On July 1, 1914 the Ashton Territorials, a Home Defense Force, found themselves below their permitted strength, (of 28 Officers and 977 men), having only 24 Officers and 888 men despite a recent surge of recruits in February.
When War was declared on August 4, 1914, in Ashton-under-Lyne, another wave of recruits queued to join up and within a week at least 75 men had enlisted who were later to serve overseas; many with prior military service.
On the 10th August, 1914 Lord Kitchener announced that the Territorial Force could volunteer to serve overseas and just 2 days later the Ashton Battalion accepted the invitation for Foreign Service, (with 858 men volounteering for overseas service) and became one of the four infantry battalions of the 126th (East Lancashire) Brigade. The complete list of Officers and Men of the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment as listed by the The Cheshire Reporter August 15th 1914 is here.
On the 20th August, the Ashton Territorials, 9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment, marched into Chesham Fold Camp, Bury (a tented camp at Chesham Road). Bury was the divisional headquarters of the East Lancashire Infantry Brigade, which included, the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, the 4th East Lancashires, (from Blackburn, Darwen and Clitheroe), the 5th East Lancashires, (from Burnley, Accrington, Haslingden, Baccup, Padiham and Ramsbottom), and the 10th Manchesters (from Oldham), three sections Signal Company, Headquarters Company of Engineers, Lancashire Brigade Company A.S.C., Transport and Supply, and the 2nd Field Ambulance.
On Wednesday Sept 2, 1914 the Battalion was visited by Brigadier-General D. G. PRENDERGAST commanding the East Lancashire Infantry Brigade. The following Saturday (Sept 5th) the men were asked to volounteer for overseas service by Lieut. Col. D. H. WADE, the Commanding Officer of the 9th Battalion. The Battalion entrained for Southampton, bound for Egypt, on Wednesday September 9th. The following day they boarded HMS Aragon, leaving at midnight bound for Egypt.
They arrived at Alexandria on the 25th September, and were transported to the Citadel and Kasr-el-Nil barracks, Cairo. The previous day they suffered their first casualty when Private John Bridge (1705) died of pneumonia and was buried at sea, commemorated at the Chatby Memorial, Alexandria.
Back home, recruiting continued at a healthy rate with more than 475 new recruits volounteering in October and November alone.
On Nov 1st martial law was declared throughout Egypt and Sudan and on Nov 5th war was declared against Turkey. The following promotions were gazetted on November 4, 1914 in connection with the Ashton Territorial Battalion:
Captain R.B. NOWELL to be Major.
Lieut. F.W. KERSHAW to be Captain.
Second Lieut. R.G. WOOD, W.T. FORSHAW, T.G. HYDE, J.A. PARKER and W.H. LILLIE to be Lieutenants.
Later that month the Battalion’s second death occurred when 15 year old Private Frederick Finucane (1845) died of dysentery on the 27th and was buried at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.
On December 14, 1914 the Battalion left Kasr-el-Nil for Abbassia main Barracks and on the 20th Prince Hussein Kamel became the new Sultan of Egypt. British Troops stationed in and around Cairo lined the streets as an honour guard and a show of strength to the local populace. The 9th Battalion taking charge of a section of Soliman Pasha Street.
For months the Division had undergone strenuous training and by the end of 1914 the men were drilled, acclimated and thoroughly fit.
From the beginning of 1915 the training became even more strenuous with long marches in the desert, in full marching order. And as part of their duties, from time to time, the 9th Battalion found themselves guarding the Suez Canal.
In the early hours of Feb 3rd 12,000 Turks & Germans attacked the Canal defences between Serapeum and Toussoum. They were repulsed and 1,600 prisoners taken by the Indians, Anzacs and 42nd Division but the 1/9th were not directly involved in the hostilities.
Sadly, in February and March the Battalion lost two of its senior Officers. Major WILLIAM HENRY ARCHBUTT suffered a heart attack on February 8, 1915 and Major ALBERT HILTON, the Battalion’s Medical Officer, died of disease on March 4, 1915 at the Heliopolis racecourse where the Field Ambulance was stationed. Both are buried at the Cairo War Memorial Cemetery.
On Palm Sunday, 28th March 1915, General Sir Ian Hamilton, (the newly appointed commander of the Allied Mediterranean Expeditionary Force), reviewed the Division in Cairo. Verbal orders were received for the 9th Battalion (as part of the East Lancashire Division) to prepare to move to the Dardenelles at short notice.
According to the 126th Brigade War Diary, the 1/9th arrived, by train, at Kantarra from Cairo with 32 Officers and 912 men on April 16, 1915. They spent the rest of the month defending the Suez Canal from Turkish attack.
On the 1st May, 1915 the 9th Battalion received their firm orders to leave for Gallipoli and were concentrated at Port Said by the evening of the 4th. On 5th May, the men of 9th Battalion (and 1/2 of the 10th Battalion) embarked on the HMT AUSONIA. The transport section which included horses, mules, one cart and two machine-gun carriages, along with the recently promoted Major RICHARD BOTTOMLEY NOWELL, Lt. JOHN BROADBENT* and 26 other ranks of the 1/9th embarked on HMT COMMODORE.
*Lt. JOHN BROADBENT was commissioned in 1895, served in the Boer War, reaching the rank of Major. He resigned his commission with the 1/9th in 1912 but rejoined in 1914 at the outbreak of war. He was 42 years old when he landed in Gallipoli.
Approximately two dozen men were discharged from service, (primarily due to not being physically fit enough to serve in combat), during the 3 months leading up to the Battalion’s embarkation for Gallipoli.
And at least three more men were discharged after returning home from Egypt in the following months without ever serving in Gallipoli.
On the 9th May the 9th Battalion landed under heavy fire at Sedd-el-Bahr, (V Beach), and moved quickly from the beach into bivouacs (the Commodore with the Transport section and Brigade HQ arriving on the 10th).
Context from Despatches:
The following short section seeks to put the landing of the 1/9th Manchesters into context from the selected despatches of Sir IAN HAMILTON, General, Commanding Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.
At the close of the ten days and ten nights described in my first despatch our troops had forced their way forward for some 5,000 yards from the landing places at the point of the peninsula. Opposite them lay the Turks, who since their last repulse had fallen back about half a mile upon previously prepared redoubts and entrenchments. Both sides had drawn heavily upon their stock of energy and munitions, but it seemed clear that whichever could first summon up spirit to make another push must secure at least several hundreds of yards of the debatable ground between the two fronts. And several hundred yards, whatever it might mean to the enemy, was a matter of life or death to a force crowded together under gun fire on so narrow a tongue of land.
The net result of the three days’ fighting had been a gain of 600 yards on the right of the British line and 400 yards on the left and centre. The French had captured all the ground in front of the Farm Zjimmerman, as well as a redoubt, for the possession of which there had been obstinate fighting during the whole of the past three days.
From nightfall till dawn on the 9th-10th efforts were made everywhere to push us back. A specially heavy attack was made upon the French.
On the 11th May, the first time for eighteen days and nights, it was found possible to withdraw the 29th Division from the actual firing line and to replace it by the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade and by the 42nd Division, which had completed its disembarkation two days previously.
The Nominal Roll of men of the 1/9th Manchesters landing on that day included at least the following 860 men shown below.
|Col Sgt Maj||339||MATHEW||JAMES||BUCKLEY|
And the 33 Officers landing that day, with the rank and seniority they held on landing, included:
On May 11th, the 42nd Division received orders to take over the front line. The 9th Battalion, as part of the 126th East Lancashire Brigade, were now in reserve positions behind the (127th) Manchester Brigade and the (125th) Lancashire Fusilier Brigade.
The 1/9th went into the line on May 21st and remained there until the 26th. At this time, the “line” was actually three lines; the firing line, the redoubt line and the support line each one further back from the Turkish trenches. Divisional orders for the 126th Brigade were to advance the line by digging new trenches under cover of darkness.
On May 23, Lt. Col. DOCTOR HERBERT WADE, commanding officer of the 1/9th, was shot by a sniper while stepping over some sleeping men. He was evacuated from the peninsula and did not return to the regiment until March 1916, when the Battalion was in Egypt. During his absence the 1/9th went through half-a-dozen temporary C.O.s. Major RICHARD BOTTOMLEY NOWELL temporarily assumed command on the 23rd.
On the evening of May 23/24 the 1/5th East Lancs battalion on the right and the 1/9th Manchesters in the center both advanced 100 yards by digging a series of rifle pits but the 1/10th Manchesters on the left failed in their attempt. During the night’s digging 1358 L/Cpl. GEORGE JAMES SILVESTER saw that 1413 Pte. THOMAS PENNY had been wounded and brought him back to the trenches and then went back out and returned to digging even though he himself had been wounded. Pte. PENNY died of his wounds in hospital in Malta two weeks later.
The following day, on May 24, 2/Lt. FRED JONES was shot and killed and became the first of the 1/9th Battalion’s Officers to die in Gallipoli. He would not be the last. Also on that day, Lt. Col. ARTHUR FREDERICK EGERTON, DSO (9th Royal Scots) took over command of the Battalion.
The 1/10th having failed to advance their line under cover of darkness were forced to try again during the day. The Divisional war diary reports that they were able to advance the firing line by 50 yards. The following day, on May 25, Lieut. ROBERT GARTSIDE WOOD brought back a wounded man of the 1/10th Manchesters but was seriously wounded in the leg. Evacuated by hospital ship to Malta, he declined to have his leg amputated en route, and surgeons managed to save it after two operations. Lieut. WOOD was awarded the Military Cross in November 1915 for his actions that day.
On May 25th, the designation of the Division was changed and as the 42nd East Lancashire Division it took precedence in numerical order over the other Territorial Divisions.
Meanwhile, on May 24, Lieutenant-General Sir Aylmer Gould Hunter-Weston was promoted to acting Lieutenant-General and placed in command of VIII Corps (29th Division, the Royal Naval Division, 42nd Division and the 49th Indian Infantry Brigade). On May 27 he issued orders to immediately and simultaneously advance the front line trenches across the whole of the British and French fronts to within assault distance (200 yards) of the Turkish trenches. This they mostly accomplished over the following days.
Note: The primary difference between Killed in Action (KIA) and Died of Wounds (DoW) is that men designated as Died of Wounds were deaths recorded in the medical evacuation chain rather than on the battlefield. Also note that some of the men listed as Killed in Action were actually Missing in Action and their bodies were never recovered or otherwise identified.
Note: The list of Casualties provided here (and in the tables below for each month) is the list of men appearing in the London Times daily casualty lists published throughout the following month. Anecdotal evidence from local newspaper reports indicate that many more men were wounded but they are not listed here.
1358 L/Cpl. GEORGE JAMES SILVESTER, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Although wounded on 20th May 1915, he continued to perform his duties, and showed the highest courage on 25th May in aiding the wounded under fire. [Gazetted Sept 15, 1915]
Additionally, 1904 Pte. J. E. TAYLOR, 1155 Pte. W. BURKE and Lt. R. G. WOOD were all recommended for gallantry for their actions on May 25th. Pte. Burke carrying Lt. RG Wood from the trench to the Field Ambulance and Pte. Taylor rescuing another man while under fire. All three men were subsequently mentioned in despatches, as reported in the London Gazette of November 5, 1915.
Now that the 8th Army Corps front line had been painstakingly moved closer to the Turkish front lines, orders were issued to attack them on June 4th, the attack to be preceded by heavy artillery fire. This action was to become known as the Third Battle of Krithia. This action and the subsequent operations in June resulted in the deaths of at least 110 Officers and men of the Battalion.
Context from Despatches:
This brings the narrative up to the day of the general attack upon the enemy’s front line of trenches which ran from the west of the Kereves Dere in a northerly direction to the sea. Taking our line of battle from right to left the troops were deployed in the following order: -The Corps Expeditionnaire, the Royal Naval Division, the 42nd (East Lancs) Division and the 29th Division. The length of the front, so far as the British troops were concerned, was rather over 4,000 yards, and the total infantry available amounted to 24,000 men.
On the stroke of noon the artillery increased their range and along the whole line the infantry fixed bayonets and advanced. The assault was immediately successful.
The attack, timed for 3 p.m., was twice postponed at the request of General Gouraud, who finally reported that he would be unable to advance again that day with any prospect of success. By 6.30 p.m., therefore, the 42nd Division had to be extricated with loss from the second line Turkish trenches, and had to content themselves with consolidating on the first line which they had captured within five minutes of commencing the attack.
Although we had been forced to abandon so much of the ground gained in the first rush, the net result of the day’s operations was considerable- namely, an advance of 200 to 400 yards along the whole of our centre, a front of nearly 3 miles.
The Manchester Brigade of the 42nd Division advanced magnificently. In five minutes the first line of Turkish trenches were captured, and by 12.30 p.m. the Brigade had carried with a rush the line forming their second objective, having made an advance of 600 yards in all. The working parties got to work without incident, and the position here could not possibly have been better.
By 1.30 p.m. the whole of the captured trenches in this section had been lost again, and the Brigade was back in its original position, the ”Collingwood” Battalion, which had gone forward in support, having been practically destroyed. The question was now whether this rolling up of the newly captured line from the right would continue until the whole of our gains were wiped out. It looked very like it, for now the enfilade fire of the Turks began to fall upon the Manchester Brigade of the 42nd Division, which was firmly consolidating the furthest distant line of trenches it had so brilliantly won. After 1.30 p.m. it became increasingly difficult for this gallant Brigade to hold its ground. Heavy casualties occurred; the Brigadier and many other officers were wounded or killed; yet it continued to hold out with the greatest tenacity and grit.
The 1/9th went into the line on June 3rd and remained there until they were relieved on June 22nd.
The result of the recent actions were that on the morning of June 7th the 125th Brigade reported that the 1/6 Lancs Fusiliers were not able to be relieved due to a Turkish machine gun flanking their position. The Brigade proposed an attack, supported by artillery, along a line from the S.E. corner of the Vineyard to the Western Nullah. The objective of the 1/9th in the center was to capture trench G.11.
After dark on 7th June 100 men of C company of the 9th Battalion, along with two Companies of the Chatham Battalion of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Royal Naval Division engaged in a frontal assault of the Turkish front line trenches. Although the 9th battalion succeeded in taking the Turkish trench, the Royal Naval Division failed to achieve their objective. Consequently, the 1/9th had to relinquish the trenches they had just captured at dawn.
Capt. GEORGE HAROLD OKELL and Lieut. ALBERT EDWARD STRINGER led the charge against one trench, and Capt. FRANK HAMER and 2/Lieut. JOHN (JACK) MAYALL WADE against the other trench. Capt. HAMER fell before reaching the trench. Lieut. STRINGER succeeded in reaching the trench but was subsequently killed by the enfilading fire from a machine gun. At least 20 men were killed and many more wounded.
Context from Despatches (Continued):
From the date of this battle to the end of the month of June the incessant attacks and counter-attacks which have so grievously swelled our lists of casualties have been caused by the determination of the Turks to regain ground they had lost, a determination clashing against our firm resolve to continue to increase our holding. Several of these daily encounters would have been the subject of a separate despatch in the campaigns of my youth and middle age, but, with due regard to proportion, they cannot even be so much as mentioned here.
On June 9th 2/Lt. PHILIP SIDNEY MARSDEN was reported wounded and on June 12, 2/Lt. ALLAN HARRISON HUDSON was reported missing (later reported to have been killed). Three days later Major MICHAEL HENRY CONNERY, the Battalion’s Quarter Master was slightly wounded when a Turkish shell hit his dug-out.
An attack was planned to retake trench H.11 which had been partially re-taken by the Turks. However, 30 minutes before the attack the Turks heavily shelled the position causing the 88th Brigade to withdraw from the left. The allied attack was repulsed by the Turks who were already massed in the trenches for their own attack. They then counter-attacked causing trenches H.10 and H.11 to be entirely lost along with one machine gun and one trench mortar.
The initial attack was undertaken by B Company and included 2/Lt. JOHN MAYALL WADE and 2/Lt. ARTHUR WILLIAM FIELD CONNERY of C Company who had both volounteered to join them. Capt. HAROLD SUGDEN lead the attack and was mortally wounded. 2/Lt. WADE was seen jumping into a Turkish trench with six men and was never seen again.
The Turkish counter-attack was against a trench held by some men of C Company along with men of the 1/10th Manchesters. By the end of the fighting 2 Officers and 30 men had been killed, with dozens more wounded.
On June 22, 2/Lt. EDWARD BALMFOD and 16 men arrived from England, the first reinforcements to do so. An additional four men arriving on the 25th.
The Battalion left the line on June 22nd but the next day the bivouac was heavily shelled requiring the 1/9th to move a further 600 yards back to their old bivouac but not before 9 men had been wounded. This just after they had suffered so heavily in the line.
July was a month of consolidation for the 42nd Division. The 1/9th were in the trenches from July 2 to July 18, then going to bivouac at divisional reserve. However, the number of deaths due to sickness and disease started to rise.
On July 2, four new Officers arrived and were assigned to the 1/9th; Lt. ARTHUR CLAUDE VYVYAN-ROBINSON, (10th South Lancs Regiment), Lt. SAMUEL PORTER, Lt. JAMES P. KNOWLES and 2/Lt. HARRY YORSTON DIXON all of the 11th Yorks and Lancs Regiment. Lt. PORTER and 2/Lt. DIXON were assigned to C company.
C company lost two Officers in early July. On July 5th 2/Lt. ARTHUR WILLIAM FIELD CONNERY was badly wounded in the mouth by shrapnel and went to hospital. Shortly after, on July 7th, 2/Lt. JOHN MATLEY ROBSON went to hospital with fever and died of enteric fever on July 17 in Egypt.
On July 10 2/Lieut. OLIVER JEPSON SUTTON and 969 Sgt. HARRY GRANTHAM made a reconnaissance at night, using string to measure their distance from their trench, and discovered that the Turks were digging to the S.E. of trench G12. They repeated their reconnaissance the following night to verify their observations.
On July 14, the recently arrived, 2/Lt. HARRY YORSTON DIXON was killed by shrapnel during an advance by 52nd Division and 2/Lt. EDWARD BALMFORD and 15 men were wounded. Two weeks later, on July 27, Lt. JAMES KNOWLES and 14 men were wounded.
On July 23, reinforcements arrived from England for all Infantry units of the 42nd Division. The 1/9th received 5 Officers and 222 men. The Officers arriving that day were:
Lt. DOUGLAS BUCHANAN STEPHENSON
2/Lt. WILLIAM MARSDEN BARRATT
2/Lt. SYDNEY WILLIAM RUTTENAU
2/Lt. HARDOLD INGHAM
2/Lt. WILLIAM GILBERT GREENWOOD
969 Sgt. HARRY GRANTHAM, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry and ability south of Krithia, Gallipoli Peninsula, on 10th and 11th July 1915, when making a reconnaissance of the enemy’s new trenches under very dangerous circumstances. He gained valuable information and located the hostile positions. [Gazetted Sept 15, 1915].
Capt. OLIVER JEPSON SUTTON, MC
The War Diary for the 1/9th Battalion notes that both Sgt. GRANTHAM and Capt. SUTTON were congratulated by the Division Major-General for their reconnaisance work. Capt. SUTTON was subsequently awarded the Military Cross. [Gazetted Feb 1, 1916].
August saw the Battalion heavily engaged in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard from the 7th – 9th August and the rigours of front line trench warfare throughout the rest of the month.
Context from Despatches:
Once the date was decided a certain amount of ingenuity had to be called into play so as to divert the attention of the enemy from my main strategical conception. This-I repeat for the sake of clearness-was: –
(1) To break out with a rush from Anzac and cut off the bulk of the Turkish Army from land communication with Constantinople.
(2) To gain such a command for my artillery as to cut off the bulk of the Turkish Army, from sea traffic whether with Constantinople or with Asia.
(3) Incidentally, to secure Suvla Bay as a winter base for Anzac and all the troops operating in the northern theatre.
My schemes for hoodwinking the Turks fell under two heads: First, strategical diversions, meant to draw away enemy reserves not yet committed to the peninsula. Secondly, tactical diversions meant to hold up enemy reserves already on the peninsula.
But upon the 6th of August attacks in the south were only to form a subsidiary part of one great concerted attack. Anzac was to deliver the knock-down blow; Helles and Suvla were complementary operations.
As the aim of my action in this southern zone was to advance if I could, but in any case to contain the enemy and prevent him reinforcing to the northwards, I persevered on the 7th with my plans, notwithstanding the counter-attack of the Turks which was actually in progress.
On the right and on the centre the first enemy line was captured, and small parties pushed on to the second line, where they were unable to maintain themselves for long. On the, left but little ground was gained, and by 11a.m. what little had been taken had been relinquished. But in the centre a stiff battle raged all day up and down a vineyard some 200 yards long by 100 yards broad on the west of the Krithia road. A large portion of the vineyard had been captured in the first dash, and the East Lancashire men in this part of the field gallantly stood their ground here against a succession of vigorous counter-attacks.
Two specially furious counter-attacks were delivered by the Turks on the 8th August, one at 4.40 a.m. and another at 8.30 p.m., where again our bayonets were too much for them. Throughout the night they made continuous bomb attacks, but the 6th Lancashire Fusiliers and the 4th East Lancashire Regiment stuck gamely to their task at the eastern corner of the vineyard. There was desperate fighting also at the northern corner, where the personal bravery of Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, 1/9th Manchester Regiment who stuck to his post after his detachment had been relieved (an act for which he has since been awarded the V.C.), was largely instrumental in the repulse of three very determined onslaughts.
The 1/9th went into the trenches on Aug 7, remaining there until Aug 13, and were divided into two separate groups.
On Aug 7, Lt. SAMUEL PORTER was mortally wounded and Major RICHARD BOTTOMLEY NOWELL and Lt. OLIVER JEPSON SUTTON were both wounded.
On Aug 22 a draft of 4 Officers and 145 men (formerly of the 2/9th Battalion) arrived from England as reinforcements for the 1/9th. The Officers arriving that day were:
2/Lt. PERCY ASPDEN WOODHOUSE
2/Lt. HAROLD HARRISON KNIGHT
2/Lt. THOMAS AINSWORTH
Hon Lt. JOSEPH MICHAEL CONNERY*
* Another son of Major M.H. CONNERY the Battalion’s Quarter Master.
Lt. WILLIAM THOMAS FORSHAW, VC
For most conspicuous bravery and determination in the Gallipoli Peninsula from 7th to 9th August, 1915. When holding the north-west corner of the “Vineyard” he was attacked and heavily bombed by Turks, whoi advanced time after time by three trenches which converged at this point, but he held his own, not only directing his men and encouraging them by by exposing himself with the utmost disregard to danger, but personally throwing bombs continuously for 41 hours. When his detachment was relieved after 24 hours he volunteered to continue the direction of operations. At three times during the night of 8-9th August he was again heavily attacked, and once the Turks got over the barricade, but, after shooting three with his revolver. he led his men forward and recaptured it. When he rejoined his Battalion he was choked and sickened by bomb fumes, badly bruised by a fragment of shrapnel, and could barely lift his arm from continuous bomb throwing. It was due to his personal example, magnificent courage and endurance that this very important corner was held. [Gazetted Sept 9, 1915]
180 Cpl. SAMUEL BAYLEY, DCM
For conspicuous bravery on the 7th and 9th August 1915, at Cape Helles (Dardenelles), Cpl. BAYLEY remained with Lt. FORSHAW, VC; holding a barricade for forty-one hours continuously. On the evening of 8th August his party was relieved by another unit, but he volounteered to remain on. He displayed the greatest gallantry and endurance under the most trying circumstances in repelling many severe attacks, and when the barricade was at last broken through he was the foremost in the successful counter-attack, led by Lt. FORSHAW, which regained it, and finally retained it. On being ultimately relieved he was utterly exhausted by his arduous and gallant work of bomb-throwing. [Gazetted Nov 16, 1915]
2148 L/Cpl. STANLEY PEARSON, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry on the 7th and 8th August 1915, at Gallipoli, when acting as a look-out man and sniper. He displayed great bravery and skill and although enfiladed from both flanks he remained at his post and by his example gave great encouragement to all with him. [Gazetted March 11, 1916]
2103 L/Cpl. THOMAS PICKFORD, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry on the 8th August, 1915, at Gallipoli, when he rallied his party, which had been driven back by bombs in the Barricade of the Vineyard, and by his bravery and example was largely instrumental in saving a precarious position. [Gazetted March 11, 1916]
1347 Pte. REGINALD POTTS
On August 12, Pte. POTTS volounteered to join the bombing party of the 1/4th East Lancashire Regiment and subsequently was issued a Congratulatory Card for gallantry. [War Diary Aug 26th]
2/Lt. CHARLES EARSHAM COOKE, MC
The Battalion War Diary notes that the Brigadier-General of the 126th Brigade personally congratulated the commanding officer of the 1/9th Manchesters on the gallant behavior of Lt. FORSHAW, 2/Lt. COOKE and the 2 platoons under them. 2/Lt. COOKE was subsequently awarded the Military Cross. [Gazetted Feb 1, 1916]
September brought a welcome relief from the intense fighting of previous months but for the first time the number of sick exceeded those of the killed and wounded. As the number of men reporting sick increased, the 126th Brigade began to record the numbers of sick per Battalion, starting on September 14th. In the second half of September 104 men of the 1/9th went onto the sick list.
On Sept 1, Capt. FRANK WOODHOUSE went to hospital sick.
On the evening of Sept 2, Lt. ARTHUR CLAUDE VYVYAN-ROBINSON and a party of 14 men were detailed to dig a trench joining the current Firing Line with the Northern Barricade. As they made their way in the dark they lost their bearings, going too far East, and were fired on by the Royal Naval Division. Lt. VYVYAN-ROBINSON was wounded, one man was reported missing and three were wounded. A court of enquiry was held and the details passed to the Division.
The next day, on Sept 3 at around 2pm, the Turks exploded a mine right under a sap known as FOUR HOLE POST in the Firing Line where the 1/9th were located. The explosion destroyed the Sap and 12 yards of the Firing Line, killing 2 men and wounding 3 others. Four additional men were extracted suffering from shock.
On Sept 10 Lt. Col. ROBERT WORGAN FALCON, temporary commanding officer of the 1/9th reported sick. He was replaced the next day by Major RODERICK LIVINGSTONE LEES of the 1/6 Lancs Fusiliers who had distinguished himself in August at the Battle of Krithia Vineyard.
The 1/9th went into the trenches on September 18th and remained there until October 1st. A few days later on Sept 20 Capt. GEORGE WILLIAM HANDFORTH reported sick. He was quickly followed by Lt. WILLIAM GILBERT GREENWOOD on the 22nd and by Lt. HAROLD EDWARD BUTTERWORTH on the 25th.
On Sept 27 Major RODERICK LIVINGSTONE LEES was awarded the DSO and on Sept 30 he relinquished command of the 1/9th and Major WILLIAM JAMES ANDERSON (of the 33rd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) assumed command.
October saw the number of men reporting sick spike to 143 even as the number of killed and wounded dropped to the lowest levels of the campaign.
The 1/9th were relieved from the trenches on October 1st and moved to Divisional Reserve at GEOGHEGAN’S BLUFF. Here they were mostly engaged in fatigues supporting the extensive mining and digging work going on in the trenches. They later moved to Bivouac at GULLY BEACH.
On October 6th a small draft of 25 other ranks arrived. The following day a draft of 5 Officers from other regiments (Essex and South Lancs) arrived and were assigned temporarily to the 1/9th.
2/Lt. JOHN BROADBENT of the transport section also reported sick this day followed by Capt. DOUGLAS BUCHANAN STEPHENSON on October 10th.
On October 14th the Battalion moved back to the line; half the Battalion with the 1/10th Manchesters and half with the 1/5th East Lancs. The split made for tactical reasons to maximize the use of senior Officers and NCOs across the Brigade. A & C companies attached to the 1/5th East Lancs under Capt. FRANK WOODHOUSE and B & D companies to the 1/10th Manchesters under Capt. FREDERICK WILLIAM KERSHAW. The Battalion remained in the trenches until October 29th.
On October 16, Capt. ERIC RICHARDSON was appointed Staff Captain of the 126th Brigade and left the Battalion.
On October 19th Major WILLIAM JAMES V. ANDERSON was killed by a bomb while visiting the trenches. He was temporarily replaced by Lt. Col. GODFREY WALKER ROBINSON of the 1/10th Manchesters.
On October 23 a draft of 3 Officers and 139 men, of the 2/9th Battalion, arrived from England. The Officers arriving that day were:
Lt. PERCY AINSWORTH
2/Lt. BELTRAM FORD ROBINSON
2/Lt. WILLIAM HENRY DEMEL
On October 26th a further 11 Officers and 11 other ranks arrived from England. The Officers arriving this day were:
October brought only three fatalities at Gallipoli, Pte. Armitage dying at home from sickness contracted overseas.
The only man listed in the following month’s London Times casualty lists was 1179 Pte. SAMUEL E. BOSNALL.
Disease, sickness and heavy rain that turned to snow blizzards and frost in November of 1915 created new hardships and claimed yet more casualties. The 9th Battalions numbers were dwindling fast despite three significant drafts of reinforcements from England arriving in July, August and October.
In November 117 men reported sick, a slight reduction from the previous month. Nevertheless, 3 Officers (Capt. FREDERICK WILLIAM KERSHAW, Lt. L. G. NASH, RAMC (attached) and 2/Lt. WILLIAM NEVILLE BROADBENT BURY) all reported sick on the same day, November 9th.
The Battalion moved into the line again on November 12th and remained there until November 26th. On the 15th a very heavy ranfall occurred filling some parts of the trenches to a depth of 3 feet. Despite the terrible conditions the Turks were relatively quiet until the 23rd when heavy shelling and a large number (40-50) stick grenades were fired at the trenches. 2/Lt. IRVINE DEARNLEY was killed this day.
On the 26th November the Battalion was relieved and went into Bivouac in GULLY RAVINE. A period of heavy fatigues followed for the remainder of the month. On November 29, 2/Lt. SYDNEY NAYLOR, recently arrived the pevious month, was wounded.
Context from Despatches:
During the month of November, beyond the execution of very clever and successful minor enterprises carried out by Corps Commanders with a view to maintaining an offensive spirit in their commands, there remains little to record-except that an increased activity of the the Turkish artillery against our front became a noticeable factor.
On the 21st November the Peninsula was visited by a storm said to be nearly unprecedented for the time of the year. The storm was accompanied by torrential rain, which lasted for 24 hours. This was followed by hard frost and a heavy blizzard.
In December 54 men reported sick. 2/Lt. ARTHUR JAMES SOUTHCOTT reported sick on December 5th, returning to the Battalion (from 17th Stationary Hospital) on the 10th. The next day he reported sick again. In the meantime, 2/Lt. GEORGE FREDERICK BARKER, (who arrived with 2/Lt. SOUTHCOTT in November), also reported sick on December 8th.
2/Lt. LAIRD KIRWAN and 2/Lt. GEORGE GREENE-KELLY were transferred to the 1/10th Manchesters on the 8th December.
The Battalion went into the Line on December 10th and remained there until December 24th, moving to Divisional Reserve at GEOGHEGAN’S BLUFF. On December 17th Brigade Operational Order 28 was issued outlining a plan to explode a mine in front of the Turkish trenches with the objective of creating a crater. Men of the Brigade would go out the the crater and secure it by building barricades. The purpose of these small offensive operations carried out by the 52nd and 42nd Divisions was to act as a distraction during the evacuation of troops elsewhere on the peninsula.
Unfortunately, the mine that was exploded (600lbs at a depth of 40 ft) failed to produce a crater, the force of the explosion creating a ridge of earth only about 1 ft high. 16 bombers, a working party under 2/Lt. ALFRED GRAY and 26 men of B company dutifully went over the top and occupied the depression. With the Turkish trenches untouched, they were mercilessly shot at from the front and the right. Finding the position intennable the troops eventually were forced to retire. The casualties reported for the 1/9th on the day were 3 killed, 1 missing and 11 wounded. 2/Lt. GRAY, Sgt. GREENHALGH and Cpl. BARKER were mentioned in the Brigade war diary for showing “great courage and ability remaining out and covering the retirement of the parties although fired at from 12yds range.”
On the 26th December, orders were received to leave the Peninsula, and on the 27th a Turkish shell made a direct hit on the Battalion bivouac killing a number of men in a cruel last minute reminder of the constant dangers they were leaving behind. Pte. Arthur Slater was buried alive and only survived because he was dug out by his comrades. The next day the 9th Battalion embarked on H.M.T. Redbreast bound for Mudros West.
Context from Despatches:
The following is taken from Sir Charles Monro’s Gallipoli Despatch, who was sent to replace the sacked Sir Ian Hamilton as Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.
On the 8th December, consequent on your Lordship’s orders, I directed the General Officer Commanding Dardanelles Army to proceed with the evacuation of Suvla and Anzac at once.
Lieutenant-General Birdwood proceeded on receipt of his orders with the skill and promptitude which is characteristic of all that he undertakes, and after consultation with Rear-Admiral Wemyss, it was decided, provided the weather was propitious, to complete the evacuation on the night of the 19th-20th December.
On the 24th December, General Sir W. Birdwood was directed to make all preliminary preparations for immediate evacuation, in the event of orders to this effect being received.
At least 192 men of the 1/9th Battalion died from the fighting, sickness or disease they encountered at Gallipoli in 1915. Many more men were wounded or otherwise hospitalized and approximately 100 men were awarded the Silver War Badge and discharged from service due to sickness or wounds they were unable to fully recover from.
Pte. Fred Dickinson, (3765), serves as an example. He was discharged as permanently unfit for any kind of military service and awarded the Silver War Badge on March 23, 1916 suffering from Nephritis. His Service Record shows that his medical issues “originated on December 18, 1915 in Gallipoli. Sent into hospital in Cairo on account of general dropsy and discovered to be suffering from Nephritis. No history of previous illness of a similar nature. States that while on active service in the trenches he had to stand waist deep in water for a considerable time during a severe storm. Heart sounds fine but there is an accentuated sound heard at the apex. Urine contained albumen and blood is still present. Result of active service, exposure to cold and wet. Permanent [Disability].”
Pte. Dickinson only arrived in the Dardenelles on October 22, 1915 and was admitted to the Red Cross Hospital in Giza, just over two months later, on December 26 suffering from oedema to the legs (a swelling due to the accumulation of excessive fluid in the tissues). He was subsequently invalided to the UK leaving Alexandria on January 17, 1916 sailing on the Hospital Ship GLENGORN CASTLE. He was subsequently treated in the UK for 38 days at the 4th Scottish General Hospital, RAMC (Territorial Force) at Stobhill, Glasgow. He received a small, and decreasing, military pension over the next nine months following his discharge.
The Battalion War Diary on December 18 reports that three Congratulatory Cards from the Major-General Commanding the Division were received for:
No 5 QMS G BOOCOCK
400 Sgt. Mjr. Cook JOHN CHAPMAN
1659 Pte. P. WOODRUFF
And, in a rather belated recognition of their efforts, the Battalion War Diary for March 1916 reported that Cards of Congratulation were received from the Major-General Commanding the 42nd Division, for good work done in Gallipoli for the following men:
341 Sgt. JOHN LEE
2146 Cpl. PLATT A.
728 L/Cpl. GREEN A.
2826 Pte. SMITH A.
2231 Pte. WILLIAM SHEEKEY
2067 Pte. JOSEPH S. SWINDELLS
2231 Pte. WILLIAM SHEEKEY was additionally awarded the Serbian Silver Medal of Valour and was Gazetted Feb 15, 1917.
By early January the 9th Battalion had left Mudros and were back in Egypt on guard duties of the Suez Canal. They spent the next six months moving up and down the Suez Canal on guard or outpost duty, at one point stationed in the desert at Kabrit where work was carried out preparing the defensive positions.
The Battalion returned to Suez in early April where they were once again placed on guard duty of the Suez Canal. Training and route marches were the order of the day and more than 500 reinforcements joined the Battalion during their time around the Suez Canal.
On April 26th the Battalion suffered 2 fatalities and several wounded during a training exercise when a bomb exploded accidentally. And the next day a man was accidentally killed when he was shot as another man cleaned his weapon which accidentally discharged. Other than this there was little danger from hostile forces faced by the Battalion during this time, their main threat being sickness and disease brought on by unsanitary conditions and the harsh summer climate of the Sinai desert.
Note 1: These men died and were buried in the UK (St. Paul’s Stalybridge and Dukinfield Cemetery respectively) and so it is unlikely that they served in Egypt in 1916.
During 1916 several Officers and men were officially recognized for their long exemplary service and for individual acts of bravery in Gallipoli as prior recommendations worked their way through the honours process..
1792 L/Cpl. A. DAVIES, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry when covering a retirement under a very heavy fire at a few yards range. [Gazetted June 21, 1916]
1623 Sgt. JAMES GREENHALGH, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry when covering a retirement under a very heavy fire at a few yards range. [Gazetted June 21, 1916]
1083 Pte. SAMUEL LITTLEFORD, DCM
For conspicuous gallantry in flinging a lighted bomb over the parapet, and thus probably saving many casualties. He was himself wounded in the arm by the explosion. [Gazetted June 21, 1916]
From August the Battalion left the Canal and embarked upon a long and trying march Eastwards along the northern railway line of the Sinai Desert following the retreat of the Turkish forces after their failure at the Battle of Romani. From this point onwards the defence of the Suez Canal was complete as no further enemy threat was possible.
On March 4, 1917, the same day that the Battalion embarked for France, the final Egyptian casualty, Private JAMES KERR (1984), died of pneumonia in Hospital in Ismailia. He was buried at the Ismailia War Memorial Cemetery.
On the 4th March the 9th Battalion embarked on HMT Arcadian bound for France. They disembarked at Marseilles on 11th March and moved by train to Pont Remy, arriving there on the 14th March. From Pont Remy the 42nd Division was moved to an area ten miles east of Amiens, there the 9th Battalion was issued with rifles and steel helmets. They began training on the tactics of trench warfare, trench digging, route marches were also order of the day.
On the 21st March, 1917 Private ARNOLD PEARSON (351087 formerly 2787) was killed in action. He is commemorated at Pozieres Memorial.
The 9th battalion moved to Haquaix on 18th April, and on the evening of 22nd April they took over a section of the front line and support line at Epehy; the first time they had been in the front lines since Gallipoli.
They went into a reserve area on 9th July, undertaking various training exercises and rest.
On the 22nd August they were entrained bound for Ypres and suffered only one death, Private JOSEPH REYNER (350880) who died of wounds on August 30, 1917 and is buried at Ruyaulcourt Military Cemetery.
In September the 42nd Division took over a sector almost a mile in width, enduring appalling conditions due to bad weather and constant heavy enemy shellfire.
The 9th battalion left the front line at the end of September and took over the coastal defence at the Nieuport front, under constant shellfire and aerial attack. In December the battalion went into the line near Bethune with the 10th battalion.
During this period the following casualties were recorded:
The battalion moved to Gorre on the 24th January where trench warfare continued with raids from both sides. In a raid on the 11th February, 1918 the battalion went over the top in a successful action in the sector opposite Festubert, with artillery stopping any German escape or reinforcements.
On the 15th March the battalion was withdrawn to the Busnes/Burbure/Fouquieres area. The army was going through a dramatic reconstruction at this time with brigades being reduced from 4 to 3 battalions. Some 260 officers and men of the 9th joined with the 2/9th while 210 others joined the 1/5th and the 1/6th. Other men were used to supply drafts to under strength battalions, like the 1st Notts & Derby Regiment.
Those left in the battalion remained as a training cadre. In August 1918 they absorbed the 13th Manchesters and were later reconstituted as the 9th battalion. They ended the war in Soire le Chateau near Avesnes.
Much of the original text for 1918 was taken from the www.themanchesters.org and is their copyright.