Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Not just ANZACs

Today marks the 97th anniversary of the death at Suvla Bay of Lance Corporal Robert Burton of the 5th Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.

Robert was the older brother of our great grandmother Christina BURTON, born in Lanarkshire Scotland in 1893. The family returned to his father's home of Ulster in the early 1900s.

The Fifth (Service) Battalion of the Fusiliers was formed at Omagh in August 1914 as part of K1 (Kitchener's First Army of volunteers created to replace the professional army that had begun the War). The 5th and 6th Inniskillings made up part of the 10th Division, the first ever all-Irish Division, that moved to Dublin then by early 1915 was at Kildare. In April the Division moved to Basingstoke in England before leaving for the front.

The Inniskillings (known as the Skins) landed at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli, on 7 August 1915. They were in the second wave of an attack that began the night before to support a planned breakout from the Anzac sector, five miles (8 km) to the south.

Like most plans at Gallipoli, it foundered and the troops were trapped on yet another beach.

On 15 August, British units advanced against the Turks dug in on Kiretch Tepe Ridge. Little progress was made and the attackers suffered more than 2,000 casualties.

That same day, the British commander at Suvla, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford was dismissed. The change came too late to save Robert BURTON. His last resting place is unknown but he is remembered on the Hellas Memorial that sits on the end of the Gallipoli Peninsula.

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