Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source5
Extract from a report by General Sir William Birdwood at ANZAC Cove, May 1915
(Catalogue ref: PRO 30/57/61)
  • At the time this report was written, 4 May 1915, Gallipoli was a major battlefield. Ever since the Allied landing on 25 April, the Turks had launched a series of counter-attacks, trying to drive them off the peninsula. The British, French and Allied forces had also launched several attacks.
  • These intense attacks carried on until 10 May. The intensity of the fighting then fell, although it was still heavy. On 20 May, both sides agreed a truce to allow time to bury the dead.
  • William Birdwood commanded Indian and ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) forces at ANZAC Cove. Although he was an Englishman in charge of other nationalities, he was well liked and respected. The troops knew him as 'Birdie'.
  • Birdwood was a highly experienced soldier. He had served in India until he was given command of the ANZACs. He stayed with them when they were transferred to the western front in 1916. He knew his own strengths and weaknesses. He left much of the detailed day-to-day running of the ANZACs to his Australian deputy, Brudenell White.
  • Birdwood was one of the few commanders whose reputation was not wrecked by Gallipoli. In 1918, he was promoted to command of the Fifth Army and played an important role in the British victories in the final months of the war.
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