Gallipoli

#1
This is an extract of letter from a guy who served in second attack on Gallipoli.
There are very few of us left now, only 50 Maoris returned, and out of one New Zealand regiment only 15 remained. The Gurkhas are nearly wiped out, and in fact, it is the end of the 1st and 2nd division of Australians and New Zealand forces, and of the 13th division of English. The boys took hill 971 on the Monday, but at what cost. This hill commands the forts on the Narrows and Maidos. The taking of it will probably open the Narrows in a short time, and as we can cut off supplies to Cape Helles from here, Achi Baba must surrender. We have the flag which is to fly over Constantinople ready.

You must excuse spelling as I am out of practise and becoming forgetful. I have received no letters from you since June, but I suppose I will get a batch at once, as the mails are very irregular. I can't go out visiting as the sisters have taken our clothes, though the streets of Helliopolis are crowded with truant cripples in gaudy pyjamas. Hope I am home for Christmas; its 12 months since I enlisted."
Note the losses.
Note the attitude - no condemnation, no blaming the bosses, We don't know his background but he has described things well.
All this within 12 months of enlistment. What has changed - the people who make up today's society, the training - what. Guys like this made significant contributions to our society - now being destroyed by mealy-mouthed politicos looking for the short term glory in a 'multi-national' (i.e. mongrel) society.
 
#2
Good post that. I don't know much about the Dardanelles campaign but I saw the film Gallipoli and think it is probably fairly close to the mark.

You raise an interesting question though. Would the blokes who fought in WW1 have been as keen to lay down their lives if someone like Tony Blair had uttered the call to arms? There must have been considerably more support and respect of the Statesmen.
 
#3
I think the change is mainly 1 of society.

even had this bloke not been fighting a war, chances are his job would have been one of hard grafft on a farm or down a mine. it would be a lot harder to take sombody out of a call-centre and expect him to stand up to the physical punishment these guys took.

as for the attitude- I think people back then accepted their lot and got on with it, like I said, things would hardly have been rosey back home. also there is the fact then that you are fighting in a justified war, which you can attribute to succesful propoganda if you like.

also, I think back then there was still a sense of community and patriotism, somthing that the country, and commonwealth, has lost since the end of world war 2.
 
#4
I agree. Patriotism is non existant. How many so called "British" subjects are floating about with no allegience what so ever to Britain as a Nation. Except perhaps on Giro day. I consider myself fortunate to be in the Army where there still is a sense of communuity and nationalist identity of a kind.

Going off on a tangent to original post now. Sorry.
 
#5
Or perhaps he was utterly shell-shocked?
 
#6
PartTimePongo said:
Or perhaps he was utterly shell-shocked?
In that case, they'd have had him shot at dawn for something or other. Although, were he an officer he would have been sent to a nice rest house to write poetry about the hell of war.
 
#7
Redcap, can we put this crap to bed.

3080 death sentences were awarded by GCMs during the Kaisers war, of which 346 were carried out. Five of those sentences were against officers and three were executed. The men executed had been found guilty of the following offences,

Murder 37
Mutiny 3
Cowardice 18
Desertion 266
Violence to a superior 6
Disobediance to a lawful command 5
Sleeping at post 2
Quitting a post without authority 7
Casting away arms 2

Contrary to myth 'Shellshock' was an accepted defence at a Court Martial providing it was supported by Doctors.

The figures suggest that one stood more chance of not being executed if a chap was not commissioned.

As for the chaps sent to a rest home to write poetry, both Sassoon and Owen held MCs. Both were wounded in action.

Might I suggest you read 'Mud, Blood and Poppycock' by Gordon Corrigan (from where these figures were taken) and The Forgotten Victory by Gary Sheffield. Honest books by honest men not myths perpetrated by members of the acting or literary professions.
 
#8
mushroom said:
Redcap, can we put this crap to bed.

3080 death sentences were awarded by GCMs during the Kaisers war, of which 346 were carried out. Five of those sentences were against officers and three were executed. The men executed had been found guilty of the following offences,

Murder 37
Mutiny 3
Cowardice 18
Desertion 266
Violence to a superior 6
Disobediance to a lawful command 5
Sleeping at post 2
Quitting a post without authority 7
Casting away arms 2

Contrary to myth 'Shellshock' was an accepted defence at a Court Martial providing it was supported by Doctors.

The figures suggest that one stood more chance of not being executed if a chap was not commissioned.

As for the chaps sent to a rest home to write poetry, both Sassoon and Owen held MCs. Both were wounded in action.

Might I suggest you read 'Mud, Blood and Poppycock' by Gordon Corrigan (from where these figures were taken) and The Forgotten Victory by Gary Sheffield. Honest books by honest men not myths perpetrated by members of the acting or literary professions.
Or try Blindfold and Alone by cathryn corns and john hughes wilson, intresting perspective, certainly gives a few new angles on the case of Sub Lt.Dyett RND.
 
#9
I have read Mud Blood etc. I have also read Shot at Dawn. This gives examples where men were clearly psychiatric cases but doctors did not confirm this.
 
#10
I have been to Gallipoli. Our Regt lost far too many good men there. To walk from the beaches up into the hills and to spend a moment in silence at the Cemeteries made it a very moving and inspiring visit. The land has a presence and a soul, Gallipoli had far more effect on me than the Somme.

I think in an era where we are all individuals and the collective is secondary, it is not surprising that few are prepared to do anything. Human Rights may well achieve what the Kaiser and Hitler failed to, destroy Albion.
 
#12
I only know about Dyett from reading MB&P so I can't really say much on that matter. The DLI Sgt who was executed I know more about, and I'm firmly with the CM on his case. 'The officer sent me off to get help' and 'I blocked the trench with my rifle to stop the Germans following me' are not statements that have the ring of truth to them.

Set in the context of the times the punishments carried out were not excessive and there is little contemporary complaint, though much sympathy that there but for the grace of God etc. The whole thing has become an issue because some people many years after the events have choosen to write books and plays applying the standards of a differant time. Most of those authors have little concept of life in the military today, never mind the world and army of which they write.

Redcaps point was that Officers would get a nice comfy billet whilst the lads would be shot. My point is that the figures do not bear out his assertion. I could add the cheapshot that since when has the RMP ever bothered to check the evidence, but that would be both unkind and untrue.
 
#13
OldRedCap said:
I have read Mud Blood etc. I have also read Shot at Dawn. This gives examples where men were clearly psychiatric cases but doctors did not confirm this.
I fully agree with Mushrooms post, IMHO Shot at Dawn leaves certain facts out of many of the case's and has some glaring errors, especially in the case of Sub Lt Dyett.
 

BuggerAll

LE
Kit Reviewer
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#14
I went on the 2 Med Bde Battlefield Tour in Nov 03. Very interesting. Vey moving. The Turks are quite onside. This is what thier President said in 1934:

"Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives...! You are now lying in the soul of a friendly country, therefore rest in peace. There is no differences between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours...
You, the mothers who sent their sons from far away countries wipe away your tears. Your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having
lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well."

ATATURK, (1934).

Its quoted on a lot of memorials that they have put up. I recomend going!

Where they a different breed? I don't know, but its certainly true that by the 39 - 45 War we were not prepared to do what had been done on 20+ years before.
 
#15
Mushroom
I could add the cheapshot that since when has the RMP ever bothered to check the evidence, but that would be both unkind and untrue.
I can live with cheap shot. Generalisations are quite frequently wrong. My fault really - I got misled into off topic re punishment of the few when I wanted to mark the gallantry and spirit of the majority.
Respect!
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#16
sknn said:
Where they a different breed? I don't know, but its certainly true that by the 39 - 45 War we were not prepared to do what had been done on 20+ years before.
Testicles. As it happens I've just done a battlefield tour of Op Veritable (Feb-Mar 1945) during which the Brit/Canadian casualty rates hit 500 per day.

And to bring it even more up to date, look at the casualty rate for B Coy, 3 Para at Longdon in 1982: more than 50% IIRC.
 
#17
It's interesting to note that whenever Gallipoli is mentioned everyone automatically thinks of the aussies, this is of course the place where they became know as diggers , and yet british losses were 119,696 compared to the aussies 7,594. Yet we seem to only think in the UK of France and Flanders.
 
#18
Shurely shome mishtake? Aussies became known as diggers in the gold rushes of the nineteenth century. The culture of mateship which grew up in the gold fields was replicated in the AIF...there is an interesting Aussie web-site www.diggerz.org, which is a cross between ARRSE and MOD Oracle! Delightfully informal and colonial...
 
#19
Shurely shome mishtake? Aussies became known as diggers in the gold rushes of the nineteenth century. The culture of mateship which grew up in the gold fields was replicated in the AIF...there is an interesting Aussie web-site www.diggerz.org, which is a cross between ARRSE and MOD Oracle! Delightfully informal and colonial...
 
#20
Some way back in the thread is objection to what was taken as suggestion that officers fared better than soldiers when tried for serious offences. There are, possible, good reasons for this. The quote below shows just what conditions were like and the pressures they brought. Readers must decide for themselves whether this officer was treated differently to the ordinary trench-dwellers.
Peter Day

They came from far and wide to the little southern English churchyard to pay a final tribute to the gallant old soldier, a proud survivor of both the Boer War and World War One, who had tragically fallen victim to an asthma attack at the age of just 66. The obituary in the local weekly newspaper spoke movingly of ‘an officer and a sportsman’ who liked a hand of whist, a gentle game of billiards, and the contemplative pleasures of rod and line in a trout stream.



Lt Col AE Mainwaring, the obituary writer reported, possessed a large and devoted circle of friends of all ranks in social life. In fact, his striking personality invariably attached to him those with whom he worked or played.



The mourners included a brigadier-general, four colonels, a lieutenant colonel, a major and an army captain as well as a large gathering of family, friends and representatives of the local football and cricket clubs, of which Lt Col Mainwaring was vice-president.



What nobody mentioned – either at the funeral service or in the fulsome obituary that appeared in the Sussex Express of Friday, October 17, 1930 – was that this former commanding officer of the Second Royal Dublin Fusiliers had been accused of cowardice on the Western Front and subsequently court-martialled.



So too, as everybody with a passing interest in the Great War now knows, were more than 346 ordinary soldiers, including 26 Irishmen –variously accused of cowardice, desertion of duty or simply disobedience during the four years of hell in the trenches.



Men like 20-year-old Royal Irish Rifles James Templeton from Belfast, convicted of running away from the front on February 10, 1916, because his court martial records state, even though he did not fully realise the gravity of what he had done, it was important to provide ‘a deterrent to other men’.



But, whereas rank-and-file soldiers like Templeton met just one inevitable fate – blindfolded. Tied to a post and shot dead at dawn by a firing squad drawn from among their former brothers-in-arms it has now emerged that officer like Mainwaring met a very different form of justice.



Despite being found guilty of the ultimate betrayal of King and country – surrender in the face of the enemy – Mainwaring was cleared of cowardice. Instead he was convicted of the lesser charge of scandalous conduct.



Cashiered out of the army in disgrace, he was however allowed to quietly rebuild his life and – unlike those rank and file Irish soldiers who had been convicted in similar circumstance – ultimately to live it out in pleasant if uneventful retirement.



In all, at least 15 officers were spared in this fashion. Some even received a Royal pardon and were reinstated with full military honours.



Now the Shot at Dawn campaign, which is seeking posthumous pardons for all those soldiers executed, has highlighted the markedly different treatment meted out to officers like Lt Col Mainwaring as part of its ongoing campaign.



‘It was a question of different spanks for different ranks,’ said Dubliner Peter Mulvany, co-ordinator of the Irish Shot at Dawn campaign. Only three officers were executed, one of them for murder. This has been kept quiet for obvious reasons.



‘Irish rank-and-file soldiers, it appears, were particularly at risk. Historian Professor Gerard Oram says the attitude of British officers towards Irish volunteers was that they were ‘a warrior tribe that needed a firm hand to prevent ill-discipline’.



Ironically, Lt Col Mainwaring – who, although born in India, always regarded himself as an Irishman – met his downfall because he took a more compassionate attitude to the men of the Dublin tenements whom he commanded and who singularly failed to live up to their regimental nickname, ‘The Old Toughs’.



An officer and a gentleman of the old school, Mainwaring came from an impeccable military background. His father William was a general who had commanded the Fusiliers before him and who saw service in the Indian Mutiny and Afghanistan. Arthur had been with the Fusiliers since 1885, been decorated in the Boer War and written a history of the regiment.



He also wrote on whist, croquet and billiards, in which he had been a runner up in the Irish amateur championship, and regularly played cricket for the MCC during his summer leave.



But on the morning of August 25, 1914, after four nights without sleep, his ears ringing with the sound of German shells, deprived of the certainty of orders issued from above because his superiors had long since disappeared, Lt Col Mainwaring was at his wits’ end.



The Fusiliers were among the first British regiments dispatched to France in the early days of this war which everybody believed would be ‘over by Christmas’. Their mission as part of the British Expeditionary Force: to help protect France from the German troops who had already over-run Belgium.



The Battle of Mons, which started on August 22, was the first engagement between German and British troops in that part of Northern France that was subsequently to become notorious as the Western Front.



But in these early days of the war that was supposed to end all wars there were no trenches, no ‘no man’s land’, no barbed wire, no fortified positions. The first clashes were between cavalry troops and only later did British infantry take up defensive positions along the Mons canal.



But they were hopelessly outnumbered and ill-equipped: 70,000 troops facing 160,000 and 300 heavy guns against the Germans 600. Within days the BEF had suffered almost 10,000 casualties and was in ‘strategic retreat’ – throwing away their weapons as they ran.



On August 27, the remnants of the Dublin Fusiliers arrived in the dusty little French railway town of St Quentin, where there were no trains to take the men away from the advancing enemy.



The surviving soldiers – ill-educated, poorly trained volunteers from the Dublin slums who had only joined up because they thought the Army offered them decent pay and excitement – flatly refused to march another step.



These bone-weary men, having fought and marched for 48 hours without respite or sleep, were now more dead than alive.



In fact, it has now emerged, so ill-prepared were they and their commanding officer for combat that one senior officer had actually tried to prevent Mainwaring even going to the Front.



In 1913 Brigadier Aylmer Haldane complained that Mainwaring’s men were poor shots who were prone to drunkenness and indiscipline. The officers were ‘very stupid at grasping an order, no matter how clearly given.’



When Mainwaring went down with colitis, Haldane tried to get him removed from his command but was overruled by doctors. And so the ‘Old Toughs’ found themselves thrust into the front line – and, equally quickly, in ignominious retreat. Nothing in the long and distinguished military career of their 50-year-old commanding officer had prepared him for the unimaginable horror of the retreat from Mons – or the fate that awaited him and his troops in St Quentin.



Had he been made of sterner stuff he would have threatened them with the firing squad. Maybe even executed a few then and there for refusing to obey his orders.



Instead Lt Col Mainwaring and the commanding officer of the Fist Royal Warwicks, Lt Col John Elkington, gave in to the hysterical entreaties of the local mayor and signed a piece of paper agreeing to surrender rather than see the citizens massacred in a German artillery bombardment.



After the court martial Mainwaring wrote a lengthy justification of his actions which he circulated privately among his friends. It described how he and Elkington, who had the future Field Marshal Montgomery among his junior officers, had marched in to face their first action on August 24, with the army already in retreat.



As they dug in the next day, they came under heavy shellfire. They were last to retreat, under cover of darkness. Without rations, they went through the same ordeal the following day.



In the midst of the battle Mainwaring received the last order he would get. ‘The general says he wishes you to hold on here to the end. This is a personal message from him to the regiment.’



By early evening everyone else had pulled out and Mainwaring wrote: ‘The behaviour of our men had been splendid throughout. They were so dog tired that many of them slept through the infernal fire, as one could here them snoring.’ It was then he discovered that HQ had been abandoned and he determined on another night retreat, hoping to catch up with them. He allowed his men a couple of hours sleep but dared not nod off himself as there was no one to wake him.



Early next morning he found himself in St Quentin, negotiating with the mayor for food and transport for his men, when panic broke out as a messenger claimed the town was surrounded.



He and Elkington agreed that they could not endanger the safety of the townspeople and tried to get their men on their feet to march on. ‘The men could do no more. Their limit of endurance was reached. I considered it my duty to protect these men, who so nobly had done theirs. I still consider that it was so, and my conscience is quite clear.’ Mainwaring wrote and told them I was going to take them back to their regiment.



Late that evening four hundred men marched out. The exhausted Mainwaring marched at their head despite collapsing twice.



The incident was the inspiration for Sir Henry Newbolt’s poem: The Toy Band: A Song of the Great Retreat. But for Mainwaring it was a march filled with foreboding. The cavalry officers had insisted that the mayor hand over his surrender letter to them and that could only mean a court martial.



No official record of the hearing survives but one dragoon officer claimed that a firing squad was already drawn up when the court decided the officers had suffered mental breakdowns, under stress, and dismissed the charge of cowardice.



Elkington, was to redeem himself a year later, fighting at Vimy Ridge with the French Foreign Legion, knocking out enemy machine gun posts until his leg was shattered by gunfire.



He was awarded the Croix de Guerre and in 1916 King George V reinstated him to his old rank in the Warwicks, granting him pension rights since he was unfit to fight again. Mainwaring lived out retirement quietly in Sussex in southern England, serving on village sports organisation and enjoying a reputation as raconteur and card player.



He and Elkington’s names are among those of 6,500 court martialled officers in the records of the Judge Advocates General of the British Army.



Dr Gerard Oram of the Centre for First World War Studies, Birmingham and his colleague Julian Putkowski are in the process of analysing them for a forthcoming book. Dr Oram told Ireland on Sunday: ‘We have been doing comparisons with the treatment of men from the ranks and there are instances where officers were treated leniently. Some who were dealt with quite harshly’.



‘The treatment of officers was different, because the Army Act made it different. They were tried by different rules and there were different punishments.’



Mr Mulvany said, ‘I find it very difficult to believe that in these circumstances Mainwaring and Elkington were found not guilty of cowardice. The authorities must have known that other troops were suffering from fatigue or shell shock but the defence of stress was never available to them. The fact is that there was retrospective action in cases like Lt Col Elkington wither through royal pardon or reinstatement, which was denied to those who were executed. That was not made clear when the cases were reviewed recently by the British Government. It makes the case all the stronger for a full pardon even at this late stage for those executed. With the anniversary of World War I coming up, this issue should be laid to rest once and for all with posthumous pardons for everybody.
 

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