Silvester/Samuel Dale, Private 308, Plymouth Battalion RN Division, RMLI
Killed in action 3rd May 1915 in the Dardanelles, aged 19
Silvester Dale was born on 23rd January and baptised on 13th March 1896 at St Martin’s Church, Castleton Moor, Rochdale, Lancashire, the youngest son of Mary and David Dale, a farmer, of Thorn Field, Thornham, Rochdale, who originated from Great Warford.
In 1901, four year old Silvester was living at Thornfields Farm, Thornham, with his parents and older brothers James (27), William (25), John (24), Peter (20), Richard (12) and George (10).
By 1911 the family had moved to 85 Whirley Road, Macclesfield, and Silvester’s mother Mary had died.
Silvester was educated at Henbury School, and after leaving school he was employed as an apprentice tin plate worker by J. H. Cutts, Ironmonger, Mill Street, Macclesfield.
Silvester enlisted for the Royal Marine Light Infantry, Plymouth Division under the name of Samuel Dale in Manchester on 21st September 1914. He named his father as next of kin, with the address 177 Chorley Road, Swinton, Manchester.
Silvester was described as 5 feet 5¾ inches tall, with a fresh complexion, grey eyes and brown hair. He said he was employed as a farm labourer.
After enlisting, Silvester was sent to Plymouth for training and joined the ship ‘Victory’ on 10th November 1914. His character was described as ‘very good’ and his ability was ‘satisfactory’.
On 10th November 1914, Plymouth Battalion became one of two Royal Marine battalions and support units selected to form the Royal Marine known as 3rd Royal Marine or ‘Victory’ Brigade. He first sailed for the Dardanelles with the First Expeditionary Force on 6 February – Plymouth and Chatham Battalions entrained at Shillingstone near Blandford and move to Devonport. They were temporarily known as the “Royal Marine Special Service Force”.
‘Y’ Beach was one of three allocated to 29th Division on 25th April 1915, and was the most northern landing site on Cape Helles. The landing was part of a diversion to confuse the Turks, and hopefully draw them away from the main operations further south. The task was to be undertaken by Lieutenant Colonel Archibald Koe’s 1st King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB). They were supported by a company from 2nd South Wales Borderers, and Lieutenant Colonel Godfrey Matthew’s Plymouth Battalion of the Royal Marine Light Infantry (RMLI), then attached to 29th Division.
After making an unopposed landing & climb of the 200 foot high cliff face in support of the 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (1/KOSB) & one company of the 2nd Battalion of the South Wales Borderers (2/SWB), they waited for troops from the southern beaches to advance & link up. They waited in vain. Late in the afternoon of the 25th they began to receive shrapnel-shell & sniper fire from the Turks. At about 5.30pm the Turks began a series of attacks that increased in intensity & continued throughout the night of the 25th-26th. The last Turkish assault was repulsed at 6.45am on the 26th. After suffering heavy casualties with no reinforcements and with no sign of British troops advancing from the south, it was decided to abandon the position and ‘Y’ Beach was evacuated by 11am on the 26th April.
In May 1915 Silvester Dale was reported missing and fifteen months later the family received a telegram, sent to Cottage Farm, Whirley Road, informing them that he was assumed killed in action on or around 3rd May 1915.
Silvester’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier on 29 July 1916:
Mr David Dale, of Whirley Road, has received official information that [his] son, Private Silvester Dale, was killed in action on or about May 3rd 1915, in the Dardanelles. Private Dale enlisted at the outbreak of war in the Royal Marine Light Infantry, and was sent out to the Dardanelles with the First Expeditionary Force in January, 1915. Later he returned with the fleet and was drafted out again with the Second Expeditionary Force in April. In May 1915 he was reported missing, and a telegram from the War Office – received this week, and more than fifteen months since he was first reported missing – states that he is “assumed killed in action” near the Dardanelles on May 3rd 1915.
Private Dale was only 19 years of age, and received his education at Henbury School. Prior to enlisting he was employed at J H Cutts, ironmonger, Mill Street, as an apprentice to tinplate working.
Private Dale is one of six sons serving their King and country. He was very well known in Henbury and Macclesfield.
Private Silvester/Samuel Dale has no known grave and is commemorated on Panel ref. 2-7 of the Helles Memorial in Turkey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Samuel Dale, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Five of Silvester’s six brothers also served in the Great War. It is believed that Peter Dale served as Gunner no. 84738 with J (Anti-Aircraft) Battery in the Royal Garrison Artillery and survived the war.
In 1881, Silvester’s father David Samuel Dale (born 1841) was living at Great Warford with his wife Mary and sons James (7), David Samuel (6), William (5), John (4), Thomas (2) and Peter (6 months). Ten years later in 1891 the family had moved to Ashworth, Bury, Lancashire and then included children James (17), Samuel (16 – actually named David Samuel), William (15), John (14), Thomas (12), Peter (10), Mary (5), Richard (2) and George Edward (4 months). Silvester was the youngest of the ten children.