ANZAC: The first to fall, 102 years ago today
Group portrait of the Australian 11th (Western Australia) Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade, Australian Imperial Force posing on the Great Pyramid of Giza on 10 January 1915, prior to the landing at Gallipoli. In just a few months, many of these faces would be no more.
The 11th Battalion did much of their war training in Egypt and would be amongst the first to land on April 25, 1915.
In the five days following the landing, the battalion suffered 378 casualties, over one-third of its strength.
The 11th Battalion, from Western Australia, came ashore not at Anzac Cove, but on the beach beneath the slopes leading down from Ari Burnu Point and Plugge’s Plateau. Among the first to fall was Captain William Annear, 11th Battalion, of Subiaco, Western Australia. He was shot as he came up onto Plugge’s Plateau after the hard climb from the beach. Charles Bean described the scene:
The first Australians clambered out on to the small plateau … heavy fire still met the Australians appearing over the rim of the plateau, and was sufficient to force the first men to take what cover they could on the seaward edge … Captain Annear was hit through the head and lay there, the first Australian officer to be killed.
[Charles Bean, The Story of Anzac, Vol 1, ‘The Landing at Gaba Tepe’, Sydney, 1941, p.259]
Later, as the men of the 11th Battalion struggled up towards the heights of Chunuk Bair they met strong Turkish opposition around the slopes of a hill called Baby 700. Another young officer was killed there: Second Lieutenant Mordaunt Reid, of Coolgardie, Western Australia. Reid had been sent across the Nek with a small party to assist in the advance up the range:
Lieutenant Mordaunt Reid, who was carefully controlling the fire from the right of [the] line, was severely hit through the thigh. One of his men went to help him crawl to the rear, but Reid was never thereafter seen or heard of by his battalion.
[Charles Bean, The Story of Anzac, Vol 1, ‘The Landing at Gaba Tepe’, Sydney, 1941, p.290]