INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT ‘LONE PINE’
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.