WW1 Nurse Kate Luard’s links to Dorset

col-frank-luardKate Luard’s brother Colonel Frank Luard, Portsmouth Battalion of the Royal Marine Light Infantry, was as a Lt Colonel stationed at Portland and a resident of Weymouth, along with his brother Fred who had left the British West Indian Regiment and was now serving with the Dorset Militia.

A camp on the outskirts of Blandford is earmarked to be the main training camp. Frank and his men of the Portsmouth Battalion are at Forton Barracks, Gosport, when the decision is taken to seize the Dardenelles. Col Luard and his men march the 60 miles to Blandford and Frank writes to his father on 18 January 1915,

“I march by road with my 30 officers and 1000 men for Dorsetshire – my men are to be lodged and fed by Dorsetshire villagers – a new departure in English rural life”.

On Saturday 27 February 1915 the battalion is paraded in the pouring rain, followed by a two hour march to Shillingstone Station to be transported to the ‘Gloucester Castle’, setting sail from Avonmouth on 28 February for the Greek island of Lemnos. Eventually on 28 April 1915 the Portsmouth Battalion is ordered to disembark at Anzac Cove and under Col Luard comes under immediate attack.

Later, once back in Gallipoli after being treated in Alexandria for the wound he received two months earlier, he writes to his family in a letter dated July 11th 1915 and says:

“We did not go back to the trenches as expected … The men however don’t get much rest as we are digging new communication trenches …We lose a man or two each day as the enemy are shelling where they think we are working … The middle of the day is very hot – too hot for sleep – and pervaded with myriads of flies which cover your food, face and hands. We are in a good deal of trouble with diarrhoea – one part of the treatment is brandy and port …”

Two days after writing this letter Frank was killed in action, According to the official records he ‘died most gallantly at the head of his battalion whilst leading his men’. His grave remains in Gallipoli, his widow Ellie saying, ‘I wouldn’t take Frank’s body from the field of glory for anything – what could be finer than to lie there where his work was done that day’.

Frank’s two granddaughters live in Iwerne Minster, Dorset, and one of Kate’s and his great-nieces in Bridport, Dorset.