The battle of Chunuk Bair, part of the August Offensive
, was without doubt the most significant battle that the New Zealand Expeditionary Forces took part in. Chunuk Bair was one of the three highest points on the Gallipoli peninsula and it was the New Zealand forces objective to capture it. The plan was for the Auckland Battalion to capture it at dawn on the 7th August 1915. However, they fell behind schedule and didn't launch the attack until mid-morning, suffering heavy casualties. The Wellington Battalion were ordered to follow suit but given what had happened to the Auckland Battalion, their commander, Lieutenant Colonel William Malone, refused to sacrifice his men in such a fashion. Instead they moved on in the pre-dawn darkness of 8th August and managed to swiftly move up to the summit.
They were surprised to find that, for the most part, the Turks defending the summit had largely disappeared. Noticing their mistake the Turks tried to attack at sunrise and the Wellington Battalion, assisted by the Auckland Riflemen and some British troops, began a fierce struggle to defend it from the attacking Turks. They were relieved later by the Otago Battalion and Wellington Mounted Rifles who managed to keep hold of the summit until the 10th August when a couple of British Battalions took over. It was then that Turkish commander Mustafa Kemal famously said to his troops - “There is no doubt we can defeat the enemy opposing us … When you see the wave of my whip, all of you rush forward together”. With this he launched a massive counterattack, which the British succumbed to and the summit was lost.
The remaining New Zealand troops were steadfast in stopping the Turks from flooding down the seaward slopes of the hill and as a result the Apex that continued up to Chunuk Bair was held by the ANZACs until the end of the campaign. The New Zealanders and British lost around 6,000 men between the 7th and 19th of August and the Ottomans lost 9,200. Today the area is home to the New Zealand National Memorial and the Ataturk Memorial.