Navan Shamrock Festival Committee

CYWS Hall, Fairgreen, Navan, Co. Meath.

TEL: + 353 (0) 879671173


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Navan Shamrock Festival Committee

CYWS Hall, Fairgreen, Navan, Co. Meath.

TEL: + 353 (0) 879671173


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Gallipoli and Meath by Noel French

With the Western Front becoming bogged down in trench warfare in late 1914, Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, proposed a campaign in the eastern Mediterranean which might knock out Germany’s ally turkey and open up a route-way to supply Russia.

The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign took place on the peninsula of Gallipoli, Turkey, between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916. A joint British and French operation was mounted with large  numbers of Irishmen in the Dublin Fusiliers, Leinster Regiment and other regiments taking part.


The invasion plan of 25 April 1915 was for the 29th Division to land at Helles on the tip of the peninsula and then advance upon the forts at Kilitbahir. The main landings took place at two locations Cape Helles and Ari Burnu (shortly afterwards renamed Anzac Cove). Cape Helles was an appalling choice of landing site, being the perfect defensive location with gun emplacements housed on steep slopes. At Cape Helles V Beach the covering force was landed from a converted collier, SS River Clyde, which was run aground beneath the fortress so that the troops could disembark directly via ramps to the shore. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers would land at V Beach from open boats. The Ottoman defenders were in a position to inflict appalling casualties on the landing infantry. The troops emerging one by one from the sally ports on the River Clyde presented perfect targets to the machine guns in the Turkish fort. Out of the first 200 soldiers to disembark, only 21 men made it onto the beach. Nicholas Smyth, a lance corporal with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers landed in Gallipoli on 25 April and was killed five days later on V Beach. A relative of the Tisdalls of Charlesfort  Sub-Lt. A.W. St. Clair Tisdall, won the V.C.  for distinguished gallantry at Gallipoli, in rescuing under heavy fire, several wounded men on the beach during the landing from the “River Clyde” on 25 April 1915.

Patrick Connolly of Athboy serving with the Lancashire Fusiliers, was killed in action, Gallipoli, 14 June 1915.

On the night of 6 August a fresh landing of two infantry divisions was to be made at Suval, five miles (8 km) north of the Anzac area. Additional Irish troops were deployed to Gallipoli. Most of the Irish soldiers sailed from Liverpool on ships of the Cunard line. En route they stopped at Egypt at Alexandria. Intense heat and disease took their toll. On August 7th the 10th Irish Division reached the Dardanelles and disembarked under the cover of darkness. They landed at Suvla Bay on August 7th without maps or orders. Water was in such short supply, men nearly killed each other for a drink. Their ammunition ran out and on occasion they resorted to throwing stones at the Turks.

Bernard Curtis from Drumconrath landed in Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 and was killed in action just two days later. Patrick Higgins, Private, Royal Irish Fusiliers was the son of Peter Higgins, of Maudlin St., Kells. He took part in the landing at Suvla Bay and was reported wounded and missing in an engagement at Chocolate Hill on 10th August 1915. Sergeant Thomas Kennedy from Oristown landed at Gallipoli on 5 August and was killed six days later. Soon after landing he was slightly wounded and recovering rapidly, went back to the firing line.

Water was very important in the sun and the quartermaster general of the Leinster’s ensured that his men had a good supply of water by using the reserve store of petrol tins to store and transport water.

On Monday 9 August the Leinsters were ordered to go up to the front line and relieve some New Zealand troops. By three in the afternoon the Leinsters had been shot to pieces by Tuyrkish gunfire. But they had reached the base of the ridge held by the New Zealanders. During darkness they took charge of the ridge but were attacked the following day. By Wednesday the attacks had faded but the Leinsters had suffered a huge amount of casualties. Three Meath men fell in the fighting on the 9th August. Bernard Curtis of Drumconrath serving with the Royal Irish Fusilier was killed in action. Patrick Maguire of Carnaross, Kells served with the Leinster Regiment and was killed in action. Patrick Rafferty of Dunshaughlin served with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, and was killed in action. Henry McKeown, a sergeant with the Australian Infantry, was killed in action between 6 and 8 August. The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army corps and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. James Brennan of Julianstown died of wounds 14 August 1915.

Captain  Arthur John Dillon Preston of Swainstown, was killed in action, Suvla Bay, 15 August 1915. He was dispatched with his regiment, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, to the Gallipoli Peninsula on 9 July. He took part in all the heavy fighting at Suvla Bay until 15 August when he fell in the moment of victory. Captain Preston captured an enemy position but in the counter-attack was fatally wounded in the right breast. Earlier that day he had written a letter to his wife.

William Brien who was born at Randalstown, Navan, served with the Royal Irish Regiment, was killed in action, Gallipoli, 16 August 1915. Alex Strain of Rathmullan serving with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, died of wounds, Gallipoli, 28 August 1915.

John O’Dare of Trim was wounded at the landing at Suvla Bay. He stated he had been well up to September 1915, when he was at Anzac. He contracted dysentery and was sent home. On examination T.B. was found in the sputum. He was discharged as physically unfit for war service on 25 January 1916 and died on Ash Wednesday of that year in Trim Workhouse.

Following the failure of the August Offensive, the Gallipoli campaign entered a hiatus while the future direction was debated. The prospect of evacuation was raised on 11 October 1915. Suvla and Anzac were to be evacuated in late December, the last troops leaving before dawn on 20 December 1915. On the 1st of January 1916, the 1st Battalion of the Dublin Fusiliers were ordered to leave the Dardanelles Peninsula. They embarked from the beach where the coffin of the River Clyde lay run aground. Of the 1012 men of the 1st Battalion Dublin Fusiliers who had gone ashore in April, 11 men survived the killing, mutilation and disease of that terrible few months. The last British troops departed from Lancashire Landing on 9 January 1916. Amazingly, only two soldiers were wounded during the evacuation.

For those who survived Gallipoli the war was not over. Many were despatched to the Western Front or Salonika where they were killed.  Thomas Harold of Navan served with Australian Forces, having enlisted at Brisbane. He served in Gallipoli from October 1915, survived and was sent to France where he was killed in July 1916. Thomas Markey from Togherstown, was another Australian infantry man to survive Gallipoli only to be killed in France in November 1916.  Michael Drum from Kells was wounded in the Dardanelles, recovered and was sent to France where he was killed in August 1916. Peter McGrane of Smithstown, Julianstown survived the landing at Gallipoli on 7 August 1915 but went on to be killed at Salonika in October 1916. Joseph McCann of Colpe was also killed in action on 16th August.

The poet, Francis Ledwidge, served and survived Gallipoli and Salonika, only to be killed in France.  John William Gaisford of Dolly’s Grove, Dunboyne, was wounded Gallipoli but survived the war. Another survivor was Major Francis Cecil Law D.S.O., Royal Marines of Weston, Duleek, Co. Meath. He served in France and at Gallipoli, during the First World War. He died in Drogheda in 2007.

In 2010 President Mary McAleese visited the Gallipoli peninsula and laid a wreath in memory of the Irishmen who had died there.

Alexander William Campbell was the last surviving Australian participant of the Gallipoli campaign.

Born  1899 Died 2002 wikipedia

the pouges

The Pouges covered the famous ballad Waltzing Matilda, have a listen here

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