Whilst the Anzac area a few kilometres to the south can be very busy in the high season, It is not unusual for the visitor to find themselves quite alone at Suvla Bay. Divisions of Kitchener’s ‘new’ army landed here on the night of 6th August 1915 in a bid to bypass the stalemate at Anzac and Cape Helles. A rapid push to the virtually undefended hills was needed, but remarkably, General Stopford then ‘rested’ his forces on the beaches and by the time an advance was made 48 hours later, Turkish reinforcements, hastily marched in from Bulair, had secured the high ground. Staff confusion and logistical problems underminded the grand vision for a breakout and by 21st August the last major battle was fought at Scimitar Hill. In the later months of 1915 the weather was appalling and whilst this put an end to the plague of flies, flooded trenches and freezing rain took their toll on men already weakened by disease, injury and poor diet.
Suvla Bay is a beautiful area which belies the conflict that engulfed it in late 1915. The most obvious feature is the Salt Lake (show in white above) which is fed by ‘The Cut’, a narrow inlet from the bay. The Salt Lake was dry in 1915 and troops that crossed it sank up to their knees in dried salt and mud. To the north and east, the hills that the allies were unable to secure rise to scrubby peaks and ridges. The beaches are pristine white sand.
Transport is essential for a visit to Suvla Bay, and for reaching some locations, such as Lala Baba, it is wise to have a 4×4 due to the rough tracks and the need to cross dry or sometimes running water courses.
Chocolate Hill, Green Hill and Scimitar Hill are in close proximity and can be visited together. The landing beaches have variable access along tracks and some walking will be needed.
A major expedition for the fit and adventurous is to walk along the Kireche Tepe Ridge and the Karakol Dagh (Outpost Mountain). This route along the ridge above the plain to the south and the sea to the north was bitterly fought over. If you plan to do this arduous walk it is best to have someone meet you at one end, otherwise there is no option but to walk all the way back again!
The most northerly CWGC cemetery on the peninsula can be found at Azmak. There are 1074 burials here, of which only 390 are identified. The area east of here, on the Anafarta Ova (Anafarta plain) is most famously associated with the 1/5th Norfolks and the ‘lost’ Sandringham company.
It is worth repeating that Suvla is quite different to Anzac and Cape Helles. There are no shops, hotels or lavatories. The main roads are OK, but off-road the ground is rough. Walking is best done in pairs as a minimum. Mobile phones will struggle for a signal. Take a good supply of water and food, and also first aid requisites. Dogs guarding flocks of sheep and goats can be ‘enthusiastic’ – it is best to keep clear, especially if no shepherd can be seen.
145 Bellingham Rd,
Tel: (+44) 7956 188 826