Harold Sheward, maternal relative: Gallipoli August 1915

My maternal grandmother's father was Herbert Sheward. Herbert's father was Richard Sheward and Richard was also the father of Edwin Sheward.

Ann Tolley, wife of Edwin Sheward was the mother to 9 children. Of those children 6 were boys and of the boys 2 gave their lives in the War to End All Wars as it was billed at the time.

Harold was born during January 1887 in the small farming community of Hartlebury, Worcestershire and died at Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey on 6 August 1915. Harold was a Private in the 4th Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment and is recorded as Killed in action.

Gallipoli

The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli or the Battle of Çanakkale, was a campaign that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916.

The peninsula forms the northern bank of the Dardanelles, a strait that provides a sea route to what was then the Russian Empire, one of the Allied powers during the war. Intending to secure it, Russia's allies Britain and France launched a naval attack followed by an amphibious landing on the peninsula with the eventual aim of capturing the Ottoman capital of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). The naval attack was repelled and, after eight months' fighting, with many casualties on both sides, the land campaign also failed and the invasion force was withdrawn to Egypt.

Many (wrongly) associate Gallipoli solely with troops from Australia & New Zealand although the date of the landing, 25 April, is known as "Anzac Day".

On 17 February 1915, a British seaplane from HMS Ark Royal flew a reconnaissance sortie over the Straits. Two days later, the first attack on the Dardanelles began when a strong Anglo-French task force, including the British battleship HMS Queen Elizabeth, began a long-range bombardment of Ottoman artillery along the coast. The intention was to utilise Ark Royal's eight aircraft to spot for the bombardment, but harsh conditions rendered all but one of these unserviceable.

On 18 March 1915, the naval main attack was launched. The fleet, comprising 18 battleships with a supporting array of cruisers and destroyers, sought to target the narrowest point of the Dardanelles, where the straits are 1 mile (1.6 km) wide. Unfortunately, despite its mobility and firepower the naval attack failed to drive the Turks out of the peninsula.

After the failure of the naval attacks, ground forces were assembled, tasked with eliminating the Ottoman mobile artillery so that minesweepers could clear the way for the larger vessels. The British Secretary of State for War, Lord Herbert Kitchener, appointed General Sir Ian Hamilton to command the 78,000-strong Mediterranean Expeditionary Force that was to carry out the mission.

The Mediterranean Expeditionary Force comprised of the all-volunteer Australian 1st Division and the New Zealand and Australian Division under the command of Lieutenant General William Birdwood. The ANZAC troops, along with the regular British 29th Division, the Royal Naval Division and the French Oriental Expeditionary Corps, consisting of "metropolitan" and colonial troops, were subsequently placed under Hamilton's command. With only five divisions the operation would be complicated by the limited forces available, the rugged terrain of the peninsula and the small number of suitable landing beaches, as well as severe logistical difficulties.

The Allies planned to land and secure the northern shore, capturing the Ottoman forts and artillery batteries there so that a naval force could advance through the Narrows and the Sea of Marmara towards Constantinople. Scheduled for 23 April but postponed until 25 April due to bad weather, landings were to be made at six beaches on the peninsula. The 29th Division was to land at Helles on the tip of the peninsula and then advance upon the forts at Kilitbahir. The Anzacs, with the 3rd Infantry Brigade spearheading the assault, were to land north of Gaba Tepe on the Aegean coast, from where they could advance across the peninsula, cutting off the Ottoman troops in Kilitbahir. The small cove in and around which they landed became known as "Anzac Cove". This sector of the Gallipoli Peninsula became known as "Anzac"; the area held by the British and French became known as the "Helles sector" or simply "Helles". The French made a diversionary landing at Kum Kale on the Asian shore, before re-embarking to hold the eastern area of the Helles sector. There was a diversion by the Royal Naval Division, including a solo effort by Bernard Freyberg at Bulair, for which he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

The Helles landing was made by the 29th Division, under the command of Major General Aylmer Hunter-Weston. The division landed on five beaches in an arc about the tip of the peninsula, named from east to west as 'S', 'V', 'W', 'X' and 'Y' Beaches. On 1 May, the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade (including the 1/6th Gurkha Rifles) landed, took and secured Sari Bair above the landing beaches, and were later joined by two other Gurkha battalions, the 1st/5th and the 2nd/10th; the Zion Mule Corps landed at Helles on 27 April. At 'Y' Beach, during the first engagement around the village of Krithia (First Battle of Krithia), the Allies were able to land unopposed and advance inland. There were only a small number of defenders in the village, but lacking orders to exploit the position, the 'Y' Beach commander withdrew his force to the beach. It was as close as they came to capturing the village throughout the rest of the campaign as the Ottomans brought up a battalion of the 25th Regiment, checking any further movement.

The main landings were made at 'V' Beach, beneath the old Seddülbahir fortress and at 'W' Beach, a short distance to the west on the other side of the Helles headland. The covering force from the Royal Munster Fusiliers and Royal Hampshires landed in a converted collier, SS River Clyde, which was run aground beneath the fortress so that the troops could disembark via ramps to the shore. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers landed at 'V' Beach from open boats. At 'W' Beach, the Lancashire Fusiliers also landed in open boats, on a shore overlooked by dunes and obstructed with barbed wire. On both beaches the Ottoman defenders occupied good defensive positions and inflicted many casualties on the British infantry as they landed. Troops emerging one-by-one from sally ports on the River Clyde were shot by machine gunners at the Seddülbahir fort. Of the first 200 soldiers to disembark, only 21 men reached the beach.

After that there wwere a number of attempted offensives to make a breakout from the beachheads, but mostly it was trench warfare between two established forces.

The August Offensive

The failure of the Allies to make any progress on the Helles front, led Hamilton to pursue a new plan to secure the Sari Bair Range and capture high ground on Hill 971 and Chunuk Bair. Both sides had been reinforced, with Hamilton's original five divisions increased to 15, while the six original Ottoman divisions had grown to 16. Commanded by Godley, the Allies planned to land two fresh infantry divisions from IX Corps, at Suvla, 5 miles north of Anzac, followed by an advance on Sari Bair from the northwest. At Anzac an offensive would be made against the Sari Bair range by advancing through rough and thinly defended terrain, north of the Anzac perimeter. This would be achieved by an attack on "Baby 700" from the Nek by dismounted Australian light horsemen from the 3rd Light Horse Brigade, in concert with an attack on Chunuk Bair summit by New Zealanders from the New Zealand Infantry Brigade, who would traverse "Rhododendron Ridge", the "Apex" and the "Farm". Hill 971 would be attacked by a combined force drawn from the Gurkhas of the 29th Indian Brigade and the Australians of the 4th Infantry Brigade. The Allies had 40 aircraft, mainly of No. 3 Wing, RNAS at Imbros, which had replaced its original Voisin aircraft, with Farmans and Nieuport Xs. A French squadron, Escadrille MF98T, had also been established at Tenedos.

The landing at Suvla Bay took place on the night of 6 August against light opposition; but the British commander, Lieutenant General Frederick Stopford, had limited his early objectives and then failed to forcefully push his demands for an advance inland, and little more ground than the beach was seized. The Ottomans were able to occupy the Anafarta Hills, preventing the British from penetrating inland, which reduced the Suvla front to static trench warfare. The offensive was preceded on the evening of 6 August by diversions at Helles and Anzac. At Helles, the diversion at Krithia Vineyard became another costly stalemate. At Anzac an attack on the Ottoman trenches at "Lone Pine", led by the 1st Infantry Brigade, captured the main Ottoman trench line in a diversion to draw Ottoman forces away from the main assaults at the peaks of Chunuk Bair and Hill 971, both of which failed nonetheless.

It was during this offensive that Harold lost his life.

Casualties

In total, the Allies lost 56,707 dead; 123,598 wounded and 7,654 taken prisoner. The Allies consisted of the United Kingdom (34,072 dead), France (9,798 dead), Australia (8,709 dead), New Zealand (2,721 dead), British India (1,358 dead) and Newfoundland - Canada (49 dead).