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The New Zealanders at Gallipoli

The Attack on the Dardanelles

The Attack on the Dardanelles.

The newcomers were at once informed of the present situation and the intention of the High Command. It is not advisable here to discuss the political and strategical considerations that determined an attack on the Dardanelles—whether the campaign failed because of faulty strategy, staff page 69
Black and white map.

Map of Gallipoli and Surrounding Islands.
From Bulair to Cape Helles is about 50 miles; from Anzac to Kephalos 15 miles; from Anzac to Helles 14 miles.

page 70 work, or tactics, or because the whole conception of the operation was unsound. This is simply a soldier's narrative of events, and not a detailed and critical examination of a political and military effort. This much, however, is known: that in order to help Russia, to relieve the attacks on the Suez Canal, and to influence the wavering Balkan States, some action was imperative.

It had been laid down in England that the British commander should not land his army until a naval attack had been attempted and failed. Further, he was not to commit himself to any adventurous undertakings on the Asiatic shore.

On February 19 the outer defences of Sedd-el-Bahr and Kum Kale were demolished by the fleet. For a time success seemed within our grasp, but the flat trajectory of the naval guns availed them little against the forts and land defences situated inside the Straits, and on March 18, the carefully laid minefields and mobile field guns gave the coup-de-grace to the naval plan by destroying in one day the “Irresistible,” the “Inflexible,” and the “Ocean,” together with the French battleships “Bouvet” and “Gaulois.”

Begotten of vacillation and hesitancy at Home, a period of local inactivity ensued. It was finally decided that a combined land and sea attack should be attempted. It was known that early in the year the Turk had six divisions distributed between Bulair, Gaba Tepe, Helles, and Kum Kale. Since then reinforcements had been constantly arriving and the fortifications greatly strengthened. The situation in France was serious—men and more men, guns and more guns, were being clamoured for. After some delay the last division of British Regulars—the 29th—were detailed for the service, and now in Mudros Harbour they were waiting in their transports.

The Allied troops composing the M.E.F. were five divisions, as follows:—

A French Division (Territorials and coloured troops).
The 29th Division (British Regulars).
The Royal Naval Division.
The 1st Australian Division.
The N.Z. and A. Division (two brigades only).

Of these it may be said that as seasoned soldiers the 29th page 71 Division had no superiors on earth, being of the same calibre as the famous “First Seven Divisions” of the early days in France. The remainder of the British troops were practically untried, but keen, and volunteers to a man. For heavy artillery, reliance had to be placed on the Allied Navies. For the first time in history a British army was to be supported by 12-inch and 15-inch naval guns, the latter carried by the “Queen Elizabeth.”