Gallipoli and the Anzacs

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Embarkation Pier Cemetery

Embarkation Pier Cemetery

Google satellite map showing the location of Embarkation Pier Cemetery ... View larger map

Embarkation Pier Cemetery is to the left of the road heading north from North Beach, Anzac. Various headquarters were established in the area in August 1915 and later on a casualty clearing station. The pier itself was constructed for the purpose of evacuating casualties from the heights and valleys in front of the cemetery during the ‘August Offensive’ between 6 and 12 August 1915, but had to be abandoned when the area came under heavy enemy rifle and shell fire. The cemetery was constructed after the war by bringing in burials from smaller cemeteries nearby and in the hills.

Of the 944 soldiers buried or commemorated in Embarkation Pier only 282 have identified graves. Seven of these are of Australians. A further 118 Australians are ‘believed to be buried’ in this cemetery and each of them is named on a Special Memorial.

Official CWGC grave listings for: Embarkation Pier Cemetery.

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Embarkation Pier Cemetery. [DVA] ... Enlarge photo

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Entrance to Embarkation Pier Cemetery. [DVA] ... Enlarge photo

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Captain Reverend Andrew Gillison, died of wounds, 22 August 1915. [AWM P02615.004] ... Enlarge photo

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Church service being conducted by Captain Reverend Gillison, Reserve Gully, Gallipoli, 6 August 1915. [AWM A03808] ... Enlarge photo

Captain Chaplain Andrew Gillison

14th Battalion AIF
Special Memorial B 62

The Special Memorial to Captain Chaplain Andrew Gillison in Embarkation Pier Cemetery is a reminder of the dangers faced by clergymen attached to fighting units. Historian Michael McKernan writes of these military clerics:

The padre was on the whole older and unused to rough conditions. He was a man of peace swept up into the horrifying insanity of war. At the nightly burial parties he was closer to death than most – he saw each night the cost of the campaign. The padre did not have the release of action, wildly firing off a rifle to avenge a mate. The padre could not rage against orders or the fates when things went awfully wrong; the padre was a man of peace and comfort.

[Michael McKernan, Padre: Australian Chaplains in Gallipoli and France, Sydney, 1986, pp.41-42]

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Page from Captain Reverend Andrew Gillison’s burial records, May 1915. [AWM RC02926] ... Enlarge photo

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Commemorative scroll for Captain Reverend Andrew Gillison. [AWM RC02927] ... Enlarge photo

Scotsman and Presbyterian minister Andrew Gillison enlisted in the AIF in October 1914. Involved in the ‘armistice’ of 24 May 1915 to bury the huge number of Turkish and Australian dead lying out in front of the Australian trenches, he described the scene:

Our dead were the result of the first days advance. I never beheld such a sickening sight in my life, and hope it may not be my lot again. The way that rifles and equipment left behind on the battlefield were wrecked with bullets, was a revelation of the extent of rifle and machinegun fire.

[Andrew Gillison, diary, 3DRL/6277, AWM]

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Special Memorial for Captain Reverend Andrew Gillison, 14th Battalion AIF, Embarkation Pier Cemetery. [DVA] ... Enlarge photo

On the morning of 22 August, Gillison was preparing to read the burial service over the bodies of men who had been killed the previous day in heavy fighting at Hill 60 when he heard someone groaning in the scrub on the ridge. He called two men of the 13th Battalion, Corporal Robert Pittendrigh, a Methodist clergyman, and another Australian soldier, to assist him. The three crawled out and reached the wounded man, but both Gillison and Pittendrigh were severely wounded by a Turkish sniper before they could drag the wounded man to safety. Another padre, Walter Dexter, was with Gillison at the end:

Several of the Padres were with him and while conscious he spoke to them. Just a servant gone to His Master, but Oh, his poor wife!

[Walter Ernest Dexter, diary, PR00248, AWM]

Corporal Pittendrigh died on a hospital ship a week later and was buried at sea. He is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial to the Missing.

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Private William Albert Baker, 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment AIF. [AWM DA08205] ... Enlarge photo: William Baker

Trooper William Albert Baker

9th Australian Light Horse AIF
Plot 1, Row A, Grave 12

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Grave of Trooper William Baker, 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment AIF, Embarkation Pier Cemetery. [DVA] ... Enlarge grave: William Baker

By the time winter set in on the Gallipoli peninsula the men of the 9th Australian Light Horse Regiment had been in the trenches for six months. On 27 November 1915, the first snow began to fall and with the snow arrived more trying conditions than the troops had previously experienced. A new danger was that snow provided a backdrop along the parapets for the Turks to observe the men who soon became more readily identified targets. By the following morning the snow, in some places, lay 30 centimetres deep. At 11a.m., Trooper William Baker, of Kangarilla, South Australia, was on observation duty in the bitterly cold conditions when a sniper shot and killed him.

Trooper Baker was first buried in the cemetery at No 2 Outpost but after the war his remains were re-interred in Embarkation Pier. In 1921, Frederick Baker wrote to the Army asking that these words might be inscribed on his brother’s headstone:

Brother Bill A Sniping Fell
We Miss Him Still
We Ever Will

Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website