08 October 1915
The first heavy autumn storm hits the Gallipoli Peninsula. It causes damage to military equipment and contaminates water supplies. This is a sign of things to come if the ANZACs remain in the Peninsula for the impending winter.
12 October 1915
General Hamilton, when asked of the likely consequences of an evacuation of Gallipoli, states that “It would not be wise to reckon on getting out of Gallipoli with less loss than that of half the total force… we might be lucky and lose considerably less than I have estimated”.
Shortly after, General Hamilton is dismissed as commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) and General Charles Monro takes his place.
25 October 1915
Private James Martin dies of Typhoid fever. He is later confirmed to have been just 14 years of age and is therefore widely accepted as the youngest Australian soldier to die in the Gallipoli campaign.
31 October 1915
General Monro updates Field Marshal Lord Kitchener with his assessment since taking command of the MEF. He advises withdrawal from Gallipoli is required and later estimates a casualty rate of 30-40%.
04 November 1915
Field Marshal Lord Kitchener dismisses General Monro and appoints Lieutenant General Birdwood as temporary commander of the MEF. Field Marshal Lord Kitchener later visits Gallipoli and re-appoints General Monro as overall commander of the Gallipoli operation, seemingly accepting the hopeless state of affairs in the Peninsula.
15 November 1915
Sir Winston Churchill, largely regarded as the architect of the Gallipoli campaign, resigns from the British Government to serve with the British Army in France.
22 November 1915
Field Marshal Lord Kitchener advises the British War Council that Gallipoli must be evacuated.
27 November 1915
Two days of severe blizzards kill more than 280 ANZACs. 16,000 cases of frostbite and exposure are recorded.
07 December 1915
Approval is given for evacuation of the ANZAC and Suvla Bay positions by the British Government. They would not approve the evacuation of Cape Helles until 27 December.
07 to 20 December 1915
The ANZAC position is steadily collapsed and evacuated under the cover of darkness each night. By mid-month it is well known across the ANZAC position that a withdrawal is underway, with the graves of the fallen tidied up between retrograde tasks.
Image 1: A delayed action device, commonly called a drip rifle, invented by Lance Corporal William Charles Scurry (later Captain W C Scurry MC DCM) of the 7th Battalion, AIF, for firing a rifle by means of weights operated through water escaping from one tin into another. A rifle could be left to operate 20 minutes after the device was set. Six rifles were left by 3rd Brigade to fire following the departure of the last party.
During the first phases of the withdrawal the ANZACs conduct what is known as ‘silent stunts’ where all firing would cease followed by irregular rifle and artillery fire. This intended to deceive the Turks into thinking preparations for winter were underway. As the force numbers reduced in the trenches, the remaining soldiers maintain the weight of fire to what could be expected by the Turks. In the final phase of evacuation six ’drip rifles’ are used to fire for up to 20 minutes after the final soldiers leave the trenches. The ‘drip rifles’, invented by Lance Corporal William Charles Scurry aid the highly successful withdrawal with very few casualties sustained and the Turks remaining unaware until the very end.
Image 2: A fairly common sight for the Anzacs during the Gallipoli campaign – a British warship shelling the Turks. Here the battleship HMS Cornwallis is firing at Turkish positions on 20 December 1915, the day after the final evacuation. Cornwallis was the last Royal Navy vessel to leave Anzac Cove. It had also been the first to open fire on the Dardanelles forts on 19 February 1915.
25 December 1915
Christmas is celebrated in Lemnos after the evacuation.
07 January 1916
Turkish forces launch an attack on the remaining 19,000 British troops at Cape Helles. These troops are successfully withdrawn from the Peninsula on the nights of 08 and 09 January 1916, officially drawing the bloody Gallipoli campaign to a close.
Although at the time the ANZACs entered World War I the war had already progressed on the Western Front, both Australia and New Zealand fought their first campaign at Gallipoli. The campaign was designed to create asymmetry by removing Turkey from the war. Although it failed to meet that end state, it was where national military identity was first formed for Australians and New Zealanders. To this day the actions of our forebears hold an important place in our history and national identity.
By the end of the Gallipoli campaign, death figures stood at 8,709 Australians, 2,779 New Zealanders, 1,358 Indians, as well as tens of thousands of British and French troops. Although victorious, the Ottoman Empire lost an estimated 86,692 Turkish and Arab troops defending Gallipoli. Although the campaign was a military failure for the Allies, the successful evacuation at Gallipoli enabled the reorganisation and reallocation of Australian and New Zealand troops to other theatres in the war. The Australian Light Horse were employed in the Middle East. I and II ANZAC Corps were created to serve on the Western Front. I ANZAC Corps would be made up of 1st and 2nd Australian Divisions from Gallipoli and a newly formed New Zealand Division. II ANZAC Corps would be made up of a newly formed 4th and 5th Australian Division with remnants of Gallipoli veterans included.