01 May 1915

ANZAC - At 04.00 on 1 May the Turkish attack began as hundreds of Turks began to pour out of Wire Gully towards the positions held by the Royal Marines. Waiting for them was Private Joseph Clements of the Deal Battalion who was able to use his machine gun to devastating effect.

"There was flags flying and bugles blowing and they were coming over in droves. I'd got our gun fixed up and I sat there and I was shooting, swinging it backwards and forwards, not taking aim but you couldn't miss. No more than two hundred yards, there was so many, they weren't spread out because there wasn't the room for them to spread out owing to the rocky nature of the ground. There was a kind of an opening through which they were coming. We had this end and they were coming through the other end. I was firing, the No.2 he was seeing the belt ran and getting a belt out of the box ready. The others were taking a pot shot now and again with their rifles. You couldn't see the effects you were just firing into a kind of a big object. It didn't look like individual people. It finished all of a sudden. They just turned and there wasn't anybody there anymore." (Private Joseph Clements, Deal Bn, Marine Brigade, RND)


ANZAC - Colonel Mustafa Kemal, 19th Division, Turkish Fifth Army - Kemal decided to make a concerted push against the centre of the line on the night of 1 May. Shortly before the opening of the battle he called his commanders to his headquarters on Scrubby Knoll, on Third Ridge and addressed them with the following inspirational words.

 

Photograph: Portrait of Colonel Mustafa Kemal Bey, painted by Austria-Hungarian artist Wilhelm Victor Krauss.

 

"I am of the wholehearted opinion that we must finally drive the enemy opposing us into the sea if it means the death of us all. Our position compared to that of the enemy is not weak. The enemy's morale has been completely broken. He is ceaselessly digging to find himself a refuge. I simply cannot accept that there are amongst us and amongst the troops we command those who would not rather die here than experience a second chapter of Balkan disgrace. If you feel there are such people let us shoot them at once with our own hands."


HELLES - By the end of April the Turks had amassed a force of some 21 battalions or 17,000 men at Helles. According to the Turkish plan this should have been the moment to launch the counter-offensive to peremptorily eject the invaders from the Helles sector. Liman von Sanders was well aware that any daytime troop movements would expose his men to a potentially damaging fire from the ships that surrounded the tip of Helles.

Photograph: V Beach on 1 May by which time it had become the base for the French troops of the CEO who would be fighting on the right hand side of the Helles Peninsula alongside the Straits.

This meant that any attacks had to be at night. Orders were passed on to Colonel von Sodenstern, commanding the Helles sector, for the 9th and 7th Divisions to attack on the night of 1 May. These Turkish counter-attacks were launched with the maximum of intensity against the French on the right of the line. By this time the Colonial Brigade had come ashore and slotted into the line between the Métropolitaine Brigade and the 29th Divisions. Here there was a real problem for they had had little or no time to dig in properly. The Turkish tactics were straightforward in the extreme; they simply charged out of the night at 22.00 on 1 May. Such a night attack by massed screaming Turks was a terrifying prospect and there is little surprise that many of the French troops bolted. Groups of Turks pushed on, over-running Zimmerman's Farm some even reaching as far as Morto Bay. This was not the often cited case of 'colonial' troops failing to keep up to the mark; it was a vicious well-executed attack on exhausted troops. Once again the Turks broke through the line and pushed on almost to Sedd el Bahr where Lieutenant Henri Feuille was encamped although his 150mm guns of the 52nd Battery which still had not been disembarked.

"Fanatical Turks, good brave soldiers, were killed without mercy by our bayonets, in the hand-to-hand struggle. In the course of the night, they broke through almost to the cypress trees not far from our village. We could hear their shouts, their joyful cries in the certain belief that they were close to victory. We retreated, forced back by their savage efforts and faced, above all, of their heavy sacrifice of human lives. To cover the area of ground in front of us and above the cypresses, and to give the Turks the impression that the hill was occupied, I fired volleys of rifle fire. Nonetheless, the Senegalese were overwhelmed and fell back in disorder. To announce their advance so that their artillery could fire in support the Turks lit red flares. Green flares marked out the trenches they had recaptured and they also had white flares, found on the corpses, which they also lit to illuminate our defeat, hopeful that at any moment their hopes would be realised and, if the all powerful Allah so wished, we would be thrown without mercy into the sea. The night passed in an agonised anxiety as to the likely outcome of a hand-to-hand fight in which the fate of every life is in doubt. The dawn came at last, lighting up a scene of carnage and the Turks retired to their trenches accompanied by salvos of 75mm shells. We have held the line but the dead and the wounded are legion." (Lieutenant Henri Feuille, 52nd Battery, 30th Regiment, CEO)

SOURCE:
IWM Sound Archive Joseph Clements AC 11268, IWM Documents Atatürk Transcript, p.13, H. Feuille, "Face aux Turks: Gallipoli 1915" (Paris: Payot, 1934), p.43