On the first day of work experience we were shown how to handle the archive material and how to use the museum’s database- Modes. We were given the name of a past Fusilier, William Beeson, and told that using the museum’s resources we had to uncover his story. After searching through the archives we came across Beeson’s Soldier’s book, with a photograph enclosed, along with information concerning his origins and personal life. We discovered through further research that Lance Corporal William Beeson was in the 2nd battalion Royal Fusiliers, and enlisted in 1910 at the age of 19 years and 10 months. Beeson then went on to serve in East Asia. Unfortunately Beeson was killed in action during the battle of Gallipoli, in Turkey, on 28th April 1915, three days after battle began. This did not give us much to research about Beeson and so we decided to find out more about the battle itself, and the 2nd battalion’s role in the battle.
We learnt that the Allies aimed to remove the Ottoman Empire from WW1 by capturing Constantinople, via Gallipoli. Their invasion plans were foreseen by the Turks, allowing the Turkish army to prepare for the battle by increasing their forces six fold. Therefore when the Allied forces invaded on the 25th April, they were met by heavy opposition and after months of futile trench warfare, many deaths and little progress, the 2nd Battalion, along with the rest of the Allied forces, were evacuated from Gallipoli in January 1916.
William Beeson’s story was typical of many WW1 soldiers, and although we do not know very much about Beeson’s time in the army, his story demonstrates the brutality and tragedy of the war, which caused many young men to lose their lives.