The First Battle of Krithia, 28th April
Allied perspectives on the morning of 28th April were not good : the ranks
of British officers had heavily suffered and far too many troops had
become casualties during the landing and the ensuing fighting. Some
battalions had been reduced to 50% of their effective strength. Apart from
that, the 87th brigade was not complete : the King's Own Scottish
borderers and a company of the South Wales Borderers had not yet returned
from their adventure at Y-Beach.
was worse, was the lack of artillery to support the attack, as only 28
guns were available. Also many machine-guns had been lost during the
landing and the supplies in ammunition, food and water were barely
sufficient for an action of this size.
paper, the plans looked splendid, but in practice they were hardly
realistic : what was to commence as a frontal attack, should develop into
a complicated move, in which the whole line should pivot with the French
on the right as an anchor point. Once this plan was carried out, the
frontline would then run almost from south to north, and Krithia would be
taken by the troops on left flank. These complicated orders were given
much to late, to weary and sleepy officers, with as a result that hardly
anybody understood what was in fact expected.
results were as could be expected : after an initial small gain of ground,
the line started to disintegrate, there was no coordination in the speed
of the advance and soon both flanks were threatened. The 87th Brigade was
stopped before they had even reached Y-Beach and on the right the French
were immediately driven back to their starting lines by strong Turkish
noon, the confusion in the centre, where the 88th Brigade was active, had
become so big that the battle weary 86th Brigade had to be called upon to
lend a helping hand. Small groups of the 1st Lancashire Fusiliers advanced
as far as Fir Tree Wood at 1 mile south-west of Krithia, where the Turkish
defences began to waver.
one more fresh brigade had been available to the British, the attack might
still have been successful, ill-conceived as it was. As things turned out
however, not the Allies but the Turks were reinforced. Their divisions
from Bulair and Asia, together with fresh troops from Constantinople, had
indeed arrived and took their place in the line.
the afternoon their counter-attacks became so fierce, that even a
prolonged bombardment by the Queen Elisabeth was necessary to prevent the
87th Brigade from being driven back into the sea.
final result was that when evening started falling, the British and French
troops were back in the trenches they had left with such high hopes in the
morning. Here they spent the following day beating back new Turkish
attacks aimed at breaking their front line.
the night of 1st-2nd May the Turks staged a new forceful attempt, this
time with 21 battalions, to drive their enemies back into the sea. The
line held by the Senegalese on the right was driven in and in the centre
they reached the trenches of, again, the Dublin and Munster Fusiliers.
After fierce man to man fighting, they were eventually brought to a
standstill and beaten back with heavy losses, which enabled the Allies to
restore their front line.
Among the Dublin and Munster Fusiliers, the number of casualties was so high that they had to be reorganised by the General Command into one single unit, hardly bigger than a company.
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