Logistics on Gallipoli | 22 July 1915

Kronborg

Almost in passing, a small party of sailors from the Royal Navy drop in at Mansa Bay, the final resting place of the Kronborg. Her crew and that of the Konigsberg is long gone, taking with them the vast majority of the ship’s cargo. The inspection is quick and haphazard, reporting no indications of any kind of salvage attempt. This is, ahem, not entirely in accordance with the facts, and the salvage will be of vital importance to the Schutztruppe in the coming months.

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Landings at Suvla

Back to Gallipoli. Preparations for the landings at Suvla are well underway. The men and their supplies are in theatre. But none of them yet have any idea what they’re supposed to be doing. General Stopford is only being given an outline of the plan today, two weeks before the attack is supposed to take place. (He approves of it genially, and beetles off to talk to his chief of staff, General Reed.)

Sir Ian Hamilton’s reasoning for this extreme secrecy:

I am afraid of the news filtering down to the juniors and from them, in the mysterious way news does pass, to the rank and file of both services. Thence to the Turks is but a step. Were the Turks to get wind of our plan, there would be nothing for it but to change the whole thing, even now, at the eleventh hour.

This is not an unreasonable concern, but he’s taking it to a massive extreme. No written orders will be given to anyone below corps level before the men set sail for Suvla Bay. Maps will be issued widely; but they’re all maps of Kum Kale. There are only a few maps of the Suvla area available, and they’re just as bad as the ones that screwed the ANZACs up back in April and May. Reconaissance has also been severely curtailed. Only minimal overflights by aircraft will be permitted.

This will result in a paralysing lack of information. The men will be landing with little idea of what force might be opposing them, and almost no idea of where they’re supposed to be going. The Staff will be laying plans with no idea what to plan for. Just inland from Suvla Bay is a sizeable salt lake that is usually dry by this time of year. In order to move significant numbers of men and supplies forward, the lake must be dry and passable. There’ll be so little recon permitted that nobody will be entirely sure how dry it is.

Meanwhile, Hamilton is also fighting running battles with the War Office over artillery, supplies, and medical provisions. Setting aside his lack of ammunition, mortars, doctors, and hospital ships for the moment, they’re having problems in the supply chain at the most basic of levels. Ships are arriving full-laden but with no cargo manifests, which follow weeks late, if they arrive at all. The quartermasters have no idea what’s being delivered to them. A new model of shell has been sent out that requires a new unlocking key to use. But of course, no keys arrived for nearly a month, and then on unmanifested ships.

It’s not just the field commanders and the staff officers who deserve the title of “donkeys”. The logistics effort has been painfully poor at every turn. Hankey’s points have all gone unanswered, even now, four months into the campaign.

Battle of Malazgirt

The battle turns heavily against General Oganovski’s Russians today with the arrival of the main body of the Ottoman Third Army. The Russians are being engaged in their positions on the Belican Hills on both flanks and in the centre too. By dusk Oganovski’s right is giving way, and he’s committed the last of his meagre reserves. It’s not looking good at all.

Kenneth Best

Kenneth Best arrives back at Alexandria, and reacts rather predictably to the contrast with Cape Helles.

Driven to No. 15 General Hospital, shown to room which I share with Scots officer. Grand, airy place. Went down to supper. Soup, fish, chicken, cutlets, sweets, fruit, and coffee. Drinks available whisky, beer, lime juce, hock; and all free. No wonder place is full of pampered loafers who come fearing typhoid. They ought to be dug out and sent to the trenches.

Excellent selection of books in hospital library. By Jove, it is a paradise.

Actions in Progress

Armenian Genocide
Battle of Malazgirt
Battle of the Isonzo (Second Isonzo)

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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