Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles

This article on Pink Farm Cemetery will provide you with an overview of the cemetery and look at some of the soldiers buried there. I also have other pages about Gallipoli and have written guides to help you research soldiers who served in the British Army during the First World War:

Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles

Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles contains the graves of 602 Commonwealth soldiers who died during the Gallipoli Campaign. Of these burials, 250 are unidentified and there are 219 special memorials to casualties believed to be buried there. Casualties date from the opening day of the invasion on 25 April 1915 until 7 January 1916, just prior to the evacuation of the Helles front. Pink Farm Cemetery derives its name from the red soil on which it was built. There were three cemeteries originally in the vicinity of Pink Farm, Nos.1, 2, and 3, and these were combined around No.3 Cemetery after the war. In addition, graves were brought in from the surrounding area including from Gully Beach and Gully Farm.

Pink Farm Cemetery Gallipoli 1The map below shows the location of Pink Farm close to Gully Beach with part of Gully Ravine just visible. Also shown on the map is Skew Bridge, the location of Skew Bridge Cemetery and X Beach, the scene of a successful landing on 25 April 1915 by the 2nd Battalion The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). The village of Krithia (Alçıtepe) is to the northeast of Pink Farm and the road to the south of the village runs all the way down to the Helles Memorial and Sedd el Bahr (Seddülbahir). Pink Farm Cemetery is three miles from the Helles Memorial and you’ll pass Lancashire Landing Cemetery on the way. There is a small track which leads off the road to Gully Ravine. If you approach the cemetery from Alçıtepe, you’ll pass Twelve Tree Copse Cemetery which is nearly two miles away from Pink Farm Cemetery.Pink Farm Cemetery contains the graves of nine British officers who served in the Indian Army, the highest total of any cemetery at Gallipoli. Lieutenant Christopher Theodore Corrie Irvine, 25th Punjabis attached 69th Punjabis, was shot in the head by a sniper on 28 June 1915 and died two hours later. This is the only grave to a soldier of the 69th Punjabis on Gallipoli, though there are three other ranks commemorated on the Helles Memorial to those with no known graves. The 69th Punjabis had left Egypt for Gallipoli on 26 April, with Lieutenant Irvine one of twelve British officers then serving with the Regiment. Disembarking on 1 May, the Regiment was withdrawn to France on 19 May. Irvine remained on Gallipoli and was serving on the 29th Indian Infantry Brigade’s Staff when he was killed. He had been commissioned on 11 December 1909 and was serving with the 1st Battalion The Connaught Rangers in India when the First World War commenced. Irvine transferred to the Indian Army and joined the 25th Punjabis on 15 August 1914 though he was attached to the 69th Punjabis on 14 August 1914.Christopher Irvine 69th Punjabis buried in the Pink Farm Cemetery, Gallipoli.Also buried in the cemetery is Captain Christopher William Brodrick Birdwood, 1st Battalion The 6th Gurkha Rifles. William Birdwood was the nephew of General William Birdwood commander of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Gallipoli Campaign. Christopher Birdwood was badly wounded during the attack on Gully Ravine on 4 June 1915 and though carried off the battlefield succumbed to peritonitis on 7 June 1915. His younger brother, Second Lieutenant Gordon Alick Brodrick Birdwood, had been killed in action on 20 September 1914 while serving with the South Lancashire Regiment. In Birdwood’s confidential report for 1913-14, he had been described by his commanding officer as a ”Reliable, sound officer. Plenty of tact, judgment and initiative. Will make a good staff officer”. Birdwood’s epitaph is taken from the poem The Householder by Robert Browning. The following paragraph was taken from The History of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) 1858-1928:

The 1/6th Gurkhas were holding Gurkha Bluff, and in the noontide offensive their outstanding achievement had been the action of a single double company, which under Captain Birdwood had worked its way round by the cliffs to the north of the bluff and gained a footing in a Turkish communication trench, which formed the enemy main artery of communication in that part of the line. There they had contrived to maintain themselves for some twenty minutes, but being strongly attacked by superior numbers of the enemy armed with a copious supply of bombs, to which they had not with wherewithal to reply, they had then been forced to retire, Captain Birdwood himself being mortally wounded and some 20 of his men killed.

Captain Christopher William Brodrick BirdwoodThere is also a special memorial to Lieutenant Montague Douglas Spankie, 14th King George’s Own Ferozepore Sikhs who is believed to be buried in the cemetery. Spankie had been commissioned on 29 January 1910 and had joined the 14th Sikhs on 10 December 1912. In his last confidential report for the year 1913-1914, his commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Charles Palin wrote:

An excellent young officer, is keen and as Quarter-Master has a very good knowledge of his work. Most popular with all ranks. Not passed for promotion.

Lieutenant Spankie, who was killed in action, was initially buried on Gully Beach but his body could not be identified after the war when the bodies were exhumed and reburied in Pink Farm Cemetery. When Turkish forces reoccupied the area after the Allied evacuation in January 1916, they often used the wooden grave markers for fuel. This is why there are so many “believed to be buried in this cemetery” special memorials on Gallipoli.Lieutenant Montague Douglas SpankieLieutenant Rafe Langdon Beddy was another Indian Army officer who was mortally wounded on 4 June 1915. Beddy was in charge of the machine guns of the 1st Battalion 5th Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) which were giving covering fire when he saw his friend Captain Gerry Turner fall. The following paragraph from The History of the 5th Royal Gurkha Rifles (Frontier Force) 1858-1928 describes what happened next:

The story of the happenings on the centre spur could be told in almost the same words. Near the top of the cliffs, No.1 Double Company found its way barred by a concealed trench. No effort was spared to capture it, but without result. Captain Turner was shot through the head, and died instantaneously, and a number of his men, too, were either killed or wounded. Lieutenant Beddy, who up to this time had been covering the advance of the companies with machine-guns from a concealed position near the 6th Gurkha trenches, saw Captain Turner fall, and leaving his place of comparative safety ran out across the open in the hope of arriving in time to lend a hand. By some miracle he succeeded in traversing the greater part of the intervening distance, but he was then hit in the side, and died the same night.

R. L. Beddy was small of stature, but with a great heart. Active and energetic, he never knew when he was beaten, and to see him at football go straight and hard, caring not in the least what stood between him and his objective, was a lesson in courage for the onlooker. He and Turner were as David and Johnathan, and it was his desperate anxiety on his friend’s account when he saw him fall that led to his own death.

Beddy and Turner were buried side by side in Gurkha Ravine and reburied after war in Pink Farm Cemetery, Helles. Turner is commemorated by a special memorial as it was not possible to identify his body.Rafe Langdon Beddy Pink Farm CemeteryIf you’d like to learn more about the Indian Army’s involvement in the campaign, I can recommend Die in Battle, Do Not Despair: The Indians on Gallipoli, 1915 by Peter Stanley.

Below is the view from Pink Farm Cemetery looking out to the Canakkale Martyrs’ Memorial which commemorates the Turkish soldiers who fought during the Gallipoli Campaign. You can see it on the horizon in the photograph above to the right of the gateway looking like a block of flats. The Memorial is 41.70 meters (137 feet) in height and is a useful landmark to navigate by when walking the battlefield.Pink Farm Cemetery GallipoliAs I was walking away from Pink Farm Cemetery I came across this little turtle walking along the embankment of the road. I had been on the lookout for a turtle on both my trips to Gallipoli but had only ever seen their empty shells before. They were popular pets and many were taken off the peninsula by soldiers and I came across this newspaper article about one which was brought back to the UK: The War Tortoise. Tortoises often live for well over 100 years and so it’s likely that there are still a few who lived through the Gallipoli Campaign wandering about!Pink Farm Cemetery Turtle