The Gallipoli Campaign And Living Conditions
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Published: Wed, 10 May 2017
On the 25th of April 1915, 16000 Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) troops landed two kilometers north of GabaTepe in the Gallipoli Peninsula to prevent Turkish troops moving back from the south and arriving from the north. However, the Gallipoli Campaign did not begin smoothly for the ANZAC troops. By the times the troops had arrived, the Turkish forces were already located at the top of the cliff with reinforcements and weaponry on both sides of the beach. More than 50000 Australians and 8500 New Zealanders served in Gallipoli, with about 10000 deaths and 26000 casualties by December 1915.
The Gallipoli peninsula is full of steep valleys, cliffs and narrow beaches. When the troops arrived in April1915, it was still spring with pleasant weather. However as summer approached, the temperature soared and it was very hot both during the day and at night, preventing the soldiers from getting a good night’s sleep. During the winter months, the troops had to endure freezing blizzards, snow and frost. The men did not have enough clothes for these freezing conditions and so would huddle up together with dirty old blankets in an attempt to keep warm. Many men had to have their toes or feet amputated due to severe frostbite.
There was also not enough food and water for the troops. Water would arrive from Egypt via supply ships, however there was never enough. The food mainly consisted of canned meat, hard biscuits, tea, sugar and jam, with small quantities of bread sometimes being supplied.
I wrapped my overcoat over the tin and gouged out the flies, then spread the biscuit, held my hand over it and drew the biscuit out of the coat. A lot of flies flew into my mouth and beat about inside.
The troops lived, slept and ate in dugouts known as trenches. The troops were surrounded by trenches filled with dirty water; open toilet pits, empty food cans, disease-carrying flies, lice, mosquitoes and rats, as well as rotting dead bodies. As a result, disease, such as diarrhea, was widespread due to poor hygiene. Source 1 shows an Australian soldier describing the difficulties of eating during summer
Source 1: Living Conditions
(Anderson, M, et al. (2010) Retroactive 2 Stage 5 Australian History, 3rd Edition, John Wiley &Sons, Australia)
As well as these terrible living conditions, the Anzacs had to remain aware of the constant threats from the Turks.
The Battles – Lone Pine
The battle at Lone Pine occurred in August 1915. It was a plan devised to attack the Turkish troops at Lone Pine to help the Anzacs gain control of Sari Bair and Suvla Bay. The Anzacs surprised the Turks by coming from underground tunnels. The Anzacs attacked the Turkish trenches and for the next three days war was among the trenches. The Anzacs succeeded however there were 2300 Anzac casualties and 6000 Turkish casualties. Seven Australians were awarded Victoria Crosses, the highest military decoration, for their great work in defending the trenches. Source 2 shows a trench at Lone Pine after the battle.
Source 2: A trench at Lone Pine after the battle, showing Australian and Turkish dead on the parapet.
John Simpson Kirkpatrick was born in Britain and later moved to Australia. He enlisted in the army in August 1914. He served as Private John Fitzpatrick in the 3rd field ambulance. He became famous for his bravery in the one month he lived during the war. He would walk in the middle of the battle field, with a donkey, supplying water and carrying injured comrades back to the beach on ANZAC cove. He was killed on the 19th of May by enemy machine gun fire. Even if he served for a short period of time he is one of the most famous icons of World War 1. John Simpson Kirkpatrick is shown here with his donkey in 1915 at Anzac Cove in Source 3.http://vrroom.naa.gov.au/Images/Simpson%20and%20his%20donkey,%20Gallipoli1_11405235_tcm11-18424.jpg
It was in 1914, when the British Government decided to interfere with the Western Front and weaken Germany, by attacking Turkey. The first attacks in Feburary and March 1915 failed, with ships attacked by mines and shellfire. It was not until April 1915, when British, French and Anzac troops landed around Cape Helles and Dardanelles and GabaTepe. This landing however was not a smooth and positive start for the troops, as the Turks had had six weeks notice before the invasion. By the times the troops had arrived, the Turkish forces were already located at the top of the cliff with reinforcements and weaponry on both sides of the beach. The Anzacs immediately built shallow trenches on the first night to protect them selves from the on going Turkish fire. By the first night 16000 soldiers had landed on the beach, from those 16000 men over 2000 Australian men had either died or been wounded.
The two main leaders which governed the Anzac troops were General Sir Ian Hamilton and Admiral Sir John de Robeck. General Otto Liman von Sanders and Mustafa Kemal Pasha were the two men in charge of the Turkish troops. It was the new commander, General Sir Charles Munro who went ahead with the evacuation rather than continue on with the battle.
In December 1915, the Anzac troops withdrew from Anzac Cove and Suvla Bay in a quiet and slow fashion to prevent the Turks from noticing. With the withdrawal, it was important that all the troops knew that the lives of all the men were more important than saving any weapons or equipment. Only two men were wounded during the evacuation from Anzac Cove. Altogether, there were a total 26000 casualties among the Anzac troops with 10000 deaths.
Weapons used by the ANZACs
The main weapons used during the Gallipoli Campaign ranged from clubs to rifles to grenades
(Source 4). The clubs had cast iron heads with rough timber shafts. The Lee-Enfield Rifle was the most common service rifle used. The standard issued Lee-Enfield was about half a meter long, with a 43cm blade and handle. With the grenades, Model 5 Mills Bombs were used, where each user had to assemble their own bomb.
http://www.diggerhistory.info/images/weapons-ww1-allied/smle1mk3r.jpghttp://www.diggerhistory.info/images/weapons-ww1-allied/mills-ww1.jpg”Cold Steel”. The bayonet for the SMLE rifle.
Source 4: Gallipoli Weaponry
The anniversary of the landings, April 25, is celebrated as ANZAC Day and is both Australia’s and New Zealand’s most significant day of military remembrance.
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