Dardanelles failure a humiliation for Allies

The campaign which temporarily ended the ministerial career of Winston Churchill in the autumn of 1915 was a particularly poignant event for families in the former borough of Tynemouth.

The harsh and unforgiving climate and terrain of the Gallipoli peninsular in Turkey frustrated the Allies (Britain and France), much as the hostile terrain of Afghanistan today allows a small and irregular group of dissidents to cause significant difficulties at a heavy cost for a much larger and sophisticated foreign alliance.

Much more so in Gallipoli, where the opponent was a well-trained and reasonably well-equipped adversary, assisted by German advisors who had been active in training the Turkish Army for many years before the war began.

Heavy losses at the southern tip of the peninsular were incurred in April and June 1915.

And there were further losses in August as the Allies tried to get around the Turkish defenders ensconced on the high ground that ran down the centre of the narrow isthmus guarding the access to the sea of Marmora and the prize of Constantinople.

Capturing this capital city of the decaying Ottoman Empire was seen as the way to knock Turkey out of the war and gain access to Russia for supply and reinforcement of the beleaguered Tsarist armies.

By September the position was hopeless, but it was another four months before the allied governments admitted defeat and organised an ignominious, if brilliantly executed, withdrawal at virtually no cost in terms of soldiers’ lives but enormous damage to the reputations of the two greatest imperial nations of the day.

A failed naval assault in March 1915 was followed by what is often called a ‘reinforcement of failure’ – the forced landings onto the peninsular.

The local population in Tynemouth saw many men killed and wounded in the fearful conditions of heat and a bare landscape offering little protection against enemy fire.

The campaign also saw the near destruction of the Collingwood Battalion of the Royal Naval Division (RND) on June 4, 1915.

Only reformed after most of its men were interned in Holland in October 1914 at Antwerp, the battalion was put into action for the first time on June 4, 1915, and suffered 75 per cent casualties, with more than 300 men killed including 18 of its officers, of whom, only two survived and both wounded and put out of action.

Major General Paris, commander of the division, felt he had no option in the field but to disband the Collingwood and reallocate its survivors to other battalions in the second brigade of the RND.

The next in the series of talks will be at the Low Lights Tavern and will take place at 7.30pm on Tuesday, August 21, and will feature the origins and deployment of the Royal Naval Division.

Tickets are free and can be obtained from the Low Lights Tavern, Keel Row Book Shop, Fenwick Terrace, Preston Road, and the project workroom.

Anyone with information on anyone killed or who died as a result of the war is asked to contact the project.

The project workroom at Room B9 Linskill Community Centre, Trevor Terrace, North Shields, is open from 10am to 4pm each weekday for visitors and for anyone interested to learn more about the project or how to get involved.

This week’s casualty list gives details of men from the former borough of Tynemouth who were killed or died in August 1914.

The first three casualties of the war recorded for Tynemouth.

They were killed by enemy action while onboard the HM trawler TW Irvin, which was minesweeping off the Tyne.

Millward, Henry Woodvine, age 23, deckhand, RNR, 5 Tennyson Terrace, youngest son of Frederick and Annie, 25 Reed Street.

Norris, George Crossley, age 22, deckhand, RNR, born Aberdeen, 15 Hudson Street, husband of Lily (nee Davison), remarried in1917 to Ernest Guilery.

Sadler, Robert Henry, age 29, trimmer, RNR, 18 Wellington Place, South Shields, son of John Henry and Anne, 36 Heugh Street, South Shields.

Key –

KIA: killed in action; DOW: died of wounds; LAS: lost at sea; NF: Northumberland Fusiliers; DLI: Durham Light Infantry; RND: Royal Naval Division; RNR – Royal Naval Reserve; RFA: Royal Field Artillery.

Anyone with information on this week’s list or who wants to find out more about the project, should visit www.tynemouth

worldwarone.org, email contact@tynemouth

worldwarone.org or write to Tynemouth World War 1 Commemoration Project, c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields, NE30 1AR.