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PLAQUE NO. 9 ... CHUNUK BAIR          

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Plaque Text. New Zealand and British soldiers climbed from the beach under the cover of darkness and launched a surprise attack on this hilltop, capturing it on 8th August 1915. They held the area immediately around the New Zealand memorial for 2 nights until, against constant and courageous counter-attacks, the Turks retook the summit. As part of this offensive British forces landed 7 kilometres to the north at Suvla Bay and by mid-August most of the area between the foothills and Suvla was in Allied hands. The Turks however held the vital high ground and never again were the Allies to view their goal - The Dardanelles.

Text from Gallipoli Plaques Book*

The Chunuk Bair plaque and Gallipoli Map stand below the Mustafa Kemal statue that stands over the trenches atop Chunuk Bair.


Prime Minister and Mrs Howard Anzac Day 2000 with Dr Bastiaan at the Chunuk Bair map.

This hill is one of the three major points on the Sari Bair Range (the others are Battleship Hill located between Baby 700 and here, and Hill 971 which is the highest point on the range). Chunuk Bair was the centrepoint for a major offensive undertaken by the Allies on 6th August 1915. The New Zealanders were assigned the task of attacking this hill whilst 29th Indian Brigade moved against Hill Q which stands between Chunuk Bair and Hill 971. The New Zealanders began the attack from the beach area (North Beach) below you and, in an amazing sequence of events, reached this peak almost undetected on the morning of 8th August. They hastily dug a forward line (near the New Zealand Memorial) and prepared to defend it against inevitable Turkish counterattack.

Concurrently, the left assaulting column under Monash (later to become one of the greatest Australian generals of World War 1) carried out a much wider flanking movement starting from 2 kilometres further down North Beach than did the New Zealanders. This force encountered harsh terrain and became lost in the entangling gullies and ravines around to your right.

The New Zealanders, with the aid of a small British force, held the crest of Chunuk Bair for two nights against repeated and courageous Turkish counterattacks. The Turkish commander, Mustafa Kemal, recognised the importance of this hill as it overlooked the Turkish lines and also the Dardanelles, eight kilometres distant. The New Zealanders were relieved in the line on the night of 9th August by British units (6th North Lancashires and 5th Wiltshires) that had been part of the new forces landed at Suvla Bay on 6th August. On the morning of 10th August the Allies were overwhelmed by a huge counterattack and forced down the hill onto Rhododendron Ridge, along which a fire trail now runs. Never again would the Allies take this hill, nor view the Dardanelles.

The loss of this key position effectively spelled the end of the Gallipoli Campaign. The dead of both sides littered the area and, as at The Nek were not buried until after the war.

New Zealand erected a national memorial on Chunuk Bair because it was here that her soldiers held, for a brief moment, centre stage in the history of the British Empire and, perhaps, of the world, To the right of the New Zealand Memorial are reconstructed trenches which follow the course of the original New Zealand and Turkish trenches dug in August 1915.

The Allies were by now exhausted. Not only had they lost thousands of men for little tactical or strategic gain; the men who had fought at Lone Pine, The Nek and Chunuk Bair had been in poor health for many months with dysentery and other illnesses. There emerged a cynicism amongst the soldiers as to the ability of their senior commanders. They had been thrown into poorly-planned attacks, often against impossible odds. The same could be said also of the Turks who had suffered even greater losses. Discipline held on both sides, however, and the two armies dug in for the winter.

Throughout the campaign the Germans had played a prominent role, providing skilled leadership and substantial technical support and equipment. This support increased markedly when Bulgaria entered the war on Germany's side in October 1915, opening a clear passage for heavy artillery to reach Turkey from Germany. The Allies could not hope to hold out against German siege artillery, and political forces in Britain were growing tired of the failures of the campaign-and so the seeds of the evacuation were sown.

* - - This text is taken from "Gallipoli Plaques, A Guide to the Anzac Battlefield", by R.J.Bastiaan. 2nd Edition Published by ANRAB Pty. Ltd. 1991.  

 



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