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The Day the Norfolks Disappeared.

 
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Nov 2005 10:23    Onderwerp: The Day the Norfolks Disappeared. Reageer met quote

The incident allegedly took place in August I9I5 during the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign. According to a statement made by three of the original witnesses, 22 members of a New Zealand field company saw a large number of British soldiers, later identified as the 'First-Fourth Norfolk Regiment', march into a strange loaf-of-bread shaped cloud that was straddling a dry creek bed. After the last man had entered, the cloud lifted and moved off against the wind. Not one of the soldiers was ever seen again.

The New Zealanders' story contained some obvious errors; the First-Fourth Norfolk was not a regiment, for example, but a battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment. None of the errors has ever been corrected in any of the books that feature the story, which suggests that it has never been substantiated, the authors having simply copied the myth from one another.

This opinion is supported by one further and very important fact: the First-Fourth Norfolk did not disappear from Gallipoli in August I9I5 or at any time or place thereafter. There is ample evidence to show that they were in active service until the end of the year, when they were withdrawn from Gallipoli and sent to another theatre of war.
This fact would be sufficient to dispose of the New Zealanders' story of cosmic abduction as a figment of someone's imagination, but, perhaps coincidentally, it is a matter of undisputed historical fact that another battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, the First-Fifth, did disappear at Gallipoli in August I9I5, their fate never having been satisfactorily ascertained. Therefore, if the New Zealanders saw any Norfolks abducted, those Norfolks could only have been the First-Fifth. So is it possible that, bizarre though their story most certainly is, 22 members of a New Zealand field company did witness the fate of the First-Fifth Norfolk? If not, where did their story come from, and what was the First-Fifth's fate?

The twisting trail in search of some answers begins in Dereham, a small market town not far from Norwich, England. It was here, as part of the predominantly East Anglican I63rd Brigade, that the FirstFourth and First-Fifth Norfolks prepared to go to war.
They were Territorials - called 'Saturday night soldiers' by men of the regular army but they belonged to a regiment with a long and distinguished history going back to I685, when it was raised by King James II at the time of Monmouth's Rebellion. At that time it was called Colonel Henry Cornwall's 9th Regiment of Foot.
The Norfolks embarked for Gallipoli on 29 July I9I5. The Gallipoli campaign was fought for control of the Dardanelles - the ancient Hellespont - a long, narrow channel extending some 40 miles (65 kilometres) along the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey and connecting the Mediterranean with the Black Sea, for which reason it had acquired strategic improtance following the alliance between Turkey and Germany.
The Gallipoli Peninsula is exquisitely beautiful in spring and early summer, but from May onwards it bakes under a relentless sun and by August it is one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. It was on IO August, at the height of the terrible summer, that the Norfolks landed at Suvla Bay and surveyed what had already become the graveyard for so many men.

Not far from the beach was a large salt lake. Dry in summer, it reflected the harsh glare of the sun. Beyond lay the battlefield, Suvla Plain, and in the distance a semicircle of bleak hills stretched from north to south, giving the plain the appearance of a giant arena. The northernmost was Kiretch Tepe, in the middle were the twin heights of Kayak Tepe and Tekke Tepe, and to thc south was Sari Bair.

The Gallipoli campaign has gone down as one of the worst theatres of war in recent military history and to those Norfolks who had deluded themselves that they were off on a great adventure, the sights that met their eyes must have seemed like a nightmare vision of hell.
Conditions were appalling. The trenches were like ovens; a hot wind, pungent with the stench of death, stirred a fine dust across the plain; the food, the trenches, the latrines and the corpses were infested with a vile, bloated green fly - called the 'corpse fly' by the men because it feasted on the bodies of the dead and wounded - that spread a particularly virulent form of dysentery from which no soldier escaped and that reduced many to walking skeletons.
The troops, riddled with disease, were exhausted; corpses lay about in great numbers and it was by no means unusual to see the face or hands of a hastily buried comrade protruding from the ground; morale was low and a miasma of defeat hung heavy in the air.
The Norfolks had no experience of combat and in normal circumstances they would have been given time to acclimatise in a quiet sector, but Sir Ian Hamilton, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, believed that the only 1 chance of wresting victory from the jaws of dreadful defeat lay in the use of his fresh forces in a major offensive. Into the jaws of death.

Hamilton envisaged a bold, sweeping attack on Tekke and Kavak Tepe and it was arranged that under cover of darkness on the night of I2 August the 54th Division (of which the Norfolks' brigade was a part) should advance to the foothills and prepare to attack at dawn the next day. However, it was believed that a cultivated area Called Kuchuk Anafarta Ova, over which the night advance would take place, was held by enemy snipers and it was accordingly decided that the Norfolks' I63rd Brigade should move forward and clear the area during the afternoon of I2 August.
The advance that afternoon was a complete and utter fiasco, a prime example of the muddle and incompetence that marked the whole Gallipoli campaign. It was to begin at 4 p.m. with artillery support, But there was a delay of 45 minutes; however faulty communications prevented the artillery from being informed and they opened fire as scheduled. Thereby wasting their support. The area was totally unreconnoitred, commanding officers were unfamiliar with the terrain and uncertain about their objective, most of the maps hurriedly issued at the last moment only depicted another part of the pennisula.

The 163rd brigade, with the First-Fourth Norfolk bringing up the rear, had advanced no more than about 2OOO yards (9OO metres) when it became obvious that a mistake had been made in trying to cross the open plain in daylight. The strength of the enemy was greater than had been supposed and the main body of the brigade encountered heavy machine-gun fire and were forced to ground. However, on the right flank the First-Fifth Norfolk encountered less stiff opposition and pressed forward.

Sir Ian Hamilton described the following events in a dispatch to Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War:
In thc course of the fight, creditable in all respects to the 163rd brigade, there happened a very mysterious thing . . . Against the yielding forces of the enemy Colonel Sir H. Beauchamp, a bold, self-confident officer, eagerly pressed forward, follovved bv the best part of the battalion. The fighting grew hotter, and the ground became more wooded and broken. At this stage many men were wounded or grew exhausted with thirst. These found their way back to camp during the night. But the Colonel, with I6 officers and 250 men, still kept pushing forward, driving the enemy before him.... Nothing morc was seen or heard of any of them. They charged into the forest and were lost to sight or sound. Not one of them ever came back.

Two hundred and sixty-seven men had vanished without trace!
The failure of the advance that afternoon delivered a crushing blow to Sir Ian Hamilton's hope of turning the tide of the campaign and the evacuation of Allied forces at the end of 19I5 was a major defeat. The Gallipoli campaign had lasted eight and a half months and cost the lives of about 46,ooo soldiers, a horrific number by any previous standards of modern warfare. In I9I6 the Government appointed a Royal Commission to investigate the causes of the defeat. A heavily censored report, Thefinal report of the Dardanelles commission, was released in I9I7 and another in I9I9. It was not until I965 that a declassified edition was made available - a significant date as we shall see. The fate of the First-Fifth Norfolk remained a mystery for four years when there was a further development in the story.
At the end of I9I8 the British returned to Gallipoli as the ultimate victors. A soldier of the Occupation Forces was touring the battlefield when he found a cap badge of the Royal Norfolk Regiment, and on making enquiries he learned that a Turkish farmer had removed a large number of bodies from his property and dumped them in a nearby ravine. On 23 September I919, following the unpleasant task of recovering the bodies, an officer commanding a Graves Registration Unit triumphantly announced:
We have found the Fifth Norfolk there were 180 in all: I22 Norfolk and a few Hants and Suffolks with 2/4th Cheshires. We could only identify two - Privates Barnaby and Carter. They were scattered over an area of about one square mile [3 square kilometres], at a distance of at least 800 yards [750 metros] behind the Turkish front line. Many of them had evidently been killed in a farm, as a local Turk, who owns the land, told us that when he came back he found the farm covered with the decomposing bodies of British soldiers which he threw into a small ravine. The whole thing quite bears out the original theory that they did not go very far on, but got mopped up one by one, all except the ones who got into the farmhouse .

'We have found the Fifth Norfolk. ..' Although generally considered the last word on the fate of the First-Fifth Norfolk, it is evident that this statement was somewhat premature. Only I22 Norfolks were found, which leaves more than half the men who vanished unaccounted for. Their fate remains a mystery - unless, of course, the New Zealanders' story of the strange cloud is true.
The Norfolks fate is still a mystery and in all probability will remain one, but it is up to you to decide how mysterious their disappearance is.
Of the 34,000 British and ANZACS who died at Galliopli, 27,000 have no known grave. In the light of such widespread carnage, how many more 'strange disappearances' do those bald statistics hide.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Nov 2005 14:12    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Is daar geen TV film over geweest? All the kings men of zoiets...?
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Nov 2005 14:00    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

All the Kings men idd.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Nov 2005 18:02    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

film was made in Britain, in 1999. The name of the film is "All the King's Men." The scenery is based on an alleged story about a British regiment, which attacked the Turks on 12 August 1915, in Suvla region of the Gallipoli Peninsula. The plot runs as follow:

During the Gallipoli campaign, Sandringham Company which served as part of the 54th Division, 163rd Brigade 1/5 Norfolk Regiment attacks the Turks on 12 August 1915, in the Suvla Region of the Gallipoli Peninsula. In the combat, the Turks defeat them and take them captives. The tension of the story rises when the Turks shot all the captives from their heads and burn all the wounded soldiers in a farmhouse to "end their pains." This story is not known in Turkey, but in Britain, it has been emphasised especially in the recent years.

The British authorities claim that Turkey could not have given a sufficient reply when Britain had asked the consequence of 1/5 Norfolk Battalion, in the end of the First World War. They think that the reason was the event revealed above. However, the reality was totally different. In the battle fought in Suvla region, on 12 August 1915, the British 163rd Brigade gave serious casualties because of the Turkish artillery and the snipers.

The commander of 54th Division was General Inglefield, the commander of 1/5 Norfolk Regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Sir Horace Beauchamp and the commander of Sandringham Company was Captain Beck. The Turkish force, which fought against the British, was 36th Division under command of Major Munib Bey. In War Chronicle, Munib Bey states that on the concerned day, the British attack had been backfired and 35 British soldiers were taken captives. The captives gave evidence, which remain in the records.

One of them was Private A. G. Brown (1/5 Norfolk Regt. 54 Div. 163 Brigade East Anglian Division) and his evidence, which he gave to the Turkish commanders as follow:

"On 10 August 1915, I went ashore surroundings of the Salt Lake. In the attack made to a hill, which I do not know its name, I was taken captive, on 12 August. Our commander was Inglefield. I only stayed in Suvla for two days and I do not know anything." These are the words of a captive and there are other evidences similar to this one. However, the British insist that the Turks killed all the captives but they did not prove their alleged plot.

It is clear that the Turkish forces stopped the Allies' on 12 August 1915. In that defence, the Turkish snipers were involved and the British Militaries agree that it is normal to die by the shots of the snipers in a close combat. It was inevitable for the Turks to defend their country against the Ally occupation.

Ataturk's words explain the situation of the Turks in the Gallipoli battles; "Unless it is indispensable, war is a slaughter." The Turkish Army defended the peninsula against the Allies and the result is heartrending.

The servants of King George V formed Sandringham Company of the Norfolk Regiment and most probably, this is the reason of such a story. In addition, Aspinal Oglander states that the company was not ready for such an important mission but General Ingfield assigned them to capture a region, which was strongly defended by the Turks. Unfortunately, those untrained soldiers came cross with Turkish snipers. May be this fictitious story was created to cover this fatal mistake.

There were always rumours about the torments, which the Turks made to their captives. It is known that the Ally commanders to make their soldiers fight more vividly, said, "if the Turks catch you, they will eat you." The Turks never ill-treated their captives. Especially during the Gallipoli Battles, both armies had fought fairly. If the archives researched it is possible to find the records about the medical services offered to the sick or wounded captives. For example, even to cure the teeth problems of the captives, dentists were designated. Did the British, French, or the Russians do same treatment to their captives? The Turkish captives of the Allies tell the opposite. Further researches on this subject would reveal the facts and reply all the accusations.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Nov 2005 18:05    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

Author 2001
Page 1 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
Suvla: The attack of the 163rd Brigade, 12th August 1915
Philip Dutton (IWM)
am now very much aware that the subject of the so-called ‘vanishing Norfolks' has turned
into something of a minor industry - attracting the attention not only of military historians,
but also mystics, ufo-ologists, meteorologists, an odd Ipswich Town supporter and not a
few extra-terrestrials. A great deal has been written of the so-called 'inexplicable
disappearance’ of almost an entire company of the 1/5 Norfolks in the late afternoon of 12th
Aug - much guff and nonsense but also a number of serious efforts to put the record straight1.
I suppose a sort of recent high point of 1/5 Norfolkmania was reached with the production of
the made for TV film, 'All the King's Men'' which was screened on UK TV on the evening of
Remembrance Sunday last year (1999). The film was beautifully packaged and no expense
spared in costumes, uniforms and camerawork. David Jason, admittedly no Mel Gibson, had
a brave stab at the role of the Captain F R Beck of the ‘C’ (The King's) Company prior to his
disappearance through the burning scrub and termination with extreme prejudice, in
circumstances of near atrocity, at the end of the film. And this is the point. The film was, to
distort an epigram, magnificent (as a spectacle) but it was not (the) war. And even though it
didn’t feature ‘Mel’ it was still, from the historical perspective near 100% tripe. (For a
comprehensive indictment of the factual inaccuracies contained therein I commend Derek
Rayner's article quoted in References). Nonetheless a great many people who watched the
programme went to work the following morning feeling that they knew what had happened to
the Norfolks and, additionally, were no doubt reassured that this unit, like all First World War
British infantry regiment’s of the line had its own aspiring homo-sexual war poet. The film is
now available as a video, the cover of which proclaims it as 'the tragic true-life story of the
Sandringham Company in the First World War'. And so the myth is perpetuated - it is such a
great and compelling ‘story’
But what actually happened on 12th August?
The 1/5 Norfolks did in fact form part of a much larger organisation and their disappearance
was very much linked with an ill-conceived and very bodged local attack - whose
characteristics plant it firmly in the category ‘cocked-up Brigade offensives 1915-style.’
1 Notably Derek Rayner’s excellent and authoritative summary, ‘The Sandringhams at Suvla
Bay’, in ‘Stand To!’ (No 58, April 2000) and Hal Gilbin’s article, ‘Exploding a Myth? – The
Vanished Battalion’, in the Journal of the Orders and Medals Research Society in 1981].
I

© Author 2001
Page 2 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
The background to the operation
To begin with there were far more participants in the real drama than merely the 1/5 Norfolks.
The failure by IX Corps to move off the Suvla Plain after the landings and secure the
surrounding hills still greatly rankled with Hamilton, whose exasperation with Stopford was, by
12 August, compounded by the pressure he was receiving from Kitchener for a 'gingering up'
of the operations there. The 54th (East Anglian) Division, which landed at Suvla in the
afternoon of 10th August, represented to the Commander-in-Chief an instrument for a forlorn
hope of salvaging something from the chaos and lethargy that had characterised Corps staff
work since the landing on the 6/7th August.
Thus it was on the morning of the 11th August, that Hamilton, ever hopeful, issued an order to
IX Corps stating that the 54th Division ‘was to seize the Tekke Teppe ridge’ at dawn the
following day before the Turks had fully fortified their positions. Receiving no acknowledgment
of this order a near totally exasperated Hamilton personally visited Corps IX HQ to make
absolutely clear that the advance on Tekke Tepe must be made - though by the time Hamilton
and Stopford met it was so late in the day that new arrangements were made to attack the
crest at dawn on the 13th. Reluctantly, though quite reasonably making much reference to the
difficulty posed by the ground and the activity of Turkish snipers in the Anafarta plain,
Stopford complied.
The next morning, 12th August, at the IX Corps Conference preparatory to the Divisional
attack Stopford again voiced his concerns about the terrain and the threats posed by Turkish
snipers. Responding to his Corps’ commanders anxieties Maj Gen Inglefield CIC 54th
Division offered his 163rd Brigade as a force to be used to clear the countryside to the foot of
the hills and ensure a safe passage for the main attack, still planned for the 13th. This offer
was accepted and, as stated in the Official History:
‘..it was then arranged that Brig Gen C M Brunker’s 163rd Brigade should
advance to a line on the eastern side of some shepherd’s huts marked on the
map about 2,000 yards east of Point 28.’
This line, when it was reached, was to be consolidated by a Brigade of the 53rd Div, and, after
nightfall the whole of the 54th Div was to pass through and assault the crest of the ridge at
dawn. Stopford forwarded a copy of this plan to GHQ

© Author 2001
Page 3 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
What actually happened?
Aspinall-Oglander’s description of the advance of the 163rd Brigade (pp 317-318 of the Official
History ‘Gallipoli) is a masterly summary - and was the product of much direct contact with the
actual participants. Rather than paraphrase this inimitable summary my intention is by:
! Using original sources, to try and portray the events of the day from different angles
! Attempt to offer some insights on the action
The Brigade perspective - based on War Diary of 163rd Brigade (PRO WO)
On the morning of 12th August three infantry battalions of the 163rd Brigade (1/5 Norfolks, 1/5
Suffolks and 1/8 Hants) were occupying trenches, running south from the right of the 10th
Division, (‘at 117 D y to Point 28’). They had occupied these positions since the early morning
of 11th August, and had experienced artillery fire and a certain amount of sniping; they were
also suffering from a shortage want of water and great difficulty was had been experienced in
getting water to them. At 1.15pm, orders were received at Brigade HQ, which was still
situated at the Beach, ‘to advance and clear the area up to 118 Squares I N S of snipers’.
Brigade were informed that the advance was to commence at 4pm and instructions were
telephoned to Col Sir Horace Beauchamp Bart C.B. (CO 1/5 Norfolks - who was also in local
command of the Brigade in the trenches) to order the Brigade to be ready at 4pm.
By 3.25pm Brigade HQ had moved from the Beach and established itself on the forward line
of trenches near the HQ of the 1/5 Suffolks. Here Staff Officers were dismayed to hear that
the order to be ready to advance at 4 had not been received by the Suffolks or the 1/8
Hants. Not withstanding this breakdown in communication, the planned naval bombardment
commenced precisely at 4pm. The Brigade attack, as stated in the War diary commenced at
4.40pm, units advanced in a line running approximately North and South in the following
order:
N 1/5 Suffolks - with the 1/4
Norfolks in support in rear of
Suffolks
1/8 Hants 1/5 Norfolks S

© Author 2001
Page 4 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
From the meagre entries in the War Diaries of the participating units it is possible to
build up a picture of the action: a ‘snapshot’ a typical local attack 1915-style. (extracted
from the War Diary of the 163rd Infantry Brigade (PRO reference WO95/4325)
The attack is delayed but the bombardment, predominantly naval, is right on time – though
largely ineffectual as HE rather than shrapnel is employed, and the targets have not been
clearly specified, though the noise would certainly have been comforting for the waiting British
troops. The advance starts circa 4.45/4.50 and almost immediately the 1/5 Norfolks’ make a
half-turn to the right resulting in a separation of forces and confusion (and ultimately
damaging intermingling of units). After a about 1000 yards advance across the plain (difficult,
thorny scrub, ditches and dry watercourse) the Brigade is subjected to devastating enfilade
fire (machine guns and small arms from the left, from the direction of Kidney Hill, and shelling,
shrapnel from the right, from the direction of the W Hills; but the firing is les ferocious from the
front allowing the advance to progress, although many men fall to sniper fire from well
concealed Turkish marksmen (and women?) hidden in the scrub and low well-leafed trees
(stunted oaks). Some elements of The 1/5 Norfolks on the right outpace the 1/8 Hants in the
centre and the 1/5 Suffolks on the left. The confusion is increased by the scrub being set
alight by shell fire and the chaotic advance continues unsupported through thick smoke;
component forces getting split up, disorientated and attacked by defending Turks; resulting in
many casualties killed and wounded. The men, weak through lack of sleep and water become
exhausted and the attack slows; some (notably a number of the Norfolks) press on and,
getting beyond the Turkish line are dealt with by the defending forces. The attack halts and a
rallying position is established in the sunken track near the Anafarta wells
Anafarta Plain looking towards Tekke Teppe

© Author 2001
Page 5 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
The personal perspectives
The consequences of the clearly inadequate preparations and confused advance, especially
in connection with the fate of the 1/5 Norfolks are revealed by two personal accounts of the
action - held by the IWM.
The infantry officer’s perspective - 2nd Lt A R (Roland) Pelly, 1/5 Norfolks (IWM Dept of
Documents, Ref 91/15/1)
For 2/Lt A R Pelly, the 12th August 1915 was a day of grotesque contrasts. In the morning,
although in the advanced line, he had lain about in the shade and had a slack and lovely time,
but:
‘Suddenly at 4 without any idea what was coming we were ordered
out and had a most ghastly fight. For some reason the Division did
not back us up and we got Hell. Awful time. I got too far in front and
at least one of the snipers got me - in the mouth. Terrible walk and
then on a stretcher in floods of blood’.
So runs his personal diary entry for that day. In a later letter to his Dad he desperately tried to
make sense of the afternoon of 12th August:
‘What a lot has happened since I wrote ... The same night we had
the most awful smack. We were suddenly ordered out at 4pm and
down we went into the Turks. For some reason or mistake no
regiment, of which there were loads, backed us up to shove us
through. We were opposed by a wall of bullets and were knocked
over right and left. I got too far ahead, lost my way and trying to find
it again, was bagged by a Turkish sniper - which swarm - at very
close range. The bullet broke my left lower jaw, tore my tongue in
shreds and then out through my right cheek. Then after an awful
wandering the RAMC got me; by 11pm they had carried me right
back to expert care...One or two wounded followed - Purdy,
Oliphant, Seymour and told me we had been most frightfully cut
up and almost wiped out...That was an awful night - absolute
HELL - and surely if there had been someone behind we should
have gone right through.’
Interestingly 2/Lt Pelly’s account makes no mention of the order to make a half turn to the
right, immediately after the advance had begun, which effectively distanced the Norfolks from
the two other attacking battalions. A manoeuvre well documented by the unit history (Lyle
Petrie) and the recent article by Derek Rayner who makes great play on this detail as
explaining the Norfolks’ ultimate, break up of cohesion, fatal separations and high casualties.
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BerichtGeplaatst: 30 Nov 2005 18:05    Onderwerp: Reageer met quote

© Author 2001
Page 6 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
The infantryman’s perspective: interview with Tom Williamson ‘F’ Coy, 1/5 Norfolks (IWM
Sound Archive ref 9317/6))
The experience of the ordinary infantryman in the action is graphically conveyed by the
account of Sgt Tom Williamson held in the IWM’s Sound Archive in which he describes his
unit’s advance in ‘short consecutive rushes’ and comments on the foolhardiness of attacking,
with fixed bayonets - as their consequent sun-glinted progress clearly invited long-range
attention. His admiration for his Commanding Officers’ coolness in the action was unbounded
as he records they (Col Beauchamp and Capt E R Cubitt) were smoking as they advanced in
the midst of heavy fire and shelling. Clearly re-called too are the scrub fires caused by the
shelling and the confusion in which he believed that Norfolks advanced beyond their
objective, and got behind the enemy lines. Having been wounded in the arm, he decided to
double back - en route he might have seen Lt Pelly as he states:
‘I saw and passed many who had fallen. Some were wandering
aimlessly. One officer was faltering strangely and I noticed with
horror that his bottom jaw had been completely shot away. I could
name this officer - a young Lt’.
It was in his account of his journey back that he describes the last stand of some Norfolks
‘sheltering in a barn in a scrub like area’ and recognised a Sgt from ‘C’ Coy (The King’s) trying
to rally men round him. A description seized upon by the film-makers and fantastically reworked.
Consequences
The advance of the 163rd Brigade failed for all the old familiar reasons: inadequate
preparation: complete absence of reconnaissance; failure to identify objectives, ineffective
artillery bombardment, lack of experience of troops; inefficiency – indeed possible
incompetence of leaders; and, very importantly, the resolute resistance of the Turkish
defenders.
As a result of the failure of the Brigade’s attack that the major offensive towards Tekke Teppe
attack by the 54th Division, planned for the dawn of 13th August, was cancelled
Some thoughts on the ‘disappearing Norfolks’ – controversy, mystery –
and myth
In actual fact, ‘E’ Coy, The Sandringham Company, - formed in 1908, effectively and quite
officially disappeared on 8 January 1915 when the 5th Norfolks was converted from an eight
to a four company battalion. ‘E’ Coy was merged into the larger ‘C’ Company (The King’s) but
still commanded by Capt F R Beck, King George V’s Sandringham Estate Land Agent.

© Author 2001
Page 7 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
More difficult to explain is why the 12th August attack is always regarded as the affair of the
1/5 Norfolks, the 1/8 Hampshires and 1/5 Suffolks are rarely mentioned - even though the
both these units incurred considerable casualties.
The emphasis on the Norfolks - Important factors to be taken into account in this
connection:
a) Hamilton’s ill-considered use of the adjective ‘mysterious’ in his account of the 12th August
in his final despatch of 11 Dec 1915, is often cited as the source and root of the controversy.
He wrote:
‘...In the course of the fight, creditable in all respects to the 163rd
Brigade, there happened a very mysterious thing’ and he goes
on to describe Beauchamp as ‘a bold self confident officer’ (it is not
certain if he had ever met him) and the disappearance of ‘part of a
fine company enlisted in the King’s Sandringham estates. Nothing
more was ever seen or heard of any of them. They charged into the
forest and were lost to sight and sound. Not one of them ever came
back’.
This intriguing reference may have been given extra force in the description later supplied by
the usually sober Official History which clearly echoed Hamilton’s slant and stated that ‘a
portion’ of the 1/5 Norfolk - consisting of 15 officers and 250 men’ continued to press forward
unsupported and ‘was never seen again’. Such a statement clearly invited speculation.
b) Though hardly explaining anything about the failure of the advance Hamilton’s reference to
the Norfolks was clear evidence of a genuine concern for his men but it may also have
reflected his appreciation of King George V’s deep distress at the loss of a number of his
Sandringham Estate workers. Indeed the King and Queen’s desire to discover the specific
fates of their lost servants (and in the case of Captain Frank Beck, a personal friend) was of
crucial importance in keeping interest in the fate of the Norfolks’ alive. This deep concern to
‘know’ was paralleled by thousands of other ‘next of kin’ (most notably Rudyard Kipling in
connection with his son John, lost at Loos) in their unstinting efforts and enquiries over long
periods of time, to discover what precisely had happened to their missing loved ones whose
mortal remains were never found.
c) But elements of the Norfolks were not the only ones to go missing in action in the Suvla
operations; in the dawn attack of 9th August on the crest of Tekke Tepe of 7 officers and 140
men of 6th East Yorks were ‘swept away’ by an ‘onrush of Turks and never seen again.
(‘Half way down a winding gully they were trapped and shot one by one...’ (’p.169 ‘Gallipoli.
The Fading Vision’, John North, 1936); and the 1/5 Suffolks claim a ‘disappearance’ in
connection with their involvement in the 12 August advance. The unit history records that of
the 11 Officers and 178 NCOs casualties (killed, wounded and missing) on that day:

© Author 2001
Page 8 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
‘Only three men afterwards were reported prisoners, so all these
Officers, NCOs and men must be presumed to have been killed. It is
thought that these fine men were the foremost and quickest to
advance, and in their keenness hade bravely rushed forward in
isolated parties and without adequate support. They seemed to
have completely disappeared. No one came back who could
give and account of what had happened to them’.2
Sounds familiar.
d) The Norfolks ‘mystery’ is compounded by the findings of a War Graves Registration unit in
1919 which reported finding over 100 ‘unidentified’ Norfolks (and some Hampshires, Suffolks
and Cheshires). This discovery has ever since have been the subject of dark interpretations
and murmurings of atrocity, quite without foundation, have bubbled up, which, no doubt, gave
further scope for future imaginative embroidery. Absurd explanations have entered the
equation - abduction by aliens and disappearance within strange-shaped clouds. It is not
surprising that the myth should have spawned such a fantastical celluloid re-creation as ‘All
the King’ Men’. Myth feeding on myth and media attention.
A possible ‘explanation’
I suppose the full story of the vanishing Norfolks (the presumptuousness of name ensures the
propagation of the myth) will never be known as no utterly comprehensive description of the
attack exists; it can only be re-visited through the perspectives of a number of retrospective
reconstructions. These reveal that in the chaos and confusion of the fighting, in common with
a multitude of other vicious local attacks (in all theatres of war and at different times) men of
the 163rd Brigade ‘disappeared’ in and after action, they fell into the thorny scrub, killed and
wounded, by small arms and shell fire, they fell as result of twisted ankles and heat
exhaustion in a chaotic advance over an extensive smoke-filled heath land. Some advanced
parties probably got behind the Turkish line and were dealt with, beyond the view of British
eyes, by resolute defenders in isolated groups. The bodies of some killed and wounded were
no doubt consumed by the intense scrub fire. But many of the wounded or exhausted and
disoriented participants did, in time (up to three or four days) get back to British lines. It has
been calculated3, in contrast to the original War Diary claim that the 1/5 Norfolks lost 22
officers and ‘about 350 men’, that the actual figure for the ‘abortive advance’ was in fact 14
2 On the theme of disappearances see also page 132 of George Davidson’s ‘The
Incomparable 29th and the ‘River Clyde’’. On July 13th 1915 at Helles as a serving member of
the RAMC he heard the rumour ‘of a lost regiment’ and later discovers ‘that a whole battalion
of the KOSB’s are amissing…The curious thing is the officers are said to have turned up, and
can give no account of what happened. I expect this is not the exact truth. They are said to
have pushed too far forward, which is the usual case of our worst disasters’.
3 Derek Rayner, op.cit.

© Author 2001
Page 9 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
officers and at least 142 men, of which 1 officer and only 16 men were literally
‘Sandringhams’. In the light of such analysis it as at least possible to argue that though the
Norfolks certainly lost very heavily on 12 August, they did not on that tragic afternoon entirely
and permanently disappear.
The unidentified remains of some of those vanished Norfolks reside
as part of a mass grave of unidentified soldiers in lonely Azmak
Cemetery, on the Suvla Plain. The names of these ‘missing’
warriors are recorded on the Commonwealth War Graves
commission memorial at Helles.
References
Imperial War Museum sources
Department of Documents:
Papers of Captain A R Pelly (Ref 91/15/1)
Papers of Colonel H F Kemball (Ref 91/142/1)
Sound Archive
Tom Williamson interview (Ref 9317/6): British NCO served with 5th Btn Norfolk Rgt in GB and
Gallipoli, 1911-1915
Published sources
‘The History of the Norfolk Regiment 1685-1918’, (Volume II) by F Loraine Petrie
‘The History of the 1/5th Battalion “The Suffolk Regiment’, compiled by Capt A Fair MC, and
Capt E D Wolton, published by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Ltd, London
‘Military Operations. Gallipoli’, (Vol II May 1915 to Evacuation) Brigadier General C F Aspinall-
Oglander, London, William Heineman Ltd, 1932
‘Gallipoli Diary’, General Sir Ian Hamilton, shortened edition, 1930
‘The disappearance of the King’s Company (Sandringham) in Gallipoli: the days the hills
caught fire’, by Tom Williamson, published by Arthur H Stockwell, Ilfracombe, Devon, 1979
‘Exloding a Myth? – The Vanished Battalion’, by Hal Giblin, published in the Journal of the
Orders and Medals Research Society, Spring 1981
‘The Vanished Battalion’, by Nigel McCrery, Simon and Schuster 1992
‘My Masters’, by Arthur Roland (Rollo) Pelly, published by D R Pelly, Great Dunmow, 1993

© Author 2001
Page 10 of 10
The Joint Imperial War Museum / Australian War Memorial Battlefield Study
Tour to Gallipoli, September 2000
‘The Sandringhams at Suvla Bay’, by Dick Rayner (published in ‘Stand To!’, No 58, April
1999?)
Public Record Office sources
War Diary of the 163rd Infantry Brigade (WO95/4325)
War Diary of 1/5 Btn Norfolk Rgt (WO95/4325)
War Diary of 1/4 Btn Norfolk Rgt (WO95/4325)
War Diary of 1/8 Btn Hampshire Rgt (WO95/4325)
War Diary of 1/5 Btn Suffolk Rgt (WO95/4325)
Letters to Aspinall-Oglander commenting on drafts of the official history (CAB 45/241);
notably:
A Crookenden (28 Jan 1931)
Maj Lord Dunalley (5 Feb 1931)
E C Da Costa (9 Feb 1931)
Maj P G Wilson (13 Feb 1931)
H N Bridgwater (24 March 1931)
Capt J H Jewson MC (13 May 1931)

www.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/2/gallipoli/pdf_files/azmak.pdf -
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