Hill 60 and the lost 18th: Aug. 27, 1915

Darragh Christie, 27 August 2015 · #

Survivors of the 1st attack on Hill 60 were marshaled for a 2nd attempt, on August 27. The battle lasted into the night as both sides struggled desperately, and paid dearly for the same ground…

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

Act II: A tragic evening.

Joe Maxwell described the afternoon pleasantries of the naval bombardment on the 27th. C.E.W. Bean 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 the charge over no-mans-land fought their way into Turkish trenches. Just in time to help the Connaught Rangers from being overrun in a Turkish counter-attack. Sgt. John McIleain of the 5th Connaught Rangers recalled:

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. [The] Anzacs [were] abusive for Rangers having lost [the] trench. The most awful night of my life.25

The 9th Light Horse Regiment, led by Colonel Carew Reynel, went into the attack at 11.30 pm.40 They moved cautiously from the NZ trenches over the moonlit ground. Reynell, using inaccurate maps lost direction,26 and guided his men onto trenches the 18th and Rangers had already fought over.

A vicious struggle with bomb and bayonet took place. Many light horsemen were caught by artillery and a Turkish machine gun sited down the trench.27

The 10th Light Horse followed the 9th’s attack. They overran a scene of complete carnage. Enemy dead were reportedly piled 6 high.28 Charles 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 Doherty were tasked with digging a trench to support the attack. A horrific job as it turned out:

…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

Cigarette card, ‘Bravest of the Brave’ Source: DVA


After entering Turkish trenches 2nd. Lieut. Hugo Throssel covered for 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 after another. But the Turks kept coming.32 Just when the light-horsemen looked like being overrun, New Zealanders and men from the 18th turned up, with a captured machine-gun. This stopped the attack dead.33

Hugo Throssel didn’t like to talk about the war. But wrote to a mother about her son. 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.’ Source Wikimedia commons.

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 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 one exploded in his hand. He continued on, flinging bombs back with his other arm. Unfortunately 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 (‘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 [Hill 60] 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.

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

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.

Hugo fell into debt during the Great Depression. He 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 to end all wars.’ His brave actions in France with the 18th 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.

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

Articles about the August offensives at Gallipoli.

Hill 60 and the lost 18th. Aug. 22, 1915

Hill 60 and the lost 18th. Aug. 27, 1915

Remembering Major T.H. Redford, at The Nek

Their name liveth

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.

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.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.


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

25 Hart, Peter Gallipoli. p. 383

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

27 Ibid. p. 343

28 Ibid. p. 237

29 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 https://www.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1069534—1-.pdf p748-762 retrieved online 10/08/201

30 Rhodes James, Gallipoli, London, 1999, p.310 from Dept. Veterans Affairs Gallipoli and the ANZACs http://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 http://forum.gallipoli-association.org/forum_posts.asp?TID=1115&title=hill-60-the-last-battle-29-august-1915 retrieved online14/09/2018

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 Welborn, Suzanne Throssell, Hugo Vivian Hope (1884 – 1933) Australian Dictionary of Biography Online http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/throssell-hugo-vivian-hope-8806 retrieved 10/08/17

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. Dept. Veterans Affairs Gallipoli and the ANZACs http://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 https://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 http://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 http://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 First World War, 1914 – 1918 Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2 March 2009. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/18th_Battalion_(Australia) retrieved 10/08/17

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