After the Turks’ failed general attack on 19 May, over three thousand corpses lay directly in front of the Anzac trenches. In the hot sun the dead presented a real sanitary risk and the calling of the wounded was unbearable. An impromptu truce broke out, enabling Red Crescent stretcher bearers to emerge into no-man’s-land and take the wounded back to the Turkish lines. A few burials also took place.
On 20 May a message authorised by General Birdwood was given to a Turkish officer proposing negotiations for a formal armistice to bury the dead of both sides. With Liman von Sanders’s approval, this led to a top-level conference on 22 May in Birdwood’s dugout at Anzac Cove, attended by Hamilton’s Chief of Staff, Major General Braithwaite, and Mustafa Kemal, commander of the 19th Division at Anzac.
It was strained, each side suspecting the other of treachery. There was a sublime moment, however, when an Australian soldier poked his head round the entrance flap and asked: ‘Have any of you bastards got my kettle?’
Next entry: 22 May 1915