So, this is R.Cespedes reporting live for History News from the center of the Gallipoli battle, here at the Suvla Bay landing beaches. We hear reports about things going quite badly: the landing spots missed in several cases, as it has been usual along the last months. But, at least, reports from the front say that opposition seems to be weak and some gains could be easily made. Back to the studio now.
Thanks, R. Now we are switching to the Sari Bair area, where a diversion attack has been on its way for some days now. R. is reporting…
Yes, hello, R. I’m now alone, amidst what once was the lines of the ANZAC Corps but right now is, frankly, a complete mess. No one seems to be really sure of what is going on here or further South at Cape Helles, where another diversion has taken place. Allegedly, the attempt to take the ANZAC out of the cove has gone terribly bad, not because of any lack of courage or combativeness, but because of poor intelligence and serious lack of leadership. We have been told by some privates that it has been a Tennyson’s poem all over again. A Light Cavalry Brigade was sent against a well entrenched enemy at Russell Heights, north of the Lone Pine (06/08/1915) position which has been hotly disputed these last days. From earlier reports, we reckon that the amount of casualties is soaring, at about a 75% rate. We have been trying to interview one of the survivors, but they are so few and went so badly mauled that, up to this minute, it has proven to be an impossible task. Tales of great endurance and courage by the troopers and soldiers have reached our ears, some Victoria Crosses already on their way, one may assume. Seven, in fact, if our informants are right and the rumours spreading through the ranks to be confirmed.
Now everything is dust and flies in the scorching heat of August here at Sari Bair. And the ANZAC is still bottled and going nowhere despite all efforts.
Thank you R. We are going back to the main attack site at Suvla Bay, with an update on the situation. What is going on in there, R? Is the attack finally going forward?
Well, I’m afraid it is not, R. For some reason, neither Gen. Hamilton, commander-in-chief, nor Gen. Stopford, at command here at Suvla Bay, are near the action. We have been told, confidentially, by some officers and privates that no one, even Hamilton, thought Stopford was fit for the job, having seen very little action, if any. But he was Kitchener’s choice…We’ve also been told that some units have reached out of the beach-head finding a strong opposition but from what has been considered “small enemy units”. There have been voices claiming for an immediate onslaught but, at this time, nothing has been ordered yet in that sense.
Excuse me, R. How is the morale there at the beaches, right now?
Well…It is hard to say. The willingness to attack is out of any question here but, as the orders to proceed do not arrive, morale is going quite low at the moment. Rumour and hearsay is widespread, and it has it that Gen. Stopford is on board a ship with a sprained ankle or something of the kind, which in turn is heading to rude comments and disbelief among the rank and file. We will have to wait and see what is next.
And now, back in the studio, we have with us Mr. Selim R., senior Middle East analyst in a well-known think tank. Selim, what do you think we can expect from the Turks?
Well, R, I think they must be very worried right now. Even if they have stopped the assault on Sari Bair and Suvla seems to be under control right now, Gen. Von Sanders must know that reinforcements will take perhaps too much time to get there, help putting the invasion back to sea. That must be his bigger concern at this moment. But, you know, Von Sanders is always struggling against the Government. Enver Pasha considers himself a military genius of sorts, and his selections for commanding positions are not always to Sanders liking, to say the least. I believe the German is willing to go at it fast and strong, and he will probably consider to put Mustafa Kemal in command if he feels any hesitation among the senior officers. Kemal has been tough and resolute. And Von Sanders needs that desperately right now.
Thank you, Selim. This just in (09/08/1915): new developments in the Suvla Bay area. General Hamilton himself has finally landed and he is now ordering an advance along the whole front. Would be late, R?
Hello again, R. It has been somewhat quite strange; a full army waiting to dislodge what appeared to be not a particularly strong enemy force. And after some phony days, when the order finally arrives it seems, the devil know how, that Von Sanders has managed to gather more and more units, send them here and launch them into the fight viciously. I don’t want to play the pessimist here, but I think we are heading straight into another stalemate…and troops may well be tired of this. I surely am.
All right, R. I see this fight is getting into you. Back in the studio…do you think Von Sanders got his reinforcements just in the nick of time, Selim?
Yes, for sure. And I have just received a text message from Istanbul. It seems that Feizy Bey, Enver’s protegée, has refused to attack and an enraged Sanders has dismissed him right on the spot, promoting at the same time Colonel Kemal to Commander General. R, if Kemal is in command here, this will become much tougher. We saw that already in the early stages of the battle, months ago.
Now, R. de R., our Home Front analyst. Do you think Hamilton will counteract this? Nobody seems to feel much respect for Stopford…
Hummm. R, you may be right. But he is Kitchener’s choice, after all. And Hamilton himself is not famous for his decisiveness either. So I think, now that Stopford has his orders, injured leg or not, he will have to attack…and we will have to wait and see… see how the offensive goes, see how the lads behave, see what the Turks are made of. Let’s give them all a little time.
All right. This is R., reporting live from Suvla Bay. 18000 casualties so far had just been confirmed by the Army when, suddenly, Gen. Stopford has called for a stop and issued orders for the entrenchment of the men. Scenes of tremendous disappointment and outrage have crossed the Allied lines. Rumour has it that a strong counter-action from the Turks is feared any moment now. Yet, a Headquarters font has made open to us that new operations are expected “sooner or later”.
You’re now watching History News, and I’m R.R. We are now connecting by secure telephone line with R. Cespedes right in the middle of the fight in Suvla Bay. R., it seems something big is going on in there, isn’t it?
Well, yes, it is. After two more weeks of mistakes, lack of leadership, casualties mounting, poor intelligence and poorer territorial gains, General Hamilton has made up his mind and, we’ve been told, politely asked Kitchener’s permission to get rid of Stopford. Allegedly, permission has been granted despite the fact that, in the last days, the beach-heads at Anzac Cove and Suvla Bay have finally been united. Bad weather conditions, fog and storms, have come to make the soldiers’ lives a little more miserable. And another kind of mist has seemingly descended on British officers’ wits, so to speak. At least two senior officers, Gen. Hammerley and Mahon, are reportedly refused to serve under newly confirmed Commander in the area, Gen. de Lisle, on the grounds of seniority issues.
Anyway, 29/08/1915 Hill 60 has been taken and the union of both beach-heads is now certain, and that’s the good news. Pity, though, that the Allied troops are still surrounded by the Turks that have made such a statement of not giving any ground apart from the beaches. It seems to me, after all these months and with such little gains, that this action should be more than over. But we are still here, with Kemal and his tough guys up there on the ridges, and the sea at our backs. It is probably about time to put this to an end…
History News reporting. This just in: as a result of Bulgaria entering the war on the Central Powers side and overwhelming assault on Serbia, troops would be diverted from the Gallipoli area and sent further up the Balkans to provide relief and support for the Serbian Army. Whether this means the effort against the Turks is to be abandoned soon, or not, is still undisclosed. Yet, pressure is mounting on, as some prestigious press colleagues such as K. Murdoch and E.Ashmead-Bartlett are strongly reporting against Australia’s Prime Minister and, generally speaking, the course of action during these long, disappointing months. A conclusion must be reached to this action. And it better be soon, or the political implications could be devastating.
11/10/1915-History News reporting. This just in: after a month lull, word has spread that Lord Kitchener has asked the Staff senior officers to provide intelligence and assessment for an evacuation of the Gallipoli area. Officials from the Government and the Army have shared with us no comments on this particular issue.
15/11/1915-History News reporting. This just in: Winston Churchill has just resigned as First Lord of the Admiralty. The Gallipoli failure has been too big a pill to swallow for the young and ambitious politician, who is now marked as responsible for the ill-planned operations and the appalling loss of lives. His political career from now on is, at least, compromised.
History News reporting. This just in: evacuation from the Gallipoli area expected for Christmas. Long awaited, we just hope it will be better planned and executed than the attack. At least, after all the suffering, get the spirit of the season and give some comfort to those brave soldiers stranded there, those “cavers”, as they are now famously called, that risked their lives and, in too many a case, lost them, for what has been from the very beginning one of the worst conducted campaigns in military History. Following Kipling…”Lest we forget, lest we forget”.