Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gallipoli: The August 1915 Offensive

What Seems to Be an Overwhelming Force Landing at Suvla Bay

The battleship assault of 18 March had failed.  The landings of 25 April at Cape Helles and Anzac Cove had simply created two miniature Western Fronts on the Gallipoli Peninsula.  Something had to be done to retrieve the vast investment in resources.

A new Dardanelles Committee was set up. It included Churchill, but not in a senior role. The original Gallipoli land campaign was under-resourced and had not been properly planned. The pre-invasion reconnaissance had been woefully inadequate.  This was all to be corrected.

The committee approved reinforcements which would arrive for an offensive that was eventually launched in August and is thus known as the August Offensive. It's more often referred to as the Suvla Bay Operation, but that's somewhat misleading. Although Suvla Bay was the site of the main reinforcements landing, there was also a major attack out of the original Anzac position, as well as efforts to pin down Turkish forces at Lone Pine on the right flank at Anzac and on the Helles peninsula.

Fighting took place throughout the month into September, but as the chronology below shows, the effort was decisively defeated within five days and the Gallipoli Campaign was doomed. The stalemate that followed was the worse period at Gallipoli, with the survivors of both sides plagued by heat, insects, disease, and even a murderous flash flooding of the trenches.

The August (Suvla) Offensive: Major Events: 6 – 10 August 1915

6 August 1915
August Offensive begins at Anzac, aimed at capturing the heights of the Sari Bair Range.

Attacks at Helles and Lone Pine aimed at holding down Turkish reinforcements from the main thrust of the August Offensive.

At 10:30 p.m. British troops began landing at Suvla Bay.

7 August 1915
Attacks at the Nek are annihilated. British forces make little headway at Suvla while the forces in the Sari Bair range also failed to seize their objectives.

8 August 1915
New Zealanders, backed up by British units, capture Chunuk Bair and fight off fierce Turkish counterattacks.

British forces made little progress at Suvla against reinforced Turkish forces personally directed by Mustafa Kemal.

9 August 1915
6th Gurkha Rifles, take Hill Q to the north of Chunuk Bair but are forced to retire when a supporting force fails to reach them.

Turkish reinforcements begin massing behind Chunuk Bair and at Suvla.

General Sir Ian Hamilton personally visits Suvla in an attempt to get the stalled British advance moving forward.

Turkish reinforcements, under the command of Mustafa Kemal, beat back the British from key positions in front of Tekke Tepe, Hill 60, and Scimitar Hill.

Mustafa Kemal, Turkish Area Commander During August

10 August 1915

Lieutenant-Colonel Mustafa Kemal — again in command — leads Turkish soldiers in a successful counterattack against British troops on the peak of Chunuk Bair.

A second attack on Scimitar Hill also was defeated. The British had failed to gain the heights and the August Offensive was a failure.

Chronology adapted from the Australian Department of Veterans' Affairs Website


  1. You posted this a day too early!

  2. A very good sketch of events. Excellent images - thank you.

  3. Always an interesting campaign and demonstrated what poor planning and the lack of reliable communication as on the Western Front defeated efforts for successful attacks to be supported result failure