Entrance to Gully Ravine & Gully Beach May 2000
One of the places that I wanted to see on our trip to Gallipoli was the well at Gully Ravine. Not of any great historical or strategic importance, perhaps, but special to me as I had the privilege of interviewing Gallipoli veteran, Joseph Murray, in the last few years of his life. Joe was a remarkable man, and published two superb memoirs. His Gallipoli As I Saw It (William Kimber 1965) being a classic account of the campaign. Joe served with Hood battalion, Royal Naval Division.
We reached Gully Ravine by taking on the road from Lancashire Landing cemetery, past X Beach, and stopping close to the bend before Pink Farm. From here there is a rough tack that takes you down onto the beach. Note that you cannot drive down.
There were no landings at Gully Beach on 25th April 1915, but there was a landing a little further along the coast at Y Beach. This position was eventually abandoned, but units from 29th Division reached Gully Beach as early as 28th April. Further progress was held up by Turkish troops on the bluff above Y Beach, but in may the 1/6th Gurkha Rifles cleared the area and it was renamed Gurkha Bluff. Fighting returned on 28th June with the Battle of Gully Ravine, when 2/10th Gurkha Rifles and 2nd Royal Fusiliers captured a further spur of ground which became known as Fusilier Bluff. After this the lines stabilised, although there were several minor actions in the months that followed. Gully Ravine also saw the last major fighting before the evacuation; on January 7th 1916, the Turkish 12th Division attacked the positions of 7th North Staffordshires. The attack was beaten back following a heavy bombardment from ships just off shore. Soldiers Died in the Great War records that one officer and twenty-five other ranks were killed that day - the last soldiers to die in action before the British left. The officer who died was the battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel F.H.Walker; he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.
Joseph Murray came here in July 1915, while attached to the divisional engineers. He describes the construction of the well in his book;
I and an Engineer moved back about thirty yards or so where we began sinking a well. I was put in charge... it was a soft job, we thought, and our well began to take shape. The soil was easily dug for the first four or five feet and we had room to get rid of it away from the top.
After four days work on the well and not finding a single drop of water even at fifteen feet, we were given a new job.
Today the well is visible by walking into the start of Gully Ravine; it was concreted round the top later on, because water was eventually found - and is still to be found today! The remains of a Royal Engineers inscription can just be seen on the concrete.
Joe Murray's well at Gully Ravine May 2000. John Dray is about to draw some water; not fit to drink, though!
The remains of dugouts, sangars and trenches can be seen among the scrub in the ravine, and it is possible to walk the length of it to the remains of the barricade where the front line was. However, this is a major undertaking and should not be attempted alone. You should also take plenty of water, and the whole thing could easily take four or five hours.
ŠPAUL REED 200