Primary Documents - H Collinson Owen on the Surrender of the Gallipoli Peninsula, 10 November 1918
Following the British success in capturing Jerusalem in December 1917 further progress north was effectively stalled in the face of strengthened German forces until September 1918. In part this was because troops had been hastily transferred to the Western Front in March 1918 to assist in the Allies' defence against the German Spring offensive.
Thus on 18 September Sir Edmund Allenby - British regional Commander-in-Chief launched the Battle of Megiddo at Rafat. This set in trail an unbroken series of victories including those at Damascus and Beirut (the latter seized by a French fleet). It was in light of these overwhelming victories that Turkey sued for an armistice of surrender, which was duly agreed on 30 October 1918 in Mudros. British forces subsequently took possession of Constantinople on 10 November 1918.
Reproduced below is a British eyewitness account of the surrender of the Gallipoli peninsula on 9 November, written by war correspondent H. Collinson Owen on the following day.
Click here to read an account of the surrender of Constantinople by the official British observer G. Ward Price. Click here to read an account of Turkey's fall by Germany's official observer, Gaston Bodart. Click here to read a summary of Allenby's progress by W. T. Massey. Click here to read Allenby's official report on fighting at Megiddo. Click here to read the proclamation of the newly appointed Sultan Mehmed VI in which he regretted Turkish crimes against the Armenians and promised a full investigation.
H. Collinson Owen on the Surrender of the Gallipoli Peninsular, 10 November 1918
Lemnos, November 10, 1918
The final act to one of the greatest dramas of the war was enacted yesterday when, in accordance with the terms of the armistice with Turkey, British troops landed unopposed to occupy the Gallipoli Peninsula.
We left Mudros in a destroyer at 4 in the morning to see the landing, and arrived off Cape Relies about 9. The first outward sign that we were in such historic waters was the sight of a mast sticking up off the rocky coast of Imbros. This marked the spot where the big monitor Raglan and the smaller one, M-28, went down when standing up hopelessly against the Goeben and the Breslau at the time of their ill-starred sortie last year.
Later in the day, up toward the Narrows, we saw the remains of submarine E-15, which ran ashore when trying to ascend the strait and was torpedoed from a launch by our own men under heavy fire, and a little further up, the rusty bottom of the Turkish battleship Messudiyeh, looking like an immense turtle, marked one of our submarine successes.
We passed over deep waters that concealed the remains of sunken British and French battleships, the Ocean, Irresistible, Majestic, Goliath, Triumph, and Bouvet. We anchored just off V beach, where the River Clyde was run ashore.
The Turkish troops occupying the peninsula had been removed some days before, and for the time being not a single Turk was to be seen. V Beach along to Cape Helles and so to W Beach is as unlovely and barren a strip of coastline as can be imagined.
Above us to our right were the remains of the old fort of Sedd el Bahr, which the fleet knocked to pieces in the first bombardment. We walked up steep ground, passed over old trenches, both our own and the enemy's, and saw new ones constructed in case of the further attack which for months past the Turks had been expecting.
Everywhere, too, were elaborate telephone connections. Here, on the ground which we had won and given up again, the Turks were expecting to fight us once more. The two heavy guns which we captured and blew up were still lying there, not far from a modern heavy battery with deep ammunition dugouts cut in rocky soil and a plentiful supply of six-inch shells neatly arranged in galleries.
We embarked again near the River Clyde in a patrol launch, and proceeded up the strait. Intelligence officers on board, maps in hand, were marking down various points of information and verifying the positions of batteries.
Altogether, on both sides of the strait, there are about fifty batteries containing guns ranging from 6-inch to 14-inch, a considerable portion of which are modern. We passed within five yards of an ugly Turkish mine floating on the surface.
We went ashore at Chanak and walked to Hamidich battery, a mile and a half away, which is the strongest on the strait. At Chanak were Turks in plenty, both soldiers and otherwise, and everybody appeared quite well fed. The population appeared pleased to see a group of British officers walking about, glad that the war for them was over.
Hamidieh fort was quite deserted. It has played a big part in the operations against the Dardanelles. It has three 14-inch guns, dating back to the eighties, and six 9.2-inch guns. Looking from one of the emplacements one could see right down to the mouth of the strait and beyond.
A small party of Turkish soldiers will be temporarily left to put the guns clean and in order, and we shall hold the forts until such time as the Allies shall have decided what is exactly to happen to the Dardanelles in the future.
By the time we returned to Cape Helles a big transport and an old type cruiser, both loaded with British troops, were lying there. The unwieldy craft nosed slowly ashore and put her nose to the pier just alongside the bow of the River Clyde.
Our men - troops who have seen much hard service in Macedonia - stepped ashore with their kits, and that was all the incident there was to the second landing in Gallipoli.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
A "lazy liz" was a heavy artillery shell fired by the Allied battleship Queen Elizabeth.
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