Monday 26 April 1915 – We Lost 1,609
In the second battle of Ypres German forces pierce the British line at Broodseinde while again the British fail to recover St Julien. “Gas Masks, Type I”, rather useless patches of blue flannel mouth covering, are distributed to the British and Canadian troops in the line. Jemadar Mir Dast (55th Rifles attached 57th Rifles IOM) is awarded the Victoria Cross for conspicuous bravery and great ability at Ypres. He leads his platoon with great gallantry during the attack, and afterwards collects various parties of the regiment (when no British officers are left) and keeps them under his command until the retirement is ordered. Jemadar Mir Dast subsequently on this day displays remarkable courage in helping to carry eight British and Indian officers into safety while exposed to very heavy fire.
After his company commander has been wounded Lieutenant George Stuart Henderson (Manchester Regiment) leads his company to within 70 yards of the enemy’s trenches with great gallantry and determination and holds on through several hours of daylight and finally establishes himself there. Throughout the operations he set a final example after most of the senior officers have become casualties. On 24th July 1920 Captain Henderson will lead his company during the Iraqi revolt in three charges against the enemy who had opened fire from the flank. At one time when the situation was extremely critical, the captain, by sheer pluck and coolness, steadied his command and prevented his company from being cut up. During the second charge he will fall wounded but refuses to leave his command and just as the company reaches the trench, he is again wounded, this time mortally. For his actions he will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
British airmen bomb Courtrais and various neighboring places. Second Lieutenant William Barnard Rhodes-Moorhouse (Royal Flying Corps) is awarded the Victoria Cross for most conspicuous bravery in flying to Courtrais and dropping bombs on the railway line near that station. On starting the return journey he is mortally wounded but succeeds in flying for thirty-five miles to his destination at a very low altitude and reports the successful accomplishment of his mission. He will die of his wounds tomorrow at age 27. This is the first air Victoria Cross ever awarded, his aircraft is a BE2. Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorhouse had been engaged on monoplane experiments, chiefly at Huntingdon, during 1910 and 1911, and has been described as “one of the pioneers of aviation in England” and “the finest cross-country flier of his time.” He took his Pilot’s certificate after flying over 1,000 miles in October 1911 and made the first Channel flight with two passengers in August, 1912. He gave up flying after his marriage but on the outbreak of the War, received a Commission in the Royal Flying Corps. He was at first placed in charge of the workshops at South Farnborough, and then in March 1915 he transferred to the Front. His son William Henry ‘Willie’ Rhodes-Moorhouse is less than a year old when his father dies will represent England as a skier. In 1937 he will joined the Royal Air Force, flying in Bristol Blenheims, then Hawker Hurricanes with No. 601 Squadron RAF. He will be shot down and killed over Kent during the Battle of Britain in 1940, shortly after being awarded the DFC.
At Gallipoli, Hill 141 is stormed by allied forces and V beach is secured. By nightfall more than 30,000 Allied troops are ashore on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Sedd-el-Bahr is captured, and as the Turks withdraw the landing beaches are linked, the line now encompassed the tip of the peninsula.
On Y Beach the Royal Marines commander, Colonel Godfrey E Matthews realizing that half his position has been abandoned, has no option but to withdraw despite driving off a renewed Turkish attack early this morning. Ironically, at this moment the Turks also think that they have been beaten and retire, enabling Matthew’s detachment to get away without further loss.
Subsequent to a landing have been effected on the beach at a point on the Gallipoli Peninsula Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hotham Montagu Doughty-Wylie (Welsh Fusiliers attached as G.S.O.2 to H.Q. Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.) age 46 and Captain Garth Neville Walford age 32 (Royal Artillery) organize and lead an attack through and on both sides of the village of Sedd-en-Bahr on the old castle at the top of the hill inland. The enemy’s position is very strongly held and entrenched and defended, with concealed machine guns and pom poms. It is mainly due to the initiative of these two officers that the attack is a complete success. Both officers are killed in the moment of victory. For their efforts both men will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
- Doughty-Wylie was the British consul in Mersina, Turkey, during the Turkish revolution of 1909. Richard Bell-Davies (later a VC winner, then a lieutenant on the battleship HMS Swiftsure) met him at the time and gives an account in his autobiography Sailor in the Air (1967). Massacres of Armenians started along with the revolution, and Bell-Davies says that it was largely due to the efforts of Doughty-Wylie that these were halted in Mersina. Doughty-Wylie went to Adana, forty miles away. He persuaded the local Vali (Governor) to give him a small escort of Turkish troops and a bugler and with these managed to restore order. Mrs. Doughty-Wylie turned part of the dragoman’s house into a hospital for wounded Armenians. Bell-Davies says that by the time an armed party from Swiftsure arrived, Doughty-Wylie had almost stopped the massacre single-handedly. Newspaper reports of the period record that Doughty-Wylie was shot in the arm, while trying to prevent these massacres. Doughty-Wylie was the recipient of the Order of the Medjidie from the Turkish Government. He was awarded the Medjidie because of his work during the Balkan Wars when he served with the British Red Cross helping the Turkish Military. He is the only soldier to have been awarded military honors by both the British Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Doughty-Wylie is shot in the face by a sniper at age 46 and in the force attacking Gallipoli “owing to his great knowledge of things Turkish”
- Walford is the son-in-law of Colonel ‘the Honorable’ J S Trefusis. He entered the Royal Artillery in December 1902 and he became Captain in 1914 and Brigade-Major in January 1915. When war broke out he was at the Staff College and went out to France in the middle of August being present at the Battle of the Aisne, and all the major engagements until January 1915 when he was at Ypres, serving with two batteries and holding temporary Staff appointments. He then returned to England and sailed for the Dardanelles as Brigade-Major Royal Artillery 29th
Two German batteries of artillery attack Trekkopjes at first light. Colonel Skinner cannot reply to the German guns for his only artillery is a home-made anti-aircraft contraption, (a fifteen pounder mounted on a wagon wheel which can only shoot at the sky). The armored car unit under Lieutenant Commander Whittall now sees action for the first time. Moving quickly to the German flank, the armored cars’ machine guns prove decisive when the Germans put in their infantry attack. After a five hour battle the Germans draw off, having lost fourteen dead, fourteen wounded and thirteen taken prisoner. The Union forces lose eight killed and thirty four wounded.
Lord Kitchener states that Germany has stooped to acts that vie with those of the Dervishes. Mr. Asquith, in the House of Commons, states that reparations will be extracted from all proven to have been guilty of such acts.
The Treaty of London 1915, a secret pact between Italy and Triple Entente, is signed in London today by the Kingdom of Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Russia. According to the pact, Italy is to leave the Triple Alliance and join Triple Entente, as already stated in a secret agreement signed in London, on 5th September 1914. Furthermore, Italy is to declare war against Germany and Austria-Hungary within a month — and in fact the declaration of war will be published 23 May.
Today’s losses include:
- Three battalion commanders
- A Brigadier General
- Multiple Victoria Cross winners
- An Olympic runner
- A winner of the Strathcona Gold Medal for shooting
- The winner of the 1905 880 yard race in the Scotland versus Ireland games
- Multiple men whose sons will be killed in the Second World War
- Multiple sons of Generals
- The grandson of a General
- Multiple First Class cricket players
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- The grandson of a member of the clergy
- Multiple sons of Justices of the Peace
- The heir to the 1st and last Baron Kirkley
- The son of a Baronet
- The Assistant Master at St Mark’s School
- A noted Rugby football player
- Multiple families that will lose two sons in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties are:
- Brigadier General James Foster Riddell (149th Brigade, 50th Division) is killed in action at St Julien at age 52. He is shot through the head at a point about one hundred fifty yards south of Vanheule Farm. He is the son-in-law of ‘Sir’ Henry Scott.
- Lieutenant Colonel Henry William Ernest Hitchins (commanding 1st Manchester Regiment) is killed at age 49. He is the only son of the late Major General Henry White Hitchins and the grandson of Lieutenant General Bejamin Hitchins.
- Lieutenant Colonel Frank Robert Rennick (commanding 40th Pathans) is killed.
- Captain Percy d’Aguilar Banks (Queen Victoria’s Own Corps of Guides attached 57th Wilde Rifles) is killed at age 29. He played first class cricket for Somerset in 1903 and 08.
- Captain Edward Nugent Bankes (Dublin Fusiliers) is killed at age 39. He is the son of the Honorable Lalage Letitaa Caroline Vivian Bankes and he served in the South African War.
- Captain William George Henry Bates (Leinster Regiment) is killed. He is the son of the Reverend William Wheatley Bates.
- Captain Herbert Quintus Irwin (Connaught Rangers) is killed at age 30. He is the son of the Reverend Canon Edward Irwin.
- Captain George Amelius Crawshay Sandeman (Hampshire Regiment) is killed at age 32. He is a first class cricketer for Hampshire and Marylebone Cricket Club.
- Captain George Neville Mackie (Sikh Frontier Force) is killed at age 31. He is the son of Lieutenant Colonel William Mackie JP and a South African War veteran. His son will be killed serving in the Royal Air Force in April 1941.
- Flight Lieutenant Stephen Medlicott (Royal Naval Air Service) is accidentally killed testing an airplane at home at age 22. He is the grandson of the Reverend Joseph Medlicott.
- Lieutenant William Black Noble (Northumberland Fusiliers) is killed. He is the son and heir to the 1st and last Baron Kirkley.
- Lieutenant Colin McDiarmid Allardice (Sikhs) is killed at age 27. His brother will be killed in July 1916.
- Lieutenant Arthur Richmond Garton (Northumberland Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 26. His younger brother will be killed on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916. His fiancé Una Tomlin Hunter also lost two brothers in the same action. Captains George Edward Hunter age 28 and Howard Tomlin Hunter, 26 (Northumberland Fusiliers) are both killed.
- Second Lieutenant Frederick William Polehampton (Royal Flying Corps) is accidentally killed at age 42 the day after he arrived in France. He is the son of the Reverend Edward Polehampton Rector of Hartfield.
- Second Lieutenant Francis Lancelot Rolleston (Royal Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 20. He is the son of the Baronet ‘Sir’ Humphry Davy Rolleston, GCVO, KCB, 1st
- Second Lieutenant Charles Robert Blackett (Shropshire Light Infantry) is killed at age 20. He is the son of the Reverend William Robert Blackett Rector of Smethcote.
- Sergeant Joseph Byrne (Dublin Fusiliers) is killed in action. His brother will be killed in two days.
- Lance Corporal W Paramore (Central Ontario Regiment) is killed at age 29. His brothers will be killed in March and April 1918.
- Private Leonard John Ricketts (Alberta Regiment) is killed in action. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
- Private Albert Herbert (Northamptonshire Regiment) is killed at Aubers Ridge at age 20. He is the Assistant Master at St Mark’s School and his two brothers will be killed on the same day in October 1917 serving in different regiments.
- Private Bert Arthur Presant (Quebec Regiment) is killed at age 16. He won the Strathcona Gold Medal at Toronto for shooting and at the Cadet School.
- Rifleman George Thomas Haffenden (London Regiment) is killed at age 27. His brother will be killed in June 1916 and their father will take his own life after the death of his two sons.
- Private Peter Galt (Seaforth Highlanders) is killed at age 34. He is the first of three brothers who are killed in the war.
- Private William Davidson Anderson (Saskachewan Regiment) dies of wounds. He is an Olympic athlete who competed in the 1906 games in the 400 and 800 meters. He won the 1905 880 yard race in the Scotland versus Ireland games.
On Gallipoli the Australians continue to suffer heavy casualties.
- Major Richard Saker (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 37. He is a veteran of the South African War and his brother was killed last October.
- Lieutenant Alan Morris Crawford Couve (Australian Infantry) dies of wounds received in action. His brother will be killed two weeks.
- Lieutenant Robert Bernard (Royal Dublin Fusiliers) is killed in action on Gallipoli at age 23. He is the son of the Most Reverend and Right Honorable J H Bernard DD Archbishop of Dublin.
- Private Philip Zahnleiter (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 24. His older brother will be killed in July 1916.
- Private Thomas Stephen Downes (Otago Infantry) is killed at age 31. His brother will be killed in October 1917.
- Rifleman Frederick Eve (Rifle Brigade) is killed at age 30. His brother will be killed in exactly one year to the day next 26 April.
Heavy losses are also reported by the King’s Own Scottish Borderers.
- Captain Maurice Andrew Noel Becher is killed at age 30. He is the only son of Major General Andrew Craycroft Becher. Captain Becher was gazetted to the King’s Own Scottish Borderers in 1905, and was promoted Captain in 1914. He was in India when the war broke out and left with his Regiment for Ismailia, in October 1914. After being there for six or eight weeks, during which time there was no fighting, he returned with the Regiment to England. In March 1915 they were ordered to the Dardanelles, with the 29th
- Captain Alexander Stewart Cooper is killed at age 33. He is the son of the late W S Cooper JP DL.
- Lieutenant Thomas Alexander Grant Miller is killed at age 21. He is a noted Rugby Football player and his brother will be killed in July 1917. They are sons of the Reverend Thomas Duncan Miller and grand nephew of the late General ‘Sir’ Archibald Galloway Buchanan.
- Lance Corporal John Nixon is killed in action at age 22. His brother was killed in October 1914.
- Private Peter McDonnell (Dublin Fusiliers) is killed at age 42. His two brothers will be killed together in less than one month serving in the same regiment.