The Gallipoli Campaign took place between February 1915 and January 1916. Winston Churchill’s plan was for a massive naval bombardment of the Turkish guns controlling the Dardanelles and a landing at Gallipoli. The aim was to get Turkey, an ally of Germany, to surrender, open another front and provide a route to assist the Russian forces.
Remarkably, the Poole Museum has a pencil sketch by Poole man, George E. Ford, which he did in 1915 while he was at ANZAC Cove on Gallipoli. The sketch is a view from a dugout looking out to sea with three ships at anchor. One of the ships looks like a pre-dreadnought-type warship, with the distinctive tall wireless masts, while the other two are probably supply ships. Piles of ration boxes and a lighter are on the beach. According to the description accompanying the drawing, the dugout was totally destroyed by a shell not long after the sketch was done.George Ford attested ‘for the duration of the conflict’ on February 9th 1915 at Bournemouth. He lived in Seldown, Poole and was aged 24 ½ years. He married Elizabeth Muriel Belben in March 1913. They had a young son, Bernard, who was born on October 11th 1914 but sadly died in 1915 and is buried in Longfleet.
George Ford joined the Royal Army Service Corps as a clerk. His trade in Poole was recorded as a draughtsman in the pottery trade although another source says clerk. His service record shows that he:
- Embarked on HMS Terrible from Portsmouth (September 16th 1915)
HMS Terrible was a Powerful-class cruiser launched in 1895. She was put up for sale in 1914 but the advent of the war brought her back into service. The journey on which Ford travelled was the only one the ship made before it became a depot ship.
- Disembarked Mudros (October 5th 1915)
Mudros was a small port on the island of Lemnos in the Aegean Sea. It became one of the busiest ports in the world during the Gallipoli campaign and was overwhelmed in the ensuing chaos. Supply ships even returned to England with their cargos intact. Ironically, the system delivered vast quantities of rations to Gallipoli just as the evacuation of the troops was taking place and according to one German general it took nearly two years to remove everything that had been left.
- Posted to 179, D.U.S. Anzac (October 5th 1915)
Anzac Cove was the official name of Z Beach. When Australian and New Zealand (ANZAC) troops were landed on Z Beach in April 1915 they found that instead of a fairly level hinterland they were under a 200ft cliff. A navigational error meant they had been landed at the wrong place. Chaos ensued and General Birdwood requested permission to withdraw but was overruled by General Hamilton who was in overall command. Any ships off the beachhead were hit by artillery fire from behind the cliff and, therefore, they had to move further away. Wounded were taken out on lighters which should have been bringing in troops and supplies and the last battalion landed 4 hours later than planned. It was said that ‘the whole plan for the landing had fallen to pieces’. The personnel who were supposed to control the beach were landed 6 hours after the original landing.
- Sailed on the SS Grampian from Mudros to Alexandria (January 4th 1916)
Early December 1915 saw the evacuation of tens of thousands of troops from Gallipoli and the remainder left in early January 1916. In contrast to the landings, the evacuation was remarkably successful.
SS Grampian was built in Scotland in 1907 for the Allan Line Royal Mail Steamers before the company was bought by the Canadian Pacific Steamship company. It was used during the First World War as a troop transport ship.
– Promoted to Corporal (April 11th 1916) and then Sergeant (April 1st 1917) during his time in the Middle East.
The only blemish on his military career was when he was severely reprimanded for delaying military correspondence while in the field on October 10th 1917. He delayed showing a telegram for 17 1/4hrs.
- Admitted to 76th CCS Hospital (August 10th 1918)
CCS = Casualty Clearing Station. The 76th was based in Palestine. Ford was discharged about a week later.
- Promoted to Staff Sergeant (November 1st 1918)
- Embarked on H.T. Caledonia to UK (May 14th 1919)
This was for a 3 weeks furlough on compassionate grounds – the reason is not known.
- Taken off strength of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force on expiration of furlough (June 28th 1919)
George Ford’s time in the army was at an end. The 1939 register records him living at 10, Seldown Road, Poole together with his wife, Elizabeth Muriel and son, Reginald, who was born in 1920. George was working as a book-keeper for a wholesale fruiterer while Reginald was a storekeeper.
The involvement of men from the Dorset Regiment in the Gallipoli Campaign will be described in a future post.