Thursday, 6 August 2015

6th August 1915

Men of the 3rd Battalion waiting to go into the trenches for the Anzac assault on Lone Pine
at about 4 p.m.  All are wearing their issued white armlets and white square patches on their
backs, intended to aid in distinguishing them when darkness fell.  Two hours after, the locality
in Brown's Dip (just below the 7th Battery's position) was being showered by enemy shrapnel.

Friday August  6 1915

The enemy attacked the trenches we lately captured from them; early this morning (about 4 oclock) and after a stiff fight they succeeded in getting into a portion of our trenches.  They lost heavily in doing so but immediately they got in our trenches we counter attacked and our men drove them out with bombs and the cold steel.  They also lost heavily in this struggle.  We were ordered to stand by our gun at the beginning then we gave their trenches some shrapnel and percussion. The fighting continued up to about 9.30 am. I see some of our dead lying between the trenches and a poor wounded chap who couldn't stand up. He would sit up and then fall over again. The dead Turks are lying about it dozens, some of their dead were bought in by our fellows and they are a terrible ragged lot.  There has been some heavy Artillery dueles to.  One of our Gunners off the No. 3 gun was killed, Hurst.  A lot of troops landed last night Kitcheners Army.  We are all dished out with white calico strips, to put on our sleeves and back of coat so as to distinguish our own men from the enemys.  A lot of Gerkers and Seeks landed last night and a lot of troops this morning.  There is 23,000 of Kitcheners Army here, it is just about 4.30 now, everything is so still, the weather is beautiful, just a nice cool breeze blowing off the sea.  There is four or five cruisers and several monitors and numbers of destroyers.  We are standing by the gun waiting for action and before long shells will be travelling in all directions.  Our old friend the Buchante is down here.  First shell oh.  Well at about 4.40 the howitzers opened out on the enemys trenches at about Quinns Poast then the cruisers, monitors and our 4.7 opened out on the enemys implacements at Olive Grove, the Redoubt    and on Gaba Tepe.  Then about 5 oclock we opened out on the enemys trenches, emplacements so also did our other guns, battries and every gun available.  We were plugging away at the enemys trenches when we got a new target and our Sgt Major who was in charge of our gun said we had better come a little more to the right and as I hopped to the wheel a shell burst in front of the parapet hitting the Sgt Major and he fell down beside me, and poor fellow he was killed outright.  Al this time the shels were tearing up our parapet.  The noise of the bombardment was terrific, one could hardly see a yard for dust, smoke etc. At 5.30 our infintry were to advance and we were to help to cover their advance.  Big shells were coming from the enemys gun boats at the Narrows.  One landed in the roadway nearby and never exploded.  Many others fell close by tearing up the dirt a hundred feet in the air.  Well after plugging away for a couple of hours we got a spell.  Our infintry have advanced to the Lonesome Pine and they are still at it...

 [Billy's diary entries for the 6-7 of August are merged together in a running
commentary of the first 48 hours of fighting during the Lone Pine campaign.
For clarity, the extended entry has been broken into two over the 6th & 7th]

Australian soldiers in the support trenches on Pope's Hill, Gallipoli Peninsula, just before
the commencement of the battle of Sari Bair, in the evening of 6 August, 1915.

Friday 6th August

We had a rather rude awakening early this morning. The Turks opened with heavy fire and attempted to retake the trench at Tasmania Post. There was a tremendous heavy bombardment and incessant rifle fire from 4am till about 8 o’clock.

We engaged one of the enemy’s guns and have an artillery duel. Unfortunately our gun pit Embrasure fell in and put us out of action. I was temporarily out of action as I had not recovered from my indisposition and had to look on. I feel very much broken up or down in health which ever one might term it. We had the first batch of casualties at our gun this morning. A fine little chap named Wm Hurst was shot in the lungs and died in a few minutes. We buried him just before sundown.

All day long our detachment worked very hard to square up the gun pit and final arrangements were made for the coming attack. A message was read to us from General Birdwood as to the duty of every man and that he was sure all, Australians and New Zealanders would maintain the splendid reputation of their past actions at Gaba Tepe. From what we could ascertain the Division of Troops landed during the last few days were to push ahead on the left flank and all along the line there would be a general advance [illegible] heavy fighting. Every man had to wear a distinguishing mark of a white band on each arm and a square patch on the back so that our own men could easily be distinguished in any operations during the evening. Those markings we put on at 4 PM and about 5 o’clock the battle commenced.

Our gun fired nearly 200 shells before midnight and put in splendid work. I felt very miserable not feeling very well and did not appreciate the excitement attending the manoeuvres. My head was splitting. After a few hours of the commencement of the fight word came through that our infantry had taken a number of trenches on Lone Pine Ridge. It was magnificent I was told by an eye witness to see our lads charging the enemy’s trenches and clearing the Turks. They were supported by the Tommies who also leaped over the trenches and joined in the great charge. Our gun was fired intermittently during the night. At daybreak (of 7th) things were quieter and well down below our landing Base of Anzac could be seen a number of Troopships and Cruisers and from the former thousands of Troops were being landed. No sooner on shore than they pushed ahead in companies to take part in the charge being made on the left.

The Cruisers were pouring shell fire well over to cover the advance of our men and as can be naturally expected the Turks were sending plenty of shrapnel towards the shore. Where I was looking from of course one could not tell the effect of the shooting. Altogether it was a most telling time.

(Captain William Charles Waite, temporary O/C 7th Battery)

A big attack was delivered by the enemy on this day.

0515 Engaged an enemy gun firing from 68.R on TASMANIA POST with 9 rounds from No 3 Gun.

0545 This gun was again engaged with 8 rounds.

0635 The Bastion Trenches were observed to be lined with Turks supporting with fire an attack on TASMANIA POST fire was brought to bear on these from No 2 Gun at a range of 675x fuze 1.4 7 rounds being fired.  For some reason these rounds did not burst in air + owing to close proximity to our trenches I decided it unadvisable to shorten the fuze.

0655 1 round was fired at enemy’s gun on 68 R from No 3 Gun but owing to overhead cover on our pit taking fire, fire had to be stopped.

0930 No 4 Gun opened on enemy on SNIPERS RIDGE getting good effects with 4 rounds.

Gunner Hurst was killed by rifle fire while running up gun.

1730 Following on the bombardment by the Navy the following targets were engaged

No 1 Gun – Y JUNCTION Square 67 Z 3 + Gully to East of TWIN TRENCH KNOLL Square 68 Q 8
No 2 Gun PINE RIDGE BASTION Square 68 H 68, communication trench GUN RIDGE Square 68 N 6
No 3 Gun BIRD + ECHELON TRENCHES 68 Q + L.  The Pip Squeaker Gun 68 R S.W. Corner + South end PINE RIDGE Square 68 M
No 4 Gun SNIPERS RIDGE + South East slopes of Contour 400 Square 68 H + B.

Our Guns No 2 + 3 came under heavy fire from Enemy Gun on GUN RIDGE + in OLIVE GROVE.  Sergt Major Handford in charge of No 2 Gun was killed early in the action.

No 4 Gun in supporting our infantry attack on LONE PINE did effective execution on the enemy + assisted by fire in repelling counter attack several times during the night 6th/7th.

"Looking over the parapet at about 6 p.m., during the Anzac attack on Lone Pine. The patch
of daisies over which the First Brigade charged are visible in the foreground.  The blurred
patches in the distance are clouds of dust raised by our bullets about Jolly trenches, from
which the enemy fire mostly came" - taken by Captain C. E. W. Bean.

Friday August 6th 

Enemy did not wait for us to attack him today but commenced on us at daylight. I was awakened by heavy rifle fire and found the enemy was attacking Tasmania Post and Leanes Trench.

By dint of a very free use of powerful bombs the enemy got possession of a part of Leanes Trench, but was promptly turned out with the bayonet. I think we had a good many casualties but we also know the Turks suffered heavily. Fire was kept up all the morning. At 10 o’clock I interviewed General Hobbs at 8th battery. Arrangements completed for cooperation with Gen. Ryrie’s Operations for tonight. Visited 7th Battery and carefully went through all orders with battery Commander. At 4.30 PM intense bombardment of Lone Pine was commenced. Ground fairly trembled with Lyddite detonations from Howitzer shell. Navy also cooperated. Our old friend , H.M.S Bacchante again assisting. 1st Brigade attacked at 5.30 and succeeded in securing Lone Pine, the enemy retreating. Plenty of Shrapnel shell on Tasmania Post and 7th Battery. Three Casualties in BAC at 7th Battery, and Sergt Major Handford killed. Enemy reinforcing right flank to extent of about 1000 to 1500 men. Fully expect they will heavily counter attack tonight. Several Casualties in 5th Lowland Battery in front of my Head Quarters, including one of their officers. Many casualties among new English (Kitchener Army) arrivals in Victoria Gully. I understand these troops have at last been moved. Received letters from Olding and Selwen re transfer to 3rd F.A. bde.


1614 Gunner William Macleod Hurst, aged 20

Born in Brisbane on the 2nd January 1895, William Macleod Hurst told a white lie on enlistment, claiming to be a year older than he actually was. A native of East Brisbane, William was a 7th Battery 'original', travelling to Egypt for training & on to Gallipoli with his fellow artillerymen. Surviving through the first 3 months of fighting at Gallipoli, William was felled by a bullet through the abdomen in the early stages of the Lone Pine Campaign, very likely from one of the many Turkish shells fired on the 7th Battery's positions - by Bombardier Sparke's account, he died within a few minutes from his wound.  William was buried in the Shell Green Cemetery, just behind the 7th Battery Guns, just before sundown, presided over by Irish Jesuit Priest & military Chaplain Father Michael Bergin.

Captain William Charles Waite, who was commanding the 7th Battery at the time of Gunner Hurst's death (during Major Hughes' absence), wrote home to William's parents in the hope of providing some small condolence in their time of loss.  The letter was published in part in the Brisbane newspapers at the time, including The Telegraph on the 23rd October 1915, & The Week on the 29th October 1915Heartrendingly, a photo was attached to the excerpts, which had originally been published on its own in the Brisbane Courier on the 4th September 1915 - the very same day William's family received notification from a Priest stationed at Gallipoli, of their son's death a month earlier.  This photo has been reproduced below, as republished in a "Voices from Anzac Cove" article in the Herald Sun on the 20th April 2014, alongside the original excerpt published in the Brisbane newspapers:

Captain C. N. Waite, of the 7th Battery, Field Artillery, writing to Mrs. Hurst, mother of Gunner W. Hurst, from Gallipoli, on 20th August, says : It is with extreme regret that I write to tell you of the death of your son.  Gunner W. Hurst, who was killed by rifle fire on 6th August.  The battery has been in some hot positions of late, and we naturally must expect some losses, but it is very hard to see such a brave and able soldier, who had been with the guns from the beginning, go after so many weeks.  He was really held in high appreciation by all who knew him, and personally a braver or more conscientious soldier I have never had under my command.

1601 Battery Sergeant Major Frederick Douglas Handford, aged 30

Born in Kent, England, Douglas Frederick Handford (or Frederick Douglas Handford under which name he enlisted), earned a living as a Railway Porter based out of Warwick in Queensland.  Promoted to Battery Sergeant Major just prior to the 3rd Field Artillery Brigade's embarkation on board the A22 Rangatira, B.S.M. Handford oversaw the mens' training at Egypt before deployment at Gallipoli.  As per Billy's diary above, Frederick was struck by shrapnel after a Turkish shell hit the parapet of No. 2 Gun's pit, & was killed outright.  Due to the ongoing fighting at the time of his death, Frederick was buried the next day at Shell Green Cemetery, on the 7th August 1915, presided over by Chaplain E. Maxted - this was likely 613 Private Spencer Edward Maxted, who had originally attempted to enlist as a Chaplain, but was denied & in turn re-enlisted as a stretcher-bearer with the 1st Field Ambulance.

No comments:

Post a comment