Counterattacks At Anzac

Assessing the situation on the first night, the consensus reached within the Anzac command was to re-embark the troops and abandon the Anzac landing. This was partially motivated by a mistaken belief, garnered from over-optimistic Staff reports, that the Helles landing had been a success. The main concern was that the ANZACs were in no condition to withstand a major Turkish counter-attack which everyone anticipated would occur the following morning. However, General Hamilton refused to evacuate the landing. To do so before dawn on the 26th would have been impossible anyway, as the transports and boats were scattered or damaged and those that were serviceable were engaged in loading the vast ranks of wounded men, lying on the beach. Hamilton concluded his order with:

"You have got through the difficult business, now you have only to dig, dig, dig, until you are safe."

Dawn came and went on April 26 without a Turkish attack. The Turks of the 9th and 19th Divisions were as exhausted as the ANZACs and had lost nearly as heavily in the first day's fighting. The fresh divisions with which an attack could have been made, the 5th and 7th Divisions, had been held at Bulair all day on the 25th.

The 26th was not without bloodshed for the Australians. In a tragic fiasco, the one battalion of the 1st Division that had survived the landing relatively unscathed, the 4th Battalion, made a general advance, marching north across 400 Plateau along no man's land. They were cut to pieces crossing Lone Pine. A few reached Johnston's Jolly where they sought shelter. The exact reason for the disaster was never determined but it seems that the 4th Battalion, expecting the ANZAC advance to resume at any time, had followed a movement on their left when General Bridges had instructed troops on Lone Pine to straighten their line.

On April 27, Mustafa Kemal had the troops he needed to launch his general counter-attack with the intention of driving the ANZACs into the sea. The attack was made on the entire Anzac perimeter, from Baby 700 in the north, along the second ridge, across 400 Plateau and down Bolton's Ridge to the beach. The critical situation at Helles meant that most Turkish reserves were dispatched there, however Mustafa Kemal had received the Turkish 33rd and 64th Regiments and his 72nd Regiment was still largely intact. He counter-attacked with five regiments, keeping the 33rd in reserve, but poor communications meant that his battalions did not coordinate their movements.

At 2.30pm, the 57th Regiment attacked in six waves, advancing down Battleship Hill. In view of the British naval forces, the HMS Queen Elizabeth put six 15-in shells amongst the Turkish lines, scattering them and breaking the attack. The Turks resumed the attack at the Nek under the cover of darkness but were driven off by 10pm. The 3rd Battalion of the Turkish 72nd Regiment attempted to attack across the Chessboard against Pope's Hill but were caught in enfilading fire from a small Australian outpost near Quinn's. Elsewhere the Turks were able to get close, but not break into, the Anzac posts along the second ridge. At 11am a large force had advanced across Lone Pine towards the Australian line but were driven off by noon. After nightfall a Turkish attack was made against Bolton's Ridge but, aided by field artillery guns firing over open sights, the attackers were held off, despite getting to within 25 yards (23 m) of the Australian trenches. For the time being, the Anzac landing was safe.

On April 28 the Anzacs were reinforced by the arrival of four battalions of the Royal Naval Division; the Chatham, Portsmouth and Deal Battalions of the Royal Marine Brigade and the Nelson Battalion of the 1st Royal Naval Brigade. These were sent in along the second ridge and 400 Plateau to relieve the Australian 1st and 3rd Brigades which had been under constant pressure since the landing. The relieved brigades attempted to reorganise on the beach.

Meanwhile Mustafa Kemal planned a third counter-attack, having received five new battalions. Having failed in their first two attempts, the Turks were now entrenching opposite the Anzac firing line so that a distinct system of trenches became established. Preliminary moves were made on April 30 but the main counter-attack was launched on May 1. The newly-arrived Marines suffered the most under the attack but as with the two previous efforts, it was completely defeated. For the time being, Mustafa Kemal accepted he had insufficient resources to dislodge the invaders. The Anzac battlefield had reached a stalemate. For General Hamilton, the Helles front was paramount and over the following months it would be the scene of a series of bloody engagements as the British and French edged imperceptibly closer to their first day objectives of Krithia and the hill of Achi Baba. The majority of reinforcements were directed to Helles, Anzac receiving only the dismounted Australian light horse and New Zealand mounted regiments.

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