James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Success and failure in Gallipoli

On 9th August 1915 4/South Wales Borderers met and defeated an extremely determined counterattack, but in doing so lost its Commanding Officer, Lieut. Col. Gillespie; he was killed early in the attack while directing machine gun fire. The Battalion War Diary describes the difficulty of the terrain and the heavy shelling both of which slowed progress and threatened lines of communication.

The Official History of the War: Gallipoli describes the Battalion’s assault:

More than half the Turkish garrison had been killed or captured and the way was open for the Left Assaulting Column to advance on its distant objective.

Further to the north, owing to the withdrawal of the 5th Wiltshires the previous afternoon, the 4/ South Wales Borderers was holding a very extended front. But here too, the Turkish advance was stopped, and those who reached the Borderers’ parapets were driven back by a counter-attack.

The splendid bearing of all ranks of this Battalion was recognised that night by a special message of congratulations from the Commander-in-Chief. Despite the loss of their commanding officer (Lieut. Col. F.M. Gillespie) at the beginning of the day, and in the face of continuous shelling, the Welsh troops had clung to their important position with admirable tenacity, and had been beaten off a second assault in the evening with another counter-attack. Their casualties in the day’s fighting amounted to 10 officers and 110 men.

Despite 40th Division’s success, the main attack was a failure.