on a 'hot spot' on the map to learn more about the events of the campaign
and download material prepared by IWM and AWM staff for the
Gallipoli 2000 Study Tour
The Sphinx and
Anzac Cove from Russell's Top
See a brief film of Anzac Cove,
the Sphinx from North Beach or see a
of Anzac from 400 Plateau in these short videos taken during the
QuickTime 4 player.)
Prior to the start of the Gallipoli campaign Anzac Cove did
not exist. On 25 April 1915, as part of the overall Allied plan, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (or Anzacs) were ordered to land on the Peninsula's Aegean coastline to seize the hill of Mal Tepe 5 miles inland
and threaten the northern flank of the Kilid Bahr Plateau. The exact position of the landing remained vague with the military orders placing it between Gaba Tepe and Fisherman's Hut, a distance of roughly two and a half miles. The naval orders were somewhat more precise, pinning the southern flank of the landing one mile north of Gaba Tepe. Once the covering force of the 3rd Australian Brigade had landed and secured its position, the remainder of the 1st Australian Division followed by the New Zealand and Australian Division were then to push through towards Mal Tepe.
In the event the landing was very confused and set in train a sequence of events that were never to be overcome. Not only did the boats of the first wave contract into a much reduced line significantly to the north of the expected beach, they also became intermingled before the troops could disembark. As a result the men went ashore in considerable disarray. The second wave then followed in order, ironically compounding the original errors. Throughout the day the main body of the 1st Australian Division continued to land and move into this uncertain position. But, as Turkish pressure mounted, any residual coherence within the Anzac line was lost. Overnight, with the positions fragmented and many wounded on the beach, the question of re-embarkation was raised. But, after being rejected, the Anzacs were ordered to dig in which they did with consummate success.
In the confusion of the initial landing, most of the first boats grounded along a narrow stretch of the shore between the small headlands of Ari Burnu and what became known as Hell Spit. Offering a slight degree of protection from Turkish observation and gunfire, this tiny inlet became the heart of the Australian and New Zealand line and was given the legendary name of Anzac Cove. Around it a claustrophobic, overlooked position grew up. The Anzacs were unable to break out, as their last concerted assault on 1-2 May clearly showed. But likewise the successive attempts made by the Turks to drive them into the sea, which culminated in the heavy attack of 19 May, were also all heavily defeated. From the start of June until the evacuation on 19 December, all actions were either diversionary or local, aimed simply at improving positions in the line. Even the giant move to the north begun on 6 August against Chunuk Bair and the height of the Sari Bair ridge in the end resulted in little improvement to the original Anzac position.
Life at Anzac was unique. The terrain was bewildering, formed both by natural gullies and deep, man-made tunnels and trenches. The Turks were at places almost within arm's reach, and access was possible only from the sea via a handful of vulnerable piers which were all subject to shellfire. The experience was fuelled by a heady mixture of futility, pride, self-reliance and degradation. Unpleasant, unsought, it bestowed on all those who survived it a badge of stamina and courage and helped to define the distinctive national characteristics of the new nations of Australia and New Zealand.
Nigel Steel (IWM)