Page 88 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

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GALLIPOLI-SUVLA-EGYPT AND SINAI
7
1
appearance in action-indeed, the first serious fighting to be under–
taken by any Service battalion of the Regiment-and because they
were faced with conditions for which they had had no training worthy
of the name.
The task of the 9th Battalion was to seize Hill
10,
half a mile east
of "A" Beach on which they were to land in Suvla Bay, while the
IIth Manchester Regiment, landing on their left, was to swing left
and advance along Kiretch Tepe ridge. The 8th Northumberland
Fusiliers and 5th Dorsetshire Regiment were to join the 9th Battalion
on Hill 10; and all three battalions were to attack Chocolate
Hill from the north, advancing not later than 1.30 a.m. on 7th
August. These orders did not reach units until shortly before
midday on 6th August. Secrecy had been carried to excess as regards
the date and place of the new landing: no opportunity had been
given for adequate reconnaissance beyond the fact that Lieutenant–
Colonel Welstead, dressed as a sailor, had been allowed to view the
scene of the projected operations from the deck of a destroyer; and
the maps issued were both late in arriving and inaccurate. The
country in which the battalion would find itself on landing was
mostly a sandy and flat plain, but rocky and covered with thick,
thorny scrub, with the Salt Lake (dry in summer) on the right, and
ridges surrounding the plain.
Lieutenant-Colonel Welstead issued his orders at noon: "Z"
Company (Major C. E. Tristram) was to land first and clear Hill ro
with two platoons, while the rest of the battalion formed up on "A"
Beach. At 5.30 p.m. on 6th August the battalion embarked and left
Imbros, headquarters and '·'W" Company (Major C. O. Ibbetson) in
lighter "K
2"
towed by a destroyer, H.M.S.
Bulldog,
and the
remainder under Lieutenant-Colonel W.
J.
Woodcock in lighter
"K
I"
towed by another destroyer, H.M.S.
Grampus.
The convoy
waited for dark to fall at about 7.30 p.m. before leaving the vicinity
of Imbros. The date had been specially chosen as the moon was not
due to rise till after the troops were intended to be ashore; the
night was, however, unusually dark. At 10.30 p.m. the destroyers
anchored a mile from shore and cast off the lighters, which then
made for the shore under their own steam, their "puffing" plainly
audible to the Turks and drawing desultory fire. Unfortunately,
the naval craft had been carried away from their proper course, so
that "K
I"
and "K
2"
were by now not opposite "A" Beach but a
thousand yards to the south of it, being even south of the seaward
outlet of the Salt Lake known as "The Cut."
It
was a part of Suvla
Bay in which the Navy suspected shoals: at 10.35 p.m., "K
2"
went
aground fifty yards from the shore; and a few moments later "K
rIP
went aground on its left, ten yards nearer the land. The Turks at
once opened a brisk fire from the shore in front and from the high
ground at Lala Baba, six hundred yards away to the right. No one
knew the depth of the water alongside the lighters. So Lieutenant
E.
H.
Davies, about the shortest officer available, was lowered by a
rope over the side of "K r": he reported that at least his head was