EXACTLY 100 years on from one of our greatest military disasters, many think the murderous Gallipoli campaign of World War One was exclusively an Australian tragedy.
In fact, our area lost many young men during that insane attempt to knock Turkey out of the war and we also have local links with military ‘high-heidjins’ responsible for their deaths!
Far from all Clydesdale’s estimated 600 war dead perished in the Western Front trenches, many fighting and falling alongside their better-remembered Aussie and New Zealand (Anzac) comrades.Our own Lanarkshire Yeomanry and the locally-recruited Highland Light Infantry were there and paid a bloody price.
For example, at Forth, the Memorial records the name of Archie Moffat who, by 1915, was serving with the 7th HLI as a Lance Corporal when the 22-year-old Carnwath-born man was killed in a rare successful storming of the Turkish trenches.
Sharing a Christian name and rank with him was Archie Morton of the 1st Lanarkshire Yeomanry.
This Archie was born in Wilsontown around 1894 and was killed along with 14 regimental comrades in a Turkish bombardment at Gallipoli in December 1915.
One local man who died an Australian citizen was Joseph Orr, born in Forth around 1896 before his parents emigrated to Brisbane. He was serving as a Private with the 15th Australian Imperial Force at Gallipoli when he fell on May 3, 1915. Two other local men, with the 8th HLI, died, probably within seconds of each other, at Gallipoli on June 28, 1915 during a heavy attack; James Tracey, born around 1890 in Law and raised in Wilsontown and David Waddell, a Lanarkian, born around 1892, the son of a Carluke man and a Braehead woman.
Two weeks after their deaths, Adam Young joined their regiment’s casualty list of the 8th HLI: he was born around 1893 in Wilsontown to a Biggar father and Peebles mother.
There were two men with a ‘Gallipoli Connection’ who lived to return home after the war and die peacefully as old men; Admiral Sir John de Robeck and General Sir Ian Hamilton.
The admiral was in charge of the initial Royal Navy attempt to take the Turkish capital by sending fleet of battleships up the Dardanelles channel.
The mighty fleet action soon came to an end as Turkish mines blew up and sank several of the warships and de Robeck had to report to his boss at the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, that the only way to beat the Turks would be by a land invasion. That led to the bloody farce of the Gallipoli landings.
The admiral came out of the war unscathed and became local landed gentry, marrying the then-owner of Lee Castle between Lanark and Carluke. Ironically, it was there that he came closer to death than he’d ever been in the war, being seriously injured in a car accident near the Cartland Road End in the early Twenties.
There was also a bitter irony concerning General Sir Ian Hamilton; he commanded he British Empire forces at Gallipoli and became something of a scapegoat for the disaster, perhaps unfairly.
He never held a active army post again.
He therefore had plenty of spare time on his hands when, in 1926, he came to Lanark to declare open its new Memorial Hall, its Remembrance tablets carrying the names of several men who had died under his catastrophic command.