On August 16 1915 the 1st/4th Battalion Northampton Regiment advanced on Kidney Hill, Gallipoli. Pte John Rideout (aged 15!) was shot in both legs and 2nd Lt Malcolm Hancock (aged 18, below) carried him to safety, for which Malcolm was awarded the MC.
On July 21 2013, John Rideout’s grandson, Malcolm Harris, emailed me out of the blue. I quote:
I came across your website almost by accident, and have to tell you that I think it is brilliant not just for the content but also for the part your grandfather played in my family history
As part of my occasional delving into parts of my family history and as a result of my Uncle’s hard work in that area I visited the IWM to view for myself the papers that Malcolm Hancock’s family had donated and it was only then that I found the long interview that Malcolm had done for the IWM when he retired. Listening to the part of the tape which describes the first contact with the Turks I was staggered to hear from the horse’s mouth how he saved my grandfather’s life but also how he had remembered my grandfather’s name after all of those years. So he saved my grandfather’s life, but as a direct result of that he met (and married) my grandmother. If he had not been wounded and repatriated they would never have met.
It is no surprise then that when his first grandson was born (yours truly) I was christened as my family’s first “Malcolm”.
I have attached a short family history that was put together shortly after my grandfather passed away which you may find interesting
PS My auntie still has the bullet that passed through both of my grandfather’s legs.
I was moved by the content and am indebted to Malcolm for making the connection some 98 years on, helping to link up family history, and piecing together another part of the jigsaw. Below are four accounts of the event, from Malcolm’s IWM interview, from John’s family memories, from an article by Martin kender publish in The Gallipolian in 1996, and a witness account from 2nd Lt Alban Goderic Arthur Hodges.
From Malcolm Hancock’s IWM Interview:
Question: Could I just ask you, this first day, there seems to have been an absolute breakdown in communications, would you this was a fair comment?
MEH: I think very fair comment, there didn’t seem to be any communication except what one could find out by the Commanding Officer either going himself and trying to find the Brigade HQ (whether he ever did or not I don’t know), or sending a runner, because there was no question of picking up a telephone and saying, hello is that Head Quarters? Those sort of communications didn’t exist. That’s what made it so frustrating to us, we didn’t seem to have any objective, we weren’t told anything definite. We just waited to hear what the commanding officer could find out and tell us to do.
Anyway, in the morning we then were then given definite orders. My Company, “A” Company, was given definite orders to occupy a position slightly down on our right that is between Kiretch Tepe on our left and the Anafata Villages and ANZAC which was on our right. Slightly down Kiretch Tepe Hill and to go up a slope [I assume Kidney Hill] – because the Commanding Officer thought that we were being fired at but it was so difficult to know where the fire was coming from, he thought the fire was coming from the other side of that little hill – which we did in open order as per Boar War almost. Anyway, we advanced there, we took up a position and lay down. One of my Corporals was at that moment wounded and he was pretty bad and I sent for stretcher bearers. After a little time, stretcher bearers came along and they got him away. Now one of them stayed with me, he was a young boy whose name was Rideout I remember, he was one of my Platoon, and he was standing next to me, he was only a yard away from me I suppose, when suddenly he was shot through both legs and . . . this was a rifle, must have been a rifle bullet . . . and it sounded just like the crack of a whip like that [makes cracking sound!] and it went through both his legs and of course he fell down. Well, I thought I’d better get down too, which I did, and when I recovered myself a bit I thought well this doesn’t seem to be much good and at that moment, fortunately, we were recalled by our Company Commander because it was obviously an untenable position and we were recalled back over the ridge which we had just gone over. This boy couldn’t do anything, couldn’t move, couldn’t stand, couldn’t do anything. So I somehow or other rather like a fireman putting someone over their shoulders managed to get him on my back and I got him away. Now I can’t help feeling that at that moment when I took him down we must have been in full view of some enemy. If he had been shot on that spot why wasn’t I? And that’s why I think it that was one that the reasons that the Turk fought fair. He could have wiped us out, both of us out but he didn’t and I believe that was because he, obviously he’d got his man so to speak, and we were going back – well let them get on with it. I think that might have been in the Turk’s mind as it were, and I respected him for that. Anyway, to cut rather a long story short we got back and we again were relieved by a battalion of the Essex Regiment or something like that.
From John Rideout’s family memories:
All the time we were disembarking the allied ships in the harbour carried on shelling the Turkish positions in land, which was supposed to make our attack easier. Then we were ordered to march about half a mile inland where we were allowed to take off our equipment and relax for a while, very welcome in view of the stinking hot weather, spent most of the time in the shade and swatting the millions of flies. Already hearing the counter fire coming from the Turkish lines and stories of heavy casualties from the Bedfordshire Regiment. The order was given for us to clear a sight behind our lines and set up a bivouac for the night, though we were to excited to think of sleep, but at 4.30 pm the order came to fall into our respective companies (Harry Simons was also in the same company as me) and the whole battalion moved towards Kiretch Tepe to support the Bedfordshire Regt. At this point I was told that being so young I would not be going to the forward position and would remain at the rear of the company with others of a similar age to act as stretcher bearers (very disappointed).
We moved forward under small arms and shrapnel fire over country covered with rocks and thorn scrub, which was very hard going and offered virtually no cover. The first casualty was a captain in ‘B’ Company who was wounded by a stray bullet, our company (‘A’) managed to find the shelter in amongst the rocks and scrub without any further casualties. After a night out in the open the battalion moved forward at first light to a position called Kidney Hill, and although under continuous fire could not define any enemy positions. My company (‘A’) was in the lead when a Lance Corporal of number 2 platoon was seriously wounded in the back .The platoon commander (my Platoon) a Lt Hancock immediately went to his aid and called for stretcher bearers, “Off you go Rideout”, so myself and others went forward amidst whining bullets carrying a stretcher. No sooner had we reached them when I felt a searing pain, and down I went, Lt Hancock organized the other men to load the wounded man on to the stretcher and take him back to our lines, he then hoisted me onto his back and despite being in full view of the Turkish lines made it back to our rear position.
For this deed Lt Hancock was awarded the Military Cross, a more detailed account of this action is held at the Imperial War Museum under the diaries of Lt Hancock. From hereon the details of how I arrived at the hastily erected tents for the wounded are rather sketchy, whilst receiving treatment for my wounds I heard that my friend Harry Simons had also been wounded. Amid a lot of activity around the tents some of us were told that we are being transferred to a hospital ship moored in the bay, and then back home to England, my war had lasted just a few short weeks. On board this ship our surgical needs were performed as best as the conditions allowed, the ship appeared to be packed with the many wounded. I do not remember any of the return trip home, being bedridden all the way until we reached Devonport again.
In April 1983, my father, Michael, took Malcolm back to the battle fields of Gallipoli.
From Article by Martin Kinder in The Gallipolian Issue No 80, Spring 1996:
After a night in the open amongst the rocks, the battalion moved forward at first light to Kidney Hill, and although under continuous fire, could not locate the enemy positions. “A” Company were in the lead when the Lance Corporal of Number 2 platoon was seriously wounded in the back. The platoon commander, Lieutenant. M.E. Hancock, dressed his wound and called for stretcher bearers. When they came, one, the 15 year old Private Rideout, was shot through both legs by a single bullet. The remaining bearers removed the Lance Corporal and Hancock carried Rideout to the rear on his back, in full view of the Turkish front line troops. This was observed by Captain Pendered and Hancock was subsequently awarded the Military Cross for his bravery.
From Malcolm Hancock’s ‘While Memory lasts’:
Our first movement was to form up a few hundred yards inland from which we could see something of the lie of the land and there we stayed for most of the day. Later in the afternoon we were told to take up a position further toward ready to push on in support of the advance troop. Here we came face to face with the grim reality for, as we went forward up slightly rising ground towards Kiretch Tepe Hill, men from the front line were streaming back, many of them wounded and dying. It was a terribly disconcerting foretaste of what we might be heading for. Most of them were the Bedfordshire Regiment, one of the battalions in our brigade. Towards the evening, after passing some of our artillery blazing away, we followed the direction in which they had been firing and found what shelter we could out of sight of the enemy and got what rest we could. This did not last long as, in an effort to get to grips with the enemy, the C.O. ordered us to take up position beyond some rising ground from beyond which we seemed to be getting fired on. This we did and managed to keep out of sight until it was dark. As soon as it was light my company was sent forward and although we were under considerable fire we still could see no sign of where it was coming from and were, no doubt, in a very vulnerable situation. One of my platoon N.C.O’s was hit and seriously wounded, I sent for a stretcher bearer and when they came one of them, when I found out afterwards was aged 15, was shot through both legs as he stood beside me. It sounded like the crack of a whip. Although the force of the bullet had knocked him over, it seemed to be only a flesh wound and I somehow got him undercover and got the stretcher bearer back too, at that point the C.O. told us to retire back to a small ridge as our position was obviously vulnerable and we gained a little respite.
From Alban Goderic Arthur Hodges (“B” Company):
“After a night (of the 15/16 August 1915/ in the open amongst the rocks, the battalion moved forward at first light to Kidney Hill, and although under continuous fire, could not locate the enemy positions. “A” Company were in the lead when the Lance Corporal of Number 2 platoon was seriously wounded in the back. The platoon commander, Lieutenant M.E. Hancock, dressed his wound and called for stretcher bearers. When they came, one, the 15 year old Private Rideout, was shot through both legs by a single bullet. The remaining bearers removed the Lance Corporal and Hancock carried Rideout to the rear on his back, in full view of the Turkish front line troops. This was observed by Captain Rendered and Hancock was subsequently awarded the Military Cross for his bravery.”
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So interesting to read both sides of the incident.
I met John Rideout’s Grandsons in May 2019 on Gallipoli. We were both were on a Leger Battlefield tour. I thought I had lost the bit of paper he had given me detailing the names but just found and looked up. One of Grandsons told me about the story and that he had met with Malcolm Hancock’s Grandson and had walked Kidney Hill with him whilst listening to IWM recording. Obviously a moving experience and I am not ashamed to say I was moved as it does recounting it now. I was at Gallipoli to remember my Grandfather’s friend Timothy Tucker. I have had in my possession his Man’s Penny and Christmas Box. When I started investigating him as no surviving family it was thought he died in the Somme. I found he had landed just round the corner at Sulva bay with the Chesires. Had been injured within a short time of landing. Evacuated to a hospital ship he dies within a few days of his wounds and is buried at sea. I also laid a Poppy Cross at Helles Memorial for my friend’s Great Uncle who was a 17 year old medic who died on his way there when his ship was torpedoed with a loss of over 900 lives. My Granddad was Navy WW1 and WW2 as RNVR and made it right through.
Many thanks for your comment. Yes, I met up with Malcolm and Tony in Gallipoli and they spent the day with us visiting Kidney Hill. It was moving as you say. Thank you for your intersting stories too.
Hello, I have been reading with interest the above accounts on how 2nd Lt Malcolm Hancock saved John Rideout during the Gallipoli campaign. I am the niece of John Rideout (my mother Edna being his sister) I remember her telling me about how my Uncle signed up under age after having white feathers given to him my misguided women. He was tall for his age and wanted to serve, after much talking with his parents they signed for him to go. I did not know about his rescue until reading the above, which is very interesting and brave of 2nd Lt Macolm Hancock. Both of my Grand fathers served in WW1 Grand father Clout was in the Queen’s 3rd Hussars and Grand father Rideout in the trenches. Also, my Father in law Henry Edwards served on the Iron Duke in the Battle of Jutland (he was the last man to be chosen for the Iron Duke. The rest of the men served on the Black Prince and she went down with all hands. He was lucky indeed. . My husband – also Henry Edwards served in the Navy in WW2. When his ship The Wild Swan sank in the Atlantic on 16th June 1942, I was not born until the August, and we met all those years later. He also served on Arctic Convoys and received the Ushakov medal from the Russian Consulate.. He lived to be 94, but the last years were bad with him being physically frail and then with the horrible War nightmares. So many young men and women gave their lives in so many conflicts and as long as mankind lives, there will never be peace. Thank you for the information above. I appreciate it. Susan Jane Edwards (Mrs).
Thank you so much for the comment. How very interesting and I am happy that you found this story. Your sentiments are about those who have suffered in conflict are so true – we are a lucky generation, and they are an extraordinary generation.