6th August, 1915. Imbros. O! God of Bethel, by whose hand thy people still are fed,—I am wishing the very rare wish,—that it was the day after to-morrow. Men or mice we will be by then, but I'd like to know which. K.'s New Army, too! How will they do? What do they think? They speak—and with justice—of the spirit of the Commander colouring the moral of his men, but I have hardly seen them, much less taken their measure. One more week and we would have known something at first hand. Now, except that the 13th Division and the 33rd Brigade gained good opinions at Helles, all is guess work.
The "Queen Bess" mentioned was the battleship "Queen Elizabeth", recalled from the Dardanelles in May of 1915 for fear of submarine attack.9th August, 1915. Imbros. With the first streak of dawn I was up on the bridge with my glasses. The hills are so covered with scrub that it was hard to see what was going on in that uncertain light, but the heavyish shrapnel fire was a bad sign and the fact that the enemy's guns were firing from a knoll a few hundred yards East of Anafarta Sagir was proof that our troops were not holding Tekke Tepe. But the Officer of the Watch said that the small hours passed quietly; no firing ashore during the hours of darkness. Could not make head or tail of it!
As the light grew stronger some of ours could be seen pushing up the western slopes of the long spur running out South-west from Anafarta. The[Pg 70] scrub was so thick that they had to climb together and follow-my-leader along what appeared to be cattle tracks up the hill. On our right all seemed going very well. Looking through naval telescopes we thought—we all thought—Ismail Oglu Tepe height was won. Very soon the shrapnel got on to those bunches of men on our left and there was something like a stampede from North to South. Looking closer we could see the enemy advancing behind their own bursting shrapnel and rolling up our line from the left on to the centre. Oh for the good "Queen Bess," her high command, and her 15-inch shrapnel! One broadside and these Turks would go scampering down to Gehenna. The enemy counter-attack was coming from the direction of Tekke Tepe and moving over the foothills and plain on Sulajik. Our centre made a convulsive effort (so it seemed) to throw back the steadily advancing Turks; three or four companies (they looked like) moved out from the brush about Sulajik and tried to deploy. But the shrapnel got on to these fellows also and I lost sight of them. Then about 6 a.m., the whole lot seemed suddenly to collapse:—including the right! Not only did they give ground but they came back—some of them—half-way to the sea. But others made a stand. The musketry fire got very heavy. The enemy were making a supreme effort. The Turkish shell fire grew hotter and hotter. The enemy's guns seemed now to be firing not only from round about Anafarta Sagir, but also from somewhere between 113 and 101, 2,500 yards or so South-west of Anafarta. Still these fellows of ours; not more than a quarter of those[Pg 71] on the ground at the outset—stuck it out. My heart has grown tough amidst the struggles of the Peninsula but the misery of this scene well nigh broke it. What kept me going was the sight of Sari Bair—I could not keep my eyes off the Sari Bair ridge. Guns from all sides, sea and land, Turks and British, were turned on to it and enormous explosions were sending slices off the top of the high mountain to mix with the clouds in the sky. Under that canopy our men were fighting for dear life far above us!
Between 7.30 and 8.0 the Turkish reinforcements at Suvla seemed to have got enough. They did not appear to be in any great strength: here and there they fell back: no more came up in support: evidently, they were being held: failure, not disaster, was the upshot: few things so bad they might not be worse. By 8.0 the musketry and the shelling began to slacken down although there was a good deal of desultory shooting. We were holding our own; the Welsh Division are coming in this morning; but we have not sweated blood only to hold our own; our occupation of the open key positions has been just too late! The element of surprise—wasted! The prime factor set aside for the sake of other factors! Words are no use.
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