Biography – Samuel Ernest Clissold

Samuel was born in 1894 at Lorne, Victoria. He attended Lorne State School and worked as a coach driver most likely working for his dad and the Clissold Cartage Company.
On April 1 1915 Samuel, with no military or rifle experience, enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force as a private. His initial training was undertaken at Broadmeadows.
One month later, on May 6 1915, he was assigned to the 1st Reinforcements 22nd Battalion for further training before being transferred to the 7th Battalion, 6th Reinforcements two days before embarking for overseas. The 7th Battalion was among the first infantry units raised for the AIF during the First World War. Like the 5th, 6th and 8th Battalions, it was recruited from Victoria and, together with these battalions, formed the 2nd Brigade.
On June 17, 1915 Samuel boarded the HMAT Wandilla from Melbourne with the 7th Battalion, 6th Reinforcements, arriving in Egypt for some further training before being deployed and arriving in Gallipoli on August 5, 1915.
By this time, the Allies had ground to a stalemate in Gallipoli and the constant casualties of trench warfare were mounting. It was decided that the Allies launch ‘the August offensive’ – a big assault at the centre of the Anzac battlefield which became known as the Battle of Lone Pine. Firstly, in an attempt to break the stalemate and secondly, in support of a British and French landing to the north at Suvla Bay, the Anzacs would storm deeply entrenched Turkish positions. The plateau was central to the whole ANZAC position. The Lone Pine attack, launched by the 1st Brigade AIF in the late afternoon of 6 August 1915 pitched Australian forces against formidable entrenched Turkish positions, sections of which were securely roofed over with pine logs.
The attack got bogged down in the labyrinth of roofed Turkish trenches. The Australian troops started to dig their own saps across no-man’s land to access the Turkish trenches. But it became easier to go over the top of the parapet of their own trenches, run to the Turks and fire down into their trenches. In some instances the attackers had to break in through the roof of the trench systems in order to engage the defenders.
This left the Australian troops open to well emplaced Turkish machine guns. In the maze of open and underground Turkish trenches many of the Australian troops started getting lost. Others were caught by the Turkish defenders who were concealed behind corners and at intersections in the labyrinth of well-established trenches. During the following days the Australians were constantly under counter attack from the enemy.
After taking over positions that had been captured by the 1st Brigade, the 7th Battalion was sent up to the plateau to relieve the 1st and 2nd on the afternoon of August 8. They defended the trenches against repeated Turkish counterattacks. It was during this Battle of Lone Pine that Samuel was injured by a bomb on August 8. He sustained injuries to his head, legs and arms. He died on August 15, at 19th General Hospital Alexandria from the wounds he received in action He is buried at Chatby War Memorial Cemetery, Egypt and commemorated at Lorne Cemetery.
Lone Pine saw enormous sacrifice and extraordinary bravery, with 7 Victoria Crosses won, (the nation’s highest military decoration) and four of those to the 7th Battalion who lost 12 officers and 342 men during this campaign. In total, the 4 days of intense hand-to-hand fighting, resulted in over 2,000 Australian casualties.
Despite the battalion’s success in holding the trenches at Lone Pine, the August Offensive failed to break the deadlock as setbacks elsewhere resulted in continued stalemate and for the rest of the campaign the fighting was relatively static.

 

Sources:

National Australia Archives – Service Record Samuel Clissold
7th Battalion History  https://www.awm.gov.au/units/unit_11194.asp
Digger History  http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-conflicts-periods/ww2/pages-2aif-cmf/7-div-aif.htm

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