The exact location of the bodies of most of those who died on Chunuk Bair is unknown. In the New Zealand newspapers they were listed as, ‘Reported missing August 8; now believed to have been killed’.  

No. 2 Outpost after August offensive 1915
No. 2 Outpost after August offensive 1915

Auckland War Memorial Museum D531.T9 G169 Reserve


Dr Ian McGibbon explains the contributing factors in the failure of the August offensive.

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After the Gallipoli campaign, the Ottomans eventually moved away from the area, leaving the bodies of Allied soldiers where they lay. Of the 632 men buried in Chunuk Bair Cemetery, only 10 have headstones. Eight of these 10 are New Zealanders. After the 1918 Armistice, this cemetery was created on the site where the Turks had buried some of the Commonwealth soldiers killed between 6 and 8 August 1915.

Two of the New Zealanders buried in the cemetery are Matthew Persson and Basil Mercer, who both died on 8 August 1915. They were only 17 years old. New recruits were meant to be over 20, but both Persson and Mercer had lied about their age. Private Persson, from Palmerston North, and Private Mercer, from Wellington, are buried next to each other in Chunuk Bair Cemetery.

Zone 3 Dead of Chunuk Bair Sgt Joe G.mp3

Sgt. Joe Gasparich describes the scene left after the August offensive.

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After the evacuation of Gallipoli in December 1915, many dead New Zealand soldiers remained unburied. It was not until December 1918, after the Armistice had been declared, that Allied forces returned to the peninsula. 

The Canterbury Mounted Rifles were part of an Allied occupation force that helped monitor Ottoman compliance with the Armistice. This gave them the opportunity to revisit the old Anzac battle sites,where the Graves Registration Unit was working. Special parties searched for graves and bodies of New Zealand soldiers. Graves were identified and cleared, skeletons were identified and bones collected for burial.

Though it was difficult work, an observer at the scene in December 1918, Ernest Peacock, was greatly impressed with what he saw from the soldiers. ‘Going over each remnant, buttons and scraps of cloth and other details,’ wrote Peacock, ‘they found sufficient to be convinced that the remains were those of a comrade. It is impossible to describe or to do justice to the tender, reverent care with which each particle was gathered together, a grave dug, and the whole buried in quite impressive solemnity. There was no funeral service but no dignitary ever received a more truly loving Christian burial than did those remains.’


Inline Image:

A carved stone commemorating the dead from the 1st (Canterbury Yeomanry Cavalry) Squadron of the Canterbury Mounted Rifles Regiment killed in the August Offensive on the first day 6 August 1915. National Army Museum, NZ 1993.1203


Sgt Joe Gasparich, 1999.2935-1B, National Army Museum, NZ.