Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Turkish Guns on the 400 Plateau

There are a number of different people who were attributed with the capture of Turkish artillery guns on the day of the landing - Lt Loutit (10 Bn), Lt Talbot-Smith (10 Bn) and Corporal Harrison (9 Bn).
Charles Bean also mentions another battery of abandoned Hotchkiss mountain guns which is discovered by Lt Hooper (5 Bn) which no-one is credited with actually capturing.

Bean credits CPL Harrison with the capture of the guns on the 400 Plateau, near “The Cup”. However, in “Silent Voices” a history of the 10th Battalion in the Great War, Robert Kearney quotes a section of LT Loutit’s account of his time on the day of the landing. The quote comes from an interview which was conducted many years after the event which Loutit begins with “Now this is a story I have not told many people…” He then relates how he and his men captured the Turkish guns.
So now I have two versions of the same event… once again, I have to make a decision “Which way do I go?”

I had considered the possibility of one group capturing one battery, while another captured the second battery of guns. I could easily see how either group could have done this, but then I’d be making stuff up, and I don’t want to start furphies.
Chris Roberts in his book “The Landing at Anzac – 1915” is quite certain there was only one battery of guns in the vicinity at the time. Although he doesn’t address the issue of the Hotchkiss guns specifically, it is clear from his research that he concludes there were not two batteries there. So what’s to be done about the account of LT Hooper, and later LT Derham (5 Bn) who fought at the position of the Hotchkiss guns for at least 6 hours. Were they making up their story of a second battery of guns?
Or was it just an empty battery position? I considered this, but why then does Bean specifically say they were “Hotchkiss guns”? If it was an empty position the type and make of the guns would be hard to ascertain. Hooper was later killed at the battle for Lone Pine in August, but after the War Derham provided Bean with a sketch of the layout and other details of the position.
Was it the same battery that Loutit and Harrison captured at the Cup? I considered this option, but Derham was certain his position was on the South eastern corner of the Lone Pine, and Bean believes he found evidence of a battery position there when he did his fact finding mission in 1919.

It seems incredible that the Turks would simply abandon a battery of guns – this is sacrilege to any gunner, unless they were all killed at the scene, as described by CPL Harrison. In Gallipoli Mission, Bean tells how he found the remains of eight Turkish soldiers with two horses or mules nearby, which could have been part of a gun team.

Then there is LT Talbot-Smith whose 10th Bn scouts were actively looking for the guns on the 400 Plateau. This was their primary task upon landing. Their account is not mentioned anywhere, but Talbot-Smith is attributed with capturing guns by his Commanding Officer. He was fatally wounded later in the day so was never interviewed by Bean. Perhaps he and his scouts captured the Hotchkiss guns.

After all this I’m left with a lot of questions with no clear answers. What I have decided to do, is blend Loutit’s and Harrison’s accounts of the capture of the guns at the Cup; and related Hooper’s and Derham’s story as Bean tells it. Not wanting to speculate too much I have decided that the capture of the Hotchkiss guns and poor old Talbot-Smith’s story will remain forever unknown. Whether they are linked no-one can tell.

Captain Milne's group had chased the Turks from M'Cay's Hill, east
 to the Lone Pine. Milne then headed south.

A birds eye view of the photo below
Although the arrow shows Milne heading east - he had
by this time turned to the south.

Taken from Johnston's Jolly looking south towards the Lone Pine.
 The Daisy Patch would be just to the right of the monument, and
the Cup is the gully just to the left of the monument. 


  1. You make no mention of the Australians shooting down a turk and mules with SAA and a machine gun strapped to the mules. Also the men finding spare parts for machine guns in a tent. This where the 3 Krupps mtn guns captured. At Pine Ridge where the two Hotchkiss mtn guns were was an abandoned Turk machine gun. There is no way our blokes are mistaken or lying on this. The turk records require greater scrutiny.

    1. Thanks for your comment. The problem with writing a history book is - "what to include and what to leave out?" The beauty of writing the book as a graphic narrative is that what is not mentioned in the text is displayed in the drawings. The above essay is primarily concerned with the Ottoman artillery in the vicinity of the 400 Plateau at the time of the landing. The machine guns you talk about are depicted in my book, but not specifically pointed out. The scene I depict of the capture of the Krupp guns, shows the MG's on the back of the mules, and the dead Turk with his arm caught through the reins of the mule. It was in the dugout (maybe the Bty HQ) behind the gun posn where Bean says the Australians found the MG parts and other equipment, I also include the captured Turkish MG which was used by the Australians at the Hotchkiss gun posn and how a Warrant Officer arrived and got it operational. You mention "two" Hotchkiss guns - I'm keen to know your source, as they are not discussed very much and I would love to read more about them.