General William Birdwood on his last visit to Anzac Cove, December 19th 1915 (Image © IWM Q 13683)

100 Years Ago Today: British ministers order Gallipoli pull-out

Posted on on 07 December 2015
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The British Government ordered the withdrawal of Allied troops from Anzac Cove and Suvla on December 7th 1915, signalling the end of the Gallipoli campaign.

Preparations had already started to implement Lord Kitchener's recommendation. The War Minister was persuaded in favour of pulling out during his tour of the front-line in mid-November.  

It followed months of fruitless attempts to break Turkish resistance and take control of the Gallipoli peninsula, and with it access to the Ottoman capital, Constantinople (present-day Istanbul).

Torrential rain and blizzards at the end of November added to the Allies' difficulties.

After all the failures at Gallipoli, the evacuation is generally viewed as the most successful part of the entire operation.

Tens of thousands of troops were taken off the beachheads in the space of a month, with minimal casualties.

The challenge was to get the men and large quantities of equipment away in phases without exposing them to the risk of attack by Ottoman forces.

A self-firing rifle, invented by an Australian soldier, William Scurry, was among the ruses used to give the impression of a continued Allied presence.

The evacuations of Anzac Cove and Suvla were completed by December 20th 1915.

Orders followed from British ministers after Christmas to withdraw from the remaining positions at Helles, on the southern tip of the Gallipoli peninsula.

Despite an Ottoman attack, the last Allied soldiers, who included a rearguard from the Newfoundland Regiment, departed on January 9th 1916.

Sources: Wikipedia/various

Images courtesy of Imperial War Museums (© IWM Q 13683)

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News