1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory, Death Plaque, Private Thomas Edward Peers, 1st/8th Territorial Battalion, Manchester Regiment, Killed in action 4th June 1915, First Day of the Third Battle of Krithia.
A local man from Didsbury, Manchester, living at 5 Moss Grove Terrace, Brooks Bar, he had worked at Kendal Milne & Co.
He landed at Gallipoli with the Manchester Brigade aboard the Derflinger on 6th May, assembling with the other battalions on the beach.
After a difficult push out from the beaches of Gallipoli the Manchester were to be involved in the disastrous “Third Battle of Kritihia”
Zaccheus Holme of the Manchesters wrote back to his parents on 31st May, later killed in action beside Pte Peers on 4th June;
"We are now in the firing line again and have been here now for six days, after having only four days in the rest trenches after our last spell in the firing line, so that for nearly three weeks, we have only had four days rest. We have been a night knee-deep in mud and water as the trenches were in a terrible condition, owing to a severe storm in the afternoon. On Wednesday night, we advanced 100 yards. We left the trenches we were in and advanced in the open at 9.45pm and, for the rest of the night, we had to dig in as hard as we could to get cover. Most of it had to be done lying flat and, I can tell you, it was awful work, but luckily for us the enemy did not spot us and we only got a few shots, but nobody in the company was hit. If we had been seen, it would have been frightful. The advance was quite a success as we were able to get the new firing trench dug and also the communicating trench to it. I can honestly say I have never worked harder before in my life as we were digging for seven solid hours."
Orders were then issued for the attack on 4 June (this would become known as the Third Battle of Krithia). From 8am, there would be an intense bombardment of the enemy trenches. Private R Sheldon, "C" Company, later described the morning "Shells in thousands were dropped, blowing part of the Turkish trenches to atoms and completely blowing away the barbed wire entanglements. Every shell that dropped seemed to tell – for we saw, hurled up into the air – legs, arms, heads, bodies, parts of limbs. It was an awful and fearful sight."
The plan was that at 11.20am, all the guns would fall silent and the infantry would cheer as though about to attack. It was hoped that this would lure the Turks into manning their front line which would then be bombarded again. The real attack would then take place. Half the battalion would be in the first wave, ordered to take the enemy front line trench. The other half would be in the second wave following 15 minutes later.
The plan worked! As the men began to cheer and fire their rifles, the Turks opened fire with machine guns. Moments later, the barrage started up again, killing many of them.
At noon, the leading platoons of Manchesters ("A" Company and half each of "B" & "D") left the protection of their trenches and charged across the 200 yards of No Man's Land in good order. They were hit by devastating rifle and machine gun fire. Within 5 minutes, they were in the Turkish front line and were engaged in fierce hand-to-hand fighting. As they secured the trench, the other half of the 6th Manchesters ("C" Company and the other platoons of "B" & "D") overlapped them to take the Turkish support trench. The attack of the 5th, 7th and 8th Manchesters had also gone well. However, units on either side of the Manchester Brigade had been less successful. The Turks were now on three sides of the Brigade and, by mid-afternoon, it was becoming impossible to hold the position. An order for withdrawal back to the original Turkish front line was ordered at 6.30pm.
On the 8th Battalion front, the men of "A" and "B" Companies had also charged across No Man's Land taking their first objective in the Turkish main trench.
At first the attack continued to be successful and "C" & "D" Companies advanced to leap-frog them to continue the attack. Their objective was high ground overlooking the first objective and they captured this with the help of some men from "A" and "B" who went forward with them. Early in the afternoon, General Lee, commanding the whole of the Manchester Brigade was mortally wounded and the 8th commander, Colonel Heys took command. After an hour he had to return to the Battalion as hardly any of its officers were left and, soon after, he was killed. The Battalion held on to its positions throughout the day in spite of being heavily counter-attacked on several occasions
770 men of the 6th Manchesters had gone into action. By nightfall, when the roll was called, only 160 were fit enough to answer. 48 men had been killed. Tom and Alexander Milne are believed to have been members of "C" Company. It had been virtually wiped out but, as far as is known, the two friends had come through unscathed. The Battalion would be in the firing line for three more days before it was relieved and would suffer another 100 deaths.
On 7 July, the Battalion's Commanding Officer received a letter from Major General Douglas "I am still hoping that you may be able to collect evidence of some of the special acts of gallantry by officers and men of your battalion during the assault on 4 June. It is most unfortunate that, owing to the many casualties you sustained, many deeds worthy of the Victoria Cross, have not been reported. I hope that your men know this. The dash, steadiness, reckless bravery and endurance shown by the 6th Manchester and, indeed, by the whole Brigade, was equal to the best traditions of the British Army."