Captain George Edgecombe HELLYER
10th Hampshire Regiment
Date of birth: 4 May 1892
Date of death: 22 August 1915
Died of wounds received in action aged 23
No known grave.
George Edgecombe was the younger son of Robert Edgecombe Hellyer, a solicitor in Portsmouth, and his wife, Annie.
With his brother Frank, he was educated at Woodcote House School, South Stoke, Oxfordshire and then at Winchester. He went up to Christ Church in 1910. Both boys were fine rowers and George rowed in the College boat and was trialed for the University boat.
He commenced service at the outbreak of war and was gazetted to be a temporary Lieutenant in The Hampshire Regiment, 10th Battalion on 19 November, 1914.
The following is from the War Memoirs of Edward Dennis Deane 1895-1974 who served in George’s Platoon.
“The departure of the Division for Gallipoli began to take place in the first week in July, the trains leaving Basingstoke station at night. We paraded in the dark and marched through the empty, silent streets to the railway station. No cheerful send-off here.
“We left Liverpool docks in the liner Transylvania and sailed direct to the island of Mudros, arriving there on or about the 20th July. We disembarked and marched about a mile inland to a piece of ground, and told ‘this is your camp and you must make the best of it’. A bare bit of sandy, stony ground, no cover of any description and no canvas tents. We lay down as we fell out and this was to be ‘home’ for the next few days. Water was scarce, rations none too good and the flies were terrible. There was no cover from the sun and it was hot. All stores had to be manhandled from the beach, and the fittest men were exhausted before nightfall.
“The flies after a day or so were indescribable and made our lives a real misery, we didn’t know it, but infinitely worse were the Gallipoli flies.
“I think at this stage, had we been given adequate water and good ration, suitable for a hot climate, and some cover from the midday sun, we should have kept our fitness. As it was, being in the continual heat all day and sleeping rough at night sapped our stamina.
“We embarked for Gallipoli on 5th August and landed at Anzac the same night.
When we anchored off Gallipoli, prior to going ashore in barges, we could hear the continuous rippling of rifle and machine gun fire, the burst of bombs and the guns of warships letting off their broadsides. Whilst a group of us were listening to the cacophony, my very good friend Nick Carter, standing by my side, received a bullet wound [in the stomach] from which he died a day or so later and was buried at sea.
“At last the barges came alongside and we began to get into them as fast as possible and soon we were towed ashore and made our way to 'Shrapnel Gully' and commenced to make ourselves some kind of shelter before dawn. The odd lumps of metal were flying about so we got a move on. We got a few casualties but by daylight we had some kind of dugout, and we also had the flies. They swarmed, they got into our noses, ears and eating, and one had to eat flies too or starve. The stench of unburied dead was everywhere. It was not possible to bury them, there was no soil (I am speaking now of Anzac and the same conditions prevailed later between Anzac and the Suvla Bay). What ground suitable for and deep enough was utilised for the protection of the living. All of us craved for water and our ration of 1 pint or sometimes 1 quart per day was totally inadequate. (NOTE: in 1923 when serving with the RAF Armoured Cars in Iraq, personnel were allowed 4 gallons of drinking water per day, in addition to the water required for cooking purposes. Medical authorities considered this amount essential.)
“About 12 hours after landing we were able to take stock of ourselves. We were getting casualties and were anxious to get somewhere where we could retaliate. Some of use knew what was going to happen, we just waited. The following night we were ordered to prepare for action (we were ready for that at the time of landing). It was very dark when we got on the move following one behind the other, tripping over *** rocks. After hours of this caper we got into the front line on the seaward slopes of Chunuk Bair alongside the New Zealanders. Major Pillean, our Second in Command, was in command of us. We lost a lot of men getting into position, but holding it was going to cost lots more. It was savage fighting and we were just about pinned down. The Battn had gone into action on the morning of the 9th August with an approximate strength of 20 Officers and over 700 other ranks and had on the 10th August one combatant officer (my platoon officer, Capt Hellyer) and not more than 200 men.”
George died of wounds received in the battle, on 22 August 1915.
His name is on the Helles Memorial Panel 125-134 or 223-226 228-229 & 328.
He is also commemorated on the World War One Cross at St. Andrew’s Church, Farlington.
Probate was granted to his brother Capt. Frank E Hellyer RFC. He left £191-1s-1d.