Shoulder strap, Bloody Angle, Gallipoli : Second Lieutenant H J Burton, 16 Battalion, AIF

Place Middle East: Ottoman Empire, Turkey, Dardanelles, Gallipoli, Anzac Area (Gallipoli), Quinn's Post Area, Bloody Angle
Accession Number RELAWM07839.011
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Oxidised brass, Wool
Maker Unknown
Place made Australia
Date made c 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Damaged shoulder strap from an Australian officer's tunic, which appears to have been cut from the uniform. The strap has two badges, an 'AUSTRALIA' shoulder title and an officer's pip, denoting the rank of second lieutenant. Both badges are warped and have verdigris. Each badge has two lugs, attached to the strap with two small split pins each. The strap and badges have remains of dried mud on it. There are multiple small holes in the fabric.

History / Summary

This shoulder strap was found on 10 January 1919 by Lieutenant William Hopkin James, who was working on Gallipoli, leading a small party from the Australian War Records Section, taking photographs and collecting items for the national collection. James found fragments of uniforms and bones in a gully between Quinn's Post and Dead Man's Ridge, leading up to the Bloody Angle. They were the remains of members of the 16th Battalion (Bn), who had attempted to extend the Australian line, to the left of Quinn's Post from 2 to 3 May 1915.

On 2 May the battalion was ordered to the front line, to the left of Quinn's Post, where they were to advance to a position that was later called the Bloody Angle. The 13th Bn was to extend its line to the left, joining with the New Zealand Otago Bn, who were to attack Baby 700. The 15th Bn were to take part from Pope's Hill.

The attack took place in the evening of 2 May. After the bombardment of the Turkish positions ceased, the 16th Bn made their way up the steep side of the valley, towards the Bloody Angle. The Turks held their fire until the battalion reached the top of the ridge, then directed heavy fire opened on it, mostly from their positions at The Nek and the Chessboard. The battalion fought and dug in throughout the night, extending the trench line from Quinn's Post. Some of their men found an abandoned Turkish trench on the crest of the Bloody Angle and occupied it.

During the attack the Otago Bn failed to reach their objective at Baby 700 and were forced to dig in near The Nek. The 13th Bn positioned themselves on the other side of the gully, to the left of the 16th Bn, but each battalion was uncertain of each other's location and could not join up.

At dawn on 3 May, the New Zealanders withdrew under heavy fire and the Turks occupied their line. The Turks in front of the 16th Bn attacked, but were driven back. The 16th Bn then attempted to attack a Turkish position, from which heavy rifle fire was coming, but the Turks were alerted to the attack and their machine gun fire from Baby 700 raked the line. In addition, nearby Turks threw bombs and expended heavy fire on the men of the 16th Bn. The dead lay thickly between their respective positions.

As the sky lightened, the Turks crept through the scrub towards the 16th Bn and inflicted further heavy casualties. Although attempts were made to reinforce the 16th Bn, the Turkish fire made it impossible to reach them. The battalion gradually withdrew through the day, and the Turks took over their trench line. Having lost support from both their left and right flanks, the 13th Bn then withdrew during the night.

The 16th Bn suffered very high casualties at the Bloody Angle. Entering the action with 17 officers and 620 men, they lost eight officers and 330 men. Of the officers killed, only one was a second lieutenant when he died - Harry James Burton - and this strap came from his uniform.

Burton was born on 23 March 1895. He enlisted as a second lieutenant on 23 September 1915 he was 19 years old and working as a draughstman. He had previously served with the 76th Infantry (militia), attaining the rank of lieutenant.

Burton embarked on 22 December 1914 from Melbourne with G company 16 Battalion, aboard HMAT Ceramic. He was later transferred to D Company and landed at Gallipoli on the evening of 25 April 1915. After the action at the Bloody Angle on 2 to 3 May, Burton was initally listed as missing. This was later changed to killed in action.

The battalion's dead at Bloody Angle remained unburied until after the war, when their remains were recovered by the Graves Registration Unit and buried in the newly established Quinn's Post cemetery nearby.