John William Donovan was a dairyman from Gerringong, born in 1893. His mother Eliza saw his boy enlist at Liverpool on 5 February 1915.
Private Donovan was a member of the 18th Australian Infantry Battalion which arrived at Gallipoli in August 1915.
The Battle of Hill 60 was the last major assault of the Battle of Gallipoli. Hill 60 was a low knoll at the northern end of the Sari Bair range which dominated the Suvla landing. Capturing this hill along with Scimitar Hill would have allowed the Anzac and Suvla landings to be securely linked.
On the afternoon of 21 August the first assault was made by Australians of the 13th and 14th Battalions together with the 5th Battalion of the Connaught Rangers. With no effective artillery support, under fire from Hill 60 and neighbouring Hill 100, the infantry were decimated. The undergrowth caught fire, burning to death many of the wounded. By nightfall the Indian Brigade had managed a foothold at the base of the hill.
On 22 August the attack was reinforced by the Australian 18th Battalion, of which Private Donovan was a member. The men were fresh and healthy, in stark contrast to the veteran troops, but were inexperienced and ill-equipped, even by Gallipoli standards. Attacking with bayonet only, they suffered 383 casualties in their first attack. [Taken from Wikipedia, “Battle of Hill 60 (Gallipoli)]. According to reports, Private Donovan was killed on the extreme left of this charge. One witness, who was only a few yards away, states that Private Donovan stood up on the parapet to get a better aim, and was killed instantaneously.
According to an informant, “Burglar Miles”, on 24 August, 1915, Private Donovan was seen lying dead near Suvla Bay, having been shot in the head. The back of his head had been shot away. There is no evidence of burial. Private Donovan does have a panel at Lone Pine Memorial, no.61., as well as the Soldiers Memorial Hall in Gerringong.