their training had progressed and being based in Egypt, they were readily available.

Who was first ashore?

We can never know for certain. An article by Peter Burness in the Australian War Memorial’s Wartime magazine discusses the claims of three men. CEW Bean, official historian, concluded it was possibly Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, 9th Battalion. The Queenslander wrote home: ‘I happened to be in the first boat that reached the shore, and, being in the bow at the time, I was the first man to get ashore’. One of his men later confirmed this. Chapman was killed at Pozieres, France on 6 August 1916.

How many Australians died on the first day?

We do not really know. In bitter fighting after the landing, the details of many men’s deaths were sketchy. First to Fall, a CD-ROM by the Australian Defence Force Academy, names 621 men. The Roll of Honour lists 752 men as having died on 25 April 1915, although some of these are deaths are administratively classified as ‘on or about’ 25 April, and could have been later. Statistics of the military effort of the British Empire during the Great War, 1914–1920, provides a figure of 860 deaths from all causes between 25 April and 30 April.

When did the Gallipoli campaign end?

The evacuation of Anzac and Suvla was completed on 20 December 1915, a few days short of eight months after the landing. The campaign ended on 9 January 1916 when British forces completed the evacuation of Cape Helles.

What other nationalities were at Gallipoli?

The First World War was fought by competing empires, albeit empires in decline, and inevitably the men who fought came from different parts of the globe. The British-French force included men from these countries and their colonies. The ‘French’ included people born in France but also Senegalese as well as other colonial troops. The ‘British’ included Englishmen, Irishmen, Welshmen, Scots, Indians, Gurkhas, Australians, New Zealanders and Newfoundlanders.

The ‘Turks’ were mostly Turkish, but many were from other parts of the Ottoman Empire. Indeed journalist Robert Fisk points out that two-thirds of the 19th Division, the first to face the Anzacs, were Syrian Arabs.

Where else at Gallipoli did the Anzacs serve?

In early May the 2nd Infantry Brigade and New Zealand Infantry Brigade re-embarked and sailed to Cape Helles. They were thrown into the Second Battle of Krithia. More than 1,800 Anzacs (about a third of the two brigades) were killed or wounded there. The survivors returned to Anzac. In August, the RAN Bridging Train landed at Suvla, north of Anzac, building wharves after the British landing there.

Were the British really ‘drinking tea’?

When British troops landed at Suvla in August, the Anzacs were fighting and dying at Lone Pine, Chunuk Bair and the Nek. Peter Weir’s 1981 film Gallipoli made famous a story that the Anzacs could see the British ‘drinking tea’. This left a poor impression of British soldiers. The Suvla landing was poorly planned, and confusion on the beaches meant some units had no option but to congregate and wait for orders. Soldiers of any nationality would have taken this chance to ‘brew up’. Meanwhile, further inland, British soldiers were fighting courageously. The loss of 1,700 men killed or wounded in the first 24 hours is testimony to this.

Why wasn’t Simpson decorated?

‘The man with the donkey’ actually was decorated. Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick, 3rd Field Ambulance, was killed on 19 May 1915 and posthumously Mentioned in Despatches for his transporting of wounded men. This was noted in The London Gazette on 5 November 1915, and in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette on 27 January 1916. This honour was rare. Other than the Victoria Cross, it was the only honour able to be granted to a man killed in action. Of the 60,000 Australians who died in the Great War, only about 220 were accorded this

Figure 5: Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick assisting an unidentified soldier, Gallipoli, circa May 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

Figure 5: Private John Simpson Kirkpatrick assisting an unidentified soldier, Gallipoli, circa May 1915. Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial.

honour. Simpson’s medals are held by the Australian War Memorial. They include his Victory Medal, with the Mentioned-in-Despatches rosette on its ribbon. Simpson and his donkey are still the subject of vigorous discussion. In ‘The donkey vote; a VC for Simpson—the case against’, Graham Wilson argues that ‘Simpson was no braver than any other man on the Gallipoli Peninsula’, and that the campaign to have Simpson posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross or an Australian Victoria Cross is ‘impossible and inappropriate’ (Sabretache, December 2006). Wilson later expanded his views in a book, Dust, donkeys and delusions: the myth of Simpson and his donkey (Big Sky Publishing, 2012). In ‘The man with the donkey: hero or fraud’, Tom Curran challenges critics who have refuted aspects of the story of Simpson (Sabretache, December 2008).

The Defence Honours and Awards Appeal Tribunal considered the merits of the case for awarding Simpson a Victoria Cross as a part of its 2013 Inquiry into unresolved recognition for past acts of naval and military gallantry and valour. In recommending that no action be taken the Tribunal noted:

Some submitters suggested that Simpson deserved a VC because he represented what it means to be Australian, and there was strong community support for such recognition. While this might be a popular proposition, the VC can only be awarded for valorous conduct in the presence of the enemy. The Tribunal found that Simpson’s initiative and bravery were representative of all other stretcher-bearers of 3rd Field Ambulance, and that bravery was appropriately recognised as such by the award of an MID.

How many Australians died at Gallipoli?

We do not really know. The estimate provided by the Australian War Memorial is 8,141 but, as is the case with virtually all casualty figures, this number has varied somewhat over the years and slightly different figures are cited in other sources.

The 8,141 figure is drawn from the War Office’s Statistics of the military effort of the British Empire during the Great War, 1914–1920. This figure is for deaths up to 16 January 1916 and might not include deaths after this date which resulted from wounds received before the evacuation. On page 239, Australian deaths are given as 362 officers and 7,779 other ranks (a total of 8,141), but on page 286 a table of month-by-month deaths is stated as adding up to 371 officers and 8,338 other ranks (a total of 8,709). Examination of the War Office table reveals that staff got their tallying up wrong. The monthly deaths actually add up to 359 officers and 7,800 other ranks, which equals 8,159. Robin Prior, in his book Gallipoli: the end of the myth (University of New South Wales Press, 2009), quotes the British Official History figure of 7,825 killed.

Given that the War Office’s lower number and the corrected sum of monthly deaths are close, that Australian official medical history statistics are reasonably close, and that the Roll of Honour for this period would be close too once unrelated deaths (from illnesses and accidents in Australia, at sea or in Egypt) are taken into account, then a revised estimate of the number of Australians who died in the Gallipoli Campaign could be around 8,150.

British casualties were around 120,000. French 27,000 and a Turkish figure, while uncertain, is thought to be over 220,000.

The campaign

  • a summary of the Gallipoli Campaign from The Oxford Companion to Australian Military History—includes maps.
  • an excerpt of Denis Winter’s book 25 April 1915 –the inevitable tragedy (published on the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website ‘Gallipoli and the Anzacs’)
  • a brief summary of the Gallipoli Campaign from the 1990 media kit issued to assist Australia’s 75th anniversary official commemorative visit.
  • Gallipoli and the Anzacs website—commissioned by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and developed by the Board of Studies, NSW. Contains new and historical material on Gallipoli.
  • the Epitaphs of Gallipoli, a website developed by the Gallipoli Association detailing the headstone inscriptions of Australian and New Zealand soldiers with known graves on the Gallipoli Peninsula.

First-hand accounts of the Gallipoli Campaign

CEW Bean’s first report of the Anzac landings at Gallipoli was published in the Commonwealth Gazette on 17 May 1915. At this point Bean was the official press representative with the Australian Expeditionary Force.

Figure 6: On 17 May 1915, CEW Bean’s first report from Gallipoli was published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette.

Figure 6: On 17 May 1915, CEW Bean’s first report from Gallipoli was published in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette. Image courtesy of the National Library of Australia.

British War correspondent, Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett’s first-hand reports on the Anzac landing at Gallipoli praised the courage of the ‘raw’ Australian and New Zealand troops. Ashmead-Bartlett became frustrated and disillusioned with the course of the campaign, and with the difficulties placed in the path of his reporting. In concert with the Australian journalist, Keith Murdoch, he attempted to circumvent the military censorship imposed by General Sir Ian Hamilton. Murdoch left Gallipoli with Ashmead-Bartlett’s letter to British Prime Minister Asquith which contributed to the withdrawal of troops from the Peninsula and the downfall of Sir Ian Hamilton.

In ‘Anzac: nationhood, brotherhood and sacrifice’, chapter four of Bill Gammage’s The broken years: Australian soldiers in the Great War, the author has used first-hand accounts of the Gallipoli Campaign by Australian soldiers to explore their attitudes to the war; to the fighting; to their British allies and their Turkish opponents; and to the death of comrades.

In this extract from The story of Anzac, volume 1 of the official history of Australia in the war of 1914–1918, CEW Bean, the official historian, summarises the course of the Gallipoli campaign from the landings to the end of the first phase in early May 1915 when the advance of the British forces at both Gaba Tepe and Cape Helles had been brought to a standstill. Bean discusses Australian successes and failures in the early phase of the campaign up to Sir Ian Hamilton’s decision that the next thrust of the battle should be at Helles rather than at Anzac.

Australian women served as nurses in the Australian Army Nursing Service. The women served on hospital ships close to the shore at Gallipoli and also on the Greek islands of Lemnos and Imbros, as well as back in Alexandria. Like the men, for most of these women this would have been their first experience of war and they worked with inadequate conditions and equipment.

Jan Bassett, writing in her book Guns and brooches: Australian Army nursing from the Boer War to the Gulf War (Oxford University Press, 1992), quotes Sister Ilma Lovell about conditions on the hospital ship Formosa off Suvla Bay in early August 1915:

We were receiving wounded all night and terrible wounds they were—the majority of them were fly blown and septic. All were operated upon on admission and the little theatre was kept busy all night—limbs, had they been able to have been treated before and would have been saved, had to be amputated.

A general history of  the medical aspect of the campaign can be found in: M Tyquin, Gallipoli: the medical war: the Australian Army medical services in the Dardanelles Campaign of 1915, NSW University Press, Kensington, 1993.

Gallipoli—legend versus reality

An article by Robert Manne, ‘A Turkish tale: Gallipoli and the Armenian genocide’, explores possible connections between the two events (Monthly, February 2007, pp. 20–28).

The following articles are from Wartime, a journal published by the Australian War Memorial:

In ‘The first casualty’, Les Carlyon argues that the truth bears more eloquent witness to the heroics of Gallipoli than the myths that have grown up around it (Bulletin with Newsweek, 7 August 2001).

‘The lure of Gallipoli’, by Les Carlyon, is an article on the myth, the pride and the nostalgia evoked by the campaign and its commemoration (Australian Women’s Weekly, 1 August 2001).

In ‘A terrible beauty’, the final chapter of his book, Gallipoli, Les Carlyon summarises the importance of Gallipoli and sketches the fates of a number of the key protagonists.

In ‘When myth makers go over the top’, Ray Cassin argues that the prominence of the Gallipoli myth has served to obscure the sacrifice of soldiers who served in other campaigns (Age, 24 June 2001).

In ‘The last Anzac: the fatal shore that defines a nation’, Tony Stephens discusses where Gallipoli ranks in Australia’s historical picture (Sydney Morning Herald, 17 May 2002).

In ‘First casualty’, Robin Prior and Trevor Wilson give a summary of the Gallipoli Campaign and correct ten myths about it (Sydney Morning Herald, 20 April 2002).

‘Exploding the myths of Gallipoli’ by Ashley Ekins (Bulletin with Newsweek, 27 April 2004, pp. 30–33.)

In ‘The wrong place’, WF Refshauge examines the continuing debate about whether the original landing at Anzac Cove was made at the wrong place (Sabretache, September 2007).

In Gallipoli: the end of the myth (University of New South Wales Press, 2009), Robin Prior provides some forceful commentary on the planning and conduct of the campaign, reaching the conclusion that, even if it had been successful, the Dardanelles Campaign would not have shortened the war.

Gallipoli—military resources


Gallipoli biographies contains brief sketches of the most prominent officers and ordinary soldiers who were involved in the campaign. The Australian War Memorial’s online encyclopaedia provides links to a number of Gallipoli biographies including those of CEW Bean and John Simpson Kirkpatrick (the man with the donkey).

Brief biographical details of Mustapha Kemal (later known as Ataturk) are available here.

In ‘First Anzac heroes’, Barry Clissold discusses the men who were awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal at Gallipoli and how they ‘set a high standard of courage for a young nation in its first major engagement’ (Wartime, no. 25, 2004).

Gallipoli—geography, then and now

  • short descriptions of points of significance on the Gallipoli Peninsula, including Lone Pine, the Nek and Hill 60, Quinn’s Post, Gaba Tepe and many others
  • a relief map of the Gallipoli Peninsula showing the main features in 1915
  • Google map of Gallipoli, with an option to view satellite imagery revealing the contours of the coastline
  • the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW (BOSTES) have developed the Gallipoli and the Anzacs website which includes information about the Anzac landing at Gallipoli, visiting Gallipoli today and the Anzac Commemorative Site, which was built at Gallipoli with the cooperation of the New Zealand and Turkish governments.
  • North Beach Gallipoli 1915 is a Department of Veterans’ Affairs publication which describes the Anzac Commemorative Site as it was in 1915.

Walter John Styles—Northern Territory
Walter Styles

Walter John Styles was born in March 1890 in Darwin, Northern Territory to parents Thomas and Eleanor. He subsequently moved with his family to Brock’s Creek (approximately 40 km SW of Adelaide River) and became employed as a labourer. Styles joined the AIF on 19 December 1914; however, as there were no recruitment centres established in the Northern Territory, he had to travel to Cairns to enlist. Having been posted to the 9th Battalion (2nd Reinforcement), Styles embarked from Brisbane on HMAT Seang Bee on 13 February 1915. According to Styles’ letter to his father dated 5 July, he was on the Greek island of Lemnos until 25 April when he spent the first 72 hours of the Gallipoli campaign helping set up field hospitals and wading out to boats under constant shrapnel fire to unload food and ammunition.

Styles again wrote home in early June, informing his sister that he had been wounded by a bullet to his left side on 30 May. Despite his injury, he continued for more than a week before receiving treatment—at first on a hospital ship, then at the 1st Australian General Hospital in Cairo. Writing to his sister on 13 June, Styles noted that ‘the hospital I am in has got 700 wounded and you would think there was nothing wrong with them to hear the laughing and joking’. Styles rejoined his unit (the 9th Battalion’s ‘A’ Company) on 13 July; however he was hit by enemy machine gun fire while digging a trench on 28 July 1915 and died later that day. Styles was buried at sea and is commemorated at both the Lone Pine Memorial and Darwin Cenotaph.


‘Walter Styles’, Fallen ANZACs, Northern Territory Government Department of Arts and Museums, website, accessed 22 January 2015.

‘Walter Styles’, The AIF project, website, accessed 23 January 2015.

‘B2455: Walter Styles’, First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914–1920, National Archives of Australia, Barcode #8095789, accessed 7 April 2015.

‘Unique Territory History WWI’, Anzac Centenary, Northern Territory Government Department of the Chief Minister, website, accessed 23 January 2015.


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