6/8/1915 Gallipoli: the Allies make another bid for victory

The Gallipoli campaign is not going very well for the Allies. Troops from Britiain, France, Australian and New Zealand landed there in April to clear away the Turkish guns defending the Dardanelles straits; this would have allowed a British and French fleet to sail up to attack Constantinople, the Turkish capital. But the Turks were able to bottle up the Allies, confining them to two enclaves, one at the tip of the peninsula and another further up where the ANZAC forces of Australians and New Zealanders have barely got off the beaches. Attempts by the Allies to break out of their confinement have failed. That the Turks have been unable to throw them into the sea is but a small consolation.

Now the Allies launch another major offensive in an attempt to break the deadlock. The aim of General Hamilton, the British commander of the Allies, is to seize the Sari Bair ridge that dominates Anzac Cove (the Australian and New Zealander position). Taking the ridge should allow the ANZACs to push across the peninsula and put the whole campaign back on track for the Allies.
In an effort to confuse the Turks as to Allied intentions, British troops mount diversionary attacks at the southern tip of the peninsula. Australian troops also attack the Turks holding the position dubbed Lone Pine, which overlooks Anzac Cove but is away from the main axis of the offensive’s planned advance. Lone Pine’s situation greatly favours the defenders, to such an extent that the Turks believe it to be nigh impregnable. However, the Australians resort to the clever trick of exploding mines underneath it and then rushing the position in the middle of the afternoon (rather than at dawn, dusk or at night). In brutal hand to hand fighting they take the position, bayoneting the Turks and not bothering with any nonsense about taking prisoners.

The main Allied blow is to hit the Turks further north. Australian and New Zealand troops move into position to attack Chunuk Bair, on the Sari Bair ridge. But to support them and attempt a turning of the Turkish flank, British forces land at Suvla Bay, just to the north of Anzac Cove. The landing takes place at 9.30 pm, by which point night is falling. The Turks offer no resistance at first and the British land in strength. However, as they attempt to move inland things become unstuck. In the darkness units lose their cohesion and soldiers mill around in confusion. Turkish snipers are greatly assisted by British officers wearing white armbands, which makes them that bit more visible in the moonlight. And the British are exhausted and often sick after the long voyage they have made to the landing site; they are not in great shape to press on against the enemy with vigour.

Still, tomorrow is another day. When the main assault on Chunuk Bair takes place tomorrow perhaps at last the resistance of the Turks will be broken.

image sources:

Lone Pine (Wargaming with Barks)

map (Military History Encyclopedia on the Web)

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