By Stephen Chambers
The August Offensive used to be born out of the disasters of the Gallipoli landings and the following battles of past due spring and early summer season 1915. common Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary strength, selected to play all his ultimate playing cards during this bold and creative gamble that he was hoping could ultimately flip the tide within the allies desire and convey his military up onto the heights overlooking the elusive Dardanelles.
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The published diary of Sir Ian Hamilton and also Cecil Aspinall-Oglander’s Official History are both a ‘must’ read, although both stand in the shadow of the Australian official historian, Charles Bean, whose detailed account of Anzac is second to none. I have made full use, as appropriate, of many personal accounts in the form of letters and diaries as well as a large assortment of maps and photographs, many never having been published before. The originators of these must all be thanked, because without this material there would be no story to tell.
The tales of heroism in impossible conditions, often undertaken with a very strong likelihood of death or maiming, are one of the notable features of the whole campaign; but here they are particularly plentiful. This latest book enables those of us who come after to understand, as best we can, what went wrong and how it went wrong. To appreciate the issues facing both sides, it is even more than usually important to understand the ground in addition to all the other contributory factors – misdirected artillery, the late delivery of orders, failures in communications, the setting of impossible start times, the jumbling up of units in the confusion of battle or in moving through difficult, often unknown, country.
Ambitious and risky yes, as all previous attacks of this nature had failed with enormous casualties, however this plan had the advantage of careful planning and cunning, which in previous efforts had been missing. The planned primary attack was against the southern lobe of 400 Plateau, a Turkish position known as Lone Pine. This was scheduled for the late afternoon of 6 August, and would be assaulted by 1 (Australian) Brigade, whilst at midnight, 6/AIF would attack further along the line at German Officer’s Trench, just north of Johnston’s Jolly.