HotFreeBooks.com
Gallipoli Diary, Volume 2
by Ian Hamilton
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

No other ship could be signalled. As a rule there was a destroyer on patrol about Helles which could be called up by wireless, but to-day there was no getting hold of it. I began to be afraid we should not get away till dark when, at about 3.30 p.m. Nicholson signalled that the Triad was sailing for Suvla at 4.15 p.m., and would I care to go in her, the Arno following after she had watered. We were off like a shot, young Brodrick, Captain Anstey and myself for Suvla. Braithwaite remained to carry on with Anzac and Helles. The moment I quit my post I drop out and he takes up the reins. His hands are capable—fortunately! To-day's cables before I left were right from Helles; splendid from Anzac and nothing further from Suvla.[4]

As we sailed in, that bay, always till now so preternaturally deserted and silent, was alive and bustling with ships and small craft. A launch came along from the Chatham and I jumped in whilst we were still going pretty fast and shot off to see de Robeck. He seemed to think things naval were going pretty well and that Rear-Admiral Christian had been coping quite well with his share, but suggested that, as he was under a severe strain, I had better leave him alone. As to the soldiers' show, he said what Turks were on the ground, and there weren't many, had been well beaten—but—but—but; and all I could get him to say was that although he was well aware the fighting at Helles and Anzac demanded my closest attention; still, that was in practised hands and he had felt bound to wireless to beg me to come up to Suvla and see things for myself.

Roger Keyes said then that the landings had come off, on the whole, A.1. Our G.H.Q. idea, which the Navy had shared, that the whole of the troops should be landed South of Lala Baba had been sound. The 33rd Brigade had landed there without shot fired; the 32nd had been sharply, but not very seriously opposed; the Brigade (the 34th) which we, to meet the wish of the Corps, had tried to land for them opposite Hill 10 inside the Bay, instead of with the others as we had originally arranged, had only been able to find depth at the mouth of the Salt Lake; had suffered loss from rifle fire and had been thrown into disorder by the grounding of some lighters. The long wade through the water and mud had upset the cohesion of the Brigade.

Aspinall now turned up. He was in a fever; said our chances were being thrown away with both hands and that he had already cabled me strongly to that effect. Neither the Admiral's message nor Aspinall's had reached me.[5]

Not another moment was to be lost, so Keyes took us both in his motor boat to H.M.S. Jonquil to see Stopford. He (Stopford) seemed happy and said that everything was quite all right and going well. Mahon with some of his troops was pressing back the Turks along Kiretch Tepe Sirt. There had been a very stiff fight in the darkness at Lala Baba and next morning the Turks had fought so hard on a little mound called Hill 10 that he (Stopford) had been afraid we were not going to be able to take it at all. However, it had been taken, but there was great confusion and hours of delay in deploying for the attack of the foothills. They were easily carried in the end but by that time the men were so thirsty and tired that they did not follow up the beaten enemy.

"And where are they now?" I asked.

"There," he replied, "along the foot of the hills," and he pointed out the line, north to south.

"But they held that line, more or less, yesterday," I said.

"Yes," said Stopford, and he went on to explain that the Brigadiers had been called upon to gain what ground they could without serious fighting but that, actually, they had not yet occupied any dominating tactical point. The men had been very tired; he had not been able to get water up to them or land his guns as quickly as he had hoped. Therefore, he had decided to postpone the occupation of the ridge (which might lead to a regular battle) until next morning.

"A regular battle is just exactly what we are here for" was what I was inclined to say, but what I did say was that most of this was news to me; that he should have instantly informed me of his decision that he could not obey my cabled order of yesterday afternoon to "push on rapidly." Stopford replied that he had only made up his mind within the past hour or so; that he had just got back from the shore and was going to send me a full message when I arrived.

Now, what was to be done? The Turks were so quiet it seemed to me certain they must have taken the knock-out. All along the beaches, and inland too, no end of our men were on the move, offering fine targets. The artillery which had so long annoyed Anzac used to fire from behind Ismail Oglu Tepe; i.e., within point blank range of where our men were now strolling about in crowds. Yet not a single shell was being fired. Either, the enemy's guns had been run back over the main ridge to save them; or, the garrison of Ismail Oglu Tepe was so weak and shaken that they were avoiding any move which might precipitate a conflict.

I said to Stopford, "We must occupy the heights at once. It is imperative we get Ismail Oglu Tepe and Tekke Tepe now!" To this he raised objections. He doubted whether the troops had got their water yet; he and Reed were agreed we ought to get more guns ashore; the combination of naval and military artillery was being worked out for the morning; orders would all have to be re-written. He added that, whilst agreeing with me on principle as to the necessity for pushing on, there were many tactical reasons against it, especially the attitude of his Generals who had told him their men were too tired. I thought to myself of the many, many times Lord Bobs, French, every leader of note has had to fight that same non possumus; of the old days when half the victory lay in the moral effort which could impel men half dead with hunger, thirst and sleeplessness to push along. A cruel, pitiless business, but so is war itself. Was it not the greatest of soldiers who said his Marshals could always find ten good reasons for putting off an attack till next day!

So I said I would like to see the G.O.C. Division and the Brigadiers personally so as to get a better grip of things than we could on board ship in harbour. Stopford agreed; nothing, he said, would please him more than if I could succeed where he had failed, but would I excuse him from accompanying me; he had not been very fit; he had just returned from a visit to the shore and he wanted to give his leg a chance. He pointed out Hammersley's Headquarters about 400 yards off and said he, Hammersley, would be able to direct me to the Brigades.

So I nipped down the Jonquil's ladder; tumbled into Roger Keyes' racing motor boat and with him and Aspinall we simply shot across the water to Lala Baba. Every moment was priceless. I had not been five minutes on the Jonquil and in another two I was with Hammersley.

Under the low cliffs by the sea was a small half-moon of beach about 100 by 40 yards. At the North end of the half-moon was Hammersley. Asked to give me an idea of the situation he gave me much the same story as Stopford. The 9th West Yorks and 6th Yorks had done A.1 storming Lala Baba in the dark. There had been marching and counter-marching in the move on Hill 10. The Brigadier had not been able to get a grip of his Battalions to throw them at it in proper unison and form. A delay of precious hours had been caused in the attack on Yilghin Burnu by a Brigadier who wanted to go forward finding himself at cross purposes with a Brigadier who thought it better to hold back. At present all was peaceful and he expected a Staff Officer at any moment with a sketch showing the exact disposition of his troops. He could not, he feared, point me out the Brigade Headquarters on the ground. The general line held followed the under features of the hills.

Malcolm, G.S.O.1, was then called and came up from the far end of the little beach. He was in the act of fixing up orders for next morning's attack. I told both Officers that there had never been a greater crisis in any battle than the one taking place as we spoke. They were naturally pleased at having got ashore and to have defeated the Turks on the shore, but they must not fly away with the idea that with time and patience everything would pan out very nicely. On the contrary, it was imperative, absolutely imperative, we should occupy the heights before the enemy brought back the guns they had carried off and before they received the reinforcements which were marching at that very moment to their aid. This was no guess: it was so: our aeroplanes had spotted Turks marching upon us from the North. We might be too late now; anyway our margin was of the narrowest.

Hammersley assured me that sheer thirst, and the exhaustion of the troops owing to thirst, had been the only reason why he had not walked on to Ismail Oglu Tepe last night. After Yilghin Burnu had been carried, there was nothing to prevent the occupation of the heights as the Turks had been beat, but no one could fight against thirst.

I asked him how the water question stood. He said it had been solved by the landing of more mules; there was no longer any serious supply trouble. All the troops were now watered, fed and rested. They had been told they should gain as much ground as they could without committing themselves to a general action, but they had not, in fact, made much progress. Thereupon, I pressed again my view that the Division should get on to the ridge forthwith. Let the Brigade-Majors, I said, pick out a few of their freshest companies and get on to the crest right now. Hammersley still clung to the view that he could not get any of his troops under weigh before daylight next morning. The units were scattered; no reconnaissance had been made of the ground to their front; that ground was jungly and blind; it would be impossible to get orders round the whole Division in time to let the junior ranks study them. Hammersley's points were made in a proper and soldierly manner. Every General of experience would be with him in each of them, but there was one huge danger rapidly approaching us; already casting its shadow upon us, which, to me as Commander-in-Chief, outweighed every secondary objection. We might have the hills at the cost of walking up them to-day; the Lord only knew what would be the price of them to-morrow. Helles and Anzac were both holding the Turks to their own front, but from Asia and Bulair the enemy were on the march. Once our troops dug themselves in on the crest no number of Turks would be able to shift them. But; if the Turks got there first? If, as Colonel Malcolm said, it was impossible to get orders round the Division in time,—a surprising statement—was there no body of troops—no Divisional reserve—no nothing—which could be used for the purpose of marching a couple of miles? Seemingly, there was no reserve! Never, in all my long soldiering had I been faced with ideas like these. I have seen attack orders dictated to a Division from the saddle in less than five minutes. Here was a victorious Division, rested and watered, said to be unable to bestir itself, even feebly, with less than twelve hours' notice! This was what I felt and although I did not say it probably I looked it, for Malcolm now qualified the original non possumus by saying that although the Irish and the 33rd and 34th Brigades could not be set in motion before daylight, the 32nd Brigade, which was concentrated round about Sulajik, would be ready to move at short notice.

The moment had now come for making up my mind. I did so, and told Hammersley in the most distinct terms that I wished this Brigade to advance at once and dig themselves in on the crestline.[6] If the Brigade could fix themselves upon the heights overlooking Anafarta Sagir they would make the morning advance easy for their comrades and would be able to interfere with and delay the Turkish reinforcements which might try and debouch between the two Anafartas during the night or march down upon Suvla from the North. Viewed from the sea or studied in a map there might be some question of this hill, or that hill, but, on the ground it was clear to half an eye that Tekke Tepe was the key to the whole Suvla Bay area. If by dawn, I said, even one Company of ours was well entrenched on the Tekke Tepe height we should have the whip hand of the enemy in the opening moves next morning.

Hammersley said he understood my order and that the advance should be put in hand at once. Malcolm hurried off; I left a little before 6.30 and went, via the Chatham, back to the Triad. The Arno had by now come in, but de Robeck has kindly asked me not to shift quarters if Anzac and Helles troubles will permit me to stay the night at Suvla.

All was dead quiet ashore till 11 p.m. I was on the bridge until then and, seeing and hearing nothing, felt sure the Brigade had made good Tekke Tepe and were now digging themselves in.

Captain Brody dined. The scraps of news picked up from the sailormen, mainly by young Brodrick, confirm what the soldiers had told us about the landing inside Suvla Bay along the narrow strip of land West of the Salt Lake. The attacks on Hill 10 went to pieces, not against the Turks, but by mishap. The first assault made by one or two Companies succeeded, but the assailants were taken for Turks and were attacked in turn and driven off by others of our men. A most distressing affair.

If there was hesitation and mix-up in the general handling, the Regimental folk atoned and there were many incidents of initiative and daring on the part of battalions and companies.

Mahon with some of his Irish and a Manchester Battalion are fighting well and clearing Kiretch Tepe Sirt. Until this morning bullets from that ridge were falling on "A" Beach; now the working parties are not in any way disturbed.

9th August, 1915. Imbros. With the first streak of dawn I was up on the bridge with my glasses. The hills are so covered with scrub that it was hard to see what was going on in that uncertain light, but the heavyish shrapnel fire was a bad sign and the fact that the enemy's guns were firing from a knoll a few hundred yards East of Anafarta Sagir was proof that our troops were not holding Tekke Tepe. But the Officer of the Watch said that the small hours passed quietly; no firing ashore during the hours of darkness. Could not make head or tail of it!

As the light grew stronger some of ours could be seen pushing up the western slopes of the long spur running out South-west from Anafarta. The scrub was so thick that they had to climb together and follow-my-leader along what appeared to be cattle tracks up the hill. On our right all seemed going very well. Looking through naval telescopes we thought—we all thought—Ismail Oglu Tepe height was won. Very soon the shrapnel got on to those bunches of men on our left and there was something like a stampede from North to South. Looking closer we could see the enemy advancing behind their own bursting shrapnel and rolling up our line from the left on to the centre. Oh for the good "Queen Bess," her high command, and her 15-inch shrapnel! One broadside and these Turks would go scampering down to Gehenna. The enemy counter-attack was coming from the direction of Tekke Tepe and moving over the foothills and plain on Sulajik. Our centre made a convulsive effort (so it seemed) to throw back the steadily advancing Turks; three or four companies (they looked like) moved out from the brush about Sulajik and tried to deploy. But the shrapnel got on to these fellows also and I lost sight of them. Then about 6 a.m., the whole lot seemed suddenly to collapse:—including the right! Not only did they give ground but they came back—some of them—half-way to the sea. But others made a stand. The musketry fire got very heavy. The enemy were making a supreme effort. The Turkish shell fire grew hotter and hotter. The enemy's guns seemed now to be firing not only from round about Anafarta Sagir, but also from somewhere between 113 and 101, 2,500 yards or so South-west of Anafarta. Still these fellows of ours; not more than a quarter of those on the ground at the outset—stuck it out. My heart has grown tough amidst the struggles of the Peninsula but the misery of this scene well nigh broke it. What kept me going was the sight of Sari Bair—I could not keep my eyes off the Sari Bair ridge. Guns from all sides, sea and land, Turks and British, were turned on to it and enormous explosions were sending slices off the top of the high mountain to mix with the clouds in the sky. Under that canopy our men were fighting for dear life far above us!

Between 7.30 and 8.0 the Turkish reinforcements at Suvla seemed to have got enough. They did not appear to be in any great strength: here and there they fell back: no more came up in support: evidently, they were being held: failure, not disaster, was the upshot: few things so bad they might not be worse. By 8.0 the musketry and the shelling began to slacken down although there was a good deal of desultory shooting. We were holding our own; the Welsh Division are coming in this morning; but we have not sweated blood only to hold our own; our occupation of the open key positions has been just too late! The element of surprise—wasted! The prime factor set aside for the sake of other factors! Words are no use.

Looked at from the bridge of the Triad—not a bad observation station—the tendency of our men to get into little groups was very noticeable: as if they had not been trained in working under fire in the open. As to the general form of our attack against the hills on our right, it seemed to be what our French Allies call decousu. After a whole day's rest and preparing, there might have been more form and shape about the movement. Yet it was for the sake of this form and shape that the Turkish reinforcements have been given time to get on to the heights. Our stratagems worked well, but there is a time limit set to all make-believes; the hour glass of fate was set at forty-eight hours, and now the sands have run out.

Before going over to Anzac I had to get hold of Stopford so as to hear what news had come in from Hammersley and from Mahon. If only Mahon is pushing forward to Ejelmer Bay and can occupy the high range to the East of it that would make amends for much. After breakfast, therefore, at 8.30 got into a launch and landed at Ghazi Baba with young Brodrick as my only companion. Our boat took us into a deep, narrow creek cut by nature into the sheer rock just by Ghazi Baba—a name only; there is nothing to distinguish that spot from any other. Along the beach feverish activity; stores, water, ammunition, all the wants of an army being landed. Walking up the lower slope of Kiretch Tepe Sirt, we found Stopford, about four or five hundred yards East of Ghazi Baba, busy with part of a Field Company of Engineers supervising the building of some splinter-proof Headquarters huts for himself and Staff. He was absorbed in the work, and he said that it would be well to make a thorough good job of the dug-outs as we should probably be here for a very long time. I retorted, "Devil a bit; within a day or two you will be picking the best of the Anafarta houses for your billet."

From the spot he had selected the whole of Suvla Bay and the Salt Lake lay open; also the Anafartas and Yilghin Burnu. But, being on a lower spur of Kiretch Tepe Sirt, his post was "dead" to the fighting taking place along the crest of Kiretch Tepe Sirt itself. I remarked on this and asked what news of the Irish, saying that now we were certainly forestalled at Yilghin Burnu and, apparently, on Tekke Tepe also, it was doubly essential Mahon should make a clean sweep of the ridge. Stopford said he was confident he would be able to do so, aided as he would be by the fire from the ships in the harbour—a fire which enfiladed the whole length of this feature.

As to this morning's hold up, Stopford took it philosophically, which was well so far as it went, but he seemed hardly to realize that the Turks have rushed their guns and reinforcements here from a very long way off whilst he has been creeping along at the rate of a mile a day. Stopford expected Hammersley would be in to report progress in person; he will keep me well posted in his news and he understands that the Welsh Division will be at his disposal to help the 11th Division.

As Stopford could give me no recent news from Mahon I suggested I should go and find out from him personally how matters then stood. Stopford said it was a good idea but that he himself thought it better not to leave his Headquarters where messages kept coming in. I agreed and started with George Brodrick to scale the hill.

About half a mile up we struck a crowd of the Irish Pioneer Regiment (Granard's) filling their water bottles at a well marked on the map as Charak Cheshme. In their company we now made our way Northwards along a path through fairly thick scrub as high as a man's waist. We were moving parallel to, and about 300 yards below, the crestline of the ridge. When we had gone another mile a spattering of "overs" began to fall around like the first heavy drops of a thunderstorm. So wrapped in cotton wool is a now-a-days Commander-in-Chief that this was the first musketry fire I could claim to have come under since the beginning of the war. To sit in a trench and hear flights of bullets flop into the sandbag parapet, or pass harmlessly overhead, is hardly to be under fire. An irregular stream of Irishmen were walking up the path along with us; one of them was hit just ahead of me. He caught it in the thigh and stretcher men whipped him off in a jiffy. At last we got to a spot some 2-1/2 miles from Suvla and had not yet been able to find Mahon. So I sat down behind a stone, somewhere about the letter "K" of Kiretch Tepe Sirt, and sent young Brodrick to espy the land. He found that we had pulled up within a couple of hundred yards of the Brigade Headquarters, where portions of the 30th, 31st and 34th Brigades (sounds very formidable but only five Battalions) were holding a spur and preparing to make an attack. General Mahon was actually in the Brigade Headquarters (a tiny ditch which only held four or five people) and came back to where I was sitting. He is angry, and small wonder, at the chaos introduced somehow into the Corps. He is commanding some of Hammersley's men and Hammersley has the bulk of his at the far extremity of the line of battle. He besought me to do my utmost to get Hill and his troops back to their own command.

I told him G.H.Q. had always understood Stopford would land his, Mahon's, two Brigades intact at A Beach. When the naval people could not find a beach at A, they, presumably with Stopford's concurrence, had most unluckily dumped them ashore several miles South at C Beach. This was the cause of the mix-up of his Division which Stopford, no doubt, would take in hand as soon as he could. Mahon seemed in fighting form. He said he could clear the whole of Kiretch Tepe Sirt, but that he did not want to lose men in making frontal attacks, so he was trying to work round South through the thick scrub so as to shift the enemy that way. He had reckoned five or six hundred men were against him—gendarmes. But there were more than there had been at daylight. My talk with Mahon made me happier. Here, at least, was someone who had an idea of what he was doing. The main thing was to attack before more Turks came down the coast. My own idea would certainly have been to knock the Turks out by a bayonet charge—right there. So far they had not had time to dig a regular trench, only a few shallow scrapings along a natural fold of the ground. If Mahon wished to make a turning movement, then, I think, he would have been well advised to take it by the North where the ground over which he must advance was not only unentrenched and clear of brush, but also laid quite open to the supporting fire of the Fleet. But I kept these views to myself until I could see Stopford; said good-bye to Mahon and wished him luck; found Brodrick had wandered off on his own to see the fun at close quarters; legged it, all alone, down the open southern slope of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt and got down into ground less open to snipers' fire from the scrub-covered plain.[7] Then, still quite alone, I made my way back South-west towards Ghazi Baba on Suvla Bay. After a little I was joined by two young Irish soldiers. I don't know who or what they took me for; certainly not for the Generalissimo. They came along with me and discussed identical adventures from diametrically different standpoints. One, in fact, was an optimist; the other a pessimist. One found fault with the war for not giving him enough hardship and adventure; the other was entirely fed up with adventures and hardships. This seems a trivial incident to jot down amidst issues so tremendous, but life is life, and my chat with these youngsters put some new life into me. Nearing the shore, I again struck Stopford's Headquarters, now beginning to look habitable. Braithwaite, and one or two others of my Staff turned up from Imbros at that moment. He shoved some cables into my hand and hastened off to interview Reed. Helles and Anzac have been duly warned we are both here for a few hours; all the component parts of my machine, its cranks, levers, pulleys, are assembled at Imbros, and G.H.Q. simply cannot be left under a junior much longer. Meanwhile I told Stopford about Mahon and the gendarmes. When I said that the sooner the Kiretch Tepe nettle was grasped the less it would sting, he informed me he had issued an order that Commanders were not to lose men by making frontal attacks on trenches but were to turn them.

So here is a theory which South African practice proved to be more often wrong than right being treated as an axiom at Gallipoli!

We next went into the question of digging a defensive line of trenches half-way between Corps Headquarters and Mahon's force. Here we were in accord. No man knows his luck and the tide may turn any moment. Both at Liao-Yang and the Shaho the Japanese began to dig deep trenches directly they captured a position.

Young Brodrick rejoined me here; rather anxious at having lost me. He had found Mahon with the Brigade Staff. He had been shown the exact positions on a rough sketch map made by one of the Officers. We had three Battalions in the firing line and two in reserve. The gendarmerie had been reinforced and were now estimated at 700 without machine guns or artillery. We had a mountain battery shelling the gendarmes and a monitor occasionally gave them a big fellow. The Brigade Staff had said nothing to him about a battalion working round to the South. I repeated this to Stopford and begged him to make a push for it here.

By now Braithwaite had finished with Reed, so we hurriedly discussed his budget of news. Hammersley is expected but he has not turned up yet. Indeed the situation is still by no means free from anxiety although the arrival of the Welsh Division gives confidence. A battalion of the 32nd Brigade did get up on to Tekke Tepe last night, it seems, but were knocked off this morning before they had time to entrench.[8] Seeing they should have had several hours time to dig in, that seems strange. Braithwaite handed me a bunch of signals and wires; also the news of what I had known at the back of my mind since morning,—the fact that we had not got Sari Bair! Then we started back to see de Robeck and Keyes. For the first time in this expedition Roger Keyes seemed down on his luck: we had often before seen him raging, never dejected. These awful delays:—delay in landing the Irish; delay in attacking on the 7th; delay all night of the 7th; delay during the day of the 8th and night of the 8th, have simply deprived him of the power of speech,—to soldiers, that is to say, though, to shipmates, no doubt...!

Now for Anzac. Since dawn a fever about Anzac had held me. Shades of Staff College Professors, from you no forgiveness to a Chief who runs about the mountain quitting his central post. But the luminous shade of Napoleon would better understand my desperation. Some Generals are just accumulators of the will of the C.-in-C. When that is the case, and when they run down, there is only one man who can hope to pump in energy.

Exact at noon Roger Keyes and I pushed off in the racing motor boat. On our way we stopped at "C" beach and picked up Commander Worsley. Next to Anzac, but at the Cove, found that Birdwood had left word he would meet me at the ex-Turkish Post No. 2,—so, as the water was shoal in spots, we rowed down there in a dinghy, along the shore where our lives would not have been worth half a minute's purchase just three days ago.

After scrambling awhile over the new trenches, Birdwood, Godley and I sat down on a high spur above Godley's Headquarters which gave us a grand outlook over the whole Suvla area, and across to Chunuk Bair. Here we ate our rations and held an impromptu council of war; Shaw, commanding the new 13th Division, joining in with us. All three Generals were in high spirits and refused to allow themselves to be damped down by the repulse of the morning's attack on the high ridge. They put down that check to the lethargy of Suvla. Had Stopford taken up any point on the watershed yesterday when it was unoccupied except by some fugitives, the whole Turkish position on the Peninsula would have become so critical that they could not have spared the numbers they have now brought up to defend "Q" and Koja Chemen Tepe. The Anzac Generals allowed that they themselves had got into arrears in their time tables, but they had been swift compared to Suvla.

Even as Godley was holding forth, messages came to hand to say that the Turks were passing from the defensive to the offensive and urging fresh attacks on the New Zealanders holding Chunuk Bair. Godley is certain the Turks will never make us quit hold. Shaw, who also has some of his men up there, is equally confident. Birdwood thinks Chunuk Bair should be safe, though not so safe as it would have been had we held on to that ridge at "Q" where Baldwin's delay from causes not yet known, lost us the crestline this morning. Birdie said he could have cried, and is not quite sure he didn't cry, when the bombardment stopped dead and minute after minute passed away, from one minute to twenty, without a sign of Baldwin and his column who had been booked to spurt for the top on the heels of the last shell. Unaided, the 6th Gurkhas got well astride the ridge, but had to fall back owing to the lack of his support. None the less, these Anzac Generals are in great form. They are sure they will have the whip hand of the Narrows by to-morrow.



Birdie was offered my last reserves, the 54th Essex Territorials under Inglefield. But he can't water them. The effort to carry food, water and cartridges to the firing lines is already overtaxing the Corps. If Inglefield's men were also pushed in they simply could not be kept going. When communication trenches have been dug and brushwood and rocks flattened out, it will be easier. Till then, the Generals agreed they would rather the extra pressure was applied from Suvla. Birdwood and Godley were keen, in fact, that the Essex Division should go to Stopford so that he might at once occupy Kavak Tepe and, if he could, Tekke Tepe. All that the Anzacs have seen for themselves, or heard from their own extreme left or from aeroplanes, leads them to believe that the Turkish reinforcements to the Suvla theatre came over the high shoulder of Tekke Tepe or through Anafarta Sagir about dawn this morning and that the enemy are in some strength now along the ridge between Anafarta Sagir and Ismail Oglu Tepe with a few hundred on Kiretch Tepe Sirt: the Turkish centre was a gift to us yesterday; certainly yesterday forenoon; now it can only be won by hard fighting. But the Turks have not yet had time to work round on to the high ridges east of Suvla Bay and although a few Turks did pass over Kavak Tepe, it seems to be now clear of any enemy. There is no sign of life on the bare Eastern slope of that mountain. Probably one half of the great crescent of hills which encircles the Suvla plain and, in places, should overlook the Narrows, still lies open to an advance.

So together we composed a message to Stopford and Godley sent it off by telephone—now rigged up between the two Corps Headquarters: the form was filled in by Godley; hence his counter signature:—

* * * * *

TO:—G.O.C., IXth Corps.

Sender's number. Day of month. In reply to N.Z.G. 103 9 number AAA

After speaking to Birdwood and Godley think most important use fresh troops could be put to if not urgently required to reinforce would be the occupation as early as possible of the commanding position running through square 137-119 AAA Ismail Oglu Tepe are less vital to security of base. SIR IAN HAMILTON.

From Place Fisherman's Hut. Date 2 p.m. 9th August, 1915.

A. J. GODLEY, Maj. Gen.

* * * * *

Took leave of the Anzacs and the Anzac Generals about 4.30 p.m. The whole crowd were in tip-top spirits and immensely pleased with the freedom and largeness of their newly conquered kingdom. We of the G.H.Q. were bitten by this same spirit; Suvla took second place in our minds and when we got on board the Arno the ugly events of the early morning had been shaken, for the moment, out of our minds. But, on the sail home, we were able to look at the Peninsula as a whole. Because the Anzacs, plus the 13th Division of the New Army, had carried through a brilliant stroke of arms was a reason, not for shutting our eyes to the slowness of the Suvla Generals, but for spurring them on to do likewise. There is nothing open to them now—not without efforts for which they are, for the time being, unfit—but Kavak Tepe and the Aja Liman Anafarta ridge. So, on arrival at 6 p.m., wrote out the following message from myself to General Stopford:—

* * * * *

"I am in complete sympathy with you in the matter of all your Officers and men being new to this style of warfare and without any leaven of experienced troops on which to form themselves. Still I should be wrong if I did not express my concern at the want of energy and push displayed by the 11th Division. It cannot all be want of experience as 13th have shown dash and self-confidence. Turks were almost negligible yesterday once you got ashore. To-day there was nothing to stop determined commanders leading such fine men as yours. Tell me what is wrong with the 11th Division. Is it the Divisional Generals or Brigadiers or both? I have a first-rate Major General I can send at once and can also supply two competent Brigadiers. You must get a move on or the whole plan of operations is in danger of failing, for if you don't secure the AJA LIMAN ANAFARTA ridge without delay the enemy will. You must use your personal influence to insist on vigorous and sustained action against the weak forces of the Turks in your front, and while agreeing to the capture of W Hills and spur mentioned in C.G.S. letter to you of to-day, it is of vital importance to the whole operation that you thereafter promptly take steps to secure the ridge without possession of which SUVLA BAY is not safe. You must face casualties and strike while the opportunity offers and remember the AJA LIMAN ANAFARTA ridge is your principal and dominant objective and it must be captured. Every day's delay in its capture will enormously multiply your casualties. I want the name of the Brigadier who sent the message to say his left was retiring owing to a strong attack and then subsequently reported that the attack in question has never developed. Keep Birdwood informed as he may be able to help you on your right flank."



This message seemed so important that it was sent by hand of Hore-Ruthven and another Officer by special destroyer. Braithwaite tells me that, when he was at 9th Corps Headquarters to-day he showed General Stopford the last two paragraphs of this memo which I had written when toning down the wording of a General Staff draft:—

* * * * *

"C.G.S.

"(1) I do not think much good rubbing it into these fellows, there are very few Turks opposed to them. We have done it, and that was right, but we must not overdo it.

"(2) But the men ought to be made to understand that really the whole result of this campaign may depend on their quickly getting a footing on the hills right and left of Anafarta. Officers and rank and file must be made to grasp this.

"(3) If Lindley and his new men were kept intact and thrown in on the Anzac flank, surely they ought to be able to make a lodgment.

(Initialled), "IAN H."

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 2: Must have meant south-east?—IAN H., 1920.]

[Footnote 3: Long afterwards—long after the Dardanelles Commission had finished their Report—I had the curiosity to get permission to look at the log of the Exmouth (Rear-Admiral Nicholson) to see how my cable had been translated. Here it is, very much Bowdlerized:—"Sent 11.45, received 11.59. Sir I. Hamilton to Rear-Admiral 3. Urgent. 'Understand Arno drawing fires. Can this be stopped and Arno sent (to) Mercedes to water at once? Arno specially put at my disposal by Vice-Admiral and I may require her at any moment.'" The Mercedes was the ship with our military drinking water.]

[Footnote 4: There is a hiatus in my diary here which I must try and bridge over by a footnote especially as my story seems to run off the rails when I say that "nothing further" had come in from Suvla. At 10.50 a.m. a further cable did come in from Suvla:—

* * * * *

"Approximate position of troops under General Hammersley this morning. Two battalions 33rd Brigade sea to S.E. corner of Salt Lake: will be moved forward shortly to connect if possible with Anzac troops. Two battalions 33rd holding Yilghin Burnu. Position on Hill 500 yards East Yilghin Burnu not yet certain. From Yilghin Burnu 31st Brigade holds line through Baka Baba crossroads, thence North to about 118 0 2. 32nd and 34th Brigades ordered forward from Hill 10 (117 R) where they spent night to line 118 M.R.W. to fill gap with Tenth Division. Detailed information of Tenth Division not yet definite: will report later. Consider Major-General Hammersley and troops under him deserve great credit for result attained against strenuous opposition and great difficulty."

Manifestly, the data in this cable were not enough to enable me to form any opinion of my own as to the credit due to anyone; but every soldier will understand that it was up to me to respond:

"To G.O.C. 8th Corps.

"From General Sir Ian Hamilton.

"You and your troops have indeed done splendidly. Please tell Hammersley how much we hope from his able and rapid advance."

I made no written note of this 10.50 a.m. cable (or of my reply to it) at the time and, eighteen months later, no mental note of it remained, probably because it had only added some detail to the news received during the night. But I had reason to regret this afterwards when I came to read the final Report of the Dardanelles Commission, paragraph 89. There I see it stated that "with regard to this message" (my pat on the back for Hammersley) "Sir Frederick Stopford informed us that the result of the operations on the night of the 6th and day of the 7th was not as satisfactory as he would have liked but he gathered from Sir Ian Hamilton's congratulations that his dispositions and orders had met with the latter's approval"

As to my actual feelings that forenoon, I do remember them well. At sunrise victory seemed assured. As morning melted into mid-day my mind became more and more uneasy at the scant news about the Irish Division and at the lack of news of a further advance of the 11th Division. This growing anxiety drove me to quit my headquarters and to take ship for Suvla.]

[Footnote 5: The Admiral's wireless had said, so I was told:—"It is important we should meet—shall I come to Kephalos or are you coming to Suvla?" As stated in text I did not get this cable at the time nor did I ever get it. Four years later the signal logs of the only ships through which the message could have passed; viz., Triad, Exmouth, Chatham, were searched and there is no trace of it. So I think it must have been drafted and overlooked.—IAN H., 1920.

Aspinall's cable:—"Just been ashore where I found all quiet AAA. No rifle fire, no artillery fire and apparently no Turks AAA. IXth Corps resting AAA. Feel confident that golden opportunities are being lost and look upon the situation as serious." I received this next morning from Braithwaite.—IAN H., 1920.]

[Footnote 6: Looking to the distance of Sulajik, the Brigade might have been expected to move in about an hour and a half. But, as I did not know at the time, or indeed till two years later, this Brigade was not concentrated. Only two battalions were at Sulajik; the other two, the 6th East Yorks and the 9th West Yorks, were in possession of Hill 70, vide map.—IAN H., 1920.]

[Footnote 7: My Aide-de-Camp, George Brodrick, has permitted me to use the following extract from a letter of his written to his father, Lord Midleton, at the time.

* * * * *

"I went to Suvla with Sir Ian in the afternoon of August 8th, and we arrived to find 'Nothing doing.' The beaches and hillsides covered with our men almost like a Bank Holiday evening at Hampstead Heath. Vague shelling by one of our monitors was the only thing which broke the peace of a most perfect evening—a glorious sunset.

"We went over to the Destroyer where General Stopford had his Headquarters, and I fancy words of exhortation were spoken to him. We slept on the Triad, Admiral de Robeck's Yacht. I had a camp bed on the Bridge, so as to hear any happenings during the night. About dawn our Monitors started to shell the heights behind Anafarta and a sort of assault was made; the Turkish battery opened with shrapnel, and our fellows did not seem to get very far.

"We went ashore on 'A' beach about 8 a.m. and walked up to Stopford's Headquarters, as he had gone ashore the night before. They all seemed a very lifeless crew, with but little knowledge of the general situation and no spirit in them. We made our way on across some rocky scrubby country towards Brigade Headquarters; fairly heavy rifle fire was going on, and after about two miles bullets began to ping unpleasantly all round us. I persuaded Sir Ian to lie down behind a rock, much against his will, and went on myself another 150 yards to where the Brigade Staff were sitting in a dip behind a stone wall. They told me that about 800 Turks were in front of them with no machine guns. We had 3 Battalions in the firing line and two in reserve and yet could not get on."]

[Footnote 8: Only one Company we hear now.—IAN H., 15.8.15.]



CHAPTER XVI

KAVAK TEPE ATTACK COLLAPSES

10th August, 1915. Imbros. Had to remain at G.H.Q. all day—the worst of all days. My visit to Anzac yesterday had infected me with the hopes of Godley and Birdwood and made me feel that we would recover what we had missed at Suvla, and more, if, working from the pivot of Chunuk Bair, we got hold of the rest of Sari Bair.

They believed they would bring this off and then the victory would have been definite. Now—Chunuk Bair has gone!

The New Zealand and New Army troops holding the knoll were relieved by two New Army Battalions and, at daylight this morning, the Turks simply ran amok among them with a Division in mass formation. Trenches badly sited, they say, and Turks able to form close by in dead ground. Many reasons no doubt and lack of swift pressure from Suvla. The Turks have lost their fear of Stopford and concentrated full force against the Anzacs. By Birdie's message, it looks as if the heavy fighting was at an end—an end which leaves us with a fine gain of ground though minus the vital crests. Next time we will get them. We are close up to the summit instead of having five or six hundred feet to climb.

News from Suvla still rotten. Here is the result of Hammersley's visit to Stopford after I left:—

* * * * *

"August 9. 5.35. Suvla Bay.

"DEAR BRAITHWAITE,

"I have had a talk with Hammersley and he tells me that his troops are much exhausted, have had very heavy fighting, severe losses and have felt the want of water very much. He does not consider that they are fit to make a fresh attack to-morrow.

"I have decided after consultation with him to make an attempt on the ridge about Abrikja with three fresh Territorial Battalions and six which have been used to-day. I am afraid from what I hear that the Naval guns do not have much effect on account of difficulty of accurate observation but I will arrange a programme, to be carefully timed, with Brigadier-General Smith, my Brigadier R.A., and of course all the field guns will also help. I must see Smith so please ask the V. Admiral to place a boat at Smith's disposal to bring him here to see me and then to see Generals Hammersley and Lindley. General Lindley will be in immediate command of the operations as all troops engaged in the attack will be Territorials.

"I trust the attack will succeed though to-day's did not, but in view of the urgency of the matter I feel the attempt ought to be made.

"It is absolutely necessary that I should see Smith.

"Yours sincerely, (Sd.) "FRED W. STOPFORD."

At mid-day, got a cable from the 9th Corps saying that Lindley's Division had duly gone at Hill 70, a key feature on the ridge, about 1,500 yards North-east of Yilghin Burnu—and had failed!

In giving me this news, Stopford proposes to make a second attack this afternoon with the same Division. Have caused Braithwaite to cable:

* * * * *

"Hear you propose attacking again. Chief doubts advisability with tired troops after morning's failure; if you agree consolidate where you are and rest and reorganize."

In a letter from Stopford in answer to my signal of yesterday from Fisherman's Hut, he says:—

"No. 1. Date, Aug. 9. Time, 4 p.m.

Place, Suvla Bay.

"To:

"DEAR SIR IAN,

"I have received your message from Fisherman's Hut. Hammersley has not been able to advance to-day, but the Turks have been counter-attacking all day and he has had to put in one of the Territorial Brigades to prevent being driven back.

"I quite realize the importance of holding the high ground East of Suvla Bay, but as the Turks advance through the gap between the two Anafartas where all the roads are, it is absolutely necessary to keep sufficient troops between Anafarta Sagir and Ismail Oglu Tepe, as otherwise if I were to seize the high ground between Anafarta Sagir and Ejelmer Bay without securing this gap, I might find myself holding the heights and the Turks pouring down to the harbour behind me. I will bear what you say in mind, and if I get an opportunity with fresh troops of taking the heights whilst holding on tight to my right flank I will do so. I understand that one reason why it was necessary to go for Ismail Oglu Tepe was that if I did not hold the Turks there they would fire into the rear of Birdwood's troops attacking Hill 305.

"I am, Sir, "Yours sincerely, (Sd.) "FRED W. STOPFORD."

For myself I wish the Turks would try to pour down over that flat, open country by the Salt Lake to seize the beaches under the guns of the warships.

* * * * *

Well, we had Chunuk Bair in our hands the best part of two days and two nights. So far the Turks have never retaken trenches once we had fairly taken hold. Have they done so now? I hope not. Birdie and Godley are at work upon a scheme for its recapture. The Turks are well commanded: that I admit. Their Generals knew they were done unless they could quickly knock us off our Chunuk Bair. So they have done it. Never mind: never say die. Meanwhile we have the East Anglian Division available to-morrow, and I have been over in the G.S. marquee working out ways and means of taking Kavak Tepe which may also give us an outlook, more distant, but yet an outlook, on to the Dardanelles.

11th August, 1915. Imbros. Did not dare to break away from the wire ends. A see-saw of cardinal events between Suvla and Anzac.

A workable scheme of attack has now been put into such shape as to let Stopford dovetail his Corps orders into it, and first thing sent him this cable:—

* * * * *

"G.H.Q. to IXth Corps. General Commanding wishes 54th Division Infantry to attack line Kavak Tepe peak 1195.5. at dawn to-morrow after night march to foothills; G.S.O. proceeding with detailed instructions. See Inglefield, make arrangements and give all assistance possible by landing 53rd Signal Company, water gear and tools. 53rd Division becomes general reserve."

At 4.30 p.m., a letter from Stopford anent the failure of the 53rd Division,—depressing in itself but still more so in its inferences as to the 54th Division. He says these troops showed "no attacking spirit at all. They did not come under heavy shell fire nor was the rifle fire very severe, but they not only showed no dash in attack but went back at slight provocation and went back a long way. Lots of the men lay down behind cover, etc. They went on when called upon to do so by Staff and other Officers but they seemed lost and under no leadership—in fact, they showed that they are not fit to put in the field without the help of Regulars. I really believe that if we had had one Brigade of Regulars here to set an example both the New Army and Territorials would have played up well with them but they have no standard to go by."

Worse follows, for Stopford takes back his assurance given me after my cable of the 9th when he said, "given water, guns and ammunition, I have no doubt about our being able to secure the hills." He tells me straight and without any beating about the bush, "I am sure they" (the Territorials) "would not secure the hills with any amount of guns, water and ammunition assuming ordinary opposition, as the attacking spirit was absent; chiefly owing to the want of leadership by the Officers."

Ignoring our Kavak Tepe scheme, he goes on then to ask me in so many words, not to try any attack with the 54th Division but to stick them into trenches.

This letter has driven me very nearly to my wits' ends. Things can't be so bad! None of us have any complaint at all of the New Army troops; only of their Old Army Generals. Stopford says the 13th Division were not reliable when they were at Helles, whereas now, under Godley at Anzac they have fought like lions.

Rushed off in this, the good tub Imogene (Lieutenant-Commander Potts). There the rushing ceased as she steamed along so slowly that we didn't get to Suvla till 7 p.m. Walked up with Braithwaite and Freddie to the 9th Corps Headquarters. Saw Stopford. Wrestled with him for over an hour; Braithwaite doing ditto with Reed.

Stopford urged that these last two Territorial formations sent out to us were sucked oranges, the good in them having been drafted away into France and replaced by rejections. He says he would have walked on to the watershed the first day had we only stiffened his force with the 29th Division. There happened to be some pretty decisive objections but there was no use entering into them then. So I merely told him that the 9th Corps and the Territorials being now well ashore we may be able to bring up the 29th. No doubt—had we a couple of Regular Divisions here—British or Indian—at full strength—no doubt we could astonish the world. Having the 53rd and the 54th Divisions, half-trained and at half strength, I tried to make Stopford see we must cut our coats with the stuff issued to us. The 54th were good last winter, and, even if the best have been picked out of them, the residue should do well under sound leadership: Inglefield was a practised old warrior, and would not let him down.

There was nothing solid to go upon in crying down the credit of the 54th beyond hearsay and the self-evident fact that they are half their nominal strength. To assume they won't put up a fight is a certain way of making the best troops gun-shy. We are standing up to our necks in a time problem, and the tide is on the rise. There is not a moment to spare. The Turks have reinforced and they have brought back their guns; that is true. Now they will begin to dig trenches—indeed they are already digging—and more and more enemy troops will be placed in reserve behind the Anafartas and to the East of the Tekke Tepe—Ejelmer Bay range. On the 10th the Helles people reported that, in spite of their efforts to hold the Turks, they had detached reinforcements to the North. These extra reinforcements may arrive to-morrow at Anzac or on the Anafartas; but, for at least another twenty four hours, they will not be able to get round to the high ridge between Anafarta and Ejelmer Bay. So far as can be seen by aeroplane scouting, this ridge is still unoccupied; certainly it is unentrenched.

Stopford who, at first, was dead set on digging agreed to have a dart at Kavak Tepe. He will throw the 54th at it. He will turn out the 9th Corps and, if chance offers, they will attack along their own front. His chief remaining ghost inhabits the jungly bit of country between Anafarta Ova and the foothills. In that belt he fears the Turkish snipers may harass our line of supply so that, when the heights are held, we may find it hard to feed and water our garrison. The New Armies and Territorials have no trained counter-snipers and are much at the mercy of the skilled Anatolian shikarris who haunt the close country.

So I suggested blockhouses on the South African system to protect our line where it passed through the three quarters of a mile or so of close country. The enemy artillery would not spot them amongst the trees. I promised him also one hundred picked Australian bushmen, New Zealand Maoris and Gurkhas to act as scouts and counter-snipers.

Stopford took to this idea very kindly; has fixed up a Conference of 9th Corps and Territorial Generals early to-morrow morning to discuss the whole plan, and will make every effort to occupy Kavak Tepe to-morrow night. Stopford seemed in much better form to-night; I think he is more fit: there has been 24 hours' delay but by waiting that time Inglefield and the Essex will have the help of a body of first-class scouts—quite a luminous notion. Stopford, himself, presides at to-morrow's Conference. Inglefield is a good, straight fellow, not so young as we were in South Africa, but quite all right.

Boarded the Imogene. Dropped anchor at 11 p.m. at Imbros.

12th August, 1915. Imbros. Last thing last night Stopford promised to let me know the result of the conference to be held at his Headquarters, and upon the plans for the lines of supply. Sent him a reminder:—

* * * * *

"G.H.Q. to IXth Corps. Have you arranged practical system for supplying troops in the event of Tekke Tepe ridge being secured?"

A cable from K.:—

* * * * *

"I am sorry about the Xth and XIth Divisions in which I had great confidence. Could you not ginger them up? The utmost energy and dash are required for these operations or they will again revert to trench warfare."

K.'s disappointment makes me feel sick! I know the great hopes he has built on these magnificent Divisions and I know equally well that he is not capable of understanding how he has cut his own throat, the men's throats and mine, by not sending young and up-to-date Generals to run them. K. in this, and this alone, is with Tolstoi. The men are everything; the man nothing. Have cabled back saying, "I am acting absolutely as you indicate by 'ginger'; I only got back at 11 last night from a further application of that commodity. As a result a fresh attack will be made to-morrow morning by the IXth Corps and the LIVth Division."

As to the New Army I point out to K. that "they are fighting under conditions quite foreign to their training and moreover they have no regulars to set them a standard": also, (and pray Heaven it is truth) "Everyone is fully alive to the necessity for dash, so I trust the attack of to-morrow will be much better done than were the two previous attempts."

Hardly had my cable to K. been despatched when Stopford gives us a sample specimen of "dash" by his answer to my reminder. He wires:—

* * * * *

"IXth Corps to G.H.Q. I foresee very great difficulty. The only system possible at first probably will be convoy under escort."

Twelve hours ago, more or less, Stopford had agreed that there was a difficulty which it was up to him to solve and that, at first, (i.e., till blockhouses had been built) the system would be convoy under escort. We ask him what he had done, expecting to get the particulars worked out by his Staff after the conference of Generals, and this is the reply!

Five minutes later, in came another wire giving the general situation at Suvla; saying the 53rd Division had failed to clear ground from which the right of the advance of the 54th Division might be threatened, and that Stopford wished to postpone his night march another four and twenty hours.

So this is the result of our "ginger," and Braithwaite or I must rush over to Suvla at once. Meanwhile, tactics and Kavak Tepe must wait.

Wired back:—

* * * * *

"In the circumstances the operation for to-morrow is postponed. Chief sending C.G.S. over now to see you."

Braithwaite went: is back now: has seen both Stopford and Reed: has agreed (with a sad heart) on my behalf to the night march being put off another twenty four hours.

Have had, therefore, to cable K. again, shouldering the heavy blame of this further delay:—

* * * * *

"(No. M.F. 545). From General Sir Ian Hamilton to Earl Kitchener. After anxiously weighing the pros and cons, I have decided that it is wiser to wait another 24 hours before carrying out the general attack mentioned in my No. M.F. 543. Braithwaite has just returned from the IXth Corps, and he found that the spirit and general organization were improving rapidly. A small attack by a Brigade, which promised well, was in progress. This morning the Xth Division captured a trench."

The story of the Suvla Council of War:—At first the Generals were for fighting. Inglefield, of the LIVth, who is told off for the attack, was keen. All he asked was, a clean start from Anafarta Ova. If his Division could jump off, intact and fresh, from that well-watered half-way house, Kavak Tepe was his. The LIIIrd Division for their part agreed to make good Anafarta Ova; to clear out the snipers and to hold the place as a base for the LIVth.

So at 10 a.m. Stopford issued orders saying the LIVth must march off at 4 p.m. moving East of Anafarta Ova. Then,—when at last all seemed settled, in came a message from the G.O.C. LIIIrd Division, saying he could not undertake to clear Anafarta Ova of snipers and to hold it as a cover to the advance of the LIVth.

Stopford thereupon cancelled his first order, and, at 1.15 p.m., issued fresh orders directing the LIVth Division to send in one of their own Brigades as an advance guard to clear the ground up to a point East of Anafarta Ova. Braithwaite stayed at Corps Headquarters at Suvla until this Brigade, the 163rd, was moving on Anafarta Ova driving the snipers before them. Mahon, too, after sitting for three days where I left him on the morning of the 9th, has got tired of looking at the gendarmes and has carried their trenches by the forbidden frontal bayonet charge without much trouble or loss although, naturally, these trenches have been strengthened during the interval.

Amidst these tactical miss-fires entered Hankey. He has had a cable from his brother Secretary, Bonham Carter, saying the Prime Minister wishes him to stay on longer and that Lord K. would like to know if he can do anything to give an impetus to the operations. Hankey showed me this cable; also his answer:—

* * * * *

"Reference your 6910. I am glad to stay as desired. The chief thing you could send to help the present operations would be more ammunition. For supplies already sent everyone is most grateful. It is also important that units should be kept up to strength.

"As General Officer Commanding has already apprised you fully of the situation I have nothing to add."

In the Gordons' Mess "a Marine" used to stand as synonym for emptiness. Asquith's "Marine"[9] is the reverse. Into two sentences totalling 27 words he boils down the drift of hundreds of cables and letters.

13th August, 1915. Imbros. Well, I must put it down. Worked till lunch. In the afternoon, left in H.M.S. Arno and sailed over to Suvla to have a last look over the band-o-bast for to-morrow's twice to-morrowed effort. First, saw the Admiral and Commodore who are simply dancing with impatience. No wonder. Whether or no Kavak Tepe summit gives a useful outlook on to the back of Sari Bair and the Dardanelles, at least it will give us the whip hand of the guns on the Anafarta ridge and save our ships from the annoying attentions they are beginning to receive. The sailors think too they have worked out an extra good scheme for ship and shore guns.

Stopford then came aboard; in the mood he was in aboard the Jonquil on the 8th,—only more so! The Divisional Generals are without hope, that is the text of his sermon. Hopeless about to-night, or to-morrow, that is to say; for there are rosy visions and to spare for next week, or the week after, or any other time, so long as it is not too near us. There is something in this beats me. We are alive—we are quite all right—the Brigade of the LIVth sent on to Kuchuk Anafarta Ova made good its point. True, one battalion got separated from its comrades in the forest and was badly cut up by Turkish snipers just as was Braddock's force by the Redskins, but this, though tragic, is but a tiny incident of a great modern battle and the rest of the 163rd Brigade have not suffered and hold the spot whence, it was settled, the attack on Kavak Tepe should jump off. Nothing practical or tactical seems to have occurred to force us to drop our plan.

But no; Stopford and Reed count the LIIIrd Division as finished: the LIVth incapable of attack; the rest of the IXth Corps immovable.

If I accept; we have lost this battle. We are not beaten now—the men are not—but if I accept, we are held up.

There is no way out. Whether there is any good looking back even for one moment, God knows; I doubt it! But I feel so acutely, I seem to see so clearly, where our push for Constantinople first began to quit the rails, that I must put it down right here. The moment was when I asked for Rawlinson or Byng, and when, in reply, the keen, the young, the fit, the up-to-date Commanders were all barred, simply and solely that Mahon should not be disturbed in his Divisional Command. I resisted it very strongly: I went so far as to remind K. in my cable of his own sad disappointment at Bloemfontein when he (K.) had offered him a Cavalry Brigade and he returned instead to his appointment in the Sudan. The question that keeps troubling me is, ought I to have fought it further; ought I to have resigned sooner than allow generals old and yet inexperienced to be foisted on to me?

These stories about the troops? I do not accept them. The troops have lost heavily but they are right if there were leaders.

I know quite well both Territorial Divisions. I knew them in England that is to say. Since then, they have had their eyes picked out. They have been through the strainer and the best officers and men and the best battalions have been serving for months past in France. The three show battalions in the 54th (Essex) Division are in France and their places have been taken by the 10th and 11th London and by the 8th Hants. Essex is good; London is good and Hants is good; but the trinity is not Territorial. The same with the Welshmen.

Yet even so; taking these Territorials as they are; a scratch lot; half strength; no artillery; not a patch upon the original Divisions as I inspected them in England six months ago; even so, they'd fight right enough and keen enough if they were set fair and square at their fence.

In the fight of the 10th the Welshmen were not given a chance. Sent in on a narrow front—jammed into a pocket;—as they began to climb the spur they caught it from the guns, rifles and machine guns on both flanks.

We might still do something with a change of commanders. But I have been long enough Military Secretary both in India and at home to realize that ruthlessness here is apt to be a two-edged sword. You can't clap a new head on to old shoulders without upsetting circulation and equilibrium. Still, I would harden my heart to it now—to-night—were not my hands tied by Mahon's seniority. Mahon is the next senior—in the whole force he stands next to myself. Had not Bruce Hamilton been barred by the P.M. when I wanted to put him in vice Hunter-Weston at Helles, the problem would be simple enough. Even if I had not, at the outset, given that well-tried, thrusting old fighter the conduct of the Suvla enterprise, at least I would have brought him in on the morning of the 9th instant quite easily and without causing any upset to anyone or anything. He ranks both Stopford and Mahon and nothing would have been simpler than to let him bring up a contingent of troops from Helles, when, automatically, he would have taken command in the Suvla area. What it would have meant to have had a man imbued with the attack spirit at the head of this IXth Corps would have been just—victory!

Anchored at 9 p.m. and, before going to bed, sent following cable:—

* * * * *

"From General Sir Ian Hamilton to Secretary of State for War.

"The result of my visit to the IXth Corps, from which I am just back, has bitterly disappointed me. There is nothing for it but to allow them time to rest and reorganize, unless I force Stopford and his Divisional Generals to undertake a general action for which, in their present frame of mind, they have no heart. In fact, these generals are unfit for it. With exceeding reluctance I am obliged to give them time to rest and reorganize their troops.

"Though we were to repeat our landing operations a hundred times, we would never dare hope to reproduce conditions so favourable as to put one division ashore under cover of dark and, as the day broke, have the next division sailing in to its support. No advantage was taken of these favourable conditions and, for reasons which I can only explain by letter, the swift advance was not delivered,—therefore, the mischief is done. Until we are ready to advance again, reorganized and complete, we must go slow."

14th August, 1915. Imbros. Before breakfast, Braithwaite brought me a statement of our interview of last night with Stopford. He dictated it, directly he got back last night; i.e., about three hours after the event. I agree with every word:—

* * * * *

"Notes of an interview which took place on board H.M.S. Triad between 6 and 7 p.m. on the 13th August, 1915, between the General Commanding and Sir Frederick Stopford, commanding 9th Corps.

Present:—

General Sir Ian Hamilton, G.C.B., D.S.O., A.D.C., Lieut.-General Hon. Sir Frederick Stopford, K.C.M.G., etc., Major-General Braithwaite, C.B.

* * * * *

"Sir Frederick represented that the 9th Corps were not fit to undertake an advance at the present moment. Questioned why, he replied that the losses had been considerable, that the disorganization of units was very great, and that the length of the line he had to hold was all too thinly held as it was. He stated that his Divisional Generals were entirely of the same opinion as himself; in fact, he gave us completely the impression that they were 'not for it,' but he only specifically mentioned Hammersley and Lindley. He said water was no difficulty. He implied that the troops were getting better every day, and given time to rest and reorganize, he thought they would be able in time to make an advance. But he was very emphatic on the point that at present such a thing as an attack had practically no chance of success. He told us that the opposition in the centre about Anafarta Ova could no longer be classed as sniping, but that it was regular opposition. But as he also told us that his landing was an opposed landing, I think perhaps that during the short time he has been on active service in this country he has not quite realized what opposition really means. But the salient fact remains that none of his Divisional Generals who would be employed in the attack thought that that attack would have any chance of success whatever. Indeed, he saw every difficulty, and though he kept saying that he was an optimist, he foresaw every bad thing that could possibly happen and none of the bright spots. It was a most depressing interview, but it left no doubt in the minds of the hearers that it would be quite useless to order an attack to be undertaken by a Commander and Divisional Generals whose hearts were confessedly not in it, who saw a Turk behind every bush, a battalion behind every hill, and a Brigade behind every mountain."

At lunch time Lord K. answered my last night's cable:—

* * * * *

"If you should deem it necessary to replace Stopford, Mahon and Hammersley, have you any competent Generals to take their place? From your report I think Stopford should come home.

"This is a young man's war, and we must have commanding officers that will take full advantage of opportunities which occur but seldom. If, therefore, any Generals fail, do not hesitate to act promptly.

"Any Generals I have available I will send you."

Close on the top of this tardy appreciation of youth, comes another cable from him saying he has asked French to let me have Byng, Horne and Kavanagh. "I hope," he says, "Stopford has been relieved by you already."

Have cabled back thanking him with all my heart; saying I shall be glad of the Generals he mentions as "Byng, Kavanagh and Horne are all flyers."

Between them, these two messages have cleared the air. Mahon's seniority has been at the root of this evil. K.'s conscience tells him so and, therefore, he pricks his name now upon the fatal list. But he did not know, when he cabled, that Mahon had done well. I shall replace Stopford forthwith by de Lisle and chance Mahon's seniority.

De Robeck came over for an hour in the evening.

Lord and Lady Brassey arrived in the Sunbeam, together with two young friends. They have both of them shown great enterprise in getting here. The dear old man gave me a warm greeting, but also something of a shock by talking about our terrible defeat: by condoling and by saying I had been asked to do the impossible. I have not been asked to do anything impossible in taking Constantinople. The feat is perfectly feasible. For the third time since we began it trembled in the balance a week ago. Nor is the capture of Suvla Bay and the linking up thereof with Anzac a defeat: a cruel disappointment, no doubt, but not a defeat; for, two more such defeats, measured in mere acreage, will give us the Narrows. A doctor at Kephalos, it seems, infected them with this poison of despondency. In their Sunbeam they will make first class carriers.

15th August, 1915. Imbros. De Lisle has come over to relieve Stopford. He has got his first instructions[10] and is in close communication with myself and General Staff on the preparations for the next move which will be supported by the Yeomanry from Egypt and by some more artillery. I had meant to make time to run across to Suvla to-day but Stopford may wish to see me on his way to Mudros so I shall sit tight in case he does.

Cables to and from K. about our new Generals. Byng, Maude and Fanshawe are coming. A brilliant trio. All of the three Fanshawe brothers are good; this one worked under me on Salisbury Plain. Maude is splendid! Byng will make every one happy; he never spares himself. K. has agreed to let de Lisle hold the command of the 9th Corps until Byng turns up. He wants Birdie to take over the control of the whole of the Northern theatre, i.e., Anzac and Suvla. I must think over this. Meanwhile, have cabled back, "I am enchanted to hear Byng, Maude and Fanshawe are coming—I could wish for no better men."

Sent also following which explains itself:—

* * * * *

"When I appointed de Lisle to command temporarily the IXth Corps I sent the following telegram to Mahon:—

* * * * *

"'Although de Lisle is junior to you, Sir Ian hopes that you will waive your seniority and continue in command of the Xth Division, at any rate during the present phase of operations.'

"To this Mahon sent the following reply:—

* * * * *

"'I respectfully decline to waive my seniority and to serve under the officer you name. Please let me know to whom I am to hand over the command of the Division.'

"Consequently, I have appointed Brigadier-General F. F. Hill to command temporarily the Division and have ordered Mahon to go to Mudros to await orders. Will you please send orders as to his disposal. As Peyton is not due from Egypt till 18th August, he was not in any case available."

Also:—

* * * * *

"Personal. You will like to know that the XIIIth Division is said to have fought very well and with great tenacity of spirit. In many instances poor company leading is said to have been responsible for undue losses."

16th August, 1915. Imbros. A great press of business. Amongst other work, have written a long cable home giving them the whole story up to date. Lots of petty troubles. Stopford goes to Mudros direct. De Lisle makes a thorough overhaul at Suvla.

Glyn and Hankey both looked in upon me. It is a relief to have an outsider of Hankey's calibre on the spot. He said, "Thank God!" when he heard of K.'s cable, and urged Birdie should be told off to take Suvla in hand, in his stead. I suppose the G.S. have let him get wind of K.'s identical suggestion. As I told Hankey, I have not yet made up my mind. But it would be an awkward job for Birdie with all the Anzacs to run, and no nearer Suvla really—in point of time—than we are. Nor is he staffed for so big a business. Hankey has been too long away from executive work to realize that difficulty. But the decisive factor is this; that having been closely associated with him and with his work for a good many years, I know as Hankey cannot know, how much of his strength lies in his personal touch and presence:—spread his powers too wide he loses that touch. Felt the better for my talk with Hankey. He can grasp the bigness of what we are up against and can yet keep his head and see that the game is worth the candle and that it is in our hands the moment we make up our minds to pay the price of the illuminant.

Have written to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff saying:—

* * * * *

"I have just been through a horrible mental crisis quite different from the ordinary anxiety of the battlefield, where I usually see what I think to be my way and chance it. I refer to Freddy Stopford. Here is a man who has committed no fault; whose life-long conscientious study of his profession has borne the best fruits in letting him see the right thing to do and how it should be done. And yet he fails when many a man possessing not one quarter of his military qualifications carries on with flying colours. For there is no use beating about the bush now and, simply, he was not big enough in character to face up to the situation. It overwhelmed him.

* * * * *

"A month ago we had the Turks down, undoubtedly and, whenever we could get a little ammunition together, we were confident we could take a line of trenches. As for their attacks, it was obvious their men were not for it. Now their four new Divisions of fine fighting material seem to have animated the whole of the rest of the force with their spirit, and the Turks have never fought so boldly as they are doing to-day. They are tough to crack, but D.V., we will be the tougher of the two."

17th August, 1915. Imbros. From his cable of the 14th, K. seems prepared to see me relieve Mahon of his command. But Mahon is a fighter and if I give him time to think over things a bit at Mudros, he'll be sure to think better. I am sure the wisest course to take, is to take time. A Lieutenant-General in the British Army chucking up his command whilst his Division is actually under fire—is a very unhappy affair. Lord Bobs used to say that a soldier asked, for the good of the cause, to serve as a drummer boy under his worst enemy should do so not only with alacrity but with joy. Braithwaite agrees with me that we must just take the responsibility of doing nothing at all and of leaving him quietly to cool down at Mudros. Hill, who carries on, was the General in command at Mitylene when I inspected there; he is a good fellow; he was anxious to push on upon that fatal 7th August at Suvla and everyone says he is a stout fellow.

Have got the name of the doctor who upset the Brasseys with his yarns. He declares he only retailed the tales of the wounded youngsters whom he tended. No more to be said. He has studied microbes extensively but one genus has clearly escaped his notice: he has never studied or grasped the fell methods of the microbes of rumour or panic. Am I sure that I myself have not crabbed my own show a bit in telling the full story of our fight to K. this afternoon? No, I am by no means sure.

"(No. M.F. 562.) From General Sir Ian Hamilton to Earl Kitchener. Have thought it best to lay the truth fully before you, and am now able to give a complete resume of the past week's operations, and an appreciation of the situation confronting me.

"In broad outline, my plan was to hold the Turks in the Southern zone by constant activity of French and VIIIth Corps, and to throw all the reinforcements into the Northern zone with the object of defeating the enemy opposite Anzac, seizing a new base at Suvla, and gaining a position astride the narrow part of the peninsula. With this object, I reinforced General Birdwood with the XIIIth Division, 29th Brigade, Xth Division, and 29th Indian Brigade, all of which were secretly dribbled ashore at Anzac Cove on the three nights preceding commencement of operations. This was done without arousing the suspicions of the enemy. Arrangements were made for the XIth Division to land at Suvla Bay on the same night as General Birdwood commenced his attack. Meanwhile, the Turks were deceived by ill-concealed preparations for landings on Asiatic coast near Mitylene, at Enos, South of Gaba Tepe.

"Following is detailed plan of operations:—

* * * * *

"On the afternoon of 6th August the VIIIth Corps were to attack Krithia trenches, and simultaneously General Birdwood was to attack Lone Pine trenches on his right front, as though attempting to break out in this direction. In this way it was hoped to draw the Turkish reinforcements towards Krithia and Gaba Tepe and away from Anzac's left and Suvla Bay. At 10 p.m. General Birdwood's main attack was to develop on his left flank, the Turkish outposts were to be rushed and an advance made in several columns up the precipitous ravines leading to Chunuk Bair and the summit of Hill 305, which it was hoped might be captured before daybreak.

"As soon as the high ridge was in our hands an advance was to be made down the Hill 305 to take in the rear the trenches on Baby 700 (see enlarged map of Anzac positions) and at the same time the troops in the original Anzac position were to attack all along the line in an endeavour to break out and hurl the enemy off the Sari Bair. Meanwhile the XIth Division was to commence landing 10.30 p.m. on 6th August, one brigade inside Suvla Bay, two brigades on shore to South were to seize and hold all hills covering Bay and especially Yilghin Burnu and Ismail Oglu Tepe on which enemy were believed to have guns which could bring fire to bear either on back of General Birdwood's advance on Hill 305, or on Suvla Bay. The ridge from Anafarta Sagir to Aja Liman was also to be lightly held. The Xth Division, less one brigade, was to follow XIth Division at daybreak and LIIIrd Division was held in general reserve. The LIVth Division had not arrived and could not be employed in the first instance.

"The moment Stopford had fulfilled the above tasks, which, owing to the small number of the enemy in this neighbourhood and the absence of any organized system of trenches, were considered comparatively easy, he was to advance South-west through Biyuk Anafarta with the object of assisting Birdwood in the event of his attack being held up.

"Reliable information indicated the strength of the enemy about Suvla Bay to be one regiment, one squadron and some Gendarmerie with at most twelve guns, and events have shown that this estimate was correct. It was also believed that the enemy had 36,000 in the Southern zone, 27,000 against Anzac, and 37,000 in reserve. Also 45,000 near Keshan who could not arrive for three days and 10,000 on Asiatic shore.

"The attack by the VIIIth Corps opposite Krithia took place as arranged, but was met by determined opposition. Some enemy trenches were captured, but the Turks were found in great strength and full of fight. They counter-attacked repeatedly on the night of 6th/7th, and eventually regained the ground we had taken. Prisoners captured stated that the Turks had planned to attack us that night in any case which accounts for their strength.

"In the Northern zone General Birdwood's afternoon attack was successful and Lone Pine trenches were captured by a most gallant Australian assault. Throughout the day, and for three successive days the enemy made repeated attempts to recapture the position, but each time were repulsed with severe loss. At 10 p.m. the main advance on the left flank by the New Zealanders, XIIIth Division, 29th Brigade and Cox's Brigade began, and in spite of stupendous difficulties, moving by night in most difficult country, all enemy's posts in foot of hills were rushed and captured up to and including Damakjelik Bair. The enemy was partly surprised, but his reinforcements were all called up, and this, coupled with the extreme difficulty of the country, made it impossible to reach the crest of the hill that day or the following. The position immediately below the crest, however, was reached, and on the morning of the 8th, after severe fighting, two battalions of the XIIIth Division and Gurkhas reached the top of Kurt Ketchede, and two battalions of New Zealanders established themselves on the crest of the ridge at Chunuk Bair.

"Unfortunately, the troops on Kurt Ketchede were shelled off the ridge by our own gun fire, and were unable to recapture it; and 48 hours later two battalions of the XIIIth Division, who had relieved tired New Zealanders on Chunuk Bair, were driven back by determined daybreak assault, carried by the Turks in many successive lines, shoulder to shoulder. Our troops were too weary, and much too disorganized to make a counter-attack at that time, and could only maintain positions below crest. Water supply, which had always been an anxiety, began to fail, and grave difficulties arose which prevented the possibility of reinforcing Birdwood, and almost necessitated our giving up our gains. All this, however, has now been put right.

"Meanwhile, Stopford's Corps at Suvla had landed most successfully, but, owing to lack of energy and determination on the part of leaders, and, perhaps, partly to the inexperience of the troops, had failed to take advantage of the opportunities as already reported.

"The result is that my coup has so far failed. It was soon realized that it was necessary to give impetus to the IXth Corps, and the LIIIrd Division was put in on 8th-9th. By this time the LIVth Division was available as general reserve. Unfortunately, the LIIIrd Division broke in my hand, leaving me like a fencer with rapier broken, and by the time the LIVth Division arrived the remaining troops of the Corps were too tired and disorganized for further immediate effort.

"The IXth Corps holds the position from Kiretch Tepe Sirt, bench mark 2; Sulajik; Yilghin Burnu, with right flank thrown south to connect with Birdwood at Kazlar Chair. Godley has picket between Kazlar Chair and Damakjelik Bair, whence his line runs South-east to the spur South of Abdel Rahman Bair, thence South-west to square 80 D, South-east again to within 300 yards of Point 161 on Chunuk Bair, and thence back to the left of the Anzac position.

"De Lisle has at his disposal the Xth Division, less one brigade, the XIth, LIIIrd and LIVth Divisions; total rifles, owing to casualties, under 30,000. The Suvla losses have been too severe considering extent and nature of the fighting that has taken place, and can only be attributed to the inexperience of the troops and their leaders, and the daring way in which the enemy skirmishers presumed upon it in the broken and wooded country. Birdwood has lost about 13,000 since the action began, and has now available some 25,000 rifles. The VIIIth Corps has 23,000 rifles, and the French 17,000 rifles.

"The Turks have continued to be most active in the South, no doubt with the object of preventing us moving troops, but apparently they have now no more than 35,000 in this zone. The majority of the enemy Commander's troops are against Anzac and in reserve in the valley between Hills 305 and 261, his strategic flank.

"In the Northern zone, in the fighting line at Suvla and Anzac and in reserve he may now have in all 75,000, and can either reinforce Hill 305 or issue through the gap between the two Anafartas to oppose any attack on Ismail Oglu Tepe or on the ridge running thence to Anafarta Sagir. He has guns on Hill 305, on Ismail Oglu Tepe, and on the ridge North of Anafarta Sagir from which he can shell landing places at Suvla Bay, but is not holding the latter ridge in strength, nor do I think he has enough troops to enable him to do so.

"The position regarding the Turkish reinforcements from Keshan is not clear. Only small parties have been located by aeroplanes marching South, and it appears that either this information was incorrect or that the enemy's forces had already got as far as the peninsula before fighting began.

"I consider it urgently necessary to seize Ismail Oglu Tepe and Anafarta Sagir at the earliest possible moment, and I have ordered de Lisle to make the attempt at the earliest opportunity. I have also ordered Birdwood to make a fresh attack on Hill 305 as soon as troops are reorganized and the difficulties of water supply solved, but for this he will require drafts and fresh troops. I have great hopes that these attacks may yet be successful, but it is impossible to disguise the fact that owing to the failure of the IXth Corps to take advantage of opportunities and the fact that surprise may now be absent, and that the enemy is prepared and in much greater strength, my difficulties are enormously increased. In any case my cadres will be so depleted as a result of action that I shall need large reinforcements to enable me to bring the operations to a happy conclusion.

"The Turkish losses have been heavier than ours, and the total number of prisoners taken is 702, but I estimate that they have now in the peninsula at least 110,000 rifles to my 95,000 and they have all the advantage of position. They have, apparently, all the ammunition they need and obtain reinforcements as they are wanted. In particular, we have had no news of the arrival of the 45,000 troops reported to be at Keshan, and only one of the Asiatic Divisions has as yet come over. I had hoped that their reinforcements would be of poor quality and not a match for ours but this is not the case, and unfortunately the Turks have temporarily gained the moral ascendency over some of our new troops. If, therefore, this campaign is to be brought to an early and successful conclusion large reinforcements will have to be sent to me—drafts for the formations already here, and new formations with considerably reduced proportion of artillery. It has become a question of who can slog longest and hardest.

"Owing to the difficulty of carrying on a winter campaign, and the lateness of the season, these troops should be sent immediately. My British Divisions are at present 45,000 under establishment, exclusive of about 9,000 promised or on the way. If this deficit were made up, and new formations totalling 50,000 rifles sent out as well, these, with the 60,000 rifles which I estimate I shall have at the time of their arrival, should give me the necessary superiority, unless the absence of other enemies allows the Turks to bring up large additional reinforcements.

"I hope you will realize how nearly this operation was a success complete beyond anticipation. The surprise was complete, and the army was thrown ashore in record time, practically without loss, and a little more push on the part of the IXth Corps would have relieved the pressure on Anzac, facilitated the retention of Chunuk Bair, secured Suvla Bay as a port, and threatened the enemy's right in a way that should have enabled Anzac to turn a success into a great victory.

"We are up against the Turkish Army which is well commanded and fighting bravely."

After all's said and done the troops at Helles and Anzac are still perfectly game and we have got nearer our goal. We started forth to:—

* * * * *

(1) Seize Suvla Bay;

(2) Break out of Anzac and join on to Suvla;

(3) Seize Sari Bair crestline;

(4) Hold enough of the hinterland of Suvla Bay to make it a comfortable harbour.

* * * * *

(1) and (2) we have carried through handsomely. We have trebled our holding at Anzac and we have put Suvla Bay in our pocket. (3) we have not done; we are short of it by a couple of hundred yards; (4) we have not done; it is a practicable harbour but subject certainly to annoyance. In honest, gambler's language, we have won a good stake but we have not broke the Ottoman Bank.

De Lisle reports confusion throughout Suvla Bay area. He must have three or four days to pull the troops together before he organizes a fresh offensive. The IXth Corps has been un corps sans tete.

FOOTNOTES:

[Footnote 9: Hankey belonged to the Royal Marine Artillery.—IAN H., 1920.]

[Footnote 10: See Appendix IV containing actual letter of instructions.—IAN H., 1920.]



CHAPTER XVII

THE LAST BATTLE

18th August, 1915. Imbros. Freddie and I left in the Arno this morning; Braithwaite and his boy Val came with us. We sailed for Suvla via Anzac and held a meeting which was nearer a Council of War than anything up to date. Dawnay, Deedes and Beadon stood by; so did Generals Skeen, Hammersley and Peyton. Reed, C.G.S., IXth Corps, was also present. The discussion of the steps to be taken within the next two or three days lasted an hour and a half. Every one who spoke had studied the data and the ground and there was no divergence of view, which was a comfort. Our attack will have as its objective the seizure of a foothold on the high ground. Anzacs will co-operate. As I explained to the Generals, we hardly dare hope to make a clean break through till drafts and fresh munitions arrive as the Turks now have had too long to dig in. But if we can seize and keep a point upon the watershed (however small) from which we can observe the drop of our shell, we can knock out the landing places of the Turks. At the end, I told them I had asked for 95,000 fresh rifles, 50,000 in new formations, 45,000 to bring my skeleton units up to strength, adding, that if I was refused that help then I felt Government had better get someone cleverer than myself to put their Fleet into the Marmora. The Generals seemed satisfied with my demands and sympathetic towards my personal attitude.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse