25 April (2015) Movie Script

The sky was raining shells,
and the ridges were on fire.
I remember my hand was aching
from working the bolts.
Imagine what it's like when
the man beside you is shot.
He gives off this
funny little cough.
There's no need...
to look back.
During World War One
Turkey was a German ally.
Hoping to knock Turkey
out of the war
the British launched an invasion
at the Gallipoli Peninsula.
As part of the British Empire
colonial troops from Australia
and New Zealand fought in this campaign.
Gallipoli was to be a defining event
in the history of these two nations.
My name is Thomas Grace,
but everyone calls me Hami.
I was made a second lieutenant.
A Maori office in
the New Zealand Army.
Now, that was rare.
When I signed up, I thought it
would be a big adventure,
and we thought
we were going to Europe.
But we were sent to Turkey,
a place called Gallipoli.
This is the story of six people
who served at Gallipoli.
It is based on their words as
written in their diaries,
letters and memoirs.
The events in this film are true.
My dearest Ethel,
by now you will now
from the papers
that we are on our way
to fight the Turk.
I'll be in a forward position
for the landing,
and we expect to meet
heavy fire.
If I fall,
know, my darling,
how much I love you
and know it was
for a good cause.
I believed
I was serving great men.
I was prepared to die
for King and country.
I had a wonderful wife,
three daughters,
and I hoped to make
my family proud.
Monday 5th of April 1915.
We're all feeling excited
about our departure.
We've heard weird tales
of what awaits us
when we reach Gallipoli.
Our transport is a boat
called the Achaia,
a tub of 1500 tons,
formely a German cargo
They gave us a map of
the Gallipoli peninsula,
and we studied that very closely.
The war in Europe had
reached a stalemate.
Pushing Turkey out of the war
could break the deadlock.
If we could seize control
of the Gallipoli peninsula,
we'd command
the Dardanelles Strait,
and the British Navy
would have a sea route
to the Turkish capital,
It was 4 a.m. as we approached
the Turkish coast.
I was beach-landing officer.
It was my job to get
the men ashore.
The Australians landed first,
and I was with them.
Nothing went
according to plan.
The Australians charged up the
steep hill in front of them.
They gained ground up
on the ridge,
but were soon pushed back.
By midday the place
was a fiery inferno.
We were so close,
enemy shells
splintered the decks.
I wasn't afraid.
It was just...
intense excitement.
It was remarkable
how soldier-like
you felt being amongst it all.
I was a corporal in the
Auckland Infantry Battalion.
I signed up pretty much
straight away,
as soon as England
declared war.
Call it war fever.
I was sure glad those
battleships were on our side.
You could really appreciate
the beauty of bursting shrapnel.
Of course, that was before
our own baptism of fire.
Transport after transport
landed soldiers.
Could see our troops
making their way up the hill
in long zigzag tracks.
We went in to reinforce
the Australians,
but there were very few
of them to reinforce.
Shrapnel and rifle bullets
were flying like hail.
It was my first time
under fire, and...
I've got to admit,
I was afraid.
The Turks were giving us hell.
It was war with a vengeance.
We were too exposed
to enemy fire.
The Turks were well dug in.
We went like blazes,
under fire the whole way.
The men were trapped
by constant fire.
The wounded, they...
They just kept on coming.
We were ordered to leave them
and to concentrate on the landing.
But I felt it was wrong to let
the wounded suffer like that.
So I had them flown
to a hospital ship.
The first landing party were
cut to pieces by the Turks.
We worked liked
you know what,
from the commanding officer
to the firemen.
We had to turn
many of the wounded away.
They were put
on transport ships
until another
hospital ship arrived.
I was a stretcher-bearer
at Gallipoli.
I didn't take enlistment lightly.
What counted for me was that
the church backed the war,
I wanted to do
the Christian thing.
My ambulance unit was ashore,
a group of us
had been left behind.
I ended up on a transport.
I was 21 years old.
I had a hold full
of wounded to myself.
A friend of mine from school
was brought onboard.
He had a bullet in his brain.
I begged the doctors
to operate,
but they said there was
nothing they could do.
He died the following day.
We left for the land hospital
with 600 wounded onboard.
I was working night duty
with one other nurse.
With the help of the orderlies,
we'd do half the ship each.
It hardly seemed real.
I was anxious about
our position.
We were hanging by our eyebrows
off a sort of eagle's nest,
backed by our ships' guns.
There were discussions
about withdrawal. But...
Well, we were instructed
to dig in.
There were 25,000 men
in our small patch of land.
Oh, the things were busy down
on the beach.
You can imagine
what it was like.
I was appointed commandant
of ANZAC Cove.
Uh, ANZAC is an acronym for
and New Zealand Army Corps.
So the ANZAC moniker stuck,
a little like we did
to our tiny piece of land.
It was over a week before
I was finally dumped on shore.
My unit was stationed
under a steep cliff.
The boys were pretty
pleased to see me.
There were...
well, there were gaps to fill.
Move it!
The Turks had machine guns
overlooking our mais route
to the beach.
Us stretcher-beares
stopped a lot of strafe.
The doctor had a...
a dog.
His name was Paddy.
Everyone loved Paddy.
Well, he was a character
and he was very good for morale.
I was sent a newspaper
from home
with a map of the
Gallipoli peninsula in it.
I marked our position and
a few key points of interest
and sent it to my family.
I hoped it would give them
a better understanding
of our situation.
The British troops,
supported by the French,
were at Cape Helles,
at the entrance to the Dardanelles.
The plan was for the British
to take a hill
called Achi Baba
while we secured
the Sari Bair ridge,
and in particular,
Chunuk Bair.
If we could control heights,
we could take the peninsula
and the Dardanelles Strait.
The ultimate goal
was to open up the sea route
to Constantinople.
We were fighting
for the high ground.
Our trenches were scattered
across the cliffs.
The first fortnight there
were only a couple of hours
when I wasn't under fire.
Johnny Turk was
a stone's throw away.
It was trench warfare.
Sometimes the trenches were
just 15 yards from the enemy
and neither side would budge.
We lost men every day.
Well, back home I played
representative rugby and cricket,
and I was in the rifle team
at Wellington College.
So that all came in handy
when they asked me
to take charge of the snipers.
The idea was that we would
pick off the Turkish snipers.
So it was a game of
"now you see me, now you don't."
Oh, these snipers
were deadly shots.
Enemy snipers could get...
10 chaps a day.
It was a cruel sport,
a life for a life.
In the darkness
it was a wonderful show.
Looking out,
it was like a city had been
planted in the Aegean Sea,
with the battleships
and destroyers watching over us.
There were constant rumors
about German submarines.
It preyed on my mind.
If they got amongst
our warships,
it would be a disaster.
In early May
we heard we were being shipped off
to support the Tommies,
that's what we called
the English,
on another part
of the peninsula.
We were taken by a destroyer
about 20 miles down
the peninsula
to the entrance
of the Dardanelles Strait.
We were being sent
to join a big battle.
Two of our battalions were
sent south to Cape Helles.
Well, I thought this was wrong.
We barely had enough men
to hold our own lines.
The enemy held
a really strong position
just in front of us
called Achi Baba.
It was a hill
that commanded the whole
of the Gallipoli peninsula.
We hoped the Turks would
charge our trenchers
so we could give them a reception
they'd never forget.
But we were the ones
that did the charging.
What happened next was hell.
Nearly all the advances
were made...
in broad daylight.
In open country.
A machine gun
is a terrible weapon.
Six men went over with me.
Five were hit.
The last thing I remember,
rifle was up in the air.
It's true what they say,
you know, about the earth just...
rising up
and smacking you.
It was pitiful to hear
the wounded
in No Man's Land
crying for help.
I remember one boy...
#For that country#
#My heart is aching here#
One boy sang "Homeland"
as he lay dying.
#There is no pain#
#In the homeland#
#To which I'm drawing near#
#My Lord is in the homeland#
It was a terrible,
terrible blunder.
To send us over open country
in broad daylight
under such murderous fire.
I lost a lot of mates.
We were a sorry band
on the hospital ship.
I remember one pathetic case,
an Australian boy
who'd had both eyes shot out,
but he didn't know it.
He walked around with a guide,
cheerful, you know?
Looking forward to the day that
his bandages would come off.
I started to think
the problem facing the men
was tougher than we thought.
at that time, you had to
believe you'd be successful.
By the time they sent us
back to ANZAC,
there were only half...
Half of us left.
You know, at that stage,
I was glad
I'd talked my younger brother,
out of coming.
He was only 17.
We were being treated
in a very sorry manner.
It was as
if General Headquarters
saw us as a king of sideshow.
On the day
we arrived back at ANZAC,
we heard the Turks
had attacked the day before
and had lost thousands.
The Turkish attack failed
and they retreated.
After the Turkish offensive,
a war correspondent came
with me to No Man's Land.
As a result of their losses,
Turks requested an armistice.
So on the 24th of May,
from 7:30 in the morning
until 4:30 in the afternoon,
a ceasefire was declared.
We came out
and we eyed each other up.
The men were curious
about each other.
There was a...
real bewildering
sense of security
out there
on the front line.
Some of the dead had been there
from the beginning, so...
you can only imagine
what the stench was like.
In the end it was impossible
to carry all the bodies
back across the dividing lines,
so we...
agreed to burry
each other's dead.
Well, we had fewer
to bury than the Turks.
All of them...
had someone...
at home,
waiting for news.
I was filled
with the horror and left.
The musketry began again
promptly at 4:40.
There were all sorts of rumors
about Turkish atrocities.
They weren't true.
The Turks were a gallant foe,
and I didn't bear them
any malice.
Within weeks of landing,
the fashion was shorts,
boots, hat and a glorious
coat of sunburn.
The more clothes you shed,
the fewer lice
you carried around.
And the lice were voracious.
They multiplied
with amazing speed.
Onde generation would perish
in the morning and by lunchtime
you'd have their descendants
back feasting in you.
Oh, the lice.
They were having a big party,
and it was all
at our expense.
The only way to get away
from the lice...
was swimming.
All the troops came
to ANZAC Cove to bathe.
The place looked like
a holiday resort.
Bathing was glorious.
I don't know what
it would have been like
to be miles inland
and not be able to take
a dip in the briny.
We were nearly always lousy.
Oh, we begged them
not to swim,
because the beach
was always under fire
and they'd get sniped
in the water.
But they'd just say,
"Oh, well, Sister,
we've got to have a swim.
What are we gonna do otherwise?"
It's funny how careless
you become.
It was ludicrous.
And it happened almost
every day.
War is a dreadful thing,
but it has
its humorous side too.
Well, you couldn't drive
the humor out of our men.
- Paddy! Oi! Heel!
- Go, Paddy! Go!
There as a real difference
between the ANZACs
and the English troops.
There was a freedom
amongst the ANZACs
that was foreign
to the English men.
Get back here... Heel!
We'd clashed with the Australians
in training camp.
we'd learned to trust
each other in battle,
and a real comradeship formed.
I missed my family
a great deal,
but the boys cheered us up.
They were quite satisfied
with their lot, so,
if they were, well, it was up to us
to look on the bright side.
I'd collected two shrapnel cases.
They made beautiful vases.
So I'd pick flowers whenever
we took the wounded ashore.
It was an awful blow when the
battleship HMS Triumph got hit.
She was torpedoed
by a German submarine.
The Triumph was hit right
opposite our hill.
The submarine that did
the damage escaped.
Men completely forgot about
snipers and shrapnel
and jumped up to the nearest
vantage point to get a look.
I can remember...
seeing the figure of a man...
sitting on the propeller.
She went down in about
15 minutes.
After the Triumph
was torpedoed,
the Royal Navy left us
with just a destroyer
and trawlers for support.
We were short of so much.
Simple things like towels.
I wrote to my parents
and explained the situation.
Sometimes they passed the
letters on to the local paper.
There was censorship,
so I couldn't say
everything I wanted to,
but I felt there were things
the public needed to know.
Every morning there were
figures lining the stern.
I was anxious to be...
to be reunited with my company.
We just kept suffering losses.
I felt it was my duty
to get better.
So I volunteered to go back
and was passed fit.
After five weeks under fire,
we all felt 10 years older.
I think you could say
I was feeling
pretty homesick.
On mail day,
everything went quiet.
And on a good day...
On a good day,
when I got a good letter
for a little while,
I was back in New Zealand.
A letter from
loved ones could...
take you home
and away from...
the dust and the shrapnel.
I could spend a whole afternoon
just poring over them.
I got a letter from home
telling me my brother Martin
was on his way.
They said he was
in the best of spirits,
looking forward
to getting there.
I was sorry to hear it.
Seventeen's too young.
Wait, wait, wait.
Always on the alert,
But, you know, it's funny,
a dangerous life isn't
necessarily an exciting one.
There were bombs coming
over all night
and most of the day.
And rumors,
endless rumors,
that we were going to atack.
Anything for a change.
The heat was terribly trying.
Sometimes I felt
I'd melt.
The heat brought
the flies in swarms.
They crawled over the bodies,
then the latrines,
and onto the food.
The food was...
It was almost intolerable.
I'll tell you what, thought.
I made a first-rate stew
out of bully beef,
biscuits and Oxo.
Almost made that bully
worth eating.
Disease began to spread.
Dusentery, especially,
gave us a lot of trouble.
Disease was becoming more
deadly than the bullets.
I received dozens of letters,
sometimes from
complete strangers.
They'd ask about their sons,
you know?
Just wanted to get in touch
with anyone...
who might have been
near their dear one.
In earlu June I heard from some
mates that Martin had arrived.
I was in chage of my section,
and got him posted
to my company.
I wanted to have a go at him.
I didn't.
I just...
tried to keep him
out of trouble.
Shells are funny things.
You never quite knew where they were
going or what they were going to do.
"My dearest Ethel and girls,
Here we are at the
longest day of the year
and therefore
the height of summer
and still we linger on the beach
at ANZAC. The great move in..."
One day...
Paddy was struck by shrapnel,
and the poor little chap
was killed.
That dog's demise
caused more concern
than the death of many men.
We were moved to Quinn's Post,
a ridge about a mile inland.
Quinn's was a network
of tunnels and trenches.
At Quinn's, the slaughter
never stopped.
It was the closest point
to the Turks.
Martin wanted
in to the firing line.
He kept pestering me.
It annoyed me.
I just didn't want him to go
through what I'd been through.
I took him on a tour...
to show him
all there was to see.
I hoped it would sicken him.
The hardest thing
was expecting to be hit.
Constantly expecting it, yeah.
Always wondering where
and how you'd get hit.
One of may men
started seeing things.
Gallipoli was no place
for a nervous man.
Sometimes the suffering
was so intense,
death seemed like
the best way out.
One day,
I collected wild flowers.
And they were really
very pretty.
I pressed them, and I sent them
home to my wife and daughters.
We knew that by then
news was getting out
about our losses,
and I could just imagine the
many sad homes in New Zealand.
I had this picture of my mother
standing by our door
in Mount Eden.
That got me thinking about
what it would mean
to my own family
if I were killed.
All they had to keep
them going was the absence
of my name from
that casualty list.
We normally had at least
500 patients onboard,
but even thought I was busy,
I always tried
to talk to the men,
ask them
where they came from.
It was always a shock
when someone you knew
from home was brought onboard.
I remember seeing young
Tommy Arnott,
who I knew from Balmain.
He was badly wounded...
but delighted to see me.
I promissed to write
to his mother.
By early July I was sent
to a hospital ship.
I was suffering
from gastreinteritis.
Ugh, like so many other men.
I could see our tiny holding.
Twenty five thousand men...
penned in.
We'd heard that there were over
150,000 Turks opposing us.
It was a bad business.
But we heard there'd be
something afoot very soon.
GHQ were finally beginning
to think
that the best way to
tackle the Turk
was by a major assault.
We were headed for Chunuk Bair,
the high point
on the Sari Bair Ridge.
To distract the enemy's
the Australians would attack
at Lone Pine and the Nek.
By holding Chunul Bair,
we could dominate
the whole peninsula.
At the same time, north,
in Suvla Bay,
over 20,000 British troops
would be landed.
The plan was for them to swoop in
on the flank of the New Zealanders,
and complete the great victory.
We often had concerts.
But the one before
the big push felt special.
#Lead thou me on#
#The night is dark#
#And I am far from home#
#Lead thou me on#
#Keep thou my feet#
The men were different.
We were war-tired.
#I do not ask to see#
And we knew
that a lot of men would die.
But we weren't afraid.
#One step enough#
#For me#
By that stage we felt
honored to be ANZACs.
#Meantime along
The narrow, rugged path#
#Thyself hast trod#
#Lead, savior, lead me home
In childlike faith#
#Home to my God#
#To rest forever...#
Before the big offensive,
I got myself transferred
to a different platoon,
away from my brother.
I just didn't want to be
with him on the firing line.
I couldn't protect him anymore.
#In the calm light#
#Of everlasting life#
I remember a Taube plane
coming over to spy
on our positions.
Its engines cut out when
it was above us,
and then it glided inland.
The air was electric.
It was tense.
We were each given
a piece of white calico
to sew on to our arms
and back,
so we didn't bayonet
one of our own in the dark.
We had a gill of run
with breakfast that day.
The distance was just a little
over 3 miles...
but we were continually
held up.
And it wasn't really a march,
because we'd move
and then we'd wait,
and then we'd move
and we'd wait.
It was very quiet.
The suspense was awful.
At one stage during the night,
a Maori unit took
a Turkish position...
And they did a Haka.
I watched the New Zealand
Infantry file past me.
Everyone was sick.
Better off in a hospital
than on the battlefield.
I mean,
when you're weighed down
with ammunition and...
weak, as we were,
nothing is harder
than marching at night.
We were behind schedule.
At one point it took us
two hours
to go just a few hundreds yards.
We were never going to attack
Chunuk Bair before dawn,
which was the plan.
I was sent to the Nek,
a ridge just south
of Chunuk Bair.
Where the Australians attacked.
They went over the top
in four waves.
Four hundred
and fifty of them.
Nearly every single one
of them was cut down
before he even got over
the parapet.
It was a death zone.
They called our boys
die-hard Australians.
And I can tell you
they did die hard.
Unless you saw it,
you couldn't understand
how hard it was.
The Royal Navy returned to
support the August offensive.
We could see troop ships
anchored in Suvla Bay.
The English reinforcements
had landed.
In full light we'd lost
the element of surprise.
Despite this,
the Auckland Battalion was ordered
to attack the crest of Chunuk Bair.
It was 11 o'clock when we
made the first charge.
#Sing ne to sleep, dear#
#And I'll sleep right through
Both men beside me
were shot dead.
#Sing a tune I can dream to#
#A tune I might remember#
#Trouble creeping up on me#
#Its heart breath
On my shoulder#
#Sing me to sleep, dear#
The company was...
cut up.
To be honest, I find it very
difficult to talk about.
#And now the summer sun
Is blinding me#
#And the way ahead
Is frightening me#
#And this I know
Is grinding me#
#Down to nothing#
We were waiting
to charge Chunuk Bair.
I didn't expect to get
through this time.
I worried about Martin.
It was his first real battle.
We were 500 yards below
Chunuk Bair.
We fixed bayonets.
Then we got the order
to advance.
We walked at a steady pace
for about 500 yards.
The Aucklanders had been
mown down before us, so...
we were expecting
a hot time of it.
And nothing happened.
We all but walked...
to the top of that hill.
It was just breaking day
when we took Chunuk Bair.
The Wellington Battalion took
Chunuk Bair on the 8th of August.
From the ridge,
they could see the Dardanelles.
Victory seemed possible.
We looked over the other side and we
could see all the way to the strait.
There was no time
to take in views.
The Turks,
they counter-attacked,
an we had to dig in.
It was a rotten position
to hold.
We hung on like grim death.
It was a hot spot.
I never saw Martin up there,
but I knew his platoon
was on the hill.
At Suvla Bay, over 20,000
English troops
were meant to advance and support
the fighting up on Chunuk Bair.
But they didn't,
and our men died up there.
I as standing, fighting,
when I got one...
right through the neck.
The battle raged all afternoon.
My hand was aching
from working the bolt.
They were hard-swearing,
hard-living, rough men.
But they often surprised you.
When someone was wounded
or needed help,
nothing was too much trouble.
A man would give everything.
Anything he had.
Even if he was badly
wounded himself,
he'd tend to the man
next to him.
It was all for your mates.
During the offensive,
we made two trips
to land hospitals
and transported
over a thousand men.
Quite a few men I knew
had been killed.
I was still on a hospital ship
during the offensive.
I heard via wireless report
that we'd been held up.
I knew that meant it must have
been a black week.
The New Zealanders held on
at Chunuk Bair for two days.
On the night of the 9th,
what was left of the New Zealand
force was withdrawn,
and English battalions took over.
On the morning of the 10th,
I saw the Turkish charge.
The English were completely
They broke and fled.
Chunuk Bair was lost.
Twelve thousand men
dead and wounded.
Gallipoli was nothing more
than a butcher's shop.
The bullet punctured
my windpipe.
I couldn't speak.
I walked around the hospital...
There was no word about Martin.
It was a wretched experience.
Lord alone knows
how I survived.
I read in the weeklies that
the British took Chunuk Bair.
Jezz, that made me angry.
Not on your life.
When I returned to Gallipoli,
I thought I'd slot back
into ANZAC life.
But my illness knocked the stuffing
out of me and I caved in.
I was...
I was evacuated to England.
By September I was very tired,
and I volunteered to accompany
the invalided boys
back home to Australia.
I knew an awful lot
about was by then.
Seemed impossible to think
anyone could escape.
The days got shorter.
It got bleak and cold.
I thought I'd freeze to death.
By the time
breakfast was over,
the tea was frozen
in the canteens.
I never want to be
that cold again.
More than 200 men died
from the cold.
There were over 10,000
casualties from frostbite.
On the 13th of November
Field Marshal
the Earl Kitchener arrived.
This man is only
one rank below God.
The English donned their uniforms,
and fell in at attention.
The New Zealanders
and the Australians
came just as they were.
There was no disrespect,
but no one saluted.
On the 7th of December
the British Cabinet decided
it was time to evacuate ANZAC.
In the days leading up to the
withdrawal, we deceived the enemy.
Troops were taken off.
We set up self-firing rifles.
Goods were removed or destroyed.
The final stage
of the evacuation
started on the morning
of the 19th of December,
almost eight months
after we arrived.
42 thousand men were withdrawn
over those last few days.
It was decided that there'd be
a party of 53 remained behind
until everyone else was off.
Because I'd been one
of the first to arrive,
I wanted to be one
of the last to leave.
So I volunteered
for that party.
At 9 p.m. on the 19th
I said goodbye
to the covering party.
None of those volunteers
expected to live,
and thats's...
that's real heroism.
I left from a little pier
below Walker's Ridge.
When I left,
I felt ashamed.
It was like the eyes
of the dead were on us.
I'm not a brave man,
but I remember feeling
I would rather attack head on,
and face the chance of death
with honor...
than to do that bitter thing.
The one consolation
was that we knew
that those Australasian troops
had done everything and more
that men could do.
Poor New Zealand and Australia.
Everything as...
so mismanaged.
It was time to demand
a colonial voice
and a leader of our own.
I was sent up
before a board of doctors
and they asked me if
I'd like to go to England.
I said New Zealand would do me.