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Remembered Today:

3rd Field Ambulance AIF Landing account


gilly100
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For those with an interest in Field Ambulance comes this account from Andy Davidson who served with the 3rd Field Ambulance AIF and was present at the Landing. Recorded in the newspaper Advocate from Burnie, Tasmania 22 April 1936. Please note he mentions 8th Battalion, but I think it was more likely 7th Battalion. Interesting in that he names so many of his comrades. I would be interested to hear from any 3rd F Amb experts to perhaps verify the account. It is the majority of the account but not all. Some names I recognise, others I don't.

"Our small crowd of stretcher bearers, under the command of Capt McWhae had a lively entry into the war. We left Lemnos on the Devahna, and, under the shelter of Imbros, transferred to the destroyer Ribble, on which also were 2 Coys and HQ of thec12th Bn. Before daybreak we got into the boats to be towed and rowed ashore by naval ratings.

Intense rifle and MG fire was opened on us. "Bow" was the first to get hit, and as he fell forward his place was instantly taken by Ernie Gaunt, who pushed Frank Gill out of his way in his hurry to pick up the oar. I think none of our men would have been left alive but for one of the queer caprices of war. Two boat loads of 8 Bn men, well ahead of time, and a long way out of their course, came across our stern. Fire was instantly turned upon them, and their casualties were 100 per cent. Their boats drifted ashore about 300 yards to the left (north) of where we landed. This respite allowed us to get near the shore before fire was again directed on us.

I had to jump ashore and hold the boat on the beach until the unwounded of the bearers climbed out. 'Eccles' was one of the early ones to jump and fell by the bow of the boat, shot through the head. Following him was his boon companion (Hudson) who shared the same fate. Steve Sheath was next, and gave a queer twist and lay helpless in the water, shot through the spine. Syd Rosser later went back under heavy fire to help him. His help was of no avail; but for this brave act he was awarded the DCM....."

Perhaps GrantM can chime in? All the same an interesting account largely because of the number of men named.

Ian

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Thank you for your Post

Gill

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  • 3 weeks later...

188 Private Frank Morley GILL was eventually KIA 22/9/1915

Steve Sheath is actually 1100 Private Steven SHEAF who DOW in Egypt on 4/5/1915

221 Private Alfred ECCLES and 229 Private Frank HUDSON were buried together at Gallipoli but their graves subsequently lost. Fortunately someone took a snap of the grave beforehand. They are remembered on the Lone Pine Memorial.

post-2918-0-34490900-1406512186_thumb.jp

Cheers,

Tim L.

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Thanks Tim

Looks like they were buried close to where they fell. A photo I had not seen before but should have. Cheers for the input.

Ian

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  • 8 months later...

One of the young Naval naval officers from the HMS Ribble who I believe was one of those who helped row these men to shore was Geoffrey Stopford-Sackvile, from Northamptonshire. He was wounded in action at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, and sent to the Bombay Relief Hospital in Alexandria, where he died just one day before his 22nd birthday on 21 May 1915. He was buried nearby in Alexandria. Would be interested in learning more as I am writing an article about the wartime history of this family which also lost another son, the heir to Drayton House, during WWI.

Many thanks.

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This is the transcription of Ribble's log per the Naval History Net – see http://www.naval-history.net/OWShips-WW1-10-HMS_Ribble.htm

and for the original page see http://oldweather.s3.amazonaws.com/ADM%2053-57771/ADM%2053-57771-031_0.jpg

25 April 1915

Place

Place: off Gaba Tepe

Lat 40.2, Long 26.2

Other: Commenced dis-embarkation of troops under heavy machine gun and rifle fire (Military casualties 2 killed 15 wounded)

Other: Secured alongside "Clan Magillifroy". Dis-embarked wounded and embarked troops

Other: Landed troops under heavy rifle fire (Military casualties 2 wounded)

Person: Boarded: Brig General & staff (from "Minnewaska"

Other: Dismebarked troops (Casualties - nil)

Other: Took water tank in tow to shore and employed in dis-embarking and landing stores

Other: Received 1 dead rating (seaman of "Chelmar") from a boat

Other: Transported troops from A.28 to shore. Under heavy shrapnel fire. (Military causalties - 2 wounded)

Other: embarked 12 wounded and 1 wounded prisoner from shore

Other: Secured to A.23. Disembarked 15 wounded and 3 dead

Other: Ship's casualties - Wounded 4.45am Sub LT G.W. Stopford Sackville (Serious) 7.00pm Lg. Sea. J.W. Wilson (Slight)

Other: 4.0 commenced disembarkation of troops under heavy machine gun & rifle fire (Military casualties 2 killed - 15 wounded)

6.0 secured alongside "Clan Magillifroy". Disembarked wounded & embarked troops

Other: 8.05 Landed troops under heavy rifle fire (Military casualties 2 wounded)

Other: 8.20 secured to Minniwaka & embarked Brig General & staff

10.0 Disembarked troops (Casualties - Nil)

11.30 proc'd

Other: 1.30 Took water tank in tow to shore & employed disembarking & landing stores

Other: Received ! dead rating (Seaman of Chelmer) from a boat

Other: 6.30 transported troops from A28 to shore. Under heavy shrapnel fire (Military casualties - 2 wounded)

Other: 8.50 embarked 12 wounded & 1 wounded prisoner from shore

11.0 secured to A23 disembarked 15 wounded & 3 dead

Other: 12.05 Slipped and procd Co as reqd, speed kts

Other: 4.0 Stopped. Commenced dis-embarkation of troops under heavy machine gun and rifle fire (Military casualties 2 killed - 15 wounded).

5.30 Procd

6.0 Secured alongside "Clan Magillifray". dis-embarked wounded and embarked troops.

8.05 Landed troops under heavy rifle fire (Military casualtites, 2 wounded).

8.20 Secued to "Minniwaska" and embarked Brig Gen and staff.

10.00 dis-embarked troops (casualties nil)

11.30 procd.

Other: 1.30 Took water tank in tow to shore and employed dis-embarking and landing stores. received one dead rating (Seaman off "Chelmer" from a boat.

5.0 Secured to A 28.

6.30 Transported troops from A 28 to shore under heavy shrapnel fire (Military casualties - 2 wounded).

8.50 embarked 12 wounded and one wounded prisoner from shore.

11.00 Secrued to A 23 dis-embarked 15 wounded + 3 dead

Person: Other: Sub Lt G.W. Stopford-Sackville: Serious wound

Person: Other: 7.00 Lg Sea J.W. Wilson: slight wound

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Interesting Michael and thanks for the link,

Just recently the Red Cross flag that flew on North Beach by C Section, 3rd Field Ambulance that first day was located in the hands of a collector and historian in Canada. Arrangements have been made for it be be brought back to Western Australia this year to be toured around the state, and possibly bought for rather a large sum. Marked on the flag in a corner were the initials of an AD Kemp as well as C Section 3rd Field Ambulance April 1915. Seems it was given to Captain McWhae in charge of C Section at some later stage. In 1980's it was found in the roof of an aquatic complex in Perth and wound up in Canada. McWhae's medals ended up with an historical society in WA and one of its members who had a relly in 11bn at Gallipoli, wound up in Canada recently to bring it home. A terrific story and journey. The flag looks to be in great condition. One can read the story by googling The West Australian newspaper and clicking on the Anzac Centenary box. I bet Grantmal of this forum will be chuffed to see this.

Back where it belongs soon I hope.

Ian

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Thanks for the cue, Gilly. Yes, chuffed! To think of all the hours I spent swimming up and down that pool........

In answer to the query on Stopford Sackville is this excerpt from a letter written by the Ribble's skipper, Capt Ralph Wilkinson (IWM Documents.22262):

'I took 430 of 12th Battalion Australian Infantry, from a transport (Devanha) at 2am…I had a man sounding in the bows; he had just reported 12 feet, & I had rung stern, when they opened fire on us from the cliffs at a range of about 300 yards. I was towing six boats alongside and before I could get them away I had 2 killed and 15 wounded on my decks. Among the latter was my own poor sub, Stopford-Sackville, who was shot through the head…..A leading seaman was shot in the thigh when Sackville was, the latter was standing amidships superintending the soldiers getting into the boats, when he was hit in the head, spun right around and was caught as he was falling overboard….I put him onboard a transport and do not know where he is, as she has sailed. I had a bullet through my sleeve and a couple between my legs as I was leaning against the searchlight. The ship’s side was ringing from the bullets….

......Henderson, the coxswain and the Maltese steward were very good with the wounded. They were put in our cabins and in the ward-room……poor Sackville…looked just like a girl, lying in the ward-room, his face deathly white and a crimson bandage round his head. He was such a nice boy and I had grown to like him awfully. I do hope he will live, but am afraid there is not much hope. I believe he was taken to Alexandria.'

The Ribble's log kindly supplied by Michael raises an interesting question. On the first run in to disembark troops the ship was under 'heavy machine gun and rifle fire', on the second run it was 'heavy rifle fire' only. Wilkinson, in his letter, answers thus: 'By this time the first gallant crowd had taken the ridge and put it across the maxims, so we only had two wounded.' Why did Wilkinson think he was under mg fire? He couldn't have been confused by echoes from the hills or by an outgoing burst of mg from a pinnace, floating as he was hundreds of metres offshore. Perhaps a burst of mg fire ringing against the ship's side could be discerned from the more desultory rifle fire? One for the experts.......

good on you,

Grant

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Great letter excerpt Grant,

Hope to see that book one day. As for the 'other' issue, well we already know the truth. Just have to be patient until the pendulum swings back the right way. Only a matter of time.

Ian

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Grant,

With regards to Ribble, there were two stages of the landing from this TBD. The first was 12th Battalion HQ's including the machine-gun section and three platoons from 'A' Company totalling 232 men.

These men were put into their boats some time after 4am which Ribble's log states was when the destroyer "Stopped, [and] commenced disembarkation of troops under heavy machine-gun and rifle fire. Military casualties 2 killed - 15 wounded".

The third stage of the landing from Ribble, 1 platoon from 'A' Company of the 12th Battalion and the 3rd Field Ambulance totalling 168 men were landed. It appears that Ribble did not proceed until 5.30am which means she was standing off North Beach landing troops for 90 minutes or thereabouts. Ribble only had 6 lifeboats from the Devhana as opposed to the other destroyer's 12 boats, so it is more than likely there were more than two stages from this destroyer. It is also possible from recent research to learn that these lifeboats could carry 30 men not 28 men which is thought to be the norm. Allowing for 5 seamen to row these boats back from shore it only allows 25 berths for troops on each trip. With 400 troops aboard Ribble I would think that at least three trips were made. Also, only 3 lifeboats were eventually returned to the Devhana.

T E B Howe from 'A' Company of the 12th wrote; "At 11pm we boarded the destroyer Ribble which had come alongside towing Devanha's boats. Some of us had to go below where we were very thoughtfully provided with hot cocoa by the sailors. About 5am we were roused by the sound of bullets pattering against the steel sides of the destroyer. As we came on deck the hills of Gallipoli stood up as if cut out of cardboard against the faint light of dawn. From somewhere on the undercliff the Turks kept up a constant fire and it has always seemed to me that the Ribble should have put a few rounds with her light guns into the scrub. It could have injured no one but the enemy and might have saved many of the casualties which followed. As it happened the officer who helped us into our boat was hit by a bullet in the act of saying goodbye and ......".

"A sailor called out, it's sheer murder".

"This is in sharp contrast to such cries as 'Come on Boys', they can't hit you which were to be heard later on".

"We were quickly towed inshore by a pinnace, the still air being rippled by the constant stream of bullets. When we reached shallow water the oars were got out and we rowed in the last few yards. Unfortuneately the first to reach the shore were the men of the 3rd Field Ambulance and they lost three killed and 13 wounded before they got to cover. Our turn came next and several of us were wounded while jumping into the water and running towards the shingle bank. Here we remained pinned down by rifle and machine-gun fire until one of our own machine-guns [possibly one of the 12th's machine-guns which had just landed in the second stage from Ribble] and the firing abruptly ceased. During this time a tow from Galeka in attempting to land a little further north lost over 100 men out of the 140 in the boats".

And from McWhae's account as posted on the AWM website, "On board the Ribble, Captain Douglas McWhae was waiting for the return of the lifeboats, being towed back by a steam pinnace. It was almost light now, about 5am and a savage machine-gun and rifle fire was being directed at the ships and the men coming ashore by the Turks on the cliffs above the beach. Bullets were clanging off the destroyer's armour plating". McWhae recalled.

From the log of Midshipman Ronald Dent aboard Chelmer positioned on the starboard side of Ribble, "The troops commenced to get into their boats. They were as merry as anything and one would think they were going to a picnic instead tough scrap. Everything had to be performed as quietly as possible and by the time they had all got into the boats it was well past 0400 and commencing to get light. Directly they commenced to be towed towards shore (by a picket boat), the enemy opened rapid fire with Maxims and for the next half an hour there was nothing short of perpetual rain of bullets".

Finally, as for A15 Clan McGillvray she was transporting 'A' Company from the 7th Battalion and the whole of the 8th Battalion. Chelmer and Ribble ferried these troops ashore. Ribble's log says between 5.30am and 8.05. (Landed troops under heavy rifle fire)

Again Midshipman Dent says " We went back to the transport Clan McGillvray and got another lot. Arriving inshore this time the Maxim fire had abated somewhat, but what was worse they had commenced firing shrapnel, which did a considerable amount of damage. On our return to the transport, for another lot of troops, we put all the wounded aboard".

So your asumption that the second stage of the landing fro Ribble was a Maxim machine-gun free zone is incorrect and actually refers to the Clan McGillvray later in the morning

So lets have no more of this 'no machine-guns at the landing nonsence'.

Regards

LonerangerVC

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Great account LonerangerVC

It might also be that the firing on Howe and 3rd Field Amb men abated with the more northern arrival of the 7bn lads who got badly chopped up and where it was claimed much of the fire moved onto these boats. This aligns with that first account I put up on this thread.

Some very good research done on this and I fully concur on the presence of enemy machine guns. The Ribbles log is quite specific and is backed by other first hand accounts.

Ian

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  • 2 years later...
On 5 April 2015 at 05:46, grantmal said:

Thanks for the cue, Gilly. Yes, chuffed! To think of all the hours I spent swimming up and down that pool........

In answer to the query on Stopford Sackville is this excerpt from a letter written by the Ribble's skipper, Capt Ralph Wilkinson (IWM Documents.22262):

'I took 430 of 12th Battalion Australian Infantry, from a transport (Devanha) at 2am…I had a man sounding in the bows; he had just reported 12 feet, & I had rung stern, when they opened fire on us from the cliffs at a range of about 300 yards. I was towing six boats alongside and before I could get them away I had 2 killed and 15 wounded on my decks. Among the latter was my own poor sub, Stopford-Sackville, who was shot through the head…..A leading seaman was shot in the thigh when Sackville was, the latter was standing amidships superintending the soldiers getting into the boats, when he was hit in the head, spun right around and was caught as he was falling overboard….I put him onboard a transport and do not know where he is, as she has sailed. I had a bullet through my sleeve and a couple between my legs as I was leaning against the searchlight. The ship’s side was ringing from the bullets….

......Henderson, the coxswain and the Maltese steward were very good with the wounded. They were put in our cabins and in the ward-room……poor Sackville…looked just like a girl, lying in the ward-room, his face deathly white and a crimson bandage round his head. He was such a nice boy and I had grown to like him awfully. I do hope he will live, but am afraid there is not much hope. I believe he was taken to Alexandria.'

The Ribble's log kindly supplied by Michael raises an interesting question. On the first run in to disembark troops the ship was under 'heavy machine gun and rifle fire', on the second run it was 'heavy rifle fire' only. Wilkinson, in his letter, answers thus: 'By this time the first gallant crowd had taken the ridge and put it across the maxims, so we only had two wounded.' Why did Wilkinson think he was under mg fire? He couldn't have been confused by echoes from the hills or by an outgoing burst of mg from a pinnace, floating as he was hundreds of metres offshore. Perhaps a burst of mg fire ringing against the ship's side could be discerned from the more desultory rifle fire? One for the experts.......

good on you,

Grant

I have only just read this post from two years ago! Thank you so very much... Will forward it on the archivist at Drayton House as he too will be thrilled on the additional information about poor Geoffrey Stopford-Sackville... 

 

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