On January 6th, the London Gazette published Sir Ian Hamilton’s final despatch as Commander in Chief of the Gallipoli expedition before he was replaced by Lieut. General Sir Charles Munro, who in consultation with Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, agreed to the evacuation.
In this report he refers to the 1/5th Norfolks and the events of August 12th 1915:
“… In the course of the fight, creditable in all respects to the 163rd Brigade, there happened a very mysterious thing. The 1/5th Norfolks were on the right of the line and found themselves for a moment less strongly opposed than the rest of the Brigade. Against the yielding forces of the enemy Colonel Sir H Beauchamp, a bold, self-confident officer, eagerly pressed forward, followed by the best part of the Battalion.
The fighting grew hotter and the ground became more wooded and broken. At this stage many men were wounded or grew exhausted with thirst. These found their way back to camp during the night. But the Colonel with 10 officers and 250 men kept pushing on, driving the enemy before him.
Amongst these ardent souls was part of a fine company enlisted from the King’s Sandringham estates. Nothing more was ever seen or heard of any of them. They charged into the forest and were lost to sight and sound. Not one of them ever came back.”
Captain Edmund Gay (Norfolk Regiment) was one of this ‘Lost Legion.’
Private information has supplied the fact that Edmund was last seen getting over a fence or wall into a farm with a sergeant and another man. The man who last saw him was wounded and lay all night beside the body of another 1/5th Norfolk soldier and managed to crawl into our lines next day.
Until we hear anything certain, however, we must continue to hope that he is in captivity and did not perish in that attack.
The final evacuation of our troops from Gallipoli was completed with the withdrawal from Cape Helles on January 9th. During the campaign, of the 20 old boys of OPS and one member of our staff who served, we know of three who have been killed and two wounded.
It now seems highly likely that all the other Old Dragons are safely off the peninsula, as we understand from the Illustrated London News – hopefully correctly – that the operation was completed with astonishingly few casualties.