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Statistical snapshot - Australian casualties at Gallipol



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STATISTICAL SNAPSHOT— AUSTRALIAN CASUALTIES AT GALLIPOLI

David Watt

The landing at Gallipoli was one of the more imaginative strategies of the First World War. In eastern Europe the Germans had delivered a series of blows to the Russians who, fearing a second offensive by Turkish forces from the south, appealed to their allies for assistance. Hard-pressed by the Germans on the Western Front and with Egypt threatened by the Turks, the British and French could not afford for the Russians to collapse. They agreed to attack Turkey. Their objective was to wrest control of the Dardanelles and re-establish sea communications with Russia through the Black Sea.

The Australian and New Zealander landings at Anzac Cove were part of a series of landings, comprising British troops at Cape Helles and near Bulair, and French troops across the strait on the Asiatic side.

The pattern of fatalities at Gallipoli shows an obvious relationship to the ebb and flow of the campaign itself. The 800 deaths during the first six days of the campaign reflect the difficulties inherent in landing a force in difficult terrain while under fire. To some extent the May figure was the result of constant attrition, but the misuse of Australian and New Zealand troops at Helles on 8 May resulted in many more casualties and this was compounded by the repulsing of the major Turkish counter-attack on 18 May.

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August saw the greatest number of Australian deaths because of the campaign to move up and across the peninsula. Battles such as Lone Pine (on 6 August) and the Nek (7 August) cost over 2,000 Australian lives and were ultimately unsuccessful in their aim of capturing the higher ridges in order to make an advance possible. The fighting at Hill 60 on 21 August and 27 August was to be the last major action of the Gallipoli campaign.

Sporadic fighting continued as the weather deteriorated until the Anzacs were evacuated during December 1915. It is notable that more people died of disease during that month than were killed in action.

You can read more about Anzac Day in the Parliamentary Library Anzac Day Kit 2015.

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Source: Australian War Memorial

Gallipoli, 1915. Wounded Australian soldiers. Attribution: Australian War Memorial, Public Domain

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