Thursday 12 August 1915 – We Lost 688

Horace George Proctor-Beauchamp

Horace George Proctor-Beauchamp

This morning three infantry battalions of the 163rd Brigade (1st/5th Norfolk, 1st/5th Suffolk and 1st/8th Hampshire) are occupying trenches, running south from the right of the 10th Division.  They have occupied these positions since the early morning yesterday, and they have experienced artillery fire and a certain amount of sniping; they are also suffering from a shortage of water and great difficulty has been experienced in getting water to them. At 13:15, orders are received at Brigade HQ, which is still situated at the beach, to advance and clear the area around Anafarta Spur of snipers. Brigade is informed that the advance is to commence at 16:00 and instructions are sent to Colonel ‘Sir’ Horace George Proctor-Beauchamp 6th Baronet CB (Commanding Officer of the 1st/5th Norfolk – who is in local command of the Brigade in the trenches) to order the Brigade to be ready at 16:00.  By 15:25 Brigade Headquarters has moved from the beach and established itself on the forward line of trenches near the Headquarters of the Suffolk Regiment.  Here Staff Officers are dismayed to hear that the orders to be ready to advance at 16:00 have not been received by the Suffolk or the Hampshire Regiments. Not with standing this breakdown in communication, the planned naval bombardment commences precisely at 16:00.  The Brigade attack commences at 16:40, units advancing in a line running approximately north and south in the following order: from north to south Suffolk Regiment – with the Norfolk Regiment in support in rear of the Suffolk Regiment then the Hampshire and remaining members of the Norfolk Regiment.

The attack is delayed but the bombardment, predominantly naval, is on time – though largely ineffective as heavy explosives rather than shrapnel is employed, and the targets have not been clearly specified, though the noise would certainly have been comforting for the waiting British troops.  The advance starts at approximately 16:45 and almost immediately the Norfolk Regiment makes a half-turn to the right resulting in a separation of forces and confusion.  After about 1,000 yards advance across the plain (difficult, thorny scrub, ditches and dry watercourse) the Brigade is subjected to devastating enfilade fire (machine guns and small arms from the left, from the direction of Kidney Hill, and shelling, shrapnel from the right, from the direction of the W Hills; but the firing is less ferocious from the front allowing the advance to progress, although many men fall to sniper fire from well concealed positions hidden in the scrub and low well-leafed trees(stunted oaks).  Some elements of the Norfolk Regiment on the right outpace the Hampshire Regiment in the center and the Suffolk Regiment on the left.  The confusion is increased by the scrub being set on fire by shell fire and the chaotic advance continues unsupported through thick smoke, component forces getting split, disorientated and attacked by defending Turks; resulting in many casualties killed and wounded. The men, weak through lack of sleep and water become exhausted and the attack slows. Some (notably a number of the Norfolks) press on and, getting beyond the Turkish line are dealt with by the defending forces.  The attack halts and a rallying position is established in the sunken track near the Anafarta wells Anafarta Plain looking towards Tekke Teppe.

The advance of the 163rd Brigade fails for familiar reasons: inadequate preparation, complete absence of reconnaissance, failure to identify objectives, ineffective artillery bombardment, lack of experience of the troops, inefficiency – indeed possible incompetence of leaders and, very importantly, the resolute resistance of the Turkish defenders.  As a result of the failure of the Brigade’s attack the major offensive towards Tekke Teppe by the 54th Division, planned for dawn tomorrow is cancelled.

Bauchop’s Hill, Table Top, and a considerable salient covering Argyl Dere have all been captured by the Allies.  At the south end of the line Lone Pine is secured by the 1st Australian Division but Baby 700, Chunuk Bair and Hill 60 (on the Suvla side) are still in enemy hands.

Flight Commander Charles H K Edmonds (Royal Naval Air Service) flies from the Gulf of Xeros (HMS Ben my Chree) to attack Turkish shipping and becomes the first man to torpedo and sink shipping from the air.

Production on the first tank is begun: No 1 Lincoln or Tritton Machine will be called ‘Little Willie’.

The government orders 1,000 Stokes mortars the first 20 of which will be delivered on 6th September and sent to France on 11th September.

Today’s losses include:

  • A Baronet and his nephew
  • Two sons of Baronets
  • Two battalion commanders
  • The first mountaineer to scale Mount Aspiring in New Zealand
  • Two members of the premier sail making family in England
  • A film actor and director
  • The father of actress Dorothy Holmes-Gore
  • Multiple sons of members of the clergy
  • The son of a Justice of the Peace
  • A bronze medal Olympic rower
  • A staff member of the Winnipeg Telegraph
  • A rugby footballer
  • Multiple examples of brothers killed together
  • A man who will lose three brothers in service of King and Country
  • Multiple men who will have two brothers killed in the Great WSar
  • Three brothers killed together
  • Multiple examples of men who will have a brother killed in the Great War

 Today’s highlighted casualties are:

 Among those killed in the attack of the 163rd Brigade are:

  • Lieutenant Colonel Horace George Proctor-Beauchamp CB the 6th Baronet and his nephew Second Lieutenant Montagu Barclay Granville Proctor-Beauchamp (Norfolk Regiment) age 22 son of the Reverend ‘Sir’ Montagu H Proctor-Beauchamp the 7th
  • Lieutenant Colonel William Morriss Armes (commanding 5th Suffolk Regiment) is killed. His brother will be killed in April 1916.
  • Brothers Captain Edward Randall Cubitt (Norfolk Regiment) and Lieutenant Victor Murray Cubitt are both killed. Edward dies at age 30, while Victor is only 27. They are the sons of E G Cubitt JP who will lose another son in April 1917.
  • Second Lieutenant Randall Burroughs a cousin of the Cubitts is also killed. Captain Frank Reginald Beck MVO is killed at age 54. He was instrumental in the formation of the Sandringham Company of Volunteers.
  • His nephew Lieutenant Albert Edward Alexander Beck MC (Norfolk Regiment) is killed in action at age 34. His brothers will be killed in April and August 1917.
  • Captain Arthur Edward Martyr Ward (Norfolk Regiment) is killed at age 37. He is the son of the Reverend John Martyr Ward Rector of Gressenhall.
  • Lieutenant Marcus Francis Oliphant (Norfolk Regiment) is killed. He is the son of the Reverend Francis George Oliphant.
  • Another set of brothers Captains Donald White Ratsey age 31 and Clayton Ratsay (Hampshire Regiment) age 29 are also killed at Suvla Bay. They command C and D companies respectively.  Their younger brother Lieutenant Stephen Gilbert Ratsey will be killed in April 1917 in Palestine.  For hundreds of years the family has been considered the premier sail makers in England.
  • Captain Arthur Holmes-Gore (Hampshire Regiment) is killed at age 45. He is a film actor and director and father of the actress Dorothy Holmes-Gore. He is an actor/director on both the stage and movies in Great Britain and the United States. He appeared in a total of eight movies including The Prisoner of Zenda and directed three movies in 1914.
  • Second Lieutenant Laurence Charles Watson (Hampshire Regiment) is killed at age 22. His brother will die of wounds in April 1917.
  • Also killed in the Hampshire Regiment today are three brothers serving together. Riflemen Edward George Urry (35) and his younger brothers Frederick Albert (21) and William Henry Urry (26) are killed as they advance across Kuchak Anafarta Ova on Gallipoli. The family’s tragedy on this day does not end with their deaths as Edward’s brother-in-law Rifleman William Richardson of the same Regiment is killed in the same action at age 21.
  • Rifleman Reginald Robert Sibbick (Hampshire Regiment) is killed at age 20. His brother was killed last month also on Gallipoli.
  • Rifleman Philip Gilbert (Hampshire) is killed at age 19. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
  • Rifleman Adolphus Roy Ballard (Hampshire Regiment) is killed at age 18. He has three cousins (all brothers) who will be killed later in the War.

Also lost on Gallipoli

  • Major Bernard Head (Welsh Fusiliers) is killed on Gallipoli at age 39. He is a mountaineer who was the first to scale Mount Aspiring New Zealand in 1909 which is the central figure feature of Mount Aspiring National Park.
  • Major De Lacy Woolrich Passy (Punjabis attached Northumberland Fusiliers) is killed on Gallipoli at age 37. His brother was killed in October 1914.
  • Second Lieutenant Edmund Maurice Buckley (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) dies of wounds on Gallipoli at age 29. He is the son of the late ‘Sir’ Edmund Buckley the 2nd
  • Company Sergeant Major Andrew Thomas Cumming (Australian Infantry) dies of wounds at sea off Gallipoli at age 25. His brother will be killed in October 1917.
  • Private Charles Bray (Duke of Wellington’s Regiment) is killed in action on Gallipoli at age 23. His brother will die at home in June 1918.
  • Private James Henry Harding (North Staffordshire Regiment) is killed. He is the first of four brothers who will lose their lives in the service of their King the next two are killed in the Great War and the last in the sinking of the submarine M1 lost in a collision with a Swedish steamship in November 1925 with no survivors.
  • The 2nd Battalion South Wales Borderers is attacked while repairing damaged trenches on Gallipoli. They suffer one casualty Private John Herbert Harris a well known local Rugby player being killed.

On the Western Front

  • Major Hugh Speke (Lancashire Fusiliers) is killed at age 37. He is the son of the Reverend Benjamin Speke Rector of Dowlish Wake and a veteran of the South Africa War.  He is an ordained Deacon and Priest of the Church of England and a mission priest in Western Canada who returned to join the forces in October 1914.
  • Lieutenant Edward Gordon Williams (Grenadier Guards) is killed at age 27. He was on the Bronze Medal winning 1908 Olympic men’s eight crew and rowed for Cambridge in the Boat Race from 1908 to 1910.

Non-combat losses today

  • Lieutenant Gilbert Thomas Richardson Pettigrew (Herefordshire Regiment attached Royal Flying Corps) is accidentally killed in England. He is on the staff of the Winnipeg Telegraph and formerly of the Montreal Daily Mai and is the former Private Secretary of the Minister of Public Works for Manitoba.
  • Private Albert T Williams (Canadian Infantry) dies on service at home at age 21. His brother will be killed in June 1916.