When Hell froze over

You can get a good look at the Battle of Gallipoli from photos at the website

http://www.keepmilitarymuseum.org/gallipoli/index.php?&page=2

Here’s the gallery’s mission statement, from the website:

“The gallery commemorates the part played in the Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 by four West Country regiments and a Royal Naval Infantry Battalion, with strong county connections. In order of arrival on the Peninsular they were, the Collingwood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division, 5th (Service) Battalion the Dorset Regiment, the Queens Own Dorset Yeomanry and the two Devon Yeomanry Regiments. The majority were in action for the first time and in common with the other units of rapidly expanding British Army learned hard lessons of warfare at a terrible cost, fighting in an environment where they sweltered in the desiccating summer sun and froze in an ice storm from the heart of Asia.”

The heat and the flies are part of the enduring images of Gallipoli. It’s the last place I would ever have expected a blizzard to hit, but a massive storm struck Nov. 26/27, 1915, beginning with torrential rain with thunder and lightning, followed by flash flooding in which many were drowned, followed by a blizzard during which many men froze to death.

Here’s a description taken from the history of the 6th Bn, South Lancs:

At Suvla alone in the three-day blizzard, there were more than 5000 cases of frostbite and over 200 soldiers were drowned or frozen to death; no words can depict the horror of the situation with no shelter for the sick, overworked doctors, no winter clothing, and the absence of any means of evacuating the stricken, as no boat could approach the Gallipoli beaches until the fury of the storm had abated.”

Here’s more about the storm from various war diaries with much discussion of the number of casualties:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=166263

Image

A group of men recovering from hypothermia following the great ice storm, in a hut made of biscuit crates. Photo from the Keep Military Museum, Dorchester, Dorset.

Image

Memorial in London to the Royal Fusiliers, photo by ell brown. The 2nd Bn suffered nearly 90 percent casualties related to the storm.

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