29 December 1915

HELLES - On 29th December two brigades of the 13th Division, already experienced in the art of evacuation by sea in presence of an enemy, were shipped across from Imbros in relief of the 42nd Division. This was made to look like IX Corps, freshly evacuated from Suvla, would be replacing VIII Corps. New piers were being constructed and older ones repaired to provide evacuation points from Gully Beach, X Beach, W Beach and V Beach. The total number on shore at Helles on this day was estimated to be 40,000 of all ranks, with 150 guns and 4500 animals, not including stores. For the Turks life looked as if it was normal. Guns and troops were still being landed during the day, although under the cover of darkness the garrison began to dwindle.

It was also a normal working day for Joe Murray who was mining in the Krithia Nullah sector. Only the day before his unit had reached a position underneath the Turkish Redoubt, known as G11a, from where they had now primed two large mines, the object of which was to destroy the redoubt and allow the joining up of the trenches across the gullies.

G11a was a peculiar trench situated on a tongue of land between the two branches of the Krithia Nullah, some few hundred yards north of a point where the nullah divided. The ground on both sides of this trench stood about forty feet high and was held by the British entirely on the west side and partly on the east side. Owing to the British overlooking this trench the Turks did not occupy it during daylight, but it was decided that they sent a few men forward at night to garrison this trench. Several frontal attacks had been made earlier in the year on this trench but without success. It was accordingly decided that on this occasion the Engineers would place charges directly beneath G11A, as opposed to the December 19 (see On This Day) attack when tactics were different. This time the plan was total destruction of this little Turkish thorn.

“Everything was ready and the troops were assembled. At the appointed moment the plunger was pushed down and the redoubt that had held up our advance across the Gully on the nineteenth ceased to exist. In a matter of minutes the Royal Scots Fusiliers were firmly established across the Gully. A communication trench that ran from the redoubt to the Turkish main line was barricaded and used as an advanced bombing sap. Between forty and fifty prisoners were taken. The usual firing went on all day and most of the night but our men held on to their gains.” (Ordinary Seaman Joseph Murray, Hood Battalion, 2nd Brigade, RND attached to VIII Corps Mining Engineers)

For the Turks at least, this must have gone some way into making them believe that an evacuation of Helles was someway off? Inevitable, probably yes, but the question was when?

SOURCE:
J. Murray, “Gallipoli As I Saw It” (William Kimber: London 1965), pp. 181-182.