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Dead Mans Gully - Suvla


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#26 Martin G

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:59 PM



This is the view from Yeoman's Knoll (high ground 300m NW of Dead Man's Gully) looking directly East towards W Hills (right) and Hill 112 (left). Compare to the 1915 photo skyline and the distinctive contrast of the darker W Hill with the scarred re-entrant going up to Hill 112. This is the direction the Right column of the Yeomanry took on the night of 21st Aug 1915.

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#27 michaeldr

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 02:06 PM

After seeing posts 13 & 26 side-by-side, then Martin is sounding even more convincing

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#28 Thales

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 03:10 PM

I am signing up to the opinions in the last two posts - 112 & W Hills. Are there any contemporary pictures of the Hetman Chair redoubt, I wonder? It would be great to think we had nailed that one as well.

I think I have a candidate for Owl Barn. I will dust the scanner down and get cracking.

John

#29 Martin G

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 03:40 PM

2 Pics attached - panorama looking SW from Yeoman's Knoll across Munster Lane towards Tint's Corner, Owl's Barn, Dead Man's Gully, etc. Pictures should fit side by side...

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#30 Martin G

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 03:44 PM

2 Pics attached - panorama looking SW from Yeoman's Knoll across Munster Lane towards Tint's Corner, Owl's Barn, Dead Man's Gully, etc. Pictures should fit side by side...

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#31 michaeldr

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 04:17 PM

I think that this comparison of the 1915 and the 2010 shots may be useful
For not only does the skyline compare well, as Martin has already pointed out,
but also, one can still discern in today's shot the line which, in the 1915 one,
runs from higher-left to lower-right on the hillside seen above the building.

Well done Martin
and looking forward to seeing your latest scans John

Posted ImagePosted Image

#32 Martin G

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 06:40 PM

Possible Dates. I believe the photo was taken between 13th September and 1st October. Clearly the photo can't have been taken before 22nd August (the attack on Scimitar Hill). There is strong evidence that bodies were cleared on 1st October under the cover of a thick blanket of fog and the earliest record of wire I can find in the relevant war diaries is on 13th September (see below).

The 3rd Notts and Derby Mounted Bde were largely entrenched in the area throughout Aug/Sep/Oct. The Derbyshire Yeomanry War History recounts on 25th Sep (one month after the attack) "Moved to relieve QOWH right (or south) of Chocolate Hill at 21:30. ½ mile left of previous trenches. Trenches poor. Insanitary, Swampy. Pump broken. Insanitary due to dead bodies from 21st. Aug. Wind blowing towards trench. Smell unbearable" and later on 1st October: "Fog. Bury dead in no-man's land. Many identified. Mostly [9th Bn] Sherwood Foresters [33rd Bde]. 12 men on one spot all in line. Great quantities of equipment bought in. Half of the boots had been removed by Turks" these burials are also recorded in the Derby Yeo War Diary for 1st October "Thick fog in early morning. Men went out in front of trenches & collected quantity of equipment from fight of Aug 21st including 45 rifles & much ammunition - Identified & buried some dead including LCpl Kirk [1587 LCpl Kirk G W] and Pte Norris [1789 Pte Norris H G] previously reported missing..". The Sherwood Rangers War Diary for the same day: "There was a dense fog in the morning & great advantage was take of it to send out parties to the front and bury the many dead bodies that were lying there & to bring in all equipment and ammunition among many other things. 31 sets of equipment and nearly 10,000 rounds of ammunition were collected. Capt Tallents and Lt Abdy also found their way to the BLACK & WHITE HUT which they found had not been occupied for a considerable time. at 18:00 Lt Colville's 125 men were relieved by Lt D-? 125 from the same regiment" and the Sherwood Rangers in the Great War also recounts for the same day "Fog. Patrols in front. Recover 10,000 rds SAA and many rifles plus Eqpt. Smells of the dead. Stench from dead bodies. Patrol to B&W House. Dead bodies of [5th]Dorsets [34th Bde] and 6th Lincolns [33rd Bde]. Many dead are buried. ID discs bought in." The 3rd Mounted Bde War Diary records " 06:00 A dense fog in the morning permitted of parties going out to the front & burying a large number of corpses collecting many rifles & identifying dead. The ground to the front was found to be covered in dead practically all English. The health of all ranks continues very bad"

The evidence from the Sherwood Rangers Yeo links up nicely with S F Hatton's account "At dawn on 3rd October the double-squadron took over from the 3rd County the right arm of the front line, with the loss of Osborne killed carried on with its extension towards BLACK & WHITE HOUSE. Where Turkish snipers were ensconced. This extension had already reached Dead Man's Gully which although partially cleared in the rear was full of bodies in the front, right up to the parapet and most of them British. Advantage was taken of heavy mists to bury many, but the smell was always bad and there can be little doubt that water drawn from the shallows was tainted. No-man's land varied from 150 to 400 yd sin width...."

This suggests that BLACK & WHITE HOUSE was a building in No-Man's Land (not to be confused with WHITE HOUSE) immediately in front of the A60 to A65 Trenches and was occasionally occupied by enemy snipers.

Interestingly the Sherwood Rangers Yeo History states on 13th September "Front line. Left hinges on Poplar House where London Yeo Bde is situated. Enemy active. Coil of "French Wire" plus strand of barbed wire. No wire previous to this date" which indicates that if the wire is British, the photo could not have been taken before this date. The Derbyshire Yeomanry War History notes on 2nd Sep "Constant digging. Listening posts….. Total absence of wire… or posts…"

I think there is a good chance that the building could be the Black & White House in no-man's land. It would seem highly unlikely that a building the size of the one in the photo was not mentioned in any War Diary. There is some likelihood that the photo was taken sometime between 13th September when (British) wire first appeared and the foggy morning of 1st October when a substantial number of bodies were buried. The vegetation and level of sunlight would support this too. The ground looks dry and from various War Diaries we know that torrential rain started on 8th October which puts a further limit to the latest possible date. If the wire is assumed to be Turkish (and therefore might predate 13th Sep), it is worth noting that there is no mention of wire by the attacking parties of Yeomanry in this area on the night of 21st Aug. Unless I am mistaken on this point. MG



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#33 Thales

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 08:33 PM

Its good the way this thread has developed in the way it has as it allows me to deflect the [justifiable] charge of self-indulgence now that I am posting the image of my father in the front line. Apologies for the quality of the image as I have not had time to photoshop the fold line and generally tart it up. (Apologies for that turn of phrase too!).

I saw this image for the first time last night, but having looked at a number of other QODY pictures in which he features there is no doubt in my mind that my father is the man on the far right. He would have been 19 at the time. I scanned the clip as a high res tiff originally and it is amazing how much detail shows up when you blow it up. Having said that I cannot decide whether the object in front of my father is a periscope or possibly steps to help climb up on the parapet. Any suggestions most welcome.

The relevance of this to the thread is that a case can be made for regarding the building top centre, which is built of stone with a roof irregular tiles or rough thatch, as Owl Barn. Unfortunately there is nothing to tie down the exact location of the trench in the picture, but the Dorset Yeomanry were certainly in the vicinity of Munster Lane at various times in September and October and it is tempting to speculate that this is the trench in question. If that is the case there are only two buildings which are slightly off the alignment of the trench as shown in the photograph - Owl Barn and White House. Reason suggests that as the structure in the picture is not white, it might well be Owl Barn. All very circumstantial, I would have to agree.

Not sure I fall in with your ID of Black and White House for the possible structure in Steve's second image, Martin. There is obviously mention of it in the documentation, but I'm afraid I cannot find a Black & White House marked on any maps; only White House which would be too far south - are you sure they are two separate entities? However, I have seen correspondence (a letter started on 30 Sept and completed on 4 October) alluding to the bodies in the gully and stating that they had been men wounded on 21 August who sought shelter in the gully and subsequently died there. Nothing necessarily to challenge your dating in this.

Incidentally, with the image in the attachment, I have found a number of other QODY pictures from Gallipoli and Palestine, and post cards of Palestine. One I would like to scan is a group shot of one of the squadrons but it is bound up in a tight scroll and I am concerned that it might be too brittle to put on a flat bed scanner. If any forum members have any guidance on how to handle this, do please PM me.

Sorry to stray slightly off topic in your thread Steve. Back to you now
John

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#34 Krithia

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:05 AM

Chaps, there is some xcellent content being discussed here, and I think the theory on Hill112 and W is correct aws opposed to my earlier gues of Kavak/Tepe, although from a distance there is a similar area. Michael's 1915/2010 comparison is spot on! I have attached a closeup of the 'building', although because the original photo is not that clear, this is the best I can do for now. It could be a two sotry, although I would have thought this unusual in the area, or is it sitting on some base? Its not, but it is reminiscent of a blockhouse.

Attached File  Dead Mans Gully August 19152.jpg   24.92KB   0 downloads

#35 Martin G

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 11:03 AM

Here is the same area with the Turkish (Sevki Pasha) maps overlaid. It shows the positions after the British had withdrawn, sometime in 1916. Munster Lane had been completed. Note the extensive wiring and low wire entanglements along the whole front. I note that there is no indication of any building in the area of the Turkish strongpoint. (Acknowlegments to GWF member Plumed Goose for the Sevki Pasha maps). MG

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#36 Martin G

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:34 PM

The relevance of this to the thread is that a case can be made for regarding the building top centre, which is built of stone with a roof irregular tiles or rough thatch, as Owl Barn. Unfortunately there is nothing to tie down the exact location of the trench in the picture, but the Dorset Yeomanry were certainly in the vicinity of Munster Lane at various times in September and October and it is tempting to speculate that this is the trench in question. If that is the case there are only two buildings which are slightly off the alignment of the trench as shown in the photograph - Owl Barn and White House. Reason suggests that as the structure in the picture is not white, it might well be Owl Barn. All very circumstantial, I would have to agree.


Hail Thales! I am bowing to your knowledge and intuition. Some supporting analysis for Owl Barn....... A re-section using Hill 112 and W Hills as the outlying reference points (i.e. extreme R and L of the photo) bringing the line of sight back to one triangulation point (lines in green on images) provides a triangle that all the features must lie within. By dragging the re-section point (i.e. view point) around the landscape it is possible to try to get the various features all lined up within the green triangle. By this process I am doing U turn (!) and now believe that the building is NOT the redoubt at Hetman Chair (It is impossible to get the features aligined to match the photo). By tracing Dead Man's Gully (traced in blue on images) back to the earlier British front line, there is only one contender - Owl Barn - as you suggested earlier.

I attach 2 images...1. resection and 2. detail. You can see how Dead Man's Gully, Owl Barn and Hill 112 and W Hills can properly align to match the photo. Interestingly one can probably ascertain from an earlier trench map which trench the photo was taken from. The overlay shown is from a map dated 2nd October 1915. The T junction near Owl's barn is shown in later maps as being linked up by a sap from the British lines to the East - trenches A63 in the November map. I note also from Yeomanry War Diaries that Owl Barn was described in earlier diary entries as also being in no-man's land where (British) outposts were positioned. It is worth noting that the Sevki Pasha map indicates Owl Barn ended up well withing the British lines by the end. I think there is a good chance that the photo was taken in the vicinity of the T junction on the right hand image below. This is looking almost directly EAST ( 78 degrees to be precise) which is also consistent with the photo from Yeoman's Knoll showing a similar skyline. MG

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#37 michaeldr

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:40 PM

My reading of the War Diaries is not as extensive as some others here, however my impression is that the Turks had very few (if any) prepared positions on the Suvla front, and I am inclined to think that any strong point or block-house, must have been improvised from an existing structure. A flat roofed, two story building would certainly not be unknown in this area, however, I admit to being surprised by John's photograph of the building which appears to have a pitched roof (of either tiles or thatch). Such a barn/house may have been known in the villages, but out here in the fields? I am surprised to see this, which is perhaps an indication of the limits of my knowledge here :blush:

That the strong point had disappeared by the time of the 1916 map was perhaps due to British artillery/Naval gunfire which it must have attracted????

Thanks for the photographs Steve; a thoroughly fascinating thread
[Don't forget to give the boys a credit in the intro to the book :hypocrite: ]

All the best
Michael

#38 michaeldr

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 01:49 PM

Martin & John,

My above was written before I saw post #36. Are you saying that the building in Steve's photograph is the same as that in John's?

Michael


Late edit to compare the photographs

Posted ImagePosted Image

#39 Martin G

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 04:45 PM

Are you saying that the building in Steve's photograph is the same as that in John's?


No. I think this all an educated guess with descending levels of certainty. The thing I feel most comfortable with is the skyline of the second 1915 photo in that it is looking at Hill112 and the W Hills and the line that you pointed out. After that, trying to pin down the building and then the location of the viewpoint becomes much more difficult. As outlined above, if we are agreed on the skyline, then the choices for the building are very limited indeed. To get a photo with that skyline, Dead Man's Gully and ANY building in is extremely difficult. That is the basis of my approach - a process of elimination. What CAN'T it be rather than what it can. Not the most robust approach I would admit.

The maps give me some degree of comfort that we are barking up the right tree (or should that be gully?). The 1:10,000 British maps are reasonably accurate (I have studied these in detail for a few years) and they compare well with sketch maps. The most important factor is that 95% of the field boundaries are almost exactly the same as they are today. It is well understood by archaeologists and historians that in rural areas, boundaries often stay in place for hundreds of years. This is the case in the Suvla plain. When we 'fit' the1915 maps to the ground it becomes immediately apparent.The two images below graphically illustrate this - look at the very distinctive Christmas cracker shaped field just left of centre. Bang! Even with some optical distortion and allowing for some draftsmanship error, it is clear where boundaries have remained the same. We are also helped by the fact that in the Suvla plain, most trenches followed field boundaries. As an extension of this, the location of the very few buildings recorded in these maps is fairly certain e.g. Owl's Barn, White House etc. Given the small number of buildings there is a very high probability that we have the right locations for the named buildings - there is little chance of confusing two buildings on the maps.

What I am unsure of is how all the above relates to one or two very grainy photos. Personally I don't see any visual link between the two buildings. I have seen photos from other Yeomanry regiments showing men in trenches (usually quite shallow ones) at Suvla and often with trees in the background. I have not seen any photos with exact dates, and short of the landing photos and the advance across Suvla plain where we can be sure of the date(s) it becomes increasingly difficult to be certain of the exact location. I have seen no Suvla trench photos that can be pinpointed to an exact spot. other than "Fig Tree" or the reverse slopes of "Chocolate Hill" (a very big area) This is understandable given the flat and rather monotonous patchwork landscape in the flat plain. The most useful indicators are the written accounts and the very few sketch maps in the War Diary packets. Sadly in Suvla plain we don't have the dramatic landscape that we have in, say, ANZAC to act as useful reference points.

There is one glimmer of hope. The Derby Museum recently uncovered hundreds of photos of the Derbyshire Yeomanry in WWI (including Gallipoli) I am scheduled to trawl through these in a few week's time. The DY operated in this area throughout Aug-Oct and these photos have not been seen in 50 years. Fingers crossed, we might yet get some more pointers.

As an aside, is there anyone who acts as a repository of Gallipoli photos? This is the area where I have been most frustrated in my own research. MG

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#40 michaeldr

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 05:28 PM

Martin,

Many thanks for that clarification. I wrote my post having just returned from a very good wedding reception. Now, after another coffee and a walk with the dog, I may be seeing things more clearly

Belatedly, I have just turned to our GWF Pal Steve Newman's book 'Gallipoli Then and Now' [ISBN: 1 870067 29 0] and I see that he covers this area on his pages 152-153, including a copy of Steve (Krithia's) second photograph. Unfortunately, I think that Steve Newman's 'today' shot is at too long a range to be of use to us here. However for those interested in this area the pages are useful.

I know of no central repository of Gallipoli photographs and agree that chasing them around must be frustrating; it's even more so when one lives outside the UK.

Looking forward to seeing your posts here on the GWF after your trip to Derby

All the best
Michael

#41 Thales

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 08:39 PM

Like Michael, I too have walked the dog but the imbibing of beverage is yet to come. I hope you had better weather than me, Michael.

Echoing the point in Martin's post #39, I had cause to study the Anglo-Saxon settlement of England in some depth in a previous life and the case for field and property boundaries enduring over quite long periods of time is compelling. Martin and I have covered this issue in relation to trench positions around Scimitar Hill a few months ago. In England, the Jutes in Kent had a system of partible inheritance whereby property was subdivided equally amongst the succeeding generation on death of the owner thereby preserving in outline at least the original boundary. Likewise, in Totnes there are alleyways that can seen today which can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon settlement because property boundaries have been preserved throughout the intervening centuries. Eric Goosens is of the opinion that a very similar system of partible inheritance operated with the Turkish population on the peninsula and there is a minute field near Scimitar Hill separately cultivated from those much larger surrounding fields indicating that probably due to family circumstances similar parcels of land coalesced and almost restored the original undivided field pattern. So whilst there are some variations in the field patterns as between 1915 and the present, overall there is a very high level of similarity Eric mentioned that the battlefields were areas occupied predominantly by the ethnic Turks with the Greeks concentrated around the villages of Krithia and Maidos until the outbreak of hostilities when the removal lorries turned up. It is natural after the war when the civilian population returned they re-asserted their ownership by reference to these boundaries where they could be recognised. Hence their usefulness in reconstructing the battlefields today.

Returning to the topic of the structure above the wire and its possible identity. Playing devil's advocate for a minute:
- I still find it possible to trick my eye into believing it is not a structure at all, but a rather bizarre patterning of the background. Note though I am being very careful not to rule it out!
- Looking at the countryside rather than the villages, would the rural hand to mouth economy of early 20th century Anafarta Plain have supported the building of a two storey house? I have no pictures to prove it, but my impression is that the ones I saw this year and last year in places like Kuchuk Anafarta Ova were mostly single storey
- Bearing in mind that according to my rough estimate there was only about 110 yards between Munster Lane and Hetman Chair by November would not a two storey building have been more clearly defined?
- If the example of Dublin Castle is anything to go by, it seems to have been common practice for buildings in no mans land to be blown up to reduce the risk of sniping.

John



#42 michaeldr

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:30 PM

I still find it possible to trick my eye into believing it is not a structure at all, but a rather bizarre patterning of the background. Note though I am being very careful not to rule it out!

John,

If I am wrong, then it will not be for the first time! So don't worry.

However, I feel that the pattern is too regular, the corners too angular, the prominent courses of material between the floors and at the roof line are too typical; & I shall not give up too easily.

While you may be correct that eventually it was "common practice for buildings in no mans land to be blown up to reduce the risk of sniping" this practice must have been put into effect quite late, as (per Westlake) the Sharpshooters had a 'Detachment (which) held position in No Man's Land – Owls Barn" on/after 3rd October.

As for the wedding weather; here it is still too hot. I wore a jacket, and was, like the typical Brit., over-dressed.

Best regards
Michael

#43 Thales

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 12:55 PM

One more to add to the mix. Not that I think it rules anything out.
John

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#44 Martin G

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 12:56 PM

Having said that I cannot decide whether the object in front of my father is a periscope or possibly steps to help climb up on the parapet. Any suggestions most welcome.


John - I think the item is a periscope. Very similar to the one held in the picture attached. This is the 3rd CLY in Munster Lane 1915. MG

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#45 Martin G

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 01:16 PM

One more to add to the mix. Not that I think it rules anything out.
John



I think this is also looking at Hill 112 and W Hills....same orientation...(sorry I can't get my comparison to the same size). MG

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#46 michaeldr

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 08:21 PM

In a joking closing line to Steve (post #37 above) I mentioned credits - now, to be serious about the matter….

Looking at Hatton's 'Preface' to his 'Yarn of a Yeoman' I see that he mentions only one photographer; S. S. M. Dixon [are those his initials, or is it a ref to his rank – Squadron Sergeant Major?] Can we therefore presume that he took the shot of Dead Man's Gully?

Regarding Steve (Krithia's) 2nd picture, which also appears in Steve Newman's book; SN credits this shot to the Royal British Legion collection

I am also still wondering about this second photograph, which we think might include Owls Barn. My speculation here is, what was the camera aimed at in this case? The structure, building, or whatever it is, sits so centrally in the frame that I am tempted to conclude that it, and not the wire or the bodies was in fact the subject of the shot.

John,
thanks for the extra pictures and Martin for your continued efforts to match them up with recent shots - you're a great team

Regards
Michael

#47 Krithia

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 09:42 PM

Hi Michael,

No joking aside, credits are due to you and many other forum members, all noted and already in the acknowledgements page!

It is Dixon's rank, he is Squadron Sergeant Major E.H. Dixon I believe, and he features in at least two of the photos in the collection.

Now, to add to this excellent thread I have found a trench map with "Dead Man's House" showing, in the same area. Do any of you know about this one? I am thinking this may be the building in the distance as it makes sense being so close to Dead Man's Gully. As to the bulding being two-storey, I think the 'ground' storey is in fact a bare piece of ground given the optical illusion of a taller building. There is a tree nearby, yes difficult to tell the height, but most trees, olive, fig and the like, are quite short?

I have also unearthed an original aerial photo that says it is Chocolate Hill. I'll scan and post in a day or two as this adds another dimension to the trench lines.

Bye for now ... Krithia

p.s Martin, great then and now shots, totally agree with Michaels comments.

#48 Thales

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 12:29 PM

Steve

Could we anchor down one of the premises of the discussion – can you confirm that the picture in #13 is in fact Deadman's Gully as was the first? Also that the Deadman's House you mention in your last posting is the same as Deadman's Cottage in Subsection 57?

The reason for asking is that it would be nigh on impossible to accommodate Deadman's Cottage into a picture with W Hills and Hill 112 in the background from Deadman's Gully. You might however get it into a picture with the same features in the background if it were taken from North Lane. This has a roughly WSW – ENE alignment and is shown on one map at least as being a track as it leaves the British front line and makes its way towards the Turkish front line on the Hetman salient. From this spot Beaufort Castle might also be a contender. However, this would date the photograph to some time later than 20 November because as at that time there was a gap in the wire between Subsections 55 and 59.

I tend to be a bit cautious about the captions on photographs that make their way into Regimental museum collections as they can be donated by servicemen many years after the event and at a time when recall is not perhaps 100% reliable. Hence my query about the premise.

Aer photo of Choc Hill? Can't wait to see that one. I spent a year of my National Service staring at aer photos so it will be something to savour.

John

Edited to improve spacing of paragraphs

#49 Martin G

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 01:22 PM

I have found a trench map with "Dead Man's House" showing, in the same area. Do any of you know about this one?


Steve - are you able to post a pic of the trench map with Dead Man's House? What is the source of the map? MG

#50 Krithia

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 04:46 PM

Ok friends, below is the map I was thinking off, unfortunately it is Dead Man's Cottage, so I presume too far south and in the wrong place unless you were a Turk photographer!

Attached File  Copy of Trench Map showing the Highland Barricade.jpg   90.94KB   0 downloads



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