Four successive waves of Australian Light Horsemen were ordered to leave the safety of their trenches to attack the Turkish lines only 20-30 metres away. They weren’t allowed to load their weapons but were ordered to charge with bayonets only. They were wiped out by Turkish fire almost as soon as they started.
Even though the outcome was clear after the failure of the first wave, their commanding officer refused to back down and sent three more waves, 150 men in each wave, to certain death.
The battlefield has been described as being the size of two tennis courts and was a narrow strip of land between two steep drops. Official war historian Charles Bean likened the charge as trying to attack an upturned frying pan by way of the handle.
Lieutenant Colonel Noel Brazier tried to put a stop to the inevitable slaughter after the first wave, but his attempt was rejected by Major General Antill who ordered the attack’s continuation. Brazier had been responsible for the recruitment of many of the men who were being sent to their deaths, having encouraged many friends and colleagues to enlist in the 10th Light Horse.
Despite the horrific slaughter, a few survived and were able to crawl back to the safety of their own trenches. Later in the war some of the surviving Light Horsemen were posted to Palestine where they were at last able to serve on horseback, something impossible at Gallipoli. In Palestine they were part of some significant victories and eventually entered Jerusalem along with General Allenby, when the city was surrendered by the Turkish forces.