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PLAQUE NO. 6...
COURTNEY'S AND STEELE'S POSTS          

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Plaque Text. On the morning of the landing, Australian soldiers reached this ridge and on its seaward side they dug in to form a forward line. Despite many attempts this line advanced no further and throughout the campaign both sides fought at close quarters across the length of the narrow crest now covered by the road. The cemetery is built over tunnels dug from the south of Steele's post. The front line trenches of both sides were located just forward of the crest with support trenches 5 to 10 metres below, and the main reserve trenches a further 15 metres down

Text from Gallipoli Plaques Book*
These two positions were reached on the morning of 25th April. The Australians dug into the side of the hill to secure firing positions so that the advancing Turks of the 57th Regiment could be stopped. over the next few days no further advances were possible by either side, and so the trenches were deepened and communicating trenches dug between key positions. Although Steele's and Courtney's Posts were separated by a jutting portion of this crestal ridge, they were soon linked by tunnels. Barbed wire was strung in front of the trenches and, to improve the defensive positions, forward saps were dug at nighttime. These saps were 20-30 metres in front of the main trench and provided listening posts to warn of any impending attack. Similarly, the Turks dug their defensive positions on the other side of the road which now runs through what was, then, No-Man's-Land. There was a constant rattle of fire from machine guns and rifles along this ridge.

On 19th May 1915, at 0300 hours, the Turkish General Essad Pasha massed his army here for what was to be the largest Turkish attack of the campaign. All along the front line, large numbers of Turks charged valiantly across this narrow ridge. The most concentrated attacks were here at Courtney's Post and at Johnston's jolly which is to your immediate left. 42,000 Turks charged that day and they suffered horrific casualties as the ANZACs had been forewarned.

All along this ridge, Turks lay in their thousands. Many were killed outright but large numbers were wounded Five days after the attacks both sides agreed to an armistice in order to bury the dead, as the thousands of bodies had attracted disease-carrying flies and caused a sickening smell which pervaded the whole area. Fighting ceased for nine hours; during that time soldiers of both sides mingled freely, exchanging gifts and greetings, but after the dead had been buried the men returned to battle.

These attacks gained neither side any ground, except at one stage when Turks entered Courtney's Post. They were soon repulsed and it was here that Lance Corporal Albert Jacka won Australia's first Victoria Cross of World War I.

The Turkish trenches opposite this position were well-made, with concrete fire steps and bricked walls. Turkish positions, particularly around Johnston's jolly, were on inclines less steep than those of the ANZACs and had, compared to the Allies' positions, an abundant supply of water. In summer, however, the worst problem for both sides was the millions of flies which bred in the waste and the dead lying in No-Man's-land. So bad was the health problem that more men were taken from the battlefield due to sickness than to wounds.

Turkish soldiers, on the whole, were better able to withstand the harsh conditions than were the Allies. They were used to surviving on a meagre diet and accustomed to living in climatic extremes with poorquality clothing and equipment. Most of the Turkish infantry were Muslims, and the Christians and Jews amongst them were recruited into work battalions, but almost without exception Ottoman troops were patriotic and highly-dedicated soldiers for whom no sacrifice was too great in defence of their homeland. Although their senior commander was the extremely capable German General von Sanders, the Turkish commander Mustafa Kemal Bey (later Kemal Ataturk, first President of modem Turkey) emerged as the greatest leader of the campaign.

The next plaque, No. 7.... Quinns Post, is located 300 metres north along the road.

* - - 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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