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RND Howe Bn, Gallipoli


ab0118
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I am trying to trace my Great-Grandfather, Robert Harrington's, service during WWI. Luckily my Grandmother has his service history and Hurt Certificate.

I know that he enroled with the RNVR in Liverpool on June 30th, 1913 and carried out his training on HMS Eaglet. He qualified as an Able Seaman and transferred to RNVR Mersey Headquarters in August 1914 before joining "'Victory IV' RND Howe Battalion' on 22nd August 1914. His regimental number is 7/211.

He served with the Howe Battalion until he was wounded at Gallipoli on the 2nd of May, 1915. He took shrapnel through his cheek, jaw and neck, later also losing his eye as a result. He was not operated on until a month later on the 4th of June! He received his hurt certificate on the 8th of June 1915 but was not invalided back to the UK until the 8th of August 1916. Between June 1916 and August 1916 he is listed as serving on "'Victory IX' RND 2nd Reserve Battn". He later received the 1914 Star, British War and Victory Medals.

This is all I know so far! I am assuming he would have been in Antwerp in 1914 before heading off to Gallipoli? What I'm really keen to find out is where he would have been wounded-I'm assuming that this would have been during the First Battle of Krithia? Also, as a wounded seaman where would he have been taken after his injury-I know there were wounded soldiers on hospital ships and also on Lemnos, so I'm guessing it would have been here? I'm also uncertain whether he would have travelled with the battalion to France after his operation or if he would have been invalided back to the UK at that time.

Any help with the Howe battalion's actions during and before the campaign would be greatly appreciated-especially in the days leading upto and around May 2nd, 1915.

Many Thanks,

Andrew.

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Andrew, His full Service Number was Mersey 7/211. He was a pre-war recruit to the RNVR in Mersey Division, No. 7 Company. He earned his 1914 Star at Antwerp. The First Battle of Krithia was 28 April 1915 and only Drake Bn. of the RND was involved. 1 and 2 May was a large Turkish counter-attack against the Allied lines at Helles. Howe Bn and your GGF was involved in a Britsh counter-attack on 2 May, during which he was injured. They had a lot of casualties on what the Divisional Historian called "...a futile and hopeless task.." together with Hood Bn. This was the first 'blooding' on Gallipoli for both Bns.

You can probably get the full story about his subsequent movements from his RND Record Card, available from the Fleet Air Arm Museum, together with his Enlistment Form. You can also download the RNDRC for £3.50 from the National Archive. Are you sure his date of invaliding back to UK was August 1916? - sounds about a year too late. The Reserve Battalions were based at Blandford Camp in Dorset. How do you know when he was operated on? he may have been taken initially to either Lemnos or Egypt. The RNDRC should reveal all.

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Andrew, The events of 1/3 May at Helles "The Turkish Night Attacks" are covered in the Official History, Volume I, Chapter XVIII, if you can get hold of a copy from your library. Nothing specific on Howe Bn but it gives the overall picture of the action on those days.

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A description of the Turkish attack by a Sub Lt: "... last Saturday night we were attacked all along the line most persistently from 10 pm to 7 am. Sunday morning it was indescribable. Countless rapid fire from every rifle and gun. No one can imagine what it was like who has not been in it. I was indeed thankful when daylight came and they were driven off. The losses on the enemy were terrible: our losses must have been heavy but nothing to compare with theirs..." Howe and Hood Bns had about a dozen men killed on 2 May.

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Thanks for the reply! Ah, so he would have been in Belgium first and then not landed at Gallipoli until May 2nd. I know the date of his operation as I have a copy of his wounds and hurt certificate that details the date of the operation and the nature of his injuries (This is dated June the 8th, 1915). I have attached a copy of the back of his service record that my grandmother has-I think this seems to show him heading to Blandford in August 1916, but it cdould mean he was at Blandford between June and August 1916. You are right, it does seem a bit late, but then again it did take a month for them to operate on him to remove the shrapnel. He certainly wasn't discharged until August the 8th, 1916. I wonder if he recovered from his initial injury and was later wounded again perhaps? It seems a little odd that he seems to have served for a whole year with his battalion after his injury before being sent Blandford.

post-15481-1159635739.jpg

I'll certainly check out the National Archives to see if it reveals any more information.

Many thanks again!,

Andrew.

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Andrew, He joined Howe Bn on formation of the RND on 22 Aug 1914 and remained on their 'books' right through until he joined the Reserve Bn in June 1916, even though he was being treated in UK for his wounds and Howe Bn was in the MEF and BEF. He may have been at Blandford, or in hospital in UK but still on Howe's books. He went out to the MEF with Howe in early March 1915 and landed on Gallipoli with them on 29 April.

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Andrew, Looking at the dates again. Depending on the seriousness of his injuries, it is just possible that he might have been treated on Lemnos or in Egypt and rejoined Howe on Gallipoli. The fact that he was issued with a Hurt Cert a month after being injured makes me think he was invalided back to UK (in mid May 1915?)and the Hurt Cert was issued there (it may say where it was issued (?RNH Haslar?). We need the movements from his RNDRC to be certain.

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Hopefully I will be able to att a map from the Official History showing the battlefield at the time your g-grandfather was wounded

You will see 'W' Beach marked on the western point of the peninsula which is where the Howe landed late on the evening of the 29th April

Next to that you will see marked '3 Bns RND' - this indicates their bivouac for the first night, but it is incorrect for the night of 1st/2nd May as they had by then moved up to the support trenches and taken up positions between the French [indicated by 'Bde Col'] and the 29th Div.'s right hand [where you see their 88th Brigade]

From left to right the RND deployed as follows; Howe [next to the 29th Div] then Hood [in the nullah shown here as Kanli Dere] and Anson [next to the French]

I second Horatio's advice re getting sight of the Official History and while you are asking the library for that, see if they can also get you the history of the division - 'The Royal Naval Division' by Douglas Jerrold.

TurkishNightAttack1-2May1915.jpg

Regards

Michael

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Andrew, Looking at the dates again. Depending on the seriousness of his injuries, it is just possible that he might have been treated on Lemnos or in Egypt and rejoined Howe on Gallipoli. The fact that he was issued with a Hurt Cert a month after being injured makes me think he was invalided back to UK (in mid May 1915?)and the Hurt Cert was issued there (it may say where it was issued (?RNH Haslar?). We need the movements from his RNDRC to be certain.

Hi again,

thanks for all your comments. I have just managed to download his RNDRC. It looks as though he got round a bit after he was wounded! It looks like he was transported to RNH Haslar (28/05/15) as you thought. Then at Deaconess Hospital, Alexandria (16/05/15) before being transported on the Nevassa back to the UK (17/05/15). He was then at Dreadnaught Hospital, Greenwich before being moved to Chatsworth Convalescent Hospital (5/12/15). We knew he was at Chatsworth, but we weren't sure of the dates. He was invalided on the 17th of May 1915 and was back in the UK at least by November. He was discharged on the 17th of August 1916 from Howe battalion and on the next day from Blandford. The Hurt certificate was issued on Haslar on 8/6/1915, but it looks like the operation may have been in the UK. Interestingly his record shows that he was "Wounded in action near Dardanelles" and then later that the date of his injury was "about 6/5/1915" but that NOK were informed on the 5th!

I guess that explains most of it!

Thanks again for your help,

Andrew.

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Hopefully I will be able to att a map from the Official History showing the battlefield at the time your g-grandfather was wounded

You will see 'W' Beach marked on the western point of the peninsula which is where the Howe landed late on the evening of the 29th April

Next to that you will see marked '3 Bns RND' - this indicates their bivouac for the first night, but it is incorrect for the night of 1st/2nd May as they had by then moved up to the support trenches and taken up positions between the French [indicated by 'Bde Col'] and the 29th Div.'s right hand [where you see their 88th Brigade]

From left to right the RND deployed as follows; Howe [next to the 29th Div] then Hood [in the nullah shown here as Kanli Dere] and Anson [next to the French]

I second Horatio's advice re getting sight of the Official History and while you are asking the library for that, see if they can also get you the history of the division - 'The Royal Naval Division' by Douglas Jerrold.

TurkishNightAttack1-2May1915.jpg

Regards

Michael

Thanks for your reply Michael,

I have just posted a reply to Horatio detailing the info I got from the RND record for my G-Grandfather that gives me quite a lot more info with regards to his service history and wounds. My thanks for the map-I know the Gallipoli Peninsula and the areas of Turkey on the opposite side of the Dardanelles quite well (I am studying the archaeology of these areas!) so it is really good to be able to place where the battalions etc. were. I will definitely chase up the history of the division when I get the chance.

Thanks again!

Andrew.

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Hi again,

thanks for all your comments. I have just managed to download his RNDRC. It looks as though he got round a bit after he was wounded! It looks like he was transported to RNH Haslar (28/05/15) as you thought. Then at Deaconess Hospital, Alexandria (16/05/15) before being transported on the Nevassa back to the UK (17/05/15). He was then at Dreadnaught Hospital, Greenwich before being moved to Chatsworth Convalescent Hospital (5/12/15). We knew he was at Chatsworth, but we weren't sure of the dates. He was invalided on the 17th of May 1915 and was back in the UK at least by November. He was discharged on the 17th of August 1916 from Howe battalion and on the next day from Blandford. The Hurt certificate was issued on Haslar on 8/6/1915, but it looks like the operation may have been in the UK. Interestingly his record shows that he was "Wounded in action near Dardanelles" and then later that the date of his injury was "about 6/5/1915" but that NOK were informed on the 5th!

I guess that explains most of it!

Thanks again for your help,

Andrew.

Andrew, I knew the RNDRC would give the answers. Interestingly, your GGF was invalided home from Egypt with my father on the NEVASSA on 17 May. They were both admitted to Haslar on 28 May 1915 on arrival UK. In Alexandria they would have stabilised the injuries sufficient for invaliding home, with the major surgery being conducted at Haslar. He was discharged from Howe Bn to the Reserves on 14 June 16 but his date of invaliding out of the RNVR was 8 August 1916, the last date on his papers.

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His 1914 Star was sent to him 7 Feb 1920 and the clasp followed 29 Dec 1920.

Trivia time: Dreadnought Hospital, Greenwich is now the University of Greenwich Library.

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Andrew,

In the December 2002, issue No.23, of his magazine 'R.N.D.' Len Sellers published the dairy of one of your g-grandfather's comrades-in-arms, AB James Tyrer Caldwell, Mersey Z/195, Howe Batt., RND [this diary was made available by Mr Mike Caldwell]

This is what he had to say about the Howe's landing at Gallipoli

"April 29th 1915

Due to land behind the 29 Division and did so about five o'clock that night. It was a lovely night and a full moon. The Turks and our men were having a good fight. We stopped on the shore all night, at W beach, and it was so very cold and damp. My clothes were wet through. The shells were dropping all round us. It was very lively.

April 30th 1915

We were ordered to help make a road on X beach, we had to cross the Peninsula to get there. We were shelled all the way, luckily lost no one. Worked hard all day, accompanied by shells and bullets. The same night I was on out post and it was very cold and wet, the smell of dead bodies was awful, I had a handkerchief over my nose.

May 1st 1915

We got back at six o'clock in the morning and moved back about half a mile behind the firing line and were told to dig trenches. Heavy shelling was taking place at the time and we lost a lot of men through out the day. We then moved back to the beach, and at mid-night were called out to reinforce the firing line. The Turks were using a lot of snipers, which killed many of our men. Well towards daybreak we started to drive the Turks back and we followed them.

May 2nd 1915

Early Sunday morning we advanced over a lot of ground but towards the afternoon the tables were turned and we were driven back. It was a long struggle, we had not eaten for twenty four hours. When we got back to the trenches my mate and I left the battalion to help carry back the wounded, there were an awful lot. It was not a pleasant job, men with terrible injuries, it made you think that it could have been me. One consolation, we found something to eat even if it was only dry biscuits, but they were most welcome. When we had finished bringing the wounded back, it was back to the beach, where my company had moved to. The other three companies stayed in the trenches."

regards

Michael

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