Correspondence between Field Marshal Lord William Birdwood and Lady Janetta Birdwood, 1915 - Part 24

First World War, 1914–18
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mme reeher m what non mean about her uet I think she is reelly a nice Homan & I like him very much. Cliff toll me he had bought bhat house for hes jot befre he came out the hally t We able to do it - sops dbout knon that it is a thing I of have done mysell at such a time! Did. I tell you I nay have Co 11t Mourin on hmm staff as tegt & Qhente Maste &biral Avs t well be dies toon for be i certainly very abte thas bact - bees A very nice fellon loo. Goodbye in owen little wipe & all my tave to on over now very loving old Witl 3376 216 Sata (1 ORI]
AU. Me un mafther e 19Ph 3376 [5] Ward hes ta. 21 Fec15 Sy svee deating sevy fone. Suct a adlict ot it. s to knon that we tare st through everything so satifactorily in tas with drawal from the Peyusil - & ev from more satifactonily them I had Eerdared to life could be possible. I stall always fee that aspecial Providence was watching us & seeing us through this - nothing else could have ensured. everything going as it did. for the weather was just exactly right thronghont & brkke up 24 Dew later- T.s. the date. I had srigurally decided on, but foud it could be park forward a day, So. I. did so. The sea beaw tofully calmn. the mon not too bright. It is wonderful. Fonc lose a seliy of a litthr I have juut withe to si tan about at all as St thant has is the best way of giving sow a description of it all & of cowrse of is priate. Diest, not for duy sort of fint Lication, ass. ryth thre eve no grlat details. net it mor ontrest the Germrame to Know hom ne got araing as we drc t makes me. Chuchle to think of them alloning us to get off & Govs men & Lost guvs from right uudter then very hoses with out ani to see& exfect some of Sir ueen ale pliting bnto thenthe over ut through pueunable Iill report thery hilled lots of hs.lon can
h ee e sitirfaction. in seemng them bombard the whole of our trenches hard with all their gone 5 hos after we them I daressy some of our. Enees there notle bightened them for we had mines, bombs efc himed to go off at varying hours. after we left &heaving these they to tet & a trep had been o ssolly thought it was a. lard for them. Gou can hardly feel what a real relief of allis & malles up to some excent for my Srief in having talk ewents one feets no lides ha had to leave at all. we tosteven in tme. as tece hean Strenficed. Fe scetsant did on landing it toured have been awful & Aeatad a bit of inst feeting both athome & im Australis Iir frct if we had had heavy losses here. I believe the Goonment wined have been tumed out I hovs just got a very mise wire of congratulation from the King saying how plecsed te un at the success of such dfftcult opeations- B0th mi Corps Commanders Byng & Gont. Godley Beuch & very nice felton drce quite. first clats- Really leaving me very little to don &alt th cregit is one to them & then Staffs et Now. I am waiting form fur ther vdeas as te till ecome of us all iin furture S we Helle o my Army all.
he W hl on shot welt eenthe lhe with whe eve bm save bove ot bc o ft he oigt exfect to let ordert at any time to go there mysell to prefare for the big German - Tukistr attack which ite seeme Atmost certain with be cauched against the Canal. Istall have a lot to do if S. to there as it hill be arbic surse we aho have seturte & Helles Onsiness- Sut of to think of I tave won goto my line, Suggustion wen sending out some Anzac". Hishs Cards I shroved the one son bent me to swenl lible they were all so peased with it sacked of thik couldnit have Ceppies that I thought I might as well of somise at with mo let some out to dis trobite ith in ary way be possable to fere Rer to cell on wem tee to very thech too late ford mas . Sto hegst where S was , hits in mhaw has neer constantly buyting me. Stlld have hever had tive to thonk of t siting tight with it tolet an Dector get at it. hwire tothave on gew quiet days te II have just fot Postor to open it rot be hs. Ancovered on ton to casing of Seballet sturck tight sped bote 5 thre. Iiw flech to sey to has Got Rist a tant have any more trouble now on Cibe. a mre latter Rhave, wit
oecfeeeee eeeeeeerece ce Sir Charles Monro- it was wice of him to have eet them mithen - and as goi may care to see & I send the telegram from the king & one from Geeral Brulaid who commands the French troops unter me at Fid-et. Batr. Govdbre my our little- laint & all my love to 1t over hum very loving o Witt
olos sent to Sir Saw Hamilton Hurs to me Ts. 4al Aeadquer tere, Peir Dardench1es Aruy, H.B. P. 20th December, 1918 his 1 Fote to 90n Last 16ck 14 & patorad State of cousidereble onrlety about our evacuation, but 1 think 1 sald that 1 golt galrly couf ident of bolng eble to carry 1t off succosstully provlded the weather old not play ue Ealse, end the Navy could prodace the necossary ovall oreft. 1 pever, novever, dared to hope that me could possibly neet m1th the Success ue old, and nons of us can ever be sufel clently gratsful to Providence Eer seelng as throuch as was dons. The weather was absoIntely perfect. 10 pertectly qulet, oalm Mate, 17th no nd, and 1 an thantsul to eay 2 cartala enount of aloud to oin the Strong noon. MIs seved the Navy Eron all ennlety as rogards thelr boats bo lng knocked about, hence we were oble to work w1th conplets confldence of success. To Hrst Might of My PInal Stage uas of course Nar tebuble, Eor thouch 1 got 2id of 10,000 ven 1n each Corps that night, 1t 1oft me ofth 10,000 in each to hold the Fespoctive aread for the rensludug tenty Eowr hours. Mhat 1 Nost Teared was a Wg storn cowlng on then 1 was short of strength, 90 9on con Imglus non thentful 1 von geol. I carr iad out exachtg the preg ramde I had almags Intended, opendiag tho Iast day but oue 1n aaking all Final arrengeuents at Suvla - orulslug up and dom the cast tuat wight 1n a Oostroyer - Spendiag uy very Iast day on the penlnsula at oy bolovod "Anzac( and golng round for the Iast tiae the trenches Made by the Molsion wich Siret Lended 11th us - then the Snad wight on board the Chathew 91th Nevnas. 1y Iast dey thore Mas, as 1 on Sure 3on Mll be 11eve
AUS -22] bellove, really a trylng one, as 1 very tuch felt leaving the Placo, and 1 could see that a great many ben did the seme, thouch when 1 oxplalned 1t wae only to onable us to put in More usoful work acalust the eneny oleeshere, they here 1 think Out te oatie1ed. Ton can Lunglus non analous ae all were on the very last night. Thinge at Suvla. were qulet practically throuchout the night, but 1 was a 11ttlo disturbed when thore mas a good deal of Plring off and on at "Anzac, at on tine alnost threatening an attack, but 1 was thankful that thore wad very Hetle sholting. Tho Naval arrangements 1 may pontion gore absolutoly porfect, and without any hitch of any sort. Doats all came In at the appointed tines at their proper places. Tho last big lot, holding tho eront trenches all round eron the Mght of Auzac to the Left of Suvla, sere divided Into chree Soctlons, Who eradually olthdren through each other in turn, until very enall parties were left covering the actual plers, and they, to0, got ovickly down on board and left. At tines constant heavy EIrIng Kept brecking out round the unrac eront which naturaldy ade ns ensdous up to the end, as 1t eas Inpoesiblo to tell hon uuch of thie was bolns oponed eron the Turka trenches, or how wuch the Furks had gound out end were PolLovtug on. 7on 1111 probubly Pemmmber that sone poathe &ge 1 startod nat lug geveral really byg turmels under the ouente poxit Ions, 1th the 1d0a of saoplug Gorward end baviug gone eery bhe borups under wore then one of thor esln trenches. I had Ochood a tumel undor and od the ost important of thege, olr. Aussell [a rop, to bo jushed on reptily ourlon the Iast Gortosight and thds go charged 1th ooveral bundred pouiide of atmondl 14 three osparate Mass, ohich 1 ordered to bo oxgloded at Intervel of twe Dlmates. Then the reer party were woll auay, these gere Stse 900
5- Plrod w4th cemplete sucooss, a volcanic cruption being seen eor allos around, and qulte conpoting on a enall scale o1th vesuvius! Tho result was oonderful, In that the whole of the Turks, ovldently anticipating a big atteck, 11ned their trenches, and Eor about on honr contiuned to Fre evay an East as thoy could possibly load, beanmhile our men were oll dow on tholr day to the beach 1n oenfort. Tho rooulb of thaa and meny othor ruses vuich were trlod were 90 satlsfactory, that 1t 15 hard to bolleve that ge Got away the two Army corps o1th only tae men wounded!. 1t really 10 almost Inered ble, Eor the Turks aust have obsorved us for a Week beforohand making preparations, for thouch we naturally triod all we could to concoal these, yet the nights oore ealrly light. and 1t was inpossible to hide everything. 1 must day tho uen were perfectiy ponderful, end no preles can bo too wigh for the may they entered Into 1t as an adventure qulte after thelr om hoarts, and thle not only appllee to my Australians and New 2ealanders, but 1 knon that the troops on my left were Just the same. Thore was an absolute strugede o1th the men Inoisting to bs o1th the Plnal rearguard party, and they gere post Indienant on being told that they oust got on, and that the Poarguard was following, as each man seened to claln that 1t was hIs speolal right to be oth 1t to the very end. 1th a epirit 11t0 th19, 56n A1I Tealige non Casy pattors were. To grapped up all the uenle reet 1n old gackdug end Dlankets, 30 that there was not a sound made as they left the trenchos. In a Pon placos nost ourning devices had been made by Sastoudng a rElo on to the paraget, and Arlng 1t by a vriight arronged w1th a un tull of water end a hols bored in 1t. vuich could be tlwod to arop and pull the trigeer at any elven humber of Mluatos after the trenchos had been vacated. Several other Lodges of tho came cort aere devised, ouch as candiles boomdne eer an)
4. an 1nch or 30. and then reaching a girework which exploded ofth a lond report. The results of then all wore evidently oatieeact ory. for the Lurks nover seened to discover that we were ogf. mhen the alne was Fired, they kept up thelr contimnous eire on Our trenches for a good howr aftor no had actuedly Left the shord, which the last man old at about 4.30 a.M. Iater on 9t411 thoy bogan to boobard our whole (nog decerted) position, and at nlne 0 clock in the porning, they seened to turn every gun they possessed on to the trenches, s0 1t 10 at all events some atisfaction to knog that they have got throuch and vasted a great doal of ennunition. Our alne wust have accounted for a Poally large aumber of then, as 1t spread right inte the viddle of ons of thelr pooltions coverlng two or three trenches. During the prolinlnary stage of about a geek, we had arlbbled off nearly everythiag of value ge possessed, and the last day 1 vent round, 1 could 2nd practically no orduance or onglnder stores left, chfle ne ovacuated nearly the ohole of our anlmals, leaving 1 think fifty only at "Anzac" out of a total of some 6,000 betueen the two Corps. Cuns had of course Deen arabbled off eredually, every battery being reduced, first to a Foction, and then to a ducle gun ofth 1ots of anmunition for 1t. and Plually olngle guns were aribbled off. We had 200 Funs orlelnally, and of those Suvla got off the whole of theis 90, whlle "Lnsae" ovacuated one hundred of their total of ene Mundred and seven, the seven realadug belag cuplotoly blowa to MOced. 1 an boind to confoss that Suvla panaged thelr Ovacuation 1n natorlal Ear better than we oid at "Inzac," thouch as jou o1ll renember, thelr Pacllltlos were vory much groater, For they have wore Mors, and thdr trensper to, Gefld Sbanelgught 1n olOde to the plors in Suvla Day, clle at Iusao" the 11oddece have to g0 a long may out to oea. Al90, 1 mist esafoee that Suvia)
Suvla tock a real E1yIug start) Ton u 11 renomber that we had orders to commence evacuating, when both Corps startod naklng preIInduery arrangevents - then cere on 1dea of the possiblllty of our not going, when 1 had to tell both corps to 9ft tight Por a bt, and 1n gact to pot 1n wore eaoolles For thenselves. 1 have a shrend susplcion that Suvle old not take ch notioe of this, bot wept on getting rld of sture. and as 1t 30 happens this has turned out all right. Byng orpanlised tho destruction of the stores he Left to hind vere Nell Indeed, and 1t was a nonderful sight to see at the Iast Moent, as 18 by a mave of the vaflcians mand, the wole of h1s surplus storos suddenly bursting Into Elane, and foruing Iuge bonfires. 1t Mrac. 1 an sorry to say thls was not done, and the eneny uust have got a cextain apcont of Sood, Mhouch nothIng that roud Iast then Gor wore then a Pen Lage. and of course not of any great value. Vosterday af ternoon, to take the Lurks attention off the Norther 20nd, 1 made Davles organise a Palrly big attack on the Turks" trenches at Helles, where we had a tr ovendous boubardment by the Navy, which 1 think oreated & Most Successful Aversion, for three or Gour poultors and to crulsers wore dom theve, harmerlng 1n as hard as they were north w1th their ble guns, and attracting the whols attentlon of the perinstla to then. The attacke pade ere oulte Quoeessful, and ue took tae or three Nwflsh trenches. 1t may be that we got away just about the right time, for mhen 1 was golng round “Anzac yesterday, the Aurks Suddenly opened on us mth nen, very blg hoaltrers, 1ring Fone ExceL Lently made, oleen ot, stool shol1s of about ten Inchos 1n Aeneter. It 15 oults good ble that thobe were whe Austrian homltrers, which we had heard about, and that they Hore just reel sterlng our positions before sterting a beg Pouberdment. In the course of about on hour, they out 44 60 o8 1

What you mean about her, yet, I think she is really a nice
woman & I like him very much. Cliff told me he had bought
that house for her just before he came out here - lucky to
be able to do it, but I don't  know that it is a thing I'd have
done myself at such a time! Did I tell you I now have
Col McMunn on my staff as Adjt & Quartermaster General and very
well he does too, for he is certainly very able & has tact - he is
a very nice fellow too.

Goodbye my own little wife & all my love to you 

Ever your very loving old,



[*3 DRL. 3376 (15)*]

Dardanelles Army

21 Dec 15


My own darling Jenny Jane.

Such a relief as it is to know that we have
got through everything so satisfactorily in this withdrawal
from the Peninsula - & so far more satisfactorily than I had
ever dared to hope could be possible. I shall always feel
that a special Providence was watching us & seeing us
through this - nothing else could have ensured everything
going as it did, for the weather was just exactly right
throughout & broke up 24 hours later - i.e. the date I had
originally decided on, but found it could be put forward
a day, so I did so. The sea beautifully calm & the moon
not too bright. It is wonderful. I enclose a copy of a
letter I have just written to Sir Ian about it all, as I think
this is the best way of giving you a description of it all
& of course it is private - I mean not for any sort of publication
as though there are no great details, yet it would
interest the Germans to know how we got away as we did.
It makes me chuckle to think of them allowing us to get
all 85,000 men & 200 guns from right under their very
noses without any loss, & I expect some of their officers
are getting into trouble over it, though presumably they
will report they killed lots of us! You can imagine the


satisfaction in seeing them bombard the whole of our
trenches hard with all their guns, 5 hours after we
had left them! I daresay some of our ruses there
frightened them, for we had mines, bombs etc timed to go
off at varying hours after we left & hearing these, they
possibly thought it was a deep plot & a trap had been
laid for them! You can hardly feel what a real relief it
all is, & makes up to some extent for my grief in having
had to leave at all, for at all events one feels no lives have
been sacrificed. Had we lost men in this, as we so
necessarily did on landing, it would have been awful &
created a lot of bad feeling both at home & in Australia.
In fact if we had had heavy losses here, I believe the
Government would have been turned out!
I have just got a very nice wire of congratulations from the
King saying how pleased he is at the success of such
difficult operations. Both my Corps Commanders, Byng &
Gen. Godley (such a very nice fellow) did quite first
class really leaving me very little to do, & all the
credit is due to them & their staffs.
Now I am writing for further ideas as to what is 
become of us all in future. I still have an Army
Corps of my Army at Cape Helles, but the other two


2) are with me here or have gone on to Egypt, & I quite
expect to get orders at any time to go there myself to
prepare for the big German-Turkish attack which it seems
almost certain will be launched against the Canal.
I shall have a lot to do if I go there as it will be a big
business - but of course we also have Salonika & Helles
to think of.

I hope you got my line suggesting you sending out some
"Anzac" Xmas cards. I showed the one you sent me to
several people & they were all so pleased with it & asked if
they couldn't have copies that I thought I might as well
get some to distribute, though of course it will not 
in many ways be possible to give them to all - & they might
be very much too late for Xmas.
My head where I was hit in May has been constantly
troubling me, but I have never had time to think of by
sitting tight with it to let a Doctor get at it -
having however a few quiet days here, I have just got
a Doctor to open it out & he has discovered a long
jagged bit of the casing of a bullet stuck tight
there! I'm glad to say he has got rid of this, so I
shan't have any more trouble now.
I enclose a nice letter I have just got from 



Sir Charles Monro - it was nice of him to have
written - and as you may care to see & keep them
I sent the telegram from the King & one from
General Brulard who commands the French
troops under me at Sid-el Bahr.
Goodbye my own little lamb & all my love  to
Ever your very loving old,


[*also sent to Sir Ian Hamilton. This to me


Evac of Anzac


(To his Wife)



Dardanelles Army, M.E.F.

20th December, 1915.


I wrote to you last week in a natural state of
considerable anxiety about our evacuation, but I think I said
that I felt fairly confident of being able to carry it off
successfully provided the weather did not play me false, and
the Navy could produce the necessary small craft. I never,
however, dared to hope that we could possibly meet with the
success we did, and none of us can ever be sufficiently
grateful to Providence for seeing us through as was done.
The weather was absolutely perfect.  Two perfectly quiet, calm
nights, with no wind, and I am thankful to say a certain amount
of cloud to dim the strong moon.  This saved the Navy from all
anxiety as regards their boats being knocked about, hence we
were able to work with complete confidence of success.

The first night of my final stage was of course
no trouble, for though I got rid of 10,000 men in each Corps
that night, it left me with 10,000 men in each to hold the
respective areas for the remaining twenty four hours.  What I
most feared was a big storm coming on when I was short of
strength, so you can imagine how thankful I now feel.  I
carried out exactly the programme I had always intended,
spending the last day but one in making all final arrangements
at Suvla - cruising up and down the coast that night in a
destroyer - spending my very last day on the peninsula at my
beloved "Anzac," and going round for the last time the trenches
made by the Division which first landed with us - then the
final night on board the "Chatham" with Weymss.

My last day there was, as I am sure you will 




believe, really a trying one, as I very much felt leaving the
place, and I could see that a great many men did the same,
though when I explained it was only to enable us to put in
more useful work against the enemy elsewhere, they were I think
quite satisfied.

You can imagine how anxious we all were on the
very last night.  Things at Suvla were quiet practically
throughout the night, but I was a little disturbed when there
was a good deal of firing off and on at "Anzac," at one time
almost threatening an attack, but I was thankful that there
was very little shelling.  The Naval arrangements I may mention
were absolutely perfect, and without any hitch of any sort.
Boats all came in at the appointed times at their proper places.
The last big lot, holding the front trenches all round from the
right of "Anzac" to the left of Suvla, were divided into three
sections, who gradually withdrew through each other in turn,
until very small parties were left covering the actual piers,
and they, too, got quickly down on board and left.  At times
constant heavy firing made me anxious up to the end, as it was
impossible to tell how much of this was being opened from the
Turks' trenches, or how much the Turks had found out and were
following on.
You will probably remember that some months ago I
started making several really big tunnels under the enemy's
positions, with the idea of sapping forward and having some very
big blow-ups under more than one of their main trenches. I had
caused a tunnel under one of the most important of these, viz.
Russell's Top, to be pushed on rapidly during the last fortnight,
and this we charged with several hundred pounds of ammonal in
three separate mines, which I ordered to be exploded at intervals
of two minutes.  When the rear party were well away, these were



fired with complete success, a volcanic eruption being seen for
miles around, and quite competing on a small scale with Vesuvius!
The result was wonderful, in that the whole of the Turks,
evidently anticipating a big attack, lined their trenches, and
for about an hour continued to fire away as fast as they could
possibly load, meanwhile our men were well down on their way to
the beach in comfort.

The results of this and many other ruses which were
tried were so satisfactory, that it is hard to believe that we
got away the two Army Corps with only two men wounded!  It really
is almost incredible, for the Turks must have observed us for a
week beforehand making preparations, for though we naturally
tried all we could to conceal these, yet the nights were fairly
light, and it was impossible to hide everything.  I must say
the men were perfectly wonderful, and no praise can be too high
for the way they entered into it as an adventure quite after
their own hearts, and this not only applies to my Australians
and New Zealanders, but I know that the troops on my left were
just the same.  There was an absolute struggle with the men
insisting to be with the final rearguard party, and they were
most indignant on being told that they must get on, and that the
rearguard was following, as each man seemed to claim that it was
his special right to be with it to the very end.  With a spirit
like this, you will realise how easy matters were.

We wrapped up all the men's feet in old sacking and
blankets, so that there was not a sound made as they left the
trenches.  In a few places most cunning devices had been made by
fastening a rifle on to the parapet, and firing it by a weight
arranged with a tin full of water and a hole bored in it, which
could be timed to drop and pull the trigger at any given number
of minutes after the trenches had been vacated.  Several other
dodges of the same sort were devised, such as candles burning for



an inch or so, and then reaching a firework which exploded with
a loud report.  The results of them all were evidently satisfactory,
for the Turks never seemed to discover that we were off.
When the mine was fired, they kept up their continuous fire on
our trenches for a good hour after we had actually left the
shore, which the last man did at about 4.30 a.m.  Later on still
they began to bombard our whole (now deserted) position, and at
nine o'clock in the morning, they seemed to turn every gun they
possessed on to the trenches, so it is at all events some
satisfaction to know that they have got through and wasted a
great deal of ammunition.  Our mine must have accounted for a
really large number of them, as it spread right into the middle
of one of their positions covering two or three trenches.

During the preliminary stage of about a week, we
had dribbled off nearly everything of value we possessed, and
the last day I went round, I could find practically no ordnance
or engineer stores left, while we evacuated nearly the whole of
our animals, leaving I think fifty only at "Anzac" out of a
total of some 6,000 between the two Corps.  Guns had of course
been dribbled off gradually, every battery being reduced, first
to a section, and then to a single gun with lots of ammunition
for it, and finally single guns were dribbled off.  We had 200
guns originally, and of these Suvla got off the whole of their
90, while "Anzac" evacuated one hundred of their total of one
hundred and seven, the seven remaining being completely blown to

I am bound to confess that Suvla managed their
evacuation in material far better than we at "Anzac," though
as you will remember, their facilities were very much greater,
for they have more piers, and their transports could stand right
in close to the piers in Suvla Bay, while at "Anzac" the lighters
have to go a long way out to sea.  Also, I must confess that



Suvla took a real flying start!  You will remember that we had
orders to commence evacuating, when both Corps started making
preliminary arrangements - then came an idea of the
possibility of our not going, when I had to tell both Corps
to sit tight for a bit, and in fact to put in more supplies
for themselves.  I have a shrewd suspicion that Suvla did not
take much notice of this, but went on getting rid of stuff,
and as it so happens this has turned out all right.  Byng
organised the destruction of the stores he left behind very
well indeed, and it was a wonderful sight to see at the last
moment, as if by a wave of the magician's wand, the whole of
his surplus stores suddenly bursting into flame, and forming
huge bonfires.  At "Anzac," I am sorry to say this was not
done, and the enemy must have got a certain amount of food,
though nothing that would last them for more than a few days,
and of course not of any great value.

Yesterday afternoon, to take the Turks' attention
off the Northern zone, I made Davies organise a fairly big
attack on the Turks' trenches at Helles, where we had a
tremendous bombardment by the Navy, which I think created a
most sucessful diversion, for three or four monitors and two
cruisers were down there, hammering in as hard as they were
worth with their big guns, and attracting the whole attention
of the peninsula to them.  The attacks made were quite
successful, and we took two or three Turkish trenches.

It may be that we got away just about the right
time, for when I was going round "Anzac" yesterday, the Turks
suddenly opened on us with new, very big howitzers, firing
some excellently made, clean cut, steel shells of about ten
inches in diameter.  It is quite possible that these were the
Austrian howitzers, which we had heard about, and that they
were just registering our positions before starting a big
bombardment.  In the course of about an hour, they put in 50

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