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Gallipoli 1915

Posted by on May 14, 2015
Anzac Cove April 25th 1915 , from Arthur Slaughter's album

Anzac Cove April 25th 1915 , from Arthur Slaughter’s album

My grandfather, Arthur Slaughter was in the 5th [territorial] Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. On September 10th 1914 they sailed for Egypt from Southampton on board the Caledonia, arriving in Alexandria on September 25th.They were quartered in the Mustapha barracks where they were kitted out for the tropics. By October, they had started training.

On May 6th 1915 the battalion landed at Gallipoli. They moved up to the front line trenches on the 12th under heavy artillery and machine- gun fire. Relieved on the 21st May, they went back to the beaches, still under fire. On the 26th May, the battalion became part of the 42nd division and moved back up to the flooded front trenches, working on maintaining  and completing the trench line.

On June 4th , they attacked the main Turkish trenches. Although the initial attack was successful, the troops were withdrawn as other supporting units had not obtained their objectives. The battalion managed to hold their position in spite of fierce Turkish counter attacks, but on July 5th the battalion returned to their trenches.

These are the bare bones of the part played by the 5th Manchesters in Gallipoli. There are only two family letters surviving from this period. The first is a brief note from Arthur written to his father on  26th May from the Carlton Hotel,Bulkeley, near Alexandria, just prior to embarkation.

A more detailed and personal account survives in a letter from Olive [Arthur’s sister] who was living near Alexandria, and was married to Colonel John Sanders. Her letter to her father ,William Slaughter, is dated June 20th 1915.

My dearest Daddy,

I have been to the hospitals today to see various officers from the 5th and they have given me all news of Arthur, he arrived at the Dardanelles June 3rd late at night and went straight into action June 4th when the regiment was so terribly cut up, he was the only officer left in his ‘B’ company so he had to lead them I am told he did so most splendidly, and at the end when they had to do a final rush, a sergeant called out “are there any officers left” and Arthur  cheerily answered  “yes” so he and the sergeant led ‘B’ company and took a Turkish trench but were given the order to retreat early the next morning and this man told me this afternoon the last he saw of Arthur was fairly [here there is a gap] back anyway he is alright and my Johnnie too.I took these two boys Tim Brown, who was shot in the right eye, and Ainscough, who was shot in the foot, out for a drive this afternoon, they were so cheery and said”You don’t know how ripping it is to see you again and to get out of the hospital” Goodness knows how the regiment will carry on, as there is only the Colonel, Johnnie, Major Cronshaw, Capt. Woods and Capt Bryham and Arthur left, it’s all too awful and one dare not think about it. Poor Captain Jackson was killed June 4th. I do feel so sorry for the wife and the poor wee babe who is to arrive at the beginning of September .

I have been down to headquarters and found an old friend in Johnnie’s Corporal  who gets all the list of killed and wounded at once, and he has promised to telephone me directly anything comes through. Anyway the whole division has been brought out of the firing line for a fortnight.

It’s lovely here with a cool breeze blowing. I feel quite alright and am thankful I came out as one gets all the news at once,and can help the poor souls who are wounded, any old papers you can spare will be most gratefully received. I have hired a Victoria thing for a month, and shall spend my time in taking these boys out, I think in about a month they are going to be sent to England as the one with the bad eye will be three months before he is fit, and then they are afraid he may lose the sight; it is sad he is only about 20, his brother has been killed.

Well the mail is going. I know you will be delighted to hear about Arthur. I do feel so proud of him. Best love to you all, and would you send this on to the Aunts as I have not time to catch the mail to them.

Your loving daughter,

Olive M. Sanders

Arthur, though physically unharmed was psychologically much damaged by his experiences. For the rest of his life he suffered from neurasthenia and chronic headaches. As a result of his condition he was retired from active service and from 23rd July 1915 was retained in Egypt for duty at the P.O.W. camp in Maadi where he remained for the duration of the war. This no doubt saved his life, for after the evacuation of Gallipoli in January 1916 his battalion arrived back in Egypt until March 1917 when it was transferred to France to play its part on the Western Front.

Susie Gutch


3 Responses to Gallipoli 1915

  1. Diana Devlin

    Amazing account in the letter! One of my great-uncles, Russell Thorndike, was there, and a cannon fell on top of him and broke his back. He was invalided out and returned to his acting career, but he never really recovered from his injury.

  2. Nicola Stevens

    What a letter – what a story…… the happy hope of Olive, her pluck is amazing. I still do not know how anyone survived WW1 would not suffer mentally and physically. Thank you for sharing the letter with us.


  3. Clare Travers

    So interesting, Susie. My own great-uncle, Hugh Tate, was a midshipman at Gallipoli and his diary, which he kept against all the rules, is now at the imperial War Musieum. Later he was also at the Battle of Jutland. As my grandfather said, about the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, “That Ataturk was always one step ahead of us.” Olive conveys such resilience and hope, doesn”t she? Not to mention the sheer pluck of getting out there and doing something to help.

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