Second Battle of Krithia, Gallipoli

After a first attempt to capture the village of Krithia, on the Gallipoli Peninsula, failed on April 28, 1915, a second is initiated on May 6 by Allied troops under the British commander Sir Aylmer Hunter-Weston.

Fortified by 105 pieces of heavy artillery, the Allied force advanced on Krithia, located at the base of the flat-topped hill of Achi Baba, starting at noon on May 6. The attack was launched from a beach head on Cape Helles, where troops had landed on April 25 to begin the large-scale land invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula after a naval attack on the Dardanelles failed miserably in mid-March. Since the first failed attempt on the village, Hunter-Weston’s original force had been joined by two brigades of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) to bring the total number of men to 25,000. They were still outnumbered, however, by the Turkish forces guarding Krithia, which were under the direct command of the German Major-General Erich Weber. Weber had been promoted from the rank of colonel after supervising the closure and mining of the Dardanelles six months earlier.

Facing superior enemy numbers and suffering from a shortage of ammunition, the Allies were able to advance some 600 yards, but failed to capture either Krithia or the crest of Achi Baba after three attempts in three days. Hunter-Weston’s troops suffered heavy losses, with a total of 6,000 casualties. Two British naval brigades engaged in the battle saw half their number, some 1,600 soldiers, killed or wounded.

The British regional commander in chief, Sir Ian Hamilton, after pushing for more supplies and ammunition, ordered Hunter-Weston to continue the pressure on Achi-Baba; a third attack on the ridge was launched in early June. As heavy casualties continued to be sustained across the region, with little real gains for the Allies, it became clear that the Gallipoli operation—an Allied attempt to break the stalemate on the Western Front by achieving a decisive victory elsewhere—had failed to achieve its ambitious aims.

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