Dawn of the Legend
25 April 1915
A hard and bloody day
From the beginning there were problems. For the Royal Navy there was the difficulty of taking up positions at night, without any navigational markers, off an enemy coast. Then the passage to the shore was complicated and dangerous.
Reaching the beach, the first troops found they were almost two kilometres too far north. Also the boats had become mixed up. Traditionally, strong currents, or even a change in orders, were blamed, but it is likely that the task simply required more accurate navigation from those in the ships and their boats than was then possible in darkness.
Enemy resistance had also been underestimated. The Turkish defences were only thinly manned, and even when reinforcements arrived they were still out-numbered. Nevertheless, the terrain favoured the Turks: the ANZACs were confronted by steep cliffs, ravines, and hills covered in dense prickly bush. The enemy held the best ground, knew the area, and were determined to defend it.
Expectations had been unrealistic and within hours the objectives were judged impossible. Deficiencies in command and staff work, and lack of experience among the troops, were also exposed. Fortunately, the troops got ashore, and, by courage and determination, a defensive line overlooking the beaches was established and held.
At last the day ended and I can tell you I have never spent nor wish to spend such a long day again. The sights one saw will remain impressed on my memory as long as I live.
Private John Gordon, 9th Battalion