Landings At Suvla

While costly diversions were being made at Lone Pine and the Nek, and farther away at Helles, another landing was being made at Suvla Bay on the 6th August, some distance to the north of Anzac Cove. This ill fated landing was commanded by Lieutenant General Frederick Stopford, an elderly and inexperienced general who was appointed to the command, somewhat against his will as he was overdue for retirement, by the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener himself.

The landing took place at night, which immediately caused huge complications, in part thanks to the vague and hesitant orders given to the units by Stopford. In the black of night units became mixed and were unable to find their objectives, while they came under fire from Turkish snipers. Attempts to capture the first day objective of Hill 10 failed, because nobody on the beaches knew where Hill 10 was. While confusion reigned ashore, Stopford himself chose to command from the remote position of a boat a good mile from the action. Not that his remoteness mattered in any case, as when the landings began he went to sleep.

The next day a British war correspondent offshore observed the landings from one of the transport ships. While he could hear the fighting continuing at Anzac, Suvla was comparatively quiet and "no firm hand appeared to control this mass of men suddenly dumped on an unknown shore." Progress was minimal, and the reinforcements sent onto the beaches only served to heighten the confusion. The men lacked for drinking water in the hot sun, and suffered 1700 casualties in the first 24 hours as they milled around in their confusion. Stopford remained on his boat. In fact, he was happy with the progress made. His superior, General Hamilton, commander of the campaign, was dismayed. Intelligence suggested that Turkish reinforcements would be able to reach the heights overlooking Suvla Bay by the 8th, and so the time to make decisive use of the new landing was fast running out. Unfortunately it wasn't until the evening of the 8th that Hamilton was able to visit Stopford on his boat to confront him about what was going on - he insisted that an advance was to be made immediately despite the late hour, and so the 32nd Brigade was ordered to make a two and a half mile march in darkness over extremely difficult terrain to the ridges overlooking the bay. They arrived exhausted at 4am on August 9th, only to find that the Turks had reached the heights only moments beforehand. The Turkish commanders proved more decisive than Stopford would ever be, and attacked the exhausted British with a bayonet charge, virtually annihilating them, with the remnants scattering back towards the beach.

General Hamilton had watched the battle from a naval ship offshore, and that day wrote in his diary, "My heart has grown tough amidst the struggles of the peninsula but the misery of this scene wellnigh broke it… Words are of no use.".

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