ROBERT BAGLEY (1886 – 1915)

16381 Private Robert Bagley, 6th Battalion, Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) was killed in action 7 August 1915.[1]  He was about 29 years old, the son of Sylvester and Elizabeth Bagley.  He is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey, the St. Helen’s Colliery Memorial Cottages, West Auckland War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, West Auckland Memorial Hall, Darlington Road, West Auckland.

Robert’s older brother 157781 Sapper W.H. Bagley, 177th Tunnelling Company, Royal Engineers died later in the war, 4 July 1917. [2]

Family Details

Robert Bagley was born c.1886 at Willington, Co. Durham, the son of Sylvester and Elizabeth Bagley.  Sylvester worked as a miller in a flour mill.  There were at least 7 children:

  • John born c.1878 at Willington
  • Margaret born c.1880
  • William Hull born c.1883
  • Robert born c.1886
  • Frederick born c.1889
  • Sylvester born c.1892
  • Thomas born c.1894 at West Auckland [3]

All children other than Thomas were born at Willington.  The family lived at the Nursery, West Auckland and it is assumed that Sylvester and oldest son John (who is recorded as a “waggoner for miller”) were employed at the flour mill at Mill Bank. [4]  By 1911, Robert, Thomas and Sylvester lived with their brother John and his wife Elizabeth and their 5 children at no.5 Station Road, West Auckland.  Robert then aged 26, worked as a bricklayer’s labourer. [5]

Service Details

The Yorkshire Regiment is also known as “The Green Howards”.  The 6th (Service) Battalion was raised from volunteers and formed at Richmond, Yorkshire 25 August 1914 as part of K1, Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of 32nd Brigade, 11th (Northern) Division.  In April 1915, the battalion moved from Belton Park near Grantham, Lincolnshire to Witley Camp near Godalming, Surrey. [6] The 11th (Northern) Division comprised the 32nd, 33rd and 34th Brigades.  The original battalions that formed the 32nd Brigade were:

  • 9th Battalion, The Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment)
  • 6th Battalion, Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment)
  • 8th Battalion, The Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)
  • 6th Battalion, The York and Lancaster Regiment

The 11th Division fought at Gallipoli and the Western Front during the rest of the Great War. [7]

Private Robert Bagley’s service record and the 6/Green Howards battalion war diary have not been researched.   The following details are derived from a variety of sources, particularly the official history of the Green Howards written by Colonel H.C. Wylly in 1926.

3 July 1915: Liverpool: H.M.T.S. Aquitania, escorted by 2 destroyers, carried the 32nd Brigade and 2 battalions of the 34th Brigade (6 battalions in all) plus divisional and brigade staff to Mudros Bay on the island of Lemnos which was reached 10 July.  At a point between the Scilly Isles and Cape Ushant, on the 4 July, a German submarine fired a torpedo at the troop carrier which missed its target.  Troops disembarked 11 July. [8]  Private Robert Bagley entered the Balkans (2B) 14 July 1915.[9]  Orders were received at 10.30am on the morning of 6 August to prepare for action later that day.[10]

Gallipoli Campaign: summary

The 8 month campaign in Gallipoli was fought by Commonwealth and French forces in an attempt to force Turkey out of the war, to relieve the deadlock of the western front in France and Belgium and to open a supply route to Russia through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea.  The Allies landed on the peninsula on 25-26 April 1915; the 29th Division at Cape Helles in the south and the Australian and New Zealand Corps north of Gaba Tepe on the west coast, an area soon to be known as Anzac.  On 6 August, further landings were made at Suvla, just north of Anzac and the climax of the campaign came in early August when simultaneous assaults were launched on all 3 fronts.  However, the difficult terrain and stiff Turkish resistance soon led to the stalemate of trench warfare.  From the end of August, no further serious action was fought and the lines remained unchanged.  The peninsula was successfully evacuated in December and early January 1916.[11]

The Suvla Bay Landing

The landing was to be made by the newly formed British IX Corps, initially comprising 2 brigades of the 10th (Irish) Division and the entire 11th (Northern) Division.  Command of the IX Corps was given to Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford.

The offensive was to open on 6 August 1915 with diversions at Helles (the Battle of Krithia Vineyard) and Anzac (the Battle of Lone Pine).  The landing at Suvla was to commence at 10.00pm, an hour after the 2 assaulting columns had broken out of Anzac heading for the Sari Bair heights.  The original plan at Suvla was to put the 11th Division ashore south of Nibrunesi Point, the southern headland of the bay.  The 30th and 31st Brigades of the 10th Division would land the following morning.

Suvla was defended by 3 battalions of the “Anafarta Detachment” under the command of Major Wilhelm Willmer (a Bavarian cavalry officer).  Willmar had no machine guns and few artillery pieces.  There were 3 strong points, one at Kirech Tepe to the north, one at Hill 10 in the centre and one at Chocolate Hill, near the southern end of the salt lake.  Small pickets were positioned elsewhere including on Lala Baba, a small hill between the beach and the salt lake.  When the attack on Lone Pine commenced, Willmer was ordered to send one battalion as reinforcements so that when 20,000 British troops began to land at Suvla, they were opposed by only 1,500 Turks.

Shortly before 10.00pm, 7 August 1915, the 32nd and 33rd Brigades came ashore on “B Beach” in the first action fought by a New Army unit.  Two companies of the 6/Green Howards drove the Turkish defenders from Lala Baba, the small hill overlooking the beach.  All but 2 officers and 1/3 of the men were casualties. [12]

With regard to the specific role of the 6/GHs, A, B and C Companies under the command of Major Roberts were to land at the beach to the south of the Salt Lake (B Beach), proceed up the beach about 100 yards and form a line then wheel half left and attack the hill, Lala Baba.  A Company was commanded by Capt. Morgan, B Company by Capt. Heron and C Company by Major Shannon.  D Company under Capt. Chapman was to picquet the south end of the salt lake.

The men travelled light, leaving their packs and wearing haversacks on the shoulders and carried 2 days’ iron rations (to last 4 days), 2 empty sandbags, full water bottles and 220 rounds of ammunition.  A white patch was sown on the haversack, 2 white armbands and a triangular piece of tin tied to the corner of the haversack – apparently this aided gunners to support an attack.  The men were loaded into 2 lighters, towed by destroyers.  The 32nd Brigade was to land at Suvla Point and take Yilghin Burna and the high ground north and east of it.  The disembarking strength of the Battalion was 25 officers and 750 other ranks. [13]

“Searchlights were moving from the direction of Achi Baba and seemed to pick us up…As we neared the shore under our own engines we were greeted with a burst of rifle fire.” [14]

In the darkness, the battalion made a number of charges up to and over Turkish trenches only to be fired upon from the rear.  There were close quarter engagements in the trenches and at about midnight, a message was sent that:

“The Yorkshire Regiment had taken Lala Baba and occupied the trenches on the base of the north side commanding the further beach and that we had lost practically all our officers.”

The 34th Brigade had trouble getting off the lighters which had grounded thus could not return to the destroyers to transport reinforcements to the beaches.  The 32nd Brigade was ordered to halt and let the 34th get clear but this order was not received and the men were mixed up.  The Turks began firing shrapnel which fortunately was bursting too high but high explosives were coming down on the beaches and heavy enfilade fire came from the hills to the north. [15]

“The losses in the 6th Battalion The Green Howards, particularly in officers had been very heavy, 16 officers and about 250 other ranks being killed and wounded; killed were Lieutenant-Colonel E.H. Chapman, Captains J.C. Morgan, W. Chapman and R. Randerson, Lieutenants H. De C. Casley, N.M. Bruce and I. McL.Wilson, 2/Lieuts. E. Frank and J.F. White, while Major A. Roberts died of his wounds.”  [16]

In addition to this above, Lieutenant M.B. Lambert and 2/Lt S. Morris were also killed in action 7th August. [17]  58 Other Ranks were killed in action 7 August, 1 OR was killed on the 6th and 7 died of wounds on the 8th and 9th August. [18]

Despite facing light opposition, the landing at Suvla was mismanaged from the outset and the offensive quickly reached the same stalemate as prevailed on the Anzac and Helles fronts.  After a week of indecision, the British commander at Suvla, Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Stopford was dismissed 15 August 1915.  General de Lisle took over.  The Suvla front was reorganised and reinforced by the arrival of the 29th Division and the 2nd Mounted Division and the fighting climaxed 21 August with the Battle of Scimitar Hill – another failure. [19]

Those servicemen who took part in the action of 7th August such as Private Robert Bagley who have no known grave are commemorated on the Helles Memorial.  Others including Captain R. Randerson and Private A. Shellin are buried at Lala Baba Cemetery. [20]

16381 Private Robert Bagley, 6th Battalion, Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals. [21]


The Helles Memorial serves the dual function of Commonwealth battle memorial of the whole campaign and place of commemoration for many of those Commonwealth servicemen who died there and have no known grave.  There are also panels for those who died or were buried at sea in Gallipoli waters.  The memorial bears more than 21,000 names. 16381 Private R. Bagley, 6th Battalion, Yorkshire Regiment is commemorated at Panel 55 to 58. [22]


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[3] 1901 census

[4] 1901 census

[5] 1911 census



[8] “The Green Howards in the Great War” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p.171-172

[9]  Medal Roll card index

[10] “The Green Howards in the Great War” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p176

[11] Commonwealth War Graves Commission


[13] “The Green Howards in the Great War” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p.176-178

[14] “The Green Howards in the Great War” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p177

[15] “The Green Howards in the Great War” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p180-182

[16] “The Green Howards in the Great War” Colonel H.C. Wylly 1926 p182

[17] Officers Died in the Great War

[18] Soldiers Died in the Great War

[19] See 11

[20] Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the authors’ records

[21] Medal Roll card index

[22] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[23] Darlington & Stockton Times (North) 19 November 1921 and



BAGLEY R. photo

BAGLEY R. photo

Helles Memorial

Helles Memorial

BAGLEY R Inscription Helles Memorial

Helles Memorial

BAGLEY R. Medal Roll

Medal Roll

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  1. Pingback: WEST AUCKLAND | The Fallen Servicemen of Southwest County Durham

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