Saturday 7 August 1915 – We Lost 2,330

by greatwarliveslost

The Nek Cemetery

The Nek Cemetery

The Nek is a ridge fifty yards wide at the Anzac line, narrowing to only thirty yards at the Turkish front.  The opposing trenches at this point are only twenty yards apart and at least five Turkish machine guns cover the ground between.  A half hour bombardment of the Turkish positions by all available land guns as well as naval gunfire precedes a planned attack by the 8th and 10th Australian Light Horse regiments on the Nek.  For reasons never known, the bombardment stops at 04:23, seven minutes earlier than planned.  In the silence of the next seven minutes the Turks move to man the trenches two deep in readiness for the attack.

At 04:30 the men of the 8th Light Horse Regiment climb out of their trenches and charge the Turks.  This is met by a hail of Turkish machine gun fire which cuts down the entire Australian line within 10 yards of their trenches.  All officers are killed, including the commander, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Henry White, who has insisted on leading his men into action, after saying goodbye to his troops with “Boys, you have ten minutes to live, and I am going to lead you”.  He dies at age thirty-three.  Lieutenant Eliot Gratton Wilson reaches the Turkish parapet where he is killed.  It is his 33rd birthday.  As soon as the first line clears the parapet the 2nd line takes their place.  Scrambling over the bodies of their fallen comrades, they meet the same fate.

Next comes the turn of the 10th Light Horse Regiment in the 3rd and 4th lines of the attack.  They know full well what has happened to their comrades in the previous two waves.  They also know most of them, if not all are going to certain death.  They shake hands with each other and quietly say goodbye.  Only a handful of the men reach the Turkish trenches where they are killed.  One light horseman, Private Wilfred Lukin Harper “is last seen running forward like a schoolboy in a foot race with all the speed he could compass”.  He too is cut down by gunfire and killed at age 25. This scene is highlighted in the movie “Gallipoli”. His brother Trooper Gresley Harper of the same battalion is killed at age thirty-one in the same charge. Also killed in the charge is Trooper Dudley Lukin whose brother will be killed in June 1918. The commander of the 10th, realizing that the objective cannot be taken, requests a cancellation of the attack. He is told the attack must be continued because of a report of a success. The slaughter continues. At the nearby Quinn’s Post, an entire line of 54 men from the 2nd Light Horse Regiment, except for one man, are killed or wounded within a few feet of their trenches.

When holding the north-west corner of ‘The Vineyard’, Lieutenant (Acting Captain) William Thomas Forshaw (Manchester Regiment) is attacked and heavily bombed by Turks, who advance time after time by three trenches which converge at this point, but he holds his own, not only directing his men and encouraging them by exposing himself with the utmost disregard to danger, but casually lighting bomb fuses with his cigarette, and personally throwing them continuously for forty-one hours.  (See 8th August 1915).

The opportunity for a swift victory at Chunuk Bair has been lost. The three battalions travelling along the north side of Rhododendron Spur are in position by 04:30 shortly before dawn. They advance to a knoll dubbed “The Apex” which is only about 500 yards from the summit where at the time there are only a handful of Turkish infantry. The Canterbury battalion on the south side of the spur is lost and delayed. Johnston makes the fatal decision to wait for the last battalion to arrive before making the attack. By 08:00 the Turks have started firing on the New Zealanders on the spur. In broad daylight, after an exhausting climb and faced by stiffening opposition, the prospects for a New Zealand assault against the peak looks slim. Nevertheless General Godley ordered Johnston to attack. Two hundred yards beyond where the New Zealanders are positioned on the Apex is another knoll called “The Pinnacle” from which it is a straight climb to the summit. Off the side of the spur to the north is a small, sheltered plateau known as “The Farm”.  Johnston orders the Auckland battalion to attack. About 100 men make it as far as the Pinnacle where they desperately try to dig in. Around 300 men fall as casualties between there and the Apex. Johnston tells the Wellington battalion to continue the attack. The battalion’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone refuses, stating that he is not willing to order his men to carry out a hopeless attack. He says his battalion will take Chunuk Bair at night. During the day the New Zealanders are reinforced by two battalions from the British 13th (Western) Division: the 7th Gloucestershire Regiment and the pioneers of 8th the Welsh Regiment.

At Chunuk Bair Ridge after the New Zealand Brigade has attacked and established itself on the ridge, Corporal Cyril Royston Guyton Bassett (New Zealand Divisional Signal Company), in full daylight and under continuous fire, succeeds in laying a telephone line from the old position to the new one on Chunuk Bair.  He also does further gallant work in connection with the repair of telephone lines by day and night under heavy fire.  For his actions on this day Corporal Bassett will be awarded the Victoria Cross, becoming the first New Zealander to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Great War.

At Suvla Bay progress is minimal. The two brigades of the 10th Division come ashore, adding to the confusion. In the heat of the day, the soldiers became desperate for drinking water. Towards evening two hills east of the salt lake are captured; these represented the sole gains for the first day ashore at Suvla. IX Corps has suffered 1,700 casualties in the first 24 hours, a figure exceeding the total size of the Turkish defenders. Stopford does not go ashore from the Jonquil and by the end of today the chain of command has completely broken down.

Battalions of the Lincolnshire Regiment and Border Regiment capture Green Hill and Chocolate Hill, while the West Yorkshire Regiment storm Lala Baba.

Lance Corporal Leonard Keysor (Australian Infantry) is in a trench at Lone Pine that is being heavily bombed by the Turks.  He picks up two live bombs and throws them back at the enemy at great risk to his own life.  Although wounded himself, he continues to throw bombs at the enemy, thereby saving a portion of the trench that is deemed too vital to hold.  For his actions on this and the next day he will be awarded the Victoria Cross.

Today’s losses include:

  • A man whose sister and her daughter will be killed in February 1941 during the Blitz
  • Seven battalion commanders
  • A Rhodes scholar
  • The son of the 6th Viscount Melville
  • The grandson of a Baronet
  • The amateur heavyweight boxing champion of New Zealand
  • A New Zealand Rugby international
  • Multiple Australian Rules footballers
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • The son of an Admiral
  • Multiple sons of Generals
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace
  • A man whose brother-in-law was killed yesterday
  • Multiple men who will have two brothers killed in the Great War
  • Multiple brothers who are killed together
  • Multiple men who will have a brother also killed in the Great War
  • Multiple men who will have a cousin killed in the Great War

 Today’s highlighted casualties are:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Richard Dalton Waterhouse (commanding 8th Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed at age 31.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Horace James Johnston DSO (commanding 8th Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed on Gallipoli.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Robert Scobie (commanding 2nd Australian Infantry) is killed at Lone Pine at age 44.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Albert Meill (commanding 9th Australian Light Horse) is killed at Russell’s Top at age 45.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Ernest Samuel Brown (commanding 3rd Australian Infantry) dies of wounds at Lone Pine at age 40.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Augustus Heathcote Allenby (commanding 7th Royal Scots Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 52. He is the son of Major R Allenby JP.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Edward Henry Chapman (commanding 6th Yorkshire Regiment) is killed on Gallipoli at age 40.
  • His cousin serving in the same regiment Captain Wilfred Hubert Chapman is also killed at age 35.
  • Major D’Arcy MacKenzie Fraser (75th Carnatic Infantry, Indian Army) is killed in action on Gallipoli. He is the son of Lieutenant General Hastings Fraser.
  • Major Percy John Overton (Canterbury Mounted Rifles) is killed in action in the Aghyl Dere below Chunuk Bair on Gallipoli at age 38. His younger brother will be killed in three days serving in the same regiment.
  • Staff Captain Gerald Lysley Derriman (Grenadier Guards) is killed at age 45. He is the son of the late Admiral Derriman.
  • Captain Henry Frederick Rycroft (York and Lancaster Regiment) is killed at age 36. He is the grandson of ‘Sir’ Richard Henry Charles Rycroft 3rd
  • Captain Alfred Victor Clegg (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 30 at Gallipoli. His younger brother will be killed serving in the Border Regiment at Gallipoli in fifteen days.
  • Captain Morton Brown Paton (South Lancashire Regiment attached Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 44. He is Cotton Merchant in Liverpool and former Bailliol student and the son of the Reverend Dr. John Brown Paton.
  • Captain Hugh Eaton Frederick Travers (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action on Gallipoli at age 21. He is the son of Brigadier General Joseph Oates Travers CMG DSO.
  • Lieutenant Leslie Hall Osborne (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 21. His brother, who is wounded in the same action, will die of those wounds on a hospital ship in two days.
  • Lieutenant Robert Douglas Foster (Lincolnshire Regiment) is killed at Suvla Bay. His brother will be killed in August 1917.
  • Lieutenant Lawrence Talbot Lisle Foster (Durham Light Infantry) is killed at age 30. He is the son of the Reverend Albert John Foster Vicar of Wooton.
  • Lieutenant Horace Curtis (West Yorkshire Regiment) is killed in action on Gallipoli at age 26. He has two brothers that are also killed in the war.
  • Lieutenant Thomas Holmes Nisbet (Otago Regiment, New Zealand Expeditionary Forces) is killed in action at age 23. His is the son of the Reverend Dr. Thomas Nisbet DD.
  • Lieutenant ‘the Honorable’ Kenneth Robert Dundas (Anson Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve) is killed in action on by an aerial bomb dropped by a German aircraft at Suvla Gallipoli at age 33. He is the son of the 6th Viscount Melville. He is a fluent German speaker and had been a former district commissioner in German East Africa.
  • Lieutenant Humphrey Gilbert Belcher (Wiltshire Regiment) is killed in action on Gallipoli at age 22. His brother will be killed serving in the same regiment in three days and they are sons of the Reverend Gilbert Edward Belcher Rector of Chaldon.
  • Lieutenant John Charles Marson (Welsh Regiment is killed at age 19. He is the only son of the Reverend Claud Latimer Marson Vicar of Hambridge.
  • Second Lieutenant Alexander Phipps Turnbull (Australian Light Horse) is killed at the Nek. He is a Rhodes Scholar.
  • Second Lieutenant Amiraux Silver Fletcher (Indian Army Reserve of Officers attached Gurkha Rifles) is killed on Gallipoli at age 32. He is the son of the Reverend J A Fletcher.
  • Second Lieutenant Geoffrey Robert Johnson (Gloucestershire Regiment) dies of wounds at age 25. His brother will be killed in November 1917.
  • Brothers Duncan age 27 and Robin Hook age 24 are killed together serving as commissioned officers in the Lancashire Regiment. They are buried in adjacent graves in Hill 10 Cemetery, not far from where they landed at the Salt Lake on Gallipoli.
  • Second Lieutenant Eric Duckworth (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed in action at age 19. He is the son of James Duckworth JP. The Redoubt Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery contains an oak tree planted by the parents of Second Lieutenant Duckworth in 1922; but his body was never found. This memorial is unique in the peninsula as the only private memorial located within a CWGC cemetery.
  • Sergeant William Ernest King (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 29. He is the brother in law of Everard Digges La Touche who died of wounds yesterday and the son of the Reverend Canon William J King Vicar of Kilcolman who will lose another son next April.
  • Sergeant John Leslie Connor (Australian Light Horse) is killed at age 30. His cousin will die of wounds off Gallipoli next month.
  • Sergeant Sydney John O’Neill (Australian Light Horse) is killed at age 27. He was an Australian Rules footbalerl who played one game for Fitzroy in 1909.
  • Sergeant Thomas Roughton Worthington (Manchester Regiment) is killed on Gallipoli. His sister Agnes Mary Bennison and her daughter will be killed in February 1941 during the Blitz.
  • Corporal Andrew Bernard Smith (Manchester Regiment) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in six weeks.
  • Lance Sergeant Eric Cecil Chute (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 26. His brother will be killed in September 1917.
  • Brothers serving in the Australian Light Horse are killed in action serving together. Lance Corporal Lindsay Lewis Stirling Chipper is killed at age 28, while his brother Trooper Ross Richard Vivian Chipper dies at age 31.
  • Another set of brothers serving in the Australian Light Horse are also killed serving together on the attack on Quinn’s Post and Pope’s Hill. Troopers Frederick Herbert and Harold Samuel Sherwood are both killed.  Frederick dies at age 29 while Harold dies at age 25.
  • Trooper George Frederick Henry Sandy (Australian Light Horse) is killed in action on Gallipoli at age 26. His younger brother will be killed on Gallipoli in seventeen days.
  • Trooper Arthur Jones (Australian Light Horse) an Australian Rules Footballer is killed at age 23. He scored 3 goals in 7 games for Fitzroy in 1914.
  • Trooper Frank Laird Villis (Australian Light Horse) and his brother Trooper Stanley Villis are killed together near Pope’s Hill. Frank dies at 25 while Stanley is 23.
  • Trooper Arthur Wellesley Oakes (Australian Light Horse) is killed at age 29. He is the son of the Archdeacon of Bathurst George Spencer Oakes Rector of Kelso New South Wales.
  • Private Henry Cullinan (Australian Infantry) is killed in action at age 24. His brother will be killed on the last day of this year.
  • Private Charles Savoury (Australian Infantry) dies of wounds at age 23. He is the Amateur Heavyweight boxing champion of New Zealand and a Rugby International.  He also was a member of the Australiasian Northern Union team that toured England.
  • Private Herbert Charles Wicking (Australian Infantry) is killed at age 23. His two brothers will be killed together in 1917.
  • Private Harry Richard Wildig (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed at age 20. His brother will be killed next July.
  • Private William Mather (Otago Regiment) is killed in action at age 28. His brother will be killed in March 1918.
  • Private Hugh McGlade (Royal Irish Fusiliers) is killed in action at Gallipoli. He has two brothers that will be killed in action during the war, one in 1916 the other in 1917.
  • Rifleman George Alfred Dolman (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in October 1918.
  • Private William Joseph Cooke (Gloucestershire Regiment) is killed at age 33. His brother was killed last May.
  • Private William Chester Yates (Manchester Regiment) is killed on Gallipoli less than one month after his brother died of wounds on Malta also received on Gallipoli. He is killed at age 18.
  • Private Edward Lawrence Goodall (Manchester Regiment) is killed on Gallipoli at age 19. His brother will be killed next July.