Chocolate Hill, Gallipoli


In the course of a letter Colonel Geoffrey Downing, Commanding 7th R.D.F., writes to his wife:- "We left our place last Friday, the 6th, and arrived hereto effect a new landing on the 7th. What a day it was! We fought from early morning to dark, and the 7th R.D.F. made a great name for itself, they did splendidly, and I am so proud of them. I got a message from General during one of the hottest times of the attack that it was imperative that hill 53 should be taken before sundown (now "Dublin Hill"). I was the senior Colonel in the attacking line, and told him it should be done. We captured it at 7.30 (just as it was getting dark) and the Turks fled from it, and we gained the first line of trenches. Major Harrison led the final attack and capture, and I came after with the reserve (he is the bravest of the brave). We have gained a great name for the capture, and for the splendid regiment which I have the honour to command." In the course of another letter Colonel Downing says:- "We had quite a glorious victory yesterday. We took a big hill. The Dublins and the Munsters did splendidly. You should have heard the men in a R.N. gunboat, that was guarding our left flank, cheer. It was splendid


Henry Hanna was a young Irishman living in Dublin when war broke out in the summer of 1914. He wrote of his experiences in 1917 and we join his story after he has landed at Suvla Bay on the Peninsula and moved a few miles inland from the landing zone: "We were in reserve to the 6th Dublins and 6th and 7th Munsters. They took the hill called 'The Pimple' - nothing but big stones and short scrub. It was taken about six in the evening. We took it over from them about 8:30 o'clock. During the day we had been under cover about a mile back, from about eleven o'clock that morning. Then the fun started. We could see the Turks quite easily. Jack Boyd and I were lying together keeping watch, and about 11 p.m. I said: ' What about something to eat,' as we had had only a bit of ' B.B.' and a few biscuits since morning, and our bare quart of water, which was half gone by this time. We divided a tin of bully beef, and had a good supper and nearly finished our water. The last meal poor Jack ever had. By morning our bottles were empty, and no prospect of getting any more. At 3:30 a.m. their counter-attack started.

Brown from Clontarf was opposite me, as well as J. B. He got a graze on the left temple. The bullets knocked dirt into my face. By Jove! It was a hot time then! Their bombs started. Such a row! It was just like a living Hell, and I have no clear remembrance of anything! Next item was our bayonet charge, headed by Hickman. He was killed, Jack Boyd and Willie Boyd and young Kener also, and some others. Lax was wounded and Drummond. I was one of the last out, and when about twelve yards out could not see any of our fellows except one, who, as I thought, lay down, so I lay down as well. I looked around, but could not see any one to support, so I said: 'Here's a how-d'you-do. If I stay I will either get killed or wounded. If I get wounded I will lie here all day, and I have no water in my bottle, so I had better make a dash for our lines, and if I get shot-well, it cannot be helped, but I have the chance of getting in.'

While debating this over in my mind I was lying quite close to a chum called Cecil Murray (from the Bank of Ireland); he was badly hit. I asked him where he was hit. He showed me his left hand, which was in pulp, and, while speaking to him, he was hit three times in the body. The groans were heartrending. Then a young chap called Elliott, who played 'footer,' was shot in front of me when running out; he jumped about three feet when hit; he started trying to crawl back to our lines, and just got above me when he was hit again. He died in a few minutes.

Then came my dash for safety. I made two rushes of it, and had to shout to our fellows to stop firing to allow me to get in. I got a splinter of a bullet in the side. It just *****ed the skin and stuck in my belt. There is a hole in my belt where it stuck. When I got behind the line, the first thing I saw was Lex, bandaged all over the head and shoulder, but could see no one else there. There were no stretcher-bearers of any sort, so I got permission from Lieutenant Hamilton to help him down the ridge. I then discovered my knee was cut and swollen. Either another splinter of a bullet or cut by the rocks. I could hardly walk. The sights I saw going along that place I shall never forget. Some of our fellows throwing back the bombs which the Turks threw over and which had not exploded. One fellow caught them like catching a cricket ball. Wounded and dead lying everywhere. The sun streaming down and not a drop of water to be had. Neither had we bombs to reply to the Turks and drive them out.

We were relieved about 8 o'clock and then went back to our dug-outs about one mile back. just as we were getting our dinner, two shells came along, and one fellow from 'A' Company got his head blown off, and Sergeant Kenny of 'A' Company, an 'Old Tough' of the 2nd Royal Dublin Fusiliers, lost a leg. Our only officer left was Hamilton, badly wounded in the foot. Our platoon numbered about sixteen, and three of us were left of No. 8 Section - Hanna, Egan, and myself. It was a miserable time. That night we went up again, but not so far as in the morning. We had retired about half a mile."


.the crest in an amazingly brave charge that would be enacted time and again by the Irish troops in the peninsula. To honour the Dublin Fusiliers, Chocolate Hill would be known as ' Dublin Hill '
Casualties included an old soldier, Major Tippet of the 7th Dublins, who, along with several senior officers died that day. Tippet had served for years in the old Dublin City Militia and had left the security of his comftable position as a political agent in England to fight and die in his old regiment. The death of Lieutenant Ernest Julian, one of the New Army ' Toffs ' in D Compant, was a great loss to academic circles in Dublin. The 5th Royal Irish Fusiliers also suffered severely, taking the smaller Green Hill, losing their Major Garstin.On the 7th August, whilst General Mahon still had command of his division and landing at a new beach, Suvla Point, he had only four battalions under his command. One of them, the 5th Royal Irish Regiment, the Divisional Pioneers, were assigned to beach duty. He was therefore without any support troops, divisional artillery or engineer field companies. Landing at Suvla late that morning, the 6th Munster Fusiliers encountered Turkish fire, and a beach sown with mines that exploded on contact, injuring several men; the 7th Munsters arrived a little later without casualties. Both battalions had orders to climb the Kiretch Tepe Sirt Ridge at its western end and push forward along the crest. Under a relentless sun the Munsters passed through a difficult terrain of gullies covered with dense oak and holly scrub and soon came across fly-infested corpses, indications of a nasty fight waged by the 11th Manchesters whom they were to meet. The Manchesters had landed by 3.00am despite prevailing confusions and now an exhausted remnant had established a position on the ridge, their Colonel wounded. By nightfall the 6th Munsters had succeeded in advancing to within 100 yards of the Turkish lines on the crest, but darkness prevented them from going further and even this advance was costly. The last entry to their war diary dated 7th August states : ' 22:00. Retirement completed. Battalion entrenched S. slopes of pt. 165. Casualties, Lieutenant J.B Lee killed. Lieutenant G.W Haynes wounded. Lieutenant Joseph Bagnall Lee was the first officer of the 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers killed in action; his younger brother, Alfred was wounded the following day.

On the 8th August the 6th and 7th Munsters dug in at Jephson's Post, a knoll captured under the 6th's Major Jephson. In capturing half Kiretch Tepe Sirt Ridge, the Munsters lost 48 all ranks killed and over 150 wounded. With the 5th Inniskillings, who had arrived later in the day and relived the 11th Manchesters, they held on for a week on that bare Kiretch Tepe Sirt suffering from the heat and acute water shortage. The stench of unburied bodies was everywhere.


7th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Chocolate and Green Hills �so named because of their natural coloring- rise from the East bank of the Salt lake and were captured by the 6th Lincolns and the 6th Borders on the evening of the 7th August. Unsuccessful efforts were made to advance beyond Green Hill, culmination on 21st August in the battle of Scimitar Hill �the last great action of the campaign- but the frontline remained there until the evacuation Transcribed from the plaque inside the gate of Green Hill Cemetery

The Pals arrived at Hill 10 to find it had been taken by another battalion. So the final advance on Chocolate Hill began with several hundred soldiers from other Irish regiments and a considerable number of troops from the 11th. They headed off across the salt lake bed in an easterly direction, then ran over a couple of empty water-courses and through a number of dry, ploughed fields, before crawling through hedgerows. The troops now entered a network of empty but well-constructed trenches at the base of Chocolate Hill, which some men assumed had been built under German supervision.
The enemy strategically withdrew to the very top pf the hill. Now it was time for a wild and heart-stopping charge up to the summit, using both bayonet and bullet. Even those who were not in the vanguard of the assault could see that an officer was signaling the men for �the off� with a green cloth tied to a stick. Then with a deafening roar and a concerted rush, the Dublins stormed Chocolate Hill. To many of the Pals it looked and sounded like a gigantic version of a forward rush on the rugby chat Dublin's Lansdowne Road.

By the time the Pals had reached the top, all the turkish defenders had either been bayoneted or shot or had fled into distance. Dead bodies lay in the brushwood on a hill-top that looked like a volcanic landscape in places, thick with smoke and pockmarked with craters of shells sent overearlier by British naval gunners. It was a blea and lifeless scene, but the Dublin Pals had helped the Irish Division to take its first big objective and there was an intense satisfaction for many of the men in that fact.