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From Armoured Cars to Coldstream Guards: An American Volunteer During the First World War & The Battle of the Somme, 1916: Third Stage

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From Armoured Cars to Coldstream Guards: An American Volunteer During the First World War & The Battle of the Somme, 1916: Third Stage
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Louis Starr & John Buchan
Date Published: 2023/03
Page Count: 132
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-916535-21-3
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-916535-20-6

The outstanding military career of Dillwyn Starr

This book follows the military career and First World War experiences of Dillwyn Starr, a young American volunteer who was determined to fight for the allied cause in the Great War. It was written by Starr's father and his text is supported by his son's correspondence and journal entries. Starr's first attempt to join the war effort saw him working with the wounded in Europe with the American Volunteer Ambulance Service, but he was shortly given the opportunity to join the British Royal Navy Air Service serving with its armoured car force. He subsequently served with the armoured cars during the Gallipoli Campaign and Starr's time with this rarely reported arm of the Royal Navy makes compelling reading. After returning from Gallipoli, Starr was presented with two quite different opportunities. The first would allow him to become a pilot with the RFC whilst the other offered a commission in the prestigious British infantry regiment, The Coldstream Guards. Starr elected to become a guardsman and that decision took him to the trench warfare of the Western Front where he was killed in action. Starr's story is supported in this Leonaur edition by John Buchan's overview of the third stage of The Battle of the Somme, which is the focus of the final segment of the personal account. Contains images not present in the original edition.

Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

August 6th. “About 2 o’clock in the afternoon our ships and monitors began to shell the enemy on the heights. Most wonderful sight. At 3.15 my guns opened and fired seven hundred rounds each before the infantry left their trenches at 3.40. They advanced through an embrasure, the whole line of bayonets gleaming in the sun. Some fell as they stepped out, many as they got near objective, Turkish shrapnel being well directed; the few remaining fell back.”
August 7th. “After quiet night, start bombarding at 8.10 a.m. and continue until 10.40. I fire No. 4 gun. In face of heavy fire our men go out in single file this time. Many fell at one spot near our parapet; some reached the Turkish trench and bending over seemed to go in head first; a few took cover behind trees. Saw one of them leave shelter, and help a wounded pal in. Could plainly see Turks—big strong looking men—working and walking in their reserve trenches, and trained my guns on them at thousand yards range. Soon they advanced in mass formation to counter-attack and I put two guns on them and fired a thousand rounds into their ranks. Still, they came on and drove our too few men out of the trench they had taken. Then their advance stopped. In afternoon I sniped them as they repaired the parapet of their recaptured trench. All day could hear sound of guns from Suvla.”
The after impressions of the battle are given in a later letter:
August 18th, 1915.
Well, the attack has been made and was a complete failure here. Almost four thousand men went out and very few came back. Some monitors and ships bombarded Achi Baba for two hours. The Turks during this moved down into a gully and came back after it to their second line and massed four deep to meet our men. I was on higher ground with four guns and could clearly see our charges of the afternoon of the 6th and the morning of the 7th. The men went out in a hail of bullets and it was a wonderful sight to see them. Many of them fell close to our parapets, though a good number reached the Turkish trenches, there to be killed.
On the morning of the 7th the Turks made a counter-attack and drove our men out of the lightly held trenches they had taken. Our guns, fortunately, took a lot of them, my two guns fired a thousand rounds into their closely formed mass. Three hundred of our men were lost in a trench that they had advanced into, and I saw three wounded men behind a tree in front of the enemy’s line who could not be brought in, and many dead lying on the ground between the lines.
Matters went as badly as possible at the new landing at Suvla. Losses at the landing itself were almost nothing. The troops easily could have gone directly across the Peninsula and cut off Achi Baba. But after going in five miles without opposition they got thirsty and couldn’t get water, so retired. They hold a strip of the coast about a mile deep. Lost thousands of men in securing it, and now the Turks are busy digging themselves in, and again it will be trench warfare. This means that all is up. Two generals have been sent back to England on account of the fiasco.
From this description you can gather what I think of this campaign. There are a great many more Turks here than the English think. I think that probably our forces will have to spend the winter here unless everything changes suddenly. Even if we do, we won’t get through to Constantinople unless very many more and good troops are sent out. The ground is full of gullies, and, by nature, so advantageous to defence that a few of the enemy can hold it against hundreds.

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