Hill 60 and the lost 18th

Darragh Christie, 22 August 2015 · # ·

The 18th Battalion recruited from the Sydney area (including Mosman) were described by official war historian C.E.W Bean as
‘great big cheery fellows, whom it did your heart good to see.’ Within 48 hours of landing at Gallipoli, 50% of them were either dead or wounded. A few days later, 80% of the 760 men who started the battle had become casualties.

Men of the 18th Battalion waiting at the wharf to embark on the troopship A40 HMT Ceramic. ..From an album relating to the service of 1248 Sergeant Roberts, 18th Battalion, later Lieutenant Roberts, RFC.

Nights on the Nile

The 18th Battalion raised at the A.I.F. training camp, Liverpool, N.S.W., was shipped out for overseas service in May, 1915. Corporal Joseph Maxwell of ‘B’ Company found their destination far less exotic than he’d imagined

Historic dust of tombs and crumbling stone, fleeting pictures of Cleopatra and Rameses in the back of the brain, glamour, colour, romance. How it all surged through the mind as the Ceramic nosed her way into the entrance of the Suez Canal. But once again my mental pictures were shattered…Scented, sensuous, nights on the Nile. What did they become? Blasted seared caricatures of the pictures I had conjured. A stifling heat that seared the brain, a penetrating desert dust that scraped the flesh, sweat, boots, thirst, utter weariness, swish of sand, and the flame that poured from the sun and made men mad.1

Tent lines at Mena camp showing the pyramids in the background.,1915

Dispelled illusions aside, ‘Joe’ Maxwell had expanded his ‘.. gallery of good pals.’

Into the 18th Battalion blew Doherty. … Worries, reflection, introspection he scorned…each minute a crowded atom of life, triumphant and arrogant, that was Doherty’s code.[he was] A lumbering care free Irish-Australian, with a heart of gold, whose very presence was a vitalizing force..
Mick lacked Doherty’s effervescence but not his robust courage.. The war had to be won. Of that Mick was convinced…But he failed consistently to appreciate the part that saluting “brass hats” and gentlemen with “pips”- and-things was to play in giving us victory.

They shared one thing in common though,

Both he [Mick] and Doherty gloried in their allegiance to beer- amber, froth-crusted beer, the nectar of the gods, the most seductive of mistresses…

Members of the 18th Battalion in Egypt,1915

Group portrait of members of the 5th Light Horse Regiment and their guide in front of the Sphinx and pyramid. Source AWM

Leave and leisure activities alleviated the ‘monotonous thraldom of the desert’2 and camp life. Blowing off steam in bars, cafes and houses of ill repute; sightseeing at the Pyramids and souvenir-hunting were high on the list of things-to-do.

Postcard sent home by Joseph Edward Crew Source: Barry’O Keefe Library ‘Trace’ digital archive. Ken Nugent, Joseph Edward Crew’s nephew, lent for copying for the ‘Doing our Bit : Mosman 1914- 1918’ project.

Maxwell, in his colourful style described how, on one occasion, grievances in the red light district, boiled over into a full-blown riot.

In Cairo I had my first fleeting glimpse of “active service” I stumbled into the fringe of the battle of Wazir. It was fast and furious … cushioned bowers of lechery [were] torn open to the general gaze, a swirl of dust and flying arms and dark faces, a crackle of “Gyppo,” a sirrocco of oaths sizzling and spluttering. It was hatred swept up like a summer storm. Arms and clubs flew, ..Up leapt the flames as the appurtenances of hired love were scattered in blazing brands and glowing embers…At the height of the battle and through the hanging dust of that stifling day, a piano (which, if endowed with speech could tell a few torrid stories), tumbled from a high window and hurtled into the street. I missed no time getting out of the racket and missed many of the high lights in an episode that was discussed excitedly for weeks.2

Cairo, burnt buildings and carts possibly the aftermath of the riot later known as the Battle of the “Wozzer”, which took place in the street known as the Haret El Wasser near Shepheard’s Hotel, Cairo 2 April Good Friday 1915.

Gallipoli, August, 1915

Back at Gallipoli, the Sari Bair offensives of August 1915 - Chunuk Bair, Lone Pine and the Nek - had all ended in failure.

Lone Pine Diorama. Source: Australian War Memorial (AWM), Canberra

The landings at Suvla had also been a disaster. The last British attacks were taking place as the 18th Battalion landed at ANZAC Cove in the early hours of Aug. 20.

The Turks had strengthened their defenses south of Suvla. Mustafa Kemal inspected the completed trenches at ‘Hill 60’ on the afternoon of the 20th. The wiley, battle-hardened commander ordered more artillery pieces , just to be sure.3

Mustafa Kemal inspecting the battlefield, 1915

Captain Henry Loughan of the 14th Battalion noted that

On August 7 we could have taken Hill 60 and Hill 100 almost without a casualty. Now that the Turks thoroughly entrenched Hill 60 , garrisoned it strongly and arranged machine guns to sweep every foot of its surface, we were to storm it. What chance would the Turks have had of taking Hill 92 by a direct attack? None whatever; just as much as we had of taking Hill 60 from them.

Charles Bean in his Official Histories wrote that the battle for Hill 60 would become

..one of the most difficult in which Australian troops were ever engaged –
[it] was conditioned by the inaccuracy of the knowledge which the staff had so far succeeded in obtaining of the complicated defences of the hill.

The simple method which was applied a few years later-that of sending an aeroplane to photograph the region from above-does not seem to have suggested itself, and the local staff based its maps upon what it could see from the front line on Damakjelik and from the Suvla area. But the hill was clothed with scrub four feet high, through which the trenches were difficult to trace.


Darkness before the dawn

After midnight on August 21st, the 18th Battalion disembarked at Gallipoli. Cpl. Maxwell described landing in the inky darkness.

There behind us, on the beach, the ribbon of sighing surf flared like whites of eyes in the darkness. It may have been a Sydney beach in that terrible silent hour before the first glow of dawn.

We were on the move. .. Black ghosts in the gloom, platoons, companies of them; orders muttered in undertones, whispers, whispers, whispers everywhere. Above the black scarps frowned on us. But we were on solid earth. Life regained a little of is savour. There we straggled into line in the blackness. There was the friendly, comforting contact of shoulders and packs of men whose faces you cannot see. There were no faces. We were all just phantoms..

Sketches at Gallipoli, 1915 / Leslie Hore (1870-1935)

A view of the beach north of Anzac Cove.
.. Dominating the scene at left is the rock formation the Anzac’s named The Sphinx.

We straggled up to a gully directly behind the firing-line. Other strange figures detached themselves from the gloom. Veterans these, who knew the horror and grimness of war. Their step on the pebbles had a confident ring. But they too once passed though the mental bewilderment which then gripped me. This was a consoling fact to say the least.5

Despite apprehensions, the ‘new Australians’ were keen to find out about their surroundings. C.E.W. Bean noted

As these men with well-rounded cheeks and strong limbs filed past the heights of which in Australia they had heard so much, they quietly but eagerly questioned other wayfarers as to the situation. They had not yet acquired the cynicism of old soldiers.In the quiet valley below Walker’s Ridge some of their officers had spoken gravely to them of their high duty in the tests they were about to face.These fine troops had made a deep impression upon all who saw them, and brigadiers, anxious to relieve or support their tired troops, looked eagerly towards “ the new Australians.”6

ANZAC soldiers awaiting replacements: Source AWM

The men of the 18th were expecting to occupy trenches in a quiet sector. After finishing a long night’s march over flat ground north of ANZAC Cove, they halted. Orders were passed from one company to the next- to fix bayonets, charge magazines, and extend into two lines. According to Bean

[this] was the first intimation to the troops that they were about to carry out an assault.7

Corporal Rex Boyden of the 18th Battalion recalled:

We were moving along the Ghurkas’ trench and were ordered to fix bayonets, so we knew there was to be a charge. Having been marching from 12 o’clock we were extremely tired and thirsty, for we had nothing to drink from the evening before, so we did not feel much like charging.8

The rising sun at their backs revealed a 4 ft. hedge covering the trenches in front. To the right, beyond the hedge, the objective - rising ground, covered in scrub - its summit 400 yards away.

Looking down Kaiajik Dere showing Turkish trenches on the right and Australian trenches on the left of Dere, Hill 60 in in the centre. Suvla Bay and Salt lake are in the distance directly behind Hill 60, looking north west. One of a series of photographs taken on the Gallipoli Peninsula under the direction of Captain C E W Bean of the Australian Historical Mission, during the months of February and March, 1919.

Hill 60 at Gallipoli, which the 13th and 14th battalions AIF attacked on 21 August, 1915. A track through the scrub now follows the path of the communication trench that was dug the night after the attack. retrieved online from ‘Hard Jacka, the story of a Gallipoli legend’ by Michael Lawriwsky_ http://www.hardjacka.com/gallipoli.html

Aug 22; A tragic morning

Men, some of whom had grown up streets from each other may have been thinking about home. There was no time to write to loved ones now though.

Joe Maxwell revealed his state of mind passing the cliffs and crags of Gallipoli. The same thoughts might have reoccurred as his life flashed before his eyes facing Hill 60.9

“God! what a damn fool I was to get into this.”

Frankly that was my thought. It kept hammering away at the brain. Streets, girls, colour, friends, life, civilisation, seemed dwindling memories, things lost forever. There was finality about it all. I would never see again but those crags ahead. Lost souls must have felt like that as they were ferried across the shadowy Styx.

Around, faces were grim where a shaft of furtive light caught their profiles. This was the end.

Nothing could prepare them for what would happen next. After the starting whistle, 2 platoons forming the front line charged. The next 2 prepared to follow, throats dry, adrenaline pumping.

ANZACs charging

Joe Maxwell described what it was like being in the attack with the 18th

.. Out we went tripping and stumbling among the undergrowth. What a tragic morning it was! We had never seen a hand grenade, nor had our officers. Ridges sprang to life they began to crackle. Turkish machine-gun pellets pelted us. Rockets of dust burst and flew. That ripping machine gun rattle that we came to know so well raced up and down a ridge that loomed in the grey light ahead. Men fell in gullies and pockets. There were groans and thuds to right and left. You just held your breath and stumbled or crawled on..[with] Men writhing and dying in the livid morning light.15

Amongst them, Charles Barker a 30 year old Costing Clerk from Orlando Avenue, Mosman lay in the dirt, mortally wounded. A passing comrade later said that he had seen Charles. Charles had told him not to bother about him as he knew he was dying.

The 1st wave of the attack reached what they assumed was their objective. According to official war historian C.E.W. Bean

As they scrambled through several gaps in the hedge on to a narrow belt of corn at the foot of the hill, they saw in the scrub, 150 yards ahead, the parapet of a newly-dug trench from which Turks were retiring up the hill.

Fire was opened by the enemy, but both lines quickly gained the trench, which proved to be a deep, almost straight, sap leading far down to the plain on the left. A number of the enemy were at the moment endeavouring to scramble out to the rear. These were shot, and, on the front of the attack, the trench was captured. The men settled into it, some of them taking out their pipes and none having any notion that they were intended to go farther.10

The Turks counter

Turkish soldiers

The 18th’s lead companies waited for reinforcement and further orders. The Turks didn’t hesitate. They poured troops down adjoining trenches. The counter-attack was on.

The left of the Australians was attacked with bombs, and at the same time a machine-gun on some slight eminence in that direction began to fire up the trench. The 18th had no bombs, and knew nothing of them. But a number of Turkish grenades were found in their sap, and by throwing some of these they won sufficient respite to enable them to pull down sandbags from the parapet and form a barricade, behind which for a time they successfully fought.
A private named O’Reilly climbed on to the parapet and, lying behind some sandbags until he was severely wounded by a bomb, shot steadily along the trench at the Turks, whose attention had been suddenly turned to supporting companies of the 18th that were now coming forward.11

The attack falters..

Turks who survived the bombardment emerged from their shelters. They fed ammo belts into machine-guns, and aimed rifles. The hillside erupted as gunfire swept the 18th’s advance.

.. at least three machine-guns in the scrub on Hill 60 were directed upon the wheat field at its foot; and a heavy enfilading fire was being poured in from the left .. where a Turkish officer with drawn sword could be seen pointing out to his men the target at which they should fire.

The next companies drew a murderous hail of lead from the enemy’s elevated positions,

The left of McPherson’s company, emerging through a large gap in the hedge, was broken while attempting to deploy.12

Turkish machine-gunners.

The gap in the hedge through which the 18th Infantry Battalion passed to attack Hill 60 in August 1915. Hill 60 is in the background and Hill 971 is in the far distance. C E W Bean, 1919.

Like wheat at harvest, men were scythed down.

Other platoons issuing through openings south of it [the hedge] were met by tremendous fire, but a proportion crossed the field,

Any officer seen urging men forward became a priority target.

among them was Lieutenant Wilfred Addison, who, with dying and wounded around him, and machine-gun bullets tearing up the ground where he stood, steadied and waved forward the remnant of his platoon until he himself fell pierced with several bullets.13

One officer who by by luck or fate survived was Maj. Sydney Herring of the 13th Btn.

We were heavily laden, this made a quick dash impossible and we only got half way across when we were held up by enemy machine gun fire. ….There we were crouched behind some very indifferent cover in No mans’ land.. Our dead and wounded were lying around us in all directions, and to add to the horror of the situation our shells had set fire to the scrub and some of our wounded were being burnt to death before our eyes.

… I said ‘Come on, we will give it a go.!” And dashed on. There were two slight depressions leading towards Hill 60 and by luck or chance I chose the nearest to the Turks.. of those that took this route the majority reached their objective, ..[those].. that took the other route nearly all became casualties.14

27 August 1915. Smoke may be seen rising from the burning scrub on the seaward slopes of Hill 60 and on Kaiajik Dere. These fires were started by bursting shells and some of the wounded were burnt.

..the attack fails

The Turkish artillery and machine gunners kept up their deadly work.

Turkish defenses were reinforced before the battle and included a Field Snieder Battery; a 15cm Howitzer; 12cm, 3 × 8.8 cm guns; 1 naval gun and 2 × 12cm Howitzers.

Major Powles realised a Turkish machine-gun nest was decimating his attack on the 18th’s left flank. He directed the next companies to swing left into the teeth of the enfilade to take it out. But as Bean notes

This attempt was quickly shattered.

Maj. Powles’ threw his last last companies in

These later lines, however, only reached the trench in fragments, and the situation of the left flank was desperate. From a point of vantage in a cross-trench the Turks were flinging bombs with Australians.

By now Powles had lost control of the battle. In the confusion

An unauthorized order to retire had been given to some of Lane’s men, and in withdrawing over the open they lost heavily.16

The chance for success had gone as the sun set over the peninsular.

At 7 o’clock the battalion was urged by a message from Russell to push on and seize the summit, but such an attempt would have been hopeless.

The desperate, chaotic savagery in the dusty maze of trenches continued. Remnants of battered platoons ran into friend or foe. They were either forced back, or killed where they stood. By 10 o’clock survivors had fought their way back to the New Zealanders at the base of Hill 60,

where they remained, stubbornly holding fifty yards of the trench.17

This foothold would be the launching point for any further attempts. For now, the attack petered out and was by all accounts, a miserable failure.

A queer brand of mordant wit.

The Anzac book / written and illustrated in Gallipolli by the men of Anzac London ; New York ; Toronto ; Melbourne : Cassell, 1916 ANZAC Alphabet G-M p. 115

Corporal Joe Maxwell had to survive a long, hard, heartbreaking day on the 22nd;

Our first attack. We were to face it at dawn, Sunday 22nd August. Why Sunday of all days?

Doherty and I were detailed as stretcher-bearers. We had no shoulder straps to help us with the stretchers. After the first nightmare trips to the dressing station behind the ridge, the job became a back breaking one.

Doherty’s courage, irreverence and ‘queer brand of mordant wit’ helped get them through.

He[Doherty] thirsted for “fags.” As he plucked a packet of Egyptian cigarettes from one pocket his bitter remark was “It’ll be too hot for a cigarette where he’s gone.”

Later Maxwell and Doherty helped a 6’ tall Sikh who ‘had gone down with a bullet hole bored through his waist…’ , they

..dumped him on a stretcher and began to stagger to the station down a slope and over “rough going.” He revived a little and began to pant “Wine-Wine.” “This here Injun,” said Doherty to Dr Dunlop at the station, “keeps yellin’ for wine, Doc- have you got anything to drink? “You damn fool,” the doctor replied, “he has been trying to tell you to wind a bandage round his wound.”

Doherty’s cultural faux pas didn’t end there. Later in the day he

..ran against a kindly old padre, Chaplain Waldron, who had been ministering to the dying since “the stunt” began. “I think this Injun is just about to kick the bucket,” drawled Doherty, “he’s been shot clean through the guts, so you’d better tell him a bit about God.” “In spite of your blasphemy,” the padre replied “you have a generous heart. It’s a noble act to show humane conduct to our enemy even though he is a Turk.” “What!” Doherty exploded. “A -----Turk? Well I’ll be damned.” He promptly tipped the wounded Turk off the Stretcher..

David Crothers Barker, Ill., ‘The ANZAC Book’

Brushed by death’s wings

That night Joe found himself alone with his thoughts.

There under the stars I could not sleep. All kinds of the most melancholy reflections flooded my mind. Thoughts of those huddled bodies in the gully, rigid corpses of boys who had laughed and joked the previous night; thoughts of their folks at home, of the anxiety, the hopes and the fears; thoughts of the melancholy mission of clergymen who would have to break the news, to complete the anguish and despair. So this is war!

So here in the dismal forbidding gully, brushed by the wings of death, lay glory! It was not the heroic theatrical war of the history books. Those black bundles out there, dim and shadowy under the pale starlight, had not even struck a blow at their enemies. In fact they had not seen a Turk. Yet they were cut down, scattered through the ravine, under those friendly stars and by an invisible enemy that had sprayed death from an indefinite vague ridge, a mere blur of green and russet brown in the direction of Suvla Bay.

To me it seemed murder, nothing short of cold blooded murder. I felt sick with the horror of it all. But it was my first night of war._18

Leslie Hore ‘The morning after’, 1915.

Out in no-mans land were the huddled, rigid bodies (or remains thereof) of Charles Barker ; George Harman Burke 18, ‘Town traveller’ and economics student at Sydney Uni.; Clive Sedgwick Cooper 22, Pastoral student; Joseph Kenneth Donaldson a newly married 28, Consulting engineer; Mure Robinson Farquar 34, Grazier; Felix David Saclier 19, Clerk and Thomas William Watson 35, Cutter at Anthony Hordern and Sons, all from the Mosman area.

Also in the dark gullies, amongst the dead was Corporal Rex Boyden. It was a miracle he had survived, shot and pinned down all day by enemy fire

It was simply wonderful how God watched over me.. shell and shrapnel were bursting within a few yards of me and bullets flying everywhere. I couldn’t possibly move at the time, and it was fortunate I didn’t, for I was behind a dead man and he was sheltering me from the deadly fire of the Turks. I could hear the bullets pelting him while I was lying there…

I thought it would be dark enough for the stretcher bearers to come for me. But it was not to be, for it was bright moonlight, and none came to fetch me, so I lay there until the moon went down, about an hour before daybreak next morning. I managed to crawl about 25 yards, which took me nearly an hour, and brought me near part of our trench. I couldn’t go any further but shouted out for a stretcher bearer, and one of the New Zealanders pulled me out out of the parapet into the trench.19

Hill 60 showing bones of members of the 4th Australian Infantry Brigade and New Zealanders near the position of the old oak tree just beside Turkish trenches. Captain C E W Bean, 1919. [AWM G02079]

Lessons unlearnt

Charles Bean said of the 18th’s charge on the 22nd

The attempt to round off the capture of Hill 60 by setting a raw battalion, without reconnaissance, to rush the main part of a position on which the experienced troops of Anzac had only succeeded in obtaining a sIight foothold, ended in failure….the attack upon such a position required minute preparation, and that the unskilfulness of raw troops, however brave, was likely to involve them in heavy losses for the sake of results too small to justify the expense.

Within a few hours the 18th Battalion, which appears to have marched out 750 strong, had lost 11 officers and 372 men, of whom half had been killed.20

The Turks now fully awake to British plans, sent extra troops to reinforce the defenses of Hill 60. It was a pity British High Command could not heed their own advice.

In the words of Kitchener’s message received by Hamilton on July 11th: “.. When the surprise ceases to be operative, in so far that the advance is checked and the enemy begin to collect from all sides to oppose the attackers, then perseverance becomes merely a useless waste of life.”21

But, in the words of historian Peter Hart

These were pointless attacks and if they typified any British trait it was a lunatic persistence in the face of the obvious.22

And that lunatic persistence had yet to run its course. The 13th, 14th and 18th Battalion’s survivors joined into 4th Brigade. For another attempt on Hill 60, on August 27th .23

Sunset at Gallipoli, 1915 by Leslie Hore (1870-1935)

Map before attack on Aug. 27 //journeyoftheotagos.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/interpretation-small-10-hill-60-map.jpg

Act II: Aug 27; A tragic evening.

Joe Maxwell described the afternoon pleasantries of the naval bombardment on the 27th . C.E.W noted that although heavy by Gallipoli standards, it was ineffective.

Our guns back on the ridges opened at about 4 p.m. Out on the Agean that glittered like molten silver the guns of the fleet began to speak. Cracks, crashes, more cracks and more crashes; the long, whinning roar of heavy shell. So it went on, steady, regular as the striking of a number of giant clocks. A cheer surged down the gully. The New Zealanders-the first wave- were over the top. A little after 5 o’clock came our turn. I “legged” Joe Stewart over the parapet. He spun round and crumpled in a heap at my feet. A bullet had got him and 30 seconds after his emerging from the hole I helped to carry him back on a stretcher. Again the attack was a miserable failure. It was as futile, as hopeless as the first one.24

Cigarette card, ‘Hot Trench Work’ State Library of NSW

Survivors of the 18th made it into a Turkish trench just as the Connaught Rangers – down to their last men – were retreating. Sgt. John McIleain (5th Connaught Rangers) recalled the confused fighting, and the help and reception he received.

My rifle red almost with firing. By using greatcoats we save ourselves from bombs. Turks just 10 yards away drive us back foot by foot. I have extraordinary escapes. Two men killed beside me in the narrow trench and I am covered head-to-foot in blood. Casualties alarming and we should have fought to the very end but for the 18th Battalion, a party of whom jumped in amongst us and held the position until reinforced. When able to look around me I find but two Rangers left with me. The rest killed or wounded, or ran away before or after the Anzacs had come. Struggling all night: consolidating, firing, and looking out. Anzacs abusive for Rangers having lost trench. The most awful night of my life.25

The 9th Light Horse Regiment, led by Colonel Carew Reynell were next into the attack, at 11.30 pm. They moved cautiously from the NZ trenches onto the moonlit open ground. Reynell, using inaccurate maps26 guided the 9th LHR onto a Turkish trench the 18th Btn. and Rangers had fought over.

As they did so, the Turks called in artillery support27. A Turkish machine gun positioned to fire down the trench – on the 9th LHR’s flank – also exacted a heavy toll. After a vicious fight with bomb and bayonet, the 9th LHR took the trench, but were then forced back, at great cost.

The 10th Light Horse – followed the 9th LH – and overran a scene of complete carnage. Enemy dead were reportedly piled 6 high in places28. Bean noted the sad scene

The trench ..was found to be in parts almost choked with Turkish dead, mingled with the dead of the 9th Light Horse. The bodies of Col. Reynell and Capt. Jaffray were found- Reynell lying in the open .. The [adjoining] winding, unfinished trench ….also proved to be almost full of Turkish dead.29

Bodies were cleared from the ‘hellish death pits’ as the fighting continued. Maj. C Allanson commanding officer of the 1/6th Gurkhas wrote

The whole place is strewn with bodies – Gurkhas, Australians, Connaught Rangers [an Irish regiment], the smell, another of the minor horrors of war, is appalling, the sights revolting and disgusting. Our work is heavy so that we cannot add to it by burying the bodies.30

Image depicting Anzac dead in trenches during August, 1915

A ghoulish unearthing

Poor old Joe Maxwell and his mates were given a grim task.

… we went in to support the Australian Light Horse who were being heavily counter-attacked. Our job was to open up a communication trench. Here we came face to face with superlative horror……Every face was glistening. In that awful trench of death, the smell gripped you by the throat and shook you. There was no escape. It seemed to light on you like a living thing, penetrating, stifling, sickening. Hundreds of mutilated and decaying corpses cluttered that cleft through the ridge. Above the bushes and undergrowth the trench could be followed by a black cloud, a cloud of millions of flies that hovered and buzzed above it.

It was suicide for a man to show his head above the parapet. So with mouths and nostrils covered we huddled in that hole and dug on until the pick became wedged. Three or four of us would heave on the handle and out would come the body of a Turk or the bits of a body.

“Streuth” I heard Doherty remark, “I bet they never included lavender water in this mob’s rations.”_

We dug on grimly. It seemed the end of the world-our world. This ghoulish unearthing of the dead appeared to me as being the last depth of sheer terror to which a man could be plunged. Gradually, corpse by corpse we got that trench cleared and broke into our front line. In front of us and about us crashed the ceaseless racket of machine-guns and bombs.

I repeatedly noticed a 2nd lieutenant leave the front line, have his wounds dressed, then return to throw bombs. I later learned that this officer was Hugo Throssel, who, for his work that morning, was awarded the V.C.31


After entering Turkish held trenches 2nd. Lieut. Hugo Throssel covered his fellow light-horsemen as they desperately tried to finish a makeshift barricade. With his face covered in blood from bomb fragments, he shouted directions and inspired courage. Throssel shot down one Turk after another, but they kept coming.32. Just when the light-horsemen looked like being overrun, New Zealanders and men from the 18th turned a captured machine-gun on their attackers, stopping them dead.33.

Hugo Throssel didn’t like to talk about the war. But wrote to a mother whose son had fallen. He explained the circumstances of her boy’s death. (The savage reality of the close-quarter fighting can only be imagined.)34.

Turkish soldiers described by Throssel as ‘fine fighters and extremely brave men.’

The Turks are fine fighters and extremely brave men, and all that night they stood one side of this barrier within five yards of us trying to bomb us out. … I have just casually mentioned that the Turks counter-attacked three times; that does not sound very much, but I can assure you that with the Turks within 5 yards of you with only a couple of feet sandbag barrier between, and with hundreds of them coming at you with fixed bayonets in the front, the chances of coming through that ordeal alive are very remote.35

Throssell recalled the lobbing and counter-lobbing of grenades as a deadly ‘kind of tennis over the traverse and sandbags’.36 One Light Horseman, Corporal Ferrier, reportedly sent back hundreds of ‘bombs’ . Unfortunately Ferrier’s luck ran out when a mistimed grenade exploded in his hand. He continued on, flinging bombs back with his good hand. Ferrier survived the amputation of his shattered arm, but died of blood poisoning 10 days later.

Throssell was awarded a Victoria Cross for his part in the battle. The Turks aptly named it ‘Bombatepe’ or “Bomb-hill”

Artist’s impression of an incident on the night of 29 August 1915 … The scene depicted may be during the early part of this defence when Throsell’s men were erecting a barricade while he held off Turkish attacks with rifle and bomb. [Drawing in Stephen Snelling, VCs of the First World War: Gallipoli, Stroud, 1995, p.223]

Throssell’s VC Citation. Source: National Archives

Land is very dear here

All national units suffered heavy casualties at Hill 60. The Canterbury Mounted Rifles fought alongside the 18th Btn.37 On Aug. 6th they had 296 men (16 officers and 280 other ranks). Only 1 Officer and 39 other ranks made roll call on the 29th.

Canterbury Mounted Rifles getting ready for the second assault on Hill 60 Gallipoli 27 August 1915

Auckland Mounted Rifles after Hill 60

Corporal James Watson of the Auckland Mounted Rifles put it bluntly:

We gained about 400 yards [366 metres] in four days fighting, 1000 men killed and wounded. Land is very dear here.38

Maxwell wrote:

Thus in these two indisputable failures our company has lost five of its six officers and eighty percent of its men. Our colonel was later relieved of his command, but to this day I am convinced that he was merely selected to shield someone higher up.39

Bean wrote:

General Cox reported that he believed the new line could be held, although the position on Hill 60 “cannot be considered satisfactory.” If the Battle of Sari Bair was the climax or the Gallipoli campaign, that of Scimitar Hill was its anti-climax.

Hill 60 was the last major planned assault at Gallipoli. Unable to continue as an effective fighting force, the 18th were withdrawn from the front line.

Soldiers remains at Hill 60 were re-buried after the war by the Commonwealth Graves Commission. The CWGC official site states:

There are now 788 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 712 of the burials are unidentified, but special memorials commemorate 34 casualties known or believed to be buried among them.

Colonel Carew Reynell’s headstone is located at Hill 60 cemetery. He is also remembered at the AWM, and Reynella, S.A.41

Replenished, the 18th Battalion went on to fight at Pozieres, Bullecourt, Ypres and Passchendaele.. These battles dwarfed Hill 60 in the scale of carnage. The 18th suffered a total of 3,513 casualties (of which 1,060 were killed) from 1914-18.40 At least 15 from Mosman died serving in France

ecto: An illustration for ‘The ANZAC Book’, …to illustrate the poem Hill 60 in ‘The ANZAC Book’, of a woman kneeling beside a bed. ‘The ANZAC Book’ was published in 1916 from illustrations, poems, stories and other creative works from the soldiers on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Post-script: Occasional Radicals

Lieutenant Hugo Vivien Hope Throssell VC at Wandsworth Hospital recovering from wounds received at Gallipoli… The nurse is not identified.

Hugo Throssell, VC, survived the war.

He married Australian author and Communist Katharine Prichard. They met whilst he was recovering from wounds in London. Hugo supported her political principles and gave voice to his own anti-war feelings. From 1919, Throssell and his wife were put under government surveillance and he was forced out of the R.S.L.

He fell into debt during the Great Depression. Hugo also struggled with war wounds and psychological trauma. In 1933, separated from Katherine42

Throssell made a new will bequeathing everything to her43. On the back of the document, he wrote: “I have never recovered from my 1914-18 experiences.” The next day, he walked out on to the veranda of his home, placed a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger.44

Captain Hugo Throssell VC 10th Australian Light Horse Regiment AIF having his portrait painted.

Joe Maxwell also survived the war. His brave actions in France led to further military awards. The Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM), Military Cross (MC) and Bar were added to his Victoria Cross from Gallipoli.

Like Hugo Throssell, he became a pacifist and (in his own words) “an occasional radical.” He was 1 of 14 V.C. winners who rode at the head of the Melbourne St Patricks Parade with Daniel Mannix in 192045

Maxwell in collaboration with Hugh Buggy published his laconic memoirs Hell’s Bells and Mademoiselles in 1932. Like Hugo Throssell, he battled ill health and occasional work. Unlike Throssel he eventually peace in family life, and died aged 71.

Archbishop Daniel Mannix in the St Patrick’s Day procession led by 13 mounted Victorian Cross recipients in Melbourne in 1920. National Library of Australia.
St Patrick’s Day parades in Melbourne under Archbishop Daniel Mannix were assertive political statements of Catholic loyalty to Australia during the war and support for the cause of Irish independence. Source National Museum Australia http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/irish_in_australia/exhibition_overview/st_patricks_day

A framed composite photograph ..comprising portraits of fourteen Victoria Cross winners (ten Roman Catholics and four Protestants, all presumably with Irish backgrounds) with portraits of his Grace Dr Daniel Mannix (the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne) and the entrepreneur John Wren in the centre. Source AWM

Their name liveth

Echoing the words of Maxwell, the attack on Hill 60 was, ‘nothing short of cold-blooded murder.’

The following men (already mentioned), lost their lives in this tragic and pointless battle, which typified the waste of the Gallipoli campaign – a small sideshow compared to the main war of attrition in Europe.46

Charles Barker, 30; KIA 22/8/1915; 18th Btn.; Costing clerk. Orlando Avenue. Barker’s mate said that: “Barker was shot in many places and had told him not to bother about him as he knew he was dying.”

George Harman Burke, 18; KIA 22/8/1915; 18th Btn.; Traveller, economics student, University of Sydney. Played fullback for Mosman Rugby Club. Brother of Thomas Burke AN&MEF and of James Burke, 2/10th Field Ambulance, 8th Div. 2/AIF lost when Rakuyo Maru torpedoed when carrying Australian POW’s to Japan on 12/09/1944.

Clive Sedgwick Cooper, 22; KIA 22/8/1915; 18th Btn.; Pastoral student. 33 Spencer Rd.

Joseph Kenneth Donaldson ,28; KIA 22/8/1915; 18th Btn.; Consulting engineer. Wife Doris, “Doondi” Almora St.

Mure Robinson Farquar ,34; KIA 22 /8/1915; 18th Btn.; Grazier. Mother Margaret, 8 Boyle St. Sister, Anne – Australian Army Nursing Service and brothers Francis – 9 Mobile Veterinary Service; James – 5 Brigade Ammunition Column; and Noel – 5 Field Artillery Brigade.

Felix David Saclier, 19; KIA 22/8/1915; 18th Btn.; Clerk, Parents Louis & Fannie, 11 Silex Rd, Mosman. “… he was a brave little fellow, quite young.”

Thomas William Watson, 35; KIA 22/8/1915; 18th Btn.; Cutter, Anthony Hordern and Sons. Served Boer War AN&MEF. Father Sydney, 57 Glover St, Mosman.

They also served: casualty list at Gallipoli, August 1915.47

ARMSTRONG, Victor Seymour 26; KIA 9/8/1915; 4th Btn; Lone Pine. At the Landing. Journalist. Cowles Rd, Mosman.

BUCKERIDGE, Charles Stanley 23; KIA 7/8/1915; 3rd Btn; Lone Pine. Builder’s apprentice. Native of Mosman. Took part in Landing. Brother John Wilfred Buckeridge MM 55th Btn.

DICKSON, Frank Kirkpatrick 19; KIA 6/8/1915; 4th Btn; Lone Pine. Tobacconist. 35 Bardwell Rd, Mosman.

GARLAND, Herbert Frederick Edward 27; KIA 12/8/1915; 3rd Btn; Lone Pine. Painter. Wife Bridget, 126 Shadforth St, Mosman. Served AN&MEF.

GREEN, James 38; KIA 7/8/1915; 1st Light Horse Reg; Pope’s Hill. Carrier. Wife Sadie, 30 Prince St, Mosman.

McKERN, Howard Taylor 22; DOW 16/8/1915; Malta; 4th Btn. Farmer. Parents James & Mary, “Murrundi” 17 Redan St, Mosman. Wounded Lone Pine, “septic poison set in.” Brother of Stewart Hessle George McKern KIA, Alan Charles McKern 4th Btn, James Gordon McKern Tunnelling Co

MEGGY, Albert Edward 21; KIA 6/8/1915; 3rd Btn; Lone Pine. Bushman. Took part in Landing 25/4/1915. Wounded 9/5/1915. Parents Percy & Sarah, 30 Rangers Av, Cremorne. Brother of Douglas Ackland Meggy KIA, Percy Arthur Meggy 36th Btn and Margaret Helen Meggy, Australian Army Nursing Service. A report from Private Richard Tipper, 3rd Battalion, written in 1916 stated: “It was a very hot spot where he (Albert Meggy)was lying as there was a great deal of shrapnel bursting and also a lot of bombs coming in.” Tipper was himself killed on 13/4/1918.

MOUNTAIN, Laurence 31; KIA 6/8/1915; 4th Btn; Gallipoli, Shirt cutter. Mosman associations.

PYE, Reginald Leslie 26; KIA 6/8/1915; 4th Btn. Took part in Landing*.* Machine expert. “Hume” Central Av, Mosman.

POUGET, William 25; KIA 6/8/1915; 4th Btn; Gallipoli. Mother Matilda, 15 Musgrave St, Mosman. Brother of Francis Rupert Pouget, 2nd Div.

REDFORD, Thomas Harold 34; KIA 7/8/1915; 8th Light Horse Regiment; The Nek. Merchant. Wife Ruth, 49 Middle Head Rd, Mosman.Thomas Redford was a resident of Warrnambool, Vic. who had served inthe Victorian Mounted Rifles. 2i/c of the 8th Light Horse Reg, killed in tragic charge of the 8th and 12th LH Reg.

RICHARDS, Harry 39; KIA 6-9/8/1915; 4th Btn; Lone Pine. Shorthand expert. Wife Ethel, 169 Ourimbah Rd, Mosman. Served Boer War, British Army. Brother of Alfred Richards, VC, Lancashire Fusiliers, W Beach Gallipoli, 1 of 6 VCs won by the Lanc. Fusiliers “before breakfast”, 25 April 1915. Also brother of Chaplain Robert Richards MCNZEF and C E Richards, 15 Field Co. Engineers, AIF.

SCOTT, Kenneth Lindsay 27; KIA 6/8/1915; 2nd Btn; Gallipoli. Bank clerk. Parents William & Deborah, 55 Macpherson Street, Mosman. Brother Eric Scott, 6LHR.

SENIOR, Sachereval George 30; KIA 7/8/1915; 3rd Btn; Lone Pine. Electrical engineer. Native of Mosman. “Ellsmere” Middle Harbour, Mosman.

STEWART, David 27; KIA 14/8/1915; 2nd Btn; Lone Pine. Accountant. “Fitzroy” Raglan St, Mosman.

STEWART, Donald Edward 26; Died of appendicitis Alexandria 6/8/1915; 1st LH Reg.; Served Gallipoli. Woolclasser. Mosman associations.

TERRY, Edward Churchill 24; DOW 1/ 8/1915; 12th Btn. Porter. Brother of Guy Winston Terry.

TORPY, John Bermingham 25; KIA 27/8/1915; 5th Btn. Clerk. Parents John & Hannah “Karoola” Spit Rd, Mosman. Served in AN&MEF 1914. “… a fair man with blue eyes and medium build who came from Mosman NSW.”

WHITE, Charles Harold Ophir MID 20; KIA 19/8/1915; 3rd Btn; Lone Pine. Electrical instrument maker. “Tareela” Upper Avenue Rd, Mosman. Brother James Nevil White 9th Field Ambulance, wrote to Australian Red Cross as late as 1 November 1918: “ My dear old mother has asked me to write to you to ask if you will do what you can as she feels and believes he is not dead… but is held a prisoner by Turkey.”


1 Maxwell, J. (Joseph), Murphy, G. F., (George Francis), 1883-1962 and Martin, Steve Hell’s bells & mademoiselles ([Rev. ed.]). HarperCollins Publishers, Sydney, 2012. p9

2 Maxwell, J. Murphy, G. F., p8

3 Regiments and battalions from the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 11th Cav. Reg
Extra artillery included Field Snieder Battery; 15cm Howitzer; 12cm gun; 3 × 8.8 cm gun; 1 naval gun; 2 × 12cm Howitzers. Broadbent, Harvey Gallipoli : the Turkish defence : the story from the Turkish documents. Carlton, Victoria The Miegunyah Press, 2015 p. 344

4 Hart, Peter Gallipoli. Oxford New York Oxford University Press, 2011. p. 380

5 Maxwell, J. Murphy, G. F., p12

6 Bean, C. E. W. (Charles Edwin Woodrow), 1879-1968. Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918. Angus and Robertson, Sydney, N.S.W, 1921. Ch. 26 Hill 60 www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1069534—1-.pdf p748-762 retrieved online 10/08/2017

7 Ibid Bean, C. E. W. Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918 p748-762

8 Hart, Peter Gallipoli. Oxford New York Oxford University Press, 2011. p. 381

9 Ibid Maxwell, J. Murphy, G. F., p11

10 Ibid Bean, C. E. W. Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918 p748-762

11 Ibid

12 Ibid

13 Ibid

14 Hart, Peter Gallipoli. Oxford New York Oxford University Press, 2011. p. 381

15 Maxwell, J. Murphy, G. F., p13

16 Bean, C. E. W Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918.

17 Ibid

18 Maxwell, J. p16

19 Hart, Peter Gallipoli. p. 382

20 Bean, C. E. W Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918.

21 Ibid.

22 Hart, Peter Gallipoli.

23 As on the 21st they joined the NZ Mounted Rifles, 9th and 10th Australian Light Horse, Connaught Rangers, Ghurka Riflemen, Welsh Borderers and New Hampshires to take - and hold - Hill 60. The battle lasted into the night as both sides struggled desperately - and paid dearly - for each metre of trench

24 Maxwell, J. p18

25 Hart, Peter Gallipoli. p. 383

26 Broadbent, Harvey Gallipoli the fatal shore Camberwell, Vic. 2005 p. 237

27 Broadbent, Harvey _Gallipoli : the Turkish defence p 343

28 Broadbent, Harvey Gallipoli the fatal shore p. 237

29 Footnote in Bean, www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1069534—1-.pdf retrieved online 10/08/17

30 Rhodes James, Gallipoli, London, 1999, p.310 from Dept. Veterans Affairs Gallipoli and the ANZACs anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/gallipoli-and-anzacs/events/bravery-awards-gallipoli/secondlieutenant-hugo retrieved online 10/08/17

31 Maxwell, J. p19-20

32 Description of the action from Hill 60 - the last battle: 29 August 1915
by Brad Manera forum.gallipoli-association.org/forum_posts.asp?TID=1115&title=hill-60-the-last-battle-29-august-1915

During the first counter-attack the Turks hurled what appeared to be a large biscuit tin full of explosive at Throssell’s position. The blast demolished his wall of sandbags. He and his surviving men were driven back a few metres and threw up another sandbag barrier. All along the line, groups of Turkish infantry assaulted D-C Trench from the north and from the north-east. Lt Arthur Leake was shot in the back of the head while facing an attack from this quarter - the Turks were attacking the newly captured position from three sides. After more than half an hour, the counter-attack was beaten back. But barely had the surviving light horsemen gathered their breath when a second counter-attack emerged from the darkness. A line of Turkish assault troops stormed down from the northeast while teams of bombers probed the rest of the line. They almost reached the barricade of sandbags. A bursting bomb killed Captain Fry, leaving Throssell the only officer alive at the top end of D-C Trench. This attack was also beaten back. The third and most serious counter-attack was made just before first light. Two waves of Turkish infantry advanced, with bayonets fixed, up the gentle slope to the trench from the north. Their numbers seemed overwhelming. Kidd wrote, “the men fought valiantly against great odds. … The trench … & shelters were soon filled with our dead and dying but the few men left under Lt Throssell and Sgt Henderson fought like lions & killed many Turks” . Throssell, in an interview with his hometown newspaper the Northam Advertiser, claimed the Turks who attacked during the 3rd counter-attack appeared to be fresh and very determined troops. These may have been the recently arrived reinforcements from the 17th Regiment. Again Throssell and his men were all injured by bullets and bomb fragments and forced to yield a few yards of trench. Kidd noted, “as Throssell was hit I ordered him to withdraw after pulling out our wounded as these places were perfect death pits”. At the climax of the third counter-attack, the Turks closed to within ten metres of the light horsemen. In one small pocket of the battle Throssell, Henderson, Ferrier, Renton MacNee and Stanley were all wounded but still fighting from their exposed position. McMahon was killed at this time and the Turks launched another attack at the Australian rear. Kidd met this threat by personally leading a dozen of his men in counter-attack. Just as they appeared to be overrun, a small party of New Zealanders and men from the 18th dragged a machine-gun into the open to engage the enemy. Kidd’s men and the machine-gun fire drove them back. It is not clear who dispatched the machine-gun. Whether it was the inspired initiative of an individual or small group will never be known, but D-C Trench held and the attack faded to a deadly bombing and sniping duel. The attack had lasted an hour.

33 adb.anu.edu.au/biography/throssell-hugo-vivian-hope-8806

34 1DRL/0581 Throssell, Hugo Vivian (Captain, Vc, 10 Light Horse Regiment, AIF B. 1884 D. 1933) Letter written by THROSSELL to mother of Cpl Ferrier giving circumstances of his death. Veterans Affairs Gallipoli and the ANZACs anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/gallipoli-and-anzacs/events/bravery-awards-gallipoli/secondlieutenant-hugo retrieved online 10/08/17

35 Bean, C. E. W. (Charles Edwin Woodrow), 1879-1968. Official history of Australia in the war of 1914-1918. Angus and Robertson, Sydney, N.S.W, 1921. Ch. 26 Hill 60 www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1069534—1-.pdf p748-762 retrieved online 10/08/2017

36 Welborn, Suzanne Throssell, Hugo Vivian Hope (1884 – 1933) Australian Dictionary of Biography Online

adb.anu.edu.au/biography/throssell-hugo-vivian-hope-8806 retrieved 10/08/17

37 Our colleague, Janis Papanicolaou’s Grandfather, Stanley Hill, served with Canterbury Mounted’s.

38 James Watson, Auckland Mounted Rifles, quoted in Christopher Pugsley, Gallipoli:The New Zealand Story, Auckland, 1998, p.325 from Dept. Veterans Affairs Gallipoli and the ANZACs anzacportal.dva.gov.au/history/conflicts/gallipoli-and-anzacs/events/bravery-awards-gallipoli/secondlieutenant-hugo retrieved online 10/08/17

39 Maxwell, J. p19

40 “18th Battalion”:http://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11205.asp. First World War, 1914 – 1918 units. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2 March 2009. From 18th Battalion (Australia) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/18th_Battalion_(Australia) retrieved online 10/08/17

41 . He never came back to manage his family vineyards and his parents never recovered from the shock of his death. Back in England his brother Dr. Walter Rupert Reynell - Rhodes Scholar and Neurologist - treated shell-shocked soldiers at Seale-Hayne Hospital, and sister Emily worked as a nurse. His other sister Gladys and artist friend Margaret Preston (nee Mcpherson) taught arts and crafts to heal patients at Seale Hayne.

42 Katherine was overseas in Russia

43 His War Pension also afforded both wife and son some financial security

44 www.theaustralian.com.au/news/inquirer/tragedy-of-anti-hero-shunned/news-story/722edd44b01d9759b9f2cac52e9095a1

45 Film footage is held at nfsa.gov.au/nfsa

46 Franki, George Their name liveth for evermore : Mosman’s dead in the Great War 1914-1918. [Waverton, N.S.W.] George Franki, 2014.

47 Ibid