Saturday, July 23, 2011


"The sea was full of ships gliding through the darkness toward the Turkish coast...At half past eight the tows pulled alongside for the Aucklanders, who were to be the first New Zealanders to land... There was no excitement. Everyone was cool and quiet, but terribly determined to do their best".

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 657-11

The war in the Dardanelles looked good on paper and still authorities say if it had been successful it could have shortened the war by as much as two years. Sadly the reality was very different. Those overseeing the battles seem to have had no idea of the terrain and conditions the men were fighting in. They had also grossly underestimated the Turkish forces fighting for their homeland. Those ships off loading men were several miles north of where they should have landed and the terrain was grim. The Turkish forces were up in the scrub of those high cliffs, sniper and machine gun fire rained down on the Aucklanders.

Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 657-5

Casualties far exceeded expectations and there were not enough evacuation boats or hospital ships to cope with the incessant stream of wounded. On the first day the Auckland Regiment lost 78 men with 220 wounded.
Water was at a premium. Dust, heat, flies, vermin, thirst, bad food, the terrible stench of the unburied dead, and the constant danger of sniper fire. Then came disease by July the men were going down with dysentery by the score. Men quickly became "most dilapidated and disreputable scarecrows".
The fighting went on, a truce in May to bury to bury the dead on both sides, a push in August when they captured some high ground then stalemate and winter coming on, a blizzard in November. The evacuation in December was the most well organised part of the mission. The men were bitterly disappointed - they were leaving behind their comrades in all 429 dead from Auckland. The Allies lost 252,000 men at Gallipoli, it is estimated that the Turkish losses were over 300,000.

And what of the Captain's grandsons, George's son Stanley was wounded in May - gunshot wound to the shoulder, he rejoined the unit in time for the August fighting, was wounded again "slightly - in action", and later hospitalised with gastritis. Three of Caroline's sons were at at Gallipoli - Arthur Postlewaite, was hospitalised sick in July and severely wounded by a bomb blast in August. He was evacuated to England and then home to New Zealand in November - his war was over. I have no record of injury or sickness for Sydney Postlewaight. Alfred Postlewaight was part of the third reinforcements and was probably there in time for for the landing, he was hospitalised with gastritis and debility and evacuated to England in October.
They would go on to fight in Eqypt and France and Flanders, but all six of the Captain's grandsons who went off to the first world war survived.

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