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Cape Helles

Gallipoli 1915



   ©  2015 - 2016

The Landings at Helles, Anzac and Kum Kale in the Dardanelles were ordered when the planned naval push through the straits to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) in February and March 1915, which was intended to relieve the blockade against the Russian allies and open a second front, was thwarted by shore-based fire and mines. It was deemed necessary to land men to repulse the Turkish defences, and this initial step led to an eight month campaign from late April 1915 to early January 1916, when the Allied troops were evacuated. Official figures suggest that almost one million Allied and Turkish soldiers were mobilised during the campaign, and that both sides suffered casualties (killed, wounded or missing) of some 250,000 each.

Gully Ravine, known to the defending Turkish forces as Zighin Dere,  runs down in a south westward direction to the sea from the foothills of Achi Baba, an area of high ground which, very optimistically, was the objective of the allied forces for 26th April 1915, the day after the landings at the beaches on the western end of the peninsula. Achi Baba was never taken by the allies. There are a number of water courses that run westward towards the sea in this way, but most are just a few metres deep. Thousands of years of erosion have made Gully Ravine up to 30 metres deep in places.

Allied attacks on the spurs to the west and east of the ravine and the resulting trench systems made the gully an essential access route for the front lines, and also itself the scene of direct and bitter fighting. The final allied front line prior to evacuation was approximately 2/3 of the way up the ravine.

Another feature that made Gully Ravine such a focus of activity is that it is far more than simply a sunken stream bed. Smaller gullies and openings run off it on either side, and these were quickly pressed into use as dressing stations, supply dumps, dormitories, practice firing ranges and stables etc.

From the first occasion that I heard of Gully Ravine, I have been drawn to its history and place in the Gallipoli campaign. The gully is a microcosm of all that trench warfare was - both in terms of the fighting and death, the stalemate of attack and retreat, and also the building - in truly awful circumstances, of a 'home from home'.

It is also a relatively unknown part of the Gallipoli campaign. Thousands visit the Anzac area and many hundreds the main British landing beaches, but the deeper parts of Gully Ravine lie untouched and unfrequented, except by a few with specialist - or personal - interest.

I first visited the Gallipoli peninsula in 2002, but only realised my ambition of walking through Gully Ravine and exploring the associated spurs in late 2007. This modest site attempts to record my ongoing experiences of this remarkable and hauntingly tragic location.  It is a truly strange place to visit.

I have two, albeit distant relatives listed on the Helles memorial, and based on their regiments and the dates they fell, it appears that they were involved in the fighting in and around the ravine. One fell on 28th June 1915 at the height of the Battle of Gully Ravine in the area of the Boomerang, and the other in August, having just left the firing line on Gully Spur. Research continues.

If you have visited the ravine and would like to contribute to this site, then do please email me.

Andy Crooks.


International Guild of Battlefield Guides, badge number 67.

Usage notes:

To Australian, NZ and Turkish visitors: This site is specialised (but I trust, not myopic) and does not claim to cover the full extent or sacrifice of the Gallipoli campaign. A few miles up the coast, The ANZACs not only fought their own battles, but also forged a legend and earned the pride of their nations. We must also acknowledge that French forces, Gurkhas, Indian and a number of other nationalities fought at Gallipoli. It is important to  note too that there were many other nationalities, including Australian and New Zealand, involved in the battles in and around Gully Ravine. I acknowledge of course that I am emphasising the British and allied angle here. The Turkish defended their homeland with courage and commitment, and the losses to all involved are duly acknowledged and respected.

Those who have researched beyond the superficial level will know that 'Gallipoli' is the English rendering of 'Gelibolu'. Gelibolu is a Turkish town some 50 km east of Cape Helles and somehow, the campaign on the peninsula came to be known in this way. The campaign is also sometimes also referred to as 'The Dardanelles' after the waters off the southern coast of the peninsula. This is probably quite appropriate, because apart from the land battles described here, there was an earlier attempt to force the Dardanelles straits by allied ships, repulsed by the Turkish. 'Gallipoli' is so well established in western historical usage however, that I shall continue to use it here.

Purists might also prefer to see the forces opposing the allies referred to as 'Ottoman', and they would be technically correct, since the Ottoman Empire did not officially cease to exist until its partitioning after the end of the First World War. Ataturk founded the modern Turkish Republic in 1923. Again, because of their long established use, I will often use the words 'Turkish' and 'Turks' when referring to the defending troops.

Disclaimer. The information provided on this website is researched and supplied in good faith and to the best of my knowledge is accurate. However, I do not claim that the content is definitive, and nothing in the site should be construed as a specific recommendation. Battlefield walking can be hazardous and no responsibility can be taken for travel and visit decisions made on the basis of viewing this site. Opinions are solely my own. This site has no commercial intention and is for educational and informational use. Images used are either my own personal property, donated by acquaintances (and duly acknowledged) or are in the public domain.


Gully Beach, Cape Helles, 2008.

Mouse-over for a 1915 view. Image in public domain, Wiki Commons.

Welcome to Gully Ravine

Gully Ravine via Google Earth.

This is a fully interactive map.

Gully Ravine is a 4 km long ancient water course on the north side the Gallipoli Peninsula in Western Turkey. It lies in the Helles sector of Gallipoli, where the British were the predominant allied force present in 1915.

In the early stages of WWI, it was the scene of fierce trench warfare and of huge losses on the part of both the allied and the Ottoman - Turkish forces.

This site is quite specifically about Gully Ravine and its environs. There are many excellent sources for the more general background on the Gallipoli campaign. See the Gallipoli Association site as an useful starting point.

Update, July 2015

A recent addition is a page offering some background on the nature of warfare at Gully Ravine.  The detailed tour of the gully has also been extended with a few new pages.

I shall be back at Cape Helles and Gully Ravine in September this year. My visit then will make use of a GoPro3 video camera so I hope to record some extended and high quality material in the gully and at other nearby locations, focusing on ‘hidden Helles’. This will constitute an entirely new section on this site, reflecting my interest in non-invasive battlefield archaeology .

Although it will take some time, I am beginning to add lat/long coordinates where I refer to specific locations. After September 2015 I hope to be able to supply a comprehensive downloadable collection of GPS waypoints for locations at Gully Ravine and Cape Helles.

‘Even on a smiling spring day, the place seems haunted and, in a way that is hard to explain, corrupted.

 If one believed in the devil, it would also be possible to believe that he lived in Gully Ravine.’

L.A Carlyon. ‘Gallipoli’. Bantam Books, 2001.