Gallipoli: The situation

To Hamilton’s request for ‘two fresh divisions organized as a corps’ (see my post of 6 May), Kitchener replied on 10 May that he could send him only one. This was the 52nd (Lowland) Division, which would take almost a month to arrive.

Hamilton and his staff desperately debated what to do next. If they could not break through soon, there would never be a return to open warfare and progress for the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on the peninsula. As it was, the Army’s guns were rationed to two shells a day, although the navy was well stocked with munitions. The order now went out to reduce the gap between the opposing trenches from half a mile to an ‘assaulting distance’ of 200-250 yards. This was to be done by sapping and night advances.

Meanwhile, after the failure of the Second Battle of Krithia Hamilton was expecting a Turkish counter-attack. The War Minister, Enver Pasha, visited the peninsula on 10 May and it was decided to concentrate on destroying the Anzac bridgehead first, starting tomorrow. Following the arrival at Gallipoli of their 2nd Division, in this sector the Turks outnumbered the invaders by more than two to one.

In London, another disaster struck. The superannuated but publicly loved Admiral Fisher resigned on 15 May as First Sea Lord over what he saw as the vulnerability of British ships at the Dardanelles. This and the Shell Crisis (see my post of 8 May) precipitated the collapse of the Liberal government a hundred years ago today. ‘Gallipoli’ was becoming a dirty word and everyone was looking for someone to blame for it.

Just as at Ypres, then, Calderon was sailing with unerring accuracy into the eye of a storm.

Next entry: 18 May 1915

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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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