For the soldiers of New Zealand
the most bittersweet moment in the Gallipoli
Campaign came when on 8th of August 1915 when almost undetected by Turkish forces the 800 soldiers of the Wellington
Infantry Battalion under the command of Colonel
William Malone captured the Heights of Chunuk Bair.
A strategically vital location it breached the Turk
ish lines and overlooked them, more importantly standing on its heights one could see the Dardanelles a scant 8km away. the Dardanelles being the objective of the whole bloody campaign
in the first place.
For 3 days the New Zealanders held the vital ridge against vicious and desperate counter attacks until they were relieved by British
soldiers fresh from Suvla Bay. Of the 800 men who took Chunuk Bair over 700 were killed
, among them Colonel Malone who was felled by "friendly" fire from British destroyers who thought they were shelling Turkish positions. Not only was he not decorated for his valiant action the British command attempted to use him as a scapegoat
for the ultimate failure
of the offensive.
Upon relieving the Kiwis
the British forces were repulsed almost immediately by the Turks and a mere 4 months later the Allies were evacuating Gallipoli. It is said (arguably) that had the English fully commited to supporting the breakthrough on Chunuk Bair the objectives of the Gallipoli campaign could have been achieved.
"Of the 11,600 New Zealanders who eventually served on Gallipoli, 2,721 died on active service and 4,752 were wounded, many to die later of their wounds. It was a terrible price for a small country to pay. Our total population was then only a little over 1 million. Almost every New Zealand family was touched."
Lest we forget
"I am prepared for death and hope that God will have forgiven me all my sins."
Lieutenant Colonel William Malone,
(National Library of New Zealand, F58131)