Gallipoli

Gallipoli

The allied campaign in 1915 to force a passage through the Dardanelles and remove the Ottoman Empire from the war was one of the greatest failures. It was to cost many lives, some political careers, and ended in evacuation in early January 1916.

There were some Shetland men there. However, none of the letter-writers here were actually resident in Shetland. George Irvine, a Ness man, had gone to Australia and joined the forces there. The Reverend Campbell had been a minister in Lerwick, and chaplain to the local territorials. At Gallipoli, he continued his calling with the Highland Light Infantry. The Royal Scots officer is probably Captain Malcolm Smith. He was the son of Sir Malcolm Smith, born in Hoswick, 1856, who had a trawling business, and had became Provost of Leith 1908-1917. William Gair, whose family had moved to Glasgow, was with his local regiment, the HLI.

There is no hint in the letters of what the Gallipoli campaign was to become. Troubles were borne, there was fighting spirit, good morale, and a will to prevail. The Reverend Campbell says, "It is a disagreeable business, but we must see it through". He does remark on the "tremendous strain" in the area the British held, since it was tiny, and no part of it was immune from enemy fire.

William Gair remarks, "I will never waste another drop of water if I can help it, as long as I live". He had been in an attack, and without drinking water for twelve hours. Water supply and rationing was to be a persistent problem for the troops. No doubt there were many vows like William Gair’s.

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Private George Irvine, Australian Forces. From Jemyna Henderson.