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Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Helles Memorial, Gallipoli
First Name: Walter Evans Last Name: CONSTABLE
Date of Death: 28/04/1915 Lived/Born In: South Hampstead
Rank: Private Unit: Hampshire2
Memorial Site: Helles Memorial, Gallipoli

Current Information:

Age-38

33, Canfield Gardens, South Hampstead

 

Gallipoli 1915

On 25 April, British, Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsular . The plan was that these forces would soon defeat a demoralised Turkish army, knock Turkey out of the war, open up the Mediterranean to the Russian navy and threaten Austo-Hungary from the south. None of these things were achieved despite nine months of hard fighting in terrible conditions. It was an heroic failure.

The 29th Division and the Royal Naval Division landed at five separate beaches around Cape Helles.  Some were not defended, others were fiercely contested. Some ground was gained but within days the familiar pattern of trench warfare had set in. A similar pattern emerged further north where the ANZACS landed. The Turkish soldiers were much tougher fighters than had been given credit for and they were of course fighting an invasion of their homeland. The terrain, a series of steep rocky ridges and deep gullies made the fighting much more difficult  and during the hot summer of 1915, the flies arrived in biblical proportions. Another seven British divisions were sent to Gallipoli during the summer but little or no progress was made. In the end, a new Commander was appointed and plans to evacuate the entire force were drawn up. By January 1916, all British, Australian and New Zealand forces had left Gallipoli, leaving only behind the dead, over 56,000 of them.

First Battle of Krithia   28th April 1915

During the two days after the successful but costly landings at Helles on 25th April, the soldiers of 29th Division consolidated their foothold and pushed the line forward, in preparation for an assault on the village of Krithia. At 8am on 28th April, naval guns began the bombardment of Turkish positions and the long line of infantry began to move forward in a long left wheel. But things did not go to plan. Orders arrived late so there was no time to prepare. The terrain, crisscrossed by gullies and ridges hampered progress so some units advanced quicker than others. The men were all dog tired after three days with precious little sleep and many of the senior officers had become casualties, creating a problem with leadership. The strength and whereabouts of the the Turks was entirely unknown but eventually they were able to put in nine battalions against the advance and rather than a battle the day developed into a series of skirmishes until it was final called off at 6 pm. The British suffered 3000 casualties on this day.

88 Brigade attacked in the centre of the line with 87 Brigade on their left and the French on their right. They moved forward with, from left to right, 1st Essex, 2nd Hampshire and 4th Worcestershire. 5th Royal Scots were in support. All went well at first and no opposition was met nor was there much Turkish shelling. But it proved impossible to maintain a uniform advance and much confusion reigned with individual skirmishes being fought as Turkish reinforcements began to arrive. “W” Company attacked and took two trenches but were then stopped by heavy fire and half of their number fell. This was followed by a Turkish counter attack and this plus a shortage of ammunition brought 88 Brigade’s advance to a halt by 11,30am. No further progress was made and in danger of being out flanked, 2nd Hampshire ended up where they started from and with over 300 casualties, one of whom was Walter Constable who was killed.

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