3rd May 1915 – A grim day for the “original” Engineers


150 Leslie Cridland was a 22 years old carpenter and a well known St. Stephens Club footballer from Lidcombe, Sydney.

Prior to the Gallipoli landing Leslie was one of twenty original sappers selected and trained in demolition work and on board a troopship with a number of marines involved in the historic mission to “Force the Narrows” of the Dardanelles on March 8th 1915. This mission was abandoned when the two British battleships HMS “Ocean” and “Irresistible” and the French battleship Bouvet were lost .  Leslie gives a rare and personal account of this historic attempt which was later published in the Evening News Sydney, Monday 11 October 1915.

On the 3th May, 8 days after the landing at Gallipoli 150 Leslie Cridland was struck down with a gunshot wound to the left upper leg.
His wound is considered severe and his leg fractured so he is immediately transferred to Alexandria hospital, then onto Manchester hospital England and ultimately back to Australia and is medically discharged in January 1916.

On this same day 158 James Johnston a Scottish born 26 year old Blacksmith from Marrickville , Sydney is also wounded, a gunshot wound injuring his pelvis, groin area, thigh and buttock. James would later recover and return to Gallipoli.

On the night of the 3rd  while constructing communication trenches behind the firing line and in the early hours of the next morning Lieut. Clive Nielson Huntley was also severely wounded in action.

Lieut. Huntley was 30 years of age, a qualified engineer and draughtsman who worked in the Department of Works in Sydney.  He was also one of the attesting officers at Victoria Barracks for many of the sappers when they enlisted.

On the 4th May, Cridland, Johnston and Huntley were all transferred to the Hospital Ship “Gascon” and embarked for the hospital in Alexandria, Egypt.
Unfortunately later that day Lieut. Clive Huntley died from his wounds on route to Alexandria. He was buried at sea between Gallipoli and Alexandria, and the service was officiated by Chaplain Hugo.

A sad end for an officer who knew his sappers well, he had signed them up, helped to train them under extraordinary circumstances, and he was an officer who was extremely well liked by all the officers and  sappers. It was only fitting that at least two of his sappers although wounded themselves would have been present to honour him at his burial.

A historic Anzac symbol is Lieut. Clive Huntley’s memorial cross which was erected in his honour at Gallipoli, no doubt by his fellow sappers shortly after they were advised of his death. (see Footnotes)
James Johnston quickly recovered from his wounds and returned to Gallipoli a month later and was promoted to Sergeant.

158 James Johnston - Photo Courtesy Johnston Family Collection
158 James Johnston – Photo Courtesy Johnston Family Collection

James is to make his own mark in the true engineering sense. He is also remembered for inventing the “Johnston Shower” , a hybrid of war machinery parts made into a portable hot and cold water shower.
He was later recommended for a MSM and the French medal  Croix de Guerre in 1918.



Story Copyright © Vance Kelly 2015



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s