On January 1st, 1915 the A.I.F.adopted the double company system used by the British Army. The companies thus were combined as following: New Company A = Co A + Co C, New Company B = Co B + Co D, New Company C = Co E + Co F, and the New Company D = Co G + Co H.
The men were surprised at the amount of vegetation around the Nile as were they by the primitive state of the locals and there hovels. They soon learned not to trust the locals as "they would take advantage of the men to the last penny".
During the Months of January and February the 12th BN trained around a rocky hill called the Tigers Tooth . They also had a regular routine of morning parades, mid day meal, then more training till 5pm.
Often, when they had a chance the men would sneak away to Cairo for better tucker or be seen climbing the Pyramids (only 1 1/2 miles from there Camp at Mena). The favorite meal in Cairo was rosette chicken and a Salad. While at Camp they ate fresh bread, Jam, and Meat. They learned quickly that sand found its way into every meal weather they liked it or not.
Company B even had a "Tasmanian Devil" as the regimental pet.
By March 4th the Regiment moved to the island of Lem in advance of the invasion planned at Gallipolli. They all were in very high sprits and thought that "Jonny Turk stood not a chance against the fine men of Australia"
Once the men hit the shore it can be said "that the doings of the 12th BN for the first day on Gallipoli resolves itself into personal reminiscences of small bodies of troops. The nature of the country prevented any combine movement, and the battalion after landing, advanced inland in small parties led by officers for some considerable distance".
With that said, this page is only going to cover what happened to Co A during its first real trial by fire on the shores of Gallipoli.
Company A left Lem on the Destroyer HMS "Ribble" on April 24th for the shores of Anzac Cove. By 4:30 am the destroyer moved to within 100 yards of shore were the men then bordered smaller boats for the final dash to shore. At this time the destroyer started to take small arms fire from the shore. A steam pinnace then took the 6 boats of the company to within 50 yards of the shore before the men rowed the final distance.
Co A and the battalion HQ landed on the extreme north of the whole divisional front at the foot of "the sphinx". As soon as the made it ashore they came under direct MG fire from the lower slopes of walker's ridge. Colonel Clarke urged the men forward some 50 to 60 yards with LT's Margetts, Patterson, and Rafferty.
Click Here for an Animated Version of Company A first day at Gallipolli.
As the group neared the foot of the cliff, the MG poured fire into the unit. Colonel Clarke thus ordered LT. Rafferty to take a platoon to silence the troubling gun emplacement.
By now it was daylight and the and the Company found itself in thick scrub and climbing hand over hand up the steep hill. At the top of the plato the men saw the first Turks and advanced in skirmish order.
About the same time Major Elliot reaches the Company and joins the group. The men soon find an recent abandon Turkish trench with the Turkish soldiers retiring some 600 to 700 yards away (at about Hill "Baby 700").
Colonel Clarke stops the Company to send a report to divisional HQ and is is shot through the head by a Turkish sniper. Major Elliot is then wounded as he tries to help Clarke. That leaves LT. Patterson and Margetts with about 50 men. They send out two scouts that report back that slopes of Hill "Baby 700" is clear of the enemy.As the Company prepares to move out, Captain Tulloch (11th BN) with some of his company arrive and takes charge. Captain Tulloch moves forward while he orders Co A to dig in around the "Nek".
After a short rest, Major Roberston (9th BN) joins the Company and they advance over the top of "Baby 700". They pass dead Turks and start to take heavy rifle fire from the northern slopes of the Hill. LT. Margett's finds a communication trench on the slopes of "Battleship Hill" some 700 to 800 yards away, in which heavy Turkish are moving towards them. Directing the Companies Fire on the Trench, the stop the attack but are soon forced to retreat back to the slopes of "Baby 700".
The12th BN Brigadier see's the retreat and orders Co A with one Company from the 1st BN and one from the 9th BN to rush the the Hill's (Baby 700) forward slope. The Hill is retaken then lost, with a New Zealand unit joining in the struggle. It continues to be a grinder of men for the rest of the day, with LT. Margett's eventually heading back down the beach to get more ammo. On the way he finds LT. Patterson with 20 men. Patterson leads the men in a desperate counter charge and he and his unit are lost pushing the Turks back.
The Fight for Baby 700 takes another leader as Captain Lalor rallied his men and waving his arms forward cried "Come on, the 12th!" and is shot dead.
Company A at this time ceased to exist as far as a fighting unit with its men scattered with the other units fighting besides them.
Out of the 31 officers and 970 men of the 12th BN who started the day on the Destroyers, Only 8 officers and 472 O.R. report for Roll Call on the Next day.