in two volumes
General Sir Ian Hamilton
Sir Roger Keyes, Vice-Admiral De Robeck, Sir Ian Hamilton, General Braithwaite
On the heels of the South African War came the sleuth-hounds pursuing the criminals, I mean the customary Royal Commissions. Ten thousand words of mine stand embedded in their Blue Books, cold and dead as so many mammoths in glaciers. But my long spun-out intercourse with the Royal Commissioners did have living issue—my Manchurian and Gallipoli notes. Only constant observation of civilian Judges and soldier witnesses could have shown me how fallible is the unaided military memory or have led me by three steps to a War Diary—
(1) There is nothing certain about war except that one side won't win.
(2) The winner is asked no questions—the loser has to answer for everything.
(3) Soldiers think of nothing so little as failure and yet, to the extent of fixing intentions, orders, facts, dates firmly in their own minds, they ought to be prepared.
Conclusion:—In war, keep your own counsel, preferably in a note-book.
The first test of the new resolve was the Manchurian Campaign, 1904-5; and it was a hard test. Once that Manchurian Campaign was over I never put pen to paper—in the diary sense—until I was under orders for Constantinople. Then I bought a note-book as well as a Colt's automatic (in fact, these were the only two items of special outfit I did buy), and here are the contents—not of the auto but of the book. Also, from the moment I took up the command, I kept cables, letters and copies (actions quite foreign to my natural disposition), having been taught in my youth by Lord Roberts that nothing written to a Commander-in-Chief, or his Military Secretary, can be private if it has a bearing on operations. A letter which may influence the Chief Command of an Army and, therefore, the life of a nation, may be "Secret" for reasons of State; it cannot possibly be "Private" for personal reasons.
At the time, I am sure my diary was a help to me in my work. The crossings to and from the Peninsula gave me many chances of reckoning up the day's business, sometimes in clear, sometimes in a queer cipher of my own. Ink stands with me for an emblem of futurity, and the act of writing seemed to set back the crisis of the moment into a calmer perspective. Later on, the diary helped me again, for although the Dardanelles Commission did not avail themselves of my formal offer to submit what I had written to their scrutiny, there the records were. Whenever an event, a date and a place were duly entered in their actual coincidence, no argument to the contrary could prevent them from falling into the picture: an advocate might just as well waste eloquence in disputing the right of a piece to its own place in a jig-saw puzzle. Where, on the other hand, incidents were not entered, anything might happen and did happen; vide, for instance, the curious misapprehension set forth in the footnotes to pages 59, 60, Vol. II.
So much for the past. Whether these entries have not served their turn is now the question. They were written red-hot amidst tumult, but faintly now, and as in some far echo, sounds the battle-cry that once stopped the beating of thousands of human hearts as it was borne out upon the night wind to the ships. Those dread shapes we saw through our periscopes are dust: "the pestilence that walketh in darkness" and "the destruction that wasteth at noonday" are already images of speech: only the vastness of the stakes; the intensity of the effort and the grandeur of the sacrifice still stand out clearly when we, in dreams, behold the Dardanelles. Why not leave that shining impression as a martial cloak to cover the errors and vicissitudes of all the poor mortals who, in the words of Thucydides, "dared beyond their strength, hazarded against their judgment, and in extremities were of an excellent hope?"
Why not? The tendency of every diary is towards self-justification and complaint; yet, to-day, personally, I have "no complaints." Would it not be wiser, then, as well as more dignified, to let the Dardanelles R.I.P.? The public will not be starved. A Dardanelles library exists—- nothing less—from which three luminous works by Masefield, Nevinson and Callwell stand out; works each written by a man who had the right to write; each as distinct from its fellow as one primary colour from another, each essentially true. On the top of these comes the Report of the Dardanelles Commission and the Life of Lord Kitchener, where his side of the story is so admirably set forth by his intimate friend, Sir George Arthur. The tale has been told and retold. Every morsel of the wreckage of our Armada seems to have been brought to the surface. There are fifty reasons against publishing, reasons which I know by heart. On the other side there are only three things to be said—
(1) Though the bodies recovered from the tragedy have been stripped and laid out in the Morgue, no hand has yet dared remove the masks from their faces.
(2) I cannot destroy this diary. Before his death Cranmer thrust his own hand into the flames: "his heart was found entire amidst the ashes."
(3) I will not leave my diary to be flung at posterity from behind the cover of my coffin. In case anyone wishes to challenge anything I have said, I must be above ground to give him satisfaction.
Therefore, I will publish and at once.
A man has only one life on earth. The rest is silence. Whether God will approve of my actions at a moment when the destinies of hundreds of millions of human beings hung upon them, God alone knows. But before I go I want to have the verdict of my comrades of all ranks at the Dardanelles, and until they know the truth, as it appeared to me at the time, how can they give that verdict?
April 25, 1920.
In the train between Paris and Marseilles, 14th March, 1915.
Neither the Asquith banquet, nor the talk at the Admiralty that midnight had persuaded me I was going to do what I am actually doing at this moment. K. had made no sign nor waved his magic baton. So I just kept as cool as I could and had a sound sleep.
Next morning, that is the 12th instant, I was working at the Horse Guards when, about 10 a.m., K. sent for me. I wondered! Opening the door I bade him good morning and walked up to his desk where he went on writing like a graven image. After a moment, he looked up and said in a matter-of-fact tone, "We are sending a military force to support the Fleet now at the Dardanelles, and you are to have Command."
Something in voice or words touched a chord in my memory. We were once more standing, K. and I, in our workroom at Pretoria, having just finished reading the night's crop of sixty or seventy wires. K. was saying to me, "You had better go out to the Western Transvaal." I asked no question, packed up my kit, ordered my train, started that night. Not another syllable was said on the subject. Uninstructed and unaccredited I left that night for the front; my outfit one A.D.C., two horses, two mules and a buggy. Whether I inspected the columns and came back and reported to K. in my capacity as his Chief Staff Officer; or, whether, making use of my rank to assume command in the field, I beat up de la Rey in his den—all this rested entirely with me.
So I made my choice and fought my fight at Roodewal, last strange battle in the West. That is K.'s way. The envoy goes forth; does his best with whatever forces he can muster and, if he loses;—well, unless he had liked the job he should not have taken it on.
At that moment K. wished me to bow, leave the room and make a start as I did some thirteen years ago. But the conditions were no longer the same. In those old Pretoria days I had known the Transvaal by heart; the number, value and disposition of the British forces; the characters of the Boer leaders; the nature of the country. But my knowledge of the Dardanelles was nil; of the Turk nil; of the strength of our own forces next to nil. Although I have met K. almost every day during the past six months, and although he has twice hinted I might be sent to Salonika; never once, to the best of my recollection, had he mentioned the word Dardanelles.
I had plenty of time for these reflections as K., after his one tremendous remark had resumed his writing at the desk. At last, he looked up and inquired, "Well?"
"We have done this sort of thing before, Lord K." I said; "we have run this sort of show before and you know without saying I am most deeply grateful and you know without saying I will do my best and that you can trust my loyalty—but I must say something—I must ask you some questions." Then I began.
K. frowned; shrugged his shoulders; I thought he was going to be impatient, but although he gave curt answers at first he slowly broadened out, until, at the end, no one else could get a word in edgeways.
My troops were to be Australians and New Zealanders under Birdwood (a friend); strength, say, about 30,000. (A year ago I inspected them in their own Antipodes and no finer material exists); the 29th Division, strength, say 19,000 under Hunter-Weston—a slashing man of action; an acute theorist; the Royal Naval Division, 11,000 strong (an excellent type of Officer and man, under a solid Commander—Paris); a French contingent, strength at present uncertain, say, about a Division, under my old war comrade the chivalrous d'Amade, now at Tunis.
Say then grand total about 80,000—probably panning out at some 50,000 rifles in the firing line. Of these the 29th Division are extras—division de luxe.
K. went on; he was now fairly under weigh and got up and walked about the room as he spoke. I knew, he said, his (K.'s) feelings as to the political and strategic value of the Near East where one clever tactical thrust delivered on the spot and at the spot might rally the wavering Balkans. Rifle for rifle, at that moment, we could nowhere make as good use of the 29th Division as by sending it to the Dardanelles, where each of its 13,000 rifles might attract a hundred more to our side of the war. Employed in France or Flanders the 29th would at best help to push back the German line a few miles; at the Dardanelles the stakes were enormous. He spoke, so it struck me, as if he was defending himself in argument: he asked if I agreed. I said, "Yes." "Well," he rejoined, "You may just as well realize at once that G.H.Q. in France do not agree. They think they have only to drive the Germans back fifty miles nearer to their base to win the war. Those are the same fellows who used to write me saying they wanted no New Army; that they would be amply content if only the old Old Army and the Territorials could be kept up to strength. Now they've been down to Aldershot and seen the New Army they are changing their tune, but I am by no means sure, now, that I'll give it to them. French and his Staff believe firmly that the British Imperial Armies can pitch their camp down in one corner of Europe and there fight a world war to a finish. The thing is absurd but French, plus France, are a strong combine and they are fighting tooth and nail for the 29th Division. It must clearly be understood then:—"
(1) That the 29th Division are only to be a loan and are to be returned the moment they can be spared.
(2) That all things ear-marked for the East are looked on by powerful interests both at home and in France as having been stolen from the West.
Did I take this in? I said, "I take it from you." Did I myself, speaking as actual Commander of the Central Striking Force and executively responsible for the land defence of England, think the 29th Division could be spared at all? "Yes," I said, "and four more Territorial Divisions as well." K. used two or three very bad words and added, with his usual affability, that I would find myself walking about in civilian costume instead of going to Constantinople if he found me making any wild statements of that sort to the politicians. I laughed and reminded him of my testimony before the Committee of Imperial Defence about my Malta amphibious manœuvres; about the Malta Submarines and the way they had destroyed the battleships conveying my landing forces. If there was any politician, I said, who cared a hang about my opinions he knew quite well already my views on an invasion of England; namely, that it would be like trying to hurt a monkey by throwing nuts at him. I didn't want to steal what French wanted, but now that the rifles had come and the troops had finished their musketry, there was no need to squabble over a Division. Why not let French have two of my Central Force Territorial Division at once,—they were jolly good and were wasting their time over here. That would sweeten French and he and Joffre would make no more trouble about the 29th.
K. glared at me. I don't know what he was going to say when Callwell came into the room with some papers.
We moved to the map in the window and Callwell took us through a plan of attack upon the Forts at the Dardanelles, worked out by the Greek General Staff. The Greeks had meant to employ (as far as I can remember) 150,000 men. Their landing was to have taken place on the North-west coast of the Southern part of the Peninsula, opposite Kilid Bahr. "But," said K., "half that number of men will do you handsomely; the Turks are busy elsewhere; I hope you will not have to land at all; if you do have to land, why then the powerful Fleet at your back will be the prime factor in your choice of time and place."
I asked K. if he would not move the Admiralty to work a submarine or two up the Straits at once so as to prevent reinforcements and supplies coming down by sea from Constantinople. By now the Turks must be on the alert and it was commonsense to suppose they would be sending some sort of help to their Forts. However things might pan out we could not be going wrong if we made the Marmora unhealthy for the Turkish ships. Lord K. thereupon made the remark that if we could get one submarine into the Marmora the defences of the Dardanelles would collapse. "Supposing," he said, "one submarine pops up opposite the town of Gallipoli and waves a Union Jack three times, the whole Turkish garrison on the Peninsula will take to their heels and make a bee line for Bulair."
In reply to a question about Staff, Lord K., in the gruff voice he puts on when he wants no argument, told me I could not take my own Chief of Staff, Ellison, and that Braithwaite would go with me in his place. Ellison and I have worked hand in glove for several years; our qualities usefully complement one another; there was no earthly reason I could think of why Ellison should not have come with me, but; I like Braithwaite; he had been on my General Staff for a time in the Southern Command; he is cheery, popular and competent.
Wolfe Murray, the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, was then called in, also Archie Murray, Inspector of Home Forces, and Braithwaite. This was the first (apparently) either of the Murrays had heard of the project!!! Both seemed to be quite taken aback, and I do not remember that either of them made a remark.
Braithwaite was very nice and took a chance to whisper his hopes he would not give me too much cause to regret Ellison. He only said one thing to K. and that produced an explosion. He said it was vital that we should have a better air service than the Turks in case it came to fighting over a small area like the Gallipoli Peninsula: he begged, therefore, that whatever else we got, or did not get, we might be fitted out with a contingent of up-to-date aeroplanes, pilots and observers. K. turned on him with flashing spectacles and rent him with the words, "Not one!"
25th April, 1915.
H.M.S. "Queen Elizabeth." Our Queen chose the cold grey hour of 4 a.m. to make her war toilette. By 4.15 she had sunk the lady and put on the man of war. Gone were the gay companions; closed the tight compartments and stowed away under armour were all her furbelows and frills. In plain English, our mighty battleship was cleared for action, and—my mind—that also has now been cleared of its everyday lumber: and I am ready.
If this is a queer start for me, so it is also for de Robeck. In sea warfare, the Fleet lies in the grip of its Admiral like a platoon in the hands of a Subaltern. The Admiral sees; speaks the executive word and the whole Fleet moves; not, as with us, each Commander carrying out the order in his own way, but each Captain steaming, firing, retiring to the letter of the signal. In the Navy the man at the gun, the man at the helm, the man sending up shells in the hoist has no discretion unless indeed the gear goes wrong, and he has to use his wits to put it right again. With us the infantry scout, a boy in his teens perhaps, may have to decide whether to open fire, to lie low or to fall back; whether to bring on a battle or avoid it. But the Fleet to-day is working like an army; the ships are widely scattered each one on its own, except in so far as wireless may serve, and that is why I say de Robeck is working under conditions just as unusual to him as mine are to me.
My station is up in the conning tower with de Robeck. The conning tower is a circular metal chamber, like a big cooking pot. Here we are, all eyes, like potatoes in the cooking pot aforesaid, trying to peep through a slit where the lid is raised a few inches, ad hoc, as these blasted politicians like to say. My Staff are not with me in this holy of holies, but are stowed away in steel towers or jammed into 6-inch batteries.
So we kept moving along and at 4.30 a.m. were off Sedd-el-Bahr. All quiet and grey. Thence we steamed for Gaba Tepe and midway, about 5 o'clock, heard a very heavy fire from Helles behind us. The Turks are putting up some fight. Now we are off Gaba Tepe!
The day was just breaking over the jagged hills; the sea was glassy smooth; the landing of the lads from the South was in full swing; the shrapnel was bursting over the water; the patter of musketry came creeping out to sea; we are in for it now; the machine guns muttered as through chattering teeth—up to our necks in it now. But would we be out of it? No; not one of us; not for five hundred years stuffed full of dullness and routine.
By 5.35 the rattle of small arms quieted down; we heard that about 4,000 fighting men had been landed; we could see boat-loads making for the land; swarms trying to straighten themselves out along the shore; other groups digging and hacking down the brushwood. Even with our glasses they did not look much bigger than ants. God, one would think, cannot see them at all or He would put a stop to this sort of panorama altogether. And yet, it would be a pity if He missed it; for these fellows have been worth the making. They are not charging up into this Sari Bair range for money or by compulsion. They fight for love—all the way from the Southern Cross for love of the old country and of liberty. Wave after wave of the little ants press up and disappear. We lose sight of them the moment they lie down. Bravo! every man on our great ship longs to be with them. But the main battle called. The Admiral was keen to take me when and where the need might most arise. So we turned South and steamed slowly back along the coast to Cape Helles.
Opposite Krithia came another great moment. We have made good the landing—sure—it is a fact. I have to repeat the word to myself several times, "fact," "fact," "fact," so as to be sure I am awake and standing here looking at live men through a long telescope. The thing seems unreal; as though I were in a dream, instead of on a battleship. To see words working themselves out upon the ground; to watch thoughts move over the ground as fighting men....!
Both Battalions, the Plymouth and the K.O.S.B.s, had climbed the high cliff without loss; so it was signalled; there is no firing; the Turks have made themselves scarce; nothing to show danger or stress; only parties of our men struggling up the sandy precipice by zigzags, carrying munitions and large glittering kerosine tins of water. Through the telescope we can now make out a number of our fellows in groups along the crest of the cliff, quite peacefully reposing—probably smoking. This promises great results to our arms—not the repose or the smoking, for I hope that won't last long—but the enemy's surprise. In spite of Egypt and the Egyptian Gazette; in spite of the spy system of Constantinople, we have brought off our tactical coup and surprised the enemy Chief. The bulk of the Turks are not at Gaba Tepe; here, at "Y," there are none at all!
In a sense, and no mean sense either, I am as much relieved, and as sanguine too, at the coup we have brought off here as I was just now to see Birdie's four thousand driving the Turks before them into the mountains. The schemes are not on the same scale. If the Australians get through to Mal Tepe the whole Turkish Army on the Peninsula will be done in. If the "Y" Beach lot press their advantage they may cut off the enemy troops on the toe of the Peninsula. With any luck, the K.O.S.B.s and Plymouths at "Y" should get right on the line of retreat of the Turks who are now fighting to the South.
The point at issue as we sailed down to "X" Beach was whether that little force at "Y" should not be reinforced by the Naval Division who were making a feint against the Bulair Lines and had, by now, probably finished their work. Braithwaite has been speaking to me about it. The idea appealed to me very strongly because I have been all along most keen on the "Y" Beach plan which is my own special child; and this would be to make the most of it and press it for all it was worth. But, until the main battle develops more clearly at Gaba Tepe and at Sedd-el-Bahr I must not commit the only troops I have in hand as my Commander-in-Chief's reserve.
When we got to "X" Beach the foreshore and cliffs had been made good without much loss in the first instance, we were told, though there is a hot fight going on just south of it. But fresh troops will soon be landing:—so far so good. Further round, at "W" Beach, another lodgment had been effected; very desperate and bloody, we are told by the Naval Beachmaster: and indeed we can see some of the dead, but the Lancashire Fusiliers hold the beach though we don't seem yet to have penetrated inland. By Sedd-el-Bahr, where we hove to about 6.45, the light was very baffling; land wrapped in haze, sun full in our eyes. Here we watched as best we could over the fight being put up by the Turks against our forlorn hope on the River Clyde. Very soon it became clear that we were being held. Through our glasses we could quite clearly watch the sea being whipped up all along the beach and about the River Clyde by a pelting storm of rifle bullets. We could see also how a number of our dare-devils were up to their necks in this tormented water trying to struggle on to land from the barges linking the River Clyde to the shore. There was a line of men lying flat down under cover of a little sandbank in the centre of the beach. They were so held under by fire they dared not, evidently, stir. Watching these gallant souls from the safety of a battleship gave me a hateful feeling: Roger Keyes said to me he simply could not bear it. Often a Commander may have to watch tragedies from a post of safety. That is all right. I have had my share of the hair's breadth business and now it becomes the turn of the youngsters. But, from the battleship, you are outside the frame of the picture. The thing becomes monstrous; too cold-blooded; like looking on at gladiators from the dress circle. The moment we became satisfied that none of our men had made their way further than a few feet above sea level, the Queen opened a heavy fire from her 6-inch batteries upon the Castle, the village and the high steep ground ringing round the beach in a semi-circle. The enemy lay very low somewhere underground. At times the River Clyde signalled that the worst fire came from the old Fort and Sedd-el-Bahr; at times that these bullets were pouring out from about the second highest rung of seats on the West of that amphitheatre in which we were striving to take our places. Ashore the machine guns and rifles never ceased—tic tac, tic tac, brrrr—tic tac, tic tac, brrrrrr...... Drowned every few seconds by our tremendous salvoes, this more nervous noise crept back insistently into our ears in the interval. As men fixed in the grip of nightmare, we were powerless—unable to do anything but wait.
When we saw our covering party fairly hung up under the fire from the Castle and its outworks, it became a question of issuing fresh orders to the main body who had not yet been committed to that attack. There was no use throwing them ashore to increase the number of targets on the beach. Roger Keyes started the notion that these troops might well be diverted to "Y" where they could land unopposed and whence they might be able to help their advance guard at "V" more effectively than by direct reinforcement if they threatened to cut the Turkish line of retreat from Sedd-el-Bahr. Braithwaite was rather dubious from the orthodox General Staff point of view as to whether it was sound for G.H.Q. to barge into Hunter-Weston's plans, seeing he was executive Commander of the whole of this southern invasion. But to me the idea seemed simple common sense. If it did not suit Hunter-Weston's book, he had only to say so. Certainly Hunter-Weston was in closer touch with all these landings than we were; it was not for me to force his hands: there was no question of that: so at 9.15 I wirelessed as follows:
"G.O.C. in C. to G.O.C. Euryalus."
"Would you like to get some more men ashore on 'Y' beach? If so, trawlers are available."
Three quarters of an hour passed; the state of affairs at Sedd-el-Bahr was no better, and in an attack if you don't get better you get worse; the supports were not being landed; no answer had come to hand. So repeated my signal to Hunter-Weston, making it this time personal from me to him and ordering him to acknowledge receipt. (Lord Bobs' wrinkle)—
"General Hamilton to General Hunter-Weston, Euryalus.
"Do you want any more men landed at 'Y'? There are trawlers available. Acknowledge the signal."
At 11 a.m. I got this answer—
"From General Hunter-Weston to G.O.C. Queen Elizabeth.
"Admiral Wemyss and Principal Naval Transport Officer state that to interfere with present arrangements and try to land men at 'Y' Beach would delay disembarkation."
There was some fuss about the Cornwallis. She ought to have been back from Morto Bay and lending a hand here, but she had not turned up. All sorts of surmises. Now we hear she has landed our right flank attack very dashingly and that we have stormed de Tott's Battery! I fear the South Wales Borderers are hardly strong enough alone to move across and threaten Sedd-el-Bahr from the North. But the news is fine. How I wish we had left "V" Beach severely alone. Big flanking attacks at "Y" and "S" might have converged on Sedd-el-Bahr and carried it from the rear when none of the garrison could have escaped. But then, until we tried, we were afraid fire from Asia might defeat the de Tott's Battery attack and that the "Y" party might not scale the cliffs. The Turks are stronger down here than at Gaba Tepe. Still, I should doubt if they are in any great force; quite clearly the bulk of them have been led astray by our feints, and false rumours. Otherwise, had they even a regiment in close reserve, they must have eaten up the S.W.B. as they stormed the Battery.
About noon, a Naval Officer (Lieutenant Smith), a fine fellow, came off to get some more small arm ammunition for the machine guns on the River Clyde. He said the state of things on and around that ship was "awful," a word which carried twentyfold weight owing to the fact that it was spoken by a youth never very emotional, I am sure, and now on his mettle to make his report with indifference and calm. The whole landing place at "V" Beach is ringed round with fire. The shots from our naval guns, smashing as their impact appears, might as well be confetti for all the effect they have upon the Turkish trenches. The River Clyde is commanded and swept not only by rifles at 100 yards' range, but by pom-poms and field guns. Her own double battery of machine guns mounted in a sandbag revetment in her bows are to some extent forcing the enemy to keep their heads down and preventing them from actually rushing the little party of our men who are crouching behind the sand bank. But these same men of ours cannot raise head or hand one inch beyond that lucky ledge of sand by the water's brink. And the bay at Sedd-el-Bahr, so the last messengers have told us, had turned red. The River Clyde so far saves the situation. She was only ready two days before we plunged.
At 1.30 heard that d'Amade had taken Kum Kale. De Robeck had already heard independently by wireless that the French (the 6th Colonials under Nogués) had carried the village by a bayonet charge at 9.35 a.m. On the Asiatic side, then, things are going as we had hoped. The Russian Askold and the Jeanne d'Arc are supporting our Allies in their attack. Being so hung up at "V," I have told d'Amade that he will not be able to disembark there as arranged, but that he will have to take his troops round to "W" and march them across.
At two o'clock a large number of our wounded who had taken refuge under the base of the arches of the old Fort at Sedd-el-Bahr began to signal for help. The Queen Elizabeth sent away a picket boat which passed through the bullet storm and most gallantly brought off the best part of them.
Soon after 2 o'clock we were cheered by sighting our own brave fellows making a push from the direction of "W." We reckon they must be Worcesters and Essex men moving up to support the Royal Fusiliers and the Lancashire Fusiliers, who have been struggling unaided against the bulk of the Turkish troops. The new lot came along by rushes from the Westwards, across from "X" to "W" towards Sedd-el-Bahr, and we prayed God very fervently they might be able to press on so as to strike the right rear of the enemy troops encircling "V" Beach. At 3.10 the leading heroes—we were amazed at their daring—actually stood up in order the better to cut through a broad belt of wire entanglement. One by one the men passed through and fought their way to within a few yards of a redoubt dominating the hill between Beaches "W" and "V." This belt of wire ran perpendicularly, not parallel, to the coastline and had evidently been fixed up precisely to prevent what we were now about to attempt. To watch V.C.s being won by wire cutting; to see the very figure and attitude of the hero; to be safe oneself except from the off chance of a shell,—was like being stretched upon the rack! All day we hung vis-à-vis this inferno. With so great loss and with so desperate a situation the white flag would have gone up in the South African War but there was no idea of it to-day and I don't feel afraid of it even now, in the dark of a moonless night, where evil thoughts are given most power over the mind.
Nor does Hunter-Weston. We had a hurried dinner, de Robeck, Keyes, Braithwaite, Godfrey, Hope and I, in the signal office under the bridge. As we were finishing Hunter-Weston came on board. After he had told us his story, breathlessly and listened to with breathless interest, I asked him what about our troops at "Y"? He thought they were now in touch with our troops at "X" but that they had been through some hard fighting to get there. His last message had been that they were being hard pressed but as he had heard nothing more since then he assumed they were all right—! Anyway, he was cheery, stout-hearted, quite a good tonic and—on the whole—his news is good.
To sum up the doings of the day; the French have dealt a brilliant stroke at Kum Kale; we have fixed a grip on the hills to the North of Gaba Tepe; also, we have broken through the enemy's defences at "X" and "W," two out of the three beaches at the South point of the Peninsula. The "hold-up" at the third, "V" (or Sedd-el-Bahr) causes me the keenest anxiety—it would never do if we were forced to re-embark at night as has been suggested—we must stick it until our advance from "X" and "W" opens that sally port from the sea. There is always in the background of my mind dread lest help should reach the enemy before we have done with Sedd-el-Bahr. The enveloping attacks on both enemy flanks have come off brilliantly, but have not cut the enemy's line of retreat, or so threatened it that they have to make haste to get back. At "S" (Eski Hissarlick or Morto Bay) the 2nd South Wales Borderers have landed in very dashing style though under fire from big fortress artillery as well as field guns and musketry. On shore they deployed and, helped by sailors from the Cornwallis, have carried the Turkish trenches in front of them at the bayonet's point. They are now dug in on a commanding spur but are anxious at finding themselves all alone and say they do not feel able, owing to their weakness, to manœuvre or to advance. From "Y," opposite Krithia, there is no further news. But two good battalions at large and on the war path some four or five miles in rear of the enemy should do something during the next few hours. I was right, so it seems, about getting ashore before the enemy could see to shoot out to sea. At Gaba Tepe; opposite Krithia and by Morto Bay we landed without too much loss. Where we waited to bombard, as at Helles and Sedd-el-Bahr, we have got it in the neck.
This "V" Beach business is the blot. Sedd-el-Bahr was supposed to be the softest landing of the lot, as it was the best harbour and seemed to lie specially at the mercy of the big guns of the Fleet. Would that we had left it severely alone and had landed a big force at Morto Bay whence we could have forced the Sedd-el-Bahr Turks to fall back.
One thing is sure. Whatever happens to us here we are bound to win glory. There are no other soldiers quite of the calibre of our chaps in the world; they have esprit de corps; they are volunteers every one of them; they are for it; our Officers—our rank and file—have been so entered to this attack that they will all die—that we will all die—sooner than give way before the Turk. The men are not fighting blindly as in South Africa: they are not fighting against forces with whose motives they half sympathise. They have been told, and told again, exactly what we are after. They understand. Their eyes are wide open: they know that the war can only be brought to an end by our joining hands quickly with the Russians: they know that the fate of the Empire depends on the courage they display. Should the Fates so decree, the whole brave Army may disappear during the night more dreadfully than that of Sennacherib; but assuredly they will not surrender: where so much is dark, where many are discouraged, in this knowledge I feel both light and joy.
Here I write—think—have my being. To-morrow night where shall we be? Well; what then; what of the worst? At least we shall have lived, acted, dared. We are half way through—we shall not look back.
As night began to settle down over the land, the Queen Elizabeth seemed to feel the time had come to give full vent to her wrath. An order from the bridge, and, in the twinkling of an eye, she shook from stem to stern with the recoil from her own efforts. The great ship was fighting all out, all in action. Every gun spouted flame and a roar went up fit to shiver the stars of Heaven. Ears stopped with wax; eyes half blinded by the scorching yellow blasts; still, in some chance seconds interval, we could hear the hive-like b rr rr rr rr rr r r r r of the small arms plying on the shore; still see, through some break in the acrid smoke, the profile of the castle and houses; nay, of the very earth itself and the rocky cliff; see them all, change, break, dissolve into dust; crumble as if by enchantment into strange new outlines, under the enormous explosions of our 15-in. lyddite shells. Buildings gutted: walls and trenches turned inside out and upside down: friend and foe surely must be wiped out together under such a fire: at least they are stupefied—must cease taking a hand with their puny rifles and machine guns? Not so. Amidst falling ruins; under smoke clouds of yellow, black, green and white; the beach, the cliffs and the ramparts of the Castle began, in the oncoming dusk, to sparkle all over with hundreds of tiny flecks of rifle fire.
Just before the shadows of night hid everything from sight, we could see that many of our men, who had been crouching all day under the sandy bank in the centre of the arena, were taking advantage of the pillars of smoke raised between them and their enemy to edge away to their right and scale the rampart leading to the Fort of Sedd-el-Bahr. Other small clusters lay still—they have made their last attack.
Now try to sleep. What of those men fighting for their lives in the darkness. I put them there. Might they not, all of them, be sailing back to safe England, but for me? And I sleep! To sleep whilst thousands are killing one another close by! Well, why not; I must sleep whilst I may. The legend whereby a Commander-in-Chief works wonders during a battle dies hard. He may still lose the battle in a moment by losing heart. He may still help to win the battle by putting a brave face upon the game when it seems to be up. By his character, he may still stop the rot and inspire his men to advance once more to the assault. The old Bible idea of the Commander:—when his hands grew heavy Amalek advanced; when he raised them and willed victory Israel prevailed over the heathen! As regards directions, modifications, orders, counter-orders,—in precise proportion as his preparations and operation orders have been thoroughly conceived and carried out, so will the actual conflict find him leaving the actual handling of the troops to Hunter-Weston as I am bound to do. Old Oyama cooled his brain during the battle of the Shaho by shooting pigeons sitting on Chinese chimneys. King Richard before Bosworth saw ghosts. My own dark hours pass more easily as I make my cryptic jottings in pedlar's French. The detachment of the writer comes over me; calms down the tumult of the mind and paves a path towards the refuge of sleep. No order is to be issued until I get reports and requests. I can't think now of anything left undone that I ought to have done; I have no more troops to lay my hands on—Hunter-Weston has more than he can land to-night; I won't mend matters much by prowling up and down the gangways. Braithwaite calls me if he must. No word yet about the losses except that they have been heavy. If the Turks get hold of a lot of fresh men and throw them upon us during the night,—perhaps they may knock us off into the sea. No General knows his luck. That's the beauty of the business. But I feel sanguine in the spirit of the men; sanguine in my own spirit; sanguine in the soundness of my scheme. What with the landing at Gaba Tepe and at Kum Kale, and the feints at Bulair and Besika Bay, the Turkish troops here will get no help to-night. And our fellows are steadily pouring ashore.
26th April, 1915.
H.M.S. "Queen Elizabeth." At 12.5 a.m. I was dragged out of a dead sleep by Braithwaite who kept shaking me by the shoulder and saying, "Sir Ian! Sir Ian!!" I had been having a good time for an hour far away somewhere, far from bloody turmoil, and before I quite knew where I was, my Chief of Staff repeated what he had, I think, said several times already, "Sir Ian, you've got to come right along—a question of life and death—you must settle it!" Braithwaite is a cool hand, but his tone made me wide awake in a second. I sprang from bed; flung on my "British Warm" and crossed to the Admiral's cabin—not his own cabin but the dining saloon—where I found de Robeck himself, Rear-Admiral Thursby (in charge of the landing of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), Roger Keyes, Braithwaite, Brigadier-General Carruthers (Deputy Adjutant and Quartermaster-General of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) and Brigadier-General Cunliffe Owen (Commanding Royal Artillery of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). A cold hand clutched my heart as I scanned their faces. Carruthers gave me a message from Birdwood written in Godley's writing. I read it aloud:—
"Both my Divisional Generals and Brigadiers have represented to me that they fear their men are thoroughly demoralised by shrapnel fire to which they have been subjected all day after exhaustion and gallant work in morning. Numbers have dribbled back from firing line and cannot be collected in this difficult country. Even New Zealand Brigade which has been only recently engaged lost heavily and is to some extent demoralised. If troops are subjected to shell fire again to-morrow morning there is likely to be a fiasco as I have no fresh troops with which to replace those in firing line. I know my representation is most serious but if we are to re-embark it must be at once.
The faces round that table took on a look—when I close my eyes there they sit,—a look like nothing on earth unless it be the guests when their host flings salt upon the burning raisins. To gain time I asked one or two questions about the tactical position on shore, but Carruthers and Cunliffe Owen seemed unable to add any detail to Birdwood's general statement.
I turned to Thursby and said, "Admiral, what do you think?" He said, "It will take the best part of three days to get that crowd off the beaches." "And where are the Turks?" I asked. "On the top of 'em!" "Well, then," I persisted, "tell me, Admiral, what do you think?" "What do I think: well, I think myself they will stick it out if only it is put to them that they must." Without another word, all keeping silence, I wrote Birdwood as follows:—
"Your news is indeed serious. But there is nothing for it but to dig yourselves right in and stick it out. It would take at least two days to re-embark you as Admiral Thursby will explain to you. Meanwhile, the Australian submarine has got up through the Narrows and has torpedoed a gunboat at Chunuk. Hunter-Weston despite his heavy losses will be advancing to-morrow which should divert pressure from you. Make a personal appeal to your men and Godley's to make a supreme effort to hold their ground.
(Sd.) "Ian Hamilton."
"P.S. You have got through the difficult business, now you have only to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe. Ian H."
The men from Gaba Tepe made off with this letter; not the men who came down here at all, but new men carrying a clear order. Be the upshot what it may, I shall never repent that order. Better to die like heroes on the enemy's ground than be butchered like sheep on the beaches like the runaway Persians at Marathon.
De Robeck and Keyes were aghast; they pat me on the back; I hope they will go on doing so if things go horribly wrong. Midnight decisions take it out of one. Turned in and slept for three solid hours like a top till I was set spinning once more at 4 a.m.
At dawn we were off Gaba Tepe. Thank God the idea of retreat had already made itself scarce. The old Queen let fly her first shot at 5.30 a.m. Her shrapnel is a knockout. The explosion of the monstrous shell darkens the rising sun; the bullets cover an acre; the enemy seems stunned for a while after each discharge. One after the other she took on the Turkish guns along Sari Bair and swept the skyline with them.
A message of relief and thankfulness came out to us from the shore. Seeing how much they loved us—or rather our Long Toms—we hung around until about half-past eight smothering the enemy's guns whenever they dared show their snouts. By that hour our troops had regained their grip of themselves and also of the enemy, and the firing of the Turks was growing feeble. An organised counter-attack on the grand scale at dawn was the one thing I dreaded, and that has not come off; only a bit of a push over the downland by Gaba Tepe which was steadied by one of our enormous shrapnel. About this time we heard from Hunter-Weston that there was no material change in the situation at Helles and Sedd-el-Bahr. I wirelessed, therefore, to d'Amade telling him he would not be able to land his men at "V" under Sedd-el-Bahr as arranged but that he should bring all the rest of the French troops up from Tenedos and disembark them at "W" by Cape Helles. About this time, also, i.e., somewhere about 9 a.m., we picked up a wireless from the O.C. "Y" Beach which caused us some uneasiness. "We are holding the ridge," it said, "till the wounded are embarked." Why "till"? So I told the Admiral that as Birdwood seemed fairly comfortable, I thought we ought to lose no time getting back to Sedd-el-Bahr, taking "Y" Beach on our way. At once we steamed South and hove to off "Y" Beach at 9.30 a.m. There the Sapphire, Dublin and Goliath were lying close inshore and we could see a trickle of our men coming down the steep cliff and parties being ferried off to the Goliath: the wounded no doubt, but we did not see a single soul going up the cliff whereas there were many loose groups hanging about on the beach. I disliked and mistrusted the looks of these aimless dawdlers by the sea. There was no fighting; a rifle shot now and then from the crests where we saw our fellows clearly. The little crowd and the boats on the beach were right under them and no one paid any attention or seemed to be in a hurry. Our naval and military signallers were at sixes and sevens. The Goliath wouldn't answer; the Dublin said the force was coming off, and we could not get into touch with the soldiers at all. At about a quarter to ten the Sapphire asked us to fire over the cliffs into the country some hundreds of yards further in, and so the Queen E. gave Krithia and the South of it a taste of her metal. Not much use as the high crests hid the intervening hinterland from view, even from the crow's nests. A couple of shrapnel were also fired at the crestline of the cliff about half a mile further North where there appeared to be some snipers. But the trickling down the cliffs continued. No one liked the look of things ashore. Our chaps can hardly be making off in this deliberate way without orders; and yet, if they are making off "by order," Hunter-Weston ought to have consulted me first as Birdwood consulted me in the case of the Australians and New Zealanders last night. My inclination was to take a hand myself in this affair but the Staff are clear against interference when I have no knowledge of the facts—and I suppose they are right. To see a part of my scheme, from which I had hoped so much, go wrong before my eyes is maddening! I imagined it: I pressed it through: a second Battalion was added to it and then the South Wales Borderers' Company. Many sailors and soldiers, good men, had doubts as to whether the boats could get in, or whether, having done so, men armed and accoutred would be able to scale the yellow cliffs; or whether, having by some miracle climbed, they would not be knocked off into the sea with bayonets as they got to the top. I admitted every one of these possibilities but said, every time, that taken together, they destroyed one another. If the venture seemed so desperate even to ourselves, who are desperadoes, then the enemy Chief would be of the same opinion only more so; so that, supposing we did get up, at least we would not find resistance organised against us. Whether this was agreed to, or not, I cannot say. The logic of a C.-in-C. has a convincing way of its own. But in all our discussions one thing was taken for granted—no one doubted that once our troops had got ashore, scaled the heights and dug themselves in, they would be able to hold on: no one doubted that, with the British Fleet at their backs, they would at least maintain their bridge-head into the enemy's vitals until we could decide what to do with it.
At a quarter past ten we steamed, with anxious minds, for Cape Helles, and on the way there, Braithwaite and I finished off our first cable to K.—
"Thanks to God who calmed the seas and to the Royal Navy who rowed our fellows ashore as coolly as if at a regatta; thanks also to the dauntless spirit shown by all ranks of both Services, we have landed 29,000 upon six beaches in the face of desperate resistance from strong Turkish Infantry forces well backed by Artillery. Enemy are entrenched, line upon line, behind wire entanglements spread to catch us wherever we might try to concentrate for an advance. Worst danger zone, the open sea, now traversed, but on land not yet out of the wood. Our main covering detachment held up on water's edge, at foot of amphitheatre of low cliffs round the little bay West of Sedd-el-Bahr. At sunset last night a dashing attack was made by the 29th Division South-west along the heights from Tekke Burnu to set free the Dublins, Munsters and Hants, but at the hour of writing they are still pinned down to the beach.
"The Australians have done wonderfully at Gaba Tepe. They got 8,000 ashore to one beach between 3.30 a.m. and 8.30 a.m.: due to their courage; organisation; sea discipline and steady course of boat practice. Navy report not one word spoken or movement made by any of these thousands of untried troops either during the transit over the water in the darkness or nearing the land when the bullets took their toll. But, as the keel of the boats touched bottom, each boat-load dashed into the water and then into the enemy's fire. At first it seemed that nothing could stop them, but by degrees wire, scrub and cliffs; thirst, sheer exhaustion broke the back of their impetus. Then the enemy's howitzers and field guns had it all their own way, forcing attack to yield a lot of ground. Things looked anxious for a bit, but by this morning's dawn all are dug in, cool, confident.
"But for the number and good shooting of Turkish field guns and howitzers, Birdwood would surely have carried the whole main ridge of Sari Bair. As it is, his troops are holding a long curve upon the crests of the lower ridges, identical, to a hundred yards, with the line planned by my General Staff in their instructions and pencilled by them upon the map.
"The French have stormed Kum Kale and are attacking Yeni Shahr. Although you excluded Asia from my operations, have been forced by tactical needs to ask d'Amade to do this and so relieve us from Artillery fire from the Asiatic shore.
"Deeply regret to report the death of Brigadier-General Napier and to say that our losses, though not yet estimated, are sure to be very heavy.
"If only this night passes without misadventures, I propose to attack Achi Baba to-morrow with whatever Hunter-Weston can scrape together of the 29th Division. Such an attack should force the enemy to relax their grip on Sedd-el-Bahr. I can look now to the Australians to keep any enemy reinforcements from crossing the waist of the Peninsula."
Relief about Gaba Tepe is almost swallowed up by the "Y" Beach fiasco—as we must, I suppose, take it to be. No word yet from Hunter-Weston.
At Helles things are much the same as last night; only, the South Wales Borderers are now well dug in on a spur above Morto Bay and are confident.
At 1.45 d'Amade came aboard in a torpedo boat to see me. He has been ashore at Kum Kale and reports violent fighting and, for the time being, victory. A very dashing landing, the village stormed; house to house struggles; failure to carry the cemetery; last evening defensive measures, loopholed walls, barbed wire fastened to corpses; at night savage counter attacks led by Germans; their repulse; a wall some hundred yards long and several feet high of Turkish corpses; our own losses also very heavy and some good Officers among them. All this partly from d'Amade to me; partly his Staff to my Staff. Nogués and his brave lads have done their bit indeed for the glory of the Army of France. Meanwhile, d'Amade is anxious to get his men off soon: he cannot well stay where he is unless he carries the village of Yeni Shahr. Yeni Shahr is perched on the height a mile to the South of him, but it has been reinforced from the Besika Bay direction and to take it would be a major operation needing a disembarkation of at least the whole of his Division. He is keen to clear out: I agreed, and at 12.5 he went to make his preparations.
Ten minutes later, when we were on our way back to Gaba Tepe, the Admiral and Braithwaite both tackled me, and urged that the French should be ordered to hold on for another twenty-four hours—even if for no longer. Had they only raised their point before d'Amade left the Queen Elizabeth! As it is, to change my mind and my orders would upset the French very much and—on the whole—I do not think we have enough to go upon to warrant me in doing so. The Admiral has always been keen on Kum Kale and I quite understand that Naval aspect of the case. But it is all I can do, as far as things have gone, to hang on by my eyelids to the Peninsula, and let alone K.'s strong, clear order, I can hardly consent, as a soldier, to entangle myself further in Asia, before I have made good Achi Baba. We dare not lose another moment in getting a firm footing on the Peninsula and that was why I had signalled d'Amade from Gaba Tepe to bring up all the rest of his troops from Tenedos and to disembark them at "W" (seeing we were still held up at "V") and why I cannot now perceive any other issue. We are not strong enough to attack on both sides of the Straits. Given one more Division we might try: as things are, my troops won't cover the mileage. On a small scale map, in an office, you may make mole-hills of mountains; on the ground there's no escaping from its features.
As soon as the French Commander took his leave, we steamed back for Gaba Tepe, passing Cape Helles at 12.20 p.m. Weather now much brighter and warmer. Passing "Y" Beach the re-embarkation of troops was still going on. All quiet, the Goliath says: the enemy was so roughly handled in an attack they made last night that they do not trouble our withdrawal—too pleased to see us go, it seems! So this part of our plan has gone clean off the rails. Keyes, Braithwaite, Aspinall, Dawnay, Godfrey are sick—but their disappointment is nothing to mine. De Robeck agrees that we don't know enough yet to warrant us in fault-finding or intervention. My orders ought to have been taken before a single unwounded Officer or man was ferried back aboard ship. Never, since modern battles were invented by the Devil, has a Commander-in-Chief been so accessible to a message or an appeal from any part of the force. Each theatre has its outfit of signallers, wireless, etc., and I can either answer within five minutes, or send help, or rush myself upon the scene at 25 miles an hour with the Q.E.'s fifteen inchers in my pocket. Here there is no question of emergency, or enemy pressure, or of haste; so much we see plain enough with our own eyes.
Whilst having a hurried meal, Jack Churchill rushed down from the crow's nest to say that he thought we had carried the Fort above Sedd-el-Bahr. He had seen through a powerful naval glass some figures standing erect and silhouetted against the sky on the parapet. Only, he argued, British soldiers would stand against the skyline during a general action. That is so, and we were encouraged to be hopeful.
On to Gaba Tepe just in time to see the opening, the climax and the end of the dreaded Turkish counter attack. The Turks have been fighting us off and on all the time, but this is—or rather I can happily now say "was"—an organised effort to burst in through our centre. Whether burglars or battles are in question, give me sunshine. What had been a terror when Braithwaite woke me out of my sleep at midnight to meet the Gaba Tepe deputation was but a heightened, tightened sensation thirteen hours later.
No doubt the panorama was alarming, but we all of us somehow—we on the Q.E.—felt sure that Australia and New Zealand had pulled themselves together and were going to give Enver and his Army a very disagreeable surprise.
The contrast of the actual with the might-have-been is the secret of our confidence. Imagine, had these brave lads entrusted to us by the Commonwealth and Dominion now been crowding on the beaches—crowding into their boats—whilst some desperate rearguard was trying to hold off the onrush of the triumphant Turks. Never would any of us have got over so shocking a disaster; now they are about to win their spurs (D.V.).
Here come the Turks! First a shower of shells dropping all along the lower ridges and out over the surface of the Bay. Very pretty the shells—at half a mile! Prince of Wales's feathers springing suddenly out of the blue to a loud hammer stroke; high explosives: or else the shrapnel; pure white, twisting a moment and pirouetting as children in their nightgowns pirouette, then gliding off the field two or three together, an aerial ladies' chain. Next our projectiles, Thursby's from the Queen, Triumph, Majestic, Bacchante, London, and Prince of Wales; over the sea they flew; over the heads of our fighters; covered the higher hillsides and skyline with smudges of black, yellow and green. Smoky fellows these—with a fiery spark at their core, and wherever they touch the earth, rocks leap upwards in columns of dust to the sky. Under so many savage blows, the labouring mountains brought forth Turks. Here and there advancing lines; dots moving over green patches; dots following one another across a broad red scar on the flank of Sari Bair: others following—and yet others—and others—and others, closing in, disappearing, reappearing in close waves converging on the central and highest part of our position. The tic tac of the machine guns and the rattle of the rifles accompanied the roar of the big guns as hail, pouring down on a greenhouse, plays fast and loose amidst the peals of God's artillery: we have got some guns right up the precipitous cliff: the noise doubled; redoubled; quadrupled, expanded into one immense tiger-like growl—a solid mass of the enemy showed itself crossing the green patch—and then the good Queen Lizzie picked up her targets—crash!!! Stop your ears with wax.
The fire slackened. The attack had ebbed away; our fellows were holding their ground. A few, very few, little dots had run back over that green patch—the others had passed down into the world of darkness.
A signaller was flag-wagging from a peak about the left centre of our line:—"The boys will never forget the Queen Elizabeth's help" was what he said.
Jack Churchill was right. At 1.50 a wireless came in to say that the Irish and Hants from the River Clyde had forced their way through Sedd-el-Bahr village and had driven the enemy clean out of all his trenches and castles. Ah, well; that load is off our minds: every one smiling.
Passed on the news to Birdwood: I doubt the Turks coming on again—but, in case, the 29th Division's feat of arms will be a tonic.
I was wrong. At 3 p.m. the enemy made another effort, this time on the left of our line. We shook them badly and were rewarded by seeing a New Zealand charge. Two Battalions racing due North along the coast and foothills with levelled bayonets. Then again the tumult died away.
At 4.30 we left Gaba Tepe and sailed for Helles. At 4.50 we were opposite Krithia passing "Y" Beach. The whole of the troops, plus wounded, plus gear, have vanished. Only the petrol tins they took for water right and left of their pathway up the cliff; huge diamonds in the evening sun. The enemy let us slip off without shot fired. The last boat-load got aboard the Goliath at 4 p.m., but they had forgotten some of their kit, so the Bluejackets rowed ashore as they might to Southsea pier and brought it off for them—and again no shot fired!
Hove to off Cape Helles at quarter past five. Joyous confirmation of Sedd-el-Bahr capture and our lines run straight across from "X" to Morto Bay, but a very sad postscript now to that message: Doughty Wylie has been killed leading the sally from the beach.
The death of a hero strips victory of her wings. Alas, for Doughty Wylie! Alas, for that faithful disciple of Charles Gordon; protector of the poor and of the helpless; noblest of those knights ever ready to lay down their lives to uphold the fair fame of England. Braver soldier never drew sword. He had no hatred of the enemy. His spirit did not need that ugly stimulant. Tenderness and pity filled his heart and yet he had the overflowing enthusiasm and contempt of death which alone can give troops the volition to attack when they have been crouching so long under a pitiless fire. Doughty Wylie was no flash-in-the-pan V.C. winner. He was a steadfast hero. Years ago, at Aleppo, the mingled chivalry and daring with which he placed his own body as a shield between the Turkish soldiery and their victims during a time of massacre made him admired even by the Moslems. Now; as he would have wished to die, so has he died.
For myself, in the secret mind that lies beneath the conscious, I think I had given up hope that the covering detachment at "V" would work out their own salvation. My thought was to keep pushing in troops from "W" Beach until the enemy had fallen back to save themselves from being cut off. The Hampshires, Dublins and Munsters have turned their own tight corner, but I hope these fine Regiments will never forget what they owe to one Doughty Wylie, the Mr. Greatheart of our war.
The Admiral and Braithwaite have been at me again to urge that the French should hang on another day at Kum Kale. They point out that the crisis seems over for the time being both at Helles and Gaba Tepe and argue that this puts a different aspect on the whole question. That is so, and on the whole, I think "yes" and have asked d'Amade to comply.
At 6.20 p.m. started back intending to see all snug at Gaba Tepe, but, picking up some Turkish guns as targets in Krithia and on the slopes of Achi Baba, we hove to off Cape Tekke and opened fire. We soon silenced these guns, though others, unseen, kept popping. At 6.50 we ceased fire. At 7, Admiral Guépratte came on board and tells us splendid news about Kum Kale. At 2 o'clock the artillery fire from shore and ships became too hot for the Turks entrenched in the cemetery and they put up the white flag and came in as prisoners, 500 of them. A hundred more had been taken during the night fighting, but there was treachery and some of those were killed. Kum Kale has been a brilliant bit of work, though I fear we have lost nearly a quarter of our effectives. Guépratte agrees we would do well to hold on for another 24 hours. At a quarter past seven he took his leave and we let drop our anchor where we were, off Cape Tekke.
So now we stand on Turkish terra firma. The price has been paid for the first step and that is the step that counts. Blood, sweat, fire; with these we have forged our master key and forced it into the lock of the Hellespont, rusty and dusty with centuries of disuse. Grant us, O Lord, tenacity to turn it; determination to turn it, till through that open door Queen Elizabeth of England sails East for the Golden Horn! When in far off ages men discuss over vintages ripened in Mars the black superstitions and bloody mindedness of the Georgian savages, still they will have to drain a glass to the memory of the soldiers and sailormen who fought here.
Marshal Liman Von Sanders
Lieut.-Gen. Sir A. G. Hunter-Weston, K.C.B., D.S.O
S.S. "River Clyde"
View Of "V" Beach, Taken From S.S. "River Clyde"
Men Bathing At Helles
Fish From The Enemy