Today, May 8th, is the centenary of the charge to Krithia. Where or what is Krithia? people say, when I mention this. After the ANZAC landings, what came next? Krithia is one part of what came next.
We’ve been following Major Richard Wells, of the 6th Battalion. He has tree no. 151 in the Ballarat Avenue of Honour, although he was from Melbourne. His father in law Con Burrow, was an outstanding Ballarat citizen, a very military man, and we suspect it was he who ensured Major Wells was included in the Avenue.
The 6th battalion was part of the brigade called to help assist the British in the assault on Krithia, a strategically placed little village on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Along with other country Victorian battalions the 5th 7th and 8th, the 6th left bitter fighting in the ANZAC sector and were shipped south. They were already decimated by the fighting on 400 Plateau and Pine Ridge, but were to face worse yet.
Major Wells, Commanding Officer of C Company, 6th Battalion fell at Krithia. Ron Austin in his history of the 6th Battalion As rough as bags writes “As the battalion advanced along Central Spur in full view of the Turkish defenders, the enemy fire quickly took its toll. On the right flank of the Sixth’s advance, C Company, lost its company commander, Major Dick Wells, also Lieutenant Richard Kieran, both mortally wounded.” Major Wells was evacuated to a hospital ship with gunshot wounds to his throat, and he died on 11th May.
The Krithia story is important to Ballarat because many Ballarat men were included in the 8th Battalion, and were involved in the battle. The casualties at Krithia were higher than the ANZAC landings.
Tonight at Ballarat Library Ross McMullin will be speaking on this story, focussing on Clunes Mathison, the eminent young medical researcher killed at Krithia. Mathison is the subject of one of the chapters of Ross McMullin’s award winning book Farewell Dear People. Ross’ talk is part of Heritage Weekend, and free to attend. It is 5.45pm for a 6pm start, this evening, May 8th.
|Major Wells is the third officer on the left. From "As Rough as Bags" p.26|