Published By Ben Hillidge
Suvla Bay. Chocolate Hill. 1/7 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 10-13 August 1915.
Chocolate Hill was high ground about X kilometres inland from Suvla Bay. From the beachhead the way to the hill was across a dry salt lake and then upwards over scrub land to the summit. The main landings at Suvla Bay had taken place over 6/7 August and had taken the Turks by surprise. However, the next day, rather than begin the advance inland and take advantage of the element of surprise, the troops were ‘rested’ – spending the day swimming and relaxing on the beach. This delay allowed the Turks to reinforce their positions. The first assault took place on 9 August and failed in the face of strengthened and prepared Turkish positions. On the 10 August 1915 the assault continued.
1/7 Bn RWF arrived at Suvla Bay during the evening of 8 August and began to disembark at C Beach. By 7am the next morning all were ashore and they moved off the beach to bivouac about a mile to the west of Lala Baba. At 4.30am on 10 August the battalion was ordered forward. They moved off half an hour later. The Brigade was to advance to relieve troops from 159 Brigade in the front line and then to continue a further 1/2 mile towards Chocolate Hill. They would advance on a 3 battalion front of 600 yards, 1/7 Bn RWF in the centre, 1/5 Bn RWF on their left and 1/6 Bn RWF on their right. The advance would be made eastward from Lala Baba and across the exposed and flat dry salt lake and then up across scrubland to trenches on the 100meter contour on the approaches to Chocolate Hill – the start line for their further advance. Unknown at the time was that 159 Brigade were already withdrawing.
As soon the advance reached the salt lake they came under unsuppressed rife fire from their front as well as shrapnel shells overhead. The troops extended their lines helping to minimise casualties and continued onwards. The rifle fire from the front, however, caused the advance to move to the right, units became mixed up and in the wrong place, the advance though continued and reached the other side of the salt lake. In the early afternoon they were coming up to the trenches occupied by men from 159 Brigade who were in the process of withdrawing. The battalion took heavy casualties when they became mixed up with the retiring troops. In the confusion men from the battalion too began retiring but were soon halted, also, there was confusion too as to which of the attacking battalions was where. By late afternoon order had been restored but they were still about 400 yards short of their objective. At 5pm the general advance was ordered with the intention to carry the ground. The battalions went over but were soon held up suffering more casualties. The attack failed and by about 5.30pm they were withdrawing to their start line although one company did managed to get about 200 yards further on but were held up and forced to take cover where they spent the night. By 7.30pm the fighting for the day ended. The battalion would occupy their line until relieved on 13 August by 1/1Bn. Herefordshire Regiment. Casualties were: officers killed 5, missing 2, wounded 9: ORs 13 killed, 138 wounded, 74 missing. One of the killed / missing was Acting Corporal 152, David Davies, one of wounded officers was Captain Eric Guy Harries, he would die of his wounds a week later on 17 August 1915.
GOOGLE MAPS centres on C Beach, Sulva Bay, the Salt Lake just inland and Chocolate Hill, the ground beyond the Lake.
References and Sources WAR DIARY 1/7 RWF.
B&O 1915 Gallipoli. Chocolate Hill, Suvla Bay. 1/7 Bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers. 10-13 Aug 1915.