Shell Green Cemetery

This cemetery consists of two smaller cemeteries that were joined and enlarged by the concentration of graves from nearby battlefield cemeteries such as Artillery Road. Situated on a sloping cotton field, Shell Green was subject to frequent enemy shelling throughout the campaign. Many of the original graves were elaborately decorated before the evacuation in December 1915.

All but one of the 409 men buried here are Australians. They were mainly from the 9th and 11th Battalions (166) and the Australian Light Horse (122). Brigadier General Granville Ryrie, the commanding officer of the 2nd Light Horse Brigade which served in the Shell Green area, was struck by the casualties his unit had suffered since their arrival in May 1915. On 2 December he wrote:

I have had 3,156 casualties, that is killed, wounded and sick, that is twice as many as I landed here with. 900 of them were killed and wounded and the rest sick, we sent 34 away today, chiefly frost bite. The Turks gave Lone Pine a great shelling the day before yesterday and we lost 8 Officers and 100 men, most of them buried in the tunnels, which the shells broke in.[Sir Granville Ryrie, letters 1900-1919, MS 986, National Library of Australia]

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Bodies of 11th Battalion ready for burial at Shell Green [AWM P02023.002]

Buried at Shell Green are:

Trooper William John Cyril Kidman, 6th Light Horse Regiment

(Plot II, Row K, Grave 7).
and

Trooper William Harold O’Brien, 6th Light Horse Regiment

(Plot II, Row K, Grave 6)

William Kidman, born at Petersham, NSW in 1895, was a stock and station clerk before he enlisted in September 1914. He arrived on Gallipoli in late May and was killed on 12 July 1915, aged 19. His mother Ellen Kidman of Manly, NSW, seems to have become somewhat reconciled to his death when after the war she chose this epitaph for his headstone:

Eternal Rest Grant Him, O Lord Not Our Will, But Thine Be Done.

William Harold O’Brien was also working as a stock and station agent when he enlisted at Forbes in September 1914. He was 27 when he was killed in action on 12 July 1915. The epitaph chosen by his parents for his headstone reads simply:

In Loving Memory

The action in which Troopers Kidman and O’Brien met their deaths took place on the morning of 12 July 1915. A diversionary attack commenced with a short artillery bombardment followed by the advance of two small parties men of the 6th and 7th Light Horse from Ryrie’s Post on Bolton’s Ridge behind Shell green. Reacting quickly the Turks killed four men including Troopers Kidman and O’Brien and wounded eleven. Two more two were wounded while recovering Kidman and O’Brien’s bodies. They were initially buried in an isolated grave at Holly Ridge but their remains were exhumed in 1919 and buried beside each other at Shell Green.

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Temporary burial place of Kidman and O’Brien [AWM P00741.001]

Driver Harry Lees Millington, 4th Light Horse Regiment, AIF

(Plot I, Row F, Grave 2)

Harry Millington was a machine gunner with the 4th Light Horse Regiment. He had a good opinion of his enemy:

… the Turk is a pretty game fighter….  Things are pretty hot here at times, but I can assure you we are giving the Turks a far worse time than they are giving us’. [Millington Family, PR89/015, AWM]

In dark, cold conditions, early on the morning of 27 November, the Turks mounted an attack on Ryrie’s Post, killing three Light Horsemen and wounding several others. One of the dead was Harry Millington. Just five days before his death, Millington wrote to his mother Alice at Axedale, Victoria:

I went to church yesterday morning, just behind the trenches, down in the gully, away from shells, we had a great old sing. [Millington Family, PR89/015, AWM]

On Christmas Day 1915, Lieutenant C B Smith wrote to the bereaved family:

There was no better boy on the machine Gun Section of the 4th Light Horse than your son … The boy always associated with the best fellows on the section and was always just the man you would have him to be, willing, a good horseman, always smart and clean on parade, … he lived well – a good clean life and you may justly be proud of him. [Millington Family, PR89/015, AWM]

For his headstone Millington’s parents chose these words:

The Lord Gave And The
Lord Hath Taken Away

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Harry Millington ‘In Memoriam card’ (with photograph) AWM PR89/015

Captain Walter Aland Leslie, 7th Battery,
3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade

(Plot I, Row I, Grave 1)

On the morning of 6 May Captain Walter Leslie and Lieutenant Percy Ross and their gun crews were on Bolton’s Ridge attempting to destroy a concealed Turkish position when Leslie was wounded in the arm and thigh. Confusion seems to have surrounded the subsequent death and burial of Captain Leslie who was reported to have been taken on board the hospital ship Gloucester Castle, where he died at 8pm and was buried at sea. His family was told that he had died of wounds on 8 June 1915.

However, in 1919 Leslie’s remains were located on Gallipoli by the Graves Registration Unit and buried at Shell Green Cemetery. Captain Leslie received Special Mention in Divisional Orders for conspicuous gallantry or valuable service for the period 6 May to 28 June 1915. His brother Sergeant Arthur Leslie, also with the 3rd Australian Field Brigade, was killed in France in 1918.

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Captain Walter Aland Leslie [AWM PO2449.002]
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Shell Green showing spot where Capt Leslie was killed [AWM P00117.005]

Second Lieutenant Alexander John Robertson 11th Battalion

(Plot II, Row H, Grave 4)

Buried in this cemetery are the remains of 106 men of the 11th Battalion, 36 of whom were killed in action at Leane’s Trench on 1 August 1915. A further 40 men of the battalion were killed on 6 August including Second Lieutenant Alexander John Robertson, a mining engineer and geologist with the Geological Survey Department in Perth. Following a heavy Turkish artillery barrage, and the 11th’s subsequent breakthrough into Leane’s Trench, the twenty-eight year-old officer, a newly-arrived reinforcement, led a party from Tasmania Post into the trench to find it ‘paved with killed and wounded’. The Turks, moving along the trench, continued to throw bombs towards the advancing party and Lieutenant Robertson was killed. The epitaph chosen by his family for his headstone reads:

I died to free you,
Good night beloved,
Meet me on that morn.

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2nd Lt A J Robertson’s headstone