Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett articles on the Gallipoli campaign, 1915
[Note: this transcription has been automatically generated from a typed document and may contain typographical errors. The author’s spelling and typing errors have not been corrected.]
Log of the battleship, Agamemnon and naval operations up to 18 March. Page 10.
Review of ships of the allied fleet. Page 22.
The sinking of the ‘Majestic’, on which Ashmead Bartlett was a passenger. Page 37.
The presence of enemy submarines and sinking of the ‘Triumph’. Page 48.
Review of the situation on Gallipoli, 1st June. Page 57.
The Famous Gully Ravine. Page 76.
Scenes on the Gallipoli Peninsular, 9th July. Page 89.
The new phase of the campaign, from 13th July. Page 101
Proclamation by Gen. Birdwood, of 5th August. Page 110.
Proclamation by Gen. Birdwood, of 9th August. Account of the action at Lone Pine. Page 112.
Original report of the operations at Anzac, August 6th to 10th. Page 113
Original report of the Old Guard at Suvla Bay on August 21st. Page 126
Official report of the capture of Hill 60, August 27th – 28th. Page 133
Handwritten notes for his letter to the British Prime Minister, 8 Sept. 1915. Page 137
Letter responding to Mr Churchill's statements in the House of Commons on the Dardanelles Expedition, which appeared in The Times, Nov. 24th 1915. Page 141
Manuscripts of Major General Walker's reports on the initial landing of the 1st Division at Anzac and the work of the 1st Australian Brigade, not reproduced. See Page 191 for typewritten copy.
Typewritten copy by Ashmead Bartlett of Major General Walker's reports on the initial landing of the 1st Division at Anzac and the work of the 1st Australian Brigade. Page 191.
The Colonials at Anzac. Page 206
The role of Destroyers in the Mediterranean. Page 218
Incidents in the Campaign, including the British landing at Suvla Bay, 6th August. Page 230]
[Previous pages are covers and library information]
[Handwritten page. Loose piece of paper - probably written by librarian]
Original Articles 1 by E. Ashmead Bartlett
Log of …. naval operations up to … March 1915
Last days of the Majestic
Coming of the submarines
Original articles on situation June 1 1916
Famous Gully Ravine (printed)
Scenes on the Gallipoli Peninsuar
New phrase of the Campaign (xxx)
Original report of operation
Aug 6 – 10 (unpub)
Old guard at Suvla Bay
Official report of the capture
Log of the battleship Agamemnon of the naval operations at the Dardanelles up to the great attack of March 18th 1915
Notes taken from the Agememnon Log of the Dardanelles expedition up to March 18th
Agememnon left Portland, on February 9th. Arrived at Malta February 15th taking in 1500 tons of coal. On February 17th joined up with the Queen Elizabeth. The two ships proceeded togther and on the morning of February I9th passed through the Doro Channel. At 3-30 pm the Ships of the Allied Fleet could be seen engaging the outer forts at the mouth of the Dardanelles beyond Tenedos.
Immediately on their arrival the Agememnon was ordered to support the Cornwallis off Seddul Bahr and fired 13 rounds at No 1 Fort over Cape Helles at the same time coming under an ineffectual fire from No 4 Fort. The whole affair only lasted twenty minutes. The results obtianed on the whole seemed to be satisfactory especially against Forts 3 and 6 but on the whole little serious damage seems to have been done except against Fort 6. Operations on February 25th.
The operations orders for reducing the work were issued by Sir Lionel Carden as follows. The Vengenace Cornwallis Suffren and Charlemagne working in pairs were to run in to 3000 yards and engage Forts I and 4 with secondary armaments, with the object of destroying each gun by direct fire. Supporting them at anchor were to be the Agememnon Queen Elisabeth Irresistible and Gaulois firing at forts 1,3,4,6 respectively. During the week which proceeded this attack the Fleet steamed out at night by Divisions at dusk off the entrance of the Straits whilst the Inflexible and Queen Elizabeth went on patrol to Mansell Bank and back. On Thirsday February 25th the day broke fine
and clear witha a slight breeze from the south west. The Fleet rendevous was off Tenedos at 8-30 am and proceeded to the previously appointed stations. The Agememnon proceeded to anchorage C and and 9-50 let go the starboard anchor in 17 fathoms. It was thought that this would plce the ship outside the range of the guns of No 1 Fort but at 10-17 these fired the shots falling six houndred yards short. Then they went over. At 10 -19 the right gun of S 3 replied the shot going over the fort and falling in the barracks behind. The target of the Agememnon was a a large earth emplacement with two embrasures on Cape Helles. These soon got the range and at 10-35 the Flagship made a signal to the Agememnon to weigh. This was t done by the turrets crews. At 19—37 the first shot struck the ship speedily followed by another.
The Agememnon was in fact hit six times while the cable was being weighed suffering some casualties and some damage. At 10-40 the Agememnon glided out of range s sixty five shots having been fired at her and she herself firing about 50.,. The Turkish shells were armour piercing 9-5 calibre. The Queen Elixabeth supporeted the Agememnon at 13000 yards and at 11-58 landed a shell on the right hand embrassure throwing the gun off its mounting and completely wrecking it. The Fort ceased fire at 11-44. Shortly after the Q.E his the Agememnon landed a shell on the left hand embrassure. The maximum range of the forst seemed to be 10500 yards and the rate of fire from two guns three a minute. The whole of this time the Irresistible and Q E were raining shells on forts 4 and 6. The effect of the 15 in was appaling. At 12-10 the Agememnon was ordered to assist in the demolition of Fort No3. At 12-48 the Vengenace and Cornwallis started their run in to three thous—
[thous]and yards firing at forts 3 and 4 with their secondary armament finishing off what was left of the smoking ruins. There was no reply except from No 3 fort which fired three rounds all falling short. At 2-30 the Suffren and Charlemagne also closed in on forts 1 3 and 4. At 10 we ceased firing. The Triumph and Albion were then ordered to complete the destruction and closed right in to 1000 yards of No 1. About this time the Gaulois had one or two shots fired at her from a concealed battery behind Kume Kale. The Albion had meanwhile been dealing with fort No 4 and at 4-45 the left gun fired a round at her which burst short in the water. The Agememnon then went o to her support and fired a few rounds which ended the days operations.
Friday February 26th
Demolition parties of Marines were landed to destroy forts 1, 3 and 6 and succeeded in blowing up the guns suffering some casualties from snipers and premature explosions of charges.
British ships entered the Dardanelles and started attacking Fort No 8 Dardanus, The 1st Division of the Fleet now consisted of the Queen Elizabeth, Inflexible Agememnon and Lord Nelson. Meanwhile two transports of Marines had arrived. They were intended to be landed to hold Seddul Bahr Kume Kale and Yeni Shehr
March 1st and 2
Fort No 8 attacked and damaged and minesweepers swept under fire to within three thousand yards of Kephez Point. A line of mines was discovered by seaplane running N.W from No 8 fort. The French ships carried out a demonstration off Bulair.
The attempted landing of Marines at Kum Kale which was unsuccesfulowing to opposition encountered.
The Turks were in strong force and No 4 Fort was never reached. Yeni Shehr was howiver bombarded with twelve pounders with good results
On March 4th the concealed batteries on the Asiatic shore opened fire for the first time on the Canopus Irrestible and Cornwallis which were spotting for the Queen Elizabeth firing on Fort 20.
the Agememnon accompanied the Queen Elizabeth which went up to Gaba Tepe to fire over the peninsula. But the ships had to wlthdrw owing to a bettery of concealed howitzers. Agememnon returned to Tenedos on March 6th.
Sunday March 7th
The Agememnon received the following orders. ‘You are to take the Lord Nelson under your orders and proceed to the Dardaneles arriving 12-30 pm. You are to attack forts 13 and 19 in accordance with instructions laid down in my letter No 49 b to Contre Admiral Guepratte a copy of which has been delivered to you. Strict economy of ammunition must be exercised, If the reults are not commensurate with expenditure you should request permission to withdraw. The best line of approach is about one mile from the North shore’.
Shortly after noon the day being fine and clear the two ships neterd the Dardanelles and passed the Suffren Charlemagne and Gaulois further in shore. Gradually fort 13th was opened up off Suandere point at at 13-30 fire was opened with fire turret at 14000 yards. The range was soon found inspite of adverse wind which blew the smoke of the funnels into the control top. At 13-35 the forts at Kephez point opened fire hitting the Age’ armour. Immediately afterwards when 12000 yards off the Narrowsthe ship altered to starboard at increased speed
to 10 knotsimmediately coming under the fire of forts 13 and 19 firing four and five gun salvoes respectively every minute. The ship replied to No I3th with crashing broadsides every fifty seconds. The air was thick with cordite fumes but mor unpleasant were the enemy’s salvoes which fell in well calibrated groups. In first five minutes hit on armour. The Lord Nelson was tackling No 10th but for some time enemy devoted his attention to Agememnon which was steaming into a hail of projectiles added to by No 8 and other smaller batteries. Shots fell inchs away.
Twice the ship was straddled by salvoes but passed through their fall safely. Speed was increased to 14 knots and broadsides poured in from both sides. The Lord Nelson was also blazing away and the French ships also joined in. The ships seemed to be surrounded with falling shells which sent the water mast high. At 1pm the Agememnon when steamin down the Straits was badly hit on the quarterdeck by a large shell. This shell burst a 14in burst through the upper deck making a hole 16 feet round, the fragments of deck plating were hurled through the deck of the Ward Roomand wrecked the outboard end of the gunroom Splinters also pierced the maintop 100 feet above the Quarterdeck.
At 1-30 theforecastle was hit by two shells showers of splinters entering the fore turret and fore screen and right up to foretop but they failed to pierce the armour and did no material damage. The Lord Nelson was also hit three times splinters of one shell entering the turret and slightly wounding Captain Mc’Clintock. The effect of the broadsides was now beginning to tell by 2pm the enemy’s fire had considerably slackened. Severeal explosions occured behind the forts a particularly big one in No 19th from the
Lord Nelson’s firing. At 2-9 one gun on No 13 appeared to be hit direct and at 2-25 one gun was seen to leap from its carriage as the result of a salvoefalling slantways across the embrassure. At 2-39 the fire from the forts was completely silenced though a smaller calibre gun from No 14th opened up a disoultry fire at 1400 yards. the big forts had ranged 14500. By 3pm there was no firing of any kind from the forts but the ships were still under fire of some 6inch howitzers and smaller guns which were well dealt with by the French with rapid hurts of independent fire.
General Action of March 18th . Soon after March 7th the crews od the minesweepers were replaced from volunteers from the Fleet as the work was too hard and dangerous for the ordinary crews. News received of the victory of Neuve Chapelle and the sinking of the Dresden.
On may 17th Vice Admiral Carden left the Fleet for Malta and Rear Admiral de Roebeck assumed the rank of Vice Admiral and hoisted his flag in the Q.E. Captain Hayes Sadler (Ocean) took over his duties as senior officer of the 2nd Division. The new light crusier Phaeton arrived with Generals Ian Hamilton and D’Amade and Rear Admiral Wemyss senior Naval Officer at Port Mudros. . On the night of the 17th a Council of War was held on the Q.E. On the morning of the 18th a hot sun blazing down out of a cloudless sky and a faint breeze from the south west prevailing the first Div, weighed and stood down towards the Straits to conduct a deliberate bombardment out of range of the forts whilst later on the 2nd and 3rd Divs were to work in reliefs and to go in closer and endevour to overwhelm the enemy.
At 11am the Agememnon led the line in being subjected to a few shots from the concelade batteries between Aren Koi and Kume Kale. These w were silenced by the Prince George detailed to dela with any batteries on the Asiatic shore. The Triumph similary dealt with thosr on the Peninsula. Slowly the Squadron steamed in whilst the Destroyer Patrol fell astern and the four ships stopped and took up positions across the Straits abrest of Aren Koi. The Q.E was nearest the peninsula and taken in order the Agememnon Lord Nelson and Inflexible. At 11-25 the fore turret of the Agememon fired the shell bursting 14000 yards away in a cloud of smoke and earth against fort 13th. The action had begun.
Soon all four ships were firing deliberately round by round and at n noon the 15th inch of the Queen Elizabeth produced a terrific flash and explosion in fort 20 pointing to a big magazine explosion. These covering ships came under a fairly heavy fire from shore batterieswhi which could not be stopped. Between 12-45 and 8 1-10 the Agememnon was hit twelve times one shell bursting almost underneaty the conning tower. Teo twelve pounder guns were put out of action and the Navigator;s sea cabin was also wrecked. The Agememnon moved out of the centre of this concentration turning 32 points and throughout the day never came again under such a fire. Meanwhile shortly after noon the 3rd Division of four ships under Admiral Guepratte the Bouvel Gaulois Suffren and Chalmagne entered the Straits and steamed past the covering ships two on either side of the Channel. They steamed boldly up to within 9000 yards of the Narrows and opened up on the forts which replied vigorously. 5he Gaulois was badly hit foreward and had to leave the Straits in
sinking condition. Part of her crew were taken onto British ships but she eventually reached Rabbit Island and was run ashore being subsequently patched up and towed to Malta. At 1-45 the French ships began to retire and started down the Straits at high speed.
At 1-51 the Bouvet on the Asiatic side appeared to be stuck by a large projectile just abrest the mainmast and above her armour belt. The accident may have been due to a mine but be this as it may a tremendous volume of black smoke and yellow was seen to issue from her side. A large magazine had exploded. Heeling with fearful rapidity to starboard a terrible sight to those in our foretop she still steamed ahead plunging her sinking bow into the waves. In less than a minute she was on her beam ends the masts lying along the water masses of smoke rising amidships and her port b broadside pointing disconsolately into the air. Then she turned right over and sank by the stern boiler explosions sending fountains of water and debros to the surface. In 95 seconds the Bouvet had disappeared. Picket boats and destroyers rushed to the rescue and inspite of the fire from various batteries picked up some fifty or sixty from the wreckage.
For 90 seconds the ships overwhelmed by the catastrophie cesade their fire. Before this at 1-15 The Inflexible had suffered considerable damage. A large fire broke out on her forebridge and at the same time her foretop was struck by a shell which killed or wounded e everyone in it except one man.. She quitted the line for a space to deal with the damage. . He picket boat was also holed by a shell splinter and had to be abandoned.
So the fight raged whilst the 2nd Division under Captain Hayes Sadler entered and relieved the French ships. This Division consisted of the Ocean Irresistible [space] ? The Queen E and Lord Nelson were also hit. Shortly after 3pm our fire started a blaze in an oil tank behind No I3th and for 20 minutes a huge dense oall of black smoke arose over the Narrows. No 19 now opened fire on the 2nd Division the splashes of the I4in shells were prodigous raising columns of water to an immense heighth.
The minesweepers closed in at 3-10 to sweep a Channel to Kephez Point. A few shrapnel were fired at them but on the whole the concentration on the big ships left them unmolested. They went up to the 2nd Division and turned running down with sweeps out exploding one mine in the sweep and bringing two others to the surface. These were fired on by picquet boats. It has been though that the previous sweeping of this Channel may have released the mines which subsecquently caused such serious loss to the fleet.
At all events shortly after 4 the Inflexible was struck by a mine foreward which flooded her fore submerged flat. She was able to leave the Straits under her own steam and to proceed to Tenedos. At 4-15 the Irrestible was also struck and listed to starboard. Caught in a back ourrent she drifted up towards Kephez. Destroyers went to her assistance, and inspite of a galling fire from the forts and field batteries brought off all her crew. The Ocean was then ordered to take her in tow and inspite of
a heavy fire was getting into position when she suffered the same fate and had to be abandoned. The forts still kept up a fire, though whether the failing light disturbed their aim, they did not take the fullest advantage of such a great opportunity leaving it rather to mobile field pieces which were apparently hurried round to Kephez Point.
Original of "The New Armada"
[Text incorporates handwritten corrections by E.A.B.]
The New Armada
Who will ever forget the magnificent spectacle our fleet presented when the expedition first sailed from Mudros for better or for worse on the afternoon of April 24th 1915. Since then so many things have happened in the Eastern Mediterranean that those early days have faded into the background and have been forgotten by many. In addition to the hundreds of great Tranpsorts drawn from every sea in which the British Flag has ever flown every type of warship was represented. There was the mighy Queen Elizabeth fling the Admiral's flag the wonder of all eyes and the admiration of every Colonial Britishier India Frenchman or Senegalise who had been brought togther for this, the last of the great crusades of the Cross against the Cresecnt.
Then down the scale were the Inflexible the Lord Nelson the Agememnon the last two the greatest of our pre-Dreadnaught battleships the London-Queen Prince of Wales and Implacable. The others like the Canopus and Prince George the Albion and Goliath a few birthdays older and cruisre of all sorts too numerous to innumerate. This mighty Armada should have struck terror into the minds of the Turks but that stubborn and extremely stupid people have little or no sense of fear and were probably rather flattered at the immensity of the forces brought against them. After all this same Armada failed to force the Dardanelles on March 8th and had seen three battleships the Irrestibable, Ocean,and Bouvet go to the bottom and several more retire none the better for their trip up the Straits.
Who will ever forget those early bombardments the like of which the World is hardly likely to see again against land forces. Who does not recall that closing scene on May 8th at five pm when every battleship opened up on theTurkish positions with 15 in 12 inch 9inch 7.5s 6inch and every other availabl inch. The earth shook, the skies became overcast and Achi Baba disapeared from view under immense clouds of rolling smoke and bursting flames. It was magnificent. It made you feel drunk with the sense of power which lies within thes steel walls.
[Text incorporates handwritten corrections by E.A.B.]
But the Turk not being of an imaginative turn of mind, refused to play the role assigned to him and to run away shrieking to Allah for mercy and protection against such devilry. On the contrary he sat tight in his trenches and successfully resisted our infantry when they went forward to the attack. Now unless we carried the Straits by a coup de main it was obvious from the start that our fleet would not be able to remain indefinitely off the coast because the Huns far away in the North Sea would be certain to send some submarines to assist their ally, and in addition there was always the chance of some Austrian submarines escaping the blockade of the Adriatic. So just for three weeks after the landing the Fleet was left in peace and quiet and then the trouble began. Rumours began to ripple down the Mediterranean. First from Gibraltar, then from Malta later from Cape Matapan and then from Smyrna.
Now it was time for the giants to take some precautions against these amphibious Davids and their deadly slings. The mighty Queen Elisabeth faded away towards the setting sun to reappear in all her glory under the northern star. Others followed her course. Only such ships as were considered necessary for the safety of the army remained off the coast.
There were scares abd more scares followed by irrefutable proods that the Huns were beneath us. Then came the sinking of the Triumph followed two days later by the Majestic. The fleet had to retire to sheltered harbours protected by booms and nets. The Turks on the hills above us looked on exultingly. They were so carried away by the successes of their ally that they issued a pathetic appeal to our soldiers in the trenches pointing out how they had been deserted by the Fleet, that now no hope remained for them, adding that if they would surrender they would be certain of good treatment and a freindly reception on arriving in Constantinople. The ‘Swinehunds’ as they called the big guns of our battleships had gone. In their ingorance they imagined they were going to enjoy a respite from big gun fire until the end of the war. In their ignorance they imagined they were going to enjoy a respite from big gun fire until the end of the war. They forgot one thing in their ignorance, The Anglo-Saxon Saxon race is always surprised but never beaten. We are never ready for anything except taxation but we have a marvellous talent for improvisation and adopting fresh means
[Text incorporates handwritten corrections by E.A.B.]
to meet new and unexpected problems. Our mighty fleet of Pre-Dreadnaught had suddenly become useless and we could not afford to risk the loss of any more battleships. Already five had gone the Irrestibable Ocean Bouvet Triumph and Majestic more than we had ever lost before in any period of our naval history. The Turk had some real reason to feel elated. For the next two months he saw but little off his coast except an occasional battleship, some small cruisres and the ever present Destroyers. Of course, according to his theories, our fleet having been forced to retire we should have acknowledged ourselves beaten and taken the army or what was left of it off the coast. He waited for this happy hour in vain.
Meanwhile what was happenying. The brains at home were working hard to get back command of the surface of the seas. Rumours again came rippling down the Sunny Mediterranean of strange craft having been sighted on their way out the like of which had not been seen before. Our experts were in no way discouraged by the enforced idleness of the battleships. They are no use for for this kind of warfare. They were never built for this kind of work, they argued therefore we must invent something different type of craft which can carry the guns of a battleship without having their vulnerability to submarine attack. Only a nation with absolute command of the sea and with unlimited shipbuilding resources could have set to work to substitute one fleet with another of an entirely different type of fleet in the middle of a great war at a few hours notice, while at the same time blockading the German fleet, and holding all the worlds trade routes.
The rumours about craft of strange shape became more and more definite. One fine day in July the first of them arrived. She was unlike any other vessel ever seen in these parts having a low freeboard almost flush, with the eater a nine 9.2 in her bows and a six inch astern. She looked more like a Chinese Pagoda than a ship but she talked like one all right as the Turks found a few days later when she went out and tried a few shots for practice at Asia. She was followed by another little bird of passage even smaller and lower having two brand new beautiful six inch guns 'the same as the Lizzies’ as the crew delight to tell you.
[Text incorporates handwritten corrections by E.A.B.]
She was so small and so young and so new that no one had even taken the trouble to baptise her so she carried a number in lieu of a name. Her crew of seventy can hardly be said to live on her, there is no room for that they apparently hang on anywhere they can. I do not think it is possible for everyone to be on deck or down below at the same time. They must take it in turns. This little craft had come all the way from England under her own steam. ‘Yes we had quite a comfortable passage for the sea was fine but what she do in winter in a gale God only knows why the smallest seas come right over her decks’. This in answer to my enquiry. The Turks must have regarded the new arrival with mingled contempt and amusement after their experiences of the mighty Q E and others, but they sung a different tune when one fine day she went outside to calibrate and they found that this baby of the deep could throw a houndred pounds of high explosive for twelve miles without inconveniening herself.
The next arrival caused something of a sensation not only to the enemy but to our own troops. On afternoon there appeared at the entrance of Kephaos Bay an amazing looking object. She did not steam up, but rather wobbled up like a huge goose primed for Michelmase. It was impossIble to tell at a distance whether she was broadside on or showing her bows or her stern. She seemed to be quite round. Her high sides held aloft an absolutely flat deck on which nothing showed except an enormous turret from which projected two guns of gigantic length. whilst up from her centre was a huge striped tripod carrying a kind of oblong jewel box the exact replica on a large scale of that in which the Deli Llama bears about with him the ashes of his first embodiment. With great difficulty, steering vily, she made her way through the crowded harbour and dropped her anchor with the eyes of thousands rivetted on her. No one had ever seen the like of her before. Sensation followed sensation. Thousnads of soldiers of the New Army recently arrived watched her from the shore. Her crew began to bathe. Apparently all had the power of walking on the water. You saw them come down the ladder and instead of disappearing into the sea
[Text incorporates handwritten corrections by E.A.B.]
they walked along her whole length and having distributed themselves thus proceede to dive into the deep water beyond. We set off in boats to investigate this strange phenomenon and then found that just below the surface her sides bule out ten feet or so and curve under. This is the secret and the mystery. In that bulge man has concentrated his ingenuity to defeat the submarine. If a torpedo strikes her side, and this is difficult for these craft only draw some ten feet of water, it will explode amidst a variety of substances which I must not mention and the hull of the vessel herself will escape injury. These huge Monitors carry naught but two great fourteen inch guns and some anti air crat armament. They are roomy and comfortable, unlike their smaller neighbours. Their speed is however slow on account of their shape and they steer badly but at present their development is only in its infancy and they are interesting because in them you see the germ of what will probably be the battleship of the future. They can hardly be discribed as graceful and alonsgide neat destroyers and elegant cruisers stern on they look like a fat old dowager chaperoning some young and graceful friends at a ball. The first time one of these Monitos went out to calibrate up the Dardanelles she gave the poor old Turk a great shock. Her guns go off with a terrible sullen roar and carry nearly two tons of metal fifteen to twenty miles. This remined the Turks the early days of May when the Q.E. was still around. Later on three more arrived giving us 8 14 inch with which to bombard the enemy's positions in addition to a vast number of smaller Monitors of all shapes and sizes, some with names and some with numbers but each armed with the very latest weapons of precision. Then the New Fleet began to settle to its work sallying forth day after day and bombarding the enemy’s positions being spotted by the balloon ships and aeroplanes, and the Turks and the Huns began to grasp the sad fact that we had once more regained the command of the narrow waters and that the great effort which had led to the retirement of our fleet had been wasted after all. Later on two other strange vessels the Endymion and Theseus 25 years old also protected
[Text incorporates handwritten corrections by E.A.B.]
by a formidable waistbelt similar to that warn by the Monitors. It has not improved their appearance for the protection is kind of hung from their sides by steel stanchions and wire ropes. They look as if they had just survived a terrible gale in which most of their fittings had been washed away. These old cruisers of the Sir W White epoch have been born again. They and the Monitors fear no submarine. It is true that they have not yet been attacked or at least struck by a torpedo, and no one will venture an opinion as to what would happen if they were, but their fat round sides give much the same appearance of solidity and security as you get when contemplating the Aldermen at a City Dinner.
The big Monitors are as steady as a rock at sea but they are no beds of roses for the coal dust penetrates everywhere and they are almost impossible to keep clean. When they fire their huge guns the concussion blows great clouds of smoke and flame from the funnel smothering everything astern. They are not really ships at all but floating gun platforms. Nevertheless they serve their purpose well and as an experiment have proved a great success. You have some strange experiences if you try and board one in a rough sea. The waves break over the projecting sides just below the surface causing a long line of raging surf. Unless you are very careful before you know where you are you may be washed ashore figuratively speaking. That is to say yuou are cast up on the break water and likely to be dashed to pieces against the sides.
Many a time have cocswains unsuspecting the existance of this submarine protection dashed their bows against it to their immense chagrin and astonishment. Thus gradually throughout the month of July our new fleet assembled ready to land the new army and assist its efforts to break through the Turkish lines. It was a marvelous transformation to bring about in such a short space of time. It gave you a real glimpse of our huge marine resources and of the ability of our Navy to meet any new situation which may be suddenly thrust upon them. Of the great part played by the Navy in the landing at Soulva Bay and in the subsecquent operations but little had been written up to the present.
[Image pages 28 to 35 are a version of the ‘New Armada’ , pages 22 to 27, with some minor changes to the text, and have not been reproduced]
Last days of the Majestic
The Last days of the Majestic
The sinkimg of the Triumph caused a fresh and very serious problem for the Admiral Commanding in Chief. As long as this submarine or submarines remained in the neighbourhood he could not leave his battleships exposed off the coast to their attacks, whilst at the same time he had to consider the needs of the army and the amount of artillery support which the general might require to keep down the fire of the Turkish batteries on the European and Asiatic shores. Immediately after the crew of the Triumph had been picked up and transferred to Trawlers the whole of the available Destroyer craft started a tremendous hunt after the enemy.
Throughout the early part of the afternoon reports kept on coming in of her movements. First she was said to be making her way south from Gaba Tepe towards Cape Helles and everyone on the Swiftsure remained on the alert as we were still at anchor and had no nets even if these old nets offer any protection, which is extremely doubtful. At three thirty it was decided to send the Swiftsure back to a protected harbor, Mudros, and for the Admiral to transfer his flag to the twenty year old Majestic which was now the only battleship left off Cape Helles. She lay at anchor a few houndrd yards from us with her nets down. It took a very short time to transfer the Admiral’s baggage to his new quarters and after bidding farewell to the officers of the Swiftsure he was rowed across to the Majestic and the Swiftsure shortly afterwards disappeared at top speed reaching her new destination without mishap. The Admiral took me with him to his new flagship. The Majestic was the oldest British man of war
at the Dardanelles having been launched just over twenty years ago. Then she was the pride of the British Fleet and the envy of all Foreign nations at at once became Flagship of the Channel Squadron. For years in fact she remained a flagship until superceded by vessels of superior power. But her glory had long since departed and for several years before the present war she had been practically on the scrapheap and was actually waiting to be sold out of the service at the commencement of the present struggle. But necessity knows no age limit. When the expedition to the Dardanelles was decided upon she was refitted and a crew consisting chiefly of old reservists was placed on board her whilst most of her officers were also drawn from the R.N.R. Out in the Mediterranean she has done her full share of work up the Straits and bombarding the enemy’s positions. In fact it may be said of her as was said of Cicero ‘Nothing in her life became her as her end’. Now for the last forty eight hours of her existance, owing to the immense influence of hostile submarine naval operations the old Majestic the veteran of the fleet after twenty years of laborious and honourable service all over the world found herself once more a Flagship proudly flying the Rear Admiral’s flag and the omly battleship left off Cape Helles to protect our army ashore, and to brave the terrors of the enemy’s submarines.
That afternoon the Vice Admiral came down to Cape Helles to hold a consultation with the Rear Admiral and the two commanders met the one on the Majestic and the other on a small yacht bought of a resident of Constantinople earlier in the war. Such is the malign influence exercised by submarine. Throughout the afternoon of the
twenty fifth of May our destroyers kept up their unceasing chase of the hostile craft or crafts. They were sighted more than once beneath the surface but at too great a depth to ram and after 4.40 pm were seen
no more. Throughout the day the old Majestic remained defiantly at her post with the Admiral’s flag proudly flying from her foremast. At eight o’clock that evening we were told we were not to remain at anchor off Cape Helles but were to run to shelter to a certain destination which must be nameless. Escorted by four destroyers we dashed at top speed across the moon lit ocean the old vessel doing wonderful time considering her age and the wear on her engines. In fact someone remarked ‘She never did as well as this on her original trials’. That night at midnight there was another scare that the enemy’s submarines were trying to get through the boom. The crew were called to their stations but the alarm came to nought and probably only belonged to the vivid and harassed imaginations of those on the destroyers guarding the entrance.
On the following day the last of her existance the Majestic returned to her old anchorage off Cape Helles to resume her chaperoning of the troops on shore. I do not think we had any submarine scares that day and towards evening there seemed to be a general feeling that at any rate for the time being the enemy had been driven off or forced to retire to some base for oil and stores. But everyone on board felt our security was only temporarly and that very shortly the Submarines would again shoe their periscopes in our neighbourhood. That evening May twenty sixth we did not go back to a sheltered port but moved in
closer to the shore In front of W beach so that instead of being outside the lines of transports we were actually anchored inside the outer line in a position where it would be extremely difficult for a submarine to get a clear shot at us. I remember remarking at the time ‘that in former days the British Navy protected British commerce but that now owing to the presence of submarines British commerce had to protect the British Navy’.
Now that I come to describe the last hours of the poor old Majestic I can only tell the story of what my owne ezperiences were and of what I saw of the vessel and crew when she finally plunged to Iher doom. Personally, although had moved so close in shore and inside the outer line of transports, I felt no great sense of security and felt perfectly certain that the end might come at any moment. For that reason I had not slept in my cabin for several nights either on the Swiftsure but had my mattress carrid up on deck having long since made up my I mind to get off the ship the moment she was struck and swim as far awayas possible before she turned over and made her final plunge, as I do not profess to be a great swimmer and was detremined not to get mixed up her her decks or dragged down by the suction.
That night we sat up rather later than usual in the wardroom and I was just retiring to rest when I met the Principle Medical Officer who asked me if I had a life-belt. I was the possessor of one of those which ressemble bycle tyres and kept it blown up in my cabin but it was inclined to leak so I told the P.H.0 I could do with an other. He presented me with a similar one only quite new. In fact it had never been blown out.
I then retired to my cabin undressed put a little money in notes in my pooket carefully wrapped up all my invaluable notes I had made on the campaign in a waterproof coat and placed them in a small leather bag which unfortunately I left below and did not take it with me on deck. It was a beautiful night clear and bright with the sea as calm as a lake. I went up on the after shelter deck which is just above the after Turret where my bed had been placed lay down and was soon fast asleep. I do not think I woke up once during the night and slept soundly until six fifteen am when I called out to the sentry ‘What’s the time’ He replied six fifteen Sir’ so I turned over and went to sleep again. The subsecquent times I learnt after the catatrosphie as they were all taken from the shore. It was at six forty that I was aroused by men rushing by me and someone trod on or stumbled against my chest. This awoke me and I called out ‘What’s the matter. A voice replied from somehwere ‘There’s a torpdo coming’. I just had time to scramble to my feet when there came a dull heavy explosion about fifteen feet forward of the shelter deck on the port side. The explosion must have been very low down as there was no shock from it to be felt on deck.
The old Majestic immediately gave jerk over towards port and remained with a heavy list. Then there came a sound as if the contents of every pantry in the world had fallen at the same moment. I never before heard such a clattering as everything loose in her tumbled about. You could tell at once she had been mortally wounded somewhere in her vitals and you felt instinctively she would not long stay afloat. Although I had been prepared for days for just such an imergency the ac
[ac]tual realisation came as a great shook. However having mapped out my programme in advance I proceedd to carry it through. I stooped down to pick up my lifebelt and then to my intense disgust I discovered it was not blown.out. When the Principal Medical Officer presented it to me on the previous evening I had intended to do so but must have forgotten all about it. Thus the first part of my plans namely not to take to the water unless encircled by a good belt was at once knocked on the head. I decided not to loose any time over it now but to get off the ship at once as she was listing more over and seemed likely to turn turtle at any moment. I was swept down the ladder to the main deck by the crowd rushing by me and from there made my way to the Quarterdeck.
The Quarterdeck was crowded with men nearly all dressed and many wearing lifebelts who were climbing over the side and jumping into the sea all determined to get clear before she went down. Just after the explosion a cloud of black smoke came up and got down my throat and in my eyes so that all this time I seemed to be in semi darkness. I looked over the side saw that I was clear of the torpedo nets and then climbed over intending to slide down a stanchion into the water and then swim clear. But again my programme was upset by unforeen events for just as I had both legs over the rail there came a rush from behind and I was pushd over the side falling with considerable force onto the netshelf which is where the nets are stowed when not out. I made no long stay on the netshelf but at once rebounded into the sea and went under. I came up at once still holding my useless belt and having got some of the water out of my eyes took a look round. The sea was crowded with men swimming about and calling for assistance.
I think that many of these old reservists who formed the majority of the crew had forgotten how to swim or else had lost all faith in their own powers. A few yards from me I saw a boat towards which everyone in the water seemed to be making. She was already packed with men whilst others were hanging on to her gunwall. I swam towards her mixed up with a struggling crowd and managed to get both hands firmly on the gunwall but found it quite impossible to drag myself on board. I looked round at the Majestic which was lying only a few yards away at an acute angle and I remembr thinking that if she turned right over our boat would probably be dragged under with her.
It is very tiring work hanging on by both hands with your feet trailing in the water and I was beginning to wonder whether I would not be wiser to let go and swim away when my right foot caught in what is known as a mangrip on the bilge keel. This a small slit in the keel which enables you to hang on in the vent of the boat being overturned. This gave me a lot of additional support and I felt much more comfortable.
A minute later or even less a sailor lent over the side seized me by the shoulders and dragged me inside scraping the little remainging skin I had saved from the fall on the netshelf off my legs and arms. However at the time I was too delighted to find myself on board to notice such minor trials. I then had time to look round. The boat was absolutely packed with men. She was a small cutter intended to carry at ths most thirty and evenually ninety four were taken off her. We were sitting on one another, others were standing up and many were still clinging onto the gunwall begging to be taken on board which
was of course out of the question. The Majestic now presented an extraordinary spectacle. She was lying over on her side having such a list that it was no longer possible to stand on her deck. About one third of the crew still seemed to be hanging onto the rails or standing on her side as if hesitating to jump into the sea. All around the sea was full of men some swimming towards neighbouring ships others apparently having their work cut out to keep themselves afloat. All the vessels in the neighbourhood were lowering boats and many steam launches were hastening to pick up survivors but they did not dare stand in too close for fear of being dragged under in the final plunge.
I was just thinking what a magnificent photograph the scene w would make when someone called out 'If you dont loose that rope you will be dragged under’. I am told it was the Captain Talbot who was still hanging onto the Quarterdeck who saw the danger we were in and who gave the warning just in time.For in the general confusion we had not noticed that our boat was attacked by a rope to the end of the torpedo boom. In fact she belonged to the Majestic and had been lying out all night. This discovery caused great excitement on board and many to escape this immenent disaster preffered to entrust themselves once more to the sea jumping overboard with oars in their hands. I was hesitating whether to follow suit when someone in the bows managed to clear or cut the rope and we were free. A very few seconds later the Majestic rolled right over to port and sank bottom upwards like a great stone without any further warning. There came a dull rumblimng sound a swirly of water and steam for a moment her green bottom was exposed
to view and then the old Flagship disappeared forever except for a small piece of her ram which remained above the water as her bows were lying on a shallow sandbank. As she turned over and sank a sailor ran the whole length of her keel and finally sat astride the ram where he was subsecquently taken off without even getting a wettinng. The final plunge was so sad but grand that for a few seconds you forgot about the large numbers of officers and men who were still clinging to her like limpets when she went down.
There was a great deal of cries and shouting as these unfortunates were precipitated into the water mixed up with the foam and steam. Some were dragged down by the fatal nets before tkey could get clear others were probably killed Inside by the explosion.
Nevertheless the loss of life was small numbering only fifty. This was due to the fact that most of the men had lifebelts, the majority had time to clear the ship before she turned over, we were anchored in shallow water so the suction was small and above all assistance was promptly forthcoming from the numerous ships’s boats and launches which hastened to pick up those struggling in the water. The final plunge was watched by thousands of troops on shore and by thousands of men afloat. It was a sight which will not easily be forgotten. Captain Talbot the moment the ship was struck rushed forward with his Yeoman of Signals to seize and either save or destroy the Confidential Signal Book. This was accomplished and then when the ship went down he was thrown into the water but was picked up by a launch. Then seeing two of his men in danger of drowning he plunged into the sea again and saved them both.
Of course it was impossible to tell until late in the day who had been saved and who had been drowned, as the survivors were picked up by various boats and taken to different ships or on shore and subsecquenly transferred to Mudros Bay. But happily every officer got clear including Admiral Sir Stewart Nicholson. I was taken on board a French ship toghther with the ninety survivors from this crowded cutter where we were received with every kindness and attention. Dry clothes were served out to us and we were given coffee and brandy by our kind Allies. By a merciful dispensation of providence in the case of neither the Triumph or the Majestic did the magazines blow up otherwise there would have been hardly any survivors. As it was owing to the prompt assistance forthcoming the loss of life on both vessels was small and was chiefly due to the causes I have already named namely men being dragged down in the nets when they took the final plunge.
The Coming of the Submarines
The Coming of the Submarines
It was on May 22nd that the actual presence of submarines in the neigbourhood of the Dardanelles was proved beyond a shadow of doubt. At this I time I was living on the Battleship Swiftsure the flagship of Rear Admiral Sir Stewart Nicholson having previous been in turn on the Triumph London Implacable and Cornwallis. At one thirty pm on May 22nd just as we had finished lunch the periscope of a submarine was sighted by a destroyer and also from the Battleship Prince George, approaching from the direction of Rabbit Island. The Prince George fired two rounds which had the effect of making her dive. The danger was imminent as all the battleships crusiers and transports were at anchor and presented a splendid target.
Immediately, the Destroyers whose duty it is to guard the fleet dashed out at full speed to cover this mass of vessels throwing up dense columns of black smoke as they increased their speed. They hunted up and down the spot where she had first been sighted endevouring to ram her or to force her to rise and disclose her position. As if by majic every battleship and every transport in a position to do so weighed anchor and steamed away at full speed. It was a weird sight and also had its humorous side for a stranger suddenly coming upon the scene and not being cognisant of the facts might have thought that the whole Fleet had gone suddenly mad. Every vessel was steaming about at full speed not in any fixed course but discribing circles and half circles, then turning in their tracks or
dashing madly to port and starboard determined at all events not to allow their illusive enemy the chance of a straight shot. But the Submarine did not appear again that day and the alarm having subsided we returned to our anchorage, whilst the indefatigable destroyers formed a moving cordon round the Fleet. That night all the vessels whose presence off the coast was not essential were ordered to various points for safety , but the Swiftsure remained at her old anchorage off Cape Helles togther with some of the older battleships, whilst the Canopus Vengenace and Albion patrolled the coast round the Australian positions at Gaba Tepe but did not anchor.
The first fruits of the Submarine menace were seen on the following morning when the battleship Albion went ashore south of Gaba Tepe in a local fog at four am. As soon as it became light the Turkish field batteries opened up a tremendous bombardment on her but fortunately they could not bring any heavy guns or howitzers to bear.
One of the Turkish battleships up the Straits probably the Barbarossa fired a few rounds of eleven inch without scoring a hit and was herself driven away by one of our battleships. Alarmist reports on the condition of the Albion reached us at dawn on the Swiftsure but they fortunately turned out to be without foundation. The Albion was report ted to be firm on the bottom and subjected to such a terrific fire that it had been decided to abandon her and to take her crew off in destroyers which were standing by. When the light became stronger we on the Swiftsure could see her lying close inland and the enemy’s shrapnel bursting all around her. Amongst others vessels which went to her aid
was the yacht Triad which also came in for a heavy fire and was hit several times. In fact this yacht without any armour or protection behaved with the greatest gallantry as also did the destroyers. About 4.30 am the battleship Canopus which has played such a gallant and varied role all over the world in this was stood in close to the Albion and got a wire hawser aboard and attempted to tow her off under a very heavy fire. But the cable immediately snapped. Two others were however made fast and the towing recommenced.
The crew of the Albion were all ordered aft and made to jump on the quarter deck to try and shift her bows off the sandbank, at the same time the Albion’s foreturret and fore six inch guns opened up a tremendous bombardment on the Turkish positions to lighten the ship and to try and shift her by the concussion of the guns. For a long time all these efforts were of no avail but in the end at about ten am perserverance and the towing of the Canopus prevailed and we had the great satisfaction of seeing the two vessels glide slowly into deep water without either having suffered much harm. The Albion was hit over two houndred times by shrapnel and common shell which had little or no effect on her thick armour. The casualties amongst the crew were also few.
The remainder of the day passed without any further definite news of the enemy's submarines although it was reported that one was seen making in the direction of Smyrna whilst other reports credited her with having gone up the Dardanelles. In fact no one was sure whether there were two boats or one operating in our midst. That night we remained at our old anchorage off Cape Helles. On the following day
May 24th there was an armistace at Gaba Tepe for the burial of the dead but we had further scares of submarines off Southern Gallipoli. Everyone was in fact on the ‘qui vive’ and determined not to be caught napping so that any object in the water was apt to be taken for a periscope. Thus alarms were caused by floating tins, empty barrels, a waterlogged boat and more than once by the bodies of dead horses which I have an Inconvenient and most objectionable habit of floating with one of their legs in the air which exactly ressembles the periscope of a submarine.
What may be asked was the effect of these continual alarms on the crews of our ships, and what are the feelings of the average individual when he has to pass day after day night after night expecting to be blown up by an enemy he cannot even see? They vary according to the character of the crew. On a ship like the Swiftsure carrying nearly all active service ratings highly disciplined and as keen as mustard the whole thing seemed to be regarded as a form of sport. The men actually got up a sweepstake the winner to be the first man who actually sighted a periscope. There was in fact the greatest keenness on board to stamp out these pests. The fourteen pounders were kept loaded with their crews on watch by day and asleep around them at night ready to fire at a moment’s notice. Mixed up with this feeling of menance and invisible danger there is also a sense of the ridiculous which lends a humorous aspect to the affair. You feel so strong and powerful on a battleship solidly protected by armour that it seems unreal and unnatural that a small craft ‘somewhere under the Mediterranean’ manned
by about thirty officers and men should have it in her power to inflict on you a vital injury without any warning. You feel much the same as Goliath must have felt just before the fatal stone came wizzing from David’s sling. You have an impression in your mind that although the illusive little beggar may possibly sink another ship he could never do any harm to the one you are on. Or at least this was my feeling until the enemy struck his first deadly blow. Then there is the never failing amusement caused by the various ways each individual on board provides for his own safety.
The number and variety of the lifebelts carried is endless. Some believe in a colar which is blown out and warn round the neck. Someone else will tell you confidentially that two men who by way of experiment jumped in the water with these on both had their necks broken. Others carry belts which ressemble bycle tyres cut in half. You blow these out and tie them round your waist either on deck or after you have reached the water. But the Gieve waistcoats are the most popular of all. They are an ordinary waistcoat which you can wear under your coat and which when the emergency arises you blow out throgh a tube in the form of a lifebelt all around you. Others declare all lifebelts hamper your movements in the water and prefer to trust to their swimming powers. It is certainly amusing to see a lot of thin officers and men suddenly swelling to gigantic proportions in moments of danger as they quietly blow up their waistcoats underneath their coats.
The older crews consisting chiefly of Reservists feel the strain of this constant submarine menance more than those manned by the active service ratings. When you are a father or a grandfather and well over
fifty you do not look forward with such indifference to the prospect of having your ship suddenly blown up and yourself forced to take a c cold bath at any hour of the night or day.
Events now developed fast. At eight o’clock on the morning of May 25th I was down below on the Swiftsure when l suddenly heard two fourteen pounders fired in rapid succession and the sound of men running to their stations. On going on deck I found the alarm had been caused by the periscope of a submarine which had appeared on our port bow only three houndred yards away. Our alert gunners did not loose a second but fired at her and she disappeared below the surface. Why she did not discharge a torpedo remains a mystery as she had our ship as a target only three houndred yards off and also the Majestic and Agememnon quite close. It is thought she was trying to make the entrance to the Dardanelles and came up blind amonsgt the ships and was scared by our guns and the small craft trawlers and destroyers all around before she could lay on any target. But we all knew we had escaped disastee by a hairsbreadth. Of course the alarm was immediately given and our destroyers were off after her like a flash.
A little later she was reported to be making towards Gaba Tepe. At ten thirty am the battleship Vengenace which was crusing up and down in that direction reported she had been fired at but missed - another most lucky escape. There were also remours of another submarine having been reported off Rabbit Island so it seemed there were two in the immediate neighbourhood.
I had occasion to go on shore that morning and did not return until lunch time.
we were all at lunch in the wardroom of the Swiftsure when a signalman entered with his cap in his hand and went up to the Commander saying ‘ beg pardon Sir the Triumph is listing’. This news came as a thunderbolt and everyone left their luncheon and rushed up on the quarterdeck. The news was indeed true. The Triumph was at anchor or else steaming very slowly up and down off the coast in her old position south of Gaba Tepe when she was struck by two torpedoes. Her nets were down at the time but made not the slightest difference as both torpedoes either passed through, or else underneath them. When we reached the deck she was already listing and it was obvious she would turn right over in a few minutes.
On these occasions one battleship is not allowed to go to the assistance of another through fear of being torpedoed by the same submarine which will probably remain hanging about the neighbourhood awaiting just such a chance. In any case the Swiftsure was at anchor and we could never have got there in time. When she was struck there was a Trawler and a Destroyer quite close to the Triumph and these two vessels at once went to her assistance to pick up the crew whom we could see jumping off the side into the water. All the Destroyers off Cape Helles, in our neighbourhood, also got up steam and dashed at top speed across the ocean almost blotting out the horizon with the columns of black smoke thrown out by their eager funnels.
It was a dramatic sight from the quarterdeck of the Swiftsure and also on the quarterdeck itself. The two vessels are sister ships having been purchased from Chili to prevent their sale to Russia in the Russo-Japanese War, and we on board all had in mind our narrow escape
that very morning when the periscope of this same submarine had arisen within three houndred yards of us. The Admiral had come on deck with the other officers and all stood in a silent group behind their chief gazing at the stricken battleship some four miles away. The scene ressembled Orchardson’s picture of the Last Sight of France of Napoleon and his comrades on board the Bellephron. The Triumph was listing more and more over. She seemed to be struggling against some horrid Invisible monster which was dragging her slowly over. Elsewhere the scene remained the same. Our guns were bombarding the Turkish positions and their’s were leisurely responding.
Off Gaba Tepe you could see the other warships keeping their customary stations whilst all around us at the enterance of the Straits lay our transports and warships and those of the French. The thought involuntarily occured 'Whose turn will come next’ For seven minutes the group on the deck of the Swiftsure watched the dying struggle of the Triumph in absolute silence. Then suddenly she seemed to grow weary of the hopelesss fight against these invisible forces and exactly eight minutes after being struck she gave a final roll and turned upside down her red bottom alone remaining visible. For half an hour we watched her floating bottom upards and then suddenly she gave a final plunge and disappeared forever beneath the waves amidst boiling surf and clouds of steam. ‘The Triumph has gone’ remarked the Admiral slowly shutting up his telescope and turning on his heel to return to his quarters. The group of the quarterdeck immediately dispersed each to his own reflections on this tragic event
Original Memorandum Drawn Up By Me On The Situation In Gallipoli June 1, 1916. (1915 ? M.F.)
Review Of The Situation In Gallipoli
It is not necessary to dwell on the initial error of attempting to force the Dardanelles with the Fleet alone, as that is now universally recognised. All our subsequent difficulties and the position in which the Allied Armies now stand are due to this cause. The Turks were given ample warning of our intentions and it was easy for them to judge that we had no intention of abandoning the campaign without making a great effort on land. It should have been obvious that the same brains which had shown so much skill in the defence of the Straits by sea would display just as much energy and determination in preparing the land defences
But it cannot be maintained that our preparations for the land campaign were based on any such supposition or even on a reasonable estimate of the enemy’s numbers or of the skill which the Germans would show in handling the Turkish armies in Gallipoli, In spite of the lessons of March 18th, we still persisted in underestimating our opponents and his powers of resistance. It does not seem to have been recognised after March 18th that the whole character of the campaign had fundamentally changed, namely, that the army was no longer an auxiliary of the Fleet but must take upon its shoulders the entire burden of clearing the Gallipoli Peninsula. After March 18th. the Fleet had in fact become the auxiliary of the. Army, But there seems still to have remained the idea that
only a small force was necessary to carry the Turkish positions on the European side up to the Narrows and then it would be a comparatively simple matter to clear the Straits of mines and allow the Fleet through to demonstrate off Constantinople.
The immensity of the task ahead of the Allies was certainly not realised when the army landed on April 25th. and even to this day there seems to be a general reluctance to face the true facts of the situation. Also, apparently, there was a very natural disinclination to turn what was originally intended as a minor operation of war into a major one which would involve hundreds of thousands of men at the East of Europe at a moment when both armies in the West were evidently preparing for a decisive trial of strength. Yet, as a matter of fact, it should have been obvious that the attack on Gallipoli had already become a major operation of war directly we showed our hand by the disastrous Fleet action of March 18th. It was obvious that the Germans would leave no stone unturned to render the defences of the peninsula impregnable. It would seem also as if our information as to the enemy’s numbers and the disposition of his troops have been sadly at fault from the start.
Thus, having failed to take Constantinople by a coup de main on March 18th., we proceeded to try another forlorn hope on April 25th. Our armies were far too small to attempt any such ambitious programme. The force which originally landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula at Anzac and Seddul Bahr was of about the right strength to have accompanied the Fleet in the first instance for the purpose of effecting a surprise. Had it been at hand on
March 18th. we would now in all reasonable probability be in possession of Constantinople. But as an army which was about to undertake an independent operation in which it could only receive a very limited assistance from the Navy, the campaign was doomed to failure from the start. There is no object in concealing the fact that the original landing very nearly ended in a disastrous failure and the situation was only saved both at Gaba Tepe and Seddul Bahr by the superb heroism of our troops led by the most devoted and self- sacrifing officers. Yet is is now generally recognised that the Turks actually holding the beaches were extremely few in numbers. Fortunately, the enemy's reserves were slow in coming up; otherwise we would probably have been driven into the sea. This seems to have been due to the optimism of Leman von Sanders, who did not believe we could possibly carry the beaches in the face of such obstacles.
One cannot blame him for this belief, because the more they are examined the more incredible does the feat become. But the fact remains that nearly fifty per cent of our best troops were put out of action in the first day's fighting and, with the limited numbers at Sir Ian Hamilton's disposal, there were no reserves with which to follow up the initial success in an endeavour to take the Achi Baba position before the enemy, surprised by our landing, had the chance of bringing up fresh troops and consolidation his positions on the slopes of that mountain. All we could do was to hold grimly on to the positions we had won and dig ourselves in across the Peninsula and await the arrival of [reinforcements.]
The False Optimism.
Why were the Military Authorities confident they could carry the Achi Baba position and push on to the Narrows with such a small force after the lessons of Flanders, which have proved the immense power enjoyed by the defence in well fortified positions and the vast superiority in numbers necessary for an offensive if it is to be pushed home with any hope of success? I think the answer is to be found in the faith placed in the fire of ships’ guns of large calibre on field works and their demoralising effect on the enemy’s infantry. Otherwise, the position chosen for the disembarcation are extremely difficult of explanation.
By landing at the Southern extremity of the Peninsula the army was at once brought up against a series of positions of extreme natural strength, all of which would have to be taken by assault before Kilid Bahr on the European side of the Narrows, which was apparently the original objective of the army, could be reached. The whole movement would in fact consist of a series of costly frontal attacks on entrenchments. Whereas had an army been able to get astride the Peninsula at Bulair or Gaba Tepe and present an entrenched front both North and South, it is difficult to see how any food or ammunition could have reached the Turks, with our submarines active in the Dardanelles. At best, they could only have fed with extreme difficulty and in all probability they would have been starved into submission. This, of course, was strategically the big plan to undertake. But I am not attempting to criticise the Military Authorities for not adopting it. To
carry through successfully it would have required a far larger force than was then available and with the small force originally landed it might easily have ended in disaster.
On April 25th. the army was still regarded as the auxiliaiy of the navy, namely, to march parallel with it up the Peninsula, making good the positions as they were won. A compromise was adopted, that is to say, the Australians were landed at Anzac to make a diversion on the Turkish flank whilst the 29th Division was to seize the southern end of the Peninsula and work its way gradually up to the Narrows. It was decided that all the advantages which might be derived from the more ambitious programme must yield in importance to the immense moral and material support which this force would derive from having both its flanks protected by the Fleet which could thus bring a cross-fire to bear and rake the enemy’s positions. Whether this decision was right or wrong, I am not prepared to argue. One thing is certain that the expectations formed of the Fleet's guns dismally failed to be realised and once more we have missed our objective.
The Effect Of The Ships’ Guns.
Nothing has been more disappointing that the effect of these high-velocity, low-trajectory shells, both twelve and six inch, on the enemy’s trenches and field workd. The Turks have proved themselves to be past-masters in digging themselves in. Time and time again our troops have been held up in their attacks by suddenly finding themselves up against deep trenches, the existence of which had not previously been suspected, hidden as
they are amidst the shrub and bracken. It is often impossible to locate them by aeroplane reconnaissance. For the enemy will cart away all the earth which is usually thrown up in the form of a parapet so as to leave merely a deep, narrow drain flush with the ground and below the level of the thick shrub. Unless the position of a trench is accurately known, it is impossible to do it any material damage by shell fire and even if these drains are located, direct shell fire from the ships do them practically no harm except by a lucky chance. For a high-explosive shell of this sort must have something to burst against and if there is no parapet, these shells merely burst in front, making huge holes in the ground whilst the fragments fly right over harmlessly. All the enemy’s infantry have to do is to lie low whilst the bombardment lasts and when it ceases or passes further on, which is generally the signal that our infantry is about to advance, they are ready to meet them with a deadly rifle and machine-gun fire. The maps of the Peninsula are so inaccurate and it is so difficult to fire accurately from a maving platform like a ship, that the gunners dare not fire really close ahead of our infantry for fear of hitting them. Even the tremendous shell fire which was concentrated on the trenches above the beaches on April 25th. on positions which would be seen from the foretops had but very little effect. Therefore, it is easy to understand that the effect is even less on the enemy’s positions inland. These trenches can only be adequately dealt with by howitzers on shore
and by field guns. But the latter must have high-explosive shell and not shrapnel, which is useless against barbed-wire and deep trenches. When I left Gallipoli, there was not a single round of high-explosive shell for the field guns. Our two big sixty-pounder howitzers were, however, doing good work.
The Enemy’s Guns.
The Turks and Germans have used their machine guns with great skill, such as we are accustomed to in France. Very often our attacks have been held up at critical moments by these concealed weapons. They are also extremely skilful in the use of their artillery. At first, they seemed to be either short of guns or of ammunition and fired very sparingly, but of late they have been much more free, frequently shelling the beaches and trenches and ships approaching too close to the shore.
During the big fight of May 6th. to 8th., when we made our last effort to carry Krithia and Achi Baba by assault, they reserved their artillery fire for critical moments when our attacks were being pressed home and on at least three occasions drove the French in hopeless flight out of positions they had successfully taken by assault. They are continually shifting the position of their field guns so as not to draw the fire of the ships’ guns on their artillery positions and especially the fire of the big howitzers. Their favourite time is to open up just before sunset when it is rather late for an aeroplane reconnaissance.
The Position Of The Australians At Anzac
I have frequently described this position in previous dispatches and will not do so again. The Australians are now entrenched impregnably and all the Turks in Europe will not shift them. Von Sanders made a final effort on May 18th.-19th., with most disastrous results, as we afterwards buried over three thousand of their dead. This action, the most successful of the war up to date, has had an excellent effect on the spirits of the Colonials who, being a highly intelligent and superior lot of men, had become somewhat discouraged by the failure to achieve any definite success and extremely bored with sitting day after day in trenches.
This position may be described as being fairly comfortable and almost self-contained. That is to say, there is no need to keep battleships perpetually off the coast. On the other hand, a ship or two must be available near at hand to deal with any new batteries the enemy may attempt to place in position to enfilade the beach. I should say it is too much to hope that the enemy will make any further attempt to assault the Anzac position. He is now entrenched up to his neck right round the Australian lines and, unless he is obliged to withdraw the majority of his troops, I do not see it is any more possible for the Australians to drive him back than it is for the Turks to drive the Australian into the sea. Thus, at Anzac you have a perfect stale-mate. There would be no object in sending reinforcements there as the position will not hold another man, being over-crowded as it is, and it could only be extended at very great
sacrifice of life. The value of Anzac to us is that it retains a large Turkish force, it is a perpetual menace to their flank in their operations farther south against Seddul Bahr and it undoubtedly complicates the question of supply, for the prisoners taken at Achi Baba complain that the Anzac troops steal their supplies on the way down the Peninsula. Anzac is held by four Australian and one New Zealand Brigade, with about eighteen guns, all there is room for. These Brigades have suffered very heavily but new drafts have been sent up from Egypt, chiefly from the dismounted Australian Horse who carry the same rifle, but not the same equipment, as the infantry. I believe, therefore, the Australian Corps is very nearly up to strength again. The material of the new drafts is excellent and it has been decided it is better to complete their training in the trenches rather than in Egypt.
The Position Of Our Army At Seddul Bahr.
Very erroneous reports have appeared in the Press from time to time on the position of the Allied Armies at the southern end of the Gallipoli Peninsula. "We have made good progress," "The Army is advancing into the interior." "Maidos has been occupied". These statements and many others have been allowed by the Censor at home to appear in the papers, thus hopelessly misleading the public and rendering the subsequent disappointment all the more keen. It is surely one of the first duties of a Censor to stop these ridiculous and ludicrous lies, as it is for him to suppress the truth when he considers it might be harmful. As a matter of
sober fact, the Allies are only a few hundred yards farther onward then they were three days after the landing. A few of the enemy’s advanced trenches have been taken, but his main line in front of Krithia and on the lower slopes of Achi Baba remains intact and is daily being strengthened by new works and more wire. Yet, these are the positions some of our leaders were confident they could occupy on the very night of the landing, so hopelessly was the situation misjudged. The failure of the great assault on May 8th. led to a change in tactics. The lessons of Flanders should have shown the hopelessness of the attempt before it was undertaken. I fancy, however, the Generals felt something desperate must be undertaken to retrieve the position.
Trench warfare is at present the order of the day and on our extreme left we have made some sensible progress, although very slow, towards turning the enemy’s right wing and enveloping Krithia. In the centre, however, we have been held up and up to the time of my departure had gained very little ground. Trench warfare is the only sound course to adopt but at the present rate of progression it will be months before we get Achi Baba. There seems to be an idea that the taking of this position will open the country up to the Narrows and that taking the Narrows will open the gate for the Fleet to pass through to Constantinople. Yet, there is little justification for either of these beliefs. There are two other great positions behind Achi Baba before we can reach Kelid Bahr and, although I have no certain information, there
is every reason to believe the enemy is fortifying these to meet future eventualities. Therefore, unless his resistance suddenly collapses, an eventuality on which we have no right to speculate, each of these positions will have to be taken yard by yard, trench by trench. Also, taking the Narrows will no longer open the road for the Fleet to pass through to Constantinople, because the Turks have been mining the Channel right the way up to Gallipoli. They have been erecting new batteries on shore and placing fresh torpdeo tubes in position. Therefore, let no one suppose that once the Narrows is taken, the longer reach of narrow water beyond can be tackled with impunity.
At the present moment we have not got a military position at all at the southern end of Gallipoli. I do not think we could be driven out of it, but we are not comfortable as every yard of the plain which we hold is exposed to the fire of the enemy’s batteries and all the beaches can be swept by his heavy guns. Every movement we make is visible to him on the higher ground and his guns can be moved from position to position in perfect concealment. He, therefore, is constantly effecting some new surprise by shelling beaches, ships and camps from totally unexpected positions. The fire of field guns does but little harm but the moral effect on troops, who are thus constantly exposed to shell fire and on the qui vive, is bad. Regiments are brought out of the trenches into rest camps, but what are these camps? It merely means moving them back to the shade of some trees closer to the coast, where at any hour they may be smothered with shrapnel or blown up by high explosive shells.
The enemy has got two big guns in position behind the slope of Achi Baba and with these they started a systematic bombardment of W. Beach or Lancashire Beach, as it is now known. In two days they killed one hundred horses and several man! These high explosive shells naturally get on the nerves of the working parties. Also a tremendous amount of digging had to be undertaken and the horses placed on roads cut in the cliffs, where they are fairly safe. We are much in the same position as an army besieging a fortress which is held by a more powerful garrison than the besieging force and which constantly makes sorties.
In fact, as we are situated at present, the Turks have it in their power to annoy us in a hundred different ways, whilst our chances of retaliation are small. It is still considered necessary to keep battleships protecting the flanks, even after the arrival of submarines. This led to the loss of the "Goliath," "Triumph," and "Majestic." As long as it is necessary to keep ships on the flanks to keep down the enemy's shell-fire from the Asiatic and European shores, it cannot be maintained that the Allied Army is either self-contained or comfortable.
The Troops In Southern Gallipoli.
Our Army in Southern Gallipoli at present consists of the following units. The remains of the splendid 29th. Division, now reduced to below the strength of one brigade. This Division bore the brunt of the fighting during the landing and in holding the positions then won. The losses have never yet been made good as only an allowance of drafts representing a loss of ten per cent
were available, whereas the real losses of the Division amounted to nearly seventy per cent; the remains of the Naval Division, originally eleven thousand strong, which has also had very heavy losses. This Division has fought extremely well considering its heterogeneous and amateur elements. Cox's Indian Brigade of two battalions, as the two Punjabi battalions were sent back to Egypt, The Gurkha and Sikh battalions have done extremely well. Then there is the Lancashire Territorial Division. Its losses have been slight up to date. The men in all three brigades are considered good but the officers in the East Lancashire Brigade have done badly. This Brigade has now been broken up and its units distributed amongst the remnants of the 29th. Division.
These were all the forces we had in Southern Gallipoli when I left the front. The Lowland Division of Territorials was due to arrive. The French force had been brought up to the strength of two Divisions or twenty-four Battalions. Of these troops, the Division which first landed has lost very heavily. The troops are bad and liable to sudden panics. They seem incapable of consolidating and holding a position after it has been won. The worst offenders are the Senegalese Infantry, who are all right in attack as long as their European officers are with them but who are useless without them. The 175th. Regiment of the line is somewhat immature. The Foreign Legion are perhaps the best, followed by the Colonial Infantry. But the heart of the French is not in the job. They never fight the same off their own soil and in this expedition they feel they have nothing to gain for
themselves and are merely pulling chestnuts out of the fire for others. The tension which existed between the higher commands has been relieved by the departure of General D‘Amade. That General seems to have gone off his head very early in the proceedings. General Gouraud apparently enjoys the confidence of the army. Thus, it will be obvious that our forces in Southern Gallipoli, as a present constituted, are not in a position to resume the offensive against Achi Baba on an ambitious scale.
The arrival of the Lowland Division will relieve the pressure on the old troops, but no General dares undertake serious operations with these troops until they have become accustomed to their surroundings and have been tested in action. All that can be expected at the present time is a continuation of this slow outflanking movement on our left wing behind Krithia and the same slow advance in the centre.
What Can Be Done In The Future?
I have attempted this short review of the- existing situation in order to make it perfectly clear what courses are open to us in the future. It is surely much better to face the true facts and to take a new survey of our position than to go on deceiving ourselves that we are on the verge of achieving a decisive success which is only a dream. We have definitely failed in our original objective, namely, the forcing of the Straits and the rapid capture of Constantinople. The present Force in its present positions will never carry out that ambitious programme. We
attempted the possible too late, when it had unfortunately become an impossibility. Therefore, how can we get out of our present difficulties without loss of prestige? For the time being, the Fleet as an active factor in the operations must be eliminated altogether. Quite apart from the obstacles which are insurmountable right up to Gallipoli, the presence of submarines has rendered its position off the coast intolerable. We have already lost three capital ships and have little or nothing to show for it. If we are to eventually achieve our original objective, the task can only be accomplished by the army. The lighter vessels of the Fleet must still be utilised for bombarding the enemy’s guns and keeping down the Asiatic batteries. Also the Fleet must dafeguard the seaway from Malta and the landing of supplies.
But if we are to achieve our original objective, namely, the taking of Constantinople by opening up the Narrows, the task can only be accomplished by the army. But not the army such as we have now. We want at least another five divisions. We cannot say we are in a position to clear the Dardanelles, to allow the Fleet to pass, until we have driven all the Turkish armies out of the Gallipoli Peninsula, north of the lines of Bulair into Thrace, where they can do us no more harm. Or else, we must bottle them up in Gallipoli by getting astride the Peninsula and cutting off their supplies. Such a movement with an entirely new army landed at Bulair or Enos would probably lead to decisive results, especially if a few more submarines of the latest type were sent to the Fleet to stop traffic from Asia to Europe. Once we get
astride the Peninsula and present a strong defensive front towards the North and South, I believe the Tusks would be obliged to abandon their position in front of Anzac and along Achi Baba inside of a week. Even now the prisoners who come in declare they often go without food for two days. I am simply stating the position in Gallipoli and what is required to carry through the enterprise without having any knowledge of the troops and munitions available at home for the purpose. I is for the Military Authorities to consider whether the prize is worth the price, and, if it is worth the price, and if the means are available to carry it through; whether in fact we can spare enough men and enough guns and ammunition from the Western theatre of war and from home defence to carry the near Eastern expedition through to its logical conclusion.
If they are not available and this programme is considered too ambitious, why then, we should consider an alternative policy and concentrate all our efforts on its fulfilment. If we cannot carry out the whole programme we ought to concentrate all our efforts on taking up a real defensive position where we will be quite comfortable and where the army will be altogether independent of the fleet for long periods if necessary. The Australians at Anzac are fairly comfortable where they are but, in the south, we are not. We should, therefore, assuming no separate army for a diversion at Enos or Bulair is available, endeavour to take Achi Baba and thus present a fine defensive front to the enemy which would give us a zone absolutely clear from artillery fire for troops
and munitions. But even for this operation we require more men than are at present available even after the arrival of the Lowland Division. The position is complicated by the fact that there is no more room for even the Lowland Division on the small stretch which we hole. However, this can be overcome by keeping the reserve divisions on the islands, like Imbros, Tenedos or Lemnos, where they can be taken to Gallipoli in a few hours on tugs, trawlers and destroyers, without much fear of submarines. The whole point is, you must be able to relieve the troops in the front line as often as possible in the arduous work of sapping against the enemy's trenches or after they have lost heavily in an assault. It is asking too much to expect the same men to go forward day after day as they have been asked to do up to the present.
To sum up, our position at the present time in Gallipoli is this. We have two jumping-off points for a further offensive, the one at Anzac secure and the other at the southern extremity - insecure, exposed and uncomfortable. Along neither of these positions can we develop a front for the useful deployment of more troops. If the necessary men and guns can be spared, the only sound course will be to make a great diversion elsewhere and get astride the Peninsula, thus entirely cutting off the Turkish armies in front of these positions or else forcing them to withdraw so many men that we shall be able to resume the offensive with fair prospects of success. If this course is decided on it will
probably be found wiser to abandon any further frontal attacks on Achi Baba and merely to hold the ground we have won, as the Achi Baba position would then fall automatically. But if men cannot be spared for the larger movement, when then, enough reinforcements should be sent to enable us to take the Achi Baba position step by step, even if it takes a very long time to accomplish. The task of landing another great army has become immesurably more difficult now that submarines have reached Eastern waters and, if it is attempted, we must be prepared to face heavy losses in ships. Of course, the intervention of Bulgaria would obviate this difficulty and we should have Gallipoli in a very few days. Even a well-timed diversion would probably lead to the break-up of the Turkish armies on our front.
As things stand at present, I do not see the smallest chance of our being able to clear the Peninsula, advancing from our positions at Anzac and Seddul Bahr. I think we are merely living in a fool’s paradise. We may gain ground from time to time by sapping, but the campaign will drag on indefinitely and we shall certainly never realise our hopes of achieving a rapid success in the East which will have a decisive effect on the campaign in the West.
June 1. 1915
The Famous Gully Ravine
The Famous Gully Ravine
The successful advance of our left wing on June the twenty eighth took place on both sides of what is now universally known as the Gully Ravine and although our troops made no effort to advance directly up the Ravine itself - having learnt from bitter experience in the past what a dangeous and difficult obstacle it is to tackle - the fall of the enemy’s trenches on either side placed another mile of this awful valley of death in their hands. I suppose that years from now when the surviving veterans of this campaign in Gallipoli are gathered round some festive board holding the annual celebration to commemorate the Fall of Constantinople that the name which will be most frequently omtheir lips and which will recall to them the most sombre memories will be the Gully Ravine.
Someone discribed it as ‘a devil of a place’ and that discription is not inaccurate. Steaming along the western shore of Gallipoli you would not suspect its existance and if you examined the maps with which we started on this campaign you would have remained equally ignorant. As you steam south towardsX) Beach you come upon a small opening in the cliffs which looks merely as if it ran back fifty yards forming a narrow cleft. In reality this is where the Gully Ravine starts. Almost every yard of it has been the scene of desperate fighting and as we have gradually forced our way further up it it has become the main artery for the supply of all the troops on the left of our line. It is the great high road to the front trenches. Along it pass all our reinforcements supply trains water food ammunition and the
entrenching tools and the thousand odd articles required by a great
army. This stream passing up is met by another stream of Red Cross Wagons Stretcher Bearers empty carts and pack mules and troops coming off duty from the front trenches coming down. The activity in the Gully never ceases day and night. It is the Piccadilly of Gallipoli with many a dangerous crossing where shells and bullets fired from the trenches at its head claim their victims from the ranks of this living stream. A pathway broken and stony existed in the Ravine but this has now been transformed into an excellent road along which wheeled transport passes smoothly and rapidly.
The Gully varies in depth in width and in security as you pass up it and in the latter case according to the angle it occupies towards the enemy’s trenches. For although after leaving the sea shore it takes a general direction towards the north east that is to say towards Krithia it twists and turns in a remarkable manner and at one point you may walk in perfect security behind a bluff at another you may catch a stream of bullets from the Turkish trenches in front. The Turks who know every inch of the ground formerly fired a tremendous number of shells into the Ravine realising it must be used by us as our main line of communication to the
front but of late their has been a distinct falling off in the volumeof this fire pointing to a growing shortage of ammunition. Nevertheless there are quite enough shrapnel bursting about yourhead especially when annattack is in progress for then in addition to the shells deliberately aimed you catch a large number of stray ones aimed at our batteries and also thousands of dropping bullets which have missed
The Gully Ravine lies between overhanging craggy hills which are in places two hundred foot in heighth. Other nullahs and ravines branch off on either side and are utilised as camps for horses depots for stores as rest camps for the troops haying a spell from the trenches and the most obscure and protected have been turend into Field Dressing Stations by the Army Medical Corps. The hills overhanging the ravine are covered with a thick green shrub varied by patches of yellow sandy soil which seems common to the whole of the southern end of Gallipoli. But for the grimmer business of war you would naturally stop and admire the surprising beauty of the scene which ressebles in ts rugged grandeur the Highlands.
The heat in summer is however almost unbearable because no sea breezes penetrate its depths and the sun beats down on this war worn road with pitless severity. But there is plenty of good water for men and horses parched by the sun and the sand. Thses springs are carefully guarded against pollution and are known and beloved by every thirtsy warrior to or on his way from the trenches. There are some which flowing from the interior of the hills enter the valley in a tiny trickling strem, clear as crystal and icy cold. Crowds oe petspiring dusty thirsty men will wait indefinite periods in a long queue each with his water bottle in hand for the privilege of obtaining a draught from one of these spririgs which are valued morein Gallipoli than the choicest brand of Champagne culd be at home. No wine
has or ever will taste as good as a glass of icy cold spring water after you have spent hours in the trenches stooping to avoid the enemy’s snipers cramped by the weight of your kit and
the narrowness of these earthern passages in which you live whilst all day the sun scorches you back and neck and makes you long to fly from for the cool of the evening when for a few hours you may escape from these human ovens. At the scat entrance of the Gully you will find the Divisional Headquarters of General —— who like everyone else ashore on Southern Gallipoli lives dug in to protect him and his staff against the constant shell fire. Passing up towards our advanced trenches you are astounded at the masses of men and horses and material which find shelter in this natural undergroud cutting. The long streams of sweating pack horses mules and donkeys pass one another without cessation.
There in a cleft on your right is the camp of the engineers a little further on you come upon the bivouac of the Indian Mule Train; a Red Cross Flag marks the entrance to a kind of cave which is full of wounded waiting to be carried to Gully Beach inside also are the tents of the Surgeons and Stretcher Bearers whilst a slab of rock at the far end has been turned into an operating table; along the road in every spot sheltered by the overhanging cliffs from the sun you will find hundreds of weary men who have just come from the trenches and who have flung themselves down to snatch a few hours sleep whilst they may.
They lie their unconscious and indifferent to the shells bursting overhead and the stream of stray bullets which come sizzing along. A man drops and is immediately carried to the Dressing Station but not one takes the smallest notice or even seeks cover for prolonged experience has had the effect of making nearly all indifferent or fatalists. At intervals roads have been cut out of the cliffs to allow guns to reach the plateau on either side or else to give easy access to our trenches at other
points there are no roads and you mount to the top of the sides of the Ravine on steps out out of the sandy rook and thus gain the Observation Stations of Generals and Battery Commanders from any of which a most excellent view is obtainable of the country in front of our own advanced trenches and those of the enemy. In the Ravine you are constantlty coming upon lonely graves each marked with a cross and a name marking the last resting place of some soldier who has fallen in one of the early engagements or who has been killed on his way up to the front and who has been buried just where he fell; elsewhere you will see small cemeterys packed with similar crosses generally marking the last stage in our advance where there has been a heavy fight before we could claim a few yards more of the Ravine as our own. Rounding a bend you find the valley suddenly widens and here are the Headquarters of a Brigadier and his Staff living close up to the firing line.
No part of the theatre of this vast World War has claimed so many Generals and Colonels as Gallipoli. This is due to the nature of the task. Generals must live amongst their men sharing their dangers and hardships for there is nowhere else for them to go. Every section of our line being exposed to the enemy’s artillery. Every time we have pushed forward our line on either side of the Ravine we have had to establish a fortified line across it whilst the enemy has done the same only a houndred yards away and endless sniping takes place between the two. This last advance on June 28th placed nearly another mile of the Gully in our hands and every yard [of] progress it becomes narrower and the hills less high so that now looking beyond our most
advanced trench it is little more than a shallow ditch providing hardly any cover. We are in fact almost at the top of the Gully Ravine. But who will ever forget the secnes they witnessed in the captured Turkish Trenches on either side and in the Ravine itself the day after they were taken by our infantry. The first obstacles one came upon was a solid hedge of barbed wire placed right across the Gully fastened to solud stakes of wood which our engineers were busily engaged in cutting through to open a road for reinforcements and transport beyond. Our troops made no effort on the 28th to pass this way for they captured the high ground on either side and the Turks in the Ravine were either killed or fled.
But what are those awful looking black shapeless objects entangled in the wire and surrounded by a swarm of buzzing excited restless flies. At first they look like bags of old rubbish but on closer Inspection you see they are decaying bodies which have lain there for weeks. They can only be identified by their long hair which steams out in the gentle breeze showing they are some of our brave Sikhs who reached this point in one of the earlier attacks and who must have hurled themselves on the wire and were shot trying to tear it asunder. Beyond is a dirty pool of green water. It is full of bits of Turks all apparently odd limbs torn to bits by our high explosive shells. They too must have perished in one of the earlier engagements proabaly they fell at the same hour as the gallant Sikhs. On either side close by are neatly made shelters covered in with brushwood only vacated the day before where the Turkish officers and me found shelter from the scorching sun. How they could eat
and sleep and live In such a stench and in such close proximity to so many bodies in every stage of decay is a mystery which defies the imagination. Why they did not take the trouble to bury them is another but perhaps our artillery swept the Ravine too closely or perhaps this portion was ever under the eyes of our marksmen. If the enemy goes through the campaign without some great epidemic he will have undue luck.
All the way up the Gully only twenty four hours before in the enemy’s
possession there is a litter of debris of the camp and of the great fight. Scattered bodies half protruding from the grounds and hastily dug graves houndreds of rifles and bayonets some broken but the majority intact and all ready for our Belgium Allies; thousands upon thousands of rounds of ammunition- we made a very big haul indeed in this last engagement - entrenching tools; laoves of bread soldiers packs; Turkish letters and regimental orders; a Mullah’s Praying Stool a souvenir eagerly sought after; great coats and kits blankets and old sacks cooking utensils and firewood left just where the enemy abandoned them when our gallant infantry broke through at the bayonet’s point.
Great fires are burning at intervals. They are avoided by all and give forth a horrid a sickly stench. On these the Turkish dead who have been hastily collected are being burnt for it is all important to get the dead out of the way as quickly as possible in this hot climate. There is no well defined road up this portion of the Ravine and you can no longer ride on account of the stream of bullets coming from the trenches in front. Everyone is on foot and you come upon the Divisional Commander and his Staff who are returning from a tour of
inspection of the newly occupied trenches. You also pass a continual stream of stretcher bearers who have been working withour a rest for the last twenty four hours bringing in our wounded. Our advance has been so suceessful that they tell you with pride not a man has been left alive lying out in front of the line. They are also bringing down our dead to bury them in one of the newly formed little cemeterys. I see a trench leading off to the right. Someone tells me this is the entrance to the Famous Boomerang Fort which has been taken and retaken many times.
You pass into it through filth and slush until the ground rises when it becomes dryer. It has been continually subjected to tremendous bombardments and on the morning of the 28th received a concentrated fire of high explosive shells yet singularly little damage seems to have been done to the trenches which are cut seven feet deep and very narrow. The place is packed with debris like the Gully. The same awful stench pervades everything and the flies swarm in millions. In one corner seven Rurks with their rifles across their knees are sitting togther. On man has his arm round the neck of his friend and a smile on his face as if they had been cracking a joke when death overwhelmed them.
All now have the appearance of being merely asleep for of the seven I only see one who shows any outward injury. How were they killed.
A soldier comes up with a bag to collect bombs which they have on them. He gives it as his opinion that they were killed by the explosion of that deadly French Trench Mortar with its seventy pounds of Mellinite which blows the breath of life right out of a man without his ever being struck or knowing what has happened. Peeping carefuuly over the top of
the Boomerang which is being heavily sniped by irate Turkish snipers in the broken gorse and trenches ahead you see how our infantry forced their way in. The barbed wire had been swept away by the accurate fire of the 10th Battery R.F.A twenty minutes before our infantry made their assault. A very neat job the gunners made of it for the uprights and wire have been cut to shreds allowing our infantry a free passage of which they took full advantage. You see a number of our men rifles helmets and packs lying about which have not yet been collected.
Some of these packs and helmets belong to the wounded and killed others have been keft behind or thrown aside when our men swept forward to the next trench. They will be collected and taken to the
ravine and later claimed by their owners or kept for other drafts on their way out from home. It is really extraordinary the amount of articles which you always find scattered over a battlefield. The modern soldier goes into action decked out like a Christmas Tree. At the star they would rather carry any weight than leave any of their precious goods behind. But as they advance and become more and more weary and hot and find their freedom of movement in these wild rushes hampered they gradually shake off the superflous.
Also if you leave your pack lying about it is a common fate to have it looted by your reserves for the motto of the soldier in battle is ‘Everything comes to him who takes’. I heard of one regiment which was ordered to leave its packs behind when assaulting the trench in front. They successfully accomplished their task and another battalion took their place in the trench where they had left their packs. Then this battalion relieved them in the captured trench and they went back to find all their packs had been
carefully gone through. The men could scarcely be restrained from again advancing to the attack of the trnech in front to recapture their property from their own comrades within a few hounderd yards of the enemy. All this debris is carefully collected and sorted after each fight for when equipment is hard to obtain every article has its value. Leaving the Boomerang Fort I next visited the one in front known as the ‘Turkey Trot’. This was even more formidable in its
construction than the other but fell easily before the splendid dash of our infantry. Like all the other positions it is full of debris and dead. On going up a deserted sap I suddenly came upon a wounded Turk lying on his back all by himself with his chest heaving and his hands clenched above his head. He was muttering to himself I think praying but was too far gone to live much longer. He had been overlooked by the Stretcher Bearers a party of whom were immediately sent to bring
I then went down again to the Gully to traverse the last few houndred yards leading to our front trench built across Gully and connected up with the captured trenches on the plateau on either side. Here I came upon masses of our infantry making their way forward to relieve the troops in the front line. The companies as they passed were being inspected by their Brigadier. None of these were fresh troops for all had taken part in the fighting on the previous day and belonged to the famous Twenty Ninth Division. The men were staggering along in the excessive heat carrying their heavy loads supplemented by heavy entrenching tools empty sand bags and their rations but inspite of their fatigue and the heat these young soldiers recruits
for the most part only recently arrived from home were cheery and full of confidence. Our soldiers are indeed extraordinary. Whatever happens they never seem to lose their spirits although constantly exposed to danger to every kind of hardship with little sleep for days at a time and living in an atmosphere the stench of which defies discription.
Several were discussing the relative merits of tinned beef and tinned mutton, others were regretting that biscuit had been served out that morning instead of bread; others were filling their canteens with tea which was been served out from Dixies as they passed along and others were talking of the recent fight and of the awful things they had done to the Turks. To hear them speak you would tremble for the fate of any of the enemy who fell into their hands and yet the moment a trench is taken and the enemy holds up his hands those who are not killed in the heat of action are treated with the utmost kindness and our men will share their precious water and their rations with them.
In the front trench our men were working like bees. Across the head of the Gully our men were working like bees to build up a tete de pont under a continous fire from the enemy’s sharpshooters, whilst others for whom there was no room in the trench were calmly sleeping behind oblivious to everying just waiting until they should be summonsed to resist the expected counter attack. In this trench warfare units become so mixedin an attack that it is often several days before the new line is accurately known. When you think you have won a trench you may find that the enemy is still holding a portion off it or that he held some comnunicating t
trench from which he delivers constant bomb attacks. Thus there is continual fighting for days after a position has been won before it is consolidated and properly held. Scnes of desperate fighting were plainly visible all around our front line. On a small rise a little to the left lay half a dozen of our men killed in the final advance who it had been impossible to get at and bury.
Right in front a line of Khaki figures lay in perfect order only a few yards away yet the sniping is so heavy that even at night it is almost impossible to bring them in. Further up the ravine lay heaps of Turkish dead piled togther who had fallen in the big counter attack. In a gorse patch further to the left lay a further large number of the enemy mixed up with some of our men for there seems to have been a general melee in the open at dawn on the twenty ninth when our men issued from their trenches and hunted the enemy out of the gorse killing large numbers of them.
The weary troops warn out with fighting and digging are now relieved and I make my way down the gruesome valley with them. They snatch at the tea which is handed them fromthe Dixies and drink it in huge gulps. Tea is the mainstay of our soldiers. They will take any quantity and it seems to keep them going better than anything else. Thus revived they pass on down the valley to their billets and throwing off their kits hurl themsrlves on the ground and inspite of the s shells and bullets the sand and heat the stenches and above all the millions of flies they are no sooner prone than asleep for they know on the following day or it maybe that same night they will have to return to their ceaseless vigilence and digging.
Scenes on the Gallipoli Peninsular
Letter July 9th
Scenes on the Gallipoli Peninsular
The Cape Helles end of the Gallipoli Peninsula has been transformed since we landed three and a half months ago. We occupy almost the same ground but on it has gradually sprung up a permanent camp of bomb- proof shelters and dug outs in which every man and almost every animal can find shelter from the enemy’s shells. For the first month it was safe to live in the open in tents or in shelters constructed from trees or to basque under the shade of the trees but now all is changed and everyone has been obliged to go underground to escape the storm of shells which the enemy plays or rather sprays over our positions whenever he happens to be so inclined or has received a fresh consignement of ammunition.
The immunity we enjoyed at the start was due to the fact that the Turks never thought we could obtain a footing on the shore and therefore he had not got his big guns in the right positions for shelling the beaches and camps. Also until the arrival of the Submarines our battleships with the aid of the aeroplanes were able to keep down the fire of his heavy artillery and to smash up any new emplacements in course of construction, especially on the Asiatic coast. But now it is not safe to keep battleships permanently off the coast and of this the Turks or Germans have taken full advantage and the shelling of the beaches has become far more frequent and violent. We lived for a month in an atmosphere of false security. On Lancashire Landing (the former W Beach) there sprung up a great camp of tents and a great depot of stores whilst
houndreds of horses were tethered in long rows fully exposed to view. Anyone who had constructed for himself a bombproof shelter was laughed at for his trouble for then they were regarded as superflous. The beaches were piled with stores dumped from the transports waiting to be sorted out and distributed. You would see great piles of biscuits tinned meat vegetables petroleum hay and ammunition packed side by side on the foreshore and all day the sweating beach parties toiled at unloading lighters the contents of which were distributed by the Army Service Corps to the dumping grounds’ of the various brigades.
The work never stopped. An occasional shrapnel of which no one took any notice was the only interference in those halcyon days although there were not wanting those who wondered why the enemy did not concentrate his attention more on the beaches which presented such a grand and crowded target to the gunner. Everyone who was present will remember that afternoon about the twentieth of May when suddenly out of a blue sky the Turks opened their first great bombardment of W Beach with two heavy guns probably six inch placed on either side of Achi Baba.
These high explosive shells burst with a tremendous detonation throwing out huge clouds of black smoke and splintering into houdreds of jagged fragments. Three out of every four burst on contact with the ground and the others in the air for the enemy employed this method to gauge the range. The toilers on the Beach ceased their labours to gauze in amazement on this new but not altogther unexpected phenomenon. For a new problem had thus suddenly arisen which no one had provided against. There were practically no dug outs or bombproofs and the few who had forseen this contingency now had the laugh of their
sceptical friends who were only to glad to accept an Invitation for a short visit whilst the storm lasted. The remainder of the crowded
population of W Beach were obliged to shelter as best they could behind the cliffs along the sea shore. The chief suffers in this first bombardment were the unfortunate horses amongst whom the shells fell with terrible effect and in two afternoons we lost nearly a houndred. Everyone whose duties compelled them to live and work on the beach then started digging with feverish haste. Shelter walls of bags filled, with sand were first constructed facing Achi Baba to keep out splinters until regular bombproofs which take time, could me made. The horses were removed to less exposed ground and the huge collection of stores were placed under any available overhanging cliff or ridge for shelter. Hounderds of Greek and Egyptian labourers were brought over to construct a road right round the sea shore connecting up all the beaches along which men and horses could pass in comparative safety.
This road unique of its kind will ever remain a lasting memorial of the Anglo-French occupation of the peninsula. It is a great piece of work and along it live thousands of men and horses safe from the enemy’s shells. The gradual developement of W Beach has been on much the same lines as that of any seaside resort at home. When the shells only came from Achi Baba certain sites at once rose in price and were eagerly sought after by the settlers. These were the ones which commanded a sea view and were constructed on terraces cut out of the cliff overlooking the blue waters of the Dardanelles. No shells either direct or indirect could reach them from the land side and the happy aristocracy of the place looked with scorn on their neighbours who were still obliged
through lack of space or the nature of their duties to live in exposed dug outs in the open valley running up from the Beach. Thus W Beach settled down once again taking but small notice of the enemy's high explosive shells from Achi Baba which made an awful noise but which seldom did any material harm. The cliffs and the foreshore look as you approach from the sea as if a great tribe of cave dwellers had suddenly been discovered survivors of some primitive epoch.
The pervailing colour is drab or khaki for the whole settlement consists of a background of sand dwellings of sand bags filled with the same inhabited by houndreds of khaki clad figures who move and work amongst huge piles of wooden boxes and canvass bales. Should any aryicle arrive on the beach a differnt colour it is quickly reduced to the same shade by the clouds of drifting sand which sweep over everything whenever there is the slightest breeze. You became daily more weary of the uniformity of colour of the extreme heat of the sand and the swarms of flies. Even the cliffs seem to blow about when the Sorooco is on for they are not of rock but also of sand and crumble at the touch of the spade and the pick which are ever at work rebuilding crumbling walls replacing split sand bags and digging out entrances which have fallen in.
Lancashire Landing is in fact a minature Sahara hot as hell and just as uncomfortable but the sandy soiI does possess one inestimatable advantage for shells burst on it with a minimum of effect. Had the ground been rocky it would have been rendered untenable long since. As it is the shells plunge deep into the sand and many of them failed to explode whilst the fragments of those which do are checked in their flight through having to force
their way through the soft soil. I heard someone say that this Campaign at the Dardanelles is only rendered tolerable because of the excellent bathing. This is quite true. We hold miles of sea coast and at any point except those sacred to the memory of decaying horses which have been buried out at sea but which will always return to the shore, you can have an excellent dip. In the cool of the evening when the brunt of the day’s work is broken the inhabitants of Sea View love to sit on their terraces regarding the ever dwindling fleet of transports at the entrance of the Straits with the stem of the Majestic as a constant reminder of the great days when we still held the command of the sea, or to watch the fleet of Trawlers coming and going with troops and stores from the neighbouring islands.
It is a grand and sometimes placid sight with Asis as a backgroung six miles away looking so calm and peaceful as it inviting us to take possession of it. A few weeks ago you could let a good bombproof on Sea View for almost any price just as you can let a villa overlooking the sea at Folkestone or Eastbourne for what you like to ask at the heighth of the season when everyone has fled from town and the bathing is good. But now unfortunately prices along Sea View have fallen with a horrid and disastrous slump and the hotels are almost empty and everyone is trying to take a place in the country further inland. The reason is this. The submarines having forced our battleships to take shelter the Huns have now seized the opportunity of erecting batteries of heavy guns behind Kume Kale on the Asistaic Coast, and with these they can fire right into the front doors and windows of all the houses along
this erstwhile popular promenade. It is just as if you had taken a house
on the Lees at Folkestone to wake up one fine morning to find shells
from Boulogne coming in your front windows. The Sea View Dwellers never foresaw this contingency. They only bit their homes to protect themselves against shells from Achi Baba now they find themselves in and awkard predicament for their dwellings being constructed on terraces along the face of the cliff cannot be built up in front and they must either face the risk or abandon them altogther.
Some have fled to the top of the cliff others have by this time become fatalists and smoke their pipes thinking of happier days in the future or living in the past. Others have sunk their pride and have descended into the valley again to make terms with those who they lately looked down upon. Many thus have a working arrangement which answers very well. When the shells are coming from Achi Baba they invite those in the valley up to Sea View and when they are coming from Asis they themselves descend to the valley and live with their friends. But here again the unhappy inhabitants of Lancashire Landing are often checkmated by the Huns firing both from Asia and Achi Baba at the same time.
This is a dirty trick as there is then little or no cover and you can only sit in a round deep hole praying that a direct hit may not put your number up for all time. I do not suppose the non combatant branches of an army have ever lived under such conditions before unless in the course of some siege. For strange though it may seem they are far more exposed than the troops in the front trenches. Day fater day night after night the officers and men of the Army Service Corps of the Army Ordanace
Department of the Army Medical Corps and houndreds of those engaged in clerical work toil and sweat in the great heat amidst storms of sand tormented by millions of flies and ever exposed to this never ceasing and nerve racking shell fire. For nearly four months these officers and men not forgetting the Military and Naval Landing Officers and all those engaged in handling the tugs and lighters have worked without cessation or without a hoilday of any sort.
During this time and incalculable quantity of stores munitions and ammunition have passed through their hands and it is only their unselfish and devoted labours under unparralled conditions which have made it possible for us to maintain this large army in the field so far from home. Let me attempt to discribe a typical day on Lancashire Landing. The trawler brings you from Headquarters off the beach about ten am other trawlers are constantly arriving ladened with stores and troops. The enemy who always seems to know what is going on suddenly opens up from Asia with a six inch high velocity gun. His great object is to knock out a trawler or to destroy the Landing Stage.
As you cast anchor a houndred yards from the shore you hear hear the shriek of a shell. You wonder exactly where it is going to fall and a second later you hear a tremendous splosh astern and a great column of water rises almost as high as the masts. Hardly have you taken your eyes from the splash than another comes hurtling through the air and also bursts in the sea. A steam pinnace comes to take you off the Trawler to the landing stage and just as you set foot on it you think the end of the World has come for asudden blast of air rushes by you and ano-
[ano]ther great shell burts right on the beach. This is obviously not a morning for Sea View and you hasten to gain the shelter of the valley when as if by some concerted arrangement the two big guns behind Achi Baba also open up. No one knows how long the enemy will keep up this fire sometimes it is for a few minutes and sometimes for hours. Strict orders have been issued for everyone to take cover when the first shell bursts.
You now see houndreds of little khaki figures running like mad and
disappearing into their burrows just as rabbits do at the sound of the first gun. Every hole has its inhabitant and you just see the tops of
their heads peeping out between the intervals to disappear from view
directly the dreaded shriek is heard once more. Bathing is going on aand the bathers who have just entered the sea are lothe to leave without completing their dip. Suddenly a shell burts in the water just ahead of them and they stay no longer. Naked forms are seen making for the beach as fast as they can swim or wade and whenever another shell is heard j coming all disappear below the water to escape the splinters.
Once ashore no one takes the trouble to dress or even to collect their clothes for it is an awful feeling to stand naked with six inch high explosive shells bursting around and all in a state of nature double to their warrens never looking behind and dive in head first and there remain until the sudden cessation of the enemy’s hate enables them to retrieve their abandoned clothing. Having got ashore yourself from the Trawler you dpuble to your nearest friend’s dug out and there take cover until it is over. Most of these are cut down three or four feet into the ground and have a tent spread over the top. Head cover is of very little use because a direct hit will go through almost anything and simply
brings down the roof on the top of you but if you sit below the ground level you are fairly save from the splinters flying round outside. Almost every tent is riddled with holes. In one which has been in constant use there are no less than two houndred and ninety four seperate holes and it is exciting work sitting on the floor watching fresh peeps of sunlight coming through the top. The relied of hearing the shell burst is enormous for then you know it cant make a direct hit inside.
When the firing dies down you venture out and go on your respective ways. Sometimes you enjoy several hours of complete immunity sometimes a shell burst at regular intervals of half a hour or and at any unexpected moment you may have all the guns open up at once. Do not imagine you enjoy a respite at night. Far from it for of late the Turks have frequently bombarded us during the night and their favourite trick is to fire a shell at regular intervals of half and hour right through the night on the weary slumberers waking the majority up just as they are falling asleep and so on repeating the process after the favourite custom of the old Chinese torturers who prevent their victims from sleeping by opening their close eyelids at regular intervals.
The worst bombardment to which Lancashire Landing has ever been subjected was five days ago when the Turks made their big counter attack. They started at four am and between that hour and eight am they landed at a conservative estimate nearly three thousand shells amidst the bombproofs dug outs and stores. Yet the result was small.
A few were killed and more wounded but the majority lay low and escaped. Sometimes a fortunate hit will blow up some ammunition or des-
[des]troys some stores, but that is all. But this small amount of damage is more than compensated for by the supply of excellent fish which can be purchased after each bombardment. When the first shell burts on Lancashire Landing the Greek labourers run like frightened rats never stopping until they have reached their holes. Then they stop and collect their thoughts and their minds are distrought by a fearful mental struggle between extreme terror and an overpowering love of making money.
They sit and watch the shells falling when one burts on land they coil themselves up within their dug outs and groan with terror, but when one burts in the sea with a tremendous splash an avaricious gleam of joy lightens up their eyes. A half naked figure will dash madly from the cliff and plunge at breakneck speed into the sea followed by others only waiting for the lead. There arises a shrill chorus of yells oaths intermingled with a ceaseless chattering from those who remain under cover. For a moment you imagine the Gallilean Swine have got into trouble again, but then you notice that all are endevouring to reach the spot where the shell has burst first.
Once there they dive and disappear from view ten then a moment later up they come and are swimming breathlessly back to the beach to regain their Funk Holes. But each has something marketable in his hand namely a fish which has been stunned by the explosion which fetch a good price when the bombardment has ceased, one of them caught in this manner weighed thirty pounds and produced joy in a dozen lonely Bombproofs. Thus the life and the work on Lancashire Landing goes on day after day week after week month after month. The work
is sometimes suspended but it never stops. The devoted officers and men on the beach know that the army must be fed and must have ammunition. They carry their lives in their hands day and night but they go on their way cheerfully and not all the guns in Asia will render a beach untenable when it is held by men of this stamp. Heroes won it and heroes now work on it, and meanwhile the enemy is getting rid of an enormous amount of his precious ammunition for his guns are attracted to Lancashire Landing as moths are to a brilliant lamp, whilst the Cave Dwelleers have a nerve racking time but they do get fresh fish almost every day which I believe is what the Specialists recommend as a diet for building up the nervous system.
New Phase of the Campaign
The New Phase of the Campaign
The close of the action on the right of our line on the evening of July 13th has been followed by three weeks of almost complete inactivity and neither the Tirks oourselves have made any further effort to press home an offensive. On July 13th the first period of the campaign may be said to have come to an end and since that date both Armies have been bracing themselves for the terrible clash which is now only a few days perhaps even only a few hours distant. The issues which hang in the balance are of the most paramount importance not only to ourselves and to the Turks but they will vitally effect the future destinies of almost every power engaged in this World Struggle.
Ever since we landed on the Gallipoli Peninsula on that historic Sunday April 25th we have been fighting the enemy with insufficient forces and insufficent munitions. Time and time again we have barely held our own; on many occasions when the brilliancy and dash of our incomparable infantry seemed about to open up the brightest prospects for a brilliant success our Commander in Chief has been obliged to stay his hand and to rest content with small gains because of this lack of ammunition and the want of sufficent reserves to throw into the firing line at the critical stage when the enemy seemed to be almost on the run. Up to the present time our losses have been so severe that they have barely been compensated for by the reinforcements which have reached the front. Thus although fresh Divisions have from time to time reached the Army its actual
numerical strength has increased but little. Now all is changed. Large reinforcements have reached the army and Sir Ian Hamilton will be able to attack the enemy at several different points of his line instead of being forced to act strictly on the defensive at Anzac whilst pressing home purely frontal attacks on the endless lines of Turkish entrenchments in front of Achi Baba. At the present moment the atmosphere is charged with expectancy. The plans of the General Staff are being kept in profound secret and not even the Divisional Commanders know the coming movements on this great strategic board. Speculation is ripe.
Everyone one meets has his own pet theories and is certain they are correct and are the only ones which can possibly lead to decisive and rapid success. But no object would be served in setting forth at this juncture the innumerable plans of campaign with which rumour credits the Chiefs of the Army, for by the time these lines appear in print the whole Wo Id will know what are the new combinations which have been decided upon for defeating the enemy, and also what measure of success has attented their execution. But if the plan of campaign remains a profound secret the issues at stake are understood and appreciated by evry soul in this vast army which is now gradually assembling from the Commander in Chief to the humblest private just arrived from England. They are so plain and obvious that there can be no mistake about them. The Turkish rank and file probably have an equally keen appreciation of what they will be fighting for in the course of the next few days and they may be relied upon to put up a final desperate stand to keep the banner of Islam a little longer on European soil. The facts are these. For the past four months our progress has been very disappointing in
Gallipoli. At this hour we occupy very little more ground than we did the day after the landing, not one of the enemy’s main positions has fallen and our army has suffered nearly fifty thousand casualties in killed wounded and missing. Our frontal attacks against prepared positions held by a most determined and skilled trench fighter- as the Turk has always proved himself to be - have from time to time gained ground but our local successes have never been commensurate with the losses entailed. Having once landed at Helles and Anzac Sir Ian Hamilton has never yet up to this hour had enough men at his disposal for any great strategic move which might take the enemy in flank and turn the positions or else enable us to get astride of the peninsula and cut all his communications with Thrace thus leaving him only a sea route invested by our submarines or the doubtful passage from Chanak to Kilid Bahr for supplying his armies on the peninsula with food ammunition and munitions of all kinds.
On the face of it it would appear therefore as if we had achieved nothing up to date and that our heavy losses are not even in a measure balanced by any approximate gains. But this is not correct and would be a very unfair way of regarding the campaign up to date. Modern warfare has been discribed as a process of attrition applying to both men and munitions. Which means that an enemy can only be beaten by gradually wearing him down and exhausting his resources in men and munitions. Throughout the last four months the Turks have been subjected to a prolonged and sustained hammering almost without a parallel. We do not know the exact number of their losses but that they have been enormous has been proved beyond a doubt
and have been chiefly sustained in his early offensives after we first landed his subsecquent efforts to drive the Australians into the sea and his abortive counter attacks which have followed every successful attack made by ourselves or by our F ench Allies. In addition his losses must have been very heavy from shell fire for during the last four months he has been subjected to a continous bombardment from Ships guns howitzers and Field batteries.
His artillery fire has caused us many casualties more especially on the beaches and in the exposed rest camps and when it is borne in mind that the number of shells fired during this period under review must be almost in the proportion of 10-1 in favour of the Allies some approximate estimate can be formed of the losses the Turks have sustained from this cause alone. It is only fair to assume that his first line troops must now have practically ceased to exist. His first reserves the Redifs are known to have been decimated and his trenches must now be held very largely by half trained levies dragged into the firing line from the remote districts of his scattered and heterogenus empire. Of the actual numbers the Turks have left in the field it is extremely difficult to form and correct estimate. His system of counter attacks on a grand scale may be said to have finally ceased after the costly failure to retake the positions won by us on June 28th and 29th. This may mean he is getting short of men or else that he realises the impossibility of attacking entrenched British infantry with any hope of success without an adequate artillery support which the diminishing state of his ammunition no longer allows of. He may have more men than he can actual employ on the peninsula but it
is certain the majority are of poor quality compared with those whom we have hitherto encountered in front of Achi Baba and before Anzac nand have not shown the same fighting qualities in the latter of our advances. The same uncertainty prevails when we endevour to form an estimate of the amount of ammunition which still remains at his disposal. Are the Turks really short or have they been carefulky husbanding their supply against the great effort which every Tyro knew we must make in the late summer? Have they in fact a sufficient supply left to fight a prolonged battle which may extend over several weeks before the final issue is decided?
We know for certain that they cannot obtain further stocks through Roumania or Bulgaria and that is why they have been for months in the tantalising position of having to watch a large army live and manoeuver right under the muzzles of their guns without being able seriously to disturb the even tenure of our daily life. These are questions which can only put to the test when our big offensive actually begins and then they will have a momentous bearing on the final issue.
Since the last of his counter attacks failed in the early days of July the Turks have remained strictly on the defensive. But during that period they have been working like Bees in preparing their positions in throwing up fresh entrenchements in front of those we gained on their right flank in front of Achi Baba, and on the great square solid bastion of the Kilid Bahr plateau behind. In the latter part of July there were many who expected to see a great Turkish offensive probably to be delivered against the Australians to celebrate the anniversary of the Constitution on July 23rd. For nights our troops waited
in vain longing for the expected attack which failed to mature. Personally I was not one of those who shared the opinion that the enemy would make a final effort to achieve some definite success with which to greet the Deputies on the opening of the new Parliament. The problem before the Turks is a very simple one. They have time on their side, wheras we have time against us. It is now August 5th. All we can hope for is a further two months of settled weather which will enable us to land troops munitions and stores on the peninsula on exposed beaches unprotected by any form of break ater or harbour except temporary ones which have been made by sinking steamers.
The Turks no perfectly well we cannot fight a winter campaign unless we secure a base which will render us independent of the terrible southerly gales which sweep the Mediterranean and burst with unparalled fury on the shores of Gallipoli during the winter months. We shall not be able to feed our armies and the Australian position at Anzac would probably have to be abandoned altogther. We might hang on at Helles more especially if we take Achi Baba and are able to utilise Morto Bay by either silencing the Asiatic guns by occuping a portion of the Asiatic shore of the Dardanelles.
But the low ground whioh we occupy in front of Anzac is a morass in winter and our troops would never be able to stay in the trenches which would become simply drains of liquid mud. All experts are of opinion that the Australian positions at Anxac would be washed away in the winter and that our men would find them- selves clinging msierably to the slopes of hills fully exposed to the enem’s fire. Now the Turks who know the ground and the climate are fully aware of these facts. They know they have simply to hold us
back for six weeks more to insure the safety of Constantinople until next year and perhaps even to to force us to evacuate the peninsula altogther. Therefore it is in their interests to remain strictly on the defensive and to mobolise their forces in such a way that they always have a large force in hand to resist and fresh em- landling we may make either in Europe or in Asia. They are fighting for time while we are fighting for Constantinople and if this objective cannot be achieved this year we have then to secure enough of the peninsula to enable our army to winter in comparative security. That is to say to secure a base from which we can keep our men supplied during the winter gales. Not yet knowing the final plans of the General Staff it is impossible to gauge what the chances of success or failure are. There are at present too many unknown factors in the problem. Even the number of available reinforcements is uncertain. Three new Divisions of Lord Kitchener’s first army have arrived namely the 10th the 11th and the 13th.
Of these the 13th and a Brigade of the 11th have had some useful experience for a fortnight in the trenches on our left flank at Helles but they have now all been withdrawn doubtless with the intention of utilising them for a fresh movement elsewhere. But what other Divsiions have already arrived or are on their way out at present remains a mystery. The feeling of tension during the last few days has been very great. Everyone will be pleased when the hour comes to strike and this heartbreaking period of waiting and practising is passed. We are about to enter upon the most momentous military operation in our history. Never before have suchgrave issues hung in
balance. We must win decisively or else face a national calamity, amounting to a disaster. It is no use getting ashore on Asia and being held up as we have been held up at Helles and at Anzac. It is no use landing at some other points and again been obliged to cling to the cliffs with the enemy intach in front and the winter’s gales surging up behind. We are going out for everything and we must win or else withdraw the greater part of our armies. We ought to get the whole of the Gallipoli Peninsula and if not the whole we must make sure of the Kilid Bahr Plateau which means the fall also of Achi Baba and at least a substantial portion of our great task accomplished. The awful solemnity of the approaching our is felt by all. Never I venture to say has the Anglo Saxon race been faced by such a crisis.
General Birdwood’s proclamation to his Army before and after the failure of our last great attack August 6th to 10th 1915
[Proclamation by Gen. Birdwood, of 5th August]
Australian And New Zealand Army Corps.
We are about to make our second advance on our way to Constantinople and I want to let all ranks know of what great importance the move we are to make will be.
The whole world has now heard of the action of the Australians and New Zealanders when we landed here at the end of April. The highest possible opinion has been formed of our doings by all Military critics, and we therefore have to act up to an extraordinarily high standard to live up to our reputation.
I want all to remember that the fighting we shall probably have in this advance will be very much of the same nature as it was onn the day we landed – certainly it will be so for a portion of the troops. We shall have to face and tackle a very difficult bit of country which the enemy have to some extent entrenched, as they did for our arrival.
Then however we ignored all trenches – rushing at all we saw, chasing the Turks out of them, and keeping them well on the run. This we have got to do again. Remenber that under no circumstances can we possibly turn back. Having started our attack it has got to be seen through, and that it wil be seen through with great success have no doubt. We will advance on a broad front as we did on landing. Some will find they have trenches in front of them; others will not. But all must keep on and on continuously until we have occupied the enemy’s position. Once we have got into that, I feel sure that Australians and New Zealanders will never allow themselves to be driven out. It will probably come to a good deal of fighting actually in the trenches, and in them we will know that any one of us is equal to at least ten Turks, so that we will and must drive them along the trenches before us and never give them breathing space for a moment.
We shall have the advantage of starting while it is still cool, but after hard climbing I know how hot it gets and water will be a great difficulty. I earnestly therefore ask all men, as I did the day we landed to be most careful of their water bottles and not to start drinking till late in the day.
The complete defeat of the Turks now will have an enormous effect and will bring us a very large step nearer Constantinople, and indeed it may I hope prevent them making any other definite stand for a considerable time – also, by pressing them hard and continuing
to press them for the next few days, we should hope to capture guns and maxim guns as well as prisoners and camps.
We have to remember that when we are chasing them through their trenches, as I hope we shall be doing, they are sure to try to bomb us as much as they can. We however have two or three bombs to every one of theirs, and it only remains for us to prove how easily we can beat them with the bombs, as we know we can do with the bayonet and the rifle.
Two to three days hard fighting, may, we hope, clear the Turks from these hills round us, and I know that every one will do his best to make success a certainty.
When we landed, the place of honour was give to the Australian Division in leading our attack. On this occasion too that Division will start the attack and will have its full share of fighting, but the honour of accomplishing the task which we set before us on the 25th of April – vis., the attacking of Hill 971, will now fall to the New Zealand and Australian Division. They will have a hard and difficult time of it, but I well know that nothing will stop them, and that they will prove to the world that there are no Turks who can stop them from taking a position once they have mavde up their minds to do so.
Remember, men, the order of the day must be "shove on and keep shoving on" until we are in complete possession of the heights above us, when we hope we will have the Turks at our mercy.
Remember, too, that there will be Divisions of Lord Kitchener’s Army operating in conjunction with us, who will be watching us carefully and whose success will be entirely dependant upon our being able to show them the way first – and this I know you will do.
[Proclamation by Gen. Birdwood, of 5th August – contd.]
Remember too to do all you can to conserve and keep your ammunition during the beginning of your advance, i.e., while on the flat and in the lower hills. It will then be dark, so that the majority of any ammunition that might be fired would probably be wasted, while you may hope to get at the enemy with the bayonet and either capture or kill him at once or get him while on the run. Later, when you get to the top of the hill, all the ammunition we can possibly carry will be wasted, as we may be sure that the enemy will not give up his strong position without a struggle, and when we have taken it he will very likely counter attack to drive us out.
Every effort will be made to bring up ammunition and water as quickly as possible, but you all know as well as I do there will be difficulties in getting these up quickly enough, so keep all the ammunition you can for shooting purposes when it is light enough to see and destroy the Turks in front of you and keep you water bottle full as long as you possibly can.
We know that we have established a moral superiority over the Turks, and have been able not only to keep their snipers completely under, but in many cases we have gone far to stop their bombing. Though they are terrified of the Australian and New Zealand soldiers in the open, yet there is no doubt that they will always fight well when behind trenches. On this occasion, however, I trust we may be able to get a good many of then in the open, when by constantly pressing them let us hope they will again do as our men said they did when they landed on the 25th April – run faster than they had ever seen men run before.
There is just one more point I want you all to remember, which is that when we have taken the enemy’s position and driven him off it, our work is by no means ended, so men must not think that they will then be able to get off and come down to the beach for a swim. It is then that our hardest work, and possibly the greatest determination, will be required, as we have not only got to turn the enemy off his present position, but having once shifted him from his front trenches, we have to keep running him out of them as far as we possibly can, capturing we hope everything he possesses, and giving him no rest until he is completely defeated here.
(Sgd) W. R. Birdwood.
[Proclamation by Gen. Birdwood, of 9th August – account of the action at Lone Pine]
I want to thank you all so sincerely for the magnificent work which you all have done in the continuous hard fighting you have had since the afternoon of the 5th. I well know what a tremendous strain this has been upon all, and with what unflinching bravery you have on every occasion faced and dealt with the enemy. The 1st Australian Infantry Brigade began by attacking and capturing the maze of trenches held by the enemy at Lone Pine by the gallantest of charges, in which they completely routed the enemy and drove him with the bayonet from the whole series of trenches he held there. Ever since then the Turks have endeavoured to turn us out but have entirely failed, though I regret to say they have caused heavy losses among our boys. These however have been insignificant compared with the enormous losses inflicted on the Turks, whose dead were choking the trenches and lying in piles all round every trench.
On the left the New Zealand and Australian Division with the Indian Brigade and the 13th Division made a night march which will be memorable in history through the most difficult of country. They succeeded in completely surprising the enemy in the many trenches they held in the lower hills, capturing one position after another with the greatest skill and dash.
Owing to the enormous difficulties of the country we were unable to achieve our object of capturing the whole of the crest of the Chunuk Bair as we had wished, but the New Zealand Mounted Rifles having cleared all the lower hills gave an opening for the New Zealand Infantry Brigade to seize a portion of it which we now hold. The Turks have made constant attempts to drive us out, and are sure to continue to do this, but we all know how determinedly the New Zealand, Australian and Indian Brigades together with the men of the 13th Division now hold it will hang on for all they are worth until as we hope we completely achieve our object.
There is one thing every one of us must never forget - that is, the enormous self-sacrificing assistance the infantry have received throughout from every gun – Australian, New Zealand, [39th?] and Lowland Brigades – in our position. They have always commenced the fight for us by a heavy bombardment of the enemy, and when themselves most heavily shelled by the enemy’s guns, have continued to keep up their fire without any cessation or hesitation despite all casualties. We can none of us be sufficiently grateful to our gunners, for whom no praise I can give is too great.
I know that every one of us will wish to express our gratitude to the stretcher bearers who regardless of all risks daily have exposed themselves to bring in the wounded under the heaviest of fire.
Our losses I regret to say have been heavy, but that must always be essential when strong and well defended positions have to be taken, and we must remember that the Turkish losses have probably been five or six times as great as ours, and that they are equally exhausted.
The Commander-in-Chief relies upon us hanging on at all costs to all we have gained, and making good new ground whenever we can do so. We have already captured nearly 700 prisoners, including some Germans, two large German trench mortars, nine maxim guns, and one Nordenfeldt, as well as a very large number of rifles and much ammunition. I know well that every member of the force means to stick to it for all he is worth, to see this through to success and show the Turks what much better men we are than they are.
(Sgd) W.R. Birdwood.
Original Report Of The Operations At Anzac
AUGUST 6th to 10th 1915.
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Report of Operations at Anzac
Course of Operations. Commenced at 5-30 pm August 6th. 1st Australian Division successfully attacking the Lone Pine position. Between dark and 9-30 pm in accordance with the pre-arranged programme the Navy shelled the Nek (80 n 8 ) and Old No 3 Post bringing searchlights to bear at intervals. This had been practiced nightly for some weeks and enemy were accustomed to it.
Right Covering Force. At 9pm that portion of General Russels force detailed to attack old No 3 Post crept forward from under cover of the ourposts. At 9-30 the Searchlight which had been directed as usual on oId No 3 Post was switched off. This was signal for attack which was made swiftly and this position was soon captured.
At same time 9-30 pm the forces detailed to attack Big Table Top and Bauchop Hill series of ridges advanced up the Sazli Beit Dere and Chailak Dere and across the latter Gully. Opposition was soon met with and wire entanglement placed across the Chailak Dere delayed the troops advancing by this route for some time. It was however eventually removed. Meantime excellent progress was made against seaward spurs and Bauchop Hill and under cover of these operations, the left Covering Force made its way north for attack on the Damakjelik Bair. Old No 3 Post was captured at 10-50pm August 6th and Bauchop Hill by 1-10am August 7th. Bauchop was here killed.
[Lt. Col. A. Bauchop]
Attack on Big Table Top was prepared by heavy bombardment of 4.5, 5 inch and 6 inch howitzers and Ships guns. Directed on hill with searchlights up to 10apm at which hour assault was timed. Captured at
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11-50 Pm. Maori Contingent acquitted itself well on Bauchop Hill. All, attacks made by bayonet and bomb only. 150 prisoners were taken ammuunition rifles and stores.
Left Covering Force marching via beach road to No 3 Post moved north when attack on Bauchop Hill had somewhat developed. Progress hampered by Chailak Dere which was crossed by sunken roads in which were troops belonging to Right Covering Force. Some temporary intermixture resulted. After clearing Chailak Dere the force marched without interruption to the mouth of the Aghyl Dere though exposed to a certain amount of fire from the spurs of Bauchop Hill which had not then been captured and attacked Damakjelik Bair. Several trenches were rushed by the South Wales Borderers. Hill occupied 1-30 am August 7th and touch was gained with the Troops posted by the left Assaulting Column to picket the Hills in the direction of Koja Chemen Tepe.
Situation. At midnight August 6th/7th was as follows.
Right Covering force in possession Old No 3 Post and Big Table Top. Fighting still proceeding at Bauchop Hill which was finally cleared at 1.10 am Auguust 7th, and Little Table Top.
Left Covering: Force in occupation of the Southern Slopes of Damakjelik Bair, fighting still in progress
Right Assaulting Column moving up Sazli Beit Dera and Chailik Dere.
Left Assaulting Column approaching Aghyl Dere. Reserves still in bivouac.
Right Assaulting Column making use of two lines of advance i.e. the Sazli Beit Dere and the Chailik Dere commenced to advance up these
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gullies at 12-30 am August.
That portion, one battalion which went by the Sazli Beit Dere met with little opposition,
but its advance was slow owing to the extremely intricate nature of the country which caused the column to lengthen out considerably. Shortly before dawn Lt Col Hughes D.S.O. Canterbury Infantry found himself at foot of Rhodendron Ridge and at once led his battalion on to its lower slopes where he joined up with the rest of the column. The greater part of the Right Assault Column moved up Chailik Dere, Otago Bt. leading and soon met opposition necessitating deployment. Advance of column slow owing to broken country.
After taking part in attack on Bauchop (machine gun captured) Table Top (250 prisoners) and ridges in vicinity of Little Table Top S. 80. D I. forced reached Rhodendron Spur and connected up with Canterbury Batt. at 5-45 am August 7th, and whole forced moved up spur and ridge and entrenched on line 80.D 5 and 9 -80 J 3.-80 S. I.
Left Assault Column connected with it at this point by means of the 10th
Gourkas. Here it was exposed to enfalade fire from Battleship Hill S.80. 0.2. and 3. and a trench along the ridge north east of Chunuk Bair. 1-30 am further attack made on Chunuk Bair but without success owing to increasing opposition offered by enemy and fatigue of men. L.A.C. began to move over the Chailik Dere Ford at 12.30 am Aug 7th and followed L.C.F. to Aghyl Dere up which valley it turned. Opposition and difficult country made advance extremely slow.
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4th AIB. Bd Gen Monash moved up the spurs north og the Aghyl Dere fork 92.Y.1 its objective being Koja Chemen Tepe. Country eXceedingly difficult and intricate and progress slow in face of opposition. 29th Indian Brigade advanced up the Agyl Dere South Fork and spurs to north of it, its objective being Hill Q S.8I.A.2.
At dawn 4th AIB. was on line of the Asma Dere 92 P.U.-93 k. Q.7. The 29th I.B. on a ridge west of the farm 80.F.8. and along the spurs to north east.
Cox then ordered Monash to collect his Bde leaving half batn on line Asma Dere and to assault Koja Chemen Tepe giving him the 14th Sikhs from 29th I.B.. Two battns were placed at Cox’s disposal to enable him to consolidate position on Main Ridge. Fatigue and opposition prevented assault from being carried out.
Forces detailed to hold No 3 section less Courtenys Post and 4 Sect did all in power to hold enemy in his defences and draw his fire during night 6th 7th of Aug. This was done by means of rifle a fire and bombs which kept enemy on qui vive all night and drew heavy fire from him.
From 4 Section exceptional heavy bombardment of Turk trenches in front of Russel’s Pope’s Hill Quin’s Post took place all available guns assisted by ships being engaged from 4 to 4-30 am also heavy rifle and machine gun fire. At 4am an assault by 8th Light Horse
was delivered from trenches on Russels Top against the enemy’s trenches on and dominating the Nek. 80.N.8. (Attack fails under terrific rifle and machine gun fire) Simultaneously two assaults were delivered from posts in No 3 Section. From Quinns 2nd A.L.H. assaulted trenches
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inspite of many difficulties and in face of a heavy rifle and machine gun fire. Leading line suffered severely and O.C exercised wise discretion in discontinuing assault. From Pope’s Post 1st A.L.H. moving out round flanks of post delivered an assault and succeeded in reaching third line of enemy’s trenches. About 100 yards of these were held for two hours but then counter attacks forced troops to withdraw as they could not be adequately supported. Severe loss was inflicted on emeny and objective namely to hold him in his trenches was achieved. Our losses heavy Lt.Col. A Miell 9 A.L.H. and Col A White 8th A.L.H. were killed.
Situation at 3-30 pm August 7th was as follows Johnson’s column on Rhodendrum Spur and Ridge, 29th I.B. on Farm Ridge and Spurs to north east 4th A.I B.on the line of Asma Dere.
The R.C.F in occupation of Big Table Top, Old No 3 Post and Bauchop Hill. Russell ordered to hold this line with two regiments Mounted Rifles and to assemble two Regiments and Maori Contingent to move as required
L.C.F. (Travers) in occupation of Damakjelik Bair Forces in No 3 and 4 Sections in occupation original lines having lost severely and all men were very tired. I therefore decided [see note] to halt on these positions and wait until nightfall before attempting to gain footing on Main Ridge (Sari Bair) Fighting severe throughout day, Turks showed little inclination to retire from low ground between Sari Bair Ridge and sea.
[Line, "I therefore decided", raises question of whether Ashmead Bartlett was the author]
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Second Assault on Sari Bair Position
Afternoon of 7th orders issued for advance in three columns
Right Column (Johnstone) 26th I.M.B.
No 1 Com N. Z.E.
N.Z Infantry Brigade.
2 Bts 13th Div. 8th Welsh Pioneers 7th Glouc R.
Objective the line point 161 (80 K.5 &6)- Chunik Bair Point 81 A .4.
Centre and Left Columns (Cox )
No 2 C N.E
39th I.B less one battn but with 6th S.Lan R. attached.
Objective the line 81 ¼. 4- Hill 1 81 i 2) Point 305.
N.Z M.R.B to remain in occupation of Big Table Top Old No 3 Post and Bauchop Hill
40th I B. to remain in occupation of Damakjelik Bair less two battalions.
Attack proceeded by h b. commenced at 4-15 am Aug 8th
On right Gen Johnstone column Wellington I.B. 7th Gloucesters Auckland Mounted Rifles and 8th Welsh Pioneers and Maori con. led by Gen Malone (killed) made determined attack and succeeded in gaining south western slopes of the main knoll of Chunuk Bair
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In Centre 39th I.B. and Indian Brigade moved along gullies leading up to Sa i Bair Ridge -right moving south of farm 80.F 8. on Chunik Bair remainder up the spurs to the north east of the farm on nek 81 A 4. and on Hill Q18I A 2. .Little progress was made but some ground gained on spurs north east of farm
On left 4th A.I.B.advanced from Asma Dere 92 0 U against the lower slopes of Abdel Rahman Bair 93 L. with intention of wheelin to right and attacking Koja Chemen Tepe up the Spur. No progress made and 4th A.I.B being virtually surrounded was withdrawn to its previous line on Asma Dere where it resisted determined attacks
Siruation at 12 noon as follows Johnstone column in occupation S.W slopes of Chunuk Bair. Centre column in occupation farm spurs N.E.
4th AI.B on Asma Dere. 40th Bde less two battalions on the Damakjelik Bair. Decided to break off action until nightfall preparatory to another attack on main ridge using footing gained on Chunuk Bair as pivot
Third Assault on Sari Bair Ridge on afternoon 8th Aug. orders were issued for further advance in three columns to attack the line Chunuk Bair - Hill 1 under cover of footing gained by Johnstone column on morning Aug 8th
Two battns from 29th B.I B joined columns 10th Hampshires and 6th Royal Irish Rifles
New Advance No 1 Coumn Johnstone objective To hold and consolidite ground gained on Aug 8th and in cooperation with other columns to
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gain whole of Chunuk Bair extending to south east
No 2 Column (Cox) objective Hill known as Q 81 A 2. Advance to commence from previous positions
No_3 Column Gen. Baldwin commanding 38th I.B. Position of Assembly the Chailik Dere Head of column at No 80 D 9. Objective Hill known as Q. The column to move east of the farm. This column was to be the main attack and the other columns were ordered to cooperate with it.
Course of the Operations. at 4-30 am Aug 9th heavy bombardment of Chunuk Bair Ridge and Hill Q by naval and land guns. At 5-15 am fire directed on flanks and reverse slopes. In meantine No 3 Column less Loyal North Lancashire Gen Baldwin had assembled at 8pm Aug 8th the Chailik Dere and moved up towards Johnstone’s Headquarters. Gen Baldwin’s plan was to form up his force behind New Zealand Brigade and then launch it in succesive lines to attack. But he was delayed by ground and inclining to left did not reach line of the Farm Chunuk Bair till 5-15am Aug 9th.
Meanwhile 6th Gourkas led by Col C.J.L Allanson advanced up the slopes of Sari Bair and succeeded in crowning heighths on the nek between Chunuk Bair and Hill Q. Here they looked down on Dardanelles. Unfortunately no further troops were in position to follow success. Counter attacks and our own shell fire compelled withdrawl to lower slopes of Sari Bair. Two Companies East Lancashire R. and Hampshire R. who gained high ground immediately below high commanding knoll on Chunuk Bair now attacked. Turks lining crest in great numbers compelled Gen Baldwin to withdraw his command to farm. Col A.R Cole Hamilton 6th East Lans
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N.Z. Troops inspite of repeated attacks by enemy maintained a precarious hold on crest of Chunuk Bair. During evening 6th Leinsters joined force from Army Corps Reserve and were placed under Johnstone. That night general line held by us in this locality ran up Rhododendron Ridge to forward trenches on Chunuk Bair, thence in north westerly direction through the farm and from there northards to the Asma Dere.
Operations 10th Aug
During night 9th - I0th Aug New Zealand Troops on Chunuk Bair relieved by two btsns British Infantry the Loyal North Lancashire Regt and 5th Wilstshire regt. 10th Hamphsire Regt connecting them with troops in far,
Daybreak Aug 10th Turks delivered determined attack from line Chunuk Bair-Hill Q against our position. Partly directed against the two battalions holding crest of Chunuk Bair. Attacked by an entire division and heavy artillery they were forced out of position. Onrush checked by artillery fire. Immense Turkish losses. Fine sight.
Meantine heavy attack was being made against our positions at the Farm and on spurs north east and some portion of our line compelled to give ground. Recovered by firece fighting by bodies of troops under Generals Cayley and Baldwin who set splendid example of personal courage. Baldwin killed. Bde Gen Cooper wounded. Lt Col M.H Nunn 9th Worcesters killed. Lt Col H.G Levinge 6th L.N.L. and Lt Col J Carden 5th Wilts missing.
5th Connaught Rangers completing 29th I.B. (Cooper). Sent up Aghyl Dere. By 10am main attack of Turks had expended itself aand they had lost very heavily
During the morning determined attack was made along our
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northern positions along Asma Dere and on Damak-jelik Bair held by 4th A.I.B. and 4th S.W.Bs . Repulsed with heavy loss to enemy. Second attack delivered at 3pm and also repulsed Lt Col F.M Gillespie commanding 4th S.W.B was killed.
In the 'evening Gen Cox finding line of Farm and spurs to north east untenable withdrew slightly to the line knoll 80 D. 5&6. 80 D 2 — 92 Z 7. This stopped the fighting Casualties 375 Officers 10,158 other ranks killed wounded and missing
Third Assault on Sari Bair Ridge. Composition of Force
No 1 Column Johnston
26th Indian Mountain Battery less one section
Auckland M.R R.
Wellinton M.R R.
No 1 Comp N.Z E.
N.Z Infantry Brigade
2 bts I3th Div. 8th Welsh, 7th Glouo^esters
No 2 Column_Cox_
21 Indian mountain Battery less section
2 Comp N.Z E.
4th A I B.
30th Infantry Brigade less one btn but with 6th South Lancs attached
Indian Infantry Brigade.
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No 3 Column Bd Gen A.H Baldwin
6th East Lancs Regt
6th Loyal N.Lans Regt
6th Royal Irish Rifles
5th Wilts Regt
Original of The Old Guard at Suvla Bay
E. Ashmead Bartlett
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The Old Guard at Suvla Bay on August 21st
The modern War Correspondent is often placed in a difficult and delicate position in his endevours to do justice to the deeds of particular units on the battlefield; whilst at the same time conforming to the universal rule of the Censorship that nothing must be written which will either directly or indirectly betray information which may be of even the remotest value to the enemy. It is much more difficult to make a cable intelligible and interesting when you can only deal in generalities in discribing the movements against an enemy’s front; and it also apt to give the impression that you have been too lazy or too far away to find out which particular band of heroes immortalized themselves in the attack against a position which you have named.
Afterwards when the papers reach the troops in the trenches you are often greeted reproachfully by the men and even by the officers who cannot undersdtand why a particular regiment or Brigade has been mentioned, whereas the unit to which they belong, having equally distinguished itself, receives no recognition at all. Sometimes of course it happens that you receive the local information about a distant part of the firing line too late to embody it in a first dispatch, but in ninety cases out of a houndred it is the censor who step in with excellent reasons from his standpoint -
but which to the writer after all the trouble he has taken seem blatant and palpable trivialities - and removes the names of regiments and brigades substituting the dreaded ‘blank’ or ‘a regiment’ or ‘a brigade’.
This of course robs the story of a great deal of its local interest and leaves the writer with the uncomfortable feeling that he will have some awkward and pertinent questions to answer the next time he visits that section of the line where omissions have occurred. Sir Ian Hamilton has relaxed the rule whenever possible that the names of no regiments must be mentioned in dispatches for the excellent reason as he himself remarked that ‘the composition of the whole of my force was accurately
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known to the enemy before it ever left Cairo. It was impossible to keep any secrets there for the place swarmed with Turkish spies’. This applied to the first phase of the campaign, but the situation altered when the new units began to arrive from England for the great movement which commenced on August 6th and which may be said to have come to a definite standstill on August 21th. The composition of the New Force, may or may not have been known to the enemy, but in any case our leaders had to act on the assumption that it was not, and in any case it was to keep secret the distribution of the units on their arrival at the front.
But now that particular phase of the fighting has come to an end and as there has been a general reshuffling of the Divisions of the Army I suppose there is no harm in stating that it was the 10th and 11th Divisions of the New Army which made the landing at Suvla Bay. On the second day they were reinforced by the 53rd Territorail Division and later on by the 54th. The 13th Division of the New Army was landed secretly at Anzac and took part in all the desperate fighting for the ridge of Sari Bahr, the young and untried soldiers doing extremely well alongside of their more experienced Colonial Comrades. In fact the Colonials took them in hand and helped them to complete their training under the enemy’s fire.
An excellent feeling of friendship has thus sprung up between the men from ‘Down Under’ and these volunteers from all over England, who, let it be said to their lasting credit, were the first to come forward to assist their country a year ago. The 29th Brigade of the 10th Division also fought at Anzac and lateron played a prominent part in the captute of Hill 60 where the Connaught Rangers made a very fine attack.
But this is a diversion from the real purpose of this article which is to do belated justice to the role played by the famous 29th Division in this Homeric Struggle. The renown of the Division is world wide and its number will ever in future be surrounded by that mixed halo of romance and glory which attaches to Caesar’s 10th Legion
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or to Napoleon's Old Guard. In fact the 29th have earned for themselves
the title of the Old Guard of the Army. Unfortunately the veterans who made the original landing at Seddul Bahr are nearly all dead, or else invalided from the front. Some have in fact been wounded many times over as the Division has played the most prominent role in almost every engagement that has been fought on the peninsula during the last six months. I do not know how many times it has consumed itself in its furious attacks on the enemy’s works but already I believe at least three times the number of its original strength have passed through the ranks.
It is here that you see the value of traditions, for it does not matter how young and experienced are the drafts and the officers who command them sent out from home, no sooner do they find themselves under the mysterious halo of number ’29 than they invariably distinguish themselves and fight and die just like that marvelous band of old soldiers the last of our original Regular Army to take the field, who made the historic landing on April 25th.
I will now give the full composition of this famous Division which landed under the command of Major General Hunter Westion and which has since been commanded by Major General DeLisle except at various periods when that General has been called away to exercise a bigger command when the Division has been led by Brigadier General Marshall. The 86th Fusilier Brigade is composed of the following Regiments, The Royal Dublin Fusilers, The Munster Fusilers, The Lancashire Fusilers and the Royal Fusiliers. The 87th Brigade of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers, the Inniskillen Fusilers, the Border Regiment and the South Wales Borderers, and the 88th Brigade of the Hampshire Regiment, the Essex Regiment, the Worcester Regiment and the 5th Royal Scotts (Territorials). It will thus been seen that all four countries England Scotland Ireland and and Wales have the honour to be represented in the 29th Division.
Ample justice has been done in the past to the roles played by the various brigades of this Division up to the time of the series of operations which commenced on August 6th and which terminated for
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for the time being on August 21st. But all mention of the final efforts of this Division to achieve success, when all others had failed, has had to be suppressed up to the present because the mention of it would have involved the disclosure to the enemy of a strategical move which the General Staff considered it advisable to keep secret as long as possible.
But now the enemy is probably in possession of the names of all the units which took part in particular assaults on his positions both from the dead which have been left on the ground, from the publication of our Casualty Lists and from the information of his spies. On August 6th the 29th Division was holding its old position on the left of our line at Helles across the Gully Ravine the trenches captured from the great advance of nearly a mile made on June 28th.
An attempt was made to capture on the afternoon of Aug 6 a section of the enemy’s line known as H.I2. which had long defied all efforts to take it. The 88th Brigade after an artillery bombardment delivered a most gallant assault over ground devoid of cover. Inspite of all efforts the attack did not succeed for the Turks dug in with their usual skill had suffered but little from the preliminary artillery preperation. The Hamp and Worcester Regts suffered severely. Whilst the landing at Suvla Bay and the great advance from Anzac were taking place the 29th Division held its ground and successfully repulsed several attacks of the Turks. When the attempts of the New Divisions to take the Anafarta Hills had feinitely failed on by August 10th there came an interval of ten days before our army could be reorganised and sufficient stores and ammunition landed to allow of a frontal attack on a grand scale on the positions we had failed to capture in the first surprise.
It was then decided to make a final effort
to open up the road for the army and to cut the enemy’s lines of communication by employing the Old Guard of the Army the famous 29th Division. Secretly, at night, the three Brigades were brought up in Trawlers from Helles to Suvla and landed without the Turks being aware of the movement. Personally I had no idea that had arrived on the new battlefield until I went out to Chocolate Hill on that eventful afternoon to take up
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my position to watch the coming attack. There for the first time I found the South Wales Borderers in reserve waiting calmly for the hour which would again luanch them against their old and formidable foe. In my accounts which have appeared in the press of the events of this memorable August 21st the chief credit has been given to the Yeomanry. This is due to the fact that the Censor would not allow any mention of the 29th Division or of other units when it was written for the reasons I have already stated. But in reality the 2nd Mounted Division of Yeomanry were held in reserve behind Lala Baba until late in the day and only came into action after the repeated efforts of the 86th and 87th Brigades of the 29th had failed to shake the enemy's defence.
The Yeomanry deserve every credit for the magnificent manner in which they behaved in action for the first time. They advance for two miles under a perfect hail of shrapnel over ground without even so much as a blade of grass to afford cover before they reached the dead ground at the front of the enemy’s works.
It was the 2nd Brigade under Lord Longford consisting of the Bucks Berks and Dorset Regiments which made the final glorious charge which obtained temporary possession of Hill 70 which had subsecquently to be abandoned in the night. The losses of this Brigade where very heavy the Bucks Regiment losing almost all its officers and men. The arrival of the famous 29th Division on the battlefield stimulated the whole army and showed how seriously our leaders regarded the task ahead for everyone felt that if the 29th failed no other troops could hope to succeed.
We felt indeed that the Old Guard Like the Old Guard at Waterloo they were brought up to make a final effort to break through the enemy’s ever strengthening works. The Division was ranged along the line stretching from Hill 70 to Hill 112. The 87th Brigade was ordered to attack Hill 70 and the 86th Hill 112. The South Wales Borderers acted as a connecting link between the two. The 88th Brigade which had suffered very heavily on August 6th at Helles was held in reserve. Our line across the Sari Bahr Plain was prolonged to the south by the 11th and 10th Divisions whose task
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it was to assault and capture the enemy’s trenches in their immediate front and then to converge to the north and assist in the assault on Hill 112 from the south. The troops rested quietly in their trenches throughout the morning the soldiers of the 29th calm as usual but fully realising the responsibilities of the task assigned to them, which they regarded as more difficult than any attack they had been called upon to make at Hellos, always excepting the oroginal landing. They realised that the whole army were watching them and that a signal, if dangerous honour
on been conferred on them in bringing them to the new battlefield [of] responsibility had been conferred on them in combat.
As I have already discribed the fight in detail I shall not do so again. The first attack on Hill 70 was made by the Inniskillen Fusilers and the Border Regiment. The former regiment in in front whilst the Border Regiment advanced up the south face. Both reminets fought with the utmost courage and gained the crest only to be driven off again by the enemy’s concentrated shrapnel poured in at a range of 1200 yards and by the fire of his machine guns. Throughout the afternoon the 86th Brigade made repeated efforts to advance on Hill 112 suffering heavy losses but could make but little progress in face of the enemy’s determined resistance whilst the 10th and 11th Divisions were also held up in the open plain to the south.
When a final effort was made to capture Hill 70 late in the afternoon the South Wales Borderes were brought up from the reserve. This regiment advanced against the south face before the 2nd Yeomanry Brigade under Lord Longford came up and dug themselves in below the crest. Here they remained until it was almost dark taking part in the final charge gained possession of the crest. It will thus be seen from this brief summary that the brunt of the fighting on August 21st again fell on the 29th Division who advanced to the attack with all their old detremination and dash but even the efforts of these heroic troops ably seconded by the gallant Yeomanry failed to achieve success against an equally brave and equally determined who enjoyed the incalculable
advantage of fighting behind entrenchments placed on commanding hills from some of which he could enfalade with his artillery those which temporarly fell into our hands. But the 29th Division has only added to its fame by this failure
Official Report Of The Capture Of Hill 60 August 27 – 28th 1915
Report on Capture of Hill 60
An attack was commence on the afternoon of the 27th to capture the rest of the underfeature, shown by contour 60, N. of Kaiajik Aghala, which commands the Biyuk Anafarta valley to E. and N. The Turkish works on the knoll consisted of a fire trench on the S.W. side, with two communication trenches run ing N.E. on each side of the knoll itself. There was also a communication trench running N.W. across the top of the knoll connecting with the other two.
These works formed the flank of a line of defences running along the slope of the ridge on the N. side of the KAIAJIK DERE, - During the action of the 21st August a footing had been obtained on the knoll, part of the enemy’s South Westerly trench had been occupied by the N.Z. Mounted Rifles, and a new trench of our own further East had been made and occupied and on the left the flank of our line N. Westwards to SUSAK KUYU rested on the knoll.
Communication trenches had been dug to the trenches actually held on the N. side of the Dere. The objective selected was the knoll itself, on the N.E. side of which the two main communication trenches join, forming a line of defence round the knoll; also a set of trenches E. of the knoll on a front of about 100 yds. The attack was to be made in three columns. 4th and 5th Bdes. were were to carry the set of trenches E. of the knoll. In the centre a detachment furnished by the N.Z. Mtd. Rifles and 5th Australian Bdes. were to carry the Eastern communication trench on the knoll and the trench across the top. On the left a detachment of the Connaught Rangers were given the Northern communication trench as their objective. A preminary bombardment of the knoll, the enemy trenches N. of the Kaiajik Dere, the enemy’s gun positions and approaches to the objective com enced at 4 P.M.
The assault was launched at 5 P.M. the artillery continuing their fire on targets other than the actual objective; at the same time a heavy covering fire from rifles and machine guns was opened on Turkish trenches which could fire on the attackers. The launching of the attack drew a heavy fire of enemy shrapnel, machine guns and rifles followed in a short time by heavy shell on to the knoll, where the enemy shrapenl burst all over the position, including the trenches still occupied by the enemy.
The right column was checked by machine gun fire and could make no headway. The centre column carried the cross communication trench, but could not succeed in reaching the top of the knoll. On the left Connaught Rangers reached their objective and commenced to fight their way along the communication trench, to join up with the New Zealanders. Fighting then became confused and went on till 9.30 P.M. At 8.30 a heavy bomb attack had compelled the Connaught Rangers to relinquish the ground they had won and retire to their former position and subsequent efforts to recapture this part of the position did not succeed.
In the morning the situation was that the Centre column had captured and retained about 150 yards of trench N.E. of their former line, also the communication tranch across the knoll between the part captured and their former position, the other assaulting parties had been withdrawn to their original positions. During the action the N.Z. Mtd. Rifles paptured a Turkish machine gun, which was turned against the Turks. In this action the enemy’s losses were heavy as in spite of the bombardment from our guns as well as their own suffered by the garrison of the Turkish position, the foremost trench was found crowded with men, when rushed by the N.Z. Mtd rifles. These men fought to the last and were shot down by the New Zealanders.
At 1 a. m. of the following night the trench out of which the left column had been compelled to retire, was seized by a charge made by the 10th Light Horse. The position has now been secured and connected with our previous line by a trench leading back from the left of the position to the farm at the green patch N.W. of Kaiajik Aghala. The whole objective as thus been secured.
Original Notes on letter to Mr Asquith
[Handwritten notes for his letter to the Prime Minister]
Sep 8. 1915
Dear Mr Asquith
I hope you will excuse the liberty am taking in writing to you, but I consider you ought to know the true state of affairs out here.
(1) Fiasco of the last attack
(2) The strategical and tactical errors committed.
(3) The false statements that have been made about our nearly succeeding
(4) The useless slaughter of the affair of Aug. 21st
(5) The effect on the morale of the Army
(6) The absolute necessity of changing the C in C & General Staff.
(7) Point out how hopeless our position is unless we are certain of the cooperation of the Bulgarians
[Handwritten notes continued]
(8) State the coming of winter & the possibility of withdrawal.
(9) Show how useless are our positions & how they will be exposed to constant shell fire
(10) Describe the position at Helles Anzac & Suvla Bay.
(11) State the present sick rate as given by General Reid (12) What are the chances of the Balkan League being revived?
(13) Point out how our losses are always stated to be less than the Turks & how absurd this is.
(14) State the difficulties of the enemy.
(15) State how these views are held by the majority of the Army
(16) Point out how necessary it is to make preparations for the winter at once if it is decided to remain
[Handwritten notes continued]
(17) Suggest that the Colonial Troops be taken off the Peninsular & thoroughly rested. How their morale will suffer if they are left at Anzac throughout the winter.
(18) State at end why the letter has been written. How critical it is the truth should be known & how the staff are keeping back the truth [from?] the government.
Original Letter On Mr Churchill's Statements In The House Of Commons On His Share In The Dardanelles Expedition, Which Appeared In The Times Nov 24 1915
[Letter by Ashmead Bartlett which appeared in The Times, in full, 24 Nov. 1915, in response to Mr Churchill’s personal statement to the House of Commons on 15 November]
Mr. Churchill’s Explanations
To the Editor of 'The Times'.
We seem to have reached the end of the sensational revelations over the Dardanelles Expedition for the time being, but I would like to make some observations which will throw further light on various points raised in Mr. Churchill’s speech. The Government has, or is in any way credited with, the laudable desire to set our house in order and to prevent a repetition of those mistakes in the future which have brought us to the verge of disaster in the past, and after the speeches of the Prime Minister, Sir Edward Carson and Mr. Churchill there can be no longer any grounds for concealing certain facts in connection with the Naval operations which preceded the landing of our Army in Gallipoli.
Three fundamental points stand out clearly from the recent controversies and most of our troubles can be traced to them. First and foremost we have never had a General Staff at the War Office since the beginning of the War, when all the best brains in the Service, with that laudable and natural desire to meet the enemy in the field, left for the front. Secondly, when Lord Kitchener was appointed
War Minister, no effort was made to create a new General Staff and the government were apparently well content to leave the entire direction of all the branches of the Service in his able hands - a task which has naturally proved beyond the powers of even a super-Napoleon. Thirdly, the War Council, which seems to be a development of what was formerly the Committee of Imperial Defence, assumed the general direction of the strategy of the war. Thus in lieu of a trained General Staff our many campaigns have been directed on some occasions at Lord Kitchener’s sole initiative but in the majority of cases by a group of civilians, well skilled in political strategy and tactics, but quite unacquainted with war, either from the practical or theoretical standpoint. Each member, however, has apparently been able to call upon the support of some tame military expert to back his schemes, however wild and ill conceived.
I propose only to deal with the Dardanelles Expedition, but there is one point which cannot be passed over because it throws such a flodd of light on the manner in which all our operations have been I conducted up to date. This is the origin of the Antwerp Expedition.
Note his words:
‘The project of sending a relieving army to Antwerp did not originate with me. It originated with Lord Kitchener and the French Government. I was not concerned or consulted in the arrangements until they had advanced a long way, and until large bodies of troops were moving or under orders to move.... On the night of October 2nd at midnight I was summoned to a conference at Lord Kitchener’s house, where Sir Edward Grey, Lord Kitchener and others were present.’
In the forts? (4) What steps had been taken to defend the Channel by mines and land torpedo tubes? (5) What were the exact positions of minefields? On every one of these all-essential points we had no reliable information. It does not seem as if the all-important question of what the surviving ships of the Fleet, if they did succeed in getting through the Narrows, were to do, supposing the Turks refused to make peace on their arrival off Constantinople, was discussed at all. Because they could not stay up there indefinitely and the problem would then have arisen how to get them back through the Narrows again. In fact, the expert opinion, behind which the Government is desperately striving to entrench, seems to have resolved itself into a purely academic discussion as to the probable effect of the fire of ships’ guns on forts. Here again opinion seems to have been divided, and Sr A. Wilson alone took the right view that it would be possible to smash the outer forts without much difficulty, but then we would have to ‘wait and see’ .
It would be interesting to know whether the two experts who knew the Turks and their resources better than any others were ever consulted at all. The one is Admiral Limpus who had charge of the Turkish Fleet before the war, and the other is Colonel Tyrrell, our Military Attache in Constantinople during the Balkan War. Colonel Tyrrell, who had made a close study of the Turkish Army and the causes for its defeat, realised quite clearly that this defeat was due to surprise
attack, the scattered state of their armies, and the failure of their commissariat, and not to any inherent deterioration in the fighting qualities of the race. I would like to state here that Colonel Tyrrell was sent to the Army in Gallipoli to take over the duties as Chief of the Intelligence Department in the middle of September, when the active operations had come to a complete standstill. Thus we entered on this enterprise, knowing little or nothing of the enemy's defences, but strong in the faith that because 15-in. Howitzers had smashed up Antwerp, the Queen Elizabeth’s 15-in, guns, backed by the Fleet’s 12-in., could smash up the forts of the Narrows. But a Howitzer drops a shell vertically from a fixed platform, where shot after shot can be made to fall within a yard, whilst the high velocity flat trajectory shells of ships’ guns can drop in nothing, to do any damage they have got to bore their way right through earthworks or else score direct hits on the gun embrasures. Neither can the same accuracy of fire be obtained, because a ship is always moving platform, shifting perceptibly with every puff of wind, with every wave, and every current.
Now I would like to examine these operations in as much detail as your valuable space will allow. Mr. Churchill made this remarkable statement in the House: ‘The first stage of the attack was successful beyond our hopes’. This is the first time I have ever heard this
view expressed, because almost all Naval men who took part in the early bombardments with whom I have spoken express the opinion that it was the difficulty in smashing the outer forts which first opened their eyes to the true nature of their task, when the time came to attack the Narrows. The first bombardment was on February 19th and was confined to the outer forts at Helles, Seddul Bahr, and Kume Kale.
These works are fully exposed and can be partly enfiladed. They mounted old-fashioned Krupp guns, mostly 9.5s and some larger, but the extreme range was only some ten thousand yards. They were erected in fact, to sweep to entrance to the Straits, and not to oppose a long range attack from the sea. The guns are mounted behind banks of earth, reinforced by concrete, and the guns are fired through embrasures. The interior of these works are open and the ammunition is piled up round the guns with imminent danger of exploding if a shell bursts inside. The effect of this bombardment was thus logged by a certain battleship. ‘The results obtained on the whole seemed satisfactory, especially against forts 3 and 6, but on the whole little serious damage seems to have been done except against fort 6'.
Further efforts were delayed by bad weather and it was not until February 25th that the Fleet again resumed the attack. The action opened at ten a.m. and the last shot was fired at about four-forty- five by a battery behind Kume Kale. The forts were bombarded at long range by the Queen Elisabeth, Agememnon, Lord Nelson, Irresistible,
and Gaulois, whilst the Vengeance, Cornwallis, Suffren and Charlemagne working in pairs were ordered to run in to 3000 yards range and engage the forts with their secondary armament, endeavouring to knock out the guns with direct hits. The Triumph and Albion also took part. The result of this bombardment was to silence all the Turkish forts at Helles, Seddul Bahr and Kume Kale. But when Marines were landed at Seddul Bahr on the following day the actual material damage was found to be extremely small. The interior of the works had hardly suffered and it was found necessary to blow up the guns with guncotton.
The attempted landing of Marines at Kume Kale for a similar purpose on March 4th was repulsed. The net result of these operations against the outer works was to prove this; that although these reinforced earthworks might be smothered by shell fire and the gunners driven to their bombproofs, under highly favourable conditions, yet the actual material damage inflicted by ships’ shells was relatively unimportant unless a direct hit was scored on the gun. Thus up to this point there was nothing to encourage great hope for the future.
Now we come to the all important interval between the fall of the outer works on February 25th, and the great battle fought on March 18th, which resulted so disastrously for us. It would take up too much of your valuable space to describe all the operations during this period in detail, but certain events must be noted. The silencing and destruction of the outer works enabled minesweepers to enter the
Dardanelles and sweep its lower reaches. On February 27th Battleships entered the Straits and attacked Fort Dardanus. Again on March 1st
and 2nd Fort Dardanus was attacked and damaged and minesweepers swept
under fire to within three thousand yards of Kephez Point. On the same day a minefield was located by a seaplane running north-west from port Dardanus, thate is, some distance below the Narrows. On March 4th the concealed batteries on the Asiatic shore opened fire for the first time.
On March 7th the Agememnon and Lord Nelson entered the Dardanelles and engaged the Forts of the Narrows, assisted by the French battleships Suffren, Charlemagne and Gaulois. A very severe engagement was fought and the ships came under a terrific - but fortunately ill-aimed - fire both from the Forts at the Narrows and those at Kephez Point. Both the Agememnon and Lord Nelson were hit several times, the former vessel receiving a fourteen-inch shell through her quarter-deck.
The object of these operations was to enable the minesweepers to clear the channel and thus prepare a way for the older battleships to engage the Forts at the Narrows at close quarters, covered by the long range fire of the Queen Elizabeth, the Inflexible, the Agememnon and the Lord Nelson. But the sweeping made little or no progress. It was impossible for the destroyers and trawlers to approach the enemy’s minefield by daylight, owing to the tremendous fire poured on them from the forts and from the concealed batteries on the Asiatic and Gallipoli Coasts. On March 7th the crews of the
minesweepers were replaced by volunteers from the Fleet, but nevertheless the work hung fire. The strong current, running in places at 4 knots, added enormously to the difficulties. At length the desperate experiment was decided on of endeavouring to send the destroyers and some of the trawlers above the minefield by night and then allowing them to sweep down with the current. These attempts were made on the nights of March 11th, 12th and 13th. The destroyers and trawlers came under the enemy's searchlights and were exposed to a terrible fir. They stuck to their task, but the results were small and but few mines were exposed or destroyed.
On the night of March 13th the enemy allowed the small craft to get right in the centre of the minefield before they ever turned on their searchlights and then they opened up such a terrible fire that the work had to be abandoned and a general ‘sauve qui peut' ensued.
Now we come to Mr. Churchill’s statement that ‘across the prospect of the operations a shadow began to pass at the end of the first week in March’. What was this shadow? I will give it in Mr. Churchill’s own words:
‘The difficulties of sweeping up the mine fields increased, and although great success was obtained by the ships in silencing the forts, they were not able at that stage to inflict decisive and permanent damage. The mobile armament of the enemy began to develop and to become increasingly annoying’.
It is obvious that as a condition precedent before the Fleet actually attempted to force the Dardanelles a passage had to be cleared through this triple mine field below the Narrows, for no Admiral would
attempt to take a Fleet through three lines of mines, right under the fire of a hundred guns, many of heavy calibre, without running the risk of incurring the greatest Naval disaster in the history of this, or any other country.
But in spite of the shadows which were now settling deeply over the whole enterprise, Mr. Churchill in the same paragraph as the last one I have quoted continues as follows:
‘It was therefore decided that the gradual advance must be replaced by more vigorous measures. Admiral Carden was Invited to press hard for a decision, and not to be deterred by the inevitable loss.’
Now it is obvious from this statement that the experts had changed their opinion or else that Mr. Churchill had succeeded in changing the opinion of the experts. Because in the early part of his speech he makes the following statement in reference to his telegram to Admiral Carden, putting to him this specific question:
‘Do you consider the forcing of the Dardanelles by ships alone a practicable operation? The Admiral replied to the effect that the Dardanelles could not be rushed, but could be reduced by a regular and sustained naval bombardment. I put the same question simultaneously to Sir Henry Jackson, the present First Sea Lord, and received from him an almost similar answer.
‘The coincidence of opinion between these two officers, both of the highest attainments and so differently ciroumstanced, one on the spot, the other the expert at the Admiralty who was studying the Eastern theatre with the War Staff - the coincidence of opinion between those two made a profound impression on my mind.’
The French Naval Staff must also have changed their minds at this stage, or else were won over or not consulted at all, because Mr.
Churchill expressly states that when the original plan was submitted to them:
‘They were very favourably impressed by the plan, and they announced their agreement, and said it was a plan conceived in a spirit which was prudent et prevoyant. They pointed out that it enabled us to withdraw at any stage should the gunnery results not be such as we anticipated.’
But at this stage the plan prudent et prevoyant was about to be
thrown overboard and also the deliberately considered opinion of Admiral Carden and Sir Henry Jackson that the Dardanelles could not be rushed but could be reduced by a regular and sustained bombardment’. This was obviously the stage at which to withdraw, as the French had pointed out when they gave their original approval of the undertaking, because, according to Mr. Churchill, the ships ‘were not able at this stage to inflict
decisive and permanent damage’ on the forts although they might silence
Next we come to the remarkable discrepancies in the statements
made by Mr. Asquith on November 2nd and those of Mr. Churchill on
November 15th. Mr. Asquith stated:
‘After full investigation and consultation with naval experts, including the Admiral commanding in that part of the Mediterranean, notwithstanding - I am betraying no secret in saying this - notwithstanding some doubts and hesitations which undoubtedly there were in the mind of our principal naval adviser at that time, Lord Fisher, the Government felt justified in sanctioning a naval attack.’
On the other hand, Mr. Churchill stated: ‘I attach importance to the fact that at no time did I receive from Lord Fisher any criticism of the definite method
‘of attack proposed. In principle he had doubts and objections; but on the special technical points involved, I received from him at no time any expression of adverse criticism.’
When came the parting of the ways between Mr. Churchill and Lord Fisher? It is obvious that it was some time in the first half of March, when ’across the prospects of the operations a shadow began to pass’. It would seem as if Lord Fisher became sceptical of the whole enterprise directly he realised the inability of the Fleet to clear the enemy’s mine field, or to locate any other underwater defences, the difficulties of silencing the forts of the Narrows by long range direct fire, and the inability of the Fleet to knock out the mobile batteries on both sides of the Straits. He evidently realised that none of the conditions precedent for a successful attempt to force the Narrows had been fulfilled, and under the circumstances the Fleet might be faced with a grave disaster.
But these obstacles, none of which had been overcome, seem to have had the reverse effect on Mr. Churchill, and to have nerved him on to a greater determination to rush the affair through, in spite of the existence of the unswept mine field, the unsilenced forts, the mobile batteries, and other even more deadly defences which may, or may not, have existed at this period. How far the experts and the French, whose opinions, as quoted by Mr. Churchill, were diametrically opposed to a rush, were with him at this stage we are not told, and once again we are faced with the extreme difficulty of arriving at
the true facts about anything connected with the Dardanelles.
To quote Mr. Churchill again, after the shadows began to fall in the early part of March:
‘It was therefore decided that the gradual advance must be replaced by more vigorous measures. Admiral Garden was invited to press hard for a decision, and not to be deterred by the inevitable loss. . . . . These Admiralty telegrams were the result of close consultations between the First Sea Lord and myself, and, like every other order of importance which has emanated from the Admiralty during my tenure of office, in peace or war, bear the written authority of the First Sea Lord. I wish to make that point quite clear. I may extend it, and say there is no important act of policy, no scheme of Fleet distribution, or of movements of ships, or of plans of war, which has been acted on during my tenure at the Admiralty, in which the First Sea Lord has not concurred in writing.’
From this passage in his speech it would appear that Lord Fisher had given his full written approval to the ‘gingering-up process’ which was now taking place and which led to the attack on March 18th, were it not qualified by a further passage a little later:
‘I am not going to embark on any reproaches this afternoon, but I must say I did not receive from the First Sea Lord either the clear guidance before the event, or the firm support afterwards which I was entitled to expect. If he did not approve of the operation he should have spoken out at the 'War Council.’
The two passages can hardly be reconciled. In fact, the more we examine Mr. Churchill’s a speech and compare it with the Prime Minister’s, and then consider Lord Fisher’s subsequent resignation, we only become the more deeply involved in the fog of obscurity and uncertainty which shrouds all these events.
But the most remarkable misunderstanding of all is over the
action of the 18th of March. Mr. Churchill evidently thought, and the public have been led to believe too, that the fight on the 18th was a deliberate attempt to force a passage through the Narrows and to reach
In reality it was nothing of the sort and was never intended to be by the officers in command on the spot. This fight, in which the Allies lost three capital ships, the Bouvet, the Ocean and the Irresistible, sunk outright, in addition to the Gauloise, run ashore on Rabbit Island to prevent her sinking, and the Inflexible, a Dreadnought Cruiser, so badly damaged that it was thought she must sink, in addition to several other ships seriously injured, was merely an attempt on the part of the Fleet to clear the triple mine field below the Narrows.
The Fleet was prepared, of course, to take advantage of any favourable condition that might possibly arise for a dash through, but it was hardly within the scheme of operation that this dash should take place on the same day. The plan of campaign was for the Fleet to silence the forts at the Narrows, those at Kephez Point and Port Dardanus to enable destroyers and trawlers to sweep the mine field, which they had hitherto been unable to do.
A careful study of the fight of March 18th will prove these facts beyond a doubt. It was at eleven a.m. that the first squadron, consisting of the Queen Elizabeth, Agememnon, Lord Nelson and Inflexible, steamed into the Straits and took up a position across them, abreast of Aren Koi. At eleven-twenty-five the Agememnon fired the first
shot. A deliberate bombardment then took place, at a range of 14,000 yards, of the forts at Chanak and Kilid Bahr. The covering ships came under a heavy fire from the shore batteries and the Agememnon was hit no less than twelve times and had to shift her position. Meanwhile, shortly after noon, the third division of four ships, the Bouvet, Gaulois, Suffren and Charlemagne, under Admiral Guepratte, entered the Straits and steamed past the covering ships.
They steamed boldly up to within 9,000 yards of the Narrows, and opened up on the forts, which replied vigorously. The Gaulois was badly hit forward and had to leave the Straits in a sinking condition. The forts were in no way silenced and at one-forty-five the French ships began to retire down the Straits at high speed. At 1.51 the Bouvet, on the Asiatic side, appeared to be struck by a large projectile just abreast of the mainmast and above her armour belt. The accident may have been due to a mine, but in any case her magazine exploded and she sank in ninety-five seconds with the loss of practically all her crew.
Meanwhile, at 1.15, the Inflexible, 14,000 yards away from the Narrows, was struck in the fore-top by a shell which killed and wounded everyone in it except one man. At the same time, a fire broke out on her fore-bridge, and she had to quit the line and deal with the damage. Meanwhile the second division, under Captain Hayes Sadler, entered the Straits and relieved the French ships, advancing almost, to Kephez Point. Meanwhile the combined fire of the covering ships and the Second Division
had practically silenced the forts at Chanak and Kilid Bahr, but these had not been knocked out, and the gunners were merely withdrawn to cover. I subsequently saw in Rome the Turkish official account of the attack. There is no doubt that at one time they were greatly scared at the tremendous volume of fire poured on them by our ships, but at the same time these reports are full of thanks to Providence that the loss of life was so extraordinarily small and the actual damage practically nil. The cessation of the fire enabled the minesweepers to sweep a channel to Kephez Point. They exploded one mine and brought two others to the surface, but that was all.
Now commenced a series of disasters which finally brought the operation to a close. At four p.m. the Inflexible was struck by a mine forward, which flooded her fore submerged flat, and she had to leave the Straits. At 4.15 the Irresistible was also struck by a mine and listed to starboard, and, being caught in a back eddy, she drifted up towards Kephez Bay. Destroyers went to her assistance and took off the crew under a tremendous fire from the forts, which immediately re-opened when they realised the disaster had occurred. The Battleship Ocean was ordered to go to her assistance, and also struck a mine. Both Battleships had to be abandoned and subsequently sank.
The light was now failing and the Fleet left the Dardanelles. No one knows where those mines came from. They were probably floating mines thrown into the current by the Turks. The two which sank the Ocean and the Irresistable may have been part of an
undiscovered mine field in Kephez Bay or they may have been mines released by the sweepers off Kephez itself. The net result of these operations was the actual knocking out of two guns by direct hits at Chanak, and the killing of 35 Turks, according to their reports to the Rome embassy.
It has been frequently claimed that but for the unforeseen disasters to the Bouvet, the Ocean and the Irrisistible, the Straits might have been forced that afternoon, but an examination of the times at which the various incidents occurred shows that this is absolutely out of the question. The 1st Division did not commence the bombardment until 11.30, the light not being favourable before that hour. The 2nd Division did not enter the Straits to relieve the French ships until after 2 p.m. and the enemy’s fire from the Narrows began to die down, I believe, about 3 p.m. It was not until 3.10 p.m. that the mine-sweepers closed in and began to sweep the channel to Kephez Point.
No further attempt to advance was made by the 2nd Division by 4.15, when the Irresistible was struck, and by 5 p.m. it was too dark either to shoot or to attempt the passage of the Narrows. Meanwhile the enemy’s main mine field had never been touched. These facts ought to effectively dispose of the ideas prevalent in some minds, including, apparently, Mr Churchill’s, that the attack was not pressed home and would have succeeded if it had been. The Navy did everything
But now comes an amazing confession on Mr. Churchill’s part.
‘The Admiral, after the attack on the 18th, determined to renew it at the first opportunity and telegraphed accordingly. But after consultation with the General, it was determined to substitute for the purely naval operation a joint naval and military attack. I regretted this at the time, and endeavoured to persuade the First Lord to send a telegram, ordering arresumption of the naval attack. But we could not reach an agreement, and in view of the concensus of opinion of the naval and military authorities on the spot, I submitted to the alternative, but I submitted with great anxiety.’
This is an extraordinary statement to make, and after what had happened one can only come to the conclusion that Mr. Churchill was not in possession of all the facts, or else that he drew entirely erroneous deductions from them. We have to thank Lord Fisher, apparently, together with the Naval and Military authorities on the spot, for saving this country and the Fleet from a disaster which would certainly transcended in othe in our naval history.
At best, our attack would only have been a repetition of the former effort to clear the mine field under less favourable conditions. The forts were practically intact. The mine field had not been touched. We were minus five capital ships, including a Dreadnought Cruiser. The Turks had also fathomed our plans of campaign and above all they had learnt – and this is clearly expressed in the confidential reports I read in their mbassy at Rome – that, however terrible the concentrated
fire of a number of ships may seem at first si ght, the material results are relatively small, which is clearly shown, not only from the failure of our attacks on the Narrows, but subsequently by the inability of naval guns to drive the Turkish infantry from their trenches.
Mr Churchill, of course, may claim that he based his opinion on Admiral de Robeck's cable which I have already quoted. But allowance must be made for the position and feelings of that gallant and determine fighter after the repulse of the 18th. He knew the wish of the Government to carry the affair through without delay and there was also the very natural desire to attempt to avenge the losses sustained and to prove to the enemy that a repulse is in no sense a defeat. But even this statement, that ‘the Admiral after the attack on the 18th determined to renew it at the first opportunity and telegraphed accordingly’, is qualified by another in the very same paragraph, like almost every other statement in this speech, which only serves to add to the general confusion. For Mr. Churchill says:
‘It was determined to substitute for the purely naval operation a joint naval and military attack. I regretted this at the time, and endeavoured to persuade the First Lord to send a telegram, ordering a resumption of the naval attack. But we could not reach an agreement, and in view of the concensus of naval and military opinion on the spot. I submitted to the alternative of, but I submitted with great anxiety.’
The italics are mine. This passage shows that Mr. Churchill must have misunderstood the true purport of Admiral de Robeck’s first cable after the fight, or else that the gallant Admiral, after more
mature consideration, changed his mind and decided that only a joint naval and military attack was practicable.
The exact measure of responsibility which each party must bear in the tragedy of the Dardanelles cannot yet be settled. But the facts underlying the naval attack are simple and the merest tyro can understand them. We attempted a most difficult operation, as usual underestimating our opponents and without any adequate information on the essential points.
We persisted in our effort, even when none of the conditions precedent for forcing the Narrows - of which the experts based their consent - were fulfilled. In consequence, we got a fair and square beating at which we cannot complain. We went all out on March 18th. There were no half measures. How many Englishmen would have slept soundly in their beds that night had they known that our latest and greatest Dreadnought, the Queen Elizabeth, was a long way up the Straits throughout the whole of the 18th amongst drifting mines, one of which actually knocked out the Inflexible, of the same division, and on the same alignment off Aran Koi.
E. Ashmead Bartlett
Manuscript Of General Walker's Report Of The Work Of The First Australian Division At Gallipoli. 1915.
[Pages 163 to 186 - Manuscript of Major General Walker’s report, titled, ‘Short record of the doings of the 1st Brigade’. Not transcribed. For typewritten copy by Ashmead Bartlett, see pages 195 to 204 for typewritten copy]
[Pages 187 to 190 - Manuscript document, by Major General Walker written on paper with letterhead, Junior United Service Club, London S.W. Not transcribed. For typewritten copy by Ashmead Bartlett, see pages 191 to 194]
Typewritten Copy of Major General Walker’s handwritten report on the operations of the 1st Australian Division at Anzac 1915
[This typewritten copy, which is presumed to be by Ashmead Bartlett, comprises copies of Major General Walker’s report, pages 187 to 190 and a longer report, ‘Short record of the doings of the 1st Brigade, pages 163 to 186, both handwritten, neither of which have been transcribed]
General Walker’s Report
[Major General H.B. Walker, an English General, commanded the 1st Brigade from 30 April, following death of General McLaurin]
The following units of the Australian Forces landed in April and May on the Gallipoli Peninsular.
First Australian Division
First Infantry Brigade – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, Battn – Brig. General McLaurin
Second Infantry Brigade – 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Battn – Brig. Gen. McKay [MacCay]
Third Infantry Brigade – 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th Battn – Brig. Gen. Sinclair MacLagan D.S.O.
Three Artillery Brigades under command Brigadier General Hobbs, and portions of the Divisional Columns, and Brigade Ammunition Columns; Field Ambulances and Supply Column. The Second Light Horse Brigade – Brig. General Ryrie composed of the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th Light Horse Regiments
Three Field companies of Engineers – Commanding Lt. Col. Elliot, R.E.
In The New Zealand & Australian Division
There were the 4th Infantry Brigade – Commanding Brig. Gen. Monash
Battalions were the 13th, 14th, 15th, & 16th also the 1st Light Horse Brigade – Commanding Brig. Gen. Chauval, CMG.
Regts. 1st, 2nd, 3rd Regiments – The above had been superfluous to the establishment of the First Australian Division, therefore were given to the New Zealand and Australian division which was not up to establishments in New Zealanders. Thus General Birdwood’s Army Corps was composed mainly of Australians.
Most L of C units were left in Egypt, some however were brought forward to Lemnos. Casualty clearing stations also were established on Anzac Beach.
All Light Horse Brigades were brought over dismounted, their horses, splendid animals most of them being left in Egypt with suffency of men to look after them.
It can be truthfully said that a more efficient division has rarely been sent to the Front. British officers of the Imperial service are and have been unanimous in their praises of the troops for their dash and gallantry. The covering force to the landing on the 25th April was composed of the 3rd Brigade.
They were followed by the First Brigade and then the 2nd Brigade, - the 400 Mateau [Plateau] now famous for the "Lone Pine" and Johnson's Folly" positions, was soon gained and detachments of intrepid Australians fought forwards towards Kodja Derr. whence alas few returned. Of one party of thirty, I believe they belonged to the 4th Battalion, only 5 returned.
The Heights known as "Battleship Hill" and Baby 700" were also gained by detachments of various battalions, some of whom are even said to have reached Sari Bair (971), but from lack of numbers and want of reinforcements these detachments were eventually driven back. On the third day the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, less half of the Wellington Regiment were sent up to the left flank to try and make good "The neck", when a collection of detachments of various battalions of the Australian
Division were battling to hold their own under the gallant Colonel Braun, who was destined to die a fiew days later by the hand of one of his own sentries, who mistook him for a sniper. The opportunity, however, to make good bad parts, and the most the New Zealand Brigade could do was to save the exhausted remnants of the Australians, and make good the position known as Russel’s Top, and Walker’s Ridge.
It was now apparent that a further move forward could not be made and all units were reorganised in their turn. The position practically now held was entrenched the 3rd Brigade on the South of the Line; the 2nd Brigade next to the North; the 1st Brigade was taken out to refit but had to return to the trenches to replace some of the Maori divisions to the north of the 2nd Brigade, and it remained there until the end of August, when it - now some 1100 rifles only - was taken out and sent to Lemnos to rest.
Short Record Of The Doings Of The First Brigade
After relieving the Naval Division, this Brigade held the line from Courtenay’s Post, Shrapnel Gully, along the Western edge of the Plateau 400, as far as the left of the 3rd Brigade (the second Brigade being taken away early in May to be sent to Helles (see under news of 2nd Brigade later)-) The northern part of this line was commanded by "Battleship Hill" and throughout the whole period was shelled daily.
Standing room was scanty since to the rear of the position were steep slopes and gullies. In front was the notorious German officer’s trench. The trenches made the first few days were of necessity, shallow and many badly sited. To render them secure they had to be widened and deepened, and more communication trenches cut. A few forward moves had to be made to improve siting. Watering parties were much exposed and the walk was hazardous.
In the middle of May while this work was going on, the Turks made their famous attack, the 3rd battalion suffered rather heavily in proportion to their numbers, the brunt of the attack in this area falling on them. A partially completed trench across Owen’s Gully received particular attention. Here Lieutenant Street of the battalion particularly distinguished himself until he fell. Other names to be remembered in connection with this defence are:- Captain (now Lietu-Col) McConaghey and Captain Austin (afterwards killed on August 6th in Lone Pine when gallantly leading his company). There were many othere since killed - the list of rank and file would be
too lengthy a one to remember. The spirit of the men of this Battalion is evidenced by a remark of one of the men made to the Divisional Commander subsequent to the failure of the second attack of the Turks. "I wish they'd come on in the real attack. I don’t call what we’ve had much of an attack".
The other three battalions of the Brigade did equally well, and names of officers that can be remembered who distinguished themselves are Majors Kingdon, and Davidson, Lieutenants Lloyd and Howell-Price, Captains Jacobs and Jackson and Sergt. Frame, all of the First Battalion, Stevens 2nd Battalion, Scott and Mapie of 4th Battalion.
After this attack preparations for assuming the offensive when the time arrived for doing so were undertaken, and also mining operations. The system devised was all underground work. Tunnels were driven forward and a new firing line. also underground. One vast continuous tunnel was commenced on a frontage of nearly a thousand yards.
The vast amount of labour invloved may be imagined, yet by August, when it was hoped the arrival of reinforcements (to be landed at Suvla) would mean a general forward movement. A perfect system of tunnels leading to the new firing line were, together with the latter cutting, completed. During this period there was at times heavy fighting and mining. The attack on German officer's trenches in July by 100 rifles of the first Battalion under Lieut Lloyd must be mentioned. This trench which was a continual menace to Quins Post, and contained machine guns was rushed and partially destroyed some 40 out of 100 rifles
being killed and wounded. Lloyd and a Lance Corporal, whose name I cannot mention, destroyed a machine gun.
Sergt Traeine, a Mexican by birth, a scout of the highest order and of great gallantry, must also be mentioned in connection with this attack. Another episode in connection with this Battalion is worthy of mention. To support an attack from Quins Post, the First Battalion brought their machine guns into action at close range, one gun under Howell Price had to take up a position on a ridge in rear of the trenches. Though under a tremendous fire from two hostile machine guns, the gun was brought by its No 1 (Private Arnott) until his [space] were shot away, and he himself was fully exposed, when he fell with a shattered jaw. For this Pte. Arnott was awarded a well deserved D.C.M.
In connection with the tunnelling and mining the 2nd Field Company of Engineers (its Major Commanding McCall) did yeoman's service. Major McCall in the earlier days had done splendid work in opening up communications, now spent his days in the tunnels. Other names of officers to be mentioned are Bachthold, Dyer and Costello. It is regretted the long list of N.C.Os and men is not available, but there were many fine performances to be recorded on behalf of this company. The 1st Field Company working on the portion of the trenches on Plateau 400 rendered yeoman’s service in supervising and helping in the underground work against Johnson’s Jolly and Lone Pine positions. Numerous mines had to be exploded, always in our favor, the Turks in every case being forestalled. The work of this
company culminated at Lone Pine when between the 6th and 12th of August it was incessantly at work and suffered many casualties. The names of officers whose services stand out are Major Mastyn, Lieuts. Mirams and Drake- Brockman. The latter had particularly bad luck, kept back in August after his brigade left for Lemnos to recoup, to instruct engineers of the new (2nd) division. He was eventually badly wounded by a bomb, the last day of his extended duty.
It is in connection with the attack at Lone Pine that the 1st Brigade will always be remembered. This formidable operation has been so often and ably described, that it is unnecessary to do so here. The brigade went in nearly 3,000 strong and came out 1,000. It would require a lengthier despatch than usual to set forth the brilliant deeds of officers and men, but the following names stand out.
First Battalion:- Colonel Bennett, Major Kingdon, Major Davidson, Capts. Lloyd and Jacobs, Sasse, Shout, Lloyd. The latter was, to use the words of the divisional commander, one of the most gallant shoulders that ever lived. He was killed by a bomb.
Second Battalion:- Colonel Scobie, Major Stevens. The former died a soldier’s death on 7th August, having been foremost in the fighting through the previous night and day. And many others.
Third Battalion:- Colonel Brown, Major (Lieut Col) [MaConoghy?] Howell Price, Wells and many others. Colonel Brown was killed. He and Scobie were irreparable losses to the
Division. More gallant soldiers never breathed. Corp. Graham, Pte. Edwards and many others.
Fourth Battalion:- Colonel MacNaghten who led his battalion in the charge, Milson (killed) and Scott, Massie, the adjutant. McKay who was just across the hostile trenches, Brown the machine gun officer, MacFarlane, and many others with scores of N.C.0s and men.
The Divisional Commander watching the operations saw three men of his battalion separate themselves from the rest of the battalion and dash forward on the left flank, using rifle and bayonet until they disappeared from view. Enquiries as to who they were and their subsequent fate, failed to find out anything more about them. They probably fell.
This brigade was sent to Helles early in May and took part in the larger operations there. Its charge on the enemy's position on short notice was one of the brilliant episodes in the campaign, led by its gallant Brigadier McKay and added to its reputation, and lost some [1100?] Returning to Anzac it took its place in the trenches in the worst part of the line held by the Division and finally participated in the Lone Pine operations, its 7th Battalion being into the newly captured position on the 8th of August and sustaining some 400 odd casualities, but gaining four V.Cs. In addition to these names, that of its C.O. Colonel [Pompey] Elliot stands out worthy of distinction
Fifth Battalion:- This battalion, under Le Maitre, held that portion of the old trenches behind Lone Pine and was also absorbed into the position as casualities grew.
Sixth Battalion:- This battalion supplied the detachment which suffered so heavily in the attack on the night of the 6th August on German officers’ trench, where the gallant Spargo and many others lost their lives.
Eighth Battalion:- This battalion under Col. Brand. who commenced the campaign on the staff of the 3rd Brigade, held the line, now much battered, to the north of Shrapnel Gully, including the well known Courtenay’s Post. In addition to Brand, Majors Coulter and Ebling stand out for distinction amongst many others.
After covering the landing on the 25th April, this Brigade held the southern portion of the trenches, as far as the left of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade, who were on the extreme right. Composed mainly of miners this Brigade pushed forward its trenches underground, ably assisted by the 3rd Field Company Engineers under Capt. (now Major) Clogstoun, R.E. and drove its mine galleries into the enemy’s territory. The 11th Battalion at the end of July carried out a brilliant operation against a hostile trench and captured and held it. This operation was conducted by Capt. (now Lieut. Col) Lean, in a most brilliant manner, and incurred some 400 casualities before the newly won position could be securely consolidated. The staff work in connection was admirable, as were the
subsequent engineer operations. The 12th Battalion of this Brigade was absorbed into Lone Pine after August 6th having been held in reserve for that purpose. They acted with great gallantry, many names of officers and men stand out for distinction. It is regretted that they all cannot be enumerated here. We look to see theirs in despatches yet to be published, but we must mention Brig. Gen. Sinclair-MacLagan, Ross his Brigade Major, Artillery Colonels Weir, Robertson and Smith.
First Brigade:- The 1st Brigade (Col. Christian commanding) served its time at Cape Helles until October. Despatches have shown the high estimate it was held in.
Second And Third Brigades.- These Brigades commanded by Colonels Johnston and Rosenthal respectively, under the Divisional Artillery Brig. Gen. Hobbs speedily showed their worth. Full of initiative and adaptability they soon proved their superiority to the Turkish Artillery and in spite of casualities from wounds and sickness, never failed. The Divisional Commander speaks of them in the highest terms. The younger officers showed great skill in observation. After the capture of Lone Pine, detachments of the 7th and 8th Batteries distinguished themselves in dealing with hostile movements on the Southern side, and two guns under Captain Waite, may be said to have absolutely guarded the southern flanks of Lone Pine. Other officers' names besides those already mentioned, which stand out for distinction are Bessel-Browne, Bayers, Hodgkins, Walker, Rodgers, etc, and innumerable N.C.Os and men.
Second Light Horse Brigade.
This Brigade held the southern end of the line of the First Division, the extreme right ending at Chatham’s Post. Their trenches vied in excellence with those of the Third Brigade. They carried out many small stunts in which the intelligence of the Light Horse man showed prominently. They participated in the demonstration (to [space] Helles) on June the 8th and by continual offensive
kept the Turks in a state of anxiety. Chatham’s Post was the perogative of the 5th Light Horse, whose gallant C.O Hubert Haines was killed by a chance shot through a loophole.
The Brigade Bommander Gen Ryrie has been since wounded, most of his staff have suffered from time to time. Many names stand out. Hubert Haines we have mentioned. Others of the 5th Light Horse are Major Midgeley (a D.S.0. from S.A) always ready for a stunt and full of ingenuity, Col. Wilson and many other gallant Queenslanders. In the rest of the Brigade we hear much of Cols. Courtenay, Cox. C.B. Major Onslow and White, Drummond, Ruttedge. Foster Brigade Major like his Brig. imperturbable and full of humour.
Engineers Third Field Company
We have already mention Major Clogstoun and there are many other names connected with brave deeds, Savage and and James, etc. etc.
Army Medical Corps
No hand of the service at has done better work than the A.M.C. not to be wondered at with a V.C Col Howse V.C. C.B.
at their head. Possessing fine professional qualifications they three themselves into the fray, stretcher bearers and all. The records of the first few days, if published in full would astound. The intrepidity of the Regimental Medical Officers and stretcher bearers was beyond all praise. Many fell but the work was carried on, dressing wounded in the open under fire being mere routine. No campaign has ever exhibited greater bravery in the medical departments. Amongst the host of names that can be mentioned are those of Black (7th Battn) Brig. Thompson (1st Brig.) Bean (1st Brig) stand out. but when one once commences to enumerate, he must turn to the list of names of the A.M.C and say all these did splendid work.
It is not too much to say that the staffs of the Division and Brigades have been most efficient. Office work was good, but better than all they spent their time in the trenches. Every Brigade Staff officer and the General staffof the Division were daily to be found where they ought to be found in trench warfare, amongst the troops inspecting defences, giving advice, encouragement and example. Brig. Gen. White has proved a tower of strength to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. A better Intelligence officer than Major Nicholson would be hard to find, and with the staff must be coupled the name of Captain Bean, correspondent by authority, comrade and soldier as well.
Under Major Mackworth D.S.0 the Divisional Signal service was most efficient. The innumerable branch lines necessitated by trench warfare were supplied by Major Mackworth’s foresight in ordering before hand a number of extra telephones and other Instruments. Every headquarters of company, battalion and brigade were in communication. The First Division was also able to help to equip the 2nd
Division when it arrived in the Peninsular late in August, and yet still carry on its own work. The self sacrifice cf the linemen and operators under fire was beyond all praise and many names are worthy of distinction. Amongst them may be mentioned Hamilton of the First Brigade, and Capts, Gordon Divisional Headquarters, and Sergt. Major Mac Hutcheon Divisional Headquarters. Anzac represented a perfect network of wires overground, while numerous undergroud wires or along the side of the trenches enabled the perfect system of the communication to be maintained.
The Colonials at Anzac
The Colonials at Anzac
The positions occupied by the Australian and New Zealand Amy Corps on the cliffs north of Gaba Tepe remain practically the same to-day as when I last visited them some six weeks ago. The area of ground occupied has not been materially extended except along the sea shore towards the north were an advanced post has been thrown out some two thousand yards connected with the main position by a deep trench dug out of the sand along the foreshore. But the interior of the position would hardly be recognised now by those who knew it after the first landing three monhs ago. Everything has in fact changed. I suppose it is necessary to use once again the word ’consolidated’ for this is what the Colonials have been working at ever since and if ever everything possible has been to render a position both comfortable and secure it is surely at Anzac.
There are doubtless many who are disappointed at our inability to press forward across the peninsula and thus cut off the Kilid Bahr Plateau from the north from our position at Anzac. Unfortunately the nature of ground renders it impossible for either side to conduct an attack successfully and the Australians and New Zealanders have been oblige to play the role of a retaining force ever since the first landing. But this stalemate cannot last forever and when the physiological moment arrives for a big push all along the line, we are certain to see the Anzac Colonial Corps again playing an active role for which they are peculiarly fitted by temperament and training. The men are desperately eager to advance for locally they have obtained a complete mastery over
and dictate the daily round in the fire trenches to the enemy deciding whether there is to be complete quiet or constant sniping bomb throwing and mining. The Turk has in fact ever since his last repulse shown but little agressiveness and seems content to sit in his trenches rather than try and fresh trial of strength with such a formidable enemy. If the work of the Colonials at Anzac has not been so spectacular as that of our own troops at the southern end of the peninsula on account of the absence of these periodical advances on a big scale it has never the less been equally useful and has entailed an enormous amount of physical labour on the men, and at the same time very heavy losses have been inflicted on the enemy.
This force on his flank handicaps all his movements to the south and prevents him from deploying his full strength against General Hunter Weston’s Army, for in the eyes of the German Commander there is the ever present danger that if he depletes the innumerable trenches before Anzac of many men of the Colonials may break through and cut off the Killd Bahr Plateau from the north as only four miles of difficult country has to be passed to bring them to the shores of the Dardanelles.
Both armies at Anzac are handicapped in an attack. Thr ground is so broken and hilly and some of the hills are so razor backed that it is impossible to find suitable emblacements for heavy guns and thus to bring that tremendous concentration of shell fire on a particular section of the enemy’s line which must proceed a successful infantry assault in modem warfare. Also in this northern maze of hills and valleys no spot can be found for an aerodrome and the guns cannot therefore be registered to a yard as they are registered on the Turkish trenches and redoubts in front of Achi Baba.
In spite of the difficulties of the ground the Germans have from the first made more strenous efforts to drive the Australians into the sea than to drive the British troops off the southern end of Gallipoli. They realised that although they could not bring the same concentration of guns to bear or develope an attack on the stereotyped German plan that there chances of success were greater at Anzac and promised more decisive results on account of the peculiar nature of the ground to be defended, and the comparatively small amount of assistance the guns of the warships could lend the defenders. You cannot make successive lines of trenches strengthened by redoubts at vulnerable points so that if one position is taken the enemy merely finds himself confronted by another equally formidable behind. On these razor backed lines of hills many of which are so narrow that there is barely room for a trench which must be preched on the edge of a sheer precipice, you must takeup your position and either hold it or be annhillated and pushed over the precipice behind.
In places there is no room for any support trenches and the only line of retreat open to those in the firing line is to let themselves down the face of the precipice with the assistance of ropes or else by narrow tortuous paths then to dross the valley at the back and climb up the steep almost inaccessable slopes of the second line of defence at the back of which is the crowded beach and the open sea. It can be easily understood how few would survive such a journey with a victorious enemy firing at them from the captured position they have just abandoned. From the very first the Colonials realised the nature of their task and have concentrated all their efforts on
making their fire trenches impregnable. From these they have never yet been driven, and the period of danger may now be said to be passed. They have sometimes lost a section of a trench but the Turks have invariably been driven out again with heavy loss. The enemy had his great chance the night of the landing April 25th when the Colonials exhausted by a long days's fighting and short of ammunition and without water found themselves lining these hills without trenches and exposed to a deadly shrapnel fire. They set their teeth and held on thus saving themselves from an unparralled disaster for it would have been impossible to have got them off the shore. On the following morning Monday April 26th and throughout the whole of that day the Turks did their utmost to drive them into the sea but were repulsed with the assistance of the guns of the warships for we had not a single field gun ashore.
The last great attempt to make a general assault on the Anzac position was on May 18th 19th which was an utter fiasco. But it must not be supposed that since that date comparative quiet has reigned along the lines. There has in fact been continous heavy fighting involving heavy casualties to both sides. Local attacks and counter attacks, incessant bomb throwing and mining and constant digging of new and the renewing of old trenches have kept the Australians and New Zealanders fully occupied and have brought to them an invaluable experience of this kind of warfare The soil of these hills is extremely soft and sandy being held togther on the surface by the thick shrubb, but in places there are large bear patches which crumble at the touch and at the tread and which is washed down itno the valleys in huge
chunks after heavy rain. There are frequent landslides which carry away the bivouacs cut on thus unstable foundation on the face of the precipices and half buried men have frequently to be dug out by their comrades. The construction of the trenches presents another source of difficulty for inspite of the shill which which they have been constructed and the use of sandbags they crumble away from every day use the parapits frequently collapse or are warn away from men leaning against them to fire. Sometimes the enemy’s gunners will amuse themselves knocking in a whole section with shell fire and this has to be build up again along a ridge three yards wide or even less with the enemy only a few yards off in front and with a sheer precipice of shifting sand behind. On the other hand the Turks have the same difficulties to face and whenever you look out through the trench periscopes you can see the tops of the spades and the shovels full of earth showing that they also are digging away for dear life.
I have in previous dispatches discribed the shrapnel Valley which runs up the centre of the Australia Anzac position dividing the outer from the inner perimiter of defence. Our outer line does not form a complete semi circle for the Turks hold a section right at the top of the valley from which it has been impossible to drive them. This has been ever since the landing the weak spot in our line a fact perfectly well known to the enemy who have made frequent attempts to break through but always without success. This gap is defended on the right by the position known as Quinn’s Post and on the left by that known as Pope’s. The ground between the two is known as Bloody Angle on account of the desperate fighting which has
taken place there and the heavy losses which both sides have suffered.
From this position which he holds between Quinn's and Pope's Posts the enemy can look right down the Shrapnel Valley which is the main artery leading up to all our positions between the Fire Trenches and the Second line of defence on the hills actually overlooking the beach. Along this valley all stores all water and all ammunition have to be carried and were formerly exposed to constant sniping which involved many casualties including General Bridges who was mortally wounded on a tour of inspection.
Six weeks ago it was an extremely unpleasant visit to Quinn’s Courteny's and Popes Posts but to-day the indefatigable energy of the men from 'Down Under’ has changed all this and it is possible to reach the fire trenches in comparative safety. A great deep trench has been dug the whole way up the valley wide enough to allow a simultaneous passage both ways to avoid blocking and along which laden mules and horses can pass. In addition the New Zealanders and Australian Light Horse who are now holding this section of the line have obtained sucha fire supremacy over the Turks that they no longer dare expose themselves for a second over their parapits and cannot snipe down the valley as they were accustomed to.
The proximity of the two lines at these points has made the hand grenade and the trench mortar the chief weapons used by both sides and very deadly has been the struggle. For weeks Quinn’ Post was regarded as a death trap for no sooner was a trench constructed and occupied than it was blown in by shell fire and hand grenades and the Australians were frequently driven out and obliged to abandon it altogether. On the other hand if the Turks attempted to enter it they recei—
[received] the same treatment and were obliged to retire in turn. Thus for a long period Quinn’s post was sometimes occupied and sometimes a no man’s land with both sides waiting for a suitable opportunity to seize it and hold it. It was the skilled miners of the New Zealand Brigade who finally got possession of it for good and who have held it ever since. As it was impossible to live above ground they proceeded to dig underground a regular network of trenches tunnels and bombproofs all supported by beams to prevent the soft soil falling in and to provide sufficient overhead cover to stop bombs from coming in.The Turks mined and tried to blow in this new defence but the New Zealanders counter- mined and blew up the enemy instead. Then they dug innumerable tunnels towards the enemy with listening galleries to checkmate any such move in the future. Their snipers having acquired a definite mastery they forced the enemy further back and then erected a row of rabbit wire which stands up in front of this maze of trenches tunnels mineshafts and bombproofs and which stops the bombs from entering. Now Quinn’s is impregnable and quite comfortable and is seperated from the advanced Turkish trench by twenty to thirty yards of neutral ground under which both sides are constancy mining. These underground trenches are very popular with the men for they are cool and shaded and the cover is excellent. It is an extraordinary sight that meets the eye if you look through the periscopes along any section of the line embraced by Pope’s Quinnfs and Courteny’s Posts. A maze of trenches and barbed wire confronts you only a few yards away and scattered over the neutral ground all the customary debris of war including many of the enemy’s dead
who have fallen in the numerous local attacks on these positions. Yet inspite of the enemy’s proximity you do not see a man and at times you believe the positions must be deserted. The Turk is taught before all else to keep concealed so that his real numbers shall never be accurately known but a short time ago just when the Australians were chafing at their inactivity were wondering if he was still in their front in any strength, he involuntarily gave himself away.
One of our aeroplanes passed over his lines firing very low. This was too much for the stolid Ottoman infantry who rising in their trenches poured rolley after volley at the intrepid airman. It was then see that every line of trench was fairly bristling with bayonets showing the importance which the enemy attach to the position. The Anzac position is frequently exposed to heavy shell fire from 11inch 9in and smaller guns. There is one gun especially well known to the Colonials and with which they are longing to have a reckoning. It knows all the ranhes [ranges] accurately and is able to open on any part of the position.
The shelling of the beach still continues from Gaba Tepe and also from a four gun battery behind a ridge of hills covering the bay of Anafarta. We have never yet been able to silence these guns but the damage done is small although the annoyance is great. Amongst the other difficulties the Colonials cheerfully face is the great labour involved in conveying stores ammunition and above all water to the fire trenches. The whole position is arid unculivatable barren ground on which nothing will grow except srubb and stunteded trees and water is scarce. Wells have been sunk by miners to a great depth and a certain supply is obtainable from this source but
the army is largely dependant on water from ships. There is a story that one old miner went on digging long after his comrades had abandoned all hope of tapping a spring. When asked why he replied ‘This bit of country is just
like Western Australia and if there aint any water there’s sure to be gold’. And sure enough his trained eyes did discover gold amongst the sand but not unfortunately in paying quantities. I have frequently referred in the past to the amazing physique of these Australian and New Zealand Troops. Certainly no European Nation has anything to compare with them.
The Prussian Guard may be picked men but they are fat and ungainly whereas the Colonials are great big limbed athlets without a pound of superflous flesh among the lot after four months of active service. They are not so much an army as a Community who have come togther for a certain job and have framed up their own code of laws to insure its being carried out. They have no discipline in the sense in which the word is in European Armies. They are no respectors of stars or crowns on an officer’s shoulder strap merit alone is recognised by them. They cant be ordered about as Regular Troops are and made to obey just because an order has been given. They can only really be governed through appeals to their commonsense and sporting instincts. They can be directed to a particular task by their officers but it is wise to leave them to do it in their own way. They work as a rule in little groups drawn togther by home ties or a mutual regard which has sprung up in the trenches or on the battlefield. These groups discipline themselves. Supposing stores have to be carried up from the beach or water taken to the trenches. A group told off for this pupose will not march smartly down and under the
officer or N.C.O and carry out his orders as to how it shall be done. They saunter down slowly sit down and light a pipe contemplating the work before them. There is very likely a millionare a cowboy a doctor and a clerk. Ecah gang has its unoffical leader who has become to be recognised by the others and after a time he will rise slowly and say ‘Well boys its got to be done so the quicker we get it over the better’. Then they start in and work like niggers never stopping or slacking until it is finished.
The other day a group of four millionaires were working at mineshaft. The task was not done when another regiment came to relieve the one to which they belonged. These four men refused to go down with their battalion until they had finished their job as they wished it to be known as their job and no one else’s. Tennyson’s famous lines which have led to so many disasters in our military annals - There’s not to make reply - There’ not to reason why - make no appeal to the Colonial mind. Any order not based on commonsense is very unlikely to be carried out especially if they a better wayof achieving the same ends.
The task of commanding them is a difficult and delicate one but if they respect their leaders they will follow them anywhere. If they do not why then they will work in their own way under self appointed communial chiefs drawn from their ranks. They rarely if ever salute anyone except officers whom thek know personally. Another peculiarity of the Colonial soldier which distinguishes him in a marked degree from our own men is his dislike of clothes. I suppose that since
the Dervishes made their last charge at Omdurman no such naked army has ever been seen in the field. The British Tommy likes to move and work and fight with the majority of his worldly goods hanging round him no matter the state of the temperature. The men in our front trenches sit with their packs on sewating in the broiling sun and will dig trenches without moving a garment.
But to find an Australian now ewraing anything except a pair of shorts’ is extremely rare whether he be in the trenches in a rest camp or or fatigue. One by one they have thrown aside their various articles of clothing. First the coats went then the shirts then underclothes now a very large number have chucked aside their boots and putties and only a lingering feeling of decency still kept alive by memories of the mixed bathing season at Sydney preserves the ‘shorts’ which staring a few months ago as full length trousers have now arrived half way up the thigh. In this primitive costume the Australians and New Zealanders live and work and fight. Their huge frames and giant limbs are now burnt by the sun to a dull brick red.
Some learned ethnologist suddenly arriving for the first time at Anzac would hardly classify them as belonging to the Aryan Stock rather would he believe he had suddenly discovered a surviving branch of that race of Red Men who swarmed over the plains of America until swept away by the by the ancestors of the present day Shell Makers. Someone remarked very truly the other day that this campaign at the Dardanells has only be rendered tolerable by the excellent bathing. I do not suppose any other factor has counted so much in keeping the
the troops healthy and clean and in restoring their spirits after days and nights in the stuffy dirty smelly trenches. Especially do the Australians amd New Zealanders love their periodical dips. To them the sea and the sun bath are as the breath of life. From earliest childhood they have been accustomed to live in the water. The bathing at Sydney where as many as fifty thousand men women and children take
the ater at the same time is world famous. Here in far off Gallipoli for a short period each day they can imagine themselves once more under the Southern Sun and return revigorated and refreshed to the stern work on the hills above.
Straight from the trenches this endless processlon of naked warriors covered with sand and dirt never ceases from sunrise to sunset. No sooner is a Colonial released from duty than he makes for the water no matter the snipers and the bursting shrapnel. For here in far off Gallipoli for a short period each day they imagine themsrlves once more under the Southern Sun and return revigorated and refreshed to the stern work on the hills above.
Original of Destroyers in the Mediterranean
E. Ashmead- Bartlett
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and Trawlers in the Mediterranean
The arrival of the submarine as an active factor in Naval Warfare has entirely altered the peculiar role which the different units composing a Fleet were supposed to play when they were originally designed. Battleships and great Crusiers can no longer command the sea by strength of numbers and weight of armament. Even light crusiers nominally intended for commerce destroying, protection of Trade Routes and as scouts are frequently exposed to danger from submarines. Battleships and armoured crusiers are still the final court of appeal between nations
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but there are grave doubts if the case will ever be carried to the decision of this supreme court - in the present instance on account of the unwillingness of the Germans to put the issue to the final test. For this they can hardly be blamed for there can be only one issue for them namely a crushing defeat at sea, which would also mean a final blow at their already tottering financial system . For their immense issues of paper money would fall to zero in value once their High Seas Feat ceased to exist as a standing menace to our command of the Seas.
The Torpedo boat was originally intended as the great offensive weapon against armoured ships. A weapon which might be of supreme value in the hands of a weaker power and enable her to weaken a stronger adversary sufficiently to allow of a general action between the Fleets on even, or more even terms. But modern gunnery has already rendered the Torpedo boat obsolete for the purpose for which she was originally constructed. I do not know of a single instance in the course of this
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war in which a battleship or a crusier has been sunk by a torpedo fired by an above water craft, except the single instance of the unfortunate Goliath, which was torpedo three times by a Turkish destroyer manned by German officers on the night of May I3th in the Dardanelles. Destroyers were originally intended as the main weapon of defence against Torpedo attack and also as an offensive weapon against battleships and Crusiers. Now it is difficult to define the respective functions of Destroyers and Torpedo Boats as they have become more or less merged.
To-day Destroyers has become the principal antidote to submarine attack, and although by no means an ideal defence, they are the best available and have performed immense services during this war. The amount of work accomplished by the Destroyer Flotillas at the Dardanelles has been stupendous but their labours are little known to the public although fully recognised by both the army and the Navy. We are now in the [twelveth?] month of this World War and our Destroyers have worked almost without a break during the whole of this period.
Their labours started with the escape of the Goeben and the Breslau from the Dardanelles, and the subsecquent return of those two vessels to Turkish waters has turned out to be one of the most unfortunate incidents in our naval history. They were then employed in watching the Austrian Fleet and in patrolling the Mediterranean and Adriatic. But it was only when Turkey declared war that their most arduous task commenced. Throughout the winter months it fell to their lot to keep up an incessant patrol off the Dardanelles and along the Asiatic coast. These months will never be forgotten by those who took part in them. In all weathers/ tossed about by terrible gales in the [indecipherable] Gulf of Smyrna and never dry for weeks at a stretch
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they kept up their incessant vigil on the Straits & coast & islands. At times when issuing from under the lea of Tenedos where they sought some shelter they
would steam to the entrance in a howling storm which blotted everything from view a few hounderd yards away. Once in the Channel the four knot current and the east wind would sweep down with such force that they could only maintain their position by steaming ten knots ahead such was the force of the combined elements. Lying in the trough of the waves these small craft would roll and plunge until even the most experienced seamen became sick from sheer exhaustion.
The decks were continously swept by great seas, no one on board could keep dry, and at times the galley fires could not be kept alight. The bitter cold frequently covered the decks and bridge with sheetings of ice and froze stiff the oil skins of the crew. Nevertheless inspite of these awful conditions the Destroyer Flotillas and their gallant crews never for a moment relaxed their grip on the Eastern Mediterranean and on the Dardanelles. Never even in the old days before Brest and Toulon did our officers and men show greater determination or suffer greater hardships.
Last winter our Flotillas were inadequate in numbers and it was impossible to relieve the boats from time to time and send them to sheltered ports. With the coming of the Spring the material conditions somewhat improved with the return of fine weather and bright sunshine, but the work of the Destroyers became harder with the commencement of active operations against the Dardanelles. On February I9th our Fleet which had gradually assembled commenced the bombardment of the forts. No sooner had these outer works been destroyed than the Destroyers and Trawlers moved in and
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commenced the great task of sweeping the outer Channel for mines. This had to be carried out under a heavy fire from concelaed batteries of all calibres and many of the boats were struck and suffered casualties. Our Trawlers assisted but the brunt of the work fell on the Destroyers. When it was decided to make the great attempt to force the Dardanelles with the Fleet alone the work of preparing the way fell on the Destroyers.
Day after day they entered the Straits sweeping the lower minefield under a heavy fire covered by certain battleships told off for this purpose. But in vain they struggled to clear the mine field below the Narrows. Inspite of the most heroic efforts on the part of the Destroyers and and the Trawlers the current was so strong that the task seemed almost insurmountable. It is characteristic of our navy that a desperate expedient was then hit upon to overcome this difficulty. It was decided to let the Destroyers tow up the minesweepers above the mine field during the night and then let them drift down with the current thus sweeping with the tide.
The difficulties and dangers of this enterprise are at once apparent for the channel is under a mile wide and the work would have to be carried out under a heavy fire from batteries on either shore and under the rays of powerful searchlights. On the nights of the 11th I2th and I3th of March efforts were thus made to clear a passage. Many of the destroyers and Trawlers were struck and many officers and mennwere killed. There is absolutely no cover on a destroyer. Any shell will perforate her thin shell and the only protection for those on the decks from shrapnel and machine gun fire were feeble barracides of rope hung round the
bridge. The Turks soon tumbled to the new plan and on the night of the 13th they allowed the flotilla to come right through the minefield without firing a shot or showing a light. Then when they were half way down they suddenly switched on their searchlights and opened a terrible flusilade from every available gun. There was nothing for it except for all the destroyers and Trawlers to get back as quickly as possible.
On the day of the great attempt to force the Straits March 18th the destroyers played a secondary role in the actual fighting but they behaved splendidly and were responsible for saving the lives of the survivors of the Bouvet and the Irrestibable and Ocean. They took the crews of the latter two ships off under a very heavy fire and were fortunate enough to escape any serious damage. The definite failure of this attack ushered in the era of land operations & the Fleet was temporary withdrawn to Tenedos and Mudros but the change brought no respite in the work of the destroyers. They had still to patrol the Turkish Coast and the Dardanelles and to sweep the lower waters so as to keep them clear of drifing mines. A Turkish torpedo boat managed to escape from the Dardanelles under cover of a dark night and attempted to sink one of our transports coming from Alexandria. How that ship miraculiously escaped and the chase of our destroyers which ended in the enemy running ashore are well known. Almost every day a destroyer would enter the Straits and make a reconnaissance hight up under a heavy fire. This was both exciting and trying work. The next great service rendered by these craft was on the historic day of the landing April 25th. Each destroyer had a definite stat-
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station assigned, to her at the different landings. Their alloted task was to carry close inshore the second lot of troops who were to support those which were put ashore in the the boats and staem pinnaces of the battleships. They were filled with troops at Mudros and followed and the landing and covering battleships To Gaba Tepe and Cape Helles.
It was a great sight at dawn to see the Destroyers crammed witn khaki clad figures creeping in closer and closer coming under a heavy rifle machine gun and shrapnel fire and only stopping to discharge their living cargoes into boats when the shallowness of the water prohibited a further advance.Throughout those early days the Destroyers were kept incessantly busy landing troops covering exposed wings and keeping guard up the Straits to stop any of the enemy’s torpedo craft from mking a sudden raid on our flanking ships and immense fleet of transports which, at this time, lay of Seddul Bahr.
A destroyer is a freind to everyone in distress. She can move so quickly and twist and turn so rapidly that she is ever on the spot to lend a helping hand. One day two of our transports lying locked togther off Y Beach were suddenly opened on by a Turkish Field Battery and hit about thirty times. The steam winch of one of them having been injured she could not raise her anchor. Immediately a destroyer went to her assistance and lowered a boat to pick up a panic stricken member of the crew who had lept overboard. This boat moved about amidst a tornao of shells which plughed up the water all around her and it was a miracle how she escaped. All this time in addition to the work actually around the Straits other divisions
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of the Flotilla were engaged in patrolling the sea between Alexandria and Mudros protecting the transports and watching Smyrna and also in keeping an eye on the highway between Malta and the Islands. Every night during these early operations patrols stayed up the Dardanelles to guard the covering ships protecting the right wing of the French Army off Morto Bay. Nevertheless inspite of these precautions one of the enemy’s craft was able to come down silently with the tide and torpedo the unfortunate Goliath.
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Up to the middle of May our destroyer flotillas About the middle of May the work of our destroyers was increased greatly and their responsibilities to an incalculable extent by the arrival of the first of the enemy’s submarines in the Eastern Mediterranean. Hitherto our battleships had been able to lie off the coast at anchor or else cruise at liberty from one point to another covering the operations of our armies at Helles and Anzac. The news of the gradual approach of German submarines down the Mediterranean was not unexpected for such a move had long been anticipated. At first therefore the Fleet did not retire to a protected harbour for cover but the most valuable ships were sent away and older craft kept off the coast to protect the army’s flanks.
It was the duty of the Destroyer Flotillas to guard these battleships and crusiers while engaged in this work. This is done by patrolling the sea in the immediate neighbourhood of the battleship cruising round and round her with the keenest eyes on the bridge seraching every yard of the water for the first suspicious ripple, or the top of a periscope. At this time we had no other projection except that afforded by the destroyers and certain of the Trawlers carrying small three pounder guns. Who will ever forget the Excitement of those early submarine scares. A destroyer or a Trawler or a transport reports that she has sighted a periscope. Sometimes this turned out to be an empty biscuit case floating on the water, sometimes a log of drift wood and more often than not a dead horse floating with one of its legs in the air.
There is the historic story of the Young Commander of a Destroyer who reported to the Admiral "that he had seen the most extraordinary Submarine with no less than four periscopes, and that on his opening fire on it the [four words deleted] using poisoned gas". Now whenever ones of these scares occurred every Destroyer in the neighbourhood dashed at top speed in the direction indicated endeavouriong to ram or to harass the enemy from the neighbourhood. Meawhile the Battleships would up anchor together with the transports and commence a series of revolutions at top speed dash-
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[Handwritten note – add about the dash to save the Triumph]
[dash]ing to all points of the compass then rounding on their wake and
going off in an opposite directiin. Really at times it looked as if every helsman in sight had suddenly gone mad for even in these dashes from point to point the helm would be shifted from side to side so as to make a ziz zag course and put the enemy off his aim. We had many of these exciting moments in those early days but inspite of every precaution and the incessant work of the Destroyers it was impossible to save either the Triumph or the Majestic both of which were torpedoed and sunk when quite close in to the shore.
These disasters necessitated a change in our naval tactics. The battleships which had so long chaperoned the army and the thunder of whose guns was so loved by our lonely soldiers in the trenches had to be withdrawn to protected harbours. TheTurks seeing them depart issued a proclamation to our troops poining out how they had been deserted, the futility of further resistance, and strongly advising them to surrender and come and enjoy the comparative comfort of a life made easy in captivity in Constantinople.
It must not be supposed that the battleships disappeared from the narrow waters altogther. Whenever one was required for a particular purpose she
would come out from harbour escorted by destroyers and furiously bombard a section of the enemy ’s line. After this for a period of nearly two months the care of the narrow waters and the duty of protecting transports and also the flanks of the army fell on the Destroyers. There is no limit to the functions these handy craft may be called upon to perform. The disappearance of the battleships with huge guns suddenly caused someone to remember that our destroyers carry very straight shooting twelve pounders. Therefore in addition to their patrol and convoy work they were often called upon to protect and cover the flanks of the army in one of its forward movements. Excellent work was done in the big advance on the left flank on June 28 which earned the unstinted praise of our Commander in Chief who publicly thanked them in his dispatch. At Anzac they have frequently
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tickled up the Turks most effectively especially on the left flank. The amount of work which fell to the these craft during the summer, more especially before the arrival of that new and strange fleet from England which I shall discribe later, defies discription. I do not know when the crews ever rest, I have never seen a destroyer at anchor anywhere for more than a few hours at a time. In all weathers they are somewhere doing something. They remind you of a pack of hounds going through coverts. Their muzzles are glued to the ground peering beneath the surface for submarines. Suddenly they break into full cry when the enemy is sighted and after a long chase backwards and forwards force him to earth and then sit down outside his lair to wait until he comes up once again in search of a fresh victim.
Their is something peculiarly fascinating in watching these long low black craft. The way they can turn is amazing. A destroyer going at full speed will suddenly swing round on her stern just like a racing automobilist who lifts his front wheels right off the ground when turning a corner. Having these craft about the narrow waters gives you a great s feeling of confidence when you are forced to take a passage on the sea. You know that if you are submarined or sunk by a shell or swamped by a wave that a half a dozen of these craft will come up like greased lighting from nowhere and pick you up almost before you have had time to get wet. Destroyers pick up everybody and everything. They are like the Salvage Corps of the London Fire Brigade. They always manage to save everything there is to be saved from any wreck.
But here I must leave these wonderful craft with their gallant crews and their record of splendid work. Whether patrolling the coast of Asia Minor, or examining sailing craft for oil and arms, or dashing up the Dardanelles or chasing a submarine or protecting a transport or bombarding the enemy‘s trenches or recusing drowing mariners from the deep they are always the same. Speed and efficiency is their motto. Their crews had a terrible time last winter. They have been worked for
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every odd minute of each twenty four hours all through the summer and now the are faced with the prospects of another five months icy blockade of the Dardanelles. When millions at home are comfortably sleping in their warm beds
listening to the gales howling outside when houndreds of thousands of soldiers will be crouching in the trenches trying to obtain some warmth and shelter, our Destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean will still have to stand like Sentinels before the mouth of the Straits washed by enormous seas, tossed to and from like corks encrusted with ice exposed to the full force of wind rain abd snow. A horrible life which only me, of iron can stand. But their crews will never fail us. They will nevr let go the iron grip they have obtained on the tottering Turkish Empire and every time a shivering Turk looks over his parapet from Europe or Asia he will see these grim sentinels of fate [indecipherable] and realize how hopelessit is in the long run to contend against a nation that has the undisputed command of the sea.
Incidents of the Campaign
Incidents Of The Campaign.
Of all the Wars I have ever followed, this Campaign in Gallipoli is the most instructive and interesting to follow, and is the fullest in strange Contrasts and Anomalies. The interest never palls even when the major Operations come to a standstill from time to time, and both Armies glare at one another across the odd hundred yards of Tom Tidler’s ground, that separates the trenches. The reason is found in the strange and most unusual chacarter of the Struggle, and also in the constant cooperation between the Army and the Navy. You have in fact, a doubleCampaign on Land and Sea to follow, which adds enormously to the interest.
There is a unique opportunity of comparing the two services, and of watching the differences in their methods, morale, and general outlook on life. In the past, there has always been a great deal of concealed jealousy between the two, chiefly owing to the fact that the one has never had a real chance of becoming intimately acquainted with the other, on active Service. Perhaps, instead of jealousy, one may substitute a spirit of healthy rivalry. The average Soldier envies the lot of the Sailor, who he will argue, always has his Ship to return to at night, and his Meals at regular hours, and never has to endure the horrible personal discomforts, which beset his comrade in the Trenches. The Sailor on the other hand, will take a different view. He will argue that the physical Labour he gets through in the day, is infinitely greater than that of the Soldier in the Trenches. That the Soldier often gets long spells
off, when all he has to do, is to sit tight and eat and sleep, while he,the Sailor, never has a rest or more than four hours work at any one time. There is a lot of truth in both standpoints. Both the Soldier and the Sailor have been worked, at times, almost to a standstill in this most arduous Campaign. The Soldier in fighting and digging Trenches, and the Sailor, in covering the Army from the Sea, in landing everything the Soldier requires on Shore, and in guarding the lines of communication against the Enemy’s Submarines. Of the two the Soldiers life is undoubtedly the most dangerous and he stands the risk of being left lying wounded
on the Battlefield, between the hostile Trenches, whereas, the Sailor has the satisfaction of knowing that he can never be left on the Battlefield, and if his Ship does go down, he sinks or floats with the majority of his Comrades around him to the last moment. Neither must one overlook the work of the immense number of
Trawlers, and Drifters, which carry all the Supplies to the Troops on Shore from the Bases, which have been made safe against Submarine attack.
The Campaign would have been impossible without them. The lot of their Crews is a hard one. They must go out in every kind of weather, and are often kept busy for sixteen hours, out of the twenty-four. They have to go right into the Beaches, and are constantly exposed to the Enemy’s shell fire. Some are officered by Sub-lieutenants, but the majority carry the Skippers who handle them in the North Sea, in the Channel, and off the West Coast. They are a rough hardy lot, and excellent Seamen, if left to do things in their own way. They are no respectors of Persons, and their language towards their Superiors, when ordered on some par
[par]ticular Job they do not fancy, or when told to do a particular thing in a way they do not fancy, would insure an instant Court Martial for anyone in the regular Service. They are great Grumblers, but the work is always done, and done efficiently. One old Devonshire Skipper was heard to remark 'Its lucky King George has these ere Trawlers' as he swept the Horizon for Battleships and large Transports, which were safely sheltering during one of the periodical Submarine scares. There is a lot of truth in this. For it is these handy shallow draught Craft, which have made the supply of the Army possible in the past, and on which the Army will have to rely in the Winter, when the Storms turn the peaceful Mediterranean into a raging wilderness, of short choppy Seas. Our Fleet has in fact entirely changed since the end of May. We now control the narrow waters, between the Islands and the Mainland, by our Destroyers, Trawlers, and the new Monitors , which now cover the Army instead of the Battleships.
One of the most arduous Duties, which falls to the Navy, is keeping up the Service of Picquet Boats. These steam Pinnaces are marvelous Craft. At every Beach in Gallipoli, and at all the Islands, it is they who form the ultimate means of communication between the Sea and the Shore. They are the friend of every individual, and every Craft, Trawler, or Lighter, in distress. If you want to go anywhere you must take a Picquet Boat. The Lighters full of Stores or Horses or Ammunition, are filled up from the Trawlers, or small Transports, and then you see one of these Picquet Boats dash out from the Pier, tie up alongside, and bring them in through rough Seas or swirling Tides, with a skill that is amazing to the lay mind. At one time there was a shortage of these precious Craft, ow-
[ow]ing to the tremendous amount of work required of them, some being damaged some sunk by the Enemy’s shell fire, others getting their Boilers worn out from over-heating some wrecked ashore. But a large fresh supply reached the Navy from England some time ago, and now all the Beaches are adequately supplied. Some of these Picquet Boats are in charge of Midshipmen, and others under Petty Officers. The lot of their Crews is not to be envied, for they work under continous shell fire.
At Anzac, Helles and Suvla Bay, the Enemy constantly shells the landing Stages, and day and night these Picquet Boats are exposed to Shrapnel and common Shell. But the work never stops. There is a still more arduous time coming for the Destroyers, Trawlers, and Picquet Boats this Autumn and Winter, when the Gales come rolling up from the south-west, possibly cutting off all communication with the Shore for weeks at a time. At least that is what the Experts who profess to know the Mediterranean in Winter will tell you what will happen, but I fancy that these hardy Sailors from the North Sea, and our Seamen in the Destroyers will take a Ship through any Sea, provided they can lay her up alongside of something, in order to discharge her Cargo.
Some Persons in War, have hard Jobs, and others soft. If they were transfered each would probably fit equally well into the others Post. It is generally merely the luck of the draw which settles, what task a particular Man will have to do. It is a characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon character, that each individual is generally interested in his own Job, and cares little and knows less, what his fellow men are doing. The routine of years brings out some strange Scenes. When the
fresh Landing was made at Suvla Bay. I was told on the Afternoon of August 6th, to go on board the S.S. Minneapolis, which would sail sometime during the night. The Minneapolis is a huge Atlantic Transport Liner, employed in the cargo trade, but also having very comfortable accomodation for a large number of First and Second Class Passengers. She has been taken over by the Government, and during the landing at Suvla, she brought up the Artillery, and seven hundred Horses and Mules, belonging to the new Divisions. I went on board her at Kephalos Bay, about 9 o'clock. The night was pitch dark, and not a light was showing in any of the Vessels in the Harbour. I found her huge sides looming out of the darkness, with apparently no means of climbing on board, from the little Tug which conveyed myself and two Companions to her. Finally I found a rope Ladder, and managed to reach the Deck, which was covered with Soldiers Guns and Gear of all kinds.
I tried to find an Officer, but in the darkness, in a Ship of this size, it was almost impossible. Finally I groped my way to the Bridge, and ran across the Chief Officer, and asked him how we could get our Baggage on board. He then told me that a Ladder was down round the other aide, which we had evidently missed in the darkness.I returned to port Bow, where I had left this small Tug, just in time to prevent a sad Catastrophie. I found an eighteen pounder Gun, suspended in mid-air, and about to be lowered onto the heads of my two Friends, and our precious Baggage. In the darkness the Quarter-Master in charge, had mistaken our Tug for a Barge which was coming to take off a Battery which had to be landed with the Troops at dawn. I was just in time to save my Friend, Henry Nevinson, and the Press Officer Major Delme Radcliffe, and our Bag-
[Bag]gage, from being crushed beneath one of our own Guns. The Tug then sheerd off, and made her way to the Starboard Side, where we found the Ladder and eventually forced our way to it, through a crowd of small Craft. We then had to carry everything on Board through the lower Decks, amongst long Iines of Horses and kicking Mules, until we found our way in the darkness to the promenade Deck. After a long hunt below, we found the Purser, who took us to his Cabin and lit a Candle. Then just as if we were about to cross the Atlantic, he examined his cabin List, and finding two vacant, he assigned us to them. A minute later, we were comfortably installed in a First Class Compartment, beautifully clean with Linen, which none of us had seen for months, on the Beds.
The Place was a paradise of luxury, and it seemed almost a sacrilege for us to enter such a haven of cleanliness, in our dirty war worn Clothes. On shutting up the Windows, we were allowed a light. Nevinson and I sat opposite one another, unable to speak from sheer satisfaction, at our surroundings. Then there came a knock at the Door, and a Steward in beautiful white Ducks entered saying ‘I am your bedroom Steward Sir is there anything I can get you’. Well, as we had not dined, we suggested that a few Sandwiches and Drinks would be very acceptable. ‘All right Sir I will call the Bar Tender’. A moment later the latter turned up, and had a warm reception. We asked him if he had a nice cool Bottle of Iced Champagne. ‘Certainly he replied’ it has been on the ice since last February, and I hav'nt sold a Bottle since’. The Major having joined us, we sat down to an excellent meal, after which the Major according to his Instructions, outlined the new plan of Campaign, and told us
we were going to land. But the idea of a landing at dawn seemed too unnatural when sitting in this luxurious Cabin, on a great Atlantic Liner, surrounded by hot and cold water, clean Stewards, iced Champagne, excellent Cigars, and plenty of perfect Sandwiches. Nevinson, who is very conscientious, had decided to sit up all night, to watch events, but the temptation to sleep between sheets, was irrestible. Therefore, having had a hot Bath, we turned in and were soon sound asleep, and personally I never had any idea what time we sailed and arrived, at Suvla Bay. I was wakened at about five thirty, by the deafening roar of innumerable big Guns, and having collected my thoughts, realised we must have arrived. Dressing hastily, I went on Deck, which I found crowded with Officers, peering out into the darkness towards the Land, which was just becoming visible.
Our first landing Parties were already ashore, and Troops were being hastily disembarked from the Transports, in the motor Barges specially sent out from England, for that purpose. We were lying about twelve hundred yards from the Shore, in Suvla Bay, and as the light increased we had a splendid view of all that passed. The life of the Sea, and the routine of years, when crossing the Atlantic, went on just the same on the Minneapolis. The numerous Stewards, instead of eagerly watching the Operations, went about their accustomed Tasks. Tea was served, and the chief Steward came on Deck with the announcement. ‘Breakfast is usually at Eight thirty, but this morning it will be at Six thirty, as some of the Gentlemen may have to go on Shore early’. At Six thirty therefore, a Bell rang, and we trooped down to the Saloon. On our way at the top of the Gangway, we passed an ancient Steward, who was bussily engaged in care-
[care]fully removing the Dust from the Carpets with a Vacuum Cleaner. Nothing could change the Habits of a life time. For forty years, he had clean Carpets at this hour, and now when the most momentous Event in the History of the Empire was taking place, he still cleaned Carpets, and will assuredly go on doing so at Six thirty every morning, until he drops from old age, or the Minneapolis is claimed by a Submarine, when he will probably be found clinging to the Cleaner, and if saved, will repay his preservers by cleaning their Carpets, in like manner. The War outside was no affair of this Man, and like all the other Stewards on board, he took not the smallest Interest in it.
The scene in the Saloon was strange. Some fifty Officers sat down to Breakfast, with the Dishes set forth on printed Menus, and a Steward behind every Table. Iced Melons were laid before us, followed by fried Fish, Eggs and Bacon, and a variety of cold Dishes. Outside, half a dozen Warships, were blazing away for all they were worth. Our Infantry are crossing the Spit, in front of the Salt Lake, under a deadly hail of Shrapnel, whilst his Snipers keep up, an incessant rifle fire; and the endless Procession of Motor Lighters, with their crowded Kharki freights, never stop going and returning to the three chosen Beaches, A, B, and C. From A Beach came a series of explosions, followed by Clouds of black smoke. Someone remarks, ‘those cant be Shells, they must be Mines'. This is indeed the case, for the Enemy have laid numerous land Mines, and the first Infantry who landed there, came in for a very hot time. Every now and again, a Shell came whistling overhead, and one knocks off the Funnel on a Destroyer close by. Then a hostile Airman drops a Bomb, which
bursts with a loud explosion, just astern of us. But our luxurious Breakfast goes on, and although we are both excited, and interested, the Stewards wait on us with their accustomed efficiency. Nothing can in fact, disturb their equnamity, or upset their routine, anddiscipline of years. The Colonel commanding the Artillery on Board is sitting by one of the port Holes. He has a cup of Coffee in one hand, and some buttered Toast in the other. Suddenly he looks up and remarks ’This is a strange way to do a War. From this Window I can watch my Battery in action ashore. I can see their Shells bursting, I can watch the Enemy replying, and see all our Infantry, as they gradually advance, and at the same time eat my Breakfast in comfort’. This is indeed true. It is a weird strange experience, that only comes once in a life time.
After breakfast we watch events from the Deck. Our baggage is all packed up ready to depart, but no boats and no lighters, come to take us off. The Infantry ammunition and water have to be landed first. At one the bell sounds for lunch. Throughout the afternoon, we watch the gradual advance of the 11th and 10th Divisions, as they sweep round the Salt Lake, and wheeling southwards occupy the Hill of Yilghin Burnu. That night, we are again obliged to sleep on board, as the lighters are not yet free to take us off. By the following morning, we are a little weary of the Minneapolis, and feel we ought be on Shore. At eleven o’clock our chance comes, and we slip ashore, but not without a pang of regret, at leaving such comfortable quarters. We know they are the last we shall enjoy for a long time to come. Five hundred yards separates us from A Beach, but what a change there is there . Troops are being landed in
thousands, and pushed up to the front. The Shore Is strewn with hundreds of boxes, containing biscuits, tinned meats, and ammunition, waiting to be carried up to the troops in the firing line. Every now and again, a land mine explodes, and all that is found of one soldier is his twisted rifle. The shells from the ships guns shriek overhead, and the enemy’s shrapnel bursts on all sides, whilst he frequently sends an eight inch high explosive shell, close to the beaches with the most deafening report, scattering rocks and earth and fragments of steel, in all directions. The roar of rifles is incessant and unceasing. Streams of wounded arrive from the firing line, those who are able to walk, hobbling down to the beaches, and others being carried on stretchers.
We walk across the spit to Chocolate Hill, where our friends, the artillery from the Minneapolis, have been landed. The day is as hot as a furnace, and now we are only to get a cup of dirty water, and our minds will revert to the Minneapolis, lying so calmly in the bay, and to all the iced drinks so near, and yet so far. That night we find a resting place on the northern shore of the bay, on a little spit running out into the sea. The heat is gone and the firing has died down. All is still, and the air is delightfully cool. We have no tent and no shelter, except one we have improvised, out of the thick scrub. We make a fire and cook some bully beef, and borrow some water from some kind hearted sailors, on a lighter. Five hundred yards away lies the Transatlantic Palace of Luxury. You can see the Saloon lighted up. You realise it is the dinner hour. None of us say a word, but we are all
thinking the same though ‘How pleasant it would be to just go back and sleep in a Comfortable bed and. have a nice hot dinner and be waited on by clean Stewards in white duck suits. Probably everyone, amongst the thousands on shore has some such thought, and is either thinking of the Ship he has left, or off his home. Thousands are searching for a drop of water, just to make the bully beef and biscuits go down. Thousands of wounded are wending their weary suffering way to the beaches, waiting their turn to be conveyed to the hospital ships, which look so clean and so comfortable, outside the bay, lit up by innumerable coloured lights, which sparkle on the bay.
A vision arises before your eyes. It is that of the old Steward with the vacuum cleaner, still at work dragging it slowly to and fro across the gaudy carpet at the top of the stairs. That old man has learned philosophy. He understands nought of the war, and cares still less. He has his job and the carpet must be kept clean. The worlds work must be carried on in spite of this world struggle, and their is probably not one amongst the thousands, who are lying in the open hungry, thirsty, and weary, who would not willingly exchange places with him.
[Seven pages of end-papers and cover]
[Edited by Peter Mayo for the State Library of New South Wales]