Private Herbert Gladstone Howlett
Sergeant Edmond Sleightholm
Signaller Charles Sidney Simpson
Private John Collier
Trooper Allan Stephenson
A little while before Britain had declared war on Germany in August 1914 the Australian Cabinet had offered the ‘old country’ its fleet, plus an expeditionary force of 20,000 volunteers, ‘the force to be at the complete disposal of the ‘Home’ Government’. Soon afterwards recruiting for this new army [during 1911 Australia had introduced compulsory military training for home service only] had begun throughout the continent.
On the eleventh of August recruiting had begun in Sydney. That day the military had acquired 3,600 men aged between nineteen and thirty eight years of age. Each had stood at least five feet six inches tall and had a chest measurement of thirty-four inches. In those early days of the war only the best had been chosen, unlike later in the conflict, when almost anyone had been taken. The doctors had had a free hand in these early selections and had refused anyone with bad teeth and flat feet [at the beginning of June 1915 the Australians had lowered their minimum height by one inch].
By Christmas fifty two thousand ‘Australians’ had enlisted for war service, of these thirty per cent had been born in Britain. Amongst these recruits had inevitably been a number of men from Scarborough and the surrounding district that had been described as ‘Scarborough Colonials’ or simply ‘Colonials’ by the local press whenever their names had been included in their newspaper’s latest edition’s casualty list. These men had been amongst the thousands who had forsaken the poverty and miserable circumstances, which had been the lot of the British working classes in the years leading up to the war, to take a chance for the reportedly better way of life to be found in the Colonies. Some may have indeed made a better life for themselves by the time they had enlisted only to lose it on shores far away from Yorkshire, and from their adopted lands.
Shortly after enlistment the recruits had been posted to a base camp. Those from Sydney had gone to the racecourses at Randwick and Kensington, where there had been no tents, the recruits being forced to sleep in the stands. Those recruited in Victoria had been huddled on the windswept plain at Broadmeadows, carousing at night in Melbourne, when they had the chance. The South Australians had gone to Morphetville; the Queenslanders to Enoggera, the western Australians had been allocated to Blackboy Hill, whilst the Tasmanians had gone to Pontville.
Whilst at these places the recruits had undergone infantry training, under the watchful eye of retired drill instructors from the Brigade of Guards and a host of other British regiments. Whilst there they had also received their uniforms of khaki woollen Norfolk jackets, with four large pockets and brass buttons oxidised black, brown boots, leather belt and ammunition pouches, and webbing packs. In addition, each had received a slouch hat bearing the rising sun emblem of the newly created Australian Imperial Force [A.I.F.], both of which were about to become undying symbols of ‘The ‘Colonials’.
Barely trained and hastily thrown together the men had been divided into three Brigades [1ST, 2ND, and 3RD, each consisting of four battalions of infantry, around 12,000 officers and men all told] which had been christened the First Australian Division, and had been placed under the command of Major General William Thorsby Bridges, who until recently had been Inspector General of Australia’s permanent army. Orders had been received during October 1914 for the formation to congregate at Albany, Western Australia, where the division had joined with a squadron of Australian Light Horse, and the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, commanded by Major General Alexander John Godley, which had arrived from Wellington on the twentieth of October.
The convoy had eventually sailed from King George Sound on the first of November 1914, which, coincidently, had been the day that Turkey had declared war on the Allies. Aboard the thirty-three ships, bound for the customary ‘unknown destination’, had been over thirty thousand men and seven thousand eight hundred horses. Spread out over a distance of seven and a half miles the convoy had been escorted by three cruisers, the Japanese Ibuki, and the Australian H.M.A.S.’s Melbourne and Sydney, which on the 9TH of November, whilst the convoy had been steaming near the Cocos Islands, had been detached to deal with a strange warship, which had turned out to be the German raider Emden. A fierce fight had ensued between the two ships resulting in the surrender, and eventual beaching of the crippled German Light Cruiser. The occasion had been marked by the men of expeditionary force being given the afternoon off.
The ‘Colonials’ had initially believed that they had been bound for England, however, once the convoy had reached the Red Sea, Godley and Bridges had been informed that they were to disembark in Egypt, where the force would undertake further training before carrying on to Europe later. The Australians and New Zealanders had eventually landed at Alexandria on the 8TH of December 1914 and had moved to Cairo, where the force had moved into camps some ten miles from the centre of the city, at the flyblown hamlet of Mena.
Shortly after their arrival in Egypt the Expeditionary Force, by this time commanded by the amiable Lieutenant General Sir William Birdwood, had begun to acquire the reputation of being unruly and disdainful of authority. Although the New Zealanders had been considered ‘steady and reliable’, the Australian soldiers had not been the same as their English counterparts. Usually larger, and rougher in speech, and not at all phased by authority, ‘the Colonials’ had, in addition, been paid six shilling princely a day for overseas service, six times more than the standard British ‘Tommy’ [five shillings of this had been ‘active pay’, the extra shilling being ‘deferred’, to be paid to the soldier upon his discharge from the army].
Whilst in Egypt some of the Colonials had had their photographs taken. Many of these snapshots of those carefree days before the Dardanelles had inevitably been sent to the folks back home in Britain, some had even appeared in local papers such as the ‘Scarborough Pictorial’. The edition of Wednesday the seventh of April 1915 had included portraits of former residents Sergeant Edmond Sleightholm of the 13TH Battalion, and eighteen years old signaller Charles Sidney Simpson of the 7TH battalion. Another photograph shows a smiling Private Donald Johnson, of the 5TH Battalion [the son of the well known Scarborough Council Diver, William S. Johnson, who had resided in the town at No. 2 Melrose Street], with five of his mates astride camels, all blissfully unaware of the ordeals that were to begin just over two weeks later.
Loaded down with 200 rounds of .303 ammunition, rifle and bayonet, an entrenching tool with two empty sand bags wrapped around it, a full water bottle, heavy pack and two white muslin bags containing two extra days worth of ‘Iron Rations’, including a tin of ‘Bully Beef’, biscuits, tea, and sugar, the Colonials had set foot on the peninsula just before dawn on Sunday the 25TH of April 1915.
Landed in the wrong place, on a stretch of sand just to the north of the planned ‘Z Beach’ [later to be named ‘Brighton Beach’ after the popular Melbourne beach of the same name], forever be known as ‘ANZAC Cove’ [Australian and New Zealand Army Corps], the site, located some thirteen miles north of the British landings at Helles, near a promontory known as ‘Gaba Tepe’, had been the place where the 9TH, 10TH, and 11TH battalions of the 3RD Brigade of the 1st Australian Division, which had been assigned as the covering force for the main landing by the division, had stepped ashore into a spatter of Turkish rifle fire and a heap of chaos.
Despite being badly jumbled up in the confusion of the landing [there had been not two men from the same unit together], and for the most part leaderless, the ‘Colonials’ had stuck to their orders, which had been, to move inland as quickly as possible, and had thrown themselves ‘enthusiastically’ into action, and had made their way to their first daunting obstacle, a steep rough sided cliff face which had become known as ‘Plugge’s [pronounced ‘Pluggy’s’] Plateau’. Regardless of its fearful appearance, the unperturbed ‘Colonials’ had recklessly surged forward onto the lower slopes of the 200 feet high cliff;
’The men did it all on their own initiative, which was greatly to their credit. They crawled, climbed, ran, and struggled over boulders, hills, high valleys and dales, ever going up and up this enormously high mountain like cliff, for it was a fearful height up…. ‘Up and down we went, up, up, for ever it seemed; this time to the summit which at last we reached and then dashed along after the Turks who we could see clearly now in the rising sunlight… 
Having reached the summit of ‘Plugges Plateau’ the triumphant men of the covering force had next encountered a sudden drop on the far side. All around them the ground had fallen away in steep precipices into a twisting, scrub lined valley. Yet again the Diggers had charged headlong into the unknown…’Down we went slipping and scrambling and sliding, following the track of a stony gorge, while our friend the enemy poured in rifle fire and shrapnel’…. Slowly. As a result of the mistakes made during the landing, but compounded by the complexity of the terrain, which had ran off the beach, the Australian attack had lost all cohesion and coordination.
All possibility of establishing a central command had been lost as the men of 3RD Brigade, followed by the remainder of 1ST Division, as well as the New Zealand forces had become intermixed and spread about in the labyrinth of hills and gullys above the beach. Inevitably, the tremendous energy in which the landing had begun had lapsed into chaos. All the while the equally bewildered tiny Turkish garrison at Gaba Tepe had slowly regrouped and had begun to fortify the ‘Colonial’s’ main objective, a lofty hilltop a mile inland named ‘Gun Ridge’, which had in fact been reached by an officer and a party of men from the 10TH Battalion. This party, despite beating off numerous attacks by the Turks had been killed to a man, never to be seen again, their remains only being discovered atop the grassy knoll after the war.
An hour after the covering force had landed the remainder of the Australian First Division, the 1ST and 2ND Brigades, had begun to make their way towards the hostile shore. The first boats of 2ND Brigade had been about two hundred yards from the beach when they had come under heavy machine gun fire from the Turkish position known as ‘Fisherman’s Hut’, which had caused severe casualties. Close in shore and under Turkish artillery fire, the transports carrying the assault force had been forced to move further off in an attempt to lessen the effects of the shell fire, however, this increase in distance between ship and shore had inevitably meant that the feet last of the division’s infantry had not touched sand until early afternoon.
By this time the beachhead had been in total chaos. The Australian and New Zealander troops had been inter mixed, and although from around mid day until four o’clock, there had been a pause in the landing of troops, the final units of the Division who landed just before this, had continued to enter the line ad hoc. Nonetheless the morale of the Colonials had remained high, the majority of the men spoiling for a fight after the months of training they had spent in Australia and Egypt. These high spirits had inevitably turned to frustration when the men had learned the true nature of the fight that had evolved since first light, there had been, as one soldier had written…
’No coordinated effort about it. We were just a crowd of Diggers working with each other, trusting each other blind’…. With the onset of darkness those that had rushed inland like headless chickens a few hours earlier had begun to drift back to the beach. By the end of the day the A.N.Z.A.C. had suffered over two thousand casualties
The initial situation had been so bad that during that first night ashore, Birdwood the Australian C.O., after representations from his subordinates, had begun to talk of an evacuation, and had dictated a note, which had been intended for Sir Ian Hamilton, the General Officer commanding the whole affair;
‘Both my divisional generals and brigadiers have represented to me that they fear their men are thoroughly demoralised by shrapnel fire to which they have been subjected all day after exhaustion and gallant work in the morning. Numbers have dribbled back from firing line and cannot be collected in this difficult country. Even New Zealand Brigade, which has been only recently engaged lost heavily and is to some extent demoralised. If troops are subjected to shellfire again tomorrow morning there is likely to be a fiasco, as I have no fresh troops with which to replace those in firing line. I know my representation is most serious but if we are to re-embark it must be done at once…Birdwood’….
The note had eventually reached Hamilton, who had been sleeping in his cabin aboard the Battleship, H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth, who, being unaware of the true situation ashore, had dithered, and finally sent a note telling Birdwood there was nothing else for it but to dig themselves ‘right in and stick it out’. For the men on the ground there had never been any notion of an evacuation. After dark the Turkish artillery and snipers had quietened off somewhat and the men of A.N.Z.A.C. had begun to dig their first deep trenches.
By daylight the following day some sort of cohesion had been found and the Australians and New Zealanders had begun to make plans for a concerted move away from the beach. However, by this time the opportunity had been lost forever, the Turks had reinforced their garrison to such an extent that the Anzac’s had found themselves besieged by a determined foe and unable to move. In effect, the horseshoe shaped ANZAC Cove had become their home and prison. The ensuing three months of bitter and costly fighting there would not change the course of the front line, and each attempt at a breakout would end in bloody failure.
As soon as it had become light the battleships of the Royal Navy, lying offshore had bombarded the ridges above ANZAC with their twelve and fifteen inch guns;
‘The hills over which the Turks had to advance were plastered with shells from the warships… In front the hills ablaze with bursting shells, dense clouds of smoke rising as pieces of hill were hurled skywards. Above, the sky filled with puffs of white smoke which marked the bursting of Turkish shrapnel and higher still, far op aloft, seaplanes circling and soaring as they observed the effects of the warships fire’
Despite this onslaught, the incredibly courageous Turks had continued to attack the positions at ANZAC;
‘Yet throughout it all the Turks came on and it was only after repeated bayonet charges on our part that they were finally checked and fell back to entrench themselves, leaving us free to improve our trenches and communications’… 
During Wednesday the 28TH of April the Deal, Chatham, and Plymouth battalions of Royal Marines Light Infantry, plus a battalion of sailors all belonging to the Royal Naval Division had landed at Gaba Tepe and soon afterwards these units had moved inland to relieve the worn and shell-shocked Australians. As the scattered ‘Colonials’ had been relieved the exhausted and bedraggled men had made their way back to the mouth of a small valley, which, due to it’s exposure to Turkish artillery fire had appropriately become known as ‘Shrapnel Gully’ by the Australians. Here men who had separated from their own units for over three days had been reunited with some of their mates, some, however, would never again be reunited.
By midday on the 30TH of April the Australian 1ST Brigade had lost some sixty officers and one thousand three hundred and twenty five other ranks, whilst the Third Brigade had incurred casualties amounting to sixty two officers, and one thousand eight hundred and three men killed, wounded and missing. When the Battalions belonging to the 2ND Brigade had finally been rounded up the total losses of 1ST Australian Division had been estimated at around one hundred and seventy nine officers, and four thousand seven hundred and fifty two other ranks killed, wounded, and missing. Amongst them had been; 1199 Private Herbert Gladstone Howlett
Born in Scarborough at No.19 Ramshill Road on the 13TH of February 1883, ‘Bert’ had been the sixth of eight children of Mary Ann and Edwin Howlett, a cabinetmaker, who for many years had carried on a business at the above address. However, by the turn of the century Edwin Howlett had taken his family to New Zealand, where they had taken up residence in Franklin Road, in the North Island’s blossoming city of Auckland. Whilst there, at the age of thirteen Bert had been indentured for five years to furniture manufacturers, Johnson and Garlick, as an apprentice upholsterer. 
Prior to the war Bert Howlett had been living almost on the southernmost tip of North Island in the city of Wellington, where, by this time he had established his own upholstery business, and had been an active ‘Freemason’ of the ‘United Order of Grand Druids’. Obviously by then relatively well off and moving in the best of social circles, Howlett had also been a keen yachtsman, and sportsman.
At the time of the outbreak of the European war, Howlett had been visiting Australia, and his eldest sister, Edith Mary, who by this time had become Mrs. Reid, who had been residing at No.72 Ramsay Street, in Haberfield, a part of the suburbs of the city of Sydney, New South Wales, from where, on Friday the 30TH of October 1914, Howlett had made his first tentative steps to a war that was to be the death of him almost seven months to the day later.
Howlett had enlisted that same day into the Australia’s Imperial Forces [for the duration of the war and four months after], at Rosehill Camp, located on the outskirts of Sydney. At the time, according to his service records [held in the Australian National Archives at Canberra] he had been born in the parish of Scarborough, and had been aged twenty eight years and eight months His next of kin is recorded as being his elder brother Frank, who had been living at the time in New Zealand at the family home at 209 Karnaghape Road, Auckland. That same day Howlett had undergone a medical which had determined little more than he had stood at five feet four and a half inches tall, weighed 9 stones 3pounds, had possessed a fair complexion, blue eyes and fair hair, in addition that he had been a ‘Congregationalist’ by religion.
Allocated to the 1ST Reinforcement Battalion, Howlett had undergone a month of basic infantry training at Rosehill before being included in a draft of replacements for men of the First Battalion who had proved to be unfit for military service, or had fallen by the wayside since the unit’s formation just two weeks after Britain’s declaration of war in August 1914. Sent for more training at the windswept Broadmeadows Camp, located on a desolate plain some fifteen miles west of Melbourne.
Bert Howlett, and 1800 other replacements had eventually boarded the Australian Troopship ‘A32’, which had left Melbourne on the 22ND of November 1914 in a convoy of nineteen transports carrying 10,500 men of the 4TH Australian Infantry Brigade, and 2,000 New Zealanders [destined to form the ‘New Zealand and Australian Division’], the 2ND Australian Light Horse Brigade, plus a field bakery, a field butchery, and a veterinary unit. The convoy had passed through the Suez Canal by the end of January, and on the first of February the various units, described by Bean as ‘one of the finest contingents that ever left Australia’, had begun disembarking at Alexandria.
Whilst the politicians and ‘top brass’ in Whitehall had wrangled over whether or not to invade the Gallipoli Peninsular at all, the men of the First Australian Division, unaware of the turmoil going on behind locked doors in England, had begun to conduct an intensive programme of training in the Sahara.
By the end of January 1915 the broiling [temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit had not been uncommon] desert around Mena had been divided into three large training areas [one for each of the Division’s three infantry brigades]. Early each morning, after a breakfast of boiled eggs, bread, jam, and tea, the battalion’s of men had marched out of their camps, usually loaded down with full equipment and packs, into their designated portion of training area where they had been split into four companies [each consisting of around 250 officers and men]. Bean, reporting on ‘one of the finest achievements in the history of the A.I.F.’ says;
‘All day long, in every valley of the Sahara for miles around the Pyramids, were groups or lines of men advancing, retiring, drilling, or squatted near their piled arms listening to their officer. For many battalions there were several miles to be marched through soft sand every morning before the training area was reached, and to be marched back again each evening’ 
During the evening of Thursday the first of April 1915 the Colonials backbreaking manoeuvring to and fro in the Sahara had finally come to an end. All leave had been stopped, those that had had the good fortune to be off camp had been rounded up and sent back to Mena, where they had found most of the Australians and New Zealanders making preparations to leave.
Far into the night the staff of First Division had worked at tables entrainment and orders of embarkation, whilst at the various Battalion Headquarters the men had been medically inspected to see if they had been fit for active service. All over the valley there had been an air of excitement, as the Colonials had made ready for war. Bonfires and incinerators had blazed throughout the night ‘Like the furnaces at Wolverhampton’ as the various units of the formation had got rid of their rubbish.
During the following morning Howlett and the remainder of First Battalion had left Cairo aboard trains which had taken them to the docks at Alexandria where they had boarded His Majesty’s Transport ‘S.S. Minnewaska’, a 14, 317 tons former Atlantic ocean liner owned by the Atlantic Transport Line of Belfast, which had been requisitioned for war service by the British Government.
Ten days later the Minnewaska had arrived at the Greek Island of Lemnos, where the ship had dropped anchor in the huge natural harbour at Mudros. Over the following fourteen days, while Hamilton had drawn up their final plans, the infantry, denied shore leave, had merely spending their time their watching from the ships rail as the vast armada of merchant and naval vessels destined to take part in the assault had steamed into the bay and by the 20TH of April over two hundred ships had been assembled.
Three days later the fleet had raised steam and one by one the assault force had hauled in their anchors and headed for the open sea. James describes;
’Few who saw the departure of the armada were not stirred by the scene. Some describe the gaiety of the men, the roars of cheering from the packed transports, the bands playing; others remember the poignant quietness’ 
By 8pm on Saturday the 24TH the Minnewaska had been steaming close to the island of Imbros. At this time it had been dark and the men of First Battalion had been brought on deck and put in his place for the forthcoming landing. At the same time each man had been inspected to see that he had been carrying his full complement of ammunition and that his pack carrying his few worldly possessions had been fastened over the shoulder with two loops in such a way that they could easily be thrown off in the event of their tow being sunk [the men’s rifles had been left unloaded as orders had stipulated that no firing was to take place before daylight]. As each man had completed the inspection he had been ordered to lay his kit down where he could find it in the dark. By 6pm the inspection had been completed and the men had been told that they could rest till eleven
Between 1 and 2am in the morning of Sunday the 25TH of April the warships accompanying the transports had arrived at their battle stations and stopped their engines in the calm sea to drift towards the vaguely silhouetted shore. By this time, aboard the transports, the few infantrymen who had managed to grab some shut eye despite the cold and pre battle nerves had been roused to join their mates in what would be for many their last meal and steaming mug of cocoa. Soon the time had arrived for the assembled men to embark in the tows that were to take them to the as yet silent beach.
By the twenty ninth of April the line at Anzac had been shaped like a shallow triangle covering some 400 acres, and had been divided into two Divisional Sectors. The Australian First division had been holding onto the flimsy front line in the southern portion, where the line had begun some two thousand yards north of Gaba Tepe near the centre of ‘Brighton Beach’, from where it had climbed up ‘Bolton’s Ridge’, crossed the western half of 400 Plateau to continue north along the so called ‘Second Ridge’ to ‘Courtney’s Post’, a short distance beyond ‘MacLaurin’s Hill, so named after the commander of 1ST Brigade, the thirty seven years old Colonel Henry MacLaurin, C.O. of First Brigade who had been killed by sniper fire two days earlier.
On that fateful Thursday, First Brigade had been holding the line at ‘Courtney’s Post’, a position which has already been illustrated, had been particularly vulnerable to snipers firing from the overlooking Turkish positions on ‘Dead Man’s Ridge’, from where it is said, with the sun behind them, Turkish snipers had hit an average of twenty men a day. Without any head protection [British and Commonwealth troops had not been issued with helmets until 1916] Howlett had been killed instantly by a single high velocity round which shattered his head like a melon. His fly shrouded body had probably lain in the bottom of the hastily dug scrape until darkness, when his mates had been able to carry his blanket covered remains down the hill along the main thoroughfare known as ‘Bridges Road’, linking the front line to Anzac Cove, until they reached a point near to the junction with ‘Shrapnel Gully’ where they had interred their comrade in a small cemetery known as ‘Isolated Graves’, locate about a mile east of the Cove.
Indicative of the confusion that had surrounded the Gallipoli campaign, Howlett’s relatives had initially been informed that Bert had been listed as ‘Missing in action’, the notification not reaching his next of kin, brother, Frank, until september1915. On the 5TH of October Frank had replied to the Australian military authorities;
I am in receipt of yours of Sept 25TH informing me about my brother. I am very sorry to think he has been missing for so long without any notification being sent to me before this. I know that your department must be very hard worked but I hope you will let me know at once if you should hear that he is a prisoner…. What I should like to know is what has become of all the letters and parcels that have been posted to him during the last six months. Is it possible to have them returned to me, and if possible before a postal official could re address them, and I could send them back to the original senders, as I know pretty well who were writing to him. Thanking you for a reply’
Having heard nothing further by mid January 1916 [by which time the Gallipoli Peninsular had been evacuated], Frank, determined to find what had happened to Bert, had again written to the Australian authorities on the 16TH of the month;
‘As I have not heard anything further about my brother, H.G. Howlett for some considerable time. I should like to know whether you think there is any chance of getting any further news regarding him’
The Officer in charge of base records in Australia had duly replied on the 25TH of January 1916;
‘In acknowledging receipt of you letter dated 16th inst., concerning your brother, Private H.G. Howllet, 1ST Battalion, I regret to state that no further news has since been received’
Shortly after this exchange the obviously irate Frank Howlett had received a telegram incorrectly stating his brother had been killed in action on the 21ST of April;
’As I have not received any official confirmation of the wire will you kindly send same. There must be some mistake about the date, as the landing did not take place until the 25TH from information I have received from one of the returned soldiers my brother was killed on April 27TH. I requested the return of the letters I had sent to him, two of which had contained photo’s, but so far I have received nothing’
News of Bert Howlett’s death had been received in Scarborough during March 1916. The tidings being included in the ‘Mercury’ of Friday the tenth;
‘Killed in action - Scarborough Colonial’s death’
‘News has been received of the death in action of Private H.G. [Bert] Howlett. A sister Mrs. J. Procter [Howlett’s eldest sister Florence, born at Hull 1865], 20, Grosvenor Crescent, whose husband is one of the partners of the well known drapery firm of that name in Westborough [Joseph Procter & Son, 108 Westborough].
The deceased parents, both of whom are dead, formerly resided at 19 Ramshill Road, Scarborough, proceeding then to New Zealand. Desceased was in business in Auckland, New Zealand, but when the war broke out he was on a visit to his eldest sister in Australia. He straightway joined and in due time proceeded to Gallipoli where he took part in the landing. He survived these fearful operations, but was subsequently announced as missing. Further enquiries elicited no more in formation until the last few days when an official notification has been received intimating that the gallant soldier was killed in action on April 29TH 1915.
He was very well known in Auckland, particularly among yachting men. For many seasons he sailed in the ‘Niobe’, and was widely esteemed. His many friends will hope to hear of him turning up safely. That hope has unfortunately been doomed to failure, and his death is another example of loyalty to the Motherland’
The to-ing and fro-ing of correspondence between New Zealand and Australia had continued throughout the remainder of the war. Incredibly, three years after the death of his brother, Frank had at last received Bert’s personal effects, which had amounted to little more than three handkerchiefs, one letter, one postcard, a money belt, and one photograph.
The final reminders from a ‘grateful nation’ of a lost brother, to be received by Frank had been three separate brown paper packages containing a ‘1914-15 Star’, ‘British War Medal’, and a ‘Victory Medal’ [collectively known as ‘Pip, Squeak, and Wilfred’].
During the 1920’s the remains of the men who had been buried in isolated positions on the Gallipoli Peninsular had been concentrated into much larger cemeteries. In 1921 Frank Howlett had received a letter from the Australian military authorities telling him that his brother’s remains had been re-interred in ‘Shrapnel Valley Cemetery’, at Anzac’, which is located some 400 yards to the south east of the by then silent and lonely cove. ‘Bert's’ final resting place is to be found in the Cemetery’s
Section 4, Row E, Grave 12, amongst the graves of over six hundred other Commonwealth servicemen [85 unidentified] who had lost their lives during the campaign.
A former member of the congregation of Scarborough’s South Cliff Methodist Church Herbert Howlett had been amongst fifteen men of the church who had lost their lives on active service during the Great War that are commemorated on a large brass plaque located in the side chapel of the church that also bears the names of another eighty men of the church that had served in, and survived the First World War.
To the north of ‘Courtney’s Post ‘ the Anzac perimeter had curved, like an archers bow round the head of ‘Monash Valley’ before falling down to ‘Walker’s Ridge’ and the sea beyond, about five hundred yards to the north of a headland known as ‘Ari Burnu’. This had been the so-called ‘Northern Sector’, which had been held by the men of the New Zealand and Australian Division [N.Z. & A.]. This Division, commanded by General Godley had consisted of two Brigades of infantry, the 4TH Australian, under Colonel John Monash, which had held the northern spine of ‘Second Ridge’ as far as ‘Quinn’s Post’, including a number of isolated outposts on ‘Pope’s Hill’. Holding the perimeter from the summit of ‘Russell’s Top’ to the end of ‘Walkers Ridge’ including a series of outposts, which had been established beyond to secure the coast from attack from the north, had been the New Zealand Infantry Brigade.
Landed at ‘Anzac’ during the late morning of the 25TH, the N.Z. &A. Division had been holding these positions since the first day of the landing, and by the beginning of May had been sorely depleted and on the verge of exhaustion having been subjected to a continuous fusillade of sniper and shell fire, in addition to having beaten off a number of ferocious Turkish infantry frontal attacks on their precarious positions. Despite the state of the Division, Birdwood had ordered Godley to take a formidable, and vital enemy position known as ‘Baby 700’, which, in addition to overlooking the whole of the Anzac perimeter, had been considered the key to the situation at Anzac. If it could be captured then the Turks would have been forced back to ‘Third Ridge’, thus giving the besieged Australians and New Zealanders some much needed breathing space, perhaps allowing them to go onto the offensive. This, his first independent operation, Godley had, nonetheless, been keen for the operation to take place and had begun to form a plan of attack.
Planned in haste, the ‘excessively ambitious and ill conceived project’ had begun at 7pm on Sunday the second of May with the bombardment of the Turkish positions on ‘Baby 700’ by eight battleships and cruisers of the Royal Navy, supported by field and mountain batteries on land, the bombardment, the heaviest to be seen thus far at Anzac, had ended fifteen minutes later when the Navy and Army gunners had ‘lifted’ to begin firing at their secondary targets, two ridges beyond ‘Baby 700’ known as ‘Battleship Hill’, and ‘Chunuk Bair’.
As soon as the bombardment had lifted there had been a huge cheer as the men from the 16TH [South & Western Australia] Battalion, closely followed by the 13TH [New South Wales] battalion had left their starting points at ‘Quinn’s Post’ to begin their advance on Baby 700, and at first the men had made some progress in spite of the heavy fusillade coming from the Turkish positions.
Within a matter of minutes the advance had begun to falter due to casualties and a lack of support from the New Zealand Brigade’s Otago Battalion which had been supposed to have attacked Baby 700 from the seaward side from ‘Pope’s Hill’, but had never made it to the start line in time due to being held up in Monash Gully. Due to the delay of the Otago’s the attack had lost the coordination, which had been so vital for the success of the operation, a loss that may have been the reason why the attack had failed so miserably.
Although the preliminary bombardment had looked impressive it had apparently done little damage because soon the attackers had been enveloped in a veritable storm of machine gun and rifle fire. A witness to the unfolding tragedy had later recorded in his diary;
’They all got up and grouped right round this hollow, and then they would not go on because there was such terrific firing pouring over; but they had to go eventually, and I stood and watched them falling back dead in hundreds, it was a terrible sight’
Nonetheless, despite suffering enormous casualties knots of courageous Australians had continued forward, their way ahead being spurred on by the sound of men singing ‘Tipperary’ and ‘Australia will be there’ as they had waited in the trenches for their turn to jump into the maelstrom.
Some men from the 13TH and 16TH had fought their way into an abandoned Turkish forward trench at the base of Baby 700, near to the labyrinth of trenches that would become known as ‘The Chessboard’, where they had poured rifle fire into the enemy’s trench line, until they had been annihilated to a man.
Over an hour after the start of the assault the Otago’s had finally reached the top of Monash Valley. Forewarned by the Australian advance, the Turks had begun to illuminate the killing ground with star shells, all the while their guns had wreaked a terrible harvest;
’The Turks were entrenched some 50 to 100 yards from the edge of the face of the gully and their machine guns swept the edges. Line after line of our men went up, some line didn’t take two paces over the crest when down they went to a man and on came another line’ Not one man, Australian or New Zealander, had made it to the Turkish front line’... 
By this time chaos had set in. The Australian and New Zealand Brigade commanders, Monash and Johnston had had no idea of the catastrophe on Baby 700. Indeed the overall commander, Brigadier General Godley, assuming the Otago’s to be in the vicinity of Baby 700 had ordered the New Zealand Canterbury Battalion to join in the attack. He had also sent his reserves, a battalion of Royal Marine Light Infantry, to support the already decimated Australian Battalions. Sporadic fighting had continued throughout the night. The dawn of Monday the third of May had revealed;
’A panorama of confusion: dead and wounded Australians and New Zealanders all about, men dribbling back, others trying to hold the trenches they had dug in the night, men looking for their officers, men looking for orders, British Marines unsure of what they were supposed to be doing’…
The last surviving bedraggled Australians and New Zealanders had returned to their starting lines during the night of the third, their dead comrades ‘lying like ants, shrivelled up or curled up, some still hugging their rifles’, littering the lower slope of Baby 700.
Casualties had indeed, been grievous. For no gain whatsoever over two thousand Australians and New Zealanders had been killed, wounded, or had been reported as missing. Monash’s 4TH Australian Brigade, usually with a complement of around four thousand officers and men could barely muster one thousand and seven hundred and seventy all ranks. Amongst the Brigade’s many missing had been a twenty-seven years old sergeant belonging to ‘C’ Company of the 13TH [New South Wales] Battalion;
1224 Sergeant Edmond Sleightholm. Born in Scarborough on the 25TH of November1888 at No. 6 Providence Place, North Street, Edmond had been the sixth of seven children of Elizabeth Weir, and Edward Elliot Sleightholm [Elizabeth W. Watson and Edward E. Sleightholm had married in Scarborough at St Mary’s Parish Church 23RD July 1874], a former merchant seaman who, by the beginning of the 1890’s had been employed in the town as a ‘Journeyman housepainter and decorator’.
A pupil of Mr. John Brown’s Boy’s Department of the ‘Central board School which until the 1970’s had stood on the corner of Scarborough’s Trafalgar Street West and Melrose Street] between the ages of four and thirteen, Edmond had left the Central at the end of the summer term of 1902 to become indentured to local ‘sanitary engineer, plumber, glazier, gas fitter’, and Scarborough Councillor David Maynard, as an apprentice plumber, operating from Maynard’s workshop at No’s 2 and 3 Oxford Street.
At the age of seventeen Sleightholm had enlisted during 1905 into the Territorial Force’s 1ST/5TH Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment, which had been based at their Drill Hall in Scarborough’s North Street, and had served with the battalion for the following five years, during which time he had been promoted to Lance Corporal.
A qualified plumber by 1910, Edmond had left the town for the last time during October bound for Liverpool, where he had embarked in the twelve thousand tons White Star Line steamship, S.S. Persic, which had transported him the eleven thousand five hundred and sixty miles to the reportedly ‘land of plenty’ in Australia.
Thirteen weeks later Sleightholm had landed at Sydney, New South Wales, where he eventually found work as a plumber, working in the city until the outbreak of war in August 1914. Not amongst the throngs of men who had enlisted in the ‘first rush’ to war during August, Sleightholm had instead opted to enlist into the 1ST A.I.F. during late September 1914 [by Christmas over 52,000 Australians had joined the colours].
Shortly after his enlistment Sleightolm had been amongst a large draft of recruits who had been marched to Sydney’s Kensington racecourse, where the men of the recently formed 13TH Battalion of Australian infantry had been ‘under canvas’ and going through the process were being ‘kitted out’, with everything from greatcoat to clasp knife. In addition the recruits had been carrying out a rudimentary training routine supervised by the battalion’s Commanding Officer, Colonel Granville John Burnage and a couple of aged N.C.O.’s. Like the majority of military units in those early days of the war the battalion had initially lacked sufficient trained non commissioned officers, thus British Army trained men like Sleightholm, had been a god send and many had rapidly been promoted to cover the deficit. Thus, almost before his war had begun the former Scarborough plumber had been promoted to corporal.
It had been during June 1915 that Mr and Mrs Sleightholm had been informed that their son had been reported as ‘Missing in action’, however, by mid July they had been informed that as no further news had been received regarding the fate of Edmond, it must be assumed that he had been killed in action on the 3RD of May. The news of Sergeant Sleightholm’s death had eventually been reported in the ‘Scarborough Mercury’ of Friday the 23RD of July 1915;
‘Scarborough Sergeant killed at the Dardanelles’
‘News has been received through the Military Records Branch, Commonwealth of Australia, that Sergt. E. Sleightholm, of the 13TH Battalion Australian Imperial Force, who had previously been reported missing, was killed in action at the Dardanelles on May 3RD.
Sergt Sleightholm is a Scarborough man, about 26 years of age, single, and his parents live at 14, Seaman’s Hospitals, Castle Road. He was a plumber by trade, and served his apprenticeship with the late Alderman Maynard. He was formerly in the 5TH Yorks at Scarborough, and went to Australia four years ago last October. After the war broke out he joined the Australian Expeditionary Force’
The remains of Sergeant Sleightholm and the other men who had fallen in the assault on ‘Baby 700’ had never been recovered from the battlefield. Following the allied evacuation from the Gallipoli peninsular [during late December 1915 and early January 1916] the Turks had left the battlefield much as the British, Anzacs, and French had left it, including the non-burial of thousands of their dead and rotting bodies littering the Peninsular.
At the end of the war the allies had returned to the Gallipoli Peninsular where each country had erected a memorial to their missing. The Anzac Memorial, commemorating nearly five thousand missing ‘colonials’ had been constructed in a battlefield burial ground known as ‘Lone Pine Cemetery’, which is located on a bitterly fought over ridge in the southern sector of Anzac known as ‘Kanli Sirt’ by the Turks, and ‘Bloody Ridge’ by the Australians. Named the ‘Lone Pine Memorial’, Sergeant Edmond Sleightholm’s name can be found on Panel six. Sleightholm’s name is also commemorated in Australia, on Panel seventy of the Australian War Memorial, situated on Parliament Hill, in Australia’s capitol city, Canberra.
Following the death of their son, Edward and Elizabeth Sleightholm had continued to live in Scarborough at the Merchant Seamen’s Dwellings, where on Friday August 5TH 1921; Scarborough born Elizabeth had passed away at the age of seventy four years. Elizabeth’s remains had subsequently been interred in Section L, Row 3, Grave 20, of the town’s Manor Road Cemetery on the 9TH of August, her last resting place being marked by a gravestone which also contains the name of second daughter Sarah Elizabeth [born 1879], the wife of John Owen Tymon, and formerly of ‘Johnsville’, Weydale Avenue, Scarborough, who had passed away at the age of eighty two years, on the 16TH of January 1962. Shortly after his wife’s death Scarborough born Edward Sleightholm had left his native town to live with daughter Isabel [born at Scarborough during 1876] at Darlington, where he had passed away on Wednesday the 10TH of June 1925 at the age of seventy seven years [although commemorated on the gravestone in Manor Road Cemetery, the remains of Edward Sleightholm had been interred at Darlington].
Three days after the slaughter of the ‘Bloody Sunday’ offensive, operations at Anzac had been suspended, the two strongest units, the New Zealand Brigade, and the Australian 1ST Division’s 2ND Brigade being sent south to the Helles sector, where they had taken part in the Allied offensive towards Achi Baba, yet another pinnacle which had been turned into fortress by the Turks. Another poorly planned affair, the advance by British and French forces, following a weak and ineffectual preliminary artillery bombardment, had begun at 11am on Thursday the 6TH of May.
Underestimating their foe, the Allies had anticipated the capture the formidable positions around Achi Baba by that same afternoon, the operation had begun badly and by noon had degenerated into the customary total chaos even though the attacking forces had not yet made contact with the main Turkish resistance. With little idea of what had lay in front of them, and with no idea of how many of the enemy had lain in wait, the Allies, relying on little more than good fortune, had blundered into the labyrinth of gullies and ridges that had so typified the Gallipoli Peninsular. By the end of the day’s operations the French, having begun some forty minutes late had gained some forty yards of enemy territory. The British had fared little better. On Gully Spur, around ‘Y Beach’ units of the 29TH Division had been stopped in their tracks by a hurricane of Turkish machine gun fire, whilst on ‘Fir Tree Spur’ they too had only captured about four hundred yards of ground. With the onset of darkness the dismal operation had been abandoned until the following day.
The following day’s operation had fared little better, and by dusk on the 7TH the British and French front lines had been in almost the same places as they had been the day before, the only saving grace had been that up till then casualties had been fairly light. Despite having failed twice, the allies had launched a third assault on the 8TH of May. On that occasion the New Zealand infantry Brigade had taken the place of the British 29TH Division in the attack at ‘Fir Tree Spur’.
At 8-55 on Saturday the eighth of May the C.O. of the New Zealand Brigade, Colonel Earl Johnston had received his written orders for the day. Soon afterwards he had summoned his four-battalion commanders to his headquarters, where he had issued his orders, they had been brief. The Brigade was to capture Krithia Village, and the attack was to be carried out along Krithia Spur with Malone’s Wellington Battalion on the left of the assault, the Aucklander’s in the centre, and the Canterbury’s on the right flank. The Otago’s so badly savaged by the assault on Baby 700 were to stay in reserve. Zero Hour to begin the attack had been set for 10-30am that day preceded by a fifteen-minute bombardment of the known Turkish positions. The briefing had ended at ten minutes past ten, leaving the battalion commanders with just twenty minutes to brief their men and get them into position.
Knowing virtually nothing of the task they were about to undertake and their men knowing absolutely nothing, the New Zealander officers had led their units into battle at the pre determined ‘Zero Hour’;
’The men went forward not knowing much more than somewhere up ahead, somewhere past the Turkish front lines, lay the windmills and granaries of Krithia They ran into a storm of shrapnel and machine gun fire, yet somehow made 400 yards. Machine guns from Gully Ravine tore into the side of the Wellingtons. Casualties piled up. The three battalions could not go forward and they could not go back. They began to crawl or scrape rifle pits. They couldn’t see the Turks but they could see them. Any New Zealander reaching for a water bottle or trying to use and entrenching tool attracted a hail of fire’… 
Despite the three Battalions pinned down and protests from Johnston, at 3pm the commander of the British 29TH Division, Hunter-Weston, had ordered that the assault be continued at 5-30pm and had also thrown the Otago Battalion into the inferno for good measure. Alone and in broad daylight the New Zealanders had once again stepped out and into senseless slaughter…’it had been a repeat of the morning’s shambles. All along the line, the word to advance was given, and ‘men rose, fell, ran, rushed on in waves, broke recoiled, crumbled away and disappeared’… 
During the 6TH and 7TH of May the Australian 2ND Brigade had been in reserve, suddenly and without any warning, at five minutes past five on the eighth orders had been received that they too were to take Krithia and the ridge beyond-- immediately. There had been no time to discuss the situation, as soon as the men had fumbled into their equipment the unit’s four battalions 5TH, 6TH, 7TH, and 8TH Victorian’s, had jogged their way some four to eight hundred yards to their proposed start line, a bank of red earth which had been called ‘Tommie Trench’. Upon arrival there, Colonel James M’Cay, the Brigade’s commander had jumped onto the parapet shouting ‘Now then, Australians which one of you men are Australians? Come on, Australians!’
The men had scrambled out of the trench onto the treeless plain filled with the whine of machine gun and rifle bullets mingled with the yellow, green, and white smoke of exploding artillery shells to follow their C.O. Perfect targets for the Turkish gunners, the Australians had been cut down like grass to the scythe. Despite huge losses some of the men had advanced five hundred yards but at this point the attack had stalled due to half the attacking force being either dead or wounded. Private Frank Brent of the 6TH Battalion had later written;
‘You could see your mates going down right and left… You were face to face with the stark realisation that this was the end of it. That was the thought that was with you the whole time. Despite the fact that you couldn’t see a Turk, he was pelting us with everything he’d got from all corners. The marvel to me was how the dickens he was able to do it after the barrage that had fallen on him…I copped my packet and as I lay down I said: Thank Christ for that’ 
As daylight had begun to envelope another catastrophic day at Gallipoli, Hamilton, the overall commanding officer of the campaign, had known that the operations to take Achi Baba had failed miserably and had sent orders to all sectors of the front to ‘push on until dark and secure a good line for the night’. As darkness had fallen the battlefield had been filled with the cries of the wounded laying out in ‘no man’s land’. Throughout the hours of darkness large parties of stretcher bearers had brought hundreds of wounded in from ‘No Man’s Land’ to the dressing station of 2ND Brigade Field Ambulance, which had been situated a mile back from the starting line.
Whilst there the wounded had been tended to by the overwhelmed and exhausted battalion medical officers as best as their limited equipment would allow, before being transported by stretcher bearers the two miles over rough terrain to the Australian Hospital located at ‘W’ Beach. By dawn the next day most of the wounded had been rescued, however, the coming of daylight had made work in the open impossible, and a number of men had obviously been left to die.
The new day had also shed light on the cost of the futile operation to the New Zealanders and Australians. The New Zealand Brigade had gone into action shortly after 10-30am numbering 2,676 officers and men; a little over sixty minutes later seven hundred and seventy one officers and men had become casualties. The 2ND Australian Brigade had fared even worse. For the same period the four battalions had suffered over one thousand [1,056] killed, wounded, and missing [in the 6TH Battalion, only one original officer, Major Bennett, had remained].
Amongst the throngs of wounded had been eighteen years old Private Charles Sydney Simpson, whom we had last seen enjoying himself amongst the Pyramids in Egypt.
By this time a veteran signaller belonging to Colonel Harold ‘Pompey’ Elliot’s 7TH Battalion, Charlie had been attached to Brigade Headquarters at the time of the assault and had gone forward trailing a telephone wire into the face of heavy fire with Colonel M’Cay, Staff Sergeant Monks, and two other signallers. After advancing four hundred yards Monks had been killed outright with a shot through the heart, whilst one of Simpson’s fellow signallers had been wounded. After pushing on a little further M’Cay had set up his headquarters in a scrape which had been dug by Simpson and the other signaller, a volunteer from 8TH Battalion.
Nevertheless, shortly after they had set up the telephone, Simpson had been wounded in the shoulder, whilst the volunteer from the 8TH had been mortally wounded in the chest. Dangerously exposed to enemy fire, this position had soon been abandoned and M’Cay had assisted his surviving signaller, Simpson, to the rear where his wound had merely been covered with a field dressing by an overwhelmed and overstretched Captain Gutteridge, the Medical Officer of the 7TH Battalion before being transferred to the hospital at ‘W’ Beach, from where he had been taken by boat, in all probability to one of the notorious ‘black ships’, a standard black hulled merchant vessel lacking the customary white hull and red cross amidships, which had been pressed into service as hospital ships at Gallipoli, that had lain offshore, where he had been winched up onto one of the ships crowded, and more often than not, filthy decks, where conditions had been little better than on the beach
Eventually off loaded at Alexandria the wounded Simpson had eventually been transported to the 1ST Australian General Hospital, which had been housed in a once popular casino named the ‘Palace Hotel’, at Helipolis, a ‘resort’ a few miles to the east of Cairo. A ‘fairyland’ in comparison to the hell of the Peninsular, Simpson’s stay in hospital had come to an end during the latter part of May 1915, when the youth had been deemed fit to return to military service.
Posted back to the Peninsular, Simpson may have expected to rejoin his battalion, which had returned to Anzac from Helles, to refit and train replacements in the hillsides of the lower half of Shrapnel Gully. However, a shortage of signalmen in the 13TH Battalion had meant that he had been temporarily seconded to the unit, which had been manning the most feared and dangerous part of the line at Anzac, ‘Quinn’s Post’.
Universally known as ‘Quinn’s’, the very word had struck terror into the hearts of the most stout hearted of Colonials, had been the axis of the Colonials defence line at Anzac, lose Quinn’s and the line would have shattered. The position had actually been abandoned twice on April the 26TH, but an Australian Colonel had been so impressed with by the importance of the position that he had ordered a small party of Australians and New Zealanders led by Captain Jacobs to conceal themselves in the scrub at the edge of the summit of the ridge and dig a small trench.
Three days later Captain H. Quinn had arrived with six officers and two hundred men to relieve Jacobs and gradually the shallow trenches had been deepened and extended. The Colonials had also begun to ‘sap’, or tunnel forward until a new front line had been dug. Eventually a tunnel had been dug, which had connected with the nearby ‘Courtney’s Post’. In this sector the Turks had to advance only ten yards to split the Anzac position in half, and at one point, on the extreme left of ‘Quinn’s’, an earth ‘palisade’ around two feet thick had been the only barrier separating Turk from Anzac.
Under constant Turkish observation from three sides, to lift one’s head above the parapet at Quinn’s had almost always meant death or serious injury from a sniper’s bullet, and with trenches constantly packed with men night and day in order to guard against sudden attack the post had soon acquired its fearsome reputation. Bean describes ‘Men passing the fork of Monash Valley, and seeing and hearing the bombs bursting up at Quinn’s, used to glance at the place as a man looks at a haunted house’
Simpson had arrived at the post during the evening of the 22ND of May, a day which had seen the Turks and Australians observe a nine hours armistice to bury the thousands of rotting corpses which had littered the line at Anzac following a concentrated, and futile, Turkish attack on the whole Anzac line, running from ‘Russell’s Top’ to ‘Bolton’s Ridge’, which had taken place during the early hours of the 19TH of May, the assault being repulsed at great loss to the Turks.
At Quinn’s when hundreds of Turkish troops had poured from their positions accompanied by a military band playing martial music, with yells of ‘Allah’! the entire post’s garrison had risen almost as one man with a perfect example of disciplined fire and obliterated the attack at almost point blank range, some of the Colonials going so far as to jump on the trench parapet to get a better aim. Assisted by machine gun fire from Courtney’s, and Pope’s Post’s the massacre had continued until midday on the twentieth, by which time the Turks had suffered an estimated 10,000 casualties, three thousand of which had lay dead, dying, or grievously wounded in ‘No Man’s Land’.
By afternoon the overpowering stench from the thousands of slowly roasting and decaying bodies had permeated into Quinn’s making life there almost unbearable. That evening negotiations between the Turks and Australians had been opened regarding a possible armistice to bury the dead and attend to the wounded, many of whom had still lay screaming in No Man’s Land. The armistice had eventually begun at 7-30am on an unusually wet 22ND of May. At the appointed hour Turkish and Colonial troops had gingerly left their respective positions to go out into ‘No Man’s Land’. An officer [Captain Aubrey Herbert] had later recorded;
‘We mounted over a plateau and down through gullies filled with thyme, where there lay about 4,000 Turkish dead. It was indescribable. One was grateful for the rain and the grey sky. A Turkish Red Crescent man came and gave me some antiseptic wool with scent on it…The Turkish Captain with me said…’At this spectacle even the most gentle must feel savage, and the most savage must weep’…One saw the results of machine gun fire clearly, entire companies annihilated—not wounded, but killed, their heads doubled up under them with the impetus of their rush and both hands clasping bayonets’
A little after four that afternoon the dreadful task of burying the dead had come to an end. The truce had also ended at that time and both sides had gone back to the business of killing each other.
Over the following few days an unusual quiet had descended over Quinn’s Post, even the Turkish snipers had relaxed their hold over the post. However, as the days had gone by these activities had been replaced with strange undergro