SIR IAN HAMILTON, G.C.B.
AUTHOR OF "A STAFF OFFICER'S SCRAP-BOOK," ETC.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS AND MAPS
IN TWO VOLUMES VOL. II
NEW YORK GEORGE H. DORAN COMPANY 1920
PRINTED BY UNWIN BROTHERS, LTD.—WOKING—ENGLAND
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XIII. K.'S ADVICE AND THE P.M.'S ENVOY 1
XIV. THE FORCE—REAL AND IMAGINARY 25
XV. SARI BAIR AND SUVLA 52
XVI. KAVAK TEPE ATTACK COLLAPSES 86
XVII. THE LAST BATTLE 120
XVIII. MISUNDERSTANDINGS 144
XIX. THE FRENCH PLAN 163
XX. LOOS AND SALONIKA 196
XXI. THE BEGINNING OF THE END 234
APPENDIX I. STATEMENT ON ARTILLERY BY BRIGADIER-GENERAL SIR H. S. BAIKIE 279
APPENDIX II. NOTES BY LIEUT.-COL. C. ROSENTHAL RELATING TO ARTILLERY AT ANZAC 292
APPENDIX III. SIR IAN HAMILTON'S INSTRUCTIONS RELATING TO THE SUVLA OPERATIONS 298
APPENDIX IV. INSTRUCTIONS TO MAJOR-GEN. H. DE LISLE 335
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
BRAITHWAITE, SIR IAN, AND FREDDIE MAITLAND Frontispiece
MAJOR-GEN. SIR G. F. ELLISON, K.C.M.G. 6
LIEUT.-GEN. SIR A. G. HUNTER-WESTON, K.C.B., D.S.O 22
SUVLA FROM CHUNUK BAIR 54
GENERAL SIR W. R. BIRDWOOD, BART., G.C.M.G., K.C.B. 80
LIEUT.-GEN. SIR A. J. GODLEY, K.C.B., K.C.M.G. 84
GENERAL BAILLOUD 146
FISH FROM THE ENEMY 170
MARSHAL LIMAN VON SANDERS 182
CREMATING THE ENEMY DEAD 256
SUVLA AND ANZAC At end of Volume
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- Transcriber's Note: Some tables were too wide to place as in the original. They have been split, with the right hand side positioned directly below the left hand side. -
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K.'S ADVICE AND THE P.M.'S ENVOY
11th July, 1915. Worked in my office from early morning till 12.45. The whole scheme for to-morrow's attack is cut and dried, according to our cloth: time tables fixed and every round counted.
Freddy Stopford and his Staff turned up from Mudros. Stopford in very good form. The first thing he did was to deliver himself of a personal message from Lord K. He (Stopford) wrote it down, in the ante-room, the moment he left the presence and I may take it as being as good as verbatim. Here it is:—
"Lord Kitchener told me to tell you he had no wish to interfere with the man on the spot, but from closely watching our actions here, as well as those of General French in Flanders, he is certain that the only way to make a real success of an attack is by surprise. Also, that when the surprise ceases to be operative, in so far that the advance is checked and the enemy begin to collect from all sides to oppose the attackers, then, perseverance becomes merely a useless waste of life. In every attack there seems to be a moment when success is in the assailant's grasp. Both the French and ourselves at Arras and Neuve Chapelle lost the opportunity."
Well said! K. has made Stopford bring me in his pocket the very text for what I wanted to say to him. Only my grumbling thoughts find expression by my pen but I have plenty of others and my heart has its warm corner for K. whenever he cares to come in.
As I told Stopford, K. has not only anticipated my advice but has dived right down into this muddle of twentieth century war and finds lying at the bottom of it only the old original idea of war in the year 1. At our first landing the way was open to us for just so long as the surprise to the Turks lasted. That period here, at the Dardanelles, might be taken as being perhaps twice as long as it would be on the Western front which gave us a great pull. The reason was that land communications were bad and our troops on the sea could move thrice as fast as the Turks on their one or two bad roads. Yet, even so, there was no margin for dawdling. Hunter-Weston and d'Amade had tried their best to use their brief surprise breathing space in seizing the Key to the opening of the Narrows—Achi Baba, and had failed through lack of small craft, lack of water, lack of means of bringing up supplies, lack of our 10 per cent. reserves to fill casualties. At that crucial moment when we had beaten the local enemy troops and the enemy reinforcements had not yet come up, we could not get the men or the stuff quick enough to shore. Still, we had gained three or four miles and there were spots on the Peninsula where, to-day, three or four miles would be enough. Also, supposing he had to run a landing, his (Stopford's) action would take place under much easier conditions than Hunter-Weston's on April 25th.
First and foremost, in our "beetles" or barges, conveying 500 men under their own engines, we had an instrument which reduced the physical effort three quarters. This meant half the battle. When we made our original landing at Anzac we could only put 1,500 men ashore, per trip, at a speed of 2-1/2 miles per hour, in open cutters. Were a Commander to repeat that landing now, he would be able to run 5,000 men ashore, per trip, at a speed of five miles per hour with no trouble about oars, tows, etc., and with protection against shrapnel and rifle bullets. As to the actual landing on the beach, that could be done—we had proved it—in less than one quarter of the time. Each beetle had a "brow" fixed on to her bows; a thing to be let down like a drawbridge over which the men could pour ashore by fours; the same with mules, guns, supplies, they could all be rushed on land as fast as they could be handled on the beaches. Secondly, we had already been for some time at work to fix up the wherewithal to meet our chronic nightmare, the water trouble. Thirdly, the system of bringing up food and ammunition from the beaches to the firing line had now been practically worked out into a science at Helles and Anzac where Stopford would be given a chance of studying it at first hand.
As to place, date, command, and distribution of forces, these were still being considered; still undetermined; and I could say no more at present. Braithwaite was away at Helles but, if he would go over to the General Staff, he would find Aspinall, my G.S. (1), and the Q. Staff who would give him the hang of our methods and post him in matters which would be applicable to any date or place.
There was more in this message as taken down by Stopford. After going into some details of trench warfare, K.'s message went on:—
* * * * *
"It is not the wish of the Cabinet that Sir Ian Hamilton should make partial attacks. They (the Cabinet) consider it preferable that he should await the arrival of his reinforcements to make one great effort, which, if successful, will give them the ridge commanding the Narrows. It is not intended, however, that Sir Ian should do nothing in the meantime and if he gets a really good opportunity he is to seize it."
There is something in this reminds me of Kuropatkin's orders to Stakelberg, yet I am glad to find that our spontaneously generated scheme jumps with the views of the Cabinet, for, there is only one "ridge commanding the Narrows" (Kilid Bahr is a plateau), and it is that ridge we mean to try for by "one great effort."
In my reply I shall merely acknowledge. Sari Bair is my secret; my Open Sesame to the cave where the forty thieves of the Committee of Union and Progress have their Headquarters. It makes me uneasy to think the Cabinet are talking about Sari Bair.
A battle is a swirl of "ifs" and "ands." The Commander who enters upon it possessed by some just and clear principle is like a sailing ship entering a typhoon on the right tack. After that he lives from hand to mouth. How far will wise saws cut ice? How much nearer do you get to shooting a snipe by being told how not to take your aim? Well thought out plans and preparations deserve to win; order and punctuality on the part of subordinates tend to make the reality correspond to the General Staff conception; surprise, if the Commander can bring it off, is worth all K. can say of it; the energy and rapidity of the chosen troops will exploit that surprise for its full value—bar, always, Luck—the Joker; and Wish to Fight and Will to Win are the surest victory getters in the pack. The more these factors are examined, the more sure it is that everything must in the last resort depend upon the executive Commander; and here, of course, I am referring to an enterprise, not to a huge, mechanically organized dead-lock like the western front.
Stopford was away in G.H.Q. Staff tents all afternoon; afterwards both he and Adderley, his A.D.C., dined. Stopford likes Reed who is, indeed, a very pleasant fellow to work with. Still, I stick to what I wrote Wolfe Murray:—the combination of Stopford and Reed is not good; not for this sort of job.
12th July, 1915. Imbros. Had meant to start for Helles an hour before daylight to witness the opening of the attack by the French Corps and the Lowland Division. But am too bad with the universal complaint to venture many yards from camp.
Stopford and Staff breakfasted. He has fallen in love with our ideas. After lunch he and his party left for Mudros. Am forcing myself to write so as to ease the strain of waiting: the battle is going on: backwards and forwards—backwards and forwards—I travel between my tent; the signal station, and the G.S. map tent.
A delightful message from K., thanking me for my letters: patting me on the back; telling me that Altham is coming out to run the communications, and Ellison to serve on my Staff.
Thank heavens we are at last to have a business man at the head of our business! As to Ellison, K.'s conscience has for long been smiting him for not having let me take my own C.G.S. with me in the first instance. But Braithwaite has won his spurs now in many a hair-raising crisis, so K. may let his mind rest at ease.
Freddie Maitland and I dined with the Vice-Admiral who kept a signaller on special watch for my messages from the shore—but nothing came in. He, the Admiral, wants to take all the 600 stokers serving in the Royal Naval Division back to the ships. This will be the last straw to the Division. We had the treat of being taken off the Triad in the Admiral's racing motor boat and when we got ashore found good news which I have just cabled home:—
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"In the southern section we attacked at daylight to-day with our right and right centre. After heavy fighting lasting all day the troops engaged, namely, the French Corps and the LIInd Lowland Division, have succeeded in carrying the two strongly held and fortified lines of Turkish trenches opposite to them. The ground covered by the advance varies in depth from 200 to 400 yards, and if we can maintain our gains against to-night's counter-attacks the effect of the action will be not only to advance but greatly to strengthen our line. Full details to-morrow."
13th July, 1915. Imbros. Still feeling very slack. Nothing clear from Helles. My cable best explains:—
* * * * *
"Troops have been continuously engaged since my last cable, but situation is still too confused to admit of definition, especially as telephone wires all cut by shell or rifle fire.
"So far as can be gathered the sum total of the engagements taking place in a labyrinth of trenches is satisfactory up to the hour of cabling and we have taken some 200 prisoners. I hope I shall be able to send definite news to-morrow morning."
Oh, energy, to what distant clime have you flown? I used to be energetic; not perhaps according to Evelyn Wood's standards—but still—energetic! Yet, see me to-day, when a poor cousin to the cholera—this cursed enteritis—lays me by the heels; fills me with desperate longing to lie down and do nothing but rest. More than half my Staff and troops are in the same state of indescribable slackness and this, I think, must be the reason the Greeks were ten long years taking Troy.
Some newspaper correspondents have arrived. I have told them they may do whatever they d—d well please. Ashmead-Bartlett is vexed at his monopoly being spoiled. Charlie Burn, who came with the King's bag, lunched. The Vice-Admiral, Roger Keyes, and Flag-Lieutenant Bowlby dined; very good of them to leave their own perfectly appointed table for our rough and ready fare. The A.D.C.s between them managed to get some partridges, opulent birds which lent quite a Ritzian tone to our banquet.
As was expected, the Turks counter-attacked heavily last night but were unable to drive us out except in one small section on our right. To-day, fighting is still going on and the Naval Division are in it now. We have made a good gain and taken over 400 prisoners and a machine gun. We are still on the rack, though, as there are a lot of Turks not yet cleared out from holes and corners of our new holding, and ammunition is running very short. If our ammunition does not run out altogether and we can hold what we have, our total gain will be 500 yards depth.
Since June 4th, when we had to whang off the whole of our priceless 600 rounds of H.E., we have had none for 18-prs. on the Peninsula—not one solitary demnition round; nor do we seem in the least likely to get one solitary demnition round. Hunter-Weston and his C.R.A. explain forcibly, not to say explosively, that on the 28th June the right attack would have scored a success equally brilliant to that achieved by the 29th Division on our left, had we been able to allot as many shell to the Turkish trenches assaulted by the 156th Brigade—Lowland Division—as we did to the sector by the sea. But we could not, because, once we had given a fair quota to the left, there was not enough stuff in our lockers for the right. Such is war! No use splitting the difference and trying to win everywhere like high brows halting between Flanders and Gallipoli. But I am sick at heart, I must say, to think my brother Scots should have had to catch hold of the hot end of the poker. Also to think that, with another couple of hundred rounds, we should have got and held H. 12. H. 12 which dominates—so prisoners say—the wells whence the enemy draws water for the whole of his right wing.
To-day the old trouble is a-foot once again. Hunter-Weston tells us the Turkish counter-attacks are being pressed with utmost fury and are beginning to look ugly, as we can give our infantry no support from our guns although the enemy offer excellent artillery targets. When K. is extra accommodating it is doubly hard to be importunate, but it's got to be done:—
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General Sir Ian Hamilton to Earl Kitchener.
"With reference to my telegrams No. M.F. 328 of 13th June and No. M.F. 381 of 28th June. Each successive fight shows more clearly than the last how much may hang on an ample supply of ammunition, more especially high explosive howitzer ammunition. In my telegram No. M.F. 381 I said that I hoped we might be able to achieve success with the ammunition already promised, and I adhere to that opinion; but every additional 100 rounds means some reduction of risks and greater assurance of success. I raise this question again because I gather from what I hear that matters in the other theatre of operations may possibly be at a standstill without much prospect of any vital alteration before the autumn fairly sets in. If this should be the case it is for you to consider whether a larger and more regular supply of ammunition should be sent to me in order to give this force the utmost chance of gaining an early success. Judging from the increased effect of the bombardments before the last two attacks on facilitating the Infantry advance I am led to hope that this success would not be long delayed under the cumulative effect of unremitting bombardment. If, therefore, any change in the general situation should make it possible to allow me temporary preferential claim to all the ammunition I should like, I would ask for the following amounts to be here by 1st August, in addition to those accompanying the troops and already promised, namely, 4.5-inch howitzer, 3,000 rounds; 5-inch howitzer, 7,000 rounds; 6-inch howitzer, 5,000, and 9.3-inch howitzer, 500 rounds, all high explosive. I should also ask for a monthly supply on the following scale, first consignment to arrive before 15th August:—
"18-pr. 300,000 "4.5-inch howitzer 30,000 "5-inch howitzer 30,000 "6-inch howitzer 24,000 "60-pr. 15,000 "9.2-inch howitzer 6,000
"The howitzer ammunition to be all high explosive, the 60-pr. to be one-third shrapnel and two-thirds high explosive, and the 18-pr. to be half of each.
"The above monthly scale includes ammunition for the following additional ordnance which I should like to get, namely, two batteries of 4.5-inch howitzers for each of the Xth and XIth Divisions (since 5-inch howitzers are found to be too inaccurate to bombard the enemy trenches even in close proximity to our own), one battery of 6-inch howitzers and four 9.2-inch howitzers.
"On the assumption already made it might be possible for you to arrange to forward to Ordnance Stores, Marseilles, the ammunition asked for to be here by 1st August. Time would thus be gained to accumulate the supply required, and I could arrange with the Vice-Admiral to send a fast steamer of 1,000 tons hold capacity to bring the consignment of high explosives from Marseilles. To get the steamer coaled, to arrive at Marseilles, coal again and be ready to receive the ammunition, would take seven days.
"Please understand that this suggestion is only prompted for the following reasons: (1) My growing belief that ample artillery might, within a limited period, lead to quite a considerable success in this theatre, and (2) because the reports which reach me seem to indicate that an offensive is not likely to be undertaken elsewhere at present (and I have mainly asked for offensive ammunition).
"The monthly supply above detailed I should not expect would be required for more than two months."
If our Government really—whole-heartedly—will that there should be a complete success in the East, they must, equally, with whole hearts and braced-up will, resist (for a while) the idea of any offensive in the West. In saying this I speak of the A.B.C. of war. The main theatre is where the amphibious power wishes to make it so. This cable of mine sent to a man like Lord K. is a very strong order. But now is the time to speak up and let him realize that he must let the fields of France lie fallow for the summer if he wishes to plough the Black Sea waves in autumn.
14th July, 1915. Imbros. Wrote letters in the morning, and in the evening went for a ride to the Salt Lake and there inspected the new aeroplane camp on the far side of the water.
Last night more counter-attacks, all driven off. The French right is now actually on the mouth of the Kereves Dere where it runs into the sea. We have made about 500 prisoners and have captured a machine gun. Hunter-Weston had to transfer the command of the 52nd Division, temporarily, to Shaw, the new Commander of the 13th Division.
Baikie is crying out to us for shells as if we were bottling them up! There are none.
15th July, 1915. Imbros. The answer has come in from the War Office:—the answer, I mean, to mine of the day before yesterday in which it is suggested that if our rich brethren were off their feed for the moment, some crumbs of high explosive might be spared:—
* * * * *
"We have great difficulty in sending you the amounts of ammunition mentioned in our No. 5770, cipher, and even now the proportion of 18-pr. high explosive will be less than stated therein. In response, however, to your No. M.F. 444, we are adding 1,000 rounds 4.5-inch, 500—5-inch, 500—6-inch and 75—9.2-inch. It will be quite impossible to continue to send you ammunition at this rate, as we have reduced the supply to France in order to send what we have to you, and the amounts asked for in the second part of your telegram could not be spared without stopping all operations in France. This, of course, is out of the question."
"This, of course, is out of the question." "Stopping all operations in France" is the very kernel of the question. If half the things we hear about the Bosche forces and our own are half true, we have no prospect of dealing any decisive blow in the West till next spring. And an indecisive blow is worse than no blow. But we can hold on there till all's blue. Now H.E. is offensive and shrapnel is defensive. I ought to attack at once; French mustn't. Therefore, we should be given, now, dollops of H.E.
This talk does not come through my hat. Some of the best brains on the Western field are in touch with those of some of my following here. The winning post stares us in the face; my old Chief gallops off the course; how can I resist calling out? And then I get this "of course" cable (not written by K. I feel sure) which shows, if it shows anything, that "of course" we ought never to have come here at all! Simple, is it not? In war all is simple—that's why it's so complex. Never mind; my cable has not been wasted. We reckon the 1,100 extra rounds it has produced may save us 100 British casualties.
Rode over to "K" Beach and inspected the 25th Casualty Clearing Station, Commandant Lieutenant-Colonel Mackenzie. Walked through the different hospital wards talking to some twenty officers and two hundred men; mostly medical cases. Did not think things at all up to the mark. Made special note of the lack of mosquito nets, beds, pyjamas and other comforts. For weeks past Jean has been toiling to get mosquito nets bought and made up, which was simple, and to get them out to us, which seems impossible. Too bad when so much money is being spent to see men lying on the ground in their thick cord breeches in this sweltering heat, a prey to flies and mosquitoes.
Discussing the landing of the New Divisions in Suvla Bay and the diversion to be made by Legge on the right by storming Lone Pine, Birdwood makes it clear in a letter just to hand, that he has told his two Divisional Generals everything. I had not yet gone into some of these details with Hunter-Weston, Stopford or Bailloud, all Corps Commanders, for I am afraid of the news filtering down to the juniors and from them, in the mysterious way news does pass, to the rank and file of both services. Thence to the Turks is but a step. Were the Turks to get wind of our plan, there would be nothing for it but to change the whole thing, even now, at the eleventh hour.
Lieutenant-Colonel F. G. Fuller, my late G.S.O. (1) in the Central Force, came over to lunch. He is now G.S.O. (2) of the 9th Corps.
At 5.30 p.m. rode over to "K" Beach for the second time and inspected the Indian Brigade under Brigadier-General Cox. They had to be pulled out some time ago and given a rest. On parade were the 5th, 6th and 10th Gurkha Battalions with the 14th Sikhs. Walked down both lines and chatted with the British and Indian Officers. The men looked cheerful and much recovered. In the evening Charlie Burn, King's Messenger, and Captain Glyn came to dinner. Glyn has been sent out as a sort of emissary, but whether by K. or by the Intelligence or by the Admiralty neither Braithwaite nor I are quite able to understand.
Cabled the War Office insisting that the lack of ammunition is "disturbing." Also, that "half my anxieties would vanish" if only the Master-General of Ordnance would see to it himself that the fortnightly allowance could be despatched regularly. I could hardly put it stronger.
Midnight.—Just back from G.S. tent with the latest. So far, so good. Bailloud and Hunter-Weston have carried two lines of Turkish trenches, an advance of two to four hundred yards. But the ammunition question has reached a crisis, and has become dangerous—very dangerous. On the whole Southern theatre of operations, counting shell in limbers and shell loaded in guns, we have 5,000 rounds of shrapnel. No high explosive—and fighting is still going on!
Hi jaculis illi certant defendere saxis.
To whomsoever of my ancestors bequeathed me my power of detachment deep salaams! How many much better men than myself would not close their eyes to-night with a battle on the balance and 5,000 rounds wherewith to fight it? But I shall sleep—D.V.; I can't create shell by taking thought any more than Gouraud could retake the Haricot by not drinking his coffee.
16th July, 1915. Imbros. Forcing myself to work though I feel unspeakably slack; wrangling with the War Office about doctors, nurses, orderlies and ships for our August battles. A few days ago I sent the following cable and they want to cut us down:—
* * * * *
"It seems likely that during the first week of August we may have 80,000 rifles in the firing line striving for a decisive result, and therefore certain that we shall then need more medical assistance. Quite impossible to foresee casualties, but suppose, for example, we suffered a loss of 20,000 men; though the figure seems alarming when put down in cold blood, it is not an extravagant proportion when calculated on basis of Dardanelles fighting up to date. If this figure is translated into terms of requirements such a battle would involve conversion of, say, 30 transports into temporary hospital ships, and necessitate something like 200 extra medical officers, with Royal Army Medical Corps rank and file and nurses in proportion. If my prognosis is concurred in, these should reach Mudros on or about 1st August. Some would D.V., prove superfluous, and could be sent back at once, and in any case they could return as soon as possible after operations, say, 1st September. Medical and surgical equipment, drugs, mattresses in due proportion. In a separate message I will deal with the deficiencies in ordinary establishment, but I think it best to keep this cable as to specified and exceptional demands distinct."
17th July, 1915. Imbros. After lunch felt so sick of scribble, scribble, scribble whilst adventure sat seductive upon my doorstep that I fluttered forth. At 2 o'clock boarded H.M.S. Savage (Lieutenant-Commander Homer) and, with Aspinall and Freddie, steered for Gully Beach. We didn't cast anchor but got into a cockleshell of a small dinghy and rowed ashore under the cliffs, where we were met by de Lisle. Along the beach men were either bathing or basking mother-naked on the hot sand—enjoying themselves thoroughly. I walked on the edge of the sea, as far as the point which hides the gully's mouth from the Turkish gunners, and was specially struck by the physique and class of the 6th East Lancashires under Colonel Cole Hamilton. Then mounted and rode to the Headquarters of General Shaw, commanding the 13th (new) Division. Shaw was feeling his wounds; he had already been once round his lines; so I would not let him come again. But Colonel Gillivan, G.S.O.1, Major Hillyard, G.S.O.2, Captain Jackson, G.S.O.3, Colonel Burton, A.A. and Q.M.G., joined us. First we went to the Headquarters of the 39th Brigade commanded by Brigadier-General Cayley (the Brigade Major is Captain Simpson). Then I went and looked at the trenches J.11-12-13, where I met Colonel Palmer of the 9th Warwicks, Colonel Jordan, D.S.O., of the 7th Gloucesters, Colonel Nunn of the 9th Worcesters, Colonel Andrews of the 7th North Staffordshires. We tramped through miles of trenches. The men were very fit and cheery. It was the day when they were relieving one another by companies from the reserve and there was a big crowd in the Ravine. De Lisle told me that one week had made the most astonishing difference to the savvy of these first arrivals of the New Army. At first there was confusion, loss of energy and time; by the end of the week they had picked up the wrinkles of the veterans. There was a good lot of shelling from the Turks but, humanly speaking, we were all quite snug and safe in the big gully or moving down the deep communication trenches. No one, not even the new 13th Division, paid the smallest deference to the projectiles.
Now began one of these semi-comic, semi-serious adventures which seem to dog my footsteps. Just as I got into the little dinghy, two bluejackets pulling and a Petty Officer steering, the Turks began to shell H.M.S. Savage as she lay about a hundred yards out. She did not like it, and, instead of waiting to let us get aboard, Commander Homer thought it wiser to sheer off about half a mile. When she quitted the Turks turned their guns on to our cockleshell, and although none of the shot came near us they still came quite near enough to interest the whole gallery of some thousands of bathing Tommies who, themselves safe in the dead ground under the cliff, were hugely amused to see their C.-in-C. having a hot time of it. After ten minutes hard rowing we got close to the destroyer and she, making a big circle at fairly high speed, came along fast as if she was going to run us down, with the idea of baffling the aim of the enemy. Not a bad notion as far as the destroyer was concerned but one demanding acrobatic qualities of a very high order on the part of the Commander-in-Chief. Anyway just as she was drawing abreast and I was standing up to make my spring a shell hit her plump and burst in one of her coal bunkers, sending up a big cloud of mixed smoke and black coal dust. The Commander was beside himself. He waved us off furiously; cracked on full steam and again left us in the lurch. We laughed till the tears ran down our cheeks. Soon, we had reason to be more serious, not to say pensive. The Savage showed a pair of clean heels this time and ran right away to Helles. So there we were, marooned, half a mile out to sea, in a tiny dinghy on which the Turks again switched their blarsted guns. The two bluejackets pulled themselves purple. They were both of them fat reservists and the mingling of anxiety and exertion, emotion and motion, made the sweat pour in torrents down their cheeks. Each time a shell plunked into the water we brightened up; then, gradually, until the next one splashed, our faces grew longer and longer. At last we got so far away that the Turks gave us up in disgust. How much I should like to see that battery commander's diary. Altogether, by the time we had boarded the Savage, we had been in that cursed little dinghy for just exactly one hour, of which I should think we were being gently shelled for three quarters of an hour. On board the destroyer no harm to speak of: only one man wounded.
Cast anchor at Imbros at 9 p.m. General Legge and Captain H. Lloyd came over to stay the night. Mail from England.
Have cabled again to stir them up about the hospital ships.
18th July, 1915. Church Parade. Inspected troops. Wrote in camp all the afternoon. Walked out to the lighthouse in the evening and watched the shells bursting over Gully Beach where we were yesterday. How often have I felt anxious seeing these shrapnel through the telescope. On the spot, as I know from yesterday's experience, their bark is worse than their bite. Colonel Ward of the Intelligence came to dinner and Captain Doughtie, commanding H.M.S. Abercrombie, paid me a visit.
19th July, 1915. Too much office work. Mr. Schuler, an Australian journalist and war correspondent, turned up. Seems a highly intelligent young fellow. He had met me on tour in Australia. Gave him leave to go anywhere and see everything. The Staff shake their heads, but the future is locked away in our heads, and the more the past is known the better for us.
Braithwaite has heard from the War Office that the Brigade of Russians which had started from Vladivostock to join us here has been counter-ordered. The War Office seem rather pleased than otherwise that this reinforcement has fallen through. Why, I can't imagine. As they are sending us a big fresh force of Britishers, they probably persuade themselves that 5,000 Russians would be more trouble than they are worth, but they forget the many thousands of shortage in my present formations. Since they fixed up to send me the new Divisions I must have lost ten thousand rifles, but as all my old Divisions remain at the Dardanelles in name, they are being regarded at home, we strongly suspect, as a sort of widow's cruse, kept full by miracles instead of men and still, therefore,—Divisions!
In the evening the Vice-Admiral came over and we rode together down to the Naval Seaplane Camp. The King's Messenger left at 5 p.m.
20th July, 1915. Imbros. Wrote double quick, then galloped over to Kephalos to see the New Army, sub rosa. The men we struck were A.1. They belong to the 32nd and 34th Brigades of the 11th Division. The 33rd has gone to Helles to get salted.
Hunter-Weston is still staying with the Admiral. He has had a hard time and a heavy responsibility and is quite worn out. I devoutly trust he may be on his legs again ere long. Have put in Stopford to act for him at Helles. This should teach the young idea how to shoot. With every aspect of the command and administration of the Southern theatre of operations thus under his immediate orders he has a rare chance of learning how to do it and how not to do it.
21st July, 1915.—Just signed a letter to the Chief of the Imperial General Staff and as it gives the run of my thoughts at the moment I spatchcock the opening and final paras:—
* * * * *
"My dear Wolfe Murray,
"How do you manage to find time to write these charming letters of yours with your own hand? They come like a gift from some oriental potentate and carry with them the same moral obligations; i.e., that they ought to be returned in kind. But to-day the time limit interposes, and I know you will pardon me for once if I dictate.
"I am immensely interested in what you say with reference to the 29th Division being below strength, namely, that we are getting short of men. Well,—though one of the keenest voluntary service people existing, I have always envisaged the fact that during a war we might be driven to compulsion. Also in writing out fully my views on this subject (views which I was not permitted by late Chiefs of the General Staff to publish) I have always, for that reason, pressed for National Registration. It does no one any harm, and rubs into the mind of the young man that, under certain conditions, the State has first pull on his pocket, labour, life and everything else. But, of course, if your own wish that the 29th Division should take out 10 per cent. extra for drafts (like the regiments do in France), had been carried into effect, they would never have fallen as low as they actually did.
* * * * *
"Freddy Stopford and Reed have been staying with me for 24 hours, and the former is now in command of the 8th Corps on the Peninsula, Hunter-Weston having gone sick. He asked to stay with the Admiral for a couple of days' rest, and the very moment he got safe on board ship the overstrain of the past month told on him and he went down with a sharp go of fever. I earnestly pray he will get right again quickly for there are not many Commanders of his calibre. Freddy Stopford will now have a good chance of getting the hang of this sort of fighting generally, surrounded as he will be by Hunter-Weston's experienced Staff. After sending my last letter I rather repented of one or two harsh things I said about Reed. There is some truth in them, but I need not have said them. I hope he will do very well out here."
Now since that letter was written (yesterday) in comes a cable from K. saying Winston can't leave England but that Hankey starts in his place.
K. says he is sure I will give him every facility.
A pretty stuffy cable in from the War Office on the Hospital ships and medical personnel and material wrangle which is still going on. I, personally, have checked every item of my estimate with closest personal attention, although it took me hours in the midst of other very pressing duties. This is not Braithwaite's pidgin but Woodward's and there was no help for it. Our first landing found out a number of chinks in our arrangements, and now, my Director of Medical Services is (quite naturally) inclined to open his mouth as wide as if ships were drugs in the market. So I have tried very hard, without too much help, to hit the mean between extravagance and sufficiency. Now the War Office, who would be the first to round on me if anything went wrong with my wounded, query my demands as if we had just splashed off a cable asking for the first things that came into our heads!
I am all for thrift in ships, but thrift in the lives of my wounded comes first; my conscience is clear and I have answered sticking to my point,—firmly! They say the thing is impossible; I have retaliated by saying it is imperative.
THE FORCE—REAL AND IMAGINARY
22nd July, 1915. Imbros. Had a jolly outing to-day. Left for Cape Helles by trawler just before 10 o'clock. Aspinall, Bertier and young Brodrick came with me. Lunched at 8th Army Corps Headquarters with Stopford and handed him a first outline scheme of the impending operations. We read it through together and he seems to take all the points and to be in general agreement. Left Aspinall behind to explain any questions of detail which might not seem clear, whilst I went a tour of inspection through the Eski Lines of trenches held by the 6th and 7th Manchesters of the 42nd Division. These Eski Lines were first held about the 7th or 8th May and have since been worked up, mainly by the energy of de Lisle, into fortifications, humanly speaking, impregnable. General Douglas, Commander of the Division, came round with me. He reminds me greatly of his brother, the late Chief of the Imperial General Staff; excellent at detail; a conscientious, very hard worker. When I had seen my Manchester friends I passed on into the Royal Naval Division Lines. There General Paris convoyed me through his section as far as Zimmerman's Farm, where I was joined by Bailloud with his Chief of Staff and Chief of Operations. Together we made our way round the whole of the French trenches winding up at de Tott's Battery.
After this whopping walk, we left by pinnace from below de Tott's wondering whether the Asiatic Batteries would think us game worth their powder and shot. They did not and so we safely boarded our trawler at Cape Helles. Didn't get back to Imbros Harbour till 9 p.m. Being so late, boarded the ever hospitable Triad on chance and struck, as usual—hospitality. Hunter-Weston is really quite ill with fever. He did not want to see anyone. As we were sitting at dinner I saw him through the half open door staggering along on his way to get into a launch to go aboard a Hospital ship. He is suffering very much from his head. The doctors prophesy that he will pull round in about a week. I hope so indeed, but I have my doubts. Aspinall reports that Stopford is entirely in accord with our project and keen.
23rd July, 1915. Imbros. Spent day in camp trying to straighten things out: (1) the personal, (2) the strategical and (3) the administrative arrangements.
(1) Hunter-Weston has to go home and I have begged for Bruce Hamilton in his place, and have told them I would have a great champion in him. He and Smith-Dorrien were my best Brigadiers in South Africa. They stood on my right hand and on my left all the way between Bloemfontein and Pretoria, and I never quite made up my mind as to which was the better. Bruce is a fighting man with an iron frame, and, in Gallipoli, his chief crab, his deafness, will be rather a gain to him.
(2) Bailloud, with his own War Minister in the background, is doing all he knows to get 20,000 of my new troops allotted to a side show, not for strategy's sake, but for the tactical relief of his troops from the shelling. I quite sympathize with his reason as, after all, he is responsible for his own troops and not for the larger issue. But, to take one objection only, the Navy could not land a force at Besika Bay and at the same time carry out landings at Suvla and Anzac. Again, since Bailloud urged these views, the guns fixed up at de Tott's Battery have already begun to gain mastery over the fire from the site of Troy. When we have one of the new 14-inch gunned monitors moored off Rabbit Island we shall get cross fire observations and give the Turkish Asiatic guns the clean knock out. Amphibious operations are ticklish things: allied operations are ticklish things: but the two together are like skating on thin ice arm in arm with two friends who each want to cut a figure of his own.
(3) Slovenly bills of lading. Bertie Lawrence, who was sent to Mudros in June when things were growing desperate, was here yesterday and has made a report on the present business situation which, though less chaotic, is still serious. There are not launches enough to enable people to get about. There are not lighters enough to work the daily transhipment of 300 tons. But the worst trouble lies in the bills of lading. Sometimes they arrive a week after their ships. Usually cargo shipped at Malta or Alexandria is omitted. Half the time we can't lay hands on vital plant, tackle, supplies, munitions, because we have no means of knowing what is, or is not, on board some ship in the harbour. The trouble is of old date but has reached its climax owing to our shortage of rounds for our 18-pounders.
We were notified a new fuse key would be required for the new shells on the 12th June. The shells arrived but the keys were not despatched till the 15th July! The vouchers are all wrong, and there, in idleness, lies the stuff that spells success. A soldier is not a conjurer that he should be handed over a fully laden ship and told to ferret out a fuse key.
24th July, 1915. Last night the Turkish Commander drove his troops into their tenth attack upon our extreme left where they were beaten off as usual with a loss of several hundreds—this time we only suffered about a dozen casualties. Together with Braithwaite, I rode over to "K" Beach at 11 a.m. to inspect part of the 11th Division there encamped. General Hammersley, Divisional Commander, met me. Also Colonel Malcolm, his General Staff Officer and Major Duncan. The first Brigade I looked at was Sitwell's—the 34th. A fine looking lot of men:—
8th Northumberland Fusiliers, 5th Dorsets, 9th Lancashire Fusiliers, 1 Coy. 11th Manchester Fusilers.
Next I passed on to Haggard's Brigade—the 32nd. On parade were—
9th West Yorkshires, 6th Yorkshires, 8th West Riding Regiment, 6th York and Lancashires.
Lastly I inspected the 67th and 68th Companies R.E. of the 134th Fortress Company, as well as the Field Ambulance. Officers and men looked splendid. I was glad indeed to be able to congratulate Hammersley on his command. The doctors tell me, that, short as has been their stay, a large number of the men are already infected by the prevalent disease. Well, they don't look like that,—and it won't kill them that's certain, for I have had it on me strong for the best part of two months. But it knocks out the starch from its victims, and if fair play existed in moonlit lands, every white man here should be credited with 25 per cent. extra kudos for everything that he does with his brains or his body under the shadow of this pestilence.
Have got a reply from the War Office (Q.M.G.2) making light of my shipping troubles and saying the War Office has always cabled full advices. What can I say to that? As the lamb thought to himself when the wolf began to growl.
25th July, 1915. Spent most of the day in camp. Church Parade at 9 a.m. Charles Lister came over from "K" Beach to lunch. He is a fascinating creature and has made a name for himself with the Naval Division, where standards are high, as being the keenest of the keen and the bravest of the brave. Hammersley, Malcolm and Aitkin called in the evening, but I had gone for a stroll and missed them.
The great Turkish attack timed by all our spies for the 23rd has never come off but, as showing the fine spirit which animates the Anzacs, it is worth noting that on that day not one soul reported sick. They would not go near the doctors for fear they might be made to miss a battle.
Last night the French took a small trench, and though the Turks had a dash at it in the morning, they were easily beaten off. Twice out of three times we gain something when we fight and the third time we lose no ground.
Given, therefore, the factors of the problem, men, munitions and the distance to be covered (two to three miles), the result pans out like a proposition by Euclid. No question of breaking through is involved as in any other theatre, but merely a question of pushing back a very clearly limited number of yards. The men have in their hearts a reservoir of patience which will never run dry so long as they are sure of the Will to Win at their backs. They need have no qualms about G.H.Q. here, but politicians are more—shall we say, mercurial? And the experts from France are throwing cold water on our cause by day and night. Therefore, as the Fleet is not going to have a dash, it is just as well we are about to try the one great effort and get it done quickly. We will gain a lot of ground; so much is certain, and it's as sure as anything can be in war that somewhere we shall make good a key to the position.
26th July, 1915. Stifling. Am sticking out about the lack of proper advices of shipments. Ammunition makes itself scarce enough without being made scarce. Rare and curious articles are worth careful booking; that's the text of my cable.
27th July, 1915. Imbros. Hard at it. Altham came in to see me and spent an hour and a half. A man of business! Mahon arrived at mid-day. Very cheery but he feels that he is the only Lieutenant-General executively employed with troops who has so small a command as a Division. He says that either he should be given a Corps, or that his Lieutenant-General's rank should be reverted to that of Major-General. I quite agreed. I feel as strongly as he does that, as a Lieutenant-General, he is clean out of his setting in a Major-General's appointment and has blocked the way to a go-ahead young Corps Commander, because that Corps Commander must, by K.'s decision, be his senior. Still, there didn't seem to be anything to be done, so after my telling him how things stood here, and hearing with great pleasure the fine account he gave me of his Irish Division, we adjourned to lunch. Colonel King, his G.S.O. (1), also lunched and seemed to be a very nice fellow. After lunch they both went off to the G.S. to be posted.
Admiral Wemyss came over from Mudros and saw me. He is senior to de Robeck but has waived that accident of rank seeing we are at war. An interesting man and a Keyesite; i.e., he'd go right through the Straits to-morrow,—or go under. He is one of those men, none too common in the Services, whose mind has gained breadth in the great world without losing its keenness. These rival tenets are straining the fabric of the Fleet, but, as I constantly tell our General Staff, my course is as clear to me as a pikestaff. I back the policy of the de facto Naval Commander-in-Chief—my own coadjutor. There is a temptation to do wrong, but I resist it. What would it not be to me were the whole Fleet to attack as we land at Suvla! But obviously I cannot go out of my own element to urge the Fleet to actions, the perils of which I am professionally incompetent to gauge.
At 5.30 p.m. I went off riding with de Robeck, Ormsby Johnson and Freddie Maitland. We cantered over to Seaplane Camp; passed the time of day to the men there and over-hauled some of the machines. Coming back, we passed through part of the 11th Division Camp; all very ship-shape and clean. Freddie Maitland and I dined on board the Beryl with Sir Douglas Gamble. He seems highly pleased with everyone and everything; I wouldn't go quite so far! There we met de Robeck, Keyes, Altham, Ellison and Captain Stephens. Got back at 11.
28th July, 1915. A cable from K. about Hunter-Weston's breakdown, telling me the Prime Minister thinks that Bruce Hamilton is too old for active work and heavy strain. Instead I am to have Davies. I know Joey Davies—everyone does. But I also know Bruce Hamilton. There is no tougher man or more resolute fighter in the Army. In my letter to K. I said, "The only man I can think of who would really inspire me with full confidence in these emergencies, excursions and alarms, would be Bruce Hamilton. Bruce Hamilton is a real fighting man, and his deafness here would be a great asset as he would be able to sleep through the shell and rifle fire at night."
The older Officers will be sorry indeed to hear Bruce Hamilton is barred. Shaw, the new Commander of the 13th Division, will be especially disappointed.
Admiral Gamble came off to see me and afterwards dined. I was very careful as I don't want to be quoted about the Sister Service. Gamble sings praise of our outfit, but I can't help wondering how, when and where he has got it into his head that we have small craft in abundance!
29th July, 1915. Imbros. Stuck to camp, and lucky I did so, for the cipher of a queer cable from S. of S. for War came in and called for as much thought as is compatible with prompt handling. The message begins with a ripe sugar plum:—
* * * * *
"At this stage of the operations which you have conducted with so much ability and in which your troops have so greatly distinguished themselves, we" (this "we" is a new expression; the S. of S. always says "I") "consider it advisable to summarize what we are placing at your disposal for the effort which we hope will bring your operations to a successful termination.
"We have sent you out" and then the cable launches out into an inventory of the forces entrusted to me which, though very detailed, is yet largely based on what we call the widow's cruse principle. As to the demnition total, "we" tells "me," categorically, (as the Lawyers say when they describe the whiteness of soot) that I have "a total of about 205,000 men for the forthcoming operations." The A.G. who brought me the cable could make nothing of it. Braithwaite then came over and he could make nothing of it. We can none of us see the point of pretending to us that my force has been kept up to the strength all the time, or of adding bayonets to the French or of assuming to us that we possess troops which Maxwell has told me time and again he requires for Egyptian defence. Were these figures going to the enemy Chief they might intimidate him—coming here they alarm me. There is a "We" at the other end of the cable which knows so little that it tells me, who know every gun, rifle and round of ammunition I have at my disposal, that I have double that number to handle. We won't defeat the enemy by paper strengths. As far as sentiments go, the cable is by chalks the heartiest handshake we poor relations to the West have had since we started. From the outset we've been kicked by phrases such as, if you don't hurry up we will have to "reconsider the position," etc., etc. Now, the "Wees" wind up with a really wonderful paragraph:—
* * * * *
"We should like to hear from you after considering your plans whether there is anything further in the way of personnel, guns or ammunition we can send you, as we are most anxious to give you everything you can possibly require and use. You will realize that as regards ammunition we have had to stop supplying France to give you the full output, which will be continued as long as possible; in the short time available before the bad weather intervenes the Dardanelles operations are now of the highest importance."
The position seems now, to me, extraordinarily delicate. Are we to let the mistakes in this flattering cable slide, and build upon its promises, or, are we to pull whoever believes these figures out of their fool's paradise? Well, I feel we must have it out and although deeply grateful for the nice words and for the splendid effort actually being made, we cannot let it be assumed by anyone that our vanishing Naval and Territorial Divisions are complete and up to strength. As to ammunition, I asked plainly over a fortnight ago, for what I thought was necessary to rapid success. I was told in so many words that France would not spare it; though it would have been a small affair to them. Now; as if these cables had no existence, they ask if there is "anything in the way of personnel, guns or ammunition you can possibly require and use." The truth is, I don't like this cable; in spite of its flowery opening I don't like it at all. As to personnel, I ask for young and energetic commanders, Byng and Rawlinson, and am turned down. Next I ask for an old and experienced Commander, Bruce Hamilton, and am turned down. Next I say that Reed, who would be a good staff officer to some Generals, is not well suited to Stopford; I am turned down. I try to get a business man to run Mudros and have been turned down till just the other day. In all these points the War Office are supreme and are acting well within their rights. But they show some want of consistency in talking to me all of a sudden, as if it was a matter of course I should be met half way in my wishes.
So there and then we roughed out this reply:—
* * * * *
"Your Nos. 6583 and 6588. Your appreciation of our efforts will afford intense gratification and encouragement to everyone.
"In regard to what we should like if it is available in the shape of guns and ammunition, please see my No. M.F. 444, of 13th July, which still holds good. As to the final paragraph of your No. 6583, I did not realize that you were stopping supplies to France in order to give us full output, since a fortnight ago your No. 6234 stated that it was then impossible for you to send the ammunition I asked for, and that it would be impossible to continue supplies even on a much lower scale, since it would involve the reduction of supplies to France. Naturally, I have always realized that you, and not I, must judge of the comparative importance of the demands from the Dardanelles and from France.
"With regard to numbers, the grand total you mention does not take into account non-effectives or casualties; it includes reinforcements such as LIVth and part of the LIIIrd Divisions, etc., which cannot be here in time for my operation, and it also includes Yeomanry and Indian troops which, until this morning, I was unaware were at my unreserved disposal. For the coming operation, the number of rifles available is about half the figure you quote, viz., 120,000. I am only anxious, in emphasizing this point, to place the statement regarding my strength on the correct basis, and one which gives a true view of the position.
"What I want in a hurry is as much additional high explosive shell as you can send me up to amounts asked for in my No. M.F. 444, and as many of the 4.5-inch and 6-inch howitzers asked for in that telegram as there is ammunition for. I am despatching a ship immediately, and its time of arrival at Marseilles will be telegraphed later.
"With regard to sending the IInd Mounted Division unmounted, I am at once telegraphing Maxwell to obtain his views."
The Mail bag went out this morning.
Hankey is now busy going over the Peninsula. I have not seen much of him. A G.S. Officer has been told off to help him along and to see that he does not get into trouble. I am not going to dry nurse him. He showed me of his own free will a copy of a personal cable he had sent to Lord Kitchener in which he says, speaking of his first visit to Anzac, "Australians are superbly confident and spoiling for a fight." This is exactly true and I feel it is good that one who has the ear of the insiders should say it. I wrote Wolfe Murray a week ago that he was a successor to those Commissioners who were sent out by the French Republic in its early days. Actually, I am very glad to have him. Lies are on the wing, and he, armed with the truth, will be able to knock some of them out hereafter when he meets them in high places.
I have been bothered as to how to answer a letter from a statesman for whom I cherish great respect, who has always been very kind to me and whom I like very much. He writes:—
* * * * *
"It may interest you to know the Cabinet has entrusted the superintendence of the Dardanelles business to a comparatively small and really strong committee drawn equally from the two parties. We most thoroughly understand the extreme difficulty of your task and the special conditions of the problem in front of you and the Admiral. All we ask from you is complete confidence and the exact truth. We are not babes and we can digest strong meat. Do not think that we ever want anything unpleasant concealed from us, nor do we want you ever to swerve one hair's breadth from your own exact judgment in putting the case before us, certainly never on the pleasant side; if you ever swerve pray do so on the unpleasant side.... If you want more ammunition say so...."
"Could you eat a bun, my boy?" said the old gentleman to the little boy looking in at the shop window. "Could I eat ten thousand b ... buns and the baker who baked them?" So the dear little fellow answered. If I want more ammunition indeed? If ...? I fear the "comparatively small and really strong committee." They fairly frighten me. There they sit, all wishing us well, all evidently completely bamboozled. "If you want more ammunition, say so!" Anyway, my friend means me well but my path is perfectly clear; I have only one Chief—K.—and I correspond with no one but him, or his Staff, whether on the subject of ammunition or anything else....
As to the letter, I know it is entirely kind, genuine and inspired by the one idea of helping me. But I've got to say no thank you in some unmistakable manner. So I have replied:—
* * * * *
"I am grateful for your reassuring remarks about your Committee having confidence in my humble self. For my part I have confidence in the moral of my troops and in the devotion of the Navy which are the two great and splendid assets amidst this shifting kaleidoscope of the factors and possibilities of war.
"I am not quite sure that I clearly understand your meaning about cabling home the exact truth. Is there any occasion on which I have failed to do so? I should be very sorry indeed to think I had consciously or unconsciously misled anyone by my cables. There is always, of course, the broad spirit of a cable which depends on the temperament of the sender. It is either tinged with hope or it has been dictated by one who fears the worst. If you mean that you would prefer a pessimistic tone given to my appreciations, then I am afraid you will have to get another General."
30th July, 1915. Gascoigne of "Q" branch lunched. On getting news of the decisive victory on the Euphrates I caused a feu de joie to be fired precisely at 5 p.m. by all the troops on the Peninsula. At the appointed hour I walked up the cliff's edge whence I clearly heard the roll of fire. The question of whether musketry sounds will carry so far is settled. Evidently the Turks have taken up the challenge for it was quite a long time before the distant rumbling died away. In the cool of the evening took a walk. Commandant Bertier and la Borde dined.
Stopford, now commanding at Helles, has endorsed a report from the Commander of the 42nd East Lancs Division saying that out of a draft of 45 recruits just come from home three have been cast as totally unfit and nine as permanently unfit through blindness. Stopford says that he can't understand this, as the second line Battalion, from which these poor fellows were selected, contained good soldiers and tall fellows quite lately when they were under his command in England. Have cabled the facts home; also the following, showing the result of the Admiralty's attitude towards their own Naval Division now Winston has departed:—
* * * * *
"(No. M.F. 505). From General Sir Ian Hamilton to War Office. The effective strength of the Marine Brigade is now reduced to 50 officers and 1,890 rank and file. In addition, only five battalions, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Battalions, are now remaining in the Division, as the Anson Battalion has been withdrawn for special work in connection with the forthcoming operations. Moreover, 300 men, stokers, from this division have been handed over to the Navy for work in auxiliary vessels, see my telegram No. M.F.A. 1377, of 11th July. I have consequently decided to reduce the division to eight battalions and to reorganize it into two brigades as a temporary measure. Can you give me any idea when the reinforcements for this division are likely to be despatched and when they may be expected here? I should like to see the division again at its strength of 12 battalions, and do not want to lose it, as it contains a very valuable war-trained nucleus, but unless it is brought under army administration, it does not appear likely that it can be maintained."
31st July, 1915. Imbros. Quiet day spent in trying to clear my table before sailing for Mitylene to see the new Irish Division. The grand army with which some War Office genius credited us appear to have served their purpose. At our challenge they have now taken to their heels like Falstaff's eleven rogues in buckram suits. The S. of S. (cabling this time as "I" and not as "We,") says, "it is not worth while trying to reconcile numbers by cable and it is difficult to make up accurate states."
Do not let me forget, though, that a slice of solid stuff is sandwiched into this cable—we are to get some 4.5 shell via Marseilles; H.E. we hope: also, two batteries of 4.5 howitzers: also that the A.G. has been trying hard to feed the 29th Division. The Territorials are the people who are being allowed to go to pot—not a word of hope even, and before the eyes of everyone.
1st August, 1915. Imbros. The usual rush before leaving. No time to write. Sent two cables, copies attached. The first to the War Office, in answer to one from the A.G. wherein he plumes himself upon the completeness of the 29th Division. That completeness, alas, is only so relatively; i.e., in comparison with the sinking condition of the Territorial Divisions:—
* * * * *
"We are deeply grateful to you for the drafts you have despatched for the XXIXth Division as the fighting existence of that fine formation has been prolonged by their timely arrival, but I fear that you are very wide of the mark in your assumption that these drafts have completed the Division.
"As I have ventured to point out incessantly since my arrival here, constant large numbers of casualties must occur between the demands for and the arrival of drafts owing to the length of the sea voyage. It was for this very plain reason that it was doubly necessary to have here the 10 per cent. margin granted in the case of battalions going to France. We must always be considerably under establishment in the absence of some such margin.
"I fully realize, in saying this, that it may be quite impossible to meet such demands as I suggest, but I feel bound to let you know the only possible terms on which any unit in this force can ever be up to establishment.
"At the present moment, excluding 1,700 drafts coming on Simla and Themistocles, the actual infantry strength of the XXIXth Division is 219 officers and 8,424 other ranks."
The second cable is to K. The War Office Army has melted into thin air and it only remains to express my heartfelt thanks for the real Army:—
* * * * *
"With reference to your No. 6645. Very many thanks. You have done everything for us that man can do. The ship will probably not reach me in time but since I know that the ammunition is actually en route for me, and that it will (D.V.) arrive, I need not husband what we have, but can fire freely if I see great results thus obtainable. The Turk, at any rate, where he knows that he is fighting for Constantinople, is a stubborn fighter, and the difficulty is not so much in the taking of positions as in the maintaining of them.
"Hence the extra ammunition you are sending me will come in the nick of time. The ship will arrive at Marseilles 7 p.m. 4th August, as I telegraphed to the Quartermaster-General yesterday. Many thanks for the two batteries of 4.5-inch howitzers, they are worth their weight in gold to us."
At 5 p.m. embarked on H.M.S. Chatham (Captain Drury Lowe) with George Lloyd of the General Staff and young Brodrick. At 6 p.m. sailed for Mitylene.
2nd August, 1915. H.M.S. "Chatham," Mitylene. We opened Mitylene Harbour at 5.30 a.m. So narrow was the entrance, and so hidden, that at first it looked as if the Chatham was charging the cliffs; next as if her long guns must entangle themselves in the flowering bushes on either side of the channel; then, as we sailed out over a bay like a big turquoise, I felt as though we were at peace with all men, making a pilgrimage to the home of Sappho, and that we had left far behind us these giant wars. But only for a moment!
After early breakfast, where I met Captain Grant of H.M.S. Canopus, left in a steam pinnace to inspect the 30th Brigade under Brigadier-General Hill.
H.M.T. Alaudia, 9.30 a.m. 6th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Col G. Downing, 7th R.D.F., in command.
H.M.T. Andania, 10.30 a.m. 6th R. Inniskilling Fusiliers, 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers, Lt.-Col. M. Pike, 5th R.I.F., in command.
H.M.T. Canada, 11.30 a.m. 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers, Lt.-Col. F. A. Greer in command.
H.M.T. Novian, 12 p.m. 5th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Lt.-Col. H. Vanrennan in command.
The Royal Irish Fusiliers and Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had not got back on board ship by the time I was ready for them, so I hurried off by motor launch to a landing in another part of the Bay and, walking through a village, caught them resting by their piled arms after a route march. All of these men looked very well and cheery. The villagers were most friendly and had turned out in numbers, bringing presents of flowers and fruit. Not more than 60 per cent. of the men are Irish, the rest being either North of England miners or from Somerset.
In the evening, crossed the glassy bay and motored to pay a double-barrelled visit to the Military and Civil Governors. Topping the watershed, yet another pleasure shock. Through the sea haze Mitylene shines out like an iridescent bubble of light. Never had I seen anything so vivid in its colour and setting as this very ancient, very small, very brilliant city of Mitylene. Rio de Janeiro, Sydney, the Golden Horn are sprawling daubs to flawless Mitylene.
Hesketh Smith and Compton Mackenzie were with us. The Governors very polite. The soldier man is a Cretan and seemed a good sort. We took tea at the Hotel and then made our way back to the Chatham. Found messages from G.H.Q. to say all's well and stuff being smuggled in without hitch at Anzac. At 7 p.m. we sailed for Imbros; a breeze from the West whipping up little waves into cover for enemy periscopes. So the moment we left the harbour we took on a corkscrew course, dodging and twisting like snipe in an Irish bog, to avoid winding up our trip in the dark belly of a German submarine. Soon emerged from the sea a huge piled up white cloud, white and clear cut at first as the breast of a swan upon a blue lake, slowly turning to deep rose colour flecked here and there with gold. As it swallowed up the last lingering colours of the sunset, the world grew grey, then black, and we were, humanly speaking, safe.
3rd August, 1915. Imbros. Anchored at Imbros roadstead 5.30 a.m. Braithwaite not up yet so Altham got first innings about transport and supply.
Next the G.S. All our preliminaries are working on quite smoothly towards the climax and, so far, it seems likely the Turks have no notion of the scheme.
Girodon steamed over from Helles to see me and went back again in the evening. He is the mirror of French chivalry, modesty and good form, besides being an extraordinary fine soldier.
The 33rd Brigade, sent by me to gain wisdom at Helles, have now been brought here so that the whole 11th Division can start off together.
Just as the peculiar foggy air of Lancashire is essential to the weaving of the finer sorts of tissues, so an atmosphere of misunderstandings would really seem to suit the War Office.
In the cable telling me I would have 205,000 troops for my push, the S. of S. had informed me categorically that the 8,500 Yeomanry and mounted troops in Egypt, as well as 11,500 Indian troops and the Artillery stationed there were mine.
As the present garrison of Egypt numbers over 70,000 and as the old peace garrison of Egypt was 5,000 and as, further, there is no question of serious attack on Egypt from outside, it seemed to us there might be men in this part of the message. Leaving the Indian troops out of the account, for the moment, I therefore wired to Maxwell and asked him if he thought he would be able to organize a portion of the 8,500 mounted men, in order that, at a pinch, they might be able to come and reinforce us here. So the matter stood when I got another cable from the S. of S. telling me 5,000 drafts are "en route or under orders" to join the 29th Division and that the War Office are "unable to carry out your views about additional marginal drafts." S. of S. then goes on:—
* * * * *
"Maxwell wires that you are taking 300 officers and 5,000 men of his mounted troops. I do not quite understand why you require Egyptian Garrison troops while you have the LIIIrd Division at Alexandria, and the LIVth, the last six battalions of which are arriving in five or six days, on the Aquitania.
"When I placed the Egyptian Garrison at your disposal to reinforce at the Dardanelles in case of necessity, Maxwell pointed out that Egypt would be left very short, and I replied that you would only require them in case of emergency for a short time, and that the risk must be run. I did not contemplate, however, that you would take troops from the Egyptian Garrison until those sent specially for you were exhausted. How long will you require Maxwell's troops, and where do you intend to send them? They should only be removed from Egypt for actual operations and for the shortest possible time."
We may read this cable wrong but it seems to us to embody a topsy-turvy tactic! To wait till one part of your forces are killed off (for that is the plain English of "exhausted") before you bring up the other part of your forces.
It is not easy to know what to do. The very best we can do, it sometimes seems to me, is to keep quiet rather than add one iota to the anxieties of people staggering under a load of responsibilities and cares. In the good old days the Gordons fought in two decisive battles in two Continents within a few months and no one worried the War Office about drafts! The 92nd carried on—had to carry on; they fell to quarter strength—still they were the Gordons and they carried on, just as if they counted a thousand rifles in their ranks. Now, I am quite prepared to do that to-day—if that is the policy. If that were the policy; not one grouse or grumble should ever cross my lips. But that is not the policy. Press and People believe a Division is a unit made up in scientific proportions of different branches and numbering a certain number of rifles. They are told so; the War Office keep telling them so; they believe it, and, in fact, it is an absolute necessity of this modern trench war that it should be so. Although the Gordons got no drafts between the battle of Kandahar and the battle of Majuba Hill, they got six months' rest; which was even better. In those days, apart from sieges, a battle was an event, here it is the rest or respite that is an event. Even British soldiers can't stick day and night fighting for ever. The attack spirit begins to ebb unless it is fed with fresh blood. Whether K.'s mind, big with broad views, grasps this new factor with which he has never himself come into personal contact, God knows. But for his sake, every bit as much as for my own, it is up to me to keep hammering, hammering, hammering at drafts, drafts, drafts.
Dined with the ever hospitable and kind hearted de Robeck on Triad. The Navy are still divided. Some there are who would wish me to urge the Admiral to play first fiddle in the coming attack. This I will not do. I have neither the data nor the technical knowledge which would justify me to my conscience in doing so.
4th August, 1915. Imbros. Have been out seeing the New Army at work. Some of the XIth Division were practising boat work in the evening and afterwards a Brigade started upon a night march into the mountains. The men are fit, although just beginning to be infected with the Eastern Mediterranean stomach trouble; i.e., the so-called cholera, which saved Constantinople from the Bulgarians in the last war.
5th August, 1915. Imbros. The day so longed for is very near now. O that it had come at the period of our victories! But there is time enough still, and the first moves of the plan are working smooth as oiled machinery. For the past few nights there has been steady flow into Anzac of troops, including a Division of the New Army. This has taken place, without any kind of hitch, under the very noses of the Turkish Army who have no inkling of the manoeuvre—as yet! The Navy are helping us admirably here with their organization and good sea discipline. Also, from what they tell me, Shaw and the 13th Division of the New Army are playing up with the clockwork regularity of veterans. All this marks us up many points to the good, before even the flag drops. For, given the fine troops we have, the prime factors of the whole conception; the factors by which it stands or falls; are:—
* * * * *
(1) Our success in hoodwinking the Turks; i.e., surprise.
(2) Our success in getting the 13th Division and the Indian Brigade unnoticed into Anzac.
(3) Our success in landing the Divisions from Imbros, Lemnos and Mitylene, at moments fixed beforehand, upon an unknown, unsurveyed, uncharted shore of Suvla. Of these three factors (1) and (2) may already be entered to our credit; (3) is on the knees of the Navy.
The day before the start is the worst day for a Commander. The operation overhangs him as the thought of another sort of operation troubles the minds of sick men in hospitals. There is nothing to distract him; he has made his last will and testament; his affairs are quite in order; he has said au revoir to his friends with what cheeriness he can muster. Looking back, it seems to me that during two months every conceivable contingency has been anticipated and weighed and that the means of dealing with it as it may arise is now either:—embodied in our instructions to Corps Commanders, or else, set aside as pertaining to my own jurisdiction and responsibility. To my thinking, in fact, these instructions of ours illustrate the domain of G.H.Q. on the one hand and the province of the Corps Commander on the other very typically. The General Staff are proud of their work. Nothing; not a nosebag nor a bicycle has been left to chance.
Davies and Diggle, his A.D.C., lunched and the Admiral came to haul me out for a walk about 6 p.m.
Have written K. by this evening's Mail bag about the sickness of the Australians, and indeed of all the troops here, excepting only the native Indian troops, and also about our Medical band-o-bast for the battle. No question about it, the Dardanelles was the theatre of all others for our Indian troops.
Have now seen all the New Army units except six Battalions of the 10th Division.
French has written me a very delightful letter.
[Footnote 1: See Appendix III containing actual instructions, together with a brief explanatory heading.—IAN H., 1920.]
SARI BAIR AND SUVLA
6th August, 1915. Imbros. O! God of Bethel, by whose hand thy people still are fed,—I am wishing the very rare wish,—that it was the day after to-morrow. Men or mice we will be by then, but I'd like to know which. K.'s New Army, too! How will they do? What do they think? They speak—and with justice—of the spirit of the Commander colouring the moral of his men, but I have hardly seen them, much less taken their measure. One more week and we would have known something at first hand. Now, except that the 13th Division and the 33rd Brigade gained good opinions at Helles, all is guess work.
Went down to "K" Beach to see the 11th Division go off. Young Brodrick, who was with us, proved himself much all there on the crowded pier and foreshore; very observant; telling me who or what I had not noticed, etc. First the destroyers were filling up and then the lighters. The young Naval Officers in charge of the lighters were very keen to show me how they had fixed up their reserves of ammunition and water. Spent quite a time at this and talking to Hammersley and Malcolm, his G.S.O. (1); also to Coleridge, G.S.O. (2), and to no end of Regimental Officers and men. Hammersley has been working too hard; at least he looked it; also, for the occasion, rather glum. Quite natural; but I always remember Wolseley's remark about the moral stimulus exerted by the gay staff officer and his large cigar. The occasion! Yes, each man to his own temperament. Some pray before battle; others dance and drink. The memory of Cromwell prevails over that of Prince Rupert with most Englishmen but Prince Rupert, per se, usually prevailed over Cromwell. To your adventurous soldier; to our heroes, Bobs, Sir Evelyn, Garnet Wolseley, Charles Gordon (great psalm-singer though he was) an occasion like to-night's holds the same intoxicating mixture of danger and desire as fills the glass of the boy bridegroom when he raises it to the health of his enigma in a veil. But I don't know how it is; I used to feel like that; now I too am terribly anxious. Disappointed not to see Stopford nor Reed. They were to have been there. Besides the men on the beetles there are men packed like herrings upon the decks of the destroyers. I had half a mind to cruise round in the motor launch and say a few words to them Elandslaagte fashion, but was held back by feeling that the rank and file don't know me and that there was too long an interval before the entry into the danger zone.
The sea was like glass—melted; blue green with a dull red glow in it: the air seemed to have been boiled. Officers and men gave me the "feel" of being "for it" though over serious for British soldiers who always, in my previous experience, have been extraordinarily animated and gay when they are advancing "on a Koppje day." These new men seem subdued when I recall the blaze of enthusiasm in which the old lot started out of Mudros harbour on that April afternoon.
The moral of troops about to enter into battle supplies a splendid field of research for students of the human soul, for then the blind wall set in everyday intercourse between Commander and commanded seems to become brittle as crystal and as transparent. Only for a few moments—last moments for so many? But, during those moments, the gesture of the General means so much—it strikes the attitude of his troops. It is up to Stopford and Hammersley to make those gestures. Stopford was not there, and is not the type; Hammersley is not that type either. How true it is that age, experience, wisdom count for less than youth, magnetism and love of danger when inexperience has to be heartened for the struggle.
Strolled back slowly along the beach, and, at 8.30, in the gathering dusk, saw the whole flotilla glide away and disappear ghostlike to the Northwards. The empty harbour frightens me. Nothing in legend stranger or more terrible than the silent departure of this silent Army, K.'s new Corps, every mother's son of them, face to face with their fate.
But it will never do to begin the night's vigil in this low key. Capital news from the aeroplanes. Samson has sent in photographs taken yesterday, showing the Suvla Bay area. Not more than 100 to 150 yards of trenches in all; half a dozen gun emplacements and, the attached report adds, no Turks anywhere on the move.
7th August, 1915. Imbros. Sitting in my hut after a night in the G.S. tent. One A.D.C. remains over there. As the cables come in he runs across with them. Freddie Maitland runs fast. I am watching to see his helmet top the ridge of sand that lies between. The 9th Corps has got ashore; some scrapping along the beaches but no wire or hold-up like there was at Sedd-el-Bahr: that in itself is worth fifty million golden sovereigns. The surprise has come off!
I'd sooner storm a hundred bloody trenches than dangle at the end of this wire. But now, thank God, the deadliest of the perils is past. The New Army are fairly ashore. That worst horror of searchlights and of the new troops being machine gunned in their boats has lifted its dark shadow.
At Anzac, the most formidable entrenchment of the Turks, "Lone Pine," was stormed yesterday evening by the Australian 1st Brigade; a desperate fine feat. At midnight Birdie cabled, "All going on well on right where men confident of repelling counter-attack now evidently being prepared: on left have taken Old No. 3 Post and first ridge of Walden Point, capturing machine gun: progress satisfactory, though appallingly difficult: casualties uncertain but on right about 100 killed; 400 wounded."
At Helles a temporary success was scored, but, during the early part of the night, counter-attacks have brought us back to "as you were." Fighting is going on and we ought to be pinning the enemy to the South which is the main thing.
From Suvla we have no direct news since the "All landings successful" cable but we have the repetition of a wireless from G.H.Q. IXth Corps to the Vice-Admiral at 7.58 a.m. saying, "Prisoners captured state no fresh troops have arrived recently and forces opposed to us appear to be as estimated by G.H.Q. Apparently one Regiment only was opposed to our advance on left."
I have caused this cable to be sent to Stopford:—
* * * * *
"4.20 p.m. G.H.Q. to 9th Corps. Have only received one telegram from you. Chief glad to hear enemy opposition weakening and knows you will take advantage of this to push on rapidly. Prisoners state landing a surprise so take every advantage before you are forestalled."
8th August, 1915. Imbros. Another night on tenter hooks: great news: a wireless from a warship to tell us the Suvla troops are up on the foothills: two cables from Stopford: many messages from Anzac and Helles.
"2.12 a.m. IXth Corps to G.H.Q. As far as can be ascertained 33rd Brigade hold line the sea about 91.I.9 to Suvla East corner of Salt Lake to Lala Baba inclusive. North of Salt Lake 31st and 32nd Brigade extended East of Asmak 117.U. preparatory. 34th Brigade advancing having followed retreating enemy towards line diagonally across 117.X. and 117.D. One battalion latter Brigade occupy high ground about square 135.X."
"5.10 a.m. IXth Corps to G.H.Q. Yilghin Burnu is in our hands. No further information."
Awful work at Lone Pine. Desperate counter-attacks by enemy, but now Birdie thinks we are there to stay. Bulk of Turkish reserves engaged there whilst Godley's New Zealanders and the new 13th Division under Shaw are well up the heights and have carried Chunuk Bair. Koja Chemen Tepe not yet; but Chunuk Bair will do: with that, we win!
At Helles we have pushed out again and the East Lancs Division have gallantly stormed the Vineyard which they hold. The Turks are making mighty counter-attacks but their columns have been cut to pieces by the thin lines of the Lancashire Fusiliers. Neither from Helles nor from the Southern area of Anzac are the enemy likely to spare men to reinforce Sari Bair or Suvla.
At 11.30 I ordered the Arno for mid-day sharp. Then happened one of those aquatic incidents which lend an atmosphere all their own to amphibious war. Rear-Admiral Nicholson, in local naval command here, had ordered the Arno to fill up her boilers. Some hitch arose, some d—d amphibious hitch. Thereupon, without telling me, he ordered the Commander of the Arno to draw fires, so that, when my signal was sent, a reply came from the Rear-Admiral saying he was sorry I should be inconvenienced, but he thought it best to order the fires to be drawn; otherwise the boilers might have suffered. When, at a crisis, a boiler walks into the middle of his calculations, a soldier is simply—boiled! I could not altogether master my irritation, and I wrote out a reply saying this was not a question of convenience or inconvenience but one of preventing a Commander-in-Chief from exercising his functions during battle. I sent the signal down to the signal tent and about an hour later Braithwaite came over and said he had taken it upon himself to tone it down. Just as well, perhaps, but here I was, marooned upon an island!