James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Evacuation, DSO & promotion

Sulva Bay: evacuation preparations At the end of a campaign in which advances were made but could not be sustained and where none of its overall objectives were achieved, those involved could take pride in the safe evacuation of the Allied troops and the ingenuity employed to effect this. The simultaneous evacuation of the Anzac and Suvla sectors, 10-19 December 1916, was generally considered to be a masterpiece of military planning. It made the Turks believe that during the day reinforcements and stores were being unloaded but when darkness fell thousands of men, mules and guns were taken off the beaches.

A delayed-action rifle was developed to give the Turks the impression that the trenches were still manned; water dripped along a piece of rope from an upper container into a lower one and eventually the increase in weight was sufficient to pull the trigger. Thus, hours after the evacuation had been completed, shots were still being fired. In addition, stuffed dummies dressed as troops gave the Turks the impression that the trenches were still fully manned. The rearguard had safely left Helles before the Turks became aware that the Allied positions had been vacated.

The Gallipoli campaign involved nearly half a million Allied troops. Of these, the British had 205,000 casualties (43,000 killed), the French had 47,000 casualties (5,000 killed) and the ANZAC casualties exceeded 33,600 (over one-third killed). Turkish casualties are estimated at 250,000 (65,000 killed).

40th Brigade was evacuated to Egypt where Gethin was awarded the DSO for his part in the Gallipoli Campaign and on 12 January 1916 he was appointed General Staff Officer Grade 2 of 13th Division. He was soon to find himself up against the Turks again but in a very different theatre of war to that of the crags and gullies of Gallipoli. In February of 1916 the 13th Division was posted to Mesopotamia where the terrain was much flatter; for the most part it was arid desert though the plains through which the great Rivers Tigris and Euphrates flow were and still are often flooded in the spring.