Readman H.

HARRY READMAN (1895-1915)

Z/2000 Able Seaman H. Readman, Nelson Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve was killed in action 6 June 1915 and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli, Turkey. [1] He was 20 years old and is commemorated on the Butterknowle War Memorial and the memorial plaque in St. John the Evangelist Church, Lynesack.

Family Details

Harry Readman was born 2 February 1895[2] in the Parish of Lynesack and Softley, the son of Nathaniel Ralph Hymer and Emily Readman.  There were at least 5 children:[3]

  • Ernest Joseph bc.1895 at Butterknowle
  • Harry born 1895[4] at Lynesack
  • Frederick George bc.1898 at Butterknowle
  • Florrie bc.1907 at West Stanley
  • Lillian bc. 1910 at Lynesack and Softley

In 1901, Ralph and Emily lived at Crow Howle with Sons Ernest and Frederick.  Ralph was a coal miner (hewer).  Harry lived with his Uncle Frederick George and Aunt Mary Ann Creed at Butterknowle.  Frederick was a coal miner (hewer). [5] By 1911 Ralph and Emily lived at Low Wham with Ernest, Frederick, Florrie and Lillian.  46year old Ralph was still employed as a coal miner (hewer) and 16 year old Ernest was a coal miner “pony driver.”  Harry, now 15 years old lived at Stanley with his Uncle Frederick and Aunt Mary Ann Creed.  Frederick was a coal miner (hewer) and Harry was employed as a “colliery screener.” [6]

Service Details

Henry [Harry] Readman enlisted into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, date of entry 24 November 1914 and was allocated the number Tyneside Z/2000.  His address was given as 2 Manor Road, West Stanley, Co. Durham.  He was a miner, his religion was Church of England and his next of kin was his father Ralph Readman, of Low Wham, Butterknowle.  Harry was 5ft.6” tall, had a fair complexion, dark brown eyes and dark brown hair.  He couldn’t swim.  He joined the Howe battalion 16 December 1914 and was transferred to the Nelson Battalion 25 January 1915.  [7]

After the declaration of war 4 August 1914, there was a surplus of some 20-30,000 men of the reserves of the Royal Navy who could not find jobs on any warship.  It was decided to form 2 Naval Brigades and a Brigade of Marines for operations on land.  From April 1915, the Nelson Battalion came under the orders of the 1st Royal Naval Brigade, 63rd (Royal Naval) Division which comprised: [8]

  • 1st (Drake) Battalion
  • 2nd (Hawke) Battalion
  • 3rd (Bendow) Battalion disbanded 9 June 1915
  • 4th (Collingwood) Battalion left 30 May 1915
  • 5th (Nelson) Battalion left 2nd RN Brigade and joined April 1915
  • 7th (Hood) Battalion joined August 1915
  • 12th (Deal) Battalion joined 12 March 1915

The Gallipoli Campaign April 1915-January 1916: a 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.[9]

The 5th Battalion, RN Brigade was part of the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF) (Dardanelles) April 1915-January 1916 which first landed at ANZAC Beachhead 29 April 1015 then transferred to Cape Helles 13 May 1915.[10]

The Third Battle of Krithia: 4 June 1915: a summary [11]

British and French forces mounted a limited attack but failed to reach their objectives.[12]

The Third Battle of Krithia was the final in a series of Allied attacks against the Ottoman defences aimed at capturing the original objectives of 25 April 1915 in the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign.  The objective was to capture Alci Tepe (Achi Baba) the ridge which commanded most of the peninsula.  The disposition of the Allied troops from west to east was:

  • 29th Indian Brigade and 1/Lancashire Fusiliers: to attack Gully Spur and Gully Ravine
  • 29th Division: to attack beside Gully Ravine on the left side of Fir Tree Spur
  • 49th Division: to attack on the right side of Fir Tree Spur to Kirte Dere
  • 63rd (RN) Division: attack up Achi Baba Nullah supported by the armoured cars on Krithia Spur
  • French: attack on the right along Kereves Spur

4 June:  noon, attack commenced – The RND advance was led by the 2nd Naval Brigade which managed to reach and capture the Ottoman trenches.  When the second wave, the Collingwood Battalion, attempted to continue the advance they were caught by enfilade fire from Kereves Dere to the right where the French advance had failed.  The battalion, one of the newly arrived reinforcements was utterly annihilated and was never reformed.  Further attempts to reach the second objective were successful but the position was untenable so within a couple of hours the RND units had retreated to their starting positions.

With the main attack decided, success for the 42nd Division in the centre, failure everywhere else, Hunter-Weston ordered his troops to dig in and consolidate their positions but this coincided with Turkish reserves counter attacking and within an hour the Manchester Brigade was under attack from 3 sides so was ordered to withdraw.  By the end of the battle, the new front line was a mere 200-250 yards in front of their start line.

Losses to the 2nd Royal Naval Brigade were approx.500 ratings killed and included Collingwood Bn., 185 killed; Howe Bn., 95 killed; Anson Bn., 94 killed and Hood Bn., 83 killed.[13]

6 June: the Turks launched a counter attack and the British came close to breaking. Able Seaman H. Readman was killed in action 6 June 1915.  The Nelson Battalion lost 29 ratings that day but the RND’s losses were light compared to 4 June. [14]

Second Lieutenant G.R.D. Moor 2/Hampshire Regiment, 29th Division was awarded the Victoria Cross for stemming the retreat of his battalion by shooting 4 of his own men.

It is estimated that the Allied Forces suffered a total of 6,500 casualties; British 4,500, French 2,000 and the Turks lost 3,000 men killed. [15]

20 December 1915 – 9 January 1916: the British evacuated the Gallipoli Peninsula

Able Seaman H. Readman was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War and Victory medals.

Press Article: County Chronicle dated Thursday 24th June 1915:

“Mrs. Readman of Wham received the sad news on Saturday morning of the death of her son Harry in action at the Dardenelles.  Mr. R. Readman deceased’s father and another brother Ernest are at present serving somewhere in France.”  

Commemoration

Able Seaman H. Readman is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.  It bears the names of more than 21,000 names of Commonwealth servicemen who have no known grave.

References:

[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] UK Royal Naval Division Index 1914-1919 gives 2 February 1895 as date of birth for Z/2000 Henry Readman

[3] 1901 & 1911 census

[4] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.241 Auckland 1895 Q1 Nathaniel Mathew H Readman

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] UK Royal Naval Division Index 1914-1919 cat.ref: ADM/339/2

[8] http://www.1914-1918.net/63div.htm

[9] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[10] Nelsonbattalion5thbn2ndmbrigade1914.gallipoli,mef(dardanelles)april1915-jan1916

[11] En.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Third_Battle_of_Krithia&printable=yes

[12] En.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=timeline_of_the_Gallipoli_Campaign&pri

[13] http://www.naval-history.net/WW1Battle1503Dardanelles3.htm

[14] http://www.naval-history.net/WW1Battle1503Dardanelles3.htm

[15] En.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Third_Battle_of_Krithia&printable=yes

Photographs:

HELLES MEMORIAL

HELLES MEMORIAL

HELLES MEMORIAL

HELLES MEMORIAL

HELLES MEMORIAL NELSON BATTALION

HELLES MEMORIAL
NELSON BATTALION

One thought on “Readman H.

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

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