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THE LANCASHIRE FUSILIERS, 1914-1918
THE ADVANCE AT HELLES
"Time is a valuable asset in war," and the fatal deliberation of
the British movements on the 26th and 27th April gave the Turks
a chance of which they made full use. Leaving small posts and
snipers in touch with our troops, they gave all their energies to the
preparation of a position on the southern slopes of Achi Baba, which
was to defy all subsequent attempts to capture that dominating
ridge. Owing to lack of determination and will power in the direction
of the operations, the advance was delayed and postponed till all the
advantage of surprise had been lost.
At
10
a.m. on 27th
April,
divisional orders were issued from the
Euryalus.
The Division was to advance at 4 p.m. to take up a
position from the high ground above "S" Beach to the mouth of
Gully Ravine. The interval was spent in reorganizing the brigades;
and the 86th Brigade became the reserve. The supporting warships
opened fire on Krithia and Achi Baba, but the system of com–
munication was badly organized and the ships had to rely on their
own observation.
At 4 p.m. the Division advanced in artillery formation, with two
French battalions on the right flank. The country was fairly open
and easy, with cypress and olive trees and, in places, carpets of wild
flowers . There was no opposition, as the Turks had fallen back to
their new position, taking their field guns with them. By 5.30 p.m.
the new line was occupied, but the 87th Brigade on the left failed to
take up the exact position indicated, with the result that there was a
bend in the line, which had serious consequences on the following
day. Digging of a perfunctory nature was carried out, for the value
of adequate cover was not yet realized, and again, owing to lack of
control, there was much useless expenditure of ammunition, evoked
by the Turkish patrols. This firing prevented the troops from
gaining some much-needed sleep, without any effect except to
advertise the presence of the Division.
The first Battle of Krithia was designed to attain a limited object,
as it was found that various disadvantages existed which would
make the idea of reaching Achi Baba out of the question. Having
carried out "'hat might be called a "left wheel" on the 27th, it was
now proposed to make a " right wheel." Changing front in face of
the enemy is rightly considered one of the most hazardous operations
in war. In this case the lack of information was complete and no
personal reconnaissance 'was made before starting this difficult
manoeuvre.
The disadvantages which beset headquarters were, first, lack of
information as to the enemy. topography, and the exact position of
our own troops; secondly, lack of artillery support, twenty-eight
guns only being available; thirdly, lack of supplies, many iron rations
having been spoilt in the sea when landing; and finally, lack of
trained brigade commanders and staffs. The issue of orders by
brigades was in consequence rather sketchy, and the complicated
manoeuvre to be carried out by the 88th Brigade was apparently