Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Harry and the Gallipoli Campaign

With the 100 year anniversary of the start of the Gallipoli Campaign coming up on Saturday it seemed apt to have a look at this famous campaign and its links with the Manchester Refuges. The Campaign intended to secure the Gallipoli peninsula, a strait which provided a sea route to the Russian Empire. A naval attack was launched with the aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople. This was eventually repelled and after eight months of fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign was abandoned and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.


Many of the Manchester Refuge boys signed up for active service during World War One. Although most went into the army, some joined other branches such as the Marines. Of course many were already in the navy, having joined training ships like the Indefatigable in Birkenhead. Some were deployed onto battleships headed for the Dardanelles.

Harry was one such marine. Born in 1892, Harry entered the Higgin’s Home in Cheetham Hill on 9th May 1903. Like many of the other children in the homes on George Street, Harry was an orphan. A few months later he transferred to the Atkinson Home where he remained for the next three years prior to returning to his elder sister’s care. He then joined the Indefatigable to be trained for a life in the Navy.

Harry’s admission entry

Harry, like many other old boys involved in the Great War returned to his old home whilst on leave, to tell of his experiences. He had become a leading seaman and electrician on board the H.M.S Dido, the Leading Torpedo of the 9th Destroyer Flotilla. Here Harry became involved with transporting men down to the Dardanelles and fought in the Battle of Heligoland and the Battle of Jutland. He was wounded twice and even captured for a short time by the Turks.

On his return to the Atkinson Home, Harry also told a story of a German ‘trick’ portrayed during the War. Battleships were made up to look like ‘innocent little islands, even palm trees apparently growing on it, thereby allowing the approach to their batteries’. Until of course gunfire gave the seemingly peaceful island away and ship, trees and foliage was destroyed by the allies. Harry referred to it as a ‘marvellously ingenious trick’.

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