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Amazing story of the first shell fired on Gallipoli

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#1 Bardess



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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:00 AM

Hope this link works in your part of the world




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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:22 AM

The link works Diane, but it wont play in sunny Essex B) Sean

#3 GJH



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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:28 AM

The link won't play in Foggy France either.:blink: Graham

#4 Bardess



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Posted 25 February 2012 - 11:39 AM

Oh, that's a shame. It was a great story of a grandson/great-grandson wanting to find out about his GF/GGF's Gallipoli service. It transpired that his GF fired the first 18 pdr on the peninsula.

The show is called 'In their footsteps' and this particular episode was quite teary as his estranged father went with him to Gallipoli and they, together, found out about their rellies. Apparently the GGF went to Gallipoli [aged 47] to find his son only to land there and his son was in hospital.

This show should have shares in Kleenex!

Bdr Ronald and Pte Ernest Cavalier

#5 roel22



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Posted 25 February 2012 - 01:23 PM

Doesn't work in the Netherlands either. Too bad, looks like there are some interesting episodes to be viewed.


#6 judy7007



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Posted 25 February 2012 - 02:36 PM

I really wanted to watch this (and some of the other episodes) but found the following in 'troubleshooting' ......"The ninemsn Video streaming service is for Australian residents only and we do not have international streaming rights for this content. If you are attempting to view the content in another country or have an IP address that is not recognised as an Australian IP address, you will be served a notice to say "this clip is not available in your area"."............... I didn't actually get a notice - just blank - but most unfortunately the same result. .

#7 Bardess



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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:17 PM

The first half. I HAVE to go to bed. BTW I have left out a fair bit of Josh and his father's reactions and chit-chat.


A brief outline of the introduction. Josh wants to find out about his Grandfather and Great-grandfather’s time in Gallipoli. He shows interviewer a photo and starts to weep as it is noted that his own father is no longer in his life. His father lived a solitary life in Queensland as, after serving in Vietnam, the demon drink had ruled his life. He went to dry out and, out of the blue, it cuts to Josh making contact.


Tonight, on 25th April 1915, 19 year old Ronald Cavalier came ashore and 5 months later his father, Ernest Sidney Cavalier [who lost his own father aged 6] landed on the same beach and went looking for his son.

BC to JC: Dad sent this diary back from Egypt when they left to go to France, on the Somme [flicks through diary and shows pics].

The night before Josh leaves for Gallipoli he meets his Dad for a jam session as they both share a love of music. Next day his Dad turns up with his Navy uniform over his shoulder at the airport and announces ‘You’re not going on your own’.

Their guide, eminent Historian, Dr Michael McKernan meets them in Istanbul and points out some of the sites.

MK: This is Anzac Cove. A sacred site for most Australians.


At 3:30am on 25th the first 6 boats were landed on the wrong beach. The Turks were waiting for them. The Anzacs scrambled up sheer cliff faces into a maze of ravines and gullies. The dead and dying laying everywhere. It was chaos. Worst of all the Turks had artillery high on the cliffs and the big guns lay down a killing arc of fire.

MK: We know that there was only one gun landed on 25th and that was from 4th Battery, which was your Grandfather’s Battery.

JC: Well, the chances of it being his gun... How would we know? MK: I can assure you that we know because we have this docket here that your Grandfather wrote to his Mother to tell her what had happened. And this is remarkable because history can only be told through the records and here we have your Grandfather’s account of the landing on that afternoon bringing that one gun ashore.

BC [reads letter aloud]: At last we were ready and set of for the shore. As we drew closer in the bullets hit the pontoon with a ping and the shrapnel was coming down. We had to jump into the water up to our waists and pull the pontoons in then we rushed the guns and wagons onto the beach. The Head Officers came along and made us load up again and, when we were ready to get away, they made us unload again. And then we waited. The beach was crowded with wounded and dead and presented an awful sight.

JC: So they landed it twice.

MK: Well, yes they brought it on and then they were told to take it off. Obviously they thought the gun was too big and too heavy to get up those hills. I mean, the Officer must have thought it’s impossible. Then somebody overrode that and said we need artillery! And that was your Grandfather.

JC: Landed the first gun on Gallipoli. Just amazing!

MK: So they dragged the gun along the beach; if you can see the first low point, that’s Queensland Point, somehow or other, God only knows how, they pulled that gun onto Queensland Point and, by 6 o’clock they were able to start firing it.

BC: I remember Dad saying that they got the gun set up in position and loaded it and his mate said ‘Well, I’m gonna fire the first shot’ and Dad said ‘No you’re not’ and pulled the lanyard and said ‘You’ll fire the second’.

MK: So, your Father was the first man to fire an artillery shell on Anzac.

BC: Yes. Always been proud of that.


At the end of the first day, as Ron Cavalier stood by his gun,2,000 Australians lay around him killed or wounded. For better or worse – he was on Gallipoli.

Two weeks later and 14,000 kms away, newspaper headlines told Australia what happened. And Ernest Cavalier was on a troopship on his way to his boy.

The Anzacs tried for weeks to advance inland. This was as far as they got – Quinn’s Post – just 1,000 metres from the beach. From here you could see the entire Australian Camp.

MK: We’re looking down that way [points] and down that cliff is where all those who served and fought here lived.


Ron Cavalier would have had no idea that his Father was on his way to Gallipoli – he was too busy surviving. Besides the bullets and the shells there were flies, lice, mosquitoes and rats; it was stinking hot in summer and freezing in winter and disease was everywhere.

MK: This was such a dangerous place to be because the Turks, their opponents, were just across the other side there [pointing]. So close that they were actually able to throw bombs across from one trench to the other. If the fuze was long enough someone would catch it and send it back. They were so rudimentary – they were just jam tins packed with explosives. Rather than me tell you about the Turks can I introduce you to Kenan Celik, a Turkish gentleman who knows so much about this campaign.


Kenan Celik is one of Turkey’s leading experts on the Gallipoli campaign – so much so that in 2000 he was awarded the Order of Australia for his services to our history. The first Turkish citizen to receive that honour.

#8 Grantowi



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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:30 PM

Thanks Diane,

Sound like a good show, now if you could just copy it to DVD for us poor souls :-)


#9 The 26TH Yankee

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 03:39 PM

I was really looking forward to seeing this, but, it's a no go here in the States.:unsure:


#10 Bardess



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Posted 26 February 2012 - 03:37 AM

Part 2

KC [walking down the Anzac trenches]: So these trenches were 3 metres deep plus sandbags on top.


Kenan wants JC and BC to understand the other side of Gallipoli so he has taken them to this battlefield, Johnston’s Jolly [sp?]. A month after Ron landed, it was here that the Turks tried to drive the Anzacs back into the sea. At 3am 42,000 Turks attacked in waves, running straight into overwhelming Anzac firepower, including shells fired by Ron Cavalier’s gun. Almost a million rifle and machine gun bullets were fired by Australians that day. 10,000 Turks lay killed or wounded. It changed forever the way each side felt about the other.

KC: The battle lasted roughly 6 hours and we suffered horrific losses. Anzac losses were very small, 500 or 600 men. On the following day a cease fire was observed; this was the only cease fire in Gallipoli. This changed the Anzac perspective of the Turks.

MK: In late July, in one week, 1,200 Anzacs were evacuated sick and your Dad was one of them. We have the casualty form of Ronald Ernest Cavalier and we see down here he transferred to the Beach Hospital on 28th July 1915 and then he is taken to a hospital in Malta suffering from Varicocele. Are you familiar with that?

Unfortunately it is varicose veins in the testicles. Now, you can almost guess the strain of getting that gun all the way up those hills – I believe varicose veins are made by exertion – pressure.

So, on 28th July he goes and , of course, his Dad Ernest is on the water with the 22nd Battalion as reinforcements and he arrived early September. On arrival he is looking for his son, of course. Where’s my son, Ron? ‘He’s off in hospital.’ Is he wounded? No, no, mate, he’s got sore balls!


So Ernest Cavalier finally landed on Gallipoli and while he waited for his son to come back from hospital the Army gave him a particular job. Brian and Josh are just about to discover what that job was. [They enter a café]

[Sharing a drink with KC] OK, I have a surprise for you [3 containers are brought to the table with the original menu]

Shrapnel Gully Quartermaster birthday party menu:

1. Stew

2. Tinned chicken

3. Slapdash pancake

Cooked by Ernest Cavalier


But the original meal Ernest cooked wasn’t prepared in safety, it was here in Shrapnel Gully and what a dangerous place that was

KC: Here, 96 years ago, this was a Communication trench used by the Anzacs; a thoroughfare, but the Turks knew this and directed shrapnel fire over this gully – hence the name of this cemetery – Shrapnel Valley. So many Anzacs were wounded and killed – their losses were about 150 per day.


It’s the last day on the Peninsula and Brian has worn his Naval uniform as a special mark of respect. First though, Michael has one last thing to show them. When Ron came back to Gallipoli his father, Ernest was there. The question is – did they meet?

MK: We know that Ron returned on 7th November and Ernest was in Shrapnel Gully. Ron was near McKay Hill [sp?] and, as you can see, no more than 200 metres separate them so, we can assume that they must have met.

At the end of the show father and son were presented with a box of treasures.

Some sand from Gallipoli


War records and trench map


#11 More Majorum

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 01:57 PM

Thanks Diane,
It is strange at times as how things come back to haunt one. Back in around 2009 a friend of mine related a family story, and it now appears that my friend is the son of Brian Cavalier's sister. This episode of "In Their Footseps" has been most enlightening and has given aspects to the story that back then elluded us.
The following is what I was able to establish back then in 2009, but this does not contain the many photographs of 4 Battery that were found from the Australian War Memorial photographic collection, a search that is easily undertaken.

No 854, Sgt Cavalier, Ronald Ernest
4th Battery
2nd Australian Field Artillery Brigade
1st AIF
1914 – 1918

Bob, I am confident this is your Grandfather. Three Cavalier’s enlisted in the 1st AIF, two were in the artillery, but one I have eliminated, as he was not at Gallipoli and would appear not to be related. The other Cavalier turns out to be your Great Grandfather, Private Ernest Sidney Cavalier, No 581 “C” Company, 22nd Infantry Battalion. He served on Gallipoli and in France. It is not very common to find father and son enlisting in the First World War and both spending such a lengthy period of time away on active service. I shall outline what I have managed to uncover of their war service later in the text.

I would have liked to have given you are a far more comprehensive history, but there is way too much research needed to uncover more. A search of the National Australian Archives, Australian War Memorial, National Library of Australia, Official History of Australia in the War of 1914 – 18, C.E.W.Bean, Vol’s 1,2,3&4 and other sources, have revealed a great deal of information, but sadly no photographs of either of them. That is too say except for the photocopy of the your grandfathers photo on his enlistment papers for WW2.
If you are interested there are digital copies of service records for both Ronald and Ernest on the Australian Archives web site. Go too www.naa.gov.au and search the service records. At search type in Cavalier, then Christian names for each. I found the letter written by your great Aunt, Olive M Cavalier to the army on the 4-7-1917 most interesting. These digital copies can be printed out.
I have not gone into the movements of the 22nd Infantry Battalion, which would outline dates and places your great grandfather would have served, at this stage.
From what I have uncovered I am obviously not the first person to carry out research into their war service. It would appear most likely that some other member of your family has accessed the National Australian Archives, for the information there to be available on line. This is always a great help in researching when someone has already accessed the information, saves waiting months to receive copies from the archives.
The Australian War Memorial web site also has some interesting photographs of the 4th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery, particularly of Gallipoli and Egypt. To access these go to www.awm.gov.au and search Database for photographs. At Keyword/Phrase type in 2nd field artillery brigade. At Conflict select First World War, 1914 –1918.

When you started me on this exercise, with the story you told me at dinner that night at your place, “thanks Chris, it was a most enjoyable evening, great food, wonderful company and always the best of hospitality”. Sorry Bob, got side tracked by that fond memory, your Mother’s story of your Grandfather firing the first cannon at Gallipoli is absolutely correct. You have every reason to be immensely proud of him. It was one Gun of 4 battery, 18 pound field gun, that was landed at Anzac Beach on the 25th April. This gun was landed on the beach at about 5.30pm and went into action at around 6.00pm, firing on the Turkish positions at Gaba Tepe and silencing their gun which had been firing on the Australians at Anzac Cove. I shall go into more detail as I outline your Grandfathers war service.

It is interesting that the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade turns out to be the same unit my father joined in 1939 2nd/2nd Artillery Regiment, he being in the 5th Australian Heavy Anti Aircraft Battery, 2nd AIF.

With this history are your Grandfathers service records from WW1 and WW2. You will find these are the same records that are on the National Archives web site. I sent away for them before I was aware that they had been available in digital form, which if had I checked first would have saved me weeks of waiting for them. I hope you find all this interesting, for my part I have found it more than interesting and a great challenge with what were the barest of details that I started out with. My many thanks for allowing me to pry into your family’s history, it has been a most enlightening exercise.
And by the way, that other story of your mother's about them meeting on Anzac beach, is also most probable, Sidney Ernest Cavalier, your Great Grandfather,served on Gallipoli, “C” Company, 22nd Infantry Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade, but unable to find exact date the 22nd Battalion landed. It would have been between the 3rd and 5th of September, 1915 as part of the 2nd Australian Division. Moved into the trenches at Johnston’s Jolly where they remained until the evacuation of Gallipoli.

Jeff Pickerd

Ronald Ernest Cavalier

Born, 20th October 1895, Armadale, Victoria.
Parents- Father, Ernest Sidney Cavalier, Mother, Annie Cavalier (Maiden name unknown)

Joined the 19th Field Artillery, Militia, 1913, depot, Chapel Street. East St.Kilda. Served one year of his three years compulsory citizen force training at the outbreak of the First World War.

Enlisted in 1st AIF- Attestation Paper signed at East St.Kilda on the 15th August 1914 and certified by 2nd Lt A. W. Dodd.
Personal details given on Attestation Paper- Age, 18 Years and 10 months. Single. Trade, Motor Mechanic. Militia Service, as above, still serving.
Address- 46 Munster Avenue, East Caulfield. (other documents put suburb as Carnegie)

Date entered Broadmeadows Camp unknown, but would have started basic training there at the Artillery Depot. Appointed to 4th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade, Friday 18-9-1914, Bombardier No 854. The Commanding Officer of 4th Battery was Major O. T. Phillips.
The 2nd Field Artillery Brigade was made up of the 4th, 5th, and 6th Batteries, under the command of Col G. J. Johnston. Each brigade had four 18 pound Field Guns.

The men were put threw training by the regular army Staff Sergeant Majors at Broadmeadows Camp. Instruction in basic drill, physical exercises, working of guns and horse teams, as well as artillery tactics, were given. The men were housed in Bell tents, with ten men per tent, sleeping on straw palliasses in a circle around the tent.

The 2nd Field Artillery Brigade embarked for Egypt from Town Pier, Port Melbourne on board HMAT, A 9, “Shropshire”, the morning of Wednesday 20-10-1914.
Ship sailed to join the fleet of the 1st Contingent AIF forming up at King George Sound, Albany, WA. The Shropshire arrived at Albany on Monday 26th October and the first contingent fleet of 28 Australian and 12 New Zealand transports, escorted by four Warships set sail at 8.55am on Saturday the 31st October.
The fleet called at Colombo during the second week of November to take on coal and proceeded for Aden, arriving there on the 25th November.
The first ships began to arrive at Suez from the 30th November and proceeded the 99 miles up the Suez Canal and began arriving at Port Said from the 2nd December. From Port Said the fleet sailed on to Alexandria arriving there on the 3rd December.
The exact date the 4th Battery disembarked at Alexandria to date has not been determined, but it took over twelve days to get all the infantry, ambulance, artillery, engineers, other units, with all their equipment, guns and horses off their ships and on to the special trains to take them to Cairo.
After the train journey up the Nile delta and arrival at Cairo Station they marched the ten miles, walking the horses, out to Mena Camp on the edge of the Sahara Desert at the foot of the Pyramids. The guns and equipment followed later via the specially built tramline out to the camp. After the long sea journey the horses could not be used for training until after they had two weeks of rest.
The 2nd Field artillery Brigade (2nd FAB) began training in the desert around Mena Camp and on the 8th July 1915 they were incorporated into the Australian & New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) of the newly formed Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, in preparation for the proposed landing at the Dardanelles.

The 2nd FAB embarked for Gallipoli, the compliment was made up of Headquarters, 4th, 5th, and 6th Batteries and the 2nd Brigade Ammunition Column. They left Mena Camp to march to Cairo on the afternoon of 3rd April, where the men, horses and guns were loaded onto trains for the journey to Alexandria. Arrived at the docks at Alexandria at 4.45am 4th April and started loading guns and horses on board the transport HMAT A 10 “Karroo” and sailed for the Island of Lemnos were the fleet was assembling in Mundros Harbour.
During the voyage to Gallipoli the 4th Battery lashed two its field guns to the decks of the “Karroo” as a protection against submarines.

The 4th Battery, 2nd FAB, according to C. E. W, Bean landed two guns on the beach at Anzac Cove on the afternoon of 25th April, around 5.30pm, but were subsequently ordered to re-embark back to the transport ship, as no suitable positions could be found for the guns.
Colonel Johnston was evidently determined to have his artillery present at the landing, for one of Major Phillip’s 4th Battery 18-pounder’s, was run up the beach and set up on a knoll at the southern end of Anzac Cove near the entrance to Shrapnel Gully on Brighton Beach. ‘Your Grandfathers gun’, which opened fire on the Turkish gun emplacements at Gaba Tepe at about 6.00pm, silencing them.
C. E. W. Bean has left a description of this incident: “At 5.30pm the wounded, lying in hundreds at the southern end of the beach, on stretchers and off stretchers, doctors hurrying through them, naval officers giving orders, boats pulling alongside; heard a sudden bustle and clatter and a shout: “Look out, make way!” Stretchers were hurriedly pulled aside, and between them came a team of gun horses, the drivers urging them; and after them, deep in the sand of the beach, a single gun of the 4th Battery, Australian Field artillery. The wounded, and even the dying, cheered as it passed through them. Willing hands undid its chains and dragged it up a steep path made by beach party and engineers to the southern knoll of the beach. At 6.00pm this gun opened upon Gaba Tepe, and its second round of shrapnel appeared to silence for the night the last persistent gun in the Gaba Tepe battery.”
Two more of the 4th battery guns were landed on the 26th and moved into position on the knoll with the other gun. A fifth gun was landed a few days later and moved up with the others. They directed their fire onto the Turkish batteries on Baby 500, the Chessboard, and sought out snipers firing down Monash Gully from the Nek. The horses were sent back out to the transport ships on the 26th and returned to Egypt, as they could not be effectively used or protected on Gallipoli.
On 5th May, Maj Phillip’s 4th Battery was man-handled up onto the western end of 400 Plateau, at the end of the gully between M’Cay’s Hill, in order to fire north-eastwards onto the Turkish positions from Baby 500 to Battleship Hill and Lone Pine. Their fire was to protect the N.Z. & A. forces on Walker’s Ridge and Russell’s Top, as well as easing the pressure on positions on the southern slopes of Monash Gully of Steele’s, Quinn’s and Pope’s. The four guns began to bombard the Turks as soon as they were in position. The Turks replied with high explosive shell from somewhere in the south, which was subsequently discovered to be east of Gaba Tepe.
The Turkish batteries behind Gaba Tepe shelled the 4th batteries position in the morning of the 6th, with high explosive shell, and in the afternoon fired onto Brighton beach, ranging onto the stacks of artillery ammunition which was quickly moved to safety by the men of the Ammunition column and beach parties.
The Turks again fired on the 4th batteries guns on the 8th, this time fire coming from both north (5.9-in. howitzers) and south (4.2-in. guns), with one of Major Phillip’s guns being hit and put out of action.
These Turkish guns fired on the 2nd FAB batteries up to the 10th May.
For their whole time at Gallipoli the guns were inevitably in exposed positions to Turkish artillery fire, and towards the end of May, artillery ammunition began to be become short in supply. On the 23rd May all the artillery were ordered to cut down expenditure to two rounds per day.
As the Turkish batteries were always on higher ground and able to range down onto the Australian positions at Anzac there was no effective way of firing directly up at them with field guns. This meant that the Australian guns had to be placed so that they could fire across diagonally onto the Turks guns that were above other batteries in another sector.
The only effective method of protecting the guns from enemy fire, was a system of having a second battery at another position to watch for signs of the Turkish guns begin to engage the other position, then to open up a bombardment on them, and visa versa.
The 4th Battery remained in this position until the evacuation of Gallipoli.

Having been on Gallpoli for nearly two and a half months and all that time continually in action, Bombardier R. E. Cavalier was evacuated ill to the Beach Hospital, Anzac Cove on the 13-7-1915. Disease began to break out at around this time due to the number of rotting corpses out in no mans land that could not be buried, which attracted scores of flies and vermin. Along with this was the unhealthy conditions and strain imposed on the men forced to live continually in trenches and dugouts, and many began to be sent away ill.
He was evacuated from Gallipoli on board the Hospital Ship, HT “Gloucester Castle” and disembarked at Malta on the 29-7-1915. His casualty report states, Sick & wounded. He was admitted to St.Andrews Military Hospital at Malta the same day. Next of kin advised that he had disembarked at Malta, 11-8-1915 and on the 2-10-1915, that he was admitted to St. Andrews Hospital.
He was discharged from Hospital and embarked on board HT “Karoa” for Egypt on 8-9-1915 and rejoined the brigade at Cairo on 22-9-1915, proceeded to Mena Camp.
On the 18-10-1915 he sailed again for Gallipoli Peninsula on board HMAT A 30 “Borda” from Alexandria, and rejoined the battery there on 7-11-1915. He possibly landed prior to this date, but cannot accurately confirm this.

The 2nd FAB was evacuated from Gallipoli during the withdrawal of the Anzac forces. From the 22nd November some of the guns were gradually removed and on the 14th & 15-12-1915, the remainder were taken off. The 4th battery embarked from Anzac Beach, the guns being towed out on lighters and loaded on board the transport ship HMT “Caledonia” the night of 15-12-1915 and sailed for Egypt, arriving at Alexandria on 27-12-1915.

The 2nd FAB moved into camp at Tel el Kebir, and resumed training.

R. E. Cavalier promoted to Corporal at Tel el Kebir on the 13-1-1916.

He was transferred to the 4th Division Artillery on 27-2-1916. Taken on strength of the 21st Howitzer Battery and on the 6-3-1916 posted to the 102nd Battery, 2nd FAB, 1st Australian Division Artillery. One howitzer battery (4.5 inch howitzer) was attached to each of the 18 pounder brigades.

Promoted to Temporary Sergeant at Tel el Kabir on 10-3-1916 before embarking for France on the 25-3-1916.

#12 Bardess



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Posted 28 February 2012 - 10:01 PM

I'm absolutely thrilled that your info corroborates the facts as stated in the programme. Someone was telling me to transcribe it...


#13 Auimfo



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Posted 04 March 2012 - 01:49 PM

If you can't view 'In Their Footsteps' on the ninemsn site, then all the episodes are available for viewing at the following Youtube page:


Tim L.

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 02:42 PM

Doesn't work here in snow covered Winnipeg Manitoba. Still and interesting subject.

#15 CSMMo



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Posted 23 March 2012 - 06:52 PM

This is by no means an attempt to discredit this account. It is only an effort to bring accuracy into this thread. I'm sure these gunners fired their gun's (and Australia's) first rounds as stated.

However, At ANZAC, the 26th Mountain Battery had landed by 0900 and had been put in action on the western slopes of 400 Plateau by midday. After attracting fire onto itself from Turkish artilery and sustaining heavy losses, they were forced to withdraw at 1430. "It suffered 17 casualties including Lieutenant P.C. Chapman killed and Jemadar Dulla Khan seriously wounded. Captain Kirby was also wounded but he later "escaped" from the hospital ship and returned to the battery on the beach. This battery, with one 18 pounder gun which landed at 1530 were the only artillery ashore before 1800 hours" (History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, The Forgotten Fronts and the Home Base1914-1918" by General Sir Martin Farndale, page 14.) He then describes an 18 pounder battery that was landed, ordered to re-embark and was then unavailable. It appears that the single 18 pounder mentioned in General Farndale's history is the one mentioned above.
A more accurate claim would seem to be that it was the first Australian gun fired at Gallipoli. That's certainly praiseworthy enough, but more accurate.

I understand their pride and their place in history as a retired gunner.

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