The exceptional Great War Gallipoli Second and Third Battle’s of Krithia May to June 1915 operations Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade Machine Gunners Distinguished Conduct Medal and Mention in Despatches group awarded to Private later Sergeant and Acting Warrant Officer 2nd Class D. Gresty, 1st/7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers, Territorial Force, and from March 1916, 125th Machine Gun Corps, 42nd Battalion, Machine Gun Corps. A member of the 7th Battalion Machine Gun Section at Gallipoli from early May 1915, after landing at 'W' Beach at Cape Helles, Gresty was thrown into the Second Battle of Krithia on 6th May and then the Third Battle of Krithia on 4th to 6th June 1915. Initially awarded a Mention in Despatches for his gallantry between 5th May and the end of June 1915, this award being gazetted on 5th November 1915, it for this same period of operations that he was then awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in the London Gazette for 26th July 1917 ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He fought his machine gun with great gallantry under the most intense hostile fire.’ His service record confirms that he was ‘awarded D.C.M. Aug 1917 for May-June operations on Gallipoli 1915’. Gresty went on to see service in Egypt and Palestine before arriving on the Western Front in February 1917. Having fought in the Third Battle of Ypres and during the Germany Spring Offensive, he was wounded in action on 12th July 1918, suffering gun shot wounds to the ear and right ankle, but these were relatively minor and he returned to the front on 21st August 1918, and found himself involved in the Second Battle of the Somme. It was during a period of leave that he was presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal by the Lord Major of Manchester during a ceremony held on 9th September 1918 at Manchester City Hall.
Group of 4: Distinguished Conduct Medal, GVR 1st type bust; (2076 PTE. D. GRESTY. 1/7 LANC: FUS: - T.F.); 1914-1915 Star; (2076 PTE. D. GRESTY. LAN. FUS.); British War Medal and Victory Medal with Mention in Despatches; (2076 SJT. D. GRESTY. LAN. FUS.)
Condition: Good Very Fine.
David Gresty was born on 20th March 1895 in Failsworth, Manchester, the son of Squire and Ada Gresty, he was christened at All Saints Parish Church in Newton Heath on 3rd April 1895, and by 1911 was living in Newton Heath, then aged 16 and working as an iron worker for the Boston Malleable Lime Company, he being also recorded as having previously worked for a Mr. Buckley, of Oldham Road, Newton Heath, when employed as a newsboy.
Gresty attested for service with the Territorial Force at Salford on 14th July 1914, joining as a Private (No.2076) the 7th Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. Mobilised on the outbreak of the Great War on 5th August 1914 for service with the 1st/7th Battalion, which formed part of the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade of the East Lancashire Division. Gresty found himself a member of the Battalion’s Machine Gun Section.
On 20th August the division moved into camps for training with 7th Lancashire Fusiliers at Turton, and on 9th September it entrained for Southampton to embark for Egypt. The division began to disembark at Alexandria on 25th September and the Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade concentrated for training round Cairo. At first their role was simply to relieve Regular troops from the garrison for service on the Western Front, but on 5th November Britain declared war on the Ottoman Empire and Egypt became a war zone. The East Lancashire Division went to guard the Suez Canal.
After a period spent in the canal defences, the battalion embarked on SS Nile at Alexandria between 1st and 6th May 1915 for the Gallipoli Peninsula and disembarked at 'W' Beach at Cape Helles, where Allied troops had landed a few days earlier. Gresty is confirmed as having embarked from Egypt on the 2nd May.
The Lancashire Fusilier Brigade was the first part of the division to go into action, temporarily attached to the 29th Division for the Second Battle of Krithia on 6th May. The 1/7th supported an attack by the 1/6th Bn and the following day moved forward through the captured line, but was forced to retire after two attempts to take Gurkha Bluff. The battalion was relieved at sundown.
The Lancashire Fusiliers Brigade then reverted to the East Lancashire Division, which later that month was numbered as the 42nd (East Lancashire) Division, when the brigade became the 125th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Brigade. For the next three weeks there was little actual fighting, and the brigade occupied part of the Redoubt Line. On 4th June it took part in the Third Battle of Krithia, where the 1/7th moved up from divisional reserve to join the fighting, but was more heavily engaged on 6 June in fending off Turkish counter-attacks. The battalion suffered 179 casualties.
It was for his excellent services as a machine gunner at Gallipoli during the period from 5th May to the end of June 1915, and including time spent in action during the Second Battle of Krithia on 6th May 1915, and the Third Battle of Krithia on 4th June 1915 that Gresty was awarded the first of his decorations for Gallipoli, he being awarded a Mention in Despatches ‘for gallantry’ in General Sir Ian Hamilton’s Despatch as published in the London Gazette for 5th November 1915. It would appear that his action’s were then subsequently deemed more worthy of a higher award.
However it was only in the London Gazette for 26th July 1917 that notice was to be placed of the award of the Distinguished Conduct Medal to Gresty for his gallantry at Gallipoli, the citation reading ‘For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He fought his machine gun with great gallantry under the most intense hostile fire.’ His copied surviving service record confirms that he was ‘awarded D.C.M. Aug 1917 for May-June operations on Gallipoli 1915’.
On 30th August 1917 the Manchester Evening News would published an article with an image of Gresty titled ‘Newton Heath Soldier Wins D.C.M.’ It reads: ‘Sergeant D. Gresty (22), Machine Gun Corps, late Lancashire Fusiliers, has been awarded the D.C.M. for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. The official description of the deed for which he gained the honour states: “He used his machine-gun in the most gallant manner under intense hostile fire.” The article goes on to give further details on Gresty’s life.
During July 1915 the battalion took turns in holding the front and support lines, apart from a brief relief (8th to 13th July) to the island of Imbros. Then on 23rd July 1915, whilst ‘in the field’ Gresty was awarded 14 days Field Punishment No.2 for having 1) hesitated to obey an order, and 2) for making an improper remark to a Non Commissioned Officer.
On 4th August the 1st/7th Battalion moved into the Redoubt Line and on 7th August to the front line at Krithia Road to take part in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard. The fighting was 'a singularly brainless and suicidal type of warfare’, and virtually nothing was achieved in any of these attacks, at the cost of heavy casualties. Two brigades of 42nd Division attacked on the second day of the Krithia Vineyard battle: 'By nightfall both brigades were back in their old lines, with the exception of some parties of the 6th and 7th Lancashire Fusiliers, who defended the Vineyard against repeated Turkish attacks until, after a bitter and pointless struggle during the following five days, a trench dug across the centre of this worthless tract of scrub became the British front line’. The battalion war diary notes that the men were 'thoroughly worn out; and that out of a strength of 410 NCOs and men, only 139 returned when they were relieved. Three Distinguished Conduct Medals were awarded to members of the battalion.
On 7th September 1915 Gresty was admitted to the base hospital in the Dardanelles, and was then evacuated to Egypt, where he was admitted to the hospital in Cairo on 23rd September 1915, and two days later moved to the Rest Camp at Abbassia. Having recovered from what was most probably a bout of dysentery, he was transferred to the Base Depot at Alexandria in early October 1915, and then embarked for Gallipoli aboard the H.M.T. “Minneapolis” on 19th October 1915, and rejoined the 1st/7th Battalion in the field on 26th October 1915.
After the failure of the Battle of Krithia Vineyard, the Helles front was shut down and no further attacks were made. The 1/7th Battalion took turns in the front and reserve lines at Gully Ravine, Gully Beach and Gully Spur, losing several men buried when the Turks exploded a mine at Cawley's Crater. On his rejoining the battalion Gresty would have found himself serving with a much changed unit, as the 1st/7th Battalion had amalgamated with the 1/6th Lancashire Fusiliers due to casualties and sickness.
Throughout the first two weeks of December, the 1/7th Battalion dug and sniped its way forwards by slow and steady stages. On 14th December the 1/7th was occupying Cawley's Crater when a patrol detected an enemy mine-shaft at the Gridiron, just 6 yards from the battalion's position. The following day a party led by Captain A.W. Boyd successfully laid and exploded a charge in the enemy mine-shaft. A decision had been made to evacuate the Peninsula, beginning on 16th December. A small operation was laid on at the Gridiron for that day as a diversion. The attacking force under Captain Boyd was drawn from 1/7th Battalion, supported by 1/2nd West Lancashire Field Company, Royal Engineers and by 1/6th Battalion behind using catapults to throw grenades. A mine was exploded on the far side of the crater, blowing in the Turkish trench and extending the crater, and the storming party occupied the trench and advanced some way along it in both directions, erecting barricades. That evening a Turkish counter-attack drove them out, but Boyd organised a fresh attack, supported by a bombing team from the Sussex Yeomanry, and regained the position within 15 minutes – the bombing teams had to be restrained from penetrating too far down the trenches in pursuit. The VIII Corps commander, Lieutenant General Sir Francis Davies, officially named the position 'Boyd's Crater’.
The 1/7th Battalion moved down to 'W' Beach on 27th December and sailed aboard the SS Ermine for Mudros and then to Egypt, landing at Alexandria on 15th January 1916. Its battle casualties for the Gallipoli campaign had been 7 officers and 242 other ranks, but the numbers hospitalised for sickness were considerably higher.
Gresty had in the meantime been appointed to Lance Corporal on 31st December 1915, and then promoted to Corporal on 16th February 1916 whilst stationed at Shallufa. Gresty was then promoted to Sergeant (No.39565) on transferring to the Machine Gun Corps on 13th March 1916, and officially transferred to the 125th Brigade Machine Gun Company, the machine gun company of the 125th (Lancashire Fusiliers) Brigade on 10th August 1916.
After the evacuation from Gallipoli the 42nd Division had settled into No 3 Section of the Suez Canal defences at Kantara until 4th August 1916 when a Turkish attack began the Battle of Romani. The division entrained for Pelusium. The following day the British sallied out from their entrenched positions to support the ANZAC Mounted Division in pursuing the enemy. However, the 42nd was untrained in desert conditions, and suffered badly from heat and thirst in the Sinai Desert: large numbers fell out and there were many deaths. The infantry pursuit was ineffective and the enemy retreated in good order.
In December 1916, the Egyptian Expeditionary Force began its advance across Sinai to attack the Turkish forces in Palestine. 42nd Division's units were protecting the lines of communication, and on 13th December took part in a practice attack. However, after reaching El Arish, the division received orders on 28th January 1917 to transfer to the Western Front. On 6th February Gresty embarked at Alexandria for Marseilles, landing there on 10th February.
The 42nd Division first went into the line on the Western Front on 8th April 1917 near to Epehy, and the division remained in that sector until 8th July, when it moved to the Ypres Salient. From 23rd August until the end of the month it was behind the line at Poperinghe training for the Third Ypres Offensive and on 1st September the division went into the line near Frezenberg Ridge. The division's infantry were relieved and returned for rest at Poperinghe on 18th September, then moved to the Nieuport area until November 1917.
Gresty was appointed to Acting Company Sergeant Major with the 125th Machine Gun Company on 18th November 1917, but then reverted to Sergeant ‘on ceasing to perform duties’ on 17th February 1918, when he was posted out on a course as a Provost Sergeant. He then rejoined the 125th Machine Gun Company on 25th February 1918, on which date all machine gun companies of the various brigades in the 42nd Division had been formed together under the title of the 42nd Machine Gun Battalion.
During the winter of 1917 to 1918, the 42nd Division held the line near Givenchy, constructing defences on the new principle of 'defended localities' in anticipation of the German Spring Offensive. When the German attack came on 21st March the division was in General Headquarters reserve, but it was moved into the line to relieve the 40th Division and to defend against the north wing of the German offensive during what is known as the 1st Battle of Bapaume. On the morning of 25th March the Germans pushed through 40th Division to Sapignies. Despite having held its positions, both of 42nd Division's flanks were 'in the air' and it had to withdraw the following day, retiring to Bucquoy to continue the defence during the 1st Battle of Arras on 28th March. They were in old, dilapidated trenches, but held the line, and the German advance was checked. The division was relieved on the night of 29th/30th March. It returned to the front line on 1st/2nd April near Ayete and the following night 125th Brigade raided a new enemy strongpoint. At 05.00 on 5th April heavy shelling with high explosive and poison gas on the brigade front heralded the opening of the Battle of the Ancre. Although half of 1/8th Lancashire Fusiliers was overrun, 1/7th Battalion and the remainder were able to hold their ground. The enemy advance was brought to a standstill that evening. The division was withdrawn for rest and refit, returning to a quiet sector of the line around Gommecourt, where they refortified parts of the old Somme battlefield and helped to train newly arrived US Army troops.
By July 1918 the 125th Brigade was back in the line, and it was on 12th July 1918 that Gresty was wounded in action, suffering gun shot wounds to the ear and right ankle. Treated initially with the 1st/2nd East Lancashire Field Ambulance, he was then admitted to the 5th General Hospital at Rouen on 13th July, and to the 73rd General Hospital at Trouville on 15th July, from where he recovered to join the Base Depot at Camiers on 1st August. Gresty then rejoined the 42nd Machine Gun Battalion ‘in the field’ on 21st August 1918, and found himself involved in the Second Battle of the Somme during the attack towards Miraumont in the Battle of Albert which began on 21st August, the day of his rejoining, and ended on the 25th August.
Gresty was then sent home on leave to the United Kingdom via Boulogne from 27th August to 10th September 1918, and it was during this period of leave that he was presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal by the Lord Major of Manchester during a ceremony held on 9th September at Manchester City Hall. On his return to France on 10th September, he was immediately admitted to No.7 General Hospital.
He however recovered from whatever was wrong with him, and having rejoined the 42nd Machine Gun Battalion was then appointed to Acting Warrant Officer 2nd Class and Acting Company Sergeant Major, a rank he had been informed of back on 1st September 1918. He was however then almost immediately sent back home to the United Kingdom, he be a candidate for a commission, which however never materialised with the advent of the Armistice on 11th November 1918.
Gresty was discharged on 7th January 1919, and returned to his trade as an iron worker, and eventually died at Crumpsall Hospital in Manchester on 15th November 1964, he being shown as a retired iron dresser