Tuesday 28 September 1915 – We Lost 1,108
The new river gunboat Comet is ordered with other gunboats to examine and if possible destroy an obstruction placed across the River Tigris during the advance to Kut-el-Amara by the Turks. When the gunboats approach the obstruction very heavy rifle and machine gun fire is opened on them from both banks. An attempt to sink the center dhow of the obstruction by gunfire fails and Lieutenant Commander Edgar Christopher Cookson DSO (Royal Navy) orders the Comet to be placed alongside and he jumps on the dhow with an axe and tries to cut the wire hawsers connecting it with the two other craft forming the obstruction. He is immediately shot in several places and dies within a few minutes. For his actions Commander Cookson will be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
On Gallipoli the Turks attempt several times to take the position held by the Newfoundland Regiment. Their attempt cost them heavy losses and end in complete failure. In order to make any advance in this area the Turks have to rise over the crest of the nearest ridge, about seven hundred yards away. Their plan was to attack in mass formation, but as they appear on the crest of the ridge they are subject to a terrific rain of shells from the ships in the Bay and batteries at Suvla. The Newfoundland Regiment stands to arms for several hours. They expect at any moment the order to advance and engage the enemy or to have to ward off a strong enemy attack. Although the Turks do make an attempt to advance in great strength so accurate and destructive is the work of the British ships and artillery that comparatively few of the enemy are left to be held up by rifle fire. No casualties are suffered by the Newfoundlanders.
A desperate struggle to advance in the Hohenzollern Redoubt lasting all day is made by the East Kent Regiment and the Middlesex Regiment but the machine-gun power and the hand-grenade supremacy of the enemy is too great. At night when Br.-General B.C.M. Carter took over command of the 85th Brigade, the British front line was still in the Hohenzollern, and the enemy has footings in both Big and Little Willie .
Near Vermelles, France, when the regimental bombers can make no headway, Second Lieutenant Alexander Buller Turner (Berkshire Regiment) volunteers to lead a new bombing attack. He makes his way down the communication trench practically alone, throwing bombs incessantly with such dash and determination that he drives off the Germans about 150 yards without a check. His action enables the reserves to advance with very little loss and subsequently covers the flank of his regiment in its retirement, thus probably averting the loss of some hundreds of men. He is shot in the abdomen at close range during the action for which he will be awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. Second Lieutenant Turner will die three days later of the wounds received in this action at No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station, Chocques. His brother will be awarded the Victoria Cross for actions at El Elamein in 1942.
Today’s losses include:
- A Victoria Cross winner whose brother will be awarded the Victoria Cross in 1942
- A brother of the Great War Poet Robert William Sterling who was killed last April
- The son of the 8th Earl of Bessborough and father of the 11th Earl
- Son of the Principal of North Wales Baptist College
- Son of the former Mayor of Sydney Australia Municipal Council
- Multiple battalion commanders
- A Marylebone Cricket Club member
- A Rosslyn Park footballer
- Multiple sons of members of the clergy
- The grandson of a member of the clergy
- Families that will lose up to four sons in the Great War
Today’s highlighted casualties include:
- Lance Corporal Harold Chapin (Royal Army Medical Corps) is killed at age 29 at Loos. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and is an English actor, playwright and dies “a British soldier”. He appeared extensively in the West End and in the original production of “What Every Woman Knows” by J M Barrie and “Strife” by John Galsworthy. He was also a director and stage manager. He is regarded as one of the greatest potential dramatic talents to be lost in the Great War and his work has been compared with that of the Edwardian playwright St John Hankin. He enlisted in the Royal Army Medical Corps in September 1914 and when he was killed he leaves a widow and a five-year old son.
Members of the Middlesex Regiment:
- Lieutenant Colonel George Henry Neale (commanding 3rd Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 46. He served in many overseas campaigns including Niger 1897, Tirah 1897-8 Waziristan 1902 and Tibet 1903-4. He played one match for MCC in 1902.
- Captain Charles Edward Hill (Middlesex Regiment) is killed at age 41. He is the son of the Reverend Edward Hill Vicar of Boxgrove.
- Second Lieutenant Henry Morris (Middlesex Regiment) is killed in action at age 22. He is the son of Principal Silas Morris of North Wales Baptist College and was educated at Rugby School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was Head of Rugby in 1912-13.
- Corporal Charles Edward James (Middlesex Regiment) becomes the third of four brothers who will be killed in the War when he dies at age 31.
Casualties in the East Kent Regiment include:
- The commanding officer of the 2nd battalion Lieutenant Colonel Claude Arthur Worthington who is killed at age 41. He is a veteran of the South Africa War.
- Sergeant Charles Stephen Hollands (East Kent Regiment) is killed at age 25. His brother will be killed next July.
- Private Percy Pearce (East Kent Regiment) is killed at age 21. His brother will be killed in December on Gallipoli.
Other losses include:
- Lieutenant Colonel John Raymond Evelyn Stansfield DSO (commanding 2nd Gordon Highlanders) is killed at age 35. He is the son of the Reverend John Birkbeck Evelyn Sansfield Rector of Downham, grandson of the Reverend John Stansfield Vicar of Coniston Cold and a veteran of the South African War.
- Major ‘the Honorable’ Cyril Myles Brabazon Ponsonby MVO (Grenadier Guards) is killed in action at age 34. He is the second son of the 8th Earl of and Countess of Bessborough and father of the 11th Earl and served in the South African War.
- Captain Charles Miller Couper (Black Watch) is killed at age 25. His brother will be killed in April 1918.
- Captain Maurice Clive Radford DSO (Berkshire Regiment) is killed in action at age 31. His brother, a famous theatre performer will be killed in August 1916.
- Captain Llewellyn Charles Nash (King’s Royal Rifle Corps) dies of wounds at age 20. His brother was killed last September.
- Second Lieutenant John Lockhart Sterling (Scots Fusiliers) is killed at age 20. He is the younger brother of the Great War Poet Robert William Sterling who was killed last April.
- Second Lieutenant Sydney Burdekin (Royal Field Artillery) is killed at age 29. He is the son of the former Mayor of the Sydney Australia Municipal Council and a Rosslyn Park footballer.
- Second Lieutenant John Elliot Ainslie (Royal Scots) is killed by a sniper at age 19. He is the only son of the Reverend William James Ainslie.
- Private Ferdinand Brenyer Reuben Dodson (Bedfordshire Regiment) is killed at age 19. His brother will be killed in August 1918.
- Private Robert Alexander Whyte (Cameron Highlanders) is killed at age 23. His brother will be killed in November 1916.