Arthur Albert Austin

Born:   Late 1892, Great Bromley.
Parents: William and Annie Austin
Siblings: Edith, William, Harry, Ernest, Selina, Jessie, Phyllis, Florence and Ivy.
Unit:  B Battery, 15th Brigade, Royal Horse Artillery.
Regimental Number: 68820
Rank:   Gunner
Died: Killed in Action, 20 June 1915
Commemorated: Panel 21 of the Helles Memorial, Turkey.


The Gallipoli campaign was a costly failure for the Allies: Of the 410,000 British, French and Commonwealth soldiers involved in the 8 month campaign, just over 61 per cent became casualties.  3 of the 50,133 Allied dead1 were from the Bromleys, and the first of those to die was 22 year old Arthur Austin.  

Arthur Albert Austin was born in late 1892, in Great Bromley, the fourth child of William and Annie Austin.  William Austin, who had been born in Great Bromley, was variously described as either an Agricultural Labourer, or a Horseman on a Farm. 

In April 1891 the Austin family were living at Frosts Hall then moved to The Guildhall (the old workhouse).   It may well have been that Arthur was born in one of these two places.

The family later moved again, and by April 1911 they were living at Spurlings, near Badley Hall.  It was during the same period that Arthur finished his schooling, and went to work on a farm as a Stockman, tending livestock.  

Arthur joined the Army no later than the autumn of 1914 and chose to join the Royal Horse Artillery (R.H.A.) as a Gunner, the equivalent to a Private in the Infantry.

The Royal Horse Artillery provided artillery support to the Cavalry and a R.H.A. Battery consisted of 5 officers and 200 men, equipped with six 13-pounder field guns, all supported by 228 horses.  During the Great War the R.H.A. effectively supplemented the Royal Field Artillery (R.F.A.), who were responsible for the medium calibre guns and howitzers, deployed close to the front lines.  

Arthur was posted to B Battery, part of the 15th Brigade, R.H.A., which was allocated to the 29th Divisional Artillery, when that unit was mobilised at Leamington in January 1915.  At the same time, each of the 15th Brigade R.H.A.'s batteries exchanged their six 13 pounder guns for four 18 pounder Q.F. (Quick Firing) guns, the same as those used by R.F.A batteries.  

B Battery embarked at Avonmouth in mid-March 1915, and sailed to Alexandria in Egypt, arriving on the 30th. By the 19th of April they were at Moudros harbour, on the island of Lemnos, in the Aegean Sea.  Moudros was to be the main Allied base for the forthcoming landings on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey, which was situated just over 30 miles away.    

The Allied landings at Gallipoli were intended to gain control of the adjacent Dardanelles straights, a move which - it was hoped - would lead to the capture of Constantinople, and encourage Germany's ally, the Ottoman Empire, to sue for peace.  

On 25th April 1915, the Allies landed in two locations on the Gallipoli peninsular - the British and French around Cape Helles at the tip of the peninsular, and the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) on the western coast at what came to be known as "Anzac Cove".  

Two days later, B Battery, R.H.A. was landed at Cape Helles, with all of its guns and wagons, but only 52 horses.  By 06.00 the following morning, they were supporting an attack by the 87th Infantry Brigade.  The Divisional Artillery History notes that "a good deal on inconvenience and delay was caused by batteries having no transport for rations, stores, etc., other than their mess cart.  As moreover, only a small proportion of horses had been landed, the mobility of the batteries was considerably impaired.  The result was that the artillery was unable to give the infantry the full power of its support".

From the start the Allies came up against fierce Turkish resistance in the    difficult terrain, and were only able to gain two narrow lodgements on the peninsula.  The campaign quickly deteriorated into stalemate and trench warfare, in which squalor and disease were rife.  

The 29th Divisional artillery were in action in the blazing sun throughout May and June, supporting the infantry, though they were at times hampered by shortages of ammunition for the guns.  The intensity of the action is evidenced by the fact that on one day alone (4th June) - whilst supporting an Infantry attack - the guns of B Battery fired 915 shrapnel shells, and 60 High Explosive shells.

Arthur Austin was Killed in Action on 20th June 1915.  He has no known grave, and is commemorated by having his name inscribed on Panel 21 of The Helles Memorial.  

The Helles Memorial, stands on the tip of the Gallipoli Peninsula, and takes the form of an obelisk over 30 metres high, which can be seen by ships passing through the Dardanelles.  It commemorates over 21,000 United Kingdom and Indian servicemen who died at on the peninsula - or were buried at sea nearby - but who have no known grave.

Austin is still a local name in the village. I believe John Hilton Austin was his first cousin.