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Second national service at Gallipoli announced

Hon Michael Woodhouse
Minister of Veterans’ Affairs

8 August 2014

Second national service at Gallipoli announced

A national service will be held at the New Zealand Memorial on Chunuk Bair, Gallipoli on 8 August 2015 to commemorate the centenary of the historic Anzac battle, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Michael Woodhouse has announced.

“On the 99th anniversary of this battle, I am pleased to confirm a national service will be held on the Gallipoli peninsula next year for the centenary.

“While New Zealand troops initially captured the heights of Chunuk Bair on 8 August 1915, the Turkish forces were ultimately successful in the battle. More than 90 per cent of the 760 New Zealand men who reached the summit of Chunuk Bair were killed or wounded.

“As we reflect on the passing of 100 years since the First World War, it is fitting we remember those who gave so much for their country,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Mr Woodhouse confirmed that no ballot will be held for places at the Chunuk Bair commemoration. As such, anyone who is able to make it to the Gallipoli peninsula will be able to attend the service.

“This commemoration provides another opportunity for anyone that missed out in the Anzac Day Gallipoli ballot to be present for the 8 August service. Australia will also hold a service on 6 August to commemorate the Battle of Lone Pine.

“We are grateful the Turkish Government has agreed to an additional service on the Gallipoli Peninsula to commemorate New Zealand’s part in the August battles. Turkey continues to be a very generous host to both New Zealand and Australia around Gallipoli commemorations.

“This is further demonstrated by its recent gifting to New Zealand of 30 extra passes for next year’s Anzac Day service at Gallipoli, alongside 120 further passes for Australia, from Turkey’s VIP allocation,” says Mr Woodhouse.

The extra passes for both countries will be offered to the next applicants on the respective waiting lists.

Details for the 8 August service are still being planned and will be made available at www.Gallipoli2015.govt.nz. Registrations of interest can be emailed to commemorations@nzdf.mil.nz with ‘Chunuk Bair’ as the subject.

Background information

The August Offensive and Chunuk Bair

The initial plan for the August Offensive was that two columns of troops, right and left, would move up the Sari Bair Range and capture the high points of Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Hill 971 (Koja Chemen Tepe) during the night of 6-7 August. The Australians would create a diversionary attack which would distract Turkish attention from the assault on Sari Bair. The Australians launched their diversionary attack on Lone Pine at 5:30pm on 6 August, with another attack taking place at Helles. The diversionary attacks achieved nothing positive.

During the night of 6/7 August the New Zealand Mounted Rifles, the Māori Contingent and British troops cleared the foothills in front of the Sari Bair Range, but took longer than planned to achieve what was a very demanding task. The plan for the right and left columns to take the Range however soon came apart when the left column got lost in the darkness, and the right column never properly formed. The right column’s two parts, including the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, were supposed to meet at Rhododendron Spur before advancing on to Chunuk Bair. At sunrise on 7 August the Brigade was still waiting for the other part of the column to arrive. The attack went ahead nevertheless and the Auckland Battalion managed to advance within 200 metres of the summit with heavy casualties. The Wellington Battalion, led by Lt Col William Malone, were ordered to follow, but Malone refused to sacrifice his men in broad daylight, instead insisting on an attack under cover of darkness.

On 8 August the Wellington Battalion advanced to the summit of Chunuk Bair and successfully captured it. Despite this success there were still Turkish forces positioned in higher vantage points, and the casualties suffered by the Wellington Battalion were enormous. It was very difficult to supply or reinforce the troops on Chunuk Bair. By the time they were relieved only 70 of the 760 men who went up came back unscathed, the rest had either been killed or wounded. Lt Col Malone was among those killed. New Zealand’s only Victoria Cross of the Gallipoli Campaign was awarded at Chunuk Bair, to Corporal Cyril Bassett of the New Zealand Divisional Signal Company. Under relentless Turkish fire Bassett continued laying the telephone wires which were essential for communication between the summit of Chunuk Bair and headquarters below.

ENDS

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