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smithy

Kut POW

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smithy

I am in the last throes of tracing what happened to Acting Bombarbier Albert Smith (29360) of the 10th Brigade 63bty RFA. He was taken prisoner at Kut and is buried in the North Gate cemetry in Baghdad. I have now got a copy of his death certificate which says he died on 28th August 1916 of Enteritis whilst a POW in Turkey. It does not say exactly where. I realise that prisoners got split up but I just wondered if Albert managed to stay with his mates and maybe some one has details of a relative who was with the same regiment. Is there any info of where the POW camps were in Turkey? It would be so nice to sow up the loose ends. It has been a revealing and emotional exercise researching such a little known episode in our history.

Thanks

Ever hopefull

Smithy

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Chris_Baker

Although this is not an area I am particularly expert in, I have placed two relevant book reviews on the site that you might find interesting/useful. Go to www.1914-1918.net and click on Book Reviews.

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MartinWills

Many prisoners of the Turks (from Gallipoli and Kut and elsewhere) were used as labour by the Turks in building the railway (the tunnels in particular) through the Taurus mountains. The work was tough and the conditions harsh and prisoners died and were buried at camp(s) along the line. One such camp was at Hajdschiri (spellings vary). Seemingly these burials were concentrated to Baghdad North Gate Cemetery. I hope this helps. It is a very poorly documented aspect of the campaigns in that area and I, for one, would like to know more.

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Marc Thompson

Smithy,

Just a small snippet of information which may or may not prove useful.

Not a relative I know but I have come across a Gunner 73429 Allan Parsons who also served 10th Brigade RFA (82nd Battery not 63rd). He too was taken prisoner after the fall of Kut and died of sickness on 29th August 1916 and was initially buried close to the prison camp at Anatolia where he died. After the armistice his body was exhumed with many others and re-interred at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery.

Regards

Marc

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MartinWills

Marc's note adds to my supposition that a number of cemeteries from what one might call work camps as much as prisoner of war camps were concentrated to Baghdad (North Gate). If anyone knows of the names of these camps/cemeteries I would appreciate the info as I have started to try and compile a full list of these concentrations, or any others from Turkish POW camps, following some encouragement from Terry Denham.

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HERITAGE PLUS

I have come across POWs from KUT who were at Adana POW Camp. I will check my info at home (I'm currently in the office) for burial details.

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Raster Scanning

An RGA Kut POW I once researched died in a Turkish camp in Angora.

John

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Andrew P
Marc's note adds to my supposition that a number of cemeteries from what one might call work camps as much as prisoner of war camps were concentrated to Baghdad (North Gate). If anyone knows of the names of these camps/cemeteries I would appreciate the info as I have started to try and compile a full list of these concentrations, or any others from Turkish POW camps, following some encouragement from Terry Denham.

Martin

Would you be interested in reading Pte Lushington's account of his prisoner experience in Turkey? If you are I'll photocopy it and send it across.

Lushington was captured on the first day at Gallipoli and was a member of the 16th Bn AIF.

Cheers

Andrew

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Ian C

I am researching John Quinby, 1st Battalion Ox & Bucks who died while a POW on 4/6/16 and is buried at Mosul. Does anyone have any info on this battalion etc.

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smithy

Many thanks everyone for the useful responses. The Anatolia region of Turkey and the towns of Angora and Adana are well inside the modern day border of Turkey. I can't find any place name like Hajdschiri on the modern map. It got me wondering if the border has changed since 1916.

I would certainly be interested in Heritage Plus' info on Adana camp. Also Andrew's info from Pte Lushington's experiences.

I will certainly keep you posted if I come up with any definite POW camp details. I have discovered that the Swiss Red Cross hold records of POWs in Turkey but will not allow public access until 100 years have passed. They will however, allow you to engage one of their researchers for a fee. Once I've exhausted other avenues I'll bite the bullet and use their researchers.

Thanks again

Smithy

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Marc Thompson

A rather interesting culinary footnote to this Kut thread. When the surviving Kut prisoners of war from 1/4th Hants met in 1919 for a commemorative dinner in Winchester the menu (attack orders) was as follows:

Mule Tail Soup

Roast (4th) Hampshire Hog

Steak and Kidney Pie (Busra Flavour)

Kut Grass, Roots, etc

Plum Pudding and Tigris Water Sauce

Mespot Jelly

Yesac Blancmange

"Yallah" Cheese

Unfortunately, less than 40 men survived to enjoy this feast. The nominal roll at the time of the fall of Kut on 29th April 1916 was about 160.

Regards

Marc

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MartinWills

Oh Dear, finding small villages is never easy in rural Turkey.

Hadschkiri, as Bean, the Aussie historian, spells it is in Antolia in the Taurus mountains near the Cicilian Gates (a principal pass over the mountains). As well as the Allied POW cemetery there was (and is?) a German cemetery there as well. Adana will put you on the right track and follow the railway line from there (if it is on your map). The line is the Baghdad to Ankara to Istanbul railway, or, as the Germans would have it, the Berlin to Baghdad Railway! The line runs from Adana to Yenice and then climbs up to around 4000 ft above sea level and the little and isolated village of Belemedik (1970's spelling). Hadschkiri is high up in the moutains somewhere.

Bean relates an interesting tale of a trip of this line in 1919 in his excellent account "Gallipoli Mission"

Hope this helps.

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MartinWills

I think I have cracked this one and here are a few helpful web pages.

As ever the railway fraternity, who probably are as great a bunch of anoraks as we are have some helpful info on the web.

A little bit about the line in the Taurus mountains which the prisoners worked on can be found at:

http://www.trainsofturkey.com/cilician_g.htm

It also gives the current name for Hadschkiri which appears to be Hacýkýrý

The page gives some excellent pictures of the railway which are truly breathtaking and is well worth a look. It is in english!

If you explore the Trains of Turkey pages you will also find maps and all sorts of other info about the line, including a list of tunnels over 2km in Anatolia!

Looking through my own collection of period postcards I have found a picture of rolling stock on the line in 1918/19 under allied occupation and you may be interested to know that in 1970 the British record company ARGO (part of Decca) issued a record called "The World of Steam" which includes December 1969 stereo recordings of steam engines at Belemedik and Yenice (but then you all wanted to know that, didn't you).

Apparently even in 1969 Belemedik could only be reached by donkey track or railway which gives some idea of the remoteness of the area.

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smithy

Yes Martin has come up trumps with the Railways of Turkey web site. It's very interesting. I have e-mailed the site to ask if they have any info on POW camps in WW1. I got a reply immediatley saying that he has no record of any POW camps. However, he is most interested in WW1 and it's effect on the area. He also sent me a schematic map of the Turkish railway system as of 1918. It has the two tunnel sites marked that were finished during the war one in the Taurus mountains north of Adana and the other in the Amanus mountains east of Adana. If anyone is interested in seeing it I'll e-mail the file.

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Guest lesley

dear Ian,

The 1st bn OBLI were in Ahmednagar, India attached to 17th Indian brigade which was part of the 6th Poona division( was formed on Bombay and ordered to mesepotamia where it remained.)

1st bn moved to Mesepotamia 27th Nov 1914

29th April 1916 bn fought Turks in Mesepotamia, suffered heavy casualties& were besieged at Kut were they were starved into surrenderand captured at Kut el amara. Of 300 men taken prisoner only 90 survived.

A provisional bn was formed in Jan 1916 from reinforcements at wadi which was attached to the 28th indian brigade in 7th indian division. this provisional Bn was renamed 1st bn on 6th July 1916

19th october 1917 Bn was transferred to 50th indian brigade, 15th indian division.

they remained in mesepotamia throughout the war, which for the 1st bn ended at Hit, north west of Baghdad 30th oct 1918

I would be grateful for any information you have on John Quinby as I'm researching other ranks in OBLI

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MartinWills

The OBLI Chronicle is a useful source of OBLI info. 1914-1915 covers both 1st & 2nd Bttns and a resume of other battalions activities and includes extracts from various officers diaries. I am not familiar with the later years but guess they are also useful.

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MartinWills

I have just turned up some more background info on Turkish Prisoners of War in Chris Pugsley's brilliant and definitive Gallipoli - The New Zealand Story.

I hope the precis below will prove of interest and give an inkling of the conditions prisoners had to endure. At least they got paid for the tunnelling work. The tale will provoke a few question, but I doubt they can be answered. The refernce to a Norfolk officer is interesting, but there is no indicationif this was by regiment or residence. I do know, however, that one 1/5th Norfolk officer survived captivity. He was a Northampton solicitor and it is conceivable he was the man to whom Surgenor refers, but we will probably never know.

Pugsley relates in a brief appendix that at Gallipoli that 25 New Zealanders were taken prisoner in all; one on the first day; 21 during the battle for Chunuk Bair and three during the attacks onHill 60.

All were wounded when captured; 6 were to die in captivity and one died after repatriation.

The account of Private William Robert Surgenor captured at Chunk Bair underlines the harsh conditions. The Turkish assualt was brutal with club and bayonet to the fore in dealing with wounded NZ and wounded who tried to get up were immediately killed. Surgenor was bayonetted in the arm.

At a Turkish dressing station a German Corporal safeguarded his passage and he found himself on a transport to Constantinople. After a spell in a Maltese hospital with Lt. Stone (Worcesters) he was moved to a punishment hospital (where Enver Pasha visited). Here there were no beds - just one mattress and a cloth to three men. Surgenors appalling wounds were only dressed every 3 or 4 days; one orderly per 100 men daelt with this assisted by a Norfolk officer. He moved on to a vermin infested Constantinople prison with no space to lie down before moving on to Angora and marching 100km to Changri (vermin infested barracks).

From here he moved to Belemidik (see earlier post) working on tunelling construction for a German Company and was paid 2/- (10p) a day. Food was better there but he contracted fever and moved to Afion.

At Afion camp the Turks took young fellows by force away to the officer's quarters. Ths chaps had no option. They would come back looking horribly ashamed and would talk to no one. Those who tried to escape were sent to "hell-hole" prisons. Work consisted of carrying stone, with encouragement by whipping. British prisoners here were lucky - the Russians were bastinadoed.

He moved on to road works at Adapazari with 114 m3n in a 30ft x 30ft house with no heating despite winter snow, He moved on to Sans Stefano working for the Germans loading waggons and carpentering and was sent to prison for two days for "shirking". He shared with 2 Turks. There was no toilet or cleaning - you urinated against the door or out of the window. One Turk was suffering from VD and was treating facial symptoms by himself.

Surgenor was at Sans Stefano when the armistice was declared and managed to get away to Constantinople.

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Dogan Sahin

I have just turned up some more background info on Turkish Prisoners of War in Chris Pugsley's brilliant and definitive Gallipoli - The New Zealand Story.

Hi all,

Although this is an old thread, I felt compelled to write. It is highly likely that you have some results by now. I am working on POWS held in Afion Karahisar camp in Turkey and It seems that there were a few NZ captives along with entire crew of AE2 submarine, some crews of English Submarines E15, E7, E20 and E14. There were also POWs from Kut Ela amara (mostly klept in Ankara but some servants in Afion), some crew of French Subs Mariotte and Saphir and Russian prisoners. I have easily found the crew list of AE2 and some photos and a photo of a dath of French prisoner in Afion. Some of the prisoners would be transferred to tunnel building. There were camps in Kastamonu, Eskisehir, Capadoccia, Cankiri, Afion, Sivas, Yozgat, Hacikiri, Belemedik are some I found out about. I am still seeking printable photos, notes though, if anyone could be of help.. Also below is info on a couple of prisoners kept in Amanos Mountains, (close to capadoccia-where interestingly enough the prisoners formed a Masonic lodge amongst themselves!))

2812 Trooper (Tpr) Reuben John Blechynden, Imperial Camel Corps, from Bridgetown, Western Australia, on left, and 1351 Signaller (Sig) Duncan Leslie Richardson, 1st Light Horse Regiment, from Broken Hill, NSW, on right. Tpr Blechynden enlisted on 1 March 1916 at the age of 16 and embarked for overseas with the 10th Light Horse Regiment on 17 July 1916 aboard RMS Mongolia. He was captured at Gaza on 19 April 1918 and held as a POW in Yarbaschi, Amanus District, Turkey. On 7 August 1918.

Please contact me directly if you would like to contribute or wish me to contribute in any manner. I live in Afion and have the photos of places (well, some) where those people were kept.

Regards.

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Jo Mortimer

I discovered today that my paternal grandfather was a POW survivor (Dorsetshire regiment) of Kut. Sadly I never knew him as he died in 1954, but I had been told that he had been 'force marched across a desert' during the 1stWW - I had no idea what he had actually survived!

Is there anywhere I might find information about all the survivors from The Dorsetshire Regiment?

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smithy

It has only taken me 13 years to find the answer to my original question! My Kut survivor who died as a POW in Turkey and is now in the Baghdad North Gate Cemetery was originally exhumed from Baghche (mis-transcribed as Baghtche which was near Constantinople). Baghche is not shown on modern maps but it was near the town of Duzuci. I note that many of those now in the Baghdad North Gate Cemetery in Plot 21 Row F were exhumed from there. Looking at the old maps on the Trains of Turkey web site I note that the Berlin to Baghdad line seems to pass close by.

Hopes this helps.

I have now noticed that in the exhumation notes from the misnamed Baghche which I believe to be Duzuci there is a note "Vendrease headstone buried near this spot " to be E.  This led me to Islahiye ( to SE of the larger town). The railway from here now enters Iran towards Aleppo so little chance of visiting this area. If anyone can cast any light on Vendrease I would be most grateful.

Edited by smithy
Update info

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Maureene

There is a FIBIS Fibiwiki page Prisoners of the Turks (First World War)

http://wiki.fibis.org/index.php/Prisoners_of_the_Turks_(First_World_War)

From this page:

Bagtsche was a railway work camp, under control of the German construction company, in the Amanus Mountains, (now Nur Mountains).

From links on the Fibiwiki page

http://www.gutenberg-e.org/steuer/steuer/archive/AppendixA/Turkish%20Prison%20Camps/prison_shell.html?Bagtche Bagtche

If you click on the map you will see camps marked, and from another link Bagtche is Camp No 7

Cheers

Maureen

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Passey

Having just found an ancestor who was a POW at Baghche/Baghtche in 1916 and died there, I was glad to find this thread. Following up on the last two posts from Smithy (#20) and Maureen (#21), could the location be Bahçe, Osmaniye, Turkey?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A7e,_Osmaniye

http://tinyurl.com/zjtluk4 (link to google maps)

Looking more closely on google maps the railway line passes through the town and the satellite image shows a rail tunnel on the eastern side of the town. This fits with the description given in the second link from Maureen's post (#21) that mentions the digging of a 12 mile tunnel. The location also seems to fit with the position of prison camp 7 on the accompanying map on that webpage.

Interested to hear what you think.

Cheers

Simon

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stevebecker

Dogan,

Your ICC prisoner was one of 22 captured in and around the Tank redoubt at 2nd Gaza.

BLECHYNDEN Reuben John 2812 Pte Clerk age 21 Bridgetown WA (3 years 25th LH WAMI) Enl 1-3-16 in 12R/28Bn Emb 19R/10 LHR. 3 LHTR 12-8-16 to CTU 9-9-16 to 1Bn 3Co 10-10-16 WIA 19-4-17 2nd Gaza PoW 19-4-17 held Yarbaschi prison Amanus District Turkey RTA 5-12-18 "Caledonia" RTA 25-3-19 "Ascanius" reported real age 16 photo AWM also photo of PoWs him with Richardson 1 LHR

Part of the story I wrote;

The 1st Anzac Camel Battalion’s attack

The main attack by the Camel Brigade would be made by the 1st Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel George Langley, who deployed the 2nd Company under Captain Archie Campbell on the left with the 4th Company under Captain Herbert Denson on the right, the 3rd Company under Captain Fred Naylor in support, while Captain Walter Cashman’s 1st Company (less two sections guarding the field ambulance and Hong Kong and Singapore Battery) were held in reserve, in all the Battalion numbered not more then 360 men in the firing line.

The battle plan called for the 1st Battalion to “Move on to the ridge on the right of the 163rd Brigade, the left battalion in the Camel Brigade will advance and conform to the movement of that Brigade.” which meant the 1st battalion would advance with the 163rd Brigade, which had placed its jump off tapes about 200 yards in front of the 2nd Company, their right flank Battalion was the 1/5th Norfolk, which would act as the guide for our advance as Divisional orders called for the Camel companies to bypass the main redoubt, as it would be secured by the British infantry, while the Camel companies would push on to secure the defences to the rear of the redoubt.

On Thursday the 19th April, the cold morning air was broken by the sound of heavy guns with Zero hour at 5.30 am, this preparation bombardment was to last for two hours as they pounded the redoubts along the main Turkish line, assisted by the navy and concentrating there fire on Gaza and the strong defences of Ali Muntar. At 7.20 am the Divisional 18 pdr Batteries took over laying down fire on the main points to be attacked, the display was quite impressive except was later found that most of the shells had missed there intendant targets.

At Zero hour plus two (7.30 am), the word was given to advance and the tank allocated to the attack moved from behind Dumbell Hill into a position in between the 1/5th Norfolk’s and the 1st Battalion. This tank was a MK1 female called HMLS Nutty, under command of 2/Lieutenant Frank Carr and his crew of seven men, it moved off to the rear of and between the 1st Battalion and 1/5th Norfolk’s still due to a small wadi it was forced to the right, crossing behind the 1st Battalion in front of Sheikh Abbas ridge, as it then moved towards the objective to the north-west back across the front of the 1st Battalion as it advanced to catch up with the 1/5th Norfolk’s.

The 2nd Company had moved off promptly at 7.30 to cover the 2000 yards they would need to traverse before reaching the enemy trenches, only first they had to align themselves with the 1/5th Norfolk, still carrying the weight of 300 rounds of ammunition (Camel brigade SOP) and stores of a pick and shovel per three men and over the soft sand quickly exhausted the men (this was exceeding the load authorized in Divisional orders by General Hare of 150 rounds per man or the 250 rounds in the Imperial Mounted Division orders). The infantry with a shorter distance to travel kept up a strong pace forcing the cameleers to continue moving and not to advance by section rushes. The leading companies were deployed on a section front with three extended lines in each section, Lewis guns were placed to the right of the second line as the companies moved from artillery formation into extended order after moving a few hundred yards.

The enemy had quickly spotted the advance of our troops and the Tank and laid a sporadic fire along the line of advancing men, a number were hit still the men pushed on under the steady fire of shell and machine gun. About 8 am the 1st Battalion was rejoined by HMLS Nutty which had moved across their front from the right and soon attracted the attention of a number of enemy Batteries which began to pound the area around the tank and the companies of the 1st Battalion and 5th Norfolk’s, this fire was both heavy and extremely accurate and it appeared to the men to be singling out individuals, the enemy had plenty of time to range the ground and its shooting showed its expertise, and it was said by the soldiers of the Camel Brigade, “to be the finest bit of shooting they had ever seen” with the enemy never wasting a shell, moreover it was under this now continuous fire that the 2nd company were forced to shift to their left as they followed in the wake of the tank.

The men had closed in behind the tank for protection from the fusillade except it only served as a focal point to the enemy gunners, as they struggled under the weight of there loads and the enemies salvos, the infantry was still in front of the cameleers and fell in behind the tank as it passed them while the 2nd company had to kept on the move till a small sand ridge was gained about 8.15 am.

This small ridge was between 350 to 500 yards from the enemy redoubt and there the shattered and exhausted remnants of the two Battalions took shelter as the tank was hit and lost direction in a small wadi between the ridge and the redoubt. Meanwhile Captain Campbell sent orders back to the 3rd Company, to conform to him, as the 4th company had disappeared to his right in the smoke and dust and his own company was severely hit. Meanwhile Captain Birbeck OC A Company 5thNorfolk’s gathered his survivers around him as the remainder of his battalion took cover.

The 163rd Brigade, at this time committed the two companies (A and B) of the 1/8th Hants Battalion, which had been in support, to assist with the 5th Norfolk’s, while the other two companies (C and D) were supporting the 4th Norfolk’s, only A and B companies were decimated in moving forward trying to reach the 5th Norfolk’s and barely a few gallant men of the right flanking companies struggled through the fire to reinforce the beleaguer force, these joined the remainder of the Norfolk’s and Camel companies around 08.30 am.

Meanwhile the advance by the 4th company and Battalion Headquarters had been drawn to the east to adhere to orders to bypass the redoubt and conform with the 11th company only the heavy cross fire had forced them to seek cover in a small wadi which ran to west off of the main Wadi Sihan just as the 2nd company had been drawn west towards the 163rd Brigade, a gap was now created between his forward companies and Lieutenant Colonel Langley was forced to committed his small reserve of two sections of the 1st Company, under Captain Cashman, to fill this gap. In the meanwhile the 3rd company had struggled forward to support Captain Campbell and under heavy shell fire had followed the line of bodies belonging to the 2nd company. They reached the small sand ridge shortly after 8.30 am which was occupied by the sheltering 2nd Company and the remains of the 5th Norfolk’s and 8th Hants and soon became embroiled in the fight with the Turkish defences, in which both companies were heavily hit by the enemies fire and suffered many casualties with Captain Naylor wounded, yet continued to lead.

Around 8.40 am the tank HMLS Nutty appeared again under a cloud of dust and exploding shells driving straight for the redoubt, seeing this Captain Campbell decided that he could no longer follow his orders and bypass the redoubt, however now must make a dash and secure the fortification.

He lined a number of Lewis gunners along the top of the small ridge and using there fire ordered the men to advance, both the 2nd and 3rd companies fixed bayonets and rose to the attack. These companies had started the day with a little over one hundred men in both, now barely half that number had survived, and as the Turkish fire hit these heroes that number was again sadly reduced, still they surged on and made the Turkish line under a volley of rifle fire and with the help of soldiers from the 5th Norfolk and 8th Hants, set about clearing the trenches “with the bayonet”. The wounded Captain Naylor had insisted in leading his men forward, only to be shot in the head on reaching the enemies trenches, in a life or death struggle to capture it, the death of Captain Naylor, who had never been well esteemed by his men after an incident at Sollum in 1916, only after this day that view changed.

The Turks which occupied this part of the redoubt put up a stout defence, only the shock of the tank, and the aggressive attitude of our troops, proved to much for them, as they broke and ran back to their rear defences, some throwing away their weapons still between 20 and 50 Turks were captured, 20 prisoners by Sergeant Joseph Pearson B Company 8th Hants, these prisoners were promptly gathered and sent to the rear under guard of several wounded men from the British and Camel companies except few survived the bullet swept ground of no man’s land.

Meanwhile the redoubt at this time was a scene of chaos, as the tank was under close fire by two four gun batteries, this intensity continued as the tank belching fire and smoke had entered the redoubt dealing with enemy machine guns, except bellied in the first trench where it was then seen to be hit by three HE shells, which broke its track and bust into flames, forcing its abandonment by the brave crew, and so it was left as a target for the enemy gunners, however thanks to the tank the damage had been done and our small forces had secured a vital tenure in the redoubt by 9 am.

Captain Campbell now took control of the survivors and with only about thirty men remaining of the two Camel companies he placed the remnants of the 2nd company in the centre and the stronger 3rd company on the right flank, still most of the men were mixed together and fought with who ever took command. On one flank Sergeant Charlie Greenway, who had taken command of his section after the officer was wounded, continued to fire on the panicked Turks as they raced to the rear.

Meanwhile on the left flank the remainder of the British Battalions, in all about twenty or more men, under Captain Blyth B Company 5th Norfolk’s, occupied and extended their hold in the trench and formed a defence, following the death of Lieutenant Colonel Bernard Grissell DSO. These measures were necessary as there were not enough men to control the whole redoubt, so it had to be held by a number of strong points. In the centre Campbell placed six Lewis guns along the exposed top of the trench to keep any Turkish counterattack to the flanks. The enemy had now retired to their secondary defences, which were still on a higher elevation to our men and there poured a strong fire into our positions.

During the morning the endurance of Captain Campbell and his men was tested under the increasing pressure of the enemy, six runners were dispatched back to Lieutenant Colonel Langley all requesting reinforcement and ammunition, still none arrived in time, all disappeared in the exposed ground between the redoubt and our lines. One man Private Edward Richardson, carried a message out and after going 50 yards was shot three times and despite these serious wounds crawled back with his message arriving to late, and Corporal Bill Hope the Battalion Signal Corporal, was killed carrying such a massage. While Private Bert Galli had tried to get through with three camels loaded with small arms ammunition, except the animals were killed by heavy fire, Galli tried again during the day but was forced to stop, still never the less did succeed in bringing some much needed ammunition to the 4th Company.

The breach of this redoubt caused considerable concern in the enemies’ camp and the Divisional reserves of the Battalions of the 161st Regiment were rushed to this threatened sector, meanwhile the reserve company of the 165th Regiment was committed to the Tank redoubt from the area of Khirbet Sihan and began to infiltrate towards our troops in the redoubt.

Around 10 am, groups of the enemy were observed gathering to the flanks, and they began to move slowly forward, in one case they appeared being driven by a German officer, who recklessly exposed himself to our fire, yet bore a charmed life without being hit. These new troops now found the redoubt was not held in any strength, and small parties of the enemy soon established pockets amongst our posts, which soon became untenable with the strong cross fire and with the shortage of ammunition, we were forced to retire further along the trench onto the rear posts, thus our men retired fighting step by step to the rearmost trenches where they had broken in hours before. Among the heroes of this contest was Sergeant Wally Finley, of the 2nd company, who was killed resisting the enemy allowing our men to escape and form a new bomb block, and Sergeant Albert Cook, Privates Soles Nassau and Richard Biggs of the 3rd company who fought until overrun and were never seen again?

The Cameleers were now using a lot of Turkish ammunition and bombs, as our own ammunition was exhausted, never the less, with this increasing pressure they could not hold out for much longer.

Shortly after 11 pm, as Captain Campbell sorted out the last of the Camel company survivors in the remaining section of trench, the Lewis gunners were still in action and broke up a number of enemy concentrations as the Turks prepared to drive the last of our men out of the redoubt, Lieutenant Bill Ellis was sent to the left, as some soldiers were seen retiring, only he was wounded, and as the ammunition now gave out, and with no hope of reinforcements or ammunition to continue the battle, Captain Campbell had no option but to order the survivors to withdraw, the word was quickly passed to Captain Blyth, who at first wanted to fight it out to the finish, except faced with the inedible they agreed to retire. Before he left Captain Campbell went to check on his Lewis gun teams, to ask for volunteers to cover the withdrawal, only to find one wounded survivor, Private William Barry, who was ordered to retire and despite a broken arm carried his Lewis gun out.

There was much confusion in the trenches at this time, as not all the men received the word to go, while others found themselves cut off by the Turks, who appeared all over, while others seeing the retreat ordered the men to stay and fight and cover the retirement. A similar scene occurred with the British, as those who couldn’t make the trip back were left to be captured.

Captain Campbell had set off with Lieutenant Ernest Aylwin and CQMS Harry Malcolm (who should have remained in the rear but had joined the attack for the fun of it) they became separated in the smoke and rifle fire, and only Campbell made it back without a scratch, the sole officer of nine from the two Australian Camel companies, who took part in the assault to do so. The survivors had retreated out of the redoubt to the right rear in the direction of the 4th company, as the ground to the rear was strongly covered by the enemy’s fire. Meanwhile the 1st company had moved into a conspicuous position between the redoubt and the 4th company to provide the link, except they were soon forced to cover the retirement of the 2nd and 3rd companies from the protection of a small wadi, still with only two small sections, Captain Cashman was limited in what he could do, and he held his ground as a counterattack was expected from the enemy, while in this position the company lost, Private John Mitchell killed, and two officers (Bill Ellis and Les Stock), and a number of men wounded. He did establish contact after 1 pm with the remainder of the British Battalion’s, who had dug in around the small sand ridge.

During the long afternoon the wounded lay exposed to the sun, lying in agony waiting for someone to get them, except with nearly all of their mates now dead or wounded most waited in vain. Despite this a large number of our wounded were brought in by men such as Sergeant Bob Love of the 4th company, who went out into no man’s land to help recover the many victims, yet they where to numerous for all to be recovered and some had to be left to the clemency of the enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Langley had set up a casualty dressing station to the rear of his HQ, in a small wadi, and all the wounded who could be reached were brought there for dressing before moving them to the rear. One of those brought in wounded was Lance Sergeant James Anderson, an original from the 8th Battalion AIF, who was suffering from a gun shot wound to the buttocks, while others were not so lucky, Private Sid Cherry a Canadian, who had enlisted in the 3rd Battalion AIF in 1915 before transferring to the Camel Corps, and Private Wilhelm Konsten, one of a number of Finnish born seaman, were both killed.

As the action continued in the redoubt, the 4th company had become pinned down behind a small sand ridge about 400 yards to the east of the redoubt, and Captain Denson was ordered to dig in by Lieutenant Colonel Langley and await developments and to minimize casualties. This had happened because true to their orders the company had continued to advance for the rear defences of the enemy redoubt, and despite the Turkish fire, they soon found that the company was isolated in between the tank redoubt and the Wadi Sihan, with no support available other then the 11th company on its right flank. The men were forced to hide behind a small Wadi and engage the enemy, also to cover the withdrawal of the 2nd and 3rd companies, still the enemy had them in a deadly cross fire from the redoubt and the Wadi Sihan and sustained many casualties in this exposed position, these included Sergeant Herbert Perkins, Privates Arthur Emery, Neil Munro, John White and Richard Winslett were killed and three officers and 27 men wounded.

When Captain Campbell and his men had retired from the tank redoubt, there still remained a small garrison, who were left to fight it out alone, only with little ammunition remaining it was only a matter of time before they were overrun. This isolated party numbering over thirty men of all nationalities, continued to challenge the enemy till around 2 pm, when the Turks broke into the last section of trench. There the wounded Lieutenant Bill Fender of the 2nd company found himself in a trench with a number of men and after being hit in the neck was abandoned as dead and captured, along with a collection of men, most of whom were wounded, about 11 Australians and eight British soldiers were captured when Lieutenant Wilfred Strachan-Roberts of the 8th Hants, tried to fight it out in the last trench, only were compelled to surrender. Two men Privates Roy Kelly and Bert Story from the 3rd company escaped the Turks during capture, and set off with bullets chasing them as they ran back to our lines, Kelly was wounded and Story had five bullets through his hat, still both survived to tell the tail.

During this time Major John Marsh OC 8th Hants, gathered approximately one hundred and forty survivors around him to form a line in the sand outside the redoubt. Among this group was Lieutenant Wharton 1/4th Norfolk’s, along with Lieutenant Buxton from the 163rd Bde HQ. They remained in this exposed position bringing in the many wounded including Corporal Burtenshaw and Private Toogood, and waited for any expected Turkish counterattack, until the 5thSuffolk’s arrived.

During the night the number of Australian prisoners would increased as the enemy cleared the ground between the lines and in all twenty two Australian cameleers from the 2nd and 3rd companies were captured by the Turks, and an unknown number of British soldiers, which included the crew of the intrepid tank HMLS Nutty, 2/Lieutenant Frank Carr age 35, a Golfing International from Birmingham UK, the daring tank commander had been badly burned during his escape from the blazing tank and died from his wounds in a Turkish hospital, Lieutenant Bill Fender the only Australian Camel Corps officer to be captured during the war, had transferred to the Cameleers from the 6th Light Horse Regiment in 1916 and was 29 years old from Ashfield in Sydney NSW, only he died of wounds in the hands of the enemy that night before medical help could reach him, this unfortunate fact was not know by the family of both Carr and Fender, until two years later when the prisoners were released, as they had been reported as a prisoner after the battle by the Turks, and the family endeavoured to discover his whereabouts, only they heard no word of him until 1919.

Among the many Australian prisoners were Private Harold Vidler, one of the last Lewis gunners, who with Private Phil Fletcher, had fought to the last round when the order to retire was given, they had set off after Captain Campbell, but after going a few yards Vidler was shot threw the knee and Fletcher disappeared in the smoke also wounded, Vidler lay wounded in front of the redoubt till morning when a number of Turkish looters discovered him, they killed another man near him with a bayonet, only spared him and was found later by a enemy patrol. Private Charles Flatt, was wounded outside the redoubt in the charge, he had been shot in three places in the leg and thigh and was found by a Turkish patrol during the night. Private Walter Humphris had also been seriously wounded in the charge and was later recovered that night by the Turks, he lasted a few days before dying from his wounds in a Turkish hospital. Among the 11 Cameleers captured with Lieutenant Roberts of the Hampshire Regiment were Private Reuben Blechynden (wounded), Corporal Alex Currie, Privates Joe Dodd, Phil Fooks, Tom Halliday, Daniel Jones (wounded), Ernest Ingram (wounded), Phil O’Hare, Charles Otway (wounded), Lance Corporal Arthur Tierney and Private John Angus. Other wounded taken prisoner included Sergeant George Paltridge, Privates Fred Jeffrey, William Simmons and Noel Sherrie, while others were trapped in the redoubt and surrendered for lack of ammunition Privates Pat Duffy, Albert Kimber and Sergeant Fred Saville.

Thus ended this tragic battle which had cost the Camel Brigade the greatest number of casualties suffered by Australian Mounted troops during the whole of the Palestine campaign and was only surpassed during the war with those suffered by the 3rd Light Horse Brigade at the Nek on Gallipoli were they lost 372 men out of 600 engaged. The Camel Brigade also lost the largest number of prisoners captured in battle during the campaign as well as the only Australian Mounted officer to be captured.

The total casualties for the Camel Brigade very from sources and range from 370 killed and wounded from Captain J.R Hall on Brigade staff to “Gulletts” Official history of 345, the British Official History lists all mounted troops together under the Imperial Mounted Division and give a total of 547, most of whom were from the Camel Brigade.

The Camel Brigade War Diary Annex for the Battle list the casualties for the period from the 19th to the 22nd April as three officers and 41 men killed, 19 officers and 271 men wounded with one officer and 39 men missing total 374. In the War Diaries, the 1st Battalion reported the loss two officers and 30 men killed and 10 officers and 154 men wounded with one officer and 16 men missing total 213, while the 3rd Battalion does not list their casualties and the AIF Casualty Return for period list over 300 Australian casualties for the Camel Brigade but these include all causes including Prisoners of War.

A search of the records showed that the Australians of the 1st Battalion lost at least 234 casualties with one officer (Captain Naylor) and 36 men were killed, 12 officers and 163 men wounded of which one officer (Lieutenant Hill) and eight men died from wounds. From the 1st Battalion a further one officer and 21 men were taken prisoner of which one officer (Lieutenant Fender) and 13 men were captured while wounded of which one officer and three men died from their wounds and a further three men died in captivity from cruel treatment or neglect.

The worst affected units in the 1st Battalion were the 2nd company which lost 15 men killed and two officers and 73 men wounded of which two men died of wounds and one officer and nine men taken prisoner of which one officer and five men were captured while wounded, of these one officer and one man died of their wounds while in captivity and another one man died from cruel treatment, this totals 100 casualties for the company from about 105 present.

The 3rd company lost one officer and 14 men killed and four officers and 49 men wounded of which four men died from wounds, there were a further 12 men taken prisoner of which 8 men were captured while wounded of which two men died from wounds and another two men died in captivity from cruel treatment, this totals 80 casualties for the company of 94 men and 180 casualties from approximately 210 men in the two Camel companies involved directly in the assault on Tank redoubt."

Mate, Hope this small bit helps with some back ground and names all those with him when captured.

Cheers

S.B

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Maureene

Having just found an ancestor who was a POW at Baghche/Baghtche in 1916 and died there, I was glad to find this thread. Following up on the last two posts from Smithy (#20) and Maureen (#21), could the location be Bahçe, Osmaniye, Turkey?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A7e,_Osmaniye

http://tinyurl.com/zjtluk4 (link to google maps)

Looking more closely on google maps the railway line passes through the town and the satellite image shows a rail tunnel on the eastern side of the town. This fits with the description given in the second link from Maureen's post (#21) that mentions the digging of a 12 mile tunnel. The location also seems to fit with the position of prison camp 7 on the accompanying map on that webpage.

Interested to hear what you think.

Cheers

Simon

Baghche/Baghtche certainly appears to be the same place as Bahçe

There was a wotkcamp there, mentioned in

https://books.google.com.au/books?id=tP-4BAAAQBAJ&lpg=PT314&ots=eKM9elx7OI&dq=Bah%C3%A7e%20%20railway%20tunnel&pg=PT314#v=onepage&q=Bah%C3%A7e%20%20railway%20tunnel&f=false

An unnumbered page from Chapter 10, The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914-1920 by Eugene Rogan Google Books

Cheers

Maureen

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Ghazala

An excellent account Steve. Thank you.

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