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.
Seasick men and horses
Twenty-three-year-old Auckland telegraphist (signaller) Cyril Bassett sailed for the war in October 1914 with the Main Body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. Cyril was on board the battleship Waimana, with the rank of orderly corporal. In this 1976 interview, he recalls that during the long sea voyage. his job was to clean up after seasick men and horses. However, in August 1915 Bassett won the Victoria Cross, the highest award for bravery in the Allied forces, for maintaining communication lines under fire during the Battle of Chunuk Bair.