Martlesham: 99-year-old biscuits from The First World War go up for auction

Chris Elmy of Lockdales with the First World War biscuits Chris Elmy of Lockdales with the First World War biscuits

Tuesday, June 10, 2014
12:11 PM

Two biscuits which survived the First World War will be up for sale at a Suffolk auction house next week.

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One of the biscuits going on sale at LockdalesOne of the biscuits going on sale at Lockdales

Bidding at Lockdales auctioneers in Martlesham will start at £60, but the worldwide interest by Great War collectors make a much higher final figure likely.

A soldier, L. B Charles who fought in the ill-fated battles of Gallipoli and the Dardanelles, returned to the UK with the biscuits.

It is believed the soldier in question was Lieutenant Lionel Bruce Charles of the 5th Battalion, The Queens Regiment, who is said to have lived for a time at Wroxham House, Norwich.

The biscuits been preserved over the past 99 years and now the bizarre war-time keepsakes are to be sold.

Each one has a label on that reads “Biscuits used by troops in Sulva Bay”, the peninsula captured by British forces.

James Sadler, the auction manager of Lockdales, said: “This 100th anniversary year since the start of The Great War makes all memorabilia from the period collectable, including biscuits.

“This lot is being viewed with great interest by many 1914-18 conflict collectors.”

The biscuits will be sold on June 19, the second day of the two-day fine arts auction.

In 1915 British and French forces launch an ill-fated naval attack on Turkish forces in the Dardanelles, the strategically vital strait in north-western Turkey separating Europe from Asia.

The attack opened on March 18 when six English and four French battleships headed towards the strait.

Although the Allies had bombarded and destroyed the Turkish forts near the entrance to the Dardanelles in the days leading up to the attack, the water was heavily mined, forcing the Allied navy to sweep the area before its fleet could set out.

The minesweepers did not manage to clear the area completely. Three of the 10 Allied battleships were sunk. Two more were badly damaged.

The Allied war command opted to delay the naval attack at the Dardanelles and combine it with a ground invasion of the Gallipoli Peninsula, which bordered the northern side of the strait.

By the time troops began to land on 25 April, the Turks had been given the time to prepare fortifications and the defending armies were now six times larger than when the campaign began.

Australian and New Zealand troops won a bridgehead at ‘Anzac Cove’. The British tried to land at five points around Cape Helles, but established footholds in only three. Thereafter little progress was made.

Amid sweltering and disease-ridden conditions, the deadlock dragged on into the summer.

In July the British reinforced the bridgehead at Anzac Cove and in early August landed more troops at Suvla Bay further to the north, to seize the Sari Bair heights and cut Turkish communications.

The offensive and the landings proved ineffectual within days, faced as they were with waves of costly counter-attacks.

Troops were evacuated in December 1915 and January 1916. The Turks had lost 300,000 men and the Allies around 214,000.

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