Chunuk Bair is a 'landmark event in New Zealand’s military history'

Victoria Cross winner Cyril Bassett, who fought at Chunuk Bair.
Peter Meecham

Victoria Cross winner Cyril Bassett, who fought at Chunuk Bair.

The Battle for Chunuk Bair was the New Zealand Expeditionary Force's most significant action in the Gallipoli Campaign.

It was part of the August offensive, in which the Allies attempted to seize the Sari Bair heights from Turkish forces. The Wellington Battalion took Chunuk Bair on August 8 1915, but it, and other New Zealand units involved, suffered very heavy losses – there were over 2500 casualties, including some 876 killed between August 6-10. Of these, 849 are named on the New Zealand Memorial at Chunk Bair. Chunuk Bair was eventually lost on August 10 after repeated enemy counter-attacks.

Chunuk Bair is a landmark event in New Zealand's military history, especially for the Army. Every member of the New Zealand Defence Force is aware of its iconic place in the New Zealand story, and is proud of those who served there.

It was at Chunuk Bair that New Zealand's only Victoria Cross of the Gallipoli Campaign was awarded, to Corporal Cyril Bassett. It was at Chunuk Bair that Maori went into battle under the New Zealand flag for the first time, as a contingent which evolved into the famous Maori Battalion.

The qualities of those who gave their lives or were wounded there, and all who served there, are those which today we strive to emulate, and which are embodied in the core values of the modern New Zealand Defence Force: Courage, Commitment and Comradeship.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Craig Foss said a service at Chunuk Bair next week would be open to all and was not ticketed.

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