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PLAQUE NO. 8 ... THE NEK        

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Plaque Text. This key position was defended vigorously by both sides and saw repeated attacks across the narrow ridge. The Anzac trenches were located close to the cemetery and the Turkish trenches originated near to the raised dark stone memorial on your right, and ran in 8 tiers to the top of the first hill (baby 700). A courageous but futile attack by the Australians was made on August 7, 1915, when over 300 men were killed in the area immediately in front of you.

Text from Gallipoli Plaques Book*
Across this narrow ridge the two armies opposed each other throughout the campaign. On the day of the landing some Australians, under Captain Lalor (grandson of Peter Lalor of Eureka Stockade fame) reached the crest of Baby 700; this is the first hill to your right. They were forced back after losing many men, including Lalor from the courageous Turkish counterattacks organised by Mustafa Kemal, On that first day a defensive position was secured here, where the cemetery is now sited. From that day on, both sides tried at various times to take the area of this narrow ridge. To the left and right of this 20-metre wide crest are steep precipices along which no attacking force could hope to advance. Only across this ridge could either side attack.

In the great Turkish attack of 19th May, determined attempts were made to cross this area but were repulsed by Allied machine gun fire from the area in front of you, from Russell's Top to your left, and from Quinn's Post to your rear.

The Allied commanders decided to attack the Turkish positions on 7th August at The Nek in an attempt to draw off Turkish reserves from the impending attack on Chunuk Bair. in a coordinated plan to follow the Lone Pine attack the 8th Australian light Horse (Victorians) and 10th Australian light Horse (Western Australians), who fought dismounted throughout the campaign, were ordered to charge across this open ridge soon after daybreak. As each line of 150 men emerged from their trenches they were met by withering Turkish fire. Most were cut down as they left the trenches, and four lines of men were sent to almost certain death. Over 300 of Australia's finest young men were killed in an area no greater than two tennis courts, and for absolutely no military gain. Their bodies were never recovered and their remains lay unburied here until after the war. Their names are recorded on the "Memorial Plaques to the Missing" at Lone Pine The futile Australian attack at The Nek in the 1981 Peter Weir film "Gallipolo".

To the right of the plaque, in the shade of the pines, stands the Turkish memorial to Sergeant Mehmet who, like Lalor, fought courageously on the first day of the campaign, rallying his men and holding the line until he was killed. The position of this memorial marks the beginning of the Turkish front line and the furthest point reached by the men of the Light Horse on 7th August. Just to the left of the memorial is the spot where Lalor and his men dug in on 25th April and were overrun.

The burial of most of the dead from this campaign did not occur until 1919, after the war. The War Graves Commission spent four years organising the cemeteries which you now see. It was an immense undertaking; there had been approximately 51,000 Allied soldiers killed at ANZAC, Cape Helles and Suvla Bay, of whom over 30,000 had no known grave. As well as the Allied dead, there were at least 86,000 Turkish bodies which had not been buried.

Proceed to Plaque No. 9 ... Chunuk Bair, by returning to the main sealed road, turn left and follow the road up the hill for 1.8 kilometres. The plaque is located near the New Zealand Memorial.

* - - 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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