Remembering a Lancashire Fusilier
The talk in the Turka Restaurant. Notice the familiar face in the bottom right hand corner.
GA members and representatives of other organisations were invited to this event, held in a Turkish restaurant in Eccles, Manchester by a member, Graham Williams. He planned to produce a small booklet, on a local man Billy Unsworth, who was killed at Gallipoli serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers. It included Unsworth family members and friends. I attended and gave a talk on Lancashire and Gallipoli, which was very well received. (Graham has produced a video on Billy, including a song written and performed by him. He has also given a zoom talk on the soldier).
Gallipoli Day in Warwick
The day, which was badged as part of Heritage Week, involved the two museums (the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum and the Fusilier Museum) opening specially. They both produced roller banners and booklets on Gallipoli, funded by the GA. Both museums put on special displays on the campaign. I organised a wreath laying commemoration at the main church and gave two talks, one on each regiment. The Mayor of Warwick attended the wreath laying. Given that the event took place on a working day, it was a great success. Almost a hundred adults attended the three events. Obviously, the museums will continue to display the roller banners and the booklets.
Philip Wilson, the Curator of the Warwickshire Yeomanry Museum and the Mayor.
The talk in the Fusilier Museum, Warwick.
Trench Day in Solihull
Two volunteers, Paul Jaques and David Vaux have, almost singlehandedly, built a replica World War One trench in the outdoor activity centre at Kinghurst Academy, Solihull. They kindly allowed it to be used for a Gallipoli themed living history day during the school holidays. About 60 people attended, including the Mayor of Solihull, and took part in tours of the trench and a range of activities, including throwing replica grenades and bayonet charges (with plastic bayonets). My Gallipoli word search was particularly popular with young people. The high point for me was the appearance of a gentleman who had come specifically to show me photos and documents of his father who had fought with the 9th Warwicks in the campaign.
Visitors scrutinise the trenches.
Living History Event
Paul and David also organised a Great War marquee at a Living History Event at New Hall Mill. Another volunteer, Kevan Darby, brought an excellent display on the 9th Battalion Despite the variable weather the event attracted a large number of visitors. Well over a hundred visited the WW1 tent. Once again we were visited by a descendant of someone who served in the campaign and also by a distant relative of Slim. The team had worked for weeks on producing an excellent display. The re-enactor, in a British Gallipoli uniform was very popular. Copies of a specially produced booklet were also given out. The feedback from visitors was very good. Here are two:
“A lot of research and dedication has been put into the exhibition. It goes a small way to remembering our heroes and respecting what they have done for us. School children would love to hear these as it is in their curriculum. Well done and thank you.”
“Very impressive and informative exhibition. The guys really knew their stuff. I didn’t realise the Warwicks were there and how many Brits. I assumed it was an Aussie battle”.
The fantastic display at New Hall Mill.
The 29th Division Memorial project
The 29th Division played a key part in the Gallipoli campaign and subsequently on the Western Front. Many will be aware of the memorial to the Division’s inspection by King George V, in March 1915. This is in Stretton upon Dunsmore, Warwickshire. The Gallipoli Association has participated in a number of commemorations of this event, despite the difficulties of the memorial being on an island in the middle of a dual carriageway.
Trustees agreed to commission a film company Kettell Productions Ltd., run by the redoubtable Stuart Kettell, to produce a short film of the 2019 commemorations. The aim was to produce a quality product but also to engage with the local community. We were honoured to have the Lord Bishop of Coventry officiating at the service at All Saints Church, Stretton upon Dunsmore and late at the memorial itself. There was an excellent turn out. A number of GA members travelled from afar. We were also honoured to have members of the Bury branch of the Fusiliers Association in attendance, helping us to remember the Lancashire Fusiliers. The event was filmed and included in the video. This was premiered at a special meeting of the Stretton Local History Society. I also gave a talk on the 29th Division Over 40 people attended and there was very positive feedback. The film can be seen by members by contacting Ian Binnie on email@example.com.
Thanks go to Stuart Kettell, Ann Langley, Chris Holland and the Jordan family for the help and support in making the project such a success.
Many young people were involved in this project. (See the young people section of the education website.)
The service at the monument.
Two stills from the film.
The premiere of the film.
Project with Dunsmore Living Landscapes/Warwickshire Wildlife Fund
Since the commemoration the GA has been working with Lucy Hawker from Dunsmore Living Landscapes to improve the area around the monument. The Association made a contribution to the cost of renewing the information board and also gave advice. Pupils from the local primary school were involved in producing poem for the board (see the young people section of the education website). The contractors, Kier, planted trees and refurbished the area around the monument.
The new look monument.
Project at the Royal Hampshire Museum, Winchester
You will be able to read about this project, involving staff from this excellent museum and the pupils from South Woonston School. You can read more about it on the young people section of the education website. The pupils produced a memorial to the soldiers who served and fell in Gallipoli. The museum organised an official unveiling of this memorial with a number of special guests, later in the year. The memorial is now displayed in the museum.
The memorial – pairs of pupils produced a tile on the campaign. They were then used to print the final memorial on canvas.
The unveiling, with parents and guests, in the grounds of the museum.
The Moseley (Birmingham) Project
A chance discovery of a memorial window in St. Mary’s Church, Moseley, led to a really good project involving the local community. The stained glass window, one of the few to survive the blitz, was a memorial to 2nd Lieutenant Douglas Greenway. The local history group were very keen to research him and other Gallipolians who are remembered on local memorials. Thanks to a member of the group, Edwina Rees, seven men were researched. A booklet was produced, detailing their background, their service in Gallipoli and the how they died. Two survived Gallipoli but were killed in other theatres.
A well attended commemorative service was held in St.Mary’s Church. This was attended by representatives of a number of the regiments the seven served in. We were delighted to have members of the family of one of the soldiers, Private Harry Bunce, present as well.
The booklet produced by members of the Moseley History Group.
Some of those who attended the commemoration service at St. Mary’s.
The service was followed by a talk, given by myself, on the Gallipoli campaign and the seven Moseley men. Two volunteers, David Vaux and Paul Jacques, put together an excellent display. The unique artefacts, medals, documents and photographs they put together, attracted a lot of interest. Over 40 people attended the talk and there was a lot of positive feedback.
The GA introduced a scheme called “Museum Champions”. A regimental museum, with a collection on Gallipoli identifies a volunteer. He/she then becomes the “expert” on the campaign and is supported by the GA introducing displays and/or leaflets on their regiment and Gallipoli. The volunteer is also offered a subsidised place on a GA tour to Gallipoli. Our first two “champions” were Wayne Birch of the Royal Lancers and Nottinghamshire Yeomanry Museum and Andy Taylor of the Hereford Light Infantry Museum. Wayne produced a leaflet on the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry and Gallipoli, which is available at his museum. Andy carried out a lot of outreach to community groups, including schools. Wayne joined the Brune Park school tour of Gallipoli (see the young people section of the education website) and Andy the adult tour later in the year. Both Wayne Birch and Andy Taylor made presentations at the 2019 conference, which were well received. The scheme continues and we currently (2022) have champions at the soldiers of Gloucester Museum and the Staffordshire Regiment Museum.
Wayne talks to Brune Park students about the Nottinghamshire Yeomanry in Gallipoli.
A project in Bury
John Rodgers, of the Rochdale District branch of the Fusiliers Association responded to the GA’s offer of supporting community engagement. He wanted to honour the memory the local men who had served in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He and his colleagues organised a fantastic event in Rochdale on Gallipoli/ANZAC Day. He involved a wide range of organisations including students from the local Hopwood College.
Prior to this event he involved local schools and teachers, arranged sessions at Rochdale Local Studies Centre, organised a St George’s/Gallipoli Day lunch, arranged for local children to visit the Fusilier Museum in Bury and held a dedicated Veterans’ Club breakfast with a Gallipoli theme. John was successful in securing other funding as well as support from the GA. He is also full of ideas, producing wristbands for the school pupils and students involved and placemats for the meals. The GA are proud to have been involved in this project. John has gone on to raise money for a commemorative bench to be installed on Littleborough railway station railway station, in honour of two 17 year old Fusiliers who were killed in the campaign. John and his colleagues are to be commended for their excellent work.
The event in Rochdale.
The Northern Regional Conference
The Trustees of the GA agreed to hold a regional conference in March of 2020. The aim was not to replace the main annual conferences, traditionally held in London in the Autumn. The idea is to hold a smaller conference in the areas of the U.K. where there is a strong connection with Gallipoli. The first was held in Eccles, near Manchester, where there are strong local links with the campaign. The response was excellent, although the looming pandemic, complicated things. In the end almost 80 people attended, enjoying talks from Paul Knight, Peter Hart, Mike Caine and myself. The feedback received was excellent. Our thanks go to Graham Walker for suggesting the venue in the first place and helping with the organisation.
Paul Knight gives his talk at the last event before lockdown.
An internet sensation
Ian Binnie, Education Co-ordinator of the Gallipoli association writes: at the height of lockdown, I was wondering how I could commemorate Gallipoli/ANZAC Day. I decided to put this blackboard in my front garden in Birmingham. I also hung some information panels on the fence. Neighbours and passers-by were very interested. I took a photo of the blackboard and put it on the GA Facebook page. Apparently (and I don’t understand these things fully) there was a huge amount of worldwide interest, with over forty thousand hits.
Monthly Zoom talks
We began our monthly series of Zoom talks in January 2021. They have proved to very popular. At the height of the lockdown we were attracting an audience of a 100 plus. The speakers gave their time freely and we thank them for this. All of the talks are recorded and placed on our YouTube Channel.
A Virtual Tour of Warwick
Working on behalf of the GA, Jonathan Davy produced a Gallipoli themed virtual tour of Warwick. He filmed parts of the present day town, which were important in the story of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment or the Warwickshire Yeomanry. The film also included photographs from 1914 and 1915. He had also identified where a number of Gallipoli casualties had lived and showed the present day location. Jonathan also included interviews with members of the local community. The completed film was “premiered” at one of the Zoom talks organised by the Fusilier Museum in Warwick. As with many of our virtual tours and talks it is now on our YouTube Channel.
Keeping the memory of the 29th Division alive
As we could not have our usual commemoration at the 29th Division memorial at Stretton upon Dunsmore, I produced a short film clip, which I sent to local history societies, museums, colleges and schools.
A Leeds theatre company
Prior to lockdown we had negotited with a community theatre group in Leeds to produce a short play about Yorkshire soldiers at Gallipoli. I met with the cast and did a presentation on the campaign. Everything was going full steam ahead and then the lockdown struck. We had to resort to on line meetings. The final play, which was a combination of virtual clips, was broadcast via a community radio station in Leeds. Despite the difficulties, I was really proud to be involved in a project that produced a small work of public art in the darkest days of lockdown.
The cast prepare.
The U3A project
During lockdown we were always looking for ways engaging with members and/or the public, to spread the word about Gallipoli. I had a letter published in the national U3A magazine (title) asking for members who had relatives who served in Gallipoli to get in touch. Over 80 did, so starting the U3A Gallipoli project. The material I was sent was fascinating much of it consisting of unique photographs and documents. There were many vey moving stories of young men serving in the campaign, many becoming casualties. I put together a number of newsletters detailing these stories, which were sent to GA members as well as the U3A members who contributed. We also held a number of Zoom sessions to share some of the stories. I also created a display of photographs and documents for the AGM in 2021. The project is still continuing.
Maureen Hession, one of the U3A members, wrote:
My great grandfather fought at Gallipoli and I have a photograph of B Company Wigan Manchester Regiment had taken two hrs before the battle on 4th June 1915. I also have a few documents about his time in the 1914/18 war. These were obtained a few years ago by a family member who looked into the family history.
(This was the 1/5th Manchester Regiment, a Territorial battalion. It was formed of men who were part time soldiers before the war and volunteered for active service when war broke out. The territorial units played a key part in the first year of the Great War. They landed in Gallipoli in May 1915 and went on to fight at the battles of Krithia, on the Helles Front. Needless to say, these attacks resulted in heavy casualties, for little gain. The Territorial companies were based in different towns. B Company were based in Wigan. The battalion went onto serve with distinction in the Middle East and the on the Western Front. As casualties mounted the original Territorials were replaced by conscripts.)
The photo. I wonder how many of these men survived the war.
The display at the 2021 AGM
The virtual Regional Conference
Determined to keep the Gallipoli flag flying we held a regional conference on Zoom, held over two days in March 2021. Speakers included Peter Hart and Gary Bain who spoke on the French at Gallipoli, Michael Crane on the 126th Brigade during the Third Battle of Krithia, Dr. Martin Purdy on the Gallipoli Oak and finally the GA’s own Stephen Chambers on photography and Gallipoli. Over 80 people, including many members attended. We received a lot of really positive feedback.
A Gallipoli themed virtual tour of Worcester
Jonathan Davy followed up his successful virtual tour of Warwick with one on the city of Worcester. This was more elaborate that the first and involved a number of the military history of the City. Potential viewers were given a preview of what to come with a short film on Worcester and world War One, with a focus on the Gallipoli campaign. The full tour was premiered just after Xmas. It covered the involvement of the two battalions of the Worcester Regiment and the Worcestershire Yeomanry. Once again my thanks go out to all the participants and to Jonathan for his superb work. The two films are on our YouTube Channel.
A lockdown Gallipoli/ANZAC Day
A lockdown Gallipoli/ANZAC Day
In April 2021 we held a small commemoration at Brandwood End Cemetery in Birmingham, where a number of Gallipolians are commemorated or buried. Six of us were allowed under the regulations but we managed to have representatives from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and the Warwickshire Yeomanry, as well as from The Friends of the cemetery. We gathered at the Turner family memorial, where Trooper George Turner, who was killed serving with the Yeomanry, is remembered. I was delighted to make contact with a member of his family. He could not attend the event but is obviously pleased that we are keeping the memory of his great uncle alive.
Social distancing at Brandwood End.
As the regulations were relaxed there were more opportunities to fly the Gallipoli flag. A team of volunteers and myself were able to put on this display in at an Armistice Day event in Birmingham. Thanks to David, Paul and Kevan for their sterling work.
A superb display.
Commemorating the 29th Division
In February, I helped organise a commemorative service to the 29th Division in All Saints Church in Leamington Spa. This is where the division had its headquarters, prior to the departure to Gallipoli. The Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire attended, as did the Mayor (who had a relative who served in the campaign) and her Consort and representatives from the Royal British Legion and the Fusilier Regiment. It was a very moving ceremony, which we hope to repeat in future years.
The 29th Division commemoration.
I was delighted to get back to live talks again. During lockdown I had done a number of virtual talks to various U3A groups, the Manchester Military history Society and the British Modern Military History Society. As enjoyable and as well received as these were it was great to get back to a live audience. The first was at the York Army Museum.
The third regional conference at Chelmsford
We were delighted to be able to hold a “live” conference at Chelmsford City Museum and Essex Regiment Museum. Understandably, some of our potential audience were nervous about being in a room with others but we managed to get an audience of 40. Once again we were well served by our speakers: Clive Harris, who spoke on the Essex Regiment at Gallipoli, Peter Hart on the Royal Naval Division, Stephen Chambers on Krithia and Dr. Martin Purdy an memories of the Lancashire Fusiliers. We were well served by the Museum staff and the Friends in particular. The latter, led by Karen Dennis, a GA member and working with the had put together a fantastic display on the Essex Regiment in the campaign. Peter Williamson, the Chair of Trustees of the ERM, gave us a fascinating guided tour of the collection at the end of the day.
The four musketeers.
The GA historian in action.
A Gallipoli Day at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum
The museum agreed to their World War One trench being reconfigured to represent a trench in Gallipoli for the day. Re-enactors (some posing as Turks) and volunteers did a great job explaining the dangers of serving in a trench in the peninsula and highlighting the differences from and similarities to, those on the Western Front. Two volunteers had put together an excellent display. One of these was Paul Jacques, the museum’s “Gallipoli Champion”. I gave two talks and helped with the production of a leaflet and roller banner about the Staffords in the campaign. Our friends from the Great War Group also had a stand. Numbers were slightly lower than expected due to the very cold weather and we were competing with a free St. Georges Day event nearby in Tamworth (can Gallipoli really compete with mediaeval jousting?). Over 70 attended, including many children and it was great to meet some GA members from the area. My thanks go to all those who worked so hard to make the event a success. We hope to repeat it next year.
The re-enactors in action.
The GA Education Co-ordinator thinks of the answer to a question!
The Turkish contingent.