Researched and written by Anne Wright
L/Cpl R S Hammerton
1ST Battalion, County of London Regiment (Middlesex Hussars)
Killed in action, 21.8.1915
Reginald Sydney Hammerton’s connection to Weybridge is unknown. The Old Crown Inn in Thames Street was managed by Mrs Ada Hammerton, a widow, before and during the war years, but no family relationship has been established. His older brother, Charles, lived in Teddington in 1901 and in Twickenham ten years later, but the family hailed from Lincolnshire. Reginald’s parents, Charles Berry and Harriet Emma (nee Johnson) came from Firsby in that county; they married in 1870. They had three children: Harriet, born c.1871, Charles Berry, born c.1872 and Reginald, the youngest by many years, born towards the end of 1890 in Spilsby. He was baptised there on 7 January 1891. Charles Snr. was a bricklayer and the family lived in Back Lane, Spilsby at the time of Reginald’s birth and were still there ten years later. By 1911 he had left home and worked on a private estate as the estate agent’s assistant.
Reginald’s service number indicates that he enlisted between 11 August and 14 September 1914. In August his battalion, the Middlesex Hussars became part of the 2nd Mounted Division and in May 1915 joined the 4th London Mounted Brigade. He and his comrades had arrived at Alexandria on 28 April and by mid May the London Mounted Brigade was near Ismailia focused on defending the Suez Canal. They remained there until 13 August when as dismounted troops they travelled to Alexandria and sailed the next day to take part in the Allied Campaign on the Gallipoli Peninsula (Turkey).With stalemate on the Western Front it was decided to open another front here to take pressure off the Russians and ultimately to knock Turkey out of the war. Reginald’s battalion reached Mudros on 17 August and landed at ‘A’ Beach, Suvla Bay (Gallipoli) that night. Three days later they moved south and took up reserve positions at Lala Baba.
The Allies needed to break out from Suvla Bay and Anzac Cove in order to bridge the 5 km distance between these two sectors and they desperately needed to secure high ground. Previous attempts to do so had failed. The odds were stacked against them; at Suvla they held a front of 20,000 yards with 50,000 troops when 80,000 were needed to do the job. Their opponents were 75,000 strong and could bring in reinforcements on a daily basis. On 21 August a last ditch attack was to take place on Scimitar Hill with the 29th Division taking the lead and Reginald’s 2nd ‘Mounted’ Division in reserve on the far side of a dry salt lake. The artillery barrage before the attack was of no help. However, the 29th captured Scimitar Hill briefly but were forced off by Turkish fire; the undergrowth caught fire which killed many of the wounded. The 2nd ‘Mounted’ Division was now ordered into the attack; they marched in formation across the dried-up salt lake under constant fire. The hill was captured once again only to be then lost for the final time. Reginald was one of the 5,300 casualties on that day.
He is buried in Green Hill Cemetery (II.F.4) to the east of the Anzac – Suvla Road. This cemetery was created after the Armistice when bodies were brought in from isolated sites; 520 came from Scimitar Hill. Reginald is one of the 499 servicemen whose remains have been identified; the remaining 2,472 in the cemetery are unknown.
The Battle of Scimitar Hill, 1915, http://www.firstworldwar.com
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837-1915, https://www.ancestry.co.uk/
Gallipoli: Suvla Opening, https://www.iwm.org.uk/
Regiments & Corps – The 2nd Mounted Division, http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/
The Story of the Suvla Bay Front, Gallipoli, 6th August 1915 to Sir Ian Hamilton’s dispatch of 11 December 1915, http://www.winkleighonline.com/wmc/level3/suvla.htm
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919, https://www.ancestry.co.uk/