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Historian out to explode our take on the Anzac legend 18 avril 2012

Posted by Acturca in History / Histoire, Turkey / Turquie.
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The Age (Australia) April 18, 2012, p. 3

Bridie Smith

The popular story of the Gallipoli landings – long credited as a young nation’s coming of age – is studded with factual errors, according to an Australian historian and former RAAF intelligence officer.

Point to prove: Historian Hugh Dolan says this 1915 map highlights some of the errors in our understanding of the Gallipoli landing on April 25, that year. ((To see the map, please click here)

As Australians prepare to mark Anzac Day next Wednesday with the traditional Dawn Service serving as a reminder of the 1915 landings, Hugh Dolan argues wartime maps and documents from the Australian War Memorial, Imperial War Museum, London, and Public Record Office, London, show the intelligence gathered before the landings was far more robust than previously thought.
Mr Dolan also believes the popular narrative – which mistakenly begins with the dawn landing rather than noting the first troops came ashore at 4am – is incorrect on other counts: including that men came ashore on the wrong beach and that the Australian operations were entirely under the direction of the British.

Rather than being ignorant of the Turkish peninsula, Mr Dolan said Allied aerial intelligence surveys conducted in the weeks prior to the Gallipoli landings informed the Australian officers not only of the harsh terrain but where the Turkish trenches, camps, artillery batteries and roads were located.
In a documentary to be screened on Foxtel’s history channel on Anzac Day, Mr Dolan said the Allies knew well before the landings that  »Z Beach » – a six kilometre stretch between Gaba Tepe and Fishermans Hut where Anzac Cove is centrally located – was covered by 32 Turkish guns. He said by March, the Allies were aware that there were 180,000 Turkish troops in the region.
All this information is contained in one document – a historically overlooked canvas map kept at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Significantly, the map is dated April 20, 1915 – five days before the landings.

 »This was the document that started it, » he said.  »It put me on a personal crusade to add ‘truth’ to the Gallipoli landings. »
In black ink, the squared map locates the guns, trenches and tents, while the topography of the land is outlined in red.
According to intelligence war diaries, the information was gathered using aircraft and manned-balloons from the British Royal Naval Air Service between February 17 and the landings. Mr Dolan said during this time there were 192 Allied air missions, including 57 dedicated military reconnaissance missions and 18 photographic missions along the southern end of the peninsula’s west coast. Department of Veterans’ Affairs historian Richard Reid said official war historian Charles Bean – who landed at Anzac Cove on the morning of the 25th – refers to the quality of intelligence in his contemporary reports. However Dr Reid said historically, attention has been on the execution of the landings rather than the planning, for which he agrees the Allies deserve some credit.
 »It wasn’t just a shot in the dark, » he said.  »They did spend a lot of time thinking about it and planning as the map shows. »
Mr Dolan also describes as  »hogwash » the idea that the Australians were following British orders. He said not only did they direct some of the reconnaissance missions, they modified the original landing orders made by British general Ian Standish Monteith Hamilton on April 14, 1915. It was Australian general William Bridges who requested on around April 16 or 17 that the troops land at night rather than at dawn.  »The Turkish troops did not fire any artillery until just before dawn, » he said.  »There was no bloodbath on the beach. »
Gallipoli author Les Carlyon agrees the landing wasn’t as bloody as the Anzac legend suggests, with the bulk of casualties occurring on the second ridge. However he is not convinced there is evidence that the intelligence recorded on the map was effectively conveyed to the troops.


1. Peter Condon - 19 janvier 2015

Monash collection map, AWM G7432/G1 includes aerial reconnaissance intelligence such as trenches north and south of Kaba Tepe and seven guns behind Kaba Tepe; collected before 18 April. There is only one trench overlooking Ari Burnu. (Gallipoli: a ridge too far, page 97, AWM).

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