Page 61 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

CHAPTER V
EGYPT-GALLlPOLl-THE
LANDING-1st KRITHIA
"IIELLES, "
"LANDING AT HELLES,"
"J{RITHJ"' ' '
( ~Iaps
5 and 6)
1st Battalion
1ST BN.
IN Chapter I, a brief reference was made to the presence of the 1st
Battalion at Karachi at the outbreak of war, and it is now time to
turn eastward and follow its fortunes for a while . In October, 1914,
it sailed in s.s.
Dilwara
with a number of other transports
conveying troops from India, escorted by H.M.S.
Swiftsure
and by
some of the old Indian Marine ships, and went to Aden. The
married families continued homeward and eventually disembarked
at Liverpool; while the battalion disembarked at Aden and
relieved the 1st Royal Irish Rifles in garrison duty there. In
December, after many rumours, the battalion left that depressing
station and sailed for England, passing through the Suez Canal
on Christmas Day.
It
landed at Avonmouth on 2nd January,
1915, dressed in red, to the great astonishment of spectators who
for many months had been used to seeing no military colour except
khaki , and went into billets at
~uneaton,
in Warwickshire, as part
of the 86th Brigade of the 29th Division, being brigaded with the
2nd Royal Fusiliers, 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers and 1st Royal
Dublin Fusiliers. This famous formation was indeed a
corps d' elite
as it was formed from overseas garrisons which were kept at full
strength in peace time and therefore had no recruits or reservists in
their ranks, in contrast to the units of the British Expeditionary
Force which, as already noticed, contained as many as 60 per cent.
of reservists. After a short spell of leave granted to all ranks, the
battalion was entirely re-fitted and re-formed, and hastily prepared
for all contingencies.
It
was inspected, trained in marching with the
new and heavy equipment and at last, after a final inspection by
H .M. King George V at Wolston near Rugby on 12th March, 1915,
embarked at Avonmouth on 16th March with the 2nd Royal
Fusiliers and one company of the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers in
s.s.
Ataunia,
a fine ship of the Cunard Line, which seemed quite
palatial after the ordinary troopships, the animals embarking in
s.s.
M ercian.
The battalion's embarkation strengths were 26
officers, 932 other ranks and 25 vehicles
in
Alaunia
and 1 officer, 70
other ranks and 69 horses
in
M ercian.
It
is necessary to interpose here a short account of the reasons
4 6