Liveblogging World War I: June 28, 1915: Battle of Gully Ravine
Wikipedia: Battle of Gully Ravine:
The third battle of Krithia on 4 June had made some progress in the centre of the line at Helles but had failed on the left flank (west) along Gully Spur and Gully Ravine and on the right flank (east) where the French contingent were confronted by a number of strong Ottoman redoubts on Kereves Spur. As a prelude to a new offensive the commander at Helles, Lieutenant General Aylmer Hunter-Weston ordered separate limited attacks to advance the flanks.
On 21 June the French, with overwhelming artillery support, attacked two redoubts controlling the crest of Kereves Spur (Kervizdere). Over 40,000 shells fell on the Ottoman 2nd Division defending this area. They succeeded in capturing Haricot Redoubt but the second objective, the Quadrilateral, was not captured until 30 June. Captain Kemal Bey commanding the troops from the line of fire was wounded and died the next day. The French suffered 2,500 casualties but the Ottomans on the receiving end of the bombardment suffered 6,000. Remnants of the Ottoman 2nd Division were pulled back to the Asian side after this battle. This minor gain was cause of much celebration for allies who were at that point very anxious for any good news. General Gourard received congratulatory telegrams from London and Paris, Lord Kitchener, Admiral Robeck, and General Hamilton. Colonel Girdon was awarded with Légion d’honneur.
On 28 June a similar attack was planned for the left flank along Gully Spur, Gully Ravine and neighbouring Fir Tree Spur. The terrain around Gully Ravine (Turkish: Sığındere) was closer to the wild and rough terrain at Anzac Cove than to the ground elsewhere at Helles. The plan was for the British 29th Division and the 29th Indian Brigade to attack along Gully Spur and the ravine while one newly arrived brigade on loan to the 29th Division, the 156th (Scottish Rifles) Brigade from the British 52nd (Lowland) Division, would attack along Fir Tree Spur.
After two days of heavy bombardment, battle began at 10.45 am on 28 June with a preliminary raid to capture the Boomerang Redoubt on Gully Spur. The general advance commenced shortly afterwards. The artillery fire on Gully Spur was overwhelming and the 2/10th Gurkha Rifles and the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers advanced rapidly a distance of half a mile to a point named ‘Fusilier Bluff’ which was to become the northern-most Allied position at Helles.
In the ravine the 1st Battalion, Border Regiment did not advance as far as those troops on the spur since Ottomans there were somewhat sheltered from the deadly bombardment from the sea. Their final position was fortified with rocks and boulders and became known as ‘Border Barricade’.
On the right of the advance, along Fir Tree Spur, the battle did not go so well for the British. The inexperienced soldiers of the 156th Brigade lacked artillery support and were massacred by Ottoman machine guns and bayonet attacks. Despite the opposition, they were ordered to press the attack and so the support and reserve lines were sent forward but made no progress. By the time the attack was halted the Brigade was at half strength, having suffered 1,400 casualties of which 800 had been killed. Some battalions were so depleted they had to be merged into composite formations. When the rest of the 52nd Division landed, the commander, Major General Granville Egerton, was enraged at the manner in which his 156th Brigade had been sacrificed.
Originally published at www.bradford-delong.com.