07 May 1915

HELLES - SECOND BATTLE OF KRITHIA - Second Lieutenant George Horridge, 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers, 125th Brigade, 42nd Division - On 7 May, George Horridge had only just arrived at Gallipoli the day before and he had been a nervous frame of mind.

Photograph of 1/5th Lancashire Fusiliers in the Australian Lines later in May 1915. Lieutenants Mungler and Horridge. This photo is copyright of Michael W who very kindly allowed GWF members a look at his private collection.


"On arrival off Cape Helles in daylight it dawned on one more forcible that this was it. Everyone wonders what will happen when one actually arrives at the war. Will it be horrible, will one be afraid, will one be able to carry out's duty, will one be killed or maimed or perhaps only mildly wounded."

Although on 6 May an advance of 400 to 500 yards had been made, the allied troops had not even reached the Turks' forward positions. Having spoken both to Hunter Weston and D'Amade during the afternoon and ascertained that the day's casualties had been relatively slight, Hamilton ordered the attack to be renewed against the same objectives on the following morning. The circumstances surrounding the attack had changed little in twenty four hours and, if anything, had deteriorated. All the front line troops had now been engaged and suffered casualties for minimal gain. The already low stocks of artillery ammunition had been further depleted by the first day's fighting and nothing but a desultory bombardment against the still unallocated targets would be possible before the next attack. At 09.45 on 7th May this meagre bombardment began. On the left flank in an attempt to supplement it and destroy the machine gun post above Y Beach, two ships were sent to shell the top of the cliffs with the aid of a balloon ship. Directly the naval bombardment lifted, one battalion of the 125th Brigade was to seize the machine gun post and once this had been successfully accomplished, the remainder of the brigade was then to advance along the coast to capture Yazy Tepe over two miles to the northeast. To make its attack the leading battalion had to move forward from its position in the support trenches to the front line. But, as Second Lieutenant George Horridge discovered, even this preliminary movement was fraught with difficulty and before he and his platoon had even reached the front line to begin their attack they became dispersed among the scrub.

"We were told we would advance by platoons in extended order. The order for the companies was "D", "C", "B" and "A". I was in "A" Company, No.3 Platoon. So that meant I was the last platoon but one in the advance. As the distance between Gully Ravine and the sea is some 300 yards, I had to extend my platoon in two lines, thirty men in each line at ten pace intervals. The scrub was so thick that it was impossible to keep in touch with all the men and one merely had to blow the whistle and hope that everybody advanced. You had to follow the people in front of you. When you found the line in front lay down, you lay down. When they got up, you got up and continued the advance. And so we started. There were a few hisses of bullets and as we went further these got more and more. We came to a trench. Then we advanced still further and the amount of rifle fire we were under seemed to get bigger still. I began to lose control of the platoon because I simply couldn't see them in the scrub. All I could do was blow my whistle and we would advance with the line in front of us and I hoped that the NCOs were doing their job. Eventually we got to one trench behind the front line. Next to me was an old soldier called Collinson. We got out of the trench and we had to go at the double because fire was very heavy. The bullets were hissing round, swish, swish, swish, swish, swish. We ran halfway and then we got behind a mound. After a minute or so's rest, I said to Collinson: "Look. We've got to go on", and off we set again. I wasn't too bad a runner and I outstripped Collinson and eventually leapt into the front line trench. I'm sorry to say that Collinson, in the last ten yards, got hit through the chest or stomach. We got him in, but he died later."

They had gained nothing, indeed their 'advance' had only just reached the British front line. Private Frederick Collinson died 15 May aged 41. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial. Already depleted by the chaotic advance to the front line, when Horridge finally took his men into the real attack he saw his platoon disintegrate even further. But, as was often the case, his casualties were actually less severe than they first appeared.

"Captain Milnes, the Second-in-Command of the company, was shouting, "All people from the 5th Lancashire Fusiliers, come to the left!" He was only about 20 yards from the edge of the cliff leading down to the sea. I made my way there, not knowing where a lot of my platoon were by this time, but realising that the attack had to go forward. The order was given and we got out of the top of this trench. The fellows were firing from the parapet, presumably at the Turks who I hadn't seen hidden in the bush. But the fire was very, very heavy. We didn't get more than 10 or 15 yards before it was quite obvious that if we didn't lie down we were just going to be hit. We lay down. You could see the bullets cutting the grass in places. I said to Captain Milnes, "Sydney, do you think we should stop here? What about going down to the cliff?" He said, "Yes. I think perhaps we'd better. It's no good stopping here. We can't go on against this fire. You go first!" So I got up and ran to the cliff edge. A fellow called Hudson followed me and he was hit in the neck. What happened to the others, I really don't know. We got under the cover of the cliff edge, got Hudson down to the shore. A naval cutter came and gave us some water which had some rum in it which tasted very nice. They took Hudson off and we just waited for orders. I ended the day more or less under the cliffs. My platoon had stopped at various places on the way, some at the trenches, some hadn't gone forward. I just didn't know where any of them were. When the battalion was eventually formed up in the dark to go back of course they all began to appear. I thought they must have got hurt, killed or injured, but it turned out in the end I'd lost three killed and three wounded out of sixty which, after all, is decimation."

Captain Sydney Milnes would be killed in action on 7 August 1915. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

Along the rest of the allied line from Gully Ravine to the Dardanelles the previous day's events were repeated in similar fashion. Individual units, notably the 1/5th Royal Scots opposite Fir Tree Wood and part of the 2nd French Division in the centre of their line, did succeed in making limited advances. But the failure of the line on either side to conform left them isolated and they were eventually forced to withdraw towards the positions from which they had begun. All further efforts met with the same lack of success and effectively the day was a waste, with barely a couple of hundred yards gained on the left centre. After the war it became known that the Turks did not even realise that a general attack had been made on 7th May. The chances of a third day's fighting resulting in significant gains did not seem likely.

SOURCE:
IWM Sound Archive, G. Horridge, AC 7498