Gallipoli and the 29th Division :: Shared Description

When war broke out in 1914 half of Britain’s regular army was garrisoning the Empire. Many men were recalled in order to help break the stalemate on the Western Front. Assembled in the new 29th Division they were billeted and trained in Warwickshire and north Oxfordshire. Friendships and local economies flourished. At this time Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, conceived a plan to assist Britain’s ally, Russia. Her Black Sea navy would be able to reach the Mediterranean if control of the Dardanelles strait could be wrested from Turkey. Tasked with bombarding Constantinople to knock Turkey out of the war, the British navy attempted to force a passage of the Dardanelles but met resistance from German-trained Turkish troops on the Gallipoli peninsula. Churchill overruled his generals to secure the deployment of the 29th Division to Gallipoli.

On 12th March 1915 King George V reviewed the troops in Warwickshire. Soon afterwards the 19,000 men sailed for the Mediterranean. They were joined by forces from Australia and New Zealand before eventually proceeding to the Dardanelles. So began the terrible slaughter of Gallipoli with the first landings in April 1915 when the ANZAC troops suffered enormous losses. In the rocky terrain through the heat and dust of summer and autumn the Allies fought at close quarters with fanatical Turkish troops without any strategic gain. Vermin, starvation and disease were rife. Not until the end of the year did the politicians and the incompetent generals acknowledge stalemate at Gallipoli. Stealthily, little by little, without loss of human life, the forces were withdrawn.

250,000 Allied troops and at least as many Turks lost their lives. The monument to the 29th Division near Stretton-on-Dunsmore in Warwickshire is a war memorial in everything but name. It avoids any mention of the slaughter but instead recalls the King’s review of the troops and their stay in the county before they were called upon to offer their “incomparable services”.

The memorial to the 29th Division consists of the Dunchurch Avenue and the monument. A storm in 1916 blew down many trees in the 18th-century avenue of elms across Dunsmore Heath. The Dunchurch Avenue Committee, formed by Warwickshire County Council in 1917, negotiated the conveyance to the county of the rights to the trees and verges from the Duke of Buccleugh. In response to the strong local wish for a memorial the committee invited subscriptions for a monument and the replanting of the avenue. The Duke donated £720 to the fund and the freehold of the land for the monument. Two miles of the avenue were replanted in the autumn and winter of 1920-21 by Messrs Dicksons of Chester at a cost of £664·2s·0d. The monument was designed by Bridgman & Sons of Lichfield and erected late in 1920 at a cost of £646. It is 12·3 metres high overall. It was unveiled before a crowd of over 7,000 by the Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire, Lord Craven, on Tuesday 24th May 1921.

The monument was originally flanked by two German field guns captured by the 29th Division in France. When they were removed has not been ascertained: perhaps during the Second World War, or when the second carriageway was added to the A45 in the 1950s, reportedly.

National Inventory of War Memorials reference 19428 LinkExternal link

Essential reading:
• Alan Moorehead. Gallipoli. London: André Deutsch Ltd, 1989 edition.
• Chris Holland and Tony Jordan. The story behind the monument: the 29th Division in Warwickshire and north Oxfordshire, January-March 1915. Stretton Millennium History Group, 2005.
• On-site information board Link
• Report of the unveiling, Warwick & Warwickshire Advertiser, 1921, May 28.
by Robin Stott

10 images use this description:

SP4173 : The Incomparable 29th Division information board by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – apex by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – inscription on the west side by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – a view from the west by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – commemorative inscription by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – a view from the north by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – inscription on the east side by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Memorial to the 29th Division, 1921 – a view from the west by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – view from the southwest by Robin Stott
SP4173 : Monument to the 29th Division, 1921 – inscription on the north side by Robin Stott


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Created: Tue, 11 Feb 2014, Updated: Sat, 15 Feb 2014

The 'Shared Description' text on this page is Copyright 2014 Robin Stott, however it is specifically licensed so that contributors can reuse it on their own images without restriction.

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