HELLES - Lieutenant Joseph Vassal, Medical Officer, 6th Colonial Regiment. Brigade Coloniale, 1st Division,CEO - The french contribution at Gallipoli often goes with very little mention. One of the great books on the campaign is by this medical officer and published in english under the title "Uncensored Letters from the Dardanelles". Vassal described the aftermath following the Turkish counter attack during the night of 1 - 2 May 1915.
"The noise died down. We had the advantage. I got up at daybreak, stiff, tired, headachy, but ready for the day's work all the same. I went to the dressing station, then on to the plateau, where fighting had been in progress. I took an epaulette from a Turkish captain. Many dead. Horrible wounds. Bayonets used. Magnificent men, the Turks as well as ours. Turks, whites, blacks were all mixed up. Men of the 175th, 6th, 4th, and Zouaves.
M. Huguenin was found dead, struck by many bullets. I went to the staff officers' camp. Nibaudeau or Sinomin will command the 6th Regiment. The 175th is commanded by a lieutenant, the only surviving officer. Not a single officer of the engineers remains."
The graves of Lieutenant Huguenin and Captain Blanchard are marked. There are already other cemeteries for our regiment. That of the 175th Regiment is a little further on, with no special boundary. Before leaving the graves I see a Senegalese bring some flowers (poppies); he puts them down just on Blanchard's grave. I imagine the suffering of their loved ones; and I move away so that these men may not see my tears."
HELLES - Helped by a supporting fire from the Royal Navy, the French counter-attacked vigorously the morning of 2 May and managed to regain the ground they had lost in the Turkish night attack at Helles on the night before. Alongside them were the 2nd Naval Brigade of the RND who had hitherto been held back in reserve since they were put ashore on the night of 29 April.
With no real knowledge of the situation or indeed where they were, the Hood Battalion began to advance. It was utterly futile and they soon attracted a good deal of shrapnel fire. With no time to dig in, unsupported on either flank, they were hopelessly exposed and soon had to retreat. As they did so Lieutenant Charles Lister was wounded in somewhat undignified circumstances.
"My company being in the second line retired last, and by the time we were moving the whole of our front was being searched with terrible effect. One of the shrapnel burst on the ground about thirty yards behind me and a pellet ricocheted the ground and struck me in the off-buttock. I thought it was a piece of stone at first. I had already been hit by several spent pellets without any effect. One went through coat and shirt and hardly marked my skin; another knocked in my water-bottle. However, this third one found its billet, and I was soon bleeding like a pig and walking indifferent well - I never fell down. It was an irritating moment, as I should have been there to rally our boys after the retirement. They did well, considering the trying circumstances and their relative rawness. I never saw a Turk within shooting distance. My return to the beach was easily accomplished for me on a stretcher, not so easily perhaps for the poor orderlies who had to carry me, and I had a feeling of great peace as I lay on my back and looked at the blue overhead. I should like to get back quick, because I have seen just enough to tantalize. It is rather like love-making in this." (Lieutenant Charles Lister, Hood Battalion, 2nd Naval Brigade, RND)
Lister had tried to conceal his wound, but was given away when his trousers filled with blood. Overall the Allied counter-attacks achieved very little but more casualties.
ANZAC - On the night of 2 May Captain Kenneth Gresson of the Canterbury Battalion was warned that he would be required to launch a company attack from Walkers Ridge in support of operations at the head of Monash Valley that were intended to capture Battleship Hill. Mistaken reports had caused General Godley to believe that there was still a chance they could break through. Gresson showed considerable initiative and great moral courage that night.
"On receiving these orders I immediately went up to the top of Walker's Ridge with the officers and made a reconnaissance as well as I was able through the periscope. As soon as it was dark I took the Company into the Wellington trenches and led them over the parapet into the dense scrub in front. The ground was thickly covered with Turkish dead and the stench was horrible. As soon as I had got all the Company out and lying down in the bushes I went forward with two scouts to examine the ground in front which was entirely unknown to me. I found as I expected a narrow neck or saddle connecting the ridge we were on with the hill which was our objective and across this ran a track about two feet wide. It had evidently been used by the Turks on returning for it was well worn and strewn with corpses. On advancing along this I found that the other end was commanded by two Turkish trenches one of which was firing but not in our direction though a few stray bullets came across occasionally. It was at once evident to me that any attempt to take the Company across this narrow track must result in failure as the neck would be swept from these trenches either with rifle fire or by machine guns and men could not be put across in sufficient numbers to assault. I consulted two of my officers and found they supported me in my opinion. I accordingly returned to Walker's Ridge and making my way to Brigade Headquarters informed the Brigadier that I considered it would be foolish to attempt the crossing. Although obviously reluctant to abandon the scheme he left the matter in my hands and I returned to the Company and ordered them to retire which was accomplished without any confusion." (Captain Kenneth Gresson, Canterbury Battalion, New Zealand Brigade, NZ&A Division, NZEF)
J. Vassal, "Uncensored Letters from the Dardanelles" (London: William Heinemann, 1916), C. Lister quoted by Lord Ribblesdale, "Charles Lister: Letters and Recollections" (London: T. Fisher Unwin Ltd, 1917), p.168-169, IWM Documents, K M Gresson, diary entry 2/5/1915