August 6

This Day in History

World War I

Aug 6, 1915:

Allies land at Suvla Bay

On the evening of August 6, 1915, Allied forces commanded by Sir Frederick Stopford land at Suvla Bay, on the Aegean Sea, to launch a fresh attack against Turkish and German forces on the Gallipoli Peninsula during World War I.

The landing at Suvla Bay was part of the larger "August Offensive," which was an attempt by the Allied forces to break through the Turkish and German lines to take command of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The large-scale Allied land invasion of Gallipoli had begun the previous April 25, after an attempted naval attack on the Dardanelles failed miserably.

On August 6, Hamilton attempted to reinvigorate the Allied campaign with an offensive push from positions of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) against the Turks at Sari Bair ridge. The simultaneous landing of troops at Suvla Bay, to the north of Sari Bair, was intended as a supporting attack, but when the ANZAC attacks failed, Hamilton presented the Suvla Bay landings as the principal thrust of the offensive.

At Suvla Bay, British troops of the 10th, 11th and 53rd Divisions in Gallipoli were under the command of General Stopford, an officer nearing retirement, whose previous service was limited to a ceremonial post in London. German commander Liman von Sanders had received a warning from Berlin about a possible Allied attack in early August and had previously dispatched some Turkish and German divisions to protect the most likely targets. After the landing, British troops quickly secured the local hills but Stopford’s inexperience and the delay of his orders allowed time for General von Sanders to send reinforcements to recover lost ground, inflicting more than 12,000 Allied casualties in the process.

When Turkish snipers and artillerymen took the high ground in positions above the Allied troops on the peninsula, the British lost any chance to regain the upper hand. An easy scapegoat for the failure of Hamilton’s planned attacks, General Stopford was relieved of his command of the division on August 15, 1914; General Sir Henry de Beauvoir de Lisle succeeded him. In total, the Allies suffered nearly 20,000 casualties during the landings at Suvla Bay.

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