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Getting the message through at Chunuk Bair

Lance Corporal Cyril Bassett, an Auckland bank clerk serving as a signaller in the Auckland Infantry Battalion, won New Zealand’s only Victoria Cross on Gallipoli. It was awarded not for fighting but for his bravery in repeatedly going out under fire to repair telephone lines which carried the vital signals from HQ to the men fighting in the front lines.

In the Battle of Chunuk Bair in early August 1915, Bsssett and several other signallers, including his good mate Cecil Whitaker, repaired lines again and again while men fell and died around them. As Cyril recalls in this 1959 interview, one bullet shot out the pocket of his tunic and another grazed his collar, but he was otherwise unharmed. His friend Cecil was not so lucky and was badly wounded, dying a few days later.

Year:1915 [Recorded in 1959]

Location:Gallipoli, Turkey

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Getting the message through at Chunuk Bair

Lance Corporal Cyril Bassett, an Auckland bank clerk serving as a signaller in the Auckland Infantry Battalion, won New Zealand’s only Victoria Cross on Gallipoli. It was awarded not for fighting but for his bravery in repeatedly going out under fire to repair telephone lines which carried the vital signals from HQ to the men fighting in the front lines.

In the Battle of Chunuk Bair in early August 1915, Bsssett and several other signallers, including his good mate Cecil Whitaker, repaired lines again and again while men fell and died around them. As Cyril recalls in this 1959 interview, one bullet shot out the pocket of his tunic and another grazed his collar, but he was otherwise unharmed. His friend Cecil was not so lucky and was badly wounded, dying a few days later.


Year: 1915 [Recorded in 1959]

Length: 05:59

Source: Radio New Zealand collection, Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Catalogue Reference: 146322 Cyril Bassett, V.C. talks about the assault on Chunuk Bair


People: Cyril Royston Bassett

Location: Gallipoli, Turkey


A very modest man, Cyril Bassett downplayed his achievements on Gallipoli throughout his life, once saying it didn’t seem fair that he was the only one awarded a Victoria Cross when all his mates got were wooden crosses.

As a V.C. winner, Bassett was the subject of considerable attention in the years after the war. Several interviews with him are held in the radio collection of Nga Taonga Sound and Vision and in all of them he is modest about the actions which won him the highest award for bravery. “It was just that I was so short, the bullets passed over me,” he says in one interview.

In 1948 Cyril Bassett returned to Gallipoli and recorded his feelings and memories of the Anzac landings for another radio programme, which can be heard in the “Return to Gallipoli” link below.