AUSTRALIAN HISTORY - CUT AND RUN
The greatest success
during the Gallipoli Campaign came with the operation to “cut and
run”. Between 10 and 20 December 1915, the Allied survivors had the
wit to slip away with next-to-no casualties.
How long will it be
before the Australians in Iraq are allowed to emulate the ingenuity that
the Anzacs displayed in getting out of somewhere else they should never
The urge to pull back
from Gallipoli had appeared by dusk on the first Anzac Day when the
Australian commander, General Bridges, and his New Zealand counterpart,
wanted to take the ANZACs off the beach, but were overruled.
After four months of
stalemate and worse, the British Commander, Sir Ian Hamilton, called for
a surge of 95,000 troops. Instead, London diverted his reinforcements.
Reports from Australian journalist, Keith Murdoch, encouraged
strategists to consider evacuation. Hamilton bridled. He feared 50%
casualties. Getting out would be more deadly than hanging on.
No sooner had his
replacement, Sir Charles Munro, landed than he advocated withdrawal
before winter set in. Lord Kitchener resisted until an inspection
changed his mind.
Churchill, First Lord
of the Admiralty, was all for hanging in until the job of opening a
supply route to support the Czar had been done. Churchill feared that
the war would give rise to revolution, as it had in 1905. There was no
talk of imposing democracy, only upholding autocracy.
Churchill shifted the
blame for his failure to the general who had the task of cleaning up the
mess. He summarised Munro’s command - “he came, he saw, he
The British occupied
Gallipoli after the war. In 1922, Prime Minister Lloyd George tried to
get Anzacs back there to protect – he pretended - the war graves from
forces under Mustapha Kemal who had blocked the invasion in 1915.
A poet penned “The
Anzacs’ Reply” to that scrap of deception: