With thanks and acknowledgement to Colonel Andy Taylor, who spoke movingly about the Herefordshire Regiment’s involvement in the Gallipoli Campaign at a Kington Conversation on 24th July 2015. This article has been based extensively on his talk.
On 9th August 1915, 25 Officers and 750 men of the 1st Battalion of the Herefordshire Regiment went ashore at C beach, Suvla Bay, on the Gallipoli Peninsula, as part of the 53rd Welsh Division commended by Major-General Lindley. ANZAC forces had been on the peninsula since April.
In common with the other landings, the Herefordshires also had its share of confusion, with the Commanding Officer having no maps and no clear orders. The Division and the regiment were greatly disadvantaged, having no artillery (which had been left behind in England under orders for France) and no horses.
Landing on broad beaches to the north of the other invasion forces, there was no apparent opposition to their landing. However, as the Turks held high ground overlooking the landing area, nowhere in the area was safe from artillery fire.
They were immediately involved in the fighting. Following the landing, the regiment received orders to advance along a dried up river course, to meet up with the Sherwood Foresters at a designated point. They moved in a spread-out formation, designed to provide some protection from concentrated artillery fire. Their course took them through dry scrub country, under constant fire. During the course of the deployment, two companies drifted off to the left, away from the main line of the deployment. The remaining two companies reached the assigned point, but with no sign of the Sherwood Foresters. The Herefordshires set up camp – and were then ordered to go back to the beach from which they had just come. During the march to the liaison point, they had suffered many casualties, but fortunately no fatalities. On arrival back at the beach, they discovered that their commanding officer had been wounded, and the second in command of the regiment went to the Brigade Commander, who said they should be at the liaison point at the river – from which they had just come. This type of confusion marked out the progress of the overall campaign. The two remaining companies marched back along the route of the dry river bed and through the dry scrub……
At this initial stage, possibly as many as 300 out of a total of 700 men had suffered injury – thus 40% of the battalion having been put out of action.
Following the initial actions after the landing, a substantial support area was developed at Suvla Bay, clearly intended to provide support for a break out from the area. This did not happen. The campaign there bogged down into trench warfare, similar to that on the Western Front. Stalemate ensued for the next few months.
At the end of November 1915, the onset of heavy winter rains made conditions intolerable. Water off the hills flooded down the dry water-courses that the British forces were using as their communication lines. Equipment, and men, were washed down with the torrents of water. Many of the men were still in summer uniforms, and unable to cope with the cold – after the rains, the temperature dropped down to freezing – and the wet. Conditions were already insanitary and with poor rations, with drinking water having to be imported from Egypt. Even before the floods, the casualty figures from illness were very bad. It has been estimated that at any one time, 30% of the men in the field were ill.
At this point, the Herefordshires were in the front line, were relieved and sent back to the sand dunes (which the men did not like as when in the rear area, they were required to do fatigues). It is recorded that on one night, 12 men died of exposure. In that November, 350 men from the Herefordshires alone were evacuated for non battle reasons – out of a total of around 500 remaining.
On 12th December, the Herefordshires were evacuated – from the same beach as they had originally landed on. It has been said that the evacuation was the most successful part of the entire operation. The 750 original men who landed in August had been reinforced during their time at Suvla Bay by about another 300. On evacuation, less than 80 men were noted as fit. Seventy-five men had been killed or died of wounds. Over 50% of the total men engaged in the Suvla Bay landings, from all of the regiments involved, were either killed, wounded or evacuated through illness.
With the withdrawal from Gallipoli in December 1915, the Battalion, by then less than a hundred strong, was sent with the 53rd Division to Egypt.
Of all of the battalions at Suvla Bay, the Herefordshire’s were the only battalion mentioned by name in the Commander in Chief of the British forces, General Sir Ian Hamilton’s, despatches:
“Some of the units which took part in this engagement acquitted themselves very bravely. The Divisional Commander speaks with appreciation of one freshly landed battalion of 53rd Division, a Hereford battalion, presumably 1st/1st Herefordshire which attacked with impetuosity and courage between Hetman Chair and Kaslar Chair, above Azmak Dere on the extreme right of the line.”
Kington lost several men at Suvla Bay and in the Gallipoli landings:
Ivor Boucher, age 18, died 9th August 1915, commemorated on the Helles Memorial;
Private Thomas George Cook, age 21, who died of wounds 10th August 1915, and is buried at the 7th Field Ambulance cemetery.
Private Wilfred Cooke who died on 29th November and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.
Harry Raymond Homer, formerly of Kington, who joined the Australian Medical Corps and became a Lance-Corporal, died 12th November 1915 with the ANZAC contingent further south, and is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial; Ernest Meredith, age 32, serving with the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars, died 21st August 1915 and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial. It was noted by LHS in December 1914 that he had been promoted to Corporal and that in May 1915, he was a member of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force. The son of James Meredith, High Street, Kington, the Kington Times reported him missing at the Dardanelles after action on 21st August 1915. In civilian life, he had been an Assistant Surveyor with GWR
A significant number of Kington and Huntington men were involved in the landings at Suvla Bay. It is possible that many who are recorded as serving with the 1st Herefordshire Regiment at that time were part of the landing force. As the KSLI was also involved in the Gallipoli campaigns, those men serving with this regiment were also involved.
Research to date has identified the following local men who were involved in the Gallipoli campaign and survived:
John Edgar Bromley – Herefordshire Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. He was noted on enlisting in 1914 for foreign service as from Lyonshall. He served as a private in D Company, 1st Battalion of the Herefordshire Regiment. John Edgar was born in 1896, his father was an elementary school teacher at the school in Lyonshall and in 1911 the family was recorded in the census as living at the School House there. He served at Gallipoli, and was awarded the 1915 Star.
William Henry Bufton – Herefordshire Regiment
Death at Heywood Common reported The Kington Times reported William’s death at Heywood Common in February 1917, noting that he was invalided out after Gallipoli. William was 20 when he died, of consumption. He is buried in Kington Cemetery. He was born in 1897 at Rhodhurst, his mother being Mary Ann, the daughter of John Bufton, a farm labourer and wagoner. In 1911, William was living with mother and grandfather at Lower Rackway, Kington.
Wilkie Chipp – Herefordshire Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. Born in Gloucestershire in 1882, Wilkie joined the volunteers in 1899. He was the stepson of the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire. He was a Colour Sergeant in October 1914, assessed as fit for foreign service (D company 1st Battalion Herefordshire Regiment). Served in the Dardanelles, and wounded at Suvla Bay, Wilkie was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant and took part in the Middle East campaign. He was promoted to Lieutenant and Adjutant in 1917, the same year that he was awarded the MC. In December 1918, the Kington Times reported that Major Chipp, MC, had been awarded the DSO. Wilkie was in command of the Herefordshire Regiment’s last operation in Belgium.
Frederick Warren (or William) Dillow – Herefordshire Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. Born in 1889, in 1911 the family were living at Gravel Hill Kington. His Father was the head master of Kington Boys School. In 1911 William was a bank clerk at the Metropolitan Bank. Enlisted as a private, he was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in January 1916. The Kington Times reports that he had served at Gallipoli.
Alfred Benjamin Dowling – Herefordshire Regiment
Born in 1891, his family were ironmongers at 32 High Street Kington. Alfred joined up in 1914 and was noted as being a Sergeant at that date. He subsequently was promoted to, 2nd Lieutenant, Labour Corps. Awarded the 1915 Star, he served at Gallipoli and was badly wounded, shot in the back and with a broken arm. The Kington Times recorded in February 1916 that he had been discharged on sick leave and needed considerable treatment.
Ivor John Evans – Herefordshire Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. Had joined up in 1914 and by December is noted as a corporal. Corporal. Born in 1892, Ivor was the son of John Parry Evans, famer. In 1911, he was an agricultural student at Aberystwyth. Ivor was awarded the 15 Star. It was noted in the Kington Times in April 1917 that he had been wounded, although further details as to what campaign this was have not currently been identified. As he was serving with the Herefordshire Regiment, this may have been during the Middle East Campaign.
H. Evans – Herefordshire Regiment
Originally from Bradnor. It was reported in the Kington Times in August 1915 that Private W H Evans had been wounded in the Dardanelles and was in hospital in Southampton. W. H. Evans had been the chauffeur for Dr G. W. Dryland before enlisting.
Edward John Hamlet – Herefordshire Regiment
His family lived at 62 Bridge Street and were tobacconists and confectioners. He was noted in the Kington Times in November 1914 as a Transport Sergeant. The Kington Times reported in August 1915 that Sergeant E Hamlet had been wounded in the Dardanelles, with a further report in that month that he . had lost one arm and one leg in hospital in Malta. Before the war, Edward had been a sawyer for H. & G. Hatton.
William Henry Harper – Herefordshire Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. In 1911, William was a Law Clerk with Temple and Philbin. Born in 1891, the family lived at 3 the Wych and his father was a carpenter and joiner.. A Corporal in the Herefordshire Regiment, he subsequently transferred to the South Wales Borderers as a Second Lieutenant. Served at Gallipoli from 9th August 1915 and awarded the 1915 Star. Promoted to Sergeant in April 1917, and it was noted in the Kington Times that he was wounded in Egypt. In December 1917, it was reported in the Kington Times that he had been awarded the Military Medal.
Fred Jones – Herefordshire Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. Born in 1887, Fred was the son of the proprietor of the Railway Tavern and in 1911 he was working as an assistant in the pub. He volunteered for foreign service in September 1914, joining D Company 1st Battalion of the Herefordshire Regiment.. Served at Gallipoli and was wounded; awarded the 1915 Star.
A.J. Lewis – Herefordshire Regiment
Of Burton Lane, Kington. It was reported to the Kington Times in September 1915 that he was in the Dardanelles. To date, we have no other information about A. J. Lewis.
Frank Herbert Still – 1st/3rd Essex Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. Of Prospect Place, Kington, born in 1899, the son of William Still, a grocer’s assistant and Sarah. His name was noted on the LHS Roll of Honour in July 1915. The Kington Times carried a report that he had been wounded at Gallipoli in August 1915. His medal record notes that he was discharged XVI 9/9/16, which suggests that he may have been severely wounded. Frank probably died in March 1944, at Leominster. Awarded 1915 Star. There is some confusion in the military records that have been traced, as he appears to serve as a private but there is also a note on the records that he was a Sub-Lieutenant.
Stanley Arthur Tipton – Herefordshire Regiment
Passed fit for foreign service in October 1914. Stanley was a Private in D company 1st Battalion. Stanley had other brothers serving: Reginald who became and prisoner of war in Germany and Thomas William. Stanley served at Gallipoli and appears to have been wounded in Egypt. Stanley is remembered on the war memorial, having died in 1927, presumably of wounds received during his military service.
Thomas William Tipton – Herefordshire Regiment
Old Boy of LHS. The Tipton brothers lived at Duke Street, Kington, and Thomas was born in 1893. The Kington Times noted in September 1915 that he had been serving in the Dardanelles, was wounded and in Bristol Hospital. It also noted that there were two other brothers serving, one with Herefords in the Dardanelles, and one a POW. Thomas received both the 1914 and 1915 stars. The brothers were the sons of Eliza Tipton, a widow of no occupation in 1911 census, at 35 Duke Street, when Thomas is recorded as being a baker’s assistant. Their Father had been a plumber. In 1901 the family was living at 5 Cooper’s Yard, back of Upper Cross.
James Vaughan – Herefordshire Regiment
Born in 1895 in Pembridge, the Vaughan family were living at 23 Victoria Road in 1911. At this date, James is a Shop Assistant with an Ironmonger. A volunteer for the Herefordshire Regiment in October 1914, James was the twin of Alexander Vaughan, who served with the Royal Army Service Corps and died in November 1918. Their father was a Railway signalman. James was reported wounded in the Dardanelles in the Kington Times in September 1915. Another brother, Charles, who also served with the Herefordshire Regiment, died on 6 November 1917 in Palestine. It is very likely that as this brother was serving with the Herefordshires and was in the Middle East, he also served in the Dardanelles. However, this cannot at this stage be verified.
Percy Badham Yates
Photographer. Time expired territorial, served with Herefords in Dardanelles Passed fit for foreign service October 1914, Private D company, 1st Battalion, Herefordshires, and served in the Dardanelles. He was clearly discharged as a time expired Territorial, as he appeared before local tribunals in 1916, following the introduction of conscription.
One other local death that can be traced from the records is that of Charles Percy Gwyer, of Eyewood, Titley, who served with the Welsh Regiment. Although Titley, not Kington, the tally of local deaths and injuries during the Dardanelles campaign must have had a significant impact on the local community. Charles Gwyer was killed on 8th August 1915 – a very early casualty of the campaign.