Martin DEMPSEY
Rank: Private
Number: 17698
Unit: 6th Battalion SOUTH LANCASHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 19 July 1916
Age: 44
Cemetery: Basra Memorial, Iraq

The 1901 Census shows the Dempsey family living at 85 Great Egerton Street, Stockport. Ellen Dempsey, then 65, was a widow and her husband's name is not known. Also at home were James, Martin and Michael Dempsey. Martin was then 28 and worked as a "throstle doffer" in a cotton spinning mill. This was the person who removed full bobbins of cotton from the spinning machine (throstle) and put them in storage. He probably continued to work for the same company until he enlisted into the army in May 1915. His employer then was Robert McClure & Sons Ltd, Travis Brook Mill, Travis Street, Heaton Norris. The mill stood on the northern side of the River Mersey, opposite Hollywood Park - the land for which was bought by the McClure family.

After training, Martin will have joined the Battalion in the autumn for the final weeks of the failed invasion of the Gallipoli peninsula. The troops were withdrawn in early January and, after re-organisation, went to Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) in February or March.

In late 1915, British troops were besieged in the city of Kut-al-Amara by Turkish troops. The South Lancashires formed part of the army being assembled to relieve the garrison. They would have to fight a number of engagements in their move up the River Tigris, to even get close to the city. One of these was the Battle of Bait Aisa.

On 17th April, Brigades of the Indian Army captured the main Turkish positions in a ferocious attack. At 4.30 pm, the South Lancashires were ordered forward to re-enforce the 9th Brigade at a position called "Twin Pimples". They arrived at about 8.30pm with two companies going into the front line to re-enforce the 47th Sikhs. Another company supported an attack by the grenade throwers (bombers) of the 9th Brigade, who had been ordered to advance up a communication trench towards the new Turkish positions. The Battalion's War Diary records "Considerable opposition found in pushing barricade forward up communication trench and progress slow owing to lack of bombs".

"By early morning, we had driven enemy out of communication trench and established barricade where trench ended and small depression began running 200 yards to A4 (note; a map position). At about 3.30, attempt made to occupy remainder of communication trench up to A4, but owing to inability to get in touch with East Lancashires who were bombing from A3 to A4, attempt failed."

It would seem that, about then, Turks deliberately flooded the communication trench to delay the British attack. At about 6.45, there was a heavy bombardment by Turkish artillery, followed by retaliation from the British. This heralded a general British infantry advance and two companies of the Lancashires advanced up the flooded trench. However, they failed to get in touch with the neighbouring unit of North Staffordshires and had to withdraw back to the area of the trench barricade.

Martin was one of 17 men from his unit to be killed during the day. Very few men from the whole campaign to relieve Kut have known graves.

   
           
   
     
© 2006. Design and Layout are the property of Ihelm Enterprises Limited and cannot be reproduced without express permission.
 
Enter Search Phrase Here:(search may take up to 30 seconds) 
 
Close Search Window