Lieutenant Commander Martin Nasmith VC, aboard the British submarine E11: his son, Sir James Dunbar-Nasmith, is among the descendants of Gallipoli veterans travelling to Turkey this week for the Centenary (Photo: courtesy of Sir James Dunbar-Nasmith)

Gallipoli: Veterans' relations going to Turkey for Centenary tribute

Posted on on 21 April 2015
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Fifteen descendants of veterans who took part in the Gallipoli campaign are following in the footsteps of their forebears to  Turkey this week to attend the commemorations marking the centenary of the Allied landings in 1915. CN Deputy Editor, Peter Alhadeff, takes up their story

The group from the UK, all members of the Gallipoli Association, will take part in the Commonwealth and Ireland remembrance service being held on Friday April 24th at the CWGC's Helles Memorial on the Gallipoli peninsula.

Among them is Lyn Edmonds, from Godmanchester in Cambridgeshire. She's tracing the journey of her grandfather, Private Benjamin Hurt, who went ashore on the first day of the attack, April 25th 1915.

Despite being wounded a few weeks later, he stayed to fight on until January 1916. 

Mrs Edmonds said: ‘It will be a privilege and emotional experience to be there in April to remember my grandfather exactly 100 years later and on the very spot where he landed under fire. He was so fortunate to have survived the terrible campaign and I will naturally be thinking of his many friends who did not return."

Gallipoli veteran Benjamin Hurt (Photo: courtesy of Lyn Edmonds)

Benjamin Hurt, from Derbyshire, had joined up at the age of 17 in 1909 and fought at Gallipoli with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Of the 1,012 members of his battalion who landed that April only 90 or so remained on the peninsula when the unit was withdrawn early the following year. 

Private Hurt went on to fight in further bloody battles, including the Somme, and survived the war. He later married, raised a family and continued his army service until his retirement in 1933. 

It's likely that he would have known Private Thomas Toohey who was one of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers killed on April 25th. Jon Toohey from Sandhurst, Berkshire, will be visiting Gallipoli for the first time to see where his great uncle died.

Another of the descendants, John Hartshorn from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, says: "My very existence is due to my great grandfather surviving from April 29th when he went ashore at Anzac Cove, to August 22nd when dysentery finally got the better of him."

John's great grandfather was Able Seaman Thomas Otto Hartshorn, who served with the Royal Naval Division's Nelson Battalion.

Two of the group travelling to Gallipoli are descended from veterans who won the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for gallantry in warfare. Sir James Dunbar-Nasmith, from Findhorn, Moray, will be remembering the exploits of his father, Martin Nasmith, commander of the British submarine  E11.

Lieutenant Commander Nasmith led three patrols through the Dardanelles into the Sea of Marmara and Constantinople harbour in the course of which he sank 97 Turkish ships including the battleship Haradin Barbarossa, blew up a railway viaduct, and had an engagement with a troop of Turkish cavalry on a cliff.

Sarah Kellam, from Taunton, Somerset will be honouring her grandfather, Lieutenant William John Symons, who served with the 7th Battalion Australian Imperial Forces (Anzac) and was awarded the Victoria Cross for defending Jacob’s Post on his own in the thick of the fighting during the August offensive at the Battle of Lone Pine.

Lieutenant William Symons VC (Photo: courtesy of Sarah Kellam)

All 15 descendants say they'll be remembering not only their relations, but also the many thousands of men from Britain and its allies who fought and died at Gallipoli.

Captain Christopher Fagan, Chairman of the Gallipoli Association said: ‘It is a great honour for the Gallipoli Association to have been invited by the UK government to assist with this opportunity for British descendants to attend the service at Cape Helles."

Click here for a Centenary News round-up of Gallipoli 100th anniversary events being held worldwide on April 25th 2015. 

Information supplied by Lyn Edmonds/The Gallipoli Association

Photos of Benjamin Hurt, courtesy of Lyn Edmonds; Lieutenant Commander Martin Nasmith VC, courtesy of Sir James Dunbar-Nasmith; Lieutenant William Symons, courtesy of Sarah Kellam