John’s WWI Blog: Bravery on the Gallipoli beaches

The landing at Gallipoli
The landing at Gallipoli

August 31, 1915 – Victoria Cross for hero of Gallipoli hell

Bravery under fire in the hell of landing on the Gallipoli beaches was rewarded with a Victoria Cross for Midshipman Aubrey Malleson.

Private George Wilford

Private George Wilford

This patriotic news, reported in the August 31, 1915, edition of the Market Harborough Advertiser, describes how Malleson was on board the ship the River Clyde when the lighters – which form a bridge from the vessel’s side to the shore – drifted apart.

The report states: “One of the [lighters] was already heaped with dead when the commander jumped into the water, which was up to his waist, and got the lighters into position.”

It was then that Malleson and three other crewmen jumped in to help him despite the threat from Turkish gunners.

It’s a great story for the Advertiser and draws two interesting observations for the 21st century reader:

Former Harborough Mail editor John Dilley with a copy of the 1914 Market Harborough Advertiser. (MAIL PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER)

Former Harborough Mail editor John Dilley with a copy of the 1914 Market Harborough Advertiser. (MAIL PICTURE: ANDREW CARPENTER)

There is none of the graphic horror of previous reports to muddy the heroic Boy’s Own action which demonstrates a sense of self-censorship by the editor.

And the story is typical of any local paper laying claim to a good news story – no matter how tenuous that claim may be. In this instance, Malleson, whose home town is never mentioned, is merely the nephew of a woman who happens to be visiting a brother in Market Harborough. That won’t bother the Advertiser’s 1915 readers who will have basked in all that reflected glory.

Newspapers today have always regarded the summer months as ‘silly season’ when there is less news around and this week’s 1915 edition seems to be suffering in a similar way.

There is not much local gossip from the Front although there is a picture of Private George Bernard Wilford who got wounded in the Dardanelles fighting – twice.

Private Wilford, whose parents live at Little Bowden Lodge, was first injured in May but was back in the frontline in July – only to be wounded again.

In a letter to his parents he says: “I daresay you will well know that I got another light wound. I don’t want you to worry about me as I am getting on all right.

“I got hit in the left eye with piece of shrapnel which closed my eye up. It is going to be all right and I can see a bit with it now. It hasn’t injured the sight, good luck, it was a near go.”

There is only one other piece of local war news to report – Private William Bailey of Queen Street, Little Bowden and a former employee of Caxton Type Foundry, has also been lightly wounded.

The editor has not been lazy though. It is obvious he is interviewing as many people as possible as there is also paragraph after paragraph of reports of men on home leave – but with no other story to tell.

Is this a turning point in the local newspaper war coverage which has seen graphic reports and regular flouting on the Government’s censorship laws.

Whatever the reason, there is always room to report on the copywriters from Bird’s who place a weekly advertisement in the newspaper. This week’s promotional poem reads like this:

She had nothing nice for dinner when he called to name the day,

But sister Jane is ‘kitchen-wise’ and knew what card to play,

With Bird’s Crystal Jelly Powder and some water boiling hot,

She had ‘Jelly in a Jiffy’ and ensured the nuptial knot.