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Dawn on Gallipoli Peninsula on Sunday 25 April 1915 was due at 4.05 am. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps began landing in the inky darkness just before dawn at what was to become known as Anzac Cove. Further to the south, at the toe of the peninsula, the British 29th Division was also landing. In a diversionary attack the French landed some troops south of the entrance to the Dardanelles.
The 3rd Australian Brigade had been selected to land first and was told that there was open land between the beach and the comparatively low ridge that it would have to climb. However, the brigade landed a mile north of Gaba Tepe and the troops found themselves at the foot of a very steep, almost precipitous, 300 foot high hill. Stopping only for their breath, the Australians, who by this time were being fired on by the Turks, began the difficult climb to the summit which was quickly captured. The summit was found to be a small plateau, later named Plugge's Plateau, with its further edge also a very steep slope into a deep and tortuous valley rising to a second, slightly higher ridge 600 yards away. Hidden behind this second ridge was a third ridge which was the principal Australian objective for that first morning.
Six Turkish divisions were stationed on Gallipoli but most of these forces were in reserve. Only one Turkish battalion defended the coast where the Australians landed and despite the confusion caused by landing at the wrong beach and the subsequent intermixing of units, small parties of Australians began moving rapidly inland across difficult country. The first ridge was completely occupied shortly after sunrise and the Australians were moving across the second ridge and had reached the third ridge by 7 am. Two scouts of the 10th Battalion, Private A S Blackburn (who would win the VC at Pozieres in 1916) and Lance Corporal Robin, scouted Scrubby Knoll on the Third Ridge just as the first Turkish reserves were arriving. The Australian Official Historian, C E W Bean, credits Blackburn and Robin as coming nearer to the objective of the expedition than any other soldiers whose movements are known.
On the left of the perimeter, Australians reached the Nek by 8 am and then pushed forward, first to Baby 700 and then to the slopes of Battleship Hill. The next crest on this ridge was Chunuk Bair, the principal Australian objective for the first day. The Australians on Battleship Hill were so exposed that they had to withdraw to Baby 700. Throughout the morning and most of the afternoon a tense battle was fought with unsurpassed courage on both sides with the summit of Baby 700 changing hands no less than five times. Between 4.30 pm and 5 pm Turkish counter-attacks along the entire front forced the Australians back with Baby 700 being lost for the last time. By evening the Australian position was in jeopardy.
Australian and New Zealand reinforcements landed throughout the day but instead of a 4 mile front driven 1 1/2 miles inland, the troops were clinging to a foothold on the second ridge just half a mile inland on a front of one mile. Over 2000 casualties were suffered on the first day. Realising that the landing had achieved much less than had been intended, General Bridges, commanding the 1st Australian Division, after a conference with General Godley, commanding the New Zealand and Australian Division, recommended to the Anzac Corps Commander, General Birdwood that withdrawal be considered. Birdwood, at first shocked at the suggestion, passed it on to the Expeditionary Force commander, General Hamilton, who wrote back to Birdwood that there is nothing for it but to dig yourselves right in and stick it out.
Nightfall on 25 April brought one of the rare wet spells of the whole campaign. The Turkish batteries ceased firing and the Turkish rifle and machine gun fire became relatively harmless. After being pinned down all day, the Australians were now able to stand up and dig trenches to provide protection. Both sides continued all night and several Turkish assaults in the dark were defeated. The expected major counter-attack at dawn on Monday, 26 April did not materialise since the Turks, who had lost very heavily, were as exhausted as the invaders. On the third day, 27 April, a general counter-attack by Turkish reinforcements was broken up by guns from the warships off-shore when they attacked down the exposed slopes of Baby 700.
The Anzac Corps bridgehead was firmly established by the end of April with the left third of the front held by the New Zealand and Australian Division and the remainder of the front held by the 1st Australian Division. On the night of 5 May, the New Zealand and the 2nd Australian Brigades moved to Helles to support a major attack towards Krithia. On 8 May, the 2nd Australian Brigade lost 1000 men in an hour for the gain of just 500 yards. The two Anzac brigades returned to Anzac Cove in mid May. At Anzac Cove, the fighting crystallised into trench warfare with snipers a constant danger. On 14 May, General Birdwood was grazed on the head by a deflected bullet and the following day, General Bridges was mortally wounded.