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C.W.G. No1 Fisherman's No
2 Old No 3
Depot Outpost. Hut Outpost Outpost.
Looking North from Walkers
(Sat 3 July)
– Fine day. Reported sick and missed fatigue. Mail came into day, scored three.
Matson went away to Lemnos.
Around this time a
Turkish plane flew over and dropped propaganda leaflets, the contents of which
amused the troops. The Turks said that the British were using the Colonials for
their own end, and that if they surrendered they would be well looked after. If
they didn't’ however they would be starved into submission and driven into the
sea. The episode broke the monotony of battle.
(Sun 4 July) – Fine day. Shower of rain last
night. On Q.M.S fatigue. Turks searched flay for battery. Had a bathe. Turks
hit a transport today. They had a shot at a destroyer in the dusk.
At Cape Helles the enemy submarine U-21 appeared again and
torpedoed a French transport ship the ‘Carthage’. Fortunately the troops aboard
had already disembarked, and before the ship sank, she was run aground.
(Mon 5 July) – Fine day. Reported sick. Lay about
camp. Sent to hospital. Warship in Bay today.
Dugouts clinging to the sides of cliffs.
Some rest, some play cards and some guard the position.
The Battle of Gully
Ravine finished on this day with the Turks making a large counter attack. The
Turkish casualties for the period between 28 June and 5 July are estimated at 15,000 - four
times the British losses. Where possible the Turkish dead were burned, but a
truce to bury them was refused. The British believed the dead bodies were an
effective barrier, and that the Turkish soldiers were unwilling to attack
across them. This was one of the few truly un-valorous and un-magnanimous acts
committed by the Allies, which infuriated the Turks greatly.
There were a number of
ships and destroyers moving about off the coast on this day, and over night the
Turks had brought forward into range, a large 11-inch gun. None of the huge
shells managed to find their target, but when they burst in the water they sent
up a column of water over 50 feet high, which was impressive. A destroyer
managed to get the correct range and silenced it before
the day ended.
(Tues 6 July)
– Fine. Nothing doing. On fatigue at 3.30, struck a good job tunnelling. Rum
issue for night. Sapping out parties. Two Maoris, and three Mounted men hit by
Sapping out was the digging of tunnels and trenches forward from
the front -line into no-mans-land. Once deep enough, the ends were connected to
form a new front- line closer to the enemy. The men called on to perform this task, had to contend with both sniper
and shrapnel fire as they scraped away the earth. The dead of No Man’s Land made it unpleasant, and those close
enough were often hooked into the trench; rolled into a ground sheet; and
carried away for burial. But the flies and the stench of those that remained
(Wed 7 July) – Fine. I lying piquet today. Did a
roast on terrace below firing line. Good few 75mm shells firing.
The Turks shelled Courtney’s Post with high
explosives during the day, killing a number of men and badly wounding many
more. Some were buried in the trenches they occupied and could not be saved.
Engineers building another pier down at Anzac Cove also came in for a pasting
and had to scramble for their lives. One of the shells hit a steam-pinnacle and
put a hole in it.
Reports started to come through that cholera had
broken out amongst the Turks.
8 July) – Fine day. Went for a bathe. Anafata gun tried to shell us but
could not get the angle. Went with Charlie Baldwin to outpost well. Saw ----- ? -------- and I picked up a
shilling each. Holiday for us. Bit of a
stir among the destroyers this evening. Could not find a cause.
Outpost-contained the best well at Anzac. It provided much needed water, and
was capable of supplying the needs of 20,000 troops and 4,000 mules each day.
(Fri 9 July) –
Fine. Nothing doing. Went and got water and wood. On fatigue tonight. Mail
today and received a parcel from Countess of Liverpool Fund. On depot fatigue
helping unload stores and building offices. It finished early in the morning –
had a tote of rum and some biscuits.
Countess of Liverpool Fund was founded to send parcels of socks and other
useful articles to the troops overseas.
(Sat 10 July) –
Fine. Had a bathe. Nothing doing.
warship 'Agamemnon’ came close in to shore during the afternoon and heavily
bombarded a hill to the south of Gaba-Tepe She was later joined by H.M.S.
Chatham. Observation balloons and aeroplanes were active during the day helping
them search for targets.
(Sun 11 July) –
Fine day. Compulsory church parade. Big
mail today, received parcel. Had attack practice. Battleship accompanied by
convoy of destroyers came up and put in some broadsides.
The battleship HMS Doris
came across from Imbros harbour and took up a position near Anzac Cove. The
observation balloons were able to give accurate range for the big guns on the
ship and there were sheets of flame as broadside after broadside were fired at
the enemy positions. The ground shook like an earthquake.
(Mon 12 July) –
Fine day. Nothing much doing. Turks put a few shells into trenches – five or
six men wounded. On fatigue at 3 o’clock. Helping to make galleries. Rum issue.
Trench warfare at times
became boring to the young troops as they sat for days huddled in their holes
in the ground. To relieve the boredom they broke out in song, and sung the
popular tunes of the day, and much to their amazement were sometimes
accompanied by a Turk with a mouth organ from a far away trench. One of the
Turkish rest areas possessed a gramophone, and the scratchy sound of its
playing could be plainly heard along the lines. Then there was always a good
laugh at what was written in the ‘Peninsular Press’, newspaper, printed for the
troops, by Headquarters.
(Tue 13 July) –
Fine day. Matson came back with a load of stuff. Turks put a few big shells
into the sea. Inoculated for cholera today. Big mail today.
Trooper Matson had returned to fight again after being sent to Hospital on Imbros Island. No doubt he took
advantage of what was available for sale from the islanders.
Russells The Ari
Top Sphinx Burnu
Looking down onto Mule Gully
from the Walkers Ridge track.
(Wed 14 July) – Fine day. On light duty for 24 hours on
account of inoculation. Went to Outpost with Charlie B. Heavy bombardment of
point today. Fulton and Joe Chamberlain returned today.
Sergeant Frederick Fulton
11/411 and Trooper Robert Chamberlain 11/23 had been wounded during the
fighting around Old No 3 Outpost on 29-31 May.
(Thu 15 July) –
Fine. On fatigue early this morning helping to shovel earth away from No 8 sap
– few bullets flying. On fatigue at depot filling water bags then went around
to the base – few shells came along. Doing well for food latterly. Saw warships
bombarding Achi Baba.
aeroplane was over the enemy trenches on this day doing a little observing and
they tried to shoot it down. Over thirty shells were fired at it but not one
hit. The puffs of the exploding shells could be seen by the troops below who
sat spellbound expecting any minute that the next shot would result in a
(Fri 16 July) –
Fine day. On water fatigue. Squadron in
laying piquet. Struck a trip out to No 2 Outpost for water. No sentry duty -
and all things quiet.
The troops new something
big was brewing. The visitors to General Birdwood’s Headquarters at the Cove included, Admiral De Roebuck, and a French General and his staff.
(Sat 17 July) –
Fine. Came down from piquet to help get breakfast. Went around to base for a
bathe. Saw some shells land in stuff and blow it to pieces.
this evening, to the accompaniment of rifle and artillery fire, the troops of
the WMR held a concert on the slopes of ‘Wellington Terrace’. There were signs
that some of the men had talent for entertainment as well as fighting.
(Sun 18 July) –
Fine. Moved into trenches – relieved Canterbury. General upheaval, moving after
a month in rest camp. Took gear up in two loads. On water fatigue. Twelve of us
put into a bombproof shelter – horrible hole. Bombs, shells, and bullets
The Turks were thought to
possess poisonous gas and so some men were given respirators at around this
time. It consisted of a bag that fitted over the head with a piece of
gelatine/mica to see through. The material of the bag was soaked in a special
chlorine-absorbing chemical. As only 5000 were supplied, Roderick does not
mention having received one of theses devices.
(Mon 19 July) –
Fine day. Felt crook this morning on account of the foul air. Not very pleasant
cooking and eating food in the trenches on account of the smell of dead Turks,
flies, and people passing. The troop moved into the advanced sap at 6pm. Dead
Turks lying just a few feet from the sap. Saw monitor and warship shelling
On this day Private John
Robert Dunn, aged 26, of the Wellington Infantry Battalion 10/594, was Court
Martialled at Anzac Cove. The charge was that he had ‘slept at his post’ on the
18th July, and his sentence was death. He was one of 28 New Zealand
servicemen who were Court Martialled during WW1. Five were executed and the
others given a pardon by the NZ Government in September 2000.
Private Dunn was given
mercy and lived to fight only a few more weeks before he lost his life on
Chunuk Bair. His body was never found. Before enlisting at Masterton he was a
(Tue 20 July) –
Fine. In sap all day. Pretty rotten living in sap with dead Turks just a few
feet away from parapet. Sap is so shallow I cannot stand up and Turks are only
fifteen or twenty yards away. Relieved at six o’clock.
Sapping is a term used in
siege operations where a trench is excavated, usually under rifle or artillery
fire, to advance the frontline closer too the enemy.
Before the sap is deep enough to stand-up in, all digging is
carried out on the stomach or crouching behind the parapet formed by the
pilling up of the loose soil on the engaged side. As the saps were dug through
No-mans-land, it was not uncommon to come in contact with the dead.
The temperatures were now
starting to be very high indeed and were taxing the men out in the open without
shade. They were reporting to the medical stations with heat exhaustion in
The Big Sap
(Wed 21 July) – Fine. In support today on water
fatigue – carried up a bag of mail –had a bathe. Relieved party in the sap in
the evening. Very quiet night. Did not eat in trenches this time.
One of the early tasks given to the men of the Mounteds, the Maori
Battalion and the Australians was to assist at night with the widening of the
8-foot deep, Big Sap, which wound its way 3 miles along the northern coastline.
This needed to be done in order that both men and mules could pass in the
trench, and that supplies could be built up at the outposts. The early part of
the trench lay through sand and had been easily widened, but the later section
was toil through harder clay soils and stones.
(Thu 22 July) –
Fine. Rotten day in the sap. Had a
sleep in the tunnel and nearly got poisoned by foul air. Relieved in the
evening. Three stand-to-arms, and a lot of humbugging about, on account of
expected attack, but nothing happened. Slept nearly all day.
Reports had been circulating that the Turks had received
fresh reinforcements of 100,000 men over the last few days, and an attack was
expected soon. Destroyers and Monitors offshore-fired salvo after salvo at any
sign of enemy troops coming forward to the frontlines.
(Fri 23 July) –
Fine. Mail today – scored one letter. Slept nearly all day. Had a good feed –
pilled into sap in the evening.
With the hot weather the
‘Anzac uniform’ became hat, boots and shorts only. The half naked men were
black from sunburn and dust.
(Sat 24 July) –
Fine day. Doubled sentries last night but nothing happened. Our people exploded
a mine – set the Turks going somewhat. Destroyers and Howitzers stirred Turks
up a bit.
beach received a pounding on this day from accurate Turkish guns. Men were
caught bathing and unloading supplies from barges. Five killed outright and
over fifty injured.
(Sun 25 July)
–Fine. In support today – standing to arms nearly all night. Broke a tooth this
morning – went down to Doctor. He sent me to the Australian Hospital Dentist –
he tore my mouth up and did not get the tooth. Troop went into sap – Turks
threw an incendiary bomb, which burnt one-man a bit and exploded two of our
bombs. Somerville went away today.
*Trooper Stanley Wharton
Sommerville 11/587 of Wanganui. He
was later killed in action at the battle of Hill 60. His body was never
(Mon 26 July) –
Fine day. In sap. Turks doing a good
bit of shooting. Nothing much doing. Dead Turk lying in front of sap caught
fire this morning.
would describe how the bodies of the fallen in no-mans-land would swell up
after the first weeks of death, and then over the following weeks slowly shrink
in size, until finally they would blend into the soil around. In the extreme
heat some bodies became combustible.
(Tue 27 July) –
Fine day. In the support trenches
today. Fixed up Webb equipment and turned in bandolier and pack – had a bathe
and a good feed today. New hospital ship came up today. Turks stirred things up
with a 75 (pounder) last night. Relieved troop in sap.
A 75 Pounder artillery
shell was one piece of Turkish armament that the troops did not relish being on
the receiving end of. It had enough explosive power to level parapets and fill
(Wed 28 July) –
Fine day. Quiet time last night. Saw
two Turk bomb throwers about fifteen yards from trench. I threw a flare and
they threw a couple of bombs. Heads expected attack but none came off. Very hot
sitting in the trench. Filed out in evening – in support all night.
Inoculated for cholera again.
The usual shelling of the
beach occurred during the day, which resulted in about 8 killed and 40 wounded.
One of General
Birdwood’s staff was killed instantly by a shell blast as he stood outside the
Headquarters doorway. After dark a four-gun battery of 60 pounders was landed
at the Cove. These large guns could fire a shell some 11 miles.
(Thur 29 July) –
Fine day. In reserve today. Very tired
– went straight to sleep in dressing station. During the night “M” fell off a ledge on top of me. Went back
and slept in pretty late – had a quiet day. Went back into sap again.
For sometime now, tactics
were used to make the Turks expend more ammunition. Whistles were blown, or
signal lights flashed, in order to bluff the enemy into thinking an attack was
imminent. Dummy figures were even placed over the parapets to indicate a
possible attack. The result made very nervous Turks fire hour after hour to no
(Fri 30 July) –Fine. In trenches – had a good
place this time. Turks were burning bodies in the night. Good bit of bombing
and shelling going on – filed out in the evening. In the afternoon all hands
made a demonstration on account of victory in Persian Gulf.
(Sat 31 July) –
Fine day. On water fatigue. Slept over
stand too. Packed up and carried all our gear to new position. In a good billet
this time. Had two bathes – very hot today. On general duty for 24 hours. German plane up this morning - one of ours
up this evening.
For some months both sides had been using
aircraft for military surveillance The Turks had received new ‘Gotha’ German
aircraft on July 5th. The
arrival of these created a sense of victory on the part of the Turks, and
anxiety on the part of the French and British as it was truly a remarkable
piece of hardware for its time. The
British were using Sopworth Seaplanes launched from a ship, but they often
encounter problems when being lowered or retrieved from rough seas.
(Sun 1 August) –Fine day but windy. On duty at
outlet of trenches. Attack on right last night – Australians took a couple of
trenches –a lot of shooting around during the night. Good bit of sniping in
On the dark moonless nights
of the following days the transport ships silently anchored off the Cove and
discharged many battalions of Kitcheners Army. By the time the sun rose again
all trace of the ships had disappeared, and the troops they disgorged were
hidden from aerial observation.
Sunday Church Service below the Sphinx.
It was vital for a chance
of success that nothing unusual, however little, should be visible by the Turks
during the days before the battle. There was only one place for the nearly 30,
000 men, guns and stores to be hidden, and that was underground. During the last few weeks in July the Anzac
troops had dug, roofed and covered not less than twenty miles of dugouts.
Everyone grew tense in anticipation.
1 August 1915,
My Dear Son,
I have received some field
cards; also a letter on the 8 July, your date is 16 June. I am so very pleased
to hear from you, and about the farm I often think and wonder why I should work
so, but I think my young Son is away and doing his duty for all, with a lot
more Brave boys, but I do hope and trust my son will come home again and enjoy
the pleasure of the little farm. I hope
you will be pleased that I am getting Milking Machines in. I am sure you will
think that I am not sitting down. With the help of Robson, I hope to make
things very much more improved. I am getting the house fenced in.
I have got a very nice Bay,
as I could not do with the Jones. I am quite clear of all them. Bert who is
with me, expected to go to Camp in August, but he has been very bad, but is
better again now. You will be surprised to know Jean is up with Alex. She was
not to well, so she has gone up for a change. Your sister Agnes has been very
ill, 3 weeks in bed, so Jessie is down with her. Flora stays with me to go to
school. Jack is still doing well on his farm; he has a very good man just out
from the Old Country. Alex writes to me pretty often. I think Whangaehu is much
about the same my dear.
I do hope you get things and
they find you still doing all right, for there are such a lot of Wanganui boys
killed or wounded. I wish I were rich like a shipmate of mine Mrs Batt. She is
older than me, and has offered to go to nurse the wounded, and pay her own
expenses and help. She has been accepted and is on her way to England. I do
think it is very nice to be able to do, but I must think of my Boy coming home,
as Mrs Batt has no son. Such a lot of the folks ask for you. Mrs Hood saw me in
town and she came to ask after you. I am afraid to tell news of the boys, as I
want you to get my letters. I am sending two papers for you my Dear Son. I
close this letter, longing to find you well without a hurt.
your ever loving mother
Mary A McCandlish
Roderick was not to read
this letter. It was returned to the family with his few possessions a few
months later. Agnes and Jean were sisters and Alex and Jack (John) were
brothers. Jessie McCandlish was an adopted daughter, and Flora McCandlish was
John’s (Jack) eldest child. At this time of writing we do not know who Bert was. On the day his mother wrote this letter, Roderick was sending the following card to her.
(Mon 2 August) –
Fine. Off duty today. Turks shelled the
flats heavily today. We are having a good rest now. Went on duty in sap this
As well as dig dig dig, the
troopers were being required to haul up water tanks, which were then hidden and
filled, in time to supply the new comers. Everyone sensed from the activity
around, that the next move on the battlefront was going to be big.
(Tue 3 August) –
Fine day. On duty in sap. Nothing doing – getting a lot of sleep latterly.
This is the last entry that
Roderick made in his diary. The amount of work required over the next few days,
meant that there was little time left to make daily comments. Before the troops
headed off for the coming battle, their personal belongings, including diaries,
would have been left at their bivvies.
The landing of the new men began in earnest this night, and the work schedule doubled. The newcomers consisted of a Division of English soldiers and a Brigade of Ghurkhas. Every man that could be spared from the front trenches went to the piers and in the seven hours of semi-darkness they covered up all traces of what had come ashore. Over a three night period the new comers landed at the rate of 1500 an hour, and over one thousand tons of shells, cartridges and, food as well as hundreds of horses and mules, large guns, three hundred water and ammunition carts came ashore. Nearly all of the men gave up most of their sleep.
(Wed 4 August) – The men, between fatigue duties, were spending more time in preparation for battle. Rifles were overhauled, water bottles were filled, ammunition checked, bayonets were sharpened and gear and private possessions were looked into. . Last minute diaries were written and letters dispatched. Between briefings for the offensive, men of the New Zealand Divisions were put to work in widening the “Big Sap” from below Walkers Ridge to No 2 Outpost. For the coming operation, the sap had to be wide enough for mule and man to pass in the dark. It eventually became 9 feet deep and 5 feet wide.
Above ground by night, they upgraded the road that ran parallel to it, in preparation for the movement of large artillery pieces. A risky task as the Turkish artillery still sent over shells, even though they could not see their target. In addition the sheltered sides of Rest and Reserve Gullies were terraced to accommodate 9000 additional men who had arrived to strengthen the fighting force now totalling 37,000 men. They then packed up all unnecessary items that they had collected during their recent stay, and piled them into the regimental dump
(Thu 5 August) – The ANZAC position at Gallipoli had become a stalemate with no prospect of victory, and so it was decided that the key too success was to capture Chunuk Bair, one of the high ridges on the peninsular. The approach was to be made along Rhododendron Ridge, which ran from the beach at No 2 Outpost, through Table Top and the Apex to the peak of Chunuk Bair.
The New Zealand Mounted Rifles and Maori contingent were firstly to clear the foothills of enemy, and then the NZ Infantry Brigade, under the command of Brigadier General Johnston, were to pass through the captured area and climb quickly to take the Chunuk Bair heights. They were to be helped on their left by a large allied force that was to be landed in the north at Suvla Bay.
During this advance, attacks were planned along southern sections of the front line, in order to draw Turkish troops away from the heights Most of the movement of troops was to be carried out at night, through thick scrubby country with uncharted steep ravines and ridges.
A very risky manoeuvre.
During the late afternoon, the Mounteds moved down from Walkers Ridge and moved out along the sap to the back of No 1 Outpost where they bivouacked for the night. Each man was given two days rations; two sandbags; a field dressing; “Jam-Tin” bombs with slow fuses; and a bandolier containing 200 rounds of ammunition. They had been ordered to leave their tunics, great coats and blankets behind at the Ridge, and so on this cool night they made do with their oil sheets.
(Fri 6 August) – In preparation for the battle, white patches were sewn onto the trooper’s sleeves and the backs of their shirts. Every soldier prayed that the artillery observers on land, and out to sea would recognise these markings and not fire on friends when the advance had begun. In the evening they had a good meal, and a ration of rum, and as dusk approached they moved into the Sap. Together with the other thousands, they moved along it at a slow pace towards No 2 Outpost. The severe heat of July and the effects of dysentery had taken its toll on the Mounteds, and their fighting strength had been reduced from 2500 to 1900 men. Many were thin and tired, as the rate of work had exhausted them. They were only a shadow of the force that had left Egypt only a short time before.
No 1 Outpost was the “home” of the Maori Pioneer Battalion, and as the troops moved northward, there drifted up from the darkness behind, the haunting sound of five hundred Maoris warriors, chanting in prayer. For this was to be their first great trial in modern warfare. At Outpost No 2, the sides of the sap had been cut away to enable the troops to move out quickly into protected areas, and as each man reached this destination the Padre shook his hand, and with a “God Bless you my Son” they passed out into battle. Roderick and the 6th moved to an area behind Fisherman’s Hut, and making themselves comfortable, settled down to await orders.
Fisherman's Hut 1997
At 8.45 in the evening, they moved from their position behind Fisherman’s Hut, out into the valley of the Sazli Beit Dere. Each of the Wellington Mounted Rifle Squadrons was allotted a particular task in the battle to follow. Roderick and the 40 men of the 6th Squadron were to advance up the valley first, and clear a long Turkish trench that obliquely connected Old No 3 Outpost and Destroyer Hill. They were then to clear the enemy from Destroyer Hill, and to neutralise any Turkish troops still stationed in the valley. These attacks were to be carried out with bayonet only, so the men advanced quietly forward to their objective. The 2nd Squadron was to move through after the 6th had achieved their objectives and were to take Table Top at the head of the valley. The 9th Squadron was to move through and hold that position after it had been taken.
At 9 pm the nightly bombardment of the Turkish positions began. The beam of the searchlights from the destroyers at sea, hunted out targets and the accompanying shots were an eruption of black smoke among the Turkish trenches. On Roderick’s left, the Auckland Mounted Rifles had advanced to the ramparts of Old No 3 Outpost, and on the cessation of the bombardment at 9.30pm,they quickly succeeded in overcoming the surprised Turks who put up a desperate close quarter fight. It was a strong position, protected by barbed wire, shielded by shell-proof head cover, and mined in front with 28 electrically operated mines. So successful was the attack that the Aucklanders were able to despatch the Turkish soldier who sat at a switchboard ready to detonate the mines, before he could lift a finger. A 100 Turks were killed and a few prisoners taken. The Aucklanders lost 7 men killed with 15 wounded.
over the Sazli Beit Dere Valley taken from the top of No 2 Outpost.
This photo covers the area
of the 28-30 May fighting, as well as the advance to Chunuk Bair.
Fisherman's Hut is at the lower right - just off the photo.
|Large shells from battleships were firing overhead onto
Table Top as Roderick advanced in the dark, along the creek bed. The odd
machine gun spurt from high above kicked up the sand at their feet as they
doubled around corners. As they moved around a ridge, Turks in a trench
opposite opened fire, and bullets started to come from all directions. Led by Major Dick, the 6th charged forward at the enemy with bayonets drawn, as they could now see the gun
flashes about 15 yards distant.
In the front row one trooper was shot through
the head, followed shortly by two more who went down wounded. Three concussion
bombs were thrown which went off with a spectacular flash but did not appear to
stop the firing. They were just about on the Turks when Major Dick fell, hit by
a shot. As he lay there he called out “Go on boys”, and they threw themselves
at the enemy. There was a general mix-up in the dark, with a few shouts, yells
and moans, but the trench was taken. The Turks were despatched with the bayonet – “not a pleasant job – but a
Joe Chamberlain had
been hit through both wrists and the stomach, and was suffering a great deal.
He was in extreme pain and was asking for morphia. Unfortunately the
stretcher-bearers were unable to reach him in time and he died shortly
* Lance Corporal Robert Guy Chamberlain, 25yr, was the son of Robert &
Ellen Chamberlain of Wanganui. He was a Prefect at Wanganui Collegiate College
in 1909, and a fine sportsman. He is buried at No 2 Outpost Cemetery.
The troop moved off to give support to the Aucklanders, and to catch fugitives from Old No 3. None came, so they waited quietly near the communication trench for further developments. One or two Turks hiding in the surrounding scrub put in an appearance, but were shot by the Squadron before they could raise an alarm. To their right they found a well-used track leading to the Turkish post at Destroyer Hill. Moving forward cautiously, they scrambled the sides of the hill and surprised the Turkish defenders. A number were killed and eight prisoners taken.
The surprise had been so complete that at the time of the attack the 6th came across a Turkish Commander being served breakfast by his batman.
Up ahead at the end of the valley, the enemy had set alight to the scrub, which together with the pall of smoke, the beams of the searchlights, and the flashing and roaring of shells on the crest, was a scene not to be forgotten.
At 3am in the morning the 6th moved forward through the thick scrub to the end of the valley, and as they advanced, Turks that had hidden in the scrub were spotted and dispatched. This move placed them below the cliffs of Table Top, and below a narrow spur that connected it to the ridge leading from Old No 3 Outpost. As they huddled together in this narrow dry watercourse, some 20 feet above them, they could hear the sound of approaching Turks.
To be caught in this position would mean certain death, as there was no protection. Retreat was hopeless. As the men crouched low in silence, waiting for a bomb to be thrown, they looked up to see 100 or so Turks looking down at them and babbling excitedly. Fortunately for all concerned they were prisoners being led back from the attack on Old No 3.
Some hours previously the WMR 2nd Squadron, carrying packs of thirty pounds, had climbed these 600-foot, steep clay cliffs of Table Top in the dark, and surprised the Turks in the trenches above.
The cliffs of Table Top.
Led by Major Elmslie, cutting steps with an entrenching tool, they single filed upward, with nearly the last 100 feet of the peak being a precipice such as no mountaineer would willingly climb without clear daylight. The hillside was free of loose stones fortunately, and so the falling earth made no sound as the steps were cut. Half way up the Squadron had to lie low for some five minutes as an incendiary bomb lit up the sky around them
It took thirty minutes to gain the top where quickly and quietly the 20 men assembled. They fixed bayonets and moved forward to capture the Turkish trench at the rear of Table Top at 11pm. The surprised Turkish outpost was overpowered and silenced. The men of the 2nd Squad had captured the steepest and most difficult of the Mounteds objectives
Further north on that same nigh, men of the Canterbury and Otago Mounted Regiments had attacked Bauchop’s Hill and Walden’s Point to extinguish a large Turkish force entrenched in those hills. For both Regiments the fight was a grim one in the dark, as they fought hand to hand up the ridge. By the next day the force had lost 34 men killed and 65 wounded, out of strength of 350. Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Bauchop, after whom the hill was named, was mortally wounded in this battle.
To the south of Roderick, at exactly 5.30pm in the afternoon, one of the diversionary attacks planned for that day was about to undertaken by the Australians at Lone Pine. The sounds of the preliminary bombardment could be heard echoing through the hills. The Australians cleared the parapet in three waves on a front of 160 yards. The Turkish front line trench was not an open ditch like most trenches, but was covered along all its length with sandbags, wooden beams, and in some places with a couple of feet of earth. From under this cover the defenders fired at the Australians through loopholes, causing many casualties.
The only way to attack was to drop into the communication trenches at the rear and fight their way back into the Turkish front line through the tunnels. The fight in the dark, narrow trenches was like “a rat fight in a sewer” and the hand-to-hand fighting that ensured was of murderous intensity. All the ground that was won by the Australians at Lone Pine was actually reached within a couple of hours of the start of the attack. However, the battle itself raged for another six days as the Turks counterattacked incessantly and at great cost. Over 2000 Australians and 5000 Turks lost their lives in this engagement.
(Sat 7 August) – During the night the he 6th were anxious to get out of the valley, and at their first attempt to scale the sheer cliffs of Table Top some men of Roderick’s section slid back down to the bottom. They soon realised that the slow and methodical cutting of steps with a bayonet was the only way they were going to be able to join their comrades on top. The high ground was eventually attained and on the top the 6th found themselves surrounded by the medics who were bandaging both Turk and Anzac wounded.
To one side, 200 prisoners where being guarded, before being sent down to the prison- camps on the beach. The prisoners were stripped of their arms and bandoliers, and in general seemed to bear no regret. They offered cigarette, money, biscuits and mementoes to their captives, and surprised and embarrassed the Mounteds by wanting to shake hands with them. One can only imagine that the Turks had thoughts of survival behind these deeds.
Table Top was a flat exposed plateau of about four acres linked by a narrow saddle to the western end of their objective, Rhododendron Ridge. It was in direct line of fire from the enemy on Chunuk Bair, and the Regiment suffered casualties from stray bullets. One such bullet hit Major Chambers and he was killed while lying on the ground talking to a fellow officer. His body was taken for burial at No 3 Outpost.
Until daybreak the men dug in on the newly won plateau, for as daylight approached, there were no places to take shelter from the Turkish fire. Where possible men took over the Turkish trenches and dug in as fast as they could. Some attempted to scratch holes in the steep face of Table Top and even used captured enemy rifles to provide a veranda shelter against the flying lead.
At around 4.30 in the morning, as the WMR troops on Table
Top looked towards their old stamping ground of Russell’s Top and the Nek, they
were to witness an amazing spectacle.
Left: Taken after the war during the building of the Nek Cemetery over 'no-man's land.'
Russell's Top trenches in the foreground.
Turkish trenches and Monument at top rear. The head of Monash Valley to the right.
The Nek was pounded by high explosives from the destroyers off shore, causing dust and a pall of black smoke to hang over this narrow area between the Turk and Australian lines. The shelling lasted for only ten minutes, and was followed by a tornado of machine gun fire, building to a high-pitched continuous note. It lasted for some 15 minutes before calming, only to be followed some few minutes later by a repetition of the first incident. For a third and forth time it happened. Those on Table Top, and the surrounding hills, knew from their experience, that these battle sounds were not the sounds of victory. The survivors of the coming battle would later learn what happened over that short period of time.
It was the infamous charge of the Australian Light Horse. One cannot be quite sure why it happened, but the attack was set for four waves of 150 men to make a bayonet charge across no-mans land to take the heavily armed Turkish trenches some yards away.” They did not question that they must attack. Every man assumed that death was certain, and each in the secret places of his mind debated how he should go about it”. At the end of the final charge, 234 were dead and 138 lay wounded out on the unprotected ground. That Turkish trench was never taken during the rest of the campaign.
The sun rose on a beautiful day, and the view of the sea and surrounding landscape from these heights was superb. For the first time they were able to see farther north to the great white salt patch of Suvla Bay. During the night a great fleet of transports, lighters, war-ships, destroyers and twelve hospital ships had assembled off that coast, encircled by a protective torpedo net. Already they could see thousands of men, horses and artillery forming up on the beaches. This was the British force that was to take the left northern flank and help them capture their objective. What the men looking on did not know was that the landing was not going to plan and that the delay was to have dire consequences. The sloping rocky beach; the marshes and sand dunes, and the accuracy of the Turkish artillery had hindered the progress of the 30,000 men to form up and capture the northern area.
As they looked down from the heights of Table Top, to the right and left, trails of sweating men and mules moved up the narrow twisting ravines. But moving in the other direction were the bandaged, bloodstained and often limping wounded. Those who accompanied the prisoners to the coast were able to see the now many hundreds of wounded men were being brought back to lie beneath No 2 Outpost in the blazing sun, with helpers and stretcher bearers trying to comfort them with water and food. The hospital tents were riddled with bullet and shrapnel holes and both medics and helpers were being constantly hit There were some terrible wounds, and the surgeons doing amputations of arms and legs were kept busy coping with the influx. This would only get worse through out the next few days of fighting.
Some of the Mounted were sent back to successfully deal with snipers, still hidden in the scrub behind the advancing line, while other men of the troop went back to bury their dead mates and to erect a cross, before they themselves were moved onwards and upwards once more into conflict.
The New Zealand Infantry Brigades four battalions, numbering some 2800 men, had moved up the valley on either side of Table Top, and once past it, climbed up onto Rhododendron Ridge. They took up a defensive position at a knoll dubbed “The Apex” at about 6am, leaving about 500 yards further on to capture the heights.
The View from the Apex on Rhododendron Ridge.
Much has been written about why Brigadier General Johnstone did not take this opportunity to attack the small number of Turks that held Chunuk Bair on that early morning. The Canterbury Battalion had become lost in the ravines and Johnstone decided to wait for their arrival before proceeding.
By 8am the opportunity for a swift victory had been lost, and a reinforced Turkish force had already begun firing on those at the Apex. Nevertheless at 9.30am General Godley ordered Johnstone to ‘continue the attack at once’. Heavy losses were inevitable, if not a total annihilation of the attacking party.
The newly arrived men were ragged, haggard and weary, but still ready to meet the enemy with unconquerable courage. 200 yards forward of the Apex was another knoll called the “Pinnacle”, and the narrow neck of land between them was barely 30 yards wide. Every advancing man had to cross this stretch in full daylight, and the enemy were able to fire on them from the front and both sides.At 11am,the Aucklanders, supported by the Ghurkhas, were the first to move forward, only to be mown down line after line as soon as they appeared. The only hope of survival was to drop down into the steep ravines on either side and move carefully forward. By midday only 100 of the 300 sent forward had reached the Pinnacle where they furiously dug in under fire. The Otago Battalion was ordered up to assist the hapless Aucklanders pinned down in shallow trenches. As they advanced forward over the same ground, the battalion was swept away by a bombardment from every available Turkish gun, and the dead and the wounded lay thick together in their hundreds. The men later named the episode as ‘Godley’s Abattoir’.
from the Apex looking towards the South.
Malone of the Wellington Battalion, who regularly put himself on the line for
the welfare of his men, refused Johnstone’s order to also attack, saying “No,
we are not taking orders from you people. My men are not going to commit
And so the day
ended. It was said by the Australian official historian, Charles Bean, that the
capture of the foothills by the NZ Mounted Rifles was a “magnificent feat of
arms, the brilliance of which was never surpassed, if indeed equalled, during
Malone of Stratford. Aged 56.
(Sun 8 August) – Colonel Malones Wellington battalion and the Gloucesters
tried again at 3am and too their amazement, were not challenged before they
reached the crest of Chunuk Bair. They
were briefly able to view water in the distance. At last, Anzac troops were on
the summit, gazing down on the Straits of the Dardanelles. The two Turkish
battalions that had occupied the crest some short time before had dwindled to
just a few. It is thought that the earlier naval bombardment, and the loss of
two Turkish Generals had temporarily distracted the enemy.
Malone decided to hold the shallow Turkish trenches at the crest, with a reserve trench 50 yards behind. The ground was hard and rocky and it was only possible to scrape shallow trenches amongst the rocks. By 5am the Turks were counter attacking the Wellingtons. The slope of the hill was steep at this frontline position and the Turk could get within 20 yards of the trenches without being seen.
All day the Turks showered them with grenades, enfiladed them with machine guns, and sprayed them with shrapnel; but they held on. The New Zealanders fought desperately to hold off the enemy, firing their rifles and those of their fallen comrades until the rifle was too hot to touch. . Men were using three rifles and each was burning hot.
Malone coordinated the front line defences, as the raw New Army of the Gloucester and Welch Pioneer Battalions, crumbled on either side. A gallant party of the Auckland Mounted Rifles was able to join them in the late afternoon.
A mis-directed artillery shell killed Colonel Malone, the inspiring colonel of the Wellingtons, during this bitter battle. After the war the Malone Memorial Gate was erected in his honour at his hometown of Stratford in Taranaki. Many thought that he should have won a Victoria Cross.
As darkness fell in the evening the fighting subsided and the Wellington Battalion was relieved. Out of the 760 men of the battalion who had reached the summit, 711 had become casualties. The offensive had stalled. General Godley remained at his headquarters near the beach, largely ignorant of the state of the fighting. All over those forward slopes to the left of the New Zealanders, were troops of the British New Army, the Ghurkhas and the Indians. Many of them were to suffer a similar fate to Malone’s Wellingtons. Being shelled by their own artillery, and opposing heavy enemy attacks.
The bulk of the British New Army however were still doing nothing at Suvla and were in great confusion and chaos.
During the battle on the slopes of Chunuk
Bair this day, Corporal Cyril Bassett a 23 years old in the New Zealander
Signals Company was to win a V.C. After the New Zealand Brigade had established
itself on the ridge, Corporal Bassett, in full daylight and under continuous
fire, succeeded in laying a telephone line from the old position to the new one
on Chunuk Bair. He also did further gallant work in connection with the repair
of telephone lines by day and night under heavy fire.
He is quoted "I
was so short that the bullets just passed over me".
Bassett went on to
serve in France where he was wounded at the battle of Passchendaele and again
at the battle of the Somme. He was discharged from the army and returned home
only to enlist with the New Zealand forces in WW2.
Back on Table Top the Wellington Mounted Rifles knew very
little of the progress of battle only a thousand yards further on. The previous
night had been warm and clear with a superb showing of stars, but accompanied
by the noise of battle that seemed to fill the whole sky and earth. When the
enemy had sent up rockets that burst into dazzling lights, the troopers
crouched lower in the scrub and trenches so as to escape detection. The day
passed with more digging and reinforcing of the trenches and parapets, and they
began to wonder at what point they would enter the fray up ahead.
In the late afternoon, having received orders to move, they passed down a winding track on the northern side of Table Top into the dense thicket of the Chailak Dere. There they turned to the right, and headed up the narrow ravine, together with other troops and laden mules struggling for a place in the que They passed the returning wounded and men laid low by snipers, until they reached the head of the gully after an hour of trudging. They pushed into the scrub on either side and settled down to rest their weary bodies. Most were weak with dysentery and with the intense heat and short supply of quality water they were just about done in.
They made the most of the short break, and in the coolness of the approaching evening, orders came to move out.
This time it was to be to the front firing line in support of their comrades on the summit of the hill high above. They made a quick meal from available dry rations and attempted to locate fresh water for the journey. Most men got half a pannikin full of petrol-tainted water from a passing mule train.
On darkness they moved out, each carrying a pick or shovel and two bombs, and moved towards the din of battle. Shells shrieked overhead and burst on the silhouetted crest of Chunuk Bair and these were accompanied by the incessant sound of bursting bombs and rattle of musketry. Roderick and the men of the WMR did not know of the plight of Malone’s troops up there in the darkness of the frontline. As they moved forward they passed hundreds of wounded lying at dressing stations, some of who were to give them a word of encouragement. Others lay moaning and delirious with shocking wounds. There were simply not enough medics or stretcher-bearers to cope. It took six men to get a stretcher down from the high slopes of battle, and four men to make the long hard journey to the Casualty Clearing Station on the beach.
As they neared the end of Chailak Dere they climbed-a ridge to their right, out onto a pitch-black plateau. They lay awhile until they got their bearings, and then following a telephone wire up towards Chunuk Bair they set off stumbling over the rough scrubby ground. Stray bullets hit troopers, some fatally, while others wounded were limping or crawling back from whence they had come. The further up the slope they proceeded the more they came upon wounded men in the scrub who pleaded for help and water which they were forbidden and unable to help.
They pressed onward towards the now visible semi-circular frontline that was lit up by spurts of flame. Some 20 yards behind this line they came across an area 100 yards in width where men lay dead and dying, and equipment and rifles were strewn in all directions. The Turks lined the far ridge only some six to eight yards away, and they were pouring fire into the frontline trenches at point blank range. Accompanied by the screams of Allah, Allah, some would rush forward to throw a bomb into the thin line of hard-pressed fighters.
At 10.30pm, they occupied the shallow trenches beside Malones Wellingtons and found it difficult to gain an unexposed firing position. The dry hard ground made a deep trench impossible, and there were many dying and wounded men taking shelter at the bottom. The rear reserve trench was full of dead men, and the odd wounded man who raved in delirium for water that was not to be had. There were now a total of 583 men garrisoned on that crest.
Looking down Rhodendron Ridge
from the position of the trenches on Chunuk Bair in 1997
In 1915 the road did not exist, and the ridge was covered in low burnt
The Wellington Mounted Rifles advanced to
this position from the middle right.
(Mon 9th August) - Through out the night the men tried to both improve their trench positions and fight off the determined enemy. The ground was hard and unyielding, and at the very most the depth of the trench was only to be 1 metre, with a few sandbags on the parapet. The earth they dug away consisted of a sticky mass of blood, soil, ammunition and gear of all sorts. They sifted through it for usable ammunition and bombs and the rest went into strengthening the parapet. All the time the shadowy outline of the enemy were popping up into view on the crest-line and for a brief moment they were a target before the bomb was hurled towards them The Turk had started to place the bombs inside socks in order to gain further throwing distance. The fire onto the men was of terrific intensity but the small battered force held the ground against all odds.
At 4am as dawn broke, it revealed a ghastly scene on this Gallipoli hilltop. With the advantage of daylight, the Turks attacked with increased vigour. The front trench became so clogged with bodies that the New Zealanders stood on top of them. Having no bombs, once again they were to catch the Turkish ones and throw them back. In the heat and dust of the moment, some stripped down to only fighting in singlets. The accounts of the fighting in those forward trenches are horrific. One account given by a survivor when asked what he remembered about Chunuk Bair said, with tears in his eyes," It was the colour of the earth. It was red. It was the blood of my mates”.
They fought on, half expecting any minute to be helped or relieved by a relief force. It was not to be the case on this day. The wounded lay dying and moaning and some tried crawling back towards the rear, often only to be shot when they were exposed on the rear slopes.
As the fighting position became visible to the artillery and Naval observers, a vicious shelling by howitzers and large naval guns commenced. The shelling reached a crescendo that had never been seen during the whole campaign, and the shells roared and shrieked up from behind and burst on a continual shattering crash on the few hundred yards of the battlefield that separated the opposing forces. Those Turks, unfortunate to be on the receiving end of the bombardment, were flung high into the air together with earth, equipment and sandbags. But the dead were rapidly replaced by fresh comrades, and they in turn were given the same savage treatment. The air was a cloud of green smoke and was thick with the choking smell of cordite. But the proximity between the New Zealand trenches and the enemy lines made this shelling a hazardous undertaking and before long many shells were starting to fall short.
The telephone wire had been cut, so men vigorously waved yellow and red flags to signal the artillery observers of their predicament. But their perilous position could not be marked because of the dust, smoke and rising sunlight. One after another the high explosives landed on the New Zealanders in the left of the line, and gaps began to appear as men disappeared in a cloud of earth. A survivor of the battle reported that one explosion killed upward of eight men. At one stage a section of the frontline appeared to be weakening under this onslaught, and three officers sprang from their shallow trench and hastened to restore the breach. Major Elmslie and Captain Kelsall both were killed during this critical period.
It was one of these shells that surely killed Roderick and his mates during this August morning. Clutha McKenzie was with Roderick on this day, and he recalls the flash and impact as one landed in front of him. The concussion was so great that it blew both his eyeballs out. The story of his miraculous escape from that hell is unimaginable. Blinded and in severe pain he was able to crawl back down the 200 yards into the head of Salzi Dere ravine where he stayed for many days with hundreds of other wounded and dying men, before being evacuated from Anzac Cove.
For Roderick, Dick Sweet and Archie McMinn the battle was over. One does not wish to contemplate whether their death was quick and painless, for those still alive had no time to find answers. By five in the morning, the worst of the attack was broken. By which time half of the defenders had fallen. . Further attacks came until 7am, but were repelled by vigilant rifle fire. At 7.30 Colonel Meldrum requested reinforcements, ammunition and water. Because of the exposed position, only 50 soldiers of the Lancashires managed to reach his position by midday.
It had taken them four hours to cover the 800 yards from the Apex. Anything they could use for the fight was scrounged from their comrades lying nearby, and they continued on through the hot day, often using the bodies of their fallen friends for cover.
As the day progressed the troops on the front line suffered an ordeal even more intense and dreadful than Malone’s men had endured. Bombed, shelled, sniped, raked with machine-gun fire, and suffering extremely from thirst, they refused to be dislodged. Their only relief from the cramped shallow trench, that contained the bodies of their dead or wounded comrades, was when they emerged to charge the crest line with the bayonet.
And so for the rest of the day they held onto the little foothold they had made on that god-forsaken ridge of Chunuk Bair. They had held those trenches for over 36 hours, and were exhausted. As one trooper said, “If Johnny Turk had known how few of us were left, he would have been very surprised”. By that evening the Wellington Mounteds had lost 110 men killed or wounded, out of 183, and the Otago’s had lost 327. - Godley decided to consolidate.
(Tue 10th August) – Before dawn on this day, the remnants of the Wellington Mounted Rifles were withdrawn leaving behind the bodies of their fallen comrades. One body that they did retrieve was that of their courageous Major Elmslie who was taken by the remaining men back down to Old No 3 Outpost where he was buried next to Major Chambers. The battalion was 760 strong at the start of the attack on Chunuk Bair, but on this day only 17 came back alive.
They were replaced by 2000 untested new troops of the North Lancashire and Wiltshire Brigades who tried to hold that tenuous foothold on the forward slope.
Mustafa Kemal the Turkish General remembered;
“It was early in the morning and dawn was about to break. I was just standing before my tent, and I could see all the men. The time was 4.30 am, and I was worried about my men waiting in thick infantry lines. If the enemy opened fire on these thick lines, it would be disaster. I immediately ran to the front to greet and inspect the men and said- Soldiers I am sure that you will defeat the enemy, you do not hurry, let me go first, when you see my whip go up, you all go together-. All the men were in attack position, one step forward, rifles with fixed bayonets, officers with revolvers or swords in hand, tuned in for my signal”.
When Kemal gave the signal, 5000 men charged over the Chunuk Bair ridgeline onto the British trenches. Kemal had ordered his troops to win or die, and with shrieks of ‘Allah’ they poured down the slope.
Those in the opposing trenches heard the rumble before they saw the bayonets. The onslaught wiped out the luckless Lancashire Battalion to the last man and the Wiltshire’s were killed or driven into the steep valleys either side of the plateau. The Turks swept down the ridge only to be brought to a standstill by New Zealand machine guns firing from the Apex. At that moment the Navy was presented with its finest target, and with heavy artillery, killed thousands of the Turkish infantry as it passed down from the crest of Chunuk Bair. Both the Apex machine-guns and the Navy artillery, did not distinguish between friend and foe in this rush of humanity.
While Mustafa Kemal watched the fighting, a piece of shrapnel hit his pocket watch and protected his life. He was destined to save his country, and went on to become the founder and President of the Republic of Turkey. Today a monument to him stands on the heights of Chunuk Bair at the spot that he directed the battle, right next to the New Zealand War Memorial.
About 1000 British were killed on this morning, the rest driven off into the surrounding gullies to join the other wounded escaping the battle. For many of these wounded men of the previous days battle it would take upwards of three days before they were able to reach the coast and safety. Many died in those ranges despite the struggles of the Australian and New Zealand stretcher-bearers to bring them down through the steep gullies to aid-posts near the beach. Sniper fire directed at the wounded and the stretcher-bearers accompanied them most of the way down.
At the beach were hundreds of wounded men, waiting to be attended to, and all the time as they lay there in the open, bullets and shrapnel flew about. Some were in so much in pain that to be hit at this time could have been a blessing.
Ridge and the slopes of Chunuk Bair is
one large cemetery to the many thousands of troops from both sides who lost
of the frontline trench are still to be found on the slopes of Chunuk Bair
the pine- needles and scrub lies the debris of war.
Across from Outpost No 2, a small jetty was constructed called Embarkation Pier, and it was from this point that the wounded were going to be taken out to the awaiting hospital ships. The Turks thought that military supplies were going to be unloaded and stated to shell the position, so many wounded had to retrace their steps back down the Big Sap to Anzac Cove.
The Apex now formed the new frontline on Rhododendron Ridge and the fighting continued elsewhere, but there would be no more attempts to capture the heights. 12,000 men died in those four days, and General Hamilton was removed from his office shortly after this dreadful episode.
The New Zealanders alone lost 890 men on the slopes of Chunuk Bair. 850 were never identified including the bodies of Roderick, Dick and Archie.
After the war, the burial teams discovered thousands of bones that were gathered to form the War Graves Cemeteries. On the summit of Chunuk Bair stands the New Zealand Memorial in honour of those who died. The trench where that final battle took place is still visible to this day, as a shallow scraping on the forward slope of Chunuk Bair.
On 13 November 1915 there arrived at Williams Pier, North Beach, the Anzacs most illustrious official visitor – Field Marshall Lord Kitchener, the British Minister of War. He had come to assess the military situation on the peninsular for himself. As a result of this inspection, it was decided that all forces should be withdrawn before the onset of another winter.
The last boat to leave Anzac did so from North Beach. At 4am on 20 December 1915, Colonel J Piton, the commander of the rearguard, declared the evacuation complete as the last lighter with troops pulled away into the dark. He decided to wait for 10 minutes for any stragglers. None came. At 4.10 Piton’s party embarked, Piton himself being the last to leave. It was ironical that not one Anzac was killed during the secret evacuation. Most New Zealand soldiers went on to fight in the terrible conditions that were in France and Belgium, but the Wellington Mounted Rifles returned to their old camp at Zeitoun ready for another objective in the continuing war. As 1916 begun, the Mounted Rifles were ready to contest a new campaign in the deserts of Sinai and Palestine and this time it would not be fighting on foot, but once more mounted on their faithful steeds.
Roderick’s mother did not know about the outcome of the battle, until on 9th September, in the Auckland Weekly News, he was reported as Missing- in-Action. Her first indication that he had died may have come from the following letter, received some 4 months later in January 1916.
& New Zealand Base Depot.
9th December 1915.
Dear Mrs McCandlish,
I am writing a few lines to let
you know that you owned a Son to be proud of. I am very sorry to have to write
to you on this mission, but the dear boy died a brave mans death. Roderick was
a great chum of mine. We first met in Palmerston North, and we stuck together
in the same section of four of us. Roderick, Dick Sweet, Archie McMinn and
myself, and they were all killed at the same time on the morning of the 8th of August.
Dear Mrs McCandlish, I am sending
you the only thing that I could get of any interest to you, and that is a diary
that he started to keep from the day we left Wellington. Well dear Mrs
McCandlish I am in England now, and if I have the luck to get back to Wanganui
I would like to meet you and then I would be able to tell you more about your
brave Son. My mother lives in Wanganui
and she would be pleased to meet you any time that you may go to Wanganui. She
lives in 29 Guyton Street. Well Dear
Mrs McCandlish I must say good-bye.
I am Your Deepest Sympathiser.
11/692 Tpr H.J Matson.
6th Wellington Mtd Rifles.
* Trooper Herbert John
Matson was from the small township of
Research shows that
Roderick and his friends were killed on the morning of the 9th of
August at approximately 5am. The total confusion of the battle over those few
days as well as fatigue could have meant that Trooper Matson was confused as to
when the event took place.
Sweet of Mangaweka was born on 29th July 1891 at Fielding. He was educated at Nelson
College and joined the Wellington Mounted Rifles in 1914, taking his own horse,
Jack, and saddle from the farm. He was 24 yr of age when he was killed in action.
No photograph is available of Trooper Archibald
Huie McMinn. His next of kin were Robert & Catherine McMinn,
Heathfield, Campbelltown, Argyllshire, Scotland.
6th May 1916.
Dear Mrs McCandlish,
I have just received your most
welcome letter today. It was dated 22nd February, so they have taken
a good while to come over. You were saying that you are trying to find my
mother. Well my mother’s address is Hepa Street, Wanganui East. I am sorry to
hear that you don’t think that you can manage your farm, as it would seem a
pity to have to give it up. I am pleased to hear that you received Roderick’s
diary all right. I must say that if I
was in your place I would be very proud to have had such a Son as Roderick. He
was one of the finest dispositional men that ever I met, and no matter what
hardships he had to put up with, he always had a smile and a pleasant word for
everybody. I absolutely used to love him. I often think of dear old Roderick,
and the first time that I met him in Palmerston North. He was in the tent next
to mine, and all the men that were in his tent were transferred to the Machine
Gun Section. So Rod came and asked me if there was any room in my tent, and I
said yes. He came in, and then joined my section, and was with me all the time
up until he was killed.
I have been in England since the
22nd of September, and am on Staff now, so I don’t know when I am
going back to the front. I am on the Detention Police Staff. We are having some
very nice weather and the country is getting very pretty now that all the trees
are out in leaves, and there are lots of flowers out in bloom.
Well dear Mrs McCandlish, I must say
goodbye, with all my regards to the family.
I am Yours Sincerely,
H.J Matson. 11/692
|In October 1923, Mrs
McCandlish received the following letter from the Government.
4th October 1923.
Dear Mrs M.A McCandlish,
It is with deep
regret that I have to inform you of the receipt of advice from the Imperial War
Graves Commission that although representatives of the commission have searched
and researched the area in which the above named soldier fell; the grave has
not been identified. By arrangements with the Imperial War Graves Commission,
the New Zealand
Government will erect memorials to the missing in selected cemeteries in the
various theatres of war, each memorial bearing the names of the missing in the
area represented by the memorial. The above soldiers name will be inscribed on
the Missing Memorial to be erected in Chunuk Bair Cemetery, one and a half miles
from the Anzac Landing, and I hope in due course to forward you a photograph.
Ataturk Memorial at Anzac Cove