The attack at the Nek
The Gallipoli map collection
The attack at the Nek was to begin at 4.30 am on 7 August. The first line was made up of Victorians from the 8th Light Horse Regiment. As 4.30 approached they prepared themselves to go over the top. At 4.23 the artillery fire which had been raining down through the night on the Turkish positions suddenly stopped – seven minutes too early. The Turks were virtually silent for the next three minutes, as they waited for the expected attack. Although the bombardment seemed large by Gallipoli standards, it had little effect on the Turkish trenches. So when the first line attacked the Turks were ready, packed two deep in their front trench as were the Turkish machine gunners further up the hill on the flanks. It took only thirty seconds to wipe out the first line, killed or wounded. Many men in the first line were killed as they cleared the firing line, or within three paces. Of the 150 men of the first line who attacked, only three men from the right of the line reached the Turkish parapet. One of them put up a red and yellow marker flag, but it was pulled down within minutes. The second line, also made up of men from the 8th Light Horse Regiment, moved into position and attacked two minutes after the first line. They were also mowed down by the Turkish guns. The third line, made up of Western Australians of the 10th Light Horse Regiment moved into position to attack. Attempts by the regimental commander, Lieutenant Commander Noel Brazier to have the attack cancelled failed. At 4.45 am the third line went over to meet the Turkish guns. The fourth line took their position in the firing trench. Brazier again attempted to halt the attack, but while he was away from the front line the fourth line moved into position. Because of the noise of the guns, the signal to move forward was to be a wave from Major J.B. Scott. Suddenly the troops to the right began to go over and other followed. A signal had been passed along – but it had not originated with Scott. He stopped the rest of the fourth line from attacking. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade had been decimated: 151 men of the 8th Light Horse were killed at the Nek, with another 11 dying within a few days of their wounds. The 10th Light Horse lost 78 killed at the Nek, with another five dying of wounds over the next few days. The 9th Light Horse lost four men killed. Of the 600 men of the four lines that attacked, 249 died and over 100 were wounded.