Chunuk Bair - a century on

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

Today 100 years ago in Valetine Irwin's grandfather William Irwin fought in the capture of Chunuk Bair.

"They went because they believed that we were worth it, that we worth it and that NZ was worth it, so when I drive around in my flash car and sit here in the sun in at the cenotaph I say thank you," says an emotional Irwin.

For him today is not only about the men, it's about the strength of character shown by the women left at home.

"I think the wives of New Zealand paid the greatest sacrifice while waiting for their men. I pay tribute to my Mum and to all of those women who survived the men and the children and today is all about them too."

A sentiment echoed by Pōtene Lima, the chairman of the Hawke's Bay Veterans Association, "It must've been terribly hard on our women but again our women were just as resilient as our men folk and they were just as hard and they stood up to it."

The capture of Chunuk Bair on the Gallipoli peninsula would give us the allied forces a tactical advantage over the Turkish troops, but it came at a massive cost, only 70 of the 760 that went up came away unscathed.

A sacrifice acknowledged by young cadet, Lennox Winitana, "It's important because they who died 100 eyars ago are the people that gave us our freedom I don't know if I'd be here today, but I feel proud."

In the end Chunuk Bair was lost after two days of holding it, a battle where the soldiers and their bravery will not be forgotten.