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Essex’s role in the bloodiest battles
Updated 11:36am Friday 13th June 2014 in News
The battles of Gallipoli and the Somme are two of the best known of the First World War, mainly due to the heavy loss of life in both campaigns.
Gallipoli was a nine month battle of attrition fought after troops were landed on beaches in Turkey, an ally of Germany.
The Somme is regarded as one of the bloodiest battles in history, when wave after wave of soldiers were sent “over the top” into a hail of machine gun fire in a vain attempt to break through the German trench line on the Western Front.
The Essex Regiment – or Pompadours, as they were known – took part in both campaigns as well as fighting in other battles between 1914 and 1918.
On March 21, 1915 the 1st Battalion sailed from Avonmouth for the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, as part of the Allied effort to secure the valuable Dardanelles, a strait providing access to Russia, one of britain’s allies in the First World War.
The division landed at Cape Helles, on April 25 and remained in Gallipoli for the entire conflict finally evacuated on January 8 the following year alongside other British, Australian, New Zealand and French forces.
The 1/4th Battalion of the Territorial Essex Regiment was also present at the conflict from July 21, 1915 until December 4 and the 1st Garrison Battalion also fought in Turkey.
The 1st Battalion was soon in action again at the first day of the Somme on July 1, 1916.
The Somme Offensive in Belgium saw more than one million men wounded from its inception until its conclusion on November 18, 1916.
A total of 949 members of the Essex Regiment are recorded on the Thiepval Memorial which commemorates soldiers lost on the Somme with no known grave.
Corporal James Clark was one such soldier.
He was born in Forest Gate but his parents moved to the Duke of York pub in Epping, now the site of Barclays Bank in High Street.
He went to France with the 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment, in November 1914 but returned home with frostbite.
Once recovered, he went to fight in Egypt and later returned to France with the 11th Battalion where he died and his body was never found.
On August 19, 1916, the Somme claimed the life of George Tredgett from Epping Green who was killed while serving with the 11th Battalion, Essex Regiment.
His sister received the following note from his platoon commander, Second Lieutenant H.K. Harris: “I feel so for you in the loss of your brother that I hardly know where to begin.
“He was one of the faithful soldiers in my platoon, always willing to do anything. His loss will be felt by all of us”.
The Essex Regiment’s involvement in the war begaan at the Battle of Le Cateau in France on August 26, 1914.
The Pompadours also took part in the Battle of Ypres in Belgium from October 19 until November 22, 1914; the Battle of Loos from September 25 to 14 October 1915 which saw the first British use of poison gas; the Third Battle of Gaza in Palestine on November 1 and 2, 1917, and the Battle of Cambrai in France between November 20 and December 7 the same year.
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