ANZAC LANDING

The Anzac legend was born on the shores of Gallipoli during the historic morning of 25th April 1915. Landing on a hostile beach, under the cover of darkness, the Anzacs moved inland rapidly, but the response of the Ottoman forces was equally quick. The outcome of the campaign was arguably sealed during the first day, when the door for an Anzac victory was closed.

With the order to dig, dig, dig and to stick it out, a stalemate was secured from the clutches of almost total disaster. After the Australians and New Zealanders received their baptism of fire, they became a stubborn thorn in the sides of the Ottoman army. Futilely after eight grueling months of fighting, the campaign came to an end with the complete evacuation of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Failure did not mar the actions and sacrifice of the Anzacs who bestowed a powerful legacy, as well as being a landmark in the birth of modern Turkey. Almost a century later, with all the veterans now sadly gone, their legacy still survives in Anzac Day and with the ever increasing numbers of pilgrims who visit the battlefield today.

This attractive and well-written book will serve as either a handy guide or concise history (or both).

Book Reviews

"This is an outstanding account of a moment facing thousands of Anzacs. The book is well written and provides the reader with insights and information which allows us to experience the tensions, anxieties and terrors of war, now some 100 years ago."
Rodney Swansborough
"Steve Chambers has written an excellent contribution to the Pen & Sword Battleground series of which there are now over a hundred titles. For those not familiar with the format the premise is simple: first a description of the campaign in question and then a series of battlefield tours so that should be fortunate enough to visit the sites of the fighting then you can know where exactly you are, what happened there and what traces remain.Chambers carries out the first part of his brief with considerable aplomb. The fighting at Anzac on 25 April is fearsomely complicated, the terrain exceptionally convoluted and many of the contemporary accounts seem at variance with the facts. Yet he has woven a clear path through the pitfalls. He wastes little time in a clear explanation to the background to the plans for the ANZAC Corps landings. Then the tension of the actual landings is recreated by the judicious use of personal experiences culled from a variety of sources but generally fresh and not 'over-used' as is sometimes the case with lazy authors. When it comes to the actual landings there is a major controversy over the overblown accounts that came to typify the Australian myth which pictures them landing under a hail of fire from artillery, machine guns and massed rifles. Chambers pilots a steady fairly neutral course through this, ignoring overblown accounts although accepting one machine gun in the Fisherman's Hut sector on the left. Australian historians at the AWM have now conceded that the first wave of the landing was almost unopposed as there was only a single Turkish company scattered about the hills immediately facing the Anzac Cove. The issue of machine guns is particularly controversial: I myself follow the Turkish military historians adhering to their well-documented belief that the four Maxims of the only machine gun company available in the entire Anzac sector only came into action on Third Ridge around mid-morning having tramped over from the Maidos sector. As such I believe that the copious reports from the survivors are merely reflections of their inexperience as soldiers coupled with the distracting presence of the distinctive sound signature of Maxims emanating from the machine guns mounted on the British picket boats. Yet Chamber's calm approach diffuses any possible rancour and allows both sides to 'keep their powder dry' whilst reading his book. Of course later waves approaching Anzac Cove did come under fire from artillery, naval guns and Gaba Tepe which caused considerable confusion and casualties. Where the book excels is in using copious well-chosen quotes to recreate the sweaty, gasping, lung-tearing terrors of fighting in the tortured ridges and gullies where the Turkish snipers fell back picking off the brave and the unwary alike. He includes some Turkish accounts and is clearly well aware of the heroic pro-active resistance under the brilliant leadership of Colonels Sefik Aker and Mustapha Kemal. Nevertheless the balance (probably through space considerations) is on the Australians and New Zealanders for whom that fateful day came to symbolise the birth of nationhood. Unfortunately Australian leadership that day was tentative and contrary to myths the 3rd Brigade, acting as covering force, did not rush on too far, but stopped far too early, digging in on Second Ridge and awaiting the Turkish counter-attacks that would only develop many hours later. The man responsible: Colonel Sinclair-MacLagan was in a difficult position, but he abandoned the original plan as early as 06.00 that morning and the results would be catastrophic as Second Ridge came to define the hopelessly cramped perimeters of the ANZAC Corps bridgehead. The book then tracks the process of consolidation over the next few days and also examines the painful evacuation of the thousands of wounded. After the Turkish counter-attacks had failed it was evident that the Anzacs could not break out, but that thanks to a series of interlocking posts the Turks could not break in: stalemate was the result. The next few months until the August breakout attempts would be all about holding what they had - rather than pushing on to capture the Kilid Bahr Plateau that loomed over the Dardanelles forts. For the moment at least the real fight for Gallipoli had passed to the British and French at Helles. The test is liberally illustrated with well-chosen and evocative pictures, most rarely seen, and many emanating from the author's enviable collection. These are augmented by excellent shots taken recently at Anzac. The maps are more than adequate to get a firm grasp of what is going on. As to the tours the two main tours have optional extras depending on the fitness/time available to the visitor. They are well constructed and Steve points out all the relevant points of interest. For most of the readers there will be an element of wish fulfilment in purchasing this excellent book as sadly far too few people make the effort to visit Gallipoli, preferring to bask in the miseries of the Somme and Ypres on the Western Front. What I would say is - take the plunge, book on a tour and get out to experience the still relatively unspoilt battlefields of Gallipoli. On the Western Front you are often imagining how it was in, as you stand in idyllic farmlands or industrial estates with few traces of war. At Gallipoli you can still see the ridges, the trenches and sometimes - horribly - the sun bleached bones of those heroes of Gallipoli. If you do get out there then take this book to help make sense of it all. If you can't make it - then buy a copy and torture yourself with what you're missing!!!"
Peter Hart. Historian and Battlefield Guide, Imperial War Museum
"As usual by this author - the product of knowledge of the terrain as well as literary sources."
SUPERMAC
"The Allied expedition to the Dardanelles has been termed the one strategic idea of the war; yet it was also one of the most ill-managed in history. The 'easterners' within the Allied command-most notably British First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill-conceived the Dardanelles expedition as a way of removing Turkey from the war and re-opening the supply-line to beleaguered Russia. The plan initially involved forcing the Dardanelles by an Allied fleet, thus gaining access to the Black Sea and opening Constantinople to bombardment, which would almost certainly have resulted in the fall of the Turkish government. From the outset, however, the operation was appallingly mishandled. The initial naval attacks by an Anglo-French fleet under Admiral Sackville Carden were mounted in February, 1915; and by his successor, Admiral John de Robeck, a major attempt was made to force 'the Narrows' on 18 March 1915, which was unsuccessful due to the strengthening of the Turkish shore-defenses in the interim, the Turkish forces having profited greatly from German reorganization and command. Ironically, when de Robeck called of the naval attack, the Turks were on the point of collapse. The naval assault having failed, and much against the better judgement of those Allied commanders who wished to concentrate resources on the Western Front, it was decided to land an expedition on the Gallipoli peninsula, to drive up towards Constantinople. A force was assembled of British troops, a smaller French contingent, and the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) from Egypt, all under the command of the experienced Sir Ian Hamilton, a man of considerable reputation, exceptional bravery, but lacking the decisive qualities needed for the leadership of such an expedition. Using bases on islands off the Turkish coast, the Allied force assembled with some difficulty, and sufficiently slowly for the Turkish defenses to be overhauled by the German General Otto Liman von Sanders. The Gallipoli landing was mismanaged from the outset: the first landing-25 April 1915-was made by the British at Cape Helles, on the tip of the peninsula, and by the ANZACs at 'ANZAC Cove' further north, upon the western shore; and throughout the summer both forces, and the Turks, were involved in an attritional battle of quite dreadful proportions. After immense loss of life, a second landing was arranged farther north, at Suvla Bay, to coincide with further attacks upon Krithia in the south and by the ANZACs to breakout of their bridgehead. Both the later operations failed, and the Suvla Bay landing established only another small bridgehead, which even though it later linked up with 'Anzac' had no chance of achieving the success desired. Hamilton was relieved of command on 15 October 1915, and the new commander, Sir Charles Monro, recommended evacuation; and unlike the chaos of the earlier operations, the withdrawal was a masterpiece of planning, the Allies suffering not a single casualty in the operation, Suvla/Anzac being evacuated on 19-20 December 1915 and Helles on 8-9 January 1916. Both sides had suffered immense losses and had achieved miracles of heroism and fortitude in the most appalling of conditions; and in Mustafa Kemal, the Turks discovered a commander of real worth who was to make an indelible mark on the history of his nation. The predominant impression of Gallipoli, however, is one of useless, futile waste. ANZAC THE LANDING is a fitting companion to Alan Moorehead's Gallipoli and Chambers book should be considered one of the most comprehensive and detailed histories of this ill-fated campaign."
Lt. Colonel Robert A. Lynn, Florida Guard, Orlando, Florida