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QGE

9th (Service) Bn Sherwood Foresters

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QGE

Hello, as part of a long running research project to transcribe any original account of the actions at Suvla Bay during August 1915, I came upon one by an Officer of the 9th (Service) Bn Sherwood Foresters. This Bn's War diary for the period is missing in action, and there are very few original accounts left recording their sacrifice. This account is in the Appendices of the 33rd Inf Bde War Diary, part of the 11th Northern Division bundle held at the National Archives. I thought it worth sharing as it contains a hairy account of the line nearly breaking and one Officer's rather extreme action to restore the situation .

Please note - Anything in square parentheses [like this] is my additional comment and anything like this (?) indicates I am not 100% certain I have the exact word or words. As per the service writing style of the day, all names and places are in capitals and Battalion, Company etc are notated as Bn and Coy etc. The map references are for the 1:20,000 sheets.

9th-13th Aug 1915
.
HQ 33rd Bde.
"I have the honour to submit [the] following report of the action of Aug 9th and the following days: - 04:00 The Bn [9th (Service) Bn SHERWOOD FORESTERS] moved off at 04:00 under command of Col BROADRICK to take up a line from DAMAK JELIK BAIR to Pt 105 W 5
*
, a frontage of roughly 1500 yards where they were ordered to be in position by 0600. Sniper fire was met about 500 yards W of AZMAK DERE and was impossible to locate. The advance was steadily continued tho' no reply to the increasing fire could be made - unlike (?) the Right B Coy under Capt SQUIRES reached the AZMAK DERE, the left being about H in
H
ETMAN CHAIR , C Coy under Capt RANDALL
.

These Coys formed the original firing line and supports, A and B Coys being in second line. C Coy had orders to get on the left & B Coy on the right of the new lines. The remaining Coys had a small reserves having orders to align as reserve (?). A Coy on the Left of B Coy and D Coy less reserve on Right of C Coy. This was I believe the plan tho' it was not communicated to me in detail, my orders being to bring up the second line when sent for. Owing to the outwards inclines of C and B Coys, A Coy had been sent up to the centre about 105 V 8 and at once came under hot fire from front and oblique fire from Right and Left. However owing to the difficult country and length of front it had taken/tasked(?) to establish connections with B Coy on its Right

D Coy was almost at once brought up by myself and succeeded in obtaining touch with C Coy 's Right. The time was about 0600. The line with the exception of B continued to advance in rushes with great steadiness in spite of heavy loss until the left reached the point redered i.e. 105 W 5. The centre however pushed on too far owing that touch was never established with the Right Coys, the position about 14:00 being this [Diagram]... Capt SQUIRES Comd B Coy grasping the position attempted to move 2 Coys forwards to his left and started his left himself with great bravery. He was at once killed and his left platoon decimated as the Turks had pushed a larger force about 2 Coys into the gap and began to open a heavy enfilade fire on both A and B Coys. This was about 15:30

It now became absolutely imperative to retire the centre and left. B Coy having(?) some shelling in AZMAK DERE. The Right of A Coy were for a moment unsteadied,
all
their Officers being killed or wounded but it was only for a moment as Lt SCOTHERN siezed a rifle and with it threatened to shoot any man who did not fom up along a ledge about 50 yards in rear. This had an immediate effect and A Coy retired well in hand, D and C Coys returing also about 100 yards in an orderly manner. This retirement took place about 1600 and was ordered by Lt Col BOSANQUET in person who was then wounded in the arm. At about 19:00 Lt Col BOSANQUET went to have his wound dressed and upon being sent back by the Medical Officer handed over command to me. ...I proceeded at once to start a permanent defensive line which necessitated a further retirement of my centre and left. The whole line then ran(?) from X Rd South of 92 A3 to 105 W 1...... During the night we were threatened by parties of enemy but no serious attack was made. The men were made to dig in and the 1st HEREFORD Territorials prolonged our line to the R along the AZMAK DERE"

This Bn was withdrawn by DIV Order about 01:30 on the 10th , During the whole of the 10th we were subjected to heavy sniping and the HEREFORD Terr returned to take up their line again about 12:00.

They remained until about 23:00 on the 11th when they were again withdrawn with the exception of 1 Coy which I retained until 05:00 of the 12th. When connection was abtained with the GURKHAS Posts.

The Bn was relieved by 5th NORTHUMBERLAND FUSILIERS
1
and 6th MANCHESTER Regt
2
during the night 13th and 14th and retired to bivouac area
3
.
The total casualties were 19 Officers, 305 Other Ranks
4
.

Signed] J G BLACKBURNE, Major, OC 9th SHERWOOD FORESTERS.

My Notes:

[Edit * See map below with red asterisk on Sheet 105 W 5]

1. Actually this was the 8th (Service) Bn Northumberland Fusiliers, part of 34th Inf Bde. The Bn War Diary records the 12th Aug as moving back into the fire trenches.

2. Actually this was the 11th (Service) Bn Manchester Regt, also part of 34th Inf Bde whose War Diary records "23:00 relieved Sherwood Foresters in fire trenches 92 A . Connected up with Indian Bde on right flank and 32nd Inf Bde on left."]

3. 33rd Inf Bde HQ War Diary for Friday 13th Aug records: "Bde rested all day. At night 5th DORSETS and 9th LANCS FUS relieved 8th NORTH'D FUS and 11th MANCHESTER REGT in trenches running SW from SE corner of SALT LAKE. The 8th NORTH'D FUS and 11th MANCHESTER REGT afterwards advancing to relieve SHERWOOD FORESTERS (33rd Bde) from HILL 50 (105 M/R) to KAZLAR CHAIR where they were in touch with Indian Bde by patrol. Relief carried out without incident.

4. 32nd Inf Bde HQ War Diary for 11th Aug records "Maj BRIDGES, S STAFFORD Regt assumed command of this Bn on this date. … Maj BLACKBURN (sic), SH FORESTERS ditto. Casualties of Bde 7th to 11th August:

LINCOLN regt Officers: KIA 5, WIA 10, MIA 3 OR s: KIA 88? WIA 318, MIA 114…

border Regt Officers:KIA 13, WIA 7, MIA 1, OR s: KIA 26, WIA 341, MIA 131......

S STAFFORDS Officers: KIA 2, WIA 7, MIA 0, OR s KIA 37, WIA 120, MIA 96.......

SHERWOOD FORESTERS: Officers KIA 8, WIA 11, MIA 1, OR s: KIA 78, WIA 167, MIA 12 [Note: Total 20 Officers, 257 ORs]

BDE HQ: Officers: KIA 0, WIA 2, MIAN 0, OR s KIA 0, WIA 3, MIA 0"

This Bn was hit particularly hard during the Suvla Bay landings and has the unenviable distinction of having 100% Officer casualties in the bloody first fort'night of the landings between 7th-22nd August - see list below. The few officers who survived the first week were all KIA or WIA within the next 7 days. For more on this Bn I would recommend GWF comrade Steve Morse's excellent book on the Bn where he painstakingly rebuilt the Bn history.

Any mistakes are mine. Regards MG

9th (Service) Bn Casualties at Gallipoli:

Lt Col L A Bosanquet (WIA 9th Aug, KIA 21st Aug)

Maj J G Blackburne OC A Coy (KIA 22nd Aug)

Maj A S Murray OC D Coy (WIA 9th Aug)

Capt and Adjutant F F Lloyd (WIA 10th Aug)

Lt (QM) A Ewin (KIA 11th Aug)

Capt H L BMills (WIA 9th Aug)

Capt C D Randall OC C Coy (KIA 9th Aug)

Capt R D Squires OC B Coy (KIA 9th Aug)

Lt E D Badsen (WIA 9th Aug)

Lt S H Piper B Coy (WIA 9th Aug)

Lt W C Mayo (KIA 9th Aug)

Lt A G Wills (KIA 9th Aug)

Lt J F M Hind (W 9th Aug)

Lt A E Scothern (Diary) (W 9th Aug)

Lt H P Carey (KIA 9th Aug)

2 Lt R J Nicholls (WIA 9th Aug)

2 Lt W West A Coy (KIA 9th Aug)

2 Lt E T Allpass C Coy (KIA 21st Aug)

2 Lt C E Scott (WIA 9th Aug)

2 Lt F C Brown (KIA 9th Aug)

2 Lt E H Marsh (WIA)

2 Lt J C Harrison (WIA 10th Aug)

post-55873-0-07530400-1327427906.jpg

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Jim_Grundy

Thanks for sharing this, MartinG. Really fascinating account.

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Jim_Grundy

Here's an anonymous account for you:

I daresay that you have heard many and various accounts of what happened to the old battalion in their first fight in August last, but there was no doubt of one things, and that was that they bore themselves well and were a credit to the regiment of which they are a unit.

The fight started about six oclock in the morning, and they went into action about 750 strong… To get on with the tale, they were given a frontage of 1,700 yards to cover as a battalion, with A and B Companies in the firing line and C and D in support, against an enemy that the could not see at the time.

At seven oclock that morning they had the other two companies up in support, and at 8.30 the officers left were Major Blackburne [1], Captain Lloyd [2], and Lieut. A.E. Scothern [3], although the last named had been wounded, but stuck to his only machine-gun. The remainder were either killed or had been carried off wounded… Bill Annison [4] was the first one killed on that day, and it seems strange that all the sergeants and corporals that were seen that day [on the parade through Nottingham before embarking for Gallipoli] were shot straight through the head. Any way, the whole battalion was fine.

There are just about 100 of the original battalion left here now. They have all gone home to England, and those that were left here have left the peninsular and are due in ___ to-morrow to get themselves together for fresh fields of glory. Major Gater [5] is now in command of the battalion, with Captain Scothern as adjutant and Captain Basden [6] as a company officer. Of course I am thankful to say that I am still in the pink, and just longing for this to be all over and done with, as the cost of lives has been such a big one.

It seems a pity that there are those left in England who do not recognised their responsibility and are holding back from doing their duty as men; tho some of the so-called politicians who are not in favour of conscription. I would not shoot them. I would take them out and make them get captured by the gentle Hun, and let them have a dose of the horrors that have been meted out in France and Belgium.

Mansfield and North Notts Advertiser, 15th October 1915

[1] Major John George Blackburne, Mentioned in Desptaches, killed in action, 21st August 1915 aged 42. Son of John George Lees Blackburne and Mary Shadforth Boger Blackburne, of Dryclough, Oldham; husband of Lilian Monica Blackburne, of New Century Club, Hay Hill, London, W.1. Buried Geen Hill Cemetery.

[2] Captain & Adjutant Francis Fetherstonehaugh Loyd, later Captain, Sherwood Rangers.

[3] Second Lieutenant, later, Lieutenant Colonel Albert Edward Scothern DSO. (London Gazette, 1st January 1918).

[4] 6102 Company Sergeant Major Richard William Annison, killed in action 9th August 1915, aged 40. Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Served on the North West Frontier of India (Tirah, 1897-98). Son of James and Mary Annison, of London Road, Reading; husband of Winifred Mary Annison, of 327, St. Thomas''s Road, Derby. Commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

[5] Major, later Lieutenant Colonel, George Henry Gater DSO & Bar. DSO, London Gazette, 3rd June 1916. Bar, London Gazette, 17th September 1917: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He led his battalion with brilliant skill and resolution during an attack, minimising their casualties during three days intense shelling by his able dispositions and good eye for ground. He directed consolidation, and remained in command for three days, although severely wounded in the face early in the action".

[6] Captain Edward Duncan Basden, later Lieutenant Colonel, Machine Gun Corps, Military Cross.

Given what was written in the account you've reproduced, Scothern might be the man referred to in this account by 12616 Pte. John Stenson from Beeston, Nottinghamshire:

"We left Frenshaw on June 30th, and arrived at Liverpool Docks next morning, when we set sail on the "Empress of Britain". Our first stop was at Malta, then Alexandria, next Lemnos Harbour, where we transhipped for Gallipoli. We landed at Cape Helles on July 21st, and we were in the trenches the same night facing the famous Atchi Baba. I shall never forget the trenches there: it was like walking on a sponge, for they were full of dead and the stench was abominable. There were also dead on the parapet, and it was common to see hands and legs sticking out of the ground as one passed. Some of the bodies were merely covered with a bag and a layer of soil, which caused millions of flies to congregate.

"When we made the memorable landing at Suvla Bay we were packed like herrings on lighters. But, except for a few bullets whizzing and occasionally striking the boat, there was very little to get excited about. Directly after jumping ashore, we extended out with fixed bayonets, and the order was given for no man to fire. We advanced inland some distance, and I saw one poor chap shot clean through the head. We then dug ourselves in till morning and stopped there all the next day.

It was afterwards stated we should have taken possession of the hills where so many lives were lost. On August 7th we advanced about a quarter of a mile with nothing doing, where we made a good trench and stayed there till next day. It was on August 9th when the next advance took place at sunrise, and I shall never forget running the wire for our last place. We were being popped at, and three of us had lucky escapes. By this time seven officers were out of action, and we went on until we came to the first aid dressing station. I think if ever my heart was in my mouth it was that day. The moans of the men were awful, for many were burnt to death where the grass had caught fire.

The signal officer took some men to reinforce a company, and it was about this time that Humphries, Martin and Turton got killed. A corporal of the machine gun section, drunk and behaving in a mad manner, giving the position away, was promptly ordered to be shot by the officer, and when a stretcher bearer got up to shoot him, he was shot himself.

Things were quiet the next two days, but the snipers were busy, and a shot undoubtedly meant for another man who was exposed struck me. I felt as if someone had given me a bang on the head, and I was knocked silly for the time being.

Source: Notts Local News 24th June 1916

The men Stenson refers to as having been killed were all Beeston men:

13903 L/Cpl James Martin, 9th Notts & Derby, k.i.a. 9th August 1915

Helles Memorial. Age 20. Son of Mathew and Sarah Martin, of 30, Chapel St., Beeston, Notts.

13934 Pte. Albert Edward Turton, 9th Notts & Derby, k.i.a. 9th August 1915

Helles Memorial. Aged 19. Son of Herbert Turton, of 23, Middleton St., Beeston, Nottingham.

13883L/Cpl. W.D. Humpreys, 9th Notts & Derby, k.i.a. 9th August 1915

Helles Memorial

The more I look at it, the better the fit appears to be.

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QGE

Thanks for sharing this, MartinG. Really fascinating account.

Since posting, I discover that Lt A E Scothern (on the list of WIA) made a recovery and continued to serve. He apparently was an international footballer who played for Oxford University, Oxford City, England Amateur XI and Great Britain before the war..... see second para of the attached. http://citystats.moonfruit.com/#/1908-1910/4548137530 and is also mentioned here http://www.tobysavage.co.uk/showarticle.asp?id=9 by 2Lt Burrows on joining the Bn as a reinforcement in Sep (?) 1915 (about half way down) and herehttp://files.pitchero.com/clubs/307/Amateur%20Internationals.PDF

MG

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QGE

Jim -many thanks for posting these....our posts crossed... Where did they come from? Is this part of your own research. It is very interesting.

In my notes I have annotated next to Scothern's name that he kept a diary and I can't for the life of me find the reference... Any ideas? I have asked Steve Morse too.. MG

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stevem49

PM sent Martin

Col Scothern DSO, also commanded the 6th borders. On 31 March 1918, Col Thornton DSO, took command of 1st Infantry Brigade. Col Scothern DSO became the CO for 9th Bn. As a teacher, the war diaries improved!

On Suvla Lt Scothern seemed to have a different view than the majority of the men. Terms such as pleasant and glorious sea bathing did not appear in anyone else's accounts. In fact others saw heavy shelling as somewhat of a problem if attempting to bathe in the sea.

Steve

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QGE
1327496433[/url]' post='1700560']

PM sent Martin

Col Scothern DSO, also commanded the 6th borders. On 31 March 1918, Col Thornton DSO, took command of 1st Infantry Brigade. Col Scothern DSO became the CO for 9th Bn. As a teacher, the war diaries improved!

On Suvla Lt Scothern seemed to have a different view than the majority of the men. Terms such as pleasant and glorious sea bathing did not appear in anyone else's accounts. In fact others saw heavy shelling as somewhat of a problem if attempting to bathe in the sea.

Steve

Steve.

A big public thank you. I remain Sir, in your debt. MG

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Jim_Grundy

Martin

Yes, I've been researching men from my part of Nottinghamshire for some time now. My grandfather served with 9th Notts & Derby throughout the Gallipoli campaign, so this is of particular interest to me.

My facebook page - the link appears below - includes much of my research, which one day I'll get sorted into a book.

Regards,

Jim

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