Lone Pine – Shrine Reserve
The Gallipoli Pine or Lone Pine Pinus brutia commonly known as Aleppo Pine was planted in the Shrine Reserve in 1933. This tree was grown from seed collected by a soldier Sgt. Keith Mc Dowell who picked up a cone from the Lone Pine on the Gallipoli Peninsula in 1915.
Lone Pine or Plateau 400 was the scene of some of the fiercest hand to hand combat by Australians in World War 1. The Plateau was distinguished by a solitary pine that bore silent witness to the heroism and tenacity of the Australians who fought there.
At 5.30 pm on August 6, 1915, Australians of the First Brigade attacked the Turkish trenches under heavy machine-gun and artillery fire. The Australians found the trenches were roofed over with pine logs covered with earth.
They clawed the roofing back and jumped into the trenches below. After savage hand-to-hand fighting the trenches were taken by 6pm. Attack and counter attack continued until August 10, when fighting at Lone Pine ceased, and the position was firmly held in Australian hands.
The six Australian Battalions involved lost 80 officers and 2197 men in the battle for Lone Pine. Turkish deaths were estimated at between 5,000 and 6,000. The battle had taken place in an area the size of two soccer fields. Seven of the nine Victoria Crosses awarded to Australians at Gallipoli were won at this battle.
The Lone Pine was destroyed in the fighting.
Sgt Keith McDowell of the 24th Battalion carried a pinecone in his haversack until the end of the war. Upon returning home to Australia he gave it to his Aunt Mrs Emma Gray, who lived at Grassmere near Warrnambool Victoria. “Here Aunty, you’ve got a green thumb, see if you can grow something out of this,” the late Mrs Gray’s son, Alexander recalled. A decade or so later Mrs Gray planted the seeds and four seedlings were grown. One was planted in May 1933 in Wattle Park, Melbourne. Another at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne and another at the Soldiers Memorial Hall at The Sisters. The last was planted in the Warrnambool Gardens.
The Shrine Reserve tree was planted with full military honours on June 11 1933 by Lieutenant- General Sir Stanley Savige KBE, CB, DSO, MC, ED who founded Melbourne Legacy in 1923.
Seedlings have been grown from the Gallipoli ‘Lone Pine’ under the direction of Melbourne Legacy’s Commemoration Committee which is responsible for the collection, propagation, presentation and dedication of Lone Pines from the 24th Battalion tree at the Shrine of Rememberance.
If you are interested in further information on Lone Pine Trees please contact the Public Relations Officer of Melbourne Legacy on 9663 3564.