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  Spirits of Gallipoli - John Brewer BREWER, John Harold

Spirits of Gallipoli - John Brewer

Spirits of Gallipoli - John Brewer
Unit 6th Battalion, B Company Rank Private
Date of Enlistment 18 August 1914 Service no. 169
Date of Death 8 May 1915 Place of Death Cape Helles
Age 22    
Cemetery Helles Details Panel 202
Epitaph -
Next of Kin (Father) BREWER John Address Liskeard, Cornwall, England
Parents John and Emily Isabella Margery Brewer Address Liskeard, Cornwall, England
Date of Birth 7 June 1892 Place of birth India, Poona

6th Battalion – 8 May 1915 – the 2nd Battle of Krithia

By the afternoon of 8th May, the anxious General Hamilton determined to make one final attack, supplemented by the reserve brigades he had brought from Anzac.

The Victorians had moved closer to the front line during the morning of 8th May, and by late afternoon were settling down to eat their evening meal.  At 5pm, Colonel McNicoll was warned by the Brigade Major to have his troops ready to move at a moments notice toward the village of Krithia.  It was another twenty minutes before the detailed Brigade Order arrived.  It required the entire Victorian 2nd Brigade to commence its advance on Krithia and the nearby Achi Baba ridge at 5.30pm!

Notwithstanding the difficulties, particularly the total lack of reconnaissance, the Sixth was assembled by 5.20pm, and ten minutes later commenced the advance – on time!  The advancing Victorians were led by the 6th Battalion on the left, the 7th Battalion on the right, with the 5th and 8th Battalions in support.  As they advanced across the open fields which gently sloped towards the Krithia village, the advancing infantry came under a hail of Turkish shell, rifle and machine gun fire.  The CO, Colonel McNicoll was badly wounded and the CO of the 7th Battalion, Killed.  However, in an amazing display of fortitude and courage, the Australians continued their advance toward the Turkish lines.  One British war correspondent reported:

The manner in which the Australians went forward will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.  They advanced steadily, as if on parade, sometimes doubling, sometimes walking.  They melted away under the dreadful fusillade, but their reserves filled the gaps till the point was reached beyond which it was impossible to advance.

The 3,000 strong Victorian brigade had, in the space of an hour, advanced the Allied firing line a further 600 yards, but at a cost of over 1,000 men killed or wounded.  As darkness closed, Major Gordon Bennett, who was now the only unwounded senior officer in the front line, took charge of the consolidation.  Throughout the night, Bennett urged and cajoled the men of the two forward battalions into digging trenches in expectation of a Turkish counter-attack.  Private Williams wrote of the earlier charge;

The air seemed to be alive with bullets hissing past.  We would advance a distance then drop; heavy a rest for an instant, then rush forward again.  The heavy packs and ammunition hindered the men considerably.

The 6th Battalion in that fateful hour, lost 133 men killed or died of wounds.  This was to be the battalion’s heaviest toil of any single day of the war.  Yet few Australians are even aware of the Second Battle of Krithia and the important place it has in our nation’s military history.  During the advance up the slopes of Central Spur towards Krithia, the Sixth lost eight officers killed; Major Wells, Captain Watts, Lieutenants Cox, Dangerfield, Galagher and Kieran; 2nd Lieutenants Davis and Pozzi.  The loss of the seriously wounded Colonel McNicoll, let to the inevitable and popular appointment of Gordon Bennett as CO of the Sixth on 9th May.  After spending several more days consolidating the firing line, the 2nd Brigade was withdrawn, and on 17th May, arrived back at Anzac Cove.

AUSTIN, Ron, Bold - Steady - Faithful. The history of the 6th Battalion, the Royal Melbourne Regiment, 1854 - 1993, page 69 (source 224)

Other Sources

Spirits of Gallipoli - Photo   Photo Spirits of Gallipoli - Photo   The Age Newspaper, 16 July 1915, page 10 (source 44)
Spirits of Gallipoli - Photo   Photo Spirits of Gallipoli - Photo   Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918. DE RUVIGNY, the Marquis, Volume 1, page 50 (source 80)
Spirits of Gallipoli - News   Newspaper article Spirits of Gallipoli - News   The Argus Newspaper, 3 July 1915, page 11 (source 42)
Spirits of Gallipoli - Headstone   Headstone Spirits of Gallipoli - Headstone   Gallipoli Photographic Expedition, 2009 (source 183)
Spirits of Gallipoli - Notes   Notes Spirits of Gallipoli - Notes   Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918. DE RUVIGNY, the Marquis, volume 1, page 50 (source 80)
Spirits of Gallipoli - Various   Various Spirits of Gallipoli - Various   Australian War Memorial, ACT, Panel 46 (source 14)

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