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Remembered Today:

6th Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers


Nelto

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I have a book, which is a personal War Diary for the 6th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusliers. It was published in September 1919 by the Impartial Reporter Newspaper, Enniskillen. It does not give any details of the author, although it was possibly published on behalf a Wm. Trimble. I don''t know if the newspaper published books/articles on behalf of private people.

In the preface the author states: "This little book makes no pretence to be a historical or literary work; it is simply a diary of one who was an eye witness of every incident narrated in it, written in the form of a more or less complete story of the events in chronological order in the biography of the 6th (S.) Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fuslier, with no other idea than as an official record of and testimony to the loyalty to the cause, the gallantry and unselfish devotion to duty of the non-commissioned officers and men who served in the unit."

The book covers the 6th Btn. from it's formation in Omagh within one month of the outbreak of the war. It then records/summarises events in Gallipoli, Serbia, Palestine (where Private James Duffy won the VC), France, then demobilization.

I have tried to locate an official war diary for this Battalion, but the National Archives basically told me I was free to come and search for myself. They'd help of course.

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If anyone has any particular or specific interest in 6th Battalion, please feel to contact me and I'll help with extracts from the book. It would take me too long to transcribe the whole thing with my challenged typing skills!

Then again, has anyone seen this book before, is it rare?

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Hi Nelto - I would be very interested. I might also be able to help you. I am currently travelling but will send more detail tomorrow when I am back in UK .... I am off to Gallipoli on Tuesday for a week....

Related material:

1. War Diary for the Gallipoli phase is available on-line from the National Archives. Ref WO 95/4296. This is the file of all the Bns and Bdes in the 10th Irish Div at Gallipoli

2. Field of Bones byJoe Lee and Philip Orr is a good history of this Div at Gallipoli and will include material on the 6th Bn R Innis Fus here

There is other material that I will post in a few days when I am back...I have transcribed dozens of Wra Diaries from Gallipoli and personal diaries, so I am sure I can did some material up if you are interested. I would be extremely interested in seeing the Gallipoli chapter.....

Regards MG

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Hi Martin,

Your post inspired me into a two fingered typing frenzy, so here goes:

Sailed from Mitylene on 6th August 1915.

HELLES.

Now the 13th Division had taken advantage of the darkness to force a surprise landing, close to and south of that part of the coast reserved for our effort, while to attract the attention of the Turks to another quarter, our troops at Helles made a feint attack, so it is easy to account for the scene on shore as we sailed stealthily along the coast past Cape Helles and made northwards in the darkness.

Just as dawn appeared we weighed anchor in Suvla Bay, and without noise or excitement all the troops were paraded and issued with entrenching tools, after which lighters innumerable appeared as if from nowhere, and each steamer disgorged it's human freight into these canoes. They plied backwards and forwards to the shore, and as one awaited his turn it was a memorable scene to watch these craft running the gauntlet of the enemy shells in the sea and interesting to reckon your chances of arriving on shore safe and sound or at all.

The Turks must have been thoroughly alarmed now, and if there had only been one good clear-headed commander on the spot, then the sequel to this operation would not have been what it was.

SUVLA BAY.

Having successfully transferred to shore most of the troops, the advance of the 10th Division, less the 5th Connaught Rangers and the remainder of the 29th Brigade, which was ordered to Anzac on the right, and the 5th R. Inniskilling Fusiliers, which supplied a left flank guard, commenced in good order until Lala Baba was reached and more of the enemy's position became visible.

For some inexplicable reason the troops halted here for nearly an hour – a costly and unpardonable mistake of somebody's, for this order to halt was the only clear and definite order of the whole operations.

CHOCOLATE HILL.

It was possible, but not easy, to learn what the objective was when the advance was resumed – "that brown hill in the distance," about three miles away across the Salt Lake. Thereafter there was nobody in control, and junior officers who had been lucky enough to find out the general objective, made for it by whatever route they liked.

It has often been stated that the troops employed were too inexperienced for the task required of them, but the writer is convinced, that, for an operation conducted as this was, the troops present were in every way more suited to it than highly trained specialists or professional soldiers, who would not have moved on the skeleton orders issued verbally and the lack of orders which was a feature of the day.

However that may be, the scheme, if ever there were one, developed into two flank attacks and a frontal attack on this unfortunate hill, called Chocolate Hill.

Even at this stage, had one commander present taken the whole operation in hand, it would have been a brilliant success, but the Battalion commanders were not one whit (typo?) better informed than the company commanders, who had received no orders but those mentioned.

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THE ATTACK.

The opposition encountered was not great, and, even had orders been issued to advance until forced to halt, Sir Ian Hamilton's Promised Land would have been reached that night. But as it was, the first troops to reach Chocolate Hill, which were D Company of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers with one platoon of our Battalion, did not arrive until 9.30 (some-one has corrected this in pencil in the margin to 7.30pm), and it was twenty minutes later before a concerted assault on the summit could be mutually arranged with the Lincolns and the borderers, who were on the right. The remainder of our Battalion, which had had much the worst line of approach across the Salt Lake, with not a blade of cover, had reached the foot of the hill at this time.

Enough has been written about the bitter pangs of thirst and the awful heat endured by the troops here, so that this allusion to it will suffice to recall it to the mind of the reader both here and in the following pages.

A MEMORABLE FEATURE.

The memorable feature of this day was the outstanding bravery of R.A.M.C. officers, and one incident which the writer witnessed will suffice to show the spirit of the troops. After struggling across a narrow isthmus of deep, slimy mud, a concentration of men was collected in a fold in the ground. The enemy immediately secured three direct hits on this target, firing across open sights. Immediately men rose to move forward a voice shouted, "Remain where you are," and of these four hundred odd men there were only three who did not immediately resume their positions and calmly await the next battery fire.

Now darkness prevented a further advance on August 7, but there was not a man there who did not fully expect to continue the advance at dawn to the obvious final objective three miles further on. That no such orders were issued during the night was a surprise to everybody.

DISAPPOINTMENT.

It required no training in strategy to see that once having gained the higher ridge of mountains in front, full command of the whole peninsula was ours, yet, as if it was our intention to lose the battle, no orders to resume the offensive were issued and the Turk was allowed a free hand on Sunday to bring up all the necessary reinforcements.

The Gallipoli enterprise had failed then, and there was nothing to gain by not evacuating the peninsula that night, instead of five months later.

True, there was some severe fighting of individual units to gain small advantages of position, but nothing like a general advance, and so the enemy reached the spine of the peninsula, and remained there secure.

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REST.

For the following three days the Battalion remained in this position, and then was withdrawn to the beach for a rest, but there was no rest, as a false scare that the enemy had broken through and were advancing on the guns at Lala Baba, kept it out all night. This incident serves to show the absolute lack of communication.

KIRETCH TEPE.

On August 13 the Brigade concentrated on a ridge of hills on the north of the Salt Lake, running along the shore or close to it. This was known as Kiretch Tepe Sirt, and it was here that our 5th Battalion had been until now. The two units of Royal Irish Fusiliers had suffered somewhat heavily on the second day, and it was now the turn of our 5th Battalion to show it's mettle in a most gallant and costly action, with no result, in the ground on the east side of Kiretch Tepe.

Thereafter, what remained of the 5th went back to recoup, while our unit moved towards Jephson's Post on the west side of Kiretch Tepe, with our left resting on the sea. A splendid but futile attack had been made by the 6th Dublins to capture an island fort here, but the Turk remained in possession in spite of the wonderful efforts of a Destroyer, which, though smothered in rifle and machine gun fire, yet created havoc at short range with the enemy. Many splendid lads gave their lives here in attempts to get water for their pals, and this same spot was the scene of the most obvious intervention of Providence on our behalf.

THE 29TH DIVISION.

On the night of the 20th the famous 29th Division landed at Suvla from Helles, with the object of reaching the Anafarta ridge, referred to above as the spine of the peninsula or the Promised Land, for from it one could command a view of the entire strait and across to Chanak.

This was only throwing away valuable lives, for if the enemy was secure there on August 9, he was doubly safe against one Division. His guns were on rails in caves of the hills, while our artillery was inadequate for the smallest affair.

The Battalion took up position in reserve in the 29th Division at Hill10, on the borders of the Salt Lake, and as our only cover was a battery of field guns we suffered heavily, even without being engaged.

At dusk the Battalion moved up further to the line, reached by the 29th Division, and took over that sector just at the foot of Scimitar Hill from our 1st Battalion, whose casualties had been heavy. This was the first and last time for these two units of the 27th to meet during the war, and was not an auspicious occasion.

The Battalion here simply held the line, and sent out active patrols every night, but the Turk was in an almost impregnable position, and had no fear of being pressed uncomfortably.

It was plainly obvious as one compared positions of the enemy with our own, that the whole enterprise was now a failure, and it was inexplicable why the Turk did not take the offensive at this stage.

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WITHDRAWAL OF 10TH DIVISION.

On September 29th, the 10th Division was withdrawn from Suvla to Lemnos, to prepare for a new campaign, and there was not a man who did not experience a feeling, not of relief at being spared for a short time the strain of the last eight weeks, and having a full night’s rest, but rather like a cad for leaving behind in that hell of the Peninsula so many other men who had nothing there to look forward to.

Many writers have described the peninsula, and given a very graphic description of the country, and if my readers refer to them they can have a picture more true than can be here depicted, and can recall the setting in which the part of the war, herein described, was played.

Before ending this summary, it is right that a word of praise should be recorded in favour of the Indian muleteers, whose devotion to duty and heroism was an example to all.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Martin/Any-one,

Is the above account reasonably accurate as an historical document?

I've had a reply from the Curator at the Enniskillen Castle Museum, but he does not have any details as to the Author either, but believes he was an Officer.

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  • 7 years later...

HI, RESEARCHING A LOCAL WAR MEMORIAL IN LIMAVADY, AND HAVE TURNED UP A SECOND LT JAMES JOYCE BEASLEY OF THE 10TH BN "THE DERRYS" ROYAL INNISKILLING FUSILIERS KILLED 09/08/1915  CHOCOLATE HILL.

PROBLEM BEING THE 10TH BN WERE NOT THERE, HOWEVER THE 6TH WERE HAVING LANDED 07/08/1915 AT SUVLA BAY, ANYONE GOT ANY IDEA  AS TO HIS FATE OR THE CIRCUMSTANCES?

 

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