Ashtead War Memorials - WWI - Lieut Lawrence Clive Boustead, Royal Dublin Fusiliers

Royal Dublin Fusiliers

LC Boustead, born 26 July 1893, was the eldest son of Lawrence Twentyman Boustead and Ethel Margaret née Alers-Hankey [b. Bromley 1868] - Marriage registered Hastings September Quarter 1891. His father [b. 1862] had came from Oliphant, Nuwara, Eliya, Ceylon, where he was a tea planter, and he was Chairman of Batu Tigra (Selangor) Rubber Co Ltd, 30 Mincing Lane, EC.

Young Lawrence obtained an education at Horton School and Charterhouse before going on to the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Commissioned into the Royal Dublin Fusiliers during September 1913, he joined the 1st Battalion of the Regiment at Madras, India, in the following November. He was promoted Lieutenant, July 1914, before the battalion came back to England in December of the same year destined for the Dardanelles.

As indicated by the CWGC record, The Royal Dublin Fusiliers took part in the landings on ‘V’ Beach, Cape Helles, 25 April 1915, described in the following article: -

“The landing would be made after dawn and following a preliminary naval bombardment, starting at 5 a.m. and lasting one hour. This differed from the ANZAC landing which was a surprise assault, with the covering force going ashore before dawn without any supporting bombardment.

Five beaches were designated for the landing. These were, from east (inside the straits) to west (on the Aegean coast), S, V, W, X and Y Beaches. (Z Beach was the designation for the ANZAC landing site.) V and W Beaches were the main landings at the very tip of the peninsula on either side of Cape Helles itself.

V Beach

V Beach was 300 yards (270 m) long with Cape Helles and Fort Etrugrul (Fort No.1) on the left and the old Sedd el Bahr castle (Fort No.3) on the right, looking from the sea. Ahead was Hill 141. The beach was defended by about a company of men from the 3rd Battalion of the 26th Regiment, equipped with four machine guns.

The first ashore was to be the 1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers, which landed from ships’ boats that were towed or rowed ashore. The rest would be landed from a Trojan horse, the SS River Clyde, a 4,000 ton converted collier. On the bows were fitted eleven machine guns. Sally ports had been cut in the hull to allow the men to embark via gangways. The ship held 2,000 men; the 1st Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers plus two companies of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Hampshire Regiment, (from the 88th Brigade) and one company of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

The tows containing the Dubliners came in at 6 am. All appeared lifeless following the bombardment. As the boats were about to land, the Turkish defenders opened up, laying down a withering fire. The guns in the fort and castle enfiladed the beach, slaughtering the men in the boats. A few made it ashore and sought shelter under a sand bank at the edge of the beach where they remained, pinned down. Out of the 700 men who went in, only 300 survived, many of whom were wounded.

The River Clyde followed closely behind the tows. To connect the collier to the shore, a steam hopper, the Argyll, was to beach ahead of it, providing a bridge. However, the Argyll ended up broadside to the beach, out of touch with the River Clyde. The captain of the River Clyde, Commander Edward Unwin, led men outside to manhandle three lighters (transport boats) into place and so a bridge was formed. Two companies of Munsters emerged from the sally ports and tried to reach the shore but were cut to pieces, suffering 70% casualties. Around 9am another company made an attempt which also failed.

Hunter-Weston remained oblivious to the developments at V Beach. At 8.30am he instructed the main force to begin landing at V Beach. At 9.30am he ordered the covering force at V to link up with W Beach. This prompted a third attempt to get ashore from the River Clyde by a company of Hampshires who were likewise killed. The leader of the main force, Brigadier General Napier made an attempt to lead his force ashore and was also killed. Finally, at 10.21am, General Hamilton, who had been watching the landing from the HMS Queen Elizabeth instructed Hunter-Weston to land the main force at W Beach.”

Lawrence Boustead was one of the many wounded in the engagement, storming the fort and village of Sedd-el-Bahr on 26 April 1915, the day after the landings, as reported in newspapers of the time: -

“Lieutenant Boustead, of the Dublins, now did a very brave thing. Leaving the men who had momentarily taken cover from the machine-gun fire, he ran fearlessly to an opening in the fort and repeatedly fired his revolver, and it is thought he must have killed or wounded some of the gunners, as the fire from the fort became reduced. He escaped miraculously. Soon after, the British rushed the fort and cleared out the enemy. It was in passing a loophole in the fort that Lieutenant Boustead was wounded, receiving a bullet through the cheek.” [Presumably, this would account for his “Mention in Despatches”.]

The Officer needed to be invalided to Malta but recovered to rejoin his unit at the beginning of June 1915 in time to prepare for the 'Battle of Gully Ravine'.

This battle began at 10.45 am on 28 June with a preliminary raid to capture the Boomerang Redoubt on Gully Spur. The general advance commenced shortly afterwards. The artillery fire on Gully Spur was overwhelming and the 2/10th Battalion of the Gurkha Rifles and the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers advanced rapidly a distance of half a mile to a point named ‘Fusilier Bluff’ which was to become the northern-most Allied position at Helles.

In the ravine the 1st Battalion of the Border Regiment did not advance as those troops on the spur. Their final position was fortified with rocks and boulders and became known as ‘Border Barricade’.

On the right of the advance, along Fig Tree Spur, the battle did not go so well for the British. The inexperienced soldiers of the 156th Brigade lacked artillery support and were massacred by Turkish machine guns. Despite the opposition, they were ordered to press the attack and so the support and reserve lines were sent forward but made no progress. By the time the attack was halted the Brigade was at half strength, having suffered 1400 casualties of which 800 had been killed. Some battalions were so depleted they had to be merged into composite formations. When the rest of the 52nd Division landed, the commander, Major General Granville Egerton, was enraged at the manner in which his 156th Brigade had been sacrificed.

Lawrence Clive Boustead was amongst those killed in action on the 29 June 1915, his body being recovered for final interment at Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery, Cape Helles.

The family’s residence was Grey Wings on The Warren, Ashtead, dated to 1913. It has been described by The Twentieth Century Society as: - ‘A private house by [Sir Giles Gilbert] Scott, built as a commission with his brother Adrian. Aside from being an early and rare building by the famous architect the interest lies also in the butterfly Edwardian plan. Grey Wings survives with very few alterations.’

The property seems only to have been leased by the Bousteads because another son* mentions staying on leave with his parents in a “house above what was then a country village”; the surname has not been traced in local directories for the Great War period and Lawrence Twentyman (Tom) died, 4 March 1931, at Cobham.

*Sir (John Edmund) Hugh Boustead [1895-1980] Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

text: Brian Bouchard: if you can add to this page please contact the editor
page added 11 Feb 2009: updated 26 Nov 17