One of New Zealand's epic stands on the Gallipoli peninsula was in the heat of August 1915 at Chunuk Bair, one of the three high points on the Sari Bair range. These were the main objectives of the Anzacs' offensive of early August 1915 when they tried to break out of the stalemate with the Turks in the Anzac sector.
The New Zealand Infantry Brigade advanced up Chailak Dere and Sazli Beit Dere during the night of 6-7 August to capture Chunuk Bair. Earlier, their way had been opened by the New Zealand mounted rifles units and the Maori Contingent, which had captured key points (including Old No 3 Outpost and Table Top) guarding the valleys in daring night assaults.
The attack had fallen behind schedule and the New Zealanders were still a kilometre short of the summit when dawn broke on 7 August, sheltering at a position below Rhododendron Ridge that would become known as The Apex.
In a mid-morning attack the Auckland Battalion suffered heavy casualties to reach the Pinnacle, 200 m from the summit. When ordered to follow suit, the Wellington Battalion's commander Lieutenant-Colonel William Malone refused to sacrifice his men in a futile attempt, insisting that the attack be mounted that night.
In the pre-dawn darkness of 8 August the Wellington swiftly moved up Rhododendron Ridge on to the summit, which almost inexplicably had been abandoned by its Turkish defenders. When the sun rose, Malone and his men, assisted by some Auckland mounted riflemen and British troops who also reached the summit, engaged in a desperate struggle to hold off the Turks.
The Otago Battalion and Wellington Mounted Rifles relieved the Wellingtons during the night of 8-9 August only to endure a similar ordeal all through the long summer day. They, too, were relieved during the night of 9-10 August by two British battalions, which almost immediately succumbed to a massive counterattack launched by the Turkish commander, Mustafa Kemal.
The summit was lost, but the New Zealanders stemmed the Turkish flood down the seaward slopes of the hill. The Apex was held until the end of the campaign.