John Henry Dale, Private 2074, 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 10th August 1915 in Gallipoli, aged 26
John Henry Dale was born in Macclesfield in 1890. The son of Jonathan Dale, a shoemaker, and Sarah (formerly Ardern), he was one of eleven children and initially lived at 84 Vincent Street, before the family moved to 39 Buckley Street. By 1911, 21 year old John was living at 37 Lowe Street with his parents and siblings Lizzie (20), Ethel (19), Norman (12), Harry (9) and Violet (5), and was employed as a silk spinner.
On 29th November 1913, John married Alice Cartwright at St. Georges Church, Macclesfield.
John was already a member of the 7th Battalion (Territorial Force), Cheshire Regiment, when war was declared in August 1914.
Following a period of training in various locations in the south of England, the 7th Cheshires, as part of 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, received orders to equip for service in an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. In July 1915 they sailed from Devonport to Alexandria in Egypt, then on to the island of Lemnos on the 4th August. On the evening of 8th August, they arrived off the coast of Gallipoli and proceeded to make a landing at “C” Beach, Suvla Bay, on the following day.
Despite three frustrating weeks aboard ship, no official word as to their destination, and a sleepless night having sat on deck, patiently awaiting their turn to disembark, the troops of the 159th Brigade were anxious to acquit themselves. Once landed, confusion and doubt set-in as they were hurriedly issued with a vague order to “Attack the Turks”. The brigade was ill-prepared, with little ammunition and no supporting artillery or transport. Additionally, the officers had not been issued with maps prior to their arrival and very little reconnaissance or planning had been carried out. Despite this, three battalions, including the 1/7th Cheshires, were ordered to advance inland towards the high ground. They moved forward through the heavy scrub to a line south of a strongly held position known as Sulajik Farm, where they came under steady fire from the Turkish defenders. By the time darkness had fallen, the units of the 159th had become fragmented, with many men lost behind enemy lines. At 3:00 a.m. on the 10th August, the Brigade (or what was left of it) was ordered to prepare for a dawn attack on the important high ground known as Scimitar Hill. At 6:00 a.m. portions of the 1/7th Cheshires, followed by the 4th Welch, advanced a few hundred yards but were soon pinned down by a stream of enemy fire. Casualties mounted and morale flagged as a further advance at 5:00 p.m. saw a number of men killed, or wounded and left to perish in the scrub, which by now was burning fiercely.
Through poor co-ordination, indecision and incompetence, the fighting ability of the 159th Brigade was effectively ruined within 48 hours of its arrival. The 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment had lost 18 officers and men confirmed killed, 154 wounded, and 288 missing. Pte. John Henry Dale was amongst the latter – reported missing presumed killed in action during the attack on Scimitar Hill (known to the Turks as the Yusufçuk Hills).
John has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. 75 to 77 on the Helles Memorial, Turkey. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private John Henry Dale, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.