Monday, 25 April 2016

Uncle John's experience at Gallipoli

Today it is 101 years since the Anzacs landed on the Gallipoli coast, naiively thinking they could rout the Turks and triumphantly march into Constantinople. It was not to be. Instead, they saw a heavy defeat. More than 2700 New Zealand soldiers perished on the inhospitable Turkish slopes, and thousands more were wounded, including my great uncle, John W Cobb, whom I pause to remember today.

Uncle John was known as Jack to his family. He was one of the first New Zealanders to sign up for war, just one week after Britain declared war on Germany. He left from Wellington with the Main Body, the first group of soldiers who left to fight. Jack thought that he was off to fight the enemy in Europe, as all the men did. Instead, they ended up in Egypt, and then were shipped over to the Gallipoli peninsula. It was there, on 25 April 1915, the Anzacs were tasked with fighting uphill without fresh water, adequate protection, and without a solid plan of attack. It was a miserable failure.

Just two days into the battle, Jack and the Wellington Infantry of which he was a part, were involved in heavy fighting including bayonette attacks on Walker's Ridge. Just as Jack sat down to have a cup of tea with his mate, enemy soldiers opened fire on the both of them. Tragically, Jack's comrade was killed instantly, but Jack survived. A few hours later he was involved in more fighting with several enemy soldiers who appeared disguised as Australian troops. It was during this episode that Jack received a nasty gunshot wound in his thigh and had to be evacuated from the peninsula.

After Jack recovered from his injuries, he returned to Gallipoli as a Sergeant, and was there during the evacuation of the peninsular where he was selected as one of the last 15 men from his unit to remain in the trenches. Later, Jack served on the Western Front for 18 months during which time he was commissioned to the rank of Lieutenant. Sadly, Jack was killed during the Battle of Messines on 6 June 1918 and is buried in an unmarked grave.

Remembering Lieutenant John (Jack) Wesley Cobb.

The short video below, is in rememberance of all those who serviced, and particularly of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Lest we forget.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lt Cobb served with the tunnelling Coy during the
Arras cavern construction period. Can you explain his relationship to Bert Barnett please. Bert died one hundred years ago, tomorrow. Are you able to provide me with a high res pic of his grave as per his page. Many thanks for your help and your work to remember family service in WW1. Having family able to and happy to share stories is a great help for people like myself, trying to guild a wider picture. Best sue