ANZAC SARI BAIR

The August Offensive was born out of the failures of the Gallipoli landings and the subsequent battles of late spring and early summer 1915. General Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, chose to play all his remaining cards in this daring and ingenious gamble that he hoped would finally turn the tide in the allies favour and bring his army up onto the heights overlooking the elusive Dardanelles.

However the plan's same ingenuity became its eventual undoing. It required complex manoeuvring in tortuous terrain; whilst many of the attacking soldiers were already weakened by the hardships of four months of enduring very poor conditions on the Peninsula. What played out was heartbreakingly tragic; command failed the bravery and sacrifice of the fighting soldier.

This Anzac offensive, fought by a combined force of British, Australian, New Zealand and Indian troops, made infamous places such as Lone Pine, The Nek, Sari Bair, Chunuk Bair, Hill Q, The Farm, Hill 971 and Hill 60. Although tantalisingly close to success, the offensive fell short of its objectives and the attack was ground down to a stalemate - not least the consequence of the inspiring leadership of Mustafa Kemal.

Hamilton's gamble had failed. This is the story, told using a rich mix of letters, diaries, photographs and maps, of Gallipoli's last battles; the forlorn hope for a decisive victory.

Book Reviews

"I hesitate to say that I enjoyed this book simply because of the absolutely chilling accounts of the fighting. ‘Enjoy’ somehow seems the wrong word. The book is, however, utterly enthralling and I have no hesitation in recommending it. The author is to be commended not only on the depth of the research and analysis but also the highly readable narrative, which is greatly enhanced by his judicious use of personal and official accounts from both sides."
David Parmee, Western Front Association
"What a pleasure it is to read a book by a knowledgeable author who is on top of his game. Many readers will be very familiar with the style, for "Anzac: Sari Bair" is from the “Battleground Europe” imprint, a series of part-history, part-tour guide works that has been building up over many years. The author should be commended for taking an all-round view of the fighting he describes, for it leans heavily on Turkish sources in addition to those of the British and Commonwealth forces. The name of Stephen Chambers will be familiar to most students of the Gallipoli campaign, from his previous body of work on the subject. He is also a frequent visitor and battlefield guide, and his knowledge and experience pays off in the narratives of this book. The book concentrates principally on the August 1915 offensive carried out by British and Commonwealth forces, against stubborn Turkish resistance, on the Gallipoli peninsula. The battlefield names ring with significance – Lone Pine, the Nek, Chunuk Bair, Hill 60. They were scenes of the most extraordinary courage and endeavour by both sides, with actions fought on precipitous slopes and in a geography that often defies description. The Sari Bair ridge, so important to the fighting in the Anzac and Suvla Bay sectors of the Gallipoli campaign, is an incredibly complex and in places a remote and rather dangerous place to visit. Even armed with good maps, the reader will not comprehend just how tangled, steep, scrubby and rocky a battlefield it is. Anyone who has walked these slopes and ridges will appreciate how wisely assembled the suggested tours in “Sari Bair” are. Some of the tours can be undertaken by car, with stops and short walks to the more accessible spots. Some can only be walked, and Chambers’ advice not to do this alone (simply because of the terrain and inaccessibility) should be taken seriously. For any student of the Great War, I would recommend that they go to Gallipoli if at all possible. “Anzac: Sari Bair” will be an essential part of your kitbag. For anyone reading it at home, there are few works that better illustrate the campaign or the place that is Gallipoli."
Chris Baker, Historian, Researcher and Battlefield Guide.
"There is an old military adage that states "You don't own the ground till you walk it". Stephen Chambers has walked the ground at Gallipoli and "owns it" in as much as any of us who did not serve there can. His knowledge of the ground and all aspects of the campaign shines through in this book, as it does in all his other books on the campaign. His easy style of writing is clear and concise, he intersperses the tactical and strategic manoeuvres with the personal stories of those who served and shows the effects of these actions on the soldiers, the regiments and the campaign. As with all of his books, he includes at the back of the books some "set-piece" tours of the area discussed in the book and safety tips for the battlefield tourist. This book while it stands alone in its own right, should be read in conjunction with all his other Gallipoli related books if you are interested in the Gallipoli campaign. What else can I say but ENJOY."
Mal Murray, Gallipoli Association
"A first class book on the ANZACS at Gallipoli highly recommended."
S.N. Anthony
"The best account of events at Anzac that I have read - packed with interesting detail."
SUPERMAC
"This complex battle epitomizes, in so far as anything can, that most complicated of campaigns which was Gallipoli. It brought together Australian, New Zealand, Maori, Indian and British New Army troops, to fight over ground which none had so far seen: and their advance over that ground was to be at night! The New Army formations were untried, and perhaps untrained for such a task, whilst the veterans from the antipodes and the Indies were weakened by their previous months of service on this ghastly battlefield, which was without proper rest camps, sanitation or sufficient medical facilities. Mr. Chambers approach to this complex battle is to deal with each sector in turn, rather than trying to follow a chronological timetable. So much here was happening at the same time, but in different areas of the battlefield, that this system produces the best result. It cannot be over-stated how well this works and thus how easily it can be understood by the reader. The potted biographies of the individuals involved add greatly to the interest, as they cover not only the commanders, but also the private and the NCO in the front line. As a battlefield guide of many years’ experience, Stephen Chambers has perhaps unique insights into the lie of the land here, and the peculiar nature of the physical geography which confronted and confounded the allies in early August 1915. His annotated photographs add greatly to the plentiful maps. Chambers concludes his description of the August 1915 action with a look at Hill 60. Though not always thought of as part of the Sari Bair offensive, Hill 60 falls within the same geographical area and therefore its inclusion here must be welcomed by the battlefield tourist. Stephen Chambers' latest opus, his fourth in this series, gives us a welcome insight into this most intricate of actions, and he guides us well and clearly around the complex geography which so troubled the allies in the summer of 1915. This book should be in the knapsack of anyone visiting Gallipoli's August battlefields."
Michael D Robson, Gallipoli Association
"This book follows the now well established pattern of the Battleground Gallipoli series as authored by the excellent Steve Chambers. It covers the main August British offensive launched on the Sari Bair range from the heights of Hill 971, through Hill Q to Chunk Bair, with the attendant diversionary attacks around 'Old Anzac'. This offensive was carried out simultaneously with the new landings made by the British IX Corps at Suvla on 6 August. Chambers excels in presenting a simple exposition of the complex plans produced by Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood's headquarters staff. Operating in wild country criss-cross-cut with ridges and valleys, the plans envisioned a series of separate, but intertwined operations by Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian formations, which relied on each other for ultimate success, but lacked the power to support each other in the event of trouble. Perhaps this did not matter as much as it might, as nearly all the component parts of the operation failed one way or another. The account of the resulting Battle of Sari Bair is wonderfully illustrated with photos and maps that attempt to bring order to the chaos. For me though the best feature is the copious quotes from those who endured the fighting. They certainly demonstrate the sheer horror of the so-called diversionary fighting which was red in tooth and claw. The accounts from the breakout columns as they struggled through the prickly scrub-filled valleys and precipitous slopes north of Anzac, are filled with desperate skirmishes on the lower hills, followed by delays and confusion as they ascended the heights. Usually the Turks managed to cover any gaps in their defences in good time to thwart the toiling columns. British leadership was generally weak, the Turks seemed far more focussed, with the splendid Mustafa Kemal playing a prominent role. After a four days, the Turks finally resolved the issue with a devastating counter-attack on 10 August which threw back the British troop clinging insecurely to a position on Chunuk Bair. After the simultaneous failure of the attempts to seize the heights surrounding Suvla Bay and a few aftershocks in the vicious fighting to secure the towering summit of Hill 60, the Gallipoli campaign was all but done. The rest of the book is an excellent series of walks around the battlefield. Good advice is given about the risks of unwary wandering in rough battlefield terrain, for the scrub has if anything got much worse since 1915. Walking without proper footwear and copious amounts of water is foolhardy! But you are in good hands if you follow Steve Chambers advice - he presents a series of sensible routes all annotated with plenty to see. The Rhododendron Ridge is one of the most fascinating and beautiful walks I have ever experienced. The views as they say are to die for..."
Peter Hart, Historian and Battlefield Guide, Imperial War Museum
"This is an excellent book. Stephen has visited the battleground and writes in an accessible style that vividly depicts the Gallipoli campaign - his knowledge of the campaign really does shine through. It is important that the Gallipoli campaign is not forgotten in the commemorations of the centenary of the First World War and as such Stephen's books are essential reading."
Susan Burnett, Author
"This excellent book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in the Gallipoli story. The amount of detail carefully explained by the author is enormous. The eyewitness accounts are very graphic and the author`s detailed knowledge of the terrain gained from numerous battlefield tours helps the reader to understand the terrible conditions that the troops on both side had to endure."
Anon