By May the initial attempt to capture the Dardanelles by the navy and take over Istanbul had failed. The Australians and New Zealanders on foot had a well-established line and the British at Helles were clinging to the small gains they had made. As the Anzacs worked to strengthen their position, the Turkish commanders were planning an attack to drive them back into the sea.
On May 18 approximately 42,000 Turkish troops gathered in the east for an attack. An observation plane with the Royal Naval air services spotted them and alerted the authorities. By 3am on May 19 the Anzac trenches were awake and fully manned with troops in expectation for the attack.
In the cover of darkness in the early hours of May 19 Turkish soldiers ran in waves for the Anzac trenches which held around 12,500 troops. Although the Anzacs were outnumbered almost four to one the Turks had no covering force and faced with concentrated fire, fell in heaps. Anzacs were climbing out on to the parapets and firing as fast as they could at the enemy. History says the woodwork of the Anzac rifles became too hot to touch from the continuous rounds of rifle fire.
The attack continued for six hours with Turkish soldiers dying in droves. By mid-morning it was all over and an estimated 3,000 Turks lay dead in no man's land with a further 7,000 wounded. The Anzacs losses were around 160, with 600 wounded.
The bodies of the soldiers lay out in the sun until the authorities called a truce to bury the dead on May 24.