With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Australia pledged full support to Britain. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers became involved in a campaign at Gallipoli to ease Turkish pressure on Britain’s ally Russia. The campaign was fought on the peninsula, which formed one shore of the Dardanelles, a strategic waterway that provided the only access to Russia’s Black Sea ports.
Members of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) landed at Gallipoli, about 300km south-west of Istanbul at what became known as Anzac Cove, on 25 April 1915 and established a tenuous hold on the steep slopes above the beach.
During the early days of the eightmonth campaign, the Allies tried to break through Turkish lines, while the Turks tried to drive the Allied troops off the peninsula. Neither side succeeded.
Some 8,700 Australians lost their lives and some 18,000 were wounded during the campaign.
The most successful operation of the campaign was the evacuation which ended on 19–20 December 1915, conducted under a well-planned deception operation.
The action at Lone Pine was a diversion to draw attention from the main assault of 6 August by New Zealanders against the Sari Bair peak of Chunuk Bair. In August 1915, a major offensive was undertaken to try and break out of the ‘Anzac’ area in conjunction with feint attacks at Cape Helles and Lone Pine, and a further British landing at Suvla Bay. It was hoped this breakout would allow the Allied armies, composed here of Australian, New Zealand, Indian and British troops, to carry out the aim of the original landings and capture the Straits of the Dardanelles. While the main Turkish trench was taken in the first 20 minutes, there was four days of fierce fighting that followed resulting in some 2000 Australian casualties.
Early on the morning of 7 August 1915, the men of the 3rd Australian Light Horse Brigade, the 8th and 10th Light Horse Regiments, in four successive waves, made a valiant but futile attempt to seize the Turkish trenches. There were 372 Australians killed or wounded.
The Gallipoli VCs
The first Anzac to be awarded the Victoria Cross was Lance Corporal Albert Jacka who immediately became a national hero. On 19-20 May 1915 Jacka successfully attacked enemy soldiers who had occupied his trench as those around him had already been killed.
Second Lieutenant Hugo Throssell became the only light horseman
to be honoured for his bravery at Hill 60 in late August 1915 where he continued to fight during heavy action despite receiving numerous wounds.
Seven Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross for their furiousactions at the Battle of Lone Pine.
Following Gallipoli, Australian forces fought on the Western Front and in the Middle East.
About 50,000 Australians served at Gallipoli during the eight-month campaign
33 Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries in Turkey, 21 are in the Anzac area
Major cemeteries include Lone Pine, Shrapnel Valley, Ari Burnu, the Beach, and Shell Green
There are over 2,800 Australians buried in cemeteries in Turkey most of whom are identified
Memorials to the more than 4,000 Australians missing commemorate those who have no identified grave
Information on commemorations
History of Australian service at Gallipoli
Anzac Day marks the anniversary of 25 April 1915, the date of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzac) during the First World War.
The Gallipoli campaign stands as a significant event in the shared histories of Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and France.