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Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Helles Memorial, Gallipoli
First Name: William Thomas Last Name: KERWICK
Date of Death: 09/08/1915 Lived/Born In: Aldgate
Rank: Sergeant Unit: East Yorkshire6
Memorial Site: 1. St George in the East 2. Helles Memorial, Gallipoli

Current Information:

Born-Aldgate

 

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.

By July, 1915, and after much fierce fighting, stalemate had set in at Gallipoli both at Cape Helles where the British and French had landed and at Anzac Cove where the Australian and New Zealand Corps were unable to break out of their beach head. Fresh troops were needed and they were on their way in the shape of four divisions from Britain and things were put on hold until they arrived.

The plan for August was for a landing at Suvla Bay to the north of Anzac Cove whilst at the same time, the ANZAC Corps, reinforced by some of the new British troops would effect a breakout from Anzac Cove and establish a line across the peninsula. Whilst this was going on the troops in the south at Helles would stage a number of diversionary attacks. But it all went horribly wrong and much of the reason for this can be explained by inadequate planning and leadership. Nobody seemed to know what they were supposed to be doing and Lieutenant-General Stopford, in charge of the Suvla landings was particularly out of his depth. The landings at Suvla failed to link up with the forces at Anzac and the breakout from there did not happen despite valiant efforts by all concerned. The loss of life on all fronts was again enormous. L.A. Carlyon’s excellent  book “Gallipoli” gives a superb yet chilling account of the events.

The 6th East Yorkshire battalion was the pioneer battalion of 11th Division who they landed in pitch darkness on C Beach at Suvla in the evening of 7th August, 1915 and entrenched on the southern slopes of a small hill called Lala Baba. On 8th August they took part in the attack on Scimitar Hill and on the following day saw action again during the assault on Tekke Tepe, the ridge of hills to the east of Suvla Bay. Their advance here on 9th August met little opposition at first but because of the extreme exhaustion of the men, progress was slow. Led by D Company they made their way up the slopes where they met fierce machine-gun and rifle fire from in front, the flanks and even from behind coming from concealed enemy trenches. The battalion lost heavily, none more so than D Company who were surrounded and forced to surrender. The rest of 6th East Yorkshire eventually made it back to their starting positions near Sulajik. Among their casualties on this day was William Kerwick.

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