The landings in April provided the allies with only a tenuous grip on the Gallipoli peninsula. In August there were attempts to break the stalemate with a series of fresh attacks, but gains were few and losses severe. People at home avidly read accounts of their countrymen’s heroism and achievements, but these rarely revealed the terrible waste, the constant stress, and the squalor of the trenches.
Coordinated breakout attempts were made at Lone Pine, German Officers’ Trench, Quinn’s Post, Pope’s Hill, and The Nek. Despite the somewhat successful assault at Lone Pine, where fighting went on for days, other attacks were beaten down before any gains could be made. At Pope’s, Quinn’s, and The Nek, light horsemen charged into a storm of machine-gun and rifle fire. The casualties were devastating.
Over the following months the troops carried on, holding the trenches and facing the prospect of a harsh winter. Disease and illness were rife and the tempo of the fighting fell away; so too did the men’s spirits. They were now fighting for each other rather than for any hope of a victory.
The battle of Line Pine took place on the afternoon of 6 August 1915, as part of the allied August Offensive, when troops made one last attempt to break through the stalemate on Gallipoli that had persisted since the landings on 25 April. Lone Pine was designed to be a diversion for another assault further to the north, which was intended to seize the high ground of the Sari Bair Range.
At 4.30 pm artillery bombardment shelled the Turkish positions, and an hour later the Australians began their attack. They crossed no man’s land through heavy fire from rifles, machine-guns, and artillery, but on reaching the Turkish trenches the infantry came across something unexpected: some trenches had been covered with pine logs, and the Australians had to break through the roofs to engage the enemy.
Despite this, the Lone Pine trenches were taken after 20 minutes of fighting, but there followed four days of intense hand-to-hand fighting at a cost of 2,000 Australian and almost 7,000 Turkish casualties. Seven Australians were awarded the Victoria Cross for their actions that day.
Several days later the Turks succeeded in driving the Australians back from the trenches, but the battle of Lone Pine remains one of the few allied successes of the Gallipoli campaign.