The next major event to affect the de la Cruz family in Liverpool was the outbreak of war in 1914. Some time after the war started, I don’t know precisely when, the late John de la Cruz I’s son, Henry, who was born about 1896, enlisted in the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. When I saw this fact I immediately asked myself why an Englishman would join an Irish regiment. The answer could be as simple as this. John de la Cruz I, a Filipino, would probably be a Catholic by religion, and presumably so would hischildren. If Henry de la Cruz had declared his religion as Catholic to the Army Enlistment Officer, he would automatically been put in an Irish regiment. It was a peculiar tradition in the British Army until well into the 1930’s that any Englishman declaring to be a Catholic was put into an Irish regiment. We know little else about Henry, except that he was the youngest son. However, from contemporary documents, we can trace the regiment as it embarked on one of the most disastrous campaigns in military history.
In November 1914, Turkey declared itself on the side of Germany in the war. Turkey became a threat to it’s close neighbour, Russia, Britain’s ally. Russia pleaded with their allies to relieve Turkish pressure on their southern flank. The Allies decided to land troops on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey. On 25th April 1915, a mixed force of British, French, Australians and New Zealanders landed at Gallipoli. The whole thing became a terrible slaughter with the Australian and New Zealand forces (the ANZAC’s) holding doggedly onto a tiny cove. The Turkish forces, led by a German general, would not give ground. A decision was made to land at Suvla Bay, further up the coast to relieve the pressure on the ANZAC bridgehead.
This landing was made on 7th August 1915 at Suvla Bay, Gallipoli. Part of the invasion force was the 10th (Irish) Division, which included the 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. The Turkish artillery shelled the men as they came ashore, causing some casualities, but the Turkish infantry were retreating across the Anafarta Plain. Henry de la Cruz, in the 6th Battalion, was part of the first advance inland. They had to march around a salt lake to reach their objectives and then come on to some hills from the northwest. They started at noon and the day was very hot. As soon as the soldiers appeared on the beach, the Turks began to shell them with shrapnel. They were still under heavy fire when they turned the corner of the Salt Lake and sank up to their knees in a morass.
By 5 pm the men, though very weary, were within 300 yards of their objective, Chocolate Hill. They rested while the hills were shelled by allied artillery and warships. At 7 pm, just before darkness fell, the 6th batallion and others, bayonets fixed, charged up Chocolate Hill and drove the Turks from their trenches and an hour later were on the crest of the hill.
All through the night of the 7th and into the morning of the 8th August, the men worked busily to regroup themselves into their battalions. Supplies of food, water and ammunition began to arrive, though many men got no water until late on the 8th: their first drink in 24 hours. Other units captured Kiretch Tepe Sirt and the area was secured.
During the next week the troops encountered fierce rifle fire and shelling from the Turks. They also had to endure the excessive heat, and the torment of thousands of flies. They lived on rations of bully beef and hard biscuits. But worst of all, water was extremely scarce. To make matters worse, dysentery began to spread amongst the soldiers. The men were allowed a brief rest on the beach. They risked being shelled to bathe in the sea and had their first shave in several days; and welcome reinforcements appeared.
The 10th Division was next ordered to attack the Turks on Kiretch Tepe Sirt, only parts of which had been captured by the British forces. The ridge rose some 600 feet above sea-level, precipitous in places and covered in thick scrub which seriously slowed down any movement. The attack began on 15th August. The British advanced but were met by a hail of machine-gun fire. By nightfall on the 15th they held an uneven line below the crest of the hill and exposed to enemy fire. The reserve battalions were called up and the 6th Battalion put on the exposed eastern flank. They had just got into position when the Turks crawled over the ridge in the darkness and charged down upon them. They were beaten off with the bayonet; but just before dawn they attacked again, throwing many grenades. The 10th Division had exhausted their own small supply of grenades, made from jam tins. Gallant efforts were made to charge the crest of the hill but they were beaten back. The survivors lay among the dead on the slopes, in the searing heat, and were constantly bombed and shelled, but they refused to give way to the Turks. The 6th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers, already depleted by their attacks on the 9th, were almost wiped out. They lost 10 officers and 210 men, most of whom were reported ‘missing’.
The regimental diaries record that Private 13867, Henry Delacruz died on the night of 15th August 1915. He was 19 years of age. His name is included in the 27,000 British and Commonwealth troops, recorded on the Helles Memorial at Gallipoli and who have no known grave.
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here is his cwgc entry
http://www.cwgc.org/search/casualty_det ... lty=695101