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Kiretch Tepe, Suvla Bay


Kiretch Tepe is rarely visited but the rocky ground and isolation have combined to preserve many of the fighting positions of the Suvla campaign.


The Karokol Dagh ridge that rises quickly from behind Suvla Point, to some 400 feet, frames Suvla Bay. The feature continues to rise to over 600 feet further inland where it is known as Kiretch Tepe Sirt. Cliffs fall steeply towards the Gulf of Saros but inland it slopes down steadily to the Suvla Plain. At the far end it drops slightly before the junction with the Tekke Tepe ridge which forms the eastern boundary of the plain.


On 6 August, the 11th Battalion, Manchester Regiment of 11th Division landed from HMS Grampus inside Suvla Bay and despite having been landed on the wrong beach,

they acted with considerable determination. Moving round by the water’s edge they set off north towards Karokol Dagh. They were successful in clearing the isolated Turkish post at Ghazi Baba and then pushed on along the main Kiretch Tepe Ridge penetrating some two miles inland. Their example showed what could be achieved in difficult circumstances.


The first two relief battalions moved up on to Kiretch Tepe at 14.30. On reaching the positions of the 11th Manchesters, they stopped and made no effort to advance further. Having relieved the exhausted Manchesters, they began to dig in.

 

On 9 August, orders were given to capture all of Kiretch Tepe and the Tekke Tepe ridge. The 10th Division attacked  supported by naval gunnery. The initial slight resistance began to stiffen as they approached the Turkish strongpoint on the highest point on the ridge. But the total opposition still only consisted of the remnants of the three companies of Turkish Gendarmerie - about 350 men - who had been there since the original landing. The 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers captured what was to become Jephson’s Post, but the combined effects of heat, thirst and exhaustion meant that they got no further.

On the lower southern slopes of Kiretch Tepe two battalions reached as far as Kidney Hill but again a lack of resolve meant they could not stand their ground.


The rocky ground made it difficult to dig trenches and sangars of rocks scraped out and piled up in front of the ‘trench’ were the result of much hard labour.


On 15 August forders came for an attack that same afternoon. The plan was for the 30th and 31st Brigade to advance along the ridge with a supporting attack by the 162nd Brigade of the 54th Division on Kidney Hill. The attack commenced at 13.00. On the left the 7th Munsters moved forward, slowly at first as they attempted to avoid casualties, but after 18.00 they made a bayonet charge which swept the Turks back. At the same time the 6th Munsters and 6th Dublin Fusiliers charged along the crest of Kiretch Tepe until the highest point was captured. On the right 2nd Lieutenant Terence Verschoyle was advancing with 1/5th Inniskillings towards a small knoll on the southern slope of the ridge just 400 yards short of Kidney Hill.

 

 The 10th Division and the 162nd Brigade were exhausted by their efforts and all they could hope to do was consolidate their gains on the top of Kiretch Tepe. The reinforced Turks had other ideas and from 04.00 on 16th August they began a vicious series of bombing and bayonet attacks. The attacks were unrelenting and without fresh troops and plentiful bombs the battalions just could not hold out any longer and overnight reluctantly withdrew to their original positions.