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Gallipoli Inland - Desperate clashes

As is well known, the Gallipoli campaign saw the AIF advance from their beach head inland, but the campaign soon became a brutal campaign of trench warfare, punctuated by desperate, heroic attempts on both sides to push the enemy back.

One such attempt was the Turkish offensive of 19 May, which saw four days of bitter fighting for control of the ridge line between the Nek and Chatham's Post.

One survivor, Robert Ellwood, of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, recalled

we had to attack a trench which was only about eleven yards away, ten yards away and during it we occupied it at one time and were driven out of it and we as if we owned it with our own trench which was a small set about ten yards long and this thing was the cause of a lot of trouble because we had to have a sentry at both ends and it was so open to any attack and I don't know, there were hundreds of lives lost trying to fill it in. On the trench you've no idea of the intensity and volume of fire that used to go on particularly when things were very early in the piece and everybody was jumpy and they kept on erratic firing, rapid firing, all hours of the day and night to prevent the other people from attacking and this trench had to be filled in. We were given... one or two others had tried, battalions had tried, the 13th and the 15th had tried to fill it in and being the worst occupied for a while we were sent out just after arriving on the peninsula as a matter of fact, we hadn't been there more than... we arrived at daybreak, or just about daybreak, it was the next morning that we were sent out to occupy the enemy's trenches working party to fill in this set between the two trenches to make our position more secure, you see.

Anyhow, it couldn't be done, we were badly knocked back and lost a lot of people and between our two trenches it was just literally thick with dead people, dead bodies and they were blown to bits with erratic shells and firing and one thing and the other and in all states of decomposition and after this attack by the Turks, after our attack, they attacked after we did, sort of business, and the place was just, oh, worse than a butcher's slaughtering place and we were all on the windward side and the wind from the sea used to blow into their trenches and of course it was very nauseating with the result that they asked for an armistice and an armistice was given and we had to go out and help bury our own dead, you see, and the place was just an awful mess.

Fifty men of the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, lead by the Regimental Chaplain, Captain George Green, sought as best they could to identify and bury the Australian dead. However, many of the corpses had been torn apart by bullet and shell fire. They lay decomposing amidst swarms of flies. Burial simply rendered the dead ideal breeding grounds for fly larvae.


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