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Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Helles Memorial, Gallipoli
First Name: John Last Name: BASSETT
Date of Death: 28/04/1915 Lived/Born In: Haggerston
Rank: Private Unit: Border1
Memorial Site: Helles Memorial, Gallipoli

Current Information:



5, St Peter Square, St Peter Street, Hackney Road


Gallipoli 1915


On 25 April, 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 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 Turks 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 finally called off at 6 pm. The British suffered 3000 casualties on this day.

As part of the general advance, 87 Brigade moved forward on the left with 1st Border moving between the coast and Gulley Ravine that ran parallel to it. 1st Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers advanced on the eastern side of the ravine. At 11am they met heavy rifle fire and progress came to a temporary halt. They got moving again at 1pm but tiredness and thirst was slowing them down. The Turks by now had reinforced this sector and there were considerable casualties among 1st Border. When they approached the gulley that led down to Y Beach they came under heavy rifle fire and when the Turks then attacked with a bayonet charge, one company of 1st Border gave way and began making their way down to the beach. The situation was saved by a single shot from a 15 inch gun aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth which destroyed a whole company of pursuing Turkish soldiers. However no further advances were made and the troops entrenched. 

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