Gallipoli - The Helles Landings: The Allied commanders believed that controlling the Dardanelles could have ended the war by forcing a negotiated settlement without the intervention of the United States. In attacking the Dardanelles the plan by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, was draw German troops from the Western Front to help Turkey. Success would further mean that British allies, the Russians, could use the Dardanelles for use by their Black Sea fleet. Churchill had Naval backing for the operation, but Kitchener, however, was not prepared to transfer soldiers from the Western Front. Kitchener’s new armies were still in training and the regular army was fully stretched in Flanders.
There was one Division of the regular army which had not been used, this was the 29th Division. It contained the 1st Battalion of the Royal Dublin, Munster and Inniskilling Fusiliers. At the outbreak of war in 1914, the 1st Battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers had been based at Madras in India. On the 19th of November 1914, they sailed from back from Bombay arriving at Plymouth on the 21st of December 1914. They were billeted at Torquay until St. Patrick’s Day 1915, when they left from Avonmouth and sailed to the Aegean island of Lemnos on board the ship, Ausonia.
Before they eventually they left Torquay for the frontlines, the 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Rooth, handed over the regimental colours to the town Mayor for safe-keeping. There was later a sad final act at Torquay on Boxing Day 1918, when the town mayor handed back the regimental colours of the Dubliners to a Guard from the 1st Dublin Fusiliers, the colours having hung in the Council Chamber for four years. Out of a battalion 1,100 strong that had arrived in Torquay 4 years previously, only 40 were now left, the regiment having been decimated by the landing at Suvla Bay and the next 4 years of war..
The 1st Battalion sailed from Avonmouth for Gallipoli on 16 March 1915, going via Alexamdria and Mudros, where their transport anchored on 9 April.
They were part of 86th Infantry Brigade under Brigadier-General S. W. Hare. On the 23rd April 1915, ship after ship steamed out of Mudros Harbour with an army made up of British, Colonial and French troops, sailing through the line of battleships and smaller warships, which cheered them on their way. The Royal Munster and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in the S.S. River Clyde; the Brigade Headquarters were in the mine-sweeper S.S. Whitby Abbey.
29th Division had orders to land at the southern tip of the Dardanelles peninsula, at Cape Helles. It proved to be an extremely unsuitable landing place. The beaches were either open beaches without any cover, or else the land rose straight up from the sea, and in either case defensive positions with machine gun emplacements could desimate troops landing from the sea.. The British plan of attack was first a naval bombardment of the Turkish positions around the Village of Sedd-el-Bahr, followed by a landing of troops. The naval bombardment failed to destroy the Turkish defences before the troops landed.
The night before the attack on the 25th of April, none of the men could sleep on board the Clyde through fear and apprehension. Cocoa was issued all round. At 0500 hours, the navy began their bombardment of the Turkish positions around the village of Sedd-el-Bahr. Before the Dublins and Munsters approached the beaches, their Brigade Commander addressed his men saying, ‘Fusiliers, our brigade has the honour of the first to land.’
25 April 1915 - At 06.25, the naval bombardment stopped and the skipper of the Clyde, Commander Unwin, ran her aground on the beach just under the ancient Fort at Sedd-el-Bahr. The section of the beach assigned to the Dublin and Munster Fusiliers was called 'V' Beach.
The S S Clyde landing at Gallipoli
Along with the Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Hampshire Regiment, they landed off a steam collier called the SS River Clyde. Sides had been cut out of the Clyde and the landing plan was for the Clyde to be beached and that the 2000 men inside her would run down wooden gangways onto pontoons that had been dragged near the shore alongside the ship. From the pontoons the men would jump onto the beach and advance inland to fight the Turks. Machine gun fire would cover the men coming ashore. But it all went wrong. The German commander advising with the Turks, General Von Sanders, knew that Cape Helles was a vitally important part of the peninsula to defend so he had heavily defended it with barbed wire under the water, and along the ridge he placed more wire and machine-gun placements.
The Dubliners, Munsters and Hampshires did not stand a chance. Further round the Cape Helles headland, Australians and New Zealand forces tried to land as well. They too were held back by brave Turks. Here are some other eye-witness accounts.
About this time three companies of Royal Dublin Fusiliers and one platoon of Anson Battallion RND embarked from mine sweepers into six tows of boats, each made up of a pinnace and four cutters. They were intended to land half an hour in advance of the men from the River Clyde. Five tows onto V beach and 1 tow to Camber, a small harbour to the right of V beach. Captain Guy Nightingale who was on the Clyde wrote in a letter dated 1 May 1915 - the water was shallower than they thought and the Clyde was stuck about 80 yards out ... None of us felt it, there was no jar. As she beached 2 Companies of the Dublins in "Tows" came up on the Port side and were met with a terrific rifle and machine gun fire. They were literally slaughtered like rats in a trap. Many men sank owing to the weight of their equipment and were drowned. The carnage on 'V' Beach was chilling, dead and wounded lay at the waters edge tinted crimson from their blood......... After being set adrift by their steam pinnaces, the boats had to row the last few hundred yards to the shore. The Turks waited until the men tossed their oars and were within 20 yards of the shore and swept them with fire.......... Lt Col Tizzard said - I donï think that out of the 240 men in the boats more than 40 got ashore without being hit. Most were killed outright, many sank from exhaustion and loss of blood and were drowned, the water by this time was red with blood ........ As each boat got near the shore snipers shot down the oarsmen. The boats then began to drift, and machine gun fire was turned onto them, you could see the men dropping everywhere, and of the first boat load of 40 men only 3 reached the shore, all wounded. In his diary entry for 25 April 1915 he says the Dublins lost 21 Officers and 560 men in 15 minutes. The River Clyde was later re-floated and renamed, and was used as a cargo vessel by various companies until finally scrapped in 1966.
The Brigade Staff landed on beach "W." They saw that no troops appeared to have moved on to the high ground. The Brigade-Major and Staff-Captain, returned to the beach with the idea of getting troops forward on to Hill 138 and Hill 141, to take the Turkish redoubts thereon, and to assist the advance of the Royal Munster and Royal Dublin Fusiliers from "V" Beach, also to establish Brigade Headquarters at the ruined light-house, which had previously been named as a spot to which all reports should be sent when a footing had been secured. This lighthouse proved to be within two hundred yards of a Turkish redoubt.
The Signal Section got into touch with Divisional Headquarters on board H.M.S. Euryahis, with the River Clyde aground at Sedd-el-Bahr. Throughout this day at Brigade Headquarters there was doubt as to the exact situation at Sedd-el-Bahr. By running from the lighthouse and then slipping over the edge of the cliff, the signalers could reach a apot from which the River Clyde could be seen ; and visual communication was established with the 88th Brigade Signal Section, who worked behind iron plates on the bridge of the collier. The men from the Clyde could get no further, and the cliff was unclimbable. There were very few ashore and almost all wounded. There appeared to be a line of men holding a ridge across the beach, but who made no progress. It transpired later that they were dead, cut down by machine-gun fire as they made a rush. The messages, which came by helio, gave the impression that great difficulties were being encountered. In fact, on that day "V" beach was impossible to live upon, and, almost, to land upon, although attempt after attempt was made. The Commanding Officer was killed : the troops left on board were sheltering behind iron plating.
"V" Beach is a sandy strip some 9 metres wide and 320 metres long, backed along almost the whole of it's length by a low sandy escarpment about 3 metres high, where the ground almost falls nearly sheer down to the beach. Behind it is a concave grassy slope rising (at first gradually) to the cliff edge between Sedd el Bahr village and Cape Helles. The landing at "V" Beach, in the early morning of the 25th April, 1915, was to be made by boats containing three companies of the1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers, followed by the collier "River Clyde" with the rest of the Dublins, the first Royal Munster Fusiliers, half the second Hampshire Regiment, and other troops. The place was very strongly fortified, and during the 25th the landing was partially secured at the cost of very heavy casualties
Out of the first 200 men down the gangway, 149 were killed outright and 30 were wounded. The packs the men were carrying were sixty pounds in weight. Due to this, many of the Irish were drowned when they jumped into the water trying to get ashore. Some of the Dublins did manage to get ashore. Tim Buckley, a Munster Fusilier from Macroom in Co. Cork, described the utter panic the men suffered in those few moments waiting to get down the gangway onto the cover of the barge pontoons. He wrote,
When my turn came I was wiser than my comrades. The moment I stood on the gangway, I jumped over the rope and on to the pontoon. Two more did the same, and I was already flat on the bridge. Those two chaps were at each side of me, but not for long, as the shrapnel was bursting all around. I was talking to the chap on my left when I saw a lump of lead enter his temple. I turned to the chap on my right, his name was Fitzgerald from Cork, but soon he was over the border. The one piece of shrapnel had done the job for two of them.
Fr. William Finn, a Carmelite priest serving on the English Mission in the Province of Liverpool, joined the Dublin Fusiliers on their arrival in England from India. Though Father Finn was hit in the chest getting down the gangway, he managed to scramble ashore but was hit again while administering absolution to a dying soldier. The soldiers in the barges fared no better. Sgt. J. Mc Colgan who was hit in the leg, was in a boat with thirty two men, only six of whom came out alive. He recalled,
One fellows brains were shot into my mouth as I was shouting to them to jump for it. I dived into the sea. Then came the job to swim with my pack and one leg useless. I managed to pull out the knife and cut the straps and swim ashore. All the time bullets were ripping around me.
And from a naval account
The sailing pinnace of the Cornwallis followed out the same plan as regards the filling up with troops, and took sixty of the Dublin Fusiliers. The tow to which they were attached was slipped near the River Clyde, and they began to pull ashore with their own oars, with five men of the Cornwallis to give a professional backing to the unskilled efforts of the loaded-up soldiers. It was impossible to gather accurate details as to what happened, but the state of the boat when picked up on the following day, full of dead and riddled with holes, showed that the fire under which it came had swept the boat clear of living beings. Every sailor at the oars, with the exception of Ward, A.B., was shot down; and on seeing this, Petty Officer Medhurst, coxwain of the boat, sang out, " Jump out, lads, and pull her in !" There was only himself and Ward to answer the call, and out the two of them got, one on the port side and the other on the starboard. Only three soldiers are believed to have got ashore all the others were killed in the boat or in the water as they landed. Two of them saved their lives by remaining alongside Ward in the water under the lee of the gunwale from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Medhurst was at first safe, but when the stern of the pinnace swung to the tide, he was exposed to the enemy's fire, and he was not seen again until we recovered his body from the water on the following day. By the time the Cornwallis took up her position off V Beach there was no attacking and no further landing of large numbers of troops, as the impossibility of taking Sedd-ul-Bahr and the ridge was realized. The remainder of the men allotted to V Beach were deflected to W Beach. It was comparatively quiet.
Willie Burn, a Dublin Fusilier from East Wall in Dublin, was shot in the chest trying to get ashore that day. He remembered the medical orderly opening his tunic and the blood spouting out. Willie was sent to a hospital ship in Malta. The surgeon could not remove the bullet lodged in his chest, so it remained there for sixty years. Willie returned to Ireland and after the war got married. Between Willie and his wife Elizabeth, they reared a family of eleven children. Willie died on the 2nd of March 1976, at the age of eighty one and was buried in Deansgrange Cemetery following a service in Leopardstown Park Hospital.
Another correspondent from the front was William Harris of Shrewleen Lane, who wrote a letter to his mother Ellen, which was published in the Leinster Leaderof 7 August 1915. It gave a first-hand account, and a graphic one at that, of the awful realities of war. Here is what he had to say of the Dublin Fusiliers landing on the Dardanelles. “On April 25th, before we got within 200 yards of the shore, we were under the heaviest shell and rifle fire that was ever known in the history of the war. When we came within 25 or 30 yards of the shore, our boats stopped. There was nothing for it only to swim ashore. Some got out all right, others were wounded and some never came out and may God rest them. It was only by chance anyone got out, for whichever way you swam that day you faced death. I will never forget when we got on land that morning at 5.30am in our wet clothes. Byrne and I, a chap named Keegan from Dublin and our officer were the only ones left of our platoon. We fell on our hands and faces and dared not move from that position for if we put up a finger we were shot. We lay there for 13_ hours and I saw some of our brave friends, the Munsters, alongside me blown to pieces - heads, arms and everything off. Byrne was right behind me, his head touching my boots, yet near as I was I was afraid to twist my head to see if he was alive. The officer and Byrne got wounded later (note. Byrne died of his wounds on 25 July) I think I am the only member of the platoon who was not, but thank God.” Harris’s letter recounted previous narrow escapes which allowed him to survive the war.
26th April 1915 The night was dark. The survivors of the troops in the River Clyde landed at Sedd-el-Bahr and began their task ashore. On the 26th April the troops from Sedd-el-Bahr cleared the village, captured the old Castle Ridge, and, in conjunction with the troops on Hill 138, cleared Hill 141. The Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Dublin Fusiliers with a half-battalion of the Hampshire regiment did magnificently. Their force of arms drove back superior numbers of the Turks into headlong rout.
On the morning of the 26th, Colonel Doughty-Wylie and Captain Walford, who were killed during the fight, had led the survivors on the beach to the capture of Sedd el Bahr village and the Old Castle above it.. On the evening of the 26th, the main body of the French Corps began to land at "V" Beach, and after the advance on the 27th the front line was nearly three kilometres beyond it.
27 April 1915. The fighting of April 25th and 26th had secured the landing at Cape Helles, but the losses were heavy and the British forces were still far from their objective of Achi Baba. The country in front of them was an expanse of low ground covered with scrub and long grass with a few trees, and cultivated in places, forming a saucer shaped depression between the heights already taken and the greater height of Achi Baba. The enemy's position was uncertain.
28 April 1915. On April the 28th, Private John Donovan from the parish of St. Ann’s in Cork was killed. Roughly four months later, on the 21st of August, his two brothers Denis and David were killed on the same day in the same bloody conflict that was Gallipoli.
On the 28th April the 86th Brigade, having reorganized, was at first employed in reserve. At 8 a.m. they entrenched a position in support of the main attack. At 11.30 a.m. Major-General Marshall, who was temporarily commanding the three brigades of British infantry, gave orders for the 86th Brigade to join in the main attack. The Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers formed the reserve. Commanding officers were interviewed personally by the Brigadier, who explained the situation and the orders. The 88th Brigade were in difficulties, and a Staff Officer sent back for assistance. Unluckily the message did not reach Headquarters, but did reach some portions of both the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and some of these were diverted, unorganized, into the 88th Brigade, and lost touch with their own. These battalions had lost many officers on the 25th and 26th, and were moving in small parties, in artillery formation, to avoid the effect of shrapnel fire. In consequence the 86th Brigade lost the power of giving weight to their movement.
Major-General Marshall gave orders for the ammunition to be taken forward and for the 86th Brigade to push on. Some fifty of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers loaded themselves with bandoliers full of ammunition, and were led to the firing line by the Brigade-Major. The firing line was found to be taking advantage of some natural cover, and was sufficiently protected to avoid many casualties. The ammunition was passed down the line and the party sent back under Sergeant Fergusson, R.D.F., whose services were most valuable. The little party remained in observation and were able to make a good reconnaissance, then, as no further advance was made, the Turks began to come back. A private soldier of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was hit in the groin, and when he was bound up, those remaining crawled back with him into the undergrowth of the slope rising to the wood, and lay down. There were left then Second Lieutenant Needham, one Royal Dublin Fusilier, and the Brigade-Major. The Turks came up quite close, and a machine gun opened fire some forty yards away, firing obliquely under cover of the wood and making use of the de- pression in the ground. The party of three decided to bolt ; they crawled into the wood, and did what was possible to find if there was any one left there alive, but apparently the wounded had got clear. Both sides were now firing at the wood, and nothing could be seen of the British, every one had gone back. When the Brigade-Major went to arrange for the consolidation of the position, only one officer of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers was left. Lieutenant O'Hara, who rose to every occasion with the greatest coolness and competence, from commanding a platoon at the terrible landing from the River Clyde to the command of a company the next day, and after the 28th April to commanding the battalion.
After thirty six hours of fighting to get ashore, 2nd Lieut Desmond O’Hara, from Ballincollig in Cork and 374 other ranks, were all that remained out of a Dublin Fusiliers 1st Battalion strength of 25 officers and 987 men of other ranks. They had lost 637 men in thirty six hours. The first man into the Fort at Sedd-el-Bahr was a Dublin Fusilier named Private Tom Cullen, army number 10113, from Old Kilmainham. For his bravery he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. (Regrettably Private Cullen was killed fighting with the 6th Battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers in Salonika, on October the 4th,1916. He was buried in the Struma Cemetery, Greece.) There were so few of the Dublins and Munsters left, that they joined together to form a single battalion, calling themselves, The Dubsters. W and X Companies from the RMF, and Y and Z Companies from the RDF. Dubsters were on the Eski line about half way between Sedd Al Baar and Krithia. They attempted to take the woods by the "poppy field".
30 April 1915.
On the morning of the 30th Colonel H. G. Casson, was appointed to command the brigade. About 1. 10 p.m. a strong skirmishing line was observed to be advancing from the direction of Achi Baba. The Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers were temporarily amalgamated into one unit under Major Hutchinson, and held the right of the section allotted to the brigade ; The strength of the brigade had been reduced to — 2nd Royal Fusiliers, 12 officers, 481 other ranks; 1St Lancashire Fusiliers, 11 officers, 399 other ranks; 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, 12 officers, 596 other ranks; 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers, I officer, 374 other ranks ; from the normal strength per battalion of 26 officers and (approximately) 1000 other ranks.
During the landing and initial operations, 25/4/1915 to 30/4/1915, the 1st Dublins lost a total of 10 officers and 153 other ranks killed, 13 officers and 329 other ranks wounded and 21 other ranks missing, with the result that, by 30/4/1915 all that remained in the field of the original battalion, was one officer and 374 other ranks (the battalion had been 901 strong when landing from the River Clyde). The casualties were so overwhelming that the decision was taken to amalgamate the 1st Dublins with the 1st Battalion Royal Munster Fusiliers, who has also suffered enormous casualties, on 30/4/1915, the composite battalion being known as the "Dubsters"
At the beginning of the Gallipoli expedition there had been confidence of a quick success but the difficulty of the task and the strength of the enemy had been underestimated. After nine weeks of continuous fighting the 29th Division and other troops at Cape Helles had fought their way to the outskirts of Krithia with heavy losses.
1 May 1915
On May 1st the first point in the British front to be attacked was the trench astride the Kirte Dere, where one of the assaulting columns had outdistanced the troops on either flank. Here the attack met with momentary success. The Munster and Dublin Fusiliers were driven from a portion of their trench and a number of Turks poured through the gap. But the success was short-lived. A company of the Royal Fusiliers under Captain North Bomford regained the lost trench and the 1/5th R. Scots who were in reserve, succeeded in driving back the Turks who had penetrated the British Line.' The fighting was particularly fierce on this occasion. It is noted that Turkish orders were for rifles not to be loaded and bayonets only were to be used. The OH quotes the Turkish order issued by Col. von Sodenstern; "Attack the enemy with the bayonet and utterly destroy him"
Sniping was continuous, and late in the day the position was heavily shelled. Brigade Headquarters had been established under shelter of the walls about a ruined stone farm-house, later known as Fig Tree Farm, close to the firing line, because it had been desirable for many reasons to be on the spot. Here were beautiful fig-trees and a garden, grown wild with flowers in bloom. In the afternoon General Hunter-Weston visited the line and ordered Brigade Headquarters to be moved further back. On the ist May the day was spent in strengthening the position and resting the men. Reinforcements, stores, and guns were landed.
The fiercest fighting was against the Irish regiments, who were defending the weakest part of the line and bore the greatest weight of the attack. When the masses were checked close to the British line, Germans could be heard cursing, and the sound of blows as they tried to urge on the Turks. In the morning there were dead in piles close to the British trenches. A certain number of the enemy came in and gave themselves up. At dawn the sight was wonderful ; the countryside alive with the enemy in retreat, the French artillery and our own dealing death to them with shrapnel. Many snipers were left close to the line, and the sniping on the 2nd May was very severe. A counter-attack was ordered, but owing to the absence of adequate artillery support and the heavy fire to which our troops were subjected from the moment of showing themselves beyond the trenches, no progress was made and the line previously held was resumed.
Royal Dublin Fusiliers were relieved later that day and went to reserves. They returned to firing line 4th and in action 7th.
3 May 1915 The night of the 2nd — 3rd May there was an attack by the enemy, but it was not seriously pressed. The 3rd May was quiet, and was spent by both sides in bringing in wounded and burying dead. Subsequently the Turks never permitted this. That night there was continuous firing and shelling by the enemy.
19 May 1915 The battalion history, Neil's Bluecaps, describes as the "scanty reinforcements" that reached the 1st Dublins at Helles, comprising 3 officers (Captains C.B. Riccard, W.F. Stirling and Adrian Taylor), 1 sergeant, 2 corporals and 43 privates from the battalion reserves at Mudros, along with another officer from the 3rd Dublins and 4 officers from the 9th Battalion Somerset Light Infantry, a total reinforcement of just 54 officers and men. After receiving these meagre reinforcements, the 1st Dublins was reconstituted as a separate unit, on 19/5/1915
30 May 1915. Three shots were fired from our battery on Tekke Burnu about 6.30 p.m. and at once all the destroyers darted out to sea. Evidently a submarine had been sighted. It is now getting dark, and the sea is covered with our mosquito craft darting about in all directions. We employ several hundred Greeks, mostly road making. They receive 2s. 6d. a day and their food. All those working at the Beach struck work to-day, demanding higher wages, and retired to their shelter holes in the cliff. A company of Dublin Fusiliers was called out, and fixing bayonets they kicked the mutineers out of their holes, and all were driven into a corner at the foot of the rocks, the open side shut in by a line of bayonets, and there they are to be kept, without food and water till they come to their senses. The Greek nation has always been greedy, always unreliable, and the most notorious liars on the face of the earth.
We got to the spot at Achi Baba where the Munsters and the Dublin Fusiliers, during a gallant advance, had been enfiladed by machine-gun fire and literally mown down. From the trench we had occupied we could see the men lying just as they had fallen, while trying to take cover. There they were, on the open ground, absolutely riddled with bullets, and with their packs on, and their rifles and bayonets and everything else. They had been lying there for about a fortnight, because it was impossible to do anything in the way of burying them, owing to the enemy's incessant fire and sniping. Things hereabouts were particularly horrible. We went into a Turkish trench that had been taken, and started to make a fire-trench. We pulled away the old sandbags and dug away at the parapet with our picks. There was a horrible stench, but we were used to smells and did not take much notice of it till we found that the picks had a lot of foul stuff on them which we could not account for; but we soon discovered that the parapet was composed of the dead bodies of Turks which had been piled up and just covered with earth, the sandbags being placed on the top of the wall of corpses. In this same trench there was a well which had been covered with planks. Naturally enough we began to explore it, not that we expected to get anything to drink from it, and when we had removed the planks we found that the well, which we calcu lated was ten or twelve feet deep, had a lot of dead Turks in it. We counted six of them, and had enough of the job, so we put the planks back, and felt that our curiosity had been satisfied.
21 June 1915 - I passed in The Gully what remained of the Dublin Fusiliers, less than a company. They were parading in their gas respirators, their M.O. lecturing them, and saying that if a rifle is a soldier's best friend, his respirator should come next. We are all provided with these.
28 June 1915. Their next major action was at Gully Ravine and commenced on 28 June, ending on 2 July. During the battle of Gully Ravine, General Hunter-Weston attempted to advance north along the western Gallipoli coastline, and thereby shorten the line of the salient at the centre of his front line. Though the initial attack took all its objectives, on the two following nights the Turks launched concerted counter-attacks during which the 1st Dublins suffered enormous casualties, the battalion losing on 28th - 29th June 236 officers and men killed, wounded and missing.
October 1915. Dublin Castle named
In early October 1915 Lord Kitchener requested information from Sir Ian Hamilton, the Gallipoli land forces commander, about the possible human cost of an evacuation. Hamilton's terse reply was an estimate of 50% casualties. Hamilton was replaced within 24 hours by General Sir Charles Monro, who after three days inspection of the peninsula recommended a total withdrawal of all forces. The politicians were unable to decide - a withdrawal would be an admission of failure, even defeat. Kitchener himself came to Gallipoli in November to see what could be salvaged, and concluded that evacuation was inevitable. On 7 December 1915 the British cabinet agreed to Kitchener's proposal for the withdrawal of all forces, except those at Helles. During the seven months of the Gallipoli campaign there were 213,980 British and Empire casualties - of these more than 145,000 were due to sickness with 50,000 cases of dysentery, diarrhoea and enteric fever.
December 1915 The Australian General Monash wrote
12th December, 1915 Like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky has come the stupendous and paralyzing news that, after all, the Allied War Council has decided that the best and wisest course is to evacuate the Peninsula, and secret orders to carry out that operation have just reached up here. The secret is known so far to only a small handful of men, but there is no harm in my writing about it to-day because it will be many days before this letter can be posted, and where it will be posted I do not yet know.... The first thing to do is to secure as great a measure of secrecy as possible. The operation of withdrawal is going to be every bit as critical and dangerous an enterprise as the first landing, and if the Turks were to get the slightest inkling of what was intended, it would mean the sacrifice of some men, and vast quantities of munitions and stores. At a conference of Commanders it was decided to put a bluff, that owing to the severe weather conditions it is intended to form a winter rest camp at Imbros, and take the Brigades and Battalions there by turns. In this way we shall be able in two or three stages to remove about two-thirds of totally army, leaving the remaining third to man the defences very lightly, and then finally to make a bolt for the beach in the dead of night, and into boats which will be waiting. It is, of course, an absolutely critical scheme which may come off quite successfully or may end in a frightful disaster. But orders, I need not say I feel very unhappy. Being bound to secrecy, I can take none of my Staff or C.O’s into my confidence, I am almost frightened to contemplate the howl of rage and disappointment there will be when the men find out what is afoot, and how they have been fooled, and I am wondering what Australia will think at the desertion of her 6,000 dead, and her 20,000 other casualties.
1 January 1916, the 1st Battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers were ordered to leave the Dardanelles Peninsula. They embarked from the beach where the shell of the River Clyde lay run aground. They were taken to Egypt, arriving 8 January. In total 3, 411 were killed from the 10th (Irish) Division of which 830 were Dublin Fusiliers. Of the 1012 men of the 1st Battalion Dublin Fusiliers who had gone ashore in April, 11 men survived the killing, mutilation and disease of that terrible few months. The last remaining officer, Lt. O’Hara, died of wounds on the 29th of August.
The Helles Memorial was erected at Cape Helles on the south west tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula to commemorate the dead of the Gallipoli campaign. It is an obelisk standing over 30 metres high that can be seen by ships passing through the Dardanelles, they use it as a land mark.
Royal Dublin Fusiliers