From 18 to 20 December 1915, the Allies retreated from the Gallipoli peninsula. In the days beforehand, rumours of their impending departure produced mixed feelings in the men. After months of the hardships of war, they were reluctant to leave the resting place of their fallen pals. Had it all been in vain? In this compilation, three veterans remember the evacuation of Gallipoli.
“We left a lot of booby traps behind…”
From 18 to 20 December 1915, the Allies retreated from the Gallipoli peninsula. The evacuations were carried out quietly, overnight, so the Turkish troops would not suspect that their foes were leaving. Here, two veterans recall stealthily sneaking away in the dead of night, leaving booby traps behind. The first speaker is Sergeant Walter Cobb, a machine gunner with the Wellington Mounted Rifles. The second is Captain Ray Curtis of the machine gun section of the Canterbury Infantry Battalion.
Wounded at Chunuk Bair
The battle for Chunuk Bair was one of the bloodiest of the Gallipoli campaign for the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Robert (“Bob”) Alexander Needs of the Otago Infantry Battalion, describes his experiences of the battle up Rhododendron Ridge, and the chaotic aftermath for the wounded.
“All my mates ever got were wooden crosses”
Corporal Cyril Bassett was the only New Zealander to be awarded a Victoria Cross for the Gallipoli campaign. In this 1916 film clip he is congratulated by fellow Kiwi soldiers shortly after being presented with his medal. His modesty can be seen in his bearing – while smiling and shaking hands jovially, he still appears reserved. Throughout his life, Bassett had mixed feelings about his VC. “All my mates ever got,” he said, “were wooden crosses.”