Archive for November, 2008

One of Ushaw Moor’s Fallen

November 17, 2008 Leave a comment

37 Years old Richard Hope [a winding engineman at Ushaw Moor colliery] and his wife 39 years old Rachael, welcomed their son Joseph into the world of 1893. They already had three children, George [14] John Thomas [8] and William [6]. Daughter Lavinia was destined to arrive four years later. Their home was 2 Temperance Terrace and today the Post Office adjoins it.

I possess two photographs of a very young Joseph and he looks both thoughtful and serious in both of them. In one he poses as a soldier and wears an authentic looking soldier’s cap and badge. He holds a toy rifle by his side.

Time moves on and in very early 1915 he joined the Royal Marine Light Infantry – Portsmouth Battalion.

British troops, including Joseph, began their invasion of the Turkish peninsular at Gallipoli on 25/04/1915. They settled in around Cape Helles and were deployed to assist the New Zealand and Australian soldiers that were already there.

The Gallipoli campaign was fought by Commonwealth soldiers and French forces with a goal of forcing Turkey out of the war. The plan was to break the deadlock of the Western Front in Belgium and France. It was hoped that success would open up a supply route to Russia.

On 02/05/1915 the Marines had been held in reserve for an attack by the Anzac forces; their plan was to capture high ground near Pope’s Hill on the following day. At about 2.30am, Joseph and his colleagues were ordered forward – but they did not realize that the Anzac attack had already failed – that troops were falling back. Joseph, the brave and lovely lad from Ushaw Moor, barely out of his teens, was part of a charge up Razor-Back Hill. It was there that they met the withering Turkish machine guns; Joseph was one of the many killed and in addition many were injured.

Charles Bean in his book – The Story of Anzac – indicated that many of those marines were raw, untrained and barely 18 years of age. Joseph was not much older than them. Some had but a few weeks of training; mostly only a few months.

The poet Rupert Brooke’s poem – The Soldier – seems so apt and the first few lines provide what I wish to say:

‘If I should die, think only this of me;

That there’s some corner of a foreign field

That is forever England’.

Wilf Bell