For Armistice Day 2005 - The Gallipoli Three
In the nintieth anniversary year of the Gallipoli campaign, we remember the three British men shot at dawn whilst serving on the peninsula:
Private Thomas Davis of 1 Royal Munster Fusiliers, went missing for three hours whilst on sentry duty at his unit headquarters on 21 June 1915. At court martial Davis stated that a stomach complaint had forced him to the latrine. Unconvinced, his superiors found him guilty of leaving his post and he was executed on Gully Beach at 5 am on 2 July, aged 21.
Private Harry Salter was twenty-four years old and serving with 6 Battalion East Lancashire Regiment when he met a similar fate on 11 December 1915. A volunteer from Bridgewater, Somerset, Salter had been court-martialled and found guilty of desertion, his execution taking place a week before the battalion was evacuated from Gallipoli.
Sergeant John Robins of 5 Battalion Wiltshire Regiment was a Regular with a virtually clean record who had served in the tropics for a number of years. Whilst the battalion was based at Suvla, he was charged with disobedience, having twice refused to go on reconaissance when ordered. Like Private Davis, Robins claimed illness prevented his following orders:
On the night in question I was not well enough to go out. I was eight and a half years in India where I suffered a good deal from fever and ague, and I still get fits of this. I had been suffering from this for several days off and on, and the wet weather had greatly affected me. I have been out here for nearly five months and this is the first trouble I have ever been in. I have always done my duty. This would not have happened if I had been quite well. At the time I did not realise the seriousness of what I did
Robins was condemned to death - and reduced to the rank of private. Unusually precise details were given for the location of the execution, to be carried out:
at a point on the beach 400 yards North of the mouth of the Gully Ravine.
The soldier was told of his fate on New Years Day 1916 and shot at 8 am on 2 January. The battalion left the peninsula a week after the execution.
John Robins' name was added to the Roll of Honour for 5 Wiltshire Regiment in November 2004
© Copright EFE 2005
Photographs by kind permission of Bob Pike and Mike Wilmot