21 May 1915

ANZAC - The Australian war correspondent Charles Bean was beginning to become aware of some of the logistical problems that faced the campaign. The United Kingdom was some 2,000 miles away and the nearest 'real' base was that of Alexandria back in Egypt. This undoubtedly possessed everything required from a port, equipped as it was with spacious quays, cranes, lighters, tugboats, plentiful labour and of course capacious storage areas. Yet it was nearly 700 miles from Alexandria to Gallipoli.

The advanced base of Mudros on the island of Lemnos some 60 miles from Helles was different and although it was indeed a good natural anchorage that was all it offered. A little further forward at Imbros was the Advanced Supply Depot, but even then there were still 15 miles of open sea between there and the Peninsula. All the countless thousands of tons of stores had to be transhipped from Mudros or Lemnos by much smaller 500-ton steamers by night to the beached. It was only with great difficulty and a great deal of manpower that the foodstuff, munitions and all the plethora of daily stores were unceremoniously deposited on these open beaches. Makeshift piers were constructed but these were ephemeral in the face of the raw power of the sea. There was certainly no security, no safe harbour here in the event of a storm, while manmade destruction was always threatening from the Turkish shells that crashed down in a random fashion.

"Today was fine, but for some reason there was a slight swell coming in from the north-west on to our beach. Il was not much bit it made the old lighters and pontoons rock; and it gave one an idea of what extraordinary luck we have had in the matter of weather. We have not had one rough day - not one day even mildly disturbed. Except for one occasion, when there was a wind from off the shore - which of course did not affect us - we have had glassily smooth seas from the day we landed. It only makes one wonder again what I have asked myself again and again since we landed: "What arrangements have been made for water and supplies in case real rough weather sets in?" We have two old water pontoons on the beach - or possibly one - which are filled by water from Alexandria or Malta. But a single storm would finish them - there is no reserve at all on the beach - no provision for condensing that I know of. A certain number of wells have been sunk at the mouths of gullies and the trenches are partially supplied from these - as far as possible. The few people I have asked about it say : "Oh we've only got this ships water coming every now and then from Alexandria - it's very limited." But in goodness name why is it limited? They have any quantity of water at the point - you can't sink a dugout 18 inches in some parts without getting it flooded! Surely it can't be beyond the resources of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to safeguard - and safeguard over and over again - our water supply!!"

The campaign was a logistical nightmare that would make any responsible staff officer tear his hair out. As a method of waging warfare it was insanity; but they had left themselves no alternative.

SOURCE:
C. E. W. Bean, edited b K. Fewster, Bean's Gallipoli: The diaries of Australia's War Correspondent, (Cows Nes: Allen & Unwin, 2007), p. 137