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5th Wilts 23rd July 1915 Gallipoli


RedCoat
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Hi all,

I am trying to find reference to which trenches the 5th Wilts were occupying when my GGreat Uncle was killed on the 23rd July 1915. On the 19th July the Bn went into trenches Essex Knoll and Hampshire Cut, on the 21st July it says the Bn went into reserve to start work on a communication trench behind 12 Tree Copse, communication trench to Maxim Redoubt and Maxim Redoubt itself.

On the day my uncle was killed it states that they were in "fire trenches" as per the previous week, at 0815 working parties continued as they did on the 22nd on I assume the same positions as I have listed above, at 1500 the enemy put 3 shells into what's described as "our trenches" killing 3 men and wounding 1 officer and seven men, my uncle was one of the 3 men killed.

My question is; was my uncle killed in Essex Knoll/ Hampshire Cut or was he killed in the communication trench behind 12 Tree Copse, communication trench to Maxim Redoubt or Maxim Redoubt?

All the pieces are there, I'm just struggling to put the together.

Regards, Don

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Have you read the War Diary ? I seem to remember that it will be in The Wardrobe,the Wilts Reg. website.

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The War Diary entry for 23 Jul 15 is:

Fire Trenches 2.30a.m An attack by enemy was anticipated and prepared for, and counter-attack planned, at this hour. But nothing occurred. 8.15a.m Working parties carried on as yesterday. 3p.m Enemy shelled "ESKI LINES" about 3/4 mile behind us. They suddenly put three shells into our trenches, killing three men and wounding one officer and seven men. (the officer being Lieut D.O. LUMLEY) One man was also killed by shell fire whilst on fatigue in the "GULLY" 5p.m - 8p.m Our heavy guns registered various Turkish trenches and the two barricades. Weather cool. Many men suffering slight dysentery. All feeling lack of sleep. ACB

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This is where I have got my info from, I have the full diary in hard copy. If you notice in the 23rd July entry it doesn't actually say which trenches they are in which is why I read back a couple of pages to find out what they were up to. This is really the last piece of the puzzle and I am dying to figure out which one it was. He was C Coy if that makes any difference.

Regards, Don

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If you work backwards...

23rd: Working parties carried on as yesterday.... [22nd]

22nd: Carrying on with working parties as yesterday... [21st]

21st: Relieved by SWB. Bn goes into Reserve 3/4 m S in the STRAND and FOOT STREET All employed on working parties etc.. [note one man killed in the GULLY i.e. GULLY RAVINE]

My interpretation is that on 23rd the Bn was still based on the STRAND and FOOT STREET but working on fatigues spread over some distance given the reference to Gully and the other trenches. . Some working on a communication trench and some working on the Maxim redoubt. It is worth noting that there was a line of trenches crossing Helles just south of Twelve Tree Copse known as the Redoubt line - a line of linked redounbts. Given the context I think there is a good chance they could have been working on a Maxim redoubt in this line. It is probably a good starting point for more research. The 40th Inf Bde War Diary offers no more clues as it starts in August according to my records (photos of the originals).

Edit. The History of the South Wales Borderers records the 4th Bn SWB (same Bde as 5th Wilts) operating in the support trenches west of Twelve tree Copse (15th, 16th July). On the 17th the Bn moved into the trenches H12, H 12a and H 12b (on the left of the line) and "Southern Barricade" on the extreme right (also mentioned in 5th Bn Wilts War Diary with a diagram - shown in the original but not shown in the reprint) which was right up against the Turkish position only separated by this barricade. This suggest to me that 4th Bn SWB and 5th Bn Wilts were operating in exactly the same trenches - this should not be a surprise as they were in the same Bde but the important reference in both sets of records to Southern barricade confirms this. It also gives us a likely frontage for the Bn position. Also note on the 18th July the 5th Bn Wilts mention 2 Officers visiting 4th SWB trenches and Coy Commanders being shown around - typical actions immediately prior to Battalions swapping over in the front line - confirmed with the move on the 19th July into the SWB trenches.

On 21st July having spent 4 days in the rest trenches at Gully Beach the 4th Bn SWB "reoccupied its former front line trenches" i.e H 12 to Southern Barricade for a four day tour...These were the trenches that the 5th Wilts must have been in as the 5th Bn Wilts diary as we know speaks of being relieved on the 21st by the 4th Bn SWB. So...there is a high probability that the 4th SWB and the 5th Wilts swapped trench positions. This opens the possibility of the 5th Bn Wilts being in the Reserve trenches immediately behind the trench system H12 to Southern Barricade.

I think it is important that the 5th Wilts diary states 'reserve trenches' not 'rest trenches' or 'rest area' which would have been the Gully Ravine.

On the 23rd July 1915 the 4th Bn SWB history talks about the garrison in the Southern barricade being shelled. Clearly not the 4th SWB (in Reserve trenches) and not the 5th Bn Wilts

MG

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This might help locate the exact position.... (from the appendix to the 5th Bn Wiltshire Regt War Diary, 40th Inf Bde) on other maps the Foot St and the Strand are known as Lancashire St and Fusilier St respectively. MG

post-55873-0-95460900-1379533929_thumb.j

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Martin,

Sorry for the delayed response the info you have given is great and the map certainly helps. I did notice that it says in the war diary that the enemy were shelling ESKI Lines 3/4 of a mile behind the wilts position, when the 3 shells landed in the trench killing William. If we found out where ESKI Lines were and worked out 3/4 of a mile towards Essex Knoll etc it might give a more precise location of where he was killed?

Also I wonder where the Maxim Redoubt was as its not mentioned on the map. I was thinking about getting Paula Perrys book on 5th Wilts, I wonder if there is anymore info in there?

Don

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Martin, Sorry for the delayed response the info you have given is great and the map certainly helps. I did notice that it says in the war diary that the enemy were shelling ESKI Lines 3/4 of a mile behind the wilts position, when the 3 shells landed in the trench killing William. If we found out where ESKI Lines were and worked out 3/4 of a mile towards Essex Knoll etc it might give a more precise location of where he was killed? Also I wonder where the Maxim Redoubt was as its not mentioned on the map. I was thinking about getting Paula Perrys book on 5th Wilts, I wonder if there is anymore info in there? Don

Don - I think we have to acknowledge that distances given would be approximate. If one takes the ESKI Line (Marked on most maps as it was a major transverse trench line) and using Google Earth maps, one can measure 3/4 of a mile distant. These map overlays (dated 17th July 1915) might help....they show the area of Gully Ravine on Google Earth.

The line marked A-A' is Foot Street (also called Lancashire Street) is 0.6 miles from the ESKI Line

The line marked B-B' is The Strand (also called Fusilier Street) is 0.65 miles from ESKI Lines

The Line marked C-C' is Chelmsford street which is exactly 0.75 of a mile from the ESKI Line.

As far as Redoubts, I assume the circular trench system immediately under the word 'Fusilier' in Fusilier Street is a contender. Note there is another redoubt below Right Avenue (to the right rear of Twelve Tree Copse)

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post-55873-0-56814600-1379664718_thumb.j

post-55873-0-78205200-1379665351_thumb.j

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...and for good measure the Sevki Pasa Overlay...note the greater detail and the position of the redoubts stringing across the trench system to the right. Also the contours reveal where redoubts might be (i.e. not in dips or on reverse slopes) ...the redoubt at Fusilier Street is shown clearly, and not surprisingly is on the top of the highest point on that line, effectively on the high point of a long low spur running up to the front line. Aslos this is 500 yards from the front line, so probably well positioned for the range of a Vickers or a Maxim (doubtless an MG expert will add something) . Any other position along that trench system would not provide sufficient field of fire. I would conclude that this is the redoubt as

1. It is the most obvious redoubt in the area.

2. It is within the 40th Brigade area of operation.

3. The fork in the Y shaped trench on the sketch map from the 5th Bn Wilts War Diary on my post #6 is the same reboubt

I may add some more info from the unit diaries of 40th inf Bde later..... MG

Edit: Additional info:

4. The 13th Div was operating with 39th Inf Bde on the left (from Fusilier Bluff to Gully Ravine) 40th Inf Bde Centre from Gully Ravine to Twelve Tree Copse. Within the Bde area of operation the redoubt discussed above is the only reboubt.

5. There are three large communication trenches (labelled A Communication trench, B Communication trench, C Communication trench) on other maps which run from the Line A-A' and B-B' up to Essex Knoll, Hampshire cut and Worcester Flat - essentially the left, centre and right communications trenches to the front line.

6. The 40th Bde War Diaries records the Divisional Reserve area was at Gully Beach and the Bde Reserve area in the right section was variously "West of 12 Tree Copse" or "west of Fir Tree Copse". The two copses are adjacent to each other with the Fir Tree Copse about 200 yards to the rear of 12 Tree Copse. On the maps above it is near the Bde HQ marked on the map. I think there could have been some diary confusion between the two positions and given the distances involved I would put the reserve trenches nearer 12 Tree Copse

Unless new information comes, I don't think that it will be possible to get a much better fix. Certainly the general area is identifiable, but having walked the ground I would highlight that this area is now a series of ploughed fields with the main road running through it. The walk up Gully ravine and up onto the high ground is an interesting walk. Regards MG

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Martin,

Many thanks for the info, I cannot thank you enough. Having reviewed your information and the war diary I think we could conclude that William was killed in either Fusilier Street or Lancashire Street. I will now endeavour to find some contemporary images of Lancashire, Fusilier or Essex Knoll Trenches. I will be writing a short bio for a William, do you mind if I quote your work Martin?

Again, many thanks Don

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Don - I would agree that on balance it is likely that he died in one of those trenches. Please feel free to use any of the information. I am really just consolidating fragments gleaned from a number of War Diaries so would have to insist the credit or acknowledgment should be directed at the Adjutants of the battalions who maintained the diaries under the most difficult circumstances. I may have some photos of the area, but if not I am sure a plea on the Gallipoli part of the GWF will produce some in no time. Regards MG

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Thanks Martin, I really appreciate it. I will put another post in the Gallipoli section of the forum and see what comes up, all this started from an un identified photo of a Wilts soldier in my family photo album to now finishing out with which section of trench he died in and piecing together his whole life previously to that. A good tribute to a gallant member of my family.

Don

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