The Royal Anglian & Royal Lincolnshire

Regimental Association

Badge, Royal Anglian Regt

LINCOLN BRANCH

Badge, Royal Lincolnshire Regt

Home
Books & Publications
Contacts
Diary - Future
Diary - Past Events
History
Links
Medals
Membership
Memories
Museum
Music
Photographs
Personalities
Rulebook
Shop
Web Design



Please visit the Royal British Legion website Please visit the SAAFA website
Please visit the Royal Anglian Regiment's web pages Please visit website of His Majesty's Tenth Regiment of Foot, American Contingent
Please visit the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment Galleries at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life Please visit the Royal Anglian Museum (Duxford) Website
Armed Forces Day Sponsors
   
 

Valid CSS!

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

DVD for Sale

Captain John Thorpe Lewis

John Thorpe Lewis ("Jack" to his family) was the son of James Winterbotham Lewis, of Nottingham (James was the Chief Engineer to the South Indian Railway, and a Major in their Volunteers). Jack was a Captain in the 6th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment. His brother, Frederick W was a doctor with the Royal Army Medical Corps. By chance they found themselves serving in the same theatre of war during the summer of 1915, in Turkey. Fred's grandson has uncovered some letters that his grandfather wrote during this time, one of which describes his own brother's death. The letter also provides an eyewitness account of the sad fate that befell many soldiers of the Lincolnshire Regiment at Scimitar Hill and Chocolate Hill that year.

 


 

The text of Fred's letter is reproduced here by kind permission of Mr R H R Cox of King's Lynn, the grandson of Captain Frederick W Lewis.


 

Alexandria

Sept, 25. 1915


Dear Laurie,


Many thanks for your letter. 1m sorry to say I can only confirm what you write me about the end of dear old Jack, untill today I was hoping he might hare been picked up by the Turks, but now I know it is impossible.


I met Major Elkington today, and can give you all details known. After landing they had more or less constant fighting. Jack and his company did splendidly, and Elkington describes him as having been absolutely fearless, he was always in the best of spirits, and this seemed to have the best possible effect on his men. On the 8th, after Darcy Frazer had been killed, Jack took his place, and in a most strenuous fight they took Chocolate Hill. After it was over Elkington saw Jack sitting down by a wouaded Turk giving him a drink from his water-bottle and having a talk with him.


Very early next morning an attack was ordered on a hill covered with scrub, and it was during the charge up this hill that Jack was wounded. They were allowed to get some way up when Machine guns opened on them, and when Elkington came up to Jack he was sitting down with his finger on the main artery of a man who was bleeding to death, almost immediately a bullet came along, went through a man's foot, struck the rock and rebounded into the poor fellow's abdomen: he quietly said "My God" and fell back. He immediately felt in his pocket for some morphia, and Elklngton helped him to take it. He then put his head quite close to his and said "John, do you wish to say anything?", but he tells me that he could get no reply and that his face had already taken on the grey look which immediately preceeds death, so he was left there lying with the man he had tried to save. Was there ever anything more pathetic? Elkington had to go on, And was almost immediately wounded In the leg. Within half an hour of this, the whole side of the hill caught fire; there was a good deal of wind, and it burnt furiously. Elkington thinks that some 300 of the wounded Lincolns died in this fire, but he is perfectly satisfied that Jack was quite beyond the reach of any pain and anguish from the flames, they simply burnt his dead body. The hill is still in the possession of the Turks. I cannot think of a more glorious ending to any man's life; he had fought splendidly, and was finally taken doing all he could to save the life of one of his men. I can almost smile through my tears, I feel so proud of him.


Would you mind sending this round to the members of the family, I have not the time to write to them all. The 6th Lincolns with 200 reserves totalled 1200, at the roll call sow 240 answer to their names.


I have been called back to Alexandria, and am to start in a few days again for Gallipoli. A new casualty Clearing station has been formed, and I am the only member of the original one who is going. I have specially asked to go, and strangely enough we are to land where Jack did - Anafarta Bay. I hope the Germans will keep the Submarines away this time.


Fred.



Relentless shelling caused Chocolate Hill to catch fire. As the Hill was engulfed by flame, Captain John Thorpe Lewis has no known grave. Hundreds of the British soldiers who lie in war cemetaries in this area of Turkey, were buried unidentified. In Green Hill Cemetery alone, 2,472 of the 2,971 men buried there are unidentified. For this reason, John Thorpe Lewis is one of the 21,000+ servicemen commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Cape Helles Peninsula, Turkey.


The obelisk is over 30 metres tall and can be seen by vessels passing through the Dardanelles.


Jack was 46 years old when he was killed.

"Turkish Guns Routed British"

Here follows the text of newspaper article first published in The New York Times of 4th September 1915 (Text reprinted here by permission of Leigh Russo, PARS International Corp. Inc. 212 221-9595 X350. Copyright © The New York Times).


Frontal Attacks Following Sari Bair Repulse Beaten Back With Heavy Loss.


WOUNDED LEFT TO FOES


Brilliant Charges Up Gallipoli Height Shattered Against the Stonewall Ottoman Defense.


MOWED DOWN IN THE OPEN


Temporary British Gain Nullified by Enfilading Fire - Fighting in a Forest Fire.


By Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett.


Special Cable to the NEW YORK TIMES.


EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN, Aug. 23

(Dispatch to The London Morning Post.)


If we have failed in the great strategic scheme of getting astride of the peninsula north of Anzac by seizing the hills around Anafarta and forcing the enemy to abandon his positions before Atchi Baba and on the Kilid Bahr salient, it certainly has not been through want of trying. The original plan just failed, as the most carefully laid plans will go wrong in war, because a corps failed to carry out the task assigned it, namely, to push through with a rush when the enemy was completely surprised and had only a few battalions to oppose our divisions.


The first attempt to seize the hills around Anafarta having definitely broken down by the morning of Aug. 10, it required time to sort and reorganize the units, collect the wounded and land stores, ammunition and artillery before any fresh attempt could be made against the position, and it was not until Aug. 21 that the army was in position to make a frontal attack on the Turks in this quarter.


This ten days* interval was made full use of by the enemy, who now, knowing definitely where our main blow would fall, was able to release his divisions in the north, stationed around Bulair, and bring some of them to *he threatened point. All hope of effecting a surprise had now vanished, and it was obvious that the position comprised within the sector stretching from Hill 70 to Hill 112—the line chosen for our assault—could only be taken by a frontal attack and sheer hard fighting. Meanwhile. the Turks had made full use of the time afforded them, and, according to their invariable practice, dug themselves in up to their necks.


Hill 70 One Objective.

Our immediate objective on the left was the capture of Hill 70, which lies In front of the main position, and has caused us so much trouble ever since the landing. Our centre and right were to advance from the ridge In front of Chocolate Hill to Yilghin Burnu, as it Is marked on the map, and from the trenches in the plain south of it, and, after capturing the Turkish trenches in the low ground in the immediate front. were to converge and assault the main objective. Hill 112.


For the bombardment which was to" precede the attack the battleships moved in closer to shore, being supported by cruisers and several monitors. At exactly 3 P. M.. Aug. 21, the first gun was fired, and for a half hour we witnessed another of those terrible bombardments which become a commonplace on this bloody soil. Once again the enemy's trenches appeared to be swallowed up in clouds of earth and smoke; but the Turks showed no sign, and not a man left his position. While this bombardment lasted the enemy's guns replied furiously, concentrating their fire chiefly on and behind Chocolate Hill, which wag wreathed in bursting shrapnel.


Very soon the shells set fire to the bush and scrub, and the fire, fanned by the breeze, burned furiously, spreading with amazing rapidity and at times blotting out the position in clouds of rolling smoke and flames. At 3:30 a regiment crept forward from the trenches and endeavored to form a firing line at the foot of Hill 70. This was the signal for a terrific outbreak of rifle fire from the whole length of the Turkish line. At the same time another regiment advanced against the south side of Hill 70 and established themselves in the burnt scrub at its foot.


Ships* Guns Aid Land Forces.

The guns still thundered away at the trenches at the top, but the Turkish infantry did not seem to care, many standing boldly up from their cover in order to get a better view of the advancing lines of khaki figures. The rifle fire was deafening, and I do not think I ever heard such a din as that produced by the ships* guns and the field pieces, the bursting shells and thousands of rifles on any battlefield before.


At 3:50 two regiments made a final rush up the hill—one battalion from the west and another from the south. A great solid mass of khaki with bayonets glistening amid the smoke and dust seemed to emerge from the burned scrub and surge toward the trenches on top. For a few minutes the artillery lengthened their fuses and shelled the reverse slopes, leaving the trench line clear. The Turks cam^ out or. top and fired furiously into the advancing lines. Some of them seemed to waver for a moment and abandoned the crest, running down behind; but the majority stuck to their trenches, determined to die where they stood.


Wounded Abandoned to Turks.

Our men got high up on the hill, but on the north side the battalion was brought to a standstill by machine guns and a cross fire on the south. Some of our men reached the top and jumped into the trenches, where they died fighting among the Turks at the point of the bayonet. In fact, at this southern angle a desperate hand-to-hand fight took place, and never have the enemy fought with greater courage and determination. For a few minutes it looked as if the hill was won. for our men were swarming all over it just below the crest and actually occupied a section of the trench line on the south, but then a Turkish battery behind Hill 112 fired salvos of shrapnel at a range of only 1.200 yards, which simply swept whole lines away; and forced the survivors to retire farther down the .Mopes to some feeble cover. Here they hung on a few minutes, but^ the attack had spent its force, and they came back to the trenches so recently left. The attack had failed once more. Hill 70 was left to the Turks, with our wounded and dead.


Meanwhile the fighting had been just as severe on the right, for at half-past three the troops of a certain division rushed from the trenches and stormed the first Turkish line under a fearful fire, over ground without a particle of cover. Unfortunately it was found impossible to storm the second Turkish line in the flat, which was established in a deadly loopholed trench, with over-head cover.


Unable to clear the Turks from the open, our infantry wheeled to the North, according to a previous plan, to form an assault on Hill 112, while a brigade advanced from the ridge in front of Yilghin Burnu—or rather, they were driven off it to the south side by the terrible fire which had broken out, this having been started by the bursting shells. The flames swept in a solid bank, surmounted by rolling clouds of black smoke, right across the hill, and the heat was terrific. Many of the wounded, who had been placed or had crawled there for safety, had to be hastily carried out and laid out in the open. All this delayed and stopped the further development of the attack on Hill 112. A division wheeling toward the same objective was caught at short range by the enemy's second trench on Its' flank in the open plain.


It became obvious that it would be impossible to proceed with the advance on Hill 112 unless this trench line were taken. Throughout the afternoon the fighting in this quarter was intense, and the rifle fire tremendous, but we could not gain another yard of ground.


Second Assault on Hill 70.

Meanwhile, orders were issued for another attack on Hill 70 by a battalion which had hitherto been held in reserve and a mounted division in reserve behind Lala Baba. This splendid body of troops, in action for the first time and led by men bearing some of the best-known names in England, moved out from under cover and proceeded to cross the Salt Lake in open order. No sooner did they appear than the enemy concentrated a heavy shrapnel fire on the advancing lines, fully exposed as they were in the open: but the men, moving as if on parade, pressed steadily on, losing many, but never wavering, and formed up behind the infantry brigade in front of Hill 70.


It was now 6 o'clock, and once more the crest was furiously bombarded by every available gun, while the Turkish batteries concentrated on our trenches. The scene was majestic, but awful, for the light was now rapidly waning, and the whole horizon was almost blotted out with enormous clouds of smoke and flames, as trees, scrub, homesteads and the very grass burned furiously at a dozen points, while the noise of the thousands of rifles rendered the scene a perfect inferno.


A little after six, the battalions went forward, seized the southern slopes of the hill and began to dig themselves in. preparatory to a further advance against the top. At this point the shell fire seemed to begin to tell on the Turks, for many of them could be seen streaming from the northern knoll of the hill, down to the trench line, either because it had become untenable or they were preparing to meet the advance of our men. For about an hour there was no change in the situation, and then the yeomanry again moved forward in a solid mass, forming up under the lower western and northern slopes.


Yeomanry's Brilliant Charge.

It was now almost beginning to be dark, and the attack seemed to hang fire, when suddenly the yeomanry leaped to their feet and as a single man charged right up the hill. They were met by a withering fire, which rose in crescendo as they neared the northern crest; but nothing could stop them. They charged at amazing speed, without a single halt from the bottom to the top, losing many men and many of their chosen leaders. including gallant Sir John Milbanke. It was a stirring sight, watched by thousands in the now ever-gathering gloom. One moment they were below the crest, the next on top. A moment setter many had disappeared inside the Turkish trenches, bayoneting all the defenders who had not fled in time, while others never stopped at the trenches line, but. dashed in pursuit down the reverse slopes.


From thousands of lips the shout went up that Hill 70 was won. But the night was now rapidly falling. The figures became blurred, then lost all shape and finally disappeared from view, and as one left Chocolate Hill he looked back on a vista of rolling clouds of smoke and huge fires, from the midst of which the roar of the rifle fire never ceased.


All through the night the battle raged incessantly, and when morning broke Hill 70 was no longer in our possession. Apparently the Turks were never driven off the knoll on the northern crest, from which they enfiladed us with machine guns and artillery fire, while those of the yeomanry who dashed down the reverse slopes in pursuit were counterattacked and lost heavily, being obliged to retire. In the night it was decided that it would be impossible to hold the hill in daylight, and the order was given for the troops to withdraw to their original positions. Nothing, however, will lessen the glory of that final charge of England's yeomen. Thus ended this great fight.


However, the troops at Anzac achieved some successes, the Australian infantry finally driving the enemy from Hill 60, while our whole line was linked up with the trench line instead of isolated posts.


Editor's Notes:

Fred's letter tells of the terrible losses that the 6th Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, sustained. A reduction in force from 1200 down to 240 men is a casualty rate of 80%.


Green hill and Chocolate Hill were named thus, by the allies, because of their colour.


The eight month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by Commonwealth and French forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the Western Front in France and Belgium, and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea. Allies landed on the Turkish peninsula on 25-26 April 1915. Then on 6th August, further troops were put ashore at Suvla. The fiercest fighting came in early August when simultaneous assaults were launched on three fronts. Green Hill and Chocolate Hill (which form together Yilghin Burnu), rise from the eastern shore of the salt lake. They were captured on 7 August 1915 by the 6th Lincolns and the 6th Border Regiment but once taken, no further advance was possible. On the two following days, unsuccessful efforts were made to push on along the ridge of 'W' Hill (Ismail Oglu Tepe), leading to Anafarta Sagir and on 21 August, the attack of the 11th and 29th Divisions and the 2nd South Midland Mounted Brigade to take Scimitar Hill, left the front line at stalemate again.


The 6th Battalion formed part of the 54th (East Anglian) Division. The 54th was formed as a result of Richard Burdon Haldane's 1908 Army reforms, when he was Secretary of State for War. The 54th was one of 14 Divisions of the peacetime Territorial Force. All units of the 54th were mobilised for full time war service on 5th August 1914. On 8th July 1915 the Division was ordered to refit for service at Gallipoli. They left embarked between the 14th and 19th of July 1915, sailing from Liverpool and Devonport. The first ships reached Lemnos on 6th August. Then on 10th August more units landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli.


If you should wish to read more about the Gallipoli campaign, two books to consider are: Ray Westlake's British Regiments at Gallipoli and Col F G Spring's History of the 6th Bn. Lincolnshire Regiment during the First World War.


The Gallipoli Association Website: www.gallipoli-association.org



The Webmaster of www.thelincolnshireregiment.org is always pleased to hear from anyone who has information or photographs that we could publish on our website (must have strong connections to the Lincolnshire Regiment or the Royal Anglian Regiment please). You can contact him via our [ Contacts ] page.