George Leonard Cheesman M.A.
Fellow and Lecturer, New College Oxford
George Leonard Cheesman, is my third cousin twice removed on my mothers side. As any genealogist will tell you, this means we share little DNA, but this doesn't stop me being proud of ancestor who achieved much but might have achieved much more if he hadn't died in in the fighting on Chunuk Bair above Anzac Cove in the early days of World War One.
The Cheesman (sometimes Cheeseman) family were originally builders in Brighton before the expansion of the Regency period, which put them in a good position to expand into shipping and other business ventures. The family played an important part in the business and life of Brighton until about 1900. George was a student at Winchester College and won a Classical Scholarship to New College, Oxford, leading to a double first degree in 1903. He went on to become a respected historian and writer as well as teaching at Winchester College.
When World War One broke out George applied for a commission and was enlisted as a temporary lieutenant in the 10th Battalion, Hampshire Regiment and posted to Gallipoli along with four other Wykehamists (students at Winchester College).
The Gallipoli campaign (also known as the Dardenelles) was a long and bloody series of battles whereby British forces (including many Australian and New Zealand units) attempted to establish a beachead on the Turkish Gallipoli peninsula from April 1915, ending in stalemate in early 1916. The initial invasion at Anzac Cove resulted in many British deaths because the British maps were inaccurate (ref.1) and the landing point was overlooked by the Turkish
battle of Chunuk Bair from May 8th 1915 was a British forces assault to take the high ground overlooking Anzac Cove. Despite huge losses the British forces managed to take the area. This was considered a victory. George died in bloody fighting on May 10th 1915 when the Turkish forces returned and retook the site with further large losses on both sides. The Gallipoli campaign ended in a stalemate which is reckoned to have cost about 250,000 lives on each side.
A digital copy of the war diary for the 10th Hampshire Regiment for the battle in which George died is available on the Ancestry website. George isn't directly mentioned but his name appears in appendix 1 of the war diary. This mentions the involvement of Ghurkha and Indian forces as well as 'colonials'.
There is an informative page about George in the Winchester College Great War Roll of Honour , World War One Biographies, page 10.
ŠJohn Hoare 2020
Website links seen 13 August 2020 -
Battle of Chunuk Bair war diary on Ancestry website seen 18 August 2020 -
UK WWI War Diaries (Gallipoli and Dardanelles), 1914-1916 > Hampshire Regiment. > 10th (Irish) Division > Piece 4296: 29 Infantry Brigade: 10 Battalion Hampshire Regiment (1915 Jul-Sep) p.p.14-18
Ref. 1 'inaccurate maps' statement by tour guide May 2011