(Above painting by Ellis Silas; AWM 2436)
Adapted from the book Don't forget me, cobber! by Matt Anderson
The ANZACs Day
25 April 1915
Very early on the morning of 25 April 1915, long before sunrise, the ANZACs were getting ready to go into battle. They had sailed from Egypt, and now lay off the coast of Turkey in the darkness. They quietly climbed down rope ladders and stepped into small row boats. These were then towed as close as possible to the beach before the men rowed the last part to the shore. They had practised this many times. But they were still very nervous. They didn't know if the Turkish soldiers would be awake, or how many there were. All they knew was that once ashore, they had to go inland, as far from the beach as possible, and make room for more men to land behind them. That was the plan.
(Above) A recent photograph of ANZAC Cove. (Anderson)
Suddenly, a bright flare went up into the sky, turning night into day. The ANZACs were still making their way to the shore. Then the machine-guns and rifles opened up.
The ANZACs who jumped out of the boats that day were met with terrible gun fire. Turkish bullets were whizzing through the air like hail, and many men were killed or wounded in those first few hours. Some men didn't even get out of the boats before they were shot. Others, who jumped out as they ran aground, found the water was up to their shoulders. Some men drowned because their packs were so heavy, or because they had never been taught to swim. Once ashore, the ANZACs became confused. They had expected a flat beach but instead they were at the base of some cliffs. They had landed in the wrong place!
(Above) The ANZACs climbing up from the beach. (Photograph by Noakes of a scene from the Channel Nine Mini Series - The ANZACs)
They were scared but excited. Clawing their way up the cliffs, they called for their mates to follow. They dodged the bullets and ran from sand dune to sand dune, always heading inland, always into terrible rifle fire. At the end of the first day, 2000 ANZACs lay dead. Against all odds, however, they had held their ground.
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