9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment -1915

In June 1915 the difficulties in Gallipoli peninsula resulted in the British Higher Command requiring reinforcements to be sent if the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was to win through to its goal, Constantinople. Accordingly five fresh Divisions were sent out as reinforcements from England to Gallipoli. One of these was the 13th Division, which included the 9th Battalion of the Regiment.

The 9th Worcestershire left Blackdown on Salisbury Plain on Sunday 20th June 1915 and moved by train to Avonmouth. There on the same evening the transport ship "Cawdor Castle" received the Battalion, 28 officers and 970 other ranks.

The officers who embarked with the 9th Battalion were:—Lieut.-Col. M. H. Nunn, Majors W. C. Crofton, E. W. Boyd-Moss, D.S.O. and W. Barker. Captains G. W. Rolph, W. D. Gibbon, R. B. Horsfield, J. V. Godfray, (Adjt.), S. Munnick, E. M. Carter and W. Austin. Lieuts. R. N. Bellairs, T. Neame, G. T. Pearson, G. T. de Blaby, C. E. Sladden. P. MacD. Sanderson, E. H. Hiscock. C. 3. Tree and J. Riggs-Walker, 2/Lieuts. R. C. Marshall, J. N. Lancaster, L. E. Hiscock, R. Cavanagh, C. W. Rawle, J. C. Bourne and F. G. V. Beard. Lieut. and Quartermaster C. H. Inwood, and Lieut. I. M. Brown, R.A.M.C. The Battalion formed part of the 39th Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General W. de S. Cayley, with Captain N. K. Street of the Regiment as his Staff Captain. Captain J. M. Graham went out with the Divisional Cyclist Company.

s.s. Cawdor Castle troopship

Early on the morning of the 24th June 1915 the "Cawdor Castle" moved out from dock and steamed down the Severn to the sea. Enemy submarines were not as yet considered a serious menace, but two destroyers escorted the troopship a long way out into the Atlantic.

9th Battalion leave Mudros on the 13th July 1915 for Gallipoli

After touching at Malta (where the troopships had a most inspiring send-off from the French battle-fleet anchored in Valetta harbour) and Alexandria, the "Cawdor Castle" reached Mudros on the evening of the 10th July 1915. The Battalion remained on board the transport ship in that crowded harbour for two days. Not until July 13th were further orders received. Then the companies were transhipped to the destroyer "Reynard" and the mine-sweeper "Newmarket."

That evening the "Reynard" and "Newmarket," together with other similar craft, left Mudros Harbour and proceeded to the Gallipoli Peninsula. It was dark before they reached "V" Beach and saw the hulk of the "River Clyde" looming above the floating jetties. The work of disembarkation was long and toilsome in the darkness. Each contingent was ordered off as soon as it had assembled complete. 'A' and 'B' Companies, from the "Reynard," marched off across country, led by guides through the darkness. But before 'C' and 'D' Companies, from the "Newmarket," were ready the dawn was at hand. Movement across country in daylight was dangerous, so those two companies had to march along the coast, by a sheltered track beneath the cliffs. The troops were not in good condition after their voyage, they were heavily laden, and the long tramp over sand and shingle proved very exhausting. Not till after midday did these two companies rejoin the rest of the Battalion in reserve shelters among the cliffs of Gully Beach.

In the area which the 9th Worcestershire had now entered, the situation had changed but little since the action of Gully Ravine. Sapping and minor operations had altered details of the trench line, but had not affected the general position of the opposing forces. The enemy’s trenches stretched, row behind row, across the gently rising slopes leading up to Krithia. The Turkish defences by this time were well constructed, strongly fenced with wire, and amply supported by artillery. On our side steady work had rendered the British trenches more or less satisfactory both for defence and for habitation. Save for the greater heat, the torment of flies, and the privations due to scarcity of water, the situation at the Helles area was now much like that on the British front in France and Flanders. The deadlock was complete.

How to overcome that deadlock was the problem which for some time past had faced the British Staff. Gradually plans had been evolved and the method of the fresh attempt settled. As yet the plan was secret, and for the moment all the Battalion need note is that it had been decided to deliver the main force of the new blow not at Helles but at Anzac. Lest the enemy should suspect that intention, the new troops of the 13th Division had deliberately been landed in the Helles area to gain their first experience of war.

9th Battalion land at "V" Beach late evening of the 13th July 1915

At Gully Beach the new troops found themselve. in close support to the war-worn 29th Division; and the new battalions were attached to the “Old Army” battalions of that Division for instruction in trench work. It should not have been difficult to have attached the 9th Worcestershire to the 4th Battalion of the Regiment; but the opportunity did not occur, and officially the two Battalions did not come in contact (But one curious coincidence of interest to the Regiment was the meeting of Brig.-General D. E. Cayley, with. his brother, Brig.-General W. de S. Cayley, each commanding a Brigade which included a Battalion of the Regiment).

Brig.-Gen. D. E. Caley

Though the 4th and 9th Worcestershire did not meet officially, the officers and men of the two battalions had time to see something of each other before the 13th Division definitely took over the line. The position of the 88th Brigade had been shifted, and from July onwards the Brigade had held the trenches west of the Gully Ravine. The 4th Worcestershire held the trenches nearest to the sea coast until the 16th July 1915 . Then the 9th Royal Warwicksliire, previously attached for instruction, definitely took over the trenches. The 4th Worcestershire marched back to Gully Beach and embarked next day for a period of rest in Lemnos.

While the 4th Worcestershire were resting at Lemnos, the 9th Worcestershire had been receiving their baptism of fire in the trenches of the Gully Ravine. The Battalion went into the trenches on the night of the 14th July 1915 for attachment to the 2nd Hampshire. From that battalion the 9th Worcestershire definitely took over the trenches on July 16th and held them for twenty-four hours, during which the first casualties occurred (2/Lieut. J. C. Bonnie killed, Lieut. C. J. Tree mortally wounded). Thenceforward for a fortnight the Battalion either held the trenches or rested in reserve. Little of importance took place, except a Turkish local attack further to the right against the 7th North Staffordshire on July 23rd. This caused much firing and some loss (1 killed and 3 wounded in the 9th Worcestershire. The North Staffordshire lost more heavily. Though no heavy fighting actually took place there were several rumours and warnings that the enemy would attack). By that time orders had been received that the 13th Division would be relieved and withdrawn. Their place in the line at Helles would be taken over once more by the 29th Division.

Early on the morning of the 29th July 1915, the 9th Worcestershire handed over their trenches, to the K.O.S.B. and Border Regiment of the 87th Brigade, and marched down to Gully Beach. Thence that evening the Battalion marched along the coast round Cape Helles to “V” Beach, embarked on the minesweeper "Ermine" and were ferried over to Lemnos.

The 13th Division had been withdrawn to Lemnos in order to take part in the decisive attack of the forthcoming offensive. The 13th Division, including the 9th Worcestershire were selected for the decisive attack at Sari Bair, whilst the a subsidiary attack of the 29th Division at Krithia was to involve the 4th Worcestershire.

March of the 9th Battalion Worcestershire - night of the 6th/7th August 1915