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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

Where should the Troops be Used?

Where should the Troops be Used?

In his classical Third Despatch, General Sir Ian Hamilton has clearly shown the different suggestions for employing the new troops. They were resolved into four practicable schemes, which may be summarized as follows:—

(1) Every man to be thrown on to the Helles sector to force a way forward to the Narrows. This was rejected because it was difficult to deploy a large body of troops in such a confined area. Further, the whole of Krithia and Achi Baba had been specially prepared against such a frontal attack.

(2) Embarkation on the Asiatic side of the Straits, followed by a march on Chanak. The number of troops available was not considered sufficient to press this to a victorious conclusion.

(3) A landing at Enos or Ibriji for the purpose of seizing the Isthmus of Bulair. Against this project it was known that the Turkish lines of communication were not only by way of Bulair and down the Narrows, but also by way of the Asiatic coast across from Chanak to Kilid Bahr. The naval objections to Bulair were overwhelming: the beaches were bad, and, worse still, the strain on sea transport would be tremendous. We know how difficult it was at Anzac, but a new base at Bulair would add another fifty miles to the sea communications, already threatened by enemy submarines.

(4) Reinforcement of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps combined with a new landing at Suvla Bay. There was a reasonable chance of success in first winning Hill 971, then across the low ground to Maidos. From thence both the Turkish land and sea communication might be cut. This plan was also acceptable to the naval authorities. The distance to Suvla Bay was approximately the same as to Anzac. There was also a tolerably good harbour that might be made submarine proof. The water supply would be difficult, but it was reasoned that efficient organization would page 191 mitigate this evil; in any case, it was known that this area was not so heavily entrenched as the other three suggested landing places.

The total allied force was known to be inferior to the enemy, but it was thought that with skilful generalship this superiority might be nullified. The aim of strategy is to concentrate a superior force at the decisive point. The advantage is always with the attacker, as the side attacked must be in sufficient strength all along the line and must keep sufficient reserves in hand until the enemy's real attack definitely materializes. Wherever Turkish troops were stationed in large numbers it was necessary to arrange feint attacks—away on the flanks opposite Mitylene on the Asiatic coast, and away up at Bulair. Holding attacks to keep the enemy pinned down in their areas were to be carried out at Helles and at No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3 Defence Sections at Anzac. Having induced the enemy to become committed all along the general line, it was intended to burst out from the left flank of Anzac, at the same time land new troops at Suvla—the whole to push on towards Chunuk Bair, Hill Q, and Hill 971. These heights in our hands the fall of Maidos, Gaba Tepe, and eventually Kilid Bahr was only a matter of time.

The strategical and tactical situation may be easier grasped diagrammatically:—
Black and white diagram of the strategies for holding attacks and attacking.

Turkish Reserves

The general idea was that at Bulair and Mitylene enemy forces would be immobilized, and that the Turkish reserves on the Peninsula would flow towards Helles and the right of Anzac. As soon as these reserves were committed the troops page 192 of Anzac and Suvla would press towards Hill 971 and turn the Turkish flank.

In anticipation of this advance, a party of selected officers and scouts lived day and night out on the Suvla Flats and in the Turkish territory on the Sari Bair. These were the men who were selected to guide the troops over the new ground to be attacked.

Two other important works were put in hand at once in the Anzac area; the first, to widen the long communication trench from Anzac to the outposts; the second, to make a road available for wheeled traffic along the beach. In order not to make the enemy suspicious, this had to be done after dark, as the entire area was under the observation and rifle fire of the enemy on the heights.