PLY163(S) Private Thomas William Garrett Plymouth Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry Killed in Action, 25th or 26th April 1915

PLY163(S) Private Thomas William Garrett Plymouth Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry Killed in Action, 25th or 26th April 1915

Thomas William Garrett was born on 7th April 1885 in Barnstone, the son of William and Emma Garrett. Known as William by his family, he was a quarryman and married Gertrude Wood of Elston in 1909. They had three children, Alice Mary, Irene and George, all born in Barnstone. Despite his family responsibilities he was one of the first to volunteer on 31st August 1914. Initially he was posted to 8th Battalion, King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry on 4th September but transferred the same day, with John Matthews of Barnstone, to become a Private with the Plymouth Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry. He trained in the UK including a period at Blandford in Dorset. On 6th February 1915 he embarked with his unit to join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force to fight the Turks in the Dardanelles. William served in 12th Platoon, 3rd Company, 14th Section of the Plymouth Battalion according to the address on a surviving envelope from a letter sent by Gertrude to William. The RMLI carried out a number of commando style raids on Turkish forts in the weeks leading up to the invasion. It is likely that he saw action for the first time on one of these raids. On 25th April 1915 the main landing at Gallipoli took place and Plymouth Battalion, RMLI formed part of a 2000 strong diversionary force which was landed by boat on “Y” Beach. Its role was to scale the cliffs and distract the Turkish troops from the main landings elsewhere on the Peninsula. Initially the landing went well with little opposition from the Turks. Unfortunately, the officer in charge of the landing party was unsuccessful in getting through to the ships off shore with any of his many messages requesting information from General Headquarters as to progress elsewhere and what his troops were to do to now they were ashore and, apparently, unopposed. Eventually the Turks responded to the British presence and severe fighting took place during the night and early morning of 25/26th April. Every Turkish attack was beaten off but still GHQ failed to respond to further request for news, reinforcements and supplies of ammunition. In the confusion the Royal Navy did receive a message from another officer and responded by launching some boats to take off the wounded. This action triggered a panic and it was thought that an order for evacuation had been given. Despite the best efforts of the officers, troops continued to try to get on the boats and, eventually, by late morning the order was given to evacuate. By 11.30 am the last British soldier left the beach without any further firing from the Turks. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records for William show that he has no known grave and was killed in action of 3rd May 1915. It is true that he has known grave as he was probably buried at sea, but his date of death is incorrect. The date given comes from Army Form B 2090A which was filled in for every casualty by the Adjutant of the Plymouth Battalion. Each of these states the soldier involved was killed “about 3rd of May 1915”. This is not possible as the battalion was not in action on that date. All the evidence suggests that William Garrett and his fellow casualties died during the fighting of the 25th or 26th April 1915. In the absence of a grave William is commemorated on Panel 2 to 7, Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. William was entitled to the 1915 Star and the British War and Victory Medals, but his records show that, for some reason, they were not claimed by Gertrude.

Created by: Nigel159312

  • Born 1885

    Royal Navy 163 Royal Marine Light Infantry: Plymouth Division