Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence

Lest We Forget
British Legion
The Royal British Legion

1st/5th Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment

Gallipoli - 1915

[Extract taken from 'The Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment' by G.W.H. Peters pp. 66-67 - ISBN 0 85052 034 7]

In some quarters this stalemate had been foreseen since the autumn of 1914. Partly for this reason, partly through a desire to help Russian Allies and partly because our national strategy has always been basically maritime, British statesmen and military leaders began to look elsewhere. In April the attack on Gallipoli, brilliant in conception, rich in promise, but amateur in execution had failed narrowly. In August when 5th Bedfords landed at Suvla Bay as part of 54 Division, hopes of breaking through to the Dardanelles were still high.

The adventures of this Battalion in its first few days of action typify the strength And weakness of our Territorials; the dash and spirit in attack which made them irresistible; the inexperience which brought unnecessary casualties when the objective was taken; the local and typically British foundation of their tradition.

'As the last advance was made Captain C. T. Baker of Dunstable, his arm completely shattered went on at the head of his Company until he fell mortally wounded.'

The important point here is not that Captain Baker did his duty, but that he was the son of the Rector of Dunstable. The men killed with him would also have come from Dunstable, perhaps been christened or even married by his father. Sorrow comes easier if it can be shared with pride and dignity. This coin has also a reverse side. Shame is hard to bear, when circumstances are known to all so that men brought up in a small community rarely let their comrades down.

In their very first action on August 15 the 5th Bedfords went off with bayonets fixed and extraordinary dash, rather like Prince Rupert's Cavalry in Cromwell's Civil War. On the first objective it required really superhuman efforts on the part of two experienced officers to restore direction and cohesion. Fortunately this was achieved without sapping enthusiasm for the final charge on a feature known as Kidney Hill.

'It was a great and glorious charge, but the position was won at terrible cost. The whole advance had been made with bayonets fixed and when the final stage was reached and the order to charge rang out the men dashed to the attack. There was no stopping these unblooded British troops; London, Essex and Bedford Territorials charged together, but the men of the 5th Bedfords outstripped the Regiments on their right and left and dashed into the lead, causing the line to form a crescent and sweeping everything before them. Turks went down before cold steel in hundreds, and those who were not killed turned and fled.'

If Kidney Hill did have any tactical importance commanders and staffs seem to have lacked the skill to exploit its capture. The Battalion account reads rather sadly that they held on to it for forty-eight hours, with A skill and tenacity which would have done credit to Regular troops, and were then withdrawn so that the line could be straightened out. And straight it seems to have remained until the evacuation of the Peninsula four months later. When it became apparent that there was to be no quick success at Gallipoli optimistic 'Western Front' voices were raised again. Chief of these was General Joffre. All through the summer of 1915 he had been quietly planning an autumn offensive. The British Government and the British commanders were unenthusiastic as the scale contemplated was such that some of Kitchener's new divisions would become involved before they were deemed ready.

On the other hand we could not argue that these divisions were wanted to exploit a success against Turkey which hadn't materialized.

Diary of Events

For more information about the various Regiments and the events at Gallipoli read 'British Regiments at Gallipoli' by Ray Westlake, published by Leo Cooper, London ISBN 0 85052 511 X

JULY

1915

St. Albans, Hertfordshire. Part of 162nd Brigade, 54th (East Anglian) Division.

26th

Entrained for Devonport

Embarked Braemar Castle and sailed 5.30 p.m. Officers — Lieutenant-Colonel E. W. Brighten (Commanding); Captains J.E. Hill, W.K. Meakin, R.M. Smythe, B.C. Cumberland, R. Forrest, C.T. Baker, E.V. Andreini, E.T. Maier; Lieutenants C.R. James, C.R. Lydekker, W.S. Chirnside, F.S. Shoosmith, R.O. Clarke, F.W. Ballance, F.B. Hobbs, F.W.H. Nicholas, C.R. Day; Second-Lieutenants J.T. Yarde, F. Rising, P.R. Chaundler, R.D.J. Brighten, L.J. Hunter, E.L. Rawlings, H.E. Woodhouse, H.S. Toogood; Captain H. Younghusband (Adjutant), Lieutenant G.O. Lydekker (Quartermaster), Lieutenant F.C. Kempson (Medical Officer).

AUGUST

1915

3rd

Called Malta

6th

Arrived Alexandria, Egypt 2.30 p.m.

7th

Sailed for Lemnos 5 p.m.

10th

Arrived Mudros 9 a.m. and there received orders to proceed to Imbros.

11th

Arrived 3.00 p.m. Ordered to Suvla

Arrived 5.30 a.m. War Diary records German aeroplane dropped bombs on shipping but hit nothing. Disembarked and moved inland to bivouacs.

14th

First casualties — Lieutenant Chaundler and Private Barton wounded.

15th

Moved forward for attack — “B” Company on right, “A” Company left, “C” and “D” in reserve. First objective taken with little loss. Advance on second objective, Kidney Hill, met with heavy shrapnel and rifle fire. In his history of the battalion, Captain F.A.M. Webster notes that during the advance, direction was lost, but good work by Major J.E. Hill and Captain H. Younghusband pushed the attack on. War Diary records . . . “attack arrived through with tremendous dash — hill taken and entrenched. Casualties — 14 officers & 300 men.” Officers killed or died of wounds — Captain C.T. Baker, Captain B.C. Cumberland, Captain W.K. Meakin, Lieutenant F. Rising, Lieutenant C.R. Lydekker, Lieutenant R. Brighten (brother of commanding officer). One company is recorded as finishing up led by a private having lost all of its officers and N.C.Os. Trenches improved under constant shelling and sniping.

20th

Relieved by 1/11th London 8 p.m. and to reserve (about 100 yards behind front line) at Lone Tree Gully.

21st

Lieutenant F.S. Shoosmith killed by sniper.

23rd

To rest camp at Lala Baba camp

26th

Took over bivouacs from 1/4th

Northamptonshire during night

28th

Moved to Anzac

29th

Took over fire trenches from 6th King’s Own near enemy’s position at Sandbag Ridge

SEPTEMBER

1915

4th

Relieved by 1/11th London and to reserve positions at Finsbury Vale.

5th

War Diary notes Vale “unsafe” and new sap made called “New Bedford Road.”

11th

To front line trenches

12th

Continual sniping from Sandbag Ridge recorded.

13th

Captain R.M. Smythe wounded

14th

Captain R.M. Smythe died of wounds

17th

Relieved by 1/11th London and to Finsbury Vale

21st

Draft of 9 officers arrived. Strength now 16 officers, 461 other ranks.

22nd

To front line.

29th

Relieved by 1/11th London and to Finsbury Vale

OCTOBER

1915

7th

To front line. Draft of 5 officers arrived.

13th

Relieved by 1/11th London and to reserve bivouacs at Hay Valley. “C” Company remaining in local support. Squadron of 1/1st Suffolk Yeomanry attached for 3-day period of instruction.

16th

“C” Company returned

19th

To front line. Draft of 3 officers arrived. “D” Squadron, 1/1st Suffolk Yeomanry attached for 3 days.

22nd

Strength recorded as 236.

24th

War Diary notes that “Second-Lieutenant Woodhouse went out to cliff named after him and obtained some very useful information.”

25th

Patrol occupied enemy post on Bulgar Bluff. Captain Webster records that this position was occupied in turn by patrols from both sides and was regularly the scene of the most bloody hand-to-hand fighting.

26th

Relieved by “C” and “D” Squadrons, 1/1st Suffolk Yeomanry and to Hay Valley.

31st

To front line. Strength — 21 officers, 235 other ranks.

NOVEMBER

1915

4th

War Diary records a bomb catapult being erected on left of line. Captain Webster notes that the machine made such noise during arming that the Turks had ample warning of its intended use.

5th

Relieved and to Finsbury Vale.

10th

To front line. War Diary records that Turkish deserter from Sandbag Ridge was interrogated and provided useful information.

15th

Relieved and to Finsbury Vale.

20th

To front line.

25th

To Finsbury Vale.

DECEMBER

1915

2nd

Moved to Taylor’s Hollow.

3rd

Sailed El Kahirah for Mudros

4th

Arrived Mudros 8.30 a.m.

Gallipoli - 1915 - Deaths - Bedfordshire Men

  Surname Forenames Rank Number Date of Death Cause of death Place of Residence
ABBOTT Rowland Lance Corporal 4025 21st August 1915 Died of wounds Luton
AMBRIDGE Charles John Private 3500 15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
ANDERSON Edward Private 4386 15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
BAKER Charles Tanueray Captain   15th August 1915 Killed in action Dunstable
BAKER William John Private 4177 17th September 1915 Died of wounds Harlington
BARTON [Cyril] Bert Private 3120 17th August 1915 Died of wounds Luton
BERRY Harry Private 4087 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
BILLING Thomas Sergeant 3684 17th August 1915 Killed in action Wootton
BLAYDON Albert Edward Private 5073 16th August 1915 Killed in action Leagrave
BRIGHTEN Ralph Dalton Jarvis 2nd Lieutenant   15th August 1915 Killed in action Biggleswade
BROWN George Henry Private 4350 9th September 1915 Died of wounds Luton
BUCKINGHAM David William Sergeant 2911 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
BUTLER Thomas Richard William Sergeant 2445 18th August 1915 Died of wounds Wootton
BYGRAVE Frederick William Private 3684 16th September 1915 Died of wounds Bedford
CARTER Herbert Bruce Private 3005 15th August 1915 Killed in action Shefford
CAVES E Jonathan Private 4606 16th August 1915 Killed in action Marston
COUSINS Alfred Richard Private 4461 22nd August 1915 Killed in action Luton
CUMBERLAND Brian Clark Captain   15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
CURTIS Albert John Private 4746 15th August 1915 Died of wounds Bromham
DIEMER George Henry Private 3819 16th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
DIX William Private 3956 4th September 1915 Killed in action Flitwick
DRACUP Albert Frank Lance Sergeant 3026 17th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
DUMPLETON Walter Lance Corporal 3715 15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
ELLINGHAM Alfred James Private 3915 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
ELLISON James Richard Corporal 3256 16th August 1915 Killed in action Kempston
FARNHAM George Private 5037 16th August 1915 Killed in action Eaton Bray
FENSOME William Private 4487 15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
FINCH George Alfred Victor Private 3019 16th August 1915 Killed in action Dunstable
FLORIN William Joseph Private 4081 17th September 1915 Died of wounds Luton
FOLKES Frederick Acting Lance Corporal 3964 16th August 1915 Killed in action Wootton
FOSTER William Henry Sergeant 2958 17th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
FOWLER Frank F Private 5077 16th August 1915 Killed in action Arlesey
GOODSHIP Horace Private 3840 16th August 1915 Killed in action Stopsley
GRAVES Alexander Private 4489 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
GRIBBLE Arthur Private 3323 15th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
HINKS Albert Sergeant 2382 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
HOLLIMAN Percy Private 3237 26th September 1915 Died of wounds Houghton Regis
HOPKINS Thomas Acting Sergeant 3796 15th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
HOWE[S] Percy Archie Private 3178 16th August 1915 Killed in action Kempston
HURD Leonard Private 3449 16th August 1915 Died of wounds Luton
HUTCHINGS George Private 4229 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
HUTCHINGS Percy John Private 4165 3rd September 1915 Killed in action Bedford
IBBETT William George Private 3073 23rd September 1915 Died Luton
JARVIS William Corporal 3899 20th August 1915 Died of wounds Luton
KING Harry Private 5064 16th August 1915 Killed in action Meppershall
KNIGHT Albert Frederick Private 3834 15th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
LAWSON Arthur Private 5089 5th September 1915 Died of wounds Eversholt
LEWIN Ralph Private 3875 15th September 1915 Killed in action Luton
LLOYD Alfred Fieldhouse Private 4245 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
LYDEKKER Cyril Richard Lieutenant   15th August 1915 Killed in action Harpenden
MARDLE Horace Private 4065 16th August 1915 Died of wounds Caddington
MAYNARD William Jesse Private 4164 13th September 1915 Died of wounds Aspley Guise
MEAKIN Walter Kendrick Captain   15th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
MITCHELL Albert Edward Private 4401 3rd September 1915 Killed in action Luton
OVERTON Ethelbert Private 4932 16th August 1915 Killed in action Newmarket
PAGE Ernest Charles Private 3030 16th August 1915 Died of wounds St. Neots
PARKER Charles Edwin Private 3339 16th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
PAYNE Albert Corporal 2289 15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
PAYNE Nathan Sergeant 3457 15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
PERRY Frederick Ernest Private 2846 15th August 1915 Killed in action Leighton Buzzard
PUDDEPHATT Harold Fred Private 3066 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
QUICK Harold Arthur Private 4735 6th September 1915 Died of wounds Leighton Buzzard
RIMMER Frank Private 4085 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
RISING Frederick 2nd Lieutenant   15th August 1915 Killed in action Old Bedford Grammarian
ROBINSON Hedley Private 2726 24th September 1915 Died of wounds Houghton
ROBINSON Jack A W Lance Sergeant 3035 17th August 1915 Killed in action Ampthill
SHOOSMITH Frank Stewart Lieutenant   21st August 1915 Killed in action Luton
SHREEVES Maurice Private 4905 16th August 1915 Killed in action Kempston
SMITH Alfred Private 4275 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
SMITH Francis Edward Private 4277 16th August 1915 Killed in action Houghton Regis
SNOXELL Cyril Private 3099 15th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
STAPLETON William Sergeant 3959 16th August 1915 Killed in action Ampthill
STENHOUSE James or John Private 3553 17th August 1915 Died of wounds Luton
STOKES George Private 3998 18th August 1915 Died of wounds Kempston
THURLOW Frederick W Private 2762 17th August 1915 Died of wounds Luton
TOWNE Joseph Private 3744 16th August 1915 Killed in action New Harrowden
TRUEMAN Reginald Private 4108 15th August 1915 Killed in action Bedford
TUFFNELL Benjamin Private 4291 16th August 1915 Killed in action Luton
WOODCRAFT Albert Private 2928 17th August 1915 Died of wounds Flitwick

See also Steve Fuller's The Bedfordshire Regiment in the Great War

19 December 2005

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