Gallipoli

The Gallipoli campaign is important to the town of Luton, due to the sheer number of Lutonians who were fighting there as part of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment. Casulties were very heavy, and it is regarded as one of the single largest losses of life sustained by the town in a short period of time.

W Beach, Helles Gallipoli

The articles linked here aim to give an overview of the campaign, and how it affected the town of Luton. They are taken from primary sources e.g. The Luton News, published letters, war diaries etc.

Gallipoli Campaign

Event Start and End Date: 

25th April 1915 to 9th January 1916

The Gallipoli campaign is important to the town of Luton, due to the sheer number of Lutonians who were fighting there as part of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment. Casulties were very heavy, and it is regarded as the single largest loss of life sustained by the town in a short period of time.

The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale; was a World War I campaign that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916.

Date 25 April 1915 – 9 January 1916
(8 months, 2 weeks and 1 day)
Location Gallipoli Peninsula, Sanjak of Gelibolu
Result Ottoman victory
Belligerents
 British Empire

 France

 Ottoman Empire

Supported by
 German Empire
 Austria-Hungary

Commanders and leaders
Units involved

United Kingdom MEF
Egyptian Labour Corps

Maltese Labour Corps

Ottoman Empire Fifth Army
Strength
5 divisions (initial)
15 divisions (final)

Total
489,000 British
79,000 French

Supported by
~2,000 civilian labourers

6 divisions (initial)
16 divisions (final)

Total
315,500

Casualties and losses
252,000 218,000 – 251,000

The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia's allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.

The campaign was one of the greatest Ottoman victories during the war and is considered a major Allied failure. In Turkey, it is regarded as a defining moment in the nation's history: a final surge in the defence of the motherland as the Ottoman Empire crumbled. The struggle formed the basis for the Turkish War of Independence and the founding of the Republic of Turkey eight years later under Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who first rose to prominence as a commander at Gallipoli. The campaign is often considered as marking the birth of national consciousness in Australia and New Zealand and the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as "Anzac Day". It remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties and veterans in those two countries, surpassing Remembrance Day (Armistice Day).

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

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.

 

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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

1st 5th Bedfordshire Regiment, Gallipoli War Diaries

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.

 

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

5th Bedfords earn nickname of The Yellow Devils

 

Yellow Devils

The 1/5th Bedfordshires have made a great name for themselves. This is a conclusion which is forced home more and more as accounts continue to come to hand from the Dardanelles theatre of war of the ordeal they were called upon to undergo immediately they were rushed up from the new landing on the Gallipoli Peninsular, and the heroism and success with which they accomplished the task allotted to them.

Two of the officers of the Battalion who have taken part in the fighting there have pronounced it a picnic compared with the difficult conditions under which the operations in Gallipoli are being carried on, but our Bedfordshire Territorials have upheld the reputation of the regiment as those who have closely followed them through their training expected they would.

"The lads fought well; better than I thought they would," writes one of the old hands. "We were told we were to rush on and hold a certain place, and it was to be held at all costs. Then the machine guns and shells opened fire on us, and if the men hadn't been English and knew what discipline meant they would never have stuck to the place."

Letters from officers and men who survived the trying ordeal show that they are all justly proud of the way in which the Battalion as a whole bore itself, but an even more eloquent testimony to their bravery and heroism is the admiration they seemed to have aroused among the other units of their Division.

It will have been gathered from the letter which the Commanding Officer, Lt-Col E. W. Brighten, recently wrote to Major Orlebar that the 5th Bedfordshires have a distinguishing badge in the form of a yellow triangle at the back of their helmets and, according to more than one writer, men belonging to other units were very anxious during the time the Bedfordshires were resting to know who the chaps with the yellow badges were.

Great surprise was expressed by some of the regulars when they learned that they were the Bedfords and were Territorials, and one officer pointedly remarked that he wished all the other Battalions were like them. As a matter of fact, their superb fighting qualities and their yellow badges have combined to earn for them a new name, and a name that will probably stick - that of 'Yellow Devils'.

This information does not come from any member of the Battalion, but from one of the 2/1st East Anglian Field Coy, Royal Engineers, who came across some of the Bedfords while they were resting. They have seen hard fighting, he says, and have been nicknamed the 'Yellow Devils'.

One Staff Officer was heard to declare, "With two battalions of the Yellow Devils, I'd wipe up the Turks in a week."

Since the 5th Bedfordshires underwent their baptism of fire they have had a spell in a rest camp, and one of them has sent home an interesting sketch of the daily routine of their doings in their camp on the sands between the cliff and the sea.

The articles later goes on: "The people in England have no idea of what it is like out here; it is worse, I hear, than it is in France." Thus writes Pte Fred Maynard, one of two brothers from Aspley Guise, who took part in the Terriers' first charge.

He was wounded, but before he received his wounds he wrote, "We have had a warm time ever since we landed, being shelled right up to the trenches. We had top dig ourselves in as the bullets were coming from all directions and snipers were all over the place. One of our chaps whot five of them in a heap, but this is a bad place to get about in, there being so many hills - and not little ones.

"The Turks do not like the cold steel; they run like blazes when we charge. They employ women for sniping, and as they are painted green we cannot see them well. Four were shot the other day.

"There are men landing here every day. We have got the Turks on the run now - we moved them again last night. We are with the Gurkhas, and they are soon after us for cigarettes."

One of the signallers of the 1/5th Bedfordshires also refers in a letter to the fact that the Battalion have found a name for themselves, and says they are called the 'Little Yellow Devils,' explaining that they wear a small piece of yellow silk in their hats as a badge.

Writing of the fighting, he says: "Personally, I think the Battalion was not strong enough to hold the position after it had been taken, but our Colonel organised almost all of the Brigade, and so go things on an understanding. No doubt he will be rewarded."

Writes another private: "We are now a regiment of great fame. The fight was a long and hard one, but we got through. The charge of the 1/5ths was great, and deserves to be heard more of. The enemy ran away like a lot of bally kids. The bullets, shells etc have no terror for us now. When a shell comes whizzing over we 'bob' till it has passed, and then jump up to see where it has fallen. We have done well altogether here and have advanced splendidly."

Another private writes: "I think our Battalion have upheld the honour of the old Bedfordshire Regiment. We went for the Turks with the bayonet and gave them a hot time, you can bet, and gained a decent bit of ground, but we also had a lot of casualties.

"It was something I shall never forget. But our fellows were champion. When the order was given to charge there was not one hung back. They all rushed for the Turks, and although some of our fellows were getting shot down all around us we still kept on, and drove the enemy out of their position."

[The Luton Reporter: Monday, September 20th, 1915]

 

A veteran of Gallipoli at the age of 16

 

When Pte Frederick John William Lemmon arrived home in Luton in early 1916 he had served in the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment since attesting the previous April and seen action in Gallipoli, where he was seriously wounded.

Yet what was not discovered by the military authorities until December 1915 was that Pte Lemmon was in fact only 16 years old - far too young to have been accepted for foreign service. And by the time he arrived back home at 34 Spencer Road, Luton, having been discharged from the Army for age reasons, he had only just reached his 17th birthday.

Frederick LemmonFrederick was born in Croydon, Surrey, on January 10th, 1899. When he attested to become private 5067, 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment, in April 1915, his military record shows he was 5ft 5in tall and had an "apparent age" of 19 years three months, rather than his actual age of 16 years and three months.

His military record shows he attested at Bedford on April 4th, 1915. He embarked with the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force from Devonport on the HMT Braemar Castle and was severely wounded at Gallipoli on August 15th/16th, 1915. He was transferred to a hospital ship the same day and invalided back to England, where he was admitted to the Duchess of Connaught's Hospital, Taplow, Bucks.

On December 8th, 1915, he was posted to the 3/5th Battalion Beds Regiment, but on December 23rd his true age was found out and he was discharged "through making a mis-statement as to age on enlistment". He was by then 16 years and 11 months old and had served 262 days.

His wounds were detailed as a gunshot wound to the left shoulder sustained from a sniper while in action at Suvla Bay on August 15th, 1915. The entrance wound had healed but the bullet was still in the left shoulder region.

He was complaining of pain over the left shoulder blade and in the left elbow, especially after exertion. There was very little wasting of his upper left body and there were no physicals signs in his chest.

The injury was not considered to be permanent, probably lasting three months, dependant on an operation being performed for removal of the bullet. He was eventually admitted to a military hospital in Hampstead on April 29th, 1916, and was admitted as an in-patient at a Cambridge hospital for observations in May and June 1917.

While in hospital in Taplow in November 1915, Frederick wrote to his parents: "You may be interested to hear that Sir William Horsler, the King's doctor, recently said I was the most remarkable case in the hospital. The bullet went in at the left side of the neck, fractured the first rib, flattened the left lung, and the fluid and blood forced my heart over to the right side, where it stayed for some time.

"The doctors put a tube in my back to withdraw the blood, and then my heart started to go back, and it is now in its proper place, I had nine doctors round me, and they said I ought to be thankful I was alive. They saved my life here."

Frederick took no further part in Army service during World War One, but re-enlisted in the 5th Beds and Herts Regiment in July 1924.

In late 1918 Frederick married Violet May Duck, of Cobden Street, Luton, at St Matthew's Church, High Town. He died in September 1986 in Luton.

 

August 15, 1915 - a day of fallen heroes

Event Start and End Date: 

15th August 1915

The Gallipoli story compiled by John Buckledee from reports in the Luton News in August and September 1915. Many local men perished or were wounded in a baptism of fire among the small precipitous hills, immense boulders of rock and tangled thickets of scrub on the Turkish-held shores of the Dardanelles.

 

On Sunday, August 15, 1915, the 5th Bedfordshire Battalion was ordered into action. 'B' Company, under the command of Capt Baker (the son of the Rector of Dunstable), was put on the right flank.

A' Company, under the command of Capt Brian Cumberland (son of Mr Hugh Cumberland, of Luton) was extended back a little on the dangerous flank that had to be most carefully watched.

The machine gun section, under Lieut Shoosmith, was detailed to support 'A' Company.

Very soon a message was delivered saying that the hill in front was very strongly held, and then the battalion “went for it”.

'C' Company was thrown forward ahead of 'A' and 'B' Companies and the three companies were at once very hotly engaged. It was not long before 'D' Company had to be thrust onwards to support the charge.

The weight of brave, intrepid, well-disciplined men soon took the first hill, but the next proved a much more difficult proposition. The battalion came suddenly into a zone swept by an enfilade of shrapnel fire. Shell after shell fell into the Bedfords and the place became a shambles. Lieut Ballance of Dunstable was wounded at this period.

Casualties were sorted out and the attack was continued. This carried the Bedfords to the crest of the second hill, where both musketry and machine gun firing was terrific.

Capt C.T. Baker, although his arm had been shattered by a shell, went on until he fell, shot again. Lieut Lydekker, of Harpenden, was also killed in this assault.

Capt Cumberland called on his company for the last charge up the crest, and in the act of waving to them was shot through the head. Lieut Ralph, who led No 1 Platoon of 'A' Company, was close to him and was shot almost at the same time.

Lieut Rising was not seen after this charge, and has never been found, so it is believed, too, that he is killed.

The leader of 'C' Company, Capt Meakin, is believed to have been killed at this time. A comrade says: “I am told he was hit, but the man who saw it was hit himself later. We never found him either, although I personally spent nights of searching.”

Second Lieut R.D.J. Brighten was also killed on August 15. His body was found three days afterwards with a number of his fallen men around him. He had advanced with his platoon to the farthest point reached in the action.

Lieut Shoosmith (the son of Mr Frank Shoosmith of Luton) bore a charmed life that day. Practically all of his NCOs and men were knocked out,and he was left with only one man to fight, which he did with utmost gallantry.

Lieut Shoosmith was killed a few days later when he was walking from one trench to another. Because of his height his head was exposed and a bullet struck him.

Although the Bedfords captured the hill, the Turks counter-attacked. There was little water for the Beds troops and in their thirst they drank from muddy pools. They suffered terribly from dysentry.

Eventually the attempt to capture the Gallipoli peninsular was abandoned.

 

This edited excerpt of the Gallipoli campaign as reported in the Luton News was compiled by Editor John Buckledee in November 2001. Now retired, John is chairman of Dunstable and District Local History Society, whose website contains his comprehensive story of WW1 Dunstable from the files of the Dunstable Gazette on http://www.dunstablehistory.co.uk/archives/DEF/First_World_War.htm

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Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Bedfords depart for "the promised land"

 

At one o'clock in the morning on Monday, July 26th, 1915, half of the 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment left St Albans for what a signalling sergeant later described as "the promised land". An hour and a half later the remainder left the town to a "really good send-off from the people of St Albans". The men were confident and in good spirits, blithely unaware of the horrors that lay ahead in Gallipoli.

On Monday, August 23rd, 1915, the Luton Reporter carried the following report, based on a letter from the unnamed signalling sergeant.

"At last the 1/5th Battalion is to take part in the war of all wars." This is the strain in which a signalling sergeant who has from time to time kept one of our Bedford contemporaries posted with the doing of the Bedfordshire Territorial infantry writes from the troopship on which the 1/5th set sail and, he adds, "Led by one of the youngest, and at the same time one of the smartest and most efficient commanders in the Army, we feel confident that whatever task is allotted to us we shall render a good account of ourselves."

The letter, which was written on August Bank Holiday, gives a chatty and interesting record of the Battalion's experiences since their departure from St Albans.

"We started on our journey to 'the promised land' on Monday, July 26th," says the sergeant, "and we had a good send-off from the people of St Albans, the first half of the Battalion leaving there at 1am, and the remainder at 2.35am. The good people who inhabit the vicinity of the 1/5th at St Albans mostly stayed up all Sunday night in order to see us off. At two stations along the route, as well as the starting point, hot tea and coffee were served out to the troops, for which we were extremely grateful. The men were in good spirits at the prospect of soon entering the fray, and the long railway journey was enlivened by songs and cheers.

"Embarkation was carried out without a hitch, and at sunset we saw the last old dear old England - at least for some time. All went well on board until about the second day, when some strange malady [sea-sickness?] appeared amongst the men, many of whom complained that the ship would not keep still, and they hung over the rails with white faces and made weird sounds.

"Others who had not yet been attacked by this strange malady were so intent upon watching their antics that oft-times they fell a victim themselves! However, the magnificent physique and health of the men soon pulled them round, and we are now as chirrupy a set of lads as one would wish to see, in spite of the hot weather.

"We do look 'knuts' with our new suits on, and oh, the helmets! It is difficult to recognise even your best pals with their helmets on, and all of us have had our heads practically shaven."

[The Luton Reporter: Monday, August 23rd, 1915]

 

Brighten tribute to his troops

 

Glowing tributes are paid to the fighting qualities of both officers and men by Lieut-Col Edgar Brighten, the Commanding Officer the 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, in a letter written to his wife while the regiment were in the middle of the fight which started at one o'clock on Sunday, August 15th.

Lieut-Col Edgar Brighten"Up to now I am all right," wrote Col Brighten, "and as I have had shells on me for practically three days running, I ought to pull through by the help of God, but we have had a hell of a time. I can never describe to you on paper what we have been through, but the Regiment has done well, splendidly.

"We've got the ammunition, and I have sent it up to Shoosmith, who knows how to kills the Turks with it. He has done top-hole, fought his gun splendidly, although most of his men are knocked out.

"What cuts me up is to think about our losses. They are all of them a gallant lot. Poor Brian Cumberland is dead leading his Company most gallantly. I got him last night, and he is buried about 20 yards from this dug-out. Chirnside and Yarde, both gallant boys, are slightly wounded but still doing their whack, but I hope to relieve them tonight for 24 hours.

"Day is hit, but not seriously. Rawlins got through the first day but got hit yesterday. He will be all right, though. Hill and Younghusband have backed me up fine. Baker, the gallant little fellow, led his Company side by side with Cumberland, but he is hit.

"As for the men, what are left of them are full of fight and confidence."

Lieut-Col Brighten's next letter was to Mr Hugh Cumberland at The Lynchet, Hart Hill, Luton, following the death of his son, Capt Brian Cumberland. "Cheer up, old man," he wrote, "he did his duty most magnificently and couldn't have died more gallantly."

The letter, written at 9.15 am on August 17th, continued: "We are still in the thick of this battle, which stared at 1 pm on Sunday, August 15th, and in case I don't get through myself I am trying to get this to you to tell you about him. He was leading his Company gallantly, and was shot through the head. He did not die at once, but about half-an-hour afterwards. This is only hearsay, as I have not yet found the man who spoke to him last.

"We work all night clearing up after the day, and I got his body last night and he is buried now within 20 yards on my dug-out. His Company, with Baker's, were in the front line and they went clean through the Turks supported by the other two Companies.

"The Battalion did magnificently, but I have lost at least 12 officers and God knows how many men. They say that fighting in France is child's play to this, and how any of us are alive at all beats me. I have had at least one shrapnel on top of me regularly for the last three days."

[Luton Reporter: Monday, September 6th, 1915]

 

Brighten: They all went down like men

 

They all went down like men, with their faces to the enemy. This tribute to the fallen heroes of the 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, otherwise the "Yellow Devils" is paid by Lieut-Col E. W. Brighten (pictured), the Commanding Officer, in a letter just received by the Mayor of Luton (Councillor Walter Primett). Lieut-Col Brighten writes from in the field on September 4th:

Dear Mr Mayor. The first consignment of fly-nets has arrived. Will you thank the Mayoress and all who have worked for her in this on my behalf and on behalf of the officers, NCOs and man of the battalion, not forgetting, of course, yourself and those who helped you to organise and provide the funds?

Liut-Col Edgar BrightenWill you say that no more acceptable present could have reached us at the moment, although we are not troubled with mosquitoes, which they were really intended to provide against? We are in some trenches now where we are simply eaten up with ordinary flies. These trenches were taken over by us in a very dirty condition, and consequently it is absolutely impossible to get rid of the flies, although we have done what we could to mitigate the nuisance.

At any rate, with a net over one's head life becomes more bearable. The men appreciate them very much indeed, and it is very good of you to have responded so readily and promptly to the suggestion put forth by me.

I expect by the time this reaches you, you will have had news of us - not altogether good, as our casualties have been very heavy and we have lost many that we could ill afford to lose, both in officers and men. But they have done splendidly, and I am prouder than ever of them, and particularly of those who have fallen. All went down like men, with their faces to the enemy.

It is giving no secrets away to say that we were in one of the new landings. We did not take part in the original landing, but we were in one of the first big pushes, two or three days after we landed.

This country is a particularly wicked one to fight in - very hilly, with deep dongas [dry gulleys], and covered with thick scrub. By reason of this one cannot see the enemy, whereas they are able to pepper attacking troops with shrapnel from positions away on the further hills, and even very often, as in our case, to absolutely enfilade us with shell fire.

About the action there is not a lot to be said except that we were told to take a certain hill, and we did it. For the next few days we held it and consolidated our position in the face of some opposition until relieved and drawn out of the firing line for a bit of a rest. But in this country one soon learns that casualties have got to be faced if we are going to do anything at all. I have now got only seven officers, including myself, so you can see that we are pretty short-handed.

As things have turned out, we could have done very well with a smaller number of fly-nets. However, we shall take care of those which are not wanted at the moment, and there will be a number of men who were only slightly wounded who will come back to duty in the near future, and we shall issue nets as they come along.

Since the action we have been moving round into another part of the line, and have been in the first line trenches for the past six days. We are expecting relief (though only into the second line trenches) this afternoon.

The rations are wonderful. How it is done I don't know, but we had, among other things, an issue of eggs the other day and with the excellent bacon we get they were able to make a splendid breakfast that morning. We do not get much bread at present, but that cannot be helped. We had it for two days a little time ago, though. We get Maconochie's meat and vegetable ration a good deal, and that, as you no doubt know, is wonderfully good either hot or cold. We also get a certain amount of rice, dried potatoes, onions, and such like things, so that we do not often have to fall back on plain 'bully' and biscuits.

Above all, we get a small ration of cigarettes or tobacco. I think the men like that the best of all. If they can get their smoke, it makes a wonderful difference in their spirits. Of course, the ration is only a small one, and does not go far, but still it is something, and no doubt their friends at home will be sending them something to supplement it soon.

I hope these few details about the Battalion will interest you, and be some small return for the kindness of all of you to us. We all wish to be remembered to our friends.

[The Luton News: Thursday, September 30th, 1915]

 

Brighten: Yellow Devils need more men

 

"We want men badly, and if the unit is to keep in the field at all we must have them," writes Lieut-Col E. W. Brighten, commanding the 1/5th Bedfords at the Dardanelles, to Capt Gerald P. Orr, adjutant of the 3/5th Bedfords, the draft supplying company for the 1/5th.

The need for recruits for the 3/5th, in order that a stream of properly-trained men might be sent out to join their comrades in Gallipoli, has been emphasised many times of late, and we are glad to say that in the general stimulus of recruiting during the past week or two an appreciable amount of benefit is being received by the 3/5th, who have been able to welcome a very considerable number of recruits to their new training centre at Wendover. But the needs of the moment are far from being adequately met.

The 1/5th are not only losing men by the ordinary wastage of the battlefield but also by sickness, which is always worse in hot climates than in other spheres of fighting. On this point Lieut-Col Brighten (pictured) says:

"We are losing (though no worse than other units) so many men by sickness. The worst of it is that as soon as a unit gets below a certain strength it feels the strain very much more, since it has fewer men to hold its line. Therefore, they cannot have so much relief and, again, proper fatigue parties cannot be told off to fetch stores, which all have to be man-handled a good deal of the way."

When Major Orlebar, the officer who is in command of the 3/5th, was speaking at the great recruiting rally at Luton a few weeks ago, he said the 3/5th had to supply drafts to the 1/5th and at the rate at which recruits had been coming in just previously it would take 10½ months to make up the losses the 1/5th had sustained up till that time.

To bring the 1/5th up to the full strength of 1,000 there was only the 3/5th to look to for recruits, as the 2/5th was understood to be a foreign service unit and would want every officer and man it had got. Already ten officer had been taken from the 2/5th and eight more were under orders.

He had been asked how many he could provide from the 3/5th. He had one or two officers ready, and some men would be ready shortly, but he had not the men because he did not consider it right to send men out until they been properly and fully trained. He knew the trial they would have to go through and that nothing but a thorough training would enable then to stand the test. But if we were able to send out at once every man he had got they would not be enough to bring the 1/5th up to the required strength.

As we have said, recruiting for the 3/5th has been more brisk of late, but still men are wanted and all the time that fighting goes on they will be wanted. Of the officers then mentioned as being ready to go, Second Lieut Kellie is already out there. Recently we saw him leading a bombing party through some very watery and muddy trenches in Windsor Great Park and enjoying his work tremendously, although it was pouring with rain. Now Col Brighten says Kellie is full of schemes to do the Turks no good, which is just what we should expect of him.

Col Brighten writes: "For more reasons than one we want men badly, and if the unit is to keep the field at all we must have them. We have done our bit and shown the county what we are made of. Surely the county in its turn can and will give us the reinforcements that we require to give us our second wind and out wounded an opportunity to getting well and rejoining.

"I don't know what they do with a unit when it gets below a certain strength, with no reinforcements coming on, but I imagine there must exist some such low water mark that they don't allow the unit to keep the field below, and it would be an eternal disgrace to the county to let its own Battalion lose its separate identity simply for the sake of a few hundred men. You talk of 100 men but that's only a drop in the ocean. If we are to keep going, we want more than that to carry us along. It isn't for want of trying. You would be surprised how long some of the men have stuck it out before they will give it up and go sick - until they cannot crawl about in some cases - and their pluck is this, as in other ways, has been magnificent.

"We have got enough officers to go on with at present, with the rattling good draft sent us by the 2/5th Battalion and four good fellows from the 10th Battalion, to say nothing of young Kellie, who has joined us today "full of all sorts of schemes to do our Turkish friends a bit of no good". The last lot, however, report that the recruiting rally was not a success, and that is very depressing news for us out here. "Surely there are the men somewhere."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: November 6th, 1915]

 

Capt Cumberland first officer to fall

 

Capt Brian Clarke Cumberland, 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment and only son of Mr Hugh Cumberland JP, of The Lynchet, Hart Hill, Luton, has fallen in action in Gallipoli.

Capt Cumberland is the first officer of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment to be killed in action, and the news of his death came as quite a shock to Luton people yesterday, having regard to the very short time which had elapsed since the Battalion left this country for the Mediterranean. If fact, except for the intimation that two junior officers had been wounded, no news had been received tio indicate that the Battalion had been in action, although in the last letter received from Capt Cumberland he mentioned that he expected to be in the fighting line within a few days.

Capt Brian CumberlandOnly the bare news of his untimely end has yet been received, and this came to Me Hugh Cumberland last on Tuesday night. The postal authorities telephoned him to enquire whether he could receive a telegram, and when this was delivered it was found to read as follows:

"August 24th - Regret to inform you that Capt B. C. Cumberland, 5th Bedfordshire Regiment was killed in action, 15th August. Lord Kitchener expresses his sympathy. Territorial Records, Warley."

The news, of course, came as a terrible blow to the family, and it was immediately communicated to Mr J. W. Green JP and Mrs Green, of The Larches, New Bedford Road, uncle and aunt of Captain Cumberland. Mr E. Anthony Cumberland JP, another uncle, was out of town for the night, and yesterday morning was going to Dover to see his daughter Eila off to France, where she is to work as a nurse. As a result, the tragic news could not be communicated to him for some time.

It was only on Tuesday that Mrs Brighten, wife of Lieut-Colonel E. W. Brighten, who is in charge of the Battalion, hear that her brother (Lieut James) was wounded. As she received the news so quickly and Mr Chaundler, of Biggleswade, had been promptly notified that his son was wounded, it was assumed that with Capt Cumberland and others from Luton things were going well.

The last letter from Capt Cumberland was written to his sister, Gladys. It was dated August 10th, and in this Capt Cumberland said the Battalion had just landed on an island [Lemnos]. They had orders to hold themselves in readiness to re-embark, and he understood that they were going to force a new landing. He added that he expected to be in the fighting line within four or five days after writing the letter.

There will be general sympathy with the family in the loss they have sustained, for Messrs Cumberland are widely known in this part of the country, and the share which Capt Cumberland was taking in the business of Messrs J. Cumberland and Sons before he was called up for service was bringing him also a wide circle of acquaintances.

As previously mentioned, Capt Cumberland was the only son of Mr Hugh Cumberland JP, and the only one to carry on the respected name of Cumberland, ad Mr Anthony Cumberland had no son. He was 26 years of age, having been born on March 11th, 1889, and his second name was that of his grandfather, the late Mrs Cumberland having been the only daughter of the late Mr William Clarke, one of the old school of farmers who for many years resided at the Brache, Luton.

Capt Cumberland received his early education in Luton from Mr Furlong, and the last few years of his school life were spent at Dunstable Grammar School. As he was somewhat delicate on leaving school his father sent him for a year to Mr James Day, a well-known Bedfordshire farmer who was then at Roxton, near Bedford, and who is now farming a large acreage at Harrold.

This training was particularly useful to him in anticipation of he career which was planned for him, in view of the fact that a large part of the business of Messrs J. Cumberland and Sons is associated with the landed and agricultural interests. From Mr Day he went to High Wycombe, where he was articled to Mr Arthur Vernon, auctioneer and valuer and one of the past presidents of the Surveyors' Institute.

In 1911 Capt Cumberland became associated with his father's firm at Luton, and in the few years which have elapsed, had become widely known. He regularly wielded the hammer in the Luton Cattle Market, had passed the examinations qualifying him for membership of both the Auctioneers' and Surveyors' Institutes, and but for being called up for service last August he would by now have been admitted to partnership in the firm.

In 1911 he became associated with Major (now Lieut-Colonel) Brighten in the Territorial movement, but did not receive his captaincy until last year.

He was a member of the St John the Baptist Lodge of Freemasons, being initiated by his father when he was Master for the second time in the session of 1911-12.

Capt Cumberland was one of five descendants of the late Mr John Cumberland to hold commissions in the Army - Mr J. W. Green having two sons at the Front, while a third expects to leave Landguard with a draft shortly, and the second son of the late Mr Frederick Cumberland is serving in the Wiltshire Yeomanry.

In the sporting field, Capt Cumberland had figured most as a tennis player, although he was also a very promising member of the South Beds Golf Club. In the King Street Tennis Tournament of 1913 he won the singles championship and the mixed doubles championship, partnered by Miss B. Wright. With H. Cumberland Brown he won the final of the doubles championship in 1914.

[The Luton News, August 26th, 1915]

 

 

Captain Brian Clarke Cumberland

Title (Mr/ Mrs/ Capt/ Rev etc): 

First name(s): 

Brian Clarke

Surname only: 

Cumberland

Brian was born 11th March 1889, the only son of Hugh Cumberland J.P Land Agent & Auctioneer & Jeanie nee Clarke. In 1901 he was at a boys boarding school in Harpenden, but in the 1911 census he is home with his sisters, mother & father at The Lynchets, Hart Hill.

Before joining the Bedfordshire regiment, he passed his exams to become a member of the Auctioneers & Surveyors Institute so he could join the family business who's offices were in Castle Street.

He obtained a 2nd Lieutenancy in the Bedfordshire Territorials in 1911, was promoted to Lieutenant in May 1913 & then Captain on 29th August 1914.

On 17th January 1912 he was initiated into his father's Masonic Lodge of St John The Baptist.

He was a keen sportsman, good at tennis & a well known member of the South Beds Golf Club.

On 6th August 1915 the British & Commonwealth forces opened up a new front on the Gallipoli peninsular with the intention of breaking the deadlock that had set in at Helles & ANZAC. New landings were made in the Suvla Bay area with the idea of taking the surrounding hills & attacking the Turkish Army from the rear & forcing their way to victory.

Captain Cumberland arrived at Suvla Bay with 1/5th Battalion on 12th August 1915. He was killed in action 3 days later, aged 26. He was described by his Battalion CO as a "superb leader". He "called on his company for the last charge up the crest (towards Kidney Hill itself) & in the act of waving them on, he was shot through the head"

He is buried in Azmak Cemetery, Suvla. His father erected a memorial in the Crawley Green Road cemetery.

Service or Civilian?: 

Place of Birth: 

Luton
United Kingdom

Place of Death: 

Suvla Bay
Gallipoli
Turkey

Grave Location: 

United Kingdom

World War I Address: 

The Lynchets
Hart Hill
Luton
United Kingdom

Files: 

Individual Location: 

Images: 

Connects to: 

Year of Birth: 

1 889

Month of Birth: 

Mar

Day of Birth: 

11

Year of Death: 

1 915

Month of Death: 

Aug

Day of Death: 

15

Keywords: 

Most Relevant Date: 

Sunday, August 15, 1915

Cooking up trench delicacies

 

Some amusing details of the way soldiers in the field try to improve upon their field rations are given in a letter by Cpl E. Grice, a member of our staff who is with the 1st Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. He has been experimenting as a cook and has written from Gallipoli.

"Today is Sunday, and we have had an issue of bread - the first for three days, and then only a slice - so you can understand what a luxury it is.

"We are getting quite experts at cooking little dainties for ourselves, and it is surprising what comparatively good things you can turn out with a little patience and perseverance. It is not very often we have fresh beef, so we have to resort to all manner of devices for making the 'bully' more palatable. I have made some passable rissoles out of half a tin of bully beef, some slightly soaked biscuits and onions. They went down all right.

"Then it is wonderful what an appetising pudding one can make by thoroughly soaking biscuits overnight, chopping them up fine and then squeezing all the water out until you get a sort of paste. Then you spread some jam over it and make a roly-poly. Tie up in a handkerchief and boil in a mess-tin for half an hour.

"As water is very scarce out here - our allowance is one pint per day - you cannot afford to water the water you boil the pudding in, so you use it afterwards for washing and shaving - and possibly for rinsing a shirt out!

"This month is supposed to be the ideal one for weather, but it is still very warm and flies are about in hundreds. They are such a nuisance that when you are making a jam pudding you have to take great care that it does not turn out to be a currant one!"

In a later letter, Cpl Grice mentions chocolates, sweets and gingerbreads as the best things to send out, and says: "You would smile to see use divide our day's rations of bread - usually a very much knocked about quarter of a loaf - into two so as to keep a bit for tomorrow to eat instead of the brick-like biscuits which are issued every other day."

Away from food, Cpl Grice says: "On Sunday afternoon we were attending a short service while an artillery duel was in progress. There were about 50 of us present, and we were slightly sheltered from stray bullets by a bank of earth. We were singing the good old hymn Art Thou Weary?, when one of the enemy's shells, instead of passing overhead in the direction of our guns, suddenly dived to earth.

"It struck a dug-out less than half a dozen yards to the left of us and exploded with a terrific report. Showers of earth, stones, branches, waterproof sheets, flew in all directions, and we were smother in dust and enveloped in an acrid, blinding smoke. It was most remarkable that nobody was injured, for many of us were bruised and scratched, but none seriously hurt."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: December 4th, 1915]

 

Deadly weather horrors in Gallipoli

 

The terrible experiences of our soldiers in a November winter storm in Gallipoli, when men were drowned in a monsoon and others frozen to death in the terrible frost which followed, were recently described by Mr G. Ward Price, one of the official newspaper correspondents at the Front. His account of the horrors which followed on the storm is fully corroborated in a graphic letter which has just come to hand from Pte A. Turvey (pictured), 7025, 3rd Royal Fusiliers, whose home is at 55 Salisbury Road, Luton.

In his description of the storm, Mr Ward Price said: "First it rained in torrents for 12 hours. The narrow trenches, often cut in hard rock and tenacious clay, were flooded to the height of the thighs. The dug-outs filled with water. The steep saps that climb the slopes to the trenches literally became cascades.

Pte A. Turvey"The gullies along which the stores were brought from the beach resumed their natural function of water courses. It was impossible to light a fire and to have any food but cold bully and damp biscuits, and the men were soaked through to the very skin.

"Then the wind shifted suddenly to the north - and bitter, biting, piercing frost set in. The drench greatcoats grew so still that they could stand up by themselves. The water froze round the men's feet as they lay snatching the wretched sleep of utter exhaustion. Some of them were only kept alive by being made to work hard all night with pick and shovel.

"After the frost the blizzard. A wind sprang up from the north so strong that you could not stand against it. It lashed the face and inflamed the eyes. The gale, moreover, brought snow with it. Frozen, buffeted by wind and sleet, with hardly the possibility of motion to keep the circulation alive, the men endured agonies.

"Sentries watching through loopholes in the parapet were found dead at their posts when their turn came to be relieved, frozen rigid, their stiff fingers still clutching the rifle in an iron-fast grip, the blackened faces still leaning against the loophole. Yet through all this the troops kept uncomplainingly to their duty, and the men who died did so with firm lips."

Now note how closely this semi-official description is endorsed by one of the men who went through that rough time. Pte Turvey, writing from St David's Hospital, Malta, where he was suffering from frostbite, says: "On November 26th, when I was in the trenches, a monsoon came. It started about 8 o'clock at night and about two hours later the trenches were filled with water. It came over the top of them. It kept rising higher and higher up our legs, past our knees, and we thought we were all finished. I have never seen anything like it. There were hundreds drowned.

"The Turks were the same - all standing in the open as if in a huge lake. It was cold as well. We stood in it for about six hours; dared not move in case we slid in the trenches, for that would have meant certain death, as the trenches are from nine to ten feet deep.

"After about six hours the water, which was running away at a great speed, went down, until only about half our legs were in it. We had to think about ourselves, so we had to dig ourselves in as best we could with anything we could find handy.

"It was not long before morning came. Then the Turks started shelling us, as their guns were all right, being on the big hills. Shrapnel shells burst all round us, and I was lucky in not getting hit.

"We had no food that day. As you put your foot down you sank in the mud past your knees. All next day it rained and we were standing in mud and water, pulling our feet out as we kept sinking down in it.

"The next night it started snowing and freezing, and all the use went out of us. Chaps died with exposure; others were moaning. I was myself; could not help it. We stopped there all night, and it was terrible.

"The next morning a relief came, and we were told to get back if we could. It took me a good time before I could bend my legs. I could not feel my feet. The sight I shall never forget. There were men who stuck in the mud, could not get out, and were frozen to death. Some fell down, too done up to walk any further, and we could not help them as we could hardly get along ourselves. It was only desperation and a fight for life that got me back. I was sinking in the mud right up to the waist. I had to use all the strength in my body to get out. I knew I should be frozen to death if I did not."

Pte Turvey, only 19 years old, had been wounded the previous April while serving in France. After recovering, he came home to Luton and was then sent to Dover. He went out to the Mediterranean in September.

[The Luton News: Thursday, January 6th, 1916]

 

Disappointment over Suvla Bay report

 

The long-expected despatch from Sir Ian Hamilton [Commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force] on the Suvla Bay operations has now come to the light of day. Natural disappointment will be felt locally that the references to the 54th Division, which contained the 1/5th Bedfords, are only slight, but there has been quite enough evidence forthcoming that the Territorials from Bedfordshire did wonders in that glorious failure, and merit inclusion in the generous tributes Sir Ian Hamilton pays to the men.

The despatch will probably prove a historic document not only for its intrinsic value, but from its happy choice of words and metaphor. There is poetic beauty to be found in many inspired lines, such as: "Nothing more trying to inexperienced troops can be imagined than a long night march exposed to flanking fire, through a strange country, winding up at the end with a bayonet charge against a height, formless and still in the starlight, garrisoned by those spectres of the imagination, the worst enemies of the soldier."

The 54th Division (infantry only) arrived and were disembarked on August 11th and placed in reserve, says Sir Ian Hamilton.

"On the following day - August 12th - I proposed that the 54th Division should make a night march in order to attack at dawn on the 13th the heights of Kavak Tepe-Teke Tepe. The corps commander having reason to believe the enclosed country about Kuchuk Anafarta Ova, and the north of it, was held by the enemy, ordered one brigade to to move forward in advance and make good Kuchuk Anafarta Ova so as to ensure an unopposed march for the remainder of the division as far as that place. So that afternoon the 163rd Brigade moved off and, in spite of serious opposition, established itself in difficult and enclosed country."

Immediately after this reference to the 54th Division comes one of the most remarkable passages in the report. Even the skilled pen of a novelist could not improve upon the words, and, although the incident had happily nothing to do with out own boys from Bedfordshire, it is well worth reproducing.

"In the course of the fight, creditable in all respects to the 163rd Brigade, there happened a very mysterious thing. The 1/5th Norfolks were on the right of the line and found themselves for a moment less strongly opposed than the rest of the brigade. Against the yielding forces of the enemy, Colonel Sir H. Beauchamp, a bold, self-confident officer, eagerly pressed forward, followed by the best part of the battalion.

"The fighting grew hotter and the ground became more wooded and broken. At this stage many men were wounded or grew exhausted with thirst. These found their way back to camp during the night. But the Colonel, with 16 officers and 250 men, still kept pushing on, driving the enemy before him. Nothing more was ever seen or heard of them. They charged into the forest and were lost to sight or sound. Not one of them ever came back."

[The Bedfordshire Advertiser: Friday, January 14th, 1916]

 

Dysentery is the new killer at Gallipoli

Dysentery, due to poor quality water and little of it, was becoming the new killer on the Gallipoli peninsular, claiming an increasing number of lives of men serving there.

One of the latest victims was Pte Charles Whelpton Few, 1889, 1/1st Eastern Mounted Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, who died on a hospital ship on October 19th, 1915, after contracting dysentery. He was the son of the Great Northern Railway stationmaster at Luton and was just 21 years old.

Many relatives had received letters from men suffering from dysentery who were being treated in hospitals in Egypt and back home in England. And many men in Gallipoli had written home to say that water there was more precious than gold.

 

Dysentery sufferer on his way home

 

A postcard and two letters have been received from Pte Claude Gilder, of the 1/5th Beds, who before enlistment was on our staff. They are mostly bright and full of confidence.

A postcard dated September 8th read: "Received our first mail yesterday. What joyful faces as we read our letters from home - and our best girls! Have got you papers up to August 14th all right, and they were appreciated. I am now engaged temporarily as clerk at Brigade HQ, owing to their clerk being down with dysentery."

Under date September 11th is the following letter: "Still keeping fit, bar having dysentery, but nothing to worry about, although I shan't be sorry when I get rid of the complaint for it pulls you down a lot.

"Have read the budget of newspapers, and didn't I enjoy reading the local news after being away from home for six weeks. My newspapers went round the whole Signal Section etc - about 50 fellows - and they were enjoyed!"

The latest letter is headed "M.E.F., Sept 28th, 1915," and reads: "I was quite eager to go into action and I should have been disappointed if I had not been with the boys but, frankly speaking, neither I nor any of us want another Sunday like that one [August 15th]. The pace was too hot to last long, as you can gather from the letters you have published.

"We now have six days in the trenches and six days out. They call it rest, why I can hardly see, for their are fatigue parties working day and night the whole time we are at the 'rest camp'.

"We have had officers from the 2/5th Beds as the reinforcements, or at least the majority of them. A second lieutenant who was put ashore at Mudros was left in hospital there, and Second Lieut Campbell, who arrived with reinforcements, has also been admitted to hospital suffering from sunstroke. Are there any men from the 2/5th coming out? We want them badly.

"We are not having many casualties lately, but when added to those admitted to hospital (the complaint being, of course, dysentery), it reaches quite a respectable total in a week.

"We were shelled this morning. The shells burst quite close - too close, in fact, to be comfortable - and it was a question of keeping in your dug-outs. We had one casualty - a policeman - who was strolling up the gulley.

Pte Gilder has since written to his parents, Mr and Mrs Gilder, 35 Moor Street, Luton, stating that he was in hospital suffering from dysentery. A later communication says that he is on a hospital ship, and the probability is that he is now well on his way to England.

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: November 6th, 1915]

 

Encounter with a beautiful female Turkish sniper

 

Pte Albert Titmuss, one of two sons of Mr and Mrs George Titmuss, of 40 Milton Road, Luton, tells a remarkable story of his discovery of a beautiful Turkish woman who had been shot in the leg while acting as a sniper, and who was bandaged and taken back to her own lines by Pte Titmuss.

He is at present in the Gloucester Red Cross Hospital and writes to his parents: "I went in a big procession last Saturday - a recruiting procession. We had bands to play us through different places. We were in motor cars, and we didn't half get a reception. There were only about ten wounded, but the other cars were got up to present different nations. How would you like to be driven through the streets on show! It's worse than sticking Turks.

"I think I must have been mad after Alf [his brother] was hit. I was told he had been hit, and I didn't care what became of me. All I wanted was to get at the Turks. When you have got a bayonet through two or three you don't trouble. You should have heard them yell when we got them on the run. For the sake of the poor chaps they had of ours I could have gone on bayoneting them till now.

"It's the women snipers we have to watch. They are painted green and are hidden in rocks and trees. I saw a Gurkha pull one out of a haystack by the hair of her head. She was a beautiful woman and it seems a shame women should be made to fight. She had killed over 50 of our chaps, for she had over 50 identification discs of our soldiers on her.

"I was out looking for wounded early Sunday morning when I came across a woman who had a bullet in her thigh. I took my puttee off and bound her leg up. After I had dressed the wound and smashed her rifle and got her on her feet, I took her along the best I could, not towards our lines, but towards her own lines.

"She could talk English, and told me that the women had been forced into it. I went until I was about 50 yards off the Turks. I could see them looking up out of the trenches. She waved to them not to fire. They sent two stretcher bearers out, and I helped them to get her on the stretcher. They never attempted to do me any harm.

"The two Turks shook hands with me, bade me goodbye, and said "Turkey finished". The woman wanted me to go with her, and said I would be well looked after. The rings and jewellery she had were splendid. She offered me her rings, but I would not have them.

"As I bade her goodbye and shook hands with her, she begged me to go to Constantinople with her. She said I should be quite safe. She pulled me down and kissed me, and said with tears in her eyes she would be pleased to tell them at Constantinople she had been dressed by a British soldier.

Pte Titmuss said this woman, and other Turkish women he has seen, are very beautiful.

His brother, Pte Alfred Titmuss, who is in hospital at Malta, writes that his wound is healing quickly, and that he may have to go back to the Front later on. If he does, he will go with a good heart and trust in God to bring him through the campaign safely. He says the hospital is some miles from the City, to which passes have to be obtained.

He added: "We have YMCA and Church Army tents here, so have plenty of games to pass weary hours away, and as to those who are miserable, it is entirely their own fault."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: October 9th, 1915]

Pte Alfred Titmus died on the 23rd April 1917, and is remembered on the Arras Memorial.

Engineers reveal harsh realities of Gallipoli

 

Some idea of the splendid work of the Royal Engineers is given in the following letters from local men serving with the East Anglian Divisional Engineers in the Dardanelles.

Cpl H. H. Foster, writing to his brother Mr Edgar W. Foster, 31 Park Street West, Luton, mentions the ravages occasioned by dysentery from which he has escaped with a comparatively slight attack.

He goes on: "I hope, if God spares me, to be able to stick to my company until we return. We are short-handed enough now, and chaps crocked just now are doubly missed. One can understand the complaint flourishing out here, as in addition to hot days and cold nights, there is the sand which is very fine and must get into one's system, and the chief cause of all - flies. They are absolutely abominable. I never saw anything like them. They absolutely swarm.

"We are a bit quieter here just at present, a rifle shot here and there, and the occasional boom of a gun is all. I went out and had a nice swim in the sea yesterday afternoon and, incidentally, did a bit of washing."

To his nephew Edgar, Cpl Foster writes a much longer and more interesting letter, the sort of epistle to delight the heart of a boy. He says: "Things out here seem to remain as they are. We daily bombard Master Turk with out big guns and he duly replies with shrapnel and bullets. He is a game old bird, our friend the enemy (Turkey). He asks no quarter and he takes jolly good care he gives none.

"Every teatime he sends us his compliments in the form of 7.5s, which are not nice. As a matter of fact they are distinctly unpleasant, but he seems to think they agree with us, so I suppose we must put up with it. There is one thing we are used to now - the sound of the guns. For two months we have had nothing else, night or day, but the boom and rattle of guns. They don't seem to cease.

Night of a blizzard

"I am engaged for a few days on a comparatively calm job, with the R.A.M.C. people, erecting shelters on the beach for the sick, and preparing the officers' dug-outs for the winter, which seems to be fast approaching. We had a blizzard the other night, and well we knew it.

"I was not in the bivouac, but poor old Haycock was. He was sitting comfortably writing when suddenly he found the roof was blowing away, the candle out, and the rain simply pouring like water from a bucket on him. Poor old chap, he was in a state, but I was in a worse one.

"That night I had a party out in front of the Sikhs' trench, on wire entanglements. When you are out on that job you have to let the officers in charge of the trench know, so that they can inform their men that you are out, or they might think you were the enemy. Well we got over the parapet safely with our wire, tools etc, and all went well. We had about 70 yards of wire run out when lightning started. That unfortunately gave us away. The Turks evidently saw us, and promptly started to 'pot' at us. This we thought was most unkind, so we promptly lay down flat. They sent a bomb or two over to us without result, so they quietened down again.

"We lay still for a time and then we got up to proceed with our work. Then came the blizzard. At the same time the Turks sent up a large star shell and saw us. And didn't they let fly! We ran for it like rabbits but, sad to tell, the Sikhs, who had evidently not been told we were there, would have bayoneted us had we not yelled 'English Tommy'. They lowered their rifles and we scrambled into their trench - everyone drenched, but safe.

The Turks kept up a smart fire for some time but we were well down in the trench under cover, where we waited till the storm was over. We went and finished our job the next night, and our Turk friends did not spot us, as it was dark. Still, I think putting out wire entanglements is our most dangerous job, and not at all to be sought after, but the soldier cannot choose his job and one wants to do everything that comes along with a good heart, and then things seem to go fairly smoothly."

Hymns and gunfire

Another account of the work of the Engineers in Gallipoli come from Sapper A. 'Gus' Healey, whose home is at 31 Court Road, Luton.

"We are fairly well settled down to this life now," he says. "An order has just been given out, 'Holy Communion in the morning at 7.45'. We usually have a very nice, short, open air service on Sunday evenings, and I can assure you that it very impressive to hear our lads singing hymns to the accompaniment of the boom of artillery and the crack of rifle fire.

"We get plenty of shells and stray bullets about here, the latter especially at night...I was lying at night in my dug-out when a stray bullet came and ran right up my back. My tunic and overcoat were riddled with holes where they rucked up as I lay down. I almost felt the bullet, for it could only have missed me by half an inch. I remember when I heard the bullet zip so close, I said to my mate,'Am I hit?' and he replied 'Well how the dickens do I know'. Then I moved about to make sure I was not hit.

"We are bivouacked about 700 yards from the first line of trenches. We have got the Turks on the top of a long hill, and as the firing line, which stretches for some miles, is curved in shape, we get stray bullets from all directions.

"From our position we can see the trenches on the top of the hill. When the Navy are bombarding it is a rare sight to see the shells burst in the enemy's trenches. It must be hell up there.

"If you think that trench warfare is men standing firing over the parapet as you see it in the pictures, you are mistaken. The only soldiers who take deliberate aim are the snipers. Quite a lot of rifles with periscope attachments are used in the trenches. Also hand grenades and bombs play a very important part in trench warfare. For a man to put his head above the parapet would be asking for trouble. The Turks often fire at a periscope when they see an opportunity.

"The gruesome sights one sees through the periscopes are beyond description. Some of the dead have been lying there for over a month.

"The Engineers' work in the trenches comprises building dug-outs, sapping and mining etc, and generally improving the trenches. Some of the trenches are a marvel of military engineering. To hear one talk of the trenches, you would think they were referring to some town, as they are all named - such names as Bedford Road, Turkey Trot, Cobblers Alley and Southampton Row etc.

"I have only seen two Turks, and they were both prisoners. Of course, there are plenty of dead ones lying between the trenches on the parapet, in the firing line. There are plenty of graves of English and Colonial soldiers who have fallen scattered about. Most of them have a simple wooden cross over them, and everyone shows great respect for them.

Trench recipes

"With regard to our food, the best meal of the day is breakfast when we get tea, bacon and Army biscuits. For dinner we have bully beef and biscuits and sometimes boiled rice, and at teatime we have tea, jam and biscuits. Occasionally (about once a week) we get fresh meat, and about twice a week we get bread, which we consider a luxury. You ought to be able to judge from that what sort of parcels we should welcome out here.

"We get an issue of cigarettes, but we do not get anything like enough. They are of great commercial value, money being no good at all to us. When I first landed I was offered 2d for one cigarette. Of course I did not take the chap's 2d. Some nights we get an issue of some. Matches are very scarce out here. Cigarette papers, too, are very valuable.

"Considering the trials and hardships we are going through, I think the boys are showing a wonderful spirit and keeping their pecker up jolly well.

"While I was speaking of the food I ought to have mentioned how we do a lot of cooking for ourselves. The following are a few recipes.

"To make rissoles - soak some Army biscuits, chop some bully beef and onions up fine, mix them all together and fry them in fat. The great trouble is that we cannot get hold of enough fat for frying purposes.

"Pancakes are made by mixing flour and water till it forms a kind of paste, and then frying in fat - but flour is scarcer than fat.

"Biscuit puddings - soak some Army biscuits, mix them up and boil them in a cloth. When they are finished they look like a Bedfordshire clanger.

"Of course, the section cooks do not make these things for us - this is what we do on our own.

"I suppose now you begin to wonder how we spend our leisure time. Well, we do not get much, and most of that is spent in letter writing or reading (if we can get hold of any literature). I have got a home-made draughts board, the squares being painted on it, and the 'men' cut out of tin, and one set burnt in the fire to make them black.

"We are allowed a water bottleful of water per man, so you see we cannot have a wash every day. I think the water supply reflects great credit on the Engineers, as it has been their job to find and dig all the wells on this peninsular, and the water supply for thousands of troops in a hostile country is no small matter.

"Don't think that 'Poultice Wallopers' have a good time, for I can assure you that the R.A.M.C. are doing wonderful work out here.

"I suppose you know that out company is composed of Luton and Bedford chaps. Well that fact often brings on a Luton and Bedford argument."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: November 6th, 1915]

 

First reports of Gallipoli wounded

Wounded soldiers1

Reports of killed and wounded soldiers were carried in the Luton News, Saturday Telegraph, Luton Reporter and Bedfordshire Advertiser in the first week of September 1915. Many of the reports were from unofficial sources and a few would subsequently prove to be inaccurate.

Having been wounded on Sunday, August 15th, Pte CHARLES WHITE, popularly known as 'Cinder,' who was in the employ of Messrs Barnard and Dawson before enlistment, was carried something to safety by a comrade. The comrade who did this splendid service was Pte S. Robinson, of 42 Midland Road, Luton. In a letter received yesterday by the relatives, Pte White says: "I shall be in hospital a day or two. We made a charge on Sunday, August 15th, and I got wounded by a shell. I got it in three or four places, but I don't think it is anything serious. I am now on a hospital ship. Old Sammy Robinson carried me back to a Red Cross station about four or five miles away."

Pte CHARLES TURNER, 5049, of 27 Baker Street, Luton, is in hospital suffering from wounds to the head. A young married man with a baby and lived with his parents, he wrote home including to pieces of his helmet through which jagged shrapnel had passed.

Mr P. C. Breed, of 13 Hazelbury Crescent, received a letter from his brother, Pte BERTIE BREED, who is with the 1/5th Beds and is wounded. He wrote: "We went into action at dinner-time, Sunday, August 15th. It wasn't long before there were scored of killed and wounded. I soon got a packet from a shrapnel shell. The bullet went in one side of my leg and out the other. I was thrown yards. I am now in hospital a long way from the firing line, and I am doing fairly well under the circumstances."

Pte A. W. LEE, 4340, a former employee of the Luton Gas Company, was wounded on August 15th - his birthday - and is now lying in one of the base hospitals. He is the son of Mr and Mrs Lee, of Archway Road, Highgate.

Mrs Ward, of Letchworth Road, Leagrave, has received a letter from her husband, Pte JAMES WAR, who wrote that he was wounded in the leg and was in hospital. Before enlisting, Pte Ward was a navvy, and he described fighting ine the Dardanelles as being "considerably different to working on Houghton Regis sewer".

Pte HORACE OAKLEY, writing to his father, Mr Thomas Oakley, of 8 Queen Square, Luton, said he had a nice birthday present on Sunday [August 15th] - a shell wound, but not serious. "Since we landed we have been continually under fire, and on Sunday we had a running fight of about three miles over two big hills, and a bayonet charge. We have lost a lot of officers and men. The enemy we are fighting are not to be despised as fighters. You see we are in a hostile country and they are prepared for us. The country is strewn with big boulders and prickly bushes and affords hiding places and death traps. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday continual fighting, Sunday worst of all."

Yesterday an official notice was received from Warley that Pte H. DIMMOCK, 4901, of 10 Dordans Road, Leagrave, had been wounded and was in hospital. No letters have been received from Pte Dimmock to five any indication of the character or extent of his wounds.

Mr Frank Grubb, of 9 Windmill Street, Luton, yesterday received a postcard from his son, Pte E. GRUBB, 2758, stating that he was wounded in action on August 15th. Pte Grubb stated that he was shot through the left hand and was on a hospital ship going to the base.

Mrs Cook, of 24 Essex Street, Luton, yesterday received a letter from her husband, Pte GEORGE T. COOK, a former employee at Brown's timber yard, stating that he had been wounded by shrapnel through both thighs. He said he was "going on fine" on a hospital ship on which he was being excellently treated. His brother-in-law, Pte Alfred Smith, was reported killed. [Two days earlier The Luton News thought he had been killed when his brother-in-law, Pte Charles Turner, sent a message that he last saw George going up Hill 90 "and then I saw him no more".]

Mrs Arnold, of 10 Chase Street, Luton, has had official notification that her son, Pte SAMUEL ARNOLD, a former Diamond Foundry employee, was wounded in action on August 15th. No information regarding the extent of his wounds or his condition was included.

Pte ARTHUR FOX, of 108 Selbourne Road, Luton is wounded and in hospital in Malta. In a letter to his mother he quite casually mentioned that he was writing it on a hospital ship with a slight bullet wound in the throat. "It was on Sunday, August 15th, when I got my lot. It was a big battle and we took a good position from the enemy, but lost a lot of men and officers."

Mrs Thrussell, of 97 Church Street, Luton, has been officially informed that her husband, Pte W. THRUSSELL, is slightly wounded and is at Alexandria. A further notification from the General Hospital, Alexandria, states that Pte Thrussell has a gunshot wound in the right hand.

Mrs A. Hawkes, 58 Baker Street, has received official notification that Pte G. L. HAWKES was wounded in action, as reported from Alexandria on August 29th. Pte Hawkes writes that he was wounded in the throat.

Pte RAYMOND SKINNER, whose home is at 12 Holly Walk, Luton, has been wounded in both arms and in one leg. He writes to his mother that there is no cause for her to worry.

Wounded soldiers2

Pte FREDERICK THURLOW, of 216 Wellington Street, Luton, who is reported from Alexandria to have been wounded on September 2nd, was a moulder at Messrs Brown and Green's before the war. [Pte Frederick Thurlow was in fact killed in action at Gallipoli on August 17th, 1915].

Mrs F. Goymer, of 15 Crawley Green Road, has been officially informed that Pte W. J. GOYMER has been wounded in action, as reported from Alexandria on August 25th.

Mr and Mrs Brockett, of 'Hovendene,' Colin Road, Luton have received news that the latter's brother, Pte IVAN WILDMAN, was wounded in the shoulder and back on August 15th, during the charge of the 1/5th Bedfords. He writes from a hospital ship on the way to base and says: "I cannot write any more, I am in too much pain." His home is at 27 Ridgway Road, Luton.

L-Cpl PERCY W. REYNOLDS, of B Company, Machine Gun Section, has written to his fiancee, Miss D. Muddiman, 59 Hartley Road, Luton, stating that he is in St George's Hospital at Malta suffering from wounds in the feet. He received the wounds on August 15th while lying down flat on the ground. "I had not been lying down very long when I felt such a pain in both my legs," he writes. "I had been shot just above my heels. My chum bandaged them up for me and I laid two hours because the Turks had found our position and were shelling us, but I got back to the hospital without any further damage. I am now far away from the firing line on a hospital ship." He lived at 68 Cobden Street, Luton.

Mrs H. J. Lambert, of 131 Hitchin Road, Luton, has had rather indefinite news that her husband has been dangerously wounded. His mother received a card from Bandmaster Goodger stating that Sgt HARRY LAMBERT had been dangerously wounded and that he and Lieut-Col Brighten got a stretcher and had him placed on the ship for Alexandria. A lady at Bury St Edmunds has since had word from Pte Sid Warley to say that the Sergeant was wounded in four places by shrapnel.

Wounded soliers3

Pte W. RICHARDSON, a son of Mr and Mrs W. Richardson, 12 Inkerman Street, Luton, was wounded on Sunday, August 15th, during the advance of the Bedfords. A bullet went through the fleshy part of his right thigh. Two comrades put a field dressing on him, and he started back for the Red Cross camp, but half way there a shell burst and another bullet went into his right knee and lodged there. Assisted by a comrade who was wounded in the arm he was able to walk to the Red Cross camp, where he remained until the following morning, when he was put on to the hospital ship.

Pte SIDNEY DUNHAM, of 31 Brunswick Street, Luton, who has been wounded in the hand and is now in hospital, writes that he will probably lose a finger. He has been in the employ of Messrs Vyse, Sons and Co since he was a boy. He joined the 2/5th Battalion in November, and was transferred to the 1/5th.

"A slight wound in the leg," says Pte PERCY WEBDALE, has necessitated his removal to hospital. He is the eldest son of Mrs Webdale, 10 Stuart Street, Luton, and was formerly employed in the clinical department of the CWS Cocoa Works.

Pte ALFRED POLLARD, son of Mrs Pollard, 44 Jubilee Street, High Town, is now in hospital in Chelmsford. He was employed on the Midland Railway before joining the territorials last September. He was wounded on August 15th in the left hand by shrapnel. "It is nothing to hurt," he says in a letter home.

Pte ALFRED TITMUSS, son of Mr and Mrs G. Titmuss, of 40 Milton Road, Luton, was wounded in the thigh when he reached the top of the hill during an advance on August 15th, and had to crawl a mile on his back. His brother, Pte ALBERT TITMUSS, whose wife lives at Slip End, was also wounded in the handed by shrapnel. Alfred was in the employ of Messrs Cameron, and Albert worked for Brown and Green.

It is reported that Signaller A. PAKES, formerly in the employ of Messrs Smith and Small, Bute Street, Luton, has been wounded in the hand by shrapnel. He is the second son of the late Mr W. A. Pakes, of 31 Malvern Road, Luton.

Pte W. STIMPSON, whose home is at 63 Windmill Street, has written home to his mother to say he is wounded and is in hospital at Malta. His thigh was injured after he had been in the field about 12 hours trench digging.

Pte PERCY HIGGINS, 4073, who was reported by a comrade as killed, has written home from a hospital ship stating that he was wounded in the shoulder by shrapnel. Not a Lutonian by birth, he has lived in the town many years and was practically brought up by Mr and Mrs Bumpsted, of Langley Road. He was employed as second porter and vanman by Mr Henry Gibbons, and was much liked and respected. At the time of enlistment he lodged with Mrs Adams, Holly Street, Luton. His father resides at Eastbourne.

Pte HAROLD SCOTT, of 76 Leagrave Road, Luton was wounded by a bullet in the foot - either a stray missile or one from a sniper."I thought it was a bit off to be nabbed like that," he says. "Still, I got back to the dressing station as well as I could with a little help, and from there they put me on board. I am now in a hospital having a comfortable time."

Two brothers from 29 York Street have both been wounded. Writing to his wife on August 18th from a hospital ship, Pte C. H. HALFPENNY says: "I am sorry to say that I have had a bit of bad luck, and so has my brother (Pte ALBERT HALFPENNY), but never mind us being wounded I think we will pull through."

Two of the three serving sons of Mr and Mrs Buckingham David Buckingham, of 82 Warwick Road, Luton, were reported wounded. Sgt AUBREY BUCKINGHAM, aged 19 and an employee of the Diamond Foundry, Dallow Road, before enlisting, wrote from hospital on August 24th to say he had been wounded in the neck. The bullet had passed from his neck to the ribs on his left, but he insisted the wound was nothing to worry about. Brother Pte FRANK BUCKINGHAM, aged 21 and had worked at the Diamond Foundry, wrote from Alexandria on August 25th that he had been wounded, "but not so badly - a bit of shrapnel broke my arm".

Pte J. W. CUMBERLAND, whose wife resides at 121 High Town Road, has been wounded. He was formerly in the straw hat trade, and joined the 1/5th Bedfordshires on his birthday (September 12th) last year. The wound is in the knee, and in a letter to his wife he says: "I expect it will keep me out of mischief for a while."

Mr A. Snoxell, of 84 Grange Road, Luton, has been notified that his son, Pte CYRIL SNOXELL, was wounded on September 2nd.

Pte J. W. LEMMONS, of 34 Spencer Road, Luton, is one of the first to return to this country from the Dardanelles. He had only been in the 1/5th about four months when he left for the Dardanelles, and almost immediately after landing he was shot in the neck. At present he lies in the Duchess of Connaught's Canadian Hospital, Taplow, Bucks, and a bullet still has to be extracted from his back.

Pte PERCY STANFORD, 29 Langley Road, Luton, who was earlier reported by the Record Office to be "missing, believed killed" was reported in another official notice from Warley to have rejoined his regiment. Some letters from him were also received.

News of several boys in the 1/5th is given in letters received by Mrs King, of 6 Tavistock Street, Luton, from her husband Pte WILLIAM KING. Having been wounded himself, he first wrote to his employers, Messrs Rudd and Sons, so that someone might break it gently to his wife. He has since written several letters from a Malta hospital, However, several of those he said had been killed were in fact wounded.

Wounded soldiers4

 

First wounded Lutonian home from Gallipoli

 

The first wounded Luton member of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment home from Gallipoli was Pte Alfred Pollard, fifth son of Mr and Mrs Thomas Pollard, of 44 Jubilee Street. He was only 19 years of age.

"It's a very difficult matter to put into words all that a chap feels about it," Pte Pollard told the Luton Reporter newspaper. "But I am proud to belong to the 1/5th Bedfords. They have done some very good work in the little time that have been out there, and from what I saw myself and what I heard afterwards from thos who were in the fighting longer than I was, the Battalion deserve all that has been said about them."

Pte PollardPte Pollard (pictured right) joined the 6th Bedfordshires last September [1914], and did his early training with the 2/5th Battalion at Newmarket, being transferred to the 1/5th Battalion just before they moved from Bury St Edmunds to Norwich. And, as he put it, after nearly 12 months hard training he was put out of action in less than a week. Five days were all he had on the Peninsular, and during practically the whole of that time the Battalion were under shell fire.

They landed without the slightest trouble, although it was in the middle of the morning when they set foot on the Peninsular, but right from the time they accomplished the landing they came under shell fire. 'A' and 'B' Companies, which are mainly made up of Luton men, were the first of the Battalion to go up and do trench-digging, and then they had to experience rifle fire from snipers, as well as heavy shell fire, but their casualties were few. Snipers, he said, seemed to be perched everywhere, and their habit of painting themselves in colours to match their surroundings made it next to impossible to pick them out, especially at night.

Twice Pte Pollard went up trench-digging, and 'A' and 'B' Companies had not long returned from the work they set out to do on the Saturday night [August 14th] when the orders came for the famous attack of August 15th. The distance they had to advance was something like three miles, but the very moment they moved out of their camp, after having their apology for a Sunday dinner, they came under terrific shell fire.

But there was no flinching, said Pte Pollard. "We took cover whenever we possibly could, and went on steadily until we got within rifle fire. Then the battle began. My mates were falling each side of me. I also saw one of my officers (Lieut C. R. James, brother-in-law of Col Brighten) go down, and every moment I thought my time had come, but still on we went, and after a big struggle we were successful in taking the first part of the hill.

"But there was another charge to be made, and I was running up that hill when I went down with a bullet in my left hand. I didn't know exactly what happened. I only knew I was hit, and it was not until afterwards that I found a bullet had gone right through my forefinger and that the top of my finger was only just hanging on."

One of Pte Pollard's mates bandaged him up with the field dressing, and then he crawled back to the field dressing station, which he reached about dusk. About midnight the same night he was one of about a score of wounded members of the 5th Bedfords who were taken on board a hospital ship.

In four days he arrived at Malta, and there he was in hospital ten days. A fortnight ago [September 6th] he reached England, some half a dozen members of the Battalion being on the same boat, and he was taken to the General and Red Cross Hospital at Chelmsford.

On Saturday morning [September 18th] he arrived home in Luton on five days leave, expecting in due course to receive orders to report himself at his depot.

Pte Pollard said he was as fit as a fiddle, but his hand was still rather painful and he was doubtful he would have further use in his forefinger. The bullet entered the knuckle bones of the forefinger and went clean through, taking a piece out of the fleshy part of the second finger, while the knuckle bones of the forefinger were completely shattered. The wound may mean the loss of the finger.

[The Luton Reporter: Monday, September 20th, 1915]

 

Frozen to death heroes of Suvla Bay

 

A medical officer who was present at the evacuation of Gallipoli writes:

"I believe I have told you of the great blizzard and frost at Suvla, and here on the fourth and fifth days dozens of men came in frozen solid to the knees, many with gangrene far advanced. A lot of them were mere boys, but they refused to leave the trenches till reinforcements poured in. Even the sick in hospital rose up and took their rifles and went up to hold the line. It was truly magnificent.

"One little picture I will draw illustrative of our life for five days. One morning a Newfoundlander in a trench near us called my attention to two figures in a ditch out by the salt lake. I took out a stretcher party and there we found two lads of the City of London Regiment sitting in the ditch, frozen and dead.

"One had his arms round the other, who held fragments of biscuit in the corner of his mouth. Fancy the struggle for life across one and a half miles of frozen marsh in the teeth of a blizzard, and then, within sight of the lights of our camp, the weaker had given way and his chum had sat down with him and put his arms round him and tried to get him to eat a piece of ration biscuit. And so death had found them both.

"The agony of the battle of Sari Bahr was matched by the despair of the blizzard at Suvla. But these men were the heroes of the child's dream."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: February 12th, 1916]

 

Gallipoli experiences on Hill 60

 

Mr Sidney C. Fensome, of 21 Granville Road, Luton, has had a very interesting letter from his brother, Sapper Arthur Fensome, who is with the 1/2nd Field Company of the East Anglian Royal Engineers. He writes:

"I received your parcel and letter safely yesterday. In fact, all my correspondence for the past two months has arrived in bulk. We have had cartloads every day for our division. They have been hanging about different ports as out division has had three changes of camp since December 4th, and a lot of them have been spoiled in consequence.

"I daresay by this time you will have heard of the evacuation of the positions of Suvla and land as far as Anzac. Our division was in advance of the evacuation and, of course, we were relieved a week before the division left the Peninsula. We were under fire the whole of the time we were on the Peninsula, and we (as no doubt you know) landed at Suvla in August.

"Having a short time there we went to Lala Baba for a week and then on to Hill 60, the connecting link between Suvla and Anzac. We stayed on that position (our brigade) until we left the Peninsula, and it was the warmest place between Anzac and Suvla.

"When we first relieved the New Zealanders on Hill 60 we were 200 yards to 60 yards away from the Turks, but by continuous sapping we shortened the distance around the hill to 12 yards and never farther away then 50 yards, and that was on the right flank of the hill towards where the Norfolks and Londons (10th and 11th) were. Hill 60

"The consequence of being so close resolved in a constant duel of bombing and mining, and it got very sultry towards the closing stages. We got some mines out under the Turk trenches just where they had their most troublesome bombing stations and blew them up - machine guns, bombing posts and their occupants going into the air, but we were not allowed to go forward into the craters, as I suppose we were too far forward of the other lines and possibly might have been enfiladed by the Turks.

"They got a bit of their own back by blowing up one of our barricades which was used as a bombing station, and I had gone into hospital the same morning and so missed the affair. But I was working in the same sector, which was also destroyed the previous evening.

"I had a fortnight in hospital, and should have gone on the hospital boat, but instead I returned to camp to go through a week of terrible weather which will live in my memory as long as I live. Disease and sickness accounted for a large number. I understand the dysentery out at Gallipoli was quite different from the disease usually met with, and quite baffled the doctors.

"It made strong men look like ghosts and as living skeletons in a week, although they still stuck to their jobs until they had to be carried away. It was the biggest and strongest fellows that were carried off by this complaint - at least this was the general rule in our company.

"The Turks were affected just the same, many of the wounded having it, and prisoners. One of the prisoners from Hill 60 said they would knock us off those hills with sticks if it wasn't for our fleet. Anyway, I certainly think they would blow us off if they had more artillery. What they had got they used very persistently.

"There was one which used to play on our camp and also sweep our trenches which was the subject of a good deal of argument and discussion as to whether it was a captured 75 or a German 77 millimetre. That gun was the only thing the Colonials were afraid of, and our observers never did discover its whereabouts, and the fleet wasted tons of metal on it.

"There was also a longer range gun (or battery of guns) which we called "Beachey Bill," which shelled everything on or near the beach, even the bathers, and which cleared us out of the well-top for two days running. They got some very big guns up towards the finish and I was nearly caught by one when going on to the boat, the last half-an-hour I was on the Peninsula.

"I had many near goes from shells, bombs and bullets, and it is impossible for anyone - even one who has served in France - to realise what danger we were in whilst on the Peninsula. It was quite different from France, where troops could have a week in the trenches and go right away from shell fire and danger to a rest, a bath and possibly a good feed. We simply were kept at it until either wounds or sickness took us from our respective jobs or until we were relieves by another division..

"The wells were marked by the Turks and many were killed and wounded when going for water. I saw a fellow offer another 10 shillings for a bottle of water, and Woodbines could not be bought at 6d each in August.

"I had but one bath from September 2nd until I came to -----, and it was a luxury to get a wash out of your mess tin - it meant the sacrifice of your drinking water, and at one time I had a beard that made me look like a tramp.

"We were responsible for the water supplies and defences, in the way of trenching, sapping, mining, entanglements, barricades, all bombing posts, magazines etc. We got no bridging out there as there are no rivers, but we had roads to make for transport. The only one already there was a dried up watercourse, which no doubt by this time is restored to its natural condition.

"We earned a good name, and more praise perhaps than any other regiment in the division."

[The Luton News: Thursday, January 20th, 1916]

Gallipoli memories 21 years on

 

Gallipoli in memoriam

Gallipoli remembered one year on - The Luton News, August 1916

 

Today, wrote the Evening Telegraph on August 15, 1936, will bring a quickening of the pulse to many men in Luton. They will think of August 15th of 21 years ago when, as part of the 5th Battalion the Bedfordshire Regiment, they went into action for the first time in Gallipoli and won for themselves undying fame. They little realised what lay ahead, or how short for so many of them would be the participation in the struggle.

The newspaper told the Gallipoli story as reflected in the history of the Bedfordshire Regiment. But it then went on to interview survivors of the battle living in Luton those 21 years later.

First it carried extracts from the diary of Claude Gilder, of The Luton News, who had served as a private with the 1/5th Bedfords.

"When the order came through for 'Fix bayonets, charge' the boys were absolutely mad with the terrible gaps in the rank of those who had fallen in the fight for freedom, and saw red," he wrote. "The only thing to do is draw a curtain over that terrible charge, and the only thing to say being that we captured our objective - Kidney Hill - and held on to it against great odds, the Colonel's [Edgar Brighten] motto ringing in our ears from overnight - 'What we take we hold'.

"Well we did carry our that motto, but, alas, at what a terrible cost! We entrenched ourselves as best we could at night on hard, rocky ground, and only just got bare cover when the dawn appeared."

Later Mr Gilder wrote: "Our plight as regards water and rations was awful. Our tongues at times were absolutely hanging out of our mouths. I can give you instances where men drank oil out of their oil bottles.

"A certain well, sunk by the Engineers, was well known to be in the direct range of the Turkish guns and it meant certain death to go near it. But men were at their last gasp and so crawled to this well and had one long drink. What relief it brought. And then - all was over - yet another name was added to the Roll of Honour.

"It was very difficult to get water and rations up to the trenches. We were only three miles inland but every inch of this space could practically be swept clean by the Turkish gunners. It was impossible, therefore, to bring water and rations etc up in daylight. We learned a severe lesson by doing so, for the whole convoy was blown to atoms.

"That terrible, anxious week stands out alone among all others. Two or three of the fellows died of thirst alone, and several went light-headed through thirst and the heat. We lost the cream of our officers in that Sunday affair, and they were heroes one and all."

Bandmaster William Goodger, of 9 Langley Street, Luton, was attached to the Battalion Headquarters of the 5th Bedfords and had vivid memories of the Gallipoli campaign, including much that was best left unmentioned.

"On the whole the men kept their heads," he told the Evening Telegraph. "They did their bit, and stood above all others, and did so right through the campaign. They earned for themselves a great name, which was second to none in the history of the East."

Mr Goodger's son, Horace, who was only 17 at the time, was also at Gallipoli. His father recalled: "Horace was acting as a stretcher-bearer carrying wounded Sgt Thurley when he turned to me and said, 'Dad, isn't it awful? I said, Never mind, boy, carry on. Do your duty."

[Sheffield-born Bandmaster Goodger died on April 6, 1937 at the age of 67. Before being invited to take over the band of the Luton Volunteers that became the 5th Bedfords band, he had been conductor of the Luton Red Cross Band.]

Another Gallipoli veteran, Mr Harold Edward Cook, of Luton, was Col Brighten's orderly on the Peninsular. "The bullets coming through the scrub was like the buzzing of bees," he said. "I remember saying to another man, 'What is all this buzzing?' He replied, 'Bullets - come on!' and we did after that.

"I was wearing pincenez at the time and someone told me to take them off because of the snipers. I took them off but I couldn't see anything, so I put them on again and chanced it."

Recalling a lighter incident, Mr Cook said that on one occasion as they were going up a slope, there was an isolated tree. "The Colonel said to me, 'What is on that tree?' So I stuck my rifle through and then put my head through. The result was that my helmet became wedged in and I could not get loose for a while."

Mr John Roberts, of 26 Boyle Street, Luton, was another stretcher-bearer. Needless to say he and his comrades had a busy time - and a gruesome one. On one occasion he and a comrade had to carry a wounded 12-stone man a considerable distance from the line of action to the beach.

Mr H. J. Lambert, of 131 Hitchin Road, Luton, who was a sergeant in 'D' Company, which was in support of 'A' Company, was wounded in the early morning of August 16th.

"An aeroplane came over," he said, "and immediately it went back a shell came over. Having been at it all the time and feeling tired, I dozed off, and it was while I was asleep that I was hit. Of course, I passed out. With a lot of others I was in a ravine waiting for the stretcher to take us away.

"I was taken to the shore about 5.20 that night. I came round on one of the naval cutters when I was being taken to the hospital ship."

Despite the harrowing times, there was some irony. Mr Lambert recalled that one day he came across an inveterate snuff-taker drying cigarette tobacco in a tin in the sun. "I asked him what he was doing," said Mr Lambert, "and he replied, 'Trying to make some snuff. I'm dying for a pinch'."

Mr George Davies, 76 Park Road West, Luton, a sergeant in the 5th Bedfords, was one of the men who landed on August 22nd with men from various other battalions. On landing he met his brother, Mr Harry Davies, of Hastings Street. He recalled the delight of the men when they had some bread and a few cigarettes.

"What struck me when we landed was the explosions," he said. "They were in front of you, behind you, at the side of you, underneath the ground, and everywhere. Col Brighten told us we needn't 'get the wind up' as they were only 'crackers'. We soon got used to them.

"A Field Officer came along to us and asked us if we were the Bedfords. Then he told us what the Battalion and the Brigade had done, and said he wanted a hundred good Bedfordshire men.

"Of course we pulled ourselves up. He took us to a gun and said he wanted it taken to the top of the hill. We dragged it up, and as soon as we got it in position we were in action. That was our first 'good deed'."

Mr Davies remained there until the evacuation. The men, he said, suffered great hardships. Flies were a source of endless trouble and danger, as they carried germs on the food.

"When the men were eating biscuits and jam, flies used to settle around their mouths and all over their faces, and some men did not have the strength to brush them away," he said.

Mr Harry Rayner, of 66 Russell Street, Luton, was a sergeant in charge of No. 5 platoon of the 5th Bedfords. His platoon suffered terribly but "the men were great". Referring to the attack he said the men ran forward like hares.

Six months of torture was the description given to the campaign by Mr Albert John Day, 6 Gaitskill Terrace, Luton, who was a company sergeant major.

"When I went across I weighed 16 stone, but in six months I was only 10 stone," he said. "And I was in really good health, too, compared with the other."

Mr Day said there were many incidents best not recalled. "It was a horrible show for anyone to be in," he said.

Mr G. Smart, 21 Burr Street, Luton, who was a private in the Machine Gun Section, said the nature of the country imposed great hardships on the men. "We were never out of rifle fire, let along the big guns," he said. "It was what you would call an upside down land."

The 1/5th Bedfords had the distinction of being the only unit indicated by name in a disposition map issued by the enemy intelligence service, and discovered at the headquarters of the Yilderim Army Group at Nazareth in 1918.

The unit had apparently become of more than usual interest to the enemy staff, with the result that their whereabouts became a matter for special attention and mention.

 

Gallipoli: "No-one can imagine the torture and terror"

 

Herbert A. Bailey, 1360, of the Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division, writing from Gallipoli Peninsula under date of June 26th, to his parents Mr and Mrs W. J. Bailey, 64 Grove Road, Luton, says:

"I returned to my dug-out on Tuesday after eight days in the firing line. We made an attack on the enemy's trenches which unfortunately proved unsuccessful. We charged at night and, my word, what a night of horrors! I passed through hell that night and only God's mercy saved me.

"I stood in a hail of bullets and my friends near me were being killed or wounded. This lasted 10 hours. We sustained a rather heavy loss. No-one can imagine the torture and terror suffered on the battlefield. When you see big, strong men crying like frightened babies, see men pray and blood flow like water, it makes you wonder whether you are civilised or not. I saw one man's hair turn from black to white in a few minutes. I have seen men mad with terror.

"You have only to read the letters of the Luton fellows who made that Territorial charge described in the News of June 3rd to understand something of what we pass through. I was sorry to learn so many fellows we know had been cut up. How our own friends are falling! The realities of war are getting nearer to our hearts. I was surprised to learn that all these fellows were now at the front.

"The only things to end this war are men and munitions. I wish I had the power to write more freely I would tell you what I think of the situation out here. You may think things are better here than in France, but that is not so. There is more convenience in France. Here we are in the open dry country, living in holes in the ground, not a building of any kind for miles - nothing but war. And the Turks can fight, my word. I only hope you have conscription by this time.

"The more I see of war the more proud I feel I am out here. I should say every young man at home not is feeling more or less ashamed of himself. I am afraid there does not seem the remotest sign of peace yet, but something may happen out here before long.

"In September here we get deluges of rain, but so far I have not seen any rain since I left England. The sun is very hot all day, but cool at night, when we work and feed in comfort. Flies are a pest. If you spread a piece of bread and jam in the middle of the day, in a second you can't see it for flies.

"We are getting on well for food now. Of course, we get a little luxury sometimes. Occasionally, for instance, I barter with the French for coffee in exchange for cigarettes, make myself coffee (black), and smoke cigarettes "a la France". We now get tinned meat and vegetables. These I warm up, make coffee, with jam for dessert, then finish with bread and cheese.

"We get plenty of cigarettes and tobacco, matches etc, so of course we get a little pleasure in between. Since we have been in the rest camp I have been down to the beach every day for a bathe. We lay in the water and sands smoking cigarettes for an hour or so. This like being at Margate. We appreciate a bathe after being eight days without even a wash. Of course, we get a little work even while resting. I went down to shore yesterday to assist in unloading a cargo.

"I was digging in a trench on Thursday when I was struck on the boot by a 4 in shrapnel shell. I saw it coming and managed to get out of the way in the nick of time. I hope these things do not alarm you. Although I reaslie only God's mercy can bring me through, I am absolutely unmoved. My nerves are strong, I feel brave and confident, and my power of endurance has been a surprise even to myself. I am enjoying the best of health and strength, and none of these terrors move me in the slightest.

"If I survive all this I shall have had a wonderful experience, but whatever my fate you may rest assured that I always keep a brave heart and cheerful spirits, and do my duty with the rest. I do not think of dying, but if I should I thought it would be a great consolation to you all to know I am so happy and proud. So you need never have the least anxiety about your boy, for whom I know you pray, but trust you do not worry. I often wonder whether you do, because I know our people at home are suffering also.

"I look forward to the days when we shall all meet again to enjoy the blessings we possessed, and which, till you have been face to face with death, you do not realise their value. I advise you to make every minute of your life a precious one."

[The Luton News: Thursday, July 15th, 1915]

 

Go-ahead to evacuate Gallipoli

 

Nearly 20 years after Gallipoli, a Lutonian paid a visit and took these pictures of the Anzac and Hill 10 Rosemary cemeteries and Turkish trenches still visible on Achi Baba.

 

On December 7th, 1915, the British Government finally sanctioned the evacuation of Gallipoli by British and Empire troops. It was a campaign that had ultimately proved foolhardy after a badly handled start. The heroism of troops like the 1/5th Bedfords (the Yellow Devils) was the only bright spot, if at a high cost in terms of lives and men wounded and afflicted by dysentery.

On December 30th, 1915, the Luton News published a diary of salient dates in the Dardanelles following the official report of the withdrawal of troops.

In a letter also published, Bandmaster W. Goodger, 1/5th Bedfords, pointed out that in the August 15th advance mentioned in the Luton News list, the 10th Irish Division and the 162nd Brigade took the heaviest work. The Brigade at that time consisted of the 1/5th Bedfords and the 10th and 11th London Regiment.

Bandmaster Goodger, who was in hospital at Nottingham, wrote: "For the fine work accomplished by our regiment and also in memory of the dear comrades we lost, and the noble manner in which we were led by Col Brighten on that day, I trust you will give it publicity."

The last British troops involved in the Gallipoli withdrawal were evacuated on January 9th, 1916. A few days later, on January 14th, the Beds Advertiser gave its assessment of the Dardanelles campaign.

It wrote: "Happily this ill-starred episode is ended. Foreign newspapers tell us that there is joy in Constantinople, but, however that may be, there is heartfelt relief and satisfaction in England at the abandonment of the expedition, and felicitations have been general on the brilliant manner in which the evacuation has been accomplished. By providential favour, both the withdrawal from Suvla Bay and Gallipoli have been carried out at a minimum sacrifice of life and infliction of casualties, whereat we all rejoice.

"Thus closes one of the most disastrous chapters in the history of the present war. Ill-conceived, marked by indecision and a deadly inertia fatal to its success, it has proved terribly costly in its toll of human life to say nothing of treasure and material. The only redeeming feature is the unexampled and unforgettable bravery of the young and inexperienced but dauntless units which took a hand in it.

"One can hardly think of the tremendous sacrifice - so nobly grand, yet unavailing - of our own brave lads and their Australian cousins, without the suspicion of a lump in the throat. Though unavailing, their brave and valiant struggle constitutes an epic of grandeur and self-sacrifice hard to match in Britain's annals. Tremendous indeed has been the toll exacted as the price of the magnificent but disastrous adventure.

"An impossible task, we have all along opined. Yet if leaders could but have risen to the height of their possibilities, how different might have been the sequel."

One man who was not rejoicing was the First Lord of the Admiralty, a young Winston Churchill (pictured right), who was largely blamed for the poor planning of the campaign and its ultimate failure. He was forced to resign, while venting his wrath on Sir Charles Monro, who succeeded Sir Ian Hamilton in command at Gallipoli, and had ordered the evacuation following the Government sanction. The withdrawal was the only part of the adventure successfully accomplished. However, Churchill said Monro "came, saw and capitulated" and then unsuccessfully sought to vindicate his own part in the campaign at an inquiry.

 

Letters home from wounded in hospital

 

Letters were received at the their homes in Luton from men in hospital in Alexandria and Malta, some as a result of wounds sustained at Gallipoli and others for illnesses.

Mrs Lambert, of 131 Hitchin Road, had heard from the Territorial Records office, Warley, Essex, that her husband, Sgt HARRY J. LAMBERT, 2633, was dangerously ill in hospital at Alexandria in Egypt, having been admitted on August 23rd. The nature of his illness was not stated.

Sgt Lambert (pictured, right), the son of Mr and Mrs John H. Lambert, of 169 Hitchin Road, had a lifelong connection with the Army, having been born in barracks while his father was serving with the Royal Fusiliers. Not yet 35, he had been in the Army and the Territorials for 20 years. He was band-sergeant with the Territorials when war broke out and was then made sergeant of the stretcher-bearers. He was the father of a boy and a girl.

Mrs Lambert received a letter from her husband on August 11th from which, in the absence of official details concerning the removal of her husband to hospital, she had drawn conclusions that he had been wounded, as the letter came from the Gallipoli Peninsular.

The letter said: "We have arrived in the Gallipoli Peninsular somewhere. We have not been in action yet, but expect to have our first experience tomorrow. We have seen plenty of sights so soon. We are bivouacking by the side of the sea, living on active service rations, making out own tea etc. It is quite interesting to sit here and watch the shells dropping around our ships laying close by, but luckily they have not hit any of them yet."

The relatives of Pte GEORGE BROWN, 4485, whose home is at 16 St Ann's Road, Luton, have received an official intimation that he is wounded and in hospital at Alexandria, but no date was given. Pte Brown wrote shortly after landing that he had been in action and was all right. He has since sent one of the service postcards saying he had been admitted to hospital but hoped to be discharged soon.

In hospital at Malta suffering from a poisoned hand was Pte HERBERT SMITH, 3477, of 58 New Town Street, Luton. He is single and a former employee of the Midland Railway.

Sgt G. ELSTON, of 13 Jubilee Street, Luton was taken seriously ill on the voyage out from England and was left at Malta. He is now rapidly recovering from an operation at Valetta Military Hospital.

Pte HARRY DOLBY, of 8 Adelaide Terrace, Luton, is an inmate of Tigne Hospital, Malta, having been shot in the arm. Writing from hospital to his mother he says: "Just a few lines to let you know I am getting on all right, but slightly wounded in the left arm, and in hospital at Malta." Pte Dolby is one of four fighting brothers. Two of them, L-Cpl Alfred and Pte Percy, are in the Dardanelles, and the fourth, Pte Stanley, is now at Landguard waiting to return to the Western Front, where he received a bullet wound in the left arm during the fighting for Hill 60.

[The Luton News: Thursday, September 2nd, 1915]

 

Lieutenant Colonel Edgar William Brighten

Title (Mr/ Mrs/ Capt/ Rev etc): 

First name(s): 

Edgar William

Surname only: 

Brighten

 

The promotion of Major Edgar William Brighten, of the 5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel was announced in The London Gazette on Saturday night (May 15th, 1915).

Lieut-Col Brighten, although only just gazetted to the rank, had in actual fact been in command of the battalion since the beginning of the year. The retirement of his predecessor, Lieut-Col Butler, on medical grounds, was only formally announced a few days earlier, but he had taken no active part in the training of the battalion for some weeks, and, although only now officially notified, the promotion of the new commanding officer was dated as from January 25th.

He had been associated with the battalion since 1898. He joined as a subaltern just before the South African War, and took his place with the other Bedfordshire Volunteers in the fighting line at the Cape.

For some years he had been in command of the Luton detachment of the 5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, and he had been a very keen advocate of the Territorial movement. Only three or four years earlier he was still holding the rank of captain, but he had gone the next two steps very quickly, and the men serving under him in what was now the 1/5th Battalion were confident that if he got the opportunity he would help them to make a good name for the battalion in the firing line.

Edgar William Brighten was born in Rochford, Southend, on May 18th, 1880, to Capt William and Fanny Brighten and at the time of the 1891 Census was living in the Essex Town with his parents, a sister and two brothers, and a grandmother of independent means. After his military service in South Africa, he followed in his father's footsteps and in 1904 became a solicitor.

The Brighten family moved to Brooke House, Biggleswade, when Edgar was 16. On April 29th, 1905, the young Captain Brighten married local doctor's daughter Sarah Hirell (Sallie) James at Biggleswade Parish Church. His father was a partner in Brighten and Lemon, solicitors in Biggleswade, before Edgar was in practice in London and finally Luton, where he was a partner in the Chapel Street firm of Brown and Brighten, solicitors.

By the time of the 1911 Census Edgar and Sarah were living at Lingfield, Lansdowne Road, Luton, with three-year-old daughter Muriel Helen. They employed a cook and a housemaid. He later had two more children, both sons.

[The Luton News, May 20th, 1915, and Biggleswade Chronicle, May 5th, 1905]

 

Edgar Brighten was educated at Fauconberg School, Eccles, and Christ Church College, Blackheath. He was commissioned in the 2nd Volunteer Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment in 1898, serving with the Volunteer Company - later the 5th Battalion - in the South African (Boer) War. He served in Orange Free State and Western Transvaal, receiving the Queen's Medal, with four clasps and the South Africa war medal.

He was promoted captain in the 3rd Volunteer Service Company in 1902 and transferred to the 5th Battalion when the Territorial Force was constituted. At the coronation of King George V in May 1910 he was in command of a representative detachment of his battalion and was awarded the Coronation Medal.

In 1912 he was promoted major and at the outbreak of the Great War he was second-in-command of the 5th Battalion.

He went on to command the 5th Battalion throughout most of the war, seeing service in Gallipoli (where he adopted the name Yellow Devils for his battalion), the Suez Canal and Palestine. For his service at the Suvla Bay landing in the Gallipoli campaign he was awarded the C.M.G. (Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George), and in Palestine he earned the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order). He was mentioned in despatches five times.

He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel from January 1915 (although the appointment was not announced officially until May 15th that year. He was given a commission in the Regular Army as a major on February 21st, 1917, and promoted Brevet Lieutenant Colonel on June 3rd 1919.

After the Armistice, during the rising in Egypt, Lieut Col Brighten was in charge of an important district in Upper Egypt. Later he was given command of the 7th Royal Welsh Fusiliers and appointed O. C. in Cyprus. It was at this time that he was awarded the T. D. (Territorial Decoration), having completed 23 years in the Volunteer and Territorial Force.

In 1920 he was posted to the 2nd Battalion Beds & Herts Regiment (created 1919) and served for eight years in India, four of them as instructor in the Senior Officers' School at Belgaum in Bengal.

On completing his appointment in January 1928 he rejoined the 2nd Battalion at Dover as second-in-command. He was given command of the Battalion in June 1929.

By June 3, 1933, when he retired from command of the 2nd Battalion, he was the only battalion commander of the Regular Army who held the Territorial Decoration.

He became president of the Old Comrades Association of the 5th Beds, and in 1936 he moved to the then Rhodesia, where he bought a large farm.

[Extracts from the archives of The Luton News]

 

Service or Civilian?: 

Regiment: 

Medals Awarded: 

Employer: 

Brown and Brighten

War time / or Pre War occupation: 

Solicitor

Place of Birth: 

Southend
United Kingdom

Place of Death: 

United Kingdom

Grave Location: 

United Kingdom

World War I Address: 

Lingfield
Lansdowne Road
Luton
United Kingdom

Individual Location: 

Classifications: 

Images: 

Lieut-Col Edgar Brighten

Year of Birth: 

1 880

Month of Birth: 

May

Day of Birth: 

18

Keywords: 

Most Relevant Date: 

Saturday, May 15, 1915

Source: 

Source Date: 

Thursday, May 20, 1915

Lieutenant Frank Stuart Shoosmith

Title (Mr/ Mrs/ Capt/ Rev etc): 

First name(s): 

Frank Stuart

Surname only: 

Shoosmith

Lieutenant Shoosmith was the son of Francis Shoosmith a Straw Hat Manufacturer of Hart Hill, Luton. He was killed on 21st August 1915, aged 21.

Lieutenant Shoosmith  arrived in Gallipoli with the 5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment on 29th July 1915 and survived the initial attack on 15th August at which his conduct was noted as being exceptional. 
 

‘Nearly all the NCOs and men of his machine gun section were knocked out; but still, with only one man to aid him, he fought his guns with the greatest gallantry, simply sweeping the ground ahead of him and clearing the way for the advance of his comrades.

Major JE Hill …at once saw the straight of which the Machine Gun Section was reduced, and, going across to Shoosmith, he asked: “Who is to fit the gun if you get knocked out? No one else knows enough about it up here; your section is gone, and you had better show me how to do it.” The breezy answer he received from young Shoosmith was: “Oh you just pull this and press that! It’s quite simple.” And during this conversation, mark you, Shoosmith was pumping rounds into the Turks.’

Shoosmith’s company were all dead or wounded but he stayed at his gun. On the 21st August he was sent a message to report to Headquarters. On the way he was shot in the head by a sniper and died where he fell.

He was the son of Francis and Minnie Shoosmith, of Hart Hill, Luton; and his full biography can be found on the website of the Bedfordshire Regiment.

He is remembered on the Helles Memorial which stands on the tip of the Gallipoli peninsula. The obelisk is over 30 metres high and is designed to be seen by ships in the Dardanelles. It records the names of Commonwealth servicemen who served there and who have no known grave.

Service or Civilian?: 

Regiment: 

Medals Awarded: 

Place of Birth: 

Luton
United Kingdom

Place of Death: 

Turkey

War Memorial Location: 

Grave Location: 

No Known Grave
Turkey

Luton ward: 

World War I Address: 

St Kilda
Hart Hill
Luton
LU2 0BA
United Kingdom

Files: 

Individual Location: 

Classifications: 

Images: 

Shoosmith grave

Connects to: 

Year of Birth: 

1 894

Year of Death: 

1 915

Month of Death: 

Aug

Day of Death: 

21

Most Relevant Date: 

Saturday, August 21, 1915

Luton casualties at Gallipoli

 

The Luton men of the 1/5th Bedfordshires killed in action, who died of wounds or were wounded in Gallipoli 100 years ago. This list will, sadly, grow.

KILLED/DIED OF WOUNDS

OFFICERS

CUMBERLAND: Capt Brian Clarke - The Lynchet, Hart Hill, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

BAKER: Capt Charles Tanqueray - The Rectory, West Street, Dunstable (killed in action, August 15th).

SHOOSMITH: Lieut Frank Stuart - St Kilda, Hart Hill, Luton (killed in action August 21st).

LYDEKKER: Lieut Cyril Richard - The Lodge, Harpenden (killed in action, August 15th).

BRIGHTEN: Sec-Lieut Ralph Dalton Jarvis, brother of Commanding Officer - London (killed in action, August 15th).

 

NCOs AND MEN

ABBOTT: L-Cpl Rowland, 4025 - 77 Chase Street, Luton (died of wounds, August 21st).

AMBRIDGE: Pte Charles John, 3500 - 74 Dane Road, Luton (killed in action August 15th).

ANDERSON: Pte Edward, 4386 - 27 Brache Street, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

BACCHUS: Charles, 4414 - 6 Bolton Road, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

BARTON: Pte Cyril Bert, 3120 - 18 Brache Street, Luton - (died of wounds, August 17th).

BERRY: Pte Harry, 4087 - Biscot Road, Luton (killed in action, August 15th*).

BLAYDON: Pte Albert Edward, 5073 - The Knapps, Toddington Road, Leagrave (killed in action, August 16th).

BROWN: Pte George Henry, 4350 - 16 St Ann's Road, Luton

BUCKINGHAM: Sgt David William, 2911 - 82 Warwick Road, Luton (killed in action, August 16th).

COUSINS: Pte Alfred Richard, 4461 - 47 Chapel Street, Luton (killed in action, August 22nd).

DUMPLETON: L-Cpl Walter, 3715 - 33 Burr Street, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

ELLINGHAM: Pte Alfred James, 3915 - 39 Hibbert Street, Luton (killed in action, August 16th).

FENSOME Pte William, 4487 - 14 Park Place, Park Street, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

FLORIN: Pte William Joseph, 4081 - lodging at 46 Langley Road [now Latimer Road], Luton (died of wounds, September 17th, 1915).

FOSTER: Sgt William Henry, 2958 - 2 Bolton Road, Luton (killed in action, August 17th).

GOODSHIP: Pte Horace Arthur, 3840 - Stopsley (killed in action, August 16th).

GRAVES: Pte Alexander, 4489 - 33 York Street, Luton (killed in action, August 15th*).

HINKS: Sgt Albert, 2382 - 36 Windsor Street, Luton (killed in action, August 16th).

HURD: Pte Leonard, 3449 - 32 Beech Road, Luton (died of wounds, August 16th).

HUTCHINGS: Pte George Hutchings, 4229 - lodging at 7 Burr Street, Luton (killed in action, August 16th).

IBBETT: Pte William George, 3073 - 6 Warwick Road, Luton (died at sea from pneumonia).

JARVIS: Cpl William, 3899 - 27 Tavistock Street, Luton (died of wounds on hospital ship, August 20th).

LEWIN: Pte Ralph Stanley, 3875 - 54 Grange Road, Luton (killed in action, September 15th).

LLOYD: Pte Alfred Fieldhouse, 4245 - 40 Milton Road, Luton (killed in action, August 16th).

MARDLE: Pte Horace, 4065 - Windsor Cottages, Caddington (died of wounds, August 16th).

MITCHELL: Pte Albert Edward, 4401 - 40 John Street, Luton.

PAYNE: L-Sgt Albert, 2289 - 2 Beech Road, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

PAYNE: Cpl Nathan, 3457 - 2 Beech Road, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

PUDDEPHATT: Harold Fred, 3066 - 50 Butlin Road, Luton (killed in action, August 15th*).

RIMMER: Pte Frank, 4085 - 153 Tennyson Road, Luton (killed in action, August 15th*).

SMITH: Pte Alfred, 4275 - 4 Arthur Street, Luton (killed in action, August 16th).

SNOXELL: Pte Cyril, 3099 - 84 Grange Road, Luton (killed in action, August 15th).

STENHOUSE: Pte John, 3553 - 36 Clifton Road, Luton (died of wounds on hospital ship, August 18th*).

THURLOW: Pte Frederick William, 2762 - 216 Wellington Street, Luton (died of wounds, August 17th).

TUFFNELL: Pte Benjamin, 4291 - 15 York Street, Luton (killed in action, August 16th).

* Date based on eye-witness accounts rather than official record.

 

WOUNDED

ALLEN: Pte J, 3941 - Luton.

ALLEN: Sgt W. G. - 63 Cambridge Street, Luton.

ANDERSON: Pte Edward - 27 Brache Street, Luton.

ARNOLD: Pte Samuel - 10 Chase Street, Luton.

ARNOLD: Pte W. - 102 Highbury Road, Luton.

BARKER: Pte A. - 5 Buxton Road, Luton.

BARTON: Pte A. - 107 New Town Street, Luton.

BONHAM: Pte H. - 3 Naseby Road, Luton,

BREED: Pte Bertie - 7 Talbot Road, Luton.

BUCKINGHAM: Sgt Aubrey - 82 Warwick Road, Luton.

BUCKINGHAM: Pte Frank - 82 Warwick Road, Luton.

COOK: Pte George T. - 24 Essex Street, Luton.

COOK: Pte Herbert - 65 Langley Street, Luton.

CUMBERLAND: Pte J. W. - 121 High Town Road, Luton.

DIMMOCK: Pte H. - Dordans Road, Leagrave.

DOLBY: L-Cpl Alfred - 8 Adelaide Terrace, Luton.

DOLBY: Pte Harry - 8 Adelaide Terrace, Luton.

DUDLEY: Pte Frederick, Machine Gun Section - 82 Collingdon Street, Luton.

DUNHAM: Pte Sidney - 31 Brunswick Street, Luton.

EVERITT: Pte F. S. - 16 Hastings Street, Luton.

FISHER: Pte John Thomas - 33 Essex Street, Luton.

FLITTON: Pte William George - 1 Letchworth Road, Limbury.

FOX: Pte Arthur - 108 Selbourne Road, Luton.

GARRETT: Pte Walter - 82 New Town Street, Luton.

GOODWIN: Pte Sidney - 5 Belmont Road, Luton.

GOYMER: Pte W. J. - 15 Crawley Green Road, Luton.

GRUBB: Pte E. - 9 Windmill Street, Luton.

HALFHEAD: Pte Percy - 20 Wood Street, Luton.

HALFPENNY: Pte A. - 29 York Street, Luton.

HALFPENNY: Pte C. H. - 29 York Street, Luton.

HAWKES: Pte G. L. - 58 Baker Street, Luton.

HIGGINS: Pte Percy - 12 Holly Street, Luton. [Initially reported as killed].

HILLYARD: Pte Eric - 29 Liverpool Road, Luton.

HOLDERNESS: Pte Horace - 33 Duke Street, Luton.

HOLT: Pte Bert - 48 Dudley Street, Luton.

HUNT: Pte Henry - 30 Princess Street, Luton.

IMPEY: Pte Percy William - 7 Stanley Street, Luton.

JANES: Pte J. W. - Waller Avenue, Leagrave.

JEFFERSON: Pte Walter - 13 Duke Street, Luton.

KING: Pte William - 6 Tavistock Street, Luton.

KIRTON: Pte Richard Thomas - 17 Arthur Street, Luton.

LAMBERT: Sgt Harry J.- 131 Hitchin Road, Luton.

LEE: Pte A. W. - ex-employee at the Luton Gas Works.

LEMMON: Pte J. W. - 34 Spencer Road, Luton.

LISTER: Pte Wiliam - 36 Shirley Road, Luton.

MARLOW: Pte Horace - 77 Buxton Road, Luton.

MITCHINSON: Drummer W. - 3 Guildford Street, Luton.

MORGAN: Pte Herbert - 5 Peache Street, Luton.

OAKLEY: Pte Horace - 8 Queen Square, Luton.

OLNEY: Pte Cyril - 66 Ivy Road, Luton.

PAKES: Signaller Arthur - 31 Malvern Road, Luton.

PARSONS: Pte Arthur - 32 Chase Street, Luton. [Initially reported as killed].

PARSONS: Signaller A. - 31 Malvern Road, Luton.

PARSONS: Pte William - 32 Chase Street, Luton.

PARSONS: Pte William - 45 Manor Path, Luton.

PATES: Pte Arthur - Luton.

PAYNE: Pte R. F. - Luton.

PETERS: Pte A. - Luton.

PEARSON: Drummer C. - 1 Kings Road, Luton.

PINNEY: L-Cpl P. - 22 Essex Street, Luton.

PINNEY: Pte William - 22 Essex Street, Luton.

PLUMMER: Pte Arthur - 61 Collingdon Street, Luton.

POLLARD: Pte Alfred - 44 Jubilee Street, Luton.

REYNOLDS: L-Cpl Percy W. - 68 Cobden Street, Luton.

RICHARDSON: Pte William - 12 Inkerman Street, Luton.

RUTTER: Pte L. - 2 Front Street, Slip End.

SAUNDERS: Pte R. D. - 24 Church Street, Luton.

SCOTT: Pte Harold - 76 Leagrave Road, Luton.

SINCLAIR: Pte James - Wimbourne Road, Luton.

SKINNER: Pte Raymond - 12 Holly Walk, Luton.

SMITH: Pte Albert - Stopsley (dysentry).

SNOXELL: PteCyril - 84 Grange Road, Luton.

SNOXELL: Pte Harry - 31 Boyle Street, Luton.

SPACEY: Pte A. - 8 Alfred Street, Luton.

STANFORD: Pte Percy - 29 Langley Road, Luton.

STIMPSON: Pte Ernest - 63 Windmill Street, Luton

THRUSSELL: Pte William - 97 Church Street, Luton

TITMUSS: Pte Albert - Slip End.

TITMUSS: Pte Alfred - 40 Milton Road, Luton.

TOYER: Pte H. S. - 22 Duke Street, Luton.

TURNER: Pte Charles - 27 Baker Street, Luton.

TURNER: Pte Sidney W. - 8 Ash Road, Luton.

WARD: Pte James - Mill View Cottage, Letchworth Road, Leagrave.

WARD: Pte John- 3 East Avenue, Park Street, Luton.

WARING: Cpl S. - 26 Elizabeth Street, Luton.

WEBDALE: Pte Percy - 10 Stuart Street, Luton.

WHITE: Pte Charles 'Cinder' - 56 Frederic Street, Luton.

WHITTEMORE: Pte E. A. - 42 Kings Road, Luton.

WILDMAN: Pte Ivan - 27 Ridgway Road, Luton.

WITHERIDGE: Pte H. - Luton.

 

OTHER REGIMENTS

KILLED

ABRAHAMS: Sapper William Edwin, EARE - 6 Selbourne Road, Luton (died from wounds, September 2nd).

BETTS: Pte Joseph Edward, Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance - 57 Ashton Road, Luton (killed in action, October 8th).

BUNKER: Saddler Albert Walter, EARE - 4 Bridge Street, Luton (killed in action, August 21st).

CLARK: Pte Ewart William, RAMC - 7 Park Road West, Luton (lost at sea, August 13th).

DEACON: Second-Lieut Raymond Eric, 10th North Staffs Regiment - 11 Dunstable Road, Luton (killed in action, August 7th).

TURNER: Pte Frank Joseph, 5/13th Battalion, Australian Infantry - 10 Ash Road, Luton (killed in action, August 22nd).

WORKER: Sapper Richard, 1/2nd Field Company, E.A.R.E. - 87 Warwick Road, Luton (killed in action, September 21st).

 

Luton soldier's Gallipoli memories

Battle briefing at Gallipoli

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                       Battle briefing at Gallipoli

 

Under the heading "My war story", a Luton Terrier with the initials C. G. O. wrote of his experiences in Gallipoli and his return to England, wounded on board a hospital ship. [The initials suggest the writer may have been Pte Cyril Gilbert Olney, 3930, 1/5th Bedfords, whose home was at 66 Ivy Road, Luton. He had previously written to his mother from hospital].

It was in the sunny month of July that for the first time in my life I left the shores of England for an unknown destination, for a purpose known only too well. It was on the eve of my 20th birthday that I left the city of St Albans. We were cheered heartily as we left the parade ground, en route for the station, the friends, of whom we had many, well knowing our mission.

"We entrained, and as the train moved away in the small hours of the morning we heard a cheering which would ever be impressed on our hearts. It was the cheering of mothers, wives, sweethearts and friends - their last farewell before we left England.

Sleep we could not. We were all wondering what would be our fate and when we should return to the old home fire again. Glorious were the glimpses we caught of the countryside we were leaving behind, perhaps never to see them again.

We stopped on the way, but nothing happened until we reached Exeter, when, through the kindness of the Mayoress, we were supplied with tea and cakes and a small card on which were the words, "From the Mayoress of Exeter and Committee. Wishing you luck". Then off to ------.

The day was well advanced when we arrived, but no time was lost. We left the train and formed up ready for embarking. After all goods had been transferred, we were told off in different sections for our berths. The ship which was singled out to take us across the ocean was the ------, which was used as a troopship during the Boer War.

It was after one o'clock in the afternoon of a glorious day when we sailed away from England's sunny shores, experiencing for the first time what it was like to leave old friends behind and journey to a land unknown, yet happy in the thought of going away to help crush the barbarous enemy in the cause of right against might.

As we sailed away we began to feel the roll of the boat, and many a lad began to feel dizzy. When we could no longer see land we partook of our first meal on board ship. The first thing to be done was to become acquainted with the numerous rules of the ship.

Next morning the fun began, as the majority of us were in a state of mal-de-mer commonly known as sea sickness. This continued for two or three days as we were going through the Bay of Biscay, but after that we got used to the rocking of the boat and all was well.

The weather was delightful, but we could not see any land. We passed Gibraltar on the night of Friday, the 30th, but could not see anything owing to the heavy fog. As we neared Malta we were were accosted by boats of all descriptions. We stopped at Malta for a few hours, and then steamed off for the Near East.

We arrived at Alexandria on August 6th and stayed there for a day. While there we went for a route march for a stretch, and saw both sides of the city. In the evening of the 7th we journey on our last lap. The 10th saw us at ------ Island, the naval base for the Mediterranean. This the last stopping place, and also a hospital base.

On the 11th we landed at Suvla Bay on 'A' Beach. We were soon at work making our base satisfactory and, after unloading stores, we prepared a meal and settled down for the night. During the night we heard for the first time what a pitched battle was like, as both sides were firing heavily, and our naval guns were booming consistently.

Next morning we were greeted with a fusilade of shells, but they all missed their target. We were soon busy trench digging and making fortifications and strongholds. While this was going on the enemy snipers were busy practising and, unluckily, they managed to hit one or two. Small parties of us went out hunting snipers, and met with some measure of success. This sort of thing went on for two or three days and we lost men daily, being hourly exposed to the aims of the Turkish gunners.

After several light skirmishes with small scouting parties we were ordered to make a concerted attack on a very commanding position at noon on Sunday, August 15th. We were expected, evidently, as shells and bullets were flying all over the place.

As we neared the positions we could see that we had a hard task in front of us. We were losing men by the score, and the groans were dreadful. As we got into the thickest of the fight the ground was scattered with dead.

Ah, those awful moments, when all expected every moment to be laid low, yet never flinching or turning, only stopping now and then to tend a wounded comrade and then on again, stumbling, parched but with only one cry coming from the mouth of our leader, "On, boys, on!"

We were within grasp of our treasure when a shrapnel shell burst directly overhead, depositing itself in many places. I chanced to turn just then and saw our Brigadier was wounded, and almost at the same time I felt a thud in my right thigh. At first I thought a piece of rock had struck me, and continued on my way. Presently I felt a stiffness developing in my leg, and putting my hand there I felt the throbbing of free-flowing blood.

Pausing for an examination, I found I had been struck at the top of the thigh and the bullet had gone through over a foot of flesh and deposited itself near the skin on the inside of my leg. I then proceeded to the dressing station, which was three miles away. My leg was very painful and walking was extremely difficulty, but I managed to get there and, after several preliminaries, I was taken to the landing base. Here I remained until the morning.

All this time not a drop of water or a bit of food had crossed my lips. About 7 o'clock on the 16th we were taken down to the beach and put on a lighter. Just as I was moved the Turks shelled the hospital and killed several poor fellows.

Once on the hospital ship we were speedily attended to. Later we were landed at Lemnos Hospital. After two weeks of dressing, my leg began to heal but, unfortunately, I contracted dysentery, from which I have since been suffering. After three weeks of agony and terrible pain I found a slight relief, but was in a terrible condition.

Later I was moved to the convalescent camp, but here, owing to the unsuitable condition of the food, I grew worse, and was eventually put down for England. On October 18th I was transferred to HM hospital ship ------. She sailed from Lemnos on the 21st and, for the second time in my history, passed through those numerous islands which compose the Greek Archipelago in the Aegean Sea.

We steamed along very quickly, and occasionally caught glimpses of the sunny shores of Southern European. Our only stop was at Gibraltar, where we arrived on October 24th, and stopped for an hour or so. It was very fascinating to see Britain's great stronghold glaring in the sun - so solemn and so firm.

We moved on, and came in view of the old country once more in the early evening of October 27th, and the land first sighted proved to be the Isle of Wight. After a lot of manoeuvring we came to Southampton Docks and were moored alongside, then transferred from ship to train and on to Manchester. I was taken to Tootal Road Auxiliary Hospital, Weaste [Salford], and after a few weeks transferred to Alfred Street Hospital, where this story is written.

One thing I should like to say. The friends here, of whom I have many, have been extremely kind in their attentions towards me, and have earned a permanent place in my memory.

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: February 19th, 1916]

 

Lutonians who served at Gallipoli

Event Start and End Date: 

15th August 1915

 

On June 5th, 1915, the 1/5th Bedfords ended a gruelling 60-miles farewell march around the county in Luton (picture above). They knew they were about to leave for foreign service, but not the date or destination as far as the men were concerned. A little over seven weeks later, in the early hours of July 26th, they were given a rousing send-off by the people of St Albans as they boarded trains to take them to Devonport to sail eventually to Gallipoli. (Follow this link for more Gallipoli stories).

Below is a compilation of lists of names and addresses of local men in the 1/5th Bedfords who fought at Gallipoli, as provided for the Luton News and Saturday Telegraph by their relatives at the time and published in August and September 1915.

Hopefully, a good number of these men did return and their names may not be therefore acknowledged by being included on rolls of honour. Other men will, of course, have gone to Gallipoli later to replaced those on the original lists who were killed or wounded. This list will be updated periodically to add any further names that appear in subsequent editions of Luton newspapers.

 

OFFICERS

Lieut-Col E. W. BRIGHTEN - Lingfield, Lansdowne Road, Luton.

Lieut F. W. BALLANCE - 9 Albion Street, Dunstable.

Lieut Frank HOBBS - Messrs George Kent Ltd, Luton.

Lieut C. R. JAMES - Biggleswade.

Second Lieut P. R. CHAUNDLER - Biggleswade.

Capt Brian C. CUMBERLAND - The Lynchet, Hart Hill, Luton.

Capt Charles Tanqueray BAKER - The Rectory, Dunstable.

Lieut Frank S. SHOOSMITH - St Kilda, Hart Hill, Luton.

Lieut Cyril R. LYDDEKER- The Lodge, Harpenden.

Capt E. T. MAIER - Luton

Second-Lieut R. D. J. BRIGHTEN - London

 

NCOs AND MEN

ABBOTT: L-Cpl Rowland, 4025 - Luton.

ADAMS: Pte Arthur - Charles Street, Luton.

ADAMS: Pte H - (Luton News staff member), St Albans.

ALLEN: Pte Bert W., 3662 - 30 Essex Street, Luton.

ALLEN: Pte E., 4099 - 76 Claremont Road, Luton.

ALLEN: Sgt W. G., 3118 - 63 Cambridge Street, Luton.

AMBRIDGE: Pte Charles John, 3500 - 74 Dane Road, Luton.

ANDERSON: Pte Edward - 27 Brache Street, Luton.

ANDERSON: Pte Herbert, 5048, B Coy - 73 Saxon Road, Luton.

ARNOLD: Pte Samuel, 3611 - 10 Chase Street, Luton.

ARNOLD: Pte W., 3799, B Company - 102 Highbury Road, Luton.

BACCHUS: Pte Charles, 4414, A Company - 6 Bolton Road, Luton.

BALDWIN: Pte Percy, 5084 - 40 Alma Street, Luton.

BAKER: Pte A. G., 4176 - 23 Collingdon Street, Luton

BAKER: Scout A. J., 3107 - 23 Collingdon Street, Luton.

BALDWIN: Pte Percy, 5084 - 40 Alma Street, Luton.

BALL: Pte William H., 4552 - 22 Bailey Street, Luton.

BARKER: Pte A., 4058 - 5 Buxton Road, Luton.

BARRETT: Pte George, 4091, B Company - 32 South Road, Luton.

BARTON: Pte A., 4179, - 107 New Town Street, Luton.

BARTON: Pte Cyril Bert, 3120 - 18 Brache Street, Luton.

BARTON: Pte J. W. - 80 Cambridge Street, Luton.

BASS: Sgt R. E. - Collingdon Street, Luton. [Later promoted Sec-Lieut]

BASS: Pte Stanley, 3090 - 76 Hitchin Road, Luton.

BAVISTER: Signaller William, 3720 - 41 Bailey Street, Luton.

BENT: Pte HORACE Stanley, 3078 - 55 Liverpool Road, Luton.

BERRY: Pte Harry - Biscot Road, Luton.

BIGGS: Pte G, 4182 - Dunstable Place, Luton.

BLAYDON: Pte A. - The Knapps, Toddington Road, Leagrave.

BLAYDON: Pte C. - The Knapps, Toddington Road, Leagrave.

BONHAM: Pte Hubert W., 3902, B Company - 3 Naseby Road, Luton.

BOON: Pte Fred, 3127 - 28 St Ann's Road, Luton.

BOUGHTON: Pte Charles, 3898 - 58 York Street, Luton.

BRAZIER: Coy Sgt-Major, 4391 - 25 Alma Street, Luton.

BREED: Pte Bertie - 7 Talbot Road, Luton.

BROWN: Pte F., 3133 - 4 Bolton Road, Luton.

BROWN: Sgt P., 3924 - 27 Pondwicks Road, Luton.

BROWN: Pte Percy, 4185 - 27 Whitby Road, Luton.

BROOKES: L-Cpl E. W., 4483 - 108 Ridgway Road, Luton.

BROOKS: Pte S., 4848, B Company - 75 Beech Road, Luton.

BUCKINGHAM: Sgt Aubrey - 82 Warwick Road, Luton.

BUCKINGHAM: Sgt David William - 82 Warwick Road, Luton.

BUCKINGHAM: Pte Frank - 82 Warwick Road, Luton.

BUNKER: L-Cpl F. W., 3950 - 28 Russell Rise, Luton.

BURGESS: Pte Arthur - 353 Hitchin Road, Luton.

BURGESS: Sgt T. - 6 Ashburnham Road, Luton.

BURGESS: Cpl W. J., 4034 - 4 Nursery Cottages, Old Bedford Road, Luton.

BURGESS: Scout Walter, 3920, A Company - 19 Milton Road, Luton.

BUSHBY: Pte W. G., 4190 - 17 Essex Street, Luton.

CANNON: Pte Francis, 5017 - 78 Boyle Street, Luton.

CHAMBERLAIN: Pte H. G. - 80 Cambridge Street, Luton.

CHAMBERS: Pte H. N. - 21 Crawley Green Road, Luton.

CHILTON: QM Sgt T. - 26 Melson Street, Luton.

COOK: Pte George Thomas, 4194 - 24 Essex Street, Luton.

COOK: Pte Herbert E. - 65 Langley Street, Luton.

COOTE: Pte Fred, 4047, B Company - 54 Ivy Road, Luton.

COUSINS: Pte A. R. - 47 Chapel Street, Luton.

COX: Pte S. A., 4071, B Company - 36 Elizabeth Street, Luton.

CREASEY: Pte Horace J. H., 3556 - 323 Hitchin Road, Luton.

CREW: Pte A. G., 4630, A Company - 64 Cobden Street, Luton.

CULLIS: Pte J. R., 3651, D Company - 49 Queen Street, Luton.

CUMBERLAND: Pte J. W., 3909, B Company - 121 High Town Road, Luton.

CURRANT: Pte Edward, 3846, B Company - 148 Castle Street, Luton.

CUSTANCE: Pte Harry - 15 King's Road, Luton.

DAY: L-Cpl Albert, 3106 - 25 Brache Street, Luton.

DAY: Pte S., 4204, B Company - Kingston Road, Luton.

DAY: Sgt A. J., 3963 - 6 Gaitskill Row, Luton.

DAY: Cpl W, 3642 - 196 High Town Road, Luton. (Promoted to L-Sgt).

DAY: Pte A., 3711 - 81 Boyle Street, Luton.

DAVIS: Pte H. B., 3638 - 30 Hastings Street, Luton.

DIMMOCK: Pte H. - 10 Dordans Road, Leagrave.

DIMMOCK: Pte W. J., 3514, B Company - 33 Albert Road, Luton.

DODD: Pte E., 3502, B Company - 31 Manor Path, Luton.

DOLBY: L-Cpl Alfred - 8 Adelaide Terrace, Luton.

DOLBY: Pte Harry, 3455 - 8 Adelaide Terrace, Luton.

DUNHAM: Pte Sidney - 31 Brunswick Street, Luton.

EAST: Pte A. S. - Tythe Cottages, Toddington Road, Leagrave.

EDWARDS: Pte Sidney George - 77 Russell Rise, Luton.

EGGLETON: Pte John, 3491 - 100 Maple Road, Luton.

ELLINGHAM: Pte Alfred J., 3915 - 39 Hibbert Street, Luton.

ELSTON: Sgt G., 2860 - 13 Jubilee Street, Luton.

EMERTON: Pte H., 3656, A Company - Chalton, Dunstable.

EVERITT: Pte F. S., 4076 , A Company - 16 Hastings Street, Luton.

FAIREY: Pte Edgar Victor - 5 Salisbury Road, Luton.

FENSOME: Pte Williams - 14 Park Place, Luton.

FIELD: Scout John, 3132 - 53 Alma Street, Luton.

FIELD: (S.B.) Pte George H., 3170, B Company - 201 High Town Road, Luton.

FISHER: Pte John Thomas - 33 Essex Street, Luton

FISHER: Pte Sidney, 4214, B Company - 19 Tavistock Street, Luton.

FLITTON: Pte William George, 5045 - 1 Letchworth Road, Limbury.

FOSKETT: Pte Henry - 11 Grafton Terrace, High Town, Luton.

FOSTER: Sgt W., 2958, First Class Machine Gun Instructor - 2 Bolton Road, Luton.

FOWLER: Pte A. T., 2958 - 17 Dane Road, Luton.

FOX: Pte Arthur, 3469, B Company - 108 Selbourne Road, Luton.

FRASER: Pte W., 3448 - 58 Malvern Road, Luton.

GAME: L-Cpl J., 4027 - 40 Burr Street, Luton.

GARRETT: Pte Walter, 4064 - 82 New Town Street, Luton.

GATHARD: Pte P., 3727, B Company - 14 Ridgway Road, Luton.

GATHERCOLE: Pte H., 4218, A Company - Saxon Road, Luton.

GILDER: Pte Claude - 35 Moor Street, Luton.

GOODSHIP: Pte Frederick, 3824 - 169 High Town Road, Luton..

GOODSHIP: Pte Horace, 3840 - The Green, Stopsley.

GOODWIN: Pte Horace, 3921 - 26 Richmond Hill, Luton.

GOODWIN: Pte Sidney, 4221 - 5 Belmont Road, Luton.

GORBOLD: Pte John, 4042 - 14 Vicarage Street, Luton.

GOYMER: Pte G. - 15 Crawley Green Road, Luton.

GOYMER: Pte W. J. - 15 Crawley Green Road, Luton.

GRAVES: Pte A, 4489 - 33 York Street, Luton.

GREGORY: Pte R. - 96Ashton Road, Luton.

GRUBB: Pte E., 2758 - 9 Windmill Street, Luton.

GUTTERIDGE: L-Cpl F. - Kingston Road, Luton.

HALFHEAD: Pte Percy Victor, 4996, D Company - 20 Wood Street, Luton.

HALFPENNY: Pte A., 3639 - 29 York Street, Luton.

HALFPENNY: Pte C. H., 3640 - 29 York Street, Luton.

HAMMETT: Pte H., 7135 - 114 Castle Street, Luton.

HAWES: Pte Arthur, 2959, Machine Gun Section - 18 Dudley Street, Luton. (Later promoted to L-Cpl).

HAWKES: Pte G. L. - 58 Baker Street, Luton.

HAYNES: L-Cpl T. W., 4089, B Company - 11 New Street, Luton.

HAYWARD: Pte A, 3439 - 9 New Town Street, Luton.

HEWLETT: Pte George Walter, 4225 - 3 Grange Road, Luton.

HEWITT: (S-B) Herbert, 3609 - 15 Essex Street, Luton.

HEWITT: Pte Stanley, 3130 - 30 Ashton Road, Luton.

HIGGINS: Pte Percy, 4073 - 12 Holly Street, Luton.

HIGHTON: Signaller J. - Havelock Road, Luton.

HILL: Pte Albert E., 2878, Machine Gun Section - 120 Oak Road, Luton.

HILL: Pte E., 4309, D Company - 8 New Street, Luton.

HILLYARD: Pte Eric, 5052 - 29 Liverpool Road, Luton.

HINKS: Sgt Albert, 2382 - 36 Windsor Street, Luton.

HOLDERNESS: Pte Horace - 33 Duke Street, Luton.

HOLT: Pte Bert, 4360 - 48 Dudley Street, Luton.

HORSLER: Pte Horace, 4494 - 12 Adelaide Terrace, Luton.

HUNT: Pte Henry - 30 Princess Street, Luton.

HURD: Pte Leonard, 3449 - 32 Beech Road, Luton.

IBBETT: Pte W. G., 3073 - 6 Warwick Road, Luton.

IMPEY: Pte Charles, 4232 - 32 Cobden Street, Luton.

IMPEY: Pte Percy William - 7 Stanley Street, Luton.

JANES: Pte J. W., 2784 - Rookwood, Waller Avenue, Leagrave.

JARVIS: Cpl William - 9 Surrey Street, Luton.

JEFFERSON: Pte Walter - 13 Duke Street, Luton.

KING: Pte Frederick (machine gunner), 4239 - 15 Crawley Road, Luton.

KING: Pte William, 3914 - 6 Tavistock Street, Luton.

KIRTON: Pte Richard Thomas - 17 Arthur Street, Luton.

KITCHENER: Pte C. - 92 Hitchin Road, Luton.

LACK: Pte S., 4829, C Company - 20 St Ann's Road, Luton.

LAKE: L-Sgt S. E., 3661, D Company - 30 Grange Road, Luton.

LAMBERT: Sgt Harry J., 2632 - 131 Hitchin Road, Luton.

LARGE: Pte A. E., 4496 - 25 Dorset Street, Luton.

LEE: Pte A. - ex-employee at Luton Gas Works.

LEMMON: Pte F. J. W. - 34 Spencer Road, Luton.

LEWIN: Pte R. - 54 Grange Road, Luton.

LEWZEY: Coy Sgt-Major W. J., 3043 - 41 Beech Road, Luton.

LISTER: Pte William, 3635 - 36 Shirley Road, Luton.

LLOYD: Pte Alfred Fieldhouse, 4245, B Company - 40 Milton Road, Luton.

LONG: Pte Alfred, 3845 - 19 Alma Street, Luton.

MARDLE: Pte Horace - Windsor Cottages, Caddington.

MARKS: Pte A., 2999 - Machine Gun Section - 23 Chequer Street, Luton.

MARLOW: Pte W. C. - 65 Hartley Road, Luton.

MARLOW: Pte G. - 65 Hartley Road, Luton.

MARLOW: Pte Horace - 77 Buxton Road, Luton.

MARSHALL: Pte George, 4371 - 7 Bailey Street, Luton.

MARTIN: Pte S. H., 4079 - The Firs, Dunstable Road, Leagrave.

MAYES: Signaller Albert - 18 Mill Street, Luton.

McCORMICK: Sgt Ronald, B Company - Salisbury Arms, Wellington Street, Luton.

McDADE: Scout B, 3452 - 59 Grange Road, Luton.

McDONALD: L-Cpl N. J., 2670 - 77 Church Street, Luton.

McLAREN: Pte Alexander - 96 Grange Road, Luton.

McPHEAT: Sgt John Glenmore - Letchworth Road, Limbury.

MEDCALFE: Pte H. J., 4370 - 33 Ashton Street, Luton.

MITCHINSON: Drummer W., 3628 - 3 Guildford Street, Luton.

MOATE: Pte Cecil, 4641 - 23 Union Street, Luton.

MOIR: Pte H., 4034, B Company - 55 Warwick Road, Luton.

MORGAN: Pte A. G., 3478 - 24 Back Street, Luton.

MORGAN: Pte Herbert, 4247 - 8 Peache Street, Luton.

MOSS: Pte H. W., 4423 - 49 May Street, Luton.

MUNN: Pte George, 4248 - 1 Richmond Hill, Luton.

OAKLEY: Pte Horace, 5085, A Company - 8 Queen Square, Luton.

O'BRIEN: L-Cpl, 3881, A Company - 88 Cromwell Road, Luton.

OLNEY: Pte Cyril, 3930 - 66 Ivy Road, Luton.

OSBORN: Pte T., 3016, D Company - 7 Stockingstone Road, Luton.

PAKES: Signaller A., 3951 - 31 Malvern Road, Luton.

PAKES: Pte Harry, 4257 - 48 Dudley Street, Luton.

PARSONS: Pte Arthur - 32 Chase Street, Luton.

PARSONS: Pte William, 4767 - 45 Manor Path Luton.

PATES: Pte Arthur - Luton.

PATTEN: Pte A., 3926 - 109 Ash Road, Luton.

PAYNE: Sgt Albert - 2 Beech Road, Luton.

PAYNE: Cpl Nathan, 3457 - 2 Beech Road, Luton.

PEARSON: Drummer C - Kings Road, Luton.

PECK: Pte E., 2900, D Company - 6 East Avenue, Park Street, Luton.

PERRINS: Pte Charles, 3620, D Company - 44 Ash Road, Luton.

PETERS: Pte F., 3809 - Stopsley.

PHILLIPS: L-Cpl C. Douglas, 3112, Machine Gun Section - 30 Cromwell Road, Luton.

PHILPOTT: Pte C. H, 4037, A Company - 21 Langley Place, Luton.

PINNEY: L-Cpl P. - 22 Essex Street, Luton.

PINNEY: Pte W. - 22 Essex Street, Luton.

PLUMMER: Pte Arthur., 5047 - 61 Collingdon Street, Luton.

PLUMMER: Pte Charles, 4402 - 13 Taylor Street, Luton.

PLUMMER. Pte C., 3116, Machine Gun Section - 61 Collingdon Street, Luton.

PLUMMER: Sgt J., 3717 - 61 Collingdon Street, Luton.

POLLARD: Pte Alfred - 44 Jubilee Street, Luton.

POWELL: Stretcher-bearer George, 3677, C Company - 4 Granville Road, Luton.

PUDDEPHATT: Pte Harold Fred, 3066 - 50 Butlin Road, Luton.

PYNE: Pte G., 4316, B Company - 39 Beech Road, Luton.

RAYNER: Sgt H., 4267, B Company - 66 Russell Street, Luton.

REYNOLDS: L-Cpl Percy W., 2843, B Company, Machine Gun Section - 68 Cobden Street, Luton.

RICHARDSON: Pte Ernest, 3807 - 12 Inkerman Street, Luton.

RICHARDSON: Pte William, 3843 - 12 Inkerman Street, Luton.

RIMMER: Pte Frank, 4085 - 153 Tennyson Road, Luton.

ROBERTS: Pte J., 3812 - 26 Boyle Street, Luton.

ROBINSON: Pte Hugh, 3169, Beds machine gun section - Flamstead.

ROBINSON: Pte S., 4432 - 9 New Town Street, Luton.

ROBINSON: Pte Sammy, 4057, A Company - 42 Midland Road, Luton.

ROGERS: Pte Harry, 4772, D Company - 32 Maple Road, Luton.

ROLT: Pte Frederick, 3610, B Company - 80 Windsor Street, Luton.

RUMBLES: Pte H., 4503 - 54 Boyle Street, Luton.

RUTTER: Pte L., 4273, A Company - 2 Front Street, Slip End.

RYAN: (S.B.) Pte W. C., 2673 - 14 Bailey Street, Luton.

SAUNDERS: Pte R. W., 4274 - 24 Church Street, Luton.

SCOTT: QM Sgt Edward - Grove Road, Luton.

SCOTT: Pte Harold, 3854 - 76 Leagrave Road, Luton.

SEABROOK: Pte N. W., 5076 - 35 Union Street, Luton.

SHANE: Pte Charles, 2714 - 7 Warwick Road, Luton.

SHAW: Pte Thomas - 1 Bolton Road, Luton.

SINCLAIR: Pte James - Wimbourne Road, Luton.

SKINNER: Pte Raymond, 4086, B Company - 12 Holly Walk, Luton.

SMITH: Pte Alfred, 4275 - 29 Park Road West, Luton.

SMITH: Pte Arthur - Stopsley Green, Luton.

SMITH: Pte Ernest, 4276 - 82 Warwick Road, Luton.

SMITH: Pte George, 4867 - 84 Hitchin Road, Luton.

SMITH: Pte Herbert, 3477 - 58 New Town Street, Luton.

SMITH: Pte Percy, 4066 - Stopsley Green.

SMITH: Pte Sidney, 4831, C Company - 79 Wenlock Street, Luton.

SNOXELL: Pte Cyril, 3099, C Company - 84 Grange Road, Luton.

SNOXELL: Pte Harry, 4376 - 31 Boyle Street, Luton.

SOPER: Pte C. W., 3554 - 81 Boyle Street, Luton.

SOPER: Pte W. 3555 - 81 Boyle Street, Luton.

SPACEY: Pte A. - 8 Alfred Street, Luton.

SPILLER: Pte G., 3637 - 30 Clifton Road, Luton.

STANFORD: Pte Percy - 29 Langley Road, Luton.

STENHOUSE: Pte John, 3553 - 36 Clifton Road, Luton.

STEVENS: Pte Bert, 4280, A Company - 16 Chequer Street, Luton.

STEWART: Pte P., 3071 - 98 Grange Road, Luton.

STIMPSON: Pte W. - 63 Windmill Street, Luton.

STOKES: Pte C. G., 2157, RAMC attd 1/5th Beds Regt - 53 Wellington Road, Walthamstow.

STOTT-EVERETT: L-Cpl A., 2426, A Company - 219 High Town Road, Luton.

TEBBEY: L-Cpl William George, 2973 - 8 Wenlock Street, Luton.

THOMAS: Pte J., 4411 - 70 Warwick Road, Luton.

THRUSSELL: Pte William, 4044 - 97 Church Street, Luton.

THURLOW: Pte Frederick, 2702 - 216 Wellington Street, Luton.

TITMUSS: Pte Albert - Slip End.

TITMUSS: Pte Alfred, 4338, C Company - 40 Milton Road, Luton.

TOMPKINS: Pte Walter E., 4378, D Company - 75 Ash Road, Luton.

TOYER: Pte Bert - 7 Burr Street, Luton.

TOYER: Pte Herbert Stanley - 22 Duke Street, Luton.

TOYER: Pte William, 4894 - Summer Street, Slip End.

TOYER: Pte W., 4290, B Company - Summer Street, Slip End.

TURNER: Pte Charles, 5049 - 27 Baker Street, Luton.

TURNER: Pte Sidney W., 3847, A Company - 8 Ash Road, Luton.

WALKER: Pte Arthur, 4578 - 400 Hitchin Road, Luton.

WARD: Pte James - Mill View Cottage, Letchworth Road, Limbury.

WARD: Pte John, 4380 - 3 East Avenue, Park Street, Luton.

WARREN: Pte B., 4381, D Company - Aley Green.

WATKINS: Pte George Albert, 2785 - Fulham (late Luton).

WATSON: Pte A. M. 2674, C Company - The Clarence, Luton.

WEBB: Pte Sidney Walter, 4295 - 1 Saunders Cottages, Lille

WEBDALE: Pte Percy, 3841 - 10 Stuart Street, Luton.

WESLEY: Pte Jesse, 4296 - 40 Windsor Street, Luton.

WHEELER: Sgt G., 3549 - 29 John Street, Luton.

WHITE: Pte Charles - 56 Frederic Street, Luton.

WHITE: Pte T. - 68 Buxton Road, Luton.

WHITEHEAD: L-Cpl Edward J, 3288 - 26 Napier Road, Luton.

WHITTEMORE: Pte E. A., 4764 - 42 King's Road, Luton.

WICKSON: Scout A. J., 3108 - 71 Dordans Road, Leagrave.

WILDMAN: Pte Ivan - 27 Ridgway Road, Luton.

WILKINSON: Pte H., 4300, A Coy - 29 Butlin Road, Luton.

WILLIS: Pte George Henry Brown - 16 St Ann's Road, Luton.

WITHERIDGE: Pte H. - Luton.

WOODLEY: Pte Stanley, 3387 - 35 Duke Street, Luton.

WRIGHT: Pte C., 4315 - 66 Frederic Street, Luton.

YOUNG: Sgt W., 2580 - 74 Church Street, Luton.

 

OTHER REGIMENTS

BAILEY: Able Seaman Herbert Arthur Bailey, Hawke Battalion, Royal Naval Division - 64 Grove Road, Luton.

BARTLETT: Petty Officer mechanic Claude Alwyn, RN - 17 Dunstable Road, Luton.

BETTS: Pte Joseph Edward, Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance - 57 Ashton Road, Luton.

BIGLEY: Sapper H., E.A.R.E. - 88 Warwick Road, Luton.

BODSWORTH: Sapper F. P., E.A.R.E. - 28 St Saviour's Crescent, Luton.

BRANSON: Sapper C. J., E.A.R.E. - 29 Grove Road, Luton.

BUSHWELL: Sapper W., E.A.R.E. - 93 Hitchin  Road, Luton.

CARRINGTON: Driver C., E.A.R.E. - Luton.

CHAMPKEN: Pte W. G. - 1/1st Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. - 184 Wellington Street, Luton.

CONOLLY: Gunner Daniel, North Midland Brigade - 7 Holly Walk, Luton.

COOK: Sapper Percy, E.A.R.E. - 65 Langley Street, Luton.

GATHARD: Sapper S., E.A.R.E. - 4 Lyndhurst Road, Luton.

GEORGE: Sapper Stanley W., E.A.R.E. - 58 Belmont Road, Luton.

GOODWIN: Driver Herbert, E.A.R.E. - 36 Richmond Hill, Luton.

GORE: Pte B., 1st Essex Regiment - 32 St Ann's Road, Luton.

GOURLEY: Sapper, E.A.R.E. - 8 Smart Street, Luton.

GRICE: Cpl E., Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C. - Station House, Midland Road, Luton.

HEALEY: Sapper A. (Gus), E.A.R.E. - 31 Court Road, Luton.

HOBBS: Driver H. E., 16th Australian Army Service Corps - Kentville, Conway Road, Luton.

INGRAM: Signaller Ben M., E.A.R.E. - 49 Ashburnham Road, Luton.

PORTER: Sapper J. T., E.A.R.E. - 18 Cobden Street, Luton.

PRICE: Pte Robert, E.A.R.E. - 2 Albion Road, Luton.

RALLEY: Sapper W., E.A.R.E. - 160 New Town Street, Luton.

RANCE: Driver P., E.A.R.E. - Luton.

ROE: Sapper Jack, E.A.R.E. - 27 Grove Road, Luton.

STEEDENS: Cpl Sidney, E.A.R.E. - 66 Park Road West, Luton.

WEBB: Cpl B. F., Royal Munster Fusiliers - 10 Westbourne Road, Luton.

WHITTEMORE: Sapper, E.A.R.E. - 5 East Avenue, Park Street, Luton.

WILSON: L-Cpl, E.A.R.E. - 14 Maple Road, Luton.

WING: Sapper George, E.A.R.E. - 35 Beech Road, Luton.

WRIGHT: Sapper R. F., E.A.R.E. - 127 Albert Road, Luton.

 

Images: 

1/5th Bedfords in Luton, June 1915

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Classifications: 

Mast-top view of the Dardanelles

 

Mr Winch, of 73 Althorp Road, Luton, has just received an interesting letter from the Dardanelles written by his brother Harry, who is in the Royal Marines Light Infantry and serving on board HMS Vengeance.

He writes: "We have plenty to do, but the weather being much finer makes things lots better. It is quite hot, and we have been allowed to bathe when it is convenient and safe.

"I can tell you that the Australian troops are just beginning to feel their feet ashore, and they are giving the Turks just a little of what they have got to come. I can hear rifle fire all day and night, and sometimes artillery duels. Of course, we assist greatly by dropping a few large shells on some strong position the Turks are holding, and we have heard that our fire has caused heavy casualties amongst them.

"Of course, the forts reply by firing at us, but luck seems to be part of this ship as our damage is simply insignificant and we have had no casualties. The first thing one shell struck on arrival was a bag of potatoes lying near the funnel.

"I can see everything there is to see going on because my station is at the top of the mast in a little house-like place called the control top, where the firing is directed and the fall of shells spotted. There are some Turkish guns on ----- which open fire at almost regular times, and our gunnery lieutenant will say, 'Watch Whistling Rufus and Aunt Sally now, men, as it is about their time'.

"You see they have disappearing guns which are difficult to hit, but they can be and are silenced. We have seen some big fires caused by our gun fire."

[The Luton News, July 8th, 1915]

 

Medicals under fire in Gallipoli

 

Mrs Bunnage, of 22 Henry Street, Luton, whose husband and two sons are with the colours, has just received from her son Victor a long descriptive account of the experiences of the 1/1st Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, R.A.M.C., whose headquarters are at Grove Road, Luton, from the time they left England until, with other units, they were withdrawn from Gallipoli.

After describing an exciting trip in the Mediterranean and a difficult landing, Pte Victor Bunnage says: "When we woke up next morning we could see what kind of country we had to make our homes in what was then an unknown period. The country was all hills and beach...and the enemy trenches were on top of the hills within sight.

"They could have blown us to kingdom come as easily as could be but I, with all others, will say that the Turks were fair and kept their shells away from our Red Cross as much as they possibly could. The tree were like dwarf holly bushes, with an acorn kind of fruit drawing on them."

Of a certain gully he says: "This was a very hot place, and I daresay you have read in the local paper some of our experiences in that gully. In fact, all our chaps who were fortunate enough to 'get one' got it there.

"I was going towards headquarters when a shell hit the top of the bank, burying me in the dirt. My pal on the other side had a very narrow escape, a bit of rock missing him by a few inches.

"We had three different camps - the last only about 600 yards from the trenches, and in the daytime we were busy dodging shells, and at night-time stray bullets. While at this camp the whole corps had a narrow escape. We were in the midst of a church parade when a shrapnel shell burst in a barn affair used as an advanced dressing station only a few yards from the whole crowd. Nobody was hurt.

"There was another Field Ambulance with us at the time, and the amusing part was that we were singing 'Art Thou Weary, Art Thou Languid' and we showed that we could be very quick in getting to a safer place."

Pte Bunnage mentions some other thrilling experiences which he says will give him something to talk about when he gets home. Of the work which had to be done, he mentions times when there were only two men to a stretcher, with a patient to be carried about four miles.

What made conditions worse was that water was so scarce - a pint a day per man for drinking, washing, shaving, cooking etc - and sickness took so many men off the strength.

"The thing that we were hit up by most was going without bread. Sometimes we were a fortnight without any, and when we did get some it was only a slice or two. So we had to live on the soldiers' favourite (!) dish - bully beef and biscuits. And just as ovens were being put up and we were getting tinned things, we had to come away."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: February 28th, 1916]

 

Mixed first impressions of Gallipoli

 

Even before the 5th Bedfords landed at Gallipoli, Luton was represented there by men of the East Anglian Royal Engineers, some attached to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

From one of them, Sapper F. C. Croft, the Luton News received a rather upbeat letter supported by six comrades. But from wounded Pte T. Deller, 3534, 1st Battalion Essex Regiment, in an Egyptian hospital came a letter giving a very different picture and revealing some of the horrors that were to come in Gallipoli.

Sapper Croft wrote: "The undersigned are attached to the R.E. Signal Service platoon, and the majority of our Company are Liverpool fellows. However, during November last the East Anglian Engineers' headquarters at Luton were recruiting in order raise the Western Army to its full strength.

About 50 Lutonians joined originally, but during our training we were split up, and when the Corps headquarters, composed of about 70 NCOs and men, left for Egypt during March there were only about half a dozen Luton fellows among us. Whilst in Egypt we were attached to the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, so our Company now comprises the Signal Office staff for the above Corps.

"We were landed at the commencement of hostilities on the Peninsular, and, needless to say, have had some exciting times. One of us, a Dunstable lad, has been wounded by shrapnel and, I understand, been invalided home.

"We are having a good time here and, were it not for the risk and danger, we could almost imagine we were on holiday. The scenery is splendid and, being stationed on the seashore under a warm sun, we cannot complain about much. There are splendid facilities for bathing here and almost everyone takes advantage of it, during which time the beach almost resembles a seaside resort in August, until the enemy begins shelling, when everyone vanishes.

"As far as we know everything seems to be progressing favourably here. As you know, we are not allowed to say too much, but we are hoping and expecting that we shall be back in England before long."

The letter was also signed by Sapper J. Hyde, Sapper A. Warner, Sapper C. Sivil, Sapper A. Bird, Sapper F. Clarke and Driver P. Hawkins.

Pte Deller wrote his letter from No 2 Australian Hospital in Cairo, where he was lying wounded. He wrote: "I should like the Luton boys to know how it is up the Gallipoli Peninsular.

"We started from the base for the Dardanelles on April 24th, and before daybreak on the 25th we stood and watched the bombardment which lasted till about 1 pm. It was a splendid sight and when the "Lizzie" (HMS Queen Elizabeth) started, she made things hum a bit. Fort after fort went down till we arrived at the landing places. It was supposed to be impossible to land troops there, but we had to do it.

"The L.F. were first to land, followed by the Essex. They started us off in small boats and we were nearly all hit before we could get out of the boats. The barbed wire entanglements up the cliff were wicked, and how anyone got up alive was a miracle. They must have had 50 machine guns turned on us and the poor fellows went down like flies, but we hung on like grim death, and we had to shift them with the bayonet.

"We gained about a mile in the first fight and every inch was well fought, for we were in the trenches 18 days without a relief and we dare not think of sleep. I don't believe one man had eight hours sleep in those 18 days, unless we stood up and had it.

"There are not many of us left now from among those who first landed, but they have all 'done their bit'. One fellow was digging his mate's grave the other day, and he was shot dead himself, and he therefore had dug his own grave.

"We cannot do a bayonet charge without being met by a shower of hand grenades, and if one hits you, well you are not worth sweeping up. But we have got them on the run now.

"Last Sunday was a terrible slaughter. The Turks went down in hundreds. It started about 2 am and lasted all day. I quite enjoyed the sport till I got hit.

"The bullet went in just below my ear, went round my skull and out at the back of my neck, so I expect to be in hospital for a week or two. But I am satisfied to get away with my life as things were that day."

A separate story said the first mention of the Bedfords in the Dardanelles was made in the casualty lists on Tuesday, June 28th, when it was reported that Lieut W. A. Leland, 10th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment, had been killed while serving in the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

[The Luton News, July 1st, 1915]

 

Newspaper men's experiences of Gallipoli

 

Two former members of the staff of the Luton News/Saturday Telegraph gave accounts of their experiences of Gallipoli. Pte Claud Gilder, 4049, of 35 Moor Street, Luton, was so far unscathed bar a scratch, while Pte H. Adams was wounded in the leg and in hospital in Malta.

Pte Gilder wrote: "We embarked upon the Union Castle line Braemar Castle and had an uneventful voyage to the Dardanelles, stopping at Malta and Alexandria. We were allowed to go ashore at the latter place, and I took advantage of this and had a jolly good dinner whilst I could, for it was the best dinner I shall have for several months ahead.

Gallipoli scenery"All surplus kit and kit bags were dropped here, and 172 men and three officers were left to act as first line reinforcements. By the way the Battalion went for a route march around the town in the morning, and had quite a most enthusiastic reception when it got into the French quarters.

"After calling at ----- to receive orders, we were taken ashore at our landing place by lighters, and completed our voyage at 12 noon on Wednesday, August 11th.

"Up to Saturday night we bivouacked on the coast, and as we were close to the sea we took advantage of this and went bathing two or three times a day. We were subjected to shell fire one or two days, and it was rare sport ducking your heads and getting into the trenches which we had hastily dug. There were no casualties caused by this shelling, and everybody took it very lightly.

"On Sunday, August 15th, we were ordered to support certain divisions already in the firing line. We had not proceeded more than a mile from camp when we came under heavy rifle fire from the enemy, and from that time onwards it has been a veritable hell. There was a grand bayonet charge by our battalion, and we took Hill ----, but at terrible cost.

"That Sunday afternoon was an afternoon of horrors, for the enemy's artillery had our range to a nicety, and shell after shell burst with terrible effect among the troops. One of my very narrow escapes - an I've had several, I assure you - was when a shell burst above our heads and knocked out the men on either side of me, one, an officer (Lieut F. W. Ballance) being wounded in the leg, and the other, Signaller F. E. Smith, being killed. The bullet went clean through his body. The shrapnel just grazed my arm.

"The officers, NCOs and men have and are maintaining a splendid spirit throughout the whole operations...I cannot give you an accurate list of casualties."

After mentioning many officers who were killed or wounded, Pte Gilder says: "We started burying bodies on Tuesday, in the early hours of the morning, and I helped in the burial of Capt Cumberland, and as his body was being lowered into the crude grave I thought of his people at home. I had to turn my head to hide the tears in my eyes. What an insignificant grave for such a splendid officer! A bit of a stone as a memorial, and a lid of a box with the simple words, 'Capt B. C. Cumberland, 1/5th Bedford Regt,' and yet how magnificent!"

Pte Adams wrote: "I am still in the land of the living, but have got a wing up. I soon caught it... We managed to land all right. The ground here is very rough. It is like a big heath, only it is covered with big rocks and hills (picture).

"There is a big hill about seven miles in where all the fighting is going on. Of course, the Turks are all hidden behind the rocks on the top. Our worst enemies are the snipers. They are scattered all over the place. They paint themselves green and you can never see them.

"We first went into the trenches on Saturday, August 13th - the reserve trenches, of course, but they are worse than the firing line trenches. At night we had a job taking sandbags up to the trenches, a very risky job with so many snipers about, but we managed to come through all right, although we had a lot of 'near ones'.

"We came out about seven o'clock next morning and got shelled going back. We had been back about half an hour when we had the order to get ready for an attack on the big hill. We only had just time to get a cup of tea and have one or two biscuits, and then we went off.

"We only went about a mile before we were under rifle fire. Talk about an attack! I didn't imagine it was as bad as that. I carried a machine gun weighing about 70 lbs for about seven miled up hill, under fire all the time, and the sun was awful.

"We managed to get in a good position, and we let them have it. I was absolutely done up, though, and so the rest of our team. The officer was working the gun when I came away, but I don't think he would be there long, as they had got us set... I was sent to take a message to the CO, and I got shot through the left leg. The bullet went right through. I walked to the R.A.M.C., and was sent straight to a Red Cross ship and brought to Malta.

"Our battalion was cut up a good bit, but they made a good name for themselves... Capt Cumberland was killed, besides two more senior captains."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: September 4th, 1915.]

 

Pension plea of discharged young soldier

 

An early example of hardships that could await many men who returned wounded from the Front was contained in a letter in The Luton News (August 3rd, 1916) signed "F. J. W. L. (Late Bedfordshire Regiment)". He wrote:

I wish to draw your attention as to how I have been treated since being discharged from the Army. I was wounded at Gallipoli, and have been discharged six months.

I have received a pension for two months, and one of the two months I was in hospital. Now I receive no pension because of a medical board having marked my paper 'Fit'. I supposed they think I am able to earn my own living, and I have tried, but my health had failed me, and I am still under doctor's treatment and practically ruined for life.

A sympathetic response came in the following week's edition from Mr E. J. Mayles, of 49 Warwick Road, Luton. He wrote:

In the case of your correspondent "F. J. W. L." I happen to know him personally, and I think when our brave lads, such as the one mentioned, have given up all to fight for King and Country, have had the misfortune to get wounded and practically ruined for life, and have been discharged as unfit for active service, something should be done for them in the way of recompense to keep them from depending on their friends for a living.

I know this case very well. He has been discharged four months. Out of this he has received two months pension and now he receives nothing at all. I ask is it fair for the Medical Board to pass a person like this fit for work, and thus thrust him upon the mercy of the country and his own personal friends?

I say he is not in a position to work, unless the occupation is very light, having lost the use of one arm practically. He is still under doctor's treatment, and who is to pay the expenses? His parents?

I think something might be done for such cases by our War officials to make such needed cases as light as possible.

Footnote: "F.J.W.L." was almost certainly Frederick John William Lemmon (pictured above), then still aged only 17, of 34 Spencer Road, Luton. He had been discharged from the Army following a bullet wound in the neck and it had been discovered he had lied about his age and was only 16 while fighting at Gallipoli. He died in Luton in September 1986 at the age of 87.

 

Piecing together the Gallipoli story

 

As Secretary of the South Beds Recruiting Committee Harry Inwards had built up many contacts within the 5th Bedfordshires who collectively helped him build up a picture of events in Gallipoli from the battlefield. He later compiled his own letter to the Press (below), bringing together details he had received of "that portion of the battle which took place on the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th August, in which the gallant lads of the 1/5th Bedfordshire Battalion bore so arduous and so glorious a part".

The Battalion, after leaving Alexandria - which was only touched for the purpose of landing reserves of about 170 men - sailed across the Mediterranean, and were landed "somewhere" on the Gallipoli Peninsular.

In the words of one of my informants, "they fell right into it straight away" for, in fact, the Bedford lads found there was not much in distance between them and the enemy. On the shores while landing, and on the beach when camped, they had to reckon with the fact that the Turks had found the artillery distance and dropped shells into the men struggling with their impediments during various times of the day. Although the shell fire was accurately distanced and timed, the damage done was extraordinarily small, and I may say this has continued to be - at all events up to the middle of September - the experience of our Regiment.

As soon as the stores were landed, all hands were set on to dig themselves in in trenches, and during this necessary operation the enemy opened a long range musketry fire, accompanied at intervals with shrapnel. This "baptism of fire" to lads who had never been under fire before - all of them only a few months before sitting calmly in offices, working at the bench or steadily engaged on some agricultural work - must have been a distinct nerve-shaker, and yet an eyewitness assures me "it was perfectly wonderful to see the men going on coolly with their digging, just as if they had been at home".

It was during these first few days that the Regiment experienced its first casualties. Among them was Lieut Chaundler, of Biggleswade, but so steady was the discipline that, although wounded, he just sat down and went on directing his platoon until it was insisted upon that he should retire to the rear.

As an example, however, of the enemy's shell firing it may here be mentioned that while Lieut-Col Brighten was supervising and assisting the men during these entrenching operations no fewer than three shells burst within a few feet of him, but beyond being covered by a shower of dust, no harm was done. The 1/5th Bedfords, both officers and men, began to think that the Turkish ammunition was poor stuff, and nothing whatever to make any bother about.

On Sunday, the 15th, the Battalion was ordered into action. The general position of the Brigade cannot, of course, be given here for obvious reasons, but the 1/5th had to act as a flank guard to a division which was making a push to straighten out the line. The Regiment was given the post of honour in the van of the Brigade.

'B' Company, under the command of Capt Baker, son of the Rector of Dunstable, was put on the right flank of the regiment to keep in touch with the other troops. 'A' Company, under the command of Capt Brian Cumberland, son of Mr Hugh Cumberland of Luton, was echeloned back a little on

the dangerous flank that had to be most carefully watched, and the Machine Gun Section, under Lieut Shoosmith, was detailed to support 'A' Company.

The Regiment at the time of the attack was short of, besides those left at Alexandria, one platoon of men and one Machine Gun Section, both of which had to be left to garrison the trenches the Regiment had been digging. Lieut Woodhouse was in charge of that party.

The Regimental Headquarters Section followed the two leading Companies, and the reserves Companies, 'C' and 'D' under Captains Meakin and Forrest respectively, were close behind. The following diagram will give some idea of the disposition of the Battalion.

Very soon an urgent message was delivered saying that the hill in front was very strongly held, and then the Battalion "went for it!" 'C' Company was thrown forward, and with 'A' and 'B' Companies were at once very hotly engaged in the attempt to clear the hill, and it was not long before 'D' Company had to be thrust onwards to support the charge. This weight of brave, intrepid, well-disciplined men soon took the first hill, but the next proved a much more difficult proposition.

The nature of the country in Gallipoli is such that an exact account of what subsequently happened is impossible. The small, precipitous hills, the immense boulders of rock and the her and there tangled thickets of scrub - the two latter features naturally taken all possible advantage of for cover - make an observer's chances very small, and it is only from piecing together various accounts from all quarters that any cohesive idea can be formed as to the "carry on" of the movement.

These obstacles, in themselves formidable enough against observation, were aided by the fact that at the assault on the second hill the tide of battle seemed to run off very much from the region of the Bedfords' Headquarters, and it became very difficult to keep in touch with the various units. The Adjutants, Capt Younghusband and Major Hill, were here of the greatest assistance to Lieut-Col Brighten, and hurried from place to place under fire to get the direction of attack changed, and to keep the four companies in touch with each other. They must have borne charmed lives. How they got through with a scratch is impossible to explain, unless it be on the ground that their extremely rapid movements were a protection.

When once more the Battalion were in touch and moved onward it came suddenly into a zone swept by an enfilade of shrapnel fire, and this was found to be of first-class order - nothing similar to the miserable stuff that had been expended during the landing and entrenching. This enfilade had evidently been carefully prepared, as the enemy's infantry immediately cleared off the slopes of the hill, leaving the operations to the artillery.

Shell after shell fell into the devoted Bedfords. Some dropped on top of the Headquarters Section, and the place became a shambles. Lieut Ballance, of Dunstable - Lieut-Col Brighten's signal officer - was wounded at this period, and Lieut Hunter passed by the section, being taken to the rear with a shrapnel foot. All the wounded men seemed to crawl to headquarters, and for some time came so thickly one could hardly move.

This was a time to rack the nerves of any officer. Men who had passed through previous campaigns, with nerves of steel, might view such a sight with calmness, but our boys, at this first sight of the effects of modern warfare, might have been excused had their steadiness deserted them.

But what really happened? Instead of their shrinking, the sight braced up their strength. With loving regard for the wounded they knew that the best way to protect them was to keep the line whole and preserve the ground which they had taken. Once more the units of the Battalion were brought into touch, casualties were sorted out, and the attack was continued.

About this time news came to the Headquarters Section that the Brigadier-General, General C. de Winton, had been wounded. This very gallant and Christian gentleman had endeared himself to every officer and man in the Brigade, and although he and some of his staff officers were wounded, he, remembering the straits of the 1/5th Bedfords, ordered up two battalions to help them.

The day was now waning, and the work was not done, but the attack carried the Bedfords to the crest of the second hill, where both musketry and machine gun firing was terrific.

Capt Baker, although suffering from a shattered arm, went on at the head of his Company until he fell, shot again. Capt Gerald Lydekker, of Harpenden, was also killed in this assault, and - here I will quote one of my informants - "Cumberland called on his Company for the last charge up the crest, and in the act of waving them on was shot through the head. Lieut Ralph Brighten (the brother of Col Brighten), who led No 1 Platoon of 'A' Company, which was poor Cumberland's show platoon, being close to him, was shot almost at the same time. Lieut Rising (who has since been reported 'wounded and missing') was not noticed after this charge, and he has never been found, and it is believed, too, that he is killed".

What a glorious charge! But what a price to pay, for this list of officers did not exhaust the casualties. Lieut James (Mrs Brighten's brother) was wounded very early in the action, being shot in the calf of the leg, but was able to hobble back by himself during the night which followed. The leader of 'C' Company, which had supported 'B' Company in the attack, Capt Meakin was, it is believed, killed at this time. To quote the words of a comrade: "I am told he was hit, but the man who saw it was hit himself later on. We never found him either, although I personally spent nights of searching."

Lieut Day was also wounded badly in the head, but, like the rest of the cheerful Bedfords, made very light of it. Lieuts Chirnside and Yarde were hit about this time too, but went on, not only during the remainder of the attack, but also through the night and te next day and night, until relieved.

Although one records these facts with sorrow, yet one is bound to feel pride in conduct like this. These two young officers, when night fell, found that "their Company was in for another twenty-four hours shift, and they insisted on stopping - brave lads both of them" - this sentence is also a quotation - and it was not until Tuesday night, when they were seen by the doctor, that they could be induced to leave, to be packed off to hospital.

'D' Company had, during the attack, supported 'A' Company and, being the last reserve until to be brought up, had fared a little better, although they had been badly marked. Capt Forrest opened an old wound early in the day, and his junior, Capt Andreini, well know to all Luton straw traders, got a touch of sunstroke. Apart from these, the casualties were all in the rank and file.

I must here quote another communication that is also relative to the fight of the 15th - "Shoosmith bore a charmed life that day. Practically all his NCOs and men were knocked out, and he was left with only one man to fight his gun, which he did with the utmost gallantry, and he simply swept the ground in front of out advance and cleared the way for them".

During the above-mentioned single handling of the gun, Major Hill, seeing it was a very pressing moment and fearing the worst, went up to Lieut Shoosmith, the son of Mr Frank Shoosmith, of Luton, and asked him who was fighting the gun if he got knocked out.

"No one else knows enough about it up here, your section is gone, you had better show me how to do it," suggested Major Hill.

The answer was: "Oh, you just pull this and press that - it's quite simple!" And all the time this was going on Lieut Shoosmith was letting the gun "rip" into the Turks for all he was worth.

Night fell just as the summit was won, and found the remnants of three battalkions in a very mixed up condition around the top of the hill. Although desperately weary, the men had to set to to entrench themselves and hold the line in a fairly straightened manner.

Adjt and Capt Younghusband ran around and collected all the "bits" of platoons left, and made some sort of a line, and Major Hill took charge of the advanced units. The headquarters were established in a small way in a fold of the ground about 50 yards behind the line, and there men were collected and organised for fatigue parties which went back and brought up, first of all, tools and sandbags and barbed wire, then food and water. Owing the circumstances there was that night none too much of either of the latter articles of convoy.

While this was being done by some sections, others were collecting the wounded and taking them to the Headquarters Section, where they awaited the Field Ambulance which, during the night, managed to get them all away.

At dawn on Monday, August 16th, more entrenchments had to be made, and the headquarters were then fixed up in a sort of natural ditch or gully that the Colonel had said he "had had his eye on," and then the Section set out to work to dig and fortify it partly as headquarters and partly as a support trench. A telephone wire was also run out and Brigade headquarters brought into touch.

These operations were conducted with the utmost rapidity, for one knew that at the first possible power of light the enemy would start shelling the position. The forecast was correct, and soon shrapnel shells were bursting all around.

This fire went on all day in the endeavour of the Turks to get the Bedfords out, but they were far too snugly esconced and far too wary and brave to lose what they had gained at such a cost.

During the day Lieut Rawlins, seeing a wounded Bedford man lying in front, left the trenches to bring him in. While engaged in this merciful errand he himself was wounded, and had to be brought in after a time by another brave man - Pte Bell, who had since been promoted to Coy-Quartermaster-Sgt. Again during this day Lieut Shoosmith held things together with his gun, and any movement of the Turks towards the Bedford lines was met by him at once.

The night of the Monday was comparatively peaceful, and men of the Battalion have told me how thankful they were for the nights of calm. "The days were too long and the nights all too short," writes one wearied officer.

But even the nights were not all rest. They were taken up with digging and reorganisation, and on Monday night the first proper reorganisation of the Battalion took place. The Companies were arranged into a Battalion frontage, and 'A' and 'B' Companies were withdrawn from the first line and set to work to make some reserve trenches a little behind the headquarters. During the night, too, all the gallant dead were reverently collected, and their living comrades in arms lovingly laid them to rest.

On Tuesday night 'A' and 'B' Companies were put back in the trenches, and 'C' and 'D' Companies were taken out for 24 hours. This operation was repeated as each day went on, and gradually the Battalion got more comfortable. More troops also were sent up to the front, and this went on until Friday, the 20th, when another forward movement was undertaken in another part of the line, but which, of course, had to be supported with fire from the 1/5th Bedfords.

Naturally this drew fire in return, and it was during such a comparative calm that Lieut Shootsmith got hit and was killed. It is said that he was walking from one part of the trench to another when, by his height, his head was exposed, and a bullet struck him. I have it on the best of evidence that on learning of his death Col Brighten exclaimed that he had "lost a tower of strength".

On the Sunday following more fresh troops came up during the night, and the Bedfords were relieved and sent down to their old camp where, in the pure luxury of relief, they could bathe in the sea and bask in the sun to their hearts' content. They loved the bathing, but they were quite prepared to do with a little less sun, and the beach presented a most eccentric appearance, for wherever they could be installed, blankets were stretched to make some kind of sunshade.

About this time Capt Maier, of Luton, had been feeling seedy with dysentery and had to go to the hospital, and on the Sunday the reserve left at Alexandria, under Capt Smythe and Lieut Hobbs, was landed as reinforcements.

May I here again quote from another letter I have received: " After that we had a day or two's rest, or, at least, what is called a rest out here - there's always a number of fatigues to be done, and always shell fire to dodge. We were then sent into another part of the line, where we are now and where we spend six days in the trenches and six out. When we are out we get back a little behind the line, still under rifle fire, and we then find digging parties - every man doing six hours a day in addition to his ordinary battalion routine - to work up in the trenches and on the communications behind."

Adjt Younghusband was next day seriously wounded in the knee, but fortunately not very seriously, Lieut Woodhouse was slightly wounded in the arm, and Capt Smythe was shot in the head and never recovered consciousness, but died next morning.

And so the toll of the Empire goes on, not a man of them that was not willing to lay down his life for his country and King, every lad dying or living a gallant hero. Among such a number of brave men it is almost invidious to mention special ones, but as a true chronicler of these heroic days it is only right that the rank and file who distinguished themselves should be known, although it must at once be said that in a Battalion where all fought like heroes the following are only quoted as entirely typical of all.

Privates C. Plummer and J. Bonner, both of the Machine Gun Section, moved fearlessly under heavy rifle fire and shrapnel fire, bringing up ammunition and carrying the gun from position to position.

Private F. King, under heavy fire. after all officers and NCOs in his neighbourhood were hit, organised and led party of about 20 men.

L-Sgt A. Payne, after his officers and senior NCOs had been wounded, aassumed command of two Platoons and led them with great gallantry. In this he was backed and materially assisted by his brother, Cpl N. Payne.

Pte R. Bell (since promoted, as mentioned earlier) showed great determination during the attack on the 15th August, and on the next day went about 200 yards in front of the trenches and dressed the wounds of Lieut Rawlins, and brought him in. On the next day he went out and made a reconnaissance of the Turkish trenches.

Pte H. Bryant organised and led a party of about 30 men up the hill, although himself wounded in the knee, and went on until he was again hit, and had to stop.

L-Cpl S. Redman showed great pluck and coolness. He was given a message by the Brigadier which he carried to Col Brighten under fire. His eyesight was affected by the bursting of a shrapnel shell, but he continued in the fighting line for six days more.

I could quote dozens, aye hundreds, of such reports, but the few examples given, I am sure, will suffice. The relatives and friends of many I have not mentioned must not think their hero is unknown. It is only time and space that forbid.

I have said little about the actual doings of Lieut-Col Brighten. As a personal friend, I shrink from saying much - he knows my opinions of him - but I cannot close this letter without asking if there is anyone in Bedfordshire who does not feel his blood course more rapidly through his body when he thinks of what Col Brighten has gone through, the handling of his gallant Battalion, the successful attack and, last but least, his calm fortitude when around him his brother, his brother-in-law and the sons of some of his dearest friends were falling.

As his friend and one who, as Secretary to the Recruiting Committee, has tried to "do his bit" I am convinced that the best way to show the county's appreciation of her brave sons is to send such a supply of officers and men as shall enable the 1/5th Bedfordshire Battalion to maintain the reputation it has achieved.

I will finish by quoting part of a letter sent to me by Col Brighten: "We never forget that we belong to the Bedfordshire Regiment, and that has carried us through everything so far. But let it not be forgotten that the best you can give us is officers and men, and your best is only due to those who have fallen, to those who are in pain or wounded, and to those of us who are left carrying on."

Is it possible that this voice from the field of battle can be heard unheeded by any Bedfordshire lad? Is it possible that there are any men who fight shy of the hardships and possible wounds and death?

Unfortunately there are, and they are known. I would sadly say to them - can you bear to think of other men fighting for you, and you stay at home at ease? I would remind them that there are worse pains to bear than hardships, and they are the everlasting regret and remorse that they betrayed their country in their country's need.

HARRY INWARDS,

Sunnyside,

Hart Hill, Luton.

[The Luton Reporter: Monday, October 11th, 1915]

 

Private Joseph Edward Betts

Title (Mr/ Mrs/ Capt/ Rev etc): 

First name(s): 

Joseph Edward

Surname only: 

Betts

 

Pte Joseph Edward Betts, 1784, Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps, was killed by a bullet as he was about to board a lighter to take him to the Gallipoli beaches on October 8th*, 1915.

He was still on board the ship on which he he had set sail from England for the Dardanelles when he was killed. Commanding Officer Major William Archibald, who had been Luton's Medical Officer of Health, wrote to parents Joseph and Mary Jane Betts at 57 Ashton Road, Luton, with the news.

Writing from Imbros on October 9th, he said: "He was killed by a bullet in the head. It hit him as he was getting on the deck of the ship waiting to get on to the landing lighters. His comrades did not hear him make a sound, and did not know he had been hit until they were ordered to fall in, when they found they could not rouse him.

"We brought his body to this place today, and a chaplain has just taken it ashore for burial. We should all have wished to have gone on shore to pay out last respects to him, but were not allowed. However, I can assure you he received every attention.

"I cannot say how grieves I feel at the loss of such a promising young life. He was greatly beloved by all of us, and we all mourn the loss of of a faithful and trustworthy comrade."

Pte Betts was only 20 years of age, and prior to the outbreak of war was in the employ of Mr F. C. Lane, blockmaker, of Pike's Close, Luton. He had been in the Eastern Mounted Brigade Field Ambulance for about two years before they were mobilised and trained with them at the Grove Road, Luton, depot. He was a member of Bailey Hill Pleasant Sunday Afternoon Society, and sailed with his Brigade on August 8th. He had a younger brother, Claude, in the 2/5th Bedfords at Newmarket.

*Pte Betts' death is recorded as October 10th, 1915, but Major Archibald's letter about his death is dated October 9th. A year later his comrades, then based at Halton Camp East, placed a Roll of Honour notice in The Luton News which said Joseph, known to them as Edward, was killed on board HMT Abbasiah, off the Gallipoli (Anzac) Coast on October 8th, 1915.

 

Service or Civilian?: 

Service Number: 

1784

Regiment: 

Medals Awarded: 

Employer: 

F.C. Lane, Pike's Close, Luton

War time / or Pre War occupation: 

straw hat blockmaker apprentice

Place of Birth: 

Luton
United Kingdom

Place of Death: 

Suvla Bay
Turkey

War Memorial Location: 

Grave Location: 

Suvla Bay
Turkey

World War I Address: 

57 Ashton Road
Luton
United Kingdom

Individual Location: 

Classifications: 

Images: 

Pte Joseph Edward Betts

Connects to: 

Year of Birth: 

1 895

Year of Death: 

1 915

Month of Death: 

Oct

Day of Death: 

8

Keywords: 

Most Relevant Date: 

Wednesday, September 8, 1915

Royal Engineers at Gallipoli

 

The members of the East Anglian Royal Engineers, who sailed for the Dardanelles with the Division to which the 1/5th Bedfordshires are also attached, were not engaged in the severe fighting which fell to the lot of the infantry after landing, but since they landed on the Peninsular they have repeatedly been under shell fire, and one Lutonian has already been killed.

On Wednesday Mr A. Bunker, harness maker of 4 Bridge Street, received a letter from the Officer Commanding the 2/1st East Anglian Field Coy, announcing that his son, Saddler Albert Walter Bunker, 1779, was struck in the head with a fragment of shell while the camp was being shelled on August 21st, and died within an hour without regaining consciousness. He was buried early the following morning close to the camp on the upper part of a ridge overlooking the sea, his comrades being present at the short service held.

Sapper Jack Roe, of the 1/2nd Field Coy, EARE, in a letter written on August 19th to his mother at 27 Grove Road, Luton, wrote: "We landed on Monday [August 16th] after a rotten time aboard. I think we are somewhere in Gallipoli, although we have not yet had any scrapping. A shell comes where we are every now and then, and kills a mule or two or a couple of men.

"There are Gurkhas and Australians here as well as English and Welsh. Water is very scarce. Tobacco is issued out to us. Haven't seen bread for four days - we have all biscuits to eat instead."

Sapper Percy Cook, 1715, 1/2nd Field Coy, EARE, has also written to his parents, Mr and Mrs Alfred Cook, 65 Langley Street, saying how thankful he thinks everybody was to find the journey was over. We were taken from the troopship in open boats, he says, and camped out on a side of a hill.

"After we had landed about half an hour we were surprised by a few shells bursting a little distance away, and they did not half startle us for the minute, as we had been watching the shelling and we thought they were a mile or so away. There is a continual bombardment going on all the time between some of our warships and the enemy. It is all hills and rocks about here, and it affords splendid covering.

"I hear the Bedfords are in the firing line, which I am told is about four miles from here, and I should think it is about right by watching the shells from the guns. It is very warm here in the daytime, but seems to be a bit chilly at night."

In an earlier letter that was posted at Alexandria, Sapper Cook says they arrived in that city on the 9th, and speaking of a visit to the native quarter, he says: "A funny place it is too, what with its peculiar houses, palm trees, and asses roaming about the streets. It was quite dark when we started back, but the streets were lighted a lot better than Luton streets are."

Another Sapper of the EARE has also sent home an account of his experience after landing. All the morning, he says, we have been watching the shells bursting on the beach and the hills all round.

"We thought that the place was practically deserted and we couldn't understand why they were shelling it, but as we got nearer the shore we saw that there were thousands of troops near the beach, although from a mile or two away they are practically invisible.

"The troops keep rolling in every minute, and the camp reaches as far as we can see. About ten minutes after we landed a shell came screaming over our heads. I fell down flat at once, but it went hundreds of yards away. From that time to this the shells have been coming every three or four minutes. Some are near and some a long way from us. We can determine from the whistle of the shell whether it is going to drop anywhere near us or not, and if we think it is, down we drop instantly. Our fellows are expert judges now.

"We are some miles from the trenches, but all out batteries are just near us so, of course, we come in for more shells than the fellows in the actual trenches. While I was bathing this morning a shell exploded some hundred yards away from where I was. and bits of it dropped about 10 yards away from me.

"A Taube aeroplane came over yesterday evening. Our warships in the harbour, and our batteries on land, made a great fuss over it. Shots were exploding just behind the tail of it, and it was simply a miracle that it got away without being hit. A lot of bombs were dropped from the Taube, but didn't do much damage.

"About six of our chaps have already gone up to the trenches, and I don't think the Company will be long before it goes. From other chaps it appears that the worst danger is going to the trenches and coming back. The road is lines all the way with snipers. There are a few Turkish prisoners here, and they seem a pretty decent lot."

[Luton Reporter: Monday, September 6th, 1915]

 

Royal Engineers en route to Gallipoli

 

Letters have now commenced to arrive from members of the three companies of the East Anglian Royal Engineers who set sail three days after the 1/5th Bedfordshires embarked. The E.A.R.E.s left the docks on the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday [August 2nd, 1915], and with the 1/2nd and 2/1st Field Companies, there were also on board the Signal Company and the North Irish Horse.

One member of the 2/1st Field Company, writing from "somewhere at sea," says: "When we entered the ------ the weather and sea were lovely, but now it is just the opposite. We do not know where we are landing yet.

"It is about the roughest living I have encountered so far. One has to be very careful in getting into one's hammock or it's a case of getting a nasty bump. Today high seas are running and it is pouring with rain. We are getting nearer land as the birds have started to follow us."

Later on he says: "We passed ----- during Monday, and only saw the lights. We have had grand weather up to now, and the sailors say we have been very lucky in that line."

At the end of the letter is recorded the fact that the boat was then in harbour for about 24 hours and was then leaving for another four or five days voyage.

Watching for submarines is one of the duties that has fallen to the lot of Sapper A. P. Brown, 1393, No. 3 Section, 1/2nd Field Coy, E.A.R.E., while on board ship. He is the son of Mr and Mrs A. Brown, of 43 Park Street West, Luton, and two letters, both severely blue pencilled, were received from him last week.

In the first, written on July 31st, he says: "We have had a decent trip so far. The bay was quite smooth for a wonder and I wasn't sick, for which I am duly grateful. I am one of a party detailed to watch for submarines - a nice job isn't it? I expect we shall be in GIB ON Sunday night or thereabouts."

Writing again three days later, he says: "We are well in the Mediterranean now, having passed Gibraltar in the night. We did not go straight in, but hung about till dark. It was a lovely sunset with the dark hills of Spain on one side and the mountainous coast of ------- on the other and the blue water and blue sky, with streaks of red across the lower part, which was a pale lemon colour.

"When we got in the Straits at dark a torpedo boat dashed up with her searchlights on us, and after signalling for some time she wished us goodnight and went off. I never saw a boat move so quickly before.

"We passed ------- in the night and also -------, which must be a big place by the lights, Just before we got by the straits I looked through a fellow's glasses and saw a beautiful white castle, and a village further on. Afterwards we passed where Nelson fought."

In a further letter on the 8th, Sapper Brown says: "We arrived in port on Sunday morning. It was a lovely sight - all stone buildings of red, white, pink, green etc, all along the front. When we got in out 'barge' was surrounded by boats of natives, selling different stuff - cigarettes, fruit, silk etc. It is a big place.

"We sailed along the coast for some hours before we got the harbour. We left in the evening for a three days run. I don't know what port we go to, but we shall probably be off the boat tomorrow."

[Luton Reporter: Monday, August 23rd, 1915]

 

Sailing into action at Gallipoli

 

Cpl W. H. Matthews, who went out with the 1/5th Bedfords and took part in the fighting in Gallipoli, had been invalided home in September 1915 and gave this account to the Luton Reporter newspaper of the landing and the regiment's first encounter with the Turks.

We sailed on August 26th. The first experience of seasickness was encountered in the Bay of Biscay, but that was only a temporary inconvenience and everyone was in the highest possible spirits. We saw little of Gibraltar, for we passed the famous sentinel rock on the night of August 2nd and arrived at Malta on the 3rd. The battalion spent a few hours at the Mediterranean fortress, and the soldiers were soon buying presents for their folk at home.

Proceeding on our voyage, which throughout was delightfully calm and enjoyable, we reached Alexandria on Friday, August 6th, and put into port, where we made preparations to get into fighting trim after unloading the transports and organising a base. A seven-mile route march round Alexandria, with band playing, afforded an interesting spectacle to the natives. The European part was very picturesque, and a sight of some Egyptian ladies with faces veiled greatly interested us."We left a few reserves behind, and then set sail for Gallipoli, the transport ship threading its way through a maze of small islands, rocks and volcanoes, some of the latter being in eruption. We stopped at the island of Lemnos on August 10th, but were soon signalled by the Naval Brigade to put to sea, and in an hour or two we had started on our final run to Gallipoli, where we arrived at midday.

We effected a landing at Suvla Bay from small flat-bottomed boats, densely crowded, and an exciting time we had, shells dropping all round, but, fortunately, there were no casualties in out battalion. Nevertheless, we were glad when we had secured a footing once more on dry land. We immediately settled down, not far from the coast, and in little groups proceeded to brew tea and partake of bully beef and biscuits. It was a crude meal, but we were in jovial spirits, and we thoroughly enjoyed this first meal on Turkish soil.

Then we moved farther inland, improvised a base, and bivouacked in the open, tying our blankets to bushes so as to form huts. We were having a fine time and enjoying the unique experience, and when an order arrived permitting bathing we were happier than ever. Scores of us were soon in the sea and, though the Turkish shells were dropping into the water, the first feeling of nervousness soon wore off, and we ceased to take notice of them.

For four days we stayed in the base camp, cooking and eating our meals when inclined, and bathing at will. On the 13th and 14th August we went trench digging, and were sniped at all the time, both going and coming back, but there was only one casualty on the first visit and three or four on the second.

On Sunday, August 15th, the morning before the battle, a service took place, one of the officers addressing the men. At 11.30 am a rumour was circulated that we were about to go into battle. We soon got definite orders to get dinner quickly, and bully beef and biscuit rations were made up for three days in case we should get no chance of procuring any more for a time.

At 12.30 we started into action, and a merrier lot you never set eyes upon. The spirit of the men was marvellous. The great guns of the battleships and our field guns, as we marched forward towards the enemy, opened fire to keep them quiet, and so our fellows, as the Turks at last replied, dodged here and there to cover, the same cheerful spirit prevailing, the irrepressible jokers of the regiment keeping up a regular fusilade of witticisms.

And so the advance went on, the shrapnel and rifle fire of the enemy becoming hotter and hotter, and casualties began to occur. For a mile and a half it went on like this, men dropping here and there, all the time we made bayonets fixed, as snipers were everywhere on the route, in concealment.

At last we came to the final stage, the order to charge with the bayonet rang out, and we dashed onward to the attack. The fire of the enemy was now causing great gaps in our ranks, but no man paused for an instant, and those left swept forward with irresistible impetuosity. There was no stopping our brave fellows then - London, Essex and Bedford regiments charged together, but our lads passed regiments on their right and left, and dashed to the lead, causing the line to form a crescent, and sweeping everything before them. Turks fell before the cold steel in hundreds, and those who survived turned and fled.

By this time darkness had set in, and the only thing to do was to hold the position we had taken, which we were ordered to do at all costs. It was a very thin line that settled for the night, and we were continually under shell fire, but the enemy did not dare a counter-attack by his infantry. Some of our men took shelter behind huge rocks and boulders, whilst those who get no cover proceeded to dig themselves in, and so hard did they work that by the time the next day dawned they had completed some very respectable trenches, especially when the conditions are taken into consideration.

The cover answered the purposes for that day, and the following night the position was consolidated, and the battle developed into trench fighting. So we kept up the fight until the following Friday, and during that time Lieut Shoosmith, in command of the Machine Gun Section, performed prodigies of valour. All his section were killed or wounded, but he stuck to his gun until, to the great regret of the whole battalion, he was picked off by a bullet through the brain, and he died where he fell.

Here Cpl Matthews' story ended, for he was seized with dysentry and was sent back to Malta, and thence to England.

[The Luton Reporter: Monday, September 20th, 1915]

 

Sappers' experiences in Gallipoli

 

Letters from Gallipoli were taking over a fortnight to reach Luton and those received by the Luton Reporter newspaper in mid-September 1915 were sent by members of the East Anglian Royal Engineers before they had gone into action.

They had landed on August 16th, the day after the 5th Bedfordshires went into action and had since been almost continuously under shell fire while engaged on various works a few miles behind the firing line. Not the least of these had been the sinking of wells to obviate the difficulties which all the letters from the Peninsular had mentioned about securing an adequate supply of fresh water.

"We have only moved a short distance from the beach," says one Sapper of the 2/1st Field Company. "Our position is fairly safe, but we get shells all round us and are quite used to them. We can see our naval guns and artillery sending 'presents' to the Turks, and we get an occasional visit by a Taube aeroplane which drops bombs round here. We are making good progress.

"We get fairly decent food, but water is scarce and has to be brought up in boats. We expect to be supplied with cigarettes and tobacco, and have managed to get some from our ship. Our ships was damaged by shells yesterday, and she had top clear off - we could see all this from our position.

"I should like the Bedford 'shirkers' to be out here, if only to see the poor devils crawling back from the trenches and the wounded coming in. We do not expect to be out here very long, and I suppose they will find us a job elsewhere.

"I should like something to put in my water-bottle to improve the water. Money is of no use here, there is nowhere to spend it. We have no tents or billets (there are no buildings of any sort) and we have to fix ourselves up as best we can by digging ourselves in, or fixing up a shelter with waterproof sheets, blankets and rifles. There is a village a few miles away, but our guns have smashed it up."

Another Engineer, writing a week after landing, says: "We have had some exciting times. One of our chaps was killed by shrapnel last Saturday (August21st) and two others have been grazed by shrapnel bullets. Our company base is about two miles from the line, and one section goes up every night to repair trenches and bury the dead.

"A number of our chaps are sick with dysentry. Water is of every great value, and the greater part of us have not washed or shaved for a week."

"It's rather lively," is the description given of the E.A.R.E.'s situation by Sapper Percy Brown, son of Mr and Mrs A. Brown, of 4 Park Street West, Luton, who is in the 1/2nd Field Company. "We are encamped up the side of a hill, and it's a nice place, I can assure you.

"The insects here are rather big - lizards, grasshoppers, big black ants, snakes and scorpions etc - so you see, it's rather lively. We are road-making and doing different jobs. They send a few shells over now and again, just to show us they are about.

"We have some fine guns on the ships here. They must annoy the Turks somewhat. It is a very decent view you get when you are on top of the hill. You can see the hill Achi Baba stands on in the distance.

"But talk about a struggle for existence! You have to fight for water here, and cook all your own food up to now. A fellow threw a piece of bacon away the other day and we seized it, cleaned it and cooked it for tea, so you can see we are glad to get anything. The food, however, is not bad. We get bacon for breakfast, bully beef and biscuits for dinner and jam for tea. But there is no bread.

"There are plenty of Indians here with their long knives. They take water and different stores up to the firing line. It's a wonder how the mules they lead keep their footing on the small track on the hills.

"We get some nice nights here - the stars are lovely. It is cool at night and hot in the daytime. It doesn't seem to me the war is going to last a great while out here, I hope not anyway, because this is a wild spot and no mistake. We have a stone laid in the corner of our dug-out - that is our cupboard for odd biscuits and other dainties! Could you send me some sea soap as we are not supposed to have fresh water, and have to wash in the sea?

Writing on August 25th to friends at Vauxhall Motors, Sapper Gourley, of 8 Smart Street, Luton, says that many of his comrades are suffering from dysentry, owing to the hot weather and bad water.

"We had a very good voyage as regards weather, but naturally we had some exciting times. We went through the Straits of Gibraltar at night, but it was a grand night, and we stopped at Malta for a few hours but did not land. It is a splendid place, and looks grand. We then stayed at Alexandria for three days, but only had a few hours on land.

"We had no idea where we were bound for, but arrived here is the early morning, and were surprised to see that battleships firing and the Turks replying. We landed in small tugs under shell fire, and have been here since.

"We are only a few hundred yards from the beach, and all day the battleships are firing at the Turks, and we can plainly see where the enemy are. We are situated amongst a lot of hills, right away from civilisation, and not a living thing to be seen. We are on one side of the Peninsular, and the Turks on the other, and the bounders start shelling us about 6 am, and keep it up all day. Thank God, we have been very lucky.

"Although I myself have had some very narrow escapes from lumps of shell, none of our company have been hit. We are quite used to the whistling shells overhead, and the noise which they make when they burst. It is wonderful to think they do no damage near here, although there have been many casualties about us.

"For myself I shall be glad to get away from here, as it is hard to explain how we are situated. Fresh water has to be brought here by boat, and it is valued like gold. We must not wash in fresh water and, to tell the truth, although I have been here nearly two weeks, I have not had my clothes off nor yet a wash. We have a bathing parade every morning at five, but soap is no good as it will not act in salt water.

"Matches and cigarettes are also valued like gold. Money is no good as we cannot buy anything here. Bread and meat are an unheard of things, but we live in hopes of seeing better days. Water is our great trouble, but please tell Fred Wing that our chaps could do with some tobacco or cigarettes very very badly. I have known one Woodbine to fetch fourpence!

"As I write this that guns are booming away, but we are two or three miles away from the trenches, although we have to go there to take rations etc. We deserve all we get when we get back home, and shall know how to value common food and water."

[The Luton Reporter: Monday, September 20th, 1915]

 

Shortage of men in Gallipoli

 

"We are hung up for reinforcements and until we get them we have got to hang on." This is the position of the 1/5th Bedfords indicated in a letter from Acting Regimental Sgt-Major Milton, which bears out the need for more men emphasised in the recent letter from Lieut-Col Brighten.

"We are still in the trenches," writes Acting RSM Milton. "We have one week in and one week out but the week out is the worst of the two because you are exposed to more fire, artillery and rifle, than when in the trenches. And another thing, you are on fatigues practically day and night. We are doing a lot more than we ought to, owing to the shortage of men.

"We are holding the same length of trenches as when we were at full strength. We are very weak now. In addition to what we have lost in action, we have had a lot go away from here with dysentery. That is the chief complaint out here, and the two chief causes are impure water and tinned food.

"We are living a little better now, so perhaps we shall not lose so many. we have not made any advance at all for a month now, and we are simply sitting tight and hanging on for reinforcements, and until we get them we have got to hang on, but it is a slow game, this waiting, the longer we wait the worse it is going to be, as the Turks are strengthening their positions.

"It is going to be a terrific struggle to capture the trenches they are holding now, because we have got to cross an open stretch and then climb up a succession of very steep ridges, all of which are under shell and machine gun fire, in addition to rifles. So you can picture in your mind what the position is like."

Pte A. E. Dennis, from Leighton Buzzard, wrote from military hospital in Cairo: "All I can say is that the Turks are holding us quite easily with all the troops that are there, and now that the wet weather is coming on we will have a job to hold on. If they don't send out more troops the job will last as long as the one in France."

[Luton Reporter: Monday, November 22nd, 1915]

 

Soldier recalls the hell that was Gallipoli

 

Gallipoli Day 1953

Gallipoli veterans remembering at Luton War Memorial in 1953

 

From a Luton Private [unnamed], of the 1/5th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment who served with the Battalion in Gallipoli and is now at the Eastern Command Depot at Shoreham, we have received the following letter:

I thought I must write tonight [August 15th] of that night when, exactly 12 months ago, the Bedfordshire Territorials covered themselves with glory and nobly upheld the traditions of the magnificent regular battalions. The date brings back with full force all those horrible nightmares that I seemingly live through again and again, but of those I will not speak.

There have been many stories of heroism and adventure which will never be recorded in official despatches, but which nevertheless ought to be remembered by those on whose behalf they were done.

Tonight - August 15th, 1916 - is the anniversary of the advance under shrapnel, machine gun and rifle fire made across the Salt Lake Plain (situate between Suvla and Anzac) by the battalion - a battalion which, without prejudice, Luton ought to be proud of.

As an advance it was no more or less than what many other battalions have done. At the same time it is one more example of bravery and steadiness which adds to the lustre already obtained for the county by the officers and men of the Regular Battalions of the Bedfordshire Regiment.

We departed for our unknown destination "somewhere in the East" in the small hours of Monday morning, July 26th,1915, in very cheerful spirits. After a pleasant sea voyage which proved far from monotonous, although entirely free from any suspicion of adventure, we eventually landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, of the 11th day of August, 1915.

We rested for the first two days, adapting ourselves as best and as cheerfully as we could to our new surroundings - a greater contrast between England and civilised life and this could not be found.

Then came the long-expected order "prepare for attack," and at 12 noon on Sunday, August 15th, we commenced our historic advance, with the main object of capturing Kidney Hill and by doing so joining up and strengthening the British line.

We had hardly got over the crest of the hill when the Turkish gunners opened fire from concealed positions, and as we steadily advanced towards our objective we were met with furious rifle and machine gun fire. Gaps appeared in the ranks as casualties occurred but in this, our baptism of fire, not a man hesitated.

Only a few minutes before the attack commenced, our gallant Colonel [Edgar Brighten], in a few well chosen words, gave us the motto, "What we take we hold," and well did we carry out that motto, as when the order "Fix bayonets. Charge" proved.

It was hell, and only those who have experienced it can understand the mad lust that surges to the brain for the opportunity to get into combat with the enemy with the firm determination to kill. One sees red, and all the savage instincts of a man come out on top.

Oh, the memories of that awful day, when we lost the cream of our officers and men, are accentuated as I sit here in view of the deep blue sea and pen these few lines on the anniversary of that glorious charge.

When night came the line was re-organised as much as possible, but desultory firing continued until dawn. Stray parties of men were rounded up, digging was carried on, and when day broke the line was ready, though with only apologies for trenches.

It would be invidious to mention individuals, but I must say in all fairness that Lieut-Col E. W. Brighten and the late Major Younghusband did splendid work out there, and were mentioned in despatches. This is not the time to tell the whole story of the work of the battalion - it is too big a task.

It is a tribute to the whole 54th Division (East Anglian) T. F., to which we belonged, that the General Officer Commanding was able to send a message of congratulation and thanks for the sturdy spirit exhibited by all ranks.

When one realises - as only they who were at Suvla in those early days can - the abnormal difficulties under which we and other troops fought and worked, praise and appreciation cannot be too lavish. Want of suitable food and pure water, ignorance of the country and the fact that we were not acclimatised, were forces which called forth more than the best in men, and the wonderful thing is that all the troops responded so well.

Added to these difficulties was the terrible scourge of sickness, chiefly that dreaded disease dysentery from which even the Australians, acclimatised as they were, by no means escaped. As the days went on sickness developed and accumulated - the great heat by day and (by comparison) the intense cold by night, and the millions of flies, took their toll.

It is only natural, as a Lutonian myself, that I should wish to pay a tribute to the splendid way in which the men of the county have responded to the call of their King and country. No county can produce better men. Bedfordshire ought to be proud of her sons.

The Division is now in the backwaters of active service. The men have fought for their King and country. The remains of many comrades lie on the plains and hills of Gallipoli, their souls are in the hands of God. Unknown by name - like thousands of others - to the world at large, they have made the great adventure. In every Luton home - nay, in every Bedfordshire town, village or hamlet homestead, there are they who mourn and yet rejoice.

Let the people of Bedfordshire keep in memory the men, dead and living, of the 1/5th Bedfordshires who, on August 15th, 1915, proved themselves a credit to their county and worthy of the country that gave them their birth.

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: August 19th, 1916]

Stormy weather at Suvla Bay

 

An idea of the weather experienced at Suvla Bay, where so many Luton lads were fighting, may be gathered from a letter written by Sgt E. A. Spinks, of the East Anglian Field Ambulance.

"Towards night," says the Sergeant's letter, "we could see vivid flashes of lightning away over the sea and very dark clouds. Suddenly a terrific wind was blowing, sand and rain flying in clouds. The sea, which had been a pond all day, was driven up into great waves which soon covered out small stretch of beach, flooding the tents nearest the sea.

"The wind fanned the ashes of our cookhouse to life and carried the sparks right through our camp. Nine of our big tents out of 12 were blown down. No one was injured fortunately.

"Our carefully prepared dug-outs were smothered by sand and soaked with rain, and required reconstructing later, for which purpose we found the wreckage washed up after the storm very useful.

"Whilst the storm was on we had to go round the hospital and do what we could for the patients, which was very little, as you may imagine. At daybreak the sight was enough to break anyone's heart. There were sick men lying all over the place, tents in heaps, wreckage all along the beach, our own men wet, weary and sad. In fact it was absolutely a scene of desolation.

"Our operating and dispensing tents were flooded. In fact, six men and myself were compelled to rescue the medical instruments and stores during the storm. I have never experienced anything like it before, even in Africa. If it had not rained our camp would undoubtedly have been set on fire by the sparks from the cookhouse."

[Beds & Herts Saturday Telegraph: November 27th, 1915]

 

Two sons lost on one day

 

Payne Brothers

Two sons lost on one battlefield on one day. A tragic enough story - but it meant mum Ellen had lost a total of three of her four sons in the Great War in just eight months.

Sgt Albert Payne and Cpl Nathan Payne , of the 1/5th Bedfords, both perished at Gallipoli on the fateful August 15th, 1915. Pte Harry Gray, their older brother, had died in hospital in Edinburgh the previous January as a result of wounds sustained on the battlefield jn October 1914, and he was buried in a funeral with military honours at the Church Cemetery in Crawley Green Road, Luton. All three are included on the Luton Roll of Honour under the name of Payne.

It was newspaper reports that revealed the fraternal links between the Paynes and a Gray. All three had the same parents - Walter and Ellen - but the family had at various times used the surname Gray and the maternal grandmother surname of Payne.

The story of the surnames went back to the 1850s. Humphrey Gray, a London-born musician, was occupying a cottage at Bailey Field, Chase Street, Luton. His housekeeper was Emma Payne, a young and single bonnet sewer with two young children, aged four and two. At the time of the 1861 Census, Humphrey was aged 30 and Emma was 22 - and, whether or not he was the father of the first two children, Humphrey was by then the father of an illegitimate one-month-old boy, Walter Payne. The couple did eventually marry at the end of 1862 and the children's surnames were changed from Payne to Gray.

Gray remained the family name throughout the remainder of the 19th century, continuing after Humphrey died in the spring of 1897, aged 68. The name Gray still appeared alongside the by then family address at 2 Beech Road, Luton, in the 1911 Census and in a 1913 street directory, but by 1915 had reverted to Payne, by which surname Albert and Nathan appear in military records.

Pictured, left to right above: Nathan Payne, Albert Payne and Harry Gray.

Ultimately, Ellen appealed to the Queen to have her only remaining son bought home.

 

Wounded soldier's Gallipoli story

 

Although somewhat belated as a description of the work of the 5th Beds Regiment in Gallipoli, the following extracts taken from a letter written by one of our wounded Terriers are well worth reproduction as showing the hardihood and the endurance, the cheerful spirits and invincible equanimity of the heroes of the Dardanelles.

The letter was written by Pte James Ward to his brother Tom, who sent it on to the soldier's wife. Mrs Ward resides at Mill View, Letchworth Road, Limbury, and in peaceable times her husband was a well-sinker.

Pte Ward described the journey to Gallipoli, the ports of call and incidents of the voyage and, after telling of a route march through Alexandria, he says: "Then on to the land of Turks and fortresses, whistling crickets, prickly bushes, rocky hills, bullets and shells. We were about to land when a German Taube [aircraft] came into sight, but the guns opened fire and drove it off. It dropped some bombs, but they all fell into the sea and did no damage.

"After that we all got safely landed and unloaded all our stuff the same day, and then we made ourselves as comfortable as we could for the night. Next day we learned what we were expected to do. e were then only a short distance from the firing line, and could watch the firing between the Turkish guns and our own Navy. They did let it rip!

"At night we went up into the reserve trenches and got a taste of being under fire, which is a funny sensation for a start, and we got a few casualties. Next day we had orders to dig ourselves in. The Turks must have spotted us because then they opened fire on us, and then it was a case of 'bob down - he has got his book out!'

"You should have seen them work. Those trenches were dug in record time. It would have done [Luton builder's merchant] George Powdrill's eyes good to have watched them. His own navvies could not have beaten them. A good thing for trench digging are a few shells flying over the diggers. We had that experience until the Sunday dinner time, August 15th, and then we had orders to get on our fighting kit and war paint and proceed to the scene of operations.

"When everything was ready, off we went up the hills to meet the foe. We had not got very far when they opened fire on us with bullet and shrapnel. At first it sounded like an iron foundry collapsing, but on we went, past our own artillery which was giving us covering fire. It was there the men began to fall. I saw several go down, and then a shrapnel shell burst overhead, and down goes poor old Jim [the writer].

"I got up and tried to follow the others, but down I went again. I tried to get up, but I was done. I had been hit too hard and my leg began to swell. I had lost the use of it, so there I had to lie for a time with the bullets flying all about me and the shells bursting in the air. I dare not move for fear of being hit by a sniper looking for a chance of handing in your time-sheet.

Caring Indian mule-drivers

"So I had to stay where I was for a time, and them i slipped off my equipment and put it on one side and started to crawl, dragging my leg along the best I could. I had crawled about 100 yards and stopped to rest under cover of a big rock, when a dark object looked over the top and bobbed back again.

"At first I thought it was Johnny Turk and says to myself, 'Hullo, Jim, your number's up', but in a short time he returned with another one. They happened to be two Indian mule-drivers, and seeing my head go up and down and thinking I was wounded, they had come to fetch me.

"When I made them understand where my wounds were, they picked me up and carried me into a gulley, where there were about two dozen more taking cover with their pack mules. There they put me down amongst them and examined my leg and gave me some drink, filled my pipe and lit it for me.

"While smoking, over came another shell. They pushed me down and fell round me as a protection, but it went whizzing over. They then got up and saw me all right before they left to take some more tackle up to the firing line. They drive three mules each and carry water, provisions and ammunition right into the firing line day and night. They don't forget to keep that little cheese-cutter of their well sharpened, and it was woe betide Mr Turk if they got hold of him.

"After waiting a little while where they left me, a chap came hobbling along with a sprained foot, and he stayed with me until a doctor came and bandaged me up and made me comfortable until the stretcher came and carried me down to the base. I was given some hot tea and cigarettes, and the wound was freshly dressed and preparations made for my removal to the hospital ship.

"Next day there was a lot waiting, and nearly all of us Bedfords. We were lucky to be shifted early next day, as the Turks began shelling the hospital, and several of the men got hit again. On the Saturday before they had shelled the wounded in the dressing tent, killing eight of the men and the officer in charge.

"When we got to the ship the doctors and nurses were waiting to receive us, and the treatment was grand. We were stripped and given a hot bath, our clothes taken away, and then they put on each of us a suit of pyjamas. You would have laughed at us. Talk about old 'Guy!' Then they put us into bed and attended to us there.

"We had three days of that, and then we were landed on an island, and here I am now. I daresay I shall be back in the firing line before you receive this, as we are not very far off, and we can listen to the guns bombarding."

[The Luton News: Thursday, January 20th, 1916]