Kireçtepe was originally one of the hills on a ridge called Kizlar Dagh. Later the name Kizlar Dagh was used less and less and was replaced by Kireçtepe ridge. In other words Kireçtepe Sirt (sirt means ridge) is the same as Kızlar dagh.
Karokol Dagh ridge rises quickly from behind Suvla Point, to some 400 feet, and frames Suvla Bay. The ridge continues to rise to over 600 feet further inland where it is known as Kiretch Tepe Sirt. Cliffs fall steeply towards the Gulf of Saros but inland it slopes down steadily to the Suvla Plain. At the far end it drops slightly before the junction with the Tekke Tepe ridge which forms the eastern boundary of the plain.
On 6 August, the 11th Battalion, Manchester Regiment of 11th Division landed from HMS Grampus inside Suvla Bay and despite having been landed on the wrong part of ‘A’ Beach, they acted with considerable determination. Moving round by the water’s edge they set off north towards Karokol Dagh. They were successful in clearing the isolated Turkish post at Ghazi Baba and then pushed on along the main Kiretch Tepe Ridge penetrating some two miles inland. Their example showed what could be achieved in difficult circumstances. The 10th Division had been intended to exploit such an advance, but the division had been badly split up in the confusion over landing arrangements. As a result only three battalions arrived with their divisional commander Lieutenant General Sir Bryan Mahon, and the accumulated delays meant they only eventually commenced landing at around 11.30 on 7 August. When they did get ashore the troops had to face primitive land mines laid by the Turks which, for many, provided a rude awakening to the realities of war.
Second Lieutenant Ivone Kirkpatrick, 1/5th Battalion, Inniskilling
The first two battalions moved up on to Kiretch Tepe at 14.30. On reaching the positions of the 11th Manchesters, they stopped and made no effort to advance further. They also failed to establish any link with the 34th Brigade to the south on the lower slopes. Instead, having relieved the exhausted Manchesters, they began to dig in. There was no one in front of us but the enemy of whose whereabouts or number we had no knowledge and we must try to dig in, as the staff were of the opinion that we should be shelled in the morning. That night was one of the most arduous and uncomfortable I have ever spent. The soil was hard and rocky; our only digging implements were entrenching tools. We dug all night and when dawn broke had little to show for our labours. Most of the men had succeeded in digging shallow graves with a parapet of loose earth and flints, but some who had struck rocks had not even that.
Second Lieutenant Ivone Kirkpatrick, 1/5th Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers
Instead of digging in they should have been embarking on a forced march to complete the seizure of Kiretch Tepe up to where it joined the Tekke Tepe ridge...... On Sunday everything was absolute peace and quiet, the Turks had in fact withdrawn all their guns, there was no shelling and very little rifle fire to be heard. Looking down you could only see a mob of our chaps all round the beaches trying to get water. We were fortunate in our position because the destroyer Grampus cut one of its own water tanks loose and floated it ashore and supplied us from that. Of course the quantity of water was very little, you got about a pint a day which with the temperatures verging on a hundred isn't very much.... We all knew that something very wrong was happening that we ought to be advancing not just sitting there.
Second Lieutenant Terence
Verschoyle, 1/5th Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers
Throughout 8 August ‘consolidation’ was the name of the game and opportunities for an easy advance were gratuitously squandered. On 9 August, orders were given by Mahon, who by then had five battalions under his control, to capture all of Kiretch Tepe and the Tekke Tepe ridge. The 10th Division attacked at 07.30 supported by naval gunnery from the destroyers, HMS Foxhound and HMS Beagle. The initial slight resistance began to stiffen as they approached the Turkish strongpoint on the highest point on the ridge. But the total opposition still only consisted of the remnants of the three companies of Turkish Gendarmerie - about 350 men - who had been there since the original landing. At 13.30 the 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers captured what was to become Jephson’s Post, but the combined effects of heat, thirst and exhaustion meant that they got no further. On the lower southern slopes of Kiretch Tepe two battalions reached as far as Kidney Hill but again a critical loss of resolve meant they could not stand their ground and they fell back to their original positions. The rocky ground made it difficult to dig trenches and sangars of rocks scraped out and piled up in front of the ‘trench’ were the result of much hard labour. All munitions, food and water had to be brought up the tortuous tracks right along the ridge to the front line and as the hillside positions were exposed to the blazing August sun the shortage of a nearby water supply soon became a prime consideration to all personnel. For my own platoon it seemed best to pool all the water in some large empty biscuit tins, buried in the earth for coolness’ sake, in the neighbourhood of my so-called dugout, and to divide it among the men at certain definite periods of the day. Thus compulsory economy of water was inflicted upon the very thirsty that must have been extremely irritating. On the other hand, they could be sure of having a little left to mitigate their thirst at an advanced period of the day. The water-bottles were to be stacked at the same place, to be regarded as the property of the community and not of individuals, and to be filled by a fatigue party whenever opportunity was presented to replenish the biscuit tins. Meanwhile any derelict water-bottles, of casualties or fools, that might be found lying about were to be deposited there too; then, when there were enough water-bottles, and the habit of husbanding the water had been instilled would again become the property of individuals which is what eventually happened. These details are dull and childish to read now but were at the time a matter of life and death.
On 9 August, orders were given to capture all of Kiretch Tepe and the Tekke Tepe ridge. The 10th Division attacked supported by naval gunnery. The initial slight resistance began to stiffen as they approached the Turkish strongpoint on the highest point on the ridge. But the total opposition still only consisted of the remnants of the three companies of Turkish Gendarmerie - about 350 men - who had been there since the original landing. The 6th Royal Munster Fusiliers captured what was to become Jephson’s Post, but the combined effects of heat, thirst and exhaustion meant that they got no further.
On the lower southern slopes of Kiretch Tepe two battalions reached as far as Kidney Hill but again a lack of resolve meant they could not stand their ground.
The rocky ground made it difficult to dig trenches and sangars of rocks scraped out and piled up in front of the ‘trench’ were the result of much hard labour.
There they remained until orders were issued at 08.40 on 15th August for an attack that same afternoon.
On 15 August the plan was for the 30th and 31st Brigade to advance along the ridge with a supporting attack by the 162nd Brigade of the 54th Division on Kidney Hill. The attack commenced at 13.00. On the left the 7th Munsters moved forward, slowly at first as they attempted to avoid casualties, but after 18.00 they made a bayonet charge which swept the Turks back. At the same time the 6th Munsters and 6th Dublin Fusiliers charged along the crest of Kiretch Tepe until the highest point was captured. On the right 2nd Lieutenant Terence Verschoyle was advancing with 1/5th Inniskillings towards a small knoll on the southern slope of the ridge just 400 yards short of Kidney Hill.
The 10th Division and the 162nd Brigade were exhausted by their efforts and all they could hope to do was consolidate their gains on the top of Kiretch Tepe. The reinforced Turks had other ideas and from 04.00 on 16th August they began a vicious series of bombing and bayonet attacks. The attacks were unrelenting and without fresh troops and plentiful bombs the battalions just could not hold out any longer and overnight reluctantly withdrew to their original positions.
Canon McLean, Protestant Chaplain for 30 Brigade, reported in his diary how he watched the final ' brilliant ' charge of the 6th Dublins and the 6th Munsters going forward to secure the Kiretch Tepe Sirt. " It was a wonderful sight to see the men deployed in open order, their cheers, their charge. " Watchers from the Gulf of Saros in the Salt Lake area heard the sound of the ' Irish triumphal cry ' and added their own excited shouts of victory. Amidst heavy fire, Major Tynte of the 6th Munsters led the rush of these ' green ' Irish soldiers and brought them, with gleaming bayonets, to the Turkish position and the whole of the northern slope of Kiretch Tepe Sirt as far as and beyond the ' Pimple ' was cleared. The Turks fled in the face of this Irish onslaught.
For the Irish on the right, or southern, landward side of the Ridge, it was a different story. The 5th Inniskillings, supported by the 6th Inniskillings, were now entrusted with taking Kidney Hill, a place of precipitous slopes and thick scrub. Well placed Turkish machine guns and artillery had perfect observation of the open plain in front of the hill. The attack that followed was the 5th Battalion's ' first bitter taste of war' It was also a kind of forlorn hope, for against modern weapons a frontal attack by daylight on an entrenched position a thousand yards away is certain to fail, and fail it did. Kidney Hill was not taken nor was the southern slope cleared and heavy casualties resulted. Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Vanrenen and five officers of the 5th Inniskillings were killed, their total casualties, including missing, were more than half the total strength they had had on landing at Suvla Bay. The young Inniskillings held on and even though the battalion was cut up and shattered they would not leave their positions. Lieutenant G.B Lyndon of the 6th Inniskillings won the MC for couragously going out after sunset to bring in many of these little parties.
The result of this failed attack was that the 7th Dublins and the 6th Royal Irish Fusiliers, both in reserve, and the 6th Munsters were hurried to the ridge. Along the way, Lieutenant Colonel Downing of the 7th Dublins was shot in the foot by a sniper and had to be relieved by Major Harrison. The Irish battalions were established in an uneven line just under the crest when late that night they were engaged in a sudden sharp batonet and musketry fight, but managed to drive off the Turks. Before dawn, however, the invisible Turks began lobbing grenades over, a veritable rain of bombs from their side of the ridge where they could skilfully hide behind large boulders. By early morning of 16th August the Irish were fed up with their helpless position. On every side men had fallen, and the strain was taking it effect on the men.
The 15th and 16th August the 30th Brigade (6th & 7th RDF & RMF) advanced from Jephson's Post (which had been taken on the 8th August by Major Jephson). They were initially very succesfull and advanced till close to the pimple by the evening of the 15th. Their advance was along the Northern Slope and part of the Southern slope of Kireçtepe. At the same time part of the 31st Brigade (Inniskillings) advanced on the Southern slope towards Kidney hill. There advance was unsuccesfull.
Initially the 7th RDF was in reserve but was called upon in the night of 15th/16th to advance as -due to the failure of the 31st- the situation was critical as there was a "Z" in the line. (This "Z" continued to exist after the troops had fallen back). The 7th RDF must have been near the summit of Kireçtepe on the Northward/seaward slope (the pimple) during the night of 15th/16th. That night the Turks attacked heavily especially by throwing bombs from the southern slope over the crest of Kireçtepe. Some efforts were made to dislodge the Turks but were all unsuccesfull as they had to cross the crest in full view. By night (16th/17th) the whole brigade retired to their original positions : Jephson's post and the 7th RDF went in reserve.
On Monday 16 Aug the 7th Royal Dublin Fusiliers withdrew from Kizlar Dagh and marched to dug outs on Karakol Dagh. Which they held until the general evacuation of the position the following Tuesday August 17. They had been attacking the Kizlar Dagh range for the preceding 3/4 days. The casualties the night before (15 Aug) 11 officers and 54 men killed or wounded and 13 missing.
Second Lieutenant Ivone Kirkpatrick
There was no one in front of us but the enemy, of whose whereabouts or number we had no knowledge, and we must try to dig in, as the staff were of the opinion that we should be shelled in the morning. That night was one of the most arduous and uncomfortable I have ever spent. The soil was hard and rocky, our only digging implements were entren-ching tools. We dug all night and when dawn broke had little to show for our labours. Most of the men has succeeded in digging shallow graves with a parapet of loose earth and flints, but some who had struck rocks had not even that.
Bryan Cooper says in The Tenth (Irish) Division at Gallipoli:
"The result of the failure of the right attack was that while we held the northern slope of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt up to and even beyond the Pimple, yet on the southern face of the hill we had been unable to advance our line much beyond the trenches which we held when operations on the 15th began. As a consequence, the line held by the Division somewhat resembled a Z. The upper horizontal was represented by a line of trench running from the Gulf of Saros to the most advanced point on the crest of the ridge that was reached by the charge of the 6th Munsters and 6th Dublins. This trench was exposed to fire not only from the hills that continued the line of the Kiretch Tepe Sirt eastward, but also from a spur known as 103, which ran northward into the sea. The diagonal which joined the two horizontals of the Z was represented by a line running along the northern or seaward slope of Kiretch Tepe Sirt just below the crest. The crest itself, since it was liable to swept by shrapnel and machine-gun fire, and since its rocky nature made it difficult to entrench, was not held except at the lower horizontal, which represented the trench running past Jephson's Post, from which the attack had begun."
On the 17th the 6th Munster Fusiliers were relieved on Saddle Ridge near Jephson's Post by a battalion of the Norfolks. Of this position Captain M. B. Buxton, M.C., writes :
" The line here stretched from the top of the ridge at Jephson's Post down to the sea. Jephson's Post was a strong post manned by machine-gunners, some from the brigade and some from the crew of a naval destroyer which stood about 400 yards off the shore. 'This post was able to command all the Turkish line down to the sea. The destroyer was able to render effectual help on several occasions ; for if there was any movement in the Turkish lines, she at once opened fire with her guns. At night also her searchlight was directed on the Turkish line as it stretched up the hill, rendering the enemy's trenches clearly visible to our troops while our own were in darkness. The trenches here consisted, when the Norfolk battalions first reached the line, only of rifle pits, and the first thing that was done was to make a strong line of trenches and to build dug-outs. The gullies behind the line were generally deep and afforded excellent cover, but the country was so cut up by these gullies and so covered by scrub that it was extremely difficult to find the way about.
During all this time the troops had been very short of water, often having only about a mugfull each day. The water was very scarce on the Peninsula and such wells as were dug in the plain were brackish. The 5th Battalion sank several small wells in the hope of finding water, but these produced nothing more than brackish and muddy puddles. Water, in these first weeks, was sent to the battalion in skins, and in the extreme heat a great deal of it evaporated. Later, when petrol tins were used they were found to be more satisfactory. All the water was brought in tank steamers from Egypt and pumped on to the Peninsula, where it was stored and distributed. As the left of the 5th Battalion rested on the sea, this was an excellent opportunity for bathing and washing, when things were quiet, which was taken much advantage of. While there the shortage of water and food and the hardships they had encountered much reduced the health of the battalion, and the majority were suffering from mild or severe forms of dysentery. This disease, and jaundice, and various fevers, from this time onwards, caused far more casualties than the Turks. The battalion was still only in fighting order, i.e. with haversacks only and no packs, and they were unable to get any blankets or change of underclothes till the end of August. While in the day it was extremely hot, at night it became very cold, so much so that it was almost impossible to get much sleep."
Captain Montgomerie's diary of events in the 1/4th Battalion whilst in the neighbourhood of Jephson's Post is as follows:
" 16th - I was relieved on the ridge by the 4th Essex early in the morning. The battalion joined up in trenches some 300 yards in rear of the ridge. We were busy digging trenches all day, and trying to collect the men to their various companies. In the late advance we had been in reserve, and three companies and one platoon had reinforced the first line, so they had become very scattered. In the afternoon the 10th division advanced along the ridge and cleared the whole hill of the enemy. Unfortunately we were unable to hold on to the extreme east of it. It was a fine sight to watch from the valley below.
On the right 2nd Lieutenant Terence
Verschoyle was advancing with 1/5th Inniskillings towards a small knoll on the southern slope
of the ridge just 400 yards short of Kidney Hill.
The brigadier knew nothing about it until about it until about half an hour before hand and the CO and company commanders had about quarter of an hours notice. We told the chaps nothing, "Come on chaps we've got to go". The only plan was that two companies went forward and two companies came up behind in support. We started off. There were no tactics other than advancing straight ahead. The thick scrub absolutely prohibited any sort of supporting fire because nobody could see what was happening on each side. It was a sort of individual action. Before very long I saw my company commander sitting on a rock shot through the chest being dressed by his groom, waving us on. We went on. An absolute hail of bullets going on all the time, not shelling.... Our second in command was a marvellous old dugout and at the beginning of the action he was espied standing up, every button polished and bright, all his leather work gleaming, looking out towards the front and saying, "Turks, Turks I don't see any Turks", bullets falling all about him all the time.... There was a lot of scrub about but there was a large bare patch which we had to cross. There was no avoiding it. Bullets all striking down and setting up little spurts of sand; it wasn't very encouraging. Still, some of us got through. The whole action was over in little more than an hour by which time we'd had nearly 400 casualties. We realised fairly soon from the few people left that it was not a success. We did get the Turks to clear out of the trenches we were supposed to be attacking - I remember having a pot shot at one or two Turks myself - but we were about finished then. We just got stuck there. You couldn't see anybody else, that was the trouble, the tall thick scrub, you didn't know where anybody was. It was left to the individual to decide what he could do. All the officers practically had been hit and a lot of the NCOs too. I got hit by a genuine shrapnel bullet in the backside whilst lying behind a bush, not a very noble portion of the body to be hit in but there you were. When it got dark I went back to report what was happening, doling out morphia to one or two people who were in extremis. Got back eventually to the starting line where I reported to the brigadier. Our sister battalion had by then come up in support and they spent the whole night their stretcher-bearers out getting all the wounded. My feeling was we wasted a damned good battalion.
Second Lieutenant Terence Verschoyle, 1/5th Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers. Another young officer with the same battalion described his inner feelings during the charge.
My body and soul seemed to be entirely divorced, even to the extent that I felt that I no longer inhabited my body. My shell at the bidding of purely automatic forces, over which I had no control, ran hither and thither collecting men, hacked its way through the scrub with a rifle, directed the fire of my platoon and in short struggled with all the duties which I had been taught to perform. But my mind was a distinct and separate entity. I seemed to hover at some height above my own body and observe its doings and the doings of others with a sort of detached interest. I speculated idly on the possibility of my body being hit and thought it probably would be. I wondered if it would be in the head, round which so many bullets seemed to be flying; I felt no fear, only a mild sense of curiosity. Meanwhile my body strove and swore and sweated.
Lieutenant Ivone Kirkpatrick, 1/5th Battalion, Inniskilling Fusiliers. Kirkpatrick was badly wounded in the left shoulder and stomach during the fighting.
The 162nd Brigade advanced at the same time, acting as a flank guard to the 10th Division, and to capture Kidney Hill to the immediate south of Kiretch Tepe. Before the attack one doomed young man was putting the finishing touches to a diary letter home. I hope my regiment will make a good show. Of course it is a tremendous moment in the minds of us all. None of us know how we shall stand shell and other fire in the attack. I personally feel very doubtful about my prowess in the bayonet charge. Well, by this time tomorrow I shall know all about it or shall be unconscious of that or anything else.
Lieutenant Warren Hertslet, 1/10th Battalion, London Regiment
When the brigade began to advance it was forced to cross very difficult ground without prior reconnaissance. Private Horace Manton was with the 1/5th Bedfordshires who were leading the advance. We'd got no cover at all. One of the lieutenants was going aside of me. We were in open formation. He got shot while we were going up the hill, I said, "Do you want any help Sir?" He said, "No, Carry on, don't break the line". Our commanding officer, Colonel Brighten, got through alright. He gave us the name of the Yellow Devils. We got to the top and then we got blasted by shrapnel. I saw my cousin get killed in front of me. He was crying when he got shot. It killed him anyhow, he was only sixteen. How I missed it I don't know, shrapnel was flying all the time.
Lieutenant (later Field Marshal) John Harding was initially in reserve with the1/11th London
Regiment. His company was ordered to carry forward the firing line and attack Kidney Hill.
I hoped I felt very brave and warlike. I had an alpine stick in one hand and a revolver in the other and on I went with my platoon. We went on some way and then dipped down into a small low valley where there were a whole lot of troops standing around really under cover. I said to one officer, "Are you the firing line?" He said, "Well, I suppose we are." "Well, you've got to come with me. My orders are to go forward to capture the hill, and to carry you with me". I took my platoon on we went over the slope and rifle fire started to knock around us. But there was no sign of the others following at all. They stayed in the valley. I was out on my own with my platoon deployed and my chaps started getting hit, I thought, "Well, I don't know about this, it's not much cop!" I halted and thought I'd better try and get a message back to my company commander to say that I'd halted to say what the position was. I got my orderly, wrote out the message on a field service message pad and told him to go back and find company headquarters. He didn't get more than about ten or fifteen yards and he was shot down. I thought, "Well that's not much good, I shall lose the lot if I go on like this." So I decided to stay where I was. When darkness came we decided to go back as there was nobody on our flank at all. We started to withdraw carrying our wounded and left two or three dead on the floor. We came to a line of troops who said they were the front line, they were all mixed up together and we joined forces with them. It was a mixture, a muddle, a mixture. Despite all their brave efforts, they could not maintain their hold on Kidney Hill and were forced to retire that night. That night the aftermath of battle was terrible. I remember the tremendous crash of rifle and machine gun fire close to and the 'thump' 'thump' of bullets and sparks flying from the stones while an officer, sergeant and six of us pushed through the scrub towards the curve of a hill which showed up darkly against the night sky. Between the bursts of fire the silence was broken by agonizing cries which will always haunt me: seemingly from all about that hill there were voices crying "Ambulance" "Stretcher-bearers" "Ambulance" "Oh damn you my leg's broken" and then again "Stretcher-bearers". It was horrible, we would start for a voice and it would cease and another far away would begin. That hillside was a shambles: evidently there had been a fierce hand to hand fighting there a few hours ago, rifles, kits, water-bottles, khaki, Turkish tunics and headgear were strewn everywhere among the scrub. While we were following a phantom like voice we came suddenly on a half dug trench which an RAMC officer had made into a combined mortuary and first aid station; there we set furiously to work sorting out the dead from the living; there reeled among us out of the darkness an officer raving, "My men have taken that bloody hill but they're dying of thirst". He passed on and we continued our ghastly work.
Private Harold Thomas,
3rd East Anglian Field Ambulance, 54th Division
The 10th Division and the 162nd Brigade were exhausted by their efforts and all they could hope to do was consolidate their gains on the top of Kiretch Tepe. The reinforced Turks had other ideas and from 04.00 on 16th August they began a vicious series of bombing and bayonet attacks. The attacks were unrelenting and without fresh troops and plentiful bombs the battalions just could not hold out any longer and overnight reluctantly withdrew to their original positions. Appeals for reinforcements went unheeded as by this time higher command at Suvla had other things on their mind as the consequences of failure wrought their havoc.
The evacuation of Anzac eventually occured on December 18th - 19th 1915.
Today because Kiretch Tepe difficult to reach and is rarely visited and the battle took place on rocky ground, the terrain and isolation have combined to preserve many of the fighting positions of the Suvla campaign. Situated high on the Kiretch Tepe and looking out over Suvla plain, they were the northernmost Allied position on Gallipoli.Hewn out in the solid rock, with parapets built of stone, they have not lost much of their original depth and can be seen winding along the crest.Apart from a few shepherds who live in the neighbourhood and herd their goats on the slopes, hardly anyone ever visits this remote spot.
6th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers
7th Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers