The plan was logical, but its execution was poor....
The Anzac forces were tasked with seizing the high ground of the central Gallipoli peninsular, then driving across toward the Narrows and the town of Maidos - the military centre for the defence of Gallipoli. Whilst the untried Anzacs attacked the centre, British forces would land at the southern extremity, seizing the high ground of Achi Baba and driving north to meet the Anzacs at Maidos.The Landing was confused even before it began - the landing craft, in unfamiliar waters and without the aid of modern navigational equipment, put the troops ashore at what was to forever be known as Anzac Cove. This tiny strip of land, only as wide as the length of a cricket pitch, became the most heavily contested piece of land on the Peninsular.
As they landed, officers and men shed their packs and climbed the steep banks and traversed the narrow gullies, engaging the Turkish defenders wherever their paths met. As the day went on the confusion grew and by dark there were pockets of Anzacs deep in land even approaching the hills they were destined never to own.
The first few days were spent attacking and counter-attacking the Turks as the enemy sought to drive the Anzacs into the sea. Eventually a rough line of posts and trench systems were established. Bold attacks by the Anzacs failed to drive the boundaries of the beachhead further inland.In early May the NZEF were taken by troopship down to the tip of the Peninsular - Cape Helles. Here they were to take part in a major drive against the entrenched Turkish defenders below the slopes of Achi Baba. The planning was poor and men of the Auckland, Wellinton, and Canterbury Infantry Refgiments fell in their scores on what has forever become known as the "Daisy Patch". Depleted, the NZEF returned to Anzac Cove.
By late May any hope of a quick victory had evaporated. And with it went the novelty and excitement of war felt so keenly by the men before the invasion. The awful reality of war was all too evident.
The Anzacs battled both the Turk and the conditions on Gallipoli. There was no significant water supply and all food, water, and ammunition had to be brought in by sea from Egypt. In return, the wounded faced an 800 mile voyage to Alexandria. The casualties rose, and the suffering continued.
The final great Allied effort to seize the heights and win the campaign was planned in August. The NZEF was to play a central role. Attacking in the dark of the night and the early morning men of the Wellington Regiment took Chunuk Bair. Desperate Turkish counter-attacks took a heavy toll on the Wellingtons, but they held their ground. When relieved two days after taking the Heights, only some 70 or so of the 750 who attacked came down. The troops who relieved them proved inadequate for the task, and after the briefest of moments in our hands, Chunuk Bair again returned to the Turks. Along with this went our last hope of victory.
Gallipoli saw over 2700 men of the NZEF lose their lives. Whilst almost five times as many would forever lie in France and Belgium, Gallipoli has always had a special place in the heart of New Zealand. Every year on Anzac Day, April 25, the Nation stops and remembers.