Chunuk Bair: Rewriting the ANZAC story

(3 News)
(3 News)

While the Battle of Chunuk Bair was the most significant action fought at Gallipoli, it is all but ignored by our ANZAC partners.

Diversionary attacks by Australian troops at Lone Pine and the Nek are regarded as far more important across the Tasman, and a leading Australian historian believes it's time to rewrite the ANZAC story.

One-hundred years on and the battle of Chunuk Bair still stirs the imagination.

A new mural at Te Papa evocatively portrays the chaos of the fighting, and, for leading New Zealand military historian Glyn Harper, Chunuk Bair holds great importance.

"When you're talking about 900 New Zealanders dying to take that hill – and it's not even the highest point on the range – it's a tragedy.

"But it is probably I think our defining moment of the Gallipoli campaign, more so than the landing," he says.

Australian troops took part in two diversionary attacks to draw Turkish soldiers away from Chunuk Bair and those actions at Lone Pine and the Nek have become enshrined in Australia's public consciousness, while New Zealand's heroics on Chunuk Bair have been all but forgotten.

Australian historian Peter Pedersen is doing his bit to make sure the New Zealand part of the ANZAC story gets told on his side of the ditch.

"I'm in awe of the New Zealand soldiers who took and held that position … and it begs the question as it always does – would I have been able to do it?

"So they serve as exemplars, and in this day and age we really need them."

Only those who were on Chunuk Bair knew what it was really like and one survivor, Vic Nicholson, described it in an interview in 1984.

"If I was asked to give a description of the colour of the earth on Chunuk Bair, I would say it was a dull, browny red, and that was blood."

3 News