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Blizzard at Gallipoli.


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#26 Martin G

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 02:44 PM

86th Bde War Diary during the days of the Blizzard is remarkably similar to the 1st Bn Lancashire Fusilier War Diary. In many parts they are identical so presumably one was copied from the other.


25thNov 1915. Quiet night. Officers patrol sent out during the night provided R Munster Fusiliers and bombed a working party of Turks and a snipers post. Enemy's artillery rather more active during the day. Weather very mild. N E wind. Dull. Warm


26thNov 1915. Quiet night.

1400: C.O.'s Conference at Brigade Headquarters after which the Brigadier took the Commanding Officers round the second line, orders being issued to them that during Saturday and Sunday all the Offiecrs in their Battalions should also visit the second line.

1900: Very severe thunderstorm, with very strong gale and torrents of rain began.

2000: All telephone communication with Battalions cut off. Brigade Headquarters dugouts flooded out

2100:Orderly arrived from the Royal Fusiliers with a message from Major Cripps Commanding 2nd Royal Fusiliers stating that all the trenches were full of water and were falling in; that the water had come into the trenches asthough it had been a tidal wave; that many men must have been drowned and that few had been able to save their rifles or equipment. The men were then standing up to their knees in water behind the parados of the trenches. Later officers arrived bringing messages from their Commanding Officers, from the R Munster Fusiliers and 3rd London Regt, all giving the same story. Orders were issued to all Battalions to do their best to dig their men in behind the parados and that the line of trenches was to be held at all cost. The 2/3rdLondon Regt who had evacuated their trenches and retired to higher ground behind, were ordered at once to re-occupy the trench line. Report as above sentto 29th Division

27thNov 1915. Soon after midnight last night telephone communication was obtained with the 2nd Royal Fusiliers and about an hour later with the [1st] Lancashire Fusiliers. Reports came in continually as to the very bad conditions of the trenches and men, the cold being very intense and the heavy rains and wind continuing.

By daylight the men who were capable of work had thrown up for themselves in most cases sufficient cover to protect them from shrapnel fire. The water had subsided in the trenches to an average depth of about 4 feet. A few rifles, a few overcoats and a certain amount of ammunition were recovered. Great difficulty was found in bringing up rations for the men but eventually bully beef, biscuits and a little rum wasissued.

The conditions during the day were extremely trying. Men were huddled together in shallow trenches dug behind the parados during the night with any implement they could lay their hands on , nearly all without overcoats. Anyone who walked about ran a great risk of being shot, in fact, during the day casualties were fairly heavy from the enemy's snipers, including 4 Officers killed. And 2 wounded. A great deal of shrapnel was fired during the day, chiefly at parties of men who were given permission to leave the trenches, all in various stages of exhaustion to go to ambulances. Of these there is no doubt that a great number failed to reach the Ambulances and died from exhaustion on the way. A cold N E wind blew all day through with a little rain and sleet at intervals, and it is feared that a great number of men died from exposure.

It is interesting to note that on the night of the 26th when the flood int he trenches came with such suddenness one pony, a mule, a pig and 2 dead Turks were swept over the barricade together. Towards evening the weather which hadbeen steadily getting worse, developed into a snow blizzard, with intense cold and men were still struggling down to the trenches in large quantities.

28thNov 1915.

0200. The blizzard continued all through the night and the condition of the men was so deplorable owing to the weather that the Brigadier issued an order at 0200 to battalions that all men who not capable offiring a rifle were to be at once sent back to Filed Ambulances.

0400. Reports from Commanding Officers as to the condition of the men remaining were so serious that the GOC Division gave permission for all four battalions to be withdrawn into reserve nullahs but that "Dublin Castle" was to be held and that Posts near Saps 1 and 2 and in the vicinity of C.52 were to be held [see map below] This order was issued to all Battalions and in the early hours of the morning a continuous stream of men, mostly in a very deplorable condition from exposure was seen for some hours coming back to the reserve nullahs. It was very fortunate that during this time the blizzard became even heavier and hid these movements of troops from the enemy; consequently there was no shelling. As soon as Battalions were sorted out to their respective bivouacs carts with corrugated iron, tarpaulin, brazier fuel, medical comforts and clothing were issued to battalions. All through the day large numbers of stretchers were going backwards and forwards from the nullahs to the ambulances carrying men suffering from exposure and frozen feet.

The weather during the day continued to be very cold, with a hard frost and bitter wind, but there was no more snow. The 3 posts mentioned above were relieved during the evening by officers and men in the Brigade who were found fit to do so. All through the day Officers and men who had done their best to stick it out were forced to go to hospital, the strength of the Bde having now fallen from 97 Officers and 2791 other ranks to 69 Officers and 976 other ranks. During the day the men who were left with the battalions were all entirely re-clothed and it is hoped that a large number may recover from this very severe experience. The water in the trenches had fallen a great deal during the day, leaving thick slushy mud of an average depth of about 2 ½ feet.

The 88thBde was ordered to relieve the posts still being held by the 86thBde in the trenches and were ordered to increase them to a total of 200 men in the front line and with two posts in rear. During the night small parties from each Battalion were sent to the trenches to commence recovering rifles and equipment. Every available man from the Bde was turned on to improve communication trenches to the firing line. This work was very difficult and very arduous owing to the deep mud a owing to a great many trenches having completely fallen in. A large number of trench boots had been issued on the previous day enabling men to work without the risk of getting frozen feet. Small drafts arrived during the day for the 2nd Royal Fusiliers and the 1stLancashire Fusiliers. Parties from [illegible?] Battalions were up in the trenches continually night and day collecting rifles and equipment and burying the dead. Weather improved a great deal during the day, with a cold wind but with a warmer sun. 28/12/15

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#27 Martin G

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Posted 10 December 2011 - 04:26 PM

...And from the 2/1st Bn City of London Regt (Royal Fusiliers) War Diary:


Essex Ravine 27th Nov 15. 5 pm. Terrific thunderstorm from 6 to 10 pm last night - dug-outs all flooded, men homeless and miserable. All kit and equipment wet through. No amount of draining could done much to alleviate the position. Weather suddenly turned extremely cold and added an additional difficulty to the position. Move of X Coy to Reserve Line cancelled as trench a ??ing torrent. Sent out digging parties all day to try and drain off some of the water. rain continued throughout the day and night. Many complaints about bad feet. Visit to 2nd Line cancelled.

Essex Ravine 28th Nov 15. Brighter during the day but keen frost - many cases of frost bite. Digging parties formed/found? for Communication Trenches and a good deal of valuable drainage done. Dugouts still uninhabitable. Men keeping cheerful under the very trying circumstances. A little more winter clothing received issued. If such clothing had been available some weeks ago a great deal of suffering and sickness could have been obviated.

Essex Ravine 29th Nov 15: More frost overnight and today clear and frosty. Total sick to hospital - 487 - less discharged 92 *, net total 395, one man of these died in Hospital of dysentery, leaving balance of 394 in hospital.

Essex Ravine 30th Nov 15: More frost. Parties engaged all day in draining Communication trenches. Many cases of frostbite. Much shelling of dugouts today - 3 men killed, 6 wounded,. Total casualties to date

Killed and died of wounds....22
Wounded.................................57

Hospital.................................445

Total........................................524

* Note this suggests that 19% of hospital cases from exposure returned - roughly 1 in 5.

#28 bob lembke

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 01:28 AM

My father was at Gallipoli in 1915 (but with the Turks), but I had taken down very little oral history from him on Gallipoli, and I don't think that he ever mentioned the weather, aside from it being hot earlier on. Being German Pioniere (combat engineers), and being a bit back from the front line, we can imagine that they probably made themselves good accomodations, with good drainage.

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#29 ShirlD

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Posted 12 December 2011 - 04:57 AM

And from the War Diary 6th East Lancashire Regiment

In Fire Trenches. On November 13 the Battalion moved to the trenches, which were improved and new B 52 commenced. Patrols went out nightly and on Nov 19 the new B 52 was taken over. The trenches were shelled daily. On the 21st our patrol bombed a Turkish patrol, which immediately retired. From the 23 to the 25 our trenches were shelled heavily each day about 4.30 pm, but our casualties were very slight. At about 5.30 pm on Nov 26 a very heavy rain began which flooded the whole length of the trenches, in some bays the water being well over the fire-step. This was followed on the night of the 27 by a heavy fall of snow. B52 was evacuated and a few men died from exposure. During the night of the 28, we were shelled continuously, but without casualties.

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#30 tjpatti

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 11:49 AM

Hi All

The 5th Dorsets' War Diary records for the 28th November 1915: "Severe storm. Battn moved to West Beach & took Shelter under A.S.C. boxes covered with tarpaulins. A good many cases of frostbitten feet." (Men of few words, those Dorsets!)

It also records on 7th December: "
Inspection by G.O.C. Div. after which he criticised behaviour of Battn, in Storm pretty strongly. G.O.C. Bde. addressed officers on same subject."

The Official History of the Dorsetshire Regiment tells us that the 34th Brigade, which included the Dorsets, were on the exposed seaward side of Karakol Dagh with absolutely nothing to shelter them from the appalling weather conditions. A subaltern, realising that the plight of the men could not be worse, told those around him to scramble over to the more sheltered southern slopes of the ridge. Once the movement had started, it increased in momentum until nearly all the Brigade were on the southern side and many men wandered down to the beach where they took refuge in makeshift shelters made from ASC ration boxes and tarpaulin. There had been no order from Battalion HQ instructing the 5th Dorsets to move from their original position which is why, I presume, G.O.C. Div. gave them a rollicking.

I believe the G.O.C of the 11th Division at this time was Major General Fanshawe. My question is this: where would he have been whilst the storm and blizzard raged over the peninsula? Imbros?

Kind regards

Teresa





#31 michaeldr

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 12:34 PM

My question is this: where would he have been whilst the storm and blizzard raged over the peninsula? Imbros?


Teresa,

Where Fanshawe was specifically at he time of the storm I cannot say, however his Divisional HQ was certainly situated on the peninsula. At the time of the evacuation he was one of the very last to leave Suvla.

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#32 Martin G

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 06:40 PM

Once the movement had started, it increased in momentum until nearly all the Brigade were on the southern side and many men wandered down to the beach where they took refuge in makeshift shelters made from ASC ration boxes and tarpaulin. There had been no order from Battalion HQ instructing the 5th Dorsets to move from their original position which is why, I presume, G.O.C. Div. gave them a rollicking. I believe the G.O.C of the 11th Division at this time was Major General Fanshawe. My question is this: where would he have been whilst the storm and blizzard raged over the peninsula? Imbros? Kind regards Teresa


Teresa - here is a photo of some of those men sheltering among the Huntley and Palmers....http://www.keepmilit...thdrawal.php%3F

Div HQ would definitely have been on the peninsula. The 11th Div HQ War Diary and the HQ 11th Div ADMS War Diary both indicate 11th Div HQ was at Karakol Dagh, which is about as exposed as one could be. Doubtless the HQ was a bit more comfortable than the Bde and Bn posts but I would imagine that everyone had a brutal time. The main difference between 11th Div and 29th Div is that the 29th Div men down in the plain near Dublin Castle also had to contend with the flooding. From my research so far, I think the 2nd Bn Royal Fusiliers seem to have had the very worst of it, having to wade through the freezing water, something that the poor men on the ridge would not have necessarily had to deal with.

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#33 tjpatti

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 05:03 PM

It's a great photo, isn't it?

Right, I have carefully re-read the Official History: "Meanwhile no news of the movement [to the southern slopes of the ridge] had reached the Commanding Officer, whose shelter was among the very few that had survived (this was because the order was generally believed to have been given by the Commanding Officer). It was not until day broke that the true state of affairs was discovered, that only a couple of officers and about eighty men, nearly all badly frost-bitten and many in a state of collapse, were left on the ridge. [SDGW shows that 3 Dorsets died of exposure.] Men were set to work to rub each other's frozen limbs, a Primus stove belonging to the Commanding Officer was pressed into service and the hot drinks it provided undoubtedly saved several lives. About 7 a.m. a subaltern arrived from the beach and reported the whereabouts of the main body, whereupon the Commanding Officer proceeded beach-wards to rejoin it, leaving Captain Gregory and the few men capable of any exertions to hack out rifles and ammunition from the frozen mud and ice. It was a pick axe job and not easy ... and the party were not sorry to receive orders before long to make their way down to the beach and rejoin the rest of the Battalion."

So the GOC suffered the same privations as the ordinary men. I still bristle that he saw fit to give them a rollicking afterwards.

The Official History goes on to confirm what you say, Martin: "If the Dorsets on the seaward side of Karakol Dagh had been in the most exposed positions of anyone they had at least escaped one experience of the battalions in the lower lying ground, where the water, rushing from the high ground, filled trenches and dugouts, actually drowning several men."

Kind regards

Teresa

#34 michaeldr

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 06:06 PM

The Official History of the Dorsetshire Regiment tells us that the 34th Brigade, which included the Dorsets, were on the exposed seaward side of Karakol Dagh with absolutely nothing to shelter them from the appalling weather conditions.


Teresa,

I've found a map, but I cannot be sure of its date. I am guessing however, that the Divisional HQ didn't move about too much. That being so, and if Maj Gen Fanshawe was at his Div HQ at the time of the storm, then he would have been exposed to the same weather conditions as his men.

Posted Image

below is an enlarged section

Posted Image


regards
Michael

#35 Martin G

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 10:15 PM

It's a great photo, isn't it?

Right, I have carefully re-read the Official History: "Meanwhile no news of the movement [to the southern slopes of the ridge] had reached the Commanding Officer, whose shelter was among the very few that had survived (this was because the order was generally believed to have been given by the Commanding Officer). It was not until day broke that the true state of affairs was discovered, that only a couple of officers and about eighty men, nearly all badly frost-bitten and many in a state of collapse, were left on the ridge. [SDGW shows that 3 Dorsets died of exposure.] Men were set to work to rub each other's frozen limbs, a Primus stove belonging to the Commanding Officer was pressed into service and the hot drinks it provided undoubtedly saved several lives. About 7 a.m. a subaltern arrived from the beach and reported the whereabouts of the main body, whereupon the Commanding Officer proceeded beach-wards to rejoin it, leaving Captain Gregory and the few men capable of any exertions to hack out rifles and ammunition from the frozen mud and ice. It was a pick axe job and not easy ... and the party were not sorry to receive orders before long to make their way down to the beach and rejoin the rest of the Battalion."

So the GOC suffered the same privations as the ordinary men. I still bristle that he saw fit to give them a rollicking afterwards.

The Official History goes on to confirm what you say, Martin: "If the Dorsets on the seaward side of Karakol Dagh had been in the most exposed positions of anyone they had at least escaped one experience of the battalions in the lower lying ground, where the water, rushing from the high ground, filled trenches and dugouts, actually drowning several men."

Kind regards

Teresa


Teresa.... The 'GOC' who dished out the reprimand was the GOC 11th Div.... so 2 more levels above the CO mentioned above. I note that the GOC Bde also added some for measure. It seems the CO of the Bn was unaware until the morning that most of his Bn had deserted their posts. A court martial offence, but rather difficult to carry out on such a large body of men in such horrendous conditions.

Separately, the 5th Bn Dorset Regt did have some flooding, but one imagines that on the slopes it would have drained away rather faster than in the plain. Nothing that I have seen so far is quite as brutal as the 2nd Royal Fusiliers' account having to swim through freezing water. The whole 34th Bde story recorded in the surviving War Diaries follows:

5th Bn Dorset Regt War Diary -


26th Nov 15: Dugouts flooded by a rainstorm.

27th Nov 15: Very cold wind blowing

28th Nov 15: Severe storm. Bn moved to WEST BEACH and took shelter under ASC boxes covered with tarpaulins. A good many cases of frost bitten feet.

29th Nov 15: 3 OR Died of exposure during the night

30th Nov 15: 2 Lts W A HOLLAN, D PRINGLE, J S HOMAN and 130 OR admitted to hospital through the effects of storm.

1st Dec 15: Battn still in temporary shelter of ration boxes at ASC Depot on West Beach. The greater percentage ar suffering from frostbite and trench foot. Most have been evacuated who were unable to walk

2nd Dec 15: Battn moved to Anson Lines on West Beach , very damp the trenches have only just been drained or partially so, previously they had stood full of water for some time.

3rd - 6th Dec 15: Fatigues day and night for MLO. Nothing else to report

7th Dec 15: Inspection by GOC Div after which he criticised behaviour of Battn in storm pretty strongly. GOC Bde addressed officers on same subject.




8th Bn Northumberland Fusliers War Diary:



21st-30th Nov 15: On night of 27th very heavy rain storm follwoed by 2 days of blizzard. Much frost bite among troops.



11th Bn Manchester Regt War Diary:


26th Nov 15: Violent thunderstorm, gale rain and hail. The whole Bn soaked to the skin , dugouts flooded or washed down the cliff

27th Nov 15: A bitterly cold and damp. Impossible to dry men or get them warm.

28th Nov 15: Towards night the violence of the gale increased, finally turning to a blizzard. Men dropped with the cold. There was no shelter of any kind from wet or cold and the wind on the ridge was so strong one could not stand. The Bn spent the night standing in their wet clothing which froze on them in any bit of sheter they could find.

29th Nov 15: The blizzard continued and it froze hard. The men suffered immensely. Their clothes , blankets etc were frozen stiff and everything was clothed with frozen mud. About 1 pm got permission for the Bn to leave the ridge and move down to the beach to get cover from the wind at least behind ration boxes. finished this move in the kith? of the storm before dark. The night was miserable and many men dropped with cold and frostbite. About 200 men utterly useless had to be taken to hospital for evacuation.

30th Nov 15: Weather fine but freezing. Most men frostbitten. 23 men missing unaccounted for

1st Dec 15: Still among the ration boxes. Weather clear but freezing. Nights bitterly cold and no real cover. Men still going down with frost bite. 2nd Lt lewis and Lyt& Qr Mr Frazier to hospital for evacuation.

2nd dec 15: Moved from ration boxes to old dugouts above West Beach. Still very cold and many sick men. Total loss to battalion due to storm and frostbite. 2 officers and 231 men evacuated sick and 23 missing.


34th Inf Bde War Diary



26th Nov 15: On night 26/27 heavy storm of rain with thunder and lightning - 2 men of 8th Northumberland Fusiliers and 2 men of 9th Lancs Fusiliers were killed owing to dugouts falling in.

27th Nov 15: Gale and rain squalls all day

28th Nov 15 Night of 27/28 very cold. Gale and rain which turned to snow. Men had to leave their dugouts which were flooded and take shelter where they could

28th Nov 15: Night 28/29 very cold but no more snow. Most of the Bde were collected in the supply depot and sheltered by boxes. Wind went down in afternoon.

30th Nov 15: Day spent in reorganising the Bde. Results of the storm : 2 men of the 11th Manchesters and 1 [sic] of 5th Dorsets died of exposure and 6 Officers and some 667 men evacuated sick - many cases of frost bite.


Effective strength of Bde on Nov 26th: 96 Officers 3,037 Other Ranks
Effective strength of Bde on Nov 30th: 90 Officers 2,283 Other Ranks

[NB Bde casualties: 6 Officers and 754 ORs.....total 760 all ranks....= 24.3% casualties]

1st Dec 15: Day spent in re-organising Bde collecting kit, clothing, equipment, rifles buried in mud and water in flooded dug-outs - drying and thawing blankets and kit - 116 ORs to hospital due to their exposure and frost bite - casualties one killed and 5 wounded from shell-fire on supply Depot

2nd Dec 15: Moved all men of Bde from the Supply Depot into dug outs again which had been drained and fairly dry. All 4 Battns of Bde together on Southern slopes of ridge - units getting straightened out at last and rifles cleaned, ammunition cleaned and up to establishment etc - 59 evacuated to Hospital, mostly result of exposure (42 from Manchesters)

3rd Dec 15: Quiet day - all available men employed on fatigues , beach loading and unloading parties during the night - 3rd line defences improving and completing during day.

4th Dec15: Quiet day, all available men on fatigue.

5th Dec 15: All available men on fatigue - Enemy expended far more shells on the beach than they have for some months - work on the 3rd line defences impeded owing to shelling

6th Dec 15: Maj A L Hadlow ordered to vacate appointment as Bde Maj and take over command of the Newfoundland Battn 88th Bde - Usual fatigues for all available men of Bde. 48 Dorsets evacuated Hospital after effects of storm exposure - Drafts of 670 men arrived for Bde

7th Dec 15: Usual fatigues. Work by day on the right of the 3rd line defences stopped owing to shell fire - units ordered to work by night in this portion.


Note: The War Diary goes on to record that the decision to evacuate this part of the peninsula came 2 days later on 9th Dec....Also the War Diary of the 9th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers is lost - the 4th Bn in the Bde.

Hope this helps put everything in context. I imagine that the 5th Dorsets got a rollicking for leaving their posts without orders. Note the other Bns seemed to have stayed at their posts until ordered. . Regards MG

#36 tjpatti

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 11:09 AM

Oops! Got my COs and my OCs transposed!

Michael - many thanks for posting the map, particularly the enlarged section from which I can see more clearly what was what and who was where. As you say, it looks like GOC had as rough a time of the storm as the ordinary men. I am shortly off to the National Archives where I will look up 11th Division HQ War Diary and see what it has to say.

Martin - thanks for posting the War Diaries of the other regiments in 34th Bde. I am particularly interested in the 11th Manchester's because, it seems to me from my studies, they were a 'sister' regiment to the Dorsets (I don't know if such a pairing up really existed or if I'm just being fanciful).

The Brigade HQ War Diary seems to suggest that they were unaware of, or were prepared to excuse, any disciplinary transgression:

28th Nov 15 Night of 27/28 very cold. Gale and rain which turned to snow. Men had to leave their dugouts which were flooded and take shelter where they could

28th Nov 15: Night 28/29 very cold but no more snow. Most of the Bde were collected in the supply depot and sheltered by boxes. Wind went down in afternoon.

I hadn't thought of the mass migration to find shelter as 'quitting one's post' but, of course, without the official say-so to move, it was exactly that. So, now I understand why the 5th Dorsets got a rollicking and accept that GOC had little alternative but to take that course of action (still think, in the circumstances, it was a bit harsh!).

(P.S. I feel such a duffer - I knew the CO was not GOC so don't know why I went off on that tangent.)

Thank you, Martin and Michael, for the time and trouble you have taken with your replies to my query.

Kind regards

Teresa

#37 michaeldr

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Posted 09 January 2012 - 11:57 AM

Teresa,

No problem; glad to have been of some help
Looking at this map has reminded me that I was walking along Cannon Street in March 2010. Even today it is still a good track, about a cart's width wide; I believe that it was used for the evacuation of wounded and for the bringing forward of stores and water. Such is the steepness of the slope down to the sea that what I took to be passing places were built out from the track using stone work support. Moving about on that slope must have been difficult at the best of times but it certainly cannot have been too easy in rain, sleet and freezing weather.
I agree with Martin that there was very little choice but to issue the reprimand for leaving their posts, especially as others seem to have stood fast. He seems to have taken the exceptional weather conditions into consideration in leaving the matter at that; just a reprimand and nothing more.
The Robins case was only a couple of days later and he, poor fellow, was executed. [Robins was unwell after the storm and refused to go out on patrol on 3rd December]

Regards
Michael

#38 Martin G

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 12:44 PM

This account from the Fife & Forfar Yeomanry is interesting. The Regiment landed with 32 Officers and 617 ORs on 20th Sep 1915 and departed a little over 3 months later with 8 Officers and 107 ORs on Dec 28th [82.3% casualties - mostly through sickness] The Blizzard accounted for 143 men of this unit including one died and in the following week another 221 went to hospital, meaning this regiment lost 56% of its original strength due to the blizzard. The Regiment was based in the lowest part of the Suvla Plain in the vicinity of Azmak Dere which washed out the famous Highland Barricade.



 

" On 26th November we got orders to pack all surplus stores which were dumped, along with officers' valises, ready to be taken off that night by the Sikh muleteers. We parted with great reluctance from our tarpaulins and cart covers which provided the only shelters we had,but that night even they would have been of little use. At five o'clock the downpour started, accompanied by thunder and lightning, such as you only can see in the tropics. Thunder-clap merged into thunder-clap, each one noisier than the last—sheet lightning lit up the sky, north, south, and east at the same time—and the rain came down in torrents. It was a wonderful and awful sight.Trenches and dug-outs were quite uninhabitable and a foot deep in water. Fortunately by this time it was dark, so we climbed out of the trenches and prepared to spend the night on the top, where the water was only lying in places. Then came down the water from the hills. The Azmac Dere came down in spate, washing away the Turkish and the Highland barricades, carrying horses, mules, and men, dead and alive, down with it. Peyton Avenue and South Lane were culs-de-sac and soon filled, and the overflow flooded our trenches. The 2nd Lovat Scouts were completely washed out, and had to retireand dig in down near the beach. By this time the rain had stopped, and by next morning we saw the water subsiding gradually. Fortunately it was a misty morning, and we could wander about on top, though we did have one or two shrapnel bursts over us. We then discovered that our valises and stores were still floating in the water-cart emplacement—the Sikhs having turned tail when the storm broke. It was six weeks later when we opened our valises.
 

We had hoped the relief would have been cancelled, but not so, and at 5 P.M. we started off for the frontline. The Turks evidently anticipated something of the sort, and their rifle fire soon forced us to take to the communication trenches. North Lane was not too bad. There was 18 inches of water, but the bottom was gravelly and the goingnot too bad. Where this trench struck the old support line we found guides awaiting us who took us past Willow Tree Well through the most awful trenches-too narrow for a heavily ladened man, greasy and slippery, and full of holes which took us up to the waist in water. Some idea of the going may be gathered from the fact that the journey of less than two miles took upwards of five hours to accomplish. And then our troubles weren't over. The firebays we found crammed with the infantry we were relieving—a helpless, hopeless mob—and it wasn't till midnight that we had the place to ourselves.
 

A Squadron (Major de Pree) held from the Azmac Dere to Fort Conan, and B Squadron (Major J. Younger) from Fort Conan to the old road leading to Anafarta, C Squadron lying in support. We could only man every second or third bay lightly, and our left flank was in the air—the 159th Brigade on our left, being about 120 yards away. Lovats were in, and to the south of, the Dere.

Movement in the trenches to promote circulation was impossible—one was exhausted long before one felt any life in one's limbs,and to add to our troubles snow fell during the night, and it turned bitterly cold. Next day was even more bitterly cold with snow and rain, and a lot of men had to go down the line sick with trench feet and exhaustion, many of them suffering from jaundice and diarrhœa as well. The area was again very heavily shelled with shrapnel, and we suffered a few casualties. By night time everything was covered with snow, but what really put the lid on was a sudden blizzard about 2 A.M. with ever so many degrees of frost. Everything one had on was of course soaking wet and covered with mud, and this was now frozen stiff by the frost. Most of the rifles were out of action, and even the water in the machine guns froze. However, daylight put new heart in us, and we made good progress in improving the trenches,getting rifles once more in working order, and generally tidying up and making things as comfortable as possible under the circumstances. That night about six or eight Turks crawled up the sunken road on our extreme left flank and caused quite an excitement, but finding the trenches still manned retired hastily.Unfortunately the message that they had retired miscarried, and headquarters stood to impatiently for about an hour.

 

Gradually the weather improved and the sun came out, and we managed to drain off more and more of the water from the communication trenches. But the damage had already been done—the wet followed by the cold and intense frost brought on trench fever in an acute and terrible form. One poor fellow had died of exhaustion and 142 left the Regiment in two days, some few never to recover and others to be maimed for life.

In the week following the storm 7 officers, including Major Younger and Captain Tuke, R.A.M.C., and 221 other ranks were admitted to hospital through sickness. Owing to the washing away of the Highland barricade, three men, bringing water up the AzmacDere, foolishly missed our trenches and wandered into the Turkish lines.

 

By this time our numbers were so reduced that C Squadron was brought up from the support line and divided between A Squadron (Major de Pree) and B Squadron (Captain D.D. Ogilvie). A troop of Lovats and a section of machine gunners were in support to us. Later we were all amalgamated into one squadron under Major de Pree, 8 officers and 103 other ranks, the entire strength of the Regiment, including headquarters, being only 13 officers and 190 other ranks. "

 

 



#39 Martin G

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 02:55 PM

Another account from The New Zealanders at Gallipoli by Maj Fred Waite DSO NZE


" With the advent of cooler weather the daily sick parades became appreciably smaller, but the men of Anzac were to have still another trial oftheir endurance and cheerfulness, for on November 27, the weather turned extremely cold. Next morning- the troops awoke to find everything white with snow. A snowstorm is not a very disagreeable thing provided one has a comfortable home and clean streets.But at Anzac everyone lived in a dugout—clay walls, clay floor, and a clay track up to the door. The mud and slush made all the tracks as sticky as glue. Locomotion became difficult. Supplies ran short. The blizzard was almost the fiercest enemy encountered on the Peninsula. We could fight with, and often outwit, the Turk,but against snow and slush we had very little defence.


The troops were greatly indebted to some enterprising men who anticipated cold weather, and issued a small supply of whale oil with instructions how to apply it to the extremities in case of heavy frosts. This simple precaution prevented a very large number of frost-bite cases, as far as the New Zealand brigades were concerned. In comparison with the other troops we were more or less fortunate, as we occupied the higher ground on the Peninsula,and our trenches drained themselves down the slopes. But to those who had to go uphill to the trenches, the task was almost impossible. The deres which were always used as tracks became miniature rivers of mud, eventually becoming frozen and covered with snow. The troops will long remember the small hours of November 28 as they were rudely awakened by the tarpaulin roofs of theirnever-too-elaborate dug-outs collapsing on top of them with the weight of snow.


The gale made playthings of the light craft in the Cove. Barges and launches broke from their moorings and completed their sphere of usefulnesson the beach. The snow covered hills presented a wonderful sight. Long icicles hung down from the parapets in the trenches. Comparatively few of our men suffered from frost bite, but it was really a very sad and pitiful sight to see long queues of stretcher bearers carrying the suffering men from the lower slopes. The poor fellows caught it very badly, especially towards Suvla Bay, as the trenches became inundated with the rushing -waters. Many of the occupants were drowned. The brigades of the 29th Division held the trenches into which drained the flood waters from the Kiretch Tepe Sirt. They suffered severely.


The Newfoundland contingent, now attached as a battalion to one of these famous brigades, almost revelled in the frost and snow, as might have been expected ! The casualties among the Turks, according to those who surrendered at this period (and there were quite a few) must have been enormous. The most popular place after the blizzard broke out was the ordnance stores, as everyone was in want of extra clothing—and, thank goodness, it wasavailable. It was amusing to see sentries on duty after their experience of the first night. It would have needed a very energetic bullet to penetrate the amount of clothing worn! This is a fair sample:-—Hat, balaclava cap, (two if procurable) waterproof cape, greatcoat, tunic, cardigan jacket, shirt, two singlets, two pairs of underpants, trousers, puttees, two pairs of socks, straw or paper round the feet, and a pair of trench boots ! After each tour of duty a compulsory tot of rum was issued. Fortunately for all concerned perfect weather set in about December 4th .


This blizzard set all thinking. The chief topic of conversation was "How will we fare, supposing the bitter weather holds out for a couple of months?" as nothing in the way of stores or provisions could be landed other than in perfectly fine weather. Units who had sited their homes near the deres carved out neat villas on higher ground. Hospitals evacuated their sick as quickly as possible, and men not employed making high level roads, were busily engaged in making winter dugouts, well beneath Mother Earth—well beneath advisedly, as about this time we were almost daily informed that our airmen were locating concrete emplacements for heavy howitzers. The Turkish prisoners werealso kind enough to say that a large number of heavy guns were being placed in position to blow us into the Mediterranean, which was understood to be very cold in winter."



#40 michaeldr

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 08:33 PM

Martin,

Thanks for those accounts of the blizzard.

To digress slightly, the New Zealanders' last paragraph is of interest, as I had not previously come across the reconnaissance reports of 'concrete emplacements'

"about this time we were almost daily informed that our airmen were locating concrete emplacements for heavy howitzers. The Turkish prisoners were also kind enough to say that a large number of heavy guns were being placed in position to blow us into the Mediterranean, which was understood to be very cold in winter."

Both Marshal Liman and Colonel (later Major General) Kannengiesser mention the arrival of some Central Powers' artillery at this time. Erickson also goes into some details on this matter in his 'Gallipoli – the Ottoman Campaign' and further mentions engineers and 'large quantities of ammunition.'

"Important reinforcements arrived at the Uzunköprü rail terminus from northern Europe on 9 and 10 November. These were a motorized battery of Austrian 240mm mortars and a battery of 150mm howitzers. The heavy mortars went to the Anafarta Group, while the howitzers went to the Southern Group (referred to as Helles by the Allies). They were in action around 20 November and were used to pound Chocolate Hill. The long-expected arrival of heavy artillery from Germany and Austria caused allied morale to plummet immediately. By the end of the month two additional 210mm heavy mortar batteries and six heavy howitzer batteries arrived from Germany. This gave the Turks a total of twenty heavy artillery batteries on the peninsula and, equally important, large quantities of ammunition began to arrive as well. The results were immediate and powerful as Colonel Gressman and the German artillery specialists began to organize Turkish gunners using the latest gunnery techniques from the Western Front. The Germans also sent down several staff officers as technical advisers to assist the Turks on the employment of the newest combat methods in use on the Western Front as well. These officers were also specialists on the latest tactics utilized by the British Army in France. These officers were Colonel von Bercut, Lieutenant Colonel Klemet and Major Klutes and they were followed quickly by engineering specialists. The appearance of German heavy artillery, ammunition and technical specialists on the Gallipoli Peninsula signalled the end of the campaign for the British. With winter fast approaching and the Turks still in possession of the high ground the opportunity to conclude the campaign successfully had passed.”

regards
Michael

#41 Martin G

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 12:06 PM

Trawling through Vol VI of the History of the Royal Engineers I discovered that the temperature during the great blizzard fell to 14oC which equates to -10oC. 



#42 neil black

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 07:20 PM

Hi,

On the night of the 26th Nov is there any info re where1st/4th 1st5th royal scots fusiliers were that night.

Is there there War diaries for the above battalions during the gallipoli campaign and where did they finish up after Gallipoli.

neil



#43 Martin G

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 08:17 AM

Hi,
On the night of the 26th Nov is there any info re where1st/4th 1st5th royal scots fusiliers were that night.
Is there there War diaries for the above battalions during the gallipoli campaign and where did they finish up after Gallipoli.
neil


The 1/4th Bn Royal Scots (Queen's Edinburgh Rifles) TF had formed a composite battalion with the 1/7th Battalion Royal Scots (156th Inf Bde) on 4th November. On 26th they were in the Rest Camp at Helles. By the 28th Nov they were back in the firing line from trench F12 Bomb Station to the junction of Nelson Avenue and Main Street. Helles. War Diary has not been digitised. Ref is WO 95/4321

The 1/5th Bn Royal Scots (Queen's Edinburgh Rifles) TF due to its extremely low numbers (having received very few reinforcement drafts) had been replaced by the Newfoundlanders in the 29th Div's 88th Inf Bde. On 26th they were in a rest camp at Mudros. the War Diary records "Battalion resting awaiting reinforcements. Daily course of instruction carried on and nothing further to report". The War Diary has been digitised and is available online from the National Archives WO 95/4312

References:
1. War Diaries.
2. "The Royal Scots 1914 -1919: Vol I" by Major John Ewing MC.



#44 Martin G

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 08:45 AM

From "The Royal Scots 1914 -1919 Vol I" by Major John Ewing MC. pages 219 -219 a rather colourful description of events .....

 

"The middle of November witnessed the arrival of typical winter conditions. Fortunately the men had been issued with warmer winter garments, particularly leather jerkins and wool-lined leather gloves but it was impossible to erect huts or shelters which alone could give the troops really adequate protection against the elements at night. On the evening of the Royal Scot's successful attack heavy showers ot icy rain fell and before the month passed blizzards of sleet and snow swept across the peninsula. The nullahs became frothy estuaries and the swirling waters flooded the dug-outs and shelters that had been scooped in the banks. The erstwile arid land after a stormy night was scored by torrents leaping down the slopes and forming lakes and lagoons in the hollows of the more level parts. The trenches became canals and the men careless of the sniper balance precariously on the narrow ledge of fire step. One terrible storm lasted from 26th till 28th November and raged with a fury that threatened to destroy every living sould on the peninsula. Rain sleet and snow whipped by a hurricane beat madly on Gallipoli and seemed to pierce a man's body with a thousand needles of ice while tumultuous seas boomed and crashed along the coast smashing the piers and lighters and littering the beaches with wreckage. This violent blizzard showed how insecure was our position. The unloading of stores at the tiny jetties on the beaches was a hazardous business even in moderate seas and would be utterly impossible during stormy weather.

 

The power of human endurance defy calculation. Even though their blood is infected by fever men compelled to live in the open air seem capable of enduring the utmost extremes of climate. The troops after being grilled for weeks by a tropical sun naturally suffered acutely from wintry conditions but invariably contrived to joke  about the discomforts that afflicted them. They had been instructed by the medical staff how to guard against frost-bite. The coming of winter was marked by an abatement of dysentery but many of the men now began to succumb to jaundice which though less deadly was no less unpleasant.

 

The Composite Royal Scots battalion relieved a unit in the front line in the midst of the great storm in November. The march accomplished in the teeth of a binding blizzard of snow was most exhausting yet the men were probably better off struggling painfully up to the front line than shivering impotently in an attempt to woo warmth....."

 

MG



#45 neil black

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 06:30 PM

The 1/4th Bn Royal Scots (Queen's Edinburgh Rifles) TF had formed a composite battalion with the 1/7th Battalion Royal Scots (156th Inf Bde) on 4th November. On 26th they were in the Rest Camp at Helles. By the 28th Nov they were back in the firing line from trench F12 Bomb Station to the junction of Nelson Avenue and Main Street. Helles. War Diary has not been digitised. Ref is WO 95/4321

The 1/5th Bn Royal Scots (Queen's Edinburgh Rifles) TF due to its extremely low numbers (having received very few reinforcement drafts) had been replaced by the Newfoundlanders in the 29th Div's 88th Inf Bde. On 26th they were in a rest camp at Mudros. the War Diary records "Battalion resting awaiting reinforcements. Daily course of instruction carried on and nothing further to report". The War Diary has been digitised and is available online from the National Archives WO 95/4312

References:
1. War Diaries.
2. "The Royal Scots 1914 -1919: Vol I" by Major John Ewing MC.

HI,Martin

National Archives WO 95/4312 is relevent to the Royal scots 1/5th Battalion .Do you know the WO reference for the diaries of the two battalions of the Royal Scots fusiliers 1/4th 1/5th who were in Gallipoli at the same time as the 1/5th Royal Scots.Many thanks for your reply to my query.Neil



#46 Martin G

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 06:47 PM

HI,Martin

National Archives WO 95/4312 is relevent to the Royal scots 1/5th Battalion .Do you know the WO reference for the diaries of the two battalions of the Royal Scots fusiliers 1/4th 1/5th who were in Gallipoli at the same time as the 1/5th Royal Scots.Many thanks for your reply to my query.Neil

Neil - apologies I mis-read Royal Scots Fusiliers as Royal Scots. My mistake and a bad mistake since one of my grandfathers was a RSF (6th bn) and I should have been attuned to this. 

 

The Ref for the 1/4th and 1/5th Bns RSF at Gallipoli is WO 95/4320. It is the same for both. 

 

To find this...

 

1. Go the The National Archives Website....on the right hand side under Quick Links click on "Discovery - our catalogue"

2. Under the green magnifying glass icon in small blue letters is "Advanced search". Click on it.

3. In the Keyword options space in the box marked "exact words or phrase" type in "Royal Scots Fusiliers" and in the date range boxes type from "1915" to "1916" and slightly further down in the "Search within" section make sure the "enter a reference (The National Archive reference)" is active (blue) and immediately below in the first box "Add up to three references" type "WO 95" in the first box and hit the green search button. 

4. This will generate 19 results for Royal Scots Fusiliers battalions....like this scroll down and you will find both. Since they were in the same Brigade their War Diaries are in the same box. 

 

Note that they cannot (yet) be downloaded as they have not been digitised. To view them you need to go to Kew. The RSF History written by Buchan is very poor by the standards of the day. He should have stuck to fiction. 

 

MG



#47 neil black

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 01:09 PM

Neil - apologies I mis-read Royal Scots Fusiliers as Royal Scots. My mistake and a bad mistake since one of my grandfathers was a RSF (6th bn) and I should have been attuned to this. 

 

The Ref for the 1/4th and 1/5th Bns RSF at Gallipoli is WO 95/4320. It is the same for both. 

 

To find this...

 

1. Go the The National Archives Website....on the right hand side under Quick Links click on "Discovery - our catalogue"

2. Under the green magnifying glass icon in small blue letters is "Advanced search". Click on it.

3. In the Keyword options space in the box marked "exact words or phrase" type in "Royal Scots Fusiliers" and in the date range boxes type from "1915" to "1916" and slightly further down in the "Search within" section make sure the "enter a reference (The National Archive reference)" is active (blue) and immediately below in the first box "Add up to three references" type "WO 95" in the first box and hit the green search button. 

4. This will generate 19 results for Royal Scots Fusiliers battalions....like this scroll down and you will find both. Since they were in the same Brigade their War Diaries are in the same box. 

 

Note that they cannot (yet) be downloaded as they have not been digitised. To view them you need to go to Kew. The RSF History written by Buchan is very poor by the standards of the day. He should have stuck to fiction. 

 

MG

Hi Martin.

My Grandfather was with the 12th RSF battalion in Egypt who ended up on the western Front as part of the 31st Division 94th Infantry brigade.He survived the war .I have downloaded the war diaries of their actions from 18th May 1918 to April 1919.The reason I was looking for info about Gallipoli was he oriigonally part of the 1st/4th 1st/5th RSF and did they transfer to Egypt (Gaza) campaign before being transfered to Europe as the 12th Battalion.My earliest memory of him is a photograph of him sitting on his horse fully equipped for action .Perhaps he was in the territorial forces ie the Yoemanry.this was in the 1945/49 when westayed with our Grandparants.I have tried to find his medal card but have had no success.The museum in Glasgow was unable to find reference to his service record.Perhaps a visit to Kew would reveal all.Many thanks for coming back to me Neil



#48 Martin G

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 05:13 PM

The 1/4th and the 1/5th both went to Egypt, arriving on 5th Feb 1916 and eventually 1916 leaving for France in Apr 1918.

Given he was in the 12th (Ayr and Lanark Yeomanry) Bn which was formed in Egypt on 4th Jan 1917 there is a high likelihood that he was serving in Egypt at the time and was one of many making up the numbers to create this battalion. It is unlikely that there were sufficient Yeomen to fill the ranks of a whole battalion. the History claims that men from the 3rd Reserve Bn made up the difference, so it is possible that your man was invalided back to UK, was serving post recovery with the 3rd Bn and was part of the draft sent out to make up the numbers. unless you have his service records it will be impossible to know for sure. For the formation of the 12th Bn see Buchan page 393.

I would recommend you do the following

1. Buy The History of the Royal Scots Fusiliers 1678-1918 by John Buchan - the are dozens of pages on the battalions in question
2. Buy "British Regiments 1914-1918" by Brig E A James
3. Visit Kew and get copies of the Bn War diaries.

I think I am done on this.

MG

#49 LST_164

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Posted 15 September 2013 - 07:59 PM

In case it hasn't been posted before:

 

158th Brigade (53rd Division) War Diary:

 

26th November: Trenches badly flooded in the evening, the Azmak Dere overflowing its banks.  Troops had to be withdrawn from part of the fire trenches which had fallen in.  Much kit & equipment washed away.

 

27th November:  The Bde. was relieved by the Highland Mounted Bde, & marched during the night to the Sand Dunes near the Hospitals.  There was much suffering owing to a blizzard blowing at the time & about 800 men were admitted to Hospital.  

 

28th November:  Very hard frost.  The Brigade reduced to about 31 officers and 400 men.  The 5/6 RWF and Herefords were brought in to Lala Baba from the Sand Dunes & placed in trenches on the South side of Lala Baba.  

 

29th November:  Hard Frost.  Parties sent out collecting kit etc. from the Sand Dunes and getting into new dugouts.

 

30th November:  A warmer day.  A certain amount of men were discharged from Hospital.  During the above days officers & men suffered severely from exposure & frost bite.  No officers died but it is estimated that about 15 men died from the cold.  

 

 

The War Diary of 1/5th RWF in the Brigade (by now, amalgamated with 1/6th as the 5/6th Battn.) indicates that at 20:00 hrs on 27th November they were relieved in their flooded positions by 1/1st Lovat Scouts and marched out with a strength of  11 Ofrs. 344 OR (1/5th) and 20 Ofrs. 355 OR (1/6th), total 31 Ofrs. 679 OR.  The blizzard which began at midnight had turned by 08:00 next morning to a thick mist which screened them from the enemy.  18 officers were hospitalised including the Colonel, Adjutant, MO, and 2nd Lieut. Vivian de Sola Pinto (poet, literary critic and historian, later comrade and friend of Siegfried Sassoon).  On the 29th three more officers joined the sick list, and by 30th November the strength was:  1/5th Nil officers, 88 ORs.;  1/6th 5 ofrs. 69 ORs; Total 5 Ofrs. 157 ORs (and one officer was hospitalised that day).  

 

Clive



#50 jules1064

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Posted 10 November 2013 - 12:27 PM

Just joined this website.  Great Uncle Walter Thomson - 7th Royal Scots from Leith, died at Gallipoli aged 16 years (or younger), only 2 and a half weeks after disembarking. Trying to find a lot more about his time, where he was and his regiment.





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