BMJ (Clinical Research Edition)
s New Dispatch. EVERY ONE will have read the new dispatch of Sir Ian .Iamilton describing the operations in the Dardanelles, but there are a few -points to which it seems well to call attention lhere. His first dispatch left off at the point where, on May 5th, our troops had forced their way forward for some 5,000 yards from the landing places at the point of the peninsula. There followed tlhree days of severe fighting, which resulted in a gain of 600 yards on the right of the British line, and
... 400 yards on the left and centre. The gain, though small, was important, and for the next two days the enemy made obstinate counterattacks which were all repulsed, while in the northern zone the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps strengthened their grip. On May 11th, for the first time for eighteen days and nights, it was found possible to withdraw the 29th Division from the actual firing line and to replace it by the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade and by the 42nd Division, which had completed its disemibarkation two days previously. " The withdrawal gave no respite from shells, but at least the men were, most nights, enabled to sleep." Wlhat this condition of affairs must lhave meant for the medical service can easily be imagined. The nature of the fighlting inevitably involved lheavy casualties, and as the total advance brouglht the front line less than 6,000 yards from the landing places at the point of the peninsula, there can lhave been few, if any, places where casualty clearing stations, to say nothing of field ambulances, could have been established in situations secure from long-range artillery. On May 20th, at 5 p.m., tlle appearance of wlhite flags and red crescents from the enemy's line was followed by an interview, half way between the trenches, between a Turkish staff officer, two -medical officers, and a company commander of the enemy and Major-General H. B. Walker, commanding the Australian Division. The-staff -officer proposed a suspension of arms for the removal of dead and wounded. As the officer had no written credentials he was informed that neither he nor the General Officer Commanding Australian 'Division had power to arrange a suspension of arms, but that at 8 p.m. an oppor-. tunity would be given of exchanging letters on the subject; meanwhile hostilities would recommence after ten minutes' grace. At this time some stretcher parties on botlh sides were collecting wounded, and in front of other sectioRs men with white flags came out to collect wounded. It was observed that tlle Turkislh trenches opposite ours were packed with men standing shoulder to shoulder two deep, and that columns were on tlle march in the valley up wlhich the Turks were accustomed to bring their reinforcements. Towards evening the enemy's concentration continued, and everything pointeo to tlleir intention of making use of the last of tlhe dayliglht to get their-troops into position without being slhelled by our artillery. "A message was therefore sent across to say that no clearing of dead or wounded could -be allowed during the niglht, and that any negotiations for such a purpose should be opened through the proper channel and initiated before noon on the following day. Stretcher and otlher parties fell back, and immediately fire broke out. In front of our riglht section masses of men advanced bellind lines of unarmed men holding up their lhands. Firing became general all along the line, accompanied by a heavy bombardment of the whole position, so that evidentlv this attack must have been prearranged. Musketry and machine-gun fire continued without interruption till after dark, a;nd from then up to about 4 a.m. next day." At about 4.30 a.m. on May 21st musketry fire -had died down to normal dimensions, and as the Turks seemed anxious to bury their dead, and lhuman sentiment and muedical science were both of one accord in favour of such a course, a suspension of arms was arranged from 7.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. on May 24tlh, and the procedure laid down was correctly observed on both sides. After that the figlhting continued from day to day. On June 4th the gallant IE DARDANELLES. ISEPT. 25, 1915 Manchester Brigade of the 42nd Division suffered very heavily, and in the evening that division had to be extricated with loss from the second line of Turkisl trenches. "From the date of this battle," says Sir Ian Hamilton, "to the end of the month of June, tlle incessant attacks and counter-attacks wlhich have so grievously swelled our lists of casualties have been caused by the determination of the Turks to regain ground they had lost, a deterinination clashing against our firm resolve to continue to increase our holding." On June 28th the Border Regiment rushed a small redoubt known as the Boomerang, and the 87th Brigade captured tlhree lines of Turkisl trenches. The 4tlh and 7tlh Royal Scots captured the two Turkish trenches allotted to them, but further to the east, near the pivotal point, the remainder of the 156th Brigade was unable to get on. Later the 86th Brigade, daslhing over the trenclhes captured by tlle 87tlh, pushed on witlh great steadiness and took two lines of trenclhes, whlile the Indian Brigade managed to se3ure, and place into a state of defence, a spur running from tlle west of the farthest captured Turkish trench to the sea. " Our casualties," the dispatch says, " were small-1,750 in all." In a general summing up Sir Ian Hamilton says: " During the whole period under review the efforts and expedients whereby a great arimy lhas had its wants supplied upon a wilderness have, I believe, been breakinig world records. "1 The country is broken, mountainous, arid, and void ol supplies; tlle water found in the areas occupied by outi forces is quite inadequate for their needs: the only practicable beaches are small, cramped breaks in impracticable lines of cliffs; with the wind in certain quarters no sort of landing is possible; the wastage, by bombardment and wreckage, of lighters and small craft, lhas led to crisis after crisis in our carrying capacity, wllilst over every single beaclh plays fitfully thlroughout eacih day a devastating shell fire at medium ranges.