Battle Honour 'GALLIPOLI 1915-16'

Event
Sunday, 9 January, 1916
Battle Honour GALLIPOLI 1915-16
GALLIPOLI 1915-16

The Battle Honour GALLIPOLI 1915-16, a First World War Theatre Honour, is emblazoned on the Queen's Colours of The Royal Irish Regiment and was awarded to our forebears for their various actions in the Gallipoli theatre. Land operations were concluded when the evacuation was completed in January 1916.

The 87 Brigade Operation Order for the evacuation was issued at 1100 hours on 7 January 1916. Such was the secrecy surrounding the withdrawal from the front line that the 1st Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers did not receive detailed timings until midday on Z Day - 8 January 1916 - the final day of the evacuation and the day before the embarkation was to be completed.

Preparations had included booby traps, land mines, and as part of the deception plan, dummy figures and 'automatic' rifles that would be fired when there would be no human fingers left to pull the triggers. A tin of sand, just short of the weight needed to pull the trigger, was attached with a string, via a pulley, to the rifle's trigger. A container suspended above the tin of sand dripped water into the sand until the string completed the pull on the trigger and fired the rifle.

The Inniskillings withdrew from the trenches in three groups; the first departed at 1700 hours and the last at 2300 hours. This left the 'automatic' rifles that had been rigged to fire from 10 to 90 minutes after the last men had departed. The move down to the embarkation area in the early hours of 9 January was a disciplined night march with no smoking, no talking and no lights. Boots were muffled and there was a minimum of one officer at the rear of each party. Rifles were loaded but no rounds were chambered so as to avoid any accidental discharges and two men with fixed bayonets trailed each party by some 20 yards as a Rear Guard.

IWM (Q 13680)The enemy to their rear remained ignorant of the deserted trenches to their front. When the Inniskilling parties reached the piers, all sense of order was lost as the Embarkation Officers loaded men onto lighters regardless of unit cohesion. However, the lighters got under way at 0250 hours and carried the 495-strong Inniskillings some 200 yards to the Destroyer HMS Staunch where they scrambled onto her deck to complete the evacuation. The Battalion sailed away from Gallipoli just after 0400 hours on 9 January 1916.

Above, Distant view over one of the gun turrets of the battleship HMS CORNWALLIS showing stores burning on the beach after the first evacuation of Suvla Bay in December 1915, © IWM (Q 13680).

To follow other actions at Gallipoli, please click on the article The Gallipoli Campaign - Introduction

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