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I am now going to open an old can of worms - The Turkish female sniper"

I have recently digitised as account written in the 1970s probably or possibly 1980s. It is good reading but in places it seem pure "apple sauce" as Bertie Wooster might say. He refers to the Berks yeo landing under fire digging shell scrapes and returning Turkish fire which is surely not possible. As regards female snipers I glad to see the term sniper was being misused even then - snipers engage targets at long distance and so cannot collect dog tags watches or similar booty. Anyway - here we are.

"

When we were about a mile from Gallipoli we were transferred to lighters and small gun-boats then from these to large flat-bottomed rafts pulled by steam tugs and which took us - some 50 men to each raft - to as near as was possible to the assault point. From the rafts we jumped into the sea and had to wade up to our knees before reaching the shore. Personally I was on a raft which contained a tremendous number of live ammunition boxes and when the raft grounded I quickly waded towards the shore. I do not know where the ammunition went to and my only thought was to get on land and away from that load of explosive material because there was a terrific artillery barrage coming over from the Turks who by now realized that a new landing was in progress. Fortunately and miraculously the shells were missing us and I did not see any casualties around my "little unwanted world”. Everyone somehow scrambled onto the beach and with our entrenching tools working in top gear managed to form enough cover for just our heads and then opening fire at the Turkish trenches. As one trooper commented amid the din and digging "There is a few digging records being broken," which remark as I remembered it long afterwards just about summed up how high was the morale of the men in such a position. Naturally we were all lying and firing from the prone position and suddenly bullets were striking the ground in front of us and obviously being fired from behind us. It was discovered that they were coining from a large clump of scrub not far behind us. Concentration on that scrub was quick and even more quick was the appearance of a very scantily clad Turkish girl. Our first prisoner; and we found that she was painted a kind of green to match the colour of the surrounding scrub. She had been busy as we knew by the number of identity-discs and watches she had put on her arms and legs. Shem must have been a crack shot and there were other women captured later who had also been well trained."

I await your responses

Regards

Andrew

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There are over 50 Yeomanry accounts that record the landings, and none come close to this. A classic case of confabulation and as such an interesting reference point. If there is more I would be very interested as I think this could be a fantastic illustration of how old soldiers' memories become distorted. Potentially a great case study. MG

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What equipment was being worn Andrew? 1903 or had they been issued infantry equipment? The mention of entrenching tools made me wonder how they were being carried. I had thought The Victor was wrong but now looks like the memorial shows Potts VC in 1908 equipment. Regards, Paul.

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The Yeomanry in the 2nd Mounted Div were given infantry equipment in Egypt before they deployed to Gallipoli. The are a number of accounts describing how infantry invalids recovering in Egypt helped the Yeomen assemble their webbing. There are plenty of photos too which appear to show 1908 pattern. I suspect by July-August 1915 there was plenty of equipment from men who had been evacuated. MG

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Hi Paul & Martin

  1. The "Victor" dramatized Potts own account published in "In the line of battle" in 1916, as the phrase "Give'em beans" is used, and only Potts account mentions this.
  2. Yes they wear infantry webbing equipment - I enclose a photo of 2nd Lieut WH Crosland before they set off.
  3. I am in the process of digitizing the account above, which I will be able to finish next Tuesday or the week after. Once I have finished I am more than happy to share the account.
  4. Now two Derbyshire Yeo points for Martin. We recently had a museum visitor, Michael Kingscote, who told me he had just deposited a complete WW1 official war diary with the Derbyshire Yeomanry museum which may or may not be of interest. On another Derbyshire Yeo point, in the published account by Strutt, he mentions a bloody affair on 11th Dec 1915 in which Lt Allsebrook fought it out at close range with Senussi (p85). I have recently come into possession of a notebook which tell me Allsebrook was attached to one of the Berks Yeo troops. Do you have a photo of him ?

Regards

Andrew

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I forgot to add this as I recently found the following report

"Among the latest reports of the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force is Lieutenant M.J. Kingscote (Berks Yeomanry), a well-known polo player and Lieutenant A Lawson –Johnston (Bucks Yeo), well-known in the Whaddon Hunt, appear as wounded. Northants Mercury 9th July 1915 p8c3.

We can conjecture, if these two officers were wounded then it is probable there were more were sent from the Second Mounted Division. But what their role was, is unclear although obviously one in contact with the enemy. Prior to the Suvla landing the Division sent out officers to act as landing and assistant landing officer, but these officers are too early for this.

Any suggestions as to the role of Kingscote and Lawson-Johnston would be gratefully received.

Regards

Andrew

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I forgot to add this as I recently found the following report

"Among the latest reports of the British Mediterranean Expeditionary Force is Lieutenant M.J. Kingscote (Berks Yeomanry), a well-known polo player and Lieutenant A Lawson –Johnston (Bucks Yeo), well-known in the Whaddon Hunt, appear as wounded. Northants Mercury 9th July 1915 p8c3.

We can conjecture, if these two officers were wounded then it is probable there were more were sent from the Second Mounted Division. But what their role was, is unclear although obviously one in contact with the enemy. Prior to the Suvla landing the Division sent out officers to act as landing and assistant landing officer, but these officers are too early for this.

Any suggestions as to the role of Kingscote and Lawson-Johnston would be gratefully received.

Regards

Andrew

I think the Officers sent out as Landing Officers went many weeks before the 2nd Mtd Div. I have some references and a list somewhere - about 20 named Officers - . I will try and dig it up. MG

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post-7967-0-23767700-1416749798_thumb.jpHi Paul & Martin

Service Dress

Yes they wore the serge SD rather than Khaki drill. The attached photo is circa Sept 1915, post 21-22nd August 1915 . An interesting snippet from the RBH, very informative and detailed - could you tell me who and where it was from please ?

Landing Officers

Martin - here is the order for MLO in the 2nd Divi War diary that you were kind enough to send me a while ago - early August.

S E C R E T

F O R C E O R D E R No. 25 General Headquarters

2nd August, 1915

. . . .

4. The following naval and military beach control personnel have been appointed for the landing places of the IXth Corps:-

Principle Beach Master

Beach Masters

Asst. Beach Masters & 4 Lieutenant Commanders R.N.

Beach Lieuts. 10 Lieutenants R.N.

Beach Party

Principle Mil. L.O. Col. W.G.B. Western C.B.

Mil. L.O's. Maj. F.W. Peacock. Derbyshire Yeo.

Maj. Sir R. Baker Dorset. Yeo.

Capt. Tylson Wright A.S.C.

Asst. Mil. L.O's. Capt. Wade Palmer. Derbyshire Yeo.

Capt. B.A. Smith S. Notts. Hussars

Lt. H.V. Browne Dorset Yeo.

Lt. Krabbe Berks. Yeo.

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I suspect the trench photo was taken in the Reserve trenches just ESE of the Salt Lake where the Mounted Div was 'resting' between turns in the fron line trenches. There is a long thread of Sharpshoters photos I did some time a ago with relevant diary snippets.

A quick search of the 2nd Div diaries gives the following returns of Officers who served as MLOs and AMLOs

Maj P R Bruce - MLO at ANZAC (South Notts Hussars)

Maj Sir Randolf Baker Bt - DAA & QMG MLO - Dorset Yeo

Maj F W Peacock - Derbyshire Yeomanry

Capt B A Smith - South Notts Hussars

Capt A N Wade Palmer AMLO - Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry (not Derbyshire Yeomanry)

Lt Krabbe - AMLO - Berkshire Yeo

Lt H V Browne - Dorset Yeo

Maj E T Chamberlayne MLO Anzac - Warwickshire Yeomanry

Lt Darcy - Sherwood Rangers Yeo

The diaries are consistent with the list you show - Officers for MLO duties left in early August - with some additional names. Chamberlayne was awarded the DSO for his work at ANZAC as MLO.

AS you point out, these officers were too early for the MLO roles. Do we know they were wounded in Gallipoli? The MEF of course included the men in Egypt operating against the Turks along the Suez canal and the Senussi (now Lybia). Presumably there were other staff jobs that needed to be done that drew in your men. MG

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  1. Now two Derbyshire Yeo points for Martin. We recently had a museum visitor, Michael Kingscote, who told me he had just deposited a complete WW1 official war diary with the Derbyshire Yeomanry museum which may or may not be of interest. On another Derbyshire Yeo point, in the published account by Strutt, he mentions a bloody affair on 11th Dec 1915 in which Lt Allsebrook fought it out at close range with Senussi (p85). I have recently come into possession of a notebook which tell me Allsebrook was attached to one of the Berks Yeo troops. Do you have a photo of him ?

Regards

Andrew

Andrew - I have the DY war diary but thanks for flagging this. Very thoughtful.

Ref Allsebrook, I am afraid I don't have a photo of him. From memory the Yeomanry troops that fought the Senussi were composite Regiments so I am not surprised that Allsebrook was attached to the Berks Yeo.

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Hi Martin

Thanks for info. Yes I think I forgetting that there were troops in Egypt under BMEF control rather than undr General Maxwell

The article you asked for and that I am digitising is from Captain TH Chamberlain (in 1915 Tpr TH Chamberlain) and is about 10 pages long. So far I have finished 6 pages so I should get it finished Tuesday evening at the museum, ready to send you Wednesday.

I've now fully read the fascinating RBH account you posted which breaks off on the evening of Aug 18th. Could we have the remainder of the letter please ?

Regards

Andrew

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Hi Martin

Thanks for info. Yes I think I forgetting that there were troops in Egypt under BMEF control rather than undr General Maxwell

The article you asked for and that I am digitising is from Captain TH Chamberlain (in 1915 Tpr TH Chamberlain) and is about 10 pages long. So far I have finished 6 pages so I should get it finished Tuesday evening at the museum, ready to send you Wednesday.

I've now fully read the fascinating RBH account you posted which breaks off on the evening of Aug 18th. Could we have the remainder of the letter please ?

Regards

Andrew

Andrew

I have a ton of material that you might find useful. I am in your neck of the woods fairly soon so maybe we arrange to meet up. I have been researching the Yeomanry for about ten years with a heavy bent towards mobilisation and then Gallipoli. I have 40 transcribed accounts of the Yeomanry at Gallipoli for example and probably another 10 not yet transcribed. In recent months 1914 and the Western Front have dominated my mind-space, but happy to share info on Yeomanry.

I assume you have the original reports on Potts and his miraculous arrival in the front line? If not, let me know....

MG

PS. Incidentally I met the ex CO of the Berkshire Yeomanry at Sandhurst a few weeks ago. Delighted to see the unit is still alive and kicking. Given all the amalgamations it must have one of the longest continuous histories in the British Army.

PPS have you read Mitchinson's recently published book on the TF at war? Third part of the trilogy. MG

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all

Had some horrible computer problems but I am now back on track

Martin - the Potts account - do you mean the one published in "The Line of Battle" yes I have.

With the Chamberlain document I had it all transcribed - then my computer mangled it again, but I should be able to finish it next Tuesday and post it out Wednesday. I've sent you a separate email on you AOL account

Bill Mitchenson's book no - how about you ?

Anyway here's the next instalment

Potts VIctor 11.JPG

Regards

Andrew

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  • 2 weeks later...

Apologies - things have slowed down a bit for Christmas - anyway we are getting close to the end

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Hi all,

I have recently come across details of the drowning of the EL Andrews the only Berkshire Yeomanry to die on the Leasowe Castle on 26-27th May 1918.

Yeoman on Sunk Transport

As already officially announced, a transport was sunk at the end of May, not far from Alessandria. Among the troops on board were members of the Berkshire Yeomanry, and these included several belonging to Reading as well as the county. The only surviving son of the Deputy-Mayor of Reading (Mr Leonard G Sutton) was among the number. They all had narrow escapes, and several were in the water for some hours before being rescued. Of those associated with the Berkshire Yeomanry one lost his life. We refer to Trooper Edwin Leonard Andrews, second son of Mr and Mrs GA Andrews, of 22 Howards Street, Reading. He is officially reported as missing, but believed drowned; and there is little doubt now that he has made the great sacrifice.

In a letter to Mrs Andrews an officer throws light on the affair. He writes:- “I have known your son for ten months. He was the best of lads, liked by everyone, and is a great loss to the company. When the ship was struck at just after midnight, 26th – 27th May, you son was in the ship’s hospital. He had been admitted in the morning with a slight fever, but hoped to be out again the next day. All the patients were at once taken on deck and conducted by a medical orderly to their boat. That, I am sorry to say is the last that is known of him. That he he came on deck is certain: of that there is no doubt. In the darkness and press of men going to their boat stations he must have missed his way and gone to another part of the ship. It was, of course, impossible for the medial orderlies to recognise in the dark individuals whom they did not know intimately. Everything that it was possible for them to do they did, and it was a great shock to earn that your son had not been landed by any of the ships which picked up the survivors. Enquires have been made at all hospitals here, but no trace of your son can be found. 1918-07-20 (RMerc) p08c4 death of Tpr EL Andrews 70821

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In relation to the last post I am adding the force order which de horsed 9 yeomanry regiments and turn them into Machine Gun Corps Battalions in April 1918

The numbering is not quite as eventually happened and there is a typo referring to the 1/1st County of London Yeomanry which should be 1/2nd County of London Yeo which was the unit sent back

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These below are the actual designators which Battalions used

Warwick Yeo & S. Notts Hussars B Bn then 100th Bn

Bucks and Berkshire Yeomanry C Bn then 101st Bn

Lincs & E Riding Yeomanry D Bn then 102nd Bn

City of Lond & 1/3rd Co of Lond Yeo E Bn then 103rd Bn

1/2nd Co of London Yeo F Bn then 104th Bn

I wonder why they didn't use the designator A Bn - did it clash with something else ?

Hope this is of interest

Regards

Andrew

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We are getting near the end of Fred Potts story in the Victor comic.

Fred has been pulling Arthur on the shovel all night . . . .

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I recently put up part of an account of the fighting at Suvla on 21st August 1915, but due to some nasty computer problems (now thankfully resolved) I can now publish the whole account. It was written by some distance in time. I think it a well written account but suffers from a new memory lapses. He refers to Chocolate hill when meaning Scimitar Hill, are understandable transpositions, but references to digging in and returning fire on landing and Turkish girl snipers are more dubious. Other references to Brigadier Lord Longford being killed while crossing the Salt Lake are simply wrong. Referring to Ashmead Bartlett's report in the Reading Mercury he is also unaware that this was a syndicated report.

The writer then refers to a charge and mentions Turkish guns and the killing of an OC, all of which happened but all at the same time.

I would be grateful for other thoughts

Regards

Andrew

1st BERKSHIRE YEOMANRY THE DARDANELLES CAMPAIGN

"THEY GAVE THEIR ALL - THEY NEVER WAVERED

AND SHALL NEVER FORGET THEM"

One of the shortest but bloodiest encounters of the First World War was the struggle for Hill 70 (Chocolate Scimitar Hill) which took place in mid-August, 1S15. It was a battle in which half a Berkshire Regiment were reported killed, wounded or missing in an attempt to wrest a strategic strong-point from the flower of the Turkish Army during the disastrous campaign for the control of the Dardanelles.

It was a battle which turned the untried men of the 1st Berkshire Yeomanry into battle-hardened veterans overnight and one which saw many acts of courage including one which resulted in a Reading soldier being awarded this Country's highest military honour- the Victoria Cross.

The story of this crucial encounter was told, by request, to a Reading Paper but not yet published, by Captain T.H. Chamberlain who was, at the time this Dardanelles action took place, a Trooper with the Berks Yeomanry which al­though normally a cavalry regiment had left their horses at Alexandria and from then on fought as infantry throughout the Dardanelles campaign.

We embarked at Alexandria, Egypt, for a. destination known only to those of high rank, packed like sardines in a troopship so over-loaded that many of the men had to spend the whole of the week long voyage on deck.

Tpr H.E. Kirk of "A" Squadron later described the scene as we went aboard as, “We were packed like herrings, no blankets, no waterproof sheets and no accommodation for sleeping except by lying down anywhere on deck - even then you were aroused by the deck-swabbers starting their duties at 2.45 a.m., which is sometime before the sun comes up and a "Dickens of a time” before breakfast. Despite this state of rather uncomfortable "lodgings" and a few other complaints, we were glad to get away from the infested barracks we had encountered in Egypt (this referred to the Kasr-el-Nil barracks in Cairo) and anxious to get to grips with the enemy at last - we were certainly soon to see active service in extreme reality”.

For many of us men, especially the young ones, this was only their second sea voyage in their lives. Brought up in rural Berkshire they had joined the regiment and had their first voyage from England to Egypt. One can imagine the feelings of these men having to leave their horses behind, being equipped with strange strappings and turned into infantrymen over-night! I was among many who cut off the ends of their long pants and put them under the strappings of the packs because not being used to these back bending "trimmings" much soreness was being allocated to previously untried portions of our anatomy – i.e. our shoulder blades.

On the troopship rumours soon spread that we were being landed at Gallipoli, few knew exactly where it was. Of course, we had heard of the Turks and even had been guards over early captured ones from the Suez area before we left Egypt, but I feel sure that many of us still had vague memories of seeing large dark men, bare-chested with large muscles and carrying an enormous sword, in school picture books. There were men in the Regiment who had seen some active service but most of us had only read reports of battles which did not portray the full hardship and pain that came but only told of the heroism and the victories. Despite surmises and inward thoughts encouraging a certain amount of tension I must state that the general morale of everyone was nothing less than very high, certainly no signs of anything approaching a "wind-up".

When we were about a mile from Gallipoli, we were transferred to Lighters and small Gun-boats then from these to large flat-bottomed rafts pulled by steam tugs and which took us, some 50 men to each raft, to as near as was possible to the assault point. From the rafts we jumped into the sea and had to wade up to our knees before reaching the shore. Personally I was on a raft which contained a tremendous number of live ammunition boxes and when the raft grounded I quickly waded towards the shore, I do not know where the ammunition went to and my only thought was to get on land and away from that load of explosive material because by now there was a terrific artillery barrage coming over from the Turks who by now realized that a new landing was in progress. Fortunately and miraculously the shells were missing us and I did not see any casualties around my "little unwanted world.” Everyone somehow scrambled onto the beach and with our entrenching tools working in top gear managed to form enough cover for just our heads and then opening fire at the Turkish trenches. As one trooper commented, amid the din and digging "There is a few digging records being broken," which remark as I remembered it long afterwards just about summed up how high was the morale of the men in such a position. Naturally we were all lying and firing from the prone position and suddenly bullets were striking the ground in front of us and obviously being fired from behind us. It was discovered that they were coming from a large clump of scrub not far behind us; concentration on that scrub was quick and even more quick was the appearance of a very scantily-clad Turkish girl. Our first prisoner; and we found that she was painted a kind of green to match the colour of the surrounding scrub. She had been busy, as we knew by a number of identity discs and watches she had put on her arms and legs. She must have been a crack shot and there were other women captured later who had also been well trained. We held our line formed when we had become really entrenched and it was not until the sun stopped shining that we were able to somewhat relax and, despite the now rather spasmodic firing exchanges, consolidate, our position, brew-up, and finding our bully-beef and hard biscuits hardly one man among us thought, when we landed, that we should live long enough to require any sustenance. For the next few days we certainly were able to enjoy a much needed rest and able to write letters home, clean our rifles and, even on one or two occasions allowed to swim in the sea which certainly helped to clear away the sweat discourage and dirt and discourage the hordes of flies from settling on us.

From Cape Helles we could see the whole of the peninsula with Achi Baba stretching to the sky with its range upon range of hills on either side, and as one trooper said, "What a place for a picnic in peace time." The presence of several British battleships now moored in the Bay were morale boosting, and started heavy firing into the Turkish positions on the hills but the Turks replied with a series of heavy barrages and with their commanding view of our movements there was really nowhere they could not bombard. A favourite target was the pure water supply centre on the beach and the duties of men having to go down from our trenches with some dozen water bottles for a "fill-up" became such a hazard that many of the ships' Captains, anchored off-shore, offered to send us some of their own much needed supplies. Increased air observation by both British and Turkish planes on troop movements provided some diversion and anxious moments for all the ground forces watching the several "dog-fights" which ensued.

The day now came when everyone knew that we were going to be involved in a large scale attack on the Turkish well held and strong positions on and around Scimitar Chocolate Hill. The whole Brigade was re-grouped and marched some seven miles to a point from which the attack would be launched. We arrived hot and tired in the darkness and bivouacked under the protection of the huge cliffs; smoking was strictly forbidden and all possible elimination of noise was a top priority. Morning came with the usual quick brilliancy the sun bestowed on land and sea. Consultations between commanding officers and Brigade staff were soon taking place and then all ranks were allowed to have a swim in section rotation, and what a refreshing “dip” that was to all. I well remember coming out of the water and drying myself and very near to me was an officer with the Union Jack tattooed right across his chest- it was our Brigadier, Lord Longford. What a wonderful leader he was and what a loss to all those who knew him when he was one of the first to be killed later that day. Lleading us across Salt Lake with his revolver in one hand and his officer's cane in the other a lone figure and a great inspiration to those following but such an obvious target the Turks quickly observed and ended a great leadership. [Longford was killed in the charge on Hill 70, not the crossing the Salt Lake.]

Early afternoon started with a terrific bombardment by all our ships in the Bay on the Turkish positions and before this had finished we were ordered forward, and Ashmead-Bartlett later wrote in the "Reading Mercury" of September 11th 1915, "This splendid body of troops in action for the first time and led by men bearing some of the best known names in England moved out from under cover and proceeded to cross Salt Lake in open order and, of course, under a blazing sun, a terrific bombardment from the British ships, increasing air activity and an ever increasing and devastating barrage from the Turkish guns. So fully exposed were the advancing lines that the terrific and heavy shrapnel fire from the enemy was causing heavy casualties, but the Yeomen never-wavered and eventually reached the front of Hill 70 together with the Infantry Brigade sent up in support of the Yeomanry." Certainly the casualties were very, very heavy by the time we reached the first trench; crossing this died up vast stretch of land with no cover beyond lumps of scrub and small bushes, with vision blotted out by enormous clouds of smoke from the burning grass and scrub and with the incessant roar of the guns from the ships, the reply barrage from the large guns, howitzers, and 6" naval guns of the Turks, the ever increasing rifle and machine gun fire, made orders from those officers still alive unintelligible and the whole scene only to be described as a "perfect inferno". However, onward went the British lads furiously contesting every yard, taking Turkish trenches under concentrated fire in the now waning light. The southern slopes of Chocolate Scimitar Hill were reached and the battered remains of the Brigade of Yeomanry dug themselves in and made ready for a further advance. At this point the Turks seemed to be feeling the fury of the attacking forces and started to vacate the knoll on the northern side of the Hill and preparing to meet the advance of the now combined forces of Yeomen and Infantrymen. For about an hour the two sides faced each other, then the Yeomanry moved forward and formed up in one solid mass under the western and northern slopes. It was now almost dark and the attack seemed to have reached its peak when suddenly (under whose orders no one seems to remember) the Yeomanry, as one man, charged right up the Hill and were met with a withering fire which rose to a crescendo as they neared the crest undaunted in the face of this furious resistance. At one moment they seemed below the crest and the next right on the top. Those Turks who had not fled in time from the trenches were bayoneted and a great shout went up "WE HAVE WON HILL 70." Then the darkness took over and the battlefield had vanished leaving a vista of rolling clouds of smoke and large fires. Then the roar of rifle and machine gun fire started up again and the Turks were counter attacking, especially those who had never been driven off completely from the Knoll; these troops enfiladed our soldiers with machine guns and artillery and the Yeomen who had dashed down the reverse slopes in pursuit of the Turks were counter-attacked END OF PAGE 6 and so great were their losses that they had to return back over the top of the Hill and down again the northern slope. The troops then heard the order "Retreat" (it was said afterwards that this order was given by a Turk dressed in a British Officer's jacket but no confirmation of this was ever to my knowledge made or accepted by the British High Command.) However, it was now apparent that the Hill could not be held by the apparently small number of troops now available and these withdrew to their original positions where the battle started. So Chocolate Scimitar Hill was won and lost in a few hours but nothing will lessen the glory of that final charge of England's Yeomen.

In Sir Ian Hamilton's despatches he stated "The advance of these British Yeomen was a sight calculated to send a thrill of pride through anyone with a drop of English blood running in their veins. Such superb martial spectacles are rare in modern war."

There were many other reports of this engagement all speaking highly of the men’s courage. Generally speaking it should always be possible to bring up reserves under some sort of cover however, for a mile-and-a-half there was nothing to conceal a small animal much less some of the most stalwart soldiers England had ever sent from her shores. One shell would take toll of a cluster of men, there they lay. Strict orders were not to stop and pick up the wounded. There was no straggling, not a man hung back or hurried, but having to go forward and not wait to help one of your comrades was perhaps the hardest order the troops ever had to obey and one Trooper wrote, “Seeing our friends falling and not able to help them made us all the more eager to go forward and get at the Turks and everyone of us felt like a bull seeing red and possessed of a thousand devils." No wonder that when these men came to grips with the Turks and they saw the cold steel held with such determination they retreated yelling "Allah", “Allah".

It is recorded that many carried their friends who were unable to walk or suffering from the effects of the dense smoke, etc. back to the base and Casualty Clearing Stations and it was of these END PAGE 7 men, Trooper Frederick Potts who, though wounded In the thigh when in one of the Turkish trenches, brought into the British lines one of his pals, Trooper Andrews who was badly wounded in the groin and could hardly move. Trooper Potts, after a great struggle to keep moving with his badly wounded friend eventually placed him on a shovel and despite numerous near complete mishaps, lack of water, near misses from bullets eventually crawled up to a trench and to his immense relief found it occupied by British troops. For his valour Trooper Frederick Potts was awarded the Victoria Cross and when he returned to Reading he was honoured by the Corporation and invited to every function in the Town for some time to come.

I am sorry to state that Trooper Potts (made a Corporal on his return to England) died in 1943, but I am happy to add that Trooper Arthur Andrews is still alive. The story of Trooper Potts V.C., who won the V.C. on Burnt Hill, Gallipoli, has already been graphically recorded in one of Reading's well-known Papers.

Many men had miraculous escapes from death or bad wounds going across Salt Lake. Trooper Alonzo Ward Rider wrote, "It was hell. Shrapnel was flying all around us and men were dropping like nine-pins. I was blown off my feet and hit in the thigh but went on." Trooper P. Ingamells of Maidenhead stated,My nerves are completely smashed up and I hope I never have to see such a terrible sight again. I did not feel frightened at the time -it was the next day. We passed through one line of trenches and then had to make a bolt for it over flaring ground. The Turks were using explosive bullets - two exploded a couple of inches from my feet and one just over my head." Trooper Hobbs of Windsor said, "A bullet went through my right sleeve and into my breast pocket, through my pocket book into a pocket on the other side of my tunic, then through another book and out without my getting a scratch - a Doctor said you would have been a "goner" but for those books." One seasoned campaigner, Corporal E.W. Sturgess wrote to his sister in Crowthorne, “I have been in some tight corners, but this beats all. South Africa is not to be compared with it: it was proper Bedlam-hell let loose."

Trooper T.H.N. Chamberlain of "B" Squadron, and one of the youngest Yeoman in the Regiment was lying wounded in his leg, arm and neck for some 12 hours between the British Lines and the Turkish trenches. He was brought in by two Stretcher-bearers from the Dorset Regt who had heard moans, and though bullets were still flying around, they crawled out and carried this Trooper to the British Trenches - a very brave act by these two men and very possibly saved a life. Trooper Chamberlain had already been reported "Killed in action" and his people in Reading had been notified, then later another telegram stated "Wounded and missing"- the eventual news of his existence to his Mother came from himself in hospital some weeks after his presumed death! He is now probably the youngest 1st Line Yeoman left, who will always remember the great comradeship that existed throughout the Berkshire Yeomanry and how the older men used to "Father" him when he joined up at Fakenham as a very "green youngster." He served throughout the second War as an Officer, mostly overseas, and has contributed the fore-going description of the Regiment's greatest battle, the Battle for Hill 70 (Burnt Hill) on August 21st 1915 after the Gallipoli Landing. On that day the Berkshires lost five officers and 160 men either killed, wounded or reported missing. The use of untried cavalry as infantrymen in this battle has been criticised, but the Yeomen obeyed every command, reached and took their objective in the only way they knew- bolt upright and advancing in cavalry formation towards the enemy. They were brilliantly led with their officers right out in front but unfortunately the chain of command was broken early and it could be argued that if the men had still been united through leadership they would have held Hill 70 until reinforcements arrived. Some old comrade sent me a copy of an adaptation based on the "Charge of the Light Brigade" and I should like to add this "poem" to this small chronicle of events and. happenings which occurred on August 21st and 22nd 1915 - sixty years ago this August.

So much more could be added to recall the actions of the Berks Yeomanry after the regiment had been made up to strength [with] 2nd 3rd line drafts from England and the fighting that occurred when the Yeomanry Brigade, now in their rightful role as cavalry, commenced duties in the Palestine Campaign at Suez and displayed again great fortitude, endurance and fighting qualities during the many small encounter with the Turks & Bulgarians and the three larger and, more important battles for the eventual possession of Gaza. I should like to mention here that in the second fight for this town the whole [6th Mtd] Brigade of Cavalry was, while still holding the road out of Gaza, counter-attacked by many thousands of Turkish troops that had been held in reserve beyond the town, late in the afternoon, and it was discovered after many hours of the Yeomanry holding off these fanatical hordes that the order to the cavalry to retreat to positions held by the British Infantry who had also been recalled from the attack on Gaza, had never reached the Commanding Officer because the Bedouins had cut the communication wires. Dawn was approaching when the Yeomen together with the Australian Light Horse galloped through an ever decreasing gap enfiladed and raked, by Turkish fire to safety; the casualties were extraordinarily few, due to very erratic and spasmodic enemy shooting and our four-footed pals - our horses. Unfortunately the pack-horse on which was loaded our machine gun etc. was practically pulled along by another Trooper and myself dropped dead when we pulled up the other side of Gaza - very distressing to all of the gun-team who always made such a fuss of this small and wonderful little animal who had died doing his duty - surely worthy of an animal "Cross for valour."

After the fall of Gaza to our Forces the Regiment was engaged in a fairly fierce though not of many hours duration encounter with a large force of Turks concentrated near Beersheba and supported with high calibre guns. I mention this because in the final phases of this fight the cavalry were ordered to charge the guns which were now causing some casualties, and the Berks in the centre of the attack rode straight at the nine large guns directly in front of them and despite the fact that the Turkish gunners levelled the barrels of these heavy Field Guns and many yeomen - including the O.C.- being killed, all the guns were taken, together with many Turkish and Bedouin soldiers who could not face the thrusting swords of the British. It has been told that this was the last cavalry charge made in the 1914-19 War and if it was it will be recorded in the Annals of the Berkshire Yeomanry and included in the excellent Museum Archives which I understand Major J.W. Isaacs, T.D. is already successfully compiling and editing at the TAVR Centre (94 Berks Yeo. Signal Sqdn (V) Bolton Road, Windsor, Berks. Many years after this "Charge" was made I met an ex-Officer who was in charge of the British supporting artillery and these were his words It was the magnificent and inspiring sight I had ever witnessed and my gunners just ceased firing and watched the whole episode".

Some few weeks after this engagement I was again a casualty during a skirmish with the Turkish Cavalry and afterwards took up duties with the Hedjaz Forces ( the Arab formation in which the late Col. Lawrence gained such fame - and some misunderstanding by the War Office after the cessation of hostilities) so I did not participate in the rather spectacular entry of the British when that wonderful officer, General Allenby, (once a Cavalry Commander himself) led his troops triumphantly into Jerusalem. Records of the Berkshire Yeomanry from this point until the end of the war are no doubt available, to those so interested, through Major Isaac's valuable work in preparing the above mentioned Museum and those of us who have been spared will still have really deep and lasting memories of our comrades who formed and forged the wonderful comradeship that always existed in this Berkshire Regiment of Yeomanry and that of the Yeomanry Brigade made up from Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Dorsetshire Yeomanry.

Tributes in plenty have been paid to the leadership and courage of the officers by well-known writers, war correspondents and high officials at the War Office and in Parliament, and although I have recalled incidents and. the names of those officers concerned., at the moment those springing from my memory are Lord Longford, who so gallantly led, us at Suvla Bay, Brig-Gen. J.T. Wigan, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., Col. Henderson, Major Hughes, Major L. Sutton (later decorated and honoured by King George V), Major E.S. Gooch, our very worthy and brave Padre, The Rev. A.G. Parham, M.C., my Troop Officers Lt. Benyon and Lt. D. Graham Niven (the fearless & well liked officer, killed at the Dardanelles, and father of the very well known screen star, David Niven). As I have stated, other names at the moment escape, me, but come to my memory-at various times when I recall moments of happiness and -again when I remember sad happenings. Always though the years roll on so quickly and remembering becomes a little more difficult, shall I treasure the friendships of my two trooper friends, - Ralph Shutler from Newbury (killed at the Dardanelles) and Teddy Gerber from Caversham, Reading, (Died from wounds in Palestine).

Nothing in this life would appear essential with the exception of a memory without it we should not be able to think our feelings, sufferings and retention of past happenings would be nil, so thanks be to God for a memory, especially when it concerns friendship.

Contributed by Capt. T.H.N. Chamberlain, who served with the 1st Berkshire Yeomanry as Trooper T.H. Chamberlain from 1914-17, in the Hedjaz Forces 1917-22 and in the 1939 war until 1948 overseas as an Officer, and was probably the "youngest" soldier of the Berks Regt. who serviced the Dardanelles campaign.

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Andrew, outside the Great War period I think, but during which periods was the white horse used as a collar- I think your colleague has bought one fitted with a pin/sweetheart. Also was or is the badge nicknamed the 'wonky donkey' within the regiment or is that just a collectors name for the badge?

Any luck with Gosling information from Lambourn or Newbury? Best wishes for Christmas and New Year, Paul.

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  • 4 months later...

Interesting to see Ralph Shutler mentioned - I am currently researching him and another Trooper, Horace William Parker, for my Newbury Remembers project. Both died in the attack on Scimitar Hill. I don't suppose you have enlistment or other details on these two Andrew?

Newbury Weekly News, 30 September 1915 – Local War Notes

Trooper H W Parker, of Rose-villa, Pyle-hill, is now reported not to be missing, a communication to that effect having been received on Friday last.

I am assuming the 'reported not to be missing' was not good news as he is recorded as KIA on 21 August.

Newbury Weekly News, 21 October 1915 – Local War Notes

No information has yet been received by the parents of Tpr Ralph Shutler as to his whereabouts. He was with the 1st Squadron Berks Yeomanry when they were engaged in the big fight on Chocolate Hill on August 21st, and since then has been missing. Any tiding will be gratefully welcomed by Mr and Mrs Shutler, 47, Cheap-street, Newbury.

Phil

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  • 3 months later...

Hi Phil

If you still want the info I will see what I have tomorrow

Regards

Andrew

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Thanks Andrew, every bit helps.

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