Farthest in : how far did they get that first morning of the campaign?
When one reads the Anzac sources that tell the story of the first hours of the Gallipoli campaign, confusion is probably the element one encounters most frequently. The landing did not yield the results the Allied commanders had hoped for : the wrong landing site and the ensuing problems caused by the difficult terrain and the fact that all the units of the covering force got hopelessly mixed up, made any kind of organized movement inland impossible. Apart from that, it must also be stated that the general commandís objectives for the first day were all but realistic.
This does not mean however that the Anzac forces did not try. As a matter of fact, their success in securing a foothold under such difficult circumstances, was a far greater achievement than could have been hoped for. Although a successful general advance deep inland was impossible from the start, what did happen was that most units tried to carry out their orders against all odds, moved away from the beach and tried to make as much progress as they could.
It was not an easy task for a historian to find out, after the war, how far they had exactly penetrated inland during the first hours of the campaign : at that stage, a lot of the fighting consisted of encounters between small, isolated and disorganized groups of Anzac soldiers and their Turkish counterparts. Moreover, some of these Anzacs penetrated further inland than the frontline that would be established on the evening of 25th April. In fact, they got much further than anyone else during the rest of the entire campaign.
It is remarkable then, that C.E.W. Bean, the author of the official Australian history, managed to retrace the steps of these men. From interviews and evidence found in the field when he returned to the peninsula in 1919, he was able to describe what happened to them that morning, and what were the furthest points they reached.
One can distinguish two main groups among them : those who headed east in an attempt to reach the 3rd Ridge and those who headed north to try and conquer the summit of Chunk Bair. In both cases, these Anzac parties were rather small in numbers. What further distinguished them from their colleagues, was the fact that they did not get as disoriented as so many others and that they proceeded inland very fast. Because of this, they were among the first ones to encounter the Turkish reinforcements when these started to appear on the scene.
Click to read on