Christleton War Memorial
The 8th (Service) Battalion, Cheshire Regiment was raised in Chester on the 12th of August 1914 as part of Kitchener's First New Army and joined 40th Brigade, 13th (Western) Division which assembled on Salisbury Plain. 40th Brigade moved to Chiseldon and Cirencester in September 1914. Near the end of February the Division concentrated at Blackdown in Hampshire.
They moved to the Mediterranean from the 13th of June 1915 landing at Alexandria then moving to Mudros, by the 4th of July to prepare for a landing at Gallipoli. The infantry landed on Cape Helles between the 6th and 16th of July to relieve 29th Division. They returned to Mudros at the end of the month, and the entire Division landed at ANZAC Cove between the 3rd and 5th of August.
They were in action in The Battle of Sari Bair, The Battle of Russell's Top and The Battle of Hill 60, at ANZAC. Soon afterwards they transferred from ANZAC to Suvla Bay. They were evacuated from Suvla on the 19th and 20th of December 1915, and after a weeks rest they moved to the Helles bridgehead. They were in action during the last Turkish attacks at Helles on the 7th of January 1916 and were evacuated from Helles on the 8th and 9th. The Division concentrated at Port Said, holding forward posts in the Suez Canal defences.
On the 12th of February 1916 they moved to Mesopotamia, to join the force being assembled near Sheikh Sa'ad for the relief of the besieged garrison at Kut al Amara. They joined the Tigris Corps on the 27th of March and were in action in the unsuccessful attempts to relieve Kut. They were in action in The Battle of Kut al Amara, The capture of the Hai Salient, the capture of Dahra Bend and The passage of the Diyala, in the pursuit of the enemy towards Baghdad. Units of the Division were the first troops to enter Baghdad, when it fell on the 11 March 1917.
The Division then joined \"Marshall's Column\" and pushed north across Iraq, fighting at Delli 'Abbas, Duqma, Nahr Kalis, crossing the 'Adhaim on the 18 April and fighting at Shatt al 'Adhaim. Later in the year they were in action in the Second and Third Actions of Jabal Hamrin and fought at Tuz Khurmatli the following April. By the 28th of May 1918, Divisional HQ had moved to Dawalib and remained there until the end of the war, enduring extreme summer temperatures.
Account of the Battle of Kut el Amara
By the 4th April 1916, the weather had improved from the rain and flooding. The Turks had been pushed back to Felahieh and Sannaiyat positions. So far all had gone well, and the 7th Division, moving forward, passed through the 13th Division, and advanced, under cover of darkness, towards Sannaiyat, against the northern portion of which position they were to deliver the assault at dawn (6th April). A series of misfortunes now commenced. The country over which the Division advanced was found to be so cut up by deep trenches running in all directions that progress was almost difficult, and at dawn the assaulting troops were still 2,300 yards from the enemy’s position. Nevertheless, in spite of the knowledge that the Turks were prepared to meet the attack, they pressed on, across a perfectly flat and open country, exposed to heavy artillery and machine-gun fire, with the greatest gallantry, until within 700 yards of the position. Here they were checked, and finally, after suffering severe losses, were forced to retire for some distance, when they dug themselves in at 1,000 yards from the enemy.
The position of the 7th Division was between the Tigris on their left and the Suwachi (also spelt Suwaicha and Sawaikieh) Marsh on their right. The river continued to rise rapidly, and the floods began to sweep inland. The wind changed to the north, and blowing across the Suwachi Marsh, blew its swollen waters southwards over the country. “Bunds” had to be thrown up quickly on either flank to prevent the inrush of water from flooding the troops out of their trenches, and this work had to be carried out under enemy’s fire. The guns were soon surrounded by water, and the situation on the left bank of the Tigris became critical. On the right bank also the 3rd Division was in danger of being isolated by the inudadtions.
On the night of the 8th/9th April the 13th Division relieved the 7th Division in the trenches and at 4 a.m. (9th April) issued out to assault Sannaiyat. On reaching a line 300 yards from the enemy, their presence was discovered by the Turks, who immediately sent up flares and poured in a heavy fire. Nothing daunted, however, Maude’s first line pushed on and gained a footing in a portion of the enemy’s front trenches, and, had supports been at hand, would undoubtedly have cleared the whole position. But misfortune again dogged the steps of the relief force; the supports, confused by the blinding flares in their eyes, lost direction and failed to join hands with the first front line troops, who, soon overpowered by strong Turkish counter-attacks, were obliged to give way. The line thus driven back withdrew some 400 to 500 yards and dug in. It is during this assault that Private George Lee was killed in action.