HELLES - SECOND BATTLE OF KRITHIA - Private Cecil Malthus, Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Brigade, NZ&A Division, NZEF - With hindsight it seems incredible that after two such clear-cut failures that the another attempt should be ordered for a third day in succession. In truth Hamilton had little choice as they could either attack again or accept defeat. Every day that passed would allow the Turks to improve their defences and move up more reserves. The situation could only get worse.
In the end the Allies simply had to try again and thus a third attack was ordered for 10.30 on 8 May. This time the New Zealand Brigade was flung into equation, launching an unsupported attack through the 29th positions and along Fir Tree Spur. This attack was carried out in some confusion. Earlier that morning in preparation the brigade had been moved forward in broad daylight across open ground. Private Cecil Malthus was with the Canterbury Battalion when they left a support trench occupied by the Dublin Fusiliers and the Munsters.
"New Zealanders prepare to advance!" Where on earth were the enemy and what were our objectives? Hastily we threw off our packs and piled them in heaps - which were promptly looted by the Irishmen - and it was only in the act of springing over the parapet that we were told of another line of British still lying a 100 yards ahead of us. We sprinted the distance all abreast, in fine style, and thanks to our smartness it was only in the last few yards that the enemy woke up and loosed his fire. The tragedy of it was that from that moment he remained awake, and we were left with the certainty, in our next advance, of having to face a living stream of lead."
They had now reached the British front line occupied by the Worcesters. Soon it was time to make their 'real' attack at 10.30. The Wellington Battalion was on the left, the Auckland in the centre and the Canterbury on the right. Private Cecil Malthus was with the scouts who went over first.
"For 200 yards we sprinted, thinking oddly how beautiful the poppies and daisies were, then from sheer exhaustion we rushed to ground in a slight depression and lay there panting. We had kept about 10 yards apart, but soon the spaces were filled by those of our mates who managed to get so far. Now the storm was let loose, and increased every moment in fury, until a splashing, spurting shower of lead was falling like rain on a pond. Hugging the ground in frantic terror we began to dig blindly with our puny entrenching tools, but soon the four men nearest me were lying, one dead, two with broken legs, and the other badly wounded in the shoulder. A sledgehammer blow on the foot made me turn with a feeling of positive relief that I had met my fate, but it was a mere graze and hardly bled. Another bullet passed through my coat, and a third ripped along two feet of my rifle sling. Then the wounded man on my right got a bullet through the head that ended his troubles. And still without remission the air was full of hissing bullets and screaming shells."
Eventually they managed to dig shallow pits and gained some measure of safety. The New Zealanders had been slaughtered advancing in isolation.
HELLES - SECOND BATTLE OF KRITHIA - Second Lieutenant Hugh Heywood, 1/6th Manchester Regiment, 127th Brigade, 42nd Division - It was now the time for 127 Brigade to be tested in the continuing Battle of Krithia.
Photo is the 1/6th Manchesters in Krithia Nullah.
"We watched the attack through our glasses - it was awfully interesting!" You could follow the whole progress of the fight: first they were behind some clumps of trees in small bodies; then they pushed off in small columns and finally deployed and advanced in rushes; all the time our guns were simply playing hell with the Turkish trenches - high explosives shells busting right in the trenches giving a cloud of sickly yellow smoke and a pillar of dust debris. The French line still went on and now they were on open grassland and you could see their bayonets gleaming in the sun. They got closer and closer to the Turkish trenches."
In the circumstances the newly arrived 127th Brigade were lucky not to have been thrown into the fruitless attacks on 8 May. Yet they still suffered casualties illustrating their inexperience. There was certainly a painful lesson for Second Lieutenant Hugh Heywood of the 1/6th Manchesters when he and his men were caught milling around in the open.
"The bullets came pretty thick around us - probably ones fired at the frontline trenches and aimed high - and one of them picked me off in the lower left arm. It felt like a big stone being thrown at me hard - very had indeed - and I did not think it was a bullet, till I felt the warm trickle of blood down my sleeve. The arm hurt quite a lot at first, but it soon got to a dull throb and I was quite happy, except for the first half mile bullets were quite frequent visitors and kept on singing through the air near you or kicking up the dust round your feet. On the way back I picked up an Australian and a Naval Division man. The naval fellow was very bad and nearly dying - he'd got a bullet through the back and we got him into a cart and we didn't see him again. The Australian and I walked on and talked much - or rather he did and I listened - of the glories of Australia and the Australians and so on, which bored me rather."
Heywood managed to walk all the way back to the main hospital. As such he was lucky for many wounded who were unable to walk were left trapped in the forward dressing stations that were soon swamped. Further back, near the beach, the main hospital was a grim place of tents packed full of shattered men.
"There were some beastly cases: a man next to me had been shot through the stomach and was yelling for morphia. Another had got it through the head and was lying still with a blood soaked bandage round his forehead, a third had got it through both cheeks and had his tongue taken off at the same time, he was coughing blood all the time and couldn't lie down. In fact it was an eerie place, lit by two poor lamps, with a sleepy orderly sitting by a medical table at one end, and the rows of stretchers all round illuminated just enough to see the white bandages stained a dull red and not much more - which in some cases was rather a blessing."
Two of the officers in that tent would die before Heywood was finally evacuated by sea next day.
C. Malthus, Anzac: A Retrospect (Christchurch: Whitcombe & Tombs Ltd, 1965), pp.68-71, H. C. L. Heywood, Manuscript account, p.24-29