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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Walderne St Clair Tisdall VC

Arthur Walderne St Clair Tisdall was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on 21st July, 1890. He was educated at Bedford School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he got a double first in Classics as well as rowing for his college and being a member of the University OTC (Officer Training Corps).

He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as an Able Seaman when the First World War broke out, but soon afterwards he was commissioned and became a Sub-Lieutenant. He commanded 13 Platoon, D Company, Anson Battalion, Royal Naval Division during the landings at V Beach, Gallipoli, on 25th April, 1915, and it was during the landings that he rescued numerous wounded men whilst under heavy Turkish machine gun fire. His bravery was noted by many people at the time, but he was killed by a Turkish sniper on 6th May before it was officially recognised.

It was not until Major General Paris (the general commanding the Royal Naval Division) was made aware of Tisdall's actions on 25th April that an investigation was made, as a result of which a recommendation was made that he be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross. The official citation reads as follows:
'During the landing from the S.S. "River Clyde" at V Beach in the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April 1915, Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall, hearing wounded men on the beach calling for assistance, jumped into the water and pushing a boat in front of him, went to their rescue. He was, however, obliged to obtain help and took with him on two trips Leading Seaman Malia and on other trips Chief Petty Officer Perring and Leading Seaman Curtiss and Parkinson. In all Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall made four or five trips between the ship and the shore, and was thus responsible for rescuing several wounded men under heavy and accurate fire.

Owing to the fact that Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall and the platoon under his orders were on detached service at the time, and that this Officer was killed in action on the 6th May, it has only now been possible to obtain complete information as to the individuals who took part in this gallant act. Of these, Leading Seaman Fred Curtiss has been missing since the 4th June 1915
.'
London Gazette, 31st March 1916

Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Walderne St Clair Tisdall VC has no known grave, and his name is on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli (Panel 8-15) as well as on the memorial in the churchyard of St George's Church, Deal.

After his death The Naval and Military Press published a book of verses, letter, and remembrances about him.


It is worth noting that two of the men who helped Tisdall on 25th April (Chief Petty Officer (later Sub-Lieutenant) William Perring and Leading Seaman James Parkinson) were awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal (CGM) for their actions on the day.

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