Gallipoli maps

This month our Communications Co-ordinator, Fiona Hall, has chosen two sketch maps which were part of an Officer’s notebook during the Gallipoli campaign of 1915.

“When we think of the carnage of Gallipoli, it’s hard to believe that anything as fragile as these tissue-like pages have survived and are still clearly legible.

So many of the objects in the collection and on display in the museum give a hint of the human experience at a strikingly distinct moment of time, and these hand drawn plans, complete with contour lines are great examples.  I can imagine this officer attending a briefing meeting, being told the plan and studying a map, believing that the accuracy with which he noted down the terrain would be absolutley vital.”

1505_oom_sketch mapsAlthough the Gallipoli campaign had starting in April, Green Howards soldiers did not enter the action until the summer of 1915.

On the evening of the 6th August the battalion  landed under heavy fire and in pitch darkness, but they were successful in taking Lala Baba.

Further success would only be possible if the attack moved quickly across the Suvla plain and onto high ground, but the disorderly landings and the high numbers of casualties made a speedy advance impossible to achieve.

Elsewhere, the breakout from Anzac Cove had stalled and the battle plan was unravelling.

In a final attempt to break out of Suvla Bay and join up with the Australians a fresh attack was made on the Turkish positions on the 21st August.

The 6th Battalion’s objective was a 300 foot high hill called Ismail Oglu Tepe. About 100 Green Howards managed to reach the first Turkish line but they received no reinforcements or orders so withdrew the next morning.

Large scale battles of the First World War required battalions to hold direction and position carefully by navigating on a compass bearing.  In the attack on Ismail Oglu Tepe the battalion had just one compass and the navigating officer was wounded early in the battle.

Unsurprisingly the failure of the attack was partly attributed to loss of direction.

In October the British Government concluded that Constantinople could not be captured and an evacuation is needed.  The last officers and men of the 6th Battalion left their trenches at 5.30am on the 20th December.  Of the 25 officers who landed on the 6th August only Quartermaster Lieutenant Benjamin Williams survived.