Turkish nightmare for Midlothian soldiers

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Most people, when they think of the Great War, fairly understandably associate it with the battlefields of France and Flanders.

However, the war went much further afield, and in 1915 some of the fiercest fighting was in Turkey at the Gallipoli peninsula.

Many men from Midlothian were involved in the fighting as three battalions of the Royal Scots, the 4th, 5th and 7th were there, along with the King’s Own Scottish Borderers and many more units.

The terrain at Gallipoli bore little resemblance to the Western Front. Dry, arid and with steep ravines and dried river beds, it was a nightmare to live in, and fight for.

One of the earliest into battle was the 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, who were in the initial landing on the beaches. At 5.45am on April 25, 1915,they slipped ashore. The tension was unbearable, as they expected to be cut down by Turkish machine guns at any moment. Instead they were virtually unopposed and came across only a few Turks, so they pressed on inland towards Y Ravine.

Amid confusion about their objectives, they retired from this position and were attacked ferociously by the Turks. They would not retake this land so easily gained then given away until July, and at high cost.

For the rest of John Duncan’s feature see this week’s Advertiser. On sale now