TOMMTommy is a 5th year student attending Bandon Grammer School and was the successful entrant to our Essay competition based on WW1

Introduction I

Being Australian, and being asked to write a project on WW1, there is only one natural choice for me. If you ask an Englishman to name a battle, it will almost certainly be Waterloo or Trafalgar; if you ask a Frenchman, it will be Verdun; for Australians it is Gallipoli. No Australian can think about war and not conjure up images of dirty, weary Anzacs (members of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) fighting up hot, dusty slopes to reach the Turks above. Many Australians with only a little interest in history or the First World War could tell you of the successive waves of young Australians being mown down at the Nek, much the same as the 'Pals Battalions' were mown down at the mercy of the German machine guns at the Somme almost a year later, while the English sat at Suvla Bay 'drinking tea'.
As I am a history student, who also happens to have a long family history of military involvement, as well as being born in Australia, I could have told you a thing or two about Gallipoli; why it was important when the campaign took place, and why it ultimately failed. But in doing this project I came to realise how limited my knowledge of Gallipoli actually was; diving into the realms of J A Hammerton's 'A Pictured History of World War' and Alan Moorehead's 'Gallipoli' to discover the many overlaying complex factors for the campaigns, reasons as much for the sake of politics as for militaristic value, which I will try to simplify, condense and explain in the next chapter.
I must also mention this project is about the Land Campaigns on the Peninsula, and whilst the contribution the Navy provided was considerable, from the first attempted rushing of the Narrows to the final evacuation of the positions on Cape Helles, to include details of their operations as well, other than those which directly involved the land force, would double the size of this project and majorly over-complicate matters, and so I have decided to leave it out. I am not trying to play down in any way the contribution of the navy in the slightest, in fact without the level of support they provided the campaigns would have been almost impossible to implement. I have merely decided, for the sake of simplicity and shortness to stick to the land campaign.


LAND CAMPAIGN
The land campaigns in Gallipoli cannot be summed up in one or two sentences. They cannot even be contributed to one or two factors - the campaigns would have gains both of political and militaristic value and in either way would allow the Allies to further support each other and contribute to the war effort.
First of all we must understand Turkey's position, both in world politics and on the map. Turkey was, at the time, a relatively new country. After deposing the Sultan and breaking up the centuries old Ottoman Empire, the Young Turks, as the new liberal democratic Turkish leaders were known, had been beset by internal troubles and failed ventures into the Balkans and this had considerably weakened their position, making them open to international persuasion and manipulation. This, the Germans had taken advantage of, and the German military mission had done much to infiltrate the Turkish military and even a new modern battleship, the Goeben, was supplied to the Turkish navy to supplement her aging fleet. They had also done much to have a sway on Turkish politics, and thus it was in early 1914 that Turkish politicians secretly decided, IF they were to go to war, it would be with the Germans.
Now we must look at its position on the map. At the NE corner of the Mediterranean Sea, near to Greece and beneath the Balkan states is where Turkey lies. This was important, as at the outbreak of war both Greece to its west and Bulgaria to its north were neutral countries, and Turkey joining the war on the German side would greatly influence the decisions of both of these two countries, not only as regards their neutrality but also what side they would join on the war on. Also, Turkish divisions could threaten the Suez Canal which would have been a great hindrance to the British war effort. But the main geographical reason was Russia. Turkey controlled the Dardanelles Narrows, the only channel through which the Allies could reach the Black Sea ports and supply Russia with the arms and ammunition she sorely needed to continue the war. In return they had access to Russia's abundant supplies of grain which would soon be needed to feed the western Allies. Other ports, such as Archangel in the north, froze over in winter, the Germans were sure to blockade the Baltic and Vladivostok lay a 5,000 mile train journey from Moscow, a journey which would have to be made up coming back again by sea. So perilous was the situation that the Allies of Britain, France and Russia guaranteed Turkey immunity from attack if they remained neutral. But this was forgotten when Turkey entered the war in early November 1914 with the Central Powers. This immediately put pressure on the Allies; Turkish troops could, and were already, moving to threaten both the Suez Canal and the Caucasus in Southern Russia, which provided much of Russian's grain. It was obvious moves against Turkey would need to be taken. Further bad news was to come. In the last few days of the year, the Russian's requested "a demonstration of some kind against the Turks, as to cause (the) Turks to withdraw some of the forces now acting against the Russians in the Caucasus". Now action would need to be taken without a doubt. It was only 4 months after the start of the war and Russia was said to have lost 1 million men. However, Field Marshal Earl Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War and supreme commander of the British and Commonwealth Forces, stressed repeatedly that no troops could be spared, especially from France, and the expedition would have to be a strictly naval affair. The Dardanelles was the main point of interest in Turkey, and so was chosen for the attack. A straight rushing through the Dardanelles was ruled out - the many forts and batteries would smash the fleet as it sailed through, as well as having mines and the Turkish Fleet to contend with. Instead plans for a slow progression by systematically destroying the forts one by one were drawn up. This attack was agreed upon, despite misgivings from Lord Fisher, the First Sea Lord, and was set to commence on Feb 19th. However, after the first day it was postponed due to a break in the weather. It cleared, the channel was swept for mines and the attack proper commenced on March 18th - the only difference being that the forts were to be taken on by direct fire instead of distant bombardment. The attack went ahead, the details of which are of no particular concern. However, a French battleship, the Bouvet was sunk, the Inflexible badly damaged and both the Irresistible and Ocean lost, all in one day. The navy ships retired at nightfall and the attack never taken up again. The misgivings
that Lord Fisher had had earlier in the
year were again felt and talks for landing troops to supplement the naval attack commenced. And so we find ourselves directly on the doorstep of the invasion of the Gallipoli peninsular, and a venture which had cost 3 battleships, 61 British and 534 French lives was about to claim over a hundred thousand more.



Ever since the early days in the planning of the attack on the Dardanelles, many decisions were being made as regards to a land force being sent there. But time and time again, Kitchener said no. He could not spare the men. After the early stages of the war the War Council soon realised this was not going to be the short war everyone had envisaged. They changed tack completely and it was generally agreed upon that this was to be a war of attrition, and the only way to win it was to slowly grind down the opposing forces until there was nothing left, then march straight into Germany. This indeed had been Kitchener's plan; he was planning to hold his volunteer army back in England and train them until such a time that the combined forces of the Allies, mainly France and Russia, had rendered the Germans fit for defeat, and then commit this new force, achieve the ever distant breakthrough and win the war in one fell swoop. However, the pressures Russia and France were facing in late 1915 and early 1916 meant Kitchener had to commit this force far earlier than he would have liked, in the summer of 1916 at the Battle of the Somme, but that is another story.
As it was, in early 1915 there was one unit still in Britain which could have been used in the Dardanelles, the fully equipped, up to strength, regular army unit of the 29th Division. But it was not as simple as putting the men on ships and sending them to the Mediterranean. All through-out the corps commanders were requesting more units and more men and all of them had their eye on the 29th Division back in Britain. Indeed, it is a wonder why it had not yet been committed to France. It had not, and after a meeting held on the 16th of February 1915, it was decided to send this force to the Mediterranean and possibly add to it some of the Australian and New Zealand troops already in Egypt. However, when news of this got out, Commanders all along the Western Front sent Kitchener reports of massed German reinforcements and that an attack was imminent. Whether this was true or merely scare tactics by the Commanders to prevent this force being lost to them is unknown, but, faced with this evidence, Kitchener had no choice but to reverse his decision and on the 19th it was known Kitchener had ordered the 29th Division to be held in Britain though preparations for the other forces were to continue. But this attack never materialised and no other evidence was forthcoming. This, coupled with a report from General Sir William Birdwood, doubting a success in the Dardanelles without proper infantry support, meant that on March 10th, 3 weeks after the original decision to send the 29th Division to the Dardanelles, Kitchener at last gave orders for the force to set sail. But this was still before the great naval attack of the 18th and General Sir Ian Hamilton, who was appointed Commander of this force still had no idea what role his force was to play. The navy were still confident they could break through the Narrows on their own, in which case Hamilton's force would be used to occupy Constantinople, now called Istanbul, and then capital of the Ottoman Empire. If the navy failed or changed their minds about their abilities, his force could be landed on either or both sides of the Dardanelles. It was on the 22nd he had his answer; Admiral de Robeck, the man in command of the naval forces in the area announced at a meeting aboard the Queen Elizabeth that the attack of the 18th was not to be continued and he was going to wait for the support of the army before renewing his attack. Also, at the same meeting, it was decided to move the base of the attacks to Alexandria in Egypt instead of Lemnos, the extra distance to be travelled being more than compensated for by the improved facilities to be found in Alexandria.
The British weren't the only force to have thought up this idea. The Greeks had been thinking about it some months previously and their plan for landing at Cape Helles on the southern tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula was adopted, although with alterations. It was also an idea long held by Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, since before the war, and now he was at last to see it put in place. A force of 75,000 men would be used; 30,000 Australian and New Zealand troops (or Anzacs) divided into two divisions; the 17,000 men of the 29th British Division; one French division totalling 17,000 men and the Royal Naval Division, consisting of 10,000 men, as well as horses, donkey mules and vehicles for transport.
Hamilton's plan was thus: he would land his best troops, the 29th Division, on five small beaches at Cape Helles on the southern tip of the peninsula and by the end of Day One they were to have advanced to and captured the crest of Achi Baba, a height some 6 miles inland. At the same time the Anzacs would land 13 miles further up the western side of the peninsula on beaches between Gaba Tepe and Fisherman's Hut and were to advance directly inland, cutting off the Turks and preventing reinforcements from getting through and threatening the British position in the south. It was hoped by landing on multiple beaches through-out the area Liman Von Sanders, the German General in command of the Turkish Army, would be so confused as to what was happening and where that he would not send his reinforcements to the peninsula until he was entirely sure where they were most needed and in this time it was hoped to have got ashore a sizeable force. And just to confuse him further two diversions were to be carried out; one of which at Bulair at the base of the peninsula, which actually entered into the planning as a place for the main attack but was turned down as it was too heavily defended. Here the Royal Naval Division was to make a pretence of a landing in the hope of tying down its Turkish defenders. Another diversion was to be carried out by the French on Kum Kale on the other side of the Dardanelles. This diversion was not only to confuse the Turks as to where the main attack was taking place but also to prevent artillery on that side from firing on the landing beaches. Both the Royal Naval Division and the French were to join the 29th Division at Cape Helles after their diversions had been carried out.
The date was finally set; on the 23rd of April the fleet with its transports, cutters, trawlers, ferries and all sorts of other boats pressed into service for the landing were to set off from Lemnos and head for Gallipoli. They were to arrive in the early hours of the morning two days later. The troops were to transfer to the smaller boats which were to take them ashore, and at dawn on the 25th April the first boats were to touch down on the shores of Gallipoli.


The first of the attacks was to be carried out by the Anzac troops on the beach just north of Gaba Tepe. It was shortly after 2.00 a.m. that the Queen, Prince of Wales and London arrived at the rendezvous and the 1,500 Australians who were to make up the first wave were embarked on their small boats in which they were to make their landing. They were not allowed to smoke or talk and had to sit still, packed tightly in their little boats and hope they would not be spotted as they approached the shore. They carried with them their rifle, ammunition and pack, as well as 3 days worth of rations. The noise of the ships engines as they were towed towards the shore must have seemed deafening in the otherwise still, calm night.
One can easily imagine the sense of apprehension, not only among the men but among the officers and even the staff officers aboard the ships waiting out to sea. This is because no-one could be quite sure how the Australians would react once they hit the beaches. They were a hitherto unknown quality in the equation. The Australian army was young, and apart from South Africa at the turn of the century, Australian troops had seen very little action ever, and even in South Africa the troops had been sent out under their separate states, and not as a unified National Force. They had no traditions, no famous victories to remember nor defeats to avenge, and their battle cry "Imshi Yallah" was something they had picked up in Egypt. But these men were young. They were adventurous. And most importantly, they were volunteers, men with a fighting spirit and a taste for the unknown. And it was these men who were about to turn ANZAC from an acronym into a legend.
It was coming up to five o'clock and the men in their boats could see the cliff and mountains of the peninsula looming up ahead of them. Suddenly a warning flare shot up into the sky, instantly followed by spurts of rifle fire. The fire was sporadic and inaccurate but men squished up tightly in their boats were soon hit. Fifty yards out from the shore the boats grounded and the men leapt out and waded ashore. They were under orders to advance by bayonet and this they did, out of the water and up the shore, forming themselves into a rough line, and charging to the cry of "Imshi Yallah", and routed the Turkish defenders as they attacked.
This is where the first instance of a mishap in the attack appeared. The troops had been told they would advance over fairly even, slightly sloping land just behind the beach - instead they found a near vertical cliff. This unexpected barrier did little to unsettle the Australians, their blood was up and so through heavy fire up the cliff they went, grabbing at shrubs and boulders and desperately searching for footholds in the early morning dawn. Men who were hit or lost their footing fell back to the beach below but the Australian attack continued undeterred.
What had actually happened was this: as they approached the shore, the boats were swept northwards by an unchartered current and believing the pinnacle of rock in front of them to be Gaba Tepe they sailed towards it. They were, in fact, looking at the Sari Bair range, one of the highest points on the peninsula, and the area in which they landed was an unnamed cove about one mile north of their intended landing place of Gaba Tepe. But it was too late now, and as the Australians reached the top of the cliff and moved inland, more troops were landed in this small cove behind them and they too made their way to the top of the cliff and headed inland. By 7.30 that morning, 8,000 Australians were ashore; by 2 p.m. 12,000 men, a full Australian Division, were heading up the steep slopes.
But the Turks were fighting back. Mustafa Kemal Bay, the local Divisional Commander, had, by this time, arrived on the scene. At 6.30 a.m. he had been ordered to send a Battalion of troops to meet the attack at what was later to become known as Anzac Cove. Kemal marched with his men and this was something which was to mark out Kemal; he always led from the front. On more than one occasion he was be seen helping to wheel guns into position or personally deploying troops to meet an attack. Kemal and his men had been stationed in Boghali on the eastern side of the peninsula and his march northwards was slow going over the difficult ground. On gaining the crest at Sari Bair he ordered his men to rest and he himself went forward with a small party of officers to gain a better look at the situation. It was light now and he could spot the warships and the transports moving about the calm blue sea but the broken hills blocked his view of the landing site. On the slopes of Chunuk Bair he came upon a group of Turkish soldiers running towards him. He ordered them to halt, turn and fight the pursuing Australians he could see coming up the hill, while sending word back to his troops on Sari Bair to come and join him. The Australians had now taken cover and while they hesitated Kemal's battalion arrived and the Australians were pushed back.
Kemal soon saw his Battalion would soon be overwhelmed by the Australians coming ashore and so he ordered the 57th Regiment, one of the Turk's best regiments, to join the fight. That was still not enough and he committed one of his Arab Regiments, the 77th, as well. This he had no authority to do. The Turks had very few reserves and Kemal had just committed two regiments worth. Had another landing been made further up the coast, north of Anzac, the situation would have been perilous and Kemal could expect to lose his job at best. But fortunately for him this was not the case and late in the morning he rode back to Headquarters and reported his action to his Commander, and then requested permission for the third and last regiment of the 19th Division to be thrown into the battle as well.
The battle was now desperate. There was no concept of a front line; Australian troops had advanced as far as a mile inland while others were still fighting their way off the beach. Troops moving up gullies would turn corners to find themselves in the midst of Turks coming down. The fighting was hand to hand as much as anything else; men had no time to load or even fire their weapons, and merely had to charge on with their bayonets. Units lost touch with each other and communication with headquarters was almost impossible. Artillery fire or naval support was severely limited as men rarely knew where they were and the ships had no idea where the enemy lines stopped and their lines started.
This type of fighting continued all day. The Australians moved up the beach and threw themselves at the Turks, and the Turks likewise at the Australians. It was during this fighting that the Turkish 57th Regiment, their finest on the peninsular, was all but wiped out. At about 4 p.m. the Australians started to pull back to the beach. They had lost their units, their officers and their comrades, and so moved back to the only rallying point they knew of: the beach. Here they moved among the masses of other troops and supplies looking for food, water and leadership and all the while the Turkish shells showered the beach with shrapnel and artillery fire. It was in these circumstances that Generals Birdwood, Bridges and Godley, the men in charge of the Australian force had a meeting in a small dug-out on the shores of Gallipoli and decided their position was untenable. A message was sent to Sir Ian Hamilton aboard the Queen Elizabeth stressing the situation and saying "If we are to re-embark it must be at once."
Sir Ian Hamilton received this message after being woken at midnight. After a brief meeting the following reply was sent to the Australians.
"Your news is indeed serious. But there is nothing for it but to dig yourselves right in and stick it out. It would take at least two days to re-embark you as Admiral Thursby will explain to you. Meanwhile, the Australian submarine has got up through the Narrows and has torpedoed a gunboat at Cunuk. Hunter-Weston despite his heavy losses will be advancing tomorrow which should divert pressure from you. Make a personal appeal to your men and Godley's to make a supreme effort to hold their ground. Ian Hamilton
PS. You have got through the difficult business, now you have only to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe.
Ian H.

The battle ashore was slowing. Men were exhausted, the fever and determination with which they had attacked in the morning had diminished. They were demoralised and battle-weary. Yet with this message a sense of purpose was instilled in all the troops now they knew they were here to stay; there was no two ways about it. And they at last had something definite to do: Dig. Almost overnight positions and dug-outs appeared in the hard rocky soil and on the steep slopes. All the while the threat loomed over them of the Turkish counter-attack, and so they dug to safety. It wasn't long before the term of 'digger' was instilled upon the Australians, a name they were to keep throughout both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and up until the present day.


The battle had now slowed almost to a standstill. The Australians had dug in and would be almost impossible to remove. But so had the Turks, and so a stalemate; much the same on the Western Front had occurred, and it was to remain as such until the next phase of the battle.


While the Anzacs fought their way up the cliff face at Anzac Cove and held off Kemal's attempts to push them back into the sea, the main landing was taking place 13 miles to the south at Cape Helles. Five beaches had been chosen, code named Y, X, W, V and S when read from west to east on a map. The main attack was to take place on X, W and V beaches, with the majority of troops being landed here. Y beach was about 4 miles up the coast on the western side of the peninsula. This was not exactly a beach but more of a lowering in the cliffs where it was possible to get troops ashore. These troops, 2,000 in all, were to protect the flank and then be used to harass the enemy from the rear. Beach S, on the eastern side of Morto Bay and the eastern most position to be attacked, was similarly an attack designed to protect the right flank and the 700 men who landed there were to be replaced by the French troops when their demonstration at Kum Kale had been completed.
The attacks at X and W beaches were much the same as Anzac; at the appointed time the troops disembarked from the warships into the little boats which were towed towards the shore. After a short yet terrifying naval bombardment the boats approached the beaches. On both beaches the troops had to deal with shell fire, machine guns and barbed wire, and for a while were unable to advance due to the strength of the enemy positions. At beach X HMS Implacable came within 500 yards of the shore and hammered the enemy trenches at point blank range with her 12 inch guns, and in doing so even drew fire from the Turkish trenches. But by late morning both beaches had been taken and the troops were moving inland.
The attacks at W and X had so far been successful and the same could be said for the landings at S and Y. At beach S the troops landed and moved up the beach under fire. Making their way slowly up the cliffs behind the beach they the reached the crest by around 10 o'clock and here they dug in and were able to repel several counter-attacks by the Turks.
The next day the position was handed over to the French coming from Kum Kale to relieve them as arranged. At beach Y the Turks had been expecting no attack at all and so the 2,000 troops landed without a shot being fired. They climbed to the heights and there they sat to await orders. However, the confused planning now started again to become evident. Two Colonels had been landed with this force and both thought themselves to be in charge. Also, this force was not only to defend the flank but also to push inland and harass the enemy positions in the south from the rear. But both Colonels thought they were to wait for the troops coming up from the beaches from the south, link up with them and move inland together. And so they waited at the top of the cliff. The men smoked and brewed their tea. The officers chatted, awaiting the troops in the south. An as they waited in the peace of the warm, sunny day, the men at the last beach, beach V, were being slaughtered in their hundreds.
The landings at beach V were different to the others. It was on the very southern tip of the peninsula and suffered from the current of the Dardanelles, making any landing very difficult. Also the beach backed onto an amphitheatre like crescent of gently sloping land which had been criss-crossed with trenches, barbed wire and machine-gun emplacements. Up on the right was the village and ruined fort of Sedd-el-Bahr which had been built into the defences. To attempt to land on this beach in the normal way would have boarded on insanity. The boats carrying the men would have been riddled by machine guns from the outset. Those who managed to survive this and fight the current to make the beach would have been instantly held up by the barbed wire and destroyed at close range by rifle fire from the trenches. A new method of landing was needed, and probably inspired by the story of nearby Troy, a rather novel 'wooden horse' approach was devised. An innocent looking collier, the River Clyde, with 2,000 men aboard was to run herself aground off beach V. Instantly, a steam hopper and two lighters were to come around, lash themselves together and form a pontoon to bridge the gap between the River Clyde and the shore. Special doors cut in the sides would open up and the men inside would pour out along the pontoon and onto the beach all under the covering fire of several machine guns firing from the bridge of the ship. It was hoped it would only take a few minutes to get 2,000 men ashore who would then be able to move up the beach to overcome the defenders. They would also be accompanied by 20 small boats filled with men to land just after the River Clyde had beached herself.
That was the plan, but even the best laid plans can go wrong. After a terrific bombardment, which lasted an hour, the River Clyde and the small boats approached the shore. However the current was hard to gauge and the River Clyde, instead of beaching herself as high up in the middle of the beach as possible found herself too far eastwards and beached herself close to a reef of rocks under the walls of the old fortress.
The troops aboard the River Clyde made ready, as did those in the small boats which were approaching the shore, which included the 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the 1st Munster Fusiliers, the only Irish battalions to take part in the landings. But before the boats could touch down the Turks opened up a relentless fire The soldiers, cramped, huddled in their boats, could do little to defend themselves. Many had unloaded rifles as the attack was intended to be carried out by bayonet. Some jumped over the sides and waded ashore to be afforded the shelter of a low bank on the far side of the beach, but not nearly enough to make a difference. Also, the steam hopper which was supposed to bridge the gap between the River Clyde and the beach was swept away by the current every time they tried to bring it into position. Instead, the two lighters were brought around to do the job of the steam hopper. Commander Unwin, aboard the River Clyde, perhaps feeling responsible for the fiasco as the plan had been his own idea in the first place, jumped overboard with a tow rope in hand and together with an able-seaman got the lighters lashed together and into position. He then called to the troops to get ashore but as they ran along the gangways at the side and then along the lighters they were swept away by the Turkish infantry and machine gunners from both sides. The closer they got to the shore the bigger a target they posed for other Turks positioned just in front of them. However, more and more troops entered the vacuum to be shot off the gangways and replaced. By 9.30 a.m. it was obvious to continue like this was futile. Hundreds had been lost, barely 200 men making the shelter of the bank and these had been unable to do anything except wait and bare witness to the slaughter. Continued attempts were made throughout the day, both from the River Clyde and by troops from other vessels out to sea. During one of these attacks General Napier was killed. It was soon decided that no other attacks were to be attempted until nightfall when they at last succeeded in getting the remaining men ashore.
The men who had been standing idle all day at beach Y were suddenly and unexpectedly punished for their relaxed attitude. Expecting troops from the south to appear and link up at any moment they had not even prepared proper defences. The Turks came down from the north at dusk and the attack continued into the night. At dawn the next day British casualties stood at some 700 men. Some had gone back down to the beach to aid the wounded. Calls for the navy to send in boats to pick up the wounded were misunderstood and the boats thought an evacuation of the position had been ordered - now everyone was being evacuated off the beach, not just the wounded. When the British Commander (the other Colonel had already been killed) found out about this and realised that half his force had already been evacuated, he had no choice but to order his men to retire to the beach and to re-embark. But in one of those cruel twists of fate the Turkish commander deemed himself defeated and he too retired from position and the British force evacuated as they had landed, without a shot being fired.
Throughout that night more men and supplies were got ashore at the 4 other beaches, and the next day the attack continued. By the 27th,the entire 29th Division, 17,000 men, was ashore. On the 28th an advance was ordered but the British assault was soon held by the Turks. Very soon the fighting, like it had at Anzac, had slowed considerably into the trench warfare which become typical of almost all fields of battle through WW1. There were attacks and counter attacks, men went over the top in the hope of carrying the enemy in a glorious charge or else they were cut down in no-man's land. Any ideas of a quick success in Gallipoli were forgotten and it would be months before anything that could route the Turks and carry the peninsula would materialise.


All throughout May, June and July there was attack vs counter-attack. The Anzacs were mainly trying to hold on, the few attacks mounted being aimed at Sari Bair, one of the highest points on the peninsula from which they would be able to dominate the surrounding area, which included the Narrows, with a commanding view and whose capture would have been a dream come true for the artillery spotters. The British in the south mounted several attacks also on one of the high points of the peninsula, Achi Baba. These attacks had met with some success and certain areas of the line had been pushed forward over a thousand yards, but Achi Baba remained out of reach. When we look at the cost of it all the meagre gains hardly seemed worth the price: 57,000 Allied soldiers had fallen since the landings in April. The Turks couldn't even claim this figure to be a success; they had lost similar numbers and neither side was any closer to their objectives.
Throughout May and June, both Liman von Sanders, the German in command of the Turkish forces, and Sir Ian Hamilton had been demanding more men, guns and ammunition. Both commanders believed that with only a few more guns, with a few more shells, and a few more men to carry the attack they could break the enemy lines and in the case of the Turks drive the British and Anzac troops back into the sea, and in the case of the British drive through and advance to the heights of Achi Bab and Sari Bair, dominate the peninsula and open up the Narrows to allow the Navy to advance up the Dardanelles, into the Sea of Marmara and on to Constantinople.
It was at a meeting of the newly formed Dardanelles Committee that Sir Ian Hamilton had his wish. The war in France had come to a standstill. Kitchener's army was not yet ready for the breakthrough and if the 24 Divisions already in France were unable to make a difference what more could 3 or 4 others do? But in Gallipoli, where there were only 8 divisions, these 3 or 4 could make all the difference. Hamilton was informed he was to receive 3 divisions sent out to him as soon as they were ready. By the end of the month this number had been raised to 5. He was to have the ammunition for which he had been requesting for so long. Even the Navy was to make a contribution. Monitors, which were nearly floating mobile gun platforms, arrived to supplement the fleet already supporting the troops and special landing craft known as Beetles began to arrive. These were black painted, shallow draught landing barges which could carry 500 men plus supplies at any one time and had armour enough to ward off shrapnel and machine gun fire.
By now Hamilton commanded 13 divisions, approximately 170,000 men. Facing him were 16 Turkish divisions, albeit these were smaller and the man power numbered about the same. However, the Allied bridgeheads on the peninsula were only a few square miles and it would have been almost impossible to pour 5 extra divisions into this already overly congested area. It was decided to create a third landing area north of Anzac, at Suvla Bay. The bay would have provided good shelter for the ships; the beaches were wide and open which would have greatly aided the disembarkation of men and materials; the area behind was good open plain which would have made easy going in the early stages of the attack; and, most important of all, it was held by just under 2,000 Turks, with no machine guns, little or no barbed wire defences and, by the time the attack was delivered, basically no artillery support. Against this, the might of 3 divisions, 25,000 men, plus supporting arms, would fall.
There would also be two diversionary attacks to aid the landings; one at Cape Helles and the other at Anzac. While both these attacks were merely to tie down the enemy forces and draw on reinforcements which might otherwise be used at Suvla, both the British and Australian Commanders hoped that in the confusion of having to deal with multiple attacks, as well as a whole other landing, they would be able to gain at least some land from the Turks. The attacks were organised to act as a chain reaction running from south to north; the first bombardment starting at Helles Point at 2.30 in the afternoon, followed by the Anzac attacks at Lone Pine at 5.30, then Chunuk Bair at 9.30, culminating with the landings at Suvla Bay at before 10.30 p.m. As well as the diversions at Helles Point and Anzac, attempts were made to fool the Turks into believing the attacks were taking place at two other locations; one at Bulair to the north at the neck of the peninsula and another on the Turkish mainland. English officers were seen both in Egypt and the Greek Islands to be enquiring of the locals information on both these positions; water sources, beaches, roads, etc. These attempts to fool the enemy seem to have been successful as on the eve of the attack Liman von Sanders had 3 divisions on the wrong side of the Dardanelles ready to face the supposed allied attack.
The date for the attack was set for the 6th of August and the planning seemed to be coming on well. Now there was another component added to the battle; an extra 25,000 men were to be landed at Anzac in complete secrecy during the nights previous to the attack. Some of these men were to support the Anzac feint to draw reinforcements away from the Suvla Bay area but the majority were to be used to attack northwards, break through the Turkish defences and capture three heights: Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Koja Chemen Tepe in the Sari Bair range. In doing so they would provide greater security as these heights overlooked both the Anzac and Suvla Bay positions, as well as linking up with the British at Suvla.
But throughout the planning and preparations the utmost secrecy was adhered to. The extra troops landing at Anzac were hidden in hundreds of new caves and dug-outs set into the cliff face, and they were not allowed to venture out in the day time. They were all landed during the hours of darkness, as were all the extra supplies and ammunition, which were at once camouflaged once ashore. In the afternoon of August 6th the troops embarked on the Beetles and other transports and as the sun set they set off. The men were under orders to remain quiet, and no lights showed in the convoy as secrecy was still of the utmost importance. The men, fresh, untrained soldiers from Britain, set off into the gloom to face the unknown, the only sound being the boom boom coming from the batteries which had been firing all day at Anzac and Helles Point where the attacks had already begun.



The guns the men could hear as they set out for Suvla Bay had been firing, in some instances, since 2.30 that afternoon. And it was not only the land based artillery; the naval monitors with their huge 14 inch guns lent a hand with the bombardment. For the British in the south, these attacks were merely a continuation of the attacks and counter-attacks they had endured for the previous three months. This, however, didn't mean the attacks were any less determined. But even this, plus their reinforcements and immense cannonade couldn't break the Turkish lines. In some places the Turks had already been reinforced as they were planning an attack of their own. They fought back and forth for almost a week, and in the end it was sheer exhaustion and the numbers of casualties which stopped the battle, totalling several thousand on each side. For these several thousand casualties and a weeks worth of fighting, not to mention the expenditure in ammunition, the front lines remained the same; no land at all had been gained by either side. But, as far as the British commanders were concerned the attacks had been a success. The enemy had been heavily tied down in this area and had even had to commit reinforcements to it, troops which otherwise could have been used against the Anzacs at Chunuk Bair or the British at Suvla Bay. The British did not know it but they had almost achieved the breakthrough they had been vainly searching for for months. The Turkish defences were pushed to the edge of their abilities and at one point the local German commander sent a message to von Sanders stressing the need for an immediate withdrawal of the entire Cape Helles area. Von Sanders would hear none of it, and, relieving the German commander of his command, instructing his successor that no land was to be given up. Soon after, the attacks let up and the Turks were able to hold the British at Helles.
The attacks at Anzac, as have been described, were in two parts; a diversionary holding attack at Lone Pine to the south and the main attack to seize Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Koja Chemen Tepe to the north, securing the Allied position and linking up with the British at Suvla at the same time.
The attack at Lone Pine was a strange affair to say the least. The Anzacs, who had for so long suffered in their own trenches, constantly under the eye of the Turks overlooking their positions, suddenly had their chance for revenge. Everyone wanted a go in the attack and guards had to be posted to hold back men not authorised to take part in the first wave, and men were paying as much as five pounds for a place in the front line. The area to be attacked was around a hundred yards from trench to trench and only 220 yards wide. This meant a large amount of men concentrated under enemy gunfire in a very small area, in broad day-light. However, provisions had been made for this and tunnels going roughly 50 yards out into the middle of no-man's-land had been dug. In the late afternoon it was into these tunnels that the men committed themselves, waiting for the barrage overhead to finish and for the orders to attack. It must have been quite a shock to the Turkish sentries when at 5.30pm the whistles sounded and they saw these frenzied Australians appearing like zombies from out of the barren earth, to be followed by more Australians from the trenches behind. The first line was all but annihilated by the murderous Turkish machine-gun and rifle fire. However, the second and third waves carried on the attack with conviction, but upon reaching the Turkish trenches found them to be roofed with thick pine logs to protect them from shrapnel and artillery fire. Some Australians, when faced with this dilemma as to how to access the Turkish trenches, just ignored them, and carried on to attack the communications trenches behind. Some dropped their weapons and pulled up the logs with their bare hands jumping down among the Turks. Others just ran along the top looking for gaps in the logs through which to fire on the Turks below. The fighting was desperate; rifles lay forgotten as men used bayonets, shovels, logs and their bare hands to come to grips with the enemy. Once the Australians had captured the trenches the Turks instantly counter-attacked, and then the Australians attacked again. For a week this uncoordinated, mad, almost riot-like fighting continued. As the fighting subsided, many thousands of dead Australians and Turks lay indiscriminately on top of and amongst each other in and around the trenches. Seven Victoria Crosses, the highest decoration for Bravery, were won there. At the end of the battle the Australians remained victorious, having at last captured the enemy trench. But more importantly they had held down thousands of enemy troops and reinforcements and had put major strain on the Turkish positions.
But this attack was only a subsidiary, a diversion, for the main Anzac attack to the north. Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish commander facing the Anzac area, had made no arrangements to face a night attack in this area, indeed one only has to see the greatly undulating landscape, beset with gullies, ravines and precipitous cliffs to recognise the immense difficulties of attacking in this sort of landscape during the day, let alone at night when visibility and navigation were greatly inhibited. However, an enterprising young New Zealand major had been reconnoitring the land and had trained a party of expert guides to guide the troops into position. The plan was for a group of 20,000 men to attack up the Suri Bair Range to which the three hills belonged, secure their objectives and meet up with the British coming up from Suvla Bay. In order to achieve this, the attacking force was divided into two columns. The right column, comprising chiefly of New Zealanders, was to attack up two ravines, one called Sazli Dere and another to the south which led up to what was later know as Rhododendron Spur, and seize Chunuk Bair. The second, or left column, made up of British, Indian and Australians, was to march northwards, along the coast, bypassing the New Zealanders in the right column, then turn inland where it was to split up and take Hill Q and Koja Chemen Tepe slightly further north. Both groups were to start out after nightfall in the hope of catching the Turks unawares.
Just after dusk, an excellent rouse was initiated to capture the first line of trenches. For some nights previously a British destroyer had switched on her spot-light at precisely 9 o'clock, and, shining it on the Turkish trenches, proceeded to bombard them. At 9.30 exactly she switched off her spot-light and ceased firing. So on the night of the 6th of August at 9.00 the destroyer switched on her spot-light and bombarded the Turkish trenches. The Turks, learning from experience that the bombardment would only last 30 minutes, and no harm would come of it, would abandon their trenches until the bombardment was over, then come back down the slope and reclaim them. But this night the New Zealanders followed closely behind the searchlight and as soon as it was switched off leapt into the trenches. When the Turks came back they were surprised to discover their trenches had been occupied and fierce fighting ensued. But the Turks were not strong enough and were forced to fall back, closely followed by the advancing New Zealanders. But this is where things started to go wrong. The guides who were supposed to take the troops right up to the crest of Chunuk Bair had lost themselves in the darkness. Some groups of the column halted to try and take barings and work out where they were. Others continued to march in the darkness and one group even managed to go full circle and ended up at its starting point. The few troops who did manage to make their way to the top sat down and waited for the rest of the force before trying to storm the summit of Chunuk Bair.
As bad as this was, the left column had a much worse time of it. The men had been ordered to march over difficult ground with heavy packs, and cover 3½ miles in 3 hours, silently and in darkness. Moreover, instead of taking the easier and more gently sloping route to the summit in the north, the guides deciding to take a short cut, cut through a ravine at Aghyldere. Here the Turks poured fire down on top of them. The commanding officer was soon wounded and the troops were starting to panic. Some men fell back and retreated, some pushed forwards regardless and some, so exhausted by the situation, lay down where they were and slept. The column had come to a standstill, unable to advance and unable to extract itself. By dawn on August 7th none of the objectives of Chunuk Bair, Hill Q and Koja Chemen Tepe had been captured.
But the main tragedy of the campaign, one which is still remembered through Australia, was still to come: that of the futile attack by the Australian Light Horse on a position just below Kemal's headquarters on Battleship Hill, more famously known as the Nek. In the expectation that the 3 summits had already been captured by dawn, the Light Horse, dismounted and acting as infantry, were to advance and attack here to prevent the Turks from attacking the flank of the troops atop Chunuk Bair. When dawn came and it was apparent that The hill was still in enemy hands, it was decided to attack regardless. The whistles sounded and the first wave was destroyed nearly before they left the trenches. The machine guns cut great gaps in the attacking waves of troops, and the Turks were sitting on the parapet of their trenches to get a better view of the attacking Australian troops. It didn't take very long at all for the Turks to annihilate 650 of the 1,250 who attacked. Successive waves had to pick their way through the bodies of those who had already fallen, only to be shot down before they could make any headway whatsoever. And all in an area the size of a tennis court.
The New Zealanders, perched high above the sea just under Chunuk Bair could see the attack taking place. Further south, they could see the movement of the attack at Lone Pine taking place. They could even see the British at Suvla Bay far to the north-west. But of their own force or the left column somewhere below them in the gullies and ravines they could make out nothing. They were alone, and the attack was running dangerously behind schedule. However, in the middle of the morning two companies of Gurkhas joined them and so they attacked the summit at Chunuk Bair. They were too late. The Turks were already on the hill-top and the attack was repulsed.
That was the last attack of the day. The remainder was taken up in reorganising the lost columns and working out what had been gained and what hadn't. The next day, the 8th, the commanders conceived to try again. The troops were organised into 5 columns, the objectives being the same 3 hills. The attacks were nearly successful; both Hill Q and Chunuk Biar were very nearly captured but the troops involved were too few in number. It was decided to have one last attempt but this time Koja Chemen Tepe was excluded altogether and the attack focused on Chunuk Bair and the saddle of land linking it to Hill Q. This was eventually done after a terrible bombardment at dawn on August 9th. The troops attacked and fought hand to hand, using fists, rifles as clubs and bayonets. The enemy turned and fled and as the victorious troops followed them down the far side of the hill, they were caught by several artillery shells. Whether these were British or Turkish it is not known but the troops were forced to retire back up to the summit.
This was the only gained objective. It was an important height as it gave a good field of view of the surrounding area. If it could have been held the outcome of the campaign could have been very different, but on August 10th Mustafa Kemal, now commander in charge of the entire Suvla / Anzac area, planned one last desperate attack on the British positions on Chunuk Bair. The men on both sides were dispirited to say the least - both had been fighting non-stop for 3 days. Behind them lay thousands of dead and wounded. They were short of water and food, many had not slept for days.
At 4.30 a.m. on August 10th Kemal raised his whip as the single to start the attack. Within 4 hours Chunuk Bair had been cleared. The British had been pushed off the only height they had gained and now had nothing. But it came at a price for the Turks. As they had advanced over the open ground the artillery and naval gunfire had torn them apart. The majority had been obliterated by the ships they could see below them. But the losses didn't matter, as the heights had been recaptured and the enemy defeated.


Both of the attacks at Cape Helles and Anzac came very close to breaking the Turkish lines. The Turks were so stretched that at certain times Liman found himself with no reserves at all; every single one of his units had been committed to battle and those coming from Bulair or from across the Narrows had not yet arrived. A breakthrough at this point would have been disastrous; with no reserves or reinforcements, Allied troops would have been able to push through the gap and right up the peninsula. But while the Turks were being stretched almost to the point of breaking, the Allied had been in a similar position. It was not long after the German commander had been removed from his command for stressing the need to pull back and abandon the defence at Cape Helles that the British found that they too had committed all their troops into the battle, and, when the enemy were at breaking point, they had nothing else to throw in. The same could be said for the Australians at Lone Pine. At the height of the battle both sides had committed all their reserves. The same in the failed attacks on the Sari Bair range. There were no troops left on either side to commit to the battle. Both sides were fighting with everything they had and all they could do was sit and wait to see who came out victorious.
But what of the 20,000 men at Suvla Bay? These were the men who were to land, secure the bay and surrounding area, then move inland. There was a sense of urgency about the plan; whilst the attacks at Helles Point and Anzac were to tie down the troops in their vicinity - there were still several divisions which von Sanders had been tricked into posting near Bulair as well as those across the Narrows in mainland Turkey. As soon as von Sanders realised he had been fooled and that there was to be no attack forthcoming at Bulair he would immediately order his divisions posted there to move south to meet the real threats. Before they arrived it was imperative that the central hills had been secured. Apart from the hills, which were abundant with wells, there was no other water in the area; until those wells were secure the troops would have to rely on the Navy to supply them. This was not a problem as Hamilton's plan was to have secured the low hills closest to the coast before dawn on the first day, and be well positioned in the Anafarta Range further inland long before reinforcements marching from the north had reached them. It all depended on speed; it was estimated it would take 36 hours for troops from Bulair to arrive once they started marching. In this time the troops landing at Suvla would have needed to be secure in the Anafarta Range and on Tekke Tepe further north. By holding these two heights the British would have effectively cut off the Turkish forces in the south and also be in such a position as to be able to easily repeal all but the most heavy of attacks.
But, somewhere down the chain of command, the stress factor on speed which was the lifeline of the entire plan was lost. Divisional commanders were told to get to the hills by dawn "if possible". Brigade commanders thought there would be no real advance until later the next day. One commander was under the impression that he would be waiting by the coast for the Anzacs breaking out of the south before advancing. It was this lack of coherency and instruction and leadership which was to beset the entire Suvla Campaign. The men were new, untried and untested. All were volunteers who had been civilians when the war started, and the patriotism and willingness with which they had joined up had slowly been melting away through the long months training in Britain. The commanders too were just as inexperienced; many had reached the positions they now held through length of service not through dazzling careers in the field. Some had never even commanded large formations of men. But none of this really mattered. As long as the plan was adhered to all should go well.
It was coming up to 10.00 as the first Beetles approached the shore. It was a dark night, there was no moon and in a matter of minutes the Beetles ground up on the beach, dropped their ramps and 7,000 men were ashore completely unopposed. These were the men landing on Beaches C and B, outside of Suvla Bay, on level land to the south. It had originally been devised to have all three landing beaches outside the bay, along this very stretch of coast. It was planned to use the bay after the landings for supply; the wide sweeping arms made a perfect natural harbour and even a steel mesh net a mile long had been supplied, which was to be stretched across the mouth of the Bay to give protection from the threat of submarines, which would have played havoc with the supply ships. But to land here before the attack the navy was hesitant; the bay had not been reconnoitred; no soundings had been made. The navy didn't know if the bay was indeed deep enough for ships to even enter or if they would be fouled on hidden reefs or shoals. But the infantry commander insisted it was imperative that he have troops landed within the bay and the navy was forced to give in.
As it turned out, the navy had been quite right about Suvla Bay. Once the arms of the bay had closed around them, the men in the Beetles found navigation difficult; some getting stuck on hidden reefs and some boats landing almost 1,000 yards out of position. One of the main objectives to be captured that night was Hill 10, a hill about ½ a mile inland from the beach. But the muddle and disorganisation after the landing meant that by dawn the men had not only failed to advance towards the hills, but had not even captured their first objective. Some men had gone off and seized what they thought to be Hill 10 but it was a different hill altogether further north. Had they been facing serious opposition, the whole venture might have proved disastrous. Fortunately, the attack at Anzac had drawn off reserves from this sector and facing the landings were less than 1,500 men, with barely any artillery support and not even a single machine gun between them.
So why, in the opening daylight hours of the first day, when speed was still counted on as being the most important factor, were not the men reorganised and this pitiful force which opposed them swept aside? Nearly 20,000 men were now ashore, the units were beginning to disentangle themselves and work out their positions. Why not attack now? Why were the men standing around when they could see their objectives across the plain behind the beaches? It all boiled down to a factor of command. Too many orders and counter orders were flying about from their respective headquarters. Units were told to hold tight in defence, then to attack one hill, then another. In some instances men were sitting idle having received no orders at all; with their commanders waiting impatiently and eagerly for the order to attack. The maps with which officers had been issued were found to be inadequate, wrong and sometimes in Turkish. Also, units refused to move in the blistering heat. It was known that inland, among the hills and escarpments, there were many wells, easily enough to supply all the men. But in the heat of the day the men refused to attack these hills unless they first had quenched their thirst. There was water for all waiting for them but the men needed water before these supplies could be reached, water the navy was having trouble supplying them with.
It was late in the day, almost dusk, when the troops at last moved inland to attack Chocolate Hill, a rise which it had originally hoped to have been captured before dawn that day, and, considering the hesitation and timid advance during the day, the attack was immensely successful. Chocolate hill was captured, and the men advanced to capture Green Hill beyond it as well. But none of the British commanders had followed the attacks and even though the men could see the Turkish outposts on the main heights before them, which were the main objective of the entire attack, were pulling back, they received no orders and so did not advance. The Suvla Plain was now empty as were the hills beyond. But with no-one to give the orders for attack the men sat down and waited for the rest of the force to catch up with them.
That night, exhausted by the confusion of the previous day, the men slept. At dawn the next day, the scene was pretty much the same as it had been the night before. It was now the morning of the 8th. By now it was hoped that all the troops would be well inland and the heights secured. But this was not so. Apart from the troops on Chocolate Hill and Green Hill and a few scatterings to the north and south, the main body of troops was still by the shore. The inability of commanders showed itself again. The men were too tired, it was said, and a general advance would begin first thing tomorrow morning.
All was quiet. Men bathed in the sea, stores were unloaded, the Turks were nowhere in sight. Aerial reconnaissance reports stated the plains were empty but still no movement. Hamilton, worried by the lack of news, sent one of his colonels to review the situation. He waited all day for a report and at 4.30, after several delays, he set off towards Suvla Bay to investigate the position for himself. He was shocked by what he saw. The distant hills on which he stated it was so mightily important to capture in the early stages of the battle were still out of reach. There weren't even plans in place to move men up towards them. Hamilton immediately ordered all available troops to advance on the hills. The 36 hours had long passed but there were no reports of the enemy as of yet. It was now a race. Whichever side could get even a few hundred men to the crest and dug-in would be in an incredibly powerful position. It was vital these hills were taken, and taken now. It was the 36th Brigade that had been ordered to advance. However, it was not the speedy flight to the hills which Hamilton had envisaged. It had taken 7 hours for the men to advance through thick scrub and it was 4 a.m. the next morning when they at last started to advance to their positions on the hill top. They were less than ½ an hour too late. The Turkish forces from Bulair had arrived and had been moved into position on the hill without even a moments rest. They charged down the far side of the hill and the 36th Brigade was basically written off in a matter of minutes. The few men who did survive ran back towards the shore; some didn't stop until they hit the beach. But it didn't matter any more. The incompetence and slow nature of the high command had meant Suvla Bay had already failed. The hills which had been so important to seize so early on in the battle were now in enemy hands; and as had been learnt at Chunuk Bair and the other heights in the Sari Bair range, they would be almost impossible to capture now.
It was at this stage that the Suvla Bay campaign was effectively over. Other attacks took place including one in which Hill 60 was captured. This was a very important development as it allowed allied artillery observers and look-outs a commanding view of the area and instilled a grain of hope in the allied commanders. But that was the last major victory and the action on the peninsula fell back to as it was in the days of May, June and July before the Suvla campaign, that of the slow moving, standardised trench warfare, where huge energies and losses were expended to very little gain. Suvla had failed. The Narrows were no closer than in July and the August attacks had cost the allies 45,000 men. It was the beginning of the end in Gallipoli.



As the fire of the August attacks died down to its glowing embers, the army returned to the same stalemate which affected almost every front in the entire war. The British had failed and with heavy casualties. But the Turks had lost heavily too, and had other problems to contend with; as the attacks mounted against them and as time went on, the Turks had been forced to send more and more troops to the peninsula. By September ½ of their entire armed forces were involved in Gallipoli. There was however, only one single road travelling down the peninsula with which they were able to supply the troops. And with the onset of winter and the rain, snow and cold which that entailed, the Turks were having very serious doubts as to whether they would be able to supply all these men. But whatever problems the Turks were suffering the Allies problems were tenfold. Their only method of supply to the peninsula was by sea. When the gales and storms of winter set in landing stores by sea would not only be incredibly difficult, it would be downright impossible. If these conditions continued for longer than a week or two which they were often known to do, then the Allied position would be very perilous to say the least. If the Turks mounted an attack at this time, on the weakened, underfed and under supplied troops, who knew what tragedy might have ended the Gallipoli campaign once and for all.
It was these factors; the failed August offensive, the stalemate, the onset of winter and the constant drain on soldiers, equipment and supplies, that the War Cabinet in London were having to face. Certain cabinet members had been against the operation since the beginning, and now was the time to voice their opinions. Others too joined the call, and very soon there was a real threat to the campaign. A recent attack in France had failed with the loss of ¼ of a million men, and a real argument was posed: if the forces involved in Gallipoli had been present on the Western Front, could the attack have succeeded? There was now a serious case for opposition to the campaign and the politicians wanted action to be taken.
Sir Ian Hamilton, however, remained confident that with more men and materials he could beat the Turks. And he wasn't alone. Certain commanders among the naval forces present believed with more ships, combined with an attack by the land forces to occupy enemy artillery, a determined effort was sure to force the Narrows at last, effectively ending the campaign. But this was not the general opinion in London, and on Oct 11th Hamilton had his first inkling of the opposition the entire venture was facing back home in a telegram from Kitchener himself.

"What is your estimate of the probably losses which would be entailed on your force if the evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula was decided upon and carried out in the most careful manner?"

Hamilton was shocked. After all this time, all this effort and all the casualties he had suffered he still believed the Turks could be beaten. His own personal opinion, if they were to evacuate, was a loss of between 35 - 45% but in a message sent to London he claimed losses of 50%, plus all stores and provisions piled up on the beaches, not to mention the guns which had been brought ashore. These estimates struck hard in the cabinet when they were read out. Many were now opposed to Gallipoli but could they really risk the lives of over fifty thousand or more men? Being unable to reach a decision, it was decided to replace Hamilton's with a fresh view. On Oct 16th Hamilton received a message informing him he was to be brought back to Britain to place his views before the Cabinet. It was decided to replace Hamilton with General Sir Charles Monro, an able army commander who had proved his worth on the Western Front. He arrived at the Dardanelles on Oct 28th under orders to reach a quick decision. This he did, and on Oct 30th he set out on a tour of the positions. At each of Helles, Anzac and Suvla he saw the same thing; the squalor, the piles of shores on the beaches, the overlooking Turkish positions. The next day he had made up his mind; in the words of Winston Churchill "He came, he saw, he capitulated"; the peninsula needed to be evacuated. This is what the politicians in the War Committee had been calling for, but when push came to shove they were not so sure. Monro's estimates of casualties for the evacuation were similar to Hamilton's real estimates, between 30 and 40%, or closer to around 40,000 men, but this was still a huge number to be lost. Unable to reach a decision it fell to Kitchener to decide. This was no easy decision to make, and on the 4th of November he set off for the Dardanelles to review the situation and come up with a decision.
On arriving in the Dardanelles Kitchener was faced by the opinions of all the commanders involved, both Army and Navy. Some wished to stay and try again, others wanted a full evacuation at the earliest opportunity. Other still wanted to evacuate and land further south of the Turkish mainland. There was also the issue of Egyptian safety. Half of the Turkish army was now stationed in Gallipoli where they were making no headway against the Allies and were no real threat to British sovereignty. Remove the Allied troops from Gallipoli, and these battle hardened Turks would be free to march south and threaten the Suez Canal. But the decision was not theirs; it was Kitchener's, and all they could hope to do was persuade him. Kitchener spent a day at each of the positions, inspecting trenches, supply arrangements and talking to senior officers about the possibilities of an attack. At the end of his tour Kitchener was still unpersuaded one way or the other, but by now other factors were beginning to enter the equation and on 22nd November Kitchener informed the war cabinet in London recommending that Suvla and Anzac be evacuated but that Helles should be held on to for the present, just in case the Navy wished to have another attempt at forcing the Narrows. On the 24th Kitchener followed his message back to London and left it up to the commanders to organise the evacuation.
Three days later, on the 27th, the weather broke. Rain fell, thunder storms raged overhead. Then, the wind veering to the north, the snow started. With the fact of the looming order to evacuate being expected, no winter kit had been landed. Trenches flooded, sentries were discovered frozen as they had stood, and the ground was so hard it was impossible to dig graves for the dead. 280 soldiers had been drowned, another 10,000 fell as casualties to the cold. The arguments continued; Kitchen had given his opinion, but still no definite decision had yet been made. For those who still believed in the offensive there was still hope; this hope however, was dashed by the decision of the War Cabinet on December 7th to evacuate Anzac and Suvla. But after months of stalemate and indecision the commanders now had something definite to do. The plan was to be worked in three successive stages: The first stage entailed the removal of all sick and wounded men, including those suffering from even minor ailments, and all men, animals, equipment and guns that were not vital to defence IF a winter campaign was decided upon, which could at any point prove likely when one considers the indecision of the previous months.
The second, or intermediate stage, was the removal of all men, animals, equipment and guns which were not vital for defence in the last stage, and it was during this time that the majority of men and stores were to be taken off.
The final stage was by far the most dangerous. The force left could be easily destroyed by any form of Turkish attack, the men remaining would have to give the impression of the trenches being full, and many booby traps would be set in their wake. Many ingenious mechanisms run by pulleys, weights and levers were devised to allow rifles to fire themselves long after the troops had left the trenches. Also, any stores left on shore were to be destroyed.
Even if this plan was adhered to, the problems were immensely complex. 83,000 men had to be evacuated in complete secrecy. Only the most senior officers knew of the plan. But the entire thing hinged on the weather. If storms like those at the end of November started up again the evacuation would have to be postponed. But after the storms abated the weather was similar to that of the landings 9 months previously. By the 10th of December the first stage of the evacuation was completed. All sick and wounded had been removed, as had many unnecessary troops. It was time for the main part of the evacuation. On December 12th the men were told they were to be evacuated. Some were disappointed, some were relieved and some were caught between the two, glad to be leaving but not sure how to cope with the fact that the last 9 months and the lose of their friends had been for nothing. There now remained the question of who was to remain for the final stage. There was no problem picking the men; there were literally thousands of volunteers of men wanting to be among the last to leave. It was now just a matter of who was to stay and who was to be disappointed.
It was now time for the men to be embarked. Every night thousands of men, their feet wrapped with sacking and the way paved with blankets to soften the sounds of the many men marching. By dawn the scene was empty, all vessels were away and out of sight of the land and in fact men were again landed during the day and boxed unloaded. These boxes were empty and many more men were embarked during the night than disembarked in the day time. The plans went smoothly and the Turks suspected nothing. The final stages were set for the nights of the 19th and 20th of December. There were still just under 40,000 men to be taken off in only 2 nights. The main worry was the weather, but it held. The night of the 19th came and 20,000 troops embarked. Come morning there was nothing. The few remaining troops got about making their final preparations; booby traps set, flour, salt and sugar trails laid down to the shore, and final visits to the graves of their fallen comrades were made.
At 5 o'clock the sun set. The men in the rear trenches and at the flanks were first. They filed slowly down to the sea and embarked. Soon the flanks and rear had been cleared and the centres too were falling back. By 10 p.m. at Anzac only 1,500 men faced tens of thousands of Turks. As the last men left they lit the fuses of the booby traps and pulled barbed wire across the paths. At 4 o'clock everyone was on board. They waited a while in case there were any stragglers coming down from the mountains, and at 4.10 a.m. the final boat cast off. Just then, an enormous mine which had been laid under the enemy trenches at Chunuk Bair exploded. A deafening roar overcame the entire area and the enemy, suspecting an attack, started firing wildly at the Allies trenches. But it was too late, and a little after 5 a.m. the last boat left Suvla. Destroyers put shells onto the piles of stores on the shores, setting them alight. Just as the last boats disappeared over the horizon, Turks were seen to be coming down through the abandoned trenches and onto the shore. These, too, were shelled by the Navy and as many as several hundred casualties were inflicted even after the last man had left the shore.
That night the weather broke; the army had got away just in time.



The men had gone from under the noses of the Turks at Suvla and Anzac; at certain places there was only 10 yards between the trenches. But they had done it; they had got away and the 40,000 predicted casualties amounted to only two men wounded.
But what of the position at Helles? Were these men to wait through-out the winter? They had not been told of the evacuation at Anzac and Suvla. When they found out they were despondent. Why had those two places been evacuated, and not here? It was true Helles Point had seen the most fighting; the men had suffered the most attacks and had gone over the top more times, albeit the fighting was not the heaviest. However, it wasn't long before they learnt that they, too, were to be evacuated. As soon as the evacuations were finished at Anzac and Suvla, Hamilton's replacement, Monro, sent a message to London informing them that Helles too needed to be evacuated. The Turkish men and guns who had previously been employed at the other two sites were brought down to Helles to barrage the enemy troops. Liman von Sanders had just let one army slip by; he was not about to make the same mistake. On December 27th Monro had his reply: Helles too was to be evacuated. It took only 4 days to plan, and was to be much the same as the Anzac and Suvla Bay plans, albeit on a smaller scale. Also, British commanders requested that they have 17,000 men left to be evacuated on the last night, just in case the weather broke and the remaining troops were stuck; 17,000 was the minimum number required to hold the Turks in just such an eventuality.
On Jan 1st the plans commenced. The French were the first to go and then 29th Division, the men who had started the campaign so many months before, were sent in to fill the gap. However, time was a far greater factor than it had posed before; the weather was turning and soon it would be impossible for ships to even approach the shore, let alone take on troops. In this respect it was decided to embark men during the day. The positions were not half as much looked over as those on Anzac and Suvla and the only real problem was enemy aircraft. To counter this, a clever rouse was developed. If, while the men marched down to the beach and stores and animals were being loaded onto the boats, an enemy aircraft appeared, the entire operation would be reversed. Men would turn around and march inland; stores would be removed from the ships' holds and piled up on shore. Once the threat from aircraft had abated, the operation would again be reversed and carry on as before.
This is how it was on the 7th of January; the British at Helles numbered 19,000 men and it was now that they faced potentially the biggest tragedy of the campaign. With the beachheads at Suvla and Anzac gone Limon von Sanders could concentrate all of his 21 Divisions against Helles. Fresh troops, guns, and ammunition were arriving daily. Liman also had an inkling, a gut feeling, that there was something amiss at Helles. And so on the 7th of January he attacked. Preluded by the heaviest artillery bombardment of the entire campaign, lasting over 5 hours, he sent in his men. Whether it was the fact the end was in sight, perhaps it was the prospect of the possibility of at last being sent home and being able to visit one's family, or maybe the fact they knew the line to be under manned and every shot had to count, we cannot tell. Whatever the reason, the fire the Turks faced was more than murderous. In the hundred yards between them few Turks even made it to halfway, let alone the British trenches, and very soon they were refusing to go forward at all. By nightfall it was over; the attack had failed and Liman was tricked into believing that the British at Helles were now stronger than before, and the reports from his airmen of troops moving up, not off, the shore had been correct.
It was now the day of the 8th of January. Only the 17,000 men remained. It was a perfectly calm day; there was only a slight breeze blowing. The same preparations which marked the departure at Anzac and Suvla were now taking place at Helles; the piling up of ammunition and stores to be destroyed, the laying of trails down to the sea, the setting up of booby traps and self-firing rifles. As dusk set in the first men moved down to the beaches, but time was running out. The wind had strengthened and was getting worse all the time. Men queuing on the beaches wondered if they would get off, but the boats kept coming in and men continued to leave on them. The only really worrying event happened at Gully beach. Here, 200 men came down the shore to discover their lighter had run aground. Their only hope was to march south for 2 hours to W beach. Here, luckily, a barge had stayed behind to pick up stragglers. The wind had picked up to storm credentials and they, the last men to leave Gallipoli, pushed off at a quarter to 4. Soon after they left the ammunition dumps exploded. Turkish shells fell on the beach and foreshore but it was too late. The Army had landed to waiting Turks, they had fought again and again to break the Turkish lines and force their way up the peninsula. They had failed and now the last troops had slipped silently away much like the ships of Paris had slipped away from Troy just over the straights to the south many thousands of years before. But unlike Paris, there was no wooden horse, there was no fleet waiting just over the horizon and they would not return, and the hundred thousand fallen Allied and dominion soldiers who had fallen at Gallipoli had done so for nothing.


After the campaign, the War Cabinet, trying to make victory out of defeat, set up the Dardanelles Commission to assess the Gallipoli Campaign. It was several years later that the Commission decided there was too much evidence and closed the report without giving a definite answer. However, back home the campaign was seen as necessary as it had tied up, at one point, half of the entire Turkish armed forces, had diverted large amounts of ammunition and materials away from Germany, and had prevented Turkish forces from moving south and threatening the Suez Canal.


It was learning ground in terms of amphibious landings; no other landing of this size had ever been attempted. The lessons learned were applied later at Normandy and Dunkirk; the Normandy landings taking over two years to plan - the Gallipoli landings only three months. They were a huge achievement considering there was no experience to draw from at the time, even though they ultimately failed in opening up the Dardanelles and capturing Constantinople.


Moorehead, Alan, Gallipoli, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1956
Hammerton, J. A., World War 1914-1918, A Pictured History, The Amalgamated Press, London
Robertson, John, Anzac and Empire, The Tragedy and Glory of Gallipoli, Hamlyn, Australia, 1990
MacDonald, Lyn, 1915 The Death of Innocence, Penguin Books, 1993
Bean, C E W., Gallipoli Correspondent, The Frontline Diary of, George, Allen and Unwin, 1985


 

 

 

 

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