What was the Gallipoli campaign?
By Dec 1914, the war on the Western Front had ground to a halt in a deadlock of trench warfare. Winston Churchill recommended an alternative campaign to strike at the underbelly of the German Alliance by taking Turkey out of the war. To do this it would mean capturing Constantinople (or Istanbul as it is today) by opening up the Dardanelles waterway from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. This would also give Russia (then an ally of GB) access to the west to export much needed grain.
What was the plan?
Initially, the plan was to open the Dardanelles and seize Constantinople with a naval operation only, but herein was its major weakness. Ships cannot take land; only troops on the ground can do this, but Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, could not spare sufficient soldiers from the Western Front to support the Navy; he was also, if the truth be known, not overly keen on the plan anyway, and he changed his mind several times, which did not instil confidence in the planning of the campaign. Eventually, the 29th Division was released, along with troops from Australia and New Zealand, the ANZACs, and from France.
William Hardwick was born in Brecon on March 12th, 1885, the son of Thomas and Mary Hardwick. The family lived at 24 Pendre, Brecon in the early years of his life, before moving to No. 2 Jubilee Place, the Avenue, Brecon by 1901. William worked as a painter and plumber's apprentice before he emigrated to Australia in 1906. He sailed from London on November 16th, aged 21, on the SS Ortona bound for Brisbane. By 1910 he settled on Leongatha, Australia, working as a carpenter and builder. In January 1915 he enlisted with "D" Company, 21st Battalion, 6th Australian Infantry and becomes a sergeant.
In May 1915, aged 30, he embarks for Gallipoli on the HMAT A38 "Ulysses". In January 1916 he is involved in the retreat from Gallipoli, by which time he is Company Sergeant Major and has been mentioned in dispatches. Later in 1916 he serves in Arabia and the Suez Canal zone and is commissioned as Second Lieutenant. On March 25th, 1917, aged 32, he is awarded the Military Cross for gallantry in France and on 28th of August 1918 he is awarded a bar to the Military Cross, again for gallantry in France.
William was killed in action in France on October 5th, 27th, 1918, he was aged 33 years. He is buried at the Tincourt New British Cemetery in France.
Here are four transcribed letters to his brothers and sisters from William Hardwick: