“What with shells over your tent & submarines at sea there’s scarcely a safe place to sit in!”

One of Ralph Glyn’s fellow officers in the Dardanelles sent him a letter so frank in its criticism of policy that he asked Ralph to burn it after reading. Luckily he didn’t.

Marked ‘Burn’ at the top.

You ought to come out here from the [illegible] & have a talk – but on condition you went back.

Lancashire Landing, May 26 [1915]
My dear Glyn

We are having a heavyish shelling from Camp and the sea beyond – the Turks trying to hit the transports, but very little attention is now paid to it, so very little damage having luckily been done. All the same it is decidedly disconcerting! It’s such an absurd position to be in really – the whole of our force from the front trenches back here – a distance of about 1 hour’s walk! – under fire of the enemy’s guns. In France [it would be] an absolutely untenable position.
I was awfully glad to get your letter and I do not mean in mine to write you much detail as to our doings here… I want rather to bring one or two points to your notice that are of greater importance.
You know as much as I do about the inside of the game. You know that the Balkan situation is today not one whit more clarified than it was when you & I last met.

I lay the whole blame on the FO. I think much as there has been in the conduct of this campaign to criticise (not its execution – the troops have done wonders!) – its larger conduct – nothing is more worthy of criticism than the failure of diplomacy to co-operate and so to appreciate the situation as to bring about a state of affairs that would conduce to the facilitating of out Task – not the making it more difficult. Diplomacy has been willing to sacrifice a perfectly attainable success for the sake of “safeguarding interests (unknown) or avoiding complications (unknown) at some unknown time in the future” – the great truth that the primary object of all should be to defeat Germany – (& here Germany through Turkey) – has, it seems to me, been absolutely lost sight of. We were set a task that could only be achieved if diplomacy played its part well & helped us. I need not go into the Greek negotiations. They’re known to you. Their net result is nil.

But still Greece will probably come in in the end. Therefore in the end you will have to pay your price. Why therefore, if the price has to be paid, not have secured Greek cooperation when it was at its highest value, today.

We are today taking on the whole (practically) of the available Turkish army – on a narrow strip of land. No divisions elsewhere – in spite of the fact that Turkey is ethnologically & politically composed of a greater number of elements that make for disintegration & disaffection than any other country in the world that you could possibly engage in war – in spite of this – “for political reasons” – we have not been allowed to make any capital out of this state of affairs, we have fought Turkey under conditions wholly favourable to her.

If we did not mean to defeat Turkey by every possible means why have engaged on these operations?

I suppose today is open to you or anyone else? Has so been for long. Opposite you you have a wall of bayonets & lines of entrenchments. End is open to you.

30 %, 40 % of the mainland population is willing – has applied to be allowed to cooperate – to harass the enemy in various ways.
Greece is anxious to come in – might have been got in. May we do any of these things no [now?]?

Very well, may we have reinforcements of our own? No (rightly so).
Russia – the Dardanelles & [illegible] are for Russia. Does Russia lift a hand to get them? No – Don’t tell me I don’t know all the diplomatic difficulties. I know them all & that too from many different sources.

I only repeat the question, what are we out in this war for to seek? My answer is, “the destruction of Germany” – and that seems the last thing that any of them think about.

At present we can’t move here.

I feel rather gloomy about the whole thing.

Things seem quite at an impasse at home – & I never seemed to see the war look less like ending than it does now.

Can’t you send us 3 Italian Divisions here – at least let us try & strike decisively somewhere.

Bring a bag out here old boy, & let’s have a talk, writing is so hopeless.

I personally have had and am having a very interesting time. I was on the GE during the first weeks’ operations, & have flown my flag on various of HM’s ships – one of the last the ill fated Triumph! These d-d submarines are playing old harry with operations here – what with shells over your tent & submarines at sea there’s scarcely a safe place to sit in! GHQ still here (behind a boom that they say is no use) in their ship. I cut myself adrift & came ashore where are also Dawnay & Aspinally of “O”.
My trip into Turkey to [Smyrna?] was most amusing & interesting.
Well old boy, so long.

Take care of yourself.

We’ll have a bottle of the best at Jules again one day, DV [Deo volente, God willing]. I often think of those 6 months – they were d-d interesting, weren’t they?


Letter to Ralph Glyn (D/EGL/C31/5)

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