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Holding the Line

Holding the Line https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/holding-the-line Quinn’s Post was the post closest to the Ottoman frontline – just a few terrifying metres away. Ngā Tapuwae Trails https://ngatapuwae.govt.nz/sites/default/files/stop/media/02%20holding%20the%20line%402x.jpg

Quinn’s Post was the post closest to the Ottoman frontline – just a few terrifying metres away. 

This stop gives you the big-picture story for the whole trail in one go.
New Zealand story
Turkish story
Read this story

NZ story - Holding the Line

You are standing at the edge of Quinn’s Post. 1,200 metres away  – down the valley towards the sea – is Hell Spit – on the southern edge of Anzac Cove. Right of that on the high ground is Plugge’s Plateau. Ari Burnu, the Northern tip of Anzac Cove, is out of sight, behind Plugge’s Plateau. Ari Burnu is where the Anzacs landed at dawn on the 25th of April 1915. 

Around noon that day, Lieutenant Spencer Westmacott climbed up on to Plugge’s Plateau, made his way down into the gully in front of you, and led his Aucklanders up to the high ground that you can see to your right, by the distinctive pyramid-shaped Turkish memorial with a flag. The New Zealanders fought there all afternoon on the 25th of April, until the Ottoman counterattack drove them back to where you’re standing.  

From the front, from the right, and now from the right rear the rifle fire was coming. The last got several of us, though we did not know it at the time, for a sniper lay there just on the edge of the plateau and picked us off as we showed up, one by one. 
Lieutenant Spencer Westmacott

Here the New Zealanders dug in, and Quinn’s Post became the critical point on the Anzac frontline. The road that runs from the Turkish memorial, along the front of this cemetery and then goes south all the way along the ridge roughly follows what was no-man’s-land – the area between the two front lines. 

If you can imagine: on the inland side of the road were the Ottomans and on the seaward side were the Anzacs. The Anzacs were so close to the edge of the cliff that they were hanging on by their fingernails. 

If you look back down that road from where you’ve come, you can see the Lone Pine memorial in the distance. From Lone Pine to here, each cemetery marks a critical point on the Anzac front line. 

You have Lone Pine, Johnston’s Jolly, Steele’s Post and Courtney’s Post and here Quinn’s Post. And if you look at the dates in the cemetery, you’ll see that many of these men died between May and August 1915, while a bloody stalemate ensued. 

Loaded up our gear and started off for Quinn’s Post, the ‘death trap’ of the ANZAC line. I shall never forget the sight of that place – mangled bodies of our own men and Turks everywhere – rifles twisted and misshapen by the bombs as were the bodies. The ground itself worse than after any flood or storm – to look at it made one sad – it seemed wounded and bleeding in its own way. 
Sergeant Charles Saunders

Turn and face the Turkish monument, to its left, you will see along the ridge, a cemetery and another monument, in amongst the pine trees. That is the Nek and the monument marks the Ottoman front line. The Nek was a tiny piece of no-man’s-land. It is famous as the place where the troopers of the Australian Light Horse were massacred on the 7th of August 1915. It is where the final scene of Peter Weir’s famous movie Gallipoli was set. 

I saw the whole thing from the Table Top and don’t want to see another sight like it. They were fairly mown down by machine guns. 
Sergeant John Wilder

Where you are standing is the area of the Anzac frontline trenches. The area between the two front lines was carpeted with the bodies of the dead – both Anzac and Ottoman

We moved to Quinn’s Post at 8 o’clock this morning. In places our trenches touch the Turks and consequently all trenches are made bomb-proof. One would never credit miles of enemy divided only by a narrow bank of earth; is it a wonder men break down? 
Sergeant George Bollinger

By the end of April 1915, the Anzacs had secured Anzac Cove and a small area stretching as far as Second Ridge. From early May, the Anzacs consolidated their position. A network of machine guns ensured that soldiers at one Anzac post would be protected by machine guns at another. Officers such as Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone improved the trenches and sanitation at each post. 

On our part we promptly realized that there was sound commonsense in everything the ‘old man’ did. He was one of the few commanding officers who really thought about war. His ideas were original and practical – all directed either to increasing the comfort and wellbeing of the men or to improve their fighting capacity and security.  
Lieutenant Hedley Howe

On the 19th of May, a Turkish counter-attack involving over 40,000 saw some 10,000 mown down by Anzac troops along Second Ridge. With bodies decaying in the hot sun and increasing the risk of disease, an armistice was agreed to, whereby each side could retrieve their dead.

There was a narrow path, absolutely blocked with dead, also a swathe of men who had fallen face down as if on parade – victims to our machine guns. The brink of the precipice was thick with bushes and every few yards we found dead. 
Lieutenant-Colonel Dr Percival Fenwick

During this time, the hot climate and cramped living conditions took their toll. Water was scarce and strictly rationed and there were plagues of flies, many soldiers suffered from dysentery and other diseases. A diet mainly consisting of bully beef and biscuits provided little variety or nutrition. 

These biscuits were not of the household variety, but were great big affairs four inches square and as hard as rock. The only way to eat them was to break off corners and keep them in the mouth until they were soft enough to chew. 
Gunner Norman Hassell

The bloody stalemate continued until early August, when the Allied commanders decided they would launch a major offensive to take key high points of the Sari Bair range, including Chunuk Bair.

Quote references:
Lieutenant Spencer Westmacott, Auckland Infantry Battalion.
Sergeant Charles Saunders, New Zealand Engineers.
Sergeant John Wilder, Wellington Mounted Rifles.
Sergeant George Bollinger, Wellington Infantry Battalion. 
Lieutenant Hedley Howe, 11th Australian Infantry Battalion.
Lieutenant-Colonel Dr Percival Fenwick, Deputy Assistant Director of Medical Services.  Norman Hassell, New Zealand Field Ambulance.

Read the Turkish story

Turkish story - Holding the Line

You are standing at Quinn’s Post. The Turks named this Bomba Sırtı or ‘Bomb Ridge’, because hand grenades were often used here. The distance between trenches was very close – just a few metres. The men would fight in shifts no longer than 48 hours. If they stayed here longer they would go crazy.

Quinn’s Post was a very critical place for the Turks and Anzacs. On the 25th of April 1915, the Australians and New Zealanders moved forward to this ridge after landing, which is known as Second Ridge.

About 3 weeks after the landing, on the 19th of May, over 40 000 Turks attacked along the line of Second Ridge, which roughly follows the road you can see today. The division commanded by Mustafa Kemal, later known as Atatürk, came from Baby 700 towards the Nek and Pope’s Hill, further up the road to your right. Another division attacked at Quinn’s and Courtney’s Posts, yet another at Johnson’s Jolly, and another division attacked Lone Pine.
  
The Turkish attack started at 3.30am and went on for nearly 6-and-a-half hours. But it was a catastrophe because the army was not synchronized. One party would occupy a position, but Anzac fire from the flanks would cut it down. The Turks made some ground towards the Nek but devastating fire from here at Quinn’s Post meant that they had to retreat. 

When the Turks tried to advance here at Quinn’s Post, machine guns at Courtney’s Post and Russell’s Top cut them down. 

According to Mustafa Kemal, at Quinn’s Post, where the trenches were so close, death was inevitable. The men in the first row died within minutes, and they got replaced by the row behind. They didn’t receive orders to do this, they simply used their initiative. And the men in the second row knew they would be killed in the next few minutes but they didn’t hesitate. Those who could read had the holy book, the Koran, and read from it. Those who could not read just repeated the name of Allah and prepared to go to paradise.

Eventually, at about 10 o’clock in the morning, the Turkish attack stopped because they knew that if the Anzacs were to counterattack there would be no Turks left to defend the ground. To make things worse a military band was brought very close to the lines and started singing and playing very moving Turkish songs. 

This raised the morale of the troops and they pushed forward again, which made losses even higher. The Ottoman corps commander Esat Pasha said in his memoirs that when the men at the Ottoman headquarters learned that about 3,000 men were killed in the 6-hour battle, they all cried. 

After a few days, the dead bodies lying in no-man’s-land started to bloat and stink. When the wind was blowing in the right direction, soldiers from both sides fired at the bloated bodies so that the stench would waft over enemy lines. 

On the 24th of May 1915, because of the awful stench and the major health risk that the decaying bodies posed, the enemies agreed to a truce. At one place, hundreds of Turks were buried in a single mass grave. It was a long trench fifty metres long. The Turks packed the bodies in like sardines. They had no time to bury the rest so they put them in the neighbouring trenches and quickly covered them. All along Second Ridge, remains of dead men lie underneath.

After the truce, things got back to normal and hostilities resumed. However, one story that New Zealanders tell is that when the soldiers from the Wellington Infantry Battalion were here at Quinn’s Post, at night time it was very quiet. There was a New Zealander who sang songs every night. One night he finished singing and a Turkish soldier started singing. Then it became like a concert every night.

Then there was a skirmish and the New Zealand singer got killed. The New Zealanders didn’t know what had happened to the Turkish singer. For a few nights they listened to the Turkish trenches but there was no singing, so they assumed he had been killed in the same skirmish. 

As well as bombarding the Ottoman front line, Allied warships shelled the area behind the lines. As a result, Turkish kitchens were located well away from the front line, so it took a long time to bring food to the soldiers. Turkish soldiers complained that their food was cold, especially the soup. Tea was very rare and coffee was very difficult to find. 

A Turkish major wrote how one day Mustafa Kemal came to inspect his battalion. He was tired and rested for a while. They served him some tea. The impressed commander asked where they had got the tea, as the Ottoman army didn’t issue it. 

The men then realized that they had made a mistake because they got the tea from the Anzacs in exchange for tobacco. Such interaction was strictly forbidden. They admitted this to Kemal and he didn’t say anythingturk. After a tense pause he said that it was alright, and drank the tea obtained from the Anzacs.

How to get here

Getting there

From Courtney's Post continue north along the road for a few hundred metres until you come to Quinn's Post Cemetery on your left.

Where to stand

Walk into Quinn's Post Cemetery, and go to the far right corner. Look down the valley below towards the sea.

GPS
40°14'17"N
26°17'30"E
Decimal GPS
40.23833
26.29188
  • The view down Shrapnel Gully in 1915.
    The view down Shrapnel Gully in 1915.Credits

    Photographic postcard showing Shrapnel Gully, Gallipoli. Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 657-5

  • The terrace at Quinn's Post.
    The terrace at Quinn's Post.Credits

    Australian War Memorial A02014 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/A02014/

  •  Turkish trenches at Quinn's Post, looking through a bomb-proof screen. Wire, rifles, bomb tins, and debris of old attacks are scattered across no-mans-land.
     Turkish trenches at Quinn's Post, looking through a bomb-proof screen. Wire, rifles, bomb tins, and debris of old attacks are scattered across no-mans-land.Credits

    Australian War Memorial G01019 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/G01019/

  • A sniper using a periscope rifle at Quinn's Post. The framework of a wire netting bomb screen is showing.
    A sniper using a periscope rifle at Quinn's Post. The framework of a wire netting bomb screen is showing.Credits

    Australian War Memorial G01025 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/G01025/

  • A view through the bomb screens at Quinn's Post above Monash Gully across no-mans-land at the opposition, 1915.
    A view through the bomb screens at Quinn's Post above Monash Gully across no-mans-land at the opposition, 1915.Credits

    National Army Museum 1992.757

  • Terraces and shelters on the hillside. The New Zealand engineers and infantry under Colonel Malone made great improvements to Quinn's Post on Anzac. July 1915.
    Terraces and shelters on the hillside. The New Zealand engineers and infantry under Colonel Malone made great improvements to Quinn's Post on Anzac. July 1915.Credits

    Australian War Memorial G01024 http://www.awm.gov.au/collection/G01024/

Stories & Insights

Fenwick kept diaries throughout the Gallipoli campaign, describing appalling sights in graphic detail.

Officers of Wellington Company share meal

The Anzacs were crammed together in trenches, many of them sick, living on food that was often barely edible - yet they coped.

Lieutenant A J Shout sniping with a periscope rifle, 1915.

From jam-tin bombs to periscope rifles, the Anzacs' inventiveness knew no bounds.

Malthus described the desperate and dangerous conditions at the notorious Quinn’s Post.

Clear-headed and disciplined, Malone was determined to improve living conditions for the men in the trenches. 

Major Kemal Ohri is led by the hand along the beach by two officers from Anzac headquarters as an envoy to negotiate an armistice to bury the dead.

After a horrific battle, rotting bodies lay everywhere in the no-man's land betwen trenches. Both sides agreed on a ceasefire to clean up.

An Australian soldier firing a Vickers .303 machine gun on Turkish positions. Lit by sunlight through the observation hole at right, the post one of many in the extensive array of tunnels connecting the Australian front line positions.

Both sides dug underground tunnels towards each other. It let them listen in to their enemy and lay hidden explosives.

Taking the Holding the Line trail

WARNING: Many locations at Gallipoli are potentially dangerous, and there are undercut cliffs and sudden drops. Go slowly and carefully - and never stand close to a cliff's edge.

Get to Lone Pine (the start of this trail) from Eceabat

From the ferry wharf in Eceabat, turn left and follow the road along the Dardanelles coast 200 metres before it turns right, looping around the back of the town. Follow this road north for two kms until you reach the roundabout near the coast, signposted for Anzak Koyu (Anzac Cove). Turn left and drive 6 kms across the peninsula. Take the road signposted for Chunuk Bair (the Conkbayiri road). This road is one-way, though there is the chance you could meet oncoming traffic because some drivers don’t follow these rules. After a drive of some 2 km climbing past a number of Turkish monuments along the way you come to Lone Pine Cemetery on the left of the road.

Your stop

Walk through Lone Pine Cemetery, and go up the right-hand steps of the monument. At the top, turn right, then turn and face the cemetery.

Get to the must-do stop from Eceabat

Follow the directions to Lone Pine Cemetery and keep going for around 4kms until you reach Quinn’s Post Cemetery on your left. 

No car?
Taxi drivers may take you to the main sites, but this can be expensive. You can also hire a private guide. A recommended alternative is pre-booking a bus tour that covers the sites you are interested in visiting. 

Plan your time

Allow 1½ to 2 hours to explore the entire Holding the Line trail.

If you’re short of time, you can simply visit the must-do stop on the trail – Quinn’s Post. The audio guide to Quinn’s Post gives you the big-picture Holding the Line story.

Location Collection: 
Location Name: 
Holding the Line
Lat: 
40.23027075500171
Long: 
26.287245142822258

Take the next trail

The next Ngā Tapuwae trail is Chunuk Bair. Proceed to No 2 Outpost.
Link to the first stop

Decimal GPS:
74.51234869995749
-76.32464468750004
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-89.31048453125004
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75.08725557577952
-101.21966421875004
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75.4684211203972
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-117.06194937500004
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75.45919210986763
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76.41021976105979
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Stop Images

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Decimal GPS Real Location:
40.23018
26.28766
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40.23291
26.28721
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40.23018
26.28766
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40.23833
26.29188
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40.23817
26.29141
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40.24226
26.28995
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40.24133
26.28818
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40.24168
26.28827
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40.24289
26.29462