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

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A Symbolic Death at the Sphinx

The Sphinx Above Anzac Cove, Gallipoli

Slightly to the north of Anzac Cove is a towering, geographical feature for which the newly arrived Anzacs — fresh from their training camps in Egypt — found a name naturally perfect for it — The Sphinx.  Soon they would discover what was waiting for them would keep them trapped on the shoreline for nine months and would take 8709 Australian lives. In the end, the entire campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula would see the deaths of more than 100,000.

Prewar Photo of Lt. Col. Clarke

On the 25th April 1915, 57 year old Lt Col Lancelot Fox Clarke of the 12th Battalion AIF landed at Gallipoli a little south of Ari Burnu point at dawn on the 25th April 1915. They could see the Sphinx in profile in the morning dawn. He urged some men, who had not been able to advance over the ground from the beach to the cliff slopes due to the Turks fire, to move forward, leading the way himself.  He somehow managed to scale the Sphinx’ near-vertical sides — a difficult enough feat for someone 30 years his junior.

Grave Marker at Beach Cemetery

At the top, he found the Turks in a trench. Clarke called for a signaller. He sat down and started to write a report to Brigade Headquarters, but was shot through the heart by a sniper and died at once.  The Colonel’s batman, who was ready to take the message, fell dead with another bullet. He rests today at Beach Cemetery from where you can view the Sphinx.

Source: Anzac Biographies

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