Lone Pine Bear
Listen to Corporal Cohen’s Story
Lone Pine. Oh, boy was that a battle! We’d been on Gallipoli for about four months and not much was going our way. Johnny Turk – that’s a Turkish soldier – has his trenches up in the hills that run along the middle of the peninsula and we’re pretty much in the same places we were after we landed at Anzac Cove on the 25th of April.
We needed a plan to capture the high ground. The bosses came up with the idea to launch a big push in August – they even called it the “August Offensive” – where we’d attack the Turks at different spots around the same time.
The 1st Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force that I belong to has about 4,600 blokes, and our job was to attack Lone Pine at the south of our lines. This was supposed to make Johnny Turk think the big push was at the south so he’d send all his blokes there, when in fact the bosses’ planned to launch our main attacks further up north. Very tricky.
Before the battle we all sewed white patches on our backs and put on white armbands so that we could clearly see who’s who – nobody wants to accidently clobber a mate in battle.
At 5.30 in the afternoon on the 6th of August we attacked. Their trenches were about 100 yards off, which doesn’t sound far but it’s a long way to run when someone’s shooting at you. Lots of their front trenches had roofs made of pine logs that we had to move so that we could climb in. Some blokes jumped over the first trenches and went in at the open trenches behind. I got in at the front. It was pretty dark and there wasn’t much room, and boy was it noisy. We captured the main trenches in about 20 minutes but that was just the start of it. For the next four days the Turks tried to get their trenches back and we tried to keep them out. On the 10th of August they stopped trying. We had won.
Our attack was pretty much one of the only real successes of the August Offensive. Our boys in the Light Horse who charged the Turks at the Nek at dawn on the 7th copped a real hiding and the Turks still hold the best positions. Having Lone Pine doesn’t change things much, other than most of us have lost good mates.
The August Offensive was the last big push by our diggers in the Gallipoli Campaign and in November we started getting ready to leave. Our diggers snuck off over a couple of weeks in December and by the 20th the last of them were sailing back to Egypt or other places for a warm bath and rest.