Remembering the men from the Kingsdown and Creekside Cluster
who gave their lives in the First World War
On the centenary of their death, we remember
Malcolm Philip DALTON
d. 9 November 1915. Aged 29
1/1st Royal East Kent Yeomanry,
(The Duke of Connaught's Own (Mounted Rifles))
Remembered with Honour
Redoubt Cemetery, Pink Farm, Gallipoli, Turkey
Killed in action in Gallipoli 9 November 1915 Aged 29
Malcolm was born towards the end of 1886, the youngest child of fruit farmer Philip and his wife Eliza Ann Dalton of The Burrs, Cellar Hill, Lynsted. Malcolm had an elder brother, Frederick, and two elder sisters, Cecilia and Mary. On leaving school Malcolm worked on the family fruit farm.
According to the 1911 Census Malcolm is recorded as being employed on his father’s fruit farm. Unfortunately his military service records have not survived but going by his regimental number, he probably enlisted in the Royal East Kent Yeomanry, 1st South Eastern Mounted Brigade, 1st Mounted Division in Faversham shortly after the census around May 1911.
His regiment was mobilised on 4 August 1914 at the outbreak of the war under the command of Lieutenant Colonel The Earl of Guildford. At this time the regiment was equipped only with saddles, rifles and two machine guns. By the end of August some horses arrived but they did not become fully equipped with transport and weapons until October.
The 513 strong Brigade was stationed at Sturry Court, Broad Oak, near Canterbury, the home of Viscount Milner who was to become Secretary of State for War in 1918. Milner agreed to turn the house and grounds over to the 1/1st Royal East Kent Mounted Rifles for military purposes. The regiment moved to the Canterbury Polo Ground at Littlebourne at the beginning of 1915 from where they concentrated on defending the Kent coast.
It had become clear this war was being fought in a completely different way than was familiar to our career soldiers. Regiments “dismounted” and in many cases were given scant trench warfare training. Thus, Malcolm left Canterbury as a foot soldier and was entrained for Liverpool docks on 22 September 1915.
Malcolm sailed from Liverpool on 24 September 1915, destination unknown, on the recently requisitioned RMS Olympic. The now HMT (Hired Military Transport) Olympic 2810 was the oldest of the three “Olympic Class” vessels built by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line. Her two sister ships were RMS Titanic, sunk after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage in 1912, and RMS Britannic that sank on 21 November 1916, after hitting a mine laid by the German minelayer submarine U79 in a barrier off Kea, Greece. It was serving as a hospital ship at the time. Olympic had been stripped of her luxury fittings, the portholes and lights covered and armed with 12-pounders and 4.7- inch guns. The ship was now able to convey up to 6,000 troops.
At the time of Malcolm’s voyage, the Olympic was under the command of Bertram Fox Hayes, and the trip was not to be uneventful. Records show that on 1 October, lifeboats from the French ship Provincia were sighted. The Provincia had been sunk by a U-boat that morning off Cape Matapan. On seeing survivors in the water Captain Hayes stopped the ship and was able to rescue 34 people. The British Admiralty accused the Captain of putting the ship in danger. It was considered that the Olympic’s best defence was its speed and stopping it in waters where enemy Uboats were active, rendered her an unmissable target. However, the French Vice-Admiral Louis Dartige du Fournet awarded Hayes the Gold Medal of Honour.
Malcolm arrived at Lemnos via Alexandria on 1 October. Three days later he boarded another ship and sailed to the Gallipoli Peninsular at Cape Helles. The regiment landed in Gallipoli on 8 October and was attached to the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division.
The East Lancashire Division had been hit hard in the middle of August 1915 and was down to little more than one third of its normal establishment through battle casualties and sickness. All units along with all remaining British and Imperial forces in the Helles bridgehead were evacuated from Gallipoli by 8 January 1916.
Sadly Malcolm did not survive and just 39 days after his disembarkation was the sole fatality suffered by the 1/1st Royal East Kent Yeomanry on 9 November 1915. He was killed in action when hit by shrapnel during engagement in the forward area Border Barricade, Fusilier Bluff.
The family back home received the sad news of Malcom’s death just 3 weeks after the death of his brother-in-law, 37 year old Richard Henry Wright, the husband of his sister Mary.
The news of Malcolm’s death was reported in the Faversham News on 4 December 1915:
LYNSTED YEOMAN KILLED.
TROOPER MALCOLM DALTON
The death is reported from Gallipoli of Trooper Malcolm Dalton, East Kent Yeomanry, who, it appears, was killed on November 10th by shrapnel.
Trooper Dalton, who was 28 years of age, was the youngest son of Mr. And Mrs. P. Dalton, of The Burrs, Cellar Hill, Lynsted.
Prior to joining the Yeomanry for the War the deceased assisted his father in the fruit business.
The utmost sympathy is felt for Mr. and Mrs. Dalton in their loss, by their many friends in Lynsted and Teynham. This is the second bereavement they have just lately sustained, the death of their son-in-law, Mr. R. H. Wright, occurring barely three weeks ago.
Malcolm was posthumously awarded:
1914-15 STAR : BRITISH WAR MEDAL : VICTORY MEDAL
The following extracts are from a soldier’s letter home and a War Office report which gives us insight into the conditions that Malcolm faced in his short time in the field.
Kent Messenger, September 25th, 1915 - Life with the Mediterranean Forces.
The following extracts from a letter from Private E. Jeffrey, of “B” Company, 2nd-5th Buffs (attached to the Queen’s Own, 2nd-4th Royal West Kent Regiment), son of Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Jeffrey, of Meadowside, Kennington, tell graphically of life with the British Expeditionary Force.
Acknowledging a letter from home, he says:
“In your letter you mention the sending out of chocolate, etc. I only wish I had written home for some foodstuff of any sort long ago. The food we get out here is not like they have in France, where things are more settled. We have had scarcely any bread since we landed, and none at all for the first fifteen days. Coupled with this nearly all of us had stomach trouble, dysentery, etc., owing to sleeping on damp ground and getting wet to the skin with white mists (cold nights and hot days). Most of us are as weak as rats. Besides this we have dug a large part of our own trenches, and have to work day and night at them. We signallers are attached to our Company Signalling Station in the fire trench, and we have so many hours of duty on the telephone (day and night). Besides this, we have look-out duty to do. Often we have only had two hours’ sleep for the night, and we rarely get more than four hours. Nevertheless, I’m in good health and contented, and have never shirked any work that has come along so far. Send any foodstuff you like, anything nourishing. Chocolate would be a Godsend. A book, magazine, or paper would be very acceptable. You could never find a crust of stale bread or bad bread lying about our here.
We landed here on August 10th; sent into the trenches August 13th; sent down to base August 31st; returned to trenches September 4th. You will see by the foregoing that we had three days at the base after we landed, then eighteen days in the trenches, four more days at the base, and now we are in the firing line again. There seems to be very little going on along this part of our front, and we are only troubled with a few snipers and occasional shell fire.
Out of the Battalion, 1,000 strong, we have had about 13 killed and anything from about 50 to 100 wounded. The signallers have had a larger proportion of casualties than the rest of the Battalion if you take the percentages of each. A considerable number of signallers have been hit by snipers while laying out wire. Besides the actual casualties, a large number of men have gone sick, the climate having knocked them up.
When we are at the base we get bathing in the sea every day, but unfortunately during the last four days we were down there I was so knocked up for the first three days, that I couldn’t appreciate a bathe and only went in to get one or two layers of dirt off. I think what knocked me up was the march down to the base (a heavy march over sand with equipment) on an empty stomach. I am all right again now. We were given out greatcoats water proof sheets and our change of clothing while we were at the base, so we are better off now than we were before, and can sleep warmer at night. The flies are a shocking pest out here, and we have the greatest difficulty in not eating them together with our food. They have an absolute disregard for life or death, and consequently you have to pick them off you food with your fingers, a thing you would never have to do in England. It is a great treat to have letters in the trenches and I am most grateful for them.
I’m glad I’ve come out here as it is giving me the education of my life, just as I always told you it would. It will teach me to appreciate my home for one thing, although I don’t know how long I shall be content to settle down to a hum-drum life, as I believe it will be difficult to, after so much knocking about and rough living.
In a postscript the writer adds: “I guess I shall be like Scott, the South Pole explorer, and have chocolate and buns under my pillow at night when I come home again, in fact, I shouldn’t be surprised if I didn’t manage to get down two or three beef steak puddings during the hours of slumber. They would make a good substitute for four hours’ trenching at midnight anyhow.”
THIRD SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE. Of FRIDAY, the 7th of APRIL, 1916
London, S.W ., 10th April, 1916.
The following despatch has been received by the Secretary of State for War from General Sir C. C. Monro, K.C.B. :—
6th March, 1916. #
I have the honour to submit herewith a brief account of the operations in the Eastern Mediterranean from the 28th October, 1915, on which date I assumed command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, until the 9th January, 1916, when in compliance with your directions, I handed over charge at Cairo to Lieut.-General Sir Archibald Murray, K.C.B., C.V.O., D.S.O.
On the 20th October in London, I received your Lordship's instructions to proceed as soon as possible to the near East and take over the command of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force.
My duty on arrival was in broad outline:-
(a) To report on the military situation on the Gallipoli Peninsula.
(b) To express an opinion whether on purely military grounds the Peninsula should be evacuated, or another attempt made to carry it.
(c) The number of troops that would be required,
1. to carry the Peninsula,
2. to keep the Straits open, and
to take Constantinople.
Two days after my arrival at Imbros, where the headquarters of the M.E.F. was established, I proceeded to the Peninsula to investigate the military situation. The impressions I gathered are summarised very shortly as follows:-
The positions occupied by our troops presented a military situation unique in history. The mere fringe of the coast line had been secured. The beaches and piers upon which they depended for all requirements in personnel and material were exposed to registered and observed Artillery fire. Our entrenchments were dominated almost throughout by the Turks. The possible Artillery positions were insufficient and defective. The Force, in short, held a line possessing every possible military defect. The position was without depth, the communications were insecure and dependent on the weather. No means existed for the concealment and deployment of fresh troops destined for the offensive - whilst the Turks enjoyed full powers of observation, abundant Artillery positions, and they had been given the time to supplement the natural advantages which the position presented by all the devices at the disposal of the Field Engineer.
Another material factor came prominently before me. The troops on the Peninsula had suffered much from various causes.
(a) It was not in the first place possible to withdraw them from the shell-swept area as is done when necessary in France, for every corner on the Peninsula is exposed to hostile fire.
(b) They were much enervated from the diseases which are endemic in that part of Europe in the summer. In consequence of the losses which they had suffered in earlier battles, there was a very grave dearth of officers competent to take command of men.
(c) In order to maintain the numbers needed to hold the front, the Territorial Divisions had been augmented by the attachment of Yeomanry and Mounted Brigades. Makeshifts of this nature very obviously did not tend to create efficiency.
Other arguments, irrefutable in their conclusions, convinced me that a complete evacuation was the only wise course to pursue.
It was obvious that the Turks could hold us in front with a small force and prosecute their designs on Baghdad or Egypt, or both.
An advance from the positions we held could not be regarded as a reasonable military operation to expect.
Even had we been able to make an advance in the Peninsula, our position would not have been ameliorated to any marked degree, and an advance on Constantinople was quite out of the question.
Since we could not hope to achieve any purpose by remaining on the Peninsula, the appalling cost to the nation involved in consequence of embarking on an Overseas Expedition with no base available for the rapid transit of stores, supplies and personnel, made it urgent that we should divert the troops locked up on the Peninsula to a more useful theatre. Since therefore I could see no military advantage in our continued occupation of positions on the Peninsula, I telegraphed to your Lordship that in my opinion the evacuation of the Peninsula should be taken in hand.
History tells us the horror of the Gallipoli campaign, which was ultimately unsuccessful, which even in this day and age, is difficult to imagine.
The Lynsted with Kingsdown Society is indebted to Malcolm’s great niece, Sally Coupland, for all her help with information and for kindly agreeing to the use of family photographs.