Here was a tough proposition to tackle in the darkness, but these colonials are practical above all else, and they went about it in a practical way. They stopped a few moments to pull themselves together and to get rid of their packs, which no troops should carry in an attack, and then charged their magazines. Then this race of athletes proceeded to scale the cliffs without responding to the enemy’s fire. They lost some men, but did not worry, and in less than a quarter of an hour the Turks were out of their second position, either bayoneted or in full flight.
Dardanelles, April 26.
After the events I have previously described, the light gradually became better and we could see from the London what was happening on the beach. It was then discovered that the boats had landed rather further north of Gaba Tepe than was originally intended, at a point where the sandstone cliffs rise very sharply from the water’s edge. As a matter of fact, this error probably turned out a blessing in disguise, because there was no glacis down which the enemy’s infantry could fire, and the numerous bluffs, ridges, and broken ground afford good cover to troops once they have passed the forty or fifty yards of flat, sandy beach.
This ridge, under which the landing was made, stretches due north from Gaba Tepe and culminates in the height of Coja Chemen, which rises 950 feet above the sea level. The whole forms part of a confused triangle of hills, valleys, ridges, and bluffs which stretches right across the Gallipoli Peninsula to the Bay of Bassi Liman above the Narrows. The triangle is cut in two by the valley through which flows the stream known as Bokali Deresi.
It is indeed a formidable and forbidding land. To the sea it presents a steep front, broken up into innumerable ridges, bluffs, valleys, and sand pits, which rise to a height of several hundred feet. The surface is either a kind of bare and very soft yellow sandstone, which crumbles when you tread on it, or else it is covered with very thick shrubbery about six feet in height.
It is, in fact, an ideal country for irregular warfare, such as the Australians and New Zealanders were soon to find to their cost. You cannot see a yard in front of you, and so broken is the ground that the enemy’s snipers were able to lie concealed within a few yards of the lines of infantry without it being possible to locate them. On the other hand, the Australians and New Zealanders have proved themselves adepts at this form of warfare, which requires the display of great endurance in climbing over the cliffs and offers scope for a display of that individuality which you find highly developed in these colonial volunteers. To organize anything like a regular attack on such ground is almost impossible, as the officers cannot see their men, who, the moment they move forward in open order, are lost among the thick scrub.