With Turkey’s entry into the war in 1914, the allies were forced to fight on new sea fronts, including the strategically important Dardanelles in the Aegean. After the allied naval attack had failed to secure control of ‘the narrows’ separating the Dardanelles from the Sea of Marmara, the next major offensive was a ground attack on the Gallipoli peninsula. 70,000 troops were amassed including the Anzac forces who were the first to arrive, many from P&O’s DEVANHA carrying the 12th Australian Batallion.
As dawn broke on 25th April 1915, the troops were towed ashore in lifeboats to land at what quickly became known as Anzac Cove, and some way short of the intended landing place. 'The boats missed their bearing' and it proved to be a costly mistake. On the first day alone over 2,000 men lost their lives and little ground was won.
Her troops disembarked, DEVANHA had steamed away from the coast to create a diversionary target for Turkish firepower. Two days later she returned having been hurriedly converted into a hospital ship to ferry the wounded between the Peninsula, Alexandria and Malta. For eight months the troops fought on and DEVANHA went back and forth transporting the wounded. Defeat and retreat, when it came in December 1915, was gradual and mercifully conducted without loss.