The Second Battle of Krithia, fought from 5th to 8th May 1915, may be a little-known action on the Gallipoli Peninsula, but it cost over a 1,000 Australian and 800 New Zealand casualties in an hour. Just to gain and lose 1,000 yards of territory. Including British and French numbers, casualties were over 6,000 in one night.
Why is it so little known in Australia? It was fought at Cape Helles, primarily a British and French sector, not at Anzac.
Second Krithia was an appalling saga, worthy of a Blackadder script. Every principle of war was broken in futile daylight frontal assaults on an invisible but competent and deadly enemy. It proved that commanders had learned nothing from the American Civil War, the Boer War and the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 about modern warfare and the effect of new weapons, and clung almost to 18th century methods.
Like many First World War actions, it illustrated the innate courage and fortitude of the soldiers and the ineptitude of their commanders.
It was, in the words of the historian Les Carlyon, “Battle Done Badly”.
Military history enthusiast, battlefield guide and speaker, retired Lieutenant Colonel Ron Lyons served in the Australian Army Reserve for 37 years.
Ron is passionate about telling the story of Australia’s military history to the wider community and has been a historian and battlefield guide on Gallipoli and the Western Front in France and Belgium since 2008.
As well as guiding and speaking to community groups, Ron has been conducting battlefield tours on Sydney Harbour dealing with the Japanese Submarine attack on Sydney in 1942 as a principal of battlefield touring company Battle Honours Australia.
Ron is an Associate Member of the International Guild of Battlefield Guides, the Military History Society of New South Wales, The Western Front Association and the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies.