Gallipoli 100 Years: the North Nibley Casualties

Three North Nibley men were killed more than 1,500 miles from home in the Gallipoli offensive of the summer of 1915. The Glosters sailed from Avonmouth to a world unlike anything they had experienced; to unbearable heat and into a battle which the British Empire were already losing.

Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 1915 (photo source)

Philip Cook (6th Battalion Lincolns), Edwin Thomas Crocker (Royal Gloucestershire Hussars), and George Elliott (7th Battalion Glosters) of North Nibley all took part in the August attacks alongside the famed ANZAC units, centred on the landings at Sulva Bay. The plan had been to relieve the ground troops who had arrived in April, and to attempt to breakthrough to Constantinople with the aim of establishing a naval route to their allies in Russia, effectively cutting off the Axis powers (Germany, Austria, and the later addition of Turkey) to the south.

As with the April offensive and the naval assault before it, the August campaign was a military disaster in which very little land was captured. George Elliott had been part of one of the more successful attacks, with the 7th Glosters supporting the Wellington New Zealanders in the capture of the Chunuk Bair hill, but it came at a heavy cost. The 7th Glosters suffered approximately 350 casualties in the hill’s capture on 8th August: Elliott among them.

Helles Memorial to the Missing (photo source)

Elliott’s body was missing in action and his name is commemorated on the Helles Memorial to the Missing where, coincidentally, another Nibley man is also listed. Philip Cook had died the previous day during the landings at Sulva Bay, where he had been serving with the Lincolnshire Regiment. Having been raised in North Nibley as the son of the police constable, Cook had moved to Lincolnshire after 1911 to work as a footman at Burghley House. It was with other members of the house’s staff that he had enlisted in the war at the outbreak.

(L-R) Philip Cook (6th Lincolns) and Edwin Crocker (Royal Glos Hussars), photos from Dursley Gazette

Edwin Thomas Crocker arrived in Gallipoli from Alexandria in Egypt with the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars as back up troops on the 18th August. This horse mounted regiment followed a similar route to Cook’s 6th Lincolns, landing at Sulva Bay and moving through to Chocolate Hill, where the Lincolns had been unable to advance since 8th August. It was from here that the Hussars attacked with the Lincolns and others on 21st August, as they tried once more to progress towards Scimitar Hill. Attacking under dense fog, Crocker was among the 5,000 Allied casualties of the day, roughly double that suffered by the Turkish. He was an older soldier, aged 34 at his death and he left behind a wife, Annie, and two children, Phyllis Annie and Edward Thomas who were aged 10 and 7. The attack he died in was to be that last of the Gallipoli offensive before the Allied evacuations that autumn. Crocker was killed at Chocolate Hill but is buried on the neighbouring Green Hill; the two so-named because of the colour of their hillsides.

Chocolate Hill, Gallipoli 1915 (photo source)

For the majority of soldiers, the war would have been their first experience of overseas travel. Even fewer men would have travelled as far as Turkey or to a landscape so opposite to that of the leafy hills of Gloucestershire. It is impossible for us, a century later to know how it would have felt for them to have arrived by ship so far from home, especially considering that it was unlikely that they had even seen pictures of such landscapes. It would have seemed even less comprehensible to their families to have understood where and why their loved ones had died in a battle so far away and for such an unsuccessful cause. Their sacrifice is remembered one hundred years later both at home and in their "corner of a foreign field. That is for ever England.".

Gallipoli Campaign Centenary: The Commemorations, April 24
Princes Charles and Harry in Gallipoli, 2015 (photo source)


Full details of the North Nibley memorial can be found here.
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