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Landings & First Day - Gallipoli

  • The Suvla Landing
    The Suvla Landing
  • Lieutenant Colonel Hannay
    Lieutenant Colonel Hannay
  • Turkish Dispositions at Suvla
    Turkish Dispositions at Suvla
  • Suvla, 08.00, 7th August 1915
    Suvla, 08.00, 7th August 1915
  • Chocolate Hill
    Chocolate Hill
  • SS Sarina
    SS Sarina

5th Dorsets were to land at Suvla Bay on 6/7 August 1915, under cover of a moonless night, as 34 Brigade's second wave. However, the plan miscarried when the leading landing craft headed too far south and ran aground shoals. With Turkish troops alerted, the delays and the inexperienced British brigades unable to find their objective at Hill 10 in the pitch black, there was paralysis. The Dorsets later commented on the performance of their Brigade Headquarters (and is generalisable to the entire command structure):

'From the first things that had gone wrong, the misfortune which had attended the landing of the landing ... and had led to ... everything being thrown out of gear; where resolute handling and vigour were urgently needed, resolution and initiative had been conspicuously lacking.'

It wasn't until dawn that 5th Dorsets landed and Colonel Hannay forced his battalion through the crowds of milling infantrymen and headed north to mount a flanking attack on Hill 10 that was now only too obvious from the flashes of Turkish gunfire. A Company gave covering fire from the dunes, while the remainder of the battalion pressed forward up the gentle slopes of the hill in short well rehearsed rushes. The Turkish battalion fled and at 0600 hours, Hill 10, which should have been captured by another unit hours earlier, was in the hands of the Dorsets.

The Turks withdrew and the Dorsets followed. After a sharp firefight, Hill 28, a mile across the Suvla Plain, was captured when the Turks 'lacking the stomach for a close quarter bayonet fight' again withdrew in the face of 5th Dorset's seemingly relentless advance. Casualties had been relatively light but to advance further would have isolated the battalion, as other units were still well behind the Dorsets. Consequently, Colonel Hannay was ordered to halt. Unfortunately, there was no water on Hill 28 and the men spent the day sweltering in the sun and without information or orders, the Commanding Officer went back to find the Brigadier at the beach. Meanwhile, patrols were dispatched into the gullies leading down from the ridge to the left, while half the battalion provided flank support to a chaotic attack mounted by the rest of their Division on the Chocolate Hill area. Overall, the Suvla landing had fallen well below expectation but 5th Dorsets had done all that had been asked of them and more. The verdict of the day was:

'... when energy and determination might have retrieved the situation, inactivity and depression had prevailed in Brigade Headquarters .. and much that might have been secured had been left untaken.'