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Cooper, Captain the Hon. R. E. Philipps and Lieutenant
E. W. T. Beck the M.C. ; Sergeant Cronyn, Lance-Corporal
A. Lowrey and Private Mcintosh received the D.C.M. The
battalion also received warm congratulations from General
Gough, G.O.C. I. Corps ; General Scott, G.O.C. 12th
Division ; and from Brigadier-General Boyd Moss, G.O.C.
36th Brigade. Both battalions were mentioned in
Sir Douglas Haig's despatch of May 12th, 1916.

St. Eloi. — A more imposing operation was that carried
out by the 4th Battalion with the 1st Northumberland
Fusiliers on March 27th. This attack was described in
the despatch of May 12th, and in the published edition of
the despatches it is illustrated by a plan. The object was
to straighten " out the line at St. Eloi," and cut " away
the small German salient which encroached on the semi-
circle of our line in the Ypres salient to a depth of about
100 yards over a front of some 600 yards. The operation
was begun by the firing of six very large mines ; the charge
was so heavy that the explosion was felt in towns several
miles behind the lines, and large numbers of the enemy
were killed. Half a minute after the explosion our
infantry attack was launched, aiming at the German
second line." * The right attack by the Northumberland
Fusiliers met with little opposition ; but the 4th Royal
Fusiliers fared very differently.

The attackf was launched at 4.15 a.m., with W and X

* Despatch.

f There is little use in amplifying this account. The episode seems,
on calm reflection, to have been the most tragic of any in which the
Royal Fusiliers figured. There can be no possible doubt of the splendid
gallantry of officers and men. There is as little doubt as to the skill of
the command. No troops could have done better ; but a certain
glamour surrounded the action of the Northumberland Fusiliers because
of their greater success. It is one of the many instances in which the
caprice of fate involved a grave injustice.



ST. ELOI, MARCH, 1916 85

Companies on the left and Y and Z on the right. The
men ran forward on the explosion of the mines, but they
were met by intense rifle, machine gun and artillery fire.
The Germans appear to have been fully on the alert, and
the battalion at once lost heavily. They stormed the
German wire, unbroken as it was, and took the first
German trench. But they had been so weakened and the
opposition was so heavy that they could get no further,
and the ground was consolidated. The rest of the day
was occupied by an artillery duel. The German fire was
intense, and until midnight it was impossible to relieve
the battalion. Small parties of the 2nd Royal Scots then
began to get through, but the relief was not complete until
6 a.m. on March 28th. The casualties for the day were 10
officers and 255 other ranks. Captain Moxon, Second
Lieutenants Tothill, Howard, Boddy and Perrier, were
killed, and Lieutenant Hardman died of wounds on the
30th. It was on the 29th that the chaplain, the Rev. N.
Mellish, went out repeatedly with a volunteer party to
get in the wounded, and he was awarded the Victoria Cross,
being the first chaplain to receive it during the war.

The action of March 27th was but the beginning of a
long series of local attacks and counter-attacks in this
area until May 19th, when the status quo ante was perforce
accepted as the best compromise.



CHAPTER VI

THE GREAT ADVENTURE — GALLIPOLI

" 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 tradi-
tions 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 memor-
able 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.

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 Avon-
mouth.

Alaunia steamed her stately way through beautiful
weather to the Eastern Mediterranean. When she was
still some distance from Gibraltar the navy began its

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





■f.

-



SECOND BATTALION IN EGYPT 87

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 him-
self 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



88 ROYAL FUSILIERS IN THE GREAT WAR

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 penin-
sula. 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




■ife




THE LANDING, APRIL 25TH, 1915 89

from the beach, when, cast off, they had to look to them-
selves. 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

* 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



go ROYAL FUSILIERS IN THE GREAT WAR

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 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 opposi-
tion 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

first unload the boats, and then be prepared to support Z Company or
to carry up stores, as is necessary."

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



THE CRISIS ON APRIL 25TH



9i



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




Sketch Map showing the Tosition at the South-West of Galli-
poli on the Night of April 25TH, 1915, on the Night of
the 26th, and up to May 17TH, 1915.

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



92 ROYAL FUSILIERS IN THE GREAT WAR

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 achieve-
ment 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 Innis-
killings. 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

* 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.




Brig. -General H. E. B. Newenham, C.B., who commanded the
2nd Royal Fusiliers in the Landing at Gallipoli.



THE NIGHT AFTER THE LANDING 93

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.*

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 with-
drawing towards Achi Baba. On the following day a
general advance was made without opposition, the
86th Brigade being in divisional reserve.

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

* 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).



94 ROYAL FUSILIERS IN THE GREAT WAR

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 them-
selves against the Allied positions with fixed bayonets.
From prisoners captured by the Royal Fusiliers it was

* Despatch.



COUNTERATTACK ON MAY ist— 2nd 95

later discovered that this attack was delivered by 16,000
Turks, with 2,000 in reserve.

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 Lieu-
tenant 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 ammu-
nition 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 inter-
vention 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 com-

* 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.



96 ROYAL FUSILIERS IN THE GREAT WAR

pletc 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." *

There were now only six officers left. Mundey became
Adjutant. Huggett, O'Connell, Hewitt and Cooper were



Online LibraryH. C. (Herbert Charles) O'NeillThe Royal fusiliers in the great war → online text (page 8 of 38)