Surveyors in the Gallipoli campaign

Cathy Linacre

Head of Reference Service (RICS)

There has been a lot in the news recently about the centenary of the Gallipoli campaign in the First World War which ran from 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. 12 members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (then called the Surveyors’ Institution) died in the campaign, which aimed to secure a sea route for Britain’s Russian allies and to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern Istanbul).

29 Division in Galipoli (image: flickr commons)

The bulk of our losses were in the August campaign with eight casualties in that month, three of those on 21 August in the attacks on with attacks at Scimitar Hill and Hill 60.

Gallipoli is of course notorious for the heavy losses amongst the Australian and New Zealand troupes. However, at this point in our history we had no members from either country.

Many thanks to Tim Bell, Director at Day and Bell, who responded to my appeal for stories and information at the start of the First World War Centenary celebrations, for information on Arthur Clive Leech of the Manchester Regiment, which Tim is researching.

Captain Leech was a minerals surveyor from Wigan and had been in the Territorial Army before the war. He took part in the attack on the main line of Turkish trenches on 4 June 1915 with the 42nd and 29th Division. The attack was carried through to the Turkish third line with 'terrible casualties'. Although the initial attack was a success, the troops were withdrawn to the Turkish front line, as the other units had not achieved their objectives. This position was held despite heavy Turkish attacks.

The death of Ernest Charles Elmhirst was reported in the Barnsley Chronicle on 7 October 1916.

Second-Lieut. E C Elmhirst, who was officially reported missing at Suvla Bay on August 11 or 12 1915, is now presumed killed. The third son of the Rev. W H Elmhirst, of Barnsley, he was educated at Stancliffe Hall and Malvern College, and was articled to Messrs. Fennell and Green, mining engineers, of Wakefield, when he volunteered for service. His eldest brother, Captain W. Elmhirst, is serving on the Front, and another brother was on the Indomitable at the sinking of the Blucher, and is now Flight Lieutenant in the Naval Air Service.

This is a sad record of how long it often took families to get confirmation of the death of a loved one on the front line. In fact 2nd Lieutenant Elmhirst has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial.

Reginald Sydney Hammerton’s loss was also recorded in his local paper, this time the Skegness, Mablethorpe and Alford News.

The sad news was received from the War Office by Mr. Charles B. Hammerton of the Woodlands, Drummond Road, Skegness, on Wednesday last, that his youngest son Lance Corporal Reginald Sydney Hammerton, of the 4th. Hussars, was killed at the Dardenelles on August 21st last.

Enlisting as a dispatch rider, he had his motorcycle blown from under him on August 10th, and, with a friend, transferred to the 1st. battalion of the City of London Yoemanry in order they might take part in the great attack on Achi Baba.

Unfortunately, they found the Turks greatly outnumbered them, but they refused to surrender, and young Hammerton fell in a bayonet charge on Hill 70. Lance Corporal Hammerton thus died a hero in the thick of battle.

He left duties at Epping Forest to respond to his country’s call, being accepted for the 4th. Hussars.

Standing 6 feet 1 inch, and weighing 13 stones 12 pounds, trooper Hammerton was a fine specimen of British manhood. He gave up a salary of £400 a year for a trooper’s pay.

Arthur Lewis Kennaway from Dorset also died on 21 August 1915 and is buried in the same cemetery as Lance Corporal Hammerton. There is a nice tribute to him in De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour, a fascinating memorial book published after the war. It reports that he was missing after the attack on the Turkish trenches near Chocolate Hill on 21 August.

It records that a brother officer wrote “Lieut. Kennaway was known to many friends as one of those who combined strength of character with a great charm of personality and keenness in whatever work he took in hand.” And a trooper that “he was the bravest officer that ever walked”.

These tributes in contemporary language are very touching.

The complete list of those lost by the Surveyors’ Institution at Gallipoli is attached.

I have now completed my research on the members named in the Roll of Honour in the transactions. If anybody is looking for information on a member who fought in the First World War I would be happy to try to help. Please feel free to email me clinacre@rics.org.

British soldiers in Suvla Bay in Turkey (image: flickr commons)

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