31 July 1915

ANZAC - Corporal Thomas Louch and Private Bert Facey, 11th AIF, 3rd Brigade, 1st Australian Division, AIF - A demonstration was needed to help with diverting the Turks attention to the south of Anzac, where it was hoped would lead the Turks into thinking would be the area for the next major offensive. The place chosen was Tasmania Post, south of Lone Pine, where the Turks had dug a new trench in front of the Australian lines. The date: the night of 31 July.

Photograph: 12th AIF men in Leane's Trench. This battalion relieved 11th AIF after the attack and went on to consolidate the position.(Ref: AWM P01436.003)

The Anzacs had also been busy in this area having driven out saps from the main position on the summit of the ridge to Ryrie's Post and also forward into the steep valley below to improve their field of fire across the Wheatfield. Already the Turks had pushed their positions forward up the steep slopes towards Tasmania Post, and now only forty yards short was causing some anxiety for the Australians. This was thus an ideal place to make the attack.

The aim was to capture the newly dug Turkish trenches, known as the Despair Works. To aid the attack there were four tunnels dug and mined. Detonated at zero hour four parties of one officer and fifty men, commanded by Captain Ray Leane, 11/AIF, stormed the Turkish trench, held by the 48th Regiment. Two mines exploded as planned, but the third only went off as the Australians were on top of the Turks; the fourth failed to ignite.

Corporal Thomas Louch, 11th AIF, recalled the attack:

"At the right time the mine on our front went up, and we dashed forward while clods of earth were falling in around us. The Turks were demoralised and most of them fled; so we succesfully accomplished our part of the show. The people on our right had more difficulty. Two of the mines were late in going up, and one did not explode at all; consequently the Turks were not shaken, and put up a stronger fight before the whole of what was later known as Leane's Trench was in our hands."

One of those to the right of Louch was Private Bert Facey, 11th AIF, who had a tougher time:

"Arrived at the Turks’ trench with two others, one was a Bunbury man I knew well. As we went over the parapet into the trench two Turks fired at us, killing the man I didn’t know. The Bunbury man had his rifle in the ‘on guard position’. A bullet struck the rifle and flew away not harding him. I dealt with one Turk and he the other. We seemed to be alone for a few seconds, then suddenly we realised that there were many Turks in the trench. Some came at us but seemed confused. We had only the bayonet for a weapon and believe me, we used it to perfection. Our Turkish counterparts didn’t like this and soon made themselves scarce."

The Turks counter attacked and after a night of fierce bombing duels and confused hand-to-hand fighting, the Australians kept the upper hand and held onto the trench. This minor tactical improvement immediately helped the position on this ridge, and would also help in any future attack, which was already being planned at Lone Pine.

OTHER SOURCES: A. Facey, A Fortunate Life, p.270. (Ringwood Vic., Penguin 1985). This excellent book also became a four-part TV series that some viewers in Australia may remember.

IWM Docs: T.S.Louch, typescript account, pp.20-21 as quoted by Peter Hart in Gallipoli (Profile Books, London 2011), p.203.