Topic: BatzG - Nek
Gallipoli, 7 August 1915
Brigadier General Hughes account
Hidden amongst the signal returns issuing from Gallipoli, this gem was discovered. It is the immediate post battle report of Colonel Hughes regarding the charge at the Nek. It is a most peculiar account which does not accord at all with the available evidence. The account will speak for itself and says a great deal about the man who wrote this despatch.
Despatch on Operations 6/7 August 1915
No. 4 Section, Russell's Top
I have the honor to report that in compliance with the Operation Orders contained in Divisional Order 11 and subsequent instructions, the dispositions of the Force under my command were accordingly prepared and every possible effort made to carry out the task assigned to me. (My Operational Orders have already been submitted to you.)
The Navy and Artillery shelled the Nek and Chessboard from 0400 to 0430 with increasing rapidity. From 0420 very heavy rifle fire and incessant MG Fire continued from the whole of the positions in front without intermission.
At precisely 0430 the 1st Line, followed by the 2nd (8th LH) jumped out of the saps and trenches in the face of an overwhelming rifle and MG fire, our position having been
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heavily shelled up to midnight.
The fire was so deadly that only a few of the 1st Line on our extreme right reached the enemy trenches. This and the other two lines were almost decimated, so much so that I withdrew the few who were not shot down and sent them with the Cheshire Infantry Battalion to support two companies of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers detailed to attack the "C" Trenches via Monash Gully. The Royal Welsh Fusiliers soon after opening their attack were held up by heavy MG and bomb fire and could make no headway. After perservering or make any impression on the Turk's defences.
Units were then collected and dispositions made to resist any possible counter attack.
In my mind the whole of the enemy's trenches are fully manned and the position bristles with MGuns, a few of which only had been located.
In my opinion the position is impossible to capture by frontal attack.
The casualties are heavy so far as can be gathered. 410 out of about double the number who took part
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in the assault. Of these, 16 out of 18 Officers of the 8th ALH were casualties.
I desire to bring under your special notice the gallant conduct of Lieutenant Colonel AH White, CO 8th LH Regiment who notwithstanding he had only partially recovered from a shell head wound received on June 30th, took command of the 1st assaulting line and insisted on leading his men in the face of the heavy MG fire and is reported to have fallen before the trenches were reached. This cool and gallant conduct was one fo the finest examples of leadership that could possibly be imagined. Many of his men fell before they left their own parapets. It is with the deepest regret that I have to report the death of Lieutenant Colonel Miell, CO 9th ALH Regiment. He was a keen energetic soldier who always did his duty well and conscientiously. I cannot refrain also from referring to the splendid behaviour and discipline of the troops who charged forward so bravely in the face of such overwhelming and heavy bomb and MG fire.
All honour to
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those men who did their best for King and Empire.
In conclusion may I express my appreciation of the gallant services of the officers and men of the 2nd Cheshire Battalion and the 8th Royal Welsh Fusiliers Battalion.
I must also record the very valued assistance I have received from my Brigade Major Lieutenant Colonel JM Antill CB, whose keen and energetic services have always been of most value to me.
I intend to bring under your notice in a subsequent report some of those instances of gallantry which are being brought under my immediate notice.
Points to note:
1. The shelling is stated to have occurred from 0400 to 0430 when it is clearly known that the bombardment ceased at 4.21 a.m., a critical difference as far as the charging lines were concerned.
2. 0420 and the machine guns fire - this did occur from Turk's Point.
3. Hughes mentions that men of the first wave made it to the Turkish trenches. This is possibly the flag seen in the Turkish trenches that led to the launch of the next wave to support the survivors.
4. Hughes mentions the Cheshires and Welch Fusiliers, something missing from most Australian accounts of the Nek.
Citation: The Nek, Gallipoli, 7 August 1915, Brigadier General Hughes account