Men from the Royal Sandringham estate remembered at Gallipoli service

Robert Crowe receives a cup from King George VI
Robert Crowe receives a cup from King George VI
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A century after men from Sandringham charged into battle in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign, a special service is being held to honour them.

John Crowe’s father Robert was among the men from the estate who fought on the Turkish peninsula on August 12, 1915.

Robert Crowe and his colleagues in Egypt

Robert Crowe and his colleagues in Egypt

He has helped to organise a service in St Nicholas Church, Dersingham, on Saturday to remember the 5th Norfolk battalion and others who fought in Gallipoli.

About 58,000 Allied soldiers died in the campaign, which was devised by Winston Churchill to open up the Dardanelles Straits, while forcing Turkey out of the war.

But the naval and land offensive did not make much headway after months due to ineffectual bombardments and fierce Turkish opposition.

Mr Crowe, 75, of London, said: “It was supposed to be a sideshow but resulted in an enormous loss of life for both the Allied forces and defenders.

Sandringham estate worker Robert Crowe in his First World War uniform

Sandringham estate worker Robert Crowe in his First World War uniform

“My father did not speak about Gallipoli often but he always spoke highly of the Turkish soldiers and was very impressed by them.”

Robert and the other volunteers from Sandringham answered the call shortly after hostilities broke out and were led by land agent Capt Frank Beck, who was among the 18 men from the estate to die at Gallipoli.

Mr Crowe said: “Frank Beck was an honourable man who didn’t have to go to war but received special permission to go.

“My father remembered going to a special event at the agent’s house before they departed. He said goodbye to Mr Beck but he replied: ‘No Crowe, I’m not your captain in peacetime to abandon you in war. I’m coming as well’.”

Robert suffered a shrapnel wound to his back shortly after the Norfolks went into action. He spent the rest of the war in the Middle East.

When he returned to England, Robert got married to Harriet and they went on to have six children

In 1930, he was appointed head stockman for the estate’s Red Poll herd at Appleton. A proud moment was when he was presented with a cup at the Royal Norfolk Show by King George VI when it was held at Anmer in 1950. He died in 1963.

Mr Crowe is urging people to attend the service on Saturday, which starts at 3pm.

The Bishop of Lynn, the Rt Rev Jonathan Meyrick, will be conducting the service, which will be attended by representatives from Turkey, Australia, New Zealand and France.

Mr Crowe, who founded Gallipoli and Dardanelles International, said: “We would very much welcome anyone to the service.” For more see www.gdinternational.org.uk