Page 63 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

had trained hard during the short period of embodiment while the
seasoned Regulars seemed to them the ideal of military manhood.
The Commander-in-Chief, Sir lan Hamilton, inspected the Division
on 6th April and about this time the battalion made the acquaintance
of its Divisional Commander, Major-General
General Sir) Aylmer Hunter-Weston, soon to be universally and
affectionately known to all ranks as "Hunter-Bunter," a bluff
Royal E ngineer officer who has already appeared
this narrative as
a brigadier a t the crossing of the Aisne on I 3th September, I9I4.
The entries in the battalion War Diary for the first five days of
April are variations on the theme "Practised disembarkation and
landing of ammunition, stores, etc.," and this is a fitting cue for a
short explanation of the operations about to be described.
The force at Sir lan Hamilton's disposal consisted of the 29th
Division, two divisions of the Australian and New Zealand Army
Corps ("Anzac"), the Royal Naval Division and two French
divisions. There were three possible landing areas in an attempt to
force the Straits. The first was the Bulair Lines at the neck of the
Peninsula, where a success would cork the bottle and have a great
moral effect , though the t errain was too restricted for a large force
and was heavily fortified, in addition to which the sea approaches
were very shallow. The second was the Asiatic coast, where there
were plenty of room, adequate roads and good artillery positions and
observation, \'v-ith the possibility of taking the defences of the
Straits in reverse, the arguments against such a course being that
the right flank would lack the support of the fleet until the latter
forced the Straits, the distance to be covered was greater and the
country was rugged and difficult. The third course was to land on
the Gallipoli Peninsula itself, an unattractive proposition at first
sight on account of the facts that there were only five possible
landing places and they restricted in size and easy to defend, and
that the force would consequently be widely dispersed and difficult
to control. Moreover the hill of Achi Baba was a formidable obstacle
lying right across the southern end of the Peninsula with good
observation of
ground to the south.
was considered by the
German commander of the Turkish forces, General Liman von
Sanders, to
the key to the situation in this area. The country
south of Achi Baba is broken by spurs and intervening nullahs and
land artillery would be essential for searching it. On the other hand,
the ground was the most suitable of the three alternatives for an
advance, the fleet could give effective support, the flanks would be
secure and there was a reasonable chance of tactical surprise if only
by reason of the daring of the plan. For this was the course adopted
by the Commander-in-Chief, who decided to land the 29th Division
at the southern end of the Peninsula at five places, known as "S,"
"V," "W," "X," and "Y" Beaches, the Anzac Divisions to the
north of ' Gaba Tepe, and the French at Kum Kale on the Asiatic
coast by way of a temporary diversion. The Royal Naval Division
was to make a feint near the Bulair Lines.