Andrew Riddell 1887-1915

Private Andrew Riddell
My great-grandfather died at Gallipoli in July 1915, he was 28.  This is what I know about him.

In the summer of 1914 Andrew Riddell was working as a wool powerloom turner in the Scottish border town of Hawick.  He’d got married in February 1910, and by 1914 had three small children.  He was also a member of the local Territorial Army, part of the 4th Battalion of the Kings Own Scottish Borderers (KOSBs).

In August 1914, Andrew and his fellow Territorials had headed off for their annual summer camp.  The declaration of war on 4th August 1914 meant a sudden change to plans.  The 4th Battalion of the KOSBs were mobilized and moved to Cambusbarron near Stirling where they spent the next eight months.

In May 1915 they became the 155th Brigade of the 52nd (Lowland) Division and sailed from Liverpool, arriving to join the campaign in Gallipoli in early June 1915.  The initial landings at Gallipoli in April 1915 had marked the start of the Dardanelles Campaign, but six weeks later in June the Allied forces had made very little headway up the Helles Peninsula.

Once the 52nd Division were ashore they were involved in several exchanges including the Battles of Gully Ravine (28 June – 5 July) and Achi Baba Nullah (12th July).  A number of the contemporary reports talk about the second of these being successful but resulting in substantial casualties. My great-grandfather was one of the casualties.  In total some 14,000 men were killed or wounded in this exchange – 4000 from the Allied ranks and 10,000 on the Turkish side – as the Allies temporarily advanced about 350 yards.

The Silent Graves of Gallipoli
While there was certainly very good reasons for deploying Territorial groups together, the downside was that when there was large numbers of casualties it would have a major impact on individual towns or communities.  In the battle on 12th July there were almost 100 Hawick men killed on the same day – and most of these disappeared without trace. My great-grandfather was wounded and died shortly after the battle, on Tuesday 13th July 1915.  He was one of the few from Hawick who was buried in a marked grave.

In Hawick a memorial service has been held every July since then to mark the loss of so many local men in one day.  In 1965 a small group of survivors travelled back to the Helles Peninsula to commemorate their fallen comrades, in 2015 a group from Hawick will again travel to the site of the battle to commemorate the occasion.

Memorial Stone in the Lancashire Landing Cemetery
I've not yet had the chance to visit the Helles Peninsula, but will one day.

(Thank you to Derek Robertson  @hawickremembering for the images I've included here)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It has been my privilege to leave a commemoration to you great-grandfather on today's Every Man Remembered site, the 100th anniversary of the day of his death. Thank you for his story.