4/5 June 1915

The first wave of the KOSB attack at noon on 4 June was, as the Official History put it, ‘practically blotted out’. The carnage was so terrible that on his own initiative their commander delayed the second wave. At 12.35, however, seeing that the Worcesters were making progress on the left and the Royal Fusiliers on the right, he sent C and D Companies forward in ‘platoon rushes’. They captured all the First Objective trenches and pressed on. By 1.00 p.m. the 88th Brigade as a whole had taken hundreds of prisoners and even reached its Second Objective, H14 (see map in yesterday’s post).

But the fortunes of the battle had fluctuated wildly. The redoubts on the Dardanelles and Aegean flanks had proved invincible, and the allied forces’ withdrawals there had exposed other troops, particularly the Royal Naval Division, to devastating enfilade fire. In the middle of the front the 127th Manchester (Territorial) Brigade had broken through the Turkish line and reached the outskirts of Krithia itself. Then they too were enfiladed from the right, but managed to maintain a salient. Across the line VIII Corps was forced to retreat and ‘conform’. At 5.15 p.m. yesterday Hunter-Weston issued orders to consolidate for the night on the ground already gained.

After the KOSB had advanced beyond the First Objective, consolidating forces swiftly moved in to strengthen the captured trenches H9a-H11 and in particular to construct a trench from them back to the old front line. However, shortly after Hunter-Weston’s 5.15 p.m. order the Turks counter-attacked. To protect themselves, the excavators piled up the corpses from the first-wave KOSB attack on either side of the new communication trench. Almost certainly, George Calderon’s body was one of them.

In their evening counter-attack, Turkish reserves pushed the Manchesters back in the centre over most of the ground captured during the day.

A year later, A.P. Herbert, who had been with the Royal Naval Division, wrote as the Dedication of his book Half-hours at Helles:

This is the fourth of June.
Think not I never dream
The noise of that infernal noon,
The stretchers’ endless stream,
The tales of triumph won,
The night that found them lies,
The wounded wailing in the sun,
The dead, the dust, the flies.

At dawn on 5 June the Turks launched more attacks. As Peter Hart has put it, that day ‘it became clear that the Allies were no longer directing the course of the Third Battle of Krithia’. Officially, the battle ended on 4 June; but clearly the Turks were still fighting it two days later.

Next entry: 6/7 June 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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