Page 66 - The-History-of-the-Lancashire-Fusiliers-1914-1918-Volume-I

Basic HTML Version

EGYPT-GALLIPOLI-THE LANDING--Ist KRITHIA
49
At length the preparations
in
Egypt were complete and the force
re-embarked. The battalion embarked on 7th April , 1915,
in
s.s.
Caledonia,
together with the Royal Munster Fusiliers, the Anson
Battalion of the Royal Naval Division and the General Headquarters
Signal Company, but without transport. The ship sailed on 8th
April and reached Mudros on the loth, the short voyage being
relieved only by the rumours which invariably pervade an army.
This fine harbour was filled to capacity with every kind of vessel–
battleships, colliers, destroyers, mine-sweepers, transports, hospital
ships, all protected by a boom across the entrance. The Turks were
fully aware of this assemblage, as they were able to send an air
reconnaissance ·over daily, without interference by us. The time
passed slowly, but it was varied by practice in embarking and
disembarking in the ship's boats, a difficult proceeding owing to the
height of the decks above the water.
A reconnaissance of the terrain from the sea was carried out by the
staff, accompanied by unit commanders; and
final
preparations were
made as far as possible. The force was at a disadvantage in not
having reliable maps, and aerial photography was not at that time
sufficiently developed to be able to remedy the deficiency. At this
juncture the Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, Lieutenant–
Colonel H. V. S. Ormond, developed heart trouble and was invalided
by a medical board. The command thus passed, on the eve of the
operations, into the hands of Major H. O. Bishop, the second-in–
command; and Major W.
B.
Pearson became second-in-command.
The men spent much of the period of waiting in writing letters
home; and some of them contained surprisingly accurate forecasts
of the events of the next few days, so much so that the blue pencil
had to come into action. At length preparations were complete and,
as the Naval Commander-in-Chief, Vice-Admiral
J.
M. de Robeck,
considered that the weather was propitious, orders were given for
the operations to begin.
General Hunter-Weston issued a personal note of encouragement
to each man of the 29th Division "on the occasion of their first going
into action," and Brigadier-General S. W. Hare issued the following
Special Brigade Order to the 86th Infantry Brigade :-
"FUSILIERs,-Our Brigade is to have the honour to be the
first to land and to cover the disembarkment of the rest of the
Division. Our task will be no easy one. Let us carry it through
in a way worthy of the traditions of the distinguished regiments
of which the Fusilier Brigade is composed ; in such a way that
the men of Albuhera and Minden, of Delhi and Lucknow may
hail us as their equals in valour and military achievement, and
that future historians may say of us, as Napier said of the
Fusilier Brigade at Albuhera: 'Nothing could stop this
astonishing infantry.' "
On 25th April, 1915, "this infantry" was indeed to prove itself
"astonishing" and to cause that day to be remembered for ever as
E