Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Friday, February 17, 2017

What Was the Last Major Fight at Gallipoli?

It Was for Hill 60, Vital Link Between 

the Anzac and Suvla Sectors

At the beginning of August 1915, Hill 60, which commanded the shoreline communications links between the forces at Anzac and Suvla, was in Turkish hands. Hill 60 was included as an objective for the renewed Suvla offensive of 21 August. Its capture would secure the link from Suvla Bay to the Anzac beachhead. On 22 August, the hill was attacked from Anzac by the Canterbury and Otago Mounted Rifles from New Zealand. They succeeded in seizing part of the Turkish trench system but could not dislodge the Turks from the hill. Six days later the remnants of the whole New Zealand brigade (about 300 men, down from the 1865 who landed in May) made another daylight attack that extended the line but again failed to capture the target.

Skeletal Remains on Hill 60 Afterward

The initial attacks were followed later by the 18th Australian Infantry Battalion and supported on the flanks by other troops. Hill 60 was partly captured and on 27–29 August the captured ground was extended by the 13th, 14th, 15th, 17th, and 18th Australian Infantry Battalions, the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, the 5th Connaught Rangers, and the 9th and 10th Australian Light Horse. The summit of Hill 60 was never wrested from the Turks, but, by holding the seaward slopes, the ANZAC flank was secured and the link with Suvla opened. In 1920 Major Fred Waite, New Zealand's historian of the Gallipoli campaign, wrote, "The struggle near Kaiajik Aghala was the last pitched battle on the Peninsula."

Hill 60 Cemetery and New Zealand Memorial Today

The British historian Robert Rhodes James later wrote that "For connoisseurs of military futility, valour, incompetence and determination, the attacks on Hill 60 are in a class of their own." 

The position, however, was held until the evacuation in December.

Sources: New Zealand and Australian governmental and veterans websites

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