THIS spring marks the 105th anniversary of one of the British Army’s most disastrous campaigns.

The idea behind the First World War landings on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey in April, 1915 may have been astute – to open up the Dardanelles Straits, capture Constantinople (now Istanbul) and knock Ottoman Turkey out of the war – but things went horribly wrong from the start and right in the thick of it were men of the Worcestershire Regiment. 

The story of their courage in the face of unrelenting hostility from both the enemy and the climate will be told at a special event at The Hive, Worcester on Wednesday, February 19, when historian Robbie Porter will be giving a presentation titled “The Worcestershire Regiment at Gallipoli in 1915.”

The Regiment’s 4th Battalion was one of the first to arrive and the last to leave, with the  9th Battalion and the Worcestershire Yeomanry also taking part later. In all, the Gallipoli Campaign, which lasted for nine months until January 1916, claimed the lives of 27,000 British soldiers, nearly 2,000 of them from Worcestershire.

It also featured a stupendous piece of bravery from one of the Worcestershire Regiment’s young officers,  Lieutenant Herbert James, who became the first ever member of the Regiment to be awarded the Victoria Cross. But the twice married and divorced James, who went on to become Adjutant of the Battalion and also a Brigade Major, was a modest figure, not comfortable with fame, and he died in 1958 a virtual recluse, living alone in a small apartment in Kensington.

However on the battlefields of Gallipoli, James, then still a Second Lieutenant, the most junior officer rank, was a titan. His VC came for two heroic acts in late June and early August, 1915. On August 3, he headed a party

of bomb throwers from the 4th Battalion up a Turkish communications trench. After all his men had been either killed or wounded, he remained alone at the head of the trench and kept back the enemy single-handed until a barrier could be built behind him and the trench secured.

A few days earlier, on June 28, he had linked with a neighbouring unit, the 5th Royal Scots, which was under heavy mortar and rifle fire, and by stirring example led them on a successful advance on the enemy positions

Robbie Porter is a member of the Battle of Worcester Society, which is organising the Gallipoli evening, and a lecturer and charity worker originally from Hawick, Scotland.

He became interested in Gallipoli after discovering his grandfather took part in the campaign. His talk will examine the military and political background to it, the 4th Worcestershire's difficult landing at Cape Helles and other critical engagements.

Tickets are £5 for BoWS members; £7 for non members and £3 for students. They can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre at The Guildhall; on line at; from The Battle of Worcester Society on Worcester 358640; or on the door on the night.