London 1918, the Armistice and Regimental histories

Royal fusiliers in the Great War - THE GREAT ADVENTURE — GALLIPOLI

The Royal fusiliers in the Great War 1914 - 1919


" It was an impossible task for any but highly-disciplined, well-trained, skilfully-led, heroically brave, grimly-determined Britishers, animated by high ideals, and upheld by the traditions of their battalions and of their race. It may truly be called the achievement of the impossible." — Lieut. -General Sir Aylmer Hunter -Weston, M.P., " The Times," June yth, 1921.

Meanwhile the 2nd * Battalion had written a memorable page in one of the most tragic episodes of the war. Landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula with the 29th Division on April 25th, they saw the campaign through to its close in brilliant failure.

* General Hamilton's despatch speaks of the battalion as the " 1st."

At the outbreak of the war the battalion was in India, and it did not embark for England until December. January 18th, 1915, a week after they had settled down at Stockingford, was the first day of mobilisation ; and a few days later Lieutenant J. V. Scudmore and Second Lieutenant H. Cooper handed over the colours to the Lord Mayor of London. But the 29th Division, of which the battalion formed part, was not destined to leave England yet. It was not until March that orders arrived which suggested an Eastern destination. On March 12th the division, now commanded by General Hunter- Weston, was inspected by the King near Dunchurch, and four days later the battalion embarked on S.S. Alaunia at Avonmouth.

Alaunia steamed her stately way through beautiful weather to the Eastern Mediterranean. When she was still some distance from Gibraltar the navy began its attack on the Narrows. But apparently there was no advantage in speed, and the division waited a few days at Malta. Alaunia then steamed towards Lemnos until the night of the 26th, when, in conformity with orders received by wireless, she changed her course and at length arrived at Alexandria on Palm Sunday, March 28th, about noon. The troops did not disembark until the following day, when they proceeded to Mex Camp. The routine of the next few days outlined with sufficient accuracy the task which the battalion was to undertake. There were practice disembarkations with subsequent attacks on enemy positions. One of the Lancashire Fusiliers attempted to relieve the tedium by almost drowning himself while bathing in a rough sea, but Lieutenant Anstice, who added a happy zest for life to a facility for finding adventures, very bravely rescued him.

The routine became a little more strenuous and life-like after the battalion reached Lemnos on April nth. The mere operation of disembarkation as carried on in some of these rehearsals was the reverse of inspiriting. The vessel stood high out of the water, and to enter a boat, bobbing up and down in the water, by means of a rope ladder was like leaving the roof of a sky-scraper by means of a spider's web leading to a cockle-shell. Fortunately the operation was simplified for the landing on the peninsula. Implacable did not stand nearly so high out of the water, and wooden ladders were let down to the boats.

On the evening of the 23rd the 2nd Royal Fusiliers left Lemnos with the covering force for Tenedos, where the last preparations were carried out. There the battalion was split : W and X Companies, with headquarters, went on board H.M.S. Implacable about 7 p.m. on the 24th, while Y and Z, with Major L. Brandreth, went on board a mine-sweeper. About 10.30 p.m. the approach to Gallipoli began. The night was calm and clear, and the short journey was made under a brilliant moon. The two companies on Implacable had a hot breakfast about 3.30 a.m. (April 25th), and the men were then put into boats. The moon had already set, and the night had become dark and still. At 4.45 the fleet bombardment began, and about half an hour later Implacable steamed in until her anchor, hanging over the bows to six fathoms, dragged. On each side of her were two tows of six boats. The difficulty of the task which these heroic troops were about to undertake is now commonly realised ; but although Sir Ian Hamilton pays it lip-service in his admirable despatch, the objective visualised for the covering force shows no appreciation of it. In point of fact, this objective, "the ridge across the peninsula, point 344 — Achi Baba peak — 472 — coast line," remained to the end an unrealised dream. The Turks had had full warning, and had prepared for the reception of their uninvited guests with a defence built upon their own unquestioned courage and the conscientious organisation of their German allies.

Before the attack was launched Brig. -General S. W. Hare, the officer commanding the covering force, issued the following order to the 86th Brigade : " Fusiliers, our brigade is to have the honour to be the first to land to cover the disembarkation of the rest of the division. Our task will be no easy one. Let us carry it through in a way worthy of the traditions of the distinguished regiments of which the Fusilier Brigade is composed, in such a way that the men of Albuhera and Minden, of Delhi and Lucknow, may hail us as their equals in valour and military achievement, and that future historians may say of us, as Napier said of the Fusilier Brigade at Albuhera, ' Nothing could stop this astonishing infantry.' The Fusilier Brigade certainly deserved this tribute for the landing at Gallipoli, and no unit more than the Royal Fusiliers.

The landing place of the 2nd Battalion was a small natural amphitheatre with a narrow floor of sand about 200 yards long, lying on the north-west face of the peninsula. The cliff was some 100 feet high, rising somewhat steeply from the beach, and there was no natural way up. The boats were towed in by the pinnaces to about 100 yards from the beach, when, cast off, they had to look to themselves. Each boat had a midshipman and two blue-jackets, who were to take them to the mine-sweeper when the first half of the battalion had landed.

The men rowed in as rapidly as possible until the boats grounded, when they jumped into the water, and waded ashore. In places the men were chest-deep in the sea ; and, in any case, the thorough wetting would have been a very dangerous handicap where success and the cost of it depended on speed. But apparently no one thought of this handicap, and the men forced their way ashore and scrambled up the crumbling cliff. Up to this point the battalion had suffered hardly any casualties. The beach " X " was naturally less likely to encourage a landing, and Implacable s most skilful covering fire kept down the Turkish reply until the cliff was topped. Colonel Newenham signalled the position of a half-battery of Turkish guns in the scrub in front of the centre of the battalion, and they were promptly knocked out by the battleship's fire. After that its immediate usefulness was small, and the Royal Fusiliers ran into a heavy converging fire. But there was no hesitation, no wavering, and the men kept on and rapidly seized one of the Turkish trenches.

By this time Y and Z Companies, with Brandreth, were disembarking from the boats which had landed the first half of the battalion ; and Lieut. -Colonel Newenham, with an instant appreciation of the situation, sent X (Captain F. K. Leslie) to the left front, W (Major G. S. Guy on) to the centre and right front, and then, taking all the troops he could gather, marched towards the right * to effect a junction with the Lancashires at " W " beach. The smallest pardonable indecision at this point, and the whole landing would have failed. Colonel Newenham had learned by signal that the troops on " Y " beach were hard beset, and could not join with his force on " X," and that the landing on " V " was hung up. He had seen that the Lancashires were suffering terribly in even approaching their beach.

* The objective, as stated in Colonel Newenham's Operation Order No. 1, was " Hill 114, and secure flank towards N.E." One company of the Lancashires was to assist in taking Hill 114.

The disposition (same order) was as follows : " On landing, W Company will be on the right and X on the left. The cliff will at once be scaled in platoons or half-platoons. The trench at top of cliff will be immediately rushed with bayonets. X Company will then be prepared to attack on the left (N.), and W Company will be prepared to the right (S.). As soon as Y and Z Companies land, Z Company will at once ascend the cliff in platoons or half-platoons. Y Company will first unload the boats, and then be prepared to support Z Company or to carry up stores, as is necessary."

The little force which marched towards the Lancashire landing was made up of W and part of Z Company (Major F. Moore). Y (Major W. A. B. Daniell) was left as a reserve and to carry ammunition and water, and the orders were to hold on left and front. Between " X" and " W " beaches lay Cape Tekke, crowned by Tekke Hill (Hill 114) , * and, in order to join hands with the Lancashires, the Royal Fusiliers had to carry it. The hill had been elaborately entrenched and was also defended by land mines, but about 11 a.m. the Fusiliers, cheered on by Impiacable's crew, carried it at the point of the bayonet. The battalion sent back about sixty prisoners. They then re-formed and advanced north-east and east, and met with heavy opposition on the reverse side of the hill. The Turks were dislodged from their entrenchments, and the Royal Fusiliers then dug in for the night. They had achieved contact with the Lancashires, and their role had been amply filled.

Meanwhile, X Company had fought through as terrible an experience as any troops on the peninsula. Between " Y " beach and " X " beach was a considerable Turkish force at " Y2 " or " Gully " beach. The first 300 yards of the advance to the left from " X " beach was made against little opposition ; and the Turks, retiring at 9 a.m., left the first line of trenches in Captain Leslie's hands. But the Turks fell back upon heavy reinforcements at " Y2," and when X Company approached the second line they became involved in heavy fighting. Part of Y Company went up in support, but the struggle gathered in intensity, and the centre began to give way. The main mass of the battalion had been concentrated on the flanks and had marched outwards, and the centre was inevitably thinned. Part of Z had been extended to the left, and the

* This hill cannot be accurately described as between " V " and " W " beaches, as in General Hamilton's despatch.

The various lines show the stages in the advance. The disposition of the 2nd Royal Fusiliers on the night of April 25th gives some suggestion of the strain through which they had passed during the day. whole of Y had become involved. A remnant of Leslie's company began to fall back under cover of a platoon of Z, commanded by Lieutenant Jebens.

But at 3 p.m. Shafto informed Colonel Newenham that the centre was falling back ; and for a moment it seemed as if the whole position was crumbling, just when it had been so dearly won. At this critical juncture Colonel Newenham telephoned to the 87th Brigade, who were now landing at " X " beach, and a little later the 1st Border Regiment reinforced the left of the line. For the rest of the day X was attached to them, and at night lay on their left. In the attack on Hill 114, Colonel Newenham had been wounded. He was assisted into a little gully with some other wounded, but between 3 and 4 p.m., when the line appeared to be giving at a number of points, the little party was almost cut off and captured. With the assistance of the Border Regiment and the 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, the line was consolidated ; and though it was heavily attacked and under a sustained fire during the night, the dawn saw the Turks fall back to a rear position.

From the force eventually required to hold the line some idea of the magnitude of the 2nd Battalion's achievement may be gathered. At night they lay somewhat scattered along the rim of the cliff. Between the small party on the extreme left and the section on the left of the Lancashires lay the Border Regiment and the Inniskillings. The battalion's losses had been very heavy. Lieut. -Colonel Newenham * and Major Brandreth, second in command, were both wounded. Of X Company only O'Connell remained, with about a platoon. Captain Leslie and Lieutenant R. E. G. A. de Trafford were killed. Captain Tottenham and Lieutenant S. Winslade were wounded. Lieutenants J. V. Scudamore (W) and M. Brickland (Y) were killed. Second Lieutenants Hanham and Collings were wounded. No company commander escaped, and the battalion was reduced to about half strength. But a careful study of the situation during this day makes it evident that their contribution had been decisive. The troops at " Y " beach were held, and actually withdrew the following day. The landing at " V " beach was in the air. The first hours of the Lancashires' landing found them hardly able to do more than hang on. The swift march upon and capture of Hill 114 turned the scale on " W" beach ; and with the linking of the two beaches a feasible, if precarious, foothold was established on the peninsula.*

* Colonel Newenham had the hard fate of only seeing the battalion he had so carefully trained in action on this one occasion. But the praise which it won from the closest observer, quoted several times in these pages, for its efficiency, discipline, and courage, is sufficient tribute to his command. He was granted a well-deserved C.B. for his services on this occasion.

Captain Moore's wound proved slight, and on the night of the landing he took over the command of the battalion. On the afternoon of the 26th they had to beat off two determined Turkish attacks. The first assault was made with a force estimated at 1,500, and the second, half an hour later, with an additional thousand. The Turks achieved no success, and Hill 141, to the right of "V beach, having been taken, the Turks could be seen withdrawing towards Achi Baba. On the following day a general advance was made without opposition, the 86th Brigade being in divisional reserve.

* A few sentences in General Hamilton's despatch tend to give a wrong impression of the battalion's achievement : " The battalion then advanced to attack the Turkish trenches on Hill 114 .. . but were heavily counter-attacked and forced to give ground. Two more battalions of the 87th Brigade soon followed them, and by evening the troops had established themselves . . . as far south as Hill 114." The Royal Fusiliers not only carried the hill positions, but by 2 p.m. had also taken the entrenchments on the further side. Help from the 87th Brigade came at least two hours later, and to the weakened centre, not to the victorious right. The despatch, speaking of the Lancashires, also says that " a junction was effected on Hill 114 with the Royal Fusiliers," without any suggestion that, unless the 2nd Battalion had promptly marched upon and seized it, there would have been no possibility of effecting a junction. Mr. Nevinson shows a better appreciation of the position when he says (speaking of the Lancashires on "W" beach), " No further advance could be made until 2 p.m., when, owing to the positions held by the two companies on the left, the landing had become fairly secure " (" The Dardanelles Campaign," p. 103). The position held by these two companies was made possible by the decisive march of the Royal Fusiliers. General Callwell summed up this episode in the words : " The success of the Royal Fusiliers at beach ' X ' must be set down as a particularly memorable exploit "
(" The Dardanelles," p. 67).

On the 28th there occurred one of those unfortunate incidents which seemed to appear with undue frequency on the peninsula. The battalion advancing on the extreme left, by the coast, were ordered to move to the support of the 88th Brigade, who were meeting with strong opposition. The 86th were to take ammunition to the 88th, and to carry the line forward to the spur north-east of Krithia. The Royal Fusiliers and the Lancashires were to'attack, the former being on the left of the directing platoon of the Lancashires. When the latter at length began to advance, the 2nd Battalion, under Cripps and O'Connell, conformed, and carried the line forward with a series of short, swift rushes. Heavy fighting continued all day, but the battalion dug in on a line about a mile south of Krithia. Cripps was wounded, and the strength of the Fusiliers ebbed still further. What appeared more lamentable was that the farthest point reached could not be maintained for lack of support, and a month's hard righting and heavy losses were required to regain the ground won in this determined advance. The battalion was in brigade reserve on the two following days, resting and reorganising. Indeed, some respite was called for. On leaving Mex Camp they had mustered 26 officers and 948 other ranks. On April 30th the strength was 12 officers and 481 other ranks.

On May 1st, after a quiet day, the battalion was called upon for another tour de force. At 7.30 p.m. orders had been issued for the relief of the 86th Brigade, but it was still in the line when a very heavy attack developed at 10.30 p.m. " The first momentum of this ponderous onslaught fell upon the right of the 86th Brigade, an unlucky spot, seeing all the officers thereabouts had already been killed or wounded." * It was a weak spot for another reason. At this point of the brigade front the line was cut by a bifurcating nullah. The Turks organised this first massed counter-attack with great skill. The trenches were first heavily shelled, and then, just before moonrise, the first line of the Turks hurled themselves against the Allied positions with fixed bayonets. From prisoners captured by the Royal Fusiliers it was later discovered that this attack was delivered by 16,000 Turks, with 2,000 in reserve.

* Despatch.


The effect of this onslaught on the already weak Munsters might have been foreseen. The heavy weight of living bayonets, bursting out of the darkness into their trenches and up the nullah, overwhelmed the defence. Some of the Turks penetrated to the reserve trench held by the 1/5 Scots.* But the position was critical, and the Royal Fusiliers, who were in brigade reserve, were again called upon. Captain North-Bomford and Lieutenant Jebens took up Z Company. The line at this moment was pierced. The Turks were massed in the nullah. The Fusiliers at once charged into it, and though North-Bomford was wounded, the breach in the line was healed. The nullah was soon choked with dead and dying. Forty prisoners were sent back, and when Y Company came up the line was restored on both sides of the nullah. The trenches were held all night (May 2nd), despite incessant attacks, in which the Turks on more than one occasion fought their way up to the trench parapets. Lieutenant Anstice.f who had distinguished himself for his coolness and gallantry in carrying ammunition to the front line, was killed. Jebens was wounded, and Captain Moore was again hit, and had to hand over the command to Captain H. M. Hope-Johnstone. It was immediately after discussing the position with his new CO. that Shafto, one of the most popular of officers, was shot dead while examining the front line in the early morning. The battalion had again lost very heavily, but their intervention at a critical juncture had " saved the situation. "J

" All through the operations the Royal Fusiliers worked with the smoothest precision ; never for a moment did they lose their high standard of efficiency. No task was relinquished while it was humanly possible to complete it. With such men as Moore, Shafto, and Hope-Johnstone in control, all officers inspiring confidence, and the disciplined conduct of the men showing their friendly trust in them, there was never a fear that the reserve might fail in stemming the assault. Captain Moore, in telephonic communication throughout the night with the firing line and brigade headquarters, gave accurate and constant information of the progress of the fight, and acted on his own initiative or carried out orders rapidly to deal with every situation." *
* General Hamilton's despatch attributes to this regiment the saving of the situation, and does not mention the Royal Fusiliers.
t He was recommended for the Victoria Cross.
I From a letter of the Brigade Major, May 22nd, 1915.

There were now only six officers left. Mundey became Adjutant. Huggett, O'Connell, Hewitt and Cooper were the other officers ; and there were still 425 other ranks. On the night of the 2nd the bulk of the battalion was again sent up in support. The two following days were quiet. On the 4th the 86th Brigade was broken up, the Royal Fusiliers, linked with the Hants, though as a separate battalion, going to the 88th Brigade. The landing phase was over. In a letter dated May 22nd, 1915, the Brigade Major of the 86th Infantry Brigade said, " Where all have done well, the Royal Fusiliers have been beyond praise. With five junior officers and under 400 men, they have never lost their form for a moment. Not only have they always done what might have been expected of them, but they have risen to a standard of soldiering which could not be higher, and never departed from it. I am filled with admiration for them." Praise could hardly be higher than this.

On May 6th began the second battle of Krithia. At about 11 a.m. the battalion moved to the extreme left of the brigade front in support of the Hampshire Regiment, and at 12.30 p.m. Huggett's company reinforced the Hants' left in the advance. The Fusiliers' left rested on the Saghir Dere (Gully Ravine), and in about four hours' hard fighting they had carried the line forward several hundred yards ; and, no further advance being possible, dug in as fast as possible under fire. So the position stood that night, and on the following morning it was found impossible to make headway against the Turkish opposition, while the flanking brigade was held up. The Essex who advanced through the battalion at 5 p.m. were in trouble for the same reason, and during the night the Fusiliers had to send up a party to fill the gap on their left to the nullah. All that day the battalion had been under very accurately aimed shell fire, and on the 8th they still suffered from this unwelcome attention. But the second battle of Krithia died down under heavy counter-attacks and the battalion went into reserve 5 officers and 384 other ranks strong, after sixteen days in the fire zone.

* The Brigade Major, 86th Brigade, quoted from " With the 29th Division," p. 190.

When the Fusiliers went back into the line again on the 17th they had the novel excitement of enfilading a Turkish trench. Though at some 1,200 yards distance, the fire very efficiently checked the activity of enemy snipers. But this was merely an interlude. Saps were driven forward and several attempts were made to lift the battalion front with them. The second was on the 22nd, when gallantly led by Moore, Hope- Johnstone and Webb-Bowen, the Fusiliers captured a Turkish trench ; but a heavy counter-attack forced them to withdraw with 40 casualties, including Moore and Webb-Bowen. Both were wounded, Moore for the third time. Maj or Brandreth had by this time returned to the battalion, and there had been no pause in the fighting when they were called upon to take part in the third battle of Krithia, on June 4th.

The Turks had now organised a systematic defence across the peninsula and the battalion had to advance against a determined resistance. A small machine gun redoubt, lying about 150 yards in front, was among their objectives. Admirably sited on rising ground the position was strong out of all proportion to its size. When the advance began at noon W Company (Captain Amphlett), on the right, rushed this redoubt, and there, for the first time, the battalion came face to face with Germans. The garrision was composed of a machine gun crew from the cruiser Breslau. " One ugly looking customer was captured, evidently the naval equivalent of a military pioneer sergeant. He was armed with a rifle, revolver and a serrated sword. The others retired on the arrival of our men, leaving four heavy naval machine guns, and belt boxes of S.A.A. ... I collected these guns and sent them to brigade headquarters with labels, stating time of capture, etc. The guns had evidently been taken from the Breslau, the belt boxes were all marked S.M.S. Breslau."*

Captain Amphlett was killed on this occasion. A police magistrate in Grenada at the outbreak of the war, he was one of the new officers and appears to have shown his quality at once and to have died beloved by his company.

The battalion swept past the redoubt and established themselves in the first objective. No further advance could be made as the Indians on the left were held up by uncut wire. The brilliant French advance was followed by a retirement which compelled the R.N.D. to fall back. The Manchester Brigade of the 42nd Division had reached the second objective ; and to strengthen their position the Royal Fusiliers on the left advanced once more under artillery support, and carried the line well beyond the first objective. This was not an unmixed advantage, as the sequel showed. The new front line was not continuous, and, with the coastal sector at the original position, the ground gained formed an irregular salient in the Turkish lines. Some 80 yards of the Fusiliers' line on the left was a Turkish communication trench which lay practically at right angles to the main line, and the battalion on the left, lying some distance ahead, shared this trench.

* Statement by R.S.M. Huband (June, 192 1). General Hamilton's despatch says " Goeben." I cannot determine whether there were two similar incidents, and the brigade diary is missing for this date. It seems more probable that " Breslau " should be substituted for " Goeben."


After the main attack on June 4th followed a quiet day ; but at dawn on the 6th a loud noise of bombing was heard on the Fusiliers' left. Almost immediately afterwards a large body of men were seen retiring ; but instead of going straight back they ran along the parados and rushed into the left of the Fusiliers' sector. The trenches were narrow and soon became choked. Brandreth seeing the possibility of panic spreading, ran across with Mundey and Sergeant Marston. Every effort was made to restore order, but the vacated trenches were now occupied by the Turks. Very soon the battalion were taken from the left rear. Many men were shot in the back. Only one officer, Second Lieutenant Cooper, remained. Word was sent back to the brigade, but the company which was sent up refused to counter-attack without information from the CO., who was missing. So the battalion had to retire. In the three days' righting it had suffered very terribly. The ten new officers were all lost, and they included such men as the famous embryologist Captain Jenkinson. The loss of Brandreth was of greater importance to the battalion ; and Mundey, who had also fallen, had revealed unexpected strength. When it was relieved, the following day, it marched, 2 officers and 278 other ranks strong, to Gully Beach.

Four company organisation was dropped and the two companies fell under the command of Captain A. A. C. Taylor, of the Dublins. While in reserve they were joined by Major Julian Fisher, D.S.O., who brought with him a draft of 10 officers and 400 other ranks from England. Captain P. N. Wilson, who was commanding the divisional cyclists, was allowed to rejoin the battalion, and the unit was given ten days to reorganise. The new draft consisted of very young men who had not received much training. None of the officers were Regulars, but men who had gathered from the ends of the earth to take their part in the war. When the battalion went back to the line once more, on June 23rd, they mustered 13 officers and 667 other ranks. Lieutenant Eustace commanded Y company, Captain Ayrton X and Captain Gudgeon Z. About three days later Captain FitzClarence * arrived from England and took over the duties of the second in command.

On the 28th the battalion again attacked, leading the brigade with three companies ; and their advance, though successful, was dearly bought. They advanced about 1,000 yards, " a magnificent sight, the men never losing their formation under a heavy artillery and rifle fire." f

The ground had been carefully ranged and the bulk of the casualties were due to well-placed shrapnel. There were few from rifle fire ; but in attempting to round off their achievement in the night the battalion became involved in hand-to-hand fighting. Few details of these encounters have been preserved ; but when the Fusiliers were relieved they were in the last stage of exhaustion. A twenty-four hours' struggle in oppressive heat with hardly any water has its unforgettable terrors. The actual losses included nine officers : FitzClarence, Ayrton, Andrews killed ; Bulbeck, Freer and Harford wounded ; Gudgeon, Eustace and Willett missing. Of other ranks, 27 were killed, 175 wounded, and 57 missing. Not one of these officers had been with the battalion when it landed in Gallipoli, and the continuity was preserved by an ever-thinning thread.

When the battalion returned to the trenches on July 3rd, Major Cripps had rejoined and taken over the duties of adjutant ; and in this tour the 9 officers and 409 other ranks had companies of newly arrived troops attached for instructional purposes. On the 15th the Fusiliers proceeded to " V " beach and embarked for Lemnos. The next day was spent in bivouacs about a mile from Mudros, the first day since April 25th that the 2nd Battalion had not been under rifle or shell fire. There they were rejoined by Major Guy on who took over the command from Major Fisher. Drafts were received from the 3rd,* 5th and 7th Battalions and the unit was able to return to three company strength once more.

* Captain A. A. C. FitzClarence was the sixth of his family to serve in the regiment. He was a cousin of Brig. -General FitzClarence, V.C., also a Royal Fusilier, who initiated the counter-attack which restored the line at Ypres on October 31st, 1914.

f Mr. Ashmead Bartlett in The Times, July 9th, 1915.


The battles of Suvla saw them in Gallipoli again. The trenches were practically the same as those occupied before the rest in Lemnos. Indeed, one of the terrible characteristics of the whole of this campaign was the impression of always advancing at great cost and never changing the position. The actions of Krithia Vineyard, which were subsidiary to the battles of Suvla, saw the battalion bringing in the wounded of the 88th Brigade. They had moved to the reserve trench before the opening of the battle, and as the 88th Brigade left the trenches early in the morning of August 6th, they took them over. Well-directed and sustained, the Turkish counter-bombardment exacted a heavy toll. The firing line was found to be full of dead and wounded, belonging to different units. Z Company, on the left, also suffered severely. Some relief was afforded by the luck of a machine gun. Mounted in a communication trench, this gun, at a range of 850 yards, enfiladed a trench near the vineyard and wiped off some of the score.

Suvla. — On the 16th the battalion relieved the Border Regiment who were holding the extreme left of the line to the sea. W Company lay on the cliff side as it rose from the sea. The line occupied by Z ran almost at right angles to this position, turning back roughly parallel to the sea. It was not a sector that one would naturally choose. The Turkish snipers were in the ascendant. The steel loop-holes were being shot away and periscopes could not be raised for more than a second or two. From the Turkish trenches which, in places, were only 15 yards distant, bombs were being continually thrown into the British lines. The conditions, in fine, were intolerable, and arrangements were made to relieve them. An intensive treatment with jam-tin bombs and trench mortars some-what chastened the Turkish bomb throwers, and a minor attack was planned for the 20th. But it was never to take place. On the 19th the battalion were relieved. They embarked from " W " beach at 7 p.m. on the following day, and at midnight they disembarked at " C " beach, Suvla. Packs were dumped and the battalion marched to Chocolate Hill, arriving there at dawn on August 21st.

* Men who had suffered from trench feet in France.

Their role was to assist in redeeming the past. On how many occasions during the war were the Royal Fusiliers faced with a similar task ? A single battalion, 6th E. Yorks. Pioneers had occupied Scimitar Hill on Sunday, August 8th, and had been withdrawn, apparently by an oversight. Its value, recognised later, led to the plan in which the 2nd Battalion were to play their part. The key to " W " hill and Anafarta Sagir, its possession was necessary if a further advance were to be made ; and, untaken, even the security of the main Suvla landing was prejudiced. Scimitar Hill was to be taken by the converging attack of the 87th and S6th Brigades, the 86th advancing from the right. The Royal Fusiliers in brigade reserve, were behind Chocolate Hill, their position being connected with that of the Munsters and Lancashires by a narrow communication trench. At 2.30 p.m. (August 2 1st) the bombardment began. A quarter of an hour later, the men began to file down the communication trench in order to be ready to take up the position ahead as soon as it was vacated by the Munsters and Lancashires. At 3.30 these troops went forward ; but the brigades on the right had lost direction in front and little headway could be made. While filing down the trench the Royal Fusiliers came under a heavy enfilade fire from shrapnel. It became blocked with dead and wounded, and to add to the horror of the moment, the thick bush on both sides was kindled by the shell fire. Such facts beggar description.

At 6 p.m., a patrol under Captain Bruce found that the battalion was not linked up with the yeomanry on the right. And during the night 150 men, under Captain Stevenson, began to dig a connecting trench in the open. But slow progress was made, and the men were picked off all too easily. During the day it was realised that the advance had fizzled out, and at 6 p.m. the battalion moved back behind Chocolate Hill, in order to take over trenches on the left of the 87th Brigade.

During the night of the 22nd the battalion took over the fire trench from the 6th Royal Welch Fusiliers. The position was beginning to harden in this part of the peninsula. The fine hope that sped the Suvla battles had faded away, and it became necessary to secure a real grip on the ground already won. Consolidation was pressed on, and trenches were dug to connect up with the 88th Brigade on the left. The position was exposed, life unusually precarious even for the peninsula. All rations had to be brought up by night. But the Fusiliers concentrated on their work, and the trenches and the whole position were improved and strengthened. A large draft brought the strength of the battalion to 16 officers and 1,015 other ranks, higher than it had ever been in Gallipoli, and 150 yards of the Dublins' line was taken over.

On relief, the battalion, after a week spent in dug-outs, embarked for Imbros on September 8th. It was their first rest for six weeks, almost all of which had been spent in the front trench under constant rifle and shell fire. That week over 200 men were down with diarrhoea, and another of the perils of the peninsula began to be experienced. The casualties up to this time (September 14th) were as follows : —

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With so terrible a disproportion in officer casualties it was obvious that there would be a shortage ; and this was a characteristic of all the British units in Gallipoli. Of all the original officers of the battalion not one had been able to see the campaign through, and only 166 other ranks had escaped wounds. Two officers, Guyon and Cripps, and about 100 other ranks had returned from hospital.

On September 21st the battalion embarked in such rough weather that it was with the greatest difficulty the men could be transferred from lighters to the ship. But at length this was achieved without mishap, and the troops returned to Suvla, where they relieved the S.W. Borderers in the firing line. During this tour of the front trenches parties of the 2/3 London Regiment, who had only recently landed in Gallipoli, were attached for instructional purposes. It was a strange chance that cast these two battalions of the regiment together. The 2/3 Londons had replaced the 1/3 in the Malta garrison, and then, in April, 1915, had left for Khartum. Detachments were also stationed at Atbara and Suikat. In Gallipoli they reinforced the 86th Brigade, and took part in various minor engagements.

The last days of September saw almost perfect weather. The days were warm and sunny, the nights cool. It seemed as if the terrible peninsula, which was yet to show its worst, was, for the moment, determined to exhibit its best. Under such conditions labour seemed no great hardship, and the men settled down to the never-ceasing task of improving the trenches. In early October they took over a new stretch of fire line from the Munsters and a company of the Dublins, and at once set to work like ants on improving these positions. A new fire trench was constructed, and a communication trench to it. In the latter task Second Lieutenant Jepson was killed (October 16th) and Lieutenant Fletcher was wounded. But the battalion here, as everywhere, seemed imbued with a divine discontent. The perfect alignment required the assimilation of some elements of the Turkish system, and so three night attacks were made, the last on October 22nd. These operations won the congratulations of the corps commander.

On October 18th the 2/4 Battalion London Regiment landed at Cape Helles. They had left Malta in August for Egypt, and had been two months in camp at Alexandria. During their service in Gallipoli they were attached to the Royal Naval Division, and took part in the trench warfare until the evacuation.

It was in the latter part of October that Guyon, commanding the 2nd Battalion, fell ill with appendicitis, and for a week he lay in his dug-out before it was possible to remove him to hospital. It was at this time, too, that the pace of the operations on the peninsula settled down as though for an indefinitely long tenure. From the view-point of the 2nd Battalion this period was marked by ingenuity and daring initiative. On November 2nd a small body attempted to pull away the Turkish wire en bloc with ropes. Unfortunately, the atmosphere had sapped the fibre of the ropes, and the exploit proved more ingenious than serviceable. Turkish sniping posts received one or two unwelcome visits from bombing parties. There were several good reconnaissance patrols. But, despite all attentions, the Turkish snipers proved a pest to the end, and on November 12th Second Lieutenant E. J. Haywood, the acting brigade machine gun officer, was killed while visiting a machine gun post.

Lord Kitchener had visited Gallipoli and passed through Greece on his way home again when the worst calamity befell the batallion. November 26th dawned fine, and so continued until about 5 p.m., when it began to rain. Almost at once it became a characteristic tropical downpour. In an hour there was a foot of water in the trenches. From the hills where the Turks lay a tremendous flood of water swept towards the Fusiliers' position.* The barriers reared so painfully against the Turks were swept away in a flash. In a few minutes the face of the country had changed. Into the trenches swept a pony, a mule, and three dead Turks. Several men were drowned. The whole area became a lake. The communication trenches were a swirl of muddy water. All that could be seen was an occasional tree and a muddy bank where the parados had been particularly high. The bulk of the battalion had scrambled out of the trenches, and stood about on the spots which remained above water, soaked to the skin, and at least half of them without overcoats or even rifles. The moon lit up these small knots of shivering men on little banks of mud in a waste of water. Not a shot was fired on either side. The common calamity had enforced an efficient truce.

* " The Royal Fusiliers suffered much more than any other regiment " (" The Dardanelles Campaign," Nevinson, p. 384).

Orders came by telephone that the battalion was to hold on to the line at all costs. Meanwhile two orderlies, Frost and James, had been sent to brigade headquarters, and had been compelled to swim most of the way. About 10 p.m. the water subsided slightly, and the men threw up rough breastworks of mud. There they lay huddled together in extreme discomfort, cut through by a piercing wind. The next day the trenches were still from 4 to 5 feet deep, and the men were forced to keep to them. The truce had ended as strangely as it had begun, and any one showing above the trenches was liable to meet the familiar fate . Captain Shaw was shot dead, Lieutenant Ormesher was mortally wounded ; and with such object lessons the bitter discomforts of the trenches were made to seem preferable. In the afternoon the wind rose again. It became intensely cold. A blizzard swept the country. Men were sent back to hospital ; but some of them died on the way, from exposure and exhaustion. Two of them, belonging to W Company, who shared this fate, had struggled on until they found some sort of shelter near the Salt Lake. There they had paused to rest. The younger of the two could probably have got back to camp alone, but he would not leave his comrade in the storm and darkness and snow. The next morning they were found together — frozen stiff.
The younger, his arms round his companion, held a piece of broken biscuit in each frozen hand, and there were biscuit crumbs frozen into the moustache of the elder man.

Under such conditions the tacit truce was renewed. Rum and whisky were brought up to the trenches ; but with the utmost difficulty.

At midnight on the 27th, the wind was colder, the snow thicker. About 4 a.m. (November 28th) the commanding officer and the adjutant were the only survivors in the reserve line ; and it was clear that even superhuman endurance had limits. Permission was obtained to bring the battalion back to the brigade nullah, where the ground was higher and more sheltered. There were only about 300 left in the firing line, and they were got back with great difficulty. Hardly a man could walk normally. The trench was crossed by a single plank. A few of the men were shot as they staggered across. Some failed to get back at all. Others were kicked along with merciful brutality, or they would have given up the struggle. There are few pictures in military history which equal in poignancy that of this little band who, having faced what was almost beyond the power of men, struggled back to life from the very gates of death.

By 7 a.m. the battalion had arrived at the nullah, where they were given warm food and put into blankets. The majority were taken to hospital during the day suffering either from exposure or frost-bite. The strength of the battalion was now 11 officers and 105 other ranks. A party of men, under Second Lieutenant Camies, were sent back to the Dublin Castle post to hold on to next evening. On the 29th it froze hard, and after midnight it was found that the party from another regiment who were to have relieved Second Lieutenant Camies, had lost their way. At 4 a.m. (November 30th) Camies and his men were found still at their posts, but in an almost helpless condition. Sergt. -Major Paschall was sent to take out the relieving party and bring back Camies. The outpost on return all went to hospital, and at 4 p.m. roll call showed only 10 officers and 84 other ranks (70 effective) remaining. The storm had wrought a greater havoc than any battle.*

On December 2nd the draining of the reserve trench was begun, and on December 3rd the weather became a little warmer. Some drafts arrived., and the battalion, organised in two companies, began to hold the Dublin Castle position by companies, forty-eight hours at a time. On the 13th the line was handed over to the 88th Brigade, and on the following day the battalion embarked for Mudros, and after a day's rest proceeded once more to Helles. Here the time was spent in training and fatigues until December 31st, when the news of the approaching evacuation was received. A line of defences was at once mapped out, and work begun on them. At 10 p.m. on January 2nd the two companies embarked on a trawler from " W " beach. A few hours earlier the beach was being shelled, but the actual embarkation was uneventful. The next day the battalion was transhipped to S.S. Caledonia on arrival at Mudros, and the course was set for Alexandria. On January 8th they arrived at Alexandria and entrained for Suez.

It was little more than a year since the battalion, a splendid fighting unit, had reached this very place, travelling in the opposite direction. The intervening period enshrined one of the most terrible experiences any soldiers were called upon to suffer. But the 2nd Battalion can look back with pride on this campaign in Gallipoli. In attack, in defence, in endurance they were, as a close observer said more than once, " beyond praise." j

* The 2/3 Londons also suffered very terribly in this storm, being reduced to 4 officers and 60 men.

f Brigade Major, 86th Brigade. See p. 96.

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