James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Conditions deteriorate

Gallipoli: transporting casualties The wounded were evacuated to hospital ships waiting just off the landing beaches. The terrain and close fighting often prevented the dead from being buried so rotting corpses lay everywhere. Flies and vermin flourished and, coupled with poor hygiene and sanitation, this led to epidemics of dysentery, diarrhoea, and enteric fever. It was unavoidable in these atrocious living conditions. Some of the affected men were evacuated, some died but many remained in their trenches suffering stomach cramps and extreme diarrhoea. Of the 213 000 British casualties on Gallipoli, 145 000 were due to sickness.

The blisteringly hot summer - drinking water was available only from metal petrol drums with sisal string handles that had to be carried from the lighters on the beaches - was followed by a wet, weary winter and when it rained the sand and clay of the cliffs mixed into a red mud, which got everywhere and made movement almost impossible. Damaging winter storms in October and a great blizzard followed by a cataclysmic thaw in December ensured that conditions remained almost unbearable. There were a further 15,000 allied casualties during that winter and the Turks faired little better. By the end of the year both sides were at breaking point. An atmosphere of gloom and desperation hung all over the Peninsula.

On 14 October 1915, Sir Ian Hamilton, commander of the British forces in Gallipoli, was replaced by General Munro. After touring all three fronts on the Peninsula Munro recommended withdrawal. Two weeks later Lord Kitchener came out from London to assess the situation. Appalled by the horrific conditions he agreed that the 105,000 men should be evacuated. The operation began at Sulva Bay on 7 December and the last of the men left Helles, on the tip of the Peninsula, on 9 January, 1916.