Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Allies Complete Gallipoli Evacuation

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The First World War was an unprecedented catastrophe that shaped our modern world. Erik Sass is covering the events of the war exactly 100 years after they happened. This is the 218th installment in the series.  

January 8, 1916: Allies Complete Gallipoli Evacuation

The New Year brought long-awaited relief to tens of thousands of Allied troops finally evacuated from Gallipoli. After the Allied positions at Suvla Bay and ANZAC cove were abandoned in late December, on January 8 to 9, 1916 the evacuation was completed by the withdrawal of the remaining troops from Cape Hellas, on the tip of the peninsula. 

The few weeks between the first and second evacuations were eventful ones, as low-grade trench warfare continued unabated around Cape Hellas, with the usual routine of sniping and shelling claiming a steady stream of victims on both sides. Owen William Steele, a Canadian officer from Newfoundland, wrote matter-of-factly about these losses in his diary entry on December 30, 1915, describing his unit’s shift on labor fatigue under the enemy guns:

We all got out before dinner but unfortunately the Turks shelled us very heavily. We went out in parties of 20 at five minutes interval, but after a while the Turks saw us with the result the shells were soon falling all about us. We then divided our parties of four at 100 yds interval. One shell, though it landed 30 yds away got the whole of one of my parties of four. My orderly, Thos. Cook, was one of them, he was wounded in the left leg & left arm, – our mess cook was another, he got it in the stomach, – another got a leg wound, and another a splinter in the heel. I went to the Hospital this evening to see them and they were all happy and feeling no pain, except poor Geo. Simms, our mess cook, who died about 3 o.’c. 

For those who managed to survive the final weeks on Gallipoli, January 8, 1916 was a time for celebration—provided, of course, they didn’t get killed on the way out. Having been hoodwinked during the first evacuation, the Turks were waiting vigilantly for the second one to begin, hoping to inflict some parting casualties on the withdrawing British and French troops. Then there was the danger of the Allies’ own “scorched earth” policy, involving the destruction of any supplies that couldn’t be moved in order to deny them to the enemy. Steele recalled the final moments, as timed explosives detonated while the boats prepared to pull away from shore:

… before we had even untied from the wharf, the first magazine went off with a very heavy explosion. A great volume of flame shot hundreds of feet into the air, debris of all kinds went everywhere, and as we were only a hundred yards away from it some came our way. It did no damage beyond breaking one man’s arm in three places... By now there were fires everywhere, and it was really a wonderful sight… The sky was also well lit up by the fires at V. & X. beaches… 

Next the evacuated troops had to survive a long journey through rough seas to the nearby Greek islands of Imbros and Mudros, their first destination. This was a considerable challenge for smaller boats trying to cross the stormy Aegean Sea in mid-winter (in fact heavy winds caused the piers at Cape Hellas to collapse twice on January 8, complicating the effort even further). In his diary entry the next day Steele described the rough conditions: 

Unfortunately for our sight-seeing desires, we were all ordered to get below, for it was very windy indeed, and the sea was beginning to wash over the lighter… This lighter, which was all that its name implies was handled very playfully by the sea all the way over and instead of taking 2 hrs, the time of the normal trip, we took 5 hrs. not reaching there until 9 a.m. 

For those who survived these last travails, the Gallipoli campaign was finally over. The scale of the ill-fated venture to capture the Turkish straits had been enormous, as was its cost. Over half a million Allied troops served on the peninsula over the course of the eight-month campaign, including 79,000 French troops, 20,000 Australians, and 14,000 New Zealanders, who faced off against around 350,000 Turks at various times. 

The Allies suffered a total of around 250,000 casualties, including 44,150 killed, 97,397 wounded, and well over a hundred thousand casualties due to diseases including typhus and cholera, which exacted a terrible toll on both sides. The Ottoman Empire also suffered at least a quarter of a million casualties, including 86,692 killed and 164,617 wounded, and thousands of sick.

The disaster at Gallipoli played a key role in the formation of national identities separate from Britain in Australia and New Zealand, which suffered huge losses in proportional terms, considering their small populations; many soldiers and civilians held incompetent British commanders responsible for these losses, adding to their feelings of separation and difference. Today April 25, the day of the initial landings, is observed as “ANZAC Day” in both countries. 

Gallipoli was also a foundational event in the creation of modern Turkey on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. It demonstrated beyond a doubt that a distinct Turkish national identity had emerged within the medieval empire, with an emotional pull strong enough to convince tens of thousands of young men to fight and die in order to protect the Turkish heartland. Gallipoli also provided the stage for the rise of Mustafa Kemal, who won fame for his bravery and tenacity in the desperate battles of 1915, and after further victories would be honored as Atatürk, or “Father of the Turks.” 

From Peninsula to Pyramids

The troops withdrawn from Gallipoli by the Allies were sent to a wide range of destinations. Many were simply transferred to the new Allied expeditionary force occupying the northern Greek city of Salonika—the legacy of a failed attempt to help Serbia during the final conquest of the country by the Central Powers, which they later maintained to apply pressure to Bulgaria. Others headed to the Western Front, while some were deployed to Mesopotamia, where the British were frantically organizing an effort to relieve the army under Charles Townshend besieged at Kut.

However some lucky soldiers got a (relatively) pleasant assignment – garrisoning Egypt and guarding the Suez Canal (above, Australians in Egypt). While they still faced the inescapable threat of disease, and a new Turkish offensive against the canal was brewing, for the time being this meant access to luxuries which had been distinctly lacking in Gallipoli, including fresh food, abundant water for bathing, sightseeing expeditions to the pyramids, and leave in exotic Alexandria and Cairo, with the associated possibilities of female companionship (below, Maori troops from New Zealand in Egypt).

Egypt’s beauty certainly made a big impression on the Allied troops after the squalor of Gallipoli. One British soldier, William Ewing, recalled sunrise and sunset in the desert west of the Suez Canal:

One could never tire of the arresting beauty of dawn and evening, as the sun rises over and sets behind the desert hills, with never a cloud in all the sky. Peculiarly delicate are the tints of violet, pink, pinkish purple, saffron, and pearl, over which the eye passes to the deep azure above. Suddenly they vanish as the sun leaps into the sky, glorious in his splendor, flooding the world with golden light.

Ewing also left a striking description of their tent encampment not far from the canal, which had a beauty all its own, at least at night:

The canvas city spread around to north, south, east, and west, with wide open spaces that served as parade grounds… When the sun sets, darkness descends swiftly upon us. On moonless nights, a change, as if wrought by enchantment, passes over the camp. The light within transforms each tent into a luminous pyramid, clean cut against the superincumbent gloom. Gathered in groups and squares and thrown out in lines, one could imagine them as gigantic Chinese lamps picking out the borders and pathways in a maze of fairy gardens.

Ewing also left his impressions of the canal itself, including the strange scene of ships passing through the desert (above, Australian troops bathing in the canal):

The world’s great waterway through the desert – a pathway of silver across the brown flats – is always an impressive sight, especially at night. Gigantic ocean liners with flaming search-lights show up picturesquely through the shadows; yet do they seem strangely out of place amid the barren waste, like monsters of the deep strayed from their element.

See the previous installment or all entries.

8 Allegedly Cursed Places

Some of the most picturesque spots in the world hide legends of a curse. Castles, islands, rivers, and more have supposedly suffered spooky misfortunes as the result of a muttered hex cast after a perceived slight—whether it's by a maligned monk or a mischievous pirate. Below are eight such (allegedly) unfortunate locations.


An 800-year-old ruined wall stands on the grounds of a large steelworks in Port Talbot, Wales. The wall is surrounded by a fence and held up by a number of brick buttresses—all because of an ancient curse. The story goes that when King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in the 16th century, one of the local Cistercian monks evicted from Margam Abbey told the new owners of the site, in a bid to protect it, that if the wall fell, the entire town would fall with it (it's unclear why he would focus on that particular part of the structure). Since then, the townsfolk have tried hard to protect the wall, even as an enormous steelworks was built around it. Rumors abound that the hex-giving monk still haunts the site in a red habit, keeping an eye on his precious wall.


Alloa tower in Scotland
HARTLEPOOLMARINA2014, Wikimedia // CC BY-SA 4.0

Alloa Tower in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, has reportedly been subject to a curse for hundreds of years. In the 16th century, the Earl of Mar is said to have destroyed the local Cambuskenneth Abbey and taken the stones to build his new palace. The Abbot of Cambuskenneth was so furious he supposedly cast a multi-part curse on the Erskine family—ominously known as “The Doom of Mar." It is said that at least part of the curse has come true over the years, including that three of the children of the Mar family would “never see the light” (three of the earl’s ancestors’ offspring were reportedly born blind). The curse also supposedly predicted that the house would burn down, which occurred in 1800. Another part of the curse: The house would lay in ruins until an ash sapling grew from its roof. Sure enough, around 1820 a sapling was seen sprouting from the roof, and since then the family curse is said to have been lifted.


In the fall of 2017, archeologists reopened an almost-4500-year-old tomb complex in Giza, Egypt, that contains the remains of hundreds of workers who built the great Pyramid of Giza. The tomb also contains the remains of the supervisor of the workers, who is believed to have added curses to the cemetery to protect it from thieves. One such curse reads: "All people who enter this tomb who will make evil against this tomb and destroy it, may the crocodile be against them in water and snakes against them on land. May the hippopotamus be against them in water, the scorpion against them on land." The complex is now open to the public—who may or may not want to take their chances.


A chateau just north of the French Riviera may sound like a delightful place to be, but amid the ruins of the Chateau de Rocca-Sparviera—the Castle of the Sparrow-Hawk—lies a disturbing legend. The tale centers around a medieval French queen named Jeanne, who supposedly fled to the castle after her husband was killed. She arrived with two young sons and a monk known to enjoy his drink. One Christmas, she went into the village to hear a midnight mass, and when she returned, she found that the monk had killed her sons in a drunken rage. (In another version of the story, she was served a banquet of her own children, which she unknowingly ate.) According to legend, Jeanne then cursed the castle, saying a bird would never sing nearby. To this day, some travelers report that the ruins are surrounded by an eerie silence.


Stopped off at a small uninhabited island that, according to Thai mythology, is cursed by the god Tarutao. If anyone dared to even take one pebble off this island they would be forever cursed! 😈 I heard from a local that every year the National Park office receive many stones back via mail from people who want to lift the curse! I was never much of a stone collector anyway... ☻☹☻☹☻ #thailand #kohlanta #kohlipe #kohhingham #islandhopping #islandlife #beachlife #pebbles #beach #speedboat #travelgram #instatraveling #wanderlust #exploringtheglobe #exploretocreate #traveleverywhere #aroundtheworld #exploringtheglobe #travelawesome #wanderer #earth_escape #natgeotravel #serialtraveler #awesomesauce #picoftheday #photooftheday #potd

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The tiny uninhabited island of Koh Hingham, off the coast of Thailand, is blessed with a covering of precious black stones. The stones are not precious because they contain anything valuable in a monetary sense, but because according to Thai mythology the god Tarutao made them so. Tarutao is said to have invoked a curse upon anyone who takes a stone off the island. As a result, every year the national park office that manages the island receives packages from all over the world, sent by tourists returning the stones and attempting to rid themselves of bad luck.


The "cursed" PH stones of St. Andrews University
Nuwandalice, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The initials PH are paved into the ground outside St. Salvator’s Chapel at St. Andrews University in Scotland. They mark the spot where 24-year-old preacher and faculty member Patrick Hamilton was burned at the stake for heresy in 1528—an early trigger of the Scottish Reformation. The location is therefore supposed to be cursed, and it is said that any student who stands on the initials is doomed to fail their exams. As a result of this superstition, after graduation day many students purposefully go back to stand on the spot now that all danger of failure has passed.


Charles Island, Connecticut
Michael Shaheen, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Charles Island lies off the coast of Milford, Connecticut, and is accessible from the mainland via a sandbar when the tide is low. Today it's home to a peaceful nature reserve for local birds, but its long history supposedly includes three curses. The first is said to have been cast in 1639 by the chief of the Paugussett tribe, after the nation was driven off the land by settlers—the chief supposedly cursed any building erected on the land. The second was supposedly laid in 1699 when the pirate Captain William Kidd stopped by the island to bury his booty and protected it with a curse. Shortly afterward, Kidd was caught and executed for his crimes—taking the location of his treasure to his grave.

The third curse is said to have come all the way from Mexico. In 1525, Mexican emperor Guatimozin was tortured by Spaniards hoping to locate Aztec treasure, but he refused to give up its whereabouts. In 1721, a group of sailors from Connecticut supposedly stumbled across the Aztec loot hidden in a cave in Mexico. After an unfortunate journey home in which disaster after disaster slowly depleted the crew, the sole surviving sailor reportedly landed on Charles Island, where he buried the cursed treasure in the hope of negating its hex.


A house in Bodie, California
Jim Bahn, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Bodie, in California's Sierra Nevadas, sprang up as a result of the gold rush. The town boomed in the late 19th century, with a population nearing 10,000 people. But as the gold seams ran dry, Bodie began a slow and steady decline, hastened by a series of devastating fires. By the 1950s, the place had become a ghost town, and in 1962 it was designated a State Historic Park, with the the buildings kept in a state of “arrested decay." Bodie's sad history has encouraged rumors of a curse, and many visitors to the site who have picked up an abandoned souvenir have reportedly been dogged with bad luck. So much so, the Bodie museum displays numerous letters from tourists who have sent back pilfered booty in the hope of breaking their run of ill fortune.

But the curse didn't start with prospectors or spooked visitors. The rumor apparently originated from rangers at the park, who hoped that the story would prevent visitors from continuing to steal items. In one sense the story worked, since many people are now too scared to pocket artifacts from the site; in another, the rangers have just succeeded in increasing their workload, as they now receive letter after letter expressing regret for taking an item and reporting on the bad luck it caused—further reinforcing the idea of the Bodie curse.

Chris Jackson, Getty Images
21 Other Royal Babies Born In The Last 20 Years
Chris Jackson, Getty Images
Chris Jackson, Getty Images

by Kenny Hemphill

At 11:01 a.m. on April 23, 2018, the Royal Family got a new member when it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have welcomed their third child, a (yet-to-be-named) boy, who will become fifth in line to the throne. While William and Kate's three children may be the youngsters closest to the throne, they're not the only pint-sized descendants of Queen Elizabeth II to be born in the past 20 years. Here are 21 more of them.


Arthur Robert Nathaniel Chatto, who turned 19 years old February 5, is the younger son of Lady Sarah and Daniel Chatto. He is 23rd in the line of succession—and has been raising some royal eyebrows with his penchant for Instagram selfies.


The grandson of Lord Snowden and Princess Margaret, and son of the 2nd Earl and Countess of Snowdon, Charles—who was born on July 1, 1999—is the heir apparent to the Earldom of Snowdon.


Britain's Queen Elizabeth II (R) speaks to Serena Armstrong-Jones, Countess of Snowdon (L), David Armstrong-Jones (2L), 2nd Earl of Snowdon, and Lady Margarita Armstrong-Jones (2R).

Born on May 14, 2002, Lady Margarita is sister to Charles Armstrong-Jones, and great-niece to the Queen. She's 20th in line to the throne.


Lady Louise Windsor is the eldest child and only daughter of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex. She was born on November 8, 2003 and is 11th in line for the throne.


The third child of Lady Helen and Timothy Taylor, Eloise Olivia Katherine Taylor was born on March 2, 2003 and is 43rd in line for the throne.


Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge chats to Estella Taylor on the balcony during Trooping the Colour - Queen Elizabeth II's Birthday Parade, at The Royal Horseguards on June 14, 2014 in London, England
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Eloise's younger sister, Estella Olga Elizabeth Taylor, was born on December 21, 2004. She is the youngest of the four Taylor children and is 44th in succession.


The younger child of Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and Sophie, Countess of Wessex, James Alexander Philip Theo Mountbatten-Windsor—or Viscount Severn—was born on December 17, 2007 and is 10th in line for the throne.


Albert Louis Philip Edward Windsor, born September 22, 2007, is notable for being the first royal baby to be baptized a Catholic since 1688. He is the son of Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor, and grandson of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. According to the Act of Settlement, which was passed in 1701, being baptized Catholic would automatically exclude a potential royal from the line of succession. But there was some controversy surrounding this when, up until 2015, the Royal Family website included Albert.


Lord Culloden, Xan Richard Anders Windsor, is son to the Earl of Ulster and Claire Booth, and grandson of the Duke of Gloucester. He was born on March 2, 2007 and is 26th in succession.


Like his older brother Albert, Leopold Windsor—who was born on September 8, 2009—is not in line to the throne, by virtue of being baptized a Roman Catholic (though he, too, was listed on the Royal Family's website for a time).


Autumn Phillips, Isla Phillips, Peter Philips and Savannah Phillips attend Christmas Day Church service at Church of St Mary Magdalene on December 25, 2017 in King's Lynn, England
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Savannah Anne Kathleen Phillips, the Queen's first great-grandchild, was born on December 29, 2010 to Peter Phillips, son of Princess Anne and Mark Phillips, and Autumn Kelly. She is 14th in line for the throne.


Senna Kowhai Lewis, who was born on June 2, 2010, is the daughter of Gary and Lady Davina Lewis, elder daughter of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester. She was a beneficiary of the Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which abolished the practice of giving sons precedence over daughters in the line of succession, regardless of when they are born. As a result, she is 29th in succession.


Daughter of Lady Rose and George Gilman, and granddaughter of Prince Richard, 2nd Duke of Gloucester, Lyla Beatrix Christabel Gilman was born on May 30, 2010. She is 32nd in succession.


Lady Cosima Rose Alexandra Windsor was born on May 20, 2010. She is sister to Lord Culloden, daughter of the Earl of Ulster and Claire Booth, and granddaughter to the Duke of Gloucester. She's 27th in line for the throne.


Lyla Gilman's brother, Rufus, born in October 2012, is 33rd in line for the throne.


Tāne Mahuta Lewis, Senna's brother, was named after a giant kauri tree in the Waipoua Forest of the Northland region of New Zealand. He was born on May 25, 2012 and is 30th in line for the throne, following the Succession to the Crown Act 2013.


Princess Anne, Princess Royal, Isla Phillips and Peter Phillips attend a Christmas Day church service
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Peter and Autumn Phillips's second and youngest daughter, Isla Elizabeth Phillips, was born on March 29, 2012 and is 15th in succession.


Maud Elizabeth Daphne Marina Windsor, the daughter of Lord Frederick and Lady Sophie of Windsor and granddaughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, was born on August 15, 2013 and is 47th in line for the throne.


Louis Arthur Nicholas Felix Windsor, who was born on May 27, 2014, is the youngest child of Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor, and brother of Leopold and Albert. As he was baptized into the Roman Catholic church, he's not in line to the throne.


Mike Tindall, Zara Tindall and their daughter Mia Tindall pose for a photograph during day three of The Big Feastival at Alex James' Farm on August 28, 2016 in Kingham, Oxfordshire.
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

Daughter of Zara Phillips and her husband, former England rugby player Mike Tindall, Mia Grace Tindall was born on January 17, 2014 and is 17th in the line of succession.


Isabella Alexandra May, the second and youngest daughter of Lord Frederick and Lady Sophie of Windsor, was the last addition to the royal family. In July 2016, she was christened at Kensington Palace wearing the same gown worn by both Prince George and Princess Charlotte (it's a replica of the one that Queen Victoria's children wore). Looking on was celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, who is one of Isabella's godparents.


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