‘The 1st Australian Division’s battle for Lone Pine resulted in 2277 Australian casualties, and over 800 killed outright.’
From 6 August to 9 August 1915, one of the most brutal battles fought by Australians in any war was fought between the Australians and the Turks at on a small plateau at Gallipoli known as Lone Pine. While I’ve read quite a bit about World War One and I’d heard of Lone Pine, it wasn’t until I read this book I realised how significant it was.
Like so many Australians, I had relatives who served in World War I. None of those who returned ever spoke within my hearing of what their experiences. My grandfather’s service medals were still in the boxes they were delivered in when he died in 1969. I have read about Gallipoli, and the Western Front, but I knew very little about the battle for Lone Pine.
In this book, Mr Cameron writes of the preparations for Lone Pine, of each day of the battle and the aftermath. He writes of the brutal hand-to hand combat, of the trenches, of the awful conditions. He writes of the bravery of the individuals, of courageous acts.
‘Of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians for the Gallipoli campaign, seven were for outstanding actions of bravery and valour during those four days at Lone Pine.’
And five of those Victoria Crosses were earned in a single day.
I was surprised to read that this is the first book to have been written specifically about this battle. Mr Cameron has drawn on first-hand accounts, from the diaries kept on precious scraps of paper and the letters sent home. While Charles Bean’s ‘The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918’ (Volume 2) is the source of so much information, it is the accounts written by the soldiers, nurses, engineers and others which provides voices to those who were part of the battle.
Although I find military history difficult to read, I feel an obligation to know more about the conflicts and battles in which so many were killed. I may never understand the ‘why’ or the ‘how’ but it’s important not to forget the ‘who’.
Lest we forget.
‘Lone Pine does not belong to the past – it is still very much with us, although those who served and suffered in that charnel house have passed.’