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