26 April 1915

By one o’clock this morning all the remaining first-wave troops had been safely landed at V Beach, Helles. They began to dig themselves in and cut their way through the heavy barbed wire up the beach. The navy battered the Turkish positions again and fresh troops were brought ashore, with stores and water.

At about 7.00 a.m., however, the Turks launched an attack at Y Beach and nearly drove the KOSB over the cliff-top. A ferocious charge regained the position, but panic and confusion took hold and the navy began an evacuation, which was complete by mid-day.

Although the Royal Fusiliers at X Beach and the Lancashire Fusiliers at Y Beach had joined up yesterday and with other regiments managed to take Hill 138 in the middle of the Helles front, by nightfall they had not fought their way to behind V Beach.

Here today there was a desperate shortage of leadership because so many senior ranks had thrown their lives away the day before in ‘death or glory’ heroics. But Colonel Dick Doughty Wylie stepped forward and, armed with only a swagger stick, led a charge with other officers that occupied the Sedd el Bahr Fort by 8.00 a.m. He then commanded the clearance of the village and older fort behind it in the afternoon, but was killed at the fort by a sniper because he refused to crouch down.

‘Doughty Wylie was desperately needed in his role as a staff officer: to help arrange the disembarkation of troops, reorganise formations, and ensure that a logistical framework was in place for the next step of the battle by preparing and distributing coherent plans. But his act of foolish bravado in the moment of triumph […] as a prime example of British overconfidence in the face of dangerous Turkish opposition is hard to beat’ (Peter Hart, Gallipoli, p. 168).

Doughty Wylie was the Platonic lover of the Arabist, archaeologist and formidable administrator Gertrude Bell, with whom George Calderon had worked closely in the anti-suffrage movement in 1910. She was of inestimable help to Kittie after 4 June in trying to establish what had happened to George.

By about 3.00 p.m. today the Turkish defenders of Helles were in planned retreat towards Krithia. The scattered bridgeheads at Helles were joined together, the rest of the 29th Division was got ashore, and the French 1st Brigade began to arrive.

Next entry: George Calderon’s ‘magnum opus’

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About Patrick Miles

I am a writer who specialises in Anton Chekhov and is writing a biography of George Calderon.
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