Belican Hills | 16 Jul 1915

Battle of Malazgirt

The Russian Army is now in control of the Belican Hills and looking set fair for further operations. The Ottomans have fought hard, but they just don’t have enough men on the hills.

Unfortunately for the Russians, that’s far from all of the story. Third Army has been working hard to increase its strength since the Battle of Sarikamis, and it’s been concentrating its manpower south, away from Erzurum and towards the River Euphrates.

Current Russian intelligence estimates say that the enemy strength in this area can be no more than three divisions, of which one has just been evicted from the Belican Hills. In fact they have eight, although some are under-strength and some are being reinforced by Jandarma units. And now they’re moving to counter-attack.

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Louis Barthas

Anyone who’s suprised that, back in reserve, Louis Barthas is complaining about the accomodations, should probably leave the room now.

The newspapers constantly praised the care and attention of our commanders toward their men. For the months that the Tranchée Carbonniere had been used as a reserve position, no one had thought to put up a couple of shelters. Nevertheless there were some of them, occupied of course exclusively by officers, these modern-day noblemen. As for the soldiers? In the mud!

However, not all philosophically accepted their fate. A good-sized group gathered in front of the shelter of our provisional company commander, the crazy Sublieutenant Caminade. Shouts and protests burst forth, a few daring souls called for the singing of the “Internationale,” the supreme cry of revolt for the poilus.

Caminade appears to tell them that indeed, they deserve better, but c’est la guerre.

And with this cynical word, which excused so many inexcusable things during the war, His Honor Caminade disappeared back into his hole, where he could rest while the sergeant of the day handed out work details.

We’ll see what the work details are tomorrow.

Kenneth Best

Kenneth Best is still laid up in the field-ambulance.

Fragments of shell fell on roof. Wrote home, sent off official notes. Feeling better, but also weak. Temperature 100. Find myself lying next to Lieutenant Edge of 7th Lancs Fusiliers. Pretty sure he is swinging the lead. He pleaded dysentery. No signs or symptoms. Temperature normal. Said he has pains in tummy and head, which nobody can deny.

See Kirby [another padre] about doing my work. Lt M came down and said I had better go to Mudros. They had no treatment here.

He’ll soon be evacuated. He is in fact suffering from enteritis, an inflammation of the intenstines caused by bacteria. It’s rife on Gallipoli, and is particularly happy in the company of corpses. The local strains will surely never have it so good after this.

Oh, and also, although Best is rather eliding this, another symptom of the disease is heavy bouts of diarrhoea. Which is exactly what you need in a blazing Mediterranean summer when drinking water is in desperately short supply.

Actions in Progress

Gorlice-Tarnow Offensive
Armenian Genocide
Battle of Malazgirt

Further Reading

I have a Twitter account, @makersley, which you can follow to be notified of updates and get all my retweets of weird and wonderful First World War things. If you prefer Tumblr, I’m also on Tumblr.

The Daily Telegraph is republishing its archives from the war day-by-day. Worth a look. I’m reading the paper every day, and it’s where the content for Our Advertising Feature comes from.

(If you find the olde-tyme style difficult to get along with, have a look at this reading guide.)

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