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Gallipoli: Early Disembarkation and Survivability


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Hello - I thought it would be interesting to try and explore the likelihood of survival (unscathed) for infantrymen disembarking early* at Gallipoli.

 

While it is fairly easy to reconstruct casualty rolls and fatality rolls, it is significantly more difficult to ascribe these casualties to specific cohorts of men. Of the original MEF, the units that would qualify as troops that landed early and served throughout the campaign are limited to the 29th Div, the 42nd (East Lancashire) Div (TF) and the RND. The records of the latter are dispersed and the residual diaries are small in number. The 29th Div and 42nd Div units are the ones most likely to yield any meaningful data. Occasionally one stumbles on some rather interesting gems:

 

The 42nd (East Lancashire) Div (TF) arrived at Gallipoli in early May 1914, a few weeks after the first landings. The formation was to stay on the peninsula until Dec 1915 -aside from very short breaks. One unit - the 1/5th Bn Manchester Regiment (TF) managed to maintain some incredible detail in its war diary - possibly one of the most beautifully written diaries I have seen. At the end of each month the diarist recorded the casualaties - as most did, however the 1/5th Manchesters also recorded the fate of the original members and each reinforcement draft as separate entities. Consequently it is possible to see how many men who landed in May 1915 became casualties through the campaign. Here is the summary:

 

 

 

1st /5th Manchester Regt (TF)

Summary of Casualties to 31/12/15

 

...................................Original.....[ Battle Casualties ] .....Final.........Implied

Detail..........................Strength....KIA....WIA...MIA...Tot...Strength...Non Batt Cas

 

Original Members........818..........123.....427....44...594......152..........66

1st Draft......................100............20.......35....10.....65........16..........19

2nd Draft.......................20.............2..........4......3......9...........2...........9

3rd Draft......................118.............5........10......-.....15.........27.........76

4th Draft........................23.............-...........-.......-.......-...........6..........17

5th Draft........................95.............1..........2......-.......3.........32..........60

6th Draft..........................5.............-...........-......-........-...........4...........1

 

Total...........................1,179........151.....478....57...686.......239.......248

 

Of the original 818 ORs that disembarked in May 1915, shortly followed by the 1st Reinforcements (technically part of War Establishment) battle casualties and and fatalities were 71.7% and 15.6% respectively. The percentage of men still standing at the end of the campaign represented 18.3% of the original cohort.

There are two striking aspects of this small sample:

 

1. The high number of casualties and the low number of reinforcements - possibly constrained by the logistical challenges for the TF in 1915. On the 31st Dec 1915 the battalion was reduced to just 239 men or roughly a quarter of its War Establishment.

2. The high number of wounded (50% of the original cohort) and the low numbers remaining on 31st Dec. The implication being that few wounded men recovered sufficiently to return to duty in theatre. In extremis, if the men standing on 31st Dec 1915 had all been wounded and recovered (an unlikely scenario), it would imply that at least 64% of the wounded of the original cohort did not recover and return to duty in Gallipoli.

 

The records do not tabulate how many of the 239 survivors had been wounded and recovered. I strongly suspect the 2nd, 4th and 6th Drafts were recovered wounded and recovered sick, given their low numbers. It would seem logistically inefficient to send such small numbers from the UK.

We do however have data for the Officers. Of the Original 34 Officers:

 

Killed..............................7

Wounded.....................18 ( 2 would return to duty)

Missing..........................1

Sick...............................8 ( 1 would return to duty)

Total............................34

 

 

Battle Casualties:...........76.5%

Fatal Battle Casualties...20.6%

Overall Casualties........ 100% of which 8.8% (3 Officers) would return to duty.

 

The caveat is that we are dealing with small samples and the data can be swayed by small numbers.

Any mistakes are mine. MG

 

* There is a thread that explores the same thematic for BEF troops landing in France in August 1914.

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The 1/6th Bn Manchester Regt (TF) kept very similar records. Of the original 846 who landed in May 1915, only 19 men had 'not left the battlion' and were still standing on 31st Dec 1915, representing just 2.2% of the total. A further 63 men had at one time been away and returned - I assume this is largely returned sick and wounded - making a total of 82 'originals' or 9.7% of the first cohort. The breakdown of the men still standing in the other drafts is shown in the table below.

 

The diarist rather thoughtfully recorded the names of the 19 men; the RQMS, a CSM, three Sgts, 3 Cpls, one L/Cpl and 10 Private soldiers.

 

 

 

 

 

1st /6th Manchester Regt

 

 

Summary of Casualties to 31/12/15

 

 

 

 

 

...................................Original.....[ Battle Casualties ] .....Final.........Implied

 

 

Detail..........................Strength....KIA....WIA...MIA...Tot...Strength...Non Batt Cas

 

 

Original Members........846..........121.....378....53...552........82*........212

 

1st Draft........................50.............8.........12.....6.....26.........4...........20

 

2nd Draft.......................63...........18.........12.....7.....37.........2...........24

 

3rd Draft......................188.............3.........6.......-.......9.........19........160

 

4th Draft........................66.............-..........4...... -.......4.........30.........32

 

5th Draft..........................8.............-..........-........-.......-..........7............1

 

 

Total...........................1,221........150.....412....66...628.......144.......449

 

 

 

 

* 82 includes the 19 who had served continually plus the 63 who had been away and returned to the Battalion.

 

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phil andrade

Martin,

In your analysis following the tabulation in your OP, you allude to battle fatalities of 15.6%.

Presumably this applies to 123 KIA from a cohort of 818.

Doesn't this understate the case ?

The 44 MIA were probably dead ; of 427 WIA, there might well have been enough who died of wounds to raise the overall total of battle deaths to around 200. That 15.6% is thereby increased by half, if those missing and mortally wounded are allowed for.

I'd like to compare this with those 1914 BEF samples we've discussed.

Phil (PJA)

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Martin,

In your analysis following the tabulation in your OP, you allude to battle fatalities of 15.6%.

Presumably this applies to 123 KIA from a cohort of 818.

Doesn't this understate the case ?

The 44 MIA were probably dead ; of 427 WIA, there might well have been enough who died of wounds to raise the overall total of battle deaths to around 200. That 15.6% is thereby increased by half, if those missing and mortally wounded are allowed for.

I'd like to compare this with those 1914 BEF samples we've discussed.

Phil (PJA)

Quite probably. It merely shows what was recorded on the day. It is fairly clear, whatever the final numbers are, that very few survived the rigours of the Gallipoli campaign without becoming a casualty of one sort or another. It is worth remembering that the 19 men who survived unscathed had to face another three years of warfare. One wonders how many of the 19 made it to Armistice day with their battalion.

The fatalities for the 1/5th Bn at Gallipoli were 212 ORs and 10 Officers. So... 62 more fatalities than the 150 recorded in the diaries and 62 is not far off the 57 MIA.... It is a fair bet the first cohort's MIA were mostly KIA, which would push the fatalities above 20%. Doing a similar exercise for the 1/6th Bn (292 OR fatalities) again pushes their First Cohort fatalities over 20%.

I have not done any analysis of the 29th Div units, but casualty rates (and particularly fatalities) were significantly higher in this formation for reasons that are probably well understood. To my knowledge none recorded the casualties in the same way as the 1/5th and 1/6th Manchesters, so it is not possible (yet) to measure the survivability of men in the 29th Div. I would hazard a guess that it was very low single digits.

The 2nd Bn Hampshire Regt, 1st Bn Essex Regt and 4th Bn Worcesters all lost more than 700 men killed. All lost more than 200 killed in a single day and the 4th Worcesters lost a staggering 363 in a single afternoon.This is more than 75 other (British) battalions each lost in the whole campaign, such was the scale of this particular tragedy. When one considers these three units were in the same Brigade (88th Inf Bde) we begin to see the asymmetry in the distribution of casualties at Gallipoli. Interestingly the fourth battalion in the 88th Inf Bde was the 1/5th Royal Scots (TF) which saw less than half the fatalities of its three immediate neighbours. There are may factors that could explain this, starting with the massive differences in the supply of reinforcements between the regulars and the TF.

This was not by chance. The 29th Div were used again and again. Unsurprisingly the 88th Inf Bde kept meticulous records and daily casualty tables so, with some considerable transcription work it is possible to rebuild their rather harrowing casualty states. I doubt we will be able to isolate the first cohorts though.

It is interesting to compare the 1st Bn Lancashire Fusiliers (29th Div) data with that of the 1/5th, 1/6th, 1/7th and 1/8th Bns Lancashire Fusiliers (42nd Div) - units on the peninsula for roughly the same period. The regulars again see double the level of casualties of the TF battalions fighting in the same areas, which might suggest they were used rather differently to the TF.

There are a number of Regular Battalions whose TF battalions also served* and similar comparisons can be made (although some have different time frames and need the necessary adjustments). We can also analyse the Kitchener battalion data from initial disembarkation. The Lancashire Fusiliers and the Hampshire Regt had regular, TF and Kitchener battalions in theatre. Lots of material that might possibly reveal some interesting thematics.

MG

* KOSB, SWB, Essex, Hampshire, Lancs Fus

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phil andrade

In some tabulations the died of wounds are conflated with the KIA.

It makes a significant difference.

It seems that this is the case with the 1/5th Bn.

Phil (PJA)

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Martin

I have done some research on 1002 officers and men of 1st Essex who landed on 25th April. I attempted to trace these first day landers throughout the war., including subsequent service in other units. A grand total of , drum roll, one other rank served with the battalion throughout the war. In summary 92% of them became casualties before the war's end. I will dig out the data and post some more details tomorrow.

Clive

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Martin

Attached my analysis of 1,006 officers and men of 1st Essex who landed at W beach Gallipoli on 25th April. I will admit to a degree of surprise at the overall survival rate of the initial cadre given the subsequent service of the Battalion in France through to the end of 1918.

Regards

Clive

post-4842-0-48108500-1432280534_thumb.jp

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Clive.

This is wonderful research. I appreciate just how much time this would have taken. Thank you for sharing it.

Can I ask If the wounded are individually named or whether the numbers are drawn from the diary returns? I am also curious to know the number of reinforcements the regiment sent out to the 1st Battalion during the campaign and the breakdown of the size of the drafts and dates if they are available.

Thank you again for sharing this data. It is quite revealing. MG

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phil andrade

One third of all the men in that battalion who landed at Gallipoli died during that campaign, then.

Sobering to say the least.

And a very clear rebuttal to my fixational idea that the New Zealand contingent suffered a uniquely high death rate there.

Thanks , Clive , and well done.

Phil (PJA)

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Martin

I have the names and service numbers of the 1,006 individuals who made up the initial cadre so all the figures are aggregated up from this source list. Getting the "originals" was much harder than I supposed with the transfers out!

I do have the names of another 1,145 men who also served in 1st Essex in Gallipoli but I have yet to analyse these in the same way. Identifying men to drafts is again much more difficult that I expected. Clerks happily interchange date of departure from UK with date of entry into theatre, so what at first glance appear two separate drafts are in fact the same. Some 1914 casualties from the 2nd Battalion in France were re-posted to Gallipoli and without the service papers it is impossible to be certain when they landed.

I know that the casualty figures for the drafts will be understated. I have not traced casualties sustained after transfer out from the Essex in the same way that I have for the originals. Nor have I reviewed service papers to the same degree.

The very high "Died" figure for the drafts includes the 174 men lost on board the Royal Edward on 13.8.15. They did not technically enter a theatre of war but I have always regarded them as Gallipoli casualties. But with appropriate caveats the figures for the subsequent drafts and a comparison with the originals as below

Best

Clive

post-4842-0-08233400-1432301116_thumb.jp

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Clive,

Thank you again for sharing the additional data. I have done a very similar exercise with a number of battalions of the BEF in 1914, taking the same approach. I appreciate just how painstaking the work must have been. As you point out, there is the additional factor in Gallipoli drafts of recovered BEF invalids being sent in reinforcement drafts to the Dardanelles. Unravelling these would be fairly challenging.

The data does in some small way challenge Lewis-Stempel's view that theatres outside the Western Front were "decidedly less hazardous" if the men of the 1st Bn Essex Regt could speak, I suspect they would have a different view. While the 1st Bn Essex Regt data is only one battalion of over a hundred British battalions that served in the Dardanelles, the data does shed some light into a dark corner of the campaign.

I have long suspected that the data for the infantry battalions of the 29th Division might be as bad as anything experienced by the infantry who disembarked BEF in France and Flanders in August 1914. The data that you kindly posted certainly begins to bear that out. The caveat of course is that the 1st Bn Essex Regt may simply have been an out-lier in the data. Given the aggregate casualty figures available in the diaries and CWGC, while the Essex Regt data might be at the extreme end, it is by no stretch of the imagination an isolated case.

I am part of the way through the 4th Bn Worcestershire Regt data and will post in due course.

There was an interesting sub-theme that came out of the BEF data; of the early disembarkers who died during the war, a very high percentage died in 1914 and a very low percentage died in the subsequent carnage of 1915-1918. Underpinning this was the high proportion of men discharged. The proportion wounded and medically discharged was surprisingly high and had a major impact on the first cohort data.

In the Essex data you posted I noted that the numbers discharged were very low - a marked contrast to the BEF data. I assume this was simply the numbers discharged during Gallipoli rather than during the whole war?. Is it possible to calculate the proportion of wounded who were subsequently discharged?

The reason I ask is that I suspect there is a deeply embedded misconception that large proportions of wounded returned to duty. The official data for the British Army suggest somewhere in the region of 60% of the wounded returned to duty, but this is something I have never seen supported in real data at infantry battalion level.

One other factor that the Essex Regt data reinforces is just how lethal the infantryman' role was. It shows lethality ratios three times higher than the average of the British Army for the whole war. While it is perhaps obvious the infantry lethality ratios would be higher than other arms, the magnitude, or difference compared to other arms is something that is not well understood. This data certainly shines some light on darker parts of the painful history of the British infantryman.

MG

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The 1/4th Bn Royal Scots (TF) embarked with 30 Officers and 941 ORs in May 1915. At the end of the campaign one Captain, the MO and 148 ORs managed to extricate themselves from the peninsula. I am not certain of the number of reinforcements the battalion received during the campaign, but it is likely to exceed a couple of hundred (I need to check). While possible, it is highly improbable that all the 148 ORs were 'originals'.

Even for 'late' arrivals, 'survivability' was challenging.

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Martin

For clarification, those I recorded as "invalided out" were those who do not appear in the casualty returns as wounded but were discharged before completion of service.

I have looked again at the 489 wounded within the cadre of men who landed on the 1st day. 169 were discharged either before the end of the war or before the completion of their term of service, which suggests that 65% did in fact return to duty. A further 23 of those not discharged returned to duty with the Labour Corps which suggests that, although they returned to duty, they were medically downgraded. Taking those two categories together would give a figure of 61% for those wounded who returned to front-line duty.

Regards

Clive

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Martin

For clarification, those I recorded as "invalided out" were those who do not appear in the casualty returns as wounded but were discharged before completion of service.

I have looked again at the 489 wounded within the cadre of men who landed on the 1st day. 169 were discharged either before the end of the war or before the completion of their term of service, which suggests that 65% did in fact return to duty. A further 23 of those not discharged returned to duty with the Labour Corps which suggests that, although they returned to duty, they were medically downgraded. Taking those two categories together would give a figure of 61% for those wounded who returned to front-line duty.

Regards

Clive

Thanks Clive.

Each piece of new data certainly helps build a clearer picture.

When I did the same exercise with the 2nd Bn Royal Sussex Regt, there was a significant proportion of recovered wounded that went on to serve elsewhere. Garrison Battalions and training establishments in particular. On the surface this might be seen as returning to full duty, but the reality (from the perspective of the original Battalion) is that these men's services were lost and needed to be replaced. My interpretation is that they would more than likely have been medically downgraded but still could fulfill a less strenuous role. The Sussex Regt kept a ledger recording the destiny of ever man which added an important layer of information to the medal roll and (limited) service record data.

MG

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10th Bn Hampshire Regt. This battalion was part of the ill fated 10th (Irish) Division. Originally its Pioneer Battalion, it was moved into the 29th Infantry Brigade shortly before deploying overseas, the role of the pioneers being taken over by 5th Bn Royal Irish Regiment. The fate of the 10th Irish Div and the Hampshire Regiment is interesting from an historical standpoint as the formation was part of the first 6 divisions of Kitchener's New Army, or K1. Three of the Divisions would serve at Gallipoli (the other three on the Western Front), however the Gallipoli Divisions would be the first Kitchener units to be used in the assault en masse on the 6th/7th Aug 1915. There were high hopes for these new formations.

The 10th Hampshire Regt landed at ANZAC on 5th Aug 1915 with 24 Officers and 725 ORs. One more Officer and a further 146 ORs joined the battalion on 11th Aug 1915. Total: 25 Officers and 871 ORs

By 20th August the Battalion had been reduced to 5 Officers and 330 ORs having suffered 431 battle casualties in a single day - over half its original strength. The following day (21st Aug) the battalion would suffer a further 153 battle casualties leaving only 2 Officers and 177 ORs.

Of the original cohort (main body plus fist reinforcements) 24% of the ORs were killed and 56% were wounded. Total OR battle casualties within 3 weeks of landing were 694 or 80%. At the end of September, the battalion departed Gallipoli with 277 ORs, of which 134 were reinforcements (9th Sep 15), meaning somewhere in the region of 143 of the original 871 had made it through just two months of warfare.

While the fate of the 10th Hampshires might not be 'typical', the other K1 battalions suffered in the same order of magnitude with few exceptions. MG

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I am doing some work on the 13th Div and particularly the 39th infantry Brigade. The results are rather grim reading but according to the Brigade war diary the 9th Bn Worcestershire Regt had no Officers left on the 12th August 1915, only a month after first landing at Cape Helles (16th July).

Most of the mayhem occurred on the ridges and gullies approaching Chunuk Bair. A number of battalions were in a perilous position at some stage between 10th-12th August in the shambolic operations at ANZAC. Some were partially over-run and there are a few instances of Companies being isolated and annihilated. The repetitious nature of failure, using the same tactics and the same lack of preparation in these operations is painful to read. Thousands of men's lives frittered away on flimsy planning and chaotic organistation. Even by the very low standards of staff work and operational planning at Gallipoli the operations in mid August at ANZAC would be hard to beat. What is particularly striking is the lack of any comprehension on the logistics of moving men at night through thick country. Expectations four months into the campaign were way too high and were never met. Despite this, tactics, and in particular the attention given to reconnaissance of the ground and a basic understanding of time and space, failed to change.The results were a disaster for the 13th division. The demise of the original cohort, similar to other campaigns, was masked by reinforcements.

On the data I have to hand, I suspect the probability of 'survival unscathed' for the original cohorts of the 13th Div will be about as low as the August men of the BEF.

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phil andrade

Another contender for records of extreme divisional fatality and wastage rates must be the 29th.

According to a footnote at the bottom of page 343 in Robert Rodes James's history of the campaign, the division suffered a loss of 34,011 casualties at Gallipoli. More shockingly, 9,042 were killed or missing . Virtually all those missing were dead. Just under eleven thousand were wounded and about fourteen thousand were incapacitated through sickness.

I would be interested to see if any of the divisions of the BEF suffered a comparable number of fatalites in 1914.

Phil (PJA)

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Another contender for records of extreme divisional fatality and wastage rates must be the 29th.

According to a footnote at the bottom of page 343 in Robert Rodes James's history of the campaign, the division suffered a loss of 34,011 casualties at Gallipoli. More shockingly, 9,042 were killed or missing . Virtually all those missing were dead. Just under eleven thousand were wounded and about fourteen thousand were incapacitated through sickness.

I would be interested to see if any of the divisions of the BEF suffered a comparable number of fatalites in 1914.

Phil (PJA)

According to the historian of the 29th Division, Capt Stair Gillon, only 14 Officers and 1,523 Other Ranks served continuously through the campaign without being invalided. A further 18 Officers and 1,405 Other Ranks were present at the landing and at the evacuation 259 days later who had been invalided during the operations.

Assuming a Division's war establishment was around 20,000 all ranks, it suggests that at most, only 7.6% of the men survived unscathed and another 7.0% returned to duty after being wounded or sick. This latter figure is intriguing as it suggest recovery rates were fairly low. For the above calculation to work, all the survivors would have to have been 'originals' which is highly unlikely. Given the Division saw total casualties of roughly 170% of war establishment and battle casualties of roughly 100% of war establishment, I suspect the 7.6% for 'unscathed survivors' of the original cohort is likely to be way too high and low single digits are more likely.

The 29th Div record keeping was pretty good. With a small amount of research I suspect it will be possible to establish a more precise figure. I would be surprised if it was greater than 5%. We need to be mindful that these stats are simply for The 259 days at Gallipoli and the 29th Div had close to another three years of fighting to do, including the Somme. I would be amazed if more than 1% of men survived unscathed to the end of the war in their units.

One sobering thought: fatalities were 45% of war establishment at Gallipoli. If the BEF's experience is any guide, 80-90% of these fatalities would have fallen on the original cohort. This might suggest fatality rates of around 40%.

MG

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phil andrade

Martin,

Those 259 days of Gallipoli.....in the event, the battle casualties were very much concentrated in a period of fewer than 150 days.

Rather like the BEF on the Western Front in 1914, when three months between Mons and First Ypres accounted for ninety per cent of the year's battle casualties, so, I reckon, we might ascribe the same preponderance to four months at Gallipoli.

Had it not been for the research that you have done, I would have been reluctant to believe the fatality of the ordeal that befell these infantry cohorts. And Gallipoli, I suspect, transcends even France and Flanders.

So much for a "less hazardous " theatre of war.

Phil (PJA)

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Those 259 days of Gallipoli.....in the event, the battle casualties were very much concentrated in a period of fewer than 150 days.

Rather like the BEF on the Western Front in 1914, when three months between Mons and First Ypres accounted for ninety per cent of the year's battle casualties, so, I reckon, we might ascribe the same preponderance to four months at Gallipoli.

Phil (PJA)

Taking British fatalities as a proxy, 81.8%* of casualties occurred in the first 4 months (123 days) which coincides with the aftermath of 22nd Aug 1915 and the cessation of large scale offensive operations by the British

This is also just marginally slightly short of the half-way point of the campaign, chronologically speaking.

MG

* Calc: 18,677 / 22,820 = 0.808

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phil andrade

This notional forty per cent fatality rate for Gallipoli's first cohorts is all the more startling because it applies to an entire division, as opposed to specific battalions.

Phil (PJA)

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This notional forty per cent fatality rate for Gallipoli's first cohorts is all the more startling because it applies to an entire division, as opposed to specific battalions.

Phil (PJA)

It might be worse than that. On average the battalions of the 29th Div suffered 539 fatalities each. A small amount of research would reveal what % fell on the original cohorts. It is worth noting the huge burden borne by the 88th Inf Bde.

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phil andrade

Those figures are more than grim, Martin : they're appalling.

In regard to the worst of them - 2nd Battalion Hampshires - they equate to roughly one hundred per cent of effective battle strength....and that's just for the number of deaths ; with wounded factored in, it smacks of something akin to annihilation.

Phil (PJA)

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The history of the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division (TF) has just arrived at my doorstep*. According to the author, the 42nd Div suffered total battle casualties of:

395 Officers - killed, wounded and missing

8,152 Other Ranks - killed, wounded and missing

The Division was employed at Gallipoli from early May 1915 to 9th Jan 1916 - very nearly the same time period as the 29th Div. It is interesting to note that the 29th Div's historian recorded battle casualties 34,011 casualties (presumably including non-battle casualties) of which 9,042 were killed or missing.

Just focusing on the 12 original battalions of the 42nd Div and 29th Div, there are remarkable differences between the two. The 29th Div's infantry suffered well over twice as many fatalities. Given the two Divisions were largely fighting side by side and sometimes relieving each other in the trenches, one might think that their exposure to the random nature of shelling etc was roughly parallel. Despite this, 29th Div infantry saw 6466 fatalities and 42nd Div's infantry saw 2,699. Casualties at the initial landings can not explain this huge differential. This might again suggest the way the TF Divisions were used in 1915 compared to the way the regular divisions were used was quite different, with a significantly larger burden of responsibility falling on the weary shoulders of the regulars.

All other things being equal, this suggests that an infantryman in the 29th Div at Gallipoli was 2.4 times more likely to die than an infantryman in the 42nd Div. This is something I was not expecting. There are doubtless lots of reasons, but the differential is quite staggering. From a commanders viewpoint, one of his Divisions was carrying a hugely disproportionate percentage of the attrition.

MG

* some pages have not been properly cut and are still unopened. Ex Libris Capt Reginald Roose Francis, Capt Royal Fus att 1/4th Bn East Lancashire Regt, 126th Bde, 42nd Div 6th Oct 1915-Sep 1917. War diary shows he joined on 7th Oct 1915 in the vicinity of the J trenches.

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