Landing At Helles

Three amphibious assaults were planned - at Cape Helles at the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula, an assault at Gaba Tepe ten miles to the north to threaten the Turkish supply lines, and a diversionary assault at Kum Kale on the Asian shore of the strait.

Helles, at the foot of the peninsula, was the main landing area. With the support of the guns of the Royal Navy, a British division was to advance 6 miles along the peninsula on the first day and seize the heights of Achi Baba. From there they would go on to capture the forts that guarded the straits of the Dardanelles.

General Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the MEF, chose to land at Helles because it allowed the navy to provide support from three sides. The disadvantage was that Helles was a long way from the forts that needed to be captured. The Helles forts made up the outer defences of the straits and had already been neutralised by naval gunfire and raids by Royal Marines. Between Helles and the forts were two naturally strong defensive positions; the hill of Achi Baba and the Kilitbahir plateau. Also, the Helles beaches were small, limiting the size of the force that could be landed. Five beaches were designated for the landing. These were, from east (inside the straits) to west (on the Aegean coast), S, V, W, X and Y Beaches. (Z Beach was the designation for the ANZAC landing site.) V and W Beaches were the main landings at the very tip of the peninsula on either side of Cape Helles itself.

The British at Helles had the misfortune of being under the command of General Aylmer Hunter-Weston, a man who would soon be loathed by his troops for his incompetence and his utter disregard for the lives of the men under his command. The landings at Helles were mismanaged, with men tightly packed into improvised landing craft who were soon to be cut to ribbons by the Ottoman defenders.

The British went into the Gallipoli campaign believing the Turk to be an indifferent fighter. The failed Turkish assault on the Suez Canal and a farcical raid near Alexandretta had reinforced this opinion. One day at Helles wiped out the misconception. Until the end of the war, the British believed they faced two Turkish divisions south of Achi Baba. Actually they had faced two battalions at the landing and only three more (the remainder from the 26th Regiment and one from the 25th) were sent to Helles during the first day. The rest of the 9th Division was tackling the Anzacs north of Gaba Tepe.

The two battalions that had landed at V Beach, the 1st Royal Dublin Fusiliers and 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, had been so badly mauled during the landing that they were combined to form a composite battalion, known as the "Dubsters". The battalions were reformed following the evacuation. The Munsters moved to the 48th Brigade of the 16th (Irish) Division in May 1916. They were joined in the 16th Division by the Dubliners in October 1917. Of the 1,100 Dubliners, only 11 would survive the entire Gallipoli campaign unscathed.

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