Battle of Hill 60 (Gallipoli)
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|Battle of Hill 60|
|Part of the Battle of Gallipoli in the Middle Eastern Theatre of the (First World War)|
|United Kingdom||Ottoman Empire|
|Commanders and leaders|
|William Birdwood||Mustafa Kemal|
|Casualties and losses|
The Battle of Hill 60 was the last major assault of the Battle of Gallipoli. It was launched on 21 August 1915 to coincide with the attack on Scimitar Hill made from the Suvla front by General Stopford's British IX Corps. Hill 60 was a low knoll at the northern end of the Sari Bair range which dominated the Suvla landing. Capturing this hill along with Scimitar Hill would have allowed the Anzac and Suvla landings to be securely linked.
The original objective of the Battle of Sari Bair, which commenced on the night of 6 August, were the peaks of Hill 971 and Chunuk Bair. The latter peak had been captured by New Zealand infantry before being relinquished in an overwhelming Ottoman counter-attack. The attack on Hill 971 never happened as the assaulting column became lost and then pinned down by the defenders.
With the major battle effectively lost, the British commanders turned their attention to consolidating their meagre gains. With Hill 971 out of reach, Hill 60 appeared an attainable objective. The attacking force was based on General John Monash's Australian 4th Infantry Brigade, which had spearheaded the advance on Hill 971 and had taken up positions in a gully, now known as Australia Valley, that led towards Hill 60. Also involved were the remnants of the 29th Indian Brigade, the Canterbury Mounted Rifles and the Otago Mounted Rifles of the New Zealand Mounted Rifles Brigade and three British New Army battalions. All battalions were severely under strength with many of the soldiers wracked by dysentery.
On the afternoon of 21 August the first assault was made by Australians of the 13th and 14th Battalions together with the 5th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers. With no effective artillery support, under fire from Hill 60 and neighbouring Hill 100, the infantry were decimated. The undergrowth caught fire, burning many of the wounded to death. By nightfall the Indian Brigade had managed a foothold at the base of the hill.
On 22 August the attack was reinforced by the Australian 18th Battalion which was part of the newly arrived Australian 2nd Division. The men were fresh and healthy, in stark contrast to the veteran troops, but were inexperienced and ill-equipped, even by Gallipoli standards. Attacking only with the bayonet, they suffered 383 casualties in their first attack.
The assault resumed on 27 August and further progress was made up the slope, but the summit of the hill was still held by the Ottomans. Now the Australians from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, who had fought at The Nek, were fed into the battle as reinforcements. On the night of 27 August 1915, the 9th Light Horse Regiment were sent in to what proved to be the final assault on Hill 60. One wave of about 80 men led by the new Commander, Lieutenant Colonel Reynell, lost its way and was caught in the open by Ottoman machine guns. The result was Reynell's death and that of 27 men.[note 1] On 28 August the Australians captured some trenches at the summit but the Ottomans clung to the vital northern face which overlooked Suvla.
Attacking and counter-attacking continued until 29 August when the Allied offensive finally ceased. The Australian 18th Battalion was reduced to one third of its original strength after less than a fortnight of action. Today, the hill is the location of the Hill 60 Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery.
- A full list of these men is available at 9th LHR and Hill 60