Cecil T W Grimshaw

Boer War Diarist and World War I Casualty at Gallipoli

Cecil Grimshaw raising the Union Jack when British prisoners of war were released during the Boer War in June 1900.

Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw was born in Ireland and served in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during the Boer War, during which time he kept a very interesting diary. This diary recounts his experiences as a prisoner of war in Pretoria at the same time as Winston Churchill. Later, Cecil fought in World War I, again with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, in the Gallipoli campaign. This campaign, fought on the Turkish peninsula on the north side of the Dardanelles (Gallipoli peninsula), was generally considered to be unsuccessful. Cecil Grimshaw was killed in action there on April 26, 1915. Cecil was descended from the “Irish” line of Grimshaws, which is described on a companion webpage.


Webpage Credits

Photo of Cecil T.W. Grimshaw

What Was the Boer War and When Was It Fought?

The Battle of Talana – First Engagement of the Boer War

Cecil Grimshaw’s Boer War Diary

Raising of the Union Jack Over Pretoria When the Prisoners Were Freed

Cecil Grimshaw’s Military Experiences As Summarized by Niall Brannigan

Background of the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I

Cecil Grimshaw at Gallipoli

Photographs of the Gallipoli Campaign

Cecil Grimshaw’s Origins

Where is Cecil Grimshaw Buried?

Additional News Coverage from Hilary Tulloch

John Elisha Grimshaw, Victoria Cross Recipient for Valor at Gallipoli


Webpage Credits

Thanks go to Richard Grimshaw for providing the photos of Cecil and his wife, Violet, as well as Cecil’s diary of his experiences during the Boer War and information on Cecil’s service and death at Gallipoli in World War I. Thanks also to Hilary Tulloch for providing the image of Cecil raising the Union Jack over the prison camp at Pretoria, and other information on this webpage. Gratitude is also expressed to Niall Brannigan for sending additional rich detail on Cecil’s military experience.

Photo of Cecil T.W. Grimshaw

A photo of Cecil Grimshaw is shown in Figure 1, courtesy of Richard Grimshaw. Additional photos of Cecil’s family, including his wife, Agnes Violet (Alderson) Grimshaw, are provided on a companion webpage.

Figure 1. Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw, DSO.

What Was the Boer War and When Was It Fought?

The Boer War was between British forces and the Boers and was fought from 1899 and 1902 in South Africa. A brief description of the war from Encyclopedia Britannica Online is shown below.

South African War. Also called Boer War, or Anglo-Boer War (Oct. 11, 1899 – May 31, 1902), war fought between Great Britain and the two Boer (Afrikaner) republics – the South African Republic (Transvaal) and the Orange Free State. Although it was the largest and most costly war in which the British engaged between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I, it was fought between wholly unequal protagonists. The total British military strength in South Africa reached nearly 500,000 men, whereas the Boers could muster no more than about 88,000. But the British were fighting in a hostile country over difficult terrain, with long lines of communications, while the Boers, mainly on the defensive, were able to use modern rifle fire to good effect, at a time when attacking forces had no means of overcoming it.

The war began on Oct. 11, 1899, following a Boer ultimatum directed against the reinforcement of the British garrison in South Africa. The crisis was caused by the refusal of the South African Republic, under President Paul Kruger, to grant political rights to the Uitlander (foreigners; i.e., non-Dutch and primarily English) population of the mining areas of the Witwatersrand, and the aggressive attitudes of Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner, the British high commissioner, and of Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain, in response to this obduracy. An underlying cause of the war was the presence in the Transvaal of the largest gold-mining complex in the world, beyond direct British control, at a time when the world’s monetary systems, preeminently the British, were increasingly dependent upon gold.

The course of the war can be divided into three periods. During the first phase, the British in South Africa were unprepared and militarily weak. Boer armies attacked on two fronts, into Natal from the Transvaal and into the northern Cape from the Orange Free State; the northern districts of the Cape Colony rebelled against the British and joined the Boer forces. In the course of Black Week (December 10-15) the Boers defeated the British in a number of major engagements and besieged the key towns of Ladysmith , Mafeking, and Kimberley; but large numbers of British reinforcements were being landed, and slowly the fortunes of war turned. Before the siege of Ladysmith could be relieved, however, the British suffered another reverse at Spion Kop (January 1900).

In the second phase, the British, under Lord Kitchener and Frederick Sleigh Roberts, 1st Earl Roberts, relieved the besieged towns, beat the Boer armies in the field, and rapidly advanced up the lines of rail transportation. Bloemfontein was occupied by the British in February 1900, and Johannesburg and Pretoria in May and June. Kruger left the Transvaal for Europe. But the war, which until then had been largely confined to military operations, was by no means at an end, and at the end of 1900 it entered upon its most destructive phase. For 15 months Boer commandos, under the brilliant leadership of generals such as Christiaan Rudolf de Wet and Jacobus Hercules De la Rey , harried the British army bases and communications; large rural areas of the Transvaal and the Orange Free State (which the British annexed as the Orange River Colony) remained out of British control.

Kitchener responded with barbed wire and blockhouses along the railways, but when these failed he retaliated with a scorched-earth policy. The farms of Boers and Africans alike were destroyed and the Boer inhabitants of the countryside were rounded up and held in segregated concentration camps. The plight of the Boer women and children in these camps became an international outrage – more than 20,000 died in the carelessly run, unhygienic camps. The commandos continued their attacks, many of them deep into the Cape Colony, General Jan Smuts leading his forces to within 50 miles (80 km) of Cape Town. But Kitchener’s drastic and brutal methods slowly paid off. The Boers had unsuccessfully sued for peace in March 1901; finally, they accepted the loss of their independence by the Peace of Vereeniging in May 1902.

“South African War” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=70615 [Accessed May 24, 2003].


A map showing the primary places of importance in the Boer War is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2. Map of Africa, showing the location of South Africa, and map showing primary places of importance during the Boer War.

Source: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/8141/boerwar.html 

The Battle of Talana – First Engagement of the Boer War

Cecil was a lieutenant in the Dublin Fusiliers in the Boer War and was captured in the Battle of Talana, the first major battle of the war. This battle is described as shown below on the following website: http://www.talana.co.za/Talana%20booklet.html. A reference to Lieutenant Grimshaw is shown in italics & bold.

Battle of Talana

20 October 1899 

Dundee lies in a hollow with hills all around it. To the east and south-east Talana and Lennox (also known as Little Talana), joined by a saddle known as Smiths Nek; to the north Mpati Mountain was of strategic importance as it supplied the towns water.

With the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War on 11 October 1899, the major concentration of British troops in Natal, was at Ladysmith. A detachment of artillery, infantry and cavalry (some 4000-45000 men) had been sent forward to Dundee under command of General Sir William Penn Symon’s. The decision to hold and defend Dundee was a political one – the coal mine owners were a powerful and influential group and had pressurized the Natal government to defend the Dundee area because of the coal mines. Ships calling at Durban harbour with troops and supplies needed bunker coal to fire their engines.

From 11 October, Boer commandos, some 14 000 strong crossed into Natal over Langs Nek and passed Majuba. As they advanced they split into three columns. The right column, under command of General Kock advanced south past Fort Mistake to capture the railway line at Elandslaagte, thus preventing British reinforcements at Ladysmith from reaching Dundee. The left column, under General Lukas Meyer, made a wide sweeping movement into the Utrecht and Vryheid area to round up support. The central column under General “Maroela” Erasmus advance towards Dundee.

British intelligence relied on the Natal Scouts and Basuto guides. The knowledge of the Boer movement into Natal was excellent and Penn Symon’s made arrangements for special trains to evacuate civilians and supplies from Dundee. Many did not leave as they were assured that there was no danger to the town from the Boer forces and Penn Symon’s asserted that he “had no plans but would be guided by circumstances.”

On Thursday night 19 October, the Boer left column congregated at Doornberg, a large flat topped mountain 19 km north-east of Dundee near the Blood River battlefield. Here they were led in prayer before advancing in the pouring rain on Dundee – their aim, to control the high-lying ground around the town”Maroela” Erasmus and his 2000 burghers planned to hold Mpati. Talana and Lennox were to be occupied by Lukas Meyer with his 4000 men.

At 2:30 am on Friday morning, in the inky wet darkness some 4km beyond Smiths Nek (along the present road to Vryheid), Meyers advancing burghers came into contact with a British look out post. A message to Penn Symon’s did not cause any alarm. He believed this was a raiding party, despite a warning the previous morning that an attack was imminent. When Grimshaw sent a second message that, in order to prevent any further movement by the Boers, he had taken up a position in the bed of the Steenkoolspruit (which runs between the town and the foot of Talana), Penn Symon’s sent out two companies of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in support.

By first light on the morning of 20 October the Boer forces had taken up their positions. On Talana the commandos from Utrecht (under Commandant Joshua Joubert), Wakkerstroom (under Commandant Hattingh) and Krugersdorp (under General Potgieter), and a portion of the Ermelo commando, together with 3 guns (two 75mm Krupp field guns and one 75mm Creusot, under Major Wolmarans of the Transvaal Staats Artillerie) were ready and waiting. On Lennox the commandos from Vryheid (under Ferriera), Middelburg (under Trichardt), Piet Retief (under Engelbrecht) and a few men from Bethal (under Greyling) had taken up their positions. Three guns were kept behind Lennox and were not used during the battle. Maroela Erasmus and his men were in position on Mpati.

At daybreak the tops of the hills were covered in swirling mist. In the British camp life started as usual with the troops standing to at 5:00am. At 5:20 they were dismissed to get breakfast, water the horses and start the usual camp duties. As the mist slowly cleared away from Talana, the troops in camp could clearly see the figures silhouetted on the skyline. Were they the Town Guard, their own men sent out during the night, or the enemy?

The question was soon answered. Just after 5:25 am the first shells landed in the British camp. An anxious Lukas Meyer had waited for movement on Mpati, whose instructions were to support him in the attack. The position on Mpati was some 335 metres higher than Talana and was encased in mist for much of the early morning. Eventually at the urging of his men “to say good morning to the British”, Meyer gave permission to start firing. The Boer range was good, their second shell landed near the entrance to Penn Symons tent – where it buried itself in the wet ground. This prevented many of the Boer shells from exploding.

Although confusion reigned briefly in the British camp, discipline and training soon prevailed. The 67 Artillery Battery started to fire on Talana hill, but was slightly out of range. Within 15 minutes the 69 and 13 Batteries had limbered up, moved to the 3450 metre range, and commenced firing on the hill. In his diary Gunner Netley recorded his impression of their rapid movement through the town where the civilians were “supplying the men with coffee and cocoa, also some bread and butter, which comes very acceptable indeed.”

The British shelling of the hilltop was accurate and heavy. Major Wolmarans withdrew his guns to safety from the forward slopes of the hill, and they took no further part in the battle.

Penn Symon’s issued orders for a frontal assault on Talana hill. The Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Royal Irish Fusiliers were to advance to the Steenkoolspruit, with the Kings Royal Rifles in support. The Leicestershires, 67 Battery, Natal Police and a company of the Natal Carbineers were left in the camp to defend it in case of an attack from the rear. Colonel Moller and the 18 Hussars (the cavalry) were sent out to behind Talana hill to cut off any retreat by the Boers.

Members of the Town Guard joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers as they moved through the town. On Talana the Boer guns were no longer returning the British fire, Meyer was waiting for Erasmus on Mpati to make a move and so force the British to change the direction of their attack. Erasmus did not assist Meyer at any stage in the battle. His only action, later in the day, was to send men out to rout Colonel Moller and the 18 Hussars.  Denys Reitz in Commando: “When it grew light the rain ceased, but a mist enshrouded the mountain top through which everything looked ghostly and uncertain and when Maroela was asked for orders he merely stood glowering into the fog without replytowards midday the weather cleared somewhat, and while it still continued misty, patches of sunshine began to splash the plain and then, far down, into one of the sunlit spaces rode a troop of British horsemen, about 300 strong. This was our first sight of the enemy and we followed their course with close attention.”

Penn Symon’s came down to the Steenkoolspruit to give the orders for the advance. The Dublin Fusiliers and the Kings Royal Rifles would lead the attack with the Irish Fusiliers in support. At 7:20 am a company of the Dublin Fusiliers emerged in open order from the spruit and started running to Smiths farm some 700 -900 metres away. They were closely followed by the Kings Royal Rifles. Meanwhile, the Boers had moved down from the crest of the hill to the plateau. As the British advanced they were cut down by a deadly hail of rifle fire from the Boer marksmen. They sought cover in the gum trees around Smiths farm. In a letter to his father Sergeant Harrington wrote: “Never shall I forget the dreadful storm of bullets that smote us those awful moments. Exposed to a crossfire from thousands of rifles, men commenced to fall rapidly, whilst the air and ground around us were torn by the fearful hail. For my part I never hoped to reach the wood to my joy, however, the edge of the wood was at length reached, and by great good luck I struck it just where there was a little bit of wall, behind which I dropped, and had barely done so when tow bullets struck the uppermost stones.” One of the distinctive memories of the battle was the smell of eucalyptus as the gum tress were stripped bare by the Boer rifle fire and the trees wept.

By 8:00 am the artillery had moved up to a position along the Steenkoolspruit and were concentrating their fire on the slopes of Talana hill. A group of King Royal Rifles on the right wing, who tried to leave the plantation, came under heavy fire from Lennox and were forced to take cover amoung the farm buildings. Brigadier-General Yule, in command of the infantry, realized the futility of a frontal attack and allowed the men to seek what cover they could. There was no further movement in the battle for some time.

By 9:00 am Penn Symon’s had become impatient because the attack was not going forward. He rode onto the battlefield to encourage the troops and order them up the hill. Despite requests from his officers to take cover, retire from the field, or dismiss the trooper he was riding alongside him carrying his pennant, he moved forward. Inevitably, he was shot: at the first stone wall just at the edge of the trees, he was fatally wounded in the stomach. He handed over command to Yule and rode back to camp to a hospital. Yule now gave the order to storm up the hill and take their objective – the stone wall on the edge of the plateau. The dash up the boulder -strewn hillside was fraught with accurate and heavy Boer rifle fire. The stone wall proved to be a severe obstacle, despite providing cover. The Kings Royal Rifles managed to make it up to the wall. An attempt by the Irish Fusiliers to move up the donga on the south-west face of the hill, met with disaster as it did not provide the shelter and cover that they expected.

Indian stretcher bearers moved to and for across the battlefield with their green doolies, picking up the British wounded. The stretcher bearer corps were raised in India, but volunteers were also recruited from the local Indian population to serve as non-combatant medical personnel. The front verandahs of the two Smith homesteads were used as field dressing stations, prior to moving the wounded on doolies to the church and other large halls and warehouse which served as temporary hospitals, in the town.

On top of Talana, Meyer continually tried to heliograph Erasmus, without response. His supply of ammunition was running low and he
decided that if there were no sign of support from Erasmus by 11:30 am he would start withdrawing his men from the hill. A few men would remain to protect the withdrawal. Slowly the fire dwindled and Colonel Gunning of the Kings Royal Rifles gave the order to storm the hill.

After a lull in the firing, the men rushed across the plateau in an effort to reach the top of the hill. They were met by a furious hail of rifle fire from the Boers, who had retired to the crest of the hill. The artillery, not aware of the movement of the British troops, decided to bombard the hillside and hilltop, in an effort to dislodge the Boers. This bombardment cleared the hillside of their own men as well. They were forced to take cover from the shrapnel of their guns. It was imperative that the artillery be warned of the position. Signaller Private Flynn of the Dublin Fusiliers jumped up and exposed himself in an effort to “call up” the guns. After repeated unsuccessful attempts he ran down the hillside to deliver the message personally.

Immediately the bombardment ceased, the British troops stormed up the hill, clambering up the last rocky vertical section to reach the top.

Meyer had started moving his troops off the hill. They were to regroup at the Doornberg Mountain.

The resistance had thus diminished as the British troops made the final dash up the hill. By 2:00 pm the entire position was in British hands. The artillery had been brought up into Smiths Nek – but did not fire on the retreating Boers. Probably no one will ever know why – it is said that Colonel Pickwoad saw a white flag and sent to Yule for instructions before opening fire. It is also suggested that he believed some of the mounted men in greatcoats to be the 18 Hussars and was afraid to open fire on his own men once again. The men on the hill also stopped firing as they heard the “all clear” sound across the field. When some of the men believed this to be a mistake and started firing the “all clear” sounded again.

Thus the Boers rode off northwards under the eyes of the British. The hungry, wet and weary British troops made no attempt to stop them. Late that afternoon. Leaving the Dundee Town Guard to man the hill, the British troops returned to camp along streets lined with cheering townsfolk.

Earlier in the day, Colonel Moller and his 18 Hussars had taken up position behind Talana. He had sent a detachment of men under Major Knox to scout behind Lennox hill. They surprised a small group of Boers and dispersed them, taking some prisoner, whom they sent back to Moller. The prisoners were released later that day when Moller was captured.

With the Boer forces withdrawing off Talana, Moller found that his small group of men were directly in the path of the Boer commandos. He realised that his force was too small to prevent the Boer withdrawal; he was not dealing with a defeated army, but one well able to deal with his small group of cavalry. He therefore retreated in a northerly direction, intending to return to camp by the long route around the north of Mpati- but he was seen by the Boer forces on Mpati. A force of some 100 burghers cut them off. Moller and his men took up a defensive position on Adelaide farm. Trichardt brought up a Maxim gun (the notorious pom-pom) and eventually the British cavalry, their ammunition exhausted, realised they were trapped. They surrendered, having lost 8 killed, 18 wounded and 209 taken prisoner of war.

Major Knox and the rest of the Hussars worked their way back to camp arriving at about 7:00 pm.

The British had successfully driven Meyer and his men off both Lennox and Talana hills – but the Boers were by no means a defeated army. Tactically it appeared as though the British had won the battle: but had they? Within 30 hours the Boer shelling from Mpati forced the British retreat from Dundee. The decision was taken to abandon the town. The retreating British column left behind a handful of medical staff with their unburied dead and their wounded. The dying general Penn Symon’s was buried three days later in the St James Anglican churchyard. Civilians, led by the Town Clerk, Francis Birkett, also left the town in the middle of the night to join the British forces on their forced retreat march to Ladysmith. Their abandoned stores and ammunition were looted by the Boers, who occupied the town for the next seven months – renaming it Meyersdorp in honour of Lukas Meyer.

News of the tactical victory spread throughout South Africa and Britain, and had a tremendous effect on British morale. The two opponents had tested each others metal and both formed an opinion – they were braver and more determined than they had been led to believe.

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A sketch of the Battle of Talana is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Storming of Talana Hill. By F.C. Dickinson from a sketch made on the spot. From H.W. Wilson, With a Flag to Pretoria, 1902.

Source: http://www.pinetreeweb.com/conan-doyle-chapter-05.htm

Cecil Grimshaw’s Boer War Diary

Cecil kept a diary of at least a portion of his experiences in the Boer War, including his incarceration in Pretoria as a prisoner of war. The diary has been transcribed by his grandson, Richard Grimshaw, and is provided below. Two of the most significant events recorded, the escape of Winston Churchill from the POW camp and Cecil’s raising of the British flag over the camp when the prisoners were freed, are shown in bold and italic letters.

Transcriber’s note: The following is a copy of Cecil Grimshaws experiences in the Boer War. He was captured at the Battle of Talana, and was later a POW in Pretoria along with Winston Churchill. He was killed in Gallipoli in 1915.

My Experiences of the Boer War (1899-1900)

Cecil T.W.Grimshaw Lt.

2nd Battalion Dublin Fusiliers

During September 1899 rumours of war with the Transvaal were getting more and more prevalent & there appeared to be more truth in them, than previously. On the evening of the 16th we received orders that our Mounted Infantry company to which I belonged was to leave (at that time they were stationed in Pietermaritzburg) for Ladysmith on the following Tuesday the 19th & to march up. This did not give us much time to get ready. However things worked out alright & everything was packed and we marched off passing the Quarter Guard at about 6.30 am. We had, as well as our company transport, all the regimental transport carts and wagons. We did a very good march and ended it at Dangle Road where we halted for the night.

Next morning we started off for Nottingham Road & arrived there in very good time, but some of the transport got stuck on the road opposite George Melsters farm, owing to heavy rain which came on shortly after our arrival; making the road at that spot, where it was very heavy in ordinary times, almost impassable for heavy wagons. The result was that the wagons had to stay there all night with Lt. Parmry, regimental transport officer, in charge. However we got them all out by 9 next morning & fed and watered & started off again for Mooi River, our next camp which we reached in pouring rain, but just managed to get our tents up before the place was very wet. Next morning we were on the move again for Estcourt, a very long and tedious march, but we did it in very good time, arriving with all the transport about 3.30 pm. There we again camped & next morning left for Colenso, the hottest & driest march we had, here we camped again & spent all the next day (Sunday) resting.

I may mention that after Mooi River we took very great military precautions in case of anything unforeseen cropping up of a dangerous nature. Here at Colenso we got the first news of anything disquieting. About midnight a telegram came for Capt. Lonsdale telling him to “Endeavour to reach Ladysmith with transport”. Previous to this we had heard a rumour that our regiment had been sent up in a great hurry to Dundee or Glencoe, so we were more or less on the alert, expecting to hear something. Well this telegram did not effect us very much at the time, it simply meant us leaving punctually & making no mistake about getting to Ladysmith the next day. However early next morning our Color-Sergeant brought in another telegram which had arrived at 2.00 am but was not given to him till then (about 5.30 am.). This telegram said “My previous wire should have meant that you should reach here by 11 am”. As soon as we got this I went out with orders from Lonsdale to get ready to start as soon as possible. This we did & after a forced march over pretty steep hills we reached Ladysmith at the right time, which was very creditable considering we had all the transport with us.

On our arrival at Ladysmith we of course found our regiment gone & it took the authorities a long time to decide where we were to be put, and to our astonishment they wanted us to go on another march to Sundays River at once, but Lonsdale said we couldnt, which was quite right, as the transport mules were rather done after such a hard march. We eventually occupied the lines our regiment had been in & the ponies were put in the RA (Royal Artillery) stables.

We, the officers, were very kindly & hospitably looked after by the Liverpool Regiment. Next morning we had to start again for Sundays River. I went over to the AGC stores to draw rations etc. our Color Sergeant having failed to get anything out of them. I found when I arrived, the place in a state of chaos & the storeman half drunk, with the result that I had to get the keys from him & issue the stores myself. I might have taken the whole place away for all he knew or seemed to care, but I had the form from the office with the amounts on, so I was alright. At last we started off for Sundays River & arrived there about 4.30 pm after a very long march.

Here we spent an awful night, with rain, wind, no tents, & had to keep a strong guard & picquets out.

Next morning we started off again for Dundee & when we got to Glencoe Pass it began to rain & it was really wonderful how the mules got the wagons up it all, but we arrived alright about 4 pm. On the way through the pass we met a Boer trekking in his wagon. With all his family & a MP came along & searched it & took his rifle from him, which he first refused to give up, but eventually had to.

I was doing advanced guard this day with my section &when I got near to Glencoe Junction, I saw on the hill behind the station a lot of men whom I couldnt make out for ages. At last I discovered it was Lt. Ferreau with his company who were there on picquet, so we passed on, to Dundee camp, which turned out to be much larger than we had thought.

There were the 18th Hussars, batteries of the RA, the Leicesters & our own regiment. We were camped beside our own.

Having got the men & horses settled I took up my own abode with Erran and Shewan in their tent.

This ended our march up from Maritzburg taking in all 9 days, arriving on the 27th having left on the 19th.

For the first couple of days we rested & cleaned up the horses & everything after the march. Then we started reconnoitering for miles round Dundee, right over to the Buffalo River & up towards Newcastle. This was the daily routine, intermingled with mounted and dismounted piquets by day and by night. Then rumour began to fly about, about the Boers massing on the border etc. On the 12th October war was declared, on the night of the 13th a rumour came that the Free Staters were advancing on Ladysmith & our regiment left that night about 1.30 by train. The next day we moved our camp to higher ground on account of the heavy rains.

The regiment returned on Saturday the 14th about 10 or 11 pm having done nothing except a long march out to meet the enemy who never turned up.

This over we went on as usual with nearly every night a piquet to be furnished somewhere & we (the Subalterns took it turn about with these picquets.

One night about the 16th or 17th the KRA were sniped at by some lawless Natal Dutch & created quite an excitement. I mention this as being perhaps the reason why certain things happened afterwards.

In the afternoon of the 19th of Oct (Thursday) orders came in to us at 3.30 to furnish a picquet of 12 men on the Landsmans Drift road in the vicinity of the cross roads leading to Landsmans Drift & Barrts Drift.

I was sent for Piquet & left camp at 4.30 pm, having given the men their dinners & had the horses fed, going round by a circuitous route to my post.

Here I arrived just at dusk and I dont know why, but somehow, I thought that something was going to happen, so I fell the men in & warned them to be very careful & alert & that if anyone advanced without answering their challenge after the third time to shoot them, unless they had very good reasons for thinking they could not be heard. After this little oration I sent out my patrols warning them that I was going to move the position of my picquet after dark. This I did, leaving a sentry (double) on the road. About 7 pm it began to pour & we were all pretty well soaked through in an hour. Just about 8 pm, my sentry on the road challenged someone who did not answer, he challenged twice, but still no answer, I rushed over to see what it was & luckily recognized Mr. Robinson, one of our intelligence officers with another man & 2 bantu scouts. It was very well I did as the next moment he would have been shot as the sentry had loaded & I had drawn my revolver ready to shoot.

I asked him why he had not answered & he said he had passed my scouts & told them who he was & thought that was alright.

He had never been given any “countersign” or anything, & if I had not happened to have known him from meeting him sometime before at polo it might have been a very serious thing. However from him I learned that a force of Boers, about 200 strong, had moved across Mulamgeni Mountain about 6 miles to my front, moving in a southerly direction. This seemed to be all he knew about them, but it was quite enough for me, as I knew that there was a commando behind the Doorneberg, so it kept me on the “gin-some”. All went quite smoothly & at 1.30 am I relieved my patrol, or rather sent out the relief.

Just after the old relief had come in & settled down, I heard horses hoofs clattering on the road some distance out in front, as if they had galloped off the veldt across the road & on to the veldt again. I turned to my sentry & asked him if he had heard it, & he said “yes! It sounded like horses”.

About 10 minutes after this I heard my patrol out in front challenging and getting no answer. They challenged three times Then they fired and I knew the show had begun as their fire was returned at once. As soon as my patrol was clear I opened fire & kept it up for a bit on the mounted figures of men in front, as soon as the enemys bullets began coming near the picquet all the ponies who were linked went off like a streak of lightening knocking down their guard & cleared.

The Boers came on, I should think there were about 20 of them & I retired slowly back up the hill towards the neck keeping off the road, which I maintained saved us, as we had heard the bullets pinging on the road to our left.

After the second retirement I found one of my men lying on the ground & asked him what was the matter. He said he was shot & I said where, he said in the arm. I tried to get him to rise and walk as we were being fired on heavily & had to retire, but he said “Oh Christ, I am shot let me die”. This shows you what a trouble he was. So I had to lift him up & got him back behind the firing line & then opened fire again on the Boers, who seemed to be increasing in number & I thought trying to get round us to cut us off. Here I suddenly spied a lot of our horses up against the line & I left the men in position with Sergeant Guilfoyle who was a rotter, but I would not trust any of the men to catch the horses & I went round got behind them & fortunately found my mare was still with them. I called to her & she knew me at once, & let me come up to her, & as the others were all tied to her I captured the lot of them. Four had gone altogether, then I returned the men on them & again tried to get Pte. Brenman who was wounded up on one & send him in, but he refused. First of all I forgot to say I sent my sergeant in on one of the horses as far as he could go to take a message to the effect that we had been attacked & were retiring on the neck, that the Boers appeared to be advancing in large numbers.

Well as Pte Brenman refused or would not stay on the horse when I put him up there was nothing to do but to carry him; so in this way we reached the neck. As soon as we got down behind the neck & knew we were safe from being cut off, I sent Pte. Brenman back with four men to carry him.

Having got them off I then mounted the four remaining men and advanced up to the neck again to try & find one of my patrols which had got lost & I thought might be hiding somewhere & that we might get him away, but as we got up on the neck again the Boers fired at us from the hill on the right of the road, & drove us back. It was just daylight by this time & we could see the Boers lining the hills so I sent another man in with a message to that effect. Then the Boers started sniping at us & eventually we had to withdraw to the sand Spruit at the edge of the town.

I could not make out what had happened or why it was no one came out to relieve or support us. I had all my men in except one who I kept with me at the Spruit. Eventually I decided to go back & find out if everything was being done & left the one man on the Spruit. As I had got a little way into town I met one of my men who was coming back with a message to say that there were two companies coming to my support.

These I met, commanded by Capts Welden and Dibley. Welden sent me to recall his advance guard to the Spruit, which by that time had advanced towards the hill. Then he sent me out with 3 or 4 men as scouts to guard his front and flanks while he was deploying his 2 companies.

I was then employed in carrying messages between Welden and Dibley when suddenly we saw some mounted men on our left flank & Welden sent me out to find out what they were, & we discovered they were the Cavalary Picquet coming in from Lehultys farm & were going up to Selana Hill to see who it was on the top when they were fired on and retired. This news I took to Weldon & then asked him if I would take my men & horses &myself in to feed &clean up ready to start out again.

Just as I got into the town the Boers pitched a shell just in the rear of the Sandspruit where Dibley had a section of his company.

As I came up through the town & got to the market square another shell pitched in the market square which made all the people scuttle away who had crowded out to see the show. Then as I got into camp there were shells flying about all over the place & having reported myself to the Adjutant, I went in search of my company. This I found had been moved in the rear of a small koppie. Having found my groom with my second charger I changed on to him and left Gipsy” with Kelly to be taken care of, & fed, & told him & McDarly, my servant, that they had better go out with their companies. I then went off and joined my company.

Just after I arrived with my company we got orders to move off with the 18th Hussars under Col. Moller to do a flank attack on the enemys right rear.

We started off & were shelled heavily by the Boers from Talana Hill, crossing the open, but eventually arrived under cover on the Sandspruit. There we halted for a few minutes &were then ordered to move on again & galloped across the open again being shelled till we arrived under cover of a small koppie on the Boers right flank. This was an ideal position for taking the enemy in the flank and rear & our company dismounted & the cavalry machine gun came up on our left. We had not been there five minutes & were just going to open fire when for some unknown reason we were taken away, by an order of Col. Moller sent by Lt. Shore AVD, he having previously taken his regiment away on account of some rumour of some Boers being down below us.

There was a thick mist & for some time we could not find the cavalry but eventually found them dismounted in the middle of the plain in the rear of the enemys position. Here we also dismounted. After a couple of minutes a party of Boers appeared on the main road on our left rear as we looked at Talana & Lonsdale told me to take my section over & capture them.

This I did extending my section fan shaped & going round them. In rear of this party of Boers was an ambulance & rear of it again another party of Boers about 6 or 8 in number. These to my astonishment I saw being charged by one of the squadrons that was then left with us, as the other two had gone I dont know where. It seemed to me an awful shame this squadron charging with drawn swords on those few men, who were quite ready to give in, but nevertheless were slashed & cut by our sabers. These men were then brought up to where other prisoners were & were dismounted, their arms taken from them & put in our medical store cart, which heaven only knows how it followed us over the country it did, The prisoners I was ordered to tie together with rope & take the braces off. Then at last we were dismounted and told to take up a position on the south of Landsmans Drift road absolutely in the open without any cover & for the first time opened fire on the enemys rear, it long range, drawing all their fire on to us, as at that time they were retiring from Talana Hill. The result was that we had very soon to leave & were driven back to another position, this also was an absolutely rotten one & consequently had to leave it in a few minutes. From there we retired to another, & this we had to leave by the Boers coming around our right flank, & we retired then on to another position, which was our last in that phase of the fight. This was a very good one & we held the Boers in check & they were actually going back, but still Moller, who was in the rear of where I was with the lead horses & could not see anything, ordered us to retire, which took sometime to be carried out as no one seemed to understand.

He first called out to retire & I who had kept galloping forward from the lead horses to see how things were getting on & saw it was alright took no notice, till he came closer & called to me individually to tell them to retire. So I galloped up to the firing line & even Lonsdale could not understand what was meant, & took sometime to order the retirement, wanting to know the reason for it. I said I did not know, but Col Moller had ordered it. This position was the only one in which the cavalry ever fired a shot & they had a splendid opportunity of manouvering round our right flank & rolling up the enemy, but no advantage was taken of it. However from this position we retired through a narrow neck over the sand river leaving the machine gun behind without anyone to look after it. A section of the RRRs had been told off as . To the machine gun, but earlier in the day it was taken away & put on the exactly opposite flank & consequently when the company was withdrawn the machine gun was left alone, eventually falling into the hands of the Boers, all the machine gun section being either killed or wounded.

Having passed through this neck we were perfectly safe from the Boers, & as we were driven off our best plan naturally was to return to camp, but in spite of all advice & remonstrations about going back either in front of or behind Inyati Mountain, we were galloped on I believe with a view to striking the Newcastle Road & eventually ran into Grasines commando who then attacked us & we were obliged to take up position, or rather Col Moller insisted on taking up a position, on a spur of Inyati Mountain. Then the Boers began to close round us & after a lot of difficulty I got our horses under cover by distributing them about behind little elevations & rocks.

This being done I took nearly all the No 3s away leaving the horses in charge of Sergeant Fletcher & as few men as possible, sufficient to hold them,& sent the others under Sergeant Caroll, to drive the Boers back from Le Mesuriers left. This we succeeded to do, but it merely had the effect of driving them back further onto the plain & they then went up another spur of Inyati Mountain & were coming around in our rear. Seeing this I at once went down &told Col. Moller & suggested that if we wanted to get away we ought to go then, & showed him the direction; but he said no, that some of his horses were shot so he could not go. At this time there were only three shot, & we could easily have managed to have taken three men on our own horses. We might, & probably would have lost some men, but it would have been better than loosing the whole lot. Then I wanted him to let me go and get help, but no, I was not let. Then the Boers shelling us, & eventually we had to surrender, which came as a surprise to us, & did not seem to surprise or worry our Commanding Officer, who seemed to take it all in the days work. I know I and the others never felt so bad in our lives, as we and all the men were prepared to fight to the end, instead of being handed over as we were to the Boers, as a present.

After a lot of counting & worrying & being stripped of our swords, revolvers & everything, & one man even wanted me to hand over my rings, but I stuck at that. After all was over we found that we had two men killed, one in the 18th Hussars killed & nine wounded altogether, & 15 18th Hussars horses more or less wounded & had to be shot.

Then we were marched off to the Boers Laage at the navigation Collieries where we were put in the dining room of a sort of store hotel, with a guard, & really were very kindly treated, though of course pretty rough. Here we spent the night, sleeping on mattresses on the floor, In the morning we were brought a lot of hot coffee, milled bread, biscuits, etc. Then about 10.30 we were driven to Dannhauser station, on buchs wagons & put in the train, & started off to Pretoria where we arrived the following morning the 22nd October (my birthday) about 12 oclock.

There we were met by an enthusiastic crowd, evidently awfully pleased at such a haul of prisoners, altogether men & officers 174. Then we were marched off to the racecourse by a circuitous route, with crowds of people to look at us. On arriving at the racecourse we were put in a tin shed place, used as a lunch room at race meetings & the men were put in the grandstand. At first we were not allowed to go outside the enclosure, but eventually we were allowed to walk about in the garden attached. Of course we had a guard round us & at night were not allowed outside the enclosure.

Then we started our prison life & I was made mess president & looked after the cooking & feeding for the officers. I also did quartermaster for the men & issued their rations every day. We did practically the same every day, walking up and down the garden, reading, feeding, & sleeping. Then on Wednesday the 1st of November, the officers and men of the 12th battalion of 1st Gloucestershire Regiment & 1st Battalion of Grenadier Fusiliers arrived. Altogether about 40 officers & 900 men. Then the work and worry began. The officers I had to feed in reliefs as I only had kit in the way of plates etc for 10, but we got through it alright. It was quite evident there was no room for all these people there, so next day they moved us from there to Staats Model School. I was sent on in front to tell off the rooms etc. and get things ready for the others when they arrived.

Then we settled down to the routine of this place which consisted in walking round & round the house & reading & sleeping & feeding. By degrees our numbers were increased by batches of officers arriving, numbering from 1 to 13, till now the total number is 103. Here we were guarded by 2 ARPs who treated us as criminals & when we complained of it nothing was done. The officers complained a good deal of their treatment altogether, but they did not seem to realize that the Boers, who called themselves civilized, certainly were not as regard to their treatment of people in our position & did not understand us. They thought if we got the same as their men did on the veldt it was all that could be expected. They did not go on the ordinary civilized formula of doing all they could to alleviate our unhappy misfortune, due generally to the fault of some senior officers & not to the individuals.

Then the next thing that occurred of note was Churchills escape. This he did, as all the world knows, but they do not know that he did it contrary to the agreement of his mates, who were to escape with him; & so instead of 20 officers getting away, as they might easily have done, as there was no one to know whether they were there or not, except myself; he was the only one from the School. After his escape all sorts of restrictions were put on, newspapers stopped etc. Then we started a system of signaling, with the people across the road. We got the latest and best wires to the Transvaal from their officials who told it to the people across the road, and they signaled it to us. Then all went on as usual. Prisoners kept arriving & we got the latest news, generally twice a day. Then Haldane, Les Mesieurir & I arranged to cut the wire to escape, but there was still one light which we could not get out. This proved to be worse than we hoped & when the lights did go out & we were half way across the yard, we found ourselves in bright light & had to double back again. Then there was nothing for it but wait till we.. But Haldane & Le M who slept in a different room from me had a hole in the floor & down this they went that same night, with the result that the next morning when they were missed, they all thought that they had escaped under cover of darkness by the wires being cut. Well there they stayed for 3 weeks & I fed them every day. Then on March15th we were moved to the tin shed on the north of the town. Here we did much the same as before, but we had more outdoor room & played cricket of sorts & one day had sports.

Then the last week of our captivity was one of suspense. We were first told on the 31st that the British would be in tomorrow & we would be released. This proved to be a fallacy as they did not come for a week & that week we spent all day watching the hills round for our troops, and then on the 4th June we saw shells bursting on the hills all round, & one lydati gun dropped shells right over the hills. Then about 4 am on the 5th Churchill & the Duke of Marlborough galloped up. We saw them coming & rushed out en masse seized the guard & put them inside & I climbed up the flagstaff with a Union Jack in my teeth & tied it on at the head. This was made by Burrowes in prison & was the first one over Pretoria.

Then we went down the town. Next day the men arrived & we were made into provisional battalions. We were after that sent down to Irene to guard the bridge that had been blown up, & stayed there about 8 weeks . Then we went down to Kroonstad, & found our own men & remounted, & went round the Free State after de Wet. Then we came up to Pretoria & went north, then back again & out west with Ian Hamilton to Commando Neck on his way to Rustenburg, & the rest of the state & of Hickmans force, to which we belonged went to Irene. There I joined them about the middle of August & have been here ever since.

(Transcribed) 6/11/00

Two of the handwritten pages from Cecil’s diary, the first in which Winston Churchill’s escape is described, and the second in which Cecil raised the Union Jack, are shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4. Images of the original handwritten pages from Cecil Grimshaw’s diary. The upper page includes the record of Winston Churchill’s escape, and the lower page describes Cecil’s raising of the Union Jack. Thanks go to Richard Grimshaw for providing these images.

Raising of the Union Jack Over Pretoria When the Prisoners Were Freed

The dramatic event of the freeing of the prisoners of war in 1900, described in Cecil’s diary (second-to-last paragraph above) was recorded in a sketch that included a depiction of Cecil’s raising of the Union Jack. A portion of the image is shown in Figure 5. Hilary Tulloch, who provided the image, describes its origin as follows (Figure 5 is the “first picture” referenced):

The three pictures are all from: Second Supplement to the Illustrated London News, July 21, 1900. The artist was Mr. Melton Prior… The first picture that I sent is just an enlargement of part of one of Mr. Prior’s drawings. The writing at the top, including ‘Cecil Grimshaw’ is the hand of Bernard Peter Alderson, nephew of Cecil Grimshaw’s wife.

Figure 5. Image of Cecil Grimshaw raising the British flag when the prison camp at Pretoria was freed in 1900.

Cecil Grimshaw’s Military Experiences As Summarized by Niall Brannigan

Niall Brannigan, after noting the “Grimshaw Origins” website, sent a very interesting e-mail on January 3, 2003 regarding Cecil Grimshaw’s record in the Boer War and World War I; the e-mail is shown below.

(January 3, 2003)



I’m an amateur historian of several of the Irish Regiments of the British Army (Royal Irish Regiment; Royal Irish Fusiliers and Royal Irish Rifles) during the Boer and Great Wars and stumbled across your website while searching for data on one Captain Robert J. Rees-Mogg of the Royal Irish Regiment…Roly Grimshaw’s diary extracts mention having met Rees-Mogg in Cairo in August 1914, the latter was then attached to the Egyptian Army as Military Secretary to the Sirdar, General Sir ‘Francis’ Reginald Wingate (who was also Governor-General of Sudan).


I thought I should pass on the following facts which I trust will prove of interest to your family research:


* The brother of Roly Grimshaw cited as a prisoner of war in Pretoria when his father, Dr. Thomas W. Grimshaw, died in January 1900 should be Lieutenant Cecil Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw – not C.T.T. Grimshaw as on your webpage. He was then with 2nd Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers (RDF) and happens to have been incarcerated with a young Winston Churchill! Churchill, serving as war correspondent for the Morning Post, was captured with a multitude of British troops when their armoured train was ambushed & derailed south of Chievely Station in Natal on 15 November 1899. Lieut Cecil Grimshaw was either already at the officers’ POW compound (a converted State Model School) in Pretoria when Churchill and other prisoners arrived on 3 December 1899, or may in fact have arrived together with Churchill, meaning he was captured during the Battles of Glencoe/Dundee/Talana Hill (20 Oct), Lombard’s Kop (30 Oct), the overall retreat to, and defence, of Ladysmith, or even possibly the armoured train ambush that Churchill was captured in, for there were three sections of a company of the 2nd Battalion RDF on that train. The Natal Field Force’s South African War Casualty Roll lists Cecil as having been taken POW and later released, but does not state when or where he was captured…


In his semi-autobiographical work London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, Churchill states: “A very energetic and clever young officer of the Dublin Fusiliers, Lieutenant Grimshaw, undertook the task of managing the mess, and when he was assisted by another subaltern – Lieutenant Southey, of the Royal Irish Fusiliers [Charles Elliott Southey, born 18 Oct 1873; commissioned into the Royal Irish Fusiliers 13 Aug 1892; promoted to Lieutenant 11 May 1895; promoted to Captain 24 Feb 1900 and by July of that year had either escaped or was exchanged, for he was then serving as ADC to an unspecified Major General in the Natal Field Force (as per Quarterly Army List, October 1901)] – this became an exceedingly well-conducted concern. In spite of the high prices prevailing in Pretoria – prices which were certainly not lowered for our benefit – the somewhat meagre rations which the government allowed were supplemented, until we lived, for three shillings a day, quite as well as any regiment on service.” Churchill recounts quite a different story for the other ranks [enlisted men], who were herded into the fenced-in Pretoria racecourse and treated like cattle…[originally published in May 1900, I have a reprint of London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, which was combined with his sequel book Ian Hamilton’s March, printed in October 1900, into: The Boer War: London to Ladysmith via Pretoria and Ian Hamilton’s March, Leo Cooper, London, 1989, and the above quote appears on page 67]


Churchill wasted no time, and nine days later, on 12 December, he escaped from the POW Camp. One other officer planned the escape with him, but did not make it out, and since that man was still a POW when Churchill went to print with his book in May 1900, he did not mention his name – one can’t help but wonder if it might have been Cecil!


Cecil was promoted to Captain on 14 July 1904 and on 28 Dec 1911 was appointed Adjutant of 1st Battalion, RDF, a position he still held when the Great War erupted, the Battalion then being garrisoned at Madras, India. Cecil was then already in receipt of the DSO (presumably for actions in the Boer War). The Battalion sailed for the UK, where it joined the 29th Division, and on 25 April 1915 landed at V Beach, Cape Helles, Gallipoli. Cecil was one of the few officers to survive the horrible slaughter of 25 April, as the Battalion and most of 86th Brigade came ashore via the scuttled collier River Clyde. However, he was killed the following day leading troops in breaching the Turkish wire in front of Sedd el Bahr Fort and was posthumously mentioned in despatches. He was aged 40 and left a widow, Agnes Violet, living at ‘Grattons’, Dunsfold, Godalming, Surrey. He is buried in V Beach Cemetery, Gallipolli, grave F. 11 [ref: Monthly Army List, January 1915; Officers Died in the Great War (CD-Rom database); Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website; Supplement to Irish Life, 14/5/1915; Official History of the War: Gallipoli, Vol I, p. 277].


* Ref. the eldest surving sibling, Ewing Wrigley Grimshaw: the outbreak of the war saw him as a Major in the 62nd Punjabis; on 10 November 1914 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and appointed 2nd in command (his commander being Lieutenant Colonel Stannus Geoghegan [formerly of the Royal Irish Regiment], who would rise to the rank of Brigadier General and later write the authoritative official history of the Royal Irish Regiment). He was killed in action on 21 January 1916 during a failed brigade attack on Hanna, in the vicinity of Kut-al-Amara Mesopotamia, and is buried in Amara War Cemetery, Iraq, grave XIX.C.17 (apparently having been reinterred there in post-war years with consolidation of cemeteries) [ref. Monthly Army List Jan 1915; Officers Died in the Great War (CD-Rom database); Commonwealth War Graves Commission website; Supplement to Irish Life, 31 March 1916; Official History of the War: Mesopotamia, Vol II, pp. 267-77].




Niall Brannigan


Heidelberg, Germany

Background of the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I

The following summaries of Gallipoli and the Dardanelles Campaign are from Encyclopedia Brtannica Online.

Gallipoli. Turkish Gelibolu , historically Callipolis seaport and town, European Turkey. It lies on a narrow peninsula where the Dardanelles opens into the Sea of Marmara, 126 miles (203 km) west-southwest of Istanbul. An important Byzantine fortress, it was the first Ottoman conquest (c. 1356) in Europe and was maintained as a naval base because of its strategic importance for the defense of Istanbul. It was also a key transit station on the trade routes from Rumelia (Ottoman possessions in the Balkans) to Anatolia. In World War I , Gallipoli was the scene of determined Turkish resistance to the Allied forces during the Dardanelles Campaign, in which most of the town was destroyed. A storehouse of the Byzantine emperor Justinian (6th century), a 14th-century square castle attributed to the Ottoman sultan Bayezid I, and mounds known as the tombs of Thracian kings still stand. The new town, developed as a fishing and sardine-canning centre, is connected by road and steamer service with Istanbul and is also linked by road with Edirne. Pop. (1990 prelim.) 18,052.

“Gallipoli” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=36595 [Accessed May 24, 2003].

Dardanelles Campaign. Also called Gallipoli Campaign (February 1915 – January 1916), in World War I, an Anglo-French operation against Turkey, intended to force the 38-mile- (61-km-) long Dardanelles channel and to occupy Constantinople. Plans for such a venture were considered by the British authorities between 1904 and 1911, but military and naval opinion was against it. When war between the Allies and Turkey began early in November 1914, the matter was reexamined and classed as a hazardous, but possible, operation.

On January 2, 1915, in response to an appeal by Grand Duke Nicholas, commanding the Russian armies, the British government agreed to stage a demonstration against Turkey to relieve pressure on the Russians on the Caucasus front. The Dardanelles was selected as the place, a combined naval and military operation being strongly supported by the then first lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill . On January 28 the Dardanelles committee decided on an attempt to force the straits by naval action alone, using mostly obsolete warships too old for fleet action. On February 16 this decision was modified, as it was agreed that the shores of the Dardanelles would have to be held if the fleet passed through. For this purpose a large military force under General Sir Ian Hamilton was assembled in Egypt, the French authorities also providing a small contingent. The naval bombardment began on February 16 but was halted by bad weather and not resumed until February 25. Demolition parties of marines landed almost unopposed, but bad weather again intervened. On March 18 the bombardment was continued; however, after three battleships had been sunk and three others damaged, the navy abandoned its attack, concluding that the fleet could not succeed without military help.

Troop transports assembled off the island of Lemnos, and landings began on the Gallipoli Peninsula at two places early on April 25, 1915, at Cape Helles (29th British and Royal Naval divisions) and at ANZAC beaches (Australian and New Zealand troops). A French brigade landed on the Anatolian coast opposite, at Kum Kale, but was later withdrawn. Small beachheads were secured with difficulty, the troops at ANZAC being held up by Turkish reinforcements under the redoubtable Mustafa Kemal, later to became famous as Atatürk. Large British and Dominion reinforcements followed, yet little progress was made. On August 6 another landing on the west coast, at Suvla Bay, took place; after good initial progress the assault was halted.

In May 1915 the first sea lord, Admiral Lord Fisher, had resigned because of differences of opinion over the operation. By September 1915 it was clear that without further large reinforcements there was no hope of decisive results, and the authorities at home decided to recall Hamilton to replace him by Lieutenant General Sir Charles Monro. The latter recommended the withdrawal of the military forces and abandonment of the enterprise, advice that was confirmed in November by the secretary of state for war, Lord Kitchener, when he visited the peninsula. This difficult operation was carried out by stages and was successfully completed early on January 9, 1916.

Altogether, the equivalent of some 16 British, Australian, New Zealand, Indian, and French divisions took part in the campaign. British Commonwealth casualties, apart from heavy losses among old naval ships, were 213,980. The campaign was a success only insofar as it attracted large Turkish forces away from the Russians. The plan failed to produce decisive results because of poor military leadership in some cases, faulty tactics including complete lack of surprise, the inexperience of the troops, inadequate equipment, and an acute shortage of shells.

The campaign had serious political repercussions. It gave the impression throughout the world that the Allies were militarily inept. Before the evacuation had been decided, H.H. Asquith ‘s Liberal administration was superseded by his coalition government. Churchill, the chief protagonist of the venture, resigned from the government and went to command an infantry battalion in France. In the end the campaign hastened Asquith’s resignation, and his replacement as prime minister by David Lloyd George, in December 1916.

“Dardanelles Campaign” Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=29224 [Accessed May 24, 2003].

A map showing the location of Gallipoli is shown in Figure 6. The movements of British forces in the Gallipoli campaign are shown in Figure 7.

Figure 6. Map showing the British attack on Gallipoli Peninsula. Note that Gallipoli forms the north boundary of the Dardanelles.

Source: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWWgallipoli.htm

Figure 7. Detailed Map showing Allied (British) landings on Gallipoli Peninsula.

Source: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/Gallery/Anzac/galli-poli/back-ground.htm 

Cecil Grimshaw at Gallipoli

Richard Grimshaw provided an e-mail with the following summary of Cecil’s background and death in action at Gallipoli.

My grandfather was killed in Gallipoli.

Grimshaw, Maj. Cecil Thomas Wrigley, D.S.O. 1st Bn. Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Killed in action 26th April, 1915. Age 40. Son of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw C.B.; husband of Violet Agnes Grimshaw, of “Grattons”, Dunsfold, Godalming, Surrey.

“V” Beach Cemetery, Helles

Cemetery Index Number G1. 15.

“V” Beach is a sandy strip some 9 metres wide and 320 metres long, backed along almost the whole of it’s length by a low sandy escarpment about 3 metres high, where the ground almost falls nearly sheer down to the beach.”* Behind it is a concave grassy slope rising (at first gradually) to the cliff edge between Sedd el Bahr village and Cape Helles. The cemetery stands at the bottom of the grass slope, almost touching the sand.

The landing at “V” Beach, in the early morning of the 25th April, 1915, was to be made by boats containing three companies of the first Royal Dublin Fusiliers, followed by the collier “River Clyde” with the rest of the Dublins, the first Royal Munster Fusiliers, half the second Hampshire Regiment, and other troops. The place was very strongly fortified, and during the 25th the landing was partially carried out at the cost of very heavy casualties. On the morning of the 26th, Colonel Doughty-Wylie and Captain Walford, who were killed during the fight, had led the survivors on the beach to the capture of Sedd el Bahr village and the Old Castle above it.

On the evening of the 26th, the main body of the French Corps began to land at “V” Beach, and after the advance on the 27th the front line was nearly three kilometres beyond it. It was used as the French base during the summer.

The cemetery was begun and ended, so far as the burials in 1915 are concerned, during April and May; but after the Armistice 13 graves were concentrated into Row O. It covers an area of 2,045 square metres, and it contains the graves of 500 sailors and soldiers from the United Kingdom. The unnamed graves are 480 in number, but special memorials are erected to 196 officers and men (nearly all belonging to the units which landed on the 25th April), known or believed to be buried among them.

The Register records particulars of 216 British burials.

*Sir Ian Hamilton’s Despatch of the 20th May, 1915

Helles is the Southernmost of the three areas into which the fighting on Gallipoli, and the cemeteries in the Peninsula, are divided. The general course of the fighting there in 1915 will be described in the Register of the Helles Memorial.

Skew Bridge Cemetery is 2 kilometres North-East of Sedd el Bahr, between the roads to Krithia and Kilid Bahr. It was named from a wooden “skew” bridge carrying the Krithia road across the Dere, about 45 metres away on the West. It is just behind the centre of the line occupied by the Allied forces, across the toe of the Peninsula, on the 27th April, 1915. It was made after the Second Battle of Krithia (6th -8th May), and used throughout the occupation: but the original cemetery contained only 53 graves (Plot I, less row E). The remainder of the graves were brought after the Armistice from the small cemeteries known as Orchard Gully, R.N.D., Backhouse Post and Romanos Well, or (in the last three rows of Plot III) from the battlefields.

The cemetery now covers an area of 2,193 square metres, and it contains the graves of 124 dead from the United Kingdom, five from Australia, two from New Zealand, one from India, and 345 whose unit in our forces could not be ascertained. The majority of the graves are probably those of sailors and Marines of the Royal Naval Division. The unnamed graves number 351, and special memorials record the names of 125 men from the United Kingdom and four from Australia, known or believed to be buried among them.

The Register records particulars of 477 British and Dominion burials.

Photographs of the Gallipoli Campaign

Figures 8 to 11 below are from the Internet and show various aspects of the Gallipoli Campaign.

Figure 8. Landing at Anzac Cove, Gallipoli, 25 April 1915. Photograph by L.E. Tatton

Source: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/Gallery/Anzac/galli-poli/landing-pic.htm 

Figure 9. New Zealand and Australian soldiers landing at Anzac Cove, 25 April 1915.

Source: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/Gallery/Anzac/galli-poli/landing-pic.htm 

Figure 10. British troops advance at Gallipoli, 1915

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/war/wwone/middle_east_02.shtml

Figure 11. Evacuation by boat of the wounded from Anzac Cove

Source: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/Gallery/Anzac/galli-poli/back-ground.htm 

Cecil Grimshaw’s Origins

Cecil was the son of Thomas Wrigley and Sarah “Settie” Elizabeth (Thomas) Grimshaw, who are described on a companion webpage. Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw practiced medicine in Dublin until 1879, when he was appointed as Registrar-General for Ireland. During his years of medical practice, he investigated the causes and distribution of water-borne diseases in Dublin and authored a pioneering public health paper in 1872. A photo of Thomas, Settie and their family is shown in Figure 12 (Cecil is shown 6th from left in the photo).

Figure 12. Family photo of Thomas and his family. From left to right, the family members are: Cyril, Ernest, Emma, Roland (above), Clayton (below), Cecil (above), Sarah Elizabeth (Settie), Thomas Wrigley, Gladys, Herbert (Bertie), and Ewing. Judging from the apparent ages of the children, photo taken about 1888.

Cecil Grimshaw’s younger brother, Roland (“Roly”) also fought in World I and kept a detailed diary of his World War I experiences with the Indian Cavalry on the Western front in 1914-15. The diary was subsequently published1 with the assistance of his daughter, Kathleen. Captain Roly Grimshaw, and his diary, are the subject of a companion webpage.

Where is Cecil Grimshaw Buried?

The following information on the cemetery where Cecil is buried is from the Somme Heritage Center webpage (http://www.irishsoldier.org/skew.html).

Cemetery Index Number G1. 14.

Helles is the Southernmost of the three areas into which the fighting on Gallipoli, and the cemeteries in the Peninsula, are divided. The general course of the fighting there in 1915 will be described in the Register of the Helles Memorial.

Skew Bridge Cemetery is 2 kilometres North-East of Sedd el Bahr, between the roads to Krithia and Kilid Bahr. It was named from a wooden “skew” bridge carrying the Krithia road across the Dere, about 45 metres away on the West. It is just behind the centre of the line occupied by the Allied forces, across the toe of the Peninsula, on the 27th April, 1915. It was made after the Second Battle of Krithia (6th -8th May), and used throughout the occupation: but the original cemetery contained only 53 graves (Plot I, less row E). The remainder of the graves were brought after the Armistice from the small cemeteries known as Orchard Gully, R.N.D., Backhouse Post and Romanos Well, or (in the last three rows of Plot III) from the battlefields.

The cemetery now covers an area of 2,193 square metres, and it contains the graves of 124 dead from the United Kingdom, five from Australia, two from New Zealand, one from India, and 345 whose unit in our forces could not be ascertained. The majority of the graves are probably those of sailors and Marines of the Royal Naval Division. The unnamed graves number 351, and special memorials record the names of 125 men from the United Kingdom and four from Australia, known or believed to be buried among them.

The Register records particulars of 477 British and Dominion burials.

“V” Beach Cemetery, Helles

Cemetery Index Number G1. 15.

“V” Beach is “a sandy strip some 9 metres wide and 320 metres long, backed along almost the whole of it’s length by a low sandy escarpment about 3 metres high, where the ground almost falls nearly sheer down to the beach.”* Behind it is a concave grassy slope rising (at first gradually) to the cliff edge between Sedd el Bahr village and Cape Helles. The cemetery stands at the bottom of the grass slope, almost touching the sand.

The landing at “V” Beach, in the early morning of the 25th April, 1915, was to be made by boats containing three companies of the first Royal Dublin Fusiliers, followed by the collier “River Clyde” with the rest of the Dublins, the first Royal Munster Fusiliers, half the second Hampshire Regiment, and other troops. The place was very strongly fortified, and during the 25th the landing was partially carried out at the cost of very heavy casualties. On the morning of the 26th, Colonel Doughty-Wylie and Captain Walford, who were killed during the fight, had led the survivors on the beach to the capture of Sedd el Bahr village and the Old Castle above it.

On the evening of the 26th, the main body of the French Corps began to land at “V” Beach, and after the advance on the 27th the front line was nearly three kilometres beyond it. It was used as the French base during the summer.

The cemetery was begun and ended, so far as the burials in 1915 are concerned, during April and May; but after the Armistice 13 graves were concentrated into Row O. It covers an area of 2,045 square metres, and it contains the graves of 500 sailors and soldiers from the United Kingdom. The unnamed graves are 480 in number, but special memorials are erected to 196 officers and men (nearly all belonging to the units which landed on the 25th April), known or believed to be buried among them.

The Register records particulars of 216 British burials.

*Sir Ian Hamilton’s Despatch of the 20th May, 1915

The Register Of The Graves


Grimshaw, Maj. Cecil Thomas Wrigley, D.S.O. 1st Bn. Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Killed in action 26th April, 1915. Age 40. Son of Thomas Wrigley Grimshaw C.B.; husband of Violet Agnes Grimshaw, of “Grattons”, Dunsfold, Godalming, Surrey. F.11.

Additional News Coverage from Hilary Tulloch

Hilary has in her possession copies of a number of newspaper articles on several topics related to Cecil Grimshaw. These are shown on a companion webpage, starting with a diary of the Pretoria Prison experience prepared by Captain Lonsdale. A second article is a newspaper report by Winston Churchill. A third entry is a series of articles transcribed by Hilary.

John Elisha Grimshaw, Victoria Cross Recipient for Valor at Gallipoli

On April 25, 1915, the day before Cecil Grimshaw was killed on V Beach, another Grimshaw fought at nearby W (West) Beach at Gallipoli and received the Victoria Cross for his valor in action. John Elisha Grimshaw fought on nearby W Beach in the landings at Helles and was one of the “Six VCs Before Breakfast”. He is the subject of a companion webpage and is also briefly described on the Abram Grimshaws webpage.

John Elisha Grimshaw was descended from one of the lines of Grimshaws at Abram, near Wigan, in Lancashire. He was born in 1893 and was employed as a carpenter at Cross & Tetley’s Collieries in the Wigan coalfield when he enlisted in June 1912. He died in London in 1980.


1Wakefield, Col. J., and Lt. Col. J.M. Weippert, eds., 1986, Indian Cavalry Officer 1914-15 – Captain Roly Grimshaw: Tunbridge Wells, Kent, England, D.J. Costello, 224 p.

Webpage posted May 2003. Updated July 2003 with additions from Richard Grimshaw. Updated February 2004 with additions on John Elisha Grimshaw. Updated with additional information and photo of John Elisha Grimshaw.