Rupert Brooke had hoped that the Gallipoli
campaign would be a turning point in history. For many years after the end of the Great
War Gallipoli was seen as an adventurous sideshow and in no way a turning point in
history. However, eventually it was put forward that the campaign could be justified when
seen as part of a general strategy. It was not a blunder and had tremendous potential it
was said. Its success could have prevented the Russians from capitulating and the Russian
revolution would not have taken place. Nevertheless the cost in human life was tremendous.
The Turkish Army suffered over 250,000 in killed, wounded and missing whilst British
casualties amounted to over 200,000 men. Among these were several of Rupert Brookes
The actual landings took place on 25th April
1915 and the plans were excellent but inflexible. Brooke's friend S/Lt Johnny Dodge and
his platoon from the Hood battalion were detached and were put aboard the River Clyde and
they were one of the first units to land at 'V' Beach. It was on this beach that S/Lt
Dodge was badly wounded.
On the 28th April the Royal Naval
Division was temporarily broken up and the Hood battalion landed the following day at "V" beach at the end of
the Peninsular. The scene as they landed was a terrible one. There were heaps of bodies
with about 20/30 in each heap. The next day the battalion went forward to take its place
in the line.
A hill called Achi Baba about 700 feet in
height dominated the entire area, enabling the Turkish Army dug in on its slopes to view
the whole of the British activity below. The Hood battalion was to take part in an attempt
to drive the Turks from these heights. Thus on 6th May 1915 the Hood battalion
moved off up the Achi Baba Nullah in sight of Achi Baba hill some 2 miles away. Soon they
came under heavy enemy fire taking heavy casualties as they went forward attacking in
Lt.Cmdre Freyberg had reached a shack called
White House an advance of about 1000 yards and here the depleted battalion was instructed
to halt. At one stage Shaw Stewart, Denis Browne and 8 Other Ranks found themselves in the
Brigades foremost position just ahead of the White House. The very popular C.O. Lieutenant-Colonel Quilter had been
shot in the chest quite early in the battalions advance and died soon afterwards. He
is now buried in Skew Bridge Cemetery.
In the attack, the Hood had casualties totalling 10 Officers and 343 men
By the 27th May the battalion had
advanced another half-mile at a cost of some 50 casualties. But static warfare now set in.
On the 4th June the battalion went
on the attack again suffering tremendous casualties. So great that the battalion was
ordered to retire. Denis Browne
on reaching the Turkish
trenches had jumped in and bayoneted a Turk but was immediately shot in the shoulder.
Another bullet fired at close range hit the belt buckle on his webbing equipment and drove
it in to his body causing him to faint. Recovering he offered his watch and money to a
Petty Officer standing by him. But they were refused. The senior rating did, however,
accept Brownes pocket book before he had to retreat. The ground was immediately
taken by the Turks and Brownes body was never found. The P.O. later gave the pocket
book to Shaw Stewart who found inside it a letter for Edward Marsh, Winston
Churchills secretary. He had written:- "Ive gone now
luckier than Rupert because Ive fought." He was 26 years old. His name is
inscribed on the panels of the Helles Memorial.
The battalion was too weak to be employed in
other than manning the trench lines but even so casualties were occurring regularly and on
the 23rd August Charles Lister was hit by shrapnel in the stomach dying from
his wounds on 28th August 1915. He is buried in East Mudros Military Cemetery,
Lemnos. Patrick Shaw Stewart wrote of him:- "The men, both stokers and recruits
adored him. They always called him Lord Lister.
By October 1915 thoughts were being given to
evacuating the peninsular. Two days later the Commander General Hamilton, was recalled
from Gallipolli. One of his last actions was to inspect the Hood battalion where he spoke
to Freyberg and Kelly. By the 7/8th January 1916 the R.N.D. had left
Gallipolli. Its nine months service there had cost the Division 332 Officer casualties
(including 133 dead) and 7198 Other Ranks casualties.
The Division returned to Lemnos to
re-organise. Here the Hood battalion was inspected by General Paris who quite rightly was
very proud of the Division and said so. However, in the course of his speech he said that
no leave in England would be granted but instead all hands would be given 10 days shore
leave in Malta. This was not well received by the Hood battalion and when a call was made
for three cheers to be given to General Paris the men gave him a "raspberry".
The General then cancelled all leave for the battalion and confined all ranks to barracks
for five days.
In February substantial reinforcements
arrived and the decision was then taken to send the Division to the Western Front.
By the 21st May 1916 the Hood battalion had
landed in France.
A VIRTUAL TOUR
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