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Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Helles Memorial, Gallipoli
First Name: Maurice Last Name: O'ROURKE
Date of Death: 25/04/1915 Lived/Born In: Stamford Hill
Rank: Private Unit: Lancashire Fusiliers1
Memorial Site: 1. Hampstead, Christ Church 2. Helles Memorial, Gallipoli

Current Information:

Age-22

72, The Crescent, Stamford Hill

Born-Hampstead

Gallipoli 1915

On 25 April, 1915, British, Australian and New Zealand forces landed on the Gallipoli peninsula. 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 Austro-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 gulleys 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.

 

The landing of 1st Lancashire Fusiliers, 86 Brigade, 29th Division at “W” Beach, Cape Helles, on 25th April, 1915, has been remembered ever since for the heroism of those who took part. Indeed, it was seen fit to award 6 members of the battalion with Victoria Crosses for their individual actions on that morning.  Approaching the beach, the 36 cutters which were carrying three of their Companies were not fired on until they actually hit the beach. Then all hell broke loose with Turkish machine gun and rifle fire sweeping the men as they tried to get ashore. To add to their woes they found that the wire entanglements at the waters edge had not been destroyed. 1st Lancashire Fusiliers hurled themselves at this barrier and tore their way through it whilst the Turkish fire went on unabated. Enough of them got through and engaged the Turkish forces and fought their way further inland. The 4th Company landed a little to the north and were able to avoid the worst of the enemy fire and attack them in the flank. A line was established and the cliff behind the beach were scaled as Turkish resistance lessened. But even then their troubles were not over. The survivors of “A” Company made it to the top of the cliff arriving at the same time as a large Royal Naval shell which blew many of them back down again. 165 men from 1st Lancashire Fusiliers were killed at “W” Beach, including over 30 London men. 

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