ONE OF THE DARKEST DAYS IN THE HISTORY OF THE SCOTTISH BORDERS
The Gallipoli Peninsular, 12th July 1915. One final attempt was made by the 52nd (Lowland) Division to breakthrough at Helles. The plan for the 12th July was to attack towards Krithia along Achi Baba Nullah. On the 11th July 1/4th and 1/5th KOSB moved into their allotted attack positions and at 7.35 am the following morning four ‘waves’ charged simultaneously. The first two waves were made up of the 1/4th KOSB and the third and fourth by the 1/5th KOSB, all having to negotiate very difficult terrain. Lt Col William J. Millar, Commanding the 1/5th described the attack in the Battalion war diary:
“Within 150 yards the charge became a walk but there was no wavering. The 1/4th R.S.F. and the French failed to advance beyond the line of the 1st Turkish trench. Hence the 1/4th K.O.S.B. was absolutely in the air, as also was the right of my leading (the third) wave. The first two waves (1/4th K.O.S.B.) failed to find any trace of the objective assigned to them…A certain number returned on my right but about 300 officers and men are still missing and unaccounted for.”
The diary continues:
“The 3rd wave was gradually bombed towards our left until a party of about 40 men under Lieut. Douglas was left. In spite of all efforts to dislodge him, Lieut. Douglas held on until reinforced, when the line was made good. The 1st Turkish trench was captured at once, consolidated and held.”
1/4th KOSB casualties: 535
1/5th KOSB casualties: 270
A Hawick veteran, Nichol Robertson of the 1/4th KOSB found himself well forward during the charge of the 12th July:
‘And of course the Turks could concentrate everything they had on one small sector, course so could we but you see the Turks were on the defensive and we just got everything they could possibly lay in to us. And then as far as we were concerned we were to take three lines of trenches, well, when we got over the first, there was another practically obliterated, and there was no such thing as the third line and when we got right out in the open, we were outflanked on either side and when we turned to come back, we came into our own artillery fire as well as the Turk’s. Some of us had pieces of biscuit tin on our backs and of course, when we turned that flashed in the direction of the Turks and we just got it.’
The final moments of two of the 1/4th KOSB officers:
“Come away, Borderers! Don’t be beaten!” was the stirring cry of Captain A. Wallace as he continued to advance, although badly wounded and with blood streaming down his face, until he was hit again, this time to fall a dying man. Lieut. J.B. Innes had one of his arms shattered by a bursting shell. He got his cousin, Lieut. W.K. Innes, to cut it off, asked for a cigarette, and continued to cheer the Borderers on until he died from loss of blood.
The Hawick Callants’ Club
On the 12th July, 1916, exactly one year after the tragic charge, a wreath was laid at the 1514 Memorial (The “Horse”) in Hawick by the Hawick Callants’ Club. Attached to the wreath was a card bearing the words:
“In remembrance of the Hawick Territorials, members of the 1/4th King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who fell bravely charging the Turkish trenches in Gallipoli, 12th July, 1915. ‘The ancient spirit of our fathers hath not gone.”
And every year since on the anniversary of the charge, a wreath is laid at both the 1514 and the Hawick War Memorial in perpetual memory of those local men who died at Gallipoli.
This year’s remembrance ceremony will take place on the 12th of July at 7.00 pm, all Borderers will be made most welcome. Following the ceremony there will refreshments in the Burn’s Club.
“Always a Borderer”