OLD soldiers and young cadets gathered in Bury to pay their respects to the bravery of eleven Lancashire Fusilier officers and 350 of their men who died on the beaches of Gallipoli in Turkey on April 25, 1915.

The annual Gallipoli Service and Parade is to remember the men of the 1st Battalion of the Fusiliers who, faced with withering Turkish fire, went down in history for their daring and famously won "Six VCs Before Breakfast."

Civic leaders and youth groups took part in the commemoration which included a march past, the laying of wreaths at the cenotaph and a service at Bury Parish Church led by Rev Dr John Findon.

The First World War alllied landings at Gallipoli, which included large numbers of Commonwealth troops, met enormous resistance from enemy Turkish forces. So high was the toll of death and injury that Anzac Day is still a public holiday in Australia and New Zealand.

Despite the heavy losses and bravery Germany's ally Turkey had concentrated so many forces on defending their coastline against invasion that early British military objectives were not met.

By the end of August the Allies had lost over 40,000 men. General Ian Hamilton asked for 95,000 more men, but although supported by Winston Churchill, Lord Kitchener - the Secretary of State for War whose face was used on the 'Your Country Needs You' posters - was unwilling to send more troops to the area.

Altogether about 480,000 Allied troops took part in the Gallipoli campaign. The British had 205,000 casualties (43,000 killed). There were more than 33,600 ANZAC losses (over one-third killed) and 47,000 French casualties (5,000 killed). Turkish casualties are estimated at 250,000 (65,000 killed).

'Anzac Day': 25 April 1915

Landing Plans

Over the ensuing month Hamilton prepared his plan for the landing-not an easy task given the rugged nature of much of the peninsula's coastline. He chose as his main focus the southern part of the Gallipoli peninsula at Cape Helles and Sedd el Bahr. While the 29th Division landed there on five separate beaches, a subsidiary landing would be made by the ANZAC Corps about twenty kilometres up the coast, north of Gaba Tepe. The Australians and New Zealanders would seize the southern part of the Sari Bair ridge before advancing across the peninsula to Maidos, from where they would mount a threat to the Kilid Bahr plateau from the rear. The French division would meanwhile make a temporary landing on the Asian shore at Kum Kale to prevent Turkish gunners there bombarding the troops landing at Helles. To divert Turkish attention, the Royal Naval Division would make a feint attack at Bulair, at the narrow neck of the peninsula.

A Demanding Task

This was a demanding task for a force which had evolved in an ad hoc fashion, was barely sufficient for its initially envisaged garrison role, and was not fully equipped, especially in ammunition. There was much improvisation in the weeks preceding the implementation of the plan, and little time to practise the landings. But a certain complacency, based on a disparaging assessment of Turkish fighting qualities, and a lack of forcefulness on Hamilton's part hindered efforts to overcome the most serious deficiencies.

Landings Schedule

The landings were originally scheduled to take place on 23 April, but weather conditions led to a delay of two days. The first ashore were to be the ANZACs, who had moved forward to Lemnos in early April. The 3rd Australian Brigade would land before dawn and advance to Gun Ridge. Following them, the 2nd Australian Brigade would occupy the Sari Bair ridge as far as Hill 971. The 1st Australian Division's remaining brigade would land by 9 a.m. as divisional reserve.

The Landing at Anzac, April 25, 1915

With the covering force in place, the Australian and New Zealand Division would then land, and the drive across the peninsula would begin. From Lemnos, the troops would be carried to the landing zone on warships (in the case of the 3rd Brigade) or on merchant ships, loaded into ships' boats and towed inshore by steamboats, and eventually rowed to the beaches. They would come ashore on a 2700-metre front with their left south of Ari Burnu on what was later dubbed Brighton Beach.

Misdirected Initial Attack

Even if all had gone to plan on the 25th, the force would have struggled to secure its objectives, especially within the time allotted. But the plan was thrown into disarray even before the troops began landing. The Australian spearhead was mistakenly directed about two kilometres north of the envisaged landing place, nearer to Ari Burnu at what was later named Anzac Cove and on a much narrower front than envisaged in the plan. The reasons for this have been hotly debated over the last eighty years, with tides, faulty navigation by the landing fleet, belated changes of orders all being canvassed. An unauthorised alteration of direction northwards by one of the midshipmen commanding a steamboat, which pulled the whole line of tows in this direction, is the most likely explanation.

Offensive Blunted by Terrain and Delays

As a consequence the troops, on landing, found themselves confronted with far more formidable natural terrain immediately inland than they would have faced at the originally planned landing place. As they pushed inland through this difficult country of tangled ravines and spurs, the various units were split up and inextricably mixed. Only a few small, uncoordinated parties managed to reach the objective, Gun Ridge. These problems were compounded by delays in landing the remainder of the 1st Australian Division, the last of which reached shore four hours behind schedule. In the meantime, the first elements of the New Zealand and Australian Division had also begun landing soon after 9 a.m., and they became intermixed with units of the Australian division.

Vigorous Turkish Defence

These deployments were made more serious by the defenders' vigorous response. In the landing zone itself there had only been two Turkish infantry companies and an artillery battery. Although these units used their dominating position to inflict substantial casualties on the invaders, they were too few to prevent the Australians from landing and pushing inland. However, exercising near Hill 971 was the 19th Division, based at Maidos and commanded by Mustafa Kemal Bey. Using his initiative Kemal rapidly deployed these forces to meet the threat posed by the ANZACs, units being thrown into battle as soon as they reached the position. A counter-attack in mid morning drove the Australians back from the 400 Plateau. Kemal then turned his attention to the right of the ANZAC position, where New Zealand troops had joined the Australians in the front line.

ANZACs Repulsed with High Casualties

A fierce struggle ensued for the Baby 700 feature, but by evening the ANZACs had been forced back from it and the Nek. In this fighting about one in five of the 3000 New Zealanders who landed on the first day became casualties. The Turks had succeeded in securing the high ground. Far from rapidly gaining their initial objectives on Gun Ridge, the ANZACs found themselves in danger of being pushed back into the sea.

Heavy losses suffered

The situation at the main British landing site at Helles, where the landings had begun at dawn, was equally unpropitious. Tactical success was gained at two of the beaches, though unimaginative leadership ensured that it was not exploited. At the main landing points the 29th Division suffered heavy losses in securing a precarious lodgement, a major achievement in itself. Many men were killed, especially at V Beach, where the improvised landing craft, the transport River Clyde, had been run ashore. The results fell far short of the first-day objectives. Not until the 26th were the Turks finally driven back and the remainder of 29th Division landed. On this second day, the first units of the Royal Naval Division came ashore.

Combined British and French Forces Fail to Advance

This division had carried out the planned feint at Bulair on 25 April. In this operation, which had little effect on the enemy, Bernard Freyberg, a lieutenant-commander in the Hood Battalion, distinguished himself for the first time, by swimming ashore to light flares with a view to misleading the Turkish defenders. A French brigade also landed during the 26th. The rest of the French division had landed at Kum Kale the previous day, but it was soon withdrawn and deployed at Helles as well. When, however, the British and French troops sought to advance towards Achi Baba on 28 April, they were held and then driven back by a strong Turkish counter-attack.

Troops Dig In

Meanwhile, at Anzac, the crisis had been surmounted. On the first night the situation had looked so dangerous that Birdwood had recommended evacuation, but this had been rejected by Hamilton, who was conscious that there was no means of carrying out such a plan. He could only urge the ANZACs to dig in. As they did so the position was gradually made more secure. Gaps in the line were plugged by further units of the New Zealand and Australian Division as they came ashore. As soon as possible, the original landing units were pulled out of the line and reorganised. Eventually Birdwood was able to establish two divisional sectors: the New Zealand and Australian Division took responsibility for the line north of Courtney's Post, and the 1st Australian Division south of it.

Another Failed Attack--'Baby 700'

These preparations were timely, for from the 27th Kemal, having received reinforcements, began to intensify the pressure on the besieged ANZACs. The deployment in the enclave of four RND battalions at Anzac Cove bolstered the defences and allowed the reorganisation of the 1st Australian Division. It also raised the possibility of forcing back the besiegers.

An attack aimed at seizing the Baby 700 feature was eventually mounted on the evening of 2 May by the New Zealand and Australian Division, with the RND battalions in support. But the plan was too ambitious. Poorly prepared and coordinated--the Otago Battalion in particular failed to make its start-line in time--the assault failed.

second bit

On 19th February, 1915, the British attacked the Turkish forts at the Dardanelles. The assault started with a long range bombardment followed by heavy fire at closer range. As a result of the bombardment the outer forts were abandoned by the Turks. The minesweepers were brought forward and managed to penetrate six miles inside the straits and clear the area of mines.

Further advance up into the straits was now impossible. The Turkish forts were too far away to be silenced by the Allied ships. The minesweepers were sent forward to clear the next section but they were forced to retreat when they came under heavy fire from the Turkish batteries.

Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, became impatient about the slow progress that Admiral Sackville Carden was making and demanded to know when the third stage of the plan was to begin. Admiral Carden found the strain of making this decision extremely stressful and began to have difficulty sleeping. On 15th March, Carden's doctor reported that the commander was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Carden was sent home and replaced by Vice-Admiral Sir John de Robeck, who immediately ordered the Allied fleet to advance up the Dardanelles Straits.

On 18th March eighteen battleships entered the straits. The fleet included Queen Elizabeth, Lord Nelson, Agamemmon, Inflexible, Ocean, Irresistible, Prince George and Majestic from Britain and the Gaulois, Bouvet and Suffren from France. At first they made good progress until the Bouvet struck a mine, heeled over, capsized and disappeared in a cloud of smoke. Soon afterwards two more ships, Irresistible and Ocean hit mines. Most of the men in these two ships were rescued but by the time the Allied fleet retreated, over 700 men had been killed. Overall, three ships had been sunk and three more had been severely damaged.

Vice-Admiral Sir John de Robeck now informed Winston Churchill that he could not capture the Gallipoli peninsula without the help of the army. General Ian Hamilton, commander of the troops on the Greek island of Lemnos, who had watched the failed navy operation, agreed and plans were now made for full-scale landings at Gallipoli.

Leaders of the Greek Army informed Kitchener that he would need 150,000 men to take Gallipoli. Lord Kitchener concluded that only half that number was needed. Kitchener sent the experienced British 29th Division to join the troops from Australia, New Zealand and French colonial troops on Lemnos. Information soon reached the Turkish commander, Liman von Sanders, about the arrival of the 70,000 troops on the island. Sanders knew an attack was imminent and he began positioning his 84,000 troops along the coast where he expected the landings to take place.

The attack that began on the 25th April, 1915 established two beachheads at Helles and Gaba Tepe. Another major landing took place at Sulva Bay on 6th August. However, attempts to sweep across the peninsula ended in failure. By the end of August the Allies had lost over 40,000 men. General Ian Hamilton asked for 95,000 more men, but although supported by Winston Churchill, Kitchener was unwilling to send more troops to the area.

On 14th October, Hamilton was replaced by General Munro. After touring all three fronts Munro recommended withdrawal. Lord Kitchener, who arrived two weeks later, agreed that the 105,000 men should be evacuated. The operation began at Sulva Bay on 7th December. The last of the men left Helles on 9th January, 1916.

About 480,000 Allied troops took part in the Gallipoli campaign. The British had 205,000 casualties (43,000 killed). There were more than 33,600 ANZAC losses (over one-third killed) and 47,000 French casualties (5,000 killed). Turkish casualties are estimated at 250,000 (65,000 killed).