Albert LANE

  • 1911 Ocupation              Gardener
  • Domicile                          Harlaxton, The Drift
  • Age in 1911                     23
  • Unit                                 2nd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
  • Service Number            G/1546
  • Rank                                Pte
  • Date of Death                 25th April, 1915, KIA
  • Age at Death                  27
  • Battle SitRep                  Dardenells Archip Beach Landing
  • Commemorated             Helles Memorial

At the end of 1914 almost 210 Divisions of the German and Allied armies were bogged down in Belgium and France, and trench warfare, as we now know it, had started in earnest. As 1915 began the allies were planning attacks to penetrate the German Lines and advance, but conditions demanded that they wait for better weather. The first attack at Neuve Chapelle was planned for mid-March.
So stalemate on the Western Front but not so in the East where the ill equipped Russian Army was facing 80 German and Austro Hungarian Divisions as well as fending off attacks by Ottoman Empire forces in the South. Russia urgently needed support from the Allies and at that time all sea routes between the two were blocked by the enemy or by ice.
To provide the support that Russia needed Winston Churchill, The First Lord of the Admiralty, believed that a naval task force of British and French Battleships, Destroyers and Cruiser could open the southern route through the narrow Dardanelles Straights by destroying what he believed to be the weak Ottoman Forces and guns that commanded both sides.
His plan was agreed and the Naval action started in Feb and came to a climax in March when 18 battleships tried to force the narrowest part of the straights, just 1 mile wide. However after unacceptable losses, mostly from mines, the action was called off. The Royal Navy now called on the army to capture the guns from the land side, and the door was thus opened to disaster.
The Gallipoli landings started on 25 April 1915 when British and French Divisions were joined, for the first time, by the Australian and New Zealand Corps, The ANZACs. The Force of over 100,000 men were full of enthusiasm believing that the Ottomans would not put up much of a fight. However the 5 weeks required to assemble the force and move it to the start line had allowed the Ottomans to strengthen their position on the inhospitable, steep sided, rocky and scrub covered terrain overlooking the Cape Helles and ANZAC beech where the landings were to take place. Nevertheless after fierce fighting the Allies managed to gain a foothold only to find that they could make little progress and trench warfare became the order of the day.
Conditions on Gallipoli defy description. The terrain and close fighting did not allow for the dead to be buried. Flies and other vermin flourished in the heat, which caused epidemic sickness.
Later, in October , winter storms caused much damage and human hardship, and in December, a great blizzard – followed by cataclysmic thaw – caused 15,000 casualties throughout the British contingent, and no doubt something similar on the Turkish side. Of the 213,000 British casualties on Gallipoli, 145,000 were due to sickness; chiefly causes being dysentery, diarrhoea, and enteric fever.
It is easy to forget, given the quite proper place that Gallipoli has in Australian and New Zealand legend, that Gallipoli was by no means purely an ANZAC affair; in fact, both the rest of the British, and the French army contingents on Gallipoli outnumbered the ANZACs in terms of men deployed and casualties lost.
One of those killed on the first day during the Helles landings was Albert Lane a 27 year old gardener from Colston Bassett. At the beginning of the war he had enlisted as a private in the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers which had just returned from India. The Battalion joined 86th Infantry Brigade of the 29th Division at Nuneaton in the Spring of 2015 ready to move to France.
But that was not to be as pressure on Lord Kitchener to launch a ground attack at Gallipoli forced him to deploy the Division there and Albert Lane embarked at Avonmouth on 16 March.
In January 1916 the Allies withdrew from Gallipoli having failed to achieve their aim and having taken over 300,000 casualties.