IN­TER­EST­ING FACTS ABOUT ‘LONE PINE’

Muscat Daily - - BREAK -

Many war memo­ri­als across Aus­tralia have pine trees grow­ing in their grounds. Th­ese trees are called Lone Pines, and their an­ces­try can be traced back to a sin­gle pine tree that stood where one of the blood­i­est bat­tles of the Gal­lipoli cam­paign took place.

The Bat­tle of the Lone Pine was fought around an area called An­zac Cove, on a rise known as Plateau 400, in Gal­lipoli, in Turkey. It was year 1915 and the First World War was in full force. The Al­lied of­fen­sive against the Ot­toman Em­pire in Gal­lipoli wasn’t go­ing on very well, and so they de­cided to create a di­ver­sion at An­zac to draw the Ot­toman at­ten­tion away from the main as­saults at Sari Bair, Chunuk Bair and Hill 971.

On Au­gust 6, 1915, two days be­fore the planned at­tack on Chunuk Bair, the first Aus­tralian In­fantry Di­vi­sion launched a ma­jor of­fen­sive at Plateau 400 in An­zac Cove. The ridges join­ing the plateau were once cov­ered with a large num­ber of pine trees, which the Turk­ish forces cut down to for­tify their trenches. Only a soli­tary pine tree was left stand­ing, but not for long. In the bat­tle that fol­lowed, the re­main­ing tree was blown to pieces.

It took Aus­tralian forces only 20 min­utes to break through the Turk­ish de­fence, but the bat­tle raged for the next four days. Af­ter the fight­ing stopped, some Aus­tralian sol­diers re­trieved sev­eral pine cones from cut branches that the Turks had used to cover their trenches, and brought them home to Aus­tralia. Sergeant Keith McDow­ell of the 23rd Bat­tal­ion is be­lieved to have sal­vaged a cone from the re­mains of the ac­tual Lone Pine Tree. He car­ried the cone in his ruck­sack as a me­mento for the du­ra­tion of the war, and on his re­turn to Aus­tralia, he gave it to his aunt Emma Gray near War­rnam­bool, Vic­to­ria.

Many years later, Emma Gray planted the cone and four seedlings sprouted, which were re­planted in four dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions around Vic­to­ria.

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