12th Battalion
Gallipolli to France

After the first days battle, a line of defense formed around were the Battalions stopped on the first day advances. The trenches built were not on the level of the trenches in France but were built as quick as possible. By May a more formal trench system is built.

The weather was hot and dusty so much of the standard Australian kit was soon discard. Some men wore putties, some had tunics (unbuttoned), some on unshaven, and others had hair down to the back of the neck. But all men always took care of there rifles,Bayonet, and ammunition. There was no safe area at Gallipolli. All area of the landing were under threat of Turkish bombardment.

As May slowly passed, if one was not on the line then one was carrying water, ammo, digging, or attempting to make a shanty (called a "possie" by the enlisted). A typical day started with a "stand-to" one hour before dawn the a day of digging and ended a dusk with another platoon taking over.

The 12th BN front soon became known as "Tasmanian Post" (on Holly Ridge) and was strongly defended. A large Turkish attack on May 18th to the 19th was repulsed with heavy Turkish loss of life.

June brought even hotter weather with swarms of flies making life even worse. A 114 new recruits starts to slowly bring the 12th up to Strength.

Gallipolli to France
Mid 1916 to 1917

In July, the lack of water becomes a major problem. On July 12th, the Battalion launches a small supporting attack to help the light horse assault on the right of the 12th Line (pictured in the movie Gallipolli). PH Helmet are issued as Gas attacks on the western front shock the Allies. By the end of July the weather gets even hotter and the men of the unit start to fall to record numbers with dysentery.

August brings more reinforcements and the attack on LONE PINE (On Aug. 6th). The 12th BN started out in the Divisional reserve but within 1/2 hour is thrown into the general assault (With Companies A + D). They had to cover the dead filled ground to reach the enemy trenches with a light loss of life, but once they made the trenches they found chaos. The dead literally carpeted the ground and all the trenches filled with wounded and dying men. Company A + D fought on for the next two days repelling repeated counter attacks. By Aug. 8th the remnants of both companies were replaced by fresh troops from other battalions as well as Company B. By the End of the Battle the 12th is down to 26 officers and 712 OR.

By September the 12th is worn out with much of the unit sick. By Sept. 15th most of the Battalion is sent to the Island of Imbros for much need rest.

October brings chilly weather and the return of the battalion to the line. "Beach Billy", the large caliber Turkish gun at Olive groove always puts in a mid day strafe on the beach. Oct. 10th brings one year that the 12th Sailed from Hobart. The 25th brings an extra rum ration as it marked 6 months at Gallipolli.

November it rains and starts to get very cold. Much of the men are not equipped for it and suffer. On the 25th the 12th BN is moved to the island of Mudros. They presented a strange spectacle to the British troops stationed there. Some of the 12th had Australian tunics, other British, some had shorts, while yet other converted "Tommy" slacks. Australian hats in all stages of repair mixed in with a few British service caps. The varied mixture of winter clothes found its way into the unit. Most men had packs filled with souvenirs from the Campaign (Turkish backpacks, rifles, caps, bayonets, shell cases, bombs, ect). There faces shown how worn out the men of the 12th had become.

By Mid December when the unit had rested. Orders for the evacuation of Gallipolli arrived. To add to there rising spirits, LT. Col. J. Gellibrand, a native Tasmanian, arrives and takes command of the 12th. Last, the men received red cross Xmas packages (called "Billies") from the people back home. In them some found such items as Kodak Camera's, proposals of marriage, socks, food, soap, ect.

On January 1st, 1916, the 12th embarked on the HMT "Lake Michigan" and head back to Egypt.

Canal Defenses (1916)

When the men arrived back into Egypt, they found themselves at Telrel - Kabir Camp which happened to be close to the 1882 battlefield. Walking around in the day, the men could still see the bones of Arabi Pasha's soldiers in the sand. Needless to say, Souvenir hunters had a field day.

On January 15th, the 1st Divison was reviewed by General Sir Archiballd Murray.

By January 24th, the 12th BN moved into the canal defences to repell an expected attack from Turksih forces in the Sini Desert. With fresh water in high demand, the Australian troops would go washing in the canal. This would bring about some funny moments as Passanger ships transited the canal only to find hundreds of nude troops splashing in the canal.

At about this time 17 men from the 12th BN transfer in the new Camel Corps, while 70 men transfered into the 1st Divison Pioneer BN.



Sorry Mate!

Trench system at fleurbaix - france(1916)