|A French Artillery Crew with Some Australian Visitors |
on the Cape Helles Front
It is often forgotten that the French made a major contribution at Gallipoli. On the first day of the landings their forces sent to capture Kumkale on the Asian side were the only troops to accomplish their objective. When moved across the straits they held down a good part of the Allied right flank at Helles through the fall of 1915. Things were basically stagnant all along the Cape Helles sector. As French soldier Arnaud Pomiro wrote home, "So it’s siege warfare, or if one prefers, trench warfare, exactly as on the French front. I see no end to it."
|General Gouraud After a Successful Operation|
The French troops, however, were considered something of a weak link until placed under the command of General Henri Gouraud, a future "Western Front star," who arrived in May. It was Gouraud who organized the limited, but impressive, advance by French units on 21 June 1915. His men, though, soon lost their gifted commander. On 30 June 1915, Gouraud became one of the highest-ranking officers of the war to be wounded. He lost an arm and broke both legs as a result of being hit with numerous fragments from the explosion of an artillery shell. The effectiveness of the French forces around Cape Helles diminished noticeably after his evacuation when he was replaced by a general of lesser caliber.
|French Cemetery at Cape Helles|
The sacrifices of the 42,000 metropolitan and colonial French soldiers that served at Gallipoli is honored at a cemetery and memorial above S Beach where there are over 2,000 graves and four ossuaries with 3,000 skeletons each. Fully one third of the troops France deployed to Gallipoli found their final resting place there.