Colour lithograph mounted upon original linen, with extensive contemporarily manuscript additions in black pen and pencil executed in on the battlefront by Sapper W.D. Saunders of the Royal Engineers (as signed and dated on verso), with 2 handstamps of the ‘Army Telegraphs’ dated December 31, 1915, plus handstamped short title of ‘S. Gallipoli 1:20,000’ on verso (Good, some signs of battlefield use, including wear along old folds, 2 large stains on left-hand side and small stains elsewhere, a tiny hole in lower-left quadrant), 75.5 x 100 cm (29.5 x 39.5 inches).
This is by far and away the finest and most historically important map of the Gallipoli Campaign we have ever encountered. This unique artefact is an extremely rare edition of the first generally accurate survey of the critical Cape Helles-Krithia sector and was drafted in Cairo by the future
Lawrence of Arabia’s map room at Intelligence Office (later the famed ‘Arab Bureau’), based upon a “captured” Ottoman map (the story behind the production of the map is truly fascinating, please see below). Published and rushed back to the front, this particular example of the map was extensively used in the field in the Cape Helles-Kritihia sector throughout the summer of 1915. Importantly, the map features extensive and highly important manuscript additions executed by Sapper W.D. Saunders of the Royal Engineers (whose name and personal details are signed on the verso) while he was engaged along the front lines.
The manuscript additions feature a vast wealth of information, including landing locations; the positions of trenches and front lines; troops placements and headquarters locations; the placement of heavy artillery; roads, wells and the aerodrome; as well as specific places which figured prominently in battles, such as the frightfully named “Snipers Wood”. Few maps of the Gallipoli Campaign feature such comprehensive and valuable information added in real-time by a soldier on the front lines, ensuring that this map is worthy of much further academic study.
The present map is very rare. We can trace only 4 institutional examples, held by the British Library; National Archives U.K.; Oxford University – Bodliean Library; and the Australian War Memorial. Moreover, we are not aware of any other examples appearing on the market, at least during the last generation.
The Action in Southern Gallipoli and the Present Map
In the early days of World War I, the Entente powers sought to knock the Ottoman Empire out of the conflict by taking Istanbul, by way of the Dardanelles. They mounted the Gallipoli Campaign (February 17, 1915 – January 9, 1916), during which a force of 490,000 British, Indian, Australian, New Zealander and French troops made various landings upon the Gallipoli Peninsula which strategically guarded the mouth of the Dardanelles. The 325,000 Ottoman defenders, backed by German forces, successfully repelled these operations, in what was one of the most hard-fought and bloody military contests in World history.
In February and March 1915, the Entente forces initially attempted to ram their way through the Dardanelles though naval operations alone. However, this failed spectacularly, so they resolved to land ground forces on the peninsula, an infinitely greater commitment in blood and treasure.
The land operations of the Gallipoli Campaign were fought in two main, discontiguous zones, the Ari Burnu-Suvla Bay sector, on the north-west of the Peninsula, and the Cape Helles-Krithia sector, on the southern third of the Peninsula.
The present map is an advanced and highly detailed topographical rendering of the southern half of the Gallipoli Peninsula done to a scale of 1:20,000, predicated upon a recent Ottoman survey. The shorelines are heightened with frosted blue shading, while landward elevation is shown through contour lines at ten-metre intervals, with all major headlands, hills (with spot heights in metres), ravines and nullahs (dry riverbeds) carefully depicted and labelled. The map features all villages, with the largest settlements show with their street plans; also depicted are farms and rural huts; while many roads are paths are delineated. Also labelled are lighthouses, forts, barracks, ruins, cemeteries, mosques, monasteries, wells, water towers and telegraph lines. Additionally, the map is overlaid with a grid of of red squares, all orientated to the magnetic north, to aid its use in the field (Allied troops previously encountered severe orientation problems using the old maps of Gallipoli). The text panel to the right of the map explains, in both English and French, how to use the grid reference, as well as providing a chart for converting feet to metres.
The present edition of the map is greatly augmented by extensive manuscript additions concerning battle information added in the field (which will be discussed in detail below).
The southern tip of the peninsula at ‘Helles Bunru’ (Cape Helles) appears in the lower-left corner, near the village of ‘Sidd el Bahr’ (Seddülbahir). The scene extends north and northeast beyond the port of ‘Kilid Bahr’ (in the upper right), that guards the narrows of the Dardanelles, and the Kilid Bahri Plateau. Inland, about a third of the way up, is the village of ‘Krithia’ (today Alçitepe) and the nearby strategically vital hill of ‘Atch Tepe’ (commonly called Achi Baba, today known as Alçitepe, like the village), which at 215 metres-high (here erroneously shown to be 245 metres), commanded the entire southern part of the peninsula. Control over Achi Baba was assumed to give the possessor an overwhelming advantage that could conceivably alter the course of the entire Gallipoli Campaign, and was thus the principal Entente objective Cape Helles-Krithia sector. Critically, one will notice that, in almost all places, the shorelines rise precipitously out of the sea, with only a few breaks suitable for landing forces, most of these being near the southern tip of the peninsula.
The Ottoman military command anticipated that Britain would likely strike Turkey near the mouth of the Dardanelles. They were very well prepared (far more so than the British expected), and by the end of 1914 they had evacuated the civilian population of the Gallipoli Peninsula, making it a special military zone. Specifically, Krithia’s population, which consisted of 450 ethnic Greek families, was evacuated, such that the town could be used as both a forward base to support defensive lines, as well as to guard the approaches to Achi Baba.
On night of April 25, 1915, British Imperial-French forces launched the terrestrial operations of the Gallipoli Campaign, with the British armies assuming the name of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF). The invasion came in the form of two separate, but simultaneous operations; one army would land in the Ari Bunru sector, on the north-west of the peninsula, while the other would land near Cape Helles.
The operations at Cape Helles were commanded by Major General Aylmer Hunter-Weston (1864 – 1940), today a much-maligned figure, regarded as being one of the most incompetent generals of World War I. His initial force, consisting of the 29th Division, totalling 13,500 men, landed on the evening of the April 25 at an arch of beaches near Cape Helles, known as ‘S’, ‘V’, ‘W’, ‘X’ and ‘Y Beaches. Hunter-Weston expected his forces to easily move inland to capture Krithia and Achi Baba, hobbled only bs token resistance. In theory, this seemed quite plausible, as the Entente forces initially outnumbered the Ottomans in the sector by two to one.
The bulk of the Entente forces landed at V Beach, near Seddülbahir, and ‘W’ Beach (also known as ‘Lancashire Landing’, after the regiment that beached there), a little as to west, on the other side of Cape Helles.
To the amazement of the British high command, the Ottomans, while outnumbered, fought with phenomenal motivation and bravery. Their commander, Colonel Mustafa Kemal (later ‘Atatürk’, the founding President of the Republic of Turkey), famously addressed his men before the fighting: “I do not order you to fight, I order you to die. In the time which passes until we die, other troops and commanders can come forward and take our places.”
The Ottomans failed to stop the landings but managed to inflict outrageous casualties upon the enemy (while suffering many deaths themselves). The British gained a small foothold at the tip of the peninsula but were unable to make significant territorial gains.
Critically, the commander of the land forces at Y Beach made a severe error. Amazingly, after landing, he allowed his men to dither instead of striking inland quickly. It is generally held that had they acted expeditiously, the British would have taken Krithia and Achi Baba that day. However, the delay allowed the Ottomans to regroup and bring in re-enforcements, so evening up the odds.
On April 28, the British decided to make a determined push inland from their beachheads. The two sides fought the fierce First Battle of Krithia in the countryside between Sedd el Bahr, Y Beach and Krithia, which resulted in the Entente forces retreating to near their original lines, having suffered very heavy casualties.
Over the next week, both sides drew in reinforcements, such that the British-French forces in the southern peninsula numbered 25,000, while the Ottomans counted 20,000 men. During the Second Battle of Krithia (May 6-8, 1915), the Entente forces made another run at the Turkish lines but were met with fierce resistance. While the Anglo-French troops gained a modest amount of ground, almost half of their men fell as casualties. While nobody could fault the dedication of the Entente troops, their side suffered from a lack of coordination which was brutally exploited by the highly driven and well-led Ottomans. Both sides settled into the brutal regime of trench warfare that was to become the signature feature of World War I.
On June 4, 1915, during the Third Battle of Krithia, Hunter-Weston, in command of 30,000 men (against a slightly smaller Ottoman force) followed a more conservative approach, whereby he tried to merely gain some ground, as opposed to mounting a headlong rush towards Krithia and Achi Baba. This operation initially met with some success, until the Ottomans mounted a fearsome counterattack that pinned the Anglo-French troops back into their trenches. The invaders barely gained an inch, while both sides suffered thousands of casualties.
At the Battle of Gully Ravine (June 28 to July 5), an Anglo-French force once again tested the Ottoman lines. While they made some headway, a breakthrough failed to materialize, as the French forces on the eastern flank withered under severe Ottoman pressure, slowing down the progress of the rest of the force. As such, the lines only moved a short way up the peninsula.
During the Fourth Battle of Kritiha (August 6-13), the Anglo-French troops tried in vain to break the Ottoman lines, but after six brutal days of fighting they were finally repulsed. This proved to be the last major action in the Cape Helles-Krithia sector.
Meanwhile, in that became known as the August Offensive’ (August 6-21, 1915), the Entente side launched a massive operation to shore up their positions in the Ari Bunru-Suvla Bay sector, with the objective of driving the Ottomans out of the area. This proved to be a colossal failure, that resulted in outrageous casualties on both sides.
After all this, the astounding human and financial cost of the Gallipoli Campaign, which had produced scarcely any accomplishments for the Entente side, caused the British high command to consider pulling the plug in October 1915. However, this move was delayed for some time, as a full-scale retreat would be a massive loss of face, as well as a blow to Allied morale, coming at bad time when another horrid stalemate had developed in the fields of northern France and Flanders. Finally, in December 1915, the Entente troops were evacuated in stages from all their positions on the Gallipoli Peninsula, with the last contingent leaving on December 20. All Allied ships departed the vicinity by January 1916.
While the Gallipoli Campaign was an epic embarrassment for the British Empire, the extreme bravery and commitment shown by the ANZACs served as a defining moment of national consciousness for both Australia and New Zealand which resonates to the present day.
On the other side, the Gallipoli Campaign is still rightly hailed as one of the great modern achievements of the Turkish people. It made one of the heroes of the campaign, Mustafa Kemal Pasha, into a legend, allowing him to spearhead the creation of the Republic of Turkey out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Kemal, hence known as ‘Atatürk’ served as the nation’s revolutionary founding president for 15 years.
The Present Map’s Manuscript Additions in Focus
The present example of the map features extensive and highly important manuscript additions, all executed in the field in Gallipoli by Sapper W.D. Saunders, of the Royal Engineers, who was attached to the 52nd (Lowland) Division. The manuscript additions reveal a vast wealth of detail about the campaign in the Cape Helles-Krithia sector, including the locations of the Entente troop landing sites; their trenches and progressive front lines; the positions of named detachments; the locations of headquarters; the placement of heavy artillery; the delineation of new roads and other infrastructure; in addition to various named specific sites that featured prominently in various battles. This map was extensively used in the active combat zone of Southern Gallipoli for several months by a combat engineer who was directly involved in constructing many of the trenches and roads, et cetera, that are depicted on the present map, in an environment of intense military action. Only very few Gallipoli maps feature such authentic and valuable manuscript additions as present here, making this a valuable artefact worthy of further exploration.
Saunders, as part of the 52nd Division, arrived in Gallipoli at the Cape Helles-Krithia Front in June 1915. Fighting beside the 156th Brigade, the group say heavy combat at the Battle of Gully Ravine (June 28 to July 5), where they suffered a casualty rate of thirty percent! They also saw action at the Fourth Battle of Krithia (August 6-13), where the Entente side reached its furthest point of progress in the sector.
On the verso of the map, Saunders provided the following information in manuscript: “96582 Sapper W D Saunders / Headquarters Signal Coy RE 52nd Division”, with the added note “Torres Line / Cape Helles – 31/12/15”. Sanders also provided his “Home Address: Uplyme, Lyme Regis, England”. Additionally, on the front of the map are two handstamps of the ‘Army Telegraphs’ dated December 31, 1915. While Saunders likely received the present map in June 1915, shortly after his arrival at Gallipoli, the date of December 31, 1915, fell during the period when he would have left the Gallipoli Peninsula, but would still have been in the Gallipoli vicinity, either aboard a ship or on one of the nearby British-controlled islands (such as Lemnos or Imbros), awaiting passage home. The Army Telegraph stamps, bearing the same date, perhaps represent the official sanction for Saunders to retain the map as a personal souvenir of his Gallipoli service.
Turning to the manuscript additions on the map, three of the initial Entente landing places in the sector are labelled in black pen, being “W Beach / Lancashire Landing”; “X Beach / Implacable Landing”; and “New Y Beach”, with the latter featuring notes in pencil giving the locations of “29th Division”, “HQ” as well as the placement of howitzers.
Near Cape Helles, labelled in pencil, is a Union Jack marked “8th Co”, being the headquarters of the VIII Corps; “Hunters Hill”, and the “Aerodrome”. Nearby, in Sidd el Bahr is a manuscript tricolour flag indicating the location of the French HQ.
Importantly, the map labels the various lines, with the trenches that were established by the Entente forces across the width of the peninsula from April to August 1915. The “Torres Lines” of trenches, which run across the peninsula from X Beach, are accompanied by the placement of the “52nd Div.” and “156th Brigade” (this is where Saunders was based for some time, as also noted on verso of the map), while a number of water wells are noted nearby. Further up the peninsula are a series of trenches running inland roughly from New Y Beach, with one point labelled as the “Old Inniskilling HQ”, referring to the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, a regiment from India, which fought on the front. Further up is the “Eski line”, while beyond is the final line, traced lightly in pencil, representing the furthest extent achieved by the Entente forces following the Battle of Gully Ravine (June 28 to July 5).
Serving the various Entente positions and trenches are a series of roads added to the map in double dashed lines, in bold black pen. The road system commenced at W Beach and fanned out to run along the various natural corridors up into the interior to the front lines. These include “Road No. 1”; “Road No. 2”, which ran atop the Krithia Spur; “Road No. 3”, which ran up the Krithia Nullah; and “Road No. 4”, which ran along Fir Tree Spur. Additionally, “Rochdale Road” is shown to run from the Eski Line to the final line.
Additionally, throughout the theatre, numerous specific sites are mentioned that that figured prominently in the battle action, including “Mole Hill” (near the Torres Line); “Pink Farm”; “Brown House”; “Stone Bridge”; “Zimmerman’s” Farm; “Redoubt Bouchet” and the chillingly named “Snipers Wood”.
It is interesting to consider the manuscript additions on the present map in relation to those that appear on closely related maps. Curiously, the example of the present map held by the National Archives U.K. was also owned by a member of Saunders’s division, the 52nd Lowlanders, as it is endorsed on the verso: “War Diary of General Staff Branch, 52nd (Lowland) Division: July 1915, Volume III, App 50”, and is stamped with the lines: ‘Ass Adjt General, 3rd Echelon, MEF, Central Registry, 11 Aug 1915.’
The example of the present map held by the British Library is catalogued as including “MS markings in coloured pencil”.
The example of the grand Ottoman map of the Cape Hellas-Krithia theatre (that was the antecedent of the present map of Southern Gallipoli) that was owned by General Liman von Sanders, the German nobleman who was the supreme, commander of the Central Powers forces at Gallipoli, features extensive manuscript additions made in the summer of 1915 (executed during the same period as those on the present map), but from the other side of the front. A very interesting comparison! Please see link:
The Role of Cartography at Gallipoli and the Story behind the Present “Captured” Map
Geographic knowledge of the battle theatre is always a key factor in the success of an army; however, this was perhaps nowhere truer than during the Gallipoli Campaign, where the terrestrial operations were fought upon a rocky, largely barren peninsula of steep ridges and deep, irregular ravines. A lack of complete and precise knowledge of this challenging landscape proved to be a determinative factor in the outcome of many operations during the campaign.
In planning the Gallipoli Campaign, the British high command severely underestimated the skill and resolve of the Ottoman defenders; they expected to quickly bulldoze what was they anticipated to be mediocre opposition. Accordingly, they were amazingly ignorant of the both the topography of the Gallipoli Peninsula as well as the hydrography of the surrounding seas.
At the beginning of the Gallipoli Campaign, the best hydrographic work that the Allies possessed of the region was a 1908 chart of the waters around the Gallipoli Peninsula and the Dardanelles that, while based on recent Admiralty surveys, soon proved to have horrific flaws that unnecessarily endangered ships and troop landings. As for topgraphical mapping, the Entente powers relied upon a reprint of French map dating from the Crimean War (1853-6)! This map was both astoundingly inaccurate and done to a relatively small scale of 1:50,000, ensuring that its use was probably more dangerous than not using any map at all!
As the frightful quality of the existing maps became apparent to the British after they sent airplanes to make a photographic reconnaissance of Gallipoli, resulting in a new 3-sheet map of the peninsula and the Dardanelles region, done to scale of 1:40,000. While an improvement over the 60-year old French map, it still proved inadequate, especially as aerial reconnaissance was a new, imperfect science, while the scale of the map was still too small for operational sue.
Upon the failure of the naval operations, the Allied powers decided to mount a land invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula. On the night of April 25, 1915, the Allied command planned two main landing zones upon the peninsula, one near Cape Helles, at the southern end of the peninsula, and other in the Ari Bunru sector along the north-western coast of the peninsula. Both landings were severely hampered by the inaccuracy or vagueness of the available maps.
On the other side, the Ottomans had anticipated that the Entente forces would likely seek to invade Turkey by way of the Dardanelles, and so prior to the military action they dispatched engineers to survey the Gallipoli Peninsula and adjacent Asian shores of the straits. While these maps were not perfect, systematic surveys, and were later revealed to have some errors, they were broadly accurate, and were certainly good enough to decently inform military operations. These surveys were published by the Ottoman War Ministry Press in Istanbul, and resulting new Gallipoli maps were issued only in small quantities for the exclusive use of senior officers in the field, who were under stern orders to guard against their capture by the enemy.
One of the most important Ottoman maps of the Gallipoli Campaign was the first ever broadly accurate and detailed survey of the southern part of the Gallipoli Peninsula (encompassing the future Cape Helles-Krithia battle sector), published by the Ottoman War Ministry Press early in 1915 (Please refer to the image of General Liman von Sanders’s example above). This untitled map, with text in Ottoman Turkish, was executed to scale of 1:25,000, with contour lines at 10-metre intervals, and clearly depicts all major manmade and topographical features in a manner ideal to assist military movement. Importantly, the map was used by the Ottoman-German high command to deploy forces to the Cape Helles-Krithia front in advance of the first Entente landings and it remained a key strategic aid for the remainder of the campaign.
Despite the precautions of the Ottoman command, the British captured an example of this grand survey of Southern Gallipoli at some point in early May, not long after the first Entente landings.
Meanwhile, at the General Headquarters of the high command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on the island of Imbros (Gökçeada), a printing press was established. This press was run by the campaign’s ‘Maps Officer’, Lt. Tresilien Nicholas, who was previously a research geologist at Trinity College, Cambridge, before being briefly employed by the Geographic Section of the War Office in London. On May 12, 1915, Nicholas arrived at Imbros, to take charge of a hand-operated lithographic press with letterpress devices, assisted by the ‘A’ Printing Section of the Royal Engineers.
Nicholas was amazed by the quality of the Ottoman maps that had recently been captured from the enemy, as they were far superior to those available to the Entente side; the present map of Southern Gallipoli was seen as of being of paramount value.
On June 12, 1915, Nicholas wrote to his former boss at the War Office, Colonel Walter Coote Hedley:
“Not long after landing we began to capture maps, which proved the Turks to be far better equipped in this regard than we were. We captured a copy of a map on a scale of 1/25,000, extending from Cape Helles to the North edge of the Kilid Bahr Plateau, where it was finished off in a manner that suggested strongly that the survey had been continued further North. The map bore evidence of having been produced in a hurry, and was printed entirely in brown, except for the names, and, as far as could be judged from inspection, the contouring seemed well done and highly detailed. The Printing Section produced a number of editions of this map, and I spent many long hours making tracings of it.”
Later in May, Nicholas hastily redrew the Southern Gallipoli map, but only included elevation contours at 50-metre intervals. He ran off a few different editions of this ‘Preliminary Map’ from his crude hand-powered lithographic press. While these maps would have been somewhat useful to Entente commanders, a much better, more precise version was required, one which far exceeded the capabilities of the Printing Section at Imbros.
Fortunately, in December 1914, Lieutenant T.E. Lawrence (1888 – 1935), an eccentric and insubordinate, yet extraordinary brilliant, junior officer was placed in charge of the map department at the newly formed Intelligence Office in Cairo (later known as the famed ‘Arab Bureau). Lawrence had previously gained valuable experience mapping the Sinai Peninsula, and was a stellar cartographer with a gift for languages. Lawrence would, of course, soon become a household name as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ for his exploits later in the war.
In late May 1915, a second example of the original Ottoman Southern Gallipoli map was captured on the battlefront and was immediately dispatched to Cairo. Lawrence’s map room worked up the map, Southern Gallipoli. From a Captured Turkish Map, Provisional Edition, done to a the scale of 1:20,000 (this scale was preferred by the British command, as it was consistent with that which was used on the Western Front, while producing maps that were of sufficiently high resolution to for operational use, while not being too large and unwieldy), with contour lines at 10-metre intervals. However, the MEF command at Gallipoli requested the map as an emergency order, thus Lawrence’s workshop spent only twelve hours drafting the it, such that the map featured many omissions and a few notable errors. Critically, the map featured no names (there was no time to transliterate the Ottoman text into English) and no reference grid. Nevertheless, the map was a notable improvement over Nicholas’s preliminary efforts. The ‘Provisional Edition’ arrived in Gallipoli only a week after it was printed.
While the ‘Provisional Edition’ was welcomed on the Cape Helles-Krithia front, being somewhat of use to battle commanders and Royal Engineers, it soon became clear that a definitive and complete edition of the Southern Gallipoli map was urgently required.
This is where the present edition of the map enters the scene. At some point, seemingly around the beginning of June 1915, Lawrence’s map department in Cairo took five days to draft a refined, carefully rendered, definitive version of the Southern Gallipoli map. The map corrected all the errors and omissions present on the previous editions, while including all place names transliterated from the Ottoman Turkish, while adding a reference grid (vitally useful for orientation in the field). This map, being the present issue, was promptly published and dispatched to the Gallipoli front, where we know that it arrived sometime before June 12, as on that day Nicholas wrote to Hadley that the map was “an admirable production”.
The Survey Department in Cairo likewise also issued another, enlarged, edition of the present map, done to scale of 1:10,000, printed on four sheets.
The Intelligence Bureau’s map room in Cairo soon switched to producing the much better kown 1:20,000 series of maps, issued in six separate sheets (‘Anafarta Sagir’; ‘Kurija Dere’; ‘Damler’; ‘Krithia’; ‘Chanak’; and ‘Boghali’), which was based on an entirely different (and chronologically later) series of surveys than the antecedent of the present map. In fact, it seems that the present edition of the Southern Gallipoli map influenced the design of the six-sheet series.
As it turned out, many of the commanders and engineers in the Cape Helles-Krithia theatre preferred the Southern Gallipoli map to dealing with the clumsy separate sheets of the six-sheet survey. Indeed, Sapper Saunders heavily relied upon his example for the duration of the campaign.
References: British Library: Cartographic Items Maps X.1503. / OCLC: 1099878420; National Archives U.K.: WO 301/385; Oxford University, Bodliean Library: D30:3 (20) 385; Australian War Memorial: G7432.G1 S65 VI.19; Peter CHASSEAUD and Peter DOYLE, Grasping Gallipoli: Terrain, Maps and Failure at the Dardanelles, 1915 (2005), passim.