Gallipoli Soldier’s Miraculous Story
This steel cased wrist watch belonged to Gallipoli veteran, Major George ‘Eric’ Hamilton Beamish OBE VD, 9th Company, Wellington Mounted Rifles, World War I.
Wrist watch belonging to Gallipoli veteran Eric Beamish
His story is remarkable in that he miraculously survived a gunshot wound to the chest at Gallipoli. The bullet lodged in his chest just millimetres from his heart where it remained for the rest of his life as his surgeons were unwilling to remove it due to its location.
Lieutenant Beamish, originally a sheep farmer from the Hawkes Bay, embarked from New Zealand in February 1915. After training with the NZ Mounted Rifles, Beamish headed for the Gallipoli Peninsula and was involved in the August Offensive that saw the New Zealanders take Chunuk Bair.
The Wellington Mounted Rifles along with other units including the Maori Contingent took a number of strategic positions as they moved forward up the ridge on 6-7 August and eventually captured Table Top (Pilav Tepe). After other units including the Wellington Infantry Battalion captured Chunuk Bair, the decision was to ‘hold’ until relieved, coming under heavy fire from Ottoman Turkish snipers, artillery and counterattacks.
On 9 August, on Table Top, Eric Beamish received a gunshot wound to the chest, an injury that would see him evacuated off the peninsula and transferred to England for a long period of convalescence.
Eric Beamish (now promoted), never returned to the front line and carried out administrative duties including company commander at the Hornchurch and Walton-on-Thames convalescent hospitals and Adjutant and Quartermaster at the New Zealand Discharge Depot in Torquay, until returning home on 12 January 1920. Whilst carrying out his duties, he was awarded the OBE “In recognition of valuable services rendered in connection with the war”.
Once home, his injury caused him problems for the rest of his life and with the bullet lodged in his chest he received a disability pension. Along with the wrist watch, the National Army Museum also holds a number of his artefacts including the x-ray copy that clearly shows the Ottoman Turkish bullet.
In 2019, Eric Beamish’s grandson took the watch back to Gallipoli and laid it on the sand at Anzac Cove, close to Table Top where his grandfather fought.