The Dardanelles – Foreword
The finest feat ever performed by British Arms ” was the description applied by Sir Ian Hamilton, in his historic despatch, to the performances of our soldiers in Gallipoli.
Of that great feat the heroic troops of Australia and New Zealand can claim the lion’s share. In those stupendous struggles which they fought side by side with their brothers in arms from the Motherland they achieved something far greater than unsurpassed acts of military valour; they forged strong links to bind together yet more closely the peoples of Greater Britain. The Anzac heroes who bled and died in Gallipoli, their English comrades, and the men of the Fleet who went to their death aboard the sinking battleships in the Dardanelles, have left a legacy to the British Empire which will have even more lasting effects than will the victory which is coming to us.
The Dardanelles campaign has showed Great Britain and her Dominions beyond the seas united in one common bond of brotherhood. The heroes of Anzac, of Suvla Bay, and the Beaches have made history by their surpassing bravery, their indomitable courage, their coolness, their cheerfulness in circumstances of appalling hardships and danger. Their story will live for ever.
This book can add no lustre to their imperishable fame, but it can make their history the more real. It shows in photographs the actual conditions in which they fought and died, it forms a pictorial record of the scenes of which so much has been written, and makes real places and incidents that have previously been only names.
Many of the photographs in this book were taken under fire. They constitute a unique souvenir of a phase in a campaign that ranks above the greatest military feats the world has hitherto known and that forms a standard by which all deeds of soldier valour will be measured in the future.
DESCRIPTION of the OPERATIONS from SIR IAN HAMILTON’S DESPATCH
The full story of what has been called the “glorious failure” at Suvla Bay has been told in an intensely vivid and graphic despatch by Sir Ian Hamilton, who was in command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. It is not possible, within the scope of this book, to print this despatch in full, but the following extracts will serve to indicate the nature of the operations associated with the places illustrated in the preceding pages.
THE DATE OF THE GREAT ADVENTURE.
Only one other action need be mentioned before coming to the big operations of August. On the extreme right of Anzac the flank of a work called Tasmania Post was threatened by the extension of a Turkish trench. The task of capturing this trench was entrusted to the 3rd Australian Brigade. After an artillery bombardment, mines were to be fired, whereupon four columns of 50 men each were to assault and occupy specified lengths of the trench. The regiment supplying the assaulting columns was the nth Australian Infantry Battalion.
At 10.15 p.m. on July 3ist the bombardment was opened. Ten minutes later and the mines were duly fired. The four assaulting parties dashed forward at once, crossed our own barbed wire on planks, and were into the craters before the whole of the debris had fallen. Total casualties : 11 killed and 74 wounded ; Turkish killed, 100.
By the time this action was fought a large proportion of my reinforcements had arrived, and, on the same principle which induced me to put General Stopford in temporary command at Helles, I relieved the war-worn 29th Division at the same place by the 13th Division under Major-General Shaw. The experiences here gained, in looking after themselves, in forgetting the thousand and one details of peace soldiering and in grasping the two or three elementary rules of conduct in war soldiering, were, it turned out, to be of priceless advantage to the 13th Division throughout the heavy fighting of the following month.
And now it was time to determine a date for the great venture. The moon would rise on the morning of the 7th at about 2 a.m. A day or two previously the last reinforcements, the 53rd and 54th Divisions, were due to arrive. The first day of the attack was fixed for August 6th.
THE ANZACS AT CHUNUK BAIR.
I will now proceed to tell of the assault on Chunuk Bair by the forces under General Birdwood, and of the landing of the 9th Corps in the neighbourhood of Suvla Bay. The entire details of the operations allotted to the troops to be employed in the Anzac area were formulated by Lieutenant-General Birdwood, subject only to my final approval. So excellently was this vital business worked out on the lines of the instructions issued that I had no modifications to suggest, and all these local preparations were completed by August 6th in a way which reflects the greatest credit, not only on the Corps Commander and his staff, but also upon the troops themselves, who had to toil like slaves to accumulate food, drink, and munitions of war. Alone the accommodation for the extra troops to be landed necessitated an immense amount of work in preparing new concealed bivouacs, in making interior communications, and in storing water and supplies, for I was determine . to put on shore as many fighting men as our modest holding at Anzac could possibly accommodate or provision. All the work was done by Australian and New Zealand soldiers almost entirely by night, and the uncomplaining efforts of these much-tried troops in preparation are in a sense as much to their credit as their heroism in the battles that followed. Above all, the water problem caused anxiety to the Admiral, to Lieutenant-General Birdwood, and to myself.
The troops to advance from Suvla Bay across the Anafarta valley might reckon on finding some wells – it was certain, at least, that no water was waiting tor us on the crests of the ridges of Sari Bair ! Therefore, first, several days’ supply had to be stocked into tanks along the beach and thence pumped up into other tanks half-way up the mountains ; secondly, a system of mule transport had to be worked out, so that, in so far as was humanly possible, thirst should not be allowed to overcome the troops after they had overcome the difficulties of the country and the resistance of the enemy.
Once the capture of Old No. 3 Post was fairly under way, the remainder of the right covering column carried on with their attack upon Bauchop’s Hill and the Chailak Dere. By 10 p.m. the northernmost point, with its machine-gun, was captured, and by 1 o’clock in the morning the whole of Bauchop’s Hill, a maze of ridge and ravine; every-, where entrenched, was fairly in our hands.
The attack along the Chailak Dere was not so cleanly carried out—made, indeed, just about as ugly a start as any enemy could wish. Pressing eagerly forward through the night, the little column of stormers found themselves held up by a barbed wire erection of unexampled height, depth, and solidity, which completely closed the river bed —that is to say, the only practicable entrance to the ravine. The entanglement was flanked by a strongly-held enemy trench running right across the opening of the Chailak Dere. Here that splendid body of men, the Otago Mounted Rifles, lost some of their bravest and their best, but in the end, when things were beginning to seem desperate, a passage was forced through the stubborn obstacle with most conspicuous and cool courage by Captain Shera and a party of New Zealand Engineers, supported by the Maoris, who showed themselves worthy descendants of the warriors of the Gate Pah. Thus was the mouth of the Chailak Dere opened in time to admit of the unopposed entry of the right assaulting column.
THE ATTACK ON THE LONE PINE TRENCHES.
The most simple method of developing this complicated series of operations will be first to take the frontal attacks from the existing Anzac position, and afterwards to go on to the assault on the more distant ridges. During the 4th, 5th and 6th of August the works on the enemy’s left and centre were subjected to a slow bombardment, and on the afternoon of August 6th an assault was made upon the formidable Lone Pine entrenchment. Although, in its essence, a diversion to draw the enemy’s attention and reserves from the grand attack impending upon his right, yet, in itself, Lone Pine was a distinct step on the way across to Maidos. It commanded one of the main sources of the Turkish water supply, and was a work, or, rather, a series of works, for the safety of which the enemy had always evinced a certain nervousness. The attack was designed to heighten this impression.
The work consisted of a strong point d’appui on the south-western end of a plateau, where it confronted, ‘at distances varying from 60 to 120 yards, the salient in the line of our trenches named by us the Pimple. The entrenchment was evidently very strong ; it was entangled with wire and provided with overhead cover, and it was connected by numerous communication trenches with another point d’appui known as Johnston’s Jolly on the north, as well as with two other works on the east and south. The frontage for attack amounted at most to some 220 yards, and the approaches lay open to heavy enfilade fire, both from the north and from the south . . .
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