Gurkha soldiers with Lawrence of ArabiaNovember 30, 2018
Falklands MemorialMay 3, 2019
The Gurkha Museum acquires the medals of Major Cecil Allanson, commander of the 1st/6th Gurkha Rifles at Sari Bair, August 1915.
In February 2019, the medals of Major (later Colonel) Cecil Allanson were purchased by the 6th Queen Elizabeth’s Own Gurkha Rifles Regimental Association and Trust, and generously gifted to The Gurkha Museum. The medal group joins the medals of Gambirsing Pun and Capt Phipson, which had previously been gifted to the Museum and are on permanent display. To give an idea of the significance of these medals, the story of Sari Bair is given below.
At the beginning of August 1915, after months of stalemate and disease, a final attempt was made to gain control of the Gallipoli peninsula by British, Gurkha and allied troops. The main focus of the attack was a range of hills named Sari Bair. The attacks began on the morning of August 6th, with two columns attempting to gain the high points of the Sari Bair range. One of these columns contained the 1/6GR, commanded by Major Cecil Allanson. After an advance marred by attrition, Allanson and his men finally moved into position to launch an assault on the high point known as Hill Q on the evening of August 8th, and shortly after 5am on the morning of the 9th 1/6GR attacked the Ottoman positions on the hill above them.
The initial plan of attack had depended on 1/6GR being supported by other battalions, but these had been either lost or pinned down, and so the Gurkhas attacked without support. Despite this they managed to successfully drive the Turkish defenders off the ridge of Hill Q, suffering heavy losses in the process. This marked the only time an Allied force successfully gained control of their high-ground objectives during the entire Gallipoli campaign. Turkish troops counterattacked almost immediately. This fresh assault on the battalion led to every British officer in the 1/6GR being killed or wounded, except for the Medical Officer Capt Phipson. Together with Subedar-Major Gambirsing Pun, who spoke no English and relied on Capt Phipson to interpret for him, he had to carry out the battalion’s withdrawal which was accomplished in good order. Gambirsing was later awarded the MC for his leadership and gallantry. Total casualties amounted to 204 all ranks in three days fighting, of whom 45 were killed, three of them British officers. Allanson and Phipson were awarded the DSO, and of the many Battle Honours awarded to 6GR “Sari Bair” must rank as outstanding.