The Charge At The Nek

Video highlights from Peter Fitzsimons Gallipoli

The Anzacs attack at the Nek saw a devestating loss of life as they plunged into a hail of Ottoman machine-gun and rifle fire.

7 August 1915

The 10th went forward to meet death instantly … the men running as swiftly and as straight as they could at the Turkish rifles. (Charles Bean, Australian official historian)

With fixed bayonets and unloaded rifles, four lines of Australian light horsemen – 600 men in all – plunged into a hail of Ottoman machine-gun and rifle fire.

The attack on The Nek, a narrow, sheer-sided ridge, began with ineffective shelling of Ottoman positions which abruptly ceased seven minutes early, giving the Ottomans ample time to prepare.

First over the top was the Victorian 8th Light Horse Regiment. They were immediately cut to pieces, many killed just metres out of the trench. Despite attempts to call off the futile attack, three further lines of Victorians and Western Australians went forward, only to be mown down.

The Australians suffered 372 casualties, 234 of them fatal. No ground was gained, and the Ottomans suffered virtually no casualties.

The charge at The Nek, 7 August 1915.

10th Light Horse survivors of the charge at The Nek with unclaimed kitbags of fallen fellow soldiers. After witnessing the slaughter of two lines of the Victorian 8th Light Horse Regiment, the 10th’s commander tried to have the attack abandoned, but was ordered to ‘push on’. Men hurriedly scribbled farewells to their families, then went forward to their deaths. (Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial P00516.005)

Light horsemen in the trenches on Walker’s Ridge, waiting to go over the top at The Nek. The 3rd Light Horse Brigade’s charge at The Nek on 7 August 1915 epitomised both the futility and the utter bravery that characterised the First World War. (Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial J02719)

George Lambert, The charge of the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at The Nek, 7 August 1915 (1924, oil on canvas, 152.5 x 305.7 cm) Lambert was commissioned to paint this battle by the Australian War Memorial in 1920. The bodies of most of the 234 Australians killed at The Nek were not buried until after the war. (Courtesy of the Australian War Memorial ART07965)

Article courtesy of the National Anzac Centre and the Western Australian Museum © 2015

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