Goodbye Norfolk! Where did the British soldiers go?

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Goodbye Norfolk! Where did the British soldiers go?
Goodbye Norfolk! Where did the British soldiers go?

The mysterious disappearance of the soldiers of the Norfolk Regiment during the First World War became an "urban legend" and was reflected in the popular culture of the 20th century. It is noteworthy that even now the most incredible hypotheses are being considered.

Norfolk Regiment

Gallipoli's bloody beaches

After Turkey entered the war on the side of the German Empire and Austria-Hungary, the British and French realized that they might face new difficulties. A simple plan was worked out: to seize the Dardanelles Strait, which connects the Aegean and Marmara Seas. This would give the Entente solid strategic advantages. In general, England and France (and especially England) considered in the future the seizure of Constantinople, the complete withdrawal of the Ottoman Empire from the war and the opening of the sea route to Russia. The plans are truly Napoleonic. However, they were not destined to come true. Soon after its beginning, the military operation turned into a chaotic bloody mess, discouraging even seasoned combatants.

The operation did not work out from the very beginning. On March 18, 1915, the Entente ships entered the strait and were professionally fired upon by Turkish artillerymen. Some battleships were blown up by mines: three of them went to the bottom. This did not stop the Allies, and on April 25 they landed troops at Cape Helles. The Turks met the soldiers with heavy machine-gun fire. Only after the first day of the landing operation, the Allies lost 18 thousand people. The Entente fighters were able to gain a foothold on the coast, but further advancement was an extremely difficult task.


The command made attempts to expand the bridgehead, to move inland. All to no avail. It is worth saying that the conditions for ordinary soldiers were even worse than on the Western Front. Scorching heat, hot wind, dust. The bodies decayed very quickly, and armada of insects swarmed around them. In addition, the command did not supply the soldiers with medicines in the proper amount, so the wounds were often left untreated. In addition to all the troubles, there was an outbreak of dysentery - bloody diarrhea that quickly dehydrates the body.

In the end, even the main initiators of the event - the British - realized the dead end of the situation and on December 7, 1915, an order was given to start the evacuation. The total losses of the British alone (dead, wounded, missing) during the operation exceeded 100 thousand people. The main goals were not met.


The history of the famous Norfolk Regiment began in 1881, when it was formed from the 9th Infantry Regiment of the British Army. Mostly volunteers and the local militia entered there. In the first half of August 1915, battalions of the Norfolk regiment 1/4 (the first fraction of the fourth) and 1/5 (the first fraction of the fifth) landed in Suvla Bay and began to attack the village of Anafarta. The British faced a dangerous enemy - the soldiers of the 36th Turkish Division under the command of Major Munib Bey. Soon, the command sent the Sandringham Volunteer Company of the 1/5 battalion of the Norfolk Regiment to occupy Hill 60 (sometimes they say about the entire battalion in full strength). However, 267 men, led by Colonel Beech and Captain Beck, fell into a "strange" fog while advancing through the ravine. Eyewitnesses said that he blinded the gunners and they de facto could not provide support to the attackers. Actually, the latter was not required. When the fog cleared, neither the living soldiers of the Norfolk regiment, nor their bodies were in place. The unit seemed to "dissolve" in the darkness.

The materials on this case were declassified only in 1967, that is, more than half a century after the tragedy.Information about the strange fog blinding the military is contained in the official document The Final Report of the Dardanelles Commission, where the incident is being investigated.

The British, sensibly judging that the soldiers could be captured because of some unexpected situation, demanded to return them home. The Turks stated that they did not take any prisoners in this area and did not conduct any hostilities there at all.


The missing were still found. Already in 1918. There were no survivors. “We found the Norfolk battalion 'one fraction five' - 180 bodies in total: 122 Norfolk, several Ghent and Suffolk with Cheshire (from the battalion) 'two fraction four'. We've only been able to identify the corpses of Privates Barnaby and Cotter. The bodies were scattered over an area of ​​about a square mile, at least 800 yards beyond the leading edge of the Turks. Many of them were undoubtedly killed on the farm, as the local Turkish owner of the site told us that when he returned the farm was littered with (literally “covered”) with the decomposing bodies of British soldiers, which he threw into a small ravine. That is, the initial assumption is confirmed that they did not go deep into the enemy's defenses, but were destroyed one after another, with the exception of those who made it to the farm,”says the report of the officer who was in charge of the burials of the fallen soldiers.

Thief clouds

It would seem nothing supernatural. The soldiers entered into fire contact, something went wrong. The British were surrounded and defeated. But it is not only the Turks who refute this version, who, according to their statement, did not even know about the existence of the fighters of the 1/5 battalion. New Zealand soldiers watching the picture - allies of the British - also did not know about any battle. In addition, in his report to the higher department, Major General Ian Hamilton writes: "They (soldiers of the battalion of the 1/5 Norfolk regiment, - NS) went deep into the forest and were no longer visible and audible." That is, shots and shouts, apparently, no one heard.

Further, New Zealand fighters allegedly reported that they saw at the scene of the events a kind of cloud, made as if from "solid matter". There was a wind, but these objects did not react in any way. In total, they counted from 6 to 8. According to the testimonies of New Zealanders, a very strange picture emerges. Allegedly, the soldiers went into the fog and disappeared without a trace, not reaching height 60. True, this testimony is about battalion 1/4, not 1/5. Well, then the sources tell about absolutely incredible things. “About an hour after the last groups of soldiers disappeared into the cloud, she easily left the earth and, like any fog or cloud, slowly rose up and gathered the rest, similar to her clouds, mentioned at the beginning of the story. After examining them carefully again, we realized that they look like peas in a pod."


Is it worth talking about the public reaction, especially in the 60s, on the wave of general interest in UFOs? Of course, ufologists saw in this "the intrigues of alien civilizations", for some reason they threw the unfortunate soldiers from a great height. The nature of the damage is interesting. The report states that a farmer who found dead British soldiers behind the front lines stated: "The bodies of the soldiers were badly mutilated, the bones were broken."

The fate of the Norfolk Regiment

So what do we have? There was no death of the entire Norfolk regiment. And even many fighters of the 1/5 battalion returned home unharmed. But the fate of the unit that Colonel Beecham and Captain Beck led into battle remains a mystery. Of course, the death of several hundred soldiers on the battlefield during a war is a common occurrence. But it is with this story that very real oddities are connected. It is not clear, for example, what caused such strict secrecy. Why there is no evidence of a clash in the presence of the dead. The problem is also that we do not know whether any examination was carried out in relation to the bodies of the soldiers and what conclusions the experts made on the basis of the data obtained (and whether they made them).

The available documents allow us to speak with confidence only about a certain fog and British soldiers who died, probably already behind the front line. The stories about "alien ships", most likely, appeared after the release of the official data, and we cannot say with certainty about their source. It is quite possible that in reality the British soldiers were captured and executed by the Turks, who subsequently refused to take the blame and generally denied any clashes with battalion 1/5. Perhaps the soldiers died as a result of a battle about which the command knew nothing. These hypotheses, for all their shortcomings, look more realistic than the version about aliens.


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