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Major L. Edge, Lancashire Fusiliers

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Major L. Edge, Lancashire Fusiliers

1914-15 Star (Capt. L. Edge. Lan. Fus.); British War and Victory Medals (Major L. Edge.); Territorial Decoration, G.V.R., with integral top riband bar, mounted as worn.

Louis Edge was born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1891 and was commissioned into the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers (Territorial Force).

He served during the Great War as a Captain in Gallipoli from 5 May 1915 (his Medal Index Card erroneously gives the date of entry in Gallipoli as 11 September 1914).

Promoted Major, he was awarded his Territorial Decoration in 1925 (London Gazette 5 May 1925).

After a period spent in the canal defences, the battalion embarked on SS Nile at Alexandria between 1 and 6 May 1915 for the Gallipoli Peninsula and disembarked at ‘W’ Beach at Cape Helles, where Allied troops had landed a few days earlier. The Lancashire Fusilier Brigade was the first part of the division to go into action, temporarily attached to the 29th Division for the Second Battle of Krithia on 6 May. The 1/7th supported an attack by the 1/6th Bn and the following day moved forward through the captured line, but was forced to retire after two attempts to take Gurkha Bluff. The battalion was relieved at sundown.

The Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade then reverted to the East Lancashire Division, which later that month was numbered as the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, when the brigade became the 125th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Brigade. For the next three weeks there was little actual fighting, and the brigade occupied part of the Redoubt Line. On 4 June it took part in the Third Battle of Krithia, where the 1/7th moved up from divisional reserve to join the fighting, but was more heavily engaged on 6 June in fending off Turkish counter-attacks. The battalion suffered 179 casualties.

During July the battalion took turns in holding the front and support lines, apart from a brief relief (8–13 July) to the island of Imbros. On 4 August it moved into the Redoubt Line and on 7 August to the front line at Krithia Road to take part in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard. The fighting was ‘a singularly brainless and suicidal type of warfare’, and virtually nothing was achieved in any of these attacks, at the cost of heavy casualties. Two brigades of 42nd Division attacked on the second day of the Krithia Vineyard battle: ‘By nightfall both brigades were back in their old lines, with the exception of some parties of the 6th and 7th Lancashire Fusiliers, who defended the Vineyard against repeated Turkish attacks until, after a bitter and pointless struggle during the following five days, a trench dug across the centre of this worthless tract of scrub became the British front line’. The battalion war diary notes that the men were ‘thoroughly worn out; and that out of a strength of 410 NCOs and men, only 139 returned when they were relieved. Three Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to members of the battalion.

After this failure, the Helles front was shut down and no further attacks were made. The 1/7th Bn took turns in the front and reserve lines at Gully Ravine, Gully Beach and Gully Spur, losing several men buried when the Turks exploded a mine at Cawley’s Crater. In October the 1/7th was temporarily amalgamated with the 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers due to casualties and sickness.

Throughout the first two weeks of December, the 1/7th Bn dug and sniped its way forwards by slow and steady stages. On 14 December the 1/7th was occupying Cawley’s Crater when a patrol detected an enemy mine-shaft at the Gridiron, just 6 yards from the battalion’s position. The following day a party led by Capt A.W. Boyd successfully laid and exploded a charge in the enemy mine-shaft. A decision had been made to evacuate the Peninsula, beginning on 16 December. A small operation was laid on at the Gridiron for that day as a diversion. The attacking force under Capt Boyd was drawn from 1/7th Bn, supported by 1/2nd West Lancashire Field Company, Royal Engineers and by 1/6th Bn behind using catapults to throw grenades. A mine was exploded on the far side of the crater, blowing in the Turkish trench and extending the crater, and the storming party occupied the trench and advanced some way along it in both directions, erecting barricades. That evening a Turkish counter-attack drove them out, but Boyd organised a fresh attack, supported by a bombing team from the Sussex Yeomanry, and regained the position within 15 minutes – the bombing teams had to be restrained from penetrating too far down the trenches in pursuit. The VIII Corps commander (Lt-Gen Sir Francis Davies) officially named the position ‘Boyd’s Crater’.

The 1/7th Bn moved down to ‘W’ Beach on 27 December and sailed aboard the SS Ermine for Mudros and then to Egypt, landing at Alexandria on 15 January 1916. Its battle casualties for the Gallipoli campaign had been 7 officers and 242 other ranks, but the numbers hospitalised for sickness were considerably higher.

With copied research including a group photographic image of the officers of the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, including the recipient.

Condition – VF