This site commemorates the men and women of Collingham, Linton and Micklethwaite who served during World War 1.

The Gallipoli / Dardanelles campaign 1915.

The Gallipoli campaign was designed to allow the Allies to force their way through the Dardanelles straits and to gain control of Constantinople. This would have several desired consequences: it would provide a good defence of Egypt and the Suez Canal from Turkish attack; it opened a new front against the enemy; it started as primarily a Naval operation; it would rally Turkey's traditional enemies in the Balkans to the Allied side; and it would open a warm water route for the supply of Russia.

The Campaign fell into four distinctive phases: (i) Naval bombardments on 19th and 26th February 1915 and three weeks of mine sweeping before the main attempt on 18th March by capital ships to force through the passage; (ii) landings on 25th April 1915 by British, Australian and New Zealand troops which resulted in stalemate as further advances could not be made; (iii) a further landing, at Suvla Bay, to try to outflank the Turks which failed and fighting bogged down into trench warfare and (iv) the final evacuation of Allied troops from Anzac and Suvla in December 1915.

Of these phases, the local men played a significant role in the Suvla landings and fighting, while those that survived also took part in the final withdrawal. The experiences of the Collingham and Linton men in these battles thus lie in the landings of 11 Division, and in particular 32 Brigade, which contained the 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

On the 1st July 1915, the 9th Battalion West Yorks Regiment were at Witley Camp, Godalming, Surrey, but on that day they entrained for the Alexandra docks, Liverpool. On the 2-3rd they embarked on the S.S. Aquitania and set sail. On the 6th July they passed Gibraltar and Malta on the 7th. On the 10th their destination was sighted and they landed at Mudros Bay on the island of Lemnos. There they trained and prepared for their big adventure. On the 22nd July they embarked for Imbros on HMS Mosquito and HMS Racoon and disembarked at this staging post at Kephalos Camp, Imbros, where they stayed until the 6th August 1915. On that day they landed at Suvla Bay in Gallipoli to open a new front and they took Lala Baba.

The Battalion remained in Gallipoli until the 18th December 1915, when the whole of the Gallipoli Peninsula was evacuated. The 9th West Yorks withdrew on the 18th and travelled on HTS Redbreast back to Kephalos. Later, on the 7th February 1916, the Battalion arrived in Egypt to refit due to severe casualties, disease and harsh weather, and they took over part of the defence of the Suez Canal. After a while their strength was required at the western Front and on the 1st july 1916 the Battalion landed at Marseilles and proceeded to the Western Front.

It is perhaps appropriate to let the men involved tell of their own experiences in this region and these battles. We are able to do this since a number of men wrote letters to loved ones, or directly to The Wetherby News, which published their stories. The first letter published came from a group of 20 men who signed themselves "Kitchener's Lad from Wetherby". This was a request for home comforts and paper from these men. The letter was published on the 20th August 1915.

Wetherby News August 20th 1915


To the Editor.

Dear Sir, -
Just a few lines, hoping by the time you receive this you will have had a good collection in aid of the fund for the necessaries for troops stationed at Ripon and Richmond, and at the same time hoping they will derive much benefit and comfort. But what about your own boys in the Dardanelles and the comforts they require? You will remember the old saying, "Home first." You will not think this forward of us when you think of the plight we are in. Wishing you and the good old paper every success, and wishing to be remembered to all in Wetherby through its precious columns, we remain

Corporals F. Dawson, E. Webster, H. Jewitt, Privates W. Hill, H. Taylor, M. Dalby, M. Woodward, W. Pawson, L. Nightingale, F. Byrom, G. Precious, W. White, A. Crossland, H. Knowles, E. Linfoot, J. Wiggins, A. Wood, P. Frost, W. Cole, A. Hooper.
P.S. - Excuse short letter, as paper out here is very scarce. A paper weekly would be very acceptable. If writing back address to

Pte. F. Byrom, 11878, D Company, 9th Batt., P.W.O. West Yorks. Regt., 11th Division, British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.


Notes: By the time this letter had been published the 9th Battalion West Yorks Regiment had landed in Suvla Bay and had suffered horrendous casualties. 11 of the signatories of this letter were already dead, and a further 3 were to be killed within another two days! Although this devastating news would only reach Wetherby some weeks later.

The next letter describes a little of the journey to Gallipoli.

Wetherby News August 27th 1915

Experiences of Former "News" Employee


Pte. T. Beasley, of Kirk Deighton, a former employee at the "News" Office, and now with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, writing to a member of our Staff, says:-

"After leaving England we had an alarming experience. We embarked at Liverpool on the -----, and the voyage, which was pleasant and successfully accomplished, was not entirely void of thrilling moments. When clear of the escort which accompanied us until out of the exact danger zone, we were fired upon by a hostile submarine, the torpedo only just missing its intended mark by a few feet. Of course this created a state of alarm, and we all paraded on deck with lifebelts on. At the present time we are in a rather better quarter than on disembarking. Up to the present we have not been in action, but we are quite near enough to be well within the sound of guns, which at this moment are rather lively. We have all had another dose of inoculation - this time against cholera. I was thinking of the contrast between the Bank Holiday of 1914 and 1915. On the first I was at the dance at the Trustees' Hall, Boston Spa, and on the latter we were on night operations some few thousand miles away from that village, arriving at our self-made shelters rather tired at something like 3 o'clock in the morning. To-day I have received some papers from my sister, including the "News." I can assure you they are very welcome, and by the time they get round the Wetherby boys they have often deteriorated in size. We are camped quite close to the sea, and for the most part indulge in a swim twice a day, the first parade being at six a.m., and the other about five in the afternoon. These parades are always looked forward to, it being so frightfully hot."

Since the foregoing letter was written the Battalion has been in action, and sustained several casualties.


Notes: Private 11785 Thomas Beasley of the 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment himself lost his life on the 29th November 1916 in France. He is buried in Hamel Military Cemetery, Beaumont Hamel.

On the 3rd September the first news of the devastating losses of Wetherby men started reaching the area:

Wetherby News September 3rd 1915


Private letters received in Wetherby on Wednesday state that a large number of Wetherby lads had been killed in the attack on the Turkish position in Gallipoli. In the long list of 70 of those wounded of the 9th Batt. West Yorkshires, to which the Wetherby lads of Kitchener's Army belong, not a single Wetherby name appears, so we must hope that those who have been reported missing have returned to the Batt. If this is not the case, their gallantry, which is reported has not been in vain, for Sir Ian Hamilton, in his report on Wednesday, says that there was further severe hand to hand fighting on August 27th and 28th in the district the Wetherby boys were in, and that very severe losses were inflicted on the Turks by the Australian and New Zealand forces, in addition to the capture of a large number of guns and ammunition, and a considerable gain of ground.

A letter to us from the Dardanelles says that the Wetherby boys fought like heroes. Although they were a small party, greatly outnumbered, they never thought of retiring, but stuck the rain of bombs and bullets, and "God only knows how they were not all killed." "We were," says the writer, "completely surrounded." It was on August 9th, and at first only four answered the roll call, but more came dribbling in, some of them wounded. We refrain from giving their names, as it is very possible others may be safe or may have been taken prisoners. One who has come out unscathed is T. Beasley, of Kirk Deighton, a late respected member of the "News" staff.


Notes: A battalion, such as the 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment would have had about 800 men. Modern records now show that between the 6th and 31st August 1915 11 officers and 322 men of the 9th West Yorks lost their lives. A number of others were severely wounded and died later of their wounds.

Another letter from Private Beasley expresses some of the shock at the losses.

Wetherby News September 10th 1915


Terrible Experiences

Private T. Beasley, of Kirk Deighton, who was an employee at the "News" office until last year, has written two letters home. He says that in the battle from Friday, the 6th, to Tues, the 10th August, the Battalion lost very heavily, particularly D Company, and that then practically all the lads who enlisted with him last August were either killed or missing. It has been terrible, fighting without trenches. Not only the West Yorks., but the whole Brigade, has lost heavily. "I can assure you,' 'he says, "I have seen some unnerving sights, and I pray God I may be spared to see you all again. Don't think I am disheartened, only a queer feeling sometimes when you realize that your pals have gone under. Thank God, it can be said of them that each and all are heroes, and died nobly in the cause of God, King, and country, endeavouring to suppress a barbarous foe. There is a sniper firing close at hand and shrapnel bursting, so I must conclude."

In a letter of August 23rd he says:- "I am still alive and well. There aren't many of us left; only 150 of the whole 800 of the Batt. Only four from Wetherby who are not killed, wounded or missing. I have had some narrow escapes. My officer is wounded in four places. It is simply awful. Jewitt and White are still missing. I fear many of the missing are killed. I am deeply grieved at the loss of the Wetherby lads, and all that are here left with me are L. Nightingale, W. Chambers (Cowthorpe), and F. Hodgson. Tim Dawson and M Woodward are wounded. E. Webster fell wounded the day before yesterday. It is worse here than France. I have not got the parcel. Send some paper. We are resting to-day as we have been fighting hard for a fortnight. Keep up heart all of you. I feel sure we shall pull through; and pray for us all, as we need it all."


Notes: Of the named men that Thomas Beasley mentions Privates Jewitt and White were never found and they were missing, presumed dead. Privates Nightingale and Chambers survived the war. I have not identified Privates F. Hodgson or T Dawson. Private Woodward transferred from the West Yorkshire Regiment and joined the Royal Engineers and survived the war. E. Webster did not survive his wounding and died on the 22nd August 1915.

Gradually news got through about the extent of the casualties.

Wetherby News September 10th 1915




The information which we had last week as to the death of several Wetherby lads in the great fight at the Gallipoli Peninsula on August 9th was unfortunately correct, though the report that there were 18 of the wetherby lads killed was exaggerated; the losses have been serious.
A portion of the letter, which we did not publish last week, reads as follows: -
The Grange Dug-out,
August 15th

Dear Editor,-
I suppose by now you in Wetherby will have heard of the grand work Kitchener's lads have been and are doing out here. Wetherby will, in spite of her loss, be proud of her town boys. They all died side by side fighting for Old England, and although we were only a small party, greatly outnumbered, they never thought of retiring, but stuck to it like the heroes they were. How any of us lived through that rain of bombs and bullets no-body (only God) knows. we were completely surrounded. The enemy were shouting "Don't fire; we're Gurkhas." About an hour before dawn on Aug. 9th they attacked us; by daylight nearly all the boys were dead or wounded, so you can guess it was pretty warm. It was a sad roll call that day. Only four of our lads answered it, but since then I have heard of some of them getting to hospital. I hope you will be able to find a space in the old paper for this, for, though we should like to write to their friends, it can't be done, paper is so scarce. Those who are known to be safe are Corpl. Dawson (wounded), Lce.-Corpl. Webster, Privates Nightingale, Woodward, Beasley, J. Wiggins, W. Wiggins, P. Shields, W. Pawson (wounded). We can hardly realise that those dear pals we had lived with this last year are gone, but we would like you to know that the sacrifice they made probably saved the whole Battalion. Hoping all at home are keeping their spirits up, and in the best of health,
We remain yours, with the deepest sympathy,


The fighting in the Gallipoli Peninsula has taken a heavy toll of Wetherby men.
Advices from the war Office, received on Saturday morning showed that two men were killed in the fighting on August 9th, and that as a result of the same action one was missing. Since then further official notices have increased the roll of killed and missing.
In all about 30 Wetherby young men took part in the action, and though it is known that some are safe through their letters home, the parents of several men are filled with anxiety because of the fact that they have received no tidings of their sons since the date of the action. Almost all the men were in the 9th Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.


Notes: As mentioned before Dawson, Nightingale and Woodward survived the war. Webster and Pawson were killed in action and Beasley, although surviving Gallipoli was killed in action in France in 1916. Privates J. Wiggins and P. Shields were killed in action of the 22nd August 1915. We have not identified Pte. W. Wiggins.

Private Nightingale's letter from 3rd Sept gives a detailed account of their trip to the Dardanelles and of the fighting.

Wetherby News October 1st 1915

Letters from the Dardanelles and France

We print below extracts from two letters, (1) from Leonard Lane, Wighill Park, late of Wetherby, about the great battle of St.Julien; and (2; from Laurie Nightingale, Wetherby (West Yorks), giving an account of the landing of his battalion at Gallipoli.......

(2) Extract from Private L. Nightingale's letter:-
Dardanelles, Sept. 3rd, 1915.

"We sailed from Liverpool on the S.S. Aquitania on July 3rd with 8,000 troops and 1,000 crew aboard, so you may guess she was no toy. We were escorted to the mouth of the English Channel by two torpedo destroyers. They had hardly left us four hours before we were attacked by a German submarine. She fired a torpedo at us, which just missed the stern by four feet; so you may guess it was too near to be pleasant. We were all ordered on to the boat deck with life-belts on, ready to jump into the boats, until we got out of the danger zone. We soon outpaced it, as we took a zig-zag course all the way, doing 27 knots the biggest part of the journey. Another submarine was sighted off the coast of Spain, which gave chase, but suffered the same fate as the other. We were on the water ten days altogether, during which we spent time in a little drill and reading. The sea was as calm as the Wharfe at Wetherby. We had to take our life-belts with us wherever we went on the ships. We named them our haversack ration. We were landed on an island outside the Dardanelles, and we stayed there about a week. Then we were moved to another further up. Here we stayed about two weeks. Then we got to business. It is now a month since we landed, which, I may say, was forced. As soon as we left the lighters, we were greeted by a hail of lead from machine guns and rifle fire. We never fired a shot until day-break. We used the bayonet all the night, and with vengeance, too. My platoon officer was shot by my side as we left the boat. However, by 6.30 next morning, we had pushed them back above two miles, so we made a good jump off. My company was in reserve the next two days. On the 10th we made an attack on a position, but we were greatly outnumbered. My platoon and another were the firing line, supported by the rest. We hung on until they were all knocked out but I and two more, so we were forced to retire to the rear, and just caught the rest of the battalion retiring. All my platoon consisted of Wetherby boys. After we had retired to the bottom of the hill, the Turks set the gorse on fire, so the poor fellows that were wounded would be burnt to death. However, we hung on to the bottom of the hill and were relieved. Two days later we were sent down to the beach for a rest. But you don't get much rest, as there are too many fatigues. We stayed there a couple of days, then up to the firing line again. On the 21st the order came round to capture three Turkish trenches, but we had lost more than half of our battalion then, and it was my 20th birthday, too. I shall remember it to the longest day I live! The artillery and the ships started to bombard their position about 2.30 p.m. We made an advance about 3pm, but as soon as we got on to the parapet of our trench we were mown down like rabbits by shrapnel, machine guns, and rifle fire. It was hell on earth, absolute murder. We captured the trenches, but at a terrible loss. We were marched down to the beach next night with only 150 men and two officers, so you can guess they gave it us hot. Our division has done some splendid work on the Peninsula. We have gained some good positions, but had to retire from them through lack of reinforcements. I am in the firing line while I am writing this letter. We are expecting to be relieved any time. We will have to go to Alexandria to re-organise. I have had one or two narrow escapes; only yesterday I got blown up by a shell, but I escaped without injury. Fighting in France is a picnic to what this is."


Private Frank Ridsdale was not a member of the 9th West Yorks Regiment, but had joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and was serving in Gallipoli. His letter tells something of the medical provisions provided in Gallipoli and of some of the difficulties faced fighting in that battlefield.

Wetherby News October 1st 1915

News of Wetherby Lads in Gallipoli


Private Frank Ridsdale, third son of Mrs. Ridsdale, Sandringham Terrace, Wetherby, who joined the Royal Army Medical Corps some months ago, is now in the Dardanelles, where he has come across other Wetherby young men. He went on a hospital ship, which also contained Pte. A. J. Smith, of Wetherby, but whereas the latter has come back with a boat-load of wounded, and arrived at Wetherby again for a few days on Monday night, Frank is now doing field ambulance work in the Dardanelles. As will be seen from his letters, he had not heard of the disaster to the Wetherby lads of the 9th Batt. West Yorks. at the time he set sail, and naturally he expresses the hope that the news will eventually turn out better than anticipated. In this first letter, dated Sept. 8th, he says:-

"I was pleased to receive your letter just before we paraded for embarkation. It was nice to have a letter before we left England. We have been five days at sea now, and made a splendid voyage so far. If all goes well we shall be at our destination in a day or two. We have called nowhere on the way, and are well down the Mediterranean. It has been a pleasant and interesting voyage, and one that I shall never forget. We had a good view of the coasts of Spain, Africa, and Sicily, and passed close to the Rock of Gibraltar. As I write there is nothing to see but miles and miles of ocean blue. We had a splendid send off from Southampton. Thousands lined the streets, and all could see where we were bound fo with our sun-helmets, etc. We are now in our drill suits, as the climate is much warmer. We have had splendid weather so far - nobody sea-sick. She is a splendid boat, and we scarcely feel any movement at all excepting the vibration of the engines. She is doing full speed night and day, and is lit up at night by green electric lamps, and red crosses, illuminated. She is painted white and green, with three big red crosses on each side. She carried a staff of 50 sisters, 40 doctors, and 200 orderlies, and has accommodation for nearly 3,000 wounded. We are arranging a concert for one night before we land. There are on board three operating theatres and two dispensaries. I have seen A. J. Smith several times. he told me about the Wetherby lads falling. I was very sorry to hear such bad news, but hope it is better than expected. We have good food, and the sleeping accommodation is all right, but it is very hot down in the bunks, and we each sleep with a life-belt at hand. I have never seen such sunrises and sunsets as they are here - they are simply glorious. We have passed several smaller hospital boats - the smaller ships look like little "cock boats" against ours. You can easily get lost on her. The big staterooms, dining saloons, and cabins, all so beautifully decorated, are turned into hospital wards. I never thought it would be my pleasure to have a trip on the ------- down the Mediterranean, and am enjoying it to the fullest extent. I suppose we shall be in some some hard work at the end."

In his second letter, dated Sept. 13th, Frank says:-
"We arrived here yesterday morning about three o'clock. We have been making our dug-out to-day, which I suppose we shall now have to live in. It is nearly all sand here, and we have bushes on three sides of the dug-out. I was pleased to see Mr. Cole and Mr. Hooper, who are here with the ----Division. They were delighted to see me, and said it was nice to see Wetherby faces again - the world is small after all. We have got split up and sent to different companies. Len. Fozzard (Wetherby) is in the same Company as Cole and Hooper. It will be nice for him being near them. But I am all right, and the chaps here seem decent fellows. We are on field ambulance work, and not hospital work, so before I write again, all being well, I shall have been out collecting the wounded. The heat is terrific in the daytime, but cold at nights, and the flies are a great pest, but I suppose we shall soon get used to them. Mr. Cole was telling me of nearly all the Wetherby lads going under at the big landing here. I have just been talking to some men who have seen their own photos in a paper as being drowned with the Royal Edward, but luckily for them they were saved. Tell the lads at home that we are roughing it - not half - but we are all rights and well, and warfare will be a new thing to us all. I have given Smith some letters to post. The grub is not so bad - we get plenty of bully beef and biscuits, and a drop of good tea sometimes. We are only allowed water twice a day. It seems a bare, barren land - no trees at all - nothing but hills, and miles of sand. But we are near the sea, where we shall be able to have a dip. In the strange land I shall be glad of a line from anyone."


Another letter from Private Beasley summarises his experiences and bemoans the fact that they did not have enough manpower to maintain those advances that had been so dearly won.

Wetherby News October 8th 1915

More Men Wanted at the Dardanelles.



Pte. T.Beasley, Kirk Deighton, writing to the Editor under date Sept. 20th, gives further information of the landing and work of the 9th West Yorks. in Gallipoli. He says:-

"Just a line to let you know I am still alive and well, though we have had some hard times this last six weeks. Ours was the Division of the New Army entrusted with the effecting of a fresh landing at Suvla Bay. I can assure you, quite contrary to expectations, it was no easy matter: also, no surprise, as intended, for as the lighters ran aground the Turks opened fire with machine guns. They also used powerful searchlights. On ascending the cliffs we were met with bullets from snipers, and our platoon officer, Lieut. Worsnop, of Leeds, fell a victim to one of these, and died on board the hospital boat the following day.

"We captured the hill in front of our landing, which is known to us now as Yorkshire Hill, owing to the fact that the Yorkshire Brigade, the 32nd, partook in the assault only. We did not get through without losses, the Yorkshires suffering most, this being due to the fact that the Turks' snipers occupied a trench on top. But most of them were eventually taken prisoners, and some killed. On the Saturday our advance was more rapid, but we lost heavily in officers and men, as we had to cross a zone which was swept with shrapnel and high explosive shells. On the Sunday we again made a rapid advance and settled down on the brow of the hill at dark, but in the early hours of Monday, Aug. 9th, we were attacked by an overwhelming force and had to retire......

"In this affair Eddie Webster had a miraculous escape, an explosive bullet blowing his equipment - also bandolier and pocket - off his coat. A cigarette case, given him by his brother, he said, with the remark, "Take this, lad, as it may save your life," saving him. But alas! poor Eddie fell wounded seriously about a fortnight later in an attack on a Turkish position which was murderous....

" Since this attack it has developed into trench warfare, and we have often done duty in the firing line, sometimes for ten days at a stretch. There are only just over 130 of the original 9th West Yorks. left, but fresh drafts have recently come from England.

"When I look back at to the days at Witley, and think of the number of men who were so happy there who have lost their lives - the bulk of them married, with families - I realize what an entire failure the voluntary system of enlistment has been in respect of drawing to the colours the single young chaps of our commercial towns, and I certainly should favour a compulsory service for the duration of war at least. People at home cannot realise the need of more men. But if only they could be out here and witness one of the attacks, the nature of the ground we have to cover, and see how it is that a small number of Turks can hold thousands of men up, they would soon hold the same opinion as us. There is also a great need out here for stretcher bearers and men of the R.A.M.C. The few we have are unable to cope with the vast numbers of wounded, and in the attack previously mentioned some of our poor chaps were lying 36 hours without any attention; we carried scores back on oil-sheets and blankets late on the Sunday night to a trench which was absolutely full, and from which the stretcher bearers were working. I think myself that the failure to push on the movement on this front can be attributed to the lack of reinforcements.

"Two Wetherby chaps, W. Cole and A. Hooper, who were motor scouts, are serving with the R.A.M.C., and we often meet them and chat about the old town. I should like through the "News" to convey the deepest sympathy of myself and the remaining few of the boys to the parents and friends of the Wetherby and district men who have lost their lives out here. Some day in the future I hope we may be able to tell them verbally of the noble was in which they fell, but until that time we must continue to do our little bit."


The next three letters give vivid pictures of life in Gallipoli.

Wetherby News November 5th 1915

Life on the Gallipoli Peninsula.


Private Frank Ridsdale, of the 89th Field Ambulance, son of Mrs. Ridsdale, Sandringham Terrace, Wetherby, writing to his mother from Gallipoli, under date October 16th, says:

"Am going on all right so far. The weather here is much colder, especially at night, and we are changing the drill suits for khaki. We have had one or two wet nights. I suppose the rainy season will soon be here. We shall be going up to the advanced dressing stations for our four nights tonight. We have been at the base camp making trenches for winter quarters, so I don't know how long this job is going to last - opinions seem to differ a lot, but we must all hope and pray that it will be over soon.

"Last week I was one of a party who had to go and fetch stores from about a mile away. A Corporal goes with us, and the Indian coolies bring the stores up in their mule carts. Oh! What a sight to see the way our Army is fed. It is marvelous. We saw men of all nations under the British flag working for the Empire and to win this war. I wish Sonny could have been there to see all the different races of men, with their fancy turbans and dress, jabbering and talking in all kinds of languages. It was quite laughable, and it gave one a splendid idea of what our Colonies are doing to help the Old Country in this terrible time. All this kind of work goes on in the dark when the Turks cannot see to shell us. It is surprising to see what loads mules can pull, especially up these rough roads, where a horse would stick fast. The Australians, too, are doing good work here.

"Fozzard is now in the 88th Field Ambulance, which is quite near us, so I see him often. He is quite well. Two more of our men have gone away sick this week, making twelve altogether. Things are fairly quiet just now, but I suppose there will be another 'dust-up' any time."

Speaking of his eldest brother at Saskatchewan, Frank says: - "I was thinking the other day what a long way we were apart, but our thoughts are always of our own. I suppose at home all the corn and crops will have been gathered and the harvest festivals held. We have a great deal to be thankful for - that out splendid Navy is keeping the food routes open, so that supplies can be got to England, and that they are preventing anything like what is happening in the dear Homeland. It would be awful to think that all those horrors of war were happening at home. We thank God they are not allowed to.

"It is getting dark now, but soon after tea we shall be in our bivouacs. We are getting used to sleeping on the hard ground, and as we have two blankets we are all right. The wind howls a bit, but we don't mind that. The flies are not so keen now that the colder weather has come, which is a good thing, as they were a great pest. We have had many flocks of wild geese over lately - I suppose they will be off to their winter quarters. I have seen some nice coloured butterflies and moths, and there are all kinds of insects creeping about at night, but we never trouble about them.

"Many of the ambulance men here are Scotchmen - real broad - and we do laugh at them, especially when they get arguing the point. They are not men for giving much away, and when they get a parcel they never say "Have a toffee,' 'or anything like that. We have also some Beckett's Park men here. We have just had 1d. stick of chocolate given us, sent by Lady Hamilton, wife of General commanding. It was only a bit, but it was a treat, I can tell you."

In a second letter written about the same time Frank says:-
"We have practically been under fire ever since we landed five weeks ago. The shells come whizzing and bursting overhead, and then we have to take cover wherever we can until after the crack. I don't suppose we should get so many shells, but our Artillery are near us on one side, and the warships in the Bay on the other, and it is these that draw the fire. It is fine to see the Navy in action, and when the big guns are going on land and sea it is nearly deafening. We have had a grand view of a night attack. The rockets going up and the searchlights at work were splendid. But a shell burst near us and we had to shift right sharp. When nearer the fighting line we have to do a lot of stretcher work at night. The Turkish snipers are busy, and the bullets come flying all around you, but it is seldom anyone gets hit, and we go on with our work, just as if nothing was happening.

"I had a narrow escape the other day. We were carrying a poor fellow down to the dressing station when a party of Infantry came up alongside us, and the Turks started shelling them with shrapnel and high explosives. Just as we were lowering the stretcher to take cover a piece of shrapnel struck the prro chap on the shoulder. If we had gone another step or so I should most likely have been wounded. Seven of the Infantry were wounded, and we were attending to them under heavy shell fire. The four of us Red Cross men escaped without a scratch. It was really a miracle we escaped. We got the men to the dressing station when the firing had ceased a bit. They had only been out a few days. These are things that happen every day, and we get used to them. Field work is quite different from the hospital work we did at home. This is a bare, barren land, all hills and rocks, and no roads only mule tracks, and it is especially awkward work carrying stretcher, especially in the dark over rocks and gullies. We get a bit of bacon to breakfast and stew for dinner. We are roughing it, and not half, but we are not grumbling. Do not let it trouble you in the least, as I am quite all right, and only giving you an idea of the rough life on the Gallipoli Peninsula. If you care to send anything, let it be sweets or cigs, packed in a strong box."


Wetherby News November 12th 1915



Pte. L. Nightingale, formerly of Wetherby, and a native of Pannal, of the 9th West Yorks. Regt., with the British Mediterranean Force, relates his experiences in the Dardanelles in the following letter to the Rev. M. Rowntree, vicar of Pannal:-

October 22nd., 1915.
Dear Sir, - Having received a letter from home in which they state that you would like to hear from me, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the request. I am still safe and in the best of health, although one must admit to have been blessed by good fortune to have pulled through the many hard times we have had since 6th August, the day on which we effected the new landing at Suvla Bay. We truly have been in the thick of it, and I am sorry to say that most of the young chaps, who were comrades for the whole time we had in training, have fallen heroically in the cause of right and justice. The trials and difficulties that beset you out here are many, the country being very hilly and thick with shrubs. This, of course, is altogether unfavourable to an attacking force, and I feel sure that this accounts for the heavy casualty lists for these parts. It's surprising to us even, when, after a heavy bombardment of the Turkish position - during which time you would think no living being could possibly exist - an attack is made and you are met with a perfect hail of bullets from machine guns and rifles, and also by shells, both high explosive and shrapnel, from the big guns. We have been very quiet for the past few weeks, and since reinforced with drafts from Whitley Bay, have been down at the base, but now we are in reserve, so expect to man the trenches soon. I am sorry to hear that E. Rathmell was killed in action on 21st August out here. He was the only other Pannal lad that I knew of in these quarters. It was a terrible day, and one I shall never forget. We lost very heavily in the attack on ------ position. Now, dear Sir, I think this is all at present, hoping to see you all again in the future. With kindest regards to yourself, also to all people of Pannal.


Wetherby News November 26th 1915



We are in receipt of an interesting letter from Pte. Frank Ridsdale, of the 89th Field Ambulance, with the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in Gallipoli, and like many others who have written us he states with what pleasure it is that he receives a copy of the "News." Writing under date Nov. 2nd he says:-

"I have had nearly two months of it out here now, and judging by the opinion here it is likely to be on a bit yet. I am writing from the base, having come back yesterday from the advanced dressing station nearer the firing line, where I have been for six days. we are here for twelve days, and then go out again. We have three sections in this ambulance, and each section takes six days out in turn. We have to work the Hospital when we come to the Base, and there are generally about 80 patients. We have also trench digging and all kinds of fatigue work.

We have had some badly wounded cases while we have been out at the advance this time. We get them mostly at night, when the Turks' snipers are busy. The poor fellows are brought in straight from the trenches, with the blood and dirt clotted on them. we attend to them if required, and carry them back to another of our dressing stations, about a mile and a half further back, where they are seen by a Medical Officer. Stretcher-bearing here is hard and difficult work, as the country is rough and uneven. There are no roads - only mule tracks - and we have to get them across ditches and trenches, which is awkward at night. The chaps are very thankful for anything we can do for them, and the first thing they ask for is nearly always a cigarette.

We see some horrible sights - some too ghastly to describe. In our Corps we see the grim side of war. Only yesterday two men were passing near to a battery when a shell burst close to them. One was killed instantly, his head being cleaven right into, and the other chap, who was about three yards away, had ten shrapnel wounds. He was brought in and dressed and sent down to the casualty clearing station. They had only been out here a few days. These are things that are happening every day, and we get used to them.

I was pleased a few days ago to get a copy of the "News". It had two of my first letters in from here. Len Fozzard had had it sent out. It was like old times to see news of Wetherby again. The issue was October 1st, I think. I was pleased to see letters in also from L.Paylor and Geo. Miller. I noticed the names of the Wetherby lads wounded out here - some of the pals of my old school-days. I hear there are only a few left here now. I am sorry the casualty list was so heavy, and I know it will have caused grief and sorrow in many a home in Wetherby; I express my deepest sympathy with all concerned. We all know the Wetherby lads would do their best, and I think Wetherby has done its share in sending men.

The weather here is colder now, especially at nights. The last night of October was very wild, and we had a terrible time of it. The wind blew the sand and soil about in great clouds. It was quite a new experience for us all. I suppose this is a very changeable climate. Thirteen of the lads who came out here with us have gone back sick, but I am pleased to say I have had fairly good health since coming out here, and I hope I shall continue to do so. Len Fozzard is keeping well, too. He is with the 88th Field Ambulance, and we often meet when out at the advanced stations, and when at the Base we are quite close to one another, which is very nice.

We are getting bread again now - one loaf between three for the day, but we are very thankful for it, as it is a change from the hard biscuits. we also have a tin of jam between three - that is for breakfast and tea - and for dinner it is the same old stew every day. Some days we have a little boiled rice as well. That is how we live, so we don't do so bad after all. We have to be thankful for small mercies out here. I saw W. Cole the other day - he is quite well.

I suppose there will not be much football at home this season? Let's hope the time will soon come when we can all get back to have a game. I have come across some Garforth and Bowers Allerton lads, and we were talking of the hard games that have been played with Wetherby. If there is a team this season, the best of luck to it. Please remember me kindly to anyone inquiring after me. Best wishes for the "News" and kind regards to yourself. I have just received a letter from home - the first I have had since I came here, and you may be sure I am delighted at having a letter from home."


At night on the 10th December 1915 an evacuation of the whole Gallipoli peninsula was put into operation. 83,048 troops, 186 guns, 1,697 horse-drawn vehicles, 21 motor vehicles and 4,695 horses and mules were withdrawn during the two evacuations which ended in the early hours of 20th December 1915. Not one soldier or sailor was killed in these successful operations which were carefully planned and stealthily executed. The Turkish troops had no inkling of what was afoot until the rearguards were safely afloat in the rescuing ships.

Wetherby News February 25th 1916

The Last to Leave the Peninsula.

In a recent letter home Private L. Fozzard, of the R.A.M.C., son of Mr. and Mrs. Trevor Fozzard, Walton Road, Wetherby, says:-
"we are having a bit of a rest in camp after about ten days of the hardest work anyone could wish to tackle. One day lately, which I shall never forget, the rain simply came down in torrents from 4 p.m. until next morning. It thundered and lightened all the time, and there were hailstones as big as acid drops. Our trench - four feet deep - was filled with water to the top, and the roads and open country were like raging torrents. We lost all our kit, including writing material, so you can guess what a pickle we were in. It was lucky you sent me some paper and envelopes. We were stretcher bearing for four days and nights without a wink of sleep."
In a more recent letter Len writes:-
I am still in the best of health. After evacuation of Suvla Bay we had a week's rest. Then on Boxing Day we were sent to Cape Hellas, and me word, we had a rough time of it there, I was in the evacuation, so I had a double dose of it. I and another of the 88th, with six of the Lowland F.A., were picked out to wait for the rearguard. We were the only R.A.M.C. men left to the last. Just at the last minute we had a stretcher case, so four of us had to carry him to the back - a distance of about four miles. As we were going down, the last of the R.E.'s passed us about two miles from the beach, so were were the very last to come off the Peninsula. Three days afterwards we were complimented on our good work. I saw T. Dawson and F. Brogden the other day."


Parts of Sir Ian Hamilton's despatches about the proceedings in Gallipoli were published in The Wetherby News of the 14th January 1916, to provide the local families some context into what had happened.

Wetherby News January 14th 1916



Included in the lengthy despatch from Sir Ian Hamilton last week end, respecting the operations in Gallipoli, appears the following. Many Wetherby and district men helped to make up the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment, included in the 32nd Brigade.


On the evening of 6th August the 11th Division sailed on its short journey from Imbros (Kephalos) to Suvla Bay, and, meeting with no mischance, the landing took place, the brigades of the 11th Division getting ashore practically simultaneously; the 32nd and 33rd Brigades at B and C beaches, the 34th at A beach.
The surprise of the Turks was complete. At B and C the beaches were found to be admirably suited to their purpose, and there was no opposition. The landing at A was more difficult, both because of the shoal water and because there the Turkish pickets and sentries - the normal guardians of the coast - were on the alert and active. Some of the lighters grounded a good way from the shore, and men had to struggle towards the beach in as much as four feet six inches of water. Ropes in several instances were carried from the lighters to the shore to help sustain the heavily accoutred infantry. To add to the difficulties of the 34th Brigade the lighters came under flanking rifle fire from the Turkish outposts at Lala Baba and Ghazi Baba. The enemy even, knowing every inch of the ground, crept down in the very dark night on to the beach itself, mingling with our troops and getting between our firing line and its supports. Fortunately the number of these enterprising foes was but few, and an end was soon put to their activity on the actual beaches by the sudden storming of Lala Baba from the south. This attack was carried out by the 9th West Yorkshire Regiment and the 6th Yorkshire regiment, both of the 32nd Brigade, which had landed at B beach and marched up along the coast. The assault succeeded at once and without much loss, but both battalions deserve great credit for the way it was delivered in the inky darkness of the night.


The 32nd Brigade was now pushed on to the support of the 34th Brigade, which was held up by another outpost of the enemy on Hill 10, and it is feared that some of the losses incurred here were due to misdirected fire. While this fighting was still in progress the 11th Batt. Manchester Regiment, of the 34th Brigade, was advancing northwards in very fine style, driving the enemy oppsoed to them back along the ridge of the Karakol Dagh towards the Kiretch Tepe Sirt. Beyond doubt these Lancashire men earned much distinction, fighting with great pluck and grit against an enemy not very numerous perhaps, but having an immense advantage in knowing of the ground. As they got level with Hill 10 it grew light enough to see, and the enemy began to shell. No one seems to have been present who could take hold of the two brigades, the 32nd and 34th, and launch them in a concerted and cohesive attack. Consequently there was confusion and hesitation, increased by gorse fires lit by hostile shell, but redeemed, I am proud to report, by the conspicuously fine, soldierly conduct of several individual battalions. The whoe of the Turks locally available were by now in the field, and they were encouraged to counter-attack by the signs of hesitation, but the 9th Lancashire Fusiliers and the 11th Manchester Regiment took them on with the bayonet, and fairly drove them back in disorder over the flaming Hill 10. As the infantry were thus making good, the two Highland Mountain batteries and one battery, 59th Brigade, Royal Field Artillery, were landed at B beach. Day was now breaking, and with the dawn sailed into the bay six battalions of the 10th Division under Brigadier-General Hill, from Mitylene.


Further on in his despatch, Sir Ian, after speaking of hesitation and delay on the part of the Commander, by which a whole day was lost, says:-
Accompanied by Commodore Roger Keyes and Lieutenant-Colonel Aspinall, of the Headquarters General Staff, I landed on the beach, where all seemed quiet and peaceful, and saw the Commander of the 11th Division, Major General Hammersley. I warned him the sands were running out fast, and that by dawn the high ground to his front might very likely be occupied in force by the enemy. He saw the danger, but declared that it was a physical impossibility, at so late an hour (6 p.m.) to get out orders for a night attack, the troops being very much scattered. There was no other difficulty now, but this was insuperable; he could not recast his orders or get them round to his troops in time. But one brigade, the 32nd, was, so General Hammersley admitted, more or less concentrated and ready to move. The General Staff Officer of the Division, Colonel Neil Malcolm, a soldier of experience, on whose opinion I set much value, was consulted. He agreed that the 32nd Brigaded was now in a position to act. I therefore issued a direct order that, even if it were only with the 32nd Brigade, the advance should bein at the earliest possible moment, so that a portion at least of the 11th Division should anticipate the Turkish reinforcements on the heights and dig themselves in there upon some good tactical point.
In taking upon myself the serious responsibility of thus dealing with a detail of divisional tactics I was careful to limit the scope of interference. Beyond directing that the one brigade which was reported ready to move at once should try and make good the heights before the enemy got on to them I did nothing, and said not a word calculated to modify or in any way affect the attack already planned for the morning. Out of the thirteen battalions which were to have advanced against the heights at dawn, four were now to anticipate that movement by trying to make good the key of the enemy's position at once, and under cover of darkness.


I have not been able to get a clear and coherent account of the doings of the 32nd Brigade, but I have established the fact that it did not actually commence its advance till 4 a.m. of the 9th of August. The reason given is that the units of the Brigade were scattered. In General Stopford's despatch he says that "One Company of the 6th East Yorkshire Pioneer Battalion succeeded in getting to the top of the hill north of Anafarta Sagir, but the rest of the Battalion and the 32nd Brigade were attacked from both flanks during their advance, and fell back to a line north and south of Sulajik. Very few of the leading company, or the Royal Engineers who accompanied it, got back, and that evening the strength of the Battalion was nine officers and 380 men."
After their retirement from the hill north of Anafarta Sagir (which commanded the whole battlefield), this 32dn Brigade then still marked the high-water mark of the advance made at dawn by the rest of the division. When their first retirement was completed, they had to fall back further, so as to come into line with the most forward of their comrades. The inference seems clear. Just as the 32nd Brigade in their advance met with markedly less opposition that the troops who attacked an hour and a half later, so, had they themselves started earlier, they would probably have experienced less opposition. Further, it seems reasonable to suppose that had the complete division started at 4 a.m. on the 9th, or, better still, at 10 p.m. on the 8th, they would have made good the whole of the heights in front of them.
That night I stayed at Suvla, preferring to drop direct cable contact with my operations as a whole to lsing touch with a corps battle which seemed to be going wrong.

At dawn on the 9th I watched General Hammersley's attack, and very soon realised by the well sustained artillery fire of the enemy (so silent the previous day), and the volume of the musketry, that Turkish reinforcements had arrived; that with the renewed confidence caused by our long delay, the guns had been brought back; and that, after all, we were forestalled. This was a bad moment. Our attack failed; our losses were very serious. The enemy's enfilading shrapnel fire seemed to be especially destructive and demoralising, the shell bursting low and all along our line. Time after time it threw back our attack just as it seemed on the point of making good. The 33rd Brigade at first made most hopeful progress in its attempt to seize Ismail Oglu Tepe. Some of the leading troops gained the summit, and were able to look over on to the other side. Many Turks were killed here. Then the centre seemed to give way. Whether this was the result of the shrapnel fire, or whether, as some say, an order to retire came up from the rear, the result was equally fatal to success. As the centre fell back the steady, gallany behavious of the 6th Battalion Border Regiment, and the 6th Battalion Lincoln Regiment, on either flank was especially noteworthy. Scrub fires on Hill 70 did much to harass and hamper our troops. When the 32nd Brigade fell back before attacks from the slopes of the hill north of Anfarta Sagir and from the direction of Abrijka, they took up the line north and south through Sulajik. Here their left was protected by two battalions of the 34th Brigade, which came up to their support. The line was later on proleaged by the remainder of the 34th Brigade and two battalions of the 159th Brigade of the 53rd Division. Their right was connected with the Chocolate Hills by the 33rd Brigade on the position to which they had returned after their repulse from the upper slopes of Ismail Oglu Tepe.


All commentators on the Gallipoli battles seem to agree that poor planning, a breakdown in command, the local losses of many officers and the delay in getting troops from the beaches and low lying land onto the surrounding heights significantly contributed to the failure of the Suvla landings. General Stopford is blamed for the failure but responsibility ultimately lay with Lord Kitchener who, as Secretary of State for War, had appointed the elderly and inexperienced general to an active corps command, and with Sir Ian Hamilton who accepted Stopford's appointment and then failed to impose his will on his subordinate. On 13 August Hamilton had written in his diary, "Ought I have resigned sooner than allow generals old and inexperienced to be foisted up on me." By then it was too late and Stopford's departure contributed to Hamilton's downfall which came on 15 October when he was sacked as the commander of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.

Under General de Lisle's command, the Suvla front was reorganised and reinforced with the arrival of the 29th Division from Helles and the 2nd Mounted Division from Egypt (minus their horses). The fighting climaxed on 21 August with the Battle of Scimitar Hill, the largest battle of the Gallipoli campaign. When it too failed, activity at Suvla subsided into sporadic fighting until it was evacuated by the British in late December. Conditions during the summer had been appalling because of heat, flies, and lack of sanitation. On 15 November there was a deluge of rain and again on 26/27 November a major rainstorm flooded trenches up to 4 feet deep. This was succeeded by a blizzard of snow and two nights of heavy frost. At Suvla, 220 men drowned or froze to death and there were 12,000 cases of frostbite or exposure. In surprising contrast to the campaign itself, the withdrawals from Gallipoli were well planned and executed, with many successful deceptions to prevent the Turks realising that withdrawals were taking place. Minimal losses were experienced, and many guns and other equipment were also taken off. [Adapted from Wikipedia]

After evacuation, the West Yorkshires went to Egypt to reorganise and refit. The following letter describes some of their experiences in Egypt.

Wetherby News February 18th 1916

Wetherby Lads in Egypt.

Pte. Frank Ridsdale, writing on Jan. 30th to thank us for the "Wetherby News" Xmas gift, says:-
"Many thanks for your gift, which I was pleased to receive two days ago. It is nice to think we are not forgotten, though so far away from the old town, and we are always pleased to see a copy of the "News" to know how things are going on at home. We received a copy of two while we were on Lemnos Island, where it was my great pleasure to meet Fred Dawson and Fred Brogden again. They are both quite better of their wounds, and looking A1. We were all delighted at meeting again. It was on Xmas Day, and we had all the news over. I also saw W. Cole there; he was quite well. We are now near to -------. We arrived here about ten ago. We came across on the ------, but had not a very pleasant journey, owing to the danger of submarines, and had to wear life-belts the whole journey. We were three days on the water.I am pleased to say the life-belts were not needed. We left Dawson and Brogden at Lemnos; they may probably be here by now. Len Fozzard is here with the 88th Ambulance. It is nice for us both to meet again and be together for a time. He is quite well. I understand that Harry Wiseman and Harry Patrick are at ------, and will try to find them before we leave. I don't know how long we shall be here, or where our next move is. There are rumours of going to -----, but have heard nothing official yet. Was pleased to receive two parcels from home this week, and these have been eagerly looked for. I have had my Christmas cake this time on the sands of Egypt. One parcel was sent off on Nov. 9th, so it will give you some idea of the delay and uncertainty of the mails out here; but there is a much better service now, and we are hoping to get them fairly regular. We hear that a big mail outward bound has been sunk, We all look forward to the mails coming in, as it is nice to have a letter, etc. Alexandria is a beautiful city, with fine street, lined with lovely palm trees, etc., and splendid buildings and houses. We had a great reception as we marched through the city to camp. We are on the shores of the Mediterranean, and the sand is nice and soft to lie on after being on the hard ground all the time. There are some fine mosques here; they are beautiful inside. The sights of Egypt are very interesting, and the tall palms standing out of the sand look very well. The camels are quite at home here. The weather is beautiful to-day, and the sun shining brilliantly; quite different from a few days ago, when we had a big storm and nearly all the tents blown down. You would all be pleased to know we got safely away from the Peninsula at the evacuation. One lad from Beckett's Park was wounded, but not serious. Of the original party of 60 that left Leeds in August, there are 25 left out here; the others have been sent away sick and wounded. We are a happy little party that are left, and cheerfully facing the discomforts and hardships, and as long as we are in good health we don't mind these at all. Will close with all best wishes to the Wetherby lads, who are nobly doing their duty in France and elsewhere."


A year after the battles, and eight months after the evacuation from Gallipoli, many families had been hoping and praying that their missing relatives were somehow still alive, perhaps as prisoners of war. This article summarises the efforts made to track the missing men, but concludes that there is no hope of any of them being found alive. The reports then list individuals who were now deemed to have been killed in action.

Wetherby News August 4th 1916



In the House of Commons on Tuesday Mr. Forster said that the Turks reported that they had 19 officers and 359 of other ranks as prisoners of war. The net number of missing, after allowing for the men reported killed in Gallipoli, was now 290 officers and 9,700 men. The Army Council had referred the list of prisoners to the United States Embassy at Constantinople for further check, and they were satisfied that there was no ground for hoping that there were other prisoners who had not been reported, and it was consequently decided that the missing officers and men not accounted for must be officially accepted as dead.

It is thus feared that many of the Wetherby boys who were then reported missing have lost their lives in the landing on the 6th to 8th August last, at Suvla Bay. In fact we understand that some of the Wetherby parents have already received notice that they may consider their boys are dead. As we were informed at the time in a couple of letters from Gallipoli, one of which we did not publish, thinking it unwise to unduly alarm the parents, the Wetherby and district lads had very little chance to escape if wounded, for the scrub caught fire and many were burned. Our deepest sympathy, therefore goes out to the parents and relatives of the missing, who are still hoping, almost against hope, that something may yet be heard of their dear ones.

All the reports show that the local lads fought most gallantly at Suvla Bay, and when war closes we trust that a suitable memorial to their memory and gallant deeds will be erected in Wetherby, and also to the many other bits in our district who are now falling in France.

The following is a list of those reported missing a year ago:-

[There then follows a list which includes:]
Pte. Harry Taylor, only son of Mr. and Mrs. E. Taylor; employed before the war by Mr. J.T. Allan, butcher, Wetherby.

Pte. Allan Wilson, only son of Mr. T. wilson, former schoolmaster, and of Mrs. Wilson. Allan was for some time an employee at the "News" Office, and afterwards took up farming, which was more to his liking.

[List contains: ]
Pte. W.H. Johnson, one of several brothers in the Army, of Collingham.

G.H. March, Micklethwaite, was drowned off Gallipoli.


Privates Taylor, Wilson and Johnson mentioned here all have their own pages on this web site.
There was a mistaken belief that George Haddington March (see his page) who served in the Royal Navy had been killed in the Gallipoli campaign. At the time the Navy, for security reasons, would not confirm where ships were serving and the naval nature of the Gallipoli campaign, and the dates of death made people conclude that he was killed near Gallipoli. As his record makes clear, George Haddington March was killed in action on HMS Mohawk in the Dover Straits after the ship hit a mine.