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Chris Best

TURKISH MACHINE GUNS AT GALLIPOLI

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Bryn

However, many witnesses - not all inexperienced soldiers - report the presence of machine guns at various points. The only one I'd be confident of myself would be the one in the vicinity of Fisherman's Hut, and probably also one on Gaba Tepe (I know there was a Nordenfeldt 'pom pom' gun there too, because so did the witnesses who could tell the difference). For me personally, when it comes down to a choice of believing the observations of these witnesses, or the Turkish written records, I have to say I'm with the witnesses. Certainly there weren't as many as there may have been believed, but that doesn't mean there were none.

I'm not going to speak at all for the Helles sector as the presence or otherwise of MGs there during the landings is not something I've ever looked into in any great detail, though the British official historian Aspinall-Oglander notes their presence, and also that the Turkish records did not 'admit' to their presence. But at Anzac, there are far too many accounts, including accounts by reliable, experienced witnesses who would certainly know what a machine gun sounded like, to be written off by whatever original records survive in Turkish sources that don't confirm this.

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Crunchy

Fair point Bryn.

There were Nordenfelts at Kapa Tepe according to the Turkish 9th Div orders of 7th April. As for witnesses' accounts I think the one's that reported machine guns firing later in the morning and during the afternoon have a lot of basis for truth as these would have been brought forward by the 27th and 57th Regiments. As for the landing itself, I am skeptical about those reported around Anzac Cove itself and on the northern slope of Baby 700 as the first troops arrived there. The destruction of the initial 7th Battalion boats at the Fisherman's Hut and the number of witnesses on the left flank of the landing who report receiving machine gun fire point to one being there, but don't necessarily confirm its presence. I would have thought that a strongpoint like Kapa Tepe would have had machine guns, particularly as it provided enfilade fire to any landing north or south of that position and it was a suspected landing point. Yet the Turkish sources so far paint a different picture; so we have a conundrum.

Certainly there are several accounts of casualties in the boats of the second and third waves; where these caused by the Turks at Hell Spit and on Plugge's before the heights were climbed and by artillery fire from Kapa Tepe? If there was a machine gun at the Fisherman's Hut it would have been firing at long range (1100 -1200 yards) to engage the boats coming ashore at Anzac Cove so I am not too sure how loud the noise of it was at the Cove.

I am not sure who the experienced witnesses you are speaking of and what experience they had. I believe some witness accounts need to be treated with care. We already know of one well known and accepted "witness" from the 11th Battalion who reports very heavy machine gun fire causing severe casualties who wasn't even at the landing according to his service record. From my own experience the noise in the immediate area of an action is overwhelmingly loud and I couldn't distinguish one weapon from another by the sound - it was just one great noise of shots and explosions and your mind is focussed to the area immediately around you. Certainly our enemy had AK-47's as well as MG's and rifles. You can tell the difference when hearing each fire separately but all this business about being able to distinguish one weapon from another when every one is firing and with explosions going off around you is fanciful in my experience.

Interesting problem to try and solve.

Regards

Chris

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Bryn

Chris, the fact that someone who was not there reported encountering machine guns is, in my opinion, no different at all to someone who was also not there stating now - 93 years later - that there were none. I'm quite happy to believe neither over the evidence of people who were actually there.

As I've stated previously, one of the witnesses who reported a machine gun in the vicinity of Fisherman's Hut was Lieut. Colonel Clarke, DSO, CO of 12th Battalion. He was in no way an inexperienced soldier, and he landed on North Beach - not in Anzac Cove, so the theory that every soldier who reported hearing an MG was inexperienced is disproven by his observation, and the question of whether the sound of a gun could be distinguished in the cove doesn't apply to him. It has to be remembered, though, when we talk of Fisherman's Hut, that this seems to have been the name given to the general area around the knoll under which the hut itself is located, and includes much higher and farther-inland hills.

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Crunchy

Bryn,

If you read my post you will note that I haven't written off a machine gun being at the Fisherman's Hut or indeed at Kapa Tepe - my point was that we have conflicting information from written sources at the time (not a comment from someone who wasn't there - 93 years after the event) , neither of which confirms a machine gun was or wasn't actually there. I have also said it is an interesting problem to solve.

My apologies but I asked our Pal what was the basis of no machine gun at Fisherman's Hut and he states the account of the platoon commander who was there at the time made no mention of a machine gun as part of his force. We could well argue that this does not preclude a machine gun actually being there, but it does conflict with Australian accounts.

I understood that Lt Col Clarke was killed as he reached the Nek early morning of the 25th April. What is the source of his report of the machine gun? Did he write it down or was it a second hand report attributed to him?

Do you have Clarke's service background? I am assuming he served in the South African War.

Regards

Chris

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Peter Doyle

Fascinating debate, and one that has re-ignited my own thoughts on this since, yes, discussions with Kenan in the field. As a geologist, I have made a study of the terrain characteristics of the Gallipoli battlefield, and have looked at the aspects of terrain multiplication of the Helles Sector. This means that the ampitheatral bowls of both V and W beaches mean that the fire pattern was effective. The following is an extract from an academic paper I have in press:

The question of machine guns

There is a question mark over the use of machine guns at the landing beaches, the use of which would have inevitably increased the fire capability of the Turkish defenders. In Colonel Mahmut’s contemporary account, there is no mention of machine guns, quite the reverse: ‘our force had been reduced to 800 and which had no support from any weapons, except the rifles in their hands’. This view that the defending Turks had no machine guns is supported by Turkish historian Kenan Celik (pers comm.) in his study of Turkish sources, although, apparently the presence of pom-pom type Nordenfeld guns is admitted (one, captured above X Beach, is located in the Royal Fusiliers Regimental Museum in London).

According to Aspinall-Oglander (1929, p. 159), four ‘old pattern maxim guns’ were installed at Sedd el Bahr and V Beach, although the question of machine guns at W beach was a moot point. In a manuscript account of the landing from the beached River Clyde, Captain G.W. Geddes of the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers (copies in the IWM DD and TNA) noted: ‘I estimated the strength of the Turks at 400 to 500, with 1 Pom-Pom and 6 machine guns. They had machine guns [original emphasis]’. Geddes was aboard the ship and was wounded getting ashore, and was therefore in a good position to comment, and his use of emphasis suggesting his strength of feeling on this issue. A footnote added to a version of the manuscript in The National Archives in London comments that machine gun belts were found at V Beach, giving extra credence to the assertion.

In other contemporary manuscript accounts Captain G.P. Dawnay, observing from offshore (IWM DD 69/21/1), noted on 29th April that at V Beach ‘the tows going in [with boats carrying the landing forces] were met by a terrific fire from rifles, machine guns and pom-poms’, while Commander I.W. Gibson, Captain of HMS Albion offshore V Beach noted on 26th April that: ‘When the boats got close to shore a terrific fire [of] rifle and maxim [guns] I think opened on them’ (IWM DD). At W beach, Captain (subsequently Commodore) Phillimore, beach master at Helles, noted that ‘The beach was covered with barbed wire, the cliffs were lined with trenches at the top and had maxims, in sand caves, half way up’ (IWM DD). The map prepared in May 1915 by Douglas and Nicholas also picks out the position of machine guns, sited in enfilading positions on both V and W beaches. These and other accounts suggest, that at V beach at least, machine guns were deployed as part of the defences. As depicted in the map by Douglas and Nicholas, these were sited for maximum effect, sweeping across the open field creating a ‘kill zone’ – similar again to that experienced by a different 29th Division, American this time, that landed at Omaha Beach, Normandy, some 29 years later.

Also attached are a couple of illustrations that demonstrate the effect...

Cheers

Peter

post-29053-1214219670.jpg

post-29053-1214219684.jpg

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Crunchy

Peter,

Thanks for that and particularly the photos with the positions superimposed. Interesting issue - attacking force says there were machine guns, defending force researchers argue there none deployed on the 25th April according to the Ottoman sources. All very intriguing.

Playing Devil's Advocate for a moment - can we look at Geddes account in a little detail?

Firstly, why the emphasis in the original of they had machine guns? Was he challenging a contrary opinion?

Geddes also estimated 400 - 500 Turks opposing them (equivalent to 2 Companies +) . I understand there were considerably less than that number at V Beach - perhaps a couple of platoons, say 100 +.

He also estimates 6 machine guns at V Beach, excluding those you show at W Beach, when it seems that they may have had 4 available for the 26th Regiment's whole front, noting the orbat of the 9th Division is reported to indicate the 26th had no machine gun company. Others speak of 2 machine guns at V Beach.

Lets say of the 100 or so Turks at V Beach, 90 are firing rifles. Would one be able to pick out the difference between rifles and machine guns when 90 rifles and say 2 machine guns and a pom-pom or two are all firing at once?

What is apparent in his account is an exaggeration of the force opposing him, which is not an unnatural or unusual thing.

By this I am not saying "there were no machine guns at V Beach". I would have thought from the casualties suffered that machine guns would have been there but we need to test some of these statements.

What is your opinion of the ampitheatral bowls in maximizing the effect of rifles? I don't think we should underestimate the impact and amount of fire 90 magazine fed, bolt action rifles can achieve?

Again, thanks for your insight - very interesting.

Regards

Chris

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Bryn

Lieutenant-Colonel Lancelot Fox Clarke DSO VD, served 6 years in ranks, Victorian Field Artillery.

Appointed lieutenant in 1884, captain in 1886. Appointed major in the Field Artillery Brigade (Victoria) in 1893. On active service in the South African war from 1900 to 1902. Served afterwards with the Rhodesian Field Force. Officer commanding the north-western districts, and acted as an Administrator for the martial law area of Cape Colony. He had command of the 4th V.M.R. from February to June, 1901, and was mentioned in despatches on April 23 and July 9, 1901. Awarded the Queen's medal with four clasps and King's medal with two clasps.

The 4th (Victorian) Imperial Contingent left on 1 May 1900 on the transport, Victorian, consisting of 31 officers (and 2 supernumeraries), 598 Other Ranks, 778 horses and 11 waggons. Arrived Beira South Africa 23 May 1900.

Major L.F. Clarke promoted Lieutenant Colonel 22 June 1901.

War Services and Honours: Major L.F. Clarke:

Operations in Rhodesia, Transvaal, and Cape Colony. Commanded North-western districts. Administrator, No. 13 area, Cape Colony. Commanded contingent, 23rd February, 1901 to 23rd June 1901. Despatches, London Gazette 23rd April 1901, and 9th July 1901. Distinguished Service Order (DSO). Promoted Lieutenant Colonel, served till end of war. Queen's Medal with 4 Clasps, King's Medal with 2 Clasps.

DSO citation: From Colonel Henniker's Despatch on operations in Zuurberg, C.C. [Cape Colony], in March 1901.--- Victorian Imperial Bushmen, 4th contingent: I cannot speak too highly of the excellent way in which Major Clarke has always carried out his orders, and the manner in which his officers and men back him up. In the announcement of the award of D.S.O. to Major Clarke, it was said to be "for able command of operations against De Wet." 

'Passed all Exams up to Field Rank' also 'Tactical Fitness to command' in 1906 in Melbourne.

Yes, Colonel Clarke was killed on the morning of 25th April. The following is from the 12th Battalion history p43:

post-854-1214223080.jpg

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Bryn

The following is from the 7th Bn history:

post-854-1214225002.jpg

Just for interest, here is Fisherman's Hut; from the beach looking inland and from top of the knoll, where the Turkish trench was located, looking back to the beach.

post-854-1214225057.jpg

post-854-1214225034.jpg

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michaeldr

In my posts numbers 28 and 39 above, I have given three direct quotations from the Turkish GS's Brief History, and in the latter post, I have also commented on the style of the writing of that Brief History

quote: "The pattern, or style if you will, which I find to emerge from this writing is that while the Turkish historian makes several references to Allied machine guns/fire in his text, he only mentions his own machine guns in direct quotes eg. in the texts of Turkish orders or reports.

As I said, this may be nothing more than a question of the writer's style or perhaps even the translation. But, having direct quotes from Turkish orders and reports which mention machine guns, means (to me at least) that the Turkish army had machine guns and used them at Gallipoli

What I feel has yet to be decided, is to what extent the absence of machine guns from the general text can be read as there not being used/available at that point?

I am inclined to believe as they are mentioned in Turkish orders and reports, then they were more widely available to the Turkish army than is suggested by the absence of their mention in the general text."

Here is another quote, from the British side this time, and referring to the machine-gun position on the right as described in post #74 above; see sketch and quote ""In the evening (25th April 1915) the Albion closed in and destroyed a machine gun post on the left, and the following morning another one in the old Fort of Sedd-ul-Bahr which helped the troops to advance"

quote:

"When about halfway up this path and opposite to the abutment of the fort that had two windows in it a machine-gun opened on them from the nearest window. None of them were hit and they jumped over a low wall on their left and took cover. I happened to be watching the party and immediately sent a message to HMS Albion with the help of Captain Lambert top open on this abutment, and which was done very smartly and with good effect, and the machine-gun troubled us no more" Lieutenant Colonel Henry Tizard

[iWM DOCS, Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Stoney DSO, ts copy of a report by Lieutenant Colonel H. E. Tizard on the landing at V Beach, p.16]

regards

Michael

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Crunchy

Thanks Bryn.

I am not being facetious, but we are saying that Clarke definately distinguished between heavy rifle fire and a machine gun firing from an unknown point (foot of Walker's Ridge or possibly further north in the vicinity of the Fisherman's Hut) some considerable distance away, thus there must have been a machine gun at Fisherman's Hut?

Again playing Devil's Advocate could he not have been mistaken if a platoon of 50 odd with magazine fed, bolt action rifles at the Fisherman's Hut was firing on the landing? I say this because (Records of Australian Contingents to the War in South Africa 1899 -1902) pp 254 -256 describes the operations of the 4th Victorian Contingent. Major Clarke with "C", "D" and "E" squadrons was on the lines of communication in Rhodesia until the end of 1900 and when they were transferred to Cape Colony. Here Clarke was involved in collecting stock, removing undesirables etc, at Matjesfontein until early February, when they joined Henniker's column in pursuit of Boers; riding 380 miles in 15 days. There were actions by "C" Squadron under Capt Divey on 11Th February and another on 23rd February when they came in contact with the enemy at Read's Drift where one 15 pr Bl gun and one pom-pom was captured but there is no evidence that the contingent was in any large actions; rather it seems they were involved in a series of small actions involved in chasing parties of Boers and preventing them from joining forces. Clarke commanded the contingent from 23rd February until 9th July. It certainly gave him considerable field experience but how large were the Boer parties, did they have machine guns with them - none of this is known.

Again, I am not saying that "there was not a machine gun at the Fisherman's Hut" but I think we ought to consider all aspects. Again I ask the question would one be able to pick out the difference between rifles and machine guns when say 50 odd rifles and a machine gun are all firing at once, particularly at that distance from the source of the fire? Maybe so, but I would contend that the impulse on receiving heavy fire is to immediately think of a machine gun.

There could well have been a machine gun at the Fisherman's Hut, but we do not have any conclusive evidence either way at this stage. We have evidence of what people thought was there, between 900 and 1200 yards away, and a report from the Turkish platoon commander that does not mention any machine guns.

Cheers

Chris

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Crunchy

Bryn,

Just seen your second post. Thanks for the photos, they certainly had a great field of fire. It is the destruction of the initial 7th Battalion boats that gives greater credence to the machine gun being at Fisherman's Hut, but the question I ask myself is could not concentrated rapid rifle fire from a platoon of 50 -60 odd men do the same damage into packed boats as they were moving into towards the shore? Can't be sure but I am inclined to think it could.

I also believe that the darkness at the time of the landing of the initial waves of the 3rd Brigade helped save them from a similar fate.

Cheers

Chris

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Crunchy
Here is another quote, from the British side this time, and referring to the machine-gun position on the right as described in post #74 above; see sketch and quote ""In the evening (25th April 1915) the Albion closed in and destroyed a machine gun post on the left, and the following morning another one in the old Fort of Sedd-ul-Bahr which helped the troops to advance"

quote:

"When about halfway up this path and opposite to the abutment of the fort that had two windows in it a machine-gun opened on them from the nearest window. None of them were hit and they jumped over a low wall on their left and took cover. I happened to be watching the party and immediately sent a message to HMS Albion with the help of Captain Lambert top open on this abutment, and which was done very smartly and with good effect, and the machine-gun troubled us no more" Lieutenant Colonel Henry Tizard

[iWM DOCS, Lieutenant Colonel G. B. Stoney DSO, ts copy of a report by Lieutenant Colonel H. E. Tizard on the landing at V Beach, p.16]

Michael,

From my post #75 quoting part of the email from the Pal in Turkey "The machine guns of the 25th were moved into reserve, being split into two sections and camped in an area behind Krithia, now Alcitepe. They did not come into action until late in the day." Could this have been one of the guns mentioned in your above quote?

Regards

Chris

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Peter Doyle
Peter,

Thanks for that and particularly the photos with the positions superimposed. Interesting issue - attacking force says there were machine guns, defending force researchers argue there none deployed on the 25th April according to the Ottoman sources. All very intriguing.

Playing Devil's Advocate for a moment - can we look at Geddes account in a little detail?

Firstly, why the emphasis in the original of they had machine guns? Was he challenging a contrary opinion?

Geddes also estimated 400 - 500 Turks opposing them (equivalent to 2 Companies +) . I understand there were considerably less than that number at V Beach - perhaps a couple of platoons, say 100 +.

He also estimates 6 machine guns at V Beach, excluding those you show at W Beach, when it seems that they may have had 4 available for the 26th Regiment's whole front, noting the orbat of the 9th Division is reported to indicate the 26th had no machine gun company. Others speak of 2 machine guns at V Beach.

Lets say of the 100 or so Turks at V Beach, 90 are firing rifles. Would one be able to pick out the difference between rifles and machine guns when 90 rifles and say 2 machine guns and a pom-pom or two are all firing at once?

What is apparent in his account is an exaggeration of the force opposing him, which is not an unnatural or unusual thing.

By this I am not saying "there were no machine guns at V Beach". I would have thought from the casualties suffered that machine guns would have been there but we need to test some of these statements.

What is your opinion of the ampitheatral bowls in maximizing the effect of rifles? I don't think we should underestimate the impact and amount of fire 90 magazine fed, bolt action rifles can achieve?

Again, thanks for your insight - very interesting.

Regards

Chris

Thanks Chris - I agree with you, in many ways. I think that Geddes was adding emphasis because it was obviously, even at that early state, a bone of contention. I think that is why it was mentioned in the OH that physical evidence was found on the beach. There will have been some enquiry here given that the 29th Dn regulars were held up at V beach all day. My view is that regardless of whether there were any MGs there, the ampitheatral aspect was sufficient to concentrate fire into the bowl, and that to the men on the beaches, it would have sounded like merry hell. In having underestimated the Ottomans, the Brits will have been surprised to have received disciplined fire, concentrated on the beach, held until the 'whites of their eyes' were seen. That is what I meant by terrain multiplication. I suppose what interests me further is that we are discussing it now, but that it had apparently been a major issue then.

Cheers

Peter

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Bryn

Chris, it's starting to seem as if you're trying to disqualify every witness to a machine gun at Anzac on 25th April as being either so inexperienced as not to know the difference, or lacking in the exact *kind* of experience required to tell the difference. Are you seriously suggesting that a full Colonel, in the military forces for over 35 years, including war service, would not have experienced the sound of a machine gun? And I seriously question the whole premise anyway; I still believe that most soldiers *can* tell the difference between rifle fire and MG fire, and the whole 'not enough experience' argument is only opinion, based on nowhere near the level of 'proof' you seem to be insisting upon from the statements of soldiers who were there.

Also from the 12th Bn:

"War Diary Appendix IV 12th Bn 3rd Infantry Brigade

Account of Action 25th April 1915 Anzac Cove

Gallipoli Peninsula

Owing to the 12th Bn being distributed amongst the three other Bns of the Brigade no organisation on landing was possible. The following account has been compiled from information received from the various Coys:-

The Battln. as shown in Appendix 3 landed about 4.10 AM. on the morning of the 25th April 1915 at ANZAC COVE - Gallipoli Peninsula. While loading from destroyers to boats we were heavily shelled from KABA TEPE and on landing met heavy machine gun & rifle fire from the direction of FISHERMAN'S HUT.- Large number of casualties on & before landing. The order of landing from left to right was HdQtrs & A Coy. D. B. C.

[12th Battalion 1915. War Diary of the 12th Battalion: Appendix IV. AWM].

- Handwritten account of activities of 12th Battalion's companies on first day. Signed by Lieut. Col Ernest Hillier Smith.

I could check Lieut. Col. Smith's record to determine whether he was experienced enough to note the presence of machine guns, but feel that's not really necessary. I'm prepared to believe that not all the witness reports can be wrong.

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Crunchy

Thanks for your reply Peter.

I hadn't realised it was a contentious issue then. Note that the Pal in Turkey said that the machine guns of the 25th regiment came into action late in the day, so the evidence of a machine gun belt in the area is not so surprising.

I think some people underestimate the effect of rapid rifle fire - it can be murderous, particularly on boats packed with troops.

Cheers

Chris

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Crunchy
Are you seriously suggesting that a full Colonel, in the military forces for over 35 years, including war service, would not have experienced the sound of a machine gun? And I seriously question the whole premise anyway; I still believe that most soldiers *can* tell the difference between rifle fire and MG fire, and the whole 'not enough experience' argument is only opinion, based on nowhere near the level of 'proof' you seem to be insisting upon from the statements of soldiers who were there.

Bryn,

I am making these points as a soldier with 35 years full time experience as an infantryman, including several experiences under fire on active service. If you read the last section of post #77 I mention why I raise these points. Let's not get too excited about Clarke's 35 years service - the vast majority of it was part time.

As I said in that post you can tell the difference when the weapons are firing separately or in light action, but in a heavy fire fight it is nigh impossible, or it was for me, and that is not based on opinion, it is based on personal experience under fire. I am quite happy for you believe that Clarke could tell the difference and I am assuming that you have based your belief "that most soldiers *can* tell the difference between rifle fire and MG fire" on personal experience rather than opinion.

Cheers

Chris

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Bryn

Col. Clarke instructed Lieutenant Rafferty to silence the MG on the left flank before escorting the Indian Mountain battery ashore. Rafferty (later Lieut. Colonel DSO himself) at the time was, I believe, an experienced soldier. Here is his service prior to joining the AIF. Note he served in the 1st Tasmanian Contingent to the South African War, as well as in the Senior Cadets, Volunteers and Militia; yet when Col. Clarke ordered him away from his prime mission, he did not object that there was no machine gun.

post-854-1214229879.jpg

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Bryn

Chris - can I ask what your definition of someone experienced enough to tell the sound of a machine gun is? Because whether there was or was not such a roar of fire that no individual sounds could be distinguished is speculation. After all, that's not written anywhere that I'm aware of in relation to the landing at Anzac.

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Crunchy

Bryn,

As I have tried to explain, although not very clearly and I apologise for that, is that it is quite easy to distinguish between different types of weapons when they are fired individually - they each have a particular noise "signature". It becomes more difficult as the number of different types of weapons firing at the same time increases. In light firing one can distinguish between a rifle and an automatic weapon but as the intensity and number of weapons increases into heavier fire it becomes nigh on impossible, or at least in the actions I fought in this was the case. One of the lasting memories I have is of the sheer noise of a firefight - it has to be heard to be believed. Listening to rapid rifle fire and machine guns from a distance of 900 to 1200 yards away would seem to be a dull roar or noise depending on the wind and amount of fire being generated. Bullets going overhead or past you have a sharp crack to them but even then you are not distinguishing them - it is just a sharp, all embracing noise. So it is not so much a matter of experience to be able to tell the difference between weapons in combat; it also depends on the intensity of the fire being taken - the heavier it is the more difficult it is to distinguish whether it is coming from automatics or rapid rifle fire. The Germans had the same difficulty at Mons when confronted with rapid rifle fire.

In my initial experiences in action I also tended to over estimate the size of the force opposing us and the amount of fire we were taking - it is not unusual to do so. That is the other point I have been trying to make. I have heard enough exaggerated accounts to not take much at face value anymore. Nor do I underestimate the effect and damage that rapid rifle fire can inflict - particularly on boats packed with troops - it can be quite murderous.

I am not saying Clarke was mistaken, I am asking could he have been mistaken if the fire being received was as heavy, as the accounts say it was, from the area of the Fisherman's Hut? Given his experience he would have known the difference between a machine gun and a rifle firing in a light action but I doubt he would have been able to distinguish between them if the fire they were receiving, at a range of 900 to 1100 yards, was as heavy as is reported. At the Fisherman's Hut the ratio of rapidly firing rifles to machine guns would have been in the order of 40 or 50 to 1 given that No 1 Platoon was supposedly located there. While I am questioning the amount of fire overall being reported during the initial stages of the landing, it is evident that the fire from the Fisherman's Hut was reasonably heavy and I am putting the possible sources of that fire under scrutiny. I may well be wrong, and Clarke may well have been right, but we have no conclusive evidence either way regarding machine guns at the Fisherman's Hut. What we do have is conclusive evidence of murderous fire being inflicted on the 7th Battalion at that point. Was it rapid rifle fire poured into congested boats as they approached the shore or was it the result of a machine gun and rapid rifle fire? Frankly I don't know, although my inclination would be machine gun and rapid rifle fire but, as I have intimated above at post #86, this damage might well have been done only by rapid rifle fire into congested boats and thus the research done by our Turkish colleagues is not so easily dismissed.

I hope this makes my points clearer. I may well be wrong but I am asking the questions from a reasonable basis of personal experience.

Regards

Chris

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Bill Woerlee

Bryn

G'day mate

Just something to ponder while reaching your conclusions. If you read the early reports from the 1st LHB at Magdhaba, they talk about receiving fire from machine guns. They stress the use of the plural in this circumstance and by this mention, indicate the reason for making poor headway. These were very experienced people, most having been under fire for over a year and in many cases, two years. So in that situation, using your logic, upon the cessation of hostilities at Magdhaba, one would have expected to find a sizable cache of machine guns. The attacking force at Magdhabe certainly did in this case. However, the belief did not fulfil the reality. There was only one machine gun discovered. It turned out that the 80th MGC was moved to Rafa leaving only one MG platoon with one MG at Magdhaba. In other words, while the men of the 1st LHB believed they heard multiple machine guns fire, there was in reality only one machine gun.

While I am not saying you are wrong, I am suggesting that Chris has excellent grounds for questioning the veracity of reports, even reports presented by men with great experience.

Cheers

Bill

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Crunchy
Chris, it's starting to seem as if you're trying to disqualify every witness to a machine gun at Anzac on 25th April as being either so inexperienced as not to know the difference, or lacking in the exact *kind* of experience required to tell the difference. ... . I'm prepared to believe that not all the witness reports can be wrong.

Bryn,

If that is the impression I am giving, it was not my intention. I am not trying to disqualify every witness. Nor I am not seeking to defend a particular position, I am questioning the veracity of these accounts against other evidence that is now becoming available. If you read my earlier posts you will see that I also believed there were machine guns at the Fisherman's Hut and Kapa Tepe. On the information now becoming available to us, I am now questioning if in fact my earlier assumptions were right. I haven't come down on one side or the other yet but the issue bears revisiting.

I also recognise that mistakes can be made and that soldiers who are unsure about something, on hearing someone else state it was a machine gun see this as confirmation and thus report it in their subsequent writings. I've actually seen something similar happen, where a soldier has had a doubt, heard someone else make a firm statement and then seen the original soldier change his view to conform with the other's man firm view. The soldier who made the firm statement turned out to be wrong while the original soldier's doubts were later confirmed. That doesn't mean that most of the accounts about machine guns were of this nature, but some of them may have been on this basis.

Your point that all of the witnesses couldn't be wrong is certainly compelling and I am inclined to agree with you. I am certianly not dismissing them. As I said to Peter Doyle, we are seeing two contrary views here and I am intrigued. I also don't think we can just dismiss our Turkish colleague's research efforts simply because they don't accord with our views and sources. I am not in contact with Kenan, I don't know him. I have been in touch with two others and they are in process of answering a number of questions I have put to them.

Just to clarify my current train of thought, and I emphasise they are primarily questions rather than assertions or conclusions:

The vast majority of men were going into action for the first time and were relatively young. I accept that others had seen service in the South African War and thus brought some leavening of experience. A certain number of these veterans may not have been involved in anything larger than skirmishes so was that experience particularly relevant to the situation at Anzac? Furthermore, it is likely that for a number of them, the action at Anzac may well have been the heaviest fire they had yet experienced, so could the impact of it or perception have been greater than reality? Nothing definite about this but just something to consider. Also how many of those accounts of machine guns were from the inexperienced troops and how many were from veterans with actual combat experience?

There is also the consideration that while some accounts mention the machine guns, others don't mention them at all and provide a contrary view of the amount of fire received. Which of these are we to believe? Which of them relate to the same time and which to different periods of the landing? I believe the second and third waves suffered more than the first wave. One of the problems we have is the number of inconsistencies both in Bean's Vol 1 and in other accounts. We know that Bean himself says that after an initial and short resistance the small Turkish garrison in the area of the Cove withdrew rapidly inland, so where was all the fire coming from after this happened? One must assume it was from the Fisherman's Hut and Kapa Tepe undertaken at relatively long range.

The reports of machine guns at Anzac Cove itself appear to be incorrect and that is from a position very close to the troops themselves. So if troops can mistake a machine gun at relatively close quarters, why can't the same mistake be made from a position 900 to 1200 yards away from what is believed to be a platoon of some 50 to 60 men, although not all may have been firing on the left flank of the assault. I have mentioned the basis of how this might have happened in previous posts.

On the other hand there is Clarke's assessment as related by another officer. His account cannot be dismissed lightly and we must seriously consider it. But can we be sure that because he said there was a machine gun at the Fisherman's Hut, then one must have been there because of his previous experience; the vast majority of which was as a part time soldier in the Volunteer artillery and a year in South Africa, of which six months was concerned with lines of communication duty and six with operating against what appears to be small parties of Boers. I am less inclined to accept this as proof of him being infallible. I agree he would have been able to distinguish between a machine gun and a rifle fire in certain situations, but that doesn't necessarily mean he could do so in all situations. He may well have been correct but reading Bean and the history account you have posted it is apparent that Clarke was not sure where the machine gun actually was. Bean simply says (Vol 1, p268) " An unseen Turkish machine-gun was firing from somewhere on the lower slopes of Walker's Ridge or of [sic] the foothills north of it, under which were marked on the map the Fisherman's Huts", then on page 270 " The light was growing. The machine gun on the left was harassing the boats" and further down the page "Clarke ordered [Rafferty] to move to the left and silence the machine gun". So on what basis can we assume that because he said there was a machine gun, he must have been correct? Senior officers with 35 years full time service have been known to be mistaken in similar situations. There also seems to be an assumption that this recognition is a precise art, which it isn't in some situations.

We also have the conclusive evidence of the 7th Battalion's initial boats being hit by murderous fire to the point only a couple of men survived. This occurred after it was reasonably light. Was it rapid rifle fire from about 50 - 60 men poured into congested boats as they approached the shore or was it the result of a machine gun and rapid rifle fire? Again, I don't underestimate the effect of rapid rifle fire into congested boats nor am I dismissing the machine gun. We can't take either for granted.

Then we have Peter Doyle's example of Geddes of the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers, a regular battalion straight from service in India. Geddes is likely to have been a reasonably experienced regular officer, yet it is apparent from his statement, compared with the Turkish forces generally accepted as being there, that he significantly over estimated the opposition and number of machine guns confronting his battalion at V Beach. Are we to assume that the Australians at Anzac were far more accurate in their accounts? If Geddes overestimated the situation at V Beach then it is reasonable to assume the Australians over estimated the situation at Anzac.

We also have evidence that the Turks weren't flush with machine guns and had a shortage of them. According to the Commander of the 27th Regiment and the Turkish 9th Division order of 7th April, the machine guns of 27th Regiment were in reserve. So where did the machine gun at the Fisherman's Hut come from? Is the Turkish Commander gilding the lily about the machine guns not being deployed? There is no reason for him to do so. Given the shortage of machine guns, would the Fisherman's Hut be a priority position for him to post one there? Possibly but not a certainty.

I don't think we can dismiss the account of the Turkish Platoon commander out of hand although I would like to read the translation personally to see what he actually said. However, no mention of a machine gun in his position doesn't necessarily mean there wasn't one there but my last question above also applies here.

Earlier I was pretty sure there was a machine gun at the Fisherman's Hut, for the same reasons that you are arguing now. With more information at hand and with the questions now in my mind, I am not as confident as I first was. Until I have conclusive evidence one way or the other the questions will remain in my mind.

If anybody has any other evidence on the matter, would you mind posting it?

cheers

Chris

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Bryn

"Mention was made above of a Turkish machine gun that was enfilading the beach during the actual landing of the troops. This machine gun, which had been firing from the direction of Fisherman's Hut, was causing numerous casualties, so a party under Lieuts. Strickland and Gostelow turned north, along the coast, and dealt summarily with the machine gun crew. Some of them managed to escape, but there was no more trouble from that direction." [my emphasis added]

(Belford, 'Legs Eleven' (History of the 11th Battalion), p73).

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Crunchy

Bryn,

Thank you for this.

Bean deals with Strickland's and Rafferty's task to silence the machine gun in some detail on pages p323 -325 of Vol 1. This party, working together, moved up the beach until they sheltered behind a rise some 300 yards south of the Fisherman's Hut and 150 yards SW of No 1 Outpost. See map no 15 opposite p323 and sketch map on p323. Pte Stubbings volunteered to check out the 7th Battalion's boats and the men lying on the shore. He reached them and found four survivors sheltering beside a boat, the rest all dead and wounded and reported this to Rafferty. At this time Rafferty received orders to retire which he did. There is no mention of them dealing with a machine gun.

Unbeknown to them Jackson had assembled a party of 36 survivors and lay in dead ground above the beach. Bean mentions p 327 that "Jacksons own boats were not advancing into shrapnel fire but into rifle fire. They saw it cutting the water ahead" Then Bean writes "There appeared to be two machine guns and many rifles at work. After what seemed an endless time in approaching it, they gradually rowed into the field of fire " [my emphasis]. I not sure how he determined there were two machine guns. I will see if I can track down the notes that Bean drew from. In 1990 I found an example of Bean changing information - Tulloch in interview note in 1918 indicated that he was still on Battleship Hill after midday, yet Bean infers in Vol 1 he withdrew late morning. Has Bean himself determined that there appeared to be two machine guns or did Jackson think there were two machine guns? It is strange that Bean specifically says " but into rifle fire". It is interesting that the description of the men being wounded in Capt Lahy's boat, with Lahy standing in the bow is more indicative of men being wounded by rifle fire rather than from a machine gun firing bursts into it.

Jackson had seen Rafferty and Strickland's party advancing up the beach and had seen some of them fall before they got into dead ground SW of No 1 Outpost, but assumed none of them had survived as he never saw them again.

I not sure why Belford was so specific when Bean makes no mention of Strickland and Rafferty's party seeing or dealing with a machine gun, nor does he mention them even getting into a Turkish position. The closest they appear to have got was 150 yards SW of No 1 Outpost.

So IMO the mystery remains.

Cheers

Chris

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Crunchy

Bryn,

Looking a map 15 in Bean's Vol 1 he shows three boats on the shore opposite the Fisherman's Hut. I have tracked down on p 330 Vol 1 " Watchers on the warships could see three boats lying upon the beach where Jackson's party had landed. Two of these were boats from the 7th Battalion, and a third had landed a part of the 12th a certain distance to the south." If this is true then one boat of the 12th battalion came ashore in the third wave ( clearly the left hand boat) and a little later two boats came ashore from the 7th Battalion, a certain distance north of them. I had always assumed there were more boats in the 7th Battalion incident, although it is not something I had really researched as it was not germane to my paper.

This puts a different complexion on the matter. IMO it reinforces the view that there were no machine guns at the Fisherman's Hut. Had there been one machine gun, let alone two , plus the 50 odd riflemen, I doubt that 36 would have survived from the two 7th Battalion boats. It also explains to some extent why Stubbings was able to get the boat where he found four survivors but did not see anything of Jackson and his 36 men and get back to Rafferty unscathed. the boat from the 12th Battalion is a bit of a mystery, but with one boat being the focus of the Turkish defence in that area, it is little wonder there were only four survivors.

IMO this makes it difficult to sustain an argument that there was a machine gun at the Fisherman's Hut.

Cheers

Chris

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michaeldr

quote from Chris; "From my post #75 quoting part of the email from the Pal in Turkey "The machine guns of the 25th were moved into reserve, being split into two sections and camped in an area behind Krithia, now Alcitepe. They did not come into action until late in the day." Could this have been one of the guns mentioned in your above quote?"

Chris,

Yes, it is possible, they could have been. I rule nothing out, even that

But we are still left with an overwhelming number of first hand accounts all saying that machine gun fire was encountered on the beaches

How are we to account for that?

quote from Chris' post # 75 above:

"A Pal who lives in Turkey and who has access to the Turkish sources has advised that there were no Turkish machine guns at V Beach on 25th April. He has given me permission to provide the following information in reply to a query:

"In the order of battle of the 9th Division, it clearly shows that the 27th and 25th regiments had their machine gun companies, though the 26th did not. There were no other machine gun units attached at either regimental, divisional or corps levels.

As to V Beach, yes the order you have is correct, for the time in question. However, a day or so before the landing on 25 April, the 25th regiment went into reserve, taking its machine gun company with it, being replaced by the 26th, which did not have an organic machine gun company attached.

The machine guns of the 25th were moved into reserve, being split into two sections and camped in an area behind Krithia, now Alcitepe. They did not come into action until late in the day.

There were four old quick firing 37mm Nordenfelt pieces at V Beach, intended for use as anti-aircraft guns, two located in the castle and two above the beach to the west, in the site of what was know to the Allies as Battery No. One. I am still trying to find out the exact rate of fire of these guns though have seen one reference to some models of 37mm pompoms being about to fire at least 90 rounds a minute while the four barreled 25mm version of theNordenfelt could fire 1000 rounds a minute, giving a per barrel fire rate of 250 rounds a minute."

Turkish5thArmyOrganization19April19.jpg

Chris,

This is part of the Organization Chart for the 5th Army at 19 April 1915 [see TGS's Brief History]

Under the 3rd Corps, 9th Division you will see their artillery listed by calibre

Left to right the line runs, 150s, 105s, 87s,

then 4 x 37

This I take these to be the Nordenfelt 37mm guns referred to previously in this thread and by Travers in his book on Gallipoli. If I understand correctly the 37mm was equivalent to a quick firing 1 pounder and was referred to by the British as a 'Pom-Pom' on account of its distinctive sound when fired. Because of this distinctive sound of the 37 mm gun, it is most unlikely that it could have been mistaken for a machine gun.

questions:

What are the guns shown next after the 37mm: i.e. 13 x 25mm?

Are these thirteen guns Nordenfelt 25mm and could they be what was being used against landings at Helles before the arrival of the machine guns which, some think was only late on the 25th?

Are they likely to have made a sound which could have been mistaken for a Maxim?

If the Ottomans withdrew their machine guns but left the Pom-Poms in place, did they also leave these thirteen 25mm in place too?

As I said months ago at the start of this thread, 'I wish I had more time'

regards

Michael

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