A stirring remembrance service in church this morning, led by Mike Widdup. We remembered those known and unknown to us to whom we owe so much. To remember a Woking man I read my poem, The Lonely VC
One hundred years ago, on 25 April, The Battle of Gallipoli commenced. The Lancashire Fusiliers landed on beach ‘W’ to fierce resistance by the 19th Division of the Turkish 47th Infantry.
Of a thousand Lancs Fusiliers, only a third survived, cut down by well organised machine guns on the top of the cliff that rises from the beach.
Of the Turkish 19th Div. every man was killed or injured. When their ammunition ran out they defended with bayonets. Commanding officer, Mustafa Kemel (later Ataturk) told his men, “I am not ordering you to fight; I am ordering you to die.”
6 VCs were awarded to the men of the Lancashire Fusiliers – reported as “6 VCs before breakfast” in the press. The recipients of the VCs were selected by their comrades. Two were to Woking men: Captain (later Major) Willis who was born in Woking and Sergeant Richards who came to the Princess Christian Home in Knaphill to convalesce after losing a leg. Sergeant. Richards was dubbed the “Lonely VC” because he had no family and no visitors. He married his nurse, Dora Coomes.
25 April is ANZAC Day in the antipodes – their men were also landing and dying on the Gallipoli peninsula that day. But that’s another story; someone else’s glory.