Battles - The Attempt on Achi Baba, 1915

British soldier napping on a bed of shells at GallipoliMediterranean Expeditionary Force Commander-in-Chief Sir Ian Hamilton had set the capture of Achi Baba as a stated priority for operations during the Allied landing at Cape Helles on 25 April 1915.

Achi Baba was a prominent hill feature offering a commanding panorama of the Allied beachhead at Cape Helles and was therefore highly placed on the Allied list for seizure.  Hamilton and his local Helles commander Aylmer Hunter-Weston had thereafter initiated repeated attempts upon the hill feature and the local village of Krithia.

Aside from the chaotic landing attempt itself three battles had been fought at Krithia in April, May and June 1915.  All had ended in failure to secure the village or the hill.  On 28 June a further attempt, the Battle of Gulley Ravine, had similarly failed - as ever with the loss of heavy casualties.  Hunter-Weston nevertheless pressed Hamilton to allow him to try once more in mid-July.

Sir Ian HamiltonMany present-day historians have questioned the actual tactical value of the hill falling into Allied hands.  At the time however both the Commander-in-Chief and his local VIII Corps commander were in no doubt of its worth.

Thus on 12 July 1915 a final attempt was made to seize Achi Baba, Hunter-Weston having benefited from the provision of an additional division of men.  Unfortunately the attack proved unsuccessful - barely 350 yards gained - and following two days of pointless fighting Hunter-Weston called off the attempt.

As was the norm with operations from Helles casualties were inordinately high.  The Allies incurred 4,000 casualties and the Turkish force rather more, 10,000.  For all that the Turkish force suffered twice as heavily the encounter nevertheless ended with possession of Achi Baba remaining in Turkish hands.

Allied operations henceforth were chiefly sited further north at Anzac Cove and at Suvla Bay.

To view maps detailing the progress of the Gallipoli campaign click here; and here; and here; and here.

Photographs courtesy of Photos of the Great War website

"Toc Emmas" was slang for trench mortars.

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