Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Turkish Guns on the 400 Plateau

There are a number of different people who were attributed with the capture of Turkish artillery guns on the day of the landing - Lt Loutit (10 Bn), Lt Talbot-Smith (10 Bn) and Corporal Harrison (9 Bn).
Charles Bean also mentions another battery of abandoned Hotchkiss mountain guns which is discovered by Lt Hooper (5 Bn) which no-one is credited with actually capturing.

Bean credits CPL Harrison with the capture of the guns on the 400 Plateau, near “The Cup”. However, in “Silent Voices” a history of the 10th Battalion in the Great War, Robert Kearney quotes a section of LT Loutit’s account of his time on the day of the landing. The quote comes from an interview which was conducted many years after the event which Loutit begins with “Now this is a story I have not told many people…” He then relates how he and his men captured the Turkish guns.
So now I have two versions of the same event… once again, I have to make a decision “Which way do I go?”

I had considered the possibility of one group capturing one battery, while another captured the second battery of guns. I could easily see how either group could have done this, but then I’d be making stuff up, and I don’t want to start furphies.
Chris Roberts in his book “The Landing at Anzac – 1915” is quite certain there was only one battery of guns in the vicinity at the time. Although he doesn’t address the issue of the Hotchkiss guns specifically, it is clear from his research that he concludes there were not two batteries there. So what’s to be done about the account of LT Hooper, and later LT Derham (5 Bn) who fought at the position of the Hotchkiss guns for at least 6 hours. Were they making up their story of a second battery of guns?
Or was it just an empty battery position? I considered this, but why then does Bean specifically say they were “Hotchkiss guns”? If it was an empty position the type and make of the guns would be hard to ascertain. Hooper was later killed at the battle for Lone Pine in August, but after the War Derham provided Bean with a sketch of the layout and other details of the position.
Was it the same battery that Loutit and Harrison captured at the Cup? I considered this option, but Derham was certain his position was on the South eastern corner of the Lone Pine, and Bean believes he found evidence of a battery position there when he did his fact finding mission in 1919.

It seems incredible that the Turks would simply abandon a battery of guns – this is sacrilege to any gunner, unless they were all killed at the scene, as described by CPL Harrison. In Gallipoli Mission, Bean tells how he found the remains of eight Turkish soldiers with two horses or mules nearby, which could have been part of a gun team.

Then there is LT Talbot-Smith whose 10th Bn scouts were actively looking for the guns on the 400 Plateau. This was their primary task upon landing. Their account is not mentioned anywhere, but Talbot-Smith is attributed with capturing guns by his Commanding Officer. He was fatally wounded later in the day so was never interviewed by Bean. Perhaps he and his scouts captured the Hotchkiss guns.

After all this I’m left with a lot of questions with no clear answers. What I have decided to do, is blend Loutit’s and Harrison’s accounts of the capture of the guns at the Cup; and related Hooper’s and Derham’s story as Bean tells it. Not wanting to speculate too much I have decided that the capture of the Hotchkiss guns and poor old Talbot-Smith’s story will remain forever unknown. Whether they are linked no-one can tell.

Captain Milne's group had chased the Turks from M'Cay's Hill, east
 to the Lone Pine. Milne then headed south.

A birds eye view of the photo below
Although the arrow shows Milne heading east - he had
by this time turned to the south.

Taken from Johnston's Jolly looking south towards the Lone Pine.
 The Daisy Patch would be just to the right of the monument, and
the Cup is the gully just to the left of the monument. 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

My Page Creation Sequence

This blog entry is a rough over-view of the process I follow when drawing a page for my book. I'm sorry to say the pictures in this blog are from photographs, and therefore a bit dodgy.

After the initial research and working out the script and layout I begin drawing the final artwork.
I use a mechanical pencil with an HB lead, on A3 Bristol Board which is available in pads. This is convenient for me because I don't need to cut larger sheets down to size.
I made up a template to mark in the page border with panels already measured out for up to 8 panels. These are varied as required, but usually I stick to 6 to 8 panels per page. The template saves having to measure and mark each page. I just lay it on the page and mark the outside border. Then use a T-square and set-square to rule the panels.
I then rule the lines for the text using a Linex ruling guide. I've seen these advertised in "How To" books as "Ames" ruling guides. These make ruling the lines very easy and always the same size. I bought mine at Eckersley's in 2009.
Inking the text
Then I pencil in the text, and edit the story as needed to fit it into the available room in the panel. This is often tricky as only so many words will fit into a given space. I have tried at all times to have no more the 12 lines of text per panel. Six at the top and 6 at the bottom. Any more and the panel is way too "wordy". So then begins a game of linguistic gymnastics to find words that mean the same thing but are smaller, etc.
Once this is finished I draw the pictures using as much reference material as I can find.
Then I began to ink the text with a firm pen like a Post Office nib. All the lettering is done by hand; no digital for me.

Borders finished, and Contour lines being added.

I then ruled the borders, and drew speech balloons with an ellipse template and French Curves. Next I inked the drawings mostly in outline using dip pens or sable brush, with only a little shading and shadows. I like a flexible nib like a Gillot 303 for drawing. My favourite sables were Windsor & Newton #2 and #4, and also a Holcroft #4. 
Ready now to rub out the pencil lines.

The next stage was to rub out the pencil marks with a rubber that didn’t create big ‘crumbs’. The big crumbs tended to absorb some of the ink and when caught under the rubber in the rubbing motion they sometimes caused a black ink smear. This problem was probably the result of using low quality ink. 

Mistakes like these are fairly normal for me... worse luck.

Once all the pencil is rubbed out, I apply correction fluid to fix text or pen lines that are not right. (If not done in this order the correction fluid is liable to be dirtied from the act of removing the pencil marks.) I use white-out pens, and have recently read in a "How To"  book that this shouldn't be used. ???? I don't know why, because it works alright for me.

Finally I do the corrections to the text and/or the drawings; also add extra shading, and spot blacks as required.

Then start the next page.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Support from the Navy

During the invasion the Royal Navy provided a variety of support to the Anzacs

The freighter "Manica" was fitted out to carry an observation balloon which was used to spot Ottoman targets inland and beyond to the Dardenelles.

A number of battleships were made available to provide heavy gun support to the Anzacs as they landed and moved inland. They were also to disrupt enemy troop movements towards the area under attack.

H.M.S. Ark Royal was offshore and planes from it were used for various spotting and reconnaissance roles above the battlefield.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

A few panels

Here are a few interesting panels from my book

The first one gives a good indication of how eyewitness accounts vary in their description of of how deep the water was that they jumped into when landing. Some chaps said it was very deep and others only knee deep. Interesting to note the type of tucker the soldiers were given, and that they relied on firewood to heat it. This is one of the reasons why within a few weeks the landscape became virtually denuded of vegetation.

This next panel shows the "Sphinx", and also the cliffs of Sari Bair that some of the Anzacs actually climbed to get at the Ottoman defenders. Although Colonel Clark told his men to dump their packs, he decided to carry his to the top. He was half way up and struggling when another younger soldier caught up to him and suggested he leave the pack behind. Clark was determined to take it with him so the younger soldier carried it the rest of the way. Clarke was 57 years old!

This next exert shows the small group of Turks who were found in a small stone hut in Shrapnel Gully. It is said they were surprised in the hut as if they didn't know the Anzacs had landed. It seems a bit odd, but this event happened within the first 15 minutes, or so, of the Landing. So possibly they had been forgotten by their commanders when all the excitement started; and they themselves didn't hear the shooting on the other side of the MacLagen's Ridge, which is directly behind the hut they were in. Strange things can happen.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Tulloch & Reid, or Mason & Reid?

The northern flank of Anzac

As I have said before in another post, trying to put the different story-pieces of the jigsaw together is a dinkum challenge. For this reason some events I have included in my book are contrary to the line of Mr Charles Bean’s Official History. One being the story of Sergeant Mason (11 Battalion) who says he accompanied Lieutenant M. Reid (11Bn) on the morning of the Landing. Mason told his story to Chas Bean, but Bean chose not to include it in his book. I’m not sure why, because it seems to me that Mason is the only one who has left an account of the events near the Shepherd’s Hut on the morning of the Landing.

I think the reason Bean didn’t include SGT Mason’s account is that it conflicted with the account of Captain Tulloch (11Bn) who includes Reid in his story of events. Like me, David Cameron (author of “25 April 1915”), is unsure why Bean ignored Mason’s account, even though Cameron’s research revealed that Mason was regarded as a fellow with a “dependable, no nonsense” character. Cameron has loosely included Mason’s account, and Tulloch’s story both of which include reference to LT Reid being with them at different areas of the battlefield. As far as I can ascertain, there were not two LT M. Reid’s in the 11th Battalion on that day.

I have chosen to go along with Mason’s account, only juggling timings to try to get them to fit logically with Tulloch's story and other events. Bean, on the other hand tells only of Captain Tulloch’s adventure up the range, and almost totally ignores Mason’s fascinating story.

Possibly the trouble stems from confusing statements, some of which need careful study, clarification or expansion before being taken literally. When you read the statements written in Bean’s notebooks, you find that the stories are often all over the shop. One second someone will be talking about one area and then they’ll mention something they heard happened somewhere else. This is done usually without clarification and an unwary reader may come to the wrong conclusion. An example of this is revealed in Mason’s account when Bean records - in the morning his group went up onto Russell’s Top, and then mentions “Tulloch was wounded there & Lt Butler (12 Bn)”. The account then goes on to describe how Mason then went down to the Shepherd’s Hut. The casual reader may conclude from this that Tulloch and Butler were wounded before Mason and his party went down the slope, but they were not wounded until much later in the afternoon. According to Mason’s own account, he was not near these two officers for most of the day, so he probably heard the story of their wounding later, and was passing it on to Bean second or third hand.

In Captain Tulloch’s account, as told by Bean, Reid only plays a minor part. Whereas in SGT Mason’s story, Reid has a leading role in the events down at the Shepherd’s Hut.

The account of Reid’s fate in relation to Tulloch’s movements appears to be quite brief (but it is similar to Mason’s version); whereas Mason gives a much more detailed account, in comparison including things like "he said" and "we asked".

In the broad scheme of things, whether LT Reid was killed on Big 700 (Battleship Hill), or down near Outpost No1 is irrelevant to the whole story. But by telling Mason’s version I am able to tell the only available story of what happened on the northern flank; thus compelling me to tell Tulloch’s complete adventure up on Big 700, without mention of LT Reid.

So for these reason’s I’ve chosen to include LT Reid in Mason’s account, and fit it together with other events going on at the same time, as best as I can.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The AE2

AE1 setting out on its last patrol from Rabaul, 14 Sep 1914.

 The Australian Navy was represented at Gallipoli by the submarine AE2. One of two submarines which had been acquired from England before the War started. Its sister sub, the AE1, went missing during the earlier operations in the south-west Pacific in 1914. The AE2 was to have a major contribution to the building of the Anzac Legend.

The Dardenelles today
The AE2 began early in the morning of the 25th of April 1915, by sailing to the mouth of the Dardenelles, where it waited for the moon to set before beginning its mission - to pass through the Narrows into the Sea of Marmara, where it was to unsettle the Ottoman naval operations within.

Well, as Mr Malcolm Fraser (our old Prime Minister) is famous for saying “Life isn’t meant to be easy”. The odds against the AE2 even getting through the minefield were very much against it. With no radar, the Australian and British crew had to negotiate it by using the good old Braille method. Yes, that's right, by feel. The old subs weren’t equipped with radar in those days because the technology was still being developed.

"That's our first one sunk."
After somehow slipping through, they managed to sink an Ottoman gunboat. This was to prove to be a major influencing factor in the Allied commander, Sir Ian Hamilton, continuing the battle when the question of the operation's future was raised. Maybe Sir Ian saw it as a good omen or something. Of course there were other factors, but that’s how the event is told.

In a tight spot

Driven by their devotion to duty, the crew of the AE2 went on to have many hair raising adventures during its time in the Dardenelles on that momentous Sunday, before meeting its untimely fate a few days later. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Regarding Turkish Machine Guns at the Landing

In his book “The Landing At Anzac - 1915”, Brigadier Chris Roberts (Retired) brings into question the likelihood of machine guns opposing the Anzacs at the time of the Landing. His research included access to Turkish records which have become available in recent years. I’m not in a position to review his research material, but weighing up the pro’s and cons of the information available to me and remaining open minded, I think that BRIG Roberts’ does provide a plausible argument. But that doesn’t mean he is correct, though.
On the other side of the coin, the Turkish 2/27 Battalion was garrisoning the area north and south of Gaba Tepe at the time. Major Ismet, C.O. of the 2/27th Bn, is quoted (on page 9 of “25 April 1915” by David Cameron), stating tactical orders from General Liman Von Sanders to place “half a machine company (two guns) …. on the ridge behind Ari Burnu” and “in such a way as to bring the northern shore of Ariburnu and Kaba Tepe under direct fire”. If anyone was in a position to know what the defences consisted of at the time, Major Ismet was.

Part of BRIG Roberts’ argument is - the Turks only had a scattering of troops acting as warning posts along the coast at the time. They did not expect the Allies to land at Ari Burnu. Machine guns were a vital weapon for defence and a scarce commodity in the Ottoman Army, so why would they locate them at a spot where they didn’t expect the Allies to land? It makes sense that they would be centrally located back from the beach with the main reserve, awaiting the order to move to a threatened stretch of coast when the attack began.
If you wish to read BRIG Roberts’ essay (it's a good read) a version is available here 

The Turkish 2/27 Battalion had two and a half hours forewarning of the Anzac landing in the early hours of 25 April 1915. If half a MG company was supporting them, as reported by Major Ismet, I think they could have brought them into position within that time.

So which way do I lean in my book?

I originally included machine guns in the initial Ottoman defence at Ari Burnu, as detailed by Mr C.E.W. Bean in his book (The Story of Anzac, Official History Vol1). But after I read BRIG Roberts’ book, I decided to bend to the side of caution and remove such references.

Now you see it, now you don't.
The reason I have opted out of the argument is that I do not want to perpetuate erroneous details, one way or the other, if I can help it. I would like my book to be as readably accurate in 100 years, as it is on the date of publication. As I studied and wrote my book, I developed my own theories about why particular events happened, but I resisted the temptation to impose them on the story. Maybe a few have crept in, but this wasn’t my intention. My main aim was to present the Legend as it happened as far as we know, without distorting it any more then it already is. It’s an amazing story and should be available to everybody for their interpretation. By presenting the reported “facts” I have left it open to the reader to make their own decisions about why the attack failed, what decisions were crucial, etc. 

The omission of machine guns in the initial Ottoman defence does not change the story as told from my perspective. The Anzacs were opposed by heavy fire; whether it is machine gun or rifle fire is irrespective.  

Understandably human nature may have been the cause for errors made by eye witnesses, but we can’t rely solely on official documentation either, for the same reason. Remember, we “lost” 1370 votes in our most recent Federal election; so it’s possible that some relevant documents may have been misplaced in the intervening 98 years since the Landing took place. The trouble for modern historians is that they can only be guided by written accounts; whether they are in the form of official documentation, or personal diaries, letters, etc. What needs to be remembered is that these sources are not totally reliable.

As an example, an eyewitness records (page 33 of “25 April 1915” by David Cameron) that he “saw” a Turkish machine gun get set up and start firing before being knocked backwards by fire from a naval pinnace. How does an historian, relying purely on official documents, account for such statements? Can all such statements be entirely discounted as “fabrications”?

In his preface to the Official History Bean remarks that Turkish official records “are most unreliable” and even some British records are inaccurate. This warning is not heeded by many historians who appear to be only too ready to discard original versions of events, in favour of “new theories”. This is not intended to be a slight on BRIG Roberts’ essay (which I consider very valid, and his book is excellent), but rather an asterisk on the danger historian’s face when relying on “official documentation” only.

Mr Bean has attempted to tell it as best he could, without obvious bias or discretion. He relied on his personal experience (as he was there on the day of the landing and afterwards), documentation, interviews within days of the landing and correspondence with eye witnesses. No one was in a better position then he to write the Official History. This coupled with his desire to preserve an accurate record of Australians in the Great War resulted in a detailed and, as much as is possible, reliable account.

The further we get from the event the more questions seem to arise. Some have credence, some are pure red herrings. Whatever the facts were, they are continually being challenged and questioned. The truth will never be set in concrete and, it seems to me, the further we get from the event the more blurry the view becomes.

For further reading, I highly recommend all three of the books I’ve mentioned in this blog post; plus of course “The Anzac Legend” when it is published.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Problems for the Covering Force

As outlined in the comic “Gallipoli: The Landing” (Z Beach True Comics) by Hugh Dolan and Mal Gardiner, ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) was ordered to land between Gaba Tepe and the Fisherman’s Hut and capture the heights of Hill 971. General Birdwood, the Anzac commander, was allowed to make his own plans, so he decided to land his Corps on the beach north of Gaba Tepe and south of Ari Burnu.

The first troops to land (the 3rd Australian Brigade) were called the “Covering Force”, and were to hit the beach just south of Anzac Cove (Brighton Beach). They had only to cross a low plateau and a number of low spurs to reach their objective – the Third Ridge. Only one and a half to 2 kilometres distant, and possibly could be achieved in less then an hour.

The low hills behind the planned landing place.

Turkish defence was quite light, and as it turned out, whenever encountered it was easily swept aside by the Anzac’s superior numbers. The 2nd Brigade would secure Hill 971 afterwards.

But as most of us know, the Covering Force landed about 1600 metres further north then expected. The reasons for this have been speculated ever since. The tide? A sudden change of plans? Human error? Enemy interference? Or even - the original intention was to land where they did, but the plan was kept secret from everybody, except Birdwood and the admiral in charge? A book, by David Winter “25 April 1915”, was written and explores all these possibilities. 

There was an enquiry into the Campaign in 1917, where Gen Birdwood and others gave evidence at a court hearing, and Birdwood stated that they basically landed where they were intended to. This is true; because most of the 1st Australian Division and the NZ&A Div (New Zealand and Australian Division) were earmarked to land in, or near Anzac Cove. Also, if things got too hot from the Ottoman defensive fire at Gaba Tepe, the Navy was to land the remaining troops north of Anzac Cove. But for the Covering Force the shift of a mile northwards made it very difficult for it to achieve its goals.
The Covering Forces planned move inland, with the 2nd Brigade arriving offshore close behind them.
Instead of a few low spurs to cross, the Covering Force had to negotiate the steep cliffs of Sari Bair and the ones above Anzac Cove. Then negotiate the deep winding valleys behind and their associated cliffs.

It took approximately two and a half hours for only a small number of the Covering Force (roughly 160 men in three scattered groups) to finally reach the Third Ridge, or parts of it. These Australians were soon confronted by the leading Ottoman reserve troops (these were the tip of a force of 2000 men).
LT Plant (9 Bn) and his platoon, on the Third ridge, see the approaching Ottoman troops.
The rest of the Covering Force, over 3500 men, were scattered from Baby 700, along the Second Ridge to the 400 plateau.

Although the troops of the Covering Force went as fast as they could, they couldn’t reach their goal quick enough. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Initial Allied Naval Attacks on the Dardenelles

In 1915, Turkey, as we know it today, existed as the central part of the Ottoman Empire. It consisted of a large area encompassing many countries around the Mediterranean and further afield. The generic term Ottoman Turk was used to describe the people who at that time were part of the Empire, without being more specific – i.e. Anatolian, Arab, Syrian, etc. Similar to how the name Australian is used to describe people from Tasmania, Victoria, etc. Generally in my book, when referencing the Turks, I have used Ottoman or Turk rather then using specific regional, or country names.
Constantinople was the centre of the Byzantine Empire when it was conquered by the Crusaders in 1203 AD
The Allied plan to eliminate the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) from the war was to sail through the Dardenelles to Constantinople (now Istanbul). Then, after shelling the city, accept the Sultan’s surrender and open Russia’s warm water supply line through the Black Sea. Further explanation of this plan is quite irrelevant, as the Allies didn’t get very far into it before things began to bog down.

It was to be a purely naval undertaking, so the British and French navies began their attempts to breach the Dardenelles defences on the 19 Feb 1915.
They soon found that the Ottoman defences were sturdier then expected.
Instead of making a large decisive thrust, they began with small attacks which were unsuccessful. Naturally after each attack the Turks improved their defences to meet the next attack. So eventually the “formidable” defences became impregnable.

After many frustrated attempts to silence the shore based artillery, the Allies switched their attention to the minefields in the Narrows. With converted North Sea fishing trawlers and civilian crews they set to the task. This was done at night under the cover of darkness, but the Ottoman’s had searchlights sweeping the waters and every attempt failed.
Thwarted again, the next step for the Allies was to launch an enormous all-out attack to silence the Turkish artillery which was preventing the mine sweepers from doing their task. Eighteen battleships were concentrated in the Mediterranean to achieve a decisive victory. This huge fleet must have been a daunting sight to the Turks as it sailed into the cramped confines of the Dardenelles.

The attack started well for the Allies but by the end of the day, the only people cheering were the Turks.

Turkey still celebrates the anniversary of this battle, on the 18th of March 1915, as "Victory Day".

Friday, 18 October 2013

First actions by Anzac troops in Egypt

The Anzac troops first saw action in February 1915 when the Ottoman Army attacked Egypt from the east. This attack was unexpected as they had to cross the Sinai desert to reach the Suez Canal. A feat hitherto thought to be impossible for a large force. The Ottoman VIII Corps from Syria exhausted themselves doing it. The New Zealanders, who were encamped at Zeitoun, were called to assist the British and Indian troops in repelling the attack. It was during this battle that the EnZeds lost their first soldier killed in action in The Great War.

The next “battle” involved soldiers from both Australia and New Zealand – it is known as “The Battle of the Wozza”. It occurred in Cairo two days before the Anzacs left for the Gallipoli campaign. A few soldiers held grievances against the hotel and brothel owners in Cairo’s red light district, and after hearing they were about to embark, they went to “settle accounts”. The 5th Battalion Unit Historian described the area as “a festering sink of iniquity that was well purged by fire”. The resulting fracas was labelled a riot; however most of the Anzacs who were there were mere spectators and did not take part in the violence. It did however give the Anzacs a bad name for unruly behaviour which was to follow them for a long time.

(There was a “Second Battle of the Wazza” which occurred later in July, after the 1st Division had left for Gallipoli, and was more serious, with a number of buildings being burnt down.)