Colin Neil's Story.
Colin Neil Cameron was born in Upton, near Macclesfield, on 5th May 1887. The second of five children, he was baptised at St Michael's Church, Macclesfield on 20th November 1887.
His father, William Hay Leith Cameron (a sail maker turned shirt manufacturer originally from Aberdeenshire) and mother Beatrice (daughter of John Malam, Gentleman), were married at St George's Church, Poynton on 30th December 1879, the ceremony being performed by Beatrice's uncle William Malam, the Vicar of Buxton. The couple initially resided at Bollin Fee, Wilmslow, before settling in the Upton area between Prestbury and Macclesfield.
By the time of the 1901 Census, the family was residing at Holly Bank, off Chester Road and thirteen year old Colin, in preparation for his entry into the family business, was admitted to Edinburgh Academy, where he studied for the next four years. He subsequently attended Manchester Technical College on Sackville Street and it was here that he gained his initial military experience, as a Cadet with the Manchester University Officers Training Corps.
In April 1909, Colin was gazetted for an officer commission in the the local 7th Battalion (Territorial Force) of the Cheshire Regiment, and by 1911 he was employed in the family shirt manufacturing business as a salesman.
Following a period of training in various locations in the south of England, the 7th Cheshire’s, as part of 159th Brigade, 53rd (Welsh) Division, received orders to equip for service in an undisclosed location in the Mediterranean. In July 1915 they sailed from Devonport to Alexandria in Egypt, then onto the island of Lemnos on the 4th August. On the evening of 8th August, they arrived off the coast of Gallipoli and proceeded to make a landing at “C” Beach, Suvla Bay, on the following day. Despite three frustrating weeks aboard ship, no official word as to their destination, and a sleepless night having sat on deck, patiently awaiting their turn to disembark, the troops of the 159th Brigade were anxious to acquit themselves.
Once landed, confusion and doubt set in as they were hurriedly issued with a vague order to “Attack the Turks”. The brigade was ill-prepared, with little ammunition and no supporting artillery or transport; additionally, the officers had not been issued with maps prior to their arrival and very little reconnaissance or planning had been carried out. Despite this, three battalions, including the 1/7th Cheshires, were ordered to advance inland towards the high ground. They moved forward through the heavy scrub to a line south of a strongly held position known as Sulajik Farm, where they came under steady fire from the Turkish defenders. By the time darkness had fallen, the units of the 159th had become fragmented, with many men lost behind enemy lines. At 3:00 a.m. on the 10th August, the Brigade (or what was left of it) was ordered to prepare for a dawn attack on the important high ground known as Scimitar Hill. At 6:00 a.m. portions of the 1/7th Cheshires, followed by the 4th Welch, advanced a few hundred yards but were soon pinned down by a stream of enemy fire. Casualties mounted and morale flagged as a further advance at 5:00 p.m. saw a number of men killed, or wounded and left to perish in the scrub, which by now was burning fiercely.
Through poor co-ordination, indecision and incompetence, the fighting ability of the 159th Brigade was effectively ruined within 48 hours of its arrival. The 1/7th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment had lost 18 officers and men confirmed killed, 154 wounded, and 288 missing. Captain Colin Neil Cameron was amongst the latter as his body was never identified.
At the time of his death his official residence was listed as Hill Crest, Edgeley, nr. Stockport.
Captain Colin Neil Cameron has no known grave and is commemorated on panel ref. 75 to 77 on the Helles memorial at Gallipoli. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Captain Colin Neil Cameron, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
In Macclesfield, Captain Cameron is commemorated on the Park Green, Town Hall, St Michael's Church, King's School and Park Green Club war memorials.
Elsewhere, he is commemorated on the Manchester Technical College war memorial (now part of Manchester University).
Research by Rosie Rowley and others, of Macclesfield.