By the end of 1914, the war in France and Belgium had settled into trench warfare, with both sides dug into defences that were very difficult to break through. Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, put forward a plan to open up a Second Front against Germany and her allies by capturing the Dardanelles Straits. This would secure a sea route to Russia through the Black Sea, and also enable an attack on Turkey, Germany’s ally.
When an attempt to seize the Straits by naval power alone had failed, it was realised that the Gallipoli Peninsula to the north of the Straits would have to be secured first. Land attacks first made by British and French troops in February 1915 were largely unsuccessful. By the middle of 1915, hundreds of thousands of soldiers from Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand were employed in an effort to take Gallipoli from the Turkish and German defenders.
On 28th June, both the 7th and 8th Battalions of The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) were involved in an attack to take the high ground overlooking Gully Ravine. The Turkish trenches were heavily defended and the British suffered terrible casualties. Losses in the 7th and 8th Battalion were so high that the two units had to be merged into one. Casualties were particularly high among the officers and senior non-commissioned officers. As a result, the combined 7/8th Battalion was unable to take an active part in the rest of the campaign, although they did act as rear guard when it was finally decided to evacuate the Gallipoli Peninsula in January 1916.
From their landing at Gallipoli on 14th June 1915 until their departure on January 8th 1916, the 7th and 8th Battalions lost over 550 other ranks and 31 officers killed, with many hundreds more wounded. Included among the dead were the Commanding Officers of both battalions - Lieutenant Colonel Boyd Wilson of the 7th, and Lieutenant Colonel Hannan of the 8th.